Saturday, 31 January 2009

Cerulean Blue

Big Brother

One of our friends is a detective. Well actually, two of them are, but that's an accident of geography, not habit. One day we ran into him and he turned to me with an evil grin and said, "Who were you kissing in town last Wednesday?"

Apparently they had been conducting some sort of street surveillance operation from the upstairs floor of a shop. As he watched the screen I appeared, accosted a woman, and gave her a hug and a kiss. "I know that man," he told his colleagues, and they watched on with interest.

The embarrassing thing was that, while I could remember running into someone, I couldn't for the life of me remember who. This didn't seem very plausible at the time. In fact it still doesn't. The Social Secretary started giving me funny looks and finding reasons to come shopping with me. So if by any chance you can remember being kissed by me in Earl Street on a Wednesday, would you very much mind contacting her?

It just shows the opportunity to misbehave (not that I was, you understand) is dwindling. It was bad enough in Essex in the 1960's. The Rodings (always pronounced 'Roothings') being terribly flat, I had to cycle miles to find a tree behind which I could drag on a discreet Consulate with a reasonable chance of not being spotted. Consulate of course, in the belief that the menthol would disguise the smell of tobacco (the innocence of youth; I also believed that we could end war and that I would become rich).

Because teenage drivers who should be wearing green Ps keep bumping into us in the lanes, my latest toy is a tiny camera which sits on the dashboard and continuously records the view ahead onto an SD memory card. The whole thing cost £25 from Hong Kong, which is less than the card alone would cost here. And it might just save me shed-loads in lost no-claims bonuses. Not to mention proving that the traffic light really did change too late to stop. Or that the police patrol car did indeed make an illegal U-turn on the dual carriageway.

The other fun thing about the recorder is that I can say things like, "You know when you drove down to the stables last Wednesday? Why did you stop under the bridge for several minutes, then turn round and park outside 22, Focaccia Avenue?"

Not that I would.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Things you can do with your toes

Completely Alienne has tagged me to list ten honest and interesting things about myself. The 'honest' suggests that these should be frank and a bit revelatory. Not sure about that. If I have few illusions about myself I like believing you might still have some. And I suppose I shouldn't recycle ones from previous memes, which rather implies dipping into the reserve list.

1) As a child I always went up stairs on all fours. I still do sometimes, but try not to in public places.

2) I have fitted my bath with a reading light, and have been known to read an entire book in one immersion (emerging like a literate prune).

3) I once inadvertently killed my landlord's cat. It got into my Cornish flat through an open window while I was out, ate the fat in an unwashed frying pan, went back downstairs and died. I never owned up. (Note, too much fat is bad for your health).

4) When I was about twelve I buried our own cat in a Swedish crispbread tin. It went missing and we assumed it had followed walkers in the wood and was enjoying a pampered new life. Then I found it in a wild part of the garden, mutilated by a dog or a fox. I conducted a secret burial to protect the rest of the family from the grim truth. I'm surprised nobody missed the biscuit tin, which was as big as a drum and rather useful.

5) I was a difficult adolescent. At school I became such a subversive influence that they created a bed-sit for me - the first in the school's 400 year history (a hatch in the ceiling gave access to a loft space, and I slung all my empties up there. I believe a later occupant got in trouble for that, after I'd left).

6) I can unscrew bottle tops, hold pencils and do other useful stuff with my toes.

7) Amongst houses once occupied by grander-than-me relations are this,
this (my earliest memory is living in the west wing one winter), this (my grandmother's home when she married, but it was only rented), this (I lived here for a little while too), and this (now a bijou health spa). Damn - where did it all go?

8) I have been mistaken for James Hewitt, but only by the sort of people one avoids on trains.

9) Things I have done in pursuit of girls include: joining a canoe club; being run away with on a horse; going through the entire electoral register for Truro and Falmouth constituency; and accidentally breaking a window whilst trying to get into someone else's house at midnight (it's a long story).

10) The blue plastic bucket at the bottom of Dover Harbour belongs to me.

I think I'm meant to tag other people here, but as always I feel diffident about that, because you've probably all done similar ones before. But I will tag Extra Virgin, who probably hasn't. And please feel free to have a go.

Friday, 23 January 2009


It's ages since I blogged. Don't know why; nothing to say, I suppose. Anyway, I like K's new song. She wouldn't be persuaded to appear on camera, so she's stuck it onto some footage of the Inverness-Kyle line I took years ago.

I suppose I must have travelled that line two or three hundred times, but I never tired of it. Skye-bound, my heart lifted with every mile that the island drew closer and my office desk receded. In summer, sun sparkled on absurdly blue water and the banks wore gold epaulettes of gorse. In winter the deer lifted their heads from foraging in the snow, to watch the carriages clatter by. Like a time-lapse film houses were spruced up, and faded. Generations of sheep and cattle trod the same braes. Oil rigs appeared in Loch Carron, and then were gone. Eagles soared.

Enjoy the song.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Bedroom View: Dawn

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Chilly, Chilly is the Evening Time

The snow lies hard as ice on the Downs, and the Social Secretary and I have been out sledging. Bob watched from his window and said we were behaving like big kids. Woohoo!

We don't much mind not having central heating as a rule. Visitors sometimes complain of the cold and sit in their coats looking like soft jessies. This last few days, though, has been something else.

The ice on the inside of the windows has been too tough to scrape with a fingernail, and the Arctic icy draught whistling up between the floorboards has made BT's usual TV watching position, prone on the sitting-room floor, untenable.

The Social Secretary started the rot by moving an old portable set into the kitchen. Then Bob and I, watching the repeat of 'Dead Set' in there last night, had a brainwave and silently carried the sofa in while the SS was having a bath. An occasional table for drinks and the old gimballed paraffin lamp on the wall beside the aga completed the ambience. Much to the dog's delight we are now all more or less living in the only warm room.

It's really rather cosy, and awfully handy for mulled wine.