And I’m back in the room

The beginning of November is always simultaneously busy and fraught for a number of reasons – but fortunately this year there has been more on the busy side than the latter.

I try these days to make Lady M’s birthday celebrations a bit of an extended occasion – with presents on the days leading up to it and at least one surprise. This year the festivities technically started while we were at MCM London Comiccon, and I took advantage of the shopping while we were there to load up on suitably geeky presents.

We were also both off work for the full week following the event, and so could spend time quietly reconnecting, and just relaxing in each other’s company. We’d heard of post-Con blues before, but had never truly appreciated how exhausting the come down from a weekend of adrenaline can be. Gaming and late morning’s dominated the week until the Friday evening where we picked things up and went to see the Wessex Pistols at our usual pub haunt. It was a great night out, with a Happy Birthday rendition by the band, and a number of drunken and slightly deafened conversations with various band members afterwards to sweep us into the weekend.

And that’s where the surprise came in: Lady M knew we were going to visit the Charleesi – ostensibly to deliver a television to her room now she had sorted out a license – and that we would stay over as I had told her to pack an overnight bag.

What Lady M didn’t know was that I had been colluding with the Charleesi and the former Lady M to engineer a weekend of activities.

Our guest house was across the road from the Charleesi’s halls of residence, so once I’d booked us in we hauled the television over and called her to come down and let us in. We’d got there late morning, partly to meet check-in times at the guest house and so that the Charleesi could evict other students from her floor from the night before.

We wandered in, admired the way Charleesi had set her room up, and then the former Lady M appeared from the bathroom and nearly made Lady M jump out of the window in surprise.

Our itinerary was full – so with giggling and shuffling onto local buses we dragged the Birthday Girl in to Oxford for lunch, and then to a walking tour that covered history and filming locations alike (such as the tree under which a certain Malfoy was transformed into a ferret). Cream tea followed, and then on to a huge fireworks and bonfire display.

Lady M thought we were stopping then, but the Charleesi had other ideas, and so we went through a number of back alleys, guided by mobile phones to an undecorated side door in an unlit building. Lady M was prompted to pressed to ring the bell.

A voice from the speaker challenged her to tell her what had many keys but opened no locks. After a moment’s fluster she answered: a piano, and we were admitted to The Mad Hatter – an Alice in Wonderland-themed speakeasy that was also running a 1920s evening for fireworks night.

We had a great evening. Gin was served in teapots, and other inventive cocktails followed later, including alcoholic milkshakes and blue cheese martinis. We staggered off happily back to the halls after that, with the two Lady Ms having a loudly giggly time as we made our way back.

Oh, and to finish the evening in true student style, the Charleesi and I got some pizzas in while we played card games.

The morning saw us take in the Oxford University Botanical Gardens and explore the new Westfield shopping centre before grabbing some food from the Lebanese grill.

So that was our quiet week off – no wonder it’s taken me a while to get the energy back to start functioning again!

Celebration Time

Even in the middle of crapness, people keep insisting on having parties and celebrations of significant life events. It’s almost as if the universe doesn’t give two figs and insists on proceeding on its way. How depressing must that be for people trying to ruin things for everyone else…

So, two nice things in my microcosm today: Lady M and I were able to go out to the local Harris+Hoole so that she could have her old favourite breakfast: eggs benedict. Her diet while healing her ulcer has prevented her from having most of the ingredients of the dish, so the look of joy at the prospect lit the room.

Secondly, it was a friend’s 40th birthday today, so I went to fly the flag and we had a lovely barbecue under bright cloudless skies. I met some great new people, and reconnected with old friends, and basically had an afternoon of chatter and nonsense. Great fun.

Just thought, after an extended period of grimness, that celebrating fun was a good thing.

Birthday Season

If there’s one thing guaranteed to make you do a double-take and wonder where the time went its the realisation that your children are all grown up – or at least have hit eighteen. 

We’re right in the middle of a short cluster of them with one of my neices, my daughter and my daughter’s best friend all reaching their majority within the space of a few short weeks of each other. The Charleesi is yet to have hers, but this weekend we had a gathering to celebrate her cousin’s birthday.

Surrounded by the extended family, she endured us with good grace, and it was a pleasant few hours on a gloriously sunny day.

And of course it’s a wonderful thing, but for myself and my brother B there was one short moment of looking at each other at the bar with a shared bemusement of “how did this happen?” There was self-conscious eye rolling, and a bit of shoulder shrugging, and then we got the drinks in to return to everyone else. 

I’d love to report that I was a sparkling addition to the party, but between the various strains going on and my perennial feeling of being the outsider I mostly people-watched and blended into the background. My neice seemed to be having a good time, and that was more important.

Another few weeks and, right in the middle of her A-Levels, it’s the turn of the Charleesi. We’ll see then if I’m any more used to the concept

And away we go

It’s Easter weekend, and we’ve actually managed to scrape some time and an approximation of energy together so that Lady M, the Charleesi, and I are escaping The Smoke for a couple of days. We’re off to Alton Towers. Let the silliness commence.

Of course you could be forgiven for thinking it had already started early. We went to join Lady P and a select bunch of glorious misfits in celebrating her birthday yesterday evening, which led to a Jurassic Park-themed chocolate tray bake and an inordinate number of shots.

Today, while not hungover, nevertheless did drag a bit as I was working. It seemed a good idea at the time. Still, we’re settled at our lodgings now, despite the best efforts of traffic and roadworks. Tomorrow is going to be great.

Wessex Nights

It’s that time of the year again folks, where I have people turn up and make offerings before me – or at least buy me a drink and join me in some silliness. Yes, it’s true – somehow I’ve survived another year. As good a reason as any to have a bit of a celebration!

wp-1450050337023.jpgAs luck would have it, the Wessex Pistols were playing our sort-of local again, just as they did last year – so it would have been rude not to go really… I was aware that Lady M was scheming in the background so I’ve had to carefully not ask anyone anything recently about plans for this weekend in case I put people in an awkward position of either denying everything or giving the game away.

All in all, between that and a hectic week with plenty of stress, I started the evening fairly frazzled around the edges – but good company from the usual irregulars and some special guests combined with drink, food and music soon brought me out of my shell. Earlier in the day I’d had a conversation around this with MreB – who much prefers their privacy when at a low ebb – about how the sense of connection at such events helps to recharge my batteries. If I haven’t got the energy to reach out, being around people who do helps immensely.

Today, I’m pleasantly tired – barring the general head-cold that is still lingering – and have a somewhat husky voice which certainly betrays the amount of raucous singing and dancing I did last night (yes, I do occasionally dance, especially if the band is singing me Happy Birthday)

Tomorrow is the actual day – with all this celebration, I hope you’ll excuse me if the stories are a little…delayed.

Happy Birthday Charleesi

It’s a momentous day: not only is it the last day of the Charleesi’s AS exams, but it’s also her birthday. That’s a double reason therefore to celebrate at tonight’s #Tuesday, as if we really needed the excuse! Knowing the Charleesi, she will continue to give the impression of quiet calm under pressure, matching her teenage scorn of parental emotional displays to a studied serenity of poise as she proceeds through the day.

If I were particularly cruel, I would use this opportunity to present a montage of childhood photos, illustrating her growth from round-cheeked cherub (I’m thinking the Victorian cute babies rather than the biblical multi-headed engines of destruction and wrath) through awkward tween to formidable young lady that she now is.

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On the other hand, she is also a Maidment, versed in getting her vengeance in first, and with all the lateral thought and dry wit running through her veins she may wish for; so I won’t do that. Instead, here she is as a fluffy unicorn, which is far more amusing than it really should be.

I’m told that many people who know both myself and the former Lady M are initially struck by how much she looks like me. Then they recognise her mother’s features. Then they have a period of mental confusion while their brains try to reconcile two sets of features before actually starting to see the person in front of them.

From the way she rolls her eyes, it’s a set of reactions that the Charleesi is used to, and she humours people with a modicum of grace while she, in turn, sizes them up. Being the people watcher that I am, this can be hugely entertaining to observe.

So, happy birthday Charleesi; your summer waits to unfold before you, with dragons no doubt anticipating your call. Hope it’s a great day on every level.

So, Awesomeness Happened

It was my birthday on Friday, and it was a good excuse to let our hair down and party like the proverbial madmen. We’ve needed it. I’ve needed it. You may have noticed a distinct lack of writing the last few weeks, and that has been entirely down to finding it incredibly difficult to bring myself to do any blogging at all because of the ongoing stresses and deep anger of what this year has thrown at me and the people around me this year.

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I could have used this blog to rage and rant, but I think you would all have found it getting rather boring pretty quickly. I don’t like airing dirty laundry in public either, taking the approach that anything posted here could be news front page copy at any time and biting my tongue accordingly. The discipline and honesty that comes with posting under my own name is both a challenge and headache sometimes.

So Lady M and I took this week off to do some decorating in the flat, have some downtime that didn’t involve solving other people’s crises, and do things that made us smile.

My birthday was on Friday, so after a sedate morning of gifts and wall painting, we headed up to central London and a real ale session in a pub not far from Euston station. We were later joined by Lady G for a few drinks, a wander across town to get food and then back to Maidment Towers for more gossip, a single malt or two and a binge watch of Netflix until about 3.30 in the morning.

Gloriously unaffected by any kind of hangover (I know, sickening), we dropped Lady G home, decorated some more, and then went to The Plough in the evening for a meal and a Wessex Pistols gig. In a sort of surprise move, Lady M had invited a motley crew to join usĀ  including the Charleesi, the ex-Lady M, Lord Danger, Lady P, and friends old and new. The band sang Happy Birthday to me, we shouted abuse back, we all had a glorious time, and hats got stolen.

We also came up with some ideas for this year’s cosplays at MCM. Should be interesting…

So, all in all, an epic weekend that also included taking the Charleesi to see Deadpool, many new books, and finding something positive to write about for the first time in several weeks.

Now to keep the momentum going.