Tag Archives: Wonder Boy

I’ll be back…

I’ll tell you something, Crazy Yank loves his films. His DVDs in particular. It became a ritual, usually at the weekend, that he’d go to Blockbuster and pick up three used ones for £10. I’d never seen such a big DVD collection when I moved in. I still haven’t. Hundreds. I forget the exact number now but it was about 400. The family have proudly informed me that it’s many more than that now of course.

I remember going to the hallowed Blockbuster on the High Road with Crazy Yank and co from time to time and trying to have my say. It was hard because Crazy Yank and Wonder Boy would go for some action film or a horrific shoot ’em up film. Slish would eye up some teen fluff and Crazy Yank would often appease her with one out of the three choices. I would look for the independent films, those with the Sundance Film Festival stamp of approval, and would inevitably get nowhere or ‘forget it’ more specifically. But one glorious day, I was allowed one out of the three: The Savages. (It was OK.)

Anyway, sorry for the silence and forget what Arnie said – I am back. I will be posting more regularly now and by more regularly, I mean weekly. If not weekly, fortnightly. Hello.

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Happy Christmas and New Year y’all

In keeping with the American tradition engrained on this blog, I should really say ‘Happy Holidays!’ but that’s not something even Crazy Yank, Wonder Boy or Slish would say. (Anyway, I said ‘y’all’ above so hopefully that’s suffice.)

I just wanted to say Happy Christmas and New Year to everyone. A bit belated for the former but I hope you all had a lovely Christmas anyhow. Thanks so much for reading the blog and for anyone who commented too – hope you continue to stay tuned in 2011. The blog has some exciting developments coming up in January. All shall become clear very soon…

In the meantime, my blog highlight in 2010 has to be getting a mention on Dave Hill’s London Blog on The Guardian‘s website. Thanks to Dave, I got 294 views on March 23. My busiest day yet. Here’s hoping I can build on this in 2011. New year and all that.

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Thanksgiving 2010

So yes, Thanksgiving 2010 came and went. It was different this time. Different from 2009 and 2008 – the previous times I’d attended – and according to Crazy Yank, it was different from every other time because this time (this is the last time I say time) he hired out the local boat house.

I recall him considering hiring out the boat house in 2008 but he finally took the plunge two years later and it felt much more like an event for it. Big chairs, rich wooden floors, stunning River Thames views. We still ran out of seats but then again, with the new venue came many more guests. I was also pleased to see Crazy Yank’s full-size Obama cardboard cut out make a comeback from his surprise birthday party in September (I might upload a photo of me and said grinning Obama in the near future. He’s very funny.)

So arriving for my third, and my boyfriend’s second Thanksgiving, we placed our booze in the corner and I gave Crazy Yank some flowers as he gave me the obligatory kiss on each cheek. The usual faces were scattered across the two rooms. Slish was there with her group of friends (boys a new addition to the proceedings) and Wonder Boy, after his first term at university, was charactertistically cool, calm and collected. The spread looked even more impressive on a big table. Seriously. I couldn’t even fit all the food in the photo so here’s a very big photo of some of it instead:

(And yes, I believe those are pilgrim salt and pepper pots.)

Post-food, there was the usual drinking, dancing and displeased DJs trying to maintain control of the Crazy Yank’s super cheesy ‘good times’ playlists (Motown proved triumphant as always) and soon enough, it was time to say goodbye and leg it for the last train after lots of fun, as always. The venue might have been different but Crazy Yank had nothing to worry about on the night. Thankfully.

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It’s that time of year…

It’s a Sunday. I’ve just come out of a Sainsbury’s Local with a Taste the Difference pizza (and I have Carte D’Or ice-cream in a Tesco bag.) My phone rings. It’s a London number but I don’t recognise it.

‘Hello?’

‘Hey you.’ (It’s Crazy Yank. I think.)

‘Is that you?’

‘Yeah.’

‘For some reason my phone doesn’t seem to recognise your number. Maybe because I changed my phone recently…’

‘Or maybe because you deleted it.’

‘No,’ I say, laughing. ‘I didn’t. Weird.’

‘So what you doing? Are you travelling?’

‘No I’m just on my way to my boyfriend’s.’

‘Oh, you’re still with him?’

‘Yes.’

‘Oh man. How long has it been now? Three years?’

‘No, just a year.’

‘Well do you know why I’m calling?’

‘I have an idea.’

‘Do you know what time of year it is?’

‘Thanksgiving?’

‘Yeah, are you gonna come? I’m hiring out a place this year, Sas. Going to be about 60 people.’

‘Wow, that’s great. Well I’ll definitely try to come.’

‘Yeah, just let me know you know in a week or so as I’m working on my numbers. He can come too like he did last year if you like. Your guy. Just let me know.’

‘Thanks. Well it sounds like a lot of fun.’

‘How are you all? How’s Wonder Boy getting on at uni?’

‘Well, I haven’t heard from him much. He hasn’t come home once so I guess he’s having a great time.’

‘Is he coming back for Thanksgiving though?’

‘Yeah, he’ll be home for that.’

‘That’s good.’

‘Yeah, and work is so busy. Work’s really great.’

‘That’s great news.’

‘How’s your work going?’

‘Yeah, good thanks. Still writing for magazines, newspapers and doing shifts. Got some more travel writing jobs lined up too.’

‘Good for you. What happened to that New England trip?’

‘Oh that’s been postponed to spring but should be going hopefully.’

‘Great. OK you, well, I hope you’ll be able to come.’

‘Yes, thanks so much for inviting me.’

‘No problem. Speak soon.’

‘Yep, bye.’

‘Bye, bye.’

So my third Thanksgiving party, which is set to be the biggest and perhaps even the best to date, is in T-minus three days. There’s nothing left to say except: God Bless Crazy Yank.

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A-Z lodger survival guide: D is for Demon Cat

Oh, Demon Cat. No other member of the Chiswick tribe will get their own alphabetical entry in the survival guide bar Demon Cat. But Demon Cat is the only ‘person’ (yes, I know he’s a cat) to be identified – that cat photo on my homepage really is him (although admittedly, he doesn’t look very demonic there.)  Plus, Breakfast Girl requested that I wrote about Demon Cat when she commented on an earlier blog post so here we are.

If there were three things you should know about my relationship with Demon Cat, this is it:

1) I most certainly did not agree with Slish and Wonder Boy that using the hoover behind Demon Cat was a good idea when it clearly scared the bejesus out of him. I trust that it still does.

2) The family did the annual summer pilgrimage to the States twice while I lived there, which meant I had full-reign (yes, I know) of the house while they were away. OK, well, not quite. Of course Demon Cat also stayed. I kept him alive with water and food (although he only eats solid cat grub. Crazy Yank told me the vet said: “That’s all he needs.” Demon Cat would eat outside my room and sound particularly demonic doing so. Crunch, crunch, crunch, was thankfully the sound of fish flavoured food and not the sound of human bones cracking.) Still, it was during these times when we were on our own that we bonded most. But not when each morning before work, I had to toss him out of the house all day until I came back (there are no cat flaps at the house.) He’d sleep in Wonder Boy’s top bunk bed and would not budge. I’d get some cuddly toy and nudge him. When that wouldn’t work, I’d have  to make my own demonic sounds and clap to move him. These actions, combined with said nudging with a one foot tall dinosaur, usually did the trick.

3) Demon Cat was the last one to say goodbye to me when I left the house. The others were in the States and I moved out the day before Crazy Yank arrived back. I remember sitting with him on the doormat and talking to him. Telling him I was going and that I’ll miss him. He was in one of his rare moods where he seemed to enjoy human contact. He began to purr. And then I shed a tear or two as I opened the door and he darted out into the August sunshine.

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A-Z lodger survival guide: C is for Confidence

I (think I) know what you’re all thinking. You can’t have C without Crazy Yank. Right? Wrong. Such is Crazy Yank’s all encompassing character that he can’t be restrained to a single alphabetical entry. His omnipotence and omniscience means that he’s always here. On this blog. Not that he’s God or a ghost that’s haunting me (I hope not, anyway.) But he could be Big Brother. (I jest or once again, I hope I’m joking.)

No, instead, I’m going to talk about confidence. In terms of having confidence and being told things in confidence. To be honest, it’s more about the latter. And because of that, I could simply say no more because that would prove my lesson here that what a lodger is told must be always kept in confidence as, and when, it requires such discretion. As much as I found myself being consulted as rarely, or in fact as equally, as Demon Cat (sorry, Demon Cat but it’s true) about a lot of household choices, something I still feel most honoured, and also a little amused, about is that on more than one occasion, I was in the fortunate position of being a confidant for Crazy Yank, Wonder Boy and Slish. Sometimes this would happen simultaneously either about the same subject or something completely unrelated. What I found truly fascinating about this is that this often meant that, in terms of knowledge and what makes each individual tick, I was able to understand each person and the particular situations from a number of different angles and with a far greater understanding than any of the others did. I felt lucky being in such a position if not a little overloaded from time to time.

And having confidence? Well, when you’re lodging, confidence is of course important for integrating and building a rapport with the rest of the family to the best of your ability. It’s having the confidence to realise that you still have a life and that you’re not living with your friends because of bad timing, different budgets and contrasting preferences in terms of location. And finally, it’s quite frankly having the confidence to resist rising to the tiresome bait and/or forcing out a laugh when your twenty-something friends insinuate that you have a boyfriend nearly the same age as your father and have adopted two children (and not forgetting a demonic cat) for the umpteenth time.

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A-Z lodger survival guide: B is for Bonding

As a lodger, you must resist trying to speed up the bonding process (although in hindsight, biscuits could’ve really helped with this family as you will find out in a later survival guide post.) Anyway, bonding will happen at its own, natural pace.

Crazy Yank initiated bonding pronto. The man speaks, bleeds and urinates bonding with whoever he meets. The way in which he reached out to bond with me varied from his ‘Please act like this is your home,’ to his ‘I told you it would be fun living here,’ which he said repeatedly for the first six months whether I showed any signs of enjoyment or not. But with Wonder Boy and Slish, things weren’t so straightforward. And I’m not really talking about the usual monosyllabic, moronic teenage syndrome when I tried to talk to them. Often,
in the beginning, they look terrified when I was around. (Again, maybe it was the short hair?) I got used to saying goodbye and not really hearing one back. Conversation was as exhausting as walking in sand with dumbbells tied
to my feet.

And then? There was some sort of turning point. It was initially very subtle; they looked less scared of me and would initiate conversation with me a bit. Started saying goodbye. That sort of thing. I guess they got used to seeing Sandy Shaw – I mean, me – hanging around their pad.* Soon it was Wonder Boy’s sixteenth birthday. His main present was a XBox 360. This eased the bonding process. Wonder Boy and Slish actually wanted me to play on the XBox with them.

But what really sticks out in my head is at about the same time as that, the four of us went out for dinner for the first time together. This one balmy summer’s evening, we went to Nandos on the Chiswick High Road. And then we went for ice-cream at Foubert’s. And then we came home and, because no-one wanted to go to bed quite yet, we played Scrabble, mocking each other’s attempt to outdo each other, until about 1am. That, for me, was the real turning point in our relationship as a more comfortable, natural household. And I think we all
knew it.

*(Months later, Slish said she thought I seemed sad in the beginning. Well, I was finding it hard to deal with a break-up, London and the new job at the time… and of course was also saying goodbye to people who weren’t saying goodbye back.)

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