28 February 2010

SENT FROM MY BLACKBERRY

I sent this to a few pals as a joke and it has gone viral.

Seems that all my pals meditate *and* they all send messages from their techie gizmos.

The Ionian Islands and Epirus

A Cultural History

Congrats to Jim Potts for what looks to be a fun 'n' informative must-read.

Y'all have one whole month to get your orders in:

  • Via Amazon.co.uk where you can read all about JP's new literary baby in the 'Zon's gracefully phrased 'product review' (by heck, if I was still there there'd be some honking and squealing in the editorial dept.) I wonder how Jonny 'Paradiso' Milton and Willy 'Da Bard' Shakespeare fare in their  prod revs?
  • Hand-delivered by an entrancing débutante complete with cleft stick
  • Or the de luxe delivery. Instead of your usual postie trudging up to your mountain eyrie, suddenly one morning, almighty blast of a horn and there's Big Jay McNeely on your doorstep flanked by a Big Fat Mama who sashays forward and you pluck your package from its wedge twixt her cavernous cleavage.

    I won't tell you what passes as the delivery note or where you sign her ... suffice it to say that road trips down Route 66 to Epirus will never be the same.

    Loipon,

  • Signal Books
  • ISBN-10: 1904955657; ISBN-13: 978-1904955658
  • No customer reviews ... yet .
  • Do you see these twitching review fingers? Ladies 'n' gentlemens, would you want the first review of Jesse-James Potts' book writted by the likes of me?
  • Would you want your daughter or parlour maids  reading a review of Jimbo's book by the bloggin' likes of moi?
  • Run don't walk to your credit card and order those 15 copies now - perfect gifts for when you go visiting.
  • In the love of literature! Get your rave review in now, because when I sashay into your fancy salon a month from now, I want to see His Dudicalness's chef-d'oeuvre  honkin' and squealin' right there along with all the other swanky cawfee table books you've not got round to eyeballing.

    Lord have mercy - I'll end up having reviewed the book before I get round to the albums. Gotta be a blues there, a blues about not reviewing the Blues.

    Yo, Jim - Me Ya !

    Maybe even Kalo'riziko since you're rolling a whole new book out onto the market. Enough already!

    Scribble scribble scribble, eh Mr Potts? 'Pon my soul, I haven't even got round to eyeballing 'Billy-Bjorn Bunter and the Potter Vinci Code'.

    March 3rd Talk ~ Not to be missed. A talk about the book.

    "Corfuland.gr is carrying an item in Greek about JP's forthcoming talk at the Durrell School of Corfu on March 3rd.

    Jim will post the press release in English towards the end of Feb when the book will be in the Signal Books warehouse.

    Corfuland.gr is calling this a book launch or presentation, but it will be more of a general introduction to the book and the approach JP took in writing it."

    Can't keep track of the blighter: Next thing he's spouting on the wire-less radio

  • In Greek
  • Part interview, part chat-show, part music.
  • JP asked to select about 8 to 10 songs to be played on the show.

    How to Order ~ It's Good News Monday! here's how to order.

  • Book in warehouse by end of week.
  • Print out order form and there's a 20% discount lurking.
  • Return the form to Signal Books' Kathleen May
  • Or, as JP, points out, just use my old alma mater, Amazon.com.

    (Actually, I've just tried the USA branch and Jim might have it a bit wrong: It's quicker found in the English store at .co.uk.)

  • Soonish available chez Eleftheroudakis Bookshop in Athens.
  • But KV: 'the order form featured in this blog may be the quickest way to obtain the book.' So there.

    That's what I like to see, an author out on the road flogging his wares.

    Seems there's more ...

    GREECE AND BRITAIN SINCE 1945

    Scribble scribble ... yet another tome ... in racing parlance, by David Wills out of Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

    Drone bore puff burble ...

    "In 1945 the modern country and people of Greece were unknown to many Britons.

    This book explores the transformation and varying fortunes of Anglo-Greek relations since that time.

    The focus is on the perceptions and attitudes shown by British and Greek writers, audiences, and organisations.

    Greece and Britain Since 1945 has contributions from leading academics, journalists, novelists, and public servants.

    Subjects covered include:

  • Literature by Greek writers in English translation
  • The work of the British Council and international aid agencies
  • And a television series set in Greece." (TV, egad. That's the first bit I sat up at)
  • Contributing authors include Peter Mackridge, David Connolly and Alexandra Moschovi.

    Jim Potts' chapter is concerned with cultural relations between Britain and Greece, and with the work of The British Council in Greece since 1939, and post-war.

    It can be ordered online at www.c-s-p.org or by email here.

    Durrell School ~ 3rd March ~ 7:30pm

    Efficient email from The School asks us to:
    "Please note:

  • Jim Potts will speak about his new book, 'The Ionian Islands and Ήπειρος - a Cultural History'
  • Where: The DSC
  • When: Wednesday 3 March
  • L'heure: 7.30pm
  • Wozzinit 4 U: Free to Members * Guests welcome * €10 including glass of wine."
  • Wot more U want?

  • Yo and pssst ~ If we get Jimbo drunk enough, Maria is bringing his Epiphone axe and we will 'persuade' Big Jim Roustabout Richardson to go operati epirota on us.

    Be there ... or prance with the Pelasgians.

    Miscellany:

    Gifting the Islands ~ Thanks go to 'Rue Demo' Baddeley for this Athens News' mention of Britain’s Greek Islands: Kythera and the Ionian Islands, 1809-1864, author Peter Prineas.

    Gawd the man's persistent - it's that Maria standing over him with a rolled copy of 'Cat' ~ sell, damn you! I did my bit, now it's your turn to suffer.

    Prolly won't show but do try clicking on this and dinna blame me if your 'puter bursts into flames and Arthur Foss leaps out of the pyre with that cackle he used to order another flagon of hima of the crassest.


    March 1 ~ so kalo mina, while we're about it ~ and the Potts Papyrus Publicity machine in top gear, no doubt rehearsing for the Wednesday chat about the The Ionian Islands and Epirus chef-d'oeuvre.

    Plugs galore in Corfu Blues


    The Cat of Portovecchio: Corfu Tales [I still love the way the paperbackers de-cooled the guy on the cover on the left considerably less tête farouche by balding him down. At least they left the cig in ]

    Corfu Blues - both available at PLUS Bookshop, Nikiforou Theotoki Street.

    To Poulima tis Panoreas (in Greek) available from both PLUS and Zervopoulou Bookshops ( Mich. Theotokis Street, 27, Corfu)

    The Ionian Islands and Epirus, A Cultural History ~ currently available from www.amazon.co.uk and soon avail at Eleftheroudakis Bookshop, Athens.

  • 27 February 2010

    John's Corfu World

    I can't believe it's taken me this long to add John's excellent Corfu World to my sidebar essential quik reading.

  • It's my required daily reading

  • It has this ultra cool clock that mesmerises me into losing all track of time

  • He always lists the things I want to know about ~ the Santa Theodora knees-up is a perfect example

  • He lists Democracy Street high up in his list of must-monitor blogs ... first rate.

  • 26 February 2010

    S'th Efrikan Slang

    Or should that be 'sleng'?

    Whatever ~ it's a singularly unattractive ecc'nt and you don't need to be traveling to any sporting events to find this list useful right here in Kerkyra.

    Bags of them good brus around, damn'd good types, too.

    So yes, apart from that song about Eskimo Poy, I've not known any slang or such so this guide will give me the boost I need to make further friends.


    PD James rocks

    Everyone heard PD James' drubbing of Mark Thompson, director-general of the BBC?

    One chap who did is my favourite lifetime achieving, social-history-resourcing, knowledgeable, plain-language speaking, engaging, insightful Badass Pooterley.

    Excellent comment and excuse my lèse-majesté reader-friendlier massaging:


    "I was stunned at MT's inability to speak English let alone attempt to rebut P.D.James' explicit and implicit questions of what he and others in BBC management actually did.

    He went down from Oxford with a First in English.

    I could make a better case for the rôle managers play in making organisations succeed:

  • Not least co-ordinating the work of creative professionals

  • Doing the staff work required to justify the BBC's licence fee in a far more competitive environment than existed at the time the BBC was conceived as an institution meant to maintain the canon of a relatively homogeneous and deferential society

  • And running political protection for an organisation ever vulnerable to political and economic predation spurred on by a much more assertive population of viewers than in Lord Reith's time.

    This man is a product of 'the way we live now', hired to protect a unique organisation invented in a different world.

    That BBC still just survives, but it would have long disappeared into the maw of turbo-charged commercial broadcasting had it not paid for 'protection' of the kind provided by Mark Thompson and his high paid colleagues with their incomprehensible job-descriptions and acronymic styles of expression - strung together with 'ums', 'ahs', 'you knows' and 'sort ofs'.

    They're human rottweillers - better known for their bite than their bark.

    Thompson could hardly have said any of that to the Baronness, or indeed anyone, in a public interview."

  • Bravo.

    25 February 2010

    50 Powerfulest Blogs

    I won't tell you how many I follow on a daily basis and I certainly won't own up to the owners I've got to know well online

    21 February 2010

    KoraKarnivala

    Sinbad gets it right.

    He sends me a link and comments nowt, just leaves it there for me to delete with a dismissive click.

    In fact, this is exactly what my blog is here for ...

    [Quoting my sponsors who beg me to push the 'educational' slant, bleaghh]

    ... to boldly post to trans-Pond readerships who don't know their ano from their kato.

    My much-abused Sinbad (at least I hope that is my effect) sends me a wonderful youtube of the Kora-super-Brum rave ~ going on well into the soir and showing how we too know how to celebrate Casual Friday.

    I don't hold with making it easy for today's clickers and prefer to send y'all direct to the source and scroll down to all this Carnival 2010 Ano Korakiana hootenanny.

    Another good reason you should read Blogue Baddelois @ source is to savour how deliciously wife Lin is emerging as 'Carrie' to Badass's Chazza Pooter.

    Say no more. I gave myself a fright in the church porch ce matin. Arriving to collect maman, I glanced at the guest book and saw the Baddeley nomen as visiting on the 21st of the month - cimeron! But phew, twas 21/Jan ... but quand meme.

    Postscript: I was brooding about making this a separate post, then decided it was too petty, then realised that since it happened minutes after panicking at the sight of the Baddeley hancock, I could add it here.

    I arrived to collect maman with a veritable rottweiler of a lady - non-melting beurre a l'exterieur but just below the surface she does without, intolerant of fools; I should know - and there was someone whose letter had appeared in the latest Athens News.

    She didn't mean it but she said "Hey, good letter."

    At that moment I froze, knowing what'd come next. He looked up with his anorak grin ... and proceeded to recite the whole letter at three times its repetition length. She stood there, eye contact locked.

    "Well, as I said, I liked it, seems like someone else did, too."

    John Hancock ~ conscientiously providing you with the link, I saw that JH had a connection with Quincy, Massachusetts. I have a memory burned in hot poker of that name.

    As the 1997 Hong Kong handover approached, I made the difficult decision to disrupt life and move to Texas where my ma-in-law lived, deposit wife and child and scout for new work.

    I had pals in Boston so I went there and booked into a moderate hotel and decided to fight my loneliness and strangerli-ness by striding out and distracting myself with a walking tour of the city.

    I asked the desk klurk which way was Quinssie (as I thought it pronounced) to which he affected puzzlement and assured me there was nowhere he knew called 'quinssie'.

    Within the hour and asking sensible people I learned that it's pernounced Quinzee. Quinz like twins; ee like ee bah goom.

    It was a vulnerable and lonely and unhappy and worrying time for me and that quincy/quinzy jape caught me at the precise nadir moment of questioning myself as a husband and father.

    I never forgot it and I never forgot that klerk who, bad luck for him, looked like our current speaker John Bercow - simian of face and bearing, dead ringer for an expense-account-fiddler.

    Stephanie went on to be senior editor for Little, Brown; I went on to go on, some mss assessing, proof reading, mainly raising Georgina and getting really really good at flat-top picking to a bawling kid.

    Then one day came a fact-checking job on a new guide book to Bawston and Hahvud and all points west of the Charles - and guess who was the best-equipped stranger in town with all day to to go check it wuz all up-to-date? Right on.

    And so into 'the hotel' I timidly stepped and there before me was the Klerk and I asked him how to find Quinssie and he told me ... in fact, it was pronounced Quinzy.

    Really? And why could he not have told me that 2 years earlier?

    Remembering back, it was a bit embarrassing the fuss I made, but I made my sad pathetic lonely point and left and adjusted the text to alert readers to possible patronising inaccuracies from the 'concierge'.

    Ouf! Immigrants.


    19 February 2010

    FAMOUS LIT DRUNKS & ADDICTS

    And don't tell me Chazzer Baudelaire [right] isn't a dead ringer for a dead, more dissolute Jeffrey Preston Bezos of this parish ...

    This excellent link comes courtesy of wells-sahib link-wallah ~ available from Good Links everywhere (see far right)

    18 February 2010

    JASON WHITTON

    Yonks back when I was mastering the Universe as an Amazon.com peon in Seattle-by-the-sea, I ran an unlikely powerful blog that had people stopping me in Safeway and saying,

    "Duude! You were like so fucking right about that book."
    or
    "I should make you pay for these groceries. That bar stunk - to boot, the redhead's tits were fake."

    A very astute record PR saw thru my chinless wonder fluting Oxford ways and sent me a CD by a complete unknown, one Jason Whitton whose Thriftstore Cowboy was and is an absolute joy to have as a musical companion thru life (plus I still find that album cover wonderfully dramatic).

    So that the clever label marketing smoothie would send me more like Jason, I trotted out a dutiful notice and moved on to try and actually sing the first track myself at some of my discerning gigs.

    Get this, the great man hisself wrote back to put me right on the early chords, so go clamp yer capo round *that*, buddy boy.

    So ... Life moved on and I ended here in Greece and was tootling around with some fotos and could not think of a better track to set them to than Alibi.

    I'm fully aware that M'sieur Whitton has also moved on and seldom now plays from a flatbed and has a battalion of lawyers who will descend on me and rip the gizzard of my blog open and remove this impertinent borrowing.

    But you know what? The same thing has happened as back when I first trumpeted it abroad - except that it's a leetle harder to buy the Whittons of this world in downtown Corfu - people are calling up and demanding "Who is that guy?"

    Nothing about Yo! Shit hot photos and great timing and I love the snap of Sam at the end and ... yeh, also Sam and 'Her' ...".

    All they're frigging on about is the wonderful song and singer.

    And tho' I say it myself, it does fit extremely well.

    HOW TO DO EVERYTHING

    Not 'just about' ~ *everything*.

    I've been checking and it's everything.

    16 February 2010

    Snow on Pantokrator

  • 14 2 2010: πυκνό χιόνι στον Παντοκράτορα για δεύτερη φορά μέσα σε 20 μέρες
  • 14 feb 2010: snow in the Almighty for the second time in 20 days

    Thus am I informed by the excellent blog of John's Corfu World complete with video.

    I had my suspicions about JCW in the early days but he mentions The Peace Wager so he can't be all bad.

    Speaking of whom, Dottore Baddeley gave a talk recently at the Durrell School about relations between the British and the Ionians in the 19th century.

    I missed it for reasons I'll only share with my shrink but I totally get what it was like because not two days later I was experimenting with a new brand of cigs in a new caff when the table behind started to discuss the evening.

  • "Not bad for someone who's been here such a short time"
  • "He didn't make neahleh enough of the Metternich connection/effect/factor" (I forget which)
  • And that was that.

    I thought, 'Metternich'? but I haven't looked it up.

    Do you remember the catch-all answer some wag came up with that would guarantee one mystique and respect?

    "But not in the south."

    Whatever the question or put-down or discussion, however little you know - nod sagely, maybe a few 'loipons' and then mutter, "What you say is all very well, my friend ... but not in the south."

    Well, I'm going one better henceforth and using the Baddeley Defence,

    "Very impressive. You've done your homework. You'll fit right in here on the island.

    Just a comment - no one else will spot it - but you're a little light on the Metternich connection."

    Commentaria

    Dr Baddeley likes it.

    LHC John Young's 'highly confidential' 1857 recommendation to the CS that Corfu and Paxos become British Colonies while the rest of the Septinsular be ceded to Greece, was leaked while Gladstone was en route to the islands to tell the Ionians that Queen V wouldn't let them have either enosis or independence for the time being.

    Enquireth SB:

    "Did I really need to go into all that on a nice winter's evening chatting about LHCs and the Ionian radicals?"

    Apparently so. I've heard from more than one of SB's audience that night that, Yes, puleez, to have gone into all that ~ and a mighty bore and swizz it was that a delightful and informative soirée was spoiled for a min'orth of tar by some idiot imaginary stopwatch ticking over the affair.

    The Youtube link is this one and don't tell me that early shot of our donnish hero didn't strike a momentary chill of recognition:

  • Housemaster wants to see you, 7:30 sharp.
  • As you walk down the corridor to his study, every junior leans out of their horse-box to taunt you with descriptions of Dame Cane's knobbed and cutting qualities that night
  • The prefects have to play their part:
    "I say, Holmes, I hope it fucking well hurts."
  • Your footsteps echo more than usual, or is it the fear?
  • At last you arrive at the door. Knock knock. Silence. Come on! If I can get here on time, so can you.
  • "Co-o-me"
  • Enter gingerly. The creep isn't even looking up at you, he's head-down in some fricking book or someone else's test paper.
  • I mean honestly! He's set the time; he's heard the commotion as you walked the gauntlet. Heard your knock - albeit a little dozily - and he bade you enter, so there're one or two clues out there that you're in the vicinity.
  • Nay, lad. 'Chalky' nails it in this clip and the madeleine whooshes to the surface.

  • 15 February 2010

    Be my bogof Valentine

    Three delightful letters in the Daily Telegraph on the subject of 'bogof' Valentines (whatever they are)

  • Alan Bennett of Carterton Oxfordshire (the AB?, shurely not?) was
    "sure my wife will take up Tesco's 3-for-1 card offer: one to send to me, one for her friend to send top me while she waits to see if I acknowledge it (No), and one to send to herself to see if I get jealous (No)"
  • Gordon Lamb of Newcastle upon Tyne:
    "ASDA has offered cards 'To My Wonderful Wife' at £2 or three for £5"
  • Malcolm Allen of Southampton
    "was offered two for the price of one when buying a bereavement card."


  • 14 February 2010

    Dick Francis RIP

    So farewell, then, Dick Francis ...

    I notice how tactfully the press gloss over the question of how much he actually wrote of his stories, but that's not the point.

    In this life we have to box clever but above all we have to box solvent.

    As Dick neared the end of the useful money side of his career as a jockey, he needed to leverage his assets - don't you love my Wall St lingo? - and what more sensible way than team up on the Underwood with his shrewd wife Mary?

  • Dick knew racing backwards and talked it well
  • He was a charmer whom no one would want to catch out
  • Team Francis and those novels were the franchise to which the book trade aspired.

    I worked briefly in a very humble PR capacity for his publishers Michael Joseph in the mid 1990s. I wasn't trusted with heavyweights like Francis or Jeremy Paxman but I was handed the poison chalice of Spike Milligan's 5th volume of his Irish trilogy 'Where have all the bullets gone' and I had the honour of plucking Geoffrey 'Rogue Male' Household out of the publicity 3rd division and effortlessly land him the press coverage he deserved.

    I had been in the business 12 years earlier, handling the PR of the stellar Secker & Warburg and basking in the reflected glory of their consistently fine books.

    I returned to the business as a disheveled hack for hire but Francis remembered me with David Farrer from a launch party he'd attended for 'Breeding for Racing' and a charming bijou auto-biog, "Horse Sense" by the mischievous Alan Deacon.

    Dick was married to an essential appendage for a writer - a disciplined wife - and we all knew to pass all PR schedules thru Mary.

    One day I happened to be hanging around the lobby when the Francises came in and I made a passing flattering remark about a literary trick he had used to keep the interest up and which I hoped would survive the proof copy to the bound edition.

    Something about Dick's nonplussed look gave the impression that he not only had no idea what I was talking about but that he did not WANT to know, and the look he exchanged with Mary also sparked my curiosity.

    De mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est, I always say but now is as good a time as any to share this snippet of memory.

    I thought nothing of it and went about my days until one evening bumping into the formerly powerful lit ed of the Sunday Express, Jack-Good-lookalike, Graham Lord, I mentioned my frisson of puzzlement.

    Lord reacted quite vigorously and shared his own opinion, later voiced in his unauthorized biography of DF where he suggested that the Francis canon had in fact been written by Francis' wife Mary.

    As I say, who cares? Certainly not MJ's editrice to whom I oozed up in an effort to find out more.

    But once you know that, you watch the TV interviews more closely and damn me if Dick didn't paint in very broad brush strokes, that and the fact that he was a legend that no one would pull down.

    "Dick - I think this is one of your best thrillers - I could hear the hoofbeats drumming off the pages. One of the best scenes is where you have Colonel Kircudbright stay behind to switch the tonics and then leave by the laundry exit. Did you ever know this trick to be played in real life?"

    "I'm glad you liked that bit because it was great fun to write.

    You've just reminded me of a style tip the Queen Mother gave me after reading an advance copy I sent her."

    Who could quibble and for his belly flop on the Queen Mum's derby favorite, he deserves all the rest he's doubtless enjoying.
  • Sameness = Francis' strength
  • ChatRoulette

    Ghastly invention, like that Beautiful People nonsense where you're barred entry even if you look like me.

    The Human Shuffle ~ Is ChatRoulette the future of the Internet or its distant past?

    Tommy-rot bah humbug!

    Nothing but dough-faced yoofs looking for lookalikes of my daughters at which to look askance.

    NY Times commenting

    Tales of Old Hong Kong


    Must buy for all the umpteen Holmeses and Gittinses and Ho Tungs and Halls and our whole family that grew up in that time ... ought to review it here n there too, I suppose.

    13 February 2010

    Hound Head Henry

    Listen to this chap. He is good, and how often does arrogant moi bandy that one around?

    He plays what I do and likes the usual goodies but he does it better than me - with odd gaps, such as Renbourn's Judy that he misses on some of the subtleties or emphasises that really aren't hard to hit.

    But very sound on the blues and rags men and it's always good to see Avocet plucked from.

    Listen to the way he refuses to stint on legato and has made sure he knows how to play the damn'd tunes before starting the recorder.

    And I do love the way so many of the clips start with a very slight hesitation as if easing into the tune.

    I might add that as an affectation to some of my own instrumentals ~ give 'em a more human feel, then when one gets going and really kickin' ass, it won't seem so show-offy and automaton technique.

    Like that bogus Tommy Emmanuel who hasnt a soulful pad on his pinkie

    Don't listen to me - go to HH's page and just work your way down the generous repertoire ~ I've sprinkled enough links around and when do I bother with that? All winners.

    Bravo that man.

    10 February 2010

    This is for you, Ashley.

    The moment I saw this I thought 'I know exactly who will absolutely get this'.

    Good times.

    09 February 2010

    Griks nix no-cigs fix

    The sonorous Malcolm Brabant spot on form as ever:

    "Rich and dynamic scene of resistance ... Wilful delight in defying authority"

    Great stuff.

    08 February 2010

    IN VINO INVITAS

    I'm thinking of a dedicated mezzanine floor in Château d'Enfer for those over-enthusiastic types who take advantage of us in our cups.

    You know how it should work:

  • Out for a good time, food and booze of the best, witty sparkling fellow guests
  • In fact, as the vino goes down, so our appreciation and love for our New Best Friends goes up
  • Evening ends - boo hiss - passionate farewells swearing eternal fealty, extravagant invitations to visit, stay, scoff, marry youngest daughter.
  • Home to impenetrable drunken slumber ZZZZ.

    And there it ends, or so you'd hope and think.

    Up to a point, Lord Copper. I've noticed my poor mama seems to attract the heat: she knocks it back, issues extravagant invitations which - get this, poor thing - seem to inspire people to actually take them up.

    Of course, by the time the wannabe invitees get back to Maman, all memory of the evening have long since swirled down the memory hole.

    Whoops - but have you ever thought ...

    She was fronking sloshèd FER CHRIST'S SAKE!!

    But for my stalwart Mum, noblesse oblige so, despite not have a clue who these people are, she sets about cleaning the house, arranging new flowers, mopping and tidying the patio, clearing the paths ... and, of course, spending literally hours in the garden itself, trudging up and down the steps to make sure the garden shows itself to the best.

    And guess who gets dragged into helping? Ioanni Sapouni, that's right.

    Whatever else I had planned - forget it. I should've kept a closer ear on Mater's Sancerre-sodden ramblings because now we're both lumbered with half a day's frantic preparation to be nice to a bunch of strangers.

    It takes three hours to shop for the nibbles, including driving and dithering. 'Guests' seem to think that we'll be appeased by an offer to bring crisps and tsitsibirra but we don't do teenagey junk and we don't serve it to our guests.

    Out to the shops where we change our minds umpteen times - cheese pie, sausages in pastry? small tomaytoes in that yummy sauce ... then of course we spot things for a major shop of SNOOPS so that's another 30 mins as the dread hour approaches.

    Back home, cook, clean, decant, polish, rake, make bed, straighten paintings ... all the while my mother is calmly getting her wonderful amuse-gueules together

  • "So who are these friends of yours that are coming?
  • What do they do?
  • How did you meet them?
  • Where do they live?
  • Have I met any of them?"

    "Mum - I haven't the faintest idea who they are. You met them two days ago at Lani's ... for four hourse they danced attendance on you as you regaled them with tales of the garden and paintings and 1001 Hong Kong nights. As I dragged you away, you showered invitations all around ... and now they're taking you up on it.

    Those of you who have tried this trick on me will know I stick to the same dulcet script.

    Wannabe Guest:

    "Yo, Chris! Gosh you were on form the other night - talk about firing on all engines.

    So ... I'm good to gig any time, dude. Just let me know when Big Jim Potts is ready to rock, and you did say you might be able to pull in Raul Scacchi and Kaliroe Raouzeou (fuuck - the Kaliroe Raouzeou? That would be awesome.)"

    It's round about this point that the twerp sees my stony expression:

    "You don't know what I'm talking about, do you? OK, so we were talking about-"

    I stop him there. I don't care what we were talking about.

    A simple checklist:

  • Did I perchance have a glass of firewater nearby?
  • Was I bright of eye and lightning of quip?
  • Did every woman in the room want me for her bed?
  • Did I leave protesting everlasting lurve and y'all come round to my place anytime ...

    Yes? Well, that prolly means I was hog-snortin' commode-huggin' DRUNK.

    As for any invites or promises, read my leaps and rearrange the following into a well-known phrase or saying:

    OFF ... FUCK

    Loipon, back to my trying to jog Mum's memory of our boorish guests when suddenly there's a scrunch of gravel and the groan of a clapped-out jalopy making the final steep turn.

    My mother rises to the occasion and dons her sunniest smile as she sweeps to the door to greet them:

    "Oh for God's sake! What a time for sightseers!

    Hullooo? I saayy ... terribly sorry but can we make it another day?

    Not a good time. We're expecting guests."