My fabulous week.


You know it’s Autumn when the Monday morning journey back to Nottingham takes an hour and twenty minutes. I blame Derby. More specifically, I blame the University of Derby – who have installed queue-building gatekeepers, checking everybody’s ID upon entry – and the dreaded traffic lights at Five Lamps.

As usual, I dozed off from the minute we hit the A52, the new Lindstrøm album (beautiful, atmospheric, custom-built for travelling) ably soundtracking my dreams.

An interview opportunity with Kim Wilde materialised. I’ll be talking to her next week. Perhaps I’ll ask her for some Autumn gardening tips.

The usual Monday night telly: University Challenge (there’s usually at least one contestant per week with “Just K’s Type” written all over him; he likes them pale, skinny and earnest); Only Connect (a delightfully old-fashioned lateral-thinking panel game on BBC4, of which my late grandmother would have approved – especially since it’s hosted by the daughter of her beloved Alan Coren); the last part of that police thriller with Juliet Stevenson in it (CBATG the title, but K loved the book).


For various reasons (a poorly Plus One; no room in the newspaper; a declining interest in the band), I gave the Hot Club De Paris gig a miss. Another telly night ensued. Not the most memorable of days.

Oh, but wait! I forgot! Today was the day that I discovered the Best Bottled Beer Ever: St. Peter’s Golden Ale, which is brewed near Bungay in Suffolk and comes in rather beautiful oval bottles. I’ve been going through a major Bottled Ale exploratory phase lately, and this really is the best that I’ve tasted.

Update: Having just fished the empty bottle out of the recycling bin, I now realise that it was the Organic Ale, not the Golden Ale. Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience caused.


After much diddling around with calendars, I finally sorted out the rest of this year’s holidays: a series of long weekends, stretching from early November to the start of January. For nine consecutive weeks, I’ll be working four days or fewer. There may be trips to London. There may be podcasts. I might even buy some new clothes; my trouser situation borders on the disgraceful.

Subscribed to a couple of new blogs: Advanced Style (a photo-blog dedicated to snappily dressed senior citizens in New York City) and Musicophilia (absolutely superb extended MP3 mixes, compiled with skill, passion and exceptional attention to detail).

As has become customary, our team (myself, LB, Sarah, Suburban Hen and SwissToni, aka The Shadowy Cabal) thrashed the competition down at the LeftLion Pub Quiz, romping home to victory for the sixth week running.

(If truth be told, it has all got a little embarrassing – but what can we do? Accept bungs to throw the match?)

There was, however, one question that no-one in the pub guessed correctly.

“What eight-syllable word will get you automatically fired from the BBC if you use it on the TV or the radio?”

I’ll stick the “answer” in the comments.


Thursday was not the greatest of days. Work-wise, it was a day of chasing impossible deadlines, of trying to accommodate shall-we-say challenging last minute demands, of fevered instant messaging, dizzyingly complicated phone calls to the US, hold-your-mouth-right conference calls, of cock-ups averted, of managers placated… in short, the sort of day which would have stressed me to breaking point a few years ago, but which I seem to be able to cope with pretty well these days. Keep calm, take notes, don’t be afraid to ask questions, hold your mouth right, adopt a tone of unflappable authority, and you’re halfway there in this job.

(Sidenote: I was browsing through some of my archives this week, and was surprised to find several references to a tendency to self-subordinate in work-related or semi-formal situations. Surprised and also rather gladdened, as it dawned on me that, somewhere along the line, self-subordination has ceased to be a problem. 46 years old, and I have finally mastered the art of self-confidence! Such progress!)

The day’s biggest disappointment: having to turn down a last-minute interview with Mary Wilson of the Supremes. Dammit, I just know she would have been good value. Always the most “real” one, the tell-it-like-it-is one, and the best singer to boot. Instead, I had to content myself with feeding questions to Simon, chasing that “additional research by” credit.

The day ended on a suitably crappy note, with SwissToni and I – hot, tired, bored, pissed off – bailing out of Rock City fifteen minutes before the end of the Seasick Steve show (see below), only to stumble into an ugly drunken brawl outside the Rescue Rooms. Once inside the bar, we observed a couple of trendy student DJs on a retro-ironic kick, playing George Harrison’s “Got My Mind Set On You” and Dire Straits’ “Walk Of Life” to their equally trendy mates.

I always swore that Dire Straits were ironic-revival-proof. Clearly, I was wrong.

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