Sunday, April 30, 2006

I drive to my cricket net.

It is a beautiful day, and, knowing nothing about their impending flu horror, the birds cheep cheepity-cheep cheerily on the branches. I turn onto the main road, put my foot down, and bask in the luxury of being able to think.

I usually write my Private Secret Diary in one of two ways. The first is when something interesting happens to me and I think 'aha!!! I will write that in my Private Secret Diary!!!' and spend the rest of the day toying with it in my mind and laughing out loud at my own sophisticated jokes on the subject. This annoys the LTLP immensely. The second way involves me sitting in front of the PC with a piece of toast and alternately gazing at the screen and the rabbits in the garden, wondering what to say and waiting for Something to Happen.

(NB the toast is not important to the creative process; it was mentioned there as a writerly way of telling people that I do this first thing in the morning, when people eat toast. I am subtle.)

I cross the mini roundabout, taking advantage of the fact that nobody really knows how to drive round mini roundabouts.

I had no idea that babies took up this much time. I frown at the thought. She will be leaving home in about seventeen and a half years, and that does seem a bit long to get a guest blogger in for, unless it's J.D. Salinger or that French bloke who got paralysed and dictated his first novel by winking his eyelid in code for each letter. Even then it might drag a bit, as he would probably get caught up in replying to comments, checking stats etc.

So not having toying-with-it time or rabbit time, this has been a bit more domestic lately. My favourite 'funny domestic' blog is Greavsie* - I will try not to tread on his toes. I negotiate the 20 MPH zone without stalling.

The sun beats down as I carry my bag into the sports centre. There are three people using the indoor walking machines.

(*Other funny domestic blogs are available)

Friday, April 28, 2006

"So you're a musician then?" asks Jim the Carpenter, as we examine the state of my bedroom ceiling.

I step over the boxes, rolled up carpet and a guitar case, and wonder how he knows about this. He has probably heard about my time supporting chart band 'The Sultans of Ping FC', despite the fact that I am careful never to boast. I nod modestly, not wanting to make too much of things.

"Cos I'm a DJ, like," he continues. I am a bit annoyed by this, as we were just about to talk about my own success.

"Yeah, I do quite a few big clubs and stuff and - you know - raves."

He taps the side of his nose with his finger, presumably having got some sawdust up it. "Outdoors and stuff," he continues.

"Ah... outdoors," I repeat, conspiratorially, working out what he means.

Something twigs in the back of my mind. There is an odd flattened bit in my back garden, on pretty well the only bit of grass that hasn't been dug up. He is trying to tell me something.

Jim the Carpenter has clearly held an illegal rave in my back garden.

Short Tony has not mentioned anything, but then he has been on holiday so might not have been aware. My other next-door neighbour, about whom (grammar) I do not write, is slightly hard of hearing, so might not have heard the disco music. Big A lives a little further away and could have heard it, but he sleeps fairly soundly and anyway would probably not have told me but just gone over there to sell bottled water. Narcoleptic Dave would not have heard it.

I will probably get a letter from the Parish Council for this.

I will check my electricity bill carefully. I know roughly how much power a cement mixer uses, so it will show up if he has been plugging in record 'decks' and lasers etc etc. We chat about the music scene for a few minutes before I leave him to his carpentry, determined to keep an eye on him.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Chipper Barman raises his eyebrow.

"What're you having?" asks Short Tony.

I gaze forlornly across the bar. "Pint of Wherry," I conclude, passing over the stronger beers. "That's the most Atkins-friendly, isn't it?" I add anxiously.

I have been on the Atkins diet all day, and although I am tiring of its culinary tyranny, I am determined to stick to it. I sip my lesser-bodied beer, miserably.

For the grillionth time I wonder how I got myself into this situation. Against other males, my age, height and weight do place me comfortably into the norm group; unfortunately it is apparently the 'Norm from Cheers' group, and it would be better for me to do something about it.

However the main reason is that the LTLP said that it would be much easier for her to keep to the diet if I did it as well. She used a special sort of Voice to say this. So here I am.

Any messages of support would be welcome.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"How about this one?" I offer.

The baby eyes me with enthusiasm disguised as suspicion.

"You're just too good to be trooooo... can't take my eyes offfa yoooo... you'd be like heaven to tuchhhh... I wanna hold yooo so muchhh..."

Even as soon as half way through the first verse, the baby is looking increasingly alarmed. I hold the guitar where she can see it so she can witness me playing the complicated chords that she has been so slow to learn on her Fisher-Price Peek-A-Boo piano.

"This is the good bit!!!" I cry, as a stream of sick slides down her chin and on to her t-shirt.

"Daaa naa daaa naa daaa da na da na daaa naa daaa naa daaa da na da na..."

The baby goes very red, scrunches up her face and then smiles delightedly. The smell of fresh shit drifts up from her chair.

"Aaah lurve yoooo bay-bee and if it's quideall-rite I need yoo bay-be towarm thelone leee nights o priddybay-beeeee..."

"Stoppit!!! Stoppit!!!"

Monday, April 24, 2006

"Watch this," I say, picking up my guitar. "She loves it."

"Aaaahh stepped innnn, tooo an avvva-lannch," I croon. "It cuvvverrd up maaah soul."

Grandfather and baby looked on highly impressed.

"Youuu whoo wishhh - to Con-quer Painn, youuu must learn..."

The LTLP rushes in, a look of appalled concern across her face.

"Stoppit!!! Stoppit!!!"


"Do NOT sing my baby Leonard Cohen songs. It'll make her..." she tails off, unable to decide what it will make her.

I break off my song in a huff. I do not understand why one has to sing only juvenile songs to babies. Cohen's work deals with love and death and sex and loss and immense longing, all subjects that are bound to come up in the National Curriculum. Plus the chords are quite easy.

"Dooo nott dressss in those RAGS for mee; I knoww youuu..."

"Stoppit!!! Stoppit!!!

It is sometimes difficult being the artistic one in a relationship. I accept the status of the LTLP as a world-renowned scientist, but I would not dream of giving her advice as to what to do with her beakers or whatever it is she does. I see no reason why she should interfere with my area of expertise in life (as evidenced by this very bit of writing) i.e. the pursuit of beauty and truth.

The baby seems unconcerned by all this. One day she will appreciate the trouble I have taken to educate her in the face of aggressive philistinism.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I have some Easter visitors!!!

"We won't get in your way," announces my mother. "We're going to go for a long walk today, aren't we?"

My father nods, to cover an expression that is just the forlorn side of miserable. "Mmm," he enthuses, like a man who has not only lost a shilling but found sixpence, but who has just been beaten with sticks and poked in the eyes by the man whose sixpence it was. He goes to fetch his coat, arthritically.

"Your father gets so tired these days," she sighs, as she traces the route on the map. It is across about 27 folds. My offer to drive them to one end is accepted.

"I haven't been in an open-topped car for years," shouts my father, his enthusiasm levels suddenly boosted as the wind howls around our heads. "Probably since we were married." A shadow momentarily darkens his face. I point out interesting sights as we speed through the Norfolk countryside.

" !" shouts my mother from the back seat.


" !"

I look at her in the rear-view mirror. She has her coat pulled right round her and is huddling low, clutching her bag and hat. I'm sure there have been colder pensioners, but only as subjects of local TV news items that feature a neighbour explaining: "I went round there two years ago, but there was no answer so I assume she'd moved." I decide that we had better get there as soon as possible, and put my foot down accordingly.

We arrive at our destination, one of the fashionabler coastal villages. Being Easter Monday, it is full of the okay yah contingent. I cruise through town with my shades on and deposit my pensioner cargo at the beach.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I go to ASDA.

Not entirely sure how I got tricked into this, I sulk, wheeling Baby Servalan round in a trolley that should sport a Police-Aware sticker. The LTLP engages with the groceries, enthusiastically.

I queue at the checkout whilst she zips off to fetch This Week's Thing That We Should Have Remembered Before We Got To The Checkout. In front of me is an elderly man. He catches my eye and seems to study me. Then he looks at Baby Servalan. Then he looks at me again.

"Well she's better looking than you," he remarks in a matter-of-fact way, before turning back to his shopping.

There is a significant pause before I respond by deciding that I can't quite think of a response, and so I won't dignify things by responding. We queue together in silence.

It is frustrating when you can't think of anything to say in a situation. As a witty and urbane writer ('superb' - Web Active Magazine (now defunct due to no sales)) I am used to being able to articulate my point in a polished and flowing fashion, but I find things less easy in verbal intercourse. I briefly consider asking him to submit his point to me in writing, but decide against it. The rude cunt who will die shortly.

The most stupid thing is that of course he is completely wrong. As most readers will be aware, I am very good looking, whereas Baby Servalan just looks like a baby. So he has made himself look an idiot without me having to even try.

I resolve not to shop in ASDA again. I do not get this sort of confrontation in the Village Shop; we enjoy a better class of customer in there.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

There is a knock at the door!!!

A man stands there, looking well-to-do. His Lexus is parked across the road. (I think it is a Lexus; I am not much good at modern cars).

"I'm looking for 'Conifer Lodge,'" he announces, brusquely.

I stare at him, then shake my head.

"Sorry - that's a new one on me."

Now, Narcoleptic Dave's cottage, where I'm currently staying, is small. That's not meant to be disrespectful to Narcoleptic Dave, or indicate ingratitude for the kind use of this dwelling. It's a mere factual description of this mean hovel in which I am forced to reside. Once part of a group of farmworkers' cottages, it was taken over by the Church Commissioners last century, possibly as part of one of their charitable campaigns against battery farmworkers.

My point is, that the house is compact. Modest. Bijou, if you will.

In the front garden, there is a single rather forlorn tree. To call it a 'dwarf conifer' might be overstating the case. It is a dwarf dwarf conifer. A runt amongst firs. A treelet that, should I ever enter it in the Norfolk and District Bonsai Festival, would be subject to furtive and unpleasant pointing and sniggering.

"Conifer Lodge," he repeats, making a point of looking very closely at my house. "It's definitely in this road, and there aren't that many houses."

"Sorry - I really can't help you."

"Thanks anyway." He retreats down the path, making sure to give one final accusatory look over his shoulder.

Monday, April 10, 2006

I meet the Methodical Builder.

He is nervous and ill-at-ease for some reason. I strongly suspect I know what this some reason is. We walk to the back garden.

The Cottage is coming along nicely. I am particularly pleased with the walls. There is a big wall that contains what we call 'Bedroom 3'. It is a well-constructed wall made of bricks and period breeze-block. The bricks are exactly as chosen and are laid as straight as straight can be. The mortar-work is excellent, as is the pointing. I cannot criticise the wall in any way.

We examine the wall together.

"Where," I ask in a very calm and considered and keeping-a-lid-on-it way, "is the window?"

"Yes." replies the Methodical Builder.

I look harder at the wall. Not being a technical type, I had imagined that a gap would need to be left in advance for the window, rather than some belated hollowing-out.

"I think the brickie had a bit of an off day," he offers.

"An off day."

"Either that, or he was looking at a different version of the plans."

My mind searches in vain for any memory of these mysterious plans. "It's just that I was rather hoping to use it," I muse, "for looking out of."


Thursday, April 06, 2006

The baby grizzles.

I try to buy her off with one of her furry animals. Servalan has several furry animals, principally three bears named Lionel, Tony and Rafael, and two rabbits.

The rabbits do not have names. That would be silly.

Bears and rabbits appear to be the key types of furry animal produced as baby entertainment. For some reason it's been decided that babies will mainly like the species that are known for relieving themselves in the woods. (By 'relieving themselves' of course I mean taking a dump, not masturbating. Although for all I know, bears might well masturbate in the woods. I do not seek to judge.)

I grab Tony bear. "Come on. I'm a reasonably straight bear. Let's draw a line under this crying and move on," he says (although it is not really him, it is me just pretending). The grizzling continues.

My Canadian readers would know. They might have seen them going into the woods with copies of 'Readers' Bears' or 'Bearly Legal' or 'Bear with a One-Track Mind'. Let's face it, they are pretty restricted for places to go. They don't have bedrooms, or bathrooms, or Sketchley's (when the assistant is not looking).

The happiest bears are the ones clutching a copy of 'Coprophiliac Bear'. They have the best of both worlds.

Rabbits do not masturbate in the woods. They have no need.

I think the bear/rabbit monopoly might come from the Pooh Bear books. I am currently reading the one where Pooh Bear gets stuck in Rabbit's hole, and they are pretty well the only characters in there. Baby Servalan is enjoying it, although I am still trying to work out my accents. At present I am playing Pooh Bear as a sort of north-country Jake Thackray type, with Rabbit adopting a more Terry-Thomas vocal tone.

(If you're interested, of the non-shitting-in-the-woods characters, Christopher Robin is just a normal voice, Piglet is squeaky and Tigger is a sort of over-energetic Mick Jagger.)

Mick Jagger does not shit in the woods. It's possibly that he might shit at the Woods', if Ronnie had, say, invited him round for dinner and to stay the night.

I don't know if Mick Jagger would masturbate at the Woods'. I don't really care. He co-wrote 'Gimme Shelter' so he is allowed. He probably would if Jerry could not make it that evening. (Note to self - check if this is still a current reference).

The grizzling continues. I decide to change a nappy.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Short Tonies have gone to America!!!

We sat in the Village Pub discussing their impending holiday.

"It's the food I'm really looking forward to," said Short Tony. "Big portions."

"That's not necessarily true," I warned him. "I've been to California and the food is rubbish. They don't have flavours."

"What do they eat in Florida then?"

I was a bit nonplussed by this. "Oranges, I guess. And Democrats."

Flying on April Fool's Day is always fun, with the amusing jokes and pranks you can play at the immigration desk. But, truth be told, I am a bit worried about his visit. Recently he has once more turned up at somebody's house in the middle of the night slightly drunk and urgently requesting a darts game. Eddie was flying to Australia the next day, so wasn't up for it and, in fact, hid in the back room - but the point is that if he does this on holiday then he might get shot as an intruder. This is America we are talking about after all, not sleepy Norfolk.

Either that or he will come back as a different actor, like on Neighbours.