Thursday, July 11, 2013

Back again!

It is always sad to record the death of a friend after a long illness because, although one had become accustomed to the possibility of death, when it comes there is always the shock of deprivation and loss.

Being a few countries apart adds that element of frustration that distance from what has gone on gives and also that inevitable sense of guilt that lack of actual contact encourages.

John had a distinct outlook on life and his insights were direct and no-nonsense.  He spoke what he thought and his comments were both astringent and approachable.  He will be missed.

The news of his death came when Alison was staying with us for the first time for almost three years.  The shock of that realization gave a vivid impression of the passing of time, a process which inevitably takes a human toll as John’s death showed.

I am positive that John would not have liked depression to take the place of the pleasure which the visit gave, but it was impossible to compartmentalise the loss, but we did try and celebrate life rather than bewail its absence.

In the determined way that Alison has we “did” new things on our trip to Barcelona and for the first time I visited Palau Guell; went up in the cable cars to the castle in Monjuic and last, but certainly not least, a lady gave up her seat to me on public transport! 

Over the last few years I have developed a hardened attitude when travelling on buses and trains and feel that with my arthritis I am entitled to keep my seat unless there is a pressing case in front of me and EVERYBODY else seated around me obviously outranks me in the give-up-your-seat stakes. 

If there is a youngster (of whatever sex) then I feel that my early years of springing to my feet with an alacrity that even my mother cannot have failed to approve have given me the right to stare pointedly at the child and will it to do the decent thing.  And if they don’t well, times being what they are . . .

Fussy Eaters (i.e. anyone other than myself) are not the people to take on a Ruta de Tapas.  What with Toni’s aversion to cheese and Alison’s allergy to milk products added to her simple dislike of “squishy” things like eggs with runny yolks, oysters and most forms of shell fish and body organs, choosing a restaurant to visit was not without its problems.  Added to which when a decision was finally made and the map was eventually worked out and we triumphantly arrived – more often than not we found the bloody place closed and recriminations are rarely fair and never nice!

We settled for one of our favourite restaurants and had a set meal from an extensive range which satisfied us all.  And gave me another opportunity to sample the white chocolate cheesecake of which I am inordinately fond.  Success all round!

A week has gone by in which I have been here and there, bought this and that and done various things.

Reality, which I usually assiduously avoid as being unnecessarily gritty, will hit tomorrow when Part XIV of the Financial Master Plan is put into operation by the visiting of the local Labour Exchange to find out if my selfless giving of myself to the dictates of education and lavishly endowing the state with largess in the form of pension, taxes and other monies ill spared from my meagre earnings with redound to my favour in some small emolument (on a monthly basis) while the said office vainly (I trust) attempts to find me a job to fill up the empty years until I am 67 or whatever other fantastic age the government has stipulated as being needed to be filled with gainful employment. 

Even if I work every second of every day left I will still not get anywhere near the 15 years you need in this country before a pension is dangled above your empty wallet!  So keep your fingers crossed that there might be Other Ways to get what Winnie the Pooh called “a little something” from the State.  I have, I must admit, no healthy expectation of success, but if you don’t try you don’t get, so it’s worth a short trip to Gava to find out.

I will probably be back in Britain next week, assuming that the funeral is gong to be held then, so I really need to knuckle down to my OU work and make sure that I am ahead of the game.

Toni’s mother is also scheduled to make an appearance for her Annual Holiday Without the Kids next week and then Emma will arrive soon after the end of the British term.  We are still waiting to see what the Pauls have worked out now that they are separated – but we are hoping for one variety at least in the middle of August!

The truth of Sartre’s dictum that “Hell is other people” is nowhere shown more true by the unutterable variety of folk that is attracted by our swimming pool.  Shouting, laughing, screaming, crying, laughing (again) and jabbering – they pile up towards the end of the day and drive us to thoughts of wholesale slaughter!

To lessen the impact of their objectionable presence I have purchased a swim-proof mpd player with earphones which are pads which relay the music to your ear through your cheekbones!  I know this system works as I had an early form of it years ago, but it is only with my Finis Neptune system that I have found the sound to be anything more than barely acceptable.  This system works even when the head is out of the water, so I am very satisfied.  Time, however, will surely tell whether my enthusiasm is justified.

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