I have a hobby that I share with a few friends which involves visiting locations – any and every – that were used in Doctor Who. It’s a bit odd, it’s definitely for geeks, but it’s a relatively inexpensive hobby that appeals to the obsessive side of being a fan. This can mean visiting entire villages (Aldbourne, Blists Hill), roads, stately homes, private houses, landmarks (St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Hayward Gallery, The Post Office Tower) and even fields, lakes and quarries!
The garden is finally beginning to give off the appearance of having been cultivated, rather than simply left to the mercy of nature and entropy.
This is all down to my endeavours, of course. And a neighbour who kindly topped some of our loftier trees. And the fact that yesterday we had two arborists in to cut back our sprawling sycamore whose branches were interfering with the eaves of a neighbouring property. These polite, punctual and efficient tree-fanciers have resolved the main problem in the garden, and kindly taken the hewn-off branches with them leaving us debris-free.
I was at a theatrical event the other evening where we – as audience members – were asked to select a newspaper headline that made us angry. With a lousy coalition government in charge of the country and so much unrest throughout the world there was plenty to choose from, but the one that really made my blood boil was about Cardinal Sean Brady, the chief of Irish Catholics.
Plans are afoot. I daren’t say too much in case it doesn’t happen and because it’s subject to change: but Pip has a big birthday later this year, and he’s plotting something justifiably grand!
It’s now over a year since we last holidayed. Australia was the trip of a lifetime and I loved seeing two major cities and their countryside environs, as well as being there for dear friends’ wedding. It was even worth the return flight home during which I was desperately ill and certain (in my melodramatic way) that I was dying! In our eight and a half years together we’ve also been to the Norfolk Broads, the Lake District, Tuscany and Vienna. I’ve adored all of them, and even though I’m still paying off Australia I can’t help but think travelling is money well-spent. The memories they lay down can become life-forming and precious.
The South East of Greater London, where I’ve spent much of the last seven years, is ‘home’.
Yet I’ll be heading up north in a few short weeks for the first time since Christmas, and Lancashire – or at least a very small patch of it – is also ‘home’. It’s possible to think of a few places as ‘home’, but Ormskirk in Lancashire is where I was born and brought up and where my parents still live (in the house they moved to when I was three years old) so it’s a place where myriad memories become subservient to a general feeling of ‘home’. It’s a fixed, unchanging constant, or at least as close an approximation to one that anyone could strive for.
Naughty me. I’d arranged to view a play on Tuesday evening. For some stupid reason February 14th didn’t ring any bells. So I spent the evening alone at Theatre 503 watching what was admittedly a great play. Mathematics of the Heart, ironically (and painfully) enough, is about relationships and the difficulty in meeting partners’ expectations. I was surrounded by couples. Pip was at home on his own.
Undoubtedly the critic gig has amazing perks, and it’s great to see so many shows. But there are times when I should really be at home.
It’s been a strange start to 2012. I’ve been trying to keep busy so as to not dwell too much on losing Saffy; my best friend, soulmate, a source of hope and joy – so much more than just an amazing canine companion. But emotions always catch up with you and I’ve had plenty of wobbles, never more than a few days apart.
Being tall is a mixed blessing.
Or a curse, depending on your taste.
I’m not just talking about the inevitable bad back, the premature stoop and the often involuntary intimidation of young children and small animals that invariably follows from towering above one’s fellow travellers and hitting one’s head on inadequate doorways, but the level of expectation that goes with being tall that we’re not all capable of living up to.