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.

Back To Body Balance

Well of course there was going to be a price to pay for all the recent gallivanting around and claiming to have a life that I’ve been doing recently. Today I paid that price by going back to Body Balance classes for the first time since the horrible winter cold took root at the beginning of December.

It will come as no surprise to hear that I am now lying in bed with every limb aching in protest – which is why I won’t say it, because I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well it went.

The only really noticeable deterioration has come in the balance sections, where my ankles decided they didn’t really want to cooperate. On the plus side my upper body strength seemed to be enough to allow me to get into a Crow Pose for approximately two seconds.

Yeah, I wasn’t expecting that either.

So, that happened. I now don’t feel bad for relaunching back into the general debauchery of #Tuesdays like we did this week. I think it was the first time we’ve had pretty much everyone there for ages.

The usual suspects of the Ladies M, Lady G and myself were joined by Lady P and Sirs D and S in a rowdily good natured assemblage determined as ever to bestow salt-laced wisdom on current events.

Sir S was waylaid by the landlord and his son, and pressed with many fine Irish Whiskeys in return for operatic snippets; presents were distributed to those who had not otherwise received them; stories were discussed; and the band tried to make themselves heard.

Can’t complain…

Oh, So You Want To Talk Stressful Journeys?

Just to prove that the best laid plans absolutely will fall apart even for the most organised of us, our return trip took double the expected time.

In retrospect, believing our satnav when it first said there was an hour’s delay and that it knew a short cut was our big mistake. We knew there were roadworks ahead, and news reports started coming in of multiple crashes in multiple roadworks areas along our route. The in-car satnav and Googlemaps on my phone were both metaphorically screaming and flashing big red lines over significant portions of the roadmap of the North of England.

So we did the stupid thing and began rat running parallel to various motorways down and across the country, with occasional dips back onto main routes. Lady M did the first half but then the tiredness and stress triggered her fibromyalgia, so I took over. In the BMW with which I have been struggling the last few days.

Now, in a bout of desperate anthropomorphism, the car and I seem to be coming to a wary truce; but even so the experience of driving through unlit country back roads at speed in an unfamiliar car was perhaps a little more excitement than I had anticipated.

At least nobody got more than a little startled, and there was only one roundabout I drove round more than once – but I was still very pleased to finally reach the Magic Roundabout – also known as the M25 orbital because that meant we were only 20 or 30 miles from home.

We had intended to go to #Tuesday as usual, based on our original estimate of being home around 5pm at the very latest, but the combination of getting home long after 8pm, plus no food in the house and the local fast food places so busy they weren’t delivering was too much. 

We picked up a simple pizza from the supermarket, made our apologies to the unusual suspects, watched a bit of telly and opened our Christmas presents to each other while supping some whisky.

Back to work in the morning. Who needs sleep anyway?

A Wild Weekend

In the Twelfth month of the year, often near the Twelfth day, a semi-secret event relating to the number Twelve takes place in, on, and around the sleepy town of Reigate. Food and drink are consumed, witticisms exchanged, and there are hardly any knife fights these days.

Later in the evening, fiery death is launched from a great height to annoy the households in the valley below The Hill. These may be accompanied by libations in the High Spaces, and have hardly ever involved police helicopter investigations in recent years.

In other words, this weekend saw the annual Maidments shenanigans known as Douze. In preparation for it, Lady M declined to go to her own work Christmas party – in part because of the ribbing she got last year when she turned up still hung over. This year she went to a football match instead, having been invited to a work-related event in one of the Executive Boxes at the Emirates Stadium.

We agreed to meet at the party instead, and had an enjoyable time – though not as wild as we’ve had in a while because of tiredness and just enjoying the chance to sit and catch up with friends and family rather than scramble around in the more surreal entertainment organised by The Brother Demonic.

Sunday saw us continuing the Christmas party mood with an unofficial gathering of some of the #Tuesday group for lunch. 

We started quietly in deference to the number of people who didn’t know us and the lack of a band to abuse, but before long Lady M was on the verge of an asthma attack through laughing, the Charleesi was launching barbed observations, and the staff had a haunted flinch developing every time they served another course. 

All in all, this weekend can be summed up as “Good Times”, and it has been well needed. Both events blended fine repasts with teasing on all sides with no fear or favour, mixed with truth telling and steam emissions to relieve pressure. 

Now it’s back to work to recover.

Oh Ye Of Little Faith

It has come to my attention that there may be some of you who doubt the veracity of some of my reports and musings. Indeed, on one social media network there was even doubt as to the very existence of such an entity as the ex-Lady M! 

All I can say is that refusing to believe in the ex-Lady M is a very courageous decision.

Every time the existence of the ex-Lady M is doubted, a marigold covered hand reaches menacingly for a jay cloth; the squeak of a cleaning spray can be heard; and your pint mysteriously disappears.

Neither of these people is the ex-Lady M

The ex-Lady M is the mother of the Charleesi, a being of such dry wit as to be positively arid (I’m so proud), and has silenced whole pubs with a single sneeze. We’ve worked bloody hard to get to where we are from how things were, and #Tuesday is as much part if that process as a celebration of it. 

Admittedly, my ex wife doing the cleaning in our flat is a bit of an outlier when it comes to post-divorce relationships, but to not believe it? Well there’s a disservice right there to all of us involved in continuing to make the world a stranger place.

And besides, would I lie to you about such weird and wonderful things? Embellish for comedic effect, yes. Obscure to provide plausible deniability for people, yes. Lie? Nope, it’s far too much fun telling the truth and watching people tie themselves up in knots.

All I promise is that I will try not to be mean, or unfair, and that I will try not to spare my own blushes in the process. Anyone can pretend to be normal. Admitting to being myself though? That continues to be hard work, and I’m forever grateful to those who believe in me, even if they don’t believe in the ex-Lady M.

Served by the Warlord

And so another #Tuesday has rattled by, fuelled by beer, slightly cramped musicians, and a lightly bedraggled pub dog called Bailey.

There weren’t many of us in there tonight. At one point the band outnumbered the patrons, and I was glad of the rings on my fingers clattering loudly as I clapped the table top in applause.

Even so, the various Ladies M (ex-, current and honourary) were in fine form, discussing bra fittings, the power of Baby Groot, and how well the Charleesi is doing in preparation for her A Levels. 

It was so quiet – in terms of customers rather than volume – that our irrepressible landlord began to serve us at the table; and a fateful message relaying key events to Mre B was hit by the joys of Autocorrect. In an instant, our landlord was transformed into our warlord. 

Oh it's that time is it?

As he was handing out lollipops at the time, this has now become immortalised on social media as being “that time of the night when the warlord hands out lollipops”

Derek may never live this down as we will be using his name in vain for quite some time. Derek the Warlord has a certain charming ring to it, and I’m sure he will turn up as a character somewhere, either on game night or in a story. We may even explain the joke some time…

So, not the most riotous night, despite the near ignition of Lady M’s bag, the near-licking face-off, or the attempts by the band to get their own back, but as ever a great milestone in what has been a weird day and entertaining week.

Come Along Darlings

There are many things that I cherish about #Tuesdays, and mostly they are to do with the mix of irregulars who make the evenings what they are.

We’re all, as I may have mentioned, a little eccentric, but even more importantly we’re all reasonably secure in ourselves, each other, and the web of different relationships that connect us. Our banter ranges from teasing and flirty, through silliness and support, geeky, nerdy and aspiring – often all in the first ten minutes.

I think that goes some way to explain the contentment and comfort last night while trying to wind things up at the end of the night. I could happily call out:”Come along darlings!” as a general summons to the stragglers I was driving home and know it would be appreciated. 

It didn’t matter who it was: if they were a wife or ex-wife, friends, partners past or potential, relatives or casual hangers on, I had the confidence I would be greeted with smiles and a lurch towards the door. In the event, Lady M and Lord S laughed, tore themselves away from the bar staff and away we went.

The landlord has long since stopped looking bemused at our antics. Maybe it’s the cakes and brownies we keep feeding him.

Games Nights – Gloom and Love Letter

loveletterWe’ve been introduced to a few new card games this last week, as we’ve casually extended our geekery in social situations. Lord S has been collecting a vast array of easily transportable games over the last few years, and brought a couple round on Sunday when he dropped by for a catch-up.

The first of these – Love Letter –  he also brought to #Tuesday, where it served as social glue for conversations through the night – it’s a simple game ostensibly suitable for 2-4 players, but at one point we had 6 or 7 players round the table. The action is pretty much take a card, play a card, with the aim being to eliminate or hold on to the Princess card by a process of knocking other players out of contention.

It’s a fun system that also proved once more that the former-Lady M has great difficulty in counting cards or reading instructions (first noted while playing Cards Against Humanity). Lord S was heard to opine that it was the first time he had ever had to consider being a games master/referee for a card game. Hilarity ensued.

gloomBy way of total contrast we also played Gloom for the first time, and I’ve decided to buy a set for myself as soon as pay day arrives (unless someone is kind and generous and gets it for me first). Not only is Gloom a beautiful set of cards with a simple set of mechanics, but it is first and foremost about telling stories. I wonder why that appeals to me?

In Gloom you take control of a Gothically horrible family and your aim is to make their lives as miserable as possible before killing them. The cards also include positive events that you can play on yourself or more usually on other people. When a character has a negative score, they can have a death card played on them – if you have one. The lovely conceit holding the whole thing together though is that rather than just placing cards, you need to tell a rambling story, for which the punchline is the title of the card you wish to play. These include positive cards like “was the toast of the town”, “was enchanted by the circus”, and “purchased a peerage” as well as negative ones like “cursed by the Queen”, “went mildly mad”, and “shunned by society”. Death cards include “burned by a mob”, “baked in a pie”, and “ran out of air”

As we’re all horrible, horrible people we took great delight in fashioning the demise of these dreadful characters, and quickly found the stories interweaving as we picked up and played with throwaway locations, situations and jokes from other players.

Things Lady M Says: What Day Is It?

We had a packed evening for #Tuesday last night, and as ever once conversations got going and plans started to be laid, things got complicated.

We’ve all known and taken part in those freewheeling torrents of laughter and chatter that cut back and forth, switching partners in a frantic dance. Perhaps then that’s why, when asked if she would be at the pub again next week, Lady M asked: what day is that?

My answer that it would also be a Tuesday, same as it usually is, was met with laughter and a salutation of single digits. What Lady M had meant was to ask what the date would be, so that she could consult her mental diary and compare it to the many demands on her time.

She keeps this mental list carefully corralled – a marching order of dates and times of almost encyclopaedic volume – but I suspect that for some time to come, she will be reminded that Tuesday happens every week on a Tuesday.

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.


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.