Good morning folks
I trust this finds you (both) tiptop and in finest fettle.
Here is the weekly gubbins that I call the blog.
A mixed grill of nonsense this week.
I hope there are some snippets of usefulness and possible elements of intrigue amongst my ramblings.
It’s all about the Bass (part IV).
In previous episodes, your host had managed to procure a 5-string bass guitar, as a freebie, whilst buying a steel-stringed classical guitar. Due to past (limited) experience it was decided that 5 strings would be easier to pick up than 6, so resplendent with new strings, I set about learning the beast, with the help of my ever-patient Venezuelan Bass teacher, Alex.
After a short time, both teacher and pupil agreed that the extra 5th string was causing more problems than it would create extra musical possibilities, so the immediate plan was to get shut of it.
Thence the saga continues…
Back in Blighty I had dabbled with selling tat on fleabay quite a bit, always making a loss, apart from on one item, once.
I’ve had dealings with selling things second-hand here and it is a bit different. On e-bay, due to the way it’s set up, it is as a rule quite courteous, as communication is ruled by feedback. Something that people take notice of, i,e. future buyers.
Here the second-hand market trade is done via OLX, Mercado Libre or various facebook pages.
I flogged the old Clunk on OLX and also tried to once sell a washing machine on facebook.
Both were a complete nightmare!
Buying or selling a vehicle here is complicated, it’s not a simple case of crossing someone’s palm with silver, scribbling on a perforated V5 form and riding away into the sunset. You need to get the Notary involved and the cash situation is a bit trickier too. Readies over a certain amount have to paid via EFT.
If the seller is married, the spouse also has to agree to the sale. If the seller has had a messy divorce, it becomes impossible. If you are a buyer, if there are any issues with vehicle documentation, walk/run away…
I sold the Clunk to a guy way down south in Apurimac, but first had to sell it to his brother in Lima, who would then have to go through the whole rigmarole again…
Facebook should be simpler one would have thought.
You just get a string of messages asking “Ultimo Precio” (final price).
I got 76 responses for the washing machine, and still didn’t shift it.
Plus a boatload od hollow, unfulfilled promises “Please hold it until the end of the month, I will buy it” promised so many Pinnochios.
Oh the joy of the inevitable tyrekickers…
One would think that if an advert was clear and concise enough, it would cut down on timewasters and their inane questions ( “What colour, year, size, flavour is it????“), which make you want to reply “Have you actually looked at the advert? “
Back to present day times…
I polished up the bass and replaced the strings with some shiny new “Ibañez” strings, just the strings, that was an important detail that would later bite my poto…
I checked the market discovering that there were a handful of really cheap, crappy basses and then a big gap to extortionate models with not a lot in between. so I listed the beast of burden (due to its unwieldy weight and unplayability) on OLX and Mercado Libre. I was instantly inundated with “Ultimo precio” questions and “Will you deliver” questions.
Bearing in mind I had to travel half way across the city on a Sunday morning after a works party, to pick up the 5-string and buy it (without being able to check it through an amp) and now people were asking me to take the bass and my amp for them to try it. N-O spelled a big fat no.
The fact that I had put new Ibanez strings in the advert led two dozen folks to believe that they were getting a bargain Ibanez bass for a tenth of a reasonable price. No.
I got 4 really persistent guys on my case.
1- Mr. Alex (we’ll call him that because that was his name and ar$es like this guy sometimes need calling out!)
Alex lived in Los Olivos but didn’t seem to realise that the world didn´t start and end at Los Olivos and that the very same world didn’t revolve only around him.
I lived near to Jockey Plaza, Lima’s most famous shopping centre (I refuse to use the word “mall”) which was a very easy and central place to get to on public transport.
“No, I don’t know where it is“came the reply even after I had sent maps, photos and a trail of breadcrumbs.
A very long pause ensued.
“La Rambla” he said, (that was all he said, I wasn’t sure if it was a question or a statement.
Another shopping centre literally 2 miles down the road from Jockey Plaza. La Rambla is on a train line, so I again gave precise instructions and again had a long pause, then a series of semi-aggressive late night texts, so I lost my rag and told him to stick it.
2- Mr. “Will you post it to Trujillo?“
Trujillo is 988km (614 miles in old money) from Lima. The answer was a swift no.
3- Mr. “Will you post it to Arequipa?”
Now, this could have been a possibility, as I was indeed travelling to AQP, purely by chance a week later.
This lad was very direct (some might say blunt, others may use a rhyming word) and calculated.
He gave me instructions on how to post it on the bus and how he would do the cash transfer when it arrived.
I told him that I wasn’t born yesterday, but he was insistent and persistent.
I created a chat group with Mr. Will you post it to Arequipa, myself and Lina, as the guy’s Spanish was a bit above my level.
Lina wrote a long, detailed message about how it was going to be. At this exact moment Mr. Will you post it to Arequipa left the group and indeed left my life as a 5-string bass dealer. If I ever see him round these parts…
By this time my patience was wearing thin and I was tempted to just pull the plug and set fire to the bloody thing!
4- Mr. “Send me a photo/video” Luis.
There followed a constrant barrage of voice messages, often whispered, mainly unintelligible and requests for videos of certain strings being plucked and certain chords being struck, plus photos of the bass from varied positions, pics of the battery and other parts. He seemed to know his stuff but the conversation was going on for days and days, I had no really need nor wish for a modern day penpal. He arranged to meet (twice) and cancelled (twice).
I was starting to lose my rag a bit. He told me to get time off work, I told him it wasn’t happening.
Eventually after endless dialogue, video and murmured voiceclips, a date was agreed.
10pm at Jockey Plaza on a soggy Friday night. (I even sent a photo of the RV point, which he changed, making it further away for both of us!)
I nashed home from work, grabbed the infernal instrument and legged it back to Jockey Plaza (which I had already passed walking to and from work twice that day).
That is when radio silence commenced…
I had had two missed calls from an unknown number, which was disconnected when I rang back. He wasn’t answering his own phone or reading my texts and Jockey Plaza was locking up. It was 10.20pm.
I had given very, very clear instructions about where we would meet and was starting to get cold feet.
I didn’t know what the guy looked like as he had no Whatsapp photo.
Just then I noticed a guy with a guitar bag, (not an uncommon sight in Lima), who seemed to be loitering.
Akin to two WWII French Revolutionaries, we passed each other and he, without prompting nor making eye contact, said
“Do you have the time?”
“10.30pm” I replied.
He walked off.
I said “Are you Luis?“
(At this moment I remembered the infamous Barry incident, not the time/place to tell that here, not now, some other time).
“I’m Johnny” I said.
He looked confused.
So, having located each other we found a little bench in the nighttime drizzle and he pulled out some headphones.
Now I had done a lot of research on basses and knew that there are both “active” and “passive” pick-ups (the speaker that amplifies the sound, when plugged into an amplifier). I now know that with an active pickup one can listen to a bass with headphones (and no amp). I played dumb, which wasn’t difficult to be honest. He seemed to know his onions more than this bluffer!
After a bit of plucking, strumming and face pulling, I was convinced he was going to enter extended negotiations and barter me down more, something I had told him beforehand that I wouldn’t entertain.
He suddenly, and without emotion, pulled 200 soles out of his pocket and for only the second time in my life, I actually made a profit! (Strictly speaking I had paid 200 soles for the bass and the steel string guitar, so in effect I broke even).
We both walked home the same way over the muddy bridges of Javier Prado and Evitamineto, passing the late night commuters and despite my efforts to make conversation, Luis wasn’t really a conversationist.
He did however send me some photos the next day of a concert he played, with HUGE Monsters of Rock style speakers, (probably borrowed off my old neighbour).
He was very happy with his guitar and I now had 200 soles burning a hole in my sky rocket. Not for long…
What happened next?
Tune in next week for episode V…
Not sure I want to tell the story, maybe next week…
When will it end?
I seem to have perptually bad guts.
Won´t go into detail, but this week has reached all-time high/low levels.
Things were bad and then I can pinpoint it down to a dodgy midweek Arroz Chaufa at a local Chifa.
Timed perfectly badly with the big Inauguration at work.
Fancy fodder and a free bar.
“Just agua for me please…”
No cake for me, pass the Frutiflex, mmmm…
Currently on the look-out for a toilet roll sponsor!
Jeffrey Bernard is unwell…
I don´t fully understand the Justice system here, but Keiko Fujimori was released this week.
Her husband, Mark Vito, came off his hunger strike, after losing a whole 113g.
And everybody is sure that she will just gently ease back into the political arena without any scores to settle, at all…
Watch this space…
The big question…
(Like most years in recent history) running plans this year haven´t really gone to plan!
Being the complete anorak that I am, (and thanks to Strava, now I don´t have to write every mile in training down), I clicked over 1000 miles this week, for the year.
Sounds a fair bit, but I used to do more than double that in a year, and a lot faster too.
A sign of advancing age is a foreshortening of time perception, (I think).
The previously mentioned “Law of diminishing returns” means that to maintain (not increase, just stay the same) a level of fitness requires one to train harder, to improve fitness levels requires even more effort but unfortunately recovery takes longer, so if you manage not to get crocked you´re achieving miracles!
My original plans for this year were to run the Lima Half Marathon( ✔ ) and El Misti/MSR (✔ ).
The Lima half went ok, MSR was way below average, mainly down to shortfalls in training.
Add them to a jog round the ultra-short Desafio Ruricancho course and the very local Parque Lambramani 7.5km Ultramarathon, the only other outing was the Rufforth 10 (miler).
Five races, none of which set the world alight (or even really created a minor spark).
A lot of graft and time, for not a lot in return…
I do enjoy running, it´s about all I know and it´s about all I´ve ever been any good at, (I did have a few moments of form one day, back in the day, which I can just about remember…)
The wet season is about to arrive in AQP, in contrast to the summer sun which is just about to arrive in Lima.
If I was here or there I´d probably be scaling down in the hills anyway.
Here, I´d probably get lost in the fog atop Misti and tumble down the crater, in Lima it simply gets too hot on the tops.
I´ve done very little on the hills this year and injurywise, compared to previous years I´ve actually managed to train most of the year. I´ve also scaled right back on race distances. Any connection/correlation?
I always say to myself that I´ll only ever compete as long as I can be competitive.
I´ve not won a race now for 10 years, but if I bust a gut I can sometimes get a prize in my (old duffers) category.
The big question is where is it heading?
I´m heading away from the hills (competitively) as pretty much all the races here are mega-technical.
Brilliant if you are Kilian Jornet, not so brilliant if you have very clumsy, uncoordinated size 13s, it´s blooming tricky territory.
Give me a runnable grassy course (or even a muddy bogtrot) any day of the week, in my dreams…
(I did have plans for a “new route” on Misti, but the wet season is upon us and the weather has got a bit unpredictable up
on´t tops. I´d be on my own up there and if bad things happened, I might as well be on the moon. Best wait for the spring…)
So, a switch to the roads is the immediate future. Started a new training programme this week, which if it doesn´t kill me should make me stronger!
I hear you say, “Stop crying Nancy” and I don´t want to come across as a Whinging Pom.
I should just enjoy it, we are not Olympic athletes after all, it´s a hobby.
Just been wading through treacle in training and have been for a good old while.
(I am cooking up a plan for a potential big mountain link-up. Don´t think it has ever been done, maybe because it´s not physically possible! Will have to wait until next year, but it could be a beauuuuuty).
Watch this space…
It was this photo that made me think!
I am really good at being scruffy, it comes naturally, but I thought I´d best spruce myself up a bit, so I then made a schoolboy error.
I had a shave…
I did once shave my head completely and my beard completely. Took a while to grow back..
Both beard and barnet took time to reappear.
I don´t intentionally grow my hair, I just hate having it cut &/or shaving.
Long-ish hair looks crap with no beard, vanity maybe, but after a week I gave in and went to the Barber´s.
The language barrier is a nightmare in this respect, you´re never quite sure you´ll get what you ask for…
I went round a few places, Barbers have become big business here. Not a busy business, just a shedload of barber shops.
Settled for a place called “Dominic´s” run by a guy called Anderson (from the Dominican Republic).
The shop was empty bar him, his wife and 1yr old baby girl (who I mistook for a boy, oopps!)
The problem was this stuff…
I had washed my hair 3 times that morning but this stuff sticks like sticky stuff and must be a headache for hairdressers.
At one point his missus was pulling my hair vertically and he was cutting it.
I needed no reminder why I hate having my hair cut.
So, anyway, it was on my head, then on the floor and now it´s gone.
Next haircut booked for 2024…
In my dreams!
The sound of music?
My first ever (official) job was at the mighty Little Chef. Mid/late 80´s, Bramham Crossroads, right on the border of north and west Yorkshire. It was a stop-gap and I ended up stopping (for 4 years). Happy days!
The job itself was pretty $h!tty, some of the gaffers were rather stern, the pay was bare bones and the hours were a nightmare.
The uniform consisted of black slacks, a striped poly-nylon-cardboard shirt, an elasticated Dickie-bow tie and a paper
sailor´s hat, that used to feel so tight, you´d constantly check you weren´t still wearing it when you caught the Coastliner home!
The best thing was the people, often the most underlooked part of any job.
It´s not always what you earn or even what you do, but if you work with solid gold people, it can turn a really crappy job into a good laugh!
Steve G, Benny and Jez were all mates from school, then there were sisters Nic & Bev, the two Ians, Ben, Lee, Simon and my good buddy Spencer, to name a few. Some very sociable folk. We all knew it was a crap job, but did our best to enjoy it. “Babs” was the boss and she ran a very tight ship. People came and went.
It was a funny old place, the “Roadside Catering” division of Trushouse Forte. A roadside cafe with restaurant prices.
Fine if you were a Rep or somebody who could claim it all back on expenses. Not so fine if you were a family of 6 who all ordered burgers and chips, (a costly choice). Happy Eater it wasn´t!
Fresh (frozen) food cooked to order.
Good breakfasts and each meal looked/tasted exactly the same as the menu/the next Little Chef.
After escaping washing up (first job for most) and siding/setting tables, you eventually got upgraded to making drinks.
I´ve always had a crappy memory/problems with distraction. The first job of the day was to fill a big metal milk jug from a snail-paced dispenser. Of course, I always forgot and came back to find several gallons of milk on the floor.
“No point crying over it” was my nervous quip to the Supervisor as I hopefully escaped a rocket!
(As with 2lbs of rock hard butter put in the microwave for a few seconds too long turning into yellow slops juice. A bit easier to hide from the gaffers…)
I firmly believe that my bad memory (now) is because it is full of information from back in the day. I still can remember the full list of menu codes, from No. 1 to No. 145 (1=Orange juice to 145=a diddy pot of marmalade).
If you see a plate like this on Fleabay, it is 100% stolen!
Then if you were lucky (!) you got promoted to waiting-on and on the odd lucky/desperate occasion, maybe even cooking.
After being a complete greedy glutton at school the first time I ever ate pancakes (I ate seven and was sick as a dog), the smell of them cooking turned my stomach and you can guess what was one of the most popular choices on the menu!
On a busy day it was hard graft for peanuts and minimal tips, but I did learn a lot about good customer service.
– Customer sat down within 2 minutes, drinks within 5mins, meal within 10mins, pudding/bill/out within 15mins, in theory…
Newsreader Peter Levy, had a hissy-fit one day because his toasted teacake took too long.
I served Vera Duckworth, Hazel O´Connor and former Superleeds and Scotland skipper, Gary McAllister.
Racing legend John Francome once came in, but I missed him 🙁
Got their autographs on Little Chef serviettes somewhere (apart from the diminuitive strop-on merchant on table 4).
Apart from cracking a constant whip about food hygiene (watch out for “The Danger Zone“), the ever present aphorism was “A smile costs nothing”.
Which is just what I wanted to drop into conversation (!) when I went to one of the three shops I go to nearly every day on my street. Not a hint of a smile, nor a hello, please, thank you or adios!
One woman accused me of stealing a 7 litre bottle of water from her little bodega, and they don´t even sell 7 litre bottles of water! I´ll get my bananas elsewhere then.
There is an especially irascible, cantankerous old witch in the only shop that seems to sell phone credit in AQP (and I think I must be the only punter still on the pay-as-you-go!)
I should just let it lie,
but I can´t!
I sometimes find that if you are ridiculously OTT friendly with stroppy people, it sometimes disarms them.
In my scheme to be Mr.Friendly, I accidentally gave the wrong phone number for a top-up.
The joke was on me!
To the mystery punter who received s/10 Entel credit last Friday, enjoy 🙂
Little Chef – The dream becomes a nightmare…
Big Night Out – The Hangover – part 4.
I remember back in the day, if I lost the TV battle with my sister, (she wanted Top of the Pops, I wanted Six Million Dollar Man, Lee Majors generally lost), one of the most eagerly anticipated bands on TOTP was MADNESS!
Not just because they were musically ace, but also because they produced brilliant music videos, at a time when MTV was probably still in nappies!
If you have 90mins check out the 1981 classic “Take it or leave it” (I have this on VHS somewhere, but a youtube link is a bit easier!)
I did see Madness at their “one-off” MADSTOCK reunion at Finsbury Park in 1992.
One-off? They haven´t stopped playing since, and who can blame them!
Morrissey supported them at that and I did see them at the G-Mex, supported by 808 State.
Huge mismatch, but a massive bonus for me, apart from losing all my mates during the first song, pre-mobile phone days!
Moving on from the Nutty Boys, if there was ever a gig I regret not going to, it was the Beastie Boys on the Hello Nasty tour in 1999.
The usual classic apathetic excuse, “I´ll see them next time…”
It never happened.
Sadly, band member MCA passed away in 2004 and the Beastie Boys are no more.
They made some ridiculously entertaining videos and awesome tunes.
If you do have half an hour spare, THIS is possibly the best feature length music video ever made.
In the meantime however, to wrap up this week I leave you with the classic instrumental “SUCO DE TANGERINA“…
That´s all for now folks.
Have an outstandingly outstanding week!