The Fred, The Mongoose and The No-Fish

Freddyboo

My Fred is not a ‘thick bastard’ as John describes him. Ok so he walked into a rock because he was staring at a mongoose. That doesn’t make him stupid that makes him very sensible because those mongooses are shifty little beasts. I stand with Fred on that one. Mongoose have a look in their eyes similar to the look I see in the face of a Jehovah’s Witness heading towards me with a copy of ‘Watchtower’. In my opinion Fred is far from stupid, he’s an example of Darwin’s theory; he has adapted to his environment and survived. Fred may be timid when it comes to mongoose, boat lines, bangy-bats and his own shadow, but I think this is a genetic timidity, one which I’ve observed in a lot of the Antiguan dogs. Fred is still the most kind, gentle and loving little dog we’ve ever had in our family. It’s almost a shame that we cut his balls off so he can’t pass on those street smarts to the next generation, but Antigua has enough problems with strays without my Freddy’s genes out there too. John did not get a verbal blasting for slating the lovely Fred because I am a reasonably tolerant person. I do shriek like a banshee when someone comes steaming through the harbour at over five knots because that sends Mahalo bucking around on her mooring lines like a donkey with a chilli up its arse but I’ve never killed anyone because of it. In fact I’ve never knowingly killed anyone. There are a couple of males in Yorkshire who carry the psychological and physical scars from having a broken nose. In my defence one twanged my bra strap when I was twelve and he got both barrels of my fury – yeh yeh I know, me in a bra at twelve. I think I had the theory that if you build the scaffolding around them, they will come. I’m still waiting. Still, at least I won’t get chaffing on my shins from my nipples when I’m seventy. Oh, and the other guy who got a broken nose called me a prick-tease. Of all the names I could be called that one is not remotely apt.  Anyone who has known me over the years knows for a fact that if I said I was going to fuck someone, I did*. Bloody male entitlement, grumble grumble he was lucky to walk away with his gonads still attached.

 

My tolerance is tested differently now. Since throwing open the doors of our small home to guests through Airbnb we’ve met great people – I touched briefly on this in a previous blog. For John, the suggestion to run our house as a part-time small business was not an easy sell but once the accounts showed that ten days of bookings pays for a whole month’s community charge and utilities he was swayed to my way of thinking. The only inconvenience we could envisage was that John wouldn’t be able to walk around the house with his love tackle hanging out once it got to rum o’clock and his one man Pink Floyd axe solos would need to be turned down a little – I don’t mind the mad axe solos, it’s the one hundredth attempt at that ONE phrase in ‘Purple Haze’ that he just can’t get which is slowly murdering my love for Hendrix. So in rolled the guests. Some required a little more work than others. We met the incredibly adventurous Holly-human, Simon-human, Daisy-baby (I’m assured Daisy is human just in miniature form but its such a long time since I’ve been around babies that I had to be reminded) and Scrump-dog. This vibrant family unit are sailing their way around the world and they have been drifting in and out of our lives for the last few months, now they’re finally on the next stage of their voyage. We’ve had vacationers from Harlem, Chelsea and her partner Taj – wide eyed energetic young people who I am absolutely sure will make a difference to this planet. We met with Hary from Berlin, a first time sailor who kept coming back to walk the dogs even after he’d left to join his boat! We had Billy from Virginia who works as a journalist in Canada. We spent too many nights sitting up talking with Billy. We didn’t quite put the world to rights but we did wonders for the distillery’s profits here on the island. We had part of The Barmy Army pass through in a frenzy of perfume and tutu skirts. Kosta from Vancouver who was a real dark horse, that’s not true, Kosta is far from dark as his feet paid testament to when they got sautéed the first day he was here. Kosta is originally from Russia but moved to Canada for a new life, he decided to learn how to sail and now he competes on serious big-girl&boy racing yachts, Awe inspiring in the truest sense of the phrase. Many of our guests were absorbed into our un-scheduled life and we hope that no one has required therapy once they have returned home. So tolerance? Why? Well there’s always a real chance when you throw open the doors to your own home that you’ll get a real bunny-boiling psycho-troll rolling through the door. We’ve been reasonably lucky on that score, we’ve never actually told anyone to fuck off, yet. No the risk is that someone will show up with political and religious views that are polar opposite to our own. We thought we’d got away with it, until last week. We took an out of season booking – two people from Louisiana – last minute through some friends of ours. I had to set aside my own prejudice and allow them in with a completely open mind. My prejudice – the same as all prejudices – stemmed from ignorance. My only experience of people from Louisiana and the deep south of The USA to this point in life has been Fox News, commercials for NASCAR, ‘Deliverance’ and the Donald Trump supporters that online news outlets vomit at me via the Internet. For the first few nights we were able to stay clear of politics, religion and The Confederate history of The USofA. We enlisted midweek back up by way of inviting some friends over for a dinner party. It was touch and go for a while when the subject of Vietnam came up but me being the awesome host that I am, I timed my cheesecake entrance to perfection. We dodged controversial bullets incredibly well. I nearly took a few rounds when I suggested that health care free at the point of delivery works well in The UK, I got a full frontal assault of eye-daggers that said, “Why don’t you just invite the Commies to come over to eat our first born?” The final night arrived and I was feeling thoroughly smug, I’d begun to think that I’d grown as a person – in the past I’d have poked angry people just to watch them turn purple and foam at the mouth in illogical rage. And then it happened John went and asked the big no-no, the one thing you never ask anyone who has been dropping hints all week that their faith drives them and their church is clearly a huge comfort and focus in their lives back in The USA. John asked our guests WHY they believe in God. I headed for the sink to wash up and afterwards grabbed a large rum and coke and tried to go fetal in the corner of the sofa. I think the debate rumbled on for three hours. I do know at one point I muttered that I simply don’t care and if there is a God why’s s/he not doing something about all the shit in the world right now. That was ignored, so I put some Peter Gabriel music on as a distraction and threw some more rum down the hatch. My choice of satanic music had a Noriega effect on them and they retired to bed. We parted on good terms the following morning, so much so that they left a John a gift. John is now the proud owner of a Kindle Fire with a whole host of books installed which ‘prove’ scientifically why creation is true, not just true because our guests choose to believe its true and that makes more sense to me, I’ll accept that explanation one hundred percent, if faith gives them joy and meaning to their life I would never be the person to tell them they’re wrong, but when someone says they have mathematical, empirical data which proves once and for all that some big assed hairy bloke in the sky did it all, forgive me if I raise an eyebrow of extreme skepticism. I look forward to John’s assessment of these great works of science. Thankfully I won’t be here when he’s reading his way through all this evidence because I’ll be taking a short holiday in The UK. The UK no longer feels like home, it’s now a place I see on TV – sadly too often for the wrong reasons recently – it feels remote. It’s a place I visit to see friends and family. I know I’m not Antiguan either, I have no right to claim that title right now, if ever. I suppose that makes me a Trish, a more tolerant Trish. I’ve even stopped screaming at the fishing rod when once again we return home from sailing with no fish. I’ll claim tolerance**, it might not be a nationality but I sure as shit believe it should be an ideology, and that can never be a bad thing.

 

*Mr Trish is the only recipient these days.

**Tolerance is not the same as apathy, I will never be apathetic. My blood is too hot to allow apathy to slime it’s treacherous tendrils around my soul. 

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From There to Here. How The Hell Did That Happen?

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As a snotty faced, stroppy child growing up in a Yorkshire village in the 1970s watching the amazing coloured flags of the Olympic countries parading by courtesy of The BBC, I never once thought that I’d be sitting on a white sandy beach in one of those countries.

Yes, we had colour telly, we were posh, or at least the Grandmother liked to give off the air that we were posh. We were far from it, the very best I can say about her is that she was a pretentious dragon with all the compassion and emotional depth of a plank. I’m confident that my Grandfather would have got time off for good behavior if he’d buried her under the potting shed. Hell, I’d have dug the sodding grave!

Anyway, I’m back on the island of Antigua after spending three months being a whiney, complaining, spoiled little brat back in the UK. Today I was sitting looking out at the storm clouds over Montserrat performing their astonishing aerial displays and I had a teary moment of realisation of where I am on the planet right now. How the hell did I get here from a council house in Yorkshire? Flippantly I tell people, well it was pretty simple, I married well, twice. I didn’t marry well twice, I married well once, to the ever patient John. The first marriage wasn’t really a choice it was more a sort of resigned mutual agreement. We’d gone as far as having children together and his Mega-Christian Mother was so horrified that we were duh duh duuuuuuh living in sin that she enticed us into marriage with the promise of helping us buy a house. As a mercenary twenty year old, who was I to say no? Here was a chance to have some stability and I was not about to bite that cash cow on the arse. I tried really hard to be the good wife and mother, but conventionality did not sit well on my electric blue hair tousled shoulders. Step-ford wife I was not, and making trite and artificial conversation with my exe’s co-workers was not a role I could play. At one Christmas event I was last seen under a table trying to look up some bloke’s kilt, then staggering up stairs to our hotel room and promptly vomiting in a plant pot.  The marriage was doomed. He wanted a little wifey he could control and roll out at events; I wanted passion, spontaneity and space to be myself. To put it simply and saving any hurt feelings, we parted ways. What I will say is that whether you’re the dumper or the dumpee, parting is never painless. I did however give back my half of the financial wedding present when we sold the house. Whilst I may have been a less than faithful wife, I felt I owed his family that at least. Yeh, I know pretty sober stuff, not the usual jolly japes you’d expect from me, but I sense that I owe my ex some respect. Neither of us behaved perfectly during that phase of our lives and I’m sure there are still emotional scars on both of us. That chapter ended.

John came into my life (Ok, revelation time, shock horror, there was an overlap between husband number one and John, deal with it, humans aren’t perfect and sometimes we make antisocial choices, but nineteen years on, it seems to be working pretty well so blergh!)

On the surface we are possibly a rather tragic stereotype. We have a sixteen year age gap, he ran his own business, I was a single mother working part time in child care, oh yes here she is, little Miss Gold-digger. Yeh, except he was broke and at the time he left his first wife his worldly possessions were the contents of five black bin-bags, a Ford Mondeo and more emotional baggage than it should be possible for one person to carry. Welcome to paradise Trish, I’d struck a prize seam of gold right there! So how did I know he was ‘The One’? Easily, my German Shepherd Bitch, Poppy, didn’t try and kill him when they first met. That was the seal of approval. Oh and the fact he had and still has the ability to lick his eyebrows and breath through his ears.

We struggled through a few years with the usual issues of the blended family.At times it wasn’t pretty and I’m ashamed to say that I broke and on a couple of occasions I left.  I think both of us were pretty naïve to think that love would conquer all. Love doesn’t pay the bills, love doesn’t negotiate with bailiffs, love doesn’t deal with control freak exes and it certainly doesn’t stop teenagers from being complete and utter nightmares. We survived. It was sheer bloody mindedness that kept us together at times and John’s pragmatic personality, which is the perfect compliment to my emotionally unstable outbursts. I think in a former life I may have been a vicious screaming Queen, or maybe I’m just my Father’s daughter but that revelation is for another day.

Naturally we did the usual family holidays amongst all of this chaos and after years of camping holidays followed by package tours to Spain and Greece we were free from children. We offered the youngest daughter the opportunity to spend a few weeks travelling in the Canadian wilderness to which she announced she wouldn’t be coming as that length of time away from her friends in the summer holidays would be social suicide. The following year we decided on a beach holiday and found ourselves in Antigua and fell in love instantly. The moment we stepped off the plane we were hit with the rich intoxicating perfume of tropical flowers. This was the reset button we both needed. Now I’m not a big fan of the all-inclusive experience. Playing dodge The Daily Mail reader at dinner is not my favourite past time. Not making eye contact with Mr and Mrs “We normally cruise you know” becomes somewhat tedious. Although I like playing with them, especially when they can’t quite get a handle on John and I, and what sort of contrary Mary would I be if I didn’t play with them a little. There are people sitting back at home now thinking they met two people actually called Morticia and Gomez. I could have been much more cruel,within  the village we live in the UK there are people who aren’t quite sure whether I’m a call girl or not and whether John really is a porn star. If they’re going to gossip, give the fuckers something to chew on.

We decided on a second visit to Antigua, this time in a villa. This saw John and I come to the spontaneous decision to buy a house here, which we did. What’s life all about if you can’t do something for shits and giggles from time to time? We’d worked hard, had some lucky breaks, if you call John having a heart attack a lucky break and his critical injury insurance paying out a nice wad of cash. So rather than allowing this wad to be frittered away on fripperies we went all grown up and bought property.

And that is how I get to sit on a white sandy beach for several months of the year watching a turquoise sea lapping at my toes whilst over the water there’s an actual volcanic island. The ‘”Yo Yo Yo” jet ski boys are trying to attract the attention of the freshly arrived white skinned wanderers on the beach and the little beach restaurant is sending delicious wafts of barbequed food on the breeze. This lone island sitting perilously at the mercies of nature in the tempestuous Atlantic Ocean may not be paradise for all who live here, but here, right now, it’s paradise to me.