Thursday, June 14, 2007

DSC_3727 - Five FinsI'd forgotten how much one can fit in a weekend. My brother helpfully decided he and she were going to my parents' on Friday evening, causing mild divers alarums, which led to decision to stage everything in the garden, which led to the discoveries that smothered grass will not revive in 3 hours, that removing 4-months' worth bindweed only exposes what hasn't grown there instead and that shingle cannot be moved quickly, quietly or neatly (it'd crept from the path to a huge bank under the bench). Oh, and the discovery that if they don't turn up till I could have been watching Ugly Betty (I know it's rubbish, but it's dreadfully silly and therefore fun rubbish) then it's probably going to be getting too dark to notice anyway.

They appear to be greeted by my still muttering mother (she felt very put upon; but then she seeks out reasons to dislike the SIL [the evil papal cucumber hater], and probably last played host to anyone who is not pre-existing family back when people thought microwaved meringues were a good idea, microwaves still being rare novelties to the non-ocean-going populace. The earlier rants included some comedy misanthropic lines which she would have lambasted had they been said by anyone but herself; I won't repeat them here because while typing I'll either dissolve into giggles or lapse into depression at the thought she might mean it. But she ignores my father's comments that there might be some point to the visit, some news perhaps [the possibility of the result of holiday survival had already occurred to me, albeit in a "Oh God... but... oh" way], so I think it was just the autorant she does before she sees anyone).

I'm dispatched to make drinks, this time with lemonade that doesn't taste like Sodastream (stale sugar solution weakly carbonated; the first bottle had been sitting in the fridge in the garage probably since the summer before last). After much chopping and completely forgetting about the usual collection of herbs (and cucumber; I'll pretend that was being considerate), I end up wondering how I can get the liquid out from under that much head. I also ponder the possibility of baking the jug and serving it as Pimm's soufflé (just comically mistyped as 'souggle' - far more apt). Serving the guest of honour first I managed to decant some liquid but little of the overhanging head, although no fruit either. I take that out, return to make my brother's driving-back drink, run that out (master of efficiency at work here), then back in again to pour the rest of the Pimm'ses, which by this time has subsided and so only the SIL's ended up without fruit, thus managing to be a slight that wasn't intended (like nearly breaking her cheekbone, and mine, in greeting earlier) - it's something people in the family might notice and people on my mother's side would umbrage over, but I've no idea what the SIL extrapolated from it. She would have had some had she had another glass, but oddly she didn't. This might have something to do with the unreported but fairly recent discovery that the label design on the bottle suggests it may well have been inherited hence the slight taste of brown jam (which would have been less masked in those glasses without fruit, which would have be... oh). Which thus explains the lack of "Yay Pimm's Yay" so far.

So we sit to eat, with the usual Heathrow approaches of a help-yourself family meal on a too small table, the potatoes ending up on nearby furniture alongside late seedlings and the only causality is the invention of citronella ham. My brother makes panicked looks and not quite funny comments about the creak and lurch let out by the table. I try to silence him with a glare but it doesn't really work when lit by candlelight and streetlight. It's cheap furniture on an uneven slope, as loving built and painted by me, and then less lovingly painted again a couple of years later when I couldn't get some of the nuts undone so painted over them and it's those that probably let out the crack. Anyway, it never quite fitted together in the first place thanks to the kit-makers being wholly unaware of Pythagoras.

Conversation is made, nearly as well as the bench. My brother and the SIL alternate who is making leaving signals. My mother carries on regardless. Eventually they depart in car that makes similar sounds to the bench [so there!]. My mother asks after they've gone why they came so late and had to stay so long, why couldn't they have left an hour ago? I decide that explaining that she would not stop talking for long enough for them to get up and go would only lead to another hour of 'talking' and then it would all be my fault.

The next day breakfast is grabbed through the fruit-flied clutter and we head off for the distant coast, radio squawking traffic reports incessantly (and BBC Radio Bristol - don't ask how we were picking them up - leave there 'traffic' signal on way past the actual report). It's always nice to hear of 4 mile queues on an unavoidable bit of route while sitting a solid traffic jam which is mentioned on no radio station. Phone calls to say we'll be late, are followed by finding the widely reported chaos cannot be found, although driving through the relevant town was like to how it used to be before they built the allegedly root-of-all-evil bypass.

Get to the club, offering apologies, trying to placate the site-sharers (or possibly owners; it gets complicated) over an unknown stupidly parked car (was it the hatching, the signs or the presence of the large doors that confused you?) while not having the time to get involved. Get changed, go out on rib, be glad I'm in dire need of a haircut and so not having time to seek out some sunscreen means only my nose will get burnt. Loiter not doing much, play round in rib not being quite as effortless as I'd like and struggling not to slow down for the corners (although never badly enough that the wake shunts the stern). Hanging around the first mark ever alert for the spectacularly stupid, indulging in ill-worded radio communications (which were accurate but not logical; I didn't send either, just heard and misinterpreted), haring off belatedly to move the leeward marks as the boats are still struggling out to the windward mark, whereupon I got taught that there are two ways to move marks; the proper weigh and re-lay way, and the cleat the line to the back of the boat and hammer across the bay way. The latter is rather quicker, although it is strange to be able to see chain apparently floating.

After a bit of exploring the handling (i.e. trawling round, then haring round and trying not to brake for the corners, which caused someone else in the boat to demonstrate what happens when you turn at full speed, which I think counts are bombing round) we tied up to a speed limit buoy and dozed for the rest of the race. I don't think one boat capsized, which given there have been instances where nearly the whole fleet has been flattened was pretty fortunate. After that we pack up the course and head in, stowing everything away while trying to remain polite to those who insist on discussing things while I'm impersonating a leafcutter, with one of the race marks sprawling above me.

Then the traditional clambering out of a wetsuit, cursing the entire racing fleet who have doused the changing room before me. And so the joys of working out the results while people pester for them (if I'm still typing the times in how can Sailwave already know the adjusted times? It's even better when they try to evoke sympathy or defame their competitors while not actually officially making any complaint; if anything's likely to make me mistype their time as 1:33:05 not 1:13:05, it's that. Leave us be, otherwise we might notice that you haven't signed off and so disqualify you [I was overruled on typing up one of the crews as Helm: A. NAME and Crew: ILLEGIBLE]), and then having them all depart while we find out that the bosun's marooned us with his freshly cleaned floor.

Then came driving back, via fish and chips and an aunt's, with the shock discovery that there's a world at the end of her garden - a lot of trees had been taken since I saw it last.

Then the next day came London and a preview day at the RA's Summer Exhibition with bro and co. Liked the photography room, despite some things elsewhere looking like they ought to be. Liked the architecture room. Liked a couple of trompe-l'oeil-ish pictures (bag, loo). Not sure I approve of painting over books, especially with the wrong titles; that was another trompe-l'oeil thing which turned out not to be. Didn't feel as exciting as last year's but that's because it was less new. This year I could recognise the same artists, recognise some of the same ideas and not overspend quite so much time early on.

After that my brother and his girlfriend went one way, I another, possibly because they were making pizza many hours hence, and the invitation was of the sort were someone realised they've been discussing plans in front of you, so invites you, but really hasn't thought about it and is assuming you won't be there. So I wander, sucking peaches in Green Park (apparently my mother can tell when I speaking with a peach stone in my mouth, even over the phone), then meandering until I reach Pimlico, getting the Tube back up to somewhere more reasonable and dawdling back down to Waterloo again. The highlight of which was noticing the signs on two neighbouring shops "British Sex Shop", which makes one wonder how British sex differs, next to "Celebrity Dry Cleaners", which not only conjures up images of gaunt females having the plastic surgery dissolved off them, but allows for the amusing pragmatism of having a dry cleaners next to a sex shop.

And that was that weekend.


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