Tuesday, November 20, 2018

the love that dare not speak its name

A few odds and ends before I start to work properly today. 

I got into bed beside Husband last night and said, 'I love you.'
'I know,' he said.
'I was talking to the bed.'

Is it unnatural to love your bed? Especially that moment when you first get in after a long day and snuggle down with your book? Mmm, bliss. I also have a special love for my favourite bra and that's not odd at all.

You'll be pleased to hear - if you've been following the saga and wondered what had happened - my nose smell problem seems to have almost disappeared. 

Every night almost since it began I've been applying a blob of Vick's Vapour Rub to the base of my neck not to clear my chest but to give me something different to smell and stop me having panic attacks in the middle of the night. (Did I mention that it was really stressing me out?) Well, last night I was about to put some on when I realised that I didn't need it: the smell that has been persisting in my nose for the last couple of months wasn't there. 

Every now and again I get a little sniff of it but that may be paranoia. Whether the rub actually helped to clear whatever was causing the problem or whether it had a placebo effect I don't know or care. I am just happy not to have the permanent pong in my nose and to be able to smell everything else more effectively.

In other news, yesterday I finalised the paperback edition of The Dog-walking Club and I'm delighted to say that it is now available on Amazon alongside the kindle version. I am planning to have a live book launch on FaceBook!

I began investigating the technical side yesterday and discovered my major concern was how to position the camera so my double chin didn't show. That aside I intend to spend today preparing and practising my 'talk' so I come across like a seasoned professional. No, don't laugh, I can do this.

Monday, November 19, 2018

In which we decide that running is not good for you

We saw an old i.e. older than me, man running in the woods this afternoon. George and I looked at each other.
George shook his head, 'Can't be good for you,' he said.
'No,' I agreed. 'Loads of runners have heart attacks.'
I had a think. 'I'm sure I heard of one.'
'Too much of a chance to take then,' George said.
I agreed.

Anyway meandering and scrunching leaves is much more fun.

Trench rats as big as cats

blackout poetryRemember I mentioned having a go at blackout poetry? On Armistice Day? Well, here it is.

The Rats
Then there were the rats.
Trench rats as big as cats.
Fed off the bodies of men left to rot
in the muddy waters of the trenches. 
So used to soldiers
they didn't run away
like rats back home.

It's fun to do. Just find a piece of prose and go from there.

Considering mortality and reversing time

Husband was sitting at his computer when I got home the other evening. I kissed him on the head and said, 'You love me, don't you?'
'What have you done?' he said without a flicker.
'I reversed the car into a wall.'

He laughed and I was relieved. 

He didn't laugh when he went out and looked at the car. 'You must have been going fast to do that much damage!'
'No, I wasn't! How fast could I go reversing in an underground car park?'
'You must have been. You've damaged all those bits! It's going to cost a fortune.'

It wasn't strictly my fault. At least not totally my fault. When the car is in reverse Mini beeps if she gets even a little bit close to something.
'Mini didn't beep!' I said.
Husband looked at me doubtfully.
'She didn't!'
'You mean you didn't hear her. You were too busy talking to GrandSon4 in the back.'
'No! She didn't. Nuora can tell you.'

'She didn't beep,' I said at the time to Nuora. 'She didn't beep, did she? I didn't hear her. Did you hear her? Did she beep?'
'I didn't hear her,' Nuora said.

Husband is taking Mini to the repair shop for an estimate today. I am not looking forward to that.

It did unnerve me though. I was very cautious driving to the shop yesterday and I'm starting to think perhaps I shouldn't drive in the dark. Perhaps I should become a proper old woman and not go out alone after dark in the car. (It wasn't dark in the car park by the way.)

This in turn made me consider mortality. I'm 66 and I feel young. Too young to be old. But these things will happen to me in time. I just hope it's not too soon.

How to double your money and get things for free

'You can get double value on your points at Sainsburys,' Husband said yesterday morning just as I was about to go shopping.
I looked at him blankly.
'You can convert some of your reward points to vouchers for twice the value.'
I still wasn't absolutely sure what he meant or that he'd got it right - it seemed very generous - but I said I'd check when I got there.

Sure enough he was right. Only two catches: the vouchers were only valid for certain goods; and it ended at 4.00 pm that day.

I swapped £50 of reward points (loyalty points that I'd been collecting for years) for £100 of vouchers. Then my problem started.

I had to spend all £100: they didn't give change or refund points. I must have spent a good (or bad) two hours wandering around the clothes, Christmas decorations, gifts (but not edible), books, toys, housewares before concluding this was going to be difficult. 

In the end I had to buy myself two jumpers to take the value up. It was tough but someone had to bear the brunt. (I'm lying: the two jumpers were the first things I put in my trolley.)

But as I explained to Husband when I came home it meant I got £100 of stuff 'for free!'
'Not for free,' he said. 'For £50,' he said.
'No, because that wasn't real money.'

Wish I'd known about the offer earlier then I could actually have bought something that someone might want. Teach me not to read giant signs all over the shop.

Emptying my brain before filling it again

Husband tells me he knew a Trevor who went everywhere by bus. At least now I know the inspiration for my jotting even if I don't know where it's going, if anywhere. Even on the bus. Actually I have a bus pass; perhaps I could spend a day travelling around Swansea on the bus place- and people-watching and come back with loads of ideas. Hmm. But not before Christmas.

* * * * * * * * * 

I managed to catch my new(-ish) gilet on a bramble and it has a tiny tear from which stuffing is escaping. I showed it to Granddaughter2 saying I'd have to mend it. 'Yes,' she nodded solemnly. 'You'll have to sellotape it.'

A girl after my own heart. Her mother, my daughter, is a keen sewer, a fact that has often made me wonder could she be a changeling. So I'm pleased to see GrandDaughter2 believing in her grandmother's lazy way of repairing hems and the like. Although she's only three; she has time to be radicalised.

* * * * * * * * *

We didn't have a bathroom when I was growing up - hard to believe these days when even children sometimes get their own en-suite - and had to make do with bathing in the scullery. We were quite posh: we had a bath that was plumbed out i.e. the water could get out, but we had to use a hose from the ascot heater on the far wall to fill it.

When I was in my early teens my mum applied for a grant to put in a bathroom. Sadly she only got to enjoy it for a few years before her fatal stroke, that happened in the bathroom incidentally. But I'm getting off the point. 

We lived with my grandparents and my gran by now was in her sixties. My mum went out to work so my gran paid one of her younger sisters to clean the bathroom. I remembered this when I was thinking about the possibility of having a cleaner. 

My first reaction, apart from, 'Oh I would love a cleaner,' is guilt, of course. Betraying my working-class roots. My great-grandfather was a fierce socialist - although he put aside his strong feelings when he realised the best billiard table was in the Conservative Club - while his daughter, my grand-mother, voted Tory. (Yuck wash out my mouth.) I guess she had aspirations. But the point I'm making is, if my gran could have a cleaner and my great-granddad allow personal desire to overcome scruples then I guess I can too.

Although I'm not in Husband's good books at the moment. See next post. Or previous post. Whichever way you're reading them.

* * * * * * * * *
No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
I'm currently reading the latest from the No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, The Colours of all the Cattle.

In it Mma Ramotswe considers the question, 'what point is there to my life?' Naturally it made me think along similar lines. What's the point of my life?

I suppose the basic point of life is to procreate, to ensure survival of the species. I've done well at that but that is looking at the very simplest most basic level. Beyond that there are all sorts of possibilities.

But how many of us accomplish our point in life? Does there have to be a point? And for it to count does that point have to be beneficial to others? 

I think I'm going to have to think about this a bit more and write another post later before I depress myself thoroughly by coming to the conclusion I have no point. 

* * * * * * * * * 
A beautiful sunny late afternoon on the beach.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Let's go cwm-doooonnnnkin!

We've been doing the rounds of Swansea parks lately, combining visits to the midwife (for Nuora obviously) with a trip out in the sunshine. First it was Singleton then Brynmill and yesterday Cwmdonkin.

Dylan Thomas who lived just down the road from Cwmdonkin Park played there as a boy and used it as the setting for a poem, The Hunchback in the Park. His memory is celebrated with an engraved rock and this bust.
On a beautiful November day the park was still clothed in its autumnal best.

cwmdonkin park autumn colours

The park, which is in a wonderful location high on the hill over-looking the bay, is very popular with dog-walkers and children who enjoy the playground and not-so-young ones who love the zip slide.

Busy whizzy Lizzie gets excited

I always smile like this when cleaning
I resolved to be super-whizzy today and clean the bathroom, bedroom and stairs before lunch. I did it. Go me!

Husband came into the bathroom while I was scrubbing the shower. 'How does the shower get so dirty' I asked, 'when all we do is wash in it?'
Husband laughed - when he'd spat out his toothpaste - and said, 'We'll get a cleaner, shall we?'

I ignored his comment at the time thinking he was being facetious but then I started thinking how lovely it would be to have someone come in once a week to clean the bathroom. Nothing else. I just hate cleaning the bathroom and don't do it often enough. So next time I ventured downstairs I said, 'Were you serious about getting a cleaner?' Expecting him to laugh again.
But he said, 'Yes.'
'Holy moley,' I said, 'I would love that. Only for the bathroom. I don't mind the rest.'
'Okay, when we've finally sorted out Uncle's estate you can have a cleaner.'

I spent the rest of my cleaning time singing joyfully.

It seems terribly decadent to have a cleaner, after all, I'm retired and, in theory, have plenty of time for cleaning. But we can afford it so 'poops!' to decadence. I have grandchildren to play with and books to write. Not to mention a blog. Although I tend to do more blogging on my cleaning days than at any other time. It's because I'm writing posts in my head as I clean not because I'm avoiding cleaning, honest. Oh yes I can multi-task: today I was cleaning, thinking and getting hot feet all at the same time.

I'm recording our conversation here today so when the time comes - although that could be any time over the next few years - I can say to Husband, 'Look, you said ...'

P.S. Searching for an image I was stunned by the number of websites dedicated to cleaning a shower - the natural way, the easy way, the smear-free way, the never-have-to-clean-it-again way. I could go on but I got bored. Reading about cleaning is even more boring than cleaning.

Trevor went everywhere by bus

Looking for a new notebook on my shelf I came across this one, a present from one of my children.
Like Baldrick I have lots of great ideas and cunning plans although looking in this notebook you wouldn't think so. The only entry is this:
'Trevor went everywhere by bus.'

I'm guessing it was once a great idea I had for a short story ...

Feel free to finish it.

The wind blew in on poor old Granny

Of course the first place we go when we go on an outing anywhere is the tea shop. Well, we've driven for at least an hour so we need refreshment. The tea shop in Castell Coch used to be the butler's and housekeeper's room and is at the bottom of one of the towers - so it's a funny shape.

I couldn't resist this opportunity to have a photo of a granny in a cranny.
granny in a cranny
Through every nook and every cranny
the wind blew in on poor old Granny.
From Granny by Spike Milligan

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Whatever happened to the Christian hymn-writers?

One of the guys in Zac's last night said to me, 'How are you enjoying the book?'
Wearing my now familiar blank face I pondered for a moment, came up with nothing then said, 'Which book?'
'The story of Christian hymn-writers.'

There were a number of answers he could have given, some more likely than others but that one certainly hadn't occurred to me.

'The story of Christian hymn-writers?'
'I gave it to you a few weeks ago.'
'I came out to the car, remember?'
'Um ... er ... yes ... I wonder what I've done with it then.'
'You probably stuck it in the glove compartment.'
'Er, yes.' Except the glove compartment is full of tissues and sweeties. 'I'll have to have a hunt around. I must have put it somewhere safe,' I said with more confidence than I felt still having absolutely no memory of it. And normally a bell will ring in my brain at some point of breakthrough but nothing was happening.

This morning while putting something in the pantry I noticed the jar of honey this man had given me a few weeks' ago. That he'd come out to the car to give me.

One of us is going crazy. Betting is still on me but at least there is doubt now.

Trouble is, by the next time I see him I'll have forgotten about the book, the honey and everything in between so we could have the same conversation.

* * * * * * *
When it's someone's birthday in Zac's I put candles on a cake and we sing happy birthday. Now it happens that my birthday is on the same date as another of the study leader's and we were both there last night. If it had just been my birthday I'd have ignored it but I felt that Steve shouldn't have to miss out because of me so I tried to get the candles and singing organised without getting directly involved: it's a bit much when you have to stick your own candle in, arrange for it to be lit, and start the birthday singing. But that's what happened. Honestly I don't know why I bother.

Yes, I do. 

When he was little and then when his mum was pregnant I had a lot to do with one young boy. Last night he gave me a birthday present: a necklace saying, 'Love you to the moon and back'.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Would you want a monkey watching you sleeping?

 Castell Coch is often described as a fairy-tale castle. It's on a hillside outside Cardiff and we've driven past it hundreds of times. The original medieval castle was almost completely destroyed but in the 18702 it was rebuilt for the Third Marquess of Bute. At the time he was one of the richest men in the world and no money was spared in the rebuilding and decoration even though the castle was only ever a summer residence or convalescent home for Marquis' sick children. William Burges, the art-architect, was given free rein in the design

As befits the birthday girl, a banqueting table. A lot of the walls had stencil designs originally.
Detail from Drawing Room wall
Today the castle is owned by CADW and is having work done on it so there is scaffolding all over the outside - so no photos out there.

The drawing room ceiling.

Lord Bute's bedroom. If he fancied a bit of a cuddle he needed to go up a narrow windy staircase to his wife's room.

Lady Bute's bedroom

They don't make bathroom units like this any more.
The ceiling of her ladyship's bedroom

Including a mural of monkeys.

Very lovely but I'm not sure I'd want them in my bedroom.
Reminds of Great-auntie Vi who after decorating realised she had monkeys on her front room walls.

Your faces drowning in the pages of the sea

Yesterday as you know was Remembrance Sunday, more significant this year because it's one hundred years since the end of the first world war and the creation of Armistice Day on the 11th day of the 11th month.

Danny Boyle, renowned film maker and creator of the London Olympics opening ceremony turned his eyes to the sea for this special commemoration. In various locations through the United Kingdom images were created in the sand of people who'd died during the first world war, each location having a person local to it. so the woman commemorated on Swansea Beach was Dorothy Mary Watson, a 18-year-old munitions worker who was killed, along with another young woman, in an explosion at the factory.

One time Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy wrote a poem, The Wound in Time, that was available to listen to on head-sets, was printed on the back of all the postcards and was read at the final ceremony of the day.

As well as that lots of different events and activities were taking place, in Swansea, in and around the Civic Centre and Waterfront museum.

I had a ball! And learned a lot.

I made a poppy, listened to a talk about the first world war (about which I am amazingly ignorant), tried my hand at black-out poetry, wandered in among the sand-raked figures and saw the Emergency Doctor who gave me a prescription of poetry. I didn't make a flag because they'd run out of sticks, I didn't sew - because I don't - and I wasn't able to stay until the end to see Dorothy's image revealed - and then washed away by the sea - but it was all so fab. Huge thanks and well done to all those involved in the organisation.

The first cabin I went into had a display on the wall of some of the postcards remembering Welsh dead. One of the first I looked at had my surname! That morning Husband and I had been discussing how neither of us knew of any close relatives killed in the first world war. My grandfather had a bullet that went straight through him that he survived but tat seems to have been the closest we came. I don't think this young man is any relation of Husband's (who's from Derby in the Midlands) but it was interesting to see.

The man giving the talk had the bearing of a soldier but was an actor. I didn't know that the 'trenches' went on for 400 miles or the exact cause of the first world war. Actually I don't think anyone is absolutely sure what happened as it all seemed to get out of control during the august when countries left, right and centre were joining in, including Japan (?). Of course I had to have a go at lifting the rifle and I now have new respect for Corporal Jones.

Helmets couldn't protect from a direct hit. This helmet belonged to the man who was a neighbour of the speaker's gran (did you follow that?) and he survived as the bullet that went through his helmet only skidded his skull. And I'm not sure that even Izal could guard against the kind of infection that would have been rife in the flooded trenches. 

The Emergency Poetry ambulance had a doctor in residence who was offering 10-minute consultations and individually prescribed poems. I leapt at the chance.
She said, because I was such a severe case, she would prescribe three poems: Postscript by Seamus Heaney, Grace by Esther Morgan and Mary Anne Sailor's dream of the Garden of Eden from Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas. To be taken with a pot of tea, sitting in a light place, listening to birdsong.
If you didn't have time for a consultation you could take a capsule from one of the appropriately labelled bottles.


Members of the public were encouraged to do their own silhouette in memory of a family member or friend.

Pages of the sea

I met a couple form Northern Ireland. The man did this image of Edmund de Wind using his umbrella. His grandfather knew the soldier and the man himself was named Edmund after him. Edmund de Wind was born in County Down in Ireland and was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for bravery.

Do you remember Nuora, GrandSon4 and I decorated plates a few weeks ago? They were on display in this mobile exhibition centre.

The poppy I made.
I'll finish with a few lines from The Wound in Time by Carol Ann Duffy.

What happened next?
War. And after that? War. And now? War. War.
History might as well be water, chastising this shore;
for we learn nothing from your endless sacrifice.
Your faces drowning in the pages of the sea.

I do birthdays better than the Queen

On Saturday I declared my birthday officially started. It wasn't actually until today (Monday) but I like to do things in style. You're not 66 every day after all. 

Day 1, Saturday evening Husband cooked dinner. For starters we had braesola, green salad and parmesan - one of my favourites - followed by Husband's special, cottage pie. It is delicious. If you ever get the chance to taste it do so! Although you'll have to fight me off first.

We'd planned to watch the Wales versus Australia rugby game on BBC iplayer in the evening ... but it wasn't there. The only hiccup in an otherwise perfect day. But they won so that was a special bonus.

Sunday morning Husband went shopping for food for the party tea while I had some 'me' time, wandering around all the events that formed part of  the Pages of the Sea Armistice celebration. I'll do a separate post on that because it was very special.

Tea-time and let the fun commence. Children, grandchildren, dogs all joined in the celebrations (sadly not Elder Son and family but all the rest) with a splendid party tea followed by cake made by Daughter.
pavlova birthday cake
And that was day 2.

Day 3, my actual birthday, began with breakfast in bed then an outing to Castell Coch, again more details in another post - this post is ALL about me.

Now I'm writing my blog before Husband takes me to Bistrot Pierre for dinner. It's quite hard finding restaurants that open on Mondays; we've been caught out before.

I still have boxes of Maltesers and packets of Malteser truffles plus a round of Italian hazelnut chocolate to enjoy so I think my birthday will go on for a little longer.

This is the card Husband gave to me - when he'd finally written it about an hour ago. Spot the deliberate mistake.

And the watch I asked for. The first watch I was ever given came in a glass slipper - a Timex Cinderella watch. This one wasn't in a glass slipper but has big clear numbers and even a little light for when it's dark. I have no more excuses for being late.

Friday, November 09, 2018

No such thing as too much glitter

You can't have too much of a good thing. That's what they say. (Or do they say you can have too much? Can't remember. Shall check.)

But for the purposes of this post, I'd like to suggest that you can. And that I did.

I am one of those persons who has little spatial awareness. If I am trying to work out which pan to use for cooking I have to ask Husband. Either that or I dirty every pan in the house trying it out. So a bowl of leftover spicy Mediterranean vegetables and a jug of leftover roast cauli, broccoli and carrots looked to me as if it would make a nice bowlful of healthy food for lunch.

The fact that I couldn't get it all in one bowl plus the fact that it never emptied, no matter how much I ate, soon put me right. 

You can have too much of a good thing as, no doubt, my belly will be telling me later on. What I really need now, to counteract all the flatulence-inducing fibre, is a nice bit of chocolate ...

* * * * * * * *
The assistant in the charity shop commented on a pack of Christmas cards I was buying. She liked them so much she decided to get some for herself. 'They're not too sparkly,' she said. 'I don't like too much sparkly.'
'You won't like these then,' I said, showing her another pack of cards I'd chosen that were, literally, covered in glitter. 'Or these,' holding up my sparkly Doc Martens.
'No,' she said. 'My aunt likes glitter but it gets all over the house.'
And your problem is ...?

With GrandDaughter2 passionate about glitter we have a regular trail of it all over our house.

* * * * * * * *
Murder and Mayhem bookshop Hay
When I was cleaning I was thinking about words. The Oxford Dictionary Word of the Day is abecedarian meaning arranged alphabetically. Who knew that? (Stu maybe?)

(I doubt the books in the shop on the left are abecedarian but the photo reminds me that I am in need of a trip to Hay soon.)

And on 6th November, as the president of the USA was campaigning, there was a particularly apposite word: rodomontade, meaning boastful or inflated talk or behaviour. 

I was thinking about words because of the interestingness of these two but also because Sonata mentioned embroil in a comment on an earlier post. It always seems to be politicians who get embroiled, frequently in 'scandalous affairs,' or 'money-laundering schemes.'

I'd like to say that I'd learn a new word a day but I know I won't remember it unless I use it regularly. I tried to learn my mobile number and had it for a while but as no-one asked me for it I've now forgotten it again. Which is possibly more of a reflection on my social life than my memory.

And now I'm maundering (talking in a rambling manner) so I'll stop.

Three things to do on a Friday morning before 11.30

'I'd like an appointment with Mark, please, on Friday.'
'Nine o'clock is the only time he can do it.'
'Oh. Okay, I can get there for that.'

Having set the alarm last night I then proceeded, as always, to wake up roughly every hour just in case I'd somehow slept through the alarm/it hadn't gone off. 

By 11.30 this morning I was home again having had my hair cut and coloured, done some Christmas shopping and caught the bus back.

Liz Hinds author
I don't quite know what to do with myself now; I'm still a little shell-shocked after getting up so early. So I've wasted some time taking a photo of myself. Quite a bit of time. In most attempts I'd either lost my head or I was tiny and blurry. (Actually I look at my best through a slight blur.)

Now I will have lunch and do some cleaning. Or possibly have a little nap.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Knickers, suspenders and bras

Today I was reminded of the days when women bought their bras and knickers - and corsets - from the little shop around the corner.

And it was a little shop, not much bigger than the study in which I sit now. I wish I could remember the name of the shopkeeper. I want to say Miss Kemp but Kemp's was the 'large' drapery store on the main road. That was where my mum took me for my Ladybird clothes.

But the little shop around the corner was where my gran and my mother bought their underwear. Miss - let's call her Morgan - would pull out the appropriate drawer from under the counter or from the shelves that lined the wall and display her collection of right-sized knickers, each in their cellophane casing. (Did they have cellophane then? I'm sure I remember it thus.) The choice must have been limited but a visit always resulted in a sale.

The reason for this reminiscence is the glass-fronted display unit I saw on the pavement today. I assume it was being thrown away - and I was so tempted to say, 'I'll have it!' which would have been so silly but jolly good fun.
And nylons and suspender belts and all those unmentionables.

I must try and find out the name of the shop-keeper. It will annoy me otherwise. I remember Miss Killa from the shoe shop and Kath Eley who ran the local taxi service - her car in other words. And Taylors grocer's on the corner, with its dark wood panelling, open boxes of biscuits and counter service. It later became Masons and eventually self-service. That was where, on her first visit, my Auntie Grace wandered around filing a trolley and then straight out of the door and across to Fortes the ice cream parlour - without paying. The staff watched her and laughed. Everyone knew everyone then.
Taylor's on the corner of Dunns Lane

P.S. The FaceBook group, So you think you know Swansea? turned up trumps again. The shop-keeper was called Peggy Thomas.

Brexit's a right imbroglio

In the car en route to my speaking engagement (doesn't that sound grand?) I was listening to Jeeves and Wooster on the radio and Bertie used the term imbroglio.

The only time I have heard the word used in recent years (okay, not that recent) is in relation to Natalie, and she probably spells it differently. In fact I wasn't sure how to spell it but I made an educated guess and was able to look it up in the dictionary. 

A confused mass or perplexing situation. It's a wonder I'm not more familiar with it as Bertie Wooster's life is one large imbroglio.

I shall have to try to use it in conversation, maybe saying, 'Brexit's a right imbroglio, isn't it?'

Apparently it can also be embroglio, from the Italian, meaning confusion.

'Just call me Mean Eyes'

On our walk this afternoon I noticed a cat across the road. I could tell from George's body language that he had seen it too. There was a moment's impasse. Then the cat scampered away.
'Wow, George,' I said, 'you scared him away with just a look.'
George gave a debonair eyebrow raise. 'That's why they call me Mean Eyes.'
I looked at him. 'Nobody calls you Mean Eyes.'
For a moment he looked discombobulated then he said, 'The cats do!'

I couldn't bear to rain on his parade so I apologised for not knowing. He graciously accepted my apology and we continued the walk with a renewed vigour in George's stride.

We all have to make believe.

And here for your delectation, the debonair George and Mr Clooney.

Miss Petitfour and Miss Pettigrew

I ordered a book for GrandDaughter1, aged nearly 9. It arrived yesterday, I sat down and read it myself. It is a delight.

Miss Petitfour
The Adventures of Miss Petitfour is old-fashioned in the very best way. Whimsical with hints of Mary Poppins. But also it's about books and writing and words.

Miss Petitfour and her sixteen cats enjoy having adventures that are just the right size and that's what they do in these four short stories. With a few digressions along the way. Hint: digressions play a very large part in this book.

"Certain words are like twists of crumpled paper jammed into the hole in the bottom of a leaky pail, to keep the story from spilling out too quickly. Words like, MEANWHILE, IT IS INTERESTING TO NOTE, and THAT REMINDS. Adults use these words all the time when they are afraid things are getting too exciting."

The author, Anne Michaels, also wrote Fugitive Pieces, that I failed to finish but there is so much about this book that I love. I may have to keep it myself and buy another copy for GrandDaughter.

I can't recommend it for a 9-year-old as she hasn't read it yet but I highly recommend it for a weary granny. *****

Miss Petitfour, obviously, reminded me of Miss Pettigrew, another whimsical tale, this time for adults and another I would highly recommend.

In Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day the middle-aged governess is sent to the wrong address by her agency. Instead of a household full of children she finds her new employer is a night club singer and her life takes an unexpected turn.

Originally published in 1938 this was re-discovered and published by the wonderful Persephone Books.

But what if I wet myself?

st samlet church
Of course it was fine. A warm welcome from a lovely group of women who said nice things to me afterwards and were generous in their donations of food and money.

With these things I know I will be alright once I start to speak - as long as I've prepared properly - but it's just the pre-event nerves: will I find the right room?, will they be nice? will they be responsive? Although this time I think I might have gone from normal stress level to 'now that's just silly' when I said to Husband just as I was leaving, 'What if I wet myself?'

When he'd stopped laughing Husband said, 'They'll all be older women; they'll understand.'

I'm not in the habit of wetting myself, you understand; it was just one of those thoughts that suddenly crops up when you're least expecting it.

Apart from a minor panic on the way - a combination of realising that I didn't actually know where Llansamlet was (or rather I realised it wasn't where I thought it was) and thinking that Ms Sat Nav was sulking and not speaking to me - I found the church easily. And I was wonderful, of course. And just before I left I said, 'By the way I'm a writer. If you ever want me to come and talk about writing or my books I'd be happy too.'

Remind me of this post next time I'm preparing to give a talk.