"Golly Gosh, two weeks!" I hear you cry.
Yes, Yes I am afraid dear people that I have left you to your own devices for two whole weeks (it might be more, but two is a nice easy number). I have left you to read other things, to delve into the inner most workings of another human being. But... you have returned.
For this, I thank you.
I have returned to reality (a soft landing with a minor bump - but no cuts or grazes). To say that the last fortnight has been a bit manic,would be a substantial understatement. "A bit manic" does not justify one's lack of commitment and complete disappearance. Even my friends did not see me, many thought I might have mysteriously fallen down a rabbit hole. I was caught up in a drama of sorts. . However, I am back, raring to go, and with a new respect for words, their strength and subjectivity.
I have had a little holiday in the meantime and a visit to Clapham, but in the reverse order. I drank myself silly in the sunshine with friends at an assortment of establishments, and decided it was high time for a summer holiday and found myself curled up in a chilly tent whilst everyone around me was jumping onto a surf board.
Clapham, for once, was a sad and sobering place. Sobering for the fact that Carrie was moving out of her very lovely top floor apartment to a house in Balham. Of course in order to pack and move one's life possessions, one must be in possession of their brain.
Unfortunatley mine was laying at the bottom of a bird cage, shrivelled and craving water, diet coke, gin.....liquid of some kind. I opted for the safer H20 option. Followed later by the cold and sugary goodness of a pint of Diet Coke. Like Carrie moving in to another place with old friends, the ninja hangover joined and cohabited in my tiny, hurting brain with the small pain hiding at the back. Together they wreaked havoc.
We hadn't consumed a lot of alcohol. At least, I hadn't. I had gone to "The Falcon" at Clapham North, with the best intentions. A pint of lime and soda between every slightly alcoholic drink would build the defence against the tiny ruthless japanese attacker that hunts me down about 3 o'clock the following afternoon. Alas, my plan did not suceed. On one (of many) trips to the crowded bar I had forgotten to ask for my 80p worth of hangover cure, and the rest they say is history. It takes a long time to build a habit, but a moment to destroy it. I found out the hard way.
Anyway I'm sure the soda tap went quite unused for the rest of the evening. Our companions, Carrie's assortment of friends (Charlotte included of course) who had joined her for birthday merriment took advantage of the celebrations and laced poor Carrie with multiple glasses of wine. Then, there a sambuca shot shot was purchased. However, I don't think it made it too her because I'm sure it was at this point in the evening that she slid slowly off the bench into a small Carrie shaped heap on the floor. A little while later we escorted her home.
Now I lack any sort of scientific evidental proof that in the process of sleeping on the floor on a drunkenly engineered bed made of sofa cushions and IKEA blankets, her hangover dripped out her ears and into mine. Many would deem this impossible. However, it did set up camp and Carrie was feeling quite sprightly whilst my health deteriorated rapidly.
I didn't think I even drank enough to warrant a poorly head. Well, think or not, it was there. And it hurt all the way home.
The girl moving into Carrie's very empty room, made it very apparent that she wanted somewhere to live. We packed the last item into a pillowcase at just after 12 noon. Then went for breakfast/lunch/brunch. (If ever you get the chance, you must try 'Bread Etc'. I won't ruin the surprise, just go. Be prepared to queue and don't eat anything before. Whatever will I do when she lives in Balham - aaah, fear not, "The Nightingale".)
With the room only freshly emptied of every trace of her existance, the new girl wanted Carrie's keys at 2 o'clock. Now, I thought this all a little insenstitive and too much like grave jumping. I wanted to remain in the cold shell, and mourn Carrie's life there. All the times I had lost make up to the depths of her floor and the piles of stuff. All the times I had left half drunk glasses before leaving for nights out, only to find the smell of wine/rum/punch positively revolting the following morning. Many a night I have shared with Carrie in her bed, unconcious with the fumes of unknown beverages and the grime of London on my feet. Oh those happy, happy times - only to be masked by some other randomer's excursions and adventures. I wanted Carrie to sign her name on the wall, a lasting memory of the previous tennant. But as Miss O'Riley put it so eloquently, " London has no sentimentality."
Many might argue this fact, but in this instance, I nodded solemly.
I spent Sunday afternoon on the sofa in my very quiet home, sleeping. I should have been packing. But like most (and I make a severe generalisation) women I hate packing. I hate that I have to have a vast selection of outfits. What if I get to my destination and suddenly realise that "oh poo, I wish I had packed my scarlet sequinned strapless dress." I don't have a scarlet sequinned strapless dress and if you're focussing on that obscene concoction then you have quite clearly missed the point.
I had not bought anything for my holiday. No new bikini. No new flip flops and not even a new pair of sunglasses. Even the suntan that I (eventually) packed had been gathering dust at the back of the bathroom cabinet.
Now a new bikini or any of the aforementioned items were really not important. I (and Frank) were going to be joining my family at our caravan that they had towed and pitched on a site in Croyde, North Devon. The neighbouring site was called 'Surfers Paradise'and there I rest my case. I was told I would just be living in a wetsuit. We've all seen the extent of my fitness and I'll admit now quite shamefully that I don't like getting my face wet, (with the exception of showering) and the concept of standing, or attempting to, on a piece of fibreglass (?) as it flies through the water, did not appeal to me at all. My little (surf obsessed) sister was utterly disgusted. Even Frank donned a wetsuit and ran into the waves, while I lay on the beach trying to catch the few summer rays and completely engrossed in one of many books I had purchased only a few weeks ago. Oh how wonderful to have the the time to read and not worry about all those other idle things one should be doing instead....
In my haste to pack, because I'd left it so late, I forgot to cover every eventuality. I had packed shorts, three 'vintage' (not in the trendy use of the term, more like - these are old because I haven't bought any more) bikinis, t-shirts in every colour, for every combination.
I think secretly, I had hoped that my geography was wrong, and that Devon's climate actually resembled that of the Caribbean. Having studied there for three years, this was most unlikely. Perhaps Frank was included in some practical joke and actually we were going to be driving to the aiport and flying to the tropics.
So I didn't pack thermals, wellies, waterproof jackets, blankets, woolly socks, jumpers and coats. Last week I would have paid a lot of money for these on the black market. When you live in a house with central heating, and work in air conditioned office, and drive a temperature controlled car - you forget how cold it is a night. Especially when the wind rushes up off the sea and whips itself into a frenzy.
Poor Frank. I think I spent most of the evenings wearing his clothes. My bikinis made it to the beach once, my shorts left my suitcase twice - quickly replaced by a pair of jeans that were packed last minute, and my poor pasty white body saw the sun once. I'm sure to some of the small children building sandcastles I looked like a ghost in a huge floppy hat. ( I was protecting my newly coloured hair from turning ginger in the sunshine - or what there was of it!)
I really should refrain from berating my holiday, I sound so unappreciative. It wasn't all bad. We ate a lot of BBQ'd food. If I eat another prawn, I might look like one. Drank copious amounts of wine, apparently my liver had given up punishing me. And played one too many board games. Obviously they're much more fun when played with other slightly tipsy adults.
The highlight of my very brief holiday in the west country was saturday night. Now, I have never been one to sleep all that well in a tent. I like beds. I like heating. I like being able to shower in the morning without having to walk across a field. But I can put up with a tent for a little bit. And put up with it, I did. I may have moaned about being cold, but I did not once whinge about the tent. (My sister and Frank might suggest otherwise).
But Saturday night, oh saturday you feisty little weather witch! The wind wanted to pull Frank's green and purple tent out of the ground, with us inside. Had it not been for Frank's expert pitching skills, I'm sure we would have been whipped up like Dorothy's house in "The Wizard of Oz".
We spent the night camping through a hurricane, or the dregs of one at least. Never in my life have I heard such ferocity. Such power. And so much bloomin' noise.
Actually, I was quite frightened. I burrowed beneath the duvet (yes duvet, no sleeping bags for me) and stuck my fingers in my ears. But it was to no avail. If Frank had heard it, he made no indication other than his initial "It's actually quite soothing", before falling asleep. Git.
I think I was awake for most of the night. We woke on sunday morning (the last day of our holiday) to bright blue skies and singing birds.
There was no trace of the hurricane other than in the the bleary sleep deprived eyes of those residents who were not knocked unconcious by the potent west country ciders.
We packed our tent, bid farewell to my family ( who are remaining in this beachy haven for another week, and if they return with caribbean tans I might weep and hang myself, cocoon-like from a tree in a sleeping bag) and drove home in the pouring rain.
Naturally I welcomed my home, the big sofa and my lovely comfy bed. And a bathroom at the end of a corridor. With hot water and no screaming children. Hoorah.
I returned to work this morning and already it feels as though I never went away. Oh and I'm broke.
Maybe the further away you go, the longer it takes to return to reality.
Frank - we're going to Oz next year! Better start popping those pounds in a piggy bank, eh?