Sunday 29 June 2008

The Bearded Git almost made her a Curmudgeon

Weight still a mystery (though I think it’s a safe bet that the pie did it); 11.0 units of alcohol yesterday; 1,316; Olympia.

Sleep was much enhanced by the LTCB charming the club’s receptionist into supplying us with an oscillating fan that actually worked, whereas I’d just have kept moaning about the non-functioning one that we were originally supplied with. This got our day off to a much better start, and it improved still further when the usual Oriental lady knocked on the door with a pot of tea at 8, bringing with her a copy of The Sunday Telegraph. This led with yet more bad news for Gordon Brown: the resignation of Wendy Alexander and of a Scottish MP on the grounds of “stress”, forcing a by-election. I wondered how much more of this sort of thing anyone could be expected to take, and said that if I were Gordon Brown I’d be sorely tempted to take the easy way out with a bottle of Scotch and a pearl-handled revolver. The LTCB looked shocked, and said (quite rightly) that this was an absolutely dreadful thing to propose for a man with young children, adding that there were many things in life more important than political success. I had no difficulty agreeing with this proposition, but wondered whether Gordon Brown would necessarily see it the same way, given that he has spent his entire adult life plotting and manoeuvring to secure the job at which he has now proved himself to be comprehensively useless. The LTCB noted that I had spent my whole adult life wanting to be a successful humorist, yet I still seemed to be alive despite my lack of tangible success on any front – novelist, columnist or blogger. So I changed the subject.

We made it to breakfast in the Coffee Room today, and found ourselves surrounded by older couples who could most kindly be described as grotesque. There was one bloke of about my age eating on his own, and he grinned at me as if to say “Well done, my son” for landing my attractive companion, with perhaps a supplementary undertone of “How much?” Luckily club etiquette and decorum precluded him from reinforcing his message by making a rude gesture with his forearm, which would have lowered the tone considerably.

After breakfast we made our way by tube to High Street Kensington, where we took a long and leisurely walk westwards, and I passed the time looking for long vanished landmarks from the time of my own residence in Earl’s Court, in the mid-1980s. We eventually arrived at a parade of three shops where speaking Persian was a distinct advantage in doing business; a skill which the LTCB possesses, but I don’t. For although she is a British citizen born in Manchester, my girlfriend’s roots lie somewhat further east, in a country which I am sure she would prefer me not to name; but it is in the Axis of Evil and remains on George W. Bush’s “to do” list. She bought a selection of pastries, fruit and pistachio nuts, all of which were utterly delicious, though I had been warned that I would not like the pastries as they were far too sweet for Western tastes. Perhaps; but not necessarily for Geordie ones.

Like the gentleman that I am pretending to be for her benefit, I escorted the LTCB to Euston and saw her safely onto the 14.05 to Liverpool, which was already full of people who had intended to travel on earlier, cancelled trains to Manchester and Glasgow. To ensure that there was room for them, Virgin Trains had helpfully cancelled all the seat reservations on the 14.05 and made it into a “first come, first served” free-for-all. Luckily, we were early enough for the LTCB to slip into one of the few remaining seats, though she admitted that, as she lugged her suitcase through the packed carriages, the words “Oh for f***’s sake!” were dangerously close to her lips. And what could be worse for a beautiful, amusing and still young woman than to find herself turning into me?

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