There may be those among you who wonder why I am so sloppy about getting these blogs out on time. If I have an excuse… and it has to be said, it’s a pretty spurious one, then it’s because I am snowed under with what is known as ‘unfinished business’.

I was staying with friends in London. On the night I arrived Richard was going out to his men’s group.

‘Do you want to come along?’, he asked me.

‘I don’t think so,’ I thought aloud. ‘What will you be doing?’

‘We’re going to discuss “unfinished business”.’

‘Hmm… then I shan’t come. What d’you mean anyway – unfinished business?’

‘Unfinished business is a broad term for all that stuff you’ve left undone that you ought to have done, all the work, tasks, jobs, relationships – everything you ought to finish but have left unfinished… and what it all does is builds insidiously up and harms you.’

‘Oh,’ I said blithely, ‘I don’t have any of that stuff.’

‘I bet you do,’ said Richard, perhaps a trifle needled by my smugness. ‘If you cast about, I know you’ll find a whole load of unfinished business…’

‘Maybe,’ I said, thinking about it a bit. ‘There’s about eighteen months of unanswered correspondence, e-mails and paperwork… does that count?’

‘Of course it counts. And I bet you’ll find that that’s just the tip of the iceberg – and it’s probably affecting your health too.’

My initial instinct was to dismiss all this as the codswallop it so patently was, but even so I cast about a bit in the darker recesses of my mind. As it happens I was suffering at the time from a rather painful infection that affected one of those parts of the body about which one prefers not to speak. The limb in question was becoming increasingly inflamed, even to the extent of making it rather painful to walk. Ana, the Wife, was very understanding about it and seemed to accept my explanation that the condition had been caused by some wind-blown particle – which indeed it had. But perhaps Richard was right… maybe the distressing condition that was afflicting me had been brought about by the callous and sloppy attitude I have to my correspondence heap, which was on the verge of reaching critical mass. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with this concept: when a correspondence heap goes critical, you toss the whole lot in the bin and start again with a clean slate.)

When Richard came back from his men’s group I owned up, and presented him with a long list of unfinished business.

‘Right,’ he said. ‘We’re moving. Now you’ve acknowledged this lamentable state of affairs we’re halfway there. Next you’ve got to do something about it. You must promise me that by the next time we see one another… which by my calculations should be June the eighth – you must have sorted out all your backlog of unfinished business, especially what will by then be two years of unanswered letters.’

I agreed to this draconian solution in the hope that it might revive the sagging fortunes of my poor organ. Fortunately though, on June the seventh the correspondence heap went critical and I was able to tell Richard with a clear conscience, that I had dealt with it.

You see what I’m driving at?  Toodle pipp



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  1. Comment by Nigel — October 30, 2010 at 7:24 pm   Reply

    WHAT was that about? What limb are you alluding to ? It is very obvious from the little that you have revealed that you have serious problems that would be best dealt with professionally….I know a dubious psycotherapist if you’re serious about sorting your sorry self out (could get you a discount).
    And what’s with the ‘toodle pipp’? Didn’t Ken Dodd used to say that?Or was it Bruce Forsythe?

  2. Comment by Jeff SmithMarch 25, 2011 at 1:22 am   Reply

    Twelve children and three teachers from Anson Primary School (North West London in the UK) were privileged to visit Chris and Ana’s place today and we had a wonderful time. We arrived nearby at 10:50 ready for an 11:00 link-up. We were then directed to El Duque – a little village where we were due to meet. As our coach drove along, the road got narrower and narrower and the large coach got harder and harder to get around the corners. The driver finally said that he could go no further and a local advised us that El Duque was only 1.5 kilometres away. So we unloaded our lunch, bags and children and headed off.
    The road turned into a track which wound up into the foothills and along a fantastic river gorge. We kept on walking and walking… and walking. SEVEN kilometres later we were met by Chris in his Landrover. Nine students piled in and he took them down to his little bridge that crosses the river to reach their property. He then collected the other six and we walked another kilometre to his wonderful house. It was like a magical dwelling with definite Gaudi influences. The children enjoyed looking around the eco-pool which contained the tamest toad ever seen. The children stroked it, prodded it but it took everything in great humour. We then met Ana and we all had lunch together and spent time talking to Chris and Ana about their unique lifestyle. Later the children spent time running around the wonderful countryside and clambering over a tractor. At 3:30 it was time to leave and our children said goodbye. They have all been touched by a wonderful day and they will take many memories back with them – not least the caring way that Chris and Ana tend their land. As fir the seven kilometre walk? The children loved it! They said that it reminded them of Raiders of the Lost Ark! Thank you for a wonderful time!

  3. Comment by lisa — August 29, 2011 at 6:09 pm   Reply

    I saw you on the RIck Stein Spain programme and was very excited as we were in Andalusia at the time and I was also reading Driving over Lemons!!
    I loved the salad you made with pomegranates. I can’t find it anywhere online – any chance you can send it to me?
    thanks very much

  4. Comment by Rosie — November 20, 2011 at 9:21 pm   Reply

    Was thrilled to see you on Rick Stein’s Spain programme which has been showing here in New Zealand! Awesome to see your home on tv and it looks just as your book portrays after all the hard work you have both put in. Well done and enjoy!! :) :)

  5. Comment by Colin and Cathy Leslie — November 27, 2011 at 7:01 pm   Reply

    Hi Chris,

    Reading your book at the moment and loving it. We are coming down at the end December for the month of January staying at Torrox nr Nerja, It would be great to come and see you. I was in a backing band in the 60’s alongside the Barron Knights, and playing alongside Kenny Ball , new Alan Freeman , Don Moss, people you might remember? and the feelings still there, if only the fingers would work. Colin

  6. Comment by Andy — January 3, 2012 at 6:25 pm   Reply

    Just wanted to say that I am thoroughly enjoying reading “Driving over Lemons”. I can’t help thinking that you and Ana were very brave when you decided to move to a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, which didn’t even have any running water. At least you were able to speak some Spanish though!
    That said, it sounds like you have settled well into a new way of life, and by writing this book, you may just have encouraged other people to try something similar.

    All the best

  7. Comment by Mel — January 21, 2012 at 2:24 am   Reply

    Just been in the Alpujarras to see Tony our artist from Los Montoros, now reading driving over lemons and can’t put it down, what a lovely man you are and what an amazing thing you have done with your beAutiful wife! In awe! If only I had the guts!

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