April 2011


I am trying to strip a 1950’s Taylor Woodrow fitted kitchen, prior to painting. It is a nightmare. Being sick is the worst. I am already two full days behind and still coughing, but even if totally well I would be struggling. There are up to 6 coats of paint, of all kinds. My shitty little, new heat gun keeps over heating(!) and even high grade paint stripper has not cleared a single door after 3 double coats.

Both my parents are ill, and more than usually willful as a result.

Bev and I went to London on Friday to meet my Finnish cousins Sirpa and Raili (who is a long lost sister of Sirpa). I had a bit of a cold, but I was very brave, and hardly mentioned it to anyone.

On the train up a couple of nice Canadian soccer moms, called Diane and Dorothy, got talking to us. I did not start it (No I didn’t!) but I did persuade them to join us at the Wetherspoons in Victoria to me the cousins. Images of children were shared, including the boys on a soccer exchange.

After that the family four got a bus to Trafalgar Square and had a bit of a walk round. The Finns met a shopkeepr so mad and rude you could not have written her as a Dickens character. She owns the print shop in Cecil Court. I was looking at a newspaper clipping (or a copy) from 1902 about the Robotizaion of the Army. It must have referred to the reforms of Lord Roberts, but I cannot be sure because the made cow sprung out of the shop, snatched it from my hand, put it back in the rack, and told me to use both hands! That was as nothing to the treatment the rest got inside.

We then waited for a Routemaster, which has now become the special bus (as in special needs) in the legends of Sirpaland. Alright, several other buses passed us going the same way, but we were going to ride a historical artefact.

It was a bumpy ride, but we did see the Lord Mayor of London on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral (Princess Anne was there too, but we only found that out later).

Next up was a visit to the Guildhall, where my mate Murray showed us round. It was a grand tour, Murray had me read out the speech of acceptance for a Freeman of the City, and we had a little chat about Colin Firth, who will be reading the speech for real soon. I told Colin the story of giving away my only copy of A Month in the Country, well Murray is the man I gave it to.

The rest of the day was a Docklands Light Rail train to Greenwich and a boat back to the Embankment, where another mad English person engaged us in conversation about Bazelgette, who designed London’s sewerage system. Me and him swopped information.

Saturday all four of us met at my parents for roast rib of beef. My dad was marginalized, but did not get too stressed, or kick off (he is getting too weak). A good dinner was had by all, and a good time by all bar one. It is lovely to welcome a new member to my family.

I the last few days I have met a new cousin, some nice Canadians, read out the acceptance speech for a Freeman of the City of London, and coughed a bit.

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