Friday, December 31, 2004

Everybody's gone surfin'

A pub discussion about potato varieties lead to the discovery of The Idler.

See if you can find out what gorillas eat (hint: see 'Unfinished jokes').

Happy New Year, everyone! :D

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Didn't we have a lovely time?

Well, I don’t know about you, but we thoroughly enjoyed the Mongers’ Meet. I was a little concerned in the several weeks’ run-up that it might be a total debacle, but consensus is that I can safely be relied upon when breweries (okay, pubs then) and piss-ups need arranging in whatever order. So that’s good. Loads and loads of refreshments were partaken of, games played and zillions of photos taken – sadly, all of mine are complete rubbish.

But it was a Good Do; I thoroughly enjoyed meeting more chatroom loonies inhabitants (especially the Monster, who undoubtedly stole the show). The absentees were missed, though Stu seems to have gone to extreme measures to avoid mixing with us! Just kidding – hope you’re feeling more human now.

Then everybody started drifting homewards, though the King of Swede and his Maritime Minion Chauffeur extended their Midland tour with a night enjoying the dubious pleasures at Genie Towers (sorry I forgot about the pudding, chaps!). A late breakfast today was followed by a quick cache (while Ned and I waited in the pub garden, giggling at an overheard argument about today’s date. One woman’s Christmas has obviously been too much for her, and the realisation that her New Year’s Party is tomorrow night and not the night after was proving very traumatic.)

After that we had a slight problem trying to find a nice pub that hadn’t shut for the afternoon, and finally ended up back at the Wobbly Wheel, where the car keys were slung in my direction and Ned and Mally tucked away the beer and got gigglier and pinker in the cheeks than usual. (Hint to all those of a sensitive disposition: if Mal goes to find cocktail sticks, make your excuses and leave!) I guess the Merman’s travelling companion was less than chatty on the way home!

When’s the next get-together then?

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Everybody's having fun


Wrapped by a man ... Posted by Hello

My brother wrapped that ^^. D'you know what it is yet?

Friday, December 24, 2004

Fa la la la la, la la la laaaa

We’ve decked our hall with boughs of holly (and fir), and the way the holly bites at your hands as you go upstairs means I suspect it may be repruned well before Twelfth Night. The cards are artfully arranged and the tree’s been brought in from its cage in the garden, which is supposed to protect it from the attentions of the dogs. Unfortunately they seem to be wising up to this, because as the tree warmed up in the sitting room there wasn’t only the usual exciting piny smell, but there was also an underlying hint of pee …

Anyway, a few drops of Advent oil in a burner seems to have sorted that minor hiccup and now the tree’s either partially or fully dressed, depending on whether we decide to stick with a minimalist look or throw caution to the winds and bung on the lot.

The cards have been distributed around the village (including, sadly, a condolence card to a dear neighbour whose wife died yesterday – please send up a thought for them); the gammon for tonight is simmering, tomorrow’s goose is thawed, the pudding is made, along with more mince pies, and the wine is mulling. I know where all the veg are, but I won’t start those till tomorrow. The presents are wrapped and soon to be placed around the tree. Then I think it’ll be time to make a start on the hangover.

So a merry Christmas, everyone. Love to you all from Genie Towers. Have a wonderful time.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

All together now

Click on the reindeer and join in!

Monday, December 20, 2004

You've got a friend

You know who you are. You know where I am if you need to unload. {{{{hug}}}}

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Do you hear what I hear?

Okay then, here's a little puzzle to keep you all off the streets for a while! They're all songs with a festive theme. How many do you know?

1. OIRDC
2. WSWTFBN
3. JB
4. SN
5. OLTOB
6. AIWFCIAB
7. LD
8. WC
9. DDMOH
10. CROAOF
11. WACIB
12. DTH
13. FTS
14. HTHAS
15. JTTW
16. ICUTMC
17. TFN
18. OCAYF
19. RTRNR
20. TTDOC
21. GKW
22. GRYMG
23. THATI
24. TCC
25. WTKOOA
26. AFTROG
27. WW
28. ISMKSC
29. JBR
30. TLDB
31. MBC
32. OCT
33. WWYAMC
34. IWICBCED
35. OCOCE
36. WITA
37. ISTS
38. LIS
39. RATCT
40. AWGMOO
41. SCICTT
42. ITBM
43. DTKIC
44. MXE
45. LC
46. SB
47. TVMHABB
48. SATWS
49. G
50. AIAM
51. CTYE
52. MAW
53. HWCAW
54. DHFC
55. ASCT
56. IDJ
57. LTC
58. LSN
59. IBIFC
60. AFONY

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Who do boys like they're girls

On TV recently, because I suppose it’s seasonal, the travel programmes (and a cookery programme!) have been to Northern Scandinavia to feature reindeer. I’ve learned that while both male and female reindeer grow antlers in the summer each year, male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid-December. Female reindeer retain their antlers till after they give birth in the spring. Therefore, according to every historical rendition depicting Santa's reindeer, every single one of them, from Rudolph to Blitzen, had to be a girl. Or a cervine cross-dresser.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Home again, 'cross the sea

A busy old day today. Ned’s alarm went off at stupid o’clock so that he could drive to Dover to do a booze-cruise. He left the house at 4am, forgetting to take the mobile so I have no idea where he is, and I only managed to doze from then till my alarm went off earlier than usual because of having to walk the dogs before I left for work. Of course it was pouring with rain and we all got thoroughly drenched, and by the time we got back it was nearly half past eight, and time to see if the Boy had managed to get up in time to be at work for 8am. No he hadn’t, so a certain tenseness reigned while he crashed about, slamming doors and cursing at the Unfairness of Life. I quietly ate breakfast and let him get on with it.

The dogs were very pleased to see me when I got home – they’re hardly ever left all day, and they’d been awfully good. We made sure that when I got my job that if I was at work Ned would be home, and vice versa, because no dog should be left for long hours. (A general rule of thumb is not to leave them longer than it takes a person to need the loo.) But there was no mess, no destruction through boredom – just ecstasy at having human company again. They’re wonderful – no matter how rotten your day’s been, or how rubbish you look, they don’t care. Non-judgemental love can massage the soul.

Oh, and thank you, Carol, for Raffy (aka Mr Snooty)!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

If I had a hammer

Actually, I think I have. And it's inside my head, pounding away at the back of my left eye. The first migraine of the festive season. Oh joy.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

The winner takes it all

What a nice day it’s been! Although we’d intended to spend the day making Christmas puddings (one for this year, one for next) we changed our minds and instead did a short quest of three caches. They made a pleasant morning out; one was a particularly nice location that I’d like to go back to in the summer when the house and gardens are fully open and there isn’t such a bracing breeze. It was slightly disappointing that the Jeep Travel Bug that was supposed to be in the final cache had been taken the day before but not logged out (maybe they haven’t had access to a computer since), and when the mobile in my backpack rang as we were feigning invisibility past a bull the adrenalin levels shot sky-high.

It was a bit too late for a pub lunch after that, but BK filled a hole before we toodled homewards. I walked the dogs then we made a pot of tea while I perused the Net then went to log our finds. What’s this? A new multicache posted while we were out? Local and unfound? Slippers and teacups were discarded, we leapt back into the car (it’s not a very environmentally friendly hobby is it?) and sped back the way we’d come.

We pulled into the recommended parking place at dusk; horrors! Two other cars were there already! Had we been beaten? Who else would be bonkers enough to be roaming in the gloaming? Never mind, we were here now, so onward. We followed the stages, wondering whether every person we passed had beaten us to it, and got the final co-ordinates. And we were First to Find! Our first ever FTF! Woo, yay, and yippety-yip! I know, it’s tragic that such a little thing is so exciting, but it gave us a thrill.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

I told you once

As I was lying dozing this morning, listening to Brian Mathew and Sounds of the Sixties, I heard a very familiar tune being played. But I knew full well the tune I was thinking of was a fairly recent release, and I hadn’t known it was a cover version. The track being played was the Andrew Oldman Orchestra performing a slow instrumental version of the Rolling Stones’ ‘The Last Time’. To my sleepy brain it sounded identical to the music on The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’.

A little judicious googling tells me that they were both written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. I would never have thought the two songs had the same melody. Just shows what a change of tempo can do.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Things can only get better

(The following blog entry is shamelessly plagiarised because it made me laugh!)

When four of Santa's elves got sick, and the trainee elves did not produce the toys as fast as the regular ones, Santa was beginning to feel the pressure of being behind schedule.

Then Mrs. Claus told Santa that her Mum was coming to visit. This stressed Santa even more.

When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two had jumped the fence and were out, heaven knows where.

More stress.

Then when he began to load the sleigh one of the boards cracked, and the toy bag fell to the ground and scattered the toys.

So, frustrated, Santa went into the house for a cup of cider and a shot of rum. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered that the elves had hidden the booze, and there was nothing to drink. In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the cider pot, and it broke into hundreds of little pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found that mice had eaten the straw end of the broom.

Just then the doorbell rang, and irritable Santa trudged to the door. He opened the door, and there was a little angel with a great big Christmas tree. The angel said, very cheerfully, "Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn't it a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?"

And so began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

How much is that doggy?

A few weeks ago Ned realised that we ought to do a booze-cruise soon, to stock up for Christmas. To his horror he discovered his passport had expired, so I got him an application form from the Post Office, and we spent a merry morning trying to find a photo booth where the resulting mugshot failed to make him resemble an elderly serial killer. But at last we got a tolerable result, whereupon Ned made a mistake filling the form.

I got a replacement form, which was put onto the kitchen table and immediately lost. Meanwhile, Christmas was getting closer. I decided to blitz the kitchen, my energy levels and enthusiasm lasted long enough to disinter the application, so last weekend he duly completed it and took it into the Post Office for checking and sending off on Monday morning.

Much to our astonishment the shiny new passport (What happened to the 'European Community'? It now says 'European Union' – pah!) arrived back today. I reckon to be fast-tracked like that he must have had an affair with David Blunkett’s guide dog.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

I think I am, I know I am

I don't know what it is, but I feel very very strange at the moment. It's a sort of fluttery, light feeling. After several weeks I've stopped feeling physically unwell. There's no sign of the Black Dog, no matter where or how thoroughly I look. Everything is the same on the domestic front as it has been since time immemorial, but even so this weirdness persists. There's something very odd going on.

Ooh, I've had a recollection! Now I think I remember this feeling, and I can recall its name.

It's called Happiness. Hurrah! :)

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Red hot chilli peppers?

Lunch was quite rubbish really, which was a surprise seeing that Leamington has a fairly high Asian population, and most of the curry houses are excellent. But this one was very bland – the food tasted mainly of salt and very little of spices. I think they must be catering for the sort of customer who thinks even the use of pepper is pushing the boat out. But I mustn’t look a gift horse in the mouth – it was free, and we got the afternoon off as well.

Tomorrow the Boy’s Christmas present is being delivered. I’m not sure where we’re going to hide it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Keep on running

I don't usually go in to work on Wednesdays, but tomorrow I'm making an exception because we're having the company Christmas lunch (paid for by the company). Usually it's held on the last day before the seasonal shutdown (which is extra to annual holiday) but because Big Boss is going to Oz for a month starting on Friday it was decided to have it early. His absence has caused a flurry of activity in our office, because he's the only one who knows how to upload stuff onto the website, so we've been trying to get as far ahead of ourselves as possible to hopefully avert disasters. Today we have at least been taught how to generate puzzles so with luck we shouldn't be scraping the barrel by his return. To be on the safe side we've made notes of Boss's mobile number and server-manager's mobile ....

Anyway we're off for a curry at lunchtime tomorrow. Unfortunately Biggest Boss won't be able to be there, and he's the one with the Company credit card. I predict that towards the end of pudding people will start making their excuses and legging it.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Clap your hands in the air

Our bedroom telephone extension is now functioning again! Conversation with certain individuals who came up with innovative suggestions has resulted in my no longer having to thunder downstairs starkers in the middle of the night to answer the phone before the dogs start howling like a pack of timber wolves summoning the leader to their midst. By using pure logic (and a touch guesswork combined with hope and bluff) my chum decided which coloured wire should be attached to which terminal, thus removing the necessity for me to try all possible combinations in turn (no I haven’t worked out the number of options, and I have no intention of doing so).

It pains me deeply to say this, and it goes against almost everything I’ve held true in the past, but sometimes a person has to bite their lips, grit their teeth (quite challenging to do simultaneously and at the same time) and come out with an unpalatable, and almost entirely unbelievable statement. So I beg you all, take a large swig of something restorative, brace yourselves and take it on the chin: Simon is great.

*has large mouthful of raw spirit to rinse mouth*

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Oh why can’t we talk again?

Botherbotherbotherbotherdamn! Sometimes I surprise even myself with my downright stupidity. I think I’ve even out-stupided Simon this time, which I feel is a remarkable achievement. A couple of days ago our phone started playing up, and the Internet kept crashing. We attributed this to the BT engineers who were tinkering in the green boxes to coax a broadband facility to the village. When the phone went completely dead I mobiled BT to see what was happening, and they ran a line check and said it was fine. So we unplugged all the umpteen connections and checked the linebox. That was working, so it was a fault within the house – our responsibility. By a process of elimination we found that everything worked fine until we plugged in the extension line to our bedroom; that killed the lot. Bugger. The line for that runs under the floorboards upstairs and we didn’t want to take up the carpet and boards to replace it. So I’ve bought a new lead which will run in an unsightly way up the wall, past the banisters, around the skirting board, over doorframes, down the other side and through the bedroom wall. So I’ve unscrewed the box, disconnected the cable and pulled it almost all out. There’s a short length jammed in the ceiling of the understairs cupboard but I can live with that. Anyway, I’ve spent several hours this evening poking the new cable through random holes in the walls, tacking it to any available bits of woodwork and finally connected the wires to the terminals (possibly not the right ones because the colours of the actual wires are different to those of the instructions) in the box on the bedroom wall.

It still doesn’t work. Turns out it’s the 50p multisocket in the kitchen that’s faulty.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Wider still and wider

Ooooh! Broadband has arrived in the village! Now all we have to do is work our way around the minefield of forms and sign up with our chosen supplier of such delights. But how on earth do we find out if our computer has got all the right sort of stuff, or whether all the extra oomph will make it go poof?

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Blue is the colour

Ned is quite, quite mad. Yesterday he got up at stupid o’clock and set off with his equally loony chums to Snowdonia, to go for a walk. The roads were still sheet-ice when I got up several hours later but still before daylight to take the dogs out before work. As usual I assumed that no news was good news, and the fact that I hadn’t been phoned from an A&E department somewhere on the Welsh border they had probably arrived safely. Luckily I was right, and when he phoned this morning he was delighted to discover that he and I make a really good team. Because I’m still on the ABs I haven’t had a drop of the hard stuff since last Friday, so to wake up with a hangover was a tad annoying. But apparently it’s all right – Ned was very, very drunk last night (ooh, surprise) but feels fine, so I must be taking his punishment. What a lovely wife I am. He’d had a nice day yesterday; they climbed Snowdon and it was very cold. But disappointingly they didn’t have any woad on, which is after all traditional when you get snowed on on Snowdon.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Should I cool it or should I blow?

A couple of weeks ago, when things were getting very much out of control, I told the boss (not Big Boss, just the intermediary) that things weren’t going too well, and if I hadn’t managed to get things into better balance by the end of the month I was going to resign. That was accepted, and things started improving as a result of my reprioritisationing, which partly consisted of compartmentalising my life: no thinking of Home when at work, and no thinking of Work when at home. Then this week I’ve been off poorly, as you know, so I phoned in on Monday to explain that I was going to see another doctor, certainly wouldn’t be in that day, probably not Tuesday either but would aim for Friday (those being the only days I work there). That was fine. I phoned in again on Tuesday morning, saying that the New Doctor had thought it unlikely I’d be fit before next week, but that I was still hoping to get in on Friday anyway.

“Oh dear, I’d hoped you would be in today. I’m off on Friday, and on holiday all next week, and then it’s the time you said you’d make your decision. I wanted to talk to you today to find out what you thought the decision was going to be.”

Well I’m sorry, but I think a hurried decision due to pressure like that is as likely to be wrong as right, so I’m sticking to my guns. If I could see into the future and knew how things would be going in a fortnight’s time there’d be no problem. But I can’t, I don’t, and so I won’t be rushed. But I feel all stressed again, because I’m at Home, thinking about work, which is what the problem was in the first place.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Wee'll meet again

We’ve had better weekends. Friday night was perfectly fine; then when I went to the lav last thing before bed I thought I was passing battery acid. It smarted just a tad. But I still felt as though I needed to go. And so it’s gone on since. Saturday morning, having been up to the loo every 15 minutes or so, I started getting washed but had to lie on the bathroom floor before I passed out. By this time it was light and I could see what I was passing (I don’t turn on lights at night) and I know what colour urine is meant to be. Red isn’t it. So I made an appointment with the out of hours doctor at A&E and spent a fun time there in the afternoon. Result – one nasty infection. So I was given some lovely antibiotics which made me nauseous and gave me stomach cramps as well, so I had to also take the high-strength painkillers I was given when I had my foot operated on a while back. By this morning there was no improvement so I’ve seen another doctor and got some new ABs, as it seems I’m resistant to the ones that work best on these things. It’s really really horrible. All the time I feel like I’ve had a gallon of water and not been to the loo for 5 hours. Even when I’ve just been, I’m still bursting. Not fun. And every time I go, no matter how fruitless, I have to drink a glass of water or cranberry juice (yuck!). Ned's been a star, but if I don’t get some sleep soon I might lose my sense of humour.

Friday, November 12, 2004

You'd laugh and say 'nothing's that simple'

And I'd reply "Yes it is"! (Should the exclamation mark go before or after the quotation marks? Or both?)

Anyway, I'm at last free of the complusion to blog regularly. I don't feel guilty if I miss a day, or even two. One more pressure off. I can confidently predict a time when I'll be me again.

And I think that's good. :) :) :)

Thursday, November 11, 2004

I wonder who it will be tomorrow?

Phew, that was close. A reasonably thorough stock-take has been carried out; delegation (assisted – thanks!) of essential (to me) stuff and downgrading of the merely important to the status of trivial appears to have got things back on a more even keel. I still hate being a ‘weekend wife’ despite sharing the same house; it may be normal for a lot of people, but it isn’t for us. I’ve learned I’m not Superwoman, and trying to be all things to all people is not only impossible, but also terribly self-destructive. So I’m stuffing myself with metaphorical chill-pills, and they seem to be working – I can now stop doing housework as early as 9pm, rather than after midnight. A step in the right direction, at least.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Flash! Aaahhh!

Guy Fawkes’ night (or weekend) passed far better than I ever dared hope. That desensitisation CD seems to have worked wonders. They all noticed that the fireworks were going off, but even Piglet wasn’t as totally panicked as he used to be. True, he was sticking to us like glue, and trembling, but he didn’t wet himself, and Beattie just lay with her head on my foot instead of trying to dig through the floor. Friday night was the worst because everyone was having their own private party, but on Saturday, when the Junior School two fields away was having its big display, it rained. Oh dear. *chuckles*

Friday, November 05, 2004

Who do girls like they're boys

I received this in a RiddleMule PM.

"P.S. I realize you must be Bean something from the last PD."

Does this mean s/he thinks I'm a 6'9" 18 year old male? Oh dear. Oh deary deary dear. *adjusts make-up*

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Crash! Tinkle! It fell to the floor

That’s the sound of my failure to keep all my plates spinning. So in a major prioritisationary reshuffle some of the elements of my life are being shelved. I’ve made a list of the things I do that I want to do, and also of the things that I need to do. Unfortunately, to enable me to do the things I need to do properly, it’s the things I want to do that have to be shelved. All work and no play … I know, I know. But needs must. Dullsville, here I come.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

I've been working like a dog

What a shame that nobody realised that my Hallowe’en story was not a work of fiction but did in fact happen. Never mind.

Anyway, after my little rant and a couple of days off I’ve finally managed to complete the RiddleMule, without too much outside assistance, and I feel much better for it. Those last couple would have nagged and nagged at me if I had just left them. I still loathe and detest 5.18; 5.19 was somewhat better, and 5.20 was really quite fun! Now that’s out of the way I can concentrate on modding and answering the umpteen PMs I get a day – over 60 yesterday! It’s nice when people are polite enough to thank you for helping – they’re more likely to be helped in the future! Enough of that though. I hope my pics of Saturday's select gathering post okay.

Come on, Talis - show us your blog!


Talis and Rich Posted by Hello


Simon, Carol, JG and GordonRogers Posted by Hello

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Close your eyes and hope that this is just imagination

It being Hallowe'en, Simon suggested that the BlogRing chums should each write an appropriate story ...

Vera didn’t know whether the fluttery feeling in her middle was due to nervousness or excitement at meeting George’s family in their own home. They had met and spoken fleetingly at several of the parties she had attended that season; the parties where she and George had fallen in love. Now they were engaged and so she was invited to spend a weekend in the country at his parents’ large house. Although George’s family was very wealthy they were also very kind and accepting of her, a mere doctor’s daughter. George had told her about the family home (which in Vera’s imagination was a veritable palace) and she hoped desperately that she wouldn’t make a blunder and embarrass George, or his parents – or even herself! As the car which had been waiting at the station to collect her turned into the drive and pulled up outside the house Vera tried not to gasp. Although not vast, it was an impressive building and it was hard not to feel overawed. But there was George, and, swallowing her nerves, she smiled as he held the door for her to get out of the car.

George’s family were, she was delighted to discover, genuinely pleased for her to be joining their family, and she was soon more relaxed in their company. Later that evening at dinner she asked why the maid who had shown her to her room had seemed reluctant to linger there. It seemed to be an ordinary enough room, pleasingly decorated and equipped with the usual furniture and a very attractive looking-glass over the washstand.

Was it her imagination that the silence which followed her question seemed a little uneasy? Then George’s mother laughed and explained that, like all old houses, this one also had its share of stories of ghosts, but there was nothing to be concerned about, anything that had happened had been a long time ago. The conversation turned to general stories of the unexplained draughts and creakings that gave rise to tales of ghosts and haunted rooms, and then moved on to easier topics as the evening wore on. Much, much later, as Vera tried to hide her tiredness, the party broke up and everyone went to bed.

Her bedroom, as she entered it, was welcoming and warm. There was a small fire in the grate, her bed had been turned down and warmed, and her nightdress lay waiting. She undressed and washed, then thoughtfully brushed her hair while she thought about how the day had gone. As she sat there she glanced into the mirror, and screamed. There, looking back at her, was a man! Vera dropped her hairbrush and fled out of the room in horror. George’s family had heard her scream and came running. George’s mother hugged her as Vera sobbed out what she’d seen, and was aghast at the matter-of-fact way it was explained that a previous visitor had hanged himself in that very room, and occasionally made his presence known in this way.

It would perhaps be too easy to round off the tale with the ending that despite this shock, Vera and George married and lived happily ever after. But it wouldn’t be true. Vera went home the next day after a very uncomfortable night in a hastily-made up bed in another room, and George soon after joined the army and went off to France in 1914. He was killed quite early on, and like many other girls of that time, Vera (my mother’s aunt) never married. Following the deaths of George’s parents some years afterwards the house was sold, and later demolished. Nobody knows what happened to the mirror.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The sweetest thing

I’ve got a lovely husband, you know. He drives me to meetings and sits and chats and drinks umpteen pints of tonic water cos he’s driving and lets me drink umpteen pints of 6X (Ooh, was it 6X?) till I’m nearly horizontal and then he takes me home and he doesn’t get cross with me and he doesn’t expect me to cook so he gets a takeaway and I’ve got a lickle bit of a headache so I think I’ll go to bed. Piccies tomorrow perhaps. Night night.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Yield it, yield it

There’s a saying in the world of animal husbandry that you should never ‘over-face’ an animal in training. This means that the tasks they’re given to overcome, whether it’s a show-jump fence for horses or a down-stay with a dog, should never be too much for them to cope with. Of course this varies from individual to individual, which is where the skill of the trainer is tested. With a horse, you don’t go from popping over a bale of straw straight to the puissance wall at the Horse of the Year Show. Likewise a dog who can manage a down-stay for 10 seconds shouldn’t instantly be expected to cope with a 5 minute one. You gradually build them up, stretching them slightly then consolidating the progress. If they’re over-faced they lose all confidence and may never achieve much again.

I’ve been over-faced. Now please don’t think this is a personal rant against my chums, it’s a rant because I need to let it out. We all have our individual strengths and weaknesses, and what one person finds easy another will completely fail to grasp. It doesn’t mean that one person is worse than the other, just that they’re different. My great strength at school was spelling. I was never brilliant at maths. I learned enough to be able to pass my O-level, but that was over 30 years ago, and I’ve only needed to use basic arithmetic ever since. So now when I’m finding myself faced with questions which are post-A-level standard maths, I have no idea where to even start, and to be honest, I have no intention of taking extra tuition in order to be able to do them.

I’m spent. This is doing me no good at all. I’m stressed out, and trying to keep so many plates spinning all at once has broken me. My sense of humour has eloped with my enthusiasm and may never be seen again. Waking at 4am crying is generally a sign that all is not well, and when it strikes you that the reason is due to something that is meant to be fun, you realise that somewhere along the line things have taken a wrong turn, and have assumed unnatural proportions.

I think this may be where a certain quadruped and I part company. I know there are only two more questions to go, but there’s no pleasure left for me. There’s no “Aaahhhh!” moment when I get the answer; only time to heave a sigh of relief that it’s done. It’s become something I fear. I know the sayings “A winner never quits, and a quitter never wins”. Yes, I know I’m weak, I’m a loser, and I despise myself for it, all right? I don’t need it rubbed in, thanks.

Maybe this is just a bad day. I hope so.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Oh dear, what can the matter be?

The senior moments are becoming, if not more frequent, certainly longer-lasting. In my lunch break today I rushed up the town to get a card for a chum - nothing too sick-making - and eventually found a suitably obscene one. So I queued patiently, and it wasn't until I reached the 'Please Pay Here' till that I realised that I hadn't seen my purse since I put it into my caching bag on Sunday. The tillgirl (who looked about 12 years old) blushed as she looked at the card, and I blushed as I apologised and left the shop cardless. I'll try again tomorrow.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Always should be someone

I think I’ve discovered the reason why the population of our village is growing so fast. When Ned first moved up here from Sussex in 1980, ‘rush hour’ involved three horses and a tractor moving slowly down the road. Now there are several ‘dormitory’ estates, smallish maybe, but still generating a lot of traffic, so now you actually have to look both ways before you cross the road. In fact there are so many new houses that the council was forced to put up street name signs, which until about 5 years ago weren’t needed – there weren’t enough roads to warrant it. Roads were named according to the town or village they led to: Warwick Road, Banbury Street and Southam Street, or to features on the road, such as Bridge Street. Okay, there are three Mill Lanes (and only one mill), but if you keep going round you eventually find the right bit.

Anyway, the village has grown, and the roadsigns have proliferated, much to the delight of the local kiddiwinks, who’ve discovered that the letters can easily be scratched off, with sometimes unfortunate results. In opposite directions from the bus shelter (aka Youth Club) are the villages of Wellesbourne and Gaydon. Or, as the edited signs now read, L*sbo and G*y.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Just a jealous guy

I'm in two minds what to blog about tonight. Both (or all three if my Shift key doesn't buck its ideas up and start doing its job properly) are rants to a certain degree. One concerns a relative (or should that be relation? I always get the two confused) who has upset some of the family, and the other concerns a friend's relation (or relative) who is a waste of space. Eeeny, meeny, miny ...

Okay, tact demands I slag off the friend's kin (ha! An escape from the dilemma!). We were watching, squint-eyed because tonight reception for BBC1 has been rubbish and programmes are being transmitted in a snowstorm, Rod Stewart in concert. Now I like Rod Stewart. He reminds me of when I was a giggly teenager and Life and the Future were optimistic blank canvases on which to make our marks. His voice, though not brilliant, has a raw power that says so much more than a classically-trained operatic voice. What's more, you can understand the words.

This particular bloke is so insecure in his marriage that he has forbidden his wife to listen to Rod Stewart because she liked him when she was single. Who's placing bets on how long that marriage lasts?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

It's a very very ...

There was a weird bloke in Tesco today. We did our little bit of shopping (two boxes of cereal and a sack of potatoes) and queued at the '10 items or less' till, behind a bloke and a basket. The bloke had a basket, you understand, but there was another one on the floor. So the long queue shuffled forwards as the opportunity arose, with the basket being kicked along too. Then all of a sudden this weirdo comes along, smiles and winks at me (Grrrrr!) and steps in front. I give him a Hard Stare while Ned pretends to be elsewhere, and the weirdo offers to toss a coin for the place in the queue. In fact, he insists on tossing a coin, despite my refusals to join in. So he chooses heads for me, and I win, so he starts pushing me forward ... until Ned steps in, pointing out that the basket on the floor was in front of us all the time ...

So I snarl sweetly at the loony and let him go first, and he gets his shopping checked through the till, then realises he's left his wallet in the car and only has a few coins about his person. The till-girl refuses to start haggling about his shopping, he hands over his £1.80 and rushes out of the shop, leaving behind a couple of the things he's paid for.

Harmless, but barking.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Hands move and heart beat on

What miserable weather we’ve had today; all grey, damp and gloomy. It was so uninspiring we’ve done almost nothing, which seems a dreadful waste of holiday, but it was too wet and yucky to go caching or gardening or anything outdoors. So we’ve mooched about indoors getting ratty with each other, which isn’t really what I’d planned for today. 20 years is supposedly the ‘china’ anniversary – at least we’re not yet throwing plates at each other. Happy anniversary anyway, Ned. You must be due for parole soon.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Sank 'eavens for leetle girls

Home again, home again! I hope you’ve all had a good weekend while we were away at the Christening of my great-nieces. It all seemed very successful, despite one or two hiccups. The twins are absolutely gorgeous, very smiley, but although I’d deliberately left space in my suitcase I wasn’t allowed to bring one home. I’d even said I didn’t mind which one I had – despite being identical and only 8 months old (though they were 7 weeks early so have to be thought of as being younger) they are developing distinct personalities – Lucy seems to be more of a scamp, and can roll over, while Emma’s more of a watcher at the moment. I’m sure that will change though! Ned and I were very impressed that within an hour we could tell them apart.


Lucy and Emma Posted by Hello

The Christening itself went as well as could be expected, given the fact that despite waiting half an hour we had to proceed without one of the godparents who’d managed to get lost within ten miles of the village, in an area she professed to know! The vicar seemed quite High Church and did a lot of talking so when it came to the actual dunking both girls were getting a tad fractious. I was doing my godparently duty with their older brother, retrieving him from the vestry and trying to help him be patient and wait till the end to see what was in the font, and to explain why the vicar was washing his sisters’ hair, and no, maybe he’ll be allowed to blow the candles out at the very end …The post-dunking bash passed without tears (the missing godmother eventually arrived), though both the stars had been put to bed before the excitement of the day overwhelmed them entirely and they toppled into total hysteria.

Our homeward journey was uneventful, although we did spot car numbers 191, 192, 193, 194, 195 and 196. What a shame we’re still looking for 190.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

One and one is what I'm telling you

A brisk walk around Banbury (brisk because I had to be at the hairdresser's at 2pm - yes twice in one year!), looking in shops both likely and unlikely to have something suitable, eventually turned up trumps when Ned spotted some attractive picture frames in a jeweller’s window. The trouble with so many Christening presents is that they are completely useless (“Oh thank you, that’s lovely, how kind”) and simply get put away in the attic, which is pretty much a waste of money. So we reckoned that these frames, although not suitable for children, might actually be used one day in the future when the girls are older (if they haven’t been broken by then – the frames, not the girls). Anyway, they’re bought and wrapped, and all we have to do now is remember to take them with us.

Friday, October 15, 2004

It's a family affair

Forgive me Blogmeister. I have missed a couple of days’ outpouring, basically because I wasn’t in the mood, so tough. Not a lot has happened, so rather than witter on boringly I thought I’d leave you in suspense.

Tomorrow will be busier. I have the morning to get the washing doing and hassle Ned into walking the dogs, then hasten off into Banbury to look for presents for my niece’s twin daughters who are being Christened on Monday down at my mother’s village in Sussex. It’s not all her own personal village you understand, just a small part of it is. It should be quite a gathering of the clan, insofar as there aren't really very many of us, so will either be great fun or hell. Anyway, we’re off down there on Sunday, leaving the house and dogs in the ‘capable’ hands of the Boy, who has used up all his holiday entitlement and can’t get out of work on Monday, and who has promised to be in the house most of the time, especially overnight, and not to have any horrid mates round to vandalise anything this time. I wonder what disaster will befall Genie Towers this time.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

You'll find that life is still worthwhile

Julianna’s sadness has struck a chord with me, because we so nearly went down a similar path to hers. Because the principles of ‘family planning’ are taught to people at such an early age you always assume that having children is as easy as falling off a log, and for many people it is; ironically enough, judging by the numbers of terminations that take place, it’s especially easy for those who don’t want children. Because Ned and I were almost ‘onlies’ (we both had older brothers, but they were much older, so not really playmates when we were young) we were keen to have several children quite close together. We were very fortunate to have the Boy without too much hassle, although I nearly lost him quite early on when we think his twin was lost. He was an awkward little cuss to bring into the world, and the damage done in the process meant we were told to wait a couple of years before trying for another. So we waited – a bit – then got bored with waiting, till it seemed that number 2 was due on the Boy’s second birthday. But I wasn’t pregnant. At the age of 30 I had had a premature menopause – no more babies. Ever.

It was devastating news. I felt like a freak. My dream had died, and it felt to me as though my much-wanted children had been killed. Yes, I know they had only existed in my mind, but there had always been the thought that one day they would be real. After months of tests and scans the prospect of IVF via egg donation was raised, but quickly dashed because of the shortage of egg donors and the full waiting-list. By the time I reached the top of the list I would have been over the upper age limit for treatment. My niece, bless her, offered me some of her eggs, but she was only in her mid-teens then, and not only would the procedure have been very unpleasant for her, there was the possibility that my situation was hereditary, and I knew I would never forgive myself if she missed out on her chance of motherhood due to her kindness to me.

So we settled for just having the Boy, and have tried not to put too much pressure on him merely because he has to be all our children rolled into one. If we hadn’t had him we might well have been tempted to seek private treatment abroad, and quite possibly had our hopes raised and dashed in just the same way as Julianna and her husband have. I’d hoped and hoped so hard that they would be lucky. I know what emotional turmoil they face in the coming months, and all I can do is wish them the strength to come to terms with this blow.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

When you wish upon a star

Nothing scintillating to report from Genie Towers, but please will you all keep your fingers crossed for a good result for Julianna?

Sunday, October 10, 2004

A, I'm Adorable

That man! I wish I wasn't so gullible. The trouble is, being a complete technophobe who not only doesn't know what she's doing has a deep underlying fear of the whole Intermawebwotsit anyway, trusts anyone who tells me what to do computator-wise. I should really know better, because I've used the same principle of "sound confident, then run very fast" myself, and it always works out alright in the end (for me). Except this time I'm the mug who's spent hours trying to relocate long-forgotten passwords which gain access to any numbre of vital sites, having fallen for the "to solve Problem A you want to delete your cookies" scam. So, obediently I do this, only to find not only does it not solve problem A, it at the same time creates problems B, C, D and most likely the rest of the alphabet as well.

If I hadn't taken the precaution of copying everything onto scraps of paper and stacking them in an organised heap on top of the CDs on shelf 2 over the computer I wouldn't be here to tell you this sorry saga.

Friday, October 08, 2004

But I'll stay quiet and then I'll go

That’s a line from one of my favouritest-ever cheering-up re-enlivening songs ever. Cracking.* :) Now I feel as though I could write the splendidest blog of all, which would then inspire me to enscribe at least one of the award-winning novels I have inside me but which are log-jammed somewhere about my diaphragm (which can be very uncomfortable after a heavy meal). However I’m sure the Muse (is it Erato? If so, how appropriate) would desert me after the third paragraph, as has always happened so far. None of this “I’ve started so I’ll finish” stuff. I’ve got a great title, and a brilliant opening line, but it weakens after that. Maybe I should take up hallucinogenic substances to clear the passages, as it were.

*What a tragedy there’ll be no more from such a marvellous voice.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Me, myself, I

It's been a very strange evening, being in several places, and having several identities, at once. Not only was I my usual physical embodimented triplicate personality (Jan, Ned's wife, and Boy's mum), I also had the JG persona in three, nay four places at once on the interwotsit. I was flitting between them like a butterfly, and now I don't know which way is up. So I shall go to bed.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Rolling down the road

Today’s major topic of conversation in the chat was of resignations, and the best way to accomplish them. Should you ask for a reference before or after you hand in your resignation, for example. If you do it before (and before they suspect you might want to leave) you might get a glowing report, but it rather lets the cat out of the bag. If you resign first they might be a bit miffed and not say such nice things. There are whole books about what has been put into references: “His men will follow him everywhere, if only to see what he’s going to do next” is one which springs to mind.

When I’ve left jobs it’s usually because I’ve been leaving the area and commuting would be impossible, so I’ve not been in the situation of, in effect, telling someone they stink and you’re off to work for someone nicer. I hate the ‘leaving ceremonies’ with a deep loathing, so tend to book a couple of days’ holiday at the end and just go on the Wednesday and not come back. Ned knows people who have simply not returned after their holiday ...

The oddest departure, though, was when I was living with my parents in the Borders. Dad was manager at a stately home, and the Family needed a new butler – a job that isn’t easy to fill because of the strange hours; wives of staff like this tend to get very miffed. Anyway, a series of temporary chaps had their month-long trials, and in due course one was appointed. He seemed happy enough in the job, but one morning was nowhere to be found. All his belongings were still in his room, but there was no sign of him, nor was there any message as to where he’d gone. After a couple of days the police were informed, but to my knowledge the mystery was never solved.

Back to the desensitisation – I’ve hit a snag. Piglet, the one who is most terrified of fireworks, is too clever for his own good, and has twigged (after 3 days) that if I go near the CD player something nasty might happen, and goes to another room to tremble. It’s not as if I don’t play any other CDs, for heaven’s sake!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Busy doing nothing

There’s something very daunting about opening up a nice new document ready to receive the latest enthralling episode of the events at Genie Towers, especially when nothing’s happened. I seem to have been very busy, but have nothing to show for it.

Ooh, I haven’t told you about the washing machine! The son-of-plumber arrived 10 minutes before he was due last Wednesday and fitted it for us. I’m glad we didn’t try doing it ourselves – the pipe-cutting would no doubt have gone horribly wrong. But it works, it’s quiet, it gets things clean, though I haven’t attempted a dog-blanket in it yet. It takes its time though – I can get a load started, take the dogs out for their longish morning walk and it’s not finished by the time we get home. So I have to do the laundry more often than I used to, which means there’s ironing to be done on most days. I hate ironing, but if there’s one thing worse it’s having ironing waiting to be done. I can’t bear to leave it because the things dry out too much so then it takes even longer. Now we have to decide where to put the old one – I’m bored with it blocking the kitchen door, so a new home will have to be found. I’ve suggested the garage or the tip ...

Monday, October 04, 2004

I am, I said

I'm not used to being assertive, and I don't think I'm very good at it, but I said my bit today and I think headway has been made, which is good.

Desensitisation stats: With the TV on as well we're okay at level 4.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Hush! Here comes a whizz-bang!

For many years the only dog we had who was bothered by noise was Bella, our old Labrador. She came from good working stock, but was never happy with bangs. She loved going beating until the guns started – then she tried to get into Ned’s pocket. She didn’t like thunder either, and a night-time storm meant she had to be allowed upstairs where she would try to sleep under our pillows. None of the others were remotely bothered by noises until the false Millennium – the one that was celebrated at the end of 1999. Then the fireworks went off thick and fast, and the dogs started getting edgy. That seemed to mark the start of people letting off fireworks at any time of year – birthdays, anniversaries, completing the washing-up – and the problem quickly escalated. By the time the real Millennium came around their nerves were in shreds. I made the mistake of taking the dogs into the garden for a late-night wee at about 1am and a badly-aimed rocket screamed towards the house and exploded about 20 feet above us. That was the last straw.

Since then every bout of fireworks, even on TV, has reduced the poor things to a quivering mess. If they are alone Piglet wets himself in terror, Beattie tries to dig an escape through solid brick walls and Harry and Clover try to cram themselves into the smallest, darkest space they can find, such as under the fridge. Of course you can’t comfort them, because in a dog’s mind comfort=praise, so they feel they are being rewarded for showing fear, and will do it more next time. So you have to ignore the fearful behaviour and praise them when they aren’t reacting. It can be very difficult getting the timing just right.

So to mark the run-up to the dreaded firework season we have started a desensitisation programme. We have a CD of nasty noises which is played at very very low volume (so quiet that it is barely audible) on and off for several days until they are comfortable with that. Then you gradually increase the volume every few days, but never enough to worry them, and hopefully by the time it all kicks off they will be at least a little less terrified. Today is Day 2, and the tolerated volume is level 2.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Well, who are you?

In SimonG’s almost empty chatroom tonight the topic of names came up. Although most of the regulars in there use aliases, we all know each other’s real names, and occasionally use them, especially when we meet – though it is very hard to think of a person by a completely different name to that which you’re used to. But very few people seem to have the name that they would have chosen, given a free choice of all the names available. I detested my full name when I was young, but I’ve become reconciled to its shortened version, and am now quite happy with that, although my JG persona seems to be encroaching rather a lot. When I was born my brothers offered suggestions for names for me, their favourites being the names of popular literary characters. Luckily my parents vetoed their ideas, thinking, quite rightly in my opinion, that ‘Noddy Rupert’ was inappropriate, especially for a girl.

But I have no idea what name I would have chosen.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Like a puppet on a string

Boo hiss to work assessments. :(

Hooray for loving families! :)

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Let's go surfin' now, everybody's learning how

You may never have guessed, but if truth be told I'm not entirely au fait with this intermaweb thingy. Over the past couple of years I've learned how to send emails, which now reach their intended targets at least 80% of the time, especially if they don't have attachments. I can use Google fairly well to search for information, and again most of what I find is either what I hoped for or, if not, is interesting and sends me off at a tangent so I have a senior moment and forget what I was looking for in the first place. Occasionally it all goes horribly wrong and I find something completely unlike anything I ever wanted to see, and never want to see again in my life ever ever, but thankfully that's been very rare.

I've almost learned that, when googling and I open a webpage which turns out to not be useful after all, to click 'Back' rather than closing it by the X, because that closes google entirely and I have to start again. But I still make it take longer than it need - am I the only person who carefully scrolls back to the top of a webpage before clicking ‘Back’?

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Time after time

It’s been an odd sort of a day. It’s never really got light, so I’ve never really woken up, and as a consequence I’ve been in a strange mental limbo. I got to wondering about dates: not the fruit, you understand, which always looks nicer fresh than dried, but is horrible in either form, its only acceptable incarnation being in a sticky toffee pudding. No, I started pondering the accuracy of recorded dates. For instance, John Lennon was shot in New York at about 22.50 on December 8th 1980 and died shortly after. But at the instant he died it was nearly 4am on December 9th over here. If anyone from the UK had spoken to him on the phone up to 4 hours earlier they would have been talking to him the day after he officially died, which is a bit spooky. Why this should bother me is a mystery, but it did.

Of course the great benefit of a particular moment happening at different times is that at every year I can watch the Australian New Year celebrations on TV then go to bed at a reasonable hour. I’m not a New Year type person.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Don't you make me repeat it

I wasn't going to blog, because the only thing that I felt vaguely worthy of sharing was my distress at finishing my supper and finding half a snail in my vegetables. It was at least a fresh, organic snail, because I only picked the veg half an hour before and I don't use sprays on the veg garden - but I hadn't been psyched up for mollusc. I don't recommend them.

Monday, September 27, 2004

The only way is up

Or at least, that's how it's been for most of my meals today. I suppose I could have entitled this "Breakfast Revisited". I still don't feel very well, so I'll bid you all a goodnight.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

As high as an elephant's eye

More household expenditure is on the way. I’d hoped the lawnmower would last to the end of the season, but it hasn’t; in fact today I couldn’t even complete the back garden. Some of the strips are nicely sheared, others have merely had the long grass rolled flat so that by tomorrow it will look as if nothing’s been done, and for others only half the blade seemed to be cutting. Then it gave up the ghost entirely. It all looks very strange.

So off we trotted to the garden centre to have a look at their selection, which turned out to be none. Instead we bought two large composts bins (300 litres) that the Council are discounting, from £45 or so to £11. Because our old bins, which Ned constructed from old pallets, have completely fallen apart this was a Good Buy. If only we had some lawnmowings to put in them.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

My mind is on the blink

It's been a long day. After a late night yesterday (gone midnight before I got to bed) I was awake at 5 am wondering whether Her Majesty had been bothered by the heat of the Gobi desert, and why she was there in the first place. Surely there are deserts closer to home that she might visit? After that an orchestra got entangled in the wiles of a witch who was mowing the lawns of an arboretum before the earth moved. I think I need another drink.

Friday, September 24, 2004

The Vicar of Bray

Donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey.

Good night.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Where the air is good

It looks like this will be a good year for country-wine makers. As I was walking the dogs around the fields I couldn’t help but notice how large and juicy all the hedgerow fruits are. The elderberries are the biggest I’ve ever seen them, although, like the blackberries, they aren’t very sweet; obviously the summer hasn’t been sunny enough for sweetness as well as juice. In one hedge there are some strange little plums, which I’ve never seen anywhere before. They’re about the size of a cherry, and when ripe are a greeny-yellow colour, with a red flush on the sunny side. I wouldn’t say they’re exactly sweet, but they are more edible than a sloe, for example. The hedgerow pear at the top of the field has a good crop of very round yellow pears, slightly smaller than a tennis ball, and the variety of crab apples is astonishing. Some are bright green, like tiny Granny Smith’s, some are yellow, and one tree has fruit that are a startling salmon pink. Absolutely stunning. The may-trees are crimson with berries, the sloes are almost the size of damsons and the dog-roses, which in June were studded with delicately-scented flowers, are scarlet with hips. The birds’ larder is well-stocked. I think I’ll go blackberrying at the weekend, donkeys and weather permitting - there’s room in the freezer for quite a few pounds, and I love blackberry and apple crumble in the winter.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

It's the way that you do it

The washing machine is in the breakfast room. It has a prominent position, almost perfectly in the way of everything. Is it over the counter and where it should be? Is it wombat. Did it arrive before 10am, and if not, did I get a phonecall before 10 to arrange a time? Ho ho ho. You’re even more na├»ve than I. We looked at the installation instructions, and I’m sure it’s perfectly DIY-able, given time. However tasks like that have a tendency to cause marital disharmony, so I’ve called our excellent tame plumber, who will send his boy round next Wednesday morning. I hope he’s as efficient and competent as his dad. With any luck Ned, Boy and I can get it to its final destination in the meantime.

Oh, and we’ve had another postcard! This time from ‘Sunny Beach’, Bulgaria. The message reads: “We’re wombling free. Love, Uncle B”.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

A wanderin' fool or a heart at rest?

I’ve been working at building up my muscles for tomorrow’s planned washing-machine juggling event, and I’m now confident that this is going to be a disaster. I’m assured that if the delivery bloke hasn’t arrived by 10am he will phone to arrange a delivery time. We’ll see. And what’s the betting he sucks his teeth and says “Oh no, madam, I’m not insured to lift anything” then mongooses off at high speed? If it does arrive before 10, at least Ned and the Boy will be around (and hopefully awake), so perhaps I will merely be required to supervise. I’m good at that.

Five skeins of geese flew over the house this evening, heading east. Good timing; tomorrow is the autumn equinox. It must nearly be time for the clocks to go back. I’d better top up the Brussels sprouts.

CNPS: 164

Monday, September 20, 2004

That will bring us back to doh

The freezer missed out on some stocks today. As I was bowling along on my merry way to work in fairly heavy traffic, I noticed that the cars in front of me were pulling away from the verge at a certain point. As there was no sign of a cyclist it seemed a little odd, till I realised they were trying to avoid a roe deer. It was a very silly roe deer, because the side of a busy road is not a sensible place to have a little sleep. Especially a sleep in that very strange position. It was clearly freshish because it was still deer-shaped, unlike the one further on which, by the morning rush-hour, had been fairly well ironed. If there had been less traffic, and if I had been homeward bound and not have to keep it all day in the car, getting hotter and hotter, I would have been able to stop and bung it in the boot for gralloching, peeling and dismemberment, with what wouldn’t fit in the freezer fitting perfectly in the dogs.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

These boots were made for walking

I hope the wildlife appreciate that the rights of ramblers to roam the land are now far more important (especially because skylarks are as yet disenfranchised) than their (the wildlife's) demands of privacy to reproduce. This Government has absolutely no idea about the natural world that lies beyond the gay bars of Islington.

On another note. Hooray! Ned's home! He's had a lovely weekend and now he's back safe with me. The Boy's home too, so the whole family's under one roof. Batten down the hatches.

CNPS: 159

Saturday, September 18, 2004

The game commences

Every time I ask the Boy for a bloggery suggestion he says “Harrod”. Harrod (not his real name, but it’s what he answers to) is one of his chums, who Ned and I have just about come to terms with. Our early dealings with him caused us to refer to him as ‘The Lying Braggart’ – and it’s a shame, because he could be a nice enough lad. But he’s always been insecure enough to try to buy friends – and his parents seem to have aided and abetted him, by showering him with money instead of their time and attention. Basically he’s a nice enough lad (and even nicer now that his parents have moved to France) and he’s growing up.

We had a major run-in with him a few years ago when his mother phoned me one morning and gave me an ear-bashing for the state in which Harrod, the Boy and another chum had left their house (“there was nobody else there, he knew he wasn’t to have a party while we were away and he swears he hasn’t”). Apparently, and judging by the debris, the three of them had smoked about 300 cigarettes (the Boy and O.C. didn’t smoke) and got through two bottles of whisky, two bottles of vodka, a bottle of Southern Comfort, 9 bottles of wine, about 100 assorted cans and bottles of beer and sundry alcopops. Call me suspicious, but I’d seen the Boy and Other Chum that morning, and they were fine, and so I said I reckoned they may have had outside help. I asked the Boy where he had been on the night in question – “At Harrod’s party” he said. It took over 6 months for Harrod to get around to apologising to us for the haranguing I received from his mother. Ned subtly reminded him every time he asked him to leave our house.

But I don’t think I can blame him for tonight’s little upset. A couple of months ago I started making a small stuffed toy orang-utan to be a geocaching ‘Travel Bug’ courier. It didn’t look too bad – the face was a bit of a problem – and it was put into a plastic bag and left on the kitchen table till we got around to planning the next cache. I’ve been tidying the table in readiness for Wednesday’s upheaval and found this toy. Someone – and it has to be one of the Boy’s friends – has opened the bag and drawn a frown and Hitler hairstyle on it. I’ll have to make a new one now. I’m not best pleased. I wonder which of the little s***s it was?


Friday, September 17, 2004

Climb ev'ry mountain

Things are improving. I’ve been making sure the Black Dog gets plenty of exercise trying to keep up with me, and I think it’s tiring. Scott is being a star and helping me with ideas (keep ‘em coming – you’re brilliant!) and Stu helped me sort out a computer problem I had. And of course Omally's bony hug helped. What lovely people I have got to know.

The only other problem looming on the horizon is how to get the new washing machine, which is being delivered on Wednesday, into the kitchen. It won’t fit between the units which divide the breakfast area from the kitchen, so it’ll have to be lifted over the top. Anyone feeling particularly strong?

Thursday, September 16, 2004

You saw me standing alone

Aquamarine, azure, cerulean, cobalt, cyan, indigo, monestial, navy, Prussian, royal, sky, ultramarine. Blood, cross, eyes, heaven, meanies, moodies, Mondays, hats for days, kerry, jays, birds, ridge mountains, peter, ribbon, pencil, Nile, movie, moon, oyster cult, velvet, lamp, jeans, whale, thin line, cheese.

Yep. I’ve got the blues.

PS. I apologise to Paul g0tlg for monopolising his commentification box. I enjoy a sensible, rational debate - and he's good!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Everybody knows one

I can hear the pitter-patter of paws in the distance, getting gradually closer. I know they’ll get steadily louder, and then I’ll feel the hot breath of the demon on the back of my neck. If I keep moving around a lot, I might be able to shake it off, but I can’t think of anywhere to go or anything to do to distract myself. I know this fidgetiness of old – it heralds the approach of the Black Dog of depression.

In an effort to avert it I’ll commit a shameless feat of Omally-bloggery-idea-copyingitis and tell you about my pal PJ. He was a lovely bloke, great fun to hang around with, and tremendous fun. He was tall – about 6’3” or so – and lanky, and drove a very small car which meant he was limited to how many people he could give a lift to because there was no legroom behind the driver’s seat. Anyway, a gang of us – mostly girls it has to be said – used to take fairly frequent trips up to Town to go to the theatres and art exhibitions and such. Because PJ worked in London we sometimes arranged for him to meet us and join us on our jaunt. This particular occasion we arranged to meet in the cafe at Waterloo station, which in those days had large circular windows overlooking the concourse. We were sat with our teas and coffees, engrossed in chat, when the sound of sniggering attracted our attention. When we looked up, there was PJ slowly to-ing and fro-ing past the window, arms making slow swimming movements and his mouth opening and shutting like a goldfish. We scuttled out to collect him and set off for the theatre. As we ambled through the West End he said something that irritated Liz, and she stalked off in front of us. PJ apologised loudly “Daphne! Daphne! Wait! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!. All right then, I’ll have the operation!” All the passers-by stared, Liz was mortified, and the rest of us were collapsed on the pavement in hysterics.

I still chuckle over that 20 years later. I wonder what happened to PJ?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

And that ain't what it takes

What on earth possesses them to do it? I refer, of course, to the enormous spiders which take it upon themselves to abseil into the bath overnight in order to squat there balefully and glare malevolently at me when I drag myself into the bathroom in the morning. Three there were today, busily covering the base of the bath with industrial-strength webs and pretending that the others didn’t exist. As usual I ignored them and hoped someone else would deal with them, but no, they’re still there. Why don’t they realise that I don’t keep flies in the bath, shin back up their ropes and go searching elsewhere? If I’m ever to have a bath again I’ll have to do my usual trick of scooping them up on the end of the backbrush and twitching them out of the window. Maybe I should mark them in some way to see if it’s the same stupid ones returning each time, or whether our house happens to be in the centre of Spiderworld.

Monday, September 13, 2004

I feel the earth move under my feet

When did the organisation of the world change? When my grandmother was young and living overseas, about the time of the first world war, the ‘Middle East’ was the Afghanistan, Persia, India region, the Far East was still China and Japan, but what is now known as the ‘Middle East’ (Palestine, Israel, Syria, etc) was the ‘Near East’. If that area is now the Middle East, what is India categorised as nowadays, and where has the Near East moved to? Belgium?

Sunday, September 12, 2004

It's a sign of the times

I'm afraid I shouted at the TV tonight. There was a programme called "Who got Marc Bolan's millions?" and it opened with sycophants gushing such statements as "He was the major star of his era", "He put the 'glam' into glam rock" etc. Yuck. Puke. Well I'm sorry, but I was there. Marc Bolan and T.Rex were just A.N.Other band, and not even really that big. In a class of 30 fifteen-year-old girls, only one was a Marc Bolan fan. Come on, this was the era of Rod Stewart and Elton John, and from the glam rock point of view there was Slade, Gary Glitter (enough said), Sweet, Wizzard, Mud ... the list is huge.

I'm sorry, but the best that can be said of Marc Bolan is that he was 'of his time'. Just like Buddy Holly, his main claim to fame is that he died young, in a tragic accident, in his prime.

Death elevates us all.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

We're riding along on the crest of a wave

Being a very tired person today (the burning ends of the candle seem to have met in the middle) I sat myself down with the puzzle section of the paper. Yes I know, coals to Newcastle and all that, but I like puzzles. So I had a go at the ‘fast five’ puzzle (completed within time, hooray!), tinkered with the large general knowledge crossword (Ned had started it) then moved on to the codebreaker. This is the puzzle where the letters of the alphabet are randomly numbered, the crossword squares numbered accordingly and you are given three letters to get you started. We make these at work - or rather, the computer generates them and we have to check them to make sure they are neither too easy nor impossible. Sometimes the given letters are too easy – E, R and S for example – and anyone with enough vocabulary to read a newspaper can solve it in minutes. Sometimes there is the opposite problem where the letters are very rarely used, such as J, V and Z. I was idly chatting to Ned as I worked on the puzzle (given letters I, P and V – not easy) telling him about one I was checking once with the letters B, J and M, and which I thought would be horribly difficult, until I scanned the wordlist (which also has to be checked against an ‘undesirable words’ list – nothing too obscure, nothing rude etc). There was ‘jamboree’ – a word containing all the given letters, and with the last two letters obviously being the same there was little else it could be, giving the solver four more letters straight away. Easy-peasy - and I've only seen that word appear twice in the year I've been checking those puzzles. Guess what word was in the puzzle in today’s paper. Yep, jamboree. How weird.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Living by numbers

We’re still going great guns with this Consecutive Number-Plate Spotting, by the way. Although I can see it can be a cause of stress, especially when you hit a dry spell and not see the next number for days (132 and 146 are a case in point), then as soon as you’ve ticked that one off your list you see them everywhere, the thrill when you make a spot is great. Okay, it’s very short-lived because you’re immediately on the lookout for the next one, but it’s one of Life’s little pleasures. And there are some very strange number-plates around. I thought, for instance, there are regulations about the size and font they can be in – but there are some very arty-farty ones around, with squiggles and swirls, and some with teeny-tiny lettering. Then there are the ones where people have changed the spaces between the components, so that SU 51E is squished to look like SUSIE. I was very envious when I saw the numberplate P4NTS, but the other day I saw a car with the numberplate M457 URB. Am I the only person who thinks that looks slightly rude?

CNPS: 152

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Oh Mr Wu! What shall I do?

Either my bum’s getting bigger or this dilemma has abnormally close-set horns. You see, my old washing machine has, for some months, been misbehaving. It’s an ancient twin-tub, and has given sterling service for nearly 15 years, cleaning many loads of laundry every week. It is quick – three loads of washing cleaned, spun and on the line in half an hour – and economical on water because the same water is recycled for each load; whites first, coloured light soiling next, heavily soiled items last. If the water still looks vaguely liquid and not a slice of the Ankh then the dog blankets get a sluice. Then a few weeks ago the spinner started playing up. Sometimes it would spin, sometimes not. Sometimes it wouldn’t stop spinning until the machine was unplugged from the mains. Then last week the drive belt to the washer section snapped, and I was forced to do the washing by filling the tub with water as usual and sloshing it about manually. It was an excellent slimming aid, as not only did it start building my upper body it also meant I didn’t have time to eat.

But seeing as I’m no longer at home every day I decided to enter the latter half of the 20th century and treat myself to a new-fangled automatic machine. We looked at lists of various machines, bearing in mind water use, economy of power, noise, efficiency and size. I don’t want to have to rearrange the kitchen, after all. An integral tumble-dryer isn’t necessary because we were given a tumble-dryer 20 years ago and it’s lived, unused, in the garage since we moved here 15 years ago. We decided on what seems to be the most suitable make and model, checked out prices (the store that claims “We will not be beaten on price” can be beaten by £50) and placed our order, to be delivered in about a week. I may not be strong but I have stamina – I can cope for a week. Then we got an email telling us the manufacturers were out of stock and we had to wait a month. At this news I grew quite agitated, and invested a fiver in a new drive-belt which Ned duly fitted, and while he was at it he tinkered with the spinner-switch and got that working properly again.

The dilemma is, now that my faithful old machine is working again, what should I do about the new one? Should I cancel it? Should I go ahead with the purchase and store it in the garage? Should I go ahead, have it plumbed in (is that a DIY job?), and store the old one in the garage (it’s ideal for washing the filthy dog-blankets, after all)? But the drum’s getting rusty ... Decisions, decisions ...

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

All together now

I was sent this by one of my other chummingtons. I don't usually put anything political or contentious in here because I like everyone to be happy little pals and not get arsy, but I thought it worth posting anyway.

To be sung to the tune of

'If you're happy and you know it'

If you want to show your mettle, ban the hunt.
If you want to grasp a 'nettle', ban the hunt.
If your backbenchers are roaring
and the crime rate it is soaring;
from the coffers cash is pouring
So ban the hunt.

It makes such a catchy headline - 'ban the hunt'.
We will set an urgent deadline - ban the hunt.
Whilst the peace of our great nation,
Transport, health and education
seem to be beyond salvation
Ban the hunt.

Show that government is working - ban the hunt.
Proof that there will be no shirking - ban the hunt.
If you've lost control of law;
Saving pensions is a bore
and you can't drum up a war
Then ban the hunt.

Just to show we earn our wages - ban the hunt.
Been discussing this for ages - 'ban the hunt'.
Not enough determination
to get tough on immigration
But we plead in mitigation
"Ban the hunt".

Lock your livestock up in boxes - ban the hunt.
'Cos you cant be cruel to foxes - (ban the hunt).
When they raid and maim and loot
(Are you SURE? - they look so cute)
You can poison trap and shoot
'em. Ban the hunt.

If you need an easy target, ban the hunt.
Cant control the Common Market - ban the hunt.
If your feeble leadership
Should be showing signs of slip
and you feel you've lost your grip
Then ban the hunt.

No Comments please. I realise this is a topic likely to cause ill-feeling, but it is my Blog for my views. For this reason, all comments on this post, whether positive, negative or neutral will be removed. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings

When I was doing the Post Office run for work today (although as it turned out I went too soon, because Big Boss discovered during the afternoon that he had packaged the wrong disks and had to email in apology and burn new ones and re-post the updated ones) I had to walk through the park, where there is a columnar poster-board where all the adverts for upcoming events are posted. Hooray! There’s going to be a Singalonga Sound of Music next month – for one night only! Oh poo. It’s a Thursday night, when Ned’s working. I don’t want to go on my own, and the Boy would rather stick pins in his eyes than accompany me. I’ve got a great costume in mind too – I think I’ve got enough brown paper and string ...

Monday, September 06, 2004

Let it fly in the breeze

How do they do it? No matter how many times a day the dogs are groomed, first with their rubber brush to loosen the dead hair and massage the skin, then with a bristle brush to remove the handfuls of whiteness and finally a polish with a chamois leather, I can never get them to reach a state of groomedness. You give the dog a stroke, and there’s still more loose hair. And it gets everywhere. I make sure to groom the dogs in the garden, because handfuls of the stuff come out and lie on the lawn until either I mow it and it goes in the compost or all the little birdies steal it as nest-lining material. All hail James Dyson – the bloke who has saved the sanity of dalmatian owners everywhere.

Judging by the amount they shed you’d think that after a fortnight they’d be bald, but no, there’s plenty more where that came from; and this ability to regenerate hair lasts all their lives – even very elderly geriatric dogs have a good thick coat. The scientist who manages to isolate the magic ingredient that causes this marvellous hair-regenerational ability will be worth squillions. Just think – no more ghastly comb-overs by desperate men!

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Like a circle in a spiral

When I was looking at the amazing satellite photos on ScottJ's blog about Hurricane Frances, and hoping that the damage to people, property and wildlife won’t be too severe, I noticed the similarity between hurricanes and the universe. (It was also very late at night and I was tired and somewhat emotional.) The storm spins round and around a central core, and the bits on the outside are whipping along at incredible speed. They say the galaxy is like that – a spiral circling around a central core, with our little solar system on the outer edge clinging on for dear life.

My best summing (and google) assures me that the UK is rotating at about 600 miles an hour (you multiply the cosine of your latitude with the speed at the equator - 1000 mph. I almost know what that means), and rotating around the Sun at about 67,000 miles per hour. So if you combine that with being whirled around the centre of the galaxy at about 559,000 miles an hour, is it any wonder I feel so tired?

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Saturday knight's all right for fighting

Tonight, on and off, because I kept having to go and watch how Frances was approaching the US, I was mostly watching a fillum called "A Knight's Tale". No, not the Chaucer story (he was a relation, but I shan't go into that now), but terrific entertainment. It was an English version of a Hollywood version of the Middle Ages, but what the heck - it's our history and we'll abuse it how we like. Historically it seemed to condense 300 years into about 20, judging by the styles of armour (human and horse), fashion (ditto) etc, but it managed to rise above that, even if the people were all far too clean. Incidental music included Thin Lizzy's 'The Boys are back in Town' and the language used was definitely late 20th century English. The jousting scenes were great, as were the tactical discussions ("How would you beat him?" "With a big stick. While he slept.").

Yeah okay, the film was rubbish (just shows what the alternatives were like). But it made both of us laugh out loud, which nowadays is no bad thing. And phwooaaarr! There was so much male crumpet - it was almost my 'Knights in White Satin'!

Friday, September 03, 2004

Picture this

We think we've been burgled. When we went on our last booze-cruise we brought back masses and masses of beer to last for ages, but somehow the stocks have been vanishing at a remarkable rate. Well, we've remarked on it, so that makes it remarkable in my book. (It's a very strange book. Odd pictures.) Anyway that means we have to do a repeat journey; luckily it should have been long enough ago for C&E not to be suspicious and dismantle our car and seize our purchases on our return, being under the false impression that only smugglers can get through that much alcohol so quickly. Think on't. If we were smugglers, would we have such a rubbish car? I rest my case.

Right, so another shopping trip is in the offing. Ned was checking ferry prices on the net then suddenly remembered to check his passport. It expires tomorrow. Whoops! Off to the photo booth tomorrow. That should be a laugh - mind you, they do say that if you actually look like your passport photo, you're not well enough to travel.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

They did the Monster Mash

It was a good day for gardening today, so I dug the remaining few rows of potatoes. The last five plants yielded 2 stone of spuds. Not bad, eh? I have no idea what variety they are, because it’s been several years since we last bought seed potatoes. Since then we’ve just kept replanting the ones that are too small to be eaten. And are potato fruits fertile? You know, those poisonous green tomato-looking things they produce? They must make fruit for a reason, after all. Can I just ignore them and dig the soil over, or will they grow into potato plants next year? We’ve noticed the slugs like some varieties more than others (spuds with pink eyes (King Edwards? Maris will know) seem especially vulnerable) but on the whole they’ve done all right. But they do grow into some strange shapes sometimes. I’m not sure which way up is best for this photo – are they boggle-eyed little aliens, or something ruder ...


This way up? Posted by Hello

Beattie’s leg’s improving slightly. The creams I’ve been smearing on and the tablets I’ve been shoving down her neck (possibly vice versa in the small hours) seem to be helping her. She was very good about it overnight, and we all got some sleep. People may think I’m daft taking so much care over what appears trivial, but if these lick injuries are neglected they can result in months of vet treatment (unpleasant for the animal and very expensive for the owner!) and have been known to require amputation, with the worst-case scenario being, depending on their location, even death. I’m not prepared to risk that, so I’ll carry on doing what I do best. Caring.

The postcard war continues! Another one arrived today – from Ibiza, simply saying “From 3 Ibiza babes!” We’ve not heard any news on whether the retaliation is working ...

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

When I need you

A pinch and a punch for the first of the month – and no returns!

Today has mainly been spent trying to prevent Beattie eating herself. In the past when we’ve all been away we’ve either taken the dogs down to stay with my mother (until her dog and one of ours decided they hated each other) or got house-sitters in. The sitters have been excellent, and meant that not only could the dogs stay in their own home, the house was occupied (and so guarded) as well. And for roughly the same price as kennelling four dogs – provided you can even find a kennel that has space for four all in together. Yes, it’s very odd, and not entirely pleasant, having strangers living in your house, but they look after it well, and the last one not only mowed the lawn for us, she also picked and froze the vegetables from the garden for us, so they weren’t wasted.

Anyway, when we went away last we left the dogs and homestead in the novice hands of the Boy. The dogs were fed and walked (I know that because a) the neighbours told us and b) sometimes when I popped back I walked them myself), but obviously they knew things weren’t quite right. Beattie is a very intense soul, who always tries her very very best to get everything right, and is filled with apologies if anything goes wrong – she gets upset if one of the others gets told off, let alone her. So, just as an unsettled child will suck its thumb in times of stress, she has the common doggy habit of licking a front leg. Till it bleeds. Then, because it is bleeding and sore, their natural instinct is to lick it to make it better. Of course, no matter how persistently they lick it doesn’t heal – a bit like scrubbing hands clean with a wire brush; you can never get rid of all the blood. This morning when I came downstairs I was greeted by Beattie, front leg all gory. Silly dog. She’s fine when I’m near; the problem arises when she’s bored. So guess where it looks like I’ll be sleeping for the next few nights – yep, under the kitchen table with her. (Taking her upstairs wouldn’t help – she knows they’re not allowed up there, so that would stress her more.) I don’t think the Boy considered their mental health as well as their physical health. It’s all very well being loved, but it would be nice to not be quite so indispensable.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied

After the Boy’s failed attempt to wash his hair when he got back from Reading – he fell asleep in the bath and forgot he hadn’t done it – he tried again today. He had more luck getting it clean, but the brush broke when he and his girlfriend tried to get the tangles out. For some reason he was surprised that it got knotted after a week with no attention, though my oft-repeated suggestion that he brush or comb it every day has always been scorned. He’s informed me that he is so fed up with it that he is going to get it cut. I’ve asked him to save me a ringlet.

(Thanks Scott!)

Monday, August 30, 2004

And we dance to the masochism tango

With my arms aching so much they kept waking me last night, why did all today’s household tasks involve using them? Lawnmowing, ironing, pushing a shopping trolley, weeding … I repeat, ow, ow, ow.

PS. I forgot to say yesterday that I saw two kingfishers, the first I've seen since I was a little girl of 4 years old. It made it all worthwhile. :)

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Anything you canoe, I canoe better

Ow, ow, ow. I don’t think there’s a single bit of me that isn’t aching. After a late night last night (bed after midnight – we were watching “100 scariest moments” and fell asleep at about number 15 – does anyone know what was supposedly the scariest?) we got up early to meet up with chums and take the canoe for a paddle. We put in at Bidford and paddled to Evesham, a distance of about 8 miles. We paused briefly for a picnic lunch, and were forced to adjourn to a handy riverside pub (free mooring for patrons) during a sudden sharp shower, but still got about 3 hours paddling in. My neck, back, shoulders, arms and tummy are all protesting strongly.

I know Henry the Thirst finds boaty people very friendly, and maybe they are down in his neck of the woods, but the first two we met, forever to be known as Bill (William Anker) and Tom (Thomas Osser) because of the speed at which they drove their powered craft past us, nearly capsizing a canoe containing children, were quite simply stupid and arrogant. We were quite fascinated (in a ghastly sort of way) by a woman in her narrowboat, when we stopped for our lunchtime picnic, who was concentrating deeply on her small hand-mirror, which was making her task of either squeezing her spots or plucking her beard easier. The remaining people we came across just tried to be awkward, but when we could prove that all the canoes were licenced with the BCU so we had a perfect right to be on the water and using the lock they shut up and mongoosed off.

And why do anglers do it? Yes, they are outside in the fresh air, but they’re not taking any exercise, about 80% of them smoke and they sit just far enough apart to make conversation impossible.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Curate's egg

Well, what a strange event that was; it was both better and worse than I’d been anticipating. For one thing we were in little compartments in the middle of an arena, with no shade or shelter from whatever weather came our way. There are about 120 Kennel Club recognised breeds, and all ‘parent’ breed clubs had been contacted and asked if they would participate. The sum total of attendees was 4 Shelties, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, a Border terrier, a Hamiltonstovare and three dalmatians (of whom one was still (just) in season and Harry thought it was his birthday and Christmas rolled into one). So the ‘Parade of Breeds’ was a very sparse affair. Probably because it was the morning of the first day of the show, there seemed to be very few public about as well. When we’ve been there in previous years it’s been busy, busy, busy, but not today. Even the Guinness bar, which is usually bursting at the seams with customers, was rattling. It meant that, in the three hours we were sat there trying to look welcoming rather than lost we had almost a dozen people come up to talk to us. Bor-ring.

And I don’t quite know how it happened, but I find I’ve volunteered for Discover Dogs at Crufts next March ...

Apart from that Ned managed to buy 3 ammo cases for a fiver, Harry had a professional photo taken (cracking!) and we tried, for the first time, some yummy-looking barbecued tiger prawns. They aren’t really very nice, are they?

Friday, August 27, 2004

Julia says

Do you remember ages ago I told you I’d been volunteered for a couple of Breed Club events? The first was at the beginning of the month when I drove to Malvern and helped out in the kitchens – it was a great relief to know that was why the rubber gloves were needed! Tomorrow we take Harry to the Town and Country Festival at Stoneleigh to participate in their version of Discover Dogs – sick-makingly advertised as ‘Cuddle a Canine’. (Bring chairs and an umbrella.) We often do Discover Dogs at Crufts (Harry was on TV there one year and got to kiss Philippa Forrester), but I think tomorrow there will be more children trying to put sticky fingers on my nice clean dog. Our stint is from 10am till 1pm, and reading through the blurb that was posted to me I have discovered, to my horror, that I am expected to take part in the Parade of Breeds just before lunch. Oh. My. God.

CNPS: 139

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Pounding away, pounding away ...

While we were walking back from the barbecue last weekend I spotted on the pavement a pound coin, which naturally went straight into my pocket to be forgotten about. When eventually I remembered it, it had vanished. It wasn’t in my pocket, nor on the floor from when I undressed, and closer examination revealed a pound-coin sized hole in the lining of the pocket. Drat! Oh well, I thought, c’est la vie. It’s obviously a coin with wanderlust, and I put it out of my mind. Until this morning when I was putting on the shoes I had last worn to the barbie. There was a stone or something in the toe of one – no! It was the pound! It must have fallen through the hole in my pocket, slithered down the leg of my jeans and plopped neatly into the side of my shoe. I’ve taken no more chances – I’ve invested it on a Lucky Dip for Saturday’s lottery. Fortune, here I come!

PS. Are the Olympics over yet? Is it safe to turn on the TV again?

CNPS: 136

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Stand and deliver

There’s been a long discussion going today on another site where I spend a lot of time, which was sparked off first thing by someone (J) posting about what a silly thing she’d done. She had arranged for her son and herself to go to London for a couple of nights, stay in a hotel, and go to the theatre. She had the theatre tickets, train tickets and the hotel reservations all safe, but when she was packing this morning before they caught the train she noticed that the theatre tickets were for last night’s performance. We’ve all done stuff like that (classic TOGgery, Scotty!) and sympathy and cheer was duly offered, with suggestions of cheap alternative entertainment in the Big Smoke.

All went well until another person (H) suggested trying to get a refund from Visa by concocting a story about how they weren’t able to make it there. Now, I know it’s not just me (because several people also queried why one would lie like that) but to me that seems like fraud. The tickets had been received, the performance had gone ahead - every aspect of the contract had been fulfilled, at least from the point of view of the theatre company and Visa. Yes, we all make mistakes, and it’s unfortunate, but surely it’s wrong to try to get someone else to (literally) pay for them? Apparently I and the others are suckers who deserve all the shit that life throws at us – ‘H’ thinks it’s better to duck and let some innocent person cop the lot instead of you, no matter that it’s your fault. But if Visa paid up, then they would claim on their insurance, and their Insurance company would raise their premiums. To everybody. Just as every shoplifted item results in retail prices rising to cover the losses. Every single spurious insurance claim results in innocent people paying the bill. And I don't like being robbed - it gets me very angry.

*Has a beer to simmer down*

PS. Hurrah for Autorecovery! The computer crashed when I was drafting the blog in Word, but it was still there after I restarted!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Let the memory live again

Another day, another few quid off the mortgage. Actually it was quite productive apart from my moment of TOGness at lunchtime. I knew I had two things to do in town – go to the Post Office and Something Else. As I couldn’t remember what the second thing was (I was sure it involved Smiths) I went to the PO first then strolled up the Parade to the rest of the shops. I walked around Smiths, but nothing jogged my memory and I went back down the hill to the office. Almost the instant I got in I remembered that I had intended to buy the paper, so got the office manager to get it for me. Luckily she’s as TOGgy as me (I helped her remember several words today) so I didn’t feel too foolish.

CNPS: 135

Monday, August 23, 2004

When I'm calling you-oo-ooo-ooo

I had a terrific idea for some new puzzles for work - a topic with many variations on the same theme, so lots of output from very little input. It didn't work. :( The idea is still brilliant, but most bingo calls are just too long, and I could only just get one puzzle out instead of the three I'd imagined. Damn. Back to the drawing-board and more searching for novel topics.

CNPS: 132

Sunday, August 22, 2004

I need a little time

Don't weekends pass quickly? The long list of chores that, in the old days before I restarted paid employment, could be spread over all the weekdays so that the weekend could be free for quality 'family time', now has to be crammed into the days 'off', and depend even more for success upon the weather. So today was concentrated on the washing, ironing and gardening, and fortunately the weather today has been perfect for all of these, and has been a positive, productive day; but crumbs! I'm weary! And tomorrow it starts all over again.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

It's only words

Ned and I went to a barbecue at a chum's house tonight. Generally I detest barbecues - I hate the flavour of the badly-cooked food so tend to over-compensate by drinking, with the result that by the next day I have contracted a strange virus with the symptoms of nausea and headache. But tonight was different. Clever Lindsey had prepared lots of food in advance so that her husband's macho-cookery (why do men only cook out of doors? Is it a primeval memory of slaughtering mammoths and throwing the corpse onto a bonfire?) was appreciated by the men and ignored by the women. All tums were well lined and a good evening was had by all. Even me.

Anyway, in the interests of science, I have started an experiment in the village. When we girls were gathered around the brazier warming our particles I filled them in on the "plinth" theory. They have all promised to put the theory to the test tonight and report back. We do, however, all have our doubts, and have a side-bet going that the general reaction will be one of "You wha'?" In fact Liz got over-enthused with the idea and experimented early. We were right - her husband looked totally confused and said "Eh?"

I still reckon Mr Rankin is wrong.

CNPS: 131

Friday, August 20, 2004

Days of future past

Ned is having a rant. The cries of “Bushbabies! Where’s my gyrocopter? I want my silver suit!” are this evening echoing around Genie Towers. I have no idea what prompted this right now, but those of you of a certain age (Hello? Is anyone else there?) will recognise that those are items which, when we were at school, were promised to us by ‘The Year 2000’. It was True Fact that in that magical year all menial tasks would be performed by robots, everybody would wear silver space-suit type outfits and have jetpacks and personal flying machines so that traffic jams would be things of the past. It must be true. They told us that in school, and we all drew pictures of "Life In The Future".

Well, what happened then? And what toot are they filling children’s heads with for 2050 (apart from having to work till they’re 70 before they qualify for a pension, by which time they might just have paid off their student loans)?

Where did it all go so wrong? We have been cheated.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

And if it's really true, oh lucky you


Happy Boy Posted by Hello

At last the waiting’s over and the results are in. I was right in that the teachers were not to be believed and AAC was not on the cards. Unfortunately neither was my prediction of ABD – the actual tally was BCE. His offer from Warwick required BBC, but they did say at the time that they might be willing to ‘stretch a point’ if he didn’t quite achieve those grades. However, none of us imagined for a moment that, when he phoned Warwick to tell them of his actual grades, that they would confirm his place! Quite how the jammy little bugger has swung that I don’t know – but he’s delighted, and we’re thrilled to bits. I do hope they haven’t made a mistake.

And congratulations to all the Blogring's exam-takers. In the immortal words of Young Mr Grace - "You've all done very well"!