Monthly Archives: August 2006

I’m not very good about birthdays. Or on them.

Frankly, I tend to forget them. People look in vain for a card or a prettily wrapped parcel. I may have done the shopping, but wrapping and posting on time is an afterthought too far for me.

My children-in-law’s birthdays are only three days apart. So that is some incentive to remember. And I have sorted their presents out this afternoon. All I have to forget now are the cards. Whew.

I asked Dilly if she has plans for Saturday, a meal out or something while they have a chance before the baby arrives. “No, shouldn’t think so” she said. “We’re not big on celebrating birthdays in my family.” Well, she married the right bloke then. Al takes after his mother somewhat in the last-minute preparation department. Except when it’s something hand-made, when he will spend weeks in loving preparation.

It’s my own birthday next month too. It falls on a Sunday and I am rather stunned to discover that I will attend church three times that morning. Once as sidesman, once as organist and once as churchwarden. Multi-tasking at just one service isn’t an option. I take the view that I can, therefore, sin outrageously the rest of the day.

But that is looking well ahead. Tomorrow is far enough for me, just now. It is the day when we will switch the Aga back on. I am looking forward to that very, very much.

Anything Geena can post……

…………. I can post later. Not smart French mushrooms like hers, but they are home-grown. And very yummy, in a sauce with shallots, wine and crème frâiche.

The mouse is there to indicate that they were remarkably large mushrooms. Ro said “What’s the point of that? It isn’t even a real mouse.” I explained. “Why didn’t you at least use your Mac mouse then? Or your iPod?”

He’s still being very cheeky.

Breaking down a barrier

I came to motherhood fairly early and unprepared – I’ve never been one for thinking things through in advance, I go for the important decisions on impulse and take it as it comes. My daughter, my eldest child, always was the one I learned on – that is, I tried not to make the same mistake next time. Fortunately, I don’t think this has scarred her soul too much, she is certainly a lovely person now.

My first two children were born just two years apart. For the first year or so, this was fine. She was an adorable toddler, he was a sweet-natured, if time-consuming (he needed to be fed every two hours, day and night, but on the other hand he never cried) baby. Things started to go awry when he was a toddler and she was three.

She didn’t show jealousy towards the baby as such, but she started to be more and more naughty. He never was. I became conscious that he received all the praise and she got the blame – but it was hard to know what to do to change that. She really was too badly behaved to ignore and he was very easy-going and affectionate, I didn’t want to push him away just to make her feel better about it. And remember, this was nearly thirty years ago and we weren’t given much advice. Not that I was one to ask for it, to be fair. I did try to praise her and cuddle her, but she was becoming more and more unhappy, and when she started to push me away, saying she did not want to be loved or kissed, I was desperate.

I sat down and thought about it. Well, actually, I spent a sleepless night thinking about it. I realised that it was up to me to change my reaction to her behaviour, as she was a very little girl who could not be expected to change of her own accord. She misbehaved because she was unhappy, not because she was naughty and I had to put things right as it must have been my actions that had caused the problem.

The next day, she glanced to make sure I was watching, and started to misbehave (can’t remember what she did, but it was something that could not be ignored). I, in my kind but firm voice, told her to stop. She carried on. “Hey!” I said. “You’d better stop doing that, or I’m going to have to tickle you.” And I wiggled my fingers. She still carried on, though with a startled look. I went over to her, grabbed her and started to tickle. She tried to wriggle away, but then squirmed to the floor, giggling. I carried on tickling until she was helpless with laughter and kissed her all over her face.

And that was all it took to mend our relationship.


You remember, a week or two ago, I mentioned our good friend K, who has helped us in the garden for so long. He has told us that the daily potter around is getting to be too much for him. At present he is still coming to feed Goosey every morning, but I’m not sure for how long he means to do that.

It won’t be the same without him. I’ll have to go round to his house and tease him there instead.

Silver threads among the gold? No and no.

Yesterday morning I sat drying my hair and glanced in the mirror. And stared again at the silver glinting in the sunlight (this was before the hailstorm). “I hadn’t noticed how grey I’m getting,” I lamented. “I see no grey hairs,” said the Sage stoutly. “No, they aren’t normally this visible, but look, as my hair is blown by the hairdryer and the sun catches it, it’s shocking.” “I see no grey hairs,” denied the Sage.

I related this to my escort at the performance last night. “I can’t see any grey hairs either,” he said. So it’s official. I may have grey hairs, but they are invisible except to me.

Before the concert, I became aware of someone looking at me. When I glanced round, he smiled cheerily. It was my piano tuner. Not that I have a piano at present, he has it. He has had it for the last 18 months. I enquired after its health. “It’s fine, safely wrapped up just as I took it.” I suppose I’ll get it back eventually.

It is, in fact, a pianola, which was my mother’s; it is also a very good piano and it’s the one I learned to play on. I also spent many hours as a child playing the music of the many rolls, which we still have. I know all the music from such shows as ‘No, No, Nanette’ and many other songs from rather before my era. It must have been the equivalent of miles of hill walking I should think, pumping those pedals for hours on end. Anyway, after many years, it needs a thorough overhaul and the piano tuner knows an excellent bloke to do it. Unfortunately, he is very old and can’t take on too many projects at a time, so I must be patient. And I assured him that I will be, but that I miss my piano enormously, so such patience is absolutely saintly.

My normal, sulky self

I opened a bottle of wine last night. A sparkling pink Pinot Grigio (‘blush’ they called it which sets my teeth on edge somewhat, except that it was a very pale pink and so I can see that they have a faint justification). I asked the chaps if they would like some.

The Sage occasionally does, but often drinks cider. Ro doesn’t drink much, and when he does, it might be wine or lager. But everyone cheers up at the thought of a sparkle, even if they were perfectly happy before. So they both said yes.

By the time I’d cooked dinner I was ready for a refill. Offered the bottle around. Both said no.

Please and thank you can be assumed, as you know we are nothing if not polite.

So I said “oh, you mean I’m going to have to finish the bottle then.”

“Well,” said the cheeky 22-year-old whippersnapper Ro “no one says you have to.”

Later, I waved the bottle again. “Sure you don’t want any more?” “Yeah, okay,” said Ro, with a challenging look.

I went away for less than a week. He has become entirely cheeky. I am the butt of all jokes again. Even beloved daughter was in on the act, pretending to agree with me after losing an argument (just a difference of opinion, not a quarrel) so that she could save face. Hah! She couldn’t win, so she had to lose while pretending to humour me.

I’m out again tonight. The last Snape prom concert I’m going to this year. One of the more unusual, furthermore. It’s the Tibetan monks of Tashi Lhunpo and I don’t know quite what to expect.

I’m going with a gentleman friend…………

2.12 pm.
ps. Now it’s hailing. And thundering and lightninging. I put washing on the line when it was sunny. Don’t you love an English summer? I expected nothing less, it is August Bank Holiday after all.

Where there’s Z there’s hope

After this weekend, I can’t hold on to the summer any longer. I must get back to work. But for me, it has been a lovely summer. The weather was wonderful in June and July and I am glad that I was able to enjoy it. And I rediscovered myself.

Things were difficult in my family for quite some time, largely, I’m sad to say, because my mother, who lived here, was ill for several years and it rubbed off on all of us. I might write a little about it at some time, or it might be best left. In any event, even after she died (after a wonderful last six months, no depression about that), it took a long time to recover fully.

For some time, knowledge that everything could, and probably would, go belly-up at any moment, has been my guard against disappointment. When you hope, you become vulnerable, you let your guard down. And I was not a miserable pessimist. I knew that, as things are bound to go wrong, they will, in due course, right themselves again. On the whole, everything balances out. I am not alone in this by any means. A few months ago, there was an article in the paper about ‘pragmatic pessimism’ – I think it was called – which expounded just this philosophy.

But, you know, hopeful happiness feels better, if it is more risky. And it doesn’t always come just when you want it, so it has to be enjoyed when it is here.

And, as How Do We Know just reminded me, my name means ‘life’. Therefore the title of this post.

Fear not, I’m not going sentimental on you and I will be back to my normal sulky self tomorrow.

Another YOA player!

Another message, this time from Catie, a trombonist. Thank you very much Catie and I’ll look forward to seeing the pictures when you can post them. I suspect Blogger doesn’t like to be neglected and demands regular posts, sulking if you let a few weeks go by without keeping him satisfied.

in the country of the blind……..

the one-eyed z is king.

I’ve just taken out my right contact lens. Safely stowed in its holder, I dabbed at my left eye. There is nothing (nothing manufactured, that is) there. This means I’ve driven 250 miles today, entirely unaware that I had one short-sighted eye.

Fortunately, it’s not the eye I look with.

Anyway, I’m home darlings. Did you miss me terribly? I missed you. Another Youth Orchestra musician has written to me, which has made me terribly excited, but I have not replied to anyone yet as I am tired after a lengthy stint on the A303 and the M25 – other roads, but they were the ones with the hold-ups, in traffic terms that is, I met no highwaymen (just as well, I was transporting Valuable China that doesn’t belong to me but is destined for our next sale). I arrived back to find my dinner hotly waiting for me and hugs and kisses from Sage, son and dog. Actually, the first greeting was from the dog, but if I put her first you might have thought I’d got my priorities wrong.

I wonder what happened to that contact lens. I certainly thought it had gone in this morning. Fortunately I have a spare.

More earwigging

Well, I’ve charged the camera and updated the iPod. I’ve chosen the books and washed the car. The Sage has checked the oil, water and tyres and filled the car with petrol (yes he is sweet. What do you mean, I don’t deserve him? Am I not sweet?). All I have to do is pack, and I always do that at the last moment.

Another excellent concert tonight and another delightful next-door neighbour. I simply said hello and, seeing he didn’t have a programme, offered him mine to read. It turned out that his granddaughter was playing in the orchestra. She is still at music college, but the Britten-Pears Orchestra offers opportunities for promising students to play. There were 600 auditioning for 6 places and she was offered one, and for 3 concerts too, which the others weren’t, so it was a great compliment to her ability. I was so glad I’d spoken to him and given him the opportunity to tell me about her. A nice signet ring on the little finger of his left hand – I tried, discreetly, to eye the crest but couldn’t see it.

Ro came with me tonight, so we had supper before the performance and enjoyed listening to our neighbours. First there were two men, talking mostly about zoos, but I never did know why. There was a couple on our other side, he with a broken arm, who nevertheless courteously offered to go and fetch the chocolate cake. She cheerfully pointed out that he’d have to wave for her to go and carry the tray, so she’d go – would he like some more wine? They beamed happily at each other. The later neighbours on the other side were slightly odd. In their 80s I should think, he with a very pale head as if he always wears a hat. She suddenly noticed she had three, not two tickets and remembered she had got the other in case ‘Alison’ wanted to come, but had then omitted to ask her. Maybe they would take it back at the box office? “A bit late, it’s after 7” I muttered. “Just imagining the ticket touts outside the door” returned Ro.

In the interval, I heard a woman say to her husband “Imagine you forgetting to turn off your phone.” “Hmm” he agreed. “You should have been more careful. Just think, how awful it would have been if it had rung.” “Quite amusing though, I should think” he replied, refusing to be drawn. “I should have died of, of shame and embarrassment,” she declared. “What, again?” he replied gently.

After the interval, I looked for them – I’d seen him but not her. He looked good-natured, she, although attractive and well dressed, less so. He clutched his jacket. She reached for it. He, for an instant, resisted, then relaxed and let her take it. She pointedly smoothed it out, refolded it so that it would not crease, then returned it to him.

Honestly, it was all a lesson in how not to be happily married. From both of them.