Sunday 09 January – The day starts with breakfast as the iPod does it’s job. Randy Crawford sings ‘You Might Need Somebody’, a nice chilled welcome to the day ahead. The sky is that mercury colour that makes it look like someone has set to with a grey paintbrush. I cheer the kitchen up, by standing the novelty bottle stopper I got at Christmas on the windowsill.
The morning eases past with very little effort until we leave for Wolverhampton, and dinner with friends to celebrate Pete’s 40th birthday. Yazoo play ‘Goodbye 70’s’ as we try to navigate around a white van that has been sat in the middle lane for the last few miles. The van is now crossing over the white lines either side, erratically slicing left then right. As I pass him, I glance to my left and see the driver is texting as he drives. That’ll explain his inability to travel in a straight line.
There are 17 of us at The Mermaid to celebrate with Pete. The orders for lunch are taken and the fiasco begins. One meal is delivered to the table and we wait. We wait and wait more, but it doesn’t look like any more will arrive soon. We all agree it’s best to start eating rather than wait. After 20 minutes two more meals arrive, closely followed by the waitress to tell us they have no pork left. The orders for Pork are changed and the two new meals begin to be consumed; by this time the first meal has been eaten. Suddenly there’s a rush on and three dinners are delivered, one of which is the wrong order. The waitress comes over once again, this time to tell us they’ve now run out of beef. The only child’s meal we ordered arrives and is followed by the sweet ordered by the first diner of the group. Eventually the last meal arrives and we have all been fed, albeit randomly. It felt odd finishing my meal as the person opposite was just being served theirs. As we leave I make a mental note not to book a large table at The Mermaid in the future.
A small group of us retire to the Chestnut Tree pub and have a few pints there, myself just one drink as I’m driving. It’s nice catching up with people, I hadn’t seen most of people there since going to Pete and Gloria’s wedding in Sorrento.
Monday 10 January – I spent most of the day working on my current writing assignment, becoming brain dead around 3pm. To relieve the stress I switch the iPod on and as Joy Division, throb away with ‘These Days’ I get everything together to make another batch of Limoncello. We have 1 bottle left in the freezer, and about a litre and half left of the grapefruit liqueur left. I pop over to Tesco to get some lemons and stand at the ATM behind a man who is coughing so much, it sounds like he’s hacking up a lung. Needless to say I move away and use a different cash machine. Back from Tesco, and I’m zesting and juicing lemons as Marilyn Manson bawls ‘(s)AINT’
I’m back on a diet, trying to lose those extra pounds I lazily put back on during 2010. I’m back on the Weightwatchers program, as counting points panders to my OCD. As Squeeze sing ‘Cool For Cats’ (what a blinder of a song, very clever lyrics), I prepare some salad for our dinner, with smoked haddock fishcakes. I tot up my points and see I have 19 left, enough for some red wine in front of the TV.
Tuesday 11 January – Today I created a playlist of all the tracks that have only ever been played twice and as ‘Tarantula’ by This Mortal Coil fills the house with brooding atmospherics I look at the work I’ve done for my fourth writing assignment. I’m almost finished editing when snoring can be heard, both of my dogs are asleep, one in her bed the other on the sofa. I’m still not happy with what I’ve written so go for a walk to clear my head. (How I ever get any work done is beyond me, my writing area is a complete mess.)
Followers of this blog will already know, I love those snippets of conversation that you get to hear when you’re out and about. Today I heard two women at a bus stop say the following: W1 – “She’s so bloody ugly, she’ll be lucky to get a boyfriend.” W2 – “You can’t say that.” W1 – “Why not?” W2 – “Because she’s your daughter.” W1 – “I know, I blame her father.”
I turn my iPod back on and walk home smiling as ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’ from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess plays.
Wed 12 January - Bobby Thurston sings the 80’s classic ‘Check Out The Groove as I drive home. Behind me is a van that is so close to my rear end that we’re almost intimate. This van has been hugging my bumper for about 5 minutes now and the driver doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem. I indicate to turn left, thinking he’ll ease back. Does he? Does he butternut squash. I slow down, change gear and begin to turn as he sounds his horn, unhappy that he’s now been inconvenienced, and had to touch his brakes. A shuffle takes place and appropriately as I stick my middle finger in the air, Martin Gore begins to play ‘In A Manner Of Speaking’.
Back home, I notice we are out of olive oil, so it’s now time to open the can of oil we helped harvest. (See Olive Picking, Vertical Driving and Remembrance, November 21 2010) I open the can and the smell of sunshine and greenery is released. The taste test comes next, and it’s delicious. It has a grapey flavour at the start and the freshness of long warm summer days, followed by a peppery hit. (It’s too nice to think about Weightwatcher points.)
Sadly the oil just makes me miss being over in Abruzzo, and working on our house there.
Thursday 13 January – First song of the day is Cyndi Lauper with the classic ‘La Vie En Rose’ from the At Last album (2003). It’s a scratchy vocal that doesn’t really suit the softness of the song. Cyndi doesn’t have the best of voices, but having released her 11th album back in 2010, proves she still has an audience. Maybe not the same one that loved her when she was the quirky She’s So Unusual’ singer, but an audience no less. (I like that ‘Unusual’ has three U’s in it.)
I had a message today from friends in Australia, they told me the floods there are quite scary, but they’re safe as they are on higher ground in Darwin, but the devastation all around is dreadful. Thank goodness they’re safe though.
As Robyn sang ‘Fembot’ I went up to town for a mooch around the shops. As usual the touch screen on my phone was playing up, so I went to see about an upgrade. I intended to get something standard, but the prices were ridiculous. So in the end I came away with a new iPhone4. It’s possibly got more functions than I’ll use, and I know I said before I just need a basic one for when I move to Italy. But hey, I succumbed to the lure of a new gadget. So with a picture of Tiziano Ferro for the wallpaper, it joins my Apple/iPod family.
Now all I have to do is work out how to use it.
Friday 14 January – Well as you can imagine I spent most of the morning playing with my new phone, downloading apps and making a new ringtone for it. The iPod once again was shuffling between songs that had only been played twice. Ruby Winters sang her version of the Smokey Robinson classic, ‘The Tracks of My Tears’, as I added photo’s to some of the contacts in my phonebook.
I received a very odd telephone call today, my phone flashed telling me it was an 0845 number. Normally I ignore them, as 9 times out of 10 it’s someone trying to sell me water coolers, or an weeks time share in Dubai. However today I answered it, to discover it was someone from Job Seekers Allowance. The conversation went something like this. JSA – “I’m just calling to enquire, are you in employment?” Me – “No.” JSA – “Have you recently left a job?” Me – “I have recently completed a self employed contract.” JSA – “When did that end?” Me – “Why do you want to know this?” JSA – “Because we don’t have a record of you claiming benefits.” Me- “That’s because I haven’t made a claim for any.” JSA - “Oh, sorry to have bothered you.” Maybe the next austerity cuts should include, the government’s pointless telephone calls department.
I finally complete the third part of my writing assignment, happy with it at last. I just have to come up with an short article now. (500 - 700 words). I’m about to make some notes for the article, when a shuffle takes place. The awesome ‘A Lover’s Holiday’ by Change,featuring the then unknown Luther Vandross. (Many people think Change was an American band, but no, it was formed in Bologna, Italy.)The song has me on my feet and heading into the kitchen, it’s disco beat infectious. So for the time it takes the song to play I’m bobbing along with beat and peeling potatoes for our dinner later.
Saturday 15 January – Today is my other half’s birthday, so we pop up to town to get some bits and bobs for a birthday dinner on Sunday to celebrate his birthday and my ex-wife’s, which is on the 18th.