All posts for the month May, 2010

No Time to Blog!

Published May 30, 2010 by jean cohen
Booboo left tonight.  My last blog was before we left England.  I guess I’m a bit behind.  So a quickie, just to show that I’m still alive and well in the Delaware Valley.
Between BA and the ash the couple days before we left were stressful.  We had to leave for the airport at 7:00 in the morning, before there was going to be a decision whether flights would be able to take off or not.  We checked in okay, but were advised to watch the monitors for our flight status.  At 9:15, the monitor changed to read ‘Boarding’.  We just agreed we’d worry about getting home later- after we got to the States.
Scary Fairy picked us up in Newark and whisked us to beautiful Clifton on the Garden State.  I had two demands: beef with broccoli and Scrabble.  Yum; and we split, one game each.  (I creamed her with an amazing bingo; she just beat me by a few points.)
The next morning, after breakfast at a proper Jersey diner (another check mark on the ‘must eat‘ list), Scary drove Boo and me to Princie’s house in Springfield.  Scary stayed overnight so we had a fab dinner at the Clam Tavern (Clams Casino and mussels: check) and just hung out.  We headed out for a morning of serious shopping before Scary hit the Garden State heading north.
Princie had the Mother of SUVs, the Beemer, all gassed up and ready for me.  Yes, I can drive really well in the States.  Well, at least I can manage not to hit anything or kill anybody.
I did take Boo to King of Prussia to shop and to Norristown to my storage unit.  I wanted to try to find some stuff; no luck, but I did find some great pictures which I’ll have to scan onto my computer when I get home. 
I actually stopped at my old house and knocked on the door… “Hi.  Remember me?  I sold you the house.  Can I come in and see what else you did besides cut down my poor dead husband’s favorite oak tree?  Does DeadJerry turn up a lot at 3:15 AM – after he leaves Weybridge – to scream at you in Yiddish about his damned tree?”
We spent several enthralling hours in the Church of St. Nordstrum Rack and, naturally, the mall.  At least I was enthralled; I don’t think BooBoo loves shopping the way a girl should. 
The time just flew by.  We had so many social engagements that we put up a calendar to keep track of them all.


Published May 15, 2010 by jean cohen

I knew it was going to be a busy week- I managed to double-book myself twice; I don’t know how that happens.


So I didn’t need the stress of British Air announcing a strike on the very day we were crossing the pond. 


I immediately called Expedia, with whom I’d booked.  They were not confidence inspiring, nor, unsurprisingly, helpful.


So I reached out directly to BA; I made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.  What I actually said was that at great personal sacrifice I would fly on Monday instead of Tuesday.  That way, they could have one less pissed off person screaming in a long queue at T5 when the shit hit the fan Tuesday morning.


I was gobsmacked; Mohammed or Mustapha or whoever thought that was a good idea too.  He agreed to rebook us for Monday.


“Okay, Sweetie” I instructed switching automatically into Travel Agent Mode, “Please document the PNR and give me your agent sine for when I call the idiots back at Expedia.”  He was so impressed that he just did it.


Mustapha or Mohammed or whoever at Expedia (when I finally got through to them) started to give me the party schphiel about the reservations not being changeable.  I shut him up fast.


“Just check the PNR.  It’s a done deal and it’s documented. And I did it.” 


I think he was impressed.  BooBoo was, when I rang her.


“Wow, Jeano!  Did ya go JAP on them” she asked with awe and reverence.


“Nah” I told her, modestly.  “I would have, but it only took Stage Two – Officious Travel Agent – to get it sorted.”


So we’re leaving on Monday and returning at some point in the future.  I’m not especially concerned; on that side of the pond I have the might of Flora and Annamaria, my colleagues from Rosenbluth Travel, to take care of such petty annoyances.  Scary Fairy is picking us up at Newark.  We’re spending a couple nights on the Garden State before we cruise on down to Philly.


Wednesday night I went to an American Do at the embassy with JDavid.  This one was really nice, even fancier than the last one.  David’s a bit reticent (British thing, I guess) but I dragged him around and networked like crazy.  We had a late dinner at The Good Earth, a posh Chinese Restaurant near Harrod’s.  After I window-shopped.  Well, I tried to window shop; he walks so damned fast.  I saw this dress…


Thursday morning I realized that I was leaving in three days and panicked.  It’s only one day earlier, but I don’t know what I was thinking.  Or wasn’t thinking about, more likely. 


I have a Senior outing to Littlehampton coming up, the Volunteer Recognition Dinner, two articles for the Haderech to finish, etc., etc.  I needed to pay bills in both countries, get some dollars, blah blah.  I needed to do a lot of stuff.


So of course Boo and I went shopping.


“Why do you need to buy anything” Boo chided me.  “You’ll be in the States on Monday.”


“I have nothing to wear” I whinged.  “Besides, what if I don’t like what’s on offer there…”


She just shook her head.  “I think you’ve been here too long.  Or you’re on too many committees.  You’re meshuggah.”


I ran around on Friday doing errands, including a stop at the Bombay Post Office on the High Street to buy some US Dollars.  Gosh, American money has gotten kinda odd since I’ve been away.  Is that really what Abraham Lincoln looked like?  It’s a terrible picture.  And the colors are a little weird.  Mustapha or Mohammed or whoever assured me that it’s real money.  I sure hope so. 


Friday night was the Sam Beare quiz.  The Bookshop Babes were… well to be honest, we were pathetic.  It might have been all the champagne before hand.  It was hard.  I knew the answers to the very few ’American’ questions, but we saved our joker for the Literature Round, figuring ‘Bookshop + Literature’ = a perfect 10.  We did better in the Sports Round than the Literature one.  But at least we weren’t last.   


It’s shul on Saturday morning, lunch at Oatlands Palace in the afternoon and dinner with friends in the evening as a ‘Bon Voyage’ Do.  Sunday is coffee with LiveJerry who is finally back from London (Robert’s stem cell transplant went pretty well) and an early dinner with other friends.


At some point, I really should think about packing.  I have scored a few suitcases from friends; my luggage, probably having a blast in Australia, hasn’t even bothered to drop me an email.  I borrowed some different sized cases just in case.  I always overpack.  I’ll still probably have to leave stuff at home to be sent on.  



Published May 10, 2010 by jean cohen

Friday was DeadJerry’s birthday and I knew I would be down.  So I was pro-active and just made sure I kept busy busy busy.  I know; I always am anyway.  Princie sent me a text: “Happy birthday, Daddy.”  Yes, I cried.  I miss him.  I don’t think I’ll ever stop feeling like a part of me is lost.


I had a lovely mooch and lunch with Divine on Thursday, early-ish as I had my shift at Sam in the afternoon.  I dashed home to change for my date Thursday night with Tombstones’ mate, Gary from Shepperton.  It was nice; he’s nice.  In an ‘England is a Small Island, Surrey is a Small County and T5 is a Small Terminal at Heathrow’ moment – um, forget that last part about T5 – we discovered that we’re both crossing the pond on the very same day, at about the very same time, on BA; me to the States and Gary to the Bahamas.  We return on the same day too.


I wish Tom would get his tush home from Florida.  For some reason I’ve been a bit grumpy lately.


Friday I had a Sam Beare Coffee Morning at Christ Prince of Peace.  It was kind of a bust.  I think that the folks in Weybridge are ‘coffee morning-ed’ out. 


Then it was a lunch meeting of the Sam Beare Committee.  The Catholics have given me my very own page on the church’s website to promote this year’s Thanksgiving Feast.  The Sam folks have asked me to come up with another innovative, exciting ‘American’ Do to do.  I’m sort of tapped out on exciting ideas at the moment.


Because the Christ PofP people have asked me to sit on one of their committees.  They’re planning this huge Holocaust thingy in January, Jackie’s going to speak at it.  Could I say ‘no’ to Father Tom’s cute, puppy dog eyes?  Geeze.  I couldn’t say ‘no’ when I was asked to join the Israel Group at shul either.


I should have learned the word ‘no’- in several languages – when I agreed to sit on the Friends of the Weybridge Center Committee.  What a lot of petty back-stabbing bullshit that has turned out to be.  I stormed out of a meeting the other day, after losing it sufficiently to tell another member “Just… shut up!”  I got talked out of resigning my prestigious post, however.  This time, anyway.


Vicki lost in the election.  Actually, I’m still not sure if anybody won.  It seems to be a ‘hung Parliament’.  Oddly, after mentioning in the blog that I’d gone canvassing for the LibDems with Vick, when my weekly on-line edition of the Jewish Exponent arrived, the lead story was a scathing piece on those nasty anti-Semitic Lib Dems.  Who knew?  Who understands anything about politics as practiced by the Brits? 


The weather has been dreadful here; I think I blinked and missed Spring entirely.  Carol and I nixed our car boot sale plans for the weekend.  Since I skipped shul last weekend for the Girls Gone Tame outing, I was feeling guilty.


When I got there, you’ll never guess who the Security Warden was.  No.  It was J David.


“Shabbat Shalom” he said observantly.


“Shabbat Shalom, Sweetie” I answered.  “Are you gonna search me for bombs?”


It just sort of popped out.


He’s so cute.  “Only if you think I should” he quipped right back.


(The other Warden on duty was struck dumb by this exchange.)


Yahweh didn’t actually speak to me this week; maybe he was annoyed about the flirting with JDavid thing. 


But a lot of other people did.  Consequently, I agreed to go to a run-through of a play being developed by Sarah Finch (famous actress) which she’s hoping to stage after her current West End gig finishes.


So I schlepped to deepest North London to a tiny shul to hear ‘Etty H’ with a friend who’s a producer at the BBC.  Of course, they’re looking for creative people to work on the project; sadly, for free.  It’s a powerful story, told in Etty’s own words from her journals, of life under Nazi occupation in Holland.  Think Anne Frank – older and very bohemian.


Now that I’ve had a glimpse of the bright lights of Oatland Village directing the Purim Revue, perhaps fame and the West End are reaching out to me.  That could be my next pit-stop on my journey through the Wilderness.    




Published May 6, 2010 by jean cohen

I have an admirer.  He’s smooth, and very funny, and quite astonishingly handsome.  And his name is ‘John’, a big improvement over ‘Peter’, ‘Mike’, ‘Steve’ or ‘Turd’. 


Sounds terrific on paper, doesn’t it?


There’s only one tiny drawback; he’s a member of the Tuesday Altzheimer’s Group at the Centre.  Bitchy friends have suggested that dating him would probably be fine- in fact, I could blog my own personal version of ‘Fifty First Dates’.  Although I’m the one who’s usually confused, he could be the Drew Barrymore character.  Thanks, but I think I’ll pass.


The Witches of Meadway Gone Wild Weekend was anything but.  EtcKaren didn’t come, so Smack and I met up in Guildford, staying at what passes for a deluxe hotel in England.  Yes, I know.  I’m too picky.


At least the shopping was good.  That’s about as exciting as it got.   Smack got a cool blouse.  I wanted it too, but they only had one left.  Since it was her birthday, I didn’t go JAP over it. We hit a few wine bars, and even, God forbid, TGI Friday’s, but nada.  There are no prospects in Surrey.  There are men; just not anybody I’d want.  Except maybe to repair the stuff that keeps blowing up in my house.


But we had fun.  We had a reasonably nice dinner (the usual crappy English service) and stayed up half the night giggling and talking like high school girls.  Maybe we need to try London.  Jackie, my rabbi, sent me a flyer on a Jewish singles group that is based in London.  It’s G.U., geographically undesirable, but needs must and so forth.  I probably won’t be able to make an event before my trip to Philly, though.  I’ve just too much else going on.


We spent a lot of time talking about … stuff.  Of course, the Turd of Camberley came up, but we spent more time reminiscing about DeadJerry and David (Smack’s departed husband).  We agreed that we both still have closure issues and that we’re both still really in love with the dead guys.  Although in the interests of Integrity in Blogging I have to say that I find it very creepy that Smack is still in contact with the Turd.  Yeah, okay, he was some damned good nookie, but …


As these things always go, I was offered a simcha, an aliyah at shul at Shavuot service, a pretty big one.  I’ll be in the States, so I had to regretfully decline.  I’m not bragging.  The point is that lots of people (like men) only turn up on holidays or to special services. That was some bad timing.  I could have been front and center reading the Study Passage to a SRO crowd looking my most drop dead gorgeous.


By the way, although Princie specifically forbade me to do it, I start my rigorous training as a Security Warden in June.  I will be keeping Oatlands Chase safe for Jews in a stunning orange vest with a nifty walkie-talkie.  I’m really chuffed. 


I was having a coffee with LisaB on the High Street when Hester rang to breathlessly report “Max Clifford just dropped off two huge bags of clothes at the shop.”  We threw some money on the table and ran.


For American readers, Max Clifford is … well … he’s … I don’t know; he’s famous or something.  He tootles around Weybridge in this big Bentley with custom plates driven by his girlfriend (he lost his license).  He’s a publicist for footballers and people like that.


The clothes!  The clothes!  We were in heaven (there must have been about ten women standing around oohing and aahing) as each item came out.  They were his girlfriend’s and his daughter’s clothes.  Of course I snagged a few choice bits.


Strange really; last week it was Sir Cliff Richard dropping off a ton of books to our shop.  I was going out right from my shift and I thought “Crap!  I hope this donation isn’t mildewed and dusty.”  After His Sirness and his entourage left, another customer asked in an awed voice “Was that Cliff Richard?”


“Who?” I replied.


I guess we should have asked him to autograph a few so we could charge more for them. 


It’s another busy weekend ahead, social stuff, Syn stuff, and a car boot sale with my partner, Carol.  We’re busy planning our next Buy Design clothes show, which, again, won’t happen until I get back from the States.  We’ve found some new sub-vendors we’re enthusiastic about, and, of course, I’ll be searching and seizing new inventory when I make my pilgrimage to the Church of St. Nordstrom Rack.






Published May 2, 2010 by jean cohen

My busy-ness seems to be filling every day now, instead of just most days.


I went to a seminar on addictive behavior sponsored by Jewish Care, the Jewish agency, at the Kingston Liberal Synagogue, as a representative (or warm body) of NWSS.  Rabbi Mikhail, Kingston’s rabbi, is really neat. He’s from Missouri and we had the nicest chat about real, proper bagels and how it would be nice to have one once in a Purim.


On the ride to Kingston, Jenny instructed “Don’t shake hands with the Rabbi; he’s Orthodox.”  


“I am so up on that” I assured her quite seriously, then entertained the whole car with the infamous story about DeadJerry’s Shiva and how I kissed not only Dori’s ultra Orthodox rabbi but the religious director of Solomon Schecter School as well.  Well, everybody kisses a lot during shivas; I didn’t hear who Dori said they were.  The rabbi sure looked shocked when I got him in a lip-lock. 


“You just kissed my rabbi” Dori hissed dragging me away.


“Oh shit!  Really?” I mumbled.  “Which one is the rabbi?”


“The one with the beard and yarmulke” she told me.  She never let me forget that teensy gaffe.


Anyway, the seminar was great, very informative and thought-provoking, but fun, too.  We did some role playing exercises- I was the alcoholic’s boyfriend, The Enabler.  Afterwards, the Kingston people laid on a fabulous tea.



Monday I covered a shift at Sam, and did the banking!  I guess it went okay; Jeremy didn’t ring to fire me.


Monday night was Israeli Dancing.  I am very bad at it, but it’s fun and a good workout.


Tuesday was Senior Centre in the morning, then a meeting with all the Elmbridge Centre committees in the afternoon.  Vicks was in Scotland on business, so I represented the Friends of the Weybridge Centre Committee.  The meetings alternate at the various centres, and this one was at the brand new facility that just opened in Thames Ditton.  There are seven centres in Elmbridge.  It was a good meeting, and gave me some new ideas for activities and programs that I’d like to try at Weybridge Centre. 


I got home just in time to grab some dinner and dash out again to  Film Club in the evening.  The film was ‘The Wave’. 


I was familiar with the events the movie was based on- it happened in PaloAlto, California.  But the location was changed to Germany in the movie, with subtitles, making it even more chilling and scary.


When I got to shul, only Paul was there.  We chattered away as I helped him fix loads of dishes of noshes  (he brings the best noshes to Film Club).  Various other guys turned up, grabbed a coke or a coffee and headed up to the lounge where we watch the films.  


“Yo, Paul” I said, “Did ya notice that not a single other woman has turned up?  What’s that about?”


He’s so quick. 


“Didn’t you get the email?” he deadpanned.  “We changed the film.  To ‘Debbie Does  Dallas.”


As I said, the dialogue was in German, but the subtitles were, for some reason, in American, not British.  Not too far into the action, one of the characters commented on another character being ‘one of my homeys’. 


The guys all looked perplexed and Antony actually asked, out loud, “What’s a ‘homey’?” 


Paul paused the movie, and grinned.  “Jean, would you like to field that question?”


So I provided the definition for a homey.  Michael, who is also pretty funny said “It’s lucky we have somebody who speaks American here to translate.”


Wednesday was our first outing for the Senior Centre.  The previous two coach tours had been cancelled due to lack of numbers.  We went to Winchester. 


The day didn’t start off real well.  I fired the Coach Company for any future outings.


The coach arrived and my charges did their usual mini-riot of pushing and shoving to get on the bus first.  When I got on, I was appalled.  The bus was filthy, empty soda cans and chip bags and candy wrappers everywhere.  


“This bus is disgusting” I told Jamal or Mustapha or Tariq, or whatever the driver’s name was. “I want another bus and I want it now.”


 “It’s not my fault” he whinged,. “I’m coming from a school run.”  Oh well, gee, that explained it.  English children are savages.  However, I have standards and more than a few relate to ‘service’.


I got back off the bus, went into the office and rang the bus company.  The manager’s excuse: “We sent the bus right to you from a school run.” 


I was more than a little pissed off.  I couldn’t seem to get the point across that all Tonto had to do was keep the bloody doors shut for five minutes and walk through the bus with a trash bag, put said debris into said trash bag, and voila, then open said doors.  Apparently Tonto doesn’t do trash; there’s a department at the Depot called ‘Soda Can and Candy Wrapper Removal Engineers’ who are specially trained by Health & Safety for such dangerous tasks.


I sent one of the Centre aides on the bus with a bin bag; and I fired Repton Coaches.


Winchester is exactly like every other single little town in England, with the addition of a huge mother cathedral in the middle.  I’d been there before; I can’t remember when or why particularly.  Hester, Brenda, the other ladies and I did visit the cathedral.  Briefly.  And in my case, chiefly in case anybody asked afterwards “Did you go to the cathedral?”  (But of course!  It was ever so fascinating.  I didn’t realize Jane Austen built it.”)


So it was 7 minutes in the cathedral, a long Ladies Who Lunch lunch, and 4 hours in Beales’, which was having a 25% off sale.  The ladies all came back to mine for a late tea and to compare our purchases.


But then I had to change clothes and dash to meet JDavid.  It’s his birthday this weekend, but I’m going to miss the festivities. 

And his aliyah at Syn.  I’m off for the weekend with the Witches of Meadway. 


BooBoo came through like aces, sending Daniel to mine on Thursday evening with a ‘weekender’ suitcase so I could eschew the Tesco’s carrier bag.  Gosh I need a lot of stuff for two days away.  Although, as Smack pointed out, very logically, I could go empty-handed and just buy everything new.  I like the way she thinks.


I got offers to loan suitcases for the trip across the pond from lots of friends, so I’m glad I didn’t expend any energy worrying about that topic. 


Our social engagements in Philly are falling into place, plus I’ve got Tombstones, Israeli Guy, DooWop Guy, and the luverly Henry Levenstein of the Marlboro Levensteins to fit in somewhere in my schedule. 


Tombstones, who obviously is the bloke who did my tombstone (and was one of my travel clients long before I needed a tombstone) emailed that I should contact a mate of his from auto-racing who lives near me.  In a ‘Surrey is a Small County’ or maybe just ‘Life is Strange’, Gary lives in Shepperton, just up the road.  We exchanged emails on Facebook and are going to meet up this week, if I can fit it in.  Gary works at Brooklands, the classic car museum; and he does the videos of their classic car races.


I’ve got two Sam Beare Dos coming up, more quickly than I’d like, two articles due for Haderech, an American Embassy Do with  JDavid, and so on and so on.


It’s a Bank Holiday weekend here, which actually means nothing, just that Monday is a holiday for no reason.  I’m looking forward to relaxing.  In my pajamas.