Sunday, 24th October, 2021

[Day 587]

Today was the day which we had planned a few days ago to see our some of our good old Winchester University friends so we knew that we needed to make a fairly early start. Instead of going down on foot to collect our newspapers, we decided to collect them ‘en route’ as we set off on our journey. We allowed ourselves plenty of time and only had a brief stop in a layby where we could drink our coffee. This we did as the traffic thundered by within feet but at least this section of the M34 (between Oxford and Newbury) is quite well supplied with laybys which are OK for a snack or an occasional drink of coffee – not so good for answering the calls of nature. We made good time and got to the vicinity of our friend’s house about 20 minutes or so before the allotted time so thou ght we had better give them a ring so that we did not arrive before our time. When we got there we handed over some of our gifts that we used to appease the household gods (one of the things that I learned from my early years in Latin, which also incorporated parts of Roman history is that the Roman hearth/home was protected by the household gods Lares and Penates). So whenever, we visit friends we try to ensure that the housegold gods are well and truly appeased. Today, some of the oblations were our own produce (damson gin, cooking apples, eating apples) and a few opera CDs. After that, we had the most magnificent meal with our friends and the time actually flew by. The thing that sometimes emerges from these occasions (sharing a meal together) is that as your friendship lengthens and deepens, you find out parallels in your own lives. Foer example, my friend and I had worked in the same area of Manchester separated by only about a mile in distance (but about 4-5 years in time) We had a pretty simple journey home, punctuated only by a brief visit to a service station about two thirds of the way home for a loo visit which we thought might be prudent for the both of us. Our visit to that part of Hampshire proved interesting for us, not least we left fourteen years ago but, almost inevitably, new blocks of housing seem to be springing up all over the place.

Tomorrow being Monday morning, I must get to making a lst of all the things that need to be done during the week. Having said all that, I not really a ‘making-a-list’ type of person. In a job that i held in the Reference Division of the Central Office of Information (a Government department in London, now dissolved) I had a fair amount of discretion in my own workflow. I started making lists and generally had about 7 items on the list of which I managed about 2½. The reason for my apparent tardiness was that the telehone would ring with a query to which an answer had to be given as quickly as possible (many of the staff of COI were journalists, TV producers, exhibition specialists and the like and they needed the answer to questions as quickly as possible – in those pre-Google days. Absolute priority had to be given to these telephone queries and hence progress on my own list was slow. So I would add my 4½ items on the list left over from yesterday onto today's list which was now a dozen items. And so on and so on. By the end of the week, I had an incredibly long list with items of a different priority and through the dint of bitter experience, I learnt that not making a list was quite a sensible policy. Of course, you always keep a list in your head where you can reorder priorities more easily.

My Seasoned World Traveller friend in the park asked me the other day why I was so disputatatious – or least inclined to argue the toss about almost anything. I think it all starts from the first few seconds I experienced in my very first University tutorial where a general question was put to the group. Racing through my head for a few seconds was the fact that I had left school 4 years ago and worked for most of that time, suffered a life-threatening illness and done all of my ‘A-levels on my own with no tutorial assistance at all(I didn’t write a single essay) I thought to myself ‘I have struggled this hard to get to University so I am not going to just sit there but I want to learn (preferably through argument – a lesson I gleaned for the preparations I made in my A-level Logic course). So I opened my mouth, gave my opinion and a fellow student took issue with me – and we argued our way through the subject for the whole of the year (everyone else kept quiet!)