A gratuitous pussy shot for the start of this latest blog entry. How shocking.
After a week of not moving around very much down in the west country.... Oh OK, Isle of Wight, Chandlers Ford AND Taunton in one week? Not much moving around? It was a lot of moving around for a normal person but nothing for Henry to be honest. So this week we are back on the usual insane treadmill. For my first trick I will drive from Maidstone in Kent to Nottingham, blindfolded, carrying a cement mixer and whistling the more difficult parts of a Stockhausen symphony. The weather was a bit lousy, but then I was blindfolded so what the hell did I care? I was on my way to the luxurious august portals of the Travelodge at Trowell services on the M1. I have stayed at many different Travelodge's over the past few years, but this was not one of the great ones. The welcome from the lady behind the reception desk was very warm and genuine, but that was as good as it got. The room was grotty, there were some rather worrying stains on the carpet and everything had a sort of down at heel feel to it. The toilet was decidedly dodgy and didn't flush particularly well early on. The water deluge into the pan was less of a deluge and more of a subtle trickle. This was going to prove tricky if I was a big boy later.
The bed was comfortable it must be said but appeared to have been tucked in by the Incredible Hulk in a strop. The sheets appear to have been welded under the mattress. The added fun for the room was that there was only five working channels on the TV. Now I know back in the early 70's we'd have given our eye teeth to have that many channels to choose from, but in 2012 it seemed a bit meagre. I had bought food with me so I didn't have to go out and sample the delights of the local Burger King for my dinner, and that was a real plus point.
After a good nights sleep, I woke up bright and early for a trip to Southglade Junior in Nottingham. I decided to finally test out the toilet's ability to handle a really big....er.... job. Well it was the morning. Right, slipway greased, bomb bay doors open, target selected and AWAY we go. Message delivered. Now was the time to see if the poor flushing capacity of this toilet could handle it. I gripped the flush handle tightly, pulled it up to a big height, and keeping the fingers of my other hand crossed for good luck, plunged it down with a reasonable amount of manly force.... The handle promptly fell off in my hand. Shit. In fact, quite a lot of it to be honest. Oh dear. What does one do? Well, when you're English and almost terminally embarrassed about anything to do with bodily functions you do what I did. You take the toilet cistern apart with your bare hands and begin to re-assemble it, even though you are to plumbing what Abu Qatada is to Jordanian tourism promotion. But, I am very proud to say I fixed the damn thing, and got it working again and flushing better than ever. What a clever chap. It did bring to mind an embarrassing moment from my past that I am here to reveal to the rest of the world for the first time ever. Back in about 1993 I was living in Essex (that is not the embarrassing bit, before you say anything) and one evening I was invited to dinner at some friend's house in Billericay. I really liked this couple and found them great company, but always looked up to them as a very sophisticated duo. I was looking forward to the visit on the Saturday, but on the Wednesday evening during the week before, I was struck down with what Peter Tinniswood used to call a savage attack of the Nawab of Pataudis. I had eaten something that violently disagreed with being eaten and was hell bent on escaping from me via whichever was the quickest route. I was feeling extremely ropey even up to the morning of the Saturday, but by the early afternoon I had perked up enough to feel confident to take on a dinner party at my friend's house. So the early part of the evening went well, but about halfway through the main course I could feel some turbulence building up and decided that I would be better off making a quick to journey to the toilet to ease my discomfort. Sure enough once in the small downstairs toilet all hell broke loose and I was somewhat alike to Jeff Daniels in the toilet scene from "Dumb and Dumber". It was not a pretty site and before I did anything else like cleaning myself up I decided to flush away what was in the loo. I pulled the chain and expected a mighty deluge. Wrong. I got a pathetic trickle that didn't really flush much away, just sort of stirred it up a bit. But that wasn't the worst of it, oh no. The worst of it was the sound of the cistern re-filling. Where you normally here a nice healthy sluice of water topping up the flush for another go, all I got was a gentle drip drip sound. This was going to take hours. I tried to pull the top of the cistern off to refill it manually with water from the sink, but it was screwed on. So I waited and waited, and waited and waited, and waited some more. Eventually my friends started knocking on the toilet door. Was I alright in there? I assured them I was, but I couldn't leave the bog looking like it did. Eventually the cistern was just about ready for another trickle flush, which made a slight improvement. But I couldn't wait for it to re-fill again as my friends would be past the main course and the pudding and would be almost at the end of cheese, coffee and cigars. I walked back into the dining room and thought I'd make a little joke. "I'd give it five minutes if I was you!" I chuckled as I sat down. There was a painful silence. The evening never really recovered and as I recall I don't think I ever got a return invite. Funny that....
And so to the school. It was lovely to be back at this wonderful school in Nottingham, what with their properly flushing toilets and everything. The kids were great - almost too excited to be honest, but hugely enthusiastic in the extreme. The morning passed in a flash and I was soon sitting in the very comfortable staff room ploughing my way through a very tasty plate of home made lasagna and garlic bread. Fantastic. That set me up for the afternoon thrash and what turned out to be a fantastic jousting tournament. The final with the ladies and gents ebbed and flowed with who was winning and who was losing, but finally a really good ladies team again stormed to another victory. This brought the score to:
GENTLEMEN 5 - 8 LADIES
I packed my stuff away and then hit the road. I am in Norwich tomorrow for a return visit for the first time in many years to Old Catton School. I have driven about half the way from Nottingham to Norwich and am currently in ANOTHER Travelodge, this time near Kings Lynn at a place called Long Sutton. And you will be pleased to hear that their bogs flush a treat! Good night!