Author: Ann Patras

I was born and raised a L*O*N*G time ago in Burton on Trent, England where my parents ran the family's busy corner grocery store and later a pub. I moved with my husband and 3 kids to Africa in 1989 where we lived for 32 years. We had many new, strange, exciting, frightening, weird, silly, sad, happy and amazing experiences during that time. After many years of procrastinating and moving to Spain in 2011 I completed the first book in my 'Africa Series' "Into Africa with 3 kids, 13 crates and a husband", in 2014. This only recounted the first year of our family’s somewhat unusual life in Africa. My second book, "More Into Africa with 3 kids, some dogs and a husband" which covers three further years, was released in 2016. I am currently in the mess of writing the third. I love writing about our daft experiences and hopefully making people laugh in the process. Finally, I am absolutely thrilled to to bits to tell you that INTO AFRICA received the Silver Award in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2016, (non-fiction category) in the UK.

The Trouble with Dogs

I’d had a fairly successful day.  Been for a haircut, did some editing of my latest book, managed a modicum of success with revamping one of the sketches for said book. I even cooked us (Ziggy, Leon and myself) a lovely super – my version of southern fried chicken with special coleslaw and a few chips. 

Nearing the end of my day I did a final check of my emails before deciding on an early night – that means before 01:00.  All that remained was for to put the dogs out and lock up before retiring to my bedroom.

Cava, our ‘new’ dog hasn’t yet latched onto all the bad habits of the other two, and was already outside alternating between her cushioned bed and barking by the front gate at imaginary interlopers.  The other two dogs had spent the last few hours in the dining room, where I set up my inside office.  JD the Lab was sleeping on the sofa and Marti was lying on the floor beside it, with her head under a dining chair.

“Come on girls, outside.  Time for bed” I called as I opened the front door to allow their exit.

JD grunted and slowly climbed off the sofa, making her way outside. Marti did not move. 

This is not unusual, as she likes to stay inside at night.  I do give into this sometimes, especially in the winter, or if there is likely to be a thunder storm.  She hates storms.  Even a hefty wind will have her scurrying inside when any loose parts of our property start rattling or the pine trees on the edge of our yard send cones crashing down onto our stoep roof.

But tonight I decided she must go outside.  Knowing I might have trouble persuading her I noisily dragged the chair from over her head, resulting in a hasty scrabble to her feet.  Then she leapt into action.  Or tried to. 

I could see what she was thinking, and as she rushed to climb onto the sofa I leapt over her and landed on top of her when she’d only managed to get her front feet and half her body onto the cushions.  We both waited there, to see who was going to give in first.  I knew that if she once got onto that sofa I would have a helluva job getting her off.

In case you don’t know, Marti is a Mastin.  That’s a Spanish Mastiff, weighing in at close on seventy kilos.  To drag her full size off the sofa, or lift her off the floor, is quite a struggle, and not an exercise I was keen to perform.  But if I played my cards right here, I could get hold of her collar to pull her along as soon as I’d got her front feet back on the floor. Trouble was, I wasn’t in the best position to do this.

Her rear end was still on the floor, right up against the sofa. I was straddled over the dog with my left leg stuck between her and the chair, which was only a few inches from the sofa.  To get hold of her collar the right way, I had to ease my body off her shoulders then get to the other side of the chair, at the same time trying to stop her from getting up onto the sofa.

As I am sure you can imagine, she is a strong dog.   Peering at her up-side-down over her ears I looked her in the eyes, she looked back at me, we were both determined to win. 

Gripping her collar, I scrambled onto the sofa, over her head to the other side then down to stand on the floor, now on the other side of the dining chair. Turning quickly to face her I heaved with all my might and hauled her torso off the sofa.  She almost beat me as she tried to lay down but I clung tightly to the collar, pulling upwards with every ounce of strength I could muster, shouting, “No Marti, No.  You’re going OUTSIDE to bed.”

This was another one of the many times I has happy that we had typical Spanish tiled flooring, because as I tried to pull her towards the door she splayed her feet for a ‘dig in’ but instead slid slowly along the tiles.  After a couple of metres she gave up the struggle, stood up and reluctantly walked beside me, casting malevolent looks up at me.  Even with this state of co-operation I knew better than to let my hand, or my guard, down, as she has been known to scuttle off round the table back to the sofa at the first opportunity.

But outside she went, casting a final, disgusted look in my direction before wandering off to the water bowl to revive herself.

I don’t know about her, but I could have done with a stiff drink after all that. Pity I gave booze up over eight years ago.

Instead I locked the door, turned off the light, and took myself off to my own bed for a well-earned rest.

As for the dog, I’m sure she resumed her favourite position outside.

Chilled Martini

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Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – Comedian in Residence D.G. Kaye and a joke from Sally’s Archives

Definitely worth a read…

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

First Debby Giesshares some of the funnies this week that she feels you should not miss.. ..D.G. Kaye Writer Blog is where you will find an archive full of wonderful posts across several subjects including writing tips, social issues and book reviews.

My thanks to Debby for spotting these.. and please give her a round of applause.

D. G. Kaye – Buy:http://www.amazon.com/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO
Blog:http://www.dgkayewriter.com Goodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads

Catch up with Debby’s monthly Travel Column here on Smorgasbord:https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-travel-column-with-d-g-kaye/

Now something from my archives..

Blood Sugar Levels

I went to my nearby CVS Pharmacy, straight to the back, where the Pharmacists’ high counter is located.

I took out my little brown bottle, along with a teaspoon, and set them up on the counter.

The Pharmacist came over, smiled, and asked if he could help me. I said, “Yes! Could you please taste this…

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The Tail of Richard

I was recently reminded by a friend, of an email I sent out some years ago, which I re-read (yes, I’m an email-hoarder – thank goodness!) and have decided to now share with you. My generosity, you see, knows no bounds.

18 August 2013

Dear Friends,

I’m having a bit of a problem with some visitors at the moment.  It was OK when it was just Richard, he kept himself to himself most of the time.  Then he brought a friend along to stay, and I wasn’t too happy about the antics they were getting up to at night.  I decided it was time to drop some subtle hints, so I started laying traps.  Literally.  Because Richard is a rat. Only a tree rat (I think) but a rat none the less. 

He lives high up in one of our pine trees in the yard.  As twilight falls he comes down the tree and scurries across our new patio roof, over the Casita roof then disappears to goodness knows where.  At first I only heard him. He made so much noise you would have thought he was the size of a cat.  It was only when next door’s cat tried to catch him one night that I realised a cat on the roof sounded like a herd of buffalo.  Of course, no amount of careful stalking by the cat could ever result in a catch; once it sprinted into action for ‘the kill’  the sounding of charging buffalo had the rat long gone with a clear lead of at least six metres before disappearing into the bushes of our back garden. 

Then I got to meet him personally one night.  I was going to fetch something from my car and there he was, sitting on the roof of a little bird house which is fastened to one of the pine trees.  He just sat there, bold as brass, for what seemed like ages (though was probably only about ten seconds) before running up the tree into the cover of the branches.

If for any reason I park my car in the open yard instead of under the carport, I now take care to close the windows just in case he should fall out of his tree and tumble into the confines of my car. It is not nice to have a rat run across your feet when you’re driving; I know, it happened to me once in Zambia. (See INTO AFRICA with 3 kids, 12 crates and a husband.)

Sometimes he sits in his hi-rise apratment and dismantles pine cones.  I’m not sure which part he eats, but the bits he doesn’t want are tossed away, landing on the opaque plastic roof like intermittent hailstones at the onset of a storm.

Apart from when the neighbour’s cat is in pursuit, our dogs tend to ignore him.  I think they have learned from their abortive attempts to catch birds, that anything above their nose level is a waste of effort.

Richard’s solo lifestyle must have lasted for at least three weeks.  Then he got a mate.  I assume it is a female because it is smaller than him, although it could be a wee gay rat friend.  Anyway, we all know what happens when a rat gets a lady mate.  In no time at all little ratlets start appearing and we don’t want that, do we?  Well I don’t.

It was time for action.

I dug out the old rat trap from behind a mountain of plant pots only to find that it was in a slight state of disrepair.  It only has three moving parts and one of those had dropped off.  Being unsure of how to effect a repair it was easier to buy another.  I bought two.  The owner of the Ferret Shop (our name for a ferreteria [Spanish hardware store]) tried to sell me a multiple one which consists of one piece of wood with two or three traps positioned side by side.  I couldn’t quite see that myself.

Like, what were the chances of two or three rats actually nibbling on the baits at exactly the same time, setting the traps off simultaneously?   Or,

Picture Daddy Rat strolling along and spotting a chunk of greasy pork, temptingly positioned on a nice clean piece of wood.  He walks up to it, sniffs it “Ooo, yummy” , starts to nibble and WHAM, he’s smacked on the back of the neck with 500lbs pressure of coiled galvanised wire.  Then his missus, Ruby Rat, comes along and sees Richard lying there, obviously grabbing forty winks after a tasty meal, so she goes up to the second place-setting to partake of her own delicious delicacy  when WHAM she’s out for the count before she even had her second mouthful.  Not to be outdone Uncle Ernest Rat arrives and sees his two relatives lying there. “Miserable buggers, starting the party without me” he mutters, and starts tucking into a crunchy bit of pork crackling but WHAM down comes the third tightly sprung wire causing instant decapitation.   A likely scenario?  I don’t think so.  Especially if there were a few hot Spanish hours between demises.  Rotting rat would be detected five hundred metres away.

I arrived home with my two new, solo killing devices which I handed to Ziggy, asking him to do the dastardly deed. He put a piece of cheese on one and placed it on an eye-level shelf beside the braai which was near the area traversed by the rats and unlikely to be frequented by birds, cats or dogs. 

Later that evening there was an almighty crash which had the dogs fleeing indoors out of fright – and it gave me a bit of a start – so I went to investigate the cause. The trap took some tracking down to where it had been catapulted by the power of the spring.  Of the rat there was no sign at all.  I suggested to Ziggy that it might be a good idea to fasten the trap onto the shelf, at which point he lost interest in the project.

The next night I went rummaging through my fridge is search of some appropriate comestibles.  It shames me to admit that there is generally something in there of dubious quality and it didn’t take me long to find a suitable tidbit. 

I secured a crusty piece of pork belly to the dual spikes of the trap then prized the sprung U-bar back and very, very carefully secured it with the long holding pin.  Five minutes later I had it safely fixed to the shelf with a G-clamp.  Let the party start!

And it did – and went on for several nights.  A strip of rancid bacon,  two Cumberland pork sausages and eight ounces of pork belly later I have two very fat and happy rats, who are clearly not of the Jewish persuasion.  To confirm the mechanics, I poked a stick into the (empty) trap to make sure that it actually worked, the spring sprung back so ferociously that it dislodged the holding pin completely, never to be seen again.  A change in strategy was called for.

I returned to the Ferret Shop complaining to the Spanish owner that he had sold me duff traps.  He said Spanish rats were very clever and that maybe I should try poison instead. I had already figured that out for myself.

On to Plan ‘B’.  

I presented Ziggy with the box which contained a couple of dozen parcels which resembled solidified used teabags in a pretty shade of pink.  He took two and placed one either side of the useless trap.

As dusk turned to dark we heard much scurrying of feet and after half an hour checked out the shelf.  Both packets were gone, so he put out two more.  They were gone within ten minutes.  We were now supplying our rats with takeaways!

I woke at some point in the early hours of the morning and could hear strange squeaking sounds coming from beyond the bedroom window.  I convinced myself that it was the tortured cries of a rat dying a slow and painful death.  I tossed and turned for the rest of the night, wracked with guilt.

The following day the dogs spent a lot of time racing back and forth into the garden, obviously looking for something.   A couple of times I heard what could only be the plaintiff squeak of my dying rat but, like the dogs, could not actually find it. 

As the afternoon came to a close I went about my watering chores.  The Spanish summer heat was playing havoc with my garden.  As I came to the last batch of pot plants I was absolutely dismayed to find that one of my three baby and two of my three juvenile pot plants had each had one of the lower leaves gnawed off. 

Those overweight rats hadn’t been in their death throes at all.  They had been high on my bloody marijuana plants!

This was war. More pink teabags were put out.  I even fastened one in a trap. I nearly pulled the plan off with that one. 

I was sitting outside on the stoep, as is my wont on a balmy Spanish evening, tapping away at my laptop when the almighty snap of the trap resonated off the tin roof and echoed around the valley.   I raced to the killing zone only to find a sorry sight.  The rat sat on the shelf staring at the quivering teabag in a state of shock.  It appeared the teabag had been so big there wasn’t room for it and the rat under the sprung wire.  I glanced around for something to capture the rat in its stunned state. As I grabbed at an empty plant pot the creature came to its senses and in a flash high-tailed it off the shelf into the darkness.

Damn it.  I had been within a whisker of catching it.  I went back to my laptop to scour the websites for Plan ‘C’.

Plan ‘C’ leapt out at me from several websites.  A simple design.  Bucket; water; pole; empty drinks can; bait.

Fill a large bucket to one third with water, get a cane stick or something similar to lie across the bucket. Make a hole in the bottom of the drinks can then thread the stick through it and out the top pouring hole, ensuring that the can turns easily and lies lopsided on the stick.  Attach some bait to the can and hey presto, one rat trap.

The idea is that the rat climbs onto the edge of the bucket, which you have positioned at a convenient level, then it walks along the stick, climbs onto the can to get the bait, the can swivels on the stick and the rat falls in the bucket of water. One drowned rat.  Or if you want to be humane about it put an upturned plant pot over the floundering rat, trapping it in the bucket as you empty out the water, then take the rat, preferably at least a mile away, and release it into a hedge or someone else’s garden.

I had a builders’ mixing bucket lying around (12”high x 14”dia) which I figured would be about right for the job. I found an old cane which I had used for propping up last year’s weed crop and Ziggy helped by emptying a can of San Miguel.  The bait was my masterpiece.  A small piece of dried up ham stuck onto the can with some of my home-made plum glue.  It was supposed to be plum jam but it didn’t quite work out right (every time I tried to spread it the knife got glued to the bread). 

I placed the bucket close to the shelf where the other rat-catching feeding devices had been laid, switched off the overhead light and went back to my computer to await the action.  It wasn’t long before I heard the scraping of tiny feet on metal.  This is it, I thought.  I went to take a look but everything was still there, excluding any sign of a rat.  This happened a couple of times, then I heard some splashing.

I raced to the scene of the crime and turned on the light.  Nothing.  But I could still hear splashing.  I turned around.  Behind me was our mastiff slurping water out of the swimming pool. 

Ten minutes later I again heard can and water noises and went to check.  I looked down at the still rocking can to see that not only had the ham gone, but the plum glue had been licked off the can as well. 

Putting on the light I saw Richard sitting a couple of yards away beside his escape route just beneath the roof.  After eating his fill he must have taken a refreshing swim and then jumped out of the bucket back to safety. He sat there shaking his head, as if to get the water out of his ears, grinning!

I glowered back at Fat Richard.

“You little bastard!” I said, at which he winked at me and sauntered off.

There is nothing wrong with rats.  I don’t know what all the fuss is about. 

I am beginning to quite like rats actually.  They are happy, friendly, furry little things. I don’t have a problem sharing my stoep with a rat or two.  After all haven’t I been living with one for almost 40 years?

25 August 2013

Richard the Rat – Epitaph

It is with a sad and heavy heart that I have to advise of the recent demise of Richard.   This morning, somewhere around half past ten, Richard passed away. Expired, departed this life, croaked (or was that the toad?), kicked the bucket, or simply died and went to meet his maker (who I hope likes rats).   Yes, Richard is no more; dead though not buried.

After my previous report Richard and his friends had continued to frolic around the laundry and in the bushes with gay abandon, hurtling from branch to branch like trapeze artists in a circus.  I had given up on the traps, and the bucket remained unbaited, though I did put out the odd pink teabag now and again.

Then a few days ago I found two of Richard’s little friends.  The first one appeared to be still alive, but the movement turned out to be the ripple of ants crawling all over it.  The second one lay several feet away and looked like it had enjoyed a swim in the trap-bucket before somehow escaping but then succumbing to the lethal effects of the pink teabags.  It too was the subject of some considerable ant interest.  I fetched the shovel and despatched the little beasties high and westward over the garden fence.    

A third one was discovered by one of the dogs (identity unknown) the following day and was generously delivered to the yard where it was left proudly on display for all and sundry to enjoy.  Whilst I am no expert in the study of rat remains I would hazard a guess that this one croaked at about the same time as the other two as it now only consisted of skin, a little fur and a head and tail, and was somewhat akin to the mummified cat recently shown on BBC World News, but smaller and more rat-shaped.  I dismissed an initial impulse to contact the BBC, and with the help of my trusty shovel propelled this one in a southerly direction into a neighbouring, abandoned orchard.

Thereafter my post dusk relaxations were only minimally peppered with sounds of a very lethargic Richard and my neighbour’s disappointed cat.

The next day I went about my business of watering the potplants; Saturday was the day for fertiliser application.  I tended the three large plants, then the two smaller ones which had been re-potted more recently.  I turned to the third, pathetic little stripling which was still on a workbench as it wasn’t yet worthy of re-potting when I myself was rooted to the spot by the sight before me.  There, all curled up as if in a made-to-measure bed lay Richard, in the pot-plant-pot.

I slowly moved closer to his chosen place of repose when I noticed that his little eyes were open and he was still breathing.  I raced off to fetch Ziggy – and my camera.

He was still there when we returned although Ziggy wouldn’t believe me when I said he was still breathing (he needs more than reading glasses methinks), but offered to splatter him with a spade.  I declined his kind offer and he went back to his tv program whilst I went off to my computer.  As I sat there I began to feel terrible about poor Richard, leaving him there to die in the baking sun.  I went back to Ziggy and asked him if he would just come and tip Richard out of the pot down the slope of our land where he could at least wander off under a bush and die to his heart’s content.

So we went back to the potting area but instead of lifting up the pot, Ziggy simply grasped Richard by the tail and lifted him out of the pot.  Within seconds Richard was wriggling about on the end of his very long tail.   I was amazed – and quite impressed – that Ziggy didn’t instantly drop him when this happened.  If it had happened to me I’d have crapped myself.  Not that there’d ever be a chance of that happening (picking up a rat by the tail, not crapping myself.) 

You’d think I’d never mentioned the ‘live’ aspect to him, because he said, “Hey the little bugger’s still alive”    Stupid sod.

Ziggy then stood in the middle of the back garden to get good clearance of the 2metre high fence and said “Say ‘goodbye’ to Rowland” – he never could get the name right!

With a tear in my eye I called “Goodbye Richard” as Ziggy executed a perfect overarm lob and with a flick of his wrist swung Richard by the end of his tail in a perfect arc, sending him flying off in the direction of our veggie plot. 

I hope he landed unharmed, and rested in peas.

Time for a Siesta?

Ah, siesta time on a Spanish summer’s afternoon.

Lay back on the patio couch and be lulled by the whispers of the mountain breeze talking to the tall pines, which are providing some welcome shade from the blazing sun.

An array of birds have settled in the swaying branches to feast on the nuts contained within the pine cones.  Occasionally pine cloves are detached, to fall like solitary (large) hailstones on the corrugated carport roof.

But the birds’ noisy activities are usurped by the squeaking of the weather vane going cock-eyed.

Then the neighbours arrive, complete with friends, at their weekend residence next-door, and their dogs bark with delight at receiving company after such a lonesome week.  But the dogs soon quieten when the musicas español begins, accompanied by the singing senoritas.

Even this is of no concern, as it is soon overpowered by the arrival of the dear cicadas, which should not be confused with the sweet sound of chirruping crickets.  Today the distinctive, squeak-buzzing cicadas are excelling themselves, reaching over 112 decibels on the logarithmic scale.

BOOM

Holy Crap!!!

Sounds of skidding toenails as our three large, terrified dogs scuttle inside the house.  Spanish cries of (equivalent) “What the £**& was that?” are heard.

Fear not, my friends, it was just one of the birds at the top of a tree getting carried away with its nut-gathering, and dislodging a grapefruit-sized pine cone from its stem, to fall some 30 feet onto the hollow roof.

Ah, Yes.  The perfect setting for a Spanish siesta.

Zzzzzzzzz

In Sight of the End

My son Leon, aka my marketing manager, asked me this morning,

“Can you remember when you last wrote anything on your website?”

“No.”

“Well neither can anyone else, because it was so long ago.  Don’t you think you should do something about it?”

“Yes. What?”

“Why don’t you quote something funny from your next book? Preferably using words of more than one syllable!”

“Leon, I have just this minute finished editing one of the chapters in the new book, and it left me in tears. And I don’t mean tears of laughter either. I can’t think of anything funny right now!”

“Oh.  Well when you’ve got over that bit, work on something.  Please!”

So here I am, working on it.

You know, this authorship lark isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Well, not when you’re as disorganised as I am.  For a start I have to be in the right mood to write.  This ‘2000 words a day between muesli-o-clock and a healthy lunch’ routine doesn’t happen on the street where I live.  If I’m not in the write frame of mind it’s an absolute waste of time.

This was proven earlier in the year when I gave myself a dressing down, for not ‘getting on with book 3’, as my current masterpiece is imaginatively referred to.  So I sat in front of my laptop and instead of playing spider solitaire I wrote about some random occurrence circa 1985 in Lusaka.

I actually managed to almost complete a whole chapter.  Then other lifely commitments (like cooking or sitting making up new words ) overtook my time, so it was a few days before I returned to my book-ing.  As is my wont, I read through the piece I had begun, before proceeding to finish it off, to find that I had actually written the biggest load of boring drivel conceivable.  You’d be better entertained by reading the Smith section in a telephone directory (for those of you who can remember those!).

Another issue thwarting the progress of book 3 is that I ran out of letters. No, I don’t mean A,B,C,D,E… letters, but Dear Ethel, type letters.

The material for my first two books was a doddle to establish because I had scores of copy letters I had written to family and friends reminding me of what had happened in my life.  But after living in Zambia for over four years, and had my folks visit us there and see what life was like, these letters became less frequent, so I now have to rely on my memory – a very risky source.

But fear not, dear reader, for the good news is that I have now actually reached the end.  Admittedly a few bits in the middle need a little tweaking here and there, and a multitude of editors have yet to be unleashed on its contents to annihilate the typos and unscramble the grammatical errors, but the end is in sight, as the policeman said to the flasher.

And you’ll be delighted to hear that book 3 does, in fact, contain lots of funny bits.

 

PS.  Don’t worry, I’ll have worked out a real title for Book 3 before it’s published.

Cemetery Celebrations

I swear on my life – which I value greatly – the article which is the subject of this story was genuinely in our local press a while back.   I simply could not pass up a chance like this.

I almost fell off my chair when I read a headline in the Lifestyle section of the English-language edition of our local Spanish newspaper –

CEMETERY CELEBRATION

The Malaga English cemetery is making friends and entertaining people.”

This was a ‘must read’ if ever I saw one.

“The foundation which took over the running of the cemetery two years ago reported that the burial ground was enjoying a surge of popularity.”

What???  To quote my dear, appropriately departed, Dad, “the mind boggles.”

I can just picture it.  A horde of little old ladies and gentlemen, on hearing that the cemetery was “the place to be” go dashing through the wrought-iron gates, anticipating an exciting game of bingo or sing-along, and instead they trip over the cunningly positioned ‘Welcome to the Cemetery’ sign and WHAM.  Before you know it, there’s a whole heap of people just dying to get in.

But these people are deadly serious.  You can’t make this sort of stuff up.

The article advises there are “almost 2300 ‘friends’ of this cemetery – and the number is growing daily.

No shit!  Is someone scattering organic fertiliser over the graves?  It certainly sounds like a load of manure to me.

Apparently, members of this Association are entitled to discounts at concerts and other functions held at the cemetery.  Does every body get 10% off?  Would you get a double discount for a family crypt?

Can you imagine the music they’d play at these concerts?

Dem Bones

Knocking on Heaven’s Door

Live or Let Die

Don’t Fear the Reaper

Bat out of Hell

Three Steps to Heaven

Spirit in the Sky

I Ain’t Got No Body

Sympathy for the Devil

Ghost Busters

And what about all the poor souls who want to get in there for legitimate reasons – like, those who got dead somewhere else first?  Is there enough space for them? Do they have to wait in a different queue like at the airport?   If they were stuck in the queue for a long time (like at Passport Control!) they’d start to smell pretty rank in no time at all, especially in the heat of a Spanish summer I can tell you.

According to the report, Friends of the Cemetery also do “Lantern lit nocturnal tours of the cemetery, to coincide with a full moon”.  It wouldn’t surprise me to hear they have Count Dracula and Frankenstein as guest speakers on a good night.  Given the potential for werewolves, these tours must be a howling success.

I told a friend about it and asked if he knew where the cemetery was. He said,

“Yeah, it’s in the dead centre of town.  They reckon it’s a pretty cool place to be.   But apparently the functions at the crematorium are even better.  I’ve heard the chicks are dead hot there.  I think I’ll instigate a Friends of the Crematorium? A hot idea like that would certainly deter grave robbers.”

I warned him this was no joke, and could soon find him digging his own grave if someone ‘on the other side’ heard him making such flippant remarks.

Then, of course, there are the “Interesting Talks”.  The subject matter must be riveting.

“Everyman’s Guide to Embalming”

“Do-It-Yourself Casket Making”

“Grave Digging Workout Routines”

“Headstone Engraving Made Easy”

 

I mean, what else could they possibly talk about sitting around in the middle of a cemetery?

And do they hold Séances?

“Is there anyone out there called John?  If so please knock three times on the ceiling.”

It must be like a bloody earthquake when all those Englishmen start rapping on their coffin lids.

No thank you very much.  A glass of vino in front of the telly is more my style.  You won’t catch me joining ‘Friends of the English Cemetery’.

“Not over my dead body, you won’t”, as a true Burtonian would say.

 

 

 

Innovative suggestions for the enhancement of my report will be read with interest.  And all reviews/comments will be gratefully received. AP

Small Black Plastic Gubbins

I had a lovely Christmas, thank you for asking.  It was relatively quiet, mostly due to the fact that Brad was missing.  He and his girlfriend are in South Africa where they are spending Christmas at Mabalingwe Game Lodge with her family.  I had a phone call this morning (Boxing Day) from a ‘Police Sergeant Botha’ to say he was sorry to break the news, but my son had been eaten by a lion. I thought it was a hoax to get money out of me so I ignored it.

Anyway, Leon and Vicki, along with her boyfriend Sam and best friend Will were here, even though V&S were late arriving, due to both having to work !!! until five o’clock (on Christmas day for goodness sakes!).  We opened lots of presents and my Christmas repast went down well, being served at the correct temperatures without any errors or omissions this year.  (I actually think this was a first.)

Anyway, the reason I’m talking to you now is to share a  list which I just compiled, which I thought might entertain you a little.  You see, my daughter bought me a new bedside lamp for Christmas.  I just went to ‘install’ it, but first had to clear my bedside table.

This is what was on said furniture –

  • Bedside lamp – faulty
  • Hanging from lamp – pair of spectacles, on a cord
  •                                      – fob-watch on a chain
  • Box of tissues, almost new
  • Thick plastic paperclip-sort-of-thing, blue
  • White pearl Button, in tiny plastic packet
  • Small spiral notepad
  • 3 pens (black, red, purple)
  • €1 coin
  • 2 touch-screen sticks (1 lime green, 1 purple)
  • 1 dog biscuit, heart shaped
  • Bottle of Aloe Gel, 1/3 full
  • Small blue emery board
  • Folded tissue, from handypack
  • Small black plastic gubbins, purpose unknown*
  • Vicks Inhaler
  • Zambia K500 note
  • 1x12cm thin black satin ribbon, previously attached to a cardigan shoulder
  • Amstel beer coaster
  • Enough dust to give someone a serious asthma attack

Having cleaned off the dust and removed certain of the duplicated/unnecessary items, my lovely new touch-lamp is now suitably sited.

My old touch-lamp lasted nigh-on seven years before developing a mind of its own, when it randomly began to switch itself on at the most obscure times.  This could be somewhat disconcerting (ie read ‘heart-attack material) if it happened while you were walking through the dark room at night, or suddenly awakened from a deep sleep by a mid-night brightness.

Anyway, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, or bonus day, or two, off if you’re not into it.  We only get one day off here in Spain, no Boxing Day for us.  Of course, I get as many days off as I want, seein’ as ‘ow I’m an old retired person.

In closing I would like to wish you a 2019 filled with good health, a reasonable amount of wealth (no need to be greedy) and tons of happiness.

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PS      I’ve remembered what the small black plastic gubbins is.  It’s the nozzle for the vacuum function on an old, but still partially working, bag sealer stored in the top of a wardrobe. (It fell off as I was chucking the machine into the cupboard, and I couldn’t be arsed to get the steps to fit it back on).