Thursday, 26 November 2009

And the answer is...

...number 8!


Much to my surprise, I passed my driving test first time. I thought I'd made all sorts of mistakes. At the end, the examiner sat staring out into the middle-distance for what seemed like a long time.
"You've passed," he said, in a deadpan voice, still staring straight ahead.
"Didn't I drive straight across an unmarked crossroads without checking?" I asked.
"You don't seriously expect me to answer that?" he said.
I still think he sat, weighing things up, and decided that he never wanted to have to get into a car with me again.


Well, I thought, that's all life's necessary exams out of the way. Exams are for schoolkids and students. I can now get on with my life. I went round to the Lada garage and bought my first car - the first of several Lada estates. (They were great, I thought. I only stopped buying them because they became impossible to get).


Exams. Little did I know. Somehow, years later I found myself taking my chainsaw certificate, sawing down a 60ft pine tree while the examiner stood where he expected the tip to land.


I was a NUPE Shop Steward in my youth. I was a care assistant at the time, working for Camden Council. We're talking late 70s, early 80s: heady political days. Every now and again we had mass meetings at which the members of the shop stewards' committee were expected to address the membership. My enduring memory of these events was an old man who, whatever the hot topic of the day, always delivered the same speech with slight topical modifications. There was always general agreement with what he said. It was just the way he chose to say it. On one occasion, a good ten minutes in, as he reached the climax ("and, brothers and sisters, we must unite to fight this Tory government..."), his false teeth flew out and landed in the front row.


I once played a small part in a gig at the Band on the Wall in Manchester. NME or Melody Maker (I forget which) reviewed the evening's entertainment, describing our contribution as "a pseudo-exploratory metaphysical..." Well, if you read the previous post, you'll know.


Over twenty years later, I found myself walking up Ben Nevis. Spent a happy afternoon -along with quite a crowd- sheltering in the windowless steel box on the summit, passing round the whisky bottle. Next day, I walked up it again, by a different route.


I ran away from boarding school, never to board again. I have vivid memories of looking over hedge and seeing a queue of panda cars waiting at a junction. At one point we (there were two of us) hid in a barn to escape the attention of what we were sure was a police helicopter. As evening approached and it began to get cold, we gave ourselves up. Back at school, I was told, sternly, that I was being suspended. I never went back. I went to a different prep school as a day boy: it was a lucky break for me, They help me get myself together and, as it provided the choir for the near-by cathedral, I was introduced to making music.


Once, on holiday in Sweden (well, visiting a friend in Stockholm) I went for a swim in the Baltic. It was extremely cold. Looking back, I think I must have done it just so I could quote the fact in a list of things I'd done in my life.


I once did a gig at the Ulster American Folk Park - well, several gigs over a weekend. I was playing bass -temporarily- in a fiddle band, The Rosinators. The best part was sneaking out to a tiny bar just down the road from the hotel we'd been billetted in. I've never had the car-meeting-me-at-the-airport treatment before or since. It was only the second time in my life I'd flown and I've not flown since.


I went on some memorable journeys sat on the back of my friend Sam's old MZ, but I've never owned or ridden a motorbike myself.


Rachel Fox said...

I used to work for the company that did Lada's UK advertising and PR!

Poetikat said...

Such a renegade! What an adventure, breaking out of boarding school.
I'm amazed.

Love that name, "The Rosinators".

You've had a pretty exiting life thus far.

Totalfeckineejit said...

You are a true eccentric, Dominic, I'm delighted to say! As for Weaver,how did she not know you never had a motorbike?

Note to Rachel, you had yer work cut out there!

Dominic Rivron said...

Rachel: Do you put that on your CV - or keep it quiet? :)

Poetikat: Exciting? I've never looked at it that way. Perhaps I have.

TFE: How she didn't know if I'd had a motorbike I've no idea - but I did try to make it a convincing lie. I had a friend who rode an MZ. My dad hated motorbikes -he'd pulled a dead motorcyclist out from under a van- and refused to let me have one, so if I had, when we lived a long way apart (we did for years)I would have kept it under my hat! (OK, big hat).

Anonymous said...

Fascinating stuff, Dominic. I like the school escape account and the tale of the flying teeth. I might nick this idea.

The Rosinators are still going strong. I'm sure I saw them either at Cambridge or WOMAD.

the watercats said...

did you frame the nme review?, I'd be so chuffed to get that response, lol :-)

Dominic Rivron said...

Dick: Feel free. The flying teeth brought the house down. I can still see the chairman beating the table trying to restore order!

It may not have been the same ones - there are two. The Rosinators I played with are two fiddlers and a guitarist who sometimes draft in bass and drums. If that was the lineup, it was them.

watercats: No, but I stuck it in a folder somewhere with a some other unchuckable stuff.

The Weaver of Grass said...

well - I got it right - and I swear that although I am your mother, it was a fairly wild guess. Some of them I knew of course (your running away from Boarding School is ingrained on my brain and manifests itself in a dream if ever I am feeling under the weather - I am frantically searching for you in vain!) But there were quite a few I was not at all sure about.

Titus said...

Aha! It was the whisky that made you go up twice!

All working now, but s l o o o o w.

Rachel Fenton said...

The teeth got funnier in the comments!

You are rather convension defying, aren't you?

I enjoyed reading this, and I would have nicked the teeth had Dick not got there first, but I don't want them third hand/mouth!

Get Off My Lawn! said...

When put in that order, its a wonder any of us get to be functional people at all. But an enjoyable read.

BwcaBrownie said...

I'm sorry.
It is wonderful reading here, and Thank You, but I got stuck at 'chainsaw certificate'

I can't go on.