Monthly Archives: November 2006

Painting bedrooms and towns.

Ro has taken this week off and decided it would be a good opportunity to paint his bedroom. So yesterday I popped into the local very splendid hardware store for colour charts and then we had to discuss how much paint to buy. I decided, briskly, that a litre of paint would do one wall, by the time you’d allowed for built-in cupboards, windows and door you could subtract a wall. The ceiling would add as much again, two coats, allow a bit, call it ten litres. He spent more time working it out properly, then agreed.

Today we have been painting. He did the bulk of it with the roller and I did the corners and fiddly bits. Until we received an invitation to go and play with the babies. Things slackened off abruptly, especially when it was discovered that it was time to get ready to go to Bungay’s special late night opening evening. There were all sorts of things planned, including flamenco dancing and ‘ice’ skating in the hardware store’s car park.

It was, indeed, splendid, and Dilly and I spent a couple of hours toddling around the shops with the babies. Squiffany was suitably impressed – when Dilly asked her to fetch her coat, she had been very surprised. She is not unaccustomed to her parents going out in the evening and taking Pugsley, whose food supply is provided as nature intends. “Me? Coat? Dark, my coat?” – but she was happy to comply. She “wowed” and “oohed” cheerfully at all the entertainment provided, especially the fire-dancer, who twirled her fiery sticks with skilful abandon (don’t try this at home).

A bit of a problem when the sound system for the flamenco dancers didn’t turn up; arrangements were made but they took some time and, sad to say, we couldn’t wait … well, we waited for an extra half hour, but it was already way past Squiffany’s bedtime and soon the baby, who had slept peacefully throughout, would want a feed.

Al, at nine-thirty, is not yet home. Bless him, he was not expecting to do much business – although it’s useful publicity and people did buy nuts – but being right in the centre of town, he could not pack up early. He had decorated the shop beautifully and it all had to be dismantled. The shop opened at eight-thirty this morning, he works hard for his living.

Tomorrow, I’ll spend a couple of hours painting, then off to Norwich with Dilly and the children, early shopping for their presents. No Norwich shopping in December is my rule, I buy local or online. I’m sorry, but I can’t cope with crowds.

In the stars, looking at the gutter

Well, what a fun morning. I staggered along to the churchyard at nine o’clock, minus contact lenses to give my overstretched eyes a break. I had, briefly, considered going without make-up too, as mucky work was to be done, but a glance in the mirror brought me to my senses. I compromised, leaving off lipstick.

On the way, I noticed that the drain at the end of the drive was blocked by grass. When I cleared that, I discovered that the whole drain was filled with earth. Possibly decomposed leaf mould, which would be wonderful compost, it is sure that winter rain would not be getting away in a hurry. I removed the drain cover and forked some loose, which I removed by hand, but it quickly became apparent that this was a job for another, less busy, day.

Actually, I had all the time in the world. I did a few odd jobs while I was waiting for Fellow Dave. At half past nine, I rang him. he had forgotten, but would come along. I chatted to the church administrator and she made me coffee. I did a couple more little jobs. Brian turned up, and we worried about the problem with the drains. I am a good and sympathetic worrier, but made it clear that drains are Men’s Work and beyond my capabilities. I recommended getting in a builder and implied that a Man should ring him because then they could talk Men’s Talk.

At half past ten, the Fellow arrived, apologetically. His motorbike had had to have (I stared at that, but it is more grammatical than it looks, I think) a new battery fitted and he had not had breakfast when I rang. I was sweet and cheerful – I am, really, people like me for it.

We went to get the ladders from the church gallery. I had not done this in advance as I am notoriously clumsy and also quite little and so long ladders can fall from my nerveless grasp and do unfortunate things, such as break bits that Cromwell’s men accidentally left undamaged off the font (which they did knock the faces off, of course). We took the ladders outside, put them together and erected them, and I offered to mount them.

Happily, the Fellow said he would climb to the church roof. This was not patronising of him, as he is not like that, but it is true that he has a better height and reach than me and also would have felt a bit of a girly if he had hesitated on the ground while I strode up the ladders. I did, however, lend him my rubber gloves for getting the mucky bits out of the guttering.

We did a splendid job and were finished by twelve-fifteen. I came home and heated up the remains of the steak-and-kidney pie, a baked potato and a tomato. With a cup of elderflower and rose tisane (yeah, I know, no hope for me), a glass of sherry, a chocolate biscuit and an apple in addition, I was only able to manage a cup of black coffee and a single sticky bun with pink icing at the governors’ meeting in the afternoon.

My job this evening is to make holly wreaths as Yagnub has a special Shopping Evening tomorrow and the shop needs to show its Yuletide Wares.

I need to start now. Have a lovely evening, or, if you read this tomorrow, I hope you had one.

The substitutes’ bench, home of much talent

yes, well, I may have said I was going to wear flats, but how many of you believed me? Nah, 7cm heeled boots, which were much better for me. I admit to being dumpily short, but why should I accept it? The cautious teeter up on to the M@dderm@rket Theatre’s stage notwithstanding, I prefer not, in conversation, to be looked down upon from everyone over the age of 11. Just everyone over 5’7″.

Today’s lecturer substituted at short notice for one who was taken ill, and needed an emergency operation, when on a lecture tour of Australia, poor lady. This chap was a fabulous replacement, however. He was so good that many of us were taken aback when he concluded. We had no idea that an hour had passed and would have relished a bit longer – as many of our members are very conscious of car parking charges, we can’t allow for much overrrunning. When I tottered back to the stage to give the vote of thanks, I was stopped twice mid-enthuse by audience applause. They were not clapping me, simply showing their appreciation. He had already booked a ticket to see the Vel@squez exhibition at the Nat. G@llery today, and gave it up* to help us out. And earn a fee of course, but he was extremely knowledgeable, interesting and entertaining and certainly deserved it.

I checked emails this morning and there was one from the chairman of governors at the high school saying she hoped the altered time of the meeting to 10 am was all right for me. Um, no, it wasn’t. I rang her. It turned out that the other committee members couldn’t do it either and it could not be postponed for another day as the external advisor was already on his way. I had to leave her with the options of changing the time back to 2 pm or finding a substitute. Luckily, she rang back ten minutes later, having gone for the second option. So I had a free afternoon. Marvellous.

Gardening Club tonight. All about pruning, apparently.

*well, he didn’t really, he was able to change it to next week

I ♡ my eyes

and should like to thank those stalwart little face-orbs for being so good-natured and forgiving. After all the dreadful abuse I gave them, having slept in contact lenses, they have put up with 15 hours of constant use with barely a complaint. The complaint was one falling out ten minutes after arriving at the cinema. I caught it, however, rested it on my tongue to stop it drying out (more abuse, you see) and fished out the pot of cleansing solution I had stashed in my bag in case I needed to remove them during the day (oh blimey, you can see why people think I’m organised, can’t you. May I point out, yet again, that it is because I am not organised that I have to think of things like that, or life would be chaotic) and then got out my handbag mirror to put it back. Of course, that was the moment the lights went down.

This did not deter me. The lens went back in. I know where my eyes are, and I know to stop pushing when I touch eyeball.

A splendid day and, oh, how glad you will all be to know (heh heh) that I am, again, good-humoured. I have a limited capacity for spleen and sadness and bounce back, as one does if basically happy.

This evening’s do at the castle was to celebrate the publication of a series of catalogues of paintings in non-private* ownership; it’s intended to go through every county and ten have been printed so far, including Norfolk, Suffolk and the Fitzw……. Museum in Cambridge. We were promised a ‘special’ price on the evening, which turned out not to include post and packing — er, we picked it up, no p&P, special price? Furthermore, no paperbacks were available. However, stoutly supportive as we were , many of us stumped up the £30. Including me; indeed I doubled it and bought both the Norfolk and Suffolk versions. These have been stashed away and will form the basis of the Sage’s Christmas present, as he is truly impossible to buy for. He will love these, however.

I was quite charmed by the lady I paid. I asked to pay by cheque and offered to get out my card. “Wouldn’t know what to do with it if you did,” she said airily. I like being trusted. Unspokenly, I had been sent an invitation to a Prestigious (well, a bit) Do. Therefore, my cheque was good.

And so it is.

Later, after a ten minute speech to introduce someone who gave a fifteen minute speech to disguise the fact that we were waiting for the Guest Speaker whose train was late, I went and sat by by friends who had commandeered a small sofa, but kindly budged up to accommodate me. We were in a divine spot to see the lady who had been taking the money looking at a cascade of notes bulging out of the cash box. A younger woman went up, obviously offering to stash it in a safe place. She was presented with a double handful of ten and twenty pound notes and, cradling them carefully, wandered off with protectively bent back to a staff room. I got the giggles. I bent my head to my arms and wept quietly. My friends nudged each other, and then me, grinning. I didn’t know how not to laugh aloud.

It doesn’t even look funny now. But it was, it was. It was the loving embrace of the banknotes which were about to spill from her gently clutching hands.

*as ever, trying to save myself from Google.

The film was Little Miss Sunshine. If wondering whether to go, do – not many films make the audience laugh out loud quite so much. Could so easily have missed the spot, but it was wonderful and, at the end, the audience applauded, which is a rare occurrence at the cinema. Well, at the ‘art’ cinema it was shown at.

After midnight, no blogs read today, out again by nine tomorrow (yeah, I know, but that’s early for me :-), you always knew I was a lucky girl), mad whirl and all that. Flat shoes though, I wore the rather nice red ones and they were, indeed, admired, but they were not intended for quite as much walking and standing as the day has entailed.

I’m off to bed. Night night.

For this relief, much … relief

My right eye felt uncomfortable all day and I was not at all sure if the contact lens had come out. Several times, I ran my finger across the eyeball, trying to tell if it was there, but I couldn’t feel anything. The Sage was very sweet and brought me a restorative glass of whisky as I reclined on the sofa in the evening, cuddling the dog and watching television. I sniffed the glass. “Ooh, you got out the malt, and the nicest too,” I said appreciatively. He looked pleased. He doesn’t like whisky and I was surprised he knew which of the three opened bottles was my favourite.

I stayed asleep as long as I could. I wanted my eye to have a chance to get better, or at least not to have to confront the problem as long as possible. But at last I opened both eyes, and was dismayed. The vision in my right eye was badly clouded, like, I should imagine, a cataract in the days when it had to grow thick before it could be cut away.

I looked in the mirror. It was slightly red and weepy. I wiped it and went to the bathroom, thinking that I’d have to listen to the optician nagging me about how I shouldn’t sleep in contact lenses. And it would be pointless mentioning that I hadn’t actually meant to, I thought I’d taken them out. I took a tissue and wiped the eye again and went to fetch my clothes. And, when I looked down, there on my hand was a crumpled contact lens, that had spent 24 hours somewhere in the inner recesses of my head.

The eye is fine now, which is just as well as I am going to Norwich in another half hour. A short meeting, then lunch with friends, then a flower show, then a reception at the Castle Museum, then the cinema with Ro, who has the week off work and who will come into Norwich at some time on the bus. Gosh, what a social whirl. And what to wear, darlings, what to wear?

Oh, by the way, and on a completely different subject, comments get sent to me for moderation as I can’t take all the spam and word verification when I reply to a comment on my own blog is just too annoying. They get sent in an email. But I discovered by chance yesterday that this has stopped and I just get a notification on the Blogger dashboard. Silly Blogger. I’ll turn on the wv for a few days, however, as I will be out most of the time.

Eyeless in Err sham*

For the rest of the day, I will pamper myself. I feel a bit needy and woebegone and, although it is my own silly fault, there actually is a reason this time.

I forgot to take out my contact lenses last night and slept in them.

I went to bed early as I felt both ill-humoured and tired – there was some connection between there, but it wasn’t the whole story – and usually, if I don’t take them out I realise as I get in the bath and have to trudge downstairs wet and nakedly and cold, or wrapped in a towel that is then pre-wetted for later use which is not nice; or else I feel them as I am removing make-up (in the bath) and go down wet-footed and disappointed after that. But I was unaware and went to bed.

You would think that I’d be aware of the difference in my vision, but it is not so. For many years, I wore glasses only to drive or at the cinema or theatre. Eventually, I became a little more short-sighted and found I was having to wear them more. It was when I found that, sitting at the organ, the music was too far away to read without glasses, but too close to read with, that I went for multi-focal contact lenses and they are, usually, fine. But I am so used to the world through my eyes that I don’t notice whether it is clear or a little blurred.

At 5.30 I woke, and thought I had an eyelash in my eye. I tried winking and pulling the lid down, and all the things you do, but it didn’t help. It wasn’t quite bad enough that I had to get up – but later, the other eye started to hurt. I thought of lenses, but I was sure I’d removed them. I fell asleep in the end and got up late. It was only when I wanted to put them in that I realised…

The left one came out. The right one was nowhere to be found. I suppose it is somewhere in the bed, but I haven’t found it. I hope it isn’t somewhere in the back of my eye – I’d know, wouldn’t I? I put in a new one, and replaced the left one and went to church and peered at the hymn music. Hm. Fortunately, the office is presently in the church room and I was able to photocopy it, enlarged. So I got through the service, squinting headachely at the hymns.

Now the lenses are out and will stay out until tomorrow. And I have had lovely home-made soup followed by a baked potato with garlicky cream cheese and I will go for a stroll with Tilly and then light the fire and read the papers.

Music – still Jimi, he suits my mood. Right now, ‘Hey Joe’. Later, I think it;ll be Belle and Sebastian. I’ve only one album of theirs which is ‘the Life Pursuit’.

Ooh, ‘Foxy Lady’. Can I join in?

Heh heh.

*That’s how it’s pronounced but not how you spell it. Not that keen on being googled by a local.
Ah, just googled it myself, as one word. One cannot rely on the spelling in mediaeval records.

Glowering with a smile

I’m sorry to say that I am in an absolutely filthy temper. No one has noticed as I’ve been quiet and plastered a pleasant expression on my face. I really rather want to pick up my wine glass, half full is it is, and hurl it at the wall.

What is going on?

Purplish haze

Our friend was persuaded to stay an extra day and night, so we had a delightful day yesterday, mostly spent lunching and chatting, with a little light shopping thrown in.

In the evening, I had to go out briefly (or so I thought) to a small social gathering, so I prepared dinner up until the last half hour’s cooking of the pie, while friend D went to lay the table. I glanced into the dining room. She had put pudding spoons and forks on the table. Ah. That had not occurred to me. Regular puds are not a feature in our family life, but I didn’t want to disappoint. I decided to whip up a batch of chocolate brownies that could be served warm with cream. I knew there was a bar of good plain chocolate in the cupboard.

When, in mixing terms, I was past the point of no return, I noticed there were no eggs. Asked the Sage for eggs. He explained that, when he’d said that the hens were off lay, he had meant entirely off lay.

Rang Dilly next door. Luckily, she had three and I only needed two, so that was all right. Except that the do I went to was rather more generous in the food and wine department than I had expected, and I came home late and rather full. They were not troubled by this and used it as an opportunity to have second helpings.

Later, I had an email to tell me that small-but-meaningful-to-the-one-involved problems were getting more problematical and the one involved was upset. I had not, as I’d been busy, posted my letter to her, so I amended it to sound even more sympathetic – but unfortunately not, as far as she was concerned, more helpful – and worried for several sleepless nighttime hours.

Today, I have been listening to Jimi Hendrix in a fruitless attempt to regain a feeling of lost youth and, now that D has left, have time to sit and glower bad-temperedly. I should go and throw myself into some useful and destructive autumnal garden work, but maybe I will think beautiful thoughts instead.

Z is interrupted. But has returned to blather again.

I’m sitting here, glass of Cava at my wrist (that sounds odd, but it is – if it were at my elbow I’d be much more likely to knock it over), waiting for our guest to arrive.

I rather thought she’d be here by now, but it’s all right, dinner isn’t ready yet. She drove up from Kent – from where she lives it is a Good three hours – to see a friend and is staying with us overnight. I have prepared a simple meal, game soup, roast chicken and pineapple and I will stick with the Cava myself, though a glass of sherry wouldn’t go amiss with the soup as there is already some in it.

Ooh, she’s arrived. more later.


An odd thing happened today when I was on my way to Norwich. The way there is on a B road, quite winding in places, that goes through several villages. I was waiting at a roundabout when I heard a hoot behind me and saw a very large lorry angled as if to pass me. There was not room for two vehicles side by side and, as the side roads are small ones, I knew he must be taking the Norwich road and ignored him. Later, as we were going along in a 30mph limit, I noticed he had forgotten to cancel his indicator.

As we were getting near the end of the village, behind two slow-moving cars, he hooted again and started to move out. I could see cars approaching and there was not room for him to pass us all and, frankly, I didn’t want to let him in, so I edged slightly closer to the car in front. I looked in my mirror and saw that he had stopped. He hadn’t pulled in to the side of the road and no cars could get past him. I kept glancing back, eventually he started again slowly, then must have speeded up.

As I got on the approach road to Norwich I was stopped by traffic lights. He pulled up beside me, signalling to turn off to Great Yarmouth. As I glanced at him, he looked at me and rubbed his hands together.

Why? I was bemused and unsettled. When he started all this, I wondered if he was trying to warn me that there was something wrong with his car. Then, I thought he might be having trouble with his lorry. But it was evidently neither. So, ?.

Actually, as I write, one thought has occurred to me. It might have been nothing to do with me at all. it might have been a really annoying driver behind him who was trying to overtake dangerously and whom he was preventing from doing so. I rather hope so as otherwise he was creepy.

Oh. That turned into a bit of a non-story, didn’t it. After midnight now, too late to start again.

By the way, Lynn has put up the report on the sale on our website. Well, so she says although it hasn’t actually appeared yet. However, it should be there by the morning I hope. Under ‘Journal.’ I write it in the Sage’s name, but it is all ME. As you’d expect – though it is done in rather more formal and polite style than this is.

Z is a Good Girl

I know that, for the postman told me.

My Fellow Churchwarden and I had agreed to meet in the churchyard to have an autumnal clearing-up session. There is quite a long path from the gate to the church and it was bestrewn with pine needles. There are twelve lime trees along the railing beside the road and lots of suckery-type twigs grow from the bases of them and need to be cut back regularly. In addition, there were weeds growing at the edge of the path and dead lime leaves on the pavement. Also, when last we cleared the guttering, the north side of the church was still frozen hard and so it was left and now grass can be seen growing up there.

I arrived first and started raking. The Fellow joined me. “Where are you planning to put those pine needles?” “I’m taking them back home, I’ve brought my barrow.” “Ah, that’ll be why you’re raking towards the gate rather than towards the church.” “Yes, I thought of that.” “Because, if you’d been going to put them on the church rubbish heap, you’d be better going the other way.” “Yes, we are thinking As One. We are both of a practical frame of mind.”

The pine needles filled the barrow and I took it home to empty. It is a very large barrow with two wheels and is beautifully balanced so can be wheeled easily even when extremely heavy. Meanwhile, the Fellow started to cut back the limes. Upon my return, I did the weeding and raked and swept the rubbish into piles. It was about now that the postman arrived and went up to the church, where there is an office for the Parish Administrator. He was gone for some time, so I suspect he was offered coffee. On his return, he gave me my own post (a small but welcome cheque) and complimented me on my goodness.

The job has been done, most beautifully. I am glad to say that the Fellow and I are equally thorough, as well as efficient, so we swept the path and the road as well as picking up the leaves, the branches and the earth that had mysteriously appeared among the leaf mould. However, we did not get the church gutters cleared. The leaf etc clearing took three hours and we had had enough.

People walking past had little chats (which were pleasant if they did not expect you to stop for more than a few seconds). Millie said “You want to watch, do you’ll get arthuritis in your knees.” I pointed to the kneeler (a piece of cardboard) I was using to protect those useful joints. On her return, she said “You’ll ache after this.”

She is right.