Tuesday 5 August 2008

Showing her blonde roots

14st 1lb; zero alcohol yesterday, for a change; 1,279; Town Moor.

I am moved to begin this entry by recording that I enjoyed seven hours of completely uninterrupted sleep last night. I can’t remember when that last happened. And the bed wasn’t unusually damp when I woke up, either.

One of the Third World features of living in the middle of nowhere in Northumberland is the periodic failure of the water supply, usually because someone has ploughed up a pipe. It went off in the middle of the evening yesterday, but was restored in time for a late bath this morning. There was a substantial residue of red soil in the bottom of the tub when I climbed out of it, and I felt pretty sure that it had come through the tap rather than off me, so the benefit of the exercise was probably more psychological than practical; I was almost certainly dirtier than before I got into the bath, but I felt refreshed.

Then, continuing the theme of failure, my desktop computer went bang when I turned it on this morning. It proved to have blown a fuse, so I changed that and it went bang again, in a final and decisive sort of way. Luckily I have a substitute laptop on which to go on churning out drivel.

Today I had been invited to lunch by the greatest fan of my newspaper column, an 85-year-old lady who sent a spirited letter of protest to the editor when my column disappeared for a time two years ago (though in point of fact it was my fault, not his, and she should really have been writing to me). We ate roast pheasant in her large, comfortable flat with its sweeping views across Newcastle Town Moor, and she even produced the leaflet from her game dealer in Scotland to demonstrate that we were not consuming road kill, as if I would ever have suspected such a thing. My fan revealed that she was planning to “make things easier” for her offspring by selling off some of her valuables, and only the presence of her daughter and my aunt prevented me from offering her a Scottish pound note in exchange for her table silver.

My aunt had told me on the way down that she had taken a firm and irreversible decision to stop driving next year, when she reaches her 85th birthday. She argued, convincingly, that buses were free and she was only a short walk from the railway station, and that she could pay for a lot of taxis with the money she would save in petrol, insurance and road tax. I asked whether anyone had tried to persuade her to change her mind, and she said not. Funny, that. Still, her driving seems perfectly acceptable when one has just drunk a can of beer and half a bottle of red wine, and feels no wish to drive oneself.

The LTCB rang me at the unfashionably late hour of 11, having had her evening plans thrown into some disarray by a minor mishap. As she was entering her house after work this evening, the door handle had come off in her hand. Being a lateral thinker, she worked out that she could easily close the door when she went out again, by gripping it by the letter box. So she did that, leaving the door handle lying indoors on her sofa. It was only when she returned from her evening riding lesson that she worked out that she was unable to open the door without a handle to turn the latch mechanism. Luckily the landlord of her local pub lent her a pair of pliers, which was jolly sporting of him given that she has never been a customer. I must go and have a few pints there when I am next in Chester, just to show my appreciation; at any rate, that is the convenient excuse that I shall be using for my night on the ale.

The LTCB who, as her soubriquet partially suggests, is a dusky Persian beauty, foolishly volunteered the information that a previous boyfriend had said that, if he had not known better, he would have sworn that she had blonde roots. I shall not forget that line in a hurry.

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