Monthly Archives: June 2007

z has a question

Does any of you know the going rate of pay for an under-sixteen shop assistant? Obviously, not covered by the minimum wage, but Al has plucked a figure out of the air and would be glad to know if he’s about right.

Update – Al is happy to discover that, if anything, he’s slightly overpaying. Since it’s still less than he’d pay an over-22-year-old, and what he paid previously (which is more than minimum wage), this seems win/win.

Z is perturbed

Today, again, I have had little to do. And I have been bored. I have checked for new emails and replied to them at once. I have emptied the dishwasher and refilled it. I have done the washing…I drew the line at ironing, I was not that bored. I have read the papers. I have read the news online. I have read blogs, and rechecked to see if new comments had been added. I have picked vegetables and taken them to the shop to be sold. I have hung around in the shop to chat to customers. I have returned to the shop to restock the shelves. I have been to the church, to practise hymns for tomorrow.

It’s a bit worrying. Usually, I welcome idleness. I lounge around, satisfied. I indulge myself in lazy frivolity. I relax.

So, what’s happened? Have I suddenly discovered a work ethic? Energy? A compulsion to keep busy? Surely not. I’m a little old to change my skin, or even my spots.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be rather busier than I want to be, and yet I know I will cope. I’ll go out in the afternoon, but I’ll be in company so I won’t be bored by myself.

Normally, I’m slightly busier than I want to be. I have, in the past, longed for August when the appointments dry up and I can wind down for a while. In the last few years, I haven’t even had that though – two family wedding parties here in successive Augusts took a lot of work, although they were a huge pleasure of course. Maybe it’s a lack of worry? I’m so tranquil that I don’t need to wind down?

I’m alarmed to think that this might be so. Don’t, dear hearts, let me take on something else. I want to give up things, not add to them. Remind me to stop, if I sound keen, and lie down until the feeling goes away. I recognise the signs, and I don’t want to do it.

Z is sociable, and remembers the time when she Listened to Gossip

I have, remarkably, a highly sociable few days coming up. Tomorrow we are going here with ‘Delightful Next Village’ Gardening Club and on Tuesday evening we are visiting this nursery at Attleborough, with the ‘DNV’ WI. These are fabulous roses and we’ve always bought from him.

Years ago – oh, nearly twenty years, it was when my mother had just come to live next door – we drove over there to choose climbing roses to go over her garden fence. We had a lovely hour or two looking round the nursery and choosing plants and then got back in her car to go home.

As we drove along, she offered to tell me a Great Secret. Keenly – for it was obviously a good one – I promised that the word would be Mum. She told me that her best friend had told her that, while walking the dogs, she had spotted two people kissing each other passionately the other side of the hedge. These were two well-known locals, both married to other people, he with a slightly roving pair of hands but no known reputation, the other squeaky clean and both Pillars of the Community.

I ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ in a most satisfactory way, and we were having a lovely time dishing the dirt, when we noticed a couple of policemen waving at us. Well, hello! But no, one of them had a speed gun in his hand.

One one side of the road was a hedge and on the other, set well back, was a row of council houses with their own slip road. There were, however, street lights. Mummy rolled down the window. “Was I driving too fast?” she asked anxiously. “I’m afraid you were,” answered the policeman. She looked stricken and explained. “I’m so sorry. We don’t live here and we’ve just been shopping at PB roses, and we’ve been having such a nice chat and I’m afraid I didn’t realise we were still in the village. Is it a 30 limit? How fast was I going?”

“It is, and I’m afraid that you were driving at nearly 40 mph.” We both apologised again and Mummy steeled herself for her first ever driving ticket. “You won’t ever do that again,” added the policeman, “will you?” “No, I never will,” she said humbly.

He straightened up. We glanced sidelong at each other, not sure what to say. Were we to wait? We waited. Nothing happened. “Er, thank you,” said my mother. “Er, goodbye.” “Goodbye, madame,” said the policeman.

We waited until we were well down the road before bursting into peals of girlish laughter.

Oh, and I didn’t tell a soul about the gossip. Not for about ten years, and then I told the Sage. “She told me that too,” he said. “And swore me to secrecy.”

Z is wanted again!!(!)

You know I said, the other day, that I was being made redundant? This has lasted no time at all. Sarah, his Saturday girl, gave in her notice last week (Al has only just mentioned it) and this Saturday will not only be Sarah 2’s first week but Sarah 1’s last. Next week, Eileen will not be in as she is busy, so I’m back in business again.

There is hope on the horizon, however. Sarah 2 has a sister of a similar age. Usually, they choose not to do the same things, because they don’t want, understandably, to be lumped together as ‘the twins’. But they might make an exception. And if not, I have another friend with a teenage daughter, whom I could approach. If neither of these opportunities comes to anything, I’ll look for a likely boy. It’s harder for boys to earn extra money, largely because most of the babysitting market is filled by girls.

Nothing else to say. I’ve done little today. I even managed to be quite bored. Not bored enough to do the ironing or extra-curricular tidying, but there are no immediate deadlines looming and I simply lounged about. Obviously, this state of affairs must not last.

Hello, Blackbird

A few weeks ago, when the hen blackbird was sitting on the nest, her mate used to come to Al for grapes. He would take a proffered grape, fly away over Badgerdaddy’s former flat to the churchyard, give it (presumably) to ‘er indoors, return for another one and then go away to eat it. He became tame enough to take the grapes from Al’s hand and I spent some time trying to photograph it. It wasn’t easy to catch the instant when he took the grape and so I didn’t post the pictures.

You see what I mean.

Whilst the babies were growing up, he and she spent most of their time foraging for food for them, but since the family has left the nest, he’s been able to indulge again. And now cherries are in season, which are even more delicious, and he has time to stay and eat them.

When I first saw him, I tossed a cherry on the ground. He hopped into the alleyway next to the shop, to make sure I was not dangerous with a few minutes’ observation. Soon afterwards, another male blackbird landed, tail well up and it darted in and grabbed the cherry. Al’s indignant blackbird came rushing out, but it was too late. I threw another cherry and he wasted no more time in checking me out, but took it straight away, over to a doorway, and ate it.

So, with you ever in my mind, I took pictures.

Click on the question mark.

Z is ready for bed

I looked after the shop this afternoon because Al and co. went to the Norfolk Show. They had a marvellous time and came back with cheeses and seeds and toasted stuff, which all looks yummy. I will eat it tomorrow!

I was allowed to Cash Up at the end of the day, which is a great privilege. I am, as a result of all this excitement, very tired. I got to the shop at 12.15, dumped my assortment of extra clothes for if it got chilly, went to the bakers to buy a ham and salad roll and then hung around for a few minutes until Tim left. Then Eileen passed on various messages, then she left and, at 1 o’clock, I was left to my own devices.

Several busy hours later, feeling a little fatigued, I looked at my watch. It was 2 o’clock!!(!)

How could this be? It should have been at least half past 3!

It was not busy for the next while – the occasional customer but many others were visiting the Show, which is the highlight of the Norfolk calendar. I read the paper so thoroughly that, after doing the crossword, I even scanned the sports pages, including the exploits of the Hen Man.

I was disappointed. I always hope he will lose in the first round, for it saves time. Every year, he snatches defeat from the jaws of victory, relinquishes it a few times, grabs it back again and then, just when you get used to him winning absurdly hard-fought matches, he pussily wimps out again. So just lose, honey – spare us all.

Anyway, things picked up and I was still serving customers after 5.30, when I should have been bringing stuff in. I did take photos of the blackbird, who visits for grapes, and cherries in season. I’ll put one up tomorrow … did I mention that I’m a tiredy Z?

A couple of friends called. M is a cousin of the Sage’s, a bit distantly so, and his father is Ro’s godfather (dogdaddy, as Ro put it as a very small child). A group of friends hires a cottage in Walberswick (t’other side of the river from Southwold, all quite posh. On the coast.) every couple of years and, though he needn’t, he kindly visits the Old Folk. This includes us and his granny, whom he is escorting to a Grand Ball in Sheffield (assuming the rain eases) next week. Granny – Gaga, as she is known, although she isn’t – is 93 and well up for a ball.

Anyway, I didn’t make strawberry shortcake, but I did make scones and leave them with strawberry jam. M and D ate most, but not all of them (for they are supremely polite) and then came to call at the shop. They were charming, and after they left, I packed up, counted the Cash, came home, picked lots of (ordered) gooseberries, staunched the blood, dug potatoes, picked beans, prepared dinner and ate it. “Did you water the greenhouses?” asked the Sage. “No.” “Because I opened the doors.” “Pfft. Let them stay open. Another glass of wine, anyone?”

Oh, the Sage prepared the vegetables. And poured the wine. He Pulled his Weight.

Nearly finished

It is midnight. A preserving-panful of jam is cooling. A wok-ful, poured there some time ago, is nearly cool enough to be potted. The third panful (in either direction) was potted slightly too early and now there is beautiful clear jelly at the bottom of the pots and plump strawberries at the top. I almost hope this batch will not quite set, so forcing me to reboil it and pot it again properly.

Otherwise, all is done for the night. Behind me, Tilly is breathing, not quite snorily but quite loud. Tomorrow (or is it today? I suppose so), Al & family, with Ro, are going to the Norfolk Show. Eileen and Tim are running the shop in the morning and I’ll take over at 12.30.

Some excitement, or what passes for it in Yagnub. One shopkeeper was heard, the other day, having a blazing row with his wife. Shrieks from her, shouts of “I’m not going to discuss it!” from him. He demanded that she leave and eventually dumped her shopping bags on the pavement. She stormed off. Al went in, a little later – “I couldn’t help hearing…?” “Oh, we’ve split up.” “Oh dear, I’m sorry.” “Nah, I walked out a fortnight ago. Should have done it a long time ago.” Ouch.

Over the road, the bargain shop remained closed on Monday, its windows whitewashed over, although all the goods were still there. He only took it over from his parents, who were retiring, at the beginning of the year. Rumour has it that he has gone out and got a job. *Shrug* I dunno. It always seemed pretty busy to me, although probably not so much since the discount store opened a few weeks ago. I’m sorry, because he was a good bloke and it was a useful shop.

There was some huffing in the local paper last week, because said discount store had posters in the window. It was felt that such blatant advertising was not really for Yagnub.

Overheard, Al to friend “What did you say to that lady, when she asked you how is your lovely wife?” “I said, I don’t really know. I haven’t seen much of her since she went off with another man.” “Ah.” “She was so embarrassed she nearly cried. I had to give her a hug to comfort her.”

Jamming at midnight

The Sage came home with 20 pounds of strawberries last night. Al’s local grower had been desperate to sell them, so Al dropped the price and is doing a promotion. However, with the dodgy weather, they would not keep overnight, so he’d asked me if I’d ‘like’ to make jam.

I was out last night, so I hulled half of the fruit and left the rest to the Sage and Ro. When I got home, I measured out the sugar and added it (all my biggest bowls were put to use, as there would be 5 batches) and left it to do this morning.

This morning, at 8 o’clock, the phone rang. Al said that Eileen had been delayed, and might not be able to come in at all…any chance I was free? So it was that by half past 8, I was stacking shelves. Eileen arrived though, an hour later, so I have made a couple of batches of jam this morning after all. I should have made a third, but there was an hour-long stage when I just sat, staring blankly, doing nothing. I’ll pay for that later, because I’ve got to do the rest of the jam-making later today.

Now I am sitting with a towel round my wet hair, and I’m supposed to be leaving for a meeting in 20 minutes. We had notification, a couple of weeks ago, that work is being done on the water main today and the water may be cut off and may run brown for a while. Do not use electric water heaters. So I washed my hair over the bath instead of in the shower. While I was potting the last batch of jam and then ironing my skirt (these are quite unrelated), the phone rang, 4 times. I was highly annoyed at the interruptions and shouted “bejasus” and similar profanities, but all of them were necessary calls, so I achieved a polite telephone manner.

I’ve just remembered that, for tonight’s meeting, I have to set up the room, which involves water, coffee and bowls of chocolates as well as tables and chairs. So I won’t have time to make jam beforehand. I’ll have to start it when I get home, about 10 o’clock.

I’m barking, darlings. Absolutely bonkers.

Z drinks

I just left a frightfully drunken-sounding comment on Badgerdaddy’s blog. Heh heh. Well…

Yesterday afternoon, I was really tired. I hadn’t slept much all week, but that wasn’t all of it – I think it was the damp and dismal weather. I thought longingly of hot buttered scones and a nice log fire. I allowed my little darling to cook me lunch, and reclined on the sofa with the Sunday papers, with the purpose of having a long nap. I slept. Five minutes later, I woke, to my great disappointment – my mind thought it was the mid-week power nap, not the weekend zizz.

I did feel better, but not that energetic. Today, I was woken at 4.45 by cats and dogs streaming down from the sky and piddling through the open window. I got up (I later found that the Sage had gone on a similar errand at 3.30) to check that water wasn’t also leaking through the unopened windows. Several bits of roof slope towards the study and the gutters can be overwhelmed. There was a little water, which I mopped up, and then I made lots of toast and ate it with lots of tea.

Since then, it has stopped raining, the sun has been shining and I am all twitchy and energetic. I was also hungry by noon. Mm, snacks…

I got out a packet of salted peanuts. Unwisely, I checked the calories. *sigh* return to cupboard. Pretzels! They’re low fat! Check the label. Fuck me, more calories per 100g than the peanuts – how can that be? Muesli bars, gummi bears, double chocolate chip muffins … okay, maybe I was pushing my luck there. Darlings, I ate none of them. I picked a cucumber and three tomatoes and made a butterless sandwich. And used the saved calories on the last of a bottle of white wine which happened to be in the fridge (which didn’t fill a standard glass).

Then I drank it. Then I poured the last of last night’s bottle of red, which I had shared with Ro (which did). Then I left that comment.

That’s the thing to do with surplus energy. Sit down until it goes away. I feel quite pleasantly relaxed now. Still a bit frisky, but unfortunately the Sage is visiting the dentist this afternoon, in Norwich, so I should be doing the ironing or something to use the surplus energy.

Well, there’s always Wimbledon.

Ah. It’s raining at Wimbledon.


Update – 1.45 – would you believe it? We have hailstones! Yes, dudes (heh heh, Jen, that’s your influence), Norfolk has sleet in Flaming June!