POST #182. REMEMBER THE GOOD TIMES.

One of the things we all can do to get our spirits up is to remember the good times. Like travelling to far flung places – although getting to them wasn’t always fun.

This short story is based on something that really happened – though not to me and not necessarily on an EasyJet flight! 

Uneasy Jet

Jim was ruffled.

Why was it taking his wife so long to put her case in the overhead rack?

If he wants me to get a move on, he should do something to help, thought Cathy – not for the first time in 30 years of marriage – but that’s Jim. Happy to complain but doesn’t lift a finger.

Another traveller kindly helped her lift her suitcase. She beamed a thank you and glowered pointedly at Jim who had already settled himself into his seat.

“I don’t want anything”, said Jim, when refreshments came round.  “Well, I wouldn’t mind a drink,” retorted Cathy, but the stewardess had already gone past.

Jim pressed the call button and the stewardess reappeared. “What drinks do you have?” Jim demanded.  “Look in the brochure”, was her reply.

It was getting dark and Jim reached up to put on the reading light. The stewardess appeared again looking rattled.

“Is there a problem?”

“I’m just putting the light on,” replied Jim.

“You pressed the call button. This is the light switch. The one with the picture of a light bulb on it.”

“Ah” – said Jim. “I’ll know next time.”

When they were ready to land, Jim couldn’t get his seat upright. He rang the call bell.  There she was again – his favourite hostess. “What is it now?” she questioned, not very politely, he thought.  He explained and with one touch of the button, the hostess moved his seat back.

Cathy closed her eyes. She was beginning to wonder whether this weekend break was such a good idea.

Later, the shuttle bus dropped them off at their hotel. Jim had chosen to stay close to the airport as it was cheaper.

They collected their key and took the lift up.  But when they got to their room the key obstinately wouldn’t open the door. They both had a go but with no luck.

All of a sudden the door flew open revealing their air hostess in her underwear. Behind her, spread-eagled naked on the bed, was the pilot.

“You again!” she snapped, “Still looking for the call button?”

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

 

 

 

 

MY 179TH BLOG SINCE THE START OF LOCKDOWN!

In my writers’ group last week we were asked to write 450-500 words on the topic of  “on the brink”.

I wrote this poem.  Hope it makes you smile!

Nearly

I nearly wasn’t born at all

That’s what my mother said

I was coming out the wrong way round

By the feet and not the head

She was on the brink of having a Caesar

But pushed me out instead.

 

I studied hard at uni

It didn’t come easy to me

I was sure I’d get a distinction

Or at least an A or B

But when I finally got the result

I found I’d got a C

I was on the brink of such success

But they had it in for me.

 

She was the loveliest girl

I’d ever met

Will you marry me, I said

But then at the church

She left me in the lurch

And married the best man instead.

 

I was crossing the road as usual

On my way into town

A lorry appeared out of nowhere

And nearly ran me down

I suppose I should have been looking up

Instead of on my phone

Better be late than “the late”

Said my dad when I got home.

 

I made a mess of my driving test

It was only a small mistake

I went the wrong way

on a roundabout

So the examiner used the brake.

 

I have a mate who’s done so well

He’s making loads of money

He offered me a job with him

I laughed, said don’t be funny

It turns out he wasn’t joking

And asked another mate instead

Now they’re raking it all in

Have second homes on the Med

I could have been a contender

That’s what my in-laws said

Nothing good ever happens to me

I might as well stay in bed.

 

We’d saved up for a holiday

It was the first for years

My wife had begged to go away

She ended up in tears

So we booked a flight to Ibiza

And were waiting in the hall

When I had to pop out to take a pee

And so we missed the call

My wife has never forgiven me

And won’t talk to me at all.

 

I do the lottery now and then

My numbers never win

And then last Saturday

I came close

The closest I’ve ever been

My wife came downstairs running

I gave out such a shout

I was on the brink of winning

But just one number out.

 

I was at the doctor’s getting my vaccine shot

The receptionist called my name

I wasn’t sure if I’d heard her or not

It didn’t sound the same

And now I’ve lost my place in the queue

And will have to go again!

 

My computer keeps playing up

It crashes out of the blue

I’ve lost a dozen manuscripts

And now this poem —

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

TWO TRADITIONS. ONE WISH.

As Kyle sang in South Park: “It’s hard to be a Jew at Christmas.” 

Growing up, Christmas to me always felt like I was looking into a toy shop or sweet shop window at things I couldn’t have.

I enjoyed the Christmas parties and the festivities – still do – but, being Jewish, I always felt like the outsider at the party.

At home, growing up, we neither celebrated Xmas nor Chanukah, the Jewish festival of lights, which takes place around the same time. Father Christmas didn’t visit Jewish children and my parents treated Christmas just like any other day.

When I had children of my own, not wanting them to feel left out, OH (other half) and I experimented briefly with Christmas. We left out mince pies at bedtime and crumbs on the plates when they awoke.

Our children had pillowcases rather than stockings which we filled with goodies. I would stash these away until Christmas Eve.  One year our six year old son found my hiding place.  He marked all the things he’d found with a felt tip pen so, when they later turned up in his pillowcase, he was able to prove once and for all that Santa did not exist!

As our children grew older, Chanukah replaced Christmas. So our kids wouldn’t feel left out we gave them a gift every day. Something special at the beginning or the end and small presents in-between such as you might put in a stocking. As Chanukah lasts eight days it more than compensated for Christmas!

Each night of Chanukah we light a candle on the special eight branched candlestick known as the Chanukiah or the Chanukah menorah. At the end of the eight days all eight candles are lit. Actually nine – because there is an extra candle on the Chanukah menorah that’s used to light all the others.

There are Chanukah parties, songs, games and special Chanukah foods such as donuts and latkas. A spinning top – “the dreidel” is spun. Raisins are won or lost depending on where it lands.

Our son, when he was seven, wrote a poem about Chanukah:

“How I love to go to bed with the candles shining in my head.

And when I have dreams, how lovely Chanukah seems.”

He’s now a father himself. Each year, until Covid 2020, he and his wife have made a Chanukah party for their children, friends and family. The story of Chanukah is told and acted out with costumes, arts and crafts.

 

In fact, you could say that we enjoy the best of both worlds!

 

 

HAVE SPENT THE PAST 132 DAYS DREAMING OF ESCAPE. WILL TRAVEL EVER BE THE SAME AGAIN?

Holidays are upon us.  Where are you going? Will it be Brighton, Bournemouth or Southend this year?

Or maybe somewhere a little less crowded? Barnard Castle perhaps?

Holidaying in the UK is something OH (other half) and I thought we’d be doing when we were too old, too infirm, too tired and too ill to go anywhere else.

We said we’re not getting any younger – let’s seize the day.  Travel the world, explore as much as we can because who knows what’s around the corner? Well, now we know!

I’m not only thinking of the pandemic but also of Brexit which is going to stymie many people’s travel plans. With the increased cost of travel insurance, health cover and flights – Covid or not, travel is sadly not going to be the same in the future.

So here we all are seeking out the best beaches in the UK – of which there are plenty – as long as everyone else hasn’t had the same idea of where to go.  When the weather’s good and the water’s clean then you can’t beat anywhere in the UK for a holiday. Even the food nowadays is better, thank goodness.

A little over a year ago we were in Thailand. OH (other half) had a meeting in Bangkok so we thought we’d travel there a little earlier and chill out on a beach somewhere. We ended up choosing a fabulous resort on the island of Koh Samui, a short plane ride from Bangkok.

When I see someone on TV having what looks like a fantastic meal, I start salivating.  So I won’t get you metaphorically salivating by telling you how wonderful this place was or describing the beautiful pool, the stunning scenery, the glorious beaches and the mouth watering food. I will leave all that to your imagination.

Instead I will tell you about our penultimate day.

There were kayaks on the beach so we thought we’d go out in one.   That was our first mistake. OH (other half) had paddled (if that’s the right word) a kayak a few weeks previously. But that was on a calm lake in the Cotswolds.  The water here was calm. Or so we thought. That was our second mistake.  We had spent most of the holiday swimming in the pool because the sea here – although beautifully warm – turned out to be incredibly shallow.  Or so we thought.  It was evening. No one was around aside from the guy who was manning the kayaks.  He made us put on life jackets which we did reluctantly.

Out we paddled to the line of buoys (our third mistake) – over which one was not meant to cross because there was a coral reef.  As we drew closer to the buoys something odd happened.  Waves started to roll towards us. Waves in the Pacific. Who knew?  OH attempted to steer the kayak so that we did not cross over the buoys. And you can probably guess what happened next.  The boat overturned and we fell out. And instead of the shallow water we had been expecting the sea came right up to our chests. Or, in my case, being only 5 foot one and a half inches tall, up to my neck. But we could stand. So that was good. We upturned the kayak and took off our life jackets as they were pretty cumbersome.

Then OH let out a yell. (He may even have sworn.) The camera! Before the holiday OH had bought a waterproof camera. Unbeknown to me he had brought it with on this trip and had left it on the floor of the boat. It was gone. Somewhere beneath the Pacific ocean was our camera with all our holiday photos. Lost and gone forever.  We were distraught.  We looked around for a while but the water was getting deeper and the night was beginning to fall. So we headed back with the kayak in tow. Not swimming but walking. Not waving but drowning.

Our man on the beach barely spoke English. We tried to explain about the lost camera. He tried to explain that the beach staff would try and find it in the morning when the tide had turned. Yet another mistake on our part. Who knew there were tides in the Pacific? No wonder he had insisted on the life jackets.

That evening I googled – as you do – lost cameras and found this incredible story of a camera that had been lost and found two years later.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-43579098

The next evening was our last night on the island.  The staff hadn’t found our camera so we decided to have one last look.  This time, no kayak. No life jackets. Just face masks. Not the Covid kind. Think big goggles.

We walked out to where we thought the kayak had overturned. Again the water was very deep. We started diving down to look.  We swam and dived all along the side of the line of  buoys. But not joy.  It could have been anywhere. We had not expected to find it. Nevertheless I felt disappointed at the loss of all those wonderful photos we had taken. Sights we would never see again.

OH suggested that we separate. He would look a little further in while I stayed closer to the buoys. And thus we made our way swimming and diving back towards our starting point. All of a sudden there was a loud yell from OH. Not a yell which said I’ve been stung but a yell of joy.  He had found it!  Looking down he had spotted the camera’s lanyard floating on the sea bed.  We could not believe our luck. Who would have thought it?  To say we were overjoyed is an understatement.

And amazingly, it was still working perfectly.

Have a good weekend – wherever you are in the world. Thanks for reading my blog. See you next week! 

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

 

50 SHADES OF GREY

I can count on one hand the number of times I have ever had my nails done or had any kind of beauty treatment. No Botox for me.

I didn’t dye my hair for the first time until I was in my 50s and going grey.  And I only did that when people started offering me seats and opening doors for me!

I began by dyeing my hair myself – that is to say with the help of my daughter at the start.  Then I got up the courage to do it myself.  Eventually, I ventured into a hair salon and I have never looked back. Until now.

I was the kind of person who could not bear to have any grey whatsoever showing in my very short hair. At five foot one and a half inches tall I was always aware that people would look down on me (as in from a great height not I hope for any other reason!) and see the grey tips showing.  So I went regularly to the salon for a cut and to have the roots recoloured.

Those of you who think of me as blonde (or with yellow hair according to my daughter’s children) will imagine I have the whole of my head dyed.  Not at all.  Just the root regrowth to cover up the grey.

Now here I am four months later with hair so long that I can whisk it up into a pony tail – albeit a short one.  And with long grey streaks which, amazingly, I am beginning to quite like.

My hairdresser texted me a while back to say that I could now return if I wished. But I am in no hurry. Even if there were no virus to worry about I am now interested to see what hair colour is emerging.  I am curious to let the yellow grow out and see how I look with 50 shades of grey. When we finally emerge from lockdown will I look like Miss Haversham but without the wedding dress?

OH (other half) says it suits me.  But he would say I looked good even if I had a bag over my head!  It’s not that he doesn’t look at me but I think that after nearly fifty years of marriage (Covid permitting) he continues to see me as if I am still the woman he married – which is very touching. And, to be fair, he often compliments me on how I look even when he is not being asked for an opinion.

A few years ago we were on holiday in Cannes and going out for dinner. I had put on an elegant black linen sundress for the occasion.  How do I look? I asked him before we left.  Fine was his answer.  It is his usual answer.  How was the dinner? Fine. How’s my hair? Fine. How do I look? Fine.  I think the only time he would not answer fine would be if I asked him, how’s my driving?

There we were walking hand in hand along the Croisette in Cannes where all the beautiful people go to see and be seen.  It was a pleasant warm summer evening. Everyone was out strolling before dinner. I felt wonderful. All was right with the world. Then someone behind me tapped me on the shoulder. I turned. It was a young woman walking with her friend. “Excuse me, she said in loud Australian English, “but I think you might like know that you have your dress on inside out”.

So ladies, unless you are still on your honeymoon, take my advice and beware when your other half says you look fine.

Find a complete stranger and ask them instead.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

30 APRIL 2020 – 46TH DAY IN LOCKDOWN

I saw only one aeroplane yesterday.  It’s so eerie seeing the sky empty of planes. 

Not long before lockdown we had Extinction Rebellion telling the world to stop flying. Looks like we listened.

I have read that pollution levels are dropping more each day. Not just in the UK but in cities all over the world. And that this coronavirus crisis could trigger the largest ever annual fall in CO2 emissions, more than during any previous economic crisis or period of war. Ironically, since Covid-19 affects the lungs, those of us who are not infected are breathing more easily.  Asthma sufferers are feeling better too.  And we all know that we can now hear birdsong far more clearly. Not just at dawn but right through the day.

Last year OH (other half) and I did our bit for the environment.  Instead of flying to France we made two long, relaxing train journeys from Kings Cross to Marseille. I say long but when you factor in the time you would normally spend getting to the airport, the time you spend in lines to check in your luggage and go through security, the time you spend hanging round at the airport waiting to board your flight – only to find that it has been delayed – then the train journey isn’t that much longer after all. And you arrive at your destination far less care worn and harassed.

In my advertising days I wrote press ads for Sealink Ferries. We used to say that your holiday began the minute you were on board. Train journeys are just the same. But not, alas, plane journeys. And now they’re telling us that if we are fortunate enough to get this lockdown relaxed and decide to fly abroad again that we will probably experience four hour waits at airports. Those of us who have used EasyJet won’t find the idea of four hour delays so unusual.

One of my early memories of flying was travelling to the States to meet my American relatives. I was 21.  On the plane I was sat in-between an elderly woman (probably the age I am now!) with a weak bladder and a much younger woman who was heavily pregnant.  They took turns throughout the flight in getting up to go to the loo and as a consequence I didn’t get any sleep.

Over the years OH and I have travelled extensively.  One time we had been visiting the States with our two small sons in tow and bought loads of books to bring back to the UK.

At Kennedy Airport, when we checked in our luggage we found it was seriously overweight. We could not meet the extra cost they demanded we pay. What were we to do?

I’m speaking here of a time long before the kind of security we have today, when there was far greater freedom and barely any security at all at airports. But even in those far off days your luggage still had to adhere to the required weight.

Seeing our anxiety, the guy at the check-in desk suggested that we ask someone else to take the luggage on our behalf.  Imagine doing that today!  “Just find a lone businessman who isn’t carrying any luggage and see if he’ll take yours,” was his advice.

I approached every available guy who looked friendly. Some seeing a young woman approaching them looked just a little bit too friendly. “What have you got in there?” they would question, pointing to my baggage.  “Drugs?”

“No just nappies” (diapers) I would say sweetly, “and a few books.”  Eventually one kind guy took pity on us and checked in a case on our behalf.

However, when our plane landed at Heathrow it was met by a posse of security guards and we were escorted off the plane into a private area where we were cross examined.  Our luggage was opened up and thoroughly checked before allowing us to continue with our onward journey. We still have many of those books  – the Berenstein Bear stories are now a particular favourite with our grandchildren.

More recently, about eight years ago, we were travelling from Taiwan via San Francisco and thence on to Washington.  First we had to go through immigration.   Our man asked us the normal questions. Where were we going? What was the purpose of our visit? And so on.   OH produced the required documents and showed them.  Normally, when people see that OH works in cancer research they are really interested in his work and we have never had any problems.  However, this time, the passport guy – whose name I remember was Michael Lee – frowned.

“I regret to tell you,” he said seriously,  “that you will not be allowed into the United States of America.”

The earth could have swallowed us up we were so astonished. Rooted to the spot. Dumbstruck. Not allowed into America? Why? What on earth were we going to do?

But before we could say anything, the immigration official smiled and said, “April Fool!”  Followed by, “You should see your faces!”

We had left Taiwan on April 1st – and here in San Francisco it was still April 1st.  Who has ever heard of anyone in immigration making a joke – ever? We wondered afterwards if he had been saying it to all the people coming through or had just singled us out? We will never know.

 

 

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems