Yep, it’s July, already, and I can’t be the only one astonished at how quickly the year is galloping by. I am looking forward to the month – not only because it’s my birthday on the seventeenth and I have lots of things planned – but because I have booked the whole week off work and my very kind boss has thoughtfully made sure my days off fall at the beginning and the end of the holiday, so I have eleven days off in total. Nice.
It’s been quite a good week so far.
As I told you last time, Miss F and I went to live theatre for the first time in years last Saturday evening. It was nice if a little strange being with other people again other than in a work capacity. But the venue had put a lot of thought into arrangements, and it was table seating which you had to book in advance. All the tables were full, and staff were moving amongst them taking drinks orders. Miss F asked for a diet coke, and I treated myself to a glass of Merlot. Our drinks were placed before us just as the lights went down, a backing track started and then we were into the play.
As we watched, I sipped my drink – a glass of wine had cost as much as a whole bottle, so I wanted to savour it – but it was a little thick and seemed to have a gritty texture. Gamely, I persevered but as the first half of the play finished, I took another sip and ended up with what tasted like a mouthful of sour wood shavings. I discreetly spat them back into my glass as the lights came up for the interval and I got a good look at what I’d been drinking. I’d ordered a large glass and had drunk about three-quarters of it, but the rest of the wine left in the glass was a thick sludge of sediment.
I showed it to Miss F, and she rolled her eyes – please don’t make a fuss – she pleaded. What is it about teenagers and their horror of making a fuss, or worse, being with you when you politely complain about something?
The server came back to our table and asked if we wanted anything else. Well, I would quite like another glass of wine, I said, but you might want to check the bottle. I showed her the contents of my wine glass and she pulled a horrified face, took the glass, and scuttled off to have a word with her manager.
A minute later she was back, still apologising profusely, and saying that the Merlot had been taken off the menu (that helps me, how?) and would I like something else? I looked on the menu, the wine choices were limited so I chose a glass of white zinfandel and she hurried off to fetch it.
Bearing in mind I had paid a lot of money for the first glass of wine and had only been able to drink three-quarters of it, plus had had the unpleasant experience of a mouthful of sludge, I expected the second glass to be on the house. But no, she came back with the second glass of wine and the card machine.
I opened my mouth to say something but caught Miss F’s eye and thought better of it. We were having a nice time and I didn’t want to spoil it, so I swallowed down my words and again paid the equivalent of a whole bottle for a glass of wine that I don’t particularly enjoy.
Then we watched the second half of the play. The play was great, and it was nice watching live theatre again, but I had forgotten how annoying other people in the audience can be and how some think it’s okay to talk all through the performance and have no concept of an “indoor voice”. There was a table of three older people in front of us and one gentleman on that table just would not shut up! Every couple of minutes he was commenting to the other two in a very loud voice.
If I’d been alone, I would have sshhdd them, but I wasn’t, so I didn’t. Walking home though, I did say how annoying they had been, and Miss F agreed how rude it is to go to something like that and be unable to keep your comments for the interval and after the performance.
But she would have killed me if I’d said anything to them!
I have heard nothing from my old energy company other than an email informing me that the direct debit has been cancelled – yes, I know it has because I bloody well cancelled it – so I’m wondering if that means they’ve given up and gone away. Maybe they’ve decided it’s not worth taking me on for the sake of £62.
I’ve also had three very good days at work. I managed to scrape by my monthly target by the skin of my teeth and at the eleventh hour on Sunday, which was satisfying. Then Monday and Tuesday were good days, nice customers, and juicy sales – if only it could always be like that.
When I got home Tuesday, there was a brown envelope lying on the table from H.M. Revenue & Customs. Oh, bugger, I thought, what now? Any correspondence from them tends to be unwanted and unpleasant so I opened it with caution. But it wasn’t unpleasant or unwanted at all, no, it turns out I’ve paid too much tax and am owed a refund of £206. Very nice. If I did nothing, the letter informed me, I would get a cheque in about six weeks. However, if I applied online for it then I would receive it directly into my bank account within five days. Hmm, whichever one shall I choose.
Wednesday was a day of clearing the decks, of sorting out all the niggly bits and pieces that had to be done because I was hopeful of finally beginning book thirteen on Thursday. I also applied for my tax refund online. Jeez, they don’t like to make that too easy, but after going around in circles a couple of times, I finally figured it out so hopefully, I should have the money in my bank account by early next week.
Then Thursday I had to take my car to the mechanic to get two new tyres and for them to investigate where the scary rattle was coming from. I had thought it was coming from the engine, but I now felt it was coming from underneath me instead. Anyway, I left the car at the mechanics and walked home via the pharmacy to pick up my hayfever meds; a friend’s house to drop off a DVD I was lending her, and the shops.
By the time I got home, it was lunchtime and then it was gone two and I was thinking, we-e-e-ll, it’s too late to start writing now, perhaps I should leave it until tomorrow, but then something inside me slapped my lazy arse and ordered me into my chair. Start! The voice insisted. It doesn’t matter if you only write a few hundred words, just start!
So, I started, and it was like opening the floodgates. By the time the garage phoned at four to tell me my car was ready to be collected, I was very surprised to realise I had written 4900 words! That’s not bad going, even by my standards, and I was pleased with the words.
This is going to be book three in The Perennials Trilogy. Primarily Rose’s story, it will also feature Lili, Jake, and the rest of the gang and there are quite a few loose ends to tie up as it’s the final book. It’s also going to be a big book – I estimate anywhere between 150,000 to 175,000 words – and it’s booked in with Platform House Publishing to be formatted, have the cover made, all the promo images, plus the video, in early November, so, no pressure then. To non-writers that may sound like plenty of time to write a book, but it’s not, it’s really not. Especially not a book this size. But I keep reminding myself that I didn’t start writing Black Ice until mid-August last year, it was published on the 30th of November, and it was a 150,000-word novel with over forty pages of illustrations to source and insert – so, I’m hopeful. It can be done, so long as I knuckle down and write my fingers to the bone.
Not expecting her to agree, I asked Miss F if she wanted to walk down to the garage with me, and to my surprise, she said yes. Mind you, I did offer to buy her a Belgian bun from Greggs to eat in the Abbey Gardens on route by way of an incentive, or bribe – whichever worked.
It was a glorious afternoon and there were a lot of people milling about. It does still feel strange being in large crowds, even a little scary. Not much social distancing was going on and masks were only being worn in shops, not outside, as they once were. Everyone seems very relaxed about the whole pandemic now. Maybe it’s because the vaccination programme has been so successful, or maybe it’s because people can only be afraid for so long before normality takes over.
Anyway, I bought Miss F a bun and I bought myself an ice cream cone and tried to eat it as we walked towards the gardens. I’m not very good at eating when I’m walking – especially over uneven paving with a rather large ice cream rapidly melting and running down my sleeve!
We reached the park and sat on a bench, and I attempted to be ladylike with the ice cream. I think I must have failed though because when I got undressed that evening, I noticed big splotches of ice cream all around the hem of my jeans. I must say, it was probably one of the best ice cream cones I’d ever had. Gorgeous, proper, creamy vanilla ice cream, a chocolate flake, cream-filled wafer tube, plus a generous portion of lemon curd sauce, yum.
We sat for a while, people watching, and being watched in turn by a curious squirrel. I think he might have been hopeful of having some ice cream but no such luck, I ate it all, sorry Mr Squirrel.
As we walked up to the garage, Miss F asked how much it was going to cost. I thought about it for a moment, potentially two new tyres, labour, plus whatever the rattle was, and then VAT on top – I figured I’d be lucky to get away with £150 possibly more. She pulled a face, well, that’s your tax refund gone, she said.
Only one person was allowed in the garage at a time, so Miss F waited outside while I went in. The receptionist handed me an envelope containing the invoice and went to fetch the car key. Holding my breath, I slipped the invoice out and squinted at it. I didn’t have my glasses on, but I thought it said £62! No, it couldn’t be. Surely, it cost more than that.
Nope, it was £62. The spare tyre in the boot had never been used and was still in good condition, so they put that on. The best of the two old tyres coming off went into the boot as a spare and they put a new tyre on. And as for the rattle? The heat shield had come loose, and that was it! Yay, thank you universe for being kind to me for once.
I could feel the difference. As we drove home the ride felt smoother, less jouncy, which I guess was because of the new tyres.
We had more good news this week. Miss F finally heard from the university – she’s got the accommodation she wanted, so she was over the moon about that, and we’re now all set for our road trip oop north next week to tour the campus. We must take Covid tests before we’re allowed on the tour, which I’m not looking forward to. I’ve never had to do one before, but they look horrible. We then must submit our results to the government website. We’re going to do a test run first today. I do not want to get up there only to find the tests don’t work or we can’t submit the results for some reason.
Things seem to at last be going my way! All I need now is for the local council to pay me the discount for sole occupancy which I have retrospectively claimed for the last six months – I emailed them about it on the 28th of May, no reply, so I have emailed them again. If I haven’t heard anything by next Friday, I will see if I can telephone and speak to a real human being. I’m harder to ignore on the phone!
It would also be great to hear from my insurance company that the claim is finally sorted, and my policy excess is going to be refunded to me. I can’t believe a tiny claim for £255 for an incident that happened in January is taking so long to be settled. It’s not my company, it’s the insurance company of the Yodel delivery driver dragging their heels and trying to deny responsibility. Just man up and fess up. You had an accident and hit my car, it happens, that’s what we all pay insurance for and it’s not like it’s for thousands, so I can’t understand why it’s all taking so long.
Anyway, that is all my news for this week. As I said, not a bad week, in fact, quite a good one. Maybe the wheel of fortune has at last rolled and it’s my turn to be on top for a while. I’m at work Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, and then we’re off on our road trip, so my evenings are going to be busy preparing and packing ready for the off mid-morning Wednesday. We’re only staying one night and should be back late Thursday afternoon, but it’s going to be so great to get out of town for even a day or so.
When we get back, I have Friday off – but that will be taken up with laundry, housework and writing my blog because I’m at work Saturday and then I’m off for my holiday. Eleven glorious days of no work – just writing, reading, and seeing friends and family for multiple birthday shenanigans.
I Cannot Wait!
Have a great week everyone and wherever you are, stay safe and stay healthy.