Wednesday, July 28, 2004

And finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint

Well it was a busy day yesterday.

First port of call was Eastleigh and our accountants Langdowns DFK to sign the forms making Mary a fully-fledged director of M&M Enterprises thus turning it from Mark&McLellan to Mark&Mary. Not that we are exactly a major multi-national corporation, more what the Americans call a "Mom and Pop operation". Still it is worth being a company for tax efficiency reasons.

Second port of call was London and the Oral Hygiene Centre in Devonshire Place for a full set of "after" X-rays. The "before" set was taken fifteen years ago when I first starting seeing Raj Rayan. Now, many root canal treatments and eleven - count'em, eleven - crowns later he felt it was time for an "after" set. Each crown was carefully colour-matched to the existing teeth which means they are all the same old not-as-white-as-I-would-like colour. But they are structurally sound, all mine and paid for!

Third port of call was Charlotte Street to meet up with Pete and Amanda for drinks then across the road to Fino, Tapas restaurant. The food was excellent but not cheap. One high spot was the presence of Pedro Ximenes, PX to it's friends, on the wine list - like liquid Christmas pudding. This was recommended as an accompaniment for ice-cream and is what we would have taken to Bob and Lynn's on Saturday if we had had any. So this was a chance to try it and I just had to have the Chocolate Brownie with pistachio ice-cream. Mind you it was struggle, I felt like Mr Creosote by the end.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Croquet by moonlight

(well more like dusk really) On Saturday we went round to Bob and Lynn's for a BBQ and croquet on the lawn along with their neighbours, Duncan and Cathy. Given the size of the lawn there was a fair amount of taking a drop from the flower bed. Duncan has been practising for some weeks so Duncan and Lynn romped ahead with Bob and I closing the gap towards the end but still not enough to win.

Mary and I were on starters-and-puds duty so took along Cajun prawns and two lots of home made ice cream (Cherry and Stem ginger). To go with it we took a 1995 Tokay (6 puts) and a 1998 Noble Reisling from Jim Barry. The latter was excellent. I am on a campaign to persuade restaurants to stock dessert wines. Everytime I order a dessert and they have no sweet wines on their list I give them a hard time - protesting in the politest way - and suggest they should expand their wine list.

Friday, July 23, 2004

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Garden leave over :-(

Mary's work tracked her down so we had to come up to London yesterday for her to go into the office. Last night she met up with her friend Andrea for a drink and a meal and I went down to Wimbledon to meet up with my old friend Ros for a meal in Lighthouse - an excellent Italianate restaurant up in the village.

Ros is working part-time with special needs children some of whom suffer from Austism / Asperger's syndrome. So I was telling her about Mary's favorite book of the moment: "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" by Mark Haddon. This has had a profound impact on Mary and she has been lending it to as many people as she can saying "you must read this!".

That set me thinking. There have been two books of which I have had to buy multiple copies of because I have given away mine for people to read. They are "A Woman in your own right" by Anne Dickson and "The Road Less Travelled" by M Scott Peck.

The former is as useful for unassertive men in the material world as it is for women. The latter speaks to the spiritual side - there be grace and wisdom.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Musical malapropisms

Yesterday was an excellent day in the garden. Blazing sunshine and lots of good stuff done: relocated some hostas, corralled some stray crocosmia, lit a bonfire, planted some chervil, pruned the vines, did lots of weeding. I suffer from a strange sense of humour and always return from watering the vegetables singing "Little Red Courgette".

But now there is a new veg on the block. Yesterday I spent most of the time with the (adapted) words of Sorrow by David Bowie echoing round my skull, "With your long blonde hair and your eyes of blue, The only thing I ever got from you was Sorrel".

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Garden leave

So we cancelled our flights to Italy and the car hire (and lost 40,000 air-miles into the bargain because I did not read the 24 hour small print). Now we spend a week at home and much of it in the garden. Me because I have no work this week and Mary because she has resigned from her current employer.

Although Mary is employed until the end of the month they are very unlikely to assign her a new piece of work. So it is occasional visits to the office for hand-over to colleagues, final admin and the odd meetings. The rest of the time is R&R until her first contract as a self employed person starts next month.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Robert De Niro's Waiting...*

...and so are we. Talking Italian organisational abilities. Piss up in a brewery. On our trip to Italy two weeks ago we were assured that the purchase of our "Hovel in the Hills" would go through this week. And has it? Has it it b*gg*ry! And no confidence that it will happen next week. Then Italy is on holiday for August. So that is probably it until September. Reminds me of the joke:

In Heaven the British are the police, the Swiss the organisers, the French the chefs, the Germans the engineers and the Italians the lovers.

In Hell the British are the chefs, the Swiss the lovers, the French the engineers, the Germans the police and the Italians are the organisers.

Well I think that about says it. Harrumph!

* Bananarama

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Well it made me larf

Must add this to my repertoire of general purpose jokes, like the bear hunting trip and the cowboy outfit: The Bunny and the Snake.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Oh where am I now? *

Mary's Mum is safely back in Scotland, Mary is in Dublin and I am in Zurich.

I arrived at the client owned apartments to find a very surprised Korean gentleman in my room in his boxer shorts and T-shirt. Whoops - double booking. A fellow resident suggest I ask at the Youth Hostel along the road. Huh? The connection between a global reinsurance company and a YH is not obvious but the latter seem to be providing facilities management for the former's apartments. The YH sorted me out with an alternative room in the apartments albeit with a damp carpet and a de-humidifier chugging away.

The next morning it was my turn to be surprised as someone opened the door to my room around 06:30 am. In response to my cheery "Good Morning" I got a mild German expletive and a rapid retreat. By the time I was up, washed and dressed an admin person appeared and gave me the keys to my intended apartment so now all is sorted.

BTW the Youth Hostel was most impressive - much smarter than many hotels I have stayed in.

* From Rochdale To Ocho Rios by 10cc

Monday, July 12, 2004

Carol Galashan selected as reserve for British Olympics squad

The reason Mary's mum, May, is visiting us for a long weekend (apart from seeing us of course) is her twin grand-daughters Carol and Helen Galashan. They were competing in a British Gymnastics competition in Guildford over the weekend. Is is also a qualifying event for the Olympics selection process. Helen would have been a strong contender but for a back injury earlier in the year.

We managed to get the very last ticket for the Sunday for May (must have been a return!). We took her up yesterday, dropped her off and went to have lunch with my folks in Farnham. Then back to collect May and hear the announcement of the squad. And they got a result, Carol is one of two reserves so she gets to go to Athens and, in the event one of the squad has to pull out, she may even get to compete in the Olympics.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

I guess I shoulda known by the way u sliced your toast sideways

When growing up it is easy to assume that everyone does it (whatever "it" may be) the way it is done in your family.

In my childhood we drank tea out of mugs. We may well have had cups and saucers but I do not remember using them. Long after I left home and found my way in the big, wide world I would regularly find that I had put my cup down on the table. I would then hurriedly replace it on the saucer before anyone noticed.

Similarly with toast. Either eaten whole or, if cut, sliced horizontally into two rectangles. When I started staying in hotels I assumed that diagonally sliced toast was some kind of catering affectation. It is much harder to spread the butter and marmalade into the triangular point than the rectangular corner.

Then I met our friend Kate who I think of as a bit "county" and she cuts diagonally thus reinforcing my sense of being lower middle class. Horizontal slicing is obviously Non-U.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Blows against the Ego

A while back I mentally composed but never posted an entry entitled Shouting in a Bucket Blues on the topic of "is there anyone out there reading this stuff I am writing?". But then decided I would not post explicitly on the blogging process.

However, thanks to, I now know the answer to this question and so have decided to break my own rule and share with you. Many hits come from bloggers courtesy of the various directories, blog rolls and rings.

However as many come from Google, specifically people searching on some variant of "three old ladies locked in the lavatory" or "we dont have to take our clothes off". And I thought it was my deathless prose style and wry observations on life in the slow lane. Oh well :-(

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head *

Well it has been a dull couple of days. No work this week so I have been catching up on my paperwork and doing various domestic bits and bobs. Got my laptop back from HP and all seems well. Had visits from Asher, the gardener, and Chris, the window cleaner. Tomorrow it is a visit from Sylvie, the cleaner, take the cats to the vet and collect Mary's mum from Bournemouth airport.

Went to collect a couple of Oddbins parcels from the Amtrak depot in Christchurch. On the way back popped into Ringwood and it started to rain. I cannot help noticing how people hunch down and cringe from the rain. Doesn't stop you getting wet. Personally, I hold my head up high and get wet with pride.

 * by Burt Bacharach

Monday, July 05, 2004

I guess I shoulda known by the way u parked your car sideways *

Italians do not so much park their cars as abandon them. If there is not enough room to parallel park then they just drive in at an angle and leave their car with its rear end sticking out into the road.

Standing outside the Banco di Credito Cooperativo di Locorotondo branch in Cisternino waiting for Pietro we saw, in the the space of 15 minutes:
 * parking in the "do not park here" zone immediately outside the bank
 * parking in the disabled space adjacent to that
 * reversing the wrong way into the one way street opposite
 * parking in a side street completely blocking it
 * and, of course, the afore-mentioned rakish angle parking

 * Little Red Corvette by TAFKA Prince