THERE is a new date on the social calendar. On the basis that the sun has only come out for a couple of days all year, I decided on Monday afternoon that it would be a shame to waste the chance of sitting outside a boozer, soaking up the rays and downing a cold one.
So who should I ask to join me on this departure from the norm? First call went to Withers, then Roberts, and finally Smashy.
Roberts was hesitant. "I'm in the middle of writing some stuff for this World Cup rugby magazine that is supposed to be in by tomorrow."
"Why not write it tomorrow morning then?"
Withers wasn't so easily persuaded. "I'm buying a present for my Dad's birthday at the moment. Mind you, I could be in the pub in half an hour."
Smashy had an even more interesting response to my impromptu call to "Arms", or perhaps that should be The Yard.
"But it's Monday."
"Yes, but it's sunny."
"OK, see you at 4."
What a tough task to get these creatures of habit to break with the rules.
As for Danny Boy (the poipes, the poipes)... no one has the number for the current bus shelter he is sleeping in.
Anyway, it appears his days of caution-to-the-wind benders may be on the wane. His embarrassing Saturday no-show the other week is still fresh in his mind, I'll wager, not helped by the fact that Smashy keeps saying things like "It's Saturday, Dan, what are you doing up?"
As it was, I later found out that Danny Boy (the poipes, the poipes) was having his Western Mail and Echo Ltd indoctrination session (they call it induction: you say tomayto I say tomato). This is when the new boys and girls are introduced to the wonderful workings of this endearingly archaic establishment.
It's a bit like when Will Smith joins the Men in Black operation and encounters all manner of strange beings. In Danny's case they are Human Resources operatives with names like Agent AJ or "training managers" like Pat "Johnny" English.
As the day winds its way interminably on you learn to bend your knees while picking up boxes and how the Company Intranet is a veritable minefield of information when you can actually access it. This, the newbies are told, can happen at the click of a button.
Wrong, according to Danny Boy (the poipes, the poipes).
"This girl kept clicking on the mouse and nothing happened. So she would do it again and again, thinking that eventually it might work. It didn't".
Welcome to the world of WME IT.
Anyway, because of all this Danny Boy (the poipes, etc, etc) was unable to join us.
The rest of us had a very pleasant afternoon. Roberts spent long hours into the evening debating the merits of Japanese rice crackers with the barman while Withers waffled on about the new housemate who may or may not be joining him -"she works in Spiller's records" (a plus point) and hasn't met Withers yet (a definite plus point).
There was also a long discussion (not involving Withers because it wasn't about politics) about how bad the Wales rugby side were in their World Cup "warm up" against England which they lost by a record 62-5.
But the main item of debate was the new Social Date in the calendar. Someone suggested it should be called Monday Fun Day. But I've heard that one before.
My own preference: More beer Monday. From now on, I decree, it shall take place on every first Monday in August.
Stumbled home and went to sleep still considering this vital point. On Tuesday I kept up my good health kick with a very nice dinner of Grilled chicken with spinach and pea risotto.
Four sliced spring onions
risotto rice (Arborio or something, it's apparently called)
Chicken breasts - as many as you fancy.
Bag of spinach
Salt and pepper
Heat the grill
Season the chicken
put a small amount of olive oil in a wok or frying pan
Heat, then add the spring onions and stir around and cook for four or five mins until they soften.
Add the rice (a cup full should be plenty)
Stir around for about a minute then add the stock, a bit at a time, stirring until it is soaked up by the rice.
Add the frozen peas and a bit more stock then cook on low heat, stirring occasionally.
Rinse about half a bag of spinach.
Meanwhile, brush the chicken breasts with olive oil then put under the grill. Cook for 10 minutes, turning until chicken is done.
Back to the risotto. Add the spinach and stir in, then allow to wilt before turning off the heat.
Serve the chicken on a bed of spinach and pea risotto with two chunks of wholemeal bread, covered in margerine.