2008 — 2 January: Wednesday, and relaxing just a little

Back to work, please, everyone. Keep those pension funds nice and healthy for us grey-haired folk!

I'm listening to an interview with Nick Lowe (from July 2007) on NPR — his new album is amusingly called "At your age?" I gather. Well, at my age, I can still recall his early work. The first cuppa of the day is now working on the thirst, and I'm vaguely considering getting dressed and feeding myself. The snail mail haul1 consists of an Xmas card from Big Bro and les girls downunder "all looking forward to your visit in 2008" (plus his annual round robin). Methinks I shall have to get myself one of these fancy colour printers. I can't be outcomputered by the NZ branch of the family, can I?

For that matter, I really should set about writing the rest of my own cards now that Brynja's Pritt Stick has worked its wonders. Gosh! Can Christy Turlington really be 39 today?! (Amazing what passes for news, isn't it?)

What else?

Once again, we shall have to wait and see. The highlight will be meeting Iris for lunch, I predict. The lowlight will be removing mud from my trousers and socks. I wonder how Christa managed this trick? Oh well, brekkie beckons (or will, when I make it).

Mournful Mama

I have to confess I just do not understand my mother.2 You may recall I had a terse ansaphone request to call her waiting when I got home, quite late, yesterday evening. Well, after the 25-minute 'phone conversation that has just concluded I am further than ever from a meeting, as it were, of our minds. As I observed here it's just remotely possible that there's a tad of emotional dysfunctionality floating around this twig of my family. Once again, for example, I learned that she's been totally alone for the last 30+ years. I mildly tried to suggest that her situation, while sad, is not entirely without precedent. Her older sister Peg lost Graham 18 years ago. Her younger sister Mary lost Rex some years later. Her sister-in-law Ivy lost John (my mother's brother) in March 2004 (and our attendance at his funeral was marred by Christa's one speeding fine as we tried not to arrive late). Heavens to Betsey, even her own younger son (me, that is) has just recently been bereaved and is consequently both alone and not exactly cheerful right now! Water off a duck's back, I tell you. To add to her (self-imposed) misery, she'd already decided the reason I wasn't answering her phone calls must therefore be that I was down in NZ doubtless enjoying myself while leaving her alone. Heaven forbid!

So now for an anecdote I held back at the time of that pre-Christmas meeting: dear Mama had already suggested she would make some small financial "contribution" towards the cost of Christa's funeral. (Not needed, I hasten to add, but still a genuinely nice gesture on her part.) However, the mooted "cheque in the post" (recall Billy Bunter and the Postal Order from Pater that never actually arrived) turned within an hour (in a return 'phone call) into an envelope of cash3 to be physically handed over on my next visit. Said visit duly occurred and when Dennis and I watched her rooting around in her dining room cabinet the thought simultaneously crossed both our minds that an envelope4 might well be about to appear.

Words don't always fail me. The best one here, I think, is "priceless"! And, yes, I am actually smiling (albeit with exasperation).

Move along there... department

In happier news, I finally got the round tuit that enabled me to pay in a minor-league ERNIE cheque (I still can't do anything with the ones that keep showing up for Christa, of course, but I've now applied a minor spark to the blue touchpaper by emailing my man in her bank to inquire mildly whether it's really the case that I should have heard nothing from their solicitors for over a month). The lunch with Iris at the Brambridge garden centre was delicious, and she has suggested I might like to pop my head round the door of the next monthly meeting of the MQ Pub lunch, which happens to be tomorrow, and is a handy excuse for a variety of retired IBMers to gather for a jar and a jaw, I assume. Mind you, the only time I ever had any work involvement with MQ was when young Tony Davison asked me to write a paragraph summarising it for the purposes of our application for a Queen's Award — I obviously didn't do this to the necessary standard, as I don't recall our winning that award...

In other news... department

I popped into Southampton's Apple store this afternoon to inspect (well, drool over, really) the range of iPods but came, like John Ebdon, to no fixed conclusion. Plus I topped up the mobile I'd bought for Christa; it was down to its last £13 or so — so I won't be calling Junior in Thailand! I also parked in my first multi-storey car park. And nearly removed my first hub cap on one of the damned turns in it. Yes, yes, I know this is nothing new to all you experienced drivers, but this isn't even my third full month of driving!

Dammit, Janet! I forgot (yesterday) to ask Andrew for the acetone that (it's claimed) will see off the remainder of the duct tape glue residue on the car where the "L" plates were attached. Just as well; it's probably highly carcinogenic, like the stuff we used in Hawker Siddeley for degreasing metal. It was rumoured a chap once fell into a tank of the stuff (a vapour heavier than air, but invisible) and drowned, but I suspect that was just an apprentice piece of apochrypha (if such a word exists).

Time now is 23:40 and I've just finished re-watching the excellent film V for Vendetta (based, of course, on Alan Moore's graphic novel, but scripted by the Wachowski brothers). I'm also delighted to report that Aunty Ivy has advised me about mud removal, Mike has remembered where he put Andrew's acetone, and Brian has some even better chemical gunk designed specifically to soften and remove such adhesives: "Servisol Label Remover 130". I'm less pleased at the forecast of snow, of course.



1  And yet another set of shreddable credit card cheques. I won't name the guilty institution, save to say I'll not be going into Alliance with them, in Leicester or anywhere else.
2  Indeed, I fear anyone on more than nodding acquaintance terms with me has probably already been bored more than half to death more than once (I'm sorry!) by hearing about this weird relationship. It's worth noting here that Christa's patience with her mother-in-law lasted a lot longer than I could have believed which I take as yet another sign of the depth of her affection for me. It's equally worth noting that her patience did not last until the day she died. Good for her!
3  I won my private bet with Christa that this was exactly what would happen, by the way..
4  Not so! What appeared was a block of Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate which was ceremoniously handed over to Dennis as a "thank you" for driving me up there. (He had, of course, been accompanying me as a co-pilot while assessing my driving progress under the terms of the "Pass Plus" driving tuition that smooths off some of the rougher edges after the basic driving test has been passed.) Hence, as I reported at the time a) his state of utter gobsmackedness(!) and b) the briefly increased water content of my eyeballs as soon as I was safely out of sight of her house.