We went to deepest, darkest Kent today, to a charming little village called Headcorn, which, for the geographically challenged, is the next village along from Leeds. Not Leeds in Yorkshire, you understand. Leeds in Kent. It's where the famous Leeds Castle is. I'm not actually sure Leeds in Yorkshire even has a castle. Anyway, it's rather bizarre to enter a tiny village on a little lane and find a sign which says "welcome to Leeds. Please drive carefully."
Headcorn seems to be nothing but a long row of beautifully maintained Victorian and medieval houses, many of which are gift shops and fancy eating establishments. I don't think you move to Headcorn if you're poor!
We had lunch in a very lovely tea room which offered my parents sandwiches and me a delicious omelette. We sat outside in the garden, bantering with the waitresses, who provided us with a running gag revolving around their pronunciation of the word "three" and its similarity to the word "free." How we laughed!
We went into an antique shop where I found a velvet jacket which fitted me so perfectly I had to buy it. As we left the shop, Vic Reeves walked in with his family. It was plainly the place where all the cool kids in Headcorn were hanging out!
We were in the village to attend my cousin's fiftieth birthday, who was calling his do a "reasons to be cheerful" party. It was a fabulous party. I have seldom seen so many tents and marquees in a single garden. They even had portaloos!
It turns out that a "reasons to be cheerful" party tempts the universe into liberally sprinkling a few bags of glittery irony. My aunt was too ill to attend and various other relatives are at various stages of dealing with diseases. More horrifyingly, as we drove to Kent, Nathan's sister called to say that their uncle had died. He was found this morning by his daughter. I met him about a year ago when Nathan's Dad took us on a tour of his home town of Exeter. He seemed an incredibly friendly and jovial chap who had a particularly wonderful friendship with his granddaughter. I'm sure he will be bitterly missed by everyone.
Cousin Neil, whose party it was, ran a little open mic spot, in honour of our Grandmother who so liked it when her children and grandchildren got up and did a little turn. I was always expected to play The Swan on my 'cello, but today it was lovely to just observe whilst drinking a cup of tea. Neil sang a Billy Bragg song about the A13, pointing out in his opening pre-amble that his cousin, Ben, had written a musical about the A1. The name check touched me. I only have four cousins in the world so it's good to know they take an interest in my work. Neil's three children then took it in turns to sing songs by Adele, Paul Simon, Queen and Bowie. I was rather impressed. It's good to see music permeating down through the generations of our family.
We left at gone 11, and made fairly swift progress home.
And that's that, really. It's nearly 2am, and I can hear a very noisy owl in the trees above the tube station. That surely means it's time to go to bed.