Friday 25 July 2008

Ending up in a caravan in Killingworth?

14st 0lb; zero alcohol yesterday; 1,290; North Tyneside.

My dream world continues to deteriorate. After a series of early mornings in which I have been sharing deeply unsatisfactory lodgings with old friends from my schooldays, this morning I found myself crammed into a tiny caravan with an old pal who is on the chunky side, and his grotesquely supersized wife. I woke in a sweat, just short of screaming.

Still, I was soon cheered by hearing the news on the wireless of Gordon Brown’s latest triumph in the Glasgow East by-election, then by catching up with yesterday’s newspapers. There was a splendid and evidently self-composed announcement by one Joseph Noden in the Daily Telegraph: “at the age of 79 … I have reluctantly died after a completely medicore [sic] but nonetheless thoroughly enjoyable life.” One feels that he would have appreciated the mis-spelling. Perhaps, indeed, he made it himself. Meanwhile the Northumberland Gazette excelled itself with a challenging competition to win five copies of Wife in the North. Mistakenly headlined “Life in the North” and accompanied by a picture of “Author Judith O’Reilly” it set readers the daunting task of answering the question “Who is the author of Wife in the North?” Cue much sucking of pens, marital arguments and extensive internet research across north Northumberland. I look forward to the announcement next week that there were no lucky winners and apologizing for making the competition too intellectually demanding.

At lunchtime I went to see a PR man who is based in the Soho of Tyneside: Killingworth. At least he had the presence of mind to drive us to Osborne Road in Jesmond for lunch, in car which smelt pleasingly of fags. A happily nostalgic aroma, taking me back to the days of my childhood as effectively as Proust’s madeleine. Like a true PR man, he had promised me that we would be sitting in the sun drinking wine and watching attractive girls in very short skirts walk by. And like most PR pitches, this fell down on several counts: (a) our table was in the shade, though not sheltered enough to prevent anything that wasn’t held down with a heavy glass ashtray being whipped away by the wind; (b) we both drank beer; and (c) he had forgotten that the students who provide the totty factor are on vacation. There was also a bit of an issue with wasps, which had somehow been omitted from the prospectus.

I called out gleefully when I finally spotted an attractive and lightly clad female advancing up the road towards us; my pleasure turning to something like alarm when she drew closer, and I realized that she was only about 13. It was a genuine and easy mistake to make, M’Lud, but it is still of the sort that could lead to a Bloke gaining an unfortunate reputation.

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