December 2013

Painting! Carcass now has 3 coats including primer. My clothing has roughly the same, though with less accuracy. The jury is still out on the matching accuracy of the off-white but time will tell.
Next are the hinges, and I can’t do that until I get a 35mm spade bit which, typically, B&Q don’t have. I really must try a decent shop. Once they’re done I will complete the mouldings on the doors, something that involves… gasp… carpentry.
Oh well. It’ll either be a dog’s dinner or a work of… er…

If I were a (carpenter, and you were a lady….). I’ve only just realised the connotations of what I just typed. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve read many of my previous witterings. Try again.
If I employed myself to upgrade this house, I’d have given myself the sack by now.
Early morning, thick mist lying gently on the…eyes. A cup of tea; the mist vapourises (except in the left eye and that’s understandable ‘cos it has a cataract and I’ve not dealt with it yet). The task? Fix previously painted skirting board to the wall.
Error 1: Wall is bowed, so quick-grab adhesive sticks only at the ends.
Error 2: Emulsion paint was not applied far enough down and there is a strip of unpainted wall at the top of skirting board.
Error 3: S board removed vivaciously, taking loose plaster with it.
Error 4: Filler applied but sanded back too soon as it’s still wet and leaves non-smooth surface.
See what I mean? Two steps forward, one back. Or in this case, two forward, two back. Although to be fair the filler is now smooth.
Tomorrow beckons. I’ve made a pact with Judy Wright: I’ll finish the kitchen if she empties the small bedroom and the garage of boxes. There. That should be safe enough.

OK… now then: on Sunday I may have perpetrated some carpentry that works. Yes, unlikely is the word I hear reverberating throughout FB-land, and echoed in Harbroe Towers too. But it looks – well – accurate.
Now you’ve picked yourself off the floor I can continue. We went to another gig on Sunday night; Gordon Giltrap was playing a small venue in Eastbourne. There are now two people in the world whose guitar virtuosity I would travel miles to hear (and whose names I can currently remember), Giltrap and Richard Thompson – RT.
Today was long (well, for we of the retired fraternity it was). Fixed cupboard door in morning and found it fitted and worked (another gasp of astonishemnt from FB-land). Visited Hurst College after hospital visit and took about 90 minutes to get to the garage I was meant to be clearing of our belongings. It took me that time to engage in all the conversations from people I kept seeing!
Thanks for the welcome, all of you. It makes an old man very happy. Please return my zimmer frame?
And to cap off the day our dentist in B Hill painlessly mended a broken tooth (I nearly said “crown the day”). My face has just recovered.
And last but not least the remaining doors fit and work! It’s all downhill from here, I tell you.

Incredible though it may seem, I now have 3 cupboard doors made that fit, work, and hang properly. Is it luck, or am I improving? You don’t know the answer; nor, really, do I. Let’s just say that sandpaper is effective on wood that’s only a little oversize. Make of that what you will.
An observation of interest to Matt Templeman and others particularly: a news item yesterday bemoaned the number of times a patient was delayed in the ambulance outside A&E. It then gave an example of a woman who woke with a swollen, painful leg. A long time ago, so did I. She called the ambulance. I called the doctor.
The doctor visited me, did some tests then and there and diagnosed cellulitis. He have me some pills and told me what to expect and to call him or A&E if it got worse. I started recovery in short order.
News item woman was treated in the ambulance, just as if she was in the hospital or aat home as there was no room in the hospital. She was filmed, so I assume she’s either recovered or is a very convincing ghost.
Who’s right? And why wasn’t more made of the fact that as Matt and lots of others have said, you call a doctor first for a problem unless it’s life-threatening or you can’t get hold of either him or a help line.
A&E would cope fine, I reckon, if only Accidents and Emergencies went there. If you can drive yourself there it’s neither.

There really is nothing so effective as the prospect of a long weekend stay by two people to focus the mind on dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s, so to speak, of house maintenance. Or, in our case, making enough room for a bed in a room that previously has only accommodated boxes and a 4-year-old overnight.
So the last 2 days have seen the boiler-hiding cupboard painted and door-handled, and half filled with bottles. (Yes, Jeremy Brinley Codd, those bottles). We have bought our final (please God) piece of furniture, a slim basic bookcase, also for the dining area. The room is not too crowded but I think cats are safe from being swung just at the moment, unless Judy Wright takes a dislike to one of our intruding moggies. THAT IS A JOKE, Louise Munday and other cat-type people!
I returned from the daily Brighton visit to find empty boxes and a nearly empty room, and a very tired wife. So I thought I’d better hang the last 2 doors now my carpentry skills are so improved.
Huh. Bugger, even.
Oh well, no one will notice.
Room is now available in the living room so we can change that and install the Christmas tree (from Jack Dunckley’s Birchfield Nursery: plug, plug) instead. Ah well.

Ah, the priorities of life. Car to Brighton today so I could visit Lewes on the way back without trying to do tricks with public transport.
Lewes? Yes. Very important town Lewes. No, not bonfires, county-town-ness or anything remotely historic, but its most important attribute.
Harvey’s Brewery. [Insert genuflection here]
2 Christmas puddings and a 2.4 litre of Old Ale, and a very happy Harbroe.
Returned home, welcomed sisters-in-law, lit fire, served up a rather nice curry for four (maybe only Iceland, but very exceptionally good – and really cheap) and have been luxuriating in a nearly tidy living room in front of said fire. And the Harvey’s Old is still slipping down beautifully. If this is retirement I’m all for it.

Collected the last lot of our stuff from a garage at Hurst College today. Does it feel like the door has finally closed on part of our lives? No, because all sorts of people once again gave me a genuine welcome that makes me feel I can go back at any time. I’m either not objectionable enough or I’m not as good at wasting their time as I think I am. Must try harder.
Apart from that the real reason to return was to have lunch with Ollie Mitchell, Will Swan, James Ebdon, Giles Williams and Harry Agombar. it’s really a compliment when a load of young farts invite an old fart along to something, so thank you very much for being there and to James especially for organising it. I hope the Disco works well tomorrow and I look forward to seeing photos… actually as I have to bring Judy over to Hurst tomorrow, and forgot to pick up any post, I’ll probably drop in again. Hard luck.

Every year for the last 15+, on the day before Michaelmas term ends there has been a disco. And every year for the last 15+ the Caretaker, then IT/AV Tech, then Theatre Manager has done the security round, then returned to the disco site and helped derig. Some times it has been 3.00 am before he (who never had the luxury of breaking up from school the following day and sleeping for the first week of the holidays) finally went to bed. Sometimes the job was finished when he went, usually not and he had to leave Others to finish it, and thus felt guilty.
Now he has retired. Today is the day of the Christmas Disco. He no longer does the security round. He is FREE! And he no longer feels guilty about leaving other people to coil cables; indeed he has several times politely declined the opportunity to return to the school at 2300 today and muck in.
So here I am, having a quiet chortle (am I allowed to say that?), knowing that Ollie Mitchell, Will Swan, James Ebdon, Giles Williams, Josh Hammond, Harry Agombar, Henry Lock, and maybe Harry Hitchens and Sam Rogers – and others* – are even now facing a looong night of fun and cable coiling.
Reason no 148 to enjoy retirement.
To everyone else at the College: be nice to these guys, please. It’s their efforts which enable the longest term to end on a massive high for all the students from Shell to UIV. And if they didn’t do it and leave the gear ready for collection the following morning, the College would be faced with penalties from hire firms and their refusal to hire to us again.
* if you are helping / helped and feel left out, tell me. I’ll be happy to add to the list of martyrs.

So Hurst College has managed to get through a term without me, having broken up today. See – I told you you could do it! No one has phoned asking me for advice (well, once or twice on things to do with locks), and the casual “you’ll come back and help with the disco derig, won’t you?” was politely declined.
I only gave the second word: “off”.
Anyway, it seems to have gone well and the derig was done by 0400. Arghhh. Sorry I missed it.
The weather tonight seems to be rougher than most we’ve had recently and I’m glad not to have to don wellies and waterproofs and secure the College. Poor old Dave Davies. I remember rounding the corner from Star by the admin offices and being almost blown across the road and into Martlet on occasion during my time. Happy days? Wet nights!

Something’s off my mind, thanks, Facebook. The daily Brighton trips are over! I’ve done my 7.5 weeks being blasted by Radio 1 via large machines! Yay!!!
I won’t miss: 2 bus journeys a day, Seaford-Kemp Town and back.
I won’t miss: having to drink a litre of water in about 10 mins so it fills the bit that should be filled, and I’ll draw a veil over emptying…
I won’t miss: getting myself ready for a time, only to find they’ve encountered a delay…
I will miss the Radiotherapy Team’s friendliness, unflappability, accuracy and professionalism. Thank you again, if any of you see this.
Now it’s a wait until St Valentine’s Day to see what happens next.
In other news: nothing happened. Oh – except a quick visit to Family in Ringmer for reasons Judy will never know…. well, not for a bit, anyway. Oh, and I can now enjoy a pint of BEER again! There should be plenty of opportunity for practice over Christmas in case I’ve lost the knack.

A day of Christmas shopping and traffic, made bearable by buying enough Harveys Old to last Carl Hogsden and me until we fall over. Looking forward to it – the Old, not so much the horizontalness.
Had a coffee and a chocolate torte at Costa in Tesco’s, Lewes. I shall respell that name: Coster. It does. The coffee was uninspiring, the torte crisp at the edges. When I suggested they had a look at the unsold ones and explained why the guy muttered something and looked away. No apology. I suggest they get boycotted.
Oh, on the plus side from Aldi or direct from the makers, have a go at Wrights cake mixes. Dead simple – even I can use them – quick and some of the best cakes you’ll find. No relation, by the way.
Now to pack for the journey to Cambridge and Christmas tomorrow, and someone else is looking after this place for a few days. I might not get a chance to write a Daily Bleat, so if not…
Thank you to all of those who have commented, liked or talked about my witterings. Have a Christmas that is as good as you make it for others. May your New Year be healthy and productive. Happiness? Best gained by being honest with yourself and people round you, and by supporting them as best you can. It’s called quietly gaining respect.

There are moments that just say to you “God’s in his Heaven and all’s well with the world.” that’s a quote, for anyone who’s not met it before.
So: a living room in Chambridge. A warm light shines. (Ok, Harveys in hand too. But that’s an afterthought.) Wooden wall cladding glows. Books offer a welcome, as always; musical instruments, softly lit, on wood shelving, tell of skill and history. In the room beyond the door a deep voice sings a carol to a tired four year old who interrupts and asks “Why does it have to be like that?” And the voice explains the old folk story of Herod and the cooked chicken on the dish that revived and gave the lie to Jesus’ death.
And now the voice is upstairs, still singing, as it’s Carl’s turn tonight to ensure Ollie sets off to sleep safely. Miranda is in the kitchen making ready to feed the four of us.
A Church carol service. Bells ringing before and after. Good company, good food, and a cheerful, tired Grandson.