Tuesday, 7 June 2022

bank holiday recap

So, last Wednesday was, briefly, the new virtual Friday and so that was a four day weekend just done. Something about a queen's birthday? I tried my best to avoid the news, so I'm just guessing here. I actually met her once when she paid a visit to Kuwait back in the 70's, though my recollection is dim as I must've been about seven or eight years old. I recall meeting her son Charles and his then wife Diana much better. But I was about ten years older by then. 

Despite my determination to remain unimpressed, I have to admit he was utterly charming and it was impossible not to stand there grinning with the rest of my school band as he made his way down the line-up, chatting and shaking hands and generally acting like there was nowhere else he'd rather be in the world in that moment than right there with us. Diana was a different matter though, and looked like she'd much rather be anywhere but.

Despite the obvious, easy charm of Charles, and the indulgence of a four day weekend just gone however, I retain most definite republican sympathies. Aside from anything else, the royal family costs the country at least £345,000,000 a year (at least according the campaign group Republic). There are so many better uses that money could be put to.

But a four day weekend, however? I'm totally sold on that idea. We should do it again soon. 

And it was a busy one. 

Thursday, of course, we picked up Lottie. I was briefly baffled to see that my last post stating "We picked her up at 1216 today" was dated Friday 3rd June, but it turns out I'd actually posted it at 0010hrs Friday morning. In my head it was still Thursday.

Needless to say, Lottie is settling in famously. She's totally besotted with Jack, following him around the house everywhere, and Jack's quite taken with her, patiently and graciously putting up with her endless attention.

Not so much Boo. She's just a little bit too much of a livewire for him, so he's taken to putting himself anywhere she is not, for the moment.

On Friday the band had a wedding down in Bristol. It was a lovely night. The groom is a long standing friend of ours. We've played any number of gigs at his rugby club, so every other person in the crowd seemed to be a friendly, familiar face from WRFC or the many gigs we've played around the area. I love playing weddings anyway, but it's a particular treat when the occasion is a mate's wedding.

Saturday morning was the usual hour's training in the morning; with a grading coming up in July things are beginning to get a little tense, so I'm trying my hardest not to miss any sessions. Then it was home for a shower then straight back out for a couple of gigs. 

But solo, for a change. Actually, I say "for a change" but, aside from open mic nights (which really don't count, not least because I don't get paid for them) I've only actually ever done one (paid) solo gig before, about eighteen years ago, when the bass player couldn't join me for what was supposed to be a duo gig. 

This Saturday, both were fairly local, in a village called Shurdington, just outside the neighbouring town of Cheltenham. The first was a single set at, of all things, the village fete in the afternoon, followed by a couple of hours in the evening at one of the local pubs, The Bell Inn.

The clip above is of a Greenday cover I played in the afternoon, called "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)". I very, very rarely get to play that one with the band.

So I enjoyed myself. There's a certain pleasure found in the freedom of being able to decide your own set without criticism from the bass player on the song choice, or "input" from the drummer on the order. But it's hard work. Much harder than playing with the band. And whilst it's a nice change to have a bit of independence, I really missed the support and camaraderie of having the other three guys along with me. 

Which, I guess, is why I don't moonlight as a solo act very often. Which is not to say I won't do it again, however. In fact, I've got a couple of others booked for August and September, respectively.

Finally, I dragged myself out of bed Sunday morning, braved the storm of puppy teeth swirling about my feet and, careful not to trip, loaded my sailing gear into the back of my car and headed down to the lake to sail.

Two races. It had rained heavily overnight, but eased by the time we were rigging on the foreshore the following morning. The temperature had dropped however, and the wind had become light and shifty. There were nine boats for the first race, dropping to eight for the second. 

I completely misjudged the start of the first race, tried to reposition, but had left it too late. The result was a disastrous first beat that saw everybody else beat me to the windward mark. I spent the rest of the race slowly crawling my way back through the fleet to finally salvage a 3rd place out of it.

The gap between the two back to back races was longer than usual as the race officer repositioned and reset the course to accommodate the veering wind. I managed a much better start this time, followed by a good beat that saw me first to the windward mark. The rest of the hour was a continuous tussle between myself, Burt in his OK, Jonny and Emily in their GP14 and Monty and his crew in an RS200.

The OK and RS200 both slipped past me but I got back past the OK again and stayed close enough to the RS200 for the rest of the race to beat them, after adjustment for handicap, and take 1st. There were only 11 seconds of adjusted time separating the front three boats however, so it was a near thing and far from a comfortable win. Which is my favourite kind of race.

So it was a great day's sailing, despite my shambles of a first race. The day was only tarnished by the small matter of me misplacing my car keys. They have a Bluetooth tag attached to them, so should be easy enough to find (you can guess from that this is not the first time it's happened), however the tag proved to be a waste of time.

I spent the best part of an hour after the racing trawling through my bag and my pockets, retracing my steps to and from the beach, checking my pocket again, my bag again, and generally trying not to work myself up in to a state. 

In the end, I stripped my wetsuit off and hit the showers, thinking that once I'd gotten dry and dressed I'd call dad and ask him to pick up my spare key from home and drive it out to me.

I don't actually know how many times I'd checked and rechecked the front pockets of my jeans over the course of that hour as they'd hung, forlorn, on the hook in the changing rooms. But it was as I was pulling my jeans on after the shower, resigned to the indignity of having to admit to Dad that I'd lost them and the inconvenience to both him and me of having to wait for him to bring a spare set out to me, that I found them.

Snug and secure in one of the back pockets. 

Sometimes I despair of myself.

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