Gatwick and Horses and Mullets?

We’re in the departure lounge at South Terminal, it’s such a familiar place that I have my favourite seat at Costa.

I am sad, it’s official.

If Valerie Russell doesn’t get a move on her luggage will be offloaded and she’ll miss her flight.

There’s a guy over there who LOVES the sound of his own voice; everyone within 5 nautical miles can hear him. He’s not a passenger, he’s a plasterer working on refitting a shop in here.

He sounds like a caricature of a Sarf Lundun wideboy – just think of how Harry Enfield might translate his Loadsamoney creation to a middle-aged, crop-haired shouty-while-talking loudmouth and you’ve got the general idea.

In the security queue in front of us was a late 20s guy who got hauled out because he had a tin/container in his clear plastic bag that was obviously hugely over the 125ml limit.

Think: large tin of toffee and you’ve got the general idea. And in the tin was…

Hair gel.

Because a chap with short hair (not much longer than military length) needs a vat of hair gel – on the flight.

I said to Soph ‘Good job he’d packed his KY’.

It is possible that I said that a little too loudly and Soph may have hit me.

Oh-oh, Valerie Russell’s boat has metaphorically sailed, they’ve just announced that her luggage has been removed from the flight.

Perhaps she’s in the toilet having a massive poo, poor girl.

Soph’s disappeared. I looked up from cleaning out my wallet (I don’t know how I got diverted in to that one either!) and she’d vanished.

Perhaps she’s gone for a poo too. Or maybe she’s gone to find Valerie Russell.

In other news…

The Prospective New Horse is being vetted tomorrow morning.

I’m trying to stay calm and not get too excited about him, if the vet says ‘no’ then it’s not going to happen.

The prospect of having an extra mouth to feed has woken me up, I’ve started putting feelers out to see who might be interested in paying me to do something.

Initial response: fair, but I need to convert interest in to a piece of work. I’m trying to stay focussed on a commuting circle with ‘home’ in the middle which might limit my choices.

There is a guy sitting behind me whose mullet is so regal the length of hair down the back of his neck is actually fashioned in to a scale model of the train of Princess Diana’s wedding dress, whilst the hair on top of his head resembles a field of corn stubble, the hair on the sides of his head is shaved right to the scalp.

It’s an amazing effect, the stylist/sculpturist  responsible for creating this piece of art noveau should get an award – for services to the comedy industry.

I can’t help wondering what nationality the mullet-wearer is; if he were a Brit he’d have the Mick taken out of him so much that even the thickest of skins would have died of shame by now.

He obviously belongs to a nationality that doesn’t know the meaning of the words ‘shame’ or ’embarrassment’ when coupled up with the concept of hairstyle or personal grooming.

I don’t wish to foster any nationalistic stereotypes here, but I’m leaning towards German. Or maybe Australian?

Busy

Today:

  • Rewrite the last two chapters of novel #2 because the ending I am unhappy with has its roots in the penultimate section
  • Travel to Stoke to look at a horse
  • Meet Hayley at the yard at 5pm so she can see how Vin’s dressage and jumping saddles feel
  • Record this weekend’s podcast (won’t be released until the weekend, though)

Tomorrow:

  • Mid-morning: Optician check-up
  • Evening: Start a run of CuBase evening classes in Oxford

Day after:

  • Fly to Italy

Sunday:

  • Fly home

iHola España!

So.

This bright and breezy bonk bank holiday weekend I am away to sunny Spain to spend some quality time with Daughter. Or perhaps I should say Niña? Or even Hija?

Anyway.

I’m sure she’ll find many ways of keeping me occupied – after all, I know nothing apparently, whilst she knows everything there is to know in the universe.

It must be a large cross for her to bear, being so young and so knowledgeable. I feel quite sorry for her; having to lug her know-nothing Padre around the distrito de Granada whilst taking the pee out of him and loving him in equal measures must be quite a task!

Note to self:  don’t mention the Go-Karting we did a few months ago

I am, it must be said, really looking forward to seeing her but at the same time, to be honest, less than enthusiastic about going. Now there’s a tricky situation!

For strictly personal, non-daughter-related reasons, obv. I’ll get over it, I guess. Probably.

In other news…

  • I finished work today. My heart lifts and is borne around the room with its gossamer wings supported by the breeze of a joy indescribable. No more 04.45 alarms!
  • I plan on filling as much of my spare time as possible by sleeping. How can this be bad?
  • We are going to a gig in Witney tonight
  • My horsebox (10t Ford Cargo) is being fitted with a new starter motor tomorrow
  • We are going to a gig in Oxford next Thursday. Yes that’s right, I am flying back from Spain early, just to go to a gig!
  • We have a night at the theatre in London village booked for the week after next, and a night at a nice hotel
  • We are probably going to Italy the week after that
  • We are talking about having a weekend in Stockholm in November. To go to the ballet, no less!
  • I had a blindingly good idea for a novel in a meeting yesterday

I’m quite excited about all of these things, but the new novel prospect sets my pulse racing and makes me breathe a little quicker. It’s amazing what travelling on the Underground does to the imagination.

I’m really not sure that I’m capable of carrying it off, I think it’s too big and a much too mature and intricate piece of writing for me to deliver but it’s my bloody idea so I’m going to give it a go.

So you see, although I’ve been very quiet lately, there are things going on.

Now then, I need to plan the playlist for this weekend’s podcast. It’s going to be radical, man. And no, that’s not a euphemism for ‘I haven’t done it yet’.

Honest!

Booking things

I’m almost done…

After a difficult series of telephone calls with Daughter last night – but only difficult because, well, you know, she’s a girl – I was able to use the interwebs to spend some money.

  • Flights booked and paid for? Check!
  • Car hire booked and paid for? Check!
  • First set of accommodation booked? Check!
  • Second set of accommodation booked and paid for? Check!

In fact, the only thing not yet taken care of is the airport car parking, but that can wait, it’s less important.

Hmm… what else have I done today?

Breakfast in bed for Soph, obv.

And reading; in fact I’ve just finished Neil Gaiman’s peculiarly compelling tale of multiple Londons, ‘Neverwhere’.

Soph’s up.

Yeah, I know!

So perhaps a walk in to Witney next?

And Costa?

We’re meeting Perpetual Spiral for a drink this evening. If we can stay awake.

Because, you know, it’s been soooo hectic today.

Hiiiiiiiiii…. (fake smile)

How are you?

Mwah, mwah.

It’s been simply ages darling. You look gorgeous as usual.

Was it really two weeks ago when I sat down and chattered in to this keyboard?

(No it wasn’t, get on with it, Ed)

So my contract is due to end very soon and I’m planning a trip or few.

The thinking is currently that in very early September, once the Fiesta season in the crazy Spanish village of Bérchules has finished (they’re celebrating New Year right now – and that party lasts 24/7 and all week long), I should duck over to Spain to spend some quality time with Daughter.

Then back home for a day or two, pick up Soph and head off to Italy for a few battery-recharging days because we could both do with a little quality time together.

Then come back and do a short refresher course – it’s been years since I was on a motorbike – just to, you know, keep my hand in.

And then start scouting around for the next contract.

Whatcha fink?

A day in the life of an Oxford Tube commuter

Morning:
It’s the first working day of August 2009 and we’re flying down the M40 towards London. It’s about 06.40 and we’ve just gone past the junction to Princes Risborough, if you care.

This journey is being brought to you courtesy of one of the Brand New Super Dooper Oxford Tube Executive Luxury Coaches.

OK, I don’t know if that’s their official title because I made it up.

But these coaches cost, I’m reliably informed, £250,000 each; the Oxford Tube is replacing their old fleet of coaches with a large number of these behemoths, for that’s an accurate description of the size of these big boys.

As well as being larger they also have a modified seating layout.

The lower deck still has the two tables, one on the left and one on the right. Each table is ‘surrounded’ by two forward- and two backward-facing seats, but the tables are the width of the average emery board.

The seats on the right of the aisle (as one stands beside the driver, facing backwards) are about a foot lower than the seats on the left. I don’t know why, they just are.

The seats are very comfortable, as is the ride, and the noise levels are consistently quieter too.

The colour/décor in here is predominantly light blue, it’s not unpleasant.

The internal lighting has a slight blue tint to it too which, in my head at least, makes the ambience slightly reminiscent of the lounge area of a 1980s disco. The heavy tinting on the windows generally adds to this effect.

But there aren’t any people in here wearing big hair and bad clothes so the ambience is acceptable.

‘Safety’ is a highly visible feature; I can see four of those little ‘in case of emergency, break window’ hammers and a compartment right at the back marked as ‘First Aid Kit’. And two CCTV camera lenses. I’m not sure what they’ve got to do with ‘safety’ but that’s how CCTV cameras are being ‘spun’ these days.

Unfortunately the WiFi doesn’t work; bit of a bummer on a brand new coach. But the 13amp sockets are up and working. Mine is, at least.

The drivers seem to love these new big boys. The two I’ve spoken to so far have said that the gearbox is brilliant to play with and the controls are all far more ‘positive’.

So well done Oxford Tube.

I know the old coaches have all done over a million kms; that’s quite a distance!

One thing I would point out; the re-recorded safety announcement seems to have been produced in the cellar of The London Dungeon; the quality of echo is bordering on the ghostly and may well instil nightmares in small children.

If we’re lucky.

Afternoon:
Here we are, Victoria, and the starting point of tonight’s journey home on the Oxford Tube.

It’s another one of the new coaches.

Yay!

Unfortunately the internal colour scheme of the coach clashes beautifully with what the woman sitting opposite me is wearing.

She really chose her colours carefully to achieve a brain-numbing effect of this quality; the artfully-crafted symphony in clashing colours is more a case of ‘car-crash couture’, rather than an accidental ‘getting dressed in the dark’.

Her name is Sharon. Everyone knows this because she has announced it, loudly, to the five people she’s called on her phone. As in ‘Hi Deidre, it’s Sharon calling…’

She says that because she’s leaving voicemail. She’s left voicemail on all of her calls so far.

That’s either a really bad run of luck on trying to get hold of your friends or they’re trying to tell you something, Sharon.

And there’s a girl about to get on with a cello. And massive dangly earrings. The girl, not the cello. And now the conversation of inevitability takes place.

[inevitability]
No, you can’t bring that on here. Yes it’s too big. It’ll have to go in the luggage compartment. No you can’t put it on the seat beside you. No you can’t put it in the aisle.
[/inevitability]

She looks as though she’s a very nice person and she’s very single-minded which, I suppose, one has to admire. But she’s not going to win this one.

And she doesn’t; the cello goes in the luggage compartment, she pays the fare and stomps upstairs wearing a loud frown.

Don’t ask me about the loud frown, it just was.

There’s a three-person family trying to board the coach now, and this causes me to wonder why people don’t get their money out before they attempt to board the coach?

It’s almost as if they’re expecting a different conversation to the one that goes:

Three day-returns to Oxford please
That’ll be £xx.
[stunned silence followed by] Oh!
[rummages around in handbag large enough to contain Mary Poppins and the two annoyingly smug children. Eventually money is produced and the fare paid]

Hmmm… time for a change of topic:

Selfish seat-baggers (being those who bag seats selfishly by claiming a seat for their personal items), I think we need to have a quick headcount.

There’s the old woman who must be well in to her late 60s; she’s chosen the aisle seat and put her handbag and raincoat on the window seat beside her – thus making it doubly unattractive to a new passenger.

There’s the young guy opposite her, he’s in his early 20s; he began by employing precisely the same tactic – and then trumped her by deploying a pair of iPhone earbuds on top of his lightweight rucksack and then feigning sleep.

Cunning, my friend, very cunning; the old woman is clearly not in your class – although I can tell from her body language that she is banking on the late flourish of The Daily Mail to put any indecisive seat-hoverers off.

Then there’s Extremely Hot Girl, the one sitting behind the kind of weirdly creative guy who is laughing at Twitter on his laptop (that would be me).

She’s using the Many Bags Of Shopping technique; Next, M&S, Anne Summers, Carphone Warehouse, some shoe-shop I’ve never heard of, she’s piled her baggage high in an attempt to keep ‘sitting next to her’ people at bay.

Thirty-something guy has opted for the one-dimensional approach; choose an aisle seat and feign sleep. Low-tech, simple but effective. Especially with all the drooling and the occasional twitches he throws out now and then.

Anyway, that’s enough of what’s going on inside for now.

Outside a German coach (and is it only me that finds it funny that the German word for ‘travel’ is ‘Fahrt’?), anyway, this German coach has cut right across us; pulled straight out from the kerb directly in to our path. We only avoided shunting him up the arse through immediate anti-collision techniques (i.e. slamming on the brakes) employed by our driver.

Or perhaps the German driver wanted to get shunted up the arse? Who knows?

And so we go through Shepherd’s Bush, past the enormous roadside poster that advertises some guy’s debut album, except the eye-attracting qualities of the font makes the words look like DEBT ALBUM and we all forget to look for the artist’s name. What a shame. Ad Agency Fail.

Amazingly, by some complete fluke of the universe, We are through the roadworks with almost no conceivable delay and out on to the A40 towards Hillingdon.

If I had the capability of being worried I would be very worried.

Where is the traffic? Why am I not nose-to-tail in miles of stationary metal? Is it because everyone on the road is intimated by the size of this big boy?

We zip past RAF Northolt where a couple of North American-registered executive jets are parked on the western-sector perimeter track, incongruously separated by a fully-armed RAF Tornado IDS.

Hillingdon, where no-one gets on but MILFY woman from upstairs gets off.

The police are having some kind of a ‘stop all traffic and check for things untoward’ party in the layby opposite. From the amount of cars parked on the side of the road the police are having a bumper harvest!

Sharon’s on the phone again. Leaving another voicemail to another of her friends, poor love.

We hit the M40 which continues the journey speedily; I’m still wondering where all the traffic has gone.

This coach has working WiFi.

Yay!

But the 13amp sockets don’t work.

Boo!

Home soon.

More travels

So we’re back from Liverpool.

Soph (bless her), has unpacked, shoved a load of washing on and is upstairs splashing around in the shower.

I have caught up on emails, blogs, spoken with Daughter, done some eBanking and booked and paid for our flights to Spain on Wednesday. And booked and paid for the car hire too.

We have a punishingly early check-in which, coupled with travel time to Gatwick, I’m really not looking forward to!

I’m also slightly nervous about the fact that I’ve delegated to Daughter the sorting out of accommodation.

I don’t want to stay in the local hotel because the owner wears a pointy hat, rides a broomstick and (as an added bonus) is the meanest most malicious gossip in the history of the Known World.

Leaving this task to Daughter means that it’s entirely possible Soph and I might be bunking down with Daughter’s pony up on the Finca.

Scouseland

We are in Liverpool. Our very nice hotel is on the waterfront next to the Liver Building.

Last night, as we walked around the docks, desperately trying to digest a most excellent dinner, we couldn’t help wonder precisely what the Liver Birds on top of the Liver Building are intended to be, so we researched them, when we got back to the hotel.

Eagles – in 1207AD – but after a bit of mucking about and jiggery-pokery in the 17th Century, they became transformed in to Cormorants.

Well, when I say ‘they’ I don’t mean the two on top of the Liver Building, because they haven’t been there that long, natch. No, I mean the birds that were on the original Seal of Liverpool. In 1207AD.

So there you are, a momentary deviation where this blog swerves once again from the shallow end of the pool of life, to a place of a little more depth and substance.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Have I mentioned that we’re going to Spain on Wednesday? 🙂

Weekend stuff

It has to be a really early bed this evening. We need to be at Birmingham airport for an 06.30 check-in and an 08.00 departure. It’s an important weekend on a number of levels.

Anyway, in other news…

Because of the weekend’s comings and goings, tomorrow’s podcast was recorded today and released this evening (and a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who participated in Podcast Poll #4).

Also because of the weekend’s happenings the results of this quiz won’t be announced until we’re back in the UK.

Sorry about the heightened suspense. 🙂

The remains of the day

I am on the way home. It is 21.17, I’ll be home about 22.40. I’ve been up since 04.45. That, my friend, is a loooong day.

So I’m tired. And hungry. And hungry. And tired. And a little bit grumpy but that might be related to the tiredness. And the grumpiness.

[inserts random question: I’m going to record podcast episode 53 tomorrow afternoon. So what’s the worst job you’ve ever had? It could be a part-time or school holiday job. Comment here or email thisrealitypodcast@gmail.com with your answer]

The journey is going v.quickly but not quickly enough; I just want to be home.

Listening to a recording of Edith Murray interview Duffy at The Brits, it sounds like a mentally defective person talking to a mentally defective person. How on earth do these people manage to survive the rigours of day-to-day life in the 21st century? I’m asking because surely they’re not allowed out by themselves? I find that idea far too frightening.

Did Edith Murray go to the Fearne Cotton school of brain training? I’m not expecting a discourse on Wittgenstein’s philosophy of mathematics or even a synoptical statement on disambiguation… I would just like to hear a Q/A session between two people who might sound as if their combined IQ was marginally higher than 42.

Am I asking too much?