Wednesday, May 31, 2006
I once woke up and thought I might be dead - it wasn't too unpleasant - so I suppose it could happen the other way around.
In second place was Rhino Horn Stockpile Management, while Ancient Starch Research came third.
While on a literary theme, according to Writers' News, Candace Carteen is looking for non-fiction stories for a number of anthologies including I Know Why the Fat Girl Cries, I Know Why the Fat Boy Cries, and so on for Military Brat, Mamma, Pappa, Cat Owner, Dog Owner, Thin Girl. Details at - gosh that's a complicated address; I can't be bothered to write it out.
But so much of my mail looks boring that I can't see the point in opening it. I leave it lying on the table in the hall until I get fed-up and throw it away. I usually open it before chucking just in case it is a bank statement or something I need to keep, but no-one interesting ever writes to me.
Then again I never write to anyone so what can I expect?
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
I am force-filling myself full of cranberry juice and barley water (ladies will understand the significance). By late afternoon I will be making swooshing noises as I walk.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
For the first time ever, a fossilised spaceship has been found (by me).
Just because it's small doesn't mean it's not a spaceship. There is absolutely nothing that says that life on other planets needs be the same dimensions as us. There could well be a highly-developed civilisation living on a titchy planet. They might have visited earth while the dinosaurs were here and decided it wasn't worth them inhabiting the planet, so they left us in peace. Except for the spacemen in this ship who sadly died.
Or they survived and have evolved into the Welsh (a race small and highly intelligent by nature).
Now, why on earth would Spellchecka want to change fossilised into vocalists?
Monday, May 29, 2006
On Saturday Harvs and I walked to the playing fields. As well as the gulls and pigeons that are always there, there were ducks ... swimming across the cricket field. Is summer ever going to come?
We've spent most of this Bank Holiday weekend digging. We have a layered garden outside our French doors leading up to the main bit of the garden where we sit (in the summer sun, ha!) I had this brilliant idea that a pond with a little stream trickling into it in place of the always-weedy garden would be a great improvement.
So last summer we bought all the pond stuff and then put it away until we could be bothered. Last week I decided it was time to be bothered and got younger son out digging holes with me. Husband, with YS as gopher, has taken over the development of the pond leaving me to the bit I'm best at - wholescale clearance of the layered beds (I forgot to mention that my plan included a ramp for Harvs who can no longer manage the steps).
Husband is never one to do things half-heartedly. My little trickling stream has become Niagara.
Or it will be when it's finished. Next year maybe?
With the hair he has it could be a woolly mammoth and we wouldn't notice, but I have checked very thoroughly and can find no signs of blood-sucking predators (or mammoths).
And I know about these things: on the morning of my baptism I discovered I had nits.
I suggested that if he wants to stop insects flying into his hair and getting caught, he should cut it all off. He is reluctant to do this; I must admit that I too like his hair as it is.
Excuse me, I have to go and scratch my head.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
We met up again a few years ago for the first time for about twenty years. She hadn't changed: she could still talk for Britain. But what she said puzzled me. I'm afraid my response is another poem, but don't worry, this will be the last for a long time (unless I inflict Dearest Mrs B on you). I wrote this after our meeting and include it here today as a birthday - tribute? no, comment.
For those who know about these things, this is a sonnet. Impressed?
To my cousin
When last we met, my hair was truer brown,
my face was less lined, my dreams still vivid.
We parted as girls; we meet as women.
Twenty years lost in time. We talk about
the past. Do you remember? I recall…
But our memories run on different tracks,
sometimes merging, but more often estranged.
To see it your way with your eyes, to hear
your voice speaking of alienation
is to look afresh at things familiar.
Your truth is unfamiliar to me.
I want to say that it wasn’t like that.
But your wounds are too recently healed
so I hug you and say nothing.
'I'd like to be the first to point out something you've got wrong in the Notices.'
'Yah boo sucks to you, smartarse: I didn't write the Notices. I've been on holiday.'
That is, of course, word for word what was said.
Not very Christian of me to take such delight? No, definitely not. Tee hee hee hee hee, as Muttley might say.
And all I can imagine is a portly gent in a dark suit carrying a red briefcase.
Who on earth names their child after a Tory Minister? The Brittons did, obviously.
I suppose Leon should think himself lucky that he wasn't named after Cecil Parkinson.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Swansea City Football Club was in a play-off today at the Millennium Stadium. I'm not a football fan and I had to have it explained to me so now I can explain it to you. It seems that once where there were Divisions 1-4, it's now Premier, Championship, and Leagues 1 and 2. And Swansea and Barnsley were competing to see who would go up from League 1 to the Championship. Or in old words, from Division 3 to Division 2.
Even though I didn't understand the whys and wherefores I knew there was a big game - the biggest game of your careers, the manager told the players - and I knew it was happening today. Because it was being shown on Sky (I spit on the name), it meant we couldn't watch it so while I made chilli and flapjacks, i listened to it on BBC Radio Wales.
Now I can listen to rugby games because I can picture what the commentators are talking about; not so with football. I didn't even know the names of the players but, thankfully, we had a suitably biased commentating team on BBC Wales so I could tell when something good - or bad - had happened.
With the score 2-2 at the end of extra time, it went to penalties and Swansea lost.
I wasn't unduly upset. Not like in the World Cup in France in 1998. We happened to be camping in France at the time and gathered in the bar with other Brits to watch England play Argentina. (Younger son has just reminded me that a young lad cheering on the Argies came close to being more than shouted at when he blocked husband's view of the screen: husband gets very edgy at big games.)
That night after England had lost on penalties, I couldn't sleep. It was all so unfair. And this was me, Welsh through and through. It was very disturbing.
Friday, May 26, 2006
The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
The Catcher in the Rye - J D Salinger
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J K Rowling
The Life of Pi - Yann Martel
Animal Farm: A Fairy Story - George Orwell
Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
The Hobbit - J R R. Tolkien
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
1984 - George Orwell
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
The Secret History - Donna Tartt
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C S Lewis
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Atonement - Ian McEwan
The Shadow of The Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway
The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
Dune - Frank Herbert
Sula - Toni Morrison
Cold Mountain - Charles Frazier
The Alchemist - Paulo Coehlo
White Teeth - Zadie Smith
The House of Mirth - Edith Wharton
The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy
Brighton Rock - Graham Greene
The Moor’s Last Sigh - Salman Rusdie
We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Schriver
Disgrace - J M Coetzee
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
The Buddha of Suburbia - Hanif Kuresh
Small Island - Andrea Levy
Titus Groan - Mervyn Peake
Ivanhoe - Walter Scott
Perfume - Patrick Suskind
(The Reader - Bernand Shlink
Father and Son - Larry Brown
Crooked Hearts - Robert Boswell
She's Come Undone - Wally Lamb)
Postcards - E. Annie Proulx
(A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain (stories) - Robert Olen Butler
Defiance - Carole Maso
Being Dead - Jim Crace
And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos - John Berger
Holy the Firm - Annie Dillard
Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance - Stephen HerreroDesert Notes: Reflections in the Eye of a Raven - Barry LopezRiver Notes: The Dance of Herons - Barry LopezThe Great Gatsby - F Scott FitzgeraldRagtime - E L DoctorowThe House of Sand and Fog - Andre DubusThe Last of the Just - Andre Schwartz-BartZorba the Greek - Nikos KazantzakisHousekeeping - Marilynne Robinson)
Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
(The Red Tent - Anita Diamant
A Bell for Adano - John Hersey)
The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
(Herzog - Saul Bellow
Ripening Seed - Colette)
Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
(The Woman Warrier - Maxine Hong Kingston
The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. Le Guin)
The House of the Spirits - Isabel Allende
The Lover - Marguerite Duras
Chocolat - Joanne Harris
Labyrinth - Kate Mosse
Harold and the Duck - Bruce Robinson
A Gathering Light - Jennifer Donnelly
How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff
Something Invisible - Siobhán Parkinson
It was glorious all day.
This morning when he got up it was pouring with rain. Husband said, 'The weatherman said it will stop by 10 o'clock so I won't go to work today: I will have the day off.'
Half-past one it was still raining.
I couldn't help wondering why he only took her halfway up the Hindu Kush. Is it like Snowdon, I wonder. We've never got to the top because it always rains. It doesn't have quite the same ring to it though: halfway up the Snowdon pass.
Throwing myself into the singing, I remarked to Harvey that I wished I could sing. 'So do I,' he said.
'I wonder if I'll be able to sing in heaven. It says that we'll be singing and praising God; he wouldn't want out-of-tune singing, would he?'
'I don't suppose there'll be ironing in heaven either.'
'What about all those angel robes?'
'They'll probably be non-iron. Proper non-iron not like the ones you buy in the shops that say they're non-iron but only are if you don't mind creased shirts. Which Husband does.'
Perhaps we get to have jobs in heaven but they're things we're good at. So I would get a job ... making cheesecake (that is the only thing that comes to mind at the moment that I can honestly claim to be good at). Head angelic cheesecake maker. Only it's Delia's recipe so I would probably have to be Deputy-head angelic cheesecake maker.
It's strange the things you think about when ironing.
'It's strange the things you think about when ironing,' Harvey said. I didn't realise I had said it out loud.
But at least I solved the mystery of the pantry puddle. I don't know if I should tell you about this; you might be too shocked. Ah well.
Last night I spotted a strange puddle in the pantry. I assumed someone had spilt coke and not mopped it up (although no-one pours coke in there).
An aside: what does cocaine actually do for its users? They use it a lot in The Line of Beauty but it doesn't appear to have any obvious effect. It certainly doesn't make them jolly.
Back to the pantry. I cleaned the floor and thought no more about it. Until I got up this morning and found another puddle, this time coming from under the vegetable rack. Cautious investigation led to the discovery of some dissolved rhubarb. There's no other way to describe it.
I had a thorough sort-out, cleaned the racks and floor, and my pantry is fresh again. Now I just have to decide what to do with three shooting leeks, two mouldy carrots and four sprouting potatoes.
Which reminds me about my washing machine. I haven't remembered to buy soda crystals yet but, in the meantime, I have removed the filter and discovered, as well as a load of gungy stuff, a rusty two-pence piece, part of a zip, two buttons and three stones. Clearing this out seems to have got rid of the smell. I don't want to speak too soon and I will do the soda stuff as well but it's looking good.
And the Aggy for total and absolute failure in the cleanliness and hygiene department goes to ... ME!
But, in my defence, let me say that I've raised three children and a dog and they've all survived. More than that, they have hardy tums. When bugs went round the school like a dose of salts, and their friends were throwing up with abandon, my children remained unscathed.
There's a lot to be said for eating a bit of dirt.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
And I used a Lush bath bomb. I dropped it in and went to fetch a towel. When I got back I thought that someone had dropped All Bran into the water. Closer inspection suggested that it might be seaweed. And I was transported back to my childhood.
Our local beach was Rotherslade, a small bay, within walking distance of our home. Sometimes, depending on the current or something (what do you mean 'the current or something'? you're an oceanographer; you should know or at least sound authoritative enough to make people believe that you know) depending on the weather, the prevailing wind and the state of the tide, the sea would be full of seaweed.
When that happened, we didn't stay in the sea for long; there was always the possibility that seaweed, like a giant squid, would wrap itself round your legs and pull you under the waves. In other words, urrggh, it felt horrid!
And that reminds me of the Ocean programme on television last night. I only caught some of it. I was anxiously cheering on the teenage Orca in its battle with a giant squid when younger son said, 'It's not real, you know, Mum.'
'What do you mean?'
I'm not at all sure that I like this merging of truth and make-believe. Bring back Thunderbirds, that's what I say. You know where you are when you can see Lady Penelope's strings.
Husband was supposed to be on holiday this week but went back to work yesterday as the weathermen promised horrendous rainstorms. It was dry all day. Until 3.45 pm just as Harvey and I were setting out on our walk.
The same thing happened on Sunday. Dry until we were mid-walkies. I said to Harvs, 'Why does it always rain on us? Is it because one of us lied when we were seventeen?'
'I didn't,' Harvey said.
'Well, I certainly I didn't!'
'Anyway I'm only 13 and three-quarters so it can't have been me.'
'That's dog years. You are approximately ... 96 and one quarter in human years.'
He just looked at me. Then peed on a bush.
On our walk the other day we - being husband and self not Harvey and self - discussed sense of humour. I had mentioned to brother-in-law that God made me with a sense of humour (thus proving, if you needed proof beyond a warthog and my nose, that He enjoys a good laugh); b-i-l, who doesn't believe in God, said his sense of humour had evolved.
Now that seems to me to be a massive leap. More even than physical evolution. While I may anthropomorphise Harvey (he's asleep so I can say that) (but only just), I do know that he's just a dog. Really. And that when it comes to appreciating, say, Fawlty Towers, well, he wouldn't.
Especially that bit where Basil's car breaks down and after threatening it, he gets a branch and starts beating it. Oh, I can relate to that. But I'm getting distracted - or that infamous bit in Only Fools and Horses - do I need to say more? Where Del goes to lean on the bar and - I'm chuckling as I write.
But you see, Harvey doesn't appreciate that. Would an ape? I wonder if research has been done; it must have been.
And that is physical humour - although Basil and the car lapses into psychological laughs - that doesn't rely on verbal dexterity. Another realm.
Although how anyone can look around this incredible world of ours and not believe that evolution had a guiding hand amazes me.
Still sunny outside. Perhaps Harvs and me had better walk sooner rather than later.
I just remembered: I was sitting in Betty the other day when I saw a car with a dog in the back. The dog had huge ears. i said to myself, 'Why does that dog have big ears? Because Noddy wouldn't pay the ransom.' Then I started laughing hysterically. It's good when you can tell yourself old jokes and amuse yourself. Although best if you don't do it in public car parks.One of the good things about ageing is knowing a song for every situation.
"I don't care what the weatherman says.
If the weatherman says it's raining,
you won't here me complaining.
blah blah blah blah."
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
However the hot flush might have given it away. But I can put that down to my age, can't I? Perhaps next time I should stick to Hello with photos of Kate Moss snogging Jemima Khan for 60 seconds for £60,000. That's much more me. (?)
Well, I'm delighted to present today's hint: how to deal with a charging hippopotamus.
Two important facts to bear in mind.
1) A hippopotamus can run faster than a man (or woman, even one being chased by a hippopotamus);
2) It is impossible to lick your own elbow.
So, if faced with a charging hippo, I suggest that, rather than trying - and failing - to outrun him, you should hold your ground and try to lick your elbow. He will be so puzzled by this, that he will stop and try to lick his elbow. While he is engrossed in trying to find his elbow, you must take the opportunity to find a tree to hide behind.
This is, of course, assuming that the hippo is a 'he' - most females having better things to do than chase men - but should she be a she, then I'm afraid you've had it. She will be far too intelligent to fall for the old 'trying to lick your elbow' wheeze and will trample you.
Still I managed to get a top to wear to the meal. In fact I bought four. Well, the style suits me and it won't be in fashion and available in the shops for long so I have to stock up.
Husband asked why I needed something new as I have clothes in my wardrobe. He forgets that he has two sisters, meaning I have two sisters-in-law. No matter how good I think I look when I leave the house, when I stand next to them, I am in the shade. Don't get me wrong: I am fond of them. They can't help it if they are better at dressing than I am.
I could have done with some help in the changing-room today. What with putting my arm through the zip-hole and getting into a tangle with a tie, I was doing a very good impersonation of woman unable to dress herself.
I forgot to mention the naked man on the beach yesterday. We're not sure if he was naked as we were on the cliff path but he gave that impression. We didn't look too closely as, let's face it, have you ever seen a naturist worth seeing?
I am pleased to report that my fears for my hair were unjustified: Emma did a lovely job. I am no longer a badger but a happy hare. So happy that I am going into the Debenhams's sale this morning to look for something to wear to father-in-law's 80th birthday meal. Remembering the crowds at the last sale I went to at Debenhams, I could be gone some time.
I tried on some dresses yesterday while waiting for the film to start but I am not really a dress person as I am different sizes top and bottom. Also as some kind soul pointed out, I have hairy legs. I would like to make it clear that, in the photo below of my sock, yes, it is my leg but, no, it is not hairy. That is a photographic illusion. I know it is not hairy as I shaved that very morning.
I am going to say something very girly now. I have found an extra bonus delight in our new shower: the rail makes a perfect place to drip bras when it is raining outside.
So, back to the film. The Da Vinci Code was not very good - quite slow, had to do lots of explaining (the past and the sects), and generally lacked the film equivalent of a 'page-turner'. Tom Hanks was better than I expected as the leading character though. I had visualised more of a Harrison Ford character but that may just be because I like HF. And they must have left bits out as it all happened too quickly. But slowly.
A wonderful walk in the sunshine (until it rained) on Tor Bay and Crawley Woods yesterday. So many wild flowers: bluebells, wild roses (the scent of heaven), yellow things, purple things, pink things. I bought a book to identify flowers but a) I never carry it with me; and b) I have never been able to find the flower I am trying to identify in it.
Why is running down sand dunes so pleasurable?
Husband was very sedate. Said he thought he should be as people would feel less scared of me if they saw I had my handler with me. Which was very rude of him. And, anyway, they weren't any people there. This is the advantage of springtime. A footprint-free beach.
I did get him to play cricket with me using a plastic buoy and a bit of boat (he said it was a bit of chair but I prefer to think of it as nautical).
It has clouded over now and looks like rain.
Monday, May 22, 2006
What on earth can make a washing machine smell? Not pleasant that is. All it has in it are water and nice-smelling cleaning stuff. Apart from the dirty clothes of course. But that is what washing machines are for.
And how does the soap powder dispenser get all black and sludgy when absolutely all it has in are soap powder and water?
Any suggestions for making my machine sweet-smelling again would be gratefully received.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Nearly time for Neighbours. Will Steph survive? Will her baby? How will Lynne cope having already lost her husband, one son and two - or is it three - daughters? What is it Toadie has discovered about Katya? Do we care?
Twenty-second of May, 2001
My mother would have been eighty today.
I only realise this sitting in college listening to a reading.
The poet, a tiny American professor, is speaking
of her mother’s seventieth birthday.
I don’t recall the poem.
Earlier the same day my son calls.
His sister has told him to, he says.
She’s worried because I’m sad.
Tangled threads, twisted together.
Meaning and reason
hidden in a knot.
After the bubble burst, and the thick red liquid
flooded the rivers of your mind,
drowning your memories,
you said to me, ‘You’re not Peter, are you?
you look like Peter.’
You forgot my name.
And now I have forgotten you.
Did you prefer tea or coffee? Red wine or white?
What was your favourite colour? Or flower?
Did you still dream of could-have-beens or
glimpse happiness from the upstairs windows of buses?
You loved to garden, I remember that,
to nurture and to tend. To party.
Eighty is worth a party. Tonight
we would have celebrated and I’d have
watched you gathering my children around you,
your eyes full of pride and love.
No hint now of past illusions.
If I choose to tread thorny paths,
or return to unlit rooms
will I find out who you were or why I am?
But for now I’ll do as the professor says.
‘Do something with it,’ she says, ‘you must.’
Not when alcohol is cheaper.
We are on holiday this week, primarily so husband can get cars sorted. Alfie failed his MOT, Brian needs an MOT and Betty is in urgent need of some tender loving welding.
I was rather concerned when the man in the garage, when we showed him the hole in Betty's bottom, tugged at the fragile rust under the battery. He could have waited until she had been booked in to assess what was needed; now who knows what he has loosened? I have to drive round in her until next Tuesday knowing that the bottom could fall out of my car at any moment.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
It is eleven years since Anne died. At the time, her mum promised me a photo of Anne. This afternoon she said she still has the photos spread out where she left them on the dressing-table eleven years ago. Once she'd got them out, she couldn't bring herself to go through them. She wanted me to know that she hasn't forgotten and she will find a photo for me.
The loss of a child is too much.
She also told me that her other son-in-law, our doctor, has had his leg off. I was going to say something flippant but my heart's not in.
Then into prison again. It was pouring with rain and the only coat with a hood that I could find belonged to younger son so I borrowed that. Driving to the prison two thoughts occurred to me:
this coat spells very ... studenty;
I really hope the drugs dog isn't on duty today.
The King's Men (not the ones who couldn't put Humpty together again) were entertaining the inmates. A group of six singers all in white shirts and red ties. A mini male voice choir. Singing rousing hymns about the blood of Jesus and the old rugged cross. They finished and then the leader realised they had a bit of time to spare so asked if the men would like them to do another song. 'No,' came the reply. (There were lots of 'yeses' as well so they did.)
Spelling backwards is easy; it is words like broccoli and cappuccino that catch me out.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Interlude: I just went to the kitchen because I suddenly remembered that I'd made a pot of tea; I got to the kitchen and found I hadn't. But I have now, so remind me in a minute to go and pour it.
Back to Betty. It's quite distracting when you're driving in the rain, waiting for it to flop. Actually driving in the rain is not a good idea in itself as neither wiper wipes as such. But the left wiper just catches me in the corner of my eye and says, 'Here I go! Will I make it to the top before I flop?' It's like those tiny flies that sometimes flit around in front of your face, banging against the windscreen, trying to find a way out. You know you shouldn't watch them but they cry out for attention.
I have my cup of tea now.
We also have a case of wine in the outside toilet. We joined the Virgin Wine Club last year because we had a voucher for £20 off our first case. It's quite good I think. It's good in that if you don't like a particular bottle of wine, they will give you an alternative. But it's not good in that they don't seem to be very organised. This delivery is the first one that has gone the way it's supposed to. Course, I haven't opened it yet so I am only assuming that the contents are as requested.
As someone who doesn't drink wine, the excitement I feel on receiving a new case is quite out of proportion. But I do love the descriptions.
Also had another letter from the Blood Transfusion people today. I do appreciate their concern on my unfortunate reaction to donating blood but I do wish they would stop writing to me. Every time I get a letter from them I think I must have hepatitis or one of the other horrid diseases they test your blood for.
I told someone this and, in a puzzled voice, he said, 'Why would you think that?'
Well, it's natural. Isn't it?
I am beginning to wonder if I am a bit odd. When I do the time on my post, I always set it to a number I like. I don't change the actual time by more than a few minutes, you understand, but, just now for instance, the time on the clock was 4:26 and I don't like 26 very much - although it's better than 27 - so I set my time as 4:25. I don't usually like odd numbers but 5 is the exception.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Of course it's not Anne's garden any more. The family moved away, it must be, six years ago now. But I haven't walked there for ages We only went there today because it seemed a gentle alternative to our usual haunts for Harvey's first excursion since his second funny turn last week.
I can't think of Anne without thinking of cheesecake.
One Autumn day we went for lunch at the Brasserie. They do good lunch deals so by the time we'd finished our starter and main courses we were full little tubbies and we declined pudding.
Instead we drove to a garden centre as Anne wanted some plants. At the entrance to the garden centre is a coffee shop and, as the medication Anne was on made her thirsty, we stopped there. In the chilled display cabinet was a thick golden-creamy cheesecake topped with bright red berries. We looked at each other.
'Well, I will if you will.'
When they brought our coffee and cheesecake we nearly had hysterics. Staring up at us were two of the largest slices of cheesecake this side of America.
Through her giggles, Anne said, 'That'll teach us to be little piggies.'
We both managed to clear our plates though. Just.
Then browsing through the plants afterwards we came across a red and white flowered house plant. We each bought one to remind us of the cheesecake.
I am notoriously bad with house plants but mine lasted slightly longer than Anne did. She died on the Christmas Eve.
'Could I make an appointment with Mark, please?'
'Sorry, he's left.'
'Yes, he's setting up on his own.'
'Um, er, um, oh, thank you.'
And I put the phone down.
How could he do this to me? It took me fifty years to take my hair seriously, find a hairdresser I trusted and could rely on, and he's just upped and left without a by-your-leave. He even gave me a kiss at Christmas. That's men for you, isn't it? They take your favours and then clear off leaving you scarred and broken-hearted.
I had to have a cup of tea to calm myself, and then I phoned again. It probably wasn't the end of the world. Andrew has won prizes for hairdressing; he'd do.
'Could I make an appointment with Andrew, please?'
'Sorry, he's left.'
'Yes, he's setting up on his own.'
'What about ...'
'Julian's left too.'
'Is there anybody still there?'
I eventually made an appointment with Emma on the grounds that they have my colour records there and trying her out was as good/bad an option as trying anyone else.
But I have my spies out. They will let me know when Mark, Andrew and Julian open up their own business. Although should I follow them when I've been treated like this?
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
I watched the new BBC2 drama, The Line of Beauty, last night. I thought it was going to be an updated type of Brideshead Revisited. It was sort of. But BR wasn't quite so ... basic. I think it was the tube of lubricating gel that made me stutter most into my hot brownie and cold ice cream.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Does anyone out there know of anyone who has used it? It looks good - and simple - but, as with any sort of self-publishing, it will be the marketing that will be the difficult bit.
I am fairly disenchanted and doubt that I'll ever find an agent to take me on - let alone a publisher - so have reluctantly come to the conclusion that self-publishing or e-publishing or a mixture of both is the way ahead. I'd love to hear from anyone who has any experience of these.
On the bright side - I was going to write something but the sentence got lost in my head. I am getting increasingly worried that I am going to mix up my pills with dog pills. But Harvey's are good for the circulation and are supposed to help ease the symptoms of senility so they won't do me any harm; similarly my pills will only make him happy. So it won't really matter.
Except I might be more aware that I am miserable. And he will forget why he is wagging his tail.
From an intelligent start this post has strayed a little.
Spellchecka asked if I wanted to change senility for sunlight. That's rather a nice thought: senile people have their heads full of sunshine and buttercups.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
We used to worry about my grandmother setting the house on fire doing that but she was 88.
Never mind, I live to set fire to the house another day.
Anyway, today is a bonus as far as I am concerned as I wasn't sure if I would live until today after eating food past its sell-by date yesterday. Younger son had a barbecue on Saturday while we were at the party (our camera only works outside for 5 seconds at a time so I am waiting for others to send me photographic evidence) and miscalculated the amount of food needed so yesterday I decided to use it up.
Younger son refuses to eat food after its use-by date so he just had the sausages leaving husband and me to eat the more dodgy stuff. But we're both fine.
Anyway I remember when meat was kept in a safe and we had to tell if food was past its use-by date by the smell or look. But I suppose food was fresher in those days and bought and used more quickly.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
I can't decide if I have dandruff or white bits. Alun says that dandruff would be preferable to scurvy but I might just be dusty.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
In dancing last night, we were asked to demonstrate our routine to the class and then to teach them the steps. (There's no need to rush; I'm happy to sign autographs at any time.)
We must have been good teachers: the class picked up in ten minutes what it took us two years to learn from El Greco. And our pupils had an added bonus: we started with a fight - a vital ingredient of most of our dancing.
It's not easy being an example and being watched. Not only did I have to struggle to remember the steps but I also had to remember to hold my tummy in. And wiggle. But I have a perfect wiggle; have I mentioned that? The dance teacher (the proper one) said so. I knew there had to be something in life that I would be good at.
It will come in useful tonight when we go to Jude's party. Husband is going as Biggles and I am Mata Hari, exotic dancer and spy.
We've just been to town to pick up the final bits we needed: bright red lipstick and shimmery purple eyeshadow for me and a bit of elastic for him.
I bet you can't wait to see the photos ...
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Harvey is proper poorly again.
Friday, May 12, 2006
Now back in our day, end-of-term gatherings were celebrated in the back room of the Drover's Arms, a typical old Welsh pub. This suited us fine, being appropriate we felt for those who would follow in the footsteps of Wales's most famous son, Dylan Thomas.
There were disadvantages. The kitchen was at the back of the back room so readings were sometimes accompanied by the clattering of cutlery or the chatter of cooks. And, if anyone in the bar ordered food, the only way it could be got to them was via the back room. Straight through the reading area the skivvy would march with not a care that the reader was in the throes of a deeply heartfelt and poignant love poem.
But, we felt, that only added to the charm of the place. Not so say the students of today. This year the launch was in a smartly-decorated room on campus with free food - extensive buffet -and wine laid on. Plus sound system and videoing of the whole affair. And the launch was only one of several in different places including, if you please, the Hay Festival. As one of the tutors said, 'We practised on you; now we're getting it right.'
The three of us sat at the back and muttered, 'It was better in our day.'
But I nearly didn't get there. On the way to Sainsburys, for husband's now traditional Thursday night homecoming pizza, Betty started making a strange noise. When we stopped at the lights I opened my door to discover the running board dragging along the road.
I hooked it back on as best I could and carried on, grateful for every set of lights or delay that enabled me to hook it up again.
When I finally got home, younger son suggested gaffer tape: it did the job. Got me the thirty miles or so down the road to the college.
The only problem we had on the journey was that if I went over thirty mph, the CD jumped, stopped, started again, switched itself off, and on again, and so on. The player is held in by a two-penny piece so it wasn't bad really.
The madman thought it was hysterical that Betty should have an immobiliser. I told him: Beetles are highly sought-after. Especially one in such good condition as Betty ... will be when the hole in the floor and the running boards are fixed.
He also suggested that allowing me to drive on a motorway in such a wreck was a cunning plan on husband's part who has taken out life insurance on me recently now I come to think of it.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
On waking this morning I thought about what I had to do today. Work and then fighting tonight. Is that what they call a Freudian slip? I meant dancing tonight, of course.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
But just so you don't think that that's all I've done, I have cleaned the lounge and bathroom too. I love our new bathroom so much ... I dusted the skirting. That is not something I will say very often.
I also had one of my less-good-but-it-may-turn-out-all-right ideas.
Our cream (yes, I know now it's a stupid colour to choose) sofas are filthy. The covers are removable but I assumed they would need dry-cleaning. However when I checked today I found they were machine-washable. So I started washing them. Squeeeezing them in the washing machine and hoping for the best.
Now the problem is that it says that they should be put back on while damp, but how damp is damp? I am going out early evening: will they be dry enough or damp enough by then?
Also it says, 'do not tumble dry' and 'do not dry in direct sunlight'. Well, mine are hanging on the line in the sunshine as I type. They're cream: how much can they fade for goodness sake?
Anyway yesterday evening was a funny old evening, as Arkwright might say.
In circuits as well as being knackered I discovered that a pharmaceutical company is creating a medicine for diabetics that has been developed from the spit of the Gila Monster.
I can see it now. A man in a white coat sitting, late at night, on his own in his laboratory; he can't sleep, a result of having spent the day testing new drugs on himself. He's doodling images on his notepad. In between the woman with voluptuous breasts and the penis-shaped sports car, he thinks to himself, 'I wonder if the spit of the Gila Monster might provide an answer.' He doesn't know what the question is but it doesn't stop him. The next morning he is on a plane to the Nevada Desert with a quest: to catch the venomous lizard.
It was an Irishman who told me about this new drug. Now I wouldn't dream of casting aspersions on our Celtic cousins, but they are renowned story-tellers. And he did tell me this just after he told me about his father and the mobile phone. It seems his father lives in the Republic of Ireland and he has a phone that flashes green to show it has a connection. Except when he crosses the border into Northern Ireland when it flashes orange. Politics gets everywhere.
Then on my way home I saw a rather large man wearing an off-the-shoulder t-shirt. Is that normal?
I've just eaten lamb koftas and mushroom omelette for dinner; is that normal?
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
And he said:
Have I spoken this day of aught else?
Is not religion all deeds and all reflection,
And that which is neither deed nor reflection, but a wonder and a surprise ever springing in the soul, even while the hands hew the stone or tend the loom?
Who can separate his faith from his actions, or his belief from his occupations?
Who can spread his hours before him, saying, "This for God and this for myself; This for my soul, and this other for my body?"
All your hours are wings that beat through space from self to self.
He who wears his morality but as his best garment were better naked.
The wind and the sun will tear no holes in his skin.
And he who defines his conduct by ethics imprisons his song-bird in a cage.
The freest song comes not through bars and wires.
And he to whom worshipping is a window, to open but also to shut, has not yet visited the house of his soul whose windows are from dawn to dawn.
Your daily life is your temple and your religion.
Whenever you enter into it take with you your all.
Take the plough and the forge and the mallet and the lute,
The things you have fashioned in necessity or for delight.
For in revery you cannot rise above your achievements nor fall lower than your failures.
And take with you all men:
For in adoration you cannot fly higher than their hopes nor humble yourself lower than their despair.
And if you would know God be not therefore a solver of riddles.
Rather look about you and you shall see Him playing with your children.
And look into space; you shall see Him walking in the cloud, outstretching His arms in the lightning and descending in rain.
You shall see Him smiling in flowers, then rising and waving His hands in trees.
By Kahlil Gibran
Linden doesn't do black and white. We're more shades of purple and green. No-one is Linden is going to say, 'This is the way it is and if you don't agree you can go now.' One or two might say, 'This is the way it is,' but that's as far as they would go.
Sometimes I wonder if we have gone too far down the track 'to ever come back' (is that a song? Or did I just make it up? It should be a song; perhaps I'll write one and Alun can put it to music and we will go on and become as famous as Rice and Lloyd Webber. With Alun as the ugly one.)
But I am Ms Wishy Washy so it suits me just fine.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The final of The Apprentice tonight. I think the smart money has been on Ruth since fairly early on in the show. She not only talks the talk but does the job too. I wouldn't want her as one of my friends though. Then again, maybe better as a friend than an enemy - after what she did to Sayed when they went head-to-head. Although I doubt if anyone who wants to be Sir Alan Sugar's apprentice would want me as their friend.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Whatever happened to Athena?
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
And what happens to the missing ones?
Why can't manufacturers agree on a standard black sock that they would all make and then when one got lost you wouldn't have to throw the odd one away as you could keep it until another sock lost its partner. I'll tell you why.
Like the man in the white suit. That's why. Because it would significantly reduce the number of pairs of socks that you would buy in a lifetime, thus decreasing their no-doubt-vast profits.
And they know that men aren't like women. Men don't buy new socks just cos they feel like a change. Men have even been known to wear brown socks with black shoes and not care. Unless they're like husband who spots the instant I put a pair of not-quite-matching black socks together.
For goodness sake, it's not as if anyone is going to study what socks you're wearing. Unless they're like brother-in-law. I don't know for certain but I bet he has designer socks.
And why can't sons put socks in the dirty clothes basket? Instead of scattering them through several rooms.
Which reminds me that I'm on television tonight. But only on BBC2W. It's a digital film I made plus a short - and probably embarrassing - interview. I will have to watch it from behind the sofa. Forget what I've just said: I've just looked on the TV listings and can't find any reference to it.
X asked, 'Why?'
I said that Y seemed a bit off with me.
X sighed, 'Huh, you should try living with Y!'
So perhaps it's not me.
Alun explained that it was my paranoia; that at any given moment, I was convinced that at least one person in Linden hated me. I denied that. 'I am not paranoid. I know for a fact that there are definitely two people who don't like me although I wouldn't go so far as to say hate.'
I can tell by their smile-not-smile when they speak to me. I am church administrator; sometimes they have to speak to me.
To cheer me up, Alun gave me my first snooker lesson (while we were waiting for the tea to brew during our tea break). I now know that I have to hit the little white ball and that I have to aim for the centre of it. Next lesson Alun will teach me how to do that and the proper name for the snooker stick.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Wallflowers are a much under-rated plant, I think. They're not much to look at but their perfume, especially in the early morning, is fabulous. I also have a certain empathy with wallflowers.
Monday, May 08, 2006
There is a picture round that always tends to let us down. We like to blame the poor quality of the images but, strangely enough, other teams seem to recognise people in spite of that. Last night I looked at the first photo and said, without hesitation, 'John Virgo.' 'Oh, yes, everyone said (except Mr Hurst who said it was a policeman called Martin), so we wrote that down.
It was Robert De Niro.
There was another one who I thought was either Bono or Osama bin Laden. (It wasn't.)
We would have won a third share of Â£120 for the Super Sevens - if we'd known who was the baddie in Collateral (Tom Cruise). And if we'd put the right answer down for the world record-holding fastest steam engine (Mallard).
Still a good evening.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Younger son's latest plan to avoid finding a job - although, to be fair, and I like to be fair, he has tried ... a bit - is to set up his own business. This was, if you remember, my idea. I suggested we go into the garden clearing business. He has now expanded this idea to include odd jobs of all sorts and has dropped me in favour of his friend.
He now spends hours in his room working on his business plan (and I'm sure playing rugby on his computer is a valid part of his plan). He intends to get funding from ... someone, get a van and, well, do it.
'What about while you're waiting for funding to come through (it always takes ages)? Shouldn't you be looking for a job to keep you going?'
He just looks at me. I know what he's thinking: why? When I'm enjoying life, being fed and looked after, and coming and going as I please.
He will be all right. In the end. We've been through the worrying stages with the others and they've done all right. He'll be fine.
They plan to target, in the nicest possible way, old people who needs jobs doing. This is probably a good move in theory but will an old person employ someone who looks like Jimi Hendrix in white?
It annoys me that how people look can affect their opportunities in the job market, or anywhere else. Husband, who works for a company that only recently relaxed its No Beards rule, says it's understandable. The employee reflects the company's image. Huh.
A few years ago I was part of a school prayer support group. A number of Christian parents and teachers met on a regular basis to pray for the school.
For the last ten years or more, our church has had a team of young people volunteering with us for a year. They work in schools, in our youth cafe, and in clubs, meeting and befriending youngsters in their own culture. One year they came and joined the school prayer meeting to pray and introduce themselves and ask for an opportunity to do an assembly, lessons, clubs, whatever.
One of the teachers, the most senior, basically said, 'We can't let people who look like you do stand on stage in front of our pupils. With your piercings and long hair what sort of an example would you be setting?'
I wanted to shout, 'The example of Jesus.' They were giving up a year or more of their lives to serve the church and the young people they met; to have an effect, to be Jesus in their community. And this so-called-Christian man was judging them on how their looked instead of where their hearts were. I was so mad I was practically spitting. He wasn't going to change his mind and screaming at him would have done no good for the future. But I stopped going to the prayer group shortly after that.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Research by American and Norwegian scientists showed that men in their fifties are generally more satisfied with their sex lives than those in their thirties or forties.
The author of the article put this down partly to the fact that older men are less hormone-driven and more into spending time enjoying the act of sex.
The more cynical may say it's because they've cast off their first wife and have taken up with a twenty-something.
Apparently the survey didn't mention how fifty-something women felt.
Two of them did say they'd pray for me and one asked for 'some of those bead things'. I can see the headlines now: Prisoner strangles himself with rosary beads after church service robs him of will to live. (No, we're not Catholics but we're all the same in there.)
But only one man was actually in tears as he left.
For the second and third services, after the chaplain had pointed out his concerns. we tried to lift the atmosphere a little. I told the story of Harvey nearly dying. I think it helped.
It was all a bit of rush getting in and setting up as we had to have our photos and our fingerprints taken. It's so they know who's in the prison at any moment and works instead of little tags that we used to hang around our necks. At least I'm sure it will work in the future when they've got the technology sorted. And they get an officer on the gate who is slightly less painfully slow when it comes to typing in names.
They say they destroy the records as soon as we've left but I'd like to think that they'd frame my photo and put it on the wall. With a nose the size of mine, I'd make a good dartboard.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
We watched Mrs Henderson Presents last night. It was jolly good. Funny and poignant, and Judi Dench was, as always, magnificent. Bob Hoskins was a revelation too, looking distinguished and with a posh accent. I kept expecting him to lapse back into his normal Cockney voice but he didn't. And it was all in the best possible taste. Except possibly the glimpse of some rather elderly and flo ... flabby naked men.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Our little visitor has gone home now. Holly got in the car without so much as a backward glance or a wag for me. After all I've done for her!
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Note to self: watch out for thunderbolts.
On a different note, last night I dreamed I had moved into the Galleon flat. (This is a flat owned by the church and used to accommodate various young people.) I had only been there five minutes and Tim O was being unpleasant to me, not letting me use the kettle. I am worried about my sanity.
Now I'm going to peg myself on the line.
I've never noticed it before. Not that that means a lot. I've greeted people in church with the words, 'Hello, welcome to Linden. Is this your first time?'
'No, we've been coming for six months.'
So Little Wheelchair has probably always been there. But what does it mean?
If you're in a wheelchair, click here and we'll ... issue you with a special certificate to allow you to not do verification. You'll just have to enter your fourteen digit code number instead.
If you're blind, and can't see the letters to verify, click here and ditto.
I clicked on it just now and it froze my computer. Nothing else.
Spellchecka just queried the word 'verification.'
No, it didn't; it would have been good if it had though.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
But see how well and airily they blow; it is such a good drying day! They will smell fresh and clean - cleaner than when dried any other way - when I get them in. I am not really a sad person with no life. Am I, Harvey? Holly? Anybody?
Holly follows me everywhere I go, be it to hang out washing, sit in the study, do the dishes or go to the toilet. She is so sweet I have to give her a cuddle. Then I get a resentful look from Harvey so I have to give him a cuddle too.
Is it any wonder I'm not getting anything done?
But we have hung out the washing. It is a wonderful drying day. Here is the proof.
Lawks a'mercy, I am turning into my granny!
John Smith is a long-haired and leather-jacketed old hippy (his words). He turned away from his planned 'sermon' and as a result his talk was a bit meandering but basically he spoke about the church living as Jesus lived mixing with the outcasts, touching the untouchable, breaking the rules. He definitely doesn't like the prosperity gospel preached by some churches; nor does he like America, George Bush, John Howard or Tony Blair. But he loves Jesus. And the people he mixes with.
He also talked about being in touch with the culture you're trying to reach. And, more than anything else, being friends with it.
He suggested that instead of asking 'What would Jesus do?' we should ask 'Who would Jesus bomb?'
He veered from his planned talk because of Martyn Joseph. Martyn and John had toured together fifteen years earlier and Martyn had offered/agreed to come along and sing a few songs as part of the evening.
For those who don't know, Martyn Joseph is an old-fashioned protest singer. His songs speak of injustice against individuals and communities in Wales and further afield. He is what I think of as a sixties' singer.
A few years ago I was in a housegroup with some students. Two of them belonged to the University Conservative Society. That seemed, and seems, to me to be one of the saddest indictments of our society. If students are Conservative or conservative, what hope is there for the future?
Where are the protests? The sit-ins? The Love-ins? The standing up for rights, your own or someone else's? It's been said that students today have so much debt and financial problems to contend with that they don't have time to consider greater issues. They just need to be able to eat at the end of the day. So apathy, or self, rules.
I don't pretend to have great political ideals that I would die for but I've marched against the war in Iraq, supported CND, been to Greenham Common (remember the women?) and tried to influence our country by casting my vote.
John Smith said that if the church lived as Jesus lived we would make our countries ungovernable. We would force change. Pre-emptive war would not happen.
I really look up to people like Jon and Jodie who are trying to live by what they believe; to Jon M who thoughtfully considers issues and doesn't accept easy answers; to many young people in our church today (although at the moment I'm not too keen on my own son who doesn't phone me or answer my phone calls or email me!!!!!! - It was all getting a bit too serious there!)
Anyway, although I enjoyed what John Smith said - in spite of the hard old church chairs and the high heat - it was Martyn's last song that really got through to me.
'Turn me tender again.'
I have rambled for too long already while the dishes are calling me so more later.
So she ate it.
It's not a problem. She's young; she'll learn. And it was only a video of England beating the All Blacks in 1993. So I'm not bothered.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
She kept leaping off banks that were way too steep for her to get back up. Fortunately I only had to get in once to rescue her. It was a yank-by-the-scruff-of-the-neck job, and what does she do to repay me? While I’m still precariously balanced with one foot on a twig and the other on the muddy slopey bank, she shakes in my face. Such ingratitude!
Harvey is looking at me reproachfully. But you couldn't have managed it, Harvs, you know that ... no, you couldn't ... even before you were poorly your walks had gotten shorter and time taken to do them longer ... yes, I know you would have shown her all the best bits of river, maybe next time?