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Borderline Madness

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I shall open today’s diatribe with another quote. This time it’s one I heard on the radio last night about an artist who broke into the Penguin enclosure at a major zoo and wrote “WE’RE BORED OF FISH” on the wall. Just how genius is that?

Anyway. On to the story of the weekend. We shall begin as is most fitting at the beginning. I woke up… In a bit of a panic as I knew that we had to be in Gretna for the wedding by 2pm. It was currently 8am and we had to shower, walk and feed the dogs, iron my shirt, remove all the dog hair from my suit, wrap the present, make the card, pack our stuff for the overnight stay, pack all into the car and many many other things. So I walked the dogs no problem. Then I decided I would wrap the present. The present being cylindrical threw me a little as I have all the present-wrapping skills of a delirious skunk with Parkinson’s Disease and I ended up in a fit of temper tearing my feeble attempt at wrapping to shreds. In an attempt to make myself feel better I made myself a coffee and Mrs M a mug of tea and sat down at the dining table to make the card. It’s then that I knocked the mug of tea over, drenching all the card stuff we’d prepared, along with the gift tag and the floor and turning our nice brown table white. By now I was verging on the sort of temper usually associated with Norse Gods. Nothing was safe. I repeatedly used the three worst words I could think of so loud that people on the other side of the village were probably cringing. After being sent out to calm down by Mrs M (the police-person in our relationship) I retrieved some ring-stain-remover from my mother in law who grinned at me as if she knew that I’d been a prat all morning, and I used my mother’s printer to reprint the card materials. I won’t go in to the rest of the morning, but you can see how it was going.

Then we set off. The journey was quite relaxing and reasonably nice. For a short while Mrs M threw a fit at the stupidity of other drivers, but on the whole it was a calm and sunny trip.

We arrived, booked into our hotel and got a taxi to the venue where we met for drinks. The wedding itself went smooth as anything and was lovely and interesting, being unusual and in a blacksmith’s shop. I shall skip now to the reception.

During the gift-giving (to best man and bridesmaid and so on) I was lucky enough to get a photograph of the best man clutching his unwrapped present: An airsoft BB gun in the form of an MP5 machine weapon. The gleam in his eye was somewhat disturbing. An unusual gift I think. Then there were the favours on the table. The girls all got something expensive and smelly (kind of like me) and the men got a miniature Malt Scotch Whisky. There were also children there and they received things like cardboard fighter planes and so on. A man we shall call Cousin It spent some time trying to trade his whisky for a fighter plane, but none of the kids were having that at all. Fools! Damned fools! So in the end we had to make our own entertainment at the dinner table, which included catapulting small objects into the air using a device formed of a split cork and a heavy weight, and projectile corks powered by the torsion created using the wrapping from the favours. This was Cousin It’s invention and was remarkably successful, sending a cork quite some distance with a surprising degree of power. This made it twice as funny when people misfired and shot themselves in the forehead with it.

I drank perhaps a little too much. I know I’ve done that when I start to drivel like an idiot, which I’m pretty sure I did towards the end of the night. And, of course, to dribble. Drivel and dribble go so well together.

There was an interesting interlude during the after-reception drinks. The father of the bride cut his speech real short as he was determined to watch the first episode of the new season of Doctor Who and wouldn’t let the wedding get in the way. In fact, when time came for the program to start, half the crowd from the wedding crammed in to the bridal suite to watch it! Peculiar no? The Bridal suite crammed with people watching sci-fi. Almost everyone at the wedding except the bride!

The next day we were going to meander back to the village slowly and look at Roman sites and Abbeys on the way. I climbed into my jeans and realised I’d forgotten to bring a t-shirt. So there went I into the Scottish borderlands wearing a purple shirt that reeked and was crumpled that clashed with my blue jeans so badly that I formed the worst sort of mobile eyesore. I looked sort of like Quentin Crisp would have if he’d gone through a vagrant phase. I looked and smelled like I’d slept on a urine-soaked park bench. Yay.

So out with the directions. I’d carefully plotted the places we wanted to see (including Bewcastle Roman outpost fort) on Autoroute and printed out the list of directions and map. And it was all fine and dandy until we passed through Longtown. From then on I discovered just how useless Autoroute is. As long as roads have names or numbers it’s fine, but up there in the hinterland, the following is precious little use:

  • Turn left – local road 0.33 miles
  • Turn left – local road 312 yards
  • Turn right – local road 1.4 miles
  • Turn left – local road 12 yards

And so on…

dozens and dozens of these entries. You just don’t have time to follow them over distances like 12 yards. And they seemed to bear precious little resemblance to the actual road system anyway. And to add to the confusion, most of the drives that lead to the big houses up there look more like roads than the actual roads do. Surprisingly few junctions had signs and when they did, they had inevitable rusted so badly they were illegible or had fallen over, or both. Where there WERE signs that were legible and didn’t point either to Neptune or a patch of uninteresting moss (of which we found 5 in almost an hour of driving) they seemed to contradict each other. We found, entirely by accident, a sign for “Bewcastle 6” and followed it along the road until it brought us to another sign for “Bewcastle 7”. We had driven a mile in the right direction, only to find ourselves a mile further away. Then there was the sign for Brampton that we followed along a road only to find another sign for Brampton at the other end pointing back the way we had come. Perhaps the locals in the area have tremendous fun at night by messing with signs to trap unwary foreigners. I know I would.

In the end we managed to visit the sites and came home with a sense of a full weekend.

And I changed into a t-shirt which didn’t smell like I’d fouled myself.

More fun soon as it’s a massive birthday weekend coming up.



Written by SJAT

December 24, 2010 at 11:52 am

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