My Italian class was cancelled tonight as the teacher is unwell, so I decided to take advantage of the extra free time (but damn it, I'd already done my homework!) and head on down to Annecy as I wanted to visit the hypermarket there. I needed to buy a new iron for sewing club and I wanted a 21 cm spring-form cake tin, but wasn't having much luck finding one locally. Trouble is, when I go to this store I always end up coming out with other stuff because their prices are pretty good and they have a much larger selection of goods than our local stores. So I came out with a new, lightweight winter jacket, some ski trousers (just in case) and new woollen socks, as I seem to be very hard on my socks at the moment. Oddly enough, every time I went to England I would come back with new sweatpants because buying sweatpants obviously meant I was going to get fit and lose weight didn't it!!! Ha ha! Still, they're coming in useful now I suppose! When I got back to my car I noticed that I'd missed a call from Jen so I called her back and she asked if I would be around the second half of February or did I have travel plans. When I told her that I was going to be around she asked if I could take them to the airport as she and Jordan are off to the States for 10 days end of February! Turns out he handed in his notice at work today and will be starting work with Max on 1 March so he needs to use up a couple of weeks' leave beforehand. His current employer was disappointed but thanked him for seeing them through the worst of the winter anyway - it's always good to leave on a good note I feel, so I'm glad he resigned "the proper way". So they are off to Pittsburgh for a few days to see my ex and Ammy (grandma), which I'm pleased about as she's 84 and he hasn't seen her for seven years. After that they're off to New York for a few days and I can already tell Jen is really excited as she's never been to the States before!!!!
When I got back I realized I just had time to fit in a quick walk up the hill behind me, and for the first time ever I made it up that hill without stopping to regurgitate a lung. I suppose I've been making an effort to walk for two weeks now so hopefully I am making steady (if somewhat slow) progress. Oh and I weighed myself this morning and I'm actually down six pounds since 2 January! While that's great, I know myself well enough to realize I can go up or down three pounds overnight, but at least it's going in the right direction for the moment!
Oh and guess what, I've got tickets to see André Rieu in Zurich in October! And I'm delighted - it will be a real treat! When "Marksgran" commented on my blog that she couldn't get tickets for Glasgow and that both nights in Wembley Arena (London) were sold out, I thought damn, that's 26,000 tickets right there, sold out! So I knew I'd better get moving. My lovely Dutchman didn't want to see him (the miserable sod) but a former colleague (we're both now retired) said he would love to go, so I checked again with Tony and got tickets for both of us. From my place it would be a 4-5 hour drive I reckon so I might shock him and suggest a "dirty weekend" and that we get a hotel! Well, actually I don't think anything would shock him and we are just good friends anyway, but I'll have to see how he feels about driving back overnight. Makes sense to me to get a hotel but we have time to discuss it between now and then!
And talking to Tony reminded me of a time I was going out to lunch and Tony was standing with Ian (another tall, lanky Brit) waiting to get the bus into town. Now Tony is very tall, and consequently has pretty big feet. I don't know what he had done on his way to the bus stop but somehow the sole of one of his shoes had separated, but not completely detached, from the upper part of his shoe, so since he was in a rush he had just wound scotch tape round and round his shoe to hold it together. Those things made a horrendous "farty" squelching noise as he walked up the path and Ian and I were doubled up laughing! I remember talking to Tony one time about buying shoes (and the difficulty I had finding shoes for Jordan when he was a young man with ruddy great "plates of meat" - Cockney rhyming slang for "feet") and he was saying that having such big feet was a nightmare in Geneva because you just couldn't find the larger sizes. He said if he found a size 50 pair in pink with ribbons on he would buy them he would be that grateful just to find something - bet he was sorry he'd missed the sales that day then!
And jumping again "from the rooster to the donkey" (word associations), the other day at Grand Bornand Jordan asked me if I had a spare pair of gloves as he had forgotten his. Which made me think back to a dreadful Saturday job I had (my first) when I was just 15. My aunt found me a job in a horrible little shop of the kind that seemed to proliferate in England at the time - you know, the kind of place that sold wool, handkerchiefs, bras and other undergarments, men's ties - I mean, I was 15 years old and into fashion not ladies bras that looked like barrage balloons (you know, the kind I wear myself now - tee hee)! Still, at 15 I was underage to be working so in the end I was glad of this job, even if they were rip-off artists. The owner, a lady called Joyce, was probably in her 60s and used to bore the pants off me telling me how she had perfect legs - taking the definition of "perfect" (apparently) used by the Zigfeld Follies (but then, what would I know). Seemingly "perfect" meant that she could put a coin between her thigh muscles and her calf muscles and it would stay there - hence "perfect" Zigfeld legs - as opposed to my bandy legs that you could drive a truck through!!! Now this might have been interesting if you had been young during WWII (like her) but to a 15 year old kid it was so boring I had to stifle my yawns more than once. Anyway, I remember one time a lady came in and wanted a pair of brown leather gloves to go with a wedding outfit, so I went through all the boxes of gloves and got out every box of brown leather gloves for her to look at. At which point Joyce came in and went ballistic saying that if the lady wanted gloves I was to get out every box for her to look at, not just a few! Thankfully the customer stood up for me and said that she had indeed asked for brown gloves so the ones that Joyce was throwing on the counter were of no interest to her! Thank God for that lady! They used to pay me a measly £2 per day at the time, but one time during the school holidays I worked six full days and at the end of the week the daughter gave me an envelope with £9 in it and said she "hadn't deducted any tax" (as if I was declared! Right!) My mom was horrified that they had ripped me off, but what horrified me even more was that while the daughter was giving me her little spiel about not deducting taxes, she was actually picking her nose, and I'm standing there thinking "does she not even realize that she's fishing for boogers while she's talking to me"! Yuck. I was so grateful when I turned 16 and got a job at W.H. Smiths I can tell you!!
But the funny thing was, my friend, Joy, same age as me, got a job in the pharmacy next door and while the young woman was showing her the ropes she said "and of course if any man comes in and asks, all embarrassed, for 'you know what', they're under the counter" (this was around 1973 I should point out). So one day a salesman came in and asked for a packet of aspirins, some cough medicine and "a packet of the usual", so Joy put it all in a paper bag and rang it up. When she told him how much, he said "what the heck have you just sold me?", and when he looked in the bag and saw the packet of condoms he burst out laughing. "A packet of the usual" was apparently a packet of chewing gum, but Joy, being new there, wasn't to know that was she. Still, at 15 years old, sooner her than me! And to think I was mortified the time a lady with a very severe speech impediment asked me five times for something and I had to run into the back and find the owner because I couldn't understand her (turns out she wanted a packet of sanitary towels - thank God I didn't ask her to mime it)!!!!
In her younger years my sister also had a Saturday job working in a fish 'n chip shop in the same group of shops (and since my brother worked in the outdoor fish market at the time I guess someone in our house always smelled of fish in our younger years then)! Anyway, these shops were a good three miles from home (and we had to walk it), but if you cut across the "recreation fields" ("the rec") you could cut a good mile off your journey, so that's what we did. But the scary thing is, not so many years later "the rec" became a very dangerous place to walk across, with more than one rape and assault taking place there - and to think we used to walk through there as a matter of course! One of our neighbours also used to make this trip back from work every night, but at a certain time every evening her family would let their German shepherd out and he would trot the couple of miles to the stop where she would get off the bus and sit and wait for her to accompany her back across the rec every night! Amazing stuff huh!
My boyfriend at the time also used to walk across the rec and I remember him telling me one time a young girl had been raped there and he, Mark, was asked to attend the police station on some vague pretext. Nobody had told him why they had him there (although he guessed 'cos he had heard about the rape), when suddenly an older woman and a young girl walked in, supposedly to report a stolen handbag. The girl took one look at Mark and then walked out. She was obviously the young girl who had been attacked and that was how they brought her in to take a look at Mark (who obviously had nothing to do with the attack). It's funny but that would never be allowed to happen nowadays would it, but at the time that was the way it was and you just got on with it. What different times we live in now though!