Friday, 28 May 2010

Away with the fairies

Are you the last one to leave the party? Have you ever gone to stay at a friends for the weekend and then just not left?

The Boy has a Godfather who once was one of the UK's foremost technology journalists. he was well enough known that when we had a computer go badly wrong, the mere mention of his name sent a shiver down the spine of the supplying company's PR. We got a new computer and a whole host of goodies. He was also the first person we knew to get (for testing of course) an X-Box, and his flat was a geeks paradise.

At some stage, I don't know when quite, he decided there was more to life than writing about gadgets. He completed modernised what had been a tatty, rundown and disgracefully untidy flat into a splendid icon of contemporary minimalism. It was beautiful.

Then he sold it and decided to travel the world. Among his exploits included helping sail a yacht half way round the world with a couple who, as far as I can tell, would probably make excellent characters in a scary horror movie.

At some stage on his travels he met an American lass, fell in love and decided to marry.

But life is never simple, and in order to get the right American visa so he could go back and get hitched, he had to return to the UK. He needed somewhere to stay, so I offered the flat in Brighton for 3-4 weeks. That was in December. He finally returned to the States yesterday. Yes, the visa process was challenging to say the least...evidently many people try to marry an American just to get a Visa to live there. Can you imagine? A fine upstanding Englishman put in the same category as....well you know.

But it wasn't just visa was distant relationship problems. So he's gone back not entirely sure that the marriage will happen. I hope it does, he deserves it. And if it was meant to be, it will happen. I'm sure.

We've been down a couple of times, but it's not easy when you want the space to yourself and there's someone matter who they are. I've been delighted that the flat has been properly lived in for the last five months...that's not been the case for fifteen years. And on Monday, we will venture down for our first visit since his departure...and we can start again trying to finish off the refurbishment that we postponed on his arrival. Hopefully the flooring will be down this side of the summer break.

Of hoo to everyone who said he'd never leave.

Have a great Bank Holiday.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Photogallery - friendship

Well I kind of feel a bit guilty about last week's Gallery from Tara...I cheated with my line drawings of paunches...of course Tara's whole point was that too often we end up taking the pictures rather than being in front of the what would happen if we weren't there.

So this week I've decided to be a good boy and here are some pictures which illustrate friendship (Tara's theme this week) to me.

These first two are of my friend Graeme...he has a fabulous place in Herefordshire and many a happy time has been spent there during warm summers and cold New Years. he came to the Foo Fighters with us...and admitted at the end he only knew one of their songs....many people would have given their right arm for his ticket! He's been a great support and calming influence when life has been topsy turvey...and that's just what friends are for.

This is The Boy and his friend The Cat. They have a very special friendship...and fight and squabble like brother and sister. It is just fantastic to see...I think they will continue to be the very best of friends for ever. Their friendship has had an enormous impact on my life over the last year.

In the middle is someone I met through blogging. She's the sweetest, funniest person in the should read her blog. She has only two faults. Her obsession with David Tenant and her undying loyalty to Scotland. Auntie Gwen has bravely accompanied me to numerous gigs...even some rubbish ones - Echo and the Bunnymen being the most memorable. I didn't take her to see Kings of Leon last year, and I'm not sure she'll ever forgive me.

And here are some friends from school...we've all trodden slightly different paths. One sells medical equipment and is married to our old physics master's daughter, one sells garage doors and stood on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, and one used to be known as Ali at school...but is now Pawan in deference to him....I used to help him stretch the material for his turban after it had been washed. We meet up a couple of times a year...and I'm sure they'd be there for me if my life depended on it.

And finally the friends I recently travelled to Russia with. One person I was at school with (but we can't remember each other), the rest are relatively new friends...all have made me welcome in their long-established groups. And one of them is very special to me indeed.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

An Essex weekend

On a very serious level, I am quite perturbed that we have little kids being tried in an adult court (for rape), and a school teacher is driven to beat a pupil with a dumbbell because his class is seeing how far he can be wound up before he snaps. In both cases only the court knows the full facts so I won't pass judgement, but both are very unsettling, and a sign that we have a very dysfunctional society that needs to act quickly and decisively to find a way of re-balancing how society deals with children.

On another note, either Blogger has gone potty, or Hotmail has (may be both...or are they the same organisation?), as comments on my blog are only arriving in my in- box about 12 hours after they're posted....a minor irritation amongst many!

Last weekend was ridiculously full. Friday night we were out at a local fish restaurant (we'd run out of energy to cook...and more importantly clear away and wash up afterwards). Saturday was taken up with a wedding, Sunday a 50th Birthday Party followed by a celebratory dinner for a confirmation. I was so glad to get back to the office yesterday to relax...what a pain that it was such a rubbish day in the office!

I'll share some highlights of the weekend:

At the wedding they were trying to tread a careful line between an Essex wedding and something the rest of the world would understand. The Rod Stewart impersonator who sang and strutted over the wedding breakfast may have just tipped the balance. The fly-by of three bi-planes was allegedly nothing to do with the wedding, but I refuse to be convinced. Of course there was a disco, but best was the singer who could belt out a song better than the original artist (oh for the days of K-Tel). She was flown over from Marbella specially.

It was brilliant, but my legs ached as never before the next day.

At the birthday lunch I was at one moment talking to the Chief Executive of one of the UK's largest charities, and the next to a bloke who had been educated at a run down comprehensive in Barking and become a stone mason. He carves gravestones...and on the back of that is buying his first Ferrari. I staggered out having drunk a gallon of champagne.'s a place of contrasts.

Monday, 24 May 2010

The Do's and Dont's of having a German exchange student

1. Obviously don't mention the war. Or the 1966 World Cup. Or that time when we beat them 5-1. Even if they are the only things we've got over them.
2. Don't try and describe coleslaw, say it's made of Kraut, and then blush because you think you've just insulted them
3. Do avoid the newspaper stories about memorials to Bomber Command being erected
4. Do remember they drink coffee not tea
5. Don't take him to the restaurant opposite the Olympic Stadium (H Formans again) and then start talking about German Olympics before realising that neither Berlin 1936 and Munich 1972 were happy times
6. Don 't play the game of 'Name 10 famous Germans' and then realise you can't talk about the obvious one
7. Don't snigger when you realise he looks just like Ron Weasley
8. If you talk in your sleep (which I do) don't start shouting out in German
9. Do get in lots of sausages
10. Do go to a vegetarian restaurant. It's educational
11. Do not speak slowly and loudly in the belief that this will help him understand you. All Germans already speak better English than you ever will
12. Don't accept a delivery of ten ginger wigs which are part of a joke for a friends 50th birthday, and then frantically try and hide them when your (ginger) German walks in the just looks suspicious
13. Do laugh when you realise that both The Boy and The German spend ages blow drying their hair every morning before they come down to breakfast
14. Do put your foot down when all the German contingent decide it would be a great idea to go to Thorpe Park for the day. By themselves.
15. Do remember to tell The boy to remove his history of the second world war from his room.
16. Don't spot it there at the end of the week
17. Do let them go to Camden
18. Do try and steer them away from the shop selling 'Hitler European Tour' 1939-1945 T-shirts
19. Do take them to a friends 50th birthday at The Ivy
20. Don't expect them to know this is anything special
21. Do amuse him by calling The Boy a kartoffel kopf
22. Do look forward to the return visit by The Boy when you will have a week of peace and quiet

From left to right:

The Boys Best Friend - it was his father's 50th, BBF's exchange student, Ron Weasely, The Boy