Half Term

I made a decision to stay at home in the ‘Cottarge’ instead of going away.
I made a decision that sitting in front of the fire with the old git would be preferable to hanging around an airport, travelling through the night, being in someone elses bed and not knowing what the weather was going to be – and I was right.
Staying at home is out of the ordinary for me as I am always in London working, The cottarge feels cosy and welcoming. The colours are deep and warming and being in my own big bed with my books and the silence, waking up to the ‘oosbind and the cat, padding around on the carpets, having a bath in my own bath and listening to the wind in the trees, really is exactly what I need.
Not that I’ve been idle. For that I really do need to get away. But I have enjoyed my week so far – give or take Wednesday….

On Monday the weather was so dark and damp that even venturing out doors felt like a mission.
So I pottered and de-cluttered, nibbled and trundled off to Amanda Day for a facial. I had a choice of this and that so I opted for a massage which Bee bought me for Christmas. I wanted to get back to the fire and jimbo but Amanda insisted I relaxed for ten more minutes.
When I awoke from my gutteral snoring I wiped away the dribble and was ready to drive. The room, the fire, the massage, the aromatherapy oils, were all perfect.
The day ended with me on the armchair, the old man on the bean bag, my feet in his hands the remote in my hands and an evening of catching up on all the recorded progammes, including The Neil Young documentary.
Tuesday came around far too quickly but the sun was up. I thought Tuesday was Wednesday, so when the telephone jangled very loudly and Jenny the Hairdresser asked me where I was said
‘I’m on my way.’
I lied.
I jumped into the little red car and drove like the clappers into TWells. After eventually finding a parking place I sat down in Jenny’s chair with the unforgiving light shining in through the window onto the unforgiving mirror. God I looked like my Auntie Dinah who died ten years ago.
The hair was a success, as was the latter part of the afternoon.
Giles – my ex-son-in-law and his partner Tim, arrived with a huge bunch of flowers. AJ, Bee’s best friend over from La La Land, arrived with his Californian muscles and the sweet smell of youth. I made cheese salad sandwiches and Rooibosh tea, lit the candles and settled down for real tea-time chat. The Giles and the Tim left for the flat, they’re there for a week, I like it when it’s in safe hands. Aj decided to stay, as I write he’s still here. He and Jim are calling me down for breakfast…..
Tuesday evening was a drive into the heart of East Sussex.
We had dinner in a bungalow that could have been located in Switzerland.
Rugs, deep armchairs, lots of homemade food and good conversation. Why we even left with a doggy bag of home-made berry tart.
Yesterday arrived with a blue sky and a trip to the dentist.
This week has been fitting in all the folk that work on my unworkable bits.
Given that I have been using cutlery for 50 years it came as a shock when, last week, I bit onto a fork. I forgot to take it out of my mouth I heard the crack as my choppers collided with the metal tines, apparently all due to tiredness. As my dentist pointed out I had lost the art of eating, he dealt with my chipped tooth and bruised ego. He also said the Rooibosh tea stained the teeth brown.
Tunbridge Wells was all frosty and dripping trees. The yellows and golds of the dead leaves mitigates against Autumn. I was so enjoying wandering through the Pantiles when my phone pinged – messages.
Could I get into Oxford Street by 5.00 to do a voice over. The clients would pay me half my normal rate as they only wanted me for 20 minutes.
‘No.’ I said ‘I AM ON HOLIDAY.’
They called back.
Could I get into Oxford Street for 5.00 to do a voice over they would pay me my normal rate and….
I had no choice.
I shopped for some more Rooibosh tea and Colgate once-a-week teeth whitener, as recommended by my dentist, and some cat food for the cat silly, then I set off for London.
I parked the little red car in a car-park that was free. All the machines had broken it was a good omen.
I walked 8 minutes to the station, bought a return ticket and climbed aboard the train. Now I know why I dont travel by British Rail. The train was late, always a concern when doing voice overs as time is money and lateness is frowned upon. Fellow passengers take a little getting used to, due to the arrangement of the cheap-seats as they are all a little too close for comfort.
I changed trains at Tonbride and sat opposite a delicious looking young man who unfortunately was sorting out horse-boxes with his brother-in-law, very loudly, on his mobile, it was effing irritating.
I tried to concentrate on my thriller – not a normal choice – but even the slick writing couldn’t cut through his intermittent chatter. Then two children, their mother, the push chair their grandmother and a waft of stale smells sat next to me. Granny handed out doughnuts and coconut covered pastries, that along with with the dead wiff of tobacco made for a heady cocktail. Can you see why I moved?
Whilst standing I decided to use my mobile phone to Google Map my wearabouts. so that when I arrived in West One I would know where I was going. My spacial awareness is not terrific, when I got to Margaret Street I walked the wrong way. I could feel my newly whitened teeth grit as hoards of unconscious shoppers slammed into me. Mobiles on the go, staring eyes, noisy headphones, mindless humanity. When I live in London I don’t notice it but three days in the Cottarge and it felt like I had been dropped onto the head of Medusa with her snakes writhing.
I eventually found the studio. I was hot and bothered. I was placed into a tiny booth. I knew it was going to be difficult. A team of creatives, none of whom knew how to describe what they wanted, shouted out directions. I couldn’t hear my self think let alone voice. The fennel tea I had ordered was makine me sweat. Finally I turned up my own headphones and did what I hoped they wanted – dark brown, but light, sexy but not porno, old but not ancient, young but not juvenile, offhand yet gripping. Trying to make your voice into the one they hear in their heads takes a a little time. But I think we got there in the end. The sweat was sprouting off my forehead like a Tom and Jerry cartoon. **byong byong** you get the picture.
Coming back on the train was just as bad. I sat next to a woman with red hair, not that I hold that against her but she had the voice of a woman with little self esteem. I knew she was intelligent, the way she was sped-read her book, but she wanted to be liked just a little too much by her friend who sat opposite her. There was a needyness in her enforced cackle and a cry for hel[ in her very loud cough. Her companion, slim, dark haired and headphoned-up, controlled the conversaton. Mr.Travelling Man, sat next to her and opposite me. His palatal, monotonal voice indicated a lonely fellow who laughed too loudly when he was told my the girl on the end of his cellphone that she was going away for a few days.
‘Great. Peace and quiet this weekend.’ he giggled.
‘Great I’ll have the place to myself ‘ he said to nobody in particular, which was a good job as nobody in particular was listening, only me.
He picked away at the scabs on his forehead and laughed out loud to himself at stories in the Daily Lite newspaper. If that doesn’t smack of desperation what does?
I was getting more and more anxious as the announcer kept telling us that the first eight coaches were going on to Ore whilst the last four were being disconnected at TWells – we were in coach twelve. I couldn’t relax not knowing whether I would ever be able to get off the train.
Th man at the next table was reading a book on line and then swapping the pages for James Bond. I hoped it was a legal copy. The woman behind him was reading a book and then writing about it on her lap top. It felt like we were a travelling office concomitant with all its hang-ups and interrelated problems. I half expected David Brent to jump out into the aisle and give us his dance.
And here’s me thinking I can give up the flat in london and commute….
I got home later than expected because a slow train had held us up. But I arrived back and got stuck into making a really good fish stir-fry. Prawns and fishballs which I had bought in a supermarket in China Town.
I ripped off my clothes, pj’s on, and then we watched Spurs thrash Liverpool at Whiteheart Lane,. Simon Rimmer eat your heart out…..
I’ve eaten breakfast. I am now going to finally peel all my apples and make them into apple thingemybobs. I may go into the studio with the old git to write some Jeni-audience-with-Music, I may even scrub the kitchen floor. I may not. I may just climb into the bath and relax with my thriller.
As for Friday. wells its, lunch with a girlfriend, supper with Jim and two dear chums.
Saturday is a party,
Sunday is sleeping and Monday
Well Monday it’s back to LBC 97.3.
If I don’t write before I’ll see you then.

2 thoughts on “Half Term”

  1. 4-2, wasn’t it? Yeah I was watching, too. But cheering for the other side. I love Liverpool. Not particularly the football, or even the Beatles, (although i am a bit mad about John Lennon) but the city itself. I’ve been there often and never once felt the vague threat I get when in other cities. It’s always seemed welcoming, at least to me.
    All the best.

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