Friday 17 April 2009

Mr Mellow's PR triumph

14st 13lb, 1.0 unit. Apparently I am mellowing. So I am advised, at any rate, by readers of my newspaper column, who regularly let me know how much they preferred it when I was lonely, bitter, twisted and misanthropic. All of which, apart from lonely, I believe that I still am. However, there may be something in it as Mrs H repeated the same sentiment with some force this morning, after I had made a second assault on my car armed with a hosepipe and a large bottle of strongly scented disinfectant. “If I had done that a few months ago,” she alleged, “you would have driven me straight to Alnmouth station and dumped me on the platform.” I had to concede that she might be right. But at least I always liked her enough to go for the comparatively civilized platform option, rather than thinking of dropping her off a bridge onto the tracks.

We had a busy day of it, even when we weren’t making efforts to remove half-digested grains of rice from vehicular crevices, or pausing to sniff the air thoughtfully. My estate agent came to see us to explain why my house was still for sale, and to suggest ways forward (luckily more advertising rather than a massive price cut); we took my car to Alnwick for a service; and then we continued into Newcastle for the signing of Mrs H’s Will (NOW dropping her off a railway bridge and onto the tracks becomes a serious option) and an extended visit to the baby department of the store I still think of as Bainbridge’s. Here we blew the gift vouchers many people had given us as wedding presents, presumably because they could not bring themselves to buy anything on our actual wedding list. We splurged them on a vast range of infant requisites, from cots and mattresses for our two homes to a “travel system” (buggy and car seat), mobile (I said that he was much too young for one of those, but Mrs H explained that it was a sort of musical, moving thing to help him sleep, rather than for talking to his mates and sending texts), monitor, muslin squares, breast pump (huh?) and so on and so forth. You name it, we bought it. The only surprising thing to me was that the Geordie shop assistant regularly advised us that we did not really need things that had caught Mrs H’s fancy, or recommended cheaper alternatives to the expensive ones towards which we naturally gravitated.

This evening we had a splendid supper at my aunt’s house (TWO steak pies – one with kidney, one without, now there is luxury for you) to introduce her to the mother of one of my fellow columnists. This lady has only recently moved back to the North East, to be nearer her to son and recently born granddaughter, and we thought she and my aunt might get on. Supper generated one memorable put-down, when my aunt was describing how she had been evacuated from Birmingham during the war and asked her guest whether she had experienced anything similar. “Oh no,” she replied, “I was MUCH too old to be evacuated. I was in London having the time of my life!”

One thing I shall miss as that generation passes into the history is the misty-eyed nostalgia of those who were young women at the time for a period of striking, er, liberation. Fewer young men seem to have found being shot at or blown up quite so much of a laugh.

The two ladies parted with promises to meet again soon, after they discovered that they both not only enjoyed playing Scrabble but adhered to an unusual variation of the standard rules commonly known as “cheating” with the aid of a dictionary. I therefore felt able to mark the introduction down as another PR triumph.

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