Monthly Archives: October 2008

Z kept score

So, tonight was the Church Quiz. No, there was nothing religious about it, it was just being done as a fundraiser. Judy did it all, the food, the drink, the questions and the organisation of everything. Her husband Brian and I helped set up the room and Brenda did the washing up. Brian and I ran the quiz itself while Judy was busy in the kitchen. She said, not without respect, that I was bossy. Well, I don’t think so, but people like to know where they are, don’t they? As Sally was leaving, I told her that I’d been called bossy. “What? No! Who said that?” I told her I loved her, and said “Judy.” “Judy?”chuckled Sally. “Pot – kettle…”

The interviews went well this morning and, interestingly, we all picked the same candidate but expected the others to pick the other candidate. In fact, they were both good so it was a matter of ‘fit’ – since we all know the department well, I suppose that it’s not so surprising that we chose alike.

Two friends’ grandsons were born today – that is, two completely different families and, coincidentally, both little boys have been called Ethan. One of them, I’m sorry to say, is ill. They knew there would be a major problem so he was born by planned Caesarean section as childbirth would have been too much for him. He was born with one kidney and the other one is not fully formed. Positive thoughts for him, please? The other little Ethan is fine and will be home tomorrow. He’s the first baby in the family and the first grandson.

Time for food

By the way, that deli where Weeza and I had lunch yesterday is Clark & Ravenscroft in St Gregorys Alley. It’s right in the middle of Norwich, only a couple of minutes’ walk from the marketplace – if you go down Upper Goat Lane by St Giles car park then it’s opposite the church and the little open square. Huge bowl of delicious soup with granary bread, a generous sandwich with proper lettuce, not the prepacked stuff, a pot of tea and a big breakfast cup of good coffee was £9.60 and good value. Most people take out, I should think, as there’s not much room to eat in and I suppose that’s cheaper as they don’t have to charge VAT.

So tonight, Ro approved of his dinner, which was fillets of sea bream. “Straightforward to eat, you see. Delicious and not all those bones. This is a sensible fish.” “Not as canny as the herring, surely?” I suggested. “Why would a fish want to be easy to eat?” We debated why a bloater, being exactly the same fish as a kipper, seems more bony (according to Ro). I thought perhaps the splitting before being smoked might dry the bones out and make them easier to lift.

Squiffany stayed for Harvest Lunch at her nursery school today. The children made bread, vegetable soup and apple crumble. When I went to fetch her, she was brandishing a party invitation. In the car, she read it out to me. “Florence and Christian invite you to come to their party because they would really like you to come,” she said. “There is a picture of a cake with five candles.” I looked later. The invitation was from Mia in fact, but there were indeed five candles – though I suspect Mia will be four. Later, Dilly showed her various times on a clock jigsaw. Up to 3 o’clock, she knew it, after that she counted, but she could do them all. She can write all the letters in her brother’s name now, though does them in the wrong order.

I’ve let this week drift and got nothing done. Tomorrow, I’m interviewing in the morning and helping set up the room for a quiz and supper in the evening. I’m helping with the marking and scoring, not taking part. I’m not doing the cooking either.

Ro likes bananas …

Ro wonders, a bit grumpily, just why bloaters need all those bones. After all, they taste so good – why does a herring seem to have so many more bones than most other fish do? I have no answer for him. I don’t mind bones. The smaller ones, I simply eat. I am more than half dog, after all and have a robust digestion and no qualms about overburdening it.

I finally ventured into Boots in the town today, for the second time. The first occasion, the week it was opened, I was deeply unimpressed, but it wasn’t fully stocked then. I wasn’t much more pleased this time. The thing I wanted wasn’t there and I had to get a lesser substitute and I didn’t care for any of the toothbrushes. All I want is a toothbrush with a medium or small head and without irregular bristles, and they didn’t have one. Not even the ones costing a ludicrous amount of money were acceptable. I went to the Gay Shopper next door and bought one cheaper than any of them that is fine.

Ooh, apparently Bob in the sweetshop/stationers has found a buyer who has taken it over, stock and all, and the changeover has already happened and I missed it. Bob lives in the same village I do so no doubt I will see him around. I’m glad that the shop will continue at any rate.

Zerlina enjoyed her shopping trip to Norwich and very much appreciates her presents. She was a good girl and cleverly needed changing or feeding when there was a suitable place to do it, so the occasion was not stressful at all. Weeza found a very good little deli for lunch, where she had a smoked duck sandwiich and I had spiced lentil soup and both were delicious and the proprietor was charming. Judging by the name and the fact that they are doing the food for the local launching of a new book next week, we think that she or her partner must be an offspring of the late lamented John Peel.

Z forgets what she meant to call this post

Today’s lecture was about German expressionism. It was a subject I knew virtually nothing about beforehand, though I did know some of the pictures illustrated, but I know a little more now and I gave an appreciative (deservedly so) vote of thanks using an interpretation of what I’d learned. Winging it a bit, admittedly.

I was chatting to Georgie afterwards, who works there, though won’t for much longer. I told a friend the circumstances of her gaining her new job. “She was headhunted – the hotel where she had her wedding was so struck by her that the owner contacted her afterwards and offered her a job.” Pretty impressive, I think. I told Georgie that I’d tell people that a friend of mine had been headhunted at her wedding — and now I have.

Then I went to spend a couple of hours baby-cuddling. Zerlina is much happier this week – she had some vaccinations last week and was not quite her sunny self for a few days afterwards. Today, she lay on my lap for quite some time, looking at a book. It’s a Ladybird book – this one. She really looks at it and enjoys it, concentrating for quite some time. When I put it down for a few minutes to eat lunch, she was not pleased and I had to pick it up again. I’ve had decades of experience in eating while looking after a baby so holding it up for her didn’t stop me. She fell asleep in the end, so I felt I’d done my grandmotherly duty. I’m going over again tomorrow and we’re going Shopping! Granny’s treat.

Tonight, I was pouring myself a glass of wine and offered one to Ro. He decided against. I did some little bits of cheese on corn cakes and took them through to the drawing room as a pre-prandial snack (yeah, I allow for it in the rest of the food I eat, I’m still losing weight), taking 3 for me and leaving the other 5 for him. I don’t eat much cheese now, so what I have is flavoursome and delicious for maximum impact. This week, I’ve bought a blue goat cheese and a blue sheep cheese (the cheese is blue, not the animal *sigh*) and the piece I cut of sheep cheese was the larger, so was on 6 of the bits of corn cake. After a few minutes, Ro coughed. “I shouldn’t have had the stronger cheese last. I think I need a glass of wine to take away the cheesy hit.” I poured a glass. Later, I offered him more. “Ooh, all right then, this is nice. Just half a glass.”

Oh, by the way, today I had some of that new drizzly Marmite. Sure you don’t need butter any more, but where is the flavour? In a blindfold taste test, I wouldn’t have known it was Marmite.

Also by the way, I gave a plug for our study day on the rise of modern art. When I looked out to the foyer afterwards, there was a small queue of people buying tickets. Hah.

Z scored 46 out of 50

Weeza rang at 9 o’clock this morning and was surprised that I was still in bed. I can’t think why, she knows well how lazy I am and, although I’d been awake early and cuddled my husband and then read a book, I had snuggled down for another nap as I hadn’t got any appointments today.

You might think I’d been feeling romantic, but the cuddle was necessary. You see, the Sage had turned on to his stomach and when he does that, he occasionally has a twitch in his leg which makes the knee flex, the lower leg rise and then thwack back on to the mattress. This is maddening, as you can imagine, and the simplest way to stop it (for it seems churlish to wake him) is to drape my limbs over his so that he can’t do it. He was very pleased when he woke up and found me and I didn’t tell him.

Anyway, by the time Weeza and I had chatted and I’d washed my hair and dressed and then answered a few more phone calls, the morning was half over. This afternoon, I needed to go out to one of the nearby villages, which was actually a bit further away than I’d thought, so I was a bit panty by the time I got back to the shop. Tim was amused. Then it rained. I discovered that my new jacket is, indeed entirely waterproof, but that the hood is a bit big and kept falling over my eyes so I couldn’t see where I was going. I had to turn back the cuffs, as it were, for my own safety.

I’m relearning geographical locations. I have never quite got my head round all the present European countries, and am finding it quite hard, so I am starting with the easier option of brushing up on US states. I mostly do know them, but have a strange forgetfulness about a few; notably Idaho, Nebraska and Kansas. I also get Massachusetts confused with Connecticut if I’m not careful and am always surprised how far up Missouri is. Al taught them all to Ro when he was a little boy and had a whole lot of little memory tricks to help him. I never quite knew how they were devised – one example was that Californians enjoy pizza with Oregano (Oregon) on top and then there was something about a nice New Jersey and Delaware/Tupperware, but I didn’t know what they were about. I did once say, when learning African countries, that I mixed up Kenya and Uganda – “Kenya’s on the Koast” he replied laconically, and also pointed out that all the countries with a Z in them are in the south. He’d not have the patience to be a teacher (it’s not the teaching he’d not have patience for but the recording and paperwork) but he is brilliant at it. He had Ro adding and subtracting before he was 3 years old, using flowerpots.

Z is sometimes confused

I’m typing on Dilly’s laptop as I’m babysitting this evening, and I realise that I don’t know how to drag the window across or make it bigger with one of those little pads, so this is all a bit annoyingly small for me. Oh, hang on, I’m experimenting.

Right, got it. That’s better.

The price list is up on our website now, if you’re interested. The link is on the sidebar. It was an interesting sale, we’ve never had so many items reach into the thousands of pounds before. It had a lowering effect on the last lot, which we’d thought would make more than the lower estimate, but there were only a few unsold pieces of Lowestoft, and overall it did extremely well. It could well be that some people thought that their money would be as safe in antiques as anywhere else. We already have nearly the whole of the next sale in April sorted with some fine pieces of china. If you think this is all desperately trivial when people are worrying about their mortgage, so it is, but so are many other things, such as astonishingly wealthy, though no doubt vastly worthy and compassionate, young men having a motorbike jolly across Africa and wanting people to give money to cheer them on. I’d rather have the link with my home town 250 years ago and the items those forgotten artisans, craftsmen and artists were responsible for.

So, I’m looking after Pugsley. He’s never gone to bed without his sister before and we were in some doubt if he’d settle. Squiffany said her goodbyes to him lovingly this evening, getting on her knees to hug and reassure him – you can see how they are used to being spoken to by their parents! He was fine after they’d gone, choosing various games and jigsaw puzzles from the cupboard and saying “Well done, Pugsley, good boy” with satisfaction after finishing a particularly complicated puzzle. He blotted his copybook rather when I’d put him in his pyjamas and gone to warm his bedtime milk, by doing an unmentionable activity in his nappy – not five minutes after sitting briefly on the potty and assuring me there was nothing to come. They use reusable nappies mostly, but a disposable is more comfortable and absorbant for the night, and my frugal soul was dismayed at the waste of a new nappy; furthermore it was the last, so he’s in one of his usual ones after all. His father was out of nappies day and night soon after reaching the age of 2, so let’s hope Pugsley emulates him soon.

Afterwards, I read him 4 bedtime stories (usually they have 3 but he wanted Fox in Socks and who could resist?), tucked him up in bed and I haven’t heard another sound in the past hour and a half.

You do appreciate, I’m sure, that I write as I would speak; that is, mostly nonsense. If I refer to a bottle instead of a bunch of flowers, just be glad that you only have to interpret me. Just imagine how confusing it is actually to be me. You may spare a compassionate thought for my family, but on the other hand they have the joy of my constant and enlivening presence, so they are most awfully lucky, by and large.

Z takes it easy

I realise that I can’t tell you all about the sale, as the prices haven’t gone up yet on our website, but I can say that it all went very well.

We usually have 4 hours of viewing, but this time the Sage decided to go for 5 hours and it was just as well. We were busy from 2 o’clock until just before the sale started at 7. Zerlina has attended her first sale, though her father had to take her out when she became noisy – her mother was up on the rostrum, sitting beside the Sage, at work. I was squeaky with excitement sitting beside Charmian, ready to receive the money.

Lots of people came and a good number of them were ready to buy. 79 people registered as bidders and all those and a good many more wanted to see the china – come to think of it, many of the registered buyers were couples, which accounts for the 150 or more in the room. We have it all on display on tables covered with blankets and tablecloths, with a horseshoe-shaped arrangement of tables around so that people can sit and see and handle the china. Several of us fetch and carry as requested. After a few hours of turning back and forth, our feet ache and I find I have to eat regularly or else I become dizzy and a bit faint.

It went well. I’m so pleased, we all work hard but the Sage is the one whose prestige and professionalism is on the line. A quite important collection was up for sale and he’d had to convince the vendors (the late owner’s family) that he was the best person to sell it. We’ve had a lot of publicity, so a lot was at stake.

I haven’t done a lot today. I cycled in to town and bought vegetables and flowers and champagne and cycled gingerly home – several bottles of wine and two bunches of wine amongst the potatoes and cauliflower and all the rest in my bike panniers made me heavy and unstable and I was careful, and also overtaken by a young lycra-clad woman.

Otherwise, I haven’t done a lot. I sniffed the cork for Dave and opened another bottle to drink for the Sage. It’s been lovely weather so I’ve pottered tiredly about and I’ll have another boringly early night. I have not neglected telling the Sage how splendid he is.

Z drinks tea and whisky and goes to bed early

I’ll tell you about the sale tomorrow. I’m so tired now. We had an hour’s extra viewing and it was pretty busy throughout, though I did have a break while Zerlina slept on me – as always, she was asleep with a few minutes of my soothing presence.

I was disappointed not to buy Stephen’s cartoon (see last Sunday’s post – I’m sorry, I really can’t link at present as my brain doesn’t work), but the bidding was spirited (as we say in the auctioneering business) and I kept finding myself the underbidder; nevertheless I pushed it up past the point at which I was rather banking on being taken out. Not that I think it isn’t worth the £160.02 paid for it and next year I will try harder.

Lowestoft has, as I told you after the last sale (well, I probably did and lets face it, neither you nor I can be arsed to go back and look), a peculiar attitude to parking. The long-stay park closes at 9 pm and the longer-opening one is only available for 3 hours at a time, so if one needs to be there all afternoon and evening one has to repark. I did go in the long-stay one this time, as it was likely I’d be finished in time. I trotted over the road at 8.45 to find the gate locked. I went back and asked the parking man chappie, who was walking away, if the ‘out’ gate was open. It was. I said, oh good, because my daughter’s car is in there too. He asked if I knew whose was the third car, but I didn’t. I said I was sorry to keep him waiting, because if the car park were empty, he could simply lock up and go home, but he said he’s on duty until midnight anyway. I said that when I went back, I’d ask everyone if their car was the third one (ooh, The Third Car, does zither music come to mind?) and he thanked me, isn’t that sweet? So, Lowestoft is a bit rubbish but the people who live there are not, they are lovely.

I came home, drank two large mugs of Lapsang tea and drank two drams of whisky. Now I’m taking the daily papers to bed. Oh, by the way, the sale was mentioned in the Daily Express today, complete with a picture of the Tulip Painter jug.

And thank you for your kind comments about the photos. You’ll have seen (whether or not you noticed) that there have been a few photos of me, complete with face, recently, when previously any Z pics were either from a great distance or obscured views. It’s all part of my new positive self-image. After years of feeling apologetic about my appearance, now I take myself as I am and am cheerful about it.


It was a really lovely lunch and, in response to a request, I took photos of the cake. Lilian and Jo, who are sisters, made and decorated the cake which was both beautiful and delicious. The flowers are made of sugar – isn’t it impressive?

I had the job of giving a name badge to the 9 former members, some of whom I hadn’t seen for 10 or 15 years, and I’m happy to say that i recognised every one of them, which says as much for their youthfully unchanging appearance as it does for my memory. I was particularly happy to see Florence looking so well; she left us on the grounds of increasing age several years ago, and is now 97 and still pretty and cheerful and walking on her own two feet. She recognised me too and we had a lovely chat. I had my picture taken helping to cut the cake, as I’m secretary, but I doubt you’ll ever get a look of that. However, I will put up another picture of us Sage family girls – taken at z’s 6-week celebration (as you saw last week; I’ve only just got around to uploading it).

Wagging Tongues

Right, simplicity rules again. A basic background. I was only teasing…

One forgets when a child gets onto each stage of development and of course they vary hugely as well. Pugsley, at just two, has a large vocabulary and uses quite complex grammar – that is, he puts in pronouns, adjectives and so on accurately and constructs proper sentences – but he doesn’t yet know colours. Zerlina, who is just coming up to two months old, came to visit this afternoon. Her latest entertainment is having raspberries blown at her by her mother. She thinks that is most amusing and watches and listens with interest. Weeza stuck out her tongue. Zerlina stuck out her tongue right back and they did that several times. It was certainly Zerlina responding to Weeza and not the other way round. I was really surprised – I would have thought she was far too young to copy an action, wouldn’t you? I’ve no idea when any of my children did something like that.

The lunch club I go to (yes, I am that sort of person; that is, I go so I must be) is celebrating its 20th anniversary tomorrow and I’ve promised to help with various little items. I have put everything I’ve said I’ll take in the car; the chairman is 90 years old, a retired headmistress of a girls’ private school in Surrey and her air of authority still stands as staunchly as when she retired 30 years ago. I have agreed to arrive 45 minutes early – for no good reason at all that I can see, although there is a small job that will take all of 10 minutes to do. Still, I’m sure it will be great fun and we’ll have a marvellous time. There will be Cake.

Al is getting better. He was back in the shop this afternoon. Dilly has booked a week’s holiday for them all at Centre Parcs in January. She will be working for a couple of days that week, but it’s near enough to her school to commute and it will be much less crowded, and vastly cheaper, in term time. So I’ve put it in my diary too and will look after the shop that week.