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Published: January 12th 2010
Me with the Old Boiler
Coo, I miss her cooking
15th April ‘09:
Though AC/DC are in London for three days, and there are zillions of things to do, I’ve gone home again. I agonised a bit at first, because really I should take the opportunity to visit city-dwelling chums. But then I thought: ‘no, blast them, I’m going back to the beach.’ I know that I’ve just had four days at home, but given the amount of time spent away on tour this year, it’s a no-brainer decision.
Also, four days only made a small dent in the postal in-tray; my poor little abode was, and in a sense still is, buckling under the sheer magnitude of mail. Don’t assume that I mean fan mail from blog readers. Oh, you weren’t. Yes, you were right the first time: letters from banks, the council tax office and telephone companies. It’s never-ending of course; I pop out on tour for just three months, and banking concerns - by phone to Delhi - have rather stacked up again. So, to finish what I’ve started, I’m in Hastings.
Ah, the joys of domesticity. Now that my ex-girlfriend has moved out - known affectionately as The Old Boiler, or The Gargoyle
if you prefer a less derogatory pet name - there is a serious catering issue in this house. She was invaluable in culinary matters, and I miss her sorely when I’m home. My tummy certainly does. We do, however, remain firm friends.
Selfishly, Boiler turned down my offer of a winter contract, just when I needed her most. Women are so blooming complex, aren’t they? - Fancy not wanting to be my girlfriend just to get me through the chilly months! To my utter surprise - when the nights began to draw in - she didn’t even consider the alluring contract, even after six years together. Oh, well. Actually, I’m not sure that I should admit to being unable to cook; buying all the wine and living with attractive women is maybe only a short-term solution. But I’ll soldier on until an alternative presents itself. Anyway, I’m finding this idea of ironing clothes a little irksome. For a start, I’m ironing IN the creases into a shirt marked ‘non-iron’. What the hell are all these dials? Boiler, help..
Having introduced you to the Old Boiler, I thought maybe you’d also be interested in my car - it’s
of a similar vintage, actually. And it has a full, throaty one-litre under the bonnet. OK, so the radio doesn’t work, and there is no bass tube in the boot, but it will comfortably do a whopping seventy miles per hour. She shakes a bit above that and, in top gear (fourth), she’s a bit noisy, so sixty-five is more practical. I should have quoted these high speeds in kilometres per hour to make them sound even more impressive..
Grandparents are not to be taken for granted; I am incredibly lucky to have three of them still kicking about, and really do thank my lucky stars. My advice is to make the most of them while they’re still with you. Grandma is now 90 but still full of beans - certainly potty, but compos mentis and wonderful. Dad offers her a drop of the cheapest table wine that money can buy in France. ‘Oh, the merest tot, just to be convivial,’ she says. You can see where I get it from, can’t you?
The electricity cuts out. This soon sorts out the men from the boys; namby-pambys with microwaves would be doomed, forced out to
the chip shop. Not so for the old Davies campaigners. A paraffin lamp happens to be nearby, and there is a good deal of wheeling up wicks, and talk of snuffers. Grandma sneaks off to the kitchen to for a quick cough and to grate some cheese, calling Dad’s mobile phone a ‘microwave’.
Father’s propensity in the cooking department is pretty much the same as mine but we’ve thought ahead. Aunty Gilly - another aunty who falls outside the label of ‘wicked’ - has left us a bolognaise sauce. Surely we can manage that? I check Grandma hasn’t grated her fingers along with the parmesan, and ask how her piano playing is these days. Over the feedback in her earpiece, she interprets this as ‘where’s the telephone?’
Over at the oven, Grandma turns on the gas well before Dad can bend down with a lighted match, which leaves us all shouting urgent, incoherent instructions at each other. I think Dad is all too aware of that time when his hair actually caught fire while leaning over the Aga. It was priceless to see him dashing upstairs to the bathroom, actually ablaze. So, even with a pre-prepared meal, it
still takes three of us to conjure up something edible: one to hold the torch, one to get in the way, and one to cook. We take turns to hold the middle position.
Returning to my in-tray for a moment, there is a letter from that rascal Grandpa. Yes, there are a few of us left w ho correspond by ‘snail mail’. It really is so much nicer to receive a penned account of goings-on in the Umbrian mountains rather than an email. Actually, there’s little danger of electronic mail from that neck of the woods, because why does he need the internet? He has a fantastic life that would be ruined by those blasted pop-ups and pages ‘freezing’.
Anyway, he still manages to imbue in me a sense of literary inadequacy, and I, by return post, highlight the odd spelling mistake that he tries to cover with an increasingly illegible style of handwriting. This time he harangues me with references to ‘Mind the Gaffe’, published by Penguin. I tell you, a family get-together, with Mum and Grandpa, is just a laugh a minute: arguing the finer points of the gerund, that infamous verbal noun ending, over a
lentil-based dish. Don’t most families watch the Eastenders omnibus?..Grandparents eh?
PS. I almost forgot that this is a rock n roll AC/DC blog so: we’re off to Dublin tonight. Guitars, trucks, noise, yeah..
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