It’s New Year’s Eve and we’re in a car on the A1 heading up to Cambridgeshire. We’re going to bring in 2011 with our friends Lisa and Mark, who live in a little village rather close to where I was brought up. It was Lisa who suggested I write this blog when we went to visit her exactly a year ago today. Her daughter (Nathan’s goddaughter) was rather miserably born on December 31st, so we often pop in at some point during the day to celebrate.
Two years ago, on our way up, I ate a pasty from Summerfield in Biggleswade which was labelled "vegetarian cheese and onion." Unfotunately, it was actually some horrendous meat-filled catastrophe. I realised after about two mouthfuls and looked down to see pink blobs hanging out in the cheesey nastiness. I vomited, rather dramatically, by the side of the road. When I 'phoned Summerfield to complain, they offered me £20 worth of vouchers, which made me want to vomit all over again. In the end I threatened to take them to court, and settled for £200 in real money. It was more the principal of the thing. I wanted to give Summerfield an incentive to encourage their staff to package goods more carefully. I hate to sound like a whinging hippy veggie, but when you’ve made a decision at the age of 7 not to eat meat, you kind of want that decision to remain in your hands. What if the pasty had had nuts in it by mistake and I was one of those freaks who die when they so much smell a cashew?
I spent the afternoon writing in the Tabard Pub whilst Nathan did his matinee. I’ve finally managed to bash the Metro musical down to 7 minutes. Ideally I’d like to clip another minute off its length, but am not going to bust a gut trying to make that happen. Writing in the pub was a fairly unpleasant experience today. Not only was the music really loud, but it was really bad; a sort of riot of New Jack Swing rubbing shoulders with sub-Witney Houston tripe from the 1980s. There were songs I hadn’t heard for decades; none of which I can remember, all of which were deeply distracting.
The party tonight has a "P" theme. I’ve no idea why. Perhaps it’s because their daughter is called Poppy, or because Lisa (like all the world right now) is pregnant. I am going as a purple pimp, simply because I only had 5 minutes to think of something whilst peering into my wardrobe this morning. Fiona has just texted to say I should have gone as Pepys – and I’m kicking myself - But where would I have sourced Pepysian garb, for no money and with no time? Maybe I'll just tell everyone I'm Pepys.
Monday 31st December 1660 and Pepys went to see Henry the Fourth. He stopped en route to the theatre at St Paul’s churchyard to buy a copy of the play to read and professed to be disappointed with the production, claiming that his expectations were too high and that having the book in front of him “did spoil it a little”. God, I hate Shakespeare.
Pepys then called in on Lord Sandwich, who was playing cards. A woman called Sarah, whom I can only assume was some kind of housekeeper, gave Pepys’ lad, Wayneman, a cat to take home to Elizabeth. It seems the Pepys residence had been plagued by mice.
Pepys’ final paragraph is worth quoting in full; “At Whitehall inquiring for a coach, there was a Frenchman with one eye that was going my way, so he and I hired a coach between us and he set me down in Fenchurch Street. Strange how the fellow, without asking, did tell me all what he was, and how he had ran away from his father and come into England to serve the King, and now going back again. Home and to bed.” So no partying to bring in the New Year, then?