The beer festival was the background to most of this week -- spent a fair amount of time there in between other stuff. Drank some good beers, ate too much expensive cheese, and had some good conversations. (Notable beers: Timothy Taylor's Porter, St Peter's Honey Stout, Milton's Queen of Sheba. Notable cheeses: Cashell Blue, Celtic Promise.)
On Wednesday we went to Oxford for PANIC. It was strange being back in Oxford with a load of people who I didn't know when I was there as a student. The journey there was odd, too; I think arriving by car (which I only ever did with parents when I was a student) helped to avoid the physical wrench of homesickness that I often get when I visit Oxford by train; though there were one or two road-signs (it's the tiny things that trigger the reaction) that gave me twinges of melancholy. However the music and the general silliness of the journey stopped me getting maudlin; I was mostly too busy painting my nails (black and white checked to match my tights and t-shirt) and changing CDs.
Slightly random dinner in the Mongolian Wok -- for those who don't know the restaurant, they have a system where you put together your own raw ingredients for stir-frying from a buffet-like selection, and present them to the chefs who cook them for you on an enormous flat frying surface, before handing the resulting dish back to you for eating. I swear they were laughing at some of my concoctions. It's funny, though, I don't remember ever worrying about how good the food I put together was when I went there before -- it was just fun then. I think in some ways I've got less confident about my abilities since then -- probably because now I'm much more surrounded by people who excel at everything they do, than I was at Oxford.
We got to PANIC while it was still mostly-empty, which I was pleased about -- I always used to get there pretty much as soon as it opened, so the mostly-empty Club Latino was what my memories expected. Hell, I was on such a nostalgia kick that I even welcomed the cheap vodka and warm orange juice. And the music that they played might have been put together especially for me -- so many songs that brought back good memories. julietk's set was excellent, and I was particularly impressed at how seamlessly she segued between songs given that she was DJing with no headphones! I danced pretty much non-stop all night.
(Suede. Blur. The Smiths. Pulp. Bis. Kenickie. The Buzzcocks. The Clash. Nirvana. I wanted to write a list of the good songs they played at PANIC, but just listing the bands left me lost in a litany of half-forgotten heroes. It's like looking through my record collection and only having to glance at the (limited edition, signed, gatefold) sleeves to remember the tracks I've played, the tears I've cried. The names evoke so many memories of university and earlier, of teenage years, of dreams, of finding out for the first time that people were singing songs that said what I was thinking; thinking this meant something, thinking we could be something, thinking any of this mattered.)
Crashed at Chris's house, took a long time to wake up, and eventually staggered into town for brunch at everybody's favourite greasy spoon, St Giles caff. More nostalgia; the ghosts of absent friends seemed to be tangibly present. Or perhaps that was just the smoke and grease in the air. From there we headed to the Turf for a drink; a slow pint of Old Rosie, and a gallon of yesterdays.When ewx started falling asleep we decided it was time to return to Cambridge.
sion_a's birthday on Friday; he had the day off work so it was a fairly lazy day for both of us. We went to the beer festival for lunch, pottered around the house in the afternoon, and then went to Cafe Uno for dinner. (Dinner was excellent, service was fairly poor -- waitrons completely forgot about us between the starter and the main course, and we had to remind them that we were still waiting for food. We don't seem to be having much luck on the service front recently -- maybe it's because we both have negative bar presence...) Tried to pop in to the beer festival on the way back but it was too late, they'd stopped letting people in.
Shopping and picnic
Pottered around town with sion_a, lnr, ewx, and hoiho on Saturday; ended up buying a shiny pair of trousers just so that I could change into nicer clothes for the evening without having to go home. This is getting ridiculous. Though they are nice trousers (purpley-blue shiny, quite tight) and they were only cheap. Quick stop at Sainsburys for picnic food and then we wandered over to the beer festival, which by then was definitely running out of beer. Still, we managed to find a fair few nice beers with which to wash down the bread, hummous, cheese, pâté, cold meats, pork pie, strawberries and cherries. Amazingly, I still found room after all that lot for dinner with hoiho at Yippee (Japanese/Singaporean restaurant on King Street).
Constructions and conflicts
Spent most of Sunday decorating fairy cakes and tidying the house in preparation for the Joint Birthday Party. The party got off to a rather slow start, but it was good to talk to people I don't see very often like Steven Kitson, and of course Huw. Also good to have a long-overdue conversation with daneel_olivaw, even if it was weird talking to him from above (I was wearing my mad 15-inch-platform boots, which make me slightly taller than him).
To be honest though the party is all a bit of a smoky, boozy haze. Huw's garlic bread was as awesome as ever; and Matt had truly surpassed himself with this year's "construction". After that I begin to get a bit confused about what happened when, which may not be a coincidence. There was a lot of drunken (and fairly violent) horseplay; nobody got badly physically hurt, but there were definitely Bad Emotional Consequences, although these didn't really become apparent until today. The inimitable Mary Pegg impressed those who were still awake with his piano-playing. Microwave popcorn was deemed necessary, as was "Meet me in St Louis". Finally said "good night" in broad daylight.
Slept till about 3pm, finally mustered the energy to stagger into the computer room at about 4pm, to discover the Bad Emotional Consequences mentioned above. Now everybody seems to be hurting, and there's nothing I can do to help; and no matter what music I play, it doesn't seem to block out the silence. I can offer hugs, but I can't take away the hurt, and the hugs feel like they're misplaced.
I think I'm going to go and mope offline for a change.