9 Months, 18 Days still sober
Day 6 in the UK and naturally, still sober.
To be fair to my family, not one of them has taken me near any establishment that caters for booze imbibers and neither have they drunk anything even vaguely alcoholic in my presence – not even a chocolate liquor!
I was asked by my cousin when I visited him in Ferring if I would like to have some non-alcoholic wine with my lunch. It actually sounded revolting, but apart from that, I have a distrust of alcoholic products which claim to be non-alcoholic, as I recall many years ago, it was revealed that so called ‘non-alcoholic beer’ actually contained a very small amount of alcohol. Fine if you want to keep under the driving limit, but not good if you are a recovering alcoholic. So I politely declined.
I must confess that in my dotage I seem to be morphing into a cross between the grumpy old bastard in ‘One Foot in the Grave’, the equally grumpy incident prone ‘Hero’, Larry David, in ‘Curb your Enthusiasm’ and maybe even I bring back memories of long forgotten Michael Crawford in ‘Some Mothers Do ‘av’em.’
Incidents, accidents and misfortunes seem to track me at every turn, since I arrived at Heathrow. I had already lost my glasses last Sunday and then another incident occurred during my last morning in Kent, last Tuesday.
Before leaving my brother’s house in I committed a terrible faux pas. I succeeded in breaking the shower head in his bathroom when I had my morning shower and I am still awaiting the dreaded sibling’s call of wrath.
Actually, I didn’t really break it – it was already broken – well loose, if that counts as broken. It was held together with black electrical tape that had been wrapped around the ball joint to keep it connected to the shower head stem. I decided it was a bit loose so pulled of the head to take a look, whereupon the tape unwound itself from the base and fluttered onto the floor and disappeared down the plug’ole!
Not knowing what else to do, I replaced the head onto the stem but water splattered out in each and every direction. I tried to twist it tight but to no avail. In desperation, I wrapped some toilet paper round it and stuffed the head back in its place. It was a miracle! It worked! The water shot out of the shower nozzle and everything was as it should be – for maybe 10 seconds or so, then without the warning, the nozzle flew out and hit me on the head, the toilet paper disintegrated and plopped onto the floor and quickly followed the electrical tape down the plug’ole.
Then horror upon horror, the shower floor started to fill with water; the drain whole was blocked with electrical tape, toilet tissue, and no doubt many years accumulation of pubic and other hair follicles.
I was in a bit of a pickle. The shower was flooded with stagnant water and the shower head was broken. Undaunted, the doughty Mobi set to work ladling out the shower stall with the toothpaste glass and wrapped some fresh dry toilet tissue around the shower stem, before reinserting the head once again.
20 minutes later, the flood was all mopped up and I knew for sure the shower would work as normal for at least ten seconds before all hell broke loose.
Then I gingerly tip toed into my room, got dressed and had Sid drop me at Tonbridge station.
I am still awaiting the dreaded call.
Feeling somewhat stressed from my unfortunate bathroom adventures, I only paid half an ear to Sid’s instructions on what trains to catch and where to change. This was a mistake, as I ballsed it all up – what else? I should have alighted at London Bridge and waited for the ‘Bedford’ train which would have taken me to St Pancras, which was then just a minute’s walk to King’s Cross where I would catch the train to Peterborough.
Sounds straight forward enough, but not simple enough for stupid Mobi. What did I do? Well I alighted at London Bridge, but instead of waiting for the train to St Pancras, I caught the next train to Charring Cross and then proceeded to get hopelessly lost on the underground system of central London, searching for the one that would eventually take me to King’s Cross. And all this time, lugging my 3 bags of luggage along narrow tunnels, and up and down flights of connecting stairs.
Eventually, after several false journeys and much enquiring of unhelpful passengers who all looked at me as though I was going to mug them, and the intense studying of incomprehensible multi-coloured maps of London’s vast tube system, I eventually made it to King’s cross. I was exhausted, but in one piece and had even few minutes to spare before my train departed – thanks to me allowing myself an extra hour for getting lost!
Yes, I now know myself only too well.
My Arrival at London Bridge, and departure to Peterborough
The 45 minute journey from London to Peterborough was uneventful except for a small incident with the ticket inspector when he asked for my ticket and I produced it, only to be told it wasn’t a ticket. Well it had the network rail logo on it, it said ‘London to Peterborough’ and it was the right date and time and it was issued by a machine at Tonbridge train station.
But according to the train man – it wasn’t a ticket! I asked him what on earth did he think it was; but he declined to answer, he just kept repeating his demand for me to produce a bonafide ticket, before he ejected me bodily from the moving train.
I searched in my pocket and produced all the rubbish I could find that might have been spewed out of the ticket machine at Tonbridge, and amongst this detritus, the ticket man plucked the document he was looking for, a card identical in every way to the one I had produced earlier, clipped it with his metal ticket clipper; threw it back into my lap with disdain and stormed off in a huff! He was obviously, disappointed that he couldn’t throw me off the train.
Lovely Samantha, my 25 year old daughter was waiting dutifully at Peterborough station for her crusty old dad, and soon we were winging our way in her comfy old VW Polo to her delightful home in Stamford, which, for you perfectionists out there is actually in the county of Rutland, and not Lincolnshire, as I had previously stated.
They bought their home, an early 70’s, ex- council house a year ago and it is a veritable warren of a place with good sized rooms in every department including 3 sizeable bedrooms. They have settled in very well and are very comfortable there. Sam says they have no plans to move – ever! Let’s see, shall we?
Samantha’s back yard and home in Stamford
Samantha is an honours graduate from Leeds University in cognitive science and has since worked for the Royal Blind Association, translating music (she is a grade 8 accomplished musician in piano, clarinet and saxophone – sickening isn’t it?), and literature into Braille, and for the past year she has been training to be a teacher. One week after her wedding, she is taking up a position with a prestigious grammar school in Peterborough as a maths teacher, while at the same time studying for her Master’s degree.
Of course I am a very proud father. What father wouldn’t be – especially one who left school at 16 without a qualification to his name and hasn’t exactly distinguished himself in his later life.
We have had a great couple of days chatting together and catching up on old times; for it has been 4 long years since we have seen each other and even then it was just for a two week holiday in Thailand.
Yesterday, Samantha’s fiancé went to work, while the two of us hanged out together at home in the morning and then drove into Peterborough in the afternoon to catch a movie. On the way, we had an hour or so to spare before the movie so we stopped at Burghley to take a short walk around the estate.
Burghley is the venue for the famous Horse Trials and constitutes a large Elizabethan manor on a huge estate and parkland which was designed by Capability Brown. Through the years it has been the location for many movies, including The Da Vinci Code and Pride and Prejudice.
Living for several years in east Northamptonshire, I have been to Stamford many times in the past but confess that I never realised that Burghley was in such close proximity. Well I guess my hunting grounds were more Northants and Cambridgeshire than Rutland.
Anyway, Samantha parked up and we took a very pleasant 25 minute stroll through the vast estate and even spotted a herd of deer at pasture in the distance. Since I have been in England I have not experienced any angina pains in my arm or chest and I wondered why this should be. Samantha suggested it may be because that the heat in Thailand is more restrictive on blood flow –she may well be right, but whatever the reason may be, I am not complaining.
Burghley House & estate
The movie, at a multiplex in Peterborough, was ‘Rise of the Planet of The Apes’ and, I regret to say was a load of old garbage. The special effects were excellent and production values clearly of the most expensive and expert calibre, but the story line was totally rubbish.
I had expected much better, as the original Planet of the Apes with Charlton Heston was a pretty good film and the write ups had indicated that this ‘prequel’ was also pretty good. But it really wasn’t folks. If you fancy watching a bunch of computer generated primates jumping around the screen, with the predictable idiot scientist who is prepared to cut corners to save his Dad, a money grasping drug laboratory owner/boss, a wicked Ape- house keeper who delights in tormenting his ape inmates (and of course duly gets his comeuppance), a ‘Neighbour from hell’, a magic serum that overnight turns stupid animals into intellectual geniuses and a shoot out on the Golden Gate bridge where the Apes kill all the cops and the Ape leader suddenly breaks into the English language, then this is the film for you. For Mobi, I regret not…..
But it was all good hokum pokum fun and Sam and I had a good giggle as we drove into Peterborough town centre to pick up, Rod, her fiancé from his office.
Today, day six back in Blighty, I had my first sight of that wonderful phenomenon, English rain. Sam and I had driven into Stamford town centre to take a short walk around the town and we had been strolling along the ancient, historic streets for about 10 minutes when the summer drizzle started. We quickly popped into Marks and Sparks to get out of the wet so Sam did some small shopping.
She looked so pretty at the till, paying for her stuff, that I decided to take a quick snap of her. Barely had I clicked the camera aperture than the elderly matron of a cashier shouted at me: ‘No cameras are allowed in here!’
Oh dear, here we go again…
‘What? excuse me? I was just taking a picture of my daughter, what’s the problem?
She glared at me. ‘How do I know that you’re not taking a photo of my till, or the merchandise?’
‘Why would I do that?’
‘You might be spying for a competitor.’
I laughed at her, and pointed my camera at her. ‘Maybe I should take a picture if you, my boss might want to see what his competitor’s staff look like…or maybe you would like me to take out the memory card and destroy all the photos in my camera?’
‘No, that won’t be necessary… just go!’
We went back out into the rain and Sam and I laughed our heads off.
Next stop was lunch so we went into a very ancient building that housed a snack cum coffee shop spread over two floors, and we went up to the second floor where there was a nice little secluded alcove with benches and tables. I sat down and before I knew what was happening, the bench upon which I was sitting, opposite Samantha, was suddenly pushed forward, squashing me into the table. I pushed back to get my bench back in position, whereupon whoever was sitting on the other side once more tried to push it my way.
This was ridiculous! I was having a ‘bench pushing’ fight with some unseen person on the other side of the high bench. Not to be out done I pushed with all my might and suddenly an elderly man and his wife jumped up from the bench and hurried to another table nearby, accusing me of trying to push them away!
‘Dad, first you start a fight in Marks and Spencer and now you try to assault two pensioners in the café. Whatever next?’
I looked worriedly at my daughter’s face, thinking for a moment that she was getting angry with me. But I detected the tell-tale signs of mirth in the corner of her eyes, and knew that she was enjoying her old man’s silly moments, the third in as many days.
Tomorrow, (actually today, as it is 12.30 am UK time), my brother, Sid, is driving up from Kent, picking me up in Stamford and taking me up to Allendale, near Newcastle to meet up with some friends, some of whom I have not set eyes on for nearly 50 years. It promises to be an interesting weekend indeed.
More later, probably early next week.
In the meantime, if you wish to get brief updates on my progress and you do not subscribe to Twitter, you can log onto my blog home page (this page), at any time and click on the latest Twitter updates as they are posted periodically in the right hand margin of my blog.
BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…,BUTT… I don’t give a hoot!…