Yes I know I haven’t been updating much, sorry my bad. No real reason other than I couldn’t be arsed. So as it is my first post in a while I’ll made this a nice happy entry.
Taking some owed Holiday I booked the final weekend in April off and went down south to visit my best friend, Katherine. Long term readers of my blog will no doubt be aware of the delectable young lady and be aware that due to distance we don’t tend to see each other in person as it were, in fact had been a little over a year ago since he had last met up. Well this time around we had more than an afternoon of each others company we had a day and a bit and far more planning had gone into the whole affair and it made for a much fuller and more enjoyable affair. After much deliberation as to what we were going to do over the weekend (it would influence my method of transport down to Reading) it was decided we would spend the day at the seaside at Southsea, which was a favourite childhood destination of the young lady. Southsea has something of a resonance with my family a little bit as well, as my father had digs in Southsea when he was studying in Portsmouth University and a good friend of mine lived in Southsea when she first got married. With this in mind I gave her a quick call to see if she still lived down there with the intent of making a visit, turns out she now lives in Salisbury so that ruled that out.
In a move which would no doubt shock Pete, Mary, Philippa and… well just about anyone who I have ever given a lift too, I emptied out the car and hoovered up to make the inside more presentable for the drive to and from Southsea and left a few options for music for the journey with Kat, taking out a lot of my albums out. I did toy with keeping Ornette Coleman’s the Shape of Jazz to Come for an option but I don’t think it would have gone down very well, here is one of the tracks:
I settled on bringing Two of a Kind by Bobby Darin and Johnny Mercer, Water by Gregory Porter (or so I thought) and Are You Experienced by Jimi Hendrix. For the main drive down to Reading I put in the Big Finish audioplay The Highest Science, this is an adaption of Gareth Roberts’ first published Doctor Who book of the same name which was part of Virgin’s Doctor Who- The New Adventures series which had come about due to the cancellation of the TV series at the time. The books were aimed at a more mature audience then the TV Series was (as by that point the majority of the fans were adults) and more or less were exclusively written by fans for fans. The range had its series of ups and downs in terms of quality and, if we are being honest, between being adult orientated in an adult way or in a childish way of being adult (eg. putting lots of swearing, sex, drugs and gore will make it adult). The Highest Science was an early one and was one of the better ones from this period of publication, partially as to me it felt more like a naturally expanded Doctor Who story. Well the novel was about 275 pages long and the audio adaption is split into four 25 minute episodes, so obviously some of the sub plot material had to go and some amusing but not really plot related pieces had to go. It was a good adaption and it was quite fun to hear that most of the really corny lines had been kept in, if there is a complaint it was that veteran actor Tom Bell was wasted voicing the hordes of Chelonian soldiers, why get a veteran actor involved if all you are going to do is modulate his voice so it is unrecognisable as him? He should have been given the role of the primary human villain Shedulkar. My other journey listening included a compilation of Bob Wallis’ Storyville Jazzmen, Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section and Sonny Rollins Way Out West.
The journey to Reading was reasonably uneventful aside from a few delays in traffic on the M6 and on the A34 around Oxford and I arrived at my digs around about 4:30. I remember Katherine had said there was a pub near the Travelodge called “The World Turned Upside Down” but what I hadn’t realised was that to get to the pub from the Travelodge all I had to do was practically role out of bed. I also noticed that the Pub served breakfasts, so for my next visit down to Reading I shall probably decline the Breakfast boxes available at the Travelodge. The boxes are pretty much small on the go breakfasts which I guess do the job but as Mary said in Castleton, if your having breakfast in a hotel you need to have bacon with it. Anyway I settled into my room which was very big and by the way the lay out was designed I’m certain it was a double room where one of the beds had broken and been removed as there was a vast area of free space in the room. I took a power nap for about ten minutes before I unpacked the car, made myself a cup of tea and watched a few episodes of How I Met Your Mother. Come six o’clock I decided to check the pub out and what immediately struck me upon arrival was the very narrow service area for taking drinks and food orders resulting in that very British tradition of standing in a queue. They had an option of three real ales Greene King IPA which these days is just your generic by numbers ale, Wells Bombardier Burning Gold which is one of the nicer brews by one of the national Breweries and Hog’s Back Traditional English Ale, a brew I have seen advertised in both BEER and What’s Brewing but I have had not sampled. One of the amusing things about the ale is the anacronym for the beer (it’s ever so English) and that probably swayed me into trying it, it was a light brown coloured ale but admittedly I think it tasted a little stale and odd. I stepped out into the beer garden as it were and made the most of being in the open, having been cooped in a car for ages and proceed to read a few chapters of The Carter of La Providence, an Inspector Maigret novel by the Flemish author George Simenon. Being versed in a lot of old TV, despite being set in France and populated by French Characters I still mentally visualised Maigret in his TV appearance, that of veteran actor Michael Gambon. The wind picked up a bit too much so I returned to the comfort of the interior where I was greeted by an older guy who it transpires was the local Officer of the Haircut Enforcement division of the Berkshire Police Force… or something like that as he insisted that some chap should be fined to having spiked blonde highlights. Anyway, having not being impressed by the Traditional English Ale I went to the more familiar staple of the Burning Gold which was quite nice, but perhaps not quite right in taste, I read a bit more of my book in the lounge where there were various winos who were looking at it in much the same way one of my Cuban tour guides looked at the Dalek on one of my T-Shirts, clearly having never seen one before. Perhaps they thought my was some bizarre ISIS terrorist weapon or an artefact from the far mystic east, which judging by the IQ available at the table I would probably say to them the mystic east would be Hull. Perhaps I should have taken up the role of fakier and explain how the book imparts wisdom and transports yourself to a place beyond your physical form. After my pint I returned to my room and freshened up, which was trickier then one might imagine as the water pressure was rather low in the shower. Anyone one sorted I got into my togs for the evening and discovered something rather upsetting… I could only just fit into my Blue Pinstripe Suit trousers, it would seem in 9 years my belly has grown somewhat! This was not just the start of my wardrobe malfunction, it would seem that I had packed the only shirt I own for which I need cufflinks! Guess what I did not bring with me… luckily I managed to keep my sleeves under my coat sleeves so it wasn’t a worry. So as 8pm arrived I returned to the Pub and awaited the arrival of my best friend.