Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Forth! The Three Walkers!

Every year or so or whenever we can fit it in, my brother, my father and I go on a holiday. To stop us drinking all day and arguing we tend to theme the break around a pleasant walk. And by 'pleasant walk' of course I mean 'ridiculous endurance challenge'. 

Last year found us struggling against driving snow and forty knot headwinds on the Norfolk coast. Not to be outdone, my brother has organised this year's trip. We are going to walk the Test Way, which follows the river Test from source to mouth for forty-six miles across most of Hampshire.

Obviously, that seemed a bit easy for our normal long weekend, so he has made it tougher by restricting us to two days and insisting we start the first day before it gets light so we can get a couple of leagues in before breakfast. This is all very well for my country-dwelling coffee-drinking companions. Whom early nights and early starts have made healthy, wealthy and free of farts (or something, not too up on my rhyming aphorisms). But for the indulged city-boy who would never rise before noon given the choice it presents something of a challenge. I am actually writing this, in bed, at quarter-to-three in the afternoon. I did get up earlier so I could lie in the bath for a bit. Forty-six miles. Two days. Hmmm...  

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time the King of Nursery Rhyme Land called his Chief Teller of Fairy Tales to appear before him.

"I want a fairy tale," said the King.

"Your wish is my command," said the Chief Teller of Fairy Tales.

"One without wishes," said the King.

"No wishes, your highness?" said the Chief Teller of Fairy Tales.

"In all the fairy tales you tell, there are always wishes being granted by talking frogs. I want a story with no wishes and no frogs," said the King.

"No frogs?" said the Chief Teller of Fairy Tales.

"No frogs!" said the King.

"How about a toad?" said the Chief Teller of Fairy Tales.

"No toads!" said the King.

"What about a newt?" said the Chief Teller of Fairy Tales (but he didn't hold out much hope).

"No amphibians!" declared the King. "And, by the way, why do things always have to happen in threes?"

"Things always happen in threes, Sire, that's how things happen. If things didn't happen in threes there would be no order to the world and things would just happen randomly and unexpectedly in twos... or even... fours! I don't want to think about it to be honest!" said the Chief Teller of Fairy Tales, the colour draining from his face, "I suppose we should also scrap the "Once upon a time... ...and they all lived happily ever after" framing device while we are at it?" 

"Good idea!" said the King, "I have never understood why a story has to take place in an ill-defined distant history or why its protagonists should enjoy enduring happiness after the tale's conclusion."

"If I have this correct then, Sire, you want a story set in a modern day world, where frogs can't talk, events just occur randomly, wishes don't come true and nobody lives happily ever after."

"Yes!" said the King.

"Well," said the Chief Teller of Fairy Tales, "I can set a tale in such a world, Sire, but I wouldn't want to live in it!" 

Friday, 14 March 2014


Three o'clock and no sign of the engineer. John Paul Sartre said that three o'clock in the afternoon is either too late or too early for anything you want to do and I'm starting to agree. Agreeing with Sartre is not something I often find myself doing. Does this constitute an Existential crisis? Can 'does this constitute an Existential crisis?' even be considered a meaningful question? Such are the questions one is likely to ponder when deprived of Television for two days.

I secretly like the first couple of hours of waiting in the flat for someone to come and fix something. I find it a really good opportunity to do nothing productive. No point starting work on a project when Graham from Sky TV could ring the doorbell any minute.

Graham from Sky TV is visiting as the Sky box has stopped receiving a signal. To start with, Spike was probably the most concerned about it as at least Charlie and I can play scrabble or have an argument about whether or not a word is permitted in scrabble.  

After the first couple of hours of waiting, I start to feel that existential guilt that I haven't done anything except stare into the middle distance. That's when I pull myself together and ring Graham (who should have arrived between 12 and 2). Half an hour, he says. Plenty of time to bang out a blogpost. Not a proper one with links and photos. Just a self-referential piece of existentialism featuring an anthropomorphicised cactus. Outside, it's a cold spring day. Daffodils bloom. Life thrives.