Last week I went into mourning for two old Crocs. It’s hard to say goodbye to faithful friends, traveling companions that have stuck with you mile after mile, walk after walk, country after country. Mates that guided me as I staggered home at the end of the night and uncomplaining dragged me faithfully through the pouring rain, the bitter cold of a European winter, and countless days of relentless tropical sun. As crew, they sailed like buccaneers through the Caribbean, and rode the highways and byways applying brakes, changing gears and flooring accelerators on motorbikes and cars. By their seventh year, their skin had wrinkle and their color faded from a deep ocean blue to splodged muck. They never complained when splashed with antifouling, kicked a pile of dog shit or suffered the humiliation of being searched, X-rayed, pointed at and mocked by unbelievers. No, they walked on.

Often threatened with death by my wife, they sat quietly, worn and humble outside the door, banished from the room, alone with their memories of how once they socialized, bar-hopped, partied, and gazed up at the world from beneath restaurant tables.

The end, when it came was quite swift. The bottom dropped out of the one on my left foot. Heartbroken, teary and virtually barefoot, I dragged its remains around for several days, but it was no use. It was beyond even epoxy and fiberglass. Seeing its faithful friend hanging holed and limp from my foot as we hobbled along, its twin gave up. They walk no more.

Celebrating a life well spent, solemnly, together, my Crocs went to the garbage bin, their heel straps forever entwined.

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Somewhere, on a shelf in an unknown store are my next pair of Crocs … I’m toying with the idea of yellow or red.


Perhaps the anus mouth isn’t for me!

I’m trying to get my head around the phenomenon of ‘selfies’, and sick at missing out, I thought to give it a go. A friend was given a ‘selfie stick’ as a gift and borrowing it was a good place to start. I got the smart phone attached to the stick and held it out in front, as you do, only I couldn’t hold the damn thing steady and instead of making me look cool, I looked like a demented fencer waving his epée around.

Plan B. Use my digital SLR with the timer set. First attempts ended with the timer going off before I got into position. Next, I adjusted the timer but then sat for so long with a rictus grin on my face that someone threatened to call the cops. Of course, the minute I moved towards the camera the shutter fired and I got a photo of my belt buckle.

As I was in an area where lots of people were taking selfies, I decided to watch and learn. The guys usually posed with a bunch of mates, drinks in hand, and seemed to be able to hold the selfie stick rock steady! Perhaps I needed some strong drink inside me.

The girls, on the other hand, stuck their lips out so far you could have licked ‘em and stuck them to a window. This, I’m told, is the famous ‘trout pout’ much loved by reality show celebrities.

As nothing seemed to be working, I went back to how we did it in the old days and stopped a passerby and asked if they would mind taking my picture. At first the woman was a little nervous but accepted my expensive digital SLR and assured me she had one of her own and so knew how to use it.

“I want a close up, and you want me to do the anus mouth?” I said, and did the lip thing.

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I wish she’d have simply put the camera on the ground instead of dropping it before she fled.

Oh well, back to practicing with the selfie stick.

It’s fruity. No, it’s earthy.

Do you know anything about wine? I mean really know about it so that when the waiter opens a bottle at table and offers you the cork and then a sip, you have the faintest idea what is going on?

I don’t. For one thing, my nose doesn’t work so instead of sniffing the cork I might has well blow my nose on it. Then there’s the taste test. The creative pour that, when done right, ends with a sexy little twist of the bottle as the neck is raised from the glass.

I like this bit because it means I’m getting into the wine, but learned years ago that shouting “Cor … Winner!” and banging the table with my fist before gulping it down in one is generally frowned upon.  So is crossing your eyes, grabbing your throat with both hands, making gurgling noises and falling backwards off your chair … All things I did in my youth (and yes, my date still married me).


Don’t get me wrong, although I know very little about wine other than how to drink it, I do enjoy the ritual of the wine tasting. And I do it, not only because it’s expected of me but it respects the waiter or waitress who, in the past, have seen all the boorish tricks pulled by morons like me and have usually done so with patience and a smile.  Waiting table is a job I couldn’t do because the wine bottle would end up where the sun don’t shine the second I met my doppelganger in full cry.

Now we’ve established I’m not a wine snob but a wine slob, it doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to charge me $35 for the same plonk, label and all, I bought from my local supermarket for $4.25 last week, as happens in some establishments.

At my favorite St. Martin restaurant, we always ask for the same Italian wine, Valpolicella, and are usually served by our regular waitress. Her approach never varies and is an integral and enjoyable part of our evening. She brings the wine and, depending on who placed the order, man or woman, shows them the bottle and points to the label. She then he pulls the cork and sniffs it. If all’s well, she pours a drop, it is sampled, we ooh and aah with appreciation, and away we go.

To have fun, watch other diners going through the wine ritual. You’ll see everyone from the self-proclaimed expert who desperately wants to gargle with it and spit it out to the ‘pour it and be gone’ type who impatiently waves away the waiter  like a troublesome fly and would be better off chugging supersized diet coke at Burger King.


Only once have I ever sent back a bottle of wine. This particular red had the consistency of 3OW engine oil and smelled like a corpse flower. Being English, and having complained and then profusely apologized, I felt guilty all night.