Sunday October 10th

img_20161007_185528Evening all,

Kevin has been away from Stanley for four weeks tomorrow. He walked me to work as he has done so many times on that Monday morning and we both knew we wouldn’t see each other for some time (Mind you, all the way through the planning period I didn’t ever think he would actually get there, so even after our potentially ‘final’ farewell it didn’t feel very final). One month later and it does …

Mostly, I am enjoying my time alone. I have lots to do and am occupied. Odd moments though and I miss him overwhelmingly. What I hadn’t anticipated was the whole time difference thing. He is getting up as I am going to bed (they are 7 hours ahead in China) and when I finish work for the day he is retiring for the night. The small windows of opportunity we have to talk in real time are blighted by internet issues at his end and then pressure on that time to get everything said. It can all be very frustrating.

So, it’s a case of communicating in a whole new way. No FB chat, no messenger, no ‘live’ conversation. We are using the rather archaic method of plain old email but it’s obviously not conversational and that’s what I miss. I am sure Kevin is thrilled as he can talk at length about himself without interruption. When he returns we may elect to carry on in a similar fashion. Him soliloquising over his day and life from another room and me replying ten minutes later ‘Wow, that sounds amazing!’.

It does help to read his blogs and know that he is coping well out there and actually enjoying it! I am very proud of him and admire him greatly but I still wish I could just talk to him from time to time. One month out of ten gone and I am sure we will develop ways and means to stay close and enjoy each others company. Luckily he can communicate very well in writing. He has no camera again now but his descriptions paint a vivid picture.

Anyway enough – this is the Stanley blog not the China one!

Friday’s cafe experience wasn’t much to write home about (unlike ‘Captain, my Captain’s’ teaching in China). I hadn’t slept on the Thursday night very much at all (another result of the communication/time difference thing) so was quite literally zombified on Friday. I did feel like I was in some kind of parallel existence and I quite liked the sensation. I knew my tiredness was extreme and felt like I should have my own advisory label not to ‘operate machinery’ as I felt slightly removed in body and soul. Luckily the only machine I needed to operate was a pencil sharpener.

Instead of leaving work at the earliest opportunity I held on. I knew the bus I regularly get to my choir has lovely people who share with me all their news from the Font to Daisy Hill which is usually welcomed at that juncture as the weekend starts. But I knew I needed to sleep. I was headed to the theatre straight after choir and wouldn’t have made it through the night if I couldn’t close my eyes for ten minutes. I am a pro at snoozing on buses. I even managed half an hour on the town bus on a match night the other week and it was chocka block of supporters buzzing about their team. This one was a gamble, I had to wait an extra hour for the bus in order to gain ten minutes sleep. It paid off. I was relieved to see no-one I knew and I am sure my general demeanour and sunglassed eyes gave clear signals I didn’t want to chew the fat with fellow travellers. Besides which, once you get out of Bloemfontein everyone has a mackem tinged accent (same as when you get past Noplace). I would love to locate the exact spot where a North West Durham/DH9 accent becomes pure Sunderland. It should be made clear by the markings on the road.

Since I was in this bubble like state I even threw the cafe rulebook away and went off piste for my coffee. As I was later in I had less time pre choir but needed a caffeine infusion in order to function during the complex scale vocal patterns our MD has us do. She can hear a pin drop in the Cathedral all the way from North Road so she will definitely know if you are a semitone awry. If you breathe in a phrase you almost wish it was your last as you incur her wrath which is just a LOOK. It’s all that’s required.

So I entered a cafe on the corner and spotted a fellow chorister who invited me over. Interesting woman she is too. She trained as a classical singer in her youth and sees this choir as her ‘turn up and sing’ one as she does more challenging singing also. It is my most challenging and I need to listen to the recordings she sends us and practice! The cafe looked like it was in mid ‘renovation’ although it is still very new. Perhaps it is going through a change of hands. It felt odd though. The menu board behind the counter appeared to have had most of it’s lettering removed. This meant there were just odd words like – ‘regular’ and  ‘latte’ disjointed and with no prices. The smiling man who served me also was wearing a neck brace like he had been in an accident. Now he really did look like he shouldn’t have been operating machinery but there he was, larger than life, operating a superwhizzy coffee machine. I had the driest scone I have ever tasted. It was my tea and I had paid for it so I ploughed on regardless and lied that everything was okay when Keep Your Head Still Geordie Hinny man asked if everything was okay.

Choir was as much fun as ever. We are learning ‘Til there was you’ which was covered by the Beatles. It is a lovely arrangement sung in four parts and our part is quite tricky. Once I get it, I get it ‘By George’ but I haven’t got it yet.

Afterwards I headed over to the Gala to see ‘Tony’s Last Tape’ – a play about Tony Benn. I thought about Kevin lots as we have seen a few things there, most notably Don Quixote which was wonderful (Is that right Kevin…?! Was that there?) This was a one man show and very good. However, I did keep zoning out momentarily but I could mostly hear all of the dialogue. It focused very much on his love for his wife and that was wonderful. I was roused from one bout of slumber to having the actor tell me (it definitely felt like it, as I was in the third row centre) that he (Tony Benn) loved Durham Big Meeting day and watching all the banners. I should find the exact transcript as it was very poignant and tears rolled down my cheeks.

This takes me up to Saturday – I never get my whole weekend written up as I witter on too much. Now you can see why Kevin prefers to email…!

Thank you for reading x