It is my birthday today and, in lieu of anything interesting happening to blog about this morning, I looked at my diary for 2002.
Nothing much happened on my birthday that year either.
But this is what happened in the week leading up to it.
It involves the comedians Malcolm Hardee and Charlie Chuck.
My father had died the previous year. My mother was ill in Clacton.
Sunday 21st July – Clacton, Essex
Malcolm phoned me up to tell me he can’t hear other people very well at the moment. He says the sound is muffled. But his own voice sounds very loud inside his head.
“It could be just old age,” he mumbled to me. “It could be just old age.”
Monday 22nd July – Stansted, Essex
I collected my friend and her son from Stansted Airport.
Tuesday 23rd July – St Albans, Hertfordshire
I spent the day out at a St Alban’s visitors’ farm with my friend and her son, my friend’s cousin and the cousin’s husband and two children. I said to the cousin, as we watched pigs eat:
“We’re all worm meat in the end.”
“Unless you get cremated,” she replied.
“I’d prefer to rot,” I said. “It seems more romantic.”
“Really?” she said. “I wouldn’t want to be buried after I watched my mother lowered so deep into the ground. I’ve told my husband I won’t watch him being buried.”
Wednesday 24th July – Fleckney, Leicestershire
I went to Charlie Chuck’s home for a meal. The small street in which he lives has a three-legged cat. He told me his occasional sound man – long haired and hippyish – can sleep through anything. Once, in Leeds, the sound man had a broken window in his bedroom and, during the night, a snowdrift built up at the foot of his bed, as high as his mattress. On another occasion, he went to sleep in a field and, in the morning, woke to find slugs in his hair. He had trouble getting them out.
Thursday 25th July – Borehamwood, Hertfordshire
I got a message from a British friend in the US:
“Get this,” she told me. “Americans say Fuckin’ A because Fuckin’ Hell is too rude. Morons.”
Friday 26th July – Clacton, Essex
Malcolm told me on the phone that he has bought a duck. His partner Andrée found a small duckling which had got stuck halfway out of the shell during birth. She cared for it overnight, but it died. So he went up to Enfield in North London to buy her an Indian Runner duck, which they will keep on his Wibbley Wobbley pub boat.
Saturday 27th July – Rotherhithe, London
Last night, Malcolm was awakened by a sound. He looked out the window and saw a fox walking up the gangplank leaving the boat. The duck was unharmed.
We went to his Wibbley Wobbley boat. The previous owner is over from Spain and has threatened to kill Malcolm unless he gets the remaining £55,000 he is owed from the sale; he is friendly with gangster Charlie Richardson. Fortunately Xxxx Yyyy has just returned from Hong Kong with £150,000 he saved while working there. He has lent Malcolm £55,000 which will be transferred into the previous owner’s bank account on Monday.
The duck is rather big – just over a foot high and only quacks when you go near it.