Friday 16 January 2009

Overheard telephone conversation

In a very rough,run down industrial estate, just next to where the 2012 stadium is being built. In heavy East-End accent

"Hi Simon. Got a mate doing some property developing in Romania with a bloke called John (deleted for fear of legal or other retribution). You know - the cigarette family. Anyway, he's gone off with £5.7 million of my mate's money. Can't get hold of him anywhere. We think he's got a place in Monte Carlo. Do you have anyone down there that could sort it out. You do? Great. Let me know."

I must stop going to these places.

Thursday 15 January 2009

The Dark Days

Five years ago today, I was at a very fashionable bar called Home in the very fashionable Hoxton with some very fashionable people. The party I'd been invited to was to celebrate with the editor of the very fashionable Blueprint magazine who was leaving to start his fashionable freelance career. As usual I was circulating, gossiping to many familiar faces as well as introducing myself to new people that I thought might be profitable to know. I also spent much of the evening in humorous (I thought) conversation with a very talented Czech photographer called Hana Jakrlova who I rather fancied. It was a splendid and enjoyable evening, and one I'll never forget.

At around eleven o'clock I checked my mobile...something I tended not to do very much after office closing hours. There were 11 missed calls, and as many messages so I ran upstairs out of the party noise to listen to the voicemails. The messages were from both The Boy and The Nanny. His messages were just to say to call the nanny urgently, and no doubt had been made because since divorce fron his mum, The Nanny and I had had a falling out, living in a state of uneasy peace. The Nanny's messages were more direct. The boy's mum had had a brain haemorrhage whilst in Ireland on business. She was in hospital...and fortunately still alive. When I called we talked about what had happened, and agreed that on Friday I would take Fred, out of our usual sequence of one weekend on, one weekend off. That at least I was happy with as I'd always fought tooth and nail for more time with him.

Since that day my mobile is never away from my side and checked for messages far more than is reasonable, and if I do happen to have a forgetful moment and leave it at home when I'm out, I always make sure I get hold of the boy to let him know where he can get me.

I returned very briefly to the party to say my goodbyes, and walked home to Borough. Not knowing the seriousness, or otherwise of the situation, it crossed my mind that she could die, and that much would change if she did. But I dismissed the thought on the basis that often I think the worst and it never happens.

And indeed she didn't die then.

That was two weeks later.

Every year since, for the next two weeks, I live with a very dark and heavy cloud over my head. I call these the dark days. And we burn a candle for her from the 15th through to the 29th.

My loss is as nothing to The Boys, yet he seems less conscious of the time than me (but interestingly he is always more fractious in January than the rest of the year), and that I think is the healing power of youth, but I don't doubt that underneath he misses her as much now as he ever did. Perhaps more.

Tuesday 13 January 2009

Cut backs

As the recession is now in full swing, it is time for some cut backs. I've conducted a complete review and of my entire life, and have been able to identify where I can make savings.

Before Christmas, we had present buying issues (the boy didn't want to, having spent all his money on coffee at the Loughton branch of Starbucks), school grade issues (actually all very good, apart from dreadful maths grades which he just didn't seem to care about) and girlfriend issues (his, not mine as I don't have one). And then into the new year we have room tidy issues (again, again, again), house tidiness isuues (his stuff spread liberally around every possible room) helpfulness issues (he won't help out around the house, attitude issues (very confrontational for no reason), girlfriend issues (his again, not mine as I still don't have one), mobile phone issues (how do you get through more than a thousand texts in a month?) and language issues (the sailors are blushing).

So I've decided to make a 100% reduction in my parental responsibilities. Financially, this won't save me a bean, but it seems as sensible as Gordon Brown reducing VAT by two and a half per cent.

I hope you all agree

Sunday 11 January 2009

Dangerous walking

This is the promenade in Hove; in the background the Bandstand is at long last being repaired. Hurrah!

In the foreground, perhaps an indication that people's dangerous walking habits need to be controlled....