Monthly Archives: May 2011

It’d be Jolly Hockey Sticks, if Z were not allergic to hockey sticks

It was a rather jollier day than I’d expected.  Al phoned to suggest that Squiffany and Pugsley come round for a while – Dilly is feeling a bit fragile and he didn’t want to leave her, and they really needed to get out and be active for a while.  So I took them to the playground and we all swung on swings and frolicked generally.  They stayed for lunch and helped me clean the kitchen, and we went in the garden for a bit, and Squiffany did some sums (she set the questions, answered them, marked them and awarded a star; she is destined to be a teacher, I suspect) while Pugsley played on my phone.

You know, I expect, that Apple Stores have computers at child height equipped with children’s programmes.  Smart.  They also have loads of iPads, iPhones and computers that anyone can use for as long as they want.  Very smart.  Slightly worrying in a way – “there are more ways of killing a cat than by choking it with cream.  But I’m not sure that it’s not the best way.” as Saki put it (approx, darlings, it was Hermann the Irascible, The Story of The Great Weep if you want to look it up, which I can’t quite be bothered to).

Anyway, I went to see Dilly and she’s fine, just that she really needed a day lying down.  Hadrian is being a most accommodating baby.  He sleeps for three hours, wakes with a polite whimper, feeds with enthusiasm, pees and poos (sorry darlings, but it’s what the young people say and who am I to argue?) as soon as his nappy is removed, looks about cheerfully for a bit and then sleeps for another three hours.

In the afternoon, I went to visit Dave and, unlike the first occasion when I was too polite to look around, I peered at all his furnishings.  The Wall Of Photos looks jolly good and so do his paintings.  And the garden is excellent, those granite setts set off the path nicely and the plants are doing nicely.

This evening, I made asparagus risotto, having saved the cooking water from yesterday for the stock.  Frugal, me, you see.  Non-wasteful.

What else? … Rog mashed me again on Facebook Scrabble.  I can’t remember the last time I beat him.

Anyway, tomorrow I’ve got Nadfas in town, but I’ve lost my programme card so I don’t know the subject of the lecture, and then I’m having my hair cut, which it richly deserves.  After that, I’m footloose for the rest of the day.  Gosh.  Splendid.

Too much stuff

We are considering where to put the pianola when it finally comes home.  It has never lived in this house, you see.  I had a piano of my own.  Actually, in our last house we had a boudoir grand piano which I liked very much but, although this house has fairly large rooms, they are almost square and we couldn’t find anywhere for it to go so, reluctantly, we sold it.  I really missed having a piano, however, so after a while we bought an upright.  There was just room for it in the room I’m in now, on the wall between the hatchway into the kitchen and the window.  The pianola was in my mother’s house, where Al and Dilly now live, so when it went for repair I gave them mine and put a bookcase where it had stood.
The problem is, the pianola is slightly larger than the piano, and it won’t fit in that space and there isn’t  anywhere else obviously available.  I could make room in the drawing room, but I don’t want it there, both because it won’t look right and because I don’t want to burden the Sage with the sound of my piano practice.  There’s plenty of room upstairs, but it’s extremely heavy and so, even if we could manage to get it up there, I’m not sure that the floors of this old house would stand it.  There are two options, the hall or the dining room.  In either event, there’s a piece of furniture in the only possible place.
It’s just as well that we’ve been given a couple of months warning of its return.  We evidently need to do some rearranging of the furniture.   

11 + 10

If you were to ask the Sage to play you some music, there would be two likely ‘instruments’ to choose from.  One would be his polyphon, a late Victorian jukebox, and the other would be his wind-up gramophone, which I bought for him many years ago.  Thirty or so years I should think, certainly before we moved here.

This is the song that he would play for you.  Only slightly faster, and therefore a tone or two higher in pitch.

Keeping a Zecret

Admittedly, I’m secretive by nature, but I think I’d be wary of taking out a super-injunction.  I mean, by its nature, journalists have to know that you have something to hide, don’t they?  If I were to be doing something a bit dodge that I don’t want anyone to know about, then at what point would I go for it?  For a start, I’d have to tell the lawyer.  That’s a bit no-go (or number 90, as Eric, as in Little By Little, would have it, as I think I remember from my extreme youth) for a start.  And then the judge would have to know, and then, as I said, the journalists, and once they knew I’d got something to hide, they surely wouldn’t rest until they knew what, even if they weren’t going to publish it.  The timing would be crucial, just within the time that they knew but before they went to print, or else the cat might be let out of the bag needlessly.

Of course, this is all hypothetical.  No really, of course.  Just look at me, you can see I’m a publish and be damned woman, and that most of my sins relate to chocolate and overenthusiasm.

Having said that, I’ve actually been cautious for years.  Right down to the parking ticket and the application of lipstick in a public place.  It has, for a long time, been my dread that my (very minor) *place in society* might become my identity.  From the time that I used, once in a while, to help with the children’s group on a Sunday morning, I have veered from anything that might give rise to “Sunday School Teacher* In (insert misdemeanour of your choice) Scandal.”

I did get a parking ticket once, actually.  It was about 20 years ago, I was heading back to the car park when a friend hailed me and, unwisely, I stopped for a chat.  Not for long, but for long enough.

Enough of that.  The family finally arrived home in the middle of the afternoon, and we went to have a cup of tea and some cake.  Hadrian was having a feed when we arrived, and afterwards his father changed his nappy, and was caught unawares by an unexpectedly sure aim.  After that, Hadrian stayed thoroughly awake and looked about him with great interest.  I know that small babies cannot focus at a distance, but he certainly has the measure of me and his Grandpa.

*or whatevs

The guv’nor

It’s an interesting thing, that we are now getting more enquiries from people interested in being a school governor.  We do have one vacancy, but it’s for a parent governor and someone is considering it.  We’ve not had this situation before; only a couple of years back we had several empty seats and couldn’t fill them. I’m not sure of the motive; I know that our school has a very good reputation, there is also the matter of our academy application – the subject is in the news at present and if someone is really interested, that’s great, but I don’t want people to become governors who just want to influence policy and be in the know, but won’t do the donkey work and aren’t bothered about the school itself.  It rules out a lot of people who don’t have sympathetic employers who will give time off, but to know about the school, you have to come in to see it during the day.  If they are strong enough in other respects, it can be okay for a few governors not to do that, but the majority need to be available for daytime meetings, classroom visits, the occasional assembly etc and to take part in new staff interviews.  Some time ago, I think it was 1999 but can’t quite be bothered to check, the then government had one of its “parent power’ brainstorms and made a rule that one third of governors had to be parents.  We have never been able to fill those available places for more than a term or two, as when you have teenage children, odds are that you are busiest in your careers and least likely to spare time for active governorship.

Anyway, enough of that, it’s half term and I’m taking the weekend off, if not the whole of next week.

The Sage and I went to visit Hadrian this afternoon.  His mother isn’t keen on photos of her children being on the internet, so it may well vanish in a day or two, but here he is, in his Granny’s arms.

Squiffany was also born with a great mop of brown hair, which eventually lightened and now is blonde and wavy.  The Sage and I cuddled him close for half an hour or so and are looking forward to his homecoming tomorrow.  Dilly is very well, and also looking forward to coming home.

Half a Cucumber

I was asleep by midnight, but awake just after 1 am and got up soon after, when it was obvious that I wasn’t going back to sleep.  Since the alarm was set for 5.30, there wasn’t much point in dozing off for half an hour or so.  At 6 o’clock I went to take care of Squiffany and Pugsley so that Al and Dilly could set off for the hospital.  I was interviewing teachers all morning, so had my phone on silent, but happened to stop for break just after Al sent me a text announcing the news and asking me to pass it on to the family.

Their baby was born just before 9 o’clock this morning, weighing 7 lbs 8 oz.  His name, funnily enough, is one I suggested to Weeza on Sunday, but not to the parents themselves.  His blog name – well, I’ll explain.  At Roses’ party I met a couple whose children “my little birds,” the mum said, are called Raven and Phoenix, which charmed me mightily.

Accordingly, our little boy will be called Hadrian Swallow.

Dilly is very well and so is he, and they should be coming home on Saturday.  Al has taken S & P to visit them, and we’ve asked them in to supper when they come back.

Hadrian looks just like his mummy.


Since Al let the shop to Tim last September, he has been a house-husband and, as a result, I have been called on to mind the children much less frequently.  We’ve seen them regularly, of course, but only occasionally looked after them.  Today, however, Dilly had a hospital appointment and so I was called upon to pick up Pugsley from nursery school, look after him during the afternoon and then fetch Squiffany from school.

The first surprise was that the school’s entrance has completely changed.  There is a wall where there used to be a drive.  It looks established (it is rendered and painted, to match the wall that was already there), which shows it must have been a few months.  Pugsley called “hello Granny” from the other end of the yard, which he wouldn’t have done a few months ago, and started chatting immediately, and remembered to say “goodbye” to the teacher, all of which says much for his improved social skills (at one time, he’d have remembered one but not both) and, upon being sat in the car, immediately reached for his book bag and read his book all the way home.

It has always been noticeable in the past that he likes to work and play by himself, he’s perfectly happy with his own company, although not unsociable in general.  However, I’d bought a new craft activity for him and Squiffany and he was pleased with it, but wanted me to do it with him; not so much for the help as for the companionship.  I think that the extra attention from his father has done him a lot of good, but he has also, simply, grown up.  When he starts school he will be nearly five years old and will be well ready for it, although he thoroughly enjoys his nursery school.  Squiffany has always preferred the more structured school system; the main thing is that they are both very happy and secure and they both look forward to the homecoming of their baby brother.

Tomorrow, Dilly and Al will set off for the hospital at 6 am and, bar other emergency admissions, their baby will be born during the morning.  I shall be interviewing teachers at the time.  Just as well to have something to do, I suppose.  I switch on and off as necessary, usually.  I have been known to speak on a subject with great passion and enthusiasm, then have something else to do and, half an hour later, someone mentions what I spoke about and I look at them blankly.  It’s not that I’ve forgotten, but that I’ve put it entirely out of my mind so that I can concentrate on the next thing.

38 years, and 6 years

Today is our wedding anniversary.  We both forgot, until I had a text from a friend with congratulations – I’d told her last week, saying that it was quite likely that Ofsted would come to call either on our anniversary or the baby’s birthday.  The Sage took me out to lunch, to the caff in Yagnub.  Later, he bought me flowers.

I went to Norwich, intending to buy myself a present from him and possibly even buy him a present from me.  I wasn’t in the mood, sad to say, and bought clothes for the baby instead.  I felt a bit emotional actually, buying tiny baby things, and am starting to get very excited.

I did buy an electric mixer, a hand one to replace my very old one that is starting to make slightly grindy noises.  I also bought a chopping board and some staples.  Not staple foods, actual staples to go in a stapler.

Anyway, I’d only been home a few minutes when the Sage called from the door to say someone had come to see us.  I went to investigate, wondering why he’d shut the door – it was to give me a surprise.  It was the piano tuner, with news of my pianola.

It’s a lovely piano with a very good tone and I spent my childhood happily pedalling when I wasn’t playing the keys.  It looks almost like an ordinary piano – actually, look at this one here and it’s very like the one at the top of the page.  The two doors at the top front slide apart and you insert a perforated paper roll, then you slide another door at the bottom front and a pair of pedals can be pulled out and down and, as you pedal, the roll goes round and the music plays.

When my mother died, we found that the mechanism had rather fallen apart, she hadn’t told us about it though it must have upset her.  The piano itself still worked fine, but we asked the piano tuner about getting it restored.  Knowing him and how long it takes to get things done, I reckoned on four years.  In fact, he picked it up in his truck in January 2005.  I know just when it was, because I last went to India on 28th December 04, two days after the tsunami, and returned three weeks later, and as I came down the drive, the pianola was being taken away.  It’s been rather a saga, but it’s finally been returned to him with the mechanism mended and now the strings are being – I don’t know, mended, replaced, whatever.  He reckons that another two months and it will be good as new.  It will be brilliant.  And expensive, I daresay.  I didn’t like to ask.  I’m going to buy that iPad while I can still afford it.

The bows and the bees

I’m being overwhelmed by emails.  I have them all directed to my phone, but they are only marked as read from one address (and so, if deleted, they vanish from that inbox but not the others).  I have four email address and the Sage did have three, but I’ve just set up another for him.  I just logged in to one of my addresses and there are 150 unread emails  – that is, they have been read but only on the phone.  I can’t bear to look at the others.  Sorry, I know I’m sounding incoherent but I rather feel it.

The Sage wanted me to type up a letter for him, but I couldn’t.  It was written as he talks which, as you may know (if you do know him) leaves one more bewildered than he intends.  He starts in the middle and goes back and forth, with digressions, and I have to stop him and get him to start from the beginning – if you don’t know him well enough for that, you might never grasp what he’s talking about.  Honestly, the more enthusiastic he is, the further he roams, but it really is normal for him, I don’t think he’s getting *much* worse than he ever was.

Anyway, after a longish chat, I’ve rewritten the letter and made it much shorter.  It isn’t helped that he keeps going off and phoning people, when I want to ask him about something.

When this is finished, I have a lot of documents to sign and date.  At least the brain doesn’t have to engage for that.

Friend Mike called round this morning.  Over coffee, we started to talk about bees and he was very interested.  When the Sage came in, I said that Mike now thinks I know all about bees, but actually I’ve shot my bolt – he now knows as much as I do!  But he did start from a fairly low base, I had to tell him about the queen’s maiden flight and everything.  Really, it was quite embarrassing for a modest woman like me.

This evening, I heard a sudden flurry of falling drops of water.  I assumed it was Al watering his flower bed, but the wet was on a different window, so it actually was rain, although it lasted less than a minute.  I remarked to the Sage on the sunlight on the apple tree and the ash, which lit them in a completely different shade of green than the other trees in shadow.  When I turned back, there was a rainbow.  It cheered me up altogether.

Going to pot has its Ups and Downs

Weeza and family came over this afternoon, having been to visit friends in Oulton Broad.  We had a good day and Zerlina, after her nap was in excellent form.  She went straight to bed when they arrived and we listened on the monitor to her singing for a while before dropping off to sleep.  Grandpa went to wake her, bearing a Crunchie bar.  She dearly loves chocolate and was very impressed.

Zerlina is still at the age when she needs a bit of help when going to the lavatory, and sometimes misreads the signals, thinking she needs to go before she does.  Weeza said it’s unmistakable when it is urgent, she looks like Mick Jagger.  She demonstrated.  It was amazing, to find how much like a young Rolling Stone a 6 months pregnant woman can look.

Go to about 28 seconds to see what I mean.

At about 5.34, Weeza hopefully mentioned dinner.  I had asked, last night, if they would come for lunch, but she said that they were going to eat with their friends, so I had assumed they weren’t staying for a meal in the evening.  Fortunately, I had bought some meatballs.  Raw, that is, and I’d checked the label and there wasn’t anything in there I didn’t approve of.  I went and put them in a frying pan and then into the Aga, meanwhile Weeza cut up an onion, I fried it, poured in a glass or so of red wine, added a couple of tins of tomatoes and a stock cube and some pepper, cooked for a few minutes while I brought a kettle of water to the boil, added the meatballs to the sauce, put them in the bottom oven, put the spaghetti into the salted water, plates in to warm and followed Weeza out onto the Ups and Downs.  On the way back, Zerlina did her Jagger impression and wanted the loo.

The result has been hidden in a rabbit hole.  We can only imagine the dismay of the poor rabbits.

She enjoyed her (cooked from scratch in 20 minutes) dinner, and I also had bought some splendid Ronaldo ice cream and some raspberries.  When I went shopping, I had no idea we would have guests but just had an impulse to buy extra.  I’ve learned over the years to give in to my impulses, and it was just as well I did this time.