We've had to batten down the hatches here in Sussex over the last few weeks. The weather has been terrible, giving me an excuse to have a proper open fire in the grate, something that, coming from smoke-free London, still fills me with childish delight. The recent stormy weather has also resulted in a rather curious phenomenon. We inhabitants of Seaford found ourselves with a sandy beach. Seaford beach is usually resolutely pebbled, its mile or so of flint being marshalled and kept in place by an army of heavy bulldozers that fight to prevent longshore drift from scouring away the beach completely. But over the last couple of weeks, the storms washed away the shingle and left behind a beach that, although it didn't rival those of Thailand or the South Seas, would nevertheless have allowed the building of sandcastles. If anyone had been there to build them, that is.
It's been a funny couple of weeks. In one of my (thankfully) exceptionally rare visits to Tesco's, I saw a raincoated sixty-something man get increasingly frustrated with the self-service till. He'd bought a couple of small items, and, sensible man that he was, had decided to pay with some of those vouchers that the supermarket sometimes sends one through the post. Upon the appropriate prompt, he put the aforesaid voucher into the appointed slot. Nothing happened. Our friend then decided that the voucher must have become lodged in the machine. So, he grabbed a handful of leaflets from the counter (Clubcard application forms, I fancy they were), tore them into strips, and started to insert them into the voucher slot. Nothing happened. Then something happened; the machine disgorged the voucher. He put the voucher back in. Nothing happened. He inserted further bits of Clubcard leaflet. Out came the voucher again. By this point, I was both wearied and fascinated at the same time, so I had a discreet word with a nearby sales assistant, suggesting that the gentleman might need a little help. He was only about three feet from the assistant, but at no time did he ask for anything in the way of aid. Perhaps he was at a loose end that day and the whole thing afforded him with a little diversion. I'm not keen on those self-service machines. They always tell me there's an "unexpected item in the bagging area." That unexpected item always turns out to be my shopping. If shopping is unexpected, what would be an "expected" item? A set of false teeth, perhaps? A copy of Jude the Obscure, by Thomas Hardy? Or maybe a sense of ennui? Whatever that is.
A few days after this, I saw Mr. Toad of Toad Hall fame, outside the station. Of course, it wasn't actually a toad; it was a man. But he was sporting the kind of garb Mr. Toad would have worn to drive his car - bright yellow corduroy trousers, lovat green jacket with a red check, peaked motoring cap of a similar material. It was with great difficulty I resisted the urge to say "poop poop!" before running away. Just thought you'd like to know.
This post is in danger of turning into stream of consciousness drivel, if it hasn't already. My initial purpose was to wish you all a very happy new year. I don't make new year resolutions, and the closest Mrs. H has come to one so far this year is when she said, "I think I'm drinking too much. I think I'll just have a couple of gin and tonics." (She doesn't drink too much, dear reader!) No; I think if you resolve to make some change to your life, any time is a good time. Why wait until January the first? However, if I were to make a resolution, it would be to get something written other than this humble blog. The pilot episode of Pardon my Jaguar, perhaps? Or some more of the perpetually unpublished Middenshire Chronicles.
I think I've already taken up far too much of your time. A very happy new year to all of you, my bloggy friends. I'll see you in 2010. Perhaps then I'll have something useful and/or interesting to say. It would make a change, wouldn't it?