Wednesday, February 27, 2008


In the middle of the night:

Emma: (startled) What was that?!
Shane: (woken) What?
Emma: That noise. Something fell. What was it?
Shane: (lying) I was awake. I didn’t hear anything. Go to sleep.
Emma: (turns over, falls asleep)

Next morning:

Emma: In bed last night – the earth moved.
Shane: That’s very kind of you, but maybe you exaggerate.
Emma: Not you, you idiot!
Shane: Self-service?
Emma: What! It was an earthquake – which you missed - even though you were ‘awake’.

I turn on the radio – Radio Five Live from the BBC. I have it confirmed that the standard British response to an earthquake is to make double entendres.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Saturday (Whitby, Day 2).

Both slightly dehydrated, we awoke at around 8.30am. Quick showers were followed by breakfast – big, English, uncomplicated, fuel for the day.

We were the last to depart the dining room.
Emma returned to the bedroom as I took a short walk to the car to fetch boots and maps and important things.

A sunny day, the abbey just visible on the horizon.

An important man of Whitby…

We don’t talk about William Scoresby Junior - eejit.
I approached the hotel.

We decided to walk to Sandsend. Heading north along the beach, the map suggested that we would find the village of Sandsend at the end of the… yeah.

A walk to the beach…
Ah, the grim pub from the crawl that dared not speak its name. How come we didn’t see the sign that said ‘Live Entertainment – Big Screen Sports – Late Bar’? If only we’d known! Everyone knows that that’s code for ‘Bar for Young Stupids’.

A fruiterer does what a fruiterer does best... a fruiterer fruits.

Looking towards the old town…

Along the harbourside…

A walk along the beach…

And most gorgeously...

Our destination – the Sandside CafĂ© at Sandsend.

And well worth the walk too.

All wholesome and wonder, we set off to return along the cliff-top.
But lo, what’s that?!

It’s a dead bird in the sidings.
And what’s…?

Ah yes, safety advice. Good.


Shane: We gotta get outta here!
Emma: I think we’ll be ok.
Shane: That’s very brave of you, but we can’t be so sure. Here, pop this helmet and vest on – there’s a love.

Closer to town, we relaxed a little.

It’s the rule, you’ve got to take this picture (whale bone, allegedly)…

And more opportunistically…

Off-season, roaring trade. One had to admire their work (and had done so the previous evening - see fish stain)...

And thence, we did roll back to the hotel for a couple of hours of lazing – sleeping, reading trashy magazines, getting the football scores and a call to my parents to arrange lunch the following day. We would meet roughly half-way, in the seaside town of Saltburn, though where exactly I did not know, as I didn’t know the town.

Saturday evening saw us take a meal at an Indian restaurant on the harbourside – the restaurant name eludes me. Though there were classier-looking joints, Whitby had given us appetites for hot food. It was good, we were good, and back to the hotel.
Sunday followed, in the way that it generally does.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008



Emma and I drove up to North Yorkshire for the weekend. Crossing the North Yorkshire Moors, I noticed a sign that read ‘Hole of Horcum’. Remembering this from a map, I wondered out loud as to the what and the exact whereabouts of ‘the hole’. ‘Mm, dunno’ mumbled a tired Emma, as I glanced across at her and:

Shane: Aaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhhhh – I think I’ve found the hole!
Emma: (looking left) Bloody hell! That would be the hole.
Shane: Dizzy!
Emma: Keep looking ahead - and slow down.
Shane: Ok – slow down – look ahead… Oh my god I think my heart is going to pop out of my chest. My stomach’s gone all tense. Aaaaarrrrggggghhhhh – nightmare vertigo-driving-high-up-by-a-big-drop-with-no-barrier-or-wall type-scenario!
Emma: Don’t over-react.
Shane: I can’t breathe.

Anyway, we arrived in Whitby at around 6pm. As Emma was paying, I didn’t mind the cringe-worthy chandelier.

As neither of us drink very much or very often, we decided to throw on big thick woolly jumpers and go out on a pub crawl – with real beer.

We eventually settled in the corner of some harbour-side den, and listened to a young singer lady.

During a break in the performance, Emma insisted that I go and chat with the singer – spread the love and all that. So I did. As we chatted, As I chatted, the young singer achieved that look that people possess when they’re thinking ‘Are you a mentalist? You’re not from round here, are you?’ I wished her well, then moved away.

Emma: Say anything interesting?
Shane: She doesn’t know any Damien Rice, she used to know a Tori Amos song, no to U2, used to know REM’s ‘Electrolite’ – it got embarrassing so I stopped making requests. She only gigs around Whitby as she can’t drive cos she’s got dodgy eyesight. She also works as an alternative therapist, and she looked generally very scared of me.
Emma: You sound like you’re having one of your autistic nights.
Shane: Shall we get more drinks?

Emma spotted a fish stain on my big black coat from where I’d earlier dropped some of my takeaway fish. (During that purchase I learned that the Whitby fleet had already reached many of their quotas for whitefish, thus, the much-vaunted ‘local fresh fish’ was being imported from Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Oh, and that the ‘Woof’ is a catfish).

We drank a bit more then returned to the guest house.

Emma brushed her teeth as I watched the end of Newsnight Review on BBC2.

Slipping into bed, all set for relaxation and what have you, I was but moments from a horrible flashback to my earlier hole trauma. Ho hum.

(Saturday to follow)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Five books down, two to go.

Alex and Emma had just read Chapter One of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I turned to Alex for a summary:

Shane: What was the first chapter called?
Alex: 'The Other Minister'.
Shane: What happened?
Alex: The Minister for Magic - Cornelius Fudge - he visited the Prime Minister.
Shane: To warn him about Voldemort?
Alex: Yeah.
Shane: Mm. So if that had just happened, that would mean that the Minister for Magic would have spoke with Gordon Brown - cos he's the Prime Minister at the moment, isn't he.
Alex: Yeah.
Shane: But if it was a year ago, then the Prime Minister would have been...?
Alex: Elvis Presley!
Shane: No - but close. I think it would have been Tony Blair.
Alex: Oh, yeah-.
Shane: Mm.

Hey, it was a simple mistake.

I turned back to my newspaper to read about the latest infernal policy initiative from that imbecile of a Housing Minister, Celine Dion.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


I met Roy and Barbara, our neighbours-to-be.

Roy: …so your pitching in would be marvellous – a real treat. Can’t say we’ll pay you, but you can call it god’s work - helping us next door will be like helping him upstairs!
Shane: Just as long as you don’t ask me to shift any valuables, I’ll be happy to help.
Roy: Valuables? Ha! Listen to ‘im - he clearly doesn’t know us, eh Barb’.
Barb.: (sneezes) Whew! Excuse me. We’ve got a lot of clutter – books mostly, decrepit shelving and units – in fact, decrepit a lot of things. The only valuables, really, are the laptops and one or two family bits and pieces. And anyway, from what I’ve seen, one or two bumps during removals is about the norm.
Shane: You’ve moved a lot?
Barb.: I’ve moved… this’ll be my… fifth move in ten years. And it’s much the same for you isn’t it?
Roy: Yeah – different moves, but yeah, five or six.
Shane: You’ve been together for…?
Barb.: It’ll be our fifth anniversary on March 1st – of living together - we’re not married.
Shane: (slight frown)
Roy: We get frowned on quite a lot - due to the collar – people seem to think that because I work for God, we should be married –
Barb.: - and that I should be staying at home, baking scones and arranging flowers all day – which I’m sure would be all well and good, but it would hardly pay the bills.
Roy: It is a bit different though. As soon as people hear that I work at a prison, they take it to be ecumenical make-believe – but it’s certainly not that. Still, we all have our prejudices.
Barb.: We do?
Roy: Yes, we do – often petty and of no harm, but prejudices all the same.
Barb.: That’s a bit sweeping.
Roy: And it’s true.
Barb.: Says who?
Roy: Would you like me to get you started on Manchester United - here in front our new neighbour?
Barb.: (laughing) No, better not. (sneezes) Excuse me.
Shane: You like football?
Barb.: I love football!
Shane: Team?
Barb.: The Quakers.
Shane: Darlington?!
Barb.: You know them?
Shane: In passing. What is someone with your accent doing supporting Darlington?
Barb.: Now there’s a story!
Roy: A long story! Shane, would you mind if we don’t go there right now? It’s been lovely meeting you – and I’m sure it’ll be good to meet Emma and Alex, but we’ve got to get back for a telephone meeting – a small project that we’re working on.
Shane: No problem – we can talk again.
Barb.: Yes, better be off. Lovely to meet you.
Shane: And you.
Barb.: And maybe we’ll see the cat next time.
Shane: How –
Barb.: Allergy.
Shane: Ah. Yes, he’s probably upstairs on one of the beds.
Barb.: It’s a hard-knock life.
Roy: We’ll give you a knock, then – a week next Saturday – though you’ll probably hear the rumble of the lorry.
Shane: Ok. I’ll see you anon.

And that was that - nice people, interesting people, happy people – good sorts – pleasing additions to the neighbourhood. I hope.