Tuesday 12 August 2008

Reasonably glorious

Weight a mystery; 8.4 units of alcohol yesterday; 1,272 days to go; Deeside.

The electricity came back on in the early hours, when the employees of the local power company had finished their game of cards, settled up, enjoyed a nice cup of tea and then got round to replacing the metal coat hanger that serves to bridge the fuses in the nearest sub-station. The immediate result was that I was jerked roughly awake because we had not performed our usual nightly ritual of turning things off as we went to bed, and the room was consequently flooded with light. It has been a dream of mine since I was about 13 to be jerked roughly awake, but this was not exactly what I had in mind. Still, it could have been worse, I reflected as I staggered around turning things off and then fumbling my way to the bathroom. For example, we could have been woken by the fire brigade felling the front door with an axe, if the guttering candle we had left burning on top of the lavatory cistern had been only an inch or two closer to the net curtains flapping in the breeze nearby.

The highlight of my morning was receiving two requests from people who want to be my friends on Facebook. Ahhh. Though it would be better, on the whole, if they wanted to be friends with me in real life. The mystifying thing is that one of them is already just about the busiest person I know, notorious for his inability to respond to conventional e-mails. How, then, is he going to find time to send and receive messages through a more clunkingly inconvenient intermediary, not to mention coping with the relentless pressure to take likeness quizzes, send good karma and virtual gifts, and all the rest of the time-wasting nonsense?

Before you ask, I only joined the bloody thing because someone told me that it would be the best way to check out a date, in the days when I had such things.

She wasn’t on there. At least not under the false name she had given me.

It really was the most miserable of mornings, with the rain that has become the default setting of summer 2008 absolutely lashing down. So I decided to devote it to something worthless but dry, namely writing my blog. Surprisingly the rain gods packed it in around 10, evidently suffering from exhaustion, and I took the dog for a walk by the River Dee. I had long harboured the suspicion that the road called Meadows Lane might lead to the Meadows, and so it proved, opening up an exciting new circular route. The Less Tall Cheshire Brunette, who has lived in the area for a decade, expressed total astonishment when I revealed this intelligence to her in the evening.

But before that there was lunch to consider. I had resolved to have only the lightest of snacks, as I had arranged to take the LTCB out to dinner, in a grovelling attempt to make up for my untimely departure on Saturday. I thought a swift lunchtime pint in the LTCB’s local might provide the answer, but the place proved to be shut. I am sure I have seen it open in the middle of the day before, but perhaps it only bothers to do so during term time, to meet the needs of the 14-year-olds from the nearby secondary school.

So I walked on towards the throbbing heart of Chester. The next pub I encountered was open and looked appealingly small, quiet and old-fashioned, but it had a sign outside proclaiming that it was “a friendly pub for friendly people”, which clearly ruled me out. So I wandered on to another pub which looked very appealing indeed, but advertised itself as a “a nice pub for nice people”. Obviously no go again. I evidently had no alternative but to continue to the place I have come to think of as The Curmudgeon’s Arms, where a perfect pint of Landlord and a packet of pork scratchings set me up nicely for a light snack: just a couple of feet of Cumberland sausage coiled around the edge of the plate, holding back a lake of thick onion gravy which was lapping the foot of a mountain of mashed potatoes, carrots and swede. I think the chef might well have been a geography teacher before turning to catering. In fact, he might well have been kicked out of the LTCB’s local school for dealing in drugs, because I am sure that he must have sneaked some soporific or other into my meal. At any rate, I spent the afternoon asleep on the sofa.

The LTCB returned from work and changed into what I thought was a Little Black Dress for her night out, though I was later informed that it was, in fact, a Little Black Skirt and Top. At any rate, she looked lovely, and I am not just saying that in a blatant attempt to be ingratiating. As she does not share my enthusiasm for getting trashed, it seemed only sensible to accept her kind offer to drive us to the riverside restaurant which had been her choice for the evening, though after half an hour or so on the road I did begin to wish that I had taken my own car and used the sat nav. Given that it would only have been about a 15 minute walk from her house if one were prepared to swim across the River Dee at the end of it. When we arrived, I made myself dangerously unpopular by suggesting that it might be better, on the whole, not to park on the double yellow lines outside; adding that, amazingly, double yellow lines did not cease to have legal force if one parked half on the pavement so that the car straddled the lines rather than having two wheels actually resting on them. My second astounding revelation of the day.

When we eventually made it into the restaurant, a cheerful bloke behind the bar announced with a grin that we were so late that he had given our table away. Luckily he added that he was only joking before I could make some pointedly acid comments about the place appearing to be more or less empty, or indeed execute my Plan B of grabbing his head and slamming it repeatedly into the bar before leaving. As things turned out, we had an excellent table next to huge plate glass windows which occupied a whole wall and offered splendid, sweeping views over the River Dee and Meadows; the changing river scene and the darkening sky were beautiful; the food was superb; the waitresses were nice; and the company was enchanting. What more could any Bloke ask of life?

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