There, or thereabouts…

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It is a cold, crisp morning; the sort that draws an involuntary wince when the twin comforts of a snuggie, and the remnants of warm tea are withdrawn somewhat suddenly. Having not visited the gym in two weeks and a few days – blame my trip to the middle of nowhere, not my laziness – the plan is to drag myself there at some stage over the course of the day. The dry, sunny vista that greets my eyes looking out onto Pittodrie beguiles me into kitting myself out in my gym get-up; which is how at the ungodly hour of 9am on a Saturday I am high tailing the 700 yards or so from my house to the gym. The forty-five minute amble on the treadmill passes by uneventfully enough – today there are neither svelte, graceful does nor brawny, over-fit ones to terrorise me, or show me up for the lazy bum I am..

Four minutes into my slow down routine, I catch sight of F, in the full length mirror, she is waving excitedly.. Behind her is her father..

AJ!!!!! He hollers, when I come off the treadmill, wiping my brow and breathing heavily..

You never talk true for this gym matter o.. That girl must have you in her armpit..

I laugh. He and I have this ongoing conversation where he insists the sole reason I am still doing the gym thing is that some woman of some description has me cornered. Just how I could have gone from a couch loving, NCIS/Big Bang Theory bing-er to one who goes to the gym twice or more each week beats his imagination.

[In the interest of full disclosure, both Q. and S. were obsessive gym-ers; nothing of course developed from those liaisons.]

He insists the weight loss is significant too. Bar the odd day on which the extra space in my favourite pair of jeans is obvious, I don’t see any evidence of that. While we are talking, trading these volleys of accusation and counter accusation, someone else walks past with two children in tow. It’s an old classmate of mine from my Newcastle days..

Doing very well with the gym thing pal, he says.. Keep it up, he adds, punching me lightly in my stomach. F. rolls her eyes, like only a woman can. Her father stifles a laugh as he throws me a knowing look… I shrug a bit, inwardly chuffed that the hard work of the summer of living dangerously appears to be paying off already..

On this evidence, I suppose I can claim to be there, or perhaps thereabouts?

Mis-matched

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Feeling chilly in the westerly breeze is how BBC weather describes the start to the day, and walking briskly from my house to the bus station, I ponder just how right that prediction is in spite of how well I think I am wrapped up – thermal undershirt, long sleeves, a fleece and a wind breaker notwithstanding. I have always thought it interesting just how well predictions of lousy well work as opposed to ones which promise warm, dry spells, or not. Confirmation bias maybe?

I make a pit stop at the office to grab a (free) coffee and give my email a last eyeball to confirm there is nothing waiting that might need action over the next few hours I’ll be out of commission, before I hop on to the 727 to the airport. It is a quick run today and I make it into the airport in 30 minutes flat, in time to tack myself on to the back end of the check-in queue which has begun to build.

The small talk is about the storms which have hit down south – disruptions, trees crashing into homes and the truly sad story of a young boy being swept out to sea dominate – and the apparent suicide of Jimmy Savile’s driver. Thankfully, up here in our corner of WetVille, we have been spared the worst of the storms. The line inches forward steadily, everyone goes through the now regular routine – show passport, weigh bags, confirm any medications, weigh self, confirm contact and details are correct on the electronic travel database and then hop off to the baggage screening area. When it is my turn I do the same, finding that my employers have failed to include an updated medical in my record. Thankfully I am due out before the current one expires so it’s no real biggie.

I drag myself on to the baggage check area and dump my shoes and belt as I walk through the full body scanner. I walk towards the security guard for a pat down, noticing a few chuckles as I do so, but oblivious to the fact that they are directed at me.

Great pair, pal, the guard remarks with a smile playing on the edges of his lip as he points to my feet. My bemusement turns in the instant I look downward into an inward cringe of embarrassment. I have somehow showed up on the one day of the month I will walk about in my socks with a non-matching pair.. In my defence, my day has already being a pretty long one, even though it’s only 10am.

 

African shop…

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I am carefully arranging the items in my shopping basket to make room for the 1800g tin of milk I have just taken off the shelf when someone to my left blurts out – Brossss.. Your Nidoooo milk no get part 2 o!

So engaged in that most banal of tasks have I been that I have not noticed him until he has spoken, pretty much directly into my left ear, I might add. When I look up, his face has a vague familiarity to it. I give it a few seconds before I give up trying to place the face, and assume he is someone I have run into at church, or one of the multiplied baby birthdays I have been forced to attend this year. I smile and explain my thinking behind grabbing the big tin – I come to this African shop on the corner of George and Fraser’s only so often, and for what it’s worth I try to make it worth my while.

It must be nearly three months in fact since I last came this way – replacing garri with Irish potatoes and palm-oil laden egusi soup with steamed broccoli and chicken breast made the detour redundant – but today a feening for soft, squishy, bread washed down with the thick, delicious gooeyness of Nido milk, with just enough water to give it the consistency of ice cream – is what has won over my resolve, enticing me into showing up here.

When the young man on my left doesn’t move on after my explanation, I begin to suspect there is a little more to this meeting than just a casual comment.

You been dey Engine for UNIBEN abi?

I nod tentatively, still wondering where all this might lead. He breaks out into a broad grin as he explains he spent a year in my corner of the world, sharing jokes, bed-bug infested couches and the odd fiver for bread and groundnut in the Hall 3 common room, which I insisted on making my reading spot, bang in front of the TV.

I ask him what’s brought him into town. He explains he’s been interviewing for a role at one of the corrosion rust consultancies in town. I explain I work in the field these days, and share a few choice thoughts about the rife dysfunction in that organisation. He shrugs – Make dem take me first o. All these one na tori,  he says. Given the patchy job scene, I have to agree.

Very nearly four years since I moved up North, the ‘Deen hasn’t lost its ability to spring surprises in the shape of old, lost connections. And apparently even back in them UNIBEN days, I had a thing for Nido milk…

Talent spotting, couch surfing and getting the autumn blues…

Standing at the window looking out – as I am wont to do on most slow Fridays – waiting for our old, creaky coffee machine to piddle out water for my cup of tea, G. asks me if I am ‘talent’ spotting.

I do not ask what exactly he means, but there can be no ambivalence here. The coffee machine sits right next to a large window, with a view which although largely taken up by monolithic grey, granite buildings does include enough of the perennially busy street to provide a feast for sore eyes on most days. Unfortunately on this occasion there is no talent to be spotted. It is that nearly dead period just before lunch hours kick in across the city where most serious talent is locked behind desks squirrelling away at work rather than strutting their stuff across the streets. The clear nip in the air also means that what sparse talent there might be is very well covered up, the skimpy summer outfits now replaced by coats and scarves. G. and I moan about the weather – it is predicted to hover between 10 and 14 degrees all weekend with a smattering of showers here and there; hardly the kind of weather to inspire any serious weekend plans. The darned autumn I suppose.

Early on Saturday morning, I drag myself out of bed, plod in my slippers to my kitchen and grab my now regular morning cup of water. All around there is a dense greyness – thick and heavy like a cloak smothering the horizon – which does little to assuage my lethargy.

In the end, I just about make it to the gym – the sense that a rubicon of sorts might be crossed if I don’t make it for a third straight Saturday is the coup de grâce to my vacillation. It is my regular bit of self-flagellation where my keg-bearing, barely-fit self inevitably ends up flanked by delectable, incredibly fit, well-toned women in skimpy outfits seemingly designed to promote their prime assets. As always, these fine specimens of the human species proceed to run at great speeds and for extreme lengths of time whilst I lumber along. In my defence, I am keen to not hurt my knees again – at least that is how I deal with being hopeless at keeping up with these goddesses.

Having flopped about and pretended to run for all of forty minutes, it is home time for some cereal and yoghurt (surely I am not the only one who has a liking for steaming hot oats doused in fat free yoghurt). I run a hot bath and proceed to get my hovel of a room into a slightly more habitable state. An hour later, various items of clothing have been stashed away with the laundry popped into the machine; at which time my conscience is sated enough to allow me go see a movie at the Beach Boulevard. This time it is About Time, the Richard Curtis film about a time traveling bloke who uses his powers to re-jig his countless faux pas in the quest for love, helping his London host become a renowned playwright by helping the lead character remember his previously fluffed lines. It reeks too much of Love Actually to me – there are only so many ways you can juggle a mix of philosophical voiceovers, Bill Nighly, British accents and a sappy  love theme. Not that I mind too much though, given I have re-watched Love Actually every Christmas since 2006 *cringe*

That sets the tone for the rest of the weekend – football manager on my MacBook, re-runs of the Big-Bang Theory and extended BBM sessions with the kid brother are the only things I get up to till it is Sunday morning and church time.

Not bad going.. I think…

London, Again

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I first moot the idea of meeting up with Tee casually one Saturday evening, between getting a snapshot of her calendar for the next few months – it is chock full with work and travel – and getting tips for scaling back on my coffee drinking, after which it turns out that there are no airports in her corner of the world. That puts the downer on any inclinations to jump on a flight on my part – I famously never travel anywhere I’ll have to sit still for more than 8 hours – until she mentions she might be in London sometime over the next few weeks. It turns out I only get four days notice, and I barely have time to sort out fights and holidays, hop on a flight and appear in London.

She is someone I’ve wanted to meet in person for a while. Since we were introduced, we’ve restricted ourselves to a telephone conversation now and again, and the odd picture swap on WhatsApp – hardly enough to get a sense for what makes her tick or if indeed she just be might the future Mrs S. 🙂

I end up not getting a holiday approved, eventually settling for a quick 36 hour round trip – up to London at mid day on Saturday and back into the ‘Deen for 8pm on sunday night. That leaves me just enough time to get to the gym on Saturday morning, grab my weekly groceries, shower and catch the 727 to the airport at Dyce for my 1.25pm flight.

In the end, my Saturday morning does not work like a well oiled machine. The gym opens 15 minutes late, ASDA’s slightly more full than I recall for a Saturday morning, and I end up back home for just past 11.45am. By the time I have showered, and tossed a pair of jeans and a change of clothes in my bag, it is nearly 12.10pm; too late to catch the 727 so I high tail it to the taxi rank on Union Street and grab a cab, thanks to whose dexterity and quick thinking, I end up at the airport and clear security five minutes before the boarding announcement is made.

By the time I arrive in London, to much wetter, chillier weather than the last time, all that is on my mind is to find my way to the obscure hotel I have booked in Central London and some food. It takes me the better part of an hour and thirty minutes to reach the hotel via the Piccadilly Line to Cockfosters and the Victoria Line to Oxford Circus.  Food ends up being Nandos, thankfully spotted as I made my way thanks to Google Maps via a few backstreets to the hotel. Intermittent text messages between myself and Tee end up being the inspiration to soldier on amidst all my tribulations.

 As I always do on these trips, I make a pitstop at the Dominion Theatre for Hillsong, fortuitously they have a guest speaker on the day, Dr Mal Fletcher on the subject of Being a Marketplace Transformer and how Christians need to engage and transform it rather than ignore it for our bubbles. It is a fitting start to what turns out to be a great day about town.

Tee turns out to be way more gorgeous than her pictures suggest, and we have enough of shared interests to have a wide ranging conversation about anything and everything; so much so that over per-peri chicken and coke zero we talk for so long it is nearly 5pm by the time I reluctantly pull away for the wild race to Heathrow.

Three train changes later, I make it through security at Heathrow, barely in time again; thankful for a delayed flight than ever before, and giddy at just how great an evening I have had.. Somewhere in my heart, my inner romantic hopes that I may have just met theOne 🙂

An English man abroad… Of sorts

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Seems like you’re having a ball for one, the ginger haired man who had seemingly popped out of nowhere said to me as I attempted to retrieve my cup of tea, and turn around at the same time.

Epic fail. I managed to do neither, very nearly tipping my life giving cup of tea over in the process. I had been waiting on our epileptic coffee maker to finish pissing a shot of hot water into my cup, passing the time by whistling to myself and looking out with longing for the clear, sunny day that was out there, just beyond my reach for the next few hours.

The most I could do for a reply, given how startled by his sudden appearance I was, was to mumble something about TGIF counting for something at least, at which we both smiled.

It had been a relatively quiet Friday up until then – Fridays in the summer months tend to be like that on this current work gig as half the team takes alternate Fridays off. Thanks to the sunshine I had slipped into a reverie of sorts, mentally gearing myself up for a long and lazy weekend – hence my whistling – until said ginger haired man popped up and ruined my little party.

We ended up at the coffee table, I leafing through the Times Sports pages and he the Press and Journal. That was the little accident of happenstance that led to him asking me what part of Africa I was from.

Nigeria, I replied to which he flashed a satisfied, slightly smug – I thought – smile.

I very nearly guessed that! You seemed to have the two things I’ve come to expect from Nigerians – a great, happy personality and good English.

I laughed at that – pointing out that having to learn an official language does wonders for your ability, more so if it is the formal language of discourse between people from 252+ ethnic groups.

He nodded. Must be something having to manage all those ethnicities in a country that size.

I nodded in agreement, mentioning that in my home state of Edo, there were at least seven fairly distinct ethnic groups with numerous language and custom delineations within them.

It turned out that he’d never worked in Nigeria, despite having worked across the African oil patch from Algeria’s Hassi R’Mel, via a number of stints in Libya, Egypt and Angola to Esso’s Doba development across the border in Chad.

Missed opportunity pal! I told him. His response was a smile and then a slip into a slightly more reflective mood.

Nigeria never did work out for me. Had a few opportunities to work out of Calabar and Warri. Pay was great but the wife never was comfortable with the security situation.

We were quiet for a few minutes. Until he interjected, again.

I did work with a Nigerian bloke once – offshore Angola.

I looked up as he proceeds to reel off a tale about some bloke called Boma. They’d been drilling offshore Angola back in 2003 – Boma the drilling engineer aboard had shown up to a morning meeting late one day. The drilling supervisor had had a few choice words to say about him in his absence but Boma, ever the jovial, friendly chap had shrugged it off.

The drilling supervisor wouldn’t let up, leaving Boma with no choice but to pull a sheaf of papers from the side pocket on his coveralls.

You know, if I hadn’t stayed up late correcting your English, he told the drilling supervisor, I would have been here earlier. The man across the table from me swears the report was riddled with red ink. That definitely shut the drilling supervisor up for good he swears, to everyone else’s satisfaction. Said Supervisor had a reputation for being a right twat, apparently.

We fell silent for a few more minutes with only the rustling of the turning pages breaking our moment of introspection. After a while, he stood up, stretched and yawned.

Have to run off mate.

He extended his hand for a handshake as I made to leave also.

Iqbal’s the name. Yours is?

Seni, I replied, taking his outstretched hand. He must have spotted my furrowed brow as I tried to process the unspoken question – how did a very English man have a Muslim name, and live and work in Scotland.

Long story, mate. Short version is  I’m English and Muslim, the wife is Tunisian.

I nod as it finally sunk in. That might just have explained why after all his interest in African oil, he did not make a pit stop in Nigeria.

Of Journeys and returns

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London was warm, a tad too warm if the truth must be told. And dry – well, except for that wretched Saturday evening, which in keeping with my rotten luck with these things, was the one day I decided to be out and about into the wee hours of the morning. Other than that, the contrast with the ‘Deen couldn’t have been starker – wet, barely nudging 19 degree weather and warm, dry, 26 degree weather and sunshine, separated by the small matter of sixty five minutes of flying.

I had barely managed to catch my flight to London this time, ending up forgetting my Oyster card as I frantically tossed jeans, t-shirts, shoes and my trusty MacBookAir into my holdall after falling asleep in a state of turmoil. For the umpteenth time, an attempt to get a sit-down with S. failed collosally – it is slowly beginning to sink in that I may be barking up a wrong tree here. Five missed calls and two voice mails from my friend J., didn’t help soothe my mind either. I ended up soaking wet, at 7.20am, having walked the mile between my house and the train station to drop off a package for him. That early start also meant I skipped breakfast, which was why my first action after scaling baggage reclaim at Heathrow was to head off to the Giraffe for a coke and a sandwich. An hour later, I was seated on the Piccadilly line for Cockfosters, hoping to get off at Kings Cross

Across from me, a man sat, hunched forward, headphones in, swaying almost imperceptibly from side to side to whatever music he was listening to. His face had that calm, meditative mien of one at peace with the world and himself, his sandals, shorts and a simple t-shirt with ‘Chicago’ sprawled over the front somehow adding to the image of quiet, simple, acceptance. On the other side from him, an Indian woman sat, hands folded in her lap, eye shut as though fast asleep.

By the time we were past the Hatton Cross station, our carriage was standing room only. A woman and her daughter – she had on the most garish eye lash extensions I have ever seen – had joined the carriage, a family of five – a man, a woman, two teenage sons and a young daughter who could not have been more than seven or eight.

The heat wave had been all over the news – which had prepared me somewhat – leaving images of shirtless, pot-bellied hairy men on the underground seared deeply on my memory. As I hauled my stuff off at the Old Street underground station having switched over at King’s Cross, I was inwardly thankful for having avoided anything that dramatic.

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The main driver for London on this occasion was the Hillsong Europe Conference, and given how much anticipation I had had prior to actually flying, it didn’t fail to deliver. Making my way across the Northern line to London Bridge and then the Jubilee line to North Greenwich, there were dots of people clearly excited about what was coming. The sense of anticipation only heightened the closer one got to North Greenwich at which point just outside the O2 the lines had begun to form even before the scheduled 5.50pm front door opening.

Upon arrival, I joined the back of one of the lines as it inched slowly towards the doors where we were meant to swap our electronic tickets for wrist bands. Somewhere in between, I fell into conversation with a bloke who introduced himself as P. His story, as it spilled out, was one of deep desperation and sadness – apparently he was broke and needed a tenner to sort out a few bills. I ended up parting with £20. In retrospect, given how many names he dropped in the seven minutes or so we spoke for – including a few Nigerian ones – I may have been had; not that I minded much given how pumped up I was.

The conference itself was fab – Brian Houston’s call to embrace Holy Mystery rang very true with the stirring I’d been having about learning to not make everything about my ability to plan and anticipate problems. Judah Smith was funny as always, repeated a few of the jokes I’d heard since I’d committed to preparing for conference by listening to his church podcast but managed to place The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard  in a new light for me. Louie was Louie. #NuffSaid.  All told, it was well worth the money, time and energy expended, that I may have made a couple of new friends was a great bonus to tack on.

The one complaint my friends south of the border usually have is that I don’t come down as often as they might wish. Each trip thus tends to morph into an exercise in optimisation; trying to cram as many meetups into a weekend as possible.

I ended up not meeting Si. A combination of bad planning on my part and having to sort my bags out on Sunday morning at the Dominion meant the little window we had vanished quickly.

I did get to catch E. at Nandos on Friday, at the back end of the conference. And she was great company for what it was worth, at 11pm on a Friday night, clearly knackered from what had been a busy week for her.

My friend K. has always been my one counter cultural, rebel, overly liberal acquaintance – and when it was certain I would be in London long enough to meet up, it was with some trepidation that I agreed to. For starters we argued about where we’d meet – a Starbucks for coffee or a pub for drinks. We ended up at a pub somewhere around Old Street. We got on famously, no issues there,; I ended up accompanying her in the piddling rain as she burnt through three fags in the 2 hours and some we’d spent.

These jaunts are usually incomplete without the obligatory airline gaffe. This time, my flight from Heathrow ended up delayed by an hour and thirty minutes. The culprit, a stuck partition between first class and economy.

SMH.

Goings on – A few quick hits…

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In line at my GP’s, waiting for an audience with the receptionist who I want to confirm an appointment with, I find myself growing impatient despite being only the fifth person in line. It looks, and feels, like everyone and their dog opted to stop by today. It is a warm day and there are at least ten people in various stages of repose on the chairs scattered around the waiting room. Inwardly I am cursing myself and my daftness for choosing lunch to do this. At the head of the queue, a large-ish woman engages the receptionist in a conversation of sorts – if speaking two unrelated languages can be classed as a conversation. She, like me, has an appointment to confirm, unlike me she needs an interpreter to pass her query across. The dour, matronly receptionist seems to be at a loss, unable to determine what is an appropriate response besides saying repeatedly ‘The nurse is not in yet, she’ll call for you when she has an interpreter on the line’. Six times and five minutes later, she has made no headway, and the woman has held the line up for all of that time. Our saving grace is the nurse calling out ‘Olga”, allied with a name I can’t recall. Recognising her  name, she makes her way to the consulting room to be attended to. Needless to say, I am not at my most gracious at the delay – unnecessarily so.

The GP visit has been occasioned by an unexpected bout of malaise. By my standards, four hours and some of sleep is plenty, but over the last few days even that has been about as attainable as a snow storm in the Sahara. I am hoping to have a chat with the GP, get all my vital signs checked, particularly my blood pressure and gain reassurance that nothing major is amiss.

That malaise ends up being unresolved, at least up until Friday when I get dragged out by my friend Q. for peri-peri chicken at Nandos. On a slightly positive, it provides ample material for my return to the3six5NG

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In other,  even more positive news, it is 8 days to the Hillsong Conference Europe, and I am preparing –  by listening over and over to Louie Giglio’s message from Passion 2013 as well as Judah Smith’s and bobbing along to Glorious Ruins. Over the weekend, I got confirmation that my friend E who I haven’t seen since the back end of last year will be attending, even more incentive to look forward to some time away from the ‘Deen since my quick trip to Nigeria in February.

#Can’tWait

House Warming…

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I was the first person in, just before 4.00pm. I had no choice but to RSVP in the affirmative when my friend O.’s invite to his house warming party finally arrived, largely because I had harassed encouraged him strongly into putting it together. He had just bought a house on the other side of town, and starved of hanging out time, I’d seized upon that as an excuse to badger him into setting something up.

Pumping his hand, as I kicked off my shoes and stepped onto his lush persian rug, I could just make out the silhouette of his daughter and her two friends playing in the back garden whilst their mothers put the finishing touches to the cow leg pepper-soup that would be our starter. The room was already infused with the smell of lemon grass and suya spice as the large cauldron of pepper soup just about began to simmer.

F., Uncle Seni’s here…. O. hollered  as I made my way to the back garden. I had to duck as an inflated rubber ball, a felele, bounced up in the air in my direction. The kids had been starved of attention before my appearance and seemed very keen to engage me in a game of football. I had to oblige, alternating between playing the goal keeper and the penalty taker as we ran up a small sweat in the back yard.

So engrossed was I that I didn’t know for how long the other woman helping with the cooking had stood in the doorway watching us play. She did clear her throat to get my attention eventually, simmering plate of pepper soup in tow for a first bite of the evening. At that time it was just past 4.45pm, and I was still the only guest around for a party that was meant to have kicked off at 4.00pm.

The next guests to arrive were N. and his wife, strolling in at ten minutes past five, a bottle of red wine in tow as their contribution to the festivities. Cork popped, and glasses passed we all stood round the kitchen table chatting and catching up on all things that we’d all missed in our corner of the world. Soon after, another young couple arrived with their rambunctious toddler in tow; sometime after that the first big plates of fried rice had begun to wing their way for us to dig in and savour; proper Nigerian fare.

Sometime after 7.00pm, we had a full complement , as with all things Nigerians, the men had somehow drifted away into a small huddle as did the women. The bottles of beer might have had something to do with the loudness of the conversation, the virtual table banging and the wrought emotions as the conversation segued into the murky waters of the intractability of the Nigerian problem, corruption and all the other safe topics fairly well-off people in the diaspora moan about their home country.

I found the noise a little too much for me, ending up in the extension to the living room, next to the garden. A few minutes later, baby K. sauntered in, extending her arms wanting to be carried. I obliged, just before she promptly fell asleep on my lap.

I may have fallen asleep myself because the next thing I remembered was Mrs N. plumping into the seat next to me. She, ever the gracious seeker of introverted partiers, had noticed I wasn’t amongst the guys talking loudly and gesturing wildly, and had taken it upon herself to find me.

She relieved me of baby K, laying her to sleep in her cot nearby and then returned to converse. I’d been itching to have a conversation with Mrs N. about B. the current cause of my latest phase of over-thinking :”>. She obliged, listening graciously as I moaned about her penchant for not responding to text messages in a timely manner or her extreme attention to work (she’s the one person I can safely say is more of a workaholic than I am, no mean feat).

It was past 9.00pm when the crowd began to thin out. Baby K. was still asleep, peacefully oblivious of the ruckus we’d kicked up. As I dropped off what must have been my third plate of fried rice, I remember being thankful that I would have no part in the clean up after the storm.

About Town

The bright warm sunshine that streamed in through the office windows – whilst I was hard at work on Friday afternoon – vanished in time for the weekend, true to form. Up here in my little corner of the world, the one gripe that we all – rich, poor, cab driver, CEO, native born or immigrant – share, is the weather and its propensity to turning on a whim at the most inopportune of moments.

 For the last hour of work, I had fantasised about the weekend, and all the fun exciting things I was going to get up to – an hour at the gym, lunch and then a movie with Q., a house warming party at O.’s and an extended video editing session at the church I do life at.

It was only 8.30am before my genuine enthusiasm for the weekend was worn away by the weather, leaving my well laid plans in tatters. It was classic wet, cold and windy, and just the sight of the fog rolling in over Pittodrie from the relative warmth of my kitchen window did my lethargy no end of good. I did manage to drag myself to the gym on Saturday morning – thanks to the tenacity of my god daughter. She and her dad O. attend early start swimming classes at the city gym I use, and the one time I didn’t plan on being there at the same time that she would, I ended up being squealed to over the phone. In fairness to her, she’s one of my biggest fans, bragging non-stop to her Mom and Uncle about how fit I have become – burgeoning belly keg or not.

 Gym done and dusted, it turned out my friend Q. was no longer up for a movie – we’d wanted to see Man of Steel- so I did the next best thing for me which was to head home and grab lunch. Lunch was a cup of oats with skimmed milk, microwaved, whilst I looked out of my window at the foggy horizon.

Lunch done, I ended up on my couch, curled up with a book, and an eye on the TV and re-runs of The Big Bang Theory. The book was Juan Gabriel Vasquez’s ‘The sound of Things Falling‘ (Telegraph review here), a meandering tale of chance encounters, a disillusioned law professor and an ex-convict somehow ending up with intertwined lives in the aftermath of Columbia’s drug wars and the death of Pablo Escobar.

By the time I was wrapping up the book, it was well past 11pm – the house warming party had been missed and dinner ended up being another (bigger) bowl of cereal, which was how I ended up spending well nigh all of my Saturday indoors.

The plus side was I’d finally completed a book in 2013 – it’s been a piss poor year (non-academic) reading wise for me – and I felt well rested…

Life’s good…