Monthly Archives: August 2007

19th – El. 24th – Al

Nothing much has happened today, so I’ve nothing to tell you. Not that it will stop me talking of course, because very little does that.

I went back to the garage this morning, as they wanted to check the car 500 miles after its repair. I took the paper and sat and read for a bit – it only took 15 minutes or so. I listened to Mark as he answered the telephone – he’s very good, you know. Pitches it just right, friendly without being over-familiar and genuinely helpful – not obsequious, nor just going through the motions.

After that, I spent the day in the shop. Very busy this morning, quite a rush. I served most of the customers, as Eileen was busy tidying up, but she helped when the queue built up. She was a bit tetchy in fact, as she reckoned there were untidy areas behind the tills. Yes, so there were – it was busy on Saturday too, and Al was on his own all afternoon and I expect that, by the time 6.30 came and he’d cashed up and all, he rather wanted to go home, after 10 hours solid work with no lunch break. Smiling throughout and all…

I arrived home to find an email from El, ‘casually’ mentioning their anniversary – too late to email her at work, so I’ve just rung. They haven’t checked their answerphone messages yet, I’ve assured her she’ll find a good one from her father. And also that an envelope will arrive during the week. She was good-natured about our lapse of memory: as I explained, it was not that we forgot the date, just applied it to the wrong offspring. The reason for the title of this post is that I can remember I noted it in a year’s time and check.

I remembered to take my iPod with me, and as soon as Eileen left I turned off Rad10 Br0adland and turned it on, with the amplifier thingy. When I forget that, I have to unplug it from my ears when a customer comes in. I listened to Brahms clarinet quintet and Chopin’s piano concertos, and then some Sidney Bechet. Customers remarked (are you reading this Al?*) how much more enjoyable the music was today than usual. The Geoff came in and, for some reason, started to talk about Jimi Hendrix – “Have you heard of him?” Goodness, he must think I’m young. I twiddled a bit and found some for him. “Ooh, that’s a bit loud”, he said.

Actually, on Saturday morning, Rad10 Br0adland had a first. “I’ve got that! That’s never happened before” I said. “Are they improving their quality, by any chance?” “You listen to Evanescence?” asked Sarah (you could see she was impressed, well, she’s at an impressionable age. I said that I do. “Mind you,” I added, “when Ro heard it, he asked why … ‘a bit teenage Goth, isn’t it?’ he said.” I was, I declared, unabashed. I like it.

*I know the answer – it’s no.

It gets worse

Dilly and Al say it’s not their wedding anniversary. This must mean that it’s El and Phil’s. Oh dear.

We* are mortified.

*This is not a Royal We. The Sage and I are both grovelling in a state of extreme embarrassment. El and Phil are out this evening too, but I bet they keep the Sage’s awkward phone message to giggle over when they feel mischievous.

If I sit very still, all this restlessness might just go away

I’ve pulled over a couple more sections of the fence, but then got rained off so I haven’t finished the job. Just one more piece to go, but there’s a load of bricks and wood to shift, the cleared area to dig the roots out of and then that tree to come down. And, now that the lawn is visible as you come round the bend in the drive, the weeds by the laurel hedge I cut down (and which is about 4 feet high again) are very visible. I think the next thing I’ll buy will be an electric hedge trimmer, because the laurel is already untidy, other hedges need to be cut and it will take forever with shears. I usually prefer to do things by hand, but one has to accept practicalities once in a while.

Anyway, now it appears that I have some unexpected time on my hands and, unusually, some impetus to do something useful. I don’t know what though. I want to be outside, but all the vast amount of undergrowth that could usefully be cut is very wet and it’s not the time to be waving around sharp implements, because I am clumsy at best.

I think it might be Al and Dilly’s wedding anniversary today. I’m not very good at dates. They are out, possibly celebrating. I am a very bad mother, because it’s the sort of thing women are supposed to remember.

The other day, I was working in the shop when Dilly and the children came in. As they left again, Dilly prompted Squiffany to say goodbye, but she went out without a word. Yesterday, Dilly said she had discovered the way her mind had been working. Later, after I arrived home, Squiffany said to her mother “Oh, I forgot to say goodbye to Granny this morning. I’d better go and see her now.” Dilly didn’t let her get away with it, but I was quite amused and somewhat flattered.

Yesterday, I took some vegetables home from the shop and delivered them as Dilly needed them for the children’s tea (they like vegetables, fortunately). I stayed for a cup of tea and Squiffany asked winsomely if she could come home with me for a while. I agreed, adding that she could go and bounce on my bed…I know she’d ask to and prefer to make it look like my choice! She was pleased enough to wait patiently for me to finish my tea, just whispering “Shall we leave Pugsley at home with Mummy?”

Pugsley is finally starting to walk around the furniture. He has been standing for a long time, but hasn’t managed to move his legs at the same time until now. He is not too good at crawling, though he can shuffle backwards, but Squiffany never really crawled either. This is not a bad thing, as a crawling baby can move pretty fast and have wreaked an awful mess before you notice they have gone at all. To encourage him, Dilly laid a raisin trail along the sofa and he edged along keenly, eating as he went. He’s keen on food, though he doesn’t like being spoon-fed. Mostly, he has finger foods which he chomps effectively with his four teeth. He likes using his own spoon, but hasn’t got the knack of transferring food from bowl to mouth with it.

You remember I told you Squiffany’s first words were “oh dear”? Now Pugsley can say it too. Dilly had no idea that she said it so much, but I don’t expect she did before she had children.

Maybe it’ll be the men who are naked this time

Yesterday, my daughter and I were exchanging emails and she mentioned that she and her other half are planning to go to the cinema this weekend. ‘I fancy going to the cinema,’ I was writing when, with Startling Synchronicity, an email arrived from Ro, saying that a David Lynch film is on in the arty cinema in Norwich and did I fancy coming with him. Well, such timing cannot be overlooked and so the arrangement was confirmed.

We are slightly apprehensive, however. Some years ago, when he was in his mid teens, we went to Mulholland Drive together. Quite apart from the fact that I was hopelessly confused throughout the film, I was absolutely confounded by the love scene between the two women in the film – not the scene itself, but being there with my young son. Afterwards, Ro and I agreed that, to a sensitive lad and his mother, sitting in the cinema watching a naked Naomi Watts and the other actress (sorry, other actress for not being sure at this minute who you are) embracing each other is embarrassing. “Don’t worry”, said Ro last night. “It’s a 15, not an 18, so that won’t happen this time.”

But I’ve been thinking about it, and I don’t think MD was an 18 either. So I IMDb’d Inland Empire and it mentions ‘gratuitous nudity’.

Oh well. We’re both older now, and we can take it.

Eyes down…

…for forty winks. With extreme idleness, I sat down for a relax (as they say in these parts) and was woken ten minutes later by Tilly shaking her head, ears flapping loudly. Now the first batch of today’s jam is cooling, the second boiling and the third still steeping. Only another hour or so and I’ll have finished. I made twenty jars yesterday and, remarkably, they have all set.

The Sage has gone off to the Wilds of South Suffolk to pick up more china for the next sale. It’s all going well at present. We will have to put the catalogue together in another couple of weeks. I’ll have to work for my living for a bit.

Pause to take jam off heat Always one isn’t there. This batch resolutely refused to set on the saucer. I boiled it a bit more and eventually, in desperation, added more pectin. If it doesn’t set I’ll use it in icecream (thick yoghurt and strawberry jam make splendid, almost instant icecream) and if it’s like glue I’ll warm it up and use it as sauce.

Pause to pot first batch of jam After I’ve done this, I’ll go and attack the garden again. I wonder if the Sage will be horrified to come home and find the fence demolished? Probably. May not stop me though. My happy little shining face will mollify him.

On rambling

Of course, by the time I sit down here of an evening, either to read blogs and leave comments or to write to you wonderful people, I am usually tired, emotional or both. Therefore, a son of Belial, flown with insolence and wine*, I usually rabbit on blindly, making you all wonder what on earth I’m on about, or possibly what I’m on.

I’m sorry to say it won’t be any different tonight.

I just heard the Sage, on the phone say “I (!)’ve been making 24 pounds of jam” Excuse me? That is not even the Royal I. Oh, there isn’t a Royal I. Well…his part in the proceedings has been to hull about half of the strawberries (not quite half, but near enough) and cajole people to give him empty jars.

I might tease him later.

Oh, the rest of the jam will be made tomorrow, as I forgot to get more lemons. I’m in the shop working tomorrow morning, so I’ll get them then.

I haven’t had any cheques for the Highgrove visit yet, but I have had someone crying off. This is good, as long as no more than fifteen people do it, as then I’ll be a bit perplexed.

My friend, whose tea party we went to today, will be ninety in January. She is celebrating for the whole of this year, it being her ninetieth year. Splendid!, as Greavsie would say.

My hip hurts more each day, and I’ve started limping. I got a self-referral form to a physiotherapist a couple of weeks ago, which is almost as good as actually visiting one (bet there’s a long waiting list) but I am starting to think it might be sensible to visit the doctor, just so I can moan at him for a bit. I’ve a slight doctorphobia, so I am resisting that, but it’s boring, having a dodgy leg. I found it really hard to sit on the unimaginably firm Snape seats for several hours. I took a cushion, but usually I take two, and I will next time. I was just glad I’d had the sense not to buy a Prom ticket – there, one does not stand, but sits on the floor. I went to buy a CD in the interval, after moving my car from the pit of doom I’d had to park in and from where I probably would hardly have moved from midnight, and the couple in front of me were hiring seats to go on the floor…except that at this stage there was only one left. I made a sympathetically amused comment to the friendly, slightly camp chap behind the counter. “I find that it’s not enough to cushion your bum. Your back really needs support too,” he said. Dead right, he was.

*Some people quote from children’s feature films. Some from Milton. I like both

Z is in a jam

It having been cooler and a bit wet the last couple of days, Al had strawberries left over. Too many to throw away really, so I’ve been making jam. Three batches were made and potted this morning and three more are in bowls, covered with sugar, ready for doing tonight or tomorrow afternoon.

The Sage has been calling on friends asking to raid their cupboards for empty jars. The last lot I made, I ended up using glasses, so we’re drinking mostly out of pint pots now.

We’re just off to a 90th birthday party, so I’ll tell you about Don Giovanni later.

Ah, I’ve still got a few minutes.

I went to hear Don Giovanni last night at Snape. Very good. It was a concert performance as there is not room on the stage for a set as well as the orchestra and singers, and no pit, but the splendid singers managed that with aplomb, although it can’t be easy as it meant that they had to stay on stage for the whole 3+ hours. Orchestra great too, very young.

Really must go now, as I need to get petrol on the way.


Some things you do for love, love, love

I sounded a bit ungracious yesterday, saying that a swiftly-put-together dish, however kindly meant and gratefully received, is not quite the same as a specially shopped-for and cooked fresh dish, but I was remembering a time when a friend had died. He was in his forties and had had a brain tumour, and left a wife and two young sons.

We went to the house before the funeral. Friends were calling to sympathise and offer support, and several had brought helpful dishes of food. “It’s awfully kind of them,” said the teenage son, carefully, “and I don’t want to sound ungrateful in the least. But we have been living on shepherd’s pie for days now, and there are still three or four of them in the fridge. Why is it always shepherd’s pie?”

I went to a funeral today, of the Sage’s cousin A. Her daughter and sons are coming to terms with being the oldest generation in the family now – it’s a mental adjustment you don’t realise you are going to think about until you find yourself making it.

The two sons are twins, now in their late fifties. It’s quite odd, seeing middle-aged identical twins, especially men in dark suits as there aren’t differences of hair and clothes between them as there would be with women. One is slightly shorter and thinner than the other, but they are very alike. I hadn’t seen the children (A’s grandchildren) for a long time – they are now aged between 18 and 35 (ooh, Ellie is expecting her A Level results tomorrow, spare her a thought please).

As we left, I told A’s daughter, my good friend and cousin Charmian, not to be surprised if it took her a long time to feel herself again. It took me three years, I said. She looked shocked. I explained hastily, that I was not unhappy or in a state of mourning for that time, and it was not until I recovered that I realised that the pessimism that I had thought was absolutely understandable and keeping me safe from foolish hopefulness was actually the after-effects of looking after someone who had been both unhappy and unwell, and of bereavement. I had not needed treatment of any kind, just time and patience. My own patience for myself, that is. If I seem (for I am) self-indulgent, it is absolutely deliberate. I want to accept myself and be really quite kind and loving towards my faults. I want to take every bit of enjoyment from life that I can, but I want to like myself too, which means I must look after other people too, if I can.

I didn’t go into all this, of course, but I did tell her to be gentle and not push herself until she felt ready. Her husband, who is a darling, will understand. He told me that when his mother died, he felt really guilty that he could do what he wanted on a Sunday morning instead of spending the time with her.

A will be lovingly remembered by her family – a pretty good legacy for a long life, really.

This ‘n’ (as they say) that

Call me picky but, devoted as I am to ‘For Better or for Worse, tuna noodle casserole, made with tinned tuna, I presume (nothing wrong with tinned tuna and it is correct in a salad Niçoise, where fresh tuna is Nice – ooh, you see the play on words? – but a bit poncy), would, assuredly, be fed to the chickens. I mean, I might make it in an emergency, but I would give, to someone who could do with a nice meal they hadn’t had to cook for once, something a bit more, um, culinarily challenging. After all, if one was struggling a bit to get things done, a delicious casserole or soup that someone had taken time over would be more of a treat than tinned tuna with pasta.

However. This is not that.


I’ve had such a delightful day. I cannot tell you how enjoyable, and I hope my lovely new friends (ooh, bung in a hasty link) liked it too, for I talked far too much and walked them through embarrassingly overgrown garden. The Sage, who knows I’m barking but loves me anyway, joined us for lunch (which we went out for as I was too shy to cook as well) and afterwards, and he had a lovely time and is totally (Jen, that’s your word) converted to the concept of blogfriends. We were given Genuine Blue Honey and good advice on bees, which will be passed on to Al and Dilly, though not the bit about the tennis court being the perfect setting for hives. Hmm.

This evening, I had a meeting which I thought would be both boring and contentious, for at the corresponding meeting last year I felt obliged to Have My Say, was not. I don’t think I should say much more, but it demonstrated that middle-ranking C of E people are more pragmatic and useful than church hierarchy. And that they take on board people who speak up, if they make sense and are constructive.

I don’t think I’ve got a lot to add here. Except that I am a bit miffed with the Royal Mail (though I don’t expect it’s called that any more). I ordered a CD from a website on the 1st August and had an email to say it was posted on the 2nd. Usually, it would arrive within a day or two. It actually got here today. The 14th. Pretty rubbish, for first class post. I will tell them so, for it could reflect on them and it is not their fault.

Oh, one more thing. It took ages to get all those 39 letters in the post this morning, for I unwisely decided to hand-write the salutation and signature. And … oh, can’t go through it all again. Fortunately, I got over it. And had a lovely day afterwards.

Z, it seems, is Warm and Fuzzy

I have been idling away a few minutes, as you do when you have a busy day coming so are putting off starting it, doing this test. I wasn’t surprised to get a low score, but 7 was lower than I expected.

What did surprise me was the number of people with similarly low marks asking what they meant – they felt disregarded because the 12-and-unders were not evaluated (the higher the mark, the more your tendency towards the condition).

Surely, those are the type of people who should most be able to work out that a (rough and ready) test for Asperger’s Syndrome is meant to evaluate just that? It wasn’t testing for anything else, and if you don’t have any trace of AS, you don’t come into the evaluation.

On the other hand, maybe those people are just the sort to need to feel included in everything. Poor loves, I do feel for them.