We’ve been ice-skating quite a lot, and mostly since just before Christmas. The whole family has got into it and every now and again we go to the ice-skating rink in town and disport ourselves. The girls are starting to skate very well. Jessie and Ella are even confident in doing so. I am neither but I manage to stay up. Gwen has learnt a lot and is herself getting more and more confident. She frequently falls over, but there’s not a long way to fall for her and she never seems to mind. Bundled and bunched up against the cold as she is, she probably could not hurt herself badly.
I’m still cycling into work, despite the fact that there is a frost practically every morning and there’s also been snow falling (the powdery not the slushy stuff) in the past few days. We’ve had a couple of heavy falls this week. But no more bike-falls to report. A few near misses of course – there is one of these practically every time I use the bike.
Coming into work just after New Year’s Day I heard something fall behind me as I cycled over some bumps in the road. I cautiously established with the backs of my thighs that it was not the lap top or the briefcase that I had on the back basket, but once I realised that it was not I dismissed the sound of something falling as probably not to do with me. On the ride back I realised what the sound had been: my back light, which had become detached, fallen and shattered. Playing the detective I found some broken shards of red light swept into the side of the road as well as a couple of batteries where I had heard the noise that morning. Feeling very Swiss I picked up the batteries and pocketed them. Pity to waste ’em …
I had a near miss with a white van that swerved across the bike lane without warning and parked across it. I shook my fist at the van driver who clearly thought that I was angry with him for parking in the bike lane, which he obviously had to do. No, I mouthed at him through his side window, I was angry with him, I gesticulated, because he had nearly killed me when he swerved over suddenly to the kerb. I mused on how I would have explained this if he had rolled down the window and given me a responsive earful. In Swiss-German.
We now have a “Home Cinema center”, which Dave the Dish installed a couple of weeks ago. It is a CD and DVD player (same old TV screen) and there are five speakers set up around the room. I have achieved a ten year ambition to have this in my living room whatever Alli might think. It works a treat and I can play my music in the living room now (sob sob oh god i’m so happy). I have to report that the first DVD I watched with the system was Neil Young live in Dublin doing Greendale. A most underrated body of work. The sound was excellent and all over the place (just like being in the front row) and at last we have caught up with the prevailing Joneses.
We found a drum kit for Jessie a a reasonable price. The drums were in very good condition although second hand and Jessie seems delighted with it. She and her band, called Spent, are now practising hard every now and again in our Utility room. I do not understand quite how we have managed to change within weeks into a teenage Hollywood film family. I guess it must be all the teenage Hollywood films we are watching. Jessie and Ella often play together as well, with Ella on her guitar. Smoke on the water and American Idiot are the current favourites.
Jessie and her friends went to the Green Day concert. I did as well but I had been told not to materialise so I stayed close to the strangely sparse beer tent with another Dad who had a broadly similar mandate to mine. Us two dads sat together during the concert. The first act, a grunge band called Proud Old Glory or something like that, displayed little variety beyond low E and G. GreenDay came on and started well with “American Idiot”, which Jessie and Ella had played so much together. They were good and there was an especially good moment when they invited musicians from the audience to come and play in their stead. This was memorable: three ordinary kids, playing drums, bass and lead on one of their songs with the three Green Day members just watching them from the side. For the record they did an excellent cover of “Shout”. Mind you, it is difficult to screw this one up after you’ve got through the tricky intro.