Saturday, December 31, 2005

By the left, by the right, by the centre

As we shivered in the garage stuffing banananas we considered the curious conundrum of Taste. Why is it that images of despots and terrorists of one political extreme are considered acceptable, such as Ho Chi Minh, Uncle Joe Stalin (who was responsible for the deaths of millions of his own countrymen) or Che Guevara, which we're assured is still a 'must-have' image in university halls of residence, whereas those of the equal and opposite political extreme, such as Mussolini and Hitler, are considered completely beyond the Pale? Political Correctness is an incomprehensible and dangerous thing.

Happy New Year to anyone who celebrates it. No doubt we will be awake till the small hours until our terrified dogs have finally relaxed from the fireworks let off by all the inconsiderate bastards within earshot. There's no excuse; anyone who hasn't been in a coma since the age of 5 is aware that fireworks terrify animals, wildlife and farm animals (many early lambs are aborted at this time) as well as domestic pets, so they're torturing them deliberately. Why not be content with church bells and vocal good wishes? That's all that's needed.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Do you promise not to tell?

It's a pity I can't tell you about today. It means you won't get to hear about how Ned hopes the lady he saw engaging in activities of a columban nature without previously drawing the curtains was our neighbour's son's girlfriend and not our neighbour (dog-walking with closed eyes is a risky occupation); and how the whimper that I thought was a signal of imminent collapse of a spinal nature turned out to be something else entirely, and which was even funnier than playing hide and seek in Tescos.

But if I told you about all that I'd have to kill you.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Grown accustomed to your face

As we walked around Banbury, trying to find an open shop which sold pink thread, we passed a group of small boys walking in the other direction. One of them looked hard at Ned, with his Peruvian hat pulled down to protect his ears from the biting wind. A few paces on we distinctly heard him hiss to his friends "That was Father Christmas!"

I must get the clippers out and tidy Ned's beard.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Momma's got a brand new pegbag*

Yay! We managed to do 100 caches this year as planned! Today we did Pining for the "Ford"s for our 99th and Braunston Tunnel for our 100th. The latter was a much longer walk than expected (although a very interesting one), so I think it'll be one that sticks in our memories.

*My sister-in-law gives unusual presents!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

And a partridge in a pear tree

It's a lovely Christmas! We're all healthy, all happy, all home. Lunch was perfect

and the pudding burned nicely.

The dogs are walked, the fire's lit, and there are no more chores. Happy Christmas! Cheers!

*But I still can't dowse, even though I have lovely new rods. My dad could. Why can't I?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

God rest ye merry, gentlemen*

I think everything at Genie Towers is as ready as it's going to be now. The tree's in, up and dressed; the surface of the dining table's been found and polished; the cards are artfully displayed (thank you to all who've sent them - I can't remember whose cards I sent before the incident with my mother, which rather threw all my organisation out of the water. If you didn't get one, it's not because I don't care about you); Gertie the Goose is defrosting nicely; tonight's gammon's simmering while the honey-and-mustard glaze blends ready for roasting; I've hoovered and tidied and cleaned; I think it's time to crack open a bottle of something pleasant and relax.

I hope everyone has a merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2006.

*And ladies too, natch!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Fuels rush in

So, today I whizzed into Leamington to do seekrit shopping (reasonably successfully), chatted to an ITV person who was going to do a News report about the missing teenager (still no trace :( ), then decided to fill up with petrol because the fuel gauge is playing very-silly-buggers and is showing that we have three times the amount of fuel that the tank actually holds. Keeping a tab on how many miles we've done since the last fill no longer helps because after about 20 minutes driving all the counters reset themselves to zero.

Anyway, I got to the filling station - blessedly unbusy - grabbed the hose and opened the flap over the filler cap. Which wasn't there. Where it should be was a hole. I still don't know why I started searching for the filler cap on the roof and on the ground seeing as I hadn't taken it off. Then I remembered that Ned said he'd filled up in Banbury on his way home from his glingle-trip a few days ago. The fillercap might still be there! having topped up I bunged a rubber glove in the hole and drove off. When I got home I called that garage.

Me: "Is that the filling station?"
Her: "Yes"
Me: "Good. Now, this might sound strange, but have you had a filler-cap handed in?"

Pause while the girl at the garage roared with laughter.

Her: "We have a bagful of fillercaps under the counter. Come and choose one!"

So we did. It isn't actally our original one, but it fits. Just like Cinderella's fur slipper.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

All stood still

Why is idleness so tiring? Today I sat for two hours while we drove to Horsham, I sat for half an hour having a cup of tea with sister-in-law, I sat for an hour having lunch with mother-in-law, and I sat for two hours while we drove back. I'm sure my bottom has spread considerably, and I'm exhausted.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

They seek him here

How difficult should it be to buy a jar of piccalilli? Very difficult indeed, if you're picky about the brand. It's easy enough to find jars of yellow gloop which masquerade as this elusive pickle, but the only variety we like is made by The Bay Tree Company; a really scrummy mixture with decent-sized chunks of recognisable vegetables. Many delis stock various Bay Tree products (we know - today we've been to most of them in North Oxfordshire, North Gloucestershire and South Warwickshire) but the piccalilli is conspicuous by its absence. Once we realised it was more environmentally friendly (and quicker) to phone first to check availability we managed to lay our eager mitts on the last two jars within a 20-mile radius. our Christmas gammon will be complete.

On another theme, my mother's vicar phoned today when we were out sourcing our sauce, and left a message to say he'd been up to her house to take communion to her. That's all very well, and I'm sure his intentions are good, but it would be more helpful in the long run to arrange for a member of the church society to collect her on a Sunday and drive her the ¾-mile or so to the church so she could be part of the community again, not isolated in her home. Putting her in touch with local people who'd do home-helping would be a practical help as well - it's not the sort of thing that people living 150 miles away can do. I'm well aware from when my dad worked at Westminster Abbey that this is a rather busy period for the Church, but I also know how willing many supposedly Christian people are to shrug off the more mundane aspects of the Faith. I really must call him back and diplomatically suggest these ideas ...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Dashing away with the smoothing iron

Doesn’t laundry smell nice when it’s been out in the frost? It loses all the poofy fabric conditioner pong. It almost makes ironing pleasurable. Almost.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Gee, but it's good to be back home

I'm back. On Sunday I threw the dogs and a change of clothes into the car and went down to the Deep South to help get mother back on the road to recovery after her fall, because she was very unwell indeed. She still has no memory of falling, or being got into a taxi, or turning off her burglar alarm, or the taxidriver putting her shopping in the kitchen, or paying him, but has a vague recollection of him ringing the doctor. She spent the next three days (while my brother was staying with her - lucky him - I can't cope with vomit) throwing up every time she moved, of course getting weaker and weaker and more dehydrated. Three days after the fall the doctor gave her an anti-emetic injection and some tablets to do the same, and she started being able to keep down fluids. It was five days before she could manage a little soup and began getting stronger. She's still frail but I've moved her downstairs where there's an ensuite bedroom, got a raised loo seat with handrails and a racing-zimmer affair with a tray for when she needs to carry drinks or a plate, because otherwise she needs both hands for her walking sticks (when she's better we can play hockey with them).

As she starts feeling better she's regaining her spirit, which took a heck of a bashing. The doctor and I were discussing options of where she should be living, and she was so upset at the thought of care homes and the like she said the only place she wanted to be was with James (my dad). He died 18 years ago. I'm not ready to have her put down yet. It was very distressing to see her so sad.

The vicar got around to visiting her two days after my brother had phoned him to tell him what had happened and to ask him to help find someone in the village who'd pop in and see mother when she was on her own. Mother's helped at the church, cleaning, doing the flowers, getting communion ready and suchlike for many years - now it's payback time.

Mostly the dogs behaved themselves - they were very good and seemed to sense that mother wasn't to be bounced into, although Harry managed to set off her necklace alerter thing by cuddling her, making the phones ring and people asking if she was all right. It was embarrassing to say it was a false alarm, the dog had set it off, but a good test for the system! Piglet was a bit of a git, searching out all the holes in the garden boundary and getting out onto the road twice on the first evening. He and Harry had to be watched every second they were in the garden - not relaxing for me - and spent most of their walks on their extending leads*, and were never both let off at the same time. Oddly, the moment we got home and I let them out of the car he instantly shot across our road and into another garden. Little bugger.

I've left mother with plenty of soup and easy meals in the fridge, which will only need heating up, done her laundry and vacuumed and tidied so I hope she'll be able to manage. My brother's going over tomorrow - he only lives an hour's drive away - and the neighbours have promised to call in every lunchtime if she doesn't have anyone staying. I think I've got everything covered. I wish she lived nearer.

*Tip: Do not use extending leads in woodland unless you enjoy being wound around trees.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

How I wonder what you are

SimonG is great. Official. That is all.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Ring a ring a roses

My mother phoned this afternoon to relate the tale of her shopping ‘trip’. Yes, she’s had another fall, and this time has concussion and can’t remember getting the taxi home, switching off the burglar alarm, the taxi driver putting her shopping in the kitchen or paying him. Luckily my brother lives only an hour from her, rather than my 3 hours (and other brother’s 10 hours). She can’t even remember falling this time, which is a worry. I don’t think she’s going to be able to live alone much longer, but every time we suggest she moves somewhere that we can keep a better eye on her she gets very stroppy.

They still haven’t found that missing boy, by the way, although the police have arrested another 17-year old on suspicion of his murder.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

They seek him here

When we were looking for a parking space in Leamington today, having gone in to see if Ned had been paid last month's salary (had he? what do you reckon? lying, cheating bastards) we were surprised to see a large police incident unit near the park, and all access to our caches taped off. There were frogmen in the river too. That's not usual for a Tuesday so it must have been something serious. There was nothing mentioned on the local news but later on we found this article. I hope he turns up safely.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

We don't know what we dig them for*

Watching a programme on archaeology, today we were amazed to learn that, when one finds evidence of a hearth, and the soil beneath bears evidence of burning, it's clearly a site of rituals.

Good Lord! That means people are performing rituals, such as watching TV followed by going to bed, in our sitting room.

*fails to find a lyric referencing grandmothers and egg-sucking

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The hill is the distant horizon

Yesterday we collected most of The Boy's belongings and today he came home for the holidays. He immediately went upstairs to have a sleep, came down for supper then went out to his mate's house. He might be back later. As soon as he's got his music system wired up again it'll be as if he never went away. :)

Friday, December 02, 2005

But a woman like you baby, should never have the blues

The more information we get about this French woman who’s had a face transplant the stranger the situation seems. At first we heard that she’d been ‘attacked by a dog’ and had the lower part of her face damaged beyond repair. This has certainly happened in the past, but it now seems that wasn’t the case. Latest information says that the woman had taken an overdose (deliberately? Not sure) and was unconscious on her sofa. Her dog apparently tried to rouse her – perhaps she was snoring or making other strange noise that worried the dog, or maybe she’d vomited – by pawing at her. Now I know that when I’ve dozed off on the sofa or curled up by the fire I’ve often been roused by one of the dogs pawing at my head (and their nails don’t half hurt when the rake across your scalp!). I’m quite certain that if I didn’t react instantly they’d repeat the scraping, just like this French dog did, getting harder the more worried they become. Yes, if the media is to be believed there were no bite wounds – the damage was done by claws. That's not an attack - dogs don't use their feet as weapons. It’s a bit harsh to be destroyed for doing your best to help your owner.

I hope the woman’s had sufficient psychiatric help for the original problems that led to the overdose, and that there’ll be a happy ending with the success of the transplant.