The Bridge

As I suggested in my previous post, I have started watching ‘The Bridge’, a Swedish/Danish co-produced detective series.

The basic set-up is that a body is found in the middle of the Oresund Bridge, which links the Danish capital Copenhagen with the Swedish city of Malmö. In fact, the body is found right on the dividing line between the two countries’ jurisdictions, and matters are complicated further when forensics go to move the body and find that it is actually the legs of one woman arranged beneath the torso of a different woman. To seal the deal and ensure that the Danish and Swedish police forces are both involved, one woman was Swedish and the other Danish.

This bizarre premise sets up what looks to be unfolding into a fairly standard serial-killer-with-a-grudge-about-certain-social-issues story (his initial point is that we aren’t all equal before the law – the Danish victim was a prostitute and when she went missing the investigation was shelved after a fortnight, and he posits the theory that the investigation into the Swedish woman’s murder won’t end s quickly as she is a politician and so in the public eye).

However, the story isn’t really what prompted me to blog. The visual style of the show is very distinctive and reminds me of the BBC’s production of the Wallander series and also something else, and I can’t quite remember what. The vast majority of the action happens at night, but rather than being dark the areas are lit by the harsh artificial glow of streetlights and neon signs. It is often the case that the only thing moving on screen is the scene’s main characters, and the sound has been altered so that often there is no background noise other than that made by the actions of the characters, giving the whole thing a disturbed, dreamlike quality. It is also preoccupied with showing the less attractive areas of Copenhagen and Malmö. This, combined with the washed-out palette lends a feeling not so much of despair but more disappointment or disillusionment to the proceedings, as if it isn’t just the colours that have faded, but hope too.

Finally, the Swedish detective Saga Noren (the blonde lady in the picture) is as nutty as a fruitcake. I honestly have no idea how she got through any form of psychological screening to become a police officer. Her behaviour is truly eccentric; she is blunt beyond the point of rudeness, utterly selfish and inconsiderate and seems completely unaware of the social norms (twice in the first episode she strips down to her bra to change her top, both times in the middle of conversations with her boss or her new partner as if nothing could be more normal).

There is also a sequence involving her which goes something like this:

Scene 1:

[Saga is wandering around her flat reading a large book entitled ‘Equality Before The Law’ or something similar. She pauses, puts her hand down her trousers and smiles.]

Scene 2:

[Saga walks into a bar. Makes eye contact with Handsome Chappy across the bar. He walks over.]

HC: Are you waiting for someone?

SN: No.

HC: Can I buy you a drink?

SN: No

[HC walks back to his original position, turns his back on SN and has a drink. SN waits a couple of seconds, clearly confused and then follows him.]

SN: Why did you walk away? [pause] I just didn’t want you to buy me a drink.

HC: [puzzled] OK….

SN: Would you like to have sex with me back at my flat?

HC: [pleasantly confused] Yes, definitely.

[They leave]

Scene 3:

SN and HC are having sex. They finish. She rolls over, turning her back on HC and taking 99% of the duvet with her, all without saying a word, and promptly dozes off. HC is understandably confused.

A few minutes later, HC has dozed off, and SN wakes up. She seems a little surprised to find HC in bed next to her, promptly removes his arm from her shoulders and gets up, fires up her laptop and starts browsing through the autopsy findings which were given to her on CD earlier.

Unfortunately, I have only managed to get the first three episodes on iPlayer, so the third will determine whether or not I invest in the DVD. There are only ten episodes, and with the DVD costing £25 online at the moment, it’s one which will have to wait if I decide to continue with doolally detectives and sleazy Scandinavia.

Forbrydelsen

Or as you’re more likely to know it….

Series One

As you probably know, I like detective stories and I like Scandinavia. In fact, I really like Scandinavian detective stories, so things don’t get much better than this for me.

In the last few weeks, I have watched the two series currently in existence and really enjoyed both. I think I prefer the longer-format detective shows to the feature-length, self-contained shows we tend to get in Britain. That’s not to say the format is perfect – the first series, and to a lesser extent the shorter (and that is significant) second series suffer slightly from the dramatic device which requires each episode to end on a cliffhanger.

However, the extended running time does allow the characters to develop and I think my favourite thing about The Killing was the lack of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ characters. As events play out, peoples’ motivations are more clearly and delicately expressed making them much more realistic and believable as a result. We see them compromise, give in to their emotions and make stupid but understandable mistakes.

Series Two

All of this, added to some brilliant acting (I can’t get enough of the subtle little mannerisms which make the characters seem even more real) and the occasional shot of some striking Scandinavian scenery has made this one of my favourite TV shows at the moment.

I’m now off to iPlayer ‘The Bridge’ and see if that’s any cop.

Charity

As sometimes happens, motive and opportunity collided last night. As I’ve mentioned before, I want to travel around Northern Europe, particularly Scandinavia. I also like to do things for charity, so when Cystic Fibrosis wrote to my mum with details of their fundraising ideas, and included was a trek around Iceland, I thought things were coming together brilliantly.

However, things are never that simple, or so it seems. In order to do this charity trek, I would have to pay an entry fee of £299, and pledge to raise at least £2,800 for the charity.

I understand that they don’t want people going along for a cheap holiday. I also understand that obviously they need a reasonable amount of money for administrative costs (I guess they arrange campsites etc for you), but it seems a little extreme to charge £299 just to enter, and then expect you to raise nearly ten times that amount as a minimum. I have requested more information from them just in case I have missed something important.

The thing that I want to know is what happens if I pay my entrance fee, and then fail to meet the fundraising pledge? Suppose I only raise £1,500 – would they refund my fee and then open my space to someone else, who now has less time to raise the much-needed money? By doing so, they would lose out on the £1,800 I had secured them, and risk my replacement similarly being unable to meet the target. Or do they only want people who can guarantee to raise that sort of money?

I’ll be honest, I don’t think I could get that sort of money raised. I know this isn’t an accurate measure, but I only have about 170 Facebook friends. Add about a dozen relatives into the mix, and then a couple of dozen more co-workers who aren’t on Facebook, and even the most optimistic estimates would suggest that these 200-ish people would each need to sponsor me £14. Clearly, that’s if everyone sponsors me. I think when I did my 10k run last autumn, I had somewhere in the region of 40-50 people (at a generous estimate) sponsoring me. Given that I’m fishing in pretty much the same pool, that’s 1 in 4 people, meaning that in order to hit my target, I would need each of them to sponsor me about £60.

There are ways in which I could try to increase the proportion of people I know who will sponsor me. However, I am reluctant to pester people until they give in. I think charity should (quite literally) be something you do voluntarily, and because you want to, not because someone you know is twisting your arm and you don’t want to offend them by saying no. Too many charities try to bully you into giving through persistent requests either by post or clipboard-wielding people on your local high street. I don’t want to become like that, and I don’t want people to feel guilty for not giving – there are plenty of charities that I recognise as worthy causes that I don’t give to for one reason or another, be it a lack of ready cash, or the fact that I have charities I rank higher on my own list.

In the end, I think charities shoot themselves in the foot by demanding so much. It reduces the number of people who are able, and – more importantly – willing to give their time and money to the cause.

Distant Dreams

In my first post, I mentioned that I wanted to go travelling. When you flick through the images on the link, it’s easy to see why Japan is very high on my list of places to visit. There can be few other places in the world with such a distinctive style.

However, this remains quite a long way away, both geographically and financially at the moment. The cheapest flights out to Japan are over £500, and that’s before you even begin to think about accommodation and travel within the country itself.

A more reasonable destination at the moment is Germany, another country I really want to visit. This has little in common with Japan in terms of  style or culture, and yet I find the prospect of travelling around the cities and countryside just as appealing. Not only is it likely to be much more affordable (not least thanks to the European railcards that are available), but having studied German for my GCSEs, I have a reasonable grasp of the basics of the language. A little further study should make me able to carry out a few simple conversations with the locals.

In addition to Japan and Germany, I also wish to visit Italy and Scandinavia, in particular Rome and Tuscany, and Sweden respectively. Again, this is something of a random mix, but there is something which I can’t articulate about each place which attracts me.

As mentioned in the very first post, I want to make up for lost time and start doing the things I’ve always wanted to do, particularly travelling. I hope to make a start on this over the next twelve months or so, and with my dad living just over the border in Belgium, Germany is a realistic aim. Watch this space!

It’s A New Dawn, It’s A New Day, It’s A New Life For Me….

Since my application to join Kent Police was terminated, I have been doing a lot of thinking. For the last two-and-a-half years, my life has been in limbo as I waited (mostly in vain) for news, and hopefully a start date. For most of my waiting time, I have been working part-time, and not undertaking any commitments that could potentially be affected by the Police contacting me with the eight-weeks’ notice period they assured me I would get. Now, I’ve been freed to do whatever I want to do (or should that be, whatever I can afford to do?) as soon as I want to and also make plans for the medium and long term.

Therefore, I’ve been taking stock of where I am right now. (Before I go much further, please forgive the slightly New Age air to some of these sentences; I’m not turning into a hippie, I promise!) I’m evaluating every aspect of my existence, deciding what I’m happy with and what I’m not, and then making a plan for those areas which I feel need improving.

To start with, I am looking for a new job. I’ve been stacking shelves for three years now since I left university, and this really isn’t where I saw myself as I closed in on the age of 25. The people I work with are great, and if, when I find a new job, my new colleagues are half as nice I will consider myself very lucky. However, that isn’t enough. The work is mind-numbingly repetitive, and the promotion prospects are limited and not particularly appealing. Finally, work is currently about a hundred miles away from Emma. The main criteria for any new position are: (in no particular order) better paid, better prospects, more intellectual stimulation and closer to Emma.

Secondly, I need to have a clear-up. A rolling stone gathers no moss, so goes the saying. Unfortunately, my static situation has led to me gathering a lot of moss. I have lots of paper everywhere, most of it either recyclable, reusable, or entirely unnecessary. Then I have things like half-used pens, cans of shaving foam and gadgets I’ve never employed for their intended purpose. Added to all that are piles of logo t-shirts that are a relic of my teenage and university years, many of which are half a size too small and, I feel, I am too old for. I should be wearing grown-up things like shirts. With collars! Everything needs a thorough, unsentimental and ruthless sort out. This will even extend to uninstalling applications I don’t use from my laptop, and deleting files I haven’t opened for months.

Then, I need to do more to occupy my free time. Many of my school friends are scattered around the country, and I see very little of them as a result. However, I can’t claim to see much more of those left in and around Folkestone. This really should change. I also want to be more productive outside of work. As much as I enjoy it, perhaps Football Manager isn’t the best way to spend my weekends. I’ve picked up my paintbrushes in recent weeks, and produced two paintings I’m quite proud of, and I would like to do more. At the moment, I am restricting myself to copying images downloaded from the internet (not that sort of image!) using a limited palette, but I want to expand my scope in the months and years to come. On top of that, I harbour vague dreams of writing something more relevant and less personal than the occasional blog entry. Perhaps an insightful, socially aware graphic novel would kill two birds with one stone?

I would also like to do something that I feel develops me in some way. To that end, I have signed up to a taster course in Japanese. I am considering refreshing and improving my German too, both of which are linked to another aspect of my mini-reinvention. I want to go travelling. Not in the predictable “look-at-me,-I-spent-six-months-travelling-round-Thailand,-Singapore,-Australia-and-New-Zealand-getting-drunk-with-loads-of-other-British-backpackers” way, but I genuinely want to go to another country and spend a couple of weeks, maybe longer visiting areas I’ve heard about and learning about the country as a whole: soaking up the atmosphere, doing things I wouldn’t otherwise do, seeing things I wouldn’t otherwise see and generally experiencing another culture, even if it isn’t all that far removed from my own.

Finally, combining the last two points, I want to get fitter, and stay fitter. Last October, I ran 10k for Cancer Research. I trained fairly hard for about six weeks to get fit enough to complete the course, and then, once it was over, I gave up. I found excuse after excuse. The weather wasn’t very nice; I was too tired; I had other plans. A couple of days of lax behaviour turned into a week, a week into a month, and now, ten months later, I must confess I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve been out running since I crossed the finish line.

Over the coming weeks, I will attempt to capture an impression of myself as I am now, in August 2010, so that I can clearly measure my progress over the coming months and years. These snapshots will be anything from my favourite activities, books, music and films, to aims and plans, so that I can publicly tick things off my list and perhaps obtain a greater sense of achievement from doing so.

The travels of Phil no. 19: Watford

On Saturday, 17th April 1999, my Dad and I went to Nottingham for the very first time. Forest were struggling, and eventually succumbed to a narrow 1-0 defeat to Tottenham. Even though my first trip to the City Ground hadn’t gone as I’d hoped, I didn’t regret going.

On Saturday, 12th March 2005, I sat in the cold at Portman Road, Ipswich, and watched as the home team put six goals past a Forest that was slowly sinking into League One. Annoyed as I was, I didn’t regret going.

On Monday, 2nd January 2006, having endured the cold of my house at university for the New Year holiday, I watched as Forest stumbled through a match against Colchester, equalising in the last minute, only to go and concede twice in injury time. Disappointed, frustrated and frozen though I was, I didn’t regret going.

On Tuesday, 10th March 2009, I spent the better part of six-and-a-half hours on trains and the underground to get to Vicarage Road, Watford, and watched Forest lose 2-1 to a well-organised and attacking Watford side. Even though it was the cheapest match I’d been to all season, both in terms of travel and ticket price, I wondered whether it had really been worth it. For the first time in my history of supporting Forest, I almost regretted going.

The probable reasons for this are many and varied. Perhaps it is my growing disillusionment with football in general; perhaps it has something to do with the arrogant, ignorant, confrontational idiots who have put me off visiting the Forest forum I have frequented for the last six or seven years; perhaps it is the fans I hear on matchdays who pay good money not for the opportunity to support their team, but to hurl abuse and criticism at certain players who are giving their all for the shirt; perhaps it has something to do with my growing irritation with Billy Davies, his stupid press statements, his stupid tactics and that Forest seem to be going backwards under his management; perhaps it is other things that have put football into perspective, and have reinforced the fact that, when all’s said and done, it’s only a game. Whatever the reasons, this game left me lower than many of the previous defeats I have witnessed or heard. Probably the only time I have felt more dispirited was the evening I spent glued to the radio when I should have been revising for my final year exams listening to Forest collapse at home to Yeovil in the play-off semi-final.

One thing I know that hurt the most was that after all my efforts to get to Watford, I had to leave early. In all the years I have been going to watch Forest, I have never left early. It’s a personal taboo I hoped never to break, but train times, an unusually high incidence of injuries and a referee with a laid-back attitude to timekeeping conspired to force me to leave a good ten minutes before the end. Whilst walking back to Watford Junction, I heard three or four great cheers from the crowd and one massive boo, and for a brief second I allowed myself to dream that I had walked out on the greatest comeback of the 21st Century as far as Forest were concerned, but deep in my heart of hearts I knew it wasn’t the case. There was nothing about the Forest side I saw that night to suggest that such a feat was within their capabilities. 

The Travels of Phil no’s. 14 & 15: Forest v Norwich, a.k.a. My day as an undercover agent, and Norwich v Forest, a.k.a. returning the favour.

One of the best things about Forest’s promotion back in May was the fact that they were now in the same division as Norwich City, a club supported by none other than my former Fruit & Veg colleague, Mr. Thomas Ripley Esq. As soon as Forest’s promotion was confirmed, we agreed to go to both of the Forest-Norwich clashes, and on each occasion sit in amongst the away fans in order to sample the superior atmosphere.

Part One: Nottingham Forest 1-2 Norwich City, Nottingham, Saturday 22nd November 2008

The first part of this double-header took place in Nottingham at the end of November. The match was being broadcast live on Sky, and so the kick-off had been put back from the usual 3.00pm to 5.20pm.

Tom kindly drove, and having left Bethersden at about 11.00am, we arrived in Nottingham after a long, clear run at 3.00pm-ish despite my somewhat erratic navigating. I worked out afterwards that it was something like five years since I had last been up to Nottingham in a car, and one entire section of the journey (around Melton Mowbray, home of the pork pies) had changed, and also I slightly misjudged the exit on one of the roundabouts, leading to us approaching the stadium from a slightly different angle from the one I knew. (See how I’ve crowbarred my excuses in already?) The only noteworthy occurence was a strange whining noise which Tom’s car emitted at irregular intervals on the M20, the source of which we were unable to identify.

Having eventually parked only a couple of minutes’ walk from the stadium, we wandered along in the bitter cold (more on this later – the cold became an enduring feature of the afternoon) and spent a brief period of time in a bar called Amici’s, before moving on to the club shop where I splashed out on a new Forest home shirt. We then returned to the car to drop the new shirt off – as we were sitting amongst the Norwich fans, we agreed it probably wasn’t sensible to sit there clutching a Forest shirt – and then made our way into the ground and took our seats.

After a while the match kicked off, and Forest looked the brighter of the two teams, though Norwich weren’t without their moments. The turning point of the match arrived early: as a throughball was played, the Norwich defence parted like the Red Sea, as Tom put it. Nathan Tyson, playing the part of Moses in this metaphor, sprinted through only to be completely wiped out by a late sliding challenge from the one and only Ginger Pele, Gary Doherty. ‘The Doc’ received his marching orders, and Forest were awarded a free-kick right on the edge of the Norwich area. Forest’s free-kick was well saved by Norwich goalkeeper David Marshall, and on the counter-attack Norwich earned a corner. Forest failed to clear the corner properly and Matty Pattison volleyed home at the back post to give Norwich the lead. These two events pretty much killed the game as Norwich became much less adventurous and attempted to keep what they had rather than look for more. Following Doherty’s dismissal, Norwich reshuffled their side, and replaced their midfield midget, Wes Hoolahan, with none other than Jon Otsemobor, described by Tom as "one of the worst players I’ve ever seen".

Forest equalised just over fifteen minutes later as Paul Anderson broke down the left, cut inside and curled a low shot past Marshall into the far corner. It was soon half-time, and the consensus of opinion amongst the Norwich fans around Tom and I was that Forest would come out in the second half and use their extra man to pound Norwich into submission. However, things didn’t quite turn out like that…

Forest made a small change at half-time, removing Matt Thornhill who was apparently struggling with an ankle injury, and replacing him with Garath McCleary. However, this change didn’t have much of an effect and Forest huffed and puffed without creating any clear-cut chances. Norwich retook the lead in bizarre fashion in the 73rd minute as a nothing ball in from Lee Croft was nudged into his own net by Chris Cohen. A small group of crazy East Anglians decided to celebrate by removing their shirts and windmilling them round their heads. As I may have mentioned, it was freezing cold at the time. This, and Jon Otsemobor’s erratic passing, provided the only entertainment to be had.

Having been very sluggish throughout the second half, it was difficult to see how Forest could come back from this, and even the introduction of Lee Martin didn’t help matters. Though they failed to create any clear-cut chances, an assortment of Forest players drew excellent saves from David Marshall in the Norwich goal. The game finished at 2-1, and Norwich went home with an unlikely three points.

We exited the stadium, and on my way I stumbled over some seats. After leaving the stadium it became clear how cold it actually was. Away from the close proximity of hundreds of other people, both Tom and I soon started shivering, despite our many layers. The car was a welcome retreat from the cold, and the heater made it more attractive, even if I had to share it with a Norwich fan…

The journey home went as smoothly as the trip up, aside from a small moment of confusion in the one-way system of one town which had us heading towards Leicester rather than London (my wonderful navigating again!). The bizarre whining made a reappearance, again on the M20 but there still seemed no obvious explanation. I should perhaps have pointed out earlier that Tom’s car is no old banger – it’s a rather nice Ford Fiesta – and so the whining isn’t likely to be due to any holes of loose parts!

And so ended the first half of the Norwich – Forest showdown. All our attention turned to five weeks later, when the teams met again at Carrow Road.

Part Two: Norwich City 2-3 Nottingham Forest, Norwich, Sunday 28th December 2008

The second clash began much as the first had. Tom drove again, and for most of the journey up there, we followed the same route as before, though we turned off in a different direction, and cut across the northern part of East Anglia towards Norwich. Tom brought a Sat Nav thingamyjig with him, clearly not trusting me to find my own arse with a map, let alone the way to a large city!

We arrived very early indeed, the Sat Nav having done its job very well, and got us to Norwich inside three hours. We parked in a large car park Tom had used before, and set off for the short walk to the stadium. Fifteen minutes later, we were still wandering around, this time in another car park with only a vague idea of where we were. It turned out we’d missed our turning, and having walked most of the way back to the car we found the right road and then spotted the stadium through the trees. After stumbling (in my case) down a set of wooden steps and along a dirt track at the back of some houses, we emerged blinking into the grey winter sunlight only a couple of hundred yards at most from Carrow Road.

After a short period of time wandering around the stadium in search of somewhere warm other than the large Morrisons just across the road, we devoured a better than expected cheeseburger and made our way to the club shop for a browse before moving back to the area just outside the turnstiles we would need to go through to get to our seats. Imagine our surprise then as Glenn Roeder, Norwich manager and relegation specialist strode past, and entered the ground through the double doors intended as a quick exit for fans at the end of the game. This, and the subsequent arrival of some (but not all for some unknown reason) of the Norwich players explained why there was a gaggle of home fans lurking in this area which Tom had remarked on as we got there.

Once the doors opened, we made our way inside, and having found our seats and admired the view (Forest’s goalkeeping coach warming up Paul Smith whilst wearing a pair of thermal tights – nowhere near as erotic as it sounds…), we went back inside in search of a hot drink. Both of us opted for the hot chocolate, surely a bargain at £1.60 a cup? Erm… yes, if you consider boiling water with a little, vaguely chocolate-tasting, sugar dissolving at the bottom to be pretty much the same thing as hot chocolate. Delia would be ashamed!

The match carried a lot more interest than the average one for me due to the fact that after a shambolic 4-2 home defeat to Doncaster (who were only a place below us at the time), Forest’s manager, Colin Calderwood, had been sacked and his replacement had yet to be named, leaving reserve team coach John Pemberton in charge for what was an very important game itself. Norwich started the match five points and only two places above Forest, and a defeat would drag them right into the relegation scrap. Another thing that made this game special was the four-page interview with Jon Otsemobor in the Norwich programme – it just had to be him!

Forest dominated from the off, and aside from a couple of half-chances, Norwich didn’t look like creating many chances. It was no real surprise when Forest took the lead in the 17th minute, Nathan Tyson breaking down the left and putting in a deep cross which found Matt Thornhill on the edge of the ‘D’. Thorhill took the ball down and his shot bounced in off the post. Lewis McGugan added to the lead right on the half hour mark, winning the ball, beating one defender and slotting the ball under David Marshall. The score remained 0-2 through to half-time, and Forest looked pretty comfortable.

During the break, Norwich replaced David Bell with Darel Russell, and while this change didn’t have an immediate impact the introduction of Antoine Sibierski just before the hour signalled an upturn in Norwich’s fortunes. His added aerial threat had the Forest back line looking a little worried, and it was only a matter of time before the pressure told. Forest failed to clear a corner and the ball fell to Darel Russell on the edge of the area. His shot was heading for Lee Camp’s bottom right hand corner until Ian Breckin stuck out a foot to block it and merely diverted it into the top left corner of the net.

However, this seemed to signal the end of Norwich’s pressure, or possibly it was the kick up the backside Forest needed as they seemed to reassert their control on the game. The moment of the day came in the 89th minute as Rob Earnshaw, the former Canary himself, latched onto a throughball from Joe Garner, turned inside Gary Doherty and chipped the ball over Marshall to rub salt into the wounds of the Norwich fans. He celebrated with his trademark forward flip right in front of the travelling fans. This should have been the end of things, but with Forest nothing is straightforward. Two minutes into the five which the referee added on, Joe Garner dived to clear a Wes Hoolahan cross, only to get things completely the wrong way round, and send the ball flying into the top corner of his own net with what Tom and I agreed was the best header of the day. This made things a little nervier than necessary, but Forest held out and took all three points home.

As the players celebrated, and applauded the fans, Lee Camp threw his shirt into the crowd. With the benefit of hindsight, this was a clear goodbye as this match marked the end of his loan spell. In conjunction with some later comments regarding his return to QPR, it seems logical to suggest that he knew something that the club had yet to announce regarding the new manager, and knew that despite his impressive performances his loan was not going to be extended or made a permanent transfer.

The journey home took a lot longer than necessary, due to a vehicle fire on the M11, which caused a massive tailback that had us sitting on an elongated sliproad for about an hour and a half. During this time we were entertained by a dozing pensioner and the funniest urinating German I have ever seen (admittedly, he’s the funniest from a field of one but don’t let that detract from his comical behaviour), who insisted on doing part of his urination, and then running in the campest way possible for about twenty yards in order to keep up with the creeping traffic before resuming his bladder-emptying. He repeated this several times before his family relented and pulled onto the hard shoulder.

The rest of the journey was nowhere near as amusing and nowhere near as slow either. The whining noise of a month before returned briefly near Maidstone, but still couldn’t be identified. We finally returned to chez Tom about 9.00pm in the end, whereupon I returned home with a broad smile on my face.

YOU REDDSSSS!!