Monthly Archives: July 2007

Z sees the Nobs, as well as Silver Threads

Today, Dilly and the children and I went to the Sandringham Flower Show. This part of Norfolk is where the smart people live (Nobs, not Knobs, of course). Indeed, Charles and Camilla (as we Yobs familiarly refer to them) were driven in their horse-drawn carriage a mere three yards from us. They looked very fine.

Despite a couple of rainy spells, it was a most jolly day and we had fun. I particularly appreciated the fact that the flower and produce was of usual local growers’ standard and not absolutely professional – this splendid effort notwithstanding. It was a little windy by the time we were ready to leave. As Squiffany was climbing into the car, she suddenly decided a final visit to the lavatory was necessary. While they were gone, I looked in the mirror.

Something of a mistake. But worse was to come, when I combed my hair and looked closer

Oh, bum.

Doesn’t ‘holiday’ suggest ‘fun’?

I went to buy a couple of cards – birthday card for Ro and congratulatory card to friends who’ve recently had a baby – and in came a tall thin well-spoken woman, loudly apologising for her noisy child. She had a quiet little girl with her. As I left, the same woman had gone outside and was telling her daughter, who looked scared and shocked, to “Stay THERE and be GOOD and keep an eye on HIM.” By the wall was a small boy with vivid red hair, straight and rather long with a pelmet fringe. His mouth was wide open in a soundless wail and both front teeth were missing.

I felt sorry for the whole family. The summer holidays have only just started and the tether is already stretched to its endurance. Still six weeks to go.

Z has wheels

Mark was, in person, as helpful as he’d been on the phone. We went in and the Sage said “We’re the ones whose car had all the problems.” You might think, in a garage, that this was not quite enough clue, but he knew us at once, greeted us and fetched the car key – which he gave to me – and the invoice, which he took us through and explained to us (we’d had them do a full service while they were about it). He still pitched his manner at the right level of friendliness without familiarity or subservience. I managed not to put my foot in it this time, though I suspect he already had my measure.

Ro came with us (he’s got some time off work) and he and I went to the cinema afterwards. As we arrived home, the Sage greeted us with “Excellent timing. Dinner’s just ready.”

Today, it’s Ro’s birthday. His present should arrive – I bought him a Wii, as I think that no one should be too old for toys. Also, I rather want to play with it myself. Squiffany is planning a party for him this afternoon. We suspect there will be balloons and pass the parcel as well as a gaudily iced cake.

The postman has just arrived (he won’t be bringing the Wii, which is coming by courier). I heard him say, to Tilly, “Morning, sweetheart, good girl.” I heard her crunch a biscuit.

Z was too familiar

Oh dear, I’ve just embarrassed myself. Again.

Mark from the garage just rang to say my car will be ready today. As we’d asked, they have given it a full service as well as the head gasket repair. I asked the price. £1,235.81. “Actually,” I told him, “I’d steeled myself for more.”

I then thanked him for his helpfulness throughout all this – praise is more important than blame, I think, when it’s due – and then I said “Right then, see you later, love.” I bit my tongue in dismay. It was a business conversation, dammit. I don’t even know the lad. I may call you all by (richly merited, you lovely people) endearments, but this is entirely different. And I don’t have the sort of voice that sounds as if I call everyone “luv” or “darlin'”

At least I didn’t say ‘dear heart.’

I will dress in a business suit and look sensible and proper when I go in, and perhaps he will think he misheard me.

Just Another Sunday

I had a phone call at 8 o’clock this morning to say that G wouldn’t be able to do coffee this morning (which was fine, I took milk and biscuits, set it up and then nobbled a helpful person to take over) as she was over at the hospital with her mother.

This is a lady in her late seventies, who has been waiting for an exploratory operation since November. She still hadn’t been given a date, but was increasingly in pain. Following a fall when she broke her hip a year or two back, she is a bit frail anyway. Last week, G rang to ask if there was any way of bringing the op. forward. “Well, she could go privately…” “How much?” “About £1,500.” They decided to go for it, and on Tuesday were invited to come in this Sunday at 7.30 am.

In the event, G’s mum was in such pain at 5 o’clock that she took her in early, which was the reason she felt that her stint on the coffee rota was just one job too much, and she was right.

Of course, they made the right decision for her mother’s health – and, in addition, she knows that they value her sufficiently to make it. But I thought that waiting lists were supposed to have come way down. Now the operation has taken place, will it be counted as a target that has been met? Or will it disappear altogether from NHS figures? I know a good many people who have given up waiting and paid out for procedures that should have been carried out on the NHS – I would not be at all surprised if they were included in the ‘success’ figures.

The reason I don’t like these targets is that they encourage fudging and fiddling. I see it too often.

Food to prepare, this afternoon, for a ‘do’ at one of the neighbouring parishes. Little canapé-ish stuff. I always think that, if you make it look pretty (and taste nice, of course), you can get away with really simple stuff.

Later – Sadly, having taken the photos, I plugged the camera into the computer, which promptly crashed. I unwisely unplugged the camera before turning it off, which means I have lost all the photos (including some from the festival which I hadn’t got around to downloading). Sorry. The canapés were very nice, though, and so was the do.

Z never learns…well, she forgot the lesson again

There came a day, when I was 38 years old, when I looked in the mirror and realised that I was too old to go without make-up, unless I cared to risk being handed a bell and a sign saying ‘unclean’ by someone who thought I had a dreaded disease, rather than just looking like this naturally. So, ever since, my mornings have started with a few minutes being spent putting on some slap – usually in quite a casual fashion, for I’m content with a general cover-up and don’t expect miracles.

Occasionally, however, this transformation from scary to mere old bag doesn’t happen first thing, and this always proves to be a mistake.

Today, for instance, I did this and that, read a few blogs, answered an email and wrote another, wrote the last post (migraine gone, by the way, thank the Lord- and the chemists, of course – for M1gr@leve) and finally, around 10.30, went to wash my hair. I was just smearing moisturiser on the boat race when a car drew up.

That’s it. Whenever I don’t present a reasonable face to the world, someone calls. I dragged a hasty comb through the wet hair and went to answer the door. My friends recoiled in horror momentarily, but recovered their poise quickly, and Tilly came to my aid by playing in a most friendly fashion with their two little children.

After they left, I went straight to rectify matters and now have painted on a smile and a complexion. My hair is a bit beyond redemption, having half-dried pointing the wrong way, but no matter. It’s the face that frightens people the most.

Not much happening

Unwisely, I started the day with some intricate work* on the computer, forgetting I hadn’t put in my contact lenses ad so had to squint myopically and it gave me a migraine. I used to get them quite often and tried all sorts of ways of staving them off – I knew when I’d been overdoing it and so didn’t eat citrus fruit, chocolate, drank no alcohol, tried to get more sleep but not too much – avoided the traditional triggers, sometimes with success and sometimes not. Now, I know that most of the cause, for me, was tension and tiredness and I’m very laid-back at this stage of my life, so they rarely happen. Patterns of moving objects can do it though (I have to be careful around water and sunlight) and this is the cause this morning. Best to just pop a couple of pink pills and keep going, so I’ll ignore it and it will go away.

I sat down to write last night and realised that nothing interesting had happened. Still hasn’t. We’re not flooded, and now the sky is blue, though it looks a bit breezy. My sister was supposed to come to visit this weekend, but couldn’t make it in the end – just as well, yesterday was not the best day to travel. The Sage’s sister arrived home by train on Thursday evening – the same train line she had been on was impassable by last night.

Next weekend, I’m going to London – just for the Friday night. Visiting my little girl and her lovely husband. We’ll have a nice meal at wherever they have booked (no trouble finding good places to eat in their neck of the woods) and spend Saturday together.

And, before then, we have an anniversary and a birthday. On Monday, it’ll be the 21st anniversary of moving here – coming home, as far as the Sage is concerned. Have I ever told you that this is the house he was born in? His parents bought it the year after they were married, in 1928, and lived here for the rest of their lives.

On Tuesday, my younger son Ro will be 23. Which is why I remember the day we moved – I’m not big on commemorating dates, but we can’t forget that one.

My eyesight has cleared and no headache has started yet. Maybe I’ll get away with it.

*You are so polite. I put ‘word’ this morning and no one has mentioned it. How intricate does a word have to be, to bring on a ‘pattern of moving objects’-caused migraine.
Maybe you are as unobservant as I’m a bad typist?

Credit where it’s due – even if you want to pay up

I phoned the car recovery service at 7.30 this morning and, as promised, a breakdown lorry arrived within the hour to take my car the 20 miles to the garage. Cheers to the Co-operative Insurance Service and their Road Rescue Plus cover, where the call centre people are helpful and friendly and, usually, have lovely Manchester accents, and where the service is prompt and efficient.

Unfortunately, the car is a bit buggered and will be very expensive to fix. However, that is not to fault Holden Motors in Norwich, where Mark has phoned back when he promised and they are instilling confidence in me, as well as a new gasket and other things in the car.

I am being philosophical. The car did not break down in the middle of heavy traffic, nor miles from anywhere. No one is injured and the money is in the bank, even if we would prefer to spend it on other things. Apart from a few phone calls, it has required no effort from me or the Sage. Everyone has been helpful.

This evening, the Sage rang the local strawberry grower to order tomorrow’s strawberries. “I’ve got a pocketful of money for you from Al” he said. “Will you be there tomorrow morning?” “No”, replied Tim. “I’ll be too busy. No problem, it’s as good as money in the bank.” Al owes him nearly £1,000 already and it will be well over that by the time Tim is available to be paid. A reputation like that is not easy to win and I feel a mother’s pride…

*Vroom, vroom, cough, cough, pfffftt*

Have I mentioned? – I don’t think I’ve mentioned that my car has been giving a little cause for concern recently. My daughter and son-in-law borrowed it, the Sunday before last, to go to Norwich. When they arrived home, they said that it had overheated and had cut out on the Chicken Roundabout, a mile from home.

We let it cool, put in a few pints of water and have been keeping an eye on it. It seemed okay.

Yesterday, we put in a litre of water. Today, I went to Norwich and, when I came home, it took two litres. Hmm.

We phoned the garage (in Norwich) and booked it in for tomorrow morning. I rang a friend and arranged for her to pick me up to take me to my lunch engagement afterwards. As I put the phone down, the Sage came in. “I’ve just put in another three pints. I’m not sure it should be driven. Whatever the problem is, another twenty miles could do a lot of damage.”

We rang the garage again and asked how much they would charge to pick it up. £100. But did we have breakdown cover? Yes! I had forgotten, but I have. But was it for roadside breakdowns only? I rang to ask. Lord love them, for a mere £54 per year, it includes picking the car up from my home. Arrangements have been made (including ringing another friend to fetch me from home) and all people I have spoken to have been lovely and helpful and, if actions are as good as words, I will give full credit tomorrow.

Oh, and on another subject entirely, I told you about the assembly I went to yesterday – one of the teachers referred to a sponsored run he and his wife (who is the SENCO* at the same school) did on Sunday for the Stroke Association. He was proud, not so much that he ran the marathon, but that his wife Mickey actually ran it twice. She just kept on running and went on for 52 miles and *however many* yards.

Today, I had a meeting in the Learning Support Department (for I am SEN governor). After my meeting, I said to Mickey “What did you do at the weekend?” She said “Oh, I, er, did a run.” I made her tell me about it. And asked if she was accepting sponsorship (she’ll have found out from Clinton this evening how I knew). And I asked her to accept my contribution.

But, though she was pleased to receive it, I had intended to give her a tenner. But, when I looked in my bag, I’d got 3 pound coins and a £20 note. I thought about it. I even thought of giving her a cheque. Better nature took over, I’m glad to say.

52 miles. Blimey. I still run lopsided – indeed, sometimes I walk lopsided. Not as badly as if I had a stroke, however. Good for you, Mickey and Clint.

*Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator