Monday, 25 October 2010

Bienvenue a Ventenac!

Dave O got my message – “Bring earplugs. Seriously.” – and complied. We pinged and ponged beside la cave as we talked over the problems he’d had buying his flat in Catford. A beer, two beers and a third, and the holiday had started. The fun had been organised thus:

On the top floor: Dave O and me; Vin and Olly; Dom and Julia.
On the middle floor: Hannah and Tom; the Lovely Colin and the Lovely Jane; Anna Mc, Chaz, Clarkey and Sally.
On the ground floor: Rob

Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Jones Baptism

The ceremony was odd. I could handle that it was in my old church, although I was a little perturbed by the fact that my old school joined onto it. Was it seventeen years since I’d used that door last? Fifteen? Weirder still, the minister used to be my scoutmaster. The past was dripping down the walls, it seemed. But not the same – was this room always this small? Surely not.

And who was the Godfather? Well, there were two - Owen and me.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Curry at Steele Road

Beth is getting bigger. Due at Christmas, but she thinks the doctors have underestimated the duration of the pregnancy by a few weeks; they think that the baby will come three weeks later than she does. I filled them in on the plan for Japan, and talked about Dad’s AA meetings with Owen. “I’ve been to them too,” he said, “and they’re really good. Tough work, like, but good.” He put down his Strongbow as he spoke. “But they only work if you want them to work. If you want to quit.” Quite.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Nothing flash

Great pleasure is found in the simplest of simple things. Food and wine, good company. A shared meal, shared smiles. We went out for dinner. Nothing flash – Zizzi at the Triangle, in fact – but pleasant enough to be a treat. A beautiful montepulciano, a couple of pizzas, a smooch, and a cuddle in the taxi home. It only takes these little things. Bliss.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

And then, soothing and calm, an email from Dominic

Civil unrest across France! Oil refineries blockaded! Petrol stations running dry! Schoolchildren on the streets, burning wheelie bins and overturning cars! Aiports closed, flights cancelled! And - if the popular UK press are to be believed - rivers of blood flowing through the streets. Could it be that bad? Surely not.

And then, sooting and calm, an email from Dominic arrives:

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Vin's sister emails

"Right, for all those relying on outbound or return travel by car for the holiday, you might want to start planning a contingency.

"There is currently ‘a bit of a situation’ developing throughout France, as you might be aware. Estimates on the wires are that the petrol supplies in France are only going to last another two or three days if current levels of striking continue (those on flights might want to check them too as apparently some are being cancelled).

A gift from the cat.


Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Pub quiz questions, part 3

Put thefollowing into height order, smallest first
  • Kenny Baker (aka R2D2)
  • Warwick Davies (aka Willow)
  • Verne Troyer (aka Mini-Me)
  • Hervé Jean-Pierre Villechaize (aka Tatoo in Fantasy Island, Nick Nack in the Man with the Golden Gun)

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Pub quiz questions, part 2

True or False:
  • Cleopatra lived closer in time to the moon landings than to the building of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
  • The scotch egg is an English invention.
  • Pitt the Elder died much younger than Pitt the Younger, who died much older.
  • Lincoln Cathedral was once the tallest building in the world.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Pub quiz questions, part 1

Poetry and performance round
- perform this poem through the medium of spoken word and expressive dance. Your performance must include a full reading of the poem.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Robbie's getting married

That's right, married. Blimey! The sly fox had kept it under his hat since back in the summertime. He's asked Rachel up a hill in the Peak District, back on their anniversary in July, maybe August. I was full of questions: where? when? In Heron House, as it happens, and during the middle of December too. Heron House, then the Midland Hotel, the Christmas markets, and Sam's Chop House for food. Grand!

What struck me was the quick turnaround between proposal and the big day. Consider the others: Ange and Lewis, two years; Durex and Whelan, eighteen months; Guardi and Vicky, eighteen months; Whitehouse and Flora, eighteen months; John and Zoe, fifteen months; Col and Jane, at least a year; Robbie and Rachel, five months. Wow!

I wonder who's next. Ollie and Zoe? Chubb and Steve?

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Sam, Jacqui, and so it goes...

I went to the Briton's with Sam and jacqui for a catch up. It was the first time we'd talked over the plan for Japan. Sam would have been my first choice for a reference, but - based on what I'd asked the JET Office - I chose not to ask her. "You're not allowed to ask a friend," I explained.
"Charming!" said Jacqui.
"It's not like that Jacqui, I promise."
"So I'm not your friend?"

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Driving back from Wellingborough gave space to reflect, space I’d lacked all weekend. My family, my father, my brother and my past; faces flashing around me as Radio 4 echoed in my ears. Weirdness and unease, coupled with familiarity, an unsettling scent of déjà vu, through-laid with relief at moving away. The long cloud of Japan offers soothing shade from the overwhelming heat of a small town past. My small town past.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

My bed tonight.

Wow, it's great to be back in Wellingborough... kind of.

Friday, 1 October 2010

"...the wallflower demeanour of many of their songs..."

An intern from a nearby radio station wanders over on in his cigarette break, watches the awkwardness unfold. "Who are the band?" he asks. "Belle and Sebastian," I reply, and he splutters, pulls his hooded top up over his head and blushes crimson. "Fuck," he says, "that's the most embarrassing thing I've ever said."

Good article by Laura Barton in today's Guardian.

It turns out...

...that the cycle rack doesn't fit into the Whizzgo van. Drat!