Monthly Archives: November 2008

A Busted Flush

Today turned out to be better for me than for the Sage. The flush in Al’s shop loo had finally packed in and so his father offered to sort it out. First, he had to turn off the water, which took some effort as the stopcock hadn’t been turned for a long time and, of course, you have to be careful not to force it and break something vital (in a flood-prevention sense). Then he went and got the necessary small part and was going to take an hour or so finishing the job this morning. It all turned out to be more fiddly and time consuming than he’d hoped. The worst part was putting his hand in to siphon the water out. ‘It was clean though, right?’ said Weeza when we were chatting online a while ago. ‘I forbore to ask’ I said. I’m so glad I’m incapable of doing plumbing work and I have no intention of learning. I did offer to go and help, but the Sage said that there was not enough room for two people in the lavatory, so there wasn’t any point.

All done now, and Al owes his dad a drink or several.

And while we’re on the subject of a drink or several, the six churches in our benefice had a joint Advent Sunday service at 9.30, so I was footloose later when I’d normally have been churchwardening. So I pedalled happily down to the pub. B and S were there having a drink, having booked lunch as their kitchen is being redone at present and cooking Sunday lunch isn’t very possible. They charmingly invited me to join them. I rolled home repletedly and happily some two hours later.

That’s it, really. A nice leisurely afternoon, when I might just have closed my eyes to rest them for half an hour or so. Tilly needed cuddling, you see. She’s recently adopted the habit of licking the furniture. I hadn’t really noticed (there’s normally a throw or rug chucked on the sofa for her to lie on and that’s what she licks) but it annoyed Ro. So he looked up likely causes, and it’s apparently anxiety or attention-seeking. I don’t think it’s either, but it’s true that I haven’t been spending so much time on the sofa with her since moving my computer in the drawing room. I sit in a comfy armchair instead and peer over it towards the television if there’s anything I want to watch. I always have read while watching television, so there’s no difference. So Ro has resolved to give her attention when she’s not licking the sofa and ignore her when she is, and I’ve said I’ll snuggle up to her more. I still don’t think she’s anxious though. She’s very relaxed.

Z chuckles unsophisticatedly

It’s on Saturday nights that I chortle with glee as I watch television. No, I don’t watch Strictly Come Dancing. I’ve still never seen it. But I was recently introduced to the delights of Hole in the Wall with Dale Winton. I know, darlings, you didn’t think such mindless nonsense would appeal to a sophisticate such as I. And it does get better. What is more entertaining than Harry Hill’s TV Burp?

No, I don’t get out much.

When I was three…

These all came out in the mid-fifties and I adored all these three songs when I was a little girl. I thought that Eartha Kitt was fabulously witty and beautiful and I loved the lyrics of ‘Old fashioned girl’. I was just old enough to comprehend the tongue-in-cheekedness; the ‘old fashioned house, with an old fashioned fence and an old fashioned millionaire’ cynicism with its humorous twist.

And here it is, with the lyrics too, for full enjoyment.

I think it was even earlier that I listened to Anne Shelton. It was my first inkling of a double meaning, of playing with the English language. I can’t remember the name of the figure of speech, but I’m sure one of you will tell me. ‘Lay down your arms and surrender to mine’ was the height of wit. I thought it was very very clever, and I loved the marching beat. Here you are … Anne Shelton, and the words.

And I fell for Perry Como in a big way. He was my first hearththrob – as a singer, at any rate. I feel absolutely uncool here, but it meant a lot to me (I was only three, remember. I grew out of it). I kept the record for many years and then, when Weeza was a toddler, I played it to her…and, all unknowing, she picked it up and chucked it on the floor and it broke. Years later, she gave me a Perry Como tape to make up for it. I don’t think I ever listened to it all through, actually. It was Catch a Falling Star and (if lesserly) Magic Moments that had won my heart. And here it is. I think it was the voice and the imagery of ‘Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, save it for a rainy day‘ that appealed to the romantic core hidden deep in my heart.

And LOM has tempted me again. And actually, this is exactly right. isn’t it?

You Are Prancer

You are the perfect reindeer, with perfect hooves and perfect flying form.

Why You’re Naughty: Because you’re Santa’s pet, and you won’t let anyone show you up.

Why You’re Nice: You have the softest fur and the sweetest carrot breath.

Four weeks – WHAT? (which I twice typed as waht *sigh*)

You Should Have a Blue C******** Tree

For you, the holidays represent a time of calm, understanding, and peace.

You avoid family fights, and you don’t get too stressed out – even when things are crazy!

You like to make C******** about making everyone’s life a little bit better.

You don’t get caught up in greed or commercialism. You’re too sincere for that.

Your blue tree would look great with: Lots of silver tinsel

You should spend C******** Eve watching: It’s a Wonderful Life

What you should bake for Father C********: Chocolate chip cookies

Thanks to Little Old Me. And yeah. I mean, take out the sincere shit, I mean really. But otherwise, I love a happy day with no tension and I plan for that.

I schedule in family time. I do a time plan for the morning, and that includes doing nothing, at least three times; that is, being with the family, ignoring the kitchen, acting as if I’ve all the time in the world. You see, when I was a child, I hardly saw my parents on the day. I remember little about the morning, except that my mother was busy in the kitchen. At some time, my father went to fetch the various people who spent the day with us, who would otherwise have been alone. This sounds laudable and it was, except that it only worked in theory, not in practice. My sister and I longed to open the tempting parcels under the tree, but it wasn’t allowed until there was space in the cooking schedule. Wild excitement when we did, then our mother went back into the kitchen and my father disappeared, no idea where, and we watched television and read our new books or started our new jigsaw puzzles while the dear visitors squabbled over who had the nicer presents and our grandfather, being the only man (as father had vanished) was gallant all round. Dinner was served in the evening, rather late for everyone’s digestion.

Instead, I schedule in family time. We open presents together, eat lunch at 1.30 or 2 (this is planned and kept to. We have beef and it has to be perfectly cooked). Everything is simple, so that I am relaxed and happy and don’t think that the food is the most important thing because I’ve spent time on it. Although I want it to be perfect, because – oh blimey, darlings, I don’t have to explain that. It’s like the school swot who’s cool too, I want to swan in effortlessly on schedule to a laden tableful of perfect food, having spent all morning playing with new toys…apparently. Which can be done. Mind you, some time in the afternoon, I fall asleep.

Anyway, sorry to mention the subject before December, but at least I didn’t mention the word. Regarding the tree, however, blue isn’t quite my colour for the season (though it is at other times). I would love to watch It’s a Wonderful Life but I’ll be too busy playing the organ and Father C receives mince pies and sherry. Just an old fashioned girl, you see (remember Eartha Kitt? I loved that song when I was a little girl).

No turn unstoned

Regarding those Somalian pirates, the chaps on Channel 4 news had a fine time. In the space of a few minutes, they referred excitedly to the pirates’ lair, their booty, a motley crew, their ill-gotten gains, having blasted pirates out of the water and hot pursuit. The only cliché unuttered was Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum and you could see they were terribly tempted.

Z does not blame the mail and appreciates the male

That tax disc finally arrived this morning. If it hadn’t, I’d have phoned again and arranged to pick it up in Norwich tomorrow. it was correctly addressed and there was no earthly reason for two to have gone astray and a third to have arrived by registered post on Tuesday instead of Saturday. I can’t think that it’s the mail’s fault. Anyway, it’ll go straight back to the post office so that I can get a refund for the next ten months.

I finally got notes written up from a meeting a month ago, just in time (30 minutes before) for the next meeting tonight. At least it made me do it. It is bitterly cold tonight again. I hadn’t taken gloves or a hat and I was extremely cold cycling home at 10 o’clock. The Sage had arrived home first and was making me a cup of tea. I resisted the impulse to add a slug of whisky.

Did I tell you that I opened my mouth and was surprised to hear me offering to play the organ for two extra services on Christmas Eve? Ours (when I’ll play the clarinet) is at 6 pm, the next is at 10 pm and the third is at 11.30. I have asked Andy to play for out morning service the next day, though. I know when I’ll have had enough.

I bought a couple of brace of partridges for Saturday’s dinner. I roasted them, but the legs are too fiddly to deal with, so I only served the breasts and put the rest in the stockpot with onion, carrots and celery and the next day I made lovely game soup, pints of it. We had it for supper on Sunday, followed by baked potatoes with cheese (I virtuously added plain yoghurt to my potato instead) and again for lunch today. There’s still plenty left for tomorrow. They cost – can’t quite remember – about £3.50 a brace (the three of us had them, but they would have done for four), the vegetables were cheap and it was not an expensive treat.

I’m going to visit Weeza and Zerlina tomorrow.

Z has become a princess without even noticing

I drove my new (to me, it’s ten years old) car to Norwich today, a long way round as I went to fetch two friends who live 9 miles away first. It made a triangle of the journey. And I realise how much the Rover has spoiled me.

I mean, it’s a Mercedes. How much can you complain? But. Hm. I can’t help comparing and it keeps falling short.

Start with the positive, it’s a pleasure to drive, very comfortable smooth ride and the clutch and brake are nice to use. The accelerator needs a heavier foot to start with than I’m used to, but I won’t notice that after a few days. The engine is quiet and smooth, you wouldn’t know it’s done nearly 100,000 miles. It’s slightly smaller than the Rover, which is noticeable in the smaller boot space and a little less legroom in the back, but that’s fine.

And two points over the Rover – I’ve never known a car whose passenger seat goes so far back. This will be a help if ever I need to give a lift to anyone with a leg in plaster or who has limited mobility; not as unlikely as it sounds. And it has a nice little compartment for loose change. I couldn’t understand why my old car didn’t, when the previous Rover did. It’s so useful.

Almost everything I miss is, essentially trivial. But they are things I actively enjoyed and which made driving a pleasure. I should add, at this point, that I am supremely uninterested in cars. Apart from the uneconomonousness (I lost track of the syllables there) of buying a brand new car, I’d be bored with too much choice to make one at all. So if at any point you think “but my last three cars had that as standard” I’m hardly to know that.

What I miss. Sensors so that the windscreen is wiped when it needs to be without you touching anything. Sensors that beep when you’re reversing and getting near something. Being told your average speed, mpg and how far you can go on the petrol in your tank. Climate control. A really good CD player. A steering wheel with alterable height (no point in being able to raise and lower the driver’s seat unless you can get the height of the wheel right too).

What I’d have settled for. A CD player. Air con. The one and only thing I actually specified was air conditioning. And Mike rang me shamefacedly on Saturday to admit that it doesn’t seem to have it after all. And there’s no sodding CD player at all, and the radio is only okay.

Okay, let’s call me a spoilt princess and let it go, at least it’s November and not June But there is one thing I actively dislike and think could cause accidents and that’s that there is no sodding handbrake. A friend bought a car last year and didn’t realise it until too late – he still dislikes it. Instead of a nice reachable lever that you can pull on and let out gradually as you make a hill start, there’s a fourth foot-pedal to brake and a hand-operated catch that you pull to let the brake off. Apart from the awkwardness of trying to juggle accelerator and brake with the right foot at the same time as the clutch and brake with the left and the gear lever with the left hand, when you’re stopped in traffic on a hill, there’s the business of gauging exactly the moment to let the brake off completely as you set off again. I suspect this gizmo was invented with an automatic gearbox in mind, and it would work fine then (although if you were used to a clutch, I can see you accidentally applying it while driving along) but it’s awkward at the least with a clutch. And I’ve known two people who had a heart attack at the wheel of their cars. One was, unfortunately, stopped by running into a flock of sheep, but the other was saved from causing an accident by the passenger grabbing the wheel and steering, while gradually applying the handbrake. And if you forget to put the brake on and start to get out of the car, no quick grab to save it as it starts to roll forward. It’s an awkward leg manouevre at the best.

I know I’m being grumpy. Weeza, yesterday, flicked the Mercedes sticky-up bonnet thingy (must have a name, can’t think of it) in an approving manner “you can look at it as you’re driving along.” “Pretentious nonsense” I grumbled, “who do they think they are, Rolls Bloody Royce?” “Mercedes Bloody Benz,” she said acidly and that’s fair enough.

Oh, and you will never in the world catch me calling it a Merc. Any more than you’ll find me referring to a seat of learning as a ‘uni’.

I’ll get used to it (except the lack of air con) and there’s much to like. But I so resent bloody Rover for building beautiful to drive cars that are so badly designed that they keep going expensively wrong. They deserved to go out of business.

Attack of the Snowgnomes

We had quite a shock when we went outside. The cars had been hijacked by brooding Snowgnomes. Mine (the first photo is the last I’ll take of the Rover, which will leave for the last time tomorrow), Weeza and Phil’s, Ro’s and the Sage’s were all affected. We wondered why Al’s van and Dilly’s car had not been attacked, until we ventured into their garden.

The Snowgnomes had grown and were approaching the house. Fortunately, it transpired that they were not, after all, unfriendly, as Squiffany demonstrates.

Happy Halloween (Z is running late)

The nice person sent me the photos – not everything in detail but you get the idea. Please don’t make *funny* phone calls to him – though really funny ones would be fine.

I’m well behind on blog-reading, but the first two I read when I came home from church entertained me enough to tell you about. Peter is always great, if sometimes lugubrious to say the least. His hill-walking puts me to shame, I can’t do hills any more. Even Norfolk hills tax me. I chortled mightily at the Three-legged Cat, particularly her Thursday and Friday posts (yeah, I get behind in my reading). And not today, but in the past week, my friend LZM has been telling us about her recent hip operation, using a photo from the meme I gave her as a starting point. Scroll down to Chapter One and work up.

All these, I felt as if I was there being told the anecdotes in person. Great. I hardly bother reading fiction books now, after a lifetime of addiction. I start so many and finish so few. You are all better than most books published these days. With the advantage that I now have friends and acquaintances all over the place.