Friday 28 January 2011

The Scottish Question

I don't get the Scottish.

If you go to the BBC news page, Scotland is now called Alba. That probably means nothing to anyone who lives in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, let alone the rest of the world. Next thing they'll be telling me they've renamed Rhodesia, and that Peking doesn't refer to the capital of China. I understand that Wales is known to a few die-hards as Cymru, and that plenty of EU funds go into re-naming everything in joint English and Welsh. But I've never come across a single Scot (or indeed a married one) who spoke anything but the Queen's English, albeit with an impenetrable accent.

Whilst a pretty unreasonable proportion of my taxes goes to supporting their deep fried Mars bar and whisky habit, I'm not sure what we get in turn, apart from regular insults from a politician whose name sounds like a fish. Probably farmed at that. I'm driven to distraction by Scottish acquaintances who've lived 90% of their lives in England, but still claim that Scotland is a better place, and that Scots invented everything. Auntie Gwen is, of course, 'Present company excluded' on the basis that she seems to have been dragged down here under false pretences and would return to the mother country given half a chance. Or even a tenth of one.

And now, of course, we're just about to kick off with the Six Nations. The question is (thank you Norman Tebbit) which team will you be cheering for?

Scotland is on my mind this week because we celebrated Robert Burn's birthday on Tuesday. We had haggis, and in a nod to modernity, vegetarian haggis too. McSweens of course. My advice...avoid the veggie soggy nut cutlet. I whistled it in, because we don't possess bagpipes, and The Cat wouldn't pipe it in on her flute. She did read some poetry to make up for it though. And we all drank some Speyside. Which I appreciated more than every one else. Hurrah for Scotland the Brave.

The Boy and The Cat had colds this week. The Cat took a day off school; The Boy has spent two days in bed and drunk the world's entire supply of Lemsip whilst mooching around and feeling terrible. It's not for me to comment of course, but I do feel that I've brought him up brilliantly and ready to slip into his role as Alpha Male susceptible to Man Flu at the slightest sign of a sneeze. Toodlepip.

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Personal matters

There comes a time in life when you need to get your plumbing sorted. If you know what I mean. And sure enough that time has come. It's a new year, and at the end of 2010 there had been a sort of gassy smell. It wasn't pleasant. For anyone. It was bad enough that the emergency services were called, and they pronounced an immediate diagnosis. Some of my 'pipes' were old and leaky and needed to be replaced. As ever with these things these days, the Christmas season caused a bit of a blockage, so it's been a gruelling few weeks. To stop any more leaks they had simply cut my pipes and sealed them up. I can't tell you the discomfort that's caused.

Anyway, today they pronounced my plumbing all fixed. Saturday, they'd inserted a new pipe, and today when it looked as though it had bedded in, they unblocked it and everything was reconnected. Not a leak to be found. They showed me the instrument read outs, glass containers and the rubber tubes which proved it.

So yes indeed we have the gas supply reconnected in Brighton. That means hot water and no cold rooms. I never thought I'd be so grateful.

On other plumbing matters, there was a strange thing in the bottom of the toilet this morning. It looked a bit like an octopus tentacle, without the suckers, and white & brown. It could have been a piece of pottery. It could have been a twig. It wasn't nice. It certainly didn't belong there. Of course I could have just flushed it. But I had to know what it was. And so did The Cat's Mother.

So on went the rubber gloves. I reached down and grabbed it. It was soft and slippery. Call me a wimp. I had had enough. I couldn't flush it away quickly enough. So I'll never know.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

In the buff

Trouble follows us wherevr we go. Yesterday Moscow - the airport we flew into last year. And today Beirut...where we were in November. If you want to know our travel plans for the rest of year, so you know destinations to avoid, just drop me an email.

Well January is galloping by (thank God), and still not all the Christmas decorations have been put away. In fairness to one and all, there is a lot of them. And it s a long way up to the top room where they are stored between festive seasons. And because the boxes in which they are kept are old, very old, and far too fragile to be carried anyhere, they stay where they are in the rarefied atmposphere of the rafters, so each individual bauble, angel, snowman, candle, sparkly thing is carried up. One by one. But it is important that everything is put back in its place. And I can tell you that we have strapping thighs. Which may help when we go skiing in a month's time.

Naturally, in such a tidy household, the teens are under a lot of stress. These days, The Boy is under a lot of pressure not to leave his entire wardrobe in the middle of the floor, with his damp shower towels piled on top. The Cat? Well I don't know really as I never dare put my head round her door. Although the occasional screams from The Cat's Mother suggests that not all is always well there. Of course, I am the epitome of the Tidy Father. If I have five pairs of shoes at the bottom of the stairs it's because they're all in use. Clothes left at the end of the bed? Ready for putting away in the morning. I never reveal which morning though. The Cat's Mother is the tidiest person I know. So since our arrival, her life has been one of despair and desperation. We do our best; we know it's not enough.

Riding home last night it was chilly...I somehow misplaced my Buff, which keeps the space between my head and my shoulders (yep I know most people call it my neck) warm when I ride. I tore the office to pieces trying to find it. It could only have been in the office, because that's the only place I take it off after the daily commute. I searched high and low, but to no avail. It was a complete mystery. A further search ensued at home, but nothing. Absolutely nothing. Immenseley frustrating, especially as I got it to support Dan on his sponsored Hadrian's Walk.

This morning it was light when I left for work. And nearly warm. Absolutely brilliant. I can feel the temperatures rising as we head towards summer already. Let's just hope it isn't going to be like last year's 'bbq summer'. When we all got wet.

Oddly, my Buff was on my desk when I arrived in the office today. I blame the fairies.