On the road to Brighton

brighton_pierWell,  what a day yesterday was. I had arranged with my godson Nigel that we would take the Bentley for an airing and visit an old family friend in Brighton. It was something of a last minute decision, partly as an excuse to get out of the house, but also to get some more information for my family tree research.

Nigel arrived a little after 9 o’clock which was much too early for me; I was still finishing my breakfast. So, whilst I got myself ready, Nigel did a little work on the computer. I presume he was doing some research in preparation for our little chat later on with old Mrs Dalton. Whatever it was, he was very quick because he was switching off just as I entered the room.

The drive down to Brighton was the usual mix of frustration and boredom. I find that driving just isn’t any fun anymore. In fact, I refuse to get behind the wheel in the city these days. Which is a shame because I used to really love driving, particularly in the old Bentley. It was my father’s car and it was the first car I ever drove on the open road on my own. When I first started learning to drive my parents bought me a very nice little car, a Ford Escort. It was fine for learning in, but once I had passed my test I wanted something a little more substantial. Rather reluctantly my father allowed me to take his Bentley out for a spin, and it was an eye-opening experience. Cruising around the open country roads gave me a sense of power and freedom I have not found doing anything else. This freedom was the one advantage of living on the family estate, a million miles from civilization.

When I moved permanently to London I bought myself the Daimler for getting around town. I know it’s a little on the large side, and definitely not the most fuel efficient of cars, but for comfort and, let’s be honest, prestige, it is hard to beat. But driving through the busy city streets is about as far removed from those early drives through the country roads as you can get. I became increasingly frustrated by the traffic, the endless road works and the poor standard of driving I encountered. The city is full of incredibly bad drivers and they appear to be getting worse. Not only do they seem to meander about aimlessly, changing lanes in a seemingly random fashion, but more and more drivers are seemingly intent on committing hari-kari. And what is it with all the changes to the roads? Hardly a week seems to go by without something changing. It seems like they are creating new one-way streets and installing new traffic lights on an almost weekly basis. I just can’t keep up with it all. Mr Arnold has in effect become my chauffeur, getting me to and from wherever I need to be.

And now, even out of town, things are getting much worse, particularly the standard of driving. The roads between London and Brighton are fairly good these days, but for me, the journey was far from fun. Obviously, the Bentley is the type of car that is capable of great speed and does command some respect from other road users, but there are a growing number of people who have very little respect for anyone else, and none at all for the rules of the highway. I lost count of the number of times much smaller cars fairly whizzed passed me, even though I was driving an exactly the speed limit. Maybe it is the car itself that encourages people to want to turn every journey into a competition. I must admit that in my younger days I may have been tempted to join the race, but I learned my lesson long ago. Losing one’s licence once may be considered slightly careless, but by the third time, one has to consider it time for a change.

Despite the horrendous traffic, we arrived in Brighton in good time, stopping for lunch at a little Bistro close to the promenade that I have visited several times before. I often find that dining out in places such as Brighton can be very tricky unless you know what to look for. In that way, I have been lucky to find a couple of very fine establishments that serve a respectable selection of dishes. Yesterday we settled for seafood, something of a speciality for the area. I know that Brighton has a bad reputation in some circles. Certainly, it can be a little rowdy at times, but I find that lunch in the right places can be a very acceptable way to pass a congenial hour or two.

We met with Mrs Dalton in her home close to the seafront where she regaled us with her memories of my mother’s family. I hadn’t seen the old dear for almost 30 years and I was surprised by how old-looking she had become. Old and frail she may be, but Mrs Dalton’s mind is still as sharp as a knife. She was able to provide a wealth of information about my mother and her family, things that I hadn’t known or had any interest in before now.

But before we left to come home, Mrs Dalton hinted that there was something else I needed to know, but that I would need to ask my Aunt Murdock about it. It sounded all very mysterious and a little exciting. Nigel tried to press her into telling us more, but she wouldn’t, just saying that it wasn’t her place.

Thankfully, the journey back was uneventful and I was able to make it to the Club early enough for several frames and a drink or three.


Never again!

I was due to go to the office this morning, but as I awoke unable to move any part of my body, I have had to give it a miss. When I went to bed last night  I was very tired and a little stiff. This wasn’t surprising considering my visit to the gym in the morning.

But when I tried to get out of bed this morning, stiffness had been replaced by rigor mortis! I couldn’t move any of my limbs, my neck had set and my back felt like someone had strapped me to a pole. I had to get up, if only to go to the bathroom, but try as I might, I couldn’t sit up. In the end, the only way I could get off the bed was to shuffle towards the edge, let my legs swing over the side, and propel myself into an upright position. I managed to wobble to the bathroom, and with some struggle did what I had to do before shuffling my way back to bed.

I have never felt so much physical pain in my life. Every part of my body seemed to be either on strike or in rebellion against me. I decided that the best thing I could do at this point was to go back to sleep in the hope that with a little more rest I would feel better. On the plus side I did sleep some more, but on the negative side, it did nothing to alleviate the stiffness and pain that was making any movement extremely painful, if not impossible.

Eventually, the need for breakfast forced me to once again make the painful journey from quilt to carpet. Once I had managed this I then had to face the Herculean task of putting on my housecoat. Getting my right arm in wasn’t too much of a problem, but then trying to manoeuvre the left resulted in several further expletives and not inconsiderable pain before I was successful. At this point, I was beginning to think I should have stayed horizontal. The thought of trying to get dressed filled me with a terror I had not experienced since I was a small child.

All I had to do then was go downstairs. This did not seem like it was going to be too bad. Or at least, so I thought. Almost as soon as I descended onto the first stair I realised my mistake. This was going to hurt! The only way I was going to make it all the way down was by taking the stairs one at a time. About halfway down the is a full-length mirror. I have often thought of moving it as I find it a little disconcerting at times, but have never got around to it. Why my mother chose to put one there I will never know. As I approached it I made the mistake of watching my painful descent. And I must admit that if it had been anyone else hobbling down the stairs I would have laughed. With both legs locked straight and my back unbending, I looked more like Herman Munster than the suave man-about-town. I have no idea how long the descent took, but it felt like an eternity, and I was very close to shedding a tear along with the colourful language that followed me down.

Once seated at the breakfast table I was able to relax and enjoy a much-needed cup of coffee while Mrs Kaczka fussed over me like I was a sickly child. Now normally her over attentiveness can be somewhat irritating, but for once, I accepted the attention gratefully. By the time I finished my first cup I realised that there was no way I was going to be able to work this morning. I am not even sure I would have been able to make my way to the office, at least not without attracting unwanted attention. Moving about was painful, but eventually, I did manage to loosen up enough to have a shower and get dressed. And all this because I had agreed to try out the gym.

Well, I can tell you now that I am never going back there again. Why on Earth would anyone want to put themselves through this kind of torture every week? As far as I can see it does a lot more harm than good. I have spent the whole day recovering and for what? What possible benefit could there be to justify what I have gone through today?

Dorothy came home shortly after lunch. When I told her how much I had been suffering she just laughed at me. According to her it just goes to prove how much I need the gym. Apparently, the more exercise you do the less painful it gets. She also predicted that it would be a lot worse tomorrow! I am not ashamed to admit that this last little gem of wisdom very nearly brought a further tear to my eye. The thought of going through all this again tomorrow was just too much. I had hoped that Dorothy would be more sympathetic to my plight. I was obviously mistaken.

My big worry at the moment though is how I am going to feel by Saturday. I am taking Hope to Cambridge’s little soiree and I had hoped we might take the floor for a dance or two. But I am feeling anything like as bad as I do today, I will instead be staying at the table and leaving the dancing to others. Which would be a shame as I am rather partial to a good dance. Not the modern jiving and jiggling around; no, I enjoy real dances like the waltz or the foxtrot. That doesn’t in any way imply that I am an expert or anything, but I did learn to dance at college and it is one of those activities I really do enjoy on the rare occasions I get the opportunity. My mother was a very good dancer but my father refused to take part, so I would often partner her at balls and events. I like to think that I cut a rather fine figure on the dance floor. Mind you, I don’t know if Hope is interested in dancing, but most women are, aren’t they? I suppose I will find out on Saturday.

Thinking about Saturday reminds me that I really must visit my barber tomorrow, providing I am physically capable of leaving the house. A good cut and shave will set me up very nicely. One wants to look one’s best for these big social events, and I wouldn’t want to let Hope down.