Saturday, December 31, 2005

31st December, 2005

So, New Year resolutions.

When I was a little girl every year I made the same resolutions: I will not be shy; I will not bite my nails.

They look better in the photo than they are.

So this year, instead of negative resolutions, I am going to make positive ones: I will lose weight; I will be disciplined; I will ignore the voice in my head that says, 'this is rubbish - call yourself a writer?'

I will also write. As opposed to playing solitaire or Tetris or doing any of the hundreds of other things I find to waste my time. When someone says, 'Are you in work on Wednesday?' I will say, 'Yes.' Not in the bookshop or in Linden but at home writing. Or researching, submitting, filing rejection letters. I will also get on with writing in the mornings i.e. I will get up in the mornings.

And I think that is enough.

Happy New Year to one and all!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Look what Santa brought me!

Though how he managed to get her on our drive without me noticing is beyond me.

Meet Betty the Beetle. At 33, she is ever-so-slightly younger than me and much more gorgeous.

I am, without doubt, the most blessed woman on the planet. And not just because of Betty.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Man at the top

Great-aunt was so pleased with the heating allowance and the council tax rebate that she sent a card to Tony Blair saying what a great man he is. Today she had a note of thanks, personally signed by him. I don't suppose he gets many letters telling him he's doing well.

Had a Christmas lunch with the Sparklets today. They're taking a break while Em has her baby so the office will be a little quieter and less interesting for a while.

Must try not to eat so much chocolate.

I've just noticed what time it is. I usually try to avoid posting at around this time as I don't like the number seven.

It's been a while

Life has been fairly busy of late. Enjoyable but full.

Thursday evening, it was round to uncle John's to meet the neighbours for a Christmas/birthday drink. Met Harvey who liked a little drop of whisky in his tea. Perhaps I should try my Harvey on that.

The Linden staff ( for want of a better word) met here for a celebratory end-of-term lunch on Friday. Very jolly. I enjoyed it; I hope others did too! I especially enjoyed finishing off the bread and butter pudding Lanni made.

Friday evening it was a change of scene as Maggi and I went to the Brangwyn to listen to the Dunvant Male Voice Choir. Lots of rather posher than us people.

Saturday and it was uncle John's 80th birthday party at our house. I was really quite terrifically well-organised, apart from not actually being dressed when the first guests arrived. A houseful of ladies in their seventies and eighties drank gin and champagne until well past my bedtime. Two things of note: no men were invited, except those that came along as 'plus one'; we should have removed one of our sofas and replaced it with tall chairs as the elderly cannot get out of sofas.

In between preparing for the party I also worked on the piece Tim B had asked me to write for Sunday morning on incarnation. Was still working on it Sunday morning but it went okay.

Unlike the afternoon rehearsal for the drumming. I couldn't start in the right place, finish in the right place or remember what I was doing in between places. Still it was all right on the night. The audience particularly liked our white bums as we left the stage. Note: next time, make sure chairs are dusted before use. Next time! Am I assuming there will be a next time?

Monday had flowers delivered to the door. I do love having flowers delivered to the door especially when they're for me and not for the lady down the road who is out and 'could you look after them until she gets in?' So that's twice I've had flowers delivered that are actually for me. And from my uncle each time. Husband should take lessons from uncle if he wants to have a gang of adoring women at his 80th birthday party.

And so that was that. A calm down up to Christmas now, just shopping, visiting, relaxing. And fighting with cat. Charlie has been staying with us while daughter and husband have been tripping round visiting. I feed her, let her out, talk nicely to her, play with her and still she turns on me. Why do cats do that? The cat we bought with house was the same. She would lie on your lap and let you stroke her and suddenly she would bite you! It must be a cat thing. Charlie will get her come-uppance tomorrow when they collect new puppy. Tee hee. She will soon regain her place of dominance though.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Sharing my wisdom

I am so well-organised that I feel I owe it to the world to offer some advice on cleaning. First of all a little test.

A girl I knew lived at home with her parents. When they went away on holiday she cleaned the skirting and picture rail 'as a nice surprise' for them. If someone cleaned your skirting would you a) be overjoyed; b) notice?

If the answer is a), then you shouldn't read any further; I wouldn't want to upset you.

Now for the rest of us, my advice is simple and can be summed up in five words. Yes, that's right, just five words. They are 'Clean where you can see.' This obviously doesn't include behind sofas or above eye-level. There are only two reasons for anyone to look above eye-level: they are lying on the floor in a drunken stupor - in which case they won't notice the cobwebs - or they are your potential mother-in-law. If the latter is the case, I suggest you reconsider your choice of spouse.

What is it?

I am way too organised and that can only mean one thing: what have I forgotten? I had better consult The List.

To say that the house would be clean without a Harvey is of course an exaggeration. But not much of one. How can one dog shed so much hair and still have a coat-full?

Me and the broom just did a waltz to the Harry Potter Waltz, but it was Viennese so I couldn't do it very well. But the broom didn't complain.

The list of films I want to see is growing. Harry Potter is there as is The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Narnia, and I have this vague recollection that there is something else. What could it be, I wonder. Perhaps we'll get to see some over the holidays. Husband is off for three weeks and plans to redecorate the bedroom and prepare the bathroom for when we get round to deciding what we want done in there. That's not as bad as one year when he decided to decorate the kitchen before Christmas and it was nail-biting stuff to see if we'd get a floor down before I needed to cook Christmas dinner. Or the year he did the dining-room.

If we are having a party for eighty-year-olds we need gin, don't we? Most of them are women and everyone knows that gin is mother's ruin.

Why is it...

that when I wake up in the night I can't get back to sleep but when the alarm clock goes off it's no problem to fall asleep?

I was very hot in bed last night. I can't decide if it was hormones, if I'm going down with a cold or whether it was the result of having my dressing-gown on top of my duvet on top of my hot water bottle on top of me.

I still haven't decided about my jigsaw. At least, I have probably decided but haven't done anything yet. I will work around it for a bit longer.

The moon tonight will be full and appear brighter than it has done for the last eighteen years. It is at its highest point in the sky, closest to the sun. It was peeking out between clouds last night so let's hope it will be clear tonight. I would hate to miss it.

While I was searching for Christmas decorations in the attic (yes, I was very brave), I came across, amongst other things, some of the books my children had when they were little (I am keeping them to read to any grandchildren I may have). Ah, lovely books, Jill Murphy, the Ahlbergs, even Albert Herbert Hawkins, the naughtiest boy in the world. Although I think Harvey is making a bid for that title. ... It's no good coming and nudging my arm for cuddles when you keeping barking. ... no, I'm only scratching you because I want to, not because you want me to. ... and barking again will not help.

Angelo, who dogsat Harvey when we were away, has decided that any girl he marries will have to sign a pre-nuptial agreement to never have a dog.

No, spellchecka, I do not want to change 'naughtiest' to 'mightiest'; just whose side are you on?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Still cleaning

While sticking up the thing that the cards go in, I discovered a piece of Blu-tack on the wall from where it was hung up last year. That could have really upset me if I were the sort of person who cared about these things.

Now I have a dilemma. Some time ago I started a jigsaw. it is an enormous jigsaw and I haven't finished it yet. I'm left with the boring bits to do. Now, I need to clear it away so do I roll it up as it is on my jigsaw mat or do I dismantle it? It is so big it is practically at the very edges of the mat so if I roll it up it might fall off; on the other hand, I hate to give up on a jigsaw. On the third hand I know I will have lost interest in it by the time I go back to it. You know how it is: you sort of get your eyes into the particular way of seeing for each jigsaw and it will take me ages to find that again.

I seem to be coming down on the dismantling side. Perhaps I'll have some lunch while I'm thinking.

Green fingered?

Not me. I have had my poinsettia less than a week and it's already dying. That must be a record even for me. I haven't given up hope though. I've given it a nice long drink and I'm playing Classic FM to it in the hope that it will think, with such beautiful music in the world, life must be worth living.

Bad decision of 2005: buying a new suite in cream. I shall have to make sure the room is always lit by candles so no-one will notice the beetroot stain. And the general state of ground-in dirt. It would help if Harvey didn't rub his head on the side of the arm when he gets an itch.

Shh, don't tell him but his Christmas present arrived today. It's a new (whisper) bed. I don't know why I'm whispering; he doesn't hear me when I'm standing next to him talking to him these days.

Number one son is in Spain looking forward to Austrian mulled wine and mince pies. How cosmopolitan my family is!

Part of the purpose of last week's visit to the in-laws was to exchange gifts. All fine and dandy except we brought home a gift from one sister-in-law intended for the other sister-in-law. And it's about the size and weight of a small kennel.

Spellchecka recognised poinsettia but couldn't cope with beetroot.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

She scrubs up well

You shall go to the ball, Cinderella!


How is it possible, I wonder, to have a carrier-bag full of odd socks? No, more than that: a carrier-bag full of odd black socks. There should be a European standard controlling the manufacture of black socks. And where do the missing ones go? To a secret sock rendezvous. Is it like the Great Escape? Is there a Steve McQueen sock (sports with an M logo) or a Donald Pleasance sock (greyer than the rest)?

Why does smoked fish never taste as good as it did when my granny cooked it for me when I was a little girl?

I am just trying to put off writing more cards now, can you tell? I thought there didn't seem to be as many on my list as last year and I found out why. No, not because last year it was full of cards to Ted and Doris, but because I had just left off lots people as I'm discovering on a daily basis as cards arrive.

'We wish you a wombling merry Christmas.'


I've just realised that husband has gone away without getting decorations down from the attic. That means I will have to brave the scary loft ladder. Not that it's actually scary unless you're a complete and utter wimp. Like me and Harvey. No, I know you don't want to go up it anyway, Harvs, but I'm just pointing out that you're a wimp too. ... You are so.

On our walks these days it takes us a long time to get not far. Except today. We got to where we normally turn back and Harvey wanted to go on; he even cantered. That lasted about five minutes. Just long enough for us to get to the end of the path and for Harvey to think, 'Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all.'

Perhaps he will be too tired to bark aimlessly tonight.

Handy hint for the day: no home should be without a Tubigrip. You never know when you might need one.

Nearly time for Neighbours. I can't believe the new man in Susan's life has got leukaemia. Or perhaps I can.

Monday, December 12, 2005

I'm back

Having laughed at my outfit for the ball husband endeared himself further en route by saying that, of the 50 people going from his works, we were the oldest. I felt really good by the time I got there.

Still the hotel was nice. An l-shaped room with glass along the two outside corner walls. And lovely smelling smellies. I thought guilt might have made him relent and bid for tickets for the England Wales rugby international next spring but he didn't. As the starting bid was £500 I wasn't really surprised.

Got home, cleaned corner of room ready for tree and (a grape just jumped out of my mouth!) went out today to buy new lights for it. Do not think I should be allowed out on my own. Came home with whole new colour scheme for decorations.

Now all I have to do is clean rest of room, decorate trees and some other stuff that I choose not to consider now as it will only depress me. Speaking of depression a man has been trying to get in touch with me for two days; he is phoning again tonight. Husband has refused to answer and take a messagee so I will have to be talk to him. There is nothing really wrong with him it's just ...

We had a Christmas card today. It was addressed to Mrs Liz Hinds and family and was posted in Wales. It is from Ted, Doris and family. (Not their real names.) Now I know several Ted and Dorises but none of them send me a card and I haven't seen them for years. I don't recognise the writing and I haven't a clue who they are. It is rather worrying. At least it would be if I had any room in my brain for any more stuff but it is full.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Simply the worst

On my new Rat Pack Christmas CD there is a recording of Frank singing The Lord's Prayer. Without a doubt it is the worst record in the history of the world. Forget Mr Blobby; forget Celine Dion. This is so bad it makes you wonder what he was thinking in doing it.

You can listen to a little of it here. is before it goes downhill.

It's a sad day...

when you need your glasses to make a cake. You also need dark brown sugar, a fact I knew yesterday as I had it on my shopping list. So it was a shame I didn't buy it.

Fortunately they had it in the shops by school. Fortunately because I could go there without bothering to wash or make myself presentable in any way; if I had had to go to Mumbles it would have been a rugby league game. (Do you like that? A whole different ball game, do you see? Without the cliche. Except no-one will understand it.)

I normally use St. Delia's recipe for Christmas cake but this year I am using Nigel's and it includes lots of interesting fruit like figs and cranberries. I have never chopped figs before; they are very strange. I thought I had read the recipe carefully; it was only after I had chopped the figs that I read the bit about taking out the hard stalk first. Still I don't suppose it matters too much. The cake is basically fruit held together with a bit of glue.

Lots of lovely Christmassy music on Classic FM. And they played my favourite: The Girl with the Flaxen Hair.

Did Carol Thatcher win I'm a celebrity, get me out of here!?

On the 18th day before Christmas

I have perfected the art of getting dressed without getting out of bed. Not many people can say that, I bet. And even less do it.

Today I am making a Christmas cake, or rather I am making a Christmas cake as a birthday cake but it will smell the same. The house will be filled with Christmassy aromas, like burnt newspaper. Perhaps I'll light a Holly Hill candle too.

Started writing Christmas cards last night. It is boring. Then this morning I remembered something I read (maybe on a blog?) that suggested thinking about the person you're sending the card to when you write it. That could be pray for; I'll try and do that when I continue.

The lady at the publishers said they had another collection of monologues to consider as well (as I knew) and that it would take a few weeks to decide as it would 'be difficult'. I suppose I should pray that the collection that can be best used by God will be chosen; or I could just pray, 'choose mine!'

I have arrived: my hairdresser gave me a Christmas kiss!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Gobbolino is ...

a witch's cat.

Tentative steps

Okay, following on from rethink/redirectioning (or rather multi-directioning), I have sent some monologues to Kingsway publishers this morning. They already have another collection being considered but they're willing to look at my work too. They're all Bible characters and I've read lots of them aloud - or had them performed - either in church or in prison. So, God, it's up to you now.

Off to work now. Christmas tree arrived last night - I'm fairly sure it's legit - so we can start decorating it after the morning's class has left. I've just re-read that sentence; it sounds as though a tree mysteriously appeared on the Centre's doorstep. That's a much nicer explanation; shame it's not true. But I can pretend.

Monday, December 05, 2005

It is a truth ...

universally acknowledged that a woman can navigate her way anywhere unless she is thinking about Christmas when asked, 'is it left here?'

I like to think of any unexpected detours as an opportunity to see bits of the countryside you would not normally have seen. A bonus in fact.

A lovely relaxing weekend in beautiful Ffald-y-Brenin. Only hiccup occurred when I realised that the sheet I had taken with me was a single not a double. In true boy scout fashion I resolved the problem by getting us to sleep inside the duvet cover (with the duvet on top). There aren't any problems, only challenges. Or something like that.

He's very handsome but ...

Harvey was so excited when he came in and saw that I had put milk in with his breakfast that he didn't notice where he was putting his foot.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The first one

I saw my first Father Christmas last night! On a tractor.

That's all.

Off to Ffald-y-Brenin this weekend. Looking forward to sleeping, walking, eating, relaxing, reading in front of a log fire.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The countdown begins

Yay, December at last.

And it is absolutely pouring with rain. But at least it's not so cold.

I have searched everywhere I can think of and I can't find my main Christmas CD. I have found three others but not the one I was looking for.

When the children were little and we used to go and do the Christmas visit to grandparents, we'd listen to a Christmas story and music tape in the car. The first story was about Gobbolino, the witch's cat. I can remember it to this day; it was lovely and quite moving. All the other cats would start hissing, 'Gobbolino is a witch's cat, Gobbolino is a witch's cat.' Ourgh, they were nasty. We listened to it so many times that dad refused to have it played any more. I wonder if we still have it.

We've also got a storybook that we'd read in December with stories about the fairy who ate too many mince pies and one - I can't remember the name - about evil trolls and a big white dog who scares them away. Ah, those were the days.

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

And is it true that we have Coca Cola to thank for our image of Father Christmas? Or did I make that up?