This Sort of Thing...


This Sort of Thing - November 2023 - First Half




I wouldn’t want the ABC Editors to know about this, so please keep it under your hat, but the fact is I’ve been moonlighting on another creative writers’ website.

It’s a place for people who like to write things and the idea is that you write exactly one hundred words every single day. Writing ninety-nine words or one hundred and one words is strictly forbidden.

If you manage to write something for every day of the month the website editors tell you that you are very clever and that you’ve won your own bodyweight in Sugar Puffs.

I wrote this…


1 November, Wednesday

Today is a public holiday in Bulgaria.

Am I allowed to write here in our official language and alphabet? I hope so because I want to say ‘Честит ден на народните будители’. If not, it's ethnic discrimination. I promise, it’s not rude. I always write my rude words in English.

It’s the Day of National Leaders, when we honour all teachers and educators.

But really? All of them? Even the one that hit me on the hand with a stick when I was nine because she hadn’t seen me at Holy Mass that Sunday? I need to learn the Bulgarian words for ‘but not her’.


2 November, Thursday

I crossed twenty-eight degrees of longitude to be with Mullans and Butters (the family) in Stockport. It was lovely to see them but heart breaking to say goodbye to Priyatelkata (the partner) in Sofia.

The EasyJet captain's words 'we are descending into Manchester' made the destination airport sound more like a dark psychological condition than my chosen holiday hotspot.

Hotspot or hotpot... which word would have been the most suitable?

Descending the plane steps to the tarmac I found the air in my nostrils anything but hot as brain and nasal hairs froze simultaneously.

Already I'm missing my beautiful Bulgaria.


3 November, Friday

There was a lot of potty training going on today. The granddaughter was the star of the contest with a very high score of eight out of ten. Although even more successful, I was disqualified for using a bathroom receptacle rather than the potty.

Over the course of the day all my Greater Manchester-based children appeared, reminding me that I had three in addition, of course, to all the much older Indonesian ones who are a closely guarded secret.

A lovely day blighted only by the total lack of outdoor activity. Stockport's icy rain and premature fireworks don't suit me.


4 November, Saturday

The second full day in England. I've behaved myself impeccably. I haven't complained about the thin coffee or the soggy chips and I didn't eat any more than my share of the curry or cake at the birthday celebration of thirdborn's partner and dog.

Yet still they punish me by making me watch Strictly Come Dancing. A worse penance than that dished out by Father Lucifer at the terrifying Saturday evening confessions of my Roman Catholic childhood. Sequins did nothing for him.

However, Waffle the Wonder Dog makes even more painful viewing.

Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting, but I didn't.


5 November, Sunday

As grey skies turn to black, dystopian wet leaves underfoot slow me.

There's shouting in the streets, rabid sons threaten with fireworks and buses fly through red traffic lights.

This England scares me stiff. Mother Bulgaria take me home!

I left as an emigrant, returned as a visitor, feeling even more unwelcome. Cowering. Too many reminders. Why am I here? Why does my lovely family stay in this awful place?

A fish out of water yearning to be placed gently back into the Yantra. To swim in clear, calm waters. To breathe.

Tomorrow I must step outside again. Please, no!


6 November, Monday

Today is my birthday. I am sixty-six. Or two flat chested fat ladies, as a politically incorrect bingo caller might say.

So I need to start being nice to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Stolen Ireland because from today they start giving me back my forty years’ worth of National Insurance contributions.

I spent a tremendously lovely day with secondborn, his dear woman and the grandson of the century. Apparently I'm the first person ever to deliberately go to Moston on their birthday.

Last year I was in the magnificent Rodopi Mountains with Priyatelkata. I miss her desperately.


7 November, Tuesday

Winning at Trivial Pursuit seems to become more difficult as I age. I still won today but the game lasted more than four hours. This may be because so many of the questions are out of date. Napoleon Bonaparte is dead. Who knew that?

Stockport Christmas Market is even deader than Napoleon.

Fun with secondborn, thirdborn and their mother included book buying in charity shops, fish and chips, and watching an old television documentary about a scandal that had Jimmy Savile in it even though on this occasion he wasn't the scandal.

I wore my Nijntje birthday badge with pride.


8 November, Wednesday

Dinner at Topkapi Palace in Hazel Grove was Turkish Delightful. All my loved ones were there except offspring partners who were required to be out earning crusts but they were discussed at length and greatly missed.

That dreadful word 'Ottoman' appeared on the menu, reminding me of my need to return to Balkan parts; as if I needed reminding! My time in Greater Manchester has been fun and lovely but also chaotic and stressful at times.

I cannot stay forever in this place. I need my open spaces, my cats and dogs, my peace and quiet, and my beloved Priyatelka.


9 November, Thursday

The magic of hearing Bulgarian voices at the boarding gate compensated for the irritation of passing through Manchester Airport security.

For expedience sake I wore only verruca socks but still the surly officials were not satisfied.

They suggested that to enable them to see any suspect devices on my person, for future journeys the socks should be transparent and circumcision is recommended. And why not? It's no skin off my nose.

Traversing the Stara Planina mountains in my friend Jordan's faster-than-rakia taxi, life and health returned to my brain, belly and lungs.

There's no Chiflik like Malki Chiflik.

And breathe...


10 November, Friday

My first day after repatriation was blighted by technological bureaucracy. Nice small internet provider people Telnet have been bought by internet monsters Vivacom and I needed to visit them to be branded.

The monster people turned out to be extremely nice but nevertheless, they work for monsters.

There's no longer room in the world for nice things. Soon one organisation will control everything. An Oklahoma bank owned by arms manufacturers already has an eye on my verruca socks.

I'm a dead man if they discover I don't have verrucae.

Hopefully the powerful men will get verrucae on their dangly bits.


11 November, Saturday

I've started reading War and Peace again. I first attempted this in 1993 but abandoned it because I couldn't find my glasses... or the patience. Had I persevered I think I might have almost finished by now.

The Internet has abandoned me but the sunshine continues, albeit not so hot. The perfect excuse for an afternoon sitting in the garden with a full djezve and Lev Tolstoy (western type people might know him as Leo).

I wish I had some biscuits. What biscuits do you think Tolstoy would have enjoyed? I think Garibaldi might go well with War and Peace.


12 November, Sunday

As I crossed the car park outside our Kaufland supermarket, a flatbed truck went by on the back of which stood a life-size fibreglass velociraptor. Surrealism further enhanced by the fact that a dog was chasing behind, barking at it. My day was already made but, had the velociraptor turned its head and snarled, I would have been in supermarket car park heaven.

At home, Osem the cat caught and partly ate a squirrel. A completely natural product and cheaper than the cat food we buy in Kaufland. But there was no warning on it suggesting it may contain nuts.


13 November, Monday

It’s warmer today. The return of Priyatelkata being the main reason for this. She too is delighted by the restoration of normality, describing Paris, where she has been for twelve days, as ‘a jungle’. A forest borders our Bulgarian home but we have no monkey business here.

It also seems like the summer weather is back. Maybe I’m mistaken and just feeling warmer because my old infection has flared up again.

Neither of us plan to wander away until spring, which we will do together. We’re finally convinced that the loveliest place on Earth is our garden… near the rhubarb.


14 November, Tuesday

Dining late afternoon in the garden of the restaurant near Kolyu Ficheto Park, beautiful autumn sunshine illuminated flame red leaves on trees.

By our table four very young cats came dangerously close to being the subjects of our latest rescue mission. After much discussion and our first Shopska salad for two weeks, we agreed that although their adult lives might become difficult, they looked happy and healthy enough playing together with their weary-looking mother and that we will no doubt encounter needier cases when the snow arrives.

We calculated that eighteen months had passed since our last feline acquisition.



15 November, Wednesday

Vivacom men visited to install a new router so now our internet is so fast that goals appear on the Leeds United website before Leeds United have even scored them.

To celebrate we went for breakfast at our favourite OMV petrol station. We had delicious banitsa with spinach and sirené (Bulgarian feta) and fabulous fresh coffee from El Salvador. The café there is modern and bright, the staff are chatty and smiley and the music is never heavy metal or rap.  

On the down side, we think our Shih Tzu’s anal gland is blocked again. I’ll spare you the details.


In my little town - the cathedral.

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