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Monday, March 26, 2007

Pooped. But happy.

Robert's birthday this weekend - actually fell on the Saturday. Turned 13. THIRTEEN!!! He's a spotty, gawky, goofy grinned, teenager! Not too grumpy yet though - he did enjoy himself...

Somehow we managed to pack sooo much in. Down the road visiting friends on Friday night; and up early on a damp, overcast day to go laser shooting. Whole morning, running around in the dark, shooting the kids. Excellent fun! Back home for some power food - beans on cheese on toast - left the troops inside out of the rain whilst I tinkered with the jalopies.
As the afternoon drizzled past, the family began to gather for the evening. Presents, cake, and the traditional Chinese takeaway.

Only one thing to do when you're stuffed with noodles and blackbean sauce? Go to the fair! Dodgems, clinging to the walls on the centrifuge thingummy, giggling through the fun house. Huff, puff.

Didn't quit until we hit the waltzers. Yup. About then, adding whirling movements to vegetable chow mein seemed a bit foolish. I was all funned out - so we headed across the green to Di's house (the ceilidh virgin) for a restorative cup of tea. Oooh. It took a while before I felt ready to drive by which time the kids were getting tired, wired, and prickly.

Time to abandon this cold, damp, birthday...

Clocks changed, laid awhile, but the warm morning sun soon convinced us outside. What a difference! Wellies dragged from dusty corners, we ambled down to the water meadows, waded in the stream, de-knotted the kite for some no wind, non-flying, fun. Warmed and aired, the afternoon passed with kids and friends cycling up and down the road, whilst Jenny joined me working on the Cee-dan. As I oiled, adjusted and prepared for the road, she took a chisel to the 77 years of cracked and brittle skins of paint. Yellows, brown, grey, the original maroon, and countless primers.

Till the evening came. Later; later still, with the sunshine and summertime clock change, Jenny gathered her troops to wend her weary way home. Thanks, hun. Alone, unable to resist, I had to try the fruits of all this recent labour. Found the Alice part of my family, easily encouraged her into the old world cinema rear seat - it's still the Odeon Shag Sedan - and went for a little spin around to the neighbour's.
Not far.
But just enough to know for sure, that Henry's old lady has helped me through the winter months, as much as anyone could. And those that shared the journey with me so far, are going to be with me as we add some smiley miles beneath her rejuvinated skirts.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Goodbye my lover, goodbye my friend.

Mother's Day.

Invented by wholesale distributors of greetings cards, and daffodil bulb salesmen to induce guilt in hopeless fathers. The one day that children consider their mothers with loving cards made from scraps of everything that PVA can barely muster a tenuous grip.

Or whatever.

Been thinking about this all week. Or month, truth be told.

Decisions. Not much use at them normally, which is why it's taken to now. Awoke to the howling winds beating the house as the sun rose, nursing a cider and bourbon head. Haven't drunk to "can't drive" since - well it's been sometime. No matter. Head faded. Loaded the Skylark and headed off to the beach.

Kate spoke of windmills. Had a passion for them - always wanted one in the village. As she faded, panicked in and out of morphine dreams, once again, the windmills.

From the beach in Scratby, on our annual caravan holiday, we watched as they built the offshore windmills on Scroby Sands. Saw them rise out of the sea. We'd go and visit them until, one day, they began to turn. Beautiful, elegant blades, stealing energy from the wind. Turning it into light. Or heat. Or cups of tea.

We had one last holiday, one last trip to the beach, just a few shorts weeks before Kate died. She was so proud of herself, mustering the climb down, and back up, the rickety wooden stairs down the sandy cliffs.

And on this lively Mothering Sunday, the kids and I buried Kate's ashes. Beneath the crumbling cliffs and rickety bungalows, facing across to her windmills.

To those that came to share the day with us. I thank you.

Goodbye my lover. Goodbye my friend.

Monday, March 19, 2007

And, for one night only...

Hectic week. Trying to work on the Fordor, frustrated by a lack of parts.

Socially too - actually been out doing stuff. Fun stuff. Painted my nails cherry red and went to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Theatre Royal.

Superb. Oh to have had the time and the money to have gone every night.

Kinda organised a bluegrass pub session at the Greyhound in Tibenham - as regular as time is ever for me, third Thursday of every month. Even added it to my iCal calendar, so I may manage to remember...
Short on numbers the first time, this time we were joined by a couple of faces we hadn't seen - well not to play with for around eleven years. Proper band split that one. Dormant friendships awakened to the sound of mandolin, guitar, bango and bass. And for one cosy night in a sleepy pub, joined by Rex and Julian, we all bore witness to the old string sounds of Them Harvey Boys. Played until there was no soul left to testify...

You know? That was alright. Magical. Maybe, another time, old part-time Dan will make it along, but for now - that'll do.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Ceilidh virgins and a naked woman in the house

This itinerant bassist had a gig to play on Saturday. As a treat(!), I took the newly retired Ron along with Pam and all the PA gear. He normally squeezes us all in his estate car, so we fitted with room to spare in the "Skylark". Also had to take Robert and Alice, so I invited a friend along with her son to help babysit. Never been folk dancing before - a self confessed ceilidh virgin. Undeterred, she threw herself into it with lager fueled gusto, dragging the kids up in turn to partner her. Sure glad I never promised her agile young men, willing to perform ritual fertility dances - they were fresh out.

Maybe next time.

Still, long night, and the kids lasted well. Time to go home and I decided to lay Delores in the back of the bus. Naked. Took her out fully clothed - but just for a change, thought I'd have her standing unclothed in the corner of the dining room, looking down her nose at me. Ready to be stroked, plucked, and strummed.

Delores? She's my bass.

Planning the happy road ahead.

Well - been spending as many hours as I can squeeze in the garage working on the Fordor. Hour or so each night after the kids are in bed. Down to the little bits and bobs, getting it ready for an MOT.

And it shouldn't, because it's just a hunk of ancient metal, but it's getting me down now. The therapy part of it has worn too thin. It's been replaced by a desperation. I've now set myself the target of getting it on the road to drive down to Wheels Day. First one day event of the year in Surrey, good day to meet up with old friends.

Ridiculous. That's less than four weeks away. Old time friend, Bob - the "Nervous" Bob - currently has the back axle in pieces and promised it back, well to be honest, I can't remember when. Which means it's no longer mobile and I can't finish up the roof, pressed into the garage rafters as it is...

Ran out of little jobs to do on it now - nothing left to do tomorrow. Except panic.

Just want this done now, so we can all get out and spend some time together this summer. Me, and my kids. Jenny and her kids. Clocking up some happy, no particular direction, miles in the scruffy old Cee-dan.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Ooh, they're playing our song again...

Kate and I had a song or two. Nothing that made us go all luvvy - just songs that defined the moment. When we met, I took her to see the Bare Naked Ladies at the Waterfront in Norwich. For a while "If I had a million dollars" was our feel good sound. Never had the million dollars, and lent the album to someone who must have also liked it. Very much, as it never came back...

Later "Dance the night away" by the Mavericks was added to the list - bounced across Ipswich to the Regent one night to see them.

And more recently when we sat watching Basement Jaxx on telly - loads of costume changes at the V festival a year or so ago I think. Lovely. Lovely ladies. "Do your thing" had us swinging in the kitchen and dancing round the dining table.

Now, the thing I hate is singer/songwriters. Not an ounce of fun in them, the scourge of a decent pub music session. Killing the atmosphere in the beer tent at a festival. Miserable bastards with their overlong, pretentious, dirgy ballads.

But I have to admit, at the moment, the song that get's me - hurts, brings tears, but in a beautiful way - is "Goodbye my lover" by a certain Mr. James Blunt. Ah y'bugger.