Thursday, September 27, 2007

Don't remind me...

I had completely forgotten that the 25th was my ex-husband's birthday - and of course there's no reason why I should remember, except it's one of those dates that sticks in my mind. Birthdays have always been tricky where he was concerned. After he left me (for my secretary) I was regularly shouted at for not reminding the children about her birthday (why would I do that?), and his behaviour around his own childrens' birthdays was just awful. He would turn up on the day, when they were really excited, and pretend that he had forgotten. He would say "Oh, is it your birthday? Should I have brought you something?" By the time he had said these words, it was too late. Birthday spoiled. And I can remember every year feeling extreme pain when I saw their little excited faces fall. Never mind that he did bring something - and that he hadn't really forgotten - it was too late to recapture that excitement. He must have thought it was a good joke, because he repeated it year after year. And I hated it every time. The effect, particularly on Son, has been long-lasting and horrid. To this day, when I ask him what he wants for his birthday he says "Oh Nothing." He just doesn't want to allow himself to get excited about something that might not happen. I could kill that insensitive pratt for creating such everlasting disappointment. Daughter is not as bad, but still won't talk to her father about birthdays, presents or money. She just says "Mum, it's not worth it." Bless her heart, and what an idiot he is to have created such unhappiness around what should be a fun time. It was all about money for him - and keeping most of it for himself. Surely to give, particularly to your own children, is one of the joys of life? And if birthdays are a chance to spoil them a bit, I'm all for it. I would make a very good rich person, because my children, and all my friends, would have a lovely time.

Car has been MOT'd, and only needed something done to a brake cable. Just £113 later and I'm safe, legal and ready for the open road to Cornwall. I'm about to start ironing clean clothes (Son always says "why?" - he never irons anything) and packing them. I've found my lovely new/old, grey Joseph jumper (courtesy of Sister's movie contact) and I'm beginning to feel 'demob' happy. (For those of you too young to remember, when blokes of my Dad's generation were finally coming out of the forces after the Second World War, they were said to be "demobbed" - I guess it's short for demobilised - and were very happy indeed to be going home after maybe five or seven years!) Anyway, another piece of useless information from my past..

Last night Gay Friend came round for supper and we watched a video afterwards. We have decided to have regular movie evenings, especially since you can now pick up good videos at a Car Boot really cheaply - the last lot were 3 for £1. Our choice for last night was "Get Shorty" - full of casual violence and irony. A black-humorous look at L.A. life and the movie business, with John Travolta and Danny de Vito - plus Bette Midler who is always wonderful. Most enjoyable. We shared a box of chocs and had a lovely evening.

I also have a new haircut to take to Cornwall, which is rather smart (the haircut, not Cornwall). I always feel in need of a shorter, smarter look for Winter - to go with the smart Winter clothes I wish I could afford. Still, the haircut gets me half way there...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Time for a Break.

I'm pleased to say that the pink-eye has receded, along with my tiredness, so today was much better. I also gathered together all my courage, and a Brighton Best Friend, to go and see the errant estate agents and find out what exactly is happening - or not happening. It was worth it, because between us we managed to get to the bottom of what has been wrong, and I now understand why it has been so hard. I almost felt sorry for them - but not quite, because if they had been upfront and honest with us about their difficulties, we could have understood each other sooner. Anyway, BBF and I then went and had a celebratory drink in Carluccio's (she had hot chocolate and I had cappucino). It was such a relief to get it sorted.

Now I can get ready for my little holiday and actually look forward to it. I'm going to drive down to Cornwall on Friday and stay, until Wednesday, with a very old Best Friend and her bloke in what sounds like the most lovely house near Truro. Cornwall BF has also booked us into an oil painting day course on Saturday, which I'm very excited about. I've dabbled in water colour, which everyone says is terribly difficult, but as it's the only thing I've had lessons in, it's the only medium I actually understand. I must go and sort out clothes and stuff to pack. The car is going in for its MOT tomorrow morning, and I'm having my hair cut at Trevor Sorbie.

I do actually know Trevor, he's another old mate from my Advertising days. When I was writing commercials, and then shooting them on film, Trevor often used to do the hair. We had Barbara Daly on make-up too. Quite a line-up in those days. Trevor really hasn't changed much. I bumped into him at his salon a few months ago and we did the usual reminiscences about models and photographers; wondering what had happened to old friends etc. It was all such a long time ago. Of course we both have grown-up children now, and there has been a lot of water under the bridge, but it was nice to catch up. He is very talented and has been fantastically successful, but he's still the same nice, funny guy.

Ho-hum, time for bed. I still haven't done the poetry competition entry - perhaps it will have to wait until I come back from Cornwall...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

You look tired..

Dammit, I've got the grit in the eyeballs from tiredness, plus a very attractive watery eye which could, of course, turn into conjunctivitis! Grandson is absolutely not to blame, because he slept like an angel in the small bedroom, and didn't come into my bed until about 5.45am this morning. That would have been fine if I had slept normally, but I did what I often do - lie awake thinking that he might wake up and also worrying about anything and everything that pops into my head. After he was collected by Daughter this morning, I gave in and went back to bed. And having slept for an hour and had a shower, I do feel semi-human again.

My horoscope today says that I should invest in something that improves my sense of self-worth. So, am going to make an appointment to have my hair cut, and have also decided to enter a poetry competition. Of course a rejection would not really improve my sense of self-worth, but that may - or may not - come later.

My lovely Italian Student was very impressed with Grandson at breakfast this morning. He insisted on buttering some toast and putting marmalade on too, then brought in his Thomas the Tank Engine dominoes and put them together in record time.
This was pretty impressive, particularly since his verbal skills have improved so much recently and he was very clear with all the names of the engines. My Italian Student said, smiling, "He is a fine boy." I couldn't have put it better myself.

It's sunny but cold, so I'm going out for a blast of fresh air to clear away the anxiety cobwebs that threaten to strangle me if I just stay in and do nothing.I have been searching through files for important pieces of paper, some of which I can't find, so a change of scene will hopefully bring a fresh perspective.
"How much time do I have left? A little while/
to stretch the skin across the bones and smile.."

Monday, September 24, 2007

Let me out of here.

Oh God, the sins of the Estate Agents are endless. This afternoon, after holding off all morning on checking the websites, we discovered that nothing had been put right. Nothing! Still no pictures, wrong prices and a complete blank on the "new" company website. We tried not to have hysterics, and thankfully read our horoscopes, which told us to calm down and not over react! More phone calls. More (empty) promises.

I went down to the flat to show some new prospective buyers around this evening. They are contacts from our private website, and were extremely nice. Just as I was showing them out, however, I managed to lock myself out, leaving bag, keys and phone inside. Luckily the couple had not left the building, and kindly let me use a mobile to call Daughter, who promptly said "You Wally." I waited only ten minutes for the Boyfriend to come to the rescue, but it really has been one of those days. Grandson is asleep upstairs, and I am about to follow suit. Tomorrow is another day...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Oh I do like to be beside the Seaside.

Yesterday was pretty good on the whole, sunny and warm enough to take Grandson to the Paddling Pool (though the water has been drained out now) for a game of football.
One of my Brighton Best Friends came down to meet us, and we had a very sociable couple of hours, ending up at the Meeting Place with coffee and rock cake. Lovely.
Grandson was quite tired by this time, and wolfed down his sandwich and flapjack before settling quite happily into his buggy for the walk home.

My new student arrived in the middle of the afternoon, having travelled from Padua, via Stansted Airport. Padua sounds so romantic - I'm sure it's still essentially the same as it was when Shakespeare used it as a location for one of his plays. Was it "The Taming of the Shrew"? I can't remember, but must look it up. Anyway my new student is just like a Modigliani portrait to look at. She has the long, pale face, black hair parted in the middle and gathered in at the nape of the neck, wonderful pale skin, no makeup. She must have been some beauty when she was young. Sadly, her english is appalling - but of course she is here to improve it!

Breakfast this morning at 9am turned into breakfast at 9.30 because Italian Student didn't surface in time. I was going to the Car Boot, just to look, so had to scoot off and leave her to it. Gay Friend and I had a really good trawl of the stalls and came back with some great bargains - one of the things I found was a lovely old oak tray with metal handles and edges which I look forward to cleaning up and giving as a present to my Cornwall Best Friend. Gay Friend found an old enamel draining board (I can remember my grandmother using one just like it) and a great fold-up director's chair which had been recovered in a soft creamy velvet. Plus other bits and pieces. I think we spent about a fiver each!

Had a lovely message from Sister today, and phoned her back. It's great being in touch properly again, and getting involved with each other's lives. Then cooked supper for my Italian lady, after which I rushed off to do a Pub Quiz. Didn't win tonight though - there were only two of us Spritzer Sisters this evening, and we missed the extra brain power of the other regulars. I think we came fourth, and won a cuddly toy, which I tucked into my bag to give to Grandson tomorrow.

Heard on the news this morning that seaside towns are being targetted as good places to live by those on benefits - apparently it's a nicer life by the sea, even if you are a single parent or out of work. Those who surf and laze on the beach, however, are in for a bit of a shock. They are about to lose their benefits! What I want to know is how they are going to find out who is slacking and who isn't? I suppose a suntan would be a bit of a giveaway. Whatever next.

Friday, September 21, 2007

My Brave Little Soldier.

There has been a change of energy today, thank heavens, and I'm feeling more positive - more like myself. This morning I thought I couldn't go on being negative, so decided to make things happen. And it worked. I phoned Estate Agents, spoke to both Son and Daughter, and got things moving. I have to say though that Estate Agents do get so much wrong. Two weeks ago we reduced the price on the flat, after much discussion with the agents, only for Son to discover today that the price still hadn't been reduced on the Internet, and, to make things worse, it didn't even appear on their company website! Wrong price. No pictures. No wonder we hadn't had any viewings! And the offer we had last week seems to have disappeared into outer space - no-one knows where the prospective buyer is. I know the offer wasn't great, but it was an offer! I rather felt like saying that they should be paying us to sell this flat, not the other way around. I hope it's all been sorted now, and we do have another viewing booked through our private website. Fingers (and everything else) crossed.

I'm expecting another foreign student this weekend, this time from Italy. She's a mature woman (fifty-something) and I will be providing breakfast and an evening meal for her, so I expect to have some tasty verbal titbits to regale you with. She will only be here for a week, and I'm going away at the end of that week, so it will be short and sweet.

Tomorrow it's my day with Grandson again, while Daughter works in the Beach Cafe. I'm collecting him from the cafe at 9.30 in the morning, and will probably have him until 6pm, unless the weather turns nasty and the cafe closes early. My new student arrives at about 4.30, so it will be a busy day. I'm hoping for some sunshine so that we can at least spend the morning by the sea or playing football. (Speaking of which, what a result my team had last night against Famagusta! 6 - 1 for the Spurs. That's what I call a decent scoreline.) Anyway, back to Grandson. He had a fall at the flat yesterday, slid on the polished floor and hit his little head on the corner moulding of the archetrave. It must have hurt like billyo, and he screamed. I felt as if I was going to be sick. He has a huge dark blue bruise on his forehead and a nasty red line down the centre - yet 10 minutes after his fall he was apparently fine. It just looks awful. He went off to pre-school quite cheerfully this morning, though, and when we went to collect him he insisted on kissing all the helpers goodbye. They are lovely ladies, and all gave him hugs and kisses in return. He's such a little darling - though I acknowledge that I may be slightly biased. I must get some photos of him and put them on this blog - if only I could work out how to do it...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Keep Moving.

I am feeling so short of the necessary light of life today that I can hardly put one letter in front of another. It's just the fact that I can't seem to make anything more happen with Son's flat sale - try as I might. We are all on hold, and it just needs someone to take their finger off the 'pause' button and hit 'play'. If the Great all-providing Universe is listening, let's just get moving, please!

Grandson stayed with me last night, and that was lovely - though he didn't particularly want to go to bed, which is unusual for him. I left him in my bed at 7pm, and about 10 minutes later he wandered into the sitting room saying "I not tired." I was watching Doctor Who (a repeat of course), so he sat down and said
"I like Doctor Who". We cuddled up for a while, and then watched some of "Aladdin", which he knows off by heart. I finally got him into bed and asleep by 8.30pm. Maybe the fact that I'm a bit down is due to being tired - he was awake again at 6am - and when Grandson is awake, no-one sleeps!

It's a grey, windy, cold and cheerless morning, more like instant Winter than Autumn and I'm glad I don't live down on the seafront. When I was house-hunting here I thought I wanted a sea view, but now I know that would have been a mistake. In the South of France I'm sure it would be divine, but with our winters, often six months long, the reality is grey and rather depressing for much of the year. I often walk or cycle by the sea, as I'm only 5 minutes away from the beach, but that's close enough on a day like today. Come to think of it, it's exactly 5 years today since we moved to Brighton, or Hove actually. How time has flown and how our lives have changed. And now it's time we were all moving on again. Please..

Monday, September 17, 2007

Morning sickness...

Monday is living up to its reputation as a bloody awful day again. I'm feeling sick again, because any movement seems to have ground to a halt on the flat front. And let's face it, the current panic around Northern Rock isn't helping at all. I do wonder if anything else nasty can happen. I'm sure that people with their life savings at stake would feel nervous, but as someone on the radio said, haven't any of them seen "It's a Wonderful Life"? Of course, the global nature of financial situations makes the current crisis quite different - but I do feel that the financial world brings these things on itself. The banks are so greedy, and so are the Building Societies. In every respect, it's their customers who pay, usually through the nose, for everything. Believe me, their profits are not going to suffer overall - it's us who'll end up paying. Mr Bank of England, Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, et al, they will go on piling up the profits and living off the fat of the land while we, the suckers, will pay. As James Stewart said, in the aforementioned movie "Is it too much to ask that all the little people who do all the living and dying and paying around here should have a decent home to live in?" That may not be word for word perfect, but it's pretty close, and the sentiments are spot on. The money men are greedy bastards, and that's about it.

Going back to my weekend with Sister, we uncovered a few inconsistencies with regard to our past. For one, she has apparently attempted an investigation into our family tree, only to find that our Father's birth does not seem to have been registered anywhere. We have always believed that his birthday was 25th May 1915, and that he was named Jasper Stanley. This may be true, but the fact does not seem to have been recorded anywhere. His mother, Martha, is long dead and so are any other relatives, so we can't check the facts with anyone else. His whole birth and history have always been mysterious, and Sister confirmed that he did indeed die without knowing who his father was. So the mystery deepens. Who are we? God knows, but I guess we will have to try and find out.

Sister and I laughed about our Mother and her obsession with illnesses. I had forgotten that I apparently had cerebral spinal fever when I was a baby - this sounds serious and Sister thought it highly amusing that I didn't remember any of the conversations about it. I knew that I had had double pneumonia, and that my little life had been saved by 'M & B' tablets: the first readily available antibiotics. What a sickly wimp I was; it's amazing that I'm in such rude good health now. In fact, we're both ridiculously healthy 60 somethings, though perhaps I shouldn't tempt providence...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Today is your Birthday..

The weekend has been a great success. Sister turned up yesterday and it was a real reunion. When I looked at her (after something like 6 years!), it was like looking at a different version of my own face. Strange. We sat drinking wine,on the balcony in the last of the sun, and then eating supper on our laps and talking non-stop. The things we remembered, and laughed about. We talked about Mum and Dad, Grandmothers, Aunties (real and pretend),and all the things we recalled from our childhood. We finally got to bed at about 11.30, and had to get up at 7am for the Car Boot Sale.

It has been a lovely day, weatherwise and otherwise. Blustery and sunny and very good fun. We sold lots of things at the Car Boot; Sister made enough money to feel it was all worthwhile, and all my friends turned up to say hello too, plus Daughter, Grandson and boyfriend with his daughter. Grandson was lovely, he ran up to my Sister (whom he has never seen) and threw his arms around her, giving her one of his special kisses (this involves his little tongue being poked out and is a real smacker). She picked him up and cuddled him, and it was wonderful to see. While we were there, the Shoreham Air Show was in full swing, so we had a perfect view of all the old aeroplanes, and the new ones, helicopters and scary aerobatics. We ate bacon rolls and drank stewed tea. And a good time was had by all.

Then we packed up and drove back home - happily with less than half of the stuff we started with. My Gay Friend came round for tea and toast and damson jam and to look at the clothes Sister had brought with her - she works in film and had bags full of fabulous 'wardrobe' clothes which no-one apparently wanted. Some sold at the Car Boot, and some have ended up in my wardrobe. New clothes! What a treat.

Son's Birthday too, and it was about 6 o'clock this evening before I managed to talk to him. He was watching 'Lord of the Rings' in bed, and sounded really tired - but I suppose if you were up all night celebrating, that's rather a nice end to the day.
Happy Birthday Son, and Many Happy Returns...

Friday, September 14, 2007

We're moving on..

Well, there is movement in the situation at last. I have done my Feng Shui best (as recommended by Sister), and it does seem to be having results. Yesterday we had a viewing at Son's flat, which today resulted in an offer - not a great offer, but not bad - and we also have another viewing tomorrow. This is about 200% more movement than we have had over the last six weeks, so I'm daring to feel hopeful. And we are still optimistic about the broken chain. So we do at least have a couple of options where we had none before.

When I told Son about the Feng Shui ritual, and suggested that he might like to have a go, he laughed and said "Does it matter if you're sceptical?" "Yes" I said, "I rather think it does." No comment.

The weather appears to be set fair, so Sister is coming down tomorrow and we are going to do the Car Boot Sale on Sunday. I'm so looking forward to seeing her, and do hope that she will be able to make some money selling her stuff. I haven't got much to sell, but will just enjoy the occasion and, hopefully, a bit of sunshine.
Daughter and Grandson will also come along to the Boot Sale, with the boyfriend, which will be a bit of a family reunion. It's probably five years since Daughter saw her only Auntie, and Grandson has never seen her, being only three! As Sunday is also Son's 28th Birthday, it looks like being a significant date to remember. Incidentally, I have promised not to phone and wake Son on Sunday, singing Happy Birthday, at 8 am. (Every year I remind him that when he was born he woke me at 6 am - and it was a Sunday.) As they are having a party in London tomorrow night, which will probably go on until Sunday morning, it only seems fair. He said "Don't worry Mum, I'll turn my phone off anyway." I guess I'll have to wait until the afternoon to wish him Many Happy Returns.

Terrible news, Terry Wogan is going on another holiday for two weeks. I felt quite down when he told us this morning - especially when I heard that Johnnie Walker will be taking over again. It's too bad. What am I supposed to listen to instead? I keep meaning to buy a 'docking' set-up for my Ipod, then I could listen to my music in any room in the house, and that would be a reasonable substitute for a while. I suppose another option is to use the 'listen again' facility on Radio 2, and just repeat old Terry Wogan shows for two weeks. Pathetic really, I must get out more.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Another day, another dollar.

Today was a much better day, gloriously warm and sunny, and we have all calmed down a bit since yesterday. A good night's sleep usually helps to get things into better perspective, and sure enough everything looks brighter today. (Though that Landlord is about to get a nasty shock, which he thoroughly deserves!)

I cycled along the sea front to meet up with Daughter at a beach cafe and we sat drinking coffee and watching the sun sparkling on the sea. Grandson was in his pre-school today, until 2pm, so we had plenty of time to be idle for a change. Daughter now has nursery vouchers for his pre-school, which means that most of his hours are free. This comes into effect after the child is 3, and it means that she has gone from paying £53 a week to paying £10, and he gets an extra two hours a week. It's a very good scheme, and means that she can pay her bills without having to save quite so hard! He obviously feels very grown-up now that he is 'upstairs' with the big children - though they all look like tiny little scraps to me. And I don't want him to grow up anyway!

I was trying to buy a Birthday present for Son today on the Internet. I succeeded in the end, but it wasn't easy, and I always worry about giving my credit card details. I expect that's just my age. Son and his friends regularly leave their cards 'behind the bar' when they are out drinking. And I remember one occasion last year when he casually said that he'd forgotten and left his card there overnight, going back for it the next day. It really is a different world out there - I'd be paranoid about leaving my credit card in a pub. But, heigh-ho, they don't seem to think it's a problem, so I suppose it isn't.

I really must get back to my Ebay activities. A year ago I was doing a roaring trade in antique linens, eiderdowns and embroidered hankies - the sort of thing I've been collecting for years. I'm not quite sure why, but I now feel like clearing all this stuff out; I look at it and think "It's lovely, but I don't need it any more." Quite cleansing, and very good Feng Shui to clear the clutter. I was very impressed with the Ebay setup. It's a democratic organisation, and because every transaction is scrutinised, you can't get away with bad trading. They expect you to be honest and to behave with absolute integrity; every item has to be described, and photographed, in precise detail and each person, buyer and seller, leaves feedback on their experience at the end of each sale. I have sold items to people from around the world, and I've had really nice comments and feedback from buyers.(I'm very proud of my 100% positive feedback.) It's a bit like a global supermarket. Someone, somewhere will want what you have to sell, you just have to put it out there on display. It's good fun, and I thoroughly recommend it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Happy New Year!

Dear Lord, today has been absolutely the pits. This morning had an upsetting phone call from Son, who was furious beyond belief that the bastard Landlord has actually had the nerve to withold £200 from their deposit. Given that they lived for 12 months in a dangerously damp environment, with black spot, mould and mildew growing in cupboards and up the walls, and that the flat was declared a Category 1 Health Hazard by the Environment Agency, Department of Community Protection, it's astonishing that he isn't in prison. How he can sleep at night I don't know. And if I get within a mile of him, he'll never sleep again. It's a scandal that both Agents and Landlords can get away with treating young tenants in this way. They are charged exorbitant rents, and deposits, for the most crappy living spaces that are in the most appalling condition. Son and his friend not only lived with this damp problem, but had to endure supposedly remedial works (which involved stripping the interior walls of plaster, and creating unimaginable dust and dirt but did nothing to solve the problem), and were then expected to both leave the heating on and open the windows to 'help the drying process'! Never mind the expense - or the security problems! And they also lived without electricity in the bathroom - they bathed by candlelight! And the washing machine remained unrepaired for a month - so they had the extra expense of having to use a launderette. And their bread and fruit all went mouldy in a couple of days. And their clothes never dried! I could go on and on. This man deserves to rot in hell. And the Agents who 'represent' him, but refuse to take any actual responsibility, deserve to rot in hell too.

I spoke to our Solicitor, who has given advice, but it was a very upsetting day all round. Here are two young men who have behaved with integrity, and paid their rent in full through all these problems, in the belief that everything would be sorted. Sadly, the truth is that the rotten Landlord was only interested in getting his filthy hands on their money. There is no doubt that I would kill for my children!

I heard on Terry Wogan this morning that it's the beginning of the Jewish New Year. I do wonder if I might be Jewish, because I have always felt that the New Year started in September, when the new school term starts. It just seems more logical to me. My father had mysterious parentage, so it could be so. He was born to my grandmother when she was forty, and unmarried. (She had her first child when she was 25, and also unmarried.) She was a cook in a castle in Wales at the time (this was in 1915), and was apparently sworn to secrecy about who the father was. The price for her silence was a private boarding-school education for my father, and a secure future for her. She called my father Jasper Stanley, and absolutely adored him, but she died without telling him who his father was! I have always thought that quite amazing - to keep such a secret even on your death bed, is worthy of the darkest drama. Of course she was a true Victorian. She was born in 1875, so she was 26 already when Queen Victoria died. And she was always suspicious of the telephone. She only married for the first time when she was 70, and then she married her sister's husband after her sister died. Dear old Martha, she lived to be 95, and was a tough old bird. Her Summer Pudding was the best thing I ever tasted.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Friday to Monday.

Home again, having had a very relaxing time with my Aristocratic Best Friend. We pottered in the garden and talked non-stop. I love to hear stories of her aristocratic family; they are all out of this world, rather like characters in an Evelyn Waugh novel.And they are all incredibly rich (the sort of rich that doesn't buy designer clothes or smart cars, but never wants for anything). BF has never had to work to earn her living. She lives on the proverbial Trust Fund. And yet she works very hard every day, mostly in her garden. It's not the kind of work that most of us would associate with real life, but she would be genuinely surprised to think that she is considered elite - though she definitely is. She is surprisingly plebeian however, in her choice of newspaper. I only ever read this tabloid when I visit her, and am horrified at the poison it drips into the mind. ABF had me wondering, by the end of the weekend, whether Madeleine McCann's parents had caused their daughter's disappearance or even death. I just don't believe it - but it's amazing what a newspaper can do with a lot of suggestion and circumstantial
evidence. It's pure scandal and sensation and it obviously sells newspapers. Thankfully I'm back home now, and can ignore the awful drip drip of insane repetition that wears away at reason and integrity.

We did actually spend an awful lot of time eating - the risotto, which I cooked for lunch with friends on Saturday, was a great success, and we also went out to Sunday Lunch in a country pub, and had roast beef, yorkshire pudding and loads of veg. We sat overlooking the High Weald on a glorious afternoon, outside in the sunshine, and enjoying the food and a very good wine. Not surprisingly, we ate very little in the evenings. I went to bed early and consequently have nearly finished reading the latest Harry Potter. I'm not giving anything away, but it is very exciting and somehow very satisfactory to be coming to the end of a saga that has defined childrens' literature for the last few years. I wonder what will come next - and there's sure to be something wonderful out there. Books are forever.

Friday, September 7, 2007


Oh bugger, this morning Sister phoned to suggest coming down this weekend to do a Car Boot Sale - she is having a new kitchen and has loads of old stuff to get rid of - and I had to say no because I'm disappearing off to a BF in Kent. I felt really sorry because I have been looking forward to getting together with Sister and catching up. And we both feel that the days of Car Boot Sales are numbered simply because the weather will go tits up soon. Anyway, we're going to try for next week.

Next Sunday is, in fact, Son's Birthday. He will be 28, and I find that really hard to believe sometimes. He probably won't be coming down here for the day, as he's going out with friends in London on the Saturday evening. I remember his actual Birthday vividly. I was woken at 6am on 16th September, by a rush of warm something. As it was exactly a month before he was due, I panicked, thinking it was blood and heralded disaster. Actually it was breaking waters - quite normal. I was transported to the Avenue Clinic, where we were booked in, and Son made his first appearance at 11.30 am. Elective Caesarean. He was rushed off to a special care baby unit, and I was left to wonder where my baby had gone. He came back 36 hours later, having had mild breathing difficulties, and with jaundice. Again all perfectly normal for a baby who's 4 weeks premature. I never really believed that he was premature, as such, just in a hurry to get on with life. He's been the same ever since. Always the first to do anything, ready to try anything. Wanting to get there first. Dear boy.

Read my favourite two Blogs today, only to be thrust backwards at a million miles an hour to the time when a)my two were starting school,and b) my ex-husband delighted in making my life (and, co-incidentally the childrens' lives) a complete misery. a) I've never forgotten leaving them at school for the first time and sobbing helplessly at the loss. I couldn't go home either, because it was worse there. Too quiet. b) The times I had to literally beg for extra money to buy shoes or a coat. Or justify needing anything extra for school. And the sheer nastiness that came down the phone if I ever needed any help or moral support. And don't mention the time after the brain tumour. He'll go to hell for that!

Thankfully we came through all the difficulties intact. But it still hurts to relive it - and to think that other families are having to go through the same problems.
Anyway, back to the future. Must go, or will hit the rush hour traffic.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Talking Asparagus.

Talking to another Best Friend on the phone this morning, she made me laugh when we were discussing Risotto ingredients. (I'm going to visit her at the weekend, and taking a few tasty items with me.) I suggested asparagus and prawns, and she cast aspersions on the probable quality of the asparagus. As she grows her own, I assume she knows best, but it did make me laugh. I have some very posh friends - but this particular one is truly aristocratic. She is an Honourable, one of four daughters of a Lord (now deceased) and would make a wonderful "Princess and the Pea" person. She could certainly spot a pea at thirty mattresses, and is obviously not impressed with my attempts to feed her inferior asparagus!

I'm also taking some of my homemade preserves: damson jam and some crab apple jelly. And I'll be paying a visit to the Fish Man on the beach in the morning, to see what's fresh and tasty. It sounds as if we are going to spend the whole weekend eating, but that's not true. We will be gardening (I'll be dead-heading and pruning the roses) and talking non-stop. As well as entertaining a few of her friends and relations. (I look forward to getting away. And I've discovered that distance lends a bit of perspective to my everyday anxieties.) This BF lives almost next door to Sissinghurst Castle, so we may even go for a walk in the woods.

Today was gloriously sunny and hot, so Daughter, Grandson and I met at the Paddling Pool. Grandson is really a water baby; he splashes around for hours in complete happiness. And we also played a bit of football and paddled in the sea. Daughter is working at the Beach Cafe tomorrow, so I will be collecting Grandson from Nursery -
or should I say,Pre-School, as he's now "upstairs" with the big children. How time is flying. I watch him racing around and laughing, just enjoying life, and I don't want him to change. I love him just the way he is..

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Like Goats to the Slaughter.

I was immensely heartened to hear this morning that two goats had been slaughtered by Nepal Airlines in an effort to appease their Hindu gods. Apparently they were having problems with one of their aircraft, but after the sacrifice took place in front of the aircraft, on the runway, it managed to take off successfully. It's hard to argue that these things don't work when they quite obviously do (at least in this case). If it had been April Fools' day, we could all have laughed it off. As it is..

Today was a day of escaping. I went with one of my Best Friends on an outing to Ikea, which we both love. I started the day with tea and toast, and then had the car washed on my way to pick her up. (She is a very smart BF and I was quite ashamed of the car.) We enjoyed the drive because it was non-stop gossip, news and exchanges of information. First stop at Ikea was the coffee shop - lovely coffee and pastries. And then a slow walk round admiring the furniture, throws, kitchens and stuff.
We always go into fantasy mode, imagining that we are starting from scratch, and furnishing a new, clean and white space. This illusion tends to go hand in hand with what we would do if we won the Lottery - in fact the two are closely intertwined because winning the Lottery means we could have absolutely anything we wanted. After indulging this fantasy for a while, we felt the need of more nourishsment. And lunch in Ikea is great too; smoked salmon, artichoke hearts, prawns and various other Scandinavian delights, with an elderflower presse on the side. Then we bought a few bits and pieces before driving on to look at her sons' new house in Brixton.
The two boys have bought a very nice Victorian 'fixer-upper' which they are going to convert into two self-contained flats. Until they do the work, my Son, plus various other friends, is helping them to fill the space. This is wonderful for Son, because he hasn't (immediately) got to find another grotty flat. We're all hoping that his flat sale will go through in perfect time for him to move on into his own place, before they start to get under each other's feet or on each other's nerves. They're all old friends, so hopefully it won't come to that.. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Now.. and Then.

In fact, I was awake at about 5.45am - and not sure how much I slept really. Grandson is so lovely though, that I don't mind, and he did sleep soundly from 6.30 last night. I lay there for as long as I could, making up stories and games which could keep me under my warm duvet for a few minutes longer. We actually got out of bed at about 7am, so that wasn't bad at all.

Daughter turned up at about 10 o'clock, looking lovely and rested! So I was able to scoot off and have a reviving shower. Then we went to feed the donkeys and the goats at a local farm. It's a regular treat, and on the way there we drive past fields full of sheep and cows. Grandson now delights in making the noises we used to make before he could talk. So we drive along making baaing and mooing sounds like mad. I wonder how long it will be before he realizes that his Mumma and Nana are quite bonkers?

As we sat in a Garden Centre having some lunch, I thought that Grandson, at three and a quarter, is not far off the age Son was when I was whisked away with a brain tumour. I had been having scary headaches for quite a while, and knew that there was something wrong. The local doctor, however, told me that I was suffering from hypertension headaches. He added that, as I was a single mother left alone with two small children this was not surprising, and I should more or less get on with it. Luckily, I didn't accept his diagnosis and went up to London to see my lovely London Doctor (he really deserves the capitals), who examined me and promptly sent me off to see a Neurologist friend of his in Harley Street. I suppose I should have known when this specialist gave me exactly the same examination, that something was up. Anyway, I didn't guess and was completely freaked out when I was told that the scan results clearly showed that I had a brain tumour. His exact words were: "There's good news and bad news. The good news is that we know what's causing your headaches. The bad news is that it's a brain tumour."

To cut a very long story short, I had to go back home for a week (because they couldn't wait any longer to operate), make a will and make arrangements for the care of my children in case I didn't come back. It was the worst experience of my life. Looking now at Grandson (who looks exactly like Son did at his age) I can't bear to think that I might never have seen my children grow up. And at the time, Son knew that something was wrong, although he was too young to express it fully. I can't bear to think of the terror he must have felt - after all, I had never spent a day away from my two before that time. Son was three and three quarters, and Daughter was only 18 months old - a little scrap who delighted in carrying her potty around everywhere and opening the front door stark naked. (Two things she grew out of quite quickly.) And I was almost surgically removed from their lives. I was away for three weeks, which must have seemed like an eternity. And as I was driven away to the hospital, I looked back to see them standing on our doorstep, waving goodbye to me, with balloons in their hands...

Thankfully, I survived. I was determined to live. I was not going to leave my precious children to the not-so-tender mercies of my ex-husband and his new partner.

I remember much of what happened during the next couple of weeks, but most vivid is the moment when I woke up in Intensive Care after the operation. At first I thought I was at home in bed. Then I remembered what had happened, and I felt an enormous surge of pure joy. "I'm alive!". I couldn't move, but at that moment I felt as if I could have leapt 12 feet in the air. I could see, I could hear, and I could wriggle my toes. Never mind the pain, in fact I can't remember any pain, just the joy of being alive and kicking.

So my London Doctor saved my life. We still exchange Christmas cards, and have the occasional telephone conversation. I am understandably very fond of him, and I regularly bless his name. Lucky me. So I just gave Grandson another kiss, for luck.

Monday, September 3, 2007

I don't like Mondays..

Last night was great. We won the Pub Quiz handsomely, which pissed off all the regulars in the Pub, but never mind. There were only 4 in our team, but, as I said before, they are all very intelligent. We are called the Spritzer Sisters, so no guesses about what we drink...

This morning, however, woke with a sick feeling. Yet another day with no movement on the flat sale, and I'm not feeling cheerful, to put it mildly. Of course, it has to move soon, no situation lasts forever, and I suppose Mondays are the pits. The sun is coming out though, so perhaps I'll go out for a cup of coffee. Small pleaures!

Well, today certainly lived up to my expectations. Had a chat to our flat buyer, a really lovely lady, who had no positive news to relate and is going on holiday for a week tomorrow. So no luck there. Phoned the estate agents to suggest reducing the price a bit, in the hope of getting more action. And then went to pay my Road Tax (£99 for six months!!) and various other bills. Next met up with Daughter, boyfriend and Grandson for a visit to the local childrens' hospital. As it turned out, we were in a reception area which was crammed with parents and children waiting... After a while I asked what the waiting time might be. This did bring a response, and a very polite one, but the upshot was that the Consultant (I don't know why I gave him a capital letter) was unwell and couldn't take his clinic. I did wonder how long they had had this information, and why we couldn't have been told the news when we arrived (ten minutes early) for our appointment. It was half an hour after the appointed time when we (and all the other very patient patients) were given that information. We left. As Grandson's appointment was not for anything urgent, we felt it was better to give other more urgent cases a fighting chance of actually seeing someone today. Thank god for good health and the ability to walk out. As the saying goes, if you want to stay fit, stay out of hospital..

Tonight I have Grandson staying over and, as the small bedroom is occcupied by one of Son's friends, he is sleeping in my bed. So it will be a cosy and warm end to the day. Snuggling up to a three-year-old sort of gets things into perspective. I'm going to bed early just in case I have to wake up at 5.30am.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Sunday Blues.

Rising with the lark this morning (actually about 7.30, but early for me on a Sunday), I was very pleased to be going to do the Car Boot Sale. Otherwise, it would have been just another Sunday with not much going on. Gay Friend decided to come too, and was ready with two flasks of green tea, at 8am. We met up with my lovely friend Em at the field, and unloaded all our tat onto wobbly tables in the hope that someone would buy it all. By midday, we had to admit that they were probably not going to - but we had sold quite a bit (Em always does well because she is so gorgeous, and everyone wants to talk to her, so they end up buying something just to get one of her smiles!) Anyway, it was good fun. Half way through Daughter and Grandson turned up, with the boyfriend in tow - hugs and kisses all round because I hadn't seen them for a week. (I had lovely presents from the Isle of Wight, including some very naughty fudge and a large rosy apple from Nanny Daisy's garden.) And another of my Best Friends came by with her daughter and grand-daughter, so it was a delightfully social event. Everyone found a bargain or two and we drank tea, ate bacon rolls, gossiped and laughed a lot. What better to do of a Sunday?

I still haven't spoken to Son, and still haven't got my mobile phone back! I'd quite like to do both - but have left messages for Son and can't do much more. I did repeat another Feng Shui ritual for the flat yesterday, and walked to the end of the Pier to throw another set of details into the sea. The tide was definitely going out; there was a strong current and a stiff wind, so the rolled details, tied with their red ribbon, receded quite quickly. I said a solemn goodbye to the flat,wished it well with its new owner, and stepped out afterwards, hoping that I wasn't getting too many strange stares.

I can't get enthusiastic about food today, so probably won't cook, which is unusual for me. I'm off to do a Pub Quiz with some very intelligent friends this evening. We always have a good time, and sometimes we win. This evening will be even more enjoyable because, of course, there's no smoking in pubs any more. For someone like me who is allergic to just about everything, including cigarette smoke, this is marvellous news. I'll be able to breathe. It may be just the boost our team needs to thrash the competition.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A Handful of Memories.

Yesterday I did go to the cinema, but instead of Harry Potter, I saw the Bourne Ultimatum. I did enjoy it, it was very fast and exciting, and I only had to hide my face and peep from behind my fingers a couple of times. After a while such extravagant destruction of both motor cars and people becomes almost acceptable. Almost. I can't say that I followed the high espionage story in every detail, but certainly enough. Harry Potter is now only on at our local cinema at 10.45 in the morning - for the children on holiday I suppose, but somehow I can't imagine going to the movies so early in the day.

Actually, that's reminded me of when Sister and I used to go to Saturday Morning Pictures in Hornchurch. It cost sixpence (old money), or 9d if you wanted to sit up in the balcony (we never did). We used to take our 2 ounces of sweets, or if we were lucky and had saved a bit of pocket money, we bought a penny ginger cake at the baker's next door. There was a full programme, including a cartoon and a proper feature (often a cowboy film, which Sister loved). And we walked there and back on our own, which was at least a half hour each way. Once I swallowed a big blue bead during an exciting part of the film (why I was sucking it I can't recall), and we called at someone's house to ask for help. The woman, with great presence of mind, gave me a tablespoonful of Castor Oil to swallow. Ugh! When we raced home and told my Mum, she thought it was very funny. Needless to say, I never swallowed a foreign object again.

In those days, we walked everywhere. The Library was a favourite place to go in the holidays, and on one occasion we took our dog, Paddy, with us. It was a long walk, and the Library was in the middle of a large park, so Paddy had a good run, and then we tied him up outside while we sat on the cool floor in the children's section and read a few books (it was always tricky to decide which ones to actually borrow). After an hour or so we came out with our books, chattering away, and set off on the long walk home. We were half way before we realized that we had left the dog tied up outside the Library. I remember racing back, heart in mouth, to see him sitting patiently, whimpering a bit and squirming on his little spaniel's tail, so happy to see us running towards him. Poor Paddy. When we arrived home and confessed, Mum didn't think that was quite so funny!