2013 was finally over and it was a year I was glad to see the back of. 2014 came in with a bang in Southampton. At midnight we opened the back door to let 2013 out and open the champagne. It was raining. We opened the front door to welcome 2014 in, look at the fireworks and listen to the boats. We didn’t stay out long because the rain started teeming down. As we sat back down in front of the fire there was a flash of lightening and a tremendous clap of thunder and all hell broke loose with the rain. We hoped it wasn’t a sign of things to come, 2013 had been stormy enough thank you very much.
2 January 2014
There had been a half plan for a New Year’s Day walk but the way the trees were blowing about in the pouring rain had me thinking again. A seagull, flying towards the house was being blown sideways it was so strong. Then Commando decided to go out for a run so I thought I’d better show willing. Outside though, I was almost blown off my feet. The fence at the bottom of the garden was completely gone, I can’t see Topol piecing that together again. The champagne cradle from New Year’s Eve sat on the wet deck amongst the leaf debris.
In the end all I did was a circuit, up the Big Hill and back down the Little Hill with a quick stop to pick up an Echo on the way. Everything was wet and blowing about. I was wet and blowing about. I couldn’t help wondering about the Itchen. More rain is the last thing it needs right now. There was more than enough water in it on Sunday for sure.
Today I finally had to bite the bullet and sign on at the job centre for the first time in my life. The upside of the whole affair is that I got a good walk. Down along the river path where the evidence of all the rain and wind we’ve had is all too obvious and across the Big Bridge. It did mean walking past my old office which made me sad, mostly because the whole thing had felt like a walk to work until the moment I had to walk past.
Just the outside of the building is depressing even though it stands cheek by jowl with the wonderful Holyrood church. Inside is no less miserable. As always, I was early, thinking it might make a good impression. The non smiling man on the desk just told me to go away and come back at my appointment time.
So I found myself wandering up and down the High Street looking at the time. I did spot an interesting door, a huge rusted metal affair in the Portland stone walls next to the Standing Order pub, so I guess all was not lost. Back at the Job Centre the unsmiling one told me to go to the third floor. There I sat and waited for about twenty minutes, wondering quite why they’d told me to arrive at eleven when they didn’t want to see me until twenty past. I spent the time cleaning my glasses and wishing I had my kindle with me.
The Man who eventually saw me was, at least, quite friendly and kind. There were lots of forms to fill in and a few questions to answer. The one light moment in the whole process came when he asked for my identification. When I asked if my passport would do he said, “Perspex, sorry, I meant perfect, I’m dyslexic.” Apart from that I felt like crying throughout.
Afterwards I walked back over the New Bridge a total of six point four three miles in all. It was a beautiful day for a walk, blue skies and a light wind and, lets face it, I need the exercise.
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