Monthly Archives: March 2011

Dial M for Muzak

The Sage was not happy when our internet connection went down this morning.  I was cooking his breakfast (yes, really, I am that good to him) when he called through plaintively.  Then the phone rang, but was dead when he picked it up.  I managed to get the broadband going again, though it was a bit iffy for the rest of the morning, but it has been blissfully peaceful as regards bells all day.

It’s no good, I can’t be doing with a tune for the landline.  I don’t have one even for my mobile actually as none of the ones on offer suit me – I know what I would have if I could be bothered to download a tune, but I never have – I have the nearest thing to the sound of a proper telephone, with a different ringtone (not a tune) if it’s from home, but I just want ‘ring-ring’ from the home phone.  I wonder if I’m in a minority.  We don’t have a doorbell but if we did, that would just ring, too.

An old man we used to deliver Meals on Wheels to had a doorbell that played a succession of nursery rhyme tunes – I don’t know if it was random or whether they were played in order, but when you rang his bell and he answered the door, we just smiled at each other and didn’t try to speak through ‘Boys and Girls Come Out to Play” or “Oranges and Lemons” or whichever of the others jingled away cheerily.  It played a whole verse and went on for some time.  Here, we’ve got a knocker on the front door, but no one who knows us goes there but comes to the porch at the side, and either taps hopefully on the glass or just opens the door and shouts.  If the front door is knocked on, it’s either someone who is lost or the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are very formal and never sidle.

The Sage went next door to phone to tell the telephone company about our dead line this evening, but he was back minutes later, saying he wasn’t going to listen to muzak.  I suggested that there would be muzak whatever time of the day he rings – and there will be, of course, which makes him impatient.  It’s one of the few things that does; normally he is good-humoured and long-tempered even with me when I’m being quite annoying.  He has been known to try several times, waiting just a couple of minutes each time, until I have a go and usually get through in less than five.  But I’m still enjoying not receiving phone calls, so I’m likely to hang back rather longer this time.

He went to check the bill, by the way.  It was paid earlier this month, so we haven’t been cut off deliberately.


It was as well I posted early yesterday evening, because I was suddenly exhausted after dinner.  I fell asleep on the sofa and then staggered to bed.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t sleep again and wished I’d stayed up.  I developed a cold yesterday afternoon, which made me both heavy-headed and too uncomfortable to sleep.

At least I’ve got a lot of typing done today and feel that I’m getting on top of things.  I phoned for an appointment with my surgeon – I’d left a message on his secretary’s answerphone more than a month ago and hadn’t had a reply.  Eventually I emailed and had an answer asking me to phone the hospital – I suspect she has left his employ, but I do think she could have let me know.  Anyway, that’s done now.

I’m enjoying a book I bought a couple of weeks ago but have just started reading.  It’s “The Secret Life of Words” by Henry Hitchings.  I’m only twenty pages in, in fact, but I already find it absorbing.  It’s about the development of English with the addition of words from other languages – 350 languages, apparently.  As he says, some words are obviously still foreign whereas others are completely assimilated (mope and smörgåsbord  are both Swedish but only the latter looks it) and some words conjure a different idea – bourgeois is not the same as middle-class, for instance.  I do like words, and it’s evident that Henry does too.

News I didn’t pass on yesterday is that Weeza has had her detailed scan and all is fine.  She, like Dilly, is carrying a boy and Zerlina is thrilled at the news, which does not surprise her at all.  She was expecting and looking forward to a baby brother.  The Sage does not want to know this information – the sex, that is – so please don’t mention it when you see him at the party.  There’s little chance of him not picking it up from one of the children, but I’m not going to spoil the surprise.

Next thing I must look into is getting my address to those of you who are coming here on 2nd May.  Don’t think I’ve forgotten, it just hasn’t climbed to the surface of things to do.

Dial P for p***

I am reluctantly obliged to confirm that it’s the Sage who keeps me from peaceful slumber.  He twitched and muttered at 4 o’clock this morning, woke me up and I couldn’t sleep again.  In the end, because he wasn’t quite still and quiet enough for me (though by that time a log of wood would not have been), I went into the spare bedroom.  I did sleep eventually, and he was very apologetic when he brought me a cup of tea this morning.  He could hardly help it, poor lamb, but I had noticed what a wonderful night’s sleep I’d had while he was away!

This afternoon has been splendidly encouraging.  I phoned John Lewis in Brent Cross to order a new washing machine for the London flat.  I must have been on the phone for 20 minutes with a delightful and friendly assistant whose name is Betty, and she was very helpful.  I think it’s a fantastic bargain, they are delivering and fitting the new machine for £25 and removing and disposing of the old one for £9.  I told her that it’s an upstairs flat and the job will be awkward, but it seems there’s no extra charge – of course, I’ll give the men a good tip.  Gratuity, darlings, not advice on which horse to back in the Grand National.  Or women of course, but it will take a powerful pair of people of whatever sex to manhandle a washer/dryer up and down those stairs.

It so happens that I’m going to London anyway that day on a Nadfas visit to the V&A.  I can’t find the details at present, but I’ll go by coach, whiz round the exhibition and then go to the flat, wait for the delivery and then come home by train.

I also phoned about our TV licence.  I went online a few weeks ago to apply for a short-term licence, but never received the promised invoice in the post, so thought I’d get it sorted out before it was overdue.  Another helpful and friendly person, this time a man called Ted.  I have paid a mere £24.25 – apparently, the Sage will receive a freebie for the month of his birthday.  All fine and I pay due appreciation to call centres that work well and to efficient and really delightful staff.

Dave mentioned today on his blog his most popular ever post – I don’t know what mine is, because I rarely do more than glance at the weekly statistic email that I receive – that is, I look to see the number of visitors in the past week and that’s all.  But I do know my favourite post, and that it’s not my favourite because of what I wrote, but because of the comments – which I added to the post itself.  I just re-read it (here) and laughed again.  It dates from March 07 and it makes me realise how long I’ve known a lot of you.


I phoned the dentist at 8.40 and was sitting in the surgery chair at 11 this morning, and out again twenty minutes later with a repaired tooth and £60 the poorer.  As the whole thing was completely painless – I started on the 17 times table, but didn’t bother to get further than 170 – I was not too bothered.  I went in search of a cup of coffee, but was tempted into the Apple Store and spent some time playing with iPads instead.

I’m not sure that I can identify what is better about it, it could be that I’m simply more familiar using one after several goes, but it does seem lighter and slicker and I am confirmed in my decision to buy one, finances permitting (no reason why not, I’ve Saved Up) just as soon as they’re in stock.  The nice assistant I chatted to admitted that she loves the new machine and can’t stop playing with it – “I’ve been unfaithful to my iPad,” she confessed.

I spent quite some time in the garden hacking out brambles and chopping down overgrown greenery with pruning saw and secateurs, which is what passes for gardening in my overgrown world.  The Sage returned safely at about 5 o’clock, by which time it was a lovely sunny evening.  He had had a good run, but was a bit shaken by some of the bad driving he’d seen on the main roads.

I must just do a bit more shopping for Weeza’s birthday and then I’m having an early night.

In for a penny…

The Sage phoned to say he’d arrived safely with Wink after a very easy journey.  He’s taken to driving the South side of the M25, it’s only about 5 miles further and, he finds, much less busy.  I phoned back later to see if they’d watched Antiques Roadshow, as there were a couple of items he’d have been very interested in – but they’d gone to the village pub for dinner and had missed it.  I’ll have to see if it’s repeated.  Annoyingly, the paper doesn’t give repeats – that is, it would be really useful if it said every time a programme is on, because a few are repeated more than once..  I suppose it’s on iPlayer otherwise, he’ll see it one way or another.

This morning, church was lovely because a friend came along – we hadn’t lost touch, but she and her husband (from whom she separated about a year ago) used to be part of our congregation for several years until they started going to another church where there were more children, for their own two’s sake.  She is a lovely girl, young enough to be my daughter of course, but we are very fond of each other and I do hope she’ll come again sometimes.  It just feels right for her to be there.

Tonight, depressingly enough, I broke a tooth.  I wasn’t doing anything, just eating a piece of apple.  It’s a back tooth.  I’ll phone the dentist in the morning.  I think he can fill rather than crown it – let’s hope so, that’d be at least half an iPad-worth.

For some years, I judged the cost of things by their value in Lowestoft china – “that’s only a cracked teabowl” or “that’s a decent teapot.’  The cost of the Sage’s vestas is too variable, they could cost a few pounds or quite a lot.  He had left a bid on one for tonight and, when I got an email to say he’d been outbid, I rang to ask if he wanted me to bid again.  He said not.  Don’t know why, it was less than half a crown.

Travelling Sage

The Sage is off on his travels again.  He has an appointment in Sussex on Monday morning, so rather than leave at an absurd hour (and get on to the M25 in the rush hour), he’s going to stay with Wink in Wiltshire tomorrow and leave at a rather less stupid o’clock on Monday morning.

Of course, he didn’t tell me this.  He started in a roundabout fashion until, I worked it out.  “Fine, good idea,” I said airily – which it is, although actually he might as well stay in a hotel near his destination, Wiltshire being a very long way round.  But it’s a good excuse to drop in and see Wink.  And, knowing him, he’ll think of a couple of other friends to call on while he’s about it.

So tomorrow will be quiet around here.  I wonder what I’ll find to do.


We have had a very jolly evening.  The family next door was out in our garden (they have a fenced-off garden for safety, with young children, but our garden is theirs) this evening when the Sage had a phone call to say that the front field was to be fertilised in a short while, so we all strolled across it to unlock the gate,  Later, we watched the tractor squirting out the liquid feed from its hindermost parts.  Dilly said that they were planning to have a Thai takeaway for tea, and would we like to join them? – which wasn’t an invitation that took long to answer.  I took through a bottle of wine and we had a very cheerful evening.

Earlier in the day, I had been chatting to Al and he said that he’d asked Squiffany what was her best present.  Pugsley confidently answered for her, her scooter, but she wasn’t so sure.  “I really like my scooter, but I think my gardening tools are best.  They are real tools, not toys.”  I’d been unsure about their thrill-value, so I’m extremely happy to hear that.

The Sage is still happily chatting to Al, and Dilly has fallen asleep (she’s seven months pregnant, bear in mind) on the sofa, so I’ve come back through to say hello to you.

This weekend, Ro and his friend Zain will be in Brussels.  They both have some holiday to use up before the end of the month so will go for a very sober jolly – Zain being teetotal and Ro unbothered by the prospect of sobriety.  Weeza and Phil are visiting Phil’s parents in the Midlands for his mum’s birthday. I’m not sure what they’re planning next door, we haven’t got particular plans either.  Pretending to garden, I daresay.  Next weekend, it’s both Weeza and Al’s birthdays.  Having started on present-buying, I smugly believe I’m sorted, but I’m not.  Only a few bits and pieces.  We’re all meeting up at a restaurant between here and Norwich on the Sunday, in between the two birthdays, for a jolly – on Mothering Sunday, so four of the eight of us will be in receipt of pampering.

Thursday’s post

What do you mean, it’s half past ten on Friday morning?  Not if I say it isn’t.

I am cracking slightly under the various things I have to do.  In an exchange of emails last night, the final one to me ended ‘see you tomorrow morning.”  I replied to the rest of the mail, then added “what’s happening tomorrow morning?” before remembering, fortunately before sending it, that I’d asked for the meeting at 8.30.  I asked for it during the afternoon.  This high level of organisation lark isn’t really for me. Not in an ongoing fashion, at any rate, though I can jump to it in a crisis.

The Sage’s computer skills are coming on no end and he confidently deals with all his own emails now.  He did have a tendency to write them to himself or draft and not send, but this has been dealt with by giving him a googlemail account instead of his hotmail one (I do not use the address that comes with the provider in case we change; you cannot persuade people to delete an old email address) – gmail has a far easier layout to understand.  However, a few minutes ago, he asked me for someone’s address.  “Just start putting his name in and it’ll come up from your address list,” I advised.  A few minutes later I went to check … he’d googled him instead.  I explained again the difference between googling, looking up an address or phone number, and emailing, and advised him again to use the correct word each time.  Every time he wants me to look up a phone number,  he asks me to google it and thinks I’m no end pedantic when I ask if he wants me to look on BT.  But if you say it correctly you’re more likely to do the right thing automatically.  Like, if you mispronounce a word you are less likely to remember how to spell it.

Soo Thing

I’m so sorry darlings, if you’ve been looking for me.  It’s well after midnight, although I shall probably backdate this so that I don’t receive plaintive protests that a day has vanished from our lives.

I have been writing letters.  Not for fun, unfortunately.  I’ve only just finished.  The whole evening vanished – well, four hours of it at any rate.  I did take a few minutes to open that box of chocolate bars and have a little gloat.  Just the descriptions make me dribble gently … “Culture Shock” – white chocolate with ginger and chilli.  “Spice it up” – dark chocolate with dragon ginger.  “Sea Dog” – dark chocolate with lime and sea salt – and several others.  I got a hand-written note thanking me for my order – I’m not surprised! – and an invitation to be an agent, which I shall not follow up.

One can tell it’s spring, in this house, when the death watch beetle start tapping.  I know, I mention this every year.  Today was the day.  If we can pinpoint the place, the Sage makes a hole in the wall and pours in Rentokill.

Tomorrow morning, I shall have my hair cut.  How sad is it that I’m thinking, jolly good, I don’t have to wash it first thing.

Do you know, I think I shall take the smallest of snifters up to drink in the bath.  And I shall light a few candles because I always find that soothing.   Not that I’m in need of soothing exactly, it’s just that I like to slump for a bit to unwind that vastly overactive brain for a while before sleep and I haven’t done so, so a good sooth might bypass the necessity.

Quite quiet

Today has, as I expected, been much better, although I didn’t sleep last night.  Couple of hours, I suppose, then I answered emails, skipped through Facebook and played games.  I am relaxing determinedly tonight, having made risotto for supper, played the new Angry Birds game and read the paper.  As soon as I’ve written this, I’ll read a book for the rest of the evening – work can wait until tomorrow.

You might gather that I like games.  Yes.  I always have.  My mother didn’t and nor did my father, expect patience (card games, that is, his favourite was Scorpion).  If ever you could get my mother on a tennis court she was rather good, but it was rare, and she never joined in board games or even cards, as far as I remember.  I, on the other hand, happily joined in with everything my children wanted to play.  I haven’t quite grown up yet,  That is, not at all, scrub the ‘not quite’.  Now, of course, I rely on my phone, because the Sage is grown up too.

Nothing at all in my diary tomorrow.  I might, as Dave suggests, pretend to garden and dig little areas for my favourite chicken to scratch around.