This week sees a return to bachelor lifestyle, as Her Indoors is operating her trumpet for money in Denmark until Friday. Therefore, for the duration of this instalment, I shall be referring to Her Indoors as Her Overseas. It’s been a while since I have been home alone, and despite my best efforts to keep up with the hoovering, washing and plant watering, 48 hours into the sentence I found myself sitting down to a wonderful home-prepared luncheon consisting of an old K-reg bagel and a pot of mint sauce lurking in the gloomy hinterlands at the back of shelf 3 on the fridge. I’ve got to say, a bagel so past its best that it has self-toasted with chilled Jus-De-Menthe actually tasted ok, but then the bachelor palette is a robust sort of thing, weaned in many years ago on a diet of morning-after kebab fragments, cheese rind, inevitable curry and tinned anchovies.
Although the minty bagel incident did actually precipitate a drive down to Sainsbury’s, this was more out of guilt about my all too quick-to-plummet personal standards than any desire to eat anything other than the remaining contents of the larder. I reckon I could quite happily eke it out to Friday on a nourishing diet of oxo cubes, freeze-dried shitake mushrooms and sandwich spread, whilst walking around the house in the dressing gown until it was time to go out to work. It’s not laziness, I think, but rather the solitary chap has a different priority system to that of the coupled one. For example- if there’s no-one else in to see, how can doing the ironing, or buying food possibly be more interesting than lying on the sofa with a nice boxed set of Star Trek? Once there, how then can the ironing, washing etc, possibly measure up to the rich excitement of another episode, or better still, a snooze? A vicious circle of diabolic proportions- whole days can drift by whilst pondering the energy giving miracle of the dilithium crystal, or wondering how I’d get on at a Vulcan wedding. It seems to me that doing stuff for yourself takes around three times the mental effort that doing it for the pair of you does. It gets to a stage where doing anything, -and I don’t want your monocle to jolt out of your eye socket and into your tea when you read this-even working on the Seaplanes Of The Axis Powers diorama gets to feel like a bit of a chore. It seems that Her Overseas has left in her wake a snowballing load of apathy. This metaphor works better if you replace the snow in the vision with blu tack. A giant ball of blu-tack rolling round on a great landscape of blu-tack getting larger, heavier and stickier with each revolution… I’m a bit embarrassed to say, but in the bath the other day, the apathy reached such levels that I had to really force myself to reach for the Airfix Graf Spee for the customary re-enactment of the Battle Of The River Plate. Acts of wanton slobbery are becoming more frequent- with Her Overseas around, it’s highly unlikely that I’d water the front garden plants dressed in my rugger shirt, boxers and her green furry slippers with the big smiley monster faces on. I’ve now been doing exactly this since Thursday last, and it was only this morning when I saw the look of raw distress on the face of the rag-and -bone man as he drove past that I thought I’d better take a spot more care. Having your own space is one thing, and is often cried up as a bonus in the media by the defiantly single, but whirling like a nutter in your own vacuum is quite another.
I’m not giving in to it though- like any period of solitary confinement, self-discipline is the key, so I am staying right on top of the housework, and I have, as you can see, dragged myself from the joy of the John Lewis Duvet to come to the kitchen table and tap all this into the laptop. And all at the crack of 11.15 am. I am doing it, but it weighs a ton.
Helping me through these lean times is that shining example to all stranded chaps who have had bachelordom thrust upon them- John Tracy from Thunderbirds. Marooned in orbit in the space station that is Thunderbird 5 for months on end, John is at all times immaculately dressed, and the interior of his spaceship is of operating theatre cleanliness. Here he is-
Apart from the fact that he weirdly looks like an Aryan Frank Sinatra in this picture, we can see that JT ran a very tight ship indeed. When not directing his brothers to their latest atomic volcano landslide rescue, he clearly spends an awful lot of time on personal grooming, and housework. He must have special tools to get the hair mousse into place in the tricky environment of zero-g. Thinking about this further, a few sketches in my notebook reveal something akin to a crash helmet attached to a giant syringe. If I’ve got my Einstein right, time in space goes quicker than time on earth. This means that JT has to spend an even larger portion of his day than the average OCD chap on terra firma with the space hoover. There’s never any mention of robots in the series, so I’m assuming that fabulous shiny interior is all the work of his own fair hand. Or, in his case, the work of the bloke’s hand they use for the close up shots. If that was me up there on a three-month tour of duty, by the middle of the run I’d make sure that my transmissions back to earth were performed in very subdued lighting indeed, so that the stubble, dressing gown and wine-soaked t-shirt were harder to discern in the murk. Murk would be the word, too. As I’ve said before, it’s zero-g up there, and part of the preparatory work in putting a transmission together would be to herd the great revolving asteroid cluster of coke bottles, kitchen roll middles and curry trays which would inevitably appear from the overfilled space bin (which won’t have been taken out for far too long) out of camera view. I know that my broadcasts would have an uneasy quality- as thunderbird five tacked round the planet, I would take on the appearance of someone having to read the news while simultaneously dancing on hot coals, having as I would to try and kick away the debris cloud whilst simultaneously transmitting the co-ordinates for the stranded little boy on the rim of the chasm, whilst also concealing the fact that instead of my International Rescue standard issue trousers and boots, I was sporting a rather mangy pair of pants and Her Overseas’ green furry monster slippers.
Outside in the real world, away from the bachelor cave with its stalactites and stalagmites of washing up, laundry, bottles and food wrappers, life has been quite normal, with quite a varied programme of work. Last Tuesday, for example, I was playing a load of Count Basie stuff for not too much dough, but a nice free dinner. Loads and loads of notes were involved in that and by sharp contrast, on Thursday, I was in the massed ranks of the BBC concert orchestra at the Festival hall playing about six notes for hundreds of pounds! It’s a funny one, the concert orchestra, as they only pull in sax players when they are needed for a particular programme, and you only ever get one of two things- the aforementioned six notes, or music of such migrane inducing complexity that you have to take the next six months off in Gstaad with a counsellor.
The flip side of having six notes to play is the sitting to attention. Doubly so in this case, as we were being recorded for TV but cunningly, we of the sax section had brought back the after eights from the inevitable curry, and were thus able to regulate the blood sugar and avoid an embarrassing televisual nodding off in the heat of the Festival Hall lighting rig, or grill. By jingo, it was hot. As well as being slowly sautéed in your own clothes, another unusual aspect of sitting onstage at the Festival hall is that due to the proportions of the auditorium, it is quite difficult to work out how big it is. It seats two and a half thousand people, but you’d never think it. Your Roving Reporter took this snap just before the second half began to illustrate the point. 2,500 people here, and as it was a concert of Don Black’s lyrics presented by Michael Grade and the eponymous Don, 2,500 people mostly from Stanmore.
The show is going out on BBC 4 at Christmas, I believe, so tune in then and see if you can spot the six notes! I’m off for a lie down now- it’s that or the washing up.