August 31, 2009
the ghost town
Sure, it's all gone a little quiet in August, with this blog site resembling a ghost town. Click on, and it's just the creaking gate; the boarded up windows and the occasional chime of the old church bell, when the wind stirs.
You're wondering what happened to everyone, and fear the worst. Animals scavenge where once there was life. Is that a vulture up above, as dust blows down the main street? But have no worries, for this is good.
As Chesterton said, 'if something is worth doing, it's worth not doing.' That is, it's worth taking a break from everything sometimes.
So we'll be back in the autumn to shake our fists at the darkening skies, and cry at the dying of the land. This place will hum and buzz again, with freshly painted ideas and feelings.
And on that day, our gate will be oiled; our windows flung open and the bell ring chimes of freedom!
From ghost town to most town!
August 17, 2009
A complete phoney at last!
So, to cut a long story short, my wise daughter finally persuaded me to upgrade my mobile phone, and get onto a contract. 'There are some good deals around,' she said, and she was right. To someone like me, 'Pay as you go' is 'Save as you go.' That is, no contact with anyone unless absolutely essential - a model which is good for sanity, but not for business.
I'm scared though because I don't speak 'mobile'; not a word. So my daughter kindly agrees to come with me, to translate.
So early on sunny Saturday morning, we arrive in 'Chitter Chatter' to do business. And my first reaction is to feel very old. My last contact with people like this was when I did school assemblies. When I write my date of birth on a form, the young spike-haired assistant hollers 'My God!' before hastily adding, 'You don't look that old.' On the cusp of a sale, the vanity of the customer is a precious thing - even old customers.
But no one could hold back the laughter when I put my old phone/brick on the counter. They all fall about; like the aliens in the old 'Smash' advert. I get all the usual comments. 'Find it on a building site?' 'Last saw one like that holding up Stone Henge.' 'It's still got the cement on it' etc etc. I'm glad to be so entertaining.
And then as I attempt to set up the contract, it transpires that T Mobile don't trust my finacial trustworthines. I'm not considered a safe bet, and there's some embarrassing confusion and questioning until my sales assistant discovers I've never had a credit card, so have no credit history. 'That'll be it!' he says triumphantly. So I have to pay a £100 deposit, to be paid back later if I'm good. Because I've never been in debt, I'm soiled goods.
And then it gets worse, because my bank stop the payment of £100. 'Are you sure you've got £100 in your account?' asks the sales assistant. 'Yes, I've got quite a bit more than that, as it happens,' I say testily. I was struggling to remember what I came here for, and thinking that whatever it was, it wasn't worth it. Eternity was flying by. Twenty minutes later, and after various calls to the bank and lots of 'If you'd just like to hold', and really rubbish music, I discovered the bank were just being kind. They'd seen an abnormal transaction and blocked it. 'You don't usually do this sort of thing,' said the nice lady. And I was beginning to see why...
But you know, when all's said and done, I'm walking out with a phone about a tenth of the weight of my last one, with a £15 a month contract which gives me untold free phone minutes and unlimited texts. So I'm the laughing boy.
All I need now are some friends to contact. I'd been rather hoping that was part of the deal...
August 10, 2009
Birthday blaze in August
I have always enjoyed having an August birthday. As I child it meant that my birthday never fell on a school day. In fact I was often on holiday and got to celebrate twice. A July party will school friends to mark the end of term and again with my family on the day itself. I spent many childhood birthdays on the beach in Cromer followed by a special meal often involving locally caught crab. Two birthdays were spent in Maryland with my aunt and involved incredible crab feasts with barrels of the things to smash and chew. This year it fell on a Monday so I went to work. Decided to go out for a meal at one of the pubs we like and what did I find on the menu... dressed crab with samphire. DELICIOUS. So another advantage of an August birthday is that it coincides with the crab season.
The other plus about an August birthday is the weather. This year was no exception. I spent the weekend camping with friends in Epping Forest. No crab on the menu but lots of lovely chocolate cake (which we just managed to keep from melting), marshmallows (which we did melt in the fire with banana and chocolate) and lots more besides. We had a blazing campfire around which we sat and sang and chatted as the orange moon rose over the trees. And it reminded me that the best thing about birthdays whenever they are is the warm glow generated by the love and company of friends and family.
August 06, 2009
Cycling not walking
This morning, crunching cornflakes and reading Time Out magazine, I suddenly decided to cycle the Parkland Walk, a nearby pathway along a disused railway line. It runs through urban north London but you'd think you were in the countryside, there are so many trees and bushes alongside it. In my 30 years of living in this area I've never walked or cycled it, to my shame.
It was a treat. And the jewel in the crown at the other end was discovering a coffee stand outside Highgate Tube Station, where the friendly French proprietor took time between serving great coffee to play football with a toddler, also French, whose dad was sitting at one of the cafe tables in the sunshine. For 20 minutes it was like being on holiday in France, and it kept me smiling all the way back to grimy Holloway. What a gift.
August 04, 2009
Knock, knock - who's there?
I've been wandering round the Bloggers Halls of Residence, looking to borrow some milk. But I'm not having much luck.
Knock, knock. Who's there? No one! Just empty corridors, and half a lemon in the shared fridge.
So it's black coffee again, and slightly watery cereal.
Life's a beach in August.