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All posts for the month January, 2013

Jeano in the UK… with diamonds

Published January 27, 2013 by jean cohen

This is positively mind-blowing! It’s my anniversary. I have been back in Blighty for five years. This is the Weekend that was.

I went back in BloggoHistory and reread the momentous entries. I highly recommend that all you readers do the same. The entries are: ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’ dated February 1, 2008, and ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’ dated February 5, 2008. Have some tissues handy.

It’s hard to believe that I’m beginning the fifth year of my Two Year Plan to live in England. Who knows where the time goes?

I do wonder what Dead Jerry thinks about all the stuff that has happened to me since he shuffled off to Buffalo. Or, Heaven, I guess if you’re a believer. I like to think that he’s happy that I’m happy. The living people who matter are.

A hell of a lot has happened in five years, funny stuff, sad stuff, and good and bad stuff. But I don’t regret my decision and I still love living here, even if I kvetch from time to time.

I Had A Dream. And it mostly came true.

Maybe that last sentence should say ‘I made it happen’, because I did.

Modestly, I’m the Queen of Weybridge and deservedly so, if I say so myself.

So here I am. And I guess here I stay, since I have commitments in my diary for 2014 already.

I’m booked for a ‘visit’ to Philly in March, my annual pilgrimage to see family and friends. I’ll be fielding that awkward question, ‘when are you coming home?’ I guess I am home. Here in Weybridge.

Okay. That was mawkish enough.

Since it’s my anniversary, some presents are in order. I looked up Fifth Anniversary and it is wood. Do not buy me anything wood.

I thought perhaps an advance on my twelfth might be nice; that one’s silk. Undies are a fine present. Or we can just call it the 35th, which is sort of pushing it. But I do love jade.

Then I had a brilliant thought. Five years is 60 months! (I verified this on Calculator.com so don’t even try to confuse me.)

Sixty is diamonds.

The Queen of Weybridge awaits your obeisance.

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Hey, can I borrow a cup of Weed?

Published January 25, 2013 by jean cohen

There’s trouble right here in River City. Well, in Weybridge, if you’re British and don’t get the musical allusion.

I love my little pink house and I love ‘Weybridge is a small town’ Weybridge and I love the stuff I do. What I don’t love are the neighbours from Hell who moved into #26 across the road. They are not our sort. Trust me, Lord Whatchamacallit from Downton Abbey would not invite these people to dinner.

It is the custom in England, when the neighbours have had enough and get out their pitchforks and light the bonfire, for the Council to move the troublesome family and foist them on some other unsuspecting neighbourhood at a subsidised rent. Result: the 26ers. There’s a father, a juvenile delinquent in a ubiquitous hoody and two humongous German Shepherds who bark 24/7. My nice next door neighbour says there is an matching mum too to complete the Holy Family tableau, but I’ve never seen her. If she exists, she probably shops at Tesco or Primark. In fact, that might be why she never comes outside.

The weekly drug raids are rather amusing. Lots of coppers scurrying around like ants digging up the Weed growing in their garden. The marijuana kind, not the kind I seem to grow in mine in spite of never ever fertilizing or watering.

The Family Feuds are kinda funny, too. I’ve learned some new curse words I can use during Eagles games to impress the folks back home and I now wonder if when Evil Child was at her worst threatening to slice her up with a broken bottle would have encouraged her to work harder at passing Geometry.

They are just, like, there all the time doing all the things Neighbours from Hell do.

Hoody Boy and his posse of fellow miscreants hang outside my house and throw their beer bottles and crisp packets in my front garden.

I thought long and hard (as much as I can think long and hard) and called Property Peter (my landlord) and complained. I certainly wasn’t going to say anything to the 26ers personally. I’m not stupid. And I am definitely a chickenshit. I presented it in a way that Peter could understand. “Yo, dude. It’s your property value that’s going right down the loo.”

Peter spoke to Surrey’s Finest. Basically, they said: “I say! Those people at #26 have not turned over a new leaf! The Unpleasantness on Old Palace Road is making our single emergency phone line for all of Surrey ring quite annoyingly often.” I’m paraphrasing.

Fortunately, with the cold weather and the recent catastrophic blizzard, I seldom see or hear them. I hoped perhaps they had frozen to death. Not the German Shepherds; I like German Shepherds. Remember Rommel?

Imagine my surprise when I came home from my shift at the Bookstore to find two of Surrey’s Finest waiting for me on my porch. That is the little overhang outside my front door, I’m told.

I immediately assumed they were there to give me a ticket or fine or whatever for wearing those black trousers with the sparkles (they were an error in judgment; mea culpa).

But no. Surprisingly, they wanted to talk about the 26ers.

They wanted me to call the Police, the Council, and/or the RSPCA every time something kicks off at #26. They’re building a case to evict the 26ers and move them to another nice house. Sure. Pissed off Neighbour from Hell: “Who the f*ck grassed us out??? I’ve got a broken beer bottle right here.”

Note to American readers: They say ‘grassed out’ here instead of ‘ratted out’, possibly because the British are so besotted with their goddamned gardens.

Clueless Police, Council and/or RSPCA person: “That is confidential, Sir. But she did say ‘ratted out’ and not ‘grassed out’ with an American accent.”

Note to self: Check with long-suffering Bank Manager whether my Tenant’s Insurance covers Molotov Cocktails.

I used to be the Snow Queen, but then I drifted

Published January 20, 2013 by jean cohen

I had the exoskeleton of a blog percolating in my Limbic System but Mother Nature interfered.

Yes, it snowed in England. Again.

I’ve written a couple blogs already about this panic-inducing phenomenon, probably like once a year. This roughly corresponds to about how often it snows.

The weather presenters on the TV news were solemnly issuing dire warnings of massive accumulations of as much as 3 centimeters! Trains were cancelled and airports shut down. The spirit of the London Blitz kicked in and people reassured each other than ‘we’ll get through this catastrophic catastrophe because we’re British!’

I popped into Waitrose to stock up on the Two Basic Food Groups necessary for a siege- cigarettes and coffee. Every single other person in Weybridge was there too. They, of course, were rowing over the last six-pack of Stella Artois in stock. I did think about purchasing some Bud myself; after all, the AFC and NFC Championships are on Sunday night. And since the Eagles are most definitely not in the Big Dance, I probably won’t be tempted to throw full cans of suds at my TV.

Anyway, I hunkered down at home, bolstered by the Two Basic Food Groups, to watch the drama unfold on TV. The BBC’s intrepid reporters were out and about in Nanook of the North gear chatting to terrified Brits about the blizzard and the end of Civilization as We Know It. People, like, cried. Seriously, I thought that perhaps if people shovelled their sidewalks and the county salted the roads we just might possibly survive this holocaust, but apparently I was having another one of those pesky ‘American’ moments. That’s just not how they do things in Britain.

They’re predicting intermittent snow all weekend. Wow. Things might go to whatever is worse than catastrophic catastrophe. The snow might reach a mind boggling 4 centimeters! Can Britain ever recover from 1.37 inches of white stuff to its former glory? Stay tuned.

On to regular ‘me’ stuff, it was another ordinary week in Weybridge, but unfortunately, I fell off the Just Say No wagon. Somehow, I have agreed to model again in a fashion show in aid of Sam Beare in March, and I am now the Copy Editor of the Haderech.

The last fashion show was when I wasn’t blogging and it was hard work. Yeah, I liked the part when the fashion consultant took me to Marks and Spencer and gave me a giant clothes rail and told me to pick out four outfits including accessories. (I was very badly behaved and sulked when she nixed my choices.) And I liked the part where my hair and makeup were done by professionals. The part I didn’t like was getting changed in 3.4 seconds (with two helpers) to go back on the runway at my next cue. But I especially didn’t like the part where I came out in a black leotard and the moderator critiqued my shape and which styles worked best for me. (It was a while ago, but I’m pretty sure she described me as ‘perfect’.) Anyway, oops, I’m doing it again.

Cousin Bernie has retired as editor of Haderech. He’s shouldered that burden for many years. The technical side- layout and so on- is being assumed by a new member at shul called Jenny and I am going to handle copy responsibilities. One of the other members of the newsletter staff did make a teensy insulting remark about needing to edit my copy when I write something to ‘correct the Americanisms’. I felt like my honour was impinged. Honor. Honor. Honor. (Screw the little red underscores, British Spellchecker!)

I got the fancy-shmantzy Sky package when my contract was up for renewal, and after 8 weeks of training by BooBoo, I learned how to record programs to watch later. Don’t be impressed. I still ring her if I want to watch a DVD. I had a bunch of good stuff recorded for blizzard viewing and I curled up on the sofa to watch Midsummer Murders.

Something is wrong.

Maybe it’s just me, but is Barnaby not Barnaby anymore? I don’t think its fair to change people in mid-character. Okay, you’re right. It worked for James Bond. Like sixty-seven guys have been Bond, James Bond. But what does Mrs. Barnaby think when she has to sleep with some guy who’s a stranger? James Bond only slept with strangers so he didn’t have to explain that he was a new spy.

It was confusing and very odd. So odd, in fact, that I googled it. What a relief. Inspector Barnaby is off somewhere like Guernsey or whatever and his cousin, Inspector Barnaby, got his job. Oh! That makes sense. I’m American so I understand nepotism.

When I talked to Scary Fairy in our weekly catch-up, she intimated that the re-incarnated blog is not as funny as the old blog. Her take on the situation is that in the past glory days of the Grotto (the Grotto has closed its doors forever) the ‘pub’ friends were funny. My new, improved ‘posh’ friends are not.

So, please, posh new friends, put your thinking caps on and do some idiotic, inane, irresponsible, ill-conceived, imprudent and/or impracticable stuff so I can write a dynamite blog about it.

REACH OUT

Published January 12, 2013 by jean cohen

I went to shul on Saturday morning. I was feeling really guilty as it had been a while. Partly from other commitments, but also because the entire bloody Island has some strain of the flu. There’s no reason to play Russian Roulette and kiss a hundred people hello whilst wishing them ‘Shabbat Shalom’ in my opinion. And Adonai chooses to stay out of our health business, I guess. Otherwise so many people wouldn’t have been sniffling and coughing in the synagogue. Wouldn’t it be sort of a Divine Public Service if He made the synagogue a germ-free zone?

Anyway, afterwards, at the Oneg (extremely nice, lovely food provided for some reason I never learned) the Rabbi greeted me warmly with Guilt Trip #7: “It’s so good to see you! It’s been quite a while. Were you away?” Me: (choking on a yummy broccoli tempura) “Cough, cough, cough! Um…yeah well, uh, no. Well…I’ve been really busy. Charity stuff and …ya know.”

Crap. All the good Karma I was feeling after a most excellent service went to heck.

On Sunday, I went to a barbecue. Seriously. My cleaning lady, Tanya, and her husband had a barbecue in January. Outside. In the garden. I put on several extra layers and wandered up the road. It was fantastic. They had several heaters going so there were pockets of warmth if one didn’t mind sitting on a stranger’s lap. Seriously though, the food was endless as was the wine (medicinal, given the temperature and/or flu germs). I met some really neat people and had a great time.

At my Tea Lady shift on Tuesday, we met the new Centre Manager. Sanjay, who was the manager, emigrated to Canada of all places. I mentioned to a few people that Sanjay probably didn’t know that Carrie helped Brody sneak into Maple Leaf Land on the season finale of Homeland so that might not have been a good choice. Even if Brody has eschewed being a terrorist, those Arabs that he screwed are probably still really, really pissed off. I’m not sure they understood how my mind works. I’m not sure I do, either.

But that reminds me that people still often ask me “Canadian or American?” Honestly, do I sound like a Canadian? I don’t think so. And do I look like a Canadian, all happy and smiley and dying to be liked? Again, I don’t think so.

I’m coming up to five years here Across the Pond and I still run into difficulties with the language. I ordered some Christmas presents to be delivered to my house, and I never got them. Even though the delivery service said they ‘left the parcel on the porch’. I called the vendor and got all American and nasty and they reshipped the order. The day the second delivery was due, I hung out at home waiting to pounce on the delivery guy. Strangely, both Hazel and Adriana dropped by to visit. While we were drinking coffee, I explained the situation. They looked at each other and laughed. I demanded to know what was so funny. “What do you think is outside your front door” one of them finally said between chortles. “The front garden” I guessed. “No. At the door. It’s a porch.” “No way” I said. “A porch is a little thingy that you put rocking chairs on and sit ‘on the porch’. Sometimes they have windows with screens, sometimes its all open.” Well, apparently I was wrong. The doorway of my little house, with nary a rocking chair in sight, or any place to sit, is a porch in England. You learn something new every day.

Thursday night was Readers Bloc. This time, we read ‘Scenes from a Village’ by Amos Oz. I’ve said this before, too. Why can’t we ever read a book about happy Jews? The kind who go shopping at the mall for Louis Vuitton handbags or go on Alaskan cruises? If you haven’t read ‘Scenes from a Village’, I think I can save you some time. Some lyrics from the Four Tops kept running through my mind the entire time I was reading it. “If you’re feeling like you can’t go on, because all of your hope it gone…”

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS

Published January 5, 2013 by jean cohen

Well.  Gee, I started blogging again, but I probably picked the boringest week of the year to do it.  Absolutely nothing happens between Christmas and New Year’s.

This entry falls under that disclaimer on the blog that ‘the truth is boring if you don’t make some of it up’.

 Which would you rather read ?  So then I flew my LearJet to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun or I went to a house party on New Year’s Eve in Chertsey?  Yeah, I thought so too.

 But it was too foggy here to make the trip and the Harrods didn’t deliver the champagne I ordered so it was off to chichi Chertsey with Adriana and Estelle for a Do hosted by some friends at synagogue. 

 It was a nice party.  That sounds like damning with faint praise, but its not.  Pubs are awful on New Year’s Eve and restaurants are over-priced and over-crowded.  A house party is always the best option.  I knew everyone, it was comfortable, and I had fun.  I think the lukewarm part might be due to being technically dateless on New Year’s Eve, unless you count Adriana as my date.

It was nice not to get wasted on New Year’s Eve, as Ray came bright and early the next morning to play Scrabble.  (One win/one loss)

 Speaking of Adriana, and speaking of a ‘Weybridge is a small town’ moment (I’m getting to that part), we went out to lunch on the High Street on Sunday.  I’d spent the morning working with JDavid and walked from David’s house to hers.  We decided to go to Valentina’s, a new Italian restaurant and grocery shop.

 “Ooh, look” I said, “They have baccala on the menu.  We always had baccala on Christmas Eve as part of the Seven Fishes.”  Adriana said that she liked it too, so we decided to order it for our appetizer.  As we waited for our food to arrive, people sat down at the table next to ours.  Lo and behold, we knew them…from shul.  How nice.  Then the baccala arrived, looking and smelling gorgeous-wine and garlic- and surrounded by mussels.  Oops.  To eat or not to eat?  Damned right we ate every bite.

 I had another lunch out with Live Jerry and a shopping blitz with Carol, a shift at the Bookshop, but nothing else really exciting happened.

Oh yeah.  My Christmas parcel from Scary Fairy arrived.  I got an Eagles mug, an Eagles tote, a really cool Eagles shirt, and lots of other (non-Eagles) stuff, like this great book called ‘Earth: A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race’ by Jon Stewart and the Daily Show.  It’s very witty and I’ll be sharing tidbits with you.

Here’s one:  In keeping with Biblical law, Jews affix mezzuzahs to their doorposts so the Chinese delivery boys know where to go.  (Trust me British readers:  That’s really funny and true.)

The Eagles stuff was most appreciated since I had destroyed a lot of mine when the Eagles got blown out by the detested G-men in week 16.  I figured it was Karma blowback for when I sent Scary that really beautiful sympathy card saying ‘My deepest condolences on your loss’ when the G-men and the J-E-T-S lost in week 6.  But beating the Eagles didn’t help.  The Giants didn’t make the playoffs so I won’t have to listen to Scary bragging.

 So this was a rather ho-hum blog.  I’ll try to do better next time.