Rita, The Fur Coat and a Gin Sling

Comments 18 Standard

I have just been watching the dolphins again and trying to get some photos of them.  Crafty creatures see me trying to snap them and hurtle down under the waves.  I am pleased in any event as I thought they had swum away…..

Some of you will remember Rita, my rather lovely, but totally eccentric,  friend who lived across the road from me and used to offer me a Gin Sling mid morning. This was her idea of Elevenses!  Having sadly had a stroke and ended up being sent to a Warden Assisted Apartment, I don’t see her as often as I would like and ” life on the street” is not so exciting.   So I ventured to take myself off to deepest Suburbia and visit her in Horsham!  I know, I know, some things shouldn’t be admitted in print  but there you are! I do know where Horsham is, but I promise I only visit out of necessity.  Lets keep it between ourselves, eh?

So off I went to visit Rita, armed with some biscuits ( Waitrose of course, as she told me once she didn’t eat Value Biscuits or anything like them) and a very nice pot plant.  In truth I hadn’t seen her for some months and felt somewhat guilty, so I added a bottle of Sicilian Lemon Gin into the basket and felt rather vindicated.    The place where she now lives is very nice and I mentally made a note that if I ended up somewhere like this, it wouldn’t be the end of my life.  Okay, I don’t want to be there anytime soon, but Rest Homes have certainly come on a long way in the past twenty years.

Having had to sign in; have a retina scan and offer proof of ID whilst they took my fingerprints, Rita was finally summoned.

” We cant be too careful with the welfare and safety of our guests now can we?”  the rather stern receptionist told me before she let me through the door.

I had told Rita I would be there at 10am and it was now just after eleven.  I guess you could say I was fashionably ” en retard”  but I just didn’t want to be hanging around on such a lovely day and by now, I felt that she should surely be ready.  Rita’s idea of time-keeping is somewhat like the Spanish…..  but there I was at just gone 11 o clock, drumming my fingernails and feeling tense.  When she finally  arrived, she was wearing a coat done up to the neck, and a fur one at that.   Readers, you may recall that the summer the UK enjoyed these past few months, with temperatures barely dipping below 30 degrees, Rita appearing in a full length sable fur coat is somewhat of an oxymoron.  Hell – I think I started to sweat just looking at her….

Rita immediately told me what she had to do in the Town and to make it snappy as she had to be back for a lunch date with ” the Captain!”  Yes it would appear that Rita had already made somewhat of a splash at the Wednesday Tea Dances and had two or three suitable ( when Rita says ” suitable” she really means ” wealthy” ) suitors wanting to share lunch with her in the communal dining room.  This also saves Rita cooking any meals, because cooking and Rita are not a natural synergy.    We approach my car and Rita sits in the back.  ” Rita, wouldn’t you like to sit with me in the front? Its easier to chat!”

” No dear, I get a better view from her” and she plonked herself in and shut the door with a determined slam.   ” Air con.  Air Con.  Can you put the air con on, its quite warm in here”

” Well I can, but how about taking your coat off ?”

” Oh, I cant, dear. I haven’t anything on underneath.  You were a bit early and I wasn’t ready, so I just pulled on my longest coat” and her eyes focused on the Air Con button.  Torn between a rock and a hard place comes to mind.  I either had to let Rita fry in her fur coat and possibly expire permanently if I didn’t put the air con on, or I had to freeze my chops off if I did. I decided to open a window and see if that struck a happy medium

” Can you close the window, as its blowing my hair around”  and indeed, Rita’s platinum blonde confection, perched on her head like a cottage loaf had already started to come undone around the edges.  The arrival at the supermarket was not a second too soon!

” Here’s my list.  I can wait in the car.” and with that I was dispensed to the Trolley Park, whilst Rita snuggled down in the back and took a nap!  I was longer than I anticipated on account of not being able to read Rita’s handwriting too easily and that some of the things she asked for ( blue bag?) had gone out of production twenty years since.  The funniest thing on the list was a jar of Earth Mama Bottom Balm, but politeness prevented me asking her what she used it for!

I arrived back at the car to find Rita had indeed fallen asleep and was gently purring in the sun.  Her (fur) coat was still done up to her neck but before dropping off she had opened the Sicilian Lemon Gin and made her way through at least a quarter of it.  ( I could see this because it was still being clutched by her and was balanced precariously on the arm rest)   I could feel my blood boiling and it wasn’t only because of the unusual summer temperatures.

” Rita! Rita!  Wake up… I am back”   and with that she opened one eye.  Looked at me squarely and holding up the open Gin bottle said ” Drinkie, Darling?  Little Drinkie, before we go home?”

Its fair to say that Rita was well and truly, ” back in the room!”

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Sarka and the Weetabix

Comments 7 Standard

I am doing quite well on my own and work is keeping me busy. I run between being childishly excited about the building works and lying awake at night in a cold sweat. When I discussed this with Farhad the other day, he told me that it was my age and that old woman are prone to an attack of the vapours!  I am not saying I actually bristled, but I did wonder why everyone keeps saying I am getting old.   As it happens, he is only 6 months younger than me, so hardly room to complain.   He is a great bloke for political debates, even if he calls all the Iranian Government officials, ” Mullahs and Towelheads”

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Darling Farhad, my Political Advocate.

During the last heavy downpour and in one of my more confident moments, I heard a knock on the door and went to open it.  Standing before me was our lovely Czech Agent who had turned up unannounced.

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Wet Sarka – even the dog didnt recognise her…

She was soaked from head to toe but it didn’t seem to damper her enthusiasm at all.  ( This was, after all, a woman who had bought a house in Prague during the Velvet Revolution when she was only 18 and went on to make shed loads of money when the Czech Repubblic stuck its head up over the European Parapets and said ” I want some of that” ) I wasn’t sure why she would do a visit without telling me but it would appear it was only a flying visit and she wanted to get some Weetabix.  She had, she said run out and couldnt bear to start her week without her daily four Weetabix.  I kid you not.  By the way if you note the suitcase she had with her, I want to let you know that the case was empty.  Nothing in it.  As you can guess, it didnt return home that way

Apparently, although there is a Tesco in Liberec as well as Prague, for some reason, completely unfathomable to her, they have stopped selling Weetabix.  So taking the opportunity of a cheap flight she has headed over here to stock up on that and BBQ flavoured crisps.  Added to that she likes to buy packs of Minstrels and Doritos.  Apparently she gives them out to the children during lessons when they have done well.  If she keeps on giving out the fat and carbs then they will very soon all be as well covered as her.  She wont listen though and insists that it is very important her charges keep their energy up whilst studying.

During the summer she bought a little group to our Summer School; offered to be one of our Activity Leaders

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( can you guess which one she is from the picture) and when we were doing a Workshop at The Globe ( no less) she interrupted the Guide and started giving out Krispy Kreme donuts.  When the guide, who was also running the Midsummer Nights Dream Workshop, at no cheap rate let me tell you, gently asked her to refrain from giving out sugary buns on Shakespeare revered stage, she simply turned around the popped one in his mouth saying that if he took more sugar, he would probably be less grumpy!  The floor was silenced….

Anyway back to current mode.  She told me she wasn’t stopping as she was only en route to see one of our friends.  We had gone to Prague at Easter to see her and enjoy the Ribbon Whipping   ( dont ask just google it!)  but ended up taking a short cut home across the mountains.  A quick jump from step to step and our friend, Marina, fell and broke both ankles.  Not only were we all stranded on the mountainside, where we had gone to admire the view as well as try to get to the Pub by opening time, but we could not get the ambulance to plough its way up the side like a mountain goat. The signal was scarce that high up and nighttime was pulling in.  Not many people were wandering by and so we decided that we simply had to carry her down the hill.  Even though Marina is only 5ft tall she isn’t a lightweight and four of us ended up carrying her down the hill as much as we could.  When we couldnt carry her, we dragged her and after that we just drew breath and started it all again. We eventually got to the side of the road to find the Ambulance parked up and the Para Medics having a fag with two of the locals.  They watched us drag her down to the side of the road and then approached.  The first words they uttered were ” Insurance” and even though we are all in the EU there was no way on Gods’ earth, Easter Day or not, that they were going to attend to her until they had seen her private medical insurance.  Poor old Marina, with broken and swollen ankles and having to rummage in her handbag and try to find the Medical cover.  Once found the Para Medics discussed it; inspected it; translated it and finally picked her up and plonked her into the ambulance.  With a brief inspection they closed the door and was off with her to heaven knows where and left us all looking slightly perplexed on the side of the road.

She ended up having an operation that night.  Very satisfactory so she reported and even had a private room.  Although fair to say, even if the room was private it still  reminded me of a Cell, as the hospital used to be an Asylum.  I rest my case….

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Marina, eating her meal which she declared ” beats NHS meals any time!”

Marina is now home and on the road to recovery.  She told me, she wont be going away with me anytime soon… as if the whole thing was my fault.  Ungrateful wretch…

And speaking of ungrateful wretches, Irma, the Panamanian who used to be in love with both Mr Wu ( remember him?) and Farhad is still not speaking to me.  I think its currently about 18 months.  She has blocked me on WhatsAp and email.  Stupid woman….  Latins.  You just cant trust them a bit.

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Irma, in New York, when she was speaking to me

Not welcome in the street….

Comments 29 Standard

It’s been an interesting few months and during that time I seem to have gained a cuckoo.  I speak metaphorically, of course.

Yes although LM declared his interest to cease our relationship, it would appear it was on a sliding scale.  Almost five months since he mused over his half a grapefruit that “my dreams was not his dreams and he would be moving on,” the cuckoo is still very much in residence.

Having told the golfing buddies that he would go one way and me the other when I sold my house, he followed me to my new temporary residence and remains here as I write. Now of course without going into too much detail,  (yes I know a first for me) he lives the life of a partnership but without the “after lights out” perks!!.  It was his decision to decamp to the spare room all those months ago and even in the new abode this is where he stays.  I gently broached the subject the other night as to when his new life would start and he said that he had not had time to look for a new property.  After all, what with playing golf three times a week; Poker on a Wednesday night and the start of the new Football Season, he does remain a little short on time, wouldn’t you all agree?

Meanwhile I am ploughing on with the new house ideas and planning has finally gone through.  It seems to have taken a long time and in the meantime, having bought a caravan and plonked it squarely in the front garden you can imagine that it has already inflamed the views of the Net Twitchers.  Even though I checked with the Planning Department and the Local Councillor, I already have heard voices of discontent.  Some also are not pleased with the new building and declared it another one of those ” glass boxes”  which is in effect an accurate description of it on one side, but then it is the rising theme along the road.

The ex Emirates Pilot and his Misses who live across the road, initially declared it              ” lovely” and “super news” that I was moving into my Dad’s house and that I must come to the annual August Get Together so that I can be introduced properly.  Having heard nothing for a couple of weeks from them, I returned home one afternoon to see that they had  done a 180 degree turn and dis invited me.  I know this because there was a selection of 4 x 4 and vintage Jags blocking the road and a loud variation of types of cackles from elderly over made up Matrons. I could see that House of Fraser had a run on tea dresses and that most of them seemed to have turned up across the road.  So , I guess I can safely assume that no more will they knock on the door and ask me over for Pimms ( reminiscent of Rita from long ago) or mention the Get Together where they can introduce me to neighbours  ( most of whom I already know, but lets forget that) and so I am beginning to feel persona non grata.

Even swimming has taken on a whole new meaning and I now escape before breakfast and before anyone else gets up and wander across the shingle.  In any event, I rather like swimming alone with no one to chat to or think of.  Truth be told I don’t really care.  The weather has been delicious and I have enjoyed this early morning solitary swim.

Best of all, the very best of all, is that there have been dolphins off the coast and we have looked out of the window and seen them.  I have also bought a rather lovely, but very long, paddle board and taken to paddle boarding either alone or with the boys at the weekends.  Dolphin spotting, of course.

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Finally, I have found out that Florrie Ford used to live on this very site and the Musical Variety Society or something similar have asked if they can put a plaque outside the new house.  Or should that be the new Glass Box?.

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Who is Florrie Ford, I hear you say, well if you dont remember her, you will remember her songs.  Rumour has it that the house she lived in here was one of ” ill repute” and whilst I wont be mirroring that particular part of her lifestyle it is rather fun that the site was one for holding “social occasions” which is exactly what I want to recreate when the building is complete.

Meanwhile, as people are complaining about the short term parking of the caravan in the front garden, I thought I thought I would really give them something to moan about and have just ordered a life size papier mache Freshian cow to stand beside the pond.  I am sure that will go down well with them as they stroll past the front garden craning their necks to see what else is occurring.

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Luckily I didn’t need planning permission for it.  Mooooooo

 

Its my dream, not his and LM moves out..

Comments 20 Standard

It would appear, dear Readers, that LM wont be proposing to me anytime soon.  He has, in fact, decided to move out, so I shall cease the amount of days that I have been counting since we met and realise that fate has once again dealt me a crushing blow.

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I am not entirely sure what was the final card ” we” dealt but suffice to say that he has decided to kip in the spare room now for 10 days and although he still puts his washing in the wash bin and uses ” our bathroom”, there seems to be no thawing.

It seems to be coupled with the fact that I had a dream which I wrongly assumed to be his also, but in fact it wasn’t.  As Number Two Son said, rather sagely, ” Mum, its our dream, not his!” and I take this as a small bit of comfort that the next part of my journey will be without him.

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The dream I have is to remodel my Dad’s house on the beach.  It was an undertaking that I would have preferred to have taken with LM but as he isn’t about, I shall galvanise myself and do it alone.  As The Pilot said whilst communicating with me recently from Lusaka ( where he currently lives with his wife ! ) , ” Nanooka, take a deep breath; wipe your sword and move forward.  You are stronger than you think!” and with this printed off and stuck to the front of my PC I am, indeed, moving on.

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Its certainly not a trip for the faint hearted.  I have sold my house and will have to either camp in a caravan on site for six months or rent somewhere.  Personally, I would prefer camping out on site, but the Architect says he would prefer NOT to have me there, because apart from the Builders having to work around me, they also don’t want to be responsible for losing any chickens; cats or dogs.   So I will be relegated to renting a home for a few months and planning my future.

I see me growing old disgracefully; drinking a Gin Sling on the Balcony and throwing stones at the passerbys. I am obviously destined to be single; batty and have a house full of animals and not men, but  with a wonderful view of the Channel and the twinkly Wind Farms, what’s not to like?  It will be ” The House that Jack, (re) built…)

Its a new adventure and I cant wait….

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Two Beers; a Curry and a fight

Comments 19 Standard

I was very excited about the Curry Evening and felt prepared and even, “in control”.  Then the guests arrived.  I was just in the middle of putting the chickens to bed ( they are lazy and wont put themselves away until I shoo them up their steps to their coop ) when the doorbell rang.  I was still running around with rollers in my hair and my dressing gown.  I had showered though.  Bonus in everything. Something! Well, nothing, as it would later appear…

David had turned up early and as he undid his scarf and coat told me he didn’t want a Curry.  Bit late to tell me after I had slaved over the Hob all day making 3 of the dammed things.  I took his coat and left him standing in the hallway.  I was a bit hacked off already.

Next through the door, and still before the allotted time for Bombay Blasters was Jon.  Jon and Murielle have just sold their house and are relocating to France.  I wasn’t sure if he thought it a blessing or not, as Jon is very hard to read.   He Is actually very well read but hides it well.  He prefers to be the contentious one at the party. A real Agent Provocateur!  He is also an Anarchist, which doesn’t go down well with David.  Local Councillor.  Or Bill and Jenny, who I love to death but are  straight out of The Shires and adore all things royal.  I allow them to choose their seats, rather than get involved.  Jon also drives a Jag. so the socialist bit of his Anarchic life style falls down.  I think he has little man syndrome.  Small man. Big Car. ‘Nuff said. Jon was obviously having a slow moment.  He likes to be contentious and he was.   Sitting quietly at the top end of the table, he learned across and said in a huge stage whisper ” are you still sexually active?” to Maria, the Portuguese neighbour.  I wasn’t sure whether she was going to laugh; have a heart attack or a case of the vapours, so I decided to serve the curry.

Bill and Jenny are very pleasant.  Very pleasant indeed.  Think ” rich and pleasant land” and country fetes and you have them, all tied up in a red check bow from Laura Ashley or Bodens.  Bill plays Golf with LM at the local ( Bull shit) Golf Club.  Jenny goes to Yoga and the Book Club unless it conflicts with the Bridge Night as, it would appear, it often does.  Its all very Middle England.  I just observe.  I shouldn’t snipe, I am probably just jealous.  A social Interloper.  I don’t quite cut it at the Golf Club and cant play Bridge or Poker.  No hope for me, obviously….

Anyway, it seemed to go down pretty well.  An odd amalgam of Peeps; plenty of red wine and some gentle bantering.  Then the Brexit question.   Of course, I voted out and still do.  It may be a rough patch we will sail through but like everything else, there is always an end to it.  I know it will be fine in the end, and if it isn’t fine, then it isn’t the end ( I nicked that from the Exotic Marigold Hotel before someone accuses me of plagiarism )

Jon didn’t want Brexit.  Bill and Jenny did.  The Portuguese Lady whose sexual activities were questioned over the chicken Jalfrezi naturally, didn’t want to go home.  After all, why should she as she seems to have a very nice home and a UK Pension.  How the heck did that happen?

I admit I was in the kitchen warming up the Camembert when it all kicked off but before I knew it, there was a shout of ” mind the curry” and ” grab the wine!”.  I hesitated and fiddled with the oven temperature.  What to do? What to do? What to do?

Once I had heard nothing more for at least 30 seconds I ventured the courage to walk back to the dining room.  It was mighty quiet there.  Bill and Jenny were sitting quietly sipping red wine. God that man can drink!  And fast!  I assumed it was more of a nervous reaction than quenching his thirst.  Murielle was mopping something off Jon’s face.  As it turned out it was curry but for a minute I thought it might be blood and Maria, Portuguese lady with good UK Pension was simply rubbing her hands.  I had missed something, but no one was saying.

So you probably think that the fight ensued when I was in the kitchen.  Not so.. it happened later.  Having a few spiky remarks made during the meal, the battle lines were drawn and Maria; Jon and Bill&Jenny began eyeing the exit nervously. Murielle didn’t eye anything.  She seemed to be blissfully unaware of anything.  Wonderful state of life to be in, that’s for sure.   The conversation which had started off so well became very limp and forced down one end of the table and very controversial down the other.  I sat, quietly, in the middle, rather like being at a tennis match.  Looking at one end of the Court and then the other.

Finally, and yes it had become a long evening, they took to leaving.  Once one person stood up.  In this case, Dave, the Local Councillor, everyone stood up.  ” Anyone want a lift home?” he enquired.  Eying up Jon who, Dave considered, would only act that way under the influence.    In any event, it didn’t matter as Murielle was driving.

So I was not quite sure how it happened but somewhere along the line, Murielle got into the Jag. Now whether it was excitement to leave the curry night or needing to escape an embarrassing moment I am not sure,  but she did what many did in her age range do and that is, mistook the first gear for reverse and having pressed foot to metal in no uncertain fashion she took with her firstly, my flowing shrub; secondly LM’s wing mirror on his ” toy” and thirdly the rear bumper of Bill’s new Audi.    As always in moments like this, we draw breath and wonder who will blink first.  In this case, it was Bill who wrenched open the door on Murielle’s side and shouted across her to Jon, who by that time seemed to be having difficulty in breathing and I wondered whether a call to 911 would be on the cards.  After all, he is 73!

” Why are you driving a Jag when you are a sodding Socialist?” seemed to be the question of the moment and not ” can I see your Insurance and have you seen the damage?”

Murielle by now had had an attack of the vapours and Jenny was using her old nursing skills and kept asking her to drop her head between her knees to save from fainting.  Not an easy feat when you have the steering wheel to negotiate before your head can drop neatly through your knees.  Still Jenny managed it with coaxing and pressure, although I did wonder if Murielle’s head would ever have the same flexibility again……

I looked at LM.  He sighed… ” I’m off to bed.  Let them sort it out” and with that he turned and shut the front door with a very determined hand.

  • To be continued…..( after clearing it with the Lawyers for Libel!)

 

 

Sibuyisela Ulwazi

Comments 3 Standard

Such am amazing project to get involved in – and we will!

Mpophomeni Conservation Group

Mnandi was honoured to be invited to participate in the Biowatch SA Siybuyisela ulwazi Food and Seed Festival last week.   We sold many recipe books, made great connections, shared stories and seeds, and learnt a lot.  Biowatch SA organised the festival to celebrate the diversity of our indigenous and traditional seed and food cultures, exchange knowledge and ideas and explore innovations in support of food sovereignity, social and environmental justice.

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Presentations about all the things we are passionate about were by inspiring and knowledgeable people. There were talks of seed and African spirituality, the Food Price barometer, GMOs, Climate Smart Agriculture (not so smart), the benefits of fermentation, Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, beautiful music made from the humble calabash and a myriad of food activists to connect with.   Legendary Permaculturalist John Nzira asked “What is the difference between seeds and money?”  Amongst all these seed savers and defenders…

View original post 1,563 more words

An Indian Stand off….

Comments 7 Standard

Its not going very well with the dress code for the Curry Supper.  I had agreed with the local Indian Restaurant for them to prepare several exquisite curries for us and also for some of their staff to serve it.  I really wanted to embrace the evening and get into character but the Manager refuses to play ball.

Originally he said he could send staff around to serve it as he was slightly over his man power quota and there were a few extra sleeping upstairs looking for work.  If I could agree to pay them, under the table, so to speak, I could have as many as I liked.  It seems that some personnel had come in, not under the table, but under the radar, and this is probably why he is happy for me to offer them some work whilst they await a knock from the Home Office.  Be assured, it will come one day….  ( the knock from the Home Office, not work from me!)

After discussing the Menu, we returned to the thorny question of the ( staff) dress code and I could see he wasn’t altogether happy about my asking them to dress up as Indian Moguls, complete with dangling daggers ( good literation there, ) and turbans.   I noticed him shaking his head over this, but I really wanted the whole evening to be themed and go with a swing.  What’s the point of having a party if you don’t get into character?  I asked him if it was the ruby stone  in the turban which was the “deal breaker”, but he said he just wanted them to turn up in black trousers and white shirts.  Apparently he  doesn’t feel this is the right moment to draw attention to quite how many of them are living about the Bengal Tiger Indian Restaurant!

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I admit to being very disappointed and cant understand it.  The last time I had a Christmas Curry Luncheon was when I was in Curacao.  I was lucky enough at that time not to be working particularly hard and had time on my hands, so my imagination could run free and it did!  It was also when I used to have access to the Pilot’s Emergency Credit Card.  (Now, obviously, a dim and distant memory. )

Anyway, I had the very novel idea that a group of gospel singers standing on the staircase greeting guests and singing Christmas Carols would be a great way to break the ice.  The local gospel choir were more than happy to oblige and even when I asked them to wear bright cassocks, with white surplus and a regal neck ruff, there wasn’t a peep from them.

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So much so, that it was rather the highlight of the night. A group of ten gospel singers welcoming the guests as they came through the door and  I really don’t understand why the Indian Restaurant cant oblige and do the same .   As they say, ” there’s nowt as queer as folk”

Talking of queer folk, I am also having to badger LM to get on with The Empire Quiz.  I told him that it had to relate to “our Empire”, but he wanted specifics and asked for a Time Frame.  I guess its no good raising questions on Rhodesia and Uganda, if the era he is looking at is post 1974.  By then of course we didn’t have much Empire left so the questions will be pretty few and far between.  I also had to remind him that questions about Arsenal, even though there were about during the Empire, would not be allowed and neither would anything on Golf either.  he had a bit of a sulk and said he couldn’t find questions on Aden or Egypt and would it be ok if they were all based arund New Zealand.  For some reason he isn’t getting into the mood with this Curry Night and I fear it will all be a bit of a damp squid.

Finally, we have just returned from our neighbours lunch do, where a very strange woman came up to me and said that Mrs C ( the sacked cleaner) wasn’t at all happy with me and would be seeking me out early next week. I wasn’t taking too much notice of this woman because I had previously overheard her holding Court on the fact that she takes her dog, ” Dolly” to agility classes each week.  When someone asked her ” why?” – she said she wanted to stimulate Dolly and thought this was great fun for both her and Dolly.  Fuck me!  In my day you only needed to stimulate the kids, not the bloody pets as well and before we know it, they will be taking fish for counselling on account of their water wasn’t changed every seven days or the temperate was slightly too cold for warm water fish.   So I thanked her and smiled at the ” heads up” about Mrs C and continued nibbling my olive and sun dried tomato on a stick which I reckon to be the 21st century equivalent of pineapple and cheese.

I don’t know how I have gone from Hero to Zero in the matter of time it takes you to “Jif ” up the bath, but there you are…..

Update!     It is now 201 weeks and 5 days since I met LM and no marriage proposal has been forthcoming yet!  Just saying…… ( and still counting, obviously!)

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