I have a couple of lessons in the morning, the first one is with Shadreck. I got an email from him telling me that he has postponed his test until the beginning of November, and could he book a lesson? His driving is better, by November he might stand a chance of passing. A few more lessons, an early finish, and home.
Tina and I spend a quiet evening, and I receive a lovely email from Carol with some poems by Thom Gunn. Here's one:
A Map of the City
I stand upon a hill and see
A luminous country under me,
Through which at two the drunk sailor must weave;
The transient's pause, the sailor's leave.
I notice, looking down the hill,
Arms braced upon a window sill;
And on the web of fire escapes
Move the potential, the grey shapes.
I hold the city here, complete;
And every shape defined by light
Is mine, or corresponds to mine,
Some flickering or some steady shine.
This map is ground of my delight.
Between the limits, night by night,
I watch a malady's advance,
I recognize my love of chance.
By the recurrent lights I see
The crowded, broken, and unfinished!
I would not have the risk diminished.
I collect Ashley for his second test at 9:30. The examiner was Gordon, a lovely big Scottish man who isn't often at Basingstoke. Ashley didn't want me to sit in the back so I go for a coffee with an AA instructor. A nice bloke, with a very shaky hand. I hope he's OK but I don't mention it. He tells me about tests of his which the examiner has abandoned, and also that the last six tests he's presented have failed. I sympathise. Back in the waiting room, Renata (another instructor) also has tales of abandoned tests. To be honest, I would be mortified if the examiner though my learner so bad that they stopped the test. Each to their own...
Ashley gets back and Gordon calls me over to the car to hear the de-brief. Ashley passed - phew. Gordon and I exchange pleasantries, and I take Ashley home. At lunchtime, I see a new customer, Umar, a very nice man.
In the evening Tina goes out with a friend, and I watch a bit of football on the telly and retire early.
An early lesson with Ashley, who managed to get a short notice test for tomorrow, then home. Tina has left for work, Les is emailing in the kitchen. I drop Les at the station for her 10:35 train. I'm sad to say goodbye, and ask Les to let me know when she gets home.
Stuart's lesson at lunchtime goes well. I see Kolachi at 3:15, then head home. As I drive down Winklebury Way, I see a familiar figure cycling ahead of me. I drive alongside, open the passenger' window, and ask Tina how the new bike is. Good, apparently. That's a relief :) We spend a quiet night - dinner and a little TV.
She's marvellous, especially when talking about Martin Gardner...
Check the link to Nina Paley in the YouTube page. And thank you Andy Williams for the singing - hope you r.i.p.
A quiet morning, Tina opens her cards and presents. Lesley is due at the station at 12, and I ask Tina if she minds collecting her, along with Joyce. While Tina is out, I get her bike from Tim's garage and put it in ours. Pink ribbon all over it, and a label, just right.
It's good to see Les, we chat in the kitchen, then the four of us go for lunch at the Fox - where they have a sign proclaiming "The best Sunday lunches in Basingstoke." It isn't too bad, either. Roast dinners all round, nice vegetables, attentive staff.
When we get home I put Tina's bike in the utility room and wait for her to find it. Eventually she does, then goes for a spin up and down the road outside the house. Ken and Carol call, we have cake and play Scrabble. Fun.
Later, when it's just Tina, Les and I, we watch "The thick of it" on TV - very good, as usual.
Happy Birthday Tina :)
We're up quite early and I go for a run just before eight. The sun is low in a beautiful blue sky, and the green grass is bejeweled with dew. I cough and splutter a bit on my way round, but I think my cold has nearly run it's course.
Chris rings in the morning, and the four of us cycle out to Overton for lunch. There is a charity shop in aid of the local hospice, and Chris and Tina spend quite a long time browsing. I say quite a long time; while Nigel and I were waiting outside, a couple of glaciers passed down the High Street.
Later in the day, Jim E pops round with birthday gifts for his sister. It's good to see him, we chat for quite a while. Mike rings up, it's so nice to hear from him. His knee is getting better, and Jenny's back problems aren't so bad at the moment.
Around seven we drive to Ken & Carol's and take them to the pub at North Waltham, the Fox. We have a good evening, chatting and joking. At some point, Carol asks us to rotate our right foot in a clockwise circle. Then at the same time, draw a six in the air with our right finger. It's impossible to do both tasks at once! Who'd have thought. I then get Carol to do a circle in front of her with her thumb. The circle is perpendicular to the body, with the thumb moving toward and away from the body (if you see what I mean). Then do a circle with the other thumb, in the opposite direction. Very difficult, too. A man from another table tells Tina and Carol how they were amused watching their antics, and trying them out themselves. We toast Tina's health, and retire homeward.
Didn't watch match of the day tonight. Saints lost, away at Everton. It could be a very long season.
I sleep well, but am up early. After making Tina a cup of tea, I check the news on-line. There is yet another story about economic growth rates in the news.
I don't get it. Our politicians are leading us to hell in a handcart - or in a nice shiny BMW 3 series if the aspirations of people in this corner of the planet are any indication. The world population of humans is shooting up at an exponential rate. We are constantly evolving new ways of wasting the limited resources we have at our disposal. It is generally accepted that the climate is changing because of human activity, and the consequences are still largely unknown. Even the most die hard climate change sceptic has to accept the destruction of other species and habitats. Surely the only long term solution to the needs of humanity on this planet is to gradually contract?
Not if you listen to any politician, either here in the UK, in Europe, North America, the BRIC nations, or anywhere else in the world, with the exception of a few Pacific islands who are about to disappear under the waves. Listen to our leaders and you will be left with the impression that growth is the only way forward. According to these fools, only when the economies of the world are back on their feet will they start to even think about the huge issues facing us. In short, our governments are powerless to stop capitalism rushing headlong to who knows where. Like a jockey on a run-away horse, all they can do is hang on and hope. Desperate to cling to power, they won't adopt any policy which might turn the electorate against them.
What I find really sad is that the few enlightened individuals who do try to make a difference are often mocked for their convictions. I long to hear a politician who will stand up and state what they believe in, and not be swayed by ill informed public opinion. Some hope ;)
I always think that (to take one example) encouraging people to adopt low energy light bulbs while allowing aviation fuel to remain free of tax is playing a deluded tune on that old fiddle while the flames engulf us...
While I'm on my soap box, there is a truly sad news story today about plastic waste in the Southern Ocean in the Antarctic. A research ship has found microscopic plastic particles in the sea at a concentration which compares to the rest of the world's oceans. These particles will enter the food chain with unknown consequences. "Would you like a bag for that trivial purchase?" "No thanks!"
I feel better having got that off my chest. There's a lot more but I don't want to alienate anyone... You've just ordered your new Audi? Oh well ;)
I am also acutely aware that earning my living sat in a car burning fuel all day is hardly environmentally friendly. I'd rather not do it, but I do like to have a roof over my head. So, to be honest, I'm as bad - if not worse - than everyone else. Except I beat myself up over it :)
A couple of lessons in the morning then I meet with Yvonne at her Dad's house. Graham was 90 last week-end and looks remarkable well. Yvonne wanted to meet my dad so the two of us visit Basing. Dad is OK today, we chat a bit and then help him to the table for lunch. Yvonne and I go to the Bell in Odiham, and have a beer and a sandwich.
Later, I collect Tina's bike from Winklebury Cycles. Gary is chatty as always, and shows me a new electric bike. The motor is in the front wheel hub, the battery on a small rack at the back, and the power only kicks in when you pedal. He encourages me to try it out outside the shop, it's great. A bit weird at first, but really effective when you get used to it. I manage to get Tina's bike home and secreted away in Tim's garage before Tina gets home.
Gareth Malone tonight on the TV - still just as good.
I arrive at Natalies' house at 8:25 and to... I'm getting a real sense of deja vu here. Natalie also passes. She asks me to sit in on the test, unlike Ben. Unfortunately, Natalie only makes this this decision when the examiner enters the waiting room and asks her. I spend the test with my legs crossed in the back seat.
I have a cancellation in the middle of the day, and pop into town. A couple of lessons in the afternoon, then home. Tina is at home already, which is nice. She has Pilates in the evening, then we watch the second part of "Room at the Top" - very good.
I arrive at Ben's house at 8:25 and to cut a long story short ( I can do it, I CAN), he passes his test. Phew. I see Natalie, his sister, next. She has her test tomorrow, and goes on a sort of melt down today. We stop the lesson, I drive her home, and say I can see her later, after my lunchtime lesson. When I do see her, she has settled down, and things look a bit more hopeful for tomorrow.
I phone Jim, who is after ideas for presents for Tina's birthday. He has an exam tomorrow, and is studying hard. Home before Tina, who has had her hair "done." I remember to compliment her :) Extra Brownie points there... I wish I had hair to be "done." I rather fancy a pony tail, Status Quo style.
There is an adaptation of John Braine's "Room at the Top" on the tellie in the evening. I'm sure I've read the book, but the plot is lost in the mists of time. It works well on the small screen, and it's only in two parts, finishing tomorrow.