Sunday, 9 August 2020

Extraordinary Penpals

 

Welcome to day 139 of the lockdown in Manchester. We are still under additional restrictions with the situation being reviewed every week. The timing of this is terrible because next week Mrs PM and I are off work for a week to celebrate her 50th birthday on 18th August. We had planned a few birthday get-togethers but sadly it seems unlikely that any of these will be allowed. Thankfully at the moment, restaurants and pubs are still open so we will be able to pop out for a meal and a beer in a socially distanced environment. It won’t be the same without friends and family there but I guess there is nothing we can do about it so we may as well just accept it.
The weather is quite pleasant today and we have already been for a five mile walk in the sunshine. After I have written this post I shall sit in the garden with Mrs PM to enjoy what is left of the sunshine.
Shall we dive in with some Sunday Stealing questions? 
Actually, the theme of Extraordinary Penpals is quite a good one. I dabbled with penpallery when I was a kid, writing to a German girl for a while, mainly to practice my German. It was quite tough – she wrote in English and I wrote in German and it kind of fizzled out. My German nowadays is poor but I am slightly better at Spanish and French. Penpallery might be a good thing to get into now because of modern technology, social media and the internet. Perhaps when I retire.
Enough idiocy - let’s get on with it.
1. What are your plans for August?
I mentioned them above  - take a week off work and try to have some fun for Mrs PM’s 50th birthday. Apart from that – nothing different from the lockdown routine we have been repeating like Groundhog Day since lockdown began at the end of March. Of course, we have more freedom and there are more things we can do but it isn’t good. 
2. Review the first half of 2020
HA HA HA HA HA! The first half of the year has been a total disaster thanks to this nasty coronavirus that seems to want a place in our lungs. As I said above most days have been like a nightmare version of Groundhog Day. I have had to cancel two holidays, one to Italy and one to Spain, as well as abandon plans to travel to Belgium for a long weekend in Brussels and Bruges, and ended up basically confined to my own house, unable to see friends and family apart from via Zoom or Whatsapp on a laptop or phone. Walking has been a treat but boring because I have tramped the same routes over and over, avoiding other people, their dogs, joggers and cyclists and treating everybody else and being treated by everybody else as if we are all zombies in the middle of an apocalypse. I’ve been called a “stupid bastard” by a 70 year old woman who thought I was violating the social distancing rule when I was almost 15 feet away from the paranoid old dear. I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from reacting (I am a nice guy but I don’t like being sworn at by a total stranger even if it is an old woman).
To summarise: the first half of 2020 has been utterly crap and that incident with the old woman sums it up nicely.
3. A place you’d go if money were no object
I would travel the entire world. In my heart of hearts I think I can still do this, visiting as many countries as time and money will allow, even if I have been there before. 
Watch out world – I’m coming to get you hopefully.
4. Who was your childhood best friend
I guess it was probably my old mate Wally (not his real name). We were best pals from the age of about 10 to 19 and we drifted apart when I moved away from Walsall to Liverpool.
5. The city or town you love most
I would have to say in the UK it is my adopted home city, Manchester (or the Kingdom of Mancunia as I like to think of it). 
Outside the UK my favourite city is Hong Kong. I think I have mentioned this a number of times.
6. How do you spend hot days?
It depends where I am. At the moment in the UK, I like to go out for a walk or sit in the beer garden of a pub or sit in my own garden. 
If I’m abroad it depends again where I am. I will for example stroll around a foreign city or if I am by a beach I will spend some time on the beach or in a convenient swimming pool.
7. Are you a skilled cook or baker?
I have baked simple things with the kids when they were younger, such as cakes and biscuits and mince pies at Christmas. I wouldn’t say I was skilled but I can follow a recipe. 
The same goes for general cooking. I can do it but I don’t like doing it.
8. One thing you wish you could currently do.
Retire.
9. A time when you learned your lesson
At university, I went through a period when, due to circumstances, my relationship with one of my mates became strained over a period of a month. He really liked a female student and confessed to her how he felt when one of his other friends played a practical joke on him by sending a Valentine’s card to him from her. She was a sweet girl so she promised him that they would be really good friends even though she wasn’t interested in him. There as a big event coming up when she would have the opportunity to invite him to a ball as her guest. He was convinced that his little confession and her guarantee that they would be close friends meant that he would be invited.
She invited me instead. I know why and it wasn’t because she fancied me. We were good buddies and she had asked me the previous year if she could be my guest to another ball because she really wanted to go. We had a good laugh and she felt that because I had taken he, she would reciprocate. 
My mate went ballistic and in a heated exchange, he urged me to tell her that I couldn’t go in the vain hope that she would ask him instead. I refused and told him to grow up. Our relationship soured and I went to the ball with her as a platonic friend. 
For the next couple of weeks after the ball, he was very short tempered with me and I got really pissed off with him. Other niggly things made it worse and by the end of the four week period it had got to the point where I had to react. 
I found myself slagging him off to a group of friends (for Americans that means “Bad-mouthing him”) and I went a bit too far, telling them he was pining for this girl so much that he was making a complete dickhead of himself. 
What I didn’t know was that he had overheard me.
The other thing is that we actually shared a house too – so you can imagine the tension. 
It all came to a head when he exacted his revenge.
I woke up one Saturday morning to the sound of somebody banging the front door. When I opened my door, I was confronted with a massive bin full of water that had been propped up on a chair leaning against my door.
It fell and emptied its entire cargo into my room, in a tsunami that was shocking because (a) there was so much water, (b) it was freezing cold, (c) it soaked my clothes that I wore, (d), it soaked my newly laundered clothes that were in a basket that I hadn’t put away yet, (e) it filled all of my shoes that were by the door. 
Water gets everywhere and everywhere was soaked. I knew immediately who had done it. I ran to his room and hammered to door screaming his name, telling him I was going to kill him. He had gone out.
He came back about 6 hours later and I saw him and just said “You utter bastard!”. “What?” He said trying not to laugh. “Come with me,” I said. He followed me to my room and sniggered as soon as he saw a tiny amount of water on the carpet outside my door. I opened my door to reveal the full horror of the prank. 
I was ready to punch him but his reaction stopped me in my tracks.
He saw the deluge, saw the soaked carpet, saw my shoes hanging to dry alongside my other clothes, saw my bed tipped up so that I could clear out all the wet detritus underneath it and he laughed. He laughed so much that he couldn’t stop. He fell on the floor and gasped for breath, rolling around in such mirth that, he later told me, he almost wet his pants. 
I saw his laughter and started laughing at his laughter.
Our feud was over. 
We mentioned it again on a university reunion last year and we all laughed at it again. 
We are still best mates but I learned to be very careful when you are thinking of talking about somebody behind their backs.
10, What consistently makes you laugh
British comedy. We are the funniest people in the world.
11. Routines that bring you calm and peace.
I like to listen to calming ambient electronic music like this:

12. Who annoys you the most?
I don’t know where to start. 
The human frog that is Nigel Farage, the human weasel that is Dominic Cummings, the clown we have as Prime Minister, Piers Morgan, the Orange Goblin in the White House, and many others.
13. Describe some of your favourite household items.
My CD collection, all of my gadgets, my bed and my cat. 
14. What have you gotten better at?
I am trying to mellow as I get older and try to listen to people to listen to their view on things in a bid to understand them better. 
15. Share a random memory.
I think I probably wrote too much for question 9 so I will allow that question to double up as a random memory too.
16. How many pairs of shoes do you have?
Not many.
17. Who do you go to for encouragement?
Usually Mrs PM.
18. References you make that others don’t get.
I am always quoting comedy shows – I seem to have a good memory that kind of thing.
19. What are 10 things you consider essential for you?
Phone, iPod, laptop, Kindle, clothes, shoes, glasses, passport, WiFi, beer, 
20. Is there any accent you wish you had?
Not really. I can do a passable impersonation of some accents. I guess a southern Irish accent might be a good thing to be able to impersonate – it is quite difficult though.

16 comments:

LA Paylor said...

you went all in, my friend! I looked thru this list of questions and decided each one was worthy of a post, and let them go. I enjoyed #9... you wrote a great parable for us to remember. And the moral was to go to humor for healing a rift.
LeeAnna

Kwizgiver said...

I would love to retire. I have 7 years until I reach the proper retirement age for my teaching retirement plan to kick in, however.

When I lived in Cork, Ireland, it took me a long time to catch on to the accent!

Lori Ray said...

Happy birthday to Mrs. PM! Have a great time on her birthday!
Ok, something that consistently makes you laugh well me laugh...every time you say Trump is the Orange Goblin it cracks me up. Loved your answers! Have a nice Sunday!

https://lorisbusylife.blogspot.com/

Bev Sykes said...

Your water memory was...amazing. I'm glad you two got over it.

Elephant's Child said...

I am glad that you could laugh with your friend. It might have taken me a while...
I am an accent thief. If I spend much time with anyone with a marked accent (whatever the flavour) I pick it up. Unintentional,and often embarrassing.
Happy Birthday to Mrs PM.

CountryDew said...

What a great story about your friend and "learning your lesson!" I enjoyed that very much.

zippiknits.....sometimes said...

Fun story about college Roomies! Of course, your roommate would be a good friend still. Mine is, or rather was. She passed away several years ago. We always had a sort of Radar for each other.
Hope you get to do that traveling! It's wonderful to live in Europe because there is so much there and you don't really have to get on a plane. Go 200 miles and you've visited three countries!
Take care Love life. Stay safe.

Stacy said...

Utter crap. That should be the epitaph on 2020's headstone.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi LeeAnna,

It did help. When he laughed, it was just so funny. I wish he had peed his pants just for good measure but alas it wasn't to be.

:o)

Cheers

PM

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Kwizgiver,

Probably about the same for me, actually in terms of retirement - maybe a year or two less.

:o)

Cheers

PM

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Lori,

I can think of other names to call him - OompahLoompah leaps to mind.

;o)

Cheers

PM

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Bev,

We've had the odd disagreement over the years but we remain good pals.

:o)

Cheers

PM

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

I've been told that my Scouse accent sound like Indian and my Welsh accent sounds like nothing on Earth.

:o)

Cheers

PM

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi CD,

So do we when we talk about it now.

:o)

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Zippiknits,

We are lucky, I guess. I love going to Europe.

:o)

Cheers

PM

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Stacy,

Summed up beautifully.

:o)

Cheers

PM