Unexpected pleasures

There has been a lot of talk recently about the unseasonal weather we have been experiencing here in jolly old Blighty. Snow, rain and high winds have been wreaking havoc in various parts of the country for several weeks, despite the arrival of spring. It would seem that someone forgot to tell mother nature that winter is now over!

I have heard it said that we Brits have an unhealthy preoccupation with the weather. Admittedly, for those foreign chappies for whom the weather is predictable and stable, it may seem a little strange, but for those of us who have grown up with our island’s unpredictable and rapidly changing weather, it is a natural topic of conversation.

Well, the bottom line here is that the Easter weekend weather has been appaling. If I had entertained any plans to spend time in the country, then they would have been completely spoilt. Luckily for me, I had made no such plans. To be brutally honest I am not a great one for the Bank Holidays. There are far too many tourists everywhere for my liking, so I usually spend these weekends either at the Club or with friends. I had not made any arrangements for this particular Easter weekend and had thought I might spend it with Hope. However, like so many others who run their own business, she said that she would be opening the gallery on the Friday and Saturday. I was a little disappointed by this, but I do understand. As she has already pointed out to me, she has invested everything in the business and cannot simply shut up shop whenever she feels like it.

So, rather than heading out of the City to escape the hoards, Hope suggested that instead, we join them and spend some time taking in some of the attractions our hometown has to offer. I have to admit that my initial reaction was one of horror. The very idea of becoming part of the herd goes against every instinct for survival and I have studiously avoided the more tourist orientated parts of town for far too many years for me to feel comfortable making a return anytime soon. But, it was what Hope wanted to do, so, being the gentleman that I am, I acquiesced to her wishes with minimal fuss, although to be totally honest I did not have any alternative suggestions to make. I should have been better prepared!

So, as Hope busied herself at the gallery, I spent most of Friday and Saturday with the chaps at the Club. Amongst the topics of conversation was the inclement weather we have been enjoying of late. It seems that I am not alone in believing that our climate was less erratic and wet in the past. Cambridge may well be right in apportioning this to rose-tinted memories, but for those who support the idea of climate change, it is another piece of evidence in the arguments for their cause. Well, whatever the reason, we were all agreed that things were not looking too good for the coming spring. The forecast is for more rain and cold winds, but I have never been convinced that these forecasters know what they are talking about. As I have said before, the British weather is notoriously unpredictable so I usually take their warnings with a pinch of salt. But it did make me a little concerned about Hope’s plans for us to venture forth onto the streets of the city.  Maybe it would not be such a good idea at all.

Anyway, I met joined Hope at her little flat on Saturday evening. It was actually a rather pleasant evening, devoid of both rain and the bitter Arctic winds that had been predicted, so we were able to take a leisurely stroll down towards the river where we stopped off for drinks before making our way to the lovely little brasserie we had previously visited for that rather ill-fated lunch with Emily. We had a lovely meal before making our way back to Hope’s for a nightcap. Shortly after our return, Charlotte arrived, looking rather the worst for drink and announcing that she was going to stay with friends for a few days. As she wobbled rather precariously towards her own room, presumably to pack a bag, Hope switched instantly from pleasant girlfriend to fiercely defensive mother. It was almost like someone had tripped a switch inside, which I suppose someone had – Charlotte. She squeezed my hand, gave me a quick smile then strode off towards Charlotte’s room with a look of steely determination in her eyes that would have made even Aunt Murdock flinch. Realising what was probably about to take place, I retreated to the kitchenette, poured myself a glass of wine and made for the lounge window, ostensibly to take in the view of the street below, but also to position myself as far away from the outbreak of mother-daughter hostilities I could hear brewing across the hall.

That, I suppose, is one of the great drawbacks of living in a flat. No matter how well proportioned or superiorly furnished, one could never get very far from one’s fellow occupants. In some I have visited, even one’s neighbours can be heard quite clearly when in dispute. I have always found these kinds of occasions to be rather embarrassing, and none more so than when one is in the immediate vicinity of the protagonists. I did not hear all that was said, but it was, thankfully, a rather short-lived confrontation that ended with Charlotte falling into the most frightful sulk and locking herself in her room.

It seems that her contretemps with Charlotte had left Hope in a rather black mood, so I left very shortly afterwards, but not before arranging to meet again early Sunday afternoon. The weather was far from ideal for wandering the streets of the capital, but I found it surprisingly enjoyable. During the course of Sunday and Monday, we visited the Natural History Museum, the National Gallery and Covent Garden, as well as taking an unexpectedly enjoyable boat trip down the Thames. I have to say it was one of the most relaxed and interesting weekends I have spent for quite some time. Art may not be something I take a great interest in, but hearing Hope talk with such passion and interest, one could not help gaining some appreciation of the works we saw.

Amongst the things we discussed during our excursions were plans for our little weekend away in the Cotswolds. It’s a party of some kind being hosted by an old family friend and although I had been invited to stay at the house, I had already decided to stay at a nearby hotel. It is one I have stayed at on previous occasions and I am sure that Hope will appreciate it as much as I do. I have already booked her into the room next to mine. We have also discovered that our birthdays are similarly adjacent, mine on the 29th April, hers on the 28th. We have decided that we will celebrate them together by visiting the old family home for the weekend. Obviously, we will also invite Charlotte, should she wish to join us.

Having spent two whole days in Hopes company I was sad to take my leave of her yesterday evening. But alas, we both had work commitments that required our attention today. Personally, I would have been more than happy to have forgone my meeting with the finance chaps who seem to be running things at the office. I find their talk tedious and their manner generally condescending. I am aware that I may not have the firmest of grasps on economics and finance, but I do understand the importance of profits to a large and complex organisation such as ours. One of the things I have learnt from my weekend with Hope is that there is so much more to business and life than making a quick and easy profit. In fact, after this morning’s meeting, I have begun to think that I may need to make some changes to the old family business if only to make it easier for little old me to understand and manage.

But for now, it’s time to visit the Club.

Things are looking up

After several “dates” where things did not go according to plan, Hope and I finally managed to spend a whole afternoon and evening together with no interruptions, disasters or fallings-out. We met as agreed for a light tea before making our way to Westminster for a piano recital Hope had recommended.

Tea was in a wonderful little place Hope has frequented before, close to Covent Garden. Now I have never really understood the current fascination for these so-called afternoon teas where one is expected to nibble on miniature sandwiches and cakes that to me look like they are designed for children rather than adults. I always associate these affairs with genteel old ladies or pretentious young women looking to secure their place on the social ladder. But I suppose that as with many other things in life, it is almost as much about the ambiance and company one keeps than the food itself which I understand is not intended to replace a proper meal. In that sense, tea on Sunday was a very jolly affair and I have to admit that the food was exceptionally nice. Hope was in good spirits and seemed to enjoy hearing of my busy couple of days at Cheltenham races. I was very surprised to hear that she had not been to a race meeting since she was a teenager. I had expected that she and her former husband would have been regulars. I think that I will have to invite her to Ascot this summer as I am sure she should enjoy it.

After tea we made our way through the somewhat cold streets to the recital. I have to admit that although it would not have been my first choice, I enjoyed the performance immensely. There is something incredibly relaxing about listening to good music played well and I very soon found myself totally absorbed in the wonderful melodies. There was something almost magical about the atmosphere and by the midpoint of the performance, I found I had Hope’s hand in mine. I have no recollection of the moment we started holding hands; I can’t even recall which of us made the first move; it just seemed so natural.

Not for the first time with Hope, I felt a little like a schoolboy with his first crush. Holding Hope’s hand like that had such a feeling of intimacy that I am sure I must have been blushing.

We returned to Hope’s flat for supper and drinks once the performance was over. Charlotte was still in Manchester with her sister so we had the place to ourselves. And that is all I am going to say about Sunday evening. A gentleman does not kiss and tell.

I returned home yesterday morning to the news that dear old Aunt Murdock and Uncle George have decided to leave the city for a while and have relocated to their little summer place close to Brighton. It is a house owned by George’s family that they have been known to use on occasion, but not recently. Apparently, the old Mad Duck is none too happy with the social scene of Brighton at the moment, but she obviously needs some time to relax and recharge her batteries, so to speak. I will have to drive down to see them later in the week, should I get the opportunity.

I have to say that aside from my dear Aunt’s ill health life at the moment is looking particularly good. Obviously, the utter madness that the rest of world seems to be descending into is worrying, but I am sure it will all work out. All this talk of nerve agents and spies sounds more like a plot from a very bad book rather than real life. I will have to pop along to the Club tomorrow night and see what the chaps make of it all.

Back from the races

I have just returned from the races and what a jolly couple of days it has been. Initially, I had not planned to go this year, what with one thing and another. Then, on Thursday I thought, dash it, Cheltenham is always such a splendid affair, I really ought to go. So I did. Rather luckily I was able to find a room with my old chum Ashworth. He has a rather fine little place almost next door to the course which is jolly convenient. I have stayed with him before and I was more than happy to bunk up in one of his spare rooms.

As I had left it rather late to make the arrangements I was not able to make use of my usual room overlooking the magnificent lawns but had to settle for a view towards the trees and fields to the rear. Not that I spend much time in the room itself for anything other than sleeping, but it is rather nice great the morning with a fine view. But then again, back home in Kensington, my view is hardly scenic. At the front, we do have some trees that partly obscure the view of the High Street, but to the rear, it is all roof tops and tower blocks. Hardly inspiring I know, but it is home.

Ashworth’s place is always busy during the festival week, but this year there was actually quite a crowd, with any number of the old school gang popping in and out for drinks and a chat. Ashworth has a splendid little snooker room and a very well-stocked cellar. His family have been in the wine trade for generations and Ashworth himself has always been the person to call if drinks were needed, even at school.

So it has been a very pleasant and, I must say, rather profitable few days down at Cheltenham. Not only did I enjoy some very good company and sample some extremely fine new wines, I also had some luck on the old gee-gees. Thanks to some good advice from a few of the chaps in the know, I finished the event almost twenty-thousand pounds the richer. Now, this may not be a fortune, but it is probably the best result I have ever had at a race meeting. Not being a pundit myself, I generally consider myself lucky to come away having broken even. Last year at Aintree, after following some rather dubious tips, I ended the day several thousand down so this weekend’s good fortune more than makes up for it.

I am not a natural gambler, unlike my father. He was the type who would often spend large sums chasing the odds, either at the races or in the casino. But I have to admit that he was very good at it and although he was often on the losing end of a bet, on the whole, his losses were outweighed by his gains. I think it was that tendency to take risks against the chances of high returns that made him such a good businessman. He seemed to thrive on the uncertainty, a trait that I have not inherited. In that way, I am more like my mother, a little reserved and with a preference for small returns on certainties rather than venturing into the unknown.

Gambling is deeply embedded in our culture. It is something that we all do at some point, be it with a small bet on the Grand National or with one’s future when choosing one job or lover over another. But, like many other things we do, it can in many cases become a real problem. The excitement one feels when collecting the rewards of an unexpected win can be addictive. Whilst I have always been cautious about where and when I take risks, some of the chaps I know have not. I have seen more than one of my old school chums gamble away entire family fortunes, always in the certainty that they can win it all back on the next turn of the card or the next race. But the odds are always against the gambler and the end result is so often inevitable. In fact, one of my oldest friends got involved with some very unsavoury characters not so long ago in his desperation to fund what had become an addiction. It was so sad to see the state he got himself into. A couple of the chaps and I did our best to help him but in the end he got himself in too deep and wound up taking his own life. It was all very sad and is a reminder of how easy all that we have can be taken away from us.

Although he was a gambler, my father always followed his own rule, stop when you are winning and never try to reverse a losing streak. It served him well, and I have always tried to follow his example in that regard.

When I arrived back in town earlier today there was a message for me from Hope. It seems that I had overlooked to tell her about my little trip. It would appear that she had wanted me to join her for dinner yesterday evening as Charlotte was away for the weekend visiting her sister and she thought we could spend the weekend together. Obviously, I would have jumped at the chance had I been at home, but I wasn’t. I telephoned Hope as soon as I received the message and apologised for my tardiness in not telling her I had gone away. I have to say that I had expected a much colder response to my call, but she seemed quite relaxed about the whole thing and said that she had already heard about my little jaunt from Dorothy. My apologies duly accepted, we have arranged to meet later this afternoon for a spot of tea and a piano recital at some hall or other in Westminster. Now normally, I would have to say that these kind of events are not really my sort of thing, but I do enjoy a little Tchaikovsky every now and then, and I did want to see Hope, so of course, I agreed.

For now I really just get back to the dining room. Dorothy has decided to make us both a full English for breakfast and I dare not be late. I am going to miss these Sunday morning treats when she and Angela do finally get their own place. It is amazing how quickly one becomes used to this kind of thing.

Another date with Hope

I must say that had a jolly splendid weekend. Saturday itself started out a little dull but then I had my dinner date with Hope at her flat near Chelsea. I had decided to take some wine and flowers with me; my mother had always insisted that I never arrive for any kind of date empty-handed. Dorothy recommended the flowers – she even purchased them for me from a little florist she knows close the Kensington High Street. I am not one for flowers and indoor fauna, but they did look rather nice to me. I also decided to take along some wine. I chose a particularly fine 2012, Chateauneuf du Pape I had been saving for a special occasion. Not knowing what we were to eat I also took along a Chablis Grand Cry Les Preuses 2015, one of those pleasant wines that go with almost anything.

I had thought that Charlotte may have been there but she had already left for an evening out with friends so we had the flat to ourselves. I am not sure why but I had not up until that point considered that she might be as accomplished in the kitchen as she so obviously is with her art. She had prepared for us a truly amazing 3-course meal that would not have been out of place in one of the finer restaurants we have visited during our renewed acquaintance. The starter of Sea Bass on some sort of salad and avocado base was followed by a Chicken Chasseur that would have put any Michelin starred chef to shame. Apparently, it was made to her mother’s recipe and is something of an old family favourite. I can certainly see why. Desert was a very sweet but delicious Creme Brulee.

We had a jolly pleasant evening talking about anything and everything. I found myself talking quite candidly about things I have never told anyone else before. Things about my relationship with my parents and some of the less salubrious tales of my time at college. I am not sure whether it was the wine, the food or the company, but I felt more relaxed than I have done for quite some time. I left a little before midnight, shortly after Charlotte returned from her evening on the town. I might have stayed a little longer, but Charlotte was very distressed when she returned. It would seem that she had been at some kind of party for most of the evening at which she had met and then fallen out with some young chap she knows from college. I don’t think he is her boyfriend or anything like that, but I am not really very sure and in the end, decided that I ought to make myself scarce and let mother and daughter sort it out.

I had had a very nice evening indeed and was just telling Dorothy all about it over a coffee on Sunday morning. Now, Dorothy is a bit of an old romantic and as far as she was concerned Hope and I are now what she called “an item”. Whilst I am not sure that is entirely true, our evening together had certainly been both enlightening and enjoyable. We have not made any plans to meet again but I think I will call her tomorrow. I know she likes the theatre so I will get tickets for a show or something. I am sure Dorothy will be able to suggest something suitable.

This morning Dorothy informed me that she and Angela have found a suitable flat and are planning to move in over the Easter weekend. It goes without saying that I am very pleased for them both, I am sure they will be very happy.

If music be the food of love…

To say that the last couple of days have been enlightening is actually a little of an understatement. Any of my friends would attest to the fact that I am a man of simple tastes and am not inclined towards taking unnecessary risks. When I decide to try a new restaurant, I tend to do so based on either a recommendation or because of the reputation of the owner or the chef. I like to be as sure as I can be that I am not going to be too disappointed. And whilst I enjoy sampling some types of foreign cuisine, I do draw the line at all that spicy Eastern cooking.

I was well aware that by leaving the choice of venue for our dinner date to Hope I was taking an uncharacteristic risk. Whilst I was sure she would not choose something too outlandish, I was still a little apprehensive about what she had planned for the evening. After all, I had also agreed to accompany her to the theatre and again, I had no idea what she might have booked to see. Hope had arranged to pick me up in a taxi so I did not even get a clue to the location.

I suppose that I should have had a little more confidence in her understanding of me and the things that I like. She took me to a little place that I had heard of but never visited, possibly because of it’s proximity to the National Theatre and the clientele that such an establishment can attract. But good food is good food, no matter where one finds it, and I have to admit that Hopes choice of venue turned out to be an excellent one. The decor and atmosphere were clean and inviting and the menu simple but varied.It was all fairly traditional fayre, but fairly well cooked and presented. I chose a steak and a rather fine Château La Croix Fourney to go with it. Hope settled for Sea Bass which she assured me was very nice indeed.

Being the early evening I had thought that wherever we went would be fairly quiet, but in that I was wrong – it was a very busy service, due I believe to the majority of the clientele being on their way to the theatre itself. Which should have given me a clue to where we were going, but this didn’t actually occur to me until we were waiting for our deserts.

Over the course of the meal, Hope and I discussed our families, work and a little about our desires for the future. It seems that each time we meet I learn a little more about this fascinating woman. She was quite candid about her marriage which seems to have had some difficult times. Not that this is anything unusual; many of my friends have dealt with rocky relationships. I myself have experienced something similar but admittedly not to the same degree as poor Hope. I had not known Hope’s husband particularly well but he always seemed to me to be a decent sort of chap. Not exactly the sort one would expect to meet down at the Club, but decent enough for that. From what Hope told me, he was a good father and pleasant enough man, but he could also be a little domineering. He did not approve of her art ambitions which is why she did not open the gallery until after he had died.

Anyway, when we finished our meal and it came to settling the bill, I was in for another surprise. Not the bill itself which Hope told me was reasonable, but the fact that Hope herself insisted on paying it. Now, it has always been my contention that when one is taking a lady out for the evening, it is the man’s place to pay. That is what my mother always taught me and it is something I have always stood by. I suppose I should have expected something like that; Hope is, after all, a very independent woman who is used to doing things for herself. But none-the-less, it went against the grain a little to have a lady such as Hope pay for the meal.

My next surprise came after we left the restaurant as we made our way to the National Theatre. There is no mistaking the building itself; it has to be one of the ugliest buildings of its type in the world. I don’t think anyone in their right mind could ever consider this concrete monstrosity as anything other than what the Prince of Wales would call, a carbuncle. I cannot for the life of me imagine why the architects of what was supposed to be a prestigious centre for the arts should design such an eyesore.

Anyway, it turns out that Hope had purchased tickets for the current production of Twelfth Night. Now I am sure that most people who know me are aware that I am not exactly the bard’s greatest fan and ordinarily the thought of being subjected to an evening of one of his plays would leave me somewhat cold. But on this occasion, I was with Hope so was assured of good company at least.

As it turns out, despite the usual issues I had with Shakespeare’s language, I found I really enjoyed the performance. Before it started Hope told me to expect something unusual but at first, I didn’t realise what she meant. I have seen this particular play before – it was one that my mother took me to see once – but my recollection was a little vague so I did not immediately see what she meant. Of course, once she pointed it out to me it was obvious. You see, in this particular production, the part of Malvolio, written as a male character, was being played by a woman. From what Hope told me, the actress Tamsin Grieg is very popular. I had not actually seen her before myself, but she was frightfully good and highly amusing.

After the show I had Arthur pick us up and drop Hope off at her flat in Chelsea. She asked if I would like to join her for a nightcap, but I declined. It had been a wonderful evening full of surprises, but I was a little anxious not to spoil things. I can’t pretend to be a particularly romantic type and I don’t fool myself that I am any kind of catch. I know that Hope likes me, otherwise she would not have planned the evening we had just had, but I did not want to put myself in a position where I may say or do something embarrassing. Before we parted Hope invited me to join her on Saturday evening for dinner at her flat. Of course, I did not need to think twice, accepting the invitation with probably a little too much enthusiasm.

This morning I had a telephone call from my Uncle George to say that dear old Aunt Murdock was back in the hospital. Nothing to worry about apparently, but he thinks she will be there for a couple of days. It is obvious now that I am going to have to get used to managing the firm’s affairs on my own as she is definitely going to have to slow down. At the office, my secretary, Miss Drayton informed me that she was going on holiday for a couple of weeks with her boyfriend but had secured a temp to manage my affairs, such as they are. I have to admit that it had never occurred to me that Miss Drayton might have a boyfriend. In fact, I had never even considered her life outside of the office at all. I really must take more of an interest in future.

 

Thinking the unthinkable!

I spoke to Hope on Monday evening and she agreed to join me on my little trip to the Cotswolds next month. I have also arranged to meet her tomorrow evening for dinner and theatre. I have no idea what we are going to see – I have left that up to Hope – but I have asked that it isn’t one of those high brow arty things. I am not a regular theatregoer by any means but I do enjoy a comedy or a murder mystery. My dear old Aunt Murdock has often coerced me into going with her to see all kinds of shows, some of which I enjoyed, but most I found either infuriatingly self-absorbed or interminably boring.

Even at school, I had trouble concentrating when it came to literature and plays. Shakespeare was the worst. Now, I know that by saying this I am going to offend some people, but I can only say things as I see them. After all, we can’t all like the same things, can we? I mean, it would be a pretty tedious world if we were all the same. Dorothy is always telling me I need to broaden my horizons a little, take in some of what she calls “serious” theatre. Aunt Murdock has been saying the same thing for years, even going so far as to hoodwink me into attending some of these shows.

Now, I am well aware of the importance of William Shakespeare and his role in English literature. I have visited Stratford-upon-Avon several times and know how important a figure he is. I just don’t enjoy his plays. There are actually quite a few literary figures whose work I find either boring or unintelligible. I clearly remember my father insisting that I read works by writers such as Jules Verne, but they never really appealed to me. Each to his own, as they say.

I have to say I am really looking forward to tomorrow evening. Hope has told me she has somewhere special in mind for our meal. She has even said she will pick me up in a taxi so I will not even get any clues as to whereabouts we are going. It is all very cloak and dagger and quite exciting. I just hope that her choice of show is something suitable. A nice comedy would be good. Or perhaps an old-fashioned murder mystery. I have to admit that I have a bit of a soft spot for Agatha Christie type stories. There is a sort of comfortable familiarity with these types of plays. They don’t challenge ones intellect or expect one to look for hidden meanings. I just want to be entertained and the idea of having to decipher what is almost a foreign language makes the likes of Shakespeare more of a chore than a pleasure.

I had another busy day at the office today dealing with the property side of the family business. Aunt Murdock tells me it is the most profitable side our work, after the banking interests. Mind you, that term “interests” is one I use very loosely. Where I can see something tangible in the property portfolio, the whole banking side of things leaves me a little lost. It doesn’t seem to matter how many ways the banking chappies explain the way it all works, I just can’t seem to follow it. Fluctuating markets, CIFs, DTIs, Reverse Mortgages or Escrow Funds – all make no sense to me at all. I am finding dealing with the property and development side of things quite interesting. That is not to say I understand or agree with all the decisions made by others on my behalf, but I am much more comfortable with land and buildings than I am with money or people.

With Aunt Murdock’s current ill health I am having to consider my role in the business. It is obvious I am going to have to take on more responsibility, but I have to admit that the thought frightens me a little.

 

We just can’t cope with snow!

Like most Londoners, I have found myself badly affected by the weather. Coping with the vagaries of our island weather is very British sort of thing. We are generally quite good when it comes to drizzle, fog and occasional cloudy sunshine. Those we are very comfortable with. But when it comes to snow, particularly when it has the audacity to lay more than half an inch thick, then everything comes to a standstill. It seems that our smooth and efficient transport infrastructure comes to a crashing halt at the first sign of snowflakes.

But that said, it has been damnably cold this week. The Beast from the East the newspapers have been calling it, and a beast it surely has been. I understand that quite a few trains and the like have been cancelled and some parts of the north virtually cut off. But I am sure I remember much colder winters and certainly much deeper snow. As a child I would often be able to spend days on end tramping through the snow, building snowmen and hurling snowballs at my chums. There was actually something quite magical about the old estate covered in a blanket of snow.

I was actually a little disappointed that it was not like this last week when I was back at the old pace. Although it has to be said that too much snow can leave one a little isolated in the country, especially if the local hostelry is temporarily beyond reach. I remember one particularly harsh winter as a child when we were unable to leave the house for almost a week, the snow was so deep. My father was extremely frustrated and stomped about the house the whole time. He was never very good at relaxing I being away from work for more than a day or two was something he seemed almost physically incapable of doing. For my mother and me it was something of an adventure. With the grounds looking like a scene from Narnia, it was a very special time when I was able to spend the whole time with my parents without them rushing around, busying themselves with social engagements and work.

Despite the inclement weather I did manage to get down to the Club yesterday evening. I had expected it to be a little quiet, what with the snow and wind, but instead, I found the old place quite busy. I was joined for dinner by my old chum Cambridge, who it turns out has been staying at the Club for a few days. Something to do with faulty plumbing or some such. I found him in surprisingly good form. The last time I had seen him he was looking a little frail. But Cambridge is not the sort of chap to let a little thing like cold or flu get in the way of things.

After eating we adjourned t the bar where we walked in on a very interesting debate about the weather. It is not an unusual subject for the chaps at the bar, but this particular discussion had just moved on to the idea of global warming by the time we joined them. It is one of those subjects that comes up every now and again, with the two sides of the debate seeming to become increasingly irate. I rarely get involved in these debates as I feel that I do not know enough about the subject to form any kind of meaningful opinion. Not that this seems to stop some of the other chaps from wading in with their size tens and having their say.

But whether one is suitably informed or not, one cannot deny that there is something slightly amiss with the weather these days. Every year one reads increasingly alarming reports of record-breaking extremes; heavier than usual rainfall, stronger and stronger winds, more hurricanes than ever before, flooding and like. It really does paint a very worrying picture. But one has to ask, is this just a case of the media exaggerating events to fit their own agenda? Or is there really something behind all the stories.

I know that my father was very much in the doubting camp. He claimed that all the talk of global warming was total rot. He would often remind us of the really bad winters we had back in my younger days, and the droughts and water shortages that plagued the country for several years at a time. And what about those long past winters when the Thames froze over and they were able to hold winter fairs on the ice. No, to him it was all very clear and he would have none of it, despite what the scientists say.

And I have to admit that his argument was very persuasive and it was one I shared until very recently. That is not to say that I have completely changed my mind, but I am becoming more and more convinced that most of the people I hear opposing the idea of climate change are those who have a vested interest in the status quo. But I suppose that is true of anything, nobody likes change, particularly those who have something to lose by it.

Anyway, the talk around the bar became rather heated at one point, with some of the chaps claiming it is all a conspiracy and others saying that even if it was true, it won’t affect them so why worry about it. I may not be particularly knowledgeable about these things but I do think that when so many respected scientists are all telling you the same thing, it probably makes sense to listen.

I am not particularly happy when discussions of this mature get too heated, so I made my excuses and left. All the way home I thought about the various things that were said on both sides. Whilst I am not entirely convinced that there is a problem, one cannot ignore the weight evidence that says there is. I am sure the debate will rumble on at the Club and elsewhere. I wonder what Hope or Dorothy have to say on the subject.

Talking of Dorothy, she told me this morning that she and Angela have found themselves a flat and are planning to move in around Easter. I have to admit that I had hoped it would take them a little longer to find their own place. Purely for selfish reasons, I admit – I am going to miss them both. Although Dorothy has only been staying with me for a few months, I find it difficult to imagine the place without her. Although she tends to keep herself to herself, it has been rather nice just having her there when I need someone to talk to or to watch old black and white films with.

I haven’t heard from Hope this week. I presume she has been busy with the gallery. I did try to speak to her on Monday but she was out for lunch, I presume with a client. I have been invited to a bit of a do in the country next month and I would love it if she were able to join me. I am planning to make a weekend of it, staying at a lovely little place I know in the Cotswolds. I will have to try her again tomorrow.

This evening I am joining dear old Uncle George at his club for some kind of celebratory dinner. It involves some political chappies so it is bound to be a frightful bore, but one has to support one’s family.