I am new woman – have just returned from holiday in Ibeeeeza with my sistah, where in pursuit of more brain power and flatter tums we eat nothing but feeeesh whilst at same time (like the silly or mad cows we often is) chomp our way through a veritable field of frilly lettuce leaves.

Was amazed by the many variations and spectacular colours of lettuce there are these days;  curly bleached yellowy strands like tangly permed hair, vicious looking pointy green arrow spear heads, girly frills resembling voluminous ballet dresses. A new slang word for frilly lettuce – the desmond tu tu?

I decided I didn’t know enough about the not so humble lettuce so had a quick Googledoo when I got back. Many different names popped (or cropped) up, sounding more like Brazilian call girls – Lollo Rosso, described as highly attractive and heavily frilled, usually sporting saucy pinky leaf margins. Lollo Biondo, a bright green version of Lollo Rosso. Lovina who is more ‘bolt’ resistant and her mate Loma, deeply toothed with loose leaf tip burn. Sounds painful, I’d stay away from her. Then we get on to the more ominous or masculine sounding names such as the Black Seeded Simpson – he doesn’t sound very appetizing but depends on your taste in lettucemen. Of course we have the more familiar Iceberg, the overrated (at least in my opinion) Rocket, and not forgetting Little Gem (ah bless!) and the Royal Oak Leaf, which unlike me can stand for longer without getting a yellow bottom.

Lettuce is a source of vitamin K which we all need for a healthy immune system, especially people living with HIV. I’d never actually heard of vitamin K- I thought alphabetically the list of vitamins stopped after vitamin E, but apparently Dam and Doisy (distant relations of Dam and Buggerit) shared the 1943 Nobel Prize for medicine for their work with this lesser known vitamin. Another thing I didn’t know about lettuce is that it is an opiate and produces a milky fluid known as ‘lettuce opium’ which has sedative quality. Those ‘know it all’ Romans ate it at the end of meal to put them to sleep, so you know what to do next time you have trouble sleeping, forget the mug of Horlicks, counting sheep or popping pills, nibble away on a few lettuce leaves instead.

Another thing I discovered whilst on my hols was that I’d missed my true vocation. Against my better judgment (I’m not keen on water sports of any kind apart from bubble baths) I was forced by my more adventurous sis to venture out on the high seas on a bright yellow pedalo, which we christened Daffodil. To my surprise I found I was a natural pedalower and what’s more I liked to have, in fact insisted on having, total control of the rudder. I think this must go back to the time when I was first diagnosed and hallucinating on sustiva or was it efavirenz? I can’t remember now, that time like the sixties, is a bit of a blur to me. Coincidentally, like Daffodil, the huge impossible to swallow pills were bright yellow. After downing those first anti-retrovirals I remember informing my mum that I was a paddle steamer peddling down the Mississippi wearing huge boxing gloves.

Whilst sis swims in deep blue waters, pedal protectively round her like big yellow mother duck employing newly acquired rudder skills till sis gets tired. Seriously consider leaving her at one point and hot-pedaling back to shore – legs getting bit tired, but decide not to abandon her to health freak German swimmers, sharks etc – but oh oh, ship or pedalo ahoy! How very dare it. Narrowly miss head on collision but manage to safely steer vessel back to shore. 

What we do now asks sis? We tourists so we go shop-hing of course. We go to Spanish version of pound shop, which used to be hundred peseta shop. Sis think I say hundred potato shop, so we sing and do arm movements to, ‘Oh Macarena’ – but sing instead, ‘Oh las potatas.’ We think that is very funny, but we are probably suffering from sea legs or the bends!



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