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All posts for the month April, 2008

SAINTS….AND WANKERS

Published April 26, 2008 by jean cohen

First off, a rousing Mazel Tov! To Snoop Dogg, who won his court case against the folks at Immigration.  I had not thought that the Snoopster was a Dangerous Housewife from King of Prussia too; in fact, I never thought about him at all, until he was denied a visa to enter the UK.   Hey, Snoop…I feel your pain, Bro.

 

According to the London Guardian, Snoop’s grandpop was unfortunately not Italian, so he chose to hire a team of expensive lawyers instead and go head to head with the dreaded Tribunal.  And he won!  He got a precious visa to visit the UK.  I guess the Home Office was shizzolating in their y-fronts.  I’m going to ring and invite him round to mine for tea as soon as he arrives.  We can form a support group called ‘Yo, We Did It; You Can Get into Britain, Too’.

 

It was an interesting week; celebrating St. George’s Day, my first stint at Sam Beare, a date, and Quiz Night.

 

I went to a luncheon with Allison in honour of St. George.  I did not know that he was the patron saint of England.  I thought they just liked him a lot because of the dragon-slaying thingy.  I did point out that England doesn’t have a monopoly on St. George.  He is also the patron saint of Genoa, in my homeland.  San Giorgio is, naturally, better looking and better dressed (no surprise there) and carries a jug of Chianti instead of a sword.  Seriously, would you want to go out with an English bloke carrying a sword with dried dragon blood on it, or a hot Italian who provides the wine?  Exactly. 

 

Lunch was bangers & mash, with treacle pudding for the sweet; this was St. George’s favourite dinner.  Again, not that I’m comparing, in Italia, for Giorno di Festa San Giorgio they have Clams Casino and rigatoni and meatballs, followed by cannoli.

 

I know that lots of countries have patron saints, but I don’t think America has one.  It’s too bad really; there are never enough celebrations.  If we are forced, practically at gunpoint,  to celebrate Martin Luther King Day, we could have a patron saint day too.  I’m sure Pinkie will back me up that St. Nordstrom Rack would make a smashing feast day.  

 

I had a date with someone new.  I’m not sure what happened to British Commando Guy.  He rang and texted a few times, then he went on holiday.  It could have been ‘out of sight, out of mind’, but most probably he just got captured by some guerrillas in Sri Lanka or wherever.  Too bad.  I hope they torture him.  The new bloke is called Mike.  He is very tall (6’2”) and Scottish.  There was some serious piss taking from Pinkie about that ‘ethic’ thing.  I did ask him to wear his kilt when we met for coffee, but he declined.  We did make another date, so I’m sure all the steamy details will be blatantly reported in on my blog in Cyber-world and then discussed endlessly at the Grotto and the synagogue in future.

 

Oh my God!  I did my first stint as a volunteer at the Sam Beare Bookshop.  Can you imagine anything more wonderful than being surrounded by thousands of books, all of which you can take home and read for free?  You just have to bring them back when you’re finished.

 

I learned how to operate the till, and various procedures (we wear our key to the till on a plastic bracelet on our wrist and take the key out when we walk away from the counter.)  During slow periods, we restock the shelves, filling the gaps.  This is not as easy as it sounds; the main section is alphabetical, so you might need to replace two or three “S” authors and a “B” or whatever.  We also get to do the eye-catching window displays and the theme tables.  There’s a tiny kitchen in the back room so that we can have coffee and biscuits.  It is heaven. 

 

My shift was slow but steady.  The widowed Jewish cardiologist of my dreams didn’t turn up, but it was only the first day.  I did wow the socks off Pia, my supervisor, by recommending a Lisa Scottoline book to a woman who said she liked American mysteries.  “I know her” I boasted.  “She lives Berwyn, right near me.   Her novels all take place in Philadelphia.”  (Not really another whopper; I have met her twice at book signings at the Borders in Devon. In fact, the second time I pointed out to her that Bennie, the heroine, was going the wrong way on Wissahickon Pike in the book if she was trying to get to Chestnut Hill.)  Just to show how well informed I am, I added, “Her new book, which features Mary, the same character, just shot to Number Three on the New York Times Best Seller List.”  She bought all four books that I recommended.

 

I had double booked myself Thursday night.  I had committed to going with Julie to see Scratch at the Prince of Wales, and Cheese Boy was expecting me to do the Quiz.  He rang to say that Romeo and Juliet (aka Sandra and Whatshisname) weren’t coming, and neither was the Irish Lad.  Pinkie was coming after her shift.  So I cancelled on Julie and went to the Ash Tree with Lou.

 

It was a dreadful night…again.  I aced the ‘American’ questions easily, but failed to identify the ‘Italian landmark with 239 steps.’  Hey, I’ve only been an Italian citizen for five months;  I was American for – well, it was longer than five months.  Pinkie knew that one.  I failed miserably on the anagram, and once again, the Boy and I disagreed on an answer.  Question: “Which cartoon character’s superior was Colonel K?”  Me:  “I know this one!  Danger Mouse!”  Lou, to Pinkie:  “Whaddya think?  Do you have a clue?”  Me:  “Bloody hell, Lou!  It’s Danger Mouse!  I loved Danger Mouse.  David Jason was the voice of Danger Mouse.”  Lou, to Pinkie: “Could it be ‘Pinkie and the Brain? No? Any guesses?”  Me: “Sod you, Lou!  Danger Mouse!” 

 

I don’t know what he put down, but the correct answer was, of course, Danger Mouse.  We came in next to last.


 

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AND ANOTHER SEDER…

Published April 23, 2008 by jean cohen

Saturday was simply a dress rehearsal for Sunday night; Sunday was the communal seder at NWSS.

 

Sunday afternoon was brilliant; warm and sunny.  Just as I started getting dressed, it got cloudy and I could hear thunder, or jets landing at Heathrow, in the distance.  I stopped changing outfits after three times and left a little early to walk to the shul; a good decision, it turned out, since it started to rain when I was about a block away from the synagogue.

 

A friend from the States had sent me a ‘Passover Greeting’ which was a funny video clip from JibJab called ‘Matzah: Hip Hop Fo’ Hebrews.’  I about plotzed and immediately sent it on to the Irish Lad on Sunday morning with a warm and heartfelt greeting…in Yiddish.  Then I waited for the phone to ring.  “You nutter” Terry said when he rang, “You’re a right daft cow.”  Pinkie told me that she heard him laughing when he played it, and laughing even more when he replayed it, and then he called her to come watch it.  “You will not believe this clip that Jeano sent me.  She’s bloody bonkers.”  Advantage –  to the kinda-Jewish Italian American.  Give it your best shot, Irish Laddie.

 

I did, of course, have to give up the Volly on Sunday night to be extremely devout, but I think it was worth it.  You can’t have too many of those God folks on your side.  And, naturally, it’s not a good idea to piss any of them off, because we really don’t know which one is really in charge, do we?  I just hope Gabby the DJ wasn’t upset or thought it was because I didn’t want to go out with him.

 

There were about 120 people at the seder, which was conducted by Jackie, our rabbi.  Jeannette, the woman who drove me home from Saturday’s seder was there.  In fact, we had arranged to meet up and sit together.  However, when I got there, I discovered that there were assigned seats.  I was at the ‘Ma Nishtanah’ table.  Really.  I guess that was Adonai’s little joke on me about all the ‘Why is this night different’ cracks I’ve been making.  In fact, I have a tee shirt, which reads ‘Why is This T-shirt Different Than All Other T-shirts?’

 

Jackie greeted me warmly, and I wished her ‘a zisn pesach’.  “I don’t know that word.  What does it mean” she asked.  “It means ‘a sweet Passover’” I told her.  She said it was a beautiful expression, and wished me a Happy Passover in Hebrew.  What is it about people and Yiddish?

 

Then she told me that she’d sat me with some gentiles from some ecumenical group so that ‘I could explain what was going on.’  Ha Ha, very funny, Rabbi Chick.  “Doesn’t the Blockbuster in Weybridge have a copy of ‘The Ten Commandments’” I inquired, a bit nervously.

 

This seder was even longer than Saturday’s.  I know that’s hard to imagine, but it’s true.  And we did not pray in English at all; it was Hebrew all the way.

 

Jackie is a gifted teacher, and got everyone involved by asking probing, thought-provoking questions throughout.  I meant that statement; it wasn’t sarcasm.  And especially the children.  During the ‘ten plagues’ part, the children had masks signifying which plague they were, and they acted it out, i.e. the ‘frog’ jumped around.

 

The four cups of wine was definitely my favourite part; it was a wonderful Israeli red.  I hated spilling the ten drops when we recited the plagues; but I did not lick my finger – it’s not the done thing here.

 

The meal was, again, very different; no gefilte fish (gasp!) and the entrée was salmon.  This was due primarily to the fact that the synagogue kitchen is kosher, and preparing meat and serving it would be too complicated.  There was also a vegetarian ratatouille, which was delicious.

 

Many new people came over and introduced themselves to me.  They’d seen my picture and bio in the last issue of the Haderech, the synagogue newsletter.  Again, it was an eclectic mix of interesting and diverse people.  The woman sitting next to me was from Ecuador, and lives in Virginia Water.  Her daughter is a grad student at Harvard, and we chatted away about Boston and the Boston Pops.  Another woman who came over to introduce herself had lived in Malvern when she worked in Philadelphia.  We reminisced about the Mall…and cheese steaks, not the most appropriate topic during Pesach…or at the synagogue.

 

One jarring note to the evening was that members acted as ‘wardens’ in half-hour shifts, wearing orange vests and patrolling the perimeter of the complex.  When I asked why, a man at my table explained that there are eleven registered ‘hate groups’ within twenty miles of us, and there have been incidents in the past.  A scary and sobering thought.

   

On Monday, I did not burn down my kitchen.  Yes, I did it; I cooked fried matzoh.  I downloaded a few variations of the recipe, including one from the UK.  Before you start snickering, when I opened the box I discovered that the matzoh here is a different size.  It was probably baked in a 190 degree oven and then got cut into meters, not inches, but only after it refused to rise.  So I was a teensy bit confused about how many eggs to use.  I experimented, guessed really, and carried on.  It was delicious!  Not as good as Jerry made it, his was heavenly, but it almost tasted like fried matzoh, although it was a bit lumpy.  I was so chuffed that I invited all my mates to come for lunch.  Strangely, everyone is really tied up this week.

 

A FREYLEKHN PESACH

Published April 22, 2008 by jean cohen

On Saturday, which was the First Night of Passover, I was a guest at a lovely seder hosted by a couple from North West Surrey Synagogue.  At this point, for non-Jewish readers, I should explain the whole story about Pharoah and Moses, and the ten plagues, and the unleavened bread.  Suggestion:  Rent ‘The Ten Commandments’ on DVD.  The special effects are cheesy, especially Charlton Heston parting the Red Sea, but you’ll get the general idea.

 

Kay and Michael live in Shepperton, which is quite close to Weybridge.   Pinkie drove me to their house, and I was meant to get a ride home from a man called ‘Moshe’.  Really.  I can’t make stuff this good up.  Moshe ended up not coming, so I got a ride home from someone else, but I still thought it was pretty ironic.  (The other ‘Moshe’ has apparently finally realized I’m not living off Exit 143 of the Garden State any more and moved on; he’s stopped emailing.)

 

There were about 24 people at the Seder, an interesting and eclectic group.  Kay and Michael are South Afrikans.  It was another one of those ‘Jeano Epiphanies’: Just like Dorothy, I was not in Kansas anymore.  Well, I never really was in Kansas, at least on purpose, except for quick trips for meetings and stuff, and that time I missed my connection on the way to Las Vegas.  No, that was Indianapolis or Minneapolis or St. Louis.  I meant I was not at the Adams Mark in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania with a hundred mishpocha who think Atlantic City is plenty ‘exotic’ and New York is ‘the hub of the civilized world’.  

 

I was a tiny bit nervous; hell, I was really freaked.  Would I do the Repubblica Italia proud?  (I’m Italian now; remember?)  “Have you seen the new James Bond exhibit yet at the Imperial War Museum?  I highly recommend it.  Yes, I read the article about the Pope in Time Magazine.  Did you know he’s eighty-one?”  (I knew swotting for that goddamned quiz would pay off somewhere.)  I changed outfits five times; ‘Too American’…’Too Jappy’….’Not Jappy Enough’…’God, I really look flat-chested in this sweater’…you know.

 

I was awed that Reform Jews take the seder so seriously.  We prayed, and then prayed a whole lot more.  We actually covered the cpmplete Haggadah, including the whole Elijah part (which the Cohens always abridged) and singing about the little goat after dinner.  At the Cohen seder, after listening to seventy-six little Cohens recite the Four Questions one after the other, people got a little crabby and started saying, “Can’t we eat already?”  I was usually well lit by the Mogen David Concord around the tenth little Cohen lisping “Why is this night different from all other nights?”

 

As a ‘visitor’ I was invited to ask the Four Questions.  I had prepared, and wowed the room by doing them in Yiddish, not Hebrew.  Then everyone joined in and sang them in Hebrew.  Another interesting detail is that their Haggadahs have no transliterations.  One is meant to actually read the Hebrew.  I think everyone there just pretended they were reading; they probably just memorized all one hundred pages of single-spaced prayers.

 

Dinner was lovely, although a bit different than what I’m used to.  They didn’t serve gefilte fish!  Not that I’m complaining; I hate the stuff.  In a convo with Stuart who rang to get the dish on my seder, he was aghast at this news.  No gefilte fish?  I don’t think they’re really Jews.” 

 

The starter was salmon pate and, naturally, chopped liver, with delicious biscotti (just kidding; it was matzoh), or herring in a sweet tomato sauce.  There was matzoh ball soup for the second course.  (Fine with me; because I like matzoh ball soup.)  The main course was a choice of chicken or fish, with three different salads and kugel.  Dessert was actually delicious; there was a meringue and a homemade lemon sorbet, and fruit.

 

Of course, Michael did hide the afikomen; the person who found it got sweets instead of a Susan B. Anthony silver dollar.  The door was opened for Elijah, taking extreme care that Tigger the cat did not run away from home.  And the seder ended, as it should, with my favorite part, everyone saying ‘L’shana haba bi’Yerushalayim!” or ‘Next year, in Jerusalem!’ –  which is, it suddenly occurred to me, entirely feasible in my case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

YOU OWN THE FALKLANDS? BIG DEAL

Published April 18, 2008 by jean cohen

BooBoo and I went to Kempton Park Racetrack in Sunbury-on-Thames.  Not to the horseracing; I’m not really very interested in short men on tall animals.  We went to the gigantic boot sale held there every Thursday.

 

Although it’s almost May, it was freezing cold and windy; thank goodness, or otherwise who knows how much shit I would have bought.  They sell absolutely everything from fresh meat to tellys.  I did buy some shoes.  Trying on shoes only required slipping out of my boot.  I saw about forty pairs of jeans that I lusted after (one pair—black ones – had big rhinestone crowns embossed on the pockets) but I wasn’t removing any of the six layers of clothing I was wearing to try them on at Ahmed’s Jeans-arama.  BooBoo swore a blood oath that we’d go again, when it’s warmer.  If it ever gets warmer.  I bought some really cute tops, too, one rather stunning mauve one that I got to go with the new skirt I bought (at the ‘posh’ charity shop in Walton) to wear to the First Seder.

 

I have been neglecting Cheese Boy lately, so I didn’t go to Live Music at Sullivan’s on Thursday night, opting to do the quiz at the Ash Tree instead with the Boy and the Irish Lad.  I should have gone to Sullivan’s with Julie.

 

I spent about two hours on Thursday surfing the news sites, so I’d been up on current events.  Did you know his Popiness turned 81 yesterday?  Mazel tov, your Popiness!  Did you know six African warriors from another goddamned country I never heard of ran in the London Marathon?  Did you read about the James Bond exhibit, ‘For Your Eyes Only’, which opened at the Imperial War Museum in London this week? 

 

It’s okay if you didn’t.  None of that came up in the quiz.

 

We had seven team members this week, eight counting Trigger, and we still came in next to last. I’m not making this up.  Sandra turned up this week, with her son and her new man, and Pinkie came after her shift at Charing Cross Casualties.  Either the questions were especially hard, or we were all distracted watching Sandra and her boyfriend snogging and groping each other in the corner by the Snooker Table.  And I got the only ‘American’ question wrong.  I didn’t even know there was an ‘Apollo 15’ mission. 

 

I did get the anagram one immediately.  In fact, I was so surprised I yelled out the answer a little too loudly.  Lou got a little shirty as all the teams sitting around us quickly wrote down ‘Michael Jackson’. 

 

Incidentally, while this was all going on, every bloke in the pub was simultaneously watching a very crucial soccer match on the giant screen tellys.  A team in yellow called ‘Samsung’ was playing a team in blue called something else.  I think the Irish Lad said they were the ‘Edmonton Oilers’ or something like that.  They were playing for something called the ‘Prime-ship’, which I expect is a boat. Maybe they won a Caribbean cruise.

 

Even more strangely, this bloke who chatted me up by the fruit machines told me the ‘Samsungs’ are actually called ‘Chelsea’.  It’s very confusing.  Then he asked me if I could talk ‘with a Southern accent’ ‘cause they ‘really turn him on’.  Never mind, that’s a completely different story.  I’m afraid I don’t know if the ‘Samsungs’ or the ‘Edmontons’ won, or if they got to have PKs.

 

Back to the quiz, the Irish Lad and I had our usual minor disagreement.  Question: Which country owns the Azore Islands?  Terry wrote down ‘USA’.  “Um, Terry, that’s wrong.  We don’t own the Azores.  Yes, I’m sure.  They would have mentioned it when I was at school.”  Several unkind remarks were exchanged, ending with “you’re Italian, not American.”  “Assolutamente esatto, Stupido” I shot right back (‘absolutely right, you blithering idiot).  But American still doesn’t own the Azores.  It’s Spain.” 

 

So what if it’s Portugal.  

VIVA… WEYBRIDGE

Published April 18, 2008 by jean cohen

Tuesday night was the Volunteers’ Recognition Dinner at the Senior Centre.  It included all the Tea Ladies, as well as the Meals on Wheels teams.  Although there is one male ‘Tea Lady’…I guess they call him a ‘Tea Gent’, there are only a few men on the Meals teams.

 

The Dining Room looked just like the Dining Room always does, except there were some vases of fake flowers on the tables.  I sat with Hester and Eve, who do alternate Tuesdays with me, and some Meals women, whom I did not know.  In one of those strange coincidences that always seem to happen to me, Cathy, who sat next to me, has a cousin who lives in Paoli.  So Cathy has been to Philadelphia many times.  We talked about the King of Prussia Mall (God, I miss the mall!), and she said that one of the places she quite enjoyed was Valley Forge National Park, which was a mile from my house.  As a point of interest to Philly readers, Cathy’s cousin was a reporter for the Bulletin before she retired.  (Yes, I meant the Bulletin.)

 

I am sad to report that DJ Jazzy Geoff did not spin records.  Jazzy apparently went to that great ‘American Bandstand’ in the sky right after the invitations were posted.  I guess he actually went to that great ‘Top of the Pops’ in the sky; he probably couldn’t get a visa to the Bandstand one.  So we were entertained by the Mumble Brothers instead.  They are exceedingly popular on the ‘Senior Centre’ musical circuit.  This is a fact; Mumble Brother Two announced it quite proudly.  I must try to get to the Hersham Centre to catch their next concert.

 

The Bros were two blokes, about eighty years old, who played guitars.  Only one, thankfully, sang.  The singing Mumble was quite clever.  He could make ‘Song Sung Blue’ sound exactly like ‘Strangers in the Night’.  In fact, everything sounded the same, even the Elvis numbers.  The Mumble Brothers were very fond of Elvis; they did about ten of his songs.  I did not recognize them.  Eve, who is a rabid Elvis fan, pointed them out as they slid past.

 

“Have you been to Graceland?” she asked wistfully, “I’ve always wanted to go.”  “Yep” I admitted, “The Convention & Visitors Bureau folks made us do the tour when I was in Memphis for a meeting.”  “What was it like?” Eve asked, all excited.  “I don’t remember” I had to tell her, “I just remember buying really tacky Elvis souvenirs as gag gifts for my friends.  And everybody in Memphis talks funny.”

 

Dinner was a buffet, but quite nice really, with a lovely chocolate mousse for the sweet.  The excitement wound down by 9:30 PM.  I walked home with Ernie, another of the Meals people I’d met.  I wasn’t worried in the slightest about picking up a strange man.  If he tried it on, I would have simply taken his Zimmer frame away from him and laughed when he fell over.

 

On Wednesday I went to the JACS meeting at the Synagogue.  JACS is the Jewish Association of Cultural Activities.  I’m not sure if this is an international organization, but it’s apparently huge in Britain, and the Weybridge branch has a strong membership from six different ‘local’ synagogues.  There’s a weekly programme, with tea afterwards, and, occasionally, a day trip.

 

This week’s speaker was a Rabbi, who had worked for MGM in his youth, and his talk was about the Jewish ‘movers and shakers’ in the American film industry in the 30’s and 40’s.  The lecture was interesting, but the turnout, disappointingly, was very small, probably because people are busy getting ready for Passover.  I ran into almost all of the women I’d met at the WIZO meeting last week.  Honestly, I already know enough women.

PRESS THE ‘HASH KEY’

Published April 17, 2008 by jean cohen

The Irish Lad popped in on Sunday.  Sheer bitchiness regarding the ‘language wars’ and Quiz Night compels me to report that he drove to my house.  It must be three blocks, and they’re not long ‘Philadelphia’ blocks.  Of course, he was delivering a new DVD player, but I think it weighs less than my 17” laptop.  I toted that to his every day until I got broadband from the Scots. It’s not ‘new’ new; it’s their old one.

 

I discovered that my unit, a combined VCR and DVD can’t read my American DVDs.  I had curled up on the sofa in my little pink lounge in my fuzzy pjs with the all over hearts  (a Christmas pressie from BooBoo) with a box of Kleenex  and a huge bag of black Twizzlers that I found in that last suitcase Mike brought to watch ‘Brian’s Song’ for the seven hundredth time.  I always cry.  And I miss real football. 

 

Anyway, BooBoo and I had had an unproductive lesson on ‘Teaching Jeano to Operate Mysterious British Devices’ and, finally, she had just written out instructions.  ‘Turn on Telly with black remote.’  Geeze,  I know that one already.  ‘Press the fourth button on the grey remote two times…I said two times…not three.’  ‘Turn off Sky on remote that says ‘SKY Remote.’’  “But what if Sky gets offended, like Challah and never, ever comes back?” I worried.  ‘Push the ‘on’ button on the silver remote.  Remember to actually insert a DVD.’  You might think I was clueless or something.  So I got through the twelve steps of preparing to watch a goddamned movie, and it wouldn’t work.  All I got was a message on the screen ‘Tough Shit, Philly Girl: Region One DVD’.  After obediently following BooBoo’s notes and not getting to spend the evening with James Caan and Billy Dee Williams, I required something a lot nicer than black Twizzlers – pink Zinfandel.

 

So Pinkie and Terry gave me their spare DVD player, which magically knows all about the ‘regions’ of the world and is not prejudiced towards moderately Jewish Italian Americans who are techno-deficient.  So they say.  It’s not hooked up yet.  I need some thingy, called a ‘spinal tap’ or a ‘Maryland bridge’ or something like that, so I can have the DVD/VCR player and the ‘I Play Any Region You Got’ DVD player both attached to the telly simultaneously.  I don’t even want to think about the new instructions BooBoo is going to have to write…’Not that remote, you daft cow!  The other silver one.’

 

I did go out on Sunday night to the Volly with BooBoo and the Boy.  I can’t write all the time, can I? No, I can’t; I run out of stuff to say.  The Irish Lad was most impressed by the mountain of inquiry letters piled by the front door to be posted on Monday.

 

There was a new pub slag at the Volly, at least new to BooBoo, the Boy and me.  Apparently, the usual crowd of drunken blokes knew her well…very well.  Her name is Mel.  She shared this factoid with me when we were both in the garden having a fag.  “Did you mean to wear that outfit?” I asked, “Or have all the mirrors in your house already ‘crack’d from side to side.’” Okay, but I thought it.  And she probably isn’t familiar with ‘The Lady of Shalott’ anyway.  There was a bloke out there too, dressed, I kid you not, in combat books, Bermuda shorts and an Hawaiian shirt.  I couldn’t resist asking, ‘What time does the luau start?”  He didn’t think it was especially witty.  BooBoo and the Boy did, when I repeated it to them.

 

The only moderately interesting thing that happened all night was that Gabby, the DJ, asked me out. 

WISHING AND HOPING…AND MAILING

Published April 13, 2008 by jean cohen

I did very little socializing this weekend; shocking, isn’t it?  I worked…really hard.

 

BooBoo had pointed out (she’s SOOO practical) that literary agents and publishers are not beating a path to my door to pimp my voluminous literary efforts.  I am meant to contact them.  It’s tricky, sort of like who asks whom out on a date.  So I bought a book that tells you ‘Everything You Want to Know About Getting Your Masterpiece Published and Making Oodles of Lolly”.  I paraphrased there, of course, but I am certainly interested in Oodles of Lolly, especially given my taste for boots and M. Louis Vuittan.

 

According to ‘Everything’, the damned manuscript is just the beginning.  You need other stuff too.  Like a biographical sketch, a jacket blurb and a synopsis, and a clever, witty cover letter.  And I thought writing the novel was onerous! 

 

I binned the first few drafts of my ‘bio’.  Obviously they’d probably find out I’m not twenty-five, with a PhD in Dead Languages from the University of Pennsylvania.  Hey, it was witty, clever and funny, especially the part about Pond traversing between our palazzo on the Amalfi Coast and our penthouse in Newark, New Jersey.  The actual facts were so … mundane. 

 

I finally wrote a sparkling, cogent synopsis, an exciting, pulse-pounding blurb, and an almost truthful, hardly any big whoppers, biography.  (Hey…if any agents call you to check, remember – I was Miss Italy in 1975 and the Queen is one of my many cousins.)  

 

At this point, I hated both novels and the blog, and considered deleting all of them, and becoming a mail-order bride to support my habits.  BooBoo encouraged me to ‘carry on and stop whinging’ so I’ve been busy sending out huge missives to literary agents.  Unkindly, they keep sending them back.  Watch this space for more details.

 

I had an interview on Friday for another volunteer position.  This one is at the Sam Beare Charity Shop.  Sam Beare’s charity is a Cancer Hospice, so I do feel like this one is appropriate and meaningful, not that confused senior citizens doesn’t hit home, too.  I wonder if I get a ‘volunteer discount’ on tchatkes.

 

Sam Beare has two shops on the High Street, and I got offered a position at the Book Store one.  I am really chuffed.  What could be better than being surrounded by books?  In fact, my supervisor, Cathy, already called and asked me to cover a few shifts.  Cathy is American, from Long Island, but I will try not to let that bother me too much.  Officially we are waiting for my ‘police check’ but I don’t foresee any difficulties, as long as they don’t ask Immigration.  (Of course, I used my passporti Italiano for identification.)  As far as I know, that book writing, volunteering terrorist person is still living off Exit 143 of the Garden State, patiently waiting for Britain to capitulate and graciously grant her a seven day visa.

 

Booboo and I did our river walk on Friday, along the Thames.  I actually met a couple, walking their dog, whom I know from synagogue.  We stopped and chatted for a few minutes, and they inquired how I was getting on with settling in.  I said ‘fine’ and mentioned that I’d gone to Friday night services last week for ‘testers’.  Yes, they knew, Paul told me.  Several people had asked Jackie where I was on Saturday morning, and she had explained that I’d been there on Friday night.  I love little towns, and friendly little shuls.  There is definitely ‘a place for me’ in both and I am quite loving it.  Marilyn told me that she and Paul were conducting the service on Saturday morning this week, and I assured them that I would be there.

 

Just so you don’t think things are always perfect in Weybridge, as BooBoo and I, with Trigger, strolled along enjoying the sunshine and lovely spring weather, a storm rolled in, deluging us with giant hail stones and strong winds.  And it must have dropped thirty degrees in two minutes.  We headed back to mine, but had to stop and call in at the Old Crown on the way.  We were soaking wet and freezing.  We sat and lingered over a nice coffee until the storm passed over.

 

I did go to services on Saturday morning.  Marilyn and Paul did a brilliant job.  Although I’m a ‘not really a believer’, it seems like every week the lesson has some key element that has a special meaning for me and makes me think.  That’s actually pretty scary.  This week, I was offered an aliyah, which I politely declined.  The Torah portion was from Leviticus, and dealt with Cohenim and their responsibilities as priests in the Temple.  At the Oneg Shabbat, Paul mentioned the coincidence too.  “After all, you’re a ‘Cohen” he teased.  “No, I’m not” I corrected him.  “I married a Cohenim.  He took the responsibility seriously; I didn’t.”

 

Oh.  And Fabien from Paris, by way of Ohio, was there this week.  He couldn’t resist mentioning that the bloody Buckeyes won the NIT by crushing UMass.  Like anybody cares.  “How did your teams do in March Madness?” he inquired smugly.  Sacrebleu!  “Pardonez moi, Cherie” I told him.  “I gotta go talk to Ena about the Oneg Rota.”