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Catching up

17 May 2005

Durn, I missed a bit of my life there; by definition, then, so did you. Unless you were here and observing, of course. Some people are.

Anyway, highlights, memorable moments of the last couple of weeks:

I dropped a fried egg into my boot. Sometimes it is just such fun, being me. Double fun on this occasion, because not only did my lunch go south-west (it was a left boot; actually I almost typed a left-hand boot, but then I thought you’d laugh at me) but then I was faced with the challenge of cleaning out the footware. And I do like my eggs very, very loose...

I had people for dinner, and cooked guineafowl. You’d be surprised, how much meat there can be on a guineafowl. Granted that I’d taken the edges off their appetites with a couple of starter-courses (I do persist in thinking that the starters are the most interesting bit of any meal, so why not have more than one?), and granted that I did serve it with many trimmings, but I don’t think anybody stinted and it fed four of us very happily with enough left on the carcase for me to scavenge a couple of suppers after. Guineafowl-and-spring-cabbage risotto, and very nice too.

I went down to Birmingham, for a twenty-four hour TWF marathon. We started Friday night with talking to the Brum SF group, which was the gig I’d been dreading; we’d been tipped off that there were some real SF fascistas in the group, who would resent fantasy writers even being there and so rip into us all the more. So we went all defensive, but there wasn’t any need; they were welcoming and lovely, interested and challenging to be sure but not argumentative, and I think pretty much everyone went away happy. For sure we did.

And spent the night in the world’s worst hotel (the Britannia, worth a visit for its sheer awfulness: there were five of us, scattered through all its floors, and we all had a disturbed night for five differently awful reasons. Myself, I was clearly sleeping in the room next to the aircraft engines: a muted but enormous noise all night, the rumbling of something vast, an asthmatic whale or a snoring dragon, but what it most reminded me of really was aircraft engines), and then did stock signings at a couple of bookshops before going on to do a gig at the Tolkien Weekend. This was the gig I’d been looking forward to, but in the end it was a bit flat: small audience evincing no great knowledge or interest. I guess all the academics and the geeks are going to the other Tolkien conference in August; this was much more a fun day out for all the family. Still, it was interesting to talk to the other TWFers (hereinafter Thunderbards, which has the virtue of being more euphonious, that at least) about how Tolkien influenced them or otherwise. And they had books too, and mirabile dictu, all three of the signing-sessions that day produced books by all six of us. Never been known before, at mass signings.

Spent Sunday clambering about the countryside with Roger & Jean, which I probably don't do enough of these days. M'friend Simon takes me out sometimes, and threatens to do it more. I was brought up walking, and it always did mean 'walking in the country' (or nearest available alternative, in Oxford), but nowadays it’s elided into 'walking in the city', which is synonymous with shopping.

And yesterday I had a thoroughly memorable day, because I made my first pork pie. Been meaning to do it for years, and never quite ventured. Not sure quite what pushed me over the edge this time, but I was determined. And actually, it's fab. All the way from mincing the meat (m'friend Gail gave me a mincer, years ago, and I've finally got it out of its box, and I loved the process: enormous fun, and reminiscent of my mum mincing at the kitchen table, which is a constant childhood memory, but this was electrified and easy) to sharing the finished product with m’friend Stephen for lunch today. I did have a problem which I thought would be catastrophic - a rip in the casing, an escape of juices & jelly - but actually you wouldn’t know it had happened.

So we ate one end of the pie, and I came over all Edwardian and wrapped the remainder in greaseproof paper rather than clingfilm. Just seemed more appropriate, somehow. If I keep going this way, I shall be my grandfather before I die.

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© Chaz Brenchley 2005
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.