Quiet please, I'm thinking.
It was with some shock on Sunday that, for the second time in as many months, I found myself working through an English lesson on countries and nationalities with someone who didn’t know where almost any country resides. I name a country and they give me the nationality, it all sounds so simple; Spain, Spanish; Britain, Britainish (close enough); Mexico, Mexicoan (again, pretty close). The real problem starts when a map of the world is produced and students are asked to first name the country and then the nationality.
Alarm bells started to ring, admittedly, when Canada and Australia were confused. Okay, they’re both big and at extreme – by our reckoning – parts of the world, but come on, seriously? ‘That’s okay’, I thought, ‘just give them something to remember the place by and let’s move on. Maple Syrup is from … You can do this … please …. Do you know what Maple Syrup is? No? Nevermind.’ And on and on it went; ‘Vladimir Putin is from …. is from …. ‘ oh come on! Eventually it dawned on me that this person was completely unaware of the world so I asked, as one would, if she could point to her own country on the map. As bold as you like she told me she couldn’t; the ensuing clattering sound was my jaw hitting the floor. The trick now was to not make a big deal out of this as I took on the role of primary school Geography teacher, in my English class, with an adult! I’m not trying to undermine or belittle anyone, or any educational system, but if a twenty two year old can tell me who Nicole Kidman is (but not where she’s from) or what tequila is (but not where it’s from) but doesn’t know what countries border their own or indeed where their country lies on a world map, then I think there is an issue.
Or maybe I’m just being critical, did I really know much about Ecuador or Madagascar twenty years ago? Or now for that matter? No, probably not. But I could get pretty close trying to guess their geographic location and knew better than to think it wasn’t a big deal if I didn’t know. Still, at least she knows whiskey is Irish and thinks the Scots are only good for making haggis. Sorry, Scotland.
Happiness comes in all forms, and at the oddest of times too. Today, several weeks after my birthday and I don’t know how many weeks since I bewailed the lack of uisce beatha, much to my surprise there came a parcel from Devonshire. Even the name of the place produces comforting imagery; elves dancing, gnomes fishing, Hobbits, er, hobbitting. Inside said parcel were three little bottles of Glenfiddich; 12, 15 and 18 years old. Happiness in liquid form.
Now, I wouldn’t like to consider myself one who rejoices at the misfortune of others, nor would I be delighted to think I am one who overplays the good fortune of myself but, well, in a nutshell, tough titties non-whiskey recipient types. There are some little bottles of soda in my fridge which I shall mix with the heretofore celebrated whiskey (taking some time to feel like a giant holding miniature bottles of both) and I can’t think of a better way to spend my evening. Well, that’s a slight exaggeration, but for the purposes of this post that is certainly as much as I should say.
In conclusion, good friends sending a surprise parcel of three bottles of whiskey make this wandering Mick an all round happy chappy. Now, to finish those potato cakes I was making.
After a month of being here our personal belongings finally arrived, what a relief that is. Funny to see all the odds and sods from our former life turning up in hastily packed boxes. All we need now is to find new homes for everything. So much of this stuff has traveled with me from one place to another, I feel I should have one of those big, old wooden trunks that pirates had back in the day. Of course, realistically, I’d need more than one.
There is so much fun to be had restocking bookshelves, in a new order, taking the time to consider each ones story; where it was purchased and for what reason, how much it cost and what had to be done to track it down. Today we went on a furniture shopping spree but nothing is delivered for a few days, time best spent riffling through the temporary home of my mini library. Then there is the music and film collection to consider too, I’ll get nothing else done for a week.
Seeing the decanters and drinks tumblers, with memories of all those hedonistic nights, brought a smile to my face. I was half hoping I had packed some whiskey for myself but, alas, though the intention was there, I know we made short work of all available spirits before we set off. Shame really as good whiskey has something of a mythical status here, where good alcohol is hard to come by and pretty expensive when found. Guess I’ll live in reverie for a while yet.
Getting away is good, but staying away is better. It takes time to adapt to the muggy, warm days followed by sticky, somewhat quiet nights. Pottering about in shorts and t-shirt, any hour of the day, is still something I enjoy. It helps to have a good book handy when its too warm to move, and now I have several hundred of them. If only I had some whiskey.