Friday, September 29, 2006

Life as a soap character

Watching soaps on the telly drives me mental even though I tell myself "It isn't real, they are only actors". The characters on EastEnders are textbook examples of dysfunctional behaviour. If you want to live your lives like them here are a few simple rules for dishonest communication:

Is anything wrong? When asked this reply, "No, I'm fine" in a very unconvincing, flat tone of voice.
Is everything OK? When asked this reply, "Yes, great" in a very unconvincing, flat tone of voice.
Be oblivious to tone. Ignore all body language, intonation and facial expression that might indicate unhappiness, distress or concern.
Never question or challenge. Take an unconvincing answer at face value. Do not ask "Are you sure?" Do not seek explanations. Do not ask why someone behaved as they did.
Talk with a sarcastic tone. Ensure that you are sarcastic as much as possible. Snide is good.
Do not acknowledge apologies. When on the receiving end of an apology respond grumpily by repeating the original complaint. When making the apology immediately respond to the rebuff by abandoning any attempt at reconcilation and have a heated exchange.
Always interrupt. Do not allow the other people to complete their exposition.
I've got something to tell you. When you hear this do not listen attentively, instead interrupt with some piece of trivia, preferably one that "pulls the rug from under" the other's news.
Assume the worst. If you see or overhear something put the worst possible interpretation on people's motivations.
Believe malicious gossip. On hearing an unpleasant report or unkind hearsay about a friend or loved one assume it is true.
Organise surprises. Do not consider the plans, wishes, aspirations and likely response of the 'surprisee'.

If no specfic rules apply to a particular situation apply these two basic principles:

 • Deny the truth
 • Never establish the facts

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

KGS Class of 71 Reunion (24 September 2006)

At the "New Varsity" pub just outside the Warwick University Campus on the Gibbet Hill Road (post code CV4 7AJ), 12:00 - 16:00.

Bill Nealon
Craig Horner
Christine Horner (nee Hills)
David Botterill
Deborah Collett
Diana Jones (nee Gibson)
Dilys Shepherd (nee Crumpton)
Lesley Moseley (nee Fletcher)
Mark McLellan
Martin Haswell
Mary Plimmer (nee Cameron)
Michael Todd
Nigel Mykura
Ross Beadle
Sue Mykura (nee Lamb)

KGS main building
KGS main building

KGS entrance
KGS entrance

KGS main building

KGS main building
Nigel, Sue

KGS main building
Diana, Nigel, Sue

KGS main building
Mick, Deborah, Diana, Lesley, Martin, Ross

KGS main building
Nigel, Christine, Craig, Sue

KGS main building
Nigel, Lesley, Christine

See also Reunion 2001 photos

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Pre-Op Questionnaire

Dad and I have both had hernia repairs. His was within the lifetime of this blog but I spared the world that particular news item. As Dad said - tongue in cheek - "Now we have something in common". Of course he pointed out in a spirit of one-upmanship that *his* was a double hernia.

When I came to fill in the pre-op questionnaire I put my religion as "Jedi" (see "In the UK 390,000 Jedis there are"). Unfortunately the drop-down list in the system did not include that selection so I had to go down as "Other" presumably along with Druids, White witches and Fans of Paris Hilton.

When Dad completed his form and got to the question on existing medication he had to wrote "None". He isn't being prescribed anything at all whilst many of his contemporaries rattle like castanets (or is it maracas?). Considering he was 79 at the time he is pretty d**n healthy. I only hope I inherit his constitution along with his hernia!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Quince Cheese

There is a box of UHT milk portions in our office kitchen bearing the legend "Allergy advice: contains milk". I should hope so too! I suppose they have to be explicit lest some idiot thinks that cocoa butter or quince cheese contain joos o' the coo.

On Saturday we were down at the cottage and harvested about six kilo (13 lb) of quince and half a wheelbarrow of Bramley apples. On Sunday, while I was at a KGS reunion, Mary was at home making Quince cheese. For the first tranche she followed a recipe from The Silver Spoon.

This classic Italian cookbook is the culinary bible in most Italian homes and is a popular wedding gift. Presumably from the MIL so that her darling son does not starve to death at the hands of DIL. When it came out in English Mary asked me to buy her a present of the original Italian version the better to improve her Italian.

Quince Cheese and Quince Jelly

Halfway through the first batch she realised that it was in fact a recipe for quince Jelly so she completed that and switched to the River Cafe Cook Book for the second batch. The jelly is a beautiful golden orange colour; I had some on my toast this morning and it was delicious.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Birthday celebrations

Yesterday was my 54th birthday so Mary and I went for a very tasty meal at Alistair Little's Restaurant in Frith Street then toddled two doors along to Ronnie Scott's where we saw Ambulance, featuring Eddie Henderson, while we supped our way through a bottle of Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque. A very pleasant way to celebrate.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The bedroom that fell down

Our bedroom is in the trulli that fell down (see "It fell down..."). Previously the cone was "blind". We took the opportunity to rebuild it with a window, albeit a small one, to be in keeping with the rest of the property. Given that wall is over three foot thick (1.20 meter to be exact) it is more like looking out of a square porthole.

Mark and Mary's bedroom in the Lamia House

The door between it and the front cone is small and arched so Daniele designed a two part door. The panels are glass so our friend Lynn made curtains for us for all of the lamia doors.

Door between back bedroom and front sitting room

Since our last visit some wild beast (well I am assuming a local dog) ran all over the nice, white pizza oven roof with muddy paws, then up the stairs to the roof of the Lamia, peered over one parapet, trotted over to the other side, peered over that, repeated for a third side and then off again.

Paw prints on the Pizza oven roof

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Purple like an aubergine

Or eggplant as Americans call it (though any resemblance to an egg is pretty farfetched to my eye).

My natural decorum and good taste *cough* plus the fact that Mary checks this blog regularly for egregious errors of fact means that I have not been able to document my post-operative condition as luridly as I might have otherwise have wished. The safest thing is quote from the informative leaflet the hospital gave me.

"Risks. For a hernia repair these include: bruising - there is a risk of bruising around the operation site. But some patients may develop quite dramatic bruising and swelling, which in men can extend to ... [Ed. That quite enough thank you!]"

On the Friday before we left for Italy I went back to the nurse who did a conjuring trick and proceeded to pull a foot long piece of what looked like fishing line out of my groin. A most odd sensation. It appears that dissolving stitches are for the inner layers only. She pronounced the scar as healing nicely and off I went with a packet of anti-inflammatory Nurofen.

Two weeks of relaxation in Italy means I am well on the way to full recovery although the residual tenderness may mean that an exhibition of Russian Cossack dancing may yet be some way off.

Metre out of order

So said the scrap of cardboard on Waterloo Bridge. Presumably written by a motorist about a parking meter to deflect the wrath of a traffic warden. Unless of course they really were complaining about some poetic dysfunction. "Officer this verse just won't scan. Its iambic pentameter is all bent out of shape."

Monday, September 18, 2006

Lamia House so nearly finished

We always had it in mind that the Trulli House would be for renting out and the Lamia House would be ours to live in. The Trulli House has been habitable since last Septmber (see "Puglian Diary") but the Lamia House has been lagging behind. Now we are well and truly moved in.

We arrived Saturday and on the Sunday moved our bed from one house to the other and so spent our first night in the "new" house. Over the course of the following two weeks we took delivery of another bed to replace the one we moved, a dining table and chairs, a day bed (with truckle bed beneath) and a blanket box.

[click image for larger version]

The big excitement was the joiners finally fitting the kitchen cupboards they were due to install back in June/July. A few hiccups like the door for the fitted fridge was a single piece but we have a fridge/freezer. An animated discussion between architect and joiner ensued; the door went away and a two separate doors returned.

[click image for larger version]

The hot water system was playing up so our guests had a number of cold showers but by the time we left, and after numerous visits from Ignazio the engineer, we seem to have it fixed. Now we are down to a final snagging list (US: punch list) to make the whole thing complete.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Off to Puglia for two weeks

We fly out tomorrow, back on the 16th September. So this will probably be my last post until we return. This time we have persuaded our friends Bob&Lynn to join us for a week and our friend Andrea for about five days. I am looking forward to showing them round and introducing them to our favourite restaurants and local wines. Until then.

Toodle-pip old beans!

Just checked out the weather forcast for Cisternino and it is 29°C and sunny all the way. Cue song... "The sun has got his hat on. Hip, hip, hip, hooray"

Bourdeaux 2005 En Primeur

On Tuesday evening we went to a BBR En Primeur tasting and tried 49 out of the 74 wines on show. Mostly the wines were presented in pairs, the 2005 en primeur and a recent vintage (pretty evenly spread over the 2001 through to 2004 vintages).

Interesting to compare the wine in its "raw" state with an officially released bottle. Trying to image how the 2005 will evolve is beyond my palette even with the recent vintage to contrast with. So I took it more in the educational sense of tasting wines I would never otherwise buy nor get to taste including a number of classed growths.

We got chatting to Max the saleman account manager who keeps sending Mary wicked, tempting emails of wines to buy. And so often she succumbs but, it has to be said, to my benefit as well. "Who *are* all these people?" I wanted to know. Many of them looked like old money, city types: merchant bankers, brokers, barristers, and such like in the uniform of pinstripe suit. Plus a few who looked like landed gentry. And a few normals like us.

He did reveal that those present were all invited, account holders only. Some like us spend a few thousand pounds a year, some spend up to 15 million! Too late for a career switch methinks?