Archives

All posts for the month August, 2008

CHIPS AHOY, MATEY

Published August 31, 2008 by jean cohen

I seem to write the same thing every week; probably because I do pretty much the same thing every week.  I served tea at the Senior Centre, shopped, worked a couple shifts at Sam, shopped, went to a posh Sam Beare fund-raiser, shopped, and did the bloody Quiz.  Oh…I got my hair cut and highlighted.  And I went to an Aufruf.

 

Before everybody start’s complaining, ‘aufruf’ means a calling up to recite the blessing over the Torah.  Jackie’s (the rabbi at NWSS) son is getting married so, as is the custom in Conservative and Reform shuls, Shosi and Roni had the first Aliyah together.  The bride’s family, Jackie’s family, and tons of the couple’s friends turned out for it.  It was really sweet.  And like at a Bar Mitzvah, the congregation all yelled ‘Mazel Tov’ and threw soft candy at the couple to wish them a ‘sweet start to marriage’.  After services there was a fabulous luncheon – kosher, naturally, but I am getting used to eating unusual and totally unfamiliar foods.

 

The weather over the weekend was shitty.  Exactly what you’d expect for the last Summer holiday.  It already feels like Fall; I got out my turtlenecks. When Boo and I were shopping, I wanted to try on these jeans.  The clerk said “I think they’re too small for you.  You look like a 14.”  Then I took off my coat, two sweaters and my jeans.  “I guess not” she reconsidered, “You’re really skinny.  How many layers are you wearing?”   “Four” I answered after I counted them.  Boo had a tee shirt on.

 

Cheese Boy, Boo and I went to the Volly on Sunday night for music and PSs.  What can I say that won’t sound bitchy and catty?  Nothing; I am a bitch and it’s genetically impossible for me not to be catty.  The Volly was jammed, because of the holiday I guess.  It seemed like there was a contest going on too; ‘The Worst Dressed, Least Attractive Female in Surrey’.  No, make that ‘in Britain’.  It was frightening.  The usual PSs were all there, looking as though they had all been run over by the very same articulated lorry and there were scads of new contenders for blog-worthiness.  Boo took a few snaps, which I’ve posted.  (The weird guy in a few of them –not Cheese Boy; we already know he’s strange – the other one, followed me around all night and cut in when I was dancing with some amazon New Zealand chicks who were all about 6’ tall.)  I have to mention that BooBoo tried to copy almost exactly what I was wearing, we were both in black, but I definitely looked cuter.  I wore my new Versace jeans (on sale; practically free).

 

I won’t bore you with all the specific fashion disasters.  BooBoo did ask while PS H was dancing, “Is what she’s wearing a ‘Shmatte’?” “Exactly” I told Boo approvingly, “When you look up ‘shmatte’ in the Joy of Yiddish, Helen’s picture in that—is it a pajama top or a some sort of dress–  is there.”  Tattoo PS had on the red ‘fuck me’ shoes with the grubby white jeans as usual.  “She’ll have to hit the charity shops for a pair of blue jeans soon” I worried for her.  “It’s almost Labor Day.”  PS BB opted for a ‘Tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle’ look; rather strange for a casual Sunday night at the pub.  I tried to sneak a picture of the shoes – I can’t describe them; there are no words- but I couldn’t manage it.  Oh hell.  They were slingbacks with very high heels, teal or aquamarine, with sequins.

 

The weird guy who isn’t Cheese Boy started out at the other end of the table and got progressively closer as the evening wore on.  My fault, probably.  I’ve met him a few times, and made the mistake of saying ‘hi’ to him when I bumped into him at Tesco’s in Addlestone.  He had actually rung Gabby (as reported by Gabby to Martin to Dawn to Lou to BooBoo who told me) to breathlessly report that I’d kissed him…on the lips…at Tesco’s.  Yeah, sure.  He’s from Yorkshire or some other weird place, and what with the noise in the pub and the music, I couldn’t understand a bloody thing he said.  That might have been a good thing.  I finally got up and hung out with the amazon New Zealanders to get away from him.

 

Pinkie & Company are having a blast in the States.  Sister texts every day with a list of the stores she’s blitzed and everything she’s bought.  The Irish Lad texted, too.  To take the piss.  At 3:00 in the morning.  I woke up with a start when ‘Rocky’s Theme’ started playing hoping it was a much anticipated message from AWOL Bagpipe Guy who has been extremely deficient in the whole keeping in touch whilst on holiday thingy. 

 

Alas, no.  It was a picture.  Of Tee and Eamonn wearing dreaded Manning jerseys at Giants Stadium.  They went to see the G-men (unfortunately) crush the Patriots.  God, and ME, will exact retribution for this” I texted back.

 

 Unbelievably, I got an even nastier text back from the Lad.  Obviously, he had help writing it.  I know he didn’t think it up all by himself.  But because I need help with supplies from certain people in the USA for the Thanksgiving banquet, I won’t come right out and call her a bitch or a cow.

Terry’s text:  My God is a Giants fan.  At least the Giants didn’t get beaten by the Jets’.  I can’t imagine what he meant.

 

Finally, I thought I would talk about something different.  And besides me.  Snack foods.  And the Brits shake their heads and wonder how it all went so horribly pear shaped and they lost the Empire.

 

I was at Tesco’s – not the one in Addlestone – and I wanted to pick up some parsnip crisps.  That was not a typo.  I’m addicted to parsnips in any way, shape or form.  I don’t think the Acme carries them.  Anyway, searching the crisps aisle, I noticed, for the first time, the flavours of potato chips for sale here.  You won’t believe it.  They include:

 

Roast chicken…Chilli & Lemon…Prawn Cocktail…Pickled Onion…Marmite…Tomato Ketchup…Worcester Sauce…Minted Lamb…Lamb Curry…Ham & Mustard…Thai Chicken…Steak & Mustard.

 

Boo said at Christmas they have Turkey & Stuffing flavoured chips, but I’m sure she made that up.

 

What I’m not making up is that the local pizza joint offers a ‘Sweet & Sour Chinese Chicken pizza’.  I swear.

 

Advertisements

SPIRITS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD

Published August 22, 2008 by jean cohen

It’s practically the end of summer here in Britain.  I must have missed it– SUMMER; I’m still wearing two sweaters and a winter coat.  My ‘summer’ wardrobe, including six pairs of Bermuda shorts, is all still neatly folded in a drawer.

 

Simply everybody is away.  Bagpipe Guy is in Devon again doing manly things…in the pouring rain…in the hurricane force winds…staying in a caravan.  Gee, it’s too bad he didn’t invite me to come along.  HaHaHaHaHa…

 

As I’ve mentioned, Pinkie & Company are in the States.  She texts me everyday with important updates and pictures of everything she’s bought.  In one text she actually said Pat had been kayaking on the treacherous Tom’s River (that’s either the river or the mall’s name; she obviously had had a lot of Zinfy).  Too bad she didn’t capture that Kodak moment.

 

Cheese Boy was at mine the other night.  We were going to a pub quiz at the Volly.  Yes, I am a masochist.  Go figure.  I thought I was a JAP.  Anyway, we decided that we should have a barbecue for the Last Bank Holiday Monday.  Then I had a brilliant and really mean idea.  Why not have the party at Pinkie and Terry’s?  I have keys to their house.  And after all, she’s infamous for the Bank Holiday Blowout After Jeano Went Home, as well as the Bank Holiday That Lasted Three Days While Jeano Was Stuck in New Jersey.  I come here; Pinkie goes there.  Monday is supposed to be cold and rainy (no surprise there) so maybe we’ll just eat a few of the Jews still left and watch a film instead.

 

Speaking of hotdogs, this is unbelievable news!  Waitrose, the little one in Oy-Veybridge has put in a Kosher section.  I was so excited that I ran home and got my camera so I could take a picture.  I’ve posted it.  There’s only one because the Kosher section is only as big as…I don’t know what.  It’s three shelves.  But it says ‘Kosher’.    I couldn’t help comparing it to the ginormous Kosher takeaway section at the supermarket at home.  If you had a yen for a knish or kugel, or some stuffed cabbage or brisket and you didn’t feel like cooking…and the packaged Kosher section was three aisles long.  Oh yeah.  The Waitrose has Kosher ‘American’ style hotdogs.  I can’t wait to try them.

 

With it being so quiet here, it’s been short on the social engagements; just a few lunches with the ladies, a committee meeting for the Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner, a movie at the synagogue, my shifts at Sam and shopping with Boo– only once or twice.  Really.  Okay.  It was a lot, but I’m not the one who bought all the underwear this time.  The Pub Quiz at the Ash Tree, of course, and that visit to the Spiritualist Church in Walton.

 

It was BooBoo’s idea.  She wanted to talk to dead people.  I whinged “Honestly, Boo.  Jerry turning up at 3:00 AM yelling in Yiddish is enough dead people for me.  What if the medium channels Rosie the Terrible?  I’m not paying 2 quid to hear from my mother-in-law.”  But Boo begged, so off we went to this ‘church’ tucked in an alley between a carpet store and a butcher shop.  I’m a good friend.  Nah.  I figured it would be blog-worthy.

 

The minister was a woman.  She had apparently channeled Pocohantas one too many times.  She had these long braids hanging over her shoulders tied with ribbons and feathers.  “How!” I said politely.  Hey, I watched Cochise and Broken Arrow on television when I was little.  Boo didn’t get it.

 

The inside of the Church was painted purple with a huge 3D cross.  The minister asked for silence and a prayer, then said ‘Let’s sing hymn 4 in our song books’.  I am not making this up.  She turned on her CD player and we all sang along with Karen and Richard Carpenter to ‘Your Love Took Me to the Top of the World’.  I got the giggles.  BooBoo implored me to behave.

 

The medium was pretty good.  He probably sells used cars in his day job.  It was kind of sad, really, how desperately the faithful wanted to get messages from the dearly departed.  “I have a bald man here with me…wearing glasses…coughing.  Probably cancer or emphisema” and people would nod enthusiastically like “Yeah; that call’s for me. It’s Uncle Ernie!”.   He dragged details out of them so that it seemed he was telling them.

 

I muttered to Boo just before I fell asleep “I’m overdosing on clichés.  He hasn’t missed one.”  It seems like the library on The Other Side only stocks ‘The Top 100 Idiotic Platitudes’ so the Dead Set all said a lot of stuff like ‘it’s always darkest before the dawn’, ‘stop and smell the roses’, ‘laugh and the world laughs with you…’.    She pinched me, really hard, to wake me up.

 

Boo got a message from her grandmother.  Basically she told Boo ‘take the bull by the horns’, ‘keep a stiff upper lip’, ‘don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched’ ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ and,  by the way, you passed all your exams.  Queue up the music for Twilight Zone.  Boo got her results this week.  She did pass…brilliantly.

 

I was one of the few people who didn’t get a visit.  While I was glad that Rosie the Terrible didn’t turn up, I was pretty insulted that none of my other dead relatives did.  It’s only the Other Side, England.  It’s not like it’s Mars or that they’d have to fork out $3.90 a gallon for gas to get here.  Boo said it was probably because I had my snottiest JAP attitude on and the medium was scared of me.  Good on him; that was very prescient of him.  I would have loved to embarrass him.  “Sorry?  Does the coughing spirit in the thick glasses have a Philly accent?  No?  Then it’s obviously not my Uncle Ernie.” 

 

Thursday night I went to the Quiz with Cheese Boy, just the two of us again.  Scarily, I knew seven people in the picture round and most of them were British.  We didn’t even come last; we were third—from the top!  I knew a surprising amount of ‘non American’ stuff.  Maybe I have been here too long.

 

Or it might be The Book. 

 

One of my birthday pressies from Bagpipe Guy was ‘An Utterly Impartial History of Britain or 2000 Years of Upper Class Idiots in Charge’.  It tells the historical story of everything that ever happened in Britain from 55 BC to 1945.  It is must reading for Americans who when someone says ‘Waterloo’ think of ABBA.

 

I am including some factoids of ‘Great Moments in British History’ for you Americans that you probably didn’t know about.

 

55BC: Julius Caesar takes his army to Britain on the first cross-channel ferry.

 

122: Emperor Hadrian commissions defensive wall.  Builders repeatedly call him ‘Adrian’ just to wind him up.

 

947: Scandinavians conquer English kingdoms, bringing pillage, terror and flat-pack furniture.

 

1191: Richard I joins the Third Crusade, convinced that Saladin has Weapons of Mass Destruction.

1415: Henry V massacres thousands at the Battle of Agincourt to avenge a particularly rude French waiter.

 

1776: Americans declare independence following a dispute about standards of British dentistry.

 

1876: Victoria named ‘Empress of India’ after her favourite curry house.

 

1918:  Germany admits they have lost the ‘First World War’.  Some anxiety over their choice of name.

 

1944:  D-day.  Only time in history the Brits got to the beach before the Germans.

 

1945:  Britain wins World War II but passes coffee mug saying ‘World’s Number One Country’ over to the Americans.

 

A DRIVING LICENSE? MAZEL TOV AND SIMEN TOV!

Published August 18, 2008 by jean cohen

I was invited to a B’nei Mitzvah and luncheon at NWSS, a Bar and Bat Mitzvah for twins Lilly and Josh.  I put it in my social diary, and sort of forgot about it.  Except, of course, for thinking long and hard in true JAP fashion about what to wear.

 

On the Wednesday before the event, it crossed my mind that I should get at least cards for the kids.  It’s only polite since they’d be feeding me.  On the way to my shift at Sam, I popped into Clinton’s, the huge card shop on the High Street.

 

I wandered around the ‘special occasions’ section, amused to see cards for ‘passing your driver’s test’ and ‘passing your examinations’, but no ‘bar mitzvah’ cards.  There were plenty of christening and confirmation ones.  Finally, I had to ask a clerk.

 

“Excuse me.  Where are the Bar Mitzvah cards” I asked.  “The What cards” she replied.  “Bar Mitzvah cards” I repeated.  I figured there was no point in rattling her by mentioning the Bat Mitzvah card too.  She looked at me confused.  (I am an expert on what ‘confused’ looks like.)  “You know” I added helpfully, “Jewish cards…big occasion when you turn thirteen.”  “Oh” she answered, giving me the look.  “We don’t carry Jewish cards.” 

 

So okay, Clinton’s is a chain of anti-Semitic card stores I figured.  I tried all the other stores on the High Street.  There wasn’t a single bloody Bar Mitzvah card in Weybridge.  I was getting miffed.  I tried ringing a few other stores in towns I’d heard there might be one or two Jews in, but no luck.  I couldn’t believe it.  Every drug store at home in the States has twenty or thirty to choose from.  And the card stores have millions….well, okay, a whole lot.

 

“Well I guess picking up some Kwanzaa cards for my African American friends is out of the question” I snapped at the last clueless sales clerk on the phone.  Boo, who was sitting in the garden with me having coffee and enjoying the 13.2 minutes of sun we were allocated that week, asked timidly “What’s ‘Kwanzaa’?”  “Never mind” I told her, “I don’t have a clue, but I don’t really know any black people anyway.”

 

I was now seriously annoyed.  I rang a Jew I met at synagogue. (Come on.  Where else would I meet one?)  I explained my dilemma and she told me that if I wanted a Bar Mitzvah card, I had to go to Golders Green in London to get one. Seriously, I would have to take a train to London Waterloo and the underground to Golders Green to buy a Bar Mitzvah card.  I decided to just buy two ‘Congratulations on Passing Your Driving Test’ and writing ‘Mazel Tov! Just Pretend this is a Real Bar Mitzvah card ’ on them. 

 

I was still shaking my head in culture shock when Sylvia helpfully advised that I should order my Jewish New Year cards immediately, if I hadn’t already.  Apparently there’s a company on the Net that sends a box of them to you in a plain brown wrapper with a return address that says ‘Mass cards Hand Made (by the patients who still have fingers) at Father Damien’s Leper Colony, Molokai, Hawaii, USA’ to fool Her Majesty’s Postal Service.  Yeah, I had actually thought I’d just pop in to the card store and buy them.  Guess not.

 

So, continuing the theme of culture shock – this is really more than culture shock; it’s abject fear.

 

I received my tickets and instruction booklet for the High Holy Days in the post the other day.  I might have mentioned that I’m not keen on going to services for thirty-six hours straight or fasting for twenty-four.  I hadn’t decided which events I’d attend, except the Erev Rosh Hashanah one when I have an Aliyah.  Until I read the instructions.

 

Entrance is by ticket only.  There is no parking in the Synagogue’s car park.  One cannot carry a handbag or any sort of package.  Not only do you need to present a ticket, you must provide photo ID also.  If you bring a guest, they need photo ID and a utility bill with their current address.  Makes one kind of wonder if there are people here in Britain who aren’t real fond of Jews.  And who want to blow us all up into tiny little molecules of protoplasm.   The most I ever worried about at services for the High Holy Days at home was if someone had a nicer outfit than me. 

 

I went to the B’nei Mitzvah, being very vigilant about any people wearing tea towels on their heads and backpacks hanging around the shul.  A quick recap:  The mother of the Bar and Bat looked stunning.  She’s American, an attorney from New York.  Enough said.  Well, not really.  The woman sitting next to me….A Vogue ‘Don’t’.  I wanted to offer kindly, “If you drive me very quickly to my house, I’ll loan you a sweater that actually goes with that thingy that might be a skirt you’re wearing.”  Josh and Lilly both did brilliantly, and the luncheon was lavish and very elegant.  I met a relative of theirs, a doctor and a widower, but he was, sadly, G.U.  He had flown in for the B’nei Mitzvah from San Francisco.  Not exactly a short hop up the M25.  

 

I congratulated Lilly and Josh, and attempted to apologize to their mother for not even giving them a card.  She understood completely.  She said she always brings a stack of cards back with her whenever she goes to New York.

 

Obviously, this is a job for the Mule—along with the Pepperidge Farm Stuffing Mix and Bruce’s Candied Yams.   

FINALLY…YES, IT’S A BLOG!

Published August 17, 2008 by jean cohen

I’ve been busy.  That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

 

For anyone who emailed, concerned that something was wrong, everything is fine—with me.  But I somehow seem to be surrounded by desperately unhappy people, and worried about the ones far away at home.

 

I worked my shifts at Sam and the Senior Centre (I served tea to the Mayor of Elmbridge on Tuesday.  I didn’t make that up.)  I had lots of coffee dates and social engagements, shopping expeditions (but only when absolutely necessary) and had a couple ‘the earth moved…it was a nine on the Richter Scale’ dates with Bagpipe Guy.  So it’s all good.  Honestly.

 

I just think I’m a little tired of the blog; I’ve been writing it for three years.

 

But, Behold!  A New Blog From Jeano’s Wacky World:

 

BooBoo was staying at mine for a few days (Don’t ask!).  While it was extremely nice to come home to a clean house, clothes washed and dinner prepared, she insulted me by asking if I had been singing along, out loud, to my MP3 player all the way home.  “Probably” I admitted and she looked at me funny.  I took this to be Boo casting aspersions on my singing abilities.  I didn’t get mad, I got even.  I dragged her to shul on Saturday morning.  What better revenge than her having to kiss four hundred people she doesn’t know, all of whom are Jews, and exclaimed “Shabbat Shalom!” to her.  Boo looked like she was going to faint.  I had an Aliyah during the service and Boo was very proud of me, even though I had a teeny tiny fuck-up.  I made her say ‘Mazel Tov’ anyway.

 

Just as we left the synagogue after the Oneg Shabbat, the skies opened and it started to pour.  I have no idea who pissed Adonai off; it couldn’t have been me.  We dashed up the road to the Flintgate, a local pub, figuring we’d have lunch or even just a coffee until the storm passed.  Um…not.  “Do you have any money” I asked Boo.  “No, I didn’t bring a purse” she answered.  She had asked me very seriously, before we went, if she needed money for the ‘collection plate’.  “Don’t you have any money” Boo went on.  “No” I apologized, “at least not much.  I forgot to stop at the hole in the wall and ‘tap Mac’.”  I love throwing American slang into Britspeak; it makes everybody almost as confused as I usually am.  So, between us, we had all of 62 pence (about $1.20).  We sneaked out when nobody was looking and walked home in the bloody rain.

 

I think I might have mentioned that I’ve gotten even more involved with the Hospice Program by joining the fund raising committee.  My first project, which I’m chairing, is a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner for 80 people on November 14.  I know; what in bloody hell was I drinking that night?  I guess I can always get Bagpipe Guy to drive me to Heathrow and get outta Dodge City (or Weybridge) before disaster strikes.

 

I sent an urgent SOS to Pat, who is comfortably back in the States, where it’s warm and the sun shines more than once a month.  I figured she could send various critically necessary ingredients in the Mule’s suitcase whenever he pops over on business.  She wasn’t real enthusiastic: (her reply)

 

“OK, now before I get involved in your next adventure with the hospice I need to know something. Are you in anyway going to be involved in cooking this feast? Don’t take this the wrong way but i really don’t want to be reading in the paper that 80 plus got salmonella poisoning in Weybridge because the Turkeys were not cooked properly. You can stop calling me a bitch now. I am sure that I can locate some paper goods for you, no problem. You will also need stuffing mix. They don’t have the slightest idea what stuffing mix is in England. Costco sells huge apple pies, American size. And no I am not transporting a single can of Bruce’s candied yams, so if you were thinking about asking for them, forget about it.”

 

This sounds like it’s going to be fun…I think.  And once more, for the record, I know how to cook. I simply choose to ‘Just Say No’.  And I don’t have a goddamned accent.

 

Pinkie, the Irish Lad and the kids are in the States right now.  (Damn them.)  At the beach with Pat.  (Double damn them.)  Near the outlet malls.  (I hate them.)  After twelve excited texts from Pinkie gushing that they were on their way to the airport, at the airport, checking in, going through security, having a pee break, etc., she finally stopped texting.  I assumed Virgin took her mobile away from her until the plane landed in Newark.  The last text came at 2:00 in the morning:

 

“I know it’s late, but hell—we’re at Exit 121 of theYou Know What’!  Love you!  Go back to sleep! XXX”

 

I am counting the days ‘til Sister returns.  Because I miss her; not because there will be an entire suitcase crammed with the necessities of life for an ex-patriot Jewish Italian American Princess.

 

Of course, I can’t fail to mention the Olympics, which are going on right now.  The coverage on television is very xenophobic; they spend an inordinate amount of time nattering about the British athletes.  Who cares?  I am very proud of my country’s team; we have, to date, 16 medals.  And they’re all a helluva lot better looking than the British blokes.  I’m referring, naturally, to Italia.  I am not certain what we won the medals for (looking damned fine in a Speedo would be a popular event); but I’m sure we deserved them.

 

My other country (it’s always nice to have a spare) is blowing everyone out of the water (literally, too; you go, Phelps!) with 54 medals.  I’m embarrassed to confess that I always enjoyed watching the medal ceremonies when they raised the Stars and Stripes and played the National Anthem.   I caught some of the 400 meter hurdles today.  I want to go on record by saying that I personally don’t know anyone who would name their kid ‘Bershawn’.  That is not an ‘old fashioned American name’.  God.  Do I have to spell it out for you? 

 

My other, other country, Israel, has sadly not medaled yet.

 

There was an event, there had to be one, with an American, an Italian and an Israeli competing.  What to do?  Who to cheer on?  Simple really.  The Jamaican guy was totally hot.

 

CHICAGO…THAT TODDLIN’ TOWN

Published August 6, 2008 by jean cohen

This week was, of course, my birthday, and you will be forced to read every single excruciating detail (except for the celebration with Bagpipe Guy; that one’s private).  However, before we do ‘Jeano’s Party…and party…and more party’, I need to talk about the Quiz on Thursday night.

 

Sadly, it ended up being just Cheese Boy and me.  And we came in last.  I only knew one person in the picture round, but it’s okay; the Boy couldn’t identify the rest either.  We both knew Hilary Clinton and I knew she was a Democrat. I got the Connections Round—American capitol cities – and I held up my end on the occasional ‘American’ question like ‘How many presidents were assassinated in office’.  However, in the round where the last letter is the first letter of the next answer, I got stuffed.  Clue:  American city whose nickname is ‘The City that Works’.  

 

Yeah, that’s exactly what I said to Leyla after she read the question.  But I used ruder words. 

 

“Bloody hell, Cheese Boy” I grumbled, “I leave the States for a few lousy months and somebody (probably Obama) goes around giving the cities new nicknames to confuse me – like calling Detroit ‘D’. Nobody white calls it ‘D’.   Maybe they’re calling Philly ‘Hoagie’ or ‘Cheesesteak’ now.  Wow…I could go for a cheesesteak and a hoagie.  Do you think Pinkie can sneak one home from holiday in her suitcase with the 25 cartons of fags, isophrophyl alcohol, Gold Bond, Extra Strength Tylenol,  black Brian Westbrook jersey, the dozen real, proper bagels and the new Daniel Silva novel?”

 

The Boy was unimpressed.  “Well?” he asked.  “It starts with a ‘C’.”  “I don’t know” I whinged.  “Chattanooga?  Camden?  Cincinnati?  I never heard any city called ‘The City That Works.’ It’s America; everything works.” 

 

“What about the obvious one…Chicago?” he asked.  “No, you prat” I assured him, “Chicago is ‘the Windy City”, ‘the Second City’ or ‘Chi-town.”  Famous last words.

 

Of course, it was Chicago.  I argued with Leyla for about twenty minutes.  Finally, somebody pulled up Wikipedia on their mobile.  In like 1972, Mayor Daley called Chicago ‘the City That Works’, but I am sure he didn’t really mean it; in fact, he was insulting New York when he said it.  And he never meant for it to be a question in a goddamned quiz in Ashford, England in 2008.  And wasn’t he indicted for something anyway?

 

But on a positive note, birthdays in the UK are much nicer than in the States; like the Energizer Bunny, they keep going and going.  My celebrations started with a drinks party at my friend Netta’s house, which included an indecent quantity of Pimms being consumed.  When Bagpipe Guy asked in a text the next day, how I was feeling, I confessed, by return text, that I felt like I’d been ‘run over by a Mack Truck.’  The symbolism was apt, but of course it was lost on the Scotsman, who had no idea what a ‘Mack Truck’ was.  Obviously, I should have said ‘run over by an articulated lorry’.  Then he would have got it and probably laughed.

 

Next was a meal with some of my co-workers from Sam, which was also fun and involved indecent quantities of wine.  I woke up feeling like I got run over by an articulated lorry…probably on the M25…at Junction 12.  It might have been a Mercedes.

 

And despite all the other teams at the Quiz Thursday night buying me birthday drinkies, I managed to have a long girlie lunch with Lulu on Friday at the ultra posh Minnow.  I scored some brilliant pressies from her too—a beautiful sweater and necklace, and a birthday cake.

 

Friday night was my birthday date with Bagpipe Guy.  It was okay.  That was a big fat lie.  It was fantastic.  And that’s all I’m saying.

 

Saturday night was a raucous Tapas meal with the usual suspects after drinks at a pub on the River Wey, and Sunday was Music (my favourites) at the Volly since, modestly, Gabby, the DJ has a very obvious pash for me.  It’s Gabby’s birthday this week.  He invited us to his Do at the Cricket Club.  “That was nice of Gabby” I said to Boo.  “Shall we go?”  “No, Jeano” El Cheese-o needled me.  “He invited you.  He never said anything about Karen and me coming.”  Oh. 

 

I got some fantastic pressies, some CDs and an incredible book from Lou, ‘The Little Black Book of Books’ which is a guide to 1000 of the greatest books, writers, characters, quotes, etc.  The Boy thought it might be useful, since I occasionally try to sound intelligent and erudite in the blog.  Really.