Pubs and beer and food and Indian and rain and cold and wind – but mainly pubs , beer and food

A proper English country pub

I mentioned before about my friend from school, H, who’s wife died a little while ago.

Unfortunately, I could only go to the funeral for the day but I made the effort and went over on our long holiday weekend – the one just gone, to spend some time with him.

I tried to let him do most of the talking. I thought it was the least I could do. We are blokes, after all, and we don’t do the opening up thing very easily – at least, face-to-face. But I think he did a bit and I really hope it helped him. But his story is not my story to write. I found the UK to be nicer than I had thought it would be. Admittedly, although not so far from London, this was the middle of the countryside and reminded me a lot of Herefordshire.

The first night we went out, with his daughter and son, to The Fox Inn in Rudgewick. It was a typical old English pub serving food. The food was wonderful (Steak and Ale Pie with mashed potato) and, of course, there was the beer. A very nice start to the trip.

The next day we we to his daughter’s new house. It was a lovely old house which she had started doing up. We went for lunch at The Crown Inn in Chiddingfold. Again, a typical English village pub with an open fire. Of course, I don’t eat so much and, in the end we had (H & I) some sharing nibbles. And some beer! God, I miss the English beer. Food was good and the place was very nice.

In the afternoon we did some shopping (for me) in Cranleigh, apparently the biggest village in England (or, maybe the UK?). It was very pretty. We were back there in the evening to go to The Curry Inn – not an inn at all but rather a good quality Indian restaurant. H had asked me if it was OK to go out with some of his friends and gave me a choice of Thai or Indian – which. of course, meant Indian. And boy, the curry I had was the best curry I’ve ever had. It was incredibly busy which, of course, means it must be good but the downside to that was we did have to wait an incredibly long time for the food. But, for me, the wait was worth it! Of course, it was Indian beer but you can’t have everything!

The next day it was raining all bloody day. However, H took me on a trip around and to his “baby”, some all-weather football ground (he’s very sporty) that he’d managed to get built. Then a bit more shopping and then, at my request, we went for a proper Sunday Lunch at The Chequers Inn in a tiny village called Rowhook. Again, a typical old English pub with an open fire (the wood smoke permeated the whole place and was so lovely to smell – I miss that atmosphere and that smell) and the food was fantastic. I had roast pork with gravy and asked for a Yorkshire pudding. And, of course, beer. The waiter/manager was Italian! Of course. I would have liked to understand why he was still there but the place was too busy.

Just before that we went shopping and I got my last bits and bobs.

So a weekend of listening, great food and great beer and meeting some very nice people.

So that’s what I got from it but, really, it was for him, so I really hope he got something from it too! And, maybe because I was with him, maybe because of the English pubs and the Indian restaurant – I didn’t hate being back in the UK – apart from the cold and the wet.

Connected! A wedding and a funeral.

Connected! A wedding and a funeral

Like the film. Except only the one wedding and not four.

The wedding I mentioned in the two posts below.

The funeral was yesterday. I had been feeling very anxious about it. I was going for the day. It meant flying to the UK, taking trains and it was going to be a long day. Plus there would be plenty of people that I should know but I knew I wouldn’t recognise. And, F was going to be in Japan.

So, he went to Japan on Saturday afternoon and, because of the funeral and the fact that he was away, that whole sinking feeling was back. The spiral into a blackness. But, I knew it was mainly because of the funeral.

I get up at 4.30 a.m. to take the dogs out. Poor things. It would be their only walk until I got back that evening. I felt bad about it but there wasn’t much I could do about it.

I didn’t even have time for coffee. I had to be ready by 5.30 for the taxi I had booked. The taxi was there, on time and I got to the airport. I had already checked in and was only going for the day, so no baggage – straight through security and a cappuccino and then straight to the “smoking cubicle”. Then queue up to get through passport control (I was going to the UK – outside the normal rules for Europe – bloody British.

I was flying Easyjet. Not my first choice but I needed to make it as cheap as possible.

I had forgotten that they allocated seat numbers now and got into any seat, to be reminded by a gentleman that I needed to go to the seat I had been allocated. Fucking hell! And it made me wonder why people would spend more money to have “speedy boarding” if they have seat numbers allocated. It became clear before we went through to the gate when the staff started tagging the bags which had to be put in the hold – they had counted them on and the overhead racks had run out of room. Still, it seemed to me crazy that you would pay extra just for that.

Then I remembered that I could also have “paid extra” to decide which seat I wanted rather than an automatic allocation, when I had checked in over the Internet.

We arrived at Gatwick. I absolutely hate the passport checks going back into the UK. Even with a British passport, I feel like I shouldn’t be allowed in – they make me feel like I shouldn’t be allowed in!

Through passport control and straight out to the smoking area.

Then to the station to collect my pre-booked tickets. Then I had some time but not really enough to go back to the smoking area.

It’s a bit cold – but I’m dressed like it’s winter here, so it’s OK. On the train. Got to Guildford. Checked with the taxi how long it would take to the crematorium (where the service was to be) and how much it would cost and, more importantly, if I could use one of the two £10 notes I had. Apparently, I could. The new ones have been introduced but it seems there is a while yet before the old ones go out of circulation.

I have several cigarettes and go in to Costa to get a cappuccino. “What size”, I’m asked. Erm, I have no idea. He shows me medium. I’m used to Italian now and that’s too large. “Something smaller”, I reply. He gets a “small” – which is still far too large, really. And I really want it in a cup not a cardboard beaker. But, hey, ho, I go with it. It’s a large cappuccino all right – but with a massive amount of really crap “foam” on top. But I drink it anyway. And go and have more cigarettes.

Then I get a taxi. I am at the crematorium early. The service before them is just going in. I have more cigarettes. I see people getting out of their cars in the car park and chatting to each other. I wonder if I’m supposed to know them. They head towards the building and me.

The guy in the light grey suit heads towards me. He’s unshaven but he looks like H, my best friend from school. I assume he’s D, his brother. I say, “D?” He says he is H. Oh, for fucks sake, I think. Why am I so crap. But my mind closes this off quickly. I can’t worry about it today. I give him a hug. I am pleased to see him and sad for him at the same time. I am introduced to his daughter and his son. This is the first time I’ve met them. His daughter looks the spitting image of his wife, T, who is the person we are having the service for today. She had a brain tumour and died a couple of weeks ago.

He is worried that I am OK. He introduces me to someone who I guess I should know but really don’t. It’s T’s sister. She is chatty and talks to me and introduces me to others that I don’t know and shouldn’t. We talk and chat.

I am introduced to M, who I do know although he is much, much older now, probably mid seventies. He was also a kind of friend from school days although was never really my friend and, anyway, was years older than us – but that’s a whole other story – if I can ever properly remember it.

M hangs around me. We go in together and we are to sit with close family, at the front.

There are so many people here that they are standing all around the room and, although I don’t look, at the back.

We have the service. T comes in inside a wicker basket thing. The service is semi-religious. It’s lovely, if you see what I mean. It is heartfelt and heartbreaking. She was younger than me – didn’t smoke or anything. Bugger!

We go outside. There are possibly 200 hundred people here. She was well liked/loved.

I am taken to the wake by some people who are neighbours. I hear afterwards that V (the wife) had been so pleased to meet me because T had told her how much she had enjoyed their trip to Milan. There is food and drink available but there isn’t enough for all the people here. I say that the number of people is a testament to how well loved T was. I say all sorts of crap to anyone that’ll listen. I don’t really want to be there. I think: this is the way it is now – I shall be coming to the UK for funerals – it’s an age thing.

I get to see H a bit. I hug him several times. M asks if I can come and see him. I say I had thought of coming in December when I have a couple of days’ holiday. M says that would be very good. I want to do this.

I am never without people to speak to. I am the centre of attention or, rather, the second centre of attention after H. They have all seen the picture of me and H after our first holiday together, on our own. The picture was taken by my mother. H disputes the date of it – I don’t know – it was my mother who wrote the date on the back of the photo.

H doesn’t burst into tears but almost, at several points. It’s been lovely and not lovely at the same time.

D takes me back to the station. I am very early. I have hours to wait before the plane back. I wish I’d booked an earlier flight but I wasn’t sure when I would be able to get back and wanted to be there in case H needed me.

But, he didn’t. And, anyway, he had loads of people around. I catch an early train. At the airport I have a meal, as I had only eaten very little all day. Then I decide to go through security. This, being Britain, means no smoking as there are no “smoking areas”. Bloody up-their-own-arse people. I’ve been overhearing conversations whilst travelling and, to be honest, it’s painful. I can’t imagine living here again. I hope, really hope, I never have to. I try to buy chocolate. They need my boarding pass – which they don’t, by the way. I say no. She says “it’s the rules.” I tell her I don’t want them then. I go to Boots for Lemsip and pills. The guy in the queue before me is asked for his boarding card. He says it’s in his jacket so he doesn’t have it. The guy takes his money anyway. My turn and he asks me if I have my boarding card. I say I have but he doesn’t need it. He’s clearly pissed off but accepts my payment anyway. I go and get chocolate and newspapers from WH Smith. They don’t ask me for my boarding card.

I wait around, have yet another beer and, finally, the gate is up. I can’t wait to get out of this country. The funeral was fine but the people travelling make me want to go home – and this is NOT home. I should try to remember this when I complain about Italians.

On board, the guy next to me wants to talk. He talks. Then he goes to sleep. We are late. I worry about the dogs having been inside since around 5 until now – which is already 11 p.m. I don’t even stop for a cigarette but get in a taxi straight away. They are a little bit super-pleased to see me. I take them out. I feed them and have a cigarette. It’s gone midnight. I go to bed and they come with me, super-attached. And then normality will start in just 5 hours.

God, I’m knackered.

And the connection between the funeral and the wedding? Well, this was the woman that H, my best friend at school, married those 37 years ago and when he asked me to be Best Man and when I made that terrible speech. Life is odd sometimes, isn’t it.

……..And It Makes Me Feel Like Shit

and it makes me feel like shit

Today is the day. The day that the UK goes to the polls to re-elect the existing party and Prime Minister or change them/her for a new one.

It seems very likely that they will re-elect the existing ones.

And I still fail to see how anyone (apart from those earning a LOT of money) could possibly vote for May and her party and still be able to sleep at night.

If only I could vote, I would, this time, for the first time in my life, vote Labour. Not because I agree with them but because they are the most likely to be able to stop the Tories. Not that I think my vote would have made any difference but, you know …….

I don’t hate the Tories – they are people, after all. But I do hate what they have done and are doing to the UK.

I especially hate the fact that they are going ahead with Brexit even though less than half the voting population of GB voted to leave. Mind you, Labour will go ahead too, so the difference to me, personally, would be minimal – except that I think Labour are the most likely to safeguard my rights as a Brit living in the EU.

To stay in the EU, I would have to have voted LibDem and, although I was a Liberal/LibDem supporter for most of my life, after that coalition with the Conservatives, I’m not sure I could vote for them again.

So, tomorrow morning I will learn whether I should be more worried about my position here or not. Already, like the pound, I am worrying more. It’s like watching a car crash in slow motion – knowing there are going to be fatalities and knowing there’s nothing you can do about it. Knowing there are some of your friends in the car but the driver is someone you don’t really like and he’s going too fast and is out of control and doing stupid things and you kinda say “well, it’ll serve him right!”

But, then again, there’s a couple of friends in the car with him and you really don’t want them to be hurt.

I have to be honest and say that in the past, I haven’t always voted in elections. There didn’t seem any point. How I wish I could take all those past non-voted-in elections and roll them up to be able to vote today. But I can’t, so just like watching the car crash, I sit here, worried about how bad it will be.

And it makes me feel like shit.

Leave me be!

__leave_me_the_fuck_alone___by_alchimichi

I’m fairly easy going. I don’t need much and most of it I have already got.

But you know, leave me alone. I don’t want interferance from others and, in particular, governments and organisations. But, particularly, governments.

So, in the 1970s, the UK joined the EU. For most of my life after that, it didn’t really have a direct effect. And then I moved here. I was able to do so easily and, apart from the first couple of years, I didn’t and don’t need any sort of permission to stay here. It’s a right, guaranteed by the EU lawa and protections. In fact, right now, I can go anywhere within the EU to live and work (or not). It was granted to me by the governments of the EU and it’s a thing I like.

I have been here for over 12 years, living, working, paying my taxes, etc. I can go back, if I wanted to, or move somewhere else (as long as it’s warmer :-) ). I have true freedom of movement.

But now, because the UK are a bunch of arseholes, that current and future right is being put in doubt as with a load of other things. And Brexit hasn’t even happened yet! Almost daily, there are stories of people being threatened with deportation from the UK, people who can’t bring in their wife or husband because of an interpretation of the laws by the British courts, etc. And, still Brexit hasn’t happened!

And there are reports that, whereas the EU wants to ensure that it’s members’ people maintain the right of free movement to Britain, the British abroad are being excluded form that because the British government, to be frank, doesn’t really care about it’s small number of people abroad. On the other hand, I don’t care about much else except my continued right to stay and work here.

So, governments – LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!

Fight the Bastards

Fight the Bastards

I haven’t spoken about it here and, in general don’t speak about it unless asked to specifically but, Brexit.

Putting aside my personal worries about it, I’m amazed by the way that the UK appears to be going. Amazed but not particularly surprised.

To understand how come Britain (by a small majority of voters but majority nonetheless) came to vote for something that I think (and in some way also hope) will be a disaster for the UK, I believe you should look at the general mentality of the British people (myself included).

I have mentioned it here many times but I vividly remember one of the first New Year’s Eves, walking back home (because of incredibly bad weather, a breakdown in public transport and a distinct lack of taxis) through the centre of town, Piazza Duomo. There weren’t that many people about. The main midnight event in the Piazza had finished and most people had gone. But there were enough people around. What struck me at the time (and still does, to be honest) was that the people that we met were quite drunk, were in groups (groups of lads, groups of girls, etc.) but, instead of getting “What yer looking at?”, “I’ll smash yer face in”, etc., all we got were “Auguri!” (Best wishes).

The ONLY time that I have ever been threatened while living here was the time, a few years ago, on a tram at around 9 or 10 p.m. when the younger guy, opposite me said exactly “What yer looking at?” in that threatening way. I can’t remember if he threatened to “punch me” or not but, as en Englishman, I know that would have been the next thing. I’ve become so used to people staring here that I was probably staring at him without realising it – but the point is that the only time I’ve been threatened is by some English jerk (for he was English) who did a typical English thing.

It’s a British characteristic, to fight people. Go to any town (I dare you) on a Friday or Saturday night and hang around pubs at any time after around 9 p.m. There you will see drunken people and, often, drunken people “looking for a fight”. We seem to get very angry when we get drunk (although these days, I get very tired and need to sleep). I say “we” including myself in that but I DO realise that not everyone does it, not even me – but it’s very common in the UK and I’ve never seen it here, however drunk the people are.

In fact, the British are an aggressive race. They fight. It’s served us well in the past, of course. up to and including the second World War. In fact, you could say it was essential. But we are a warring nation with this aggressiveness hard-wired into our DNA. We like a fight. We need to fight. We need to step up to the plate.

But, for any fight, you need an enemy. If we take it from WWII, first there was Hitler, then there were the Commies and, during the eighties, closer to home, we had the Unions (before after and during that we had the IRA). And then communism collapsed and we had no enemy. I mean to say, we have an enemy now (the Jihadists) but they’re really difficult to fight, as are black people and asian and arabic people (even though we try).

But, for the last 30 years or so we have, via the media, etc. been building up Europe and, in particular, the European Union, as “The Enemy”, constantly trying to “tell us what to do” and “impose their pesky red tape and laws”. At a time when an exit from Europe wasn’t envisaged, Margaret Thatcher arrived swinging her handbag and threatening action against the EU. She was like St George fighting the dragon of Europe – and the British public loved it. Add in the “war” with Argentina where she came across as the new Winston Churchill, and she was legend.

It’s what the British want. Someone who appears to be a strong and powerful leader – mainly by threatening to fight every one who is “enemy” – the EU, Argentina, the lazy unemployed, etc.

Since Thatcher’s time, we had Blair, who was a poor copy of her and then no one. And, when it came to the Brexit vote, the British, fearful about the future, for various reasons, voted to come out of Europe. But there isn’t a single reason for their reasoning but multiple reasoning. Some people, probably those with the least experience of immigration, voted to leave to stop people entering the country. Those people who live in areas which have lost their industry and now have high unemployment, voted out to, perhaps, bring back the jobs from Europe. Those from more affluent areas voted out to ensure we stop paying benefit to those who come in from Europe (or elsewhere) and to stop the money being ploughed in to the NHS (National Health System) that they don’t use anyway, so it’s not important. And many, from all over the country, voted out to stop the flow of money from the UK to Brussels.

It honestly didn’t matter if the reasons were real or not. It’s what they have read about and heard over the last 30 years and, eventually, they believed it.

And, then, along comes Theresa May, sword in hand, astride the white charger, like Boedecia or Queen Elizabeth I, shouting from the rooftops that she will lead us out and fight everyone until she gets what we want.

No matter that it won’t happen. If there is any failure with the negotiations, it certainly won’t be the UK’s fault but, instead the fault of the EU. Or Junker. Or the SNP. Or Northern Ireland, or, of course, the “Remoaners” and “snowflakes” who aren’t behind the country (as they actually don’t want to leave the EU?).

So, the angry people, frustrated with some aspect of their lives, like the drunk brawlers on a Friday or Saturday night in your typical British town/city, will have an enemy to berate and blame for failure and a leader who will absolutely join in, fomenting more hatred and unhappiness.

And, trust me, the Conservatives WILL win the election. Resoundingly. May is the leader (fighter) the British need. Corbyn and the others want to talk, not lead. The sheeple don’t want to talk, they want someone who, sword in hand, will destroy the enemy. There’s no one else that fits that category. After all, if you already know it won’t actually be possible to destroy your enemies, how can you speak with the right rhetoric?

So, the Conservatives will win, May will want to be seen as “strong and stable” and the EU will be to blame when there’s a Brexit with no agreement, introducing import and export charges and making the British people’s live more miserable. Big business will give the UK a miss meaning no return of factories and jobs and, eventually, perhaps, the UK will go back, cap in hand, to Brussels for a deal or become the 52nd State of the USA. Or, to cut off their noses to spite their faces, slipping into something close to 3rd World status.

But, remember, what’s more important than anything else is to fight “the bastards”. ‘Cos that’s what we do!

Can I find the keys to the vaults?

And, to add to my previous post.

My memory is terrible and everyone who knows me knows this to be true.

Except, that’s not really the whole story.

My memory is very selective. It seems that I am able to blot out parts of my life to the point where I remember almost nothing. But it’s a choice, albeit an automatic “choice” in that, I don’t consciously say “OK, I will forget that part of my life” but rather that parts of my life just, simply, disappear.

The student I mentioned in the last post seemed to think it was my way of dealing with difficult or hurtful things.

This can be very convenient. It can also make things difficult.

Convenience comes with not having to remember details that may upset me or things that were difficult. Also with the fact that certain things can be revisited as if for the first time and re-enjoyed without any previous “knowledge”.

The difficulties come with things like the coming weekend. My previous best friend died a few weeks ago. We (V & I) had been on holiday with him and his family many, many times; we spent Christmasses and Easters with them and other weekends too. We just got on so well. On Thursday, I shall go to the funeral. And people will talk about things from the past.

Except, I remember almost nothing of all those years (it was, maybe, 15 years or so) and I remember almost nothing of our times together, except a few, very tiny and insignificant things.

So, I’m quite nervous about this. I will have to have my “Oh, yes, I remember it well” face on. For about 3 days. This could be more than a little difficult.

Sometimes, when people remind me of something, I will be able to retrieve it from my memory bank, from the securely-locked vault. Other times, it’s locked in a different vault and the key seems to be missing. And, no amount of prompting by others enables me to find the key. The memory remains elusive.

And, I have learnt that people will try to help you remember and that they don’t really like it if you can’t remember.

On the other hand, some things I DO remember and, because those who know me and know how terrible my memory can be, assume they have better memories than I do and will be convinced that their memory is the “correct” one, even if it isn’t.

An example of which was the argument I had with my sister one time. Talking about my Grandfather, I said that he was in his 80s and she was convinced he was in his 70s and assumed (and told me) that my memory was always bad and so I was definitely wrong. I knew I wasn’t but I couldn’t convince anyone.

Some years later I found the “order of service” of his funeral which proved he WAS in his 80s. Unfortunately, by then, my sister and I had become “estranged” again and so I was never able to say “I told you so”!

Anyway, let’s hope vaults are opened this weekend so I don’t have to hide my lack of memories too much.

Another one bites the dust.

Vary sadly, The Bookstore.co.uk, from where I have been buying my books (not wanting to grace Amazon with my custom) has ceased trading.

So, I went on the hunt for another bookshop to buy from. It’s not easy. At first I tried Hay on Wye but the only bookshop that had what I needed priced everything in US dollars and I couldn’t find a way to change it to either Euro or Pounds.

Eventually, I found one in Liverpool called News From Nowhere.

They had all the books I wanted (from my “saved list” at Bookstore.co.uk) and so I entered them and, to try it out, bought 3 books. In theory, they will be with me when I come back with Best Mate from our holiday.

Still, Bookstore were truly great and I shall miss them. I’m sorry that I couldn’t buy more (if that would have helped to keep them alive). Further, it’s a shame that another independent bookseller has hit the dust.

Nuggets of truth. Perhaps?

Nuggets of truth.  Perhaps?

There is some truth, of course, although that’s not always guaranteed.

But only a small amount. The story I know will not, almost certainly, be the one I will hear. I know that already. I don’t know when I will hear the story directly but I know that, at some time it will come, when we eventually meet.

Of course, I don’t really care about the story I will be told for already I know a truth (but not THE truth for that, I suspect, will never be really known) and, therefore, I know the story to be told will be, to all intents and purposes, fictitious. But when I get told that story, I will accept it and not ask probing questions to trip him up. What purpose could that possibly serve?

The story I will be told will be something like: I had to come back to look after Mum and Dad.

That bit, of course, is not even slightly true and that’s not the bit that will contain any small bits of truth. The small bits of truth will be in the detail of the story told to me.

Of course, there is a long way to go before that story gets told to me, so anything may happen in the meantime.

But it makes me a little sad. As I mentioned, I have been reading up on my old posts, checking links and making sure they aren’t corrupted with strange characters. I’m up to the point where I have been a few weeks in the perfect-flat-in-the-perfect-street. And the major thing that I have been reading about is the lying that was done before that. And, so, the story will be a fabrication of lies and, as that was the reason we split in the first place, I am sad that it (the lying) will be continuing.

But I have become like everyone else in his view. Or maybe it was always so and I was just too dumb or stupid or blind or blinded by love that I missed all the signs that were slapped in my face.

But, let’s move on to the story I know, which contains more truth than the story I will get but also huge omissions that I will never (nor will anyone else) know.

Ay and her boyfriend, E, were over.

We went out for one dinner. F didn’t go away so he was there too. It was lovely.

But Ay and I gossiped, of course. Gossiped about the “family” – not mine but hers (and, yet, in some way, one of my families too). Which, of course, makes it also V’s. And, it couldn’t be helped but we gossiped about V. Or, rather, she gossiped about V and I listened.

It seems, now he’s there, that he hasn’t told anyone what really happened. We talked about the strange telephone call from her grandfather (where he said he had missed a call from me even though I never made the call.) I told her why I thought he had made the call. 1. Because V was there and really wanted to talk to me or 2. Because V had told him things and he was checking I was OK and not “caught up” in trouble because of V.

She told me that, almost certainly, those reasons were wrong. He would have rung because he had had nothing from V and needed an excuse to talk to me with the hope that I would “spill some beans”. But, in any case, I have very few beans to spill. Or, rather, I had very few factual beans – the beans I have being pieced together and some of which are “supposed” beans.

It seems he is acting like the prodigal son. He has no money, has no job, etc., but is happy to live and be fed and looked after by his parents. It seems that his other sister, P, is helping him to get benefit money and the “plan” is to declare that he is there to provide full-time care for his parents.

Ay and her mum are not particularly impressed since, for all the years so far, he has provided nothing in terms of help – of any kind, while they have – and not been asking for any benefit money either.

Still, it remains to be seen if he will get any money for this. With the crackdown on “benefit scroungers” in the UK, I’m sure they will want to make an assessment of the parents – and that won’t be comfortable for anyone!

But, more than that, it seems a shame that someone who, at one time, had a promise and future, will never realise any of that potential. On the cusp of half a century, instead of forging ahead he will find himself trapped in this spiral of requiring hand-outs.

I had written during some posts at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 of how, I wondered, he would cope without me. In fact, he has and is “coping” but not in the way that I had imagined nor in a way that would suit me. Nor, I imagine, in his heart of hearts, is it what he envisaged for himself.

And so, I wait to hear the story that he will concoct to give to me. And, of course, whatever I hear, I already know will be mainly a fantasy.

Which is the greatest shame. It could have been so different but I do not feel responsible. I am not responsible. He has “achieved” this all by himself. Still, it makes me sad.

Reconnections and visits and some apprehension

This year’s going to be busy, I think. A bit “unstable”, of course, with PaC and the problem there and then there’ll be F and how he will react.

But, also, this year there are going to be a few reconnections with the past.

Towards the end of March, a guy, D, and his boyfriend are coming for a few days. I haven’t seen him for over 25 years. We’ve stayed in touch, just about (I’m talking Christmas cards). He hadn’t ever even met V (although he did see him, briefly)! I am a bit worried that, after all this time, we won’t really have anything in common. Except a past that I can barely remember due to an ability I have to shut off and eventually forget almost all things to do with my past.

Then, in early May, a friend from school days, R, and his wife are coming over. They got married 35 years ago (in May, when they are here) and it was the terrible occasion when I was the Best Man and did, possibly, the very worst Best Man speech ever. It was so bad that over the years, whenever I see, attend or watch (on film) a wedding, I am reminded of it and cringe inside. M (my first boyfriend) and I used to see them occasionally for a couple of years afterwards – but I probably haven’t seen them for over 30 years. Again, we stayed in touch – in exactly the same way as above. And, in exactly the same way as above, I am a bit worried that we won’t have anything in common.

So let’s look at what I DO remember.

Let’s start with R. At one point, probably my best friend at school. I don’t even know WHY we were best friends. He liked and played football and cricket a lot – I hated it. I smoked – he didn’t. We both liked drinking. That’s it. Things I remember: He was going bald by the time he was 17. He never had “girlfriends” whereas I always had a girlfriend (and look how THAT turned out :-D ). We used to (in the 6th form), go to one of two pubs at lunchtime and sometimes only return to school to catch the same last bus home (we lived quite close to each other.) My first holiday away from my parents (excluding the disastrous time they made me go to Boys’ Brigade camp in Guernsey – which had such a profound effect on my life thereafter) was with him and another close friend. We stayed in my parents’ caravan in Cornwall. It was just after we had taken our A Levels (the final examinations at 18 at that time.) My results came through while I was there and my parents couldn’t really understand why I could not have given a shit about the results.

So, at the end of all that, we were drinking buddies, I guess.

For D, he and his partner, S, were the second gay couple M and I met and became friends with. They were a lovely couple. Sadly, at the age of 21, S committed suicide which left D quite bereft. In fact, in one way (but not at all his fault), he was the reason that I found V and that M and I split after 10 years. In fact, that moment, in a club in Birmingham, was probably the last time I saw him, so that would make it close on 17 years ago.

So, I am a bit apprehensive.

On the other hand, J should be coming in the middle of March as I got her a ticket to Aida at La Scala. I’m thinking I might take her to Florence for a day. I think she might like that. And she is one of the sweetest people I know.

And S, my very Best Mate, should come over at the end of May for a few days and I am really looking forward to that.

So, already 4 different visits. It’s going to be a busy year.

Who knows?

“What the fuck?”

That’s what I wanted to say. But I didn’t. Everything has to be thought through before I say anything.

I think I actually said, “Really?”

It seems that I am right in as much that “everybody” doesn’t know, except that the “everybody” that doesn’t know is only the person that this really affects! It seems that the doctor has spoken to the family but not the person at the centre of all this (PaC.) Everyone is acting perfectly normally whilst PaC is in the room. PaC doesn’t know anything.

To say I was shocked is an understatement and I still can’t quite get my head round this. I asked that, should I ever be in this position, please, please, please tell me. Apart from getting used to the idea of it all, I would have things to do!

But I’m still in shock.

PaC doesn’t want to go anywhere at Christmas and doesn’t want anyone coming over (to eat). F said he would prefer me not to go down, for this reason. So, now I’m not sure what will happen. I’ve said I’ll do whatever he wants.

PaC is not eating. Has not been eating much since summer. Is thinner. I wonder, if, in fact, PaC will even be here for Christmas? I don’t say this. But now I’m certain we’re talking weeks or, maybe, a couple of months. You can’t go on forever without eating.

F is stoic, as he normally is. Almost too English. He will go down again this weekend and speak to PaC about the possibility that I might come down. Then he’ll make a decision based on this (as to whether I go down or not) so, I may go down or I may be on my own. I’m not sure I will want to go and “celebrate” with any one else, tbh. It just doesn’t seem right.

When he tells me that PaC is the only person who doesn’t “know”, I tell him that there’s no way this would happen in England. But now I wonder if that is really the case? And, is it always the case in Italy? I’ve never been this close to the situation to know. I’ve just always assumed ……

And, can I just say that, the whole thing is scaring me. The knowing and not knowing thing is scaring me more. I don’t know why. I feel uneasy, unsettled. It’s not a good time. I even heard F telling someone on the phone that 2014 has turned out to be a pretty shit year.

My heart is full of tears for him and his family.

And the rest of me is as scared as hell, for some reason I just can’t fathom.