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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Spot the Ladybird: another kind of Englishman

Spot the Ladybird Posted by Hello

Granny has been fiddling with the picture quality on her internet reception to try and speed it up (no broadband here.) Though there should really be a ladybird in sight -you should almost be able to count the spots- she can barely see it. She hopes you can.

The other kind of Englishman has been fast removing such beauties as above if and when they intrude on his neat gravel. Mr Handsome from Blackburn is a tidy soul - since Granny and Beloved gave him the title of 'site manager' he has tried to impose his idea of tidiness on them. This largely involves weeding and re-whitening everything. As there are many more urgent things to do - this house is like the Forth Bridge - finish one end, start again at the other- his energies have, tactfully, (see his title) to be diverted. There's a half built patio, for instance, admittedly due to the wind (howling today - the front door is almost impossible to open) or the rain (mercifully absent) it's been hard to get on with that lately. Every piece of wood facing outside (a lot of it, windows and pergolas) has to be re-varnished, urgently. First time round, lacking a Handsome, Granny did most of it, under the whip of the man who installed it ('momentito, p'...he would say - Granny's name in Spanish is very melliflous - followed by instructions to prepare/paint 80 pieces of wood plus 3 windows by the very next day- which mostly she did, reeling from the fumes of the varnish - what DO they put in it? People to install said wood of course wouldn't arrive till 3 days later...) This time round she will supply Handsome with a mask and a ladder and set him to the task- she's too busy.

Other things Handsome regards as untidy?

1) The moving in next door of the Lady with the Big and Little Dogs. Handsome disapproves deeply of the Lady. Granny was letting her dogs out the other day - Lady works all day at the airport once a week. Handsome, weeding the gravel at her feet was to be seen scowling. When she remarked, cheerfully, that mutual dog minding was a useful arrangement, his expression would have dessicated a prune at 20 paces.

2)Granny's cabbages. This has been a running battle for about a year. There was a fine plant self-seeded in the garden behind the back patio, from which Granny cut cabbages from time to time. Handsome did not regard it as at all appropriate in what was supposed to be an ornamental garden. One day she came home to find he'd dug it out. When she remonstrated he replaced it crossly under the wall at the back - coming in gleefully from time to time to say 'it's not taking; I think it's had it.' It did take eventually. More fine cabbages (try them with cooked with onions, dessicated coconut, cumin, chilli.) Over the winter, it shriveled to a stalk. 'You won't want that cabbage any more,' says Handsome, triumphantly. 'I'll have it out.'

Then he got flu. By the time he came back, more little cabbages were appearing on the shrivelled stalk. Granny has not had time to approach him on this one, but when she remarked on it to Beloved, Beloved laughed and said; 'He was planning to put a papaya there instead. Over to you.' (Bananas, papaya, olives you understand, exotica in English terms, don't count as kitchen garden vegetables in Handsome's eyes.)

Handsome has his merits though; many more than one. Unlike most English expats who huddle in their own enclaves, refuse to learn Spanish, regard the locals as worse than yokels, and patronise only English workmen and English bars, he and Mrs Handsome, despising them for this, live on an entirely Canarian/Spanish estate with useful neighbours like electricians, plumbers, policeman, with whom they are fast friends (Granny and Beloved have benefited from this.) They communicate pretty well in the local dialect, speaking the most excruciating Spanglish - particularly Mrs H - but understanding almost everything said back. Granny's Spanish, though more grammatic and more correctly pronounced is infinitely less useful.

The Janet Reger underwear Handsome buys, incidentally, is definitely for his wife. G-strings are NOT for Handsome.

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