The Old Boys edition

This morning I took the constitutional pant down to

the sea

The Groover puffs along the shore to the lifeboat station and

stops at a set of stairs down to the beach, catches his

breath and then heads back

So far, so simple…..

Except this morning there was a man getting undressed

at the stairs…..

…..into his swimming togs

As a creature of habit the G.-man didn’t want to break the

routine…..

…..but going up to a man taking his kit off definitely qualified

as a bit weird

‘Is your name Reginald Perrin?’ I asked

‘No, I’m Joe’, he drawled

A Texan in Hernia Bay !

This was going from weird to surreal ! !

Then he stuck out a big paw and proceeded to crush

the G.-mitt

They say everything in Texas is big…..

Big Joe was certainly that

Feeling like a little social intercourse I tried…

‘Cowboys or Oilers?’

‘Oilers’ as it happened

‘Say, what did you say your name is? I can’t remember what I

had for breakfast these days’, he added

The Groover told him and then confirmed his…..

‘And you’re Ted, right?’

‘No, Joe’

Holy Shmoly !

Alzheimer’s was looming into sight for this pair of old boys

…at least the Texan good old boy had age on his side…..

…..mid-late 60s !

The G.-man…..Well, too much of something !

Then big Joe whipped off his T to expose the torso of a

quarterback

Holy Shmoly ! ! !

In fact, he may have been one once but this present version

of homo sapiens was on account of his penchant for sea-swimming

Yep, big Joe was just about to step into the big blue yonder…

…alright, the brown choppy Channel

Then with The Beach Boys playing in the headphones of his

‘aqua-iPod’ he would swim laterally along the shore…..

…..backwards and forwards…..

‘California Girls, 1965’ et al

…..until it was time to step out looking a bit like Daniel Craig

in a Bond moment

…..hopefully he can remember his way home

Go Joe !

G.

ps, I did explain the Reggie Perrin question before I left (The Rise

and Fall of Reginald Perrin, 1976-79, BBC)…..Big Joe had never

asked, he must just assume the English are eccentric ! ! ! ! !

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The High Brow edition

The Groover got culture this evening…

…and culture got the G.-man !

Lured by the prospect of ‘Songs from the South’…..

…..read Italian !

I pulled on a corduroy jacket (not) and ventured out…

The venue was St Gregory’s Centre for Music located in an

old grade 2 listed church of the same name in Canterbury that

was built in 1851, then renovated and turned into a first class

music hall less than a year ago

First hurdle: the entry fee…..

Claiming immunity from the full £15 entry as a student I proffered

my student card…..

I was referred to the nutty professor Grenville who said I looked like

I was more than 25 years old…..

Hmmm……..

‘Hold on’, he said, ‘Can’t you just pretend you were born in 1985?’

‘Done!’ I replied without adding that that would make me 28……..

……..I guess that’s why he is a professor of music and not maths !

In for free !

Woo hooooo ! ! ! ! !

Rather worryingly it soon became apparent that at the tender age

of 57 (Heinz !) I was about the youngest person there

Anyway at the appointed hour the performers took the stage……

The mezzo-soprano, Clara Mouriz, and the ivory-tickler,

Simon Lepper

She, a vision of Spanish womanhood; he, well, he was English

So off they went, the singing version of Penelope Cruz and the

crusty English accompanist

The Italian song book was composed by the Austrian composers,

Marx and Wolf………..

……………very strange

Then the concert moved onto Portuguese and Spanish composers…

It just got better and better !

This is opera without the stage set and with only one actor

But it was a wonderful, moving experience

There was an interval in the middle which permitted the nutty

professor Grenville more opportunities to demonstrate his skills….

At the end of the break he dimmed the lights, made a short speech

about the artists and then encouraged us to clap………..

………Nothing happened !

Then he realised he had forgotten to tell the performers to come out

Derrrrr !

The second half was truly special, the composers were De Falla,

Granados and Turina

The encore was by Granados again (a song called ‘Shy Boy’)

All pretty irrelevant because everything was sung in German,

Portuguese and Spanish

The G.-man was particularly impressed that at the interval the

entire audience minus himself formed an enormous queue for

refreshments that they weren’t allowed to buy (no licence) but

were encouraged to make a charitable donation for instead (the

nutty professor Grenville again)

Except the wine on offer came out of cartons with little taps

and was called Chenet (red) and Hock (white and

room temperature)

You could not have paid me to drink that sh*t…………

…………it was the 1970s all over again…..

…………it was Abigail’s Party (1977)

The Groover loved the 1970s………..

………he came of age

………he learnt how to . . . . .no, wrong blog

Anyway, they were great…….

They gave us NORTHERN SOUL ! ! ! ! !

All except though for the wine in cartons and beer in big party

tins

…..Remember Watneys Red Barrel ?

Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

G.

ps, there was absolutely nothing ‘mezzo’ about Clara M. ! ! ! ! !

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The Minnis Bay Mariners edition

It may be September 26th and so technically autumn…

…but try telling that to the weather gods

Today the G.-man’s thermometer registered 20c (in the shade)

…and the temperature in the naked glare of il sole was way 

above that

So with Giulietta asking for a little exercise we shot off to

the sandy stretches of Minnis Bay (Costa del Kent)

Hmmmmmm……………………………………………………….

There was just one family group on the entire beach !

and the tea shop was closed for the season

But I spotted the beach huts at one end and headed in that

direction…

…then I noticed one hut was open and a colourful display of 

wares was on offer…

…I was in like flint ! ! !

I basically had five options at that moment…..

…walk on the sand

…look at the sea

…stare at the family group

…study the door of the closed tea shop

…or go shopping

I chose the latter

As I walked through the entrance to this aladdin’s cave of

seaside memorabilia I politely said ‘Hello’ over my shoulder

to the proprietor who was sipping a coffee and basking in 

the sun outside

Said proprietor lurched to her feet and followed me in…..

‘Excuse me’ she said ‘This is my beach hut’

AH !

The penny dropped

‘It’s not a shop then ?’ I volunteered

‘No, it’s my waterside des res and you’re in it’

Two paces and I was outside again

Once out the tension was diffused and Penny (her name)

and the Groover became friends

It turned out her ambition is to win the ‘Beach hut of the Year’

competition

I think she stands a very good chance, her place was wonderful

…model beach huts

…beach mugs

…towels

…swimming gear

Every inch of every wall was covered with maritime flavoured kit

Then her neighbour turned up and she revealed that the Birchington

swimming club had the adjacent beach hut

The aquatic neighbour was both retired and built like a No.8 rugby

player

‘You look like a swimmer’ the G.-man joked

‘What does a swimmer look like?’ he shot back a tad seriously

‘Like you’ I answered and that seemed to settle the matter !

Then Penny announced she was going in and the merry bunch

made their way  down to the murky brown waters

‘Have a great swim’ I shouted over to them

‘Fat chance, it’s bloody freezing’ came the reply

Bless them

You have to admire their spirit…..

…..the desire to stay fit and healthy

But I for one can think of some more interesting ways of

achieving the same end

At least both our respective choices are free (mostly)

G.

 

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The Caffe edition

Caffe is the Italian word for coffee…

…and the Italians really get coffee

…they didn’t invent it, they just know what to do with it !

The Americans on the other hand have fatally wounded

themselves because they believe bigger is better…

…which is why they no longer have a car industry !

The average Joe would consume anything that was brown

and wet as long as you called it coffee…

…and curiously they called it Joe (it’s actually a disparaging

word for the drink because it was once forcibly substituted

for alcohol)

Then Starbucks (and others) decided to persuade the Americans

that drinking industrially sized quantities of biblically overpriced

coffee (and its variants) was a hip thing to do

Well they achieved one thing…..

…..and this is absolutely to their credit…..

…they gave the Americans and the British a cafe culture…

…somewhere to meet, talk, date, woo and even do business

Thank you !

Unfortunately they also gave us bad coffee

While we are busy thanking folk let’s thank Yemen for inventing

it in the 15th century in the Sufi shrines…

…and let’s thank the Italians for giving us the name because coffee

is derived etymologically from caffe…..

…..and this has allowed me to segue straight back to Paradiso…..

In the main square in Bassangeles the baristas practice ‘coffee art’

at the Bar Leon…..

…creating designs in the foam on the cappuccinos from a kind of

liquid chocolate

…..which is all well and fine while they stick to flower motifs and

names (this works as long as your name is short)

They tried, and failed, to fit ‘The Groover’ onto my morning

cappuccio…..but they succeeded with ‘G.-man’ ! ! ! ! !

Anyway for one happy (male) sipper this led to some confusing

signals…

…names and flower motifs were exchanged for ‘hearts’…

…interesting……………………..

…this went on for a while until one fine morning the cappuccio

arrived with a single and short word………….

………..F U * K     ! ! ! ! !

…and the baristas here are young and female ! ! !

Confusion reigned supreme !

Was it a command ?

Was it a wish ?

Was it a suggestion ?

……and would it be worth it ?

In reality it was just a bit of fun…..

…..and the sexy barista was practicing her English

Well we can all dream…..

…..but hopes, dreams or otherwise the best coffee in

the world is in Italy and the best coffee in Bassangeles

comes from the house of Leon

G.

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The Bassangeles edition

groovers offside

Bassangeles is how Bassano del Grappa is commonly

referred to by its inhabitants and outsiders alike…..

…..and it references its pretensions to be sophisticated,

cultured, chic and powerful like Los Angeles

Of course Bassano is a minnow comparatively and hence 

the sobriquet is used as much in mockery as it is in deference

But Bassangeles does have it all going on, to coin a phrase

The town sits in the middle of the Veneto in northeastern Italy

This part of the world is regarded as the wealthiest area on the

planet…..

…..and most of the wealth is concentrated in private companies

I should add that a measurable part of the reason that so much has

been amassed so quickly (in two generations since the WW2) can 

be attributed to the skill and devotion than the Italians dedicate to 

avoiding (and evading) tax

That should more accurately be written ‘evading (and…

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The Bassangeles edition

Bassangeles is how Bassano del Grappa is commonly

referred to by its inhabitants and outsiders alike…..

…..and it references its pretensions to be sophisticated,

cultured, chic and powerful like Los Angeles

Of course Bassano is a minnow comparatively and hence 

the sobriquet is used as much in mockery as it is in deference

But Bassangeles does have it all going on, to coin a phrase

The town sits in the middle of the Veneto in northeastern Italy

This part of the world is regarded as the wealthiest area on the

planet…..

…..and most of the wealth is concentrated in private companies

I should add that a measurable part of the reason that so much has

been amassed so quickly (in two generations since the WW2) can 

be attributed to the skill and devotion than the Italians dedicate to 

avoiding (and evading) tax

That should more accurately be written ‘evading (and avoiding)’ ! ! ! ! !

Like Diesel, whose owner Renzo Rosso (the ‘jeans genius’) is a

neighbour of the G.-man

But the honour roll of companies is incredibly long and varied…

Innovation and automation have been the driving forces…

It never ceases to amaze me that the world’s greatest concentration

of automatic gate manufacturers are clustered together near here…

…there are about 40 of them and they are unquestionably the global

market leaders…..

…..Strange but true !

This is a world where people really do have ‘his and her Bentleys’

Hence the Bassangeles tag is tinged with envy in some quarters

BUT………

…..it does mean that when they do stuff they do it in style…..

For example !

Last week the G.-man and some of the Golden Boys went to a 

restaurant called ‘Ottocento’ for a night out…..

…..lured by the posters round town featuring a beautiful black

woman with a fro and proclaiming…..

‘Funky Night………DJ / Musica del Vivo / Buffet’

Frankly, the woman in the poster was enough to persuade me !

The DJ, live music and buffet were just bonuses

AND………

‘(Oh) What a Night’, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, 1975 ! ! ! ! !

This place ROCKED

The setting is spectacular…..

…..sitting on the prow of a hill facing the mountains

…..with a terraced garden that was lit and spread up the hillside

The band sang 70s deep funk grooves…..

Like ‘Why Did You Do It?’ by Stretch from 1975

Check it out on youtube…………

…the groove can’t get much funkier than this !

Then for two hours a small army of waiters and waitresses 

brought out course after course of food

Hot seafood risotto

Chicken and polenta

Etc

Etc

Etc

Everything was very Italian except curiously a round of

mini-burgers (they were very good just a little out of place)

The revellers looked as though they were the older brothers and

sisters (or the parents) of the very young crowd over at Garage

that were getting it on to the techno sound there

You might be wondering what all this costs ? ? ?

Actually it was all absolutely FREE !

Yes, FREE !

Because, and this goes back to the title of this post, this town has

pretensions………

…..and for a very good restaurant to throw a party like this…

…..it represents the perfect way to satisfy those pretensions

and build a loyal clientele in the process

Well, the Groover for one will be going back

God bless Bassangeles and all who revel in her !

G.

 

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The Interlude in Heaven edition

groovers offside

‘Heaven is a place on earth’, Belinda Carlisle, 1987

So sang the ex-lead singer of The Go-go’s

She was right too………….

…..and the G.-man has the exact location !

Rosa ! ! ! ! !

No, it’s a place and not a ‘destination-lady’ !

Anyway, if that kind of thing floats your boat don’t waste your

money, instead try…………….

http://www.cougarlife.com

Don’t shoot the messenger ! ! !

Rosa happens to be the first stop on the road to Padua from

Bassangeles……………………..

…..and it happens to be the home of…..

CAPOVILLA distillati

http://www.capovilladistillati.it

This is the birthplace of the greatest grappa on the planet

This is the home of the best liquor in the world

This is the baby of one man…..

The legend that is Vittorio Capovilla…..

…..simply ‘Capo’ to his friends (and the Groover)

Capo means ‘chief’ in Italian……

Our square-jawed hero was missed by Hollywood…..

…..and for thirty…

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