Good evening lads and lassies

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So it’s six days since Steve and I left London and I’m just about to return to London tomorrow morning. Steve and I spent the first night of our trip at a place halfway between Beverley and Hornsea, recommended by Ann (particularly for its food) called Tickton Grange. Restored Regency, it specialises in weddings (book two years in advance for a Saturday wedding) and one was just in its final stages when we arrived. Went into the bar before dinner, which we had pre-booked, and the local gentry were arriving. It’s the best restaurant for miles around (fifty miles probably). The blazers and cavalry twill, peaches and pearls started to arrive to be greeted by the restaurant’s maitre. Steve was dressed in his best T-shirt (as opposed to his worst one) and me looking the epitome of Narrow Neck Beach cool and we found ourselves somewhat on the edge of things. As everyone was asked what they would like to order before they went in, we got the distinct sense of the staff warily circling us. ‘Are they guests or the plumbers?’ seemed to be the general approach. Resisting the temptation to shout out ‘But we’re Professors’, we remained cool. The maitre eventually asked the barman to approach us and enquire very discreetly whether we wished to dine or wanted another pint of beer. But great food.

On the following day, we had a look at Beverley (very old with beautiful churches and the best supermarket in East Yorkshire), visited the seaside town of Bridlington (painted by David Hockney who was born there) and ended up at a local tourist attraction, Sewerby Hall. A lovely day (known as summer in East Yorkshire) it was like something from the 1950s with a brass band, a cricket match, afternoon teas.

Then on to Hornsea to stay in a B&B – Hornsea doesn’t do hotels. Surprisingly pleasant and modern – desrcribing itself, for the first time in the history of Yorkshire B&B, as providing a ‘contemporary experience’ it has 4* hotel style rooms with a full English breakfast. Curiously my room has a discreetly placed bath in the middle suggesting that my ‘contemporary experience’ should be more interesting than sitting reading, watching TV and doing my blog. However, pleasant enough.

Steve left on the Monday and I started cleaning, getting decorators builders and plumbers, filling in forms, seeing estate agents and solicitors and all the paraphenalia of selling a house. In the six months it took to evict the tenant, the international economy has, of course, collapsed, along with – we are told – the housing market. Predictably, the British media have pronounced the end of the world, with starvation, poverty, travelling on public transport, and negative equity (the worst of all these things apparently) arriving in the next two weeks. The only positive point is that the new series of Big Brother has started – the high point of the year in England – and there is a particularly deranged character who is attracting media attention and so it is possible that starvation, poverty etc etc will have disappeared by the weekend.

However, the estate agent has seen the end of the housing market several times and given there are only four houses like ours in Yorkshire suggests we should go ahead and try and sell. So I rush around and organise things, hoping that once I leave, all the various people turn up and do their jobs.

Meanwhile I’ve been keeping an eye on what’s happening at home. I’m pleased to see that Devonport is not too worried by starvation, poverty etc etc, but instead is extremely outraged by the closure of the Tainui Road petrol station. All of those who don’t know Devonport should take some time out – but this is a true story. It is particularly very pleasing to know that Devonport isn’t only interested in cycle lanes. Quite what Caltex and Chevron (including the CEO of Caltex’s parent company in California) thought when they were bombarded by telephone calls and emails explaining that the people of Devonport were not very happy (or words to that effect), I don’t know. Presumably the CEO and his VPs and Assistants had to go on to Google Earth to work out where the hell Devonport was. Clearly the realisation that there were several hundred more of these people about to ring them up and email them was enough for them to decide that, with oil at $250 a barrel (says the Times this morning) they could afford to back off. So, congratulations to all of you and to Vic.

Now I have a weekend in London seeing people, then visits to various universities and some work in the British Library. However, must finish now as I have to go off and see Big brother. I think that Alexandra should be the first to be thrown out of the house, though on the other hand……….

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