Thursday, 4 August 2011

Panic on the streets of Congleton! Also: General Store

A shocked feeling overcame me when I saw the Ebay fees for this month amounted to slightly over £50. More fool me for not being aware that they charge you about ten per cent, I suppose. On that note, do buy something, won't you? On a less mercenary note, I popped out today and picked up some more balsa wood and foamcard. See below for the General Store's current appearance. Of perhaps more interest was an excellent arrival in the post this morning: Dark Skies is here. Needless to say, I've been exposing myself to episodes I don't really remember from half a lifetime ago. The show ran in the US in '96-7, so I expect we got it a year later when I was in the Sixth Form at school. I've mentioned it to friends, who have either a vague recollection of something or who have no idea what I'm on about, like the three friends I spoke to about it on Saturday. I think they didn't remember Babylon 5, either, and one had mysteriously missed every episode of The X-Files. Call Mulder and Scully. Everyone else really was doing homework back in the day. No wonder my A-level results were so dreadful! :-D

Did I ever tell you kids the story of How I Met Your Mother? That show's made two or three references to the mother in six series? With that sort of pedigree I can tell you a rambling tale from my childhood with as much justification that it's "how I met your mother" - except I'm not dating anyone. Mm, but I'm not a fictional character, so I'm back to level-pegging. "Story, Pete!" Oh, yeah. I was lying in bed, and it was so nice and warm and comfy, when suddenly Dad knocked apologetically at my door, peering in to let me know that he had overslept, his alarm not having gone off, and that I now had about thirty minutes to get to school for one of my German A-level exams. It's a thirty-ish minute trip in good traffic. So I threw on my clothes, bundled my brother into the car, and roared off into the distance. I can't say with any honesty that my brother was pleased with my driving that morning. I think fear is an apt adjective, and anger is another good one. I was monomaniacal. Let me reassure any policemen reading this that I'm sure I kept to the speed limits. Probably. It's more than a decade ago, officer. I couldn't say for sure.

We certainly overtook a lot of people, and it's probably the only occasion when I have ever stood a chance of making a good time round the Top Gear test track. So we reached Newcastle, and hit a traffic jam. Oh. We managed to get past it after several agonising minutes, and got to school. For some reason one of the groundsmen took exception to my driving into the Quad. It's probably because it was full of schoolchildren, and you can't drive cars there. Some minor bureaucratic detail such as that. I stopped the car outside A-block, decamped, and flew indoors. I may have thrown the keys at my shell-shocked sibling or he may have fled the madman's car at the earliest opportunity. I burst through the doors of the Memorial (for the Great War, and later the Second World War) Hall just before the papers were to be given out, my tie clutched in my fist, and my socks tucked in my pocket, a sheen of sweat on my fat, red face. I got there in time.

I don't think it helped much, though. GCSEs had been so easy that I had been dissuaded from studying much for A-levels. The fact that I was going through your basic teenage depression (with a few bells and whistles) didn't help, either. My A-levels were awfully disappointing. That said, if I'd got the good results I had expected, I'd never have ended up in Lampeter. If I had to do it all over again, I'd rather go there than anywhere else. The people I met there were wonderful, and they have become if anything even more so. The university gave me a nice degree in Classics, then I hung about for another year getting a Masters in Ancient History. I haven't put either of those to much use as yet. Translating Latin bits and bobs for friends is as far as that's gone! But the striking difference between school and university was that I realised I had to work to get results. I did work and I did get results. I could have worked harder, but I couldn't have worked much harder while dating a girl with depression - and intermittently battling my own! One needs to unwind.

After that relationship, mind, I slid into thinking "Well, I put in all that effort, and that's what I get out of it?" That's not a healthy attitude when you've had one proper relationship. You might end up thinking such is always the case: generalising from the unique. I imagine that's rather sooner got over if you can talk to people. I couldn't do that for years. Every attempt was an exercise in terror and frustration. D'oh! Well, I've mislaid my health, I have no job, and whenever I have submitted recently to friends that we should say hello to those pretty girls at the end of the bar, they have nervously declined. In those circumstances, what can one do but ignore one's comrades temporarily? Roll on tomorrow night, when I shall try to remember not to woo women with defunct '90s sci-fi shows. Maybe current comedy shows will work better? I'll report back! Until then, enjoy some images of the General Store with its new roof.

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