Performance – “Happy hair”…


Good morning folks

I trust you had a superbly splendid weekend.
Here is your weekly wrap-up of day-to-day happenings in the chaos that is Lima.
A busy old week, 5000hrs on the combis, legs/body falling to pieces, a roaring victory for the Shipbuilders and the added bonus of a a bit of acting (!)

There was also a delicious curry with the gang, but no ale, I am on the wagon still, until the 26th!


Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I give you the Monday morning blog :-)



A top-secret mission!

I did a few rounds of what is called “storytelling” last year and this year, naively thinking it would be a case of sitting on a stool, reading a book!

How wrong was I…

I had a lot to learn, but with the professional (and very patient) coaching of a chap called Miguel and the musical accompaniment of Jorge, we pulled it off!


Then I was called into Head Office about a month ago for a meeting and asked if I wanted to take part in something a bit bigger, (this wasn’t really a question, for if I had said “no”, I wouldn’t be going very far at work!)

Every year (for the last 15 years) there has been a story writing competition for three different age groups of kids/teenagers called “Cuento Breve” (short story), this attracts a lot of attention and entries.

After all the stories have been judged, 10 of the finalists are invited to a prizegiving ceremony, but none of them know if they have won. On the night, the top three in each category win some cool prizes (scooters, bikes, drones, tablets and more), then the lucky winner gets their story in print (in a book published every 5 years) and then they get to see their story acted out (by professional actors).

This year was a bit different in that myself and two other Britanico colleagues, Yvonne and Lizette, were narrating the story (in English, whilst the story was in Spanish).

So, whilst the professional actors do their stuff, I slowly but surely translate their story as badly than they can imagine and probably put them off ever writing again, only joking ;-)


The date is kept hush-hush, as one year word got out and 600 people turned up (for an auditorium with a capacity of 150!) 

So after two rehearsals last week (on my own), I got to meet the actors on Tuesday.
My big problem is my shockingly bad memory, my other big problem is my Spanish.
This time I not only had to remember my lines, but also the lines (in Español) of the actor speaking before me!


Cutting a long story short, at 8pm on Wednesday I opened with the first story, about “Logan” an abandoned dog, a sad tale/tail, with a happy ending!


At the very end I had to break one of my rules…


I don’t sing (apart from karaoke, which isn’t really singing in my case), but as we left the stage we had to do a chorus-line type of farewell. I was the only person “miked-up”, therein lay the problem. The Spanish word for dog is “Perro” with the emphasis firmly on the rolled RRRRRRR.
This is a sound in Spanish that I just cannot do, I even have dreams sometimes that I can pronounce it, but alas, no! This is a BIG problem in day-to-day life as this sound seems to be in most words (including “paradero”, bus stop, which is kind of essential in my vocabulary when I take about 6 buses-a-day). In a nutshell if you can’t roll your RRRRRRRs, the sound that comes out of your mouth is more like an LLLLLLLL…

So, the song went something like this:

“Perro, perro, perro, soy un perro Feliz…”

It wasn’t until we all linked arms and started singing that I realised all the above and had the shockingly real thought that I was actually singing “Pelo, pelo, pelo, soy un pelo Feliz…”


(“Perro” = a dog. “Pelo” = a hair).


I think I might just have got away with it ;-)

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Last week we had just got back from a place up in yonder montañas called Churin for when the weekly blog went to press.


It was a top weekend away and a totally different experience to what I had expected (and I went without expectations). I’d had to dash across town from a morning rehearsal to meet up with the ladies at the bus station. Now bus stations in most places are in less-than-salubrious spots, but in the centre of Lima, they really are in places you wouldn’t normally go to (unless you have a penchant  for dangerous places that smell of urine!)

I got sat next to a chap called Luis, who started talking to me about beekeeping.
Two words that I get mixed up with are:
- “Abeja” (bee)
- “Oveja” (sheep)

So, after asking him how much honey his sheep produced, he gave up and fell asleep.

One doesn’t really realise just how big Lima is until you start heading north out of the city.
Years back I (accidentally) got a job in a place called “Comas”, which always felt like a massively l-o-n-g way to go for a 2hr lesson, but this place is still a long way off districts like Puenta Piedra, Santa Rosa and Ancon which is where the shantytowns finally relent their hold on the desert and the rolling dusty hills fall (vertically in parts) to the expanse of the Atlantic, which rocks and rolls, rises and falls all the way to Oz and New Zealand, on your left (when heading north) and the barren foothills of the Andes on your right.


There are still distant shantytowns visible up in the hills at this point, these places really are in the middle of nowhere and life there can only be very, very hard indeed. You do spare a thought for the people who live in such places…

ancon2 ancon

4 hours into the journey the road was blocked by a Police 4×4 truck and a group of “chalecos” (waistcoat wearers, employees of the “Municipalidad”).


What was afoot? An accident? Roadworks?

No, a rollerskating competition for which the entire road was closed until the end of the race.
How long would that be? Nobody knew? Everybody crossed their fingers (and legs, no khazi on the budget bus). It was dark by the time we got through the roadblock and very dark as we got to Churin. A mototaxi took us to our digs and after a bath-sized bowl of “hen soup”, it was bedtime.


I was up at 5am for a run in the dawn rain. The sweaty aridness of Lima has made me soft and I shivered uphill for an hour, then shivered back down the same way. Some very slow altitude training (about 7000ft above bathwater) on some of the best roads I have seen in Peru!

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After a mouse’s brekkie, we headed to the first hot springs of the day, for which this place is famous. “La Meseta” was followed by “Mamahuari” was followed by “trucha” (trout, Churin’s second claim-to-fame) which was closely followed by bed!

e c b Cow tail-pulling is a local problem!a

Sunday saw a dawn start as we had a 7am bus to catch to hot springs further afield.
A bumpy ride in a Chinese bus took us up to the lofty height of almost 12000ft to Picoy.
(After travelling 5hrs from the city and another 2hrs on a dirt track, we were still in Lima, it is a BIG spot!)

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This was one of the best things I have done in Peru!

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I love hot baths, so hot that you feel like you are going to pass out and possibly render a bloke infertile! 38ºC hot, no other people and just 5 soles (£1.25).

Some baths were less hot, others had all manner of minerals, herbs and spices, all were said to cure some kind of ailment, maladie or terrible illness. It was good to be away from the city.

Looking out at snow-dusted mountains in the distance and sweating cobs was pure bliss :-)

We stopped at some other baths and then stopped for some tucker.
I asked the waitress what had happened to the (stuffed) dog in the entrance and she told me it was actually a deer! (An easy mistake to make, just before a young lad sat on the poor flea-bitten specimen, sending it spread-eagled…)


After more “trucha” we made our bumpy way back to Churin, grabbed our bags and then chugged along a road with a vertical drop to a river way below, whilst a badly-dubbed ultraviolent martial arts film blared out, (no choice of films nor opting out here) until we hit the Panamericana and 5hrs later, hit the brick wall of Lima’s northern cone traffic jam, a permanent feature, even/especially at 9pm on a Sunday night.

The verdict: Well worth a trip. Especially if you like very hot baths, trout (and ultraviolent martial arts films on buses. 2 out of 3 wasn’t bad!)


One week to go…

Originally I had the harebrained idea of getting as fit as possible for the 2018 Lima marathon back in July 2017. A showstopping injury in September 2017 put paid to that idea.

Then, another bang-on-the-head moment more recently made me enter the Lima-Movistar-Adidas-42km-maratón which suddenly is now just under a week away!

To be honest, I don’t really like roadrunning and I really don’t like training on the road here.
Given a choice I would much rather be up in the hills, even if they are just the dusty “cerros” of La Molina, but at the age of 45 my legs are not getting any quicker and the hills were just blunting what speed I had left, so that is why this has all happened.

Religiously following a training schedule, which is more-or-less “one day hard/one day easy, 6 days a week” I seem to have got a bit of pace back, but it has been bloody hard work, probably the hardest I have trained in 15 years, since the days of being beasted on a daily basis by Steve B at the British Library.


Everything hurts! My ankles, my knees, hips, back, every muscle, ligament and tendon from my toes to my belly button hurts! I am a wreck, but with the magic powers and incredible patience of my Physio, Super Maro, I have almost made it…

(With the added bonus of picking up a stinking cold today, but asi-es-la-vida).

Shortness of time hasn’t really offered me the luxury of a long taper (ease off in training), but after Tuesday I shall be easing off the gas and keeping my fingers and toes crossed.
Indeed as I cobble this nonsense together next week, the maratón will be over, one way or another.

manc“Remind me why I am doing this???!!!”

I have done 3 road marathons. Each one I said was my last.
2001: Manchester (2:51)
2015: Lima (3:05)
2016: Lima (3:10)

It is basically 3hrs of trying to kid yourself that you are enjoying it, when all you want to do is stop, when all you need to do is keep putting the hammer down and grimacing until the line.
It is a fine line between doing the job in hand and/or blowing up/going mad. Nothing very pleasurable about it at all, just a long time trial with me somewhere between the Kenyans 5 miles ahead at the front and the broom-wagon just behind at the back!

What time will the clock say as I collapse under it next week, watch this space ;-)

Neither Salsa nor Reggaeton!

On my nightly commute, I catch 2-3 combis to hopefully get me home in one piece before 11pm. Generally the music played (of which there is no choice) is bass-thudding salsa or diabolically bad reggaeton, or very, very occasionally, silence, (probably because the speakers have previously exploded).

Such was the music-free CR54 (Surco-Callao) combi on Wednesday night.

I was shot-to-pieces tired, so I got a seat (bonus), put on my fancy new blue headphones and cranked up a bit of Demented-are-Go! (I’ve been in a mainly psychobilly/rockabilly/punk mood all week. It drowns everything else out perfectly).


I turned up the volume, but didn’t seem to hear anything, turned it up more, nothing, disconcerted silence. Had my deafness finally gone full-blown?

The 24 other punters on the combi all seemed to be scowled at me disapprovingly. That was the moment I realised I hadn’t plugged my earphones in. D’oh…

Raiders round-up.

What a result!

A roaring 58:32 victory against Dewsbury Rams.
A bit of a defensive lapse in the second half on a hot day in sunny Barrow, but a result that everybody is happy with (unless you are a Dewsbury fan!)

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Away to Swinton Lions next week, onwards and upwards :-)

And finally…

Every Friday I ask my students what plans they have for the weekend, this is not me being nosy, it is to (hopefully) evoke a response in some kind of future tense. On a Monday I ask them again what they did (with the optimistic intention of a response in a past tense).

The general responses (sometimes in English, but mainly in Español) are:

- Nada (nothing, or maybe they mean swimming, but normally nothing).
– Sleeping (a popular “hobby” here, I gave in on this years ago with my racket-making neighbours. 10:30pm on a Sunday night and there is a 3-way noisefest between the DIY upstairs, party next door and the Chinese Restaurant band below, joy!)
– En mi casa (in my house, not mine, their house, although students do sometimes get this mixed up, which is a worry).
– Netflix!

Most of the time it is “nada”, which worries and upsets me.
My students are generally young, 16-25 year olds, and seem to only study/work/sleep and not a lot else. Most hobbies seem to be dropped in early teens for lack of time. I sometimes say that when I was their age I was out causing as much chaos as possible, which in my mid-twenties was all I did and I would do it all again the same way if someone gave me a time machine!

Somebody said that people here “live to work” and not the other way round.
I love my job, I really do, but at the end of the day, it pays the bills (just about).


I do find more and more that I am turning into Victor Meldrew every day.
Johnny Cynic, as the song goes. It is mainly despair!


Anyway, this incoherent rambling leads on to this video, kindly sent to me by my mate James B.

If you grew up in the same era as me, you can relate to THIS :-)

That’s all for now folks.

Have an awesome week!

Johnny, Lina & the Nipper

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