Monthly Archives: September 2006


“He’s amazing,” said Al of his new son. “All he does is eat and sleep.” Squiffany’s birth hadn’t been all that easy, and by the time she was born she had inhaled a lot of stuff she shouldn’t have, and it took her and her parents a while to get over it. This time, it was simple and happy.

I will call him Pugsley. No one else will, but it is my small tribute to Charles Addams, whose cartoons I loved as a very small child (I have a feeling that this explains something about me) and to Carolyn Jones, the original television Morticia, who was gorgeous and who died young. An odd connection perhaps, but why not.

Squiffany has been so good today. Her parents woke her at 5.30 as they wanted to be able to say goodbye at 6, so that she knew they had left the house and wouldn’t look for them all day. Her face lit up with pleasure in a gratifying way when I went in at 6 and she kissed them and waved goodbye cheerily. Her aunt came at 9 so that I could spend the morning in the shop, then I took over for the rest of the day. I finished reading ‘Fox in Socks’ at 7.10 and was finally able to cook dinner, glass of champagne in one hand, after that. Proud daddy of two came home about an hour later, with photographs. Squiffany did ask for her mother a couple of times – “Mummy, mummy” excitedly at 5 o’clock as the front door opened. “Sorry, only me,” said Ro – but she was not upset and, on being shown a mobile phone photo of her brother, repeated “Baby brother” in an interested sort of way before going to cuddle her doll. If only I thought it could be as easy as that all the time……..


Dilly and Al’s baby boy was born at 9.30 this morning by Caesarean section. He weighs 8 lbs and he and his mum are well. He was alert and keen to feed and, when I last heard, he was asleep and Dilly was having lunch.

Thanks for your good wishes.

More later.

The waiting game

I spent a few hours serving in the shop today, to get my hand in before spending most of next week there. I do enjoy it. His customers are lovely and even the odder ones are entertaining.

The charming man who pinched my bottom in the village pub a couple of years ago came in to buy some walnuts. He always reminds me of the occasion, which he remembers with considerable pleasure because I laughed instead of slapping him. And the chap who dresses all in Lycra as he is a keen cyclist, and who always buys bananas. Sally from the about-to-reopen after many years Fisher Theatre came in, asking for cob nuts. Fresh cobs are finished – “not even a few at the bottom of a box?” “Well, I’ve got a few at home, but they are drying out.” “That’s all right, as long as they’ve got their leaves on, I only need 3 or 4 for a stage prop.” I’ve put them in the car already as I’m bound to forget in the morning. As it is, I must remember to pick some spinach for an order.

Simple, undemanding busyness is a pleasure sometimes. I often spend whole days at home without seeing anyone except the family, unlike the Sage, who is very sociable, so just chatting, being friendly, is a change for me.

I’ve also taken the photos for our website. And the catalogues are printed and will be posted in a couple of days. Someone phoned, wanting a valuation done.

Thanks for kind messages. I’ll keep you posted.


Spinning plates, my spinning head

Think tact, love, kindness. Think it until I completely mean it, and then write appropriate letters to people who feel upset.

I’m almost there now, but it took a day or two. My place in life is to soothe, because I can’t bear that people should feel uncared for, unappreciated, unloved. I do get indignant, upset, myself, on occasion, and there my husband is wonderful because he listens to it all, often doesn’t say anything except generally sympathetic murmurs, and lets me get over it and regain my balance and good humour. It is tempting to feel that the matters that other people become upset about are more trivial than one’s own affairs, but it is not so.

Music tonight – Mozart, Cosi Fan Tutte and Billie Holiday. And I have given up hope of finding my copy of War and Peace and have bought a new one. A brief browse and I was engrossed anew. But I won’t read it yet. Not until the weekend is over.

Dilly has one more day to persuade her recalcitrant son to make an appearance, or then she is due at the Norfolk and Norwich hospital first thing on Friday morning (honestly, at larkfart, she is expected to be there by 7 a.m. and we live quite 40 minutes away). So I’ll be babysitting from 6 and then in the shop from 9 – 2, then babysitting again.

Grannies are marvellous, aren’t they!

Later. I’m still plugging away at the music Ro has provided me with. He doesn’t go for stuff that is instantly likeable, on the whole, but it’s worth persevering, or else I’m just getting more tolerant. Tonight it’s Neutral Milk Hotel’s ‘In the Aeroplane over the Sea’, for the third time of playing and I’m coming to appreciate it, after a startled first listen.

Another pot of coffee on the go

I didn’t get the photos done after all. Tomorrow. The ones for the catalogue have been taken, of which there are only a few, but everything is illustrated on the website and I’ve another day or two in hand for that. I’ve typed up, though not properly set out, the catalogue, all but a few more pieces which are arriving tomorrow and which I’ll add before it goes off to be printed at the High School. The reprographics department is self-financing and so can do outside work at very reasonable rates, school commitments permitting. There is also a very good printers in Yagnub which I use for other work, and which well undercuts Norwich rates.

We are very fortunate, in that we have a business that we love and in that we are semi-retired (my husband receives a pension) and so have time for other things. Though, having got back from a churchwardens’ meeting at half past nine, I discovered emails that had to be dealt with straight away and it is only now, an hour later, that I can get back to the catalogue. I am out tomorrow morning and so have to do it now.

Squiffany is convinced she talks in sentences. Indeed, she does; it is our loss that we don’t always understand them. Individual words are clear, but more than two strung together are unintelligible to us and so need tactful questioning, so that she can answer ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Dilly has an appointment at the hospital tomorrow morning, and will probably be booked in then, whether for Thursday, Friday or next Monday. She is really hoping that she goes into labour naturally and so has been for a drive in Al’s bumpy trade van tonight. Keep your fingers crossed. You will, I promise, be among the first to know.

The rain, it raineth on the just….but not on the Z

I hope none of the Norfolk people who were flooded out read this, but today’s heavy rain might be partly my fault. I said, yesterday, that I intended to spend some time taking photographs – weather permitting. Well, it was lovely yesterday and I didn’t switch on the television or the radio, so I don’t know if it was forecast. Anyway, shops, houses, schools, all flooded when 2 inches of rain fell in quite a short time.

It didn’t rain that much here. Quite hard, on and off, but it had time to run off/soak in in between downpours. And, since I am blessed with timing, it was never raining when I had to go out.

I listened to the weather forecast this evening (as I still need to take the photos) but I didn’t hear it. There is nothing so hard to take in as a weather forecast. I cannot concentrate. If I do, I forget what has been said before the weatherperson has finished saying it. They keep trying to make it sound interesting, but all that means is that they waffle too much and I stop listening altogether. At least one can look it up online. According to the BBC website, sunny intervals. I’ll just have to take photos during sunny intervals then, won’t I.

Lazy Sunday afternoon

This afternoon, I’ve taken it easy. I slept for an hour (all this waiting for the baby is getting to me, and I’m lucky if I get more than five hours a night’s sleep). Since then, I have been reading the paper and listening to music.

Bix Beiderbecke
The Mountain Goats
Jimi Hendrix

I wonder why I picked them. Bix, sure, I always listen to him. The Mountain Goats ‘Get Lonely’ – I love it, but don’t listen to it if you feel the least bit depressed or you may end up crying into your wineglass. Jimi Hendrix – gosh he was good, but I don’t often listen to him. I wonder what will appeal to the wandering fingers next.*

Tomorrow, also an easy day. I have to take my car to be serviced in the morning and pick it up at lunchtime. I am having my hair cut at 4 o’clock. I’m babysitting for a friend in the evening (she is chairman of governors at the school where I’ve just left the governing body. Her children are delightful and it will be a pleasure).

The rest of the time, weather permitting, I will be photographing the china for our next auction. I will enjoy that; I like taking pictures of inanimate objects. I am no artist and can’t capture the ‘soul’ but I can do observation and stuff like that.

I hope you have had a good weekend too.

* Cole Porter

The family story – part 5 – the Forties

Power-boat racing must have been my father’s main activity during the years after he left Oxford. He would have raced as an amateur, but this would have referred to his non-professional status, not his level of ability or commitment. Once he grew too old for the sport he would probably returned to Oxford for an academic career.

The war stopped all that of course, and he entered the army. He was very short-sighted and therefore did not pass the medical tests for combat duty – not to be trusted with a loaded weapon, it seems. He therefore went into the Medical Corps. I don’t think he was posted to Europe at all, but he was, at various times, in Nigeria, India and Burma. He was promoted to Sergeant Major.

I know very little about his army days, he never mentioned them – all I remember is my mother telling me that he discovered at one point that he was being underpaid by a trifling amount, claimed the extra and was turned down. In protest, he grew a moustache (yes, I know!) and declared he would not shave his upper lip until the matter was put right. It was, in the end, and he received his back pay. This odd episode – he didn’t care about the money as such, only the principle – demonstrates something about his character that I can see in Al, who is incredibly easy-going almost all the time, usually laughs off incompetence, but occasionally becomes incredibly stubborn if he is right, but treated dismissively.

He had visited Germany regularly to race in the 30s and saw at first hand the political climate there. However, it was a relief to him that he was not allowed to fight and was in the business of saving lives and not taking them. He believed that the dropping of the atomic bombs saved his life – he had been about to go to the Far East and was sure that would mean his death at the hands of the Japanese.

He returned to England weighing eight-and-a-half stone – he was not tall; about five foot eight; but that was still incredibly thin. I’m not sure in what way he had been ill – he certainly was the only person in his platoon who was never ill in India, which he said was because he drank tea black and didn’t risk the milk. I suppose that others drank their tea in the English manner, with cold milk added, rather than boiled with the tea as chai. My sophisticated Madras friends add the milk to the tea at the table, but the milk has been boiled. I drink tea black myself usually, but I love roadside chai.

In the meantime, the Major, in Lowestoft, was still Mayor – he served thirteen years in total, including all the war years. Lowestoft was bombed heavily and, it was said, ‘he never missed a bomb’ – that is, he visited every location to help both practically and with sympathy and support. He was a burly man with dark hair and an auburn beard and moustache and his figure and booming voice were well known in the district.

And so, in 1946, Malcolm came home. “Glad to see you, my boy” said his father. “You’ll be wanting a job. I’ve got a hotel in Weymouth. Manager just upped and gone and left me in the lurch. You’d better go down and take over as managing director.”

Just to destroy your mental image of me……

A year ago, I decided to go away, all by myself, for a few days. Of course, if the Sage did holidays, I’d have taken him too, but there’s no place like home to a wise man and he elected to stay behind.

A family asked me to take a picture of them – with their camera of course. And then insisted on returning the favour. Of course, I’m not really this toothy, nor is my nose so enormous – it was the angle and the smirk -, but my hair was really that untidy because no one was going to see me.