All posts for the month November, 2008


Published November 29, 2008 by jean cohen

Two second place finishes this week.  I’m not a ‘not first’ kind of girl.  I’ll be sulking for days.


Tuesday was the Senile Bowl at the Hersham Day Centre.  Golly, it’s way nicer than ours in Weybridge.  There was no way in hell I was riding in the garish Elmbridge ‘CRAFT’ bus (Can’t remember a fucking thing; Oh, do I live here?)  Sanjay drove four of us and one of my team brought the other two. 


We were called ‘Weybridge WAGs’; I have no clue why.   I guess they were wives when Victoria was on the throne and now they’re cheap floozies for former soccer players on Medicare.  Yeah, right.


Being the Captain was a nightmare.  They couldn’t agree on which round to use our joker, and divided into two camps trading insults and arguing over every answer.  I had to write the answers down so it was like “Well, it’s absolutely not ‘Cutty Sark’.  Meg doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”


Or Win.  A lightbulb would go off and she’d go “Charles II”.  “Huh?” I would say.  “The question was ‘what is the second moon of Jupiter called’.  The king one was in the last round. We had to turn that one in already.” “Oh.  I just remembered.”


Fortunately, there were quite a few American questions, and I knew an embarrassing amount of trivia about Christmas.  It’s insidious how we get bombarded around your holidays with warm and fuzzy carols and folklore.  I haven’t heard ‘the Dreidle Song’ once on Smooth Radio yet. 


Note to readers:  Chanukiyot is at mine on December 21 promptly at 7:00 PM.  BEHP.  (Bring eight Chanukah presents…for me.)

Anyway we came second of seven teams.  Hersham won again, for the third year in a row.  Those guys looked awfully damned good for being practically dead.


I worked a shift at Sam on Thanksgiving Day, but I wasn’t being un-American.  I just figured I did enough turkeying with the Thanksgiving Dinner and my annual ‘serious’ blog.  If you’re keeping score, the ‘Boys won (shit!) and so did the Eagles.  I honestly didn’t know the Birds were playing.  I must be losing my touch.  Donovan got unbenched.


And while I’m at it, congrats to the Nittany Lions for winning the Big 10 Conference, with eleven wins and one loss.  Run for the Roses.


Thursday night, we were defending our title as Quiz Mavens at the Ashtree.  We were confident that we could make it two in a row.  Our name this week (chosen by Irish Lad): Wicked Bitch of the East (Coast).  I don’t know what it meant.


We started off strong, getting all ten names in the Picture Round and nine of the In the News.  We were comfortably ahead.


The Quiz Nazi always gives us the two Top Fives and then lets us have a break for a pee or a fag.


“Okay” she said, “Number 1:  Name the five oldest Ivy League Colleges in America.” 


The other teams all groaned and looked at me.


“And Number 2:  Name the sport each of these teams from Chicago plays- Bears, Bulls, Cubs, Black Hawks, and Fire.”

The other teams hissed and booed and glared at me.


“Thanks, Quiz Nazi” I yelled, “Pay ya later!”


Honestly, the blokes on the other teams all had hissy-fits.  And thirty five of them tried to get into the little cubicle with me in the Ladies Loo because I sometimes…yeah okay, often…talk to myself out loud.   Then they all trailed behind me to the garden for a fag.  Tee and Steve-o from Strange-o were laughing manically.


Jessie, from the Scooby Dos, asked, in general but looking at me, “What is it about fucking Americans?”; a deep and insightful comment.


“Gee, I don’t know” I agreed.  “I hate fucking Americans.  They’re so arrogant and self-important.” 


“Uh….Jeano” inquired Doug from the Scary Fairies, “But aren’t you…like…American?”


“God, no, Dougie” I explained (again).  “How many fucking times do I have to say ‘I’m Italian’?  Can’t you guys tell? Should I bring my passaporto next week to prove it?”


“So, do you know the answers, Jeano” asked Rob from Who Farted.


“You bet your British ass I do, Rob-o.  I’m feeling very stars and stripe-y tonight.  And it’s Thanksgiving.”


Although I messed up a bit on the Ivies– I knew them all but I wasn’t sure which were the oldest—(of course I got University of Pennsylvania right).  After all, the development we lived in in Bala Cynwyd was called ‘College Park’ and all the roads were named after Ivy League Colleges.  We lived on ‘Cornell’ Road.


I knew all the sports teams in the Windy City; I love Da Bears and Da Cubbies and Da Bulls.  I am not especially keen on Da Blackhawks.  I even knew the Second City’s soccer team, Da Fire, named after Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, even though there’s no bloody reason to have a soccer team except so that Beckett has someone to kick the white ball to when he visits Chi-town with Battlestar Gallactica.


We got the anagram and the Connections Round easily and played it safe in the Wipe Out Round, a wise decision since we were wrong on a couple and would have…wiped out.  I knew that ‘George Bush’s poodle’ referred to Tony Blair, not Gordon Brown.  Tee and I got into a little ‘Rheims…Rouen’ tiff on that one.


It was looking like a lock until the General Knowledge Round.  We had none.  Zilch.  Nada.  Diddley-squat. Zippo.  We blew it, big time.  And there was only one American question.  We ended up tied with the Scoobys for first.


We lost in the tie-breaker.  No money, no free drinkies, no bragging rights.  As Cheese Boy always says “It’s only a fucking quiz.”  


A couple dates this weekend, the Quiz Nazi’s Birthday Do, and a Trunk Show with Pinkie, plus Synagogue for my serious side. 



Published November 26, 2008 by jean cohen

It’s that time again… the one and only annual ‘serious’ blog.


I know its clichéd, and more than a little over-worked, but today is that day… Thanksgiving… the day when Americans are meant to reflect, to look back or look inward, take stock of their blessings, and give thanks to whomever they pledge allegiance to.  And eat a Turkey Ready-Meal.


Despite my Year of Living Religiously, my gratitude seems to be directed not at Yahweh or Jesus or any of the other designer deities zealots squabble about, but rather to the real, flesh and blood, (in some cases) family and friends who, fortuitously for me, play a major part in  ‘Jeano’s Strange World’.


I’ve done that quoting Kahlil Gibran thing to death, so this year I’m dedicating a song to each of you, something that evokes a special memory that we shared or makes me smile and think of you.  In many cases, it was hard choosing that ‘just perfect song’.


Don’t worry.  I won’t be singing them.


Since I see Dead People, (at least they keeping turning up at mine at 3:00 A.M. even when I haven’t been hitting the Zinfy),  it’s appropriate to begin with the No Longer Here With Us. 


Jerry.  I could go all Zen here and say that I’m living the life I was destined to live.  But I’m not.  I’m living a life I’m loving every minute of because of Jerry.  And for Jerry.  I experience every success and failure, revel in every happy moment and repent my mistakes twice as much, because I’m living for two.  Certainly the wherewithal to support my adventure was his legacy to me; but so too was his absolute conviction that I would rise to the occasion and build that new Jerry-less future to my own specifications.  It’s a work in progress, but I know he approves.  He was ‘My First, My Last, My Everything’. (Thanks for that song lyric, Barry White. So many memories; far too many choices.)


Ditto to Matthew.  In addition to Thanksgiving Day, today is his birthday.  Thirty years ago today, I gave birth in a crippling freak ice storm while a movie crew filmed Rocky 2 right outside my window at Pennsylvania Hospital.  Maybe that ‘Rocky’ thing was a portent of what was to come.  There are so many ‘what if’s’ or ‘what might have beens’.  But I wouldn’t ever want Matt to have not existed to negate the pain.  Nor will I ever stop mentioning him and recounting funny or bittersweet anecdotes about him.  His soul dwelt in the House of Tomorrow, but he enriched my life and my memories of his all too brief time with us are precious.  For my son:  John Cafferty’s ‘Tender Years’.


Grandpop.  Although he never turns up at 3:00 AM (he needs his sleep), I have to say “Grazie, Nonno, per essere Italiano.”  I wouldn’t be here if he wasn’t.  I meant in England, but, come to think of it, I wouldn’t be here here if he and grandmom didn’t have my mom.  Merda!  You know what I mean.  For Grandpop: Caruso’s ‘Funiculi, Funicula’.  He loved it and sang it to us when we were little.


Moving along to the Living…


Stuart.  Ah, what can I say about my extraordinary step-son?  He looks like Jerry, he sounds like Jerry – in fact, when he rings, my heart always stops for a beat because for a nanosecond I imagine it’s a really, really long distance call –  and he has so many of Jerry’s qualities, both good and really irritating.  I know that he loves me, and he encourages me and unselfishly kvells at my successes. Even if he did forbid me in no uncertain terms to become a Synagogue Warden in case I got blown up.  (A teal or cranberry fitch vest would be a most appropriate Chanukah present under the circumstances.)  He is a mensch and I am blessed to have him.  For Stuart: Cat Stevens’ ‘Father and Son’.


My cousins.  More living people (except for Rere, but she still counts in this category even if she’s dead) I am lucky to have such great relatives.  GerryP will always be my wise older cousin, and Joanne and Colonel Mickey among my favorites.  Blood Relative and License to Injure Slightly are my ‘go to’ cousins, too, but they should email more often.  I know, Margaret, I should call.  As far as the other sixty-two cousins, it’s just shared DNA.  For mia cucinas:  Bobby Rydell’s ‘Volare’.


Of course, I’m thankful for my friends…the true ones.  But I’m perversely grateful for the so-called friends who disappointed me or hurt me, like Toots.  They have taught me that I can rise unscathed above petty jealousies or judgmental presumptions and be comfortable with, and damned proud of who I am. For Toots: Roger Whittaker’s ‘The Last Farewell’.


Janet.  She’s my biggest cheerleader and thinks I’m wonderful.  And she tells me so often.  She’s a brilliant friend and one of the most erudite people I know.  For Janet: Judy Collins’ ‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes’.  Have I really known you and Abe that long?


Georgia.  How could I fail to mention that I was at Georgia and Ron’s in Cleveland last Thanksgiving when my Italian citizenship came through?  I’ll never forget that morning or that holiday when I was an honorary ‘Napoli’.  I will miss them (and non-stop football games) this year.  Although I love being here, a part of me wishes I was there, at least for the holiday.  For Georgia: Bobby Darren’s ‘Somewhere Beyond the Sea’.  That cruise must have been fate.


Pat.  What can I say about a friend who smuggles the necessities of American life, like Jews or Pepperidge Farm,  into the UK for me, and gives me all of her stuff that she doesn’t want anymore?  Even if she said about me: “Jeano is a genuinely nice person, once you get past that Philly attitude”.  Yeah, but… yeah, but…  I forgive you for being a New Yawker and a G-men fan.  I’ll give you ‘Philly Attitude’.   For the Mule-ess: Billy Joel’s ‘Only the Good Die Young’ because… you know why.  It’s about us.


Scary Fairy.  I would love her even if she sucked at Scrabble.  Nah.  Maybe not; she’s so sarcastic.  Maybe, but she’s a true friend.  She’s proven that, big time.  For Mary: Lee Anne Womack’s ‘I Hope You Dance’.  And I hope she does.


Karen. My ‘Jewish American Princess-in-Training’ is so embedded in my life I wonder how I managed the first forty-something years without her (it was only a tiny fib).  She cheers me up, listens to me kvetch, and goes along with almost every hare-brained scheme I come up with.  She cooks, she cleans, she irons.  We’re working on correcting that.  For BooBoo: Simon & Garfunkle’s ‘America’.  We really did ‘count the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike’, especially since we were meant to be on the Garden State Parkway at the time.


Pinkie.  I think we were ‘separated at birth or Nordstrom Rack’.  Our psychic bond is unbreakable.  We live to shop, (and shop some more), love Dick Francis and Agatha Christie, and have exactly the same sense of humor.  She gets even the subtlest funnies or digs in my blog.  She sends me cards out of the blue that are so amazingly apt. For Pinkie: Neil Diamond’s ‘Coming to America’.  JFK, no luggage, Pimm’s in a pitcher, pouring rain, and Neil; we smiled through our tears.


Lulu.  Darling, Lulu, I love you.  You make me crazy, but I can’t imagine you not being one of my best mates.  We’ve had so many adventures and I know there will be loads more.  The Sex Fairy and Queen might be hard to beat, though.  For Lulu:  Meat Loaf’s ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’.  Nobody sings it like us, drunk or sober.


Bagpipe Guy.  What incredible timing the man has!  An email extending a hand across the Pond (or, technically, for accuracy’s sake, across the River Wey) resulted in a rapprochement in our personal Border War just in time for being thankful .  I sure am happy to have Mike back in my life, for many reasons.  Relax.  I’m not going to elaborate.  For Mike: Tchaikovsky’s ‘1812 Overture’.  What?  You were expecting ‘Michael the Lover’?  That was my second choice.  Really.


Rabbi Jackie. Despite my tongue-in-cheek approach to religion (The Atheist’s Prayer: ‘Dear God, if there is one…’) my spiritual life is richer and more meaningful through her guidance and teaching.   For the Rebbe:  ‘Sabbath Prayer’ from Fiddler on the Roof.


The Blokes.  Oddly, it’s not really the ‘done thing’ in the States to have male friends… who are absolutely strictly ‘friends’.  I have so many here.  They coddle me and schlep me, tease me and kiss my JAP Tush, and bring me fags from places that start with an ‘A’. Just the way it should be.  Irish Lad, Oz Ed, Monkey Joe, Steve-o from Strange-o, Mike and Mike from Sam, Muffin Man, Jarvo, James and, last but certainly first, Cheese Boy.  For the Blokes: The Weather Girls’ ‘It’s Raining Men’.


I guess, in summation, I have to say ‘Well done, You All’ for encouraging me to be ‘Me’.  I’m where I want to be, with the people I care about most, doing what I want to do, firmly in charge of my life and not accountable to anybody.  To me:  The Pretenders’ ‘Brass in Pocket’.


Thank you all for being in my life.  Happy Turkey Day.  Go Team, Whoever’s Playing the Cowboys.   



Published November 24, 2008 by jean cohen

Last Saturday night was a raucous pub and Normal in Egham.


Last night was a date.  Wandering through the Desert-Island Discs: A conversation with Tzvi Avni and Michael Wolpe, composers from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance at NWSS, along with a performance of Avni’s ‘Summer Strings’ by the Yehudi Menuhin String Quartet.  After the performance, there was a posh champagne supper.  It was the final event in the Synagogue’s year long ‘Israel at Sixty’ celebration.


Polar opposite evenings.


Tsvi Avni is in the UK for the premier of his work ‘If This is a Man’ based on ‘Se questo e un uomo’, Primo Levi’s memoir of his incarceration in Auschwitz, which will be held in Queen Elizabeth Hall on November 30.  In the States, it was published as ‘Survival in Auschwitz’.  I’d not read any of Levi’s work before I came to Oy-veybridge; I’ve sampled a few from the NWSS Library now, although I’ve not tackled ‘If This is a Man’ yet.  Avni read from the memoir, in Italian (Levi wrote in our native language) and even with my miniscule grasp of my native tongue, the images evoked were heartbreaking. 


I would have loved to go to the London concert, but it’s been sold out for ages.


And speaking of my Italian roots, I had an electronic encounter with a goombah from Coli A Volturno, my home town.  BooBoo was at mine and we had the radio on in the background. I was creating a blog and Boo was meant to be doing her homework.  She was actually goofing off, reading me juicy tidbits of gossip from OK! Magazine.   One of my co-workers at Sam had introduced me to this station, which is the same format as Easy 101 at home. The DeeJay, or presenter as they say here, is called Paul Coia.


“Hey!  I was at school with a bunch of Coias” I told Boo.  “I wonder if he’s a relative.”  “Send him a text or an email” she suggested. 


So I did.  I emailed him.


About five minutes later, after a song, we hear the DeeJay say “I just got an email from Jean Cohen, who’s from Philadelphia in the States, and likes my show.  This is for you.”  He played ‘Philadelphia Freedom’.  I hate that stupid song.

Boo’s like “Wow!  You got mentioned on the radio!”  I’m like “Shit!  I hope nobody from Immigration’s tuned in.  I forgot to use my Italian name.”


I also got an email back from Paul saying that he’s from Scotland, but his family came from a little town near Naples called…you guessed it…Coli A Volturno.   We’re probably cousins or something.


We went to the Volly on Sunday night, something we haven’t done for ages.  Repo Man didn’t enjoy it, so we stopped going.  Gabby was chuffed to see me (naturally) and played ten songs in a row for me.  “Other people, besides Philly Girl, have tunes they’d like to hear” Cheese Boy whinged.  Sadly, the PSs were otherwise engaged (they weren’t there) so I’ve nothing to report on their attire.


When we got back to mine, we rang Scary Fairy so BooBoo could talk to her too.  It’s been a while.


When I got the phone away from Boo finally, I inquired “How ya doing?”


“Better than the Eagles” she quickly replied.  Har! Har! Har!  Thank you to everybody who emailed the details of the game yesterday.  I didn’t need a play-by-play.  Honestly.  The bloody score was depressing enough.


My ex-roomie then inquired “What’s new?  Dump any blokes this week?”


I believe she was taking the piss.  She loathes that expression.


“Nope” I told her.  “In fact, I’m storing them up for the winter.  I’ve got the Filthy Rich Jew, and two Peters on the hook now.  Oh, and Bagpipe Guy is back in my good graces… for the moment.”


Sadly, I have to report that Scary got a little raunchy about the two Peters.  This is a woman who was able to come up with twenty seven euphemisms for a penis in five minutes one Zinfy-fuelled evening, including the now classic ‘purple helmeted warrior of love’.


“I don’t think Brits use ‘Peter’” I said.  “BooBoo, does ‘Peter’ mean a putz in British?” 


Of course, a three way conversation on manly swords ensued.  Cheese Boy stared at the TV (it wasn’t on) and chugged four Fosters in a row.  I still vote for ‘Leroy’, but I am not, nor ever have, dated anyone of that persuasion.


Johnny is doing extraordinarily well after his heart transplant (and craving a lot of Chinese food)  I’m pleased to report.  Scary is heading to Manasquan for Turkey Day.  And it’s Scary’s birthday next week, on December 12. 


I did take the piss too, by enquiring when she’s going to put up the Christmas tree.  Start laughing, everybody.


Note to Scary:  Yo.  Give me Attytood about the Birds.  Back at youse. 


It’s going to be a busy week.  The Senile Quiz, a couple extra shifts at Sam,  dates with Peter #1 and Peter #2, and the Quiz Nazi’s Birthday Do.   


I will have lots to dish.



Published November 22, 2008 by jean cohen

Last week, using Limp-o-man’s suggestion, we were the ‘Sad Bitches’ at the Quiz.  It didn’t bring us any luck.  This week, we were ‘Stylish Bitches Playing Bagpipes.’


We won…decisively.


You make the call.


The Boy was stuck in Doncaster or Darfur, or some place starting with an ‘D’, so it was on Irish Lad, Bald Rob and me.  Pinkie was on Nights.  We dragooned BooBoo, who hates the Quiz, into filling in until Lou arrived.


We were totally amazing…even if one of us got three American questions wrong.  Bloody hell! How many times do I have to say ‘Sorry!’?  I don’t know squat about Obama; sue me.


We got  both Top Fives and the Connections Round.  We got all ten answers in the Wipe Out Round, giving us a bonus 5 points, putting us six points ahead of Forgotten.


In the General Knowledge Round, our luck held.  We all knew really stupid stuff.  I did blow the American question in that round (I was obviously having an Italian night).  Tee, I’ll save you a text or phone call.


Note to Muffin Man:  Which American sports team is the most profitable from endorsements and logo merchandise?  I said ‘Dallas Cowboys’.  It was the ‘Damned Yankees’.  Go ahead.  Take the piss, Mike.  I still don’t believe the Quiz Nazi. (This is the new nickname I coined for Leyla; all she needs is the whip and jackboots.)


Nevertheless, we won by four points.   We all started texting everybody like crazy and hugging and kissing…everyone in the pub.

Speaking of the pub, it was a strange night.  Maybe it’s the full moon.  It’s definitely the Triangular Phase on Planet Strange-o.  Rob kept trying to get me drunk.  I have no idea why.


 “Tee” I whinged, “Make him stop.  What’s up with him tonight?”  The Irish Lad just laughed and came up with a few colorful scenarios.


Meanwhile, that bloke…you know who…was all over me.  He followed me into the garden.  He did enquire about what happened to Repo Man before he made his move.  I should have lied and said Limp-o was laid up after emergency prostate surgery.  I didn’t; I confessed that I dumped him.  So Steve asked me out.


Back at the table, I started telling Irish Lad the story.  “Ya know, I have lousy luck with ‘Steves’.  South Jersey Guy was a Steve, Doo Wop Guy was a Steve, British Commando Guy was a Steve.  Limp-o Man was Steve, too.  Even that wanker who took me to Casa Romana for dinner was a Steve.  Do I need another Steve in my life?”


“There you go” Terry crowed.  “Just start calling Rob ‘Steve-o from Strange-o’.  That should nip it in the bud.”  Irish Lad is so damned smart.


On Friday morning I hosted a Coffee Morning for 75 for the Hospice.  I’m starting to get on my own nerves being so altruistic and charity-minded. I need to buy a set of wings to go with my halo.  It wasn’t a big deal really.  They have these mornings every couple weeks so there’s a set format.  We got about sixty people.

I just corralled the helpers to set up and take down, and threatened people into doing ‘tables’, like the White Elephant Table, Book Table, Christmas Decorations Table, and, of course, Raffle Table.  I made the coffee; someone else served and cleaned up.  Come on, this is not a fairy tale.  I make fantastic coffee.  I don’t do washing up.


I was telling Pinkie about it during our daily natter and she said something profound.  (She usually says stuff like ‘You shoulda bought those burgundy boots, too.’)  She said “I’ve lived in Weybridge eleven years.  You’ve been here nine months and you know more people than me.  Practically everybody on the High Street says hello to you.”  I am special, aren’t I?


This coming week, on Tuesday, I’m captaining a quiz team…for the Senior Centre.  It’s an intra-Surrey competition of all the Day Care Centres being held at the Walton Senior Centre.


Sanjay, the Weybridge Centre Manager, told me that he heard I do a pub quiz every week and could I field a team from our clients.


Small Towns!  “Did you hear Jarvo’s in the States, I had Thai with Lulu, shagged Bagpipe Guy, and bought a stunning    mauve suede jacket, too?” I asked. 


“No problem, Sweetie” I told him.  “There must be six or seven people here who know we’re actually in England and it’s 2007.” 


I nixed all the deaf ones right off the bat.  I could see me screaming at the top of my lungs “No!  I’m not telling you to carry on.  Who starred in ‘Carry On, Henry’’’?


I asked them a few questions.  “Who’s the president of the United States, Nigel?”  “Um…Woodrow Wilson?”  “Okay, Nigel’s on the team.  I hope they ask a lot of questions about World War 1.”  “What about that lady who’s always nattering about the London Blitz” suggested the Carer helping me interview.  “Good idea” I agreed, “We need someone who knows sports.”


You can be sure you’ll get a full report.