So. . . I went to England. . . I came back again. Jolly glad I was, too. Was it always that noisy?
I saw several old pals and, of course, they are still the finest of the fine. I saw my daughter who is, naturally, the loveliest 16-year-old on the planet. I stayed with Sal's brother Mart (a brewer of excellent stout) and his wife Kath who is still gurgling happily about her new grandson Henry.
On two other nights I collapsed in a Guinness-sodden heap at the house of Reg. Since I left he's developed into the male equivalent of a mad cat lady.
Reg was always a serial dog rescuer, but he's now in charge of five, including Dave the Alsatian, Tilly the Beagle, Katie the Australian Cattle Dog (so handy in suburban Wolverhampton), Henry the three-legged err. . ., and the latest waif whose name escapes me at present but who looks a little overwhelmed, if very grateful not to be tied up in the back garden of a house that was vacated by a family of complete arseholes two weeks earlier.
All have behaviour issues, so entering Pither Towers gives you a taste of the army's house-to-house training. Reg achieves the entrance, while you act as back-up. What follows is a lot of barking and growling - some of it from the dogs - before they are all packed off into the back garden to disturb the neighbours' barbecue.
Having de-Regged meself, on the way back from England I met up with Mr Hotel Proprietor and The Boy. We drank beer in Edinburgh's Cafe Royal where the pre-match build-up was interrupted by the full pipe band and The Oxford Bar where I was disappointed not to bump into Inspector Rebus hot on the trail of gangster 'Big' Ger Cafferty.
The three of us then attended Scotland v Ireland at Murrayfield at which I enjoyed several wild mood swings before the blessed relief of an Irish victory.
I got home two days later. Sal had been baking lemon cake and chocolate brownies and today the sun was shining. It's good to be home.