Sunday, December 2, 2012


I know I’ve myself this question before but until now I never had an answer. However I now know why I am sitting here writing this, this blog which started a while ago after coming across other life-style diaries. The only reason I am continuing is because now I have a follower, yes a follower, just one but I’m sure she’s lovely. I know she is interesting because of her personal blog of which she is prolific and I also now have someone who actually reads my nonsense and follows my inanities. And this is, as I understand, the be all and end all of blogging. Not having a following is akin to spending your entire life talking to yourself. There is a downside of course and that is I now have to continue and even worse, should my follower un-follow me the rejection could be quite painful. So dear follower, I beg you, when you stop reading my drivel, don’t tell me.
I have to write this down, for if I don’t I may forget how I spent a totally bizarre two hour chunk of my life. It was one afternoon last week and had you walked into my kitchen at that time you would have found a somewhat bemused man standing next to a carefully placed blob of marmalade on his white floor tiles while his eyes swept  the room’s perimeter as if they were surveillance cameras in south London. Why, I hear you ask, why would reasonably sane man place marmalade on the floor?  A fair question and the answer is that I was trying to trace where the ants were coming from. Ants black, floor white, they should stick out like the proverbial thumb even if they are minute. You know the ones; they are approximately 2 millimetres long and meander across surfaces in a conga-like fashion. Actually, if you think about it they don’t meander, they are pretty quick on those tiny legs, in fact, size for size I reckon they are all little Usain Bolts’ and Mo Farahs’.
After approximately ten minutes of standing over my marmalade blob without Usain or Mo appearing the mind starts to wander. Should I have used fine cut rather than coarse cut, after all you can’t expect a 2mm ant to carry off a heavy piece of peel. At this stage I realised that I was verging on the ridiculous or probably already passed into it. I binned the blob thinking perhaps they prefer Marmite or peanut butter I could set out a row of delicacies for them to choose – oh hell, madness is setting in I should be looking out for men in white coats not ants.
As I raised my binoculars (ok, it’s a big kitchen) and surveyed the granite worktop the blinding flash of realisation hit me like a thunderbolt. Slapping the side of my head and shouting Eureka (as one does) I looked at the worktop. The granite is of mixed colours, grey, beige and black, yes black. Do you remember as a child playing musical chairs? When the music stopped you had to find a chair to sit on, well that’s the answer – when someone walks into the room the ants rush to the nearest black bit and play statues – they hide on the black bits.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Algarve Rock Choir

The blog-meister has metaphorically wrapped my knuckles and castigated me for not having written anything in yonks. It’s all very well for him, he is probably sitting in his minimalist office facing a floor to ceiling window overlooking a beach full of bikini-clad blondes whilst sipping good white burgundy. He doesn’t understand that we hillbillies have a tough life up here. Between the constant weeding of the vegetable garden, the uphill battle to stop the pool going green, the weekly dosing of pesticide that the date palm has to have to keep it alive and the never ending wall painting, not to mention a plumbing system… ok I won’t mention the plumbing system. But the bottom line is – hillbillies are, during the day, busy people and in the evening we are what the newspapers like to call ‘tired and emotional’. So Sir, that’s my excuse plus the fact that I am the procrastinator of procrastinators and always have been. And frankly I have always felt that if you cannot write something either of interest or humour then don’t write at all. But now I have something that I think I should share – well at least share with the Algarve community.

There is a little known group of like-minded people down here who call themselves ‘The Algarve Rock Choir’  This thirty something group consisting mainly of Brits but also some Swedes, Germans, Dutch, Irish and Portuguese have one thing in common – they are all delusional. They are delusional but delusional in the nicest possible way for although they all believe they cannot sing and most can’t they come together and meet weekly to belt out (in four part harmony) rock and pop songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s.

A while ago I was invited to one of their concerts (whoops, sorry you rockers out there, gigs) held in a restaurant in Sao Bras and came away impressed, for what they lacked in professionalism was more than matched by their fervour. They have an incredible backing band (unusual in a rock choir) consisting of lead, bass and rhythm guitars and keyboard, with synthesised percussion tracks. The atmosphere was amazing; the audience of 150 plus were jumping up and down in their seats and trying to sing along. (The last time I saw this was when I at a screening of Jailhouse Rock in 1957)

A few weeks later I went to a 50th birthday party where the choir were singing, they had added a few other numbers and had improved by leaps and bounds. Two of the female choir members, with seriously good voices, took some of the solos with the choir doing the usual  ‘woo bob de boop’ type backing. Their repertoire opens with Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ and continues, amongst others with Abba, Billy Joel, The Carpenters, The Supremes, The Beachboys etc.
Enthusiastic they are – if you get the opportunity go and see them, go, even if it’s for just the chance to see a group of people singing songs you love whilst all moving in different directions. It’s a hoot but it’s fun.



Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Fifth Season

The months have yet again passed quickly, the croci are coming up, starting their annual battle against the weeds and as they appear I know that our peaceful autumn/winter has drawn to an end and that a new season is upon us. This oncoming season is unfortunately, a season that spans two seasons and is known only to a few. It is a fifth season recognised to ex-pat’s worldwide as the ‘Visitor Season’ which this year runs, for us, from end March until the last of the buggars go home. I use the term buggars hesitantly as it does not include my immediate family (well, perhaps some of them).

These intruders into my well-ordered private space can be categorised in various ways and the following examples have all been our guests at one time. But only one.
The no-car brigade - will not rent a car but expect you to show them the ‘sights’.
The sun worshippers - lie by the pool all day while you bring drinks. 
The parsimonious - you feed and water them for two weeks and they magnanimously give you 25 euros at the end of their stay to go towards their upkeep
The morons - insist on having the TV on all day whether they are in the room or not
The thoughtless – leave the air-con on and open the windows – also sit on white sofas when covered in sun cream
The sanctimonious - tell me I’m drinking too much wine with dinner
The Germans - spend an hour having breakfast and want fresh orange juice, cold meats, cheeses, toast and both scrambled and boiled eggs and bring their own coffee.
And one couple who, when we were about to split a dinner bill, complained that they only ordered one dish to be shared between them.
The problem is that you only find out that they are like this after they have arrived and by then it’s too late. Our first guests this year arrive shortly and I see problems ahead. The main problem being the fact that I only know her and Sophie hasn’t met either of them. We have never been out with them, never been to each-others homes and never had a meal together – this could be disastrous, thank G-d it’s only five days. Why did I invite them? Don’t ask, I don’t know. And if you add to this the fact that they lean, politically speaking, slightly to the left of Lenin and Marx, certain conversations are out of the question, we shall not be able to watch the news together without a major heated discussion, which they would win as they are both highly intelligent and used to debating. I suppose it could be worse …… no it can’t, I’ve burned my boats, I’ve  made my bed, I’ve crossed the line, there is no going back. My guests shall arrive later this month and I/we must greet them with smiles and bonhomie because if it doesn’t work it’s not their fault – it’s mine.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Anyone you like

I’ve been here a while now and the more people I meet the more I realise that ex-pat’s can, and often do,  re-invent themselves to create personas that are far removed from their actual selves. I’ve met ex bankers who used to have a single figure golfing handicap until they “did their backs in”, ex ‘computer gurus’ who decided they had had enough of jetting around the world and instead now want the simple life of living in a motor home and ladies who decided to eschew their designer handbags, Michelin starred restaurants and Louboutin shod feet for a more simple, down to earth life – think big fish, small pond. I’ve come across obviously gay men who insist on talking about their ex-wives and cast off girlfriends and major players in almost everything who can get caught out on the simplest question. I know singles that live together but pretend to be married (why is this so important).  I’ve met doctors who aren’t and men who can’t wait to tell everyone that their divorce cost them a million. Strangely enough I haven’t met anyone who admits to a life in Blighty that was not up there with the movers and shakers of Brit society.
In fact I would go so far as to generalise that if someone insists on bragging about their past it’s probably not true.
But we can all play this game. Perhaps I could say that I came second in the qualifiers for the men’s downhill in the winter Olympics of 19?? (try to check that in Google)  in fact second place in qualifiers is generally difficult to check so in future I may well use this ruse to top these Walter Mitty’s. I could claim second qualifier place for James Bond stand-in, just missing being the stunt double for Mark Damon but was an Oscar red carpet walker for Emma Thompson and fathered a love child with Michelle Pfeiffer (well if you are going to dream you might as well dream big).  Oh, I nearly forgot, Lloyd George ‘knew’ my grandmother but she was obviously too ‘vanilla’ to be granted a title.
However I was a) presented to  the late Queen Mother – b) danced with a woman who danced with Fred Astaire – c) had Beatle George Harrison, after asking him for an autograph, tell me to p*** off (apt as we were side by side in a discothèque’s urinal), and d) chatted with Richard Chamberlain, who played Dr Kildare in the television series (showing my age here) at our mutual tailors - and e) can finish up with the fact that shortly after Joan Collins went to Hollywood I gave her author sister Jackie (of international chick-lit/crap book fame ) a lift to Edgware, Middx.  So I’m not altogether unknown, whoever is reading this is one click away from a man who has LIVED A LIFE. Google my name and you will get 869,000 results and, if you want to risk ‘repetitive strain injury’ (aka RSI) I’m there somewhere.