Friday, October 18, 2013

Visit From Dad and Mum

My parents came to visit me for the first time in a long while.

They used to regularly visit me in Lewes but, since my dad has been ill, it has been so much more difficult.

Now every excursion, however short, has to be planned with military precision.

Dad had said he wanted to visit me in Brighton and the visitation had been organised for a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately, he was too tired on that occasion and, so, it was rearranged. Even the new date looked dodgy with a terrible weather forecast.

In the event, fate smiled on us. There was a pause in the torrential rain for precisely the duration of their visit.

They were driven over in the morning while I did my housework.

I don't mind doing housework but while preparing the flat for my parents' visit, it occurred to me how seldom I do a really "deep" clean.

It actually took me around six hours to make everything absolutely spotless, to scrub and dust. It is amazing how quickly things get dusty and dirty.

After coffee and biscuits in the flat, we walked along the seafront, which Dad loved, and I look them for lunch at the Regency, one of my favourite pubs.

Dad wanted to go to the Lanes which was great. He particularly loved a brass band playing pop songs.

Music gives him such pleasure.

However, because of his condition, his energy suddenly ran out and the shutters came down. It seemed a very long and anxious walk back to my flat.

I also took Mum and Dad over to my allotment, at Earwig Corner, in Lewes.

Then it was straight back to Oxford.

The visit was an undoubtedly success, and I am glad it was possible. 

Old age and illness makes things very hard.

It makes me feel sad but at least, since my own personal circumstances changes dramatically two years, I see my parents much more frequently. Every cloud. . .

I visit my Dad and Mum in Oxford at least every fortnight. 

For his birthday recently, his 81st I believe, I went to Oxford and cooked them a big Sunday roast. That was also a success. I had a very good recipe and did a really elaborate and tasty roast chicken.

I used six pans and two roasting tins (I did a vegetarian roast as well).

It is strange cooking in someone else's kitchen. My Mum said I was the only person apart from her who had ever cooked in her kitchen. It seemed surprising.

The day after Dad's visit, I went to Marlow - a place I have not visited since around 1980.

The last time was when I stayed with my school friend, the late John Constantino, at the Compleat Angler (his dad was the luxury hotel's manager at the time).
I recall cycling 20 miles through a storm to get there one night.

Mrs Constantino was shocked by my condition when I arrived, in the small hours, soaked to the skin.

She let me eat in the five-star restaurant at the hotel's expense - quite a treat for an impoverished student.

The Compleat Angler is still a good hotel. We had a hot chocolate there. It is lovely inside.

As for Marlow, I cannot say the decades have been kind to it.

It seemed far more down at heel that it had been some 33 years ago. Chain-shop town! Apart from the river, a fairly ugly place, even if it is bridged with the lovely Budapest.

On a different subject, I am still doing a lot of reading.

I enjoyed Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, a marvellously succinct and well structured book. A total classic, of course.

Then I read the very lengthy Life by Keith Richards, on the recommendation of my guitar teacher.

Having ploughed through its 550 pages, I was left with the thought: "How did Keef get away with it all?"

Nevertheless, it is a fascinating and well written book. Whatever you think of Keef, the man and the myth, he has had an extraordinary life and has a great love of music.

When (and if) I am good enough at guitar, I would love to jam with him. I am sure we would get on well.

Then I read So You Want To Be An Actor?, by Prunella Scales and Timothy West. I don't want to be an actor but still found it interesting (and sensibly short). I go to a drop-in acting class and some of the tips were useful.

I have almost finished Songs For While I'm Away by Thin Lizzy legend Philip Lynott, whose lyrics don't really work without the music. Interesting to read, all the same.

Finally, still on a Dublin them, I am reading a book simply entitled Guinness Dublin. 

It is a lovely old volume about the history of the Guinness brewery, making much of the famous porter's medicinal qualities.

Which is good because I have ripped a muscle in my back and am in agony.

My back is like a washboard and I had only get around with the aid of strong painkillers and a chestnut stick. The pain is indescribably bad.

I am not even supposed to sit down, according to the doctor, although sitting down is my only respite from the pain! And the only way I can work.

What a life! You have to count your blessings.

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Blogger urko said...

Ollie - though I loved the man and his work dearly, Phil Lynott's lyrics don't really work with the music either - it's part of their charm. My favourite was "tonight there's gonna be a jailbreak; somewhere in this town" somewhere? my money's on the jail.

Tuesday, 22 October, 2013  

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