No Short Cut to Llandrindod Wells

Quite by accident I came across Gloomsbury one morning in the comedy slot at 1130am; although a little distracted by the minutia of the day I was nevertheless perfectly able to drive with due care and attention as I slipped uneventfully through Dinas Powys on my way into the City. As an ardent admirer of the two intellectual cornerstones of the Bloomsbury Set I was uncharacteristically amused by this skit of the relationship between Virginia and Vita (otherwise known as Vera Sackcloth-Vest and Venus Traduces). It is extraordinarily well observed with an absolutely stellar performance by Miriam Margolyes (amongst others Alison Steadman included). This is the first of six episodes and I urge you to catch it on iPlayer.

The life of a freelancer in a work light environment requires a great degree of discipline than I seem to be incapable of mustering at the moment; this shocking performance simply will not do! In the absence of structure a routine has to be (self) imposed; a matter I was waxing lyrically on to a young friend who has recently graduated. What I omitted to dwell on was that this challenge doesn’t diminish with age or indeed with experience; and the malaise has a tendency to creep up upon one stealth-like on the silent velveteen paws of a panther! And my how one can rationalise ones sloth like behaviour; it’s been SO busy I deserve a break/a day off/ a mini break/ an unfeasibly large G&T (easy on the T) – insert one’s own particular reward as appropriate.

Add in the special powers that come with being gifted with a chronic long-term incurable degenerative condition – (try to say that tongue twister without sniggering – one friend had it down off pat with the refrain ‘and don’t give me the …excuse’ ) – and well motivating oneself is even more of a challenge. At present I find myself a little tired and vulnerable to procrastination; given that just attending to the basics is taking a tediously interminable length of time I can’t for the life of me understand why transferring the cotton buds from the plastic box into a square glass vessel designed for a candle is a priority! Yes with the control of an automated flour shaker that’s what I spend 20 minutes doing this morning; am I the only person whose commitment to recycling means the contents must be liberated from the packaging as soon as humanely possible? Yes ok that was (probably) a rhetorical question!

On balance the drug withdrawal process isn’t going too badly; well it was until Friday when the 6-7 hours of driving to and from Llandrindod Wells caught up on me. There is no way around it, whichever way you look at it to get to the middle of Wales a tortuous journey is involved! But work is work and if a long drive ducking and diving deaf sheep in torrential rain is involved then that’s just the way it is. With the price of diesel and the preponderance of fixed price contracts I do sometimes wonder who is getting to better end of the deal; there’s only so many times one can legitimately say that the job will lead to unspecified benefits (contacts, profile, experience etc). Thankfully I don’t have to support a posse of pets, small people or a partner taking time out to write ‘the’ authoritative work on some obscure member of Welsh glitterati from the 17th century!

Long distance driving, even in the relative comfort of an automatic vehicle, plays merry hell with me nerves; exacerbating the short circuiting resulting from the erosion of the myelin sheath.  I refer you to the images of Cruella prone with gold tipped spines protruding randomly and that’s a broad approximation of the result of a roundtrip to the delightful spa town aforementioned. Of course on these fees it’s more a gilding that a golding (not even gold leafing). Over lunch, as we took a break from the workshop, I couldn’t resist raising the question of wind farms as the County Council had turned down two planning application for this form of energy generation the day before. Apparently there is a correlation between those against wind generated power and those in favour of fox-hunting! Curious observation and not one I had heard before.

Renewable energy is a controversial issue at the best of times especially it seems in rural areas; Mid Wales was badly hit by foot and mouth with tourism being seen as a way to regenerate the economy. It’s a long investment strategy with sustainability an ever moveable target and wind power having a significant impact on the visual landscape. I wonder if the type of visitors coming to rural Mid Wales would be as opposed to wind farms as the resident population. The green consumer enjoying a walking holiday would surely be sympathetic to renewal energy.

In a former life when working in the housing sector the annual cycle was punctuated by the conference in Llandrindod Wells; a place that was mutually inconvenient to almost all delegates. One memorable year I found myself in Rock Park the morning after a social shall we say networking event. I had been practically frogmarched there by a colleague who had recently joined that government body we were employed by from one of the private sector housebuilders. He was rather exercised and I was rather ‘tired’ from a late night. We stopped in Rock Park to see the source of the spa water apparently but his agitated demeanour indicated he had something of great import to convey to me. After five minutes or so he finally said ‘I know I said to be nice to X but I just meant have a drink with him. I didn’t mean anything else!’. I could hardly contain myself as I realised what he was referring to. I had been introduced to X, a rather attractive Nordic blonde gentleman who was one of the exhibitors (an apt label in this context although all it mean what he had a trade stand (and an expense account)). When I finally stopped laughing as my colleague practically jumped up and down repeating ‘What? What? What’s funny?’ I simply said ‘now that would be telling’! I never had the heart to tell him that X had come upstairs with me but being the ‘gentleman’ he was we had parted at the lift door going our separate ways!

And the long drive came shortly after the incident with the stove top coffee pots; no I didn’t burn myself on this occasion. However when attempting to unscrew the top from the bottom – without putting too much pressure on the handle (surely a design fault as this feature has a tendency to snap off) – I managed to sprain my wrist! I kid you not I was in agony next morning. In my defence I was performing the manoeuvre three times in a row. I had the blessed things wrapped in a towel to get purchase (and avoid getting covered in soot); I held the base against the worktop,  I embraced Mr Bertolli to my bosom, I tapped them on the edge of the sink and on the verge of tears finally the joint moved! I was not about to resort to phoning a friend (or enticing the UPS driver into the kitchen)!

Earlier the same (coffee pot screwing) day I had read a review of the film Hysteria in which the term a particular form of repetitive strain injury was included. In broad terms the films theme is around the development of the vibrator as part of treatment to alleviate the hysteria afflicting Victorian women. The vibrator was a pragmatic solution to alleviate the sore wrists of the (male) medical practitioners who had developed a form of intimate massage. So successful was the treatment amongst certain sections of London Society an appliance was developed rather than an apprenticeship scheme; how entrepreneurial of these gentlemen!

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