October 28, 2020

Reality check + V-log episode 6…

How do folks

I trust this finds you in tiptop form and finest fettle.
Here is the latest bobbins update from La Ciudad Blanca.
Bought our flights, handed my notice in, no going back (unless the borders are not opened, then we are proper scuppered!)
69 days until lift-off, hopefully, fingers and toes crossed.

Sorry the blog is a bit ranty this week, but there are just some ar$eholes who wind me up round here!

Rations of 1.9 Yorkshire Tea Bags per day left, with some of these as emergency back-up!

Lockdown latest.

Peru has risen into the top 5 list of countries with most cases of Covid-19, trailing behind the USA, Brazil, India and Russia.
Quite remarkable don’t you think for a country which has been in lockdown for over 3 months!

The Nipper’s representation of “El Coronavirus Bicho”

113 days cooped up in our flat and down here in AQP we are still locked down! Whilst restrictions are being lifted in Lima and elsewhere, Áncash, Huánuco, Ica, Junín, Madre de Dios, San Martín and La Ciudad Blanca are all still in quarantine.
The official line is that cases are still rising in these districts, if you believe the figures that is.
All manner of conspiracy figures are flying around, but at least until the end of July we are locked up/locked down.
There is a rumour doing the rounds that we will also need to wear a visor, as well as a mask.
Got mine cheap, before they sell out at a hyperinflated price.
Not exactly high-fashion, but useful if I ever get a job at an abbatoir, or the like.
Are they actually effective? Will it stop me getting the virus? Would it stop a person spreading the virus?
I really have no idea!

Weekly shop = Mr. Tickle arms :-/

The extended lockdown hasn’t made much of a difference for us 3 personally, I work from home, we only go to the supermercado once a week, but it does stop the Nipper going outdoors and in the bigger picture it restricts interprovincial transport. The rumour is that domestic flights and bus travel will start mid-month, but not here in AQP.

Opportunist paddling pool salesmen outside the supermercado, I resisted buying…

I am not panicking yet, but our Blighty flights are booked for mid September and if we cannot get up to the capital, we might be scuppered! (I have already handed in my notice at work and our lease runs out in September too, so staying on is not really an option).

Been reflecting a lot on the decision we have taken. Still having mixed emotions and still have zero idea what I will do for a job back in Blighty, but I will do anything. Sweater Shop, Texas, Next warehouse and Argos might be getting a call!

Thanks a million to all of you top folk who sent messages, sorry I haven’t got back to yous yet, last week was one of those Perfect Storm weeks at work, death by Zoom. The end of one cycle slamming straight into the back of a new cycle and a zillion Zoom appointments to create.


At the end of July we have “Fiestas Patrias” (Independence Day) holidays. This has been chopped from an extended weekend + 3 day public holiday, to a one-day July 28th feriado. The President wants the economy ball to start rolling.

Will we be ever let out of Jail in AQP, or will it be a Do-not-pass-Go-do-not-collect-£200 card?
What would Snake Plissken do?

Watch this space…

Red tape headache :-/

I have a to-do-before-we-go list of jobs and it seems to breed overnight!

The quote ” a riddlewrapped in a mysteryinside an enigma” doesn’t even come close to my Carnet de Extranjeria (CDE/residency visa) situation. This is an abridged version, I promise you.

I sometimes wonder how I ever managed to get my first CDE back in 2005, my Spanish was even more diabolical than now, I was working 5 different jobs and I had very little spare time. After months of red tape hurdles, I got to the day before I thought I would be able to collect my priceless piece of plastic. I remember the moment well. It was midday inside the “Ministerio de Interior” on a sweaty summer day. I had finally gathered all the infinite bits of paper from Interpol, Imigraciones, birth certificates and Dennis the Menace fan club subscriptions together and had the following conversation:

Stroppy Clerk: “So where do you want to collect your CDE?”
Captain Clueless: “Here please”.
Stroppy Clerk: “No, it cannot be here. Would you like to collect it in your country?”
Captain Clueless: “England?”
Stroppy Clerk: “Yes”
Captain Clueless: “You want me to go to England to collect my CDE?”
Stroppy Clerk: “Yes”.

Sensing a restless queue behind me chuntering increasingly.

Captain Clueless: “I cannot go to England tomorrow, if I can’t collect it here, where can I collect it?”
After a conversation when both parties became more and more frustrated it transpired that the easiest option was to cross the border into Chile, get an exit stamp in my UK passport, go to the Peruvian Consulate, pick up my CDE in Arica and come back, thereby activating my new CDE.
So I did.
A 760 mile bus journey down south, overnight border hop, slept a few minutes in an overpriced fleapit, knocking on Consulate door at 9am, told to wait until midday, border hop back into Peru, taxi to airport, flight back to capital, job done in 48hrs!

All went seemingly well and I used my CDE without problems.

That was until I went back to Imigraciones to reinstate my CDE in January 2015, 10 years on.
Imigraciones was its usual sweaty summer pandemonium and I had finally got to the front of the right queue to be barked at by a stroppy clerk: (A different one to above and I fully understand their stroppiness doing that job all day).
Clerk: “Señor, you are still in Chile!”
A beaten man (me): “Obviously I am not, as I am stood here”.

The records showed that I had crossed the border in 2005 but never come back. (I had indeed come back, then left Peru and come back to Peru twice, been to Mongolia and then come back to Peru).

The solution? Find the piece of paper at the Chacalluta border crossing complex with an official stamp and my name on it!
Needle in a haystack? Not even close. Millions of punters must have passed through over the preceding 10 years.
Caught in immigrations limbo, I couldn’t legally work, open a bank account or officially scratch my backside until it was sorted.

Cutting a long story short, by sheer luck the day before I signed my contract at Britanico, I collected my new CDE. The photo on which shows a tired and bemused looking scruffy git. Tired as it had taken 4mths to sort out, bemused as I wasn’t expecting to ever get the carnet!

The new CDE replaced the now defunct old CDE.

My current residency visa permission ran out in April but like anybody else who is in the same predicament, or have lost their documents, everything is frozen right now.

Not a problem until the doors of “Imigraciones” swing open again. A place that is ramjammed on a quiet day, with social distancing circles on the pavement the queues will stretch the length of the country and well into Ecuador. (I am glad I can do my paperwork here in AQP, the Lima office will be a picture redefining chaos itself).
To leave the country I will have to renew and then re-freeze my documents, not my biggest problem right now…

Due to the situation (I love that word which is used in this case to describe “unprecedented” worldwide chaos), it is currently possible to withdraw 25% of ones pension fund. Lina has done it and it was a right royal pain in the posterior. The pension company transferred the funds into the wrong account in the wrong branch and she had to constantly go to the branch (in person) to check if the bra$$ had arrived, then it eventually did and then it was transferred into an online account and then into a new non-online account, only accessible by going into the branch, at a time when banks are one of the major breeding grounds of this cursed virus!

So, after a lot of virtual digging and legwork, phone calls and chasing wild geese, I finally found my pension, which was registered (wait for it) under my old CDE number.

How on this earth I can sort it out, I have no idea, the deadline is July 16th.
Will I ever get my 25% or even one centavo of my pension fund to take back to Blighty?
Watch this space…

Superclunk.com V-log episode 6.

Apologies for shoddy camerawork. We always end up doing the video under ridiculous (self-imposed) time pressure.
Here is the latest 3 minute segment of AQP life…

My mate George!

Back in the days when we were allowed outdoors, the Bairn and I were in a nearby park one day when she said “It’s your friend George!” pointing discretely at a middle-aged bloke playing footy.

“George who?” I quizzed her.
“Wake me up before you go-go” she replied, leaving me even more confused.

How was I friends with the sadly deceased ex-Wham singer was a mystery.

Cutting a long story short, it all went back to a bloke called Alex…

Last year I bought my Bass Amp from a music shop in Miraflores with my Fiestas Patrias bonus.
Second-hand amps are a shady market and at that time there were none to be had, at prices I was willing to pay.
I had planned to get a 15amp practice amp, but the 30amp model was only a bit more cash and the 40amp model sounded ace! (The 100amp model was going even beyond my justification limits).
It was more than I would normally have spent, but the bonus money was burning a hole in my sky-rocket so I splashed the cash. I asked the bloke on the till if he knew anybody local who taught bass. That is how I met Alex, a Venezuelan lad who looked every inch a rock star. Alex was as down-to-earth as could be, had endless enthusiasm and (essential) patience, had diabolical timekeeping and disastrous sense of direction, but he was a wizard on the bass and for an hour each Sunday he taught me bass then I taught him an hour of English rambling. He showed us some footage of his band in concert and it was pretty impressive stuff. Our bass/lingo exchange worked well until he left to live somewhere up in Missississsippi.

Just before he left Peru there was a concert for a canny little invention called the Yamaha Silent Guitar, of which he was involved in the promotion and invited us along . We got VIP seats! It was more like a talent show, but all were indeed very talented. The Nipper was mega-excited that our friend Alex was on stage and when she shouted his name and he waved, she couldn’t stop smiling! Because Alex was on stage, Valentina thought he was a proper rock star.

So, now whenever I play any music on Youtube, she always asks me if they are my friend.
She wants to go and see her new favourite band “The Dead South” and tell them how much she likes their music and hopefully they will then be our friends. It is always enchanting to get a glimpse into the mind of a 6yr old.

(As a footnote, I am not some secret Wham fan, so I don’t know where she got the George Michael idea!)

Skitzo and Ponky Brooster’s lucky escape!

Next week.

Emotional rollercoaster.

Being a Leeds United fan, it is a constant ride on one…
4 games to go, can we hang on?

Andy Farrell syndrome…

Next week.

Pass me the syringe (part 1)!

Back in the mists of time, I lived in a crappy flat above an eternally 80’s salon called “Hairtech” just off Burley Road, LS6, a stone’s throw away from Yorkshire TV. It was cheap, I was skint, the car got broken into 3 times in one week.
Cheap and relatively cheerful, (maybe not so during the Burley riots of the hot summer of 1995 when the pub got burnt down), it was handily positioned for a gym called “Prince’s”, run by a real old school character by the name of Prince (surprisingly).
It wasn’t his real name, it was his wrestling tag. Prince was in his late 50’s at the time, but was still in good shape.
As stocky as he was broad, he always used to tell me that he drank a pint of milk with a pound of butter melted in it the day before a bout. Never tried it myself. I am not a gym-bod, I only used to go as it was a hop, skip and a jump away from my gaff and had the hottest sauna on Earth, always full of scallywags telling tall tales, probably all true, but all underworld gangster stuff. Prince used to pour more and more water on the coals and nobody dared complain.

I woke up one morning after such a session completely mutton geoff in one ear :-/

(To be continued…)

Rooftop trotting.

Ran into a bit of bother this week, I will try to keep calm during my rant!

I get up at 5:50am every day and go for a 1hr run normally between 7-8am.
You are never the last to bed nor the first up in AQP.
On Saturday morning I had just started running when 2 shady (masked) plumbers appeared to fix the botch job they had fixed a few weeks back, after 10mins of socially distanced banging and clattering they were gone.
This commotion had probably woken the rest of the building up including the Nipper who came up to pace me over a few final laps of the rooftop around 7:45am, first running (in her pyjamas and Crocs and still beating me) then on her scooter (truly leaving me for dust). She does get a bit giddy, but she is only 6yrs old and 6yr olds do get giddy!

We went downstairs for brekkie to be told by Lina that there had been a complaint from the 2nd floor…

Now this lockdown has obvously affected people’s schedules differently.
Our downstairs neighbours seem to get up around midday, bang around a few hours, have a rowdy lunch then disappear until around 10pm where they watch a film at full volume then cook another noisy meal around 1am and clatter about until the wee hours.

They always wake me up around 1am, I try to hit the hay by 10pm. (I then lay awake for a few hours fretting about the future before falling into a semi-comatose slumber for 5 minutes afore the alarm shocks me awake at 5:50am).

We have never complained about any/all of this rambunctiousness, although I may have chuntered under my breath a few times. The irony of the fact that the raucous little tinkers had a party last night (Monday) riles me, but we’re leaving in 2 months so don’t really want to rock the boat unless we really need to.

So, the Nipper is now banned from pre-breakfast scootering.
Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours. Just a friendly wave each morning. Helps to make a better day…

(All of the above is a huge smoke screen hiding my mediocre and ever-slowing plodding upstairs!)
It is exactly 100 there-and-backs to do 1km, so my typical morning outing has about 600 twists and turns, no wonder my knees are shot to pieces!

Double standards!

Next week…

And finally…

A sad loss to the world of music, the passing of a musical genius behind some of the very greatest soundtracks, The Mission, The Untouchables, Cinema Paradiso…

A Spaghetti Western wouldn’t be a Spaghetti Western without Ennio Morricone. Some might say that his finest work was the Fistful of Dollars trilogy and there is no doubting that nobody can pull off a poncho quite like the Man With No Name did.

However, my personal favourite is ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, just because I fell head over heels in love with Claudia Cardinale the first time I saw it!

RIP Ennio Morricone.

That’s all for now folks.
Have yersens a mighty fine week.

Johnny, Lina and the Nipper

p.s. In other news, the Bairn lost a tooth this week, just hoping the Tooth Fairy can get through lockdown/curfew restrictions without any bother!

One thought on “Reality check + V-log episode 6…

  1. Hope the tooth fairy made it!
    These things are great to read. Glad you are back doing them!!
    Can’t wait to see y’all–whenever that may be. 🙂

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