Friday, September 30, 2005

The Time Flu

Right, I am starting to feel a bit better after this flu which knocked me out. It gave me the time though to dash out about 25 pages on our journey to Greece...long ago. I would like to post it in the blog here for all of you to enjoy (or not!) but it is too long - so I thought I could "serialise" it, say one part a week for the next 2 years or so. Have it as the post every Friday and leave it at the top for the week...while still posting the usual codswallop below. How does that sound??
Maybe while I am at it I should get myself RSSed...hmm...

Comments and suggestions on this vague rambling self-dialogue welcomed.
(Hmm..looks like the flu has addled my mind more than I thought)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Pame Stin Ellada

30 years ago at this exact moment I was sitting on a British Rail train on the way from Liverpool Lime Street to London Euston on the first leg of my journey to Ioannina in Greece to live for a year - this was the "year abroad" of my Ancient and Modern Greek university course. We (fellow student Deborah and I) had booked a coach! "European Express Coach Tours to Greece".

I am going to use the fact that I am off with the flu to have a bash at writing the stay tuned...

Monday, September 26, 2005

And What Do I get For My Troubles...?

...the Autumn flu. Buggeration!

I am supposed to be teaching English this week but the students would all be learning, "code in de dose" and so on...and I am supposed to be playing all over Munich...

Painful, chesty cough; runny, sniffy nose; throbbing, aching head...yak.

Why couldn't it have been the week of my dentist's appointment?

(Sympathy gratefully accepted and wallowed in)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Gob Dissatisfaction

October 6th is already beginning to loom big and threatening on the horizon of my future. For that is the day I have to return to the tooth doctor for the second phase in the reconstruction of my mouth. He must have been dancing a jig of glee since I first turned up in his surgery with my fallen-out gold filling and the gap in my front tooth (see: Dental Arithmetic) and when he looked into my oral cavity and started reeling off the long list of things which were rotten in the state of my gob.
I don't think there is anything I like about going to the dentist...I don't like sitting in waiting rooms where all the victims gather before the onslaught; I don't like this awful chair dentists have and that blinding light they shine down at's too reminiscent of James Bond about to be lasered in half the hard way from groin upwards. Then there is that brutal metal poking thing they jab in your gums, the cotton wool pads, the spit sucker-outer, that enormous fucking needle which injects you with the least effective anaesthetic known to mankind, the terrible whine of the drill and the smell of burning tooth - your tooth; the mumbled conversations you can only grunt along with, that glass of appalling mouth rinse and the frightened stream of saliva which just hangs there refusing to be spit out. After this there is that awful moment when your tongue finally gets to explore your teeth and finds them all wrong.
Above it all, hovering over the whole proceedings, there is the tense, raw fear which makes me stiffen my muscles and sweat embarrassingly profusely and which leaves me close to collapse when I finally try to get up from this butcher's slab.
I will then smile...or half of my mouth will, shake hands and thank this sadist for his work and quiescently go out into reception to make another appointment with terror.
And that is the tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth.

That Was Nice

That was a nice trip to the Oktoberfest. It was warm enough to sit outside the tents and quaff the wonderful beer and eat the pretzels, sausages and cheeses which go so well with it.
This year there is a trend for the visitors to wear the traditional clothes too. Lederhosen for the guys and dirndl for the girls. This is a great development, somehow I feel that in these days of political correctness and whatnot it is almost wrong to say this makes the girls so look so bloody pretty!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Maß Production

"Ein Maß, bitte"

Three beautiful words which I will be saying soon.

is "a", Maß is "litre of beer", bitte is "please" and I will be saying this magical formula at the below-mentioned Oktoberfest within the next few hours.
After teaching, translating and playing music all week I finally get to go to the Wies'n - which is what the locals call the Oktoberfest in Munich.

They have probably already sold 3 million Maß already as the first week draws to a close but they should have a couple left over for me...

Friday, September 16, 2005

That Little Beer Festival

Munich is getting ready for the Oktoberfest which begins tomorrow at 12.00 when the Lord Mayor, Christian Ude, will hammer a beer tap into a big wooden barrel of Oktoberfest beer and declare the traditional sentence, "o'zapft is!" - which means, loosely translated, "the beer is now flowing". My younger daughter will be there too - although she will have to get there by 8.00 at the latest to get a of the few times of the year she voluntarily gets up early.
Over 6 million litres of beer will flow down a similar number of million throats and subsequently out of as many bladders or even regurgatively, antiperistaltically back out of those very same throats over the next two weeks (and it will be impossible to get a parking space in a radius of five miles around the Theresienwiese where it all takes place, i.e. impossible for me cos I live within that radius).
It's a bit like the pyramids in a way...if you have never been and experienced it you can't imagine the size of the Oktoberfest.
You hear "beer-tent" and you think of something in a park or at a wedding, big enough say for 30 people. Well, these beer-tents really mean business...they seat about 5000 and there are about 10 0f them. Construction started months ago.
And when you walk in to a tent - if you have just arrived and are still sober - there is this atmosphere - a virtual wall of noise, music and singing, shouting and laughing mixed with the smoke, exhaled beer breath and damp sweat - you just do not believe that it could be possible even to want to stay inside, never mind enjoy it...but get a couple of Maß down your neck and suddenly everything looks beauoooootiful...mmmm.

Monday, September 12, 2005

By The Way...

...I mentioned reading about a Sotheby's auctioneer who sleeps in a ditch. This is a symptom of a trend called "downshifting". You can read the article here: Observer/Downshifting


We made it back...all the usual things happened; the neighbours in Liverpool deciding to come over for a chat as we were doing last minute panic-packing, the delays on the M6, traffic jams on the M25, the last minute dash into Dover to find the ferry was delayed half an hour due to a robbery in Dogger Bank (see Reginald Perrin for best British Rail excuses), the over-tired bawling babies on the boat, higgledy road signs on the French motorways, very brightly illuminated and empty roads in Belgium, bleary tired bloodshot eyes in Germany, huge pile of post (bills) on arrival in Munich at 5 a.m., sensuous shower, bed.
The only different features were firstly the fact that the English Channel seemed to extend from Birmingham to Belgium and into Germany; there was torrential...and I mean TORRENTIAL rain - a veritable wall of rain all the way along the motorways. I was expecting the road signs to be in fathoms.
The second difference was listening to the Ashes on BBC radio 5 which made the rain much easier to bear (if you don't know what the *%&# I am talking about, don't worry!).

Friday, September 09, 2005

"...On Our Way 'Ome...On Our Way 'Ome..."

Does anyone remember Robert the Robot in Fireball XL5 who used to come out with that phrase when they were on their way 'ome after another safely concluded mission? No?

What me? Rambling...?

Well, our Odyssey begins tomorrow...The Journey Back To Munich...featuring the perils of the English motorways...the hazards of remembering that in the rest of Europe they drive on the wrong side...the acute danger of forgetting that in England if someone flashes their headlights behind you it means, "please go out in front of me" but in Germany it means, "gett out of ze fackink vay! Und's war SCHNELL!!!"...the drooping eyelids, the stiff back, the aching accelerator foot.

On the way we pass by Birmingham, London, Dover, Calais, Lille, Mons, Liege, Cologne, Frankfurt, Nuremburg (hopefully in that order) without ever venturing inside those is a bit weird this motorway travel really. It's a bit like the sailors of old who travelled to all kinds of exotic countries around the world but only ever got as far as the first bar on the dock road.

Anyway, I will be back to normal service by Sunday I suppose...I might even report on the trip.

So until then keep off the roads...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Read it in the Sunday Papers...

One thing I really like about being in England is the Sunday Paper orgy on…well, on Sundays.

I find I am even willing to get up early to enjoy it to the full. I set the alarm, drag myself out of bed - after two hits on the snooze button, put the coffee on or the water for a pot of tea and nip up the road to the paper shop.

This maybe stems from my time as a teenager at home. My dad had a drinking pal who worked for the local newspaper in Liverpool and in exchange for regular free samples of my dad’s home-made beer this bloke would drop the Sunday papers through our letter box on the way home from his Saturday/Sunday night shift - and when I say the Sunday papers I mean ALL the Sunday papers… a back-breaking favour even in those days.

So we got the News of the World, People, Sunday Mirror, Sunday Express, Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph, Observer and for no apparent reason the Sunday Post with Scottish news. I still remember the almost never-ending sound of the papers plopping one by one onto the floor in the hall.

Anyway, what caught my eye this weekend were two stories:

First was the article about Britain’s humble crumble becoming a favourite in France. French chefs and in the meantime even froggy gourmets have discovered the fruit crumble. In the posh restaurants you can now get une crumble de rhubarbe although they have apparently not yet discovered custard.

This inspired us to have an apple crumble…sorry, une crumble d’apples on Sunday too - topped by something wonderful we found in Sainsbury’s, low-fat double cream…I mean, isn’t that wonderful..? Low-fat double cream ! You might as well try and sell low-fat fat.

It was trés wonderful though.

The other story which captured my imagination was about a young bloke who is an auctioneer at Sotheby’s. In accordance with a new trend to shed some of the materialistic panoply of modern life this guy has given up living in a house or a flat and instead spends his nights in a DITCH near Oxford! He still manages to arrive at work on time and impeccably dressed – though quite how he manages that remains a mystery – and says it is wonderful to be woken by the sound of the birds tweeting in the trees overhead.

Imagine meeting him at a disco and getting chatted up…and then being invited back to his place…any girl worth her salt would soon ditch him…

This, however, led me to consider the worst places I have ever slept...but this will have to wait for another post, another time...

Friday, September 02, 2005

Getting Aroond and Aboot

I have been oot and aboot the last week or are some of the places I visited for you to guess...

Answers in one of my next blogs.