Posts Tagged ‘dogs’

Visiting the King(s) in Memphis

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo visit Graceland

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo visit Graceland

It’s pretty much impossible to visit the American South without at least stopping by to see the King. Celebrity bear and bestselling author Teddy Tedaloo of Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) fame just had to pop over to Graceland to pay his respects to the man who sang with such affection about teddy bears – and he took me along for the ride.

Ted had a blast checking out the home and the life of Elvis Presley. Being a creative artist and famous entertainer himself, I must say he was a tad envious of all those accolades “Elvis the Pelvis” received for his work. As for me, I think the writing was on the wall when I ended up having chocolate sauce spilled all over my trousers and shoes as we took a break for some ice cream in the Graceland ice cream parlour. So much for all my published books and fame (not fortune)….

I spent the rest of the day feeling…well…sticky. And on a hot summer’s day in a southern state with ants, this is not a good thing.

Hanging out on Beale (Mitzi Szereto with Teddy Tedaloo)

Hanging out on Beale (Mitzi Szereto with Teddy Tedaloo)

I had considerably better luck the following evening when we decided to visit the other king: namely B.B. King. Unfortunately he was out of town (he was probably out searching for that thrill that’s gone), but his nightclub was up and running for business on busy Beale Street, where I fared far better with an order of barbecued ribs than I did with Elvis’ soft serve. It was also Hog Night, so the bikers were out in force, showing off their nifty two-wheelers (and occasionally three). We even saw a werewolf biker.

Teddy Tedaloo gets down with the blues at B.B. King's

Teddy Tedaloo gets down with the blues at B.B. King’s

Or at least I think it was a werewolf. Perhaps that microbrew I drank was stronger than I thought.

I should tell you that Memphis is not exactly a town full of shrinking Southern violets. On the contrary, some of the ladies are quite, shall we say, forward. One afternoon as we were leaving a downtown parking garage, my friend was asked by the female parking attendant in a very no-nonsense soulful drawl: “Is that a tongue ring?” – followed by the demand: “What’s that for? Let me see it!” When my friend complied by sticking out her tongue, she was then asked: “Is that for sex?”

Only in Memphis.

Unfortunately Memphis has a very high crime rate. And unfortunately yours truly became yet another statistic of it. Was I robbed at gunpoint? No. Was I carjacked? No. In fact, I was safely sequestered (or so I believed) inside the living room of my friend’s house when the crime was committed. As I was chilling out with a glass of wine, little did I know that only a few feet away just down the hall my bath poof was being murdered by a dodgy local character who goes by the name of Udo. I mean, you only need to look at him to see the word CRIMINAL written all over his furry face. Talk about being caught in the act!

Wanted by Memphis Police Department

Wanted by Memphis Police Department

Out of respect for our lovely hostess, I didn’t bother telephoning the police. (However, she doesn’t know that I plan to sue for compensation.)

I suppose there’s a bright side to all of this: at least I didn’t take my bath brush with me. I dread to think of its fate had Herr Udo got hold of it.

As the locals can be heard say, Lord have mercy!


Mitzi and Teddy’s Excellent Adventure in Norfolk

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010
Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo (the "Norfolk Hayseeds")

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo (the "Norfolk Hayseeds")

My beloved sidekick Teddy Tedaloo and I are recently back from our first in what will hopefully be many visits to the wonderful county of Norfolk. When friends told me that things are a bit quirky in those parts, I knew it was the right place for us – and I wasn’t disappointed. Sure, I got a bit of ribbing about all the inbreeding and webbed hands and feet (the same kind of jokes you get about Wales, which is a beautiful place!), but I saw no webbed hands or feet (except on the ducks), and the locals I met were friendly, pleasant and helpful.

The plan was to soak up lots of local colour for a quirky novel I’m going to write, and soak it up I did in abundance! The quirkiness kicked off a few minutes before my train arrived at King’s Lynn, with my friend and hostess sending me a series of progressively panicked text messages informing me that she was stuck in the soap cycle at the car wash and could not get out. I ended up waiting outside by the taxis with some poor woman whose friend apparently forgot to collect her from the station, and we amused ourselves by watching the gulls deposit their waste onto parked vehicles until a car came skidding to a halt before me. My friend had arrived.

Well, I felt really let down, especially after all those text messages. I’d expected the car to be covered in soap suds like some giant bath sponge, but apparently my friend managed to make it into the rinse cycle, and hence to freedom. And off we went for a Magical Mystery Tour of Norfolk that lasted for several days and probably put a couple of pounds on me from all the eating I did (did someone say “pudding“?).

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo at a Norfolk pub

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo at a Norfolk pub

Now there’s nothing Ted and I like better than country and village pubs, and we availed ourselves of plenty while there. My favourite pub was in a village straight out of Midsomer Murders, replete with a local vicar drinking there… only he wasn’t a local vicar as I soon found out. In fact, he was a Welsh vicar with a parish in Essex. You figure it out. Even he thought it was a scream. It was in this quaint old pub where I found the perfect inspiration for my novel – and I sketched out the entire plot on a scrap of paper in between exchanging quips with the vicar, who was a bit of a comedian. It seems his parish is very near the part of Essex where the ferries go to the continent, only he said his parish was for “the incontinent”. I kinda got the impression he wasn’t too crazy about Essex when he told me: “I love everybody, but I don’t have to like everybody.”

The Norfolk Broads

The Norfolk Broads

Welsh vicars from Essex aside, you haven’t lived till you’ve gone to a pub with a black labrador that’s in season. We’d all just come from a lovely walk on the beach, barely missing being swallowed up by high tide, and were in the mood for some real fish ‘n chips (not sure what the lab was in the mood for, but let’s not go there). Anyway, there was this smaller male dog at the bar giving her the eye and, well… let’s just say he was interested and leave the subject before it disintegrates into non-family content.

Actually, forget about the horny dogs. You haven’t lived till you’ve been on a boat in the Norfolk Broads piloted by Ted. He’s a pretty good driver for a bear, and, in fact, he was a damned sight better at driving our boat than my friend (who continues to assert that I ran over a swan when I took the helm). But I had to get to the Broads and at least see what David Bowie was singing about in “Life On Mars“.

Teddy Tedaloo piloting a boat through the Broads

Teddy Tedaloo piloting a boat through the Broads

The only thing actually wrong with Norfolk (and there isn’t much) are all the Londoners coming in and trying to change it into a smaller version of London. There are quite a few so-called “celebrities” and other assorted riff-raff with too much money and no sense who descend on the county in their requisite Sloan Square attire, poncing about and trying to be all country-ish and “bishy-barney-bee” as they shop at the London clone shops and eat in the London clone restaurants (lovely old pubs that have been bought out and destroyed by the gastro craze and certain “celebrity chefs” who fob off their overpriced kibble on you). I have suggested putting barbed wire up to keep these Londoners out, or better yet, an electrified fence. I mean, if you want Primrose Hill, then stay in Primrose Hill!

Of course, coming home is never without its own excellent adventure, particularly when the train driver can’t be bothered to stop at my stop, or indeed, two of the previous stops, when they are ALWAYS scheduled stops. Just one more great mystery brought to you by British Rail. I had been so elated that for my journey home I wouldn’t need to schlep my heavy suitcase up and down countless stairs as I had to on the way to Norfolk (resulting in a slightly sprained hand), but not only did I end up at the next town up from mine, I ended up having to deal with stairs when I was forced to make the reverse journey back to my town. Thankfully my plight was put to an end when a young gentleman intervened and took over suitcase duty. I have often said there are no gentlemen left in Britain (especially in the London area), and I continue to adhere to that statement, therefore it was a pleasant surprise to actually find one (the only ones still alive are usually walking with zimmer frames). Mind you, this particular gentleman (not surprisingly) was from out of town.

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to getting a start on my new novel, and I might at some point need to pop back up Norfolk for an inspiration fix. And who knows, maybe I won’t leave!


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the High Street

Friday, July 30th, 2010

I often wonder if I have some magnetic force field operating around me that causes strange things to happen. I admit that I keep a rather low profile locally, since I don’t want hoards of fans queued up at my front door with copies of “In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed” for me to sign. (I prefer they do this in a bookshop, where I won’t be obliged to make them cups of tea.) But low profile or not, I only need to walk a couple of minutes from home before something odd transpires.

For instance, the other week I was heading to the post office when I happened on a busker and her dog. The busker, an Irish woman who seemed to think that I was also Irish (apparently I have an Irish accent), was playing guitar and singing, and the dog, who was wearing a bonnet straight out of a Jane Austen novel, was her devoted sidekick.

I guess I’m a soft touch when it comes to animals, so I put a few coins in the busker’s guitar case, slightly ashamed at the paltry offerings of the locals. Anyway, I got chatting with the woman, who was about to pack up for the day, and somehow from all this I ended up taking on the job of dog minder while she headed off to find a public loo. There I was, sitting on a bench with this dog in a Jane Austen bonnet parking her furry bum on my foot while all and sundry filed past. A few people offered me a friendly smile (I don’t think they were serial killers), including this guy I’d met earlier, who returned to pester me to join some new gym in town when I’d earlier told him that I was happy with the one I already go to – especially since his gym would have cost me double what I now pay.

When the busker returned, I was at last free to do my post office run, afterward heading off to the bank, where, along the way, I ran into an elderly lady I thought I knew from a writers group I’d given a talk to. (By “ran into” I mean on foot, I wasn’t driving.) Turns out it wasn’t her at all, but that didn’t matter, because she invited me to go Scottish dancing in Upminster (which is nowhere near Scotland, by the way). When I explained that I didn’t have a car and, although it sounded like good fun, it would be rather difficult for me to get to, she tried to entice me with tales of men in kilts, suggesting that perhaps I could find out what they wore beneath them. Well, I’d never been so shocked in my life! Okay, maybe I have. I think she just wanted to take me along as some sort of foil, and I probably would have gone, if she’d offered to pay for the taxi.

No sooner had I recovered from this adventure when yet another landed on my doorstep, for just the other day I was running some errands when, in the process of barreling toward the greengrocer’s, I was waylaid by a sweet little old lady with one of those push trolleys. She gave me a big smile and asked if I might offer her my arm so that she could get to a nearby bench to sit down. I saw a couple of old codgers seated there and, although I suspected her intent might be to chat them up rather than rest her elderly bones, I allowed her to borrow my left arm. (She didn’t much care for my right.) There we were, moving along at a snail’s pace and discussing that all-time favourite of English topics, the weather, when suddenly out of the blue she asks me why I think Jesus died.

Well, all I know is that I wanted to buy some of those lovely Spanish peaches before the season was over, therefore I was unable to shed any light on the subject of her query. Undaunted, she continued in what appeared to be a very concerted move to convert me to Christ, or at least drag me into a church. Okay, everyone’s entitled to their own gig and I respect that, but this was getting a bit much, particularly when we got to the bench and she made no effort to let me go – or to sit on the bench she claimed she needed to sit on. By the time she began fiddling in her sleeve for some of those Jesus pamphlets, I’d caught on to what she was about and made my departure before lightning struck me dead.

When I arrived at the greengrocer’s, I got chatting with the cashier and mentioned what had just happened, only to learn that a few days earlier she too had met with the very same elderly lady who had asked for her arm to help her get from point A to point B, only to be given the exact same pitch word for word. The cashier went on to say that a friend of hers had also met with this elderly lady, and so on and so on. Seems she was working the entire street! What bothered the cashier the most (she told me she was raised a full-on Christian, btw), was the degree of sneakiness and dishonesty involved, which she felt gave Christians a bad name. In fact, she didn’t believe the old woman was infirm enough to require assistance at all, and had merely been using this as a ploy. Indeed, we fully expected to see our doddering granny go jogging past the shop at any moment! We both concluded that we would very likely think twice before lending our arms to anyone. As for me personally, I never felt so cheap and used in my life!

The following day I returned to the High Street for a bit of grocery shopping and no, I didn’t see the elderly lady, but I did encounter a group of Native American Indians in full regalia performing tribal song and dance. Having by now learned my lesson, I didn’t stop to chat.

I bet you’re thinking that it’s only my local High Street where all these curious adventures take place, but it seems that no matter where I go, this magnetic force field of mine follows – even in the middle of Central London (or, in this case, beneath it). One night I was on a standing-room only underground train when I and several of my fellow passengers noticed a moth sitting on the handrail (at least it had somewhere to sit). The man near me was discussing with his mates what a moth riding the tube might eat, and I remarked that it was quite likely curry, since the moth was yellow. He agreed as to the logic of my argument, at which point several more people joined in the conversation. We then started taking guesses as to which stop Mr. Moth would get out at. I said Liverpool Street (turns out I was right). After so much speculation on the life of the Central Line moth, we were sorry to see it go, and when it came time for our little group to disband, we did so with tears in our eyes. (Okay, so maybe we didn’t, but we did part fondly.)

You’re probably saying that all this random weirdness must be some eccentric English thing, not a Star Trek-ian force field that has attached itself to me. Well, I’ve got news for you: it isn’t. Just wait till I tell you what happened when I ran into a bunch of Klingons in France!

Going to the Dogs: V Day in Blackpool

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

molested 1molested-2molested-3molested-41evening cocktails 2He wot lurks at the top of the stairs

What better or more fitting way is there to spend Valentine’s Day than with a bottle of Lambrusco, copious packets of Walker’s crisps, a slew of horror flicks, two pervy cats, and four psychotic bison frise dogs breathing down your neck? Yup, that’s exactly how I spent what’s supposed to be the most romantic day of the year.

Rather than endure Valentine’s Day on my own (last year I’d given a talk on erotic writing to creative writing MA students at Roehampton University, which was followed by a “date” consisting of my being allocated one token drink, my evening culminating in a delayed train home due to a “fatality” on the line at Romford – not sure if the suicide was a result of a broken heart or a result of living in Romford), I decided to head to that exotic gem of northern England known as Blackpool. Bear in mind that this English seaside resort town has as one of its claims to fame a “space invasion” (where’s Ziggy Stardust when you need him?) featuring several hovering spaceships on Gynn Island (in reality a roundabout), not to mention copious doses of the clap from all those hen nights (a more sedate version of which can be found in my short story “Hen Night” on Amazon Kindle) and stag dos and assorted dubious establishments catering to – dare I use the word – gentlemen.

Now I’m not going to diss Blackpool. I’m sure it’s a damned sight better than Skeggie (aka Skegness, home to the proverbial “dirty weekend” – a place where I’ve yet to go and may well manage to live without having gone). Blackpool does have some good things going for it (other than the Tower, Blackpool rock, and zillions of cheap trinkets on offer) – one being that my good mate Ashley Lister and his lovely wife Tracy and their lovely son Ashley Jr. all live there, the other being that it’s known as “the gay capital of the North”. Although I always seem to miss the Gay Pride Parade, I did go to a drag club called Funny Girls there a couple of years back. It wasn’t too bad as far as drag revues go, save for the fact there was no place to sit and I ended up with a hell of a backache by the time the show ended. Plus the place was packed with raucous females out on a hen night which – in my humble view – is enough to turn even the most masculine hetero male into a raging queen. What made it even worse was the fact that these creatures all wore these cute little furry bunny tails clipped to their rather uncute and unlittle posteriors. The sight was enough to make any man’s mars and venus shrivel up and die.

Meanwhile back at the ranch. At Chez Lister, we partook of a romantic orgy of blood, zombies, cannibals, vampires, and crazed killers all weekend long, the lineup of which included: Sweeney Todd; Dracula, Prince of Darkness; 30 Days of Night; 1408; Hannibal Rising; and Vacancy. Now I must confess that I did feel a bit of the old amorous Valentine’s Day tingle while watching Hannibal Rising. That Gaspard Ulliel isn’t too shabby. In fact, I can conjure up some very romantic scenarios featuring him in the lead role (no pun intended). Oh, and Andrew Garfield too. Okay, let’s throw in Jamie Draven while we’re at it; I do want to be fair here. And if anyone out there knows one or more of these nice lads, kindly pass on the word that I’m single and an absolutely lovely lass – they’d be hard-pressed to find better! (Hey, if I can’t use my blog for my own sinister purposes then what’s the bloody point?)

Did I mention that I played Upwords with the two Ashleys? For those of you unfamiliar with this board game, think of it like council estate Scrabble, with the words forming those grim tower blocks you see all over Britain which were built in an effort to provide public housing and which in London you can now pay full market rent to live in – no extra fees for the graffiti, broken lifts and muggings. During our tourney, I somehow managed to end up with too many tiles of the letter U; I suspect it was part of some father-son plot to cause me to lose the game. Things really began to disintegrate when I was forced to repeatedly place words such as “oh” and “uh” on the board. I mean,  how lame is that? Three games and I’d had enough. I next embarked on a jigsaw puzzle, but got annoyed after about an hour, retiring to the living room for a PlayStation game featuring Darth Vader and a host of other butch animated male characters, along with a handful of pneumatic animated female bimbos emitting noises like their flesh-and-blood pneumatic counterparts in porn. I must admit that while playing I became increasingly aggressive, experiencing a killer instinct the likes of which I hadn’t experienced since I lived in Los Angeles – an instinct that usually kicked into gear whenever I drove on the freeways, which was pretty much all the time.

Now don’t go thinking that my Valentine’s weekend was all bloodshed, mayhem and crisps. There was some romance (other than that provided by Monsieur Ulliel). I got to lie back on the sofa in peel me a grape fashion listening to Ashley Jr. play the piano. Then there was my toast thief Spike, who courted me all weekend long by performing The Spike Dance. I tell you, it’s a real talent to be able to get your head and your arse at the same angle. Imagine a U-shaped dog and you get the picture. And hey, if you think it’s easy, YOU try doing it!

Hmmm. I wonder what’s in store for me next Valentine’s Day…

View the rest of my holiday snaps on Flickr.

Watch videos from my “dirty weekend”: