Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful

The title comes from the song by Kellie Pickler

On holiday recently in the Algarve, Portugal, it was warm in the sun. My wife and I ‘sans enfants’ sat by the pool of our hotel. There was a cool breeze and it was very pleasant to sit there for a while, drinking ‘Vodka Sunset’/coke. The breeze became a little chilly and so we moved and went a little way away from the main pool and found a sheltered little spot by the kiddies paddling pool. Being term time there were almost no children around the complex so we sat for some time just the two of us watching the ripples across the empty pool.

A mum and her little girl aged about 4 arrived at the main pool. The girl went paddling. We noticed her because she was naked. I think it would be difficult not to. To our British sensitivities, priggishness, and it being pretty much the anniversary of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance we commented on it between us.

The mum finding the main pool to be too cold brought the girl to the paddling pool, right in front of us.

So we faced a dilemma. Should we move away. It was embarrassing to have this little girl with no clothes on in front of us. But we were there first, we were out of the wind, in the sun. The mum brought the child whilst we were sat there and she didn’t seem at all bothered. The little girl was not bothered in the slightest. At this point I might have put a picture in here to break up the text and make the page seem a little more interesting, if I was talking about something else. But to have taken a picture of Bella would have been illegal and totally wrong, wrong in every respect because it would have been impossible to truly capture the magical moment without contaminating it, so this marvelous picture will have to do instead.

Beauty lasts for ever………Beauty lasts for ever

I still feel uneasy as to whether it was right for me to sit there whilst Bella played.

Maybe we should have moved on, or said something, maybe the mum should not have put us in that position, I do not know. No harm was done. We stayed. Had I been by my self I would have moved, maybe the mum would not have brought her. I was uncomfortable because I am a man, no, more than that, I think I am a gentleman. The rules and acceptabilities of England are questioned when in foreign parts, such is the joy of going abroad on holiday.

She was a delight. She was beautiful, perfect, she was herself and free, unencumbered by expectations, or shame, or shyness, or what people might think. She stood in the pool like a nymph. She lifted the water up in her cupped hands and threw it into the air where it fell upon her like golden rain in the sunshine. She stood lifting up her arms to the sun and sky standing there in a perfect pose just delighting in the warmth of the sun. Never has a child been so aptly named.

Occasionally she would dive under her mum’s T-shirt and get dry and warm by the side of the pool, cuddling and taking comfort and warmth. She would then re-emerge like a newborn and go back into her pool, smiling and laughing out loud as she re-experienced the chill of the water. It was not a sexual experience for me in any way, it was natural, delightful, free, and a mind picture that no camera or film could ever capture. A memory I hope to treasure for some time.

Eventually Bella and her mum went. We returned to our room and balcony and read a while in the early evening sun.

In the next room and balcony was a couple. They were loud. They were clearly aged in their sixties. They were from Glasgow, or near by. They had been drinking. A lot. They argued, laughed with that heavy smokers crusty wheezy cough. There was some guttural language exchanged between them, which seemed unintelligible to me apart from a few words with four letters. At this point you wonder, will they kill each other? Doors were slammed.

The next thing seemed to be the sound of some moaning and groaning, and swearing. Now, should you look around the balcony wall or over the wall, just to check whether the person was alright? We didn’t. The moaning became louder and more four letter words were said and it became apparent to us that there was some kind of activity, perhaps normally reserved for the bedroom, happening on the next balcony. Do you say, “can you keep the noise down, we are trying to read”. or cough politely so they know we are there, ignore it, think about it? laugh at it, pour a bucket of water over them?

It felt to me as though we were intruding, It was certainly uncomfortable for us. Not least because they were so clearly enjoying themselves with reckless abandon. But they were being natural, free, unencumbered by expectations, or shame, or shyness, or what people might think.

We went out on our balcony first, surely they must have known we were there? We were doing nothing wrong. If they wanted to do that whist we were there why should we be embarrassed. But we were.

We went in off the balcony and headed for the bar, leaving them to it.

It was something I do not want a photo of. It is a mind image I would love to erase, but thanks to Bella I have a much nicer mind image to try to remember.

What is beautiful and what is ugly, what is treasure and what is repulsive and why? I can’t control what happens, and situations do present themselves where I have no idea as to the ‘right’ thing to do. In the light of day and with hindsight it can still be hard to think what else I might or should have done.

There are some things I have seen and heard in my life that are so hard to forget, good and bad.

Like the images in my mind of what I saw when in the police force 30 years ago that still haunt my sleep, or watching my son die after being shot in the head and turning off the life support, or the man who got run over by a lorry, or the look on my parents face when the doctor told me I had testicular cancer. They are still fresh and horrific, some still make me feel sick to my very core, these bring me down, I wish I could forget them.

The few moments of extreme joy, like the birth of my kids and the look on their faces when they are presented with some token gift or award, or seeing Bella play, lift my spirits, and I need so many more of them to heal my mind.

The next day Bella had a costume on. Innocence was lost. We talked loudly to each other on the balcony. The Scots went inside…….


Art for Arts Sake

The next question on list of 50 questions that will free your mind I want to think about is

20.How do you feel about your home furnishings?

Most of the furniture is second-hand in my house. Yes, I am a skinflint that is not prepared to see my new leather settee shredded by the wretched moggy of the house. It will just have to be satisfied with the scratching of my old one.

The Cat as she sees her-self

The cat as she sees her-self

My bed is old now but still the most comfortable I sleep in. Whether on holiday or staying with friends, hotel or B&B it doesn’t matter, don’t take offence, but home bed beats all. It was given to us by my parents. Thanks.

My lounge settee is from brother-in-laws ex-buy-to-let. the table in the kitchen from eBay. Computers and laptops I use are mostly other people’s cast offs. I am saving up for a new one though.

The mantel clock is an old wind up 1950’s tick-tock bing-bong clock that never seems to show the right time. The one in the back room is right twice a day.

To other people, (am I bothered though) it probably looks old and dated, but its comfortable. Its tried and tested and when I spill my cup of tea it is no big disaster. I can clean it up and not worry if it did leave a bit of a mark (I ain’t bothered).

We have bought some pictures for the walls, but many of them are pre-owned. We like Judy Boyes

We have also a small flock of sheep in the garden to make us feel we look out onto fields, rather than suburbia.

Art and furnishings and carpets and knickknacks and the style of your own home space is totally subjective. There is no right or wrong (but it does need to be clean and maintained).

I like it, I don’t want to change, its comfortable and the way I think it should be, which is homely.

A good example I have come across and wholly relate to is the book “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: Gammell vs. Helquist” some one thought it would be a good idea to change the art work, Why? they didn’t change the words. David Suchet is Hercule Poirot. Hugh Laurie is Greg House, and Arthur Lowe is Capt. George Mainwaring. Some things just should not change – ever.

I’m not sure I could cope with it if someone were to re-model and re-style my house. There used to be that program on TV. I think it was called ‘Changing Rooms’ they never seemed to make it better.

But if there is a kind benefactor out there that wants to have a go, I would appreciate a bit of advance warning, so that I could get used to the idea. We need a new suite, bed, decoration, computers, curtains, dining table, new cars and a holiday to go on whilst the work is being done. The kitchen is fine though.

Failing that I guess we will make do, and there are no complaints from me (I ain’t bothered).

Q. How many Anglicans does it take to change a lightbulb

A. Change?!!!


I don’t know anything as an expert. I never have and never will. I know a lot about DIY and religion and my childhood and quite a lot about programming which keeps the money coming in. But I am not an expert. Not someone you could go to on a particular subject and feel as though you should have to accept what I say. But have a think on this.

I bought some paracetamol the other day in a supermarket. There were 16 in a box. I also bought some Ibuprofen 16 in a box. If that is just for me that is fine it would last about 3 days when I have a bad head and sore joints and a head cold.

I was doing shopping for the family though and they had head colds. So I couldn’t buy any for them. But I could from the next till. And I could by going to the pharmacy on the way out near the exit. So I did. And so did my kid in tow.

So I amassed the grand total of 192 tablets of Paracetamol, Migraine relief, ibuprofen. and cold relief for stuffy nose, period pain relief, all in boxes of 16.

I had to jump through hoops and concentrate to make it all work and not to lose my rag and get cross with these people who were after all only following the stupid legislation.

Now, I am depressed, and I suppose I could be planning a suicide so maybe that kind of quantity would be enough to do me harm, but I am sure there would be easier ways, not that I have any intentions at all.

At Christmas I bought bottles of Vodka and wine and Gin and Malibu and sherry and cans of beer and boxes of Wine , and then a little more wine, and I hardly drink.

Nobody tried to stop me from doing that, I was told to get the bigger bottle of Gin because they were cheaper as they were on an offer, nobody said that’s too much I can only sell you two bottles of booze at a time. My kid could not have bought any, being under 18.

So if she is under 18 and can’t buy alcohol, but could buy 2 boxes of painkiller, three times in the same shop, there is something wrong there.

If as an adult I can buy booze for the family party, and can’t buy pain killers when we are all stuffed up and ill, (there are 6 of us so we get through loads of everything) then there is something wrong there too.

I think I am right in saying that in the USA the boxes only have 12, perhaps thats why there are so many alcoholics portrayed on US TV, because its easier to get hold of.

My thought on the matter is, if its off prescription then I should be trusted to buy it. If it can be off prescription then it should be, I’m an adult and can work it out. If it needs moderating then write that on the box so as an adult I can read it. A 12 year old can work out how to get around the system.

I hate being molly-coddled, treated like someone who doesn’t know, like I say I’m no expert, but I am an adult and I can read and I know how to not do my-self harm. I think alwost every one knows not to take too much stuff that can be dangerous. Even with class ‘A’ drugs, people who are idiots or out of their mind and have no real respect for their own lives, manage most of the time to manage their dose.

The usual thing people do on blogs seems to be to rant and rave either about their pet love or their pet hate. Mostly this comes across to me in a negaitve way.

I want mine to be positive, I am trying, which goes against my nature, I know.

So here we are, I positively think I should be able to buy what I need, and what I want. I take my meds seriously. I am no expert but I know how to cure my own headache, in just the same way as I know what caused it. (see basket of booze).