Sunday, February 18, 2018

The goldfish's moustache

For those concerned with the fate of our goldfish I can tell you he has returned to his usual - albeit lumpy - self. He is swimming around normally and the right way up. Oh, but he has grown a moustache ...

And spider, who suffered traumatic stress disorder following my attempts to clean the bath around him has made it out of the bath! On his own! He is halfway up the tiled wall.

I was so proud of him when I saw what he had achieved. If I hadn't left my camera at daughter's I would have taken a photo.

George on the other hand is causing some concern. When I walked him last week I was struck by how very slowly he ambled along. Husband said he's been getting slower over the last six months but I'm not convinced. He's due for his annual vaccinations soon so we'll get the vet to check him then. 

Husband's probably right: his innate laziness is finally overcoming him.

Paul Flynn or an alien?

Over on FaceBook Glenn suggested that yesterday's earthquake may have been the result of alien intrusion. I didn't take it seriously at the time but since then I've been thinking...

For the last two nights I've been getting twinges where my bit was removed. I put it down to wind but what if, when they abducted me, the aliens implanted a transmitter?! And it's been busy sending and receiving messages to landing craft? It would explain a lot.

And then there's the strange coincidence of Paul Flynn turning up on the morning of my operation and offering to do it. Everyone knows aliens usually come in a chameleon form so maybe it wasn't really Paul but an alien!

I'm just putting these ideas out there for your consideration. Blame Glenn. 

Paul Flynn or an alien?

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Did the earth move for you?

'I thought our new loft conversion was collapsing.'
'I thought a car had crashed into the front of the office.'

Two of the comments from FaceBook friends following the afternoon earthquake - of 4.4 magnitude about 10 miles north of Swansea. 

I was in the car at the time and didn't feel a thing. 
However when we got to the library a message on the tannoy about 'the incident that just happened' and 'everything under control now' alerted us to the strange goings-on that we had just missed.

Incidentally this non-post is for Stu who requested that I blog about our near death experience.

Lent 4 Libraries

This beautiful but damp room used to be Swansea reference library. 
Now Swansea Central library is in a modern sea front location, light and airy, and with easy parking. It is one of my favourite places. I am so grateful for the determination of a few men to see free public libraries introduced for the benefit and improvement of the working classes. In 1852 the first such library opened in Manchester following the Public Libraries Act of 1850.

It's worth noting that during the debates on the act Conservatives, concerned about the cost of the scheme and the social transformation it could bring about, argued strongly against free public libraries.

Today more and more local libraries are being closed or being gradually run down having to rely on volunteers.

It's definitely a case of Use It Or Lose It.

What I want or what I need

I was feeling really weary this afternoon. I had two choices: I could sit and wallow or get up and do something. I knew that while I may prefer to do the former I would feel better afterwards if I did the latter. So I cleaned the bathroom. Carefully not disturbing the spider in the bath.

To be honest though I'm not sure how successful my attempts were. I fear he may have had one or two panic attacks but, hey, he's still alive. Husband can get him out later.

I'm not sure why I'm so tired. Husband has been very restless in bed - he tells me - and thinks I may be suffering because of it. Especially as we're still in the double bed in the spare room as opposed to our normal super-king-size bed.

Did I tell you that I have ordered curtains for our bedroom? But they won't be here for up to six weeks so we'll remain squashed for a few weeks yet. Perhaps I should go and sleep in a bunk bed. Oh no, wait, they're covered in boxes and things from our bedroom. Hey ho. I'll have to take up afternoon napping.

Television today - spoiler alert!

We watched the last episode of Requiem last night. The first five episodes were good; the finale was a let-down. Weird plus it left loads of ends flapping. Unless they're planning another series, which is a possibility now I think of it with the current trend for the supernatural, it left more questions than answers.

Unlike McMafia, which also finished this week. ended with the 'hero' going completely over to the dark side. 

Thank goodness for Death in Paradise, where someone gets murdered each week, but in very delightful surroundings, and the policeman always gets the baddie. Am I old-fashioned to want a satisfactory ending? The triumph of good over evil?

Saga from The Bridge
P.S. The best thing about Requiem was the opening music, which owed a lot to The Bridge.
P.P.S. Hurry up and bring back The Bridge and its main character, Saga! I could cope with her weirdness.
P.P.S. I watched several episodes of McMafia before I remarked to Husband that there wasn't a single Scotsman in it. He explained to me that it was a reference to franchised crime not clans.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Lent 3

Today I'm grateful for the bird life I can watch from my kitchen window. This is actually an old photo as we haven't seen any long-tailed tits for a while but they're my favourites they're so sweet.

We do however see a lot of robins. Or possibly one robin lots of times as Husband tells me they're very territorial and don't like other robins invading their territory.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Lent 2

One of my recent favourites
Today I'm feeling thankful for books. And at a more basic level that I am able to read.

Waiting at the counter in Waterstone's today I was glancing through the titles on the closest display:
A Monk's Guide to a Clean House and Mind, Make Your Bed and The Life Changing Magic of Tidying-Up. Safe to say they won't be on my To Read list any time soon. Or ever. However The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck may be.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Forty days of thanks

A few years ago I decided that rather than give up something for Lent I'd take more affirmative action. I'm doing the same this year and each day I intend to do a post of gratitude, on both Facebook and here.

As it's also St. Valentine's Day today there can only be one choice for my gratitude: Husband. I'm so grateful for my man and the love he has for me. (Even if he looks as if he'd rather be anywhere else in this photo.)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

No hostage harmed

I held myself hostage this afternoon. I said, 'You're not leaving this shop until you've bought curtains.'

The men came to fit our new bedroom carpet today so there is a new urgency to my search. I've looked before. Several times. And on the internet. But our windows are very wide, bow windows, and, most places don't stock ready-made curtains in the size we need.

After my last futile attempt to find some, when each time I saw a curtain that was at least not too bad, it was only to discover that it was eyelet only (we want pencil pleat) or not available in the size or colour, I approached the store with reluctance today. 'If necessary I'll buy two pairs,' I told myself.

It wan't until after I'd spent a lot of time wandering around talking to myself, that I noticed the made to measure section. I'd checked out some mtm curtain prices on the internet and they were coming to about £500. While it is our bedroom and they will have to last several years, well, it's a lot of money. But the fabric on display in the shop seemed a bit cheaper so I browsed. And I um-ed and ah-ed. And grumbled about how much I hated choosing curtains. While gradually losing the will to live.

The assistant said, 'Can I help you?'
'Only if you can make up my mind for me.'

In the end, bearing in mind that I had to get home and put the chicken in the oven, I made a decision and ordered some. Then she told me it would take six weeks. I blanked that bit and said, 'Fine.'

I can breathe again.

And I've submitted my latest article for The Bay magazine. That was making me stressed too. I'd started well but then I kept writing myself into a knot. By the time I'd finished I wasn't sure if it even made sense but I sent it to the editor and she was happy with it so one way or another I'm breathing easy tonight. Or I would be if I hadn't left putting my potatoes on until so late dinner's going to have to wait until they're cooked.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The people I've killed

I've just read a book called The Perks of Being a Wallflower in which a teenage boy blames himself for his aunt's death. We're watching a television series called Requiem in which a young woman blames herself for the disappearance of a child twenty years earlier.

Guilt is a dreadful thing to live with it particularly if there is no justification for it. But of course it doesn't feel like that at the time. To the 'guilty' person there is justification and he/she should feel bad because he/she deserves it.

These two instances coming so close together reminded me of times from my childhood where I blamed myself for someone's death.

Growing up I lived with my mum, my grandparents and my great-gran, who had her bed in the front room. We hadn't long had a television and it was still exciting for all the family - maybe not my grandfather - to gather in the other front room to watch television, in this particular case, Coronation Street. This Monday evening my gran sent me to call my 88-year-old great-gran. I was cross because I'd already settled down nice and comfy so I hurried into the other front room, shouted, 'Coronation Street's on,' and rushed out again.

A few moments later we heard a scream. My great-gran had fallen and, it turned out, broken her hip. She never really recovered and died a few months later.

'If I'd not been so grumpy. If I'd stopped and waited to make sure she'd heard. If I'd stayed and helped her make her way in. If I'd done anything except what I did she would still be alive.' I was about ten at the time. I never told anybody what I felt.

A few years later I was walking my dog down the road past some neighbours who were standing, arm in arm, by their gate. The man asked me, 'How's your Uncle Jim?'
'Oh, he died,' I said.
The man went pale and shaky. His wife took a closer grip on him and, as she turned to take him back inside, said to me, 'I wasn't going to tell him until he was feeling stronger.' (It seemed he was a close friend of Uncle Jim's and had been very unwell himself.)

I walked away convinced I would now be responsible for the death of another person. I don't know if he died; I avoided walking that road afterwards.

I deserved all the bad feelings because I was a bad thoughtless person.

Is Gift Aid a good thing?

There's a programme on Radio 4 called Simon Evans Goes to Market. I'm not sure if he is an economist who decided to take up comedy or a comedian with an interest in economics but the programme about various money matters is factual but with a humorous slant. Most of it is mildly interesting and amusing.

But last week a very interesting point was raised that has got me thinking. He was looking at altruism and charitable giving by the very rich and at charitable giving in general.

Now in the UK we have a thing called Gift Aid; I don't know if it has been adopted universally but if you're a tax-payer and you give money to a charity the charity can claim back the tax you would have paid on that money thus increasing the value of the donation at no cost to the giver. So, for example, if a tax-payer gave a charity £1 the charity could claim another 20 pence from the government - or whatever the basic rate of tax is at the time. It doesn't sound much but adds up significantly.

So all that sounds like a good thing, right? I can support my favourite charity at no extra cost to me. But is it at no extra cost to me? Strictly speaking, yes it is. But each 20p that the government gives back to a charity is 20p out of the spending pot for the government. Which means 20p diverted away from hospitals and schools - and warfare and foreign aid and countless other things that the national government is responsible for.

In order to become a charity an organisation has to prove it's doing good. (At least I assume they have to prove something.) And most charities are very worthy causes and to many of the smaller ones especially the extra money could be vital.

I am very happy that Zac's is a charity and can claim back Gift Aid on the money we give. Likewise the other charities we support. But while I'm a bit of a soft touch and love everything from hedgehogs to trees, do I necessarily want my money (Husband's to be precise as I'm not a tax-payer) to go to support weird and wonderful causes however deserving they may be if it's at a cost to my grandchildren's education?

I have no control over what other charities do with their money. I didn't vote for this government but they are democratically elected with a duty of responsibility to provide the services. I might not think they're doing a very good job but they are accountable. And, yes, charities are accountable to their trustees and the charity commission, but that's not quite the same.

So should I tick the Gift Aid box in future? Or should I choose to make up the difference myself. My charitable giving, my choice.