Archive for June, 2009

Early morning at the petrol station

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

It’s the beginning of a hot day in Lincoln and after dropping John off at school I take the car to fill up with petrol. The smell of the petrol and the whirring of the pumps says to me that this won’t be a pleasant place to be as the morning moves into midday. It feels inner city, radiating concrete with little relief from the sun.

At home the back doors are already open and I hear the birds calling to each other in the garden. They are enjoying themselves. I can almost hear them say “this is why we come here every summer”. I too am relaxed. Tom bustles about upstairs but everyone else is out of the house.

the excitement of the trip

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

I’m pretty much all packed. A few toiletries to sort out in the morning. Passport retrieved from hibernation and fresh ironed clothes tidily, for now, tucked into the bag. Tonight is my last proper night of sleep. Tomorrow I will be on the plane, overnight, and then five late nights and forced mornings, before another overnighter back on the plane home.

The feeling isn’t quite the same as I imagine trips of old to be. The farewell dinner with best friends and loved ones. Next morning taking the trunk down to the railway station and then on to the harbour for departure on a lengthy voyage. The ceremonial crossing of the equator. Dressing for dinner on board. Interminable days of seasickness followed by long periods of intolerable heat.

The idea that I can fly for twelve hours to the far side of the earth, party for five days and then fly back doesn’t seem right. Still, everyone on the trip is excited and I can see this excitement heightening tomorrow morning as the party, from all over the country, diversely makes its way to London Airport for the departure. We even have people from as far as Dublin and New York joining the trip.

It is twilight now. Nearly ten o’clock at night at the height of the British summer. In South Africa it will be dark at this time, Lions roaring and birds screeching, night time in the wilderness. At this time on Thursday I will be gathering around a watering hole, probably singing myself, just like the lions in their own way. Hopefully tunefully.

the lake in summer

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

bright primary colours float across the surface,
small boats under an endless blue sky,
the water, shimmering
as the hottest day of the year
drives me into the pleasant shade above the lake.

blackhead gulls find energy,
absorbed from the afternoon heat
and reeds, where week old ducklings hide
and dragonflies hover,
sway gently at the waters edge.

dry onlookers avoid the drip of wet clothes
of self drenched, red faced children
dazzled eyes squinting in the high sun,
tongues, in search of cool refrigeration,
and parent towelled cosset.


Saturday, June 20th, 2009

Twas only when he turned eighteen,
That Ben was quite oft to be seen,
In the Star and the Vic,
And the Strugs and the Wig,
And a number of pubs in between.

Tomorrow is the longest day

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

It sounds like a dramatic post title, “the longest day”. It doesn’t, though, refer to some forthcoming ordeal, an adventure where the aircraft crashes in the jungle and it takes forever to be rescued. Tomorrow is actually the longest day. June 21st, the summer equinox.

It is somewhat disconcerting because it implies the summer, and I mean the period of semi nice weather rather than the specific season, the cricket season if you like, is half way through already. Aargh.

Wimbledon is about to start. Good. I can identify with tennis nowadays since I took John to see it last year. We saw Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Venus Williams in separate matches on Centre Court. A great introduction proper to the sport.

We also spent lots of money. An “official” towel was £24. We bought two. That’s roughly 20 pints of bitter’s worth for anyone reading this in the future and trying to calibrate that cost. Still we had a great day out.

The first test against the Aussies is also about to start. Another pointer to this being the height of summer. I have mixed feelings about this one. The last time they were over was probably the greatest test series ever. It is unlikely to be repeated this time but we shall see.

Anyway the effect of course of it being the longest day is that it is light both very early and very late and it is at that first part of the day that I now sit in the conservatory tapping out this conversation.

It is not a particularly nice day out. Typical British summer weather really. There is breeze and cloud although this will not stop me from putting on my shorts today. There is also a sparrow pecking away at the patio outside. I can’t say I regularly see a sparrow in the back garden but he is very welcome.

Since I sat down to write this morning the noise of the birds has grown louder. I’m surprised that I was up before them. I suppose we all need our fair quota of sleep.

Looking out into the garden I can see the detritus of childhood. A broken football goal, a football, a giant tennis ball, some football cones, a cricket catching practice net, a trampoline and a slide that must now be 12 or 13 years old and has very well withstood the rigours of its dozen British winters. It doesn’t get used much anymore.

The door of the shed that keeps all the outdoor toys stands half open. It has to go someday soon. The toys are no longer used, just like the playhouse, a treasure in its time but now occupied solely with the storage of garden furniture.

The wheelbarrow on the patio is filled with compost and has been planted with long stemmed white flowers. I know not their make. The chimeniere hides behind them.

Enough of these musings. Tomorrow is the longest day which means that today is nearly as long so I must get on with it and go and make Anne a cup of tea. It is still early but there is a lot of day to cram things into so lets go!

Breakfast before the tourists get there

Friday, June 19th, 2009

It’s early in the big city. I’m just off Oxford Street. The shop workers pour out of the underground and bustle to their counters criss-crossing the road in a seemingly random yet purposeful fashion.

I had left the hotel in search of a more economic and down to earth breakfast and settled on an Italian café down a side street. There are only two or three other customers. The Eastern European waitress serves me. She is pleasant enough but you get the impression she is not well versed in the Full English Breakfast.

Ordering one anyway I settle into my paper and survey the other customers. There is nothing really to report. The place was clearly designed to attract tourists and I was an anomaly. It was too early for the regular punters.

Elsewhere in the room a suited businessman drank a coffee and stared into his laptop. An early shopper drank a cup of something else and soon her friend arrived. They looked as if they were steeling themselves for the effort ahead. Retail therapy without the therapy.

My unsatisfactory breakfast arrived together with a cup of tea and an orange juice. Italian cooks don’t do justice to Full English. The giant mushroom was at least artistic. I didn’t finish the breakfast, paid leaving a tip earned solely on the personality of the waitress and left for the tube.

Disappearing into the underground I felt as if I was joining the rat race.

As I walked out to the Morning Star

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

As I walked out to the Morning Star
The Cathedral cast its mark,
Its lowering shadows enveloped the pub
And the sky grew unusually dark.

The Church, the beacon, was not yet lit
Too soon to call it night,
Though its luminous power would later shine forth
By the trick of electric light.

A Farmhouse, By Tom Davies

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Little children come out to play,
In the meadow as bright as day.
The stream runs by all the while,
It’s Chipping Norton’s River Nile.

Derek the duck swims along,
Whilst the blackbird sings his joyful song.
Derek is an agile swimmer,
Then a farmer shoots him for his dinner.

He takes him back to Mrs Farmer,
Who looks distinctly like a llama.
She puts it in the boiling pot,
The sun is shining, she’s really hot.

She openeth the window and looks at the grass,
Whilst Farmer Giles slaps her ass.
Who works the field pulling carts by day,
And sleepeth at night, betwixt horse and hay.

It’s a jungle out there

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Walking through the alleyway on the way home from my photography class last night I heard someone coming up behind me suddenly bursting into song.

Look for the bare necessities
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife
I mean the bare necessities
Old Mother Nature’s recipes
That brings the bare necessities of life

Whereupon I felt it incumbent on me to add “You better believe it”. He replied “Yeah” and trotted off into the darkness.

Through the office window – the red van

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

the red van

The red van’s been parked there for as long as I can remember. It’s brand new – in the ‘never-been-used’ sense. The once-deep-red colour has faded over the years and is now approaching a dirty pink. All this time, through wind and rain, and the odd blizzard, the red van’s been left unattended. It’s supposed to be the emergency vehicle and has a load of medical equipment in it. At least, so I’m told. I’m sure the battery must be dead by now. Is anyone emergency testing the emergency vehicle ??


Monday, June 15th, 2009


The totty

Monday, June 15th, 2009

It was nine o’clock monday night
and thinking about getting dark.
There they were, tottering outside the station,
dressed to the nines and heels so high
leading to instability in light winds.
A token bloke in tow,
what was he thinking of?
I couldn’t make out
if they were on their way out
or on their way in
or what indeed they were doing there.
Tom alighted from the train and
we left them to their evening.

Successful launch of Burton Road Strip

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

A big thank you to everyone who turned up for the Burton Road Strip event yesterday. I think everyone enjoyed themselves and all concerned felt that the event had been a success.

Westgate Stores

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

the Burton Road Strip

Can we stop off
On the way home
From school for sweets?

We can stop off
On the way
To the pub for fags!

(If takeaways aren’t on
Tonight’s menu)

Load up on the way home
From a libation
@ the Strugs or the Vic.


Overheard phone call in Kings Cross waiting room

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Hi is that Rafi?  This is Marcel here.  Marcel Sartre from ballroom dancing.  I’m just ringing to make sure that you got Dorothy’s message about ballroom dancing being cancelled.  Oh you did, good.  I’m going to run an additional class the week after next. Thank you.  Bye.