A very good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru.
I decided to write this after reading an article in that esteemed, if just the teensiest bit left-wing, newspaper, The Grauniad (not to be confused with its sister paper, The Guardian), about the TRUE cost of being single.
‘Aha!’ I thought, ‘someone else who has wondered why M&S doesn’t do a ‘Dine in for One for £5 with free bottle of wine’, instead of assuming that everyone has someone with whom they wish to share their Gastropub Fish Pie or Gastropub Steak Lasagne with a side of Wild Rocket (that’s a SIDE dish?? That’s just a few pieces of grass which stick in your teeth and tickle your throat, making you cough and choke!)
He Doesn’t Like Vegetables!
In fact, come to think of it, there are probably people who are NOT single who would not wish to share their Gastropub Fish Pie or Gastropub Steak Lasagne, but they are called ‘greedy’ (and they’d probably go for the side dish of Chunky Chips rather than the Wild Rocket, and the other person in their life wouldn’t even get a look in at the Profiterole Stack).
But I digress. How disappointed I was when I read the article in full and found that it was just a whiney piece by some woman who was bemoaning the fact that she hadn’t found her rock, her soulmate, her ‘yang’ to her ‘yin’, her Andy Pandy to her Looby Loo, her Simon to her Garfunkel, her Thelma to her Louise (I’m being fully inclusive here), and how the government is bleeding her dry because of that. She came up with one or two interesting facts, I have to say – there are more unmarried women alive today than at any point in history, apparently, although I’m not sure if this will still be the same tomorrow or the day after…
However, on the plus side, I find I’ve saved money because she says, on average, women spend £1,280 a year on dates. The obvious answer is – just don’t go on dates, you stupid woman!
Hah! Bet some of you thought I was going to make some obvious, sexist remark about how women shouldn’t pay on dates anyway – believe me, I learned my lesson on that a long time ago in Redditch (where I was working at the time) when my date paid for the meal but said I could choose the wine since I spoke French (logic?) then said he only drank Liebfraumilch (not my favourite tipple, as Beloved Believers will know). Not only that, when he drove me back to my flat and I politely asked him if he wanted a coffee – hoping he’d say no – he produced a LITRE bottle of Liebfraumilch from the back seat and said we could drink that instead. He got coffee.
To compound matters, as he was leaving shortly after (I made him drink his coffee very quickly), he gave me a goodnight kiss and said I was a very sweet person. SWEET? SWEET?? SWEET??? The LSG may be many things – all-seeing, all-knowing, all over the place, but SWEET??? Reader, I did not marry him…
But I have strayed from the subject again. There are times when I feel aggrieved because I have to pay a supplement for being single (hotels, holidays, that sort of thing) but they have not yet started charging a premium on single women drinking wine, and that is something for which I am eternally grateful… unless someone from the government reads this and thinks, ‘What a jolly wheeze! Let’s start a new tax for all those people drinking on their own, even if they’re happy doing that. In fact, let’s tax them even more simply because they’re happy being on their own!’ They’d make a fortune from at least three people in my family!
Have a good weekend, dear LSG followers. I shall spend it avoiding anywhere and anyone that offers me a glass of Liebfraumilch…
… and paying for my own meal.
A very good evening to you all from Cyprus! Yes, the Lifestyle Support Guru has finally managed to get away on holiday – one can’t count recent visits to York, Huddersfield and Sheffield as ‘holidays’, since they are just classed as ‘moving around oop north for a day or two’, which are not really holidays at all.
This holiday started badly, I’m afraid – the alarm went off at 5.30am a couple of days ago! How can they even let that time exist? The day should always start at something like 8.30am and move sedately on to the evening, allowing for gentle pauses along the way for food and drink, or catching a plane. Nevertheless, younger siblings and I made it safely to the airport where next-sibling-down proceeded to consume a Belgian waffle with chocolate and cream at 7.30 in the morning. I managed a small cup of coffee. Youngest sibling went to the toilet.
But I am sure that you do not wish to read about such mundane happenings, even if they are part of the LSG’s fascinating life – I only tell you these things to make you realise that you, too, can be like the LSG: you may not have a sibling who will eat chocolate waffles at 7.30 in the morning, but you probably have a spouse, a better half, a rock, a soulmate, a child, a friend, a ‘hun, r u ok?’ – ANYONE! – who can fulfil this role. But I digress… having been here for three whole days, I am now an expert on how to blend seamlessly into Cypriot life so that you appear to be a native. So, here it is – the LSG’s Guide to Life as a Cypriot:
On the first morning, the siblings decide to walk down to the harbour but you decline because you have somehow forgotten to bring a small handbag for the evenings (those who know the LSG well will realise that this is an amazing oversight), so you say you will wander to a nearby shopping centre to see what they have to offer. The fact that the walk to the harbour would take up to an hour and the walk to the shops a mere ten minutes has NOTHING to do with this decision.
Imagine your surprise upon entering the shopping centre to find that the first shop is Marks and Spencer! (Actually, that’s a lie – the first shop was Holland and Barrett, but that isn’t classed as a SHOP as such, because how can one get pleasure out of buying vitamins?) You wander in (to M&S, of course, not H&B) – just out of curiosity, you understand – and ask an assistant if they have any small bags, at which point she looks sad and leads you to the ‘bag area’. She was right to look sad – there was a choice of TWO! In fact, two is not even a choice in my mind. She will try her best to sell you a beige bag, but your eye will have already been caught by a rather fetching lime green one. You can almost hear the assistant thinking, ‘We’ve been trying to sell those damn things all year.’ But the LSG is not one to follow the fashions and trends of ordinary people – oh no, if lime green takes her fancy, that is what she will get. AND a rather nice white t-shirt in the sale also happened to jump into the shopping bag – I will swear ON OATH that the same item wasn’t available in the Derby branch of M&S last week.
The next thing to do in your attempt to become a Greek Cypriot is to get a haircut – by a hairdresser from Bradford, of course. By now, no one will ever think you are anything other than a born-and-bred Cypriot, although you draw the line at joining the siblings in learning how to scuba dive…the LSG would not wish to cause any riots by appearing in public in a wetsuit.
A coach tour of the island is, of course, obligatory – especially one that mentions a visit to a winery. Unfortunately, we booked the wrong one and ended up on the tour that visited the church of the tomb of Saint Lazarus, he who was raised from the dead. I must admit to a little shiver down my spine when we went into the crypt and saw an open sarcophagus. I looked quickly around but could spot no obvious 2,000-year-old person loitering in the shadows looking like he’d just come back from the dead, although there are one or two at the hotel who could give a good impression of him.
We also passed the rock in the sea which is reputedly the birthplace of Aphrodite, the most beautiful woman ever known, although the LSG is giving her a good run for her money.
One good thing came out of the ‘raising the dead’ tour – a rather nice lemon hooded jacket jumped out at me in Larnaca (I like to think that Lazarus played a part here – I see him in lemon), just the thing for the evenings, which are still a little chilly – and a lovely contrast to the lime green bag. All that is needed now to make me look like a bowl of citrus fruit is a pair of orange trousers. There may have been some in Marks…
One final (sort of serious) point – Greek Cypriots are incredibly friendly and chatty, but if you say ‘kalimera/kalispera/efkharisto’ at some point, their faces light up with absolute joy!
The LSG is now fully immersed in Cypriot life and could be taken for a native.
The (Welsh) Brit Pack is here and living the dream! Kalenikta!
A very good evening to you all from the Lifestyle Support Guru! I hope you have all been coping well with the snow and biting winds – don’t you just love a British spring? I have some sound advice for you tonight about visiting exhibitions and how to get the most out of them. I have recently been to two very different exhibitions and I believe that I learned valuable lessons from both. The visits were made as a result of the male siblings’ interests, since one doesn’t come across many exhibitions about my own interests, specifically ‘A hundred ways to prepare a Pot Noodle’ and ‘Cork or screwtop? A wine drinker’s dilemma.’
The first exhibition was to do with properties abroad, with a view to avoiding the British winter, although that becomes more and more difficult as the years go by because the British winter now seems to last from August to June. This was perhaps the most fun of the two because I simply stood next to youngest sibling and said nothing. (This was, in fact, quite difficult because, as the LSG, I feel it almost essential to offer my valuable advice whenever I think it necessary, which is most of the time. I think this may be the reason that next-youngest sibling always allows youngest sibling to sit in the front of the car when I’m driving, with the words, ‘I’d like some peace and quiet.’) Anyway, I digress. My silence clearly disconcerted the exhibitors because they kept trying to make eye contact with me and include me in their conversation; they are obviously not used to a woman standing saying nothing, just nodding occasionally. I smiled mysteriously at times and at one exhibitor’s stand I actually said, ‘I’m his minder.’ Strangely, they didn’t look surprised – more scared, if anything. We came away with several brochures and a cotton carrier bag which I shall use for dirty laundry when I go on holiday.
The second exhibition was a photography one, which is one of next-youngest sibling’s interests. Unfortunately, when he first said it was a camera exhibition, I misunderstood and thought he said a CAMRA exhibition and I had visions of quaffing lots of pleasant real ales. This was, sadly, not to be, but it was too late to change my mind because he’d already booked tickets. Once we arrived, I told next-youngest sibling to wander off on his own because I didn’t think ‘camera people’ would have the same approach to a silent, smiling bystander as ‘holiday people’ – they would be more likely to take a photo of me and enter it in some ‘Photo of the Year’ competition and win because of the compellingly distinguished features of the LSG.
I headed straight for the nearest coffee outlet since it was still very early in the morning (about 10.15) and I’d only had one coffee instead of my usual two. I then wandered around some of the stands, but could find none selling handbags or linen tops, both of which are high on my list of ‘things I love’, along with Pot Noodles, Pukka Pies, prosecco and frozen peas, so, losing interest, I went for another coffee. It was only on the way out of the exhibition that I spotted a stand that might have some interest for me – leather bags!
Sadly, they had a slightly strange design meant only to carry cameras and their accessories, not a mobile phone; a diary; a fat purse; a Kindle Fire; a little foldup stand for aforementioned Kindle; a little pouch which holds a mobile charger, a power lead, several different connectors, earphones and a USB lead; a Murray Mint; a little notebook; several pens; some money-off vouchers for Majestic Wines; a comb, and a couple of spare contact lenses. We came away with two carrier bags, neither of which will be suitable for dirty laundry and will simply sit in the house while I try to think of what to do with them.
So, there you have it, dear devotees – exhibitionism can enliven your life!
A very good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru! Tonight, I am going to ask you a few questions that will help you work out your place in society. Clearly, as the LSG, I know exactly where I stand – my place in the very top tier of society is assured as I rub shoulders with kings and queens, princes and princesses, film stars; however, I am equally at home with those of a more rough-hewn nature – teachers, pub landlords, coach drivers, those people who are the salt of the earth!
The questions are based on my own experiences, as always, since I would never ask you to judge yourselves unless I had judged myself first – of course, I came out as a model citizen. The rest of you may find it a little more difficult to reach such a pinnacle, but you must always strive, even if you are unlikely to match me – that is something that only a very, very, very small number (in fact, probably none) will ever achieve.
Anyway, on with the quiz:
1. You are in a supermarket (let’s say Morrison’s; other supermarkets are available, but they had the best beer offer that day) with your sibling, and have stocked up on basics – beer, wine and chocolate – and you head for the nearest (and shortest) queue and unload your trolley. An old couple joins the queue immediately behind you and you can see that the female half of the couple is looking at you and your sibling in a rather angry manner, tutting and shaking her head (the male half is looking increasingly embarrassed). (Sibling hasn’t noticed any of this – he is too busy looking lovingly at his chocolate, wondering if he can open the (very large) packet of Maltesers before you’ve got through the checkout.) You wonder what is making this old woman so cross – maybe she thinks you haven’t got a proper, balanced diet in your trolley. Silly old woman! You then realise that you have accidentally joined the ‘Ten Items, Express Checkout’ queue, which is why this old bag is so incensed – you have TWELVE items in your trolley! Do you:
a) Apologise profusely to the hag and start loading the items back into your trolley so that you can go to another queue?
b) Apologise profusely to the ancient hag but stay where you are because you’re next at the checkout and reloading your trolley would take more time than going through the checkout?
c) Apologise to the checkout assistant and say you’ll move to another queue?
The obvious answer is c) because the checkout assistant has noticed this seriously deranged female monster becoming more and more angry over something incredibly petty. She says – loudly and often and with a smile – that, since there are two of you, you are allowed TWENTY items on her till and, even if you weren’t allowed that many, TWELVE items is hardly a hanging crime (well, not in the UK… yet).
2. You are on the committee of a local group that is trying to raise funds for an event in the summer (Fashion Show, May 4th; Picnic on the Green, July 8th) and you have been asked (or maybe you volunteered – my memory blurs) to find out which supermarket does the best offer on boxes of wine for the Fashion Show (did I mention it’s on May 4th?). Do you:
a) Go straight to a price comparison website for supermarkets?
b) Go straight to the Tesco website?
c) Go straight to the Waitrose website?
If you chose a) or b), then you are a reasonably balanced individual (Tesco seems to have reined in its ambitions to rule the world for now, so I am happy to look at their website, even if I can’t quite bring myself to go into the actual store). However, if you chose c), you need to reassess your understanding of ‘society’ – ‘Waitrose’ and ‘box of wine’ do NOT go together. It may be that you need to see a counsellor to understand that we are NOT ‘all in this together’, or at least not as far as Waitrose is concerned when its ‘essentials’ range includes avocado, sirloin steak and tortilla wraps. Looking for a wine box in Waitrose is like looking for a photo of a fully-clothed Kim Kardashian – it just isn’t going to happen!
Two questions are enough to cope with for now – challenges should be realistic and present goals that can be reached and I believe that these two offer enough to consider for the moment. Coming soon – a moral dilemma involving Wagamama. Sleep well, Faithful Followers!