I caught the bouquet at the wedding of Spud to the third Mrs Hughes. Positioning myself just inches from the bride, I used a mixture of bulk and brass neck to elbow other, younger and more nimble hopefuls out of the way. My imminent walk down an aisle will be graceful and assured. I may not be boasting an engagement ring, but I do have a power balance band, a present from my sister who, tired of my dispraxic stumbling, is sure that the rubber wristwear will keep me on the straight and narrow when I am upright and moving. Apparently David Beckham swears by his and, as we know, he never trips and falls.
The Cackler was in a particularly generous mood during my short visit to Yorkshire and shelled out for a half day for each of us at her local spa. Eastthorpe Hall. The run up to the experience was anything but relaxing, for the Cackler was deathly afraid we would miss the welcome ritual, scheduled for 8:45am. I was hounded out of bed and out of the house uncomfortably early. We made it to the spa before children were in school, and while cocks were yet to crow. The welcome ritual required us to lie in a darkened room on loungers, low like first class airline seats. Wee girls with buns and pony tails applied gentle pressure to our shoulders, knees and ankles and spritzed us with Febreze. I had the utmost difficulty hoisting myself off the lounger. I don’t know how David Beckham manages that maneuver, but perhaps mine was made more difficult by the spray sheen on the luxury leatherette.
It is my custom (thank you Scrabble Rosie) to have a glass of champange and a smoked salmon blini on every trip that takes me through Heathrow. The fun of this is to do it no matter what time your flight, for it signals the start of a holiday, even if you are going somewhere entirely unattractive and for a very dull reason.
I didn’t observe the ritual today for I have sworn off drink (if you should happen to see me stumble, don’t blame booze. I’ll probably just have forgotten my Beckham bracelet). Instead I went to a bar and ordered fish, chips and mushy peas, for this is another of my must-dos on trips back home. The batter didn’t match up to that on offer from the Sea Fry in Belfast or Mirfield’s chippie, but the dish was welcome nonetheless.
I flew through London to Belfast for a celebration of Milhous Vile’s 50-year career in television. This took a traditional route: Milhous told well-worn tales of what he considers media, management and romantic triumphs, and the rest of us booed and cat-called. We all thoroughly enjoyed it. The next day, 25,000 Orangemen marched through Belfast to commemorate Edward Carson and a Protestant stand against Irish Home Rule one hundred years before. They did not have the benefit of a relaxing spritz and, to the best of my knowledge the flute bands were not wearing balance bands. Despite this, the day went off without misstep. Temperance in transit–at last something I have in common with the Grand Orange Lodge.