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World Cup Fever

Friday, June 4th, 2010

I had braved the volcanic ash and Ryanair’s baggage policy and met up with some long standing friends of highly dubious reputation.

I have to say, that having not seen the motley bunch for some time I was a little taken aback at how hang dog they seemed.  There were the usual bad taste jokes too much beer and the evening ended with the inevitable ruby murray in the king Street Tandoori, but there was an air of melancholy about them.

Being the caring sort of geezer that I am and taking my mens welfare seriously I felt it was time to put all that managerial training to good use and to see if I could counsel them through this difficult time and to touch those sensitive issues, which would bond us and allow these troubled individuals to draw on their inner talents and strengths and thus overcome whatever bollocks was making them so friggin miserable.

“What the fuck is wrong with you lot?  Christ you think you had your nuts chopped off the way you are all sitting here with faces like a wet Sunday, sorry Dave no offence intended”

Dave “No nuts” nodded back “None taken boss”- its a long story that can be summed up by the words bullet & balls – but moving on I looked at them “What is the problem?”

“Well ” said Dave looking a bit sheepish” It’s just that we are all getting old Boss and its all sort of slipping away from us like”

“What do you mean, what’s slipping away?” I asked.

“Life” said Andy G

“And what the hell has brought all this on, have you lot been watching Oprah or day time TV again” I asked

” Its The world cup” chipped in the Scouse Git.

“The world Cup? What the fuck has the the world cup got to do with the price of fish.  More to the point what the hell has it to do with life slipping by?” I asked with not too much trace of the managerial touchy feelyness I had intended to practice.

“In 1966 we were all lads” chipped in Bunny Warren

“Yeah so what?” I asked still not seeing where this was going

“Well, there was loads of World Cups ahead of us and England won” Bunny went on

“yeah so”

“The thing is boss, we know you don’t follow football, but for starters we will probably only see another 4 maybe 5 world cups at tops and as things stand we probably wont see England win another one in our life time”

“Thats it?” I was dumbfounded.  The world bloody cup, who would adam and eve it. They nodded gloomily ” You never know” I said trying to rally the troops “They might just pull it one out of the bag this time”

The looked at me every man jack of them.  they didn’t say a word but looked at me with hard stoney glares.  I shrugged “You never know lads, I mean fuck it if you dont have a go you cant win, they have as good a chance as everyone else”

Scouse Git looked at me and said ” I dont believe you sometimes boss, everyone here knows they are fucked, but you still think they have a chance.”

“Yeah of course I do it aint over till its over, and,  as for only having 4 or 5 world cups left in you,  well I have to be honest,  I have never heard anything so friggin lame in  all my life you wankers”

And then they  started to laugh.  I thought No Nuts was going to fall off his chair, his balance has not been so good since, since … well you know the ahhem accident.

The laughed like drains until the waiter asked if they were OK, decided they were and brought 8 more pints of Kingfisher.

Eventually they stopped laughing and I was able to ask what was so funny, because to be honest I had no idea what the joke was.

“You” said SG

“Me? what have I got to do with the world cup and being funny”

“Nothing it’s just that, well you always seem to think there is a chance you never seem to think you will loose …the eternal bloody optimist”  SG shook his head and looked at me ” You look at life like a kid sometimes, have you ever thought you would loose because if you have then we have never seen it”

I can only assume they have been blinded by an accumulation of all that world cup fever over the years .

You see the thing is that for quite a long time I really didn’t care if I won or lost, but what I didn’t realise was that my self destruct mode was seen as eternal optimism.  I have never been so ashamed and embarrassed in all my life.

BY the way I have a fiver on England.

and Spain

and Germany

and Portugal

Oh and Brazil, Italy and France.

Should just about cover the main players.

Personal Tragedy?

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

I have to say, that even this old cynic was a bit taken aback by how little time it took for a minister of the new government to drop in the shit.

I also laughed like a drain as the excuses were trotted out as they tried to convince us that this was  not just another case of another over paid wealthy MP taking the piss, but a, and I quote here “terrible personal and public tragedy”.

Fuck off is my repsonse to that.

Mr Laws (who is a millionaire) claimed up to £950 a month in expenses for five years to rent rooms in two properties owned by lobbyist James Lundie who just happens to be his “partner”, and I dont mean business partner.

Parliamentary rules since 2006  clearly ban MPs from “leasing accommodation from a partner”.

Mr Laws stated that he did not consider himself be in breach of the rules which define partner as ‘one of a couple… who, although not married to each-other or civil partners, are living together and treat each other as spouses’.  However he also said  “James and I are intensely private people, and we made the decision to keep our relationship private and believed that was our right. Clearly that cannot now remain the case. My motivation throughout has not been to maximise profit but to simply protect our privacy and my wish not to reveal my sexuality.”

OK in the normal run of the mill I would not have a problem with him living with some bloke and wanting to keep it secret, but by his own admission he admits he was living with the bloke as a couple and renting rooms from him at the same time.

How the fuck could he not consider that  to fall inot the scope of the parliamentry rgulations.

The truth is that rather than being deeply private people blah blah the real reason he wanted to keep his relationship secret was because if anyone found out about it he knew he would be be in the shit for claiming these expenses.

I don’t believe him, but lets just say for one moment he did not understand the regulations, but I think it is a bit of worry that somebody with such a poor comprehension of the written English should be Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

What is worse is Lord Ashdown saying that Mr Laws is ” Mr Integrity” and then bleating on to say that “This turns on the question of what is meant by a partnership in the rules for members’ expenses. That is not the public view of what a partnership is… Whether or not this infringed the rules because they infringed the term ‘partnership’ as it is meant in the rules is a matter for the parliamentary commissioner to decide on.”  Well Lord Ashdown let this member of the public leave you in no doubt, that as far as I am concerned Mr Laws is a lying thieving git.  He was shacked up with Mr Lundie and claimed money for renting rooms from him when he should not have done.

He has taken the piss and Lord Ashdown is compounding it by excusing criminal behavoiur.

Oh and by the way I do not consider being caught a personal tragedy, I would call the death of Mr Camerons young son or Mr Borwns new born baby personal tragedy.

May be Paddy pants down should retire as well as he has clearly lost the frigging plot.

The Government

Friday, May 21st, 2010

As regular readers will know I don’t  hold a very high regard for politicans and I am not a fan of Mr Camermoron.  Not of him personally, but just of the fact that he has opposed a lot of things for the last few years but not really come up with too much in the way of policy of his own.

Time will tell, I mean who knows maybe this is the dawn of a whole new brave new political world.

Anyway be that as it may,  I felt it a little unfair the other day when I read an article saying that the government had failed to deal with X problem.

To be fair its a little hard to see how the new cobolition could have done very much about anything in the short space of time they had been in office.  What struck me as odd though was the response from the new minister which was something along the lines of ” The government has been working on this diligently with various agencies blah blah to do blah blah and will continue to do so in the future blah blah”

I think I would have said “Yeah so?  The last goverment did do sweet FA because they were crap and that’s why the British public sort of  gave them the tin tac and elected us”

Alas no such straight forward talking, just media speak.

The thing is, that this only serves to reinforce my jaundiced view, that not only do the politicians stick together, but the country is run hook line and sinker by Civil Servants.  So whats the point of elections if you only change the name of the party but don’t change the government.

The other amazing thing about elections and government is that in a few months time you will not be able to find anyone who voted for the new government.  In France for example every man and his dog hates Sarkozy and nobody admits voting for him, yet in the second round of the election he got over 53% of the vote, that’s about 19 million people.  You would think you could find at least one of them

Mind you,  being in opposition is a lot easier than being in government as the new PM is about to find out.  When you are in opposition you can jaw about everything – a bit like me really – but you dont actually have to do anything.  When you are head honcho you have to do or at east be seen to be doing.  Talk is cheaper than action, but actions speak louder than any words.

Just for the record I don’t have any better idea of how democracy and government could be run, but I do know that I certainly would not want the job of being PM.  In my view the fact that these people want the bloody job in the first place shows they are certifiable loons.

I just do not understand why anyone would want to have that amount of thankless grief and aggravation.  Still at least you missus wouldn’t have to ask “Had a good day at work love” she will know before you get in because it will have been on the news all day.

Barking the lot of them.

Spring Time

Monday, May 10th, 2010

At last I have a few spare moments for my stumpy little digits to tap the key board.

I am sorry for the prolonged absence, but this has been due to a variety of bureaucratic and administrative processes not to mention a recuperation process which was not entirely trouble free.

In novels the hero man of action knows no legal boundaries and lives a buccaneer lifestyle.  Alas the things of stories.  The reality is that there are tax forms, insurance papers, employers obligations and a whole host of other bollocks to tie one down.  In short I am surprised that in the modern western world anyone has time to go out and kill deal with anyone and thus earn an honest(ish) crust.

At the end of November I had to go and see our accountants – yes we have accountants, after all we are an honest business, well as honest as the average politician, and so we have accountants, lawyers and business advisers.  These are not always happy meetings as they try to make head and tail of some of our “essential expenses”.

Accountant ” Uncle Norman, who is Mr Glock and why did you need to pay him X on Y occasions”, but my favourite was when they questioned why we had sexual services  in France down as an expense.

“What sexual services in France are you on about?” I asked the chubby faced youth, He snorted and said rather pompously “There are a number of entries for Body Amour, I presume that this is some kind of massage parlour or is lingerie you bought for some lady”

“Amour? ” I said racking my brains “That’s body amour you tit, look at who issued the bills”   He snorted again ” But even so, it is a lot of money and why did it need to be replaced?”, “Because there were bullet holes in it, is that a good enough reason?”  Although I skipped over the bit that I don’t actually like wearing it and frequently don’t, which with hindsight, may not have been my wisest move at times.  Still you live and learn.

Still at least he did not ask about Messrs,  Heckler, Koch and Browning! or the payment to the Happy Ending Massage Parlour in Thailand.  Tee hee.

Anyway It may not come as a shock that we have since sacked our accountants and have changed a lot of things following the “lets get your blood pressure up” session with them and  my little accident.

So I had a lengthy meeting with our solicitors who echoed my own concerns that we were in danger of contravening a plethora of UK laws and regulations.  I have made no secret of the fact that I am on very good terms with a number of police officers in Special Branch or whatever they call themselves these days as they come to see me regularly when they get wind of  my being employed in what might be refereed to as “Sensitive locations”.  Two of them had come to visit me just after I had been shot and expressed concern that I could be a sitting duck for some whizz kid trying to make a name for himself.

The legal beagle was also very concerned  and agreed with the plods that as things stood I was rather bare arsed.

The problem is that although private investigators are not licensed in the UK yet almost every other aspect of the security industry is.  The other thing is that the jobs we do are not quite within  the remit of most other similar companies.

Thus I went to see our business advisers in Yorkshire who are very good.

My Trip to Yorkshire was very productive and at after 2 hours of no nonsense chat and a bill for almost £4K I had a new entirely legal corporate structure -outside the UK – which is totally legal but free of licensing requirements and can operate anywhere in the word without any problems and without the need for accountants.  Money well spent in my opinion.

Of course we always keep books and accounts, you have to make sure you are actually making money, but hopefully that’s the end of stupid meetings and justifying paying Mr Glock.

Our law bidding friends in Parliament have kept me amused over the months.  I like the term “expenses scandal”, when we really mean thieving and deception.  As I have already said we have to justify everything but they have been at this caper for years without anyone blinking an eye.  what is worse is The standard defence seems to be “I was only doing what everyone else did” – a defence which did not carry much weight at the Nuremberg War Trials, but that was few years ago and clearly in the UK we have come round to thinking that if everyone else was doing naughtiness then that makes it OK.

The last few weeks of course have been livened up (NOT) by the election.  I regret to say that I am not overly impressed with any of them and the words “fat” and “fire” spring to mind.  Do anyone of these plonkers actually know anything about real life and the problems faced by the rank and file.  I doubt it, but it is funny listening to them telling us how they will make it better and that they will change this that and the other.

Yeah right, and I will get to the dance the naked  horizontal mambo with Lady Gaga.

Sunny Sky – Explanation.

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Thank you to everyone for their wishes and kind comments and email.

I am very pleased to say I am back on the mend and that the work of the physioterrorists is going well.

I wont bore you with the full medical side of things of what got damaged and what went wrong, suffice to say I live to ride another day.

I would not be able to go into the full ins and outs of what happened until the inquest and any other legal proceedings are concluded, but suffice to say that it is an occupational hazard and these things happen.

What I wanted to do was share with you the rather surreal experience I went through having been shot in the chest and the experience of being semi concious.

I am very grateful to the young man who came to my assistance and whose rapid application of a plastic shopping bag and duct tape to my chest wound went a long way to saving my life.

I am also very grateful to the young nurse who brought in her beloved Ipod so might total stranger might listen to some English music.   She thought ti would help me in my comatosed state.  It transpires she is very keen on line dancing (or country as they call it there) and hence all the country music.  She showed me some of her dances and I have to say she was a very slinky little  mover and it was a bugger about the hole in my chest, tubes and drips preventing me really appreciating her performance.

I have to say that what really puzzles me is why the Charlie Winston song popped into my head.  I had never knowingly heard it before and it has taken a great deal of searching by a very good friend of mine beofre we even identified the song and artist.

I have listened to that and to the Johnny Cash version of Desperado and both songs make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

Yesterday was the first day I was able to go out really unaided and I went to the local remembrance service.  There seemed to have been some confusion and the local mayor assumed I had been shot whilst on Active service for HMG.  I was received with great affection by those in my commune and I was surprised and touched that there was a bouquet of flowers to be placed at the local war memorial for British troops who had died not just in France but more recently.  There was a card which roughly translated means for “The young English men who died during the great wars in France for France and are now dying so far away to help make the world a better place”.



Sunny Sky – continued

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

There is a young woman looking at me, early to mid twenties.  She is saying something but I don’t know what, partly because I cant  hear and partly because I just don’t understand or care.

I can hear “la Legion” but again I do not really hear what is being said.  I see his face, he knows its not good, I know its not good and the flecks of blood on him tells no lies.

I sort of faint or pass out then swirl back with a wosh.

I cant breath, it is like my chest is on fire and somebody has dumped a hot iron on it or in it.

She looks frightened but is concentrating.  I see her hands, no gloves but covered in blood.

They are doing something to me but all I know is that I cant breathe and am drowning on my own blood. and it  hurts like fuck.

The sky is still sunny and blue, but the birds have gone.

Darkness, total black,  but irons of pain pierce the darkness with a searing white light.

Electric lights I am looking at a white ceiling and am being wheeled along a corridor and there is a lot of commotion.


WHITE LIGHT faces with surgical masks.  Voices, very business like, but I have heard the sense of urgency when dealing with others.

I have made it this far then I am with a good shot. Haha very funny!

Blackness engulfs me totally and everything is suspended.


I hear music. I thinks its music.  It sort of fades in and out either turn it up or turn it off.

The music is back again, but a bit louder, but still not loud enough to hear what it is.

Its really odd because everything is like a dream and dark yet I know I am sleeping and waking up, but just not as we normally do, or at least I think thats right.

I can hear the music now, thye must have turned it up at last.

Actually its bloody country music or at least thats what it sounds like.

I am not a fan of country music and I want to open my eyes and tell them to knock of the friggin Nashville, but I just cant wake up and it is just too much effort and I drfit off again on my little airbed.

I can see sort of dappled light and hear people talking, but I can hear what they are saying because it like being at the swimming pool, all the sounds merge.

Darkness creeps in and I slip away into nothing again.

I am tired I want to roll over and go to sleep, but I cant move.  I hear more voices and vaguely see the faces of people I know and love.  I feel all warm and cosy and then it seems as if I am getting colder very slowly.  Gradually slipping from warm and comfortably numb to very cold, tired and weary.WHITE LIGHT commotion, voices, cant hear properly,  blurred images then…


Music again, more bloody country. Great just what I need friggin John Denver “Country Roads take me home to the Place where I belong, West Virgina fahlalalahhhhh take me home…..” actually I quite like this song and start to sing along…sort of.

WHITE LIGHT voices FLASH OF LIGHTENING. Red, blues, green, streaks of purple I hear voices but they make no sense.

What the fuck is going on, why cant I open my eyes?

I think I am awake It is dark but I see a light on the wall.  I must be drugged, is that Scooby Doo I can see on that wall?  It was I am sure, Now there is a galleon sailing down a street in New York.

PAIN-WOW- FUCK ME THAT HURTS -then a warm feeling sweeping through me.  I am feeling warmer and more comfortable and Scooby and the gang are slipping away the images fade and I fall into the blackness again.

More music much clearer this time”Having a good time, ….something or other……shot of tequila beer on draught….something or other Having a good time”  He might be having a good time, but I dont feel so good, my back hurts my head hurts, even my dear old chap hurts.

I have no idea of time, in fact there is no time, there is just being.

Suspended animation it is a blank.

I am back at the swimming pool again.  Coming up from the bottom I can see light and images, but they are all broken up and refracted, but there are colours.  The funny thing is that I am aware that I am breathing.

How can I breathe under water I’ll drown?

I feel myself start to panic a bit and then tell myself to get a grip.  I am not in water,  it just feels like water, stay calm Norm, don’t make a problem until it is one.

I am aware that I am thinking full thoughts, not fragments or dreams

I calm down and I am aware of the steady rhythm of my breathing. The gentle movement of my chest.

The music continues, most of the tunes I dont know.  Every now and then there is something that I know, but not much and it is better than nothing.  Just.

No pain, I am not drowning on blood any more, but I have that distinctive matalic taste of blood in my mouth.

Christ I have one hell of a headache.  Feels like someone locked my head in a vice.

My eyes  hurt and I can see sunlight.

There is always music and I know now that I must have heard this stuff over and over.

I hear  a guitar the music is clearer

Desperado” Its a voice I know but cant place.

“Why don’t you come to your senses
You’ve been out ridin’ fences,
for so long – now.”

Its bloody Johnny Cash, just what I need, if I dislike John Denver I cant tell you how I feel about the man in Black.

But there is something about the the voice the way and speed with which he sing (if thats the right word) and the words.  I can’t quite tell you why or what,but something in me or my head clicks.

“Ohh you’re a hard one
I know that you’ve got your reasons.
These things that are pleasin’you
Can hurt you somehow.”

I want to cry. I cannot stop it and I feel tears running down my cheeks.

Hot tears that run down my cheeks towards my pillow and into my ears. It tickles and I realise I can feel, this is real it is not a dream from the blackness.

A hand wipes my face. I felt that, a hand these are real sensations.

It seems as if Johnny is speaking to me and making every word count.

Ohhhh you aint getting no younger.
Your pain and your hunger,
They’re driving you home.
And freedom, ohh freedom.
Well that’s just some people talking.
Your prison is walking through this world all alone.”

“Mister Norman, can you hear me Mister Norman” Its a woman’s voice heavy accent, but  it seems to go in and out of focus, but Mr Cash stays clear as a bell.

Why don’t you come to your senses?
come down from your fences, open the gate.
It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you.
You better let somebody love you.
(let somebody love you)
You better let somebody love you…ohhh..hooo
before it’s too..oooo.. late.”

I open my eyes, well I must have done because I can see.

Everything suddenly becomes crystal clear and there is a beautiful  olive skinned girl with lovely  brown eyes and jet black hair looking at me.  I focus and realise she is a nurse.  She is smiling and there is another man in a white coat – they are coming to take me away hehehaha.

Then I see two more faces its L and the MIL.  They smile at me, but to be honest they dont look so hot, sort of tired and upset.

L comes to the bed and kisses me on the lips “Hello Norm”

I smile or gave a grimace that was supposed to be a smile.  The MILl kisses me on the forehead and taps my cheek gently and says something witty about there being easier ways of avoiding birthdays.

The Desperado has come down from the fences and opened the gate.
It may have been rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above me.
I better let somebody love me.
before it’s too late.

If you would like to hear the version of Desperado by Johnny Cash please click here.

Sunny Sky

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

I am suddenly  looking up the sky, It is very blue not a cloud in the blazing sunshine.

Bloody hell there are lots of birds up there.

Spinning round I see, I see what, a girl.

My right hand is moving out in front of me

Everything is quiet and still, in fact it is more than that, it is silent.

More birds in the sky I wonder why they came from.

There is a flash of intense white light like a photo flash.

The flowers in the window box are really red, probably geraniums, I cant tell from here.

The old man sitting outside the café has a really brown leathery lined face, we make eye contact.

Dust, there is a lot of dust, I can see the dust around me and the old man is looking at me and is getting up from his chair.

His shoes could do with a bit of a clean.

The ground is hard and parched and there are bright red geranium petals in the dust.

Why would there be geranium petals here, fucked if I know.

 I can feel the sun on my face but it is not hot.

 I see more red petals.

 I can hear hissing.

 I see a mans face maybe thirty years old, his hair is cropped like mine his face is brown and thin but strong and his eyes are brown and serious.

What are all those people doing, what are they looking at? I can see feet and legs

God I feel tired maybe I could just shut my eyes now and drift off.

The man with the face is pulling at me and I know he is speaking but I can quite get what he is saying. He has strong hands

“La Legion”

 He is gone now

I can see my girls faces and Joseph all smiling and happy, I can feel warmth, no actually its not warmth, it’s a mix of extreme heat or is it cold very cold.

Somebody is saying something, is that someone calling me?

Yes they are calling me, I suppose I better say something, don’t want to be rude, but my throat is blocked and my nose clogged, must be getting a cold.

I clear my throat there are no geranium petals, just a froth of bright sticky frothy red.

La legion is holding me and I can feel his hands.

I open my eye and see another group of people just don the road gathered round something on the floor.

La legion is talking

I feel…… I feel what?

I don’t know what,

I feel like I am floating away out to sea on an airbed or something.

It’s very quiet.

Very calm.


I See nothing


There is a voice, somebody calling me.


Spain 10

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

It took a fair bit of searching of the house to find Sandy‘s passport but it was in one of peoples favourite hiding places – a shoe, to be more accurate, one of his shoes.


We gathered up her things, but there wasn’t much and then shut the door and headed back to Sofia.  Cyclops had confirmed we were booked on a flight back to the UK the next day with a connection to Spain the same evening.  Mum and dad said they would pay us for the flights – when they could.


So it was that we headed back to SofiaSandy was good company and had it not been for our little chat earlier you would have been hard pushed to know anything was wrong.  She laughed out loud and joked and chatted away.   However if you listened and watched you could see this banter was superficial and that she was clearly a very unhappy young woman with some serious mental health problems.  I suppose if somebody has a broken leg you see the plaster cast and you can see somebody is hurt, but the problem with mental health issues is that the don’t bleed or swell and you cant just throw a few stitches in or bung a blaster over it.  Half the time most people don even know they are sick themselves.


I went back to the same hotel, because it has excellent amenities and to do some more damage to my own brain with a few more glasses of No Mans land red wine.  The receptionist recognised me and gave me a “knowing” look when she saw Sandy and an even more quizzical look when I booked two rooms.


The evening passed pleasantly enough, but my new companion did get a bit of a loose tongue after a couple of glasses of wine.  Not gobby or Leary just more verbal diarrhoea.  As the evening progressed she told fewer crap jokes and laughed less hysterically and slowly started telling me about how even as a little girl she would be enveloped in a black cloud of misery and how the people around her used to think she was just a misery guts, not someone with serious problems. 


She told me how in order to be liked she developed an outer shell and played the clown.  She was desperate to be popular and liked, whilst beneath this veneer she was desperately unhappy. 


The sad thing was that I got the impression that she probably was naturally funny with a good sense of humour and a very kind nature, but she just couldn’t see it or touch it herself. By the end of the meal she was becoming amorous and flirtatious and  it was time to call it a night.  I didn’t have any problems making her see this was not a good idea and she suddenly remembered Nigel and sobered up just like that and got very serious and worried that I would tell him.  In fact it was more than just worry, it was fear and the way she kept touching her cheek made me thank that our Nige gave her a bit of a slap now and then.


The flight was fairly early so we didn’t hang around any longer than we needed to.  Sandy was a little under the weather, not hung over just subdued and I put it down to drink and pills. 


I was my usual exhilarating company on the flight and I woke up about 10 minutes or s before were due to land to find her nibs slumped on my shoulder snoring and dribbling gently.  I said nothing as it is my experience that women do not like being told they snore or that they dribble. 

As per normal good old Cyclops had made good arrangements which meant that we had a margin of time between flights so that we were not cutting it o fine, but by the same token we were not hanging around the airport for to long either.  Just enough to grab a fat boys breakfast and a decent pot of earl grey.


The flight to Spain was like any other flight and I was feeling fairly weary by the time we landed.  We got through passport control and all that malarkey and I became aware that my travel companion was not with me.  I retraced my route and found her sitting on a plastic chair looking at the floor in front of her.  I went over to her andtouched her lightly on the shoulder and she looked up.  I was not prepared for the look on her face.  She was totally devoid of colour and looked like a corpse, her brow was wet with sweat and her hair stuck to it as if she had been swimming.  Her eyes were wide and frightened and she was shaking.


“Sandy What is it?” she said nothing I asked her again and she slowly looked up at me.


“I am a bad person, I make people unhappy and cross” she said in a hoarse quiet voice “I am not pretty or funny like other girls”


“Come on chicken that’s not true, you are funny and pretty and it is a shame that you can’t see it, but I can and other people can and I know your mum and dad will be delighted to see you”


“No they wont they will be sad to see me, they never tried to get in touch with me or anything”


“Hold on a mo missus thats not true they did not know where to find you and all their efforts to getb hiold of you have been blocked by Nigel, who do you think has paid for you to get home, who do you think is paying me and I can tell you I am not cheap”


“They aren’t rich they couldn’t afford that” she said looking at me


“They have done whateve it took to find you and get you back to them”


“Are you sure?” she said and you could her the doubt in her voice


“Of course I’m bloody sure” I said a little harshly “what the hell do you think I was doing half way across bloody Bulgaria then flying back to Britain and then to Spain, this is not my idea of a bloody laugh you know, or do you think I am doing this for the good of my health?”


She looked at me and thought for a second “No I suppose not” He eyes were darting all over the place as she ran the sequence of events through her head.


“But what about Nigel” she said hesitantly


“Fuck Nigel” I said not thinking


“On I do and ……” I managed to interrupt her list of services


“No you dopey mare I meant who cares about Nigel and what he thinks and not anything else, I will deal with him”


“He is very strong and very hard” she said with a worried look.  I hoped we had moved on and that she was talking about his temperament and was not referring to his sexual prowess.


“I’ll take my chance on that one” I said “I am very persuasive when I want to be”


She smiled weakly.  I took her gently by the arm and she stood up


“Come on your mum will be waiting and is dying to see you”


She started to walk and then took hold of my hand the nearer to the exit and meet and greet the harder she gripped it. Her breathing was fast and shallow and I could feel the perspiration.  Five metres from the exit she was sweating and I could feel a shake. I lengthened my stride and Sandy hesitated for an instant but I let go of her hand and gripped her arm just above the elbow hard enough to jolt her into action and immediately she quickened her pace to stay up with me.  I smiled broadly at the miserable looking Spanish security man right by the door, who to my shock smiled a big beam back at me and wished me good afternoon.


We were through the doors and into the public area. 


Where the fuck were her mum and dad because I could feel fear and god knows what else running through this girl like she was being electrocuted and knew she was going to loose it.  I know this sounds selfish, but I did not want to just get through security an customs and then to have a young woman yabbering and loosing the plot.  It looks bad and although it might be entirely innocent senior plod would be on to us like el rasho


 Then I saw them pushing their way past people and then running towards us.  Mum was crying and had her arms out and dad was doing his best to keep it together. 


They embraced their little girl and cried and stroked her hair and kissed her face like she was a new born baby.  I let go of Sandy‘s hand and stepped away to leave them.  They stood in a huddle attracting looks from people who did not understand, but they didn’t see or care and why should they.


I looked back and saw Sandy with her arms around and her mum and her head on her shoulder. She looked towards me and smiled and gave a little wave.


I wish I could tell you it that it was a happy smile and wave, but it wasn’t, it was a sad, lost, thin smile.  I turned and headed for the hire car desk as I wanted to find good old Nigel and look at a few things.




I don’t usually let these things get to me that much and although it was quite a while aago, I can still see that scene in my head.  It is hard to describe, but that smile was so lost, and so painfully haunting that it pierced my heart like a dagger of ice.  It is something I wish I hadn’t seen, but by the same token it reinforces my belief in just how lucky most of us are and in particular how lucky I am and for that I am most grateful.


Just recently I heard a song on the radio in France by Pascale Picard –called “Smiling”  What is really strange is that this could have been taken from a taped transcript of my conversation with Sandy as it is almost word for word what she said.


I am not gonna make it

I can see the crowd around me

Is getting bigger and as it is

I’m trying to figure out

Why I feel so isolated

I have my friends

But don’t have much time for them

I have my house

And a tiny pocket in my luggage

I have my boyfriend

But he’s also so tired of listening to me

Every single day

Seems like a mountain to climb

Every single word

It takes all my strength to get it out

I’m tired of talking about me

But in fact it’s the only thing

I get a grip on

I feel like I’m not gonna make it

I really feel like I’m not gonna make it

But it might be the best thing

That never happened to me, so now


Hey little girl keep on smiling!!

‘Cause they don’t wanna hear you complaining

You’re a lucky girl

Your life is so exciting

So I’ll keep on making bad jokes

‘Cause you think I’m strong

And it might be the way you like it

Oh how I need you to like me…


I have tried as hard as I can

I have tried to go through 9 to 5

But I was like a train

Between work and bars

Never found out what I was traveling for

Now I have my car

But I ain’t got no safe place to go

I still hold my drink

But I’m not as thirsty as before

I have my voice

But I heard lately that people

Don’t want to hear sad songs

Every single place

It’s all the same to me

Every single face

I know it will be replaced

But another smiley one

Who will also be left soon

Somewhere behind

I feel like I’m not gonna make it

I really feel like I’m not gonna make it

But it might be the best thing

That never happened to me, so now


Hey little girl keep on smiling!!

‘Cause they don’t wanna hear you complaining

You’re a lucky girl

Your life is so exciting

So I’ll keep on making bad jokes

‘Cause you think I’m strong

And it might be the way you like it

Oh how I need you to like me…


Please now just don’t count on me

I can’t handle it anymore

And don’t ask me why

If you don’t want me to lie

But don’t be alarmed

Don’t you see that I’m just down

Just don’t worry soon

I’ll be back on the tracks



‘Cause I’ll get tired of complaining

I’m a lucky girl

And I’m doing exactly what I wanted

So I’ll keep on making bad jokes

‘Cause I need to be strong

And it might be my only chance to get out of it

And now I really need to make it!!



Catching Up

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

How much decorating is one man supposed to do?

I had not realised that my domestic to do list was so long, but Jeez it is mega plus I have the neices and nephews coming for their holiday and I have a few (loads) of activities planned.

Whilst I was away I thought I would have a few nice leisurely mornings, get on with the Spain story, do a bit of training and just let the damaged bits repair a bit.  Instead I have been getting up at 6am and hobbling about until I get stuck in to the jobs  by 7am.  I manage about half an hour for some grub at noon and knock off at 7.30pm.

Plus I still have bits to deal with and type up on the job we have been dealing with.   I am also catching up on the half dozen blogs I read.  If I dont comment it’s just because I dont want to get side tracked.

The next part of the Spain story will be up in the next day or so and you never know I might get the whole thing finished by Christmas.

Acting the Goat

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

I am pleased to say that Joseph has made a good recovery.  Before I left we were out for a walk and after about half an hour stopped at a hole in the wall which is an African shop, often in the middle of no where selling all sorts of stuff from maize flour to god knows what else, but they all stock Coca Cola and more often than not Fanta Orange, so I had a coke the lad had a Fanta.

These places are a bit like a local pub and are a meeting spot for people and there were quite a few people hanging around chewing the cud.

We sat on the ground under the shade of a big tree to have our drink whilst a bad tempered and very smelly goat kept pestering us.  In the end this bad tempered Norm punched the goat on the nose and he buggered off and left us alone.

We chatted about this and that as you do and I commented that it was a hot day and Jospeh looked at me open mouthed and then started to laugh.  He laughed till the tears ran down his face.

“Ok then Gunga Din what’s so bloody funny”



More laughter his eyes open wide and his flashy dentures gleaming in the sun.

“This is Africa, it is always hot”

I could see his point, but I couldn’t see what was so hilarious.

“Why is that so funny?”

“Because it is” he said eventually “Father can I ask you Why do you white people always have to have a reason for everything?”

“How do you mean?”

“Nobody ever seems to be able to understand that some things are because they are and that’s just the way of things. ” He shook his head “They always have to understand more or try to have a reason for something, I don’t understand” He said shaking his little head.

“You all worry too much” he said and nodded in agreement with himself.

I sat there sipping my coke and thought about this and could see his point. I felt a faint warm breeze tickle the back of my neck and I decided to change the conversation

“You seem very much better now”

“Oh yes I am thank you very much.  I was very happy to see you when I woke up, I knew you would come and I was very happy.”

“You gave me a fright there young man”

He frowned “I am sorry I did not mean to frighten you, I was just sick”

“You were more than just sick you were dying” I reminded him

“Yes but it was me that was sick not you, and it would have been me that died not you, so why were you frightened”

“Because… ”

“Because you worry too much, that is why” He gave a big cheerful almost mischievous grin and I felt the breeze on my neck again ” if I die I go to heaven and see God.  Even if you do not believe in God, we must all die sometime, so worrying about it is silly.  It is not a question of if we die but when, why worry about something you cannot change when there are lots of things that you can change” He paused for a brief second and then his eyes opened and he started to laugh and said “Like stopping that old goat behind you eating the collar of your shirt”