October 2009


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Back ‘home’.

It was a remarkable trip and I am very grateful to everyone who made it possible. I had been meaning to to visit Hugh, Isobel, Patch, Wilf and Jessie for an age. It was really good to be able to visit Richard at the same time. It was really good to see Richard, and be part of a family who not only do not object to eating what I cook and listen to tales and stories, but who thank me for it! And I must remember to mention young Danny and (I think) Joe, who stopped for several nights.

The prompt to actually book the tickets were prompted by thoughts of the sort of meeting that a Catholic would need to confess, but the truth is, probably, that the meeting was planned never to happen by anyone but me.

I felt really quite rough yesterday with what I assume is Stress Induced Cold Symptoms (or SICS), though I am now coughing and sneezing, but that may just be SIIBS (Sod It I’m Back Syndrome. The stress was largely coming from the Council Tax and missing calls about it and other things, and the fact the Tax is not resolved even now, and I have a court appearance Monday if tomorrow’s processing is not in my favour. On top of that I had a call on the answer service telling me I needed to book at my doctors to give another bloody sample. I have no chance of finding out why until tomorrow. It is most likely to be a lost/mistested sample, but it could be to check something, just possibly serious. I was talking to Isobel and her gardener, as they where digging, when I got the doctor message, and I suddenly felt very, very tired.

On the other hand I also made a massive pot of soup yesterday that all praised, including the youngest. I also managed to work out how to play their Wallace & Grommit CD (though it took a good polish with my t-shirt) and Patch then found their Creature Comforts CD. So I spent several wonderful hours on a comfy sofa in a warm room watching telly, luxuries mostly lacking in my house.

On the train back today I started sat next to an old man in the wrong seat. His actual seat said he would get off at Bristol Parkway. I asked him when we had stopped there. He said he was off at Birmingham. The ticket checker asked him for the 60+ railcard to go with his ticket, and he had never heard of it (he said: Never heard of it! I haven’t been on a train for years!). When we got to Birmingham New Street he still didn’t get off, and there was no spare seat now. He said he was going to Birmingham West (to get a train to Carlisle!). Our train did not stop there. I am sure he did get off, but God knows what happened to him afterwards. God knows what he was doing in Paighton, because I am certain now he was booked from there to Parkway. The most shocking question though is who the hell was responsible for booking him on a journey with so many changes without bothering to check he had a railcard and the ability to understand. I hope he got home.

The three people who got round the same table as me at New Street were Karen and her daughters Abby and Holly, and they were really nice. I got given one of great granny’s cakes within the first five minutes! I did show Holly how to make a flapping bird, so in exchange for feed I repaid with giving them the origami virus!

I got home and had to go straight out again to deliver the wage slip (from Bradford Council) to Bradford Council’s Benefit Appeals that should mean the court summons is canceled, I hope. I bought lamb chops and Cava at the mini Tescos, and going to bed soon for what promises to be a well contented and long kip

PS: I found the bank card as well.
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A really lovely day, so lovely it was not marred by the two not good things.

The first being the discovery that I have no cashpoint card when I got to a cashpoint (but do have my credit card, which is puzzling. I phoned to check usage, and it has not been used by anyone else).

The second thing was that I was supposed to be visiting another friend in Bath this trip, at their suggestion, but with them giving no date or address. I was sent a txt at 17.10 asking if I could get to Bath tonight. The answer would have been no, even if I had not seen the message until 23.00. Very badly done.

Did the Severn Beach walk again in the morning. Got the wonderful but decrepit single line railway to Bristol. Left my bag at Hugh’s, and set off to check some of the 18 pubs Richard had listed and marked on a map for me.

First was the Micawber, which was not on the list. It had a wonderful cat sat in the window, being stroked by a good looking young lass, infront of 3 handpumps. The cat was a stroke junkie, the pub dog needed only 3 scatches and a pat to roll on its back, the flirting couple at the bar had over 150 years and less than 15 teeth between them (and after he had described having his private parts washed by the home help a voice from the other end of the bar said Good job no one’s eating!.

After that I went to Zero Degrees and talked to the decent barman. After that I discovered no cashpoint card and walked back to Hugh’s.

In the evening had a really lovely dinner with the families, talk, tales, discussion and fun. If I had struggled to get to Bath at no notice for utterly unknown ends, with no money, it would have been worse, even at best.
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Richard Stedman (aka Stedders, publisher of the Football & Real Ale Guides came came and collected me from Hugh’s this morning. I thought he lived in the posh resort of Cleveden, but it turns out he lives in Pilning, next to the couldn’t be less posh if it tried resort of Seven Beach, which has a bakers; a grocers; a cash machine that charges 99p; a funfair with two stalls and one of those machines that mave 4 year olds backwards and forwards for 20p; and no beach.

What it does have is one of the best short walks in England. Richard took me over the motorway to the new Severn Bridge, by te course of the Bristol and South Wales Union Railway (which took passengers to a ferry pier before the Severn Tunnel was built), and then along the first/last mile of Severn Beach’s sea wall; and that is the best short walk. Whichever was you walk it you see one of the Severn road bridges in front of you, then the other as you walk the curved river bank. You also pass under the new bridge, the supporting wires of which look like fore-aft rigged triangler sails when the light catches then right. You also pass over the Severn Tunnel the ‘town’ side of the bridge, and can feel the trains, but you only see the rusting remains of the pump that used to pump the tunnel dry.

After we got back to Richard’s we sat and chatted. In the evening we went to the Kings Arms for food, but they don’t do any on a Monday. We had Courage Best. We then went to the Crossed Hands, where Richard met a bloke he used to play cricket with (he grew up in the village). The barmaid was cute, called Lyndsey and only works Monday, when she runs a ‘no swearing without a fine’ charity extortion scheme, her judgement being absolute and final. She charged 10p for a bloody, so I gave her 50p advanced payment.

After that we got one of the best donar kebabs I have had from Vasili the Cypriot.
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Depending on how I tell the story this was either a day of pottering, or a day of doing right good jobs.

Mixed concrete and cut chicken wire to size, so Hugh could block a rat hole in his cellar, and later relay a slab on top of the wall to the tree house (which gives some idea of the size of the house and garden, or perhaps grounds). I then helped him move the patio table to its winter quarters in the ‘shed’ (which is big enough to have a ping-pong table and a vine on the top of the stairs to the roof.

Later I cooked a proper Bratfort curry for the family and a family of visitors, the father of whom was Steve and I met at Hugh and Isobel’s wedding in 92 (I know the date because they use a hand painted, wedding gift, dinner service with the year on the bottom). More remarkable is that his wife said she had heard a lot about me. Something I found very flattering.

The curry and the onion and courgettte side salad turned out exceptionally well. Steve had a plate full despite having had a full on mather’s roast dinner, including sproats, just a few hours before.

In the evening I watched Emma on the BBC with the ones who were not play Grand Theft Auto..

Set off this morning for a pre-booked trip to Bristol, to visit Hugh, Isobel and family, and Richard Stedman, and see if there are any leads for any of my shows.

Got a Cross Crountry train from Leeds. These trains used to be run by virgin. Now they run to time and do not smell.

It was a good trip. I got talking to Sunderland fans going to Birmingham City, and one called Steve, who has red hair, bought Red Head books off me, and trusted me to post them, as I had none with me.

Hugh met me at Temple Meads station, put my rucksack in his bike pannier, and we went for a pint at a pub called the Ostrich. Walked up lots of slopes. Had a coffee and walked to his house. It was really nice to see his family again after 6 or more years.

In the evening we went to an opera: Rigaletto by Verdi. This is the only opera I had seen (though I have also sung in one). It was decades ago and it left a very nasty memory. Tonight, at the Tobacco Factory, in the round, in a small space, it worked very well. I really enjoyed it. Not enough to make me go to more operas, but more than enough to fog the bad memory.

I met lots of Hugh’s friends, all nice, including one called Ann-Marie, who I had met long ago. She runs a poetry group, but not on as big a scale as I thought.

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Forgot the best story from yesterday. A school on West Bowling is offering a art words commission for a room they are calling a ‘room for contemplation’. On my way to look at it I popped into a corner shop, Polish I think, for batteries for my camera and a can of diet pop.

When I opened the door a young, black and white cat ran across the front of me and round the corner of a chiller cabinet. I followed it to get the pop (Vimto!) and made cat noises. After a little while the cat came out, sniffed my hand, and settled down for a damned good scratching from me.

When I got up the cat went back below the cabinet, but as I am paying I feel a weight on my new coat. The cat is hanging off the back of it trying to eat a toggle!

Today me and Dave Pendleton did an interview the City Heroes show for the About Bradford – Friday Presented by John Gill, on BCB. It went out live, dave only gave me an hour’s notice, and I had to rush from giving a blood sample at the doctors. So obviously no warning on here and it does not appear to be available on listen again, which is a shame, as it was a good interview.

Took one corn cob from the maize that has grown in my garden. Very few seeds with starch in, and even those not over full, pleasant enough when boiled in potato, leek and carrot soup.

I doubt there will be any blogs for a while.
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I hope Michelle makes a go of the Old Vic (see previous blogs). Had a really good night there tonight. She can make the place work, and if she does the job for a year, and can stop sucking her fingers, she could make a go of any pub in Bradford.

I have, obviously, been drinking there. Before that I was at some kind of community meeting. The uncle of the chair had a right paddy about drains blocked for 3 years. It took 20 minutes, and was the wrong forum, but getting drains unblocked is more important than committee structure agreement (though my questions added 20 minutes to that).

Before that I signed on, and the young lad that signed me was more impressed with what I have done in the last fortnight than I am! (and I am impressed with what I have done). He even noted my <a href="http://www.bradwan.co.uk&quot;)Bradwan URL down for the big show on the 11th Nov (see previous link).

I almost slept round the cloack last night as well, and wrote and delivered the latest letter in the Council Tax saga (delivering it by hand, and getting a receipt) and did work on finding work, including Ramsgate.
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