Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Filty weather, fishy hors d'ouevres.

“I’ll pick you up at 6pm. On the dot?”, said Hubby earlier in the morning. A few hours later after I’d finished my shift, Hubby was true to his word and was waiting for me, engine running.
“Did you remember my clothes?” I asked him, suddenly anxious that I’d have to attend this swanky bash in my polyester uniform.
“Damn, I forgot to leave my make-up out for you to bring”.
“No worries, I remembered that as well”. And he’d fed our five children, I was impressed.
“What did you cook them?”
The windscreen wipers were going like the clappers. It was a filthy night. Hubby indicated right.
“Eggs and ham”, he said absently, concentrating on negotiating the roundabout by the bombed out church. Hubby hasn’t driven through Plymouth in months, let alone in the dark and, let further alone, in the dark and rain.
“Just eggs and ham?, I asked
“Mmmm”, he answered.
“Sounds like a supper Dr Seuss would cook up”. I thought that was a quite a witty retort and I harrumphed.
“Where the hell is this road going to?” he asked out loud.
“It’s a new one”, I sighed, “Recently built”.
“Bloody hell, they could have told me. Honest to God, Plymouth is going to the dogs”. I wanted to point out that a new road, whilst causing chaos initially, was surely for the better in terms of congestion and his discombobulation was scarcely a reason to class Plymouth as a city going to the dogs, but it hardly seemed the appropriate juncture. Hubby was frowning intently and a little tic had developed in his cheek.
“Take the next right”, I instructed, “Then around the roundabout. First exit”.
Hubby eventually reached the Barbican without any further ado.
“Why are we here?” I asked.
“A friend lent me the key to their apartment so that you can get changed, or did you want to strip off in a public lavatory somewhere?” What friend? Hubby parked on the wet cobbles and I gathered my stuff from the boot, the rain dripping down my neck.
“Where do I go?”, I shouted through the driver’s window. Hubby wound the window down, ever so slightly. He evidently didn’t want to get his midnight blue, velvet jacket, even ever so slightly damp.
“See that gate?”, he asked. I peered through the rain, then nodded.
“Use this code…” and he handed me a Post-It note, “Then take the lift to the third floor, apartment number 36.” I was astonished. There is nothing that Hubby likes more, than nosing around other people’s houses, especially a posh one. Had he been here before? Oh my God. Is this where he comes for some clandestine tryst?
“Don’t be bIoody daft Alice” replied Hubby wearily, “Look you are getting wet, but FYI, I would love to come with you, however, there is no-where to bloody park and we have to be at the venue in five minutes, now get a wiggle on”. I smiled, turned on my heels and attempted a wiggle a la Marilyn Monroe, unfortunately I tripped over one of the cobbles, which put paid to any efforts of me trying to imitate an iconic Hollywood starlet. Not of course, that I’ve seen that many 46 year old starlets in a big and baggy shop assistants uniform, clinging to one nonetheless due to the nature of the fabric and thus its static-causing tendencies.
I let myself into the flat but didn’t even have time to have a look around as I could hear Hubby hooting his horn at me. I threw my ‘going out’ clothes on, scrabbled my other clothes together, let myself out again and jumped in the car.
We pulled into the Royal William Yard a few minutes later after I’d giving Hubby explicit instructions on how to get there. He was astounded.
“Good God”, he said, looking around at the old buildings, “I can remember getting stores from here when it was still a victualing yard. See that building over there..” But this wasn’t the time and the place for salty, sea dog reminiscences of days of yore; I needed a drink and a very posh nibble or two.
We weren’t disappointed, The River Cottage Canteen did us proud; the Cambodian Wedding Dip I could have eaten all to myself with a spoon and was most miffed with having to share it with everybody else and my, oh my, who that everybody else was! All the movers and shakers of Plymouth, gathered under one roof and hosted extremely well by Destination Plymouth, Plymouth University and the National Marine Aquarium.
“Remind me why we are here?” I asked Hubby chewing on a slice of crab and chilli pizza, “I feel we’re gate crashing”.
“My boss couldn’t make it”, he replied. I thought as much. We were last minute stand ins. Oh well, I may as well make the most of it and helped myself to another flute of elderflower champagne.
Then came the speeches. No such thing as a free hors d’oeuvres. I braced myself. I needn’t have. The news is that Plymouth 2012 is going to be genuinely exciting; marine city festival along the waterfront, art, culture, boat shows, Olympic flame, food, the list goes on. Even the university is to be awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in recognition of its world class marine and maritime research, teaching and training. It’s come a long way from being Plymouth Poly.
“Well, I stand corrected” said Hubby, to some chap in a tie that meant something significant “This is most definitely not a city going to the dogs. Plymouth is at last, on the up. I’m left eating my words”. He may well have been eating his words, personally I was eating a mackerel bap. Locally sourced and, 'respecting their seasonality’, of course.

No comments: