Mess, rugby, panic & a vampire ending

March 29, 2009

Just to warn you, there is no serious intent to this post its just the record of 30 hours now past which has to say the least been a bit of a mess.

It all started on Saturday morning when the state in my study got too much even for me. I have one antique roll top desk which was piled high with papers, books and the debris of too many trips. I also have a six by four table which had seven two foot high stacks of paper, teetering on the brink of collapse together with various cables, boxes and unread mail. The side table where I work had two stacks of paper and only just enough room for the computer. Now that is just the surfaces at waist height. We then move to the floor to find several shoe bags (the sort you get from airlines) stuffed with material that needs to be sorted, two travel bags in need of repair and one other with the unpacked remnants of a trip last week still open on the floor. All of this before we take $300 of books from Wiley in partially unpacked boxes (the reward for reviewing a book proposal), three bags of books from visit to the MIT bookshop a few months ago and a copy of Theory U. I have promised someone I respect to read it but am finding either boring (it falls to the floor when I fall asleep) or infuriating (it is thrown the the floor). Add to that the as yet unopened journals and a few coats and you get a sense of the mess. I normally tidy it up every six months or so, but I missed the Christmas opportunity and the previous summer’s attempt was derisory so the accumulation was worse than usual.

So I am up early (trying to time adjust for Hong Kong), it’s 0530 and the impulse to create order hits so I set too. Three hours later, four large carriers (the large green ones for self-scanning inhabitants of middle-class southern England otherwise known as Waitrose-land) were full of paper for the recycling bank. The shredder had blocked twice, been unblocked and then emptied into rubbish sacks four times; identity theft concerns and client confidentiality. Our supply of large rubbish sacks had been exhausted. There was also a certain amount of marital disharmony as our bedroom is above the study and shredders do not come fitted with silencers, but that was as nothing to the distress of the cats who regarded the study as a wet weather alternative to external hunting. Task complete, wooden surfaces polished, CD’s back in their drawers and all books on shelves I could get back to normal duties with emails to write, two client systems to design and my duty shift on clearing up Wikipedia vandalism.

Mid-morning my son and I headed for Coventry for the EDF semi-finals. Two matches in one day, with a three-hour drive either side, so a full day. We listened to Philip Madoc read the wonderful Weirdstone of Brisingamen (thanks to the iTunes store) on the journey. One piece of trivia here, the Fireball that I sailed in the 70s was named Firefrost after the stone at the heart of the book and of course Fundindelve. It was a good day, the Blues beat Northampton thus continuing a 100% record against English & French Clubs in all competitions this season. The star-studded Ospreys failed to turn up against Gloucester and were humiliated; mixed feelings here as regional rivalry is strong but one normally supports Welsh clubs against all others. However it was nice of Gloucester to get rid of the Ospreys who are a bit of a bogy team for the Blues. In consequence, the final will be the third time this season Cardiff and Gloucester meet in a cup competition. In the Heineken Cup pool stages, we beat them twice. At home we destroyed them with a bonus point for four tries, then away with only 14 men for most of the match (red carding a winger for assault on a prop forward, honestly it wasn’t believable). For those who don’t know, the rivalry between two clubs at opposite ends of the tidal section of the River Severn is intense, has lasted for decades that aside an Anglo-Welsh final is always a big event, and for this one the omens are good (things really should come in threes).

Either way to get to the panic; the clocks sprung forward overnight Sunday (why can’t we stay on GMT?), so I didn’t leave myself much time to pack for a ten day trip to Hong Kong and Singapore. I decided to check in online for a 1235 flight and was asked for my passport number. Said document normally sits on the kitchen table (my intrusion on house spaces has extended as space in the study has been occupied) or is in a jacket pocket. I drew a blank on these normal locations. A search of the now one foot high stack of unread articles and the nine inch “in-pile” failed to reveal it and panic ensued. I had to leave at 0930 and had ninety minutes to wash, dress and pack. Feeling that pain should be shared, the household was roused early for a second time on the weekend, this time to conduct a search. Half an hour later I was starting to think about how I could persuade the local council to give me access the large locked skip into which you post paper for recycling and if I could get Cathy Pacific to move my flight. Resigned to having to send a set of embarrassing confessional emails I picked up my travel wallet and threw it at the wall in anger; as it hit the wall the passport fell out. For the first time in a year it was in its proper place. Hence the moral lesson, don’t tidy up before a trip and mess has more coherence than order.

Moral lessons aside, it was now 0900, a quick shower and frantic packing into three bags (at speed no time to think about what I really need) meant I left at ten/ I then realised that the hire car didn’t have enough petrol (gas) to make it to Heathrow so more delays at the garage(gas station) with the net result that I made the airport 15 minutes after they had closed the flight. They let me on however, but at the time of writing (on the plane) I have no idea if the bags will arrive with me. By the way, if you get a chance watch Schumacher’s The Lost Boys, a cult film from the 1980s that is keeping me occupied while writing this post on the flight. It has some of the best lines ever: one character to his brother on discovering that he is now sibling to a vampire says Wait till mum finds out. The multiple endings are not for the faint hearted, especially the mechanism for getting the stake through the heart of the chief vampire. They don’t make films like that anymore .


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