Friday, July 29


Just been watching round one of Britain's Next Top Model. There was nothing else on, honestly. And the girls had nothing much on either, as it was a lingerie photo shoot.

One contestant gets kicked out each week. The one I was supporting was the most articulate and was also the first one to exit. She actually quit during the judging, deciding to become a teacher instead. What an all-round sweetie! In solidarity with her, I won't be watching the program again.

You know you're getting old when your interest in these young things is only avuncular.

Wednesday, July 27

please can I come out now?

To while away the time in Piddledorf I sorted through a few of her old photos.

- iPhone post

Tuesday, July 26

films in new south caledonia

Watched 2 interesting films last night on TV. Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood), a feelgood revenge movie. And Final Cut (Robin Williams, 2004), a flawed execution of an interesting idea - memory implants etc.

On DVD, I caught up with Gone Baby Gone, directed by ... (senior moment while I rake around in what remains of my brain) ... Ben Whatshisface the actor, and starring his brother. Very good.

But the best movie was Animal Kingdom, a harrowing plot about a Melbourne criminal family. Funny how the best Aussie films (Albert would say the *only* good Aussie films) are about crooks and bastards. Wolf Creek was another mesmerising Oz shocker.

But the very best thing in my mini film fest here was Mad Men series 4. Watched the whole 10 hours over a few days with the cellmate before she went back to NZ. I hope they make series 5, otherwise we may have to start watching from series 1 again.

Sunday, July 24


On the last night in Europe, i had a long phone talk with Dances. I can only assume he's on the bliss pills now. He asked how the job of clearing out the old dear's flat had gone. Specifically, he wanted to know if I had discovered any skeletons in cupboards.

So I told him about the step father's cupboard full of Playboys and Penthouses. And the "acquired" airline stuff - Pan Am plates, BA briefcases, Concorde cutlery. Drawers full of company notepaper. Perhaps 100 dictionaries.

I reckon clearing out anybody's house would reveal their particular brand of insanity. They should build a reality TV show around the idea (maybe they have).

- iPhone post

Friday, July 22

anchors away in frankers

The last night in Bavaria, and our hero's back where it all started in Frankers, filling the minibar for a night in.

Sadly, this time I didn't have time to find a Lidl for the dirt cheap weissbier, so had to buy Paulaner at eight times the price. And in fact I prefer the taste of the cheap stuff, perhaps even over Erdinger.

Woke next morning to a Jim Morrison breakfast of left over beer.

At the airport, there were more flight crew checking in than passengers, always a good sign if you're hoping for a half empty plane for the long haul hell.

In fact it seemed as if I was practically the only passenger checking in. My heart lifted. At this rate, I wouldn't just have a row of seats to myself, I could run up and down the aisles screaming.

But when I got on the plane, it was choc-a-bloc. It seems the reason the check in queue had been empty, was that the plane had come from the U.S. and was already full of yanks.

Dearie me! But all was not lost, and I managed to score the only empty row on the plane. Here's how you do it.

While boarding's still happening, you get out of your seat and wander around looking for unoccupied rows of seats. Memorize where they are, and mentally tick them off as new passengers come on board and sit in them.

At the same time, listen and watch for the signs that boarding has finished: did you hear the door being locked? Or have the cabin crew suddenly woken from laid back mode and become busy checking people's seat belts?

That's the moment when you notice the one remaining empty row, and you jump into it. Sit in the middle seat. Mark out the seats on either side with bits of clothing or magazines.

Sit tight until midway through the meal, when everyone's trapped in their seats. That's when it's safe to get up and move your bag and other gear from your original seat.

Lie down with your headphones on. If they've issued you with an eye mask, use it. Sleep or do the breathing.

I've just realized that what I'm describing is a modified version of the towel technique used by German holidaymakers in Majorca, marking their poolside positions the night before. Despicable me. Despicable NPD.

PS, in case you've forgotten, NPD is Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Aspergers Lite.

- iPhone post

Tuesday, July 19

die dinger sind heutzutage anders als frueher

Sings ain't vot zey use do be.

You book a bavarian train seat. They tell you the carriage number and the seat number, they even tell you how far along the platform to stand so that your carriage will stop right in front of you. Such efficiency!

But while you're standing on the platform in your allotted spot, the PA yells out: they've had to leave out half the carriages, including yours. The shortened train's at the other end of the platform.

Mad scamper with luggage. You hear another passenger cursing the bavarian railways, apparently things used to be better. I'm not going to make a cheap joke about the Auschwitz trains.

Monday, July 18

next move in the dirty protest

It was my move, so I told her I wouldn't be taking up her offer of a free shower and no need to scrub it after.

When she argued, I told her I wanted to save the poor cleaner the job of cleaning it next day. She had no answer to that.

patching up

I won't bore you with the details of my back going out, except to remind you that there's always a silver lining, so things balance up: the aunt has a cupboard full of morphine patches, and is going to give me some for the pain.

A shame I can't take them with me, unless I want to see inside a Singaporean prison.

- iPhone post

Saturday, July 16

strike breaking attempt

On her daily inspection tours, the Piddledorf Pension Plan has noticed that I haven't taken a shower at all here. The shower is bone dry and safe for spiders.

So the PPP said that as a special treat I can shower tomorrow WITHOUT having to wipe down the walls - the cleaner comes the next day and will do that anyway.

She's dreaming if she thinks I'm going to (ahem) throw in the towel now. The strike continues!

Thursday, July 14

dirty protest

The PPP makes everyone wipe down the hand basin (and the shower) after every use. She inspects the bathroom after you've used it, and there's hell to pay if there's a stray drop of water. Apparently wetness damages porcelain and taps. Who knew that!

So I've gone on a shower strike, as a protest and to avoid conflict over wiping down the walls after a shower.

I won't bore you with my aunt's rules about using the toilet, but you can imagine why my uncle used to pee in the garden. And why I choose to pee in the sink.

In the kitchen, the dishwasher is such a high-ranking device that she washes each dish by hand before loading it, to avoid dirtying the washer.

I too was raised with the Bavarian over-respect for machines. When I was young, even just lowering the gramophone needle onto a record used to bring me out in a sweat. Fortunately I was cured via a combination of :

• home DIY, where you learn to whack things, and even if something breaks you can repair it

• grope therapy, where you learn how to look dispassionately at your hangups, and re-program them.

Tuesday, July 12

das then and now

Near Piddledorf, about 70 years ago there would have been thousands of naked emaciated Jewish folk standing about in a walled compound of blockhouses and shower blocks. Many died there.

Today, 70 years later, I thought of those poor bastards as I was part of a group of naked people standing inside a walled compound of blockhouses. This time, the naked people were fat wealthy Germans, presumably aryan. I had a day pass for the sauna centre - 6 sauna cabins all at different temperatures. Showers and icy hoses and plunge pools. There's one bit where you pull a chain to empty a pail of iced water over yourself. There's no actual birching, but once you're really relaxed you can sprawl naked in the sun. Eventually you reach a permanent spaced out state, whether frying at 100 C or submerged in ice water. It all balances up.

I had 8 hours there today, including a couple of meals and an Erdinger with no trousers. I would still be there now if it was up to me, but instead I'm in bed at 8pm after some theatrical yawns.

Earlier the aunt said "tomorrow we're going out for lunch and as a treat you can choose the restaurant". Well of course everywhere I suggested she vetoed, so I ended up saying "you pick one and we'll go there". Well even once I was out of the equation, she went on arguing with herself. Bavarianism!

- iPhone post

Monday, July 11

review of the salt mine

It's the fake inside of a salt mine, located behind a shop front.

The walls are made of salt bricks, from Pakistan, and there's Dead Sea salt gravel on the floor. It's the weirdest, maddest thing. You lie there with a dozen other people, with piped vegetarian muzak coming out of the wall. Crashing waves, seagulls, tinkling bells. The best thing about it was that you get peace and quiet to try some breath training.

It was tacky and naive, and yet I felt somehow proud, that the ideas that were new and wacko when I moved in freaky circles, have become mainstream ways of ripping off flatheids too dumb to meditate but who like the idea.

I took my blood pressure and pulse, before and after.

Before: 101/68, and 72bpm

After: 110/77, and 65bpm

So it sent my deathly low blood pressure up, but my heart rate came down. A good balance. But hey, this is not just about me. How's your own blood pressure?

- iPhone post

Sunday, July 10


First report from Piddledorf.

Escaped all morning to do errands but the interrogation on return was insane and I lost it. Since then she's giving me the silent treatment

Reminds me of the old joke. If you annoy a woman, she'll berate you. But if you really piss her off, she'll go on the huff and refuse to speak to you. So it's worth putting in the extra effort.

Lunch was "lovely" reheated sauerkraut and 5 sausages (salt and preservative flavor).

Having a "nap" in my room as the only way to get some peace. Even so, because all the rooms have glass doors I'm blogging this under the bedclothes to avoid detection and a surprise room inspection.

Later we're booked in for a health-giving session at the local salt mines.

Review to follow.

Tonight, after finally drinking my way through the bottles of expensive but horrible beer that my brother left here, I'm due my first dirt cheap Lidl weissbier. Things are looking up. It all balances out.

Saturday, July 9

modern architecture

I changed trains at a newly-built station designed by an artistic genius. He used ceramics, and avoided straight lines and flat surfaces wherever possible, which makes it particularly interesting if you are old or have a wheelie suitcase. One of the platforms:

You see, Germans only know two ways of being. Either they're obsessively exact, or if they want to resist that, the only way they know is to do the exact opposite. Hence a station that's the antithesis of everything orderly, and a nightmare for passengers (but fun if you're a toddler).

There was a tour party admiring the place, on one of the few level platforms.

- iPhone post

Friday, July 8

auf wiedersehen berlin

Passed Einstein's house on the way to the station. It's in the Bavarian Quarter, where the council has erected new signs on lamp posts, based on wartime and pre-war proclamations. E.g. (translated and paraphrased): "Jews are not allowed to play music or to own record players. December 1942".

The idea is to remind people what happened. Apparently a few locals misunderstood the spirit, saying e.g. "it's all starting up again"

At the station I enjoyed some downtime before the train.

- iPhone post

Thursday, July 7


Thanks to an iPhone app, I was able to visualise how to refuel the car before dropping it off . Because at that time of the morning I was in no state to start searching for a petrol station.

- iPhone post

Tuesday, July 5

locking up

Got up at 3.30 am for the drive to Glasgow and the plane to Berlin. Locked up the old dear's flat for the last time, trying to shake myself awake so I wouldn't leave the gas on or a tap running.

As I was clearing the breakfast dishes, I realized there was no need to wash them up, and tipped them in the bin. Who says there was no fun in this trip!

Driving the hire car at 90 on the motorway, I had to open the windows and shake my head to avoid falling asleep. Not very safe. BTW the car cost only £26 for 24 hours. Dropping it off in a different city should have cost about £65, but I think the hire company must be desperate during the Edinburgh Trades. I thought it might have worked the other way round.

In Berlin now for a night with a friend I have known for 39 years, ever since Vinnie's Moll and I ran away to Germany and lived in her garage. There's nothing quite like old friends.

- iPhone post

Monday, July 4


Took the stepdad's National Health hearing aids back to the Royal for recycling. Sunny weather so walked there and back. Reminds me of being 17 and newly arrived in Edinburgh. To work off stress I used to walk to places like Loanhead.

Nowadays I walk for pleasure and on errands. This is progress.

I found the old dear's super sharp cucumber slicer, so I thought I'd make sandwiches. It slices other things too, removing the tip of my finger. Blood everywhere.

Went for tea and biscuits with a neighbor, the old dear's chum. What a hoot and a sprightly old sweetie. One thing I've learned is how to take a liking to some people right away. If only she was 40 years younger we could have a thing. Plain *and* milk biscuits!

I said - you're not from Edinburgh are you?

She said - how did you know?

Me - you offered me tea when I got here.

Oh we laughed! The only thing I don't understand is what she could have had in common with the old dear.

6 a.m. and the woman downstairs is snoring as usual, but that's not why I dislike her. She's an NPD-ite and a blamer. I've no time for them. One thing I've learned is how to write off some people right away. Saves a lot of time.

- iPhone post

Saturday, July 2

flatheid flat out in the flat

The ex with the car and the muscles helped move several loads of stuff to the charity shop. Including two sets of Rosenthal china, which should get a good price unless the volunteers snaffle it.

I bought dinner for the ex, who has turned out as mental as the rest of us.

The flat is nearly emptied, apart from the stepfather's Playboy back-issues, so I might even get some time off to watch Wimbledon. The fridge is loaded with strawberries and two types of cream, one soya-based.

What I would really like is to take some time to contemplate the flat and the life that the old dear had here. But I'm a flatheid.

- iPhone post