Monthly Archives: November 2008

A little naughtiness

It’s a day when little things keep happening. Nothing major, just annoyances. For example, having retaxed my car in good time before it ran out at the end of September, it only just occurred to me that, having done it online, I’d never received the disc. So I’ve rung and reported it, and am now heartily relieved that I haven’t been stopped in the meantime. Not displaying the disc is an offence in itself and I don’t know to what extent my explanation would be accepted. At least now it’s reported I should be all right between now and when it arrives. I’d rather not find out though.

I’m just about to go into town to check if the letting agent has paid this month’s rent into my account. If not, I’ll have to make a complaint. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I owed most of it in fees to them anyway. Last Friday I had a statement which showed that they’d removed it and paid the rest into my account. On Monday pm it wasn’t there and I think it’s about damn time as the tenant paid it on 29th October. If it’s there now, I’ll have to check again next month to make sure the delay was because they were taking the money I owed them out, because there’s no reason at all why they can’t simply pass it straight on. If it isn’t, I’ll have to ask why not.

Mind you, I’m not uncheerful. I turned off my phone yesterday as I was at a study day (social history of art 1850-2000 in Paris and New York) and when I turned it on here there wasn’t a signal, so I only just received a lovely message from a friend. Thanks, lovely friend xx.

Feeling a little dispirited (this was before I got the message) I put a pizza into the oven for lunch. It was that or resort to alcohol and alcohol must remain a pleasure and never be something to turn to – but I fancied a little naughtiness. Now I feel a little too-fullness, so I’ll cycle into town to work it off. And to check my bank balance.


I’m sorry about the quality of this photo. It was not possible to get to the inside of the window to wipe off the condensation and I didn’t have time to go back and retake it later. But this was Al’s Remembrance Day tribute.

A tag!

A very palpable tag!

Little Old Me wants me to do this –

1. Go to your sixth picture folder then pick your sixth picture.
2. Pray that you remember the details.
3. Tag 5 others, leave a comment to let them know they’ve been tagged.

I’ve gone for my iPhoto file, that I have started to use since my computer failed me back in the Spring and worried me that I’d lost all my pictures. And here is the sixth picture of the sixth folder.

It’s one I took during my visit to Spain. On our last day we had an excursion to Toledo and, on the approach to the town, the coach stopped for us to look at the view and take pictures.

I’d rather expected Toledo to be very touristy, but it was lovely. Narrow streets – they really should ban cars altogether from many of them – and although there were a lot of shops aimed at tourists, it was not brashly done. Most of those shops had displays of knives, Toledo being well known for making knives, swords and suchlike. I can’t imagine they do any trade with people who have travelled by air nowadays. Other shops had models made of marzipan, the other local product. I bought a little cuddly toy for each of my grandchildren in yet another shop, including one for Zerlina. Since this was several months before she was born and it was the first thing I bought for her, it was rather exciting to include her in my souvenir shopping. We had lunch there and then all wandered back to the main square before rejoining the coach. It was a lovely sunny day and most of us sat on walls or benches eating ice-cream.

Ooh, don’t know who to tag. I’ll come back later, but in the meantime, if anyone would like to volunteer…

Here we go – I think you’re all people I haven’t previously tagged. Of course, no obligation, but actually it’s a particularly easy one and rather enjoyable.

Id Entity

I haven’t time to link now, but I will, and tell you lucky people too that you’ve been tagged.

It’s not that Ro’s got a big nose, just that he can’t always see what’s under it

“Have we got any washing machine liquid for colours?” asked Ro. “I thought so,” I said, getting up. “So did I,” he said. “I bought it in Waitrose the other week, their own brand” I added helpfully – always good to know what you’re looking for.

When we moved here, beyond the kitchen was a larder, boiler room and a downstairs bathroom for Hilda, my in-laws’ live-in maid (she’d started out as the Sage’s nursemaid and stayed). When my mother moved in next door, her four-poster bed didn’t fit in either of the bedrooms, so we demolished the boiler room and bathroom and built a new bedroom and, since the terms of planning permission included a link between the two dwellings, a small laundry room rather than just a corridor. My mother and I shared it and there is a drain in the floor in case of flooding (a few times bitten in the past).

So I trotted to the other end of the house behind Ro. He picked up a box of sachets. “You see, for whites. I’ll use them if necessary though,” he said. He followed my gaze towards the washing machine. On top was another box. “Oh. Ah. I owe you one. Anything I can do to make up for it?” “I’ll think about it. Maybe let you stew for a bit.” He apologised again. “Happens to us all, no problem.”

He followed me back into the drawing room, with him still talking about how one can not see something right under one’s nose, and went over to the fire. I stood up, having sat down at the computer, and went to shut the door. “Oops,” he said apologetically.

It’s all right. I don’t mind. He’s no trouble really.

Not my memory, but one handed down

The men lost in my village to two wars



It never ceases to affect me. This is a small village, even now – there are about 400 houses. A century ago, there were probably half as many and, although families were larger, only grown men (albeit teenagers, some of them) would have gone off to war. But twenty-five of them died.

Not often that one uses the word ‘decimated’ literally. But in this case, one can.

Z Girds her Loins

—in a metaphorical sort of way, of course. I’m not sure quite how to take it literally. No, my point is that I am going to have to do some work. The chairman of governors is having to take some time out to look after a member of her family who has had an accident, so will not be able to come into school for the rest of the term. I’d already agreed to chair the next meeting as she was going to be away then anyway, but there’s going to be a lot more than that, as well as what I usually do, which I don’t want to neglect.

So far, I’ve written two emails asking for meetings, written three other letters and another email and decided not to type out an inventory yet.

In Other News … oh, I’m not sure that there is much. It’s cold and wet today, but the Sage has just lit the fire, so we’ll snuggle down nicely, each doing our own thing (Ro on one computer, me on another and the Sage reading the paper. Tilly is relaxing full-length on the sofa). Tonight, I’ll be babysitting as Al and Dilly are going out, so I need to start making the lasagne for dinner in good time as I won’t be here this evening. Someone can bring me through my dinner next door once the children are in bed.

Okay. If you don’t read blogs on a Saturday, you haven’t missed much here.


Back to India for the second time within a year. We were leaving on the 27th December, but that was the year of the tsunami on the 26th, so there was still an air of shock in Chennai (Madras). We spent a week with our friends and then left for a tour of Rajasthan, flew back, had a few days in Mysore and Bangalore and then a couple more nights in Chennai. We were staying at the Madras Cricket Club and I have our temporary membership card somewhere.

Because of the time difference, it was never convenient to phone home, although I’d rung to say we’d arrived safely, so I was emailing as often as I could. This wasn’t that convenient, either – there was an IT room at the club which I could use, but in Rajasthan we decided to let our driver have his evenings free. He assured us we could call on him any time, but we didn’t think it was reasonable. There was an internet facility at most hotels, but it was slow and expensive and quite frustrating to use. So it was disappointing not ever to receive any replies from the family. I was, because of the awkwardness, writing one letter and sending it to all family members – Ro went back to university while I was away and I knew the Sage wouldn’t look at the computer, so I asked the children to give him my news, but I had nothing in response and I felt quite guilty. Bad enough to swan off for three weeks holiday immediately after Christmas without him thinking I was not getting in touch. Eventually, we decided to hang the expense and use Wink’s mobile phone. MIdnight in Madras was early evening at home (5 1/2 hours ahead, if I remember right) so he was in.

Happy greetings, and I asked how everyone was and why no one had been in touch. The Sage hesitated. *Here follows how not to give bad news.*

“I’m afraid we’ve lost Khan.”

“Oh, no, have you found him?”

“Yes, we found him.”

“Oh, thank goodness.”

“He’d had an accident.”

“Oh no, is he all right?”

An awkward silence. It occurred to me that ‘lost’ might have meant more than lost.

“Khan isn’t dead, is he?”

My poor sister who, as you will recall, loved Khan, was sitting on the other bed with a stricken face while I tried to extract the story from the Sage.

Khan and Tilly used to go off together. They’d have a run and a nose round the fields and come back together. But on this occasion, Tilly came back alone and subdued. They went out searching for Khan, but it didn’t occur to the Sage until more than an hour had passed to go out on the road. He must have gone out through the hedge, been hit by a car and killed. The driver didn’t come and tell us, although he can’t have not known and we’d have been at fault. Khan didn’t normally go on the road and the two of them were so well behaved we didn’t think we had to worry about them.

I’ve never asked the Sage for all the details, it was all too upsetting to rake over. I did, however, explain that ‘lost’ may indeed be a euphemism for ‘died’, but not with dogs. Dogs do go missing once in a while, so ‘the dog’s lost’ gives quite a different message to ‘We’ve lost Aunt Agnes,’ unless auntie is quite gaga and tends to wander.

So, poor Khan. He didn’t have much luck really. And since then, Tilly has been an only dog and I think that now it would be unfair to bring a puppy into the household, so it seems she’ll remain so.

It’s all right, nothing about dogs here

Weeza and Zerlina are very well. Zerlina now weighs 10 lbs 5 oz, which is still on the small side but now just above the curve for her birthweight – more importantly, she’s fine, very responsive, smiles broadly at you and enjoys playing with the hanging toys over her play mat (whatever you call these things). She’s also happy to sleep in her cot, which means that Weeza and Phil get some time for conversation and general relaxation in the evenings. She’s a pretty and dainty little girl and very sweet.

They’re coming over tomorrow afternoon – you know the valuation I mentioned? Weeza’s going to help me set up the spreadsheet for maximum efficiency. She’s slightly missing her indispensable high-powered Senior PA-ness and keen to help. I appreciate it.

When I arrived home, 8 or 10 half-grown bantams scurried away from the house door. I like having animals all around. Earlier on, the Sage had helped Al move the beehive. It must have been extremely heavy as it’s full of honey to keep them through the winter. A couple of days ago, when it was warm (for November) and sunny, the bees were very active, but none of them came out today, rather to the Sage’s relief. It was the limit of his courage, lifting the beehive unprotected from possible stings.

Off to help with a music lesson this morning. I haven’t been able to go for several weeks, so all the pupils will be way ahead of me.

Oh. I seem to have an Adolescent Zit on my chin. What’s all that about then?

We don’t sing Jerusalem

In case you’d prefer not to read about the tribulations of Khan and my mother’s death, an extra post Just For You.

Al asked me if I could provide 12 globe artichokes for a customer. I was very pleased. What discerning taste, I thought, to serve artichokes for her party. “She’s planning to dry and spray them for decoration,” he said lugubriously. I was affronted. What a waste! We’ve sold them to her though. Her call. Another customer has asked for 20 butternut squashes. The variety I grew this year had lots of little fruit, which is quite good as the ones the wholesaler sends are very large. I just hope this customer is going to cook them and not display them as gourds.

WI was extremely jolly and all the food was eaten. Ro was very helpful and decorated all the cakes, chocolate and meringues. A disc of chocolate makes a very good base, by the way; in this case for spoonsful of chocolate mousse, but you could use other things, such as half a walnut, some fruit purée or mousse or some coffee cream, for example. Extremely gratifying were the cries of “You’re so thin!” which I was greeted with – I haven’t been much this year and it’s in the next village so not many people have seen me.

By the way, we don’t sing Jerusalem. Yes, most WIs do. We don’t.

You might remember, some weeks ago, I mentioned that a rather large valuation is in the offing for us, though we’ll be doing it at a reduced price because we’re nice that way. We’ve now discovered that the organisation (the collection is not in private hands) has lost the inventory. It will be a huge amount of work. We’re not thrilled – it’s not the work but the complete inefficiency that gets us. Well, me. The Sage hasn’t said much, because he’s patient.

Today, I’m off to visit my girlies, Weeza and Zerlina.

Saga Khantinued

I arrived home to find the nurse with my mother, who had decided to get up. After she’d left, I phoned Weeza, but then couldn’t speak. She was anxiously asking me what had happened and I was too choked to say a word. Eventually, I explained and she offered to come up. I politely demurred, she asked if I’d like her to and I said “Yes please”. She was on the next train.

Afterwards, she thanked me for that. “You never ask” she said. I hadn’t realised I took independence to a shutting-out stage and took note for the future (never offer me help unless you mean it darlings, as I now accept all offers going).

The Sage stayed with my mother while I drove to the station and she was drowsy but awake when we returned and she was able to greet and kiss us. Then she went to sleep and didn’t wake again, but died in the early hours of the next morning. It was a lovely and merciful death, so quickly after becoming ill, in her own bed. A shock, as the doctor had told me she would last a week or two, and so I had put my sister off rushing up and she was due the next morning. I had to ring and tell her.

For my part, I’d done my grieving six months before and now I felt that I’d done what I said I would and was glad I’d been able to. The one good thing about Khan’s accident was that he wasn’t there to be upset. I did get a bit OTT over the food for her funeral though, and was found cooking at 5 in the morning, suddenly anxious that there wouldn’t be enough.

A week or so later, I went back to fetch him home. He had a metal plate bolted through his lower leg, as a plaster would be too heavy and he was to be encouraged to walk on the leg (he didn’t though, for weeks). I had to bathe it twice a day – if it had been infected it would have meant amputation.

It didn’t, all went well, and his recovery was steady. It cost a fortune, I forget how much but I think it was in the region of £3,000, plus our own vet’s bills, but we were covered for everything except the first £50. The most worrying thing was when the metal plate was taken off – the bone was still not completely strong, especially where the bolts had been removed, and I was afraid he’d break it again.

Khan lived with us, of course, and he was fine. I’m afraid I made him sleep in the porch, though. His housetraining was still unreliable and his stomach sensitive and it was safer that way.

By this time, the other problems I was involved with (not family ones) were getting sorted out and although my family were still anxious about me (I think I was a bit hyper-everything and had been so long that I thought it was normal). The next January, Weeza took me to India with her to her friend’s wedding (the sister of the girl whose wedding I went to in August). After a hectic and exciting week in Madras, we flew to Kerala (the south-west corner of India, just below Goa) and spent a wonderfully relaxing week. I’d never lounged by a swimming pool on a holiday before! We had a cruise on the beautiful backwaters, rode an elephant and ate, drank and read. My reading went into overdrive that week – one day, I read five books. I ran out of books, though the lovely hotel we stayed in for a few of those days had a plentiful supply, and I went shopping. I bought Lord of the Rings and read it, all three volumes-worth, in two days. That holiday started to heal me. It had been a difficult 15 years.

The next year, I visited India again, this time with my sister, leaving the three dogs with the Sage as usual.