Thursday, 28 May 2009
Here we are, the morning after. I put the bin bags and recycling box outside the front door - the air smells fresh, the wind riffles gently through my dreadfully unruly hair, and a new metaphorical dawn has broken. I don't have to do any revision today! Or tomorrow, or the day after! The trampoline glints in the sunshine, speckled with bird poo and purple grains of ceanothus blossom, enticing me to come out and have a little bounce. So with all the wonderful opportunities of a few days when I can just decide to go outside and enjoy myself in the sunshine that is forecast, I sit at my desk and turn the computer on.
Yesterday was brilliant, at least after 10.30 a.m. Before that I had the usual 6 a.m. start to make sure that even if I was delayed an extra 90 minutes on the motorway I might still make it in time for the exam. This is more of a gesture than a real precaution, because on the two occasions I've actually been delayed on the motorway, I was more than two hours late each time. The exam wasn't very pleasant because of its format as short compulsory questions, but I won't dwell on that. Afterwards I went with Dipti to the gym at the local Hilton hotel where she swam and I didn't, then we went together to meet an old friend of mine and have lunch, then we picked up some more marked coursework and went home.
Mr A was looking and feeling cheerful, which was nice. We had booked a rare dinner out at our favourite Stratford restaurant to celebrate my freedom, and then paid a visit to the Cricketers just because we could. A big European football match was on, which meant a very full noisy pub, but the end where you can't see the TV was nice and empty for us.
It was the second trip to the pub this week - we dropped in on Monday for the quiz. It was a very good idea, because it got us both out of the house and we always meet all sorts of people who are happy to talk about nothing and take our minds off whatever's going on in the real world. There was a oldish man we didn't know who started chatting, and told us a great deal about the drugs he likes, while occasionally mentioning that he doesn't do that much any more. But LSD is great, and he likes cocaine too. Our neighbours H and K dropped in, and then someone else they know who has a very senior job at Jaguar. Meanwhile, we were trying to achieve greatness at the quiz.
Even with help from friends, the bar staff and at one point from the quizmaster himself, Team Next Door couldn't repeat its winning form. The key seems to be in the picture round: on the occasion that we won, the pictures were of authors. The other time we played, they were word puzzles, and our team did quite well that time. This time, there were twenty pictures of people who had won Reality TV shows. I think we got just one answer ourselves - we couldn't even think of the names of twenty different shows, let alone recognise the faces of the winners. The round on sport and leisure was similarly hopeless. But for our £2 entry fee per person, we got a bowl of chips and chicken korma at half time, a consolation prize of a bag of chocolate-covered peanuts, and a great deal of social intercourse and entertainment.
We often reflect happily on what a difference it can make when a pub is run properly and enthusiastically. The latest news is that Smurf has bought a number of Cricketers-branded hoody-style sweatshirts, apparently so that smokers can borrow them to wear when it's a bit cold outside. Last weekend he knocked on the door to let us know that there was going to be a party with a barbeque in the beer garden, and to ask if it was OK for them to have music out there. We said yes, and two minutes later he came back with a bottle of wine for us.
Today I turned to the list of stuff I have been jotting down over the last month: To Do After The Exams. The most pressing task is to get my hair cut to a length that eliminates the 'electrocuted monkey' look. Weeding and pruning in the garden, a new broadband contract, tasks in town that Lola II has been saving for me until the exams were over, like picking up clothing from shops that don't have the right items in the London branches she has visited. I'm going to do some cooking! And clear the drain from the shower, look hard at our financial situation from every angle, and perhaps even get my hepatitis B antibodies checked now that I've completed the course of vaccinations.
I'll be going to London to catch up with Lola II and see her Extremely Tidy Flat that's now on the market. Most exciting of all, Mr A has organised a short trip to Devon, where we will be visiting two lots of friends, and camping. It should be a wonderful, relaxing break, and if the weather is good then that will be an extra bonus.