computer horrors and then a surprise

If I have been silent, it has not been for want of trying. We have had a fortnight of computer hell, with no internet access, just endless smug repetitions of ‘unable to establish a connection’. In the end, the only connection I wanted to have with my computer – not my delightful wireless iBook, but the computer that’s supposed to get us onto the ‘information super-highway’- was on the end of my foot. Oh, how we love machines when they work. How we hate them when they don’t. I could just have gone to the library, of course. I could have done any number of things. But I wanted the computer to do what it promised when I bought it and it wouldn’t. Won’t bore you with the grisly details. Suffice to say, those automated answer helpdesks are obviously designed to make you explode and totting up the number of man-hours spent on the telephone, I could have written at least 30,000 words of my new novels. Grrrrrrrr. Only good thing was that for a fortnight I was so angry and frustrated I couldn’t eat. Computer loss equals weight loss. At least that was something.

We’re watching the television adaptation of I Claudius, based on the novels by Robert Graves, at the moment. Great titles for each episode: Poison is Queen, and Just When You Think It Can’t Get Any Worse – I made the last one up, but it would have done very well. Derek Jacobi is superb as Clau, Clau, Claudius, the stutterer who became Roman Emperor, and just hearing Agrippina saying ‘here are my sons, Nero and Caligula’ is enough to send you running for cover. I’d forgotten what wonderful telly it was. Perfect for making you forget the onset of autumn, and if you think you’ve got family problems, you can always thank God, or perhaps Jove, that you weren’t given Tiberias as a father – or Livia (a peerless performance by Sian Phillips) as a mother. The make-up is very 1970s, which gives the story an added twist. There’s lots of nasty emperors, too, so they can keep you happy for ages.

My big story of the month, though, is that at a small dinner party miles away from any capital city, I found myself sitting at dinner next door to Hugh Grant. Yup, Hugh Grant of 4 Weddings and a Funeral etc. fame. I’d like to say I was cool as cool, and just thought, ‘oh, here’s Hugh Grant’. But of course I didn’t. I thought CRIKEY BOBBERS – a Lancashire expression – I’M SITTING NEXT TO HUGH GRANT! Two responses only were possible: starstruck silence or verbal overdrive. I’m afraid I collapsed into the latter. He was very charming, and yes, his hair is just as floppy as it looks in Notting Hill.

And so the A list man and I, we spoke of many things
Of shoes and ships and sealing-wax, of cabbages and kings
And why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings …

Apologies to Lewis Carroll.

I, at least, had a lovely time.

Onwards and upwards,