Week 224

31st March, 2013

I must apologise to regular readers. It is either Alzheimer’s or lack of alcohol but my dates – even years – have been out for a week. My proof reader only spotted the errors yesterday. I will try harder!

There is a joke doing the round of Berlin bars:

St Peter decides he wants a new coat of whitewash on the Pearly Gates. He asks an Albanian for a quote. The man says,  €600: €300 for the materials and €300 for my labour.

He gets a second quote from a German who says, €900: €300 for the materials, €300 for my labour, and €300 for the tax I have to pay on it.

He then asks a Greek who says, €3,000.
Why so much?, St Peter asks in horror.
The Greek replies, Listen, pal, there’s €1,000 for you, €1,000 for me, €300 for the materials, €300 to get the Germans to look the other way, and €400 to hire an Albanian to do the work.

The Sunday Times ran this cartoon today:


1st April, 2013


Happy April to you all. To Greek friends we say, Kalo Mina. We expect sun and blue skies today and are going out for a walk before the big match. It makes a change not to spend an April Fools’ Day walking round the school corridors as every other small child says, Sir, Sir, your shoelaces are undone. Children of today, they have no imagination!

Pauline & I have now done three calendar months without any alcohol or main carbohydrate like bread, potatoes, pasta, or rice. Today we will celebrate with a glass of red wine with our meal. This, in itself will be a break through. For the past forty years, we invariably drank a bottle of wine with our evening meal and, sometimes, with our mid day meal as well. Our meal today will still not include carbohydrates. It will be lamb and vegetables. I have the wine reaching room temperature as I write.


The lamb was wonderful. I would tell you about the wine but I still can’t feel my fingers.

2nd April, 2013

Wonderful blue skies and strong sun this morning but bitterly cold 4C/39F. Pauline went to feed our neighbour’s cat while she is away for a couple of days. The cat is huge and hairy and called Minnie. I call it Maxi but it snarls at me. Out fairly early in to Woking town centre so that Pauline can buy a few essentials. We then drove to a nearby ASDA and bought enough bananas to keep a monkey quiet for six months. They are our snack of choice at the moment.

By the time we had got home, the post had been and Pauline’s new tax code had arrived to take in to account her State Pension but not taking in to account the new tax limits. It is such an expensive methodology. We should all register our emails with Government offices. We’ve been doing that for years with the Bank, the Power Companies, the Water Company, the Local Authority for our Council Tax, the Teachers Pension Agency, the DVLA, etc.. It is no big deal and would save so much time and money.

3rd April, 2013

Really cold day – 3C/37F. We are told that warmer (but wetter) is on the way. My wife is allowed off the leash. She is going shopping with her sister to M&S. She says it could take two or three hours. Can you imagine it? Three hours in a shop? I’d rather have my fingernails pulled out one by one.

Exactly four years ago today, Pauline & I retired. Two years ago we downsized to a duplex apartment. We set ourselves five years here and then we would move on. We have already decided that a two bedroom is not big enough and we prefer a detached house to apartment living. In addition, Pauline has always had a hankering to live by the sea. We are not in a rush to do anything but we have decided that our next move – within the next three years – will be down to the south coast. We will buy a new-build, three or four bedroom house on the Sussex coast. We want to explore areas around Hastings.

Wonderful meal of steak and mushrooms with asparagus. Delicious and very filling.


4th April, 2013

Summer time and the weather is freezing. We arrived in Tesco car park for the weekly shop and were greeted by a blizzard of snow and biting wind. The temperature showed 1C/34F but the wind chill made it -4C/25F. We walked very briskly from the car and I chanted Best Foot Forward, Plan of Campaign, Sucky Sweet, Chilly Pom Pom! None of this will mean much to anyone who is not a member of my family and didn’t grow up with my Mother. It was the lingua franca of her adolescence or war time slang. Whenever she used one of these terms, we would look at each other in vague disbelief. It used to really wind me up just as she could never send for the Doctor – it was always the Doc. – It was never possible to drive a Mercedes of Jaguar car – it was always a Merc. or a Jag. – and I’m sure there were many more like this which I’ve forgotten.

Apparently, March has been the coldest on record bar that of 1962. I think I remember that winter. I went to Grammar School for the first time in 1962 and it was the year before we had central heating installed in our house. Bob, my brother, and I shared a bedroom and woke one morning to find ice on the inside of the windows. We were tough in those days, you know. The blizzards have gone on throughout the day – in Surrey in April. What am I doing here?

Pauline managed to rack up another two hours in M&S today bringing her total there for the week to around five hours. She was being measured for a bra. Fifty years of wearing bras and she finally gets measured. If I have my waist measured, it takes two minutes (and two tape measures). Pauline was the best part of an hour in the fitting room. I began to believe that she was having breast reconstruction surgery rather than being measured for a bra.

To placate me for waiting and buying two bras, she bought me a new Man-Bag for my birthday on Saturday. It replaces one I bought fifteen years ago in Athens which is beginning to show its age. It will carry my iPad, mobile, cheque cards, reading glasses, spare glasses, keys, etc..


5th April, 2013

Still unbearably cold and dark – 3C/37F. However, it is my last day ever being 61 so I am determined to enjoy it. I might have a banana. The Times reports today that scientists say we should eat more bananas to reduce our risk of stroke. Something to do with the potassium although I’ve never been much of a scientist myself. They did think potassium damaged the kidney function but that idea has now been scotched. As Pauline & I get through enough bananas each week to keep a tribe of monkeys happy, we feel totally immune from all strokes. We eat so many bananas, we are becoming experts on types of the fruit, their origins and importers. We completely rejected Dole and found that Fyffe’s Fair Trade were infinitely superior in flavour and, this morning, I found the table below which seems to confirm our refined senses of taste. I’m not surprised. I did The Great British class calculator and found we were in the Elite Group which is a total nonsense but, secretly, I’m not surprised. I always knew we were a cut above the rest and, with bananas, we’ll live for ever as well.

bananas2  bananas

Guess where I took Pauline this afternoon – yes, M&S. She desperately needed a new pair of trousers. I stayed in the car, reading my iPad. Fortunately, she wasn’t more than half an hour but, unfortunately, she likes the trousers so much that she’s ordered another pair to be picked up on Monday. I’ve got M&S on speed dial for my sat.nav. now. It’s second only to Home.

6th April, 2013

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday old bugger………….

I have reached an age I never thought I would and I am grateful. I owe it almost entirely to my wonderful wife, Pauline, who has put up with my bizarre idiosyncrasies for 35 years, humouring me with calm and patience. How she has managed it, I will never know but I owe my life to her. We have stopped buying eacher other cards or presents. A joint bank account since our marriage has rather obviated those. There’s nothing worse than handing over the present followed by the receipt.

I received some lovely cards from others and most notably from my wonderful sister, Ruth, who I know I can always rely on. She sent this:


I also had a considerable number of electronic wishes including from ex-pupils, teaching colleagues and students from my old College. The latter, of course, understand what I am experiencing because we are all of a similar age.

Glorious, warm, sunny day today. We are going out for a walk to get the blood pumping.

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