The Norwich Book of Records

The Norwich Book of Records

Norwich is stuffed with the biggest, finest, oldest and firsts in all the realm. There’s a gem on virtually every corner. These are a few of my favourites. Hover over the image for a brief hint and click for more scintillating facts that you never knew you wanted to know.

With thanks to Visit Norwich for much of this treasure trove.

The Love Letter

Just after Liam left for work, I rolled out of bed, staggered down the treacherous winding stairs of the old Weaver’s Cottage and wandered into the kitchen to make my morning cuppa. I flicked on the kettle and opened the fridge to retrieve the milk, only to find this little note taped to the carton:

The Love LetterBrought a little tear to my cynical eye.

Liam’s Lips

Liam’s Lips

“The eyes of Caligula and the lips of Marilyn Monroe.”

Who said this and about whom?

Liam Brennan

Seven Year Itch

Seven Year Itch

It’s the fifth anniversary of our civil partnership today and seven years since Liam and I first met. I’ve been stalked by happiness (and a bit of sadness from time to time) since the day I dropped out of my mother’s womb screaming “I am what I am.”  The last seven years have been, without question, the happiest. I awoke this morning to find that Liam had posted  a little something on Facebook.  Believe me, I know how lucky I am.

Okay, you. One sentence should do it.

Seven years ago we met in that bar in Trafalgar Square, shared that Sloppy Giuseppe and over-priced Pinot Grigio, argued about the bill, eventually went Dutch, courted for months like a pair of 1950’s Catholics (for heaven’s sake), collapsed out of exhaustion into the world of jiggy-jiggy (terribly messy but strangely exciting), fell madly in love, got married (nice suits), moved in together (delicious scandal), watched the curtains twitch (mostly nets), gave up everything sensible and moved to Turkey (what was wrong with Spain?), fell in-and-out-and-in-and-out of love with an extraordinary (no, challenging, misogynistic, homophobic, primitive and God was it cold – okay I loved it) place, you writing ‘that’ book, ‘that’ book getting critical acclaim and big sales (cha-ching) but ‘that’ book largely ignored by those close to us (discuss?), coming back to look after our own (good call), becoming poor, well poor-ish (bad call), discovering the great city of Naaaarwich (nuff said), having more jiggy-jiggy (apparently unnatural, but terribly good with central heating and an injection of Radio 4 LW), re-discovering UK culture like a long lost friend but afraid to tell the expats how wonderful it was in case it came across as boastful (fine line), you becoming ‘properly’ recognised as a ‘proper’ writer (hurrah!) not to mention radio star (OMG), me re-learning Bach fugues (they are SO hard to play, even harder than Mozart, you really have no idea how my fingers ache), both of us weeping like candles at the latest Cinema City flick (okay, mostly Dame Maggie and thank God for the discounted tickets and blood-warm Merlot at the bar), getting over-excited about that converted railway carriage in miles-from-nowhere (yes, I could wash my bits in a sink with a view like that), improvising those make-shift nappies during the messy norovirus days (thank you Blue Peter and Morrison’s super-padded 2-for-1 kitchen towels, we owe you), people-watching at the Playhouse and longing to be young (clearly, we need to avoid Death In Venice comparisons here), gasping at Bonnie Langford’s amazingly flexible crack (and boy, can that Dolly write a tooone) but most of all, keeping our focus, always, on making sure our glass is resolutely full. I’d say it’s been an extraordinary seven years, husband.

Happy Anniversary. It still feels surprisingly good.

Oboe for Hire

Working class lad, Liam, was born with an innate desire to blow things. This manifested itself at the tender age of seven when he learnt to play the recorder with noted skill. A year later, he moved on to the oboe, an altogether more difficult woodwind instrument to master. By 15, he’d learnt to play the piano and started composing simple ditties in a classical genre. By 18 he was studying for a music degree, became an oboe for hire for various orchestras and his then more complex compositions attracted a more discerning audience. A career in serious music seemed assured. But, by 20 Liam discovered the love that dares not speak its name and, with hormones raging, his creative juices flowed in an entirely different direction. His classical career in tatters and with penury looming, he joined the civil service.

Liam rediscovered his beloved oboe in the loft when we were preparing for our emigration. It had been sitting in its sad satin-lined box, broken and unblown for decades. Unable to breathe life back into the lifeless instrument, he sold it on Ebay. It was a sad day. That was then.

Find out more about Liam’s music here.