Sunday, 30 January 2011

Still pulling in the crowds

Last night I attended a  gathering at my sister-in-law Nina's house to pay tribute to Paulo, on the first anniversary of his death.

life will never be the same without you

The house was packed to the rafters. Family and friends united for an evening of eating, drinking and a little weeping. Paulo used to love gatherings like these, when contact is re-established between family members who can't meet as often as they'd like, for reasons such as work and distance. Paulo would've been in his element.

The food was a feast of dishes created by the indefatigable Nina; 'bacalhau' fish cakes, prawns, salmon, chicken curry, lamb chops, ribs and a vast array of finger-foods too numerous to mention. The dessert that followed was just as impressive; apple turn-overs, pineapple cheesecake, chocolate sponge and an array of ice-cream.  Nina can feed an army without breaking into a sweat and often fed the 'armies' Paulo had no problem gathering.

Next week I move into an apartment less than a mile from Nina's house. She reminded me of how happy Paulo would've been to have me living so close by:  I remained silent. I didn't need to tell Nina how happy I would've been...



Friday, 28 January 2011

Champagne taste... with beer money

'Wife' stormed into my showroom with the kind of determined look more appropriate of an alcoholic trying  to remove the cork off a wine bottle with his bare hands; yards ahead of a panting 'Hubby' trying to keep up with his wife-on-a-mission.

'Wife' was an attractive  thirty-something woman of Asian origins, with the figure of a health-club regular and leopard print leggings to match. She had a velvety-smooth complexion and those familiar 'panda-like' dark patches around her eyes. 'Hubby' was bald and lanky, sporting a tweed jacket with suede elbow pads and looked much older than his wife. The kind of husband who puts up with petulance in return for an easy life.

"That's the one I want! That Kuga... in that colour, that's the one!"


'Hubby' nodded in agreement and I rubbed my hands at the prospect of an easy sell with loads of commission.

Publisher's Note; the names have been changed for anonymity and compliance with Data Protection laws.

"I should have bought it two years ago instead of the Fiesta - don't know why I didn't"

"I think it had something to do with 'affordability' if I remember correctly" replied 'Hubby'.


I offered assistance as 'Wife' dived into the car, head first and almost impaling herself on the handbrake.

"Just looking, thanks" said 'Hubby' apologetically.

"What do you mean just looking? Bellowed 'Wife' from the drivers seat. "This is the car I want. I've always wanted one and you know it and now is the time to get it"

"'s see if we can afford it first" whispered 'Hubby'.

I thought it wise to invite them to my desk, take details, price up the car and hopefully sell the sparkling new Ford Kuga before 'Hubby' could say "affordability".

If 'Hubby' gets his way it'll mean no commission for me and no sex for him for at least a month. I felt the urge to remind him how terrible celibacy really is, but decided instead to concentrate on 'Wife', or the soon-to-be proud owner of a new Kuga.

The next half-hour went smoothly, 'Hubby' sat quietly and 'Wife' couldn't wait to finalize the deal. Moments after the monthly repayments were mentioned, 'Hubby's' expression changed from the submissive and aloof look to one of sheer terror.  For a moment I imagined the scene of  para-medics administering CPR in the middle of the showroom to a 'Hubby' loosing his battle for life in front of my very eyes.

Turns out 'Wife' and 'Hubby' had a budget of £250 per month and the car would cost them  £550 per month.

"Why is it so expensive" wailed 'Wife', about to burst into tears. "It's more than twice what I pay for the Fiesta!"

"Because the Kuga is more than twice the price of the Fiesta" whispered 'Hubby' before I had the chance to  state the obvious.

"Can't you do something about the price?" implored 'Wife', looking at me like a nun looking at a crucifix.

"I'll see what I can do, but first you must tell me how much you can stretch you monthly payments to"

"£270...maybe £275?"

"I can sell you a new Fiesta for that kind of money, if you like"

"That's pathetic" shouted 'Wife' as she grabbed 'Hubby' by the arm and marched out of the showroom.

 If looks could kill...

There are days in this business when I feel like I'm farting against the wind.


Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Paulo - In loving memory

 6 Dec 1964 - 26 Jan 2010

This morning on my way to work I thought about you, like I always do, in the solitude of my car. I thought about the heartache so many of us feel on this sad and regrettable anniversary; what you meant to me and to so many people and words started to form sentences in my mind. Words of tribute to a very special person. Words that don't fully describe the pain but nonetheless, made me feel a little better. Here's to you brov...

beloved brother

The space you filled among us, remains empty
The air you breathed is laid to waste
The joy you gave us, no longer flows
The laughter you brought has fallen silent
The love you spread now fills a void in our hearts
The grave you  fill now has your selfless attention
And the spring blossom awaits your precious gift
For the flowers will reflect your essence
With their resplendent colour and fragrant scent
And we will admire the flowers like we admired you.
And in our minds and those of our children
Your eternal flame will glow bright and warm
To light up the hours of darkness
And bring comfort to our winters of discontent
Gone far too soon, but never forgotten. So long sweet brother of mine


Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Moynihan's Irish Bar - Madeira

Feb 2008 - Apr 2010 - Madeira, Portugal

Time to reminisce, once again, about my time as a regular entertainer at Moynihan's.  I miss the place, the laughs, the music, the people, the craic, but most importantly, I miss how it made me feel, especially on good nights;

Sinead Moynihan's first and last performance..
...on her orders! Sinead was the life and soul
 of the place. Great host, not so great a singer

Brazilian singer Lidiane. Great sultry voice

Martin's version of "Ziggy" always
 delighted the crowd

Three's a crowd? not at all. Fab trio

Fantastic to sing with my bro, great
harmonies of voice  and mind

Taedhg Moynihan was a regular on
stage, great Irish voice and an even
better landlord

I  miss Madeira...the weather...the people...the food and drink...the regular "road trips"...the way of life...the stunning views...the luscious greenery...the strolls in town over immaculately laid mosaic pavements...

Simply stunning, 'nuff said.  Hope to see you again in April...muah


Friday, 21 January 2011

Writing - an art form close to my heart

Writing is a fine art.  Eloquent writing is as sublime an art form as any other. It is, in my opinion, a much more powerful expression than painting or sculpturing, music or acting.

An image on canvas crafted by the finest artist can evoke emotions and a multitude of sentiments in the observer. It may even tell a short story or  record a snippet of time in history, but it can never create the vast pool of information that a couple of pages of well written text can do. A sculpture by Rodin or Michelangelo also has its limitations. There are no limits to what good prose can create in just a few paragraphs.

As a child I loved both reading and playing guitar, and I guess music is a talent I have and should be grateful for. But if I had a choice... I know I would have picked writing.

I admire fine prose and am always fascinated by the talent of some writers in describing the intricacies of the world around them; describing the many human emotions with such detail that it leaves the reader in no doubt as to its meaning. Fine writing creates the most complex images and sounds in the readers mind.

I love writing despite the fact that I don't have the command and skills of  fine writers. I try to be grammatically accurate and as descriptive as possible, but am seldom impressed by my own efforts. I learnt English at the age of twelve, at a  time when my command of Portuguese was slightly ahead of my other class mates, but maybe, just maybe, twelve years too late to acquire the necessary skills that can develop into writing talent.

Fine writing is readily accessible for all to enjoy; it can be found in magazines, newspapers, books and even blogosphere! Two fine examples of skillful blog writers I recommend are "Baglady" and "Mr Londonstreet",  the couple from Reading who regularly and selflessly entertain thousands of readers with their witty and refreshingly clear narratives of everyday life. For the more adventurous and inhibition-free readers, I  recommend the x-rated exploits of  "Annah" and "Dan",  two prolific bloggers from across the 'pond' that 'tell it as it is'.

Here is an example of how difficult it can be to convey the right message to the reader:

" I didn't say he stole the money"

By highlighting different words it can have 4 different meanings, such as;

" I didn't say he stole the money" - (someone else did)
" I didn't say he stole the money" - (I wrote it down)
" I didn't say he stole the money" - (I said he took it)
" I didn't say he stole the money"- (I just said he stole something)

No wonder fine writers are hard to find!

I'm sure I will find more good writers in the future, the blog world has copious amounts of talent yet to be discovered. And its all FREE!

Happy reading

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Marriage - Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet"

I have mentioned in previous posts the wonderful works of Kahlil Gibran, philosopher and artist, and now is the time to use an extract from his masterpiece  "The Prophet".  Enjoy it... I certainly did.

'Then Almitra spoke again and said, "And what of Marriage, master?"

And he answered saying:

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

Kahlil, the envy of all aspiring writers

...and if you want more of his profound views on other human conditions, check out this link.  I know in my heart this is the right advice, the correct behaviour, the blueprint to happiness...but 'knowing' and 'doing' are two very different things...


Wednesday, 19 January 2011

"nothing" is NOT an option I like

I am presently going through the longest spell of celibacy ever.  Yes, you read it right, the longest spell of celibacy in my adult life; and, as you can imagine, I don't like it one bit.  I feel as taut as a balloon about to burst and as frisky as a lesbian in a fishmongers.

It  is a "geographically-induced" abstinence, as gf is in Sweden and I am here in the UK, and that is due to time unemployed, having to live with relatives etc...etc.  Circumstances beyond control, I know, but  that doesn't make it any easier to accept.

This barren spell is beginning to have an adverse effect on me. It is dragging me away from reality and into the realms of dream-land/cloud cuckoo-land, to such an extent that for the first time in my life I am dreaming regularly, almost every night!

To make matters worse, my dream topics are not even what I would chose under the circumstances, if you get my drift. They're not at all connected to my loveless state but are instead jumbled up stories with the usual multitude of characters, with no beginning, middle or end. They are your typical ordinary confusing and senseless dreams.

What good is that? Thanks for nothing,brain!  Wrong time for my colourful imagination to fail me.

And before any of you think "it won't kill you, so shut up and stop acting like a priest in a nunnery", I would like to say the following;

 "you've got to be a woman to even think that, tsst tsst". No sympathy from the ladies whatsoever, I know.

Only sensible advice would be appreciated, thank you.

'Nuff said, rant over, time to go to sleep and dream the wrong kind of dream again.


Friday, 14 January 2011

this business is dying

On my way to work I heard a report on the radio that got me thinking. It was about the possible closure of a local crematorium, due to a drop in business. Apparently this 'human incinerator' has not been reaching targets and faces closure.

I can only imagine the conversation between the Area Manager and soon-to-be-unemployed Site Manager.

"Now Jim, you're not doing the business  are you? You're  not doing the numbers you promised. You knew the score Jim, didn't you?"

"Well...erm, yes boss, I do know. Business is bad out there, quiet of late. Don't know why"

"Don't fuck me about with excuses Jim. When I took you on you promised to meet targets; in fact you said you would increase business, didn't you Jim?"

"erm...yes boss, I did...but...people in our catchment area aren't dropping like they used to. Don't know why boss"

"You don't know why Jim? Who the fuck does then? The local butcher? That's bullshit and you know it Jim. I employed you to do a job, a specific job, and that was to reach our targets, and you haven't done it. Isn't that right Jim?"

"Yes boss...but...I'd like another chance to make it up to you boss, I'll think of something to drum up business"

" Oh Yeah? That's what you said when I took you on. You gave it large with promises Jim, didn't you? You said you were the fucking dogs bollocks, didn't you Jim?"

"...yes boss...but...I'll think of something..."

"And what will that be Jim? Eh?  How you gonna do it?"

"Don't know yet boss. I need to think...but I'll think of something"

"Tell you what Jim, it's your lucky day today. I'm gonna give you another chance. I'll give you 'till the end of March to turn it round or you'll be out on your ear" Do you understand Jim?"

"Yes boss, I'll do it..."

"You'd better do it Jim. You gotta burn 28 a week as a minimum. 28 Jim, is that clear?"

"Yes boss, thank you. I won't let you down"

How the hell can you increase this kind of business? Go on a rampage with a semi-automatic? Poison the local water reservoir?

I'll let you know how Jim gets on.


Wednesday, 12 January 2011

miles of air-miles, anguish and smiles

March 2007 - December 2010

The last three and a half years have been hectic to say the least. Eventful, exciting, tiring, heart-breaking, life-changing, and at times, a mix of them all. I have lived at seven different addresses, clocked up fourteen international flights and six ro-ro ferry journeys.

Feb 2008 - Started gigging at Moynihan's
 Madeira, Portugal
March 2008 - The Duke of Derby, Cambridge, UK
 with Shaun and Katie (son & daughter)

July 2008 - with  Mattie (son)and Martin (friend) at DD Peartree's
(nephew) concert, Madeira

July 2009 - one of 3 trips to "paradise on earth"
- Porto Santo Island, Portugal

August 2009 - The last photo of us 3 brothers together. It was the
last time I saw Paulo.

August 2009 - Katie, Scott, Gabriella and me at the
 Kasbah Cafe Madeira
September 2009 - Madeleine enjoying a caipirinha in Madeira

March 2010 - with Simon (nephew) 1800 mts high in Madeira

June 2010 - with a Grass Snake
 ( I thought it was an adder-hence the cautionary stick)
Central Sweden

September 2010 - With Mattie on the Thames, Richmond, London
October 2010 - Madeleine and I lived in
High Wycombe, UK

December 2010 - Karlskoga, Sweden
minus16 degrees centigrade

That's all folks! I'm not one to take many photos, something I should do, I know. One of my many new year resolutions is to capture more of life's events. I'll try my best.

I wonder what the next three and a half years will bring? I wouldn't mind clocking up a similar mileage. We shall see...


Tuesday, 11 January 2011

laughing pains - part 3

"From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down
 I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it."

"Apparently, 1 in 5 people in the world are Chinese.
 And there are 5 people in my family, so it must be one
 of them. It's either my mum or my dad. Or my older brother Colin.
 Or my younger brother Ho-Chan-Chu. But I think it's Colin."

"Girls are like pianos. When they're not upright, they're grand."

I told the doctor I broke my leg in two places –
 he told me to stop going to those places.

"To lose one parent may be regarded as a
 misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."


"The NHS announces new drug for depressed lesbians - Trycoxagen"

Monday, 10 January 2011

Elton John's "Circle of Life"

Elton and spouse announce latest purchase

Sir Elton John recently announced the acquisition of his latest toy. No, it's not the kind of toy one would expect for a  flamboyant super star to satisfy his indulgence; it's not a Rolls Royce or private jet, helicopter or no, it's a baby ! A real live baby!

How can any woman get pregnant, endure the full term and painful labour, and then sell  her baby immediately after birth?  And I can't understand how any man can "buy" a baby!

There are many aspects of human behaviour I can't understand, one of them being the notion that everything has a price and is for sale.

I can only imagine the unpleasant remarks the child will undoubtedly hear throughout his life such as "you were bought" and "which one is your mum?" and  "your mum swapped you for money"

We all know how cruel some school children can be when they find out some one else´s weaknesses and differences.

How will Elton explain this bizarre situation to "his" son?

And why is this sordid business allowed to take place in the first place? Are the powers that be taking into consideration "children´s rights"?

If gay couples wish to adopt, are they thinking about the child´s welfare fully?

Are there any children out there who would rather be adopted by same sex couples than by the traditional mum dad couples?
Should we not embark on a fostering program first? A sort of trial run with psychological assessments after 5 or 10 years? If it all works out to the child´s benefit, then, and only then, adoption could be considered. It´s like a race for political correctness gone wrong, this gay adoption thing.
And why do some egotistical and self-indulgent  celebrities think they can buy anything they want?

As Johnny Nash once said; "There are more questions than answers"


Friday, 7 January 2011

The most hurtful thing ever said by a loved one - Part I

If you have dropped in via Twitter, thank you kindly, and if you are a regular reader, "Hi".   I really do need your help with this one as I want to compile a list of  "the most hurtful comments ever from a loved one" and will be posting the results here in the near future.

So, to all you aspiring bloggers and tweeters, please please leave a comment.


What's love got to do with it?

I'm no beginner when it comes to relationships, I have had a few in my time. I'm quite intelligent and perceptive, I like new challenges and am always eager to learn. So why is it, after all of my life's experiences, I am no closer to understanding women?

I have always known that men and women are opposites in every sense of the word, but I also believed there was much more common ground than there appears to be.

What I expect from a partner;

1- Love and affection
2- Loyalty
3- Fidelity
4- Consideration

Nothing more nothing less. Simple really, the main ingredients for a loving relationship. But what has been expected of me is much more complicated than that. Why?

The following are some of the demands and conditions expected from me by my companions.

1-  Love
2-  Loyalty
3-  Fidelity  (so far so good )
4-  Provide financial security
5-  Be at their beck and call 24/7
6-  Providing a shoulder to cry on (still OK to a degree,)
7-  Enduring rejection and emotional blackmail regularly
8-  Stopping smoking
9-  Putting up with mood swings and tantrums
10-Listening to gossip
11-Putting up with friends/family feuds caused by partner
12-Trying to resolve said friends/family feuds
13-Ensuring we live in "the right area", affordable or not
14-Putting up with  "what's mine is ours what's hers is hers"...

...there are plenty more, too numerous to publish.

Albert Einstein made an interesting observation on relationships and said;

"Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change.Invariably they are both disappointed"

No wonder Jesus never married! You need to be a saint to put up with it.


Sunday, 2 January 2011

A night to remember

 'Work hard, play harder' . That was one of the topics covered last night...

...when I met up with work colleagues at a pub in Surrey.

the picturesque pub in Surrey... even better by night 

As we got comfortable and snug on a table next to the open fire-place, a group of partially clothed local girls came in (-3 centigrade outside) wearing their summer best. Tight Primark vests and skirts above their eyebrows, the girls looked comical with their purple goose-bumped flesh and bright red lipstick. Temperature didn't get in the way of fashion. As they trembled past our table, "X" turned to us and said "the farmer has left the gate open".

I had heard him come out with that saying before, but this time it was funnier, and much more appropriate . We rolled about laughing to the disapproving looks from the red-and-lilac new arrivals.

the 'weather-resistant' local girls

Karaoke started, and if it wasn't for "Ugly Betty" and yours truly it would have been a total disaster. The portly young woman with a pint glass permanently stuck to her right hand that we nicknamed "Ugly Betty" had the figure of a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig and facial hair to match. She was (is) seriously hideous but had the voice of an angel! Bizarre! A case of Mother Nature compensating. To make matters worse (if aesthetically possible) "Ugly Betty" sported a very festive bright red nose, obviously suffering with a cold, but still managed to sing "I will always love you" better than anyone, SuBo and Whitney included.

"Ugly Betty" in full flow

As "Ugly Betty" took a breath between the line "I'll always love you..." and the ensuing "ooooooooooo" a bubble of snot inflated from her right nostril, quickly reaching the size of an orange. The snot-balloon burst and sprinkled the nearby tables with rainbow droplets of "swine flu". Undisturbed by the sudden explosion around her face, "Ugly" managed to end the song in style; and would have received a standing ovation, if  the crowd of drunk admirers had been able to stand.

As Karaoke was coming to an end, "X" decided he couldn't wait any longer in the queue to go toilet and decided to fill 3 empty bottles of Corona with a similar coloured fluid (albeit much stronger in alcohol content) right under the table we were all sharing. Discreet, yes, as no one saw the bottles being filled, but also  messy. The left leg of his jeans changed to a darker shade that lasted all night, like some kind of Divine punishment.

Out in the garden for a ciggie, "Y" decided to test the temperature of the canal water by dipping his fingers in it. He slipped down the icy bank, miraculously staying on his feet but ending up with a pair of soggy and muddy Nike trainers and very cold feet. He squelched back into the pub looking like a bad case of the runs had caught him unawares.

Closing time, we staggered down to "Zs" place for a night cap, getting some kebabs and  more beer on the way.  We talked about new years resolutions and agreed in principle, to meet up every last Saturday of the month at a different venue, until we've visited every river/canal pub in Surrey.  It will take around 98 years, but... time's on our side! I've been given the task to set up headquarters for our meeting point in future. I've got just the right logo;

My 'headquarters' logo

Happy New Year to all...