Tuesday 30 June 2009

Edging back?

15st 0lb, 1.5 unit. I proved to be wrong about yesterday’s Tom Gutteridge column in The Journal. It was not about “The Michael Jackson I knew” but “The Michael Jackson I never met.” Damn. I felt like a man who has to hit a bullseye to win a vital darts match (if that is not an oxymoron) and finds that his arrow has landed just in the ring around it, after unluckily making a deflecting contact with the wire.

In my own column today (see http://www.keithhann-whyohwhy.com/2009/06/changing-by-accident-or-design.html) I decided to address the critics who lambasted my previous effort about the arrival of The Baby for being “soft” and representing “an almost complete role exchange with Wife in the North”. Which I would not mind one little bit, I must say, if it meant that I got her readership and publishing income. I was faintly encouraged when my editor shrewdly asked “do I detect a little edge from one or two nights when one could have done with another five minutes sleep?” (which would be right on the button) as the absence of “edge” seems to be what my critics principally complain about. Having said that, someone at The Journal felt it necessary to blunt it a bit, in the printed version, by amending my description of John Bercow from “a midget” to “a man small in stature”. A decision presumably inspired by the very real danger of direct action against The Journal's offices by the much-feared NADMADAG (Northumberland And Durham Midget And Dwarf Action Group), also known as The Little Terrors.

Yes, it has to be admitted that Baby-related lack of sleep is making me considerably tetchier than usual. Which is a bit of a worry, given that I started from such a high base of extreme tetchiness in the first place. I knew things were bad when I was packing up to leave for a short visit to Northumberland yesterday, and burst back into the house announcing, as a last straw, that “Now some f***ing idiot’s parked right across the drive!” When it should have been obvious that the only likely candidate for this title was one of Mrs H’s closest friends, who had popped around to worship The Baby and was standing with him in her arms looking somewhat surprised and abashed as I delivered myself of my outburst. Sorry about that, Philippa.

I was completely knackered by the time I completed the 222-mile journey, of which the highlight came on the Military Road that follows (and indeed largely replaces) Hadrian’s Wall, when I spotted a camper van stopped dead in the middle of the carriageway, for no obvious reason, right in front of me. Luckily it is a dead straight road and I could see far enough ahead to establish that there was plenty of time and room to pass it before the next oncoming car arrived, so did not think to ease off the accelerator as I approached. Imagine my surprise when a youth stepped out of the vehicle and nonchalantly positioned himself in the middle of the road directly in front of me to take a photograph. Though it was probably nothing to his surprise as I sounded my horn and gave vent to just a portion of my extensive vocabulary of swear words. Luckily for him he chose to leap out of the way. But if not, I suppose it would have made for a memorable last picture when they picked the camera out of his squashed remains. Albeit not in the same league as some of those of the 2004 tsunami, or that spoof one of the tourists posing at the top of the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001, and failing to spot the approaching jet behind them.

I felt a great sense of peace when I finally arrived home. I really cannot imagine why anyone would ever want to live anywhere else. Indeed, the feeling was so strong that by the time I had finished tending to my plants and tidying the house, I simply did not have the strength to drive back to Chester as originally planned, and had no alternative but to endure another lonely but unbroken night’s sleep, with a refreshing Northumbrian breeze blowing on me through the open windows of my hilltop bedroom.

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