Monthly Archives: January 2009

Athletic? Hah. In no sense am I athletic

Cheers, LOM

What Your Taste in Music Says About You

Your musical tastes are intense and rebellious.

You are intelligent… but in a very unconventional way.

You are curious about the world. You love doing something new.

In fact, you enjoy taking risks and doing things most people would shy away from.

You are very physical. It’s likely that you’re athletic, but not into team sports.

You have the soul of an artist. Beauty and harmony are important to you.

I wouldn’t willingly go to any of those concerts, mind you. And I’m conventional, but not because I have to conform

Z goes to skool

Oh blimey, it’s all getting too busy. I’m just keeping the plates spinning, but some of them have wobbled alarmingly once or twice and I’m having to grovel a bit because I’m not giving people as much notice of things as I’d like.

Today, I spent the first part of the morning liaising with people for a meeting on Friday, including one person who should have been included from the start but wasn’t – fortunately, he’s free to come to it. Then I went off for another meeting, with Dilly. I have to write up the notes for that. Then I started off to the school to get some printing done which I thought had already been done, remembered on the way that I had a hair appointment, was just in time for that, went to the school, remembered another person I should have told about the meeting as she will book the room, saw her and she did it (bless her) and came home for lunch at 2 o’clock.

Oh, as I was coming out of a side door of the school I was accosted by a charming silver-haired man who asked me where the main door was, as he’d come to pick up his grandson who was ill. I started to lead him there, but he assured me he could manage, so I pointed it out and got in my car. As I drove away, I saw him walk past the door and carry on down the path the wrong way. I drove to the other end of the path, headed him off and took him to the office, chatting in my best PAish sort of manner. I introduced him to the office staff and turned to go, he thanked me and I was quite surprised to be warmly kissed on the cheek. Isn’t that nice?

Anyway, I scrambled eggs, took a lovely shiny plate from the dishwasher (I’d become accustomed to having to check everything carefully in case it hadn’t been washed properly) and brought lunch in. I ate it and read a couple of blogs. Yes, I eat in front of the computer. I know, you wouldn’t think it to look at me, would you?

The phone rang and the Sage picked up. “Oh, she went out, I’m not sure if she’s back yet,” he said. I wondered why someone was ringing here for Dilly. “She went to the High School, maybe you’ll find her around” he carried on. “Hang on, I’m here!” said I. It was a school staff member, needing to arrange another meeting. She and I giggled about the Sage’s inattention – he and I had had a conversation while I was cooking my lunch and he was sitting in a chair 3 or 4 yards from me and right opposite.

Anyway, the Sage, for he’s a darling really, has taken my car to fill it with petrol and check the tyres ready for my drive to the Big City, or at least the N1 part of it, tomorrow.

Resolutions won’t keep themselves

The Sage, as you probably know by now, is a pensioner. He refuses to have his state pension paid into the bank as he likes to feel the crisp notes in his hand, having paid for them many times over through the years. He fetches it every fortnight so that there’s a decent amount to share – he’s a fair man and he splits it with me. Today he came in clutching a larger bundle than usual.

“I was given an extra £50” he said. “What for?” “I don’t know.” “Maybe Gordon wants you to like him so you’ll vote for him?” “Hmm”. Anyway, I’ve an extra £25 to play with. Whoopee!

Today, I was hurrying around getting ready to go out when I realised I had to print out a sheet of names. The paper went in askew and jammed, so I took it out, straightened the rest, tried again, it did the same. I fed in a single sheet and it printed, so I grabbed the paper and left. Later, I had more printing to do. It said there was paper blocking it, but nothing I could see. I peered into the machine, using a torch. I swore, I grumbled, what more can a woman do? Well, turn it upside down and shake. Nothing fell out, but it’s worked since then.

I’ve bought some music (well, sent for it), in line with my Resolutions. Gordie suggested Satie, some of whose music I have, or Part, whose I haven’t, and Ad suggested Tallis. They have all been mentally marked and thank you, but on this occasion I have randomly picked Mahler and Shostakovich, as I’m woefully ignorant of much of their music and that’s a rather large gap. It’s a bit shaming that the only Mahler I know is the background music to Death in Venice and that I’ve only been to one Shostakovich concert, where I learned that at one time, unpopular with the Soviet authorities, he used to wait on the landing outside his flat every night so that, if he was arrested as he was sure he would be, his children would not be frightened.

The scarf is half the length it will be. And as for poetry, I think I’ll start with something shortish.

This, for instance?
The Long-Nosed Fair

Once on a time I fair Dorinda kiss’d,
Whose nose was too distinguish’d to be miss’d;
My dear, says I, I fain would kiss you closer,
But tho’ your lips say aye–your nose says, no, Sir.–
The maid was equally to fun inclin’d,
And plac’d her lovely lily-hand behind;
Here, swain, she cry’d, may’st thou securely kiss,
Where there’s no nose to interrupt thy bliss.

Sun day

It was the most beautiful sunrise this morning, and if only I hadn’t been running a few minutes late I’d have gone back for my camera and now I’d be able to show it to you. Sorry. Someone had a picture – I think it was Simon. Hang on, I’ll look. Yep, here it is. If anything, it was even more spectacular than that at the time I looked and it spread all over the eastern sky.

Weeza and I are going to London on Wednesday. This is not a jaunt, but apparently my tenant’s central heating isn’t working, although the boiler is. Weeza thinks it’s probably something simple that she can fix, so we’re driving up. It’ll be quicker and far cheaper than going by train at the time we need to. Isn’t that daft? We should get there by 11, hope to do the job quickly and wait to make sure it’s put things right. If not, I’ll then have to find a plumber and make arrangements for him to get hold of a key. It’s not that easy to get hold of the tenant as he emails, then doesn’t reply to the answering email. He’s abroad a lot on business so it’s not a disaster for him that the heating’s been off in the cold snap. I’ll check the downstairs heating system at the same time. I’ve a meeting in the evening, so we’ll have lunch and get back immediately after, before the traffic builds up. Zerlina will be with us of course.

They cooked us a lovely lunch today, roast pork (mm, crackling), roast potatoes, parsnip, leeks, red cabbage. My foot still tingles but, although different, it’s no worse than other bits that hurt and I’m used to ignoring that. It’s been much less cold and very sunny. I haven’t been out this evening to see if it’s getting frosty and I think I’ll let it be a surprise in the morning.

Z has Cold Feet

My stint as a shopkeeper is over and I even did the week’s accounts, counted the money and took it next door in a stout cloth bag.

Mind you, today was the coldest yet. I woke up before the radio alarm came on feeling warm, so I assumed the temperature had gone up during the night. I woke the Sage for a cuddle, as I’d been asleep before he got into bed the night before and then got up, dressed, gave Tilly her breakfast and prepared mine, took it through to eat while I was reading emails, put in my contact lens and was putting on my brave morning face out of various little pots when I glanced out of the window. I was surprised at the beauty of the frosty tree outside. Everything was white and I’d spent half an hour not noticing.

It wasn’t until I went out that I noticed it had been snowing and there was a hard frost.

The sun came out later, but the temperature didn’t rise to freezing point and as the morning went on it became more windy and icier. I let Alice have one of the hot water bottles. She hugged it gratefully.

When the Sage came to pick me up, he came with me to the church to set things up for tomorrow’s service at 8am. I have to be there at 7.30 to finish getting ready.

Later, after I’d done my slow and careful adding up, we went through for dinner, which was lasagne and salad, then fruit pie and custard.

I’m going to bed early.

Oh, and I think I’ve got chilblains. I’m not quite sure, as I’ve never had them before, and when I’m undressed I always have my contact lens out so my toes are rather a long way away to see. But it feels like the description of chilblains.

Z is Fine, you hear?

They’re all safely home and had a good time. We have been invited in for tea tomorrow, as well as to lunch with Weeza and Phil on Sunday. Woo-hoo indeed. Splendid.

Did I mention that Al accepted my offer to go into the shop tomorrow? That’s fine, I’m more than willing of course.

Mind you, I had brought home my hottie.

Still got the order to phone through tonight. I’m flagging a bit, but only temporarily, I suppose a fourth glass of wine would be a bad idea. Whisky? Okay, I’ll make coffee.

A busy day today – the money in the till didn’t seem to say that, but I think it will once I’ve allowed for Tim’s wages. He and I look after each other. He takes all heavy things away from me and I get us both cups of soup (carrot and coriander today) from the bakery. They make it first thing and let it cook in slow cookers all morning for lunch customers.

I’m a bit dozy tonight, as I haven’t been sleeping much. I woke this morning thinking it was Sunday and I had to be in church by 7.30. Thank goodness I realised in time. I would have been distinctly fed up if I’d buggered down the road and waited for a congregation. I’d already startled the Sage and myself by turning the light on because I woke thinking (sorry, this is a bit awful and I can’t remember the dream that set it off) that I could see blood pouring all over the radio, I think I get a bit carried away sometime.

I’m fine. What? No, I’m fine.

Z rambles, with brain disengaged

I had to drive in today, as I had Meals on Wheels to deliver at 11.45. There was a ground frost, but no air frost. However, as the day went on it felt colder and colder. I was chilly through a wool polo-neck, a wool jacket and a padded anorak. I wore thick tights under my trousers, so looked thick and clumsy and I didn’t care. I also had a scarf wound twice round my neck.

Tim and I were not busy. We looked out at the market stall and were cheered to see no queue. They weren’t doing any better than we were. Matt the fishmonger looked glum and had his scarf pulled up over his nose – I think working among fruit and veg is hard, but he’s surrounded by ice and can’t even wear fingerless gloves. I went and bought fish, including smoked eel – YAY – one of my remembrances of childhood, when we had Dutch au pairs who brought back that and other delicacies. I was only 5 when I first tasted it – who needs a madeleine?

I bought, from the chemist, a new hot water bottle for Al. I bought lamb chops and bacon from the butcher. Tim made coffee. I didn’t remind him that I drink coffee black, as I quite felt like the added richness and sustenance of milk.

I delivered Meals on Wheels. One customer is failing in health and I don’t think he’ll cope alone, although he has good family support, for much longer. There were two new customers who have been friends for years, and it was lovely to see them. I noticed that my front nearside tyre (the car’s tyre, darlings, I’m speaking colloquially) was only half inflated. I drove slowly.

When Tim left, I filled my hot water bottle. Not long afterwards, I filled Al’s new one too. It felt very cold. The foggy air wafted in through the open door into the unheated shop. I ate my ham and salad roll and drank a cup of spiced tea. I wondered why I had resisted any impulse (it was only a thought really) to buy a cake, as if one had been there i would have eaten it. I ate a pear, having cut out a bad spot, instead. I refilled the hotties. I knitted a few rows. Having remembered to bring the second ball of wool, I reflected that it would have been a good idea if I’d looked out how to join two balls of wool together.

The afternoon became quite busy, better than the morning. I did have time to put up most of a big order for first thing tomorrow. I limped heavily as I brought everything indoors. My hip is as bad as when I went to the doctor last October. It’s the weather. Sod the bloody hip, I am not ready to be evaluated and x-rayed (should it be an X, BW?) I will, at any rate, have lost weight after this week and be well on towards my doctor-imposed target. My trousers, size 12, hang on me. Hang on me, darlings. I have to cinch them in with a belt and they are still too long and flap around my thighs. Back to smaller jeans tomorrow.

When I’d driven home, I cycled down to the church to check things out. The outer, mesh, porch door was opened. The next door, centuries-old oak, was fastened open. The inner door was closed. I took my bike light in with me, instead of going in in the dark, but there was nothing unexpected there. My note had gone, but the Fellow had been in to remove the Christmas tree so maybe he’d done that. I checked that the brass candlesticks I’ve lent were still there and they were. I came home, where the Sage had made me a cup of Rose Poopong tean.

Lamb chop for dinner. A Barnsley chop, with baked potato, curly kale, swede and (imported) courgette. My back aches, but I’m sitting up straight and I’ll lie on the floor for a bit. Darling Sage, having been to the dentist and the accountant (my income is bigger than the Sage’s right now, who’d’ve thunk it?) took my car to have the tyre pumped up. When I left the shop, it was half-way down again. Darling Sage will get it dealt with tomorrow. I have kissed him and been adorable. He was awfully pleased.

Warm hands, warm heart and some possible news on the Intruder

I went out of the house at 8.15 this morning, a bit later than I’d meant, but still in time, with my car keys in my hand. I had seen the heavy frost from the window and thought bbbbbbrrrrrrrrrrrr (actually, I forgot to move my finger and the shiver wasn’t as awful as that) and decided to drive. Howsomever, when I got outside I thought it wasn’t that cold and I got out my bike after all.

At about 10.30, I left Tim in charge and toddled off to the library, where I renewed my books, borrowed a new one about knitting and was on my way back, intending to make tracks towards a coffee shop, when I met a friend. She’s another fellow churchwarden, but of another church in the benefice, so rather than a Fellow I’ll call her a Bellow, although she is quietly spoken. Anyhoo, she invited me home for coffee, so I said ‘What Ho!’ and followed her.

And light may have been shown. Because, after general chit-chat and all, I told her and her husband, in confidence (which she merits completely – yeah, yeah, I know I’ve talked about this all on the interwebnet, but I can delete it you know, unless you use a feedreader or know what you’re doing, in which case I’m a bit fucked – about the mysterious turner-on of the church heating. And she wondered if it was *’Imself*. I didn’t know whom she meant (grammar) but when she described the man, who is always about on his bike, I did know. She has had occasion to wonder if he sleeps in her church. Things are slightly different from how she leaves them. She knows he’s in a lot during the day, and it doesn’t matter how early one visits in the morning, he bobs up from somewhere. The heating controls have sometimes been changed (access has been denied there now).

I had rather changed my mind from it being a vagrant when it had occurred to me that money left in the collection bowl had not been taken. I’m not at all sure that it’s the same person in our church, but I think it could well be a village person who thinks of the village church as part of his ‘territory’ and therefore his to sleep in if he wants. Imself has a home of his own and sufficient income to keep himself, but he’s eccentric. There are plenty of people like that around. An old lady called Vira L. used to live in this village and often would sleep in my in-law’s big wheelbarrow (which we were lucky enough to inherit, I put up a picture of it once. I might look it out), which she lined with leaves. She often left a banana skin as a calling card. Imself, or someone like him, can cope with life as long as he’s left alone, but he needs a lot of tolerance. This suggestion gells better with me than someone who is a true vagrant and homeless person. I can’t help feeling that the latter would leave possessions or something rather than carry everything around all day, giving a clue that someone had been there.

Anyway, after that, I went into the bakery for my lunchtime ham and salad roll in granary bread and was also tempted by their home-made soup. I bought a cupful each for me and Tim and took it back to the shop and we ate/drank it nummily between customers. After Tim left, I heated a kettleful of water and filled the hot water bottle I’d providently taken in. The thought had occurred to me yesterday, and was reinforced by Dandelion’s praise of her HWB, which reminded me to put mine in my bag. It was wonderful. I warmed my hands and knees, them tucked it between my knees, inside my coat against my chest, then between my feet, then, slipping my shoes off, under my feet. When I served a customer, I put it on my stool so that I could sit back down on a lovely warm stool. I giggled with happiness.

Tomorrow, I will have to drive in as I have to deliver Meals on Wheels at the end of the morning, and the Sage has the Annual Appointment with the Accountant. Fortunately, he will deal with my stuff as well as his.

Oh, and when I have a minute, I’ll go to the hot water bottle shop (would you think it would be the ironmonger or the haberdashery?) and buy one for Al. Because I think it would Transform his Life. I filled it three times during the afternoon, and a customer was tempted to steal it. His mother had to fight him for it.

Darlings, do I a favour

If you love me, please pop over to Julie and wish her a happy birthday. She just writes, she doesn’t look for new readers, but she’s a gorgeous person who writes wonderfully and, most vitally of all, introduced me to Okkervil River (yes, Dandelion, I do call them Overkill River because you are witty) and the Old 97’s. Oh, and Centromatic. And The Hold Steady. Et al, as they say in Dave’s neck of the woods. She knows a good beer and she shares her pond with beavers. And her house with rats, unfortunately, but even that is funny . Anyways, it’s her birthday. ‘Av (as they say) agudun, dear heart.

The Good Samaritan didn’t actually help the thief, you know

Right, thanks for your concern, and I love that you’re concerned mostly for the intruder. I am too.

First, our insurers, who specialise in church insurance, know that the church is unlocked night and day. We pay extra for it, but not extortionately – about 10% over a £2,000 (total cover) premium. You can get 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%, and it can be for a locked church, an ‘open during the day and locked overnight’ church or unlocked (if you’ll excuse the expression) 24/7. We’ve gone for the full monty. When our tables were stolen from our unlocked church room, they paid out without question, even though it would have been not unreasonable for them to quibble. They didn’t request that we locked the room either, though that would have been entirely reasonable.

Fire is a real anxiety in a church. There’s a lot of wood; the pews, the roof timbers, quite apart from a rood screen, a reredos, the pulpit and lectern, any soft furnishings which might be used to start a fire. If a fire started, by arson or an electrical fault, it might go for hours before being seen. The walls themselves might survive but immense damage will have been done and ancient churches are listed at the highest level. Repairs would have to be done by specialists to the original specifications and the whole restoration would be a huge job. The stone walls would still stand, but they would be filthy and cracked, and do you remember the fires at York Minster and Windsor Castle? Restoration is an immense task.

It cost us £2,220 to heat and light the church and church rooms last year. We’re not granted money, our regular congregation plus a trust fund (we’re lucky there) paid for that, the insurance, the annual quota to the diocese that pays for our rector, the rectory and to fund the rector’s retirement, as well as contribute to the cathedral’s expenses. Et cetera. I have the accounts before me; we spent £41,000 in total last year (including donations to charity in this country and abroad) and there was a shortfall, we had to dip into our reserves. Please don’t suggest that I’m unsympathetic to a homeless person, but heating that’s normally on for 5 hours a week to be, without my knowledge (it’s my responsibility as churchwarden) or permission, turned on every night for a total of anything from 50 to 100 hours a week can not be ignored. If someone came into your garden and drained the heating oil out of your tank, you’d call it theft. If someone tapped into your electricity supply and used ten times more than you did, but it went on your bill, you’d say he’d stolen it. As I said before, if he has worked out how to get into the extension where the heating controls are kept, he could go into another room which is heated to an acceptable overnight level (we don’t want pipes to freeze and it’s used several times a week) and we’d not know. If I wondered, I’d choose not to know.

Having said that, if I’d gone down tonight, as I did with the Fellow, and found a homeless person, I don’t believe you’d think we’d have turned him away. I’d have explained, offered him the church room for the night, taken him breakfast in the morning and then spent as much time as was needed in helping him. There are shelters for the homeless in Lowestoft and Norwich – I’d take him there, but a local man might not want to go. There is a village charity that could give money. The Fellow and I went along just before 7 pm, and no one was there. I have turned off the boiler in the boiler house and he can’t turn it on again. However, as we are both very concerned to think that someone might be cold tonight, I have left a note with my phone number. If he rings, I’ll do all I possibly can to help, short of letting him into my home. I don’t trust him, he’s a thief. The Good Samaritan helped a traveller who had fallen among thieves.

Oh, and Dave (the Fellow) and I had a chat. “Do we need to spread this around?” I said. “Well, who needs to know?” he replied. “If people knew, they would get worried and want to lock the church.” “I wouldn’t want to turn anyone away.”

So please, darlings, don’t spread it around, because we are praying for this man (a woman would be better placed to receive help). He’ll get help if he is able to stretch out his finger. I sort of don’t expect to know how this ends.