Monthly Archives: May 2012

Z is getting excited

I woke early the other morning, lay reading for a couple of hours and then got up at 5.  As a consequence, I was tired the next evening and went to bed early, so woke early …. you get the picture.  This early rising is very virtuous I suppose – though I’m not sure why it’s cracked up to be so, but it’s also quite boring.  Night time is so much more fun, at least I’m more fun in the evenings.

I remember a few years ago when we were asked round for dinner with friends.  I was a bit tired, looking forward to a delicious meal – she was a professional cook before her retirement, has written books and everything – and rather wanting to be entertained, not particularly sparkly.  When we arrived, we found that a couple who had recently moved to the village were there, looking a bit shy.  We had met before, didn’t know each other very well, our friends were being kind and helping them spread their social wings.

After greetings, our hostess vanished to the kitchen and soon a silence fell.  Then I became aware that several hopeful pairs of eyes were upon me.  Evidently, Z was expected to perform – not literally, dear hearts, I don’t, but to start a conversation at the least.  So I took a swig of gin, put on my brightest smile and launched into animated evening mode, and it all went swimmingly, they just wanted a start.  But I realised afterwards that they had probably assumed that it had been the alcohol.  I don’t need alcohol to have fun, though.  It all depends on the company.


I ducked out of church, darlings.  Andy emailed me first thing, offering to play the organ, and once I thought of the two hours I’d have in hand, I was jolly pleased.  So now the house is officially cleaned.  Unofficially, that doesn’t actually mean clean because there are still a few hell-holes I’m keeping quiet about, and the whole place needs to be dusted and hoovered all over again.  Blimey, this housework lark is a total bummer and I’m not going to do it regularly, I assure you.

I didn’t get around to buying actual food, but fortunately I had some asparagus stock in the fridge and a butternut squash and some shallots in the veg rack, so risotto it was – although Al and co called in so I drank more wine than expected.  Swings, dear hearts, and roundabouts.  I have a weekly quota.

Ro and Dilly are seriously house-hunting.  They know the village south of Norwich they like and they know how much they are willing to spend (and it’s a realistic amount).  Fingers crossed.

Z goes to a party

We drove 150 miles for lunch today.  And great fun it was too.  Ro came over first thing and we all set off together, meringues and mousse in the car.  We made very good time, less than three hours each way, though I was tired by the time I arrived home, having done all the driving (neither the Sage nor Ro is insured to drive my car).

Ro hadn’t been to Daphne’s house for some years and I sent him to look for himself among the photos in the downstairs loo.  It took him a while to identify himself – he’s the little blond on the left.  Al is standing next, then G (Daphne’s son, who is getting married in a fortnight), then G’s brother J, and the Sage is almost hidden in the foliage.  It was evidently taken the last time the summerhouse was dismantled, something that is due to happen again.

When we got home, Ro went for a bath (the boiler has packed in at his house and a new one will be fitted next week).  I had supper ready when he came down and then the Sage took him to admire the four youngest chicks, who are living with their mother in a coop in the biggest greenhouse.

Immediately after this picture was taken, one of the chicks crapped spectacularly into his hand.  Ro squealed a bit but didn’t drop a bird of course, and I removed them from his grasp to put them back under the mother hen’s wing.  He had a messy puddle in his hand, which was most amusing.  

Curate’s egg

I didn’t fill in the feedback form after the meeting – for one thing, I had to run to catch my train.  For another, I didn’t quite know what to say.  Good in parts, perhaps?  Not quite excellent, even so.

I had about 500 yards to scurry to get back to Russell Square, then into the lift, then onto the platform.  The train was just coming in – one stop to Holborn.  Several corridors to hurry down, then three minutes to wait, anxiously.  I’m not good at cutting it fine.  Four stops and then four minutes to four, I excused myself past people and rushed on to the concourse at two minutes to.  I got on the train on the first carriage as I couldn’t run any more.  Through three First Class carriages and past the buffet and then joined a queue.  The man in front of me made a humorous comment, can’t remember what, when he heard me pant.  He grinned, I replied amicably.  Standing room only, but I was able to lean against a luggage rack and I read my downloaded book until Colchester and then sat down.

It wasn’t that interesting a meeting it seems, if I’ve a lot more to say about catching a train than about the previous five hours.

Tomorrow, I’ll mostly be making meringues.

Ro the songwriter

When Ro was a very little boy, he was given to moments of lyricism.  He was not quite three when he came up with this

People in the clouds, people in the clouds
Because they are smoking a cigarette 
In my eye
But mummy got it out with a needle
And now it’s better again

No one in the family or our circle of friends smoked, so I’m not sure where he got that idea from.

A couple of months later, he sang this to us

My little tree, my little tree
We are happy, we are fat
We are like a walnut cat
We are happy, we are fat
We are like a walnut cat
My little tree, my little tree

And here is the tune.

He’s written neither poem nor music ever since, as far as I know.


Okay darlings, I’ve finally got the invitation header up.  I’m a bit slow, I’m afraid.  I’m really quite busy.

And I lost three hours this afternoon, but all in a good cause.  I had a phone call from my friend yesterday, who had a problem understanding what to do with her iPad, so I went over to visit her.  It was quite straightforward in fact, though quite understandable that she was bewildered, being 94 and never having used any sort of a computer before.  We spent an hour emailing each other, so now I hope she knows how to open received mails and write new ones, and I’ve set up her contact list and signature.  She’s having a lesson on Thursday and I’ve said I’ll be at the end of the phone or pop over any time she wants.  After all that, we had tea.  She insisted that I ate two biscuits.

Today, it hailed.  Fortunately, I was in the car at the time, on my way to fetch Meals on Wheels, and it had stopped by the time I arrived at the caff.  I’m really none too thrilled at this and nor is anyone else.  It’s all very well blaming it on the hosepipe ban, but the weather nymphs have had their little joke, surely.  Couldn’t they have saved this for the Olympics?  After all, everyone expects it to rain then.

Last night I finally removed the nail varnish that was put on my toenails in India.  I suppose that’s the last vestige of my holiday.  Booooo.

Actually, it’s just occurred to me.  Now that JonnyB has given up blogging, I can lay claim to three exclamation marks!!!  No more !!(!) for me!!!

Ahem.  Overkill already.  They’ll be used sparingly, I promise.

Z would rather be old than not

In some ways, you know, I might not mind being old and decrepit.  When I was first married, the Sage took me to visit elderly friends of his who lived in a beautiful flat in Norwich, on the first floor.  Mrs G always let me ride upstairs on her chair lift (and she fed me Elizabeth Shaw mints and always pressed the rest of the packet into my hand to bring home).  And when darling Kenny bought an electric buggy some years ago, I was quite excited.  So he let me have a ride in it and I went off down to the church gates (about 150 yards or so from the house).  They go at quite a speed you know, it was great fun.  It was better fun when the then Rector, Ian (whose daughter’s wedding reception will be on our field in July) drove past.  The expression on his face when he saw me in, he thought, a wheelchair, was very entertaining.  Later, he phoned me in some alarm to find out what the matter was.

Most of the older people I know are desperately anxious not to be seen in a wheelchair, however frail they are.  I’m not too sure why, if it made the difference between getting out and about or being housebound, or being exhausted by walking a few yards instead of sailing along in comfort and earning my keep by having all the shopping bags hung about me rather than the person with me having to carry them as well as care for me, I really think I’d be quite up for it.  Maybe that’s easy to say now, when I’m not quite old yet, although I have been in the position of using a walking stick and being grateful for help – and sometimes finding myself in tears because of the unexpected kindness of strangers.

Unexpected, but also quite predictable, I found.  So many occasions – I never had to carry my heavy suitcase, nor stand on a London bus.  My face is quite anxious in repose, I am told, and I suppose I show tiredness quickly (that I am in the way of grinning scarily most of the time is because I’ve been asked so often why I’m worried, when I was just not smiling), so maybe I worried people … anyway, I was humbled but never humiliated by being helped and looking vulnerable.

Ida ho ho ho

Ida lives in the local residential home and is often brought to church by one of the staff in her wheelchair. She has a habit of commenting at various points in the sermon and would quite like to enter into discussion with whomever is leading the service – which I’m sure they quite appreciate as it proves that at least one member of the congregation is awake and listening.  She speaks out at other moments too, on occasion.  Today, for instance – “When I was a child, I used to pray to God very strongly” (“Good for you,” interjected Anthony) … “that the psalm would be a short one.”  The whole congregation guffawed.

It seems to be quite well received now that I usually play the clarinet instead of the organ.  In the winter, we use the meeting room adjoining the church to save heating the whole building and, when it’s Andy’s turn to play, he uses an electronic keyboard.  I’m not at all fond of playing that so bring the clarinet instead.  We moved back to the church last month, but the first time I played there was a modern hymn that really was not suited to the organ so I kept to the other instrument.  And since then, I’ve been playing it by request.  I’m aware of course that this says as much about my organ playing as my clarinetting, but the other advantage is that it’s pitched slightly lower and is easier to sing to – and in fact, the rich tone is a pleasure to sing to in any case, or so I’m told.

It’s not impossible that this might be the first day for five or six weeks when there will not be any rain.  Very good timing if so, because it’s the day of the town’s street market.  I should have gone really, the Sage did, but I wanted to do some gardening.  He had lunch while he was there.  I had a slice of dry bread and a glass of wine.  I’m not sure that’s really quite the thing for Sunday lunch though.  I wanted cheese, but someone seems to have eaten it all.   Maybe I’ll go and cook something, I won’t last until dinnertime.

Milk tooth and egg tooth

The main news from yesterday was that Augustus finally has a tooth.  This tooth has had a remarkably long journey through his gum – he’s now 9 1/2 months old, all other babies in the household had teeth before they were 5 months.  I haven’t seen this proud eruption yet, I will go and inspect some time next week.  I’ll have to check with Weeza when they’ll be there though, because this will be the week when she returns to work.  Just two days to begin with, then three which was what she worked from when Zerlina was 18 months old to when she started her maternity leave.

z goes to a childminder called Linda, where she is very happy.  Gus visited for a day last week and had a brilliant time.  Another little boy has already turned into a hero and z was very attentive to her little bro too.  They were both tired out when they arrived home, had tea and went straight to bed.  So Weeza is confident that things should go well and she’s looking forward to getting back to the office.

Back here, the Sage has been acting midwife again.  The eggs have such hard shells that the chicks simply can’t break out of them, and he has had to help.  We had several wriggling their way out of their shells, lying on a towel on top of the Aga, this morning.  He chips gently at the end of the shell where the air-sac (I should have spelt that ‘sack’, to give Chris something to correct) is, and when he has broken through then he leaves it to the chick to make its way out.  It’s such a pity when the chick can’t break through, wears away its egg-tooth and dies of exhaustion, so he does what he can to help.  We have six chicks now, it’ll be lovely to see them scuttling about.  We have to keep them under cover while they are little though, there are too many predators about, such as magpies.


The iPad is useful to download attachments, I bought Pages and Numbers and download documents to one, spreadsheets to the other and PDFs go onto iBooks.  Then I don’t have to print documents and they’re always to hand.  Of course, it would be just the same for a laptop, netbook or whatever – but when you buy your iPad and are told it isn’t a storage device, it can be.  And there are apps such as Noteshelf where you can write with your finger or a stylus which is convenient – untidy, has to be said, but useful for quick notes.

Anyhoo, enough of that.  Um.  Sorry darlings, nothing interesting has happened today.  I went to get my hair cut, came home and continued to sort out my wardrobe.  The good thing is that the ironing basket has been cut down to – well, to a single basket.  It contains a whole lot of dinner napkins and three of the Sage’s shirts and some handkerchiefs.  I’ve got a lot of napkins.  I’ve told my children that they can each expect a good four dozen as their inheritance when I die.  They all wished me long life and good health.  The less good news is that I’ve now got an awful lot of unironed clothes hanging in my wardrobe.  Every time I dress I shall have to switch on the iron first – and, more to the point, use it.

I weighed myself this morning.  Joy, darlings, total joy.  Not only have I lost the pound I gained in India, but a couple more besides.  I celebrated by cutting off the buttons on my jeans and sewing them on again half an inch in.  Yes, I was wearing the jeans at the time.  But at least I threaded the needle first time, which I thought wasn’t bad really, as my sight isn’t what it was, now I have slight astigmatism.  I never thought my short sight would let me down and am reluctant to admit it.

I had my hair cut slightly shorter before I went to India to be easier to look after and I will keep it that way, at least for the summer.  It’s not a lot of difference, not an inch in it, but I think it’s okay.  I’ve kept the fringe at the same length.  Anything to hide the wrinkles, darling.  Or some of them, at any rate.