One Friday morning in Autumn. I couldn’t find my wallet. Or my facemask/buff. Then I remembered where I left it. Now it is found. The story of Tref.
Sat in a leaf surrounded shed. You will rightly be thinking that surrounding a shed with a leaf sounds implausible and you would of course be right. We are talking more than one leaf here. Leaves. Thousands of the buggers. The cedar shed blends nicely with the leaves. It was meant to be.
I was idly patrolling the aisles of Waitrose, as you do, when I strolled up to the deli counter. I had nothing in mind. I didn’t need anything. My bag was already full with the essential ingredients for tomorrow’s dinner and really it was now down to any impulse purchase I might make before leaving the store.
In front of me at the counter were a retired old couple staring at the various delicacies on offer and just as I arrived they said to each other. “We’ll go for that then”. The wife looked up at the woman behind the counter and said to her “two slices of ham please”.
Wow I thought. This a couple whose life is ordered. Two slices. One each. Will I be like that when I get to their age? I can’t imagine it but who knows? I am happy right now just catching the wave and ordering ham by the wodge (holds up finger and thumb).
Today is 29th January. February remains distant, a thought that with hindsight will seem misplaced.
I lie in bed not listening to the wireless. Filtering the noise. Relegating news to the background.
Occasionally Anne mentions something she has heard and I temporarily remove the filter.
Second cup of tea appears.
It’s one of those hmm it’s early but I’m awake mornings and I might as well get up. The world is going crazy out there but I am focussed on my own little world and that of my friends and family. It’s a survival thing. In my capacity as an ant one day I will be stamped upon so I may as well focus on enjoying it while I am here.
Before the working day starts I am off for a morning swim and thence at some point out to get the shop in for the forthcoming weekend. I’ll be too busy to do it as we approach the weekend with the Lonap AGM and trefbash on Thursday and a boozy lunch with Anne’s friend Gill Dowling (rod) on Friday. Then on Saturday it’s the annual Christmas carol singson/party at ours which is what I need to get supplies in for. There’s also my birthday lunch on Sunday for which I am cooking so it’s a busy time ahead.
Meanwhile outside the dome Rome burns and the flames had spread across the whole planet. I’d call the fire brigade but don’t have their number. I suspect they disappeared in the cuts.
smooth bit of miles davis in my ears contrasts with the unbounded hassle of the journey. who said international travel is glamorous? fire on board train cancelled delay disgruntles, stood in line for ninety minutes. my head is clear though. a strange state of affairs as I’d normally have a few numbing beers under these circumstances. the train is comfortable enough and the staff remarkably cheerful. a contrast with the station staff who had to deal with hundreds of annoyed passengers and who themselves didn’t look to possess the natural ebullience of the girls on the train. blackness outside as we race through the presumably Belgian countryside. stop in a town. Lille. mademoiselle. my head nods rhythmically to beat of the double bass. trumpet dances. around me people eat the tasteless cardboard fare dished out on the eurostar. I’d need to be hank marvin to do the same. had a burger at Gare du Midi. we are stopped next to neon blue Carrefour sign. presumably the train staff have nipped across to get some shopping in. this delay is not encouraging. I have 27 minutes to swap trains in London. It’s just a walk along the platform, down the moving stairway, out through customs and across the road to kings cross station. simples, in theory. before me sits an empty plastic drinks container. I hesitate to call it a glass. diet coke. not my normal tipple but these are not normal times. a small bottle of vittel sits upended in the cupholder awaiting my thirsty pleasure. top on obvs. been going 50 minutes now fwiw. my right heel has been constantly bobbing up and down. just made a conscious effort to stop it. had a productive day in Ixelles. actuellement comme on dit 🙂 bloke sat opposite has just taken his shoe/boot off and found one of those paper tubes of sugar in it. how’d that get there? couldn’t make it up. he is reading “a gentleman in moscow” by amor towles. wonder what amor’s real name is. looks like a crappy novel. I don’t do crappy novels. he has two young sons in tow. they are engrossed playing child minding games on iPads or simlar. in front of me the vanity mirror is open. I am resting the phone on its cover. old geezer with a collar and tie walks back and has to wait in the aisle whilst the staff do their stuff. clearing up after the silver service plastic airline food. I await a second cup of coffee. we are apparentelement still on time for st p. innit. we may now be underwater, so to speak. the ambient noise beyond my bose phones just seemed to change although I hear very little outside the jazz. a very gentle conversational murmur. two aged gentlefolk opposite doing the times crossword. not sure whether it’s the cryptic one or not. can’t quite make it out. don’t think so. not that I doubt their capacity to do the times cryptic crossword. probably already done it. that or keeping it for last/best. john coltrane is on sax with paul chambers on base. red garland on piano and billy joejohn. not sure about that last one. the old bloke has walked past again. weak bladder or something up. the whole family opposite have earphones in. me too of course but it does feel a bit strange that they are all in their own zone and not communicating with each other. I suspect I’ll be wide awake when I get home and not able to sleep. drinking more coffee here. it would make sense for me to get some work done when hanging around for hours on these trips but you can’t really get the enthusiasm or energy to do it. that’s despite not imbibing. if there was beer involved it would be a no hoper. where there’s life there’s hope. there is life. moved on to bill evans
Slightly tedious Day 11. Sorting out quotes. Need some more info to be able to finish off. Took car to superhand car wash (or whatever it’s called) on Outer Circle Road . Was covered in gunk off the trees in the front drive. Also took cheque to pay into bank. Business account.
This evening we have the (newly repaired) central heating on. Needed a new pump! Sokay now though which is good because otherwise it would be cold. Anne cooked a nice prawn curry using a Slimming World recipe. Brown rice.
Popped down to the West End Tap for a swift one early doors. Ended up having a swift three. Pints of lime and soda. Bit of banter with the lads at the bar. No nibbles. Now watching a documentary on the Chromecast. Sod all on the box.
One week down. Met Steve Wildman and Rob Vashak in the Star for early doors for a coffee yesterday. Barman Dave wasn’t overjoyed as making three cappuccinos with an extra shot of espresso is far more complicated than pouring a pint. Had to assuage him with an in between rounds pint of lime and soda.
This afternoon I am off to Brussels, flying from EMA. Don’t usually fly but on a Sunday it seems easier to travel that way than using the almost non existent train services from Lincoln. I Get to Brussels quite late so will almost certainly be a quick hello to anyone who is in the bar and then off to bed.
So are there any lessons after week 1? I’ve found myself with more time on my hands and energy to do things. Lots of little jobs sorted out including going through my drawers and throwing out clothes that have hung around for years but never worn.
The time on my hands bit works both ways. There have been occasions where I’ve twiddled my thumbs wondering what to do next. I’m thinking specifically of Friday early doors where I would normally be down the pub. Don’t get me wrong. Pub time in Lincoln is usually just Friday and Saturday early doors though this isn’t a hard and fast rule. I don’t mind popping out and just consuming soda water but last Friday we were heading out to the Labour Club for the jazz night so early doors was slightly later at 6.30pm. I’m quite comfortable not drinking alcohol.
The biggest change in lifestyle has actually been the disappearance of all offspring from the house. We are back to what it was like before we had kids which is great although also a bit strange. Freedom ! 🙂
Today we might press some apples.
An uneventful day. Why should it be otherwise? Working plus a visit to the health centre for the annual flu jab. It’s an age thing!
Bit of a swim first thing as I am wont to do. There were not many people in the pool and I recognised a bloke in the near side lane who I knew would not be in for much longer. I joined him and after two lengths he got out leaving the lane to just me for the rest of the session. Result. It’s a lot easier to get up and go to the pool if the previous night has been alcohol free.
Took the volvo estate back to Coops. He’d leant it to us to take Hannah’s gear to her new flat in London. Couldn’t have done it without it. She has a nice flat that will be perfect for her and her flatmate Ann. Top floor flat mind you. Nearly killed me carrying everything up three flights of stairs.
At coops’ picked up one of the campervan awnings – the bag needs washing and repairing. Coops also lent us his apple press. The weekend will see some cider making in progress.
Had carrot and coriander soup for lunch and lemon sole, chips peas and asparagus for tea.
Quiet evening in watching iPlayer. More anon.
Up early. Not quite light out. Summer is drawing to a close. I can hear the clock ticking – never noticed it before. Strange that.
It’s 5:20 am and I’m already up having been awake since maybe 5. Didn’t see the point in staying in bed trying to sleep. I’ve had enough kip although it wouldn’t have done me any harm to have another hour or hour and a half or so. Also took me a while to get to sleep. The previous night I was out like a light having been partying for two days in London for the Checkatrade Trophy final.
At one point, lying there awake, I put my specs on. It’s strange putting your specs on in the dark. Seems to bring the darkness into focus. At least the glow from the alarm clock on my side of the bed.
I’m currently reading the Traveller – Marco Polo. Only just started it so still only at the introduction. I realise that times were different in his time but for someone to disappear for 25 years without writing home seems a bit odd. Ok I know they didn’t have mail in those days. No service from China anyway.
Birds have started. 05:32. Historical data this. In 2118 when climate change is wreaking its havoc on our environment the dawn chorus will follow a completely different timetable. Although I might be wrong there – it’s likely more to do with the orbit of the earth around the sun. Good concept anyway.
I see a pair of green trainers on the floor in the same place I left them last night. Discarded whilst sat on the sofa upon my return from the gym with Anne. We were watching University Challenge. Didn’t get too many answers this time although I was only half listening to the questions. The team from Oxford (or was it Cambridge) were superhuman answering the most obscure questions. It’s amazing that the program is popular – I’d like to bet most people wouldn’t get many questions right.
Just to do something I started going through my email marking all as “read’ when I noticed one from the scouting association telling me (a local scout group committee member) what to do about GPDR (google it):
Step 1 – How to assess your data
a – Read ‘What is the GDPR’ (15 minutes)
b – Watch video guides (30 minutes)
c – Complete the GDPR framework (2 hours)
Step 2 – How to manage your data risks
a – Read best practice guide (30 minutes)
b – Contact third party processors (1.5 hours)
c – Distribute local response plan (45 minutes)
Seriously?! What has society come to?
More cars driving by outside. More birdsong.
I’m off to Ireland on Sunday. After Buxton on Friday and Liverpeul on Saturday. Euro-IX meeting. Usually great get togethers of the IXP community. It is increasingly expanding outside of Europe. I notice a Saudi IXP just joined. Galway. Anne has started coming to these meetings but isn’t this time. John is now on the home straight for his A Level exams so the support team needs to be around.
Time to make the tea. Ciao amigos…
“She’s had a complete blood transfusion.”
Sitting on the sofa in the TV room waiting for the taxi. It isn’t due for another 25 minutes. There is probably a lot I could achieve in that 25 minutes but I’ve chosen to sit down and write this.
We are packed and ready.
Ian is coming round to share the taxi with us. Everyone is headed the same way. Tomorrow there will be 28,000 fewer people in Lincoln and the same amount more in London as half the City descends on Wembley for the Checkatrade Trophy Final. Checkatrade, a brand name that will be etched indelibly in our memories.
I had never heard of Checkatrade before this football season. I’ve not even looked them up to see what they do. I imagine the name tells us something. Not interested enough to find out tbh.
I’m not going to write any more. It’s just waffle anyway…
Waiting for someone from HMRC to answer the phone. The music on hold was ok to start with but now it’s getting irritating. I’m six minutes into the call. No idea how long i’m going to have to wait. Would be quite handy if a message occasionally came up saying where I was in the queue and how long I was likely to have to wait. I’d be able to go off and make a cup of tea, or dig over the vegetable plot or something.
I’m not even sure whether I’m calling the right department. I was put through after being asked to state what I was calling about and the machine at the other end decided for me. There was reference to VAT but this has nothing to do with VAT. The problem is that despite the wait it is a lot easier to talk to someone who knows what they are talking about instead of trying to understand any online “help”.
As it happens whilst waiting (currently 14 mins+) I’ve looked at the online help stuff. It doesn’t help. Doesn’t answer the right questions. Same music on hold urgh.
What could I have done in 15 minutes. Certainly boiled the kettle and made that cuppa. If I was a tax advisor ringing HMRC on someone’s behalf that would have cost that someone over sixty quid plus VAT.
Easter holidays are upon us. I suppose half the HMRC staff are on leave with the other half going next week. Don’t blame em. 17 mins. Doesn’t help me though. I’m just hoping that they will be able to answer my question when they finally answer the phone. Don’t want to get xferred to another department to have to go through the whole thing again.
18 mins in someone answered. “commercial department” – not relevant
Transferred to different dept. Answered straight away fair play. However wrong department again.
21 mins – being passed to someone else – a “technical expert”
The person xferring me is breathing heavily – obvs has the phone under his chin
23 mins – still waiting to be xferred
26 minutes get cut off
In theory I’m supposed to work on this train. In practice it is very full, not a smooth journey and has slow wifi internet access so all in all not conducive to doing anything constructive. That isn’t to say writing this is not constructive but I don’t have to use my brain and internet access speed isn’t a factor.
The train is full because another one was cancelled. I had a seat reservation so I am comfortable enough. These tables of four seats in first class are really only meant to be for two though so that you can stretch your legs out in front of you.
There are two blokes sat in the window seats. Casually dressed work colleagues. I know not the nature of their employment. Opposite me is sat a woman in perhaps her late thirties. She has a pleasant enough disposition but a sad looking face. She is travelling with her aged parents who are elsewhere in the carriage. She did avail herself of the full breakfast which ain’t too bad on these Virgin East Coast Trains.
We are just leaving Stevenage. Twenty minutes or so out of Kings Cross. I am travelling light. Just my laptop bag. Jeans and fleece. Comfortable. My first appointment in London is lunch with Dave Cargill. Thence to an ITSPA council meeting and finally a few beers with Kevin Baynes. An easy enough day.
The woman across the aisle is sorting out her makeup. Gotta be done. Presumably or she wouldn’t be doing it. I too considered my appearance this morning and had a shave. Later, downstairs, I noticed I’d missed a bit under the chin so went back and finished the job off properly. I normally shave in the shower so do it “blind” relying on feel. Doesn’t always work out.
There is quite a murmur of conversation in coach L this morning. Ladies chatting, bloke on his phone, keyboards tapping, a cough. Normally it is fairly quiet. I changed the word quite to fairly. Quite quiet for some reason was disquieting:) Sorted now 🙂
The train continues its race South. A large greenhouse races by on the right. Galloping across an open field! The trees are not yet in leaf. We look forward to foliage this year. A golf course appears on the left. No golfers. Don’t really blame them.
Lunch today is at Ozone Coffee Roasters near Old Street tube. Google tell me it will be faster to go on the tube than in an Uber and that is the plan. Sometimes it is more convenient to be driven. You can use your phone. On this occasion we are talking 10 mins on the tube versus 20+ mins in a car.
The now fully made up woman speaks to the phone with a Liverpudlian lilt and the common set of phrases of phone using train travellers: I’m on the train, oh I’m in a tunnel, are you still there?
We whizz by suburban London. John Betjeman would have had a field day. A lot of flat roofs I notice. Feels as if rooves would be appropriate but it isn’t. The spell checker also tells me so.