Sunday, July 31, 2005

I remember you-oooooo

So, on Saturday we got up an hour too early and drove to Birmingham International to get our plane to Glasgow for my nephew’s wedding do. The first couple of times I flew (US and Sri Lanka) I went in a jumbo, and last time when we went to Italy it was a rather smaller plane, but still quite sizeable – one aisle and 5 seats wide. This time we had the sort of plane that needs to be pushed to the big elastic band at the end of the runway in order to get enough speed to get airborne (Embraer 145 if anyone’s interested). Two seats on one side of the aisle and one on the other, and not enough headroom for Ned to stand up straight. Still, it got us there, and my brother met us at the railway station. The afternoon was spent at his house with family then we went to the hotel to have a sleep to keep us going till the evening. The do went well – the show was stolen, as expected, by my niece’s twin daughters, who at 15 months old are walking like zombies with their arms held out on front, and have grown even more similar than they were last time I saw them, and are stunningly beautiful. We didn’t drink a lot – not at the prices the bar was charging (“A pint of beer and a glass of wine? Let me relieve you of six of your Sassenach squids, sir.”)

After a very hot night in a ground-floor hotel room with only patio doors and no window, which found me in the wee small hours sat butt nekkid playing at punka-wallah and fanning the outside door back and forth to get some air, my brother gave us a lift back to the airport. After a minor squabble about who was going to sit by the window we watched the other passengers boarding. “Ooh, doesn’t that bloke look like Stu?” we said to each other. (Regular readers may experience a touch of deja vu here.) “Scuse me, are you Chris Leslie?" asked Ned. And it was! Then Simon Nicol and Ric Sanders appeared. The only Fairport member missing was Dave Pegg. We asked them how the American tour had gone, and there was a horrid silence. “The first eight hours were fine” said Simon “then we broke the bassist. Bass players are rubbish. They only play two notes and manage to get those in the wrong order …” It sounds as though there had been a major falling-out. Oh dear. Anyway, we chatted about having our Cropredy tickets, and seeing them at Cox’s Yard. “We’re playing there again on Thursday”, Chris said. We expressed interest, and then Simon said “Give us your names and you can be our guests. It’ll only cost you a pint … of tequila.” So guess where we’ll be on Thursday night?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Who's sorry now?

Whilst wandering around Banbury in a bit of a strop about the expected non-appearance of a certain sum of money, we watched enthralled as a delivery lorry reversed up a pedestrianised street to make a delivery to a pub ("Thursday night is Litten Kitten night"). The resounding 'booiiiinnnnggg!' as he backed into the tall ornamental castiron postbearing two substantial hanging baskets, leaving it at a very arsy-tarsy angle, attracted the attention of many other passers-by, and we waited to see the driver's expression when he examined his handiwork.

And we waited.

And we waited some more. Nothing. He didn't appear. We walked past the lorry and saw the driver leaning on a bell trying to make his delivery, and Ned asked him if he'd seen what he'd done. "Of course I have, I know what's happened, I'm not stupid." was the reply. We were a tad puzzled at that as he definitely hadn't bothered to look and clearly didn't give a toss.

So we took his number and reported him, and came home feeling a little better.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The time rolls on those minutes fly by

The electricity man’s note said he’d call back sometime this morning. Surely he won’t be much longer?

I’m getting really ratty, because I can’t find the program we used to have to let me tinker with artwork. Grrrrr!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Who shall have a fishy

Rather than spend a few happy hours in bananana-related activities (I have some nice ideas, but finding suitable artwork is proving troublesome), yesterday was mainly spent in the pond. I noticed a couple of days ago that the goldfish weren’t very interested in their food but thought no more of it. Then yesterday morning I reckoned that the ones who were on their sides at the surface didn’t look all that well. I picked on out and it gasped and flipped a bit so I put it back in while I went to prepare an intensive care ward (a bucket filed with very aerated rainwater from the butt). As I lifted them out the movement of the water released a vile stench – a full pond-cleaning job was called for. One of the worst tasks in the world. It means carefully baling out buckets and buckets of water and sieving it for wrigglers (mainly tadpoles in varying stages of development and efts) before pouring it down the drain. Some fish seemed okay, others were a bit rocky and a few threw off this mortal coil whilst in intensive care. The dogs were fascinated, and had to be restrained from rescuing the fishies from the water.

Anyway, as the water level got lower and lower the smell of the sludge at the bottom got worse and worse; and it was too deep to reach from the side. This is the stage I hate the most, when I have to get into the pond to pass the filled bucket up to Ned. The stinking mud gets right into your skin and no matter how much you wash afterwards you can still smell it. Now that it’s all refilled the surviving fishes seem much happier. What’s the betting the heron appreciates being able to see them better and scoffs the lot?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Makin up a mess of fun

Hooray! We've stuffed our first banananas!

One bananana ... Posted by Picasa

Two bananana ... Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 21, 2005

I'm tired, and I want to go to bed

It's only 8.30ish, I'm stone cold sober, but I've already fallen asleep on the sofa once tonight. Not like me at all. I'm just exhausted and I ache everywhere. Night night.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Black shadows are following closely


We have:
a) a large box of bananana skins in various sizes
b) Several bottles of bananana puree
c) Five boxes (one badly damaged, with some of the contents embuggered - how much force does it take to bend 5mm tough steel?) of bananana-stuffing equipment
d) A deeveedee about How To Stuff Banananas
e) One insurance cover note so the garage can tax the new car
f) One old monitor
g) One overfilled hallway

We haven’t got:
a) The new-style log book to part-exchange our old car (backlog at DVLA)
b) The exchange monitor that should have arrived yesterday

Result: indigestion and nightmares.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

This virtual insanity we're living in

Or: a fool and his money are soon parted.

Golf isn’t a game that’s ever appealed to me, but I now have confirmation that golfers must be barmy. The Royal Bank of Scotland has brought out some fivers with Jack Nicklaus’ picture on them, and people are actually selling them on Ebay - and making a profit! A single note sold for just over £20, and a set of four (consecutive numbers I presume) fetched £95. They’re being advertised as ‘limited edition’ – well yes, that’s true – there will only be 2 million issued, so that can be called ‘limited’. Curiously they’re all being bought by Americans. Perhaps someone ought to tell them that if they go to the RBS website they can buy them for a fiver!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Good buy - eeeek!

I hope our period of unusual expenditure is coming to an end, because it's making me hyperventilate. Not only did I splurge on the plane tickets to Scotland, but we paid for the bananana factory today - it should arrive on Wednesday - and then went out and bought a car - which we collect on Friday. My wedding outfit will certainly have to be a charity shop affair.

I wonder what we'll call the factory? I have an idea but I think there'd be an objection.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Yes! We have no banananas

But we're getting closer. We were outbid on Ebay for a second-hand Bananana Factory setup kit, so have bitten the bullet and ordered a brand-new one for less than the highest bid for the used one ... and tomorrow we might buy a car. Ooh! All this expenditure isn't good for me.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Mister could you maybe lend a hand

According to his random heading, the last thing Mongers googled for was 'Fitsuno'. Is that what Prince Charming said when trying the glass (or fur, if you're being accurate) slipper on Cinderella's little tootsie?

Friday, July 15, 2005

It's raining again ...

Actually, no it isn't. Not a drop has fallen today, though I think we had about seven yesterday. As today's St Swithun's Day, he who determines the rainfall for the next forty days and nights, it appears we may be in for a drought. Where's Michael Howell (or whatever his name was) when he's needed?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Why don't you go where fashion sits

Okay … I’ve got the hotel room booked for the end of the month and I’ve booked the flights (aren’t airport taxes a swizz? But I really didn’t fancy spending most of a weekend on a train) so we can not only get to my nephew’s wedding do, but we have somewhere to sleep as well. But what shall I wear? The invitation says ‘formal’, but what does that mean nowadays? It’s an evening do, with speeches and dancing. Nephew, brother, and no doubt other males, will be bekilted. Ned can wear his suit. But should I wear my ‘little black dress’ (though I usually only wear it to funerals), or something more frivolous? I think my Biba dress might not be quite right, even though it’s an original and retro’s ‘in’. Long or short? Tailored or flowing? Decisions, decisions. I think I’m going to have to go shopping. Boo. I’m told Oxfam in Summertown has a very upmarket donor catchment area, and fab bargains can be had there. But I can’t face going to Oxford; it’ll have to be a Leamington Special.

Eek! A wedding present! What do you get for a couple who’ve been living together for years and therefore have everything they need?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Wee'll meet again ...

When we decided to keep Harry and Piglet – not that there was a lot of option, because nobody wanted a dog puppy (not even us, if truth be told!) – we realised that if we were to retain a semblance of sanity we’d have to get Clover and Beattie spayed. Having entire dogs and bitches, who there’s no way should be mated together, in the same house is emphatically not to be recommended! The girls were selected for surgery because Clover was too old to have another registerable litter and Beattie wasn’t suitable for breeding anyway. Neither males nor females should be neutered until they’re physically mature, so the boys had to be left intact for at least 18 months. So the girls went, midway between seasons when surgery is safest, to visit Uncle Geoff the vet. That was 5 years ago.

Now, no surgery is without risk or side-effect, and one of the side-effects of spaying is a higher risk urinary incontinence. If a bitch is spayed very young it’s more likely to happen sooner rather than later, and we hoped that, being older girls, Clover and Beattie would be okay. However for about the past year we’ve noticed that Clover’s been leaving little damp patches, about the size of a half-crown (which depressingly the vet didn’t understand!) behind her when she’s been asleep, but it was only intermittent, and liveable-with. But then a couple of days ago Beattie started doing the same. Oh dear – but worse was to come. That evening I sat on the sofa beside Beat, right in a hot puddle. She’d had a flood. Luckily it’s good drying weather and I managed to get everything washed and clean and dry in a day. The cushions are now encased in binbags with the covers over the top, so at least the sofa (it’s many years too late to ban them from the furniture) won’t smell like a urinal.

So today Clover, Beattie and I paid a visit to the vet to make sure they didn’t have cystitis or an infection or anything horrid, but easily treatable, like that, and no, they haven’t. So I’ve got a bottle of Propalin syrup for them, which they have to have three times a day (just as well I’m not working now) which is supposed to be very effective. Fingers crossed it works. The most awkward thing at the moment is going to be storing it – it has to be kept at below 25°, but not refrigerated. With the outside temperature being roughly that at 10pm, I think we may have a problem!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Red and yellow and pink and green

I could be a good painter. Not great, but certainly in the good-to-saleable range. My skills are very rusty and I’d need to do a hell of a lot of work and practice to get back up to speed but I could do it – if I had a painter’s soul. To become really good takes a high degree of selfishness; letting nothing, absolutely nothing, distract you from your goal. Nothing else could take priority.

But I could never have that degree of self-centredness because I have a family and home to care for which are simply more important to me. I can no more let them fend for themselves than I can swing gracefully from the topmost twigs in the trees. I realise I’ll never be more than a dabbler – a better than average dabbler maybe – an amateur. And to completely prove the point, I don’t really mind that I haven’t got What It Takes to be great. So I'll happily continue dabbling and daubing because it's fun, but I'm not kidding myself that the results will be the mainstay of the Bananana Factory.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Voices. He heard his uncle's voice ...

We were watching the programme about the British landscape (studying mainly Victorian landscape painters and seeing how the places had changed with the passing of time), where the centre of focus had travelled from the east coast to Dorset, to Wales, to Devon; in Wales there was a male voice choir singing 'Gwlad, gwlad ...' etc - you know, the other standard Welsh song sung at rugby matches - not the one about saucepans.

Anyway, one of the Welsh blokes asked David Dimbleby (him wot presents the programme) what 'dialect' (I think he meant accent) he had. DD replied that he spoke the dialect he was taught at his father's knee - BBC English. He went on to say that it was a dying voice. I wish he'd made the point that it's as important as any other tongue, and should be given the same importance and preservation as, say, Welsh? After all, it's one of the few accents that everyone understands ...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

What's it all about?

You pathetic cowards.

Do you think that'll do your cause (that's assuming you're bright enough to even have one) any good? Well, in case you're so very thick you haven't worked it out for yourself, I'll tell you. It won't.

Today, a city slowed slightly, but it didn't stop. Millions of people's days took an unexpected detour, but tomorrow things will be back on track, and in 100 years nobody will remember you - because you're too afraid to come out in public.

That's why you're pathetic cowards. And do you know what? You're just dog shit on the sole of my shoe, so I don't even hate you. You're merely filth to be washed away, into oblivion.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Never once forgetting there's one born every day

Listening to the seemingly unending Olympic anthem that was heroically warbled (well done on that almost-successful final note/shriek, whoever was 'singing') before the IOC announced that London had drawn the short straw, I was reminded strongly of the St Trinian's School Song. Happy days!

PS. I wonder where the pistol-shooting events will be held. They can't be held within the UK, because of the handgun laws. Even the UK team (and hopefuls) have to practice abroad ... or do you think that bliar/whoever will discover a loophole in the law?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Everything all right

When we were in Cornwall we looked around loads of galleries, mostly of the shop variety, but also the Newlyn Gallery. We both know of the Newlyn school and were interested to see some of their stuff ‘in the real’ rather than as prints. Normally I’m happy to spend several hours in an art gallery, but this one was small so I didn’t think the visit would take all morning. In fact I think it took two minutes. What a load of tosh! There was none of the Newlyn School stuff there at all (we learned later they’re in another building in Penzance), just recent crap. There were some Christmas-tree-shaped prints in various colours, each of which can’t have taken more than a minute to produce (I did similar stuff at art college and used it as wrapping paper). There was a pen-and-ink drawing, about 6 inches by 4, with a flat black blob and some scribbled lines, a bit like this \/

How much? Posted by Picasa

Do you know how much that was on sale for? £325. I couldn’t believe it. So what with seeing that lot (the ‘works’ upstairs make Rothko look talented) and the variable quality of the wares in all the other galleries has inspired me to take up my brushes again. I’m not brilliant by any means, but I know I can do better than a lot of them! So for my birthday Ned’s got me some more oils (my old ones – including the ones I’ve inherited from various dead relatives - are still soft in the tubes, but the tops won’t come off, and they need to be attacked from below) and an easel, and I’ve already started blocking in a Cornish view.

Towards Sennen Posted by Picasa

It’s donkey’s years since I last wielded a brush in anger, but it’s slowly coming back. Here’s one I prepared earlier (1990, I think):

Making waves Posted by Picasa

It was quite entertaining when we went to buy the stuff, because one of the women in the shop had just realised she’s been drinking decaf all day and was needing her fix, and the other one couldn’t get her head around the fact that we were doing secret shopping that was to be a surprise present for me. The twitchy one put the paints into a bag and sang out “Surprise!” as she handed it over, and then gave a spiral of what she described as ‘special blutak’. I do hope she got her caffeine soon afterwards.

After we went shopping in Banbury this morning the Boy treated me to a pint and a plate of chips in the pub. As we were sat there he muttered “I hope they realise you’re my mum, and I’m not a toyboy!” Well, what could I do? I replied “Get your coat, you’re pulled” and then started calling him ‘darling’, became very tactile and made suggestions about renting a room whenever anyone was within earshot. He blushed. Hahaha!

My biggest brother asked me if there was room on my cake for yet another candle. Tchoh! Silly boy! Doesn’t he realise you just get a bigger cake?

*goes to look for some jelly and ice cream.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Never leave the stream of warm impermanence

There are changes in the wind at Genie Towers. What with me not in paid employment, and Ned being fed up to the back teeth with driving a three-hour round trip for work, now seems to be the right time to take stock of our lives and consider what we should do. A bloke on the radio said what changed his life was being asked “What would you choose to do if you were told that you couldn’t fail?” Ooh, that’s a good question – there are so many options for dream careers. I’d love to have a smallholding and raise our own organic meat. A small boarding kennels would be good – maximum half-a-dozen dogs. Or writing. Or painting. We could use Ned’s 30+ years printing experience and set up a small publishing house – or maybe small-volume tee-shirt printing. Of course everything needs a cash injection to get it started, but we’ve nearly paid off this house so we have collateral for loans … but then I start to get cold feet thinking of the risk if it all goes belly-up. This is going to need a lot of careful thought.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Filling me up with the rules

Well, progress is being made on the template front. Thanks to Carol I now have the comments at the bottom where I think they ought to be, and the other bits and bobs are stuffed haphazardly down at the foot. *makes note to ask Lorry how she’s got hers so tidy*. Typically, this morning I got an email about how to enmendify the old template, so I carefully copied template #4 onto Word, then replaced the original one and did the modifications required. Guess what? It didn’t work. (I thought if I went back to the old one there’d be less chance of someone stumbling into it in the dark, thinking they were at home, and wondering why things were in the wrong places … ;) ) So I cleared that, re-installed #4 and started another hour’s tinkering. The result is what you see before you. I’m sure I’ll get used to the new d├ęcor before long. In the meantime, be prepared for strangenesses while I experiment.

I still have the headache. Nothing’s budging it – it feels how I imagine it feels if someone shoves a 6-inch nail through your skull via your left eye. I’m reduced to munching feverfew leaves from the garden (the front garden only, where ‘the boys’ don’t go). My knees are improving, though, so that’s good.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Your mother warned you there'd be days like these

Some days are just pants.

This morning I queued for ages at Leamington station to try to get two cheap returns to East Kilbride because my nephew’s having a wedding reception at the end of the month (I’d like to go to the wedding itself, but it’s going to be in Banff. Not Banff, Scotland. Banff, British Columbia (? - Canada, anyway), but the station was in chaos because of the tunnel collapse at Gerrards Cross (I bet he is) which has meant all the trains to London are disrupted. By the time I reached the front of the queue I was tired and disappointed to learn that the cheap tickets aren’t issued till next week. Poo. Flying would be a lot quicker and easier (and probably cheaper), but I can’t find any flights either.

Once home I spent several hours trying to change the blog template to make the text wrap properly instead of running under the sidebar, but I don’t know anything like enough about code to be able to do that. So I've tried a new template entirely, and that's almost right, except I can't work out how to put the comments at the bottom of the post, instead of the top. Nor can I put the Haloscan and site counter logo-wotsits where I want them.

Then I carelessly left the washing out while I walked the dogs, so it rained and now the clothes are almost as wet as when I hung them out earlier.

Now I’ve got a headache which painkillers won’t shift.

Some days are just pants.