Monthly Archives: September 2009

Z gives an opportunity to go "Ahhh"

I thought you might like a picture of a cat. After all, most readers go all gooey at the sight of a cat photo and, although Dave doesn’t, Dave is not here.

Lowestoft made various animal: dogs, cats, swans, cygnets and sheep but they are mostly, apart from some standing dogs, fairly clunky – though the swan and cygnet get away with it – but the cats are lovely. You can hold it in your hand and feel the bones – the modeller had spend a lot of time stroking the factory cats. They are all cast from the same mould, although the positioning and the base has some slight variation, and they come in various catty colours. This is probably the least realistic colouration – when I first saw it I was a bit hmm but it has grown on me. Nevertheless, we won’t be bidding. All the same, no representative collection of Lowestoft china is really complete without a cat.

I put in an extra afternoon at a music lesson today as the teacher was going to be away part of the time and it’s quite demanding for one teaching assistant or non-music teacher. I was flattered to find she thought I’d be useful and pleased that she felt able to ask. It went well – I stuck to the piano/keyboard as, although I’m reasonably okay with drums I have no idea of guitars, and the piano part was quite tricky for groups of pupils if none of them could read music. I persuaded a couple of lads to have a go who hadn’t wanted to (and the other teacher hadn’t succeeded) so I felt pretty good about it. They were both absolutely fine and got it right after a few minutes, so I hope they felt a sense of achievement too.

I wanted to go to the exhibition at the Tate tomorrow, so I looked up the route – the Tube was suggested but there’s a change at Euston and the escalators aren’t working between lines. That’s no good, I can’t do all those stairs without hobbling for the rest of the day, and it’s a bit of a walk at the other end anyway, and then the exhibition as well as another one I want to visit if there’s time. So I checked a different route. Reduced escalator service at Green Park. No wonder I hate the London Underground. I don’t get claustrophobic or twitchy about bombs, it’s all the bloody walking. I looked up buses instead, but the site was fed up with me by then and wouldn’t work. So, you know, I can’t be bothered. Obviously, it isn’t a good idea to go direct from Islington to Pimlico. I’ll go to the British Museum instead.

Z has a high level of function

… according to the copy of the letter from the consultant to my GP, at any rate. I seem to have left him with the impression that I still want to pursue the option of hip resurfacing and that my doctor should expect me to go back to him, so I’ve just written to the doctor (no need to take up his time with a visit) saying that’s not so, that I’m happy with the advice given and thanking him for his own good advice. It’s not actually necessary to write, but don’t you think that we’re quicker to complain than to praise? Doctors must often only hear back if things go wrong, not when they clear up or the status quo accepted.

Tilly is lying on the chair next to me. Every time I looked up, she was gazing at me. To start with, I was quite pleased at the display of affection, but after a while I realised that this is not a Tillyish thing to do. Finally, it occurred to me that my breakfast yoghurt pot was on the table. I gave it to her to lick. She’s curled up facing the other way now. She was far too polite to look at it, but just hoped I’d look at her properly and read the message in her eyes. It was very subtle though, she’s such a trusting little dog and assumes my mastery of Dog is complete. It is fluent, but I’m not, of course, a native Dog speaker and occasionally the nuances don’t get through for a while.

Today, I’ve mostly been listening to music. With pleasing randomness, I started with Schumann lieder, moved on to Jimi Hendrix and then Ella Fitzgerald.

More importantly, it’s not only the birthday of Dave’s twin son and daughter, but also Pugsley’s third birthday. We’ve got him a farm set. Happy birthday, darling Pugsley

Z has time to spare

Well, I’ve signed the petition. Thanks to Ally for the link.

Several things have pleased me in the paper today – Libby Purves, in support of binding pre-nups, referring to marriage as “a good gig” for example, and I laughed most of the way through Caitlin Moran’s piece about what age to allow your children to do things such as swear, have a mobile phone, wear earrings and be informed that there are beaches in Normandy where the tide comes in faster than a galloping horse. I can’t find it online – maybe they put Times 2 things up later? Anyway, it demonstrates that I don’t have quite enough to do with my time today, as I have had time to read the paper. Both papers. I might even do the crossword later.

Of course, I could do a whole lot in the garden, which is a mess, or I could clean the house, in which most surfaces are covered in dust and I could tidy the house, which will just leave gaps in the dust or I could clean the windows, although that will just make the dust more visible. But it’s been rather enjoyable to read the papers on a Monday morning.

And, if you do find and read Caitlin’s article, I’d just like to mention that Ro, as a child, used to call me Swear Queen. With a certain mild disapproval.

PS – Martina has found the article and sent the link – here Thanks, Martina!


There were some 70 people in church today,more than the last few Harvest Festivals, so that was good. There was a short formal service first, then coffee, breakfast, newspapers and things for the children to do, and then an informal session in the church to finish up. What was particularly a pleasure to me was that there were all ages from small children, teenagers and adults right up to several wheelchair-bound ladies and a gentleman from the village old people’s home. It all made for a cheerful and friendly atmosphere and there were a lot of gifts brought for the village schoolchildren to take to the homes of retired people tomorrow (they are invited to ask for this and it’s a simple act of friendship). Of course, the children don’t go alone.

In the afternoon, Weeza and family, with Ro, came over, and so did Dilly’s parents and sister with her sons for Pugsley’s birthday party. He won’t be 3 until Tuesday and we’ll celebrate again then, but several of us will be at work or school then. Pugsley was happily excited and all the children were lovely together. Squiffany organised the boys, as girls do, but none of them minded. Dilly and Al had made a splendid Spiderman cake as well as Shrek’s swamp made mainly of green jelly and chocolate mousse.

The catalogue for our next sale is up on the website (link in the sidebar) though it’s not been proofread yet and I know there’s at least one correction to make. The cat near the end is the star lot.

Z empowers people

So. I’ve booked my train ticket for next Thursday. Frugally, I’ve got the cheapest deal I can which means I’m arriving in London at noon and catching the 8 o’clock train home. After doing what I need to, I’ll go to an exhibition, maybe two. Unless anyone is free in the afternoon or early evening? – I’d happily forsake culture for friendship; unless of course we wanted to arrange both.

The church looks lovely. I opened up (the church is always open, but the rooms built on aren’t) for people arriving early to decorate, and then went and raided Al’s shop for lots of fruit and vegetables. Then I went to the florist. First I chose a bunch of lovely deep red alstroemerias (Dave, I changed the order of the words to make that good English, as originally I’d started with ‘lovely’) and then I sort of gave up. “Please give me £15-worth of flowers to go with that for an arrangement” I said vaguely, and Susan grinned and did just that. Even better, later I asked Sally to arrange them. I’d already handed over my fruit and veg to other volunteers to put in baskets and whatever. My brain was still not quite in gear. I spent my time sticking down a tarpaulin on the carpet with gaffer tape because of the potato prints which will be made tomorrow, and helping to set out tables and chairs. Undemanding and useful, while others did the real work. I think that is a step ahead. I completely let go – I don’t actually find that hard normally but people don’t think it’s going to happen.

This afternoon, I cooked braised beef with onions and tomatoes, and served it with black kale (the only brassica I grew this year and, netted, it has mostly escaped the caterpillars and the birds) and mashed potato. I feel all proteined-up and really quite relaxed. Time to read the papers and cuddle a dog or a husband, whoever comes within my grasp first.

Z and the Sage were Alarmed

The day didn’t start well. I’d woken a couple of times in the night – the last couple of nights I’ve had a pillow in the bed to rest my leg on and give it some support; this works but then I turn over and my hip wakes me. However, I was pleasantly asleep and dreaming pleasantly when a burglar alarm went off. After a while, i realised it was ours. I got out of bed and peered out of the window. I didn’t know that the alarm, which was replaced a couple of years ago, had flashing lights. Quite impressive. “It’ll be a mouse,” remarked the Sage. “Mm, or a spider,” I agreed. I stomped into the bathroom for a robe and went downstairs and the Sage, not bothering with such a nicety, followed.

Of course, when it was time to get up I felt heavy and drowsy, but I did various jobs and left for school. Later, I went to the funeral of an elderly lady who had lived in the village for many years with her husband. She was large and heavy and suffered from diabetes and circulatory problems for some time, and for the last four years she had been afflicted with dementia. Her husband had looked after her lovingly. Back in February, when about to help her into bed, he felt unwell and realised he’d had a stroke. He still managed to get her to bed and the next morning got her breakfast. Then he called the doctor. Far too upsetting for her to have the drama of them both going to hospital in the middle of the night.

He made a good recovery, but had to admit that he couldn’t cope while he was convalescing, so she went into a local nursing home. Actually, when I had dinner with friends last weekend the other guests were the couple who own that place. Peter said that the care that Peggy received could not have been kinder or more supportive and, once she’d settled down, he was happy that she was in the best place, close enough for him to visit every afternoon. They were married about 60 years. At the funeral, one of their daughters gave the eulogy, lovingly and movingly – at the end there was applause which is something I haven’t come across before, but it was quite spontaneous.

There were lots of people there, and I’d already called on Peter at home and saw him again for a hug, so I didn’t go to the bunfight afterwards, but went to the newly-opened garden centre nearby – it’s only resited in fact, still under the same ownership. One of Al’s customers has taken on the cafe there – she already has a small bakery business and Al and Dilly always buy one of her cheesecakes for celebrations. I went to order lunch and we had a chat, and when she brought my food she said, apologetically, that she recognised but couldn’t place me. “I’m Alex’s mother”. “Of course, I knew I knew you.”

I love being able to introduce myself as *member of the family’s* mother or wife or granny and seeing someone’s face light up.

I still felt pretty stupid all day after the disturbed night; had a migraine this morning and had to search for names at the meeting this afternoon. I had a nap around 6 o’clock and am better now. Didn’t help that I aimed my contact lens at my eye and only realised an hour later when I wanted to look at something, that I’d evidently missed. I found it on my computer keyboard this afternoon. I wonder where my spares are. I’ve certainly got some.

Oh blimey – a programme about The Doors is on and I just caught myself singing along. Showing my age All Over Again.

Dull post. Sorry. If you got this far, my sympathy, but I don’t think it’ll get better with rewriting. Tomorrow, Z will be decorating the church for Harvest Festival which gives you something to look forward to. Heh.

Still watching the last few episodes of The Wire. I’m probably the last person in the country who is watching it not to have got to the end. Don’t tell me what happens.

Bringing on the wall, Day 30 – East is East and Z is Z …

… and the twain met. This was very cheering. We’ve done sections that met before, obviously, but this is the very first time that Dave has started at one end of the row and I have started at the other and we’ve carried on until there was just one brick separating us, at which point I went to get my camera and Dave slapped on the mortar.

Dave would like it to be pointed out that this part of the wall runs north to south so he doesn’t think the heading is accurate. I would like to point out that his surname is East and my name, here at any rate, is Z, so it is.

Here is Dave getting ready to lay that last brick. I’m the one at the start sounding like Boris Johnson (actually, Boris models himself on me, or so I’ve heard) and the Sage is the encouraging one at the end. The picture is of Dave.

And here are other photos of that brick, and of the wall as a whole.

And it really is a whole (yes, it has holes too) now, although there is still a course to lay before the top goes on. I thought it would be too tall for me today, but whereas from the kitchen garden side it comes up to my eyebrows, from the drive side it is hardly to my chin and still manageable. We have scaffold boards (and a Risk Assessment in place) for the final layers. I am tremendously excited; a few weeks ago Dave saw me lose my rag somewhat with the absent Sage (I had time to recover my temper before he arrived home) and today he saw me in excited mood.

When we’d finished, I went to make tea and while the kettle was boiling I took the plates, mugs and cake out on to the lawn. Three bantams came rushing hopefully to meet me. I was tremendously flattered as they usually only do that to the Sage. I had already planned to bring bread, so dumped everything on a convenient barbecue and went back to fetch it, and the tea. Dave, who is a Man of Steel, didn’t flinch once as, from a couple of feet away, I kept flinging handfuls of breadcrumbs to hopeful chickens. I did, at least, throw overarm and not like a girlie. One chicken, a charming 4-year-old, ate from my hand.

Today I received the bill from the heating engineer for the London boiler, the bill from the hospital for the x-ray and the bill from the consultant. The Sage received one eBay purchase, an email to say another had been posted and he’s already got his other two purchases. We’ve both spent about the same amount. I will revert to my practice of thinking of all money spent in terms of something not routine. Like, I want to buy a new fridge – that’s about a Lowestoft sparrowbeak jug. Or a computer – that’s a teapot in generally good order, if not in an exciting pattern. Going by that, the boiler cost a rather special teabowl and saucer and looking at my hip cost a Victorian vesta.

Actually, I was not dismayed by that bill. I told Al, when I’d posted off the cheque and phoned with my credit card for the x-ray. “That doesn’t seem too bad,” he said. “When I think what I paid the dentist this year, and what I paid the plumber.” I agreed.

Adding a video to a post takes ages, but at least I could type in the meantime, and now I’ve just got to insert the rest of the photos. Well, soon. It’s finished uploading and is now processing.

Ho hum. *Twiddles fingers*

We’ve had time to watch an eBay item finish and chuckle at the high price, especially in view of the fact that it was somewhat misdescribed as enamelled instead of a wrap-around. Buyer might be disappointed, we think.

Oh hooray. It took 35 minutes to upload that video.

Bringing on the wall, Day 29 – Pillar of the -um-wall

A short afternoon’s work today, and I wasn’t sorry, from my own point of view. I woke up at 3 am, couldn’t sleep again and eventually got up, and was stiff and achy all day. Still, Dave built to the top of the end pillar, except for the capping which we’ll do in one go next week and/or the week after.

A treat today, a little glimpse of the Man Himself in action. Here you are.


And a couple of photos –

Dave is due to come back tomorrow afternoon (the Sage has found out that there’s a chance I’ll make cakes for tea if we’re building in the afternoon, so he’s encouraging that) but we’re not sure there’s much I’ll be able to do. It’s getting to a height I can only just manage, though I expect I can still do a dozen or so bricks before I’m sent back to the kitchen where I belong.

The installing of the new London boiler seems to have been sorted out okay, but as at any time when something is taken out and replaced, the fittings aren’t quite the same, which means some making good will be required. I can’t bother the tenant again – he’s sent some photos which are useful, but I don’t feel able to ask him to take measurements as he’s put himself out enough already, and besides one just has to see and evaluate it. So I think I’ll go down next week, do some preliminary work and measure up and the Sage will go down after that and do the carpentry. I want to go to several exhibitions this autumn so it will be no hardship as long as the trains don’t get delayed or cancelled.

The Sage has been shopping again, both from a dealer and privately. He’s spent about as much as I have on the boiler and gas checks etc. He’s had more fun. I think I’ll have to have a mini-spree myself. Mind you, I’m enjoying the music Ro passed on to me. For the last few days I’ve been obsessed with Tom Waits’ Alice, which is fabulous. Yes, I know it came out in 2002 or something. That doesn’t mean I have to have heard it before, does it? I’m usually at least a decade behind-hand, this is rather efficient for me. I’ll see Ro at the weekend, I’ll thank him again. Of the music he gave me, I still have to learn to love Nick Cave.

Z doesn’t hang about

I had such a good time yesterday afternoon. The children came to visit while their mother was at the hairdressser and they were charming. I’d bought some stickers for them the other day, mildly monsterish faces with googly eyes and they were thrilled with them, rather more than the gift warranted in truth. Squiffany decorated her wellies with them and Pugsley arranged them on a sheet of paper. He said several times how much his mother would admire them. We did a jigsaw, played a game. went and bounced on my bed (I didn’t) and Squiffany and I dressed up for my wedding. I wore a sari, which rather impressed her, and went and got out all my rings so she could put them on my fingers. Pugsley took a shine to a couple of rings and wore them while he rummaged around under the duvet on the floor, but I remembered to reclaim them.

Once Dilly was home and Al had shut up the shop, we went down to the new village school, which was holding an open afternoon from 4-6 so that anyone who wanted to could look around. It’s wonderful. I felt quite emotional – look, you know me, this is hardly a surprise – as we’d all worked so hard for so long to get the funding and arrangements for the building to be built. When I left the governing body three years ago it was all agreed, but it’s taken all this time for everything to be finalised. The former school is one of those lovely little Victorian purpose-built village schools, where 100 or more pupils from ages 5 upwards sat in rows, all in one room. It’s been much altered from that – indoor lavatories were added about 22 years ago, an inner courtyard was turned into a library about 15 years ago and only 4 years ago walk-in cupboards were turned into extra teaching areas. Every inch of space in that little school was used. A third class was housed in a mobile classroom. The village church leased an area of field and fenced it for a playing field. It worked damn well too, Ro was well taught there and, most of all, it’s a place for children to grow up happy and secure, with a good grounding for life as well as in education. But it was cramped and awkward and, however good-humoured the staff were about it, it wasn’t easy to deliver a full curriculum. Indeed, we were told at more than one Ofsted inspection that, because of the limitations of the building, it was not possible to be given the highest rating.

So now it’s got, or is going to have, everything we could wish for. There’s still some fitting out to do in one room, with cookers and science equipment, and not everything is complete outside. The school will use the playing field for another year, all being well (we’ve got to ask to continue renting it yet) while theirs is levelled and seeded, but that doesn’t matter. 18 years I put in at that school and I still sort of belong there. The Bishop is coming to open it officially next month and I’m very pleased to have been invited to the ceremony.

Anyway, I saw lots of people I knew, who were also having a look round, including former pupils and a former Head and his wife who also worked there for some years, although they weren’t married to each other then. And someone else who I had a chat with about being a governor at the high school – when she agreed to stand for election I came home and wrote at once to the head and chairman of governors and have had a reply saying nomination forms for parent governors will go out today.