Monday 19 July 2010

Dogs, fireworks and a selfish ****

15st 7lb, 8.4 units. Mrs H returned from Chester station on Friday afternoon with three very fine antiques: my aunt and a pair of Staffordshire china dogs. Only my aunt actually came from the station, to be accurate; she had pottered across from the North East, taking the slow but apparently scenic train from Manchester to Chester, because Mrs H had invited her to stay for the weekend. The Staffordshire dogs had been collected en route, from the shop I pass on my way to my North West office. As potential replacements for the ones smashed (note the absence of a personal pronoun before ‘smashed’) last weekend they were insultingly inadequate, being smaller than the ones that had graced our friends’ guest bedroom and green where theirs had been gold. On the other hand, when they were placed on top of the antique china cabinet that my aunt kindly gave us when she downsized her living arrangements last year, they looked absolutely superb. In fact, we all agreed that it seemed as though they had been standing there forever, and we simply could not imagine the china cabinet without them. A great start, this, for my planned crackdown on unnecessary expenditure.

The ostensible reason for my aunt’s visit was a happy family picnic at the Cholmondley Castle Fireworks Concert on Saturday night. Clearly this is an event that has a powerful appeal to Mrs H, as this is the third year to which she has invited me to it. Indeed, I think that the 2008 concert was inked into my diary within days of our first meeting, and on that occasion she even splashed out on a pair of tickets. But then it pissed with rain all night, so we did not actually use them. Last year, learning from experience, it was inked into the diary but we left it that we would buy tickets on the gate. We had the issue of what to do with a month-old baby, it is true, but I think we concluded that he could come with us since at that stage he slept pretty much all of the time when he wasn’t feeding. No, the clincher was that it pissed with rain all night, so we didn’t feel inclined to go.

Given that track record, was it altogether unreasonable of me to assume that we would not be going in 2010, either? Clearly it is one of those events, like the Hoppings travelling fair on Newcastle Town Moor, that is the infallible signal for a series of mudbath-creating cloudbursts.

It all looked so promising, too, raining steadily through the morning, albeit reining [sic] back to light but persistent drizzle during the afternoon. I have to admit that it did brighten up in the early evening, but it was still a bit on the chilly side and I didn’t feel a total **** when I argued that it would be safer and cheaper, and just as jolly, to have a family picnic in the conservatory instead. My offer to drag the stereo through and play the 1812 Overture in the background was politely turned down, as was my suggestion that I could provide some indoor fireworks by reviving a party trick I have not attempted since my college days. Probably just as well.

At the bottom line, though, the sad fact is that Mrs H really wanted to go to this concert and I really didn’t, because if I go to hear classical music I want to listen to classical music, and not classical music accompanied by the popping of Cava corks, the chinking of glasses, china and cutlery, and a lot of idiots braying at each other to pass the mustard. It would be like having the performers at Glyndebourne come out from the opera house onto the lawn, and play and sing during the picnic. It just wouldn’t be right, in my view. But not in Mrs H’s, clearly, so there is no escaping the conclusion that I am, in fact, a selfish ****. Just in case anyone was harbouring any doubts on that issue.

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