When I took on this job it felt like I’d been set free. I used to work in a warehouse in Coventry, it was soul destroying but I always put a brave face on it. “No point in complaining”, I’d tell anyone who asked, “We’ve all got to earn a crust and its a damn site better than working down the mines!”. In reality I felt the minutes, the hours, the days, the years slipping through my fingers and when I pulled up to work for the start of another eight hour shift, another eight hours of my life slipping through my fingers I just wanted to turn the car away and escape. We all feel like don’t we? Most of us have kids and with kids comes responsibility and with responsibility comes a mortgage and that’s why we sell our time to the highest bidder. I digress, we were’t talking about the dreadful warehouse years, we were talking about the current bloody awful Africa years.


So a friend of a friend of mine recognised something in me that my bosses at my various dead end jobs never had and I was head-hunted for a firm that needed foremen to travel around the world and oversee their operations. It was a bit different to operating a forklift truck but they obviously spotted something that no-one else had seen because it turns out I’m bloody good at this job.  I’m good with people and I get along with the local labour-force that are the ones doing the grunt-work that I was doing back in Coventry. I absolutely love it, or I did absolutely love it until I ended up in fly -blown Ethiopia on a job that seems never ending. I should have been here for 3 months, its been nine so far and the end is in sight. I’m not a racist but – said every racist ever – but the Africans see things in a very different way to us first world ex-colonial rulers. I know we helped cause it and I know I can’t apply my values to other cultures but by god they cannot think for themselves.

Yesterday I came to work to find one of the workers trying to hammer nails in with a hammerhead, not a hammer as the handle had been removed. After much wheedling it transpired than the handle had been taken home and burnt on the family fire. Now I know wood is scarce but still…


I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather recently, vomiting and diarrhoea and the whites of my eyes have gone a peculiar shade of yellow so I went down to the clinic to see the doctor and I tested positive for hepatitis. It pretty common out here but the problem is, the one I’ve got is sexually transmitted, so how I’m going to explain that to my wife when I get home is a bit of a tricky one.

The moral of this story is don’t get pissed with the workers when you’re away in sub Saharan Africa and definitely don’t end up shagging a 23 year old African who was so beautiful she could have been a model, because no matter how great it seemed at the time Hep C is not pleasant and bloody hell, your wife is going to kill you if the disease doesn’t!


My Most Embarrassing Moment

I’m struggling to think of a recent example of being embarrassed, there are a few “oh dear moments” like when I left a blood stain on a chair during a particularly heavy period, but embarrassment seems to be a thing of the past. There are two possible reasons for this, either I’m toughening up and embarrassment is actually a thing of the past or, and I think this is more likely,  I’m half way to senility and can’t even remember what I had for breakfast any more.

When I was an awkward pre-teen I liked to try out all sorts of different activities. I’d read about something interesting in the Coventry Evening Telegraph, pick up the phone and organise a meeting. In this way I became a tenor horn player for the Jaguar Youth Brass Band (and could be found enthusiastically blowing away at Tractor Fairs Warwickshire-wide until I discovered Cinzano) but amazingly that wasn’t embarrassing.

I also became a member of the Coventry Canoe Society which was based in the Coventry Canal basin. I learnt the ropes  by falling out regularly in the stinking canal water, which I’d been told by my mother would cause typhus, TB and all sorts of other third world diseases if swallowed. My ability to be mortified at the age of 12 was sky high, starting with the fact that the instructor (who I had a little crush on) was called Robin Belcher.

The kayaks that we used with extremely fast and extremely unstable, it took weeks to even be able to stay upright, let alone let alone pick up any speed or turn around.

I’d just about mastered the ability to move forward sluggishly without falling in when the opportunity came about for our whole group to go away camping for the weekend for Hurst Pierrpoint kayak races.

I’d never been away from home before, let alone with a group of almost strangers, but I was eager for adventure.  Mum packed me three days worth of spam sandwiches in an enormous tupperware container and away I went.

The whole thing was overwhelming, we boarded a Variety Club coach (I think Mr Belcher must have worked for them in the week) and headed off singing along to the radio and licking the windows of the coach whenever we passed a car. Listening to Come on Eileen still makes me flinch.

We arrived and I was entered into the beginners race, to the end of the reservoir and back, it might only have been 400 m but having only ever kayaked around the canal basin it seemed like miles. Also there were waves, quite big waves, we didnt even get wavelets on the canal. So I bellied up to the quay,  got in the kayak and promptly fell in. I was hauled out and helped, dripping wet, back into the kayak, this time I managed to stay upright.

The starting pistol fired, I was immediately lengths behind the field, my arms felt like lead, my face was burning, I wanted my mum. Everyone had finished by the time I was half way round, so it was just me and the support RIB making our way back at snail’s pace, watched by the world, his mother and all of my team mates.

I took to my bed for the rest of the weekend, hiding out in my tent and eating spam sandwiches, too embarrassed to show my face.

Still I lived to tell the tale, and now I’m older I’m proud of young me. Its true what they say, its not the winning its the taking place that’s important.




The smell of an orange

An orange smell has a high note and a low note. The low note smells like a perfectly ripe orange tastes, sweet and juicy. Then there’s the high note, the tart tang of oily zest. It’s the taste of childhood, when the skin was too tough and you were too impatient to wait for your mum to peel it, biting into the skin and tasting that bitter peel that made your lip curl.


Pondering on the colour blue. Is it cheating to pick a colour you know will be all around you for the whole walk? I have lived in Mallorca for 15 years, its hard for me to believe its been so long, and blue is the colour that defines the island and blue is one of the main reasons that I haven’t returned to the UK.  Life here can be tough, it’s not all cheap red wine and paella. The threat of the Greek exit and the subsequent weak euro means that the cost of living in Spain has increased. It’s difficult under the new austerity laws, and the government are not above inventing and collecting taxes to bail them out of the hole they have created for themselves. There is an extremely high rate of unemployment – over 50% amongst the under 30′s but you would never know.

The people who live here and the people that have adopted Mallorca are, I’m convinced, buoyed up by the colour blue. Its hard to stay down when the sun is shining and the sky is that mesmerising cobalt blue, its easier to forget that overdraft when you know that the Mediterranean Sea is just a stroll away and you can sit for free trying to differentiate between the sea and the sky.

The buildings here may not be as striking as those in Santorini but the shutter’s are often painted the same deep blue as the sky. In the last village I lived there was an old photograph of the high street in the local pub, it had been taken two generations ago, but could easily have been taken yesterday, it’s just a couple of cars that give it away, the church, the  shuttered buildings, the old people sitting chatting on the wall, they all look as they did 100 years ago. On that very same high street there are a couple of beautiful white buildings, with blue tile frontages and blue shutters that used to lift my heart every time I passed them. Where I live now they tend to opt for a dark green shutter, its not quite the same.

So blue sky, blue sea, blue shutters, and now I come to think of it, blue mussels in that cheap paella and are those blue tints in that cheap red wine? The blues kept firmly at bay bythe colour blue.


You can’t judge a book by it’s cover

You used to be able to literally judge a book by its cover. Pre-Kindle if I was feeling a bit under the weather and fancied a day lounging on the sofa I could send my lovely boyfriend down to the local bookshop and ask him to get something with a black cover and big silver writing, something where the author’s name was much bigger than the title, safe in the knowledge that I’d get something to keep interested and on the edge of my seat for a few hours. Conversely an orange penguin, we all know, means you’ll be educating yourself by may nod off half way through. ( Aside: I picked one up the other day in a second hand bookshop and was astounded by the number of words they used to cram on the page in the old days). Post-Kindle, or I suppose that should be during-Kindle, its becoming a bit more difficult. The digital world is awash with self published nonsense and the reviews are more often than not by teens or tweens. So in the Brave New World (Orange Penguin) I am finding myself half reading more and more dross, as it seems that you can no longer judge a e-book by its cover…

Rounders on the beach

Rounders is exhausting

We were supposed to meet Tracey & Sarah on the beach in Magalluf for rounders at 11 but our car developed a weird popping sound the day before so we ended up leaving it in Santa Ponsa car park and going home on the scooter. We decided to check the oil pre-rounders and discovered the dipstick was broken off and so we couldn’t tell if it was empty of not, as we stood around scratching our heads another Citroen Picasso pulled into the car park, so we asked if we could borrow his dipstick, a phrase I don’t imagine has been said that many times in the history of the world. Imagine our surprise and the great hilarity that ensued when his dipstick was also broken! You could work that up into some kind of anecdote if the had the brains and the wherewithal! I however don’t so I regaled people all afternoon with it and then decided it was only me that found it remotely amusing, however I bet Gordon Kaye would have laughed with me not at me…

Post rounders had lunch and a pint at Tom Browns (he’s from Manchester you know)…

In the evening we headed back to Santa P for St Patricks, sat drinking expensive guinness till we were drunk enough to enjoy the music. The band did an AMAZING spanish accented cover of Bohemian Rhapsody, which was amazeballs. Went and had a kebab and ended up with a beef filled carpet roll without an iota of salad, almost sulked but think I just about managed to stay adult..