Thursday, 10 January 2013

MANT! Half Man, Half Ant - All Terror!

The girl on the right in the foreground is saying, 'It's so Big!'
The girl in the red dress looks curiously satisfied.

I am bored.  Intensely bored AND irritated.

Four days ago was the anniversary of me paying the contractor the proceeds of my house sale up front to complete, what he assured me would be a six week job, namely to build me some cottages and finish the restaurant off.  A year later my family and I are still living in a breeze block shack with a wriggly tin roof.  It has been a game of poker, the stakes ever higher with the first to stack being the loser.  This forced indolence is driving me slowly insane and the share prices of Scottish whisky distilleries and British American Tobacco up.

But, as I explained to Marcia, 2013 is the year we WILL move into our new cottage.  2013 IS the year her new shop will open.  This is the year we will serve our first paying clients in Fat Hippo’s, the bar and restaurant that by next Christmas, EVERONE will be raving about. 

I have tried to keep myself occupied with various community projects some of which have met with gratifying success.  Normally impatient by nature as I am, the contractor has given me a new definition of stoicism:  he grins and I bear it.  I have also realized that by giving him the job, he has finished only my tools.  There’s not a single one left.  The tropical rain forests are safe in his hands as his projects are small and progress is glacial.

The fact that Marcia has not discovered to her horror (or relief, I can’t be too sure now), me dangling by the neck from the rafters of my own Jango having kicked the chair from under my feet is testament to the therapeutic effect of blogging.  It does help one maintain a tentative grasp on the real world; that and reading the Telegraph Online.

If I appear a little acerbic today, by the way, put it down to the fact that yesterday, while delivering water, I broke my little toe.  The left one.  I am just as fond of my right little toe as I am the left, as indeed I am of all my remaining digits but it is the left little toe that is currently the focus of my attention.  It bloody hurts.  Marcia, of course, insisted I be rushed to hospital.  To what end?  To divest myself of a few hundred dollars paying for a considered and qualified opinion, backed up by an even more expensive X-ray that I had broken my left little toe?  I can see that for myself and Dominic confirmed the fact when he cruelly gave it a tug and saw just how far the skin stretched.  And then what would the treatment be?  Planting my foot in a tub of plaster of Paris?  I am close enough to howling at the moon in frustration as it is.  This is a hot and sweaty environment and Athlete’s Foot is, as a result, an all too common affliction.  Imagine being denied the relief of a good scratch and a dose of Mycota powder?  So sod it; as Harry Palmer once said to his boss, I’ll walk.

I can live with the fact that the power steering on the truck does not work and when fully loaded, my only recourse when trying to affect the direction of its motion is to plant a foot on the dash and haul on the steering wheel with all the might arm muscles like spider’s kneecaps can induce, so I shall be interested to see how I cope with the three or four million gear changes required between here and the gas station over pot-holed roads bearing in mind that the heaviest clutch the manufacturer could find is installed in my truck and is operated by the left foot.  Broken toe or not, we still need fuel for the generator, water to wash in and cook with.  Sitting here typing is only delaying the inevitable and if Marcia gets back from town and finds me still sitting here after my macho refusal of definite medical attention, I suspect I will definitely be in need of medical attention.

One of the things I really like about the Blogosphere is its unpredictability.  Most of the blogs out there, like anything else, are crap but when you find a good one, it is a delight.  It is the electronic equivalent of browsing well stocked bookshelves.  Unlike regular authors and publishers, however, bloggers tend to recommend other bloggers they like by posting links to them on their sites.  If I find a blogger I like, I then click on all his links and give them a go.  That’s how I discovered one of my favorite bloggers, John Gray, the St Francis if Assisi in Wales.  I didn’t wake up one morning, slurp my tea down to recover from yet another hang over and suddenly decide to plug the words, ‘Charming’, ‘Gay’, ‘Raconteur’, ‘Twingo driving health professional animal sanctuary Wales’ into Google.  I just tumbled across him through someone else’s blog.  Mind you, with a million zillion followers and three times as many hits to his blog, I suppose it was inevitable.  Blogging is rather like Embassy parties but without the free booze.  You meet a lot of people from around the world and just occasionally, you hit it off rather than start a war.

I found Magnon’s Meanderings the same way, by meandering through other people’s blogs.  Cro Magnon’s blog is exactly what it says on the tin and is an indication of what life could have been like for me had I not had such an incurably romantic notion of a life of adventure.  Now I fully understand what my Father was trying to say when he warned me to be careful what I wished for and also that the expression, ‘May you lead an interesting life’ is actually a curse, not a blessing.

I think SirPud of the North found me.  He is a semi-retired English teacher living in Yorkshire, a keen fell walker, outstanding photographer, and given his lifetime’s vocation quite literate as well.  I say semi-retired as he is currently in Thailand teaching English to, well, Thais but he is also the head of marketing for the Real Yorkshire Pudding Company.  I’d never heard of them either but the puddings are nice.  Learning that his departure on temporary contract to Thailand was imminent, I begged him to use his time there fruitfully and find me a decent Chef for my restaurant.  I have this idea of a sort of Asian-African Fusion.  He assured me that so long as he could find the right kind of flour and some proper chicken eggs ‘like as what ‘e ‘as at ‘ome’, he would train someone to make the perfect Yorkshire Pudding and send him to me. 

Just as I use Going Gently, Magnon’s Meanderings, Megan Blogs and Yorkshire pudding as salutary reminders of the value of maturity, humility, dedication to study and good old hard work, I use other blogs to distract me from the knowledge that these are qualities I generally lacked. 

The IdiotGardener is hilarious, often irreverent, occasionally risqué when it comes to nieces (mind you, so am I) and definitely entertaining.  He recently visited the city of my birth, Berlin, and was distinctly underwhelmed which proves that not only does he have eyes in his head, they are connected to a functioning brain.  Sir Owl of the Wood is completely and delightfully barking mad.  If ever I was masochistic enough to marry again, he would be my first choice as photographer.  Imagine, an African wedding recorded in sepia; me in uniform and stiff collar, the bride in traditional robes, bare breasted natives in attendance, a dead lion or two on the lawn and ivory much in evidence.  Naturally I would have to invite Bashing Bambi over to run the honeymoon safari and provide the fresh meat but I could see my bride having an issue with him if he insisted she marched up the aisle at a 140 beats to the minute and ordered the page boys to swing their f*****g arms waist belt high, press down on their thumbs, have their necks in the backs of their collars and to LOOK UP!!! 

Mr Bananas, the World’s leading anthropological ape, would naturally have a role to play discreetly and diplomatically advising guests on matters of etiquette and protocol in an African environment.  Although since, as a guest, it would not be expected of him, I am sure he would be useful in ejecting any gate crashers, principally the Baboons who, no matter how hard they try to change their appearance, cannot disguise the fact that unlike any of my legitimate guests, they sport blue arses and throw pooh rather than bread rolls at each other (I will need to introduce Sir Owl to Mr Bananas to avoid an embarrassing mistake).

The FifthColumnist would be invited to add a much needed touch of class and, should he choose to accept such a delicate and dangerous mission, design the décor.  I very much doubt that a man of his taste would be twee but if he did decide that the semi-naked bridesmaids should enter with fluffy sheep in tow (in favour of the goats more common here), John Gray could bring some with him along with heaps of Scoggots, a sort of cross between Scotch Eggs and Faggots, to add to the festive board.  They are, he assures me (Scoggots, not goats), tasty, camp and very expensive, though I am sure he says the same about his partner, Chris.  I have it on good authority that Chris describes John as tasty, camp and usually covered in mud.  Chris had the builders in before Christmas and when, on Christmas morning, Chris showed John the results of his investment, John was overwhelmed and wiping tears of joy from his eyes thanked Chris for the new sheep dip.  ‘Sheep dip?’ said Chris somewhat bemused, ‘Sheep dip?  This is your flaming bath!  Unless you go through this every night, you ain’t coming in the house!’  I had to laugh when the RFWF told me that but I will never reveal my sources.  I am also digressing.

I would definitely invite Ian Morley of ‘A Buzz About Life’ and his lovely new family. He holds the title, by Royal Charter, of Master Beekeeper of the North and is a dab hand at converting honey and other hedgerow fruits into the more palatable form.   If this is to be a traditional, medieval wedding (otherwise Sir Owl would cancel and have me horse whipped for wasting his time) we need, in recognition of my mixed European origins, mead, Bärenfang, and elderberry wine to augment the fermented palm sap and iced ganga tea cocktails on offer here.  I am sure that he and John Gray would get along famously as they are both fascinated by queens.  In addition, Marcia is pretty religious so a secular ceremony wouldn’t do but I would want it at least to be ecumenical rather than wholly Roman Catholic.  Swing over to Ian’s blog and take a look.  I could mark him down as the duty Rabbi, couldn’t I?

Who else?  Well, Megan of course.  The Bitch on the Blog, Ursula, claims Megan is really my mother but then she also claims to have seen Elvis shopping in Tesco’s as recently as last Tuesday.  Ursula’s blog should really be called ‘Mad Teutonic Bitch on the Blog’ and while at first I hesitated to include her because Marcia just would not understand the necessity for me to give her the shagging she so evidently desperately needs in international arrivals, I am sure she would be wonderful as after dinner entertainment when Mr. Bananas locks her up in a cage on the lawn along with the gate crashing baboons allowing guests to bet on the outcome.  I know where I will be placing my money.  A quick tip, if Ursula buttonholes you, drink copious quantities of iced ganga tea, it won’t hurt as much.  Megan will be the voice of calm reason and will probably get on well with Mr. Bananas passing the time discussing the rather odd way naked apes start to behave when exposed to intoxicants.  In an emergency, I warn you, Megan packs a blade and knows how to use it.  Promiscuous sailors have girlfriends in every port.  Megan has a rather gruesome collection harvested from over amorous and now emasculated men from every port.  Megan and Mr. Bananas, together with Bambi Basher will, I am sure, have every aspect of security covered.

Although Mr Bananas would, as head of protocol, sort out the seating plan, I would urge him to place the Fifth Columnist and the Sarcastic Ninja on the same table, though not within arm’s length of each other.  I am sure the conversation would be both lively and entertaining.  When it comes to critiquing art, Ninja San suffers from Coprolalia, whereas Fifth Columnist is appalled at the mere mention of dust on his urns.  If I can avoid the magnetic attraction of the waitresses, I shall try to spend time at their table.

Until recently, Chris of Grow, Fish Eat, held the distinction of being the only blogger to have two of his blogs listed on my site.  Sadly, and for reasons I do not understand but genuinely hope were not traumatic, he lost his title of Master Bee Keeper by failing to post on Bees Make Honey for so long, the Royal Commission had no choice but to strip him of that honour and award it to Mr. Morley the Rabbi instead.  I hope there will be no ill feeling there but, just in case, I will with the utmost servility (rolling over on my back to expose my belly, throat and genitals), advise Mr. Bananas to seat the two of them on separate tables.  There can be no suggestion, however, that Chris is not THE Cecil B DeMille of blog videos and competitions.  I am sure that, suitably armed with his video camera, he would capture the less formal, human side of the festivities such as Ursula dominating the baboons and teaching them to harmonize to Lili Marlene or me breaking the all-time record of vow- to-divorce by goosing the waitresses.
George from The Flee and Float gets an invite too.  There is so such thing as a free meal so he will understand when I ask him to catch the fish course using his incredibly fine hand-made floats.  Perhaps he could make a few big ones so that we can try shark fishing with Ursula (as live bait) once she has finished the baboons off.

Just recently, I stumbled across a blog by the rather exotically named Mr. Alviti.  This is a name straight out of a Graham Greene novel or a collection of short stories by W. Somerset Maugham.  (Head of SIS speaking: ‘Tom, I would like to introduce you to Mr. Alviti, he is Our Man in Havana’.  This said in sonorous, respectful tones while the air around is suddenly scented by the aroma of the secretaries knickers spontaneously combusting).  Really cool until you learn his first name is Ken.  Why spoil an outstanding surname like Alviti (quickly smoke about half a dozen Capstan Full Strengths while thinking of Eartha Kitt and then say it…  Alviti) with a first name like Ken?  Just think if he had been born a girl?  His name would, I daresay, have been Barbie.   Barbie Alviti. 

Action Man, I mean Ken, is a worker of wood and, if you look through his blogs, quite an accomplished one.  He is also, like me, trying to live as self-sufficiently as possible.  I hope he is doing so out of choice and not the necessity that being skint imposes although, having seen that the only footwear he can provide his baby daughter are a couple of plastic bags, I fear it may be the latter.  He also looks a bit ‘ard so he gets an invite so long as he is willing to provide a bit of free retina surgery with his undoubtedly finely manicured chisels on those blind gits calling themselves carpenters currently working on my site.  Big Don Alviti (Ken to his closest Made Men) is now the man with two blog links on my site. Honestly, it was an offer I could not refuse.  Exactly how do you make brawn out of a horse’s head by the way?  I’ll ask cook. 

If you are into carpentry and trying to live the good life, Ken’s blog is one to follow.

Why all this talk about weddings suddenly?  Well, follow my reasoning.   My decree absolute came through nearly a year ago (gosh, how time flies; must buy myself a watch and save on airfares) so now Marcia, the longtime girlfriend has been encouraging me to ’commit mant’.  Commit what?  I Googled Mant and all I got was ‘half man, half ant’.  It sounds bloody awful and whatever it is and however you achieve it, I don’t fancy it.  I suppose I am just like the next bloke and enjoy a bit of kinky sex once in a while but which bits of me does she want ant-like?  Jeez, I could have understood her desire more if she had said that she wanted parts of my anatomy donkey-like but ant-like? 

Do you think if I married her she would forget all about me having to commit mant?

With apologies to Matt and the Daily Telegraph


  1. Yes, I see you have a bit of devil's work too, but instead of dusting you write amusingly about a Fifth Columnist and some other lesser known bloggers.

    I rather like this new nomenclature, although the only thing I am trying to undermine at the moment is DHL, they of undelivered bulls, but deliverer of much b.s. Apparentky according to today's bulletin, it will be another ten days, or something. I'm wildly losing interest.

    So I can understand your boredom and irritation, although in the latter you have endured a few months more. Well twelve. But unlike you, I am not assuaging the pain with alcoholic infusions. Oh no. Just polishing my halo, whilst I dust urns, and when/if it arrives, a bronze bull.

  2. mai pen rai, my dear friend!

  3. I thought it was only your well that was bored Sir?


    Now then, a wedding stuffed full of colonial and African elements - if I couldn't get a front page with that then maybe it's time I hang up my badger-poking spoon and take up spaghetti-farming.

    With regards to your contractor, have you considered hog-tying him and then leaving him in a room alone with the be-loved for a short discussion? He doesn't actually need functioning testicles to do building work ...

  4. My doctor says there isn't much one can do for a broken toe. He just tapes it well to the toe next to it and says to give it time. Good luck.

  5. That sounds like the best wedding ever! I would try to keep my urn-dust comments to a minimum and focus on more tasteful things, such as baboon poo-throwing.

    As you note, that girl in red looks quite satisfied; perhaps investigating mant-committing might be ultimately beneficial?

    I hope your toe is soon mended and that the contractors have a close and personal encounter with a mob of angry honey badgers.

  6. Thanks for that blogger review...there are a few new names to chase up and more stories to read....such is the joy of blog life I guess...
    Most of us here are bored,isolated,lonely,middle aged,in need of a challenge,interested,like minded,inquisitive,( delete as appropriate)
    So a few minutes catching up with your Angola traumas is often a welcomed change from the humdrum,bad new days, we are all so used to.
    Especially as it written with so much humour and skill....

    Re the toe...I know how you feel. I fell out of the front room window a year or so ago ( trying to save a baby rabbit) and broke my toe
    Fucking painful
    Chin chin old bean x

  7. Sir Owl!

    Droll, Sir! Regarding wedding attire, I wanted to wear a kilt with the sporran on the inside just to frighten any curious natives but I suppose a dead badger would do if you have one to spare.


    Thanks, quite by chance I appear to have followed your doctor's advice. Great minds and all that!

    Ninja San,

    I suppose I had better marry the girl then. It would be a shame to lose out on a good party. It would also give me the opportunity to practive manting with the bridesmaids and waitresses.

    Honey badger, yes! Mind you I am not putting one of them up my kilt or I'll have nothing left to mant with.

    Earl Gray,

    So you are saying that falling over in the pooh, having oily mechanics protect their overalls from your car, getting caught all the time by the Lady in the Passing Car doing something beastly with your dog's bum, flooding your house out and latterly hurling red hot tea bags around a Welsh tea room is MUNDANE?

    The manner in which I broke my toe was mundane, I just stubbed it on a corner. You, however, have to break YOUR toe by doing a para roll out of a window. Bloody drama queen!

  8. Barbee said what i was going to say regarding your toe. I've broken my little one a few times, and the big one on my right foot once. The pain seems disproportionate given the size of the digit.

    Having had to use a clutch with a fractured foot this past September and October, i learned to put more of my weight on the part that wasn't broken. Try focusing more of the ball of your foot on the clutch and put more leg into it. Keep the toe as immovable as possible when you clutch, and see how that goes. For bumpy roads, do not rest your foot on the floor, but keep it suspended, so when you jostle around, it can move freely without bumping. Oh, and one more thing, elevate it as often as you can. It hurts less. Paracetamol is okay to use for pain, but don't use analgesics, as the inflammation that goes with broken bones helps them to heal.

    A wedding in Angola sounds like a splendid idea--if we all arrive, can you guarantee our safe passage through customs on the way home? Well, not so sure that all of us will be leaving, given some of the scenarios you paint.

    Oh, and for the record, i don't believe i emasculate men so much as wear some of them out. The ones who think their jewels much bigger than they really are--you know, the all sizzle no steak sort.

  9. Megan,

    Your first paragraph; Blimey! You are even more careless than I am but you are right, such a tiny little thing but such a bloody nuisance (mind you, Marcia says that about my willy)

    Para 2: Yes Mummy.

    Para 3. Depends what you want to take out but Yes Mummy, I would never let anything happen to you.

    Para 4. Was one of those my Daddy? I was just thinking about inherited traits...

  10. I love the link, but I must pick on one fault (believe me I hate to do this and when you see what it is your'll understand why).
    My name is Kev. Not Ken. Kev. I know this doesn't make it sound any better, in fact Ken might be the better choice. Although I like the name Big Don Alviti more, but alas we already call my father the Don - but it will be my turn one day!
    I thought I'd say now before months had past and I'd just let you carry on, then there would have been that akward moment where you relise you'd been saying the wrong name and I just let you carry on!
    I'm glad you like my surname though, I've always been rather partial to it - one people won't forget.
    As for your builders maybe I should meet them! I've sacked plenty of guys in my time and if they're taking as long as you say maybe it's time to give them the push or go further and concrete them into the building, that way at least they'd be of some (structural) use!
    Can I also say that your posts are written with such a degree of skill and humour that they are a joy to read (and I normally go for blogs with lots of pictures).
    Thanks again and if your excuse me I'm off to make a dress for my daughter out of some loo roll and an elelastic band (we're not skint honest...) as it sounds like we have a wedding to attend to!

  11. Didn't mean to sound so uncoordinated or pendantic, but yes i have stubbed my toe a few times were it went Beyond the Bruise. Figured i'd pass along what worked for me, as i like to avoid pain, and some of those silly little things, like keep your foot off the floor when driving, are things Occupational Therapists or doctors don't seem to share.

    I don't kiss and tell, but i shall go so far as to say that if there's no steak, there's no payoff.

  12. Delighted to have been mentioned in dispatches Cap'n Maurice! It's been a pleasure making your acquaintance.

  13. Big Don,

    I have sent my apology to you in the form of a new post. Once again sorry and please do not attch my head to the floor with a nail gun!


    I took in the kind spirit in which the advice was given. I just couldn't resist teasing!

    If we are talking about quality of meat, all I could offer you is spam.

    Sir Pud

    Silver oakleaf in the post! Just have it sewn diagonally across the ribbon of your Long Service and Good Conduct medal or as we called it, 14 years of undetected crime!

  14. Congrats on the wedding news. Last night, coming on ten years of marriage to my better half (though it was fun to stumble around in a circle prior to meeting her), she says to me: "If you ever marry somebody again, don't..." I honestly have no idea what she told me not to do.

    I waited for her to finish, smiled sweetly and replied: "Honey, believe me: I will never get married again."

    That is how you keep a marriage for ten years (so you know what advice to avoid and not accidentally stumble into).


Please feel free to comment, good or bad. I will allow anything that isn't truly offensive to any other commentator. Me? You can slag me without mercy but try and be witty while you are about it.