My colleagues Tuckett, Stupot and myself are holed up in a Hilton somewhere near Warwick for a few days, for the biennial BSHAA Congress. The hotel is fairly average, and has designed their showers for people of average height. I found a letter on my bed on Thursday evening apologising that the bed linen had not been ironed. It looked fairly ironed to me, at least compared to my bed linen at home. Although all my other washable items are pristinely ironed these days. My washing machine has, sadly, spun its last 30 degree eco wash, and I have been seen traipsing down to my mother’s on a bi-weekly basis, clutching a bin bag of dirty washing. It reminds me of being a student, except that I never did that when I was a student, since home was several hundred miles away. So it reminds of me other peoples’ student experiences, really.
Once cleaned chez maman, I collect the clothes in neat colour-coordinated piles from her house. My clothes have never had it so good. I was tempted to phone John Lewis and ask them to postpone the delivery of the new machine, as this arrangement seems to be working quite well for me. However, I needn’t have bothered, as the washing machine delivery man threw up his hands (and quite possibly gasped “Oh, my!”) at the sight of my old machine, it still being plugged and plumbed, and declared that he couldn’t possibly unplug or unplumb it, in case he flooded my flat, or broke a fingernail. I would have expected someone au fait with washing machines to be able to safely eliminate the flood risk before unplugging an old machine, however, as it stands I am quite happy. The new washing machine is proving an attractive feature in my spare room, it having a largish surface on which to dump things, and mum is still doing my washing.
She hasn’t complained, yet, but then she hasn’t had anything particularly flavoursome to wash yet, since I haven’t been doing any exercise of late. CIA has been avoiding playing me at squash recently, possibly afraid of how hard I will be able to hit the ball with all my new-found weight behind the shot. I am developing a bit of a paunch you see. It is most distressing, and work trips don’t help matters much. Having resolved to put Friday’s large cooked breakfast, twin-dessert lunch, and sumptuous Thai evening meal behind me – despite all evidence of them still being very much in front of me, hanging over my belt in fact – I was enjoying my cereal this morning with milk so anaemic is must have been skimmed, looking forward to some toast. But then Tuckett rather cruelly thwarted my plans my mentioning how nice the sausages were, and indeed they were very nice, I could remember how nice they were from the day before, and in the face of this relentless taunting from my colleague I’m afraid I caved in and headed off to the cooked breakfast counter. Tuckett himself was cutting down in the breakfast department, having decided to forgo the toast this morning, which only left him with bacon, sausages, eggs, baked beans, mushrooms, hash browns, and possibly one or two other items that were buried under all that lot. An ascetic chap, is our Tuckett.
Friday night, after the aforementioned Thai meal in Leamington Spa, we retired back to the hotel bar for a nightcap, and an early-ish night. I found time to watch a DVD which chronicled the making of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album. Absolutely compelling viewing. Since my recent discovery of the joy of sitting down and deliberately listening to music, brought about by my ‘new’ turntable and amp, Rumours has rarely been off the deck. It’s one of my favourite records, and hearing the full story of the circumstances and atmosphere in which it was recorded only adds to its allure. For those of you who don’t know the background, Fleetwood Mac at the time consisted of five members: Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham. Mick Fleetwood’s wife was having an affair and he was understandably cut up about this. But his problems paled beside the others – Christine & John McVie’s marriage was breaking up – she was having an affair with the band’s lighting director, and Buckingham and Nicks were also a couple in the middle of splitting up. Christine McVie, Buckingham and Nicks were the main songwriters in the band, and so unavoidably most of the songs on the album were written quite directly about themselves and the other members of the band. And they were all quite heavily on drugs, which was de rigeur for the music industry at the time – even more then than now. What came out was a stunning album, which is still great over 30 years on.
What is it about creative genius that is so stimulated by raw pain and substance abuse? Almost makes me wish I had smoked a few joints when I was splitting with my girlfriends over the years. Who knows what would have come out when I sat down at the piano?
I said “almost”. Relax, mum.