My main man in Scarborough,

You won’t believe the amount of excuses I can come up with to explain this late response of mine…

But first of all, let me relay to you the very best regards of Gerry and Ria, who arrived in Portugal only a couple of days ago and who were here in P yesterday to administer my periodic dose of Dutch cheese. And Gerry has been so kind to give me your email address as well which had got lost in virtual space.

Well, there we are at the heart of the matter, virtual space, or rather… my computer.
Last spring it went on the blink (to put it mildly). After firing it up, it was just sitting there, looking at me, but… not responding to any requests of mine. It didn’t even show me a prompt arrow to work with.
Well, after having tried every remedy I could think of (including toxic waste incinerators and weapons of mass destruction) a friend of mine could lay hands on a fairly priced iPad. He stuck a stamp on it and sent it over to me.
The Dutch Postal Service, once upon a time the best in the world (that is, before it was privatised), months later managed to… return it to sender.
I could convince my friend to travel to Amsterdam and… well, to cut a long story short, Gerry took it upon him to carry my iPad underneath his arm (tremendous screen protector, by the way) and to deliver it in record time to its rightful owner.
Well, here I am, the proud owner of the finest piece of technology mankind managed to come up with so far…. an apple!
Ehh, an Apple, I mean.
Some catching up to do now, as you may have gathered from the above…

If I recall well, you were due for an eye operation, last time you wrote. How did that go? Was it cataract? If so, tell me all the gory details, because Maria is suffering from the same disease (but refuses to let any doctor come near her).
And weren’t you worried at the time that you might need to move your boat to a new site WHILE undergoing surgeory?
And you were interested to know how Maria and I were doing with respect to… gardening? That was it, was it not?
Haw-haw!
But, seriously, I may have told you that I had complained to my doctor about not having had any… ehh, crisp in my cucumber (to continue the horticultural analogy) for quite a while. She sent me over to the hospital in Beja in order to have my prostate examined and for a blood analysis (or was it urine?). Anyway, after she seemed to find everything in order, she wrote me a prescription for a drug that would finally give me some… ehh, pop in my pickle.
However, the 28 tablets didn’t last me a month and were having hardly(!) any effect. And, if they would have had, this man is not prepared to pay almost €100 every month just for an incidental… irrigation! I know there are plenty of men who would beg to differ, who would rather be dying of starvation than be living… on wither cucumber…
I beg your pardon?
Maybe I should not have taken those tablets every day?
Well, there’s another thing… our doctor never explains anything!

Anyway, when she was not able to help Maria off her neck problems last spring, after 3 vain visits I decided to take her (Maria, that is) to another doctor. That one resolved the problem in a matter of days. Moreover, he is a talker, he explains everything very patiently. He seems to like to discuss matters.
So, last week I decided to let him have a look at my… ehh, veg.
He explained that one in five men in their forties are “disfunctional” in that area.
At age 50 the score is even two(!) in five.
Hello! Did you know that?
The doctor wanted to know if I ever smoked after sex. I said: “Dunno, doc! I never looked! I zip up almost immediately! Haw-haw!”
But seriously… What he really asked was if I ever used to smoke at all. I told him about me smoking the pipe for thirty odd years…
It seems that doesn’t help matters (depending on how you like your veges done of course, overcooked or “al dente”).
Anyway, he gave me a prescription for four(!) tablets, only to be taken (1 at the time!) an hour before commencing… ehh, shoveling.

Well, the first one didn’t work. I couldn’t get it in. It’s such a tiny hole, you see…
But seriously, the first one didn’t work because we had a row. Maria started to nag me about veges and artificial fertilizers…
To cut a long story short, already a bit nervous and edgy I felt offended, rolled over and turned out the light.
Funnily enough, those things do not have any effect whatsoever if you don’t feel the urge. One blank, three to go!
But the day before yesterday… my god, was Maria pleased!
Three times!
And no complaints about artificiality that time! No way, José!

But enough for now… Maria has made lunch, and a nice salad, it seems, of fresh and crispy… well, anyway!

Have a good one, my friend! And once more my apologies for responding so late!
Kisses for Sue!

Tiago