The weather down here in Sussex was pretty good earlier in the week, with temperatures up in the eighties fahrenheit, in contrast to the cold and rain we had in April. We were out dancing last Friday night at a pleasant little pub in Alciston (pronounced 'Aston') called the Rose Cottage. And, as often happens early on in the dancing out season, we outnumbered the spectators. At one point (I kid you not) our appreciative audience consisted of three people and a Jack Russell/Spaniel cross. The dog seemed to enjoy it.
Curiously, this warmer weather has had a strange effect on Mrs H and on me; we have simultaneously developed awful summer colds. But, being the stalwarts that we are, we haven't allowed it to stop us from getting on with things. I spent a jolly day yesterday, sanding down skirting boards and filling holes in walls, whilst Mrs H pottered around the house doing various exciting chores. I had thought, when I moved to the coast just over three years ago, that I would spend my time in solitary walks along a windswept beach, composing poetry or thinking through the next chapter of my as yet incomplete book, The Middenshire Chronicles, but that's not how things turned out. Instead, I work five mornings a week, then come home to a pot of filler and a sheet of sandpaper. But, once all the work has been completed, there will (I hope) be time for the walking and composing.
My preoccupation with work and domestic refurbishment does not, however, prevent my being creative. Why, only the other day I invented an eye test chart for illiterate gardeners - instead of capital letters, I used vegetables. And I came up with a way of avoiding the expense of personalised car number plates - simply take the letters from your car's registration number and change your name by deed poll to match them. Probably best I copyright these ideas in case someone else tries to pass them off as theirs.
Nor does work and DIY stop me from getting out of the house now and then. The other day I thought I would take the old papers and magazines down to the small recycling area that lives in a corner of the car park at the end of our road. It was a quiet Sunday morning and there was no-one else around. As I approached the recycling bins, I saw a man leaning against one of them, reading a newspaper in what I can only describe as a furious manner. When he clocked my arrival, he stopped reading, opened up the bin he had been leaning on, and started sorting through the mixed collection of papers and magazines therein. He placed the magazines in a separate bin, and returned the newspapers to the first.
'Don't people realise?' he asked. 'Papers and magazines should be sorted.'
I muttered something like 'Oh, really?' as I absent-mindedly placed my own mixed load of papers and mags in the bin. He instantly fell upon them like a wolf on its prey and began to furiously sort them into categories.
'I don't know what's wrong with these people,' he said. 'Magazines in one bin, papers in another. How difficult is that?'
I was about to point out the sticky labels on the paper recyc bins that permitted both types of periodical in the same receptacle, but thought better of it.
'Violence. That's all these people understand,' he said through gritted teeth. 'Violence.'
So, there I was. In a deserted street with a furious man who wanted to tear amateur recyclers to pieces with his bare hands. I decided to leave Mr Furious to his one man crusade, and wandered off to buy some newspapers to replace the ones my potentially violent acquaintance was e'en now in the process of sorting.
Never a dull moment is Sussex.
Victoria Wood - Brief Encounter parody
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