At about 1.00 am tonight, we head off for Stanstead airport and Germany, so I will go uncharacteristically quiet for a few days. Have a nice break. We would have flown from Bristol, but that would have been about £2000, thanks to OLT airlines taking up where EasyJet left off.
The reason for our sudden departure is a bit of remedial work on H.I.'s implants (that's teeth, not breasts, before you start, Chris - this is your final warning) to be carried out by our dear friend who also happens to be a dentist. A few years ago, he organised absolutely top-class work for her, at a fraction of the cost it would have been in the UK, using the best system available and one of the best surgeons in Germany. Now there is going to be a little repair and some general maintenance, followed by a little holiday in the interesting harbour of Bremerhaven - which has many top-class fish restaurants as well.
I first met Thomas when he came with a mutual friend to stay with me in Bath, over 25 years ago. My other German friend is gay, and I foolishly assumed that the hetro Thomas was his latest beau, and relinquished my bed for them for the first night. I compounded the misery by snoring so loudly in the small flat, that neither of them had a wink's sleep. They quietly put me right the next morning and the situation was resolved - though I carried on snoring for the next week. They got used to it.
Thomas was in training when I first met him, and the training was supposed to last for about 7 years, starting with the dissection of a corpse, and Thomas got to know this pickled person quite well over a period of about a year. He was amazed at how pink her lungs were, since she was a smoker who had lived in the middle of a large industrial city. I wonder what colour my lungs are? Let's hope I never find out.
The fact that Thomas kept failing one little part of his exams did not turn out to mean that he was an inferior dentist when he eventually passed it, but it did mean that his training took about 3 years longer than it should have done. I wondered how he could afford to continue with it, but he explained that this was enabled by "an extreme-rich aunt". He is now at the top of his profession, with a huge client list.
He is also such a lovely man - especially considering his difficult upbringing. Without going into too many details, he took random beatings from a drunk father in the middle of the night in order to save his sister from the same ordeal. Enough said, except that he remained a loving son to his dad until his death, a few years ago.
If ever you have found yourself believing the old accusation that Germans have no sense of humour, you would change your mind instantly if you were to talk to Thomas for a few minutes. Anyway, I believe that this rumour started because of the structure of German grammar - with English jokes, the punch-line is most effective when placed as the last word in a series of sentences, but in German, this word usually has to be placed at the very beginning, which somewhat takes the surprise-factor away.
Being from Bremerhaven, Thomas identified the ice-breaker in the above photo, as we watched it drift around the bay of St Ives, late last summer.
See you when we get back! XXX