All posts for the month November, 2006


Published November 29, 2006 by jean cohen

It’s been another round of Leaving Dos this week, as I prepare to leave the United Kingdom, once again. Not to fly home; Weybridge is home, as Cheese Boy keeps reminding me. "Philadelphia Girl" (his latest name for me) "You are home."

Next week I shall be an exile, somewhere in the North Atlantic.

I am unaccustomed to not having my every desire and whim satisfied immediately. I don’t like being told "no" when I want something, and I particularly didn’t like hearing it from the British government. They probably should have checked with Jerry, via seance, to hear all about the ‘Wrath of Cohen’ when I don’t get my own way.

I would snarl: "You’ll be sorry!" but that would probably sound juvenile. Screw that. "You’ll be sorry!" (Said in a very snarly American accent.)

I’m primarily concerned that all this crossing the pond business and Leaving Dos will result, exponentially, in less extravagant Arrival Dos when I return. As if I didn’t have enough on my mind, what with hot Evil Nazis and blog editing chores.

I am coffee-d, tea-d, and lunch-d out. Luckily, I am not Zinfandel-d out yet, but I expect this will happen on Friday night, when we celebrate Cheese Boy’s birthday at the Grotto. Honestly, I don’t know why the people here are not just born at their local, to save on commuting time and parking. My present to the Birthday Boy: a cheese fondue set, and the ‘Deluxe Cheese of the Month’ package from the Wisconsin Cheesemaker.

My fellow Tea Ladies had a lovely luncheon for me at Hester’s house. Who knew those girls could party so hearty? Luncheon finished around 8:00 at night. However, Allison was driving, and she knows where I live. Lots of tears, and lovely Parting Gifts.

There was a special luncheon at the Senior Center, too. Fortunately, my food did not get run through the Industrial-sized Blender before hand. I got to chew it myself. All my ‘old dears’ said goodbye. There were coffee dates, and a lavish Breakfast Party at my friend Netta’s house.

In another of those ‘Twilight Zone’ moments, when Peter, who is a particular favorite, was paying for his sausage roll and ‘nice’ cup of tea, I looked at the coins he handed me, and said:

"Peter, this is a quarter, not a 10p."

"Are you sure?" he asked. "It looks like a 10p to me."

"Trust me, Peter. I’m American. I know a bleeding quarter when I see one. See George Washington’s little head and his tiny wooden teeth?" (A bit of fabrication on my part, I know.)

"I say! Well, you keep it, Jeano, and spend it in America."

"Ta, Peter. Now can I have the 10p?"

Gee. How much does a pack of Juicy Fruit cost in the States these days?

In another odd coincidence, Paula and Jack are going to America. For three months. That’s all they’re allowed to stay. The US of A does not hand out visas willy-nilly to dangerous subversives from the United Kingdom. Note to readers: That was an insult, directed at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate.

Unfortunately, they are going to the Left Coast, which is not actually considered America, but, happily, not to LaLa Land. They are going to Fresno, to stay with Heidi and Dominic. I gave Paula a crash course in American, over a bottle . . . okay . . . a couple bottles of wine, including some useful tips on what not to unwittingly ever say to Californians. I was quite amused to learn that Paula is taking driving lessons, to learn how to drive an automatic. Aren’t we all born knowing how to do that?

I told Paula that the first time I speak to her in California and she says anything such as "It was . . . like . . . totally awesome", I will have her deported. And if she ever says "Have a really nice day", our friendship is . . . like . . . over.




Published November 26, 2006 by jean cohen

I got to the Grotto Thursday night with Karen and Cheese Boy for Live Music, and it was Robbie Lee. I don’t know how I missed putting that in my diary.

I walk in, and Robbie is setting up. "Jeano" he says, and kisses me. "I hear that I’m in your blog." I am gobsmacked. No clever responses come to mind. Where is my Olympic caliber sarcasm when I need it? I stand there like an idiot, and all I can come up with is "Who told you? Julie?" I am well aware of how lame that was. "No" he says, "Pinkie told me." Okay. So now I have to kill Pinkie. Too bad. "She gave me the web site and I’m going on your blog when I get home."

Shit. Shit. Shit. Is nothing private any more? Who isn’t reading my blog? And talking about it? Perhaps I need to exercise some self-censorship. Even I almost believe everything I read on the damned thing. People are always saying "And I don’t want to read about that in your bloody blog!" or "This is not for the Americans to read about." Perhaps I need to start a second blog, called "For My Eyes Only"?

Robbie takes the piss all night, starting with some Thanksgiving jokes, and then saying he’s going to do ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ "even though Jeano hates it, and won’t let me sing it any more." He sings it, directly to me, and I am thinking there probably isn’t enough Zinfy in Weybridge to get through the rest of the evening. I am so flustered, I actually go and sit with Colleen for a while. Honestly. I needed some ‘American love’.

Thankfully, Paul Stroble comes in and distracts everybody. I like Paul. He’s really a great performer and never sings "Sweet Home Alabama’ to me. Well, hardly ever. So I go over to sit with Paul. Robbie is still taking the piss, but I’m having a nice natter with Paul about Glenn Campbell. (Really. That was true.) Robbie comes over on his break. So he and Paul start taking the piss.

Robbie: "Paul! I’m in Jeano’s blog and you’re not."

Me: "Yes, you are, Paul."

Robbie: "Yeah, but I’m in there a lot more than you. And she’s got my picture in there."

Paul: "Jeano told me I was her favourite. But she never took my picture."

Robbie: "She told me she liked me the best. You just can’t trust American women."

Me: "I really like John Dale the best. Everything else in there is a big whopper."

It wasn’t much, but it was the best I could come up with.

This is obviously the precise moment to announce that I am going to be featured on the largest Italian American website in the world. Because of my blog. And I’m not making this one up. The website is: It’s in the section on Italian American writers. I think it should be on there by now. Photo courtesy of Karen, who turned up at mine at 11:00 at night to take some publicity shots. Another small step to rich and famous.

Cheese Boy came to mine on Saturday night. No big excitement there, except he brought DVDs of ‘Borat’ and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean II’. We got into a little row about Pirates, basically about how ‘Caribbean’ is pronounced, so we decided to watch ‘Borat’ instead.

I am, of course, very familiar with cousin Sacha Barton Cohen, who lives right up the road in Staines. And I love the ‘Ali G Show’. Another fond memory of Surrey. I have another memory, that’s not so pleasant. Have you ever seen the Culture Club music video of ‘Karma Chameleon’? On the river boat? Well, that was filmed in Weybridge, right near my house, and is the exact spot where Leechy’s fiancee, Shirley, killed herself. This sad fact was pointed out by James, when we got lost coming home from a ‘Quins game at Old Stoop. I can’t ever watch that video again.

Well, back to ‘Borat’. I’m not sure. It was very funny, but it’s difficult to watch Americans being skewered as one-dimensional idiots when you’re watching it with a Brit. I was really uncomfortable. I felt compelled to keep protesting "We’re not like that. Honestly, we’re not. Well, okay, maybe the people from Texas are like that, but, after all, they are Texans and they can’t help it." Two things that stuck in my mind were the ‘running of the Jews’ ala Pamplona, and the ‘demon disguised as an old Jewish lady’ whose ‘horns didn’t even show’. It’s that kind of movie. I’m not sure Lou caught the more subtle digs at Americans, but I most definitely got the message. We are not very well liked, are we?



Published November 23, 2006 by jean cohen

I got lots of emails asking what the hell ‘Hogmanay’ is. Duh! If you’re on the damned computer emailing me, I have one word to say to you: "Google!".

I also got a lot of emails concerning ‘The Prophet’. And yes, I do have it memorized. At least most of it. I used to know the entire book by heart, but deleted Chapter 8, Chapter 12, and Chapter 17 to make room in my memory banks for all the words to "Subterreanean Homesick Blues". It might come in handy some day. Dylan is, after all, the Poet of my generation, and if you ‘don’t want to be a bum, you better not chew gum.’

It’s really interesting. You can tell a lot about people by what’s on their I-Pods, play lists, and their mobiles. For instance, my text message alert is Rocky’s Theme – ‘Gonna Fly Now’. Why did I choose that? Maybe to remind me of Philadelphia? My ring tone is Todd Rundgren’s ‘Hello, It’s Me", which I think is hysterically funny when it goes off, but no one else seems to get the point. My taste in music is so different from all of my friends here. When I have one of my ‘special’ playlists going, they say things like "What the bloody hell was that? I never heard that before." "That" I reply "was the ‘I Was Not a Nazi Polka’. I’m a bit obsessed at the moment." "Well, turn it off and put the Kaiser Chieftans on again."

Wednesday was the day . . . luncheon at Boodles. Paula and I walk in, and are greeted by the haughty Maitre D’. I stay silent, although I am confident that I have on train-wreck knickers and shoes from Nordstrom in King of Prussia. He looks at me and says "You’re Mrs. Nasmyth’s ‘American’ guest." Well, really. What is one supposed to answer? "Is my American-ness peeping out again?" I just smile politely and incline my head like the Queen.

He escorts us to the Smoking Lounge, where Eileen is already several glasses of champagne ahead. The room is full of long-nosed toffs, who all fall silent when we walk in. I am hoping they are all looking at Paula. After a couple of glasses of champagne, it doesn’t seem so bad. Eileen is her irrepressible self, even in the sacred confines of Boodles.

We natter about this and that. She asks about the Great American Expatriate Novel; she wants to know if there are lots of sex scenes. I assure her that it’s steamy and very erotic. So now she wants to read it. I think privately that probably Eileen would agree with me that the beautiful heroine would sleep with the Evil Nazi on their first date. Maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe the heroine should go back and sleep with all the Evil Nazis in North Africa, provided that they are attractive.

Mr. Snooty Maitre D’ comes over with the luncheon menus. I do not know what any of the food is. I ponder, and thankfully Eileen suggests "The guinea fowl and the quail are very nice." I look at Snooty Guy and say "Righto. I shall have the guinea fowl. When we were all at the Bassington-Fforbes-Ffrench’s for the shooting a fortnight ago, their cook did the most divine guinea fowl." I don’t think he buys it. Eileen is snorting champagne out of her nose. We ordered starters too, but one does not actually go into the Dining Room until one’s food is prepared (one does not want to sit at table and be kept waiting by the lower classes). So we just continued to drink champagne.

An obsequious minion arrives to escort us the three feet to our table. I guess in case we want something on the way. We each have our very own servant. I’m quite liking this. My servant presents my guinea fowl, and I pick up my fork. Everyone in the bloody room looks at me. "Jeano" hisses Eileen. "The Maitre D’ has to fix it." Oh. Is it broken? Does it get castrated ‘en table’? Are guinea fowls boys?

I pause regally, and Snooty Guy sails across the room with a little silver bowl. He proceeds to pour bread crumbs all over my damned meat. Is that pattern a Union Jack? (Mike puts a tiny G-man helmet on the top of everyone’s pints at the Grotto in foam. Strange things happen in England.) Luncheon goes smoothly, despite everyone watching me eat like an American. Pick up the knife, cut the meat, put down the knife, pick up the fork, place in meat in the mouth. Everyone else is shoveling their peas up their noses with their knives.

We decline a sweet and head back to the Lounge for coffee and more champagne. This part is interesting . . . and true. A bloke sits near us, and Eileen says "Do you know who that is?" "Jamie Oliver?" I guess. "Dick Cheney?" How the bloody hell do I know. "No. It’s the Duke of York." Oh. "No, it’s not" I say. "The Duke of York is one of Prince Charles’ brothers. I do read ‘Majesty’ magazine, you know."

"No" she says. "The other Duke of York. The Queen’s cousin." Mr. Snooty Maitre D’, who is hovering, confirms this and says that the young lady with him (dressed like Mother Teresa on a bad day) is his daughter, Lady Somebody-or-other. Wow! I am getting right pissed two tables away from the Queen’s cousin. Is my life exciting or what?


This should have been enough excitement for anyone, I know, but Eileen, who is on her own (Jan is in Oxford on business), forces Paula and me to go on to the Ritz for more champagne. I really did protest. "Paula, are you sure we’ll be able to find Waterloo and get on the right train to Whatchamacallit?" "No worries" she replies. "But you remember that we left the car at Walton, not Weybridge."




Published November 22, 2006 by jean cohen

I’m celebrating my first Thanksgiving in the U.K., or, as they call it here, Thursday.

Those nice people at the American Embassy sent me an email, telling me all the restaurants in London doing a ‘traditional Thanksgiving Dinner.’ I think "how do they manage to feed every American in London during halftime of the Detroit Lions game?" I know I always had a great deal of logistical issues getting my guests fed and back into the den in front of the big screen in time for the second half kickoff, when it was my turn to cook the family feast.

They also recommended Religious Services Thursday morning at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Well, yes, of course. I certainly would enjoy being enclosed in a tall religious building in Muslim Central with 50,000 or so other Americans on a specifically ‘American’ holiday. Can you feel the love? ("Mustafa, just hop on the bloody underground to Charing Cross and leave the backpack in the nave, next to Princess Diana’s wedding bouquet.") Maybe not.

I think I’ll just stay home and get some Chinese takeaway.

I expect this would be the appropriate time to trot out a list of ‘thank you’s’. Nope. Not gonna do that. There have certainly been lots of people who made an impact on my life, especially this past year, both good and bad.. To them, I say "Lucky You!". You know me. Everyone isn’t so fortunate.

I am very pleased with Jeano at this point in our life. So many things have serendipitously fallen neatly into place, in unanticipated but definitely positive ways. In fact, what I’m actually thankful for this Thanksgiving is the gift of my . . . self.

"You have known in your words that which you have always

known in thought,

You would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams,

and it is well that you should.

The hidden well-spring of your soul must needs rise and run

murmuring to the sea.

And the treasure of your intimate depths would be revealed

to your eyes.

For self is a sea, boundless and measureless."

That’s exactly how I would have put it, if I were Kahlil Gibran.


Published November 20, 2006 by jean cohen

My Scottish guests left yesterday for London. It was a brilliant visit. Sometime on Friday morning, ‘the penny dropped’, as they say here, and Voila! I understood Scottish. It was quite peculiar. One minute is was all gobblygook, and then, suddenly, it all made perfect sense. I believe this is called the "Total Immersion" approach to learning a new language.

Finding the gift of tongues was not without it’s embarrassments. When I met Margaret in the summer, it seems I translated what I thought I heard into American, and I had a lot of misconceptions. Eileen, Margaret’s sister, whom I met and called Eileen seventy five times is actually called ‘Irene’. This is not too bad really. After all, David and Margaret think Lou is called ‘Stuart’, so they shouldn’t really take the piss.

But Irene’s husband, Pat, isn’t a marathoner and doesn’t suffer from painful legs. Nope, ‘shin pain’ was actually "Pat is a radical ‘United Ireland’ kind of guy , with the ‘wearing of the green’ and a member of Sinn Fein. (When I shared this tidbit with the Irish Lad in the Pub last night, he had to sit down. He was laughing that hard.) ‘Sinn Fein’ means ‘the people united’ in Gaelic, so at least now how I can offer up that little factoid at cocktail parties.

Fortunately, I did know what the "Black Watch Regiment" is and didn’t ask any supremely dumb questions. Margaret’s deceased husband was in that regiment. It is definitely not Jamaican dudes selling fake Rolexes on Market Street. That is the "Rasta Timepiece Corps." I will not be making the ‘black cab driver’ mistake again.

David and Margaret visited their relatives, and pretty much did their own thing. On Saturday night, they did take Cheese Boy, Karen and me out for a superb dinner at Café Piccolo.

On Friday night, I went to Pinkie’s to play Scrabble. My houseguests had plans. I have taught her well. We played three tough games, each winning one, and we tied in the rubber match. As a special treat, I brought along my "Rat" DVDS, so she could watch a couple episodes. That was a big fat lie. I brought them because the Irish Lad has a DVD that plays all regions. Mine doesn’t and I am forced to watch 32 straight hours, over and over, on my laptop. I asked Pinkie if she could go on holiday or something, so I can housesit, with her DVD Player. Anyway, she asked to ‘borrow’ them, and when Pinkie turned up for Live Music (late) her eyes were pretty glazed, and she mumbled something about returning the DVDs ‘after the last Bank Holiday’. . . in August. I was really surprised to discover that Pinkie’s ‘fav’ was Hot English Guy. She must stop saying "I think it’s my wicket now, old man" though.

It was Scratch and Mrs. Scratch (with Mrs. Scratch’s Mum in tow, as usual) for Live Music Sunday night. They were brilliant. Cheese Boy stayed home, probably plotting his next move in the Great Cream Cheese War, so Karen and I went by ourselves. It was a small crowd, including a very pissed Spanish Joe.

How can I say this nicely? On a good day, Spanish Joe is befuddled. When he’s pissed, he’s absolutely clueless. He popped over to our table for hugs and kisses. Edwina came and dragged him away. Five minutes later, he was back for hugs and kisses. He was all over Karen, who was telegraphing me the international distress signal for "Get Spanish Joe off me before Edwina kills me." I, of course, totally ignored her, and nattered away to the Irish Lad. We were wagering on how long it would take before Edwina stabbed Karen.

The Irish Lad, a born troublemaker. . . maybe he’s a marathoner and has shin pain . . . dared me to dance with Spanish Joe. I can’t resist a dare. I grabbed Joe, who was talking to one of the big ficus plants in the corner, and dragged him on the dance floor. You could have heard a nuclear bomb drop. The patrons fell silent, except for little murmurs. "Has Jeano been really depressed lately?" "Did her bloody Eagles lose again, and she doesn’t care about living any more?"

After our dance, we sit down, and Karen gets this really stupid idea that we should have a conversation with Joe. I personally preferred the snogs. She proceeds to tell him all about Margaret and David’s visit, and that Margaret has invited us to Scotland for Hogmanay.

I chime in: "And she’s invited us for the Tattoo!"

Spanish Joe: "You two are getting tattoos? Of what?"

I swear it must be genetic. I just can’t help myself.

Me: "We are getting matching tattoos that say "Lou" on our left boobs."

Spanish Joe: (after about ten minutes. I thought he passed out, but, no, he was just thinking) "Don’t do that! It’s there forever. Think about what you want before you go."

Me: (same excuse as above) "You are so right! I don’t even like Lou that much. Mine’s gonna be a picture of Robbie Lee, so I can stroke him whenever I want."

Horrified Spanish Joe: "Jeano, you CAN’T get a tat of Robbie Lee! Karen, don’t let her get a tat of Robbie Lee!"

Me: (piling it higher and deeper) "I really want one of you, but Edwina will get a right hump."

Spanish Joe stumbles away, shaking his head, obviously picturing a tiny Robbie (with guitar?) on my boob. The Irish Lad, who had listened to the whole conversation, is on the floor howling like a banshee. Karen, the poor pet, is dying of embarrassment, wishing she had stayed home to help Lou email me some more cream cheese recipes. I live for nights such as this.

I smirk at the Irish Lad. "Five quid says he doesn’t remember a bloody thing tomorrow except about the goddamned tattoo."


Published November 18, 2006 by jean cohen

The friends who are reading The Great American Expatriate Novel as I’m writing it, or as they refer to it "That Really Hot Nazi Guy", have been great about providing feedback, positive and negative. Hey, it’s not "War and Peace." Some days I like the book; some days I don’t. It must be artistic temperament, or Zinfandel.

An complex societal issue arose. Should the beautiful heroine (me, obviously) sleep with the Evil Nazi? A valid moral dilemma. Conversations with my editor, more discussion about motivation; would the heroine then cease to be a sympathetic character? What kind of woman would that make her, if she hopped into the sack with the first Evil Nazi who asked her? "You mean besides a really horny one?" I ask Scott, somewhat grumpily.

I am confused. Yeah, I know. I’m always confused. I need objective input here. Obviously, my moral compass is dicey. I ask, what I think is a reasonably out of the monolithic era, male friend, between footy games at the Grotto.

Me: Here’s the deal. You’re a girl and you’re being held captive by a Evil Nazi. He’s hot. Would you sleep with him?"

Stupid Bloke: "Of course not." (He went on to rehash the London Blitz and all that other Germany crap again, but that’s not important.

Me: "Okay." Then, after some inspiration. "Well, what if the Evil Nazi is a woman . . . and the prisoner is you . . . the guy."

Getting Stupider by the Minute Bloke: "Does she have big tits?"

Annoyed Jeano: "How the bloody hell do I know? Does she have to have big tits?

Panting Bloke: "Yeah. At least 44D."

Me (trying to control my temper and not hit him on the head with a pint glass) "Okay, the Evil Nazi now has really big tits. Of course, she keeps shooting out the tires on the half-tracks by accident ‘cause they get in her way. WOULD YOU SHAG HER OR NOT?"

Ex male friend: "Too bloody right I would!."

Hmm. That didn’t help a lot.

Obviously, this is a question which should be addressed to women only. They’re so much more sensitive and introspective.

Me: "Okay, here’s the deal. He’s a Nazi, and he’s evil. But he’s really, really hot. Would you shag him?"

Them: "Define "hot".

Me: (pondering just setting fire to the whole goddamned book) "220 degrees Celsius." In case that wasn’t clear, I proceed to describe Evil Nazi exactly. There are a few pointed questions, but thankfully, they don’t give a monkey’s chuff about his tits.

Them: "OOOOH. Of course I’d shag him! I can be all guilty and stuff about the consequences later on . . . after the Big "O".

That’s exactly what I thought. Really. Men get so hung up on morality.


Published November 17, 2006 by jean cohen

The Moon is in the Seventh House, and Jupiter allied with Mars. Honestly, that’s the only reason I can think of, other than Sandra at Italiamerica working her butt off, that the "Last Form" I needed for Italian Citizenship finally arrived from the Department of Homeland Security and Auto Tags. Mama Mia! It’s just unfortunate that the Italian Consulate works on Italian bureaucratic time, and Christ knows how long that whole business is going to take. It’s still good news, I guess.

Poor Karen has been so worried about my housekeeping skills (whatever the hell those are) that she’s been over every day to do an inspection before the Scottish invasion by David the Hall and Margaret. Gee, I hope he brings a kilt. Sadly, I have not passed muster. It’s not all my fault. It was always Jerry’s job to do Search and Seize Missions in the refrigerator. I don’t care how disgusting it is. I’m not picking it up and throwing it away. I’m not touching it, period. Whatever it was in a previous life. Karen was disappointed in me.

"Jeano, how old are these apples and lemons?" she asked. "Dunno. Maybe 4th of July?" I guessed. Apples plus lemons. I must have made Pimms. That’s the only recipe I know that uses apples and lemons.

"Well, what was in this container with the green gook coming out the top?"

"No clue, darling. Let’s take it over to Ashford Hospital. Maybe it’s penicillin by now."

I sometimes actually muse that I might, after all, be a shallow, materialistic, pampered, albeit very iconoclastic, Jewish American Princess, as Cheese Boy keeps telling me I am. But I don’t obsess a great deal about his opinion. Too bloody right I am!

This next part is absolutely true. Americans with heart conditions should skip it. Karen came over with bed linen. Apparently mine isn’t up to snuff. That part’s not the scary part. She ironed every bloody thing. No kidding. I thought she was simply taking the piss and had just stopped off at the Chinese laundry. But no. She ironed it all. Really, you think you know people, and all the time they have these nasty, little secret vices. I am now suspicious that sheets and pillow cases aren’t the only things she irons. Maybe she does shirts, or jeans, or handkerchiefs. Jesus Wept! Maybe she irons Lou’s underpants. Maybe late at night, all alone, watching Jerry Springer on telly. All I need to explain on this unpleasant subject is that when Chinese Laundry Guy’s wife, at home, had a baby, I was invited to the Christening. Karen carted off my bed linen saying that she was going to "line dry it" after she washed it, and iron it all.

I heard a really funny story at the Grotto last night . . . about me. I know that on Sunday the Eagles played the Redskins. Robbie Lee was playing, in case I forgot to mention it several times. Dan graciously hung the Deadskins jacket over the fireplace (the one Mike and I use for solemn ceremonies with "Deadskins Suck! Painted all over it.). The rest of this story is Pinkie’s fault. She’s the one who got the new job (Congratulations!) And the one we were toasting with all the champagne. At some point, I remembered that part of the sacred ritual is to pour beer on the Deadskins jacket, while uttering the sacred incantation "Deadskins suck . . . almost as much as the Cowboys!"

Everybody at our table was drinking champagne. I looked around, spotted a bloke drinking what appeared to be a beer. Note to American readers: just because it’s in a pint glass and is frothy, it doesn’t mean it’s a beer. Could be a Magners, could be Irish cider, or a Shandy. The curse only works with beer. I went over, and asked with great American finesse, "Yo! Dude! Is that a real beer?" He was so surprised he actually answered me. "Yes." "Thanks" I said, as I took it and poured it all over the jacket, muttering the sacred incantation. (It worked; the Eagles won.)

I forgot all about it; Robbie Lee was playing. Did I mention that?

Last night, when I got to the Grotto, houseguests David and Margaret in tow, Dan proceeds to tell the whole story to Pat and Mike, who are howling, and everybody else in the bloody pub. And then Dan says "And Jeano didn’t even buy the bloke another beer." I was gobsmacked. How incredibly rude of me. Has Miss Manners ever written a column about a social gaffe such as mine?

With great dignity, I say loftily, "Well if he ever turns up again, point him out and I’ll buy him a bloody beer." "He’s sitting over there" Dan says, pointing. Shit. I walk over to the guy (Hey, he’s kinda cute) and try to apologize. I tell Dan to give him a beer.

Then the guy says, "I didn’t mind you took my beer. But the Redskins are my favourite American football team."

"Hey, Dan, cancel that order."






Published November 14, 2006 by jean cohen

This week, at least I got a bit of good news. The United States of America District Court no longer wants to arrest me. I expect I should be relieved, but I honestly can’t work up the energy. I may have actually forgotten to even mention this petite contretemps.

I got called for Federal jury duty. Of course, it wouldn’t be Common Pleas or Montgomery County. Nope, it was the Big Kahuna. The only trouble was the summons arrived after the date it was supposed to be returned by. I suspect that the Department of Homeland Security recommended me for jury duty, but maybe I’m just paranoid.

I dashed off a nice letter explaining the whole thing and airmailed it. A few days later, I get a letter threatening me with all kinds of awful stuff. The one that really scared me was a fourteen day sentence of having to call Homeland Security every day and listen to the entire message, even the George Bush part. (Okay. I made that one up. People never seem to know when I’m kidding.) But they really did threaten all kinds of dire punishments. Great. Britain doesn’t want me. It’s now definitely not safe to go to the States. Probably even Indiana doesn’t want me.

That earlier idea about chaining myself to a hose pipe at Heathrow started looking attractive again. Fortunately, in the nick of time, I did get a letter from those understanding folks in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. I was forgiven. This time. But it better not happen ever again. I have a solemn duty to my country. (Cue up an mp3 clip here of the Star Spangled Banner.)

Suddenly I am crazy busy. Finishing the Great American Expatriate Novel. Editing the first section of "Oh to be in England." And trying to be funny and clever, and write a new blog every couple days.

I find myself thinking "The Evil Nazi has just massacred two villages full of innocent women and children. Does a paragraph or two about how hot Robbie Lee looked at Live Music Sunday night really round out the bloody character development? Maybe you’re in the wrong document again." Well, obviously. In any event, he looked extremely hot. He letting his hair grow again, and he had on that blue shirt . . . right. THAT one.

My houseguests from Scotland arrive on Thursday, and I probably won’t have much quiet time to write. They rang the other night, and when I hung up fifteen minutes later, I realized that I had understood about ten words. It’s going to be an interesting weekend. Scary Fairy, who is from New York (this is not an excuse; the law of averages proves that some portion of the American population has to be from New York) understood everything in Scotland, but doesn’t understand most of what Karen says.

My friend Eileen rang up and invited me for a cheer up luncheon at Boodles, her posh, upper crust private club in London.

"What’s the dress?" I asked. "Elegant attire" she replied. "Here. Let me read you this bit from the last Members’ Monthly Letter:

". . . members will not admitted dressed "like Chicago."

Oh. I think for a bit. The last time I was in Chicago I bought some shoes at Marshall Field. I don’t remember which ones. Maybe those black, "fuck me" high heels. Will they be checking at the door? I might have bought some knickers, too. Will there be an Unpleasantness at the Boodles Club?


"No, silly" Eileen said. "They means suits like Elliot Ness and the Untouchables." I am very relieved that my knickers are safe from prying eyes. Of course, I can’t resist taking the piss by saying "M. Vuitton made me a custom gun bag for my Uzi. In the white Alma pattern. It’s very understated and tasteful. It goes with positively everything."

I’m ending today’s blog, with a copy of an actual radio conversation by the British Navy, sent to me by Cousin-by-Marriage John, husband of Blood-Relative Margaret. It’s self-explanatory. Or maybe not. This is why I am being deported, and the "Sun Sets on the British Empire" every day . . . right about tea time.


This is the transcript of the ACTUAL radio conversation between the British and the Irish, off the coast of Kerry, Oct 1998.Radio conversation released by the Chief of Naval Operations 10-10-01:

IRISH: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

BRITISH: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid

a collision.

IRISH: Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

BRITISH: This is the Captain of a British navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.

IRISH: Negative. I say again. You will have to divert YOUR course.


IRISH: We are a lighthouse. Your call.


Published November 9, 2006 by jean cohen

It was quite a downer of a week, with Jerry’s and Matt’s anniversaries, not to mention other stuff.

On Saturday night, Lou and Karen came to mine. Our intention was to go out and cheer up both Karen and me. We spent two hours debating the relative merits of one suggestion after another, unable to agree, until Cheese Boy exerted his male dominance and said we were going to a pub. Big surprise there. But not just any old pub. We were going to a pub in the middle of Nowhere, England. Somewhere near Byfleet. Up hills and down dales in the pitch dark and fog, not to mention smoke from all the Guy Fawkes fireworks, watching for a teeny weeny sign saying "The Whatchacallit Pub – Somewhere Near Nowhere, England".

I was vividly reminded, and could not resist taking the piss out of Lou, about another, similar adventure trying to find his sister’s house. That incident rquired seventeen phone calls to Scotland to resolve. And they weren’t chuffed to see us after we finally found the bloody house.

Despite the non-existence of the sign Cheese Boy remembered, we finally found the pub. It was about the size of Wembley Stadium, with at least six customers in it. Wow! I felt better already. We sat there checking out the locals who live in Somewhere Near Nowhere. Being extremely grouchy, I was compelled to ask Karen why every bloody pub in England has a whorey-looking blond habitue with her boobs popping out of her top. Is it an actual job classification on the National Employment Scheme? Karen just said "There, there, Pet. Just drink your Zinfy and be quiet."

Of course, I was barely warming up. I commented on her hair ( her roots seriously needed attention), her clothes (women her age should be deported for wearing mini skirts), her tights and boots (sorry, didn’t want to make you puke), and my personal favourite – the tatty fake fur jacket. Gee, I actually did feel a bit better! After about fifteen minutes, Lou decided his brilliant plan had not worked, and we might as well go home to Civilization, Surrey.

That unanticipated English vs. American vocabulary issue popped up yet again on Sunday night, at dinner in a Chinese restaurant. This will be deliberately vague, because I don’t like or use any of those terms. Cheese Boy asked me, quite seriously, how to say something extremely vulgar in Yiddish. I obligingly translated it for him. Then, in case I was dimwitted or something, he used another word. I was confused. "Lou Darling, that’s a totally different body orifice. Make up your mind." "No, it’s not" he answered. "It’s the same thing." I thought about this for a minute. Okay, about fifteen minutes. "Karen" I asked, " Does (word two) mean the same thing as (word one)?" "Yes, it really does" she replied. Bloody hell! I thought frantically back over charity lunches, theatre trips, shopping at Divine Harrods, etc, where I might have inadvertently used word two out loud. I didn’t remember anyone fainting near me on any of those occasions, so I probably didn’t. Besides, the Yiddish words I would use for word one and word two are totally different. Because they mean totally different places on your anatomy. I can’t image how one handles conversations in public places if they have an aunt called "Fanny."

The biggest news of the week is that I finally made my Hajj to Mecca. Hey, I’m in England – that’s what they say here. Plus, they don’t get deported; no matter what they blow up or burn down.

My personal Mecca was Costco’s . . . in Reading. It’s exactly like the Costco at home, only the brands are all different. They have the people offering samples of the food that’s on special at the end of the aisles and everything! I thought I might find some American food there, but not much joy. I did find American bacon, which was extremely exciting, but no Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing, in the jumbo bottles.

I cried when I got to the bagel section. There were just so many .. . real bagels I couldn’t decide what to buy. Lou can’t wait to be invited to mine for a real bagel and a huge shmear of Philly Cream Cheese.



Published November 7, 2006 by jean cohen

It’s turned quite chilly in England, and I pulled out some of the heavier sweatshirts I brought with me. Since I’m feeling ‘Jewish’ this month, I put on this really cool one I got in Israel, and went off to the Senior Center to do Tea Lady duty.

Them: "What a lovely shirt . . . with all that pretty Arabic writing on it!"

Me: Umm . . . It’s Hebrew."

Them: "What’s ‘Hebrew’?

Me: "The writing on my shirt . . . right here . . . above where it says ‘Jerusalem’ in English."

Them: "I say! Where did you get it?"

Me: "Umm . . . in Jerusalem."

Them: "You’ve been to ISRAEL???"

Rather an odd response from people who routinely go to Cyprus or Dubai or Egypt on holiday. They’re afraid to go somewhere where there are a lot of Jews?

Several witty responses come to mind. (1) Yes. When I escaped from ‘Amish Country, Pennsylvania’ I made a pit stop in Jerusalem to buy some new guns." (2) Yes. I just adore visiting countries where half the people want to kill me. Ever so much more exciting than an all-inclusive in Montego Bay." (3) Just start singing "Exodus" really loud.

This is a brilliant segue to the news that I was here for Guy Fawkes Night, which is, apparently, an Anti-Catholic holiday. I’m batting .1000. Guy Fawkes Night celebrates the failed Gunpowder Plot in 1605 by Catholics to blow up the Houses of Parliament with Protestant King James I in it. There are fireworks, bonfires, and dummies of Guy Fawkes, the most famous of the conspirators, which are burned. They used to burn effigies of the Pope, too, but that has become politically incorrect. They just call their guys "Benny" now to get around it.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like His Popiness either. (A) He’s German, (B) he’s stuck in a dogma time warp around 1482, and c) he’s distinctly unattractive. He does, however, get a few points for insulting the Muslims recently.

I read that George Washington ordered his troops at Valley Forge (near the King of Prussia Mall) to NOT burn the pope’s effigy on Guy Fawkes night in 1775. Americans stopped celebrating Guy Fawkes Night after we won the war. Ironically, Election Day in the States is held right around that night every other year. Which proves we are smarter. We just burn effigies of the guys who are the biggest assholes, regardless of race, creed or political affiliation..