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Elvis At Last

The Reillys had set out on their summer holidays. Benjamin, James and the Reilly parents were going to stay with some friends on a working farm in rural Devon. The farm was proudly carbon-neutral; it generated electricity and had its own water supply. This was a holiday that could only be more middle class if they breastfed the livestock hummus.Rather than travel directly from Twickenham to Devon, the family had opted to break up the journey. So it was that on a Wednesday evening the Reillys found themselves outside their Somerset Airbnb and in need of food. Having wheelspun into the driveway, Mr Reilly was driving no further. Instead, the four of them set out on foot to search for dinner.After an initial disappointment, involving a delapidated pub with ashtray and bleach issues, technology was consulted. According to Mrs Reilly's phone, a 50's America style diner could be found just fifteen minutes walk away. Whilst Mrs Reilly had misgivings about the health qualities of burg…
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The Gorgon

As I have grown older, I've become aware of a characteristic of mine, which I don't much like. It's not casual racism or a prediliction for keeping a lap dog in a handbag about my person. It's more complicated than that.It's my face. Or at least: that's where it starts. I have a resting facial expression that gives off a vibe. A hostile one. Not intentionally; it's just well... It's a thing. My face at rest looks like Vinnie Jones thinking "you don't get to talk about my mum".I get it from my father, who got it from his father, who in turn... All the way back to Cro-Magnon man. Somehow my family line has managed to maintain the same physical characteristics as the European early modern humans of 15,000 years ago, almost without compromise.I used to joke about this with people. Then one afternoon, in a moment of boredom, I decided to google what Cro-Magnon man looked like. You know you get those artists impressions of long dead species? Wel…

Cable Cars and Credit Cards

I proferred the binbag. "All the rubbish; in here please". Conor turned to his right, "Una, will you climb in now?" Una grinned and mimed throwing objects into the sack. "There's my hopes and dreams right there Conor."Conor, Una, Lisette and I have known each other for half our lives. Well; Conor's not quite there - he's the elder statesman of our group. We met when we were working for British Airways as students, and living in Hounslow's finest dodgy digs. Since that time we've been scattered to the four winds; Una to Ireland, Conor to Switzerland. Lisette and I, well, maybe 3 miles tops to Twickenham.In seeking a mutual meeting place we found ourselves reaching for the logistically logical location: Italy. (I know; like a stepladder where you least expect it.) In keeping with how we first got to know one another, luxury accomodation was not our priority. We decided to camp. Can there be a fuller way to challenge your fear of shared…

Sunshine and Kings

The difference between Spanish winter and British is not really temperature. A mild British winter day isn't significantly colder than Spain. The difference is light. Winter or summer, there is a lot more light to go around in Mallorca than in London. Lisette, Benjamin, James and I are staying in Palma visiting family. The day we arrived was not auspicious; it was overcast and stormy. The next day however, well... As I looked around I realised I was squinting. The light was too strong. I haven't squinted in London since October.So it's a shame I distrust sunglasses. For some reason I always have. If the eyes are the windows of the soul then it follows that I regard sunglasses as harbingers of suspicion. If you won't let me look into your eyes then part of my brain is convinced you must be up to no good. Probably only a hop, skip and a jump away from pretensiousness too; that most tragic of attributes.Quite apart from the not-so-nice-judge-y aspect, this is a lamentable…

Four go to Cornwall

Lisette and I have proven ourselves incapable in the "booking holidays" category of competence. After months of attempting to find something we realised we'd fallen at the first hurdle by failing to do the requisite planning-one-year-in-advance. This is alas mandatory now Benjamin is in school and restricting our holiday times to select high priced periods. Why did he have to grow up?So it was, that around 3 weeks prior to us having to explain the meaning of the word "staycation" to Benjamin and James, we received an offer. A couple we knew from church, Peter and Sarah, were going to be in Portscatho, a village in Cornwall and would we like to stay with them? Would we? Popes / Catholics / bears / woods - you get my drift.We set our sights for the Southwest. And so, the four of us came to find ourselves winding our way down a single-lane road with the rain lashing the windscreen of our rented car. Always say yes to a memory. In a gesture towards being actual gro…

Father's Day Advice

When I was 16 years old, my father gave me a piece of advice that dramatically changed me. His advice changed my interactions with the world. I rather doubt he thought it would have such impact, but change me it did.Having finished my mandatory schooling, I had recently started attending sixth form college. I was taking A-levels in Maths, Computer Science and Economics. I found I took to the former 2 subjects like a duck to water. They weren't a struggle, they were interesting and I had a natural aptitude. For want of a better phrase, I could "do it". However, Economics was a different kettle of fish. It did not fit in my head. I could not grok it. I sat there, in lesson after lesson, listening hard to Terri Wilcox explaining Keynes, Monetarism, supply and demand. Occasionally she deviated and talked about her beloved Blackburn Rovers. It did not go in. Not the Economics and certainly not the football. At the end of each sentence uttered I found myself more bewildered t…

The Return of the Flying Scotsman

On Friday night I went to the cinema and saw T2: Trainspotting with a mate. I loved it; for my money it's a wonderful film. Albeit one with a terrible name. I put it to you my alternative title is better... Ish.I went to see the original in the cinema. Like pretty much anyone of my generation I had the mandatory orange posters plastered on my walls. I read the book multiple times. I had the video, the VHS cassette (I'm that old). Hell, I had the green special edition VHS with the deleted scenes. (Which was probably only released because at that time the marketing men realised they could slap Trainspotting on *anything* and make some money.) If I was going out for a night I watched Trainspotting with a drink in my hand before I headed out. It was part of the vague rituals of my life.The film meant a lot to me. It's hard to express just why; excessive exposure has tattooed it into my mind. Part of it may be that the characters feel real. I have the same reaction t…