Ant Wars

We returned from our glorious Greek idyll to a heatwave and an invasion of tiny black ants. The little buggers were climbing up and down our narrow cottage stairs, marching across our dining room floor and, horror of horrors, crawling all over the Pinot Grigio.

I know ants have their uses – helping to maintain a healthy topsoil and all that, and generally we live in harmonious co-existence. But that’s outside in the garden where they belong, not under our floorboards. They had to go.

Not in the house. Not on my watch!

Liam said.

He fought back with chemicals – sprays, powder and traps – a toxic assault of shock and awe. If he’d had napalm or mustard gas in his arsenal, he’d have used them too.

Then emerged the fatter, horny variety with wings, lusting after their mid-air shag-fest, triggered, no doubt, by the steamy weather. But instead of taking flight for their annual orgy, they staggered out of various cracks and crevices like drunks at closing time. We’d won the battle but have we won the war? Only time will tell. Odds are the colony has been living beneath our feet for ages. I’ve read that the queen can survive for 25 years. She might see me out.

Tomorrow belongs to the creatures that creep and crawl.

Tenerife: Was it Worth it?

Not really. Our digs were great – comfy and well-dressed – and the staff were fantastic but, let’s face it, the point of any holiday in the sun is, well, the sun. There’s a bit of a clue in the title. And there was precious little sun in Tenerife.

“The sun’ll come out tomorrow,”

Liam sang.

And it did for a couple of afternoons only to disappear once again behind a thick blanket of cloud. Talking of blankets, we put extra layers on our bed to keep warm.

There were no sunny coffee mornings on the terrace, no quick dips in the pool to cool down or sultry evenings on the sauce. We tried to make the best of a bad lot – drinking through it at various watering holes in buzzy Puerto de la Cruz with its trendy old town.

We were rather taken with the Fanny Bar

…and the murals

…and then there was the graffiti.

We even managed a day trip to La Orotava, a pretty inland Canarian town.

But in the end, when rain was forecast, we thought sod this for a game of soldiers and came home a week early. Still, as disappointing as it was, we try to keep a sense of proportion. After all, there are real soldier games going on in the world.

And there’s always Greece in July to look forward to, assuming our flight isn’t cancelled again.

Top of the Pansy Pops 2021

It’s been a queer year all told – locked and unlocked, masks on, masks off, masks on again, thrice jabbed, and a foreign foray thwarted. Unsurprisingly, 2021 pansy posts were a mixed harvest. I kept the memory of a treasured friend alive and ranted on about the unwelcome return of a nasty little word I thought had long been consigned to the dustbin of history. Then there were the lockdown tales keeping the home fires burning, sparkling art from rural Asia Minor and the interviews and reviews that came out of the blue.

2021 was also the year I acquired my very own looney toon stalker, Marsha the Troll, who regularly sends me rambling rants from the other side of the Pond – always incomprehensible, often threatening and sometimes with porn attached. I feel like a celebrity.

Here’s the cream of the crop for 2021 together with two evergreen posts from 2020 and 2014 bringing up the rear.

A Tale of Two Villages

We queued up at the checkout with two bottles of Majestik and a tub of Cadbury’s Celebrations, attracting the curiosity of the shopper ahead of us. She was loading her groceries into a large tartan shopping trolley, her eyes darting quickly between me and Liam as if she had suddenly recognised long lost friends. I … Continue reading A Tale of Two Villages

Forever Young

Last month saw us in London for a very special commemoration. An old friend died suddenly in early 2020 and it would have been his sixtieth birthday on 25th August. We couldn’t let the day go unmarked so we threw him a boozy late lunch in Soho attended by twenty of his nearest and dearest. … Continue reading Forever Young

Get the Bloody Jab

We just can’t wait to get back into the theatre – we’ve a glittering chorus of touring musicals queued up – from the modern: Six, Waitress, The Book of Mormon to the classics: Bedknobs and Broomsticks and The Sound of Music. Few trades have suffered from COVID more than the performing arts. The only sure … Continue reading Get the Bloody Jab

Queer as Folk

I was bullied from the moment I first flounced through the school gates. Nothing physical, you understand. That would be unseemly at a traditional grammar school with a 400-year-old charter granted by the Virgin Queen. Besides, beatings were reserved for the teachers to dish out. I suppose I hardly helped my cause by being a … Continue reading Queer as Folk

Nothing Beats a Good Story

I don’t get interviewed much these days. Back in my pansies heyday everyone wanted a piece of me; queuing up, they were. But now we’ve settled into county life, I’ve become old dog, old tricks, descending into idyllic rural obscurity. But then up popped a request from Nicola MacCameron, a voiceover artist at Mic And … Continue reading Nothing Beats a Good Story

A Final Farewell

We can’t complain. Village life is calm and cuddly. But when the easing of lockdown let us travel further afield for the first time in around seven months, we packed our bags and were off like a shot. The bright lights of London beckoned and not even lousy weather could dampen our spirits. Travelling across … Continue reading A Final Farewell

Bring Out Your Dead

Before the miracle of modern medicine and universal healthcare, life for most was plagued by illness or the fear of it. People croaked in their beds from mundane diseases that today we pop a pill for. Many a cottage stairwell was too narrow for a coffin so some featured a trap door between floors called … Continue reading Bring Out Your Dead

And For My Next Trick

We’re currently living next to a building site. A local developer is chucking up a few more bungalows, like the world really needs a few more bungalows – affordable housing for the cash-strapped, yes, more well-appointed dwellings with double garages for the well-heeled, no. It’s a lost cause and we’re resigned to it. While a … Continue reading And For My Next Trick

Jack in the Bottle

That flicker of light at the end of the lockdown tunnel is getting brighter. Our days in the sun (or beer garden) will soon return. Meanwhile, we continue to do what we can to stay safe and sane. I hear sales of jigsaws have gone off like a rocket. It’s not the sport for us. … Continue reading Jack in the Bottle

Oi Speak Narrfuk Oi Do

Anyone living on these damp little islands and anyone who visits them knows that Britain is a nation of a thousand and one accents and dialects. Homespun and imported lingo twists and turns through town and county. We may live in a global village and in a mass media world where ‘Globalish’ (the cut-down version … Continue reading Oi Speak Narrfuk Oi Do

Wishing everyone a healthier, safer 2022 and a new normal more like the old.

Jurassic City

It’s been a pretty dismal summer, weather-wise. The shortest of heatwaves in June, a washed-out July and a blanket of low cloud for most of August. Still, we didn’t suffer the death and devastation of flash floods, wilting temperatures and rampant wildfires that afflicted Turkey and much of continental Europe so I guess we should count our lucky stars. And who needs the sun anyway when the streets of Norwich are lit up by brightly coloured dinosaurs?

Over the last few years we’ve had an invasion of psychedelic gorillas, a parade of glittery elephants, the flight of the camp dragons, a husk of vivid hares and a swarm of big bugs. Now it’s the turn of dazzling dinosaurs on the Go Go Discover T Rex Trail inspired by the arrival in Norwich Cathedral of Dippy, the Natural History Museum’s iconic Diplodocus cast. It’s the final gig of his nationwide tour.

Image courtesy of Norwich Cathedral

Twenty-one individually designed T Rex sculptures meander through the centre of the city as a guided route to the Cathedral – just in time for school’s out for Summer. If God can’t tempt the kids into church come Sunday, Dippy surely will.

Here’s a small sample. I guess my favourite ought to be the rainbow T Rex stomping all over Millennium Plain but actually it’s Sherlock on Cathedral Close that gets my vote.

As usual, the trail is all in aid of Break, a charity providing support to young people in care. They’ve also covered Cambridge in a herd of colourful cows. That’s a lot of painted udders.

Summer of Laughs (Part 1)

It’s been a comedy season of fun and laughter, despite the COVID blues and the hit and miss weather. After drag gags from the extraordinary La Voix a couple of weeks ago, we were back at Interlude in the Close for another comic treat – Henning Wehn, the self-styled ‘German Comedy Ambassador for Teutonic jolliness’.

A regular on many a TV panel show, Henning has been living and working in Britain for twenty years and provides a ballsy view of the life on these islands from a continental perspective, always delivered with wit, insight and affection.

His was a show in preview called Das Neuen Materialen Nachten (The New Materials Night) – a brand new routine, testing the water before a big tour. And there was plenty of water to go round – our bottom halves were soaked through as we rushed along Cathedral Close and squelched across the sodden playing fields of the lower school. Liam was wearing trainers – well you can imagine.

What Henning ambitiously called a masterpiece under construction was more a work in progress but there was plenty of witty banter, and the jokes old and new made sure the angry clouds didn’t dampen our spirits. The wine helped, of course.