The Gerald Bostock Diaries

Latest news from the lyric writer of the original “Thick as a Brick.”

A New Beginning – Part 12

Well – Christmas and New Year came and went. Just about quickly enough.

While the Anderson tribe went about their saintly business of redecorating the cathedrals and churches of the realm, The Old Bag and I took a little trip to a Cotswold countryside Spa Hotel, “The Snootery”, to enjoy a long weekend of self-indulgence in the wet and soggy surroundings of the park. We had newly-built off-lying cottage accommodation booked but, due to lack of other guests and the inclement weather, were upgraded to the bridal suite in the main building. Just as well as the December Atlantic depressions were so atrocious we hardly left the hotel. TOB had some Spa beauty treatments in the vain hope, I imagine, that I might wish to take fuller advantage of the marital bed. Skin peels and hot, waxy oil dripping out of every pore, however, are not likely to get this old engine started.

Home again to the Rectory where, being on low ground, we were subjected to three feet of water in the cellar and a small lake where the driveway used to be. Wettest December since records began, they said at the Met Office. Smugly and with n apology whatsoever. Half of the countryside was under water around St Cleve and the roads impassable for days on end. Tried in vain twice to get to the Clutterburuy Waitrose to do the Christmas food-shopping but ended up with a frantic last-minute dash for the last turkey in town two days before the big day. A bottle of 12 year old Talisker single malt and some own-brand cooking brandy for TOB rounded off the £200 or so it cost to stock up for the the next week, given that we had to at least appear sociable with the neighbours.

Archie Parritt invited us over for his customary drinks and supper-do at Cruddock Hall and even had the pool heated and available for the last guests to take a wild late-night dip, so we heard. Not being exactly mad about Bunga-Bunga-style revelry, TOB insisted we leave early and try three-in-a-bed with old Silvio back at our place instead. Just kidding. Actually, he could have helped me out that night as it happened….

Heads down and wait for it all to go away. That’s my idea of Christmas and the New Year. TV was rubbish. How many times do we have to watch “Love Actually” to find out if Keira Knightly ever gets it off with the best man (who bears a striking similarity to Sheriff Rick Grimes in “The Walking Dead”).

And so to January with real snow and real Winter promise! I spent a happy afternoon in the Old Library bookshop with Matt Bunter and his collection of marvellous tomes of all sorts. Historical romances. Politically incorrect Victorian extravaganzas and….. a very interesting, if flawed, unpublished manuscript by Ernest T. Parritt, local amateur historian and grandfather of the present Lord Archie and, who, it turns out, had a curious penchant for historical observation and a bit of fortune-telling to boot.

Apparently he wrote this in 1928 in the drawing room at Cruddock Hall during a hideous early Winter. Unable to venture out to shoot pheasant or seduce the local lassies at the Turnpike Inn, he whiled away six long weeks penning a yarn of ancient history of the British Isles laced with juicy predictions of things to come.

Matt and I were both enthralled and amused by his well-intended scholarly meanderings and so I took it home to draw some inspiration for ideas for lyrics for the band I am putting together in my age of febrile
middle age crisis. In a mere few weeks, The Commoners will have a debut gig to a few old buddies from the back benches in a tavern in darkest Westminster and I hope I can achieve a level of competence by then in the art of axe-bashing, or whatever you call it.

Young Florian Opahle has promised to come over from Munchen to offer a bit of guitar tuition and performance guidance if I bestow upon Easyjet the princely sum of £45 each way plus a ride from Gatwick.

TOB will have her work cut out to feed him as he is an enthusiastic eater. A sausage man and pie enthusiast, he will find little to sustain him at Waitrose now that haggis season has closed after Burns night. Happily, the Dirty Duck has a Bavarian Night scheduled in early March so perhaps he will find sweet solace in the palest of white sausage, suckling pig-knuckle or blood-soaked varieties of Kronfleischküche in his communication with the recently departed. Enough to conjure a stiffy from a necromancer. Fist of pork with mustard and lashings of lardy excess will one day send young Opahle heavenward on a fluffy cloud of self-loathing. “Serves the bugger flippin’ right,” as half-veggie Anderson might say.

Lord Anfield (Woodsy) called the other day and asked me if we might take gentlemen’s lunch at a favourite Bangladeshi haunt in Brick Lane. Methinks he has darker motives. Could it be he sees a place for an old dog in shadow cabinet meetings? Shadow Minister with seriously-mislaid portfolio?

Mr Ed may, or may not, know about this blatant attempt to seduce the old dog from its cozy kennel but I rather fancy the Sag Prawn with the Tarka Dal and a couple of fat Naan breads. In for a penny, in for the full quid. Bugger me stiff with a red-hot poker, but I think I might take up his hospitality. I would offer to pay, of course, but exalted High-Labour toffs have to show off a bit. Pick up the tab and slap backs. Show they are not above wining and dining the lowly and the lost.

Over and Out. GB signing off.

PS: Pass the Immodium, there’s a good chap.