Beaches and Booze

Wednesday 10th October

No swimming or beach time yesterday since it was cloudy, not particularly warm (relatively) and most of the beach had gone anyway, as you can see.

Upon mentioning this to Stelios at the Gabbiano I learnt something I hadn’t heard about the beach here. What I had heard was that the building of an enclosed harbour for the boats and a breakwater to one side of the little area beside it changed the currents and resulted in the sand of the main beach being steadily eroded away and deposited over there. However, though this might be true, it now appears that a dredger used to suck up loads of sand in and about the harbour and that this was then deposited along the main beach. Since this stopped four years ago, because, of course, there’s no money to pay for it, the situation with the main beach has been steadily getting worse.

The cloud yesterday only sprinkled our windscreen on the way back home last night, but now the rain has arrived. I woke at about 5.00 to the sound of thunder and a steady downpour. This morning at 8.30 it’s grey and drizzly but the thunder has stopped. When I got up I first checked our stove pipe for leaks, found none, then spotted a pool below one of our roof windows. I’ll have to check that out when I go up to pull a plastic bag over the chimney pot – no need for the stove yet since the temperature outside is 18 and inside it’s 23.

Thursday 11th October
Why the surprise about some Taliban punk shooting a teenage girl through the head because she is bright, well-spoken and campaigns for female education? These patriarchal bullies and murderers are frightened of the mysterious packages they’ve turned their women into, and want them dim and blinkered because if they’re educated they’ll be much harder to persuade into a Semtex waistcoat. Wankers.

Friday 12th October
I’m being a good boy now and pushing myself to adhere to my target of 10,000 words a week. Yesterday, because I had to take Caroline to the dentist at 12.00, I was 1,300 words short of my target for that day. However, because I’d done just over the 2,000 on each of the preceding days I only had to do another 952 words to hit my weekly target, which I’ve done. Penny Royal II is now just 300 words away from 100,000. I also have a few sections already started, along with some notes, so on Monday I can dive straight into a space battle and thereafter advance the plot to its final physical destination … which happens to be a Polity factory station called Room 101, which was also supposedly destroyed during the prador/human war…

Saturday 13th October
The EU being given the Nobel Peace Prize is yet another case of politicians being given credit for something that has happened despite them. Much was made in a BBC discussion (during which there was just the one token anti-EU speaker) of how war between European countries is now unthinkable, laughable. One idiot even asserted that there were only two choices: the EU or war. The truth is that political and economic integration aren’t the reasons Germany hasn’t invaded Poland lately. The real game changers are global communication, transport and education. We all know that European politicians enjoy a good war and have been getting their hands dirty elsewhere in that respect since the last big one. But they cannot get us to agree to a war with close neighbours we see every day on TV. They cannot demonize people we can chat with at the press of a button. They can’t get us to hate people we can see after an hour or two on Easyjet or in the Channel Tunnel.

Of course, another reason European war would be difficult: the politicians who would take us to war are held in utter contempt and many people are smart enough now to see through their lies. They haven’t really changed since Brutus shoved a knife into Caesar. They are still ideologues or thieves, or both. Whether you think it a good thing or a bad thing, the Arab Spring wasn’t brought about by politicians but by mobile phones and Facebook.

Finally, the presentation of this prize to the EU has pushed the Nobel awards further into irrelevance. I mean, didn’t Al Gore get something? Like just about any award you can name it is highly politicized and often risible.

Monday 15th October
They had a kazani here by our house over the weekend. For those who don’t know, this is when they fire up a still and turn hundreds of litres of fermented grapes into a large amount of raki, meanwhile drinking the stuff and eating lots of barbecued food. It started at about midday on Saturday. We avoided it during the afternoon, went off for a meal at about five, then came back and joined in at about 6.30. Much raki and food was thereafter consumed until maybe midnight. The next morning they continued stilling the raki at 6.00AM. We wandered out at about 10.00 feeling a bit crappy, drank coffee and smoked cigarettes until midday, whereupon it kicked off again for a few hours. We returned to our house at about 2.00 and spent the rest of the day not doing very much.

This has basically confirmed my growing aversion to booze. I enjoyed some of it but spent more time feeling like crap because of it, sometimes a bit depressed, disinclined to do stuff, feeling like I’d knocked my health down again. It’s one of the penalties of growing older. I’m reminded of Caroline’s grandma saying she didn’t give up booze and cigarettes – they gave her up – or of my father who stopped smoking because it interfered with him being able to play his clarinet or saxophone. Drinking is okay when you’re younger, when hangovers are either nonexistent or you recover in a matter of hours, but when you enter the time of the two-day hangover; when the feeling crap outweighs the feeling good and the former stops you doing the stuff you really want to do, it’s time to think very carefully about your lifestyle.

Congratulations to Felix Baumgartner! I watched his jump on the TV and just from that perspective it gave me the heebie jeebies. It is nice to see that the ‘right stuff’ still exists.

Tuesday 16th October
I finally bit the bullet yesterday and cut all the grapevines off the pergola, dug up one of the two of the plants and severely chopped back the rest of the other. Having a grapevine like that is all part of the Mediterranean thing but up here is simply a pain. It requires lots of pruning, insecticide and fungicide, and hasn’t produced more than a handful of grapes. Because we’re quite exposed up here the usual course of events is a nice growth in early spring whose shade we avoid because we want the sun, an ensuing massive spurt of growth I then need to hack back, a scattering of grapes beginning to grow, then along comes a hot dry wind for two or three days which frazzles and rips apart the leaves and kills the grapes, whereupon we spend the rest of the year clearing up the mess every day. It had to go.

I’m well past the 100,000 word mark on Penny Royal II, and preparing for the particle cannons to open up…

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