Saturday, 31 October 2020
Friday, 30 October 2020
Saturday, 24 October 2020
Friday, 23 October 2020
I don't normally write much about the "day job" here. In any case, my company has it's own website, so can speak for itself to any that might be interested. If I do write about it here, it's never anything to do with the work but is instead generally about with the beautiful old mill we're lucky enough to be based in.
One of the obvious impacts of Covid is that everybody who can now works from home. I've held fort here throughout with a skeleton crew to keep the phones answered and our networks and servers ticking over, but we sent our staff home the week before lockdown and they've worked from home ever since. We're lucky insofar as almost all of what we do can be done remotely so it's had no impact on our business.
If anything, we've been busier throughout.
But it's clear the fifteen souls that work for us no longer need the 4000 square feet of office space to house them. Even once all this is over we've no intention of resuming the previous expectation that everybody will report into the office 9 till 5, five days a week anymore, but will instead move to a hybrid model of so many days a week in the office, so many days at home.
And our lease is up for review in April. So as of then we're moving to a fully serviced office of about a quarter of the floor space in a trading estate on the edge of town. It's not without some considerable regret. St Mary's Mill is a beautiful place to work and we've had a sanctuary here for more than seventeen years. I consider our landlady Jenny and her late mother Audrey, from whom she inherited the stewardship of this lovely old building earlier this year, to be friends.
But it is right for our business.
I shall miss the trout in the mill race, the deer in the field, the occasional kingfisher and heron; we even had an otter once, although the trout became a bit scarce for a few weeks following his visit.
And I shall miss watching the trees on the far side of the valley each year slowly fade with the autumn to match the rusted hue of the corrugated iron roof of the derelict old steam house next door.
I'm away for the next two weeks. It's quite likely the leaves will have turned and fallen by the time I'm next in the office.
I haven't travelled abroad since about 2003, and so decide of all things to do so in the middle of a global pandemic. But the temptation was too great. Dad and I are sailing a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 389 called "Verona" from Corfu to Athens with Mark and Vernon, a couple of friends from my sailing club in South Cerney.
By about this time tomorrow Dad and I should have landed at Kapodistrias Airport in Corfu and be well on our way to meet the boat at Mandraki Marina.
I can't wait.
Monday, 19 October 2020
A friend summed it up nicely, "2020, the year the bins went out more than us". However, bucking the trend of this year's theme, Nikki and I did get to go out Friday night.
As I've probably previously mentioned, my daughter and her fella run a pub in Cheltenham called The Restoration. Since about mid September, they've started hosting "open mic nights" again every other Friday. To the uninitiated, it's basically a gig where anybody can turn up and have a go, but only the guy supplying the PA gets paid.
Or in normal times, that would be the case. In this modern age, you have to book your table and your slot to perform in advance, and demand is high so you'd better get in early. And you have to bring your own kit; no borrowing microphones or instruments anymore.
In that bygone age of innocence back at the beginning of this year when you could just turn up, ask for a spot and borrow the organiser's guitar, I did a few of these with my brother. In part to support Tash and Dan with their new pub, in part because it was a pleasant change from the pressures and expectations of the band.
Now "the Big C" no longer means quite what it did a year ago, we're all socially bemasked and isolated from other human contact, and all my gigs appear to have been cancelled for the foreseeable, the fact that the Resto has resumed their open mic nights has provided a bit of a lifeline and release for me, and I suspect more than a few others.
Anyway, this Friday just gone I stuck my phone on a table before I went up to take my turn and pressed record. Sorry about the quality of the noise - and not so much about the quality of the performance; it's true, I have no shame.
In any case, if you chose to press play and spend twelve minutes of your life you'll never get back watching what follows, the three songs from Friday were:
Be More Kind, by Frank Turner
Goodnight Salvador Dali, by yours truly
Good Riddance (Time of Your Life), by Greenday
Friday, 16 October 2020
We took a ride down the motorway yesterday evening to visit my eldest son Ben whose birthday falls next Monday, and his partner in crime Hannah. On the way down we took a slight diversion through Cheltenham to pick up his sister Tash, who had the night off from the pub.
Thursday, 15 October 2020
I am a man of relatively simple (arguably unsophisticated) literary tastes. I very much enjoy a good tale, an escapist distraction. I read compulsively, anything I can get my hands on. In the absence of any other available distraction, I'd read the ingredients list on a cereal box if I had to.
As long as I had my reading glasses. These days my near sight isn't what it used to be, and seems to deteriorate annually.
So all my reading is done electronically. But then that does mean my book is always to hand in my pocket now, and should I finish a particular episode in an ongoing series in the dead of night, the following book is always immediately available at the touch of a finger to a screen.
It does sadden me as to what that must've done to the high street bookshop. And I am entirely complicit. But then that's just a small cameo of the greater peril of our times. And again, I am entirely complicit. Although I can say I've never actually bought a car, boat or guitar online.
I read an interesting interview with Bernard Cornwell on the Guardian's website this morning. He's one of my favourite modern authors. Very much looking forward to reading the final instalment of The Last Kingdom, and utterly delighted to read that he's revisiting Sharpe; the latter was, back when books were published on paper and virtuously purchased on weekend trips to town in high street bookshops, my gateway drug into the world of Cornwell.
He makes the observation that historical novels generally have a big story and a little story. Obviously a winning formulae, because that describes every book he's ever written and I've read and loved them all.
I often wish I'd had the time, focus and patience to write a book. I'd like to think I'd have the talent. And I guess without the commitment to actually do it, I can happily go on telling myself that without risk of disproving it.
Tuesday, 13 October 2020
Monday, 12 October 2020
Saturday, 10 October 2020
I was planning to sail for Fowey in the morning. However, I didn't even make it home from work and shall instead be shopping for a new car first thing tomorrow. Meanwhile does anybody want to buy a second-hand, much (over)loved Volvo V70? Turbo charger is dead, she's not fit to drive, will need to be towed away by the buyer.
The half hour commute home this evening turned into a four and a half hour drag. On the bright side, I finally stowed the casualty safe in front of my house in time to jog down to the local shop seconds before they closed and buy myself some beer with which to gently soothe the anguish of the evening.
I managed the entire trot down to the bottom of my road without having to pause once. So clearly my health is improving now normal physical activity (except the still much missed 2 to 4 hours live performance per week) is resumed.
Tuesday, 6 October 2020
We were blessed in that we actually had a couple of gigs come through for us in September. The first was in the beer garden of a village pub in Chalford, just down the road from here. Lovely crowd, spread out on picnic tables across a spacious garden, warm sun, a gorgeous afternoon.