Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Very Terry Wogan..

Well here I am again, turning up like a bad penny, as my Mother used to say! It's New Year's Eve and I've decided not to go out to yet another party. Frankly, I'd rather gaze at my log fire, and occasionally glance at the TV. The nearest party is downstairs (again) but I don't want to risk getting dressed up and falling down the stairs (again), so they will have to do without me. Apparently Terry Wogan is staying in tonight too, so I'm in good company. He and Lady Helen are looking after some of their grandchildren - sadly I'm not doing that though. Daughter, the Boyfriend and Grandson are staying at home in Dorking, because Daughter had her latest Colposcopy yesterday and is feeling pretty awful today. I went with her to the hospital (and Grandson came too). The procedure didn't take long, but it was pretty painful and she was white as a sheet when she came out, and couldn't stop shaking for quite a while. We were given cups of tea by the nurses, and then I took her back home to rest. She will probably feel like shite for a couple of weeks, and of course we have to wait for the results. I do hope it will all be OK.

Before I came home we had another panic when Grandson was in the bath - lots of red spots appeared on his upper body and Daughter decided we had better take him to the Doctor. So we did: him in his pyjamas, dressing gown and slippers, Daughter wrapped in a rug, and me trying not to have hysterics. In the end it wasn't too serious - we came back with cream for the spots and some special Calpol. He had a slight temperature, the spots of course, and the Doc. could hear a slight wheeze on his chest. If he is sickening for something, it should appear in the next couple of days. And then of course he has his Grommits operation next Monday! Anything else? I drove home at about 7pm, feeling shattered, and could hardly get out of bed this morning. No surprise there!

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and I'm sorry that I wasn't around to join in all the Christmas Blogging. We did have a lovely time: Son, Daughter, the Boyfriend and Grandson were all staying here. We all enjoyed our presents, food and bubbly, and went for a walk by the sea in glorious sunshine on Boxing Day. I had my fireplaces sorted the week before, so we had lovely log fires to sit by and it was very cosy indeed.

At the end of his very first term at Big School, Grandson appeared in his first Nativity Play as the King who brings Gold! He looked wonderful in his costume and crown, and said his words perfectly: "I have got Gold." And then he turned to the audience and gave a triumphant thumbs up! It was a delight to behold, and we felt very proud. Come to think of it, that was one of the best moments of our Christmas.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The End.

The best laid schemes and all that.. I couldn't have guessed how it would all end, but it was both surprising and, I suppose, inevitable. I should have known that I wasn't going to get out of that 10 week stint without some damage - and that's what happened. Are you sitting comfortably?

On Thursday morning I went into the en-suite bathroom that the Wee Git was using (as a favour and a privilege, since it is attached to the double bedroom and he was in the single bedroom) and noticed at once that a large crack had appeared on the base of the toilet. I examined it closely, and saw that the crack had come from an impact point just above it (where the outside of the toilet bowl curves out) and had spread down to the floor. Quite some damage, and probably unfixable, though it hasn't yet affected the toilet bowl, and isn't leaking. I wasn't best pleased, because that bathroom is (was) perfect, and immediately went downstairs and 'phoned the Language School to speak to the woman in charge of Host Families. I told her what I had found, and that I wasn't at all happy. She suggested that I should talk to the Wee Git about it when he came in. I went back upstairs and looked around for the piece of porcelain which had been chipped off - no sign - so I eventually emptied the small waste bin onto the carpet and there, nestling at the bottom, was the missing chip. It fitted perfectly. I now had a piece of evidence to the effect that whoever had done the damage had obviously decided to hide the evidence! I replaced all the rest of the rubbish in the bin and (luckily) kept the white chip in a safe place. I 'phoned back to the School and gave them the latest info. I had already called my plumber, only to be told that to supply and fix a new toilet (and remove the old one) would probably cost about £300. I was bloody furious by this time, and decided to go out and clear my head a bit.

When I came home, the Wee Git was already back from School, I asked him if he knew anything about the broken toilet. I was calm and perfectly polite. He denied all knowledge, and first of all said that it had been done when he arrived. Absolutely not. I knew this because I always clean the bathrooms to within an inch of their lives when I have guests or students. Then he said "Perhaps your Daughter?". That was as far as he got. Next " Perhaps your Friend?" I was livid that he should immediately seek to blame someone else. I told him that I was absolutely sure that it hadn't been cracked before HIS Friend stayed for one night a couple of weeks ago. He still denied all knowledge. Next I went to show him the contents of the bin - only to find, to my astonishment that he had emptied it!! This was the first time in 9 weeks that he had done any such thing! I asked him why he had done it and he blustered that surely I wanted him to empty it since he was going next week (?). I then showed him the perfectly-fitting chip which I had happily saved. He looked pale, but still denied all knowledge. I refused to speak to him for the rest of the evening, and over breakfast next day, told him that the woman from the School was coming to examine the damage. I could go on indefinitely, but suffice it to say that for two days he denied what was perfectly obvious, until I had had enough. And the opinion from the School was that he had pretty obviously done it, or knew how it had been done, and just wasn't telling. He kept on changing his story, and yet insisted that he was telling the truth. I won't bore you with all the details and the conversations, but in the end, yesterday, I'd had enough, and told him to go. He cried. And then, finally, offered to pay for the damage. I told the loathsome little creep that it was too late for that. He couldn't believe that I was actually throwing him out. He went off to spend the weekend in a Student House. This Student House is crowded, grubby, and he will have to cook for himself. He will also have to share a bathroom. He will hate it and, who knows, it may teach him something. Goodbye and good riddance. It will cost me probably £300 to fix the bathroom, and I'll lose this week's rent. I don't care - some things are more important than money. The End.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Crutchless Knickers Anyone?

Oh how naughty, but don't blame me, it's all down to my friend MOB and her suggestion for getting my own back on The Wee Git. I think it's a great idea, but it has just occurred to me that I'll have to go out and buy some if I want to stuff them in his unsuspecting suitcase! Now this would be fine for some of my younger Blogging friends, whose intentions might be said to be thoroughly naughty, but I'm a Grandmother.. What do I say? "Oh, I'm just buying them for my Daughter." Or do I just stuff them in my bag and try to get out of the shop without getting caught? (This brings vivid images of Grandma Giles, if any of you can remember that cartoon, she would definitely have been up for it.) I know there are some saucy ads in even the Hove local paper for "older ladies" who are prepared to offer a "good time", but come on, that's not me. (Sorry, Billy, not even for you :-)

So now I need more suggestions. How on earth do I get hold of the crutchless knickers without getting into a really embarrassing situation? In fact, where do I find them? It's rather a long time since I was out there, if you know what I mean, and I'm not telling you how long it is since I last had sex. This is turning into a rather more complicated exercise than I had imagined. That Wee Git has a lot to answer for...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Parting Shot...

I've had a strange week. I don't seem to have done much, so haven't had anything to write about really. I'm being slowly but surely brought down by the continuing presence of The Wee Git. He never goes out, he doesn't have any friends, he just chips away at me all the time, and sometimes it's hard to laugh about it. I'll just give you one example. About a month ago he started asking me if I would wash his scarf at the weekend. I said "No. I do one load of washing for you once a week (that's the deal) but not at weekends." He kept on at me so I agreed, eventually, and he brought down not just a scarf, but a whole bag full of washing. I emptied out this bag to see what was in it and, guess what, no scarf! I called up the stairs: "Arif, I thought you wanted me to wash your scarf - it's not in the bag ." He stood there and said "No, I have changed my mind." What did I answer? "Funnily enough, so have I." OK, it's funny, and he isn't getting his own way all the time, but I have to say it's getting me down, and he doesn't give up - he has asked me the same question every weekend since.

Anyway, he'll be gone in two weeks, and I have to think of a parting comment when he does go. Perhaps we could have a little competition? Please help me to think up something really good to say when he's leaving. So far, my best thought is "I wish I could say it's been a pleasure having you here." I'm sure you'll have some much better suggestions. Bear in mind that his English isn't very good, and hasn't really improved, because of his steadfast refusal to either take a job or go out and talk to any real English people (we're lower-class and all that). Help me, please. I feel that after my 10 weeks of endurance, I need to have the last word.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Day in the Life...

As I walked up the hill towards Hove Station yesterday, I had no idea what was in store for me. I was planning a quick trip to East Croydon and then on to West Croydon, to find Lidl and collect some items that were waiting for me. This trip would normally mean a half hour or so on the train and some pleasant shopping, before returning home in time for tea. Huh!

12.15. It all looked fine. The train arrived on time and I climbed aboard. Five minutes later, when the train hadn't moved, we passengers began to wonder why. There came an announcement to the effect that the train could not proceed to London and would have to go back to Littlehampton (where it came from in the first place) and then approach London on a different line, through the Arun Valley. There didn't seem to be any choice, so we sat as the train trundled towards Littlehampton. This took about half an hour, and then it sat. And sat. Then we had another announcement. "There has been a fatality on the line in the Burgess Hill area. All services will now be diverted and delayed." Shock. Relief. At least we knew what was happening. I spotted a woman who was obviously deaf, and was desperately trying to find out what was happening. (The announcements were no use to her, and the destinations on the in-train display hadn't changed.) I gathered that she was going to Gatwick, so assured her that we were all in the same boat (or train), and hoped to get there, or thereabouts, shortly. Next we had to change trains, and trundled back, past Arundel, on the other line. All this had taken about two hours so far. Our next stop was Three Bridges (unscheduled of course), where we were told that the train would now go direct to Victoria without stopping. This meant hopping off and making for the opposite side of the platform for another train which would take me to East Croydon. As I stood there, I looked back and saw that the deaf woman was still sitting, all unaware, in the previous train. I nipped back across the platform and knocked on the train window, mouthing "You Gatwick" and motioning her to get to the door. Sadly, as soon as she moved, so did the train. I didn't have a chance to get the door open, and had to watch her being carried away on the fast train to Victoria! Back on my train, which stopped at every stop, we finally reached East Croydon, where I had to catch a tram to West Croydon. Daughter had told me it was easy, but she hadn't told me what to expect in Croydon. It's HUGE, and very confusing. It's also like being in an African country - not sure which one - because there were very few white, or even white-ish faces. After I jumped on the wrong tram twice, and jumped off again, I was pointed in the right direction and managed to find West Croydon. It was now 3.15 pm and I had been travelling for three hours. It was also freezing cold and trying to snow.

At West Croydon Station, I walked into what I first thought was a Police/Terrorist scenario. There were at least six Policemen wearing what I assumed to be "Flak Jackets" ( bright yellow and padded), and they seemed to be armed! There was also what looked like a portable detector (the kind you have to go through in Airports) with flashing lights and obviously at the ready for any incident! It was rather like a weird and very different Christmas display!

I had been expecting the Lidl store to be opposite the station, but it clearly wasn't. So I approached one of the Policemen (my Mum always told me to ask a Policeman) and asked him if he knew where Lidl was. He looked rather surprised, but was very pleasant and called another young Policeman over. Between them they pointed me in the right direction - another half mile walk against a freezing wind - and there it was. The Holy Grail. Lidl. And the Ski Watches which I had been told would be waiting for me. The Manager of Lidl was lovely - very polite and kind. In fact everyone I encountered was just the same. But I did have the feeling that I was in a foreign land - not an unpleasant foreign land by any means, but nevertheless, very foreign.

I scuttled back up the freezing street with my booty, waving my Lidl bag at the two Policemen as I passed. (Which could have been a really wrong move, come to think of it.) And headed for the sanctuary of Marks and Spencer, which I had spotted on the way down. Oh Bliss. A cup of tea and a turkey sandwich before the trek back home. I phoned my Aristocratic BF from M & S (since I had embarked on this Odyssey mainly for her benefit) and giggled hysterically as I told her what had happened. Then I embarked on the return journey. I was pointed in several wrong directions, but finally found a bus going the right way, and then a train at East Croydon. On the way back the train stopped at every station again (I guess they were still trying to catch up on the day's disasters and delays). And the quickest part of my journey was the one-stop train from Brighton to Hove. Home at 7pm - just in time to cook supper for The Wee Git, Oh Joy - and after 7 hours of travelling (if you can call it that).

Actually, I'm not complaining - at least I was sitting warm and safe on a train for most of the time. And I lived to tell the tale, which sadly was not the case for one unfortunate person that day. I do wonder what happened to my deaf lady (not that she was mine, but you know what I mean), and hope she finally got to Gatwick in one piece, if rather late. It's a complete mystery, but perhaps we were all meant to be sitting on that train for three hours, in a kind of limbo! Who knows what might have befallen us otherwise?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Three for the Water Pistol.

My lovely Grandson has been to the WaterPistol again - Hospital to you and me. Actually he can say Hospital now, but WaterPistol makes it sound much more fun. The reason he's been is to have those gorgeous little ears checked - and his Teacher was right, he has a lot of fluid tucked away in there which is damaging his hearing. The Consultant thinks he should have gromits - and though Daughter was dreading hearing that, I think she knows it will help him. As I've mentioned before, she had three lots of gromits between the ages of 6 and 18, and in the end her hearing was (and is) fine. So let's hope it will do the trick for Grandson. I can't bear the thought that he will have to have an anaesthetic, but there's no alternative.

No. 2 for the WaterPistol was Daughter, who had to go last Tuesday to have another biopsy procedure for more pre-cancerous cells. These showed up in her Smear Test a year ago, for which she had a Colposcopy, and have now reappeared. I'm worried about this, of course, but she is taking it in her stride. And at least they are on to it quickly (within two weeks of her test). They have taken samples from three areas apparently, and she will have the results in about two weeks. In the meantime it's the same routine: no lifting, no sex and no-one smoking around her, and she has to rest. I had Grandson here for the weekend so that she could take it easy, and she did look better when she came to collect him yesterday. Of course she is working more or less full time now, so resting isn't quite as easy as it was last year. She does finish work early on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, so I'm hoping that will be enough.

No 3 is my Sister, who is having investigations into some white stuff which has appeared under her skin near the joints of her fingers. Strange, but these white "strings" (they may be called nodules) sort of move under the surface - not while you're looking apparently- and aren't painful all the time, but can be when they are very close to the joints. They could be precursors to rheumatism or arthritis, She is waiting for the results of blood tests too. All in all, that's plenty to be going on with, I feel.

On a more cheerful note, Christmas is coming! It looks as if we will have all the usual suspects here again this year - Son and maybe a few of his friends, plus Daughter, Grandson and the Boyfriend. Plus anyone else who fancies turning up - I like to have lots of people around to help eat all the food and drink all the drink. I haven't started Christmas Shopping yet - that joy is yet to come, but I did go into John Lewis in Oxford Street last week (I went up to have lunch with Son and tea with Sister) and their Christmas stuff does look very tempting.I expect I'll go back again when I've written my Christmas List.

Like India Knight, who writes in the Sunday Times, I've been avoiding the news and the papers for a week now because I can't bear to hear or read about poor little Baby P. I feel I should be apologizing for all humanity that tragedies like these should happen at all. That little innocent didn't have a life, or any love, in his all-too-brief existence. Nor did he have a chance in this procedure-ridden society. Why someone didn't just walk into that house and remove him, I simply can't understand. Those who killed that little boy will surely go to Hell - if there is such a place. I'm not religious at all, but in this instance I sincerely hope that there is a Hell. Perhaps the most frightening statistic that came out of this was that, on average, two children are killed every week by their parents, family or step-parents. This is too horrible for me to contemplate. WHY? HOW? Is there no way we can protect these children? Save the Children? the NSPCC?
Children in Need? It's obviously not about money - just look at the amazing amount raised last week by Terry Wogan and the Children in Need Appeal. But WHY can't it prevent this terrible, terrible situation? I don't have the answers. But I carry the guilt - as we all must to some degree. Surely there must be something we can do to save our children?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Meme is late..

Sorry Suzysoo, it has taken me ages to do this, and I'm not sure it will be any good anyway:

7 Things I plan to do before I die:
Go to Vancouver - I once read a book about it and have wanted to go ever since.
See my Children happy and settled.
Get something published.
Visit my old friend in Sydney - though I'm not keen on 24hr flights.
Live in a house with a verandah.
See the Egyptian Pyramids and the Valley of the Kings.
Win the Lottery (shallow I know, but I could make so many people happy).

7 things I do now:
Eat too much, worry too much, count the pennies, cook every day, walk by the sea, sit up late Blogging, talk for hours on the phone.

7 things I can't do:
Ignore a crying child.
Drink whisky (because my Father was an alcoholic).
Eat jellied eels (ugh).
Run like I used to.
Stay up all night dancing (as I used to).
Drink coffee after lunch (it keeps me awake all night).

7 things that attract me to the oppposite sex: Well, if I can remember,

Nice hands, intelligence and wit, a love of music, generosity, a nice smile, a good body (of course) and a sense of style.

7 things I say most often:

"Bugger", "Oops, sorry", "Lots of love, Darling", "What do I know", "How's my precious boy?", "I'd love to" and " Night, Night, Sleep Tight"

7 Celebrities I admire: this is hard because I'm not much into celebrities.
Bette Midler (wonderful voice and sense of humour),
Twiggy (she's a survivor),
Biba (the original fashion queen of my youth),
Steve McQueen (he was so gorgeous),
The Beatles (my all-time favourite band),
David Beckham (great footballer, and I love football)
Katharine Hepburn (style incorporated).

7 favourite foods:
Fish and Chips,
Rabbit cooked with prunes,
Roasted Parsnip soup with Garlic Bread,
Toffee Ice Cream,
Good Olives,
Almond Croissants,
Sauteed Potatoes.

7 Bloggers who need to do this Meme: this is hard too, because lots of you have done it already, but here goes.. Dem Bones, Dem Bones: Dusty Spider: Family Affairs (though she may have done it): Made in Heaven (sorry Donna): Retired and Crazy: The Dotterel: Tea and Cake..

Of course, anyone who wants to do this one is welcome to take it on - come on you lot, we all want to know more about you. And if you don't want to do it, that's fine too. This is a Democracy.

Monday, November 10, 2008

We Shall Remember Them

Yesterday morning I went to the local Brighton Remembrance Parade and Service, which is held down at the Old Steine, by the War Memorial (incidentally, oppposite Son's old flat, the scene of our struggles last year). I was reminded that this time last year Daughter and Grandson stood on the balcony and watched the parade in the sunshine. This year the weather wasn't so good, but at least it didn't rain. When the gun fired at 11 o'clock, everyone fell silent, and there was no sound of traffic. Only the seagulls didn't observe the silence. They flew up and circled around, their strange, sad cries oddly appropriate. During the silence there was a fierce gust of wind which appeared from nowhere and made us all shiver. I was moved to tears, as always, particularly when I saw all the young cadets in their uniforms with their shining faces and polished boots, and thought of all those wonderful young men who went (straight from school some of them) to the dreadful trenches, never to return. Some of them had no boots at all, and walked with bloody feet, many of them blinded with that hideous mustard gas, to field hospitals that had no hope of coping with the numbers of casualties. And as for those poor Mothers - yesterday or today, to lose your children in a War is the most terrible thing.

Why do we still have Wars? It's the eternal question. I don't have an answer, and I don't believe that any answer is really good enough. Perhaps there will come a day when the world has had enough of killing. Perhaps..

Friday, November 7, 2008

Laughter and Tears..

I know you have been waiting with bated breath, as they say, to hear what occurred at our dinner last Sunday. Gay Friend arrived looking smart as ever, and the roast dinner was timed perfectly. I called Mr Picky down and introduced him to GF. Mr.P had shaved (increasingly rare) and looked very clean. He seemed pleased to meet GF, but as he doesn't understand half one says, it's difficult to know for sure. I introduced GF as someone who "buys and sells old clothes". Now this was naughty I know, but I couldn't bloody resist it. And you should have seen The Wee Git's face (I have decided to re-christen him The Wee Git after a suggestion by my dear friend MOB). He looked confused, and then realized that I was serious. And Gay Friend insisted on engaging him in a conversation about the local Charity Shops and what good work they do for the Community. The Wee Git's face was a picture, but he obviously didn't dare to repeat his previous opinions about "lower class people" (GF is quite tall and imposing - and of course he's a bloke!), and retired 'hurt' soon after our meal. It was a great way to let off steam for me, and we laughed ourselves silly afterwards. For those of you who haven't heard GF's laugh, I'll try to describe it - a witch's cackle combined with a Steamboat hooter would come pretty close - but even then it's not quite right. And it is embarrassingly loud. So, a good time was had by (almost) all - and don't attempt to make me feel guilty you lot - you know I'm a softie when it comes to emotional appeals, but this Wee Git has been driving me mad for five weeks now! And I've got five more to go..

I somehow managed to get myself into an emotional two-and-eight today because I was looking at some old family photographs. When Daughter was living here with Grandson, a few years ago, she decided to put all my old photos into albums, and the result was wonderful. Instead of putting them in chronological order, she stuck them in, in a random order which makes them far more interesting and poignant somehow. So we have photos of my childrens' Birthdays next to pics of Grandson at six months, and then photos of my two as Teenagers or on family holidays. I came to a picture of Son, a friend of Daughter's, and Me, which was taken at Christmas in Cambridge about 7 years ago. I had forgotten this picture, but not the time. Son, who was in his final year at Uni, had been going through a particularly awful patch, with the break-up of his relationship with KT, Hon grandaughter's Mum. He was very depressed, she had treated him very badly (to say the least), and I was really fearful for him. Looking at this photo, in which he looks terrible - almost haunted - and I'm trying to smile and be cheerful, made me feel heartsick. I know we got through it and have come out the other side stronger and probably better, but oh, it was painful torture. Love hurts, that's for sure, and just looking at that photo brought such a surge of protective love for Son, combined with the pain I remember when I couldn't seem to make things right for him. I could have done without that memory today, but perhaps I needed it for some reason.

Ah well, time for bed. Sweet dreams to you all.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Not in my Country.

How can I bear another 6 weeks of this? Rhetorical question I know, and I'll do it for the money, which has already been accounted for. But it's not getting any easier. As you may know, little Mr Picky has been looking for a job ever since he has been here. He hasn't yet found one - at least not one that pays. (And it may be uncharitable, but I wouldn't give him a job either.) Anyway, after applying to about 30 different hotels, bars and restaurants, he decided that he would go for the Charity Shops, of which we have many in Hove (and Brighton). He knew that this would mean not being paid, but decided that his need for English conversation was greater than his need for money. Needless to say, he wasn't doing it for altruistic reasons. (Don't forget, there are no poor people in Cyprus!) The nice lady Manager at Barnardo's gave him a job last week, and he spent 40 minutes there on Friday (came away sneezing because of the "dirt and dust" ) and about an hour there yesterday, before giving up completely. When I asked him why, he replied - and this is verbatim - "I think, Margot, that these are lower-class people." My jaw dropped. I asked him to repeat what he had said, and he did, without a trace of shame. He then said "In my Country, we do not do this. People do not buy old clothes." Oh my God - I nearly reached across the table and slapped him. I didn't, but smartly replied " Well in this country we do - and it doesn't make us lower class." He had to amuse himself for the rest of supper, because I could hardly trust myself to speak to him. How can this young man be so positive that he is better than everyone else? As Daughter says, he dresses like a 50 year old, in ghastly jumpers that Oxfam would be hard-pressed to sell. He has no social graces, and not much in the way of manners. He's so full of himself that obviously no-one else exists - especially not "poor or lower-class" people. If this is the way of the world today, I don't want any part of it. Thankfully, I don't believe that most young people feel this way - especially not in this country. But I'm forgetting, he's not that young is he?

On a sunnier note, I forgot to tell you that last Monday evening I went with a BBF to see and hear Candace Bushnell talking about her new novel "One Fifth Avenue". The evening was hosted by City Books, and it was great fun. Candace Bushnell (of "Sex and the City" fame) is 49 and looks about 30 - she is very thin and groomed, as one would expect of a celebrity New Yorker in her income bracket. She was dressed in (probably) an Armani little black dress, with impossibly high heels and carried a gorgeous Designer leopard bag to die for. We were both completely bowled over by her - she talked about her life, her writing and her characters, and kept the audience spellbound for nearly an hour. Lots of people asked questions, and she then sat and signed copies of her book for anyone who had bought one. I couldn't keep my eyes off that handbag - as BBF said, it probably cost around £800 at the very least. And her face (again BBF noticed that her forehead didn't move, but who cares?). And her giant diamond hoop earrings. And her perfect swooping fall of blonde hair. Not bad for a very bright and talented broad who's going on 50.

PS. I have invited Gay Friend for supper tonight. I may not have mentioned it, but he collects Vintage and Antique clothes, and has a huge collection, mostly in store, which he hires or loans out. He obviously visits all the local Charity and Vintage Shops on a weekly basis, and knows all the Managers personally. I am looking forward to this - sparks will fly I hope. Keep you posted.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Crumpets at Five O'Clock...

Actually I've spent this week feeling very lucky. I went to the Doctor on Tuesday to get my black and blue foot checked, and he sent me to the Hove PolyClinic (very smart) for an x-ray in case I had broken any of those annoying little foot-bones. Nope. All intact, and the woman who did the x-ray said "I think you've got away with it." Just so - and what a bit of luck.

Half Term week for Grandson, and he went to a Football Course run by Chelsea (we'll overlook the fact that it wasn't run by the Spurs) at Daughter's local Sports Centre in Dorking. This was for children in Reception and Year 1 (4 and 5 year olds) and they did some training and then played 5-a-Side games. Grandson was apparently a star, scoring three goals on Monday and 4 on Tuesday. He came away with a medal and a certificate, and had a great time. Brilliant.

On Wednesday I went to collect him because Daughter was working an extra day. I was glad I did the journey, because the roads had been very icy early on, and when I got close to Dorking there was thick snow everywhere. Rather me than her, because I think it can be tricky to cope with icy roads when you are an inexperienced driver. Anyway, we had a good journey back, stopping for a muddy walk at the Windmills, and just chilled out for the next couple of days. We walked by the sea in a freezing wind yesterday, and gathered shells, seaweed and driftwood for his Half Term Nature Table. Good fun, but it was even better to snuggle up indoors in the warm.

Talking of chilling, this evening Mr Picky came downstairs for supper in his usual tracksuit, and told me that it was very cold in his room. I was surprised, because he is in my lovely, cosy single bedroom, which is actually the warmest room in the house (if you don't count the toilet). When I enquired further, he told me that his radiator was cold, and had never been hot! Never. I raced upstairs to check it, and, sure enough, it was stone cold! How I don't know, because I never turn any of the radiators off - perhaps someone else had done it? Anyway, I fiddled with the valves and turned up the thermostat, and sure enough it came on. I came back down and assured him that it was now hot - but I did wonder why he hadn't mentioned it in four weeks! It's a mystery.
I felt very sheepish, and said how sorry I was - let's hope he will now be snug as a bug in a rug.

Grandson and Daughter pootled off home this afternoon, with their pumpkins and their costumes for Hallowe'en. So at 5 o'clock I settled down in front of a rubbish film on TV, with a pot of tea and a toasted crumpet, and I thought to myself "It doesn't get much better than this." I had some sweeties at the ready in case I was asked to "Trick or Treat", but no. All was quiet.
No ghouls or ghosties here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Did you enjoy your Trip?

Oops. What did I do last night? Fell down the stairs... Well, I was on my way out to a Birthday Party for my neighbour's Fortieth, downstairs. I had taken the time to dress up (the invitation had specified " Sirens and Matinee Idols"). And though I wasn't dressed as a Siren, I had put on a long dress, a pretty frilled devoree jacket and some Chanel No.5. Plus, sad to say, a pair of high-heeled red velvet slippers. These were my downfall. I was carrying carefully wrapped Birthday Presies, a bottle of champagne and my keys, and then tried to lift up my dress to navigate the stairs. Too much stuff and not enough hands! I caught the shoes in the hem of my dress and the result was a sharp fall, a thump and a scream (from me) and a shout from Daughter who was (luckily) here watching the X Factor, and who ran to my aid. I sat awkwardly on the landing, pouring blood from my mouth and feeling very shaky indeed. It turned out I had put a tooth through my lip and twisted my foot - plus given myself a sizeable lump on the back of the head. Half an hour later, when the bleeding had stopped and I had stopped shaking, I did go down to the Party and enjoyed a glass or two of pink champagne, a few tasty bits of party food, and some good conversation. Today the foot is very swollen and I have a pouty lip, but there's really nothing much to show for my trip. How lucky. Daughter said last night that I'm "hard-core". Which translates as "I'm a tough old bird". She also said "You never cry, Mum." I thought about this and came to the conclusion that, over the years, it wouldn't have been much good to dissolve into tears when bad stuff happened. I was a single parent, so whatever it was, I had to deal with it on my own. Tough, but true. And at least I've also got strong bones -now that is lucky.

Before that mishap, the weekend had been pretty-well perfect. It started early, on Thursday afternoon, when I collected Grandson and brought him back here because he had no school on Friday (and Daughter was working again). We had a very lazy morning on Friday, and then went for a very muddy walk up to the Windmills. On Friday evening I had two parties to go to; the first was at the Foreign Language School which supplies most of my Students. They were having an official opening Party for their new building, which was very smart. There was delicious party food and pink bubbly and I chatted to a few interesting people. Then I whisked off to a Private View down at the beach, where there was more bubbly and some very tempting prints - sadly too expensive for me at the moment. As Daughter was staying here (she came down after work) I didn't have to worry about feeding my Student, and she sat with Hon Grandaughter and Grandson while I enjoyed myself. When I came back, she went off to meet some Brighton friends for the evening, so it all worked out perfectly.

On Saturday morning, after feeding my student, we all tootled off to feed the Donkeys and then had a spot of lunch before delivering Hon Grandaughter back to her Mum for a bit of shopping. Thankfully, as I said, Daughter was feeling so relaxed that she decided to stay another night with Grandson. If she hadn't been here, I might well have cried!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Big School in Words and Pictures.

More photos! There's no stopping me now that I know how to do it! Below is a selection of pics from Grandson's first day at School - the first one before they left for School and the last one as he was coming out at the end of the day (I love the way the Teacher is shepherding him along.)

My lovely boy leaving for Big School.
With his "partner in crime", Thomas.

Keeping the crowd amused.

Looking after his Book Bag.

The end of his first day, in the rain.
I must tell you about Grandson's first Parents' Evening at his Big School. It was last Thursday, and Daughter had a good chat with his Teacher. She (the teacher) has discovered that Grandson's ears aren't too good - he is having difficulty hearing properly and making sense of things. She said that at first she wondered if he was "trying it on", but quickly realized that it was genuine. She recommended getting his ears tested ASAP, which Daughter has already arranged. I had a look at those lovely little ears at the weekend, and they are full of wax- which probably doesn't help.

We have had lots of ear problems in the past as Daughter's ears were a constant cause for concern when she was little. She kept getting ear infections, and ended up with a bad case of "glue ear". When she was 5 I discovered that she was almost deaf. One day she was walking away with her back to me, and when I called her she didn't respond. So I called her again, and again, louder and louder. In the end I was practically shouting, and still she didn't turn round. I panicked and rushed her to the Doctor, who said that she had simply coped with her increasing deafness by learning to lip-read - and without me realizing! He also said that it's quite a common response; children just get on with it and find a way round their problems. You can imagine how terrible I felt - she hadn't said a word to me, poor little scrap.
She had her first set of gromits when she was only 6, (what a nightmare it is to see your child being taken away for an operation!) and another two sets after that, the last being just before she went off to Uni. At one point, when she was about 10, the Specialist said that he thought she would be completely deaf before long - but in the end she did make a pretty miraculous recovery. And now her ears are fine. I do wonder if these things can be hereditary.

Anyway, to return to the Parents' Evening, Grandson's Teacher said that despite his ear problems, and the fact that he is one of the youngest in the class, he has the most stars! He tries so hard at everything, and loves answering questions. And he makes her laugh every day.
I think that's just about the best School Report anyone could ever have. Of course, I may be slightly biased.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Displacement Activity.

I'm not having much luck with printing out my poems this evening. For some reason the bloody printer is just sitting here quietly humming away to itself and refusing to work!!! (That's after it got the first lot wrong and started printing out my entire file.) I expect I've pressed the wrong button somewhere. Oh Dan, Dan, where art thou? (I'll have to phone him in the morning.) It's too frustrating, so I've decided to try and add some more of my photos:

There you are - Grandson helping me in the garden, my little pond (home to Mrs Frog and the Tadpoles), another view of the garden with seat and semi-naked Greek lady statue, and a sparkly sea picture, with a white-sailed yacht taking centre stage. This is where I walk most days. "Perfick", as Pop Larkin would say.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pictures at last - Peace and Love, Peace and Love :-)

Daughter was here to collect Grandson this morning and I persuaded her to check out the photos I tried to put on before. It seems the files were too large. I'm hoping that this will work now...

Well, it has sort of worked - above you have Hove beach huts, with and without people, on a gloriously sunny day only two weeks ago. I thought it would be a lot quicker though. It has taken me absolutely ages to put these two on. And I was hoping to add lots more: I have photos of Grandson's first day at school, and of the Windmills, and of my garden. Maybe I'm not doing it properly, but I'll try and sort some more out tomorrow.
Ringo Starr gave me a great chance to chat to Mr Picky last week about that type of humour so beloved of the British, the ironic statement. Dear old Ringo - he really is hopeless, and the "Peace and Love, Peace and Love" bit was killing. (Terry Wogan enjoyed the joke too.)I tried to explain that irony is when you say one thing and mean something quite different, and gave him a few examples - one of them being Ringo's unintentionally (I think) ironic statement, i.e. for
"Peace and Love" read "get off my back and out of my life; you people are really annoying me." Mr Picky looked most confused, so no great success there. However, I have succeeded in teaching him how to hoover his room, (he calls it "hover"), and have also shown him how to wash up a cup and saucer. He has apparently never done either of these things before, and he has never, ever cooked anything. He keeps repeating that he is 25, but methinks he doth protest too much. I would guess him at 30 minimum. It's the greasy hair and the receding hairline that do it. And his repeated insistence that he is very clean. I have yet to meet a 25 year old Student who is so preoccupied with being as neat and clean. Or who needs quite so many towels.
The trip to Ikea on Monday was great. I bought the most wonderful white sheepskin rug to put my toes in when I get out of bed. And a sort of chandelier thingy to try on one of my ceiling lights. I'm trying to think what else I bought, but my brain has blanked - anyway I managed to spend £65. Oh yes, some gorgeous pretend paeonies in a stunning deep pink (silk I think, but just lovely in my new bedroom), a new Wok (well 2 actually, one for me and one for Daughter), and a set of bedlinen for Grandson with, guess what, windmills printed on in red and blue. I also spotted the bookshelves I want for my bedroom, but they will have to be ordered and delivered. Not by Ikea though - they want to charge £75 to deliver to sunny Hove! Luckily I've used a local "I Go to Ikea" service before, and it was excellent. They will only charge me £28 to collect and deliver the flat-pack. And then I can put them together myself.
" Oh No" I hear you say, "not the dreaded flat-pack. We've been here before". True, but now I know how easy it is....
The rest of the week was a bit of a blur, but I have sorted through my writing and have found some Poetry Competitions online. I'm intending to enter a couple of these this month (deadlines on 31st October) and then next month will go for another Short Story. What a busy, busy bee..
PS. Gay Friend called round yesterday morning, while Mr. Picky was "hovering", and I really wanted to introduce them. Sadly, they managed to miss each other. Mr Picky nipped out while we were having a coffee and a chat with Grandson. The best laid schemes - anyway, I've decided to ask GF to supper one evening, just to see what happens. Watch this space.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Catching Up...

I think I'm going to strangle Mr. Picky. He manages to wind me up every meal time with just the tiniest comment - and a smile... Yesterday, when I had had a lovely day and was all smiles, he greeted me at suppertime with the words "You look tired Margott". (He pronounces my name with a strong T, when as we all know, "the T is silent as in Harlow") This, of course, is a euphemism for "You look bloody awful Margott". Thanks, Mr Picky. And this morning it was no paper napkin - everything else was on the table. Oh f*****g domage! Thankfully, I'm going out for the day today, to Ikea, so I can forget all about him for a bit.

I seem to have become a weekly Blogger instead of a daily one. It's not intentional, but when I sit down at the computer, I feel so guilty about not having kept up with all my Blogging Friends that I spend all the available time reading and commenting. I'll just have to find a couple of extra hours to add on to the regular 24.

Last week was so busy too. After my two days of Grandson collecting on Monday and Tuesday, I had lots to catch up on at home, but boring things like paying bills and listening to the ever-gloomy news on the radio. As Terry Wogan (my Oracle) said "Why don't they just stop talking about it." I agree, this whole financial panic is self-perpetuating. The more we all rush headlong towards the cliffs, the more lemmings will follow. I for one am counting my blessings (yawn) and keeping my head down. Oh, and shopping at Lidl, where I saved a fortune on Friday!

Thursday I went to London, again, and was planning to drop in to Son's office to collect the Birthday scarf he didn't like ("I don 't think I'll ever wear it, Mum."), return it to John Lewis, and then have a bit of lunch with Sister who has been having a very worrying time lately. Just as I was walking from Oxford Circus to Berwick Street I had a text message from Sister to say that she couldn't make lunch as she had to take her Son to Hospital. Such a shame, but perfectly understandable. So I popped into Son's office, picked up the offending scarf plus a present for me, from one of his girl friends, (which also turned out to be a scarf), and then went in search of a cup of coffee. Even seeing Son for five minutes was fine - especially since he looked very well, very busy and pretty happy. That's alright then. I then spent the whole day walking round shops, looking at clothes, chandeliers etc. (I fancy some new chandeliers for Chateau Margot). I bought a card plus a gift voucher for our lovely Bank Manager who got married recently. Then I bought some food and water in the Food Hall and sat in the sun in the park behind J.Lewis with my picnic. More walking, more window shopping and a couple of hours later I was completely pooped. My little legs couldn't take any more, so I flopped down in the train and snoozed all the way back to Hove.

Friday was shopping at Lidl day - and Saturday I drove to see one of my oldest BFs who has returned from living in Cornwall and has moved back into her house in Chertsey. I'm delighted to have her back within easy reach again - Cornwall is just too far for regular visits. It was a glorious day, and Daughter and Grandson came over too. We met up at my BF's house and talked non-stop. Grandson and I played footie in her garden, and then we all had bsgetti and worms for lunch. Perfect. My Swiss Student left on Saturday too - it was sad to see him go. He is a lovely young man, only 17, but with nice manners and a charming and cheerful outlook on life. I think he enjoyed his stay with me. I got the "three-kiss" continental farewell and a promise to exchange e-mails. Wery nice...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Princess and the Pea.

My new mattress is absolutely wonderful. It was quite a challenge getting the old one out and the new one in. First I chose (a 4' 6" Sleepeeze Pocket-Sprung number) and ordered from Mattressman as aforementioned and, true to his word, he delivered it next morning. The chap who brought it was very pleasant, but fairly short, not particularly strong and on his own, so it was obvious that he couldn't get it up all my stairs. Luckily the lovely Guy, who did my floors, had volunteered to come back and put the bed together again for me, so between us we somehow managed to heave it up the three flights of stairs. When the bedstead was ready, we manoevred the mattress on top and Guy took one look at it and said "You'll need a step-ladder to get up there." True enough, the new incumbent is possibly eight inches deep and therefore much thicker and higher than the old one. And I'm only 5 ft 2 ins. Hadn't thought of that! It's fun getting in and out of bed though, and when I'm perched up there with my mosquito net and my little sparkly paper lanterns draped around it, I really do feel like the Princess and the Pea.

The old mattress went down the stairs like a rocket, I just pointed it downwards and hoped it didn't smash into anything on the way down. The Council came and took it away on Friday morning, and I let it go without a backward glance. It took a lot of history with it, and I'm absolutely ready for new beginnings. I've reclaimed my bedroom, and there's nothing in it that doesn't belong to me. I've got rid of everyone else's rubbish and I just love the look and feel of my own space. I've re-hung the pictures and I'm going to buy sheepskin rugs to snuggle my toes in when I slide out of bed in the mornings! What Larks...

I have two Foreign Students now. The second one arrived last Friday and is a completely different kettle of fish from my Swiss boy. He is from Cyprus and says he is 25. If this is true, I'm a monkey's uncle (as my Mum used to say). He is small (about my height) with receding black curly hair, and he wears nail varnish! He is also extremely picky. He hadn't been in the house five minutes before he was asking for another towel (he already had two), more blankets for his bed (ditto) and was complaining about being cold. Of course he has been used to temperatures of 30 degrees or so (lucky man) and that was why I'd given him two extra blankets already. Anyway, he has started the way he means to go on, and finds something new to request every day. As he is planning to be with me for 12 weeks, this could be tricky. This morning it was warm milk for his cereal and coffee (perfectly reasonable) and this evening it was tea after dinner (again, not unreasonable). But it seems that everything I do isn't quite enough. I have a plan though - I'm going to introduce him to my Gay Friend. I think it could be a match made in heaven.

Yesterday and today I picked up Grandson from School. Foul weather and pouring with rain today, so we retreated indoors and had a cosy time playing with his wooden railway track. He is tired though, and really doesn't want to do more than chill out after a day of reading, singing and eating lunch. Today, apparently, he was on the School Computer. Tomorrow, he'll probably be showing me how to do it. When Daughter arrived home, she looked tired too. She seems to be doing extra days every week. I couldn't stop to chat though, because I had to rush back to cook for my two Students. Tonight it was homemade soup with pitta bread (he asked for more, so that's a compliment) followed by chilli con carne, baked potatoes and steamed broccoli. No dessert because I didn't have the time to make any. Come to think of it, that's probably why he asked for a cup of tea.

Dear old Terry Wogan, he plays some good stuff. I'd forgotten about Clifford T Ward and that old song he sang: "I could be a Millionaire.. If I had the money!" My sentiments exactly..

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A turn-up for the turnip!

What a hoot. I heard this on "Saturday Live" last Saturday, in an impromptu poem written by one of the guests. Apparently sales of turnips have doubled in the current financial situation. People are buying more root vegetables and are going back to cooking basic, nourishing and (let's face it) old-fashioned food. Cool. I've never really stopped cooking old-fashioned food. I like simple stuff: homemade soups, cakes and puddings, roasts and stews. And it turns out these are what people are going back to.

Buying the mattress is progressing. Today I went on a mattress hunt while the last coat of floor paint was drying. I overcame my embarrassment and managed to lie down on several very smart mattresses. I made one salesman laugh when I confessed that my current mattress is 30 years old, and therefore older than him. Ugh! I dread to think how many generations of dead dust mites are piled up in that mattress. It's not going back on my bed, even if I have to lie on the (newly painted, beautiful white) floor. I've discovered that the local Council will take my old mattress away for a measly £8.60. Cheap at the price. Tomorrow I start on touching-up the walls, painting the skirting boards and moving everything back into my bedroom. If I can manage to make a decision on the mattress, I could have it delivered (free) on Thursday. And as my new Student is arriving sometime on Friday, I'd better get a move on.

I have been relieved of my Grandmotherly duties this week because of having so much to do here. I miss the little tyke though. Today being Tuesday, it felt rather odd not to be driving to Dorking to pick him up. (The Boyfriend took today off, and was going to collect Grandson from school this afternoon.) I did telephone to say hello at tea-time, but he wasn't really interested. He was watching something riveting on TV, so all I got was a "Hello Nana" and a kiss down the phone. Never mind, I'll take whatever scraps I can get.

I had a phone call from Daughter this evening. She had been out for a meal with some of the girls from the office, and was driving home, talking to me on her new hands-free phone. Today she had also had a conversation with one of the Managers at work, who was asking if she would consider taking on a Senior Administrator's job. They have been so pleased with the way she has handled the travel section over the last ten days, that they are moving her up! Already. Not that I'm surprised - I know how smart she is, and I'm so proud of her.

My new Foreign Student is another very nice young man. He arrived on Sunday afternoon from Switzerland. His english is pretty good, and he is very together considering that he is only 17 years old. Yesterday was his first day, and I started it badly by oversleeping for the very first time since I have been taking students. For some reason my alarm didn't go off, and I woke with a start at 8.10am. As breakfast is at 8, I was late. Bless him, he had eaten his cereal, without milk, and was very gracious about my lapse. I hastily gave him orange juice and made fresh coffee and toast. Oh dear. It wasn't a good start, but he laughed about it, and went off very cheerfully. I put a new battery in my clock and managed to make it on time this morning. Phew..

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pink, pink, pink..oh, just get on with it..

Sitting on my balcony this evening with a glass of pink wine, looking at pink clouds in the sky and watching an unbelievably pink jet-trail making its way across the sky, like a jewelled feather. It has been the most perfect day today, and if the old-fashioned weather forecasting methods are to be believed, it will be lovely again tomorrow. I do hope so, because I have spent most of today indoors, painting. Not the artistic sort of painting, but the domestic sort - with a brush, a damp cloth and a pot of Regency White acrylic eggshell. It all started on Monday this week, when the long-awaited makeover of my two double bedrooms began. It has meant completely emptying each bedroom in turn so that the manky old carpet could be lifted, cut up and taken to the Tip.
Daughter, the Boyfriend (and Grandson) helped me move the furniture on Sunday, so that I was ready for Monday morning. Promptly at 9am, the lovely Guy arrived to cut up and dispose of the said carpet. He then proceeded to sand, repair and fill gaps in the floorboards, and finally painted them with special floor paint. A lovely off-white colour. It looks gorgeous - a sort of cross between a beach hut and a New England house. The only problem was that as soon as we started putting furniture back, everything else looked tatty. Hence the reason why I have spent today painting. I have done the chest of drawers, the base of the Rocking Horse, and all the skirtings. And I have washed and re-hung the blue and white striped curtains. And rehung the pictures, which I've decided can only be sea-themes. So we have sea horses, painted beach huts, a collection of shells and miniature boats and a lovely beach scene. My hands are a total mess, but it all looks great. Well worth doing.

It took 3 days to do the first room, including an impromptu decision give the walls a fresh coat of white emulsion because they looked so awful when the floor had been done. And now we are at Friday, with me sleeping in the spare room, and the floorboards in my bedroom undergoing the same treatment. All well and good, but I have a Student arriving on Sunday, so all the stuff which was dumped in the single room has to be moved in with me tomorrow. Never mind, it will be wonderful when it's finished.

I have also decided to buy a new mattress for my bed, which is long overdue. When I was talking to the lovely girl at Mattressman (where else?) she asked how old my current mattress was. I was reluctant to admit to it, but did say that Son was 29 and my mattress was about the same age (actually I'm ashamed to admit that it's even older). She laughed and said that any mattress I buy now will be manufactured quite differently from the old one, and that I should go and try some mattresses before deciding on anything. She was very nice, and that does seem reasonable, but I'm reluctant to go into a bed shop and lie down, as she suggested. I have to decide soon, as I know that if I wait until my room is finished and the bed reassembled, I just won't do it. I have a lovely old oak bed, and when the floor is painted (and everything else I expect) the room will look wonderful. I know what you're thinking, photos are needed, and I promise to get my act together.

One of the reasons why I have been such a dilatory Blogger of late (beside the aforementioned activity) is that I decided, a month ago, to enter a Short Story Competition. I didn't want to talk about it beforehand, as I often find that if I talk about things I just don't do them. This time I was determined to actually get on with it, and I have been writing, editing, re-writing and generally agonising over it for the last four weeks. I gave myself a deadline (in fact the actual competition deadline is 30th September), and I stuck to it. I have been structuring my day so that I walk, shower, breakfast and then write. And it did work - I've posted my entry, and somehow it doesn't matter in the least what the result is - or isn't. The fact is that I've done it, and I'm going to do it again. Next month I'm going to find another competition to enter. It's all very well me calling myself a writer, but actually it's time to JFDI.

Last weekend with Grandson was just lovely, and we were very lucky with the weather. On Saturday we walked along by the sea to the playground, and spent a lively few hours there with a picnic. Then on Sunday morning we met up with Daughter and the Boyfriend at the Car Boot Sale, where I found a new copy of "The Tiger who Came to Tea" for Grandson. We came back here and moved furniture, and then went off to the Jack and Jill Windmills for the last time this year. It was the perfect afternoon, with a blue sky and a brisk breeze. I'm perfectly happy just sitting there in the sunshine with a cup of tea, watching the sails go round - it's quite magical.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Apologies to All...

Well, now I'm really hopping mad - despite having published this Post earlier today, it has now been wiped out by F****** Blogger. Grrrr. And though I had already had a couple of comments from friends, these have been disappeared too. I'll try to remember it. Basically, the gist of it was that Blogger will not let me publish the photos I have been promising for so long. Can't work out what's wrong, so I will have to call in Dan the Computer Man to help. So sorry. And when I try to log on to other Bloggers and leave comments, my computer keeps just freezing. It won't do a thing, and I have to turn it off and try again. I'm very fed up with it and do apologise to all of you. I'm not neglecting you, but I just can't seem to make it work properly. I promise to fix it ASAP and get back to you all very soon.

The weather is lovely here - a real Indian Summer. When I walked by the sea today it wasn't sunny to begin with, but there wasn't a breath of wind and the sea was flat and calm, with the soft sheen of a blue pearl. As I turned for home, Worthing Pier was quite clear, and the sun came out and turned the sea a darker blue. Gorgeous. There was a lone fisherman on the shore, and a lone swimmer breaking the surface of the sea with regular strokes. Wish you were here..

Must go, as I have to collect Grandson from school this afternoon. He is coming back with me for the weekend, so that Daughter and the Boyfriend can have some time to themselves. At least that's my excuse. I'm sure we will have a lovely time together, just chillin'...

PS. Another apology - to Dusty Spider and to Maggie May - thank you for visiting and commenting earlier. I did get your comments, but Blogger has since whisked both you and my Post away into the ether - vanished without trace. So if you're reading this strangely altered post for the second time - and wondering where your comments have gone - sorry, but I haven't a clue!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Time to go, Golden...

Oh, Gordon Brown, just get on your bike and let us get on with our crisis without you. Honestly, we know that you're not in the least concerned to help, you're only worried about your own status, and wouldn't have a clue how to read a gas meter anyway. And as for sacking the poor woman who had the nerve to question your leadership, well, we're right behind her. We know what a bully you are - that sort of news travels fast - and we have no wish to detain you further. Goodbye and Good Luck (and good riddance).

I'm sorry that another week has passed without any news (I nearly wrote "newts" - how appropriate) from me - it's just that I seem to be very busy, and then in the evenings I sink down and can't be arsed to get up again. Sorry. Last week I picked up Grandson from school on Tuesday, and could see that he is getting used to the discipline. He spotted me waiting, but stood behind the line with his Teacher until it was his turn to move. In the meantime, he called out and blew me a kiss, just in case I hadn't seen him. What a sweetie. We went home and sat with tea and cakes, played a few games and generally chilled out until Daughter came home from work. It's going to be my regular day for the time being, so I will be off again to meet him tomorrow. We had a bit of an upset at the weekend though, which I really should have seen coming. It had been Grandson's first full week at school (5 days of 8.45am to 3.10pm) and Daughter had ended up working four days too. Neither of them had done this before, and come Saturday they were both tired and tetchy. When I spoke to Daughter in the early evening she was very tetchy indeed, and let me have it when I defended Grandson. I tried to be reasonable, but couldn't get a word in. In the end she put Grandson on the phone and he said "It's not my fault Nana, it's Mummy. She won't listen to me." Well, what would you do? I knew it would be my fault, so I just rolled over. Of course I always defend him - he's only little. And has there ever been a child who would admit to being tired? Finally, she hung up on me in a temper, but luckily I was just going out for dinner with a friend and so I didn't sit here stewing about it. Later she phoned and left me a long apologetic message, saying that they had sorted it out and he had gone to bed after a cuddle and a story. Never mind, I've got broad shoulders. And anyway, a Mother's place....

We had a lovely weekend, weatherwise, so I walked beside the sea a couple of times (sorry Aims, just clean forgot my camera!) and spent several hours in the garden, doing an Autumn clearout. I also attacked the pond, because my water Irises have just got out of control. I dug out quite a few big roots, and at one point disturbed a large frog. We just looked at each other for a couple of minutes, and then it swam off to the other end of the pond. I was very pleased to see it, but couldn't find any of the babies. I do hope that they are OK. Hon. Grandaughter was here on Friday night and Saturday morning, which was lovely because I hadn't seen her since July. She was trying to spot the frogs, and her fish, but the duckweed was just too thick. It's her 10th Birthday next Sunday, and when I asked her what she wanted she said that she only wants either a Pony or a Cat. I have to say, she won't be getting either, but I wonder if I can think of a creative way of making her wish come true?

Speaking of Birthdays, Son will be 29 tomorrow. Another year has sped past, and when I think back to this time last year, things have really improved for all of us, but particularly for him - not that I like to tempt Fate. He phoned me on Saturday night from Ireland, where he was attending an Awards Ceremony for another part of the Music Industry, He sounded pretty drunk (why else would he phone his Mum?) and told me a long story about having gone up on stage to collect an Award for someone who wasn't there. Apparently he was then thrown out (!!) but came back to do his DJ set. And great fun was had by all. Did I say he's 29 tomorrow? Am I sure?

The other lovely thing that happened last week was that I went up to London on Thursday, spent a few hours looking around the shops at gorgeous clothes I can't afford, and then met up with Son to go to a private club in Soho. It was very smart and exclusive, and we sat in the top floor bar (which is a Roof Garden in Summer) drinking spritzers, listening to new live Artists for Son's work, and eating the most delicious food. (I had wonderful queen scallops with a very delicate saffron risotto.) Altogether a great evening. When I was on the train home, I sent Son a text saying how much I had enjoyed the evening, and he sent one back saying we should do it more often. Lucky me...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rain Stopped Play.

The weekend was a complete wash-out, sadly. Son gave up on driving down when he was caught in a traffic jam, before he'd even reached Croydon, and in torrential rain. When we spoke on his mobile I suggested aborting the mission because he would have had something like five hours driving in all, getting to and from the Private View, and it was apparently still sheeting down there. It didn't seem like a good way for him to spend a precious weekend when he is so busy at work and needs all the relaxing time he can get. I spoke to my Artist Friend who said she didn't think many people would turn up (and apparently those who did got stuck fast in mud in the fields). I'd been looking forward to dressing up and drinking champagne, but the thought of having to go in wellies and raincoat wasn't quite the same. And it was blooming cold!

On Sunday I tried to find a Car Boot Sale, but had no luck there either. Although it wasn't raining on Sunday, it hadn't stopped for the previous few days, so all the fields were water-logged. I ended up at a Garden Centre sitting with a cup of lovely coffee and reading Harpers and Queen. At this time of year I'm more interested in clothes, as Autumn is coming on, and I saw some great looks in Harpers. Armani had some lovely black with leopard print stuff, and TOD had an advertisement with Gwyneth Paltrow looking lovely in caramel and beige cashmere and leather. I'm pretty sure I can't afford those things (and let's face it, I don't look anything like Gwynnie), but at least I know the look I'm aiming for. Bling jewellry seems to be the thing now too, so I'm delighted to have my "diamond" bling watch with the white leather strap. I saw a couple of versions of this in Harpers, but they were Designer jobs and cost around £3,000. Mine, bought on Bid TV, was a lot less, but still looks the part!

I walked down by the sea this morning, the first time for a while, and though it wasn't exactly warm and sunny, it was great to be out in the fresh air. I passed a house which I like very much, which sits on a corner overlooking the sea, and which has recently sold for £3million. My Gay Friend, who came for supper last night, told me that it has been bought by Denise Van Outen as a seaside retreat. It has wonderful views in both directions along the sea shore, but no garden. It does have a couple of large balconies, and is just a hop, skip and a jump to the beach, so perhaps she won't mind the lack of garden.

After our roast chicken last night, GF and I watched a programme about The Who, which I really enjoyed. I didn't much like their music in the 70s, except for Tommy the Opera, which I thought was quite wonderful. Fascinating, though, to see it all in retrospect. It is another piece of social history. Sadly, only two of them are left alive now, since Keith Moon and John Entwistle died. (Though hearing about how they all lived and what junk they were taking made you wonder how any of them were still alive.) Just like the Beatles I suppose. In Harpers and Queen there were pictures of Paul and Ringo at some posh Fundraiser or other. They looked healthy and happy, with their respective families. It's a miracle really that any of them have survived.
One of my BBFs said her Daughter went to a very posh party at the weekend, and saw Mick Jagger there. Apparently he now looks like a very old man. Not good. But at least he's still alive.

A Brilliant Post Script: Daughter passed her Driving Test (first time) on Saturday. Very exciting and very well deserved. Now she will be able to drive to and from work, and do the School Run (for the next 15 years!!). Ah well, progress...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Big School At Last.

Grandson started Big School yesterday! What an event. Apparently he couldn't wait to get there in his new uniform (all neatly name-taped by his Nana) and went up to introduce himself to his new Teacher. Very impressive. Daughter and the Boyfriend recorded everything on their camera phones, and when I went over in the afternoon, I saw all the photos. Daughter and I went to collect him from School just after 3pm, and it was still pouring with rain. We stood waiting under a motley collection of umbrellas, with all the other Mothers, until the Reception Class came out. The children were all holding hands, and carrying their book bags which were almost as big as they were. Grandson looked rather bemused, and was very pleased to see his Mumma. Daughter thought he might like to have a pizza at Pizza Express, but all he wanted to do was go home. So we all curled up on the sofa with tea, milk, chocolate biscuits and swiss roll, and watched The Aristocats on video together. It was very cosy and relaxing. When we asked what he had for lunch, his reply was "bsgetti and worms", which he apparently ate all up, with some custard! Anyway that was his first day, and he looked completely wiped out. Bless the boy.

This morning Terry Wogan was bidding us farewell again for a couple of weeks. I don't begrudge him his holidays, but I really don't look forward to his absences. I'll just have to put up with it I supppose. It's not quite so bad since I have discovered Radio 7, which has lots of plays and stories on most of the day. It's not a bad substitute. This morning Sir Tel played Bing Crosby singing "True Love" from the old film of "High Society" - and he said that it was one of his favourites. Me too. It's one film I haven't got on video, so I'll have to look out for it at the next Car Boot Sale. Great music and great stars: Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, Satchmo, Bing Crosby and loads more whose names I can't recall.

I'm feeling very well now, but still have masses of stuff to catch up with - it's such a waste of time being ill. Today I have been doing boring things like paying bills and making phone calls that should have been done weeks ago. I did notice that when I didn't respond to a request from the electricity company to send a meter reading, they simply sent me an estimated bill instead. I guess they don't want to miss a chance to get their money in. (And for once, their estimate is actually more than I owe!) I heard on the news today that Golden Brown is covering himself with the opposite of glory, in his mis-handling of the proposed fuel payment to families! How can this Government keep getting it so wrong? Of course it wouldn't have been a long-term solution to give families a lump sum, but it certainly would have been a great help, and they could have kept working on a solution for next year. That makes sense to me, but not to greedy old Golden and his chums. And as for the half-arsed gesture regarding Stamp Duty, what a croc! As everyone I know is saying "Too little, too late."

Son is coming down from London tomorrow, and we are suppposed to be going to a rather posh Private View at a friend's house in the country. There will be paintings, sculpture and ceramics all displayed in and around their country house, studio and garden - except that in this weather I'm not sure how they will manage it. I spoke to my Artist Friend this morning, and she said that the fields are awash and the garden has been beaten down by the torrential rain. Not sure how many people will brave the weather if it's still like this tomorrow. And it's a shame because there will be masses of champagne and posh party food going to waste. We may have to force ourselves to go, equipped with wellies, macs and umbrellas. All in a good cause...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Woke up this morning feeling fine...

At last. I'm back to feeling like myself again. I can eat, drink hot tea, swallow and speak without pain. And I never want to go there again. One of my regular (and witty) commenters suggested that my affliction sounded like "Blue Tongue", which I haven't looked up yet, but I will. Whatever it might be, it can't be more disgusting than my tongue was. I'm still not showing it to anyone, but the improvement is quite dramatic.

Now of course, I've got a lot to catch up with. I haven't visited any of my favourite Blogs, and I expect some of my Blogging buddies will think I've dropped off my perch. Not quite yet. I have listened to a lot of radio and read a lot of books, inbetween sleeping and moaning (with pain I hasten to add, not complaining). One of the interesting things on the radio has been the 1968 "Day by Day" news, which reminds us of what was happening 40 years ago. 1968 really does seem to have been a watershed year. I particularly remembered that on 21st August 1968, when the Russian tanks invaded Czechoslovakia, I went out and bought my first ever copy of The Times, because I wanted to know the truth about what was happening. This seems a trifle naive to me now, but back then I believed that The Times would give me a fair and balanced view of events in Prague. And I believe it did just that. Poor Dubcek - he was, in the commentator's words, "Too nice". He believed and trusted the Russians who, as it turned out, had been planning the invasion for months because they didn't trust Dubcek to get the country "under control". Dubcek was a decent man, and genuinely didn't realize that "Communism with a human face is not possible." It was a tragic misunderstanding, and a dramatic and exciting time for those of us who were observing - but it must have been terrible for all those Czech people who believed that they were about to be freed. The 'with hindsight' view was that it was a "successful invasion, but a political disaster". The 1968 uprising was about Idealism and National Unity, but November 1989 was different - they no longer wanted Socialism with a human face, they simply wanted their Freedom.

Of course, I have a Foreign Student here from the Czech Republic. He is 19 and knows nothing of those days. Even his parents, who are both 43, remember nothing. Yet they are all children of that Revolution, and now live normal, untroubed lives in relative freedom - thanks to all those who suffered and died, who protested and were imprisoned. They know nothing of the people of Prague who had no guns, but who stood in front of the Russian tanks and pleaded with the soldiers to leave them to their hard-won independence. They were truly heroic and I remember still the black and white photos of those people in Prague, dwarfed by the Russian tanks, but not defeated. It was impressive then, and it is still moving now.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Moaning Minnie!

This week's motif has been pain. Mine. I'm sorry to be such a Moaning Minnie (a phrase from my Mother, but most appropriate), but I'm still in agony here. Not from the stings - they have receded to a couple of itchy spots on my feet. Nor from the sore throat, which has also receded and left me with tender glands (no, not those glands, Billy!). No, the next thing to strike was the ulcers on the tongue. Ugh, I hear you say, and quite right too. But just try 5 days of excruciating pain every time you swallow or try to eat, drink or speak and see how you feel. Now most of you will know that eating, drinking and talking are just about my favourite things (apart from Blogging of course)but I have been a stranger to them all week. Sometimes I have been desperate for food, and have forced down something just to keep body and soul together, but it's like trying to chew and swallow large lumps of acidic grit - no taste and all pain. The ulcers do look nasty, and so does my tongue. I believe it may be all to do with the Shiatsu treatment, because my therapist put a tiny magnet on my stomach last week - presumably to draw out anything noxious - and I guess it's working! Sleeping has been tricky too, because you tend to lie down and swallow when you go to bed. I realize that I'm stating the obvious, but it's not until you have something like this that you even notice normal bodily functions. Yesterday I gave in and went to see my lovely GP, who is very keen on holistic medicine too. He informed me that this is a virus which is doing the rounds locally, and might last for up to two weeks! And he warned me that I will probably feel worse before I feel better. I came away with some B Complex vitamins, and a devout hope that the virus will bugger off soon!

My week of pain was alleviated somewhat by a visit from Grandson. Daughter brought him over on Tuesday because I really wasn't up to driving there to collect him. She had been given an extra day's work on Thursday, so I had him until Thursday evening. On Wednesday we were both quite happy to chill, and anyway it rained non-stop. But on Thursday we ventured out. It was a lovely sunny day and we started with a visit to the Donkeys where we fed them carrots. (Grandson always eats a carrot too, to keep them company - and he always has a Gingerbread Man to follow.) We then went on to the other Garden Centre for lunch, where I managed to force down a gritty and tasteless sausage roll - but the Iced Coffee was such bliss and so cooling that I wanted it to last forever. Before we left home, I had tracked down the local "Jack and Jill" Windmills, because Grandson adores windmills, and I had been promising him a visit. So after lunch (I use the term lightly) we tootled off to see them. They are really spectacular, and right on the South Downs Way, with wonderful views over the whole area. The Windmills weren't open, so we had to be content with a look from outside, but I promised him we'll go back next weekend (Bank Holiday) when the Jill Windmill will be open. Instead, we went for quite a long walk along the South Downs Way. He was jumping in puddles, spotting butterflies, picking a few wild flowers for his Mum and getting very muddy, very happily.

Later, as we sat watching the Bedtime Hour on CBeebies, Grandson was asking if I would be going home with him. He was very sad when I said no, and replied "I think you should, Nana, because you love me so much." Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings...

Monday, August 11, 2008

An Eventful Weekend!

Praise be, dear old Terry Wogan was back at his microphone this morning, cheering me up immediately with his Light Programme wit. I'm always grumpy when he's away because there's no-one else I want to listen to at 8am. Getting up to do breakfast for Students is fine as long as I have good old Sir Tel making me laugh. Not that my Students are difficult, in fact they are very pleasant and very polite. The Spanish one was off doing his tourist impression at the weekend: on Saturday to Cambridge and on Sunday up to London again - he's a glutton for punishment. He staggered in the door last night at about 9.30pm, saying he was exhausted and was going straight to bed. The other one, from the Czech Republic, smiles a lot but doesn't have the stamina for all those trips. He did manage to get the bus up to the Seven Sisters yesterday, and said that it was very beautiful - even in the rain. Just as well, because it hasn't stopped raining for days!

I had Grandson here for the weekend, despite having a sore throat and not feeling on my best form. He was quite happy to chill out for the day on Saturday, and as it was (still) raining neither of us felt the urge to do much. He is having busy weeks at Nursery at the moment, and was quite happy to relax indoors. We also had a surprise visit from Son and his Girlfriend in the afternoon. He phoned to say that they had driven down intending to go to a Wedding Party in a field near Lewes! Needless to say, when they got here and saw the weather they changed their minds - they didn't have wellies, raincoats or umbrellas with them. What a shame! I imagine it was a fairly empty field and rather a quiet Wedding Party. Anyway, their loss was our gain because we had a lovely hour of sitting chatting over a cup of tea, and Grandson had a lot of fun being thrown up in the air by Son. Sadly they couldn't stay and decided to drive back to London - in fact there was no room at the Inn, because I had a full house.

Later on Grandson and I went downstairs to my Neighbour's Barbecue, which turned into an Aga-Barbecue because of the rain. We did have a good time right until the end, when Grandson decided to go out into the garden with no shoes on in the pitch black. He walked across the wooden deck and was stung on his foot (I later discovered) and YELLED. I ran to get him and was stung on both feet and YELLED!! God, it was painful. I gathered him up and sprinted for the house, where we landed on the surprised party, making rather a lot of noise. Grandson was crying and I was hopping about in agony. We had been stung by some all-black flying insects (I'm sure I've never seen them before) about an inch and a half long, with thin bodies. Nasty. I was batting them away and so was everyone else in the end. Bloody Panic. Grandson looked at me through his tears and said "Let's go HOME, Nana." So we did. I bathed him (and me) with everything I could think of. Luckily when I put him into bed he was asleep in about 5 minutes. But I lay there for two hours, waiting for the pain in my feet to subside, and listening to Grandson's breathing, with my hand on his chest. Fortunately he didn't have any further reaction, and only woke up once in the night whimpering because of the itching. It certainly took my mind off my sore throat!

PS. I Googled the Flying Insects and think they are "Paper Wasps" which can be black, but are normally found in America, apparently. I'm no expert, but I think my Neighbour has a nest of them under her deck. I won't be setting foot on it again, that's for sure.

Friday, August 8, 2008

No Smoke without Fire.

OK, so who's made off with my comments? I lay the blame firmly at the feet of Blogger, who first of all printed a very respectable and interesting number of them at the end of my last Post, and then 'disappeared' them last night, just as I was sitting down to answer them. I know it will be no use whatsoever getting in touch with the "Customer Service" department, having heard the comments of various of my Blogging Friends regarding the lack of response they have experienced in the past. I suppose I just have to lump it - but what else is going wrong I wonder? Perhaps my precious comments will suddenly reappear (and they are precious to me), but if not, where oh where have they gone? Are they floating in cyberspace somewhere, with no home to go to? (I can feel a teardrop ready to fall.) It's experiences like this that make me realize just how hopeless I am in technological terms. I wouldn't know where to begin to look for the missing little blighters. Oh to be an anorak, or a geek at this moment. Come back all you unsuitable and (previously considered) boring boyfriends of yore, all is forgiven if you can just sort out my Blog for me and find my missing, and much missed, comments.

Yesterday I ventured up to the Big Smoke again for the day. It was long overdue. I had been promising myself a mooch around Peter Jones again in search of a couple of things. And I was also looking forward to seeing Son and to meeting up with Sister to return a few things she had left here on her last visit. I started with a cup of coffee in Peter Jones, just as it started to pickle down with rain, but sitting in their coffee shop in the sky is a delight, whatever the weather. Then I wandered down through the floors, finding something to love in each department, but sadly no Shower Radios. Years ago darling Daughter bought me a Sea Horse-shaped Shower Radio which fixed to the bathroom tiles by means of a suction cup, and allowed me to listen to either T. Wogan or Womans Hour while in the shower or the bath. Bliss. But it sadly gave up the ghost (or the horse) a while ago, so I really wanted to replace it. And I do love Sea Horses; many years ago, when I was swimming in the Mediterranean off Cannes, I looked down through the clear blue water to see a little Sea Horse swimming cheerfully along in front of me. It was the dearest little thing, and I fell in love on the spot. Since then, anything Sea Horsey just does it for me. (I have to say that that part of the Mediterranean probably isn't the place to see Sea Horses any more - too dirty and polluted.) Anyway, no luck there. And because I was meeting Son for lunch, I didn't have time to take a good look at the Microwave Ovens (mine is ancient and really needs replacing). By this time, it was sheeting down with rain, and my sparkly 5 Euro pumps were soaking wet and about to fall apart, so I jumped on a bus. Big mistake. Big traffic jam. So I jumped off again and caught the tube, which got me to Soho on time, if drowned rattish-looking. Son's new office is right in Soho, which brought back rafts of memories. When Sister and I worked in Advertising we were in Soho day and night, either working or playing, so it all looked very familiar. Nothing much seems to have changed. I met Son's new work colleagues, who were very nice indeed, and then we walked round to a Sushi restaurant for lunch. This was my first experience of Sushi, which Son found hard to credit, but I did enjoy it. I ate smoked salmon with chilli sauce, some divine spicy little dumplings, something called crystal rolls with unrecognizable stuff inside them, and some gorgeous prawns in tempura batter. I turned down the raw beef and the other raw fish, which Son hoovered up enthusiastically, and we finished up with Creme Brulee (not very Japanese, but very good). We had a great talk too - time spent with him is so precious as it's pretty rare now. He's working hard, but happily so. And he's comfortable in his new home. After lunch, and a hug goodbye, I whisked off to Patisserie Valerie to meet Sister for a cup of tea. Another blast from the past. It hasn't changed a whisker. Same pictures on the walls (and the same paint by the look of it - nicotine coloured) and the same array of wonderful pastries and chocolates on tempting display. I did resist them, as I'd just eaten, and afterwards we wandered back through Soho, recalling old friends and old times. My feet were killing me by the time I got to sit down on the train home. But it was worth it - all in all, it was a lovely day.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lost in Translation..

Oh Hi. Just thought I'd jot down something quickly before another week flies by. I've got two foreign students here now, and maybe you'd like to know how they are doing? Well, Mattei (that's how you pronounce it) is from the Czech Republic, and his spoken English is even worse than Jaime's. Hard to believe I know, but it's true. He is very large and smiley though, and brought me a couple of lovely presents from home: some divine hazelnut wafers and a bottle of what looks like serious alcohol. I can't quite decipher what it might be, but it's colourless and looks very strong. I haven't opened it yet, but have tasted the hazelnut wafers, which are just dericious. Jaime is in his element, having been here a week already, and is therefore the senior monitor. It's so funny to hear him, with his very broken English, instructing Mattei in pronunciation and sentence structure. They are very nice together though, and Mattei has been invited to go with Jaime and his friends to Cambridge this weekend. Sweet.

Yesterday was a blustery but sunny day, and I took a long walk down by the sea. There were quite big, white-topped waves being whipped up by the wind. And several yachts being blown along, sails billowing, in a very choppy sea. It looked picturesque, but I'm not sure I would have wanted to be on board. I don't know if I would be sea-sick, but the little boats were travelling at quite a speed and kept practically disappearing behind the waves. Wish I'd had my camera, because everything was sparkling in the sun. The sea was that gorgeous deep azure green-blue under a perfect sky. I walked all the way to the beach cafe and sat with an iced coffee, talking to Katie and the other girls. It was lovely in the sun, but walking back home I was practically blown backwards by the stiff wind. It was a great breath of air though.

Over supper last night, the two boys were asking me what the little houses were down by the sea. They couldn't at all understand what I meant by beach huts, and asked what the purpose of them might be. That stumped me. "To sit in with a cup of tea and look at the sea, I suppose." They didn't look convinced. And when I explained that they cost around £9,000 to buy, they thought I'd completely lost the plot. "What for?" they asked. And I didn't really have an answer.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sharing the Love.

Just a quickie to say a proper "thankyou" to RAC for passing on this special Award to me. And I have actually managed to make the link; if you click on the Award, it works, I promise. This is a very lovely Award, with a lovely story attached to it. Please read it, and do take this Award if you would like to. I would be so very happy to pass it on to anyone who reads my Blog - you are all friends who share your love with me on a regular basis . The only condition is that you should link back to Memoirs of a Mommy when you add it to your Blog. And then share it with all those Bloggers who make your day brighter - those who make you laugh or cry, or who make you feel that life is simply worth living. Remember, "Love is a Doing Word". Let's do it...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Family Fortunes.

Despite having an alcoholic Father and a neurotic Mother (the second probably consequent on the first), I think of my childhood as pretty idyllic. Perhaps this should tell me something. Whatever we are dealt, as children, we cope with somehow, and often don't see what others might see as terrible. I can remember that we (Sister and I) never felt able to invite friends round to our house because we never knew what might be happening. Our Father might be roaring drunk, our Mother might be having an attack of the vapours (and those attacks were pretty spectacular I can tell you), they might be in the middle of a fight, or they might simply not be there. It sounds rather odd, to say the least, but we obviously thought of it as normal. Sister and I were expected to clean the house and get our own food from a fairly tender age, and to complain was unheard of. Nor would we ever have dared to contradict or argue with our parents. Yet we had wonderful family holidays, as I recall, travelling to the Isle of Wight every year in Dad's little Morris 8 (all packed in with Paddy the cocker spaniel) to spend two weeks in a caravan which wasn't much bigger than the car. I remember card games in the evenings, with the rain drumming on the caravan roof, making us feel safe and secure. On hot sunny days we all decamped to the beach with huge picnics, meeting up with other families (and dogs), and spending hours swimming and boating. Brown's Golf Pitch and Putt in Sandown was a great favourite where we had hours of fun and always finished up with coffee and wonderful doughnuts. (I think Brown's is still there.) And at the end of two weeks we would pack up, say goodbye to the other regular families, shed a few tears and promise to meet up again the following year. We were all brown, happy and relaxed, as I remember it, and the weather was nearly always glorious for that last week in August and the first in September. But it probably took a huge effort for my parents to get along during the holidays - for the sake of the "children" - and they certainly didn't take the truce home with them. They were never violent to us, though they often fought very real and physical battles between themselves. And though they were kind, after a fashion, I can't remember my Mother ever saying she loved me. Sister can't either. Our (sad) conclusion is that she was envious of our young, independent lives, and of our relative freedom. She had to leave school at 14 and go into service. We were both lucky enough to get into the Grammar School, and then high-tailed it up to London to work in "glamorous" jobs, earning what she considered a fortune, and having a lot of fun. Poor Mum, she never had that freedom or any real independence. As a result, she couldn't wait for us to leave home and get on with our lives. So it's strange that when I look back I can see golden days in our garden, recall lots of laughter at old family jokes and remember the many "Aunties" and "Uncles" who were real friends and who created a loving and lively social structure. We felt totally secure and loved, even though no-one actually said it. It's that thing about Love being a "Doing Word" - it's not what you say, it's what you do that counts. I have no doubt that our parents loved us in their own way, which was not demonstrative. And they were always concerned not to "spoil" us. Not that there was much spoiling or indulgence in Post War Britain.

We bathed once a week in the upstairs bathroom, with an oil stove lit for warmth. All the other days we had a "wash down" at the sink. On washing days in Winter I helped my Mother put the freezing sheets through the mangle before hanging them on the line. There was no heating in our house, apart from the fire downstairs, and we always woke up to frosty patterns inside the windows in Winter. We ate whatever we were given (simply because there wasn't a choice) and no-one ever left any of their food. Summers were one long sunny day in my mind - and Winters were spent cosily round the fire listening to the radio. In the school holidays Sister and I would disappear for the day with a bottle of Lemonade and a couple of sandwiches. We climbed trees, forded streams, made camps and scrumped apples and pears if we were lucky enough to find them. We scraped our knees, learned how to make bows and arrows, and never felt either unsafe or worried for a moment. It was, in many ways, a charmed childhood. Dear God, it sounds like something from a history book already, and I'm not that old. Or maybe I am.

I don't know what brought that on, but I'm scuttling back to the future. I have a new Foreign Student who arrived last Sunday, from Spain. He is a very polite young man, called Jaime. He explained to me that his name is pronounced "Hymie" - and there was a sudden revelation! All those old American flms always had someone in them called Hymie, and I always imagined it was an American shortening of something like "Herman" or "Hoiman" - actually, it's Spanish, and obviously reflects the numbers of Spanish speaking immigrants who moved from South America to North America. Well, whaddyaknow? I learn something new every day.