Ten plus One years ago ….


Pic taken, Puerto Pollenća, Mallorca 2005, me on R, my lower left arm in plaster after falling off a ladder.

Most of my working career involved planning and project managing, so since I retired some fifteen years ago I’ve kept a fairly tidy routine with most things ship-shape and Bristol fashion. Needless to say, if I encounter any problems along the way, any paperwork or items can be easily found, with those same said items in their correct place and strangely enough, able to remember dates and times of momentous happenings, all of this data is stored in my brain analogous to a central processing unit in a computer.

Late July of 2015 I was asked by my best friend Chris as to whether I had considered doing anything special for my big birthday in September of the next year, (that then, was a year away)  Sixty is after all a big one, so, perhaps something rather extravagant and momentous. To be honest, I’ve always been one jump ahead of any game plan, a bit like the fictional character Monica Geller in NBC’s TV series ‘Friends’ as she had already planned her wedding day as far back as she was a child, not that I had MY wedding planned like that, after all, mine was a total disaster, but, I have always had some form of a strategy with plans and many ideas. Considering that for Chris’ fiftieth, I surprised him (he hates surprises) with an all-inclusive week in Mallorca at Puerto Pollenća our favourite resort, the night before our departure I sprung a surprise soiree for him whilst the sun was setting at a neighbour’s cliff edge home, so you can imagine how flabbergasted he was at this event, and with catapulting the curve ball at him with just three days notice that we were travelling certainly opened the emotional flood gates, I’m happy to say, although, a grimace said it all. The weird and strange thing about it was that I carried all the chairs from my house, the catering and the drinks, every step I walked was taken past his window where he sat that same day, oblivious, he just thought I was having a busy day !! ……. I guess I can be quite ruthless and sneaky at times, but not in a bad way, those days are long gone,   ……

Puerto Pollenća has been a favoured escape of ours for many years and we tend to alternate between there and Calpe, Nr Benidorm on the Spanish mainland, as we have both been enjoying all things Española for over forty years, and tend to be of the opinion, if it aint broke, lets not try to fix it, Así, España es!  (so, Spain it is)

I digress, Well, upon questioning, I suggested maybe Las Vegas or even San Francisco? Play the slots, see Cher or Elton, both possibly. Visit our dearest friend George aka *Four Bums* in SFO, walk up  Market Street to the Castro or  what about New York or Paris?  We could shop until we drop or until we deplete ‘your’ credit cards? (sadly my short stumpy legs couldn’t take the continued traipsing between Broadway and the elegant designer shops on Fifth) Visit the Empire State Building or the Freedom Tower or we could cruise down the stinky Siene, maybe eat patisserie at the top of the Eiffel Tower until we could eat no more. ……..Mmmm! Then again, there’s the option of sailing TransAtlantic with Cunard to The Big Apple, a stay in Manhattan for a few days and return business class home!   …….   No ……… (Schh! That’s in the Blue file for 2021 for my sixty-fifth).

Sadly, all of these destinations had held very bad memories and experiences previously and those I did not wish to repeat, yes, they were unsuitable destinations, attempting to turn disastrous relationships back into perfect one night stands proved completely irrevocable, jealous lovers and idiot friends in strange cities did not make sense, hindsight huh!

I certainly did not want to be reminded of all that again, and as the ‘dog time factor’ was bought into the equation I just let it go. We would have to consider asking our dear German friend Alex to dog sit, the fact he lives in London, now a British citizen and ever so slightly crazy, zany, dippy and all kinds of wonderful, it’s great he adores our ‘pups’ as much as they do him. Working for the MOD he’s not always available and coinciding same dates was always going to be a nightmare. I should know, the previous surprise I arranged three years ago & the structural skills juggled proved positively torturous. So, I shoved the idea into a Green envelope in a file right deep down at the base of my cerebral cortex. Why green I hear you ask?  (I’l tell you later). Anyway, if and when needs be, I would normally be able to pick up any pieces at the last-minute and systematically organise everything in just two days. I might even be able to accomplish same said request even quicker dependant upon wherever the eventual destination was to be or if it was ever to be at all. (given the opportunity I could probably organise and attain world peace).

The day of my fifty ninth birthday passed quickly, a booking for a quiet dinner for two at the French styled restaurant Le Pierro Bistro in Torquay had been made ages ago, however, keeping the actual date followed a last-minute decision to go. The day previous I had received emergency treatment and laser surgery on my right eye, a term of events following a head butt from Willow my Cocker-Jack, part detaching my retina. However, the evening was lovely, a few sherbets, (beer, NOT cocaine)  Chris had pushed the boat out, sadly I was not in focus, he has always been such a considerate guy.

I knew this was serious and taking the Doctors orders, I rested for a whole week, Chris spent most of this particular day staring into his iMac and I languished on the day bed, being left to recoup on my own is my best way of getting better, no fuss, no visitors and with all the mutts cuddled up somewhere on same comfortable bed was a great tonic and comforter.

…. ‘So’ he says, grinning, …… ‘its all confirmed’

‘What’s confirmed?’

‘The Daina, Front balcony Sea-View room, all-inclusive, depart 5th September from Exeter’ …. Seats booked, inflight meals too, all paid.

‘Show me, show me … Let me see’…. as I lift up the virtual eye patch and winked at him!

.. ‘Thinks’ …. I couldn’t have planned it any better myself if I had tried.

And now almost twelve months later, we are just TWENTY days to go.




Crazy or what?

It is said if you love and trust someone enough to look after your dogs, and they yours, then you have a friend for life, especially when they trust you with either of their debit or credit cards to use. I have been blessed to have that such person in my life, I am not quite so sure that I personally could trust anyone else like that as much, apart from that same person. The fact that my life insurance came into force last week has nothing to do with todays events, but, just for the record, if I should disappear under strange and mysterious circumstances, then remember, if any of you Jessica Fletcher or Columbo type wannabe’s are on the case ….. Remember, you read it here first, the clues are in the words.

Early kick off today, a text just before 08:00 informs us that the new silver appliances for the kitchen arrive in twenty minutes. My plan to treat Chris to breakfast will now come to fruition, a time space we can use between installation of “non white goods” and the estimated time of grocery delivery. A steady perambulate from our homes, down toward the coastal path which directs us to the outdoor seawater lido. Shoals, is a new establishment, specialist dishes containing freshly caught local fish, the café on the lido stands on an elevated position facing slightly off North, affording great views and inside features comfortable surroundings, its quiet this morning, just two other customers, we settle in our seats, fixated by the beautiful contrast of the calm azure waters of the pool and the wildness of the sea beyond. Choice of soft pan-fried scallops, black pudding and streaky bacon in a sweet Brioche bun, Orange Juice and filter coffee are made, this is pleasant, it is also peaceful, a perfect start to a perfect day, life doesn’t get much better than this.

… Enter Parker, again. Most of you will remember that Parker is our trusty steed, and when let loose, will be as naughty as he is allowed, he’s also tends to lead one astray.

One of the albums I have recently downloaded from the big iLibray in the sky is Patsy Cline, her strong warbling voice resonates as if it was her last ever performance at the Grand old Opry, now transmitted by a technological marvel known as Bluetooth which attempts to extrude her voice out of the speakers like a terrible party political broadcast. Like any government in power if it (bluetooth) works, it does it well, if it doesn’t, well then you’re stuffed and today, Parker is as reluctant to oblige as lemon spray at a mosquito fest, he’s far too busy monitoring tyre pressures and communication with EE  …….

Normally I would only listen to her whilst doing the ironing (as if) and drinking Gin or contemplating suicide, (not really) as some of her tracks are synonymous to her sad and depressive, now depleted lifestyle, however, … I’m in a jolly frame of mind, my persona changes as I adjust the rear view mirror and put my seat into a comfortable laid back F1 driving position. Flexing my fingers backwards, my horn stumps break surface just above the temples, I select drive, flip sports mode, my right foot hits the boards, soon everything seems to be flying past me, or are we flying past them?  I warned you about Parker, he’s a beast.

I lip-sync  with her to “Crazy” as she shares my drive out of Fishtown just as if we are in a car-pool karaoke club, bemusing many strange looks from oncoming drivers. Should I turn the sound down?  Maybe I shouldn’t have all the windows open!  Someone once told me that fuel consumption improves when the air-con is off, so go figure that one, but I don’t care.  Not ten minutes ago that handsome blue Barclaycard was shoved into my grubby mitt, I have an important task, I was off, I tried hard to say “are you sure?” but, as hindsight, that’s an old gesture I didn’t want revoking.

The small piece of paper on it scrawled the words, ‘two ends for work-top (black), screws (black), two flexible pipe ends for tap, sealant (black), blank plug for sink, and a general peruse, at the bottom it read (don’t forget anything)’ B&Q is my destination, these parts are urgently required to finish renovating my honourable mates kitchen, list now firmly tucked inside my credit card wallet. Now there’s a claim for non truth of a trades description act, as I don’t have any credit cards left myself, all are either maxed out, part paid and also enduring the humiliation once of having one cut up in public with not a hopes chance in hell of it ever being restored to normal service means a definite NO.

Hastily we speed along the only vehicular artery worth taking toward the next town, which once had the proud honour to host a Woolworth store and Timothy Whites. The former now a pound shop, the latter yet another charity outlet with a cross above the door, not that I have anything against them, but, honestly, what’s the percentage chance of me buying a red sweatshirt with the words NEXT in blue for one pound, and turning up to pick my offspring up wearing same and my ex-wife giving me  the daggers look as *it*, would you believe, had actually been hers! So, instead, I just tend to purchase once thumbed through autobiographies and lavender joss sticks from those kind of establishments, and if I should see anyone selling pick and mix, I get flashbacks of being slapped on my thigh by my mother after fingering the all-sorts.

Not an hour earlier I had mentioned I might like to purchase a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses for our holiday in September, and before I had the chance to describe what style I wanted I was sternly informed that I already had one pair, but hey,  (that was rich coming from the male equivalent of Imelda Marcos, at least eighty pairs of footwear once adorned his shelves and cupboards) one pair would be for long distance, the other, reading, well, that’s my excuse, perhaps that was the reason I was given his card? Perhaps not!

The town centre is crazy, not a sign of a place to park, not even a double yellow line to abuse, its Friday afternoon, everyone seems to be of the opinion its hip to be seen to be out. A tight squeeze is made between a grey muddy Volvo and a Transit. I depart from the parking scene pleased that my reversing skills are still on form, I decide its time for a short back and sides whilst im out, after inaign chitchat about politics, (Eu’k) and weekend activities, and the usual “did i want anything for the weekend’  I depart the establishment much tidier around the follicles, my eyebrows trimmed so my vision is better and my hearing slightly more in tune, getting older punishes reward of strange places for hair growth. I notice in the morror just how aged I look, … ‘thinks .. must do something about that’  Exchanging cash for a tissue I wipe loose strands from my face and aim my feet towards an old haunt.

Recognised immediately by the attendant as I entered the Tanning salon, her skin now golden and slightly burned, the result of continued top ups of her free daily allowance, she bounces around to the piped music, vivaciously keeping order of her ‘beach side kiosk’, and after my many months of absence she rewards me with exchange of lip against cheek, knowing that not all her clients receive the same salutation as myself, I feel privileged. Such is as a civilised and modern greeting as Europeans tend to do. (Oh!  Just a thought! does brexiting the EU mean we can’t do this anymore?)  That’s bound to cause such a kerfuffle with the lovelies and the many thesbians (Sorry, I mean thespians ) …. Honestly, don’t you think it’s all gone PC mad now?

There’s now a queue a mile long, well not quite, just a few people, they like myself require our dose of Vitamin D from a fluorescent tube, we vie and laugh position for cubicles to vacate. I’m quite the happy bunny, I’ve been entrusted with an umpteen thousand pound piece of plastic in my pocket, and, to be honest, im not afraid to use it! …..

I dream of a million miles away, suddenly my raffle ticket is drawn, I’m on, it’s showtime. Time to singe my bunz and gyrate to some traditional sounding Ibizan beach folk music, and no, you cannot twerp on a lay down bed …. Or can you? … Perhaps next time!  I’m now in holiday mode, its just nine weeks away ….. and a sixtieth birthday to look forward to, watch out Mallorca, I do hope I make it?

‘Hi, I said.   ….. Staring, Chris replied ‘see you had your hair cut and your fifteen minutes of fame then ….

… Forget anything?’