Friday, July 20, 2012

2012 - 50

School's Out, Hell Awaits

I seem to think that I'm going to get bored rigid for the next 6 weeks, despite the fact I've spent much of the last three summers not working, for one reason or another, and I can't remember being terminally bored for any of them; but saying that, I was recovering from very painful things, all three times.

I don't know if I've had any affect on it, but the last six weeks (yeah, I ain't been there for two of them) have been the quietest in the school's history; so I'd like to think we're doing something right.

I didn't do much today; went and saw a few people, wished them happy hols and all that. Decided not to go to work's do tonight and ended up going anyhow. It was good to see some of them out of work, but I stayed for a beer and quietly slipped out as all were getting drunk around me. I've barely drunk anything for three weeks, so I didn't want to be pissed and in town.

I got home; had a long, relaxing bath and had this ridiculous idea of going to bed early...

Saturday

The busiest weekend of my summer so far; possibly even the year. Yes, the week of my 50th was hectic, but it seems that just about every plan we have for the next 6 weeks happens over this weekend. My trip to the work’s do on Friday night kick started it and Saturday morning I got up with the knowledge that not only was I going to meet a friend who I have known for nearly 15 years, yet never been in the same room with; but we (the wife and I) were co-hosting the almost annual Burwood Road BBQ and expecting to see a number of people who we haven’t seen in a while.

The morning was bright and warm and augured well for the rest of the day; I pottered about until 12.45 when me and the wife ventured into town to meet Will Vigar and his partner Andy. I first ‘met’ Will on the old Comics International Yahoo Group back in 1998 and he slotted into the organised chaos extremely quickly. Illness prevented him from being an active part of the group for a year or so, but when he recovered, he was back in full pelt, nerding it up with the rest of us geeks. Will began to meet the rest of the gang, but I rarely ventured far from the confines of Shoesville and even when I did, circumstance seemed to get in the way of this meeting, that seemed like it was never actually going to happen.

Three years ago, while I was working with a kid who was in a prison in Leeds and while Will was living in what is probably his spiritual home, doing a fine arts degree. I had a day up in Leeds and it seemed logical to meet up; but the fates conspired to prevent it. I got lost, totally through my own stupidity; completely missed the window of opportunity to meet him and felt so bad about it, I neglected to let him know. Then he moved back down to Southampton and the distance was just as problematic. We hoped they’d make it up for our 25th anniversary party last year, especially as so many of the small and select group from that CI group were still very much in touch, via other social networking media. But illness got in the way again. Was it ever going to happen?

So, when we pulled up outside the Ibis hotel in sunny Pubtown at 1pm, I recognised him immediately – we’d shared so many photos over the years, it would have been terribly amiss of me to have not recognised him. We did our greetings and got up to the local pub as quick as we could. Had some lunch and sat around chatting, laughing and acting like we see each other every week. Even Andy, who I’d heard was notoriously quiet, was in the thick of funny anecdotes and stories from our pasts. It was a great lunch, spoiled by some mediocre food (well, that was the wife’s opinion of the food, but…).

We dropped them off, took the dogs out for a walk, got home and geared up for the BBQ round at RnB’s. The weather was still perfect for an outside do and by the time I got there – a while after the wife – it was pretty much in the swing. There was the obligatory 45 minutes of pyromaniac japes; but I think for the first time ever, nothing was burned to a crisp. I expect no one will be suffering from dodgy BBQ food this morning. As the evening wore down, we retired to Roger’s veranda, where the res of us chewed the fat, talked music, drugs, food, lasers and whatever came out in the course of the conversation and we were never short of something to comment on.

I had a poignant moment with a very old and dear friend and I think we both got a little choked up about the way the last few years have gone and she surprised me so unbelievably (but really happily) by her devotion to something I would never have expected of her – a dog. Her dog.

Will and Andy poured themselves into a taxi at midnight and we scrounged a lift home from Mammary Lass, mainly because the wife was as pissed as a fart. My final thought of Will was that it would be a travesty if we didn’t hook up again inside the next 15 years.

Sunday, Part One

I didn’t get drunk, so I didn’t have a hangover. I got up just after 9 and sorted a few things out. During the morning yesterday, I took a call from my brother. Those of you that know Steve will know that he has two modes – the most common one being silent and stoic and the other being the ability to incessantly talk to the level where he makes me seem quite reserved. He started to tell me about his new dog and 35 minutes later, I had to tell him to shut up. I could have given him the appropriate advice and told him most of what he told me in a few minutes – which I eventually did – and as a result, today at 4pm, our motley crew of hounds will meet his two Weimaraners or however you spell them. His boy – Bailey – has been with them since he was a pup and is as good as gold; but Roxy (which was Lexy’s name when we got her) is a rehome and she is currently in a state of limbo as to what he position is within her new pack; she’s also displaying aggression to other dogs and Steve would really prefer, as I do with mine, for his dog to get on well with all other dogs.

So my mission, Jim, for this afternoon is to use my newly discovered Cesar Milan ability to be alpha male/dog. I fully expect a fight between Roxy and Marley; however, I also rank the chances of my bully backing down pretty quickly in the face of a bigger, potentially more violent, bitch. Plus, this new dog has only recently been spayed and it’ll take a few weeks more for her hormones to get in balance. I’ve yet to meet the dog, but I suspect that he’s going to have a far easier job with his two than we did with our four. More on this later.

Also today, I’ve been making a start to the idea that seems to have become my writing project for the summer by default. Under the working title of Old Man, it’s a story about a 300 year old man. I’ve thrown down about 1300 words this morning. Then I wrote this, also on the netbook, on the patio, and now I’m going to pick some more raspberries. Part two to follow…

Sunday, Part Two

Well, I can honestly say I didn’t expect that. To say we were both proud of Marley yesterday would be an understatement. Essentially Roxy is an ickle kitten who’s a bit insecure; Marley put her in her place pretty quickly and as they are roughly the same size (amazingly), Roxy was following her new role model around. There were a few snarls, but essentially Marley behaved completely out of character and acted as the responsible dog. I don’t think Steve will have any problems as she settles in.

Adam Scott threw away the Open in almost spectacular fashion; but strangely, because this weekend has been so jam-packed, I’ve barely had an hour in front of the telly. The lure of golf has waned over the last few years.

Bradley Sideburns won the cycle jaunt round France and is now being called a National Sporting Great; and probably justifiably, especially as he doesn’t do drugs. I expect a number of extra National Sporting Greats to emerge over the next few weeks.

Monday

I got too much sun in the wrong places. Today, or to be specific this morning, I am in the shade with just my white legs on show. It’s 10.50 and the temperature on the patio is already 24 degrees. If you saw me and were of a certain age, you would think a knotted handkerchief and a Hitler moustache would make me look just like Monty Python’s Gumby. I like singlets…

I was up at 7.55am; the washing was out by 8.30; hovering, emptying of washing machine and dishwasher and cleaning the ducks out have all been done and I now have a vast expanse of time ahead of me.

Stuff

  • I have been listening to PiL; BUH; Bowie; Triple S as background muzak; and at the moment Radio 6 Music; which continues to underwhelm me. Is there even a point to Lauren Laverne?
  • The raspberry count so far this summer? 7½lbs. Number of plums and apricots on the trees? Zero. Apples? Far too many again. Rhubarb – Triffid-like.
  • I was wrong at least three times on Saturday.
  • Thwaites do a beer called Triple ‘C’.
  • Did you know that HP sauce has tamarinds in it? They collect up a group of these little monkeys before making a batch and then put them in an olive oil press and squeeze tamarind juice out of them. Apparently they have to give the manufacturers a letter of consent.
  • I had a proper Cuban cigar; I felt like J. Jonah Jameson and barked some orders that were completely misunderstood by non-geeks.
  • As if being called Clarence is bad enough; do they have to shorten it to Clarry?
  • Monster trunks.

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