Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want 

I set to angsting over how Tabs was feeling about the whole stupid email debacle.
This afternoon I met her outside the photocopier room. She was just coming out, but she followed me back in as I went to fiddle some expense claims and closed the door behind her.

She stood uncomfortably close and said that some people think I’m a freak but she thinks I’m, you know - and for a moment I thought she was either going to bludgeon me to death with a rolled up copy of this quarter’s sales figures for the East Midlands region, spiral bound with plastic front and back covers, a good quarter by all accounts thanks largely to a big effort in the pharmaceuticals sector or kiss me - and she said she thought I was a bit odd, but not in a really bad way.
She went to leave, but as she reached for the door handle she turned around and said “Just one more thing,” like Columbo might have.
“I don’t care how you and your girlfriend Diana get your kicks, but you don’t want to fuck with me, is that understood? Terry is a nice guy and God knows I’ve waited long enough for something like this, and after everything Stella has said you might not want to believe it, but I think I deserve this. I need this. For once in my life…”
Her voice tailed off and she picked at her nail varnish.
“Please please please let me get… oh, you know the rest.”

I just stood there not knowing what to say, as per usual. Eventually I said the only thing I could think of.
“How cool is that? You just quoted The Smiths at me.”

Then she left the room and I photocopied my receipts and I could still smell her perfume out in the corridor after I’d thought it over for a while and left the room twenty five minutes later.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Bad Review 

At the company where I work, everybody falls into one of two distinct camps: those who have never heard of me, and those who think I’m weird.
Following last week’s email cock up, not my first and probably not my last, there’s been a majority swing from former to latter. Shit happens, etc. It won’t last.

On Thursday afternoon and Friday my in tray spilled over with spoof emails from co-workers, requesting my considered advise on a variety of delicate matters, and fair enough I suppose. People love to take the piss, and my role here is to facilitate that.
But by this afternoon the joke had worn a bit thin, and the odd mail still trickled in. My replies became a little more direct.

Dear Tim,
For six months I’ve been seeing a kind and loving man from London, and now he says he wants to take me up the Arsenal. I’ve always been a Wanderers fan. What should I do?

Hello Uncertain,
It’s Keith from accounts again, isn’t it?
Piss off and do some work, you creepy hippy.

Terry was frosty with me all day Friday, but today there have been signs of a thaw. The ice began to melt and he asked me to show him the original email that I’d replied to - he’d already guessed that Diana must have been the sender.

“She got that bit wrong,” he said, puffing his cheeks indignantly. He had the disgruntled air of a writer whinging over a bad review. “The first time we spoke was when Tabs came in for her interview. Get your facts right.”

“Anything else? You know how Diana loves to be corrected.”

There wasn’t, not really. She’d got the rest of it pretty much spot on -“What about the fantastic sex bit?” “Don’t push your luck,” he answered, trying to suppress a smile - and then he hit delete and hasn’t mentioned it since.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Apple Venus 

Email to whole company:
25/4/2004 10:09


Love can be a rum old kettle of fish and Tabatha has got you stitched up like a kipper.

She has engineered a scenario whereby the two of you have come together without her having to ask you out and risk getting stung, or having to wait forever for you to grasp the nettle.

This is dating by enforcement rather than negotiation and is not as unusual as you might think.

I suggest you keep your doubts to yourself unless you want to be knee deep in rotting apples and be happy while the humping is good.


Email to Diana, Head of Marketing:
25/4/2004 10:21

Shit. I’ve done that thing again, haven’t I?

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Everything Will Flow 

Email from Diana, Head of Marketing:
24/11/2004 11:24

Dear Tim,

I am 33 years old and have recently been dating a wonderful girl called Tabatha who seems to be very keen on me.

The trouble is that for the first couple of months of our relationship she was actually seeing some other guy who she had mistaken for me.
The first time we really did meet was a month ago when she started to work at my company as a receptionist.
On her first day, she walked into my room and said what are you doing for lunch? I’m starving. Let’s go to the Adelphi and I said OK, I’ll drive, and those were the first words we ever exchanged as far as I’m concerned, and things have just sort of developed from there.

I used to feel guilty because I’ve known about this all along - when she thought she was going out with me but wasn’t - and I didn’t say anything to my boss Stella, who is her best friend, to put matters straight.

These days I just feel confused.

Should I bring the matter up with her, or would it be best to forget it and go with the flow?
I don’t want to upset the apple cart and the sex is just fantastic.



PS. It’s not Anxious, you big schmuck! It’s me, Diana. You going to the canteen today?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


The data centre is windowless, airless, cheerless.

Every couple of hours we break ourselves away and stand outside in the grey corridor and drink grey coffee from the machine.
Through the rain streaked windows we watch ashen faced smokers coagulate in the mist, huddled in their pen at the end of the grey car park. This is how it has been, day after day - sky grey, concrete grey, shattered going home grey. I’m hoping for a change.

After lunch today, I emerged from trap two to find Neil, my former team leader, waiting outside the cubicle door. The gents toilets in our office are not the world’s largest, and we stood face to face for a moment or two in awkward silence.
He was decked out in a sparkly blue clown’s outfit, and had a bunch of brightly coloured helium filled balloons tied to each wrist. He began to sing.

“Happy birthday to you!”
His big clown feet broke into a flippy floppy dance.
“Happy birthday to you!”
In his hands was a parcel, gift wrapped in shiny paper, tied with a green ribbon.
“Happy birthday dear Tim, happy birthday to you.”

He pulled a party popper and red yellow and green gunky stuff rained down on our heads.

“But Neil,” I said, “it’s not my birthday.”
“A man can go mad from colour deficiency,” he replied.
“It’s not my real birthday…”
“I once saw a good man completely lose it from colour deprivation…”
“And it’s not Tim the blogger’s made up birthday either.”
“He went berserk in the paint section of B&Q. Took off all his clothes and poured a tin of Deep Ultramarine over himself.”
“But I’d rather you didn’t tell any one about that, if you don’t mind.”
“Moved onto Rustic Red and Burned Orange. By the time security arrived, he could sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow too.”
“You’re not listening to me, Neil. It’s not my birthday.”
“The police report said it wasn’t pre-mixed.”

I gave him a slap.

“Oh. It’s not your birthday?” And as if by magic, all the balloons immediately drooped, deflated.
“Hey! How did you get your balloons to do that? That’s really clever.”
“What balloons?”
And sure enough, there weren’t any balloons now, and he wasn’t wearing a clown’s costume either.
He looked at me in his grey suit and grey shirt and grey tie and said, “Have you finished in there or what? I’m bursting.”

I took the silver parcel from him, borrowed a knife from the kitchen and shared it out between me, Terry, Stella and Tabs. It was delicious.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Sit Down 

Email from Charlotte to whole company:
22/11/2004 10:16

Dear All,

Rex the security guard has asked me to pass on the following announcement to all staff:

Could all those who find themselves ridiculous sit down next to me.

Thank you,

Personal Assistant to Bill Surname, CEO.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Painted From Memory 

Sunday, October 10, 2004

So the journal thing fizzled somewhat.
I’ve got stacks of photos so if I can be arsed I should be able to piece things together and Girlfriend will obviously remember things much better than me.
I’m not sure if I should blog about this, whether it will seem like gloating. On the other hand, I really do have shit for brains and if I don’t write it down, it’ll be gone in ten, twenty years, all but the briefest of outlines. And that’s a good reason for doing it.

Right now we’re sat on a bench near a bandstand on Boston Common. It’s 3:15pm. I feel sad because we’re leaving today.
It’s another beautiful Boston day - surely it can’t always be so lovely? - and people are strolling, cycling, talking, pushing prams. Children keep trying to feed the squirrels, but have yet to learn that you should not go to them, let them come to you.

On the bench to the left of us is homeless guy. He’s been going round checking the bins for returnable bottles. He’s collected a big bag full, but now he’s taking a break.
Girlfriend made a point of putting all our empties in the bins in the street rather than in the cafes. That way homeless dudes could collect them and return them for however much you get for returned bottles. She’s smart like that.

Behind us is a couple lying on the grass under a blanket, their sleeping heads resting on an old tatty suitcase. They look like they fell asleep at a rock festival that finished months ago, and stayed put after everyone else had packed up and gone home.

There was a couple of ex-film students talking about future projects and stuff on the next bench, but I missed it all because I was listening to Fountains of Wayne, my latest musical obsession, and writing this in my notebook. Girlfriend was eavesdropping on them though, and that’s how I know.

This morning we wandered down Newbury St. which is full of those preposterous expensive shops like Chanel, Ralph Lauren and so on. We were looking for a photography gallery I’d read about.
When we eventually found it, you had to go up in a gold plated lift to the fourth floor.
The lift wouldn’t work, presumably because it was too heavy, being gold plated and all. I pressed the button a couple of times but the doors wouldn’t close. We got out and the doors closed. We went back in again and the doors wouldn’t close. Eventually we lost our nerve - it would be just our luck to get trapped in a gold plated lift and miss the flight.

We passed an hour in an internet café, checking the football results, the news, and blogworld.
JB’s been Easyjetting. Jamie’s been buying shoes. Andre’s a different man since he got back from Belgium. Jezebel has lost her job and has had to suspend activity due to heartbreak.
I can hear children laughing in several languages and church bells ringing. The BBC says they’re having services throughout the country for that poor guy who got beheaded.

We’re off now for our last donut and coffee before we go back to the hotel to pick up our stuff and catch the shuttle bus to the airport.
It’s weird to think that at any time, somewhere in the world, there are people riding through the night in aeroplanes, squashed up together in a big metal tube hurtling across the black sky, going somewhere or coming back home.
Wish us luck.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Here Be Monsters 

Saturday, October 9, 2004

The founders of Harvard University missed a trick.
After they’d chosen a name for their university and got their letterheads and sweatshirts printed up at the local Kwik-e-Print, they had second thoughts and decided that Cambridge University would have been a better name. It would have given their establishment a certain brainy kind of feel, they thought.
Kicking themselves for this missed opportunity, they settled for naming the surrounding area Cambridge instead, and that’s where we spent our Saturday.

It’s a handsome place alright, although if they’d really wanted to mimic it’s English namesake, they should have imported a couple of thousand rusty bicycles with wicker baskets, and introduced the concept of gentlemen in stripy blazers and ladies in floaty dresses all enjoying a good punt up the Cam.

We continued our mission to loiter in every bookshop in New England (I bought this; Girlfriend bought that), and on Cambridge Common we sat in the Autumn sunshine and watched some kids playing American football, another group playing baseball, a rather fine Frisbee demonstration, and a young family entertaining themselves and us by crawling about on all fours, roaring and bumping into each other.

Three generations of the same family asked us for directions all at once. We weren’t the slightest use to them, but enjoyed the chat anyway. Grandma, the oldest and least infirm of the trio, told us how she loves to visit London and travel alone on the tube. “No, I don’t feel at all afraid," she grinned. "If I get lost I can always ask a policeman.”
We smiled and spent the afternoon in Shay’s.

In the evening by the subway a band played Sweet Home Alabama - I’m sure it was the same band we’d seen in Woodstock - and a crowd gathered round and had what seemed to be a good time.
Even the grumpy looking lad in the bandana and one of those greatcoats once popular among members of Echo And The Bunnymen, holding up a board with messages of political protest on each side looked like he was enjoying himself in his own solitary kind of way.

We took the T back to the middle of Boston and ate in a German restaurant.
I had the most peculiar meal - a landfill of deep fried pumpkin ravioli served in a reservoir of oil - which I won’t be trying again in a hurry.
Afterwards, Girlfriend handed me this photo meddling opportunity on a plate.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Take Me Out To The Ball Game 

Friday, October 8, 2004

It may be the cut of their jeans or perhaps something in their genes, but all women in Boston have magnificent arses. Or asses, as they might say. Mmmmmm.
I gave this matter some considerable thought as we walked along the worthy and slightly dull Freedom Trail, because - I don’t know - I just couldn’t help myself.

The Freedom Trail has a red line running along it’s length, sometimes painted, sometimes red bricked into the paving. It passes lots of historic sites as you’d expect, and takes you to places you probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise, but it did become a bit of a slog.
We soldiered on to the bitter end because we’re kind of obsessive like that.
Along the way I took some pictures of skyscrapers.
I saw this and thought of Petite Anglaise, while this made me think of Spike the security guard.

In the North End - the Italian restaurant quarter - we unearthed Boston’s only snotty twat of a waiter. Girlfriend asked him what some item or other was, neither of us being fluent in Italian Menu and with a self satisfied smile on his little twatty face, he answered “I see you don’t get out very much then.” He then proceeded to be a twat for the rest of the meal.
Perhaps he was taking part in one of those “How Quickly Can I Get Myself Sacked?” reality TV shows.
As we left, I kicked him in the nads and we legged it without paying the bill.
As we left, I thanked him for a delicious meal and tipped at the normal rate, ever the polite uncomplaining Englishman.
One of the previous two sentences is true.

In the evening we broke an 86 year old curse, a notable achievement by anybody’s standards, and one which we hope will be recognised and rewarded in due course.
We stood outside Fenway Park for a bit, while the Boston Red Sox were playing the Anaheim Angels - and what do you know - the Sox went on to win the World Series. Coincidence or what?
I hereby claim our free tickets to visit Boston whenever we like. It’s the least the city authorities could do for us.
We made our way back through the blurry city streets and watched the game in our room, knowing somehow that Momentous Events In History were unfolding before our very eyes.
Then we watched one of those “How Quickly Can I Get Myself Sacked?” reality TV shows.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Come On People. Keep Your Friends Close, Your Enemies Won’t Matter In The End. 

Thursday, October 7, 2004

The owners of the Maine Diner are not backwards at coming forwards. The walls are adorned with framed letters from senators and governors thanking them for their good works in the community, and there are countless glowing newspaper articles and reviews to keep them company. They’ve got a pretty good website and there’s a gift shop next door. Marketing wise, they’ve certainly got their shit together, and good for them. I bought a T shirt and took a picture of a funny newspaper stand.

We had breakfast there because we needed to bulk up for the big day ahead. You’ll remember I was apprehensive about driving in Boston. Today we were returning, and our hotel was bang in the middle of town. Nervous? Nah.

We joined Route 95 and I faced up to my demons the way I normally do - by driving a car into them at full pelt.
New Hampshire tapers to the east to give it the tiniest slither of coastline. As we approached the border there were a number of signs updating us on how far we were from the State Liquor Store - visions of excited kids saying "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" - and enticing us to have a dabble on the lottery. How odd. It might as well have read “New Hampshire Welcomes Drunks and Gamblers.”

We scooted past queues of palpitating alcoholics with dollar signs for eyeballs, and faster than you could say it we were back in Massachusetts. Driving into the city was a scream. For all the difference it made, I may as well have just closed my eyes and hoped for the best. Everybody zips along at the same frantic speed, the assumption being that you know where you’re going. I usually get lost driving around Preston, so the omens weren’t good.

Miraculously, we nailed it on the first take. Girlfriend barked out orders - left! hard left! watch out for the… oh… it doesn’t matter, right! - I got lucky and didn’t kill anyone, and we parked up at the hotel and collapsed into laughter. I imagine you get the same kind of high from robbing a bank.
However, we weren’t quite finished with driving yet. Too early to check in, we left our bags with the concierge and headed off on foot to work out the route to the car hire place.
We walked back across the Common, which was really beautiful and had more squirrels than I would ever have thought could exist simultaneously. Then we drove across town - easy! - and dropped off the car in the world’s most labyrinthine and bewildering underground car park.
We left it with a man who said he was an employee of the car hire company and we couldn’t think of a good reason not to believe him, then wandered around for twenty minutes in shadowy uncertainty looking for the office. In turn, the man behind the desk took a further twenty minutes to find us on the computer and after a lot of “How exactly are you spelling that?” we finally handed him the car keys and staggered back to the hotel.

We flopped onto the bed, let out a huge sigh of relief, and then Girlfriend realised she didn’t have her purse. So we asked reception to phone the car hire company, and yes, thankfully, and to our considerable relief, it had been found and handed in by car hire guy #1. So we trooped across town yet again - I think we knew the route pretty well by now - and picked up the purse. So hats off to Dollar Hire in Boston, and their wonderful staff. They got a decent tip for that.

Weeks earlier, Girlfriend had ordered tickets to see raging young Brit rockers “Hope Of The States,” so that’s what we did in the evening. He hopped onto the T (that’s cool Boston speak for subway) and spent a couple of hours wandering around Cambridge, before winding up at T.T The Bear’s Place on Brookline St.
It’s a small venue and I expect it’s had busier nights - there were maybe thirty or forty of us in the audience - but the band were terrific. They make one hell of a big heavy noise, and use some frankly rather disturbing film footage for a backdrop while they’re at it. It includes archive film of what looks like 1950’s military experiments - pilots passing out, starving men struggling to stand up, and so on.
As if in sympathy, it wasn't long before the drummer had to run off to the dressing room to be sick. He made a courageous come back, only to throw up on stage minutes later - a first in my gig attending experience. The rest of the band struggled on, and someone jumped on stage and led the audience in clapping to keep the rhythm going. The singer could only shrug, smile and apologise. We thought it sounded pretty good, hearing these raucous gloomy songs being done acoustically. More power to their elbows for battling on, although it would have been a bonus if they could have done something about the smell.

The taxi driver was a complete maniac. I’ve never felt closer to death. And while it was very interesting to hear about his sister in Leicester and his brother in blah blah blah, I’d have been happier if he’d spent the journey looking at the road ahead and not behind at us. Here’s an artist’s impression.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Murder On The Dance Floor 

Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Kennebunkport is a pretty little town set around a river side harbour. Daub yourself with clotted cream and squint slightly, and you could be in Devon.
It's a place where folk with money to burn and an ‘ahoy there, matey’ inclination can treat themselves to modest mansions on Ocean Avenue and spend their days pottering about on their yachts, enjoying refined - if jolly expensive - peace and quiet.

Imagine how pissed off the residents must have felt when thick as pig dribble George Bush Snr. acquired a summer home in the town. Each time he visits now, half the streets are closed down, the FBI are everywhere and major inconvenience is the order of the day.
Understandably, some say that the Bush’s presence has lowered the tone. Even before Bush Snr. became the world’s most powerful man, the neighbours from hell did little to ingratiate themselves with the locals. For example, here is a 1976 arrest record card for little George W. who in a moment of youthful high spirits, was busted for drunk driving. He was fined $150 and banned for a short while. Kids, eh? He was only 30 at the time.

We sauntered round the town and it’s many gift shops. A constant stream of coaches offloaded their cargo of Far Side cartoon characters - look at this Barbara! More knitwear! - then 30 minutes later whisked them away to Somewhere Elseville, presumably for more of the same.

We popped into the car and whizzed off to Portland.
On the way, in Saco, we saw our first strip mall. Either side of the road were endless fast food restaurants, petrol stations, grubby looking motels, used car lots and so on. They were in competition with each other to see who could erect the biggest sign.
My favourite sign - and now I wish I’d stopped to take a photo - read “Redemption. Tuesday - Friday 9.00 - 5.00.” It may have been outside a church, but on reflection, I’m not so sure. Perhaps it was the local version of the Ministry Of Sound for people who work difficult shifts.

Portland was a bugger of a place to get into. We skirted round the perimeter for some time, stopping now and then to look quizzically at the map, and considered whether to give the whole idea up.
We made it in the end, and it was worth it. It’s a big bustling town, with imposing, gloomy insurance offices and people looking important in suits. We power-strolled along the waterfront, and down cobbled streets lined with restaurants and clubs. It looked like the kind of place that could get pretty rowdy on a Saturday night.

I saw this and thought about Leanne. We found an internet café and checked up on what my cheeky little guest bloggers were up to. We saw Bob Marley’s home, and spent ages in a shop hypnotised by saucepans.

In the evening, we witnessed a murder.
There was a Selma Bouvier look-a-like at the piano who was pretty frightening in her own right. Then she invited a guest vocalist up from the floor, and together they slaughtered Summertime with merciless zeal. I was way too scared to actually point my camera at them, but this little clip captures some of the horror. Squeamish readers should look away now.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Cat's In The Cradle 

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

We studied the note closely, looking for clues. Whoever sent it had been observing our every movement. They knew when we’d arrived, everything we’d eaten and every drink we’d ordered. They even knew how much we’d tipped the waitresses. Fucking creepy.
“Check out this bit,” I said to Girlfriend. “They - whoever the fuck ‘they’ might be - are sorry we’re leaving, but if we’d like to extend our stay…”
I stormed across the room to fetch our suitcases.
“Too freakin’ right they’d like us to extend our stay. Weirdos. Pack up your stuff. Right now. I’m reporting this to reception and then we’re out of here.”

The reason we’d come to New England when we did was to try and catch the foliage at its reddest. There are websites and suchlike dedicated to predicting when and where to see the best foliage, which is great if you can just drop everything and go. If you can’t do the drop and go, you book and hope instead.

It didn’t quite work out for us. There’d been a warm wet summer, hurricanes in the South screwing things up, and this being an election year, higher than normal methane levels in the air. Fall was running late.
We were heading south again, so if it hadn’t happened for us by now, then it wasn’t going to. We saw lots of oranges and yellows and a bit of red too, but not on the scale we’d hoped for. Oh well.

We - me, Girlfriend, and about twenty thousand others - walked the trail at Flume Gorge in the Franconia Notch State Park, paying $8 each for the privilege. A wooden walkway criss-crosses cascading waterfalls in a way that has you checking the whereabouts of your car keys every thirty seconds. Or is that just me? Everybody took photographs that wouldn’t do justice to the subject matter, and I made friends with a ground squirrel called Hank who was stockpiling acorns like it was 1999.

Later we drove past the Old Man of the Mountain, or rather, where the Old Man had been. It was a rocky outcrop which from a certain angle looked like - hey! - an old man. It was New Hampshire’s most famous tourist attraction - it’s only tourist attraction - until it collapsed.
I wouldn’t want to have been the security guard on Old Man watch that night. Imagine having to ring up your boss and break it to him that the State’s crown jewels had somehow, like, you know, disappeared. “I dunno, Boss. I was just reading the paper, looking at the funnies, I went to reach for another donut and BANG! All that’s left now are his eyebrows.

We pushed on through the White Mountains along the Kancamagus Highway. The road twisted and hairpinned and climbed, but as scary mountain passes go, it was pretty tame.
The Americans build their roads too wide. They’ve taken all the joy out of being this close to a hideous death in a crumpled heap of burning Pontiac. Even the moose kept themselves to themselves. Somewhere along the line we crossed into Maine.

In the piano bar of the Kennebunkport Inn, Kennebunkport, there was a middle aged guy with a grey ponytail whose sick idea of a joke was singing the songs of Harry Chapin to a captive audience. Between each interminable tune, he’d reveal amusing pieces of tittle tattle about the life of the great Harry. At considerable length.
“He tells these wonderful stories in his songs. Three minute movies, ladies and gentlemen. Three minute movies.”
So why was it, I wondered, that the way he sung them, each tune lasted ten sodding minutes?

I drank too much and endured a restless night. When sleep finally slumped over me, I dreamed that I was the morning DJ on WOLD (DDDD).

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Road Not Taken 

Monday, October 4, 2004

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood near a house where Robert Frost once lived and where there is now a ‘poetry trail’. Sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could.

To the left, a fallen tree creaked as it leaned precariously against another. If I chose that way and was extremely unlucky, it might crash down at that precise moment, killing me inconveniently.
A fat couple - eating ice creams and not showing the slightest interest in the poem on display - walked straight past and hung a right.

I shall be blogging this with a *sigh* somewhere ages and ages hence: two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one that the fat couple didn’t, and that has made all the difference.

After snooping round the house for a bit, we rode our bikes back to the hotel. We’d already spent the morning on Sugar Hill, which was as knackering to ride up as it was hair raising to whiz down again. I loved it.

That evening in the bar, we chatted with Harry who was enjoying a swift beer while his wife got ready for dinner. Today was their first anniversary. He told us about their wedding in Savannah, and how it was the happiest day of his life. They’d driven here from Atlanta - one hell of a drive, especially considering they both worked for an airline and could, I suggested, have bought discounted flights.
“Nah, we love to travel this way. We’ve got an SUV with a fridge, so we don’t need to make long stops,” he said. “Katie reads me stories from the newspaper while I drive. We’ve got everything we need.”

Meanwhile, Dick the competitive bartender may have met his match with Laura, the feisty Californian.
She was asking him where she could go for a jog in the morning. All his suggestions were rejected as unsuitable.
“I’m Dick, by the way,” he told her.
“I’ll say,” she replied, sharp as a pitchfork.

In the games room Laura held my arm and whispered in my ear “Come on. Let’s whup their asses!”
We were playing doubles. Girlfriend and Dick beat us convincingly.
She said she’d be back after dinner with her parents. I’m not too perceptive in this area, but I think there may have been flirting going on. She had the waitresses passing him notes making jokes about the wine. He went up to their table to demand his belt back. That sort of thing.

We seized our chance to escape for a stroll and some fresh air. We told Dick we may be back for more table tennis but, erm, retired instead.

Some time later, there was a knock at our door.
I looked at Girlfriend, and she at me. We don’t usually get knocks at the door in the night when stopping in hotels. We’re not that kind of bloggers.
It was Dick wanting to know if we were coming out to play again. Laura was back. We politely declined.

Later still, while Girlfriend was asleep, a mysterious shadowy figure slid a note under our door. I stared at it for fifteen minutes in a state of mild alarm, wondering what it might say, or who it could be from.

I’m too ashamed to tell you what I dreamed about.

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