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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Just look at those happy-go-lucky expressions...

You'd never guess I was standing on broken glass, with a pair of used panties in my pocket.

Of course, the key to looking good in these group photos is to use perspective to your advantage by standing a foot behind everyone else and adopting the pose of a hawk, thereby losing an instant three stone, and concealing your double-chin and four stomachs. The bloke on the right's a lot nearer to the camera than he looks. No, really. Although he told me to say that.

Anyhoo, Toby's expression might suggest that we were dining with terrorists this evening, but in reality, the happy couple in the picture above (because there's obviously only one) is none other than Jon & Steph Cheshire, Milton Keynes' answer to John Lennon & Yoko Ono. But with more chocolate and better art. Jon was telling me today that he can't understand people who use pseudonyms on blogs, so I'm not only using his full name, but will be publishing his address and phone number tomorrow.

It's a well known fact that the first website I ever created back in 2001 led to me bagging a wife, but eleven years later, it was also responsible for today's meeting. In addition to writing a fine blog (which is sadly now classed as abandonware), Jon was the power behind the throne of Kajagoogoo, and played some bass guitar on The Senators' third album. All of which led to him stalking me back in 2008, when he used to send me Mick Kitson memorabilia and secretly taped recordings.

Since then, he's branched out into bespoke artwork, and forced his wife to send me food parcels, probably against her will. Much like myself, Steph enjoys the luxury of four stomachs as founder, CEO and executive chef of the world-renowned Concrete Cow Confectionery. Which makes her a very useful person to know.

These days, Jon's usually hanging out with Nick Beggs and the bird from the beefburger ads, but after four years of e-mailing, commenting and occasionally ignoring each other, we felt it was about time we met up. Preferably without Lisa and me having to drive anywhere. So we were delighted today to welcome Jon & Steph to Brighton for the first of what I hope will become a series of regular meet-ups. And I'm not just saying that because they brought gifts. Here are the Cheshires saying cheese after a bowlful of parmesan...

You can tell from Amelie's expression that she knows they have access to chocolate.

To be honest though, we nearly didn't get as far as that restaurant. Jon and Steph arrived at our flat at lunchtime today, where they were instantly met by the dodgy bloke from upstairs, who welcomed them to the neighbourhood by telling them they couldn't park out the front. Jon pointed out the visitor's permit I'd given him, to which our neighbour responded by asking them to move anyway, so that he could park there. It was the warm 'Welcome to Brighton' they'd dreamt of, and if I were them, I'd have left. After letting down the man's tyres.

Fortunately they're far more forgiving than that, so they hung around long enough for a cup of tea and a biscuit, over which they presented us with an array of gifts, most of them home-made, edible and not featured on any diet. The exceptions were a 'Paint Your Own Piggy Bank' for Amelie, and a copy of Michael Winner's 'Dirty Weekend' on DVD. That was my fault for suggesting in an e-mail this week that they might want to stay the night in Brighton.

Having bonded over some nibbles, we soon headed down to Prezzo at the Marina, a restaurant we chose partly for the quality of the food, partly for the atmosphere, but mainly because we had forty quids worth of vouchers and you can park for free. Amelie ordered a pizza, which she then refused to eat, only to ask Lisa if she could have her lettuce. But other than that, we enjoyed the food. Although I was talking so much, I was the last to finish. Which is unheard of in social circles, and indicates just how much I liked the company.

Sadly, when you're riding the crest of a social wave, things inevitably come crashing down around you, and sure enough, Amelie's bowl of strawberry ice cream soon hit the floor like a cluster bomb, sending shards of broken glass across the restaurant, and forcing a member of staff to crawl under our table in body armour with a dustpan and brush.

I tried to gloss over the situation by getting Jon to dish the dirt on The Senators, before deciding to give up and get the hell out of there by taking Amelie upstairs to the toilet. When she asked to go again ten minutes later, I knew something was up, and sure enough, she'd had a slight accident in her knickers. With no access to laundry facilities, I was forced to remove the offending item of clothing, roll it up tightly, and then stuff it into my pocket, before heading downstairs for the photos.

I didn't tell Jon and Steph what had happened. It's not the sort of thing you want to admit to in public.


Dave Van Day said...

Dear Mr Gardner

As a Brightonian I have read and enjoyed your blog regularly
for a number of years and amazingly was dining this very afternoon at the Marina’s
Prezzo restaurant.  As the party next to
your table (that were listening in) I feel it necessary to write to correct a
couple of anomalies in your otherwise exceptional blog! Firstly, we feel sure
that Mr Cheshire (who seemed like a lovely human being) wasn’t much much closer
to the camera as you stated, but are confident that his image must have been
photo shopped the wrong way for comedy values! Also, I really do not think that
he said anything bad about the popular 80’s thug & beat combo; Doug and Dinsdale
Piranha- Kitson (The Sanators)  I feel very
sure of that !

Mrs D Van Day

Phil's Mum said...

I hope Amelie doesn't have access to this blog in 10 years time!  But great that you at last met up with your 'chocolate friends' (as I always think of them!) and found them to be as sweet as they sounded!

Jon the Bassist said...

Thanks Phil's Mum for those nice chocolate based comments. We did infact have a great time and really good to meet up everyone.

Jon the Bassist said...

Sorry there should have been a 'with' in there

Dave Van Day said...

Thats funny my name seems to appear as Dave Van Day?

Jon the Bassist said...

Thanks Phil's Mum for those nice chocolate based comments. We did infact have a great time and really good to meet up everyone.

Jon the Bassist said...

Sorry there should have been a 'with' in there.

A Passer-By said...

Photoshop the wrong way?   Perhaps you were looking at him in a mirror!