Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas 2012

Run out of Nailsea views. Here is the Avon Gorge.
It's been a busy, not interesting, year. Welcome exaggeration, hyperbole and narrative devices to make us sound cool.

'Has anyone seen my talent?' asks Toby in the West Wing, struggling with a presidential address. He should try a 28 year run of Christmas letters. Comments from the focus groups include, 'Loads of this is fine but I think the bits about the house is a bit 'old people with not much to say??!!!'' Ouch.

We saw the Olympics. And the Paralympics. All of it. Every sport. Minority or not. The sofa is worn out. We didn't get any tickets (not disappointed, we didn't apply for any) so celebrated a great event by sitting on our arses for hours and drinking.

Last year we were told that the Diocesan Surveyor was going to come and do a quinquennial. He also agreed to do the house while he was here (very specialised joke - may get 3 laughs per 200 readers). He agreed that the leaning wall of Vynes Way needed to be removed and rebuilt. Hail Dan and Ben the builders (Bob was not available) who dug through a lot of clay and rubble (or our lawn, as we like to call it) and put it all back in exactly the same way except they moved the mint which now grows through the grass and provides for a fragrant mow.

That tricky flush mechanism in the guest toilet was replaced at last. Sadly it was replaced by one with an even more complex knack to it. Glenn the postman stopped calling for a pee because it was embarrassing to admit he couldn't work it. The flush not his... never mind.

Returning from holiday to stains on the ceiling we discovered the tank had overflowed. The overflow did not go into the outside world but the roof space of the extension. Not a thorough enough quinquennial we would say except that Diocesan Surveyors might read this.

The Old Rectory, a dream we followed as a church, was purchased and renovated due to the generosity of church members (£750k raised or pledged). It became Trinity House. It is now offices, flats bringing in rent, a youthspace and some great meeting rooms. The Archdeacon opened it in March. He got its name wrong but it was raining heavily at the time.

We decided to earmark one free evening a week apart from days off. We have managed this pretty rigidly for a year and apart from the bar bill at the pub it has been excellent. Sometimes we find ourselves both doing emails so mobiles may have to be banned.

The follow up to Steve's book Mustard Seed Shavings (available online, google it, £6.99) called God's Church My Place (same price) came out in April to almost no acclaim, reviews or publicity. Two book launches were attended by very few people although a mention here to old friends Jane and Graham for driving from Leamington to Bath just to be there (and to have a day in Bath, but that's beside the point).

Little Dragon, Stewart Lee, Dara O'Briain, open-air Macbeth (where the going was soft) Vintage Trouble and the Easy Star All Stars all entertained us. Discovering the Fleece at Bristol (not in an explorer type way, it was there all along but we hadn't been) was exciting and we will be there a lot. Stewart Lee is the finest entertainer working the circuit today but don't go if you are easily offended, like jokes to tickle your ribs and expect comedians to largely make you laugh. It is far more complicated than that. Read his book first. Lee's opening line was that the Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik is a big fan of Jeremy Clarkson and Top Gear. This was followed by a riff on the many horrible ways Lee would like (only joking) Clarkson to die or be maimed. Don't go and see him until you understand why this is amusing. May tackle Robin Ince next year.

Jono pitched up to do an intern year as a church musician and worship leader. He is annoyingly talented, good with people, friendly, polite and quite young. A sort of antiSteve.

Angharad's wedding to Will Kerr was fun. Angharad is Steve's od-daughter (missing g deliberate) and had the kindness to make him feel old by being the first second generation wedding he got to do. He married her parents a couple of decades back. Steve's wedding joke that Angharad was now God's little A. Kerr still has the tumbleweed blowing though it even now, three months on.

After that we did a weird thing (we don't think it's odd but apparently others do) of taking a holiday 30 miles up the road. All we wanted was not to be in and to have a nice cottage where we could read and walk a bit. Why go miles away? We celebrated by being hit in the rear by a truck. After all these years Liz has never been involved in an accident whilst driving. Although we were stationery at traffic lights when hit and sitting in Liz's car the important information is that she was in the passenger seat. Steve chalks up another accident, a stat he added to later in the year by trying to sail his car up a Somerset river and failing rather spectacularly. Only compensation was two weeks in a Q3, Audi's policy being to give you a better courtesy car than the one you lose. Had fun with an electric handbrake and hill starts; another thing with a knack to it - we should introduce it to the the guest loo.

Liz did attempt to have an accident by forgetting she had an automatic after a few days in a manual while her rear was being fixed (don't titter). She screamed as she almost put her husband through the windscreen. She screamed. She did. Seat belts didn't lock; airbags didn't bag. Not even a mini-adventure. Husband now deafer.

Thousands of housemartins chose to meet for chat before leaving the country at Lee Abbey Conference Centre while we were there for the weekend. Our window sill was a bit noisy and our ensuite the best place from which to take pictures. And that is why there were so many people coming out of our bedroom, your honour.

Being parents of the bassist in Black Maple and the producer of whatever Ben's latest incarnation is actually called, try Lakumer but we may be wrong and making the sort of embarrassing mistake old people do, has made our music careers vicarious. But we are damn proud as they are our retirement plan.

Lee Abbey bathroom window-sill

Listen to them at:


Since they both live in London-on-the-wold we pop down occasionally, firstly to see them, secondly to do something cultural (went to the V&A last month) and thirdly to experience the joy of being customers of First Great Western whose refund hotline is now on speed dial.

West Brom sixth in the Premiership. No. Must have the table upside down. We watched the European Football Championships, mainly in bars in Gozo, where the friendly locals and warm climate take the edge off a penalty shoot-out defeat.

Many love greetings wishes blessings peaceful happy tidings and that.