Thursday, August 31, 2006

Was there a thunderstorm in the night?

I only ask as I had two brilliant ideas this morning.

Actually one was husband's of a few weeks (months) ago but I re-thought and re-named it mine. The other was all mine.

I'm not accustomed to getting brilliant ideas in the morning - or at any time - and having watched Young Frankenstein recently ...

It's entertaining but not as funny as Blazing Saddles but then again, it probably helps if you're an afficionado of Frankenstein and horror films generally.

* * * * * * * * * *

Today is the 9th anniversary of the death of Diana. As husband was away and I was too tired to be choosy, I watched two programmes last night, the first about the alleged conspiracy to murder Diana and the second, sweetly entitled, Di's Guys.

Apparently 85% of Britishers believe there was a conspiracy; that puts me and the makers of last night's programme in the minority. Perhaps that's why it was shown on More 4 or something instead of ITV1.

They had the first television interview with the Chief Police Officer investigating the accident. I can understand why he hasn't appeared before. I'm sure the French police were very thorough but his Gallic shrug and casual pooh-poohing of theories wouldn't have helped convince many people.

Di's Guys was more watchable as it was just more gossipy. Much more The Mail than The Independent.

A special day

It's Shirley's birthday and first anniversary today, so a very happy birthday and anniversary to a special lady and her equally special man.

Have a greta day, Shirley and Pete! (Be alone together! Or, if you prefer, have a great day!)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Holes where they shouldn't be

I went to see Younger Son in hospital this afternoon, after his operation, expecting to see him all sleepy and the first thing he said - snarled - was, ‘Haven’t you brought me anything to eat? I haven't eaten for 26 hours.’ I had to go and get him two baguettes and a bag of crisps.

Apparently they cut the abscess out instead of draining it so he has a big hole at the base of his spine now. He has to stay in overnight so it can be dressed in the morning. He doesn't know what happens after that but is not amused that he has to spend another night in hospital. But he did get someone to move the television so he will be able to see Neighbours.

Fed and Neighbour-ed, he'll be all right for a little while.

There is a buzzing noise in here. I don't think it's in my head as I would hear it all the time and it's only when I'm in this room. I'm not even going to try and trace it as, with my hearing as it is at the moment, it could take me all night.

An unexpected interlude

I spent yesterday evening in hospital. No, not a sudden dramatic deterioration in my ear condition but Younger Son with an abscess on the base of his spine. Or as he put it to me, 'I've got a pain in my arse.' (Which, as Alun said, is not a nice way to speak of your mother.)

He saw the GP at 4.45 pm; she sent him to Casualty (via home to get me to go with him); they admitted him to a ward where a more senior doctor would come and see him and decide what to do. At 10.00 pm a nurse suggested that I should go home as it would be some time before the doctors did their rounds.

During this time YS was remarkably cheerful in a grumbly sort of way. He was on a drip and not allowed to eat in case surgery was required so not only was he uncomfortable, he was hungry. And one thing YS does not like to be is hungry.

I pointed out to him that I had the same thing when I was eight and a half months pregnant meaning I couldn't lie on my back or my front - but he found small consolation in this.

In a well-meaning motherly way I sat next to him to try and keep him amused but he couldn't turn over and I couldn't hear so it looked as though we were rehearsing for a Two Ronnies sketch.

Things weren't helped by the man in the bed opposite. In order to wee, he needed to have a tap running. By the time he had finished, everyone in the ward had their legs crossed.

On leaving the ward I spotted a doctor who bore a remarkable resemblance to Adolf Hitler. Strangely enough I saw him again today digging up pipes for British Gas.

Younger Son went down to theatre at 12.30 pm today. Trying to find out exactly what was happening as he wasn't sure, I spoke to a young (about 15 years old) doctor who said he was on a different team and that YS was under the care of Dr Hari Krishna. At least that's what I think he said. (Have I mentioned that my hearing has not yet improved? I hope it gets better soon as I can't drive properly when I can't hear.) He (young doctor) thinks YS will be in hospital again tonight.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A bit late

This should have been posted yesterday but I've had trouble with t'internet again. I'm not sure if it's BT or us. Anyway, back to what should have been yesterday's post.
It's only a quarter of an hour slot but it's on for a number of weeks. Today's is the first in the series and the two bloggers featured are transport linked. But they're nowhere near as boring as that sounds.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Most of today, when I've been sitting at the computer, I've been muttering to myself, 'I really should go upstairs and get my glasses.' Only apathy prevented me. When I eventually did, my glasses were nowhere to be seen (even allowing for my lack of glasses).

Back downstairs I discover them ... right next to the computer.

I tried several options in that sentence. Should I use a colon? Or a dash? As you see, I settled for ellipses. Or is that an ellipse? Wait.

That should be ellipsis (singular) and it's not right. ellipsis - a figure of syntax by which a word or words are left out and merely implied (Chambers).

I wasn't leaving anything out, just putting in a gap to create an effect. I need to consult another expert. But first I will tell you that a dipchick is the same as a dabchick - the little grebe. I just noticed that in passing.

Mr Fowler confused me thoroughly but according to Lynne Truss (may her name be carved in stone), an ellipsis may also be used when the writer wants to 'trail off in an intriguing manner ...' I wasn't doing that either so I must have used the wrong punctuation. It is truly a minefield for the poorly-trained foot-soldier.

Catch up

I should be in work today but I am off with earache. My ear hurts and I'm deaf but I still feel guilty. I'm never off sick but, I suppose, because physically I could be in work, I feel I should be.

Ah, well, I shall fight the guilt and wallow. I've just had two hard-boiled eggs for lunch. Nice but not quite the same without sand to go with them.

My first weigh-in with Weightwatchers tonight. I am not expecting a good result having been out for two meals this past week and having a pudding each time. The raspberry pavlova sundae in Castellamare was awfully nice though, and the reason I didn't answer the waiter when he asked if I was enjoying it was because I was deaf not because I was too engrossed in eating it. I didn't realise I'd been spoken to until everyone - including the waiter - started laughing.

I shall do a bit of blog-calling now and catch up with commenting; it's been a busy week and I've fallen behind. That reminds me: there was a programme about bloggers on radio 4 this morning. I was still in bed and forgot it. I wonder if I can listen on the internet.

Can't help falling ...

Eight people fell off cliffs in Wales over the Bank Holiday. That seems extraordinarily careless; it's not that hard to not fall off a cliff.

They're going to set up a cliffwatch station at Rhossili; a man fell and died there yesterday. The man talking about it on the television said, 'The lookout won't stop people falling off but we will be able to get help there sooner.'

In Mumbles, where I grew up, there is a sea wall about 15' high. For a large section of it, there was no barrier to prevent people falling off. Throughout my growing-up there were few, if any, fatalities. People jumped off it, yes, but that was to get into the sea. Now there is a railing along the length of it, including the bit that has stones sticking up from it and which was such a challenge to walk along when we were young. The nanny state in action.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

On the trains

Older Son and his friends went on the train this afternoon.

Poor me

I was up all night with raging earache.

Or, if you prefer, I was awake part of the night with quite bad earache. Whatever, I didn't want to spend all of Bank Holiday in pain so I phoned the out-of-hours GP service this morning.

In order to assess how bad I was, a nurse grilled me, and some of the questions she asked me were these.

Can you hear normally? (As long as I tug on my left earlobe.)

Are you confused? (No more than usual.)

Are you feeling unusually hot? (I am a woman of a certain age; how am I supposed to know what is unusually hot.)

I must have convinced her that I was in need of care because I've now seen a doctor and I have a spray - combined steroid, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial apparently - what it doesn't kill it makes very strong. However if my ear becomes more swollen, I will need to have a wick inserted. I feel like the man to whom Sir Walter Raleigh explained tobacco. 'So, you roll it up then you set fire to it, is that what you're saying, Walt?'


Seen in the Age Concern window:

Great Deals for the Over 50s


Age Concern Luncheon Club - good food and great company for the over 50s.

If I'd had my walking stick with me, I'd have shaken it at them.

Friday, August 25, 2006

It must be true

It was in the newspaper.

City Councillor in Porn Probe.

Oo-er. Wonder if it's related to earlier headline.

Neath Nuns Leave Town.


Young friend and very talented artist, Tina Watts, has given me a piece of her artwork. It's called Contentment, and she created it when she was pregnant.

I loved being pregnant. It was just the best so this piece is very relevant to me.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

a bit more

I was driving to the gym tonight (do you like the way I casually drop that in?) when I spotted a convertible mini with the number plate X30 FUN. As I passed I couldn't resist having a peek at the driver. My first thought was that he looks less like a fun man and more like a depressed walrus. Then I thought, 'No, that's not fair. There might be any number of reasons for the apparent anomaly.'

He might be driving his wife's car and it might be the way she gets her fun that has made him so grumpy.

The number plate might have been a present from his wife and he has failed to spot the irony in the same way that he has failed to notice the divorce papers lying on the hall table.

He might really be the life and soul of the party in a Jack Dee sort of way.

Or he might just be a miserable so'n'so.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I signed up for Weightwatchers last night. I've used Slimming World in the past but I have Weightwatching friends and misery loves company.

One of the first things I had to do was a short quiz to determine which plan would suit me best: NoChoice or NoPoint. The first question was: do you struggle with snacking between meals or is having a large plateful your downfall? Um, yes, both.

I forgot to mention that the night before Younger Son and I had chip shop chips as a pre-diet blow-out. And they were horrid! I even left some chips and I am the one who can normally be relied upon to clear everyone else's plates of chips.

Then today, day 1 of the new diet, my uncle took me out for lunch. He asked me to go round so he could show me 'where things are'. He said, 'I've had cancer; I've got a heart problem; and I'm 80. You should know where everything is just in case.'

I pointed out to him that the thing that was likely to kill him was the gallivanting he does with any one of a number of widows. But that's the way to go.

Once we'd finished with formalities we headed off for the restaurant. I was well-intentioned. I had crab for starters - a whole shellful but just meat with a very little fruit dressing on a bit of salad - followed by warm chicken salad. I really intended not to eat the bread roll but they had warmed it specially and the butter did look awfully tasty. When she brought out the dessert menu I said, 'definitely no, thank you.' But my uncle pointed out he didn't take his only niece out for lunch often so I had to have some. I couldn't argue with that, could I? So I had bread and butter pudding. With cream.

But since lunchtime I've been good.

Got here at last

It's been a while but I've finally made space to blog. It's not that long actually but it seems ages since I've had a chance to clear out my brain.

Maryb wonders if her style of writing has changed since she started blogging; she comes to the conclusion it has, that she is now writing with an audience in mind. I've looked back at my early stuff and I don't think mine has changed particularly. I thought it had but the only difference I can see is that it's slightly saner now. I suppose I do write with an idea of the people who will read it, but I do write in my own style and it's difficult to change what comes naturally.

Anyway, enough.

Husband has been off sick for two days. I suspected flu; Shirl asked if it was real flu or man flu. I have now decided it's man flu. Have I mentioned that he is very into genealogy? He has recently discovered that an ancestor of his was Governor of the Colony of Connecticut in 1656. (Why has that reminded me of the boys who put the powder on the noses of the faces of the ladies of the harem of the court of King Caractacus? They weren't even passing by.)

As I have intimated life has been busy recently. That and trouble with t'intenet have come between me and blogging. I enjoy blogging and miss it when I can't. Somebody said, 'Isn't it a bit self-absorbed to write your thoughts and imagine people will want to read them?' (Is self-absorbed the word I am looking for?)

Yes, it is. But no-one is obliged to read them - to those of you that do, I am very grateful - and even if it were only a writing exercise it would be valid. But I think it's more than that. A rubbish-bin? Possibly. But it's my rubbish-bin.

It was a good job that the internet was playing up on Sunday, when I had a chance to blog, as it would have been a rant. A major rant. I would have started with an apology and a suggestion to readers to not read it, and then grumbled big time about people who insist on talking to me as if I am an idiot. I might not be the sharpest pencil in the case but I know what's right and what's wrong. No, no more.

Husband is keen to watch an episode of Rumpole on DVD now so I'll make a mental note (or a written note) of other things that have been on my mind to remind me next time I have a blog.

FUN mini

So much I want to write, my brain is bubbling.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Went to a wedding today ...

in a field. Over-dressed wasn't the word.

Extremely over-dressed was more apt!

Anyway it was a lovely ceremony and it didn't rain during the important bits, when Mark and Jen made their way around the circle, exchanged rings and laid the first stones to build a cairn.

They're going to use their field to provide alternative environmental education for youngsters for whom school is not attractive.

And, yes, there are holes in Mark's jacket. Designer holes. (I think.)

An ace up her sleeve

Maverick would have turned under his hat if he'd seen us playing poker last night. But it was fun.

The results are as follows:
Carol $10,435
Andrew $7,230
Andy $5,120
Jude $4,245

Solvent (just) Mike, Janet and Wendy

Bankrupt (again) husband and me (twice after being baled out once by the bank)

And the meringues were yummy if a trifle chewy.

The faces say it all.

Friday, August 18, 2006

We made it through the night ...

but I have soggy-middled meringues. So I've put the oven back on.

And I've just remembered something.

I have one of those ovens that you can set the timer on and it will switch itself off.

The thudding noise you can hear is my head hitting the desk.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Okay so this wasn't one of my better ideas

But it seemed reasonable at the time. But, as usual (as some people would claim), I didn't think things through properly. So I'm sitting up at just past midnight waiting for meringues to cook.

I have to be in work in the morning so I don't think I can stay up much longer. I wonder what will happen if I turn the oven right right down and just leave them in there all night. Or what's left of it.

Brown meringues? Cooked to a frazzle meringues? Could meringues go on fire? I would hate for Harvs and me to be burned to a crisp just because the meringues were.

I was up early this morning too. Cleaning at 7.45. No, this isn't like me but peculiar circumtsmaces (neat spelling) demand peculiar actions.

I could leave a note for Younger Son asking him to turn off the oven when he comes in. That is probably the best idea I have had so far. But then, look at the last good idea I had.

I'll do that. And I'll tell you in the morning if we/they (Harvs and me/the meringues) survived.


One thousand visitors since 11th May.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I knew it would happen

This afternoon a wave of unexplained depression swept over me. The sort of depression that is only helped by chocolate.

I bought a bar of chocolate (and a box of Maltesers) and ate it. Now I feel depressed and guilty.

But I did go to the gym this evening. And I worked hard. When I reached the point that the only way for me to get up from the floor was to roll over onto my front and get on all fours first, I decided it was probably time to stop.

Our regular circuit training classes have stopped for the summer so we enrolled in a local gym. To get our moneysworth we have to go twice a week. I have been three times this week already. I have worked out, if I time it properly, I can watch Neighbours as I cycle. Husband didn't come with me yesterday as he was poorly and couldn't come with me tonight as he is away.

After a few weeks of him being based mainly in Swansea, he has a new job (same company, different responsibilities). This job is based in Glasgow ... and Winchester. Just as I was getting used to him being around.

So ...

I took my manuscript to the Post Office. After I'd carefully prepared it, double-checked everything six times, and taken out a bank loan.

To post it first class was £8.14; second wasn't much less so I said I'd go for first. Fine, until I said I wanted return postage as well. In fact, I wanted double return postage as the manuscript has to be sent from the co-ordinator to a reader and then back to me. The nice gentleman behind the counter started counting out stamps for the loonatic woman standing in front of him then he stopped and said, 'Ah, wait. New rules come in next Monday.'
'Yes, I know,' I said. 'That's why I wanted to get it posted before that.'
'But what about the return postage? It won't be enough and you will have to pay a fine.'

Pay a fine as well as being depressed by what the reader will say about my writing? (I am a born optimist!) I brought my parcel home with me.

Then I checked up on the Post Office website. Although prices and the way of charging are changing, according to my calculations, it won't be any more expensive to post my parcel after next Monday, so I can post it now.

If my calculations are correct.

I will take a chance and post it tomorrow. Unless Shirleen reads this and tells me I'm wrong.


How do you add music to your blog?

Love maybe?

Last Thursday I was helping in the Community Cafe when Chris said, 'Anyone heard what's the latest on Heathrow?'

'Heathrow?' says I, with my finger on the pulse. 'Is something happening at Heathrow?'

Well, yes, something was happening. A bomb attempt was being foiled. The plot was, according to George W. Bush, "a stark reminder that this nation (US) is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation."

Nice words, George. Guaranteed to bring peace to any situation.

Like Charlie Brown I am wishy-washy. I don't have firm ideas on many things. I dither and am undecisive; I ponder and come to no conclusions. But this most recent terrorist incident has shaken me.

I don't see how it's a war that can be won by anyone.

There is something far too fundamental at the root. Why is there such hatred? Distrust? Anger? What have we (christians/the West) done to them (muslims/the Middle East) or they to us to have caused such emotions?

Isn't that what we have to resolve?

I go into prison to help with Sunday services. I see the mostly-young men incarcerated. I hear sad stories. I refuse to believe they're there because they want to be. For some it may seem more like home than their own home but how did it come to that? There is something so basic missing - or lost - from their lives.

The only effective counter to hate is love. Forgiveness, tolerance, unending patience and perseverance.

I see battles that are small on a world scale and don't see how they can be resolved. I don't know - and I doubt - if I could forgive someone who killed my child. I am as weak and helpless, as incapable of putting others first, as anyone.

I don't know what the answer is, but I'm sure it's not war.

Was it like this for Barbara Cartland?

In January I joined the Romantic Novelists Association. One of the benefits is having an assessment of a first novel. Last week I received a reminder that all manuscripts for assessment for 2006 need to be submitted by August 31st, so on Thursday I set about printing all 339 pages.

I was 100 or so pages into it when I realised I had not updated the manuscript with my revised chapter 1. The new version has an extra 2 pages making all my page numbering wrong.

Not to worry, I thought, when it's finished printing, I'll print the new first chapter and have pages 14a and 14b. Not very professional but I can't waste all this paper.

I also noted that the RNA asked for the manuscript to be printed in font point size 12; I was using 11 point. Hey, it's readable; I can't waste all this paper.

At page 262 I ran out of paper; then I discovered that I was also running out of toner and that pages 179 onwards were missing words.

I've bought toner and paper and have started printing in 12 point again from the beginning. I am so sorry, trees.

The pages are churning out as I write. I will need to take out a mortgage to afford the post on this.

Anyone got any ideas for what to do with 262 slightly-used A4 sheets?

The eye of the beholder

Sophia Loren, who's 71, has been voted number 1 of "the world's most naturally beautiful celebrities who do not conform to stereotypes". This is good news for those of us approaching the autumn of our lives - although, personally, I like to think that it's still late Spring.

George Clooney came second. "... do not conform to stereotype"?! Anyway I'm a fan of George's so I won't object too much.

Meanwhile, in Australia, sheep producers are being asked to watch out for ugly sheep. Normally ugly lambs are culled but genetic researchers say that by studying the make-up of ugly sheep - obviously not Max Factor - they can find out what causes the flaws and help Australia's wool market.

I am rather concerned about this.

Who is to say what is beautiful and what is ugly? One man's ugly sheep could be another man's Sophia Loren.

I have a big nose and sticky-out ears but husband thinks I'm beautiful. Although, actually, now I come to think of it, he's never said those exact words.


I asked husband if he thinks I am beautiful. He pondered for a moment and then said, 'That depends how you define beautiful.' (He was an attentive student in the Prince Charles School of Compliments.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


As Blogger is being co-operative, I'll post some photos of Rhossili and Worm's Head.

On Saturday we took a ride out in Brian (our convertible Beetle) to the end of Gower to join the throngs of tourists walking to the end of the headland. It's strange thinking of the Worm as a tourist attraction; to us, it's just the Worm. Fabulously beautiful but just there.

And this is just a bit of the wall that surrounds the farmer's fields. I liked it.

I keep thinking of a serious post I want to do but this has taken me long enough so it can wait a little longer. Also want to write about Sophia Loren and sheep.

And I am pathetically excited by the fact that this blog will soon reach 1,000 visitors (since May)!

View from the river

Ladies in Red

Right, let's try and get this sorted. I'm going to see if I can re-post the post I posted previously and then deleted as Blogger sent it down the page. (Jon, sorry, I had to delete your comment too, but I'll just say that you should be glad that your parents only went to London without telling you, and didn't move house without telling you their new address - as happened to a husband I know well.)

So on Sunday we went to London. In a limo. For a lunchtime jazz river cruise.

Eight of us travelled up for Wendy's birthday party and it worked out almost as cheap, and infinitely more convenient, to go by limo than by train. Some of us were slightly anxious that it was going to be a totally-tacky pink limo but it was a tasteful black, with tinted windows so no-one could see us inside. Which was probably just as well as it came with four bottles of champagne (and two tee-totallers).
Wendy requested that everyone wear something red so we could paint the town. Here are Wendy, Carol and Janet doing just that.

We had a great day, and much appreciated the invitation.

Oh oh

Blogger is playing up.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Retrieving my Retriever

That does it. I have had it up to here (gestures in region of eyebrows). You are going to school.”
I had just run the length of the beach in order to retrieve my retriever who seemed to find anybody’s company preferable to mine. I was not in the mood to be conciliatory.
Determined to put it off no longer, I phoned the training school immediately on my return home. The telephone number had been in my possession for some time but I had managed to make excuses until now — “He’s too young” or “I haven’t got time”.
I spoke to Helga, the trainer, and explained the problem. “He just wants to say ‘hello’ to everyone and he won’t come back when I call him.” She suggested that I take Harvey along to the next session the following Saturday.
We duly turned up at the hall with some trepidation on my part and much slobbering and excitement on Harvey’s. On seeing the other dogs already gathered there, Harvey dashed in, dragging me behind him, and proceeded to bound from dog to dog greeting each one in turn with a wag, sniff and bark. I couldn't help but feel that this wasn't a good start!
“Oh yes, you do have a problem,” said Helga, “he is very dominant.” Dominant? I was puzzled. Who said anything about dominance? Was I in the right class?
By the end of the morning I had come to appreciate that the root of the problem was indeed Harvey’s dominance. Helga explained that as dogs are, by nature, pack animals, they need to be in an environment where there is a leader otherwise they will try to take on that role themselves.
Okay, so the theory was fine, but what about the practice? I had to show Harvey that I was ‘the boss’. Now when it comes to assertiveness I’m the original doormat, so I figured there would have to be some major changes in my attitudes.
At the end of a gruelling morning I left with a list of instructions and lots of leaflets to read and absorb. As I walked home I felt some trepidation about the coming weeks...
One of the major problems I had with Harvey was his tendency to pull while on the lead. Now then what did Helga say about that? Oh, yes. “When he pulls, take him back to the spot at which he started pulling and make him walk properly.” Doing that we weren’t likely to get beyond the end of the drive in anything like a reasonable time. I realised I would have to modify the rules just slightly.
In spite of my lapses, by the following Saturday I was fairly pleased with the way we had improved. Helga was not impressed.
“You haven’t come on very well have you? There is normally a great improvement after one week of following my instructions. Have you been obeying the rules of dominance?”
“Um, well, er, um, I have been trying,” I spluttered.
“Trying is not good enough. You must obey the rules. You must be dominant. He must know who is the boss.”
My headache was starting already.

The weeks that followed are a bit of a blur. I came to dread Saturday mornings. Each week I would pray that a new dog would join the class and be really badly behaved. Then we old-timers could smile indulgently and proudly pat our temporarily quiet hounds. On my part it was a delusion but at least it took the pressure off Harvey for a while.
There were occasions when I was very proud of him, but they were few and far between. Our progress was slow and the classes were long. We did move up to the advanced class but I’m not sure how. Then one day something happened.
I was in the kitchen, watching Harvey trying to persuade Toby, our old and superior cat, to join him for a game of chase. I looked on as Toby’s tail started to twitch slowly and angrily as Harvey bounced around him. Suddenly the cat stretched out his paws and caught Harvey’s nose in his sharp claws. As Harvey backed away whimpering and momentarily cowed, I saw it all too clearly. In any home, as in nature, there is a ‘pecking’ order and in our house, Toby reigned supreme while I knew my place — squashed at the very bottom.

Harvey is not and never will be the best trained dog in the world. Even if I had the perseverance required I suspect his retriever’s natural stubbornness would still get the better of me occasionally.
Most of the time he is as obedient as I require. He comes when he is called ... usually. He sits on command ... unless he’s very excited. Most importantly he is gentle to the core and a wonderful companion to all the family.
Now where was the telephone number of that assertiveness class?

This article was published in Pet Dogs magazine a long time ago but reading Marley and Me made me look it up and reprint it here.

Not a lot has changed over the years except now Harvey has the excuse of being slightly deaf and blind to fall back on when he ignores me and my commands. And we wouldn't change him for the best-trained dog in the world.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Ain't the internet wonderful?

A google and a browse later and hey presto! It's not Bilko but Bayko. And there's even a Baykoman

Bilko's Building Sets

In Maryb's latest post she talks about hi-tech toys of her growing-up. It reminded me of my favourite, not really hi-tech, toy. But I can't remember what it was called.

It was a house-building set. There was a rectangular green base with lots of holes in. Thin metal rods went in these and in the gaps between were fitted the bricks, doors and windows. I can't recall if the roofs came in bits or as whole units.

There was an instruction manual with designs for the most amazing houses, from the simplest cottages to several-storied mansions. It was complicated but engrossing. My children never owned anything like this: I guess it went out of fashion and production.

It wasn't Lego or Meccano. I keep thinking of Bilko but that can't be right! Does anyone out there have the slightest idea what I'm talking about?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Poems and pints

The event at Laugharne was great (if not a trifle long when perched on a 12" stool).

Kelly read some brilliant poetry (as always); Derek was 'inimitable' (does exactly what it says on the tin); and my monologue was well-received (a little light relief in a fairly serious evening).

It was held in Browns Hotel, as frequented by Dylan Thomas in his days of living at the boathouse (and other places), and I doubt if anything, including the decor, has changed since those days, fifty odd years ago.

The place was packed to hear Dylan's daughter, Aeronwy, read some of her own and her father's poetry, and her husband, lead tenor with the London Welsh Chorale, sing for us.

Having to get changed in the back garden - feeling like the trollop from Llareggub - only added to the fun.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A new day

Just checking in to say, 'I made it through the night!' Without even a twinge of indigestion. And, as far as I can tell, with a regularly-beating heart. Even my Wales flag is waving merrily after it nearly disappeared yesterday.

Unless, of course, I did die and this is heaven.

I wouldn't mind if heaven was just like this but I would prefer it if Harvey could lose a few years and not be incontinent. I would hate to think that in heaven I would still have to clear up dog poo. (He's asleep in the hall at the moment so don't tell him I told you about his little problem.)

Now, today, I need to scour charity shops for an old lady's hat. Not that Mam is old but she is old-fashioned.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Officially dead

If I make it till tomorrow it will be a wonder.

We went to the gym tonight. Our regular circuits have stopped for the summer so we've enrolled in a local gym that has loads of fancy machines with little screens that tell you everything you could possibly want to know about what your body is doing. And a bit more.

I was on the cycling machine, pedalling away merrily, when a message flashed up on the screen, 'Stop exercising immediately. Your heart rate has exceeded the recommended level.' I slowed down a bit and then a message came up, 'No heart signal detected.'

So that's it I guess. The night I died.

Calendar Boys

As I mentioned before, I'm reading at an event in the Dylan Thomas Festival in Laugharne tomorrow and just in case I don't live to perform, I thought I'd give you a little excerpt from my monologue. I am cheating a bit in that it is one I made earlier. I had good intentions of writing a new one but life and the in-laws got in the way.

My plan is, one day, to write a series of monologues featuring different members of the same family who all live in a Welsh valley somewhere not far from here. Last year I performed the daughter's monologue; this time it's mam's turn to have her say.

The clubhouse at the local rugby club is falling down and the members need to do some fundraising. The son of the family, Barry, tells his mam about the problems and she comes up with an idea.

"It was all our Barry's fault, it was. Him and his big mouth. He could have kept me out of it. You know me, I don't like to be in the limelight. And, it's not as if it was my fault. Yes, I had the idea but it wasn't really mine. It was watching that VD that did it. That one with Helen Wossername, you know, the one who played a policewoman on the telly.
That's when I remembered the VD. I said, hey, you know what you should do - make a calendar. Gwyn looked up from the telly again, what pretty pictures of all the local slag heaps and pit faces. Don't be daft, I said, I mean the boys. That don't sound very exciting, Barry said. It would be, I said, if they posed in the nude. With artistically arranged balls. Well that made them sit up."

A meal to die for

It could be the last meal I ever cook.

On Friday I bought lamb shanks to cook for Sunday lunch for the visitors. Then it turned out that they didn't want a large meal so we had bread and cheese instead (including the scrummy Green Thunder, a Gold award-winning Welsh cheese in the recent World Cheese Championships).

We didn't want a large meal either that evening. Or last night. So we're having the shanks tonight. In spite of the fact that the bag has a use-by date of 6th August on it.

It's been in the fridge and it only smelled a bit funny and cooking will get rid of any germs, I'm sure. Shops just have to cover themselves, don't they, in case some silly people use the meat a long time after or they don't keep it in cool conditions?

Anyway if the meat doesn't get me the blood poisoning probably will. From the cuts on my palm and thumb and finger: a result of unpeeling what turned out to be a screwcap on the wine bottle.

There is a blood donor session in Mumbles tomorrow. As they've banned me from going, I wonder if they would take my blood if I saved the drips from my cut into a milk bottle. It's only me they object to, not my blood.

I was trying to think of something memorable to write in case this turns out to be my last post. But I couldn't think of anything.

Dinner had jolly well better taste nice.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Is this the stupidest beetle in the world?

In the space of as many minutes I righted this beetle five times.

It eventually made it to a crevice in the wall, where, even now, it is probably lying on its back, kicking its legs in the air and wondering why all the other beetles are upside down.

Gentlemanly conduct?

Brother-in-law is older than me. Only four months but nevertheless.

On Saturday I made an innocent comment along the lines of 'Neh neh neh neh ne, I'm younger than you are,' and do you know what he said? You won't believe it when I tell you.

He said, 'Well, you don't look it!'

You can judge for yourself. This is me:

And this is brother-in-law:

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Self, husband and sis-in-law


... as a baboon's bottom

Brother-in-law-in-law insists his new car is subtle. Hm, yes, subtle ...
And he says he is not having a mid-life crisis.

Three Cliffs Bay

Sister-in-law and her husband have been down to stay for the weekend.

They wanted to see Three Cliffs, which has been declared, in some newspaper poll, most beautiful bay in Britain, so this morning we took a drive out.

This year is the fiftieth anniversary of Gower being named as Britain's first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Time Traveller's Dog

Harvey has discovered a portal in the space time continuum.

I've known for some years that there is one in this vicinity but I've never found it. I thought it only existed upstairs but I must have been wrong. The sons know about it, accessing it whenever they had revision to do.
'You're not stopping already?'
'I'm having a break; I've been revising for two hours.'
'You've only been upstairs for twenty minutes!'

Now Harvey and I are having similar arguments.

He has to take his tablet half an hour before his meal. We've explained this to him I don't know how many times but he will argue.
'Woof, it's time for my breakfast now.'
'No, it's not; it's only been five minutes since you had your pill.'
'Five minutes my woof! It's been at least an hour!'
'It hasn't.'
Then he sulks ... yes, you do ... wait patiently my hat! ... it's for your own good!

I would like to find the portal. Then, when we have visitors coming, I could spend two hours cleaning to find that only fifteen minutes have passed. What am I saying?! Somebody close the gate quickly!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Do not go panicking into that good night

Have just discovered that am reading a monologue in an event in the Dylan Thomas Festival in Laugharne next Wednesday.

No, not discovered, been reminded. Not a problem. Just because have not written monologue yet is not a cause for undue stress or panic.

The photos show the boathouse at Laugharne, Dylan and Caitlin's home (right), and the shed in which he wrote (left).


I forgot to mention that a playscheme is running in Linden for the next two weeks. Alun is in charge. I went downstairs when I was in work yesterday and they were making badges. They asked me what I would like on mine. I said, 'Something that says Liz without saying Liz.'

Dave came upstairs later and presented me with my badge. It had 'You are what you eat' written on it, accompanied by a drawing of a bag of KP Nuts.


Tomatoes warm straight from the plant, mmmmm.

Feather beds and half a crown

I'm cleaning. Which is why I'm blogging obviously.

We have visitors this coming weekend; and we had visitors the weekend before last. This means that the house will have been cleaned twice in two weeks. This might be less-than-normal for you but, for me, it's extra-ordinary. I might even say unheard-of.

We don't have visitors to stay very often - we're not awfully sociable - but when I was little, living in Mumbles, our home became a guesthouse over the summer for family that we never saw the rest of the year. The Cousins From Crewe were regulars. They consisted of one man and two women, one of whom was called Flossie - and she was. With curly white hair, little round glasses and a body to match, she would clutch me to her, and talk with a funny accent.

That's all I can remember about them except that they gave me half a crown when they left. And took me out and bought me ice creams. And what more could an eight-year-old want?

But the best thing about summer visitors was that I had to give up my bed. In its place I slept on a put-me-up with a feather mattress; it was like a cloud of dreams that I could sink into. Safe and snuggly, soft and cuddly.

And very bad for the back I have no doubt.

Ab Flab

There's a new word on the streets.

And it's flabulous.

I read about it on Elsie's blog. It's used to describe male stars who, unlike their female counterparts, can be slightly chubby but still rake in the dollars and be adored by millions.

But I think it was made for me and my friends.

Well, I say it was made for me: the flab bit was. I can aspire to the other bit. But I have friends who definitely fall into the flabby but fabulous catalogue. Here's to you, girls! And boys!