Working the night shift.

It’s 1 o’clock in the morning, and I’m on after-hours support, waiting for The Phone Call which lets me know that it’s time to check stuff on the mainframe. The Phone Call was supposed to come at around 11 – but I’ve been told that there are delays, and that I won’t be hearing from anyone until at least 1.30. So I might as well bash out a rambling blog post to pass the time and keep me awake.

What can I tell you? Well, yesterday was a nice day out. K and I took a day trip from Derby to London, to attend my aunt and uncle’s Golden Wedding luncheon at the Savoy Grill. The train arrived 40 minutes early in London (I know!), which gave us an extra hour to kill – so we swung by the National Portrait Gallery and went to see the David Hockney exhibition, all smartly togged out in our best suits. Does Hockney count as High Art? I don’t know; there’s something lightweight and decorative about him, and I’m not sure that he particularly Illuminates The Human Condition with any great profundity – but it’s pleasantly familiar and diverting stuff, which lifted our spirits. The usual cast: Celia Birtwell and Ossie Clark, his grey-haired mam looking a tad self-conscious (and latterly a bit doolally), various handsome young men with brooding eyes, that bearded New York art bloke whose expressions give nothing away.

For the luncheon, we found ourselves at the next table to Preston from the Ordinary Boys, who was on Celebrity Big Brother this time last year. You know, the one who married Chantelle, the non-celebrity winner. She wasn’t there – but no need to alert Heat magazine for a scoop (“PRESTON AND CHANTELLE: IS IT OVER?”) as I think she was doing Celebrity Big Brother’s Little Brother at the time, so maybe Preston was just kicking his perfectly formed little heels in town with his man-friend. Yes, that would be it. He’s skinny and slight, and hence right up K’s alley. K chose his seat well, and got to gawp at Preston all the way through the meal. I was happy for him.

Our golden wedding present to the aunt and uncle was a bottle of 1956 Armagnac, so they could have a taste of the year they were wed. (The anniversary itself was December 29, but they were cross-country ski-ing in Austria at the time, which isn’t bad going for two people in their late seventies.) They seemed delighted with it. My cousin was there; she’s a Something at the House of Commons, and K was duly invited to take the personalised access-all-areas tour of the Palace of Westminster which was such a highlight of 2006 for me. (Clambering onto the roof for great views and an up-close-and-personal with Big Ben; necking a quick post-adjournment pint in the surprisingly cramped and unadorned Members’ Bar with the MPs; standing at the dispatch box in the debating chamber and pretending I was running the country.)

K flies to Florida on Friday for the big annual vets’ conference – and so, rather than being stuck on my own at home over the weekend, I have decided to pay my dear friend and erstwhile midweek drinking buddy Reluctant Nomad Alan a visit in Amsterdam. It will only be his second full weekend there, and so everything is up for discovery. Hopefully we’ll get to hook up with Caroline Eachman (née Prolific) as well. Introductions are better when they’re face to face.

I have just received my first interview assignment from t’local paper. I’m going to be interviewing Will Oldham, aka Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, in advance of his Rock City gig on the 23rd – which will also be the first date on his first tour of England in twelve years (Scotland and Ireland got him last year). Gulp. Better start genning up, then.

I spent the earlier part of the evening assembling the tracks for next month’s instalment of the Which Decade Is Tops For Pops project, which will be entering its fifth year. I had got it into my head that this year’s crop was going to be a total shower of shite – but, actually, it’s not too shoddy after all. Two of the tracks from February 1987 have been disqualified, as they are 1960s re-issues that were being used on TV adverts, and so I have substituted the songs at #11 and #12. The 1967 selection is pretty decent, the 1977 selection markedly less so (punk/new wave had yet to cross over commercially, and disco was thin on the ground that week), the 1987 selection is more nostalgic than I was expecting, and the 1997 selection is all grown up and credible, thanks to that brief period when Radio One also decided to be all grown up and credible.

It is now 1:40, I am all rambled out (there’s only the stuff about our forthcoming Nottingham kitchen refit to tell you, and I don’t propose to bore you with the details), and the Big Call has not yet happened. If I wander outside for a crafty fag, it shall surely happen, and so I shall try and induce it via the power of nicotine. So let’s do that.

No editing, no revisions, no sprucing up. Totally old school. G’night!

Update: The Big Call has been put back to 2.30. Thank goodness for the 250+ spam comments that some kindly passing Italian has just left me to deal with. Couldn’t have happened at a better time!

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