Monday, March 31, 2008
George, all his attempts at squeezing through gaps in the fences having been foiled, begins to tunnel his way out. We should never have let him watch The Great Escape.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
I told a friend about it. She said, 'Now that's why I couldn't have dogs: you really have to love them, don't you?'
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Today, for example:
Martin Luther King led a protest in Memphis that ended in disaster, the first American F111 plane to be deployed in Vietnam went missing, and there were student uprisings in Poland, Spain and Japan.
It's all accompanied by groovy music too.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Either that or enter my jelly-baby picture for the Turner Prize. How does one go about submitting an entry I wonder. I must find out. I could be the next big thing in the art world.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
In the 1980s we lived for a few years in Southampton. Being taken out my safe and known environment was good for me. Several things of significance occurred:
1) I became a Christian (that probably deserves a post of its own);
2) I joined a Books for Children Group that led in later years to me setting up and running a school bookshop;
3) I joined Families Against the Bomb.
Oh, yes, and Younger Son, our token English child was born there.
Families Against the Bomb was what it says on the label. Except in our case as Husband wasn't. (An aside: it's a wonder we're still happily married as we disagree on most topics - or maybe that's why we're still married.) At that time Cruise missiles were sited at Greenham Common. My part in FAB was necessarily mostly background support. I was part of a telephone chain that was set going when manoeuvres happened. Some families took direct action by driving to the location and trying to disrupt as much as possible. I just passed on the phone messages.
I went to meetings with other young mothers who drank a hot barley drink that was quite revolting. I tried to drink it because it was the 'right-on' thing to do but really I much preferred tea. I listened as they earnestly and intelligently discussed action and legalities and empowerment.
I joined protest marches, and cooked and helped deliver food to the Greenham women at the camp outside the base but mostly it was just a small way for me to say, 'I don't like what is happening.'
The last protest march I went on was against the war in Iraq. The majority of the other people on that were my age and older. And this seemed to be the point of the posts on Winston's and Aileni's blogs. Was it the draft - rather than the war itself - and the deaths of so many young men in Vietnam that led to such huge protests? If a draft were introduced into America today would we see similar events taking place?
Without sounding too much like an old person - no, okay, I'll have to sound like an old person - there just doesn't seem to be the defiance and enthusiasm for protest amongst the youth of today that there was years ago. Maybe they've accepted they're fighting a losing battle; maybe they're too busy trying to survive; maybe the legacy of Thatcher's Britain is bigger and more deep-rooted than we thought.
Come on young people! Grow your hair! Take your clothes off (whatever)! Don't just accept things otherwise they will be inevitable.
* * * * * * * * *
Today on Radio 4 news the reporter talking about protests against the Chinese Olympics said, 'The woman protestor was roughed up by Greek police.'
Roughed up? Purlease. This is Radio 4. We don't have people roughed up on Radio 4: they are man-handled or forcibly moved on. But definitely not roughed up. I suppose all the proper reporters were on Bank Holiday leave.
Standards, BBC, standards.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Some people hate graffiti. I'm not one of those. Sometimes, in the right place and done well, it can be fantastic. Like these dragons. They were painted on the walls of the car park where the bikers congregated in Bridgend. I think they're pretty amazing.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
With so much bad news and a sense of sorrow about the town the bikers wanted to say, 'we haven't forgotten you.' A floral tribute, in especially bright colours, was attached to a hedge in the recreation ground at the end of the ride. A message signed by many of the bikers was left with it.
There were about 70 bikes and many more bikers on the run. They came from as far afield as Sussex and Manchester, and God Squadders, members of the Christian Motorcycle Association and other bike clubs rode alongside Hell's Angels.
This is a very short (less than 2 minutes) film. Please watch it to get an idea of the day.
The music accompanying it is by Bryn Haworth, recorded at a gig he played in Zac's Place a few weeks ago.
P.S. I was just there to make tea!
Friday, March 21, 2008
Real puppies shred toilet rolls.
They also shred mummy's best bra, which cost a ridiculously silly amount of money - and I know: it's mummy's fault for leaving it where a puppy could get it.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
He asked me this morning if I was going to the service. I said, 'That depends.'
'Whether it's raining.'
'You fair-weather Christian you!'
'And whether I can be bothered to get out of bed.'
It'll be full of proper Christians anyway, some of whom might even have fasted beforehand. Not that I've got anything against fasting you understand. On the rare - very rare - occasions that I've tried it, it hasn't been God I've spent my time listening to but my stomach telling me how hungry I am. I am such a bad Christian! It's incredible that Jesus still loves me too bits! Isn't that comforting?
And speaking of birds, has anyone else noticed an awful lot of magpies about at the moment? I'm seeing them in titterings of 11 or 12. That's not normal. My theory is that it's the advance party of an alien life force. They are adept at shape-changing, which explains their remarkable success in inter-planetary invasion - they take the form of whatever is closest to hand when their space-craft lands. In this case it was obviously a magpie. An earlier invading force, on landing, took the shape of road workmen. This led them to believe that all humans read the Sun, and the proposed invasion was put off until we evolve a little more. However you will now find examples of builder's bum at the furthest reaches of the universe. And beyond.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
When Sean asked for a volunteer to read some Bible verses, Mary, a rough sleeper, spoke up, 'I'll do if you want a ragamuffin.' She stumbled over the words and left out bits. A coughing fit stopped her halfway through and Jimmy, another rough sleeper, offered to take over. He struggled especially when it came to Caiaphas. Mary shouted out encouragement to him. They were far from flawless and they were perfect.
These are the ragamuffins Jesus came for. Whether we live on the streets or in a detached house in a posh area of town, we are the ragamuffins. It's so simple. This is what Jesus is about. He is absolutely not the Jesus that is preached in some places; he is absolutely not the Jesus in whose name terrible things are said and done. (I was shouting this out as I hoovered and contemplated.) It's so simple it's impossibly difficult for some of us. If we could just remember what the real Jesus is about, our lives and the world would be transformed. If I could just remember.
At the end we had communion. Usually bread and grape juice is left out for anyone who wants it but, for a change, we passed it round. It was an incredibly moving experience.
Now just in case you think I'm getting all pious and holy, I'll add that, yes, I did check out who'd be drinking the wine before me and was happy that they would all have washed reasonably recently. Look, you can't have a childhood with a granny like mine, banging on about germs and hygiene, without thinking these things. I'm not perfect but I will be when I'm in heaven.
He was telling me that the dummies they use have different faces that can be changed around. I asked if you could choose the sex of your dummy too. Steve said, 'No, they're all male. The females cost a lot more.' I didn't ask any more.
But I couldn't help picturing a street scene.
A man collapses and his wife screams, 'help me, please. My husband's had a heart attack.'
The Big Issue vendor who is nearby rushes over. 'Step aside, I can do mouth to mouth.'
The woman looks at him. 'I don't think so; I don't know where you've been.'
* * * * * * * * *
Imagine having such a habit that the only place you can still inject is your neck. And you're seventeen.
Me and Angie were in English class when sir said, ‘Today I want you to write a metaphorical poem.’
Angie and me looked at each other and she shrugged her shoulders and I said, ‘Please sir, please sir, is that like when yesterday I took my dog for a walk and I was in a great big field and the sun was shining and it was lovely.
But the way I was heading the only path out was twisty and narrow and overgrown with brambles and nettles and you couldn't see the path on the other side because it was dark because of all the trees. So I thought, “shall I turn round and go back?” but then I thought, “Don’t be daft,” so I carried on. But I was wearing shorts so my legs got scratched and stung but when I got through to the other side, the path was quite wide; it was dark but not as dark as it had looked from outside.
But as my mam says, “You never know who’s hiding behind the next tree”, so I had to be careful. I walked on for a bit then I came to a fork and I had to choose which path to take. I chose the bottom path because I knew it was shorter and I was getting tired. The path got a bit narrower and a bit lighter and then I came to a rickety old bridge. I crossed over and I was back in a field and the sun was shining again. And that’s a bit like life, isn't it, sir? Is that what you mean?’
And he looked at me and said, ‘Did I say metaphorical? I meant metaphysical.’
To join in with ABC Wednesday, go to Mrs Nesbitt's Place.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I had to cancel my trip. I couldn't face America with hairy legs.
We didn't see another soul when we were in the woods today which is how I like it. George, on the other hand, loves to see people and dogs. He especially loves to jump up at people when he has muddy paws and that's one of the reasons why I prefer not seeing people when we're out. The other reason is that I much prefer George's company to anyone else's.
In the old days a man would just throw all the left-over Christmas drinks in a bowl, mix it with pop, stick some slices of apple in it and call it fruit punch; today there are recipes for it. Recipes that involve using something called Everclear, which is 95% pure alcohol, several bottles of vodka, schnapps, gin, brandy and pineapple juice.
And the main benefit of it seems to be that it gets people very drunk very quickly.
Yesterday Younger Son was told off by his friend's mum for not making his friend come home when he did!
It reminded me of a similar incident about 10 years ago. Daughter was out with her friend who was in a very bad way (so bad that Daughter wondered if her drink had been spiked). Daughter looked after her friend and got her home safely. The next day Daughter wasn't thanked by friend's father but accused of being responsible for friend's state. And accused of other things, and it's a good job I didn't come across him in the following few weeks or he would have been severely slapped.
Don't mess with my babies; I'm a tiger.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy compete for the rugby Six Nations Championship each spring. To do the Grand Slam, a team has to win each of its 5 games.
Photo from the BBC website.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Apparently the abysmal failure of state schools over the last 10 years has nothing to do with resources; it's lack of discipline. And their solution: school uniforms.
It's a bit odd actually as the schools in our area all have compulsory uniforms. The school my children attended is particularly strict. When Daughter was there I got involved in a wrangle with a deputy-head over the colour of her hair. Or was it the length of her skirt?
She was a grade A student, polite and a credit to the school, and they were being, as far as she and I were concerned, petty-minded over things that didn't matter.
And now George is eating the chair. Lack of discipline is rearing its ugly head in my home again.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
It's actually about a group of quilting women in Depression-era Kansas. It's about friendship and what women will do for each other. And it's a lovely read, improving as it goes along, with a marvellous ending.
I'd never heard of the author before - the book itself is an American edition (and signed by the author) - but she appears to have written a number of best-sellers. I'll look out for more.
By the way, Persian Pickle is another name for the paisley pattern.
Husband can't see Brian Ashton lasting long in the job as England's coach. He certainly looks too kindly. There's nothing ot the Alex Ferguson meanness about him, and he lacks the single-focssued eyes of Clive Woodward. I bet he's a lovely granddad though.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
To take part in ABC Wednesday, visit Mrs Nesbitt's Place.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
George sniffed and said, 'Will they have food in there?'
'It'll probably be plastic if they do.'
'Let's not bother then.'
'Okay, maybe next time.'
P.S. It was sunny and very warm out: I had to take off my coat. Walking up a big hill, sweating and panting, when you have a runny nose and a dry throat is not to be recommended. Oh, look, I think George's new bed is arriving!
In the same way as we have comfort food, I have comfort clothes. Did I tell you I've been suffering with man-flu? Daughter said, 'Wouldn't you be in bed if you had that?'
'No, that's the whole point: women with man-flu just carry on.'
I actually have real man-flu in that my symptoms aren't as bad as the fuss I'm making. I don't get ill very often so I moan a lot. In truth I just have a runny nose, a dry throat and earache, but it's enough for me to feel sorry for myself.
So, anyway, shall I paint a picture for you?
I have showered and even brushed my hair but that's it. I'm not wearing make-up and I never do anything without something round my eyes to give them a bit of definition and make them look less piggy. My black polo-neck - a definite no-no if you listen to Trinny and Suzannah, which I do normally - is on its third day of wear. Over it is 'old faithful' lilac cardi. Baggy and holey, I don't mind if George swings from it. Then it's pale grey jogging trousers, which could make Victoria Beckham appear fat. It's very wet outside so I've put on Husband's old brown work-shoes (minus laces that George has eaten) as they're easier to slip on and off than wellies. They're too big for me and you know how you have to walk in a funny way if your shoes aren't on properly ...? I'm also holding up my trouser legs to stop them dangling in the puddles, thus revealing bright pink socks.
How do you like the picture I've painted?
I really hope nobody saw me.
In fact most things - short stories, articles, ideas - I've written and submitted over the last few years have been rejected. I've joked about it but I realise it must have affected me more than I was willing to admit as I've done very little creative fiction writing for ages.
The year before last (I think it was) I joined the Romantic Novelists' Association. The subscription for the first year included a critique of an unpublished novel and I duly sent mine in.
Now you'd think that a critique being sent to a beginner would have something positive and encouraging in it, wouldn't you? Mine was negative from start to finish. The closest my reviewer got to a compliment was something along the lines of 'I think it is meant to be funny.' (I'm sorry if you've read about this before but it's important to the rest of the post.)
Fortunately she - and I'm sure it was a 'she' - was so totally disparaging and, I felt, out of touch, that I couldn't take what she said seriously. Just as well, really. If I had, I'd either have given up writing or thrown myself off the pier!
As well as criticising everything about my writing she said some things about the plot, such as 'It's implausible that a woman would forget to order a Christmas turkey,' and that 'A woman who knows she needs to diet would do it, not keep failing, as this character is.' Do you see my point, ladies? Out of touch?
But recently I've thought about my novel again. Because the review was too hideous to re-read, I didn't take on board comments that could have been relevant and valid. Now I can see things that are wrong with it, and ways in which I think it can be improved. I still think it is funny and not as bad as the reviewer would have me believe. So tomorrow, I'm going to pick up my pen and write again.
It's sort of scary going back to it. The old critics are still with me saying, 'Ah, well, it might sound better in your head now and you might think you have new and wonderful ideas but you won't be able to translate that onto the paper.' And, 'All those agents can't be wrong.' And 'What makes you think you can write anyway?' I have to silence them and the best way is just to sit down and do it.
I have ideas for another novel in my head too but they're still fizzing and formulating so I think it best to let them brew a little longer and concentrate on that which I already have in clear pictures.
So ... I'll let you know tomorrow if the pen stays in the holder or gets used (metaphorically).
The same goes for the Over-50 roll too I suppose. Perhaps I'll cut my roll down to people I like to visit. That makes more sense.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Scientists at the University of Leeds are asking people to blog their memories of the Beatles to create the biggest database of “autobiographical memories” ever attempted.
The survey is aimed at anyone, anywhere who has a memory relating to the Beatles (you don’t have to be a fan to get involved!). You have to think of about the first thing that comes to mind from your life that is related to the Beatles. It may be a song, a feeling, an event.
The results will help scientists further understand how children develop a capacity for memory, how adults process memory and how memory changes in older adulthood.
Go here to blog your memory of the greatest band ever.
Circuits on Thursday included a routine that involved alternating boxing and jumping jacks. I could see my reflection in the window and, afterwards I was talking to one of the other women. She said, 'I must get a proper sports bra.'
I said, 'I've wearing one and it's still, "Over my shoulder goes one ..."!'
1. After reading the post on Grendel's site about the meme, I then read his next post which was about happiness. So then I got confused and began thinking that the title of the meme was 'Seven things that make me happy'. Allow me to claim that they're almost sort of the same thing, and include on my list my happy pills. I've written about them (seroxat) recently and explained how they changed my life. Anyway I definitely consider them a good thing.
2. Husband, children and dog. (I might change this and make it three separate items if I run out of ideas.)
3. A Wales win in rugby. Not so long ago it would have been a Wales defeat but not by too many points; right now a Grand Slam would be the very best of good things in life!
4. Chocolate. Which hasn't passed my lips for 33 days now.
5. Living on the edge of Gower, Britain's first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
6. Bread and cheese.
7. Being able to make people laugh. If I were someone else and not me, or in a different life, I would love to be a stand-up comedian. It's great when someone says my writing made her cry (for the right reasons), but even better when it makes people laugh out loud (for the right reasons).
Now I've left out so many things. In Zac's the other night I looked around and knew that everyone I could see had problems of some sort or another. I'm happy and my life's great. To list merely seven good things about it is inadequate, so this list is just a random selection.
I will tag: cherrypie, jams, mutley (although that may be asking for trouble), and furtheron, if they want to do it.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Husband said he knew it was going to be bad when he woke up in the middle of the night and could smell it from the bedroom.
George escaped again this afternoon in spite of Husband having filled every gap he could find. Tomorrow we are going to spy on him ...
Saturday, March 08, 2008
I was fed-up of not being able to understand what my children say. I was also having to increase the volume on the television. I wanted a test to prove it was them not me.
I was told the test would take about one hour and turned up expecting a very high-tech digital-age test. The first thing the man did was hold a tuning fork to my forehead. Then he went out in the corridor and made sounds.
Finally I had to put on some headphones and hold up my finger each time I heard a noise.
After this extensive test, I am happy to say that my hearing is fine. So I can continue to grumble at my children - sons - for muttering. So that's all right.
He's done it a few times this week and I haven't been able to spot how he's getting out. Normally I notice he's missing quite soon and he's usually just in next door's back garden. Today he was missing for about half an hour. Husband went out and searched for him but he came back eventually of his accord. With a bulging tummy.
We're keeping or heads down and if anyone says they're missing a guinea-pig we'll blame the foxes. 'We get an awful lot around here.'
Kate, my shiatsu practitioner, fears her dog's tummy may be bulging soon but for an altogether different reason.
Kate arrived a little late for our shiatsu session yesterday morning. She was flushed and explained she'd been chasing her on-heat dog, Saffi, who in turn was chasing a three-legged Jack Russell. 'Who could run surprisingly fast!'
I thought it was a little ungentlemanly of him to run away from a lady but then again maybe his disability made it impossible for him to, um, do what Saffi wanted.
Friday, March 07, 2008
Sitting on my desk, waiting to be added to my to-read pile is a hardback copy of Suite Francaise that I picked up in a charity shop this week for £2.50. And the 5th sentence on page 123 is:
Cecile had a round red face and lively brown eyes; Madeleine was more delicate, a blonde with bright cheeks, smooth as satin and pink as apple blossom.
(Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky)
If anyone fancies doing the meme, please do!
Thursday, March 06, 2008
The performers are each allowed 10 minutes so I've had to cut bits out of my mono. It was very difficult because each word is vital obviously! I think I've got it down to 9 minutes and 43 seconds. I do hope the audience laugh. Last time I read a section of it to an, albeit small, audience, it barely raised a titter. There should be a large crowd tonight and I know it's funny (I wrote it on my Masters course and it was highly praised and appreciated by tutors and audience alike) so I really hope they laugh aloud from early on otherwise my confidence will fade faster than my voice.
I haven't told anyone I'm taking part in this event. Apart from you of course! So I'll be a Lizzie No-Mates as well.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
In the first photo we'd just had him at 8 weeks old; the second was taken last month when he was 5 months. Note the chair he's sitting/standing on; he's also known as Home-Wrecker.
I used to be part of Winston's Daily Bread but now I am a frequent stop. What has happened to my blog for it to lose its appeal for Winston?
Have I got too christiany? Too serious? Too stupid? Too much the same? How have I changed? Have I not changed enough?
Who will answer my questions?
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
This has been used in the past to proclaim the right of men to dominate women as God-given; it's also been used by women who ask why they should follow a misogynist God.
The letter was written by Paul the apostle. Now Paul's not my favourite person and he is often accused of being a woman-hater, but, in this instance, I think the fault lies with our soundbite-style reading of his words.
A few verses further down he writes, 'Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church ...'
Just as Christ loved the church. The church he died for? That's asking quite a lot from our men!
Jesus always - always - favoured the underdog: the weak, the poor, the shunned, the sick, the unlovely. And women. In particular in the bible mention is made of an adulterous woman and a prostitute. He treated them with compassion and respect. He never treated women with anything less. The powerful, the leaders, the men in charge he had little time for. Does this sound like a God who wants to keep women in their place? Is this a God who condones injustice?