Category Archives: Enough About Me…Let’s Talk About Me!



              I’m likely to be busy for some time to come, but I thought I’d share an anecdotal story with you all first, before my life once again hunts me down and swallows me whole. 


             Wax is an amazing substance.  Necessary for candles, surfboards and the like.  I used to like wax.  Until Immac slapped a sappy mixture on the back sticky back plastic and passed it off as a wax strip.


             In my youth, probably about the age of fourteen or so, I decided the time had come for the underarm arena to be more permanently defluffed!  So, I purchased wax strips from the chemist.  I read the instructions.  I had to rub them to warm them up, then apply firmly to the underarm area and then firmly pull them off in one swift movement.  Easy.  You’d think so but allow me to enlighten you.


             Application wasn’t so much a problem as you merely had to slap it in place, what troubled me was the pull torque necessary to remove the superglue-esque strip was more like hurricane Andrew and less smooth motion.  You remember the add for the glue where they glued the guy by his overalls to the ceiling?  That was the business side of my wax strip – I’m certain.  Now, I made a fatal mistake in the initial removal attempt; I gave it a little tug which my poor armpit interpreted as a shot across the bow.  My brain registered the possibility of serious pain and associated it with the removal of the strip.  Biggest problem now was my right hand was responsible for the serious pull torque necessary and the same brain was associating  right pull hand and left unhappy armpit – the result being that I couldn’t pull it off.  I’m fourteen, I’m standing in the bathroom with my hand in the air and I’m starting to get pins and needles.  I can’t get dressed – I’ve got one hand in the air.  So, I call my step mother.  At the merest hint that she’s tugging on that strip I scream and run backwards – still with hand in air.  I’m considering how to get through the rest of my life with my hand skyward and a wax strip permanently residing in my pit.  My stepmother’s next suggestion is to cut it off, but there wasn’t that much hair to start with.  Not much room for scissors and in the process of trying to lever scissors in the minuscule gap between strip and skin, the armpit once again registers danger as the hair, brutually slowly separates company with the skin.  This is not going to work either.  The next suggestion is get in the shower and soak the thing off.  I soak and soap and massage and talk to the strip.  It’s not budging.   This is the tank grease, left over from world war II that someone bought as a job lot and had to remarket as something (the rest was marketed as marmite).  This wax isn’t water soluble… why would it be? 


            Four hours and I’m still stuck with it.  In the end, she pins me down and pulls it off.  Time slows when you are experiencing pain.  This wasn’t just pain.  If you look in the dictionary under torture, it would list Immac as a purveyor.  I swear that the skin left behind was basal layer only, the sort that you are not supposed to expose to sunlight.  I thought I might need a skin graft.  Needless to say I shaved for years after that, until I was brave enough to experiment with warm wax and salons… but that’s another story


A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words….

Mum said this would be an historical day, one I’d remember for the rest of my life.  She wasn’t wrong.  I’ll never forget it. 

 We’d been allowed entry to America only a few days before.  Dad, being a scientist of some considerable reputation in our native Russia, had been invited to work at the big college in Texas teaching physics.  It was November, but I remember that it was never as cold here in Dallas as it was at home.

 My mother was a fanatical documenter and took photographs almost daily.  She was very much the glass half full type and would frequently comment on our absolute good fortune at being able to live in America.  She would tell my sister and I how fortunate we were that papa was so clever and loved us all so dearly and how wonderful our lives would be whilst we were in America. 

 And so, it was with much excitement that day that mother dressed us in our best clothes, newly purchased, and made us stand outside for yet another photograph.  I remember my hand being so small against my fathers, and his being so warm to the touch.  He was never overly demonstrative, but I never once doubted his love for me, nor his demand for the best of things.  We had to always make an effort, try hard, work hard, do as we were told and when praise came from him, it was genuine, craved and left you with a sense of pride that I cannot describe now. 

 ‘Stand up straight, chest out,’ he whispered to me while mother was arranging herself close by, making sure to get us all in the frame.  My sister, as always, quietly clung to our fathers other hand.  For her, moving to America had been traumatic.  She was a quiet child and our home in Russia had been away from the town; moving here to all the noise, hustle, bustle and speed of Dallas made her nervous and edgy.  Ever since the day of this photograph, she still has a terrible dislike of loud, sudden bangs and I don’t doubt why.

 With our photographing done, mother ushered us all towards the grassy verge around the corner and we bumbled along, looking at the bunting and all the strange American people that called this place home.  The atmosphere was electric and even my austere father couldn’t help but be infected, he began smiling and swinging his hands, probably the most relaxed I ever saw him.

 Now, as a six year old boy, you don’t get an awful lot of warning when you are going to need to empty your bladder and patience is also in short supply.  My need to stay and watch everything going on at this parade was losing a battle against the urgency of my need for a bathroom.  A little jig ensued I remember and my father, understanding what was going on, began leading me away to the small fence.

 ‘If you are quick, you will miss nothing,’ he smiled down at me and led me behind the fence where I could at last relieve myself away from prying eyes.  We were close to a railroad track, hidden in brush and I was mid-flow.  My father stiffened suddenly close to me and placed his hand over my mouth.  He used his other hand to tell me to be quiet and still.  I’d never seen fear in my father’s eyes before that day, and he was entirely grey suddenly.  I could feel the catch of tears in my throat as I did myself up, urine still flowing down my leg and tried to hide with my father as quietly as possible.  Through the fence, I could see my sister and mother chatting animatedly and wished beyond anything, that we’d stayed there, in the sunlight. 

 Very close to us, a man assembled a big gun.  My father and I had nowhere to move to and if we made any movement, the gunman would know our position.  He was very focused, looking through the sight of the gun toward the street.  I felt my father wrap his arms around me tighter and he whispered into my ear. 

‘Put your fingers in your ears and bury your face in my jacket.’

I didn’t know why he said this, but I obeyed immediately.  The muffling wasn’t enough to block out much sound though.  I heard the crowds on the road cheer louder as a car turned the corner, then a loud bang followed by a thunderously louder bang as the gunman close to us fired.  I squeezed my eyes as tightly closed as they would go and not one tiny sound escaped me.  The cheering became screaming. The gunman coolly and quickly packed up and was gone. 

 Suddenly, my father had scooped me up and had reached my mother in about four strides.  He spoke to her hurriedly in Russian before we were rushed back to our small apartment.

 My mother never told me off for soiling my new clothes that day and once back inside the safety of our new home, my father told me never to speak of what I’d seen and not even to say that we were there.  He was adamant and his tone left me in no doubt that it wasn’t open to negotiation.  The day was never discussed again.

 It was some time before I learned about the Kennedy assassination in School – November 1963 –  and I realised; I had been inches from the man that killed John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  I broached the subject with my father just before he died, an old man, warm in his bed. 

 He told me, ‘I am glad that we never spoke of this before today, you should not speak of it at all, not many witnesses to atrocity live to tell the tale.’

 I have a feeling he was right.

Why? (I said I’d come back to it later)


 What a word… Imagine the peace you could experience without the word ‘why’.  It is the first annoying word that a toddler learns and adults soon begin to respond with ‘because I said so!’

 The word ‘why’ has driven men and women mad for centuries… here are some examples:

 Why won’t it work?

Why don’t you love me?

Why did you do this to me?

Why are you firing me?

Why can’t I get a break?

Why am I like this?

Why aren’t I beautiful?

Why, why, why…

 When someone does something to you or your family, you torture yourself with the ‘why’ word, looking for something, anything that would explain the reason it was done.  There is also that unforgiving minute when you have done something, and you cannot rationalise why you did it.  Perhaps you stole something, or said something.  Asking someone else ‘why’ is one thing, asking yourself ‘why’ is a whole different ball game, the most torturous of all.

So, in conclusion, why is the very worst and very best of words.  You see, as well as it’s penchant for making us look at ugly truths, or search for reason in an unreasonable situation, it is also the very question that has forwarded the human race.  For all the ill we have done in the world, we have also made great discoveries and done some good in the world too.

 The following are merely supposition, provided for entertainment.

 Why can’t we have electric light indoors?’  Thomas Edison

‘Why did that apple fall down? Sir Isaac Newton

‘Why does time seem to rush one moment and then drag the next?’ Einstein

‘Why can’t there be a machine that sucks up all this dust!’ Erna Schneider
Hoover ‘Why do you think we are the centre of the universe – perhaps there is a way to look at space and find out…?’  Galileo

‘Why can’t women vote?’ Suffragettes

‘Why do you feel the need to be violent when protesting for equality for African-Americans?  There is another way…’  Martin Luther King Jr.

‘Why –  just because we are a small island – should we be dictated to by Adolf Hitler?’ Winston Churchill

Thinking Thoughts…

Thoughts appear then go
Arrive then leave,
Furl themselves around the mind,
Then fall victim to a thief.

Enter by the one ear,
Depart by top of head,
Neither hat nor capping hand,
Can help retain what’s said.

But plant a worry up there,
Let the brow be furrowed,
That thought there is solid,
A veritable tree from acorn sowed.

No shaking of that idea,
No matter if you beg,
Good thoughts seem to float away,
But bad thoughts are made of lead.

Watch and Live – Perspectives

I sat and watched my life a while,
I saw it passing by,
If I were to watch for too much longer, before I’d lived, I’d die.
I woke up in the morn time,
With risk upon my brain,
For living has its pitfalls,
Like getting caught out in the rain.
But if I’d never lived at all,
I would never have bet,
That there’s such happiness in living,
And much fun in getting wet.


Salsa “Back to School” Party September 2012


           I am not what I would consider photogenic.  The minute a camera lens appears, I generally hide or if that isn’t possible, I pull a face that is somewhere between gastric discomfort and mania of some description.  However, I have noticed more and more recently – and I don’t know if this is a by product of getting old – that photographs are truly cherished.  I have recently acquired a photo of my granddad Frank, whom I never met, but I find his picture fascinating.  It is displayed on the book shelf, along with all the other photos of family and friends.  In the current digital era, where pictures are megapixels rather than paper, I urge you to do two things:

             1) Let your friends and loved ones photograph you – you don’t appreciate what the photo will mean to them (you also don’t appreciate how great you look right now);

            2) Print your digital pictures; put them in frames or in the photo album and look at them often, it is a pictorial representation of a time in your life.

 The last few photos taken of me, I’m smiling and I’m having a great time, because I don’t care what I look like, the photo is meant to be of ‘me’ and all my idiosyncrasies.  Where I might have seen imperfection before, I now see uniqueness and I am learning to celebrate how amazing that really is.



Why?  Now, there’s a word.  The root of all evil, but I’ll come back to that later…

Why am I here?  Well, this blog is going to be where I keep anyone who’s interested, up to date with the book effort and there will be also be obligatory rants, some funny, some probably not and the occasional outburst at the sheer idiocy of the world…. 😀