My sister of course. A week of drinking, catching up and being a foreigner, what more could you ask for.
Chasing the sun and wet weather, though of course I will quickly learn to regret this decision, in my sun burnt water logged agony.
Long drives, hot weather, serial killers and dust, dust and more dust. hopefully somewhere a large red rock.
After far too long travelling, I am now somewhere that I want to be, and more importantly wants me to be here too.
No sooner than I had written about tash's version of karma in the last post, the much fated "evil eye", then I got a prime example of it at work. Monday morning was spent on the phone to Australia and I remember making one or two comments in the conversation that triggered off a "hmm Tash wouldn't like me saying that" warning light in my head.
The trip up to London on Tuesday was to be a bit complex; instead of driving my car to the train station in Wareham, the next town inland - Swanage is gloriously unconnected for the non driver - I was tasked with taking the family Vauxhaul Vectra (Holden to you Aussie's and Chevrolet for you North Americans) to the conveniently situated, for the train station, car mechanic so it could be fixed up before making a final journey up north to be bequeathed to Lesley's son, my nephew, that weekend. Gavin has now returned from his mammoth South American trek and is back in the country staying with his father in the midlands; unemployed, debt ridden and with shanks' pony, as all good ex-student travelers eventually find themselves. Lesley and Jason, as supportive as ever have given him a start, or at the very least a means to get to see his girlfriend, by offering the car (after the central locking was fixed, Solihull is most definitely not sleepy Swanage). This then is the reason why I found myself in the Vectra on Tuesday afternoon, turning the key and listening to the depressing sound of a car battery too flat to turn the engine.
The Vectra I very quickly discovered was parked far too close to the curb for me to successfully both turn the steering wheel and push, so moving the metal hulk into a better position for a jump start was not going to happen. Significantly for the next couple of paragraphs, Hans, our car, was parked boot down to the Vectra with a little red Peugeot up at the bonnet end, where it would have been most handy for my car to have been.
Quick as a flash, Hans came to the rescue in a flurry of reverse, almost parallel parking bonnet to bonnet with the Vectra. Setting the hazard lights to on I jumped out, the door finding enough space between my temporary flattened battery ride and this little French red number, went back in the house, picked up the jump leads, opened both bonnets, connected up the batteries and then stood door open, arm on Han's roof, foot poised over the accelerator, proper man jump starting car style, 'cause you need to run more juice from the donor car to fire up the dead battery, right?
Hans is a big diesel, he has a lot of torque and so revs low. The car was still in gear when I jumped on the accelerator, like an obedient dog, he hadn't moved and one moment of forgetfulness for me was about illustrate the full force of "evil eye".
The revs picked up and of course, but to my surprise, so did both mine and Hans's backward trajectory. Initially my thoughts suggested, this is all happening in hyper-real time of course, that things might be ok, some hopping into the car, scrabbling for the brake, a bit of light panic...etc and all will be fine. The red Peugeot's position in the piece put paid to that idea becoming the unmovable object to Hans's unstoppable force, well the door did anyway. It was quite a vision of powerful motor and bending steel.... and leather actually, as the door fully sandwiched itself inside out between Peugeot's rear quarter and Hans's front wing, a vision until, as you might deduce, I lost my footing and my scene changed dramatically to one of an advancing front wheel targeted between my splayed legs.
I survived. It was only afterwards detailing the story to Andy, my often surrogate "phone Tash" that he pointed out had I stepped on the loud pedal any harder, going for that traditional boy racer, raucous high revving engine scream I would have run over myself. In england we refer to it as "doing a Brian Harvey" - Mr Harvey, for those of you that care for such information was one of the, well, frankly less talented, members of popular 90's boy band East17, who post fame, made the newspaper headlines by running himself over after falling out his car during a door open reversing manoeuvre and then inexplicably blamed indigestion caused by eating three baked potatoes for lunch for his obvious stupidity. This would have been one of the more embarrassing ways to go.
Jason, when I recounted my escapades (thank good for protected no claim bonuses on my insurance) he agreed with my reading of the situation that this had been Tash's karma retaliation for the previous verbal indesgression, just like a woman he commented "a completely disproportionate response". I am going to be careful what I say from now on in.
Out of five arranged meetings, three were a no show. Two didn't even call to let me know (It is not like I can pop home for a cup of tea is it! Please try to be at the least bit considerate, I really don't enjoy walking around the City streets taking my homeless status to it's logical conclusion). It is hard to hide my disappointment, increasing frustration and what then becomes an occasional sofa panic. It is not the way I wanted to leave these relationships before departing.
Open House Weekend.
Nate and Marisa were my guests for the weekend. They had access to a car at the moment, so insisted on driving down with me in the passenger seat performing my best Sat Nav impersonation "in three hundred yards turn left cobber". Upon arriving late in the afternoon they were shown the sunny delights of Swanage:g2nw and then were treated to some Mark cooking; we worked out that the last time we sat down to eat together was the Marathon day in April with Tash, a shame that there was only three of us this time, but the food was cooked with extra love to compensate. After dinner Marisa did "that pregnancy thing" that my sister noted without prompting, when I relayed the weekends events to her, she flaked out on the sofa, leaving Nate and I further explore the pubs of Swanage.
The sights and sounds of Swanage are a joy to behold, there are a fair few pubs in the rather compact town centre, five of which are on the same stretch of street, Nate and I being the intrepid explorers that we are, visited most of them. Several of the pubs down here have live music, full four piece live efforts, not something you see in London. The first of the five pubs was avoided, due to the sounds of a man'n'guitar folk song emanating out of the front door. The second, The Ship, a regular haunt that believes that it is a London bar, opted for their regular DJ duo, who are the most fashionistic of all Swanage's youngsters; blond hair, medically worrying tight jeans and belief that coolness can be shop brought. I have experienced these superstar DJ's before, their set involves flicking through many cd cases, picking and mixing classic tracks and new club numbers with such ineptitude and insensitivity to the beat and mood of a song that it has to be heard to be believed, Lou Reed's "waiting for the man" should not precede high energy house EVER! We worked out by the insane waving from behind the decks that the parents of one of these musical geniuses had popped in for a drink, as is the way in this town, all ages mix and often in the early hours of the following morning, the oldies far out weigh the bright young things. Next up was the Purbeck Hotel, that night offering the dulcet tones of the improbably named Steve Smiley, who looked like a coach driver with an Elvis fixation, but then again don't all coach drivers, still he had the crowd going. We then found a band called Creep® knocking out all sorts of covers in the White Horse, a proper locals pub, almost with sawdust on the floor, but containing men of such physicality that even Nate and I, and remember we are not small people, felt like kids in both age and stature. The cliental of the 'Horse' gave us an insight into why there is such a calmness about Swanage Saturday nights (all the yoof's were at this point drinking rather cramply you'd have to say, in what by day is a sandwich shop and at night claims to be a cocktail bar), there is no white collar work in town, it is mostly physical and you'd work that way all you life, so by looking at these guys you could imagine that if a youngster got out of line, it would be more likely that his grandfather would beat him into submission. Anyway the White Horse was Rock!, as my friend Mark would say. Finally I introduced Nate to the sublime pleasure of paying £4.50 for two, yes Londoner's, TWO, Jack Daniel's and Cokes in the East Bar, which by this time was the focus of all the late night drinking in my adopted town.
Pierre joined us on the Sunday for a relaxed steam train trip up to Corfe for lunch. Swanage is connected in principle to the outside world by rail, but the vital last mile or so between Horton and Wareham is owned by BP and apparently according to the local gossip (of which there is much), they will not allow passenger trains on this stretch as it is used for oil transportation. Horton, Corfe and Swanage has a steam train service increasing the feeling that the town really is the gateway to nowhere particular, but certainly somewhere in the past. Interesting at this point I found something new out about Nate, he is a bit of a fan of the old chuff chuff's (he writes stifling his own childish giggles - this joke won't translate). Corfe is home to Corfe Castle, operated by the English National Trust (bastion of the middle classes in this country and charger of bloody expensive entrance fees). In fact this whole quaint village is very Daily Mail (for my over sea's readers, pick any newspaper or media outlet that spends its time promoting stories about how your house price is decreasing because of the current governments immigration policy and you are on track to the sort of people who live in this picturesque country village). After walking around the (cheaper) outside of the castle, well ruins, it was I guess a victim of the English civil war. Corfe Castle is sandwiched between a dip in the Purbeck hills, this would have made a perfect defensive point in Norman times, the castle is perched up high over the road and village, but must of suffered a tad with the development of lighter cannon, you would have simply just rolled the things up on either hill and pummeled the castle downward. Anyway this is England and like Italy, we have all seen a castle before, so we went and had lunch, before taking the steam train back to Swanage again. Relaxed simple and fun.