Monthly Archives: February 2014

Young Z – parents still on holiday

It must be admitted, my parents had much better holidays when they were unencumbered by children.  I can imagine how blissful it must have been, exploring wonderful parts of Europe and it was probably the very best time to do so, in the late 50s and early 60s before the tourist explosion had taken off, in their sports car, whizzing along mountain passes … no wonder they didn’t want us with them.

My mother hated extremes of temperature and so they always went at Eastertime, before it was too hot.  First, Wink and I were dropped off in Holland – Heaven knows how everything was fitted in the car because there were always requests for English food for our friends there.  Huib, our au pairs’ brother, particularly liked Hartley’s New Jam, I remember, so a boxful was taken for him.  They would certainly have paid for our keep generously, I know.

All the places they visited have blurred in my mind and I’m not even sure how many trips they took.  I remember them telling me about their visit to Rocamadour which was absolutely beautiful, with breathtaking views, and I think it was there that the snail incident took place.

They arrived at the hotel in the early evening, bathed and changed and went for dinner.  The hotel’s speciality was les escargots so that was what they had for their first course, and very good they were.  After dinner, they went for a stroll outside.  There was a nice little terrace, unlit except from the glow of the lights inside.  They crunched across the gravel to the balustrade and enjoyed the evening air.

Next morning, they looked out again.  There was no gravel.  Covering the terrace were thousand upon thousand snails, munching on the greenery thrown out to them by the kitchen staff.  It was a bit offputting.

Another story my mother told was of their visit to Rome.  They went into a shop to buy a lace mantilla as a present for a very religious Catholic friend, to wear to Mass.  They were startled at the very high prices for scraps of machine-made lace, but – well, when in Rome…  And then, in came a priest, who was greeted with great respect by the shopkeeper.  He produced a thurible and wafted it about, declaiming prayers – which I suppose would have been in Latin in those days, it was certainly still the days of the Latin mass. When he’d done, the shopkeeper opened the till and took out a wad of cash, pressing it into the priest’s hands with effusive thanks.  If my mother hadn’t been cynical about the Church until then, she was forever after.

They brought us back musical boxes from that holiday I remember, which they bought in Capri.  They were bowled over by the beauty of the Blue Grotto, less enthused by Naples, where they were startled to see people living in caves, in great poverty.  The other present they always brought me was a doll in national dress from each country they visited. I had them lined up on a shelf in my bedroom.  It didn’t make me as interested in the countries as visiting them might have, but there we go.



Z’s childhood – Malcolm and Jane on holiday

I’ve written about Simon, the first dog who came to us after we moved to Oulton Broad, some 18 months ago, but didn’t put the story in context.

My mother’s old dog Bobby died, soon after my fifth birthday.  I only remember him as very old and not very affectionate.  In fact, being blind, it was better to give him ample warning before you touched him.  But there was a huge hole in my mother’s life when he died.  When she married my father, she took little except her clothes, her dog and her Grandmother’s grand piano.

Since we were taking that 3 week tour of Europe in the Sprite only a few weeks later, it was agreed to leave getting another dog until our return, but the silence became unbearable for my mother and she phoned the RSPCA to ask if there was a dog in need of a good home.  And the next thing was, she went round to see Mr and Mrs Bagshaw of 19, Moyes Road and came back with a young mongrel.  He was so naughty that the elderly couple (probably about the age I am now, darlings) couldn’t cope.  He chewed everything.  All our towels gained patches in  the middle – it was never round the edges, only the middles that he chewed.  Why all doors weren’t kept shut is beyond me, but we just put up with it until he grew out of it.

My parents were wonderfully happy-go-lucky in those days.  They had more money than ever before – the hotel in Weymouth never really paid, all the summer profits were eaten up by winter expenses.  My mother said she sometimes couldn’t afford toothpaste and cleaned her teeth with salt. But once the hotel was sold and they moved into the house left them by my grandfather, they were pretty well off.  Wink and I were well past babyhood and they could please themselves, pretty well.

As I said yesterday, I remember little of the holiday except for Austria, especially Innsbruck, but Mummy’s main memory was the complete unsuitability of a two-seater sports car for a family holiday.  So the next year, they took us to The Hague, to stay with our au pairs’ family and set off on their own.

They did that every year for some time and their various trips have all become blurred in my mind.  There are a few stories that I remember, however and I’ll write them down to remind me in my dotage, assuming I remember how to turn the computer on by then.

Young Z in Austria

I’m so enjoying the Winter Olympics.  I have to admit, I have limited affection for the Summer ones, being a dedicated non-athlete.  But the panache of the fabulous athletes on snow and ice is a joy to watch and I have been watching every minute I can spare – and the highlights too, so that I can enjoy the best bits again.

I’ve written before about the long hard winter of 1963.  If it had just been a few degrees colder, that’s what the poor South West of the country would have had, rather than the floods – which wouldn’t feel better but actually would be; at least until the thaw.  On the whole, I was a moderate snow-lover.  One of my earliest memories is the holiday we took touring Europe when I was five years old.  Seeing the Austrian Alps was overwhelming and I cried – though I got over it.  There’s a photo somewhere of me sitting eating an orange, dressed in a Fairisle pullover.

This was our my father’s car in 1959, and we flew it over to Ostend, I think, from Southend.  In those days, you could fly your car over to Europe rather than take it by ferry.   I know we visited Belgium, Holland, France, Germany and Austria, but I’m afraid that it’s only Austria that really stuck in my childish memory because I loved it so much, notwithstanding tears at the first sight of so much snow – I think it was the blinding sun that did it.

The car was a two-seater and there were four of us.  I was five and I should think my sister had her eleventh birthday while we were away – it was the Easter holidays anyway and her birthday is mid-April.  I sat on my mother’s lap and a little platform was made for my sister to squat on in the middle behind and between the two front seats.  I suspect that my father and I were the only comfortable ones – I was a small, light child, but my mother said I grew heavier and more bony by the day.

I was such a cute little child, not unusually pretty but, with my long blonde hair and winsome expression, people were drawn to me.  We stayed at the Hotel Sport in Innsbruck – could this be it?  I’m not sure, I’d have to find a photo.  The staff were enchanted by this shy little girl and made a great fuss of me.  I don’t suppose we were there long, but I loved it.  I’ve never been back to Innsbruck since and am afraid to now – I don’t mean literally fearful, but an idealised memory from so long ago would surely be shattered – I don’t know, that looks silly, now I write it down.

The staff called me Alice – I’ve been known as Alice for much of my life; it’s the long blonde hair that does it, or rather did.  I had it cut off some 25 years ago and was able to go around incognito for a few weeks afterwards.  No one recognised me until I spoke.  The next year, our parents left us in Holland with our au pair’s family, and retraced their footsteps to an extent (more about that another day).  When they arrived at the Hotel Sport, they were greeted with indignation.  “Where’s Alice?!!”  They sent back a big bag of chocolates for me and Wink, which were delicious, except for the coffee creams, aka coffee slimes.  They stayed in the cupboard for months until someone finally threw them away.

Being prepared

Today, we were interviewing again, for an admin job.  There was a skillz test to start with, which only one person passed and so, since we need someone who doesn’t need a lot of training, that was the only person we interviewed.

I wonder why people turn up for an interview, thinking they can wing it?  Or not having read the job description?  I remember one time, it was a teaching job but there was a really vital additional role and that was what the questions focussed on.  Only one person expected that and the others floundered.  I don’t know a lot about it from that end, I must admit, having only had one job interview in my life, but I’ve been at the other end on very many occasions.   I particularly have liked taking part in interviews for teaching assistants, because we don’t feel constrained by past experience or qualifications.  It’s the person who feels right for the job.  I remember one young woman who cried when she was offered the job, because it was the first time in her life she’d been chosen.  When she thanked us, I told her that she had won it on merit, we weren’t being kind.

In today’s instance, the task wasn’t so very hard, though easy to get wrong or miss a stage – I know how to do the job on my computer and I’m entirely self-taught, nearly always by trial and a whole lot of error.  I’d not be confident on a modern version of Excel though – however, since it was specified, I’d have asked a friend to talk me through it and done some practice.  And that was the advice we gave in the debrief.  Our office jobs only come up occasionally and, though they’re not particularly well paid because the pay is pro rata*, we have a lot of applicants.

Yesterday, when there was quite a gale, I noticed Russell carrying a ladder.  I sped out to see what was going on, and saw what he’d already spotted: the roof of the summerhouse flapping. No question of doing a proper job at that time, it had to be weighted down with bricks.  And do I look the sort of Z who would let an elderly man shin up a ladder while I faffed about?  If you’re hesitating, darlings, the correct answer is no.  He passed the bricks while I clung on to the ladder and placed them.  Yes, this is the summerhouse that is to be dismantled and repaired, except we ran out of time during the summer.

Today, it’s been calm and sunny.  It isn’t a cold winter at all, few frosts and no snow here.  The west of the country had had awful gales and the south west has been badly flooded.  Here, less standing water than in a normal winter – the river is supposed to overflow, that’s what the flood plains are there for.  But it’s nowhere near the worst that I’ve known in a mere 27 years of living here.  Russell remembers the winter of 1944 – we’ve a picture somewhere of him standing in his wellies by floodwater to the garages – I’ve known this house since 1970 and that’s never happened since.  Mind you, the River Authorities are pretty good on dredging and maintenance.

*That is, schools have long holidays and, if you’re paid by the hour, you just get statutory holiday pay.  That effectively wipes out August.  The pay is equalled out so that you get an income every month, but it is not a full time job for support staff.  On the other hand, if you have young children, you can spend the holidays with them and not pay for childcare, which can pretty well wipe out a moderate salary.  Since we have high standards and very good training, there’s excellent opportunity for promotion, so we’re a popular place to work, despite the disadvantage of pro rata pay.

Young Z – London 1

My parents loved visiting London.  In the 50s and 60s, you dressed up for a visit and it was where all the good shops were found.  My mother had accounts at a number of them.  She was not an extravagant woman generally, but she loved nice clothes and both she and my father were enthusiastic about good food.  As a result, whilst many of my school contemporaries in deepest Lowestoft had never visited London, we went regularly.

My father’s grandparents lived in London and, after his parents’ marriage broke up when he was a small child, he went to stay with them until he was old enough to start boarding at prep school, which he did from a painfully early age.  I don’t know anything about his life there except that he developed a Cockney accent from spending much of his time in the servants’ quarters, which was (I speak euphemistically) *teased* out of him when he started school in Oxfordshire.  But he always felt at home in the capital.

The train journey from Lowestoft was a long one, because it stopped at all the little stations on the way to Ipswich.  I remember it as taking something like 2 hours, 45 minutes, compared to 2 hours from Norwich, though I suppose the track distance is much the same.  When Wink and I went with our mother, we tended to go shopping – occasionally we might go to Madame Tussauds (always pronounced firmly in English, ‘two-swords’, don’t make the mistake of saying it in French – unless you are French, I suppose, in which case you can’t help it) the Natural History Museum, the Planetarium or another child-friendly educational establishment.   Since I had little interest in clothes shopping, I trailed along quite cheerfully but with no great attention and don’t remember a lot about it.  Come to think of it, we probably ‘saw the sights’ when we had visitors with us, such as our au pairs.  Although I remember Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and so on, I’m hazy on when and why we went to such places.

When my father came too, lunch was more likely to be a focal point of the day.  We might have gone to a Lyon’s Corner House or to a grander establishment.  They were fond of the Trocadero before it closed in the mid 60s and I remember excitedly writing to my sister about a meal I’d enjoyed there – all I remember about the meal itself is a massive meringue, filled with ice cream, strawberries and cream.  I also remember the Turkish coffee waiter (perhaps it isn’t surprising that it folded in the end, having a specialist coffee waiter), a small dark man wearing a red uniform, complete with fez.  After serving the coffee (to be clear, he was Turkish and so was the coffee), he produced a sprinkler of rosewater.  One cupped one’s hands and he sprinkled the water, wishing you health, long life and happiness.  I didn’t have the coffee but I did get the rosewater and I remember rubbing my hands and sniffing deeply, to the amusement of my parents.  I was probably ten or eleven then.

No shopping visit was complete without a visit to Fortnum’s, where my parents would check out the latest foodstuffs, which they would have read about in the glossy food magazines (to be clear, the magazines were glossy, not necessarily the food) or might spot in the Food Hall.

I remember only one solo expedition with my father – we had all gone together but my mother had taken my sister shopping and I went with Daddy.  This was a huge treat, a real stand-out moment from my childhood as I didn’t often have him to myself.  I remember skipping along the pavement, hand in hand with him (to be clear, I was skipping, he wasn’t), avoiding the cracks in the pavement.  We went to an ice cream parlour, something I’d never have done with Mummy, and then to the cinema.  Astonishingly, for I had no idea that such a thing existed, it showed only cartoons and I wallowed in Walt Disney shows for a couple of happy hours.

Once in a while, we stayed for a couple of nights so that we could go to the theatre.  My parents did this fairly regularly, but it was a rare treat for me.  I remember going to see Camelot, with Laurence Harvey as King Arthur, Robert and Elizabeth, with Keith Michell and June Bronhill, Charley Girl, with Derek Nimmo – as you see, it was felt that musicals were most suitable for a child, though they weren’t children’s shows as such.  There were others, I know, my mother being very fond of Viennese operetta, Gilbert and Sullivan and Rogers and Hammerstein (especially Oklahoma) and we went to straight plays too, where I was introduced to Shakespeare in performance at an early age, but I can’t remember what we saw in London and what was in Norwich or elsewhere.

Maybe it’s because Z’s a Londoner at heart

I do enjoy my governor’s work and find it very interesting, though there are some aspects that I’ll draw a veil over, and have no immediate plans to stand down.  When I do – and I’ll put it this way: I’m now in my 26th year as a school governor and I don’t expect to reach 30 years – I want to choose what else to do, not agree to things I’d rather not do out of weak good nature.

I have visited London very little in the past year and I really miss it.  When Weeza lived there, it was lovely to have somewhere to stay for a couple of nights.  Usually, I’d go up on a Friday and have the day to go to an exhibition or a museum or two, then meet Weeza and Phil in the evening.  She would have booked at a nice restaurant, usually using Top Table to get a special offer, or maybe the theatre.  The advantage of London is good, cheap public transport, of course.  No need for a designated driver to stay wine-free, you can be out as late as you like and, with your Oyster card, bus and Tube are incredibly cheap (I’ve no idea if Londoners would agree with this, but they should try other parts of the country and think again).  On Saturday we’d do whatever we wanted, then an earlier meal and I’d come home that evening.  Although Sunday trains are cheap, for years the line to Norwich had work done every Sunday and journeys home were miserable, largely spent in a bus from one station to another.  This period seems to be over now, fortunately.

It was not that yesterday’s visit didn’t go well, and it was good to meet Russell’s friends.  I’d never met the first lady and we liked each other very much.  I’ll be very happy to drive him back there next week (it really does need the two of us, so that I can itemise the china while he describes and packs it), though I really don’t enjoy the journey down the M11.  However, I did miss being able to do anything at all that I’d have liked to do – which is hardly ever shopping, usually visiting art exhibitions or concerts.

However, one of the things I’d wistfully earmarked is a visit to see the Cheapside Hoard at the Museum of London.  I’ve never been to that museum at all and, I have to confess, I’d never heard of the Hoard, though it was discovered just over a century ago.  I’d half thought we might have an hour to spare, but there was no question of it.  But in yesterday’s post, there was notice of a visit organised by the local Nadfas, in early April.  I’ve sent off my booking at once, very pleased.  We’ll have four hours there, so quite long enough to see the museum as well as the exhibition.  And have lunch, of course.

I’ve rather lost track of what I meant to write about – which is what to do when I’ve got a lot of free time, whether it’s in a couple of years’ time or whenever.  And one thing is, I want to go to London a lot more.  In truth, I could never be happy living far from London.  I feel at home there.

I guess the roots of that are in my childhood, because my parents loved it too and we used to visit regularly.  And that will be a post for tomorrow, as long as I don’t over-think it in the meantime.




The train takes the strain

It’s been a long day – that is, I suppose the day was as long as it usually is, but it felt rather more so.

Russell had arranged to call on a friend in West Hampstead, who wanted to consult him about her collection of porcelain.  While he was in London, he thought he’d call on another friend in West Kensington.  I looked up how to get there, and from one place to another – and decided I’d better go with him.  Navigation isn’t his strong point any more and he’s never been entirely careful – he’d have to start by getting on a Metropolitan line rather than a Circle line train, which share the same track until they don’t any longer, at which time you have to get off, get a return train until you can mend your ways – oh yes, I’ve done this sort of thing too. And of course he could cope, I’m just protective because I’m a worrier.

We arrived at the station in good time, because I’ve been delayed on the road before now and missed my train by a whisker, got coffee and a toasted teacake for R and settled in the waiting room.  Five minutes before our train was due in, we went out – and the train was there.  Except it was the 9.17 train from Norwich and we were expecting the 9.47.  Turned out that there had been a fatality on the line at Brentwood some time earlier and the East Angularian line to Liverpool Street was buggered as a result.  We got on and after ten minutes the train set off.

The cautious announcement was that they did not yet know how far the train would go or how long the journey would take.  Some people had been on the train for an hour by now, having left Norwich at 9 o’clock.  At one stage, they said the train would terminate at Stratford (where there’s an underground and an overground line) but later they decided to press on to Liverpool Street.

Weeza has always said that most railway suicides happen on Monday or Friday, depending on whether it’s work or home life that’s most miserable.  At least the jumper has missed this week’s Tube strikes.  Who’d be a commuter, hey?

Anyway, all went well after that, though we had to be brisk.  R is dealing with the sale of the china and we’ll go down next week by car to fetch it.  We had to apologise to the other friend, who was all ready for a cup of tea and a chat, that we couldn’t spare long and it was jolly lucky that we allowed an hour to get back to the station, as we were on the train with less than five minutes to spare.  And Russell kindly said that he couldn’t have managed without me.

Ben’s former owner came in during the day to let him out into the annexe garden, which was very kind of her. And R poured me a glass of wine while I cooked a hasty meal, based quite heavily on some of the gammon left from the joint I cooked on Saturday.

I had to buy a new Oyster card, though.  Stupidly, I didn’t pin them back on the board where they should go and I could only find one of them.  Rather than spend ages looking, it was simpler to get a spare.  I’ll have put it in a perfectly sensible place, I just don’t know where.  What a twit – but it’s easily remedied and really hardly mattered at all.

I think I could relish another glass of wine.  Cheers, darlings.

Z thinks of spring

I haven’t got much done today.  I’ve felt overwhelmed, with no real reason – that is, sometimes this amount of pressure invigorates me, but today it’s just sat there and glowered.  So, since thinking and writing about it will only focus my attention and that’s the last thing to help, what else can I write about?  I don’t feel like delving back into childhood today and I’ve a feeling those reminiscences are becoming too bitty.

Vegetables, that’s it. Growing them, that is.  As I said yesterday, I’m trying to get the greenhouse ready before I leave for Wink’s, so that I can crack on as soon as I get home again – there’s no point in sowing seeds before then, too early outside and it’s not fair on Russell to give him the bother of checking on them.  Besides, I’ll miss the fun.  I simply love the whole business of sowing seeds, putting them in the propagator. checking daily – lifting the lid and feeling the humid air seep out, the little thrill when the first shoot appears, seeing them grow. pricking them out individually … I love everything about it.   What I’ve lost the love for, over the past few years, is the rest of the work., during the summer, but there it goes.  I keep on trying, hoping it’ll be rekindled somehow.

I really do need to grow just a little at a time, though that’s not in my nature.  Sowing a few seeds each week for succession is so very sensible.  Yes, I’m sensible at heart, I know it – but I’m not methodical, not in that way.

One year, when I was growing for Alex, I grew lots of early lettuce in the greenhouse.  I planted more outside and it worked brilliantly.  The indoor ones grew quickest of course, and I gave a bit of protection with cloches to some of those outdoors, and they were ready to pick at different times.  The only matter of timing is to be sure the greenhouse is free by the time tomatoes and peppers and so on are ready to be put in there.  I also find that early carrots work very well indoors, because there’s no risk of root fly.  One can deal with that for oneself, but it doesn’t go down too well when you’re selling the carrots.

The advantage of growing for Alex was that I could have several varieties of one vegetable.  I stuck with things that were easy to grow, didn’t tend to get pests, were popular or else unusual.  Swiss chard, for example, is brilliant – have the rainbow chard and people love the variety of colours.  I used to grow at least three sorts of french beans, pencil-podded, flat-podded and purple.  I always grow climbing beans because I hate grubbing about picking the dwarf ones.  But just for us, I don’t think it will be worth it.

Now, I can grow a wider variety of vegetables, even if I am likely to restrict myself on varieties.  Just enough for the two of us isn’t that easy – I did manage it last year, with the few items I did grow – peas, spinach, runner beans, courgettes, lettuces were what I put in the two beds, each not quite four foot square, that were all I had (apart from chillies and tomatoes in the greenhouse and squash in very big pots) – but that was too restricted.

I’m going to have to give it some thought.  It’s like cooking for two when you’re used to a family – you don’t always get the quantity right at first.  And I have to bear in mind that I hate weeding more than almost anything else.  I like to work hard and feel that’s it for a bit, I can forget about it and look after something else – but weeds take advantage of that sort of attitude and overwhelm the little plants while you’re not looking.

People are so nice…

Particularly people in shops in Yagnub.  It just lifts the day, doesn’t it?

I got up late, quite deliberately.  I had been out and about early every day this week and Saturday is my day off.  I woke a few times in the night but finally slept soundly until 9.15 and then I just stayed there until I felt like moving.

I spent a couple of hours in the first greenhouse, which is nearly ready for use now, though I’ve got a lot of pots to sort out for storage.  If you could do with any pots and can call in, do please let me know.  I have thousands, literally.  It goes against every instinct in my frugal soul to chuck them out.

After lunch, which was a very good soup made from home grown butternut squash – I’m down to my last two now – I went off to the Co-op.  I had a money off voucher if I spent £50, which is only too easy.  I bought me no booze, though I did buy cider for Russell and dog food for Ben, as well as dishwasher powder, which took me a long way to the total…anyway, there was a bit of a queue, two people ahead of me at the check-out.  The first woman hadn’t spent quite enough for her voucher and vanished – the cashier smiled apologetically, and we weren’t held up long (the woman bought a Flake, so it wasn’t much – 60p or whatever, to save £6).

When it came to my turn, I fished out my voucher, my credit card and my Co-op card.  She scanned in the first and third and told me my revised bill.  “You’ve got some money on your card, do you want to use it?”  It turned out that I had £52 in credit (these were from points over the last couple of months) and my bill was £51.81…it turns out there is such a thing as a free lunch.

When I’d filled my car – oh, I do hate diesel!  I have to fish out one of their free plastic gloves every time because the wretched stuff always makes my hand smell otherwise – I went to pay, and the young man at the kiosk was friendly and chatty, but in a very nice way.  So we had our little chat and, as I left, I heard him say cheerily to the next customer “How can I help you today?” which made me giggle, since it was a petrol station.

They were both such friendly and helpful young people, it really did cheer me.  Made my day, really.

February fill dyke…

…Fill with either black or white, and if with white so much the better….

Certainly with black, or at least a muddy brown, this year.  The only thing that could make it worse is if it were to turn markedly colder at this stage.  Some flooding has finally reached East Angular, though not quite enough to make me feel I can look the West Country in the face yet.  In fact, right here we are fine, though a few miles away there have been cars stuck in floods.

I am going to have to delve back into my memory again.  I have so much I’d like to say about school matters, but discretion has to rule.  I write blog posts in my mind, but that’s no good to me here – once I’ve said it, even to myself, I don’t need to write it down again.  As I’ve said before, that’s how I know I’m no writer.  If I have a letter or a speech to write, I’ll go through it time after time, working until it’s just right, but if it’s a blog post, spontaneity is all.  I might tweak a few infelicities once it’s published but, generally speaking, wysiwyg.

Speaking of wysiwyg*, I’m rather charmed to see that it’s accepted as a word and doesn’t come up as a mistake.  I was texting a friend this evening and discovered, because I was going to write lurve (love, ironically) that it wanted to autocorrect to luurve.  It was welcome.

Nails.  I’ve cracked the nail thing, I think, but they’re no stronger.  It’s just that I seem to be able to cope with living with a broken nail.  I just paint it over and ignore it, I’m too pre-occupied with other things to care, whereas I used to find it impossible to ignore.

IMG_2761 Enlarged as it is, it’s lamentably fuzzy, but you may be able to see that it’s split from the bottom of the picture up at quick level, and this is a week on from the spontaneous break.  If anyone has any bright ideas, I’d be happy to hear them.  I’ve tried nail strengtheners, nail hardeners, nail thickeners, nail varnish, bare nails (which is disastrous within minutes, even if I don’t do anything), creams and oils  and nothing really has helped.  Well, that is, it’s better than nothing, but not much.  And I do wear gloves, much as I dislike it, for gardening and washing up.


For EAL readers, what you see is what you get.