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Friday, August 6

I Went Home / To My Parents...

...depending on how you look at it.

I had a few days off work at the start of the week beginning 20th July, and decided to pop back to my parents' house in my home town (Melksham, AKA The Sham) for at least a couple of nights.

I packed a suitcase full of things that I knew I wouldn't be taking to Germany, put some clothes in a backpack, and headed to Victoria Station on the Sunday evening to catch the coach home.

It was fucking hot, and I was sweating like a bastard (i.e. a lot) by the time I got on the coach. My bottle of water lasted a matter of minutes, I was that hot.

I managed to read a good deal of my book (Bill Bryson's Short History of Everything) on the way back, as well as listen to a shitload of tunes. I love my iPod!

When the coach pulled into the Market Place at Melksham, my Mum was waiting for me (I'd phoned to say we were 5 minutes away), and she gave me an almighty hug. It'd only been a couple of months since I'd last seen her, but evidently she was glad to see me.

Almost as soon as we got home, I settled into the old routine of having meals cooked for me and having 700 channels on the TV. Much better than 5...

I don't remember anything of note from Monday daytime, save for watching Old School on DVD again. My parents have recently entered the modern age by getting a DVD player, but they cannot leave the past behind, as it is combined with a VHS still. Old fogies...

In the evening, I managed to get hold of a few of my mates and to drag them up the pub for a beer or two. It was good to see them again, and to catch up with what is happening in a few of their lives.

One of them, Mace, slipped the idea into my head of staying in the Sham until Friday, so that we could re-experience the joy that is Thursday nights at Buds. Damn him for that.

Although I wasn't due to work again in London until Friday night, I was planning to go to a bloggers' meet-up on Wednesday night in a pub just off Piccadilly Circus. Admittedly, the last one had been a bit of a damp squib, but I was hoping for a better time this occasion.

He says, eventually deciding not to go at all. Yes, my weakness for getting pissed resulted in my staying at home for a few more days. That and seeing my parents for a little while longer.


On the Monday afternoon I was in the supermarket with my Dad, buying some stuff for an impromptu barbecue, when I happened to bump into not just one, but two of my very closest friends from the Sham.

I've probably mentioned this before, but back in Melksham I had very two distinct groups of friends. There are the guys, my typically blokey mates, who I've seen more of whenever I've been back from university.

Then there are the girls and guys from my other groups of friends. We found each other when we were about 14 and were put into the same classes based on ability. We used to do absolutely everything together, but I've mostly lost touch with them since we went on holiday to Newquay almost two years ago, immediately before dispersing to universities across the land.

As I said, I'd already seen most of the 'boys' on Monday, and had half-planned to go out with them on Thursday, but I hadn't built into my rough plan for the week any time to see the latter group of friends.

This all changed when I bumped into a couple of them in the supermarket. One I hadn't seen for a good 9 months, the other for over double that amount of time. We were all in a bit of rush, so I arranged to meet them at our old local pub on Tuesday night, along with as many as could be contacted by then.

I texted a few people that evening, and found out that a good number of them had already planned to meet at the same pub that very Tuesday evening. Half of my job done for me: result.

There were indeed a good number of us there on Tuesday, some of whom I'd seen in April, but others not for over a year. It was a little weird how quickly we fell back into the old routine, referencing old in-jokes and past events. I guess people don't change too much. They're still the same people I remember from our school days, just with a little more experience of life and a touch more world-weary.

One of the few of them that lives in my area of town was kind enough to give me a lift home, back to a house with all the lights off. My parents and sister were obviously in bed.

I was feeling quite drunk, which is unsurprising considering I'd had a good 6 or 7 pints (possibly more, I don't remember). Strangely, though, just as I was about to sit down to watch some TV, I felt very ill.

I rushed to the toilet, and promptly threw up.

I fucking hate being sick, and I'm only sick due to alcohol on extremely rare occasions, often accompanied by paralysis or blindness. Oh, and a runaway tongue.

My sister came down the stairs to see what all the fuss was about, and I remember clearly one sentence I said to her: "Don't tell Mum."

That would be as my Mum was standing behind her, then.

It seems I'd even woken her up with my retching. I told her, with slurred speech, "Don't worry, these things happen."

I was reminded of this over and over again on Wednesday, and no matter how much I tried to explain that I hadn't drank all that much, everyone in my family thought I'd got absolutely lashed. Meh.

I swear it was something in the beer, or possibly even something I ate, because I didn't feel too special in the car on Wednesday morning. Not in a hungover way; this was more of a feeling-really-bad experience.

I was in the car because we were having a Family Day™ on Wednesday. It was just about the last time for 12 months that all 4 of us would be together, and my Mum was determined that we should do someTHING together, rather than lazing around the house in various rooms.

We ended up going to the Fleet Air Arm Museum, about an hour away from Melksham. I'd been there years ago, probably whilst still at primary school, but I had no problems going again.

The museum is full of aircraft from the Royal Navy, including some very old ones, and makes for an interesting day out, especially if you're as into planes as my Dad is. I am too, to some extent, but my sister definitely isn't.

She was bored out of her mind within 5 minutes, but thankfully didn't moan (too much). My Mum showed willing towards the exhibits, but I think she was quite happy with the fact that we were all together. As I mentioned, it's probably going to be the last time for at least a year...

I spent Wednesday evening trying to arrange lunch on Thursday with another (female) friend that I hadn't seen in a while. I was doing it by text whilst in the living room with my parents, and I playfully wound my Mum up a bit by mentioning that it was a girl.

My Mum is overly inquisitive, especially where my (lack of) love life is concerned, and I knew that giving her the smallest morsel of information to go on would annoy her greatly, especially if I refused to give any further details.

I'm a git like that. I wind my Mum up in a jokey manner all the time when I see her. She knows I'm doing it, but still can't stop herself from creating the situations from which I mock her / wind her up a little. She'll learn.

That lunch on Thursday didn't happen in the end. She had too much work to do and couldn't get away from her desk to meet me. Meh. I'll catch her at some point.

Instead I watched Matrix: Revolutions for the first time since its opening day in cinemas last November. I won't go into it here, but suffice it to say that it's still jaw-dropping.

My parents had decided to have another barbecue, and to that end had also invited my Granddad over. He arrived whilst I was still upstairs watching the film, but was in the kitchen with my Mum by the time I got downstairs.

Whilst I do enjpy spending time in my Granddad's company, there are times when I'd rather be doing other things. He can talk the hind legs off a donkey, and the subject matter is always negative. For the past few years, his major bugbear has been "druggies".

I think my Mum must have mentioned to him a while back that I knew a few people who had smoked / did smoke weed, and that I'd been around them as it happened, since he tends to bring up the topic every time he sees me. I have very little new to say on the subject, other than such things as "Yes, they are normal people. No, they are not permanently spaced out. No, I've never tried it", etc, etc.

This time, however, was different. The big local news story (and national if you read the right-wind newspapers) was of the squatters who'd moved into an old lady's home in the city of Bath, because she had moved into an old people's home elsewhere.

Both my Granddad and Mum were up in arms about this, seeing it as yet another blow against an Englishman's right to protect / keep his home.

What followed is what Mrs Merton would term "a heated debate" on the whole subject. I was defending the squatters' position somewhat, mainly by explaining the state of the law properly, which the sensationalist news stories tended to leave out.

I was also having a massive go at Tony Martin, again having had the benefit of reading the actual Court of Appeal case, rather than the Daily Mail version of events.

The conversation got very, very heated at some points, with exasperated faces all round when certain points were raised. Before it could erupt into physical violence (surely only a matter of time?), we agreed to disagree.

The barbecue went off without a hitch, if you discount the fact that we held it during a torrential downpour. Only the British...

And then it was off to get pissed!

I'd spent much of the day frantically ringing and texting as many of my mates as I could get hold off, trying to get everyone to our local pub before heading into town.

In the end only 5 of us made it there, but we had a couple of swift beers before starting the 1½ mile walk into the town centre.

What we needed was sustenance for such an epic journey.


It's 1am, I've finished typing up what was in my notebook, and it's time to go to bed. I've got work tomorrow, don't you know?


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