All posts for the month January, 2010


Published January 31, 2010 by jean cohen

‘It was the best of times; it was the worst of times’.  Dickens, I think.  ‘A Tale of Two Cities.’


After a bit of a rocky patch in the late Fall/early Winter, things have generally been comfortably back on track.  But bad shit always happens.


The ‘Two Cities’ part is apt too, since the bad stuff happened across the pond in New York.  And, of course, I’m here.


Our friend, Pat, passed away, from cancer.  I’ve known for several months that she was ill.  When Pinkie and I stayed with Pat and Mike in the Big Apple when we went to the States in October, she’d just started treatment at Sloan-Kettering.  She asked that we not discuss it here, and neither of us did.  I never mentioned Pat, or the fact that she was ill, in the blog.


I won’t discuss any of it now, except to say that I am… I don’t know what I am.  Upset seems totally inadequate.  Pissed off, sad, angry?  Those work. 


I was sort of a coward in New York.  Pat had a chemo appointment and Pinkie and I were going to go with her for company.  Guess who chickened out at the last minute?  “I can’t do it” I confessed to Pinkie.  “I can’t sit there and watch her get chemo.  I spent too many months watching Jerry get his chemo.  I’ll stay here.” 


Pinkie, bless her, went along without me.  I’m not real proud of myself at that moment.


I’m not even going to wax philosophical.  Succinctly, Pat was my friend, and she was special.  I will miss her.


I worked at a Sam Do on Friday night at Christ Prince of Peace.  I was chatting to Father Tom, and took the opportunity to ask him to pray for Pat at mass on Saturday.  Which he did.  A couple friends reported back that he mentioned me, and Thanksgiving, and Pat’s generous contributions to the dinner.


And since we’re all depressed as hell now, in my weekly chat with Princie, he asked me to light a yartzeit candle for my step-daughter Aileen next week, on February 15.  I can’t believe it’s a year already.  I promised I would, and that I’d say Kaddish, too.  So everybody please offer up a little prayer to whomever for Aileen, who died too young and tragically.


I think we need to move on to more cheerful topics now.


I worked my shifts as usual, but the Bookshop is not as much of a fun place as it used to be.  We’ve gone hi-tech, 21st Century.  We take credit cards now.  Customers have to spend at least 5 quid to charge their purchase, and, truthfully, we clerks look at each other and pray “₤4.99, please, God.  Not a penny more.”  If someone goes a little overboard (₤5.01), we do the dance.  “Oh no, I rang up the last sale; it’s your turn.  Turn about and fair play.  Jolly good and blah, blah, blah.  I’ll just go restock the British Royal Family shelf.” 


It was a excessively social week, even for me; lunch with Lisa, my American co-worker; coffee with Deb, my Boston budskie, and a shopping blitz with Live Gerry, my other American friend.  (I’ve had to modify her name; it got too confusing.  Me to BooBoo: “I saw Gerry on Wednesday.”  BooBoo: “Oh, did he turn up at 3:00 in the morning again?”  Me: “No.  Not Dead Jerry the one I used to be married to.  Gerry, the living one who’s from Georgia and lives on Hangar Hill.”  BooBoo: “Oh.  Okay.  But then there’s GerryP, too, your cousin in Philadelphia.” Thanks for clearing that up, Boo.


This was oddly similar to a convo with Pinkie where I was describing with evil relish chats with Karen (BooBoo) and Karen (ex-partner of The Turd of Camberley on the topic ‘Vengeance is Mine, Sayeth the JAP’.  Me:  “And then Karen said…the other Karen…”  Pinkie: “You lost me about four ‘the other Karens’ ago.  Who the hell bloody said what?”


In addition to all those American Hours, I squeezed in Yom Ha’Shoah at shul, dinner with Brenda, Purim Spiel confabs, Tuesdays with Tom, and a date with a new guy.  The new guy was, sadly, a ‘not ever going to happen’ guy, so he’s already history.  Plus, his name is David.  There is no room in the little pink house, or my head, for another David. 


Tom, on Tuesday, was Tom.  That’s a endlessly entertaining thing.  We had dinner at Our Italian Restaurant, and strolled back to mine discussing how to make broccoli soup.  (Tom had it for his starter.)


Later in the evening, out of positively nowhere that I can figure, he started talking about Refrigerator Perry.  Something to do with Tom losing some weight, I think.  He is quite cuddly. I mentioned the historic game where ‘Frig picked Sweetness up by his pants and tossed him over the goal line for 6.  The Georgie Lad metaphorically skated onto very thin ice by opining that Walter Peyton was ‘the greatest running back ever’.  You don’t say that to Eagles fans.  He segued quickly onto Mike Singletary, but only got himself in deeper doodoo. 


Sensing that he was sinking through the thin ice, he said winsomely “I think Jim McMahon was over-rated.”  “Over-rated” I shrieked.  “How can you even say that?  McMahon was very nearly perfect!  He has one of the lowest INT ratings ever.”  Obviously he forgot that McMahon played two seasons with the Birds when he left Chicago.


Tom sort of figured at this point that he was in the icy water way over his head.  I made sure  he knew.  “Sweetie, are you, like, a Bears fan?  I have issues with Da Bears; you know, the Fog Bowl and Buddy Ryan and shit.  In fact, Bears fans don’t get to explore my Mason Dixon line.”


Thankfully, he moved on to the Houston Oilers and ole Bum Phillips.  I don’t give a rat’s ass about them.




Published January 24, 2010 by jean cohen

I had this issue I couldn’t resolve.  And believe me, I tried.  I think it was about the way it all played out—or more accurately, didn’t have a nice, neat line under it reading ‘closure’.


Yes, my life is chock-a-block busy with great people and worthwhile endeavors.  I shouldn’t sweat the small stuff.  But I hate coming out on the losing side of anything, whether its playing Scrabble with Scary Fairy or romance.


In my weekly kvetching session with Princie, he said “Do a blog”. 


I vehemently disagreed, arguing that the scum sucking bottom dweller in question didn’t deserve blog space.


And he doesn’t.  This is, as always, about me.


The Turd of Camberley has come in and out of my life three times, each one more cataclysmic and hurtful. 


The last ‘out’ was particularly damaging, probably because it was the third time.   It had been his classic modus operandi, a promise to ring at a certain time, no call, and then absolutely nothing else.

No reply to my text, or email.


Aside from the blatant lack of good manners, I just knew there had to be more to the story.  But in a singularly stupid fit of self deprecation, I thought it was about what must be lacking in me.  I hadn’t measured up in some crucial criterion.  I always thought I had more than a lion’s share of self-confidence, bordering maybe just a smidge on narcissism.  Psychological abuse can truly fuck your head up.


Time is supposed to heal all wounds, and I’m sure it would have.  Eventually.  But time wouldn’t provide any definitive answers.  And I needed those answers.


Social networking is a nuclear holocaust.  Don’t think it isn’t.  People feel compelled to babble the most picayune details of their lives to the entire world.  I’m not a fan of Facebook, and seldom go on to the site.


A friend told me that the Turd and his new ladylove were indulging in a breathless, gushing ‘guess what we’re doing next’ Show N’ Tell on the Public Walls .  Of course I was damned curious about the woman who apparently has that elusive quality that I am missing.


But in fairness to myself, I also thought that it was petty and mean to shove that crap in Karen, the Turd’s ex-partner’s, face.


And to save my face, I could try to do damage control here by justifying dating someone’s partner by recounting the lies he told me about their relationship.  But I won’t.  Mea culpa.  I had a serious lapse of moral judgment.


Anyway, BooBoo, Pinkie and Toots, the Maven of Self-help books, faithfully provided me with support and TLC.  It just wasn’t enough.


I pondered the idea for a few days, not sharing it because I knew all three of them would try to talk me out of it.


I wrote to Karen.


I told her that I’d had an affair with the Turd, and that his behavior and treatment had left me with zero self-esteem.  I surmised that he probably treated her equally, if not more, badly and asked if we could speak.  Perhaps we could both get some answers and, hopefully, closure.


I’m not real proud of this next part.  My impression of Karen had been based on the picture he painted of her.  I was comparing it to me, who I am (at least who I think I am).  Am I not a sophisticated, erudite Jewish American Princess?  Not to mention extremely well-dressed? 


We talked for a couple hours.  Amazingly, we both made a new friend.  Of course, she’s nothing like the woman he complained about.  In reality, we are both simply women.  Very different, certainly, but despite the unpleasant connection through the Turd, we just … clicked, the way women sometimes do on some ‘female emotional level’.  I really like her.  We immediately became friends on Facebook.


Back to the Turd of Camberley.  Wow.  If he was Pinocchio, his nose would turn up at Terminal 5 an hour before his people mover got there.  I honestly lost track of all the things that turned out to be outright lies.  In piecing together bits of the story, one jaw-dropping fact emerged; The Turd was dating the new girl and me simultaneously, during reconciliations #2 and #3.  What do you suppose that was about?  Do you think he was comparing us for the most useful options, like a used car? 


And just ‘cause I’m a bitch, in Sri Lanka his mobile didn’t die because he ‘stupidly forgot to pack his charger’.  He was just worn out from texting both of us.


So.  Mazel Tov to me.  I got my closure.


I’m sad because the Mike I was so hung up on never really existed.


I’m relieved because such a close encounter with a genuine sociopath could have had dire consequences.  I got off easy, when I put it in context.


I’m happy because I made a new friend. 


I’m sympathetic because the new woman is definitely in for some unpleasant surprises. 


I’m proud because I recognized that I needed to do something to put this mess behind me, besides whinging to my friends, and I did it.


I guess I am that sophisticated, erudite Jewish American Princess, after all.


I guess I’ll go buy a stunning new outfit.




Published January 23, 2010 by jean cohen

I went shopping in Kingston the other day.  They have the best TKMaxx.  For Britain.  It wouldn’t last a week on the Garden State, but that’s a topic for some other blogger.  I won’t bore you with the details of what I bought. 


I passed a shop, I don’t even know what kind, and I saw this poster in the window.  There was such an awesome saying on it that I instantaneously decided to steal it and pass it off as my own.  The saying, not the poster.  Shoplifting is not one of my particular vices if Somebody from shul is reading this.


The saying is: ‘Well-behaved women rarely make history’.


“Wow” I thought when I thought that cool slogan up. “Damn, I’m good.”  (Okay… Sometimes I fib.  But hardly ever.  And mainly about my weight, which doesn’t count for The Book .)


I meant yes I’m good at thinking up clever sayings, but I’m also pretty good, the boring kind.  As in ‘well-behaved’.  Oh sure, I pen a smutty, mean blog, but I am basically…well… nice.  Ask anybody.  Almost anybody.  (There are a one or two somebodies maybe you shouldn’t ask.)


But I want to ‘make history’.  Hell, I want to pass famous and go all the way to infamous.  I want people to shake their heads in shock and awe when they hear my name.  (My brother-in-law, who has exactly the same name only spelled like a boy’s, might not endorse this particular aspiration.)


So I decided to do something calculatedly evil.  I approached it gleefully, vengefully, cold-bloodedly with an icy smile and a flick of distain of my glorious vibrant red hair.

 I have to use those goddamned adverbs somewhere when I delete them from the Great American Expatriate Novel. They rattle around in my brain begging to be unleashed.  Sample: “Good morning, Deaf Peter.  A cup of insulting and stiff with hostility nice tea and a sausage roll this morning?”  Deaf Peter: “Yes, please.”


What did I do?  Well, of course I’m not going to tell you.  You will have to wonder.  But I did set in motion, I hope, a chain of cataclysmic events that will rain down figurative Scud missiles on the intended target’s head.  There is a life lesson to be learned from this: seriously piss off Jeano at your own peril.


Yep.  I’ll keep you posted.


I worked a lot with JDavid this week.  At the top of his agenda was to drag me to the Vodaphone Shop to buy an electronic leash for me.  What I mean is a work mobile phone.  Of course I’ve got a mobile- who doesn’t- but David got frustrated by my tales of hanging out a second floor window by my heels vainly reaching up to try to catch Orange’s signal when it passes through Weybridge on alternating Tuesdays.  He suspected maybe I just didn’t answer when his name came up in the little box.


That part above is actually true, if a bit exaggerated.  Pinkie has Orange too.  One evening I got a text from her inquiring ‘What’s funny?’  Gottenu, she needs a bloody hobby I thought as I texted back ‘I don’t know.  David Letterman’s monologues? The schmatte the Turd of Camberley’s new girlfriend is wearing in her Facebook picture? What’s the category?’


‘YOU texted me’ came back.  ‘You said ‘that’s funny’.’


She was right; I had texted her… two weeks earlier … in reply to a text she sent me about the Simpsons paying a Shiva call.  That’s life on Planet Orange.


So I have a cool new Triple D (for ‘David Dialogue Device’ or ‘3D’ which even gets a signal when I’m in the bathroom, with the shower going.  It rings a lot. And now I have two phones to remember to take with me when I go out and try not to lose in the house so I have to call myself to find out where the hell it’s hiding.  I cannot foolishly forget to pack two chargers if I go on holiday.


This was a week crammed with meetings and social arrangements, plus the obligatory tryst with Tom.  I whinged to BooBoo that I’d barely been home except to change outfits and check my email and I was exhausted. (I still haven’t figured out how to do email on either phone.  I’m not sure they’ve invented ‘email’ yet on Planet Orange.)  She was less than sympathetic.


“Don’t complain” she told me sternly. “You’re accomplishing more than even you ever fantasized when you were stuck on the Garden State.” And, of course, she’s right.








Published January 18, 2010 by jean cohen

People say “If you want something done, and done well, ask a busy person”.  I am certainly a busy person.  Apparently, I am also a ‘girl who can’t say ‘no’.  (No snarly comments, please.)


What have I gotten myself into now?


I am producing and directing the Purim Spiel at shul.  I have absolutely no experience with theatricals of any kind except watching from the audience.  This should be interesting.  If you don’t know what Purim is, go back and read last year’s Purim blog, or google it.  I’m not explaining it.


It’s all JDavid’s fault.  Miriam, the shul’s Festivals Coordinator, asked him to do it.  He suggested me.  He wheedled and groveled (I so adore men who grovel) and I gave in.  It didn’t sound that complicated.


I stole a Play from a guy called Henry in Marlboro, New Jersey, so that pesky creative part was sorted.  Miriam sent an email blast to all the members of shul for thespians, so we were on our way.


“Yo, Mim” I inquired curiously during a chat over coffee.  “When is Purim this year?”  (Damn and blast that Hebrew calendar; I’m never sure when anything is.)


“Um… Sometime in March?” she guessed.


I went home and googled it.  Bloody Oy Vey!  February 27!  That’s like, soon.  Then I had to approve some purchase orders for Sanjay for 100 skeins of knitting wool and 200 assorted greeting cards, plus Valentine’s decorations and I got distracted.


Mim rang to say she’d gotten one call from a budding actress.  Great.  I had guilted Jackie, our beloved Rabbi, into agreeing to participate, so we had three people to play eight parts, including a carpenter from Nazareth called Jesus.  Not to mention costumes, sets and props.  And a band.


This Broadway Producer stuff is a lot of work.  Does Mel Brooks have this much tsuris? We scrapped the play idea, and JDavid and I (mostly I) wrote a spiel.  And a couple songs.  Well, we stole those, too.  At least the music.  We just wrote new words—Jewish ones for ‘We are the Chosen (Champions)’ and ‘Hey, Jews (Jude)’.  I’m picturing the carpenter guy, Jesus, singing one.


Ya know that thing about Tom?  What he said?  Last week?  I never did remember, so I texted him.  ‘Yo, Sweetie… We were in bed.  You said something really clever.  What?’


Back came a testy-ish male response.  ‘As I recall, I said a lot of things.  Can you narrow it down?  I know I explained how to play Whist.’


Yeah, he did.  I think we might have been talking about Teddy Pendergrass.  Which veered on to the Schuylkill Expressway.  Where Teddy had the accident, which Jerry & I saw happen, right before the Belmont Avenue exit.  Which led to Topps Teddy & his Teddy-bears cards, which led to Whist.  Don’t ask; and all in a Geordie accent.


‘No’ I texted back. ‘But I said ‘that’s going in the blog.’


Back came an immediate answer.  Hmm.  It was funny and clever.  But can it appear in a family-oriented blog?


A few weeks ago, I played Tom a song by Mark Knopfler, which he’d never heard.  It’s called ‘Sailing to Philadelphia’.  It’s about two Geordie lads called Jeremiah Dixon and Charley Mason who go to America as surveyors.  Part of the chorus goes “we are sailing to Philadelphia…to draw the line…the Mason-Dixon Line.”


Anyway, out of nowhere, Tom referred to a portion of my anatomy as ‘I’m exploring your Mason-Dixon Line.’  See.  I told you it was funny and clever.  There goes my PG rating.


And speaking of my blog, I hit a milestone on Saturday.  My visitor-o-meter hit the big 3-0-0-0-0.  That’s 30,000 hits on the blog.  Roughly figuring it out from when I started on MSN, that’s about 638 hits a month.  I don’t know if that’s a lot or a little.  I do know that lots of people read a few weeks’ or a month’s worth at a time, so I don’t have a handle on it.  I do know that Janette is not one of the 638.  Or probably Somebody either. 


I did my volunteer gigs and did a bunch of JDavid stuff, but I didn’t do much socially.  Except rewrites and edits on The Great American Expatriate Novel.  Sally, or The Editor from Bloody Hell, as I like to call her, is sure picky.


Firstly, there was no way in hell I was changing the locale from Tunisia in 1943 to Hanoi in 1968.  Or the hero from an ‘evil Nazi who’s handsome, conflicted and maybe not so evil’, to an American marine who looks just like Tom Cruise.  And the heroine will definitely not morph into a Viet Cong sniper called Francois; she’s a beautiful, gutsy American from Philadelphia named Jean.  I have a wonderful imagination.  But I’m not plagiarizing ‘Brokeback Mountain’  in a rice paddy.


Seriously, Mikey likes it.  That means ‘Sally likes it’.  ‘The War Inside the Walls.’  As she puts it, she’s ‘engaged’.  Since she’s married, I’m going with the assumption that she’s enjoying the story.


She is a bugger, though, on certain things.  Oddly, strangely, repetitiously and grumpily, she carps that I use too many adverbs.  I am dismayed, shocked, speechless, and probably bellicose.


So far, I’ve gotten back the Prologue and Chapters One through Six.  I’ve finished the editing on the Prologue.  Her comments sort of went “It sucks.  It’s boring. Lose the ‘geography lesson on Tunisia’. Get rid of all the goddamned adverbs. Think of a different way to get across what you want to say.  You’re supposed to be a writer.”  Well, okay, Sally,  if you say so.


I’m hard at work deleting the 5000 adverbs in Chapter One. And pondering Purim, and Esther and Haman.  And I wonder why I’m confused sometimes.






Published January 13, 2010 by jean cohen

‘Somebody’ said I shouldn’t write mean stuff in the blog.  No, I still have no idea why.  So that probably precludes me writing in depth about Carmen and Justin’s wedding reception…


Wait a minute!  I am mean.  And you like me for it all the more.

Besides, I am fussy and live to criticize anything and everything not up to my exacting American standards.



Pinkie was on Nights so I went with the Irish Lad and Amy.  It was at a reputedly very nice place, called l’Auberge, which I think is a fake-o French restaurant run by Two Guys from Harrison.


Note to British readers:  That was a screamingly funny reference to this chain store, in the States, that made Wal-Mart seem positively posh.


The food was hors d’oeuvres.  I swear, I absolutely swear, that they had boxes of them in the kitchen from Costco’s.  You know: the 100 piece Cohen’s Party Packs.  That’s what they’re called.  Honestly.


Scratch and Mrs. Scratch were the musical entertainment.


It was quite different from an American wedding reception.  Because… Well, because it was.  But it was a lovely party.  Really.  Justin and Carmen were so cute.  Newlyweds are so cute; all that kissie bear and huggie face shit.


I can’t, however, fail to mention that I saw more God-awful attire choices in that room.  Honestly, I thought ‘wedding reception’ meant ‘dress drop dead gorgeous’.  Apparently not.  To one woman, it meant wear a shmatte with big lurid flowers and add a pair of geometric tights to insure mass vertigo.  She was a walking, talking Rorschach Test.  It said “The Vogue Do Editor just swallowed a bottle of Prosac” to me.  I could go on and on.  But I won’t.


But check ‘British Wedding’ off my Still to Do list.  Not much left on that at all.  Although I’ve added one: Try to understand Tom when he talks fast.


The Friends of the Weybridge Centre had their committee meeting on Tuesday.  Most surprisingly, Reg resigned as Chair.  This leaves us with the Guy who falls asleep during meetings, the Guy who’s deaf, and Vicki, Hester, Phyllis and me. 


I might have mentioned that I’m the Secretary, and have signatory powers on our checking account.  What a mess that was organizing!  I needed these forms completed attesting to the fact that I am me.  Well, like, who else would I be?  There were only very specific professionals who could vouch that I am that most welcome resident from Italia and not that lawbreaking American one .  And I didn’t know anybody in those categories.


Well, I did (I know positively everybody in Surrey) but it just didn’t work.  “How about your Rabbi” Vicki suggested.  “Yeah, she knows me, I guess” I agreed.  “But I only see her on Saturdays and she can’t write on Saturday.  Because of the Sabbath, you know?” 


“Well, how about your doctor?”   So I checked with the friendly staff at the NHS Centre.  “No! No! No!” the clerk responded.  “The doctor is too busy pretending he cares in 10 minute intervals to sign forms.  But he can see you on June 25th .  If you’re really, really sick.”  (A coveted appointment with a physician can only go for ten minutes; questions and conversation are verboten.)


Vicki said she’d figure something out.  She mentioned the Post Master at the local Her Majesty’s Mail, but I didn’t know him.  “Is that the dude with the beard and turban?” I asked.  “Yeah, I definitely don’t know him.”


Unsinkable Vicki rang me early in the morning to say that she’d found someone suitable.  Maybe I should make her in charge of finding me a goddamned man. 


“Barry, the curate from St. James Church, will be at your house at 10:00” Vicki said.


“Really?  What should I wear?” I inquired, all a-tingle.  How many times do you think a minister turns up at mine?  It was a valid question.  (Answer: Not often enough if he’s single.)


So Barry turned up, wearing his minister clothes, giving every single body in Rede Court something else to talk about besides Mad Tommy’s latest escapade with the police.  I wonder what Mad Tommy talks about?


I presented my documents, which Barry scrutinized carefully, and he filled in the necessary forms confirming ‘Regina is an upstanding Italian person and here legally’.  The whole thing was pretty exciting. 


Of course, now I have to approve purchase orders for the Centre and sign checks.  Cheques, I mean, as I keep being corrected.   Fortunately, I just have to put my John Hancock on them.  I still have to dash over to Pinkie’s whenever I have to write a cheque for a refresher.  I always do it wrong otherwise.  


Anyway, back to the Committee meeting and Reg resigning, somehow I am now the Vice Chair of the Committee.  Vicki is the Chair.  I’m sorry, but I really, really had to go to the bathroom.  I guess I should have held it in.


So the ‘couple hours’ a month Sanjay mentioned is now several hours every week on Centre business.  I’m organizing ten bus trips for this year’s outings at the moment.  I’m thinking at least five of them should be shopping trips.  Hey.  I’m the boss; they’ll go where I say they go.


I had my usual amazing ‘the earth moved way better than Haiti’ date with Tom on Tuesday night.  He said something really funny.  I said “That’s going in the blog.”  But I forget what it was.  I didn’t have a pen and paper handy to jot it down.  I’ll ask Tom if he remembers, and let you know. 


I’m embarrassed to admit that I cooked.  Again.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me, and my appointment with Dr. Comer’s not ‘til June.  I hope I won’t keep, you know, doing it.  Cooking.  The truth was it was 40 below zero and icy out; no way was I slipping up Monument Hill and then sliding back down.  I texted Tom ‘Not putting my nose outside tonight.  Skip Our Italian and proceed directly to mine.  I cooked!’


I just whipped up a batch of chili, because I had all the fixings in stock.  BDavid had given me a tip for making chili: put a square of chocolate in it.  (Just a small piece, not like a whole Cadbury’s.)  I think it was fantastic.  Tom raved about it.  Even I liked it.


And finally, BDavid sent me a joke about heightened security alerts.  I’ve seen these before; this one is a little different and funny, so I’m sharing it here.


The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have raised their security level from "Miffed"
 to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not
 been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out.  errorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance"

warning level was during the great fire of 1666. 

The Scots raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let’s get
the Bastards" They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason
they have been used on the front line in the British army for the last
300 years.

 The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its
terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide". The only two higher levels in
France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender."

 Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout loudly and excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans also increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbour" and "Lose".

The Belgians are all on holiday as usual.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries"
to "She’ll be right, mate". Three more escalation levels remain,
"Crikey!’, "I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend" and
"The barbie is cancelled". So far no situation has ever warranted use
of the final escalation level.




Published January 9, 2010 by jean cohen

Well, the snow continued to fall unabated until there was at least 6” of the wintery white stuff.  It was scary.


I was glued to Sky News watching farmers in Somewhere, England pulling sheepies out of snowdrifts and Tesco’s vans trying to get up inclines to the stores with emergency rations of Stella Artois. 


As the trains, planes, subways, buses and Tesco’s vans weren’t running, getting out of Dodge City wasn’t a viable option.  Calls to the Right Coast elicited the information that it was snowing there and/or 5 degrees below zero, depending on who I talked to, so I just stayed put. 


It’s funny really… strange funny… that I’m perfectly happy to putter around in my little pink house when I want to.  When I can’t go out, I get a serious case of cabin fever.  Sam was closed, and plans with friends postponed until the snow is gone.  Probably in April. 


“I’m bored” I whinged to BooBoo on the phone.  “I ate that entire box of cookies that I got from the Salvation Army as a Christmas Pressie.”  


“Well do something” Boo advised.  She’s so unsympathetic.   That could have something to do with the fact that she’s snowbound with two dogs, ten puppies and CheeseBoy.  “Write a blog.  You’ve been very lax in that area lately.”


“Don’t want to” I pouted.  “Well, watch a movie, or read, or clean your house.”  (Tanya didn’t make it ‘cause of the dangerous conditions from hers to mine; it’s one block.)


I wasn’t that bloody bored.


I did do what I always did when it snowed back home.  I made a huge pot of Italian soup.  Jerry and the kids would always ask, when the forecast predicted snow, “Do you have all the fixings for Italian soup?”  And I would double-check the pantry and the freezer in the garage to make sure.


It’s a little tough here; I can’t get exactly the right ingredients.  But I stocked up on some when I was home in the Fall.  I had to use Parmesan cheese instead of Locatelli, but it tasted okay.  And I couldn’t get marrow bones at Waitrose.  But the house smelled Italian, and like home, while it was cooking, so I sort of cheered up.


Tom, of course, made it to Weybridge.  I guess he really, really missed me.  He did ring on his trip back to London to bitch that the taxi driver wouldn’t drive down the hill to the Station and made Tom walk all the way down.  “Gee, that sucks” I commiserated.  I was in my fluffy Eagles ‘jammies, drinking a cappechino and watching Law & Order.  And he missed his train.  The poor Sweetie!


Fortunately, JDavid rang on Thursday morning.  “What are you up to?” he inquired cheerfully.  “I’m trying to eat everything in my cupboards by noon” I confessed.  “I’m bored, bored, bored.”


“Feel like working today?” 


Gottenu!  Music to my ears.  Is the Pope a German?  Darling David came over and picked me up; we went to his and spent six fruitful, exciting hours working on Value Maximisation for Dummies.  Hey, I was out, I got paid, and I got a nice lunch at the Oatlands Chaser.  Don’t knock it. 


By Friday, I just had to get out.  Fortunately, I had some place to go.  Carmen, the friend who was getting married, had stayed overnight on her last night of singledom at the Ship on the High Street.  Pinkie and I slipped and slid up the unplowed, unsalted, unshoveled road to watch her get dressed.  It’s an illustration of my extreme desperation; I spend enough time obsessing over my own dressing.  Yet I couldn’t wait to watch somebody else do it.


What to say?  Hmm.  A bit of backstory.  Carmen’s ethnicity is Indian (the India kind, not the Chief Halftown kind).  She’s very dark.  So I concur, and I’m sure Ruby would agree, that white would not have been a good choice.  Her dress was purple.  And black.  And strapless.  The bridesmaids wore black.  I promise to post some snaps as soon as Pinkie forwards them.


After Carmen & Company left for the Registry Office, I skidded my way to Waitrose to replenish my bare cupboards.  Along with every single other person in Weybridge.  They’re predicting snow again on Sunday.


Published January 6, 2010 by jean cohen

Surrey under Siege, Part 2!  Golly.  Been here, done that.  Last year.  At least I’m not getting ready to move this time and having panic attacks.


Yes, it snowed.  I ascertained this fact by looking out the doors in my lounge.  Although I heard people screaming and milling about in mass hysteria on Catherine Howard Court.


I turned on Sky News on telly and Hampshire, Berkshire, a whole laundry list of other ‘Shire’ places as well as Surrey-shire got pummeled with at least 2” of the white stuff.  The Southern Counties are closed until further notice.  Sky said it was 16”; I would recognize 16” if I saw it.  Trust me. 


So obviously nobody wanted to go out and play today; Carol begged off on a reccy to every Charity Shop in Shepperton we had planned.   I guess I have to do a blog.


What have I been up to?


New Year’s Eve I went to a dinner party at Hester’s house.  Rather a ‘different’ celebration than the usual New Year’s fare.  It was all ladies.  And all widows.  I only changed outfits twice. I mean, like, it didn’t really matter, did it?  Of course, Hester greeted me with the comment “Grey and black?  Warm Autumns can’t wear those colors.”  “Yo!  I adore this jacket and I look stunning” I defended myself.  “Will Iris or Doreen talk about me tomorrow because I looked a teensy bit washed out?”


Everyone made something.  Mr. Waitrose was on holiday in Tenerife so I, single-handedly, whipped up my famous stuffed mushrooms.  Honestly.  That is not a whopper.  I couldn’t get the specific Italian sausage that I needed, substituting bacon instead, but they were delicious.  Everyone said so.  And everyone asked for the recipe.


So for the second time, I didn’t watch the ball drop in Times Square with Dick Clark.  I watched Big Ben bong and fireworks on the Thames.  Another year over.  And with the disasters of the Fall, I’m not really sad about that.


New Year’s Day was quiet.  I spent part of it—a good part of it—on Fox Sports on my laptop monitoring Bowl Games for my pool.  Congratulations, JoPa and the Nittany Lions, who defeated the LSU Tigers in the Capital One Bowl.  And a very tepid ‘mazel tov’ to the Buckeyes who defeated the Ducks in the Rose Bowl.  Logic and football acumen trumped prejudice; of course, I took Ohio State in my pool.


On Saturday, I went to shul.  Okay.  I admit it.  I missed it.  I really enjoy Shabbat service, and as I’ve said before, I always get some personal message from Adonai that helps me in that meshugah journey through my wilderness.  It was childish and cowardly to stay away because of Somebody and Janette.


Fortunately, nobody started a bonfire and tried to roast me on it.  In fact, everything was perfectly normal.  Like it always is.  So I guess I made it a tempest in a teapot.


In fact, I am going to be spending a great deal of time at shul in the next month or so.  I’m going to produce…  No.  I think I’ll save that tidbit for another blog.


Saturday night was another First for me.  It’s a rapidly dwindling list.  I went to a Hen Night.  For American readers, a Hen Night is a long, drawn out drunken sortee – occasionally lasting two or three days- for a Bride-to-Be and her friends.


When I got to Pinkie’s (I only changed three times) I grumbled “Remind me again why we’re going. We’re not even that close to Carmen.”  Pinkie agreed, but assured me our Night would be low-key and tasteful.  God, the stories I’ve heard from friends about Hen Dos they almost remember being at.


We got to the restaurant, the Tapas Bar in Walton, and met up with the other Do-ees and Carmen.  Pleasantly Jane, of Scratch & Mrs. Scratch singing fame, was one of the Do-ees.  I like Jane, and I really enjoyed spending the evening with her.


Pinkie whipped out a bag of cheap, tawdry party favors, and we started Do-ing.  Carmen, the blushing bride-to-be, got a veil that lit up with an ‘L’ badge on it.  Again, for American readers, people learning to drive have a tag on their car with a Red ‘L’ for learner.


The Do-ees got sashes that said ‘Hen Party’ and tiaras, and we all got drinking straws with a cute little penis on the tip, and a penis whistle (quite well-shaped actually) to summon men to our table.  We had moved on to the Queen’s Head by this point.


I felt compelled to point out that the straws and whistles penises were all nicely circumcised.  I didn’t think I’d drink out of mine, or blow my whistle, if they had a … you know … foreskin.  Oh, grow up!


It was one of the nicest Girls Nights Out ever.  We drank moderately (honestly) and sat around a large table telling stories of how we all met our husbands and about our own weddings.  It was sweet.  Carmen’s wedding (and Justin’s too) is Friday night, so there will be lots to report on my First British Wedding and Reception. 


Sunday night my heart got broken.


I had asked CheeseBoy to tape a program on Sky1 for me at 9:00 because I would be busy cheering on my beloved Birds as they whupped the Cowboys’ tushes on NFLDead over on SkySports2.  Ha!  I should have opted to watch Ross Kemp commiserating with the Palestinians about those nasty, vicious Jews.  The Eagles self-destructed right before my eyes and my Coors Light.  It was tragic. 


What did I miss?  Oh yeah.  A date with Tom.  JDavid stuff.  My shifts at Sam.  Great meal at Our Italian Restaurant, great convo, awesome nookie.  In the ‘war of letters’ with JDavid revising his CV, I won.  Naturally.  Shifts were fun as always. 


And a sincere Happy Birthday to that Spaghetti Western Mensch, BDavid, on New Year’s Day.


A Happy New Year to all my loyal readers.