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Showing posts from November, 2011

From Florida to Fowey: remembering the laughter

In June 1988 we went to Florida for three months. We lived about as far west of Fort Lauderdale as you could get at that time, in Plantation Acres, with the British artist Barry Leighton-Jones and his family.

During the day Tony painted on the terrace, taking on board Barry’s suggestions for editing and improving his composition or palette, and I made my first attempts at writing, thanks to the discovery of Natalie Goldberg’s book, Writing Down the Bonesin a local bookstore, Books Etc. As inspired as I was by her words and encouragement you wouldn’t have been able to identify that from the first entry I ever made into a little spiral notebook not much bigger than a mobile phone: The birds were tweeting. I kid you not.
At the end of most days, Barry’s wife, Andrea and I set out wine, jumbo shrimp and dip, and the four of us sat on the terrace and chatted while the kids jumped in and out of the pool with Ginger, a barmy red setter.
It was a summer of discovery and friendship, a summer of …

Plain sailing with cats. And bananas.

Chica has been living mainly under the bed since we came back from France three weeks ago – in an under-bed storage drawer on wheels filled with spare bedding. Sometimes, when I bend down to check on her, the drawer has rolled up against the skirting board, or over to the far left. Of course if I try and roll the drawer while she’s in it, she’ll get out. Cats are like that. They will never do what you want them to do, or go where you want them to go, when you want them to.

Tony says she’s a strange cat (and she does have her odd ways – she won’t sit on your lap, ever, and she plays fetch, like a dog, with elastic bands) but I think she’s just taking her own time to settle into a different house and environment: from French suburban living to the British countryside, from the screech of seagulls to the low growl of a passing train, from palm trees to apple trees. And a drop in temperature at an average of 6 or 7 degrees. To be honest, I’m having a bit of a problem with all of these thin…

Loving it: Macdonald's and crud

A man in Port Talbot, South Wales drove his car into Macdonald’s because they wouldn’t serve him in the drive-thru hatch as he was on foot. I know what you’re thinking: why didn’t he take his car into the drive-thru in the first place? The 8 pints of lager probably had something to do with it. Maybe he thought he was in his car. I picture him miming a steering wheel, tootling up to the hatch making broom-broom noises: ‘Quarter pounder with cheese, large fries. Shall I turn the engine off while I wait?’
When the staff told him to go to the restaurant he went to get his (real) car, parked it on the kerb and walked back (you can’t fix stupid) to the drive-thru hatch to make a fuss at which point they refused to serve him anywhere.
‘You'd better move yourself, I am coming in. Even if I've got to ram these doors down, I am coming in.’ That’s the voice of a man desperate for a Macdonald’s.
In true media fashion the manager was quoted as describing the situation as ‘carnage’. No, carnag…

Missed deadlines and sausages

I have been carrying this Cumberland sausage around for twenty minutes, the loops of its resealable transparent bag tangled around my fingers like a rosary.  It's jumbo size, curved to an oval and, guessing by the even colour it's been oven baked, and over-baked if I'm honest, its glistening brown skin a little wrinkled. I have clutched it up and down the aisles of Tesco's at Lunsford Park, near my home in Kent, feeling its heat and fearing even to let go of it at the checkout in case it disappeared under a pile of crumpled carrier bags. In the carpark each bag I lift into the trunk is one step closer to it. By the time I slip behind the steering wheel and close the door this sausage has developed mythical status: it is the homecoming sausage. It is all the sausages I haven't eaten during three years in France. It is the sausage to answer my prayer, assuage my cravings for a good British banger.
Of course it does not live up to expectations but some things are good…