2008 — 3 September: Wednesday

Aah, the soothing sound of no rain. Time for tonight's picture of Christa (probably taken on a return visit1 to our friends Hugh and Yvonne in Old Windsor shortly after we'd moved down here) then I'm off to beddy-bye:

Christa and Peter in Albany Road, Old Windsor, 1982?

Yet more supplies shopping later today; fingers crossed, as I'm predicting a trip into Eastleigh in search of some more well-fired bread. Big Bro's breakfasts made rather large inroads into my little freezer stockpile.

"How do you like Kipling...?"

"... I don't know, you naughty boy, I've never kippled!"2 A good joke that the Good Doctor (Asimov) analyses briefly in his Treasury of Humor. Kipling, of course, kept six honest serving men who taught him all he knew.3 Quite a lot of what little I know came from Asimov and from a set of blue paperbacks (Pelicans). I was amazed to learn today that there was also a series of "Little Blue Books" published and sold in vast quantities in North America by a chap I'd never heard of called Emanuel Haldeman-Julius. There's a lovely article about him by Rolf Potts. Snippet:

A cigar enthusiast, Haldeman-Julius rose each morning to smoke and sort through mail orders. He liked to note that Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, and Franklin P. Adams were regular customers — and when he received an order from a certain Haile Selassie of Abyssinia (grammar books, a rhyming dictionary, two crossword puzzle books, a joke book, and a copy of What Every Married Woman Should Know), he quipped that "the Lion of Judah reads practically the same kind of books which would appeal to an intelligent taxi driver, with a few sexology titles thrown in."

Rolf Potts in The Believer

Breakfast is beckoning... it's 09:44 and the sun is shining.

Your cheque is in the post... dept.

I know it's one of the three great lies, along with the phrase "Of course I love you."

Dear Mama has delayed my breakfast. It's 10:59 and I can now finally tuck in after I've just been talking to her. She's somewhat confused and tells me it's about time I went up there to sort out her affairs. So she's already half-forgotten the visit from Bro and me nearly two weeks ago, during which I collected her Title Deeds, her will, and various bits and bobs for safe(r) keeping down here. She also claims her sister Peg was "already dead" when we took her to say goodbye in the nursing home during that visit, and that she certainly can't leave the house to attend Peg's funeral.

The good news (such as it is) and the nominal topic for today's call is that a missing cheque has been re-issued to her. The bad news is that this cheque was not sent directly to her bank, despite my written instructions, and (inevitably) she now cannot find her cheque book with any paying-in slips. By the time she does, she will doubtless have forgotten where the re-issued cheque has been put in the meantime and the whole sorry saga will recycle like a broken record until the Crack of Doom.

Still, my Sudoku broken record for a "standard" puzzle now stands at 2 minutes 15 seconds. Time for lunch, or time to shop? Shop, methinks. It's 12:16 and still sunny.

Funereal pacing

Gracious me. I have to drag my sorry self up to the West Midlands via Northampton to arrive in time for the funeral service that's now timed for 12:20. I think I shall be plotting a course that avoids the M25! "Make it so, Mr Sulu". Precautionary step 1: renew the RAC Roadside Assistance in good time, and change it over from Christa to me — done. Step 2: arrange for elderly aunt in Northampton (whom I'll be taking over to the funeral) to clear a little space for me to sleep so I can do the journey in two hops rather than one long stint (207 miles [times two] in one day is a relatively unenticing prospect).

There and back to see how far it is

It's as easy as "A, B, C" — and back! Speaking of which:

What takes, on average...

...14 months, and costs £1,200 during an average of 52 hours of professional instruction? Apparently, the answer is preparation for a UK driving test! (Source.) If this is correct then (for once) I seem to have been a bit ahead of the curve, as it were. I've clocked up 9,500 miles since October 15 last year, by the way; 7,000 of them since getting my licence in mid-December.

Downstairs, meanwhile, I rather hope two of those Hugo Blick monologues are busily copying, at high speed, onto a DVD. I'm not going to keep the weakest of the three. I've also just enjoyed the rather quirky variant of Pride and Prejudice though I remain appalled at the ads with which they divide up ITV "dramas". They are just so uniformly and depressingly stupid. Still, they remind my why I watch so little broadcast TV. Mind you, it was quite interesting to see the Sainsbury's menu suggestions with which they topped and tailed each commercial break... I still have loads to learn about the culinary finer points of presentation!



1  Possibly even on the weekend I returned some faulty cassette recording kit to Lasky's in Slough in the early days of Dolby C. It was handy having Hugh standing next to me as the Group Editor of three Haymarket hi-fi magazines.
2  This text is from a Donald McGill postcard that sold over 6,000,000 copies.
3  Their names are What and Why and When
    And How and Where and Who.