Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday Tea, Kids

Well, it’s a beautiful day outside, all sunny and nice, someone outside’s just annoyed a tram, it’s making a noise like a big doorbell. Honza, Dagmars son, is just leaving for school and she’s making a pot of tea. I’ve really got her converted to English tea with milk, she even buys normal fresh milk now, not the long life stuff that they seem to like here. You can’t buy normal tea here, it’s all that herbal stuff and they drink it with lemon and leave the teabag and the spoon in the cup when they drink it. Yes, weird tea drunk weirdly.

I suppose you could say they eat a continental breakfast here, sounded exotic when I saw it on a hotel menu when I was a kid, but in reality it’s just cheese and bread and soggy ham. I normally have toast, and marmalade brought over from England, along with loads of Sainsbury’s Gold teabags.

About Dagmars kid, Honza: He’s 15 now and a right randy little git. It all started about a year ago with wet dreams, she was moaning about why his pyjamas were always being deposited in the washing machine, I curled up! Then it seemed to stop and then one night we heard loud screams and moans coming from his room, he’d been watching something on the internet and in his excitement, pulled the headphones out of the socket. It sounded like he had a girl in his room, Dagmar said. Well he did, sort of, I thought.

Then last week we went out, but came back a bit early, and when we got through the door he had some girl completely stripped off on the couch. Dagmar noticed she still had socks on, can’t say I was looking at her feet. The poor girl just whipped a big cushion over herself and said “Dobry Vecer!” (good evening)

Yep, he’s a randy little git. And that’s just part of the problem. The other part is that our Kate is up to something similar. She went on holiday to Spain last summer, with her friend and friends parents, both girls wanted to go out and they ended up in a music pub. The parents went out a bit later for a wander around town, and saw the 2 girls through the pub window, completely sloshed and dancing topless on the tables. Talk about the shit hitting the fan! She’s got a boyfriend now and he’s apparently always sniffing round the front door.

So now these girls want to come here and it’d be nice to have them over. But we’re worried that it’ll turn into a big teenage shagfest.

Dagmar’s never met our Kate and she’s looking forward to meeting this voice on the phone, even though it only says, “Can I speak to my Dad please?”

We’ve got 2 weeks and we’ll clear out the spare room for them I suppose.

Wednesday The worlds a small place

My mum just phoned the flat. She always uses the same routine; she finishes work and gets off the tube, then she goes to a little pub near her house and downs a few glasses of wine, maybe a scotch or two, then she goes home and gets all nostalgic and sentimental and then she texts me: “Are u home babe? “ If I don’t want to talk to her I just reply; “No, in pub”. But she got used to that, so now she texts Dagmar and Dagmar always tells the truth. Bad idea, but I can’t convince her.

Let me tell you a little about my mum first. She had me on her 20th Birthday, so she’s whinging about being almost 60. Birthdays were always great, we always spoiled ourselves a little, went shopping and had a meal somewhere. Mum got divorced when I was about 6, never saw much of my Dad after that. There was always some boyfriend around, I never got to meet them all. Then she met Bob, he was ok, a bit quiet maybe. She got married to Bob, 2 weeks before I got married, so she could bring a husband to my wedding. I’ve got a half-sister who’s now 24 and she lives with her boyfriend Steve. Poor old Bob went and died in 1993, just after 2 years of being married, they’d been together 11 years. Bob was always a bit sad that Martina, my sister, never took his name, but Mum loves being a Hawkins (my Dads name) and wouldn’t change it when they got married.

I was only married for about 4 years, I was far too young for the whole thing, but I’ve got a daughter, Kate, now 17. She lives with the ex and her husband in West London.

Mum’s worked most of her life doing the admin for a smallish firm of solicitors in the city and I really thought that was why she was calling me. Firstly, she’s due to retire and Johnny her latest boyfriend (for 3 years) who’s also her long term boss, wants to announce something at her retirement party.

But no, that wasn’t why she called. No, she’d bumped into Mags my ex-girlfriend in Sainsbury’s and Mags was still chuntering about the car. Well Margaret, HA HA HA! you can’t have it.

Mags parents are a bit well off, Daddie’s a big posh Doctor, a consultant of something or other and Mummy and Daddy also have a nice house in France. They bought a new left hand drive Audi A4 estate, for easier driving they said. However, I think they bought it so people would ask why they had a left hooker, and then they could boast about their house in France. But they were busy at that time doing something, so they arranged for me to help them out picking it up and effectively buying it. So the car ended up in my name and when Mags kicked me out shortly after, I borrowed it to move my gear and well, I just kept it. Now it’s got Czech number plates, HA HA again!!

And now Johnny says, they can’t touch me, the cars mine, so HA HA HA once more, because Johnny’s a big clever lawyer and he’s my Mums boyfriend.

Mags’ family never liked me much, I was never good enough for their daughter. I was just a lowly Facilities Manager, promoted from the post room They thought Mum was a drunk and Kate, my daughter was a cheeky little girl who never said please. As for Martina, they couldn’t stand the fact she didn’t take them seriously.

Ok, so we grew up in a council house, but Mum did buy it a long time ago and she’s incredibly houseproud.

Oh yeah, the phone call, it was the car, blah blah blah, normal gossipy stuff blah blah blah, and, Oh yes, Katie and her friend want to come out and visit!!!

Well, I thought, this could be a big problem, but I’ve written enough today and you can only offload so much baggage in one session.

So you’ll have to wait for the next episode.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

From Kentish Town to Brno

Well here I am in Brno, the 2nd city of the Czech Republic. I escaped the UK 2 years ago to begin a new life. Escaped? Well actually my girlfriend kicked me out for not helping with the rent and my Mum didn’t want me back, probably for similar reasons. Now she has another boyfriend who pays for everything My ex-girlfriend is probably doing the same.

So, I’m from London, Kentish Town to be exact, a sort of grotty Highgate and not so fashionable Camden Town. Do I miss London? Mmm, sometimes, and for all the wrong reasons.

I’m almost 40! A horrible thought, but it’s my last 2 months before I’m decrepit. Then after, I just don’t know, maybe I’ll get grey quickly or I’ll need glasses or a hearing aid or some other giveaway that will single me out as past it and a bit senile. Still, as yet, no-one has offered me a seat on a tram.

But, do I like living here in Brno? You betcha mate!! It’s great, and Dagmar my very sexy, wonderful, tall, blond, clever and also eager to please (YAHOOO!!) girlfriend is all the things that Maggie (the old one) never was. So there, all in all a good move and I ain’t going back.

What do Expats do here in Brno? Well I’m teaching English, same as lots others, mostly for a language school and bits and pieces with individual students. Many others here seem to work for IBM and earn big bucks, but not me, I just get by.

I came firstly to Prague and worked in a call centre, but Prague’s not for me. It’s like a big island, you don’t really know what country you’re in. When I lived in Prague I was staying in a shared flat and someone kept nicking my CD’s and socks and other little things. I didn’t really know any Czechs, all my friends were British, American, anything but Czechs and they didn’t really know any either. So, I paid for a TEFL course, came to Brno and the rest is history.

You wouldn’t believe that 5000 English speaking expats live in Brno, but they do, they’re here, they’re somewhere around keeping a low profile. They only seem to surface at the airport, Brno has a daily flight to Stansted and I’m always surprised how many English are there.

Why indeed are there so many British expats anywhere? It can’t be that everyone hates the Labour Government or wants to smoke in pubs, or some other tobacco or alcohol reason for emigration, but let’s face it, it doesn’t help does it.

Brno’s quite a big place, most people live in flats, older spacious ones in the centre and high rise 70’s jobs in the outlying parts, there are also plenty of terraced houses, but not like the Victorian types around London, these here are post war. Outside Brno lots of people live in new developments, it’s a growing place.