God Bless America

Insurance is easy cash for the fat cats, as simple as falling off a log. When we shipped the tarnished family silver back to Blighty, cover was compulsory: no pay, no way. It’s one of life’s expenses that you put down to experience and write off, like the unrequited Christmas card to an ungrateful relative. Regular readers may remember that our tatty heirlooms were raided by the fuzz and that an ostentatious hi-fi speaker was badly damaged. Time to claim, we thought – in for a penny, in for pound. In went the claim, back came the cash. A check (Yankee spelling), landed on the mat for $250. God Bless America and God bless Travel Guard, Inc. Of course, by the time all the middlemen down the monetary line took their cut, I only ended up with £130.

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Liam and I registered with our local GP practice. The serene surgery is a far cry from the NHS bedlam we left behind in inner city Walthamstow. Natural politeness reigned supreme and you could hear a syringe drop in the waiting room. The entire process took no more than ten minutes. I have wobbly legs to check and periodic limb movement disorder to re-diagnose so I booked my first appointment. I was greeted by a smiley Germanic quack who listened intently to my dancing calf story and examined the test results I had shipped over from Turkey. She checked my blood pressure. “A little high,” she said, “but that’s because I’m a scary doctor.” We laughed. “Best we re-do the tests,” she continued. I’m booked in for a fasting blood test in a few days and I’ve been given a home blood pressure kit to check the numbers every waking hour on the hour for the next week. I suppose I’d better cut down on the sauce a bit. Frau Doc has also referred me to a consultant cardiologist for an arterial MOT. Apparently, I book the appointment online. I have a sneaking suspicion that Teutonic efficiency will cut through the NHS flab like a hot knife through butter.

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Homes Sweet Homes

Homes Sweet Homes

The other day, my nephew and namesake asked me how many times I’d moved digs down the long, long years. I had to trawl the deepest recesses of my scatter brain to dredge up faded memories of homes sweet homes, tallying first with my fat fingers, then with my stunted toes. My digital sum revealed that our 17th century weaver’s gaff in Norwich is also my 17th home. It has a certain poetic ring to it don’t you think? Over the years, I’ve done home and away, foreign and familiar, new and old. Until now, I’d never done artisan (that’s homes not men, by the way). I’d never done public house either but it turns out that our new croft was converted into a pub in 1760. The first licensee was a certain Samuel Westall. Sam was a worsted weaver by trade but must have thought pulling pints and spinning yarns would be more profitable than downing pints and spinning yarn. Perhaps Sam saw the writing on the wall (though he probably couldn’t read what he saw) and decided to turn in his wheel before Jenny started her spinning. The pub was called the Kings Head and served up real ale to the drunks of Norwich for over 170 years until its sad demise in 1932. Somehow, I always knew I’d end up on my back in a bar.

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We’re Lovin’ It

The pictures are hooked, the classic Habitat vases are strategically placed in medieval nooks, the beds are nattily dressed and the gay scatter cushions have been scattered gaily. Our Gallic Lady of the House gazed down on us enigmatically as we popped the cork on the French fizz and toasted to a job well done. The ex-semigrey repats are in and we’re sorted. Liam’s loving the kitchen and loving my Radio gaga. We’re wallowing like proverbial pigs. We’ve finally sussed the complex recycling palavar. The slightest infringement of the rules and the feeble boys with their feeble wrists won’t take the crap. It wasn’t like this with my little plastic save-the-world box in Walthamstow and it certainly ain’t Turkey.

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Our tatty chattels finally made it across the high seas, landing safely at the port of Felixstowe in Suffolk. Her Maj’s Revenue and Customs eyed the consignment with cynical suspicion and decided to x-ray the boxes for contraband Turkish delight. This public service was provided at our expense, incurring a charge of £100. Isn’t this a bit like being frisked by the fuzz and paying for the privilege? The boys in blue found nothing untoward and the family silver was released. That was that, or so we naively thought.

We received word from the carriers that our precious cargo would be delivered by a 19 metre road train (their words) and if they couldn’t park within 15 metres of our new gaff we could kiss our goods goodbye (my words). When I pointed out that the medieval streets of old Norwich are characteristically narrow and that a 60 foot mega truck was a tad excessive for our modest six square metre load, they recanted and decided that a van of standard girth would suffice.

D Day arrived. The van pulled up outside and two large gentlemen swung into action, huffing and puffing as they piled the boxes into neat rows inside our new living room. The entire sweaty exercise was completed in under 30 minutes. As we unpacked each box, it was obvious that spooky hands had been fondling our family jewels. A shattered lamp emerged from one battered box. Glass fragments from the same lamp magically appeared in a different box. Hey presto. The backs of photo frames had been removed and replaced with the clips left open (the same photo frames suffered the same fate when they delivered to Turkey four years previously). Most distressingly, the base of one of our tall super-sleek speakers had been hack-sawed off and the broken thread lay discarded at the bottom of the box. Just as well we smuggled out the rechargeable marital aids in our hand luggage. Clearly, this bump and grind was much more than a bit of rough handling by a hairy docker. Who would have thought?

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