The final curtain?

I’ve moved on to a new blog–and no cheese–and you’ll need to click on over there to keep up with our doings.

I’ll leave the archives here–all ten years of them–and it may be that I shall switch back here at some point in the future… journal of a writing man is too good a title to throw away for ever.

A good stout stick

Friday July 4, 2008

So then.  This is it for ‘journal of a writing man’.  After ten years I still think it was a pretty good title, but I confess that the combined weight of 3,408 posts is a bit of a burden.  The new journal–’and no cheese‘–is sitting there all empty, drawing breath and getting ready to sing.

When I close this entry I shall close this volume of the journal.  Tomorrow I shall start filling the pages of the new one.  The old archives will, of course, stay here where they are, spinning away merrily and available for anyone to browse.  The notification will, for the time being, go out under the old name.  Sometime soon I shall start a new notification list and close the old one. Plenty of time.

It’s an apposite point that–’plenty of time’. When you sit at your desk writing in a huge old volume the years feel heavy under your hands.  Give it the kind of frustrated thump that comes from a momentary block and clouds of dust fly out, full of fidgetted time.

I’d thought of aiming for a completely different style.  The style of this volume has changed over the years, let’s face it, starting out with literary ambition (an old friend told me “you are making a thing of real literary worth here” a few weeks after I’d started) and ending on a more human, every day note (“It’s the ordinary that makes up our lives, anyway” said another friend a couple of days back).  Now I’m closer to it, though, I am content just to meander over to the new volume and wander off into its lovely clean and empty pages, just for the fun of it, just to see where it takes me.

I don’t ask for a less well-trodden path.  Nor even for a new one.  I’m happy if the going is reasonably easy, there are wild flowers on either side now and again, and night walking is safe.  Given a good stout stick, of course.

Yesterday

Thursday July 3, 2008

When I worked on my cash portfolio project a little while back I lodged a fair proportion of them into National Savings Premium Bonds.  This is a Treasury-backed savings scheme where you invest your cash and, rather than being paid out piecemeal, the interest is used to fund a monthly prize draw, with cash prizes paid to bond holders tax free;  rather like a lottery except you get to keep your wager.  It’s fun and, over a period of time, yields about the same as a low-interest secure bond, but with a chance to ‘win a million’.

So, yesterday, the first of my five batches of bonds went into its first draw, and with a little spark of powdered, randomized pixels, out popped a win of £100!

“Oh, wow!”  I said.  “Do you think it’s an omen?”

“Could be.  What will you do with it?”

“Oh, when I’ve sniffed it I’ll stick it straight back in the pot on the principle that lucky money is lucky money.”

“Sounds good to me.  What will you win next month?”

“I’m not greedy.  Any old million will do me nicely.  Doesn’t pay to be fussy about the odd million in these strange days.”

“You never said a truer word.”

“Yes I did.”

“When?”

“Yesterday.”

Who knows?

Wednesday July 2, 2008

Yesterday was not a good day.  Nothing went wrong, but a series of minor irritations came our way, including three phone calls right in the middle of my afternoon nap.  I have noticed that while the phone will often stay silent all day it often as not rings just as I’m nodding off.

Three interruptions just about did it in for me and I couldn’t sleep any more.  We had one of those red cards from the postman asking us to pick up a packet from the sorting office–’too large for your letter box’–so we ventured out into the last of the afternoon heat to fetch it.

“You’ll like this one,” he said, smiling smugly.

I did, too.  It was volume one of Ella Fitzgerald singing the Cole Porter Songbook.  The very same pressing and cover I had back in the late 1950s, and in pretty good condition, too allowing for its antiquity.  It has worn better than I have, anyway.  Graham is not content, however, and intends to continue searching for a better quality copy.

He passed it through his home-made LP cleaning machine–a shining example of bloke-in-a-garage technology–and you could see the tired old grooves weeping dark brown tears of gunge and nicotine, and the surface gleamed, all black and appealing.  Sounded that way, too.

I sat in the living room window gazing out over the close and dreamed my way through the first side as Ella wove her magic.  The close looked almost attractive for once, though I much confess it does look better since we had our SOLD sign in plain view.

Then, we cut the grass under darkening skies and, much to Graham’s satisfaction, were finished and packed away before the first heavy drops fell onto the pavement.

The rain stopped, started, and sighed gently before settling down to a fine, persistent misty rain.

“Just right for my grass,” said Graham.

I smiled contentedly.  His grass, indeed!  But, the day had recovered, the irritations washed away, and a happy fifty minutes of Doctor Who while sipping a rather tasty sauvignon straight from the Luberon made it all right again.

“This is nice,” I said as another Dalek met its explosive doom.

Outside, the rain continued and, passing through the humidity barrier, began to cool our little world gently.  Tomorrow we’ll go out with the hose and give the trees and shrubs a good soaking right at their toes.  We’ll be fine then, ready for whatever July and August throws at us.  After that, who knows?


Beacon by the dunes

Nothing quite like it

Tuesday July 1, 2008

There.  That’s June done, the house is under offer (SOLD, to the optimists among us) and all the main paperwork is not just done it’s double-done, filed and delivered.

The drive over to Minehead today, with a stop-off in Williton on the way, was rather heavy.  Graham was tired from his working weekend and I was just as tired from mine.  And it was hot.  At times, air-conditioner hot. In-car a/c has to be the most wonderful extension to the concept of car safety and comfort since pneumatic tires.

Driving into the town from the solicitor’s office we were a trifle overwhelmed to find it crowded, hot, teeming with happy grockles (grockles tend to be happy in the sunshine, at least until the burning starts), and just slightly off-centre to our quiet little world.

“Why are we here?” Graham asked.

“We were thinking of stopping off for a visit.”

“What a silly idea.”

“Yup.  Let’s go get provisions and see how soon we can get home.”

So, we’re home, Sally our solicitor has all the paperwork she needs to get the deal going, the buyer’s valuation/survey is ticking into life with an appointment due ‘in the next couple of days’, and we’ve both of us had enough of the house game for a little while.

Our visit to Swansea has been put off until next week.  All we really want to do is sleep.  And that’s what we’ll do our damnedest to achieve during the remainder of this week.  Sleep.  Glorious sleep.  Nothing quite like it.


Under the pavilion

We shall see how it pans out

Monday June 30, 2008

Late yesterday evening I pushed my chair back from the desk, announced to the world that my brain hurt, and plodded off downstairs to cook my [late] dinner.  The filing is done.  The forms are all filled in.  The letter to the solicitor is done.  All that’s needed before we motor the assembled pack over to Minehead tomorrow is a couple of signatures from Graham.

So, what shall I do with myself today, then?

My first feeling is that I’ve earned a quiet day at home, dozing happily until it’s time to go collect Graham tonight.  On the other hand, I do need to get some tasty, healthy food in for myself so an outing seems appropriate at some point.

We shall see how it pans out after an egg-on-toast breakfast. It’d be even better by the seaside.


By the seaside

Moving on

Sunday June 29, 2008

Graham is working a longer weekend than usual ‘to get the season going’.  Yup.  The ‘season’ has started, with the arrival of the first batch of genuine holiday makers in place of the more usual special eventers.  The first two weeks tend to be mostly old folks, with special needs people coming along for the second week.  Then it turns over to ‘family’ weeks, easing back down again in September to a return of the oldies.  I’m not going to say or think anything bad about it because the chances are we’ll be living there for our short inter-house period somewhere around mid-August.

There’s a plus-side about the longer weekend, too.  Gives me a better chance to get the household files in good order, and the outstanding shredding done.  Seems that, last February, I solved the problem by bundling up a load of paper and shoving it down the front of my files.  Sometimes I get round the ‘be sure your sins will find you out’ situation on household filing by saying that I may be dead first.

Either way, I’m on course for an early morning trip with Graham to the solicitor with all the paper work done needed to kick the sale off on the legal side.  That’ll be a good job done.  My next task is to root through all my clothes cupboards and drawer and to dispose of anything I’ve not worn for more than two years.  That’s most of it.  How much clothing does a retired, sedentary bloke need anyway?

I phoned the agent in Swansea yesterday to check on the status of the house we liked so much from the description and the aerial shots.  It’s in the final stages of the legalities, with a cash buyer.  Hey ho.  There are more.  I told the young woman how well it fitted our needs and she was kind enough to put a PDF file of about eight similar properties together and send it to me via email.

Not a single one of them is on the Internet sales site!  We knew this was likely to be the case, but not quite as markedly.  So, even though the technology is there to do all the foot work in the comfort of your computer room, going off on your viewing tour only when you’ve arrived at a very short list to physically visit, it still comes down to trawling the agents, reading piles of house particulars in a local coffee house, and setting up your own tour.

We’ll be trolling over to Swansea (a two-hour drive) one day during the coming week to get a feel for it all.

Hey ho.  Busy is good for me, I know that.  I’d rather be sitting by the seaside, though.


By the seaside