Monthly Archives: February 2012

Z considers an early night

Last night, the Sage was on the phone most of the evening and I’m not fond of listening to phone conversations, so I spent the whole time in here.  I sit on a stool, it’s not uncomfortable, not especially relaxing, but better than listening to one side of a telephone conversation.  This evening, I asked for no phone – but then it rang, it wasn’t his fault.  I lasted about two minutes and have been in here the past hour.  I’m not very relaxed, I have to admit.

Last night, it transpired that my side of the electric blanket wasn’t heating up.  This is the electric blanket I bought in January.  I’m really not impressed, especially as the same thing happened last year – with the one I’d bought a few weeks earlier.  Today, I checked it out and it seems that it’s the lead that has stopped working.  No reason, it hasn’t been stretched, tripped over, anything like that.  Fortunately, we had a spare lead from last year’s blanket that my money was refunded on.  I’ll check the fuse tomorrow and if that’s not it then I’ll have to contact John Lewis.

It’s been a beautiful day, warm and sunny.  I sat out for a while with the newspaper and enjoyed the warmth.  Actually, although it took me ages to go to sleep last night because my feet were cold (having had a bath earlier in the evening, I really needed an electric blanket to warm me up), I woke several times because I was far too hot.  It’s not me, honest.  I wouldn’t recognise a hot flush if it slapped me.

Tomorrow, a funeral (not Kenny’s, that’s next week), Year 9 music, a meeting after school and a meeting in the evening.  At least the last is in the pub.  I haven’t drunk beer since – oh, hang on, I had a glass of Guinness on Sunday.

Z winds down

Jamie has been forking over the kitchen garden, getting it ready for the new season.  The ground is not as moist as you’d expect in February, if we don’t get a lot of rain soon then it’ll be a difficult growing season. I’ll start things off early, with our light soil it’ll be the only hope.

This evening, the Sage was having a meeting with someone in the drawing room, so I skulked in here, putting together notes for a letter I’m going to have to write later in the week, when I heard a squawking chicken.  Looking out of the window, I saw a young black labrador chasing her – rushed out shouting “DOG, DOG – RUSSELL, DOG CHASING CHICKEN!!(!)*”  By this time, the dog had caught her, but rightly realised that I was a greater threat than the chicken a temptation, dropped her and legged it across the field.  The Sage came out, I briefly explained and he chased the dog while I went to look for the chicken.

The Sage has had a word with the dog’s owner.  I think it’ll be kept on the lead when being walked on the road in future.  I couldn’t find which chicken had been caught, they were all clustered together and promptly decided to go to roost, some in trees and some in the henhouse.  None was left, let’s hope the poor girl was unscathed.  It can’t have been more than five seconds and he didn’t shake her and labs have soft mouths, he wasn’t a vicious dog.  Very upsetting though.

Anyway, the Sage took some time to return so I went and chatted to the fellow he’d been talking to, and when he left I went to have a long and relaxing bath.  Face mask, intensive hair conditioner, I lay back and did nothing at all for quarter of an hour or so and then rinsed them off, got out and dried myself and slathered myself with body creams.  The Sage had better not try to hug me, I’ll slip right out of his arms like a cork and hit the ceiling, I’m that slippery.

Tomorrow, I must buy more wine.  I’ve just opened the last bottle, a very nice Côtes du Rhône – I’m reminded again that the nicer the wine, the less I drink.  All I’ve got left, other than the good stuff, is a couple of glasses of sparkling something-or-other (not even champagne) in the fridge.  One was opened last night, I needed a pick-me-up.  Feeling a bit jaded?  Mm, yes.  I’m doing something about it though, I take great care of myself and have just lit a candle and am listening to the divine Elisabeth.  Actually, I’d intended to sit with the Sage, but he’s on the phone and I don’t intend to be wound up by listening to it.

Oh, by the way, Blogger is playing silly buggers, not only with the almost unreadable word verification but by changing the pop-up comment box, which now doesn’t give an option to subscribe to comments.  Since they’re the best bit, I’ve changed to embedded comments and the box is at the bottom of the post instead of in a separate box.  And the automatic spam detection is excellent, none of the spam that reaches my email notification ever gets published.  Honestly, if you just turn off wv you won’t find a problem.

*if anyone ever wonders about this, JonnyB has rights over !!! and he’s far too exalted a blogger (rarely as the dear boy blogs since his book deal, mind you) for me to stand up to.

More Musical Memories

Augustus was very happy during his weekend stay.  I cautiously venture to suggest that the little boy loves his granny.  Certainly, I was very well kissed yesterday.  We went to the church as I said, and I held him while Weeza ate her bacon sandwich.  He’s not quite old enough to pucker up and go ‘mwah’ but he loves being kissed, and he reciprocated with enthusiastic – well, I can only call it snogging.  Open-mouthed on his part, mouth to mouth, honestly I’ve not been kissed with such a mixture of innocence and enthusiasm for years … actually, taking both those words, probably ever.  It was adorable.

I had grabbed the music to take along, but hadn’t actually looked at it.  As you may know, the clarinet is normally pitched in B flat and so plays a whole tone lower than music written for the piano, flute and so on.  So I have to transcribe it up.  This can be fine – let’s say the piece is written in F major, with one flat.  It goes up to G major with one sharp.  E (four sharps) to F sharp (I dunno, whole lots, every bugger is sharpened it seems) is totally bewildering.  Yesterday’s effort, from A to B, was possible, but maybe I should have looked at it beforehand.  I was winging it a bit in the first verse.

In other news … I spent an hour or so in the dentist’s chair this morning.  That is, the chair provided for patients, I didn’t make him sit on the floor by pinching his own.  I’m very impressed.  He uses an anaesthetic gel on your gum before he injects the local anaesthetic, nowadays.  Usually, I go mentally through times tables to distract myself at the dentist (17 being my favourite) but I was feeling particularly relaxed today, so turned to music instead.  Snatches of  Coward, Wilson and J Roddy Walston (Don’t Break the Needle) later (none out loud, obv, it might have sounded like wails of pain), I found myself singing a song called Sei Nicht Bös (here) which gave rise to a memory from long ago.

As I’ve said before, my father died suddenly in January 1970 and events continued to go downhill that year.  Once record kept my mother and me going.  She bought an LP called “Elisabeth Schwarzkopf Sings Operetta.”  We listened to it over and again, I can’t describe how those songs and her voice sustained us.  I’m listening to it now on Spotify and it’s another of those records that I can’t evaluate because it means so much to me, from that time, that I have no critical appreciation.  I simply love it.

Swear queenlet

We have got on very well, done all the written part of the catalogue and now I need to take photos.  I’ve said to the Sage that I’ve got a reasonable amount of free time in the first part of the week, so if the weather is kind (I prefer to take the pics outdoors in a lightbox) I can get it all done in the next few days.

Weeza had me in fits of laughter, quoting Zerlina, last night.  I wrote it down on my iPad (fingertip writing, no need to type, yay!).  This may say as much about Weeza as about her 3-year-old daughter…

Weeza was feeding the baby in her bedroom the other day, and heard Zerlina in her own bedroom next door.  “For God’s sake!  He’s vomited all over me!” heard pootling to the bathroom “oh, it’s okay, it’s only cream.”  Ella went from astonishment to hilarity in a moment.

In B&Q, which she hates, she was misbehaving so was put into the child seat in a trolley.  “GET ME OUT OF THIS DAMMIT TROLLEY!”

When her father exclaimed, something having gone wrong, “where’s the dammit, daddy?”

Well.  They didn’t learn any of that from me

*lying through my teeth*

It happens to be the café + very informal service on this Sunday of the month and I was playing the clarinet, so I planned to take Zerlina along.  Friends were calling in and the Sage had promised that they’d meet the baby, so Weeza and Phil weren’t going to be able to stay, but I inveigled them along for a while with the promise of bacon sandwiches.  It was very jolly and Zerlina coloured in and put together a Noah’s Ark with animals.  Made of card, darlings, no carpentry was required (what is gopher wood, anyway?) and nor was actual animal husbandry.  Sadly, having eaten her sarnie and made her ark, she decided not to stay and listen to Granny play the clarinet.  Just as well, perhaps.  I hummed “A Room in Bloomsbury” to a friend the other day who assured me it was written by Noël Coward, which made me think I’d got The Boyfriend wrong all these years.  Belatedly, I’ve realised that my abilities as a songstress are so lacking that it had been mistaken for “A Room With A View.”

Working weekend

We got a lot done today, no thanks to the Sage who couldn’t remember where he’d put some china.  We searched for a couple of hours before Weeza thought to investigate a box in the kitchen.  After that, it all went swimmingly, it was all unpacked and labelled, ‘lotted up’ – that is, put in order for the sale, and after dinner we did the descriptions.  The Sage left most of that to me … I can see why, he reckoned I might as well do the interesting but challenging bit, he probably thought I’d argue less that way. Weeza did the typing.  We cracked on and got it done in about an hour and then drank wine for quite some time.  We’ve had a lovely evening, mostly booze-fuelled it must be said.

Tomorrow, the condition report and photos and then it can all go into storage.

I found a couple of batches of photos, including some from our 25th wedding anniversary and some from when Wink and I were last in India.  We didn’t label them of course, but I recognise Udaipur, Bangalore and Mysore.  I’m so looking forward to going back.  Six years, I think, since I was last there – which would mean that I was just back from there when I whimsically decided to start a blog.  Gosh.

Clear nights this week, and there was the most beautiful slim crescent moon on Thursday.  Tonight, a little wider but just as lovely.  When I used to take the dogs for their nighttime walk at about midnight, I loved watching the moon and stars.  I’ve got a poor memory for constellations, but gradually learned some and very much enjoyed watching the sky change through the year.

It’s interesting, observing how one learns more easily as one becomes used to seeing.  For example, until a few years ago I recognised very few of our chickens, because the Sage looked after them, they were in a (very large) run some way from the house and I only saw them once in a while.  Then they were put into the kitchen garden for a winter and I went to talk to them every day, and for the past few years they’ve been free-range and choose to spend a lot of their time near the house.  So, of course, I recognise them all as individuals and can see how different they are.

Something of a metaphor for life, I suppose.  I used to be so self-conscious, such a worrier that I didn’t look at people properly and had a really poor memory for faces (and names, which is an awful social disadvantage).  Once I learned that I didn’t matter a bit, so it wasn’t important what anyone thought of me, and therefore started to think more about others, I became far better at face recognition.  I often remember names too, which is useful.  I’ve got quite a rep. for remembering names and faces – it was something of a revelation to find out that others are as bad as I used to be.  And, of course, calling almost everyone “darling” helps no end.

Z is visually busy but dentally unchallenged

I’d got the day all planned.  An eye test in the morning, then a meeting with the Head, then to Norwich to get my iPad repaired, then the dentist for a temporary crown.  Soon after 8 this morning, the phone rang – it was Helen, the dentist’s receptionist, cancelling my appointment.  So I’ll be going on Monday instead – though I seem not to have put down the time, so I’ll have to ring again to check.  Late morning, I know – actually, I might receive a text notification tomorrow.

Everything else went as planned.  Lots of lights were shone in my eye, or rather a light lots of times, and I’ve been checked for cataracts and glaucoma and found innocent of both.  I’ve ordered two pairs of glasses – considering that I never wear them, this seems a lot, but actually I could do with a pair for playing music, as it’s getting to be just the wrong distance to the music stand.  And I suppose a new long-distance pair for emergencies is a good idea.  Considering that you can buy reading glasses for a few pounds, the price of equally straightforward spectacles for myopia is a bit disappointing.  I need another batch of monthly contact lenses too, and I’ll get some single-use ones for India so that I don’t have to worry about keeping them sterile in the heat.  Expensive all round.

After the meeting with the Head, I went to the surgery to book an appointment for vaccinations before my India visit.  Then off to Norwich – since the iPad is under guarantee, I don’t want to jeopardise that, and asked our insurance broker if a claim will put up our premium – last time we made quite a small claim, when a lightning strike friend our phones and my computer modem, it didn’t – and he said it wouldn’t this time.  In fact, I’ve been provided with an entirely new iPad.

It’s been a rather frustrating evening however, as gmail wouldn’t recognise me.  I finally managed to reclaim my account and set up a new password, but I regret the loss of the old one, which was based around Tilly-facts.   Still, I suppose an occasional change is a sensible idea.  Now all I have to do is remember the new one.

The internet connection is still erratic.  Ten days, they said.  Their time is up.  It’s very annoying when it’s up and down, things take so long to do, especially as it’s often slow.  Honestly, it was better before the upgrade.

Weeza and family are visiting for the weekend.  Huzzah!


I can’t write of anything else tonight, because our dear friend Kenny died this evening.  I went to see him this lunchtime and I knew it couldn’t be long.  I went back at 4, promised his wife and son that I wouldn’t leave him alone and they went home – it was an immense strain on Muriel to see him so near the end.

Russell (blog names just aren’t appropriate tonight) came along at 6 and, in his turn, persuaded me to leave.  Kenny was awake and aware all day, but couldn’t speak and could only gesture occasionally.  I’m sure he could hear me, he knew when someone else came in the room, his expression changed and his eyes turned to the door.  Russell phoned at 6.30 to say that he had died in his arms.  We both went to tell Muriel and I took her and her son back to the hospital, where her daughter and son-in-law were waiting.  We all said goodbye to Kenny, and I left Muriel with her family.

I appreciate the time I spent with my dear good friend and I appreciate the Sage’s (well okay, a blog name can come into its own) kindness in taking on himself the final burden.  I was reluctant to leave in one way, but all has been done with respect and love.

Death is never easy, we’ve all been bereaved in one way or another, most of you will understand and sympathise with Muriel and her family.  Kenny was 92 and one cannot describe a long and happy life followed by a short illness as a great tragedy, except to those who are closest to him.  All the same, it’s been hard.  Not hard like those who suffer right now in Syria, for example, but one person’s tragedy cannot be compared to that of another and each has to be borne as a fresh one.

Kenny retired at 65 and came immediately to help the Sage’s mother as a gardener and handyman.  When she died, he stayed on to caretake, and stayed with us for the next twenty years.  In the end, he travelled the few hundred yards between his house and ours on his motorised wheelchair.  After he finally stopped working at the age of 88, he still popped back once a week or so to see Dilly and the babies.  He has been a dear and loyal friend, one of those people to whom you could turn at any time, and we will miss him terribly.

Z doesn’t attempt to improve on perfection

If you take the Antique Collectors’ Club magazine, then any day now you’ll receive the March issue.  The Sage is on the cover.  Or rather, the star item for his next sale is.  I’ll give you a link to the ACC (here) but that issue isn’t up yet.

The Sage hasn’t been his most tactful self tonight.  I said, after a light first course, that I was off to cook pancakes – when he didn’t follow me a few minutes later, I went back and discovered him on the phone.  “Oh,” I said, “I didn’t know you were going to make phone calls.”  I went and cooked more pancakes.  It was quite some time before I went back to tell him he had half a dozen pancakes on a plate, piled up and going soggy.

Hmm.  Yes, he was very apologetic.  Yes, I received a kiss (he isn’t the kissiest of men, but puddings win through every time) but I was still tossing pancakes, so a cheek was proffered in receipt.  No, we haven’t disagreed.  It’s no problem to me, I cooked the pancakes, he ate them, except the final two when he said he couldn’t manage more.  I ate those.

I’m a lemon juice and sugar purist for pancakes.  Shrove Tuesday (or, in this case, Ash Wednesday) pancakes, that is.  I can take or leave Crêpes Suzette and similar gussying-up of the perfect sweet recipe. I do like savoury pancakes once in a while.  And when there are a few of us here, I provide sugar, syrup, honey, oranges and lemons and so on – but it’s still variations on a classic theme.  And I stick to lemon and sugar.

Wink, having emailed the Easter bride-to-be, has received an enthusiastic reply.  So we’ll be booking our flights for Chennai tomorrow.  Nandini warns us it’s going to be jolly hot.  Do you know, I’m right in the mood for jolly hot.  I love heat, can’t take too much sun.  So it’ll be the non-sunny side of the street for me.    And a knotted hankie on my head.

Z has always been held as a Bad Example

The best thing that’s happened this week was that it turned out that we were right and the local authority was wrong.  But enough about that.

By the way, I don’t know if I’ve suddenly been discovered by the locals or something, but my readership numbers have shot up, about doubling over the past few months.  Since readership numbers have been pretty consistent over five of the past six years, I’m not sure whether to be pleased or disconcerted.  You’re all very welcome, anyway.  Bear in mind that I am, in most circumstances, the irresponsible adult and that nothing I do or say is to be recommended at any time.

An example – the Sage just gave me a slice of cake, cut into two.  So I ate the first piece, then the second, then the icing (which I don’t much like).  Then he came back into the room.  Apparently, the slice was meant for both of us.  Oh whoops.  He didn’t say. I’ve promised that tomorrow will be Baking Day.

It’ll also be pancake day.  Because we were out all afternoon, it wasn’t until after 5 o’clock when I went to the hospital, half past six when I got home whereupon the Sage went to visit, and I remembered pancakes when dinner was more than half cooked, and I was tired by then and had cooked something substantial.  So pancakes will be cooked tomorrow instead.  We don’t exactly take Lent to heart anyway, never giving anything up.  Occasionally, I use it as a method of giving myself impetus to do something extra, but it’s all a bit artificial, it seems to me.

Where I’m a very poor example is in music lessons.  This term, it’s all being done on the computer as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago – remixing and mashups and so on – I know reasonably well what it’s all about now, but I have made notes on my phone notepad so that I don’t get the details wrong of just how to get the tempo, key, echo and so on.  Of course, phones are not allowed during the school day and so, although I keep mine on silent, I do haul it out regularly, especially as I don’t wear a watch nowadays.  When the pupils mention that phones are not permitted, I explain that I make the rules, not follow them and I’m allowed to do things that even the Head may not (true*).  And, although my iPhone is much admired, it reinforces the notion that it is for old and staid people, not bright young things, so sales should plummet as soon as the current crop of pupils are old enough to buy their own smartphones.

*Ish.  Very ish.

Z and her backbone come together

It’s been very up and down over the past few days.  Mostly because of Kenny, diminishing before us but still himself.  We both visit daily, it’s the least we can do, and the difficulty we find is nothing compared to his own or that of his family.  He’s not in pain and is wonderfully looked after, I hope his mind is preparing him to leave us.

Having had a lot of fun with the lamppost and the Landrover (darlings, I’ve been asked so many times, I’ve finally checked and it’s a Freelander ES TD4, 2001, automatic, diesel, 84,750 miles, leather upholstery, FSH [I know what that means], PAS, RCL [huh? – no, genuinely, I’ve no idea] and so on and so on…) – anyway, I’ve got an insurance quote that I’m going to accept because I’ve done a whole lot of boring checking online and sometimes the thing to do is actually to ring up the people you already insure with.  I’ll take a picture, but I haven’t got the car yet so it won’t be for a few days.

I broke a chunk of tooth off last night and, rather marvellously, was able to see the dentist today.  Less marvellously, he says it had better be crowned.  Oh bum.  Yes indeed, it will be expensive (please hope that I don’t need a root canal filling which will cost an extra £280.  My roots are splendid, so surely not).  However, I’ve got the money in the bank, even though I hadn’t planned on spending it on a tooth.  Other porcelain, possibly.  Sensible things, certainly.  Although I have already committed to two holidays and a couple of nights away already this year – thank goodness I’d already committed, because otherwise good sensible common sense might have crept in, and where’s the fun in that?

Never mind, I’ll drive less.  You can save so much by getting on your bike.  Except energy, of course.  There’s not too much of that going spare in February.  Although it’s warming up and there are lots of flowers in the garden.  Chin up, darlings.  Never say diet.