Driving lessons

To my knowledge, the first time that Tristan got behind the wheel of a car was in Yorkshire.

He drove it straight through a hedge, over the edge of a three foot drop and onto an ornamental lawn. He and Geoff then panicked and attempted to improvise a ramp back out of the lawn using huge great railway sleepers somehow scavenged from the local farm store. Not being in the best state of mind he dropped one on his foot. Heavy fuckers covered in tar and filth. He took a big chunk out of his foot which complicated to blood poisoning that thankfully responded to antibiotics. They got the car out of the lawn using the sleepers propped on the wall. “Nobody will EVER know,” they thought.

They then discovered the next day that they could have just kept going and there would’ve been a gate to escape from. That was fifteen years ago. He had been pumping the clutch as if it was the brake. “I did quite an impressive figure of eight on that lawn,” he tells me with what could almost be pride. “The whole car immediately started stinking of fish. The next day we went over the lawn and tried to put the divots back … They didn’t have the actors back to stay the next year.”

Up until July this year he’s barely driven since. I’ve been the guiding light on this journey towards conduisance. God help us all. Today I took him on an extended lesson, broken up into segments.

“You made this,” he tells me at one point, after a good run of controlled driving. “There’s a long way to go yet,” I reminded him. Half an hour later he was stalling repeatedly while a police car with sirens on farted angrily at him at a turning and his usually calm instructor was growling “just fucking give it some welly” and encouraging him to over-rev in order to guarantee not stalling, which is the sort of behaviour that drove him through a hedge .

On balance though my unusual late starting pupil is beginning to make sense of things. He’s driven too much with me when I’m not teaching so will occasionally grumble eloquent sweary insults at other road users – a habit I’m trying to limit. He also has a tendency to drift over the speed limit which makes me a little nervous of cameras. But I can sense the shift from intellectual to instinctive process. It’ll be a long long time yet. But without my own set of pedals I rarely felt worried and never felt actively unsafe today.

It’s funny to think actively about all the bits and bobs involved in driving a car. The buttons you need to push without looking in order to blow air or open windows or adjust light or clean windows. All that fiddle with your left foot on the clutch that most Americans have never encountered. Feeding the wheel, observations, indicators, blind spots, handbrake. Time at the wheel has made it an embedded process for me that I’m having to pull out and examine in order to teach it. It’ll make me safer I expect, this active thinking about how to communicate the nuts and bolts. It’s always worth looking closely at the things we do without thinking.

Meanwhile it’s a pleasant enough way to pass the time, and I stopped to see my brother and spend some time with his family.

Now I’m getting a beautiful meal cooked for my efforts – one of my favourite Yorkshire things – a Barnsley chop. Those long summers in Yorkshire will stay with me in various ways it seems.

Books vs Juice

I’m sitting in The Sun Inn, Barnes on my own in the corner with a bottle of Big Drop Alcohol Free IPA. I’m going to stay off the sauce for a while this time, until I start to forget I’m doing it. Right now I’m dreaming of wine because I can’t have any. Until that sort of thing stops it’s worth drawing that line. It doesn’t prevent me from going to the pub on my own on a Wednesday night to drink a placeebeer in company but separate. I occasionally take great pleasure in sitting on my own in a public place. But we all sit so far away from one another nowadays.

Last night as I was getting ready to settle down I realised that there are no books in my friend’s flat. No books! She must have a Kindle. I couldn’t really understand a flat with no books. Confused, I walked from room to room a few times believing somehow that a shelf would magically appear loaded with Murakami, or Cromwell or something. Coffee table books or a pile of Reader’s Digest. Loo books even… I needed something to wind me down towards sleep. I hypnotise myself to sleep by moving my eyes quickly from left to right and back across a page.

I finally resorted to a Juicing Recipe book that my friend uses as a mousemat. I read the introduction and then got stuck into the recipes. That’s how desperate things were. It was godawful prose full of unconsidered wordruns, superlatives and forever the adjectives and adverbs you expect. Most of the book was ghost written around her recipes, but the recipe constructor – a healthy looking photogenic person – had clearly insisted on writing the intro themselves. Now I know a little more about amino acids and digestion from the point of view of somebody who’s selling something.

And I’m annoyed with myself for forgetting that I’ve got two books on the back seat of my car that are both so much better than the jarring words my eyes were dragging themselves over in the closing minutes of my waketime. I could’ve got some literature out of the car in no time. Ach well.

I have benefitted from learning about making juice.

Gordon the barman just told me that my bottle of alcohol free beer is over five quid, which is daylight robbery. If I could just munge up a load of carroty appleginger juiciness like Simon’s stuff the other day then I wouldn’t have had to leave the flat to satisfy my craving for sugary liquid.

Being here is part of the pleasure too though. It’s old school. Stripped rinsed out wooden floors, fairy lights, framed cigarette cards and photographs of slightly famous humans who once existed in this area. Kurt Schwitters, anyone? He lived at 39 Westmoreland Road. He’s on the wall to my left. Maybe he bought a round once.

Closing time at the pub. I’ve had one too many of these expensive booze free beers. Where’s Kurt when you need him? I’m going to stumble sober around the duckpond and take in the night air a bit before going back to a flat that now has two actual books in it, plus an annoying juicing manual. I’ll finish one book, move to the next, and return the juicing manual to its rightful place as a mousemat.

Fish supper

For anyone who might have started thinking of my daily witterings as episodic narrative I am honourbound to tell you that Kitcat emerged safe and satisfied from A&E in very good time. She had a doctor who told her that on no circumstances should the stitch be pulled out. He sterilised it and cut it off at the head, letting the rest just suck gently back in. It will quietly do the job of sitting in her leg pretending like it’s still holding her skin graft together now. Maybe the tectonic movement of her body will eventually push a bit more to the surface in another two decades. But once the hole is closed hopefully there’ll be no more trouble. The only other option would’ve been reopening her leg which is to be avoided at all costs really as it’d be horrible for something so minor. I’m glad it was dealt with quickly before any infection. Hopefully that’s that.

Once we made peace with A&E being the only way, it was a relatively quick experience. Glad it’s still working, the old NHS, propped up by the pain and passion of too many underpaid wonders, limping towards Trump.

Then I went up to Barnes. I’m looking after my friend’s flat overlooking the duck pond. A little further Southwest, and the local Londis has truffle crisps by the counter, a wide selection of different types of liver pate, and gigantic glass bottles of ginger Kombucha next to cucumber shots and craft beers in the fridge. It’s another world down here. Happy looking people in clothing I’m probably supposed to recognise push around the correct number of children in buggies worth more than my little Nissan. Occasionally they stop at Londis for raw superfood balls and matcha. This is Londis! Anywhere else you go to Londis for Fray Bentos and they charge you for using your card and glare at you balefully throughout the exchange. It’s so very middle class here.

Not that I can talk. I’m at Rick Stein’s. “Do you always come on your own?” asks the maitre d’hotel, proving his worth with just 7 words. I came last week and had the cheapest things on the menu. This time I’m back for the second cheapest. I might even do it once more next week. Being alcohol free has its advantages. I’d normally end up spending more than I’m paying for the whole meal on a single glass of red.

August is always the slowest month unless you’re at Edinburgh. But you often pick up a little commercial here or a spot of telly there. I’m really hoping that things start to roll in soon to help support this expensive fish habit I appear to be developing.

Note the weird plastic bag. All the cutlery comes sealed in one of them. Another layer of misery for the unfortunates who are in the kitchen somewhere polishing them all.


A&E

It’s raining and I’m outside A&E at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Kitcat is in triage.

18 years ago she had a car crash and needed extensive skin grafting in her leg. Last night, in the bath, she got the tweezers into what she thought was a septic hair, and pulled out about an inch of plastic stitch that has evidently been in her leg for all that time. Problem is that was just the top of it. It’s a very long length and it goes deep into her body. She pulled out the head but the tail is profoundly buried and knotted. It was probably supposed to be one of the ones that dissolves, but somebody in a Houston surgery 18 years ago fucked up.

She stopped pulling it when she felt pain. The grafted skin started hemming as if she was pulling a string on a blind. She showed it to me this morning, this length of pale plastic sticking out of a hole in her leg like an impossibly durable stringworm, connected to a long scar now slightly rucked up.

It’s nothing to panic about yet, but it needs fixing, and I’d have a speedy heartbeat if it was my leg.

She lives with me. I have a car. There’s no work. What else am I gonna do with my day?

Today has been about trying to get somebody to look at this and acknowledge that this isn’t “help me mummy I got an owie leg.” Somebody who can help solve it before it complicates into something much worse than a hole and some plastic.

We tried 111. They took all the information you can possibly imagine and then some more before even asking what the problem was. It was a profoundly uninspiring experience which ended with them arranging for a doctor to ring her. The doctor duly rang and told her she had an appointment at the urgent care at St Mary’s Paddington. Result! Until St Mary’s Paddington rang to say that she couldn’t have an appointment until she’d been referred and that apparently “the best thing to do is to call 111”. Hmmm.

So I got her into the car. We drove to my GP which is nearby. They couldn’t do anything. We drove to her own GP a bit further away and she rolled in there with more nervous energy than I’ve ever seen and roundly insulted all the receptionists.

The eventual result was a call from her GP to tell her she had to go to A&E. So we went to A&E. She didn’t want to wait inside so she went outside to phone her mother. I waited in the corner knowing she’d miss her call when it came. She missed her call when it came.

I rang her mobile until she picked up and she got through the door before they took her off the list and we had to start again.

The thing is, it’s minor but it can’t be ignored. She’s got plastic sticking out of a hole in her leg, connected to a terrible old injury where there’s been a history of pain through reflex sympathetic dystrophy. But in these times of Covid with the shameful underfunding of an NHS being put out to pasture by the giant selfish children in parliament, it’s harder than ever to get the little things dealt with. “Are you in the most pain you can imagine anyone ever to have been in throughout the history of time? Is there blood gushing like fountains from your eyes and ears? Are you unable to think or speak except for to answer these endless questions to which the answer always has to be yes or we will ignore you forever?” She’s got plastic sticking out of a hole in her leg. It’s not infected yet but it will be. And now it’s come to the surface it isn’t magically going to go away.

So she’s in triage and chances are afterwards she’ll be sitting in A&E for a few hours which isn’t going to be fun for anybody, but hopefully will lead to an appointment with the plastics clinic who can just … well hopefully they’ll be able to do something about it. Or she’s got a little pull tag in her leg forever. She could put a little tattoo above it “Yank this and I’ll scream!”

If I were her I’d be tempted to just cut the head off it and then see what happens. But there’s a psychological cost once you know you’ve got a foreign body in your flesh, even if it’s been there for 18 years with no consequence. Besides, now it’s seen the world I’d be scared it could take an infection back deep into my leg after its little holiday. I’m not going to advise doing it. Not while we still have the struggling jittering passionate wonderful remains of what was once a rare unselfish health thing in this secretly nasty world.

So I’m writing this outside the front of the hospital, earning some good flatmate points as I wait to see what might be possible for her in what’s left of our poor old NHS.

Hilly stroll

“The kids have started calling me Juicy Simon,” announces Juicy Simon. “I used to be bald angry Simon. Now I’m Juicy Simon. It’s an upgrade.”

He’s given us a bottle of apple juice each. Pasteurised. “Come back later and I’ll have the fresh stuff juiced up.”

We are walking in tame woodland. Juicy Simon is installed at the bottom of an incline with all his kit. His apples are all scrumped which basically means he’s nicked them, although in this hipster culture we can go with saying he’s foraged them. Still, it’s his labour to find them, his labour to juice and package them, and pretty costly in terms of energy to keep up the constant monologue with which he regales us in his presence. He is definitely juicy. He’s also pretty angry. And he’s bald. I resolve to buy some of his juice when we get back down to pay for the entertainment.

We walk up an incline. The brambles are ripe early and the birds and tourists haven’t caught on. We should tell Juicy Simon, so he can start a sideline with blackberry jam. We grab blackberries and get sticky fingers. We stalk domestic animals. We are full of the joys of late summer.

I have no idea where I am but it’s near The University of Sussex and the Football Stadium. Attractive woodland with some old growth, and I’m scanning the trees for mushrooms. Patches of green pasture where I can imagine clutches of horse mushrooms or parasols in a month or so. I was hoping for some luck today in the old mushroom stakes, but the bounty was not to be found despite a long heatwave followed by rain. A bit early in the season yet I guess.

Just as I’m starting to relax, Basil the schnauzer comes flying at me all ears and snout hungry for blood. He’s all mouth and no trousers though, gumming the back of my calf while his embarrassed owners try to discourage him, as concerned for my reaction as they are for my safety. I’m relieved his teeth didn’t get involved as he was talking a good game. Glad to still have my left calf intact, we find a small calm group of totally indifferent horses standing in the shade. It’s not as hot as hot as it has been but it’s still pretty muggy. The horses are conserving energy. They give fewer fucks than any horse I’ve ever met. Still they make me want to get back up in the saddle. There’s another lovely money sink, but one which can pay for itself down the line with little one line parts in historic dramas. If the industry ever opens up again…

The fog is down today in Sussex, perhaps as some sort of statement of intent from the weather gods. “No sunshine for a bit. Some damp for the plants.”Not the best timing as far as my friend Helen is concerned, as she’s running a retreat in the woods this weekend. Nobody’s going to get heatstroke I guess. That can only be a good thing.This is her first retreat like this and it’s something of a proof of concept. I did a reading for it and the cards said that it was a great idea long term even if short term there might be teething problems. Vague as ever, but that’s Tarot for you.Being me I made myself available to troubleshoot and ended up rolling out of bed at 5am to pick the chef up from Kingston and drive her down. I’m very curious about the whole procedure as I think there are all sorts of possibilities and I might well be trying to make something lovely in the winter in the same patch of woodland. I will get my petrol back and maybe something for my time. And now I’m down in Sussex, so I’ll head to Brighton for the evening and look at the sea.I’ve never met the chef before but driving with her just now we found so many points of contact. She used to practice the same form of Buddhism I practice but sadly got pissed off with the people. We had a lot to talk about in terms of shared understandings of how to conduct yourself positively in this world we’re stuck in, with the other beings that are stuck alongside us.


Ahhh Brighton. I’ve been listening to them valiantly trying to keep the cricket commentary going despite the fact that bad light has meant no play at all yet today. That’s a very particular skill expected of various ex players – to broadcast continuously for the whole day while there is literally no sport happening to talk about. You get to know the broadcasters pretty well after a while. Good old Blowers the ornithologist with a poetic bent, Boycott buoyed up with his own importance grinding his axe, and now Aggers getting distracted about anything and everything and managing to keep the conversation going within it. He hasn’t found his groove yet today – he’s mostly involved in an extended winge about how can it be possible despite all the technology at our disposal that we can lose an entire day of sport because it’s gloomy in Southampton. There’s a man whose job it is to assess if there’s enough light for it to be safe, and he’s the one who gets sued if somebody gets hurt so he’s erring on the side of caution. I’ve given up for the day. I reckon this whole test can be sacrificed to the weather gods and I’ll switch out my interest and get on with the business of being in Brighton.

Contact

There is often a big difference between the day I had planned and the day I achieve. A bit like the way this year has been for most of us.

Driving across town to feed the snake I found myself thinking how unusual this all is. Of course it is. But we are getting used to it now so it’s worth repeating.

 

This pandemic will give us language and behaviour for generations. Unusual things have become usual. Nobody thinks it strange to stand at the bus stop in a mask. I often see people driving in otherwise empty cars but still wearing one. In the pet shop today a friendly guy was discombobulated by my “Free Hugs” T-Shirt. “That makes me feel sad and weird and I think it’s funny,” he said, a measured distance from me, happysad. “I wear it because I’m in mourning,” I replied. “I print silk screens. I’m gonna make myself one.”

When we meet somebody new a bristle of energy takes place in the dead space between us, as happened with that lovely pet shop guy. He didn’t get his free hug though. We created a ball of energy between us instead.

This always happens anyway, but now we can’t try to redirect or crush it with a handshake or a hug. So we stand a few feet from one another and look and talk, and hold the ball between us for as long as we choose.

It’s gonna be a really useful acting note. Inexperienced stage actors usually want to grab each other, which shuts down sightlines and dissipates the potential. The director spends ages trying to teach them to electrify the space between them and not just go in with the thumbs right away. We all got bruises from fingers in early jobs. With the memory of this pandemic we’ve got a universally understood reference point that helps people not get grabby. “Just pretend it’s Corona and you’re about to visit your aging aunt. You really want to touch him but you mustn’t. Let that conflict play out energetically in the space between you.”

I’m reading of plans to open the theatres soon even as the borders shut down harder. There’ll be no more daytrips to Paris with two weeks quarantine on either side. And many of the pantomimes aren’t going ahead for those of us who are trapped in the UK. We are going to lose some theatres, no doubt about it. But perhaps with care the Christmas season will work…

I think this’ll change the way people get sick. We are all going to be a lot more Japanese, probably for the rest of our life. Masks when you’re sniffly, bowing at the start of the meeting instead of handshakes. Distance. I’m sad about it as there’s terrific power in touch.

I went and let Hex clamber on me for a while as he’s been my source of physical contact through the worst of this lockdown. There’s even an energy of sorts between us. He feels gentle and stupid and hungry and ancient.

I didn’t do any of the admin I had planned. Instead I tried to clean a load of smoke damaged busts in the bath…

Blocks of text and counters

I write this blog on WordPress every day. I pay for hosting every year. Quite a lot of money, especially since I’ve switched advertising off.

From time to time WordPress reminds me that I’m paying too much for what I get.

Their latest game is to force me into a new software layout, designed to impose a way of thinking-about-writing that has been dreamt up by sweaty dumb moneydiots around a table. Nothing is allowed to be simple it seems for these varnished turds. The world of nonsense loves to use the word “block”. Blockchain, cockblock, roadblock. Now we are all expected to think that we are “making blocks” of text, instead of just writing stuff down.

This new blocktextchainword bollocks will end up being familiar and intuitive eventually no doubt even if I resent being forced to learn it. But they’ve removed the fecking word counter on my mobile version. Man it’s got me riled. If I want to know how close I am to my 500 word minimum I now have to copy the text and paste it into a piece of software that counts the words. I haven’t even got one installed on this phone.

Hatred of change. There’s the unhelpful thing involved in my annoyance. I have to police myself for it. Am I just sending angry tweets to WordPress because they changed something and I hate change?


OH MY GOD – no I’m not…

WordPress you unethical bunch of total wankers.

Right.

So.

Yeah so I can get a word count plugin.

The word count plugin cannot be installed unless I upgrade to WordPress business plan.

WordPress business plan will cost me $209 per year.

Oh God you filth.

Welcome to the beginning of operation “get out from under WordPress”. I’ve said it before but then I managed to roll back the software to the previous version thus delaying the inevitable. This time doing that no longer seems to be an option.

Escaping WordPress might take some time.

For now I can copy and paste to the delights of wordcounter.net until I can find a way to port all my previous posts plus subscribers and so forth to the website I’ve been studiously paying for and not using for the best part of a decade. Probably a good catalyst anyway. I’ve always thought I should make some use of that website.

As ever when I hit an obstacle like this I try to persuade myself that it’s nice to have to learn a new skill, and to an extent that’s still true. But I resent it. Do better, WordPress. I hope I’ve got this wrong, but I don’t think I do.

One person losing faith in a multimillion dollar company because they make a cynical and pointless adjustment to a service that he’s already sunk hundreds of dollars into…? They’re not going to run to keep me, hat in hand. They aren’t gonna break a sweat. Basically they aren’t gonna notice and if they do they aren’t gonna care. They’ve already had plenty of my money. That’s all they came for.

So no, on second thoughts I don’t think this late night hit of rage is just because they changed my toy. It’s easy to find yourself doing that though – kicking against something new just because it’s new. Often change is for the best. It keeps us alive and guessing – a stagnant pond is death. I can even roll with the extra work of copying and pasting into a wordcounter every few minutes. I’m pretty good at estimating 500 words by now too. Might be positive to stop numbers getting in the way of words when I’m writing. The majority of these are me wringing out my brain like a sponge. Numbers ask for a different part of that brain.

If my assessment of the thinking behind losing the wordcounter on mobile is right and I can’t get a counter without paying, it’s time to look into website at last. Brave New World.

Autumn leaves…

On the plus side it seems to have magically fixed the Facebook autoshare…

Visiting the grandparents of others

Torrential rain and hailstorms in parts of London and suddenly it’s clear despite the heat that autumn is rolling in quicker than we might wish. Before long this heat will be a dream as feverish as the ones we have every night as we thrash around like bits of bacon rind frying on our sweaty duvets. Opening the window only makes it warmer. In america I mostly can’t stand the air con. I switch it off before I go to bed so I don’t wake up coughing from the parched recycled air. But at least there’s the possibility of switching it on when I wake up. I haven’t been this hot since San Antonio and the fact I’m not doing it to myself on purpose via Aircon fuckery makes it worse.

I’ve been driving again, but I’m exhausted. My concentration is shot to hell. I’m glad I got my passengers home and myself here to the Chelsea Oven before I fell apart. I occasionally need to recharge on my own and this is the first time I’ve been on my own for a few days.

As part of my careful travels I met an 80 year old couple a few days ago and today it was a 95 year old couple I’ve known before. Michael and Doreen – part of my wider family of friends. Tristan’s grandparents. Cue lots of washing of hands and care and thought about distance.

I met Michael when he was a mere stripling in his late eighties. Michael Beint. A veteran of the stage. He still has his agent. He’s a brilliant man. If I can be anything like him at his age that’ll be enough. I hadn’t been in the house five minutes before he and I were in deep theoretical discussion about aspects of the message behind the words in William Shakespeare’s plays. What might have been his belief structure, based on clues in the writing. Also geeking out about his puns and words with multiple edges. Then into Benjamin Brittan and Peter Pears and Germanic influence on the English language and much more… Occasional glances askance at the fuckwits in office in this country but mostly curiosity and thought and debate while Tristan made his grandparents a birthday lunch in the kitchen.

We’ve always got on, Michael and I, and I’ve always been curious about one of his early jobs, that I’d read about when I was at school. I asked him…

In 1956 the sexual offences act was passed, and in the wake of the furore around Lady Chatterley’s Lover, some bloody fool decided that there should be no difference between people actually committing the offences themselves with real skin and bits, and actors pretending to do them on stage every night as part of a story. This was never really acted on. Until 1980, at The National, and Michael was an actor in Howard Brenton’s play “The Romans in Britain”. Mary Whitehouse – (“horrible woman. She never even saw it”) – was at the height of her power as “an activist against the permissive society”. Brenton remains an extraordinary playwright, wordsmith and storycrafter. He had a scene where Peter Sproule pretended to “bugger” Greg Hicks. The trick involved a thumb, sightlines and trust. Greg is very physically capable. Peter is very punctilious. Likely a shocking scene, certainly not celebratory, and important to a powerful story by a great modern playwright.

Whitehouse got wind of the depiction of “an act of buggery”on the stage – the first of its kind – and she didn’t like it one bit.

She failed twice to get the Attorney General to act against Michael Bogdanov – the show’s director. Eventually she went private and sent someone to watch the show and take notes. There was nudity elsewhere, and when the scene came round the geezer was sufficiently credulous and the two actors sufficiently capable and well choreographed. The geezer was able to think he saw what he was looking for – despite sitting in the back row likely with his coat still on and folded arms, sweating gently with rage and righteousness. An erect penis, God save us all. Peter has big thumbs, I guess.

Bogdanov ended up in the dock for “procuring an act of gross indecency between two actors in the play.” So basically for being a pimp. Seriously? Did Mary Whitehouse cut people’s livers out when she played doctors and nurses at school?

Eventually it was thrown out as being as ridiculous as it sounds, but not before a media circus. The trial might have gone the other way and started a gradual process of fettering our industry. Thankfully not. Instead, ten years later a bunch of Cambridge graduates named a rude sketch show after her. Milky milky.

Michael chuckles and says to Doreen as she comes in from the garden “do you remember the night you came to see the Romans in Britain? A camera crew thought you were Mary Whitehouse and asked you what you thought of it!” She laughs at the memory as if it was yesterday. 40 years. I’d love to see that footage. Doreen is so quick, so sharp. They both are.

A lovely afternoon with them. Doreen keeps the garden immaculate. Michael paints on an easel in the shed. “Carpe Diem” says the sign above the shed door. Bloody right. And don’t stop.

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Good old Yorkshire

Over a year ago I had William from a bad London auction house come to my flat. My hope was that he would be able to take all of the valuable clutter that’s been boxed up around my flat for so long now and help me move it to somewhere it’ll be loved while providing some cash.

I needed so badly to get back the space it was taking up and I knew it had some value and didn’t like it to go for nothing, even though I occasionally gave people bits and bobs they liked. I laid out loads of it on every surface in the flat and waited excitedly for his arrival. I had no illusions that there were any pieces worth tens of thousands. But I knew I had loads of stuff worth a few hundred, maybe some worth a grand.

William was a complete tit. He had clearly been expecting things worth hundreds of thousands and was more interested in himself than helping me move the pieces. His superior demeanour, lack of knowledge and dismissive  behaviour disillusioned me enough that I lost momentum and ended up putting it all back into the attic questioning my own research. Late Meissen is still Meissen, surely? Just knock a 0 off, but money is money, no? Not for thousand pound William.

Lockdown gave me time to think about it all again. This time I started with a load of fans that I hadn’t shown to William. There’s a good grand in it. I took advice from The Fan Museum and was eventually advised to get them up to Leyburn to consign them. Which is why I’ve been doing a Dominic Cummings and driving up to North Yorkshire. The difference between myself and our illustrious mekon is that I don’t think I’m already contagious, and if I thought I was I wouldn’t go.

It’s a long way from London to North Yorkshire. I figured there was little point going up with just the fans. I loaded a mixture of stuff I knew was good and didn’t want and stuff that I’ve drawn a blank on. I figured I’d drip feed it this time. If I had another William some of the stuff would just stay in the car.

I had a Diane. She was welcoming, interested, friendly, professional, under no illusions that I thought this was all worth millions and totally honest and frank. I told her I had tons of stuff back home. “It’s always worth checking. We sell stuff from about £100 to £2.4 million. But you never know, if it’s come from somebody else you never know what the big ticket items are. And anyway even the little things are always worth moving to a new home if you don’t love them.” Oh God, the difference between William and Diane. This is another reason why I love Yorkshire. People have the headspace not to be arseholes. William can go suck a goat, not that he’d find one in Chiswick.

I think I’ll be up and down to Leyburn a fair bit now, depending on how this first lot is received and how it moves. I’ve come home with a cup and a bit of costume jewelry :

“I suspect this cup is crap?” “It’s crap.”

“Is this ivory?” “It’s camel bone.”

Nice to have an excuse to go up to God’s Own Country. It’s a lovely place to be, there’s potential profit at the end of it, and it saves me going to Specsavers.

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