March 1st, 2015



Thursday felt like the first day of Spring but yesterday was as wintry as you could wish. We went to Deal but didn't see as much of it as we'd have liked owing to the rain and fog. We had lunch at a tandoori restaurant where (this is getting to be the norm) we were the only customers.

Look Deal up on Wikipedia and you find quotes from Defoe, Cobbett and Dickens all saying what a godforsaken dump it is. These days it's just quaint. Once it was a garrison town, full of soldiers, sailors and smugglers; now the barracks have been carved up into luxury apartments. We decided we'd add it to the list of towns where we'd be happy to go house hunting.

Nelson buried a young officer of whom he was fond in St George's churchyard in the centre of town. A contemporary account describes him leaning against a tree, openly weeping, like the man of sensibility he was.

St George's churchyard, Deal


My mother takes the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph- and spends the mornings poring over them without comprehension. This morning she's been asking me about a headline in the Sports section. The wrong man was sent off in a match between Sunderland and Manchester United. "But did they put it right in the end?" she inquires, hopefully. And I say, "It's a football story." "Yes, but did they put it right?" So I explain what  happened while wanting to roar, "You're not interested in football; I'm not interested in football. Neither of us has ever been interested in football".

Otherwise I do the cryptic crossword and my mother- with assistance- sometimes does the quick one. I have to confess I leave the assistance to Jenny or Kirstie; I don't have the patience. Occasionally in the evenings I'll flip through the news section. Peter Oborne used to be good value in the days before he quit in righteous indignation. The obituaries can be amusing.

The weekend papers come with all these supplements none of us look at- which are mostly advertising for houses, clothes, men and women- all the commodities of Vanity Fair.

Day after day the newsprint piles up. Great wodges of it, accumulating on every surface. I wonder how many tons pass through the house in a year. Keeping on top of it is a chore- and the box the Council gives us for recycling is hardly big enough to take it all.  Some of it- and for this I'm grateful- comes in useful for lighting bonfires and wrapping cat shit. It's hackneyed to regret the waste of trees- but I do.

"Can you explain this?" asks my mother. It's half an hour later and she's still on the Sports section. "They sent the wrong man off," I say. "It's a football story."