Monday, March 31, 2008

Shattered


Shit, and there I was thinking that he did it all the time! And it only cost seven million pounds to arrive at that conclusion!! Bloody bargain.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bang goes the diet


Eleven of us sat down at the local relais last night and tucked into their 12 euros menu. How do they do it? It will never get a mention in any guidebook but the meal was wholesome, tasty and freshly cooked.

Anyway, despite knowing well in advance that the clocks changed last night, this morning I forgot, and stumbled out of bed at 09.30 to go and fetch croissants and bread for our guests. If I thought that I had a problem, spare a thought for these two guys who have to adjust all 600 of their clocks. On the basis that they all have to be altered back again in six months time I don't think I'd bother.

Lunch today was just excellent. We all decamped to Le Fourneau de Clelia in nearby Aigremont and got stuck into their menu. Most of us chose scallops for starters and then fillet steak which was just like marshmallow to cut. Fantastic food, perfectly cooked and not at a silly price.

An Italian war story


Lots of good jokes around at the moment. This one's for Mark.

An elderly Italian man who lived on the outskirts of Montecassino went to his local church for confession.

When the priest slid open the panel in the confessional, the man said, 'Father ... during World War II, a beautiful Jewish woman from our neighbourhood knocked urgently on my door and asked me to hide her from the Nazis. So I hid her in my attic.'

The priest replied, 'That was a wonderful thing you did, my son! And you have no need to confess that.'

'There is more to tell, Father. She started to repay me with sexual favours. This happened several times a week, and sometimes twice on Sundays'

The priest said, 'By doing that, you placed yourselves in great danger. However, two people under those circumstances can easily succumb to the weakness of the flesh. However, if you are truly sorry for your actions, you are indeed forgiven.'

'Thank you, Father. That's a great load off my mind. But I do have one more question.'

'And what is that, my son?' asked the priest.

'Should I tell her that the war is over?'

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A full house


We have a full house this weekend. Peter and Carol arrived by train from London on Thursday. The total journey took about 7.5 hours, with a two hour break in Paris. From London town centre, to Nimes town centre, that's pretty impressive and certainly worth considering. Even more so if you changed trains at Lille and avoided the journey across Paris. The 360 miles journey from Paris, with one stop, takes exactly 3 hours which is also very impressive. As the double deck TGV thundered into the station at Nimes, only 3 minutes late, you really have to admire the timekeeping over such a long distance.

Harold and Elizabeth arrived Friday after a 4.5 hour car journey from near Bordeaux to meet up with P&C. Hence the full house. I think my diet just got blown out of the window!

We met Lynne (and a recovering Bryan) at the market in Sommieres this morning and Lynne noticed that I'd lost weight. Don't you just love people like that?

Ouch

Two women were playing golf.

One teed off and watched in horror as her ball headed directly toward a foursome of men playing the next hole. The ball hit one of the men. He immediately clasped his hands together at his groin, fell to the ground and proceeded to roll around in agony.

The woman rushed down to the man, and immediately began to apologize. Please allow me to help. I'm a Physiotherapist and I know I could relieve your pain if you'd allow me, she told him.

'Oh, no, I'll be all right. I'll be fine in a few minutes,' the man replied. He was in obvious agony, lying in the fetal position, still clasping his hands at his groin.

At her persistence, however, he finally allowed her to help. She gently took his hands away and laid them to the side, loosened his pants and put her hands inside. She administered tender and artful massage for several long moments and asked, 'How does that feel?

'He replied, 'It feels great, but I still think my thumb's broken.'

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tata

With Jaguar and Land Rover being sold to Tata of India, does this signal the end of leather seats? Just a thought.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Austrian prisoner call centres


The thought of prison inmates running call centres in Austria made me think about how a typical call might go.


CC: Allo, und ow can I be ze helping of you?

Me: I'd like to buy a car.

CC: Vat make? Vee ave good prizes on ze VW und ze Mereceds.

Me: Well, I rather fancied a Daewoo Matiz. (I was going through a bad patch)

CC: How iz you spelligs zat?

Me: (Spells it out)

CC: How are you spelligs zat?

Me: (Spells it again)

CC: Is de wagen made in ze faterland?

Me: Oh forget it, I'll have a VW.

CC: Zat is und gut wagen. Und how iz you to maken ze payment?

Me: Can I pay with my credit card?

CC: Zertanly zur. Zat vill do nizely.

Me: (Gives credit card details)

CC: Und de tree liitle numbers on ze back und ze pinny numbers.

Me: (Thinks to self - something doesn't feel right about all this)

CC: Sank you sur. Ze wagen vill be wid you as zoon as it has bin stollen made.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lamb?

What kind of lamb's leg is this? The mind boggles.

Bebe a bord!

Staying on an automotive theme, does anyone feel the same as me about putting a small sign in the back window of a car saying that you have a 'baby on board'. When my first child was born I was naturally very protective, in fact, like most parents a little over protective. So much so that I considered putting one of these stickers in the back window of my car.

Then, thank goodness, I stopped to think. What did I hope to achieve? Was it going to slow down the traffic? Was it going to make idiot drivers drive more carefully? Was it going to protect my car, me, my child?
As a driver, did the stickers that I had seen make me change my behaviour? I always started a journey knowing that I didn't set out to hit the car in front. The accident would time consuming, inconvenient and cost me dearly. It was not a good idea. I tried hard not to hit other cars. If, however, I had decided that I would drive dangerously and was going to run into the back of other cars, would I do so more carefully. And, and it's a big and, and more to the bloody point, if you could now read the print of the bloody notice, then you had already parked your car in the trunk of the car in front and done whatever damage you could could do.
Mnnnnnn, that feels better!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter


Saturday, March 22, 2008

CHiPs


I can guarantee that every time I drive to Sommieres or Nimes I will see an 'incident'. By 'incident' I mean some idiot driving dangerously and putting lives at risk. Driving standards around here are abysmal, compounded by the very knowledgeable drivers who buy the Dacia Logan, the Aixiam or a Daewoo Matiz. Some people seem to think that if you by a shit car and drive it slowly you will be safer. Bollocks. All they do is encourage some impatient idiot to overtake when it's not safe. Take today's bird brain. He's in a Logan. A car which looks like it has been built in an east European factory (just looked it up and it's built in that automobile powerhouse, Romania - I rest my case) that is more used to making sewing machines. It had a tow hook on the back which frankly should always be situated on the front of these cars (because it's always more likely to be towed than tow) and the aerodynamics of a pyramid. In fact it looks more aerodynamic sideways on. Grief, what a mess. Anyway this idiot is driving down a dead straight road and every now and then he inexplicably slams his brakes on. I can't keep far enough away. This morning in Quissac I spotted an Aixiam which is basically a four wheel moped and, according to a report I read, when travelling up hill it's arguably quicker to walk.
Before anyone is allowed out in one of these cars they should have to undergo some kind of intelligence test. If When they fail they should be banned from driving immediately.

Anyway, given all this danger on the road, Jan tried to persuade me not to buy a crash helmet in Lidl this afternoon. I have always wanted a crash helmet, especially the type worn by the California Highway Patrol (remember CHiPs?) and at 39 euros this was a bargain. She said that I would look stupid, even more stupid than normal. Could I persuade her? Why don't women understand?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Revenge


I got really pissed off yesterday. It all started a couple of months ago when I went to get my prescription renewed. The locum doctor mentioned that I was at the maximum dose for medication but as my blood sugar continued to increase they might have to consider insulin. Yesterday was the appointment with a diabetes specialist in Nimes. He decided to try some different drugs but encouraged me to lose weight. Frankly I'm not in the mood to lose weight. I'm happy as I am but listening to him tell me what I can and can't eat sent me into a depressing downward spin. No fat, no sugar, no cereals, no meat, no fruit, no wine, no spirits, no bloody anything unless it's a vegetable. If you think about it, if I fancy a curry, all I'm allowed to do is suck on a chili. I've got to become a bloody vegan. (He didn't say you couldn't, he just said not much of all those things - Ed). How very bloody depressing.

Anyway, I was sitting there feeling thoroughly pissed off when Bryan popped round. That was all I needed, I'd give the doctor something to work on. We both got stuck into a few of bottles of wine and Jan cooked me a big fry up. That'll teach the bastard. (I think you're missing the point here! - Ed).

I've got a bit of a headache today.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

It's not easy being a man


The first conversation goes like this:


Jan: (Shouting from the next room) What clothes do you want to take to Italy?


Me: Jeans, blue and red jumpers (the ones with the holes in) and a couple of t-shirts.


Jan: You can't wear that! You'll look scruffy.


Me: (Inwardly happy) OK darling, you chose.


Jan then picks what I will wear and packs the case.


The second, a phone conversation, a few weeks later, goes like this:


Me: Hi mum, how are you?


Mum: (Who never answers directly but always starts her own conversation) Thanks for the photos that you took in Italy. I presume that it was Jan that sent them?


Me: Yes, I'll tell Jan that you are pleased.


Mum: You are still wearing that hooped jumper. I've told you before that horizontal stripes make you look even fatter (thanks mum!).


Me: Mum, please give me a break, I've been dressing myself for an awful long time now and between you and Jan it seems that I can't get anything right. But don't worry, I'll tell my packer not to include it in future.
Mum: Thank you to Jan for sending the photos.

And for my next trick...


At long last, the complete definition of totally wasting your time.

Monday, March 17, 2008

And the moral of the story is........

Thanks to Sue, here's one for Mark.

A wealthy old lady decides to go on a photo safari in Africa, taking her faithful aged poodle named Cuddles, along for the company. One day the poodle starts chasing butterflies and before long, Cuddles discovers that he's lost. Wandering about, he notices a leopard heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of having lunch.
The old poodle thinks, 'Oh, oh! I'm in deep doo-doo now!'
Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat.
Just as the leopard is about to leap the old poodle exclaims loudly, 'Boy, that was one delicious leopard! I wonder if there are any more around here?'
Hearing this, the young leopard halts his attack in mid-strike, a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees.
'Whew!' says the leopard, 'That was close! That old poodle nearly had me!' Meanwhile, a monkey who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard. So off he goes, but the old poodle sees him heading after the leopard with great speed, and figures that something must be up.
The monkey soon catches up with the leopard, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the leopard.
The young leopard is furious at being made a fool of and says, 'Here, monkey, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!
Now, the old poodle sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back and thinks, 'What am I going to do now?', but instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn't seen them yet, and just when they get close enough to hear, the old poodle says. 'Where's that damn monkey? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another leopard!

Moral of this story.... Don't mess with old farts .. age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill!

Bullshit and brilliance only come with age and experience.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

You don't want to do it like that......

I'm usually quick to mention poor service that I experience in France but today was an exception. I popped into Weldoms to see if I could find a pâte to fill small holes in a metal pipe. It was visual rather than structural so I was even prepared to consider a wood filler as long as it did the job. The first guy looked at me as if I was mad and said that I should weld it. Knowing that he could have been a bit more helpful, I set off to search the store. The obvious place to look was in the wood fillers but there was such an array of products that I lingered more than usual. I young assistant sidled up, asked if he could help and within two minutes I was offered a choice of products and found what I wanted. What a contrast.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Beware the Ides of March



I didn't se leve tot this morning. In fact I didn't wake until 09.59. That's very unusual for me, but as it has happened a couple of time recently it made me wonder if it's age related. I thought that as you get older you sleep less but it looks like it may be the reverse for me. When you add to that, that I'm also now being treated for glaucoma, I'm starting to feel old. Bloody hell I'm falling to bits. It reminded me of this advert I saw a long time ago begging for money to help treat third world glaucoma. Bloody hell, now I'm a third world problem. I keep telling Jan that I'm not well, but does she listen? I usually mention this just before I want something fetching, but does she listen?

Anyway, it's Saturday so I dragged my crumbling body off to Sommieres to drown my sorrows. Bryan and Peter, as usual, were already there and doing a good job of drowning theirs. I joined them.

Peter, who has had a blood pressure problem recently, was whinging, as he supped his beer, that he was starting to put weight on after he had stopped smoking. Bryan, on the other hand, was complaining that nobody loved him until I pointed out that maybe it was because he was wearing a stupid hat. Me, I was the only one with genuine cause for concern.
***

This article about French students was interesting and more so because it was centred on university students down the road in Montpellier. Everything I have read or heard tells me that the French school system is good, old fashioned, concentrates on the 3 R's, like when I were a lad (when you were a lad you wrote on tablets of clay - Ed) and without being constantly messed about with as it seems to be in England. But if you look at university students I detect some similarity. Too many university students, on both sides of the Channel, choose soft options and may well be ill prepared for the real world. We shall see.

A different ending

Jack decided to go skiing with his buddy, Bob. So they loaded up Jack's minivan and headed north. After driving for a few hours, they got caught in a terrible blizzard. So they pulled into a nearby farm and asked the attractive lady who answered he door if they could spend the night.
'I realize it's terrible weather out there and I have this huge house all to myself, but I'm recently widowed,' she explained. 'I'm afraid the neighbours will talk if I let you stay in my house'
'Don't worry,' Jack said. 'We'll be happy to sleep in the barn. And if the weather breaks, we'll be gone at first light.'
The lady agreed, and the two men found their way to the barn and settled in for the night. Come morning, the weather had cleared, and they got on their way. They enjoyed a great weekend of skiing. But about nine months later, Jack got an unexpected letter from an attorney. It took him a few minutes to figure it out, but he finally determined that it was from the attorney of that attractive widow he had met on the ski weekend.
He dropped in on his friend Bob and asked, 'Bob, do you remember that good-looking widow from the farm we stayed at on our ski holiday up north about 9 months ago?'

'Yes, I do,' said Bob.
'Did you, er, happen to get up in the middle of the night, go up to the house and pay her a visit?'
'Well, um, yes,' Bob said, a little embarrassed about being found out 'I have to admit that I did.'
'And did you happen to use my name instead of telling her your name?'
Bob's face turned beet red and he said, 'Yeah, look, I'm sorry, buddy. I'm afraid I did.' Why do you ask?'

'She just died and left me everything.'

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A mystery


We still haven't figured it out. When we got back from Italy someone had left an attractive amphora, which had contained flowers, on the doorstep. We had very strong winds that week, whilst we were away, and I suspect that any form of identification had blown away. This means that someone was probably expecting an acknowledgement and hasn't got one. It could of course have been a gift for me, from a secret admirer (don't hold your breath - Ed), but it was more probably for Jan in the form of a Mothers Day gift or some such. Either way we still don't know and I'm still waiting for some contact!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Jonny Wilkinson



A short while ago, when watching the France v England game, I noticed 'something funny' with Jonny Wilkinson's mouth. He was being interviewed by French television and I thought that the TV makeup people had gone a bit heavy handed with his make-up. He was interviewed again after the match and frankly he looked as if he had just finished a kissing contest, so smudged were his lips.

A few days later Stephen sent me this. No wonder he has been dropped by the England coach. It looks like he has been quite distracted lately. Get a grip man. England needs you!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hmnnnn


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Happy Birthday Jan


It was Jan's birthday today (she looks good for 53 don't you think?), but after a nice dinner for Bob and Lynne and Chris and Delphine last night we both felt a little jaded. Dinner comprised of a starter of Morteau sausage on a bed of spicy lentils, stuffed pork tenderloin, Italian cheeses, raspberry jelly (made with a rosé wine and real raspberries) and panna cotta for desert. A mixed up and geographically challenged meal but tasty nevertheless. Thank you darling!

Election day


A few months back, Michelle, the mayor's secretary, asked us if we wanted to be on the electoral register. It turns out that we can only vote in the local elections and for our European Member of Parliament. We cannot vote in our canton election which also takes place today nor the national party elections which took place last year. It seems strange to have such a widely split voting right but there you go. Anyway, we got our voting cards in the post the other day and set off after lunch to cast our vote.

We had a choice of two potential mayors and their teams. The incumbent, William, and his new team of councillors and his challenger and his team. Whoever wins will sit for six years. Your voting card, which you keep, is stamped each time you vote so that you have a permanent record of your voting activity. There was no political basis for your vote, you vote for people not parties. Quite different to what we were used to in England. On the other hand the cantonale vote was for individuals with party affiliations. There's more detail here about how it all works.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

A sound judgement


Back on an Italian theme, I thought that this was amusing. My uncle, Giovanni Zarra, when he was alive, used to be President of the Court of Cassation Corte Suprema di Cassazione. I'm pleased to see that they are carrying on his fine work and still making sound judgements.

It reminds me of the time when he was living in Naples. He had retired from public service and was in private practice. He was involved in a case where a woman had been murdered by being thrown off a roof. Naively I asked him if he was defending or prosecuting. He looked at me as if I was stupid and said, 'when it involves the mafia you only defend.'

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Back to France


It was with great sadness that we left Pia and Dino for our return trip to France.
We allowed plenty of time for the road trip back to Rome, hoping to have lunch on the way. Just short of Monte Cassino we came to a halt and were stuck there for two hours. The tailback must have been enormous because when the road was finally unblocked it unleashed a massive frenzy of lunatics all trying to make up for lost time or, in our case, just trying to get to a toilet! The chaos at the next service station had to be seen to be believed. Cars abandoned everywhere as car parks overflowed and people fought for a place in the toilet queue. A lone policeman tried to instal some order but eventually gave up and drove off. It was lunchtime after all.
The next bit of the journey, up to Rome, was little better. Crazy Italian drivers, who can see miles of solid traffic ahead of them, with lights flashing, overtaking and undertaking to get a bit further forward. It was a dangerous and very uncomfortable drive but we made it back in time for our flight to Girona and the very windy drive home from Spain. The autoroutes in France seemed very quiet and tame in comparison. Bed never felt better.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Ristorante Medina


Yesterday, we offered to take Pia and Dino out for a ride and they chose to visit Orsara di Puglia, Dino's birth town, and then eat lunch at Ristorante Medina, Piazza del Municipio, 0881 964044. It's owned and run by Luigi and Maria Inglese and they offered to open this lunch time, just for us. The trip which takes you through Troia and its dramtic romanesque cathedral, takes about an hour.
Where to start? Jan and I have very fond memories of Orsara and in particular a wonderful musical August evening we spent in the self same piazza a few years back. That's another story, but I have to tell you about the lunch.

I counted 11 different antipasti. The plates just kept coming. Plates containing delicious, home cured, light and sweet prosciutto, three other cold meats, stuffed mushrooms, an omelette of ricotta and pancetta, an involtini of aubergine, an aubergine cream, pizza di campagna and potatoes sauteed with tomatoes and peppers. I'm already full but we next eat three different types of exceptionally light pasta dishes. All the pasta is home made by Maria. Ravioli stuffed with mozzarella and pancetta, orrecchiette with a tomato sauce and finally cavatelli with a wild boar sausage and white bean sauce.

Plates of simply but beautifully cooked lamb cutlets with fresh local herbs followed at which point bodies started to fall by the wayside. Not me brothers, I'd psyched myself up for this one and I knew there was more to come.

I know that I keep going on about ricotta but this one had to be tasted to be believed. It was so light and fluffy, you'd have thought that it had been pumped full of air. It was fresh that morning, made in the village, as was the mozzarella that accompanied it. Throw in a cachiacavallo, pecorino and a dish containing honey and a sweet chilli sauce, and that made up our cheese course.

Just, just in case you haven't quite had enough, the pudding plate contained fresh fruit, a lemon tart, a ricotta tart and a home made Amaretto biscuit.

And the wine? The first bottle was their own and the next a 2003 Ursaria made from the toccacane grape. Excellent. After the gentlest, sweetest amaro, Luigi opened a prized possession. Grappa isn't to everyone's taste but you have to try Nannoni, Grappa di Brunello, you won't be disappointed.

Excluding the drinks that little lot came in at 35 euros a head. I would love to organise trips to this restaurant. Great, affordable, southern Italian food.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Stuffed pigs







The whole purpose of this trip was to see my aunt and uncle. We drove over to the house at 10.00 and got no response. I also tried ringing and got no response. I was starting to get worried. We're sitting outside the house at 12.15 thinking that a surprise visit may not have been such a good idea after all. What if they are away? What if, what if, occupied our thoughts and conversation. I was pretty sure that if they were around they would return around lunch time so decided to sit it out. Sure enough, and much to our relief I saw my aunt walking towards the house at 12.30

Anyway, we hadn’t wasted all our time waiting for Pia. Guessing that she might be out and about, we headed over to the nearby outdoor food market for a look see. This daily market takes up about 400 metres of a narrow street and is packed with people, and packed with stall holders shouting about their produce in their incomprehensible local dialect. We loved it. It’s so colourful and unlike anything we normally find in France. You can pretty much buy all your shopping here but most stalls sell fruit and veg. Judging from the look of it, it is mostly home produced and very cheap. Now I’m no home economist but 15 artichokes for 3 euros, 3 cauliflowers for 1 euro and a kilo of oranges for 1.5 euros seemed pretty good to me. We found the same excellent prices at the local Ipercoop later in the afternoon and at a rough guess I’d say that prices were well below those in France, up to half.

On the way back we popped into a small café. I’d forgotten how busy they can be. In the fifteen minutes we were there about 25 people, mostly men, dashed in, ordered their shot of coffee, passed the time of day and then made way for the next wave. The banter was fabulous as was Jan’s hot chocolate which mostly comprised pure melted chocolate.

Back to Pia and Dino. We now had to ‘suffer’ our first dose of Italian hospitality. Despite what you may think, (or see – Ed), Jan and I don’t really eat much (in medical parlance it's known as short term memory loss - Ed). Finishing lunch became quite a challenge. A huge bowl of pasta would normally be far more than we would eat but in this case it was followed by parmigian di melanzane, stuffed meat and potatoes, pizza patata, sausages, several cheeses, speciality cakes, wine and liqueurs. If you say no, you offend, so you just have to go for it, whilst recognising that you have to eat all over again in a few hours time.

Given that we were only going to be there for two days, Dino nips out in the afternoon to shop for some of our favourite things. The freshest ewe's milk ricotta, burrata - a tiny sack of the freshest cow’s milk mozzarella filled with cream, scamorza - mozzarella smoked over pecan shells, provolone, pepato – a deep fried pizza dough, Parma ham. The list goes on, and on and on. If only I wasn’t such a greedy sod!

As we waddled back to the hotel a young, drunk, male weaved his way up the street towards us. As he approached Jan he stopped, looked at her and slurred, "Che bella." Not the best chat up line ever but welcome nevertheless. Welcome to Italy.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Food heaven

After dropping Max and Min at the kennel, it was an early start for a trip down the motorway to Girona to catch our flight to Rome. Ryanair, incredibly, have three flights a day from Girona to Rome, so we chose a lunch-time flight that meant we could have a reasonable drive down to Spain during the day and then a three and half hour daylight ish drive to Foggia from Rome. We love Italy and all its madness. A few minutes from Ciampino Airport we had to take a slip road onto the ring road. This road was patently for one car only. We formed a two line queue, welcome to Italy! Just before Naples we had to turn left onto the autostrada for Bari but we stopped at a service station for a pit stop. The woman who cleaned the toilets was sitting, waiting for tips, and was singing beautiful songs. Amazing. Only the hardest hearted soul would not have tipped her. After driving for two hours she lifted your spirits and just made you feel good. Welcome to Italy! An hour and half later we checked into the Cicolella Foggia, a Mercure Hotel. The Cicolella has been there for as long as I can remember. A beautifully appointed hotel, right in the heart of Foggia and from where I'm typing this guff. At reception I asked if we could eat. Of course sir, eating is compulsory, quipped the guy at reception. The restaurant was good with a mouth watering menu. The choice reminded me of the type of food that I used to eat as a child. I was in food heaven. We slept well!

A new chauffeur


To continue the religious theme:




After getting all of Pope Benedict's luggage loaded into the limo, and He doesn't travel light), the driver notices that the Pope is still standing on the curb

'Excuse me, Your Holiness,' says the driver,

'Would you please take your seat so we can leave?'

'Well, to tell you the truth,' says the Pope, 'they never let me drive at the Vatican , and I'd really like to drive today.'

'I'm sorry but I cannot let you do that. I'd lose my job! And what if something should happen?' protests the driver, wishing he'd never gone to work that morning.

'There might be something extra in it for you,' says the Pope.

Reluctantly, the driver gets in the back as the Pope climbs in behind the wheel. The driver quickly regrets his decision when, after exiting the airport, the Pontiff floors it, accelerating the limo to 105 mph.

'Please slow down, Your Holiness!!!' pleads the worried driver, but the Pope keeps the pedal to the metal until they hear sirens. 'Oh, dear God, I'm gonna lose my license,' moans the driver.

The Pope pulls over and rolls down the window as the cop approaches but the cop takes one look at him, goes back to his motorcycle, and gets on the radio.

'I need to talk to the Chief,' he says to the dispatcher.

The Chief gets on the radio and the cop tells him that he's stopped a limo going a hundred and five.

'So bust him,' says the Chief.

'I don't think we want to do that, he's really important,' said the cop.

The Chief exclaimed, 'All the more reason!'

'No, I mean really important,' said the cop.

The Chief then asked, 'Who ya got there, the Mayor?'

Cop: 'Bigger.'

Chief: 'Governor?'

Cop: 'Bigger.'

'Well,' said the Chief, 'Who is it?'

Cop: 'I think it's God!'

Chief: 'What makes you think it's God?'

Cop: 'He's got the Pope as a chauffeur!'

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A secret trip


With a quick trip to Foggia in Italy to see my aunt, planned for tomorrow, most of the day was filled with not doing much (me), whilst St Jan of Cannes prepared for our little sojourn. By way of a little background, when I was four years old, my parents split up and my mother and I moved from Bristol to live with her sister, Pia, in Harrogate. I see Pia as a sort of surrogate mother, hence the desire. It's a secret trip (so you're not telling many people - Ed) because Zia Pia would probably not want us to go. Because she couldn't put us up and feed us, she would see it as a slight that we were in town and not staying with them. Such is Italian hospitality. As her illnesses are likely to be long term, then the only way that we can show our support is to travel quietly and put ourselves up in a hotel. It's the least we can do and easier done by presenting it as a fait accompli. (A little trip to Italy is hardly a penance, so no brownie points for you - Ed)

Not wanting to hide my light under a bushel (don't worry a bushel is very small - Ed), it's not strictly true that I did nothing all day. I cleaned the car, which I see as a real pleasure and not really work. Have you ever noticed how much faster the car goes when you have cleaned it boys? And, I also assisted in Jan's disturbing fetish for washing clothes, by helping her to find all my filthy rags. Is it just me, (er,yes - Ed) or have you ever noticed how much nicer clothes are to wear when they are dirty, boys?

Makes you think

Is it me or is this a bit perverted? To build a warship out of steel from the twin towers sends out a strange message. The message I get is - out of a terrible loss of life and carnage will come even more loss of life and more carnage. I fully understand that bereaved relatives may seek revenge but would have expected something a bit more subtle from the state. Having said that, the Iraq war is hardly subtle, so it's just me being naive.

The Devil rides out


So the conversation goes like this.

Me: Hi Mum, Happy Mother's Day.

Mum: I felt the earthquake last week.

Me: Oh, I'm sorry . I didn't think you'd really be affected.

Mum: Just as I was going to sleep there was a huge roar and my bed shook.

Me: Oh, I am sorry (this was my caring female side coming out).

Mum: I was quite frightened.

Me: I bet you were.
Mum: I had no idea what it was and didn't understand until I saw the news the next day.

Me: Didn't you think that it might have been an earth tremor?

Mum: No. Much worse than that.

Me: What's worse than an earthquake mum?

Mum: The Devil.

Me: Oh mum please. Surely you didn't think it was the Devil?

Mum: I think about the Devil a lot.

Me: Aren't there more problems to deal with without thinking about the Devil?

Mum: You just don't believe.

Me: You're damn right I don't believe but more to the point I'd have considered that it was an earthquake before thinking that it might be the devil.

Mum: You'll see one day (she obviously thinks that I'm going to hell!)

Me: When was the last time the Devil appeared on earth?
Mum: People get possessed by the Devil.

Me: Exactly who?

Mum: There's no point in talking to you...........


Anyway, I told her not to worry, that I loved her and that I would see her soon. I could argue that religion has a lot to answer for.