[34] Talking Italian

I thought I would update yesterday’s post into a longer one, as that was created while out after a few drinks, minutes before midnight.  So technically I have managed to continue the blog posts. That was all I achieved yesterday with regards to the continuation of my habit streaks, braining training and meditation are now firmly back at day 1.

Someone I know is considering doing nanowrimo, the national novel writing month which starts in November, which I have mentioned previously. I must admit when it was mentioned, I was envious as I have another idea for a book and would quite like to see where it goes. I have however one small matter of an unfinished one to deal with. I have decided I can’t start any new writing projects until I complete the existing one. So that means if I want to do it, I have just over two weeks to complete it. I have set out what I wanted to achieve with the blog, but it has taken time away from when I could have been completing “Unfriended” so I might start to reduce the frequency of the posts. The book had to be the number one priority.

I did say the other day I would share some of the “croftisms” that I had recently been reminded off. This particular one I think I must have blanked out on purpose.

Several years ago, I tried to start learning Italian, another one of my many projects. This involved a weekly night school course locally and some lunchtimes at work with a girl I worked with, who knew Italian. Needless to say, I wasn’t very good. I am not sure the Northern accent is made to speak fluent Italian. She was a great help however with my homework. It’s always good to have someone to ask questions and learn from.  Lunchtimes could be fun sat by the canal in Manchester trying to pick up some Italian. On one of these occasions, I was being taught some shall we say interesting phases that you wouldn’t learn in class. “Che cazzo fai?”  “porca puttana”  “stronso” and others similar. The first translates to “What the fuck are you doing”. I wrote them down as I tended to do with most of the words I was learning.  I completed my homework with assistance and handed it in at the class that evening. The teacher who was a middle-aged, dark-haired Italian woman pulled me to one side the following week and said “Martin, your homework is very good as usual” she then hesitated “But these words on the back” turning over the sheet “Are not very good, Italian’s do not like these phrases” Showing me the rude Italian works I had inadvertently written on the back of my homework.  I embarrassingly was very apologetic and tried to rationalise why I was writing rude works in the first place. She just smiled at me.

I thought after that incident that I wouldn’t make that mistake again and I didn’t. This time it was something else.

I managed to make it to the end of the course and the last night was an oral test. Everyone was going to speak for about five minutes in Italian, she would ask questions and there would be conversations. This was, fortunately, to be done in another room so no one had to listen to it. I’d had some issues with the trains back from Manchester and was running very late. It was a matter of quickly running into the house, getting out of my work clothes and shoes and getting dressed for the class. I grabbed my trainers from the cupboard in the hallway. This cupboard is one of those under the stairs dumping grounds that’s always a nightmare to find things. There is no light and I was relieved to be able to find my trainers as quickly as I had. I was at that point about 15 minutes late.  I jumped into the car and set off. It’s about 10 minutes to the class with traffic lights. I was just around the corner when I noticed something didn’t feel right with the clutch peddle.  Then I noticed on my left foot was a grey Karrimor style walking boot and on my right an Adidas blue suede trainer. How the hell had I managed to do that without noticing? I looked at the time and realised that it just wasn’t feasible to go back home. If it wasn’t the last week I would have skipped it entirely. I had no choice but to continue. Maybe no one would notice. I parked up and started walking, they were entirely different heights. I entered red-faced before I had even started “Buonasera Martin” The teacher said as I entered. I slunk down at the table I sat at with several other people. Thinking I could get away with it I then realised that everyone would notice when we went for our break. There was nothing I could do and then preceded to try and explain why I had two completely different shoes on a bewildered table full of people.



[27] The harshness of winter colds

Yesterday’s post was not so much about writing my book but conveying a true story of something that happened to me. I don’t think this is a bad thing, as it improves my storytelling skills and hopefully amuses. I recall these idiot moments fondly and they make me smile as I recall them. I look forward to coming back to these posts in the future and rereading. A lot of things in my book ‘unfriended’ were influenced by experiences, that said I must add that I’ve never joined the EDL, seen racist toilets or come out as gay just for a day, it’s the other things, honest.

I was going to recall the ‘2nd toilet’ story but then I remembered ‘the cough sweet’ incident as I’m currently sat on a train so I thought I would share that one first.

It was a cold winter morning, I was under the weather and commuting to Manchester where I worked. My throat was killing me, it was swollen and swallowing was difficult. It felt horrible. I felt rotten. I looked in the cupboard and noticed a box of throat lozenges. I smiled and popped them in my pocket. They made a rattling sound and I assumed they had all been broken up. I was sure they would still help as I felt I’d swallowed razor blades as my throat was so sore. I walked to the train. It was cold as I got on the train and I tried to keep warm as best I could. I pulled my coat tighter about me. I rubbed my sore throat and then remembered the throat lozenges and smiled.

I grabbed them out of my pocket and flipped open the little cardboard box lid and in one fluid motion dropped the lozenges straight onto my tongue. The instant they were in my mouth I realised something didn’t feel quite right. The box was still open in my hand. I looked down. I was staring at a box of drawing pins. I, fortunately, didn’t start to chew as I’d realised immediately. I spat them out into my hand. I cupped my hand and pushed them back into the box. I wonder to this day if anyone had looked up to see a man spitting out drawing pins on the train and for them to wonder if he had learning difficulties or he was just a bellend.

I still have the box of drawing pins in my office and to this day every time I see them it brings a smile to my face. The picture above is the actual box.

[26] Croftism’s – The toilet part uno

Now the shackles have been thrown off, nay smashed and cast aside. The word count is an irrelevance that blights me no longer. I was sat pondering what I should write about today and then I recalled Croftisms. I had previously achieved a reputation for doing some rather stupid but nevertheless amusing things that someone coined the phrase Croftisms. I’m not sure I can recall all of them but will endeavour to try. An ex-colleague once catalogued them and I’ll get around to asking her if she can recall any that I’ve forgotten. I think a good place to start though is ‘The first toilet incident’.

This one goes back to my time at university. I’d worked for 7 years before I gave it up and took decided on a change of career, by going to University. I was classed as a mature student during my university years, people who knew me would very much contradict that I would imagine. I joined one of the many societies at the University of Central Lancashire where I attended from 1994 to 1997, however, I digress from the main story. This particular one was the scientific expedition society which for its grand title was mainly a walking and drinking club. There would be trips away to various places each weekend. This particular weekend I found myself with probably fifteen other people in Keswick in the Lake District. If you have never been you have missed an amazing place. We’d done the usual walk, I don’t recall where and we were down by the lake in Keswick Bassenthwaite lake to be precise. As an aside, Bassenthwaite is the only true lake in the Lake District all the others are meres or waters. See, learning things as well here.We were a mixed bunch of students, there was usually several foreign students, as they got to see lots of the country this way. The first incident, oh yes when I make a tit of myself I do it on a large scale. For those of you who haven’t been, there’s a path that follows around the part of the lake nearest Keswick. The paths higher up than the lake and the edge of it made the perfect rest for my camera to take a picture of the gang. Who where stood clustered by the lake. I’d balanced it so to get in the group crowded around each other. This wasn’t the time of mobile phones this was a proper camera era. Wind up films and dodgy timers. I’d got it in position and set the timer. I jumped nimbly off the path down some three or so feet and ran over to the group as quickly as I could muster. Spinning around and with a sweat on. I beamed at the camera with my biggest smile and waited. Nothing happened. I waited some more and then starting to get annoyed, I thought I could influence things by shouting loudly at the camera ” Come on you bastard” just as an old couple walked past behind the camera. Swiveling around to see this mature student going bright red in the face. I stumbled “I didn’t mean you” which was no explanation I realised.  I was still going redder as they increased their pace, away from me.

I got ribbed by the group as people broke out of the photo stance. One of my friends Ian went off to the toilet, needing it myself I followed momentarily making sure I wouldn’t walk past the old couple from minutes before. I made it to the toilets and used the urinal. My friend Ian wasn’t to be seen as I washed my hands and as I started to leave I clocked the only cubicle with the door shut and then a malicious thought entered my head. I walked over to the cubicle and preceded to bang over and over on the door shouting as there was no one else in the toilet “Come on you bastard” to my merriment. I left chuckling to myself tears streaming down my face. I looked up to see walking up the path towards the toilets, Ian. He had gone a different way and he hadn’t been to the toilets yet. Needless to say, I didn’t hang about to see who had been in the cubicle, all I know was it wasn’t Ian.

(Words lots and lots more than 250)


The photo is of me at Bassenthwaite Lake when I visited in 2015 on a camping trip.