Friday, 8 May 2009

pause for breath

So what with Richard coming down with the Black Death, we had to cancel the Birmingham City Uni gig, as his presence would have been essential. We tried to change the various tickets for the various journeys that would have seen us go to Birmingham, then Bristol, then in Richard's case to Mitteleuropa. And found that the flip side of travelling on the cheap is that you can't change things cheaply.

So we got to Birmingham, then hopped onto a train to the city centre and made our way to the coach station.

"When is the next coach to Bristol?"

"Oh, you've just missed one. There isn't another till 6:30 this evening"

Damn. We sat and conferred. In the background the Tannoy was listing the various departures. We both heard "....for Paignton, calling at Bristol...."

A sharp dash to the coach. I asked the driver, "Can you take us to Bristol?"

"If yeh had a ticket ah could," he said in a very Geordie accent. "But ah'm just about to go. And ah'm no waiting."

Richard put all that rugby training to good use, dashing over to the ticket desk as I stood outside the coach trying not to look reproachful.

We made it, and the driver cheered up no end when we presented him with the tickets. Well, cheerful for a Geordie anyway. He even called me 'love' when he helped get the bag in the hold.

Home again, Richard got on with finding a Richard Substitute for the Friday reading at the Tobacco Factory. His old college friend (Richard seems to have old college friends absolutely everywhere), James Russell, who lives in Bristol, agreed to do it. James has just done a very nice book about Eric Ravilious, one of my painter heroes. And he wrote How To Turn Your Parents Green, which earned him the honour of being described by the Daily Mail as an"eco-terrorist". High praise indeed.

Richard and James confer

So all that was left to do was to drop Richard at his mum's at a secret location in the South of England, and catch up with the paperwork.

Here are some bits and pieces left over from Dublin, which seemed too good to waste.

Saint Stephens Green

Regan at the Winding Stair

...and some choice quotes:

"The aircraft is not due to land until 0740, due to the late arrival of the aircraft"

"Toilets for this flight are two, and they are situated at the rear of the aircraft"

..and my favourite of all the Dublinisms I heard. This is Y, describing a dress with a sort of bustle on it that she saw in a shop and really quite liked: "...with a fecking great bow on the arse... it's the dog's..."


  1. James is exactly what I would expect an eco-terrorist to look like - I bet he can make bread too.

    Ryan air are okay as long as nothing goes wrong. Birmingham coach station must be the dullest place in the universe, last time we had the misfortune to be there the cornish pasties were good, but I'm still waiting for the chips.

    I'll be listening to the BBC to see if there are reports of a chicken pox epidemic between Bristol, Dublin, Birmingham and a secret location in the South of England.

    The pictures are lovely

    Did you have to pay to go to the loo on the plane?

  2. Birmingham coach station had temporarily relocated, so it was very higgledy-piggledy, and could have been a retro nod at Eastern Bloc travel in the 60s. Except that the staff were using english as the language of bamboozlement.

    I took great care to go before I went on, so I didn't find out if you have to pay. I also resisted the range of delicious hot food, and the designer smells endorsed by Kylie Minogue and Posh and Becks. There was a whole load of stuff I also resisted, but I lose count

  3. Dru - I hope the paperback version sells well - it deserves to - I enjoyed it as well as my wife and daughter. Note: I have always been aware, in the background, of RS Thomas - you appear to like him - so, I have bought and read the biography by Byron Rogers - well, what can I say - nothing new - in September we are going to Mid Wales for a few days - no camping - a reconnection exercise - one daughter went to Bangor Uni - she thinks I should explore my Welsh roots from which I am trying to escape - Dru - reading your blog has encouraged me to tentatively reconsider my negative view of Wales and the Welsh.

  4. I hope your reconsidering goes well, Neil. And that the weather holds for you. I got very wet in that middle bit of Wales. I stayed away from parts of Wales for years, but I seem to have exorcised the bad bits of the past now, and have built up a fund of happy experiences with people who are unconnected with that past. It was worth doing, I think.

    Thinking of that and RS, have you read his "Reservoirs"?

  5. Finished Becoming Drusilla today. Quite a few laugh-out-loud places which I didn't note but the next reader (I have several in mind) will likely find them. Totally a wonderful and important book. Not least of the pleasures are your haiku, Dru. Look forward to a collection of your poems some day. Glad your blog is here to provide continuity in various ways. Also glad I had RS Thomas's collection to fall into---deeply, by the very first poem, "Out of the Hills", from the year of my birth (far from Wales).

  6. Sorry, Larry, I didn't spot your post. Thank you, and I am glad you enjoyed the book.