All posts for the month August, 2006


Published August 27, 2006 by jean cohen

Scary Fairy arrived safely on Thursday morning. Vickums borrowed Pinkie’s SUV and we hied off to Gatwick to collect her and her two immense suitcases. (She’s only staying two weeks. I had two suitcases for six months.) The Irish Lad was also enroute to Gatwick to pick up relatives from Dublin who were coming for the Arrival Do for Mary on the Last Bank Holiday Weekend After Jeano Stayed. Thanks to mobile technology, we were in constant communication all the way, and agreed to meet up for coffee at the Arrivals Hall. Amazingly, amidst the 68,000 Arabs simultaneously deplaning from Jihad Airways flights, we all met up, with cries of "Terry!", "Vickie!", "Mary!", "Jeano!", "Goth Relatives from Dublin!".

We were introduced by Ter (ry) to Gav, Ger, and Taz (apparently it’s illegal in Ireland to have more than three letters in your first name) and were quite ready to sit down for a long natter over coffee. The Irish Lad had other plans, however, and said, "Well, we’re off then", leaving us caffeine-deprived. (When called on this shocking behaviour later, in the Grotto, Ter(ry) did promise to stand us all for lattes at Starbucks the next morning; As if..)

We arrived at mine, and I made coffee (Note to Ter(ry) – Na! Na!) . Mary started unpacking the huge suitcase (it resembled a Volkswagon Golf) and honesty compels me to admit that all of the crap in it was stuff I asked her to get me. And, of course, as Mary is American, she had brought lots of thoughtful gifts for my mates. Oh…and the alcohol, which she had somehow managed to get on the plane and which she tried to flog for 10 quid a bottle at the Grotto Thursday night.

In order to adjust to the time difference, Mary valiantly stayed awake all day. It might have just been excitement about going to Live Music that night and seeing Leechy again. More on Mary’s love life later. We had a relaxing afternoon strolling the High Street and went home to primp for our evening at the Grotto. After several outfit changes (I mean Scary Fairy. Robbie Lee wasn’t playing; I just wore my favorite ratty jeans). We went up early to dine on Thai Food and whilst eating, I just had to break the terrible news to Mary. And to you, my faithful readers. Leechy is getting married. To Shirley! And since Shirley is banned from the Grotto, (a tiny incident involving a glass thrown at a certain bartender) Leechy doesn’t pop in any more. Alas, there was little chance Mary would have an opportunity to change Darling David’s mind.

Paul Stroble played brilliantly, as always. And he managed not to sing "Sweet Home F*cking Alabama", despite numerous requests from the habitual piss-takers. Mary seemed to have a nice time, and appeared to recover somewhat from the distressing news about Leechy. In fact, she and Ter(ry) generated quite a bit of shock and probably gossip, as they walked home down Monument Hill at closing HOLDING HANDS.



Published August 19, 2006 by jean cohen

It’s less than a week now until Scary Fairy invades the British Isles. The panic at the airports seems to have abated somewhat, although carry-on luggage appears to still be a problem. In a convo the other night, Mary has decided to forego the ten bottles of Isopropyl Alcohol ($.84 a bottle at Target) she was bringing as "Hostess Gifts." Really, what hostess wouldn’t be simply thrilled to have her very own bottle of alcohol to display in her Drinks Cupboard, next to the Pimm’s? As long as she crams all MY stuff in her luggage.

On Thursday afternoon, Julie rang to say that she’d gotten a last minute singing gig and would have to miss Live Music. I wandered up Monument Hill to meet the rest of the gang, and sitting at the first table outside the Grotto was none other than Robbie Lee! (All those anonymous calls to the Grotto demanding Robbie obviously paid off.) I attempted to be extremely cool, and almost ended up as Road Pizza as I looked the wrong way (again) and was almost mowed down by a Sainsbury’s delivery van. Once safely across the road, Robbie greeted me with a huge hug and a snog. Sadly, I acted like a besotted teenager, much the same as the time I ran into Peter Noone (from Herman’s Hermits) shopping in Wanamaker’s. That’s another story.

Anyway, Robbie was awesome, singing "I Shot the Sheriff", "Hotel California" and "my" song, "Daydream Believer" for me. He did get a little annoyed with me at one point, and said, "Jeano. Put that mobile away." (I was texting everybody little messages like "Robbie is wearing a blue shirt" or "Robbie looks REALLY HOT" or "Robbie got a haircut!". It seemed important at the time. In a "Twilight Zone" moment…I firmly believe in the space-time continuim, astral planes, and that the Starship Enterprise is really, really out there in space cruising at Warp 8…just as I was reading a text from Karen hoping Robbie would not be singing "Sweet Home You Know Where", Colleen, at the next table with a raucous group of fellow Americans (Jesus Wept! They’re everywhere.) Yelled out, "Jeano wants to hear "Sweet Home Yada Yada". Darling Robbie said "Jeano, do you want me to sing "Sweet Home…" "Hell, no" I replied. "I HATE that song." "What I really want is to shag you senseless." Well. Okay, I didn’t actually SAY that. But I could have as I was under the influence of several shooters provided by Jim Sole and Ginger Steve, and my judgment was seriously impaired.

In another one of those British vs. American language misunderstandings, when introduced to a lovely bloke as Caroline’s "M.D.", I thought "How neat is that to go out with your doctor?" Chatting him up, I flirtatiously enquired "What’s your specialty?" thinking perhaps he’d be interested in hearing all about my colorful medical history in excruciating detail. He looked at me a bit oddly, and replied "Cider". Hmm. I knew I shouldn’t have had those last three shooters. Cider? Was that a code for a British disease, like Mad Cow or Cheddar-phobia? Or did he perhaps have an off-license attached to his surgery (that’s what they call doctors’ offices on this side of the Pond)? Our convo got interrupted at this point, and Vickums clarified things later on. It seems he’s the Managing Director of the Cider Division. Oops.


Published August 15, 2006 by jean cohen

I woke up in the middle of the night to a startling realization. I must have been dreaming, but I don’t recall any details. I just sat up in bed, and I was so surprised I said out loud, "190 degrees is 325!" Honestly, sometimes my keen observations on living in England even astonish me. Every time I popped a Marks & Sparks ready-meal into the oven, I had to go searching for my reading specs or else try and decipher the teeny-tiny print sans glasses. It always seemed to be 190 degrees. Well, okay, if the directions say "190 degrees for 18 minutes" I’ll give it a shot, even though at 190 degrees it should be barely warmed by Boxing Day. Strangely, in 18 or so minutes, the stuff would actually be hot. Hence the revelation that I’m actually heating at 325 degrees, but in a sneaky British way, in order to confuse Americans, they changed the numbers around.

This is true. The Brits have their very own thermometer, which is called "Celsius", after some member of the Royal Family. As we say here in Blighty, "the penny dropped." Naturally, the aforementioned dropped penny is a British one, not the one with Honest Abe on it. THAT’s why my knit tops shrank after washing them in 90 degrees. (Let’s not even discuss how many milliliters of soap powder one should use when washing.) THAT’s why the house resembles a sub-zero freezer when running Giovanni. And when my mates would whinge "Bloody Hell! It must be 35 degrees today", I would think "Yeah, right. I think you meant like 95 degrees… in the shade." Sometimes I think people here deliberately set out to confuse me.

I mentioned my revelation to Karen, who decided to come ‘round to mine and teach me how to cook a traditional "Sunday roast." For some reason, she thinks a bag of Doritos and a pizza is not a proper meal, even if the pizza has vegetables on it. We dropped Stuart Hall off at the Grotto to watch footy with his mates, and headed off to Tesco to buy some "fresh" food. There is a whole section of Tesco’s with stuff that’s not already cooked and ready to be put in a pre-heated 190 degree oven. Who knew? The first stop was fresh, organic veg. As I understand it, "organic" means that the stuff was grown by Prince Charles and fertilized only with Royal poop. We couldn’t find a "joint", so we settled for some Cumberland sausages, and got some roasting potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and onions to "make" onion gravy. Clearly, this Sunday roast business is as complex as making a nuclear bomb.

Back at mine, Karen busied herself pulling out pots and chopping and slicing. I made coffee. One interesting discovery was that the utensil I’ve been using to strain pasta is really a vegetable steamer. I’m not clear on what a steamer has to do with vegetables. This led to a little demonstration of the odd gadgets dotting the kitchen counter. There is one called a "potato masher". Since potatoes are already mashed and just need to be popped into a preheated 190 degree oven for eighteen minutes, it seems like overkill to me to mash them again.

Dinner was lovely, and maybe I will wow Mary whilst she’s visiting with a traditional Sunday roast. I hear they do a nice one at Sullivan’s.


Published August 11, 2006 by jean cohen

It’s a different day, but the same old story. Threats of terrorism on airplanes flying from London to the States will certainly keep me settled in Weybridge for the foreseeable future. I admit I’m a chicken-shit. Kudos to Mary, however, who is still crossing the pond in two weeks. In an email yesterday, she did wonder if perhaps SHE was on the terrorists’ list, as shit always happens right around the time she’s visiting. I was able to assure her that I was the soul of discretion whilst doing business in the Weybridge Mosque, Post Office and Garage, which is a daily stopwhilst shopping on the High Street. At least now nobody at Security will be worrying about how many cartons of fags she’s bringing, but I fear my alcohol must be left at home.

I got a lovely letter from those wonderful folks at the American Embassy yesterday. I registered with them when I arrived as a long-term visitor.

Frankly, I wasn’t very reassured. Reading between the lines, it seems like, at the first sign of trouble, they can close the Embassy and all go on paid holiday to Tenerife. Basically, this was their advice:

U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security.

I think what this probably refers to is not riding the underground, wearing a "Born in the USA" shirt, whistling the National Anthem. Don’t worry. I certainly won’t be calling attention to my American-ness in London any time soon.

Although it’s also old news, I’m STILL getting mail on the "Cowardly ex-friend" blog. "Oh to be in England" gets about 350 hits a week, according to my MSN Space statistics. Anyway, this was a comment from someone I do know, and it was quite unexpected and very funny. Basically, she suggested that I have a bale of hay delivered to the ex-friend’s house, to "feed her (high) horse".

Life in Weybridge continues to be brilliant. I had lunch with Eileen the other day, tea with Allison, and last night was Live Music. The singer was Rory McManus, who is Elvis Costello’s cousin. This is true. He was pretty good. Also young and kinda cute. It was a very good crowd, including a friend of Vickums called "Ginger Steve". In that oh so peculiar "british" style, the bloke doesn’t have ginger hair, and his name is Tony. I had dinner before Music with Julie. After "much discernment" (about five seconds), I decided to end our friendship. Julie confessed that she is going on holiday to ROBBIE LEE’S FLAT in Spain. Fortunately, for Julie, she is not going with Robbie; she’s going with his wife, who is a good friend. (She has no idea how close she came to being stabbed with a chicken tikka skewer.) I did forgive her by the end of the evening. Things always seem better after a few glasses of Zinfy. And I am certainly NOT the sort of person who bears grudges, am I?


Published August 7, 2006 by jean cohen

What a FUN time I had at the weekend! Lulu came to mine on Friday for a girls’ night and stayed over. We met Clare and Ed at the Grotto for drinks, as Lulu hadn’t seen them for ages. Jarvo is in the States on business. When the pub closed, we came home, changed into our pj’s, opened another bottle of Zinfy, and sat up nattering until the wee hours.

Saturday, as noted in the previous blog, Lou and Karen came over for a barbecue, and Lou installed darling Giovanni. As a thank you for his many kindnesses, I bought Lou a compilation of Beatles CDs. Lou had mentioned in a convo that he had NO Beatles CDs, which is shocking and shows a singular lack of musical "je ne sais quoi." Lou was quite chuffed, and commented, "I guess I know what we’ll be listening to on the way to Scotland." "Dearest Stuart", I replied, "I can’t stop myself from singing along to Beatles songs really, really loud." "Oh" he sniffed. "I guess I’ll just play them at home."

On Sunday morning, Vickums rang up, looking for some proper American "cawfee" and some serious Scrabble. I have taught her well. We had three really tough games.

Sunday night was Live Music. It was a new singer, a Scottish bloke called Steve Humberts. Vickums and I met Caroline at the Grotto. Thoughtful Caroline had pre-ordered our drinks so that we didn’t have to waste a precious moment.

Monkey Joe was there, apparently on a pass from Helen. Colleen said he’d been there since about 3:00, and, wow, could you tell. He immediately grabbed me, and insisted we dance. He would not let me sit down. I think we danced the entire first set.

After the singer’s break, Monkey decided that he and I should sing. This part is all really true. He had me in a clinch, and ordered Steve Humberts to play "American Pie", which we belted out for the crowd. I am black and blue from Monkey’s grip (he doesn’t realize how strong he is). He would not go of me. And he kept squeezing my ass. I absolutely adore Monkey, but he’s a bit difficult when he’s wasted.

Fortunately, for my sanity, Leechy chose that particular moment to take a header into the fireplace on his return from the Gents’, Naturally, things got a bit hectic as all the blokes attempted to right all 6′ of comatose Dave, as well as pick up the logs and furniture that had gone flying everywhere. In the confusion, I was able to go hide in the Ladies and recover my dignity.

Scottish guy was pretty good, and quite attractive, I thought. Of course, he’s no Robbie Lee. Note to Grotto: Where the hell IS Robbie Lee? As previously mentioned, I was indisposed on Thursday night, and missed Live Music. The act was Bad Influence, whom I’d seen once before, so I didn’t really miss anything. The consensus is that they should be deported, to Croatia or one of those places.


Published August 6, 2006 by jean cohen

Giovanni and I are sitting in our Lounge. I am wearing an arran jumper, fuzzy socks, and I’m snuggled under my throw rug. It’s bloody brilliant!

Friday morning, the phone rang and it was those wonderful folks from Argos, asking if they could come ‘round and deliver my air conditioner. Guess you figured out that I said, "Too bloody right, mate!" The big blue lorry pulled into Rede Court and I had the door open before the delivery guy had even rung the bell. All I had to say was "Good Morning" and Delivery Guy turns to his assistant and goes, "Well that says it all, mate." "Whatcha mean?" ask I. "You’re American", he replies. I guess the last time Argos sold an air conditioner was around the time of the Queen’s coronation. I was so excited I could have snogged Delivery Guy. Hell, I would have shagged Delivery Guy and Assistant Delivery Guy! Well….maybe not. They weren’t especially cute.

Anyway, on Saturday, Karen and Stuart Hall came over for a barbecue, and to install Giovanni. I have named my air conditioner Giovanni, after dearest Grandpop, the Italian citizen. Giovanni is quite peculiar looking. He looks like a dehumidifier, about 3′ tall, with a hose that gets vented out a window. He is white. Note to politically correct readers: White is his colour, not his race or ethnic heritage, sort of like black cab drivers.

I immediately sent a text to everyone saying, "I’m FREEZING! I have an air conditioner and you don’t! Ha Ha!" Oddly, no one replied. It is meant to get very hot again this week, so I think I shall be VERY popular. I am sure Giovanni and I will be blissfully happy together.

I did have a little bit of a pause for reflection. Coming back from the loo, I overheard Karen and Lou discussing "how to get rid of Jeano" and nick all "her stuff". Possible methods included pushing me into Loch Ness on our upcoming foray to the highlands, or an anonymous tip to the Home Office about the multi-national drug ring I’m running out of my garage. Obviously, I will have to be on my guard whilst near the bonny, bonny banks of any bodies of water..




Published August 4, 2006 by jean cohen

The weather has changed, and it’s cold and rainy here. Not that I’m complaining. I will never whinge about cooler weather again, especially since I’ve been seeing the news from the States, and it’s triple digits at home. Of course, you do have air conditioning. Mine is still back-ordered from Argos.

It was a week of birthday celebrations, commencing with a lovely dinner party at Paula’s on Saturday night. On Sunday, I was invited to a barbecue at Ed and Claire’s (fabulous Killer Hamburgers courtesy of Ed). After dinner, we all went off to the Grotto for live music. It was Scratch and Jane (Mrs. Scratch), and as Ed is an Aussie, he felt compelled to go and root for the home team. The regular crowd was there, including Leechy and his new girlfriend, who put on quite a show on the dance floor. It was NOT a pretty sight. She actually gave Monkey Joe a lap dance! Poor Monkey. He looked like he’d rather be home getting yelled at by Helen. In a convo with Scary Fairy, she has assured me that when she arrives she intends to reclaim her rightful property (Leechy) as she believes they got engaged last year on a Thursday night – at live music – whilst dancing. My somewhat fuzzy recollection of the night in question was that she got engaged…but to Spanish Joe, who promised to ride his motorcycle to New Jersey and find her. It’s a telling fact that everybody thought that was sooo romantic, not to mention difficult given the fact there’s a pesky ocean in the way. Leechy was there; but as far as I know, he was talking about jellied eels or Ralph Lauren. (They sound exactly the same.)

Tuesday night, the girls and I went out to dinner. Vickums, Pinkie, Karen, Caroline, Claire, and Julie, with whom I’ve gotten quite chummy. We met at the Grotto (where else?) for a drink. I received birthday snogs from all the blokes, and some lovely cards and presents. Pinkie and Vickums gave me a huge book -The History of the British Monarchy – which I can’t wait to read, and Karen gave me some awesome CDs. Pinkie found the perfect birthday card! It’s Liberace, wearing this red, white and blue nightmare outfit, and the caption says "Betsy Ross?" "I banged her for this outfit" This, of course, was a tribute to my American roots, as well as a subtle reference to an earlier blog which referenced the Betsy Ross Bridge. Sorry. You’ll just have to go back and read them all again.

We had a lovely dinner at ASK, with lots of wine, a cake, candle and singing of Happy Birthday, as well as congrats to Julie (who bought a flat) and Pinkie (who got her degree with a 2.1 and HONOURS.) Note to Yanks: 2.1 is very good. I know you’re thinking 2.1 out of a 4.0 GPA… doesn’t work like that. I got all teary and nostalgic and made everybody listen again to the story of "How Jeano Ended up in Weybridge." Some people were mumbling that maybe Jeano should go back to America already, but I’m sure they were just taking the piss. After dinner, it was back to the Grotto for more drinks. Pinkie and I stumbled down Monument Hill, and I went home and fell into bed.

Wednesday night Lulu and Helicopter came over from Wokingham for a birthday dinner (Thai food) at the Grotto. More gorgeous presents and cards, and a heavenly cake. I like birthdays in England. That sounds like quite enough celebrating, but no. On Thursday, Paula and I went to Hampstead for a brilliant birthday luncheon at Eileen’s. As always, Eileen had an elegant spread, with never-ending champagne. More cards and presents, and another cake. I was so birthdayed-out, I didn’t even make it up to the Grotto on Thursday night for live music.