Monthly Archives: December 2009

Christmas 1969, 1970 and 1973

– which I’ll skip through briefly as there’s a whole year I still can’t bear to revisit. Christmas 1969 we all were really ill with Hong Kong flu. We tried to celebrate Christmas but we were all too ill. I can’t think why we felt it would cheer us to cook the usual Christmas dinner, but it went uneaten. A couple of weeks later, I carried the turkey and ham down to the Broad (a good couple of hundred yards, I had to do it twice, why on earth didn’t I use a wheelbarrow?) and chucked in the bad meat. We had an obscure feeling it would be too disgusting to ask the binmen to take away. We’d been unable to face dissecting and freezing the meat.

This would all be one of those “oh blimey, d’you remember?” occasions for cheerful reminiscence if it hadn’t been for the fact that, a month later, my father had a heart attack and died. Undoubtedly, the flu had been a strain on his heart. None of us was better by then. I’m not being peculiar in saying that the year only got worse after that. Repeatedly. When the Queen spoke of her “annus horribilis”, I’m afraid I thought “pah, you don’t know what horribilis is”.

Anyway, please let us not dwell on this any more – I’m only putting things in context, not wanting to depress you or me. The next Christmas, we decided to break with tradition, not because we couldn’t bear to do things in the old way any more, but because it meant we didn’t have to slog our way through a 20lb turkey for weeks – though doing different was probably a good thing too. We had beef instead, far more delicious, and had it at lunchtime. My mother mentioned (she really was quite a saint, I didn’t know she hated having to cook – and wash up – Christmas dinner in the evening) that it would be rather nicer to eat at lunchtime like most normal people did.

The thing is, ever since, I’ve felt free to dump a tradition if there isn’t a reason we want to keep it. It didn’t stop us forming our own of course, when the Sage and I had our own family, but nearly all of those have gone now. We used to spend the whole of December preparing, not in a frenzy of buying but in a very calm and happy way. I think that deserves its own post actually, because it was lovely. I wonder how much of it El and Al remember.

I’ll skip on a few years, to Christmas 1973. The Sage and I had been married since May, and Weeza was to be born the next April. I volunteered to cook Christmas dinner for the two of us, my mother and Wink. I can’t remember if Miss Fitt came too – probably, she was alone, aged 90 by then and was normally invited for Christmas.

The Sage, when I married him, lived in a large, 3-storeyed terraced house in Lowestoft, not on the seafront but only a couple of hundred yards from the beach. It was one of those houses that went back a long way and the kitchen was a long room with a scullery behind. The Sage had put in fairly basic units and a small second-hand electric cooker.

I decided to cook a goose. I was a pretty confident cook – my mother had always been a hospitable party-giver and food was pretty well the be-all and end-all of life. I made a Christmas pudding and cake as well, I think. I ordered the goose and went and bought a new roasting tin to put it in. I worked out my timings and prepared the vegetables. I pre-heated the oven and put the goose, pricked to let the fat run and on a wire rack so it wouldn’t sit in the fat, in its tin.

Which wouldn’t fit in the oven. Hmm.

Was I downhearted? Well, no, actually. I was quite resourceful when I was 20, remarkably enough. I cut two big sheets of aluminium foil, made a tray the size of the oven floor and an inch or so deep to catch the fat and put the goose on the rack. Halfway through cooking, I carefully folded down a corner to drain off some of the fat into a bowl, and all worked very well.

The Sage did the washing up. He was splendid.

I can’t remember what we gave each other for Christmas.

Z’s Presents

We were a small family – just my mother and father, Wink and me, and I only had one living grandparent. As I said yesterday, he sometimes visited for Christmas. But my parents had lots of friends and quite a few people gave us presents, most of them small ones as you’d expect.

You’d also expect me to remember more about what they were. Hmm.

I remember once receiving some paints, and the next evening, getting out paper, the paints and a pot of water and setting them up on Grandmother’s slipper-box (just a useful low square oak box on little turned feet) in the drawing room. I promptly knocked over the water. My mother helped me mop up and I fetched more water. I knocked it over. Remarkably, I distinctly remember her not being in the least annoyed or critical as she cleared up again. I fetched more water.

Yes. As you expected. I was a clumsy child.

At this point, my still-patient mother noticed that they were oil paints and I didn’t need water anyway.

Another present I remember, because I liked it very much, was a set of variously-coloured beads, each about the side of a pea, which came in a box with a board with holes in it that the beads rested in, so that you could make patterns and pictures with them. I spent a lot of time playing with them. They were less popular with my mother because they were made of red clay, and when one was trodden on it was quite some trouble to clear up. Again, I never remember being criticised for this and only know it because, in later years, my mother remembered them too as being a blessed nuisance. She was extraordinarily kind and patient with me and I was a dearly-loved child. But she was no pushover. Apparently, she retaliated the next year by giving musical presents to the donor’s children. Drums and a xylophone.

The presents I liked best were books, jigsaws, board games and sweets and chocolates. We hardly ever had sweets so they were a great treat. There was one selection called Weekend – it was a bit of a disappointment if I received that, as there were several in it that I didn’t like. I wasn’t too fond of plain chocolate either unless it had nuts in it, although I prefer it now, and I positively disliked the “creme” chocolates. I succeeded, in due course, in passing this dislike on to my own children, and these sorts of fillings are known as “slimes” to this day. Real fruit purée and cream fillings are a different matter, of course. I probably liked Dairy Box best because of the preponderance of hard centres, but Milk Tray was pretty good. I liked nuts, fudge, toffee and just chocolate. Oh, and Turkish Delight.

I liked painting and embroidery, but hadn’t an artistic bone in my body so was quite happy with painting-by-numbers, and I’m too much of a Philistine quite to appreciate how much this will make you shudder. I was completely uninterested in dolls and anything condemned as “girly”. I always received the latest Paddington Bear book. Oh gosh, books may make another post sometime. I was more than happy to get a book token. When I spent the token, there always seemed to be 6d over (that is, six real pence, a tanner, worth 2 1/2 New Pee, as they were called for some years in the 70s) and, since change was not given for book tokens, either a parent had to fork out for another book or you were given a Highway Code as that was the only book that cost 6d.

My parents weren’t into games at all, but my sister and I played (she must have been pretty tolerant of her much younger sister actually) board games a lot, and we played them with au pairs when we had them, and visiting children – my mother’s godson visited for several weeks in the summer. But I was always happy enough on my own as long as I had books.

Presents that didn’t go down so well included handkerchiefs – why give a little girl a box of hankies? Why? – and bath stuff when I wasn’t old enough to appreciate it. I liked cuddly animal toys as a small child. I’m finding it really hard to remember specific “major” Christmas presents from my parents. Maybe there were lots of small things?

Last night, I went to the carol service that I nearly got landed with playing with – it seemed the least I could do, to actually attend it (deliberate split infinitive there, btw, and I’m feeling pretty relaxed about the dodgy grammar too). It was lovely and, usefully, has also given me the title of my Christmas Day post, with the final lines of a little-known verse of a well-known carol.

Still very snowy and cold here – very unusual for snow to linger more than a couple of days in December. -4ºC at 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon. Don’t know what it was overnight. I’ve resorted to pyjamas. If it carries on much longer, I’ll be putting on the radiator in the bedroom which rarely happens.

Z’s Christmas

Have I ever told you about my childhood Christmases? Desperately anticipated, the day itself was always a bit less than it could have been. We had a large hall where the tree was put up. It usually reached the height of the banisters on the landing. It was put up sometime in the week before Christmas – my mother told us that, when she was a child the tree was decorated on the evening of Christmas Eve after she’d gone to bed so it looked surprising and wonderful the next morning. I thought that the pleasure of actually trimming it yourself was more than half of the enjoyment of it; she didn’t agree as everything that happened to her when she was a very small child was set in her memory as the best thing that could happen (her later childhood was by no means as pleasant, so it’s no wonder) – nevertheless, this was a tradition that didn’t carry on, probably because she would have been far too busy on Christmas Eve to decorate the tree.

I loved those decorations, but unfortunately, and I don’t know how it happened, they all got lost, broken or thrown away over the years and I haven’t got any of them. I wish I did, they’d mean a lot to me. I think that possibly when my mother remarried she thought that it wouldn’t be tactful to use them and remind my (beloved) stepfather of a time before he was part of the family.

We always had a massive turkey and a whole gammon, which were both cooked for Christmas Day. We had our main meal in the evening. I can’t remember what we ate the rest of the day. It took my mother the whole day to prepare the meal, even though the table had been laid several days previously and we’d eaten meals elsewhere – no, I can’t remember that either. Off our laps in the drawing room, on a small table in the study? The dining table was decorated with red and green satin.

When my parents’ hotel in Weymouth had been sold, they had bought Mr Dyke, the pastry cook, a guesthouse to give him a livelihood for the rest of his life. It was an outright gift, and in appreciation he used to send us a huge Christmas pudding and a beautifully decorated Christmas cake each year. It has to be said that these rich, yet strangely dry splendours were received with more politeness than enthusiasm. They were just so big, we could never finish them. The last of the cake was occasionally retrieved from its tin in December to make room for the next one, the rock-hard royal icing chipped off and the cake given to the birds.

There were four of us, my parents, Wink my sister and me, but we were never alone for Christmas. My mother gathered together several ladies who would otherwise be alone. There was Miss Fitt (honestly) and her sister Mrs Dare, who was blind, and Gwen Jago and possibly others. Sometimes, my grandfather came to stay too, from Weymouth – my father did a Father Christmas run, as we called it, to deliver presents and pick up the cake and pudding the week before Christmas

Presents were opened at noon – of course, everyone had had their stocking on waking up – although sometimes noon came late, depending on how busy Mummy was. After lunch, whatever that turned out to be, Mummy disappeared into the kitchen again for many more hours of cooking. I don’t know what took all that time. I’ve no idea. Surely, the turkey and ham pretty well took care of themselves for hours. I suspect she didn’t want to have to entertain the guests. My father certainly didn’t want to and took himself off, I don’t know where. But Mummy certainly was always working, she didn’t take the opportunity to nip upstairs and sit down with a book for an hour or two. The old ladies scored points off each other, each wanting to demonstrate that she had the best presents and was therefore favourite. My grandfather was gallant and polite to them all. My sister and I sat and watched Disney Time and whatever else was on television on Christmas afternoon. We never watched the Queen’s Speech. I’ve never seen it in my life. We tried not to hear the polite bickering going on the other side of the room.

At four o’clock, tea was brought in, and the cake was cut. Mr Dyke also made us a chocolate Yule Log, I’ve just remembered. That was nice, although I usually left most of the icing because I prefer cake to icing.

I seem to remember that, with practicality to the fore, the first course was simply consommé – tinned, with sherry added (this was not unsophisticated in the 60s). Entirely sensible, we all liked it, it was little trouble and it was light and didn’t spoil your appetite for the rest of the meal. Then came this turkey. It had sausagemeat stuffing in the neck end and chestnut stuffing in the cavity. There were bacon-wrapped chipolata sausages and all the usual vegetables. The gammon had been boiled in a huge pan and then taken out, the skin removed, the fat underneath scored in a diamond pattern , rubbed with brown sugar and mustard powder and studded with cloves and then it was baked for a final half hour or so. There were all the usual vegetables of course, and redcurrant jelly and freshly-made mustard, but no bread sauce. I liked the ham best. I ate a little of everything though – I was terribly good and always tried everything, though I was rarely able to clear my plate.

I say, I can make this last the whole week. Splendid. Believe it or not, I have rarely if ever reminisced to my children about much of my own life – it’s so jolly to have people who are willing to be victims of my vague memories

Z puts her feet up before they slip from under her

We’ve been decorating the church this morning. I walked home with a barrowful of clippings from the greenery that decorates the windowsills. Well, I walked home but I gave up on the barrow at the further end of the drive. The road was so slippery that I was tired with the effort of keeping upright at the same time as lifting the barrow handles. So I reckoned someone else could do the last bit.

In fact, though I had some shopping to do, I’ve decided I’m not going out again while it’s icy. The Sage has brought home veggies and most other things can wait – it’s rare for freezing temperatures to last more than a few days and I reckon that there’s plenty of time. So, having had the usual disturbed night, I’m going to put my feet up for a bit. Nothing to do? There’s loads to do. Don’t care. It will still be there when I’ve read the papers and maybe had a little nap.

Z relies on her iPhone

Well, things didn’t quite go as planned. I woke in the night – I assume it was about 3 or 4 o’clock, as it’s usually the time my hip wakes me, and there was a power cut. I dozed on and off until it started to get light, then slept until a bit before 8. The electricity was still off.

Not long after, Al rang from work to say that he had passed men working at the junction box, and hoped the electricity would come on soon. We live in the same road as the school – Dilly was sorry for Squiffany, as it would be the Christmas party day today, and if the power (therefore the heating) wasn’t on, the school would have to be closed. And so it proved. However, at least there was snow, if only a measly quantity. It was bitterly cold, although the sun was shining.

At least I could still read emails, so I dealt with them and then went off for a meeting at school. I’d had a phone call to say my hospital appointment was cancelled so I decided to go along to the end-of-term Pop Mime in the afternoon to take my mind off it. It was very jolly. Most entertaining. And 1000 pupils sat there applauding, cheering, singing along, no one got up, no one misbehaved, no one got out of hand. It was good-natured and all done in a good spirit.

I’d plugged my phone in at the shop so as to be sure I didn’t run low on battery power if the electricity was off all evening. I’d had to fish out radio batteries this morning – I’d had some of them so long in the drawer that they didn’t work. And when we did arrive home, it was still cold and dark. I started to prepare dinner while there was still some natural light, with the additional aid of a candle. And then, just as I was starting off the casserole, the lights came back on again. I’d filled the dishwasher – I had no intention of washing up in the dark, so was going to hide it all overnight and wash up if I had to in the morning – but I was glad I hadn’t bothered. I don’t care for unnecessary effort, not if it resembles housework.

Oh, and the Sage had his computer switched on before I did mine. After dinner, Ro phoned. The Sage picked up. “Are you still eating?” asked Ro politely. “No, I’m at the ‘pooter, of course,” replied his once-technophobe father.

I’m not teaching him how to blog. Not even for ready money.

What I would like, though, is to thank those splendid Electricity Board chaps who spend the whole of a freezing day clearing a fallen tree on the marshes off from the power lines and then working to reinstate the supply. They do a great job, whatever the weather. I remember once on Christmas Day we saw a couple of chaps in the garden – they were looking for the Old Rectory, where Alan and Sophie’s electricity had gone off halfway through the cooking of lunch, and they came straight out to put things right, never mind their own Christmas Day.

Z skips

I couldn’t take the pressure any more. I’ve “marked all read” – over 500 posts that I shall never read. Sorry, really I am, but as I kept trying to keep up with them, more came in. So many excellent blogs, you either have to delete one every time you find a new one or accept that you can’t take too many days off from reading them. I hope you didn’t write any of the deleted posts, I didn’t check whose they were.

Not that I’m anything but relaxed and cheerful, I just want to keep that way. We’re promised snow here – friends South of here say that it’s arrived with them, but we’ll see if we receive more than a sprinkling. I do appreciate a good snow, but it’s a little inconvenient. We have a long drive, with a bank and a hedge on one side, and usually the snow all gathers on the drive in a big, 100-yard-long drift. Many’s the time we’ve had to dig ourselves out. One year, there was a snowfall with a strong wind attached. All the snow in the village congregated in our drive. Friends walking past on the barely-whitened road stopped and had to hold each other up, they were laughing so hard at the sight of us with our shovels when everywhere else was clear. Chester (my late and still much-lamented dog) adored snow and used to dig tunnels through it. He ended up with clods of it, frozen hard, on his leg “feathers” and between his pads. If I didn’t clear it quickly, he melted into the carpet and left puddles on the floors.

Which reminds me. Tilly disgraced herself yesterday. I went to sit on the sofa after dinner to make more holly wreaths and something was wrong. I felt cold and clammy. At some point in the day, Tilly had been caught short and had not bothered to make a bolt for the door, as they say, and had Done It Right There. Fortunately, there was both a throw and a rug which had caught most of it (there for frequent washing, as the covers are so old that they can’t be washed too many more times without disintegrating entirely). There’s no excuse for her. She hadn’t been left alone for long at any time, she doesn’t normally have problems of continence and in any case, if an accident had been inevitable, I’d rather it had been on the floor, frankly. At least then I wouldn’t have sat on it.

I’m sitting looking at a pile of ordered stuff that’s been turning up over the last couple of weeks, that I haven’t got around to opening. It always seems a trial, this bit, checking it all against the orders, making sure it’s all there, then being responsible for ensuring I don’t forget where I’ve put it between now and Christmas. Yes, I know it has to be done. Of course it will be. Any time today. Well, not between quarter to two and half past five.

I’ve got a bit of spare time now, haven’t I?

Ah, saved by the incoming email.

Oh. It seems that a meeting I’ve committed myself to is on 19th March. In Bury St Edmunds, which is nearly an hour’s drive from here. This is fine, except I don’t know if I’ll be driving on 19th March.

Do you know, I don’t believe I’m going to think about it for a while yet. I shall prioritise.

Right. Still only quarter past one. I shall open parcels.

Ooh, update at 20 to 2. How interesting. I’m not at all sure whom I’ve ordered some of those for. I really should have made a note. And I managed to order two copies of the same book in one parcel.

Still, at least I know I have something for everyone now, even if some of the family are going to be more surprised than they expected.

The day improved – or, Christmas has come early for the Sage

I had a rotten night. I was woken every half-hour or so by the soreness of my hip. There was no reason that I could think of. At about 4 am, I found I couldn’t get to sleep at all any more and shifted uneasily. Eventually, I found a pillow to put between my knees, which made me more comfortable, but by then I was wide awake. So was the unfortunate Sage.

I may have mentioned before that my husband is absolutely saintly. He assured me I hadn’t woken him up (not true) and that he couldn’t sleep either (true, but only because I’d thoroughly woken him). He cuddled me affectionately, which rather woke up both of us (ahem) and I finally went to sleep half an hour before the alarm went off.

You’d think, wouldn’t you, that my hip would have given me gyp today? It’s been fine. I’ve strode like a Colossus, sort of. I went out to a lecture plus coffee morning and saw lots of friends, which was lovely, and then went to Ro’s office – well, I stopped outside Ro’s office in an “it’s not illegal if you’re picking up or dropping off” way to fetch the Sage’s Christmas present. Then I went to visit Weeza and Zerlina. I haven’t seen them for a little while, as they have been visiting Phil’s family.

So the day went in a very jolly manner. The Sage is already getting proficient in using eBay on his new laptop. Since I pay his bills (I didn’t plan this very well) I am glad that he is happy. I have sent his new email address – actually, it’s an old email address that he’s never used – to our children so that they can distract him from buying more stuff by writing to him. I’m not sure it’s working so far. However, his happiness is my sole aim and ambition. And mine is his, when it comes down to it.

Things are improving, regarding Sunday. I was firm about not being able to learn the accompaniment for the singer, but also for it being a priority, and someone else, a very excellent organist (I am not, I am rubbish, honestly, I can hammer out a tune and nothing more. I am not being modest. I usually can’t even be arsed to use my feet, mostly because then I tend to forget my left hand) has agreed to come straight on from another service and play for her. I wrote to thank her and she’s said she doesn’t mind playing for the whole service. Not being one to go above the head of the person taking the service, I’ve run the offer past her and am awaiting a reply, but I an so grateful. People are so lovely. Never, as some do, prefer pets to people because a pet won’t let you down. Pets, which I would not willingly live without, know no better. People choose to help. Sometimes, because they are diffident, you have to show that you are vulnerable and need help. This is the main lesson I have learned in the past few years.

‘Course, it helps that anyone can see I’m pretty useless and that this makes them itch to put me out of my misery.

The headmaster would call that a display of my dry sense of humour. Heh. We know otherwise.

Nobly, nobly

On Thursday, we headed west. We stopped first at Lagos (short a, and s at the end of a word is pronounced sh). Mostly, we walked up a steep hill and then walked down again. And when we were up, we were up … you get the picture. When we reached shore level again, we stopped for coffee. All the strong black coffees I was drinking gave me a permanent caffeine buzz.

We continued to the fort at Sagres. This is built on the spot where Henry the Navigator had his school of navigation back in the 15th century, and where he died. Wink and the Bod left me near the entrance while they went to park the car. I was so enchanted by the view that I forgot to be limpy and scampered over the rocks to the cliff edge.

It’s a wonderful place. I loved it. We went into the fort, which doesn’t contain much, which suited me quite nicely. We went into the chapel and the inevitable gift shop, and to a room where there was a DVD showing about Henry. He was a self-contained man with no apparent vices but an immense curiosity about places he couldn’t see. I took him to be brave, uncomplaining and stoical, with no reason to know if this is true, but as they are qualities I respect (well, what’s not to?) and I liked the bleak place he chose as his home so much, I wanted to admire him.

My photos are all a bit samey, I’m afraid. I wasn’t making a record of the visit, just snapping away at the view. If you’ve been there you’ll know what I mean. If not, do go. It’s not crowded at the beginning or end of winter, but I think the atmosphere would hold even in the main tourist season. There was a red beetle I rather liked on the sandstone step, but I can’t see it now. But it’s nice stone, so let it stand.

Then we drove to Cape St Vincent. Until quite recently, you could walk around the lighthouse, but now it’s all barred off by a stern gate. It wasn’t as memorable a place as Sagres, therefore, but incredibly moving to know that it was the tip of Europe, that when I looked one way there was nothing before America and nothing the other way until Morocco. And the cliffs were spectacular. There were fishermen below, on ledges in the cliff.

It was windy but not cold – there’s a cliff-top path between the Cape and Sagres, but I have to say I’d not fancy it, even in less blustery weather. But I am a timorous and lazy Z.

Z has a better day

Whoops. Sorry darlings, I found a whole lot of junk comments and a couple of real ones in Blogger dashboard and I accidentally pressed publish instead of delete. I’m such a fool. Actually, I was quite impressed that Blogger had picked up so many. Now they’re all in my inbox. And in yours, if you commented on that post. I apologise. It won’t happen again. I did like the person who enquired where a unicorn might be bought. I’ve explained that buying unicorns isn’t possible, they just happen.

You were most kind today, and especially for being quite robust and recognising that I was just reacting to momentary pressure. Someone asked me tonight if I’d been nervous delivering my speech – I said that I hadn’t been, but had had a bit of a moment the previous night – being notoriously efficient, I even get my nerves over and done with in good time.

It was the fault of Word though. I went through it carefully again today, and I was doing the right thing, it just wasn’t recognising it. So in the end, I changed the default to A5, which worked, and then back again to A4. Which has broken the deadlock. It had been telling me A4 but not showing it.

I came to my senses and decided that the speech was more-or-less okay, read it out loud a few times, tweaked and then printed. Any other changes were ad libs. I do love an ad lib or two, but you have to be careful if the talk is otherwise written out. It was okay, I think it was pitched as it should have been, and I got a spontaneous chuckle out of the headmaster (who says I have a dry sense of humour; actually I just tell the truth and he doesn’t quite believe it) and a few friendly ripples from the audience. I addressed much of it to the students, because it was their night, The guest speaker, who is a young man who is a former pupil, was absolutely brilliant and he’s been snapped up to give a presentation at an assembly next term. I wish he lived locally, I’d make him be a governor. He’d be hard work (to keep up with, I mean) but completely inspirational.

This afternoon, I had a phone call from the hospital offering me an appointment with the consultant on Friday afternoon. I accepted of course – I’ve been told that the wait for a private hip isn’t much shorter than an NHS one. I will hope that they will appreciate someone who is willing to stump up Hard Cash rather than go through private insurance (which surely pays up slower? Cash On Delivery is fine by me, we’ve been saving up) and not keep me waiting too long. I need to be right by 30th April, otherwise I’m going to have to wait until I’ve got time again, which won’t be until late July. Life isn’t easy for a control freak, however relaxed she is.

Oh, that reminds me, the Headteacher put on his reading glasses and found that he couldn’t see properly. After a panicked few moments (I understand this, it happened once to me with my driving glasses before I had a contact lens and your eyesight goes all blurred, worse than wearing no glasses at all) he realised a lens had dropped out. Unperturbed, he promptly fished out a spare pair. I respect that, as a belt, braces and good old Norfolk bailer twine girl.

Haven’t quite got the carol service thing sorted, but I’ve made a few Useful Suggestions and I hope things will be cobbled together, whether I play or not. I’ve made it clear that I haven’t time to learn the accompaniment to the soloist and do her justice. I really could have done without some of the emails and phone calls, but it was better got out of the way.

I need to crack on with Christmas shopping. I haven’t written a single card yet either. Mostly, I won’t. Thank you for the cards I’ve received, I will respond but your card might be late. Sorry, if so. Ideally, I’ll do it on Thursday, but this might be a bit too late.

Tomorrow, you might well get photos of Cape St Vincent. Unless I’m a bit wired or something. Maybe a glass of wine would help?

Z isn’t having a good day

Oh dear. Something of a breakdown in arrangement for one of the villages’ carol service and they seem to have lost their guest organist and choir. I agreed to stand in, but then discovered there is a young and talented singer who has agreed to sing a solo. Her mother has just sent me the music and there’s no possibility of me learning it this week. I would wing it if I could, but there are limits even to my bravado. I’ve emailed the mother and the Rector, separately, to tell them so, and I hope the difficulties with the organist can be ironed out.

I’ve been spending most of the evening cursing Word, which refuses to do what it normally does and is cheerily putting up new documents that are the usual width but only 3 inches deep, or long, or whatever you want me to call it. It assures me it’s A4, but it isn’t. Someone emailed me a document that was a peculiar size and now it’s taken it as the norm and I can’t find out how to change it.

I’ve decided I don’t like the speech I’ve written and now I’m too tired to rewrite it. I’m going to bed now (I’ll backdate this as it’s still Sunday until I’ve gone to bed, but actually it’s half past midnight. I’ll go to sleep and then wake an hour or two later and worry for the rest of the night, because that’s the unhelpful thing one does, isn’t it?

I’m playing the organ for a funeral on Tuesday. I rather hope I’ll be told what the hymns are tomorrow. Not that I expect to have time to practise them tomorrow. I trust that they will, at least, be ones I know. I rather hope they won’t be any of the ones I hate (All Things B & B, in particular) but at least, if they are, I can rattle them out with my eyes shut.