Monthly Archives: April 2011

Mo Z Art

When I was turning out a cupboard I found a drawing I did a few years ago, in my one and only sketching lesson (it was at a WI meeting).  The Sage, rather sweetly, was full of praise.  I think it will be only too obvious to you that it is entirely undeserved.  I can neither draw nor take photos.  I suppose I could have scanned it.  Anyway, just to keep up with the Daveses in displaying my “talent”….

Z moves tables and chairs

Today, I shifted all the furniture in the drawing room to hoover – when you come on Monday and observe how scruffy and untidy the place is, please remember that this is post-housework.  It was far worse.  I’m being submerged in papers, even though I throw away a lot.

Friends turned up this afternoon, which was extremely jolly.  Usually when this happens (about every five years – these particular friends, I mean), I persuade them to stay for dinner, but it was a bit early to make this a reasonable proposition, especially as I hadn’t really got any food in (although one can always rustle up a meal).  They are away from next weekend, but have promised to get in touch on their return.  We had a good chat over a cup of tea, anyway.  I was in the middle of hoovering the carpet when they arrived and had to get rid of the worst of the detritus – I really ought to find a cleaner, I just can’t be arsed nowadays to do much myself.  When I think back, I used to move all the furniture every damn week to clean behind.  Now there is too much furniture and I lost the habit a long time ago.

Anyway, another friend turned up, this time with a bottle of wine.  I’d written a report for her – it was no trouble and I knew she’d have found it tricky, and there was really no need.  Very kind, though.

Rog has been mashing me on Facebook Scrabble.  He’s won the last several games, usually coming from behind in the last few goes.  This time, he’s well ahead from the beginning.  I can only sit back and admire.

The squirrel’s daughter

There seems to be a spate of partygiving at present.  We’ve just had an invitation for another one.  That’s three coming up, not including our own.  Very jolly.  This one will be a barn dance.

It occurs to me that I have rather a lot of shopping to do on Saturday.  And cooking on Sunday.  I suppose I’d better start thinking about food.  I wonder if everyone will introduce themselves by their real names or blog names – if they are different, of course.

I’ve been going through old handbags.  So far, I’ve found about £8 and my driving licence.  That’s good – the driving licence in particular.  I hadn’t seen it for ages, although I knew what room it was in (this gives you some idea of how much stuff there is in this house).  I’ve been used to it all my life, mind you.  When I was a child, my mother’s eyes grew wistful whenever there was a report of the police searching someone’s house.  She thought it would be rather splendid for a policeman to come along with a search warrant.  She could follow him about, exclaiming with glee every time he came across something she’d “put in a safe place” months earlier and never seen again.  Here, I think it would take a team of people several months.  I trust they’d tidy up before they left.

Wall party way

You will either come along the A road or through the town.  If coming along the bypass, look for the sign to the village and you will see the church spire.  Head for that.  If you come along Church Road, turn left at the church and immediately right into our drive; if you come down School Road with the church facing you, the drive is 50 yards short of the junction.  That’s the road you will turn down if coming from the town; it is the first on the left, about 3/4 of a mile from the little bridge out of town. Our entrance has two curved brick walls, one in need of repair, and open wrought iron gates.  You can’t see the house from the road; the drive forks but all roads lead to home so left and right wingers all welcome.  Don’t carry on past the church (or turn left at the T junction) or you will end up down a bumpy track and have to turn round.

After the Sage’s meeting tonight, there was a talk by an environmental officer about the Common.  He was very enthusiastic about the range of birds there and afterwards the Sage engaged him in conversation.  He is going to come and look at our land around here and advise us on anything more we can do to encourage wildlife.  There’s already rather a lot, in fact.

Fun eral

It seems to have decided itself.  Despite my reservations about recorded music in church, I’m going with Tom Lehrer before the service starts and Tico Tico as I’m carried out.  In between, straightforward hymns – I still want Father Hear the Prayer We Offer, which decision has lasted eight years so far, so must be about right for me, and another hymn which hasn’t quite been settled yet, so I’ll probably do a shortlist and let the family decide.  Or they can go another way entirely if they like, as long as it is not All Things Bright and Beautiful, The Old Rugged Cross or Abide with Me. A wicker coffin, made by me or Sarah and little or no eulogy.  If I pop off unexpectedly, please point my family in this direction asap.

Today, I was back at work.  “Work” I should say, as it’s voluntary and therefore counts as fun.  The consultation for academy status still goes on, but I have to say, I have thoroughly read everything I can about it and will vote in favour.  Something drastic and unexpected would have to occur to make me pause.  Some of the teachers are not in favour, some are, but the arguments against do not take into account the facts of the matter.  I should make clear, I am not in any way in favour of sponsored academies and I do not want to change the conditions of employment of our staff, who are really excellent and work fantastically hard.  I look forward to working more closely with them, in fact.  This sounds thoroughly big-headed, I know, but those of the staff who don’t know me underestimate me.  I’m all fun and frivolity of course, but it thinly masks a lot of knowledge of school management and a worryingly tough cor blimey core.  The first thing I want to do is set up a staff/governor forum so that representatives from both can meet regularly to discuss current events and concerns.  I’m going to prove to sceptics that I mean what I say and that we can deliver what we intend.

I’m jumping ahead, of course.  The proposition may be voted down, or we may be rejected.  If so, it’ll mean a lot of cutbacks in a couple of years and probably a restriction to our curriculum.

Oh dear.  Sorry.  Let me see, what’s on tomorrow.  A meeting with solicitors at school in the morning, then a haircut, then playing for a funeral   The Lord’s My Shepherd and Abide With Me.  Better than B&B, I suppose.  Then there is the church AGM in the evening, but I shall not go.  Z the little rebel.  The Sage has another AGM; he is a Common Reeve and is up for re-election.

Early for my own funeral

Further to yesterday’s post (actually the day before yesterday’s, but in the same way I call it morning until I’ve had lunch, I call the day ‘today” even after midnight if I haven’t been to sleep), I had touched on the weekend my mum died here and here when I was talking about her dog a couple of years ago.  Thank you for all your comments.

I haven’t planned my own funeral as such, although I have given it a fair bit of thought.  If I pop off before the Sage, I suspect he might make my coffin himself from oak boards, as he did for Chester and Tilly (I think it’s a bit OTT for dogs, but he wanted to), but I’d really like a wicker coffin.  Weeza found a website with lovely ones a few years ago and I bookmarked it, but when my last computer broke I lost the bookmarks and haven’t tracked down the company again yet.  There are a few companies making English wicker coffins, but I particularly liked the shape of that one.  My friend Bobbie’s father was buried in a woven coffin, I’m not sure of the material – seagrass perhaps? – which was imported from China – apparently,  being a soft material, they can be stacked one inside another and are light, so it is counted as eco-friendly despite the distance travelled.  On no account do I want a brick coffin, whatever Dave says.

I certainly want to be buried and not cremated.  Although I’m not big on ceremony (there were three guests at my wedding, for instance), I recognise the importance of a funeral and a really low-key one brings a feeling of incompletion.  I have the Bible reading I would like and a hymn, but there are several other options for hymns I’d like and I think it’s fair to give my family a choice.  After all, they’re the ones listening to it.

I don’t really want to be talked about.  It makes me uncomfortable.  And there really isn’t much to say.  Maybe I should suggest a couple of anecdotes and leave it at that.  Choosing music for the start and finish is always a bit of a problem, unless you’ve got a really good organist.  CDs often don’t sound right in a church.  Last year, a funeral I played the organ for had the coffin leave to Bridge over Troubled Waters, which was actually very effective.

This could be quite jolly though, don’t you think?  Not the best video, but I vastly enjoyed seeing the YOA a few years ago (I blogged it at the time) and I’ve got their CD.

She left her heart…

My mother had six months to plan her funeral.  As she said to Phil, whom she met for the first (and only) time at her last Christmas, “I’ve received my death sentence, you know.”  As a near-to-introductory remark, it was quite a show-stopper.  She spent a lot of time poring over the Bible, choosing the reading and even longer deciding on the hymns.  There was nothing untoward about any of the service, but the rest of the arrangements were rather more complicated.

My mother was married twice and widowed twice.  My father died when she was forty-six and she married again six years later.  Her second husband died ten years later when she was only sixty-two.  In each instance there was a double grave ready for her too – “double graves all over Suffolk,” as she put it.  She lived next to us for the last fifteen years of her life, half an hour’s drive from where she’d lived with my stepfather.  So, planning her funeral, she was in a quandary.  She reluctantly decided that there was no possibility of including her first husband in the reckoning.  After all this time, she didn’t really want her funeral in Wrentham where she used to live.  Most of her friends had died or moved from there and she didn’t know the minister, whereas she and our Rector here were good friends.

I must remember to tell you about when he visited her a week or two after she came out of hospital.

The final decision she came to was to have her funeral service here and then be buried with Wilf in Wrentham.  This was logical and really quite sensible, in its way.

You know when you go to a funeral in a church and then are invited back to the house or a local hotel afterwards, but the immediate family has gone off to the crematorium and you have to wait an hour awkwardly before they come back?  I didn’t want that to happen.  If there’s one thing I learned from my mother, and actually there were others, it was to put guests first.  So it was decided that the best option was to have the funeral in our church in the morning, then everyone come back here for lunch, then book the undertaker to return a couple of hours later and drive over to Wrentham for the burial.  The day before the event, I and various other people spent preparing food and then I was up again at 5 am cooking again, with an obsessive fear that there would not be enough.   Weeza thought I was a bit cracked and I probably was.  The funeral went smoothly, not that I remember anything about it, though it seemed a bit odd to walk out leaving the coffin behind.  The Rector murmured to me, when he joined us at home, that he had locked the church door.  A bit disconcerting for a chance visitor otherwise.

None of my children wanted to come, so the Sage and I left them in charge of the few remaining guests. I was touched that several friends did come with us, I hadn’t expected them to.  Ian, the Rector, came too.  We drove behind the hearse for a slow 15 miles to Wrentham church.  The coffin was unloaded and borne in on the pallbearers’ shoulders.  Up the aisle, with all of us solemnly following behind, up to the chancel … then a swift turn-about and it was carried out again.  She’d wanted a final visit to the church. The cemetery is separate from the church, the graveyard having been filled many years previously, and the coffin was loaded back into the car again.

Our bewildered followers obediently climbed back into their cars – and found themselves driving only 200 yards before stopping behind the hearse again.  The Sage and I, with prior knowledge, walked.  We all trooped behind the coffin again, caution on the faces of the followers who felt that there might be another detour, but the grave was ready for her.  We finally lurched home in the mid afternoon.  The whole thing must have taken five hours.  We felt that, ideally, she would have preferred a timeshare arrangement in Oulton Broad with my father, Wrentham with my step-father and the churchyard here where she lived.

LaZee Zed

Zerlina is extremely strong-willed.  We knew it, but she does try it on somewhat.  We were all barefoot today – well, she was bare-everything.  The Sage kept his shoes on, of course, and socks.  She wanted me to put my sandals on, so I put my toes in, but later on, after lunch when I was barefoot again, she instructed me to put my shoes on and I refused.  She told me repeatedly and firmly and I started to feel a bit got at.  It was quite funny though.  We all wondered ironically where she had got it from (her mother, since you don’t appear to have got the answer right at once).

I’ve spent quite some time this evening drafting the Churchwardens’ annual report for the AGM, which is on Wednesday.  Yes, I know I am not churchwarden any more.  I’m not even going to the meeting.  But I am, sadly, practised in admin and the present churchwardens, better as they are than me in most other respects, aren’t.  So I’ve left them to look up various facts, such as how many weddings and funerals were held, and done the rest of it.  It has to be sent up to Diocesan House and is an official record.

Tomorrow, Weeza, Phil and Zerlina and Ro and Dora are coming for lunch.  Dilly’s parents are coming over for lunch with them, so I expect the little cousins will play together in the afternoon.  We’re having roast lamb.  And cake.  I spent some time this evening making little cakes and I shall decorate them in the morning.  I also have some raspberries (no idea where they were flown in from) and ice cream.  Bought.  I’m feeling lazy.


I had a post in my mind, but events have pushed their way in front of it.  So it will wait.  It’s waited eight years already, and three since I said I’ll write about it.

I was cooking dinner and Wink was reading the paper.  She observed that the first Indiana Jones film was on.  We realised that it couldn’t all be watched, but I said that I could work dinner around the first few minutes – that is, leave it while the (rather awful, actually) tomb-robbing sequence was going on, then I could dish up and we could see the rest after we’d eaten.

I was just heading back to the kitchen when the Sage asked me if I could spare a couple of minutes.  My time is counted in individual minutes, I couldn’t really but the Sage comes first so I went with him … it was a not good idea which he and Jamie had cooked up while I was out.  I said, I don’t think so, but let me dish up those slightly blackened sweet potatoes first and we’ll talk about it.

The upshot was, I had a better idea and now he’s all enthusiastic.  It is something for next year in my view, no hurry.  But he’s happy again and that’s the main thing.  It’s the placing of the summerhouse, you see.  It is a very old summerhouse, that belonged to his grandparents.  It’s a revolving one.  It was brought here from their garden some 60 years ago and, the year after we moved here, we took it apart, repaired it, put it together again (that was hard work) and I stripped it all down to bare wood with a hot air gun (that was hard work) and primed, undercoated and top-coated it again.  That was a lot of work and, actually, the top coat had to wait until the next year because I ran out of autumn.  It’s back to square one again now.  I have repainted it in the meantime, but mole-works meant that its circular base slipped and we couldn’t fully open the doors, and so didn’t use it and it’s degenerated again.  The Sage was doubtful that it needed to be on the lawn and I agree, but didn’t like his suggested placing.  So – because quick thinking is my mezzo-forte, I came up with a better place.  So that may well be it.  But the project is a way off.  There was certainly no need to take me out for a snap decision this evening … but, how can one mind enthusiasm?  I love enthusiasm.  It defines me, I think.  I am a passionate Z.

And so to Zed

Wink and I went to Norwich today, first to my ladies-who-lunch lunch and then to John Lewis because Wink wanted to check out linen baskets and rugs.  We left, chastened by the prices.  Having rejected the baskets, the least expensive of which was £50 and not all that, I wanted to buy something small to get the reduced price on the car park.  I looked at Easter eggs and sweets and was really rather taken aback.  £9 for a small pack of sugared almonds, for example.  What looked like a small coffee cup filled with sweets was £5, which seemed all right until I realised the ‘cup’ was made of card and the fiver was for maybe 80g of sweets.  I bought a stain removing stick.

We moved on to the Chapelfield mall, mainly because we were meeting Weeza and the JL multi-storey is so badly designed and there are few mother and baby spaces and there is hardly room to park the car, let alone help a small child out of it.  We bought Wink her birthday presents and a bra for me.  I wonder why it is that there are so few in my size.  I have a very ordinary size, but there were lots of 30Fs and similarly impressive small yet big sizes, but not the more ordinary 34Ds.  Not in white, anyway, which was what I wanted.  I’d have bought two or three, including coloured ones, if I’d been able to find them, but I could only find a choice of two acceptable ones (I do not like padding either, it doesn’t move when you do) and tried them on, one fitted so I bought it.  Later, I got over enthusiastic about odds and ends and then we went looking for clothes for Zerlina.  Weeza really wanted some plain teeshirts, but Zerlina was thrilled with a bright red raincoat, of all things.  It was marked down to about a third of its original price and I bought it for her.  I mean, it’ll rain sometime or other, right?  Weeza bought her sunglasses and Wink bought her a dress.  We also had ice cream.  It was a good day.

Then I went to play the organ at the Maundy Thursday service.  I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Maundy Thursday service before, so I don’t know if it’s the norm, but at the end the ministers removed everything they could from the altar and its surrounds.  They trotted back and forth while the congregation sat silently, and then they went and sat down again.  I wondered how long to stay.  No one moved.  It was 20 to 9 and I still had dinner to cook.  After five minutes, I got up and went out.  Well, someone has to.  And now I’m tired.  Goodnight.