Monthly Archives: September 2010

Bringing on the wall … stonewalled

Dave sent an alert comment this morning, pointing out that the weather was fine and suggesting a half-day of bricklaying.  We had some friends visiting this morning, so it was settled that he’d come at 1 o’clock.

The friends, whom we visited a few months ago in North Kent for lunch, came over and benefitted from the flapjacks (English flapjacks) that I’d made, with coffee.  We had a very jolly morning, until I had a phone call from the caff at half past twelve, saying that Meals on Wheels had yet to be delivered.  I hastened into town, puzzled that the reminder hadn’t come up on my phone – by the time I arrived, I’d realised that the problem was a fifth Thursday.  I give everyone on the rota the same day of the same week per month, but there are three extra Tuesdays and Thursdays a year, and the latter are down to me – and I hadn’t marked it down.

You know, if you apologise and say it’s all your own fault, people are so kind and ready to wave it aside.  Far better than making excuses, which are quite irritating.

Anyway, I arrived back just before Dave arrived and made tea for him while the Sage got ready to mix the mortar.  We went to get more sand and cement – and found the wheelbarrow tyre was flat.  I went and fetched the pump – it was fiddly to attach, so the Sage had to be called.  It’s been several rainy weeks since the last lot of cement was delivered and there is damp at one end of the bags, but there was some usable stuff.  Dave and I were chatting when the Sage called, asking me to reset the switch on the circuit breaker.  The cement mixer still didn’t work.  I checked the freezer, plugged into the same extension, and that had just gone off – evidently the fuse had blown.

I’ll not take you through the full sequence of events, but it turned out, after much effort, that the lead from the cement mixer is in very poor condition.  It’s old and has always been kept outside.  After an hour of faffing about, it was agreed that there was no point in carrying on today.  We were all entirely good-natured about it – sometimes there’s just nothing to fight against.  Fortunately, I’d made a cake as well as the flapjacks, so we went and had tea, having filled Dave’s car with bricks.  Just for the fun of it, you know.

The Sage intends to get a new lead tomorrow and we’ll try again on Saturday.

Later this afternoon, I took Squiffany and Pugsley to the park.  On the way home, we mostly picked and ate blackberries.  I counselled against picking the low ones.  “Why?” asked Squiffany, interestedly.  I explained that dogs might have piddled on them, which was a satisfactory reply.

I have invited them in for tea tomorrow, and Squiffany hopes to stay the night.  Pugsley is a little more doubtful about that, but we’ll see when the time comes.

Pugsley Goes Fourth

Pugsley was really excited and happy about his birthday.  He was at nursery school until after lunch, so we went through in the afternoon with his presents.  He came rushing towards me, arms outstretched … for the parcels – but he did thank me enthusiastically, and he found something very pleased to say about all of them.  While his parents were getting the party food ready, he and I made a Lego helicopter.  He’s extremely good at Lego – needs a little help with the instructions, but the box did say age 5-8; I bought it anyway as I know he’s able to manage it.  We walked to school to fetch Squiffany and then hurried home for the party.

About 18 children, aged from 2 – 5, plus several mums, about 25 of us all told.  Lucky they have a big sitting room.  All were very good and joined in and had fun.  I have spent the evening at their house too, as Al had a governors’ meeting and Dilly was tutoring.

I wanted to copy an article from the newspaper yesterday but found that two colours of ink had run out, and I hadn’t any of one left.  So I got online to order more ink cartridges.  I was very gratified when the order turned up today in the post.  I’d had the paper copied in school, by the way – it was for one of the staff and one of the governors, so it was quite legit (though I did offer to pay).

My bank debit card is due to run out at the end of the month, and it occurred to me last week that I should have had a new one in plenty of time, so I went into the bank on Monday.  The teller cancelled the replacement that had been posted last month (it hasn’t been used, my account is okay) and said I should allow seven working days for the new one to arrive.  It actually arrived this morning.  Can’t get better than that.

After having put off using the PDF rewriter programme as I didn’t feel quite up to the stress of possibly not being able to do it, I found it quite easy after all.  I had to borrow the Sage’s laptop because the programme isn’t for Macs – if I did that more often, I’d have to find a reasonably high table for it.  Bending to see the screen (it’s a large one, but smaller than mine by some way) gave me backache.  Still, good for me to get practice with using it as I have to think my way through the process every time.  Like Weeza, who grumbles every time she has occasion to use my computer as, to her, it’s awkward.

Anyway, what with one thing and another, I’m starting to relax.  I actually could be quite up together with things by the end of the week.  Pity about the weather – we’re almost giving up hope of getting any more wall built before it gets too cold for us fun-lovers to want to bother, but never mind.  It seems that our end-of-wall celebration will have to wait until next year in any case.  The good thing is that we should be able to hold it in the summer rather than the autumn.  You’re all still invited, whenever it happens.  And always welcome to drop in in the meantime, of course.

Z’s sins are scarlet but her blogs are ‘read’

Not actually read, I’m afraid.  I’ve given in, marked ‘all read’ and will try to keep up from now on.  I’m sorry, I just couldn’t catch up.

I said a couple of weeks ago that I was going to delete any blogs where I didn’t feel a personal involvement, including those whose writers never commented on mine or acknowledged me – of course, I revisited any blog before I deleted it, and hardly any have gone.  I only read blogs whose writers I like or whose writing I like, so I can’t be selective and decide whether you’re ‘worthy’ of being written by the criterion of you getting around to commenting here.  That would be a bit arrogant of me.

Right, that’s that out of the way.  But transferring to G-Reader from Bloglines meant some duplications and I’ve not been able to sort it out, so I’m starting again.

I spent most of the day at the school, in music lessons.  I am fond of 13-year-olds.  And, at this stage of the school year, they’re all polite and respectful and they thank you for any help!  I’m not cut out to be a teacher, but I like helping voluntarily.   I’m jolly lucky, in fact because the voluntary work that I’m mysteriously compelled to do is, mostly, a pleasure.  There are a couple of things I’d like to ditch and another I rather wish I hadn’t taken on, but no matter.

And now I realise that a couple of emails haven’t yet been sent.  I must go, darlings, because I must write them this evening.

Z’s house – 1 – first in an occasional series

Today, I’m mostly focussing upon friends who have troubles of one sort and another – Christopher, Dandelion (who has too much on her mind to be reading this) and *the other one with problems*, you are in my most loving thoughts.  That there are three being thought of doesn’t lessen the strength of goodwill to each of you.

I also thought I’d show you one of the tidy corners of the kitchen.  And, that I consider this tidy – albeit cluttered – maybe shows how there’s no hope at all of ever clearing up.

This is where I keep tea and coffee, right by the kettle. You might be able to see that there’s a jamjar containing infusers, so that I can make one mug of tea at a time, using the tea of choice from one of the canisters. Some of them contain teabags, most leaves. The pink tin contains coffee beans, and the small plastic lidded box on the grinder is where I put the ground coffee – you can’t really grind enough for one cup, unless you have a machine to do it in.  The small cafetière was unwashed from last night.  The little tray is for receiving the teabag or contents of infuser.  At present, I have ten different teas on the go, eight to choose from and two more for those who prefer a more traditional cup.  That’s not counting tisanes, of course.
The table-top cooker is for when the Aga is turned off – not that it was, this last summer.  So I put things on it.  I hang up pots and pans so that they’re right there when I want them – life’s too short to fish things out of a cupboard.

And that explains why I don’t think it’s untidy.  They’re all there for a reason and they are all in frequent use.  Purposeful clutter isn’t necessarily untidy.

And this is a cupboard in the bathroom, built by the Sage to hide a truly hideous fireplace and wallpapered by me.  I wallpaper with care and do it well.  The bathroom walls, floor and ceiling all slant marvellously and it took ages to get everything right.  It is all exactly perpendicular and all the patterns match and there are no bubbles. It needs redoing actually, it’s getting grubby.  I still like it though, probably because it isn’t in the least bathroomy.

The little wooden knobs were made by the Sage, there are four of them.  When he’d made the cupboards, he nipped down to the churchyard with a saw, pruned a yew and turned the knobs on his lathe.  The whole thing was done in half an hour.

The doors do fit – one was slightly open.  I thought that closing it before taking the picture would be cheating a bit, so I left it.

Domeztic Zqualor

So, how do you furnish your rooms?  I do it with books, the Sage with pictures.  I would like to be less cluttered than we are, but I lost the battle a long time ago.  If there’s a space, the Sage fills it.  I’m not saying I like to be tidy, I’m a bit uncomfortable if it’s too tidy.  The Sage doesn’t notice anyway.

I think, in most marriages, one party does the tidying up?  Or grumbles if it’s not to their liking, anyway.  Unfortunately, that’s neither of us – well, I do the tidying up in the end, but only because the Sage never would.  This is quite all right, it’s his house and his choice.  I wouldn’t care for him to fuss around telling me to put things away and I don’t do it to him; I’m not his mother-figure.  I do occasionally tell him that the level of squalor distresses me, and he wrings his hands and promises reform, but I know he doesn’t mean it for a minute.  When he leaves something lying around, it’s usually not for a month that I politely mention it and he immediately puts it away, assuring me that he was going to do it that very day, in any case.

Anyway, rooms – I don’t see the point of chairs that are stylish at the expense of comfort. My mother would choose style over comfort, but I wouldn’t.  But I’m not that practical.  I like a bedroom that looks like a sitting room that happens to have a bed in it, so there are Victorian chaise longues and settees in there and no dressing table.  And the bathroom, cloakroom and kitchen are all wallpapered.  Nothing clinical at all, no gleaming tiles.  Bare floorboards in the bathroom, that haven’t been sealed and are, once in a while, scrubbed.

Mostly, comfort and togetherness.  When my children were young, their computer was in the drawing room.  A cluttered corner and sound effects from games was preferable to them being franked up in the hold of a far-away bedroom.  I played the games too, until they got too graphic and too difficult for me.  Just as I read children’s books; we were part of the same family, until they reached the age of teenage (mostly) distance.

Now, my own computer is in here, in the drawing room, and a messy corner that is too.  I don’t care, it’s where I work.  And where I am now.  I could be in the study – and before wifi, I would have been, but that’s hardly family-friendly (though actually, the Sage would probably be in there with me).

The only essential in every room is books.  I can’t do without, even when I’m not reading them.  Like Rog, the internet has taken over to an alarming extent, though I still become engrossed if it’s a good enough book.  I’m afraid that few newly-published ‘literary’ books are worth bothering with.  I’ve read too much well-reviewed, even prizewinning, dross and I’m not up for that much disappointment any more.  The most recent book I have bought for myself is about old vegetable and fruit varieties, which is really interesting.  ‘Forgotten Fruits’, it’s called.

The other thing I really like is the washing machine in a room of its own, with a drain in the floor.  Once you’ve had one flood in the kitchen, you don’t want another.

I like clocks, but I don’t like the ticking, so they’re never wound up.  And I like a big table so that lots of us can all eat comfortably together.  And I like nice silver, but I’m not bothered about the glasses.  They always go cloudy from the dishwasher in the end, or else I break them, so I buy cheap glasses.  And I don’t bother about matching mugs.  They are quite random, but at least I’ll give myself the chipped one.  The matching cups and saucers are late Victorian, quite without value but delicate.

Zaturday night

I was quite flattered to be asked if I’d mind sending a copy of my notes, as they would be so useful. I gave the governor who had asked the copy I’d brought. I’d written the whole speech in full, four A4 sheets, although I didn’t read them out. I followed the structure though. It seemed to go down well and the LA people beamed, because I (genuinely) gave the positive message about schools working in partnership that they were wanting to promote.

I suppose the time has come when I must finally work out a way of recognising which is David and which is Ed.

The nights are a lot cooler now and I’m sleeping correspondingly better. I thought I would. Still reading through the early hours, but less. ‘Diary of a Nobody’ at present – one can download out-of-copyright books free so, since I don’t want to be too excited at that time in the morning (not by a book, at any rate) I choose books I’ve already read.

That which we call a fish

Talking about names yesterday made me think of a woman I heard on her mobile on the train yesterday.  “I’m, Lizzie Herring,” she said.  “Like the fish,” she added cheerily, because I suppose she might as well.  It reminded me of how many people I know, or have known, whose surnames are the names of fish.  I have a friend called Fish and knew a family called Salmon, I know a chap called Haddock, used to know Mr & Mrs Trout – and now there’s Lizzie.  I rather like it.  Of course, the East coast used to be a wealthy fishing area.  One of the surnames in Lowestoft – originally from a village just outside – is Catchpole.  So I suppose it’s not unlikely that those fishermen should have become known by the names of their catches.  Unless it was the other way round and the fish were named after the people.  Hm.

When I got back to Liverpool Street yesterday, it struck me how completely wedded we are to our phones. The difference is that, around here, it’s mostly youngsters texting.  In the city, everyone is speaking on their mobiles.  I went for lunch and sat by the window (a slight mistake when you’re having hot and sour prawn noodle soup as it is impossible to eat tidily.  I was sorry that I must have rather revolted the assistants in the salad bar opposite) and at no time could I not see at least one person on the phone; this in a quiet side street.  I suppose it means one doesn’t waste time as one walks somewhere.  Not that I’m criticising, I made my own share of calls and it was extremely useful to be away from the home phone yet still be able to email.  Few people know my mobile phone number – I always use that phone but friends and colleagues normally ring me at home.

I finished the document this evening – that is, re-read and re-tweaked.  Sadly, it can’t be delivered in under 15 minutes.  I could abbreviate it by leaving out chunks of the narrative, but everything is informative and gives a coherent explanation of the history and current situation of our school partnership.  When I arrive tomorrow, I’ll have a word with the organiser and check.  I have been asked for 15 minutes-worth but they might not expect me to talk quite so solidly for that time.  It was interesting to write it and find that, actually, I’ve been following the events of the past 2 1/2 years quite closely, when I rather thought that a lot of it had gone over my head.  I finished with a reasoned endorsement of partnership between schools – I hope that, when ours comes to its natural conclusion in 2 years time, it will be re-formed on new lines, between the high school and its seven feeder primaries.

I take all this worryingly seriously.  Maybe it gives meaning to my life, Dave?


I forgot you, darlings. I’m so sorry. I’ve spent the last couple of hours on that presentation I’m doing on Saturday and then I came to bed. Let’s be glad of the iPhone, hey, for without it there would be no post at all.

A successful London visit, in that the boilers are serviced and checked and the certification delivered to the agent. By the time that was done, I wasn’t in the mood for art so I had a leisurely, albeit light, lunch instead. I went back to Liverpool street and, as I went past the Swiss bank, three men came out with a purposeful lunchward air. So I followed them. I reckoned they’d know a good place and so it proved. So I had prawn and noodle hot and sour soup and green tea, which was light and tasty and just what I needed, though I’d thought to have salad. Afterwards, it was the shortest of strolls back to the station.

I received an email from a chap whose wife’s name is Halcyon. I’m awfully impressed. Isn’t that an excellent name? Wouldn’t it be splendid if her maiden name had been Day? Surely, it must have been, though I shall never know. I can hardly ask.

Anyway, off to sleep now. Must get in that first vital hour before tossing and turning the rest of the night.

Z is reZolute

I wrote a whole long post, which was a bit of a rant, and then deleted it.  Some matters are best not shared on the open web, even if the intention is to delete after a couple of days.

I received a most apologetic phone call this morning from the lady I complained about yesterday, and all is well there.  I draw a line and now we’re friends.  

I’m feeling a bit less friendly towards Bod, but I’ve worked out a way forward.  I resent letting his arrangements go ahead, as he’ll think I was merely making a fuss, but it’s better to be gracious than resentful.

I am mentally writing my talk for Saturday.  I have put a few words down, and I think that enthusiasm will carry me through.  I will write more, probably the whole thing in full, and then condense into bullet points which I hope not to look at when the time comes.

I haven’t looked again at Nuance, the PDF rewriter.  This is stupid.  I must.  I’m avoiding, and this is, to repeat, stupid.  I haven’t yet had all the forms back, which is a poor excuse.

I was awake half the night worrying.  This is also stupid, but I couldn’t help it.

One can choose.  I will choose to be calm and relaxed, though possibly I won’t be able to put choices into practice until noon on Saturday.

I feel better now.  If you have been, thanks for listening.

Life is simpler in Blogland

And tonight someone asked me for my address to send a cheque.  The address that, with my name, is on the booking form that I emailed out 5 weeks ago and again yesterday.  Honestly, darlings, one needs a bit of patience.  Though I don’t get too fussed, usually.

I received a compliment this afternoon actually, from someone to whom I described the approximate form of the presentation I’m giving on Saturday (still haven’t got it done).  She asked me what my job had been, evidently thinking that I used to do this sort of thing.  I confessed that I’ve never had a proper job and I’m not trained for anything.  Well, I say confessed, but it’s nothing I’m bothered about.  As long as I’m not paid, I have nothing to prove.  I do my best and if it’s not enough, I don’t mind being told.  Anyway, she was surprised, which surprises me somewhat, as I very much admire her abilities – she can do what I can’t, effortlessly.  I just bluff well.

Things seem to  be going a bit awry this evening, after a good day.  I’ve had a really quite snotty email – dictated to her husband, apparently – saying that she doesn’t see why she should have the burden of sending me a lecture report form.  Okay, fine, I don’t mind – why does she feel the need to be rude to me about it?  I have the feeling that she thinks I’m paid for this job (and, as I’m an underling, she’s entitled to be high-handed).  In my mild-mannered reply, I’ve mentioned that I’m a volunteer too.

Also, I’ve had an email from Bod, Wink’s fellow.  They would like me to go on holiday with them in November, and Bod has been enthusiastically making arrangements.  A couple of days ago, I reminded him that we’ve got an auction on the last Friday in October and I’ve got work to do after that, so if he wanted to leave that weekend, I needed to see if I could fit in.  He seems to have said that he’s booked a flight from Gatwick, leaving before noon on Sunday 31st.  I can’t possibly do that.  Sunday train services are dreadful from here to London and one is always bussed part of the way.  Then I’d have to get across London and over to Gatwick, by about 9.30.  Did I mention on a Sunday?  I very clearly said a couple of days ago, let me know the arrangements and if I couldn’t fit in, I’d say so.  If he’s booked, I won’t be pleased.

Anyway, I had been feeling all cheery and relaxed.  I’m not, quite so much, now.