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All posts for the month July, 2006

NEGATIVITY

Published July 26, 2006 by jean cohen

Another hot week in Weybridge, and Argos has back-ordered my air-conditioner. Too bad, really, as I would have more than paid for it the first night with all the people who booked a slot on the floor in my lounge. I’m going to store all 72 air mattresses I borrowed in the garage.

I have thought of another money-making scheme. In a casual conversation, I learned that Isopropyl Alcohol is NOT sold over the counter here. It requires a prescription, and costs over 10 quid a bottle. Mary has been duly instructed to ditch some of the "Leechy-catching" outfits she was bringing and bring three or four cases of alcohol from Walgreen’s ($.89 per bottle). Note to Mary: Just tell Immigration you have a phobia about foreign toilet seats. Additional note to Mary: Immigration is VERY suspicious of Americans. They may ask why you’ve visited England twice in two years. Just tell them you’re a gourmand and can’t get enough English cuisine.

Obviously, it’s not the "done thing" here to discuss earning money so crassly. But I have a particular use in mind for the spare cash, but I can’t tell you. Oh…I guess I can. Blogs are private, aren’t they? I’m saving up to hire Robbie Lee for a gig. A private one…in my garden…with Robbie just wearing his guitar.

"Normal" friend Mary’s visit is getting closer. Or as I refer to her..Scary Fairy. In addition to her request to see 73 more castles and cathedrals, we’re off to Scotland to do a hands on study of Men in Kilts. Anthropology has always been a hobby of Mary’s. There is also the huge party Terry and Pinkie are hosting for her, albeit they refer to it as "the Last Bank Holiday Party After Jeano stayed." And the obligatory jaunt to the theatre in London. I’m sure Mary will do some "guest" blogging whilst she’s here.

Otherwise, it’s business as usual here, with visits from my friends, meeting friends for: a) coffee; b) lunch; c) dinner; d) drinkies. Next week is my birthday, and several Dos are planned, so I’m sure I’ll have lots to write about.

I got lots of mail on the Cowardly Ex-Friend blog. Gee, I wish I’d thought of some of those responses to email back. Unfortunately, she doesn’t do emails, except, obviously, for the one where she didn’t have the mettle to confront me directly. My particular favorite was from my friend, Tombstones, who advised sending an email stating "Your "Dear John" email is in front of me in the smallest room in my house (the bathroom). Soon, it will be behind me,"

Second place goes to Cousin-by-marriage John, who sent a treatise on "Negative People". I’m reproducing it here.

 

This is something to think about when negative people are doing their best to rain on your parade. So remember this story the next time someone who knows nothing and cares less tries to make your life miserable.

 

A woman was at her hairdresser’s getting her hair styled for a trip to

Rome with her husband. She mentioned the trip to the hairdresser, who
responded: "Rome?
Why would anyone want to go there? It’s crowded and dirty. You’re
crazy to go to Rome. So, how are you getting there?"

"We’re taking Continental," was the reply. "We got a great rate!"

"Continental?" exclaimed the hairdresser. "That’s a terrible airline.
Their planes are old, their flight attendants are rude, and they’re always late.
So, where are you staying in Rome?"

"We’ll be at this exclusive little place over on Rome’s Tiber River called Teste."

"Don’t go any further. I know that place. Everybody thinks its going
to be something special and exclusive, but it’s really a dump, the worst hotel in the city! The rooms are small, the service is surly and they’re overpriced.
So, whatcha’ doing when you get there?"

"We’re going to go to see the Vatican and we hope to see the Pope."

"That’s rich," laughed the hairdresser. "You and a million other
people trying to see him. He’ll look the size of an ant. Boy, good luck on this lousy trip of yours. You’re going to need it."

A month later the woman again came in again to get her hair done. The hairdresser asked her about her trip to Rome.

"It was wonderful," explained the woman, "not only were we on time in one of Continental’s brand new planes, but it was overbooked and they bumped us up to first class. The food and wine were wonderful, and I had a handsome 28-year-old steward who waited on me hand and foot.

And the hotel was great! They’d just finished a $5 million remodeling
job and now it’s a jewel, the finest hotel in the city. They, too, were overbooked so they apologized and gave us their owner’s suite at no extra charge!"
"Well," muttered the hairdresser, "that’s all well and good, but I know you didn’t get to see the Pope."

"Actually, we were quite lucky, because as we toured the Vatican, a Swiss Guard tapped me on the shoulder, and explained that the Pope likes to meet some of the visitors, and if I’d be so kind as to step into his private room and wait, the Pope would personally greet me.
Sure enough, five minutes later, the Pope walked through the door and shook my hand! I knelt down and he spoke a few words to me."

"Oh really! What’d he say?"

He said: "Where’d you get that shitty hairdo?

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YOU GOTTA HAVE FRIENDS

Published July 22, 2006 by jean cohen

It was certainly a week to forget. Coupled with the miserable heat, I had to deal with problems on the home front long distance. The carefully thought out custody arrangements have fallen apart, and Marina has opted to live with the most inappropriate person on the entire planet. So be it.

Unfortunately, there was a lot of collateral damage. Most distressing was a cold and, frankly, very mean-spirited email from my (now former) best friend announcing that "after much discernment, she has chosen to end our friendship." How cowardly is that? A "Dear John" email. Wow! Thirty-some years of highs and lows, joys and sorrows, achievements and failures, and I’ve been "discerned" to the trash heap. I’m not even sure what actually transpired on that end. What I’ve been able to piece together is the usual scenario of innuendo, half-truths and outright lies, which is the way my daughter has always dealt with situations.

What I’m finding hard to accept is "being weighed in the balance and found wanting." We all live our lives the best we can. And all of us surely have things we regret or wish we had done differently. Carrying on the biblical theme, "He who is without sin…" Or lets go with "Don’t judge a man until you walk a mile in his moccasins" or however that one goes. How incredibly arrogant and judgmental! Is one supposed to abjectly apologize saying "I’m so sorry I chose to take my life in the direction I wanted"? Or, perhaps, "I’m so sorry I haven’t lived up to YOUR standards. " I thought friendship was about accepting friends, warts and all. Obviously, I missed Rule Number Whatever in the Friendship for Dummies manual, which states "If you do something I don’t approve of, I’ll dump you."

Well. Sorry for the rant. Despite the "hiccups" in the States, I am happy with me and where I am.

I’ll end today with a quote from Kahlil Gibran’s "The Prophet" dedicated to my friends with "normal" expectations and ex-friends playing by a their own, different set of rules.

 

And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.

For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery

is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.

If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.

HOT, HOT, HOT

Published July 19, 2006 by jean cohen

GROUCHY! That’s the mood at Jeano’s this week. The temperature has been in the 90’s for several days, with no relief in sight. If one more British mate tells me "we don’t need air-conditioning for the two or three hot days a year…" I will scream. Anybody with sense knows that central air is higher on the list of "must haves" than sex, food, or diamonds. I’m thinking of getting some air conditioners and charging 20 quid a night to sleep on the floor at mine. I’ll be making a profit in a week.

Robbie Lee disappointed me greatly on Sunday night. The evening started off well, with a huge snog from Music Guy when I got to the Grotto. And, of course, he sang "I Shot the Sheriff" for me. I was in Lust. But Lou, who can’t stop taking the piss out of me, getting screaming "S***t H**e Alfuckingbama." Note to Lou: our engagement is off. Even though I begged him not to, Robbie sang it. I was so annoyed I didn’t even invite him over when the pub closed.

Social plans have been postponed until it cools down. Who wants to take a bloody hot train to bloody hot London to eat in a bloody hot restaurant? Wow! I really am grouchy. Even at the Tea Bar, I found it hard to be nice to the old dears asking for a "nice cup of tea." "Sorry" I replied to poor Charlie, "but your cup of tea is quite incorrigible today ." Fortunately, Charlie is quite hard of hearing.

After suffering another day, I’ve done what any sensible American would do. I bought a bloody air conditioner. It will be here next week. Reservations for floor http://www.Jeano.is.cool.and.you’re.notSpace in my lounge can be booked online at www.Jeano’s.cool.but.you’re.not.co.uk.

SITTING IN AN ENGLISH GARDEN

Published July 16, 2006 by jean cohen

I’ve had several complaints this week that I’ve been lazy about blogging. Sorrree!

Actually, it’s been a ordinary week in Weybridge; drinkies with Allison, lunch with Paula, drinkies with Lulu (at mine), drinkies, dinner and Scrabble with Vickums, drinkies and Live Music with Julie, AA Meeting with all of the above (that was a joke).

Last Sunday, I met Julie Clifton, who is one of the singers who does Live Music, for drinks at the Grotto. Because of the World Cup Final(ly over), it was at 4:30. The singer was Paul Strobel, whom I quite like, usually. Unfortunately, even though Vickie wasn’t there to scream out the same bloody request, he sang Sweet Home Alabama. Jesus Wept! I hate that song. Large, sweaty blokes started turning up about 6:30 to watch the footy, so I went home. I should, of course, congratulate Team Italia, now that I’m a citizen. Terry, was that not the most brilliant P.K. ever?

Thursday, it was back to the Grotto for Scratch and Mrs. Scratch. Have I mentioned Scratch before? He’s the Maori bloke from New Zealand. Mrs. Scratch is English. The best part of Scratch’s performance is that Mrs. Scratch’s mother always comes with, and sits in a corner by herself grooving to the music. It’s hilarious.

OOOH! I have some salacious, really mean gossip to share. Not that I ever gossip…Leechy has a girlfriend! They were at the Grotto Thursday night. Honestly, they were all over each other, snogging and cuddling. I know. That’s a frightening scene to picture. And they DANCED. Anyone who’s had the misfortune to dance with Leechy knows what that’s about. I quickly texted Mary with the news so that she could stop buying new clothes for her impending visit meant to wow Dearest David. You could hear a pint glass drop in the pub when Leechy stumbled to the Gents’. The girls quickly got a pool going on whether he would: a) remember to zip up; b) remember to zip down BEFORE starting; c) pee all over his shoes like usual; and d) would Shirley still be in the mood to snog after. That was the exact moment that Terry came over to whisper in my ear, sort of tripped, and, completely by accident, grabbed my boob. By the time I gathered my wits about me, it was last call and Leechy and Shirley had carried each other out.

Back to Scratch, he’s now on my shit list because he did…Sweet Home Alabama. Colleen and Katie, the daughters of the owners, were there, and Katie, who feels the same way about Alabama as me, went around to everybody earnestly trying to explain that Alabama is not "sweet"; it’s more like "Deliverance." Nobody cared.

Oddly, I’ve been a tad homesick this week. Since I don’t actually have a home at home, if you know what I mean, I’m not sure what I’m homesick for. It’s Lou’s fault. He burned a Simon & Garfunkle CD for me and "America" always gets to me, especially that part about "..counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike." Plus I got some awful news from home. No. Not about E.C. About my favourite cousin.

Anyway, Karen and Lou came over on Saturday and we barbecued. Lou got some excellent snaps of me frying onions as absolute proof that I CAN cook. It was another learning experience for me, as I now know what "hobs" are. I had thought that hobs grew in the garden, next to the rhubarbs. That’s just British-speak for the "burners" on your cooker (stove). We cranked up the stereo and sat in the garden until it got too cold. It was a lovely day.

Tonight is Live Music. OHMYGOD! It’s Robbie Lee! I’ve been thinking about what to wear all week. I just pray he doesn’t sing Sweet Home You Know Where.

CITTADINA DE ITALIA

Published July 9, 2006 by jean cohen

It’s hard to believe, I know, but I had no social obligations on Friday. Finally, a day to go through the stack of accumulated mail, wash clothes, and tidy up my little house. As often as I leave dirty cups in the sink, the Washing Up Fairy never turns up to do the dishes.

When Jerry began to lose his battle with cancer, I started to have really weird dreams. About when I was little, about the old neighborhood, and about my grandpop. They weren’t scary dreams or nightmares. They were just odd, in that time was amok. I was a grownup and Grandpop was there at Aunt Tootsie’s house on Reese Street. I was three when he died, and we all moved out of the old neighborhood years ago. In fact, it’s all Puerto Rican now. I would recount the dreams to Jerry every morning, and, finally, he dragged me out one day for a Magical Mystery Tour of the old neighborhood. With me navigating, we saw the house where my mom and her brothers and sisters grew up, Aunt Tootsie’s house (where Grandpop died), our parish church, and other memorable landmarks from my youth. The point of this rambling is that thanks to Grandpop, I’m an Italian citizen.

I consulted a solicitor about my pesky little problem with the Home Office and my visa. We discussed various options available – Note to Stuart Hall: Thanks for the marriage proposal – and she asked what my ethnic heritage is. I told her I was Italian, and she said, "Well, there you go. Apply for dual citizenship." She explained that I could get an Italian passport, without having to forfeit any of my rights as an American citizen, and that as a citizen of a European Union country, I could enter Britain at will for as long as I wanted (dropping by Passport Control, hopefully, to give the Scottish cow a real friendly American double bird.)

The solicitor gave me some information on how to do the research I needed, and sure enough, based on the criteria for the maternal line, I’m a citizen of Italy. Actually, all of my cousins are too, since Grandpop never became an American citizen. I’m in the process of gathering all the birth, death, marriage, etc. certificates I need. As I am not sure I believe in the Great Beyond, I do find it a bit eerie that I was dreaming about Grandpop, whom I don’t even really remember, when Jerry and I first started talking about me coming to Britain. It’s almost as though Grandpop knew I was going to need him.

And speaking of Italy, Forza Italia, the best (and cutest) little soccer team in the World Cup, has reached the final. They are playing France today. Six of the French starters are over 30, which means they should stop wearing little shorts. The Italian players, meanwhile, are staying in a cozy hotel in Duisburg, which sent all their female employees on vacation to "minimize distractions", if you know what I’m saying. That Alberto! That Fabio! That Francesco (whose P,K. – that’s right, Terry, his P.K.- beat Australia! And Coach Marcello! Of course, now that I’m an Italian citizen, I shall be watching and rooting for the home team. Mama Mia! I hope it doesn’t come down to those bloody P.Ks.

FLY ME TO THE MOON

Published July 7, 2006 by jean cohen

On Wednesday, Paula, Vickie and I went into London to meet Eileen. Upon our arrival at Waterloo, my intrepid British friends convinced me it was perfectly safe to take the tube to Oxford Circus, despite the anniversary of the 7/7 Bombings last year, and new warnings this year. I would have preferred getting a black cab driver…are you paying attention? This means a man of any colour driving a black cab, which, of course, is not always black. Anyway, we took the tube, and I kept a sharp eye out for any dark-skinned people wearing thick overcoats (it was about 95 degrees). My self-preservation technique on public transportation in the City is to say absolutely nothing except the word "No", which I can now say in a perfect upper class accent. I sound just like Camilla, when Charles comes home to the royal residence after a day of playing polo and talking to his organic plants feeling amorous. Paula and Vickie nattered, and I said "No!", or "No?", or "you Know" a lot.

We met Eileen at the Palladium, and bypassing the queues of ordinary theatre-goers, were escorted to the Royal Box, which we had engaged. Um. Actually, that’s true. We did have the Royal Box. I had practiced at home in front of a mirror, and was able to carry off giving a little royal wave to the peons in the cheap seats quite well.

Francis Albert was brilliant! He gets better looking all the time. Seriously, the show was phenomenal. It’s difficult to explain how it works, but Sinatra is up there on jumbo screens, and the dancers sort of interpret the songs. It’s definitely worth seeing.

After the show, as a surprise treat, Eileen’s driver picked us up, and she took us to the Ritz for champagne. It was another first for me as, despite having been to London so many times, I had never been to the Ritz. It was as posh as I had imagined. Jesus Wept! I’m having a ball!

After several glasses of champers, I was able to convince Paula and Vickie that we should get a black cab driver to take us back to Waterloo. (The driver was white and the cab was lavender; if you’re keeping score at home.)

INDEPENDENCE DAY…WEYBRIDGE STYLE

Published July 6, 2006 by jean cohen

Sunday was my long-anticipated Independence Day barbecue. The Party Shop on the High Street had a small section of American decorations, so Karen and I were able to decorate the garden walls with flag bunting, and stars and stripes tablecloths and napkins. I had downloaded a selection of patriotic music, including Kate Smith singing "God Bless America", but my mates threatened to go home if I played them. I had planned on locking all the exit doors and singing the Star Spangled Banner but good sense prevailed as (a) NOBODY deserves to hear me singing and (b) even really good singers generally mangle the National Anthem (it’s a difficult one to sing.)

I wore my American flag shirt, but Lou stole the scene in a Born in the USA tee shirt, that he had altered to read NOT Born in the USA. He had also downloaded some party music, including The Clash’s "I’m so Bored With the USA" which got played an awful lot. Even though I love being in England, I am proud of being an American,

Although it was difficult to get the proper fixings, I insisted on an American menu; hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken, potato salad, cole slaw, and apple pie (courtesy of Vickie, who made it in the 95+ heat) and ice cream. Although the hot dogs didn’t taste like the one’s at home, I think it all worked as a traditional 4th of July event.

I must give a special "thank you" to Terry, who manned the barbecue. It was unbearably hot, but Terry was gracious and cooked for hours, including firing up the barbecue again at 10:00 at night for another batch of burgers and hotdogs. Note to Pinkie: A Computer Guy who barbecues….definitely a keeper.

As well as my friends, I’d invited my next door neighbours, as they could hardly miss the fact that 15 or so people were milling around my garden all day. I also thought "What the hell" and invited the hunky (single) guy two doors up, who used to be married to Sharon from the Slug & Lettuce (I LOVE small towns). THIS IS TRUE: He brought HIS MOTHER. I think I know why he’s no longer married to Sharon from the Slug & Lettuce.

Despite the fact that England had been knocked out of the World Cup due to those pesky P.K.’s, everyone was happy and it was a lovely barbecue. Since World Cup action will continue until somebody wins, or the entire world dies of boredom, we ladies rated the teams. France: Not as cute as you’d expect. Germany: ugly, ugly, ugly. Portugal: Not bad, but the Forward should do something about that hair. Italy: Those thighs! Those tight little buns! Those Abs! Mama Mia!