Wine with fattening stuff.

We’re back!

Me and the wine, that is. This is very good. What isn’t so good is that it also came with pasta and a rather too-strong sauce. And A. The pasta with the too-strong sauce isn’t really (well, actually, not at all) part of the wine diet. The wine diet relies on distinctly less food or, preferably, no food. This has two benefits: a) you get drunk quicker and so drink less wine and b) you don’t eat anything which will, invariably, make you fatter.

So the pasta didn’t help.

I think A was a bit upset with my post about the Mars bars. He doesn’t let it drop. Now when he says the funniest things, I am sure he is checking my reaction. If my reaction is favourable it’s OK. If not then he tells me that he only says it to wind me up. I’m not sure that I entirely believe that.

Last night, we were very successful with the wine diet part. We drank a whole bottle of wine. And he was very nice about the pasta sauce. However, I think it was too strong. Sometimes, less is more. This was too rich. Still, it was OK. It wasn’t like it was inedible, which is good although not good for the diet. Luckily, he can eat and so most of the pasta went to him.

I knew I could invite him round as I knew that F would be staying in his own flat last night. I am beginning to understand him. The night before he had been ill. He was up in the night and only came back to bed after I got up. And so, when he told me he was leaving work early to go home, I knew that he wouldn’t be coming to mine and, so, I knew that after my lessons, I could invite A over. But I didn’t want to be late.

You know how it is, you get talking and, suddenly, it’s 10.30 and the dogs need going out and then suddenly it’s 11.30 before you get to bed.

Hmmmpf! So, that was the early night killed. That’s not really good.

On the other hand, as F has decided to stay off work today because he ‘feels like shit’, I will be on my own again tonight and so tonight WILL be an early(er) night.

Tea made richer

Nothing beats a good mug of tea made with the Tetley Round Bags.  I can’t get them here but have to have willing ‘drug mules’ bring them from the UK or go and get them myself.

Well, now, I say that nothing beats it and I would be wrong.  It can be beaten by adding the appropriate biscuit.  It has to be a biscuit that can be dunked.  Therefore we’ll have none of your flaky type of biscuit nor, for me, anything added.  I don’t want bits dropping off or chocolate that is melted by the tea.  I need a biscuit that will go quite soft, quite quickly but remain in one place long enough for it to travel from the mug to my mouth.

For me there is only one type of biscuit that really does the job.

It’s Rich Tea. A boring biscuit to most people, I know but one that perfectly fits the bill.

What I never knew, until now, was that you can even make a cake with them although I’m not sure it would be my wedding cake, even if I were to have more than one!

Fighting with demons

Yes, I’m sure.

It is, almost certainly, the drinking bit that’s the problem. I am British and it is the ‘British disease’ and I have definitely caught this and I need to find the cure.

It’s not that I’m an alcoholic. Far from it. No, I can go for days or maybe even minutes without alcohol.

I jest, of course. About the ‘maybe even minutes’. Did I need to say that? Probably not but I thought I would just in case. You never know who is ‘watching’. I do have ‘lurkers’ on this blog. People who come but never post a comment.

But when they put a bottle of some digestivo on the table and the other people insist on staying and talking, it seems only right to top up my glass. Several times. This is in addition to the two beers. And I didn’t really need the two beers. I just had the second because everyone else was having one. And I’m British, so one has to keep up, doesn’t one? And I should have just stuck with the one glass of the digestivo and then I wouldn’t have had to concentrate on keeping in a straight line for the five minutes it took to walk home. Sometimes, I’m even almost angry with myself.

And when I looked in the mirror this morning, I could see I had that old-age paunch. Part of me doesn’t care and part of me does. And I know it must be the beer. Too much. I should be sticking to my wine diet. I really should. That never made me fat.

Of course, it could be that I’ve reached that time in life and I have become fat because my body says something like ‘OK, well you’ve had it pretty good up to now but did you really think you could continue to eat and drink what you wanted forever? Well, …….. did you?’

And, yes, I kind of did.


And damn the bottle of digestivo too. I bet that didn’t help.

Damn, damn, damn!

Signs; Four or three?

‘Isn’t it usually darker than this?’, I ask myself.

It’s stupid o’clock when almost everyone is still in bed. Well, being Tuesday, not everyone. In fact, the market is already being set up by the stallholders.

But there we were, getting used to the light at this God-forsaken hour and then everything changes. However, it is the signal for me. I long for sandals and T-shirts. I long for heat; real heat when my skin seems to have a permanent ‘slickness’ about it. When we get up and the sun shines and I get home and the sun shines and, even in the middle of the night, it’s just sandals and shorts and T-shirts.

So, in spite of the fact that this is a crazy time to be walking around, I have a certain lightness in my step and I ache for the ‘sandal time’.


I don’t say ‘I’m sure it will be soon’. I’ve been saying it for almost a couple of years. In spite of myself, I am slightly superstitious and I wonder if I shouldn’t say it – just to make sure it doesn’t come true?

The other day we went round to F’s flat for a few minutes. F had bought new toys. As we were in the lift, going up, Rufus got over-excited. In fact, I haven’t seen him this excited for a while. He knew where we were going and he knew it would mean biscuits and treats. He’s not stupid.

He tries to push the lift door open with his head, even as we’re moving upwards. He is desperate to get there. And, sure enough, when we arrive, he has biscuits and treats. The toys he’s not interested in, really. But then, they’re for Dino, really.

The floor, however, is a problem. And he is less steady on his feet. His legs give way and he is there, much like a spatchcocked chicken. I stand at his rear, keeping his back legs close together with my feet and put my hands underneath his all-too-obvious rib cage and lift him up. Within a few moments he is, once again, doing his impression of a parachutist in free-fall. F tries but hasn’t really grasped what I do. I explain and he almost gets it.

It happens a few more times and I decide to go. F can also see that it is difficult for him. Now, I think, there’ll be no stopping at F’s during the night. I did offer on Saturday night, since F did not feel so well but ‘no’ apparently because of Rufus.

Then, as I was on holiday yesterday, last night I had done stuffed pimentos. F had bought them back from Spain and I found a recipe that fills them with a fish stuffing and made some adjustments to fit what I had. It was after we had finished and we sitting drinking some wine and having a cigarette. Rufus did a little whine or two. I stroked him and he stopped whining. Then he got up or, rather, he tried to get up, his paws slipping on my floor, which is not really a slippy floor. But I know it is probably his arthritis playing up a bit. A change in the weather, perhaps?

And that’s when I thought that it wouldn’t be long now. The whimpering a sign of some pain. Not so much but just a little; the getting up made difficult by the stiff joints.

But I don’t want to voice my concerns. F won’t handle this so well, I think. No, it’s better not to say anything. But I wonder if he’ll even make it until Easter, when we all go away? Or if it will just be the three of us?

Maybe it will all be alright again in a day or two. Who knows?

In the night ……… mare

I just can’t tell you about it.

Suffice to say, it was a dream that turned into a nightmare. It was when his face turned towards me. It turned out to be someone else. Someone from the past. It was unexpected. In my dream I tried to distance myself but it wouldn’t work. It was the first time for this dream. I wonder why? Why now? Why did it turn into this nightmare?

So, again, at four, as the night before, I was up.

I went back to bed after about an hour. F was sleeping and, from time to time, snoring. Rufus was sleeping and, from time to time, giving that ‘death rattle’, gasping for breath as if it was to be his last. It’s quite scary, really but I guess he does it most nights, if not, every night.

This morning I had to get up to do the tyres. I wish now I had booked it in for Friday. Friday is going to be beautiful. Ah, well, I’ll have Friday afternoon off instead.

Today, I have been mostly listening to spam.

See this?

In the early in America the Reagan administration of leptin may be effective for losing weight.For instance, each woman needs to take progestin or separate estrogen plus progestin.Eli lilley nolvadex.People suffering from different pill form with practically no muscle.The most commonly perceived stereotypes, in turn to fast food and sweets.Will nolvadex boost sperm count

It’s a part of one of the spam comments I get in the inbox for this blog every day.

That’s what I was listening to this morning.

It was like spam. All the words were English and all were understandable as individuals but, together, it was like listening to spam.

“I believe in communication”, he says. He does too! He talked.

“I think I’m better than everyone”, he could have said. He was, after all, a salesmen. These people, for me, rate almost at the bottom of any pile or any list.

It reminds me of someone else. It’s not a good memory.

I sit looking at this man and watching his mouth move and listening to the words he is saying – individually – but not hearing them for there is no point to them. They’re all business terms. Strung together in the latest business fashion. The ‘why say anything in a straightforward manner when it can be said in a thousand nonsensical words’. Oh, how I HATE it.

He mentioned the fact that he liked to communicate – A LOT. He didn’t have to. I could tell. I was mostly silent. ‘Communicate with that!’, I thought, triumphantly. After a while he realised that it was not me he should be talking to. Good.

We started at the start. He had his luggage stolen in Paris. I wanted to laugh. Is that so wrong of me? Well, yes, it is but I really didn’t care. I couldn’t place his American accent.

He tells me about all the wonderful things he is doing and all the wonderful companies he is/has been involved with. It’s just like when people reel off the number of famous people they have met or the people they have slept with. It’s not really boasting. It’s just ignorant. The problem is that I am, in an instant, seriously unimpressed.

Later he even ‘drops in’ how many hours he has flown because, in his long life, what he hasn’t done isn’t worth the effort. Probably. Do I show the face of someone who doesn’t care? He may be all for communication but he’s crap at reading people. I don’t care.

But I digress. Back to the beginning. After the Paris bit. After the ‘I like my coffee black because that’s the colour of me inside’ (WTF????). After the ‘I like to communicate’ for the first time. He didn’t rate the Germans, apparently. I nearly said ‘Then you haven’t dealt with the Swedes’, but I didn’t. After all, he likes communication so much that he doesn’t allow the other person to communicate and so I didn’t get the chance.

I ask, ‘Whereabouts in the US do you come from because I can’t place your accent?’

‘I’m from Sweden’, he replies.

I thank God that I hadn’t been able to communicate with him prior to this. And then, again, I keep thinking that I wish I had! You never know, it might have got him communicating a little less.

Probably not, though.

To be honest he’s checking us out. The company he is representing is looking for companies for ‘acquisition’. ‘Acquisition’ – it’s a nice word. Better than ‘Buy so we can take your knowledge/expertise’, I suppose. But that’s what they’re after. Whichever way you look at it, I am NOT the right person for this meeting.

At the first opportunity I get out.

After lunch and a cigarette, I catch him about to leave. I shake his hand. ‘Nice to meet you’, I lie. ‘I hope the rest of your trip is less eventful’, I add. It’s OK. He’s not listening to me anyway. He had complained that the French Police hadn’t wanted to know; hadn’t listened to him.

Or, just maybe, he wasn’t listening to them? For me, the greatest and most important thing in the art of communication is to be able to listen. I guess in his long, varied and full life, he’s missed that bit?

Do you think I may, possibly, be a bit peeved?

“I’m sorry, I forgot”.

Well, at least it was honest.

“I’m in Venice, at the dentist, so I can’t come”. Well, obviously, since Venice is several hours away.

“I’ll pay double next time”. He treats it as it should be. I like him. Anyway, unlike Monday night, I had no other plans and no one had invited me anywhere where I had said I couldn’t.

This morning was a slightly different thing, as I had suspected it would be.

“M! And Monday?”

I don’t even speak English correctly anymore. Like last night. It wasn’t ‘film card’ but ‘film star’ and yet I understood what ‘film card’ meant and failed to recognise that, actually, it should have been ‘film star’. I have developed this Italian-non-English way of speaking, mimicking the Italians. It is ever-so-slightly annoying.

He was shocked, in any case, to see me. You could see it in his face. The eyebrows arched and a look that was as if he had seen some alien monster was about to eat him.

The excuse:

“Ah yes, I didn’t have my phone, I left it in x.” I can’t even remember what he said as it wasn’t really important.

“And the reason you didn’t reply to my texts – even the next day? Just to say sorry or something. Anything, really.” I didn’t say this. I just thought it. I’ve already kind of lost interest in anything he might have to say since it’s all bullshit.

“I’ve bought some books yesterday and I’ve started reading them. I’m going to take my exam at the end of May. After I’ve done some studying …….”

“Yeah, call me”, I cut him off with this.

I’m already screaming in my head.




I don’t say that he’s lost that time. I’ll just say that he only has an hour and a half left. Fucking bastard.

It made me more angry that he couldn’t be honest and say he forgot. That would have been better although a reply to my texts (that I had sent on Monday night) on Tuesday morning would have been better still.

Obviously it’s too much to ask.

But it seems stupid to me since we’re bound to see each other at some point and then, instead of already having covered it, you have to come out with bullshit and be quite horrified to see me. What did he think? He wouldn’t see me? Some people seem quite stupid sometimes. Some people even seem quite stupid most of the time.

Does the future exist?

Well, it’s not like I didn’t warn you.

OK it’s typically sensationalist, as one would expect from the Daily Hate Mail but, if their facts are anything like correct, be assured, this is just the start.

After the Second World War, when the state pension age was set at 65 for men, their life expectancy was 66.4 years and women’s was 72.5 years. These figures have risen to 77 years for a man and 82 years for a woman.

Now, unless there is a huge increase in the number of people working (and, therefore, paying) to enable the ‘system’ to support many more pensioners, something has got to change. Either we start dying off earlier or we must work later. Obviously, the ‘working later’ bit is preferable.

The comments by the Daily Hate Mail readers make me laugh though. It seems that it’s all the previous (Labour) government’s fault. Of course it is! How stupid of me?

Apart from the fact that their spelling is really atrocious, their ideas seemed so warped as to be really quite scary (the readers/commentators – about the Labour government I couldn’t possibly comment). Sometimes it makes you think that there should be a rule only allowing people of a certain intelligence to be permitted to vote or have children, etc.

However, in reality, it was not any government’s ‘fault’. Well, they could have seen this coming and done something about it earlier, of course. But it’s hardly a ‘vote winner’ now, is it?

I mean to say, ‘Vote for us and we’ll make you work longer’. Not really catchy.

But, if you think about it, what else is to be done? Either work longer or get paid much, much less. I know which I’d prefer.

People on the newspaper site are complaining that the government are ‘making you work ’till you drop’. Well ….. erm ….. yes – but then, they are also the government that, should you live a long time in retirement, will be paying you something. These same people would complain if the government said ‘OK, you don’t have to pay so much tax but, after you retire, you’re on your own’.

It’s the stupidity that gets to me. It’s the lack of an overall awareness. It’s a lack of the basic understanding of how such a system as this is supposed to work.

I despair.

But, as I’ve said for years, I expect that I will never retire – dropping dead prior to retirement almost certainly. But I’m not blaming anyone except myself and, if I had really wanted to retire with lots of money, I should have saved more. Much, much more. But it’s OK since life should be about living now not living sometime in the future. We know about now. The future is uncertain and may not even exist.

Signs and remembering

There are things. Things that remind me of the past or a person. Very occasionally a smell or some music. In this case there is no smell nor music but just a sight.

Sometimes it is unexpected. I catch my breath. Like this morning.

The sight was something like this:

OK so not quite as nice as this one pictured – but you get the idea.

My maternal grandmother loved Magnolia. I think it was her favourite and they had one in front of their bungalow, right outside the lounge windows. And it is still there, outside the bungalow. We passed by the bungalow when I was boring F to death with the ‘….and this was where…..’ stuff last year when we went to the UK for the wedding. I didn’t really understand, all that time ago, because it had no smell (and I liked flowers with smell). However, my last house in the UK had one because I put one in. You don’t see them so often and they only seem to flower for a few weeks but they are glorious. And they are, of course, a reminder that spring is here. The only problem in the UK was that you were as likely as not to have a frost which would kill the blooms immediately. Here it is much less likely.

And, so, I was reminded of both her and, by association, my maternal grandfather whom regular readers will know, I loved very much.

And it was a nice thought on this fine, slightly-not-cold, spring morning and I thought I would tell you.

Bloody people.

It has to stop. No, really it does!

I don’t really get angry. I just feel disappointed. I should feel angry but, you know, there’s just too much effort in being angry. And, anyway, it doesn’t solve anything. However, I could be, shall we say, firmer. You could say ‘more of a bastard about it’. And that would be true ….. to some extent.

But, overall, I’m just disappointed – both with the people concerned and with the resulting situation for me.

I don’t know why I do it really. The ‘planning’ bit. Even as I’m doing it I think, ‘don’t do this ‘cos it won’t all work out like this at all’. Still, I do it.

In this case, I’m talking about my students – but, to be honest, it applies to most things. One of them, who has to complete this test before the end of this year or else he loses his degree that he worked so hard for. But he doesn’t work hard enough (in his own time). There are excuses, of course. They are reasonable excuses – he works full time, also runs a business (a nursery) with his wife, has a baby daughter and fights with his wife most evenings. Oh yes, and he’s just bought a new flat which needs work to be done. Not really a recipe for success when the English thing is difficult for him.

So, as he hasn’t worked hard enough, he wants to stop the lessons. This is fine by me. His Monday, hour-and-a-half lessons at 9 p.m. were a real killer for me. It meant not getting to sleep much before midnight, making me have a lack of sleep that is showing in my face as I rapidly approach old age. He says he wants to self-study. He won’t pass his exam ….. even if he does actually take it. But he has no intention of using his degree; it’s too difficult for him to get work in his field without working for a while as an intern (meaning no money – which with all his other commitments is impossible) and he’s unlikely to get an internship at his age (being a few years older than is normal). Anyway, his long-term plans means that he doesn’t really need a degree. He wants to open a tobacconist (he works for the one below my house). You don’t need to be an architect to do that.

And so, he cancelled a lesson a few weeks ago and said he didn’t want to do any more. But he had pre-paid. I said he had two lessons left. And so, he booked for last night and next Monday.

I sit in my kitchen. Everything is ready. Well, I say ‘ready’. I have no real lesson plan. I’m not sure what he wants from the last two lessons. I will play it by ear.

F is packing for Spain and trying to do the music (see post below). He knows the lesson is until 10.30 so he isn’t rushing. He ‘does beauty farm’, as he says. After he comes (which is always after the lesson), we will eat the remains of the Cottage Pie. It is too late, really, but the other option is to throw it away.

I had, previously, rushed round to his place to show him a ‘solution’ that didn’t really work and rushed back to be sitting in my kitchen, with a cup of tea, by nine.

It reaches two minutes past nine. I have a ‘sense’. It’s not a good sense. I decide to text my student. I attach his message which gave the dates and ask ‘Are you coming or have you forgotten?’. I already know he has forgotten or, if not forgotten, chosen not to come.

I wait for no answer and am rewarded.

Ten minutes later, I text again, this time putting a delivery receipt on the text. This one just asks ‘Are you there?’. He’s not. Or he’s ignoring me. Or his phone has been stolen. Or he’s arguing with his wife (again). Or he’s in hospital or dead or something. But his phone’s still working and there is a receipt to say the message was delivered.

I am a little pissed. At least have the decency to let me know you’re not coming? I had turned down a drink with A (who is away the rest of this week) because of my errant student.

I decide that I will charge him this anyway. Stuff him. Unless he has a really good excuse like he’s in hospital. Or his daughter is, or something. Then I couldn’t do it. There’ll be some excuse, for certain. Also I had told someone else they couldn’t have a lesson at that time. Goddamn them. Bloody people.

But this keeps happening. People cancel. At the last minute. Now I have to be upfront about this. I have to set rules. It will make me seem like I am a money-grabbing bastard. But so be it.

As I found when running a business before, rules only need to be brought in when people start taking the piss. And so it goes.

It’s bloody people that are the problem!