Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One more day to go...

Well, there is one more day to go, I'm doing fuck all else, so I thought I might dribble on a bit more. It is a bit sobering to know that only two other people are reading this, but what is the cliche everyone trots out when talking of a huge task (in my case getting the whole world to read my pointless meanderings)? A journey of a 1,000 miles starts with just one step. Quite. And you wonder why I am employed in the cliche industry and have so far not seen any reason to attempt more honourable employment.
The hotel is fine for food and accommodation and spotlessly clean. I am, at heart, a simple chap, so that is basically all I want. What I haven't really liked is the lack of ineresting company. True I have made several slight acquaintances - the couple from Bradford on Avon, Patrick and Jean from Basingstoke, a Brummie couple (well, Black Country, actually) and the three from Canary Wharf for which read Isle of Dogs. But there is such a thing as conversation and of that there has been none. My book, which I have only one day left to finish the last 100 pages or I shall be obliged to steal it, has been a bonus, and in more ways than one. When, for about 14 months, I was a paid up member of the Conservative Party (only because I decided I didn´t want to be just another pub bore sounding off, should get politically active and felt the Tories were the party I least disagreed with), I never felt 'a Tory', mainly because I am not 'a Tory'. But it also has to be said that however well I got on with individual members, I was still regarded as something of a pinko by almost all of them. But here is not the place to outline my views, still confused as they are, but I shall briefly say that, generally, I cannot rid myself of the conviction that things are stacked against a lot of people and in favour of a few. The few would have us believe that it has to be that way in order for everyone to prosper. And persuading most countries that is the case has been their salvation. A useful, effective and tried and tested technique for keep the status quo - and keeping those who do live in misery down - is gradual reform, reform which blunts the main thrust of discontent but which otherwise does very little except stabilise the status quo. We all might like to think that merely because a lot more people can apparently afford a lot more things, everything is hunky-dory. Not quite. We might no longer have an out-and-out 'working class' but we most definitely have an underclass which we keep in line with copious welfare payments and a large amount of antidepressants. Let´s not kid ourselves. Ian Duncan Smith is a chap on the right lines on that score, despite being 'a Tory' for which no one will forgive him.
I shall do some more reading, with the proviso that I am not in the slightest bit interested in any kind of propaganda. I want intelligent analysis, and PHUS was that in spades.
I have been joking about how enormously fat a great many Brits are, but in truth they a great many are enormously fat. That is not an exaggeration, and I should like my two readers to accept that I, who invariably exaggerates for effect, am here being deadly serious. It is a problem. A further problem might be that not only have we Brits become flabby physically, but, I suspect, we are also flabby morally and intellectually. This is perhaps the gripe and criticism of sixtysomethings through the ages, but it is nonethe less valid for that. I like to think that, as a rule, I don't jump on the nearest reactionary bandwagon and slag of everything and everyone more than ten years younger than my age group. But it is a real cause for worry.
What I have enjoyed these past 13 days have been my walk to Eularia, my short walk alone up the mountainside and my trip today to the old town of Evissa. It is being alone I like. At first it is difficult, but as the days more on it becomes easier. The trouble with going on holiday is finding somewhere where one can be alone. My next holiday, or rather my holiday after that because I should dearly like to take Elsie and Wesley on holiday which means Celie and her continual griping must come, too, will be somewhere quite remote. Organising it will take a lot of reasearch but that is what I should like to do. In the meantime, I think I should make more use of the fact that I live in a very pleasant part of Britain where a little solitude is also available.
A week tomorrow I am due to go out for a drink with Denis, my brother-in-law, an Irishman from Cork who I like a lot. I know I sound crass talking about my wife, but believe me whatever my faults, a change in attitude, a more positive view of life, a more embracing view, less of a parochial view and stopping her eternal criticism of me would go a hell of a long way. Jesus, I get on with 99 percent of people I meet, so why can't I get on with her? Answers, please, on a postcard.
The trouble with entries such as this is that being a talker and finding it not too difficult to write, I can talk - write - the hind legs off a donkey (cliche alert). It is the activity of writing I enjoy and, if the truth be told, I am still half in love with now being able to touch-type which makes typing so much easier.
Getting my last drink of the evening - I am writing this in the bar which has free wireless internet access - I have just been - talking to Isabel, a 14-month-0ld girl, and she, and all the other children in the world make that world go round for me. Yet what do they get? In Britain they run the risk of being shortchange on education, if they live in a town or the wrong end of town they run the risk of knife crime, Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe. What has young Isabel to look forward to. I know this all sounds rather dramatic, but these problems do exist.
Shit, the drink is showing. Blathering on. Perhaps I have been working for the Daily Mail for too long. Anyway, I'd better stop as I am running out of laptop battery.

Anywheresville, the Med, Spain

Granted that these images could be, as I said the last time, Anywheresville, Med, you must take my word that they were all taken from the fortified old town of Evissa. The picture of the cannon should be enough to persuade you it wasn't Piccadilly (which, admittedly, is not on the Med, but you get my drift.
My trip was well worth it, although I got directions wrong and instead of taking the scenice rout up a gently set of steps, I walked up some road in the blazing sun (yes, it's back) and ended up at the back of the whole town. But eventually I found be way in.
Why the picture of the door, I hear you ask. Well, I don´t know. As with steps and stairs I find them somehow evocative, here - they did seem to be the entrance to someone's house - they seemed especially interesting. In fact, the piccy of set of steps here could well have been take in Cornwall. The long shot of the harbour was only taken and included here because I find the sail on the obviously very expensive yacht interesting. It looks medieval but it obviously is not. The fort is quite spectacular and very well preserved. It must have been pretty impregnable in its day (qv my joke about drones, napalm and other more humane means of slaughter. The old town proper is made up, as are most of these medieval town's, of narrow alleyways and tall houses. But the houses still seem to be inhabited. Then a little further down, you get the newer old town which is just as pleasant and picturesque. I should imagine this was where most people lived until the end of the nineteenth century.
Then there is the older new town, which is pretty much your standard Med town, laid out on a grid system and, to my eyes, indistinguishable from many others I've seen. Finally one the outskirts a huge amount of building is going on, many, rather smart, apartment blocks. And I don't mean holiday apartments, but homes for ordinary folk, and by 'rather smart' I don't mean that they strike me as necessarily where only rich or well-off folk could afford to buy. In fact lying as it does on the coast, the are is rather flat and featureless and if you had the dosh - if I had the dosh - it is not where I would choose to live. So there.
The others? Well, bog standard tourists shots. If you don't have access to a camera to take your own, try going to the local newsagents to buy a few postcards. Talking of shops, aspirin and paracetamol are not available as in Britain more or less everywhere, but you have to go to a chemist's. In Italy, when I lived there in 1972 the only place you could buy salt was at a tobacconists. Why I don´t know. Also, because the then lira was in a bit of a mess, there was no small change, so if you were owed a few pence, you always got it in the form of a handfull of sweets. I once tried paying with sweets, but they weren't having it.

So much for the weatherman

Well, they said it would be tipping down from Monday until tomorrow, and, indeed, it did on Monday. There were massive thunderstorms during the night, and I got up to find a rainstorm the likes of which Cornwall would have been proud. That went on until about 2pm when it slowly cleared, and I went for a walk up the hill on the path which runs next to the hotel. Got to the top, and apart from a slight, halfhearted attempt at drizzle for about two minutes that was the end of the rain for the day.
Yesterday, according to the forecast was again one to be doom and gloom, but, in fact, it was very pleasant indeed, just what one could expect from Ibiza in late September. The sun shone all day and there was barely a cloud in the sky. A strong breeze in the morning - late morning, I don´t get up until 10pm - learnt a little self-discipline and became a gentle breeze, so it was time to get out my swimming trunks and do a little more sunbathing, this time mainly giving my back the chance to get brown. Which I did. And only for a few hours, but again got burnt (I'm a sensitive soul). So although today is even nicer than yesterday, no more sunbathing until possibly tomorrow. (Technical note for those who can be bothered: my front, which was burnt the other day, is now in a state where extra sun makes it go brown rather than white. So there is hope for my back if tomorrow turns out to be just as nice.)
But today it is off to Ibiza Town, Evissa to the Spanish, to in investigate the old town and the cathedral which, I'm told, doubled as a fort centuries ago when the island was under attack and there were as yet no such weapons as napalm, drones, artillery shells and all the other humane wonders which make warfare and modern slaughter so much more acceptable these days, especially if the killing is on behalf of the democratic, freedom-loving West rather than those oiks who go around with tea-towels on their heads and for all I know eat their children.
On that note the book I'm reading, well-written, well-sourced, well-researched and as unhysterical a left-of-centre piece as is possible really has made me think again about quite a bit. Admittedly, the writer, Howard Zinn, is avowedly socialist and make no bones about it, it reading, as I have done. of, for example, account after account after account of vicious strikebreaking, of the vicious treatment of blacks after the abolition of slavery and the utterly cynical dealings of successive adminstrations in the interests of business and commerce, cannot but make one think. It goes a long way to explaining how 'extraordinary rendition', in that weasel phrase, was possible, regarded as legitimate and aroused hardly any pubilic concern in the US. But more of that later.

A couple of shorts films, one relevant, one hugely irrelevant to anything and anyone

To say that it has been an eventful few days would be nonsense. Very little has been happening. Trundled of to Santa Euralia on foot yesterday. Google reckons it is about 6.5km, but the way I went is, I think, a little shorter. Mosied around there a little and reflected that with that magic ingredient the sun Med resorts always fail to show themselves of to their best. Sitting drinking a beer on an overcast terrace, you might as well be in a pub in Ealing on a Bank Holiday.
Walked back again, so that must make it altogether a six-mile hike yesterday, for which exercise I thank the Lord, because I bloody needed it. Back in Cala Llonga, I was struck by how few people were out and about, even though the rain had stopped, so I had an idea, took the necessary pictures for that idea and put together this short video. Beneath it is another, shorter video which has been knocking about my laptop for a while and was desperate to come out and play with the big boys.
Here´s the first:

and the second:

Today it didn't just rain, it stormed with the kind of lashing rain which Cornwall would be proud of. It went on for several hours, but then died down and was sufficiently calm for me to go for a walk to the top of the hill at the foot of which this hotel sits. There is said to be an archaeological dig of a Roman villa up there. I spotted the arrow leading to it, but did really have the time to chase that up and I might do that tomorrow.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A few pix (tho' nothing special. Sorry)

After paying an arm an a leg to use the internet terminal at the hotel, and having to discover awkward ways to get piccies onto this blog (if you remember it involves the combined brain power of several Nobel Laureates and a memory stick, the memory stick being optional), I have discovered a pub which provides free wireless internet if you are a customer. That means you could surf all day for the price of a coke, except, of course, that you would be drinking rather more than one coke. The pic of beach umbrellas, taken just after a rainstorm, or just before, I really can't remember, could also be Anywheresville. The one I like, because that is the kind of thing I do like, is the one, white and light brown/pale savannah/Lord knows what that colour is called, of steps leading down from the hotel.
While writing this, I have also been uploading pix, and they are everywhere. For example, the one at the top wasn't supposed to be at the top, but experience (quite recent, actually as in a few minutes ago) has taught me that dicking about trying to put things right simply cocks it up even more. Here, should be the last two mentioned, except that where they end up on this page is any one's guess. Anyway, here are a few pix taken over these past few days. Three, taken on the ramble we went on yesterday, are pretty nondescript and could well have been taken in North Cornwall. But that isn't the point. The point is that they were taken in (on?) Ibiza and are thus 'authentic' and might thus qualify me for an Arts Council grant. And finally:

Friday, September 25, 2009

Message for Kate and Barry (both at the end) plus more guff

Had I only come for one week, I would have been flying home this morning. But wise beyond my years, there is another week to come. So first off, the weather. Not great, I'm afraid (as if either of you two care, but still). Today is as should be for a holiday in late September in the Med: cloudless sky, bright sun, tho' not too hot, a breeze and a moderate temperature. This is as the weather forecasters predicted. Tomorrow, Saturday, they promise us more of the same, tho' with more cloud. Now for the rub. From Sunday until next Thursday - according to the forecasters - it is thunder, lightening and rain all the way. The next promised bright day is Friday, which is, unfortunately the day I am due to fly back to Blighty. In view of all that, I did consider ending my stay here in glorious non-sunny Ibiza early and spent several minutes looking up easyjet, Ryanair and other flights departing for London (I have to pick up my car from Earls Court). There are, as you would imagine, several, but all cost at least 270 euro which, at the present rate of exchange, is about £269. And that, dear friends is simply not worth it. So I am here for the duration.
Today, however, and I have already told you about the improvement in the weather, has been, so far, quite enjoyable. A Thomson Gold operative called Margaret, does walks in the countryside, and there was one today, which I joined. It was good to get the exercise. We all - about ten of us - including a guy who warned us at the outset that he had bad hips but who completed the trek - set off at 9.35 and arrived back in Cala Llonga at 12.55. We walked, according to Patrick (another Patrick, not me) who had one of those gizmos which measure distance travelled, about five miles there and back. I enjoyed it a great deal. It was rather like being let out of one's cell. Can't quite tell you where we walked to (though here is a piccy) but the exercise was very welcome. On the way back fell into conversation with Jean, a one-time Liverpudlian and Patrick's wife - Jean - who was quite entertaining. We agreed, for example, that liver-lilied southerners do not have a sense of humour. She and her husband live in Basingstoke and are now both retired. He, surprisingly, is 80 on his next birthday. She is in her late 60s (I think). At the end of the walk, we stopped off for a drink in the bar owned and run by Margaret's son, and we three stayed for lunch. (All of us had a cheese and ham toastie, info for those of you - two - who might be interested in such trivialities.) Being the nosy sort and being the type of guy that can, apparently, get others talking: Patrick and Jean have a son, Guy, who is 42 and who two years ago left his wife of 12 years and who he had known for 20 years, for Becky. Becky was in an unhappy marriage, works with Guy and left her husband to set up home with Guy. Becky already had two children and she and Guy are expecting their first child together in November. He is much happier. Now divorced, he and his former wife, Pam, have no children, tho' Pam had a miscarriage a few years ago. She sound like a handful. The couple, Patrick and Jean, Guy's parents were not at all judgmental, but I gather she, an only child, was rather spoilt and personally unsettled. She now works in HR ('human resources' for those unacquainted with the jargon of modern business) and is four years older than Guy. Her father was very old when she was born, and died early in her life. Her mother is rather wealthy and spoilt Pam, the upshot being that Pam paid a great deal of attention to herself and her appearance, but gave rather less attention to her household. Anyhow, Guy, according to Patrick, his father, is now much happier. Jean, who despite everything apparently got on well with Pam, is not quite reconciled to the situation and worries, but also agrees that her son is happier. I pointed out that it is inevitably the children (in this case Becky's) who lose out in such situations, and Jean agreed, but it seems Becky is a good mother. Her ex-husband, tho' I can't say whether or not she had now divorced him, did not quite take his visitation duties as seriously as he might, so, for example, when he wife left him, he had to take in a lodger, and because the second bedroom was taken when he had the children to stay, his young son had to sleep on the sofa. Becky, understandably, took exception to this, and now will not let her children stay with their father. Right? Wrong? You decide.
All that over a pint of lager and a toastie and asking questions.
Having ruled out an early escape back home, because of cost, an early escape back home to spend the remainder of my holiday with my family, I must now plan what to do on the 'rainy days'. I think a little exploring of the island is due. Ibiza Town, Evissa, to the Spanish, is drug heaven to those who come for that kind of thing, but also has an ancient old town which is worth a visit. Then there is Santa Eularia (which is how it should be spelled, not as I have spelled it so far) which is said to be the culinary capital of Ibiza with several very good Spanish restaurants. I shall also go there, tho' the rain will put paid to my plans to walk there (it's only about five kilometres away a good distance to work up an appetite) and I shall go by bus. There is an hourly boat service, but if it is raining, that would seem to be a little pointless.
Note for techies: this is being written in the bar with a lager and my cigars at my side. The idea is to save it in some format on my memory stick which will allow me to cut and past it into an email.
Kate, congratulations. I know you are old enough to make your own wise decisions, so if you have settled on Dr Jim, you obviously have and please accept my very best wishes. Tell me when the wedding is due. I note you have also changed your address. Does that mean you have moved in? Bought a house together? Is your daughter still living in the old house? You might have read that I am reading Howard Zinn's A People's History Of The United States which, it has to be said, is an unashamedly socialist left-wing book, tho' none the worse for that. Mention is made several times of Pensacola where you used to live and where Gina still lives.
Barry, you might already have read my email wishing you a pleasant night out with at the OS AGM, so by the time you read this, you will have been, so I hope you enjoyed yourself. Bombarding you in this blog with my impressions, bilious views and other comments on vacationing in Ibiza with the dregs of Saga, I seem to have forgotten to ask you about your situation. Are you still looking for work or have you reconciled yourself to a life of retirement. Even for someone like me, a little bit Tory, a little bit lefty, it is so easy to preoccupy oneself with one's own life and, if the truth be told, to ignore the circumstance of others, and as I do know a bit about your situation - living in your mother's old flat which your brother wants to have sold, surviving a heart bypass and being ignored by all and sundry employers despite your very respectable professional background, it seems I have given rather too scant attention to your difficulties. Please accept my apologies. I remember, with a little shame your phone call to me when, you not knowing, I had gone to bed very early indeed, and my less than gracious response. Sorry for that, too.
Anyway, that is enough for now. Lager and my last cigar of this packet calls. The cigars, by the way, although being inexpensive, are very nice indeed, and with every drag is dedicated to the two of you.
Christ do I miss Elsie and Wesley.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It works. Isn´t technology the bees knees?

Dear soul, the wonders of technolgy. Here I am in the depths of the Balearics, yet given the wondrous achievements of Innocenzo Manzetti, Antonio Meucci, Johann Philipp Reis, Elisha Gray, Alexander Graham Bell, and Thomas Edison, and others too few to mention, and subsequent technological advances in the nature of what I understand is called by younger folk 'the internet', I can upload illustrations from my 'memory stick' and 'post' them here on my 'blog'. So who says all this nonsense is just for nerds. But enough bullshit. The photo below is just one I have on my memory stick, of my son Wesley when he was about two. Below that is one of Wes and his sister Elsie when he was a little older and she was about five. Christ I miss them.

I've done it again. I thought I was getting just ten minutes of internet time, but I seem have bought 30, which is a pain as I hate to waste them and I shall have to blather on here for another 25 till they are all gone or do something else, such as look up crap on Wikipedia I am not in the slightest interested. One thing I can to, however, is post a picture of my esteemed editor, Mr Paul Dacre, which years ago I go out of the picture library so that I have it made into mouse mats (remember those?) to give as joky presents to my boss and deputy boss (well, you got to get ahead somehow. Don´t be so sniffy). Here it is:

No, it's not. For some reason it won´t upload. Perhaps Mr Dacre's reputation has preceded him here to Ibiza.

Still to come: as many photos of tubs of lard as I can get on my memory stick. Thinking about it, I might even be able to upload video. Lord isn´t technology exciting!

On a far more sombre note, Piers Merchant, the Tory MP who cocked up his career by getting involved in a sex scandal, has died of cancer. Just read it on the Mail's website. I knew Piers rather well when I was a reporter on The Journal in Newcastle. He was the chief reporter, and and we used to sit next to each other for about a year. He was a bit of a nutter even then, but we got on and he and his wife were good company. I remember singing (for some reason) Jerusalem outside a nightclub one night with them tho´ I barely know the words. Poor chap. His wife, Helen, was extremely nice and stood by him when he made a fool of himself with some bimbo or other. God bless his soul.

Damn, another 17 minutes to go. What the hell is there to look up and waste all that time so that I am not actually giving money away, which of course I am.
(Another tub of lard - actually, a tubbess of lard - has walked past. I promise you, I shall post some piccies. Am I being cruel? I bloody well hope so. Is this what we fought the war for? No dammit, it isn´t. We fought the war so that every household in the land would have the choice of at least 40 televisions channels.

PS . . .

I was hoping to upload a few photos, but my plan to USB my iBook to this computer and use it as a remote hard drive from which to upload the pics won´t work as the computer is locked and I can't get at them.
Brainwave! Yes, I might be able to. I have a USB memory stick with me. Perhaps this compute will accpet that. So look forward to some really disgusting piccies of Johnny Bull as a tub of lard.

PPS Apparently the Spanish of 'hello' is 'ola'. Now, I never knew that before I arrived here, so why should you?

Grrr.... (rant alert)

Make way for an extended rant, and if you have just eaten or are otherwise feeling sensitive, aviod.
I can´t seem to shake of this bloody sleepiness/tiredness/weariness, which I am assuming and hoping is down to those bloody statins and Ramipril. Felt a little livelier yesterday, watched Man Utd v Wolves last night, got in after midnight, slept like a log, had breakfast, and still felt sodding sleepy. It´s not the exhaustion I felt before I had my heart attack, more terminal sleepiness. I just can´t wake up. However, it has only been two days since I stopped taking those fucking tablets, so perhaps I should give it more time.
Overall, feel in a bad mood, grumpy, low, feeling sorry for myself and about as relaxed after seven days of doing less than fuck all 24 hours a day as a test pilot on speed. Thank God, is all I can say, that I have another week to go. I always say that you need the first week to unwind and the second to enjoy, but as I say unwound I don´t seem to be. Maybe if I met someone who knew me, perhaps they might say: 'Goodness, Patrick, you are relaxed. Where are your trousers?'
Oh, I don´t know. Could do with conversation, but I don´t want one of those which consists of wall-to-wall platitudes and banal observations. And that would just be all I had to contribute to the disourse. And I reckon - possible unfairly - that that is about all I might expect. Mind, I haven´t yet come across any yobs yelling 'Oi, Manuel' to attract the waiter, but I have witnessed, only yesterday, a tearful farewell by one women who insisted the Spanish guy behind the bar who had been serving here for the past seven days was 'lovely, really, really, lovely and we'll see you again next year'. Like hell she will, it will be off to Apartamentos Naxos in Crete or somewhere where she will say the same to Stavros and quite possibly even fall in love.
The weather has, however, improved and although it is not exactly heavy sun, it was pleasant and there was a nice breeze. Spent the large part of the day lying on a lounger next to the sea reading, dozing, then dozing and reading, but around half three, I suddenly had a yen for a cake and coffee. Wandered off into the resort and found both, but yet again was horrified at how so many Brits are so obese. This isn´t just me being nasty. These people, many of them, are seriously fat, and to compound it, the guys wander round in just a pair of shorts, tits hanging down to their bellies and bellies hanging over their belts down to their ankles. Ugh! Walking tubs of lard. And everyone these days seems to have a tattoo. I spotted one, actually rather pretty, twentysomething on the beach with a huge, intricate tattoo over her arse i.e. in the small of her back which spelled out 'Robert'. Talk about a hostage to fortune. She´s going to regret that when, inevitably, she goes for a divorce. ('On the grounds of mental cruelty, m'lud. He looks like a tub of lard and expects me to be happy with it.')
In the next seven days, I think I might explore the island little. Asked how much it was to hire a scooter and was told 29 euro, plus it has to be back by 7.30. Well, that´s a little pointless, so I shall make do with busses and see what I can see.
Tonight? Well, I have been sticking to Spanish lager (rather nice) and wine with supper, so I might bugger off, have a shave and a shower and then treat myself to the first gin of this holiday. Trouble is, I tend to overdo the gin and wake up feeling less than bright and breezy as I a few times at the beginning of August when Gerald, Wei Hsui and Ann came over for the blessing at St Breward church. I do like my gin. Goes down a treat.
Have I cheered up these past few minutes letting off steam? Well, it feels like it a bit. Maybe a bit of a rant does you good. Tomorrow some women who has lived on Ibiza for the past 25 years is leading a walk into the hills with the promise of tapas in a village and, I should imagine, a glass of wine. Oh, at least - and for this I thank the Lord - there has been none of that 'traditional dancing lark' for the delectation of Brit tourists but bored young fold in costumes. But there has been some excruciatingly bad cabaret acts. I sat in on five minutes of one and heard the same old tired jokes and a song by some biddy of 55 dressed like a 25-year-old. The guy was her guitarist, tubby and balding. Their publicity shots must have been taken in 1985.
Last night, as I was coming in, I heard a cellist and a violinist murdering a couple of show tunes. Sadly, so far no magician.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

FAO Barry: Jewish slang

Hi, got to be fast because I have only three minutes left on this coin. Look up, or you might already know about polari, gay/Jewish slang. Example: NAFF - not available for fucking, supposedly what gays called straights at times. Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick built an act in Round The Horne etc on polari. Also a lot of non-gay slang comes from Manchester merchants. It became very trendy in the Sixties to become pseudo working class and use a lot of that slang.

It must still be raining because . . .

Sad to relate, but I was shortchanged about 30 minutes ago by the chap behind the bar. I bought a 1.90 euro small glass of beer and tendered a 20 euro note. My change amounted to 13.10 euro. Hmm. Walking back to my table I realised as much, but being an embarrassable Brit, I didn´t want to count my change there and then, so I marched off to the loo where there I counted it. I know I was shortchanged because I also had 2.50 euro in my pocket, but didn´t pay for my beer with that because I wanted to keep the small change to be able to access the internet to write this blog and keep you my readers (only bloody two of them so far, but fingers crossed) informed of the minutae of my sojourn here in Ibiza.
And what does recounting all that mean? Are Spanish barmen thieving scum who wouldn´t know goodwill and honesty if it bit them on the bum? I´ll have none of that. My tale and the time and good money I have spent posting it here on this blog mean just one thing: it´s still fuckin raining.
On a lighter note, my evening is planned. It is now 17.27 (5.25pm in old money) and at six I shall go upstairs, having finished one last small beer, have a shower, come downstairs again, have supper (no wine this time as I shall be drinking beer later on) then amble down to Cala Llonga town to a bar with Sky to watch Manchester United beat the living shit out of Wolverhampton Wanderers. And if, of course, I meet those two women and if, of course, the blonde one invites me back to her place for a minute or two of unbridled sexual passion, so much the better.
All of which should alert the astute peruser of this blog (Mail readers Steve and Doreen Smugg of Wincanton, Somerset) that when next I look out of the window at the local landscape, I shall establish beyond any doubt that it is still fucking raining.
God bless you both (the religous sentiment courtesy of two and a half pints if Ibiza´s finest lager. I´m not a big drinker, though in all matters bullshit I can match the best).

PS Barry, if you like history and reading, which I rather think you might, do get yourself a copy of Zinn´s A People´s History Of The United States. It is very well, written, very well sourced, very well argued and is, I should think, not particularly popular among American capitalists who will undoubtedly wrote it off as working-class, Jewish polemic. If so, have none of it. It is very, very good.

Feeling a tad guilty

The sun has made its first appearance today, and I have spent the past hour chilling out on a sunbed next to the sea doing fuck all. And my more relaxed state got me thinking about my possibly uncharitable description of me fellow hotel guests. So, might I point out that in a previous entry of wrote - and consciously wrote - 'scrum' not 'scum'. The 'r' is all-important here, and means that I can look forward to merely being regarded in some quarters as a prat rather than burning in socialist hell.
I have resolved to smoke another cigar. Yes, I know I shoulnd´t and that a blocked nose and furry mouth will result, not to say what damage I might be doing to my heart (although Barry insists that nicotine is said to prevent heart attacks and claims, rather more dubiously that the health service is sponsored by Philip Morris) but, damn it, why not?
NB Almost all the others here, apart from being retired folk, seem to be from the North. Why? I should add that I am better inclined to Northern folk because they have a sense of humour, unlike the idiots in the 'Home Counties'.

. . . remorselessly cheerful

Must be getting old. Although I DO like optimism and find pessimist piss me off, I also get a little irritated by remorseless British cheerfulness. Got them through the Blitz? Well, all I can say is more's the pity. Don't get me wrong, please, and don´t think me snobbish. I don´t look down on anyone for any reason except their appalling behaviour towards other (and I wish more Brits would follow suit on that score). What´s so bad about condemning vandalism, a baffling, but widespread British practice? But one of our freedoms is to choose what company we keep. That is surely not snobbish?

Message to Kate

Kate, less hope of a shag than you might think, and I must admit I am rather whistling in the wind. It was raining yesterday so texted, hopefully, suggesting a drink (I was on the ball enough to get a mobile - cell - number) but have had nothing in reply. By the way, can´t seem to find your email address. I was going to email you to congratulate you on your engagement. Could you send it to me, assuming you still have mine?
Who is the guy? I was following the progress of your dates on a new blog you started, but that has since disappeared. Get in touch.

Well, they said 'till Thursday'

Wednesday, and a new day starts with an overcast sky, the promise of more rain and that remorseless cheerfulness and resignation which the Brits have sickeningly made their own. All this in the 'Sunshine Capital Of The Universe' as Ibiza rather boastfully calls itself in advertising material circulating in Greenland and all points north. What to do? Well, I could do what I did yesterday and carry on reading the very excellent and revealing (to this reader, at least) PHUS. Or I could catch a bus either to St Eulalia or Evissa (better known to British druggies as Ibiza Town.) Evissa is said to have an old town which is one of the original island forts and is very similar to Dubrovnik. St Eulalia is closer, just about three miles, and I could do with the excercise. I bought an umbrella yesterday, so that should not be a problem.
I word about my fellow guests. It occurred to me yesterday that being among them is rather like vacationing in Asda. That might sound unkind. It is not intended to be. For balance, I should also say that I would also be a little uncomfortable surrounded by Times, Guardian, Telegraph and Independent folk, many of home have unacceptable pretensions. The only papers available here are the Mail, the Express, the Sun, the Star and the Mirror. But to put this hotel in perspective, the food, although of necessity partly geared towards the unadventurous British palate - almost all guests settle for meat and two veg - is otherwise rather good. Last night, as one of many dishes, gravilax and squid were available, neither usually to be found on your average British supper table. There is also a wide selection of local cheeses, cold meat, very nice salads and bread. These are, perhaps, regarded more as hors d'oeuvres but, there is sufficient variety for one to be able to make a good meal of it. The house wines are better than any of the shite served as house wines in Blighty, so eating is better than this scrum is entitled to expect. Not that most of them would know the difference were they served up horse shit and chips.
Calm down, Patrick. Is it the rain? Am I despite my protestations, a little miffed that I might as well be sitting in Fore St., Bodmin? Hmm.
Did a bit of googling yesterday and found that Lipitor, the statin I have been taking, can also be responsible for tiredness and muscle ache. So I have decided to stop taking it. I was on 40mg which is apparently a high dose, 10/20mg being more usual. Why the bloody hell should I still be on 40mg? I am one of those who thinks the Western world is drugged up to the eyeballs, and possibly for no better reason than it spells great profits for the pharma industry. I know that sound like standard paranoia, but I was shocked, while researching Lipitor dosages, to discover that 'standard does for 10 to 17-years-olds . . .' What! Dear soul, a healthy diet is what they need, not to be junked up with pharmaceuticals. Why on earth are we prescribing Lipitor to or young people?
I have also stopped the Ramipril, and will give not taking either a week. If this bloody tiredness disappears, I shall re-introduce the Ramipril, no hard-ons or not, because they lower blood pressure and my plan is, if possible, to stay alive at least until Elsie and Wesley are leading independent lives. Wes is now 10, so that should be for anther 15/16 years and I shall be 76/77 (undoubtedly with reactionary opinions to suit). And speaking of Elsie and Wesley, I miss them like fuck. If only Celie weren´t such a pain, we could all come on holiday together. I know that makes me sound selfish and self-centred, but . . . Wesley starred in part of my dream yesterday. He was the age he is now, and we were in some kind of china shop with loads of expensive big and small porcelain, glass and copper vases and other ornaments. Wes being Wes, he was fooling around and knocked over a three-foot china vase. I caught it, so no damage was done. Then he almost knocked over three copper vases, and in stopping them fall over, I knocked over a glass vase which smashed to smithereens. It was on sale for $87 (no pound sign on this keyboard, though it might well have been in dollars), but I was told I would only have to pay $27. In the event, with VAT, I had to pay $35. Then we went off looking for the car. I had previously sent Wes off to park it, and he couldn´t remember where. So there we were trailing around the streets looking for a car I knew I wouldn´t recognise because I couldn´t remember what it looked like. Wes was cheerful about it all and didn´t seem to care, and but I was getting more and more alarmed because if I tried to get official help with trying to find the car, I would have to admit that I had let my 10-year-old son drive off to park it. Catch 22.
Later, because of all that (and we never actually found the car) I was VERY late for work, about five hourse, and had Wes in two because there was no time to take him home. Being late didn´t help my peace of mind and, bizarrely, our desks (although this was not my usual office) had been reduced to the size of trays. Odd dream.
But I´ll say it again: I miss Elsie and Wesley. I really don´t like being away from them.
Just turned 11am, and I must soon decide whether to walk to St Eulalia or stay here and make further progress with PHUS.
Not much luck with the shagging project. Texted yesterday suggesting we three meet up for a drink, but there has been no reply. Oh, well.
Decision time. I need some fresh air, I have an umbrella, so I think I shall bugger off to St Eulalia.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rain, rain, go to Spain - well, it did and is here to stay until Thursday

Breezy, mild and slightly overcast yesterday with the possibility of rain. After carrying on with the very excellent A People´s History Of The United States (from now on PHUS), I took myself off to the centre of Cala Llonga to find The Tobacconist to buy some cigars and then to find a bar with Sky to watch Man U v Man City. (Man U did the business, winning 3-2 in the 97th minute. The extra time was odd because there were no hold-ups to speak of. In a minute I shall log into the papers to see what the pundits make of the matter.)
It was spitting rain when I left the hotel and I bought an umbrella as soon as I hit town. Ten minutes later is was raining properly, five minutes after that is was simply tipping down and did so for what seemed like 30 more minutes. It did stop, but we had a hell of a thunder storm in the night and Cala Llonga this morning now looks more like Dudley, West Midlands, than sunny Ibiza. But who cares? I have Howard Zinn to keep me company and absolutely fuck all obligations, duties, tasks or deadlines. Not feeling particularly relaxed yet and I hopelessly tires all the time, but . . .
At the bar met Jo (36) and Claire (35). It might well be Clare or, this being a modern age, Klare - these things are now fully permissible and anyone who objects to the progress and the personal right of any and everyone to spell their name exactly as they damn please should be prosecuted in Her Majesty´s courts and thoroughly ashamed of themselves to boot.
Jo was the football enthusiast and sat and chatted to them for several hours. She is months out of an eight-year relationship, is originally from Wolverhampton, but now live in Leeds and works as a recruitment officer. Clare (Klare? See above) works in online advertising and is originally from Leeds but lives in Birmingham. They were at college together. They asked my why I was on holiday on my own, and I told them the truth: to get a bit of peace and quiet and away from my wife. My candour, I hope, achieved two things: 1) it is the truth and so the explanation didn´t involve lots of euphemistic guff, and 2) I Am Available should Jo feel in the mood for a holiday fling and be able to see past the rather ragged looks, receding hairline and unforunately spreading figure of this virtual 60-year-old. I go to the gym every day at work, but all that achieves is that I don´t look even worse. To be fair, I don´t look a day older the 59, but no younger either. For the record, Clare is not my type.
Found my cigars and bought five good ones for 6.25 euros. Had one, but, heart attack and all that, woke up during the night and felt guilty. My nose is blocked, my breathing seems more laboured, and my heart rate seems higher. This might all just be my imagination, but all other things being equal, I now rather wish I hadn´t given into the temptation to smoke a cigar. I did, however, enjoy it a lot.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

PS to the guff about my hotel in Ibiza

On reflection (about three minutes worth) it strikes me that my readers, both of you, might conclude that I am being a little snobbish about my fellow guests. Well, I don´t mean to be. It´s just that we are drawn to the company of those who think as we do etc, and not so drawn to the company of those who don´t. To put it in perspective I am even less drawn to the company of that old snobbish biddy who edits the Salisbury Review.
The other important thing to emphasise is that I am SO in need of a break that I am consciously keeping myself to myself these first few days. I have also decided to take two weeks off because experience has taught me that one week is simply not enough, that by the end of the first week you are slowly beginning to unwind and need a second week to relax properly. Also the chance to relax properly was the main reason why I haven´t gone on holiday with my wife. She is a woman who could start an argument in an empty house, and I simply don´t have the stomach for that. I would love to go on holiday with my two children but that would not be possible without my wife. But I am planning for the four of us to go away next April during the Easter holiday.

A PS to an earlier entry

The magazine republishing Michael Wharton´s autobiography, or at least the first volume, is not called Slightly Soiled but Slightly Foxed.

At that do I said hello to Susan, Michael´s widow, and was then introduced to some old bint who edits the Salisbury Review. She asked me where I lived. I said North Cornwall. Oh, she said, did I know Lady Penny Wilson (or something like that). No, I said, I didn´t. Her wish for any further conversation with me died there and then. I was, she decided instantly, of no consquence whatsoever. Stupid cow. But there are, unfortunately, many like her in Britain.

Ibiza - an early account

It might only be my third day (and my second full day), but an overcast sky, no sun and a wind which promises a storm of some kind later today persuade me to make an entry here. Also I now know that although only one follower is officially registered, I do, in fact, have two (take a bow, Barry, and thanks for the email and the link to Mark Sparrow’s blog).

After drinking rather too much at the Michael Wharton book launch, I reined myself in for the reception which followed Keith Waterhouse’s funeral and was rather modest in my intake, which meant I was able to have a good night’s rest before getting up at 3.10 on Friday morning, to be driven to Victoria station by my very obliging brother (hardly any public transport at that time of the morning and I’m buggered if I’m going to pay £12 for a taxi ride of less than two miles.

Got to Gatwick for 4.45, just in time to witness the utter dismay of an American family who arrived at the airport, only to realise they should have gone to Heathrow instead. The plane left on time at 6.25 and just over two hours later we touched down in Ibiza, two hours being the ideal flying time and a damn sight better than the 13 hours I spent flying to Hong Kong several years ago.

The one principle I have on this holiday is: don’t rush anything and make no plans whatsoever. Yesterday, my first full day here was spent lying next to the pool reading a very good book I found in the hotel ‘library’. It is A People’s History Of The United States by Howard Zinn. The rest of the books, about 70 of them, are garbage, or at least nothing which would interest me: Danielle Steele, Maeve Binchy, Maeve Steele and Danielle Binchy. How on earth Zinn’s substantial work found its way here I really do not know, but I'm glad it did.

I also stripped to my swimming trunks for a spot of sunbathing, reminding myself not to overdo it, and, of course as these things always go, overdid it. The sun anywhere south of Bournemouth is very deceptive, so I am now burnt all over my torso and from halfway down my thighs to my feet, although only on the front as I didn’t turn over. So today’s overcast conditions are rather welcome. Went to bed early at about 8pm, fell asleep, only to be woken by a call on my mobile from my brother asking ‘what I was doing now’. Sleeping, I told him, and then couldn’t get off for another four hours.
Today I have spent the past few hours reading outside, but it is getting extraordinarily windy. This afternoon it is into Cala Llonga to find one of the bars which show Sky Sports to watch Manchester United beat the crap out of Manchester City.
The hotel is very nice and although the food is inclined to satisfy the unadventurous tastes of the mainly lower middle-class guests (that’s gratuitously snobbish. So what are you? Ed) there are sufficient Spanish and other Continental dishes to satisfy me. The average age is 60, so I fit in well, although I am having trouble reconciling myself to no longer even being middle-aged.

Generally, the ethos is determinedly the 2000s version of Kiss Me Quick as far as the Brits are concerned. There has so far been no nobbly knees contest, but yesterday there was a ‘quiz by the pool’ which I didn’t take part in because, as I suspected, the questions were all about TV programmes and characters from the various soaps, of which I, to me eternal credit, know absolutely nothing.

But it is just what I was looking for: somewhere, very clean, quiet with mild weather, where I can bloody chill out, sleep and read. I do not yet feel relaxed - I wouldn’t be blogging her if I were in that state - but it is early days yet.

Monday, September 14, 2009

PS Michael Wharton

For the record, I knew Michael in the last 20-odd years of his life (he was a friend of my father's) and he was most definitely not a racist or anti-semitic. What he most definitely was was a guy who disliked cant and bullshit and that, unsurprisingly, did not win him many friends. It is often fashionable to describe him as 'right-wing', but that, too, is rather far off the mark.

Oddly enough, his life-long dislike and suspicion of television now makes rather more sense to rather more people than it ever did before. He was extremely well-read and very good company. It is true that many readers of his column were hang 'em and flog 'em types, but Michael didn't share their views. He once told me that he was forever getting letters from readers who had obviously read far more into his writings than was there and thanking him for expressing a view he had not once expressed.

His was distinguished in his intellectual rigour, which was the basis of his dislike of cant and hypocrisy. He dislike modish, fashionable thought which had no basis and value except that it was what smart people were thinking this year. His dislike of phrases such as 'the international community', which he thought was meaningless, partly came down to a man growing older and being less able and prepared to accept change (from which I, who is 60 in November, am also increasingly suffering). But as far as I am concerned he was - is - spot on in highlighting the double-think of much modern life.

I am expanding this entry because I feel what I wrote above did not really do Michael justice. And I must also record that his column was always very, very funny. Ironically, in person, although he could be funny, he was, when I knew him in the last 20 years of his life, more reserved and forthcoming, and would add a comment only when he felt a comment was necessary. In this, which is a characteristic I value and enjoy in others, he was very different from many hacks who insist, at your peril, of being the life and soul of the party. Another phrase for such types is 'pain in the arse'.

Coming up: TWO weeks in Ibiza PLUS a piss-up and a funeral (and then another piss-up

Well, it's almost here: my holiday.

This Friday, after today's double shift, tomorrow's double shift and Wednesday's single shift, I fly out from Gatwick bound for Ibiza. And no, not one of the fleshpots of San Antonio and Ibiza Town where young folk blast their brains out on ecastasy, coke and booze, but the rather more genteel Cala Llonga in a hotel which apparently doesn't accept any guest under the age of 80 and where I have been accepted (not being under 80) on the strict understanding that I will keep very quiet indeed. Two weeks of what I hope is quiet bliss in the sunshine. My one problem is whether, after my heart attack of three years ago I can allow myself a cigar of five. Remains to be seen.

The run-up to my departure is also quite interesting. On Wednesday night it is off to the Savile Club in Mayfair where a magazine called Slightly Soiled is holding a reception to celebrate re-publishing Michael 'Peter Simple' Wharton ( two volumes of autobiography. Ends at 8.30 so I won't be a piss-up, but it should nevertheless be interesting. Then at noon the following day it is off to Mortlake Crematorium for Keith Waterhouse's ( funeral to which I have been invited.

The only way I can explain that is that of all the subs her at the features desk of the Mail, I was the only one who regularly used to liaise with Stella, his ex-wife, who has been caring for him in the last four years of his life.

After the funeral there is a wake at 'The White Hart' (don't know which one of the several thousand White Harts there are in Britain - one in London, probably) at which several of the great and good will be lifting their arms and, according to John Mcentee, several more of the great and good, folk with whom Keith or Stella didn't get on, will not be lifting their arms. If there is anything to report, I shall duly record it here, but I think being an unknown among all those who get bylines (we subs don't) I shall keep a low profile.

As for the holiday, roll it on! I stress that I shall be off for two weeks because these past 15 years I have only taken a week off abroad and it is never enough. Just when you are beginning to relax, it's time to come home.