Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Silence isn't always golden......

My wife Mel has gone away to the lakes for a few days with her Sister Penny and her little dog Saffy. Consequently our apartment is eerily silent which I find quite unnerving. It's not that she is particularly noisy, actually scrub that, she is particularly noisy and so are her family. I was brought up in a house where very little was said of any consequence unless it was strictly necessary or life was in danger. Not in a bad way you understand, it's just that my Dad was always worn out from work, my mum usually engrossed in a crossword or a book and thats just the way it was.

Mel's family are the opposite, each family member competes for airspace waiting for a brief pause in the conversation before diving in and quickly ratcheting up the volume to a spinal tap 11 . I try to compete and indeed I am no shrinking violet but I usually lose and end up doing a lot more listening than talking unless I've had a lot to drink in which case I do all the talking and non of the listening.

I've got used to it over the last few years and sitting here in complete silence doesn't feel quite right. I have to keep putting music on as I keep thinking I've gone deaf.

Mel and her sister have been walking around Derwent Water which is the scene of one of my most famous schoolboy errors (No 6 in a series of 432,755). We went walking there a couple of years ago in early spring and stayed for a few nights at the Horse and Farrier which is one of our favourite retreats. On arriving, I realised I had brought only one pair of underpants and for some unfathomable reason decided to go hiking without any on and save my one pair for dinner later that night. It was a decision I was to regret.

It might not have been such a bad decision were it not absolutely lashing it down. In addition, we went to buy proper hiking footwear at a local market. We only had limited money with us, some of which Mel spent on a fantastic pair of hiking boots and with the rest I bought.......a Manchester City beach towel which had caught my eye. Believing that hiking boots were unnecessary if not downright girly, I set off on our ten mile walk wearing a pair of trainers that were inadequate in every conceivable way. They would have been fine for a walk down a very dry and very short path but were wholly inadequate for a 10 mile hike through rain drenched fells and fields that were so swampy they had a Lord of the Rings feel about them. The fact that we didn't meet Gollum on that walk is still a surprise to me to this day.

After five miles I was in utter agony. The lack of underwear was causing me severe gusset issues forcing me to walk like John Wayne and my feet were wetter than a kippers knickers. Thankfully there was a ferry on the lake which took you back across the lake to just a few hundred yards from our starting point. However, Mel had other ideas. Resplendent in her state of the art walking gear she insisted we press on. Despite begging and I think even crying at one point, she insisted it was good for me.

Four hours later we finally completed the ten miles by which point I was pretty much a broken man, a husk of my former self.

By that point I was soaked to the skin, with blistered feet and a medieval gusset. I was wailing like a Banshee and walking like a robot from an early science fiction film. We consoled ourselves by eating a fish and chip lunch in some devastatingly expensive restaurant in Keswick whereby I was forced to sit on my previously acquired Manchester City beach towel by the owner so that I didnt leak all over her furniture.

It remains one of my most painful yet fondest memories. It's the kind of story that has grown in my memory. I am prone to wild exaggeration and story telling but Mel called me tonight to say that she and Penny have repeated the walk today, in considerably better conditions and after five miles they did catch the ferry back from halfway round the walk. In a moment of weakness, she conceded that it must have been tortuous for me after all and perhaps she had been a little demanding. Such admissions are staggeringly rare.

Below is a picture that she took of me on that fateful day.

No comments:

Post a Comment