Monthly Archives: January 2013

Z doesn’t mind growing old…

… but I refuse to grow up.  So I still make a snowman every year, if possible.  I’ve had to do it all by myself since Ro left home, which isn’t as much fun, admittedly, as having company, but no matter.  I’ve got my inner child to keep me company, even if she’s no damn good at building snowmen and I have to do all the work.

And here it is – The Anonymous Snownudedude

Apologies if you’ve already read this on Twitter, but the other momentous event of the day was having a snowplough come through the village.  I’m vastly impressed.  We pay the best part of £2,500 a year in Council Tax and I think we’ve just got our money’s worth, for this month at any rate.  Not that it came down our road, but no matter.

I sent off my booking form for the Aldeburgh Festival a couple of days ago – I have indeed booked for whatever took my fancy – well, except one thing.  In commemoration of Benji Brit’s centenary, they’re performing Peter Grimes, both in the concert hall and on the beach.  I was vastly tempted to go to both, but wimped out in the end and just booked a seat at Snape.  I think that three hours sitting on a highly pebbly beach with no companion will just make me feel lonely and I don’t intend to be in the least lonely.  I’m not going to all six events on my own though, because Weeza is coming to one with me, the Sage to another and we’re taking the grandchildren and their parents to the Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra – at half an hour in duration, it’s perfect for the little ones’ first concert and we can do other fun things the rest of the day – it’s near the end of June when the weather is often good.  Or so Blue Witch assures me.

Z buys the book

It occurred to us last night that we’d better up the heating in the bungalow, in view of the cold nights.  So we’ve had the heating on during the night rather than in the day, to be on the safe side.

It’s rather daft, actually.  Two or three years ago, the bungalow needed a new boiler.  The plumber had the bright idea of putting it in the loft so that it wouldn’t be in the way in the kitchen.  Good idea, except that now one has to get the loft ladder down and clamber up through the trapdoor whenever one wants to adjust the heating.  Especially bright idea when Dilly was pregnant and didn’t feel able to do it.  Now, the job has fallen to me.

Just as well we went through to see if there was any post this evening, because we discovered that the trip switch had flipped and there was no electricity.  In fact, it was the laundry room light bulb that had blown and triggered it, but I might not have realised that.  And while I’m on the subject of light bulbs, does anyone else find that those so-called long-life bulbs may be low energy but are anything but long-life?  Although being more expensive than the old ones that actually gave off a reasonable amount of light, they last no longer, sometimes less time.  The one in our passageway has to be replaced every few months.  I hate them,  I can’t read by them and have to have on an additional lamp.

Talking of reading, I wonder how you’re all getting on with your Kindles and other reading apparatus? I see that the sale of real books has actually gone up over Christmas, and I have to say that I’m not surprised.  I do read on my phone and iPad, and I don’t mind reading on a screen at all, but it’s simply no substitute for a book.  One has no feeling of how far one has got through an electronic book – I know you can look to see what page out of how many, but it isn’t the same.  And the price of new books is bemusingly high.  It’s hardly cheaper to buy a downloaded book than a real one, but you don’t own the download and it can be taken away from you – you can’t lend it or bequeath it (not that too many books are actually mentioned in a will, but you know what I mean) and it didn’t even have to be printed or transported.  I have read a lot of books on my screens, but the main dissatisfaction with it is that you can’t flip back and forth.  I like to check details – having little memory for names doesn’t help and I often want to remind myself who a character is, or what specifically was said or done, and what I have got is a good memory for the placement of words.  If you ask me about an article in the newspaper, for example, I might be able to say it was only a few pages from the front, on the left hand side in the middle at the bottom … or whatever.  You just don’t get the same feel on a Kindlish thing.

What’s been said in the papers is that people take them on holiday and promptly drop them in the hotel swimming pool and are therefore without books for the rest of the holiday.  I say those people are pretty damn silly.  I take more care of my things than that.  I’ve never even dropped a book in a swimming pool, and I think it’s a jolly good thing to have on holiday.  And when waiting in a queue or lying in bed unable to sleep.  But a book is, mostly, far better to my way of thinking.  And I’ve given the download every chance and will continue to do so, so I’m quite sure I’m not prejudiced.

Where they do come into their own is that out-of-copyright books are free.  That’s jolly useful.  I’ve reread a load of classics over the last couple of years.

Z is snow angel

I put on the local radio station this morning and lay in bed listening to the list of schools in Norfolk that were closed.  It was a long one and included the High School and Squiffany and Pugsley’s new school, though Zerlina’s school and the village one here were both open.  Elle was amused to email her dad and tell him that English schools close when there’s a few centimetres of snow – I’d explained to her that it’s the buses that don’t run, very often and also that it’s quite a problem when it starts snowing during the day, as happened yesterday.  I’m entirely relaxed about it, I think that it’s a poor thing if children can’t spend a day playing in snow once in a while.  There’s little enough carefree childhood nowadays.

The chickens huddled together but they were fine.  The snow even made the tennis court netting look pretty.

 We went for a walk across the fields later and it was lovely.  A clear sky was reflected in the snow, which was wonderfully blue and white and the air was cold but the sun shone warmly – you could feel the chill when you moved into the shade.  I’d tried building a snowman but the snow was too powdery, I couldn’t even made a snowball.

We could make snow angels though.

It was the Classic Car Club Christmas dinner – that’s last Christmas, I’m not presuming on this year’s.  They always leave it until halfway through January, by which time everyone is up for a party again.  Quite a lot of people cried off in view of the weather and there were 33 of us, about half the usual and, since it’s a carvery, actually this worked rather well as it took half the time for the food to be served.  Since the Sage is a member not me and I don’t know many people and those superficially, I hadn’t had high expectations, but actually I really enjoyed the evening.  The starting time was brought forward half an hour because fog was forecast, so we were home by 9.30.  There’s no trace of fog yet though, but it’s very cold.

260 Norfolk schools closed, it’s just been announced on the news.  Pictures of happy children tobogganing, just as they should do.  

English winter

I make no attempt to disguise it: the Sage and I are no end pleased and flattered that you want to come to our party.  You are all most welcome – it’s you lovely people who make it fun, we just provide the venue – and a lot of food.

Today was a bit frustrating.  I went to a lecture on Freud (the artist, not his grandad) and Hockney and then trotted along to Jarrolds to do a bit of shopping.  I wanted some new boots because my long ones’ zip had broken (that is, two boots, one broken zip).  I tried on a lot and eventually bought these* (no pic posting problems on Safari, though I understand those unfortunates who still use IE have to go round the houses) though they weren’t exactly what I’d been looking for, but were gratifyingly well reduced in price, fit perfectly and – well, I need new boots.

It started snowing while I was in the shop and by the time I’d finished I was only five minutes short of that hour’s deadline in the car park, so I didn’t buy the books I’d planned to (book token for Christmas!) and headed back.

Darlings, I soon discovered that there was a problem.  Everyone was leaving Norwich early because of the snow, and Grapes Hill was closed – it appears to have been a scheduled closer, presumably because of roadworks and no one was undaft enough to open it again.  I ended up several miles in the wrong direction on the ring road, my least favourite road in the world (and I’ve spent hours stuck on the M25 and various other motorways) and I finally arrived home at 6.06 pm after a journey starting at 1.25 which should have taken half an hour.

But I am a positive and uncomplaining Z on the whole, and I took time to notice how pretty the trees were

I was, of course, stationary at the time I took the photos, as I was quite a lot of the time.

I also observed, as so often before, how lovely people are.  No one lost their temper, no one hooted a horn, even when someone was blocked from going ahead by a car that had space to move a bit and leave room, people paused to let someone in front or out of a junction.  I stopped to let three young women and an older one cross the road – the ice was treacherous and the older one fell and the others hurried back to help her up and walked on arm in arm.  Lorries lost traction, but fortunately everyone took great care and I saw no accidents, which was remarkable.

Have to say, though, what a stupid situation.  I’ve no idea what (apart from not shutting Grapes Hill) could have been done, because sending traffic control police out would have been a danger to them.  I have no plans to go far for the next few days until the very English winter weather eases.

*Looks like fat calves and tiny feet.  Neither is true – put it down to foreshortening

It’s June in January…

29th June is the day of the party, as a few people can’t make the July date.  Splendid.  I’ll put a header post up in due course, but plenty of time for that.  And I’m usually the one who insists on spontaneity – though booking a day with a dozen or more people is better done well in advance.  I must be getting sensible.  Oh gosh.  Pause for thought there.  Is that a sign of maturity?  I feel like a ripe Stilton.  I hope I don’t smell like one … no, no, we’re getting into the realms of absurdity here.

It’s only five weeks until Elle leaves us, a thought that’s making me rather sad.  We will really miss her. Not that she’ll be here all the time until then, but don’t you think there’s quite a different feel to someone being away for the day or a few weeks, from them going away for good?  Though we’re sure to keep in touch, we’ve become such good friends.  And Berlin is one of the many places I’ve never visited, so when I do I will be sure to meet her and her family again.

I didn’t expect to wake up to snow today, but it would be nice to do so tomorrow.  Not that hopeful, it seems to be forecast to do its usual thing of petering out by the time it reaches the easternmost fringes of East Angular.  There wasn’t even enough frost to have to clear the windscreen this morning, just a few snowflakes.  Elle was slightly surprised to hear of my enthusiasm for building snowmen, but … well, you’ve got to, innit?  Though it might have to be a snowgnome this time.

Z wants a dog

Taken aback as I was to be compared to Truman Capote by Rog, I’ve decided that he meant it in the best possible spirit, though it’s still making me ponder in the dark recesses of the night.  Regarding the party, a majority seems to be edging towards 29th June, though neither date has been ruled out yet.

I should explain about my dog hints – you are acute, you lot, one brief mention in the comments … anyway, it was that trip down south at the end of September that really did it.  I kept on meeting lovely dogs and it hit me harder every time that, two years after Tilly died, I miss my dogs desperately.  For quite some time, I missed Tilly and Chester so much that getting another felt like replacing them: ie impossible, and it wasn’t a practical proposition either, for several reasons.  But now, I’ve got to have one.  But my terms and conditions still have to apply, so I have to exercise some judgement, not that easy for your impetuous Z.  The main points to consider are:- 1) Grandchildren.  It must be good with children.  2) Chickens.  It must not kill or even chase chickens, once I’ve kindly explained once and shouted once that they’re out of bounds. 3) Boundaries.  It must, in time, learn not to go out on the road or across the fields, even though there are no fences.

Back in early December, I did get so far as to go to look on the vets’ noticeboard and I wrote down someone’s name and phone number too, but I didn’t actually ring.  It’s hard to explain why, but I think it was because the notice was already a week old and I thought the dogs, two 7-year-old golden retriever sisters in urgent need of rehoming, would have been snapped up.  I funked it, in short, because I was afraid of being disappointed.  I’m not good with disappointment, I never have been.  There have been times when I’ve preferred realistic pessimism to the risk of disappointment, but that has been during periods of entirely understandable low spirits.

Anyway, it won’t be long before I have another go.  But I’m quite relaxed about it, though really rather keen.


Thank you for your enthusiastic responses.  The most likely date will be either the 29th June or 27th July, so let me know if you can’t manage either of them and let’s hope one day will suit everyone.  If you’d like to stay overnight, you’d be very welcome.  We have two double and a single spare room and another room where I could put a blow-up double mattress (if well inflated it’s comfortable, I’ve slept on it many times) if Weeza can haul it out of her garage, where it’s resided since she moved from London.  I can put at least two more couples in the bungalow, though I’ll have to buy another bed first as there’s only one in there at present.  A sofa bed could be a useful buy too – there won’t be a problem about fitting people in, I’m sure.  Plenty of time to sort it all out, anyway.

I’ve turned off the registered user thingy for comments, because it’s supposed to accept open ID and it doesn’t.  It really only wants to take people who have a Google account and I don’t think that’s acceptable.  It’s been a lovely break from spam, but that’s my problem not yours.  I have comment moderation switched on for posts after two days so, even if you’ve subscribed to comment notification, you shouldn’t get them in your emails unless they’re on the most recent couple of posts. I can’t guarantee that I won’t turn on word verification if I’m bombarded, though, as I had been getting dozens of spam comments every day.

This morning, I met three new governors to go through the information folder – they’re all very knowledgeable about school and governor matters and I came away with a list of items to do, check on or make sure they’re mentioned at a future meeting.  I feel a bit overworked today as a result – so I do my blog housekeeping instead of getting on with the work.  May not be sensible, but it’s human nature, surely?  So I can’t help it.  Also, it’s my lunch break.  Ho ho.

I haven’t quite finished the Christmas Stilton yet though, so maybe I will have a sliver or two.

Z thinks about a celebration

The programme for the Aldeburgh Festival dropped through – no it didn’t, we don’t have a letterbox – was delivered this morning.  It’s Britten’s centenary this year so there are big celebrations, both there and in Lowestoft, where he was born.

I haven’t said anything about the new year as yet because I’ve been deep in the past (where I’ll return soon, I daresay).  And though I haven’t made resolutions as such because they’re better made when the thought occurs to you – oh, it just has! – so this must be a nearly-new year resolution – I’m going to carry on going to the cinema after Elle leaves and start going to concerts and the theatre again.  Because the Sage really doesn’t enjoy any of it and, after all these years of living with me, the novelty has finally worn off and he feels able to say so.  So – and I’ve often done that before but lost heart for a while – I’ll go alone.  One should always be self-sufficient in any case and ones own true friend.

Having said that, the first thing I did was email the family to see if they’d like to come to any, and I’ve takers for a couple of them already.

On 12th June, which I suppose is Benji’s Happy Day, Lowestoft’s fountains will be playing his music and the promenade will be decked out with banners.  Isn’t that lovely?  Musical fountains, I wonder how they do that?  I’ve probably told you this before but can’t quite be bothered to go back and check, so excuse the anecdotage, but young Ben’s father was my family’s dentist.  Daddy used to go for check-ups in the school holidays and always heard Ben fiddling in the room above.  It’s maybe understandable that he was not one of my father’s favourite composers: the association was unfortunate.

Anyway, I’m booking for anything that catches my eye and doing it soon (I’m a Friend, darlings, and have priority booking).  And it’s made me think about a date for this year’s blog party.  If you’re up for one again this year, of course?  The weekend of the 1st June looks good.  Or any weekend in July except for the first, because our village festival is on the 6th July.  August is entirely free at present.  May and the rest of June, I’ll have to firm up arrangements, as they say, at this end first.

If you’ve been here before you’ll know about us.  If you haven’t, do take this as an invitation.  Lovely people have come along, many of them twice (out of two parties, that is) and have been delightful and charming and friendly and have got on well enough to meet up since.  We’ve got a number of spare bedrooms and you’re welcome to stay (until all bedrooms are taken) and I love feeding lots of people and take all preferences and allergies into account without any bother.  Entertainment, you have to provide, just by chatting to each other, though I daresay you might be sent into the garden to find where the bantams are laying or have to listen to “Eleven more months and ten more days” on the wind-up gramophone or even, if you’re remarkably lucky, be introduced to Bobby the leopard.

Best of all, you would meet the Sage and our family.  We’re looking balefully at 40 years of marriage this year and realising how old this makes us, but whatever we do on the day, you’re welcome to celebrate it with us.

Tell me possible dates and we’ll find one that everyone can manage.

Update – 29th June or 27th July are the best options at present.

Z hugs

I went to London yesterday to check out my flat, because my tenant has bought a house.  Yay James, and thank you for looking after the place so well.  Oven, bath and fridge completely clean, and they are the mark of thorough cleaning.  I’ve had to spend a full day cleaning a one bedroom flat, empty at that, in my time, so I appreciate not having had to.  Oh, and the windows were clean too.

If anyone is interested in paying me something approaching £1500 per month for a one bedroomed unfurnished flat, do get in touch.  Islington, opposite the canal, round a couple of corners from Upper Street at the Angel station end.

Ahem.  Advert over.

I can’t imagine why, but I started walking from Liverpool Street and I just kept going.  As long as I kept North and followed my nose a bit, I was going to hit my destination – it’s a couple of miles, I suppose.  But why I didn’t just hop on a bus (205), I can’t think.  And then I needed a couple of things and had to go and fetch them from the supermarket – forget your Tesco, in Islingto  Sainsbury’s and Waitrose are side by side, opposite Gap one way and M&S the other.  I did go in Waitrose because I seem to be that sort of Z, but I hit Chapel Market too, because I’m that sort of Z as well.

I finished earlier than expected so took a bus back and was on the platform at 2.58.  Did I catch the 3 o’clock train?  Hell, yes.  I’m allowed to run to catch public transport, though no further because it jars my lovely three year old hip, and I made the most of it.  So I was home an hour early, which was just as well because I was surprisingly tired.

That didn’t help me sleep, sadly, and nor could the Sage.  I wish it was a bit colder, I can’t sleep in this mild weather with the winter duvet on.  So we had a long conversation at about 4.30 this morning about Life and all that comes of it, and I finally fell asleep around 6.  As a result, I didn’t even hear the alarm and had to scurry around to be out of the house, teeth cleaned, by 9.

Later, home from the dentist (poorer but unscathed), I finished some school governor work that has been hanging over me for a couple of months.  I hasten to add – well, that’s a figure of speech, actually I’m drinking coffee, eating chocolate (we were given rather a lot and someone’s got to do it) and not feeling very hasty at all – that I’d done nearly all the work, it was just the review of one document and the writing of a letter, plus checking a couple of dates that were still to do.  But I’ve done it.  And the deadline is actually Friday morning, so I’m quite pleased with myself.

Later, the Head told me that our Finance Director and her assistant have both passed their accountancy exam, the CIPFA (I’ll look up what it means in a while) which is jolly good, so I went to give them both a congratulatory hug.  Because I’m that sort of Z too.

Z plans to skip

I’ve whinged before about my lack of reading libido of late.  That is, I read loads, but by the time I’ve read papers for various meetings, newspapers, blogs and so on, I don’t seem to have much concentration left for actual books.  That I’ve been blaming it on the average modern novel has been given credence by the fact that, over the past couple of years, many of the books I’ve read with enthusiasm have been classics.  I’ve re-read War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, Vanity Fair, La Peste and L’étranger, the latter in French, except for the words I couldn’t be bothered to look up, Huckleberry Finn … oh, I can’t remember, but you get the picture.  But otherwise, I read a few pages and lose interest and it takes me ages to get through a book I would previously have read in a day.

I may have discovered another reason.  I’m being too thorough.  Read this, my darlings, and then come back to me.  Because I was talking to a friend the other day who said he had never been able to enjoy anything of Tolkein’s, though he’d read The Hobbit to his children (when they were, they’ve grown up now) and they’d loved it, he’d been bored as a stiff.  I kept quiet, I enjoyed the books too – but now I realise that I skipped through a fair lot.  When it gets onto overly descriptive bits that interfere with the plot, my eyes go ‘yeah, yeah’ and whizz through until something interesting happens.

When I was a child, I read very quickly.  I zipped along, getting the feel and the mood of the book, and the story itself and, if I liked it, it wouldn’t be long before I read it again.  In fact, sometimes I read the last page, turned back to the first and read it again straight away, taking in anything I’d missed.  I carried on reading quickly for years, until I deliberately slowed down when, buying three or four books a week and reading them in a couple of days, I realised I’d got a habit I couldn’t afford.  Yes, I could have gone to the library – actually, I did that too.  I couldn’t keep up with myself.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because of all the documents I have to read thoroughly: I pay a novel too much attention and a lot of them don’t merit it.  So I’m going to try speeding up again.

By the way, that article – check out pˆnk s lord sükråt cunctør‘s comments – so that I don’t have to.  I was quite unable to read them, my eyes glazed and my tongue dribbled.  This is exactly the sort of thing I was talking about.