Sunday, 8 March 2015

'Bitter? I'm not Bitter!' said the Lemon to the Lime

‘The boy has talent,’ the golf pro reassured me as he took my bundle of notes, counted them and placed them in the till.  After just one session with him, Sr. Pedro had just persuaded me to sign Alex up for extra, one-on-one tuition.

‘I want him to be the next Tiger Woods,’ I said.

‘Oh no, he’ll never be the next Tiger Woods,’ said Sr. Pedro closing the drawer of the till and handing me the receipt, ‘he’ll be the first Alex.’

Ok, I can live with that.

Circumstance has presented us with a wonderful opportunity.  How many parents have such a sporting facility right on their doorstep?  A facility, staffed by child friendly professionals, one you don’t have to pay through the nose or queue for bloody hours to get into? 

Why did it have to be golf?  Why couldn’t I have decided to live next to a motor racing circuit? 

Each lesson is an hour and a half, which I think is plenty long enough to test the attention span of a six year old.  If it hadn’t been because I could watch my son doing anything for hours on end and not tire of it, I’d have been bored watching people bat balls over the horizon in about thirty seconds.  The pro told me to make myself scarce as he did not want me distracting the lad so I had to do something else besides encouraging the other practicing golf batters with an occasional, 'Oh, shot!'.  I rode home again.

I am really enjoying my bike.  Alex is too but all kids do, don’t they?  My problem is Charlie.  He’s grown accustomed to accompanying me everywhere (yes, even there, Marcia gets so annoyed) which was fine while I was riding Shank’s pony but bloody annoying now that I am on a bike.  If I want to go anywhere further than I used to walk, I have to hit the main road.  Charlie has no road sense whatsoever and one other habit which, while we are in the bush doesn’t matter a damn but is potentially lethal near a main road, he likes to herd animals.

The first time Alex and I rode our bikes, he ran alongside us, which was very sweet until we got within a hundred yards of the main road.  There Charlie spotted a herd of goats in the bush and hurtled off after them.

‘Quick, Alex!’ I said, ‘while Charlie is distracted, we can shoot across the road to the petrol station and put air into the tyres!’  So we quickly scooted across the main road and onto the garage forecourt.  We had crossed carefully.  This is a very busy road; it is the M1 for Angola, the main drag south from the capital city. 

Charlie didn’t cross carefully; he wasn’t paying any attention to the traffic.  All his attention was devoted to herding the astonished and increasingly panic stricken goats he had found across the main road to join us.  Some of the guys who pump petrol there know Charlie is my dog.  The owner of the station lunches every day at my place; he knows Charlie is my dog.  As the screech of brakes, the shrieking of tyres and the bleating of goats grew to a terrifying crescendo I stood frozen to the spot, fighting incontinence, my mind racing as I calculated the potential astronomic total of multiple suits for compensation.

To get to the golf course, you have to cross the main road near the petrol station.  There was no way Charlie was coming with us.  Wives do much to irritate their husbands and husbands do much to irritate their wives, this is in the nature of things when you place two people of opposite sex, therefore, other than for procreation, entirely incompatible, into prolonged close proximity.  Marcia excelled this morning.  Three times I captured Charlie and locked him in the spare bedroom.  Three times, just as Alex and I were about to set off, Marcia remembered something in that room so important to her continued survival that were she denied it for one second longer she would expire on the spot.

‘But he just pushed by me!’ Marcia wailed as I cursed her and chased Charlie.  Since Alex was smartly dressed, I thought I should make an effort so had ditched the ratty boots, long socks and shorts in favour of suede brogues, pressed slacks and a crisp white shirt.  Well there was nothing bloody crisp about them after I had wrestled Charlie a few times.  We were going to be so late.  By this stage Charlie had wised up so was coming nowhere near the house, instead sitting down the road in the direction he knew we were about to go.  Bastard.

‘Go and start the car, Marcia,’ I ordered.

‘And go where?’

‘I don’t care where, anywhere, off into the bush.  You can drive into the bloody sea so long as Charlie follows you!’

You may wonder then, why I chose to ride home again risking a repeat performance, rather than hang around a golf course.  Well, to be honest, even though Sr Faisca, the owner of Mangais resort is always very civil with me, I can’t help feeling that every time he looks at me he sees ‘failure’ writ large across my forehead.  My restaurant would have been open three years ago were it not for this boundary dispute.  The court judgment, when it eventually comes, will be in our favour but until then we are buggered.  Sr. Faisca seems to go out of his way to be nice to me, I have no idea why.  He once drove me all around the golf course while it was being constructed and even seemed to be taking note of the opinion of mine he had solicited on the works so far.  Try as I might, I got no sense he was rubbing my nose in it.  Still, I compare his place to mine and I can’t help feeling pretty low.

This time I had Charlie penned in before he knew what was happening.  Marcia was in the shop so just in case she snuck up behind me and let the dog out again while I was  bent over fiddling with my bicycle clips, I locked the cottage and only gave her the key as I passed the shop.

Alex was still batting balls when I got back to the course.

We decided that pink trousers and a bright blue shirt were sufficiently stupid for golf.

‘Look Daddy, look!’ he cried as I pulled up, ‘I can hit the ball MILES!’  He was in such a hurry to prove it to me that with his next swing he took a bloody great divot out of the tee.  He doesn’t know it yet, but what just happened to him is called the Vorführeffekt.  Like the German word gemütlich, there is no literal translation to English.  Basically vorführeffekt means the more people there are watching you demonstrate something you are normally very good at, the more likely you are to fuck it up.

In order to pay for his lesson, Alex and I had to go with the pro to the clubhouse.  The club house is co-located with the restaurant shame, embarrassment, insecurity, whatever, had persuaded me to avoid all this time.  It is very nice.  Really nice. 

I feel uncomfortable taking photos inside a restaurant so you’ll have to take my word for it that it is as nice inside as out.  Actually, it's nicer, there’s no airconditioning outside.  Having been persuaded to part with more to ensure private tuition for Alex, we were just on our way out when we ran into Sr. Faisca.

While riding around the golf course the first day we had our bikes out, Alex and I had met Sr. Faisca coming the other way in his car.  He had made to pull over, presumably for a chat but I was in no mood to talk to him so, quite rudely I suppose, I just pushed on.

‘Are you here to eat, Sr. Thomas?’ he asked stretching out his hand to shake mine and then in that uncomfortably familiar way the Portuguese have, pulling me close for a hug.

‘No, Sr. Faisca,’ I said, ‘I am just paying Alex’s golf lessons’

‘But you MUST come to eat, I really want your opinion of the food!  Come, let me show you…’

He dragged me in for a tour of the restaurant.  Since I was with Sr. Faisca, members of staff who had ignored me only a few moments before were eager to meet me.

I shan’t bore you with a description of everything I saw, save that in my opinion he had been miserly with the dimensions of the underfloor beams (the silverware on the tables trembled a little as we passed), but the tour finished with an introduction to the restaurant manageress, Sra. Sofia who graciously received Sr. Faisca’s instructions to look after Marcia and I royally if we ever chose to dine there. 

I wasn’t really that impressed with him for remembering my wife’s name.  Anyone who has ever met Marcia takes a while to get over it but I will give him one thing, if he is taking the piss, he’s a master at it.

I booked a table for next Sunday.

Mangais Restaurant

As I said, child friendly.


  1. May I suggest a leash? alternatively a GPS based wireless electronic pet containment, they work.

    1. Don't you think it a little cruel to use on a dog? Do they do them disguised as pretty necklaces?

  2. I think it was a great piss take but he was trying to be nice too. I can't wait to hear about the meal.

    1. You'll have to wait a week, can you manage that?

  3. I laughed at this - "Wives do much to irritate their husbands and husbands do much to irritate their wives, this is in the nature of things when you place two people of opposite sex, therefore, other than for procreation, entirely incompatible, into prolonged close proximity. " It reminds me of an electrician who used to come into our local pub. His assessment of marriage was this: "The sex is okay, it's all the other stuff I don't like!" Incidentally, he fell from a ladder about five years ago and is now wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life - with his wife tending to his every need...but of course, no sex any more. How ironic.

  4. Speaking as a wife who also frequently manages to irritate the crap out of her much older, sometimes critical husband, I feel I must speak up and put in a good word for Marcia here!

    There is a phenomenon I've noticed but have no word for: when I'm trying my hardest to remember to do/not do something that particularly gets under Gregg's skin, I'm about ten times as likely to honestly forget no matter how hard I try! It never fails, and normally I have a GREAT memory. I'm sure the same thing happens to Marcia. Letting Charlie out was probably an honest mistake. Try to remember that you men aren't always a picnic to live with either! You think we don't swallow our fair share of irritation? LOL!

    You should be nice to your wife and show your appreciation for all the things you LIKE about her. She seems to be a lovely woman. And you're a lucky man, are you not? :)

    1. I'm taking her out to Sunday lunch in a smart restaurant aren't I?

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Jennifer's missing comment - "This comment has been removed by the author" was "Go to hell Hippo you male chauvinist pig!"

    1. Can't understand anyone wanting to delete a compliment.

  6. The problem is that, where you fellows do one thing at a time and therefore it is uppermost in your mind, we women have a multitude of things vying for attention in our heads - washing, tidying, hanging clothes on the line, dusting , bringing them in off the line, what's for dinner, do we need eggs and milk, making appointments, going to the bank, paying bills- we are thinking of something else while we are doing these chores and so we don't pay such close attention to all your waffling on about enclosing dogs in rooms where we have stuff to do. Take Charlie outside under a shady tree, give him a bone and tie him up till you come home!!!
    PS. investing in Tiger Alex as a future golf sensation is a great idea!

    1. Most of the things on your list I do. Your method of controlling the dog is better than knocking him out, I'll try that.

  7. One of my grandsons (aged 7) is quite a good golfer, another one is good at football, another two are just hooligans, and the fifth is only one year old; there's time.

    1. There's an art to being a socially acceptable hooligan.

  8. 4 posts in 3 days. Not bad at all. Certainly enough words written to equate to the next memoirs story.
    My brother in law and myself reckon that the perfect way to go is to have separate houses for the men and women to live in with a connecting area so that couples could meet up for "comfort visits". Then the boys house can have the big tellies, beer fridges, computer games etc and the girls side can be as fluffy as they like.
    Your Sungueira equates to our Nottingham Knockers only the difference is that ours are nearly all ex cons selling tat like rubbish tea towels.
    Those pangas look dangerous. My kids had penknives for Christmas and both cut themselves within the hour. One of them did it twice as it was so sharp, he didn't feel it! The fish look good.
    Sr. Faisca seems like a very nice chap, especially as he has told his staff to look after you. The proof, of course, really will be in the pudding next week.
    And as for the cup of tea, so very English old chap. Maybe when your restaurant is up and running, you could specialise in afternoon tea. Cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off and suchlike. Making sure of course, that puppies and the like are suitably restrained out of reach.

    1. I have been thinking of building myself a separate cottage... not to sleep, just so I have a space to call my own.

  9. When my son was young his friends were playing soccer, mostly, taking ballet lessons, and things like that. I analyzed the situation and decided those were dead-end activities, something left behind when the kid was grown. Golf is good. Tennis is okay. Anything a child can learn that might give him an advantage as an adult is good. (cooking, public speaking, gardening) Sure, some adults continue to play soccer and other sports. We have a couple of those in my family. They are generally limping around with broken legs or ankles. Meanwhile just up the road from my farm there are old, retired former bankers and businessmen in their 80s still out playing golf and maintaining their professional contacts. Golf is a great choice.

  10. To go from archery to golf... is a bit of a bummer for me. However, Alex is having a blast, so my personal emotions are less than worthless. Good for him!

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  12. If I said lima to a Brazilian though would they know I meant lime not lemon? ... a very soft taste, slightly bitter and not sour at all. ... a boring fruit, I would say. ... I'm really not used to yellow lemons, atlhough I may have seen one or two in my life.


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.