You need a second mortgage to park in Norwich city centre. When we moved into the micro-loft, we flogged the sexy-arsed Mégane (to my sister) and Liam now rides the bus to work. He no longer risks life and limb on the narrow country lanes with their tail-gating yokels, blind bends, loose livestock and black ice.
Bus travel in Norfolk belongs to a bygone era. People still (mostly) queue at bus stops and drivers apologise for being late. Just imagine that! It’s the kind of civilised behaviour long since abandoned in London, a place where the law of the urban jungle prevails and it’s survival of the fittest. The last time I visited the Smoke, a bright red double decker actually yelled at me. Over and over it screamed…
This bus is under attack. Call 999!
I’m delighted to confirm it was a slip of the driver’s wrist. Still, it was enough to wake the dead and give nervy tourists on-the-spot seizures. The hapless driver was frantically trying to switch off the announcement as the bus cruised slowly by. After events in Paris, Beirut, Turkey and elsewhere, I felt his pain.
The beauty of renting is that we’re not responsible for all those annoying little things that inevitably go wrong around the home. We had a dodgy boiler that refused to heat water (though it was more than happy to heat the radiators, even when not asked). Our friendly landlady despatched a boiler-suited chatty man with cute dimples. He installed a brand new heat exchanger (No idea? Me neither). I provided tea for his labours and listened intently to my boiler man recall his boiler tales. A dull date on a Saturday night, I thought. Despite the cute dimples.
Then we became undone by a temperamental washing machine that only spun when it could be arsed. The reluctant spin went on for weeks. We were seriously in danger of being buried under sopping piles of dripping undies. Our landlady dispatched a smiley man in baggy bottoms and a corporate polo top. I provided tea for his labours as he tried to wring a final spin out of the moody machine. “It’s knackered,” he concluded. His home-spun words were music to my ears. I almost invited him out for dinner.
A week later, our landlady despatched a replacement appliance escorted by a thick-set older man with an even thicker-set accent. He was accompanied by a spotty young apprentice. “Where’s it plugged in?” asked the old man. “Absolutely no idea,” I replied. After a lot of huffing and puffing, hauling and heaving, he found the socket behind the fridge. Then I watched him slice the live wire with a Stanley knife. The loud bang almost gave me a seizure. Unlike me, he wasn’t the least bit perturbed by the black flume and strong whiff of electrical burn or the fact that he’d blown all the sockets in the kitchen. The young spotty thing was shocked into silence. For one brief moment, I thought I’d been beamed back to Bodrum where all workers are fully qualified electricians/plumbers/carpenters/roofers/rocket scientists (delete as appropriate).
Laurel and Hardy didn’t get tea for their trouble, I can tell you. Well, the kettle wasn’t working.
After the big freeze comes the inevitable big thaw as temperatures rise to their seasonal norm. The glaciers of Norwich are gently melting to a sloppy slush of dirty grey and iced water gently trickles away into sewers. My bruised back is gradually recovering from my big trip and I can venture out once more without fear of slippage and indignity. Before the cold snap becomes yesterday’s news, I give one last cold snap of my own – our patio table looking like a giant iced sponge on a silver cake stand.
Norwich City Council in its municipal wisdom has decided that gritting pavements isn’t their bag. While city streets are generally clear, the continuing arctic snap means that unsuspecting pedestrians risk their dignities and their coccyxes attempting to skate along the glacial footpaths. People are dropping like nine pins judging by the amateur footage taken by a voyeuristic resident of Duke Street. Yesterday, I was gingery trying to navigate the Tombland icecap. My thick-tread winter boots did not save me from an arse-over-tit, ice scream tumble that nearly put me into an early grave. It hurt. I think I’ll sue. It’s all the rage these days.
St Andrew’s and Blackfriars’ Halls (known collectively as ‘The Halls’) is a 13th century medieval complex at the end of our street and the best preserved friary in England. The riot of sturdy buttresses, hammer beams and Gothic arches is one of the ‘Norwich 12‘ – a list of the most iconic buildings in the city. When Henry VIII decided to strip the Catholic Church of all its power and wealth, the friary was dissolved, the friars were cast out into the cold and the buildings were put up for sale. They were saved by the intervention of the Mayor of Norwich who took them off fat Harry’s hands for £81, pledging to use the halls “…for the good of the citizens, for fairs and feasting.” The Halls have been used for secular knees-ups ever since. Carrying on the 450 year old party tradition, St Andrew’s Hall has just played grand host to the Norwich Beer Festival, a six day piss-up sponsored by the Norwich and Norfolk branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). Real ales are for real males judging by the herd of nerds in knitwear corralled outside a side door having a quick fag before resuming their drunken orgy and sucking the kegs dry. I was so fascinated by the species that I walked straight into a lamp post and nearly knocked myself out. And I was the sober one. Cheers!
Today’s guest post is from Dina, a Bodrum Belle of class and distinction. Delicious Dina and her partner, Aussie Dave, run a successful gulet charter business here in old Bodrum Town called South Cross Blue Cruising. Dina is civilised and erudite and Dave is, well, Australian, though he does expose his more artistic side in oils. They’re rather good. I know what you’re thinking. An artistic Aussie? An oxymoron, a paradox, a contradiction in terms, it can’t be true. But it is.
The summer of 2011 in Bodrum will be remembered as the summer of excessive ambulance sirens. Almost hourly and sometimes in simultaneous, harmonic dischord, ambulance and fire truck sirens have dominated the normal Bodrum hum of cicadas*, clinking of tea glasses, scooters and verbose neighbors discussing the latest diet fads.
In addition to the government operated national hospital’s ambulances, there are a plethora of private hospitals and clinics which have purchased a cargo minivan, painted the sides with red lettered AMBULANS and attached flashing blue lights with a very loud siren. The gleam in the drivers’ eyes of these newly sprouted emergency vehicles is one of sheer thrill as they weave in and out of the congested Konacik highway traffic, delivering patients with symptoms ranging from heat stroke to broken digits as quickly as possible. However, as a citizen and as a driver, I find it weary and upsetting to hear the sirens continually, as would anyone who has either had to be in one as a patient or follow a loved one in such a vehicle. A quick check on Dr. Google reveals that there are specific rules in many countries as to when lights, sirens, or both together may be legally used. When I’ve got a hangover isn’t one of them.
*A note from Jack.
I didn’t know cicadas existed here in Turkey. These fascinating insects live underground for 17 years before emerging en-masse to breed. I found this You Tube Clip from the BBC’s Life in the Undergrowth series with the incomparable David Attenborough. It’s about Yankee cicadas but you’ll get the drift.
Nowadays, who pays attention to aircraft safety announcements when fiddling uncomfortably in a cramped seat and thumbing through the glossy but vacuous in-flight magazine? Been there, done that, know the drill. We’re off on our holidays. Who wants to be reminded that we may die on the way? There’s no such thing as an atheist at 30,000 feet when the engines fail. Airlines sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to grab the attention of their passengers. Who hasn’t chuckled at the camp flying mattress flapping his arms about like a drag queen as he points out the emergency exits. Remember your nearest exit may be behind you. Pegasus, the no frills Turkish airline went one step further. It kept our attention and made us laugh.
The Turkish version is even cuter
In other words, when you hear the brace, brace announcement put your head between your legs and kiss your arse goodbye.