Monthly Archives: February 2009


I had quite a bit to do this morning, so of course I’ve spent most of it faffing about. I did a bit of casual tidying in the drawing room, which consisted simply of chucking out a build-up of several days’ papers. Naturally, ten minutes later the Sage came in asking for yesterday’s paper. I directed him towards the bin. Fortunately, I’d been too lazy to go out to the green wheelie bin, so it was still in the kitchen bin. One of the four kitchen bins, that is.

Next, I’ll have to go shopping for food, since all I have is unacceptable meat. This is, of course, a Good Thing as it’ll get me on my bike. This morning, unsure as to whether the lifts in my shoes are quite right, I stood with my back to the Sage, first with my weight equally on both feet, then slightly to my left, then to the right and asked him when my spine was straightest. He had little notion but suggested the right. I did the same with Ro, who also didn’t know but said the same. I took out one millimetre strip and tried again. They both became uncertain. I wasn’t though, it was right. I’d known it wasn’t, but by so little that I couldn’t even tell whether to go up or down. So now I know, I’ve lost 8mm-worth of right leg length – which is the 0.3″ that the physiotherapist had originally measured with the improvised ‘stand on appointment book and telephone directory’ method.

Anyway, shopping. Would you consider that work or play? The ever fine and splendid Diamond Geezer divides his life into Work, Play, Rest or Travel, and he counts Play as anything that doesn’t come into the other categories. He points out that, as a single childless man, he doesn’t have obligations, and I agree with him that that’s what makes the difference. After all, when shopping for food I buy things I’m not going to eat, I cook meals I probably wouldn’t bother to for myself, I’m the only one who cleans the bath and I tidy up after other people, so I think of all those as part of my job. I don’t have a paid job – that is, I do in the sense that I’m the Sage’s business partner, but I don’t receive a pay slip and my income from it is a line on my tax return – so to me, housework, gardening, shopping, voluntary activities, all count as more-or-less work. On the other hand, I enjoy a lot of it, as I do working on our business with the Sage. I don’t think I could possibly separate my life into categories, however general, without making notes as I go along.

Though come to that, how many of us can? A lot of people blog from work (not DG of course) or at least read blogs or surf the net. I do myself; when I’ve spent an hour typing I relax (and reward myself) by reading the paper, a book, or online. If I were in an office where this was permitted, could I still call it work as it’s in office hours? I don’t need to make this distinction of course, because if I waste time it’s my own, I’m not being paid for it.

So there’s the difference and the similarity between DG and me. He is happily unencumbered by family, so once he’s finished work his time is his own. Whether he buys his food and other necessities, cleans the loo, goes to the pub, reads or does anything else, he does it, at any given moment, by choice, so he counts it as Play. I am happily encumbered by family and don’t have an employer so, whereas I have various obligations and a pretty full diary, I can juggle my days pretty well as I wish. However, since much of what I do in those days does involve obligations, willingly taken on for no pay, I call them Work.

I think I’m tailing away without a proper conclusion here. I should be one of those fine bloggers who works out what they’re going to say in advance, and does drafts and all that. Instead, I waffle on and then have the cheek to say I’m being spontaneous. Still, Dave says that no one reads blogs on a Saturday, so maybe I’ll get away with it.

Quid pro quo

Excuse me going on a bit here, but this equates to more than half of my income and so it rather matters to me – the agent rang today with an offer from a potential tenant; a bit less than I am receiving (oh, strike that, should be receiving if ever the dear chap pays his rent, which I trust I’ll have good news about shortly *sigh*) but that would mean I have no period of vacancy at all, so it’s worth a small concession in this period of “negative growth”. So I’ve said yes, and if all goes well I’ll get an agreement to sign by email tomorrow.

Weeza has taken over my job with the Sage rather, which is lovely as she’s enjoying it and they get on so well together, so it’s great to see them having a good time with planning the next sale. She’s finding out how much she didn’t realise she knew about the china and that’s good too, so I’m happy to stay in the background. I like working with the china too, but it’s not that much of a sacrifice when I see them working so well together. I’ll probably still take the photos, unless she wants to, and we’ll do the condition report together as I’m pretty good at spotting flaws (being hardened and cynical and all that) and, well, she’ll become so good at it that she can take over from me altogether next time, unless she gets a proper job or something. She’s not wanting to go back to her old one; not that she didn’t like it, but Norfolk and Mayfair don’t make for simple daily commuting, not if you want to see your baby awake. Still, that’s a decision to be made.

I was seen cycling up the High School hill the other day which is good, because I walked most of it today.

The Sage asked me if I’d got a drink. “I had one” I said, “my glass and the bottle are in the other room.” A few minutes later, he appeared with the refilled glass. “I wouldn’t want you to be without a drink,” he said, lovingly kissing me. “This is because I’m cooking steak, right?” I asked. He agreed. That’s fine with me. Expressions of love – steak for me to him, wine for him to me.

And I bought pork for the weekend before remembering that Zain, who is Muslim, is coming over. Whoops. Mind you, he prefers to stick to Halal meat, so I usually cook veggie when he’s here, so it doesn’t matter as long as the pork is well wrapped. Ro has already amusedly told him that I bought it, so I don’t need to worry about being tactless.

“Do you spell your name with a Z or an S?” asked Weeza of Squiffany, knowing the answer. Squiffany explained how to spell her name, saying the letters she knows and describing the ones she couldn’t name with a pointing finger. It’s quite good, she knows them all in order. And it’s with a Z, as she knew.

Z asks pertinent questions

I hadn’t given my tenant notice that I was calling – I should have, and I would have normally but the rent was unpaid for this month and I felt that if he’d broken the tenancy I wasn’t under an obligation to observe all the normal courtesies. I rang the bell and he answered the door as he was working from home. The living room is set up as an office so I wasn’t surprised (although he shouldn’t really). Anyway, I introduced myself, we shook hands and I asked if it’d be all right to read the meters, which was fine with him. Afterwards, I went upstairs and he told me that three of the lights hadn’t worked for the last couple of weeks. That was obviously a switch that had tripped, so I rang Weeza to find out where the fuse box was. Oh right, in plain view. We reset the switch, laughed about it and then I asked when he’d be leaving the flat and what about the unpaid rent?

Well, the explanation he gave was not unfeasible if you’re used to young people, some of whom are astonishingly irresponsible, and when he showed me the stack of unopened mail I was inclined to believe him. I explained what I wanted, what could happen and whom he should contact, and we talked about how clean and tidy he’d leave the flat. When I got home last night, I emailed the person he was to contact, this morning I also sent him the additional phone number I’d (this is remarkably sensible for me) thought to ask for, and apparently he will send payment for two months quam celerrime, or tout de suite if you prefer.

Feeling things had gone well, I toddled along to the agents’ office, had a chat with the chap dealing with finding a new tenant and thought about lunch. I wandered around for a bit, but what I really fancied – a cold glass of chilled white wine and a proper sandwich with crusty bread – wasn’t on apparent offer where I looked, and then I remembered that among the unopened mail was a letter for the downstairs tenant and I’d forgotten to deliver it. So I went back to the flats. And then I thought I might as well call in the pub next door, so I had a pint and a packet of Twiglets for my lunch, as it was a bit late to be reasonable to ask for real food; it being about 20 to 3. I told them the tenant would be leaving in a month but obviously I didn’t mention the rest.

Then I caught the bus to Trafalgar Square – well, actually, I walked from Shaftesbury Avenue. I must say, I got on well with the walking pole. It was a real help some of the time to have some extra support.

The exhibition was reasonably busy without being crowded, and it was brilliant. I really enjoyed it. One might think that £12 entry was enough without £3.50 for an audio guide, but unless you know a lot about Picasso, I’d recommend forking out the extra. Anyway, what’s the value of the paintings there? How many millions or hundreds of millions? All in six rooms with you being close enough to touch – not that you would of course. I finally toddled out not long before closing time of 6 o’clock, took a bus from Charing Cross and had time to kill at the station. I bought food and drink at M&S – a salmon and cucumber sandwich, some parsnip crisps and a bottle of water (it was heavily discounted, all for £2, which shows how keen they all are to get our custom now), a small bottle of wine and a large pack of carrot sticks. I read my book and the paper and ate the carrot, crisps and drank the water while waiting and ate the sandwiches and drank the wine on the train. I didn’t tell the Sage how little I’d eaten all day as he’d wanted me to have a lovely meal out, but it’s not the same on your own, is it?

The Sage was waiting on the platform and drove me home, I made coffee, read and wrote emails and comments and was in bed soon after midnight. Today, I took Squiffany to nursery school, looked after Pugsley and entertained Zerlina (her mother is entertaining enough in her own right).

This morning, my new heel lifts arrived in the post. You can adjust them from 1mm to 12mm by degrees of 1 mm. I’ve got in 9mm at present. When I first put the lift in and walked across the room, Weeza said “you’re walking straight and not limping for the first time in ages.” I’m going back for more lovely ultrasound tomorrow, I’ll see if he thinks I’ve got it right or whether I need to go up or down a bit.

Our television, which we can’t remember how long we’ve had but must be at least 12 years, is starting to go on the blink a bit. I’ve said to Ro that if the promised rent comes through I’ll buy the new one of his choice. He is very happy.

She’s off!

I haven’t forgotten the film but I haven’t put it on the computer yet and it’s late and I’m tired. But I’ve got a picture for you, which Phil just sent me. Hot off the hotmail, as it were.

The title of the post is the title of his email, which he sent to me and his mum, tactful boy.

A very good day in London and I’ll tell you about it tomorrow. I’ve just got to write a couple of emails now and after that I’m going to bed. Night night darlings.

Weeza and Zerlina visit the old folk

Weeza and Zerlina are here today. I’ve got a little film to put up later, don’t let me forget…

In the end, I decided to go to London a bit later in the day and come home later, so I’ll arrive about 1 pm and leave at 8. After I’ve been to the flat I’ll get a bus to Trafalgar Square and, if the queue isn’t too awful (or tickets sold out), I’ll go to the Picasso exhibition which starts tomorrow, fortuitously. I’m going to the Byzantium and Palladio exhibitions at the Royal Academy next week (which have had lacklustre reviews but let’s see; I’ve booked, anyway) so I may be a bit cultured-out after that for a while.

I strode around a bit with both poles, to demonstrate to Weeza, and it has to be admitted that that’s the way to use them. They were very comfortable, even if I did feel like a complete tit. Not for town, I’m afraid.

I’ve also ordered some inserts for shoes – these ones – which just lift the heel so shouldn’t interfere with the fit of most shoes. I hope, anyway. I’ve been most awfully good today, cycled to the pool and back, floundered ungracefully in it for three-quarters of an hour and will bike in to the high school for a meeting again in half an hour. I will be knackered by the end of it. I had an extra banana mid-morning to keep up my spirits. I don’t know what we’re having for dinner tonight, I have a fairly empty fridge. Hm. I think the freezer will be investigated, unless I make risotto. Hm.

Anyway, I won’t labour the point as I don’t want to sound entirely pathetic, but I will be about, free and thirsty, in the early evening tomorrow, somewhere between Trafalgar Square and Liverpool Street Station. I’ll be the one with the walking pole, trying not to look as if I feel really stupid.

I’ve lent Weeza my copy of my favourite Madhur Jaffrey Indian cookery book. And her childhood memoirs, which are delightful. I bought the cook book, some time ago, because I loved the memoirs so much.

Z has odd legs

Which I don’t suppose you’re surprised to learn. Nor was I, actually. I was going to ask if my walking could be improved. He measured me – there’s the length of the bones and then the apparent length, which is influenced by such things as curvature of the spine, the ligaments, worn cartilage and such things. My bones are the same but my right leg is about a centimetre shorter than my left, which is not enough to need one’s shoe built up but he recommends an insole. Great. Now none of my shoes will fit.

I can see that for when I’m going to walk far, I’ll have to wear highly suitable (can’t help equating that with ‘unflattering’) footwear, but when I want to wear something pretty, I think I might get away with a thin insole and getting an extra sole and heel put on each right shoe when I buy a new pair. That should help, shouldn’t it? I asked if the arthritis has caused the imbalance or the odd legs has given rise to the arthritis, and he says it’s likely to be the former, and that dealing with the effects early should help slow down the deterioration. So it’s been highly sensible of me (how unusual is that?) to do something about it.

Anyway, I’m going back on Friday for more ultrasound. And I have picked up a leaflet with times of the aquacise sessions. There is one tomorrow morning. I wonder if I’ll go. As last night, with my work/read/bed decision, I’m led by my whims and the decision itself is only part of it.

You’re all agog, of course, to know what I did last night. Before I went to bed that is, for none of you would let thoughts stray to such distinctly personal matters as how long I read before turning the light out, for instance. Anyway, the newspaper went unread and I got started on the reports. Quite a lot still to do, but it’s starting that’s the hardest part, forming the initial phrases. After that, you get into it and the words flow.

Oh, and I cycled all the way up all the hills. Well, both the hills (that’s Bridge Street and up to the swimming pool, Badgerdaddy). But I couldn’t have done it a week ago when it was cold (and my bike tyres were a bit flat, come to that!). So the spirit of bloody-mindedness is flowing richly through my veins.

Z may get wet and isn’t too happy at the prospect

Back to the physiotherapist in the morning. Afterwards, I’m going to – oh dear, now I’m telling you I’ll have to – going to go along to the swimming pool to enquire about – ewch – aquacise classes. Apparently they’re on Tuesday mornings and one evening and they are either shallow or deep water – with the deep water ones it’s more energetic, apparently, and you have to book as the numbers are limited. I can’t tell you how much I dislike the idea – both with being out of my depth and doing anything that smacks of a class. Still, as you know I have an iron will and no end of determination *cough, cough, cough*. No, the fact is that I haven’t been to the pool for ages and I know it will be good for me and I need something in the nature of an appointment to force myself into it. Fortunately, I’m genuinely and unavoidably busy at least 2 Tuesdays of every month. 3 in March.

Now, it’s 10.55pm. I’m going to start doing the report I’ve been putting off for the last 3 weeks, read the papers or go to bed. At this moment, I’m genuinely unsure which I’m going to do. What do you think?

A out-of-season photo

A picture of my house for Diane in Wyoming – the wisteria is fabulous in May if we don’t get a late frost when it’s in bud. And yes, there are brambles growing through the shrub in the foreground. We don’t keep a tidy garden.

You may have seen this before, but Diane is a relatively new friend so she hasn’t.

The two tall chimneys on the right (they are about 6 feet tall) are Victorian, but the joined-together ones to the left of the photo are Tudor.

Springy thoughts continue unabated. Huzzah!

A week or so ago, I had occasion to alter the alarm clock and I changed the hours back but not the minutes, which means it presently goes off (that is, the radio comes on) 15 minutes later than it did. Of course, the Sage and/or I generally wake up at the earlier time, even though the radio often didn’t wake us for a while in the past. Anyway, this morning, the Sage got up and I fell asleep again just before the radio came on and woke up after it had gone off again an hour later. So I hope there hasn’t been any news that everyone (but Everyone) is talking about, because I haven’t heard it.

I went off to Norwich to have coffee with the other people who are going on the visit to Bologna in April. This was a very pleasant hour, but I’m a bit startled to have apparently agreed to book opera tickets online for about 8 of us. I offered for one person who doesn’t have a computer and was overheard by another and the next thing was there was an orderly queue. Booking doesn’t open until a month before, so I’ll have to do an alarm thingy or else I’ll forget all about it.

As we were saying ‘goodbye’ to each other, two people said they were going to the Castle Museum to see a sculpture exhibition – Hepworth, Moore and Nicholson, mostly. Being rather keen on this sort of thing (and having visited both Moore’s and Hepworth’s gardens, where there are permanent exhibitions of their works, in the last couple of years) I said I must be sure of going to it, so they suggested I join them. And so I did, which was an unexpected little treat. We had lunch afterwards – an excellent home-made quiche and salad for £3.50 and a tumbler of orange juice for 80p which I thought was good value.
Then I went and bought a postcard for Martina in Seattle (xx, Martina) and a jigsaw for Ro, who likes them, as do I, and as I still had a bit of time in hand on the car park, I went to a discount bookshop and bought several books for me and the children, which is all splendid.

So, when the Sage got a phone call from a friend and asked me, afterwards, how far it is to Falmouth in Cornwall (over 400 miles I’m afraid) I was all cheerful and made helpful suggestions, such as couldn’t they meet halfway (which is just about where my sister lives) and how about he posts a few of the items from the collection of antiques the Sage is interested in buying, so that he can evaluate them? So he is going to ring back after the rugby. The friend is watching the rugby, not us. I didn’t know there was a match on this afternoon. I know Norwich is playing at home though. I drove up Carrow Road just after 2 o’clock and all these cheerily hopeful Canary-watchers in their green and yellow scarves and shirts were converging on the football ground. I don’t know who they are playing (actually, it’s quarter to five now and the match must be just finishing) as I didn’t see anyone wearing a different colour. I spotted two people I know, a father and his 16-year-old daughter. I may see them tomorrow in church (yes, she and her sister are teenagers who choose to come with their parents to church and look remarkably happy about it) so I’ll have to find out the result, to know whether to mention it or not.

Ro (who is v pleased with his jigsaw and gave me a hug) has had an appeal for money from his university. “I only joined their alumni thing because the keyring was quite nice”, he said. “I bet Zain will give, though, he’s remarkably generous.”

I put that in in case Zain is reading. Hi, Z.

Great great news

It’s all lovely and springlike suddenly. All sorts of flowers in bloom, the sun shining, chickens laying lots of eggs, all that sort of thing. Kenny called round to see the children – he used to be our gardener (he called himself the OJB – Odd Job Boy) for many years, only giving up in his mid-eighties. I think he’ll be 89 this June and he doesn’t get about too well now because he’s got bad back trouble. He’s in good health but in constant pain, which he’ll only admit to if asked specifically. Ro was a baby when we first knew him. He told us that his great-granddaughter, who’s in her early 20s, is expecting her first baby later in the year. Gosh. Isn’t that amazing? I only knew one of my grandparents, who lived a long way away and didn’t, as a child, realise what I missed. To have so many generations living within a few miles of each other is something to be treasured. Not that it’s a huge family; Kenny and Muriel had two children, only one of whom had two children, only one of whom had two children so they’re not responsible for a population explosion, even over several decades.