So Janey and I were off to rehearsal this evening and stopped at a motorway service station for a bite to eat. And rather surreally half of Motley Crue and a couple of their mates \ roadies were in the queue in front of us. Then the remainder joined the queue behind us.
I’m not sure which was more priceless - the look on the kid’s face who was serving them as he recognized them all, tried to remain calm while serving them and then plucking up his courage to ask for an autograph (which he fluffed first time) or the sheer look of joy on a roadie’s face as he realised he could get a triple angus burger, double bacon cheeseburger or any number of others he couldn’t get in the states.
Then we got our food and sat down. “Are they in a band?” said Janey.
Am writing this on my last fast lap around Silverstone. You think writing a letter on a train is difficult? Try it cornering at 120mph in the passenger seat of a Lotus Elise with a view to overtaking an F355 on the Hangar Straight. Not something I ever expected to do save in my sleep but made possible by the transition into my fourth decade and the resourcefulness of Janey in grabbing one of the last slots they had this year.
Common wisdom has it that mid-life crises begin with the purchase of a completely unnecessary sportsc ar much like this one and the quickly learned fact of life that no-one can avoid an ungainly entrance into such cars unless they are either supermodels or racing drivers - both of whom have spent years perfecting the art of getting \ pouring \ sliding \ flowing into such vehicles with a minimum of fuss and maximum cool effect. I suspect Janey is trying to make me aware of this in advance and so avoid the whole fiasco. The advantages of trying this out on a race track are threefold.
- You are wearing a helmet to prevent you knocking yourself out when you first attempt to gain entry to the car and bash your head on the roof.
- You are wearing a helmet which ensures minimum recognition and therefore minimum embarrassment to yourself and loved ones when the roof-head interface occurs
- There are other low car novices like yourself standing around in the same gear making the same mistakes in a pseudo-group therapy session. "Hi, I'm Dan and I just bashed my head on the Lotus" - "Hi Dan".
Entry into the vehicle aside, the all-too-brief nine laps on the track have been book-ended by a safety talk before we got near the cars describing the fundamentals of the racing line, over- and under-steer, and this fast lap where the instructor is presently demonstrating exactly how much of the fear of god put into you by the safety talk can safely be ignored. From current experience, most of it I'd say. The fear of wiping out in the way that the Porsche did here two weeks back (about £30k worth of damage to the owner's car apparently) and the fact that the first four laps have been spent learning the circuit, listening intently to my passenger's instructions and trying desperately how to drive a car with a manual gearbox have been a natural temperance to my best efforts to break 100mph down the straight and remembering to have fun along the way.
Actually, that last point is a bit harder than it might sound. Having fun implies relaxing and joking about. Driving an Exige at 95mph isn't quite the place for that but I know I'll look back on this with a great deal of fondness not just for the experience of having done this incredible thing - I am blessed with such a thoughtful wife aren't I? - but for the (for me) great 'smooth ride' compliment I was given by my instructor during my last five laps, and the huge amount of adrenaline that starts pumping through you as you approach and search for a way around slower cars, like this Ferrari for instance. Must sign off now and concentrate on her driving. Should I ever get to repeat this, I'll need to remember these speeds for the corners if I want to break the ton down the straight. Find enclosed a nice photo of me on lap three or four - a picture of concentration going round Stowe.
God / good speed,
The many pieces that were up in the air on Monday have started to fall into place and our lives will definitely change in April (blimey, this is sounding like some astrology back page of a trashy magazine kind of thing. ah well).
Janey has been offered a job at the Open University business school in Oxford, having blinded the interview panel with her skill, intelligence, project management experience and general groovyness. So we need to be moving out of Birmingham in the next five weeks. Which is nice. Nine years after noticing the best thing about Birmingham are the exits, I’m finally using one and closing the door on a chapter of my life. Congrats Janey - I know you floored them with much cuteness, George and stuff!
I’ve been off the net for a bit. Since last I wrote, a lot of things have been thrown up in the air and have yet to settle down to the ground while I’ve been working through my current project at work to move our live system to a new physical location. ‘Moving’ is a good description of everything at the moment. Change of course is a good thing, although everything at once take a little more patience \ causes a little more stress than even DNS alterations do. So the servers I manage are moving, the place where I work is moving so I’ll need to move the servers again after that, the place where Janey and I live will move, the place where Janey will work is moving, I have four or five different things I could do outside of work and need to pick a couple, another friend that is still nearby is moving out of Birmingham to Lincoln and very little seems stable. Where the pieces in the air are falling will define my life for the next few years or so. Here’s hoping they don’t get swallowed up in a snowstorm before they land.
It was Jane’s birthday this weekend and so we left Brum for the south coast which, if you don’t try and go round London, doesn’t actually take too long to get to. Our destination was Chichester, a old Roman town stuck between Portsmouth and Brighton. This is actually a posher, smaller version of Canterbury with its blessedly cool cathedral, old buildings down the main streets and the old property or two for over a million in the estate agent windows.
This weekend was the last of the Chichester Festivities fortnight and although we had originally planned to go and see David Warner play King Lear (Tron and Shakespeare in one go - what more do you want?), we ended up getting the last two tickets to see John Rutter conduct the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Bach Choir playing his own requiem and a couple of Mozart ditties in the cathedral. We were two of only a handful of under-40s in the place, but more fool the under 40s for listening to bad club music in the pubs the street over and missing the Pimms in the interval.
Yesterday, we made a dash to Bognor which turned out to be only seven miles away down the coast. This little town is famous mostly for the Butlins holiday camp which still exists and looks more like centre parks than I had expected. It has a classic wooden pier with slats in the floor so you can see the sea directly under you, mini golf, pebbles and sand on the beach and some poor sod in a full bunny outfit trying to rip off people on the promenade for a photo with him. Gosh the seaside is fun. All in all, an excellent weekend.