Monthly Archives: February 2017

Carnaval 2017

In past years there would have been no way we would have missed out on any of the festivities of Carnaval. This year, alone, I cannot face it. I am back to avoidance and denial, more or less, although it’s not something that’s easy to escape from. This morning the Tacó comparses group went by the window three times with the band, reminding us. Cuddy has never liked the loudness of it all. Today we sat and held hands comforting each other in the relative quiet of the guest room/ofice.

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With our dear friend, Jordi, (that is padding not my tummy!)

In the past we have dressed up in all sorts of fun costumes and with those memories in my head and tears in my eyes I’m sharing these few from years gone by:

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Sam

At today’s writing group we were each given a piece of paper with the letters C.A.R.N.A.V.A.L. on it. We had to add a word that began with the first letter then pass it on for a word beginning with the next letter to be added. The pieces of paper were passed around the table until all the letter s were used up. We were then invited to write a story with the words on our paper. Mine were:
C – clock clock
A -anterior
R – release
N – night
A – apple
V – variety
A – alibi
L – Levitate. 

And like each time we were given half an hour to write. 

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This is what I came up with in the thirty minutes….

Tick tock said the clock clock as Sam lie in his bed waiting for the night to take over and release him from the trials of his day. It wasn’t easy being nine and a half, even if he was the apple of his mum’s eye.

This day had been a very rewarding day for Sam, unlike the anterior one, he thought. That was a word he had heard on the radio that morning and he liked the sound of it as he repeated it over and over in the dark. “Anterior, anterior, anterior,” he loved the feel of it on his tongue and rolled the r’s to make it even more magical. The word meant before as Sam understood it. To Sam the before was a magical place. The before he was , the before of the old days , the before of before. The before of magic.

Today before lunch he had already used two bad words, earning him a chiding glance and then a strong telling off from  Mrs Connor, his babysitter.  He had questioned the need for her to be there. He was, after all nine and a half and didn’t under any circumstances need a babysitter. He was not a baby.  He’d got away with the damn,when he muttered it, but the other word was clearly much better, which meant worse, from the way Mrs C reacted.  He wasn’t exactly sure what it meant but knew it was good. Mrs C said it was something ladies sat on, which was kind of strange because he knew a lot of words for bum. Bum, butt, behind, sitapon, ass, arse, culo and so and on, so he didn’t see how this word could also be for that. This was now why he called her Mrs C. Mrs Connor sounded too formal and if he called her Mrs (well you know, the whole word) he would most probably be in huge trouble.

During the summer holidays he had learnt a whole variety of new words that seemed to traumatise Mrs C, and this one especially. The kids that were spending the summer in their parents holiday homes, that had come down from the big city, seemed to have a whole lot of words that he didn’t yet know.

Later on in the afternoon Mrs C had called Sam into the living room where she was watching some stupid daytime chat show. She didn’t look happy and asked him if he had been the one who had taken all the plates out of the cupboard and in the process broken three of them.

“They are your parent’s heirlooms”she had told him, and there was another word he hadn’t heard before but now loved. “heirlooms, heirlooms,” he repeated. “Anterior heirlooms, Mrs C that’s what they are.”

At first Sam denied knowledge of what she was talking about hoping that his sister may get the blame . She was 15 and as such should get more blame, it was only right; the older kids always had to take more blame, It was logical, even if it had been him that did it.

“So what is your alibi, young man?” Mrs C had asked. Now there was a word he knew he’d heard it on one of his mum’s soaps and had asked her about it some time ago. Unfortunately he didn’t have an alibi and had told finally her the truth, but that seemed to upset her more than his previous lie.

For his last birthday Sam’s dad, who only visited when he wanted something, so his mum had said, gave him a magic set. Since then Sam had spent many hours practicing the tricks described in the box. It was during these practices that Sam realised he had a genuine talent for real magic. He could move things without touching them. That afternoon he had been moving the plates from the cupboard to the table and back again with only his mind. it was boring and exciting all at once. He was becoming good at this trick but now and then when he lost concentration the plates fell and he wasn’t quick enough to catch them, so yes a couple were broken.  When he had told this to Mrs C, Mrs big C, Mrs big fat C, she had quickly become angry.

“First of all you tell an outright lie young man blaming you poor sister, then you tell me you can levitate plates from one place to another. Both your parents will have to hear this whole story and I am sure they will treat you as you deserve. What a willful child you are.”

“But…” Sam began. “It’s not a lie.”

Mrs C had by this point stood up and was heading toward Sam with her hand outstretched. Sam knew what that meant and decided to proved to old grumpy Mrs C once and for all that he wasn’t lying. Concentrating he lifted her into the air and dropped her back on the sofa without moving a muscle. The look on Mrs C’s face had been hilarious as she rose and fell.

That had been the good bit. The challenge had come when his mum had rushed back from work and had questioned him on what had happened between him and the frightful woman, as his mum now referred to her. She  had heard Mrs C’s version of events and was completely unbelieving. When Sam told her that he thought she had found the vodka bottle in the pantry his mum was much more believing. He hadn’t liked hiding the truth from his mum, but just for now he’d keep his talent a secret.

Slowly Sam slipped towards sleep with a smile on his face as the clock clock still ticked tock and he thought ‘well maybe tomorrow I may just try it on something else’ and in his mind’s eye imagined his sister flying through the air and landing in the next door neighbour’s pool.

2017-02-24-sam-magic

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With time still to spare Annette suggested we each take eight word cards from the piles of flash cards and write a fifteen minute poem.  My words were: Quandary, Steel, Pump, Pig, Drawing Flamboyant, Slobber and Psychedelic. 

Here was my effort: A typical posy gym scene…. 

In a quandary – weights or circuit?
Not today, just pumping steel.
This flamboyant pig
Drawing slobber
From the psychedelic onlookers,

 

 

 

 

 

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21 Feb 2017

So far today, as I mentioned earlier in my Facebook post, it’s been a butter-side-up kind of day.

I started off with the usual walkies and feedings, before heading down town for my weekly Chiropractic sessions. Invariably the treatment hurts but I always feel better afterwards, and I’m currently pain-free.

Afterwards I always have a bit of a walk round and a coffee in town. This morning as I walked I first bumped into Enric, who is working in the Tea shop on Caputxins, extending it; spotted Andy outside Supernova on the Rambla and had a chat with him; Neus joined us for a minute, and I couldn’t help but comment on her amazing weight loss. Further down the Rambla I met Bill, also on his way to school and whilst we were chatting Ellen sailed past on her new (my old) bike.  A very social few minutes.

I stopped at the ‘Catering’ cafe -Sticky bun shop to those that know it and settled down in the sunshine for a coffee and croissant. Watching the goings on in the cafe opposite was a perfect way to pass the time.

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Back home there was a note under the door letting me know I had missed a delivery. It was from Nacex – a poster for ‘The Book of Words’ which I picked up just now. Although the first edition of the book is printed everything is still under wraps until I have proofed the printed copy. I shall then release it for general sale and start the sales pitches… Hopefully in just a few days.

This afternoon I have been editing/proofing my first thriller ‘Fear’. I enjoy the writing and the first edit, but after that it starts to get a bit of a chore. Thankfully Patricia has said she will help out again.  It may even be that this one is very soon on sale too, if I can maintain my enthusiasm for it.  As I edit I am listening to our old LPs on the new record-player. Every now and then I have to stop to wiggle a little (I call it dancing), or to swallow, or allow the flow of, the emotions brought up by favourite songs.

I’ve also been adding to ‘From Berwick Street to Barcelona’ as memories surface. Although some of the memories are sad and make me cry I am so pleased we had such an amazing, and as some would think, wild life together.  I am hoping to publish this later on this year, with photos of our best times. I’ve set a deadline for our anniversary as it would have been our 35th, but a lot could happen between now and then.

 

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Blown Away

30/04/99

Standing in the dark confused at what had happened my mind protected itself with a thought “A lightbulb must have popped.” Of course it was wrong.

There was a little light coming from somewhere, but my mind had stalled. Tony shook the torpor first and grabbing Kath’s hand told me to follow them. He’d worked there some years earlier and knew his way round.  There was no exit at the back and he was worried that if a fire had started we would be trapped.

Mindlessly I followed, but not mindlessly enough, as I became aware of what had happened and what was underfoot.  To this day I still have nightmare thoughts about those moments leaving the Admiral Duncan after the bomb had gone off.

What should have been a usual Bank holiday Friday night became a nightmare.  We had arrived at the Admiral Duncan a little earlier. Tony had moved down to the back straight away as Kath and I waited at the bar to be served. A young man next to me slammed down his pint, grunted something, and left. Unbeknown to us he’d left his lethal bag, with a nail-bomb inside, on the floor at my feet beside the bar.

Having been served we grabbed our pints and moved back to the pillar deep inside the bar. We’d had no more than a few gulps of our drinks when it happened. Had we been just a little slower in getting served we could so easily have been the parts we’d scrabbled over on the floor.

We fell through the door, looking like refugees, covered in dust and splinters. We checked ourselves and each other over and were relieved to find no serious damage. A few scratches were our shared total.   The police were warning everyone to move away while they made sure the area was safe.  After a moment on the far kerb we walked around the corner to the subway shop. They gave us water to clear the dust from our throats.

Although my memories of just how we moved from place to place are a bit shadowy I remember the sequence. Next we went into ‘Halfway to Heaven’. They had just heard the news and when we staggered in. They gave us brandies and helped us to clean up a little. All we wanted to do was get home so they hailed us a cab. The three of us piled in and headed for Brockley. There was no way we were letting Kath find her own way home. She could call her hubby and have him pick her up at ours.  She did and he arrived soon after we got back to take Kath safely home.

For the next couple of hours the phone rang constantly. Our usual Friday night routine was well-known and our friends were worried. We answered some of the calls but couldn’t face the ongoing attentions.

Sleep that night was elusive. We held each other and considered the other possible outcomes of our Friday night.

Saturday we spent at home in the garden. Neither of us wanted to leave the house. We simply sat in the spring sunshine holding hands as memories of the night before went round and round like a loop in our heads. Occasionally one of us would mutter a few words. We cried and held each other.

Sunday was little different. We had hardly slept since Friday night and were fit for nothing.  At some point during the morning we had a call from a friend who had not heard about our adventure. She had found out in the Sunday paper where our escape was pictured front and centre. We hadn’t got any newspapers, but now jumped in the car and headed to the newsagents. Home again we read and reread the story, surprised that we had been captured fleeing the bar.

At the time Tony wasn’t ‘out’ at work. When he went back on the Tuesday morning he took the paper with him. He showed his boss to explain why he might be a bit jumpy. His boss asked if Kath was his partner. Tony told him that no, the guy behind was. His boss expressed a little surprise, but no more.  Happily it was the same with all his colleagues.

Over the following months we went to support meetings and watched the news of the bombers capture and incarceration. We also met regularly with a Police liaison Officer and shared our story over and over. When the case came to court the three of us went along to The Old Bailey for the opening session.  We sat amongst the other ‘victims’ holding hands. When the bomber, David Copeland, was brought in there were a few gasps, someone started sobbing and a couple of insults were thrown his way.

The case ended in June 2000 with Copeland being found guilty and getting six concurrent life sentences to be spent at a mental facility. Psychiatrists had diagnosed him as having paranoid schizophrenia.  Three people had been killed and hundreds injured. He had also been responsible for two other nail-bombings in London over the previous weeks.  The first had been in Brixton, just around the corner from where I was a volunteer counsellor, and one in Brick Lane, just up the road from where I was working at the time.  I had had two near misses before that awful night

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Zachary

At last week’s writing group our prompt was as inventive as ever. We were each given a piece of paper and given a number. This was passed to our left and that person wrote a name, to the left again and a profession, once more to the left for a place, then to the left again and  this person had to finish the sentence: ‘what if…?  Finally we had to chose three words from Annette’s ever growing pile of flashcards.

This is what I had to work with… Zachary, a lawyer, London, “What if Zachary lied on oath?”. The three words were: brunch, foreboding & messenger. 

This was what I cam up with in our 30 minutes writing…. 

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It was over brunch that Zachary first planned to confess what he had done. Zachary had been a lawyer in London at a major law firm since he had passed his bar exams fifteen years before. In all that time he hadn’t lost a single case. He really was the golden boy of his firm.

On the morning of his confession he had a deep sense of foreboding and needed to tell someone about what he had done. He needed to share and unload as well as admit his heinous crime.  He still found it hard to believe himself and felt a deep sense of self-disappointment and shame.

Zachary had lied under oath. ‘Lied under oath’ he repeated the words in his head again as he got ready for his meeting with Jenner. They had agreed to meet at ten in the café in Bailiff’s Court, just round the corner from his law firm’s offices.  He had told Jenner that he needed to speak to her but not given any details. She would of course assume it would be to discuss one of their ongoing cases, and she wouldn’t be far wrong. But Zachary guessed she would have no idea of the exact reason for his need to talk to her.

The café wasn’t too busy when Zachary arrived ten minutes early. He had chosen to get there earlier so that he could settle the butterflies that were raging in his stomach. He settled into a booth towards the back of the café, where he hoped his confession wouldn’t be overheard.

The waitress came over to his table and took his order sharing a bit of friendly banter. Zachary was a regular customer and knew all the waitresses and waiters. This one, though, he knew particularly well from a late night visit a few weeks before when they had become much better acquainted I the store cupboard as She was the one closing up for the night. Zachary smiled at the memories of ….

The bell over the door rang loudly shaking him out of his reverie. He looked up in time to see Jenner marching towards his table.  She was a woman of purpose, always striding out and taking charge. He liked that in her as a friend, but as a lover it had not worked for him, which was one of the reasons they had split up. Luckily they had remained intimate friends and were always there for each other when needed.

“What is it this time?” Jenner asked as she slid into the booth grazing Zachary’s knee with her own as she did so.

“Straight down to business.” Replied Zachary nervously.  “You never have been one for small-talk have you?”

“Okay. How are you doing? It’s a lovely day today isn’t it? Did you see the last episode of Game of Thrones last night? Better now?” Jenner joked.

“You watch Game of Thrones?” Zachary asked, also joking.

“It’s a classic, but we’re not here to discuss who’s done what to whom and why in the seven kingdoms are we?” Jenner signalled to the waitress. “Doesn’t really like me, does she?” She commented more than asked.

“Well you were both vying for my generous affections at one point,” Zachary took a mouthful of toast and a sip of coffee as the waitress arrived and Jenner ordered her skinny Latte.

Zachary ate in silence, watched by Jenner until the waitress had delivered her order too.

“Okay, time is short. What do you need to get off your chest?” Jenner stirred sugar into her coffee.

“I’ve done something stupid, incredibly stupid,” Zachary looked shamefaced as he told her.

“Got someone pregnant?” Jenner half-joked. She knew Zachary was a player.

At that moment the bell above the door rang loudly again and a DHL messenger barged in. “Documents for a Mr Zachary Stiles” he shouted over the general hubbub of the now busier cafe..

“Over here,” Jenner shouted back indicating her brunch companion.

Zachary signed the documents and slid them aside.

“Aren’t you going to check what you’ve got?” Jenner asked. “It could be important, and even time sensitive since it was sent by courier.”

Zachary grabbed the envelope and tore at the seal. He took the two sheets of paper out and gasped. He handed them to Jenner.

Jenner took the papers and read them, her face changing from neutral to shock as she did so. “You bloody fool,” She said once she had finished reading what had turned out to be a court subpoena. “Seriously? You lied under oath? You bloody fool. This is why you wanted to talk isn’t it? Now,spill and hopefully we can salvage you some kind of career out of this;”

Zachary put down his toast and began his story …..

15-zachary

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After I had read my story the origin of ‘ spill’ (Spill the beans) was ‘discussed’. This is what I found via google: 

A popular folk etymology for “to spill the beans” claims that in ancient Greece, applicants for membership in secret societies were voted upon by having the existing members drop beans into a pottery jar. Those who approved of the potential new member would signal an affirmative vote by adding a white bean to the jar. A black bean indicated a negative vote. The story goes that on occasion, when the jar was accidentally knocked over, the beans poured out and the vote was revealed prematurely. Somebody had “spilled the beans“. It’s an engaging tale, and beans were in fact once used as ballots.

 

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Ups and downs

And not the kind I would prefer!

Plenty of the latter and not enough of the former, but today was a butter side up day.

Yesterday was a terrible day.  A year gone by, and I still miss Tone all the time. There were floods of tears throughout the day triggered by many different things. Without my kids and the whatsapp messages of good friends it could have been so much worse.

There was one good thing that happened yesterday: Alan finished the book cover for the next Cousins’ book, and I love it. It won’t be long now before I am publishing, when the book will be ready for general sale.

This morning Seur delivered my new toy – a suitcase record player. The delivery guy is always the same. He’s a really friendly guy. He always has to check my ID number, by now he should know it off by heart, as I do.

I’d routed out our LP collection a couple of days ago when I was clearing out, which is why I bought the player (Ebay for just over 60€ inc delivery).  Our older one wouldn’t work. As soon as it was unpacked and plugged in I tested it with a few old favourites. Smiles and bittersweet tears as I also remembered that I can still dance.  Enigma and FGTH.

The gorgeous Edith popped in for a cuppa mid morning, with her very stylish new hairstyle. She had brought me a letter. I didn’t read it while she was here, on her suggestion, but when I did it brought me to tears again. (FFS, is the reservoir not empty yet?) It is a letter to Tony that Edith had written at various points over the last year, and is wonderful.

As I settled down for a siesta there was another delivery.  This time UPS who I don’t know. This time a tea set- readying for my TulStig DelMar start of season Afternoon Tea event. More details as I know when the work on the facade will be finished.

When I went out to collect the package I found some mail on the doorstep. When I opened it there was a card in it from Tony’s oldest sister, Annette.  Sadly she is having a hard time with her hubby, Trevor. He’s not been well a while, and had an allergic reaction recently just before his birthday.  Like so many, Annette says she thinks of me (and Tony) a lot, and especially during the last week.  I had an email from Tony’s middle sister, Andrea, yesterday too, and last week a recipe book from his youngest sister Jools. Seems like they’re all thinking about me(us).

 

 

 

 

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366 Days

Today I am without you again.
A year too long. How can I go on?

They said it would get better.
It hasn’t.
They said it would hurt less.
It doesn’t.

They said it would be easier.
It isn’t.
They said I’d heal.
I haven’t.

Wait for me.

“I loved you before, I love you now and will love you for all the future.
My heart has always been yours and will always be yours.
I love you and will spend the rest of my life with(out) you, loving you.”

 

12-a-year-3-2

                          Missing you.

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