Sunday, March 11, 2007

Best In Show 

I was on a course last week.
It was something to do with computers, I think. Concentrating was difficult because the trainer talked exactly like the stumpy one out of Mitchell and Webb, but I’m sure it was IT related, otherwise why had I been sent there?
He spent the first two days explaining where the fire exits were, how to use the coffee machines, what the lunch arrangements were, asking about our journeys in and how those of us staying in hotels liked our rooms, regaling us with amusing anecdotes from his career, and so on. I became convinced that he was stalling, that he’d lost his nerve, but the training began in earnest on Wednesday morning, which only goes to show what I know.

I dined in a different restaurant each night, for obvious reasons, but still managed to attract the unwanted attentions of several predatory waitresses, all mistakenly believing that because I was alone, but for a paperback about tractors, I’d be susceptible to their feminine charms. I could deflect for England.
In one place, where our friend Charlie worked as a student, I drank a margarita the size of a football on her recommendation, and thought of her fondly as I did so. She has told us all about waitresses and their wily ways, so I’m nobody’s fool.

Back in my pitiful hotel room I laid out fresh pants and socks every night, and the telly was only capable of receiving Crufts.

On Friday afternoon, when it was all over, I went to Oxford to visit Joella and her other half M, who was alone in the house and extremely hung over when I arrived.
“Hello, you must be M,” I said, proffering a bottle of something red and quite pricey by my standards. “I’m Tim. I’m from the internet.”
He made some tea and looked like he might throw up over me at any moment.

Later on the three of us went to a hardcore folk club - which I quite enjoyed in an “Isn’t it interesting what some people are into?” kind of way - but Joella and M didn’t, so we nipped out again after half an hour.
M went home to nurse his hangover, leaving me and Joella to continue our “Morse Country” pub crawl, which ended in Tesco at midnight to buy sausages, then we sat up until three drinking vodka and listening to Billy and Kirsty. She went to great lengths to tell me which particular denomination of feminism she subscribes to - Radical Feminism? Political? Deep House Happy Hardcore Feminism? - but now I can’t remember which. She said she used to be quite good at explaining it.

I awoke with a raging “I think I’ll skip breakfast, thanks” headache, then they took me on a whistle stop tour of Oxford’s funky Eastside - kebab shops, sex shops, junkies in churchyards, university rowing clubs beside the Isis (that’s the Thames to you and me), and more litter than I’ve ever seen anywhere in my life. It was great to see them both. They clearly love where they live, and, you know, it’s good to see that, and I’d have liked to stick around longer, but I was keen to get home.

I’d been away for six nights and, judging from the phone calls, emails and texts I’d exchanged with Girlfriend, she seemed to be positively thriving without me. I had to return to Lancashire post-haste to put a stop to it, so went on the M6 toll road and didn’t spare the horses.


I admire a man with gumption and Mike Troubled Diva seems to have it in spades. He’s putting together a blog-book which you can buy in paperback form for money in aid of Red Nose Relief. Check it out here.

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