Thursday, 31 March 2011

Dial M for Muzak

The Sage was not happy when our internet connection went down this morning.  I was cooking his breakfast (yes, really, I am that good to him) when he called through plaintively.  Then the phone rang, but was dead when he picked it up.  I managed to get the broadband going again, though it was a bit iffy for the rest of the morning, but it has been blissfully peaceful as regards bells all day.

It's no good, I can't be doing with a tune for the landline.  I don't have one even for my mobile actually as none of the ones on offer suit me - I know what I would have if I could be bothered to download a tune, but I never have - I have the nearest thing to the sound of a proper telephone, with a different ringtone (not a tune) if it's from home, but I just want 'ring-ring' from the home phone.  I wonder if I'm in a minority.  We don't have a doorbell but if we did, that would just ring, too.

An old man we used to deliver Meals on Wheels to had a doorbell that played a succession of nursery rhyme tunes - I don't know if it was random or whether they were played in order, but when you rang his bell and he answered the door, we just smiled at each other and didn't try to speak through 'Boys and Girls Come Out to Play" or "Oranges and Lemons" or whichever of the others jingled away cheerily.  It played a whole verse and went on for some time.  Here, we've got a knocker on the front door, but no one who knows us goes there but comes to the porch at the side, and either taps hopefully on the glass or just opens the door and shouts.  If the front door is knocked on, it's either someone who is lost or the Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses, who are very formal and never sidle.

The Sage went next door to phone to tell the telephone company about our dead line this evening, but he was back minutes later, saying he wasn't going to listen to muzak.  I suggested that there would be muzak whatever time of the day he rings - and there will be, of course, which makes him impatient.  It's one of the few things that does; normally he is good-humoured and long-tempered even with me when I'm being quite annoying.  He has been known to try several times, waiting just a couple of minutes each time, until I have a go and usually get through in less than five.  But I'm still enjoying not receiving phone calls, so I'm likely to hang back rather longer this time.

He went to check the bill, by the way.  It was paid earlier this month, so we haven't been cut off deliberately.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011


It was as well I posted early yesterday evening, because I was suddenly exhausted after dinner.  I fell asleep on the sofa and then staggered to bed.  Unfortunately, I couldn't sleep again and wished I'd stayed up.  I developed a cold yesterday afternoon, which made me both heavy-headed and too uncomfortable to sleep.

At least I've got a lot of typing done today and feel that I'm getting on top of things.  I phoned for an appointment with my surgeon - I'd left a message on his secretary's answerphone more than a month ago and hadn't had a reply.  Eventually I emailed and had an answer asking me to phone the hospital - I suspect she has left his employ, but I do think she could have let me know.  Anyway, that's done now.

I'm enjoying a book I bought a couple of weeks ago but have just started reading.  It's "The Secret Life of Words" by Henry Hitchings.  I'm only twenty pages in, in fact, but I already find it absorbing.  It's about the development of English with the addition of words from other languages - 350 languages, apparently.  As he says, some words are obviously still foreign whereas others are completely assimilated (mope and smörgåsbord  are both Swedish but only the latter looks it) and some words conjure a different idea - bourgeois is not the same as middle-class, for instance.  I do like words, and it's evident that Henry does too.

News I didn't pass on yesterday is that Weeza has had her detailed scan and all is fine.  She, like Dilly, is carrying a boy and Zerlina is thrilled at the news, which does not surprise her at all.  She was expecting and looking forward to a baby brother.  The Sage does not want to know this information - the sex, that is - so please don't mention it when you see him at the party.  There's little chance of him not picking it up from one of the children, but I'm not going to spoil the surprise.

Next thing I must look into is getting my address to those of you who are coming here on 2nd May.  Don't think I've forgotten, it just hasn't climbed to the surface of things to do.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Dial P for p***

I am reluctantly obliged to confirm that it's the Sage who keeps me from peaceful slumber.  He twitched and muttered at 4 o'clock this morning, woke me up and I couldn't sleep again.  In the end, because he wasn't quite still and quiet enough for me (though by that time a log of wood would not have been), I went into the spare bedroom.  I did sleep eventually, and he was very apologetic when he brought me a cup of tea this morning.  He could hardly help it, poor lamb, but I had noticed what a wonderful night's sleep I'd had while he was away!

This afternoon has been splendidly encouraging.  I phoned John Lewis in Brent Cross to order a new washing machine for the London flat.  I must have been on the phone for 20 minutes with a delightful and friendly assistant whose name is Betty, and she was very helpful.  I think it's a fantastic bargain, they are delivering and fitting the new machine for £25 and removing and disposing of the old one for £9.  I told her that it's an upstairs flat and the job will be awkward, but it seems there's no extra charge - of course, I'll give the men a good tip.  Gratuity, darlings, not advice on which horse to back in the Grand National.  Or women of course, but it will take a powerful pair of people of whatever sex to manhandle a washer/dryer up and down those stairs.

It so happens that I'm going to London anyway that day on a Nadfas visit to the V&A.  I can't find the details at present, but I'll go by coach, whiz round the exhibition and then go to the flat, wait for the delivery and then come home by train.

I also phoned about our TV licence.  I went online a few weeks ago to apply for a short-term licence, but never received the promised invoice in the post, so thought I'd get it sorted out before it was overdue.  Another helpful and friendly person, this time a man called Ted.  I have paid a mere £24.25 - apparently, the Sage will receive a freebie for the month of his birthday.  All fine and I pay due appreciation to call centres that work well and to efficient and really delightful staff.

Dave mentioned today on his blog his most popular ever post - I don't know what mine is, because I rarely do more than glance at the weekly statistic email that I receive - that is, I look to see the number of visitors in the past week and that's all.  But I do know my favourite post, and that it's not my favourite because of what I wrote, but because of the comments - which I added to the post itself.  I just re-read it (here) and laughed again.  It dates from March 07 and it makes me realise how long I've known a lot of you.

Monday, 28 March 2011


I phoned the dentist at 8.40 and was sitting in the surgery chair at 11 this morning, and out again twenty minutes later with a repaired tooth and £60 the poorer.  As the whole thing was completely painless - I started on the 17 times table, but didn't bother to get further than 170 - I was not too bothered.  I went in search of a cup of coffee, but was tempted into the Apple Store and spent some time playing with iPads instead.

I'm not sure that I can identify what is better about it, it could be that I'm simply more familiar using one after several goes, but it does seem lighter and slicker and I am confirmed in my decision to buy one, finances permitting (no reason why not, I've Saved Up) just as soon as they're in stock.  The nice assistant I chatted to admitted that she loves the new machine and can't stop playing with it - "I've been unfaithful to my iPad," she confessed.

I spent quite some time in the garden hacking out brambles and chopping down overgrown greenery with pruning saw and secateurs, which is what passes for gardening in my overgrown world.  The Sage returned safely at about 5 o'clock, by which time it was a lovely sunny evening.  He had had a good run, but was a bit shaken by some of the bad driving he'd seen on the main roads.

I must just do a bit more shopping for Weeza's birthday and then I'm having an early night.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

In for a penny...

The Sage phoned to say he'd arrived safely with Wink after a very easy journey.  He's taken to driving the South side of the M25, it's only about 5 miles further and, he finds, much less busy.  I phoned back later to see if they'd watched Antiques Roadshow, as there were a couple of items he'd have been very interested in - but they'd gone to the village pub for dinner and had missed it.  I'll have to see if it's repeated.  Annoyingly, the paper doesn't give repeats - that is, it would be really useful if it said every time a programme is on, because a few are repeated more than once..  I suppose it's on iPlayer otherwise, he'll see it one way or another.

This morning, church was lovely because a friend came along - we hadn't lost touch, but she and her husband (from whom she separated about a year ago) used to be part of our congregation for several years until they started going to another church where there were more children, for their own two's sake.  She is a lovely girl, young enough to be my daughter of course, but we are very fond of each other and I do hope she'll come again sometimes.  It just feels right for her to be there.

Tonight, depressingly enough, I broke a tooth.  I wasn't doing anything, just eating a piece of apple.  It's a back tooth.  I'll phone the dentist in the morning.  I think he can fill rather than crown it - let's hope so, that'd be at least half an iPad-worth.

For some years, I judged the cost of things by their value in Lowestoft china - "that's only a cracked teabowl" or "that's a decent teapot.'  The cost of the Sage's vestas is too variable, they could cost a few pounds or quite a lot.  He had left a bid on one for tonight and, when I got an email to say he'd been outbid, I rang to ask if he wanted me to bid again.  He said not.  Don't know why, it was less than half a crown.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Travelling Sage

The Sage is off on his travels again.  He has an appointment in Sussex on Monday morning, so rather than leave at an absurd hour (and get on to the M25 in the rush hour), he's going to stay with Wink in Wiltshire tomorrow and leave at a rather less stupid o'clock on Monday morning.

Of course, he didn't tell me this.  He started in a roundabout fashion until, I worked it out.  "Fine, good idea," I said airily - which it is, although actually he might as well stay in a hotel near his destination, Wiltshire being a very long way round.  But it's a good excuse to drop in and see Wink.  And, knowing him, he'll think of a couple of other friends to call on while he's about it.

So tomorrow will be quiet around here.  I wonder what I'll find to do.

Friday, 25 March 2011


We have had a very jolly evening.  The family next door was out in our garden (they have a fenced-off garden for safety, with young children, but our garden is theirs) this evening when the Sage had a phone call to say that the front field was to be fertilised in a short while, so we all strolled across it to unlock the gate,  Later, we watched the tractor squirting out the liquid feed from its hindermost parts.  Dilly said that they were planning to have a Thai takeaway for tea, and would we like to join them? - which wasn't an invitation that took long to answer.  I took through a bottle of wine and we had a very cheerful evening.

Earlier in the day, I had been chatting to Al and he said that he'd asked Squiffany what was her best present.  Pugsley confidently answered for her, her scooter, but she wasn't so sure.  "I really like my scooter, but I think my gardening tools are best.  They are real tools, not toys."  I'd been unsure about their thrill-value, so I'm extremely happy to hear that.

The Sage is still happily chatting to Al, and Dilly has fallen asleep (she's seven months pregnant, bear in mind) on the sofa, so I've come back through to say hello to you.

This weekend, Ro and his friend Zain will be in Brussels.  They both have some holiday to use up before the end of the month so will go for a very sober jolly - Zain being teetotal and Ro unbothered by the prospect of sobriety.  Weeza and Phil are visiting Phil's parents in the Midlands for his mum's birthday. I'm not sure what they're planning next door, we haven't got particular plans either.  Pretending to garden, I daresay.  Next weekend, it's both Weeza and Al's birthdays.  Having started on present-buying, I smugly believe I'm sorted, but I'm not.  Only a few bits and pieces.  We're all meeting up at a restaurant between here and Norwich on the Sunday, in between the two birthdays, for a jolly - on Mothering Sunday, so four of the eight of us will be in receipt of pampering.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Thursday's post

What do you mean, it's half past ten on Friday morning?  Not if I say it isn't.

I am cracking slightly under the various things I have to do.  In an exchange of emails last night, the final one to me ended 'see you tomorrow morning."  I replied to the rest of the mail, then added "what's happening tomorrow morning?" before remembering, fortunately before sending it, that I'd asked for the meeting at 8.30.  I asked for it during the afternoon.  This high level of organisation lark isn't really for me. Not in an ongoing fashion, at any rate, though I can jump to it in a crisis.

The Sage's computer skills are coming on no end and he confidently deals with all his own emails now.  He did have a tendency to write them to himself or draft and not send, but this has been dealt with by giving him a googlemail account instead of his hotmail one (I do not use the address that comes with the provider in case we change; you cannot persuade people to delete an old email address) - gmail has a far easier layout to understand.  However, a few minutes ago, he asked me for someone's address.  "Just start putting his name in and it'll come up from your address list," I advised.  A few minutes later I went to check ... he'd googled him instead.  I explained again the difference between googling, looking up an address or phone number, and emailing, and advised him again to use the correct word each time.  Every time he wants me to look up a phone number,  he asks me to google it and thinks I'm no end pedantic when I ask if he wants me to look on BT.  But if you say it correctly you're more likely to do the right thing automatically.  Like, if you mispronounce a word you are less likely to remember how to spell it.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Soo Thing

I'm so sorry darlings, if you've been looking for me.  It's well after midnight, although I shall probably backdate this so that I don't receive plaintive protests that a day has vanished from our lives.

I have been writing letters.  Not for fun, unfortunately.  I've only just finished.  The whole evening vanished - well, four hours of it at any rate.  I did take a few minutes to open that box of chocolate bars and have a little gloat.  Just the descriptions make me dribble gently ... "Culture Shock" - white chocolate with ginger and chilli.  "Spice it up" - dark chocolate with dragon ginger.  "Sea Dog" - dark chocolate with lime and sea salt - and several others.  I got a hand-written note thanking me for my order - I'm not surprised! - and an invitation to be an agent, which I shall not follow up.

One can tell it's spring, in this house, when the death watch beetle start tapping.  I know, I mention this every year.  Today was the day.  If we can pinpoint the place, the Sage makes a hole in the wall and pours in Rentokill.

Tomorrow morning, I shall have my hair cut.  How sad is it that I'm thinking, jolly good, I don't have to wash it first thing.

Do you know, I think I shall take the smallest of snifters up to drink in the bath.  And I shall light a few candles because I always find that soothing.   Not that I'm in need of soothing exactly, it's just that I like to slump for a bit to unwind that vastly overactive brain for a while before sleep and I haven't done so, so a good sooth might bypass the necessity.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Quite quiet

Today has, as I expected, been much better, although I didn't sleep last night.  Couple of hours, I suppose, then I answered emails, skipped through Facebook and played games.  I am relaxing determinedly tonight, having made risotto for supper, played the new Angry Birds game and read the paper.  As soon as I've written this, I'll read a book for the rest of the evening - work can wait until tomorrow.

You might gather that I like games.  Yes.  I always have.  My mother didn't and nor did my father, expect patience (card games, that is, his favourite was Scorpion).  If ever you could get my mother on a tennis court she was rather good, but it was rare, and she never joined in board games or even cards, as far as I remember.  I, on the other hand, happily joined in with everything my children wanted to play.  I haven't quite grown up yet,  That is, not at all, scrub the 'not quite'.  Now, of course, I rely on my phone, because the Sage is grown up too.

Nothing at all in my diary tomorrow.  I might, as Dave suggests, pretend to garden and dig little areas for my favourite chicken to scratch around.

Monday, 21 March 2011


In the days when I was chairman of a Nadfas society and it was down to me to give a vote of thanks, I used to latch on to names, facts and individual pictures to mention - it's my experience that remembering and linking a few facts gives the impression that you remember every word.  One of today's slides that I certainly would have mentioned appreciatively was this one.  The picture wasn't quite so full-on, but quite enough.  Hmmmm.

It was a whole day event with three lectures, but I couldn't stay after lunch, as I had to get back to a funeral - not going to say more there, the circumstances were deeply upsetting but I'm an onlooker, not a sufferer.  Then a meeting at the school, I came home tired and a bit drained and seem to have had a couple of glasses of wine without really noticing.  At least the kilo of Montezuma chocolate that I ordered has turned up - although most of it is for Weeza (don't tell her) and I'm not opening it tonight anyway.  I have, at any rate, been very appreciative of my dear kind Sage - not that I needed more kindness than usual, but others did.

Chocolate after all, perhaps?  Maybe.  Although, I also have a pineapple.  Which to choose?  I'm genuinely undecided.  Possibly neither after all.  Who knows?

Back to riotous good cheer tomorrow, darlings.  You get me in every mood, lucky people.  I appreciate your friendship, and thank you for it.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

VI Squiffany

She seems to be taller every time I see her.  She has a missing top front tooth and the other is loose - 'hanging by a thread', we used to say rather horribly when I was little and a loosening lower tooth too.  Her hair is blonde and very wavy, she loves school, writing, drawing and making things and she is kind and motherly with other children, confident but fairly quiet with adults.  She's just had the stabilisers taken off her bike and is very pleased about that, but her newest love is her scooter.  Today, my lovely little girl is six.

Our good friend Jamie called round with his nephew, Richard, who is going to do preparatory work on our drive.  It's 100 yards, or possibly metres - I haven't measured - long and needs resurfacing, but we want to widen it too, so Richard is going to get it ready for Alan, who will do the top-surfacing.  Jamie had other news of interest, which would be excellent for us, but I'll tell you if it happens.

The birthday season has started - Al and Weeza's are next and then Wink's, all in April.  Zerlina approves of birthdays, as you know her bear, Barry has regular Happy Days, when he is sung to.  She didn't join in the singing today, but watched us all and beat time with her right band.

The other news is that our latest catalogue is up on the website,  I think there's a link on the sidebar.  Less than three weeks to go now.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Egg pro quo

I've taken a day off.  After an overnight frost, it was a beautiful warm, sunny day and a Saturday too, sometimes work has to wait.  I went in to see Al and Dilly first thing because they were going out (meeting friends at the Dinosaur Park, friends' little boy's birthday treat too) and they assured me that Squiffany would love gardening tools above all things.  So we've bought a good-quality child-size rake, trowel and hand fork, a container with a lid and a handle to put them in (it's actually a kitchen compost bin, but it was easier to handle than the tool-holders on offer) and some seeds.  I thought I might take her out for tea one day after school and she could choose some flowers as well, there's a lovely tea room at the garden centre, where Gemma makes the most gorgeous cakes.  Actually, we might all go, don't you think?  Or maybe a Granny/Squiffany thing....hmmm....I'll see what she says.

This afternoon, I pottered around in the veg garden tidying up a bit.  When you come here, you might be a bit disappointed at the veg garden.  I'm rather taking a year off.  For eight years I've been growing stuff for the shop, for 35 years I've grown lots of vegetables, apart from the odd year or two, and I want a break.  I'll just grow a few things and mostly put the ground to potatoes.  It'll be a load off, actually, although I know I'll miss it.  Just some runner and french beans, broad beans, tomatoes, sweet corn, spinach and swiss chard, whatever else I fancy, a few tomatoes etc in the greenhouse, some salad, and that'll be it.

My favourite chicken came into the garden with me.  A glossy brown, she is often on her own, having twigged that she can find choice treats and not have to share them.  She is very tame with me and the Sage and, seeing her scratch around in a bed, I fetched a garden fork and dug over some clods of earth for her.  She was very pleased and came straight over to look for worms.  I sat down to watch her, basking in the sunshine.  Every few minutes, I turned over a new forkful.  She let me feed her and stroke her, and we were perfectly happy for half an hour or so, until the Sage came and said he'd made tea and bought macaroons.  I left her scratching about for a while before her bedtime and, when the Sage came back from shutting the bantams up for the night, he brought an egg that she had laid for us.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Nearly midnight

Oh dear, my notes from the meeting covered eleven pages.  I shall, of course, condense them into two at most.  Thing is, you don't know what's going to have to be put down until the debate is over - fear not, I won't do 'he said, she said' sort of minutes.  A few main points and the conclusions will be all.

I can't help thinking about the cheerful Japanese family I passed in Piccadilly last week as I was going down from the RA towards Waterstone's.  There was a shop with intricately shaped sweets or cakes or something, very Oriental in style, I didn't really take much notice, but these people coming the other way were very pleased to notice it and stopped to look in the window.  I didn't wait to notice if they went in, but they looked as if they were having such a good time.  Whatever must they feel like now?  I've been thinking about them all week, still seeing them as a mental snapshot.

Thursday, 17 March 2011


I should never have taken on the job of secretary to this area (three counties, twenty-five societies) in Nadfas.  I thought I was reasonably sensible, but I've proved to be totally inept.  I am embarrassed and, frankly, humiliated, but humility is a good thing, even if humiliation doesn't feel like one.

This evening, I had an email to say that a document hadn't been received, that I'd sent out last night.  So I resent* to all the society chairmen; if one hadn't had it then maybe all hadn't - damn Hotmail doesn't show all the people you've sent a document to, only the first line of them, and there were over forty.  Then I had a second email, saying that she had had it after all.  I replied, saying, don't worry, I had to write again with some amendments (not corrections, none of them was a mistake, for once).

"the more stupid I am, the kinder people will be," I explained to her.

I've just had an email back.  ""I can't wait to meet you!" she says.

I realise that I have been put on this earth to make people feel good about themselves.  They can forgive me, because I'm so obviously harmless, and feel pleasantly superior.  I really, really wish that I didn't have to feel quite such an underdog.

All I have to do is remember to print out a whole lot of stuff first thing tomorrow morning, and to note my expenses - mileage at 40p a mile is quite sufficient, whatever people say, unless they keep a car entirely for duty driving.  In that case, you have to take depreciation and original cost into account, but if you would have that car anyway, you'd b paying for it and for its insurance anyway. Sure, there's wear and tear, to tyres and so on, but that's still allowed for, if not so generously.  I remember some years ago, driving to Scarborough and being embarrassed by the huge petrol allowance I received, over four times what I'd spent.

I called on Weeza and Zerlina after lunch in Norwich.  Little z went to pre-school today - she's been once with W, but this was the first time she'd been left.  Weeza had a lovely morning to herself and z was keen to tell me what a good time she'd had.  They are coming over here on Sunday, because it's Squiffany's birthday.  I still haven't bought her a present.  A bit at a loss.  They are really trying to make some space, because of the expected baby, so don't want toys or anything bulky.  I'll be in Bury all day tomorrow, so will have to go shopping on Saturday.


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Z used to be indecisive...

I'm so sorry to have dithered, but the good news is that some people for whom the 1st wasn't possible can make it on the 2nd, so please change the date in your diary to that.  And I won't change my mind again because that would be really annoying, except to Roses who is now feeling left out.

Not counting our family but including us, I think we're up to fifteen, maybe sixteen, already.  How jolly.  I've met a number of bloggers, but always individually - well, plus non-blogging other half once.  I never would have believed that I'd be quite so excited about meeting a lot of people whom I've never even spoken to, some of whose names I don't know, but who all know really quite a lot about me and in some cases, each other.

Right, okay.  We'll firm up, as they say, arrangements in a while and I'll have to make sure you all know my address.  Because otherwise it would be a bit silly.

I didn't get to bed until 3 o'clock this morning, which was also a bit silly, so I may keel over in a couple of hours.  Funny, how you wake up at the same time in the morning, regardless of when you go to sleep.  Or does that habit just come with age?

Hold you hard we say in Norfolk.  Do keep 1st May free, but I'm trying to find a day when most people can come, including those who are only briefly in the country.  As it's a holiday weekend, might Monday 2nd be a possibility?  And for the lucky among us, is Friday 13th any good?  It may still be Sunday 1st, though.  I promise to confirm within a day or two, but phone calls are winging across the continents.  Continent, at any rate.

Would you say which days you could make, of the 1st, 2nd and 14th?  Dave has kindly agreed to give his (look-forward to bi-annual get-together) a miss if the 14th suits everyone else.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

What a carry-on

The Sage came into the room, bearing a china plate.  "I found a beautiful cock pheasant by the side of the road," he said.  I looked at the plate of meat.  "It seemed a shame to waste it," he explained.

Dear friend Lynn is digging deep and getting deeper with every email.  In one of her books, not Rosa Mundi but the lighter one, she has written a short humorous poem poking fun at blogging.  I mentioned it, and that she won't put me off blogging at all as I'm quite unrepentant after all these years.  So she apologised hastily, saying that she doesn't mean good blogs about something, and that I probably write about Lowestoft china, but the sort of blog that witters on and - oh, I can't resist a quote - "I just meant that, doing research on art, I keep coming across terrific pictures of things on the Google image bit, only to find that they're mired in some beastly blog of someone's holiday in Moldova, where they don't tell you which museum they were in, or where the thing is, or even - often - who it's by or what its date is, because they've then gone on to a photo of their aunt eating a pizza or something." Now isn't that me to a T?  I'm thinking of that absurd post I wrote the other day, randomly saying which statues I'd liked at the RA exhibition, only to discover too late that none of them was illustrated on the website so I couldn't show you any images at all.  Too funny.  I've written back, of course, explaining that my blog is just the sort that she can't bear, but I still don't care.  I trust she will put her spade down...

I'm tentatively planning the Wall Party.  At present, it seems likely to be Sunday, May 1st - though it occurs to me that's a Bank Holiday weekend, and immediately after the royal wedding.  Does that make it better or worse for anyone?  It could be the Monday, as it is a holiday.  The other possible day for me had been Saturday 14th, but Dave is not free.  You are all invited, really, I'd love you to come, even if you never comment and I don't know you're reading - though an indication would be good so I know you're coming (blog names are fine).  Vegetarians, carnivores, any allergies or pickiness (which is not intended as a rude term, there's nothing wrong with being a picky eater) all catered for.  Partners, naturally, included, and if your other half would prefer a proper invitation in the post, let me know, because I take Lynn's point, blogging to non-bloggers is weird.  My other quandary is, do I invite real-life friends too, or is that just asking for deep, deep embarrassment on my part.

I live on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, a lift from the railway station could probably be arranged (half an hour's drive from Diss or Norwich, but it'd be easier to arrange one or the other rather than both), reverse Yagnub for the nearest town to know the distance from you if driving.  I'm thinking of lunchtime onwards because Dave won't be able to get here much before 1 o'clock.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Go to bed Zed

I hate to quit so soon, but I think I'm going to have an early night.  Things started poorly this morning, when I had an automated call from the bank doing a security check.  I tapped in my details while running around barefoot calling for the Sage, but he hadn't heard me by the time I was due to authorise, or not, the cheque that I hadn't written but he probably had - anyway, by the time it was all sorted out, I had confirmation that it is all right for the other person on a joint account to put in my details.  So next time, he can do it.

Between us, we've got rather a lot of bank accounts.  There's mine, his, ours, his but it's a joint account in case he wants me to use it, and probably a few others I've forgotten about.  Not different accounts with the same bank, each with a different bank.  I'm not sure why we do this.  At least, if ever we were to have a disagreement with one bank, we'd just stop using it and not have the big annoying changeover.

Most of the morning was spent on the phone, which wasn't my doing as all calls were received and, unusually, all for me.  Unwisely, I made one call myself at the end of the morning, to register my receipt of a new Barclaycard.  This was done in moments, but then the woman with a strident voice gave me a long spiel, which turned out to be a sales pitch for protection against computer fraud.  I let her go on for a silly amount of time, until she mentioned the cost, *only* £79.99 ... what?  I'd have to examine my current legal liabilities carefully, bearing in mind that I don't use computer banking, use PayPal where available, remember my PINs and passwords rather than write them down  and, although I recognise that anyone's account can be hacked into, I am as cautious as I feel I can be - and she was way over-pushy.  When I refused her service, she tried to sell me a £40 one.  Hm.  I gave her a lesser-used email address to send me the stuff - which I haven't received - and went to take paracetamol.  I felt that she was behaving rather worse than the regular cold-caller, and it wasn't what I'd expect from Barclaycard.

Tomorrow, the Finance committee meeting.  Better be good, I'm missing a Nadfas lecture for it, one I wanted to go to.  It's the meeting when we go through the budget for the next year, I can't miss it.  Rather amazingly, we've got a budget that balances, which a lot of schools haven't this year.  I know we'll also discuss Academy status again, preparatory to a decision by the governors in ten days.  The Head and I met Union reps today.  It's not altogether surprising that I'm tired out, although it is good to know that the staff do trust the Head and governors.  Anyhoo.  I'm off to bed.  The Sage is already asleep, laptop on lap - it's like a teddy bear to him, really.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

The lost dog has been found

I was absolutely dismayed, darlings, when I woke up at 6.15 this morning, because my alarm was set for 6.45.  I did doze for a while, however, before I had to get up, and I was out of the house before 7.30, face in place and teeth mumbled into place.

The day has been absolutely fine, with a nice blend of doing nothing, having a good time and getting a bit of work done.  Still the last bit of work to do, but I have to borrow the Sage's laptop again to finish.  I did do most of it already but, although I find using a laptop okay at the time, it makes my back and eyes ache.  I like a good distance between keyboard and screen, and being hunched up for a while isn't good.

There is good news, and several of you have said that you are waiting to hear it.  Mike phoned this evening, to say that the little dog is reunited with its owner - you see how I start with the end and don't keep you in suspense?  I'm marvellous, don't you think.  He and Ann had put posters up in all the outlying villages, and there had been several sightings of the terrier, and many attempts to catch or tempt her, but she wouldn't be caught.  Then her owner arrived home, and said that she reckoned that little Holly wouldn't go to anyone but her.  She got back home last night, and this morning, someone rang Mike to say that Holly was in Hempnall churchyard.  The owner went straight there - after so many trapping attempts, Holly was quite prickly, but at last she allowed herself to be picked up, and she's safe and well with her owner, who was very kind and understanding about the whole situation.  Thank you for caring, loves, you are so kind.

There is a side-story.  On Saturday morning, friends called round in their vintage car and wanted to take Mike and Ann for a joy-ride.  The phone rang, saying that a stray dog had been seen at Topcroft, without a collar, in the road.  It was decided that the joy-ride should be to Topcroft.  The dog wasn't Holly, but it was in the road, looking clueless but friendly ... the upshot was, Mike and Ann took him home.  They phoned the RSPCA, police and rescue centres, to general hilarity.  "You've lost a dog, you've found a dog ... all sorted!" was the general view.  They already have two dogs, plus visitors, they don't really want to keep him, so they're hoping the owner turns up.  I've said no, in case you're wondering.  I don't want a dog who wanders.  I need a dog that I can teach to come home.  I wouldn't mind Mike and Ann's little spaniel, mind you, she's adorable.  But, sad to say, I'm not up for a challenge, right now.  I just want a dog to love, that loves me too.  I'll train it, I'll be tolerant of naughtiness, but there's limit to the amount of wilfulness I'm interested in dealing with.  I'm wilful enough for any dog or man.  Although, if the Sage plays his cards right, I'm really quite biddable.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Ziki (but no leaks)

I checked out where Roses lived on my phone, and was able to park at the end of the road.  I recognised the house by the rebuilt (by Dave) wall, and was able to greet Boy by name when he opened the door, because I've seen it on Facebook.  There's no room for secrecy, where Z is concerned.  Although, to be fair, Roses had told me her address and invited me for lunch.

And lunch, plus coffee, lasted for over three hours.  If you've met her, you'll know that she's fabulous company, and if you haven't, don't lose any opportunity.  I had so much fun, and thank you very much, Roses darling xxx

If I had any sense at all, I would be doing some work now, because it would save me having to explain not having yet done it by tomorrow lunchtime.  Hm.  The jury is genuinely out, at present.  It doesn't help that I need to borrow the Sage's laptop to do it, because there's a programme I have to use that I haven't got on my computer.  I suppose that I could do everything else, and get it all ready to go, and finalise it in the morning.  I could.  I might, indeed, although this is the third day that I haven't glanced at the newspapers.

It's slightly worrying, that I never seem to do one thing - that is, it's not unusual to be listening to the radio or music, using the computer, using the phone to check emails or Facebook or play a game (if a website takes a while to load with our slow Broadband, I do something else while I'm waiting), whilst I've got a newspaper or book open.  But thinking about it, I've never *just* watched television, but read at the same time, and indignantly denied that I'm not fully engaged with both.

Gosh.  The Sage bought a pie at the bakery.  I omitted to mention that I had pudding at lunchtime, but accepted a small piece - he was going to give me a quarter, but I took half of that.  I've just observed him polishing off the last piece.  He never puts on a pound either.  Infuriating.

Friday, 11 March 2011


I enjoyed the exhibition, although I thought it was a bit thin for £12, especially considering that many of the pieces are on loan from the British Museum, where they are freely on view.  Last exhibition I paid that for, there were dozens of fabulous Picassos on view, worth a lot more (and gathered from further afield, and much more fragile) than most of these.  However, I thought it had been well put together.  I particularly liked the "Theft by Finding" room, where ancient sculptures were put against similar modern ones for comparison.  The wooden Narcissus, a flower given a human form, I found fascinating.  The duck weight, I can't remember from where but it dated from 2,000-1500 BC, was probably my favourite piece of all.  I loved its simplicity and that the maker had bothered to make a functional object into a sculpture; also that he had obviously had to do it within the constraints of its weight.

In the room with ceramic objects, I glanced at one cabinet and didn't like it much, and the other and liked it very much - and yet, they weren't that different to look at.  I just don't get English 'between the wars' pottery, Bernard Leach and the like.  The other cabinet, which held Chinese ceramics, I was drawn to.  Hard to explain, even to myself.  Also in that room was Barbara Hepworth's Three Forms, which I love.  The next room was given over to two large statues, one by Hepworth and one by Henry Moore, and I can never get too much of either of them.  Then there was a room with a hanging installation of sheets of coloured perspex, which I liked, and then one with a large construction of bolted-together metal, painted red, which I didn't.  I mean, not much to dislike, just meh.  I liked the long pavement of chalk rocks, and the hanging street-like thingy with stuck-on half bricks and bottle, but not the 120 bricks.  I rather liked Damien Hirst's fly-blown barbecue, but would have liked it better had it been disgustingly crawling with maggots...what?  No, go on, you have to have been there.  I liked the photograph of the artist, wearing a pleated skirt and doing a handstand on a beach - "a discrepancy between the felt position and the seen position" - which reminded me of the shell sculpture by Maggie Hambling on the beach at Aldeburgh, although (not having looked it up) I don't suppose they look the same in the least.

All in all, I don't find that it's necessarily the age or the form of a piece of sculpture that matters to me.  Knowing nothing, I just react.  I am dreadfully inartistic, but if I could do anything I would like to sculpt.  I'm too ham-fisted to try, and too ignorant to know what I'd want to do and be frustrated by a lack of skill.

I didn't buy anything in the shop, although I was tempted by small mugs decorated with delightful Tracy Emin sketches of birds and cats.  I think.

Not much of an art critic, hey.  Heh.  Unless you've seen it, you won't have much clue what I'm talking about, either.  Sorry, darlings.

Tomorrow, I venture to Norwich to visit Roses.  Am I not a lucky Z?

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Z buys books

Home again, darlings, I'm sure you'd have missed me frightfully if you'd known I'd been away.  I went to London for the afternoon and evening.  Just got back.  I went to a sculpture exhibition at the Royal Academy and then to my friend Lynn's book launch.  It was so good to see her, we haven't met since Weeza's wedding, which will be six years ago in August.  She only lives in Tunbridge Wells, there's no good reason not to see each other more often but we never get around to it.

Her poems are extremely impressive.  I expected a lot, but they surpassed expectations.  The subject matter surprised me, being Mary.  Yes, that Mary, and from her perspective - I was going to put in a couple of quotations, but I'd end up with whole poems, I don't want to diminish them with a soundbite.  She also had a small anthology of lighter poems, which I also bought ... several copies of both.  I made her sign copies of each for all my children!

Her family asked me to stay on and have supper with them, but I couldn't, because I was booked on the 9 o'clock train home.  I shared a table with three cheerful blonde women, two of whom had been shopping and the third who works in London.  She said, she's about to renew her season ticket and it'll cost over £5,000.  £5,400, I think she said.  Ouch.  They all got out at Ipswich.  The one with the season ticket is training to run the London Marathon.  The other two had various shopping bags and had evidently had a successful day...

All I bought were books.  Lynn's, and before that, since I'd had twenty minutes spare I'd wandered into Waterstone's, where the habit of a lifetime overtook me and I bought three novels.  Since I'd taken two books to read on the train, I hardly needed to, but I was unable to prevent myself.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Practically Z

Incoherence dipped to a new low last night - actually, that's not right, is it - I mean, coherence dipped or incoherence soared.  I was sober but tired, a poor combination.

We received our census form yesterday.  I have no objection to filling it in, it's rather less intrusive than many of the questions that many businesses ask.  For the first time in our marriage, we will just fill it in for the two of us.  I remember the last time, taking some time to work out how many rooms there are in the house and I'll have to do it again - it's a bit odd because a bathroom isn't counted but a utility room is.  Our bathroom is fairly large, having been converted from a bedroom (in 1960, when the Sage's sister got married), but we've a very small utility room that I wouldn't really have counted at all, which is smaller and less of a room-like space than the hall, the cloakroom or the landing, none of which is counted and all of which are converted from rooms.  Still.  Maybe this is an unusual house.

On Dave's blog, he was talking about his ideal house and its location and, in the comments, daydreaming as a comfort or therapy was mentioned.  That would be the opposite of therapy for me - a 'safe place' in my mind would not feel safe or comforting if it were unattainable.  For that reason, I can think more easily about what I wouldn't like in a house rather than what I would - which is rather the same attitude, now I think about it, that I took when talking about an ideal holiday and an ideal dog.  I started with what I don't want.

Friends of ours look after dogs for their owners when they are on holiday - in their home, it's a fairly informal arrangement, not a boarding kennel.  They have two dogs themselves, one a charming little spaniel, very small, that I love, and the other a black, setter-shaped one, which is a delightful dog but which is untrainable, especially around chickens which it kills, and I wouldn't have at any price.  Our friends have run into a problem.  This week's dog, which is a small terrier of the Jack Russell type, managed to get out of their back yard by squeezing through a space they didn't think any dog could get through.  They can't now find it, and the owner is due back tomorrow.  Apparently, she never lets it off the lead when it's out, as it can't be trusted not to run off.  I'd see no point in having a dog that I couldn't take for a run off the lead.  It would be no pleasure for me or the dog.  Trust, and freedom within understood parameters, is fundamental.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Z's daily blather

School dinner again today, a chilli vegetable stew with rice.  Particularly good.  School meals are one of the things we decided the County service wasn't up to scratch over, a few years ago, so took it in-house.  Our greater efficiency meant that we were able to serve better ingredients and larger quantities for the same price, and so we break even, which is what we aim to do. In the summer term, when there are fewer pupils because of exams, retired people from sheltered housing complex estates are invited in for lunch, which everyone seems to enjoy.

The sale catalogues are printed, so the Sage is spending much of his time stuffing envelopes.  He writes a note to a lot of the people on the mailing list, so he does most of the work.  Our spring auction is earlier than usual, the second Friday in April rather than the last, chosen because of Easter and the next Bank Holiday weekend - the announcement of the royal wedding day came later but reinforced our decision.

Interestingly, I found cycling much easier this morning - it must be because of the warmer weather.  There are a couple of clumps of violets that the chickens haven't pecked, and the buds are showing colour, if white can be so called, on the blackthorn.  I love the sight of its white blossom against the leafless branches,

I just heard on the news that the police are planning a large demonstration against job and wage cuts.  I don't get into politics here, so no comment - but the thought quis custodiet ipsos custodes? was irresistible.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Apple Pigs and Apple Pads

Isn't it great when you form a link with someone?  You make a slightly obscure reference, and someone  recognises it and greets it with enthusiasm - that has happened with Belgian Waffle and me.  She referred to a favourite book from her young childhood, and I was able to reply, not only that my children had the book, but that it was right next to me, because I now read the same book to my grandchildren.  And so I promised her that I'd post some photos of it, because it's out of print and her copy has long ago disappeared.

I'm afraid that the second photo down is out of focus, and none of them is great, but things happened and I didn't get around to taking the pictures in daylight, and finally took them with a phone against my ear on the drawing room carpet.  The book on the carpet, not the phone or the ear.  It is a delightful book and I hope it might be reissued one day, perhaps by a company such as Lulu, which prints to order. Weeza's favourite book as a toddler, Smith the Lonely Hedgehog, by Althea Braithewaite, was printed in that way and I bought Zerlina a copy plus a spare in case it ever was lost.

I have got as far as registering with Apple my interest in a new iPad.  They aren't taking orders yet.  I agreed with Weeza when she said that it won't change my life (sorry to sound overdramatic) in the way my phone has, because there isn't that much more of a change to make, in truth.  But I am looking forward to it immensely.  I also am looking forward to the absurdly grand gesture - the really good bargain to be had, at present, is to buy the original iPad at a reduced rate.  But, although I rarely indulge myself very much (you observe the careful qualification), when I do, I have little interest in being cautious.  I shall also buy myself a new printer, so that I can print from the iPad wirelessly, just because I can.  

Just because I can.  Hah.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Z has eaten rather too much

We had a most entertaining day.  Everyone was here in the afternoon and board games were brought through from next door and I provided cards, so that there were various things going on.  The dishwasher has been on twice today and there's still a stack of crockery waiting to make another load.

Tomorrow, I'm going to Norwich for lunch - a group of us are going to the City College, where the catering students choose a menu, cook and serve the food as part of their training.  It's very reasonable, £6.20 for a two-course meal - I haven't been there for some years, but it always used to be good.

Weeza asked Dilly if they have chosen a name yet for their baby - they haven't, it seems, and asked for suggestions.  Mine were Huckleberry (I'd relinquish the dog's name for the baby if necessary), Zephyr or Pericles.  At least, if they don't take me up on any of these, I can give the baby whatever blog name I like.

Saturday, 5 March 2011


I went to help John set up his new iPad today, which took a while.  He hadn't got iTunes and, although he had an Apple account, he didn't realise it and didn't know the password.  By the time all was sorted out, I had to come home so I left him with a manual on his computer and a suggestion that he practise, and that once he knows just what he wants, I'll be around again if he needs help.  I rather hope he will, admittedly, I haven't had nearly enough fun yet.

At least it's good experience for when I buy my iPad.  I have saved up and am ready to go, as soon as the crush has died down for the first iPad2 buyers.

Ro and Dora are coming over for a late lunch and Weeza, Phil and Zerlina for an early tea.  The two meals won't quite meet in the middle.  I need to go shopping in the morning for extras.  Weeza and I had a fine conversation this evening and I chortled a lot.  A woman and her daughter, a woman and her mother, can share and laugh about all sorts of things, including quite personal matters.  When Weeza was in her late teens, she was telling me stuff and I was a bit "errr" and she said "Mum, I'm treating you as a friend, not as a mother," and it realigned my thoughts somewhat.

You know I went to the zoo the week before last? - it was with John's son and family - well, since then he (the son) has had acute appendicitis and an operation.  Apparently, the appendix burst as it was being removed - John said he thought I would want to know all the details - of course, I knew you would too...ew... anyway, it was all right and he's home again, though not much chance of a rest with three young children.

Sandy thought, from my measured and careful comments, that I'd gone off the idea of the school applying for independence as an academy.  No indeed, I haven't.  It's just that I have to remember that my maverick tendencies aren't for everyone, so I have to be sure that my preference is backed up by facts.  As I'm the most cautious maverick that anyone could hope to find, that is not at all unlikely.  But I'll have an open mind to the end - even past the governors' decision, because nothing is final until the last paper is signed.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Springing up again

Thank you for your comments on yesterday's post, and particular thanks to Chris for sending the Spring - it's been a beautiful day today - and to Rog for his sound sense.  I usually listen to podcasts when I've missed something, I've not got into the way of subscribing, but it's the obvious thing to do now that there's nothing to listen to at the time I want to turn on the radio.  I have acted on the suggestion and now have a nice little array of programmes on the phone ready to entertain me.  In fact, I've heard some of them already today.

My car's battery was flat again yesterday and the Sage gave me a lift.  Today, it has a new battery.  And we've reattached the bicycle brake - a cable had come apart.  I've phoned and paid for my car insurance, and told the man on the end of the phone (who answered at once, there wasn't even time for the announcement to say that my call would be taken shortly) that I was pleased with the reasonable quote and hadn't looked any further.  The excess has gone up, but I've never actually had a claim and, although it can happen at any time of course, I'd probably rather have a lower premium rather than a lower excess that I may never use.  Um, and I've made an appointment at the bank to put the vast (modest) sums of money that have accrued in my current account somewhere.  I've defrosted a fridge.  I've filled in a form that's been glaring malevolently at me for the last few days and I signed a letter to go out to school parents on Monday.  I didn't write it on this occasion, though.  So I've got the day-to-day admin out of the way before the weekend.  Jolly good.

The other thing that I just remembered was that there were new levels due out this evening on iAssociate and I've just downloaded them.  So that will entertain me for the rest of the evening.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Z is not herself

I don't miss listening to The Archers in the least, and I really, really don't want to start again.  The memory of the lives of all those people whom I don't care about, some of whom are quite annoying, makes me wonder why I retained the listening habit for so long - except, that it's something to do while I'm getting dinner ready.  And listening to voices on the radio while I cook is something I like.  Music isn't the same, and a spoken book isn't the same.  And I liked Front Row, which followed it, and now I don't think to switch that on.  Digital reception is poor in this house, and I have to keep the digital radio on a windowsill to use it at all, and I'm not going to keep unplugging it and taking it back and forth.  It's not worth buying a second when I hardly ever use it, because of the bad reception and because I still often can't find a spoken programme I want to listen to other than Radio 4.

This evening, I had a break while waiting for the food to finish cooking, and saw that The Culture Show was halfway through on BBC2 and came in and switched it on.  First there was a photographer, who mostly seemed to be detaching his emotions for his job as a photographic journalist who saw and recorded terrible things.  Then there was a bloke with a thing about whales.  The importance of whales in art, history and literature was rather wildly overstated (Genesis, where a whale isn't actually mentioned, Moby Dick and some scrimshaw haven't really made them the iconic subject over the centuries he and his interviewer tried to paint them) and then pictures of whaling ships came on.  I never quite got what the interviewee had done to be interviewed about, but by this point I didn't care. The television was switched off and won't be turned on again tonight.  Agreed, I'm a bad tempered old bat, but I don't think some entertainment at 7.30 is an unreasonable hope.  Of course, the rest of the programme might have been splendid, but it wasn't entertaining.

I mislaid the tv remote control a few weeks ago, so I have to turn it on and off by the buttons at the back.  It's rather good really, it means that you only bother to turn it on for something you really want to watch (apart from this evening, and I soon was reminded of my mistake).  Next month I will buy a tv licence, and in the summer I shall send it back again for a refund - unless the free licence concession for over 75s has been revoked without my noticing.  If it weren't for that, I seriously doubt whether I'd bother having a television at all.  I don't suppose the quality has suddenly got markedly worse, I think it's me.  I've seen enough and I've read enough.  By broadening my musical taste considerably, I'm still engaged with listening to it, and I also like listening to voices (not ones inside my head, darlings, do bear with me) but I that's about it.  And now I've gone off alcohol, it seems to be the last straw.  I'm no longer the person I used to be.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Decorative Art

I went to a lecture today about Cassandré, the man who designed these posters.  Really interesting, one knows so much more about the art than the man.  Apart from his being French (although born in the Ukraine and spending much of his childhood there), I knew nothing.

When I went to the computer this morning (I read comments on the phone but generally reply to them from here, as one has to sign in every time which is a nuisance), there was no internet connection, so I assumed that we'd had a brief power cut in the night and the booster needed resetting.  That wasn't it, however, and I wasn't able to get online again before leaving the house.  I said to the Sage, I can't find anything obviously wrong, maybe it's the external connection.  And indeed, when he came home at lunchtime, he said that the whole town was off.  The Post Office and two of the banks were shut, although one was open and offering a limited service.  The shops were okay, as there was still electricity.

I was quite reassured, taking the view that it would all be repaired pretty soon, and so it was, but it must have been off for at least four hours.  Quite a nuisance for a business.  At least it wasn't a power cut.

I cycled in and found it very heavy going - it was quite windy, but even so...  As soon as I came home I pumped my bike tyres right up.  The Sage did it for me last time, but when Phil does it, I sail along afterwards.  Bumpily, but fast.  When I'd done it and was checking the bike over, I realised that one of the brake levers has rather come apart.  I'll have to have a word with Phil and ask if I can put it right myself or whether I'd better take the bike to the shop in town.  I'd ridden home without noticing, but I evidently mostly use the other brake.  Or maybe both of them.

I've got a couple of clear days, I realise.  And a free weekend.  My word.  I could do a whole lot of gardening.  I doubt I will, I admit.  I'm a fair-weather gardener and unashamed of it.  I have no intention of putting my back out or getting chilled - a girl gets cystitis in the cold, you know, and I get enough of that from biking in the winter.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Pan caked

What the Headteacher says about me, right, is that I sit there not saying anything, and then at the end I wham in with the sharp observation or question that shows I was taking it in all the time.  This is only part of the truth, of course, and a lot less than half.  Mostly it's that other people are speaking and I don't always get a chance, the other is that the less you say, the more what you do stands out.  Given half a chance, I waffle on with the rest.

As I said a while ago, the governors okayed looking into the school becoming an academy.  This will go back to them - us - later this month for a decision on whether to apply.  Our business manager spent half term researching and working on figures, and we had a meeting (Head, Deputy, Business Manager and me) this afternoon to discuss the latest.  After going through things, I said "so, what'd be good about staying as we are?"

Apparently, that focussed our minds and put it in a nutshell.  Who knew?  I just thought I was playing Devil's Advocate.  Good book, that.  Haven't read it for years.  But I digress.

Then there was another meeting, with heads and chairs of other schools and our head asked me to explain what the governors were doing, and of course someone then asked what were the advantages.  Ever heard me being eloquent, darlings?  I know, a retiring little blossom I am, a very primrose of modesty, so it's a rarity.  These are meetings where, because I know least, I say least.  Not for some minutes there this evening, however.

Although, as I concluded, I do have an open mind still.  The evidence points one way, and my personal inclination points the same way, but I'm clear about my reasons for both, and the balance could tip, if more evidence comes in.  Anyway, it's up to the governors, not me.

I finally rolled home at 7 o'clock this evening.  So I thought that the Sage deserved pancakes.