Well, there’s nothing like a couple of spats to really put a gloss on the Bank Holiday weekend. And mine has been fairly glossy. Ahem.
Saturday saw the publication do of this book I used to research and write for, and they’d hired out a barge to do a cruise along the Regent's Canal from Camden Lock to Little Venice (and back). Seeing as I’d never had the opportunity to do this before (or, rather, hadn’t taken said opportunity), together with the offer of free booze and food, it seemed worth a shot. What I hadn’t counted on though was that none of the "decent sorts" from the book attended - all the people who I’d ever built up any rapport with were conspicuous in their absence - and in their place I was left with those who had chosen to attend: a selection of the loud and proud blazer-wearing Oxbridge nerdy types, or the extremely cocky sneering Camford pratty types. How best to describe being stuck on a barge with these people for 2 hours? Well, to help you get a feel, consider Noreen of Emerald Bile's account of her time at Cambridge…: "a festival of smug, quipping, irritating little arseholes wearing tweed and talking about port. Some of the students there were such cunts that they would always wear their college gowns, even if all they were doing was queuing for a roll outside the bakers". Quite.
The over-earnest nerds I can ignore. You listen to them having their conversations about Bavarian architecture, Das Judenthum in der Musik, Tiepolo’s Venetian murals (all fascinating topics I’m sure, but the discussions are poorly disguised desperate attempts at intellectual one-up-manship ["Look what I learnt to parrot from reading the Encyclopedia!"] rather than anything to do with a meeting of minds) and think, "Hmmm yes. Tragic. I am glad I am not you" (my tongue-in-cheek "Yes yes, but pray tell, what did you fine people make of Itzhak Perlman's slaughter of Ralph Vaughan Williams' 'The Lark Ascending?'" met with satisfying is-he-taking-the-piss? paranoia), but cast an ear over to the other lot, and you start hearing the sort of bigoted self-important, self-satisfied, small-minded and downright nasty drivel stereotype leads you to expect of these over-privileged toff inbreeds. And it still comes as an unwelcome surprise. Well, I pursed my lips, cracked into the Stellas and tried my best to enjoy the scenery.
Two hours later and much free, yet reassuringly expensive, beer later, we found ourselves off the boat and in the pub. And the "rah rah"-ing was continuing and, dare I say it, moving up a gear. As was my fuzzy headedness. To cut a long story short, I sunk to their level and became drawn into debate with a couple of these Hoorays, who seemed appalled I couldn’t get my head round their "Born-To-Rule" philosophies. Eventually I decided that this was a monumental waste of all of our time, and my Saturday would be spent better elsewhere. I like to think I made quite a dignified yet dramatic entrance. I’m rather afraid though that I might have just branded them "Yous prentencicicious bunge of fuginge tossers", accidently knocked over my chair and flounced off. The fact that I woke up some three hours later lying on my sofa with excruciating pins and needles and no memory of my journey home makes this a distinct possibility. Good old Stella.
Next day, I was coming out of my flat when a Lynne pounced, telling me she wanted her strimmer back. A combination of cowardice, lack of sleep and after-effects from a party the night before meant I didn’t want to deal with the whole "Lynne, I’m afraid to tell you your strimmer is dead" thing, so just nodded and said it’d bring it round later. After a late and long breakfast spent in denial, I realised that it looked like I’d need to buy her a new one. Having torn up to Highgate to no avail and then along Holloway Road, I eventually purchased a new one, just in the nick of time. Blasted Sunday opening hours nearly did for me. Estimated value of Lynne’s old strimmer (even before it broke): £6.49. Cost to me of replacement: £38. She’s getting herself a good deal, right?
I was feeling like crap when I took it over, and was expecting a bit of an ear bashing. But as the bitching commenced, something snapped and the past year of hearing her moan and whine non-stop about everything and nothing just got on top of me. Especially when she told me that she didn’t want the new strimmer I’d bought her, she wanted her old one back. Bear in mind, this woman doesn’t actually have any grass to strim. Shouting matches in the street are so uncouth, but sometimes you've just gotta.
"You’ve broken my strimmer Huw, and that’s just not on. I lent that to you in good faith. You’ve abused my trust and you’ve got to get it fixed."
"Look Lynne," I said tersely, "I didn’t break your bloody strimmer. It broke. Things BREAK."
"Things don’t just break…"
"Things BREAK. Especially cheap rubbish lumps of 20-year old plastic."
"It’s not rubbish, it’s a Black and Decker!" she squawked, as if Black and Decker are suddenly the Heckler and Koch of tool manufacture.
"Look. It’s broken. And I certainly don’t know how to fix it, and I’m not going to."
"Well, you have to replace it then!" she sniffed.
"And what in the Lord’s name of fuckery does this fucker look like?" I yelled, brandishing the bright yellow strimmer in my hands. "A space hopper?" [no, I don’t know why I said space hopper either]
"Well, that’s neither here nor there. The point here is that I lent you something and you’ve broken it. When my friends lend me DVDs, if one was to break then I would make sure…"
"Bloody hell Lynne! I’m not here to talk about your old women’s DVD swapping club! I’ve come to tell you that your strimmer is broken, and that I’ve bought this brand new one as a replacement!"
"But you’ve got to get my one fixed!"
"Well, ok. I’ll try. But I can’t guarantee it can be fixed."
"Then you have to replace it."
"For fucks sake…!"
"I lent you that on the grounds that it wouldn’t come back broken, and you’ve clearly not treated it properly."
"No, you lent me it on the grounds that you couldn’t bear to see me with an untidy garden, you nosey busybody. Look, do you want this one or what? Great. Enjoy it."
As I stormed back to my flat she couldn’t resist calling out after me, and I couldn’t resist interrupting her.
"You need to learn a few things to about treating other people’s…"
"Yeah, and you need to learn to fuck right off."
Mother Huw was visiting, and heard the hullabaloo and came out to investigate, just in time to see me sling my gracious parting shot over my shoulder. Classy. She then went over to broker a peace deal. I don’t know what was said, but I know who my money was on.
She later came back and ominously said "You won’t get no more trouble off her, see?"
Good old ma, fighting my battles for me.
Well, that’s Wales done for then.
Related tenuously, I am currently being earwormed by Your Missus Is A Nutter, the latest offering from Wales' favourite tracksuited collective. Crank up your speakers and watch the glorious video here. Thanks are due to Chris Cope for the heads up.
4 weeks ago