Easter disaster – a car key in a zillion grains of sand

      Easter Sunday. I’ve been up since 8 am, writing furiously about family brewing in the 17th century. I’m feeling smug. 1000 words added to the novel in a matter of hours and the sky, previously grey and wet, has broken into a radiant blue, banishing all clouds. It is 3pm. I close my laptop. Time for a bowl of All Bran and a walk on the beach. The dogs pant with glee. They’ve wiled away the day eating rawhide chews and scratching themselves, wondering when mummy might get out of her pajamas and off her lazy arse. I twist the office chair away from the table. The dogs break into frantic hyperactivity, panting and picking up any offering within reach in an ecstasy of pure unadulterated joy, and for a moment I feel like the freshly risen Christ.

We don our clothes and leads, stuff our pockets with pooh bags and set off in the trusty old Honda, all four windows down to let the sea breeze lift our unwashed fur.

It is a glorious afternoon. As I crest the top of the hill down to Brancaster Staithe I gasp to myself, as I always do, at the first sight of the sea sprawling before us. The dogs have gone to sleep. They are like babies in the car: lulled at once into unconsciousness by the whirr of the 100,000 mile old engine. I don’t turn on the radio. It will only disappoint. Instead I plug my headphones into my ears and sing to whatever song leaks out of my phone. If you could see my invisible friend now, he would be patting me on the back with a smile on his face that says: Good on you, mate. You’ve added bulk to the book, now go and enjoy the sun!

We park at the beach, get our ticket from the new Pay and Display machine – minimum £2 for 2 hours even if you only want to walk for a quarter of that. It is busy today. Easter Sunday has brought half of Cambridgeshire and London to dig sand castles and breathe in clean air by the bitter North Sea. 

I take the dogs out of the car, hide my handbag under my jacket and decide to take the car key off my key ring so that I will have the least amount of clobber to carry. I have put on my work-out suit for this walk: a mild attempt at keeping fit that will, at the very least, cause me to sweat out the equivalent of one of this morning’s 15 cups of tea. It is made of the same material as a wet suit, a fact that pleases me as we cross the wrinkled sand towards the slowly advancing tide.

The beach is speckled with people in warm jackets, wooly jumpers and bare feet. Children, with lizard-like determination, run around half-naked. Dogs bark. Mine stop at the first opportunity to take a mutual shit. I am a good citizen. I pick up the muck in a baby nappy bag, tie it and retrace my teps to the entrance of the beach, looking for the pooh bin that seems to have vanished since my last visit to Brancaster Beach. I walk up to the kiosk, planning to drop the stinking bag into the people bin. But the place is too crowded to get away with such unBritish behaviour so I carry the pooh bag for another twenty meters and leave it propped by the sign warning of the dangers of high tide. I am wearing an expression on my face designed to signal to anyone looking that I have every intention of returning for the offensive doodad.

Ah the North Norfolk Coast….nowhere like it on Earth. Alanis Morisette belts out her latest album in my ears. I head away from people so that I might join her, unheard. “Calling all lady haters, why must you vilify us…” within five minutes I am far enough from the holidaying crowd not only to sing but also to dance. The dogs jump up at me. All is well in my little world.

We continue for a mile or more until there isn’t a living being in sight. I take photos of the blue sky, the wet dogs, my feet, and post them on Facebook or text them to my mum. My invisible friend nudges me. Everything is going to be alright, he whispers.

I let the dogs paddle in the conduit then call them away towards the dunes. My eyes are fixed to the ground, forever seeking treasure. I ask myself again why it is that I have never grown out of the thrill of finding a pretty shell. Shell fill jars around my bath, sit on shelves and feature in poems. This afternoon I stop five times to pick and pocket the best that I can find. On a grassy knoll of sand I sit to rest and cuddle the dogs. I turn the music up. I send a text to my ex, wishing him Happy Easter xx.

Next we veer off over the dunes for a stroll among the tall grasses. The view from here is endless and infinitely peaceful. I could write War and Peace in a month, staring out at this calm.

The dogs are getting tired and thirsty and the sun is starting its sleepy descent, pouring light onto the beach but stealing warmth from the air. The sweat that cakes the inside of my sweat suit in losing heat by the minute. After a while I begin to feel like a bottle in a wine cooler. I hasten my pace.

We are marching now, at the speed that my Exercise App deems aerobic. The dogs are at my heals and I do not let them lose focus. Any dawdling, any swerve towards a stray ball or an inquisitive wet nose is corrected with a sharp snap of the extendable lead. I am seriously cold now and regretting my choice of fat-burning attire.

It takes ten more minutes to reach the car park. As I pass the beach kiosk I chastise my decision to leave my handbag in the car. I could murder a hot drink and a bar of chocolate. We walk past the pooh bag pretending not to see it and head for the Honda.

“Wait!” I tell the dogs, as I take out the shells from my pocket. My hand plunges in again: nothing. I try the other pocket: empty. I pat myself down like a security guard at an airport. I touch bits of myself that don’t even have pockets in the hope that the key will magically materialize under pressure of my frantic fingers.

It is one of those moments that one has already imagined in retrospect and smiled at the sheer stupidity of. I remember thinking an hour ago as I put the solitary key in the left pocket of my sweat top – the pocket with the working zip ¬– how awful it would be if I lost it but how that could never happen since the top is so well-fitting and the zip on that side is still functional. 

What I hadn’t anticipated, however, what I had failed to account for, was my undying puerile need for pretty shells.

And now, somewhere on the impossible 3-mile stretch of sand and sea-debris lies a single car key amongst a mess of razor clams.

I do my best not to panic. It is something inexplicable about me: a bizarre quirk of character that enables me to drown in a sea of depressed angst about things that haven’t occurred yet – like cancer, of any part of my body that happens to feel weird on any given day, or plane crashes or house fires or maiming car wrecks – but which gives me, when something real and tangible occurs in my life that I hadn’t planned for, a miraculously and level-headed calm to carry on with.

I don’t shrug my shoulders at this particular disaster but I do take off in a determined stride. I remove my head phones from my ears, as though silence might make my eyes sharper, and head back to the beach. The dogs are exhausted. I have to drag them along. It’ll be fine, we’re bound to find it, says my invisible friend. But his tone is shaky and I am tempted to shove him into the creeping water. Brancaster Beach seems to stretch beyond the horizon now. It has grown in the last 15 minutes not only in length but in breadth, even though the tide is coming in with alarming determination. I walk fast, tugging the lead with irritation. I don’t know where to put my eyes so I let them roam side to side like metal detectors, seeing nothing but still seeking treasure.

I send texts to a couple of friends making light of my dilemma. I tell my mum: It’s a disaster!

We walk for fifteen more minutes before I decide to call the AA.

It’ll cost, says the automated operator. Not only the call but the help, too. I am sold a year’s cover for £173 but the woman on the other end promises me that all will be fine. She is sending a locksmith and he will be with me within 2 hours.

I give up the search and head back to the car. It looks like an orphan in the emptying car park. I pass by the kiosk, asking if anyone has found a car key. No, I am told. So I enquire whether it is possible to pay for a hot drink with a card. No, I am told. I hang around longer than necessary, hoping that they’ll take pity on my and offer tea or coffee on the house.

Half an hour later, as my bones begin to ingest the cold that is trapped inside my wet suit, the local AA man calls.

Best we can do is order a new key from the manufacturers, he says. But that could take five days.

I will have hyperthermia by then, I say. Does the AA cover me for that? I am trying to reign in my voice in so that it won’t reach for the special pitch I possess that bears claws and teeth.

I was told it would all be fine! I whine. I’ve just spent £173 for nothing. Could you not just tow me and my car home then, and I will deal with it from there.

We can but you’re not covered for that. It’ll cost you.

What do you mean I’m not covered for that! The woman who sold me personal cover just an hour ago said that it included a recovery service to a garage or my home or to an address within the same distance! I’m only asking for a lift three miles down the road!

Your cover is for breakdown only, not for loss of keys.

My car can’t move! What difference does it make why?

It’s not part of the policy. We’ll have to charge you for the recovery.

But the car isn’t work the £300 it’s going to cost me! Fine. I’ll just smash a window and get my handbag and abandon the piece of shit to the rising tide.

You’ll be charged by the police for it’s removal. And fixing the window will cost more than the recovery charge. Wait there, he says. I’ll speak to my manager and see what we can do for you. I don’t want to leave you standing there alone.

Click

Brrrr

Ring

Hello?

Best I can do is send a patrol man to break into your car. Save you smashing the window.

Fantastic. Tell him to hurry. I’m seriously frozen.

It takes another hour for the yellow AA van to arrive. I welcome him with a smile and a wave fit for Santa Clause. He offers for me to warm up in his van but I decline. I am too excited at the prospect of getting my handbag and finding a taxi home. He gets out a long metal pole shaped like a staff, jams the passenger open an inch and inserts it. The hook flicks helplessly at the locked handle. I used the central lock on the key. The car is deadlocked. The handle won’t budge. After 40 teeth chattering minutes the AA man manages to hook my house keys out of the car and the vehicle is abandoned with a note on the windscreen: Keys lost on beach. Ring xxx if found. Cannot be moved until new programmed key is sent by Honda so please don’t clamp or fine me. Thank you.

The AA man takes pity on me and the dogs and drives us back to Burnham Market out of his way. I’m too embarrassed to let him take me any further so I ask to be dropped off at the edge of the village, half a mile from my front door. We say our goodbyes and he drives off towards Hunstanton. I walk briskly through the village, the sweat in my wet suit slowly turning to frost. Ten minutes later and just a stone’s throw from home as I cross the road I see the AA van heading towards me. A job in the other direction no doubt. We wave to one another like old friends. Twat, I imagine him saying to himself as he watches me shrink to nothing in his rearview mirror.

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Along Alanis Lines

I am sitting at my desk listening to Alanis Morisette’s incredible song, Sorry to Myself. In an hour I’ll be leaving for Rome with my two youngest sons. It’ll be their first trip to this incredible city and I can’t wait. But first, I need an injection of Alanis wisdom. I was reminded of my love of her music the other day as I watched The Trip to Italy – a delectable couple of hours in the company of the inimitable Coogan and Brydon. It left me smiling but sad too, for I find it demoralising that most men feel the need to jeopardise what is truly good and meaningful for the sake of a stroke of the ego… Anyway, that’s another story. But choosing Alanis as their soundtrack was truly inspired. I have always loved her music. She has provided all the beauty and angst I needed for the writing of 3 novels, and continues to offer guidance at my lowest moments, and at my happiest too!

Here are the genius lyrics of Sorry to Myself – read them for a boost of self-love. I listen to them whenever others make me forget that I’m a nice person, deserving of love. Enjoy:

“Sorry To Myself”

For hearing all my doubts so selectively and
For continuing my numbing love endlessly. 
For helping you and myself: not even considering
For beating myself up and over functioning.

To whom do I owe the biggest apology?
No one’s been crueller than I’ve been to me.

For letting you decide if I indeed was desirable
For myself love being so embarrassingly conditional.
And for denying myself to somehow make us compatible
And for trying to fit a rectangle into a ball.

And
To whom do I owe the biggest apology?
No one’s been crueller than I’ve been to me.

I’m sorry to myself.
My apologies begin here before everybody else.
I’m sorry to myself.
For treating me worse than I would anybody else.

For blaming myself for your unhappiness
And for my impatience when I was perfect where I was.
Ignoring all the signs that I was not ready,
And expecting myself to be where you wanted me to be.

To whom do I owe the first apology?
No one’s been crueller than I’ve been to me.

And
I’m sorry to myself.
My apologies begin here before everybody else.
I’m sorry to myself.
For treating me worse than I would anybody else.

Well, I wonder which crime is the biggest ?
Forgetting you or forgetting myself…
Had I heeded the wisdom of the latter,
I would’ve naturally loved the former.

For ignoring you: my highest voices.
For smiling when my strife was all too obvious.
For being so disassociated from my body,
And for not letting go when it would’ve been the kindest thing.

To whom do I owe the biggest apology?
No one’s been crueler than I’ve been to me.

And
I’m sorry to myself.
My apologies begin here before everybody else
I’m sorry to myself.
For treating me worse than I would anybody else.
I’m sorry to myself.
My apologies begin here before everybody else
I’m sorry to myself.
For treating me worse than I would anybody else

 
…Now for some literary chat. I am currently enjoying all manner of short tales by the amazing Alice Munro. Someone should make lovely movies from them instead of piling money into rubbish like Transcendence and Xmen! I am also reading the restored version of Sylvia Plath’s Ariel – a reprint of her manuscript, with all her corrections. It’s wonderful and disturbing. Last time I spent any time on these poems I was 16 and full of first-love agony. The words work differently now, but just as profoundly. 
 
Talking of reading Plath at 16… here is an incredible story, all true. When I was studying for my A Level English Lit, I read all I could find on Sylvia Plath. Halfway through her Letter Home, I came across my father’s name – Garry Karmiloff (there is only one in the world!). I couldn’t believe my eyes. Here he was, being described in a letter by Sylvia Plath to her mother. They met at a party in New York, during my father’s young days in the United Nations. She describes him in glowing terms and seemed to have had a little crush on him! And he had no idea!!! I phoned him immediately and told him. His answer was: “Oh yes, I remember…rather plain girl.” WTF!!!!
 
Ok, must sign off now. Time to go back in time to the most historically inspiring place on earth. Roma, here we come – I can’t wait to see my boys’ eyes grow wide in wonder 🙂
 
 
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LiminalVoice meets Norfolk voyeur. Stop by for a little read of Marsha’s story.

Today I thought I would try something novel. So here is a wee extract from my as-yet-unpublished manuscript, In the Shadow of Life, the story of two characters hiding dark family secrets, who battle with survivor guilt on opposite sides of the same wall.

Have a read, see what you think, and if you feel inclined, or have nothing better to do with your precious time, please leave  a comment, if only to let me know that there is somebody else out there…

In the Shadow of Life, by Kyra Karmiloff

Chapter 1

Picture this: a rectangle of sky, deep blue at the top fading to white over the sand dunes that hide the sea; below that, a rug of marshland split by an empty inlet where sailboats like broken-down cars linger at a tilt, their keels anchored in the brackish mud; then four arms of a monkey tree, the pitched roof of a bungalow, bushes, birds and a sill of purple pansies. Marsha’s horizon is boxed in plastic. The double-glazing gives the window a mirrored sheen, superimposing on the sea-view silhouettes that don’t belong, like the corner of the guest-bed protruding through the greenery, or the teardrop of the naked light-bulb hanging in the way of birds, or the ovals of Marsha’s spectacles floating like spaceships through the clouds, all framed by the mirror hanging on the opposite wall which, reflected in the glass, looks like another window into the room with another woman looking in. The effect is disorienting. In the window of the spare room from which Marsha keeps watch, her reflection is watching her mirror-image watching her.

Now listen to this, Marsha hears it too: “Luke, come and have look, the view’s amazing!” On the first-floor roof terrace of the house next door, draping Union Jack beach towels over the iron railings, a girl in a polkadot vest and bright red panties stares out over the marsh.

“Fuck the view!” comes the response from inside, “Come back to bed, I haven’t finished with you.” But the girl stays put. She grips the railings, leans back, tilts her face to the sun and smiles. The silence is four paces long. Then a young man appears, naked but for a pink hand-towel wrapped around his waist that snags on the vestiges of his erection as he walks. His skin is shiny with sweat, his hair corded with damp. They have been at it all afternoon: hours of panting, gasps and muted laughter. It’s a wonder the old antique bed is still standing.

Marsha watches him curl his arms around the girl’s waist. She feels herself blush as he works his fingers under the vest to cup her breasts. They kiss. Marsha’s hand migrates to her mouth. She feels the ache in her throat, familiar, almost comforting. She turns from the window and leaves the room.

[…plus some 80,000 or so more words that find Marsha doing all sorts of other strange and creepy things!]

Copyright © Kyra Karmiloff, 2011

…If you wanna read more, let me know and I’ll be happy to oblige. Better plastered in a blog than gathering dust in a virtual folder!

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LiminalVoice…the only single-parent in the village…

Somewhere in a beautiful cove near Bodrum, Turkey, I discover that it is apparently “totally uncool” to eat food or, god-forbid, play ping pong with your mum when you’re eleven.

Meanwhile my 13-year old just pretends I don’t exist. If, oh horror of horrors, he finds me nearby, he quickly turns away: my smiles go unreciprocated, and should I dare to speak in his direction his eyes pop out of his head in shame and chastisement.

I have also discovered, as the first day has progressed, that I am the only single-parent here and, as a result, something of a curiosity to be eyed with a mixture of sympathy and resentment by all the other parents whose children are either too young to give them any peace or old enough not to speak to them either. Far from minding my lonesome time, however, I am relishing the peace. It may be uncool to say so, but I actually enjoy my own company. It is compliant and never argues with my point of view, it enjoys whatever I feed it, be it edible, written or musical, and it never ignores me. Nevertheless, I can’t pretend to enjoy the pitying looks I get from my fellow holidaygoers. I feel the urge to tell everyone, “I’M NOT REALLY SINGLE! It’s just that my partner couldn’t come, that’s all!”, though I’m pretty sure that would only serve to procure me more pity not less: the statement taken as proof of the very thing it was intended to disprove. So, I keep my sunglasses on and  a book in hand at all times, looking busy when  public while my two boys maintain their utter disownment.

What’s great about being alone in a place like this is that you can earwig on other people’s talk. Children are the funniest, from the entertaining chatter of teenage girls, to the serious conversations of little boys in the pool:

Boy 1: What’s your name?

Boy 2: George.

Boy 1: Do you cry a lot?

Boy 2: Not much.

Boy 1: I once had to cry for a whole day.

Boy 2: I haven’t.

Boy 1: I’m eight, how old are you?

Boy 2: I’m four and….four and…four and three-quarters.

Boy 1 loses interest and the interaction is over.

If only it was that simple for adults…

Benevolent-half-of-a-holidaying-couple: Gorgeous weather.

Only-single-parent-in-the-village: (smile in agreement, clutching open book.)

Benevolent-half-of-a-holidaying-couple: Yours  at kids club?

Only-single-parent-in-the-village: Yes, they’re loving it. They don’t even want to have dinner with me tonight! Looks like I’ll be eating alone.

Benevolent-half-of-a-holidaying-couple (looking uncomfortable now in case sad single is vying for an invitation): My wife and I haven’t seen ours since breakfast!

Child of Benevolent-half-of-a-holidaying-couple from the other side of the pool: Dad! Come on! We’ve been waiting for you for ages!

Tomorrow, I will write, that’s a promise to myself, and to my novel which is suffering from severely stunted growth as a result of all my travel…Image

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LiminalVoice gets cabin fever

Back in Blighty, thawing out in bed with a hot water bottle after spending 9 hours in deep freeze on the upper deck of a Virgin plane. Having boarded said aircraft with a simmering temperature, I was blasted with cold air for an hour  – “It’ll warm when we reach altitude,” I was assured – then baked in the slow-oven of my duvet for sleep-time before being returned to deep freeze for landing. This cannot be good for anyone.

My time above ground was well-used, however. Between winging for less cold air and more wine, I read a very interesting article about the publishing industry’s latest laments, and a refreshingly frank interview with literary agent, Andrew Wylie, aka The Jackal – both in the New Republic magazine. Well worth a look if that sort of thing interests you.

Next, a movie: A Place Beyond the Pines, or some such silly title, which doesn’t do the film justice. It didn’t blow me away, exactly, but I did enjoy it, in a temperate, thoughtful way, and I found myself caring about the characters more than I have in most recent films, including Gravity, which was a more exciting movie all round, but which had me wishing the heroine would just float off into a black hole after her 5th near-miss.

A Place…does something most films don’t dare to: it switches protagonists as the story progresses – it literally kills the first one off, leaving you thinking the film is over, then pulls you into the story of the people left behind. This should, according to all story-telling rules, be a recipe for disaster. But they pull it off.  Your sympathy flits, finds a home, takes off, searches the horizon of the story, and lands again, and you are carried along, albeit for rather too many minutes, to the story’s conclusion. I liked it. It wasn’t earth shattering, and I don’t feel the need to see it again, but I do recommend it, for the performances, the writing, and the interesting form it takes.

Meanwhile, I am no nearer to solving the dilemma of what to do about the opening of my novel, which gives just the right amount of back story about my two protagonists to set them  up for the inciting incident (yes, yes, I’ve been to the Bob McKee school), but which breaks the golden rule, as advised by most agents nowadays: start your novel at the beginning of the action…. What to do? I am not a fan of flashbacks – they make the story holds its breath for too long, and often smack of exposition. But to leave out the past in a story that centres around a sibling relationship wouldn’t work either… My mentor disagreed with the above golden rule. He  advised me to entrust my story to chronology. He clearly has more faith in the patience of modern readers than agents do. I remain none the wiser.

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LiminalVoice in the Wild West…with a raccoon called Calamity

I am not a fan of keeping wild species as pets. Smacks of short-sightedness – baby crocs grow into killer dinos and tiger cubs are all very well but they are not labradors – and has nothing to do with conservation, rescue or anything that purports to kindness. Generally-speaking, it is about one-upmanship and badge-wearing, and it is not to be praised or encouraged. Having said that, Calamity the 8-week old pet racoon was very very cute…

We have all heard how chicks bond to the first being that cares for them upon hatching, be it human, mother-bird or robot. I would never have imagined the same could be true of a racoon. I stand corrected. Introducing, CALAMITY and her hirsute owner, Cowboy such-and-such (he didn’t want to talk about himself), who rescued her aged just two weeks, and who, in the space of less than two months, has been firmly adopted by the coon as his mommy. The cowboy was quick to tell me how he found her sprawled on a highway, flat as a pancake (I’m not convinced), and how he hand-fed her milk every three hours for the next month. She now follows him everywhere – this is not hearsay, I saw it happen, the little creature scrambling desperately after the big hairy man whenever he moved – even into the loo/toilet/bathroom/restroom (I will get it right one day).

Image Image

Being a nocturnal creature, she spent the rest of the afternoon asleep on his lap while an excellent band played the blues to a crowd of Harley Davidsonites. We were at Cold Spring Tavern, near the Santa Ynez mountains, where over a century-and-a-half ago weary travellers would stop to eat, rest and change their horses on their way to and from Santa Barbara. Almost unchanged, the tavern lies tucked away in the trees halfway down what must have then been a perilous mountain pass. The distances these people traveled by horse and cart are hard to believe. What for? I asked myself as we drove on and on through deserted, barren countryside.

Next stop, Solvang. Now this has to be seen to be believed. They call it the Little Denmark of the US. It is, according to the free glossy map we were given at the gas station, “one of the top 5 domestic destinations in America”. This I find depressing. Nothing against Solvang per se, but in a country big enough to fit 39.4 UKs in its landmass, surely we can find something a tad more impressive? Solvang looks made of hardboard and plastic. It is like a set built for Disneyland, from its five fake windmills to its Tudor-style bungalows. We were lucky, however. We landed just in time for the beer-swigging contest, complete with lederhosen-clad men and women wearing yellow Asterix-type wigs and milk-maid dresses. All very tasteful. So was the ale…

On to our luxury hotel, which has just reopened after a 7-year (SEVEN YEARS!?) remodel. At $875 a night, (more than my car is worth and more than I earn most months) plus all the extras that hotels manage to lump onto your bill like budget airlines, including $35 per day for valet parking (I’m thinking career change?), we were expecting to be seriously pampered. Wrong. During the 7-year preparations they forgot to attend to the most important aspect of customer satisfaction: customer satisfaction. Yes, the hotel is palatial, the gardens glorious, the rooms vast and the beds comfortable, but the atmosphere is cold and corporate, the attention to detail poor, and the general feel of the place not overly welcoming. Worst of all, they forgot my surprise! Unbeknown to me, my wonderful partner had tried to book a special package to include a freshly-run bath as a welcome, complete with sprinkles of rose petals and a roomful of flowers – a rare attack of romance, which the cursed hotel deprived me of: not a bloom in sight, neither on arrival nor at any point thereafter.

“It’s the thought that counts, darling,” I reassured him, silently berating the concierge and her useless team. Worst still, when we brought this up at checkout, no apology was given. “No Sir, I can’t see any sign of you paying for a Special Package.” Computer says no.

Time to let loose my ire. When she finally came to ask us, after ensuring that the $2000 payment had gone through, of course, “Did you enjoy your stay with us?”, I replied: “Actually there were some problems with the room…” She looked surprised. “Really?”. “Really,” and I rattled off my list of gripes, starting with the missing coffee for the coffee machine, and the absent cups that forced us to drink said beverage, when it finally turned up, in glass tumblers from the bathroom, and ending with the bath drain, so loud (unbearable sucking noise) that you had to leave the bathroom dry yourself off. I am generally not one for complaining unnecessarily, but she asked for it.

She didn’t seem remotely concerned by any of it, however. Nor did she offer any sort of redress. So I asked if breakfast was included, thinking she might offer it by way of an apology, but she answered, “No.” Needless to say, we won’t be going back.

There is something really horrible about luxury that takes itself for granted.

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LiminalVoice does LA, some more. Today Wholefoods…for birds

So, yesterday, some time around 2pm (or 10pm according to my bodyclock) I mounted my bike and went looking for lunch, something quick and easy that could be gulped one-handed between typed sentences. I was thinking humus, cheese, maybe a Jacobs cracker or two. I arrived in Wholefoods and entered via the Exit. First mistake leading to odd stares from the cashiers. Via organic shampoos and soapless soaps I found my way to the fruit and veg section, an assault course of citrus, zucchinis and eggplant, all available in a rainbow of colours – I could have sworn beetroot was red. Unable to resist, I picked a watermelon and plonked it in my basket, regretting the idea instantly as it slid into the eggs I had scooped on my travels. 

Undeterred, I marched on, eyes honed on the over-shelf signs, looking for a clue to the whereabouts of crackers. Passing shelves of non-dairy dairy products made from the milk of nuts (nuts!), I finally reached mecca, the biscuit isle, mostly Gluten-free. I searched for crackers. Nothing fancy, just something with a touch of wheat, perhaps, a smidgen of butter, a hint of salt? No such luck. The choice was seaweed – flat crisps of congealed dark green – crisp bread – more air than cracker – and seeds. Yes, I am spelling it right: SEEDS! (see photo). In pizza flavour. Yummmm! Do Flax Snacks even qualify as food fit for the human palate? Last time I looked I was lacking a beak…

The wonderful thing about Wholefoods, at least here is Venice, is that it’s really not about food at all, it’s about how well you have pulled off the just-stepped-off-out-for-some-milk-looking-really-sexy-completely-by-accident look. People spend more time in the isles here checking each other out than filling their organic, unhomogenised, free-range trolleys. It’s a lovely place, really. Though after fifteen minutes among the beautiful people, searching in vain for Jacobs Crackers and coming up with seeds, I am suddenly craving my local One Stop, where you not only can get Jacobs Crackers seven days a week, you can also learn new swear words from the angry-looking mums who drag their toddlers to the chocolate isle daily to choose something for breakfast.

The problem with Wholefoods is mine, not the supermarket’s. I am simply not trendy enough for this place. Not bendy enough either. For you don’t just need a healthy bank account to shop here, you are also required to have long yoga limbs capable of reaching seven feet up to the top shelves.

Ah bugger this. I’m off to CVS next door. I hear they do top quality, over-the-counter Prozac…Image

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