Back to Life

Sun 1st Feb – Sat 7th Feb

Nothing matters more on holiday than lying in the sun
The opposite to the week before – starting in Gran Canaria and ending in London; from warmth and brightness to cold and darkness. Overall the weather from Sunday till we left on Friday was pretty similar to that of the previous week – a mixture of sun and cloud, no rain but chilly evenings. Sunday and Monday were cloudy with no opportunities to sunbathe. On both days I was down on my lounger, like most of the rest of the hotel residents, grabbing flashes of sun but spending a lot of time with towels as blankets. Strangely there is something quite therapeutic about sitting in a moderate temperature but wrapped up to keep warm. My work colleague Philip joined us on the previous Saturday and was desperate for hot weather to top his tan up. The lack of sun really pissed him off. But then on Tuesday the sun started poking through and on Wednesday and Thursday we had decent sunshine. I love lying in the sun so on all three days I smothered myself in sun tan lotion and spent the day slowly roasting whilst reading my books and watching the totty coming and going.

Routines
The days got into their own routine with me lying in the sun and reading, Dave swimming then watching DVDS or going for long walks, and me and Dave going for dinner before meeting up with Philip for cocktails. It is good to have a new rhythm and lose some destructive baggage but I also find I can get out of sync with my good home routines. Things like taking my meds at the right times, doing exercise, and daily catching up on DuoLingo all risk going out of the window. I did manage to keep with digital stuff like doing my weekly blog on time and sadly I did check my e-mails to keep things under control. And I just about got my meds schedule on schedule. Last Sunday did actually equal a very routine day in part because of the cloudy weather; I managed to finish my blog, fill up my meds box for the coming week and phone my mum. She was doing OK and my brother was keeping an eye on her whilst I was away.

Food…
Me and Dave found ourselves eating very similar meals as the menus of all the restaurants are pretty much the same – very surf and turf. I did manage to persuade Dave to go for a Mexican on Sunday even though he does not like spicy and liquidy food – he had steak and chips. But then on Monday we went back to the steak restaurant we had already visited about twice the week before. Tuesday, Dave felt ill so I went out on my own for a mediocre curry. Wednesday night Dave was well again and swapped steak for salmon. And finally on Thursday we went for our farewell meal to one of our favourite restaurants we had not yet visited on the holiday. It’s called Barbados and does some great food presented in a wonderfully seventies style including the ‘piece de resistance’, Crepes Suzette flambeed in front of you at your table.

…and drink
Drinks after dinner always centred on the Yumbo centre. We met up with Philip (Phyllis) who always had the young waiters hovering around him. We often had coffee and cocktails at the corner bar with the clown and gymnasts performing in front of us. And the other bar we fell in love with was Mystique with its fantastic offer of two cocktails for only 6 Euros. Dave decided to stay out on Monday night and did a stint at ‘Centre Stage’, the show tunes bar particularly enjoying Babs and Cilla videos he had never seen before. He got back to the hotel at 3am trying not to wake me but failing completely. The late night was the main reason he was ill the next day me thinks, spending the day sleeping in the hotel room. On the Tuesday evening when he was too ill (hungover) to come out, I met with Phyllis but left him chatting up a muscle Mary and went out on my own to a club – fine but I was back at the hotel by midnight. Farewell drinks on Thursday night saw us saying ‘Goodbye’ to the waiters we had come to know.

Overall, a great holiday and I was left thinking about coming back later in the year during Autumn or Winter.

Normality
Friday was return day. We got a decent lunch-time flight and chilled beforehand at the airport’s open air smoking balcony watching planes (commercial and military) land and take off. The flight was fine and uneventful as was the train connection. We arrived back at Dave’s around 6.30 so giving us plenty of time to catch up on good old Blighty television – Coronation Street and Benidorm. We also managed to have an argument as Dave nearly set fire to the oven whilst making his dinner – smoke everywhere. Things a bit tense after that so we had an early night.

Saturday really was about getting back to normal. The cold and darkness of London the previous night were a shock to the system. I decided to put my jog-run off till Sunday to give myself more time to acclimatise. So it was up on Saturday morning and to the gym for an upper body and core workout. It’s amazing how you think things will have changed whilst you’ve been away and nothing has – both comforting and scary. I spent the rest of the day pottering – reading, watching QPR lose on Final Score, and going through personal and work e-mails to do a mass delete.

Books
I set myself a target of a book to be read each day on holiday. Well, that did not quite happen but I did get through five and they add up to a nice, eclectic collection.

Kate Wilhelm ‘Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang’ This is a classic sci-fi novel about the apocalypse and the survivors – both well worn themes of this genre. It was written in 1974 and concentrates on how a project clones itself so humanity survives but this leads to cloned groups that can’t live without each other and can’t think creatively. I’m not sure how accurate it is about the effects of cloning – I could never understand genetics at school for some reason. A well written book, a good story, and also a surprisingly unemotional novel – almost scientific (people die – that’s it).

Timothy James Beck ‘When You Don’t See Me’ (2007) Beck is a popular modern American gay author with a fair output of novels. However, I found this too much cutesy Americana – like a gay book version of ‘Friends’ even with the inevitable references to 9/11. The ‘hero’ is a young gay man finding his way in New York with an amazing array of friends and connections. He’s supposed to be some sort of anti-hero but it does not work as he suffers no real hardship being so wealthy and networked. Beck is a good writer and there is a good novel hidden away here but really the book was simply too syrupy sweet for me.

William Tevis ‘Mockingbird’ Written in 1980 by the author who also wrote ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ 20 years before. It’s a very pertinent story about a society where people are drugged to be happy and robots look after everything; where the population is dying out but remains obsessed with privacy and isolation (it’s a crime to intrude on other people’s privacy). Along the way people have forgotten how to read or think independently. So near to modern life in many ways plus well written though quite bleak. Interesting that this was the first book written after a 20 year gap largely due to the author dealing with his drink problem.

Russell Brand ‘Booky Wook 2’ (2010) A fun follow-up to his entertaining first auto-biography and I think I understand more about the man now. This book is almost journalistic and about his period of fame rather than the previous book’s emphasis on his background and upbringing. There is very little on his drug and alcohol addiction as he is in recovery though a lot about his love of women. It ends with his marriage proposal to Katy Perry so there is obviously a lot more to hear about.

Charles Isherwood ‘Wonder Bread and Ecstasy: The Life and Death of Joey Stefano’ (1996) Curiously the author does not appear to be related to the classic gay writer Christopher Isherwood – the name is pure coincidence. This book is a journalistic biography of a young guy who deliberately got involved with gay porn and became a star. It’s a touching story because of his chaotic life but he also became a nightmare addict and there is no redemption, it all ends bleakly. Stories like this remind me of the crazy phase I went through and some of the people I knew there. Is it inevitable that all gay men go through some craziness in their life in one form or another?

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