Saturday 1 March 2008

Did the earth move for you too, Abbot?

14st 7lb, a reduction of 1lb over the past month compared with the 7lb planned; perhaps 5.0 units of alcohol in the bottle of unusually meaty Portuguese red wine I finished with yesterday’s supper (could they be disposing of the remains of … no, let’s not go there); 1,434; San Andreas Fault.

I’d spent worse nights in my downstairs bedroom, but probably only the ones when a log fell off the open fire onto the carpet, my previous Border terrier had an attack of what looked and smelt like amoebic dysentery, and an RAF jet crashed through the roof after the pilot ejected to win a bet. Actually, I made one of those up. Still, the house seemed to be intact, and there were relatively few signs of damage in the immediate vicinity. Proof positive how farsighted my local squire’s agents had been with their Elfin Safety tree crackdown. Otherwise there would undoubtedly have been what the papers could only have described as carnage.

I had to call on some friends of mine who, some months ago, downsized from a handsome Georgian mansion to a static caravan in its grounds, pending their further move into some adjacent, derelict cottages. Only they’d prefer to make the second move after the cottages have been restored, a goal which seems ever further off owing to their entry into some sort of loop in the Kafkaesque planning process. Still, at least they demonstrated great foresight in getting their well-cushioned friend the Abbot to stay on the very night of the year when the caravan was in greatest need of anchoring to the ground. Although he would make splendid advertising material for Greene King, I don’t call him the Abbot because of his devotion to the eponymous real ale, but because he is indeed in charge of one of the country’s most distinguished religious institutions. I was about to crack my usual joke about kissing his ring, when I remembered how well it had gone down last time. So we sat around drinking coffee, discussing the terrible price of train tickets these days, passing around a bound volume of the Model Engineer for 1904, and hoping for swift and painless deaths.

Tomorrow the regular occupants of the caravan have some other friends coming, with whom I am also acquainted. They kindly invited me to join them for supper, but I was unconvinced by the answer to my question “and just how are five largeish people supposed to eat dinner in a static caravan without a table?” So I suggested that they come to my house instead. The objective of my visit was to collect the centrepiece of the meal, a pork joint so vast that the quartermaster of a typical British regiment would probably have asked the butcher if he’d mind awfully taking a bit off it. When I loaded it into the car, I half expected it to fall over like Fred Flintstone’s, when the waitress at the drive-in delivered his order of tyrannosaurus ribs. It certainly struggled to make it up the hill back home.

I was too exhausted by the excitements of London and the storm to do much for the rest of the day beyond snoozing, reading the papers and watching sitcoms on TV (required viewing since I’m supposed to be writing a hilarious sitcom myself. Only it seems easier, on the whole, to write this). The dog and I did manage an afternoon walk in the still stiff breeze, in the course of which one of my neighbours brought me up to date with the full horror of Wednesday’s earthquake. Apparently her goldfish are still in shock. I suggested that she upgraded to Japanese koi carp, which should be used to that sort of thing, but apparently you cannot win those from hoop-la stalls at agricultural shows. Another useless fact for the blog, I thought gratefully.

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