Thursday 9 February 2012

Snow? It's certainly freezing

This morning as I came in to work this morning on the tube (brrrrr, it's far too cold to be on motorbike or cycle) I was listening to Kate Bush's most recent release - 50 Words For Snow.  It seemed appropriate.  It's quite a nice album (my way of saying it didn't really register), soft and gentle, and then I thought it was brilliant when I got to a track called Snowed in at Wheeler Street

I've seen two performances this year where the main character appears to have been rehabilitated.  I mentioned The Iron Lady recently...not a film I enjoyed.  And last night we went to see The Collaborators, a new play which in a surreal fashion examines the relationship between Stalin and the playwright Mikhail Bulgakov.  It stars the always delightful Simon Russell-Beale and Alex Jennings (last seen by me this week in Being Human).   Without giving too much away, whilst JS writes a play, Bulgakov makes decisions that lead to The Great Terror.  What I've taken out of the play is that artists are fools and Stalin wasn't such a bad bloke - practical and very wise.  Next thing we'll all be celebrating what a cheerful chap that Adolf Hitler was.  I've come away somewhat bemused.

Talking about Being Human, the fourth series started this week, and if you like humorous stories about a house share involving a ghost a werewolf and a vampire, then this is the programme for you.  Series four is going to be radically different from the previous ones, so I will reserve final opinion until it has developed a lot...but I would certainly recommend the previous outings.

Tomorrow we are off skiing to Zermatt in Switzerland with The Muffins.  There is more snow in Europe than in the entire Antarctic as far as I can tell so we are in for a good week I hope.  The Boy is so hyped, he's been bouncing off the ceiling for weeks.  With his new 'action cam' I fear there will be hours and hours of footage for you to enjoy when we return.  He's also been spending his time trying to decide which songs to use as a changes everyday, so I am hoping that ROL will come to our rescue and will come up with a 'Top  10 ski video songs".  I know he's just itching to do that.

And so to finish in the only way I know how.  Here is the 'bounce' on an e-mail  I sent this week to someone I know at News International, Rupert 'I don't know anything' Murdoch's little play thing:

"I am currently no longer in the office"

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Different lives

It says a lot about the vagaries of life that last night I was swanning around at an event with a man who has just made several £billion by selling some of his company to HP. I gaily went around a room of 250 or more full of confidence and joie de vivre, chatting to so many familiar faces and coming home drunk on the pleasure of the evening.  Today I was  full of aches and pains, covered in dust, cobwebs and twenty years of emotional baggage.

The evening event had been to launch a Foundation which will help bring pupils to The Boy's school who could not otherwise afford to pay the fees.  I was fortunate enough to go there as a grant-aided pupil, and have always been very grateful for that opportunity.  The founder of the school, Francis Bancroft, had bequeathed a legacy and specified that the school should have one hundred scholars from a poorer background.  In recent years as the grant-aided system was closed, the number of pupils who don't come from a monied background has dwindled. So the Foundation has been set up to right this anomaly.  This did set me thinking that I've missed a big chunk of the argument when they talk about kids from public school who go to university rather from state schools.  The Boy's school is not alone amongst public schools in helping the less well off  progress.  So the State School vs Public School debate is more complicated than I had previously really thought.

Today my task was to empty out the basement of The Boy's house.  This is the property left to him and his sister by their mother.  It's been my responsibility to look after because I'm relatively local and property is my business.  After a couple of empty years, it hadbeen me that took the decision to rent it out, and in quite a brutal weekend it had the living quarters emptied of the most (emotionally) valuable things.

It has been rented out for a few years now, but the basement has remained resolutely filled to the ceiling.  Literally.  With new tenants in it had to be emptied.  The easiest thing would have been to get some laboureres in to do it, but there was a feeling  that there may be some precious things down in the dampness.  So I arrived this morning and began the was a bit more monumental than I had anticipated, but I dug in.  I now know what the pit miners felt like - the ceiling is no more than five foot at best, and the ladder down is narrow and steep.  My back was quickly aching as I piled stuff outside the house in readiness for throwing in the Transit I had rented for the day

Like an urban archeologist I waded in uncovering long forgotten secrets.  Some unused kitchen cabinet doors addressed to The Boy's Moother's first husband when they had converted a ramshackle building itno a splendid North London double fronted terraced home.  It must have been very exciting.  So many old clothes from a different age, and hundreds of toys from two childhoods....including a Barbie Doll SUV which I remember building in a panic of Christmas Eve.  The Boy's travelling cot and many books now ruined by damp.  A lot of paperwork from her company which went down in the post-millenium crash.  Some pictures, enough crockery for the finest banquet.....and so on.  There were all sorts of trinkets which I half remembered.  Of our life together the only thing I found were the divorce files.  In another time I'd have looked and seen her side of the story, but really that chapter has closed and I didn't feel it mattered anymore.

Nearing the end and I found the holy grail...a rocking horse which has survived quite intact.  There were lots and lots of soft toys which will head to the charity shop tomorrow, and some badly damaged vinyl albums which probaly can't be revived.

It being Finsbury Park, it was long before the scavengers arrived, and they were welcome to pick.  A couple of hours later and half way through a couple of Romanian guys arrived offering to take the metal and electrical goods...I seized the opportunity and offered them £20 each to help me finish off the task.  An hour later the task was done...there was not a a millimeter to spare...literally. 

I headed off to the municipal tip and an hour later I'd emptied the van all by myself.  I ache from head to toe.  Some of that is the physical exertion, no doubt some of that is emotion of it. 

But it's done.  The past is in the past and the future beckons enticingly.

Monday 6 February 2012

Mr Motivator

There are some bizarre people in the industry I work in.  On Friday I received an e-mail from someone I've known for sometime....many years in fact...saying that although it was short notice, was I free to meet on Monday.  I replied yes, and have heard nothing since.  Not bad, but the same person contacted me several months ago suggesting we meet up, to which I responded yes that would be excellent...I heard no more so re-contacted him, to which the reply had been he didn't know what I was talking about.  One of us is mad.

It was a cruel irony that the one person in our house that truly loves the snow was in the only place in the UK which had none over the weekend.  Instead The Boy was getting drowned in a tropical monsoon in Devon on his Geography field trip.  We were out at the school inter-house drama competition on Saturday night as the snow started to fall.  As parents we are weak and after The Cat performed we sneaked of for a sneaky pizza.  The consequence was that by the time we got back The Cat had been awarded 'Best Supporting Actor', and The Boy's House had won the competition.  I put that down as a parental fail.

It's a remarkable loss when The Boy is not around.  Last year when the snow fell we were all marched out into the forest whilst The Boy strapped on his skis and went for a fun ski.  This year, and in his absence, we were at the shops and bought a fun sledge, which has remained resolutely in the back of the Jeep whilst we remained resolutely in the warm inside the house.  I think that's our loss, as the snow is now melting away so the opportunity this year may have slipped out of our grasp.  We had been scheduled to drive up to Cambridge, but even in The Tank that is the Jeep it didn't seem sensible.  So the day was spent sorting out ski wear for next week and cooking a lovely piece of beef for the evening.  The Boy's energy and enthusiasm can be a pain sometimes, but it's at times like this that I really appreciate how motivating his enthusiasm can be.  Here's last year's video of him skiing in Epping Forest.

And again here