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).

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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.

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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.

The Swimming Pool

I have to swim – my doctor says so. I’m told my lungs, which have been punished by industry, need exercise to keep them from rotting and turning to mush.

I am blessed in that we live on a Caribbean island, where the weather is usually nice (although it’s raining while I write this) and our apartment complex boasts a large, beautifully maintained swimming pool. Motivation, however, even when goaded by my doctor, wife, friend and wheezy lungs, is often hard to find, and swimming, when under pressure to do so, can be monotonous. Today during my swim instead of just gasping back and forth absorbing movement like a long swig of nasty medicine, I looked around and got my Zen on.

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The pool is lined with blue tiles so the water is an intense blue under a tropical blue sky. In the summer, the pool is a warm bath, but in winter it holds a chill. People who don’t live in the Caribbean all year round always laugh when I say that.

Winter brings absentee owners back to their apartments and by 11am there can be as many as a dozen people in or around the pool. This makes swimming lengths a problem because there always seems to be someone in front of you. This happens even when the pool has just one other person in it, which always amazes me.

Being a French island, many of the women at the pool swim or sunbathe topless, which is a delight. I love breasts and I’m certainly going to look. Sorry, but I’m a guy and that’s just the way it is. As I’m now older I’m less worried about leaving the water with an obvious bulge in my shorts although a couple of times it’s been a close run thing …

Boobs aside, the pool is much nicer when there is no one around. Calm in the morning, its surface is like burnished glass, an Alpine lake a thousand feet deep. Kicking off from the wall fractures the water like a windshield smashed by a rock.

Backstroking changes everything. Above, palm trees flick shadows across the pool weaving a frame around a sky filled with cotton wool clouds.

During the day, birds swoop and snatch insects from the water. At dusk bats skim and feed.  In spring, bees, their legs heavy with pollen, drown in the pool. If I see a bee on the surface, I cup it in my hands and carry it gently to shore where the sun dries their wings and away they fly. From experience, bees drifting below the surface, even by the thickness of a finger, have left to pollinate another world.

Today, my friend the ginger cat, a regular visitor, skirted the edge of the pool and stopped to drink, head down, front paws spread like a lion at a Serengeti watering hole. I never realized that so much was going on here!

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On the gate leading to the pool is a sign displaying the rules … all 12 of them. They don’t allow you to do much, other than swim.

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One sign is missing! But then you wouldn’t, would you …