Our shower is a wonderful space-age construction; all sliding curved glass and glowing white tiled walls. I almost expect it to speak to me with a mellifluous HAL voice… “Good morning John, I hope you enjoy your shower today…”
Thankfully it doesn’t and so I simply step in and slide the door shut. It does so with a satisfying technological ‘clunk’ reminiscent of an Audi advert. Vorsprung durch technic as we say in Penistone. I’m quite conscious of the amount of water that goes down the plug hole so I try to be as quick as I can these days and after a couple of minutes I grope for the tap and turn it off.
As I turn around, dripping, I catch sight of a dark shape near my feet. WTF? It’s a huge dead spider; waterlogged and bedraggled, it lies in a tangled mess. How the hell could I have missed that? I mean look at it… It’s fucking huge!
It’s far too big to flush down the plug hole. ‘ Oh well’ I think, I’ll deal with the carcass later, and reach through the door to grab a towel so I can get dry inside the cubicle but out of the draught. I’m done in a few moments and glance down at the monster whilst I ponder how to deal with it. But wait…..
….. It’s not there!
An irrational fear sweeps over me and in my minds eye this thing has grown to Alien Xenomorph proportions and is behind me or above me. It’s slimy extendible jaw is about to punch through my face. Or rip me in half, …. or… I spin around in the cubicle, skidding on the wet floor and flailing against the toughened glass walls….
…..It’s there! Hiding behind the shampoo bottle.
I regain my composure and finish towelling down. Later I return to the cubicle and gently assist its escape with some toilet tissue. I watch it as it scuttles off into a dark corner of the bathroom….. now you may call me a wuss but that, ladies and gentlemen, was above and beyond the call of duty. Ripley would have been proud of me.
It was THIS big….!
I drove past the Sheaf View today. It wasn’t an easy thing to do as it had always been my habit to call in after I’d finished my tutoring session at HDT. It made me feel part of the local community- something that had become quite dear to me and an aspect of living and working in the area which was just as satisfying as the job itself. The bar staff greeted me with a brief cock of the head as I walked in – an almost imperceptible sign of recognition, but it made me feel like I belonged. I felt comfortable and settled here. Most of all, settled. But of course I always had something else to look forward to later too. So, today, I drove to the Sheaf without thinking, the promise of a warm welcome and all the other associated feelings pulling me onwards.
And then the chasm opened up in front of me; a void of belonging. I no longer belonged. No longer lived in the community and no longer had any reason to linger. Grief is a silent thief, not flashy or brash, but patient cold and unflinching. It’s only in the quiet moments that you suddenly realise that part of you has been taken. Your heart lurches in panic but you know it’s too late; what you’ve lost will never return.
Why bother? Why put yourself through it?
I drove on towards the city, towards the blaze of neon and sodium sparkling on the wet road; scant compensation for the dull, scuffed wooden treasures I’d lost.
I didn’t get far before I pulled over and re-thought what I should do….. damned if I’d give it up. The pint of Farmer’s Blonde was the best I’d ever had, and Bloody-Minded is my middle name.
When we first met I knew we were kindred spirits; our passion for photography; love of books; and a slightly geeky interest in technology. We spent our first night together simply talking for hours about our families, past relationships, politics and friendships – revelling in mutual affirmation as much as the physical pleasure of being together. It was also apparent from the start that we shared a terrible capacity for self destruction, and the following six months together were immensely difficult for her as she coped with the death of both her parents. She pulled through by sheer strength of will and, I hope, a little help from me and we started to build a possible future together. I think we both knew it would be a rocky path – and so it proved to be – she with her fiery temperament and capricious nature and me with my blockheaded obstinacy. We parted several times, but the ties that bind us are strong and I could never bear to be away from her for long. I still don’t know what she saw in me, but I always knew what I saw in her; her grace and beauty underneath that self-deprecating shell; the fragility behind the fearsome temper; and above all the need to be loved – borne of the pain of past rejection from those she most needed to love her. How could I not love her? We don’t get many chances in life to be with someone who truly loves us, warts-and-all, so I guess I just wanted to state for the record: Sarah, I’ll always love you.
I’m enjoying watching the ink flow from the nib onto the paper, it’s wetness glistening with reflected orange light from the bar. It’s quieter now… just the murmur of distant conversations in moderate tones. The atmosphere is mellow and warm; this is a lovely pub!
The stadium stands are crowded with a cross-section of society. Milling around they are either bored or deep in animated conversation. They mostly cluster around the bookies next to the finishline. Except for the hordes of teenagers who populate the stands; away from the bars and the restaurant and formica countered burger bar. Most of the punters are simply there for a night out and readily queue up to put their £1.00 on a dog who’s name they like. The Tote, staffed by weary grannies, does a brisk trade. The more seriously inclined betters hold court around the bookies and make light of the changing odds with serious faces. If you’re patient you might spot the occasional Godfather. They are aloof and quiet and sometimes attended by tense-faced wannabees. Often they’ll stand in twos or threes – always quiet, always watchful. They never bet. Or almost never. These are the people who’ve dedicated their whole life to the dogs. They are often owners or trainers, and when they do show their money…. it’s a great deal of money. This results in the regular punters exchanging hushed whispers and knowing winks. The bookies embark on a flurry of rubbing out with grim expressions.
An evening at the dogs is a familiar lesson in life; those in the know, and the clueless masses who pay for it all. Of course it’s a mistake to think the divisions are due to skill or learning. Like everything else in life - the dice are very heavily loaded.
There’s a trio of Jolly Thirty-somethings making a fuss at the back of the plane. They are all (two men and a woman) very well dressed and handsome and speak more loudly than anyone else, just as they have done since their arrival in the departure lounge. Their plummy vowels carry effortlessly down the fuselage. The stewardess leads them down the aisle to the seats immediately in front of us and her apologetic tones lead me to believe that they were not happy sitting where they were. The strikingly beautiful woman gushes her gratitude for being allowed to escape the ‘smelly feet’ at the back.
Laughing and joking, the three tumble into the empty seats if front of us, causing my tea to spill onto the tray and thence onto my lap. Sarah and I look at each other and shake our heads in disbelief.
I mop up my dripping tray and settle down to brew up a really smelly fart.