Monday, October 30, 2006

It's not just cream teas

In fact our attempt to get a cream tea failed miserably.

Left: The cliffs at Budleigh Salterton in Devon. Old Red Sandstone I believe. (Well, definitely old and definitely red.)

While walking by the River Otter on Saturday we saw two herons and two pheasants (but didn't have the camera). The next day on the beach at Budleigh, a sparrowhawk (above or possibly right when Blogger has arranged the page to its liking) settled on a beach hut.

There is such a lot of nature in Devon!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The last weekend of summertime

We've just spent the weekend in Devon with Daughter and Son-in-law.

Ate too much but compensated for it with two VERY long walks. Now Harvey is past it, we don't do long walks. (Having said that we got home today to be told by Younger Son that Harvs had taken himself for a walk in the woods. He knew nothing about it until he received a phone call from a man who had found a dopey dog sitting on the bike track.)

The weather was very mild especially considering it is the last weekend of October. Spotted these two true Brits enjoying a thermos of tea while sitting in deckchairs (sort-of) on the beach.

Friday, October 27, 2006

My conspiracy theory

After I'd written last night's post I thought a photo of Great Yarmouth covered in semolina would be a good addition so I looked it up on the net: I could find absolutely no mention of G. Yarmouth being covered in semolina! And I definitely heard it on the news at lunchtime

I asked Alun if he'd heard anything about it; he said he hadn't. Then I asked him if he'd heard about the scientists who have made a prototype invisibility cloak. He knew about that so I am not hearing little voices - at least not all the time.

I discovered there is a semolina factory in Great Yarmouth so it doesn't seem that unlikely that an explosion there could have resulted in a light dusting, but why the news blackout? Is it because in actual fact it's not semolina they're producing at all?

If I am never heard from again, it is because they know that I know and they have taken measures to silence me. Make sure the world is alerted! Don't let me die in vain!

P.S. It's been a long day.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

When I finally sat down for dinner tonight at 9.30 I had left-over Quorn Korma, two Ryvita and a couple of slices of beetroot. I know how to live.

But I haven't solved the puzzle of why Timothy should send me a message saying:
Sorry Liz.

Or why I have what appears to be a baby wipe in my pocket when I haven't been near a baby for weeks.

Two interesting facts:
Great Yarmouth was covered in semolina today.
When the Finns broadcast news in Latin they have more listeners than when they broadcast it in French (thanks to Stu Savory for that fact).

Is your work really necessary?

There's nothing like a walk in the autumn sunshine to clear your head.

I said to Harvey, 'You know what, Harvs?'
He ignored me; he was too busy sniffing a bush.
''You remember I told you I'd wiped the office computer's hard drive?'
The bush was still more interesting but I continued regardless.
'Well, at the time I thought - and I still believe this - that it wasn't a great problem. (I was scared of telling my boss but that's another matter.) I didn't lose anything crucial. Nothing really vital or irreplaceable was lost. It was more of an inconvenience than a disaster.'

Which makes me wonder: if what I do is of such little lasting value, why am I paid to do it?

But we are having a cost-cutting drive so I won't mention that thought to anyone. I will instead continue to impress on them what a wonderful and necessary job I do.

As the deer pants for water

We'd had a letter telling us that our water supply was being turned off at 7 pm on Tuesday evening until 9 am on Wednesday morning. I made careful note of this and at 6.30 on Tuesday evening I started filling containers.

Younger Son wandered through the kitchen. 'Are you thinking of irrigating the desert?' he asked.
'I told you the water's being turned off and we might need it.'
'Between now and tomorrow morning?' (It's only him and me in the house during the week.)
'We might be ... thirsty ... or ... something.'

At two minutes to seven I yelled up to him, 'Younger Son, go to the toilet now!'
He didn't.

Our water supply wasn't disrupted. A large area was affected but we escaped.

Thursday lunchtime and I am still using up the saved water.

Death by association

I am killing another plant.

I don't mean to; I love plants. They just don't like being in the same room as me.

It's not black and white, is it?

I got up this morning thinking, 'My mind is blogless!' but I've now read a post on Clare's blog that has set me thinking.

Does not being racist mean not seeing a difference or seeing a difference and rejoicing in it?

There's been a lot in the news recently particularly about Muslim women wearing veils. One part of me says, 'Yes, I agree; you need to see someone's face - the mouth, the eyebrows, the gestures - to really be able to converse with them.' The other part of me says, 'Yes, but these women have a right to express their religion - what they see as respect for the creator - and, if that's their choice, they should be allowed to do it.'

But if that choice means the children they teach are handicapped by possible misunderstanding of what's being said (as suggested in the case in the recent news of a veiled teacher), shouldn't they respect those children or get a different job.

Follow your beliefs - but not if they adversely affect others. (I know the teacher in that case argued that it didn't.) And, obviously, that's never more true than when talking about terrorists.

The word terrorists these days seems to be synonymous with Muslims. Yet I have heard respected Muslim leaders speak and say that the Koran doesn't teach murder. I know nothing about the faith of Islam but I know a bit about Christianity. The Bible says, 'An eye for an eye.' Take that further and you get a life for a life. It also says, 'Thou shalt not kill.' Which one do you abide by?

In Swansea we have a comparatively small ethnic community. A lot of Asians live in one particular part of town, Eritreans live in another. We're the same when we emigrate. Even if we don't all live together, we have Welsh Associations that give us the opportunity to mix with people from home. And certainly Brits in Spain all congregate together.

I will look at a person and be aware that that person is a different colour and I will make a special effort not to be racist. I will go out of my way to prove that I'm not. Does that make me racist?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Charlie Brown

Charlie is ten years old. He's a small brown and white mongrel with a cheeky face. He has excellent judgement when it comes to people and he doesn't like drunks.

Until he was a year old he lived with a couple in Aberystwyth. They kept him in the airing cupboard and beat him viciously.

His current owner was invited into their home by the couple to have a bath. When he saw Charlie, he forgot the bath and took him away there and then. Charlie's jaw was broken and he couldn't eat; he had no hair and was so badly beaten that one of his testicles is inside his belly. It was six months before Charlie was able to trust his new owner and even now will not eat until his owner turns his back, so fearful was he of being beaten.

You can see Charlie and his owner most days sitting outside the Quadrant car park in Swansea. They sell the Big Issue.

His owner - no, wait, he doesn't want to be called that - a dog isn't there to be owned - so we'll call him friend - says Charlie is his best friend, the only one in whom he has complete trust and who has unconditional love for him. He guards him, waking him if he's asleep and danger, as recognised well by Charlie, approaches.

Every morning Charlie leads his friend to the local chemist where they have breakfast ready for Charlie. Sometimes it's chicken; sometimes it's beef.

His friend is given so many tins of dog food a day, by passers-by who think his dog is going hungry - he is wiry but not skinny - that he is able to feed 8 or 9 other dogs around the city.

The last few years Charlie and his friend have gone to Ireland for a period each side of Guy Fawkes night. As it's not celebrated in Ireland, Charlie isn't constantly frightened by the barrage of fireworks that are set off around this time.

They were in Zac's Place last night, Charlie comfortably snuggled in a corner, only moving occasionally to check the whereabouts of his friend. Oh, yes, Charlie's friend is called Simon. I didn't think to ask that until just before we parted. I guess I'm no better than the passers-by who give Simon dog food but not a friendly word. I've got a lot to learn.

For non-Brits
The Big Issue is sold by the homeless. They have to buy copies at, I think, half the cover price, and then sell it on. 'Working not begging.' Part of the thinking behind the Big Issue is to give the disadvantaged a source of income and the self-esteem that comes with earning money, to put them back on the road to employment and/or further education. The vendors have to follow a strict behavioural code.

One drop of rain on your window pane

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I'm a pink toothbrush

... You're a blue toothbrush,
Have we met somewhere before?
I'm a blue toothbrush and I think, toothbrush,
That we met by the bathroom door.

What has happened to song lyrics these days? Nowadays on ChartshowTV the videos all feature barely-dressed females gyrating around in cars to songs like 'Promiscuous'. They even have one young lady in her bra and rollers!

Of course what really upsets me about that is that she still looks sensational.

We've just been for a walk

I went out feeling young and carefree; I returned feeling old and decrepit.

On the way back we met a man with a young spaniel. We talked dogs for a while and I mentioned that Harvey still looked forward to going out but couldn't manage to go far these days.

The man, who looked to be about the same age as me, said, 'The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak - just like us, eh?'

I laughed and said, 'Ye ...' then realised what he had said.

I could barely make it back up the hill without my zimmer frame.

I will have to invest in some Garnier Ultralift as advertised on Chartshow TV. I watch it when I'm in the gym. At home I watch very little television and the little I watch tends to be on BBC so I'm not very au fait with the adverts. And it's a good job with me as susceptible to them as I am.

But it's very convincing. And it says that 9 out of 10 women of those surveyed said they could see a difference. Then it says, in small print, number of women surveyed 124. Now isn't that a strange number? Why not 100 or 500? And 90% of 124 is 111.6 meaning that either someone has got their maths wrong or someone wasn't entirely sure they could see a difference.

But perhaps they did survey 500 women and only 111.6 said it was good. That would make it a very low percentage, so perhaps they deleted the results of 376 women who said they couldn't see the difference to make it sound better. And they deliberately got the sums wrong so it would look genuine. Are you still with me?

Anyway I will probably buy some. I'll tell you if it works on my crevasses. On my forehead that is.

I might buy some Cillit Bang too. The dirt it shifts in the adverts is amazing! I know I tried it before and it didn't work as well as my normal cleaner but perhaps they've improved it.

You see what I mean about susceptible?

Desperately seeking TIM

They're looking for a new TIM, or TIMette.

Brian Cobby, the voice of the speaking clock, is being retired after 21 years. And BT is running a competition in conjunction with Children in Need to find a new voice. The organisers say they don't mind if it's a male or female voice, or what part of the country it comes from as long as it's clear and warm.

The BT Speaking Clock has been ticking 24-hours a day, seven days a week since 24th July 1936 – which is 67 years or 35 million minutes. Originally its accuracy was one-tenth of a second, it's now correct to within five thousandths of a second.

There have only ever been three voices for the BT Speaking Clock, apart from a two week period in 2003 when Lenny Henry did a special version of the Speaking Clock in aid of Comic Relief and a week long stint by 12 year old Alicia Roland.

Before Brian Cobby, the current voice, worked for BT, he recorded the “5-4-3-2-1… Thunderbirds are go!” bit for the theme tune to the TV series. And he has received fan mail from ‘mature ladies’ who say they listen to him late at night when they can’t sleep.

So if you think you could send old people to sleep, call 09067 533 533, and follow the instructions. (Calls cost a maximum of £1.50 with £1.10 from each call going to help children in need.)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Hook and line

On Saturday we had some delicious sea bass for dinner. It reminded me of an incident a number of years ago when I visited the fish market next to the dock on which the trawlers unloaded their catch.

I was waiting to be served when a man in a mac sidled up to me and whispered, 'Do you want to buy a sea bass?'
'Caught it myself this morning off the docks.'

Aware we were being watched by the burly man behind the counter, and before the fisherman had a chance to flash it at me, I shook my head, and said, 'No, I don't think so, thank you.'

I regret that now.


A few years ago I attended a day seminar on writing. In one session we were brain-storming on the word 'Ice', and we were encouraged to write up a story afterwards. What follows is my attempt. It's a bit weird and there isn't really a market for it but I thought I'd try it out here.

Every night Alice had the same dream.
In it a huge block of ice glided towards her, dragging with it all the things she knew and thought she loved. It stripped the valleys of her childhood of childish things; the meadows of her youth it raked bare, and the hills of her history it eroded, crushed and reshaped. Characters from her life story became brittle cracked sculptures of themselves. And all around the ice a hundred thousand prisms sucked in red and violet stars and blew out laser white rays.
In her dream Alice watched the approach of the mammoth with fascination. But, always, before the ice reached her, she awoke.
She told no-one about her dream, especially not her husband. His mind was crowded enough; the last thing he needed was her foolishness.
Then one morning, she overslept.
The glacier approached, as it always did, its speed increasing as it drew closer and closer. Like a spectator at the Coliseum, Alice watched. When it was within two feet of her she wondered if she should scream. She opened her mouth and a dagger of white air escaped. As it did, she realised that to scream now would defeat the object: she wanted to find out what would happen. She would not be afraid. This was only a dream; she could come to no harm.
The noise was deafening as photo frames and china dolls, beads and books, unable to resist its power, crumbled and were scooped up by the unstoppable ice block.
But when the glacier was just inches from her toes, another sound penetrated the whiteness. Her husband’s voice cut diamond sharp through her dream state. He would be late for work and it was her fault: she had forgotten to set the alarm.
When he had gone, Alice tried to go back to sleep, to return to the place she had left, but when she did at last doze, the glacier had retreated.
She told herself she was silly, paying such attention to a dream. She resolved to put it out of her mind and to concentrate on real things. And for a time it worked. She continued to have the dream but wouldn’t allow herself to think of it.
Then Alice’s husband had to go away with work. Just for one night. But one night was all she needed.
She went to bed early, switched off the alarm and slid between the crisp sheets. Without the warmth of her husband’s body, they were cold to the touch. She shivered and turned off the light. She fell asleep quickly but, for a long time, the glacier didn’t move. She feared, at first, it had come to a halt, that she was too late. But when it started to creak and scrape and scour its path towards her, building up its speed as it did, she knew there would be no stopping it. Now it came closer, faster than ever before.
She held out her arms to welcome it. Its glassy weight thrust against her. She thought she would be knocked flat but, where the ice touched her body, it melted and took her shape. The colder than breath air that surrounded her froze the water droplets and a new skin coated her.
Alice felt no fear. She felt nothing except relief: the weight of feeling had become a burden. But if she could have felt it, she would have been light-hearted.
She awoke the next morning to find herself encased in ice. Only a thin covering but strong and impenetrable. She smiled to herself as she glided through her daily chores wondering what her husband would say when he returned that evening.
But ice is notorious for catching people out. They don’t see it until it’s too late. In time he came to notice a change in her but couldn’t have said what that change was or when it had happened.
Alice no longer dreamed of icebergs; instead she dreamed of grey rooms peopled by grey men and women doing grey jobs. If she saw a rainbow, she would remember a stirring of what might have been delight, but it was too insignificant to crack the ice.


What is the world's smallest sovereign state?

What do you think? Is it the Vatican?

Not according to some.

Yesterday afternoon, while I waiting for dinner to cook, I watched part of a programme on television called Decoding Da Vinci. In this episode the presenter was investigating secret societies and after looking at the Knights Templar, who seem to be fairly convincingly 'gone', and before considering the Priory of Sion, an acknowledged hoax, he visited the sovereign state of the Knights of Malta.

"Founded during the eleventh century, the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta is the world's oldest order of chivalry and its oldest lay charitable organisation. It is also one of the oldest religious orders. Based in Rome, with observer status at the United Nations, and having accredited ambassadors to ninety two countries, this unique Catholic institution is administered by a sovereign government, which issues its own postage stamps, passports and coins, and makes its own foreign policy.

Having extraterritorial sovereignty over a few buildings in Italy, the Order of Malta is arguably the world's smallest state, though it is not usually considered a nation per se."

I am just amazed. The television presenter stood in the middle of a courtyard surrounded by a building and that was it: the whole of the sovereign state of the Knights of Malta. And they have representatives at the United Nations? And they raise millions of pounds for charity.

I have read through the website and I'm still confused. Steve's novel is dealing with some aspect of the history of the Knights; I'll look forward to finding out more!

P.S. I've just eaten four, yes 4, chocolate hobnobs. I am a little piggy.

No hiding place

In town this morning I bumped into a man from church. After we'd talked about golf clubs for a while, he asked, 'How's the computer?'

I put my hands over my face, 'Oh, no, how do you know?'

'It was announced in church yesterday.'

I am so glad I was in prison.


Harvs and I just had a staring match.

He was standing in the hall barking (again). I went and opened the front door and he just stood and stared at me.

'Do you want to go out?'
'Do I look as though I want to go out?'
'Why are you barking then?'
'You've had your breakfast and you don't want to go out: so why are you barking?'
Silence accompanied by a 'I'll bark if I want to' stare.
I stare back.

For minutes our eyes are locked. I remember what Heidi, the dog trainer, said. 'Never let a dog win.' I struggle not to blink.

Harvey looks away! Yes! I am Staring Champion!

He lies down, fixedly facing the opposite direction. He might be defeated but he is not bowed.

And he will have forgotten in three minutes.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

At last!

A not very clear photo of Tess taken by her farmer, out in his fields.

In thoughtful mood

taken by Elder Son last weekend

Putting the record straight

A Sunday in February, 1993

The sons have friends round to play for the afternoon and I have a veritable mountain of ironing waiting so husband offers to take daughter to Toys-R-Us for a game she wants.

I wash the lunch dishes and then settle into the ironing accompanied by the radio.

An hour passes and I begin to wonder what's taking husband and daughter so long - the shop is only 15 minutes drive away.

Another half hour goes by and I'm looking at the clock every five minutes.

By the two-hour mark I'm thinking about calling the hospital. (Yes, I know I'm a worrier with a vivid imagination!)

I'm just folding up my ironing board when I hear the car pulling onto the drive. A few seconds later daughter bursts in.

'Where on earth have you been?' I grumble. 'I was getting worried.'

'Wait till you see what we've got!' she squeaks.

At that husband walks in with a sheepish, slightly anxious look on his face - and a bundle of fluff in his arms!

'Awwww, what is it? Where did you get it? Did you find him? Whose is he?'

'He's ours!' daughter screams. And husband puts him into my arms.

A couple of years earlier we'd acquired a Welsh Border Collie that we'd called Tess. She was lovely with our children but we didn't feel we could trust her completely with other children. Husband worked with someone who owned a smallholding and whose neighbour had recently lost their dog. Tess went to live and work on the farm and last time we saw her she was doing a great job of rounding up cows.

But even though I knew she'd gone to a good home and she wasn't dead, I couldn't stop crying for days! I was so distraught husband said, 'We're never having another dog!'

As the weeks and months passed I started pointing out golden retrievers on the street, on the television, and in For Sale adverts in the paper; husband said, 'No! Never again!'

Then he bought Harvey.

One Christmas he bought me a diamond ring and hid it in a packet of Maltesers; last Christmas he bought Betty, the Beetle, for me (and how Santa got her on the drive without me knowing still puzzles me), and even though those were wonderful presents, there's never been - or ever will be - a present as good as Harvey!

I have tried four times to upload a photo of Tess but Blogger won't let me; I will try again later.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The perfect gift?

Husband told me he had spotted a the perfect present for me ... in the Makro catalogue. He suggested I should look through and see if I could guess what he was thinking of.

As previous gifts have included a hair-cutting set (so I could cut his and the boys hair), a slow cooker (won in a raffle at work), and the first two series of Phoenix Nights (which he wanted to watch), I was dubious.

But I spotted it straightaway.

The pole dancing kit comes under the 'Health & Fitness' section. Apparently it's very good for cardio-vascular exercise, toning and flexibility, and this particular pole can hold a weight of up to 16 stones (14 lbs in a stone).

I told him, 'I don't know about dancing with a pole; a Brazilian now ...'

Friday, October 20, 2006

My boss is a saint!

We had a long chat this evening and she was very understanding.

The problem of missing data remains but the anxiety has gone. All that remains now is to tolerate being the butt of Alun's jokes for some time to come.

The sun peeking through the clouds onto the sea as I drove to work this morning.

Bad day at the office

I've had a bad day.

No, actually, it's not so much been a bad day as I'm anticipating what is to come. We had quite a fun day in fact, laughing a lot.

The really bad day will start when the email I have just sent is read. Then prepare yourselves for earth tremors of 6.5 on the Richter Scale.

You see I managed to wipe clean the hard drive on the computer in work.

And there is no-one else I can blame; it was simply my fault. And I am very simple.

Let's rewind.

For some time the computer has been telling me that we have a counterfeit copy of Windows. At last I decided to do something about it, ordered a legit copy and set to installing it today. So far so good.

Even though the wording on my screen wasn't exactly the same as the instructions I seemed to be doing everything all right, so when it said, 'Do you want to delete this partition?' I said,' Yes,' as it said on my sheet of paper.
'Are you sure you want to delete this partition?'
'Once this partition is deleted, it is deleted; do you want to delete it?'

So that's what it did.

To me a partition is a bit not the whole. I thought I was just deleting the bit of the disc with the old and counterfeit software on. I didn't know it meant everything.

Absolutely everything. Wiped clean. Completely clean. Not a speck or iota of information left. All gone. And never called me mother.

If we had all the software CDs for word, Outlook, Powerpoint etc, I wouldn't be quite so far up the gym tree, but we don't and I am.

My boss wasn't in work today so I just emailed her to tell her; I didn't want it hanging over me all weekend. When she reads the email is when the doodah will hit the fan.

But it's not all bad. It gives me a chance to revamp my filing system, make it more efficient, and the computer should run faster without all the junk that was on there. Yes, there are lots of ways that this could be considered to be a good thing.

Just because we've lost all the programs and files, and information and addresses ...

I hear it's nice in Siberia at this time of year.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Did you know?

Sir Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727) invented the cat flap. Today gravity, tomorrow the cat flap. And which really has proved to be the most useful?

Coincidentally the cat flap demonstrates Newton’s third law of motion – for every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction – taking the same amount of time to swing from one side to the other side.

And from the Very Squashed Version of Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy by Sir Isaac Newton, 1687
"I do not know what gravity is. But it seems to be the case that every body in the universe attracts every other body with a force called gravity, which is proportional to the masses of the bodies, and diminishes by the square of the distance between them. No doubt God causes all this."

For a slightly less squashed version go here.

The twilight zone

A few weeks ago I emailed one of the sub-editors on our local paper with an idea for a column. She responded quickly, seemed quite interested and asked if I'd write a sample.

No problem. I did that and emailed it off.

I've since checked with her about three times and each time she says, 'It's with the editor; he's still considering it.'

Now earlier this year - or it might have been last - I contacted a different sub-editor with a different idea. Again she seemed keen and passed it on, yes, you've guessed it, to the editor. Each time I asked her, he was still considering it.

Today I emailed the editor. I asked if the phrase 'the editor's considering it' was a polite way of telling me to get lost. I also might have suggested that he was a figment of everyone's imagination, a black hole into which ideas disappear and from which they never return, although I didn't phrase it quite like that.

Anyway I've had no reply.

So he probably doesn't exist.

Alternatively he may be an alien who has everyone enslaved, captured by the power of his brain waves. He exists in human form simply to blend in with his current surroundings; in reality he is a gooey mass of gunge surrounding a brain capable of transporting itself across the dimensions at will. And now he knows that I have deduced his secret his anger knows no bounds. Even at this moment he is spitting goo and screaming unintelligibly at his sub-editors who stand transfixed, unable to think for themselves.

I should probably expect a knock at the door late tonight when his minion will come to silence me forever by taking my brain under his control.

I can't think of any other reason why he shouldn't reply.

Domestic education

These are my new tea-towels.

Now before you call the men in white coats let me explain. I'm only displaying them because:

a) there hasn't been a photo on this blog for a while and you might get bored;
b) they're pretty.

And I'm supposed to be doing housewifey things and I'm bored.

I have realised once again what gaping holes they are in my education. How do you hand-wash a bra? How do you hand-wash anything if it comes to that?

I put them in a bowl of soapy water, squish them around a bit, and that's as far as it goes. I can't see how they can possibly be clean but at least they smell fresh.

Last night I watched Mona Lisa Smile. In the film, set in a posh girls' school in New England in the fifties, along with Art History, lessons included setting the table when your husband's boss comes to dinner and other vital requirements. They would have known how to hand-wash I'm sure.

The film was okay but it wasn't Dead Poets' Society.

And now I can cross 'wash bras' off my list.

The missing link

I'm noticing a trend in my blogging topics.

Diet. Chocolate. Failure of diet. Chocolate. I wonder if I could be eligible for a research grant to investigate a possible link between these two unlikely subjects. Hmmm, must look into this further. Of course I'd need willing volunteers to help me test some theories ...

No, Harvs, it's not time for your breakfast yet (he has to wait 30 minutes after taking his pill). Five more minutes (holds up hand with five splayed-out fingers). Count them.

Poor thing. I was late getting up this morning having decided not to set the alarm but to let my body decide when to wake up. And I have made a list of what I want to do today. It is very satisfying crossing things off a list. I've already crossed off get up, have breakfast (2 separate things).

Thank you all for your nice comments about my boss and the email. (For some reason Blogger won't let me add comments.) The email wasn't nasty, just pointing things out! It didn't spoil my day this time!

Yes, okay, Harvs, the five minutes is up; I'm coming.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bush signs torture bill

I thought I must have misheard the headline yesterday.

As the news presenter carried on to talk about a variety of other items, I decided I must have got it wrong. it obviously wasn't true that President Bush had signed a bill that allowed evidence obtained during torture to be admissible. If that had been the case then surely it would have warranted more than a brief mention?

As I'd heard no more by this afternoon I googled on 'Bush torture evidence'.

It's true. 'Bush signs torture bill.'

Aren't we glad we have this 'Christian' as the most powerful person in the world?

Saved by the shower

While I was in the shower this morning the phone rang. YS told me it had but he'd been on the toilet. However he'd checked the number that had called and it was my office.

Now my boss is back today after her holiday. I am on tenterhoooks waiting to find out what I have done wrong or forgotten to do while she's been away.

I'm not answering the phone for the rest of the day.

Reason No. 24

Younger Son asked me to take him to his tests today as they were being held in Neath, the next small town, and he didn't want to have to drive and navigate round a strange place, and possibly get lost and be late.

The map he'd been sent of the venue wasn't very clear so I looked it up on the internet this morning. Younger Son appeared. 'Ready to go?' he asked.
'Do you know where we're going?'
'Yes, it's a doddle.'

Now husband quakes in his boots when I say that but YS doesn't have his experience so off we set.

The wrong turn that was a dead end wasn't a big problem; more problematic was the missed turn. As Neath became a tinier speck in my rear-view mirror, I chuckled. 'Never mind, we can soon turn round I expect.'
'It's not funny. I've got 5 minutes. I'm not going to get a job if I'm late.'
'Well, you can tell them it's a crappy map. Or that your mother got lost. Or ...' He was looking straight ahead. I sent up a silent prayer. The next minute we were on the road we were looking for. He got there spot on time. And the tests were late starting!

I had two hours to kill so I went shopping at The Range. It's one of these large stores that has a bit of everything. I'd heard about it but never visited it before.

It was impressive but the thing that astounded me most was the craft section: there must have been four aisles dedicated to scrapping!

Now before I met Shirleen, and through her other scrappers, I was completely unaware of this other world of scrap-booking - and this was a revelation.

So much beautiful paper, bits and pieces, fluffy things, sparkly things, words, stamps, you name it, it was there. I had to keep closing my mouth as it dropped open in wonder. I was ready to buy it by the shelf-full.

But I am too busy already not doing all the things I want to do; I must not start scrapping as well.

What the Range also had was Cadburys Fingers. Yesterday I bought a packet for 79p and thought that was good value; here you could get two packs for 99p. Well, I had to, didn't I?

I would have had a cup of tea in the cafe but there was no money in my purse. Out at the car I emptied my handbag on Betty's bonnet. I found a satsuma, a very old packet of Skittles, and some face powder in a plastic bag, but no cash.

Meanwhile the wind was chasing some leaves that hid behind Betty's door, making the wind blow even harder and send Betty's door crashing against the car alongside.

I tried rubbing the marks off; they didn't seem to want to move. I'd have to leave a note. I was just wondering if I should call the security guard to witness the fact that it wasn't scratched exactly - just in case it was a tricky motorist who would try to claim serious damage - when the lady driver approached.

I explained what had happened; she rubbed half-heartedly at the marks. 'Don't worry about it. This car's had loads of scratches and bangs.'

I could have cried. There I'd been dreading it in case the driver was a ferocious bear who'd had a bad morning and here was this lovely lady telling me not to worry. Bless her. And her car didn't look as if it had had lots of scratches.

Younger Son's tests were easy peasy. One of the logic questions was the old one: If a man builds a house with all the sides facing south, what colour is the bear that walks past? But there were loads of people doing the test and they have another lot tomorrow.

Just a final comment. Going back to Cadburys, I notice they have new adverts on the billboards. They show a large bar of chocolate with the words 'Cocooned under the duvet?' or 'Children asleep in bed?' As if we need reasons to eat chocolate!

Foot in mouth

Reading Shirleen's blog about putting her foot in her mouth reminded me of a conversation I had last night.

A lady was telling me how she'd lain in the bath that morning for an hour pondering on what Jesus had done for us. 'I felt ...' she paused.
I interjected, 'Cold?'
She looked at me and, after a moment, said, 'Overwhelmed by the wonder of it.'

Oh, yes, of course, that's what I meant.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

You are beautiful

"You are not perfect; you are human. You are the only person you can be; you are wonderful. Be yourself."

I've been to Zac's Place again tonight. We started looking at baptism, the history and reasoning behind it. Again lots of different ideas all held together by Sean.

The quote above comes from Gareth. One of the attendees was bemoaning the fact that he sins. 'Get over it! Say you're sorry, and move on.'

Gareth also told us about his pert buttocks, with which he can crack nuts. Some of the bikers posed for a photo shoot recently for a calendar to be sold in aid of a man with MS, to help pay for physio and occupational therapy. Most of the bikers wore their boxers but Gareth played the piano in the nude. He is a rather large man (apart from his buttocks) so this should be an interesting calendar. I'm taking orders ...

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

Younger Son recently applied for a Modern Apprenticeship in Environmental something or other. He has been unemployed and more and more disillusioned since dropping out of university just before Easter. He wasn't enjoying the environmental science course he was doing as it involved too much physics and maths; a MA should be far more practical and to his liking.

Tomorrow he has to take some numeracy, literacy and reasoning tests. I cannot imagine that they will cause him much problem but I would be grateful if you would pray (if you do) that he will be successful in getting onto this apprenticeship scheme. He really needs something to occupy him, to pay him, and to give him some sense of purpose and self-esteem.

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

By the way it might have been Gareth saying those things but it comes from the heart of God. He loves you just as you are.

Time for tea

A teapot made for me!
And here's one for coffee drinkers.
All available from (thanks to Victoria for pointing the way!)

Happiness is ...

Lovely Young Dave (see previous post) asked me today what on earth makes someone want to drive a 30-year-old car with no effective heating or sound system.

I said, 'It makes me happy.'
'No heating or sound system and it makes you you happy? How does it make you happy?'
'It, or rather she, has a happy personality.'
'I guess I'll never understand.'

No, Dave, I guess not. It's like the Welsh idea of hwyl: if you have to ask, you'll never understand it.

Today in work

Alun made me a cup of tea today in work today. I thanked him politely (unusually), put it on my desk and straightaway knocked it over, spilling 90% of my tea over my desk, my mouse, my computer, my drawers.

Lovely Young Dave mopped it up for me and dried my drawers.

Meanwhile Alun, Chris and I had a meeting. We are thinking of producing a Linden recipe book. Chris had the idea that it should have a Calendar Girls cover - only with contributors' faces on other people's bodies. Alun suggested it should be laminated so it can be wiped easily when it gets sticky.

Boys! Last time they were together in the office their schoolboy humour centred on length. I shake my head in despair.

I am the only mature grown-up in the office. You can ask anyone.

But being grown-up does involve solving difficult problems sometimes. I hoped Chris would resolve my problem but he has thrown it back into my court. (Chris is very fond of such sayings: I have had to tell him off before now for letting the rubber hit the road once too often.)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Taking it out

Had a good session in Thrive circuits tonight. One of the stations was a punchball (actually it's a punchpad but you get the picture), and I laid into it with a vengeance.

Thump - you lying little - thump thump - devious - thump - conniving scumbag - thump thump thump. Oh, I did feel better at the end (see previous post). My arms were fit to drop off but it was worth it.

Incidentally, last week I was either in the gym or in circuits 5 days out of 7, for an hour of fairly strenuous exercise each time. And I haven't lost any weight!! What is that about?

The life of an ironing board

It is a grey Monday afternoon here. So grey I am going to have to put the light on and it's only 3.15.

gray - see grey

grey or (esp N Am) gray, adj

It sounds as though it should be gray, but grey is more the norm (except N Am).

Anyway, I've just finished my ironing. On my new ironing board.

Husband was going to the shop the other day to buy a new toaster and I said, 'Get me a new ironing board at the same time.'
'Cos mine's broken.'
'I'll fix it.'
'No, just buy me a new one.'
'Another new one?'
'What the second new one I've had in 28 years of marriage?'
'We've had twelve toasters!'
'Toasters are electrical; you expect them to go wrong. Ironing boards can be fixed.'
'Get me a new ironing board.' (This said through gritted teeth, with an or else hanging unspoken in the air.)

He got me one. Then grumbled that it cost all of £20. 'Could have fixed the other one.'

He's not really mean; he just doesn't understand how ironing boards can have a limited life span.

Of course what I really need is not a new ironing board but an ironer.

When we were first married, my granny came to have Sunday lunch with us every week, before spending the afternoon doing the ironing. She enjoyed ironing, and liked to be useful, and it's not as if she had to do it before she got her dinner. I'm not that horrid.

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

Last night we went to see The Shout. They were on at the theatre in the university - you know the one that hosts the avant garde and unusual, poorly-attended arty productions.

I think we managed to pass ourselves off as intellectual left-wing academic and spouse. At least until I tried to force the ice cube from my glass into my plastic coke bottle.

But The Shout were very good. They're described as ' ... a choir armed with attitude, sixteen megaphones and astounding voices,' and they performed at the Proms this year apparently. Using their voices and home-made percussion instruments they created an amazing range of sounds all around the theme of protest. They began with a Hebrew slave lament and went via the Jarrow marchers to the lost of New York who live in the unused metro tunnels, to a rant about the disappearing English apple. (Many apples were destroyed in this production.)

Even if we didn't understand some of it the sounds made were brilliant. You can tell you're in with the intellectua when the leader introduces one of the singers as, 'to the Shout what Naomi Klein is to the anti-globalisation movement'. Yes, right - that's good is it?

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

Over the last months I have been helping a friend through a difficult time. All I want to say on the subject is that I earnestly pray that justice will be done. At the moment I feel like slapping a devious little sonofabitch. (I never use language like that normally but this is not a normal situation; please excuse me.)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

When peshwari gosht goes astray

We went for a curry last night. Last time we went out for curry, my lamb was so tough that when I tried to cut it, a piece jumped off my plate and landed on the shoe of the woman at the next table. Last night I spilled curry sauce down my cleavage (an admittedly ample cleavage but nevertheless). I fear I am rapidly approaching the time when my children will refuse to eat out with me. Might simply refuse to go out with me as I do have a tendency to get over-excited.

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

In church this morning the speaker was talking about justice. He showed a short film of a woman thrown out of her home because she was the wrong caste. Then he asked people to shout out what emotions were roused by seeing the film. 'Anger', 'indignation', 'a sense of injustice', pity', and 'apathy'. No, the last wasn't shouted by me but it could have been. There was a moment when I felt something which, had it been fueled, could have turned into anger but it disappeared just as quickly as it arrived.

Apathy reigns.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


A card by Edward Monkton

Friday, October 13, 2006

Warning (for Elsie)

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people's gardens.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

By Jenny Joseph

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Happy Birthday, Harvey!

He's 14 today. This photo was taken just before I had to help him move his birthday present chew, which had got stuck on his teeth.

Desert Island Dics

I've stolen this idea from PT's blog. He suggests listing five Dicks you'd like to have on a desert island with you.

These are mine.

1. Dick Turpin because every girl needs a highwayman on her desert island.
2. Dick Barton, our local chippie, so he can do the cooking.
3. Dickie Attenborough's brother, David, as he'll know which animals and plants are dangerous or can be eaten.
4. Richard Burton, so last thing at night he can talk to me of Wales in his lovely sexy voice, and I can fall asleep with images of home in my head.
5. Richard Branson because the whole might of the Virgin empire would be put behind finding him, and when they did, they could set up a supply route for food and essentials, before taking him and David, as we won't need him any more, back to civilisation as they know it. I can't decide whether to let Dick Barton go as well but I'm inclined to keep him to save me having to cook.

That would leave me and Richard and Dick to enjoy our island.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A prisoner in my own bedroom

Dangling from a thread just outside my bedroom door was the biggest spider I'd seen in a long time. It must have been the size of my palm (if it had been completely flattened and its legs stretched a teeny bit). And every time I moved, it moved. Sometimes up, sometimes down.

I couldn't take a chance of it flinging itself on my back if I snook past so I hovered in the doorway, waiting.

Suddenly it dropped 7' to the ground and started running towards to me! Aah, I yelled and jumped up and down to try and deter it. It worked to a certain extent: the spider stopped about 2' from my door.

The same problem existed - I couldn't risk running past in case it threw itself at my foot - but there was the added complication that if I left my bedroom unattended, the spider could crawl in and hide under the bed, or worse, sneak under the duvet!

Leaving the door ajar so I could keep an eye on my little friend, I searched for a rescue aid. Finding it in the form of a hanger, I banged it on the floor near the spider while making loud 'shoo, shoo-ing' noises.

It got the message finally and ran and hid under the suitcase that is still on the landing waiting to go back in the attic. That's fine; I have nothing against spiders. As long as there is a distance between them and me. And they don't try to be over-familiar. I don't want to wake up in the morning, open my eyes and come face to face with one.

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

Driving to visit a friend this morning I noticed that the Mumbles Road, the main road that follows the curve of Swansea Bay, was covered in brown sludgey debris. My friend said there'd been a terrible storm in the night. Younger Son confirmed this; he could see the lightning through closed eyes, and the thunder was terrible.

I slept through it.

This isn't the first time I've slept through a storm.

During the 'great storm of 87' we lived in Southampton. During the night a tree fell down across the road immediately in front of our house - in front of our bedroom window in fact. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it in the morning.

It takes a lot to wake me.

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

Haven't managed to finish the Latin translation yet but I haven't had much time today. I will not give up!

It came from Outer Space

Younger Son was alone in the house yesterday morning when he heard a crash coming from downstairs. He bravely grabbed the nearest hard object, which happened to be a beer bottle, and crept down to investigate.

He found a slightly-puzzled-looking Harvey with an ironing board lying on top of him.

I said, 'Aw, you should have taken a photo!'
YS said, 'I was more concerned with getting it off him and seeing if he was all right.'
'Oh, yes, of course.'

Harvey was fine. Being flattened by an ironing board was just another one of the mysteries of his life that he takes in his stride.

Go on, ask me!

Ask me what I was doing at 11.30 last night!

I was translating a paragraph from Latin.

Aren't you glad you asked?

Strictly speaking, I was trying to translate a paragraph from Latin. And not having a great deal of success. I foolishly mentioned to Dr. Stu Savory that I liked Latin; he kindly sent me 'a bit of Latin practice'. I forgot to say that the last time I did any Latin was 36 years ago. Still I'm not giving up. The challenge is good for the remaining brain cell.

That brain cell was exercised good and proper last night: I went to drumming for the first time for ages. The rhythm we learned consisted of three parts on djembe (as well as several din din parts). I opted to play the simplest part, which consisted of slap, tone, slap. How hard can that be you might think. When you lack a true sense of rhythm, trust me, it's hard.

One of the problems I have is differentiating between slap and tone. A tone is simply a tap on the edge of the drum; a slap is altogether more complicated. These are the instructions for a slap from a drumming website: To make the sound, cup your fingers slightly as you strike the head. After your hand contacts the drum, relax your fingers and let them bounce off the head. The slap stroke makes a ipopi sound of a higher pitch than the basic open tone stroke. When your hit is just right, the sound is bright and projects clearly.
The proper slap sound is like the perfect golf swing or the perfect baseball pitch; some days you have it, and other days you don't.

Let's just say that most days are 'other days' for me.

Oh, the postman's just been. He's early today. Why is all my mail always junk? I have got into a habit of not bothering to open mail that looks boring. One day it will catch me out.

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

Logging on to Blogger today I noticed the Blog of Note is Geek & Poke. I took a look; couldn't understand any of it. I'm doing better with my Latin.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Blogging is definitely good for your education

I decided I'd have to search the net for info on faking trout. And I found this.

Swedish scientist Erik Peterrson told the BBC, 'Sometimes, the female feels the male's timing is off, or it's just "not in the right position."'

Imagine the conversation.
'Well, the sea moved for me; how was it for you, darling?'
'Yeah, yeah, fine, whatever. Got to go now. Other fish to mate, sorry, I mean meet.'
'What do you mean you're going? You're leaving me already? Don't tell me you only wanted me for my sperm!'
'Look, there's no pleasure in this for me either!'

Poor trout. I hope they've both been offered counselling.

And on a slight tangent, I also discovered that, living in the depths of the Tasman Sea, is the deep sea angler fish.

Doctor Norman, one of those involved in the study of Tasman Sea said, 'The female is the size of a tennis ball. It has big savage teeth, little nasty pin eyes . . . and a rod lure off the top of its head with a glowing tip to coax in stupid prey. The male looks like a black jellybean with fins.
When a male finds a female, he bites into her side, never letting go. He drinks her blood, in return for giving her sperm. They remain connected, permanently. It's sexual vampirism, with a bit of dwarfism thrown in. They have found females with up to six males attached.'

It makes me glad I'm human.

Is exercise good for you?

Husband and I went to the gym yesterday afternoon.

I took my faithful plastic bottle filled with good welsh tap water; husband took the posh bottle he'd brought home from his travels.

At the end of the hour-long session I noticed he hadn't drunk any of his water: he said he couldn't get the lid off.

I gave the bottle to Younger Son when we got home; he opened it no problem.

Incidentally, while away, husband has the opportunity (and the free newspaper) to read the Independent. He occasionally tells me of interesting things he has read.

Did you know that a female trout will fake orgasm in order to encourage the male to ejaculate so the female can move on to her next one?

This raises a number of questions:
1) who on earth studies this practice?
2) and why?
3) who pays them to?
4) what does an orgasmic trout look like?
5) and, most importantly, how can they tell she's faking?

But who's counting?

As I write this it's:
76 Days
18 Hours
58 Minutes to Christmas.

I only mention that so you will appreciate how well-organised I am: I have done some Christmas shopping!

Every year I say I will do my shopping early; every year it's late November, December before I start. And then I spend days trying to decide if Great Aunt Betty would prefer a pink china elephant or a green woolly scarf. Or vice versa. Then when I've decided green china elephant would be best, I realise it's outside my price range and I have to start again.

Well, on Saturday while doing my usual shop for food in Sainsburys I noticed they had lots of Christmas gifts on Special Offer. I like to think about what people would like and appreciate but a lot of the people I buy for are distant relatives that I see very little of, and know even less about. So trying to guess their taste is almost impossible. So, for these, I decided on a 'it's the thought that counts' approach, and stocked up on a variety of goodies.

Now all I have to do is:
a) remember that I've bought these presents;
b) remember who I had in mind when I bought them;
c) remember not to buy duplicate presents.

That shouldn't be a problem. Not now I'm taking whatsitcalled to help improve my memory. (Sorry, old joke. It's gingko biloba. I'm taking it in the morning to help me remember to take my cod liver oil and glucosamine {for my joints}, evening primrose oil {for women's stuff}, and my happy pill {speaks for itself}.)

Did I take them this morning? Yes. At least I think I did. Or did I?

What not to wear

Trinny and Suzannah would have the heeby jeebies if they could see me!

(T & S used to present a television show called What Not to Wear in which they helped people choose the opposite of what the title says. Watching their programme and reading their books changed my life! Okay, perhaps that's an exaggeration, but it did have a significant effect on me. By choosing clothes to suit my shape, I feel I can look good and it's improved my confidence no end. But I digress.)

I don't have anything planned for today except a bit of writing and a bit of cleaning so I'm slobbing out. Scruffy clothes, no make-up, unstraightened hair. There's a certain liberation about being comfy and not caring!

So to blogging.

Yesterday's church service went very well. We got a round of applause of Harvey: the movie, and lots of nice comments. And the litany was well-received too.

Yes, a litany. I thought I was supposed to be writing a liturgy - that's what I was told to write - but when I looked it up on the net, I discovered that a liturgy is a prescribed form of service (as Anglicans probably know), while a litany is a form of responsive prayer. Now that's what we wanted!

So, using a pre-written one as a base to work from I developed my own, based on thankfulness. People seemed to appreciate the fact that I was thankful for, not only God's amazing creation and families but also, iron-on hemming and low-fat, high-fibre, reduced sugar snacks (the latter said without a hint of sarcasm! Honest.)

Loads of people stayed for lunch after and enjoyed soup and bread. It was a choice of green or yellow soup as no-one could remember what was what. I didn't stay but came home and enjoyed delicious butternut squash soup, made to daughter's own recipe, with husband.

A good day.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


You lucky people! You're the first to get to see an advance showing of Harvey: the movie, ahead of its premiere in church tomorrow.

Over to the side, underneath the title, it says, The thoughts of me and my dog, and below that is a link to the film Harvey.

All I can say is that Steven Spielberg had better look to his laurels; with me and Harvs in town, there'll be no Oscars left for him!

Harvey is 14 next Thursday and back in April he had a funny turn (possibly a mini-stroke) and for a few days we thought he was just going to fade away quietly. But he revived and is as smelly, hairy, slobbery, deaf and blind as ever he was.

Long-time readers of this blog will remember the ramp we created for Harvey in the summer to enable him to get up into the back garden now that his legs are going and he can't manage steps and there are some shots of him trying it out, as well as a variety of other poses.

When I started looking for photos to use in this montage, I had to stop after the first few packets - he must be the photographed dog in the world!!

I hope you enjoy!

Lights, camera, action!

Harvey is starring in his own film!

No, Harvs, Spielberg isn't coming over for it ... yes, I know he made a film about ET but this is a slightly smaller production.

I'm making it on Windows Moviemaker ... don't turn your nose up, it's not every dog that gets to be a star.

You see we have our Harvest Special Meeting tomorrow and its theme is 'thankfulness'. Some people have been asked to take along something they're thankful for. First of all I said I'd take Harvey but then, remembering his slight loss of control of his bodily functions, I decided, to everyone's relief, to put a little film show together all about him.

So that's what I'm doing this afternoon. Linden Church is notorious for its last minute-ness and I am a Lindenite to my core. I also have to make a large saucepan of soup and a loaf of bread for tomorrow. Oh, and write a liturgy. (After I've looked it up and found out exactly what it is.)

I've got the photos and the captions all set up in the film; I just need a soundtrack now. What I really want is 'Puppy Song' sung by Nilsson but do you think I can work out how to download it?

I tried one download site and it appeared to be under the control of the Russians (nothing against the Russians you understand; it just wasn't what I was expecting.) I've now tried another and though it said in its info that the lifetime fee was at a special rate of $24.44, when I fill in my details it tries to charge me $39.95. And I don't even know if they have the stupid song.

And stop grumbling, Harvey. If you're not careful, I'll forget all about the film and take my hot-water-bottle instead.

Friday, October 06, 2006


I am spitting!

I had a horrendous day at work. Partly because the computer was on a go slow, partly because the printer wouldn't. But mostly because of being patronised and treated like a gullible idiot who has absolutely no judgement. And not getting an apology when I was proved to be right.

I need to kick something. Hard.

Husband gets home tonight after being away all week; I think I should tell him to go away again. I will not be good company this evening.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Poorly Betty

Betty broke down when we were on holiday.

Daughter took her to a computer repair shop and she had to be brought home on a poorly-car-cart.

The man who normally looks after her came to visit and said her starter motor was broken and could we get her to his garage. Seeing as how she wouldn't start and he didn't have a towing lorry, I umm-ed and aah-ed helplessly for a bit before he suggested bump-starting. (I obviously didn't play helpless enough as he didn't offer to do it.)

So this afternoon I dragged Younger Son out to help me (husband is in Glasgow and Winchester this week).

YS pushed us along the bit of road outside our house: no joy. He pushed us across the road in front and onto the road that leads down to the playing fields. Betty was happy to roll down there gently but showed no sign of wanting to start. (I should mention that I am an expert in bump-starting: my first car was a Moggy Traveller.)

I got about a quarter of the way down the road before I started to panic. The rescue man broke the hand-brake cable when he rescued Betty and the combination of not starting and not being able to use the hand-brake was over-taxing my brain. I suggested YS should have a go.

He got in and rolled another two thirds of the way down without success. Then something struck me and I chased after him. 'Should I have switched the immobiliser off before I tried to start?'

He sighed and said it might have been a good idea.

There was just enough room left for him to bump-start Betty successfully.

I was worried about the journey to the garage as it involves hills and queues and I couldn't see how YS could do it without a hand-brake and in fear of stalling. He shook his head at me, sighed again and talked about clutch control.

He got her to the garage all fine and dandy. He is a genius. And a proper driver. I am more of a squeaky sort of driver.

P.S. Incidentally the rescue man also seems to have broken the driver's seat.