Friday, November 30, 2007

Bless this Mouse.

Last night was the first time for ages that Grandson has slept through with me. When he stays here he usually manages to keep me awake most of the night and then gets up at about 5 am. But last night he didn't really wake me, just coughed a couple of times, and didn't come in until 7.15 this morning. It probably helped that my Swiss/German departed yesterday evening, so Grandson had his room back. Anyway, the result was that I was full of beans this morning and perfectly happy to rustle around, do breakfast and drive him to Nursery. He always goes in very cheerfully, and this morning popped his little head back around the screen to ask for another kiss before I left. What a sweetie.

When I got back home, I had a call from Son to say that they didn't get the flat they had offered on. He didn't sound too upset, if anything he was philosophical about it. He was more concerned that his card had been cloned and some low-life had been spending hundreds of pounds (or Euros) on it in Rome. Luckily the Bank had sorted it out quickly - apparently this is happening a lot these days. He told our lovely Bank Manager about the elusive flat, and she had said the same as me: "Don't worry, the right place will come along at the right time."

I then took a day off and drove into the country to see my Bosham BF (who is another old Advertising friend). It was lashing rain again, so I didn't feel that I was missing much here. I love going to her country house (this is their house in the woods in the middle of National Trust land, not in Bosham)- it's a very old, beamed job, which is at the end of a very long woodland track and looks as if it has been planted in the ground. It's the perfect country retreat and is also very comfortable and beautifully put together. She is an artist, so there are lots of her paintings around the house, but she also has the light touch of an artist which shows in the lovely soft colours and furniture piled with comfy throws and cushions: and in the chalky bluey, greeny, grey of the paintwork. She cooks like an artist too, wonderfully simple food which she seems to throw together and which always looks as good as it tastes. Today we had fresh coffee when I arrived, and then a chicken and bacon salad with pine nuts and a deceptively simple dressing. Plus a glass of cold white wine. Oh, and she had made some bread too! See what I mean? While we were eating lunch, looking out at her garden and the birds eating their lunch, there was an insistent knocking coming from somewhere behind us. After a while I said "What's that sound?" "Oh, it's the mouse", she said. Oh, OK - apparently they have this little field mouse who regularly comes into their kitchen looking for food (and who can blame it).It always gets stuck behind the same panel below the dishwasher - hence the knocking sound - so they put down humane mouse traps to catch it. Then they empty the trap in the garden so that the mouse can escape. And then he comes back again next day looking for food! Bless that mouse.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Filling in Time.

Can't believe I didn't get around to writing anything yesterday - I don't know what I did with the day, but it wasn't anything very productive. The semi-exciting news is that Son and his friend have found a flat in London that they would like to buy. This means that the pace will quicken I imagine, as they have put in an offer and are waiting to see if it will be accepted. I'm glad it's not me dealing with Estate Agents in London (or anywhere else, come to that)..

I'm very cross that I seem to be gradually putting on weight again - especially after my triumph with Weightwatchers last year. I know it's my own fault, but I only have to look at a biscuit and my resolve is in shreds. I even had a cream tea when I was out the other day - and there really is no excuse for that. I just wish I could eat anything I liked and stay thin - just like I used to do. Son has that type of physique: he can eat as much as he likes and not gain an ounce. My Dad used to say that I could eat half the turkey (and often I did) and still look like a stick. Oh for those bygone days.

My eBay activities are taking up quite a lot of time too, so double whammy on the computer. This is sitting down time, so maybe that is adding to my avoirdupoids? The weather doesn't help either, as it was lashing rain all day yesterday and again this morning. I have to nip out later and post an eBay item, and renew my parking permit, so that will be a bit of enforced exercise. I will also get a bit more running about because Grandson is coming to stay the night with me too, as Daughter and the Boyfriend are going out this evening to see someone called Bill Bailey. Apparently he is a stand-up comedian. Funny, but I just can't bear Stand-up comedy. I don't find it funny (?) and it makes me squirm - rather like Brass Bands, the ukelele and Shirley Bassey - these are all things I have to turn off when they appear either on the TV or radio. But give me an old movie, a poem, a play or some Mozart (or, of course, Terry Wogan) and I'm hooked. Speaking of which, I semi-watched most of "My Cousin Vinny" again last night, while sewing and doing my nails, simply because there was nothing else I remotely wanted to watch, and he was keeping me company.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Remembrance of Things Past..

I have been reminded about my ex-husband today, and about how I felt when he did the dirty deed. The fact that he went off with my secretary was very hurtful, particularly because I had assumed (quite wrongly of course) that she would be loyal to me! Ho, ho, ho. What had apparently appealed to her, and what she wanted for herself, was our "lifestyle" - God help us. We both worked in Advertising and were pretty successful and happy, so, yes, we did have a nice life. But we did work pretty hard for it. Anyway, when I became pregnant and later left the Agency, she went to work for my (then) husband. I didn't think anything of this at the time, but was made aware later that she was quite definitely angling to get him. After Son was born, and he was a non-sleeper for the first year, life was very stressful and difficult. We were first-time parents without a clue (I guess most people are) and after six months we were like zombies - so tired that we just staggered from day to day and night to night. This was not good for the relationship, and if I'm honest, I knew that Husband wasn't coping at all. I just got on with it, thinking that things would eventually get better, but not him. He wanted to get away, and would leave for work earlier and earlier, and come home later and later. I later learned that she would be waiting in the office for him in the mornings, with a cup of coffee, a sympathetic ear, a shoulder to cry on and presumably all her other body parts at his disposal. The wife is always the last to know, but I knew that he had absented himself in any essential sense long before he actually left.

Actually, he left when Daughter was 2 weeks old, and Son was two years old. He left on New Year's Eve. And all I felt was stupid that I hadn't realized before what a shit he was! After all, anyone who can behave like that and desert a wife and two small children doesn't deserve much in the way of consideration. So, Lulu, that's how I felt about my (now) ex having an 'affair'. It wasn't so much an affair, as an avalanche: a disaster which swept away all our previous hopes and the future lives we had imagined and believed in. Bloody awful - but we all survived and I wouldn't swap my life for his - not for a million pounds. He never really knew his children. He's now on wife number 4 and his "lifestyle" is still intact. I'm living on my own, perfectly happily, and with two wonderful grown-up children whom I'm proud to call my friends.

Oh, and there's a PS, which still makes me laugh. One glorious sunny Saturday morning in May, about 12 years later, I was sitting on my balcony in Cambridge (overlooking the Botanical Gardens) with a cup of coffee, reading the paper and feeling decidedly at peace with the world, when my phone rang. It was my ex-secretary, and she was in a state. "Oh, Margot, 'e 'as dumped me!" This was said in her heavily-french-accented voice. I sat, smiled, and said nothing. She asked if I had heard her."Yes", I said "But surely you didn't expect anything very different from the man who dumped his family for you?" There was a shocked silence at the end of the phone. Perhaps it had never occurred to her before that a leopard doesn't change his spots. Revenge, as they say, is a dish best eaten cold..

Monday, November 26, 2007

Famous people I have (almost) known..

I have taken so long reading other people's Blogs today that I feel rather depleted. It's amazing - there is so much talent out there, and it's so varied. People's lives are so very interesting and so very different. 'Umble is 'ow I feel.

Today I didn't see Daughter as I would normally, because the Boyfriend stayed over. Grandson went to Nursery and they went into town to do some Christmas shopping, which is something I can't begin to think about yet. I know it's not far away, but until the Flat Sale is further forward and we have some dates, I can't seem to concentrate on anything else. I usually get into the Christmas spirit quite early, because I can visualize our family festivities, and I love the whole Christmas thing. This year I'm not quite sure what we'll be doing, or even where we will be.
(I guess I'll also have to get used to not seeing Daughter most days, because she just won't be here.) It's going to be a last-minute Christmas, and a very different New Year.

Two pieces of very sad and bad news last week. My lovely BBF's lovely Mother died last Thursday, which was expected, but was nevertheless dreadfully sad. She was the dearest lady - a lovely Mum who adored her (grown-up) children and was always there
for them. I can't quite believe it, so can imagine how hopeless it is for my BBF. We sat at the Meeting Place yesterday afternoon with cups of tea, just talking and trying to come to terms with it all. We sat and sat, until we were frozen and the sun was setting. It still didn't seem any more acceptable..

The other bad news came from an old friend who is gay and lives in London. He married his partner last year and they have been very happy, but he has now had not one, but two Brain Tumours diagnosed. Apparently they are too deep to operate, so he is going to have chemotherapy to try and shrink them. He is going into Guy's Hospital for three weeks, and I'm sure it will be a difficult and painful time for them both. I will go and visit him - I know how awful it is when people disappear into the woodwork - but will probably wait until we see how he responds to the treatment. I was lucky in that my tumour was operable, and that I didn't have to have chemo. (Lucky!) Everything is relative, and when he needs me, I'll be there.

It seems that Kenneth Clarke (does he have an 'e'?) agrees with me that the blame for our present economical ills rests firmly at Golden Brown's door, since he was so recently Chancellor of the Exchequer. On the radio yesterday morning, he also agreed that too much information about all of us is being collected by the Government. Graham Le Saux (an intelligent footballer) put it very succinctly "It's a Trust issue. We (the British people) are losing Trust in the Government." This issue, that the Government is collecting more and more information about us, and sadly can't be trusted to keep that information safe, is something that should concern us all. What is the Inland Revenue doing with all that data anyway? (Apart from losing it.) I dread to think.

Dear old Terry Wogan set me off down memory lane again this morning, when he mentioned Brut and 'Enry Cooper. In my previous existence as a Copywriter, one of the jobs I had was with Faberge's London Agency. Every year they held a great star-studded Jamboree where all their famous "Directors" came to publicise and support Faberge. As well as Henry Cooper, who was charming, Cary Grant was there. I had always adored Cary Grant - or his image on screen, but was in for a shock. He looked the part, of course, in fact he was completely breathtaking in the flesh. But he was so rude and obnoxious to the 'workers' (and so superficially charming to the VIPs), that we all kept our distance. Perhaps that was what he wanted, but all the other glittering stars were just lovely to us minions. As my Mum used to say, breeding will out..

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Money, money, money..ain't it funny..

So much to write about, so little time. There was a lot of political talk on the radio this morning about Golden Brown and Alastair Darling - and about the fact that, while Golden doesn't own up to anything, Mr Darling (remember him in Peter Pan?) is taking responsibility for the current government problems in his department. How commendable, and how pathetic our Pry (sic) Minister looks by comparison. At least some commentators were saying today that good old Golden started most of these scenarios when he was "in charge", have the scales fallen from their eyes? Can a duck swim? And then there was the talk about Northern Rock: the chief Shareholder is now carping at the possibility that some of their assets might have to be sold off in a dodgy market, and so not make as much money as he thinks they're worth. Did no-one tell him that "when you invest in Shares, the value of your investment may go up or down" ? Funny how it's one rule for 'them' and another for 'us'.

Writing about my Father yesterday reminded me that his name was something which changed all the time. When he was born, he was christened (or so we believe) Jasper Stanley. By the time I remember him, when I was about eight onwards, he was called Jim by everyone, including my Mum. Then, when they had divorced and he was living in London, he was universally known as John - which was quite definitely not his name.
Hence the name of his son, my half-brother, Jeremy John, whom Joan (wicked step-mother) mistakenly assumed she was naming after his father! Quite funny really.

Guess what, I won another £19.50 on Euromillions last night. The prizes are slowly increasing in value, so watch out for a Jackpot coming my way. I spent some of my winnings on a rabbit (dead, not alive) in the Farmers' Market in George Street today. I'm going to casserole it with some cider. Yummy.

Again on the radio this morning, I was listening to Fee Glover talking to a young "Cage Fighter" about what he does for a living. It all sounded rather gruesome and bloody. She asked him how his Mum felt about it, and he said she worries - no kidding - but he has been known to say to her (and I quote) "Don't worry Mum, I'm going to bash him up in a minute." Aah, bless..

Friday, November 23, 2007

Where the dogs come from..

Chihuahua, Mexico is where my latest reader is based - or perhaps my one reader is moving around the world at the speed of light and logging on from time to time? I feel rather like Terry Wogan (I wish) with his one listener. Anyway, this week I have also had visitors from Buenos Aires Argentina, St. Paul Minnesota, Denver Colorado, Fresno California and Cork in Ireland. Welcome you all, and I hope you'll come around again.

I'm not sure how one actually gets new readers, or how they find a Blog? It's a complete mystery to me, and one I wish I could solve. Do I send links to all my friends, far and wide, in the hope that they will pass it on? Or is there some place one can (virtually) visit, which publicises your Blog? I started reading "Wife in the North" after seeing an article about her in the Sunday Times - but of course, not all of us are so well-connected, or so talented! The world of Blogging was a wonderful discovery for me. It's great that there are so many people out there, in the ether, communicating. But who are we communicating with? And how do we attract an audience? Is there anyone out there who knows the answer to this question? Because I don't even know where to go to ask it, except here - and who knows if anyone is listening, or reading? Questions, questions..

I'm writing this in the commercial break - watching "My Cousin Vinny". This has been a favourite film of mine for years - I love Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei is just great.
I can't resist that Brooklyn New York humour, the way they argue for the love of it -and then there is that priceless moment when the judge asks "What is a yout?" (we haven't got there yet tonight). It cracks me up every time.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

There's now't so queer as folk.

Stop, start. Stop, start - this moving business involves quite a lot of hanging around. Everyone is filling in forms and talking to their solicitors. Emails are flying back and forth. Paperwork proliferates. I'm only hoping that we can keep it on track and complete before Christmas. That would be so perfect.

Daughter and I were talking about Grandson and food again today. And I was reminded of my Father's second wife, Joan. She was a strange woman with witchy black hair and a square, jowly face. She also had a pronounced limp because she had one leg shorter than the other, so you could always hear her coming down the hall in the flat. She was clever, in a foxy way, but not very bright. This was not the sort of woman I expected my Dad to end up with, but he reckoned without her wily ways. She spotted him at a vulnerable moment, when he had just returned from Australia (having lost his previous partner to a brain haemorrhage), and set about catching him. She was working as a waitress and he was a Banqueting Manager. Joan was undoubtedly clever, and my Dad wasn't that bright at avoiding women. Anyway, she managed to get pregnant and produced a son, Jeremy John.

Now my Father had always wanted a son - and he had two daughters. We were already grown up, so a young son was completely irresistible. The upshot was, Joan and young Jeremy moved in with my Father, and Sister and I were ousted. They did eventually get married, and we went to the wedding. But the thing I was remembering today, was that Joan had two daughters (younger than we were) and always asked them what they wanted for dinner. This meant that in practise she often cooked two or three different meals every evening. I always thought this was dumb - we had never had a choice of food, and ate practically anything. Still do. But Joan produced three children who were all picky. A rod for her own back. Daughter and I thought this one over, and decided that Grandson is going to grow up eating what everyone else eats. Like it or lump it..

Just to finish the story, when my Father died, Joan obviously decided that she didn't want anything more to do with Sister and me. We tried to keep in touch after the funeral (he was buried in August and my Daughter was born in December 1981), but she was determined to keep us out of their lives. I'm sure she had her reasons.
The end result is that I have a wicked stepmother out there somewhere - if she is still alive - and a half-brother called Jeremy John. He would now be about forty-something. I wonder if I would recognize him?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

We're not winning any more...

I've been watching England play (or rather not play) football this evening. What a shower. The frustration of watching them give the game away was almost too much for me, though I did watch until the (extremely) bitter end. David Beckham was our only hope and even he couldn't pull it off single-handed and in the second half. Son was going to Wembley this evening to watch the game, and I sent him a text after the first two goals went in for Croatia "Oh bugger, Son, get on that pitch." I always believe that he could win the game for them. Maybe I'm biased..

Terry Wogan had an amusing comment this morning about Golden Brown's right hand man: "How can you take a politician seriously when he's called Ed Balls." I concur. And I'm less and less impressed with Golden - he's losing what grip he had. I bet he's jolly glad he's no longer in charge of the public purse - disaster is following disaster and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is quite definitely in the firing line.
No-one seems to be mentioning the person who was Chancellor of the Exchequer until quite recently, though. Presumably he's pretending that none of the current global financial problems were anything to do with him. I honestly believe that politicians all think that we, the great British Public, are mentally deficient. Yes, we do know what is happening, and yes, we do blame the politicians who are supposed to be in charge. And no, Golden, none of us voted for you to be the new Pry Minister, (has anyone else noticed the new pronunciation?) and we're not likely to do so any time soon.

Last night was another wakeful one for yours truly. Grandson opted to tuck in with me, and so I didn't get much sleep. Amazingly, he broke his previous record (5.30am) and woke at 4.30am!!! I just don't get it - he sleeps at home until 7.30 sometimes, but I've never been that lucky when he stays with me. At 5am I went downstairs and made him some warm milk and a piece of toast because he said he was hungry. He did
scoff the lot, but whereas I thought he would then go back to sleep, he seemed quite happy to lie there awake. We chatted a bit, he told me what a good boy he was, and we had a lovely cuddle. I stuck it out until 6.15 and then sent him in to his Mum.
She had had a lovely night's sleep, so I didn't feel guilty. And I went back to sleep for another hour before staggering downstairs to make breakfast for my Student. It was lashing down with rain again, and I could cheerfully have gone back to bed, but no such luck. I'm off to bed now to catch up on those zzzzzzs...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Sky is a hazy shade of Winter.

Spent most of today rushing from pillar to post - not sure what that means, but it describes the day perfectly. This morning had to respond to an eBayer question about something I'm selling, and had to go to the Post Office to get a price for the postage - International to the USA. And I was posting all the completed forms and the Contract for Son to sign and send on. All very important. And had to work out postage for an item already sold on eBay - this time to the Netherlands. And then rushed back, dropping in at Tesco on the way for the odd essential bits of food, to pick up Daughter and Grandson because we had planned to go to Ikea for the day. Phew! By 10.30 I was pretty well pooped. And soaked through.

Then there was the drive to Ikea in pouring rain with lousy visibility. My car steamed up inside, what with all of us breathing all at once (!), and then the rear window wiper packed up. Oh Joy. I would have turned back if I could have. Anyway, we made it in one piece, and of course the rain stopped the minute we arrived. The coffee and cake were all worth it, and Grandson was so good that we all enjoyed our visit. As soon as we got into the car for the return journey, however, the rain started again, and didn't stop sheeting down until we were safely indoors at this end! Sod's bloody Law. Then there was Grandson's supper to get (actually he made his special scrambled eggs again), Student's supper to cook and supper for Daughter and me. By the time I sat down, it was time to get up again to check the eBay stuff..

On the good side though, my Student took one look at Daughter, who is a looker, and immediately morphed into this rather dopey smiling stranger whom I had certainly never encountered before. Daughter and Grandson are staying here tonight, so I think I'll let her do his breakfast in the morning. I'm ready for a lie-in.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What did you say?

Another bloody awful day, weatherwise, though this morning I did manage to get into town to have my hair cut. It was beginning to look rather 'wet dog', so a cut was overdue. Trevor Sorbie's is a very relaxing place to visit. Apart from the usual fresh coffee or tea, you can have a glass of wine if you want (too early for me), and they offer head massage as part of the shampooing experience. The girl who cuts my hair is called Morgan and is probably about twenty. They're all so confident, and competent, that I'm very impressed. And they're all so gorgeous. It makes me long for the days when I used to swan into Vidal Sassoon in Sloane Street, when I was young and gorgeous too. I could wear what I liked, have my hair any colour I liked, and turn heads wherever I went. Ah well.. I may be invisible now, but I can remember when I wasn't.

The rest of the day has been spent filling in forms and checking details on the Contract for the flat sale. There is so much paperwork - I can't remember that it was this bad only five years ago - but at least we don't have to do the new HIP. Of course it falls to me to do this - Son just doesn't have the time and it would all take far too long if it was left to him.

Ebayers are biting on some of my listed items. Jolly good. It's just great to get rid of some of the stuff I've collected over the years. And it's fun checking out what other people are selling too. Not that I'm tempted to buy anything - the only thing that tempts me now is Designer clothes - fat chance!

Terry Wogan had a lot of fun this morning with the announcement that Hearing Tests could become compulsory for the over fifty-fives. How do they work out this arbitrary age? Does one's hearing automatically fade at this stage? Can't say I've noticed - although Daughter does sometimes say "Mum, you're deaf!" This is usually
when I'm either not concentrating on what she's saying, or not wanting to listen - it's entirely selective as far as I'm concerned. I do remember though, that when Daughter was very young she had quite severe hearing problems. Without me realizing it, she had learned to lip-read at the age of about four. I only discovered this one day when she had her back turned to me and didn't hear me calling her. My voice got louder and louder, until I panicked and shouted - still she didn't hear me. I had to get in front of her, holding onto her arms, before she was aware I was even calling her. When we went to the Doctor, he assured me that this is quite common - children can adapt in the most astonishing ways to a disability. I was appalled that I hadn't noticed, but there it was! She went on to have all sorts of tests and then three lots of gromits before the ears were finally sorted out - and the final set of gromits were done just before she went to University, so the problem persisted for years, and caused her many problems. At one stage, when her 'Glue Ear' was very bad, the specialists were predicting that she would be quite deaf quite soon (I think she was about 10 at the time). Luckily, though, this prognosis proved false and she can now hear perfectly well. But I noticed that when we took Grandson for his hearing test a couple of months ago, she was very nervous! I guess she was reliving her experiences and hoping that the problems hadn't been inherited. No worries - he came through it with flying colours and gave the Doctor a funny look when the old buffer couldn't keep up. No flies on my Grandson!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Rainy Sunday Afternoon.

As I sit here typing away, the rain is lashing at my windows. I went out to lunch today with my downstairs neighbour and her friend from across the road, and when we went out it was cold but not too bad. Two hours later (it took that long to get lunch in the pub!) we were soaked from head to toe and buffeted by the wind before we had walked more than a few yards. When the weather comes down here, it doesn't muck about. It was lovely to get indoors and cosy up with a cup of tea.

I have sent off my estimate for doing the writing work for my Portuguese client, and have sat putting yet more things on eBay since then. Also, the flat sale contract arrived yesterday, so we will have to deal with that quickly. It would have been easier if Son had come down for the weekend, but he had other business - Friday he was going to the Queen Elizabeth Hall for some Jazz, and today he was playing football - in this weather! Just like the old days - a bit of rain and wind wouldn't have stopped us back then.

This morning on the steam radio there was a bit about the Queen's 60th Wedding Anniversary. I gather they have put 47 facts about their wedding (or is it 60) on their website. The one that caught my ear was about their wedding cake. Apparently
the ingredients came from Australia because of rationing over here in 1947. How clever of Queenie to get round that one while the rest of us were making do with eggless cake.. But hang on, surely the eggs didn't come all the way from Australia?

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.

I was out to dinner last night with a couple of BBFs. It was really great to eat someone else's food for a change. She had cooked a roast chicken with lovely roast potatoes, and we had profiteroles for dessert. (Plus we consumed a bottle of Tesco's finest Cava!) Of course I had to give my Student dinner before I went out - can't neglect my duties, and he polished off his minced beef and mash like lightning. When I was talking about him over our dinner, my old Advertising Friend (BBF's husband) reliably informed me that the Swiss/Germans were the really hard-line Nazis in the War. (He is just about old enough to remember the War, and grew up in the East End of London.) This puts an entirely new complexion on my Student's behaviour: maybe he feels he is dealing with an inferior race, and therefore doesn't see the need to communicate with me. I must be careful with the gas...

Our conversation last night ranged over Foreign Students I have known, Death and Religion! The last two being most the incendiary subjects. My BBF's dear Mum is so very ill, and may not live to see Christmas. It's extraordinary how serious, terminal illness and the prospect of death scares people away. BBF was saying that many of her Mum's friends, and even family members, have disappeared, presumably because they can't face the prospect of Death touching them - they think it's catching. This was exactly my experience when my Brain Tumour was diagnosed. Many of my closest friends, and family, just couldn't cope with it and simply vanished. It was incredibly hurtful, especially since all you really want is someone to sit there and hold your hand while you get through the worst bits. Luckily, I did get through and have lived to tell the tale. BBFs husband was quite fierce about both Death and Religion (something I can't see the point of). He is a late convert to Catholicism, and does wave the flag a bit. It's interesting, though, that he is obviously just as terrified of Death as anyone else. His Religion doesn't seem to be giving him much comfort there.

Over breakfast this morning, I was trying to explain to my Student that I was doing some Advertising work, but - again - his blank expression showed that he didn't understand. I showed him some ads in a magazine to enlighten him. It turns out that Advertising in German is "Werbung". This made me laugh - and I'm positive that I have never heard the word before. Not surprising, I guess, since I can't recall a single memorable Advertising Campaign from Germany - there's "Vorsprung durch Technik" of course, but that was used by an English Agency for obvious reasons: Germans are good at the "technik", but not so hot on the imagination...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Busy, busy..

It's a dreary, dreary rainy Saturday. Luckily I got out into the garden yesterday for a rather belated Autumn tidy-up. I swept the leaves, cut the grass (it's not posh enough to be a lawn) and cleared leaves from my little pond. Sadly, there's only one fish left in there (I think) because I have fished out three dead ones over the last month or so. Not sure what has killed them off, but my biggest one was more than three years old, so I suppose he had had a good run, or swim! I can't be sure if there are any others because there's so much weed in the deep part that I can't see if any little ones are hiding. My frog hasn't been seen for a while, but that's normal. And I do think that my new neighbour's new cats may have been partly guilty for the demise of the fish. Young Thomas the tomcat may be frightening them to death!

Daughter is getting into a panic about moving, and has started packing boxes already. I have promised to go and help her, but I do fear that we may be packing stuff she will eventually throw away. I remember when Son moved to London, he just threw stuff into boxes which are now in my loft. If he ever looks at them again, I'm a monkey's uncle. Anyway, when Daughter finds somewhere, she can have her own boxes of rubbish in her own loft. My time for storing their cast-offs is over. I want my loft back. Actually, I want my loft empty.

Have listed a few more things on eBay, though nothing seems to have aroused much interest. I have such a collection of old pieces of linen, embroidery and lace, and I just don't want to hang on to them any more. It's a cleansing process, getting rid of stuff, and if I can sell them for a few bob it all helps.

I have some more French visitors coming next week: the auntie of one of my friend's neighbours (sort that one out), is coming on Wednesday for three nights. She wants some English conversation as well as B & B. And then next Saturday my French Student's parents are coming over to see how she is getting on in her job and her flat. I haven't seen her since she left a couple of weeks ago, but have had one message and she seems fine. It will be rather nice to have someone to talk to properly; conversation with my current Student is stilted to say the least. Today he had to resort to the dictionary for something or other, but I still couldn't understand what it was.

Some writing work has turned up, for a client in Portugal. They produce and sell high quality bathmats, ranges of towels etc. This time last year I wrote their new Catalogues and some Press Releases, which was pretty lucrative and good fun. This year they have contacted me by email, and seem to have done away with the services of the Designer I worked with last year. This could make the job quite tricky, because she was Portuguese and was able to translate their abysmal efforts at English. I have read through their 'brief',and it's obvious that I will have to do a lot of preliminary work on decoding what they actually mean. They use phrases like 'Young and Sport' and 'Spa-Terapy Hotel!' (the exclamation is theirs) to describe products and have suggested some slogans: 'Getting Up' and 'Surround You' are two examples (which sound quite rude to me). Their favourite is 'Premium Home Living Concept'. But perhaps their best effort is "Bringing a glance of Nature into your everyday Living." It's obvious how much they need me. Come to think of it, 'Premium Home Living Concept' sounds like something Tesco would be selling...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fifty tiny fingers, fifty tiny toes...

Well blow me down, as my Mum used to say, that metaphorical clip round the ear seems to have worked. This morning a smiling Student came down for breakfast. He said good morning. He was extremely polite and pleasant and he even offered to mend the broken dimmer switch in the Dining Room. This is all a great advance on the first half of the week. Physical punishment, even the metaphorical kind, obviously works!!

Daughter and Grandson walked over to see me this morning. Grandson came up the stairs shouting out "Nana", and we had a huge cuddle and a big kiss. He does a very wet kiss, and then wipes his hand across his mouth and says "ugh". He thinks it's so funny. Then we tootled off in the car to see the donkeys and feed them carrots. After feeding the animals, Grandson always has a ride in a trolley, with me pushing him. It's a kind of ritual. We look at the statues and pots, and at the miniature windmills (he's very keen on windmills, large and small). Then we visit the fish in their tanks and he plays with the water features. After this, we say goodbye to the donkeys (and the goats, pigs and chickens) and drive to the other Garden Centre where we have lunch. It was all very relaxed and nice today, with Daughter and I feeling more unwound and more cheerful. And it was another glorious blue-sky day, with the downs looking lovely in their Autumn best. As we drove back over the Dyke, down into Brighton, the sun had turned the sea bright silver. And then this evening as I drove back along the sea front, after dropping them off at home, there was the most spectacular sunset I have ever seen here. There were great banks of cloud looking like a land mass out to sea, and everything was backlit a wonderful rosy colour. At the edge of the clouds was a shaft of gold, and the surface of the sea looked glittering and polished. Actually, it's useless to try and describe it, but it did take my breath away, and I wished I had had my camera with me.

I heard on the news this morning about the quintuplets which have been born to a young Russian woman at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford. How on earth those parents are going to cope with five babies I can't imagine. They were born at 26 weeks, and each have their own team of doctors at the hospital. Amazingly, they are all doing well; what a blessing that is. Five girls! Just imagine five of everything at every stage. And five teenagers all at once. I expect the parents will have a lot of help and support, but they will also need all the courage, optimism and strength they can muster. Not to mention a fortune. I wish them the very best of luck..

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

No Manners.

Well, that was the absolute pits. He did seem to enjoy the spag. bol. and salad - his plate was practically licked clean - but still no conversation. And then when I went into the kitchen to get dessert, I came back to find that he had vanished, without a word. I sat and waited for a few minutes, and then called up the stairs to him. He came down, without a word of apology, and sat and demolished his meringue and ice cream, again in silence. Then he said he was full. Oh goody. I have noticed that he he tends to appear at the table without saying either good morning or good evening and then disappears after food. I did think it was maybe that he didn't know what to say, but now I think he just doesn't have any manners. (And if he was any son of mine, he would have had a 'metaphorical' clip round the ear by now.) I then explained to him that the English are a polite nation, and say "please" and "thank you" where appropriate. He had the grace to look rather ashamed - and I have discovered that he does know the words - he just didn't think it was necessary to say them. (Why?) This man is thirty-six - not a child. He is not married, lives alone and doesn't have a girlfriend at the moment. I can't say I'm surprised.

My lovely computer man, Dan, came round with my new keyboard this afternoon. It is very smart indeed and goes beautifully with all my black and silver equipment. It also has some very intelligent functions which I will have to get to grips with. Dan and I sat and had tea and biscuits after he had installed the keyboard, and both looked back over a somewhat chequered year. We are going to get together for a celebration before Christmas, and drink a toast to better times.

I haven't seen Grandson yet this week and I miss him - he has had a busy week at Nursery though, making decorations for their Christmas Party. And he has told Daughter that he wants to go and give Mickey Mouse a cuddle (in Disneyland). He has seen the ads for Disneyland which are on every Walt Disney video or DVD, and fancies a giant cuddle from a giant Disney character. Bless the boy. Impossible as it may seem, Daughter is now looking at schools for him. They will be moving as soon as the flat sale goes through, so it will be all change. And thinking slightly ahead, Son has suggested that we might all go away for Christmas if everything goes to plan. Somewhere hot. Sounds good to me.

As it was getting dark this evening, a delicate sliver of moon appeared between the blowing branches of the cherry tree. I noticed it through the window. "How lovely", I thought, how good I feel and how our lives have moved on in just a couple of days. I guess that's all it takes.

Small Celebrations.

Today I woke, again, without the sick feeling in my stomach. Mind you, I was woken at 6.40am by my Foreign Student trying to flush the downstairs toilet. Again. I have shown him several times how to do it - it's not really difficult, but there's a knack to it - two quick downward pushes: one,two, just like that. Anyway, he can't seem to do it (why?) so I showed him again this morning. His slow, smiling face watched me, and then he said "It iss difficult." "No", I said, "it's easy." He didn't look convinced.

Breakfast was not a great success either - not the food aspect, which was fine, but it's the complete lack of conversation. Is it just me, but I can't sit there opposite someone and not at least try and converse. Of course I have seen many couples (married I assume) sitting opposite each other in hotels and restaurants and not uttering a word throughout the meal. How do they do that? Anyway, three weeks is beginning to seem like three years already. I'm off to make a spaghetti Bolognese for supper, and do hope it may loosen his tongue.

Daughter and I had a small celebration today, when we went to Bill's for brunch. It is such a great restaurant - rather like a New York deli. It's packed with gorgeous food, fresh fruit and vegetables, heavenly cakes, everything home-made and delicious.
We had poached eggs on toast and coffee, which was quite moderate really. It was a little early for champagne. The other satisfying thing we did was to call in at the Estate Agents and pick up the flat keys. They don't need them any longer. Oh Joy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Goodnight, Sweet Dreams.

Time for bed - and I have spent the day in a kind of fever. I just don't know what to do with myself (like Dusty Springfield!). I wanted to celebrate, but Daughter was out for the day with the Boyfriend, Son is in London, and both my Brighton BFs were unavailable. It will have to wait until tomorrow. As displacement activity, I have been putting things on eBay to sell again. I had forgotten how time-consuming this is. Listing an item takes forever, and then you press the wrong key and you have to start all over again. I have managed to list only three things since yesterday evening. Pathetic.

My Swiss/German student is proving just as difficult as I thought - not that he means to be, but he simply doesn't understand a word I say. This means that simple questions like "Did you have a good day?" are met with a totally puzzled expression and complete silence while he works out what I have said. And he calls me Margott - with a heavily pronounced 't'. I have told him, several times and very slowly, that it's pronounced Margo ("the 't' is silent. as in Harlo(w)") - but he doesn't get either the meaning or the joke as yet.
Give him time..


I'm so relieved I can barely write. I feel like taking a shower in champagne. Son's flat has sold - at last and properly - to our original lady buyer who has hung on since June. What's more, the people who have bought her house want to complete before Christmas, because their buyers have sold and need to move quickly!! I have passed it all over to our lovely solicitor who has his feet firmly on the ground and will do everything properly. He is such a dear, and has our best interests at heart.
I met him first years ago when I had just recovered from the brain tumour, and he has been our family solicitor ever since. He is like an elephant in that he never forgets anything. And he can always be relied on to hit the nail on the head - precisely; just the kind of person we need on our side now. I'm off to take that shower..

Monday, November 12, 2007

Shopping, Walking, Eating, Talking.

Had a mostly enjoyable weekend with my Aristocratic BF, which focussed mostly on walks by the sea and food - two of our favourite things. Luckily the weather was good on both days, so our walks were just perfect. On Saturday, after buying some Lemon Sole from the fishman on the beach, we walked along to the Meeting Place and sat with coffee and naughty cake looking out to sea. After this indulgence, we went up the hill to town, and Aristocratic BF managed to spend over £50 in Primark. (This takes some doing, as Son remarked.) We were very hot by this time - those shops are kept far too warm - so we jumped on the bus home. Our supper was grilled Lemon Sole with saute potatoes and peas, followed by pancakes, which I love making (and eating).

On Sunday, after the emotional Remembrance Service, we took ourselves off for another walk by the sea. It was very sunny, despite earlier showers, and we were very warm by the time we arrived in town. Aristocratic BF is a tireless shopper; we visited British Home Stores, where she tried on everything in sight and spent another fortune. Then we crossed the road to M & S for food shopping. There was a tasting going on, so we tried Cava and lovely chocolate biscuits. The dear little girls who were doing the promotion were having a hard time with one persistent customer. She was an elderly lady who was determined to taste everything (particularly the wine) several times over. When we left, having trawled the whole store while ABF spent for England, she was still propped up against their stand, and didn't look like moving. Sweet!

By the time we arrived home, the pheasant casserole was cooked to perfection (well, truthfully, a little more than perfection) so I hustled round and produced potato and parsnip mash and steamed veg to go with it. For 'afters' we indulged in a steamed syrup sponge which I made, with homemade custard too. ABF then tootled off back to Kent, and I washed up.

My new Swiss/German student arrived at about 6pm, with some English friends. Thankfully they were able to do introductions and explanations, because his English is pretty well non-existent. I gave him some pheasant for supper, and syrup pudding with custard, which he evidently enjoyed - but it's going to be hard going for the next three weeks. I'll be talking to myself most of the time. (So what's new?)

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I'm always completely overwhelmed by my feelings on Remembrance Sunday. When the children were at the Leys, I always went to the service for Remembrance, and was in tears before I knew it. The lovely chapel was full of wonderful children, with morning-bright faces (even if most of them didn't particularly want to be there), and I always read the names of those who had gone, often straight from school, to fight in two world wars and lost their lives. It was incredibly poignant to stand there and sing the usual hymns, knowing that 17 and 18 year-old boys from that very place had been in the bloody trenches and had died the most horrific deaths. They all were someone's son. This morning, I phoned Son and left a rather tearful message to this effect. And then I phoned Daughter to say the same - they are my closest and dearest and it seemed right to talk to them at that moment. Daughter was standing on the balcony with Grandson and they were watching the Remembrance parade and service at the War Memorial across the road. Son, who phoned me back later to see if I was alright, was off to play football! Life goes on..

My maternal Grandfather was in the First World War, fighting in those same bloody trenches. He was in an artillery regiment mostly made up of friends from Tottenham. They were all down-to-earth London blokes who supported the Spurs and didn't stop joking whatever happened. I remember my Grandad telling us that he had been in the trenches one day with his best mate, when shells were bursting all around them. He turned to his mate to say "Blimey, that was close!", only to see that his friend's head had been "blown orf." He told this story often; it was described without drama, and with a touch of his usual cockney humour - it must have been just one of many such experiences in that war.

My Father wasn't able to go to the Second World War because he had only one eye. He lost his right eye in an accident when he was a boy, with the result that he could never stand the sight of his own blood. (I clearly remember him fainting clean away one day in the back garden when he cut his hand chopping wood for the fire.) Anyway, my Dad was an Air Raid Warden, which meant he had to help people into Air Raid shelters, and go round checking that windows were blacked-out and no lights were showing (in case it gave the German planes some idea of where to drop their bombs). I don't know what else he did, but I'm sure he would have preferred to go to war.

In their days, my Father's and Grandfather's, the idea of going to war and fighting for your country was heroic. Young boys would lie about their age to get the chance to fight. That's why Remembrance Sunday brings such poignant feelings for me. Here we all sit: happy, healthy, safe and free because of the ultimate sacrifice made by so many glorious young men (and women). If they could see us now, I do hope that they would think it was all worth it.

"Time like an ever-rolling stream bears all her sons away.
They fly, forgotten, as a dream flies at the break of day."

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dream Lover.

How I would love to visit Round Lake, Illinois. It sounds so perfectly lovely - and is the home of one of my latest blog visitors. Others this week have hailed from China (gosh, one from China!), New York and Michigan - plus the regulars, whom I thank profusely for being interested and bothering to read my ramblings.

Last night another much more disturbing dream. This time I was told that Jack (last great lover) was dead. This was very distressing (in my dream) and there was a lot of description and discussion about how he had died. I won't bore you with the details, but the cause of his death seemed to be an excess of sex!! Not that this would have been entirely out of character, because we were both quite keen on sex and had a very good relationship in that area, if not in others. It was just the strangest and most vivid dream, with a very dark and mysterious atmosphere pervading it throughout.(I suppose it had a lot in common, visually and dramatically, with the Harry Potter film I saw in the week.) Anyway, I woke up convinced that it was true, and took a while to realise that it had all been a dream. Not quite sure how to react - it's years since we were in touch and I'm not sure that a phone call to see if he's still alive would be appropriate..

Friday, November 9, 2007


This morning a rude awakening when the telephone rang at 7.30am. It turned out to be a wrong number, which was pretty infuriating, but the worst thing was being woken from my dream. It was in glorious technicolour and I was sitting at a huge, round table with a lot of other people (where I don't know) and was about to be introduced to Terry Wogan! It was a sunny day, everyone was smiling, and I was wondering what I would say when the moment came. I tried to go back to sleep, just to see if I could slip back into the dream, but no luck. Ah well..

There is no more news on either of our flat buyers, but we had another viewing this morning through the Agents. This couple (again) seemed very nice and liked the flat, though I no longer have any faith in my ability to spot potential buyers. At first it seemed obvious, but now I haven't a clue - and I'm beginning to see just how Estate Agents earn their money. When this little episode is over, I don't want to have anything to do with buying and selling property for a very long time.

My Aristocratic BF is coming down for the weekend, which will be lovely. She is bringing some more apples and crab apples I think, just to keep me occupied. And if the weather is OK we'll be going for walks down by the sea. She also wants to do some shopping in our huge new Primark, and in Marks & Spencer. I don't mind as long as I don't have to shop too - I just can't raise the enthusiasm for buying anything lately - except the bare essentials.

Son is apparently suffering from the 'flu and is at home in bed. Grandson isn't well either and was sent home from Nursery today after being sick. Even Hon.Grandaughter, who was coming to stay the night tonight, had to cry off because she had a tooth out yesterday and is still not feeling well. On the good side, however, Daughter is feeling better, having finished her antibiotics, and I'm fit as a flea. Not that I want to tempt fate!

Both of my Brighton BFs have been having difficult times, and so I haven't seen much of them lately. One has a Mother-in-Law, in her late eighties, who lives 'oop North' and has just had an operation. My BF and her husband are spending a lot of time driving to and fro and trying to sort things out, and it's obviously miserable for them all. My other BBF is trying to juggle a very demanding full-time job, a husband(ditto) and a lovely Mum who lives quite near, but who is very ill indeed. It makes me realize that I have absolutely nothing to complain about. My worries are all little ones by comparison...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

To be or not to be.

To be or not to be obese, that seems to be the question. Now I would have thought it was pretty obvious. Surely no-one really wants to be obese, and it does put a person at risk of all sorts of diseases, like heart disease for example. But maybe it's not a choice? I remember that Daughter suddenly 'blew up' when she was about 11 and became huge practically overnight. There didn't seem to be any reason, except possibly hormones, but our Doctor was quite unable to either put a finger on the cause, or do anything about it. In practise, it meant that poor Daughter had to put up with this unwanted burden, which no-one could explain, and which nothing seemed to shift. And she was (understandably) so sensitive about her weight that it couldn't be mentioned by anyone. She wouldn't be weighed and she wouldn't talk about the problem. We lived with this for a couple of years, and only when she went to another school (the same Independent School that Son was at), did the weight practically melt away. It was probably helped by the fact that they had to do sport three afternoons a week, with no excuses or exclusions, but I was never sure that it was only that. Heaven knows it was wonderful when she regained her old self, shape, size and temperament, but having gone through that with her, I would never wish obesity on anyone.

I heard this morning that the Government is about to tackle the problem of Chicken Pox with a new vaccination programme. There was mention of it possibly being included with the MMR vaccine, but surely that's not a good idea? My two (along with many others) didn't have the MMR, principally because we have allergies in the family, and Son had asthma. Those were contra-indications and I didn't think it was worth the risk. They had the vaccines separately, but Daughter managed to get Measles a week before she was due to be vaccinated, and then some time later, they got one mump each - at the same time of course. Thankfully, they were fine generally and haven't suffered longterm. Otherwise, it would have been all my fault.

Went to a Senior Screen this morning for the first time ever. It is held in our local Odeon cinema on a Thursday morning, and this morning they were showing the latest Harry Potter. I didn't know what to expect in the way of audience, but it was really mixed. Anyone is welcome, so they were not all oldies, and we had tea and biscuits and a little chat before the film. My Gay Friend usually goes to this, but he didn't today because he's not keen on Harry Potter. I just loved it though. It was very 'dark' and quite scary, and the special effects were, if anything, more stunning than in the earlier films. I do enjoy seeing the stars growing up, too. Ron, Hermione, Neville and Harry were perfectly adolescent - you could see the spots and almost smell the sweat (not on Hermione of course, she's squeaky-clean). It was terribly loud though (perhaps because a large percentage of the audience are deaf?) so I had a headache by the end of it, but was still pleased that I went. One disappointment for me was that they had changed the location of Hogwarts - nothing in this one was familiar. The surroundings had all changed and I felt rather disoriented. Perhaps it was a directorial decision, but it missed out for me.

There has been a lot of talk about the English language, grammar and usage among the bloggers recently, and it reminded me of something that Oscar Wilde once said in a letter to a friend. (This is not word for word perfect, but you'll get the gist.) "I must apologise for the length of this letter. I did not have the time to write a short one."

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Hold your Horses.

What did I say about counting my chickens? (Mixing those metaphors again!) I walked in this evening to a phone call from the Agents to say that they're not getting the answers they need from the prospective purchaser, and are therefore being cautious about the sale! How much more of this can we take? I did feel that this new buyer was hassling us about agreeing to a price, and I wondered why it was so important to have it nailed by the end of the day yesterday. We went along with her on the understanding that she both wanted and needed to proceed quickly, as do we. I hope that this is just a hiccough, and that everything will toddle along nicely when we get some answers from her solicitor. In the meantime, we have another viewing booked in for Friday, and the Agent is assuring us of his undivided attention so that we can hopefully proceed. Son is wasting no time and is looking at a flat in London as I write. We just have to stay positive.

What a difference a day makes. It was great to feel that the pressures had evaporated today, and I was able to just be, without that nagging feeling that I ought to be doing something else. I didn't feel sick. I didn't feel anxious. It's a good feeling.

I thought of an old friend this evening - probably one of my oldest friends. He is a drummer whom I met when I went to a Sixth Form Dance, many centuries ago. He was playing for the dance, in a group called the Terry Graham Trio. He was the Terry and Graham Bond was the Graham. And they had a pianist called Colin. Some of you may have heard of Graham Bond. He was a brilliant and multi-talented jazz musician who could play almost any instrument you could think of. He was terrific on the saxophone (all kinds) and the piano. He didn't need music on the page, it was in his veins. He formed the Graham Bond Organisation (with Ginger Baker), and became pretty famous. He was, despite his size and huge personality, a very fragile person. He got into drugs, and Black Magic, and, oh, all sorts of dark things. And his personal life was a mess too. In the end, he couldn't handle any of it, and jumped under an underground train. But the Graham I remember was a real friend, someone who would come round to our house and play the piano for hours. We laughed so much, Terry, Graham and me and Sister too. And Terry and I still keep in touch, not very often but that's OK. We have some great memories.

"What light through yonder window breaks?"

Have I done something right? It seems so. Because I breast-fed my two children, I have given them a head start in the intelligence stakes, apparently. How strange, and I'm not sure how that configures. I know it seemed the right thing to do at the time, but it was also a very pleasurable and rewarding experience. Luckily, I didn't have any disasters with breast-feeding, as many mothers do. (Though I wasn't given the correct information, or very much encouragement either.) I did have mastitis once, very briefly, and have felt sorry for cows ever since. It was bloody painful. I don't much like drinking milk myself, and do think it's awful that we keep cows lactating for years after they have given birth, just so that we can drink milk every day. Poor things. Nine months was enough for me..

Son's flat seems to have sold - again - at last. I say 'seems' because I have learned over the last year not to count my chickens. It's not a great offer, and was very badly handled by the Estate Agents (surprise, surprise), so we spent yesterday to-ing and fro-ing on the phone, with everyone getting the wrong bits of information. The prospective buyer seemed to be calling the tune, so I was not at all happy. However, I have read my horoscope today, and am remaining calm and flexible. We'll see what happens over the next few days.

Grandson was here last night to give Daughter a break and a good sleep, but the consequence was that I had a terrible night. He has a cold and a cough, so I kept dozing off, only to be woken by loud snoring when he was on his back, or fits of coughing in my ear when he turned onto his side. Bless the boy, it wasn't his fault, but I lay there re-hashing the day's events and 'worriting' myself into a state.
I think I finally dropped off to sleep some time after three until about 6.30, so I'll just about last the day. I whisked him off to Nursery this morning, through ghastly traffic. He does make it entertaining though, because he has started spotting numbers and letters on the way. He knows 'w' for William,'m' for Mumma and 'n' for Nana. He's learning to read!

Monday, November 5, 2007

"Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble."

Listening to the Beatles as I read my favourite blogs. I just love blogging - it's so sociable and I enjoy looking to see what comments I have received from the previous day. Someone has commented that they like my 'Mrs Dale's Diary' style - and I have to admit that I'm just about old enough to remember Mrs. Dale's Diary. That old chestnut, "I'm worried about Jim." is all I can remember, though. Now, of course, I'm an Archers fan - at least I listen to the Archers on a regular basis, and have followed them for years. My Dad was a fan too, and used to listen to the omnibus edition on a Sunday morning in the bath. We would hear the tap being turned on and off as he topped up the hot water, and he smoked either a cigar or his pipe as he listened. He usually had a glass of either brandy or whisky balancing on the edge of the bath too. He never emerged from the bathroom until the final music was heard. He'd be wrapped in a towel, Turkish style, with a soggy cigar clamped between his teeth. Then he was ready to start cooking Sunday Lunch, and if my Dad was cooking, it deserved the capital letters. One of his most memorable dishes was a combination of fillet steak and pheasant - truly glorious - served with mashed potatoes and a wonderful winey gravy, plus a good claret of course. I like to think that somewhere up there he's still enjoying the odd glass.

This morning on the Terry Wogan Show we had a virtual Firework display - just my cup of tea. And this evening, as I sit here, there are fireworks going off all around.
Luckily I don't have to step outside to see them. The bangs are muffled and I can see the sparkling showers of colour from where I'm sitting. It's just perfect.

Today we had the planned viewing at Son's flat, plus another one which came courtesy of the Agents later this afternoon. The friends of friends of Son were extremely nice, and I think they loved the flat. The fact that the buses have disappeared from outside is a real bonus, and it was a perfect sunny day too. Of course the flat was looking lovely (it is lovely) with fresh flowers and shining windows. The whole thing was marred only by the fact that Daughter and the Boyfriend were quite obviously mid-row when I arrived, and it just got worse. We ducked across the road to sit and have coffee in the sun at Frankinsteine, but it didn't help. In the end I went to do the viewing on my own, hoping that they would sort it out between them. On occasions like this, I say nothing. I have discovered that whatever you say you can't win. "A Mother's place..."

Sunday, November 4, 2007

It's a Good Job.

My young French Student left this morning, with a cheerful smile. She was going out to buy pillows, duvet, sheets and towels in town, for her new flatshare. She had seen some in a shop she couldn't pronounce, which I finally decoded as Woolworths. She just couldn't get her tongue around it, and we went through all the shops in town before we located it. I remembered that my first part-time job was as a 'Saturday Girl' in Romford Woolworths. The first day I worked there, I wore a pair of flat black ballet pumps that I had bought new for the occasion. That was my first mistake. It was a long hard day, on my feet all day, but thankfully my Dad came to collect me in the Morris Eight. My feet were so swollen that he and my Mum had to cut the shoes off when we got home, and then I sat with my poor feet in a bowl of warm water for a couple of hours while the swelling went down. And for that day's work I was paid the princely sum of nine shillings and six pence in old money. (That's just under fifty pence to you.) I don't remember much else about that job, but it taught me one very important lesson. Never, ever, wear new shoes on the first day of a new job.

Speaking of jobs, my Student and the Arrogant Frog apparently got on like a house on fire, and she is going to be working there full-time from next week. This time she will be fed on the days she works, and is being paid what she thinks is a reasonable wage, plus her tips. The only snag I could see is that all the staff, as well as the owner, are French! And she is here to learn English! Spot the deliberate mistake.

I went to the Birthday Party with Daughter and Grandson, just as a backstop really and in case she had to lift him up at any point. It was the usual bear-garden bun fight that I had almost forgotten about. None of the children were really old enough to play the games that Jamie's Dad had organised, but that didn't stop him. 'Pin the Horn on the Dinosaur' was very popular, though the children mostly just lifted up the blindfold when it was their turn, which rather missed the point of the exercise.
I had a glass of wine, some dolly mixtures, a jam sandwich and a piece of very sweet Birthday cake with green icing. No wonder I didn't really want my supper this evening..

Who wants to be a Millionaire?

Well, what d'you know, I've won another £10 on the Lottery today - that's £30 in about two weeks! The Boyfriend said, when Daughter told him, "Don't mess about with £10s, make it the Jackpot next time." I wish. But I did see that 2 people shared the Rollover Jackpot last night, winning 8.8 million each. Mindboggling isn't it?

Another bit of good news this morning is that the temporary bus stop outside Son's flat, which has been blighting our lives for the last 9 months, is moving from tomorrow. Hurray. Three Cheers. No more dicing with death when I pull up outside to drop them off or pick them up. No more people staring through our windows. And our buyer will be pleased too.

As it's another glorious day, I'm off down to the Paddling Pool park to meet Daughter and Co. It's just too lovely to stay indoors,and who knows when this patch of heavenly blue weather will disappear. Later this afternoon, I'm going with Daughter and Grandson to a Birthday Party for one of his little friends. He has had a very social week, what with Hallowe'en, the Slumber Party at Nursery and the Fireworks last night. I'm reliably informed that he will be wearing his Pumpkin costume today (round orange body, green stick legs, little gold head). I can't wait..

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Leave your worries on the doorstep.

Thank heaven, today has been much better. I had a phone call from Son this morning, and he has a friend of a friend who wants to look at his flat on Monday - who knows it could be good news. I also won £10 on Euromillions (£9.80 actually), which made me feel better, if not much richer. Then I had another conversation with our long-term buyer with the broken chain, which was at least positive. After all this I took myself out for a long walk in the sun. It has been the most glorious and warm day again. I walked down to the Meeting Place (everyone who lives here knows this beachside cafe - open every day including Christmas Day, when they give away mince pies to anyone who turns up) to meet up with Daughter, Grandson and the Boyfriend.
As I walked towards the Cafe, Grandson spotted me and raced towards me with arms outstretched shouting "Nana" at the very top of his voice. I was quite overcome, which I put down to my over-emotional state lately, and lifted him up for a huge and rather tearful cuddle.

We sat and had very companionable cups of coffee. Daughter is still not feeling at all well. The antibiotics are probably not helping, though they will be zapping the infection. At least we spent a lovely couple of hours in the sun, with Grandson zipping along on his scooter. And they have now gone off to a Fireworks display with friends this evening. I'm not keen on Fireworks, so I'm staying home with a glass of wine and my French Lady for company. When we lived in Cambridge, we would walk to Midsummer Common for the Fireworks and Bonfire, meeting up with friends and their families on the way. It was a very jolly annual event, which I expect is still continuing. There was always a fair and sideshows too, and the organisers sent people round with buckets to collect contributions. It was a great family evening, and my children loved it. We went every year, rain or shine, for fifteen years. Those were the days.

Quite coincidentally, my young French Student has gone to Cambridge today on a trip organised by her Language School. It was a day of blue skies and sunshine, so she will have seen Cambridge at its very best. I used to cycle past King's College and the Chapel every weekend, on my way to the Market, and every time the sheer beauty of the place took my breath away. Even after fifteen years it was still as wonderful as the first time I saw it. Then, I was holding hands with Jack, practically skipping with pure joy, and completely under the spell of the place and of him. That wonder never really went away - unlike Jack..

I have been singing this song in my head all day "The Sunny Side of the Street", and it has reminded me of my Mother. She loved popular music, and was mad about Ivor Novello and Mario Lanza. She had a lovely singing voice when she was young,and sang in her church choir. We all sang all the time at home, and even made up our own operas - or rather we would dramatize whatever we were doing and put it to music. Strange. Gold dust at my feet...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Cheer up!

It hasn't been a good day. I have spent most of it feeling tired and pretty sick about our general lack of progress in the Flat department. I spent a lot of yesterday trying to sort it out, but not getting very far really. Unaccountably, I feel guilty because I can't actually do anything about it - helpless and hopeless is where I'm at. I'm sure it has been worse today because I'm tired, but I'm teetering on the edge of misery a lot of the time. Son is being very stoical about it,and says that he'll cope whatever happens. I expect he will - he has the resilience of the young, but I do want to be able to make it right for both of them, Son and Daughter.

My young French Student has had an up and down week too, She found a job last week, in a French restaurant locally, but soon discovered that the owner was not quite what he seemed to be. He didn't pay her by the hour, but by the shift, and was rather cavalier about actually handing over any money. She had her tips - which were pretty good - but that was not the point. Anyway, she sussed him out and said she couldn't continue working for him while she was doing her language course. Next she went on to (eventually) find a flatshare, and now, this evening, she has gone off to another job - this time in the Arrogant Frog (a local French restaurant which is definitely named after its owner). She is due to leave me on Sunday and I do wish her well.

This evening my regular French Lady arrived for her three-day teaching stint. I made a risotto for dinner, with mushrooms, bacon and red wine for a change - actually it tasted very good. We had it with salad, and then some fresh pineapple with sour cream and pine nuts for dessert. Sadly, I could hardly bear to make conversation, which is not like me at all. If only I could feel a bit more cheerful. To compensate, I have eaten nearly all the chocolates Daughter bought me as a 'thank-you' for having Grandson. I'll be sorry in the morning...

Children in Need.

I forgot to mention yesterday that the Nursery 'Slumber Party' was in support of Children in Need this year. Luckily I was reminded when I dropped Grandson off this morning, added my name to the list and gave a donation. It's such a good idea, and the little darlings did look lovely. Even the Nursery Ladies were joining in: one of them had, very bravely, travelled to work on the train from Shoreham in her bright red pyjamas. And she is a large lady! I hope she was carrying a collecting tin, because she deserved everyone's support. It's a very good cause, and one dear to Terry Wogan's heart, so it gets my vote. The only other charity I regularly give to is the NSPCC, because I cannot bear children being badly treated or abused in any way. Just the thought of it makes me feel physically sick, especially when you consider that most of the ill treatment or abuse is perpetrated by parents or close family members. I have embarrassed my children many times by 'interfering' when I see a child being abused, hit or shouted at by its parents - what a world we live in!

I'm listening to a short play on Radio 4 as I type, with the lovely Bill Nighy. His voice is one of those treacly jobs that I can't resist. I also heard a bit of Under Milk Wood this morning, read by Richard Burton, on Desert Island Discs. This is one of the things on my Christmas list, along with a digital radio (I'm fed up with trying to tune in my old radio), the original "West Side Story" film score on cd, and a docking system for my Ipod. Not that I really want to think about Christmas just yet.

I'm yawning because of Grandson waking, as usual, at 5.45am. He bounced around a bit in the bed, ate a ginger biscuit, and then informed me that he wasn't tired any more and wanted to go downstairs. That's how come we were watching Pinocchio at 7am...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Absent without Leave.

Sorry, I've been absent without leave since Monday, and it was all my own fault. In a moment of inattention on Monday evening, I knocked my glass of wine over and most of it splashed around and into my keyboard. I mopped it up, cursing my stupidity and the loss of a perfectly good glass of wine, but sadly the wine got into the workings and the result was that I couldn't type some letters or numbers. I lost 'o', 'p' and most of the numbers, plus a few other random letters. You'd be amazed how many words require the letters o or p - just try it. And, of course, I couldn't log on to my Blog. I hope that is a satisfactory explanation. I did feel very guilty in case I had any faithful readers out there wondering what had happened to me. Mea culpa.

This afternoon my lovely Computer man (called Dan), came with a new keyboard for me to use while he tries to fix the old one. I do hope he can, because the beloved old one is black and silver and goes with my whole system. I musn't complain though because he is always so helpful and thoughtful. And he has had a shite year too - we were comparing notes and saying how much we look forward to better times.

An update on Daughter's situation: she is still not feeling very good, and is bleeding quite a lot. She also became aware of some changes yesterday, and had to go to her doctor for the antibiotics which had been prescribed by the Consultant in case of this very thing happening. She looks very tired and somehow older - bless her, she's only 25, but of couse it's experiences like this that make us grow up rather suddenly. We begin to be aware that we might not be immortal or invulnerable. It's rather sad for parents who are observing this, because we never stop wanting to protect our children, however old they are. Anyway, the Boyfriend has come up trumps. He has taken time off work and has been staying with her all week so that he can look after her. It has meant that she could relax and not have to lift and carry Grandson all the time. The little rascal is with me tonight, and is snoring away in my bed. Tomorrow morning I have to take him to Nursery where they are having a Slumber Party! I have bought him some new pyjamas from Primark, with little monkeys on them (most appropriate), and he has a new dressing gown and slippers to wear too. I should take a photo of him because he will look just adorable in that outfit, rather like one of the little old seven dwarfs..