Before I start I will have to write a disclaimer. Dogs mentioned in this blog bear no resemblance whatsoever to the gorgeous twin set and pearls that are Pugsy and Ted Godwin-Crowhurst. If I don’t put this in, my friend Lorna will hunt me down and probably hurt me. With sharp things. So there you have it, Lorna, put your pitchfork back in the shed until the next time I commit an inadvertent canine faux pas!
The festive season is fast approaching and, as usual, I’m seeing far too much of the inside of various capital city hostelries. Against my will, obviously, dragged there kicking and struggling (to get out of my coat) while silently mouthing “Mine’s a gin, Jock!” as I am manhandled to the bar. Sit down before you fall down. Good advice, never forgotten.
Anyway the point is I would like to pay homage to the humble London pub. I have lately spent time in The Burlington Arms (does a nice scotch egg, bar staff slower than sloth on Mogadon), The Harp (handy for the station when Network Rail decide to play 7-card rummy all evening instead of running a train service), The Windmill (dark, seedy, strangely exciting) and a particular favourite lunchtime haunt of mine – The Market Tavern. This last is pretentiously posh and not really a pub at all but a holding pen for beautiful, delicious smelling people who have got fed up waiting in the queue for Burger & Lobster and are getting royally tanked up instead. “Bugger the lobster!” they scream into their Tanqueray martinis. Cruel – but then if you don’t want to eat it I can see how you might consider that as an alternative, given the price you pay for them. Lobster love not to be undertaken lightly however – there are still the nippers to consider. And I’m not talking about the side dish of little prawns.
The thing is….the thing IS….these pubs each have a charm of their own and remain true to the spirit of “public house”. Not everyone’s home is the same and it is this individuality and stubborn disregard for the majority taste that makes these places so great. Where would we be without a collection of photos of Princess Margaret and some faux cacti on the windowsill? Who doesn’t want harlequin patterned curtains because the fabric can be bought in bulk and the design doesn’t show the phlegm? The Tavern even has velveteen sofas. Pretty convinced they wouldn’t mind if you slipped on your comfy trousers and watched an episode of Corrie from them. So long as you smell delicious.
Whereas….the local joints in the village and surroundings where I live are…well, as I said to a mate, they are dire. One which shall remain nameless – a particular favourite of several friends of mine – smells constantly of nursing home wee. Another has been painted in a shocking shade of clotted cream, rendering it so dazzlingly uninviting and operating-theatre-bright that I wouldn’t go in there even if I had just had Botox pumped by concrete mixer into every inch of my face. Not to mention the locals sitting there harrumphing into their mulled Guinness with faces on like pugs with piles. I’ve heard of overbite but surely your lower teeth should not gurn their way up to your eyebrows?
Something is lacking in Sussex when it comes to atmosphere and ambience. We’ve tried lots of places and – sadly – it is a county-wide issue.
So, if you’re looking for me, I will be mostly drinking in the smoke this festive season. Places where you can meet a giant bloke called Tim – a good sort with half an arm, an army career under his belt and a great line in Irish jokes. Or Sheila – 94 if she is a day – who has been drinking in the same pub for about 40 years and can tell you how every bit of sticky floor came to be there. Amazing people.
Sussex – you need to man up and get your act together. Having the nation’s monopoly on old black-beamed boozers is not enough. Come to London and have a look – it’s all going on up there, you know. Cheers!!
Around 3.00pm on any given afternoon, I am usually at the mercy of cravings for a creamy latte. Some people smoke – me, I take on liquids. This necessitates stopping work, wandering the 100 yards or so to the nearest barista where I tickle him under his milky little armpits until he delivers what I require. I then walk back to my office, sit down and….well, basically contemplate my future for 10 minutes. It’s an indulgence, I know, and those of you out there with proper jobs and toddlers under foot are probably screaming at the screen right now. But I like to do it, and everyone is advised to reduce stress. It’s this or crystal meth.
I am a blessings-counter in my day to day life as it is, and believe I have been extremely lucky to have what I have: the kids, the husband, the job, the lifestyle etc. It is not discontentment that prompts these thoughts. Rather a naïve belief that, having got this far, what’s stopping me continuing in pursuit of an ideal? We all have to have goals, don’t we? Or have I been indoctrinated into the “performance review” mould of work for too long?
In my defence, the boss knows about it and woe betide him if he interrupts during this afternoon hiatus. It started after I once read a book called “The Secret” which encouraged me to try “cosmic ordering” – thinking positively about the things you really want and then they will come to you. So far, fingers crossed/touching wood/good morning Mr Magpie *spit* *spit* it’s been spookily true on a few counts. Not last week’s Euromillions, obviously, but then one must not be cosmically greedy – it negates all the positives apparently.
So in pictorial terms, if I could keep all the good things I already have, but given free rein and endless money/time/good karma just “swap” a few bits around, how would I cosmically order things to start living the – modest, not greedy – future that I desire?
Number One: This is the current view from my office.
And as views of London go, its not bad. Lots of light and space. I even get to see Queeny’s chopper going over from time to time back to her bungalow over by the park. Here, however, is the office view that I would like:
This is Salcombe, or as I prefer to call it, Nirvana. The ultimate goal – sad to some who aspire to Caribbean islands etc. But my own private dream town. It’s got sailing, surfing, beaches, gig rowing, shops, restaurants, a decent coffee shop and is only 20 miles from a major town for shoe shopping and handbags. I’ve been going there for a few years now and never yet heard anyone burp in public. Heaven.
Number Two: This is the home I live in now:
And its lovely – we are very lucky. Country location, friendly locals and perfect for us and the kids. It wasn’t always like this, mind. Not sure what the “rear elevation” motto is on the pic – except I know it’s from some old estate agent details from a time when things were not as financially rosy as they could otherwise have been and we had to put the family homestead up for sale. We didn’t sell it in the end, needless to say. And in truth I always said I would never leave it – I love it – but there is a house I have seen in the right location (with the view above) and try as I might I can’t get it out of my head:
Six bedrooms and a basement. Sleeping quarters for us grown-ups, one each for the kids, one spare to kick the snoring nightmare that is my husband into when it becomes unbearable, one for guests (which in a location like this I am expecting many of) and a writing room (see below – there is a theme developing here)
Number Three: Here is what I do for a living now:
But I have better hair, I think. And here, with a lot more time and space, is what I would like to do to earn a crust:
Number Four: This is my current body image (That’s not a real beard, before you ask, being facially hirsute is not one of my issues – yet):
and here’s the figure I aspire to (if only the LighterLife people would stop pfaffing around with Pauline Quirke and return my call):
Number Five: Oh, and I’d like lots more of these types of things, purchased if necessary (well, I am 44), but ssshhhhh don’t tell the husband:
Ah well, coffee’s finished now. Back to the real world. All I know is I need a lot more dosh and time and less lattes to get it all done! Onwards and upwards! There’s a cosmos to order about!
What is your perfect world? What motivates you to keep on going in the face of distraction and routine? Would love to know how others navel-gaze from time to time.
Photo Credits: Some to Google, the others are my own.