Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Over My Shoulder

Monday 11 February

Well, I’m not, as it happens. Over my frozen shoulder, that is. However, after five months of waiting I get to see a physio who turns out to be absolutely marvellous. So marvellous, in fact, that she picks up another ailment that worries her more than the shoulder. I had assumed that the pins and needles in the little finger of my left hand were a side effect of the shoulder but, no, it seems I have a trapped nerve in my elbow. The physio is concerned because I don’t notice when she jabs her brooch into my finger (nice!). There is a possibility, she suggests, that I could lean on a hot hob and set myself on fire. Not in our house, I think, where Tom does all the cooking, nevertheless I make I mental note to stay away from all ovens.

Friday 15 February

I take life a day at a time and try to get the most of the time I’ve got. I’ve seen enough now to know that the most unexpected things can rise up to bite you and, sometimes, tomorrow doesn’t come. However some forward planning is now required as I’ve just entered the Cardiff half-marathon. Yikes! Actually there’s nothing like the emotion of a race to make you feel alive; the sheer terror just before the race kicks off is only matched by the joy and exhilaration of crossing the finishing line.

Saturday 16 February

Tom has a tutorial in Cardiff for the OU course he is studying. I take the opportunity to catch up with Lily who’s been really ill with a very nasty bug. Lily feels up to a stroll round the city centre. Browsing in two of the bookshops becomes impossible because of the book signings taking place; in one the guy from Torchwood is attracting an eager crowd but the winner of the day is Jordan who has queues all round the block and bouncers galore. Lily and I resist both queues but for some reason I am reminded that I need to buy a new sports bra (Faith, please note!).

Sunday 17 February

There is a problem with my new ‘extra high impact’ sports bra; it’s not a ‘swing round’ job and my frozen shoulder means I can’t reach behind my back. Tom idly wonders if I can’t just pull it over my head until he sees that I will do myself a terrible mischief if I attempt such folly and helps strap me in.

Monday 18 February

And talking of shoulders, I don’t look over mine very often. The past, as they say, is another country and on the whole I don’t need to be reunited with friends because, hey, those people weren’t my friends or I’d still be in touch with them. The other night, however, I stayed up late reading the lovely, and wickedly funny, Judy Astley’s latest book, ‘Laying the Ghost’ which is about what Nell discovers when she decides to trace her old flame, Patrick. I always try to make Judy’s books last but can never quite manage to put them down. If you’ve ever been tempted to Google that ex or The One Who Got Away (and I’m admitting nothing!) this is a thoroughly enjoyable and brilliantly entertaining read. So, does anyone haunt you?

Hwyl fawr!

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

The Canarian Diary

Thursday 24 January
7.30pm Arrive at Las Palmas airport. So does our luggage. I don’t care what happens now, so far as I’m concerned I’m ahead of the game.

Friday 25 January
We open all the curtains to let the lovely sunshine in and incur the wrath of our cleaner. Not a good start. ‘Ees nice for you but ees not nice for ME!’, she hisses. Rightio, we won’t do that again then. Anyone would think we were trying to have a holiday here!

Gran Canaria does exactly what it says on the tin. Wall to wall sunshine and more bars and restaurants than you could shake a stick at. Our apartment is identical to any other you see across the Med. It has a big (unheated) pool for the tourists and a little muddy pool for four terrapins. Actually it’s quite hard to tell the difference between the terrapins and some of the tourists. Oh, except the terrapins don’t bag sunbeds with towels or have tattoos on their ancient, leathery skin.

Sunday 26 January
We are slap between two shopping centres. Normally we walk down (and up) several hundred steps to the lower one but the travel rep has informed us is that the upper one is better for eating out ‘on special occasions’. Perhaps we don’t walk up high enough because the centre we arrive at is a concrete monstrosity with all the ambience of a multi-story car park where the restaurant touts are trying to persuade us to come in for some ‘good English grub.’ In the supermarket I notice a man who looks vaguely familiar, seconds later I spot his wife and my blood runs cold. I steal another quick glance because I can’t believe what I’m seeing. It’s the same hair, the same glasses and a blink rate three times that of any normal person. It is The Boss From Hell, the woman who for a few short months until she buggered off, made my life a complete and utter misery. Seeing her again, even after several years have passed, makes me shake with rage and fear. We get out fast.

Tuesday 28 January
No more sighting of TBFH. The weather continues to be fab and we are on good terms with our cleaner. Largely because we clean up before she arrives and are not Finnish. There are many Finnish people in this resort including our neighbours who, apart from chainsmoking and drinking booze all day, don’t seem to be doing anyone but themselves any harm. Clearly they irritate the cleaner who says they ‘yabber, yabber, yabber.’ ‘Ireland people good,’ she says, thoughtfully. ‘Galles?’ we offer. ‘Pah!’ she says. ‘All Ingles to me. Ireland people very good.’

I am very fair skinned and although I have spent large chunks of the day swathed in high-factor sunscreen, a kaftan, sun hat and dark glasses, I develop something very like sunstroke. My skin is burning, I am freezing and I spend all night, as Jay’s mum used to say, ‘Shivering and shaking like a little dog sh*tting’ which is a bit ironic since one thing I haven’t been able to do at all since arriving here is go to the loo.

Friday 1 February
A strange thing has happened. Since getting over the lurgy and feeling grateful that I will live to see my children again. I’ve relaxed and got into holiday mode – I must be enjoying it because every time the bus rolls up to take another group of people back to the airport, I’m glad I’m still here. I’m enjoying the sunshine, I brave the sub-zero pool every day and I’m getting some writing done.

Wednesday 6 February
I’m worried about the Norwegian man two balconies along. In his sixties and with no one to play with he looks very sad and down to me. ‘He must be very lonely,’ I say to Tom. No sooner have the words left my mouth when two taxis draw up below and half of Norway spills out. Soon a Viking rave is full swing, two balconies along, and continues throughout the night. Next time I’ll keep my thoughts to myself.

Thursday 7 February
Apart from one day of feeling stir crazy from being in what is essentially a giant holiday camp, I’ve had a great time and the break has done us both good. I go to check out.
‘Wah!’ says the man at the desk. ‘I no see you before!’
‘Erm, you have.’
‘But no! I would remember you – you have such an interesting face!’
Great. Interesting face suggests Princess Ann or Les Dawson. ‘Your computer was broken,’ I add, helpfully.
He smiles happily. ‘Yes! Now I remember. I think perhaps you can help me.’
Oh Good. Does he want me to present a trophy or play the piano badly? I end up composing a carefully worded email to the travel who have omitted to put the apartments on their website causing the owner much distress.

Our plane is broken and will be delayed. Several people start complaining. As far as I’m concerned given a choice between fixing the plane and falling out the sky I can wait all night. Which is just as well because we do wait all night and finally crawl into bed 12 hours later! Ah, but it’s good to be home!
And finally...
FTT pretty much finished but needs time to rest before final spit and polish.
Clocks on grand tour, first with 'One Night Only' and then with 'Scouting For Girls'.
For a book that's worth all the hype, read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's, 'Half of a Yellow Sun' .

Hwyl fawr!