23 May 2013
It would appear that the main item on the agenda this morning is a mild but persistent hangover. Not the full head-in-a-Black-And -Decker-Workmate whilst the tongue has been magically transformed into a portion of Bombay Dak stuck to the side of the mouth affair, but more like a feeling of having one of those things for getting stones out of horses hooves being held against the back of the skull. In this case just a shade too tightly.
Last night, there was beer, you see. Mitch, my chum from school had come round to play. Often, where beer goes, inevitable curry follows. We are blessed locally with beer and inevitable curry facilities on offer. The beer was furnished by a little two-up two-down pub called The Swan, in the middle of a row of terraces up in Bushey. Quite the finest pub I’ve ever been in, The Swan has a plaque on the wall stating that it is the only unreconstructed Victorian boozer (my words) within the M25. It’s got the lot- shove halfpenny, darts, fags for sale over the bar at shop prices, no music, a roaring fire when it’s cold, lovely beer and no poncy blackboard advertising such items as “Oak-Smoked Corn-Fed Oven-Baked (this last one really gets me- where else can you bake something?) Breast of finest hand-reared Watford chicken in organic rosemary Jus with finest Sicilian polenta in lemon and anchovy sauce”. Not in The Swan, mate. If you do want a bite, Sue behind the bar will run you up a roll. She has cheese, ham and tomatoes. You can therefore have a cheese roll, a ham roll a tomato roll, a cheese ham and tomato roll, a tomato and cheese roll, a plain roll, a plate of ham and cheese or a plate of ham or cheese. . The list is endless. No wonder there’s no blackboard, you’d never fit all that lot on. Bloody brilliant. There are no Ladies’ lavs either, but as a concession to equal rights modernity, one has been installed outside the back, accessed via the ginnell. Apparently, to cheer the ladies up, it is festooned with images of topless firemen from the Watford Fire Station charity calendar. Her Indoors is particularly fond of Brendan, 24, from Hemel. The Gents’ lavs are similarly enhanced with a quite extraordinary series of images furnished by the Jolec electrical supplies company. Clearly boasting an all-female staff, if the calendar is anything to go by, this is an organisation which apparently serves the electrical needs of tropical beach life and has a unique minimalist attitude to protective clothing. Some would even argue that they are coming down quite hard on the anti-clothing side of things. I can’t imagine one of their girls turning up at The Gables to sort out the outside front light dressed like that, if you get my drift.
We finished in the Swan at closing time. As I intoned earlier, we are very lucky up this way with the combined beer and inevitable curry infrastructure on offer. Just a short stumble away lies the India Garden, which has been patiently furnishing the hungry, needy and drunk of WD23 with inevitable curry for the last 35 years. Quite happy to remain open well after the pubs have shut, Mr. Garden is always polite, incredibly good value for money, and inexplicably, really really tasty. It was the Tuesday night banquet special, which essentially meant that you could have two courses of anything you liked with side dishes for a tenner! And it still tasted good. Somebody should get the lads in there a Queen’s award for outstanding services to Curry.
Back to the hangover. I’ve noticed that when a hangover is in residence, the laws of physics change a bit. Lying in bed this morning, going over the body checklist-arms-present, knees-present, etc etc, it came to me that birdsong was somehow about three times louder than normal. Maybe the skeleton crew working the hangover shift on the bridge of the U.S.S. Plong have to have all the sensors turned up to help them run the ship on 5% of the normal complement. Out in the garden, there was a woodpigeon in extremely fine voice, going “W’Whoo Whoo” as they do. As well as everything being louder, time seemed to be running a bit slower than normal, and this led me to really focussing on the bird’s song. After quite a while, it struck me that this woodpigeon had a perfect sense of rhythm. In about fifty or so “W’Whoo Whoo”s she didn’t budge off the beat an inch! She was an avian metronome. It made me wonder how a woodpigeon’s perception of music would work. Would Mrs. W. Make a good conga player? Was it just her, or are all woodpigeons, and by implication, the whole animal kingdom demons for rhythm? There was once a drummer called Des who was, quite simply, awful. He said birds never came in his garden. Makes you think.