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On the road again, again

Travelodge – Hellingly Eastbourne, East Sussex

It’s a bit of a stretch entitling this entry ‘On the road again’ as it involves neither amphetamines, superhcharged sports cars, long straight roads stretching into far distance or me escaping life and a futile existence. In fact, I have only taken off from deepest, darkest North Cornwall to visit more civilised East Sussex for a funeral. And rather than spend days and weeks on the road, hooking up with equally disillusioned young women and sparked out, druggy lunatics, the journey from St Breward to my Travelogdge here near Hailsham took only - only – six hours (a little longer than usual as I spent the usual hour hunting down an Asda, this time to get a white shirt).

But it is good to get out and about. The funeral is for the widow of one of my stepmother’s former friends from the BBC, one of her more acceptable friends I have to add, because some of them can be a pain in the arse (not that I tell them – I can be as two-faced as the you).

My stepmother is now in a home as she kept falling over and is slowly losing it, so her cottage is empty, but last Sunday, I happened, just happened to be there watching a couple of football matches, when the niece of the woman who has died rang to tell my stepmother. As I liked the dead woman and her husband (who was Anglo Irish and had much of the charm the Irish often have) I said I would come along to the funeral. So here I am.

Staying at Travelodge’s has become something of a habit, and for good reason. They might be basic – i.e. no flunkies schmoozing up to you in the hope of a tip to supplement his pitiful wage – but they have everything I want: clean sheets, hot water and they are warm. And they are not expensive. I have now got to the age when a price rise for a Mars bar from nine to tne pence (and that is old pence, so 9d to 10d) is shocking, but a more modern part of me is fully aware that prices are rising all the time.

So, for example, the £40 I am paying for one night here is, according to my inflation calculator app, the equivalent of £26.95 20 years ago and just £16.96 in 1986, a year chosen because that’s when I began on the South Wales Echo in Cardiff. And in 1974, when I started my first job, as reporter on the Lincoln Chronicle, it was just what might seem an astonishing £4.77, though that isn’t astonishing at all because in them ol’ days most folk were still paid in washers.

The big news hereabouts – well in the whole of Britain – is next week’s general election, exactly seven days from now. I have spent the past few months bending the ear of anyone patient enough not to punch me up the bracket that ‘it will be another hung parliament with the Lib Dems doing rather better than expected, winning at least 60 seats’. Well, I have had to revise my predictions rather as the Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, has proved to be a – though in keeping with Lib Dem tradition – as useful as a chocolate teapot and is, it seems inspiring no one.

The Lib Dems polling figures are just not shifting from the 15% mark, though mention of ‘polling’ obliges me to give the usual health warning that the polls these days are as useless as Jo Swinson. For two weeks they had the Tories in the lead by about 16%, but that lead is now being cut. But bear in mind that in the election in 2017, known colloquially as ‘Mrs May’s finest hour’, she was way ahead in the poll, but on the night did not manage to get a majority and came out with fewer MPs than she had before she called the election.

I still think it will be a hung parliament, however, and so much the better. Nothing would please me better than to see both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn end up with egg on their faces. Corbyn will most certainly be out after the election, but I doubt he will resign. There will probably be some kind of palace coup. Johnson will hang on, though he influence will be much diminished, and, of course, we will be in for a few more months of ‘Brexit? What the fuck is going on?’

In other news, this Hemingway bollocks is proceeding, though slowly, as there is a lot of reading to do. And, dear friends, I have finally admitted to myself that to do it justice I shall have to – I have no choice – re-read A Farewell To Arms. I read it years ago (at the end of the 16th century I think) and can remember nothing about it. But as everything about Hemingway, from his style to the man himself, irritates the hell out of me, I am not looking forward to it. File this under ‘poor chap, he’s suffering for his art’.

Pip, pip.


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