Saturday 4 October 2008

The Great North Rain

14st 4lb; zero alcohol yesterday; 1,220 days until the deathclock strikes one, as The Queen might put it; Mount Ararat.

I spent my morning performing a series of tedious domestic tasks, mainly of a cleaning and tidying nature, then drove into Alnwick clutching the shopping list that the Less Tall Cheshire Brunette had e-mailed to me yesterday. This contained details of all the slow-release, high-energy foodstuffs she would need to consume to ensure a surprisingly strong performance in tomorrow’s Great North Run, without recruiting a savage dog or a fat, amorous lesbian to snap at her heels.

I also tried to get my watch mended, as I am fed up with missing things because of its recent habit of randomly stopping and restarting again. I had temporarily forgotten that no-one actually mends anything these days, so the response of the shop where I bought it was confined to checking the battery and pronouncing that there was nothing wrong with that (which I could have told them, as it is not so long since they installed a replacement for me). Beyond that, they could only advise me to dig out my receipt and check whether I had bought the watch less than two years ago, in which case it was still under guarantee and they would graciously return it to the manufacturer for me, no doubt with a note suggesting that they might like to try a bit harder. Failing which, I could chuck it in the bin and buy a new one. The twenty-first century answer to everything, after “Have you tried switching it off and back on again?” has failed to produce the desired result.

I am, of course, one of the few people in Britain anal enough to be able to assert with confidence that I will indeed have filed their receipt, and be in a position to retrieve it. On the other hand, I am equally sure that the watch will prove to have been purchased something like two years and one day ago. F*** my luck, as we say so often in the North East.

A lot of people think that farmers are stupid. I have to confess that I wonder myself sometimes, but they certainly weren’t so dumb last night when they disturbed my sleep by running their combine harvesters and the supporting cast of tractors and trailers until well past midnight. Because it was absolutely chucking it down by this afternoon, as they had no doubt anticipated from the twinges in their bunions, the look of the seaweed they keep nailed up on the inside of the back door, or looking at the Met Office site on that there new-fangled tinterweb thingumajig.

By the time I came to drive down the A697 to pick up the LTCB from Newcastle Central Station (so called to distinguish it from, er …) there was almost as much surface water on the road as there had been at the time of last month’s floods. To add to the joy of life, the centre of Newcastle was close to gridlock and, when I finally reached the station, the short stay car park proved to be closed as the forecourt was once again full of “rail replacement buses”. What could be more natural than identifying a weekend when several tens of thousands of runners and their families will be trying to get to Tyneside, and closing half the sodding rail routes into it? That way they can undertake the work with minimal inconvenience to travellers, ensuring that the infrastructure will be working perfectly the next time it is really in demand.

When we finally got home I traipsed off for a walk with the dog in the pissing rain, while the LTCB sat on the sofa right in front of the sitting room fire, where I found her on my return complaining about the cold. This despite the thermometer I have hung by the door demonstrating that the room temperature was a positively sweltering (by local standards) 70ºF. I gave her a short demonstration of how the heat could be raised even further by rising from the sofa and adding a shovel full of the black rock-like things from the adjacent bucket to the blaze. She expressed amazement. I think she may be having difficulty adjusting to the concept of a house without a central heating boiler or thermostat.

The LTCB made supper, majoring on athlete-friendly wholewheat pasta, and chose the DVD we watched after it: a film called Run, Fat Boy, Run. Have I mentioned before that the first thing that attracted me to her was her highly compatible sense of humour?

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