Saturday 30 August 2014

Tim Vine Bee Gees Tribute

Ah, found it. (See last post)

beards, flares and teeth

Mark never fails to surprise me with his musical explorations. A few days ago, a small present from Amazon arrived . . . actually, a super cheap boxed set of The Bee Gees.
Uh? I said, thinking back to the shiny suits and vibrato-laced falsetto voices. How wrong I was to sneer, and how I had forgotten the great musical talent that these boys added to the great era of orange and shag-pile. We've just the morning clear-up to: Tragedy, Spirits, Jive Talkin' and, of course Night Fever - brilliant.
I can't listen to 'Too Much Heaven' however without seeing Tim Vine's brilliant impression however. I might try and find it . . .

Friday 29 August 2014

Post for a feathered friend

Throughout most of my life I've kept or looked after birds: budgies when I was a child, along with poorly pigeons, broken-winged blackbirds and sparrows; a gap while I was at art college then back into budgies, baby swallows when we moved to France, more budgies - a large family in the end, until some visiting child left the cage open . . .
There then was another pause until Ezra decided he wanted a large reptile. Faced with heating-lights, vast cages, and a near miss with buying an Iguana that we were told would grow to about the size of a large cat, we suggested a larger bird than a budgie: exotic, not quite so expensive to run, and wouldn't involve the horrible thing about having to buy live (crickets mainly) food for the beast to eat.
After much research into Toucans, and discovering that you could not legally purchase one in France, it was agreed that the Christmas present that year would be a small parrot.
'Ananas' was bought from a breeder in Beziers and installed in a rather fine cage, at first in the front room (until I could no longer stand the screeching), and then in Ezra's room. She quickly became his bird and refused to be handled by anyone else; sad as I liked letting her out to soar around the front room while the cat licked his lips.
    After several years of her noises blending into the Hothouse soundscape, it is suddenly quiet.
Yesterday, she wasn't quite herself, and today - gone. Just like that: so hard to believe. No more clanking mirror, no more: Hello, pieces of eight, peace (short for pieces of eight), Ezra! and all the bird noises she copied, and the squeaks from around the house, certain door closing-noises and creaky floors.
Gone the ritual of boy hunched in front of computer first thing in the morning with a green-feathered bundle snuggled into his neck and gone the bobbing bird if you put Salsa on.
I suppose I won't miss cleaning up the dried parrot poop, and Mark won't miss finding books with chewed edges, but that's about all, and I know there will be a very large gap left by a small bird in Ezra's life.

Sunday 24 August 2014

Summer holiday

or days - three, in fact.
Every year when our lovely cousins come and visit, Mark and I leave the Hothouse compound together and holiday somewhere for a few days. This year we went down to our favourite bit of coast - many times rambled on about on this blog - Cerbère.
The sun resolutely refused to shine apart from on a half day out in Gerona, but that was fine. This odd little sea-village is atmospheric in any weather conditions and we passed a lot of time wandering around in the echoing tunnels that run under the huge railway sidings, popping up like meerkats and exclaiming: 'Oh, so that's where that comes out,' etc. We even had the pleasure of listening to the Singing Railings that perform with certain wind directions.
Mark was due to play piano on the beach for the 'Fete de Village' on the first evening, but after a couple of hours of spotting rain it was decided that the event would be cancelled. The roadies packed everything away; our friend the organiser shrugged, said sanguin things like 'c'est comme ça', and invited everyone concerned up to his café to eat mussels and chips, after which I swam alone in the grey sea and marvelled at the village/landscape of yellow and pink buildings, vast arched brick walls that support the train sidings and towering craggy hills under glowering cloud.


The terrace of the re-conditioned La Vigie hotel

The next day we took the slow train to Gerona and spent a few happy hours ambling through the ancient streets, eating ice cream and trying to find a coat for Mark that would have sleeves long enough (impossible) in the rather cool clothes shops that make up quite a large part of this smart city.

                                                                     Gerona river front

My sort of restaurant where we had tea, mainly so I could snap the interior, including the wonderful old loos

Incredible, ancient general store complete with ceiling fans, a million types of paella rice, and two severe-looking old men who pointed at the No Photography sign when I gestured to my camera after we had bought afore-mentioned rice and Touron - Spanish nougat stuff

         Outside of lovely bistro/café

Buildings enjoying the sun at Gerona station

We returned to Cerbère, ate in our favourite restaurant and talked to a party of English cyclists about their tour of the Pyrenees which had taken four and a half days - end to end - pretty impressive; I can just about make it to the bank and back, taking in the small rising hill as one approaches the Hothouse, and, some of the team members were . . . let's say, people who obviously had a happy relationship with cake.
The next day the sky threatened thundery rain, so after a muscle-building walk up into the hills we packed up the unused electric piano and headed homewards, craning our necks to take in a last view of the lighthouse, bay and small clutch of seafront buildings that make up the last coastal town in France before the Spanish border.

                                 Cerbère palm tree with its own: 'I was born in 1974' notice

Monday 18 August 2014

Post for my brother

Half-brother, actually, but oddly I don't know if it would feel that much different if you were a whole brother . . . which you most certainly are in a different manner of speaking.
Anyway . . . so glad we found each other after all this time. How did that all slip away? no matter, the years have passed, just a few notes in a diary and the odd: 'I wonder where he is now'? sort of thought.
As an only child, to discover I'm not quite so 'only' is a wonderful thing. Come back soon, both of you, and we'll do some more catching up.

Monday 11 August 2014

Building No 42

Not strictly a building as such, more a box within a building, but rather than start another sub-blog called Loo No 1-2-3-4, etc, I'll put it into the buildings one.
So . . . 42, other than Dear Douglas Adam's reference to the meaning of life the universe and everything, our loo.
When I was about seven, it occurred to me that keeping a record of every loo that you sat (or stood in) would be quite interesting: the ultimate life-time conceptual art piece. But the idea became overtaken with a diary of tea shops instead (now lost, sadly). I suppose it's the fact that you inhabit these small spaces alone (unless one of those bizarre bench-with-holes type ones which exist on medieval bridges) with just your own bodily sounds and thoughts for company - excepting all the noisy airport/ restaurant/bus station loos one might sit in; but you are still in a cubical, on your own for a few minutes or seconds depending on the type of ablution you are undertaking . . .

Anyway . . .
This is our loo, snapped by a lovely Danish B and B'er and his fish-eye lens who stayed with us a couple of weeks ago. The small rectangular space is a shrine to 1975, the year our house was constructed, featuring: Star Trek, Mud, David Bowie, strange puddings from a book of that year, interior decor of the moment, YFO spottings, and of course, wonderful-terrible fashion from that era of orange and purple.

Friday 8 August 2014

Belligerent magpies and indifferent doctors

Hello cyberspace!! Hello people who might stumble across this page, and hello me - oh hello, you must be the one who loves writing stuff, but has been lurking in other rooms away from the computer, throwing the odd furtive glance onto the blue bar after tapping in something to do with face pain, vitamins and mineral baths (to quote Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot).
It's still here the pain (see last post or two, IF you want a wee insight into trigeminal neuralgia) but I think I'm working out when to do things - like this - and avoid a fine, sharp blade slicing into my upper gum line. SO, anyway, that's the last time I'm going to mention it.
The main soundtrack of the moment in the Hothouse, apart from me swearing a lot more than usual, has been the almost continual cackle of magpies. After a couple of days of the said noise I went out and sat still until I became part of the garden and thus un-worrying to the resident bird population. It transpired that the reason the sound was moving to different areas of our compound was the magpies tracking down the cat and mobbing him.
I watched, fascinated as he lay in the sun, tail twitching, as the two birds hopped up to him and pecked at his ears, their cries becoming more strident. Occasionally he would stretch out a lazy paw and whack one of them; they would retreat and then start again. Why? I wondered; what had our cat done to them? Ezra suggested a stolen egg or chick, but it's perhaps a little late in the season for that. Then I noticed one of the birds had no tail feathers. I assume Bronzino attempted to catch the bird, failed and was left with a mouthful of shiny feathers, for which he is being persecuted relentlessly.

I just checked - quite common apparently. Here's another mog (same colour as ours )being attacked (photo

If the doctor, or specialist I went to see yesterday could be portrayed as a bird, I would say perhaps a whispy-headed cross between a supremely snide vulture and a bored owl.
I had made the RDV two months ago and had waited with interest and slight angst for him to reveal great truths and wisdom about the thing I wasn't going to mention again . . .
A dear friend took me- thanks Chris- as my driving might have been somewhat more erratic that usual.
After climbing the spiral wooden staircase in a backstreet building I sat in a sweaty waiting room flicking randomly through estate agent brochures and hunting magazines, listening to the occasional laughter that issued through the walls of the doctor's office.
Good, I thought, he must be approachable and warm, someone who will listen intently, taking down all the little details I had amassed, before forming them into a comprehensive diagnosis (after a bit of a poke about, presumably). He would then shake my hand and wave a contented and relieved me off down the stairs to return to his office feeling, no doubt, satisfied and full of human spirit; reaffirmed in his role as an upstanding example of the medical profession.
Bonjour, madame . . . come in, sit here, no there. He turned drab, bespectacled eyes on me; eyes that had seen a million frightened patients before them, and were now probably looking forward to their retirement.
I scrabbled in my folder, through photos of my brain from various angles, through bits of paper to do with the social security system and found my LETTER. Mark and I had concocted this, thinking it would be helpful to him to understand a little of my history and relationship with the affliction, including a few homespun theories of why this had happened and what it might in fact be.
He leant back in his chair after snapping the paper from me, then read to himself, waggling his copious eyebrow hair and smirking at my ideas - (I'm not a doctor, but I think that the person who lives with the affliction should be given a chance to theorise - just a little).
He slapped the papers down and glowered at me.
'Non, Non et NON, madame. NONE of this is remotely possible - that bit is nowhere near that bit; there is no possible connection', etc, etc . . .
'But what about . . . '
Deep sigh: Comme j'ai dit . . . it's not possible - pas-du-tout!'
'But what about the fact that this all started when I got up suddenly after a nap and something went criiisszzzkkk in my neck?'
'I will now perform an investigation.'
He gestured to chair; I duly sat in it and he span me around facing him, disconcertingly close, with my knees wedged up agains his . . . well, bollocks, really.
'Open your mouth, Madame and say eeeeee,'
I did, and after producing a long thin piece of steel, proceeded to insert it into my throat without much warning. I retched like an inexperienced porn actress and he sighed again - 'bon, ça va pas, huh! we will pass through the nose, alors'.
After a spritz of anesthetic spray he nonchalantly threaded the long boingy steel tube down one of my nostrils while I thought helplessly of various torture scenes in sci-fi films where the baddie introduces a ravening brain-killing slug or similar nightmare into the captive's nose.
'Non, rien. Nothing, madame, not so much as a nose flea or a wayward brain cell.'
'But what about this sore lump here that I have had on and off for thirty years, eh?'
'Non, c'est rien du tout, you may have a little neuralgic plinky plonky obnidextrouas conflabnigation there, but it's nothing. REALLY!'
'But, what is that?'
He stood up abruptly and signaled that I should follow suit. 'See your doctor again, and if the condition persists you will be offered teyrhetsuidjnfbduuaaaaasge.'
'Does that have undesirable side-effects, Monsieur le Docteur?'
'Perhaps if you take it over a long period of time. That will be 45 euros, Madame.'
'But I have CMU.'
'No, you do not.'
Yes, I do, here is the piece of paper.'
'It is not the right piece of paper.'
'Yes it is - see there: CMU.'
'Ah, oui, humph.'
I collected together my scorned-upon documents, kneed him in the groin (shook his hand), and left.
'Goodbye, Madame,' he said, shutting the door with as much condescension as possible.
At home later, I found several useful bits of info that I am now putting into practice, and will work towards my own doctorate in the treatment of elderly depressed retired 'specialists' in the hope I shall one day welcome him into my own practice room and be thoroughly NICE to him. Ha.

Sunday 3 August 2014

Mini post

Still not able to use the computer (face pain - see last post) but in the manner of some 'intermission music' here is a rather lovely 'Abutalon' if that's the right spelling out on the terrace in our very abundant rain at the moment . . . sud de La France, Huh!