Monday, 2 July 2012

Meet: Me Nan Cont.

(Mother, Overseas Traveller, Illegal Immigrant) 

(Posing proudly with the proof of her illegal entry into Trinidad and Tobago)

My Nan's just to brilliant to only have one post. Like Nan's the world over, my Nan has her fair share of crazy stories. Last week she told me all about the little mini she drove illegally 35 years ago as I had asked. Then as we were leaving she hit us with this little gem - a story I'd never heard before. 

Illegal alien

Monday, 25 June 2012

Meet: Me Nan

(Nan, Gardener, Tea Maker, Storyteller)

Meet me nan... Cerris. My maternal grandmother. A twice widowed, mother of five, grandmother and great-grandmother. I won't tell you her age, but she's doing pretty good for her years. Especially considering she was left to bring up my mother and her 4 siblings all on her own - on virtually no money - when my Grandfather died. Maybe the fact that she summers in the Caribbean helps but I'll tell you more about that next week.

Me Little Mini

Oh and the best thing about this story... she did it all (illegally) on a provisional driving license.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Meet: Adam Kammerling

(Poet, Spoken Word Artist, Rapper)
I probably met Adam around 12 months ago. The Spoken Word 'scene' in London is fairly small so even if you're only half arsed and a little socially retarded like me, you get to know most of the performers easy enough, by going to gigs and workshops etc.

Adam's definitely 'one to watch' in the Spoken Word world at the moment. He's a great writer, an entertaining performers and recently became Hammer and Tongue's UK Slam Champion (no mean feat). He also performs with a band - even more entertaining than his Spoken Word - and on top of everything else - as well as I know him - he appears to be a genuine all round nice guy.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Meet: Manneken Pis

(Namesless, Little Man Pee, Peeing Boy, Pee Pee Boy, Little Julian, Pis)

Back to work today *unimpressed*. Last week was half term so me and my wonderful girlfriend ventured on a bank bursting / waistline bulging short trip to Brussels. It's a lovely city - we didn't fall in love with it the way we did with Copenhagen or Krakow but we had a great time - perfect for a 3-4 day stay.

Now anyone who reads this blog regularly - is there anyone out there? - will no doubt have realised that I have at times - most weeks - found it difficult to find people to be on my blog. If you're reading this and interested in being on it then don't hesitate, email me on: I need to get better at approaching people - strangers but family and friends too - so I'm not sitting at my computer on a Sunday evening panicking that I've run out of time to ask someone, quite so often.

It's this panic that has often lead me down a slightly abstract route - my cat, my 4 year old niece, a robin, my girlfriend dressed as the Queen. And this week is no different. I hope you enjoy.

Monday, 4 June 2012

The Queen (circa 1952)

(HRH, ER, Queenie, Liz, Lizzie, Lilibet)

Over the Jubilee weekend, one was lucky enough to bump into a pre reign Queen Elizabeth II. What a delightful young woman, full of life and mischief, with a few good yarns to tell. Here is one for your reading pleasure.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Meet: Marilyn

(Mentor, Mother figure, Superwoman)

Marilyn is the Lead disciplinarian Learning Mentor at the Primary School I work at. She's been a great help over the past 18months+. Especially in the earlier months when a child I was working with liked to spend more time under the table than sat at it. Marilyn is hugely appreciated at the school by the staff, children  and parents alike and rightly so because without Marilyn there's no doubt the school would quickly descend into a giant Mad Hatter's Tea Party.

The best way for me to describe Marilyn at work would be to say:
imagine that Miss Trunchbull and Miss Honey had a black baby together - stay with me - because believe me you don't want to be a child on the wrong side of Marilyn. I've heard her shout and it ain't pretty. But on the flip side, her nice side is full of huge smiles, infectious laughter, tight hugs and warm praise. It's no wonder that the children idolise her.

Mini Olympics

Marilyn's daughter is twenty now, so it must have been ten years ago. This particular summer, Marilyn, her husband and daughter, along with Marilyn's sister Angie, her husband and their nine year old son went on holiday to Spain.

A few days into the holiday, the Spanish measures had been flowing the night before and in neighbouring rooms Marilyn and her sister woke with killer hangovers only intensified by the sticky Spanish morning. Neither in any state to get up before noon, the husbands took the kids down to the pool.

Ten minutes later a knock came at Marilyn's door. Doing her best to ignore it she rolled over and stuffed her head under a pillow. The knocking was timid but was very persistent - assuming it to be her husband coming back for something - Marilyn delicately made her way to the door. Slowly opening the painfully creaky door she found Angie beckoning her into their room next door. "Can you hear that?"

Moving - still very gingerly - across the hotel room towards the veranda Marilyn could now hear it too - a newly familiar voice blowing in through the open window, from the poolside down below. (Londoner trying to do a Spanish accent) "Marilyn and Angie we want you for the Mini Olympics." A short pause... "If you don't come down we'll have to come up for you.”

Begrudgingly Marilyn and her sister decided that going down was marginally better than being fetched and so slowly made their way to the poolside. The 'mini olympics' were about to start and Marilyn and Angie were about to find out the full extent of what they were in for.

Seemingly every adult in the hotel – including their husbands who were on the opposing side – were divided into two giant relay teams. As the race kicked off the splitting headache and desperate dehydration really starting to kick in and Marilyn was struggling to just stand up in the mid-afternoon sun.

With the whole of the hotel looking on, first you had to run down the length of the pool, stopping every couple of yards to put on different item of clothing before jumping in the pool and using a semi-inflated lilo to swim to the other side. Marilyn faded to the back of the line but there was no hiding place.

Marilyn's moment of glory had finally arrived. The two teams were neck and neck with one team member left each. And they were off. Racing down the poolside throwing the clothes on and... well at least the opposing team were. Lets just say Marilyn took it at a slightly more gentle pace.

The sun sweating away the last few drops of moisture in her body, Marilyn made her way to the first item of clothing – by which time the person on the opposing team was already leaping into the pool – spurned on by a cheering crowd Marilyn summoned as much energy as she could and although her head and muscles were cheering in unison for her to stop; she made it to the side of the pool. But now was not time for heroics. The other team had long finished, all Marilyn could do now was complete the course.

Slowly lowering herself into the pool, Marilyn grabbed a hold of the deflated lilo and pushed out into the centre of the pool. But by this time there was nothing left to give, her legs were kicking but nothing was happening. Lots of splashing and flailing but no forward momentum.

The sun, heavy cardio workout and most importantly the killer hangover had done her in. Children staring on from the poolside and husbands from the finish line, Marilyn continued to splash around in the middle of the pool, until, fearing for her safety, a tall dark Spanish holiday rep dove into the water fully clothed – shoes and all – to save the "drowning" Marilyn. 

Written by Anthony Hett

Monday, 21 May 2012

Meet: Rodis

(Public Policy Expert, Foodie, Scrabble Champion)

I met Rodis through my wonderful girlfriend Daphne. They have been close friends for years and the two of us met very soon after I started 'seeing' Daphne, a little over 2 and a half years ago. Since then I have enjoyed many delicious meals at the Savvakis household in Athens and Crete, and at Rodis' flat in London. I have also been fortunate enough to stay at his parents beautiful home on the Isle of Crete on more than one occasion. 

I truly love all of Daphne's family and friends, they have all been extremely friendly and hospitable to me and Rodis is no exception. It has been great getting to know him a little better while he has been studying in London for the past 9 months (and without kissing his arse too much), he's intelligent, easy to talk to and opinionated - I just need him to become fanatical about either United or Spoken Word and we'll definitely be good friends for life haha.

Who is this kid on my bunk bed?

Growing up in small town Greece, where every kid had a brother or a sister, I felt left out and to be honest, rather annoyed with my parents for not providing me with the company of a sibling. But it seemed I was always destined to be an only child.

When I was 7, we moved from the city centre to a new house in the countryside. As a result, my whining about being alone reached its peak. All I wanted was a brother, it was the answer to everything.

One night, a few after weeks moving in, my Dad returned home from work to find my Mum sitting on the sofa, moved to tears, by a documentary about children who had been mistreated in foster care, before finding a new life in an institution called “SOS Children Villages”. 

That night, my parents asked me if I still wanted a brother. Assuring me that they would continue to love me as much as they always had, they explained that since they had the love and money to support another child, they wanted my opinion on adoption. They actually said that I would be "finally happy to have a brother to play with".

The sibling I had always wanted! I should have been consumed with elation but instead the thought of having to share my toys with another person shocked my 7 year old self. As for sharing my parents, I was used to constantly having their full attention and it was supposed to stay that way!

I politely declined their offer of a permanent play companion, by stating that I did not find it necessary at all, as I was now a second grader and therefore a big boy. My parents asked me if I was sure, and judging from my facial expression of anger and constipation (as they later described it to me) and my declaration of being perfectly fine on my own, they dropped any plans of trying to adopt the intruder.

A few weeks further down the line, I woke at around 5 in the morning, to go the bathroom. Instantly, something in the room wasn’t right. I though I had heard someone breathing but I wasn’t sure. I crept out of my bed and as silent as a ninja, checked the “upstairs compartment” of my bunk beds. To my sheer terror, there was another boy, slightly older than me, sleeping in my room. My fears had come true! My parents had taken in a child! I was shocked and confused. I had clearly said that I didn’t want it! Why hadn't I been told? It was more than someone to share my toys, and my mum, with. He was officially a pariah!

In a state of shock, I didn't go to the toilet, probably too afraid that the sleeping new brother would invade my bed as well as my room and kick me out altogether. After a few minutes (that seemed like years) of utter horror and frantic planning of how to get rid of the intruder, I must have fallen asleep again.

The next thing I remember was my dad walking in to wake 'us' up for school. 'Alex' was already awake, staring out of the window, quite puzzled himself. The realisation of who he was washed over me and the huge weight I had on my chest was lifted.

Unknown to me. The night before, when I was already asleep and the house was still in a “just moved in”, unopened boxes and much less furniture than needed, state of undress, my mum’s Dutch friend Ellen and her son Alex had come for dinner, in exchange for much needed help with the unpacking.

Alex, went to my school but was a year older than me. Fast asleep on the sofa my mum and Ellen had decided to let him stay the night and put him to bed above me in the top bunk.

Weight lifted, I leapt out of bed and hugged my Dad with more than the usual affection. When he asked me why, I told him that it was a reward for hearing me out. My Dad nodded, clearly without understanding. But I decided not to explain. I thought it better if I didn’t remind him of the whole adoption thing. Ever again!

(Edited by Anthony Hett)