Friday, September 23, 2011

Five Years

Sept 23rd. Pat died five years ago today:


This photo was taken at Sue's wedding (19th May, 2001). It's one of the few that I have of Pat and me together. Behind us, you can see Brian and Uncle Bernard engaged in a heated discussion on parking options in Totteridge Drive.

Although Pat had never enjoyed good health, her sudden death caught us all by surprise; especially poor Dave, of course, who was with her at the time in their holiday home in Minehead.

As the sad news filtered down through distraught family and friends, I was oblivious to everything for a few happy hours, immersed as I was in our town’s fiestas.

As we sat on the square, a lovely rainbow appeared out of nowhere, screaming to be looked at:


Rainbow in Aretxabaleta (23rd September, 2006). I took this photo with my old mobile; I’ve always been a sucker for rainbows, and even more so since this one. The building is the primary school, in front of which stands a makeshift stage for whoever was performing that evening.

A couple of minutes later, Dad rang with the news and— well, you can imagine the rest. Suffice to say, Pat was a wonderful wife, a magnificent mother, a dutiful daughter, a superb sister, a faithful friend, a caring colleague and a nosey neighbour (Sorry, Pat, I couldn’t think of any positive two-syllable adjectives beginning with N.) Yes, I know, all the clich├ęs, but what do you expect her brother to say?
Exactly three weeks later – on 14th October – my favourite father-in-law died. Like Pat, Vicente had a heart of gold . . . and a heart too old:


Vicente. When he smiled, you smiled with him; when he laughed, you laughed with him; and when he lost his temper, you simply shut up, and waited for the storm to pass.
Benita, my mother-in-law, followed Vicente everywhere, every single day, lunch and dinner of their married life: 49 years and 4 months. That was cruel not letting them make their golden anniversary, and it’s not hard to imagine the massive hole that Vicente’s death left in Benita’s life; in our lives too, of course.
Well, that was a cheerful post, wasn’t it? To mark the occasion I chose Five Years, a cheery song about death and so on. Pat’s favourite Bowie songs were The Laughing Gnome – sorry, Pat, no chance! Well, OK, just a quick link – and Sorrow, which, in retrospect, might have been a more suitable title for this post.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Games Without Frontiers



Here are a few games that you too can play at home.

Dump your bags here!
What’s the point of taking your bags to your bedroom when you can dump them in the Baggage Meeting Point in the hall? As the bags pile up, it’s fun occasionally to sift through them, trying to identify their owner, their function and whether the bag is just visiting, on its way in, out, up, down . . . or here to stay for ever.

Open those doors!
In this game, you enter as many rooms as possible, making sure not to close any doors behind you when you leave. For extra fun, wait until your victim has got up to close the living-room door and sat down again to continue reading, then enter and leave the room again. Repeat this process until you hear somebody banging their head against the armchair headrest. This is the sign that it’s time to give them a break.

Open those drawers and cupboards!
The kitchen is the best place for this one, we find, the idea being to open as many drawers and cupboards as possible in the space of 20 or 30 minutes. For best results, the husband should try putting away all the lunch plates, pots and cutlery, while the wife takes everything out again in preparation for dinner. If you enjoy this kind of mayhem, try adding random phone calls to and from family and/or friends, plus two hungry kids wanting to know when their dinner will be ready.

Pile up that rubbish!
We find it’s amazing how much rubbish you can squeeze into one rubbish bag. We are very environment-friendly in my household, so we also have a recycling bag into which you can throw anything which looks vaguely like a piece of paper. Occasionally, both bags are emptied mysteriously overnight – nobody has ever commented on this – and the whole process begins again.

Fill that clothes basket!
It’s amazing how many clothes and towels you can get into the same basket. Getting them out again is much harder, of course, but that simply adds to the fun. Once a day, the basket is emptied mysteriously and the whole process begins again.

Change those lightbulbs!
Of course, to change lightbulbs, you need to buy new ones first – and have you seen the price of lightbulbs these days? As a working rule, we wait until each room is down to its last lightbulb and then I go down to the bank to ask for a loan before heading off to the supermarket. Once home, I usually discover that none of the lightbulbs fit, try not to tell my wife this, and sneak off back to the supermarket while she’s emptying the clothes basket.

Answer that phone!
In this game, when the phone rings, you have to let somebody else – anybody else – answer it. Basically, this is a test of endurance, in which the man about the house invariably loses. Needless to say, the call itself is never for the poor sod who picks up the phone.

How about you? Would you care to share your games with us here?