Monthly Archives: April 2013


I’m overcome with tiredness after a nearly sleepless night, a busy day and having been pulled over by Ben painfully enough to warrant painkillers which, taken rarely, are all the more effective for that. I’m sitting on the floor, he’s sitting on my lap. All is harmonious but I must go to bed.

I’ve several postsworth in hand, too. Still, most of them will remain unpublished.

Tomorrow, loves

Zoë xxx

Sent from my iPhone

So, the worm has turned.  Not that I was ever a worm, but I give every chance before I become Assertive Zed (if you think of me as Zee, do carry on, but Zed it actually is).  Ben pulled me over yesterday and he pulled me over again today.  That’s enough.  Back on his Halti, though I quite understand why he hates it and will talk to Val at the pet shop tomorrow to see if there’s an alternative.  But my arm hurts, or rather the muscle behind my right shoulder, which I think is the deltoid but can’t be bothered to check, and my left hip hurts because I landed on it twice, and am grateful that it’s not my right hip that is made of china, so more easily breakable.  I’ve taken Nurofen and a whole lot of wine and am feeling tough.  Not on my own behalf, I’m a sweetie and very easy-going, but on Gill’s.  Oh, and I’ve a graze and a rope-burn on my left hand too.

Ben is a lovely dog, but he isn’t trained to my standards, and be assured that my standards are low.  Come when you’re called in your own time, don’t pull hard on the lead, don’t steal food, and know the boundaries of our land and don’t go beyond them unless it’s just too tempting.  Don’t be aggressive towards children, don’t chase chickens, recognise I’m the boss when things get edgy.   Oh, okay, not that low … the thing is, within that, do whatever you like – I’m talking about a dog here, a friend or a  husband or whatevs, there’s no question of boss.  There, you’re right until the moment I say I am right.  Then I’m right.  But a dog can do anything within those parameters, but if he steps outside I’ll be quite annoyed.

I didn’t ever say, but at the last Nadfas outing to the Manet exhibition, Angie, Sue and I – the three last chairmen – were together and talked about the collective term.  I said an assertion of chairmen.  Angie said a delegation.  Heh.  If you talked to us, you might put it the other way round.  But evidently not.  

Sunshine? Warmth? Is it time for Z to spend a whole day indoors sorting things out?

Big Pinkie is here!  Her arrival is a harbinger of Spring of course, but the joy wasn’t quite as unalloyed as usual, because she had fallen down in the trailer, or possibly sat down for a little rest, and she and the other two cows had christened it exuberantly: in short, Big Pinkie was covered in shit.  So of course I got a bucket of warm soapy water and a sponge to give her a wash-down.  Sadly, she didn’t appreciate this and after a few minutes she swished her tail and walked away.

I changed my top and sponged down my jeans.  They weren’t very much splashed.

I’ve been busy today, taking books through to the annexe.  We’re having our internet connection upgraded on Monday and, if it reaches through there as I jolly well trust it will, I’m going to have my study in there.  In any case, it will be furnished – the annexe, that is – and books furnish a room.  I do have a couple of rooms here without bookcases admittedly, but they’re dining rooms, so I hope that’s okay – anyway, I’ve put a couple of hundred or so books in the annexe sitting room, which makes a start at least.  That almost empties one bookcase, which is to go into the study.    If the Sage has his way, a few thousand will go through there.  The only other thing that has gone through so far is my music stand, that he made for me for my 40th birthday – it’s walnut and has a brass thingy that means you can put it up and down and is lovely.  It’s one of the several good presents he has given me over the years, though I asked him for it, admittedly.  He’s not very imaginative, present-wise, though he can do well if he’s told what to buy (especially if one of the children does the shopping for him).  While I was doing that, I was sorting things out, as one does, and found various things, including a framed photo of me playing the clarinet at the village school Saturday music club end-of-term concert, that I really didn’t enjoy taking part in at all, but did to encourage the children (yes, I was the only adult pupil), where I looked solemn, puffy-cheeked and really quite hairy.  That is, my hair was short then (my music teacher gave the picture to me for my fortieth birthday)  but it was really thick and rather blonder than it is now.  I think I’ve got a better haircut now, I have to say.

It having been sunny and warm, I went and cleaned the clothes line and put it to good use.  Three washes are dried, another is out there and a fifth still in the washing machine.  I only do the washing once in a while, when I can group things together according to colour and material, which needs good timing to line-dry them successfully.  But it usually works out.  Today, being warm and sunny with a reasonably robust breeze, was perfect.

I know, you come here for information on my laundry.  Or maybe not.  Sorry.

The other big news of the day is that Squiffany won another gymnastics competition.  Isn’t she splendid?  Here’s the trophy.

I don’t know that she did that, though.  Looks a bit tricky.  
Oh yes, the other things I found were books – well, obv, but I mean I hadn’t realised where they were.  The copy of Pilgrim’s Progress that I unwisely slogged through at the age of 8.  Squiffany is 8 now, perhaps I should try her on it.  And A Cambridge Childhood, by Gwen Raverat, that my mother gave me when I was a child – not my copy though, which was softback with a pink cover – I haven’t seen it for years but remember it clearly, having loved the book and read it several times.  I’m rather charmed to discover that she owned it herself (in a different edition) but liked it enough to buy it for me too.
I found many books that I want to read or re-read, but I’m finding it hard to give time to books, for the first time in my life.  Yet another indication that it’s time for change.
42 spam emails today (and one that wasn’t but was deleted accidentally with the rest).  I may have to turn on wv again soon, I’m sorry.

Z winds down and makes plans

1 I’ve just counted the spam comments received so far today – 31.  And it’s not 4 o’clock yet.  Why on earth do they do it?  Not one of them is published, they all go in the spam folder.

2 Doing some strategic planning.  Not that I’m thinking far ahead generally, far too depressing.  Just in a specific area.

3 The sun is shining but I’m skulking indoors.  I fell asleep after lunch, though not for long – ten minutes or so is enough.

4 I came in the room this morning to find Ben sitting in the Sage’s armchair, looking relaxed and pleased with life.  I was in a hurry to go out and didn’t argue with him but left him there.  I trust he doesn’t try this sort of naughtiness when he goes home.  I love having a lapful of dog to cuddle, mind you, when I have a dog it will be allowed up.  And dog hairs on clothes are fine, what’s the problem?  The day I have an immaculate home will be when I’m old, unloved and have nowhere near enough to do with my time.  Not that I believe this applies to everyone of course, it’s all a matter of priorities and what makes one comfortable.

5 The Sage is out doing a valuation in Lowestoft.  Apart from taking the dog for a walk, I’ve had a lovely peaceful time getting on with stuff on the computer and listening to music.  Mozart and Prokofiev so far this afternoon.  And now I feel like listening to the piano.  I’ve not listened to enough music of late.

Fish and eggs

1 I have my car back.  The borrowed Fiesta was perfectly nice to drive, but ordinary cars are so low down, I feel as if I’m sitting on the road.  I think having a landrover has spoiled me for anything else.

2 In a letter to Martina last night, I used the phrase ‘storm in a teacup.’  She queried it – apparently, down her way, it’s ‘tempest in a teapot.’  Well, well.  Never come across that one before!

3 It’s jolly windy. And (it’s now quarter to five) it’s started raining.  Although when I drove home from Beccles I saw that dust was blowing off the fields, it’s been very dry since the flooding ended.

4 We were going to have fish for dinner, but we were given fish for our set-menu lunch, so I think it will go in the freezer.  I’ve got some chicken, but I’m not very hungry after a two-course meal and the Sage went down the caff for shepherd’s pie, so I think I might put them both aside and cook omelettes instead.  The bantams are laying well now and I’ve got at least a dozen eggs today.

5 I’ve got an almost free day tomorrow, after a meeting with the Head at 9.30.  Unfortunately, housework beckons.  Although the cleaners are coming next Tuesday so I’ll tidy to get ready for them rather than do much cleaning.  I mean, one does have standards to keep down.

Z and the Sage get out and about

A friend who, with his wife, retired to France seven years ago was visiting friends and family this week and called in today.  He hasn’t changed a bit except to look more relaxed now he’s out of the rat race.  They’ve always been great animal lovers and at present have five dogs – the latest arrival is a Portugese Podengo – not a breed I’d heard of but I’ve a dog app on my phone so was able to look it up.  He looks very like a fox apparently, with red hair and pointed ears, but his tail is not bushy.  They’re hunting dogs, and he hasn’t dared let it off the lead yet.  So he wasn’t at all put off when Ben greeted him enthusiastically.  Ben responds well to people who understand dogs and settled down very quickly.  Though he did take a quick lick from the sugar bowl.  W wasn’t put off by that either and cheerily spooned sugar from the same bowl into his coffee.  No wonder I like him.  I don’t think I mentioned that when Ben learned to open the fridge a few weeks ago he got his teeth into a piece of raw fish.  I washed it of course and made sure it was my portion and the Sage got the unmouthed one, but I ate it all right.

Having revolted half of you (I would never do such a thing with anyone I was feeding I absolutely promise you, I do not impose my casualness on anyone else and am scrupulously hygienic when cooking for guests too), move on swiftly…

We both went to our funerals and saw a lot of people we knew – I said to Marian, the 95-year-old friend I gave a lift to that one of the best things about her birthday tea was that we saw so many old friends at a happy occasion instead of a funeral, which is what usually occurs.  She invited me in for sherry when I took her home, so it was later than I’d expected when I left – I phoned the Sage and he reminded me that he was going to a meeting of his vintage car club, which also reminded me that he’d asked the other day if I’d like to go with him.   I don’t get an offer like that every day and it included dinner – so I said I’d drive straight to the pub and meet him there.  We had a swift half hour for a delicious beef stew with dumplings and then a very convivial time at the meeting.

And home for a glass of whisky.  Having been driving, I’ve been rather alcohol-deprived today.  Cheers, darlings.

Z adds up

Another art lecture today, on the start of Modernism.  Very good – ignorant as I am, I learn whenever possible.  I arrived in good time so that I could chat to friends and came away having put my name down for two more events –  a visit to the Fishmongers’ Hall and the Middle Temple, and a tea party to celebrate 25 years of our society.  I wasn’t a member from the start, but joined within the year.

My car needs a new fuel pump, which hasn’t arrived at the garage yet so they’ve lent me a car.  Replace the petrol you use and please don’t have an accident, the man said cheerfully.  I realise now that I’ve left my satnav in my car, so will look up my destination for tomorrow (my satnav doesn’t have churches on it anyway, so I have to know where in the village I’m heading) and see if I need to pick it up on the way…. and now I have, I’ve decided to go retro and take a map.  Amazingly, I went to the bookcase where it was supposed to be and it was right there.

The Sage had a visit to the hospital before Easter – the cardiologist doesn’t think there’s much matter for concern but has put him on beta blockers for an irregular heartbeat and offered a chest x-ray, which was done there and then – I phoned the doctor’s surgery this morning to see if there was any follow-up from that, but I don’t think there is.  They’ll phone back if he needs another appointment.  Boring, isn’t it, this ageing thing?  The Sage doesn’t like to admit to any infirmity, though he’s been known to be completely wiped out by the slightest hint of man-flu, so I have to go with him to medical appointments or else he’d claim to have the health and fitness of a man of thirty.  Mind you, I didn’t know him when he was thirty.

Al and the family came over this afternoon and I cooked sausages for tea.  Young Hadrian’s vocabulary increases week by week and he’s a sturdily cheerful little boy.  His cousin Gus is also a happy child – he’s three months younger – but they’re quite different in appearance.  Gus is tall and skinny, Hay is stockier, though not fat.  All five of the grandchildren are such a delight.  When blessings are being counted, I have quite a number of them.

Gold medal in the family

1 I’ve mislaid my middle-distance glasses, dammit.  They’re probably in this room, maybe in the kitchen, but that’s less help than you’d think.

2 I went to a fabulous lecture this morning, given by Maggi Hambling and illustrated with loads of her portraits.  Hugely impressed.  I hadn’t realised that she’s the sister of someone I know, who arranged for her to come.

3 I’m feeling some clarification about the timing of my retirement as a school governor.  Carrying on as normal for a while yet, though.  It’ll be twenty-five years in September, but for several of those years I governed two schools.

4 Meetings went on until 3 o’clock, when I was finally able to have some lunch.  I made a salad of cherry tomatoes, avocado and Roquefort cheese and ate it with oatcakes and a glass of red wine.  It was a very nice Bordeaux and reminds me again to drink better wine all the time.  I mean whenever I drink it, of course, not that I’ll drink all the time.  Obv.

5 Squiffany entered a gymnastics competition yesterday and won her class.  Woo hoo!

Update – I’ve found my glasses under the armchair.  That’s a relief, the computer is just at the wrong distance nowadays.

Z displays roundness of tum

Another day of getting things done, quite remarkable.

When our mother died ten years ago, Wink and I dealt with clothes and personal papers straight away.  However, she had a lot of clothes and didn’t have enough room in her wardrobes (several of them) for everything, so used to have a seasonal switchover, taking those that were temporarily redundant up to the attic and hanging them there.  Since she died in March, her summer clothes were still there, along with quite a lot of books and various other things.  We didn’t deal with those, there was too much else to do, and once Al and Dilly lived there, they changed the use of the dressing room to a study and put in various pieces of furniture that made the extending ladder to the attic inaccessible – there’s another attic too that they were able to use.  So all those clothes and everything else were still there.  Now, while the annexe is almost empty, I want to clear the attics and so today Wink and I made a start by bringing those clothes down.

There are a few jumpers that Wink has taken away to try on, a couple of things I might, and the rest has been divided into two piles, one for the recycling bin by the village hall and one for a charity shop.  There is only one dress where we were hit by sentiment, and that’s the one she’s wearing here, at the Sage’s and my wedding party.  She’s second from the right, in pink.

A few of the clothes we couldn’t remember her ever wearing and wondered why on earth she’d bought them.  One, we suspected that Wilf, our stepfather, had brought back from a business trip abroad because it was brightly coloured and pattered and pretty well shapeless, and we couldn’t imagine her choosing it.  But almost as odd was this extraordinary outfit –
As you can see, it’s tight on me, so I’m sorry to inflict the photo on you (I’m sure that thick tights add at least a centimetre to one’s thighs, aren’t you?), but that’s not the worst of its crimes against fashion.  And she never wore trousers of any sort, she didn’t like them – that is, she occasionally bought them but only wore them for walking the dog in very cold weather, and this outfit was certainly not a dog-walking set-up.  
I guess it dates from about 1980?  Why did she keep it?  It was in a bag, not hung up, but even so.  It reinforces my opinion that sizings have changed considerably over the years, by the way.  Size 12, it was marked as a 24 inch waist and 36 inch hips.  A current size 10 is roomy on me and this is a good size smaller than today’s 12, I could only just do it up.  She and I were much the same size in those days, which is a few pounds less than I am now, but she’d never have worn anything so clingy.  Nor would I have worn it, except to poke fun at myself.
We went to the pub for lunch, first having a drink in the bar and enjoyable conversations with a local chap and his son-in-law, then ate excellent roast beef.  Then our friend called round, having borrowed his brother’s Transit van and Wink and I went with him to Ro’s house, where we loaded it up with all the stuff he’s cut down from his very overgrown garden.  The big van was stuffed full and I was nearly overcome by exhaustion at one point – the weather has suddenly become hot and I was dressed in jeans and a cashmere jumper when I’d have been better off with a t-shirt, working so hard in that weather.  Anyway, we did it and Wink left to go to Weeza’s house while we came back here and dumped the branches and undergrowth on the bonfire to be burned when the wind is in the right direction.  

Z keeps her clout firmly in place

1 When walking the dog yesterday,  I saw the first blackthorn that is coming into bloom.  The may won’t be out until May this year.

2 Today the bees are flying from Al’s hives – I haven’t seen them until now (though I’ve only looked on sunny days and there have been few enough of those) and was afraid that all three hives were dead.  I think one of them is, haven’t seen any sign of life at all.  Al will have a look next time he’s over – I’m thinking I’m going to have to learn to look after them too, at least the rudiments.  I’ve never had ambitions to be a bee-keeper, but I don’t mind.  I found last year that I’m not afraid to help out – unsurprisingly, some people are.

3 I’ve reminded the Sage that the deadline for getting outside junk disposed of is the end of the month or I’m getting a skip.  He looked worried.  He’s starting to believe I mean it.

4 Ben went into the downstairs loo and had a little chew on a toilet roll.  It was almost new, of course I didn’t throw it away.  Wicked waste makes woeful want, as they say.  So we are using loo paper with teethmarks in.  That still work, as we say in Norfolk.

5 Having sent out the final address list of Nadfas contact details, someone then told me he moved house in February.  So I sent out a correction.  And then someone else sent me another correction.  I sent this address list out at least twice previously this year and they didn’t tell me then.  It makes me look inefficient, but I can only give out information that I’ve been given.  I take the view, however, that the more incompetent I look, the keener they’ll be to find a new secretary.