Archive for January, 2007

Can this be right?

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

It’s Friday night and I am the equivalent of the little old lady driving home from church except it was the book club where in true Oxford style we’d been discussing modern French literature (and one of our number had read the book in the original French) Anyway, drink had been taken in the most moderate of fashions; a small glass of rose in my case and I’d turned down any top ups which was just as well. On a wide, well-lit road with about four cars on it I come across a middle England road-block and am pulled over by a policeman. I get out of the car and he asks me if I’ve had a drink (just a wee one officer) and if I smoke. Kind as it is of him to enquire after my lifestyle, healthy or otherwise, I was pretty put out to discover that I was expected to blow into a breathalyser. The first effort didn’t apparently work and I was gasping like a beached dolphin. I had to do the whole thing again n so I blasted till I was dizzy and the light went green. Then I was allowed home with a tube like a discarded tampon dispenser I’d been given “for a souvenir”.

My niece tells me that I the police can’t breathalise innocent ladies if they say they haven’t had a drink and aren’t tottering all over the place. Is this right? On Friday nights in Oxford I’d think there might be more to do. I found the whole thing strangely disturbing. I don’t like to carry on with the “respectable matron and mother of two” line as it is very unflattering I think but on the other hand I resent the apparent withdrawl of any of that old style assumption of innocence in one of greying hair (although obviously I dye it). I never used to be picked up at airports for example (apart from the brief period when I closely resembled one of the Bader Meinhoff gang, a notorious group of German anarchists taken to kidnapping and murduring people). My long-haired husband was always picked up but not me. Now, it’s me that’s picked up by hairy chinned women security officers at Chicago.

It’s about time I applied to Hell’s grannies I guess although I am not a granny as such. At least, I don’t think I am. But what do I know. Next time, and I recommend this, the reply to the drink question will be “just a little communion wine officer”.

The Joys of Undiscovered Places

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

One of the things that I miss from my party political days is the chance to travel to towns for conferences and meetings that otherwise I would have no reason to go to. Discovering Scarborough was a real joy (although I must admit I have never been back) This weekend I have to go to Tynemouth and have discovered that the guest house I’ve booked into was once the home of Harriet Martineau. I admit that I wasn’t too sure who she was which is a bit rough for a feminist person like me with major interests in poltical history, but have discovered a new life (or an old one) to explore. She sounds like my sort of a person. Perhaps I can add her to my fantasy historical dinner party. I already have Nell Gwynn and she might not get on with Harriet to say nothing of Sam Pepys and Henry Fielding. Still, if I lay on enough drink it could be OK.

Scarborough was a very good discovery. Great sweeps of beaches and excellent fish and chips. Birmingham, which as a Londoner I was almost incapable of visiting turns out to be a revelation. I got there because of a son at university and find myself planning weekends in Brum. I haven’t seen the art galleries or the Symphony Hall yet but I have seen the jewellrey quarter and Harvey Nicks. I’ve got Leeds to discover too now. Good oh.

Working out how to get from Oxford to Tynemouth I found out how it is almost impossible to book train tickets. Generally I avoid this by driving but just didn’t have the time. So I searched on line which offers all sorts of options including what seems to be the same ticket only one is more expensive than the others. Supersaver A, Supersaver B – what does this mean (apart from the possibility that my brain is addling) Awful and Brilliant? Anyway I’ve got a ticket; it makes me change twice. I’m baffled and feel like the grumpy old woman I am rapidly becoming. I can book flights across America with greater ease. If found wandering in Doncaster, send me home. I’ll sew a name tape in my gloves.