Marks & Spensive

Sometimes, the opportunity arises to troll the real world. And these opportunities are too good to miss. Earlier this week, I found myself in Marks & Spencer, buying some food and wine for a “carpet picnic”-and-Angel date-night-in with Ruth.

The grand total at the checkout came to £26.38: I’d precalculated this and was ready: as the number came up on the checkout I handed over a “£5 off when you spend £25” voucher, and a £20 M&S gift card.

“That’ll be… £1.38,” said the assistant, as I packed my shopping into a bag. Behind me, a young couple had joined the queue, behind me, and had clearly overheard the price. The looked stunned.

Naturally, then, I made sure that they saw the wine, the cakes, the fruit, the bread products, and everything else as I carefully loaded it all into the bag. “£1.38, wasn’t it?” I asked, as if I were double-checking, reaching into my wallet.

Catching the gaze of the shoppers behind me, as if I’d only just noticed them, I spoke to them as the cashier counted out my change. “It’s a great special offer, this one,” I said, “All of this for £1.38. Bargain!”

And then picked up my bag and left, watching the gobsmacked couple as they tried to work out how I’d managed to get 95% off the value of my shopping. Delightful.

It’s the little things, really.

A Punting Story

This story actually relates to an event that happened in mid-2010, but I only recently got around to finishing writing about it.

Once upon a time there was a boy named Dan.

Dan lives in a big house with his friends Ruth and JTA.

(their other friend, Paul, lives in the house, too… but he isn’t in this story)

One day, Dan and Ruth and JTA went on an adventure. They packed up a picnic with all their favourite foods.

Big soft sandwiches, teeny-tiny sausages, cheese-with-holes-in, and a big box of chocolates. Then they got onto a bus.

Soon, they saw a big, wide river. “Let’s get off here,” said Ruth. JTA pressed the button to tell the bus driver to stop.

At the river, there was a man with all kinds of boats: boats with pedals, boats with paddles, and boats with poles.

“Can we borrow one of your boats?” Dan asked the man.
“Okay,” he said, and gave Dan a long pole.

Ruth and JTA got into the boat and sat down. Dan stood up on the very back of the boat. It was very wobbly!

Dan used the pole to reach all the way down the bottom of the river, and pushed the boat along. It was hard work!

They found a shady tree in a park, stopped the boat, and ate their picnic.

They drank some fizzy wine and felt all bubbly and dizzy. Soon it was time to get back on the boat and go back along the river.

One time, Dan almost fell into the water! But luckily he didn’t, and he, Ruth and JTA got back safely.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Busy Weekends Part II

Following up on my post about the weekend before the weekend before last – here’s what I got up to the weekend before last (i.e. the weekend after that). You can see why I’m confused:

Ruth’s Family Picnic

The weekend before last, JTA and I joined Ruth and her family at their “annual family picnic”. This family reunion really shows quite how numerous Ruth’s relatives are, and I’m pretty sure that even she had to stretch her memory to recall everybody’s names as she introduced me (and, sometimes, JTA) to them all.

This year, they’d held the picnic in a wonderful National Trust-managed country estate called Cliveden. If it weren’t for the roasting temperatures, it could have been better still, but the sheer heat made it exhausting just to be sitting down, never mind walking around and climbing trees. Nonetheless, we got the chance for a good explore of the grounds, found the Secret Garden (their mistake was putting signs to it), and clambered around on the remains on the Canning Oak, a tree that lived hundreds of years and was a favourite spot for former Prime Minister George Canning… but which had been felled in 2004 after its roots threatened the structure of the slope on which it stood.


Apart from the ludicrous temperatures – suffered mostly during the journey in the sauna that is the car – it was a fun little trip. There was only one moment of awkwardness at the revelation that both of the men Ruth had brought with her were her partners. It’s often a difficult thing to bring up with more-distant relations, especially when you’re not sure who knows what already, and you don’t want to hide anything from anyone but there are few social norms about how you’re supposed to say, “So, you know what the deal is with us three, right?”

One response, though, was particularly fantastic, and so I thought I’d publish it here: upon being introduced to JTA and I as “her fiancé, and her other partner,” a particular relation of Ruth’s replied “Lucky you!” That’s a nice, positive response that I can get behind.

I’m Still In Aber. Yay.

[this post has been partially damaged during a server failure on Sunday 11th July 2004, and it has been possible to recover only a part of it]

I’m still in Aberystwyth, which I thought was a good thing even before people who don’t have the same benefit complained [Alec complaining, Ruth complaining, Adam complaining] about it. Aberystwyth is great this time of year – it’s still a little too early for the tourists to arrive, but it’s warm and sunny and feels like springtime.

Sadly, I still have heaps of work to do – Simon, my boss, is breathing down my neck… not to mention the fact that I need to pretty-much finish my dissertation over the Easter break. And an assignment. And start my revision. And train for Malawi.

As Claire reported, we went for a picnic up Pen Dinas at the weekend, followed by an evening of board games in Rummers and back at The Flat. The game we played in Rummers, ‘NTropy’, is really particularly good – you have to build unstable structures with sticks such that other players are …