Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

In need of a rest

May 4, 2011

Rosemary’s visit was a bit of a mixed bag.

I was really worried that she would be bored by the fact that we couldn’t go out much for various reasons including Bear and his painful knees plus moodiness and the fact that Jay’s car broke down and was only just ready in time to take Rosemary to Paris to catch her train.

On the plus side, we had ample time to talk and relax and also enjoyed a few good family meals, especially CC’s birthday, but also the delicious dinners Jay produced for Rosemary’s first and penultimate nights with us.

The few outings we had into town were mainly necessary ones because CC  found that her card had been used fraudulently and this meant reporting the fact to the police ( not once but twice!) and waiting on a very hard seat for well over an hour to speak to the officer concerned.  Rosemary also accompanied us in waiting in  queues at the bank. It wasn’t that there were lots of people in front of us, it’s just that it took ages to deal with one or two customers.

When the car broke down there was a frantic call from Jay but I was glad Rosemary opted to stay at home with a good book as it meant waiting around in the hot sun in a busy road until the police came to push us into a safe position. The chap from the local garage went with Jay to tow it back to the garage after lunch but they couldn’t deal with the fault because it was electrical.

They had to take it back to town to the electronic specialists who reported that it was a ‘vicious short circuit’ which took a very long time to track down.

We were on the point of buying train tickets to Paris when they announced it would be ready on time – just!

Whale has finally been taken into the Centre for Re-Education for some intensive physio. Apparently he will be there for a few weeks but can come home at weekends. It would have been an opportunity to go away for a few days if Bear were more mobile and painfree but it just isn’t worth it in his state of health.

Did I hear you suggest that I might go away on my own?  Fat chance; he wouldn’t like that.

Bear is Jealous

July 8, 2010

It’s some time since I had a little moan about Bear  and,  in all fairness, he hasn’t been too bad these last months.

However, our weekly lunches à deux at the local restaurant often turn into an opportunity for him to let off steam.

Take today: he suddenly launched into the usual invective aimed at Whale, CC and Jay but mostly Whale.

“He should be in a home”

“I can’t bear the sight of him”.

“I refuse to eat at the table with him.”

“You spend more time lookng after him than you do looking after me.”

When I protested that I hardly  spend any time with Whale – although he does call me more often than he used to but, as a rule,  it’s only for things that can be done quite quickly – Bear came out with his latest idea:-

“Alright, I’m going to do a time and motion study on you to prove it!”

It seemed better not to say that he might have trouble doing that since he gets up much later than I do and sleeps for most of the afternoon.

Meeting Daphne and Johnny

April 20, 2010

We are completely different – chalk and cheese.

Both of my sisters said this to me before we met and so after getting on so well with Rosemary I couldn’t help wondering if this weeks experience would go as well.

I needn’t have worried because Daphne and I hit it off immediately: in fact we all got on like a house on fire. Bear was mostly well behaved and very pleased that Johnny had come too because it meant we went out as a foursome and he didn’t feel ‘left out’. The only disadvantage was that Daphne and I didn’t have much chance to talk together as a twosome but we still managed to learn a bit about one another.

Rosemary and I have plenty in common – ranging from a fear of spiders to an interest in complementary therapies and things spiritual but  Daphne and I discovered that we both dislike wearing hats and gloves and both rushed into marriage to  get away from parental influence – something we both regretted!

Both of my newfound sisters are very straightforward and outspoken but Daphne reckons Rosemary is ‘the shy one’ so when we had a little incident at a restaurant Daphne was highly amused to see that my reaction was more akin to her own than her sister’s.

It happened like this:

We arrived in Givet about 11.30 and went for a drink at a cafe in the main square.  Midday drew near and as there would be no shops open for a couple of hours we decided to stay there for lunch. The manageress installed us at a table by the window and gave us the menus.

We chose the set lunch for the day which was a choice between snails or asparagus for the starter,  guinea fowl or sea food tagliatelle for  the main course and cheese OR strawberries to finish.

A few minutes later another couple came to the table next to us and gradually the restaurant began to fill up. We ordered our drinks and then the starters arrived.  The couple next to us didn’t have a starter and so were tucking into their main course.  They finished, had dessert and coffee and we were still waiting for our guinea fowl and pasta. At first we talked about the two hour lunch break – the French leiurely lunch –  but as more food found its way to other tables I caught the attention of the waitress and asked if our meal would be long.

Some minutes later she came over to our table, saw that our knives and forks were unused and exclaimed in surprise, “Haven’t you had your main course yet?”

“Non!” I replied emphatically.

“If our’s  isn’t here in five minutes I suggest we leave” I said to the others and they agreed.

At half past one there was no food so I went to the waitress and told here we were not prepared to wait any longer. We would pay for what we had eaten and leave.

“But it’s just coming” she said.

“No, we’re not hungry any more.” was my reply.

We went to the counter to get our bill but there was already a queue of (satisfied) diners waiting to pay.

Daphne and I went to the toilet but when we came out there was still no sign  of  the bill being ready.

The manageress said something which I didn’t hear (but realised that she must have said “C’est bon” – meaning they weren’t going to charge anything.)

The chap next to me repeated her words as “C’est bon?” meaning “is it OK?” so I launched into my complaint about it definitely being  PAS bon to be kept waiting for an hour and a half.

The manageress came nearer and hissed “Vous pouvez sortir.” – you can go!.

So off we went with Daphne laughing her head off at witnessing my stroppy side ( and saying she’d have joined in if she could speak French) while the menfolk were delighted that we had enjoyed several drinks  and a pretty good starter ‘on the house’.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Daphne and Johhny’s stay was only a few days but we packed in much more than we had done while Rosemary was here because of the miserable weather.

Bear took us out every day and we explored the locality and enjoyed the scenery.  At the Animal park we  managed to see some of the local  wildlife but as it was late afternoon by the time we got there most of the deer had full tummies and were resting in the depths of the forest. (They only appear readily if it’s a warm day and people arrive at opening time with bags of dry bread.)

However, we did see real boar in contrast to the monstrosity  ‘parked’ by the Reims-Charleville motorway. The big ones fought one another for pieces of bread thrown into their compound and even the babies tried to slip between their feet to get a few crumbs.The little ones (called marcassins) are very pretty with stripey coats.

It has been a real pleasure to meet my two sisters and I’m sure we’re going to make up for lost time now that we have found each other at last.

I’m really looking forward to seeing them both again.

Summoned to the Gendarmerie

April 15, 2010

While Jay and I were taking Rosemary back to Brussels a letter came asking us to present ourselves at the Gendarmerie at 14:30 on April 15th. We assumed it was about the problems our postlady has been having with a neighbour but I must admit, it crossed my mind that it could be something more serious – a driving offence perhaps?

I needn’t have worried because when we arrived this afternoon, a very pleasant young lady gendarme let us in and asked how she could help us.

“We’ve been summoned to see Mr Gendarme Martin” I said.

“That’s me,” she smiled and after keeping us waiting a few minutes she took us through to a small office where we squeezed in between the files to sit  in front of her desk.

I plonked the large English-French dictionary on the corner of the desk in case we had translation problems but she took our statements and typed quickly as we spoke. Jay preferred to say it in English and have me translate but she didn’t find that a problem.

Neither of us could remember the date or the exact time of the incident so she must have thought we were pretty useless witnesses. She finished by asking each of us if we had ever had any problems with the postlady or the neighbour in question and we both said that the postlady was always smiling and charming but also had to admit that we had never, personally had any difficulties with the man opposite. She printed out what she had typed ( correcting my grammatical errors) and we read and signed them.

Claudine, our neighbour, has also been summoned but she says she dare not get mixed up in it because it wouldn’t do to get on the wrong side of Mr M.  Oh well, we’ll have to wait and see if he decides to put a brick thorugh our window.

The Energy Healer

April 12, 2010

You may be wondering why Rosemary signs  her comments as The Energy Healer so perhaps I should say something about this aspect of my sister but I hope she will leave a comment if I’ve given the wrong impression or misinterpreted anything.

She told me our dad was a healer  – ( I have to admit this surprised me) – and that she, too had trained to be an energy healer because she had always been interested in the way he could help people.

After telling her about my battles with high blood pressure during the course of our communications I was pleased, one morning to find that it had gone down for no apparent reason. You can imagine my amazement when I later read my emails and hers began:

“Hope you don’t mind, but I sent you some energy last night . . .”

It didn’t stay low for long, though but I  have to admit it didn’t go up into the 190’s as it had done. Rosemary said it would be better if we arranged a time so that I’d know about it and could be in a relaxed and receptive frame of mind.

However,  that wasn’t as easy as it seemed. We decided I would call her one evening and then go and make myself comfortable on the bed.

But, would you believe it, after feeling the excitement of anticipation all day I fell asleep in front of the telly and was woken by the beeps of  my mobile when she texted me!

Covered in confusion I tried to settle down on the bed but despite the fact that I had told Bear what was going on he came bumbling in a few minutes later, turned the light on and announced he was coming to bed.

So I went back in the living room and relaxed on the armchair. Guess what – Bear came through, switched on the light and started talking about this and that (I really can’t remember what it was).

I gave up, rang Rosemary and explained the difficulties.

“Oh well, it wasn’t meant to be”  was her calm response.

Nevertheless I have personal experience that distance  energy healing definitely works and Rosemary told me how she had sent energy to a friend’s daughter after she told her that she had been ill for several days with some sort of virus.

It seems her friend went home and found the little girl had suddenly recovered so she accused her of putting it on to get out of school. She later read an email from Rosemary telling her that she had sent some healing energy at the exact time  her daughter got better.

Obviously, I wanted to talk to Rosemary about this subject but it is far from easy to understand. She explained that we are made up of energy like everything else on and including the Earth.  What she said was fascinating but difficult to get my head round. To really understand it takes serious study and commitment. I’d like to delve into it but have to admit I’m lazy about devoting the time and self discipline required although I have read some of the books and articles she has recommended.

It wasn’t possible for the two of us to get away from the family for long but Rosemary did give me  a session of Chakra healing. This involved working her way up from my feet to my head. The strange part about this was that there were times when it felt as though she had more than two hands. She explained that the angels and spirit guides could often join in and lots of people had this experience.

Among the presents she brought over were some crystals for calming and since wearing them I have to say my blood pressure has behaved much better.  No doubt the Healing session played a big part as well.

The next thing I’d like to try is meditation but, for me, it’s really difficult to get into the right frame of mind. Maybe I’ll have to wait until I see Rosemary again.

Rosemary’s visit.

April 9, 2010

We are just back from taking Rosemary to Brussels for her train back to London.
On the way we didn’t chat as much as we did coming home 11 days ago. There must have been 1001 more things I wanted to ask but I felt a bit empy knowing that this was the end of a delightful time spent getting to know my sister but, of course, we’ll carry on emailing and phoning as we have since we first found each other.
The first week of Rosemary’s stay was grey and wet outside but very warm indoors while we exchanged photos and told each other about our lives and families. Exactly as I’d hoped, it felt as though we had known one another for years. Rosemary was ‘one of the family’ right from the start. She simply fitted in immediately.
CC and Jay took to her straight away and even Bear was charmed – and charming most of the time! Whale was pleased to meet a new face and someone who took a real interest in him and what he had to say.
On Easter Sunday our friends from the next village came for lunch and Rosemary witnessed a somewhat chaotic version of my entertainlng. The main course of stuffed turkey escalopes was an experimental  dish that would definitely not have earned me a place on Masterchef.  Between us, Bear and I managed to drop the peas all over my lap and the floor and I forgot to warm the plates so the meal got a bit cold before we could finish it.
Jay, on the other hand produced some super meals with his well tried recipes like aubergine bake  and fish pie with a crispy topping – not to mention his delicious canapes such as prawns with hardboiled egg and smoked trout and cream cheese on blinis.
So, apart from all this talking and eating what did we do?
Well, once the rain had stopped we ventured into Charleville to show Rosemary round but it was a much more interesting day out when we went to Reims by train. There was a slight ‘Bear moment’ when he made it clear he wanted to come with us but felt that we didn’t want him. In the end we left it to him to decide whether or not he was coming so that he wouldn’t accuse me of leaving him out.  His knee was playing up so he stayed at home but then, as it was the first sunny day for ages, Jay and CC decided to put Whale in the car and  drive to Reims to meet up with us.
We had just finished lunch (outside in the sun) when they emerged from the underground carpark nearby. Unfortunately Whale has to use his old, decrepit wheelchair when he goes out in the car and Jay had a very hard time pushing him over the many uneven surfaces  but we visited the cathedral and looked in numerous shops before driving back together with Rosemary, CC and me cosily squeezed into the back seats.
Jay stopped off to take photos of Woinic, the monstrous boar which is a symbol of the Ardennes.
‘She’ was going rusty so they have painted her a horrible brown colour.
The next day we suggested that Bear might like to take us out for one of his scenic tours. He readily agreed and actually drove quite safely so that, for once, I wasn’t sitting in the front seat gritting my teeth.
He took us to the local brewery so that Rosemary could buy some beer and glasses to take home for the men in her family. We tasted the latest brew – called Woinic (8.8 per cent alcohol) – but Bear stuck to coffee and soft drinks!
The time went far too quickly and as Rosemary has a fulltime job and a couple of weddings coming up I can’t see her being able to come back for quite a few months but she has promised that she will, and of course we’ll keep in touch.
And, of course, our other sister, Daphne,  is coming for a long weekend next week so I’m meeting them both in quick succession.
I invited Rosemary to write a post giving her impressions of her new family but she said she’d rather just add a few words of her own and here they are:

My stay with my sister Sandy and family.

During our previous conversations and through reading her blog I had been warned of the various personalities. On the day I arrived we had a fantastic welcome meal the French way. It didn’t take me long to realise that to survive in this household you need an unlimited supply of tolerance.

However putting all that aside, I felt I had known Sandy most of my life:  CC and JJ were lovely and between the three of them I was fed and watered with wonderful culinary delights. I will even be taking recipes home with me.

Bear –  well what can I say, considering what I had been told in advance he was very well behaved. We had a couple of times when he showed his “I’m here, you’re ignoring me” personality.

Whale, Sandy, CC and JJ will probably not agree with my comments. However, I felt sorry  for Whale at times but having had several conversations with him, I found he was easier to communicate with than the Bear. I possibly need to learn some more about History though for my next visit.


An amazing Christmas Present

December 23, 2009

If I gave you thirty guesses you would never  imagine the early Christmas present I’ve just had.

Would you believe it – I have discovered two half sisters I never knew about!

Maybe I’ve mentioned before that I never knew my father and my parents separated when I was a baby. It was a pretty acrimonious divorce: my mother refused my father any contact and even told me he wasn’t contributing to my support, when, in fact, he was until I was 16. She put the money in a Post Office Account and gave it to me years later.

Anyway, sometime ago I started a family tree on Genes Reunited and the day before yesterday I received a message from R who is the youger of my father’s two daughters with his second wife.

She sent me a photo  and it was amazing to look at her picture and say to myself,

“That’s my sister!”

She also sent me a family photo so that I could ‘meet’ my three nephews – really handsome lads.

We have already exchanged umpteen emails and some more photos and last night we talked for well over an hour. By a strange coincidence my father remarried in the same year that my mother did and he died just two months after she did in 1997.

We have so much catching up to do but I already feel completely  ‘at home’  with her. She sounds really friendly and easy to get on with. Dare I say it’s as though we’ve known each other much longer than 48 hours.

She is hoping to come and see us in the Spring. I can’t wait to meet her.

Don’t you think that’s the most amazing Christmas present ever?

Oh Christmas Tree!

December 5, 2009

Who would have thought that organising the Christmas tree could cause strong feelings?

Well, knowing this household,  perhaps it’s not that surprising.

Jay and I managed a trip into town without Bear and on the way back Jay suggested going to buy a tree.

We had a bit of an argument because I wanted to get a smaller one but in the end we compromised: I chose the shape but he chose the size. . . . .

It was impossible to get it into the house without  Bear noticing and he started complaining about it being too soon, too big and absolutely impractical.  Good start.

Jay and I looked for the tree ‘support’ that is usually kept in the garage but it was nowhere to be found. We searched the attic and eventually asked Bear if he’d  ‘seen’  ( a euphemism for hidden away) it anywhere.

This led to further grumblings and chunterings and Jay went upstairs in a huff.

Bear dragged the tree into the garage and was there for some time. When  he emerged  I found that he had sawn off quite a few of the lower branches so that the tree could be put into a ‘bucket’.

I managed to persuade him that he’d done enough  and we’d  ‘finish in daylight tomorrow’.

Jay and CC came down, saw what he’d done to the tree and weren’t happy! They decided to wait until Bear went to bed so that they could do it their way. This meant going out in torchlight to bring in earth, stones and a suitable container. 

 We planted the tree in the pot while it was still wrapped up but Willow managed to find a way in!

Eventually, after going outside for yet more soil, the tree was stable and we set it free.

Willow thought it was a great indoor climbing frame and managed to shimmy her way around inside it with ease, popping her head out from time to time. 

We went to bed wondering whether it would still be standing in the morning.

As soon as he woke, Bear was off again.

“I know what they were up to last night. Why they have to do everything so soon I don’t know. You rush into things. You don’t think. It’s all your fault. If you were a good mother you’d give them a good hiding!”

Fortunately, by the time CC and Jay came down, Bear was in a co-operative mood and was talking about looking out the lights. As I had started the mincepies  it was CC who helped him untangle them and the tree was decorated without further argument.

Willow had to be banished to the conservatory though.

All in all, CC did a great job of making the tree look gorgeous and we finished on a very cheerful note with mulled wine and mincepies –  a family tradition of ours to start  the Christmas season when the tree and decorations are put up.

But Willow was still determined to play a major role:

 

P.S. If anyone is interested, having just celebrated my 65th birthday, I’m copying Z’s idea and posting a look back at my life on my other blog (see top right corner.)

The lighter side of the holiday

September 9, 2009

Looking on the bright side, this last weekend did bring home to Bear the fact that, with the best will in the world, we couldn’t possibly undertake the longer holiday he has been hoping for.

It was fine while we went around with our friends in their car but they had to leave early on Sunday and that left us with the rest of the day to kill in Calais until our train to Lille  in the  afternoon.

We walked along the sea front taking frequent breaks on the wooden seats to stare across the sea at England as it was a very clear day and to watch the ferries as they came and went. Our brief walk along the sand on Saturday had done Bear’s knee more harm than good so we didn’t dare go on the beach and the town centre was much too far.

We passed the  time until midday and then went to the hotel for lunch. Even though we tried to make it a leisurely meal we had finished before two o’clock and asked the receptionist if he could order us a taxi for about three. Then we waited in the small lounge area beside the dining room until the cab turned up.

We arrived at the station with loads of time to spare and so sat around again until the train came in. It was a scrappy old model with torn, uncomfortable seats and filthy windows but we were able to find a couple of places where you could just about see through the glass.

We weren’t expecting it to be crowded but quite a few people boarded before we set off. Strangely enough it stopped at many of  the little stations we had passed through on the way there and more and more youngsters got on, two of whom played very loud music.

“Must be time for the University to go back”  we thought, but when we arrived in Lille we found that it was the annual ‘braderie’ in celebration of the beginning of the mussel season. The station was packed and the town was heaving with bodies, stalls selling all sorts of rubbish and heaps and heaps of mussel shells. There were skips overflowing and mounds of them on all the street corners and every eating place was advertising “moules frites ” .

We had been told that the hotel we had booked was 200 metres from the station so we asked directions from one of the many policemen. He told us which exit to take and said it was beside ‘Flunch’  so we managed to push our way through the crowd until we found it.

We decided not to risk going out to eat but dinner at the hotel was disappointing. We tried their speciality of  ‘poulet au maroille’ – chicken with the local cheese. It was tasty but not very hot when it was served. Dessert was a rather tired apple tart for  Bear and a meringue and ice-cream concoction in a plastic container for me. The wine was served in a litre carafe and we were informed that they measured it after the meal and only charged for what we had drunk. Coffee arrived thirty seconds after dessert so it was a bit tepid by the time we were ready to drink it. This third rate repast cost over 60 euros!

What is it about the typical English  tourist that makes us accept these things without complaining. One of my excuses is that I don’t trust my French to be able to express my complaint in a suitably strong but polite manner, but I have to admit I would probably chicken out in English as well, unless I was feeling particularly stroppy.

 The streets had been cleaned up pretty well and were fairly empty when we ventured out just after 10.30 next morning.  Bear wanted to photograph the organs in the Cathedral and Church of St Meurice so we made our way in a stop-start  fashion to the latter and after helping Bear to negotiate the steps I sat down on a hard chair while he fiddled with the camera. Organ-hunting used to be quite a pleasure in the days when I was  enamoured but I have to admit I find it terribly boring now.

With St Meurice done and dusted he made noises about finding the Cathedral. But it was twenty to twelve and they’d be locking the doors at noon so it wasn’t worth it but we proceeded slowly in the right direction until Bear was near to collapse  and, luckily, came upon a small café.

We sat down gratefully at the nearest table in the shade of a tree but after the young lady had taken our order it became very noticeable that the local dogs had watered the tree copiously.

“It stinks of dog pee” I complained but Bear was not too keen on getting up and moving to another table. However, after a few minutes, the whiff penetrated his nostrils as well and we moved away.  Lunch was a light meal of quiche and salad for Bear and tuna salad for me before we set off for the cathedral.

It was still closed when we found it but there was a garden with seats where some of the locals were having their lunch break. We struggled towards an empty bench and Bear almost fell onto it. With more time to kill I began to regret not bringing my book with me. We sat in silence  and I found myself wishing I was at home.

Eventually the doors were unlocked and we went in. A beggar at the door waved a plastic cup under my nose asking for money. I told him I hadn’t any change – which was quite true;  in fact my purse was completely devoid of any money at all – but he followed us into the church and tried again a few minutes later. Fortunately he had gone by the time we  we ready to leave.

Several coffee stops later we decided to collect our case from the hotel and make for the station. We might as well kill time there as anywhere.  We found seats in yet another coffee shop and I left Bear there while I went to look for the toilets, clutching the handful of coins he had given me.

The signs seemed to lead nowhere so I had to ask a chap in SNCF uniform who informed me I had to go down the escalator and turn right, down some more steps. Sure enough there was the unisex loo with a stern looking attendant at the door.

“How much is it?” I asked her.

“Fifty”

I counted the coins Bear had given me: it came to 42.

“That’s all he gave me” I pleaded

“Well you’ll have to go and find some more” was the response.

Thank heavens I wasn’t in ‘desperate mode’. Back up the escalator I went and asked Bear if he had another 8 centimes.

A few minutes later I was back at the toilet with a 5 euro note.

The attendant grinned broadly and handed me the change.

We left the coffee bar and found a seat facing the departures board. Time passes very slowly when you’re bored and the seats are hard but at long last the platform number came up and we were able to make our way to the train.

Thank goodness it was a modern, comfortable train and we found a group of five seats where we could keep the case with us, and hopefully, not have anyone in the seats opposite. As it happened a lady did have to squeeze in until the first stop but after that the train was practically empty.

During the last part of our journey I broached the subject of Bear’s  difficulty with walking and the fact that a longer holiday wandering about all day without a base just wouldn’t be practical.

Much to  my relief he agreed. Our anniversary trip will be reduced to 48 hours.

A Short Holiday

September 9, 2009

Some friends of ours were coming to Calais to shop. They only had three days – not long enough to come and see us so Bear and I took the train to Calais last Friday.

It was grey and miserable when we left but by the time we reached Valencienne the sun peeped out from behind the clouds and it stopped drizzling.

By the time we changed trains at Lille it was warm with blue sky and sunshine and at Calais, despite the strong breeze, it was like a real Summer’s day.

Our friends met us at the station and whisked us off to the hotel to check in before going to Auchan. We left them poring over the goodies and went for a coffee and snack  as we hadn’t had lunch and Bear has to eat regularly now he is on insulin.

He chose a ham and cheese sandwich which turned out to be a whole baguette while I had a rather disappointing Croque Monsieur – the bread wasn’t toasted so it was soggy – but it prevented us from fainting with hunger.

Our weekend was spent visiting Cap Gris Nez and Cap Blanc Nez, from where we could see England very clearly, watching out friends shopping, sitting on the beach (!) and eating.

During Saturday evening dinner Bear started complaining that I was less than enthusiastic about our forthcoing anniversary. We have often ‘laundered our dirty washing’ with these close friends but my heart sank when I forsaw it all coming out again. They’ve heard it all before and are careful not to take sides.

But this time, when he was bemoaning the fact that I didn’t love him any more (to get sympathy), while he loved me ‘as much as ever’ I’m afraid I had to get involved.

“Didn’t you realise how much I loved you? Didn’t you know how much you hurt me in the past? What did you think when I told you you were killing off my love for you by the treating me as you did?”

His response was a classic:  “I didn’t believe you”

Our friends were flabberghasted – and so was I: I’d  never heard that one before, but it was enough to lose him any sympathy instantly.

He realised this and shut up. Our friends decided it was time to retire and we went to our rooms. Nothing more was said but I couldn’t get to sleep for ages going over the past and getting nowhere.