In 2003 I went to Open University summer school: a week of being a ‘real’ student, with lectures and boozing - you could buy wine at lunch and dinner! I didn’t, but it was exciting knowing it was available.
I chose Manchester for my summer school – seven minutes by train from Stockport so I could come home if it was all too much for me. It wasn’t. I had a fabulous time; it’s in my Top Ten List of Best Experiences Ever.
One of the week’s benefits was that I made lots of new best friends, never to be heard of again once the week was over, except for two: Mangetout, who some of you know via her blog; and Becky.
Becky doesn’t blog because she’s too busy doing real stuff, like earning a living; you can visit her website and if you or your staff need training in something, Becky can provide it. I know she’s good at what she does because, on the last day of summer school when we all had to present the project we had been working on, not only was she the only person not to mumble and/or overdo it, she actually sounded like she knew what she was talking about.
I was so impressed by Becky that when they let us out midweek to do our own thing, I latched on to her visit to Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery because I knew she’d guide me safe home again to the campus. And she did. Without her, I might be not-blogging, living homeless in Salford and thinking Man United were a good team because I couldn’t find my way back to civilisation. Please thank her if you love your Laughing Housewife.
Becky and I supported each other online while completing our degrees. My support must have been much better than hers because she got a better degree than I did. I forgave her for that and we remained friends via Facebook.
Becky and her family live darn sarf but we don’t hold that against her. She makes occasional excursions oop north to visit relatives; she made one such visit this week and she and her lovely husband Tony spent the afternoon with us on Tuesday. It was delightful. Spud popped his head in to be polite and stayed several hours, running up the electricity bill because he had left his X-Box on, not expecting to be away from it for too long.
The conversation was excellent:
Tilly Bud: Let’s talk about me and how wonderful I am and all the things I’ve done and how great I am and how great I am and let’s talk about me some more.
Becky: [Laughs in all the right places. Because she's lovely like that.]
We talked about summer school, Shakespeare and poetry; politics, religion and family; and why the government are cocking up Olympic security – we had no solutions, but that’s not our department, is it? We vote; let them sort it out. I can’t give you chat specifics because I was too engrossed to make my usual notes.
I spent Monday having a massive clear out so we looked reasonably tidy. My eldest child may never get into his room again; but he hardly visits, so I’m not too worried.
Cleaning on Monday meant I could concentrate on the food on Tuesday morning, for their late-morning arrival. Preparing food for visitors is hard work and requires a qualification in logistics to be ready/not too warm/not too cold/have time for a brew and catch-up first/edible. That’s why I did sandwiches. Aren’t they pretty?
And no reports of food poisoning; always a bonus.
I had to make sure the food was prepared before they arrived: I needed to take photographs for you. Also, I don’t like to be in the kitchen when I have guests. Or ever. My guests were too interesting to be left for long with my family. Every time I made tea I missed fascinating conversation and my son laughed at me for spending the day one topic behind.
I had a small hysterical moment when I tried to open these cakes where the packet says, Open Here. The packet doesn’t say, But you can’t do it with wet hands and if you take a knife to a packet that you’ve been gripping with wet hands you might stab yourself.
I managed to fit in one of my 101/1001 tasks during the visit: Try a new food. Our guests brought goodies, including olives. I have never eaten olives. I have never fancied eating olives. I am game for a small challenge, however, so I wrinkled my nose and popped one in.
Becky did warn me they were garlic and chilli olives, but I like garlic and I like chilli. I don’t like olives.
The Evil Olives (centre)
Burning tongue, watering eyes and roiling stomach aside, thank you, Becky and Tony, for a wonderful afternoon. Be sure your biscuits found a good home, and we will talk about you behind your backs long after you’ve forgotten us.