Thursday, November 30, 2006

Who's a failure?

I copied this from Neil's blog.

Go to Google, type in 'failure', then click on 'I'm feeling lucky'.

It cheered me up but now back to the cleaning.


A day of cleaning planned today. Elder son, his fiancee and her parents are coming down this weekend and I want to create a good impression.

I rise, pull on scruffy trousers and holey jumper and set to work.

Younger Son has his regular wound dressing at the surgery at 10.45 and, as Betty's gears aren't engaging, he asks me if I will take him in Alfie. I think about washing my face or brushing my hair and teeth but decide that as I'm only going to be in the car, I don't need to bother.

I park in the surgery car park and wait for YS. He returns to the car, I switch on engine and 'uuuuuurrrr'. YS and I look at each other. I try again. 'uuu.'

I walk to payphone a short distance away and call rescue. They say someone should be with us within the hour.

YS and I play I Spy but he is much better at it than me so I refuse to play. We discuss Harry Potter and YS's theories for what will happen in Book 7. We have both always been convinced that Snape is not a baddie.

One and a half hours later I call rescue again.

It seems the breakdown van came but couldn't find us so went away again. The lad on the phone is defensive. 'They tried both car parks. And you didn't give us a mobile number to contact you on.'

The car park we are in is only big enough for 8 cars. If the breakdown man had come in we would have seen him; he would have seen us.

Lad on phone seems to think that it was my fault. He will call them again but this is another call-out and we will have to wait - up to an hour.

Half an hour later a breakdown van arrives. He is not the one sent before; he found us without any difficulty.

He is very nice and gets us started. He says the battery has plenty of charge and if it happens again we might have a faulty battery. I think, 'If it happens again, I might divorce Husband.' For no real reason other than I have to take out my frustration on someone.

We get home nearly three hours after we left.

That's three hours of lost cleaning time.

On the plus side, while we were out an Amazon parcel, containing a birthday present I had ordered for Husband, arrived and was left in the toilet. I didn't think it would get here on time so it's not all bad.

Ship ahoy!

While tidying (please note) this morning I came across this photo. A few years ago a ship got into trouble and was deliberately grounded in the bay down the road from our house. For a day or two, when the tide went out, it was a great visitor attraction.

I could have got a bit closer but I was afraid it might fall on me.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The future and the past

Driving home from PC World this morning (where they gave me a brand-new super-duper-printer - I'm not sure what sort of exchange I was expecting from them - maybe something more in the John Bull line seeing as the printer was almost a year old) I made myself go through town.

Road-works go on apace in order to convert the city centre into a one-way system. It's getting there but it still feels odd to be driving down the wrong side opf the road. I make sure I am following someone - preferably not a council workman who might have the authority to go where we mere mortals can't - and stick in one lane. If that means a slightly longer and more roundabout route than I had intended, well, so be it.

One thing I did notice was signs pointing to the Metro. I know these roadworks have taken some time and I haven't been following their progress closely but surely I would know if they were building an underground system? Apart from anything else, I mean, where would it go? It's only a small city centre really.

So taking this unexpected route home I passed a memorial chapel at the bottom of a block of flats. When I was in school there was a church on this site and the wife of the minister there taught us history.

I can't remember any history she taught us - or even what periods in history we covered - but I do remember the first few sentences she spoke to her new class of eleven-year-old girls.
'My name is Mrs Brynmor-Jones. That's Brynmor, not Bryn-y-mor, which is the road. And you needn't tell me I still have my hat on as I know: I don't take it off.'

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it an angel?

If you've read any of my previous posts about Zac's Place you'll have got the picture that there are one or two characters there. The core of the Tribal Gathering (as the Tuesday night Bible study is called) consists of members of the Welsh chapter of the God Squad, Christian motor-bikers. Along with bikers from all over Wales they recently posed for a calendar to be sold in aid of the MS Society. Said calendar was launched last week and our boys are April. For copyright reasons I can't show you the whole photo (and possibly also for reasons of good taste) but I can give you this little taster.

Look away now if easily shocked.

Blossom at the piano.

This week continuing the look at the Christmas story we examined the role of angels in it, and in other places where they crop up. Sean asked if anyone had had any angelic experiences. Blossom (above) recalled a time he'd run out of petrol on a motorway, a man in a car had stopped, picked him up, taken him to the nearest garage and then returned him to his bike. The Bible says we won't always recognise angels; maybe that was one. It sounded slightly more likely to my ears than the angel who crept up on Blossom when he was folding blankets - but maybe I'm too cynical.

A few years ago I ghost-wrote the autobiography of a New York cop who worked the Harlem beat. He reckoned he had met angels.

"When I arrived at the subway station, I ran down the steps to the platform. I heard the trouble before I saw it, the sounds of raised voices echoing up the steps. Ahead of me I saw a crowd of people jostling and pushing each other. In the midst of them was a cop. He was injured and I could see he was struggling to handcuff one guy who was mouthing off and resisting arrest. At that time of night, some of the people you find on subways aren't the type to be very helpful to the police, and this crowd was no different. They were insulting and harassing the cop, trying to prevent the arrest. They didn't notice me arrive so, with the element of surprise on my side, I burst through the crowd and took hold of the prisoner before they could stop me. This made them really mad and they turned on me. I heard someone shout, 'Throw the cop onto the tracks.' Arms grabbed me and pushed me towards the edge of the platform. I had to let go of the prisoner as I struggled to resist but there were too many of them and I could feel myself getting closer and closer to the train tracks. Coming from inside the tunnel I could see two enormous yellow headlights bearing down the tracks and I could hear the roar of the train getting louder as it got closer. Just as I was on the edge of the platform, about to be pushed onto the tracks, I cried out, 'Jesus, help me!'
Suddenly two big black guys appeared out of the crowd, pushing people aside. 'Officer, follow us,' one of them said. 'Sure, I'll follow you anywhere,' I said, gratefully. Because the crowd was caught by surprise, I was able to get hold of the prisoner again before we made our way up out of the subway. The two black guys went in front, clearing the way, and the injured cop came behind me, his hand on my shoulder. Up on the street I pushed the prisoner into the back of the waiting patrol car, and turned round to thank the guys who had saved us, but there were crowds of people milling around and I couldn't see them anywhere. I didn't want to hang around so I shouted out, 'Thanks for your help, guys,' and climbed into the back seat next to the prisoner. 'C'mon, let's go,' I said.
The wounded cop was sitting up front next to the driver and as we left the scene he turned around to me and said, 'Mike, that was some job you did getting the prisoner through the crowd.'
'Yeah, I thought we were done for,' I said. 'Thank God for those two guys going ahead of us pushing people aside.'
'What two guys?'
'The two black guys who were pushing the crowds out of the way.'
'I didn't see no black guys helping us.'
'You must have seen them. They were talking to us, told us to follow them.'
'I didn'
t hear nothing.'I was puzzled. I'd definitely seen and heard these two guys who had saved us. If it hadn't been for them, I figured I'd have been dead by now. But why hadn't the other cop seen them? Just then some words from the Bible came into my head. 'Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to help believers?' (Hebrews 1:14)
'Naah,' I thought, 'it can't have been.'
But I couldn't get the possibility out of my mind. I was a believer and I had certainly needed help. I stored the memory in my head and in my heart but I didn't tell many people about it. It's not a smart thing to do, telling New York people that you're a cop who sees angels!"

Can't blog yet

I'm not letting myself blog until I've done some cleaning, showered, been to the Post Office and PC World (again), and bought some presents for husband's birthday on Friday.

So I won't.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

One for the girls' eyes only

The most comments I've ever received came when I wrote about bras so this time I'm dealing with knickers.

Does anyone else choose their knickers based on what they're planning to do that day?

There's a variety in the drawer to choose from. There are the comfy ones, the sexy ones, the sporty ones, and the ones to wear when there're absolutely no other clean ones in the house. Choose the wrong one and I'm in trouble.

Choose the comfy ones when I'll be doing circuits later and I'm destined to spend the class trying - and failing - to surreptitiously pull them back up my bottom from where they've sidled down to my thighs. It's impossible to be surreptitious in shorts.

Choose sporty, close-fitting ones for an evening (three hours) sitting in a hot theatre and it's hard to remain focused on the production, however good it is.

Choose the no-choice ones at any time and I'd better be planning to spend the day alone indoors.

And who are the sexy ones for? Husband? I'm pleased to say he doesn't really need them. Me? Yes, they make me feel good. And that gives me confidence. Perhaps I should go and buy some more!

But I'm not even going to consider the manifestly-male-designed comfort-free thong.

A rather trying day

Betty has decided she doesn't like first gear.

However her dislike of that gear pales into latte froth when compared to her newly-found hatred of reverse. I had to sit in the car park outside PC World for some time until the car in front of me moved so I could drive straight out.

And why was I in PC World? I know you're longing to know.

Our printer in the office has been playing up for months. Well, since we had it back in January actually but we kept putting it down to teething troubles until it got beyond a joke. Then Alun took it back to the shop. That was about two months ago. They kept it (or sent it away they said) and forgot to return it until we nagged them. When we eventually got it back it came without its little plastic cover bit - but that didn't really matter. What did matter was that it still wasn't working properly.

At first it was moderately well-behaved but it soon showed its true colours - and they weren't orange. I started nagging Alun to take it back; he kept phoning them instead.

This afternoon I decided it needed an angry woman to deal with them so I returned it (which is when I discovered that Betty had taken this dislike to various gears).
{Why is it Bette (Bet) Midler but Bette (Betty) Davis?}

This was after I had tried to print one full sheet of writing. The top and bottom lines were printed but nothing in-between. And they were printed 9 times (that was before I pulled the plug on it as it refused to listen to any of my Cancel instructions) in between 9 blank sheets.

On restart I tried to print something different: the printer decided to routinely maintain itself. And continued to maintain itself for 15 minutes. When I tried to push the off switch, it said, 'Maintenance cannot be interrupted'. Memories of Hal and Space Odyssey.

It was a pretty mad woman who marched into PC World and then stood and waited for 10 minutes to be seen to. I explained the problem to an assistant who disappeared, promising to return straightaway. Five minutes later he came back with the manager. He wanted to check the machine so he disappeared for ten minutes. He briefly appeared and said, 'won't be a minute,' before disappearing for another five.

They will exchange it for me but only when I bring in the disc and the cable. 'Will you be back this afternoon?' he asked.
'No, I flipping will not. I will be lucky if I get home this afternoon let alone anywhere else.'

Then guess what was waiting for me when I arrived home? Yes, a rejection letter.

There is only way to deal with a day like this. Eat half a packet of chocolate biscuits.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Christmas decorations with a difference

Found this photo on - whose blog was it? I'll have to check and report back. Spot the pizza slice and the Harley.

Thrive circuit training was hard tonight but I was pleased that it included boxing. That meant that I was able to restrain myself from going and slapping a certain person. Hard. With a baseball bat.

I'm not usually a violent person you understand but some people's actions would make Ghandi pick up a gun.


Can you hear it?

There's a custard slice calling me.

What colour blue am I?

You Are Royal Blue
People find you difficult to understand. In fact, you often find it hard to understand yourself.You think so much that sometimes you get lost in your own thoughts!
What Color Blue Are You?
P.S. That should say at the top that I am Royal Blue!

Still going strong

A few posts ago I made the comment that it is a shame that German cars aren't as reliable as German washing-machines (are alleged to be). I'm surprised no-one picked me up on that!

When I planned that post I intended to add a postscript at the end (or possibly the beginning) but I forgot and it's been bothering me so I shall put it right now.

Alfie Porsche is 16 years old; Betty Beetle is 34. If a bit of battery trouble is all that worries them then I think that's probably testament to their quality.

That's all. Just wanted to set the record straight.

Spot the difference

Clown's nose

My nose

Yes, it's cold sore time again.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I'm so glad I'm not an Emperor Penguin

We were in the gym yesterday afternoon; Husband has said he will not go with me again.

On the treadmill I was plugged into the game between Scotland and Australia, and you know what it's like when you have headphones on: you forget there is another world outside your head. I knew I squeaked a few times, either with excitement or disbelief, but I didn't realise I was talking to myself - out loud - as well.

Husband wasn't close enough to hear what I was saying, which is a shame as I would have been interested.

I won't talk any more about rugby except to say that it's more important for Wales to peak next autumn, when the World Cup is on. That's what really counts, not friendly internationals where the score isn't important.

I can say that now some time has elapsed. Last night I was supposed to be cooking a Cambodian noodle dish but English husband and I were both in need of comfort food so we had bread and cheese instead.

Still on a sporting theme though, head-teachers in Swansea have axed inter-school sports matches. There is a fear that parents who volunteer to drive children to matches may not have the necessary insurance, or they may have criminal records. I am speechless.

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

I bought some glasses yesterday. Off the peg glasses from a supermarket. I am a bit concerned about it. Should you buy glasses from anyone other than a qualified opto-whatever-it-is? Do you risk damaging your eyesight?

Or is it like when you took the children to have their feet measured for shoes? A clever electronic device says your child is size 2C; size 2C shoes don't fit. 'Try 1E; they might be better,' the assistant says.

But these glasses are only for the toilet; I don't think Garfield and Snoopy will do much harm to my eyes.

P.S. I haven't forgotten that I've been tagged and will respond soon!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

80 minutes to change a record

My stomach has had a little knot in it for most of the day.

It's a mixture of hope and dread.

In less than half hour the game between Wales and the All Blacks kicks off. For a long time Wales hasn't had a team as good as the one fielded tonight. But this match will be the test of how far we've come or how far we have to go.

Joe Rococoko, one of the try-scorers in the All Blacks record win over England the other week, isn't even on the substitutes bench tonight, such is the strength of the New Zealand team. They are being widely acclaimed as the next (2007) World Cup winners

It's been 55 years since Wales beat the All Blacks. One NZ journalists referred to Wales as the 'village idiots of world rugby'. I hope that newspaper cutting is pinned up on the Welsh changing -room wall.

To captain Stephen and the team: we're all behind you. Come on, Wales!

Heaven is a washing-machine

Even as I write my new washing-machine is busy washing away.

After much research Husband decided the German makes were best for reliability (shame the same can't be said for their cars!) so we invested in a bottom of the range Miele and here it is. Pretty as a picture.

It looks as though it has lots of buttons but it's very simple to use and I only use the basic settings so I am a very happy and soon-to-be-clean bunnykins.

Unlike Harvey who was not happy when the washing-machine was brought into the kitchen by Husband with scant regard for dog's personal space.

Harvey has mastered the art of 'Don't you feel sorry for me, having such a dog's life?'
In case you're not convinced!

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Persephone Books reprints forgotten classics by twentieth-century (mostly women) writers. Their titles include novels, short stories, diaries and cookery books. And they're delicious. To look at as well as read.

I'm putting A London Child of the 1870s on my Christmas list, but you might prefer Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson or Flush by Virginia Woolf.

Take a look at their website

How weird am I?

I've been tagged for this game by Serena. The rules are as follows:
1. Write six weird things about yourself.
2. Post this confession of the absurd on your blog.
3. Tag six other bloggers to do the same challenge.
4. Leave a comment on each of their blogs to inform them they have been chosen.

Six weird things about me? I can't think of anything weird. Ho hum, think, think.

Okay, I've got three.

1. Serena talks about clocks. For years I have wanted a clock that ticks for my living-room. A clock ticking in an otherwise silent room is incredibly peaceful and soothing. As long as it is the right speed. Finding a clock that ticks, let alone at the right speed and rhythm and loudness, is very hard to do. It doesn't have to tell the right time, just tick.

2. I hate the number 7. The sound and spelling of it. I will avoid it wherever possible.

3. There are other numbers, mainly odd ones, I don't like so when I write a post, rather than put the right time on it, I will put the nearest time that I like the look of. For instance, I wouldn't post a post at 2.27 but would call it 2.25. However I don't mind 7 o'clock. 7.17 though - urgh!

What else?

I have consulted Daughter. She suggested that eating cold baked beans could be considered weird but I don't think so. However ...

4. I have six toes and a bent little finger.

5. The Guinness Book of Records turned down my request to be recognised as recipient of the fastest manuscript rejection in history (ten minutes).

6. At one time I was the only girl in a surf club and I won the prize draw of a new surfboard.

Now I tag: Holly, Hershey, Bailey, Simi, Frieda, Clare.

My new washing-machine has arrived!

Although it nearly didn't!

The delivery van pulled up outside. There was a long pause. Then the phone rang. 'Mrs Hinds, this is Currys delivery; we've got your washing-machine.'
'We're outside 209 and we can't find 208.'
'There isn't a 209; you're outside 208.'
'No, we're outside 209.'
'You're outside 208, with the white Beetle.'

They were not happy men. We have steep steps up to our front door. 'This is the heaviest make of washing-machine there is,' they grumbled.
'That's because they're built to be reliable - so you won't need to come back here again in a hurry.' My attempt at consoling words didn't seem to console them.

Now I just have to wait for the weekend and for husband to be home to plumb it in for me. Then I'll be able to start on the mountain of washing that has built up. Oh goody. How three of us create so much washing is beyond my understanding.

Links across the ocean

The eight grand murals adorning the walls of the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco were painted by Frank Brangwyn as commissioned works for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915.

In 1924 the House of Lords in London commissioned Frank Brangwyn to produce panels for the Royal Gallery in the Palace of Westminster. Five were completed and when displayed in the Royal Gallery were the subject of public controversy and criticism. They were turned down as being too colourful and lively, and now have a home in Swansea, in the Brangwyn Hall.

The image on the left is in San Francisco and, on the right, in Swansea.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends!

How perfect is my life?

Your Life is 84% Perfect
You truly have the perfect life. And you probably feel like the luckiest person in the world.You have a great career, family, and personal life. You have it going on!
How Perfect is Your Life?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Alfie hates me

He can't forgive me for marring his beauty. He broke down in Sainsburys car park today.

Problem 1
I don't have the recovery service card with the telephone number on it.
Phone Younger Son.

Problem 2
I don't have a mobile phone.
Go and use the payphone in Sainsburys

Problem 3
I don't have any money.
Take the voucher that I forgot to exchange for the butter - that I bought especially because I had a voucher - to the Help Desk and ask them for money.

Problem 4
The payphone isn't working.
Ask the lady on the tobacco desk if there's another payphone. (There isn't but she lets me use their phone.)

Phone YS, get number; phone recovery service. Explain problem.
'And this is the white Beetle?' she says resignedly (it's the fifth time we've called them out recently).
'No, the white Porsche.'
'Okay, what model?'
'9 ... 44?'
'And the registration mark?'
Long silence.
'Hello? The registration mark?'
'I don't have a clue.'

Anyway the recovery man finds me and we both stare at the car. 'How do you open the bonnet?' he says, after inadvertently opening the boot. He wanders around while I stand and look fixedly at the bonnet, hoping mind over matter will do the trick.

Eventually the bonnet is opened and we both peer in. 'Can you see the battery?' he says.
I say, 'I know where it is on a Beetle.'

It turns out it's in the boot - under my shopping.

He was a very nice recovery man. Told me what to do next time and I got home fine.

While I was sitting waiting for him to arrive, I counted the number of times I have broken down in Sainsburys car park. I decided it was at least 6, including twice in the petrol station.

Perhaps if I insist on driving old cars I should rethink my refusal to own a mobile phone. But, hey, I get by.

And the lesson to be learned from today: it is possible to exchange money-off vouchers at the Help Desk after checking-out.


There's a new face in Zac's (new to me anyway). He's of slight build, wearing a red coat, and with alcohol on his breath. He sits at a table and his eyes are focused somewhere way beyond the confines of the room. I guess that he has stumbled across the place and is grateful for somewhere warm indoors to spend an evening; I think he will be asleep before long.

We're continuing in the run-up to Christmas with a look at Mary. I'd told Sean I had written a 'Mary monologue' and he'd asks me to read it. Before that we look at the places in the Bible that Mary gets a mention. A very world-wise view is expressed of how it would have been for both Mary and Joseph: a pregnant unmarried girl and the man who has to decide whether to take her on or cast her off.

Redcoat isn't asleep but is following intently. He has always felt that Joseph is undervalued. Several times he interrupts and in a rambling, drawn-out fashion - the pauses typical, I think, of a drunk getting his thoughts together - makes this point. Given the chance, I would exchange knowing smiles with someone. If I had been in charge I would have been tempted to step in, in one of the pauses, and carry on with what I was saying, hoping he would get the message, but Sean waits patiently until he is sure he has finished. Others speak up and acknowledge the truth of what he is saying, giving him respect. Then Sean asks me to read.

As Lily says afterwards, 'You could have heard a pin drop,' while I read.

In my superior writer way I think I know who will appreciate my writing; who will 'get' it. I am so wrong. There is a buzz of acknowledgement when I finish; I am stunned.

Then Blossom reads aloud Joseph's monologue. I can hear his voice tremble as he reaches the end; a phrase has struck home with him.

At the end of the bible study the first person to come and speak to me is Redcoat. 'That was incredible,' he says. I am humbled.

Yes, the people I think will get it do; but there is so much more than that. Others speak to me, those with whom I have exchanged no more than a nod and smile. Tonight I feel totally accepted.

The gift of writing is a fabulous God-given one. I have approached publishers with my monologues but 'no-one reads monologues these days.' They're obviously intended for a smaller, more specialised audience.

P.S. I say, 'smaller'. That word seems somehow out of place in the same post as one that mentions Blossom. He is larger than life, in so many ways.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Oh dear

Alfie Porsche had a closer than recommended encounter with a lamp-post today. It's not really bad, hardly noticeable in fact. It might even wash off ...

The question is: are England playing rugby this weekend and, if so, are they likely to win? The answers may determine when I tell Husband about the teeny tiny mark on his pride and joy.

It's the fault of the Germans really. They shouldn't have built such a wide car. Yes, that's it; it's not my fault at all.

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

Will I ever learn?

I often ask myself this question making me suspect that the answer is 'no'.

In this instance it's perfume. I was waiting in the chemists for a prescription and they had lots of new perfumes on sale, and, of course, each had a tester. I wasn't tempted by Kylie or Celine but then sniffed a couple that seemed fresh and flowery. I squirted one on my left hand and one on my right.

Within three minutes I had realised my mistake. All the good perfumes were invented a long time ago.

But why is it that when I spray - cover - myself in perfume that I love and want to smell of, the scent disappears before I've left the house, while a sample that I rapidly loathe stays with me for hours in spite of numerous washings?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sex and sums

Contrary to what some people i.e. my immediate family, believe I do not spend my days doing nothing. Only today I have been in conversation with a renowned cryptographer (retired) on the subjects of infinity and maths. Where I have been going wrong is in thinking X is real, when it's just pretending.

And to prove it (what I have been doing that is, not that X isn't real) here is a sample of our communication:
... you can multiply numbers by twirling them, so X times X twirls you to -1. Adding the angles of twirl (here twice) gets you 180 for the multiplication. So twirling through 90 degrees is the square root. Twirling through 60 degrees gets you the cube roots ( 60+60+60=180 degrees) and twirling through 5 degrees gets you the 36th root etc etc.

Pretty impressive eh? I must point out, in case there's any doubt, that was Dr Stu speaking. My part of the conversation revolved less around imaginary numbers and more around imaginary friends.

I will say it again: blogging is good for your education.

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

The quiz in the post below was snitched from Winston's blog, as is the news that 9 English people, aged from 73 to 98, have been thrown out of a nursing home after a naked orgy. They'd lit candles and put on music - in fact it was the sound of the rumba that alerted a member of staff who discovered the nine covered only in baby oil.

The best bit in the whole report is the quote, 'This may sound harmless or amusing to some people but Scarborough has a reputation to uphold.'

The funsters must have been borrowing books from Scarborough (USA) library, where they can choose from a selection of Resources for Seniors, including Sex & Love for Grownups: A No-nonsense Guide to a Life of Passion and Sex and the Seasoned Woman: Pursuing the Passionate Life.

But I do hope they bore in mind the fact "... that baby oil could be a bit dangerous, someone could slip and break a hip ... or anything, in fact."

P.S. A little googling and I realise this report is originally from 2002.

Not bad for a Welsh girl

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Northeast

Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak.

The Inland North
The Midland
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Lizard Woman

Just blog-browsing while taking a break from wirtnig - yes, it's been so long since I did any that I've forgotten how to spell it - when I came across a comment from a lady who had used her photo in that little profile thing/bit that appears when you write a comment. She had mentioned something to do with activities for little children.

I've never seen a face that so totally says, 'I am an earnest and dedicated mum who believes in doing everything with my children, ensuring that they can experience every art form, scientific wonder, literary and dramatic event, in short doing everything it is possible for me to do to ensure that these little wonders of creation can develop into well-rounded bigger beings. We cycle and recycle; we got to the art gallery and museums; we go to Tiny Tots gym and always attend the library for the story-telling sessions. We eat raw carrots and raisins, discuss with our infants the issues raised in Teletubbies and pay utmost attention to our children whose every need comes first. So if I am talking to you and my child interrupts, I will respond to my child rather than telling him to wait a moment while I finish my conversation.'

My word, that is a rant. These women are wonderful. I'm sure they are. They're just not me. They might have been once upon a time but that was before I had children. (We did do lots of things; I don't think my children suffered.)

That probably all confirms how hard-hearted I am. I think I am possibly reptilian. When I got into bed last night, I shivered and said, 'I'm cold.'
Husband said, 'You feel warm to me.'
'That's just on the outside; on the inside I'm cold.'

Husband's work is waving redundancy notices around again. I told him, if he gets made redundant, he could apply for a research grant into reptilian women living today. In order to pursue the subject thoroughly he would need to undertake worldwide research so the grant would have to be large enough to cover that expense. And obviously I would have to accompany him as the control.

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

Daughter suggested getting a rug to brighten up our dingy hall until the time when we get round to decorating. So on Saturday we combined rug-selecting with washing-machine purchasing.

Trouble was that we hadn't measured the hall. 'No problem,' said Husband, who set to work with a scrap of paper and a pen. 'Right, this is the maximum but a little bit smaller would be better.'

We got one a little bit smaller, brought it home, put it down in the hall and it got lost.

I should explain that our hall is more room-sized than hall-sized. (Oh, flipping heck, I keep getting these message from Dell popping up on screen, accompanied by a space-age whirrrl. Makes me jump every time.)

Harvey approves of the new rug though. And he hasn't pooped on it yet.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Memories and meanderings (again)

Why is it that the day I am on welcoming duty at church, and I am just a teeny bit late getting there, half the congregation (for want of a better word) gets there early - or on time, which is the same as early for Linden?

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

Husband bought me season 7 of West Wing on DVD for my birthday, and we've been watching it avidly ever since. For those of you who aren't familiar with West Wing: you don't know what you're missing.

Last night it was the live debate between the presidential candidates, Matt Santos and Arnie Vinnick, aka Hawkeye from M.A.S.H. Harvey and I talked about this when we were out walking this afternoon. I wondered how it came to be that a radical, rebellious doctor could end up as a republican, albeit liberal. Harvey sniffed and said he couldn't really comment as he'd never seen MASH, as it was broadcast before he was born. I said that a dog who is 98 in human years should be careful about whom he is calling old.

Anyway, it did make me wonder what Hawkeye would vote today. Maybe being so disillusioned about the whole doctoring in war thing would have warped his thinking so dramatically that he would be a Republican. Or maybe he always was. No, surely not.

Harvey, having got bored with this conversation, pointed out the flock of seagulls and five oyster-catchers on the water-logged playing-fields. We crept up on them; they flew away.

All except three. I said, 'Come on, Harvs, we've got be really sneaky now,' and tippy-toed through a puddle. Two of them spotted us and flew away.

That left just one who was standing with his back towards us, staring aimlessly into space. 'Shhhh.' Two steps closer. The seagull turns around but doesn't panic. Another three steps closer. The seagull watches us (me - Harvey has wandered off in the opposite direction following a more interesting smell).

I am close enough now to see the seagull shake his head in an 'I give up with these humans' sort of way, and hear him sigh, before taking off to join his buddies on the next football pitch.

I do what Harvs does in this situation: pretend I was just walking that way anyway and that I'm not in the least bit interested in seagulls.

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

Lots of people use the playing fields to practise their golf. As a result Harvs and I quite often find golf balls in the bushes. Let's be honest: I look out for them. I feel a great sense of achievement if I can take one home with me. Not that I play golf; it's just the hunter/gatherer, something-for-free instinct. It's why I have to gather blackberries. And conkers.

When I was a little girl I went, on occasion, with my grandmother to collect cockles from the bay. This was just before the signs went up forbidding the collecting of cockles on the grounds that the bay was highly polluted. Huh! I grew up not only eating cockles from the bay, but swimming in it too. It didn't do me any harm. I'm as normal as my dog.

I used these and other memories as the foundation for a short story I wrote a few years ago. Here is an excerpt in which the narrator, a slightly disturbed middle-aged woman, remembers going cockling.

I love the smell of the sea. I can smell it in the house sometimes when the wind is in the right direction, and then I open all the windows to let it in, but out here, coming straight off the water, it's sweeter, untainted by town odours. And sweetest because it carries with it so many memories.

When I was a little girl mammy would take me with her to gather cockles. In those days we didn't know about the pollution in the bay, all the chemicals from the industry in the valley that nobody bothered to clean up but poured straight down the Tawe into our lovely bay. The poison and the shit, we didn't know about any of that. We took the sea for granted, it was just there. It was where we learnt to swim, me and John, off the steps out along the prom. Mammy would sit at the top and watch us, and when we'd had enough, when our teeth were chattering so much neither of us could stand it any more, and we'd have to give in, she'd wrap us both in big stripey towels she kept just for summer and swimming, and she'd rub us down till we shouted to her to stop, we're warm now, mammy.

But you could only swim in the bay when the tide was in. When it's out, it's a mile at least to get to it through squelchy mud. Like melted chocolate, mud that slurps around your toes and sucks you into itself. We didn't walk on it if we could help it except when we went with mammy to collect cockles. Then we all, mammy and John and me, wore wellies to protect us against whatever was lurking there. We never saw anything but we knew there were things below the surface just waiting for our feet.

You've got to follow the tide out if you want to collect cockles. Mammy liked best to go in the early mornings, when the sun was light and clear, and the air was salty fresh. She would carry the rake and bucket and John and me would skip from puddle to puddle spotting crabs and tiny shrimps. By the time you got all the way out to the best cockle beds, you couldn't hear a sound; the village and its life and noise could have been a million miles away, not just across the sandbanks. We wouldn't be alone, there were always a few people out there gathering cockles, and they'd say, 'There's a good bed here, come and join us,' and we'd go over and then the hard work would start.

Mammy would rake the sand and John and me would collect up the cockles and put them in our bucket. 'Not that one,' mammy would say sometimes, 'that one's too small, leave it time to grow up a bit, take its big sister instead.' Or, 'That's an ugly old one, all open like that, we don't want his sort.' Then when our bucket was full, we'd carry it between us over to the nearest puddle and we'd rinse them to get rid of as much sand as we could, before carrying them all the way back home. We'd take it in turns. Mammy would carry the bucket for a bit and then John and me would struggle with the narrow metal handle digging into our palms. Mammy made up a game for us to play as we trekked back shorewards. We'd look at the village and spot people's houses and try and guess what they were doing right at that moment. 'Mr Rees, he'll have been out for hours with the fishing boat and Mrs Rees will be washing the children's clothes. Imagine having seven children to wash for,' mammy would say.

'Poor Mrs Rees. And old Mrs Evans will be sitting at her window waiting for her son to come back from the war.'
'Can you see her? Cooee, Mrs Evans.'
'Don't be daft, John, she can't hear you.'
'I know that, she wouldn't hear the foghorn if it was in her front room. And there's Mrs Penry's house, la di da, bet she's still in bed, waiting for her maid to bring her breakfast, yes ma'am, no ma'am, thank you ma'am.'

Then when we got home, the old tin bath would be out ready in the back-yard. Daddy would have got it out from the shed. Not the best bath, the one we use on Sunday night, but the one that leaks and can't go inside, and we'd be set to, fetching jugs of water from the outside tap to wash the cockles. Mammy would wash them until she was sure they were clean. Not a grain of sand would be found in those shells once mammy had finished with them, then she'd take them into the scullery and we could go and play, until she called us to come and eat them. The sweetest mouthfuls ever to come out of the sand and all the better for the work we'd had to do getting them. With crispy fried best bacon, it had to be best, Mammy only ever bought the best food. She knew how to look after her family.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

As my granny would have said,

'They'll get under my plate!'

I can't remember why, back in early 2004, I bought a packet of poppy seeds. (The cooking-with sort not the planting.) I must have forgotten fairly soon after buying them as I found the unopened packet in the pantry today. Along with an open pack of almonds (use by Jan 2005), some flour that, had I looked closely enough, probably contained weevils, and a packet of pasta with leek and cheese, that wasn't out of date but I threw it away anyway as it tastes horrid.

I'm sure it wasn't that long ago that I last sorted out the pantry. I only did it today (well, one shelf of it actually) because things kept falling off.

In between chucking out past-the-sell-by-date goods and cooking chilli, I choreographed a dance. Is there no end to her talent, I can hear you saying. I amaze even myself sometimes.

Now what I need is for Husband and Younger Son to join me in the dance, which we will simultaneously videotape, before publishing on YouTube.

Or perhaps not.

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

Betty broke down again today.

This time, instead of calling the rescue service, Younger Son called Husband. He was able to fix Betty with a bit of silver paper. Husband is a genius. You should see what he can do with an elastic band and a toothpick.

And like I said, 'You couldn't do that with a new car.'


Younger Son didn't get the job.

As a wannabe writer I'm used to rejection. It always hurts but I can treat it with resignation, expectation even. It's like being out in the rain wearing a plastic mac: there's a black cloud over you and you feel damp but the worst of the downpour just runs off your mac.

It's different when it's your child being rejected.

I want to rant and shout at the idiots who didn't give him the job. How dare they? He was well-qualified and enthusiastic: he wanted this job and he'd have been good at it. I'd like to slap them and tell them how stupid they're being.

Or go along and argue with them and explain why they should offer him the job, and point out what a big mistake they're making. Mutter, mutter.

But I won't do anything. Except cuddle my big monster, and buy him chocolate Hobnobs, and try not to nag.

Pah humbug.

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

Husband has confirmed my diagnosis: the washing-machine's bottom has fallen out. Unfortunately there's no known cure. WM was described as DOA.

We've been out to look at replacements this morning. You wouldn't believe how many buttons and knobs some of them have. Or different wash cycles. There's a Sports Wash, a Baby Wash, a Starch Wash. (Starch? Who uses starch these days?) For goodness' sake, I've given up trying to use the video recorder (if there's something on that I want to see and I'm going to be out, well then, I'll just miss it) but I can't not wash clothes. It's got to be simple; I don't have a child of six to hand.

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

Shane Williams, one of Wales's sparkling wings, says, after last night's 61-26 victory over Canada, that Wales can beat the All Blacks. You have to admire his confidence. Some of us would say, 'Not if they play like they played yesterday.'

Still if you're playing the All Blacks, probably the best team in the world at the moment, and you don't have that confidence, you might as well stay in bed.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's reining deers

You know you're spending too much time in a shop when they give you a birthday present.

This reindeer was mine from Sainsburys. Yes, I know it's just a rabbit with antlers painted on its ears but I like it.

It's not as big as you might think.

But its bell tinkles.

Cast your mind back

... to the post about the mis-translated fire advice. At the time I tried to doctor a photo of a donkey but gave up as I didn't know how to use whatever program I was using. Now thanks to an ingenious little piece of software discovered by Serena, I've managed to do what i intended.

Better late than never. Or possibly not.

Days of wine and brie

When I wrote the Zac's post I forgot to mention something important.

I told Tony that I helped in the prison with Sunday services, 'but sometimes I wonder if there's any point me being there. Let's face it, I have very little in common with the men; how can I connect with them? Bring them anything of value?'

Without hesitating Tony said, 'You have a degree. You've stuck at education; you've persevered, achieved something. You've got that to offer.'

I'd never thought of it like that before. I've always tended to consider my degree in oceanography as second-class as it was - as my father-in-law says, 'You don't even know what time the tide is in!' - but seen through his eyes it becomes an achievement. Thank you, Tony.

With a degree in oceanography and a Phillips screwdriver, the world will be my cockle.

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

Most of the bikers seem to have machines of 900 or 1000 cc; I wonder how they'd cope on a European tour on a 175 cc bike.

European tour is a bit grand: it was only France and Spain. Oh, yes, and Andorra. My then-boyfriend, on whose bike we were travelling, had done a field trip to Andorra and wanted to re-visit the family he had stayed with. That done we headed off down the Pyrennees.

Did I mention that as well as us the bike had to carry all our camping gear? So we're trundling down the mountains and we pull into a layby to admire the view. A car pulls in behind us; the driver leans out, 'Do you know that you dropped your tent back up the mountain?'
'Did we? Gee thanks.'

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The sisterhood would be proud of me

Who needs a repair-man when you've got a Phillips screwdriver?

Actually I do, but I know what's wrong.

I took the top off the washing-machine - having first switched off the electricity which is more than husband would do - and dug in. I figured something holding the tub must have worked loose. It hadn't. It all looked fine.

Then I tipped it up and, what do you know? The bottom had fallen out of its world. (I'd like to say it was my intention to tip it up and look underneath but it happened accidentally as I was pushing the machine back under the work-surface.)

But at least I know what the problem is. It might even be something that husband can fix when he gets home at the weekend. If he gets home.

He is not in his usual hotel this week; he is staying in a zoo, complete with animal noises in the corridor. I have told him not to lean too far out of the window; I would not like him to be eaten by a tiger.

After all, who would mend my washing-machine then?

Confession time

Harvey has a secret.

He is a knicker-fetishist.

He has kept his urges under control for some time now (or rather we have kept the opportunities to indulge away from him) but tonight, with the washing machine kerfuffle and laundry lying around waiting its turn for the machine, he has been in his element.

There are items of underwear everywhere you look through the house: at my feet in the study; next to the sofa in the lounge; near the front door waiting to greet any visitors.

That's another of Harvey's eccentricities: he must have something in his mouth when he greets people. He is physically unable to enjoy sniffing a crotch unless his mouth is full. If he can't find a towel (in the absence of knickers), his blankie or Younger Son's best jumper, he wanders round frantically, torn between his longing to be welcoming and his desperate need to have something in his mouth.

He is a very strange dog. (I can say that as he is asleep in the kitchen.)

Now to sort out the kitchen.

Younger Son has been an angel tonight, offering to mop up the flood as it happened just as I was about to leave for circuit training, and cooking dinner so it was ready for me to eat when I got home. And yummy it was too.

But the machine is still out of place, there are dishes to be done, and underwear to be gathered. So on with it.

I told you so

I was right to worry: my washing came out dirtier than it went in.

I took it out, wiped out the machine and decided I'd better try washing the towels - which were covered in brown streaks - again.

I set it running; fifteen minutes later I noticed the laundry basket full of towels sitting next to the washing-itself machine.

Forget washing machines and hot-water-bottles: I think I have more cranially-located problems to concern me.

Harvey just came running (okay, walking hurriedly) out of the kitchen with the washing machine in hot pursuit. I shouldn't laugh ... but his face!

I shouldn't have laughed: the washing machine just flooded the kitchen.

I am worried

And with just cause I think.

a) the washing machine just danced across the kitchen floor;
b) my hot water bottle is shedding itself from the inside.

In which Blossom has a heavenly vision

So in Zac's, Sean's talking about the book of Isaiah, written 700 years before the birth of Christ, foretelling the first Christmas, when Blossom has this vision.

In it he sees himself with angelic wings (industrial strength - he's a large lad) causing a stir in the heavens. A great stirring of the air as he comes in to land with the grace and manoeuvrability of a B52 bomber, scattering less sturdy angels in his wake.

The image is, um, yes, unnerving. It's hard to concentrate after that.

We'd progressed this far only after some diversion, again involving Blossom and a green stump shooting. I won't go any further down that road; it's a long climb back up the hill.

I met Tony. We spoke a little and I asked him how he came to be in Zac's. He laughed, 'It's a long story. Are you sure you want to hear it?'
'Go on.'

His story started in boarding school, progressed to satanism - 'I was heavily into that, really heavily' - then prison for armed robbery, followed by the army, to where he is now. 'Oh, yes, and I'm a recovered alcoholic.'

He has seen both sides and he has no doubt which is best. 'And no-one can accuse me of not knowing what it's like: I've been in prison, an alcoholic, a satanist. I know what it's like.'

While in prison he taught himself to draw and earned tobacco from the other inmates for his portraits of their wives and girlfriends, and he got an A-level in Art. I had briefly mentioned that I had been in university (prior to a motorbiking trip round France and Spain) and I sensed a degree course - in Art maybe - is something that he would love to do. He hasn't drawn since 1991; it would be fantastic to see him pick it up again.

T was with me last night. She is an artist and musician who, because of the way her life went, has neither played nor created for the last few years. She's started sketching in Zac's. Doodling she calls it. (Masterpieces I would call them if I'd done them!) She is coming back to life and it is wonderful to see.

That's not just the Zac effect - other things are changing for her - but it is playing a large part. As Lily agreed last night, 'Zac's is a comfortable place.' Not comfortable in the seating or what happens there, but in the quiet respectful loving way of meeting with all sorts that Jesus had and that characterises the place.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

On the back page

England Test cricketer, Marcus Trescothick, has withdrawn from the team to play Australia for the Ashes, giving ill health as the reason. He has a stress-related illness.

Stress? In cricket, the slowest game on the planet?

Still on the sporting front, the Olympics come to London in 2012. The mountain biking course is to be in Essex.

Essex? One of the flattest counties in England for mountain biking?

Old and young ladies

I've just returned from sitting with Little Miss A for a few hours while her mummy had to go out to work. My sitting coincided with Little Miss A's lunch, which would have been fine if I hadn't overheated it because I couldn't work the microwave, meaning she had to wait a long time for it.

But she tucked in heartily in the end and then, after a cuddle to send her to sleep, I put her down in her cot. Which is where my dilemma happened.

I'd forgotten, or not thought, to ask Mummy how Little Miss A was to be laid in her cot. When my children were babies, 'they' told mothers to lie their infants on their fronts or their sides; I'm fairly sure 'they' have changed their minds now and encourage a lying-on-back position, which is what I used for Litle Miss A.

Then I spent the next half hour running up and down the stairs, to make sure she was still breathing. She was.

I wonder how I ever got any sleep or anything done when my children were babies.

Got home to discover one wet son. Wet and grumpy. Wet, grumpy and feeling poorly. Betty had broken down and he had had to walk home - in a t-shirt - in the rain. I called out the rescue men and Younger Son was even grumpier when he realised I was going to make him go back and wait in Betty to be rescued.

The joys of old cars.

P.S. Younger Son managed to get her started of her own accord in the end, but I am keeping out of his way for the rest of the evening.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Chocolate, mmmmm

Having exposed my ignorance of chocolate-covered crickets on Serena's blog I feel I owe it to Rex - and the world - to put it right.

So I've done a little research and this is what I discovered on
BBC h2g2.

"Insects are on a par with shellfish in providing high-quality protein and are a good source of other nutrients such as iron, calcium and B vitamins. There's a much higher chance of catching a disease from a mammal than an insect. Nobody is ever likely to suffer from 'mad grasshopper disease'. When you consider how livestock such as chickens and pigs are treated with antibiotics and sometimes raised in less than ideal conditions, insect meals become quite appealing.

"Earthworms are 70% protein and soaking them in water overnight will purge them of soil. Fly larvae - or maggots - are rich in calories and protein. Scoop them off decomposed meat, wash in cold water, boil and they're ready to eat. Crickets can be an excellent and healthy alternative to meat. 100g of crickets contains 12g of protein and only 5.5g of fat. 100g of beef has more protein - 18 percent - but also has 18 percent fat.

"A greater tolerance towards insects would be good for our health. If we didn't mind the odd worm in an apple or object to greens obviously munched by insects, the farmer could reduce the levels of pesticides, substances that are potentially of much greater threat to our health.

"Virtually everything we eat has bugs (entire or parts) within. US regulations allow for 75 insect fragments per 50g of wheat flour, two maggots per 100g of tomato sauce or pizza, and so on. It's estimated that the average person consumes about a kilo of insects a year. And is all the healthier for it.

"Chocolate chippie chip cookies (with dry-roasted crickets), banana worm bread - there are many creative ways to take insect protein. For the squeamish the answer is to crush or use a blender on your insects and cook in a stew to disguise their appearance. The bible for bug eaters is The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook by David George Gordon, also author of The Complete Cockroach."

So next time Younger Son says, 'What's for dinner?' I'll send him out into the garden in search of a high-protein low-fat ant or two.

Hippy hippy shake

We went to a party on Saturday night. I hadn't really planned what to wear but assumed I would don my standard black evening-ish skirt, which is what I did. Only to find I could hardly do it up!

That was not a nice thing to discover, especially the night before one's birthday when one would almost certainly have to eat to excess.

People talk about weight going to their hips: mine goes to my left hip. I blame the children for that. Years of carrying babies and toddlers around on my left hip is what did it, I'm sure.

Having resolved to go on a serious diet from Monday (today) I did what any self-respecting woman would do in the circumstances. Put on a low-cut top thus drawing attention to my ample cleavage rather than my ample hip.

The diet didn't start awfully well today as we had to eat the croissants left over from my breakfast in bed. But I'm definitely on it now - as long as I can avoid the clotted cream left in the fridge.

It's not only Christmas but a wedding coming so I have the incentive and the will but do I have the power?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Happy Birthday ...

To me!

Wonderful news: today Elder Son, while they were sitting on a park bench, finally asked girlfriend to marry him and she said yes. (Just as well as he'd already bought the ring.)

Thought he was never going to get round to it but it looks like we will have a wedding to look forward to next year.

We are delighted as we love girlfriend and they are ideally-suited, both being of quiet temperament and quite unable to make a decision.

We are all so excited!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I am not unique!

There are 84 people in the USA with the name of Elizabeth Hinds. That has upset me.

Find out how many people in the USA have your name by going to How Many of Me? Thanks to Winston at Nobody Asked for the site.

And there are 6 people in the USA with the name of Harvey Hinds (it doesn't say how many dogs.)

Is blogging democratic?

I've noticed that most bloggers I visit regularly are pleased with the result of the American mid-terms: does this mean that blogging is a democratic pastime?

Or is it a case of like attracting like? If I come across a right-wing blog, I am unlikely to re-visit, and as I tend to link from one blog to another, it'll be more of the same. That makes more sense.

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

Younger Son has an interview tomorrow so, today, we went to buy some smart clothes for him - smart meaning trousers without holes or tears.

We walked into one shop; he picked up trousers, a shirt and a jumper, tried them on and said, 'These'll do.'
'Don't you want to try any others? Or look somewhere else first?'
'No, these are fine.'

If only I were as easily pleased.

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

The centre of Swansea is being dug up. The bits that aren't being dug up are being knocked down or draped in sheets, rather like a mortuary.

Driving through town today, along what was, and I suppose is, the main street, was a scary experience. A one-way system is being created so I was driving down what was the wrong side of a dual carriageway. What with workmen, diggers, road signs, traffic cones, and holes, if I hadn't been following another car (very closely) I would have been convinced I had it wrong. I'm not going there again until they've finished; I have enough stress in my life without that.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I'm not a crier

I'm a hard-hearted cow as a rule but I cried last night.

A man, a rough sleeper, called Chris maybe, came into Zac's Place. His mother died last week and his brother three weeks before. But that wasn't his real tragedy.

In among his ramblings he said, 'I've lost my head see, I don't know where it's gone. I think it's gone down the Vetch playing football. And I've got something missing see.' He thumped his chest. 'There's something missing from in here.'

Sean described Zac's as having 'more open wounds than a leprosy clinic.' Six months ago Chris was on the other side of the counter, tending the sick; then his life fell apart.

His story is the tragedy of too much of the world - the tragedy of loss, of missing something.

I want to write something philosophical and wise but my pen is as empty as Chris's eyes.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Fire! Fire! Where's the donkey?

A Scottish Local Authority has withdrawn some health and safety leaflets it produced for the benefit of its Urdu-speaking residents.

Where it should have said, 'If jumping out of a building (burning presumably) take a cushion with you to break your fall,' the translation read, 'If jumping out of a building, take a donkey with you.'

It's behind you!

Walking in the woods today, three times I heard a strange noise coming from somewhere behind me. I turned round each time to see what was making the noise - or who was following me - but couldn't see anything. The fourth time it happened, I spun round ... and there was nothing there.

Then I realised it was the pooh-bag I was carrying in my hand, behind my back, that was making the noise.

I'd run out of small non-rustly bags so was having to make do with a large rustly carrier bag. (How do you spell rustle? Russle - no, that's not right. Must be rustle but is it rustley?) Hey ho.

It wasn't that cold out today although that might have been something to do with the three jumpers, coat, scarf and gloves I was wearing (I had removed my hat). I don't like to be cold.

I could quite easily become a recluse. I don't like going out in the evening especially if that evening is cold and dark. I usually enjoy myself when I'm out, it's just the thought of it - and the driving in the cold and dark in a heaterless Betty.

Perhaps I should have been born a hedgehog who can curl up in a ball, or a tortoise who can withdraw into its shell at any time it wants. Maybe that's why I've always liked camper vans; they're the same principle.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Aaah, there's sweet

A Labradoodle is a cross between a poodle and a labrador. I expect you knew that but do you know why they decided to cross these two dogs and create a new breed?

It's for the benefit of allergic blind people. Or so the boy on the checkout in Sainsburys told me.

Labradors are well-know as good guide dogs but they are very hairy. And they have the sort of hair that if people are allergic to dogs they will be allergic to. Unlike poodles apparently.

Presumably poodles do not have the nature to be a good guide dog so a cross is the obvious answer. At least it was obvious to someone.

But, and I'm not being flippant about being blind - or allergy-prone - how many blind allergy sufferers can there be? Enough I suppose the answer is.

Another interesting thing I learned this evening is that the first known windmill was in Afghanistan. A windmill is one of those things that I thought was always there; I never thought that someone actually invented it. I am so ignorant I surprise myself.

But is it successful?

When the boys were younger, they played for a time for the church football team that husband managed.

They were a rag, tag and bobtail mix of church lads and boys from the estate who would turn up (or not) for matches as they remembered/felt like. We rarely had anything like a complete team.

With all the practice they had, they were very good losers. But terrible winners.

Some people just aren't meant for success.

A meandering brain wave

Younger Son dropped us off at the fireworks last night and was going to pick us up after. While we were still queuing to get in, he phoned and said he'd been offered an hour's work and could we walk home. Husband said yes, and after he'd put the phone down - or whatever the equivalent is for a mobile - we puzzled over what work YS could have that would take an hour on a Sunday night and he'd be paid £20.

Husband suggested getaway driver. I said I hoped he wasn't going to use Betty because a) she is easily identifiable; and b) she doesn't want to have a criminal record (I know because she told me).

Husband said a little white Beetle would be too slow to be a getaway car and, anyway, there's no petrol in her and YS is unlikely to spend his £20 on petrol.

YS went to a pub quiz after his work and we were in bed when he got home so I still don't know what his job was ...

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

I have been referring to first-born son as either Older Son or Elder Son. I am unsure as to the difference. I think it should be Elder as he is one of two but I will look it up now and check.

Apparently very few people would care. 'Of two indicated persons especially when related.' (Fowler) 'Mainly used by parents about their own children.' Also 'Such subtleties deserve to fade into misuse.' (Both Fieldhouse, to whom I have taken a dislike.)

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The postman just brought me a big letter from my bank. I usually ignore boring post but thought this might be important. I should have stuck to my first judgement: they were simply offering me a new credit card. Instant recycling. Like most of our mail.

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And another thing.

Spellchecker keeps trying to make me change judgement to judgment. Either is acceptable according to Mr Chambers, so stop it, Spellchecker!