I’m safely ensconced back in chez Strachan after a incident free journey back from Bedfordshire, where I’d resided for the last two evenings. My chauffeur, the one and only TW Brown (Bill) of County Durham manor, dropping me off prior to an onward journey to Sunderland.

The amicable Mackem providing the ‘entertainment’ on the return odyssey by treating me a medley of songs from Andrew Lloyd-Webber musicals. Performed in his distinctive north east accent, I was pleasantly surprised at the tunefulness of my buddy’s voice.

His versions of ‘Music of the Neet’, ‘I Divvant Kna How To Love Him’ and ‘Tell Us on A Sunda’ refrains of such melodic beauty I almost wept. Although the tears in my eyes may’ve been from him breaking wind around Watford Gap services, which was of such pungent odour it felt like I’d been maced.

A man with a heart of gold, Bill didn’t even charge me to listen to his equally golden voice. However, he did ask we to whistle the sweeping strings accompaniments of the Phantom of the Opera tunes. Something I willing consented to until things became fraught after accusing me of whistling ‘The Point of Nee Return’ in three quarter time instead of the four beats per bar it was penned in by Lloyd-Webber.

This criticism leading to my childish strop and comment of “You can take your Point of Nee Return and shove it where it’ll never return.”

Not a wise thing to say to a man whose a brown belt karate exponent. My confrontational jibe leading him to him performing an excruciating Chinese burn on my right wrist. Which bearing in mind he had both hands on the wheel at the time caught me somewhat unaware!

After the Chinese burn, I refused point blank to accompany any further tunes written by Lord Lloyd-Webber, or indeed any other composer. Unperturbed by my refusal, though, Bill merely shrugged his shoulders and proceeded to perform a wonderfully melodious interpretation of ‘All I Ask of Yee’.

My Sunderland mucker and me enjoyed a great weekend as guests of mutual mate Alan and his engaging wife Jayne. Two people whose warm hospitality and vegetarian bacon sandwiches are legendary in the millinery hotbed of Bedfordshire…… To clarify the bacon sandwiches aren’t meant to be vegetarian, however the Food Standards Agency have deemed the lack of bacon in the filling render them as such.

Apart from skimping on sandwich fillings though, along with becoming put out I knocked over a cup of tea onto an armchair, dropped a wet towel on their brand new carpet upstairs and not making my bed on a morning, they were great hosts. A sort of latter day Monsieur and Madam Thenardier from Les Miserables.

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Alan, who both Bill and I have known for thirty five years, since we became workmates at British Coal, is great entertainment. In fact I’d go as far as saying he’s the funniest person I’ve ever met……. Or he would be if I’d never met anyone else during my capricious existential journey.

Earlier, as Bill dropped me off in Leeds, I asked him if he wanted a cuppa before leaving for his onward journey north. He declined saying “I can’t Gary I need to get back for wor horse!”…… I’m assuming he meant he was eager to feed one of the equines he owns….. Not that he’s tickets for a local stage production of War Horse.