Mai time had come

mai_tai

I am someone who, when ‘inspired’ to do something, will stop at nothing to achieve my desire. Not just ‘oh I think I’ll do that’, but something clicks within me. Like many years ago, given the challenge to fix an ‘Anniversary’ clock. Someone put this thing down in front of me, said “I’ll bet you can’t get this going again” and left me with it. Of course, such a challenge to me is more like a red rag to a bull. Let me explain to those of you not in the know, just what an ‘Anniversary’ clock is. You may have seen one. It has a circular wooden base, with a clock movement atop it, below the clock part, at the top of four metal posts, is an arrangement of four (for want of a better word) balls. These spin around, like a circular pendulum, making the clock tick as they stop one clockwise revolution and tock as it completes an anti-clockwise one and so on. All of this is covered by a glass or plastic dome. The anniversary part, is due to the fact that it should run for about 400 days or thereabouts, so if you get it as a gift, you then wind it up on the anniversary of receiving it. I’m not talking about a silly, battery operated one either. No, this was as mechanical as it gets, the four-balled pendulum dangles by a thin strip of metal, like a kind of spring that gets wound up and unwound on each alternating spin and it was this that was the main problem of this clock. My instructor informed us that the best way to see why a clock DOESN’T run, is to watch a working one and try to discover exactly why it DOES run. So I sat there for a few hours watching a good one to see what made it tick (and tock). I’m digressing, so will cut this short. Basically, although it took me about a week of tweaking and watching, (while doing other things as well of course), I completed the challenge and fixed the clock!

The main point of this post, which has taken me ages to reach is that for years, I have wanted to try a (rum-based) ‘Mai Tai’ cocktail. I used to drink a lot of rum when younger and believe that I may have, single-handedly, helped keep the Barbados government budget afloat with my rum-drinking efforts! However, having ‘asked around’, it seems that no-one local, or within over a thousand miles even, makes or sells such a concoction! I kept asking and even printed out the ingredients and handed them to various barmen in pubs, inns and hotels all around, all to no effect. I finally accepted that no such cocktail would be imbibed by me, unless I made one myself. I gave myself a challenge to drink one on Christmas Eve 2015 at the latest. So armed with the internet, (thankfully, as I could NEVER have done it without), I set about researching the history and ingredients of the previously unsourceable Mai Tai. It would have been much easier if I had simply had the funds to take a holiday in Hawaii, the Caribbean or even just California and other such places that DO make and sell such a thing. But it wasn’t to be and so, burning the midnight oil and poring over web-based documents, like Gandalf, trying to research the history of THAT ring. During my search, I discovered interesting characters such as “Don the beachcomber” and “Trader Vic” and their infamous, colourful histories, while trying to find the original and best version of my much sought after libation. Not happy with just any old Mai Tai was I, oh no, I had to find the actual, proper one as, apparently, nearly every bartender and ‘mixologist’ makes a different version. So I eventually found the real one and then spent a few more weeks trying to find the ingredients locally(!) Not an easy prospect at all! I bought some ‘bits’ in the shops, had to find others on the internet and even had to resort making my own in the kitchen! Did I succeed? Of course I did, but the first version, created just the day before Christmas eve, was not very good, although I did it! But have made a much better and more enjoyable one since, but oh my heavens is it strong!?  (I had a different cocktail abroad last year, an ‘Aviation’, only it tasted very good, but very weak as, obviously, the bar wanted to make it with hardly any alcohol, in order to make a massive profit out of me)!!! So now I shall probably have to ‘water down’ my own Mai Tai, in order to save me from being blown away by booze, every time I fancy a cocktail. I’m not much of a drinker anymore and thank goodness for that! I hope this hasn’t left you all shaken? (Or stirred, come to that). Happy New Year! Hic!

P.S. The picture above IS an original Mai Tai and not like any of the red, orange, pink or whatever people will tell you is the correct versions, when they’re not. It’s the taste that counts. Maita’i roa ae. Look that up, if you have the time!

Advertisements

I don’t do lists. So in light of that, here is mine.

1) Why does Christmas come around sooner every year? Oh I know there’s at least 365 days between each one, but they somehow ‘manipulate’ that for sure. I’m old yes, but not stupid enough to believe that there was more than 100 days since the last one. Maybe it’s a time thing. ‘Inflation’ or something like that!

2) Why do women secretly have this wish to wipe out or just blind the male population? Just because they appear to be shorter than us men, (I’m only 5’6”) and go around on cold, rainy and wintry days with the points of their umbrellas pointed at our eyes at an angle of about 45 degrees?

3) Why do people in London have this ‘London Weighting’ thing? They get paid more, just because it costs more to live there. I understand that. What I don’t understand, is why when I visit there, I don’t get paid more for the time I am there and have to pay grossly inflated prices for everything!

4) How does Santa enter our houses, now that chimneys are a scarce item in new properties?

5) Why do multi-storey car parks have to be made, so that when you drive around them, unless you can turn on a sixpence, you nearly bang into every wall and then have the tiniest spaces possible, with lots of dividing walls to cause even more scrapes?

6) Finally, why is Rudolph the only reindeer to participate in Red Nose Day?

I’d better stop now, or someone else on here may think I’ve stolen her list idea.

I wish someone would give me humbugs for Christmas, then I could go around offering one to everybody, saying ‘Bah, Humbug’?

Meanwhile, just remember that “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to feed and be fed in return”. (With apologies to Eden Ahbez).

Fine-Ants Problems

Well hello again! I hope you are having a fine and happy summer, o readers of my incessant blog! We’re not, in the UK that is. The weathermen (and women) tell us that “it’s going to be a lovely day tomorrow, with temperatures up to 22 degrees celsius” and then it isn’t. It’s cold (16 deg.), wet and rainy, then on the next forecast, they say “Well it’s been a lovely, warm day today” and it wasn’t. So maybe they’re just pretending, as there’s nothing they can do about it. Anyhow, I’m digressing as, the main reason for this ‘rant’ isn’t the weather at all, but rather money. ‘Finance’, not like the title at all is it? It certainly isn’t funny and neither is money.

We recently had to change some money from ours into theirs for a holiday, at the rather French sounding, ‘Bureau de Change’. Why can’t they just call it money exchange? Anyway, this is from British Pounds into European ‘Euros’ that I’m talking about here. I spent weeks watching the euro exchange trends, seeing it bounce up and down against the pound, like a pony-tailed young girl in a tennis dress at Wimbledon, trying to win a few points against it’s opponent. The Greeks couldn’t seem to sort out their problems with the ‘single currency’ and I waited, like a hawk, fluttering it’s wings and hovering above a mouse or vole, ready to pounce the very moment the Pound hit the magical 1.50 mark. Or 1.45, or 1.44, you get the picture. But it didn’t and when the Bank Of England didn’t do what it was supposed to do to the interest rates, the exchange rate suddenly fell like a stone and I, like a rat leaving a sinking ship, dived into the nearest foreign exchange to change my money at a paltry 1.38! We had got some Euros a few weeks earlier at a higher rate, so we’ve still done fairly well I suppose and only lost a few pounds into the bargain. The last time we went, we only got 1.20, so we’re still way ahead of that now. At least I now know that I couldn’t work in finance. Never mind ‘Black Friday’ or whatever, my nerves are now so bad, that on my first day there, I would be the first out of the window, even if things were going OK! I know I shouldn’t joke about such things, but I could never handle such a high-pressure environment. I get worried if I over-inflate my tyres, never mind the bloomin’ economy!

What I do dislike about changing money though, is the porkies they all tell! That is, porky-pies (lies). Bit of rhyming slang there. They say, “Oh come and change your money here, we don’t charge any commission”! Rubbish. So the actual foreign exchange rate for the Pound to Euro is say, 1.42, that means that on the online comparison site, the place you intend to change your money at, will say 1.40 or 1.39. When you get there however, it will say 1.38 or even 1.36! I always ask why this is and they say “No, we don’t charge commission, but we have to make money somewhere”! In other words, they DO charge commission, but call it a ‘different’ exchange rate. Then if, while on holiday, you haven’t blown the lot on bull-shaped bottles of Sangria and china donkeys in hats with holes for their ears to poke through, as presents for the family, then you get robbed again, when you try to change your money back! The rate to get your pounds back, always means that you lose quite a lot, just on those two transactions alone! So it’s always best to really enjoy your holiday. Forget about blowing a load of cash on things for Auntie Flo et al and just stuff yourself with spicy foreign food and strange herbal concoctions of the local spirit, to use the money up. Then when you get to the ‘Bureau de Change’, you’ll have such a bad head, you won’t care if you get much back or not!

I hope you have all had/are having/will have a great holiday or just a great summer if you’re staying at home. Whatever you’re doing, make the most of what we have left of any good weather as, as I always say, it will “Soon Be Christmas”!

My life (edited)

Wouldn’t it be great though? If you could? I have made mistakes, we all have I think. Only mine, well. If only there was a life ‘Tipp-Ex’ or a big eraser, so that you could go back a day, erase it and then start over. Live that day again, only do it right this time. I would have got through a thousand gallons of correction fluid by now & there aren’t enough rubber trees in the world for MY mistakes.

Frank Sinatra’s song “My Way”, for me would go “Regrets, I have a lot, but then again, too many to write down”. Or Edith Piaf’s “No Regrets” would be a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. DELETE. Would be a whole different ball game song.

Whole days, sorry, make that weeks, would go missing from my school life. Things I wish I had done differently, would take another half-life to correct. Jobs, dates, even girlfriends, would fall by the wayside and totally disappear from my life history! But at least I would be happy. Happy? Content? Pleased? Meh? At least I would be. Lets just leave it at that. Maybe it’s not right to tamper with your past though. Or every day would be a sunny day. The school bullies would never have existed and I would always have been head boy. In my dreams.

But there are definitely a few things that I would change. I have always had this idea, that there are about three events in my life, that I did one thing, when I KNOW that I should have done another. Niggling little doubts about getting on that bus, when I should have walked and other such things. But I think they’re just doubts. We never get the chance to ‘correct’ mistakes and just have to learn to live with them.

So what I am trying to say is, if someone gave me the chance to change my life and go back to this or that point and ‘do it right this time’. I know I couldn’t. I would always choose to carry on and shoulder the burden of doubt and just get on with it from here on in. Right?

Don’t be so bloody daft! Now where did I see those ‘build your own time-machine instructions’ again?

The British Weather

Yes I know. It’s all been done before. But this refers mostly to yesterday (Wednesday the first of July 2015). We British love our weather. Do we? Do we really? Well, if we don’t love it, we love talking about it, conferring, discussing arguing and complaining about it. Yesterday, we had a heatwave. A what? It was only 26 degrees! Call that a heatwave? Well it was said that in some places it may have got up to 30, or even higher. It’s been over 40 round the Indian peninsula recently and in Spain and France. Well round about that anyway.

It’s just that we love a good moan and what better to complain about, than something that can’t fight back. Or can it? Since last autumn, people have been complaining about it. It’s not warm enough, it’s too windy, it’s too cold, There’s not enough snow, there’s no snow, it’s cold, it’s still too cold, will spring never start? Will spring never end? What’s happened to our summer and so on. Now yesterday, we had a heatwave. One day. Just the one. Were people happy? Don’t be daft. All I heard yesterday, on the first proper warm day of the year was, it’s too hot! It’s way too hot, this is awful weather, I’ve had enough of this, etc.

I had better whisper this but, I enjoyed it. I do love a good bit of heat. I’m not fussy though. Most of the time, I like it around 21-23 degrees celsius, with little or no wind and dry with a clear blue sky, as you can tell, I’m easily pleased. But when we have been punished with a thunderstorm or the threat of one, every time it gets above 17 degrees, I was getting sick of it! So it makes a change to have something a little over 30. But that will do for me, I don’t need anymore than that, as in this country, it gets too humid and unbearable. Not like on the Med, where 35+ is quite bearable, enjoyable even!

So just when are the British happy with their weather? You might well ask and that’s the whole point of this discussion. The British (us) are happiest when talking about it. It doesn’t matter what it is doing outside, as long as there’s at least some weather going on out there, then people will be chatting about it, in whatever form. At work, at home, In the bus queue, on the bus, or the train even. In the shops, at school, or even in bed. We’re a chatty lot, aren’t we? Well I must admit, it’s better than talking about politics or religion. That’s a complete no-no. Especially in church or the Houses of Parliament!

Oh well, I must go. It looks terribly dark over Bill’s mother’s! See you next week. Oh and don’t forget to bring an umbrella!

Writer’s Block

This week, having nothing up my sleeves but a couple of old arms, I thought I would address the problem of writer’s block.

I have had it before but, I always find that, once you start writing something, anything, you no longer have a blank page staring back at you. In fact, some of my best writing has started like that. (He says ‘confidently’ while hastily clutching at straws, that seem to be floating all around, but just out of reach)!

Unlike the character played by Jack Nicholson in “The Shining”, I find that it doesn’t help at all to just sit there, typing ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. Plus, like in the film, I’m sure it would just send me as crazy as he was!

No, it’s always best, for me at least, to just start something and then, when ‘the good stuff’ finally comes along, I just delete all the other nonsense like this and carry on, typing out my next ‘best seller’. (Oh please, would anyone who’s listening up there, just send me some good stuff? Like now, please)!

I feel sure that something good will be along in just a minute, but while you and I are waiting, here is some music… OK, just kidding! I may be clever and all, but I can’t do that. Talking about music though, did I ever tell you about the time I was in a choir? No? Well, I was in a choir. It was quite recently in fact, but then it died. Again. (There had been two choirs over the years & they both ‘passed away’). Maybe it was something I said, or sang even? I think I’m bad luck when it comes to choirs, as this one was really very good. It’s location was even haunted by a little ghost girl, apparently. I don’t know, maybe that was why it failed. Maybe she didn’t like the sound of people singing in her ‘home’.

Oh darn. I just had an idea and then it went. Or was it…um…no, it’s gone. Well I’m sorry dear reader, but this week I think you will just have to put up with a load of old twaddle! It’s funny, because I’ve never dried up to this extent before. Well there was that one time, when I was on stage, playing a character in yet another ‘farce’ in an amateur dramatics group. Oh, didn’t I tell you about that either? Well I was…… (I’m sorry to interrupt this blog, but I’ve just decided that enough is enough. Normal blogging service will be resumed as soon as possible). Oh dear! I wouldn’t wish the dreaded writer’s block on anyone!

I should be back by next week, with something better hopefully. See y’all soon!

Father’s Day et al

I have gotten over my need to post at a certain time, on a certain day. So I’m sticking this on here now, just after 1pm. Sorry it’s not so funny this week.

So it’s father’s day this coming Sunday (21st. June). I’m a father myself and it’s always nice to be told that you’re loved and to receive cards, gifts and maybe to even be taken out for a meal, or a drink.

But and I know I’m not the only person to think this, should we have these special ‘days’? You know, like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents day and let’s not forget that old St. Valentines day, when you can tell (if you have one) the person you love, that you do, in fact, love them. Maybe it’s a good thing. I knew a man once, who couldn’t and never did, tell his girlfriend that her loved her. He always used to say that he would ‘when the time was right’. So it was no wonder then, when she dumped him and moved on.

But do we really need that one special day, every year, when we can express our feelings for this relative, or that lover? I always felt ‘forced’ into buying something for my mum or dad, when I obviously loved them both and they knew it. They always liked the cards, but the gifts were a hit-and-miss affair!

I suppose that it’s not such a bad thing really. The card makers and gift sellers always love it I’m sure, when there is a sudden influx of money that they can rely on getting annually. For mum’s, dad’s, grandparents and lovers etc., it’s something to look forward to. I hated Valentine’s day when I was a child, as I knew nothing would be coming through the mail for me. Oh and as a teenager too and maybe in my twenties as well, sometimes. It doesn’t count when your mum sends you one to try and make you feel better though, does it?

But it’s special now. Now I have a love of my very own. I think I’m getting something gift wise this Sunday too. Now there’s another thought, if that ‘day’ turns up, but nothing else does, should you expect something? Or get angry at the lack of it even? Maybe it just slipped their memory. But how that could ever be possible, with all the relevant advertising, slapping you in the face from all directions? It’s a funny old world.

Or, as the old song/saying goes “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return”. But may God help you, if you forget to show it!

                                                      Happy Father’s day to dad’s everywhere!

No Healthy Solutions!

Don’t you just love doctor’s surgeries? No? Join the queue (for an appointment). They’re not quite as bad as they used to be though. You would ring up for an appointment & the receptionist would instantly jump on the defensive. “What’s that? Little Jimmy needs to see the doctor? Why? What’s wrong with him?” “Well” you would say, “That’s a personal matter between Jimmy, his doctor & I”. “Yes but”, she would continue, “If you tell me what the problem is, then maybe I can get him to see the doctor sooner”. Her sly reply would suggest that, if you did tell all, thereby increasing the surgery’s gossip quota for the day, you might actually get to see a doctor. So you would go on, trying to explain little Jimmy’s sensitive problem in as few words as possible. Then you would get all manner of questions & suggestions, such as, “Have you tried putting ointment on it”? Or “Did you give him ‘X’ tablet to see if that helped”? All the while your appointment chances diminishing rapidly, while she, with less knowledge than a pharmacist’s son’s ex girlfriend, would come up with solutions that you had already tried at least 24 hours ago.

These days of course, they are much better than that. If you ring up at exactly the right moment, say two minutes after the surgery opens, (because the phone is still on ’emergency’ calls only up till then), Then you MAY actually have a chance of seeing someone that day. I say ‘someone’ as, you probably won’t see a doctor, but you could get to see a ‘nurse practitioner’, or they might make you an appointment with a doctor (at least two weeks later), or they may even ring another doctor or specialist who knows what you are talking about. Why can’t you have an appointment (with a doctor) when you need one? When you’re actually ill? Or is it, like I have always suspected, that they make you wait 2-4 weeks in hope that you will get over whatever you have in the meantime?

Am I going on a bit? Does it seem like a bit of a ‘sore point’ yet? Yes well the cream didn’t work, so I had to try something. How about EARS though? In 1997 I woke up one morning with a completely blocked (deaf) ear. For anyone that doesn’t know what that’s actually like, put your finger up to something noisy & see how much sound you can hear through your fingertip. Nothing? You surprise me. But that’s what (I imagine) total deafness is like. The same can be said of total blindness, (how much you can see through that same fingertip). It was the oddest & scariest thing. Sound & vision are both three-dimensional senses & only half of either just doesn’t work the same. Losing half of your hearing or sight, is like being 75% deaf or blind. (I have tried both, not by choice & if it ever happens to you, you may hear or see, what I mean). The surgery actually helped then. “Put some warm olive oil in your ear, twice a day & come back in a week” They said, going on to say that, if it didn’t work, they would syringe it. I did what they said. It didn’t help. A week later they syringed it like they said. It helped. A piece of earwax the length & shape of a cigarette butt, came out of my ear & sound went back in. The relief was palpable, immediate & made me want to jump for joy. I didn’t. But I could’ve. Things have changed though, first it went to two weeks of ‘olive oiling’ yourself & now it’s either a whole month or a whole bottle, whichever takes the longer.

I loved the surgery after that. Well for a few weeks anyway. What really rubbed me up the wrong way (and it wasn’t the embrocation), was their attitude to lateness. One day I was late for an appointment. It was nothing really, just a few seconds late, maybe 10 or 12. They told me to come back next week. “But” I protested in painful desperation, “I’m only just past the time, surely someone could see me now, I’m not that late”? “No, you’re not that late, but you are late. We operate a policy of ‘zero tolerance’ here, if you are past your appointment time, even by just a few seconds, then you must make another appointment, when you will be seen, but only if you arrive before your appointment time”! Then, as if to rub salt in the wound that I had actually come to have treated, she said, “Your time is not important, ours is”! “Yes” I said loudly, to everyone else in the waiting area as well as her, “But I am in pain, you are not”! She ignored me. I changed surgeries after that. I was even told once that it would be ‘illegal’ for them to give me the phone number of their in-house pharmacy. What? These days though, I have learned to ‘bite the bullet’, put up & shut-up & go along with the crowd, baa-ing as I go. Doctor’s surgeries, who needs ’em? WE DO, I hear you cry. HA, yes maybe, but one day I won’t. One day it will be too late for me & then I shall have the last laugh. RIP me!

Disclaimer: While based on my actual experiences of medical care down the years, it is just that. Some words have been added for dramatic effect. This post is (loosely) based on many different visits, surgeries & events & is meant to make you laugh (the best medicine supposedly) & is only for entertainment purposes. I love the NHS & all it’s doctors, nurses & other staff deserve a very big pat-on-the-back. If it ever stops, I will be sorry to see it go. You could say my life depends on it, but hey, lets not get that heavy. Heavy? Obese even? Now there’s another story…

Why? Just why?

!stsop koobecaf sseltniop gnidaer ta detnelat ylhgih eb tsum uoy neht ,sdrawkcab siht daer nac uoy fI Don’t you just get sick of all these pointless things they put on social media these days? Or should I say ‘unsocial’ media? There’s quizzes & photos, news stories and whatever else you’ve ‘subscribed’ to. I’m just as bad as everyone else, I sit there, scrolling and scrolling and noticing that the new posts I read at the top of the page, have moved down faster than I can read them and have been replaced by other ‘new’ posts, that just seem to say the same things that I read minutes, hours, days and even weeks ago! I gave it up for a while recently, but now I’m back on there (fb) and still do the same thing that I decided to stop it for! Am I addicted? Oh and don’t get me started on grammar. I’m one of the world’s biggest grammar nerds going I think. Especially when it comes to of. What? I hear you ask. Of is my biggest bugbear, as in “I should of gone and I would of gone only I couldn’t of, as I was busy” and other such tat! I sit there, screaming at the screen, “NO! NO! NO! You can’t put that! You &%$£#@. You mean have”! It’s ‘have’ never ‘of’. Unless used in the correct way as in Lord OF The Rings etc. Oh give me strength! And another thing! (You should never start a sentence with ‘And’)! Oh now look, I’m even correcting my own grammar! What a nerd! AND calling myself names and I’ve started another sentence with an ‘And’! Oh help me somebody! What I started to say was that, not only am I getting angry about social media, but I promised that I wouldn’t put a post on this week! So what have I just gone and done? I couldn’t even wait more than 24 hours, never mind a week. I’m such a loudmouth! Stop calling yourself names Gilbo! I’m trying, but I just don’t listen!… Oh! I’ll shut up now. I’m sorry… See you next week!