We were running a bit late, for reasons I won’t go into.The curry house was booked for quarter to
nine, and it was twenty to, with a ten minute drive in between.At this point, she performed one of her party
“Have you seen my keys?”
Several minutes later, “Doesn’t matter,” she said, “I’ll
take one of the spares.”It was a blue
(I should explain that Bee’s spare keys are colour-coded –
blue for front door, red for back, yellow for patio.)
The curries were quite nice.As were the Cobras and the entertainment. (There was a football team in).Indian restaurants do seem to be quite loud
on a Saturday night, don’t they?We had
one of those inaudible conversations, paid the bill, motored back up to the
house and unlocked the front door.Except we didn’t.
I’ve never been locked out of my own house (except that one
time I was), even less someone else’s.The blue key didn’t fit the blue door.Or the yellow door or the red door or even the green door.(The Green Door doesn’t exist, despite what
Frankie Vaughan might tell you.)
We’re not ones to panic.In this kind of situation, I almost wonder whether failure to panic is
the most sensible reaction.But we didn’t.All sorts of options were considered,
culminating in ‘Get a locksmith’.Ever
tried that in a semi-rural location at half-eleven p.m. on a Saturday night?The solution is ‘Ask a policeman.’
The local police station was closed, of course, but there
was a phone by the door, through which we got a couple of numbers.About forty-five minutes later the super lock
man turned up.He had a magic device which
opened the door without doing any damage (I won’t give details just in case any
burglars read this blog – but “just as well you didn’t double-lock it”, he said).Apparently, some locksmiths will smash the
lock even if they don’t need to, for the extra revenue.Not this one.
So then we spent the rest of the night filling in the
insurance claim form.
(The keys were behind
the radio. The blue spare key was a red
(There is a lie
concealed within this post.See if you
can spot it.)
It’s been an unusual couple of days, which has to be
good.Unusual is good.About eleven o’clock Wednesday, as I was
finishing my cold coffee and mapping out the plan, which entailed all sorts of
domesticity, the phone rang.Well, there’s
Sam, who’s between jobs and delivering cars around the
country to scrape a living, was stuck at Reading station, having missed the
train to Newbury by four minutes.(I was
subsequently told that the timetables have been shifted forward by four minutes
due to the absence of the scheduled leaves on the lines; I’m not sure I believe
this.)Could I help?Course I could.Pick you up at Reading station in about
If you’ve been to Reading station recently, you probably
need counselling.There’s been a huge
cosmetic makeover, which as far as I can work out has halved the number of
platforms whilst doubling the time needed to get between any two
locations.(I’m probably being unfair;
after all, they’ve only been at it for three years, hardly enough time to break
something which was working fine, let alone repair it.)
I go there rarely nowadays, and he even less, so neither of
us was particularly aware of the various ‘pick-up’ or ‘drop-off’ points.We had a hilarious series of phone
conversations – “What can you see?”“Cars
in a car park.”“I can see a pub called,
um –““You’re in the wrong place…” “So
are you!” – before we finally hooked up and set off for Greenham Common.We had a really good chat, which wouldn’t
otherwise have happened.
Next day, Bee phoned me to let me know that someone had done
a bit of road rage and seemed to want to reverse into her as she was parking,
so she’d switched on her hazard lights, seen the aggressor off and caught the
train to London.When she got back six
hours later, the hazards were still on, but the car batterywasn’t.She called the rescue people and spent some time wandering round
Waitrose until they called back to suggest that she’d best be getting a taxi
The taxi driver, on learning of her predicament, suggested
that, instead of taking her home, he used his jump leads to start her car.Naturally, she snapped this offer up.He then thought he’d better follow her, just
to make sure she didn’t break down on the way.I don’t know yet whether he made any charge, I’ll find out; I suspect
not.Aren’t people decent?
The other good news is that Waitrose now do ossobuco cuts of veal, so that’s
Saturday’s dinner sorted.It does mean
that I’ve had to buy a pack of the despised saffron, but hey! One in ten years
is pardonable, innit?Not even I would
put turmeric in a risotto alla Milanese.
Yes thank you, I’ve had a nice blogbreak, and flushed out
a few self-inflicted misconceptions, such as that there were categories – rants,
raves and trivia – into which each post had to exclusively fall.Hence the changed headline.So here goes.Put this into a category of your own choice, if you like; though I’d
rather you didn’t.
I was going to spend a lot of time and effort in
researching some answers, but it’s too late (in every sense),
so instead here are ten questions.
proportion of current cabinet ministers are Old Etonians?
these, how many are women?
proportion of the population are Old Etonians?
proportion of the population are women?
many current cabinet ministers inherited their wealth?
these, how many are women?
many current cabinet ministers have worked for their living?
these, how many worked outside the fields of public relations, law, or media?
rate the following qualifications for a politician: rhetoric; forcefulness;
logicality; consistency; empathy.
Graham Livermore, who died last week, was the trombonist in
Dave Anthony’s Moods throughout their existence.He was also, I think, my closest friend
within the band.All 1960s groups had
their internal frictions and ours was no exception: it’s unlikely that eight
randomly selected personalities are going to get on, all the time, all
together.So alliances would form,
shift, split and realign.But Graham and
I, I like to believe, stuck together.
He was a talented musician; nobody who heard him would
question that.He could play anything
you put in front of him, reproduce by ear a tune someone might hum or play to
him, and (dare I say) improvise more thoughtfully than anyone else in the
band.His solos on ‘Summertime’, which
became his showcase number, were always melodies in their own right – sung from
the soul, as it were – and I don’t think I ever heard the same one twice.
These qualities were, I suspect, not fully appreciated, by
either his audiences or his colleagues, because Graham was the antithesis of a
showman.The one time he had a crack at ‘mak
show’, somewhere in the bleak Midlands, a stupid girl grabbed the end of his
slide and did some damage to his trombone.Typically, he laughed it off, forgave her, got it fixed and carried
on.I don’t think I ever saw him angry.
In Italy, we’d share rooms at whatever pensione we fetched up in.At our base camp in Milan, we evolved a system whereby the speakers were
either side of the two beds, so each of us got his fair share of the
stereo.We listened to one another’s music: I brought ‘Smiley
Smile’, he brought Ornette Coleman.Later (once we’d been told to shut down the noise), he would use a set
of coloured crayons to draw exquisite abstract visions, which he’d then screw
up and throw away.
I haven’t caught the best thing about Graham, which was his
dry, sometimes almost undetectable humour.Once, after listening to Coleman’s ‘Double Quartet’, he looked across at
me and, with a straight face, enquired “Why do they play like that?”Another time, he pointed out that you could
catch Coltrane, Davis and the rest repeating, recycling, the same licks in
their solos.“I do wish I knew what they
were,” he remarked.
When I was between marriages in the late eighties, we
briefly became close again.He hadn’t
changed in the intervening twenty years.He’d grown a lot of hair and beard, and was living in his parents’ house
in what some might consider squalor.It didn’t
matter to me.
I spoke to Graham once, on the phone, about three years
ago.We had a nice little chat about
music.He was, he confessed, “a bit
stoned.”He spent his time, he said,
making sculptures out of waste materials, which he hung from the ceiling.
“They’re all different,” he told me.I believed him.