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Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Fifth letter: Sugar Puffs and Melon Balls

Hello *******

I have a feeling(Song lyrics attaching to my brain today: I Gotta feeling, Black Eyed Peas) we may have a breakthrough, yesterday I received a comment from anonymous  claiming to be you. Not possessing the trusting nature I once had, I’ve set a simple test to establish the truth.
Back to life, in the Nederlands. (Back to life back to reality, don’t know who sang that) 
Last day before the Christmas Holidays
Alfie has his eye on a tasty bratwurst stall.
The day after our furniture arrived we’d arranged to meet the chap from the relocation agency, I’ll call him Sidney too.  Remember how I fixate over organisation and time? Well on the Isle of Wight I’d already spent several hours ringing or emailing Sidney, who’d indicated that my concerns about immigration would be resolved at our meeting. I prepared a carefully purchased folder with everything from passports, travel insurance, medical records, National Insurance numbers to three notes pads and several pens.
Sidney organised to accompany us to two meetings, the bank (useful) and the ultra trendy town hall.(yes even town halls can be trendy) Throughout the whole hour and a half we had his attention, he addressed all his questions to Andy and Andy alone. Had these have been the kind of questions Andy could answer, I would have been happy to settle back and let the men get on with it, however – the questions went a little like this:

Sidney: ‘Ando, you have your passport?’
Andy: ‘Trace have we got the passports?
I’d pull the passports out of my special folder.
Sidney: ‘Ando, have proof house ownership?’
Andy: ‘Trace, what’s he talking about?’
I’d pull out mortgage papers.
Sidney: ‘Ando, do you have new address?’
I’d pass Andy one of my new address cards, etc.. etc..

Why was I invisible? The Netherlands is an alien country, but the people are organised and liberal, it was hard to imagine the Dutch as sexist. That left one of two explanations: 
1, Andy had once more used his sparkling wit and manly solidarity to eclipse my more practical appeal.  
2, Sidney so enjoyed his new game of listening and roaring with laughter at Andy’s mild Scottish tones wrestling with obscure Dutch village names, that he plain forgot I was there.

‘Sidney was a bit of a knob.’ I moaned at Andy later, looking for support and a bit of camaraderie.
 ‘Really?’ Andy replied, ‘I thought he was quiet nice.’ <hummm>

Tuesday 27th of December

Is it time for breakfast?
I thought I’d fill you in on our Christmas Break so far: Friday the 23rd we sailed on P&O’s The Pride of Hull (Andy called it an oxymoron) from Rotterdam back to the UK.  My expectation have changed much since we at school, because I loved the ship, the five foot double bedroom,(oxymoron?) the fold down bed and the ensuite with the world’s smallest shower. The staff in Mayfair's famous Langan's Brasserie, skilful and attentive, the menu read beautifully, but tasted better in my imagination. After dinner drinks in the Sunset lounge bar, accompanied by the four piece self-absorbed teenage band seemed so far removed from our apartment, I was beginning to get that nice warm glow that acts as a false companion to the start of any holiday. The nice warm glow didn’t last, we climbed to the sky lounge, bought yet more wine and Andy squeezed my hand all matey and pronounced rather proudly.
‘We’re the romantic equivalent of turds of the ocean, aren’t we?’
The next morning the ships tanoy woke us at 7am, threatening a rush for breakfast. Andy fearing a queue or worse, a sausages shortage had us in the buffet bar within four minutes. (truly) ‘You look pissed.’ Andy said all concerned, as I swayed over the black pudding, I caught a glimpse of my eyes reflected in the polished stainless steel of the serving counters . I didn’t look pissed, I looked like a middle-aged vampire with bloodshot eyes and dried white foam on my lips.(that’s what you get if you rush teeth brushing) I shrugged, I had already been called a turd of the ocean, this was a step up.
All that's missing are the melon balls
Now Andy’s ideal breakfast is normally a protein banquet, but at £20 ahead, he wanted, quite rightly to get his monies worth: full English breakfast, followed by Danish pastries and bizarrely, swimming in milk, a bowl of sugar puffs and melon balls. Unbelieving I watched him finish the bowl, my life has altered beyond all recognition and now it appears I’m living with the Honey Monster.
As a special treat just for us, The Pride of Hull developed technical problems and we managed to disembark in just over three hours, two hours of which we enjoyed in semi dark of the unheated passenger car deck. Even that couldn’t destroy my enthusiasm, it was almost Christmas and I was going to see my family.
Still red-eyed, and a little sleepy we finally hit the dual carriage way which would deliver us from Hull.(which by the way is as flat as the Netherlands) We endured one more finally hurdle – The Petrol Station! For most, a trip to the petrol station is stress free, they would be the people who haven’t stopped at a service station with Andy. Andy as you’ve guessed is a man of great intelligence, kindness, fiercely loyal to his friends and to the god of common sense, however he has one stumbling block, service station savouries: Ginsters steak and Ale pasty, spicy scotch eggs, triple breakfast sandwich, he has yet to actually enjoy any of the overpriced food(loose term). He’s like one of those Wild West bearded Americans’ panning for gold in the 1870’s always believing their big break will come tomorrow. Well Andy believed he found gold as he presented the eight inch wrapped buffet bar to the attendant: soft cheese, crisp coleslaw and mayonnaise, wrapped in pork sausage meat and deep fried in breadcrumbs, this buffet bar contained a man’s total recommended daily calories and enough salt to kill an army of snails. I watched Andy as once more we hit the dual carriage way, squinting against the brain freeze of the diet coke while grappling the eight inch savoury and the steering wheel. Perhaps it was mean of me to mention the Buffet Bar looked not unlike my image of The Turd of the Ocean, as he dry retched on the M18. Then again I have to take my small pleasures when I can.

My handsome sons and beautiful niece

The rest of the week, passed in a blur. Christmas day was quieter than usual, but no worse. I’ve been partially spoiled by my generous family, and my sons’ chose presents with thought and care that makes me proud to be their mother.

However to my family I would like to take this opportunity to publically apologise.
It’s not you, it’s me!
For the last two years,  most of my waking hours have been spent in silence and I’m good at that, I’m good at not making small talk or polite conversation, I’ve a talent for not replying when spoken too,  I’m at my best retreating deep into my grey matter and resurfacing for just a couple of hours a week. If I appear rude, it’s because I’m surprised at needing to think of answers to questions that are not my own, it’s not that I don’t want to answer, rather I need warning that I’ll be spoken too.(5 or 6 hours works well)

Nuff writing, I’m going find some wine and think of my resolutions for next year.

Trace xx

Speak again soon, remind me to tell you about the man inside the A board with the word’s Jesus has risen(In Dutch) chasing me and Alfie down the Beyerd last week.(I know you’d have made me stop)

My own Christmas elf

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