Thursday, April 30, 2009
We got to the adventure playground, George got wind of another dog and was off. By the time I caught up with him, the other dog's owner was walking towards me with George's dressing (which is more like a cast) in her hand.
And George's leg was bleeding again.
I've brought him home and bathed it. The staple is still there but obviously not doing what it's supposed to. Or maybe it would have done if George hadn't been such a maniac.
So, back to the vet's in a bit.
Earlier this month a young couple walking on a seafront in northern France noticed a strange rapidly-moving object in the water. The man, who was filming boats passing in and out of Boulogne harbour at the time, managed to catch the creature on film before it disappeared a few seconds later. An amateur marine biologist, the man had never seen anything like this creature before and he contacted the Association of Maritime Research to try and find out what it was.
The AMR, which investigates strange marine phenomena, has since had reports from several people who’ve claimed to have seen a similar object in the English Channel. All witnesses agree that it – whatever it is – is gigantic and fast-moving.
The AMR is now calling for more witnesses to come forward so they can try to establish what, if anything, is inhabiting the English Channel. So if you’re on a ferry to France, or you live on the south coast of England, keep your eyes peeled as a reward is being offered for evidence leading directly to proof of this creature’s existence.
Go to the website www.thechannelcreature.com to find out more or to report sightings.
I'm not keen on air fresheners but when George gets wet and gets that wet-dog smell ... So anyway we've had this particular one in the kitchen for ages and it hasn't worked properly for ages either. It's one of those that squirts out a pong every so many minutes. Or it's supposed to.
I took it down on Saturday and said, 'Right, it's the bin for you, you useless thing,' but then parsimony made me open it up again. I jiggled things and twiddled things (and then did the same with the air freshener, bo boom - sorry, I just read about Les Dawson on Furtheron's blog) and it still wouldn't work. I opened it again for a final twiddle and was just twiddling the batteries ... batteries?
'Does this work by battery?'
'How else do you think it works?'
So I recharged the battery and what do you know? It works properly!
And now I'm beginning to hate its smell.
But back to the bathroom.
I've managed to break the handbasin tap and the downstairs toilet seat, although I think I broke that initially at the weekend when I sat on it. I think I should stop cleaning for today.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Top right: Stork's Bill (possibly)
Bottom right: Cow Parsley (almost definitely)
Bottom left: pretty little purple flower, found on cliffs, very small and low-growing
I carefully stepped over a big black beetle crossing the cliff path. I said to George, 'That was a close one. If I'd stepped on it, it would have rained.'
George looked at me. 'If you step on a beetle, it rains?'
'Did you just make that up?'
'No!' ................. 'I don't think I did.'
Part of the path came precariously close to the edge of the cliffs. George, quite unconcerned trotted off down the grassy side.
'George, George, come back. Come back, please!'
I, meanwhile, am too scared to even look down at him. I freeze; even my mouth freezes and I shout at him through gritted teeth, as if moving my lips will make me fall off the edge. 'GEORGE!'
In 2004 the BBC launched a new series about family history. Called 'Who Do You Think You Are?', each episode featured a different celebrity searching for their roots.
On an obscure BBC channel after each WDYTYA episode there was an opportunity to see a couple of short (2 minutes max) digital films made by members of the public researching their family tree. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to make one of these films. I had applied to attend a digital film-making workshop prior to this but all the places had gone, but they considered my story had enough family history to make me a candidate for this particular workshop.
So, with nine others from all over the country, I set off for Milton Keynes for a week in a conference centre with the experts from the BBC digital film-making team. And all at the licence-payers' expense.
This film is my own personal result. It's available on the BBC website but I wanted to make it easier to access. We were each given copies of our films on video cassette so I've filmed it from the television - hence the poor quality. The original is top BBC quality. We were recorded in special sound booths and the music that is played on mine was written specially.
When the series was launched they previewed it on BBC breakfast television. A few days beforehand the BBC contacted me and asked if I'd be willing to travel to London to appear on the sofa with Natasha Kaplinsky (or whatever her name is), to talk about my film, an excerpt of which would be shown.
'Oo-er,' I said.
She (the BBC lady) said, 'Your film was by far the most powerful and we'd really like you to appear.'
How can a writer - especially one much used to rejection - say no after such a comment?!
So that's how I came to be in make-up with Matthew Pinsett and on the sofa with Natasha.
They've cloned fluorescent dogs and the world's gone crazy.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
He reminded me of an incident that happened some years ago when my children were still in secondary school. I was part of a prayer group that met to support the school, and when a number of Christian teachers were told about the group, they suggested that we met on school premises with them. That sounded like a great idea and so we went along.
At that time we had in our church a team of young people volunteering for a year. Part of their remit was to go into schools, do assemblies, take RE classes, put on concerts etc. they asked me if they could come along to a prayer meeting and introduce themselves to the teachers.
Now one of boys had long hair and another had a variety of piercings; when they asked the teachers about going into the school, one of the deputy heads present - a man who was also a local lay preacher - said, 'Oh, no! What kind of example would you be setting if we allowed you to stand up on stage in front of our pupils?'
I was so stunned I didn't say anything - which was just as well as I don't get mad often and I can't express it 'pleasantly'. One of our volunteers was very gracious and didn't push it, but simply prayed generally for the school.
But I couldn't believe that a 'man of God' would have judged on outward appearance instead of considering the example of service, humility, dedication and love of God that the team would have been demonstrating. I suppose he, in his tired wrinkled suit, would have preferred someone like the politicians that Nick mentioned in their smart suits with their false tongues.
Daughter was a polite, quiet, caring A* student but we got into battles with the school over her hair colour and skirt length. She was a credit to the school but they wouldn't see that. Both sons attended the school but chose to go elsewhere to sixth form college. Where individuality was appreciated.
I stopped attending the prayer group soon after that.
Monday, April 27, 2009
'No, Younger Son's doing it.'
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
It's a good job my mother-in-law doesn't have a computer. If I knew she read my blog it would tell a very different story.
Saturday, 9 am. Began washing the skirting boards. Should be finished by lunchtime and then I'll set about cleaning the chimneys.
As it is she'd probably demand Younger Son be taken into care.
But I believe that a bit of dirt makes for healthier children.
Bored cleaning now.
I intended to clean the bathroom but decided to do the dishes first and for some reason ended up spring-cleaning the kitchen.
Because I've made him get rid of the shed that was outside our back door Husband wants a shelf in the kitchen to keep essential tools 'and stuff', and while I was cleaning out a space I came across my shoe-cleaning basket.
To look at it you'd think we must be possessed of the shiniest shoes in the world. Much as I'd like to encourage that illusion honesty compels me to say that I never clean shoes.
Husband will occasionally polish his work shoes but apart from that ...
I blame Husband. My gramps always used to clean my shoes for me so I assumed Husband would take on that role. As it turned out I was the one who had clean the children's shoes for school. Huh!
But you know what it's like. You buy a pair of shoes and the girl says, 'Would you be interested in this special polish, especially made for your shoes that will keep them in shop-new condition?' She doesn't point out that it only applies if you actually use it, along with some elbow grease. But with a misplaced enthusiasm I think, yes, I'll look after these shoes if I have the right polish, and I buy some. At three times the price I could get it in the supermarket. And I take it home and put it in my shoe-cleaning basket. Where it stays. Like that tube of trainer gel. I must have had that for fifteen years and it's still unopened.
Honestly, who cleans trainers? (Now you're all going to say that you do, aren't you?)
So my trainer cleaner is there alongside dubbin, light tan polish, suede protector, navy blue polish, patent treatment (patent?!!) and countless little packs of shoe polishing kit Husband has brought home for hotels. Plus special brushes, ordinary brushes and stud removers.
Realistically the only things we use are the black polish and brush. So why haven't I thrown the rest away in my spring-cleaning frenzy?
Because they're all full. And I might need to use them one day. And that'll be the day that heralds the arrival of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Look at it: a story-book house right on the beach. How could anyone not want it? (Blue paint excepted. An aberration on the part of the owners.)
Answer: a sewage treatment works, which sounds dreadful but you wouldn't know it was there. Apart from the sign!
Does anyone else listen to the Six o'clock News on Radio 4? They frequently have economic reports from a man who was turned down for his first choice occupation - primary school teacher - for being too condescending.
I am going to have to throw a plate at the radio one of these days. (Make that a mug; I broke another plate yesterday and we're running short.)
And what's more - one of the reasons I don't watch the news on television, apart from the fact that I don't watch television, is the way it's presented.
Reporter stands in front of screen.
Picture comes up on screen e.g. piles of £5 notes so we know they're talking about money.
Reporter says something.
Words come up on screen repeating what she said only simplified in 5 words of 1 syllable.
Ditto three times.
She turns to screen and points to a picture of a house and says house prices are going down. On top of picture of house moving image appears of a £ sign crashing.
And so on and so on.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
At first sign of soreness, try popping a cabbage leaf in your bra.
It's not often one gets the chance to write that.
I often have Frosties in my cleavage but cabbage in my bra ...
My childless great-aunt who adored me and had wanted to adopt me (as my mum wasn’t married) was killed in the car crash we had on the way back from visiting my mum in hospital just before she died, but that wasn’t what did it.
My friend, the mother of four young children and aged just 39, died one Christmas Eve, but that wasn’t what did it either.
My closest cousin, in her forties, died believing God was going to heal her; I don’t know if that did it.
(Continued on my bits that are too long)
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
A cold intrusion
Spring, the dawn of the year
and overnight the sun is changed
from an icy sphere
to a molten mass of heat.
From blackened remains of last year’s growth,
new life peeks, and soon peaks triumphant.
Canary yellow flowers of gorse vie with each other
for space on the overcrowded spiny stalks
and the warm air is filled with the scent of coconut.
I long to capture the beauty of it and go, arms laden,
over the hill to the room where she lies wasting.
Her winter has come early,
an unwelcome intruder in the summer of her life.
Yes, you've guessed it: as I re-emerged bum-first some German tourists walked past. (I knew they were German as I'd heard them on the beach previously. But they must have walked very fast and Germanly to catch up with me; I thought there was no-one around.)
There is a certain inevitability about my stories, have you noticed? Other people write stories of remarkable and wonderful things; mine always end up with me being a twit. I think I shall start making things up. Like rescuing old ladies from burning buildings. Or ... actually me just getting something right would be a good start!
My dreams are just too vivid for comfort. I blame my hormones.
* * * * * * * * * *
Circuit training started again last night after a two-week Easter break. It was very warm and I was so brain-dead when I arrived home that I got into the shower with my knickers on.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
I also planted a seed tray of zinnias and potted on four geraniums we bought for our new courtyard (when it's finished). I checked the seeds today: they hadn't germinated. But my plum tree is still alive so that's a plus.
So that was yesterday. This morning I was in the prison, part of the team taking the services. I was leading the prayers. I don't like doing that. Not since I was leading everyone in the Lord's prayer and I got the words wrong.
It's like your PIN number: you're so used to it you don't have to think but if you do think, that's it. Gone.
* * * * * * * * * *
This afternoon we walked George through the woods and into Clyne Gardens. The gardens used to belong to the Vivian family who also built and lived in Clyne Castle (seen in the picture above between the two towering trees). For some time, in the latter half of the twentieth century, the castle was used as student accommodation but more recently it's been sold and refurbished as posh flats. The gardens are owned by the council and are renowned for the rhododendron displays. May is usually 'Clyne in Bloom' month but we thought we'd see what was out now before the crowds get there.
And what we found were these very young ducklings. I don't know if they're eating the algae on the wall. Maybe Mum took them out for Sunday lunch.
And I don't know what this is called but you wouldn't want it in your garden unless you were lacking a sense of smell. It is truly pongy. (Postscript: It's called Lysichiton americanus. Also called skunk cabbage - from the smell described as a combination of skunk, carrion and garlic.)
And, finally, a bed of wild garlic.
Friday, April 17, 2009
No longer do we have to prop the recycling boxes up against the pantry door to stop George stealing his food. All we have to do now is remember to close it ...
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
It will have the freedom of wide open spaces and the security of a snug white-walled cell.
It will be the tor where the cliffs drop away and the sea joins the sky.
In heaven I will be able to blog all day while receiving chatty emails from friends. The beds will have the softness of feathers and the fires will blaze.
Chocolate will be slimming and hair won’t frizz in the rain.
There will be an endless supply of Harry Potter books and Wales will always beat England at rugby.
Post office counter assistants and doctors’ receptionists will be nice.
Mel Gibson won’t age and Paul McCartney will sing at my birthday party.
Computers won’t crash nor batteries go flat.
The people I like will be close to me; the people I don’t will be ... a bit further away.
I will have perfect hand eye co-ordination and be able to ride a bike.
My dog won't steal food but will do as he's told.
My children will remember to close cupboard doors, switch off lights and not scrape crumbs in the butter.
Other people will notice before the toilet roll runs out and will not leave the empty roll on the floor.
It will only rain at night (except when I’m feeling miserable and a need a storm to walk in.)
In fact, heaven will be pretty much like life on earth with more of the good and less of the bad.
But what small visions, small dreams. Is heaven really only as wonderful as I will allow it to be, as good as the best I can conceive?
I would tie the creator down to niceness and neatness when he wants to show me mind-blowing wonders leaving me open-mouthed at their splendour. That’s what heaven must be, not pleasant afternoons in front of an old movie, but living out the thrill of discovery, where each day, for all eternity is unimaginably wonderful. Beyond words, beyond description. Where the only thing we know for sure is that Jesus is there. And he knows my name.
So far it's gone from this ...
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
So the plan today was to take the black car for its MOT and, when we collected it, to go shopping. Unfortunately the black car failed its MOT rather spectacularly and won't be ready until tomorrow at the earliest. Undaunted we went shopping in Alfie.
Now that would have been okay if we'd just been going for a loaf of bread and six eggs.
We wanted a wheelbarrow (a proper man's barrow) and a plum tree.
But Porsche think of everything. They'd helpfully supplied a mini tool set that included a spanner just the right size for removing wheelbarrow wheels (or rather wheel). And handles. And if you open the boot you can slide a plum tree in, pot first, so it sits at the feet of the passenger and pokes branches up the nose and in the ear of said passenger.
What we really needed was a Tardis and what do you know? Doctor Who was in Swansea! But I missed him ...
Of course I mean Porsche 944 not 244. Husband was appalled at my ignorance.
Monday, April 13, 2009
I offered to clean out Husband's greenhouse. I call it Husband's because when it comes to gardening he is the sower and grower and I am the weeder and ... well, destroyer. 'I'm going to be ruthless,' I said. 'Is there anything in there I shouldn't throw out?'
They've seeded themselves in the greenhouse and I think Husband sees them as an insurance in case of redundancy. I don't know much about the industry but I don't think the Colombian drug barons will lose much sleep over our 10 poppy plants.
The bucket was one of my old nappy buckets. Remember those days? When terry nappies had to be soaked in nappisan before being washed?
The puncture in the wheelbarrow tyre is more serious. The bolts have rusted on and attempts to take the tyre off ended in a bent tyre-remover-thingy. Husband can either saw the bolts off and take the tyre to Kwik-fit or buy a new one. 'This is a proper man wheelbarrow though,' he said. 'I bought it in the builder's merchants in Morriston in 1981.'
'Yes, dear.' Give him another minute and he'd have been telling me the price too.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Yay! I knew it! I knew they couldn’t kill him just like that.
My mother says I shouldn’t get my hopes up; I shouldn’t go believing rumours. Huh, what does she know? She wasn’t there when he used my lunch to feed thousands of people.
That’ll show the Romans and the Pharisees, they can’t get rid of Jesus that easily. I knew he couldn’t die just like that. I knew there had to be something else to come. Even when I heard they’d killed him, I knew. I just knew. He’d made sick people better; he’d even brought people back to life. And they thought they could just get rid of him like that. Huh! That’ll show them. Jesus lives, yay.
My mother says I should wait until I’ve seen him for myself. But I saw him before; I don’t need to see him again now. He put his hands on my shoulders and thanked me for sharing my lunch. Then he smiled at me and let me help his disciples give out the bread. Thousands of people - all eating my lunch! I don’t need to see him now to believe he’s alive. Course he is. He’s Jesus. You can’t keep Jesus down! Jesus rocks!