FOWC with Fandango: Guileless

Birds 02.07 (10)

Maria Russo was sad. Her one and only Joey had died. She had a  son Joey, he was in good health and was a good boy, always had a place in his heart for Mama Russo, but this Joey was a special unique Joey, it was Maria’s canary. He was a good age for a canary, almost ten years old and he was everything for Maria. He would sing in the morning and she would wake up to his familiar song. He died in the night. If an autopsy had been performed the vet would have told Mama Russo that it was his heart. It just stopped beating, but after so many years, for a canary, this was to be expected.

She put her little canary in a small box, lined with a small silk scarf and buried him in the garden in a nice sunny place. She had the feeling he could carry on singing in his little canary heaven when the sun was shining. Heavy of heart she cleaned the cage and put everything away.  She decided to spread the remainder of the bird seed  over Joey’s grave. At least he would have his favourite meal growing around him. Her son Joey always bought the bird food and told her he grew nicely as it was top quality seed.

Time went on and she noticed a nice little garden growing where Joey had been buried. She was already thinking about getting another Joey when she heard the screeching of car brakes outside her door and someone pounding on the door.

“Open up, at once otherwise we will be forced to break the door down.”

Maria Russo was an elderly small grey haired lady and was quite shocked by the noise, so she rushed to see what was wrong and was confronted by two men, two police officers and a police car was parked before the door. It was then that a police van also arrived.

“Can I help you officer?” she wanted to say but was cut off midway in her sentence by the men at the door that rushed past her into the garden at the back of the nice little neat house where she lived.

“Here it is men; a nice example of evidence, all growing bushy and almost ripe for picking. The men that had arrived in the van were also now on the scene armed with shovels and started digging some plants out of the garden. Maria was shocked.

“What are you doing? Please stop, that it my Joey’s grave that you are digging up.”

“You have a dead body here as well?” asked one of the plain clothes police officers.

“Did you hear men; the case is more serious than we thought. Looks like murder is also concerned. Put the plants in the van and we will dig further.”
They were slightly embarrassed when they discovered the remains of Joey the canary, but nevertheless it did not deter them from taking the plants away in the van.

Maria Russo was taken in the police car to the station and charged. Her crime was the growing of cannabis plants with the intention of selling the finished product. Maria was shocked and said she was innocent and did not even know that the plants growing around Joey’s grave were forbidden. She found it a sweet memorial to his life and was glad that they had grown so strong and tall. Maria started to cry at the police station and a police lady asked if she would like to call a lawyer.

“I don’t have a lawyer” she answered “but if I could call my boy Joey I would be glad.”

And so Maria called her son.

“Hello mama, how are you. I was coming to see you this afternoon. Is there a problem?”

“Oh Joey, you must help me. I am at the police station.”

“Mama what are you doing at the police station. Were you burgled?”

“No Joey, the police just arrived and took me to the station where I have been charged. Something about the plants growing in my garden, you know where I buried Joey my canary. They say the plants are not allowed.”

“What plants mama?”

“You know those tall ones with the seven leaves on one stem. They say that they are not allowed. Something to do with …”

“What did you say they were called officer?”

“Cannabis Mrs. Russo.”

“Oh, Joey they say they are called Cannabis. Is that bad?”

“Mama, I will be down at the station in five minutes. Don’t answer any more questions, keep quiet and wait for me.”

So Joey called his lawyer, Alfredo Gianni, and arrived at the police station with Alfredo.

“Officer I demand you let my mother go at once. How can you arrest a sweet little old lady on the charge of planting Cannabis. My mother does not even know what it is.”

“Joey, I will deal with this” said Alfredo.

“Joey my boy, and Alfredo, nice to see you both; how is your mama Alfredo and the bambini, I have been wanting to see you for some time. I heard that Gina has just presented you with another son. Send her my best wishes.”

“Thank you Mrs. Russo, I will tell her, but first of all we have to settle the problem of the plants in your garden. Officer, I am sure that Mrs. Russo grew these plants without knowing what they were. Have they been tested for the level of THC?”

“Yes, Mr. Gianni and it seems it is quite high”

“Joey, what’s all this about THC, is that something good for you?”

“No mama, it is not good for you.”

“Do you think that is why my Joey died? Perhaps he ate too much of it.”

“Officer, I hope you are listening to this conversation between my client and her son. It is obvious that Mrs. Russo has no idea what sort of plants were growing in her garden. I am sure this is a complete misunderstanding.”

“Well all I did was to put the remaining canary seed into the garden after I buried my Joey. They made such a nice little garden in his memory.”

“The fact remains that your mother Mr. Russo and your client Mr. Gianni, was growing cannabis plants in her garden containing a high percent of THC; enough to satisfy a lot of people.”

“Joey, I want to go home” said Mrs. Russo with tears in her eyes.

“OK officer, you heard. My client is completely unaware of what is going on and would like to go home.”

“No problem Mr. Gianni, as soon as things are cleared. In the meanwhile she can have a single room in our hotel down in the cellar.” And Maria was taken to a cell.

Joey was furious and Alfredo Gianni told him not to worry. Alfredo phoned his brother, Nuncio, who was a well known judge in the town and told him what had happened. An hour later Maria Russo was in her son’s car on her way home.

“Thank you son, for the help. If it had not have been for you and Alfredo I would still be at the prison. Please son, the next time that you have no room left on our family plantation just don’t bring the plants to me. I have too many nosy neighbours who see what grows in my garden. I just cannot bring that story with the bird seed any more.”

“Don’t worry mama, in future we will keep the weed to ourselves.”

“I knew you were a good boy Joey. By the way I have invited Alfredo and his family to dinner on Sunday. You should come as well with the children. It is such a long time since the family have been together, and I am sure we will have a lot to talk about.”


FOWC with Fandango: Guileless

RDP Tuesday: Mandolin (sorry no guitar here)


This is my mandolin. It has quite a journey behind it. Made somewhere in a Russian factory, taken to Britain from Leingrad and afterwards Switzerland where it has been for the past fifty years.

I remember well when I first saw it. Actually it was supposed to be a balalaika. I was on a school trip in my last year at school on a cruise ship visiting various towns around the Baltic sea, one of which being Leningrad. In 1964 Leningrad was still a communist stronghold being under the leadership of Leonid Brezhnev, but we were teenage schoolgirls, so what did politics bother us. On the cruise there were two ladies from the USSR as the country was then known, and we would meet up now and again and they would tell us about what to expect in their country and we could ask questions.  One of the questions was about music instruments and when we heard that the price of a genuine Russian balalaika was only 1-2 roubles we had all marked our choices on the shopping list.

Eventually the ship docked in at Leningrad.

Quayside Leningrad
It was the job of these two red army soldiers to control our special identity cards each time we left and boarded the ship. Freedom of movement was not allowed.

And so there came the day when we were ready for our planned excursion to the town of Leningrad. The first visit was to the Young People’s palace where invited younger members of the Russian population were ready to meet their english friends, although their idea of being modern was not really ours. We were all wearing our fashionable clothes, often with skirts shorter than usual, and the Russian guys and girls were dressed more proper. I remember the guys. They were all wearing a tie with shirt. It seemed that material was scarce in Leningrad as the ties were half the normal length we were used to. It looked like someone had cut off the bottom part of the tie.

After getting this official part of the business behind us, we were let loose and all of us headed for the large store where they sold everything, including music instruments. Our two teachers accompanied us but it was a big store and we soon lost sight of each other. We were told to meet afterwards at the bus stop where public transport would take us to the quay where the ship was docked.

We were about 50 school girls and the invasion had begun. It was a large music department, but we raided it. After half an hour there were no more balalaikas. First comers had bought them all. For such a cheap price of 1-2 roubles they were almost free for us, although the average Russian probably had to work a couple of weeks until he could afford it. I also wanted my balalaika, but being none left, I settled for a mandolin. It cost a little more than 2 roubles, about 4 roubles, and so was on Russian terms classed as a good instrument. This was also confirmed when I arrived back in England by a musician.


Here is a close up of the label in the inside of the mandoline. I can read russian, but it just said that it was manufactured in an instrument factory in a place called Lunacharsk.

The result of our invasion in this department store was easy to see. The shop assistants had never seen anything like it. They were defenceless against the english schoolgirls, but we paid our roubles and left an empty store in the music department. There was not one balalaika or mandolin left on the shelves, they had been cleared. I think that day was a record turnover.

We all left the store and I met our teacher who was still waiting for the rest of the troup. I told her it would be some time before they all arrived and so she put me and my colleagues on the Russian bus which had arrived and waited for the others. Each of us naturally had an instrument tucked under our arms. Eventually we arrived at the ship, had the normal examination by the red army guards who looked a little perplexed at each of us carrying a Russian music instrument. We had all decided to leave our precious music instruments in the purser’s office on the ship as they would look after them and we were sure they would be safe. Unfortunately the office was fully packed with the mandolines and balalaikas (as well as a few guitars) from the floor to the ceiling, so we were told to keep them in our dormitries (we were sleeping in group accommodation). And so that was my story that happened when Putin was still wearing diapers.

In the meanwhile I have not learned to play the mandolin, but Mr. Swiss being more musically talented in that direction one bought a set of strings and restrung it for me. It is now placed on top of our TV cupboard in the living room – a family heirloom which I will one day pass onto my son.

Naval Triumphal Arch Starchek square Leningrad

Naval Triumphal Arch Starchek square Leningrad – my photos, being from 1964, are all black and white.

RDP Tuesday: Mandolin (sorry no guitar here)

Good Morning


A little late, but the sky did look like this this morning two hours ago. Since then we have had more sun and pure blue skies. It has also warmed up a bit. In the meanwhile my cleaning lady has arrive and is actually almost finished. She told me that she will be off to Miami in a couple of weeks for a woman’s congress. It is the second one she is attending this year, the last one was in Mexico, so she is getting around. I think it is good that she takes interest in rights for the women. In certain countries they do not have as many as we do in our world. She herself, comes from Columbia.


Otherwise the sun is shining now on the garden, so what could be better. I am looking forward to a relaxed day with no big excursions that I have to do, but what I want to do. Lunch is already cooking and I have more or less everything under control.

At the moment I am looking for a new book to read. My last one was actually a trilogy all about Cicero and ancient Rome – thanks for the tip Marilyn my online friend. Although based on our way of life, the Romans were quite a war nation extending their territories all over Europe, they did have an organisation. It seems Cicero was a very good lawyer, although he also made his enemies on the way. I am not sure how much the book differed from the actual facts, but it seems that after Caesar was assassinated by his men Mark Antony took over to an extent and he was Cicero’s enemy. Eventually Cicero was beheaded, but his marks were left in history.  I did not think I would read it all, but it was a space in my knowledge of world developments. Even today Swiss law is based on Roman Law according to my legal eagle No. 2 son.


Casting an eye on garden developments, I noticed that my savoury is still flowering. I have never had such a good success with this herb, but it is the perennial and not the annual sort. It is particularly good cooked with green beans. but also for general usage, also in a salad sauce.

As a Brit I am following a little the BoJo (Boris Johnson Prime Minister) developments in London. I grew up in London and left at the age of 20. I usually returned one a year to see my parents, but I must say such a mess that the Brits now have with their government I have never seen before. I survived Harold Wilson, Macmillan, even Ted Heath  as Prime Ministers. I was a socialist at the time, although that was many years ago. Now BoJo, the blond headed wonder, is Prime Minister and he has succeeded in messing up the British political system within just a few weeks. One thing I must say in support of the Brits. That the conservative main streamers and partially even Ministers, have demonstrated their dislike of the BoJo ideas and many have resigned from the government.  BoJo has even succeeded in suspending the parliament for 5 weeks because he has not achieved what he wanted with Brexit (which no-one really understands what he wants). One thing I must say for BoJo he is an entertainer.


Here is a cheerful photo from my garden to guide you through the day. I can hear my pasta water is boiling, so I should begin to cook my Hörnli (small pasta hollow horns). I am off, have a good day, and may the sun be shining on you. If it rains, then make the most of it.