For various reasons, I left for Wrexham as the clocked ticked rapidly towards 7pm. I should have been in the Welsh town already, if I had left work at 4pm, as I had originally planned, when I booked Guy Fawkes Night as holiday. Instead, I had just joined the A40, leaving Uxbridge and had an ETA of way past 10pm. It was going to be a long drive and it just started to lightly rain.
I thought back to the last time I was on this journey (albeit on a train). While October 2008, feels like a long time ago, I remember it very well, things were very different. I was a month into my new job and had just moved into my new flat in Newbury. I was at a point in my life, when I thought things could not really get any better. The irony is that two years later, I am the happiest I have ever been and on the verge of moving out from home once again (and hopefully on a permanent basis). I had caught the Wrexham & Shropshire train up to Wrexham General that day, as I had wanted to check out the journey and take a break from the car. Dave lives directly next to the station, so it was very convenient. The only challenge, was trekking into London Marylebone before boarding the non stop train heading to Wales.
Why had I opted for the car on this occasion? Mainly for the convenience of being able to dictate my own time of departure and arrival. Plus, last minute changes had meant I worked from home on Thursday before an important meeting in Uxbridge after which I could finally hit the motorway. I enjoy long journeys but for a change, I was rather unprepared. There was no recent album to listen to, instead I had to make do for KISS until I got out of range and then a mixture of FiveLive and TalkSport on the medium wave. My route was M40 –> M42 –> M5 (which takes me to the west of Birmingham and past Wolverhampton) and then finally join the M6. This lasts minutes, as I then exit onto the final motorway of the night, the M54. Michelle had called and was keeping me company on the telephone, as I made my way through the dark. Once the road switches down to dual carriageway A-roads, the street lighting is limited to the roundabouts. My target had always been to get to Wrexham before 10pm, so I could catch Eastenders on BBC Three. I made, it but only with minutes to spare. I pulled up at the gates and called Dave, he took an age to answer his mobile. I parked up and then got out to give my friend a big hug! It had been a long long time, seven hundred and thirty-five days to be exact or two years and five days. Time flies when one of your best friends lives in a different country. I grabbed my things and headed up to the
flat apartment, it was eerie how little had changed on the outside. Inside however, I was greeted by Lisa and new arrival but now eight months young – Jayden.
It was great to finally meet him after all this anticipation, photos on Facebook and MMS sent by proud father Dave. Then it was a quick catch up before watching Eastenders as pre-planned on BBC Three. We then decided to watch The Social Network, it was rather late after we had watched about an hour of the movie (2:30am), so we decided to call it a night and watch the remainder on Friday.
A great movie even if it paints a rather negative picture of the Facebook
founder co-founder. While I agree a certain amount of arrogance is a good thing, Mark comes across as a bit of a loser. I suppose that is the point, he was, a social outcast and he used the computer and Internet as a way of building friends and expressing himself. How much of this was his own idea, I do not think we will ever find out. However, I feel the influence of Shane Parker (played perfectly by Justin Timberlake) undermines Zuckerberg from being his own, self made man. The reality is, the website was a group effort even though Mark takes most of the credit. The legal wranglings are interesting, if not somewhat difficult to understand fully – the movie flashes back and forth from the present to past. It was great fun and I would highly recommend you watch it – even if you are not a fan or user of Facebook. It gives you a real insight into how you go from an idea that takes over the world. While there will continue to be debate as to how much of the story is based on reality, I take great comfort from the fact that what is actually quite a geeky story can actually be written and directed in such a fashion that the it is actually only about one man’s desire to be accepted by a woman.
Friday was Dave’s birthday and I was woken up by Jayden crawling across to me in the living room. Dave opened his presents and then after breakfast we got ready for the day. We headed over to meet Dave’s Dad at The Wrexham Golf Club around 11am. I drove over, as it was only a ten minute drive the other side of the town. It was great to see him again, although it was only a short flying stop as he was busy working in the kitchen. (I hate to disturb people while they are working). He was busy preparing breakfast for the golf club members and after a quick meet and greet, we headed back to the flat. We caught the end of the movie and then planned what to do for the rest of the day. We headed into town to meet up with Dave’s Mum. She was in Gregg’s with a friend and we meet up with her later and headed to Starbucks in Eagles Meadow. Once again, it was just a brief catch up over hot chocolate. Jayden proving to be the main attraction to his grandmother. We took a little trip into Boots. I was impressed by the blue-tooth connectivity of the photo kiosk machines, Dave was able to transfer a photo from his Blackberry onto the device for printing (instantly). The transfer across was very quick, I never knew that these machines now had wireless connections, I always thought you had to put in the memory card or USB stick. How times have changed!
We headed back to the apartment in the rain, with a brief stop to say hello to Lisa’s Mum at the chip shop. We were at the house for a few hours before heading out to Nando’s (in the same shopping centre) at 6pm. A nice relaxed meal for the birthday boy before we headed back to the flat for desert. (Oh and of course the final trip of the week to Albert Square). We decided what to do for the evening, we could play FIFA 11, watch some other movies or perhaps even go out. We opted to watch District 9, but with the volume down low (Jayden was a sleep in his pushchair) the movie was difficult to follow and I was slowly drifting off to sleep. We did have a quick go on FIFA, after all it was my birthday gift to Dave, so it would be criminal to let the weekend go by without a match. Crystal Palace versus Arsenal. I know why I do not play computer games any more – they have got extremely difficult and I say that as a religious FIFA addict (albeit from the last decade). I lost 3-0 but it could have been much worse. At around 11pm, the rock stars that we are, we decided to call it a night and I went to sleep.
Saturday was rather a relaxed day too. I got up around 10am and after getting ready we headed to the local shop (which was a good fifteen minute walk away to get the morning papers). We took Jayden to give him some fresh air, plus Lisa was having a lie in.
David has already asked me to carry out one duty which was a life long honour, but this latest request is a life time responsibility. As we made our way to the Spar, he asked if I would be God father to Jayden. Of course, I said yes! Not too sure if I am ready for another human life to be trusted in my sole hands but nevertheless, I am willing to learn the ropes and go for it. Plus, I am pretty sure, I will be on the road to fatherhood at some point in the not too distant future.
Saturday afternoon we went into town to have a few drinks but forgot the rugby was on, so the Welsh army were out in force. We are neither rugby fans or Welsh, so just found a quiet corner in the Ironworks to have a chat. It was the first time all weekend we could chat without having Lisa and/or baby Jayden in the background vying for attention. We moved on further into town to the Wynstay Hotel. A random started speaking to me about the Wales – South Africa game, the Cymru were not doing very well apparently. I tried to dip out of the small talk as quickly as possible. After Dave suffered a daylight robbery at the bar, we had our drinks and headed back to the flat to catch up on the football and get another round of FIFA in before the fireworks display.
We were going to drive down to the local display but left a little later than anticipated. Jayden did not settle in the car and started crying a few minutes down the road and did not stop. The car however, was stuck in traffic and after a few minutes, we decided to turn back and head back to the flat. The little man, just did not like the dark or the back seat of the car. On the up side, it meant we could order a pizza takeaway and catch The X Factor performances. My weekend was nearly over and I had the long drive home to endure but at least there was the Arsenal Newcastle game to look forward to on television on the other side.
I had a great weekend, it was great to see David and Lisa after almost two years and finally meet Jayden in the flesh. As usual the time went too quickly and I spent too much of the time sleeping (tired from the driving or the needs of a modern day parent with a baby). Hopefully I will see the Jones family together sometime before the summer!