Monthly Archives: September 2011

All is going remarkably smoothly .. so far

Brilliant lecture on Whistler today, and all went well afterwards too.  Gus is a month old today, he dozed in my arms much of the afternoon while Weeza did her cooking, then I went to meet Ro.  Very good film, Tinker, Tailor… – afterwards, Ro asked if I’d found it hard to follow too.  I had expected to, remembering the TV series of about 30 years ago, when no one understood what was going on until the last episode.  I clarified a couple of points for him – bit of an innocent it seems, my R …

I think I’m all ready for tomorrow, got the flat keys in my bag, Wink’s electric toothbrush that she left behind here, also in my bag, but I’ve got to buy Lynn’s birthday present first thing tomorrow.  Also got tips for the delivery men in an envelope.  Noted my ticket reference number, and have the correct credit card (having missed cocking that up by a whisker last time, I was very careful this time round) and I’ve confirmed meeting times and places with Wink and Lynn.  This is all very good and sensible.  Usually, I arrange one thing and then go to an exhibition or do something on a whim.  No time tomorrow, as there are firm arrangements at 12.30, 3.00 and 6.00 pm, plus my train home at 8 in the evening.  I have warned the Sage that he has to prepare his own dinner.

Dave was talking, this morning, about the contrast in his nature between making careful plans, and being quickly bored.  I do plan, although nowhere near as carefully as he does, but rather like winging it to an extent.  It’s the back-up, so that something going wrong doesn’t mean disaster, that I’m a bit excessive about.  I worry in advance, which helps me think of pitfalls, so that I can think of get-outs, and then I can relax and not fuss when the time comes.  What I tend not to do, when going somewhere new, is read up about it in advance.  Maybe a little, so that I know places I want to go, but I prefer to learn while I’m there, not to read all the guidebooks and have formed a viewpoint in advance.  But that, I suspect, is because I’m disorganised rather than having an explorer’s curiosity.

Z is feeling extremely cheerful, as well she might

People are lovely, so much of the time, don’t you think?  It’s all gone so helpfully today, when it could have been really awkward.  My upstairs tenant emailed to say that, if the gas checks could be done on Thursday, he’d be home that day – I’ve already made arrangements to go so I didn’t need to take him up on his offer, but then I had an email from my downstairs tenant to say that he hadn’t been able to arrange for the new washing machine to be delivered before he went on holiday, and now he has a new job so can’t take time off for a bit, so could I deal with it please.  So I rang John Lewis at Brent Cross, where the telephone staff are, without exception as far as I’m concerned, absolutely brilliant, bought the machine and it was agreed that I’d be phoned to book a delivery.  As, in due course, I was – and Thursday was offered, but it would have to be in the morning and (because it needs a three-man crew) they couldn’t specify a time, it might be any time from 7 am.  I can’t possibly get to London by then of course – but I knew that James upstairs would be home.

So, it’s all sorted.  I’ll leave a key when I go on Wednesday, I’ll give John Lewis instructions to phone him to let him know to come and open the flat, and then Andrew downstairs will return my key to me.  Everyone happy, all because James was so helpful.  I tell you, I’m never putting his rent up.

And the other delightful thing that happened, I had an email from Ro, asking if I’d like to go to the cinema with him tomorrow after work.  It so happens that I’ll be in Norwich all day, at a Nadfas lecture about James Whistler in the morning and then on to Weeza, to help her with looking after the baby while she cooks various dishes for the freezer.  So it will work perfectly.  I accepted with such alacrity that I forgot I’d accepted an invitation to supper with Weeza, but I’ve phoned to explain and she doesn’t mind at all.

Z should be writing

I’ve just been ordering a new toner cartridge for the printer, which cost rather more than the printer did.  Oh well.  I’ve got to have it, can’t take the inkjet printer along to our auction and wait ten minutes for the invoices to print out.  If you want any printing done, I’m your woman, I stocked up on cartridges for that too, recently, as the online firm I buy from did a super duper offer if you bought two of everything, with an extra lot of black ink thrown in (not loose, don’t worry) and 10% off for returning customers (and they are good quality cartridges, I too have fallen for cheapies and regretted it).

Otherwise, I’ve been skulking about avoiding answering emails.  I still haven’t quite got into the swing of September – that is, into any sort of working efficiency.  I’m still hankering after the lost days of leisurely summer.  I used to find it difficult to relax, I didn’t dare to because the plunge back to immersed busyness was too painful.  Now I have fewer home commitments, I’ve finally learned to switch off.  In fact, for a few brief days, I quite looked forward to getting back to business.  Silly Z.

Hm.  It transpires that I haven’t anything to say this evening after all.  I might as well just have left you with those incredible bubble photos.  Thanks to Ro for drawing them to my attention on Google+.


I’ll probably be back later with a written post, but these bubble photos speak for themselves.

Richard Heeks took them, his wife popped the bubbles.  Thanks, Richard.

When a man marries his daughter…

Today got a bit – how to describe it? – not entirely unstressful, but in a good-humoured way … oh, I’ll tell you and you can see what I mean.

I didn’t mention it yesterday, but the night before I had the oddest dream and woke from it (just before the burglar alarm went off, chiz chiz) and eventually, more than an hour later, went back to sleep and carried on with the dream, and kept waking and sleeping and every time I slept, the damn dream continued.  I won’t bore you with it, except to say that my head was cut off quite early on.

So last night, I really did want a good night’s sleep and didn’t get up until 9 o’clock.  And that was quite nice.  I hadn’t been asleep all that time, I played games on my phone for a while.  The Sage had an appointment in Felixtowe so it was nicely quiet around the house.  Squiffany phoned during the morning to ask if I had any spare eggs because they wanted to make cakes, so I took some through, and then I cleaned the kitchen.  That was about it, Saturday is my day off.  I managed to spend quite half an hour labelling tins and jars to put different teas and coffees in.

Later, Al phoned and invited me and the Sage through to eat cakes.  I wrote a note for the Sage and trotted out, to be confronted by a thunderclap and torrential rain.  I hopped anxiously about in the porch, unwilling to go out in the downpour but wanting those cakes.  I wasn’t ackshully hungry, but CAKES!

In due course, I sat drinking green tea and eating cakes*, I had to have two because both Squiffany and Pugsley had made a batch.  Hadrian sat and watched them from the high chair, apparently, he won’t willingly lie in his cot during the day any more but wants to be part of the action.  He does sleep of course, he’s only 16 weeks old.  In due course, the Sage joined us, and later we left, the Sage to do sagacious things and I to plant bulbs.

Quite some time later, it occurred to me that it was quiet.  Too quiet.  I went inside, checked the time and woke the Sage.  He had ten minutes to go before leaving in his old car to take a bride to church.  Of course he made it, but the car was reluctant to start, so I had to phone to say he’d be five minutes – we still had time in hand, it was all right – but the old girl was being temperamental, the Sage got to the house all right and then coughed and spluttered all the way to the church and in the end I towed her the last couple of hundred yards.

The next half hour was really quite difficult, while the Sage drove about trying to get the car happy again, I towed it, the damn rope broke, we retied it, the Sage tinkered with the car and pronounced it fine.  In due course, he drove the couple to the reception, drove home, clutching some canapés for me, and he happily relaxed with a glass of fizz (I opened the bottle of Prosecco in the fridge, in honour of the bride and groom, we’ve finished the champagne) while I cooked dinner.  I did plant more bulbs while he was out, but there are still some more to do.  I’ve chucked the packs where they are to go, and each bagful I planted, I put the bag, weighed down by a stone, where I planted the bulbs so that I don’t forget until all is done.  It’s the area that we cleared a couple of months ago, it’s meant to be roughish grass, but there are already snowdrops and aconites there and, later, bluebells and I want some early flowers there, so I’ve put in species tulips, narcissi and so on, because the leaves will die down early and I can mow, if I can be bothered.

The wedding, it was rather nice that the bride’s stepfather played the father’s part, while her father and stepmother, both being ordained ministers, conducted the wedding ceremony.


Slipping and sliding

I’m feeling quite remarkably chipper, for no especial reason, particularly considering how little sleep I had last night.  I woke at around 3, after a couple of hours’ sleep, and it was just as well because the burglar alarm went off a few minutes later.  I didn’t bother with my usual scan from the window because I’d heard nothing, but stomped down to turn it off.  When I got back, the Sage said he’d caught a mouse a couple of nights ago and set the trap again.  It’s autumn, evidently.

This is quite a house for wildlife.  We have to set traps, there is only the occasional pair of mice but you can’t leave them or soon you’d have an infestation, and they return if you use a live trap.  And some of the spiders are whoppers.  Fortunately, I don’t mind them at all.

It reminds me, the other day Dilly was telling me that they were down by the river in Yagnub and saw a snake swimming in the water.  I know that grass snakes are good swimmers, but I’ve never seen one doing so, I was quite envious.

Pugsley has completed his first week at school.  It has gone well.  He was hugely looking forward to it, and arrives in his parents’ bedroom at 6 o’clock each morning, asking if he can put on his uniform yet.  Dilly is usually awake then feeding Hadrian and Al has already left for work, so this isn’t as poorly received as it would be in this house.  He is also eating all the fruit that Dilly puts in his lunch box.  Pugsley isn’t fond of fruit, so this shows quite some level of enthusiasm for doing the right thing.  His big sister loves school, of course, and it is a delightful school.  I have known it for 23 years and was a governor there for 18 of them, so it is dear to me.

I’m looking forward to next week, I’ve got a few good things on, including a visit to London on Wednesday.  I’m not doing anything interesting in itself, just going to meet the gas engineer for the annual checks and boiler service, but Wink is coming up to meet me for lunch (isn’t that lovely of her?) and then I’m meeting my friend Lynn after she finishes work and we’ll have an early dinner together.  She has broken her wrist, having slipped in the bathroom while balanced on the bath cleaning tiles.  Housepride, like sport, is really quite dangerous and I’m glad I don’t suffer from enthusiasm for either indulgence.

PS – Had to share this – the eyes do have it, don’t they?  Thanks, Jonco.

Not also but only

I normally fetch two friends from Beccles to take to Norwich for our monthly lunch.  They are sisters, now in their eighties, and they gave up their car some years ago when they moved from country to town.  I phoned last week to confirm I could fetch them, apologised that I wouldn’t be able to take them home but offered to take them to Norwich bus station at least.  So I arrived at 11.15 – and Jo opened the door looking puzzled.  “It’s Thursday,”I said brightly.  “I thought the lunch was next week,” she said.

There are two monthly events, you see, on the third Tuesday and the third Thursday, which normally happen on the same week – but this month, the first was a Thursday so the lunch was the earlier event, and they hadn’t realised.  They have been very busy, they are moving house next month, there’s every excuse.  Jo’s sister was going to Norwich as it happens, but she had various things to do, Jo herself was looking after a neighbour’s dog – I drove Lilian to John Lewis and went and gave their apologies for the lunch.

Afterwards, I did some grocery shopping and so on, I was wearing a pair of court shoes, only 2 inch heels but my feet felt quite constricted by the time I arrived home and, this evening, my left hip is hurting.  Pah.  It’s not the prospect of another operation that dismays me, it’s the limitations I’ll be under beforehand.  Every incentive to keep cycling and stay as fit as possible.  Which isn’t very fit, frankly, but better than total inactivity.

Ro stayed for dinner, and the Sage has gone off now to drop him off at Dora’s brother’s house, because they are going out for a drink together.  Ro and Dora’s bro, that is, not the Sage.  He’s going to call on Mike and Ann.  Not blogger Mike and Ann, that is, old car expert Mike.

All in all, it has been an excellent day.  I’m going now to watch the final episode of The Killing, which Ro says is double length, so I’ll never get around to watching it online.  I should be working, but I’ll have to do that later.  Now, I’ll watch television and read the paper, because I can never *just* watch television.

Z’s heart leaps up

I said, yesterday, that I was due for an anti-tetanus booster, and Blue Witch kindly commented that, as far as she knew, one only needs two adult boosters on top of the childhood vaccinations to have protection for life.  So I rang to confirm that and it is indeed true.  Further vaccinations will do no harm but are not necessary.

Tetanus is such a strong infection that contracting it does not give you immunity, but the vaccine, after five doses, does, for life.  So next time I get a splinter from elderly dead wood or rub earth in a wound, that’s one thing less to worry about.

Thanks, BW – and in return, I’ve been doing some experimentation on touchscreens.  It’s not the coldness of one’s fingers that is the problem, it’s dryness.  Cold and dry often go together, of course, but using moisturiser or simply slightly wetting a fingertip solves the problem.

Several times, recently, the Sage has come to me, anxiously asking for help with his laptop.  In each case, it’s actually been a flat battery.  Today, it wouldn’t come on, again.  It was plugged in and all the connections seemed okay – but I was cooking dinner, so I didn’t have time to do anything then.  Later, when he was busy with a long phone call, I took the computer, plugged it in again and wiggled the lead – and it started to charge.  If only all problems could be solved that easily, but he does now think I’m a whizz at problem solving.  It is a faulty lead though, he’ll probably have to get a new one at some time.

Photos now – yesterday, or possibly the day before, there was a fine rainbow, which I could see from my desk here.

The first photo was my view from here, but when I went outside, it had become a double rainbow.  Not good photos because I couldn’t get far enough back to see the whole arc, but a rainbow is always a pleasure, isn’t it?

And today, I visited Weeza, Zerlina and Augustus.

Who are all very well.  I’m going to go over on Tuesday next week so that Weeza can do some cooking to fill the freezer.  They’ve nearly finished the dishes that she froze while she was pregnant, and it does help, not to have to cook from scratch every day.  They have finally chosen a middle name for Gus.  Very charmingly, they are calling him after my stepfather.  “One of the family has finally chosen a family name – and he isn’t even a blood relation!” said Weeza.  I said that he and Grandma would have been thrilled, and I am too.  He was a dear man and loved being my children’s grandfather.

Next Wednesday, I’m going to London for an appointment at the Islington flats.  Wink may be able to come up to meet me for lunch, and I’ve also emailed my friend Lynn (the poet, whose book launch I wrote about a few months ago) to see if she’s free when she’s finished work.  


I was just sitting down with a glass of wine at quarter past six, trying to find a decent score from an unpromising array of Scrabble tiles, when there was a knock on the door.  It was a couple I know mainly from our auctions, although they have been to the house before.  I greeted them cheerfully, but evidently didn’t quite disguise my surprise enough, because Jan said “did you know we were coming this evening?” I admitted that I didn’t, welcome though they were, and I’d better give the Sage a ring because it might have slipped his mind.  Fortunately, he’d told me where he would be and had used my phone to ring and agree a convenient time, so I was able to phone him there.  “Did you forget you had invited Tony and Jan,” I said, perfectly amicably but bluntly, really not worth starting with small talk.

He had, was very apologetic and hastened back, arriving really not very much more than half an hour later.  It can happen to anyone.  We had sat chatting in the meantime, they drinking tea and I drinking my wine (I had offered them some, but they were going out for a meal afterwards) and no one took it amiss.

If you take either the Ant1ques C0llect0r Club magazine or the Ant1ques Tr@de G@zette, the Sage has a full page advertisement for his next sale.  The ATG is out today, it’s page 25 and the ACC is out shortly.  The 17th, I think.  Both available only by subscription, I believe.  The catalogue will be out on the website too, soon.

Tomorrow, I might go and see Weeza if she’s free, or else I’ll call in for a short time on Thursday.  I’m going to Norwich for lunch on Thursday, and bringing Ro back for an appointment at the doctor’s surgery.  There’s a good drop-in centre in the city centre that he uses if he needs to, so he hasn’t bothered to register with a surgery local to his home, but he needs a vaccination for his holiday in October and they won’t do that on the NHS.  Since I’m going in anyway, I offered to give him a lift.  It reminds me, I must go and get a tetanus booster – or rather, an anti-tetanus booster.  I remember that I last had one before the first time I went to India, which will be ten years in February.  I’m not sure how to remember for the next ten years, unless I use Augustus’s tenth birthday as a jolt to the memory.


There’s a fine full moon right in front of my window.  Yesterday, in the early evening, there was a double rainbow.  This is a good place to sit, in front of the window, although I have to draw the curtain in the morning to mask the sun, as I sit facing East.  Not in a Dave sense, although I think Macy will be doing just that tomorrow.

I went to a funeral today, which I and all the congregation found very moving.  Dick had a long life, he was over 90 and his family loved him dearly, he was still at the heart of things.  His wife died last year, today would have been their 69th wedding anniversary.  There was a photograph of him at the age of 19 on the front of the service sheet, and his daughter’s smile is just like his.  How lucky he was, to be married at 22 and have nearly 68 years together.  The tide has turned against early and long-lasting marriages; several of my friends have been married as long, or nearly, as long as I and the Sage have, but it will be a rarity for the next few decades.  There is the feeling that a first love can’t last, that one changes too much, that early parenthood destroys careers – I don’t know, as many later marriages fail as early ones and it’s never easy to pick on the right moment to have a baby, when there are so many pressures and obligations.   I don’t believe in right answers, just that we mostly muddle through somehow.

If there was one word to sum up that funeral and that life today, though, it would be Love.  Which is all that is left, at the end, that matters.