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We host some German friends, I get back onto radio, a careless driver in a BMW puts paid to our Rover, Laetitia and I are on stage together for the first time, and my face just about falls off. Literally.



THE GERMANS. Regina and Reinhardt Hertzog have been friends of Laetitia's (thus friends of mine, too) since she lived in Southern Germany's Black Forest region in the early 80s. We've often been their guests when visiting their home city of Karlsruhe, and it was finally possible for us to return their hospitality by hosting them for a few days' visit to Bristol in September. We took them to the Welsh castles of Coch whose fairy-tale perfection was perfectly offset an hour or two later by the magnificent authenticity of the huge complex of Raglan. We also made sure that we squeezed in a few good meals (e.g. at Brown's and Spyglass) as well as enjoying a Bristol harbour tour too. All good.

TIME OF THE SIGNS. Wales is a great place to visit. You immediately feel that you're in a different country because, for one thing, the signs are in Welsh too. Some translate quite well, and others don't . Most people would think of Wales as being a place famous for its long and unfathomable placenames. But there are shorter placenames which provide just as much of a dilemma because they can't even be pronounced with confidence. Like this one...




Lunch Bunch.

I've been with the same recruitment services company since late 2003, and our office in Redland is five minutes' stroll from at least three decent pubs, the nearest of which is the Kensington Arms (a.k.a 'The Kenny') a block away. Almost every week we're guaranteed to grab a lunch of giant Yorkshire pudding with beef stew and a pint or two of Ale, and we'll generally do this outside when it's sunny. The colleagues with me in the pic are part-time dance-club promoter Ed (reading), and Limerick-born Irish chirper Rory, who I used to work with for another company long ago in Bath.


Back On Radio.

I've become involved in three local radio projects over the last year. In addition to being on the Committee of BHBS, the UK's longest-running Hospital Broadcast service, I'm a Director of the Bristol Community FM initiative which aims to set up a local community radio station here within the next year or so. In Summer I assisted with RADIO 19 and was also on the steering panel of temporary service Commonwealth FM which put me back on air for a few weeks doing breakfast shows in November. It was really good to get back behind the mic again, but the horribly early hours and the need to shave very fast in the morning didn't bode well for my skin.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGHG!!!! I developed a really bad skin rash on my face and neck, and spent months and hundreds of pounds trying to sort this out. It meant not going out in public as well as not sleeping much as night due to the itching and scratching. Nasty. It's really a grim situation but I suppose it's character-building. Like abject poverty, or strapping your honey-coated testicles to an ant-hill. Ah well, maybe next year I'll be better. (Hold thumbs).


The Thing's The Play!

Laetitia's got the drama bug in a big way, and I mean this in the thespian sense. You know what I mean! She's been a member of an AmDramSoc in the nearby village of Westbury-On-Trym for the last year or so, and this end-of-year saw another production by Charade (the group).

DETAILS. They performed three one-acts plays, including 'A God In Aspect', a newly-written piece which was getting its very first UK performance here on the same night as its US debut! Laetitia played a forgotten God returning to this world to claim the allegiance of mankind but whose plans are thwarted by the vindictive inertia of a Civil Service clerk. This is her with Sian who played the clerk. I suppose that they are both babes under it all... L IS THE ONE IN THE MAKE-UP...

PROFESSOR AMBER, APPARENTLY PAUSE ON AMBER. I was roped in at the last minute to be the narrator of the show, and had to play this crusty old Professorial type called Thaddeus Amber. With the slow improvement in my skin (I'd spent months battling an infected shaving rash on my face and head), there wasn't much need for too much extra make-up to make me look haggard and weathered...

In fact, it looked so natural as I tottered around the stage that one old woman almost hit me over the head afterwards when she realised that I was only putting it all on. "My God, you're actually NOT old!" she yelled outside the dressing room. Was she about to ask for a date or something?


Crash for Cash.

Our car-buying saga in the UK now stretches to three bought in a year and a half. We bought the first one, an old Pug 205, because it was cheap and available for sale within walking distance of where we lived. We then used it to drive to where most of the used-car dealers are concentrated in Bristol which is where we bought the Rover which I then used for work. Later, we gave the Pug away and kept the Rover for a while before deciding to splash out on a nice new(ish) 2-door Astra, thus elevating us back into the ranks of a 2-car family...and I used the Astra because it's got the best sound system ha ha ha!

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER CAR. In November, Laetitia's usual drive to work was cut short when a BMW jumped a Stop street and made a complete mess of the Rover. Fortunately, she was absolutely fine but the Rover was history. Once again, we are a 1-car family. That Rover'd earned us a lot more than we paid for it because it's been in two prangs, neither of which was our fault so the other drivers' insurance companies paid out on both occasions.  No complaints there...


Missed out on news for earlier this year? Catch up with a quick scan on our 2004 page here.


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