I do love to be beside the seaside…which is why I go nowhere near it!
Yes, I am back with another going out story. But first, an observation: The blue whale ejaculates over 40 tonnes of sperm during mating, yet only 10% of that enters the female. And you wonder why the sea tastes so salty?
And now back to our regular programming! Now, I have two sisters, but because I try to keep this identity-less, they’re rarely called anything more than ‘sis’ on here, except for times when they’re both in the story, in which they’re called ‘big little’ and little big’. Just so as you know, this story features my other sister from the previous blog post.
And I should also point out that I have another sister, a half-sister, but I’ve never met her, so she’ll most likely never be mentioned here. Just so as you know.
So, yesterday, we were due to go to the cinema to watch the new Pirates movie – you know, the one without the annoying couple. This, itself, had proved quite difficult. Twice, my sister had rearranged it, because she has an annoying habit of changing her mind seemingly every five minutes, before eventually going out. Honestly, once, when we had decided to get back into bowling, she had changed her mind no less than eight times! But these past two weeks, she’s changed her mind, and we, I and my frequent side-kick in such capers, my dad, grew bored with playing these games and didn’t press her, so we didn’t go. However, that changed this week, as she put down a different pre-requisite for going out. If the other sis wasn’t here, then she would go. The other sis wasn’t here, so we decided to go. Except, the night before, I discovered that there were no showings at decent times. So we were defeated. Except we weren’t!
That is because, dear readers, we decided to go bowling instead! Readily she agreed to it, and come Sunday morning, dad and I disappeared for the morning, to avoid the drama of ‘I’m not going out! I am going out! I’m not going out! I am going out! I can’t get out of the bath!’ Don’t ask. We had gone out to buy miscellaneous objects to ensure the car will pass the MOT (a car test). Well, the things we bought didn’t work, so we’re stuffed, basically!
We departed almost without a hitch, and it was a pleasant ride to Havant, where the Bowlplex is situated. We entered to find the place in near darkness, with strange, multi-coloured lights flashing all over the place. It was quite dazzling, actually. The lane dividers had sweeping lights, and the pins were illuminated from above (most of them blue, but one was green which, if it was in the front and you hit a strike, you’d get a free game. We didn’t get a free game.) – all this was in aid of the kiddie birthday party that was being held in the alley-adjacent dining area. Having booked a lane, received our shoes, and then attempted to guess which lane was ours (the lights, I have said, were low, so I couldn’t quite see the identifying numbers. Our lane was number 13. My lucky number!), sis decided she wanted to input all the data into the scoring computer. This was not a good idea. I protested quite vehemently, and when the attendant came over to offer his assistance, he must have thought me crazy for the joy I displayed. Maybe he thought I was hitting on him. Oh dear.
Things went in their usual manner. Dad was consistent in his bowling action. High numbers, even a strike or two. I was more hit and miss, with my ball often leaning too far to the left to be of use, but I seek perfection, always, and so studied those about me for tips on better technique, so that, when I did hit the pins, I was able to get some decent scores. And my sister, well, she came to become a savant…at getting gutter balls.
The dynamics of our family are quite odd. We appreciate dad’s skill at throwing balls in a mature manner, but when it comes to my sis and I, things descend very quickly into childish one-upmanship. When I got a high score I would strut and saunter to my seat, when I got a low score she’d gloat; when she got a low score I’d cheer, and when she got a high score I’d trip her up as she made her way back to her seat. Good times. The game ended in the usual placing of dad first by a country mile, me second, and closely followed by sis in third.
Until the next game. I was on fire, Bebbie! I had figured out good walk up technique, so that I was having more hits than misses, and my dad was hitting more gutter balls – with him getting two in one frame, his first ever! – and sis, well, revelled in her suckiness. It was at about the half way point that I went ahead, a place I managed to hold on to – however, it was down to the last frame. Dad could still pull it back if he got even so much as a spare. He was first, as is custom, and got four pins down in the first try. Not bad. He only needed three to equal, but a spare would have won it, as I’ve said, because you get an extra go in the last frame if you do so. He lined up his second throw – and he missed! Gutter ball before it got half way! I had already won, before throwing my last frame! But, deftly, I did so, and got a good solid 8 for my time. Sis finished it, not with a bang, but with a whimper, and missed.
I won! It must have been the first time I had beaten both of them at bowling! I demanded a print out, something to immortalise the event. Later, when I have found a properly sized one, I shall frame it and hang it on the wall.
Beyond that, we had a quick play of the arcade – my sister does love to play these games, but I was flushed with success, and may have sucked the excitement out of her, so we left quickly. Next, we were to go to Portsmouth, or Pompey, as us locals call it. We were to go to the Portsmouth FC shop (Pompey shop, in the vernacular).
I love Pompey. Not just the football team, but the city. I’ve only lived there briefly, or in the orbiting towns, in the first ten months of my life, yet it feels like a second home. It is My City. Mine. Not yours. You can’t have it. There are plenty of great cities in the world, and you can have them. But this one? Is Mine.
So, naturally, I got lost in it. To be fair, it wasn’t my fault. I don’t drive, I’ve no need, when I live in a town of moderate size, I can walk everywhere. So dad drove. Except, the night before, I had been asked to look up the opening times for the Pompey shop. Now, there are three Pompey shops in Pompey. One, in Frogmore road right next to the club grounds, one is a megastore (dedicated solely to the club) near the club grounds, and the other is in Cascades, the multi-store (it has many shops of varying type, and only one shop in it is for the club) in town. I was asked, quite clearly, to look up the opening time for Cascades. Yet my dad, for some reason, decided to go to Frogmore road. Why? I have no idea. But on our way there, we realised we weren’t on the same page, and quickly got lost. We turned, left, right, forward, backwards, every way under the sun – but we couldn’t use the sun as a guide because it was raining quite heavily – until we realised we were in Southsea, one of the orbiting towns. Following the signs to Portsmouth city centre, we were back on track.
Except the city has been redeveloped over the years, so that none of us knew where we were, recognised none of the roads, and had no idea where to go. At one point, we had left the city altogether, without realising it. Back in we went and found a landmark that Dad knew – a cemetery. No idea why he knew that cemetery, but I won’t complain. On familiar soil, we followed on to another familiar landmark, and another, until we found Frogmore road. It’s very pretty, though we couldn’t really see much. A quick look told us that it was all closed up. Until we realised the shop was opposite, and what we were looking at was the ticket office. Back we went. Reversing all the way, for the place was packed with parked cars, only to see it, too, was closed. Forward again. Dead end. Reverse (at which point, upon seeing the back-end of Fratton Park, I said ‘even the arse end is beautiful’). Turn around. Back the way we came. Luckily, we found another landmark, one we knew well, for we walk by it every time we go to a match. It was a group of three buildings, garishly painted. Vivid blues and oranges (google ‘etap hotel, Portsmouth’ and then enter google street maps and hover over the roundabout nearest to it, you’ll see what I mean.), and so we made our way to the megastore. Which was closed. Back the way we had been.
Now, at this point, it wasn’t so bad. We were in the heart of the place we knew well, so it was just a case of connecting mental dots from one landmark to the other, so soon we were opposite Cascades. Except we couldn’t get to it. We were at a crossroads (not speaking figuratively here) and the Cascades shopping centre was directly opposite us, but because of the new road system, we couldn’t go straight ahead. We had to go left. To another crossroads. Now, in hindsight, I guess it was obvious. I even had suspicions about what was wrong at that point, but as a non-driver, I trusted to the one who was doing the driving. Big mistake. Let me explain things to you. The direction we had come from had only one road. There was another, to the right of us, and that was the one which we wanted to get at, so we went into the right hand land of our road, to signify we wanted to go right. It made sense because all the other roads had double lanes for entry and exit, so we thought our road was one way only. As we sat there, waiting for the traffic light to go green, we were sure all we had to do was go right.
Except, when the light went green, the bus that was opposite us didn’t go left, or right, but straight at us. We were not in a one way street, but a little, lonely, two-way street. And we were in the wrong lane. Hastily we backed up, though our progress was hampered by another bus coming up behind us that blocked any attempt we made to get into the right lane. Soon, though, it disappeared, and we got out of oncoming traffic. To find out that we weren’t allowed to go right. But straight ahead. Bastards!
As we watched the exit we so desired disappear from sight, the ludicrousness of our situation began to seep in, and we laughed at every wrong turn, every one way street, every roundabout. the concept of the roundabout is very simple, and I just don’t understand those from countries without a roundabout system who don’t get it, but it becomes problematic when the roundabout you know very well has another road added to it, and so you first try to go down an exit only road, and then down the wrong one entirely, so that you’re ejaculated out of the city itself!
But not to worry because, again, this was an underpass we knew well, yet still we managed to go into the wrong exit! Luckily we (and I use the word ‘we’ quite wrongly) realised our mistake quickly, doubled back, and went back to the roundabout. The one that has the birthplace of Darwin next to it. See, I know my city very well. Or was it Dickens? Maybe I don’t know my city that well, after all. It’s just the jokers who think one way systems are good who are evil and mess things up. This time, we managed get the right exit, which brought cheers from sis and I, and made our way to the parking lot of Cascades. Except it was another one way system! So we had to go round the roundabout and go back the way we came, except on the other side of the road divider, park, and arrive safely at Cascades.
It’s a very nice place, is Cascades, with all manner of shops housed, but I’ll not talk about them. The Pompey shop housed all our needs. It had Pompey rubber ducks, Pompey pillows, Pompey lamp shades, Pompey flags, Pompey I’m with stupid shirts, Pompey dog bowls, Pompey garden gnomes. Yep, garden gnomes. And it was only through my sister’s ailment of embarrassment that we didn’t get one. I bought nothing, as this was a trip which only my sister had wanted, though she did make me hold the Pompey flag, both to save her embarrassment, and because she was worried about poking someone in the eye.
We were about to leave when sis spotted Game, the electronic games store, and desired to have a perusal in there. It was in there that I found something that I just had to have. Not so much that it was an amazing product, but mainly because it would, and did, cause my sister such grand embarrassment to be seen in public with it. I waltzed up to the counter, a stupid grin plastered on my face, bought it, and I could tell the tillsman clearly thought there was something wrong with me. There probably is, though in this instance it may have just been because I was buying this sort of toy, or because I was taking inordinate pleasure from such a transaction, but whatever. I held it proudly in my hand, as we walked around Cascades, beside my sister, who tried and failed to walk several paces behind me. She was happy to get back to the car, but even then I held it up to the window, her anguish not quite finished, until finally we came to country roads, and there was no one to show my new purchase to.
Arriving home, I was very grateful to sit down to spaghetti Bolognese – though it took a while to finish, in which time Dad beat me quite soundly at darts. Payback’s a bitch, I tell you – and, while I’m not a drinker, I was grateful for the tipple of wine in the spaghetti sauce. So much so that I had to have seconds. Not of the pasta, you understand, or of the meat, but just of the sauce. You understand…right?
Oh. Yes. You may have wondered just what this toy was, that became the torture device that I wielded so effectively against my sister. Well, here it is: