I woke up screaming the other morning – not in fear and not very loudly but so frustrated that I knew there was no getting back to sleep. It was early enough to hear the binboys doing their stuff but there was nothing for it but to get up, make a cup of tea and read something soothing.
I had a choice and plumped for Queenie Hennessy, more than emotional enough but a work of fiction and I wasn’t feeling quite strong enough for the mind-boggling real-life adventures of Billy Walters, a gambler’s tale that is not for the faint-hearted; large lumps of it aren’t for the mathematically challenged either but this reader, clueless as she is, is ploughing on regardless. Both books are cracking reads.
Queenie did the job and took me into another world, calming me down. The night before, channel hopping, I’d come across The Great Climate Fight on Channel 4 (well 4 +1), presented by the formidable trio of Mary Portas, Kevin McCloud and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. They, like me, are spitting mad at our refusal to do every last thing we can to change our planet-destroying habits, wilfully ignoring all the advances in technology that make improvements possible – and have done for many years now.
Our housing stock is a disgrace – Kevin is the man for this – but it doesn’t have to be and it was the vision of all the same old, same old new builds being thrown up all around Lichfield that caused my early-morning meltdown. If I hadn’t been feeling a bit delicate after a visit to the osteopath, I’d have tramped over to the development and taken a photo but you’ll probably get the picture anyway.
Kevin visited a lovely, energy efficient batch of new homes in Lancaster, to show what can be done and Mary got herself a red coach and a driver and parked it outside the Treasury. She took up her little megaphone to try and tempt Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, who’d been ignoring her emails, to meet her to discuss the matter of fossil fuels and the like. He didn’t appear but she caused a stir.Government ministers did their level best to avoid our intrepid trio, though Michael Gove did agree to visit Lancaster with Kevin, then, what do you know, he couldn’t find a slot in his diary…Obfuscation at every turn, stringing us along, hoping we’ll soon be too cold to use our keyboards and will be too busy surviving to think about thriving. You wouldn’t believe these people have children and grandchildren and should be doing everything they can to save the planet for them.
Well, there’ll be an election soon enough…In the meantime, just what should I be replacing the gas boiler with? And did I really grow up without radiators? Where has that hardiness gone just when it’s needed!
Talking of string, that was the comp for us frolickers last Friday. We each got given a piece of string, how long depended on our handicap, the higher the longer, so you can imagine the tangled mess some of us got into. The idea is to use your string to get out of trouble, a bunker, say or a clump of heather or to hole a tricky putt. You cut off the length as required until you run out of string.
For once I managed the intricacies well-nigh impeccably, putted the lights out and racked up 18 points in the 7 holes, with five proper pars, two of them string-assisted and two bogeys. It’s a bit of a faff, not least because it takes two to stretch out the string and work out where to cut it – there were lots of cries of “who’s got the scissors?” Then you have to remember which string is still in play and which is out of action. A bit of a miracle we made it in in daylight; no wonder the two-ball behind us took themselves off who knows where.
The whole point is that the string is your get-out-of-jail free card but for some unfathomable reason and to general astonishment our esteemed organiser, who sets the rules, and her group added a shot to their score every time they used a bit of cord. Duh. At least she had the grace not to declare the comp null and void.
That evening, when I was slobbing out at home in front of Father Brown and Gogglebox, a load of the more intrepid members were back out on the course for a few holes of floodlit golf. They all raved about it so much – despite a certain amount of disorientation (hip flasks were spotted apparently) – that I’m putting my name down next time; it sounded like a lot of fun.
I forget to tell you that the other week at bridge I called, with a lot of help from our resident guru, a grand slam, shock, horror. I didn’t make it – but I should have. It all came down to the last two cards and muggins (whose brain cell failed her at the critical moment) nearly made the right choice but prevaricated (knowing that the others at the table knew what I should be doing) and as so often got her 50-50 chance wrong. I chose the six of diamonds and the six of hearts was a master. Bugger. That could be my one and only chance.
Billy Walters would be shaking his head in disbelief. You’re kidding me. You weren’t playing for money? And you can’t count!