Sunday in New York

“Sunday in New York” is ultimately a story about trust, and what happens when a marriage is stretched to its limits.

When Harry Steele attends a lunch with his manager, Barclay, to discuss a promotion that any junior executive would accept in a heartbeat, it is the fact his wife, Alison, who previously professed her reservations about Barclay, also agreed to attend, that casts a small element of doubt in his mind.

From that moment his life, in the company, in deciding what to do, his marriage, his very life, spirals out of control.

There is no one big factor that can prove Harry’s worst fears, that his marriage is over, just a number of small, interconnecting events, when piled on top of each other, points to a cataclysmic end to everything he had believed in.

Trust is lost firstly in his best friend and mentor, Andy, who only hints of impending disaster, Sasha, a woman whom he saved, and who appears to have motives of her own, and then in his wife, Alison, as he discovered piece by piece damning evidence she is about to leave him for another man.

Can we trust what we see with our eyes or trust what we hear?

Haven’t we all jumped to conclusions at least once in our lives?

Can Alison, a woman whose self-belief and confidence is about to be put to the ultimate test, find a way of proving their relationship is as strong as it has ever been?

That word ‘maybe’

This word, where I live, had taken on a new meaning.  We have telephone scammers who ask your name when you answer the phone, and when you say yes, they hang up.

It doesn’t take much imagination how they can use that recording.

So, I now answer the phone with maybe, which confuses the real callers who want to know if it is you.

Of course, maybe is one of those words that have so many meaning, but the best one is to use it while you have time to think of a proper answer.

For example, did you get the potatoes?  You haven’t been out, it slipped your mind, or you just plain forgot, but run with a ‘maybe’ so you can judge the reaction.

Angry face, you know no matter what, you’re in trouble.

Genial face, you know that it didn’t really matter and all is forgiven.

Then there’s the person who doesn’t know you and comes up to you in a crowded room.  Are you [put name here]?

Maybe.  We want to know if we’re in trouble, or if it for something good.

Using ‘maybe’ in writing probably isn’t the best word to us, but I like defying the experts.  You can always find a maybe or two in any of my books.

Roller blading/skating

It’s not for the faint-hearted, so that’s why we took the grandchildren skating.

Unless you are a skater of the roller variety there is little for the guardians to except sit back relax and listen to the head banging music that is luckily for us, of our era.

ACDC, ‘Thunderstruck’, over the loudspeaker system is just like being at a rock concert.

Little by little the floor starts to fill with skaters of all types of skill level from the side wall huggers to the almost falling over, and of course, the experts who glide effortlessly in and out of the novices.

First game of the night for anyone who can actually skate, collect little red witches hats, those that get one stay in, those that don’t, well, you know how this works

Fewer and fewer witches hats each time leads to an eventual winner, a youthful skater of considerable skill.

Now we have Queen.  Not exactly headbanging but a classic, ‘We Are The Champions’.  This cuts to a track by The Vapors.  How do I know this?  We have a video screen.  I’m just surprised some of these songs had a video made of them.

Well, there is always Shazam.

The second game of the night; I think only the organizers know what it is about.  I try to get the gist and instead wished music would come back.

Ok, those that couldn’t skate still can’t, and after an hour there is attrition.  More room for those who can.

But wait there’s more, the doors are still open and more people are arriving.

And thankfully we’re back to ACDC.

I have three grandchildren out on the floor each with a varying grade of skill.  They don’t do this very often so each session begins a little rusty and by the time they go home, it’s too soon to go.  At least they can stay on their feet and not, as some do, crash into the walls, thinking that is the best way to stop.

Bring on the music!  Next is the Divinyls.

Forget that, we now have Men At Work. ‘I Live in a Land Downunder’.  I’m missing the full effect of the stadium sound because one of my charges had decided to practice in the baby pen, a small area set aside for beginner skaters to get their bearings, or practice before they go out on the main floor.

I suspect this is a ploy for her to get me to buy a slushy without the other two.  Sadly that will not work.  We’ll have to wait and see till after the session.  Only an hour to go.

The sad pleading eyes are meant to weaken my resolve.

An exhibition of speed skating in different directions give our charges a chance to rest, relax, and have their slushies. A timely break before the last session.

But what the heck, we’ve got ‘you got nothing I want you’ve got nothing I need’.  Good old head banging music.   Then I’m in seventh heaven, with Michael Jackson blasting through the stadium.  It’s not hard to imagine his ensemble dancing on the floor, ‘don’t stop till you get enough’.

Bring on the kaleidoscope lighting.

No, forget that just bring back ACDc.  Oh, they just have.  ‘Highway to hell’!

Last game of the night, just when the three girls are just about out of steam.  Red Rover.  They sit this one out, and as the skaters get fewer and fewer, the speed and evasiveness of those left is breathtaking, and end up with a few collisions with the floor.

What do they say, no pain no gain?

That’s why I’m the chauffeur.

To round out the night, INXS and Midnight Oil.

A great night out?  Hell yeah!

On the other end of medical mumbo jumbo

Who could imagine that one visit to the local hospital could fuel a medical nightmare?

Aside from the original suspicion I was having heart problems, doctors started lining up appointments for an endoscopy and colonoscopy, though I suspect these were for a different malady, and the main event, an angiogram.

I didn’t have heart problems though it was possible I had angina, the reason for the angiogram, but I did have acute kidney failure which was interesting, to say the least, and possibly attributed to ipBrufen, though it was impossible to say if the medication for psoriatic arthritis, a venomous little pill called methotrexate, was or was not a contributing factor.

But is was great to learn that my psioratic arthritis could lead to heart attack, and lung issues, a few problems my original arthritis consultant conveniently forgot to tell me about.

No sooner than I was released from the hospital after this first set of maladies, I was back three or four days later with hospital-acquired pneumonia, a devil of a problem that requires some very invasive searches for the type of bug so it could be treated properly.

It led to five days of antibiotics, a considerable inability to breathe without help from an oxygen mask, and several CT scans with and without dye to get a better look at the problem.

If only that was all that was wrong with me.

The CT scan showed up a lump or lesion on my right thyroid which led to further investigation, an ultrasound, a biopsy, and a visit to the surgeon to be told it had to come out.

But that’s not all.  No, I didn’t get a set of steak knives for being one the first ten this week to be diagnosed with anything, I was told my PSA reading was twice the average for my age, a clear indication I might have prostate cancer.

Wow.  Just to sort of news you need to hear before the weekend.  Worse perhaps than a rainstorm when camping in a floorless tent.  I had to now wait for the results of a new blood test.

Ok.  I get it that things are bound to go wrong when you get older, but what I object to is everything going wrong at once.

Perhaps when we stop the aging process a lot of these issues will go away, but I fear not.  The human body is surprisingly robust for quite a long time despite our attempts to test it to the limits of endurance.

It is advice too late for me to make sure my misspent youth is not wasted on being stupid or believing I’m indestructible.  The plain truth is, we are not, and I didn’t get the memo.

Now, I guess, it is time to actually do everything, or as much as I can, before I start to deteriorating further and not be able to do anything.  I have a few good years before arthritis sets in and makes life more difficult than it already is.

I’m not going to waste them.

The bucket list – Travel

It’s time to look at the dreaded bucket list

I only say dreaded because it is a reminder of how old I am and that there are a lot of things I haven’t yet done.

Does it really matter, you ask?

Perhaps not, but now seems to be an appropriate time, past the age of 60, to take stock.

We have achieved a lot in the last 15 or so years once the children had grown up and could look after themselves.

Unlike a lot of more modern couples who are doing the traveling in their 20’s and 30’s then having children, we chose to do it the other way around.

To me, it seemed easier to deal with teenagers when we were in our 40’s rather than our 60’s.  With the benefit of hindsight, I can truthfully say we were right.

We were older and wiser when we traveled and more aware of the dangers around us, sometimes overlooked or ignored by a youthful devil may care attitude.

But, in saying that ….

No, I don’t think I’ll be getting to see Mt Kilimanjaro, hunting wild animals in the

Seringhetti, climbing Mt Everest or seeing the ancient pyramids.

Which is a sad state of affairs given the world has changed so much in recent years and has pretty much ruled out going to a lot of places, and in particular, the middle east.

Given the state of the world, it is getting more dangerous to go to such places as Africa, Russia, and Egypt.  Even places like Bangkok and Athens and other parts of Greece can be relatively unsafe.  But, whilst I have no intention of going to Thailand, I still want to go to the Greek Islands, and,

Santorini is at the top of my travel bucket list.

We’ve been to London.  We’ve been to Paris and Euro Disney.  We’ve been to Rome and seen the ancient ruins.  We’ve been to Vienna, and, particularly for us, a visit to Swarovski crystal world, near Innsbruck, and we’ve been to Salzburg, and been on the Sound of Music tour.

We’ve been to Florence and loved it, we’ve been to Venice and loved that too, and we’ve spent a few days in the heart of Tuscany, and want to go back for longer, much longer.

In fact, that’s the second item on the travel bucket list.

We’ve also been to Singapore and Hong Kong, at first out of necessity as an airline stopover, but then we went back to see the city and tourist, and nontourist attractions.

I will not forget staying at the Hong Kong Conrad hotel as a Diamond HHonors member.  Oh, the memories.

We’ve also stayed on The Côte d’Azur in a timeshare apartment in Antibes where every morning when out back you had a view of the shimmering Mediterranean if the sun was out.

Nice, Cannes, Monte Carlo, the billionaire’s yachts in Antibes harbor, Monte Carlo and ‘that’ casino, taking the same drive along the coast as Grace Kelly did in To Catch a Thief, and feeling like James Bond arriving for a new adventure, minus the half-million dollar sports car.

But, now, crashing back to earth with a very hard thump ….

Travel in the future is looking difficult for both of us, not only financially but from a health aspect.  We are both not as sprightly as we used to be.

Yet given the restraints and if it is at all possible, aside from the Greek Islands and Tuscany, the next items on the list are:

Germany, visiting both Berlin, from a cold war aspect, the Brandenburg gate springs to mind, and Munich at the time of the Octoberfest.  As a beer drinker that is also high on the bucket list.

Scotland, more so since we’ve started watching Outlander, and besides being a beer drinker, I am also partial to a good Single Malt, the Whiskey Trail.

Ireland, because my wife’s previous name was Murphy and at some point, in the long distant past some relatives emigrated to Australia, and she would like to visit the country of her forebears.

But with the current state of the world, our health issues, and that all-important requisite money, or the lack of it, perhaps it’s time to visit other parts of our own country.

Perhaps it’s time to do a culinary trip, particularly down south.  It’s practical and achievable and safe.

And it’s a big country.

Hotels versus the rest

Leave, Vacation, or Holiday – don’t you deserve a break?

Some people we know have come up for a holiday in what could be described as a very touristy location.

But is it for a ‘holiday’?

They have come from one state and are staying in what could be called an apartment, not a hotel.  They are here for a week.

So, they have a kitchen of sorts and can cook their own meals, unlike staying in a hotel room and having to eat out or in the hotel restaurant, and the apartment has a mini laundry.

How much different is this to being at home?

Perhaps we need to have a definition of the word ‘holiday’ and its variations.  A lot of people’s use the term ‘vacation’.  Others use the term ‘leave’.  Leave’s a difficult term because it can cover a number of types such as annual, sick, and maternity.

But whatever we want to call it, is it when you’re taking some time away from work.

Is it when you go ‘away’, that is to say anywhere but home?

You say, ‘I’m going on vacation.”

We say, “Oh, where are you going?”

Some say camping.  Is that any different than staying in an apartment, or even a holiday house?  Still all the same chores, cooking, cleaning, washing.

Is this why so many people are now going on cruises and hotels are so full these days.

There will always those who will go camping and stay is self-serve places like apartments, but for me, a holiday is staying in a five-star hotel where the only worry is where the nearest dry cleaner is.




Going back in time

I’ve often thought that I should have been born in the early 1900’s and lived through what might be called the halcyon days of the 20’s and 30’s.

Of course, it is only a matter of opinion if those days were good or bad, depending on who you were.

If I’d been the heir apparent to becoming Lord of the manor, or from any part of upper classes with a University education, I have no doubt that I would not have been spared the horrors of war along with rest of the young men who went to serve and never returned.

The only saving grace might be as Officer it might have been easier than being un the ranks, but at that age, I doubt if I’d be as cautious as I should be, as of all youth I’d throw caution to the wind.

But in all likelihood, I would not have been part of the aristocracy but more than likely a clerk or farm worker who might by wit and guile have survived the war, if not a little traumatized by what I had seen and done in the name of defending the Empire.

It had prompted Hemingway to use the phrase ‘the lost generation’ at the end of one of his books, but perhaps it was first used by Gertrude Stein who had said in not many words that those who survived the war were more content to drink themselves to death.

I guess if the war hadn’t taken you, and you survived the great flu epidemic that followed it, then you would probably believe you were in some way invincible.

So, in those post-war days where writers and others congregated in Paris in those mid-twenties, what some regard as the halcyon years before the great depression and later the next world war.  I suspect a lot of the American writers left because of prohibition and wanted the more liberal lifestyle in Paris during these years.

Certainly, there was a group of writers and artists who lived that bohemian lifestyle, perhaps a result of the horrors of war, using alcohol and promiscuity to drown the bad memories.

I doubt if anyone could return from a war like that and not be damaged in some way.  Perhaps the only way to escape the horror was to immerse oneself in a different world, and if I had been back in those days, I know I would be putting pencil to paper, making endless notes for later use.

And I prefer to believe if I survived it was because my desire to become a writer would eventually be fulfilled.  Perhaps, in the end, it might be more likely because I had had a lifetime love affair with words, and to me, it would be more than enough to make a reasonable living from it.

Certainly, I would have sought out others like me as mentors and compatriots.

It was a time when the likes of F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Edith Wharton, and James Joyce, all of whom I have no doubt would be happy to be the role models one needed.

And if you could afford to take a trip to Paris, well, enough said.

It would probably take a lot of luck to be included in their group and no doubt hanging out at the Shakespeare and Company bookshop, owned by Silvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier, might have been a step in the right direction.

But, having not been there at the time, who knows what might have happened.

Perhaps one day when someone invents the time machine, I might be able to go back and find out.

The Old Days


Ever hear someone say it was better in the old days?

I have.

I’ve been guilty of saying it myself.

But, was it?

When I was a child there was no such thing as personal computers and calculators.  Everything came out of books, and maths had to be done in your head.

Holidays were about joining up with other neighborhood children and making your own entertainment.  I remember for a long time, as a child, we didn’t have television.

It was down to the meadows near the creek to pick blackberries, swim in the water, or raiding new housing estates for offcuts to build a cubby house.

Not like today with television, video players, movies on demand, personal computers, game boys and a plethora of other entertainment choices.

Were we better off back in the old days?

We were in the sun with no idea that sunburn led to cancer and death.  Sunscreen was unheard of, so in that regard maybe not.

In the old days, the only telephones were in the house and were expensive to use.  You could have a colored phone so long as it was black and made of bakelite.

It was a long time before we had plastic colored phones or even wall phones.  Those were also the days of telephone boxes, the only way the make a call when away from home

Now every man and his dog has a mobile phone/computer while on the move.  I know, the dogs keep crashing into me on the street.

And then I also remember my father saying it’s not like the old days, so I had to wonder what he meant.

Perhaps it is an oft-used but less understood lament for a time when we remember we were happy and carefree, those days before mortgages, children, maxed out credit cards, and the children’s mobile phone bills.

Mobile phones

There is a saying ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’.

For a long time, in days before the current technological age, I didn’t really understand what that meant.

Until now.

How many times, in the last few days have I heard the question, “Where’s my mobile phone?”.

It seems we can lose almost anything else but, without the phone, we are completely lost.

The same now applies to all of our household appliances.

Then, the other day I heard, “We aren’t able to do very much because the microwave oven is broken.”

How did we manage in the days before we had such devices?  I know my grandmother used to have a wood stove and cooked everything, bread, roasting meat, cooking fish, vegetables, cakes, puddings, even make a cup of tea.

I don’t think I ever had a cup of coffee at her house, but I have a lot of memories of some amazing food.  No such thing as electric kitchen appliances, or a microwave oven, not in that house.

We had the same experience ourselves when one of the fridge/freezer units broke down, and severely restricted what we could cook and store, especially the freezer.

And perhaps that’s the problem.  We take so many things for granted and live a life that is centered around convenience.

What would happen if those conveniences were taken away?

Certainly, for me, I know, what it’s like to lose the use of a kitchen appliance and having to improvise, but I’m not sure how we would react if we had a real catastrophe.

We try not to think about what it would be like to lose electricity altogether, just a short blackout is enough to frighten us.

But, I haven’t lost my phone yet.

Let’s hope it never happens.

Time Wasting

Have you ever wondered how much of your life you have spent

a) waiting for a doctor’s surgery or hospital appointment, and

b) waiting on the end of the phone to reach customer service or a public servant.

In the first instance, I have had a lot of recent experience with injured children and spouse, and, more recently myself.

What bothers me is that they give you a time and place and issue all the threats around the place if you don’t turn up on time, but it seems to be perfectly ok if they are late.

It could be for some perfectly logical reason but most of the time they don’t tell you why they’re running late, and sometimes don’t even apologize.

Then there are the chairs they make you sit in, obviously specially designed so you do not get comfortable, especially in hospitals.

But the most infuriating aspect?  Just how small the waiting room is and how often it is overcrowded with people also waiting to see a doctor.

They ask if we remain respectful but after an hour and a half in those chairs and not treating us with that same respect they ask for, I’m surprised I have only witnessed one case of the angry patient.

In the second instance, there are two circumstances I take issue with.

The first is where you have to select from a menu and what you want isn’t one of the menu items and there’s no catch-all just disconnection, and

After waiting patiently on the line for up to thirty minutes or more you hear the connection, you think you are about to get to an agent and the call disconnects.

That is only one step removed from being connected … back at the selection menu and then sent to the back of the queue.

I’m sorry, but this technology is no advancement but I doubt if we will get back to the ‘old days’.

Of course, there is that other major advancement in telephone answering technology, voice recognition.  I’ve been on the end of it, and quite frankly, it just doesn’t understand me.

Odd, I Know, because I speak very good English with no accent.  Perhaps that’s the problem.

I can’t wait for the first humanoid robots.  I hope they can understand me better than the inhuman phones do!