Driving Away from Home…

Many people learn to drive with their parents; they grow up in a world where personal private transport is normal, where daily life routinely involves activities facilitated by access to the automobile.
My own experience of driving began in my late twenties; I took numerous lessons in a weary 1-litre Metro, and eventually passed my test in late 1990.

Journal Entries, 22 Nov to 6 Dec 1990:
This morning, just before my driving lesson, Tom came into the lab & announced that Mrs T had resigned. Hurd and Major both standing for election. Comment on Major’s school report: ‘Rather cheeky, lacks enthusiasm.’

On Friday went to London by coach & got to Kensington half-hour late. Jean and Tel already waiting but had only just arrived.
Went immediately to Sticky Fingers and gorged on burgers and ice-cream while admiring the gold discs and pictures.
Then to HyperHyper and Ken High St Market and Tower Records, bought JR a copy of ‘Transverse City’. Made quick unannounced visit to Simpson’s where Chris was in action.
Then went to Liverpool St to go to Great Yarmouth to meet up with James and Patsy and William and Mary.

Had a good driving lesson thanks to Boots Paracetamol, flu subsiding but not 100% yet. Tonight we have a new PM – John Major, Mrs T’s glove puppet. Kenneth Baker appeared on TV wreathed in smiles saying that he thought JM was perfect (after last week declaring that Mrs T would remain in office until the End of Time).

Today passed my driving test at the fourth attempt. Di was interviewed for the composites job. Phoned the Hallidays; Pete leaves for India tomorrow to spend a year flitting around the globe.

Today J&C arrived and drove me to Abingdon where we had dinner with Mick and Bet at the Upper Reaches. Friday night went to the Apollo, saw Mike N, Peter, R and Jamie. As I was leaving R’s house Sat morning who should cycle back but Graham Barrett.
Di phoned to say she’s passed her Viva, I spent Sat night curled up reading The Exorcist.

Today in the papers: the Conservative party in Cheltenham have selected a black candidate to replace their outgoing MP. One of the local worthies has appeared on Radio Bristol referring to that person as a ‘bloody nigger’ and is unrepentant.
Also today, Environment Secretary Michael Heseltine invited the opposition parties to collaborate with him on finding an alternative to the Poll Tax.
Tomorrow must buy Private Eye and Current Vacancies.

Last night went to JC’s for a dinner party. We had dolmades, chicken curry, pitta bread and four bottles of wine. I rode home at midnight and fell off my bike cos I was so drunk.
Went to bed, woke at 6.30 and was violently sick. Went to get newspaper and found my gloves on the floor covered in snow (it’s a blizzard out there) and one of them was torn open, probably during my crash.
Yesterday I was admiring Jean’s office decorations and she asked why we hadn’t put any up in the lab, so I mentioned about my proscenium arch and curtains on the Nene tensile tester.

Journal Entries, 15 Mar to 5 Apr 2004:
At work last week reformulated about ten MoD paints to remove lead driers to avoid skull-and-crossbones labelling. Gave to Fleming to sign but not returned.
Golden yellow fiasco – Kev has tinted the batch using lead chromate strainers and ended up with huge amounts of overmake.
Glanced at 470-line formulations; many of these have only a 1 percent addition of china clay as matting agent but the gloss is usually 20 units. Have the works been adding silica without recording it?

At work in canteen they were saying that Rob is to issue everyone with a new computer. Sent an e-mail (from GW machine) to Johnson Matthey asking for advice on NATO green pigment levels, and had phone call from Joe Hanrath at Twinstar; did I receive his e-mail last week? ‘No’, I said ‘I don’t have a computer here’.
Bomb blast at hotel in Baghdad – 27 dead, 40 injured. It’s about a year since the Allies marched into Iraq, and several months since George Bush declared that the war had been won.

I wandered (lonely as a…) up to the QC lab to check their wall-chart planner and make sure our holidays didn’t clash. Sean was in there signing off a works batch, while Rob was seated at Gill’s computer reading something – perhaps CVs, personal stories, or dozens of Man United screensavers.

Send memo to Rob and Steve with details of my e-mail exchanges with Johnson Matthey. On Radio 2 they’re playing ‘Careless Whisper’ as the finale of the George Michael story. Reminds me of the time I travelled to Leicester by train to meet Robert, sat in Turk’s Head pub and heard that song for the first time. Went to R-‘s house and sat on the doorstep until midnight when he and neighbours returned from pub.

A few years back The Stereophonics released a version of ‘Handbags and Gladrags’ which is very lyrical and gets played on a regular basis all over the radio (not to mention pounding from Andy’s office on auto-repeat for hours on end).
Song opens ‘Ever seen a blind man cross the road…’ and only today did I realise that yes, I have seen just that. Each morning I would ride up the A56 to Trafford Park, and at quarter-to-eight would see a bloke holding a white stick – marked with red bands – striding purposefully across the main road.

Today went to G-Mex hall for the ‘Erotica’ trade show. Stage cabaret included fetish routine from Torture Garden (like an X-rated Hot Gossip dance performance) and an old-fashioned fan-dance and trapeze act to the song Girls! Girls! Girls!
Last night watched ‘The Cell’ (Jennifer Lopez), a nasty, stylish hybrid of Dreamscape and Silence of the Lambs.

A few weeks ago we had a new Eiger Torrance mixer installed at work; Andy and Andy and Kev and Joe were all stood looking at this thing while it was supported on a fork-lift truck. I sidled up to Andrew Foll and said ‘Yes, but is it art?’

Nothing happened at work today. I got told off by Rob for putting my breakfast apple on the canteen table – “Those guys put their overalls on that table, it could be maleic or anything.”
More rumours: Paul W is to go to Germany to check the Rhenatech QC procedures. Mark J is to move into Rob’s old office cos Rob is moving next-door into the spare office.
New library books: How to write business letters, The Seven-Day Weekend, Richard Branson by Mick Brown. Went to Monton last night and watched ‘Ice Age’ on video, then today went to cinema to see ‘Lost in Translation’…moving but not sentimental.


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