Archive for January, 2009


21,January, 2009

Obama Inauguration

My American friends have been sending me emails full of “A new day is dawning,” type prose.   Perhaps I have lived in cynical Britain for so long – or maybe too long – cause my initial reaction is that maybe everybody is getting just a wee bit too excited.  But then I thought, why not revel in the excitement?  There is nothing in this whole world more invigorating as the first month of a new love affair.  Those of us who have been around the block know that the joy and passion can’t last at those levels but we do it anyway and there is no denying it is wonderful.  In time, with luck, the exuberance of the beginnings morphs into comfortable, sustainable, living – without luck, it ends in tears. 

So go wild America, revel in your overexcitement, speak fluorescently about the promise of tomorrow – just remember that every mountain climber has to come down.  Whether it is a soft descent or a plummet is down to skill, preparation, teamwork but also – providence.

Good luck Mr President and good luck America.

Name That Bird

11,January, 2009

This guy perched on the back of our ship all afternoon as we sailed away from Aruba.  Anybody know what kind of bird it is.  Someone said it’s a Sea Hawk – yes? DSC01020 DSC01021 DSC01024-1


Happy Belated New Year

10,January, 2009

After a year of wearing a new pair of socks every day I was finally allowed, on January 1st, to don a pair of previously worn socks but I didn’t have any clean ones.  So I started 2009 with a fresh pair of socks but that’s where it ends.  I have yet to digest the worth of my year’s endeavours but when I do I’ll let you know if it’s something everyone should do.

First let me extend to all a belated Happy New Year and an apology for disappearing for most of December. The reason was that I was away on holiday in…. no wait let’s do a very easy “Where Am I?”


Any guesses?

For the first time ever, I took almost all of December off.  I swopped drunken Christmas party audiences, who, when they’re not heckling, are thinking,  I wish he would finish soon so I can grope Stefanie in accounting, (and to be honest, usually I’m thinking the same thing) for a trip down under to meet the Refol’s family.  It’s been a long time since I had to meet a girl’s parents and family and it was as stressful as I vaguely remember.  But after getting past her brother’s flatulence and her father’s opening conversational gambit, (“You know what’s wrong with America…?”)  I had a fab time down under.

I had delicious prawns and kangaroo on the barbie.  (I bought the meat and most of the Australians thanked me for the opportunity of trying kangaroo.)  I not only ate them, I actually saw a couple of the roos – DSC00817apparently they live on golf courses.

The highlight of the trip was a four day scuba diving boat trip on the Great Barrier Reef.  (Underwater I didn’t notice the brother’s flatulence.)

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And there were sunsets and scenery

DSC00834 12 Apostles

and of course socks.

I wore the Sock Shop Yule socks for Christmas even if it was hot –


And I spent New Year eve in a fabulous pair of florescent safety work socks I found in a construction supply shop outside of Melbourne.


Thanks to all down under for extending me such hospitality and thanks to all of you dear readers for putting up with me ranting about my hosiery for the last 12 months.

Now what do you think about me wearing a new pair of underwear every day this year?

Five Years Ago Today

7,January, 2009

Hello and Happy New Year everybody.  I know I have been awol. from my blog.  I have been on holiday and it seemed that my muse decided to stay at home.  But I am back and I promise soon to update you on the socks and the person that wears them but first I had to do this…

Five Years Ago Today

When Caroline and I were new together we took a plane to Rhodes.  From there we boarded an open-top ferry and sailed into a golden sunset as it was setting on the Aegean Sea.  Hours later, out of the pitch blackness of the open water the dazzlingly bright lights of the horseshoe harbour of Symi appeared as we rounded the island.  As we came closer we heard the sound of gunfire and then watched as, what looked like, 18th century Turkish soldiers fired muskets into a mob of undefended villagers.  But for cameras, the scaffolding donned with movie lights and the sight of a bikini-topped stagehand running around with a smoke machine – I would have had to come to the conclusion that our ferry trip had passed through a rip in time.

What a wonderful island Symi was.  The town was just that horseshoe harbour.  To reach any other part of the island one must go by sea and every morning there was a choice of a handful of boats going to as many beaches.  For little money a local fisherman would ferry us to a beach, leave us there then return to grill the fresh fish he had just caught for lunch.  It was paradise.

Back on the island the small film crew would work around us.  The film was called Pascali’s Island.  Their only security was the occasional camera assistant asking us to possibly move to another table.  Caroline and I spend a lovely breakfast watching Helen Mirren shooting a scene only 15 feet away.  We sipped our coffee as she walked calmly from a house opposite and then burst into tears.  She did it flawlessly – over and over again.  Giving me another lesson it the fact that acting is a lot harder then it looks.

And then there was the food.  There was only one real restaurant run by Stavros.  We fell in love with the place.  By our second meal we were treated like old friends – by the end of the week we felt like part of the family.  If for the rest of my life I could only eat Stavros’s kleftivco washed down with pine-sap infused retsina wine – I don’t think I would complain.

It was our first big holiday together, and although it was years before we would marry, we had made a commitment to each other – we were in love – it was a honeymoon.  It was damn near perfect.


About three months after Caroline died I took a gig on a cruise ship.  I was looking forward to it.  I needed to get away.  I needed to look at walls that weren’t painted by her.  I needed to scrape butter from a butter dish that was made in a kiln other than Caroline’s.  I needed to see tables and chairs that didn’t look empty because she wasn’t sitting in them.  I needed to go somewhere were not everything reminded me of what I had lost.

At first I ignored the innocuous print on the wall of the cruise ship cabin that was to be my home for the next ten days but as I unpacked my bag on the bed I was forced to look at it.  It was a watercolour of a typical Greek island taverna but the more I looked at it the more achingly familiar it became.  The only thing missing from it was Stavros outside with his arms outstretched ready to take Caroline’s head in his hands so as to kiss her on both cheeks.  I shook my head and told myself I was being silly but then I saw what was written in the corner of the print.  Along with the date the artist had written – “Symi.”  What were the flipping chances?


I now know that there is nowhere one can escape the pain of memories.  The mistake was looking for a “where” when the answer is – “when.”  Clichés are clichés for a reason and – Time heals all wounds – is high on the all time best cliché list for a reason.  Caroline died five years ago today.  The eye welling, throat tightening memories that used to commonly hit hard and fast are now so few and far between, that when they come, I no longer try to push them away – I hold on to them.  It seems wrong to say that I enjoy the experiences but that’s as close a word as I can get.

Yesterday I was in Bonaire.  It was here that I taught Caroline, who was always a bit afraid of the water, how to use a mask and a snorkel.  When she first saw the florescent fish darting in and out of the coral, she turned into a five year old and popped up screaming, “THE FISHYS!” without even taking the snorkel out of her mouth.

As I dropped my face into the warm Caribbean water today, that memory hit me hard.  I stopped swimming and I stood in the water holding on to it, as I looked out to sea.  It felt good to remember.  Even though the beach was crowded it was a private moment.  In a dive mask no one can see you crying.