Sunday 5 January 2014

Black Shorts

Another day another dollar. I am back in work tomorrow, refreshed after an enjoyable and varied break.

Like last year we spent Christmas in Bristol including a marathon walk up to posh Georgian Clifton, across the Suspension Bridge into Somerset, along the rough path in the woods on the west bank of the Avon, and back through the old docks.

I am fond of Bristol and I like its people. To judge by their museums and tourist information the local authority is quite exercised by the fact that the sumptuous municipal, commercial, ecclesiastical and academic infrastructure of the city was built on the proceeds first of slavery and latterly tobacco. But the population seems unworried, not unreasonably as they can hardly be held responsible. Of course Bristol has modern problems to address (see this post) but that's another matter.

On Boxing Day I look around the sales in Broadmead. This quickly begins to feel like a mistake as I join crowds of depressed families roaming endless racks of shoes and frocks, most of it just so much dross.

But then I stumble on a small independent outdoors specialist who has in stock a pair of size 13 Brasher Hillmaster walking boots. My old pair of Brashers - the Rolls Royce of boots - is over 20 years old and has, I calculate, enabled me to walk about 8,000 miles, or from St David's to Constantinople and back twice, but they are now finally falling apart. I didn't want to buy on-line in case they didn't fit so this discovery was heaven-sent (and they were on offer too). It seems disloyal to chuck the old ones away but perhaps I could hang them outside and plant flowers in them?

On to London where we enjoy lunch at Jewish deli Mishkin's just off Covent Garden (embarrassing that I didn't know what a "slider" was - apparently it's a small hamburger but you probably knew that - although I did know that a "sandwich" in American English is the filling between the bread and not the whole thing like here).

Mrs Blog has the strongest Old Fashioned in the history of cocktails (a Mishkin's speciality) which helps her to enjoy the show afterwards.

Jeeves and Wooster with Stephen Mangan and Matthew Macfadyen starts a bit clunkily as they set the scene improbably with Bertie putting on a stage show to describe his recent experience at Totleigh Towers. This awkward Brechtian moment is swiftly forgotten as we get into the familiar plot about the cow-creamer, enlivened by a memorable Roderick Spode, leader of the fascist Black Shorts (they had run out of shirts).

I reckon I can easily spot the amendments and links added to the inimitable P G Wodehouse material even though I last read the books years ago but, for all that, it is a lot of fun with good visual gags enhancing the writing. Rather like Downton Abbey except well-written, well-acted, and funny (actually I haven't seen Downton so that's just a guess).

Finally to West Wittering on New Year's Day where the tradition of barbecuing on the beach with my friend Nick Jarman is tested to the very limit by torrential rain, hurricane force wind and surf spraying half a mile inland.

Selfie on the beach

But we succeed in front of an incredulous audience of passing walkers...

The Director of Social Services for Neath Port Talbot cooks sausages on a Sussex beach