After a day spent researching the usual plethora of totally unconnected things (cotton manufacturers, racing circuits, beheaded kings, etc) I set off for Embankment to meet my Aunty Jan & my cousin, Idonarose.
While I haven’t seen Aunty Jan for decades, I feel I have, really, given her strangle-like embrace of Web 2.0 technologies and seemingly endless Facebook and Youtube posts. Actually, I’ve followed her trip this time, around the UK and Lanzarotte, via her Youtube posts.
So I arrived at Embankment station and headed for Starbucks. I told them to meet me at Starbucks because I know it well. They were supposed to be coming from Harrods so I was expecting many bags with their distinctive labelling. They were waiting for me inside with coffee and food. They hadn’t gone to Harrods because Idonarose had to interface with her iPad. I told her what I thought of Apple. Mirinda should be glad she wasn’t there.
And we had a great time. I’d never met my cousin before (though I’d know her anywhere, having seen around a thousand photographs of her) but it was like I knew her. I think it’s fair to say, we got on extremely well for two people who had never met.
From Starbucks I dragged them up to the Coal Hole for a few real drinks. I say dragged because poor Aunty Jan is still battle scarred from her gangplank assault. She can’t walk far so we only went four miles.
The Coal Hole is a weasel favourite because it’s a freehouse and always has interesting beers on tap. I asked what they wanted and was very surprised at the answers. Aunty Jan wanted a Harvey’s Bristol Cream. Most people who know me well would know this is a tough one. I can order any number of beers and I can just about manage mixers but, when you’re facing a Schumanian and you ask for something as exotic as Harvey’s Bristol Cream, you feel a right plonker.
The barman, who’s command of English was pretty much equal to my command of whatever language he was speaking, just said they didn’t have any…I think. Aunty Jan was given a rosè.
However, the greatest thing any cousin of mine could do is order a real ale and that’s just what Idonarose did. A pint of London Pride. She did ask how much a pint was and I explained it was, about, a pint and a half pint was, pretty close to half that but I assured her that I would drink anything she couldn’t manage. I think she took this as a personal challenge!
Three pints of real ale she put away! What a girl. That’s two Prides and an odd concoction that included coriander – it had a weird taste that did not resemble coriander at all but tasted of something green. I reckon she could hold her own against any of the people I generally drink with. She should be an archaeologist.
I know some people have different ways to get the measure of someone but, by the gods, if you drink real ale, you’re well up there in my mind. I could hear my wife calling me shallow as I wrote that. Some sort of future echo reaching out across the oceans.
One odd thing that happened was the strange effect Aunty Jan has on my camera. Not my brand new, whiz-bang jobbie. No, my normal, ordinary, point and shoot that I bought in Australia when my other one died of old age and general over use. Obviously there was a lot of photo taking. Apart from satisfying Aunty Jan’s need to document every step of every day, my mother would kill me if I didn’t get shots of us all together.
The trouble was, Aunty Jan just had to move the camera and it would take a photo. It didn’t happen with me or Idonarose (we had to push the button) so I’m figuring it was something to do with the spirit of some dead, dead drunk, drunk that was staggering around the top floor of the Coal Hole and was being mischievous. It was truly odd.
We managed to spend around four hours, drinking, laughing, talking about family, laughing some more and getting acquainted (that was me and Idonarose, I didn’t need to get reacquainted with Aunty Jan). She’s only seven years older than me and, given we spent a fair few years growing up in the same house, more like a sister. But having never met Idonarose, I needed the five minutes it took for us to click.
By the way, no-one told me I had to call her by her full name! There’s me, marching into Starbucks saying “Hi, Aunty Jan. Hi, Idey,” without realising this just wasn’t allowed. I guess I’m just grateful I didn’t have to call her by her full name every time I spoke to her. Can you imagine? “Hi, Aunty Jan. Hi, Idonarose Everett Reavell Joan Beatrice Mabel Delilah Luanne Patricia Stephanie Orr.” Frightening. And very difficult when drunk, I imagine.
Anyway, we had a lovely time and managed to disturb every other single person in the pub before we left and I popped them into a cab for the trip back to Parson’s Green. It was then the long haul back to Farnham for me.
I should mention that there’ll possibly be an awful Youtube video featuring me which will be online as soon as an Internet connection can be found. You have been warned.
And well done Claire, who came through the operation with flying colours. It’s been a great day.