Sunday 31 August 2008

Lazy Sunday

Oh, I am not a friend to myself. If I were, I'd have done a bit of work today. As it is, I took the day off and therefore will have to do whole lots tomorrow evening when I'm tired. Stoopid, terribly terribly stoopid, but on the other hand I've taken a day off, so will say 'yay!' and, well, maybe I'll do a bit tonight. I have, at least, printed out the address labels from the mailing list and phoned in the orders for tomorrow's deliveries.

I was in bed before 10 o'clock last night and went straight to sleep. I was awake again at 3.30. I mused, in the next wakeful hour or so, that the old saying goes that an hour's sleep before midnight is worth two after. The saying doesn't say that it replaces that two hours. I was just too damn tired to get up though, and finally slept, if fitfully, until 8; and then had to belt about like nobody's business. Still, I took the papers out onto the lawn and slept this afternoon, which was rather enjoyable. It was very warm but the sun was mostly hidden behind hazy clouds so I don't seem to have been sunburnt...

Nor have I watered the greenhouses. I seem to be just opting out, and have done for a few weeks. No explanation, no excuse, just don't seem to care that much. There is a splendid crop of blackberries growing on the brambles at the end of the drive, which is quite enough reason not to cut them back for another few weeks. And to think that only a year ago I was working so hard with my pruning saw. Maybe not an exact year, really, we're not checking back are we? that's the trouble with a blog, we can check these things and it doesn't give me scope for broad and sweeping statements that may be not quite accurate.

Roast chicken for dinner tonight. And afterwards I had a chat with my girlie. The baby is fine and slept from 1 am until 5.30 and then again until a reasonable time and has been feeding well all day, so they feel they don't have to set an alarm to get up and wake her at night, which will make life easier. They're very lucky, I never had a baby sleep more than a couple of hours at a time, day or night, for the first several weeks.

Saturday 30 August 2008

Z mustn't sit down for long or she will fall asleep

I would like to put my feet up and have a little sleep. I didn't, much, last night for some reason - probably because I knew I was getting up early. I went up to wake the Sage just before 7 o'clock, but he didn't feel like rounding up a cattle at that time, so I went and read yesterday's paper for a while before going to the shop at 8.

Alice did well in her GCSEs, with A*s, As and Bs. So did her twin sister. I asked about the other twins, she said she knew one was pleased but hadn't seen the other (honestly, people can be a bit funny, if it were me I'd tell a friend how my sister had done - she must take after her father).

The day went fine, not wildly busy but we got a lot sold and I was glad, at 4 o'clock, to start to pack up after 8 hours on my feet - no coffee or lunch breaks, I eat and drink in between customers. Then, of course, a steady stream of people came in over the next 20 minutes, their requirements ranging from 1 banana to nearly £10-worth of fruit and veg. The Sage kindly came in to help me put away the shelving and after he'd gone I cashed up the takings. Usually we're open from 8.30 to 5.30 (though I get in early as I'm slower than Al at setting up) but we stay open until 7 of Fridays, closing early on Saturday to compensate.

My calves are tingling with achiness. I cycled home very slowly and plodded hobblingly into the house and drank a pint of water. I added ice cubes. I am a girl who knows how to have a good time. There had been a stall under the Buttercross (an ancient market place, it still has a market on Thursdays but the dome of the Buttercross itself houses a charity stall on Saturdays). I bought 4 children' books (the number refers to the volumes not the young people), two jigsaws and a fruit cake, for £4.90 and told them to keep the change. The lady's pleasure was way out of proportion to my gesture.

There were 3 punnets of raspberries left at the end of the day, so I have brought them home. Probably, we'll eat one today, one tomorrow and freeze one. I shall give some to the Sage with a piece of cake. He will be happy. He likes cake. I might eat some too. Or not. I'll have raspberries.

I will fall asleep if i sit here. I think I shall go and very slowly start to prepare dinner. Maybe a nice cup of tea while I'm doing so. After all, it's too early for wine.

Friday 29 August 2008

10 again

Are comments appearing in tiny print for everyone else, or is it just me? Not just on this blog, others too.

We're thinking that we'll bring Pinkie part of the way on the footpath. I said we had better go out at 6 or 6.30 - oh all right, but no later than 7 o'clock. The Sage still looked a bit glum. "I want to be in the shop working by 8" I explained. He suggested we could do it on Sunday, or another day. "It still has to be that early though, before people are driving past." Anyway, I'm setting the alarm for 6.

Tonight marked Progress in Z's diet, which has been ongoing for nearly 10 months now. I shall go back a bit and explain the whole thing.

Some 8 or 10 years before she died, when we were both staying with my sister for a week, we all went shopping and my mother bought a skirt. I liked it very much, but she saw it first and I encouraged her to buy it - but she never once wore it. I don't know why not; it was evidently one of those things one buys because it' s a bargain but turns out to be a false one. In those days, I could easily have fitted into it.

After she died, my sister and I sorted out her clothes and gave most of them to the charity shop, though we kept a few coats which had hardly been worn and other things - we were always cheerfully swapping clothes, so it didn't feel weird. Anyway, I kept this skirt, even though I couldn't wear it. I thought that one day I might slim down enough - pathetic, isn't it? That was more than 5 years ago.

So, a few weeks ago I tried it on and I could not only do the zip up but fasten the waistband too. And tonight I wore it. I'm vastly pleased, to wear a size 10 (that's a 6 to you Transatlanticians) again.

I went to my last concert of the summer at Snape tonight and I met 5 friends, unexpectedly. That is, a couple and another couple with her brother. Very nice.

I've come home, drunk a cup of tea and a glass of whisky (no wine tonight, but can't let the blood override the alcohol in the veins, isn't healthy) and now I'm off to bed. Goodnight, darlings.

Hell Bent for Leather

Move 'em on, head 'em up,
Head 'em up, move 'em out,
Move 'em on, head 'em out Rawhide!

Big Pinkie has gone visiting. She has called on some friends in a field half a mile away. She crossed fields, footpaths and the river, but the Sage and I are going to bring her back by road.

This will be interesting. Quite fun, I hope, as long as she doesn't mind cars. If she does, we'll just have to see what happens.

Update - not at this time of day, too much traffic. It'll have to be done at larkfart in the morning instead. Hm. A pleasant stroll before I set off for a long day's work in the shop. We'd planned to put a rope round her neck but she didn't care for it, so it would have to be done simply by calling her - she follows nicely.

Thursday 28 August 2008

Z dithers

A friend has just come online. I emailed him last week to ask how his twin 16-year-old daughters did in their GCSEs. He hasn't replied. Now, he isn't big on emailing. On the other hand, he's online and he can see I'm online (and this has happened 3 times this week). Doesn't look as if they did as well as hoped.

So, is it tactful or uncaring of me not to say 'hello'? I'm still going with tactful; hell, I emailed and it's sort of up to him. But blokes are a bit retarded that way (not you of course, dear heart, I'm talking about other men) and he might be waiting for me to say something.

Sheesh. I'll see the kids sooner or later and ask them.

Shellfish as ever

Oh, I forget what I was going to say. Hang on, I'll go and make some coffee, that might remind me.

Nope, it's gone. Gosh, I wish I had some sweets. There's chocolate, but Reformed Characters such as what I am don't eat chocolate without better reason than simply wanting it. Black coffee isn't quite cutting the mustard. Never mind. Dinner was nice though.

Did you know that kippers cost more than scallops nowadays? I asked Matt (I'm quite sure his name is not Gary, Badgerdaddy, he has it painted on his van - Matt, that is) for three kippers, and mused that in my young day one would have eaten a pair of kippers. I wouldn't, as I was a child, but my parents would, sometimes for breakfast. Kippers were not a dinnertime (that is, evening dinner) meal. One might eat kippers for tea if one ate tea, but we just drank tea. I'm quite glad that we now eat our evening meal at any time, call it whatever we fancy and eat what we like.

Anyhoo, he weighed the kippers and apologised that they cost 9 quid. He suggested that the kippers of my youth were local kippers for local people, whereas these were smoked from Norwegian herrings. I asked for a dozen scallops. They cost £8 (and formed the main interest of dinner. Or should I say supper? Tea, if you prefer). He rounded the bill down to £15 as he is nice that way.

I left the fish in Al's shop fridge and headed on over to Weeza's place. I took her some cherries, greengages, Victoria plums, peaches, raspberries, cucumber, bread (which was coated with toasted sunflower seeds), ham, salt beef and chocolate. The chocolate was Fairtrade milk chocolate and orange, Green and Black's butterscotch and chocolate and Fairtrade praline chocolate. The last was 100g bar and she is allowed to share it with Phil at the weekend. The rest was littler bars for her to eat all by herself.

It reminded me of my father, when I was little. They were friends with an entertaining but eccentric couple who lived in a house done up with castellations and turrets - the previous generation who built it were a bit unusual too. The wife, Dorothy, developed cancer.. The husband was very interested in numbers and their meaning and believed you could use formulae to predict the course of the future. He would come round, in a state of despair.

"My darling Dorrie will die on the 27th September!" he declared unhappily. He accepted a couple of glasses of sherry and some nice cheesy biscuits and went home again. "No she bloody well won't" declared my father, with equal certainty, and got on the phone to the wine merchant. The next day, he'd go round to the Towers with a crate of quarter-bottles of champagne. He put them in the fridge and instructed Dorothy to have one of them every day at 11 am.

She went on for longer than expected. It was all down to the champagne and the love - of my parents and her husband and family.

For now, I have delighted you long enough. And I haven't even mentioned the baby. She deserves posts to herself, you see.

Wednesday 27 August 2008

Z sees her time Slipping Away

Oh crumbs. And to think that only yesterday I said to Dave that I was a bit busy, so not building the wall next month would suit me rather well. This morning, just when we were very occupied examining china for the condition report, the phone rang. The Person at the other end was asking if the Sage could do a valuation of a very large and rather splendid collection of china (which we had been reminding the People Concerned needed doing for about three years). It needs to be done urgently and at as low a cost as possible. They aren't sure if there is still the inventory that we did nearly nine years ago.

Next week is out of the question, the Sage mentioned, but we could make a start the week after. He'd have to check a few things first though, and he'd phone back within half an hour. He rang M. M reckoned he had a copy of the inventory, if not the previous valuation, but he pointed out that the collection is open to the public every afternoon, including Sundays, for the next two months.

Nevertheless, the Sage rang back offering a very low fee and to do the job asap - but he wants a firm commitment that he will be paid (I'll not explain this, it's not a matter of lack of honour but lack of cash, and People Concerned are trying to sort things out) and it transpires that the chap holding the purse strings is on holiday until next week anyway.

They want photographs too *of course* which is fine, as we'd have to open the cabinets anyway; you don't value things without handling them as they tell you about themselves when you hold them. Sorry, I'm not being fanciful, truly. You might know what I mean and if not, er, stroke something you care about and see if that extra sense adds to the way you respond to it. It works on any level...Oh look, come back, I didn't mean it that way. Unless that's what works for you. Whatever, You see my point, which is an elevated and academic one with a sensuous (not a sensual) element.*

Anyway, when I said 'make as start' the week after next, I didn't mean my time is free. I don't have more than two free days any week, and that's without having made arrangements at the high school for music, but taking in the dumping of non-essential commitments. It has to be in daylight because of the photos. And there's always the matter of the members of the public potentially milling around. Screens?

I may not have mentioned that I'm taking over the shop next week as Al and co are on holiday. After that, I'm looking after the children a couple of days a week while Dilly is working,. Dilly wondered if they are asking too much, in view of this latest thing. I said that family things come first. And it'll be fine. As it will. I just won't be doing any housework from now on. That's fine, a month's dust takes no more time to remove than a week's.

I suppose that they may declare the Sage's ludicrously low fee is too high, but no one else will do it for that money because we care. No, really, we do.

I'm going to stop now, before I weep into my - oh gosh, it's empty, how did that happen? - wine glass.

Oh, I nearly forgot - by the time we had had two more phone calls and two visitors - one expected and more than welcome and one a delivery of flowers to the wrong address - boo - we put them right, - boo - we didn't complete the condition report either. The weekend is the deadline. That's okay.

*sorry, I'm drowning my anxieties

Tuesday 26 August 2008

Z and the Bearded Gentlemen

I was surprised. I had expected a certain chaos, but was ushered into a pristine and elegant room. There were, indeed, piles of cardboard boxes in the rooms off, but they were neatly and purposefully stacked. It recalled to my mind our move to this house. I stayed in L'toft to supervise operations back there and then followed on. I found a virtually empty house. The Sage had had everything stacked in the garages so that he couldn't possibly have put anything in the wrong room. I did mention that some things, like saucepans and clothes - and, indeed wardrobes - are a bit obvious, but it was too late by then. Some things are still out there, 22 years later. Yes, I do miss them. No, I can't fetch them. There's stuff stacked in front of the doors.

Dave showed us round his house, which is remarkably well bathroomed and beautifully painted. The garden is splendid - well, it isn't, it is rather bare with a thoroughly plantained lawn, but it has potential to be lovely, with the advantage of little that *must* be kept, so Dave will be able to use his talents for garden design.

Drew was already there when I arrived, but Murph wasn't able to come, being in need of a rest after the excitement of travelling the M62. I used to travel along it too, when Ro was at university. It was usually foggy on the eastern side. Well, I suppose it's the east, it's the side on my right on my way north. I did, however, see the towel-lined plastic box in which Lily travels, sitting on Drew's knees.

After our tour of the house, and having inspected all those bathrooms, Dave's bedroom (also fully furnished and tidy) and the cupboard under the stairs (amazingly roomy), we sat down and took tea. It turns out that Drew, too, is interested in wall-building. I think it should be a bloggers' wall and everyone who has a part in its building can sign their name. However, both Dave and I agree that we're rather pushed for time this autumn. May is a good month for building a wall, don't you think?

Big Pinkie's progress

I'm a bit busy today but I thought you might like to know how Big Pinkie is getting on. She's been alone in the field for the last few days, to see how she copes with it, and it seems to be going all right. Cows are herd animals of course and she has lived her whole life with other cows. The farmer never leaves just one, in case she gets lonely and breaks out of the field in search of company. However, the field is left ungrazed during the winter, from November to the beginning of April and, since our donkey died some years ago, she will have to learn to live alone.

She comes to the gate regularly in the hope of a cuddle and some food; we save wilted carrots and cabbages and old apples and that sort of thing for her. She's quite calm and doesn't seem to miss the other girls, who have gone back to the farm to get ready for calving. We'll have to think about shelter for her for the winter - the donkey's stable is still there but it's hardly big enough for her. When I was a child, we made a small dutch barn for our pony (I didn't ride her, she was an elderly pet with a weak heart, given a home to save her from being put down) and lined it with a double thickness of straw bales all around the walls - this was a shelter for her for the winter days and the summer nights and the straw was gradually used up in her stable. Something like this might be a possibility. The Sage and I have talked about it, but we'll need to speak to Johnny and his dad too as they may have a better idea.

The other news of the day is that a blogmeet has been arranged - I'm calling on Dave in his new home this afternoon and Drew, who is owned by Murph, will be there too. Won't we have fun?

Sunday 24 August 2008

Going for rather more than a song

The catalogue for our next sale is up here. Some rare items, several of which the Sage had previously sold to the late owner. If you happen to be a member of the Ant1ques C0llect0rs Club, there is a half-page advertisement near the back of the September edition of the magazine and we'll have ads in the Ant1ques Trade Gazette and the EDP and EADT due course (if you are East Angularians you'll know what papers they are and if you're not you won't see them anyway). We don't usually advertise that much, as it's more effective to have a large mailing list and send out catalogues, but this is an exceptional sale.

Oh, and the other news is that it's Al and Dilly's fourth wedding anniversary today.

Happy day, darlings!

Saturday 23 August 2008

Z Pigs Out

I could give you a rant but I've decided against it; at least for tonight. Because I is cheery again and not in that sort of mood.

Tonight's party (I'll soon have to stop saying I don't have a social life at this rate) was the annual Cider Club doo. Most jolly as always and a good meeting-place for friends I used to see regularly, in the days when we really did get out more. There is lots of cider, much of it slightly dodgy and I confess I quietly added a little lemonade to take away the acidity, in the hope of not having a sore head in the morning. A whole pig is roasted, which takes all day, loads of salads and a vegetable and rice concoction is cooked in a massive pan over an open fire. Dilly wants a pan just like it. I don't know why, but nevertheless I think it's a splendid idea. Enough rice was cooked in it for at least 150 people. Adèle says that you can buy them pretty cheaply in hardware shops in France.

We all went and the children lasted, sleepily by the end, until 10 o'clock when their parents took them home. I saw Ro deep in conversation with a bloke and later asked him about his friend - turned out he works for a large Norwich company and they might be able to direct some work in the direction of Ro's firm. Useful, if not strictly social...

Alice had cycled up from Peckham for the weekend. Lovely girl, but evidently barking. Mind you, her brother is the chap who does triathlons (can't remember if I wrote about that here or in the Other Place) and has ambitions to work up to an Ironman. Apparently, that involves a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a marathon run. Alice's mother asked if I enjoy my cycling. I said truthfully that I don't. It's a way of getting about and it's good for me, what's to like? It's not that I hate it, or not very often, but it's not exactly tennis or something amusing like that, is it? Indeed, I added, if I really want to have a good time outdoors I'll put my feet up in a sun lounger and read. She was quite shocked, for she loves things energetic, and suggested that there was surely something energetic I actually enjoyed. I agreed. There is. I'm sure you can guess what it is. But at my advanced age, it normally happens indoors and certainly between two consenting adults.

Friday 22 August 2008

Arthropod, Bottom, Cheeks (for instance)

I was pondering, this evening. What made me ponder was the phonetic alphabet thingy, you know, Foxtrot Romeo Zulu and all that malarkey. And the reason that made me ponder was hearing a woman say that their seats were in row N and the chap with her said "N? N for Naughty?" Which reminded me that our postcode ends in F and whenever you give it over the phone the person at the other end says "F? F for Freddie?" Almost always. Rarely Foxtrot and never a third option.

And that made me think that one could have more memorable words. More interesting, maybe slightly startling. First, I thought of an alphabet of more-or-less rude words, but then I thought that this would be a bit dodgy to give over the phone, so maybe slightly odd would be better. So, if (living in Norfolk as I do) I started my postcode with Naughty Rascal, you wouldn't forget it, would you?

I didn't get all through the alphabet, well I did, but I've forgotten them now. I'd be charmed for some suggestions though. I know no one reads blogs at the weekend, least of all during a Bank Holiday weekend, but if you have a minute to spare to call in, would you like to come up with a couple of ideas? I'd be quite happy with, say, a noun and an adjective for each letter, so I don't care if everyone suggests words for the same few letters, I mean, do I look a woman who gives a tuppeny damn about Rules? I think that B should be Bottom though, don't you?

If you don't leave anything in the comments, I'll pretend you have all emailed me and make them up myself.

A - Arsey
B - Bottom
C - Czar
D - Djinn
E - Effing
F - Floccinaucinihilipilification
G - Gnome
H - Honour
I - Imbibe
J - Jerk
K - Kiss Knight
L - Lurch
M - Mnemonic (actually, that could be just too confusing)
N - Nuts
O - Organ
P - Pneumatic Pants
Q - Quiescent
R - Rumble
S - Snot
T - Tzatziki
U - Uppity
V - Verisimilitude
W - Wriggling
X - Xylem
Y - Ypres (pronounced correctly or as 'Wipers', each works)
Z - Bed

I give you carte blanche but reserve the right to refuse any suggestion that I deem just Too Rude.

Thursday 21 August 2008

Friends, family and neighbours

All very enjoyable. I woke up and decided not to get up, but to read yesterday's papers first. At half past eight, the Sage came upstairs, saw me reading, went down again and came up with today's papers as well to keep me going. I didn't get up until nine o'clock. Ho.

I spent the afternoon with El, Phil and Zerlina. I made them lunch and cuddled the baby so that Phil could eat. Then I ate mine. I am adept at eating with a baby in one arm. I've been doing it for over 34 years. She slept mostly, but she did wake before I left so I saw her eyes open for the first time.

Kavitha phoned to say she could come over and visit before leaving for Deepa's second wedding tomorrow. Weeza just rang to say that she had turned up with her husband and they could see there were other people in the car. It turned out that there were two carfuls of people on their way to Norwich, so they were all invited for an impromptu street party. It included family (from yesterday's wedding) from Chennai, Sydney and Washington (DC) so Weeza isn't likely to see them all together for some time, and there was a happy reunion. Then neighbours started to come out, including one who is expecting a baby herself in October and another who sent a card on the birth of Zerlina, so it was all very sociable and happy.

Tomorrow, the new family of three are coming over to visit as Squiffany and Pugsley haven't met their new cousin yet. I printed out a photo and took it through. Squiffany stroked it lovingly, said that they would be very careful and gentle with her and took the picture to put it on her bedroom mantlepiece. I will go into the shop so that Al can come and join in the family party - having cuddled my granddaughter for several hours today, a shorter time will suffice tomorrow.

Wednesday 20 August 2008

Z lets her hair down

Today, I went to a wedding. I had a fabulous time. It was the sister of El's best friend, whose wedding we went to in Madras four and a half years ago. This time, it's in England at the home of their aunt in Lowestoft. D was marrying an English man and had the Hindu ceremony and reception today and will have a church wedding on Friday.

We were all invited, but Al and Ro were at work, so the Sage and Dilly and I all went to the ceremony this morning. I'll have a look tomorrow and see if there are any suitable pictures to put up. Tonight, just Dilly and I went to the party as everyone else ducked out on the pretext of not knowing anyone. I knew most of D and K's family, but no one else - actually, we'd known several people this morning, though having lived in Lowestoft for many years, this wasn't surprising.

I found that not many people knew me tonight. I'd cheerfully address them by name (this was quite a feat of memory, considering it was the foreign names of people I'd met for a week several years ago) and then have to reintroduce myself. Nirmala explained "I didn't recognise you because you look younger than you did when I saw you before, and haven't you lost weight?" I was completely mollified. I admitted that I had been very tired at that time.

Anyway, what with one thing and another, I was completely in the mood for a party. An Indian wedding is something else in any case, I adore the food and, though I had bought a dress for the morning, I was rather sorry that I hadn't put on a sari, so I hauled a rather lovely royal blue and gold one in georgette silk out of the drawer and set about putting it on for last night. I hadn't practised that for a few years either. I know the technique and it only took two goes...

As I say, completely in the mood and I felt the usual polite behaviour for which I am almost totally unknown drain away. I danced, darlings, like a meerkat*. For more than two hours, I danced my shoes off. Literally, as my feet were threatening to give out after a while, so I carried on barefoot.

I also ate my dinner properly, with my right hand. Indian food tastes best eaten with the fingers.

*With appreciative acknowledgement to Mike (Troubled Diva). I should add that I am not using his phrase in its correct sense - that is, dancing in a manner that brought meerkats to mind, but an extended meaning of dancing in an uninhibited fashion, regardless of what anyone might think. In short, it's too good an expression not to use. Indeed, he has been known to verb 'meerkat' itself and that works too.

A slight degree of over explanation here?

Tuesday 19 August 2008

Once, twice, three times a Granny

and how I love them all.

Her name is Zerlina, for she is a small version of her mother - Weezalina, she should be called but she will not be wee for very long so it has been neatened.

And here she is.

I took her from her mother and found it hard to put her down again. I passed her to Dilly and she was cuddled by the rest of the family and then I took her back and held her while I ate my dinner. I haven't seen her eyes yet, she slept throughout. Her face screwed up a few times and she started to cry, but I have a soporific effect on many people and I was able to soothe her.

She has long fingers and hands. Her skin, soft last night, is now quite dry and wrinkled, but that won't last long. She is tiny, smaller than any of the other babies in the family were, but quite strong and healthy.

Oh, and one more thing...


I made them a croquembouche as a wedding cake. It was the first time I had ever spun sugar. I meant to practise but hey - it's always all right on the night, isn't it?

Monday 18 August 2008


Phil just rang. His and Weeza's baby girl was born earlier this evening - a couple of hours ago, he's a bit hazy as to the time. All's well, although it was a bit tricky as she was facing the wrong way and so in the end Weeza needed an epidural and a forceps delivery. She weighed 6 lbs 3 oz so it was just as well that she wasn't induced any earlier.

They expect to come home tomorrow.

Update Baby was born at 10 pm. So to phone not much more than an hour later is devotion to soninlawly duty indeed.

17, 18,, Granny in waiting

I can't settle to anything today. I don't want to use the phone in case we get a call and I can't focus on work. My cold is clearing up, but I have a hacking cough and not much breath, so I don't want to go out on my bike. Besides, I want to be here.

I had a text from Phil at 8.45 this morning which has left me hopeful of news today. I was waiting to pay the hairdresser at the time I read it -which was half an hour after it was sent, in fact. I hadn't heard the phone beep, it was probably when my hair was being washed. It's hard not to ring them, but of course that's not on. Indeed, odds are that the phone isn't either.

Another job was completed, in that our catalogue has gone off to the printers. It was a joint effort; I did the photos and the typing, Weeza did the layout, Ro then did the alterations and we all proofread and did final tweaks. I emailed it off as a PDF and had an acknowledgment that it was received. Our little business has never had a 40 page catalogue with most lots illustrated before, we usually run it all on a shoestring. I'll let you know when it's all up on the website. I haven't taken the photos yet of the first 15 lots, which aren't illustrated in the catalogue but will be online, but I've got all week for that.

I went to bed early last night as I really felt quite rough. If I mention that I didn't want to finish my wine but left half a glass, you will appreciate the jaggedness of Z. I kept waking all night, I don't think I ever slept longer for half an hour at a stretch and my mind was very full. And this was before Phil's text.

Sunday 17 August 2008

It rained

But El has still not had her baby. She has been to the hospital for a check-up and it got her quite gingered up. "I'll see if we'll let you go home" was said to her. No, you don't say that to a grown woman (who has done her research, knows her facts and in real life has a job with a high level of responsibility and who - shall we go there? Fuckit, why not? - is paid more, when working,* than the midwife who is trying to patronise her - who simply happens to be pregnant. With a commendable tolerance, she didn't rise, but did say that she would prefer not to have daily monitoring. She's having another check-up on Tuesday. I haven't spoken to her today, but we've exchanged emails and she has thanked me for not fussing over her.

I do this complicated rota, you know? Three months at a time. Columns for two readers, sidesman, musician and coffee-maker, and a further column for additional notes, such as the rare weekends when I'm away (so someone else needs to bring keys). Some people only come to one service a month, some to any but one (not necessarily the same one) and some not in the school holidays. I ask for notice of inconvenient Sundays, so that I don't make other people look for swaps, though people will always fill in. It's all very good-natured. But it's not effortless. So it was slightly disappointing when the second reader and the coffee maker forgot. The former didn't arrive, the latter didn't bring milk. There was an emergency packet of biscuits, I am not a careless sort of Z.

It was pouring with rain so, since I'd walked (cycling with an umbrella is a non-starter, really), someone gave me a lift home for the milk and the same kind someone read the lesson. It's mildly frustrating that the one who forgot to come is a helpful chap who always offers but often doesn't turn up. When I asked for extra sidesmen, my heart sank when he offered and, indeed, he doesn't arrive early, so all the work is already done, half of it by me, and chats cheerily after the service so doesn't help clear away. There are reasons why it's impossible to say anything, but he'll protest if I don't put him on the list. I have to put it together in the next few days. I sigh.

But first, I'll have dinner. It is entirely veggie. Blue Witch would approve.

*She was the highest earner in the family, before she went on maternity leave.

Saturday 16 August 2008

It hasn't rained yet.

Nor has the baby been born, but thank you for asking.

I am quite tired and I have a cold, and I have been working very hard all day. So please excuse me if I do not scintillate like a twinkly little star tonight. I will later of course, when flirting with my husband, because that gives meaning to my day.

I cycled in to town and down to the Co-op, where I haven't shopped for weeks and I had, as a result, run out of a lot of things. I shop most days, but once in a while it's necessary to stock up. Furthermore, we were out of beer. There is a limit to how much beer can be fitted into a pair of panniers. So I agreed with the Sage that, at a given time, he would meet me at the shop and load the car up with shopping. I'm sure this is not the point of cycling to the shops, but there we go. He had to go out anyway.

It had been a tiring day and I bought apple strudel. We don't usually have puddings and if we do, I make them. But tonight we had bought apple strudel. It was symbolic of a need, somehow, even if now my mouth has a coating of fat. It tasted good at the time. We also had fish. And baked potatoes and french beans.

I might write tomorrow, but if I don't it will be because the baby has not been born and I am losing interest in writing about anything else. Don't tell me you've noticed? I am completely distracted.

I'm going to read the papers. They will not cheer me, not one bit. I will probably spend some time staring at the crossword and filling in seven clues, then doing all the sudoku very quickly because it's not that interesting, then staring at the crossword again. Saturday nights, aren't they perfectly lovely?

I have the Sage. The answer is yes. Potentially.

Update --- the evening has improved. The Sage just found a nest of chicks, whose mother had naughtily laid away. I knelt on a bed of holly leaves and reached under a prickly horizontally-growing dwarf conifer and brought out ten blonde chicks and their complacent mummy. They are tucked away safely in a coop.

Friday 15 August 2008

It didn't rain. Apparently, it will tomorrow

We ventured out into the garden to eat dinner, it being the first fine day and evening this month (I think, please don’t take me to task on this). Pugsley hadn’t been well all day and hadn’t eaten much. They had been out for the day with friends and been to a park in Norwich and had a picnic, and he had needed a lot of jollying to remain reasonably happy, but he didn’t want lunch, even though it contained rare treats, crisps and suchlike. He skipped his afternoon nap, didn’t fall asleep on the way home and finally crashed out sometime around 5.30, as did his sister. So perhaps it wasn’t surprising that he was a bit fractious when they came through to eat.

When finally he was persuaded to have something, he started to cheer up, tentatively. He had sat on his mother’s lap as he wailed horribly every time she put him on his chair, so when I finished eating I took him to give her a break. He was fine by then and even giggled. Squiffany was being charming, though a bit gloomy about her prospects of sleep tonight. “He’ll probably cry and keep me awake.” We debated the options and came down to a choice between putting him in the kitchen “in the bin?” interjected Dilly or shutting him out in the garden.

Later, we went to the copse (too small really for such a name, it’s a little triangular shady spot at the end of the lawn where sapling elms grow) for an imaginary train ride. You pull aside an unprickly holly branch and the train is immediately beyond. When it stops at its destination, you have reached the wood. Just at the entrance to the copse, I found a pigeon's egg, empty, dropped by the parent away from the nest. Pugsley cheered up at once and, when we went back to the table (where Dilly was sitting on Al's knee) he told them about it.

Weeza is coming over tomorrow with the finished catalogue. It will suit us nicely if she has the baby at any time after that, she's finished the work we wanted her to do.

Thursday 14 August 2008

Z works for her living and Ro is helpful

No news, darlings, nothing to report from Weeza.

We've spent the whole day working on the catalogue for the next sale. It's a rather good one, with some rare shapes and inscribed pieces - the whole collection of someone who has died is being sold and the family has decided to have a special sale with a fully illustrated catalogue. The Sage, helped by a couple of friends who know even more than he does, has been researching it all, finding out the provenance of as much of the china as possible. Several pieces were bought in our saleroom over the years. Weeza is putting the catalogue together and I sent her all the descriptions this afternoon, and I've taken all the photographs and will go through them, cropping and labelling them tomorrow morning, ready for her to finish it off. It will go to the printers on Monday. We won't have finished; I still have the few other pieces to photograph that aren't illustrated (some of the entries from other vendors), the description of some books and other publications to write and every piece has to be examined carefully for a condition report. Ro will update the website, then we'll have to post all the catalogues. This will be done by early September.

So that's all I've done today from the list and I'll have to buck my ideas up on Friday afternoon to get everything else done.

Oh, one useful thing happened the other day. The phone we use with our BT internet connection stopped working and Ro spent a long time (on a freephone number) trying to get help with it. Everyone he was passed on to was very helpful, but working from the same checklist and they made him go through all the checks time after time. He was inordinately patient and polite. Finally, he got on to someone who wasn't on a helpline in India, who agreed that the Home Hub was at fault. But it had had a 12 month guarantee and the deal we got it free with had an 18 month contract which didn't end until the start of December. A new one would be £70. You can quite imagine my reaction to this news. Ro, still patient, agreed to be rung back (this was, by now, the third day of effort). The next night, he got a salesman who was able to negotiate. We now have a new 12 month contract, starting now, at £2 less per month than we had been paying and a new free home hub which arrived today. I'll be quite sorry when the lad leaves home. He is useful to have around.

He's useful to his brother too. Al and Dilly were going out to a concert at Snape and I was out for dinner and the Sage for his wood club. This is not a club made of wood, it is a society of people who make things from it. So Ro was the only person left to babysit.

Do you know, I feel quite inclined to have an early night. I'm quite tired. I wonder if I will or if, when I start reading, a couple of hours will go by without being noticed.

Wednesday 13 August 2008

Z gets out, much

Well, didn't get much ticked off the list, but I was out most of the afternoon and all of the evening. The organ playing went fine, thank you. At the end of the service I looked round just in time to see the newly widowed husband in tears, wiping his eyes. I turned away to concentrate on not having to wipe mine. As it wasn't in our village, I hadn't known the name of the lady who had died; it turned out that the couple had been a member of the same classic car club as the Sage and he knew them. She had been ill for some years and in the local wonderful cottage hospital for several months; her husband had sat with her for several hours every single day, even though by then she hardly remembered him. The Sage had visited several times too, as much for his sake as hers.

Anyway, the Rector and her husband had given me a lift and on the way home took me out for a cream tea. Scones, darlings, of course. I manfully, and with enjoyment, ate mine and by way of compensation did not have an ice cream during the interval tonight, drinking black coffee instead. I'd been obliged to park in a very awkward spot and moved during the interval, my half-drunk cup of coffee in the car's cupholder, to a better place.

The concert tonight was a gypsy orchestra from Budapest. It was arranged in the traditional style, with first and second violins (the second violin also and it seems simultaneously plays a third violin part) a viola, called a bratch, a double bass, cello, clarinet and cimbalon. To start with, it seemed to me that the backing had nothing to do with the melody played by the violin - I couldn't discern a pattern in it. I started to listen more carefully to each instrument and I could hear that each was indeed accompanying the violin but when I switched my hearing back to the ensemble, I couldn't get it any more. I was starting to, by the interval and felt that my brain might have made sense of it all by the time I returned.

The second violinist had had a friendly arm round the shoulder of the band leader as they came on in the first place, and it seemed a little odd that he did again in the second half. They all had Hungarian names (well, the little that I know about such things) but he told us that he was, in fact, from Belgium and had travelled to learn the music of his gypsy ancestors, as he loved it and wanted to help keep the tradition alive. His English was perfect and unaccented, although slightly stilted and so were his movements. He had a few mannerisms, including frequently touching the microphone, but it wasn't until several minutes into the second half that it occurred to me that he might be blind and as I observed, I became sure of it. I can see why this is irrelevant to his music and that he might choose not to refer to it; acknowledging it might make it a bigger deal than he would think it worth and detract from his musicality and that of the band but, nevertheless, it does make it a bigger deal that he is the front man and does all the speaking and that the others are quite matter-of-factly protective of him. As the concert went on, the applause became louder and longer; I wasn't the only one to open my ears to its style.

They haven't got a CD out yet as the group is quite newly formed, but he invited us to put down our emails at the music stall if we wanted to be kept informed; there was a steady line of people by the time I'd written mine. Like much music that is not easy at first listen, the more you listen the more you hear, appreciate and enjoy it. It's not really a genre I'd take as my favourite but I'd like to listen to it more as I think it's worth the learning. And yes, I admire them and yes, he would not like (a reasonably small) part of the reason to be his attitude to his blindness, which is the reason I'm not putting up their name.

Z is making a list instead of just getting on with it. This is Not Good

Work is piling up horribly. This is not good. I should move the computer back into the room it's supposed to be in where I can put myself in work mode and just get on with it. I can't be bothered to move it. It was a real downward step when I brought in the printer.

Oh dear. Make a list of things to be done this week.

Take photographs for the catalogue Yay, done it!
Write catalogue Yay, done it!
Write minutes of churchwardens' meeting
Write four letters to people who want to join the lunch club (I know, I am a Lady Who Lunches, bet you didn't see that coming)Yay, done it!
Write two letters to people regarding points they made on the Nadfas questionnaire
Consider the agenda for the next Nadfas committee meeting - I've found that a fully annotated agenda saves a lot of discussion at the meeting.
A letter to Islington council to say the flat is empty and claim a period without council tax Yay, done it!
Find someone to fix an aerial at the flat and tell the downstairs tenant so that they can agree a time to meet
Phone the church architect and set up a meeting
Do the rest of the stuff on the list from the meeting the other night Yay, done it!
Write to my accountant
Email all the people who have been asking when our next sale is.
Phone the piano tuner about my pianola Yay, done it! - well, left an answerphone message
Do the rota for the next three months for sidesmen, coffee making, lesson reading etc for the church
Other stuff. It'll come to me.

I'll tick things off as I do them. Ho hum.

Tuesday 12 August 2008

Mellow fruitfulness

I wrote full and helpful notes for last night's meeting and sent them out, with a column to say who's going to do what and had an email back from someone who hadn't been there to say couldn't we get on a bit faster and why weren't we planning to have another meeting next month? Oh I say. I thought we were doing quite well, or at least if we do what we say we're going to we will. I haven't started on my bit yet, but then I have done the write-up and that took me a good two hours.

Anyway, last night Tilly didn't want to get off the sofa to go out so the Sage left me to persuade her before I went to bed an hour or two later. I made her, cruelly (I clapped my hands briskly and stood up), because I didn't want her to have the embarrassment of having to ask me to come and open the door in the middle of the night. Poor old darling was stiff and limping. She was fine this morning, I think she'd simply been lying still for too long. Tonight, when the Sage called her she got up straight away. She's just come back, looking hopeful. I didn't have any of her biscuits here so I've given her half a ricecake and a strawberry. She was pleased. She was just in time, because Ro has also come in, looking for his share of the strawberries. He looked mildly disappointed when he found there were only six left, and has gone for the melon I offered him earlier on to have with them.

There has been a lot of rain. And wind. Floods, in some places. You wouldn't think it was the middle of summer. Hot, in between the storms, but nothing like summer as we used to know it. You know, like last century, when I was young.

A funeral to play for tomorrow. Not at our village church and it's an organ I haven't played before. It could be a bit tricky. There will be a CD played at the start which will let me off the hook somewhat (I won't have to work so hard for my money) but I won't have time to get used to the instrument. If I say nothing about it tomorrow, it'll be because it's been an experience I'd rather forget.

Ridiculus Mus

Yes, I'm sorry you're getting so many posts. I can quite see that those of you with time on your hands will consider it a bonus, but anyone who dips into blogs once in a while will probably never catch up. You won't miss anything, just mark them all read and relax.

I've been thinking, as I waited for the kettle to boil - oh,hang on, Tilly is asking me to finish my breakfast.

Right, she's eaten the last of my yoghurt so I'm back. Where was I? Okay...

I was thinking, while waiting for the kettle to boil, about punctuality. I referred in a comment to first babies generally being late, while subsequent ones often (this is the only reference to childbirth in this post, this has not become a parturition blog - ooh, actually, I've just thought of a name for a new blog if I ever abandon this one) arrive when they are expected, if rarely on the precise due day.

You might not think it to look at me, but I am generally punctual. I am always on time for appointments and lunch and give a polite ten to twenty-five minutes leeway for dinner. If I'm going to be half an hour or more late home, I phone; if I've said what time to expect me, that is. In other respects I'm pretty casual (I add hastily, in case you're thinking 'but this doesn't sound like the Z we have come to know') and have little awareness of my own time once I start reading, which is the reason I go to bed so late.

Among friends and acquaintances, one gets to know who will be early, punctual and late and expects them accordingly, which is fine. I found it very disconcerting, when first married, that my mother-in-law was always early when I asked her and Pa round for a meal, when I was never ready, having expected a more sophisticated later arrival. Now, more relaxed, when someone turns up before I'm ready I get them to lay the table or open the booze, as one does. If you offer, I'll say 'yes'. Watch out, or you'll find yourself digging potatoes.

No, what always catches me out is when I get a phone call. "Would it be convenient for me to pop round Right Now?" I say it would. I expect that person in the time it takes to put on a coat, get in the car, on the bike or Shanks' Pony and get here. But it never happens. I may cool my heels, unable to get on with anything as I'm expecting a visitor any minute, for up to an hour.

The postman brought me a Present this morning. Thank you, darling Badgerdaddy xxx. I shall write as soon as I've listened.

Monday 11 August 2008

Z isn't as bemused as she was this morning

I stood in at the shop for a couple of hours this afternoon as Al had an appointment - it was fun. I was pretty busy - no time to sit down at all, no more than a minute without a customer and several people I knew, which is always a pleasure.

Nada (a prize for the first to work out why she was given that name, which is her real one) came in. "I saw you at Snape on Saturday didn't I?" I said. She had been sitting with friends having dinner when I spotted her. We chatted about the concerts. Then she asked me if I'd watch University Challenge this evening. I said I probably would and told her that it was one of my favourite programmes when I was a child (yes really, Huckleberry Hound and University Challenge pretty well sum up my childhood viewing) and that Bamber Gascoigne was my earliest heartthrob (I was about 8 probably) and she confided happily that her grandson is the captain of one of the teams. "You must know who won! - I won't ask" "I wouldn't tell you" she returned happily. After she left, I remembered that I was going out to a meeting at 7 o'clock so I've recorded it, so that I can say I thought he was marvellous when I next see her.

I made a quick detour to the wine merchant's on the way home. I'd drunk all but the good white. I bumped into a friend walking her dog. We exchanged brief notes on the families. I asked how she is - "oh, fine, but isn't getting old a bugger? I'm not old enough to have all these aches and pains." She said she has a bad back - indeed, she was walking stiffly. And her hands are getting arthritic. I could see when she held them out, they're starting to become crooked. She can't open jars and hasn't much strength in them. She's a bit older than me, but not that much. It's true, it's all a bugger. We feel the same as we used to and she still is absolutely beautiful, but age is hitting her early.

I got a spam email this morning in the name of a friend. I didn't open the attachments of course, and emailed sympathetically to tell her about it. I had a reply saying 'grrr', basically - it's beastly when your email and mailing list is hijacked, isn't it? She was wondering why I haven't written for ages. I've no excuse. If I don't reply to a letter at once, it hangs over me like an impenetrable pall. I'm wondering whether to point her in this direction, so at least she knows what's going on in the life of Z, but I'm a bit shy of it. Ro's friend Zain found me, and when Ro saw him at the weekend, he knew more about my doings than Ro did...if you're reading this, Zain, have a great holiday.

I came down in price as far as I could, but the nice young couple couldn't afford the flat. Oh bother. I'll have to pay a fortune to a letting agent instead. I'd rather have knocked it off their rent - we weren't far apart in the end, but top and bottom lines didn't equate, unfortunately.

Anyway, I'm sorry I came over all peculiar this morning. It was one of those posts that shouldn't have seen the light of day.

Z muses

A friend of mine has a grandson, who is now about 12 years old. She has adored him from the start. Her son and his wife live quite close to her and, from the start, she looked after him regularly while his mother worked part-time.

Three or four years after he was born, his parents announced that they were expecting a second baby. My friend was a bit worried. "I love Matthew so much," she confided, "that I'm afraid I might not be able to love another one like I do him." We all tried to reassure her that love isn't limited and that it grows to fill the space available - and, of course, that was just what happened. She dearly loves both boys and is very much loved by her family in return.

My feelings, when I've been told another grandchild is on the way, are different. I feel that the more I love, the more my capacity to love increases. Additionally, the strong feelings I have for this unborn baby hasn't diminished my affection for Squiffany and Pugsley in the least.

You'll probably be thinking 'of course'. And yes, I agree. I am stating the obvious - but I'm only having a little emotional moment. We're all finding this waiting a bit hard to bear. I'm resisting the temptation to phone Weeza every day - spoke to her on Saturday and she emailed last night - she's doing some work for her father and she needed me to send her some information - but it's becoming unusually hard not to fuss. I don't fuss. I control my inclination to gush (look, you don't know what I'd be like if I let go) and it would be disconcerting for her if I changed now.

Um. There's no point at all to this post really. I'd delete it, but it's too late. We're expecting a power cut any time, so I've been publishing it as I've gone along, so feed readers will show it up anyway. They are having to check the whole system following the transformer explosion the Friday before last.

Do you know, I've got two meetings today? It's supposed to be the bloody holidays.

Hm. No, that's it. I'm too distracted and the electricity will go off any moment - they said 8.30 and it's already after 9. Forget I said anything at all, I'm talking nonsense.

Sunday 10 August 2008

Ro and Z become Inverted Snobs

Last night, we were awfully cheered to be ushered into the nearest car park and not to have to tramp across a muddy field to the concert hall. I picked up some tickets for next week for Al and Dilly (really quite surprised at their choice) and a programme - the programme for a whole month of concerts is only £4. A bargain indeed. I have a collection going back many years.

We went and chose our food and found a table with a couple of spaces on it. An elderly man and woman were in the end places, she in a wheelchair, and a young man next to each of them. The two younger men politely cleared a tray away so that I could put down ours. They stacked the crocks from their own tray onto it as I put our food etc on the table. "Would you like to put them on my tray?" I suggested. The elder young man did so, but didn't let go, ready to put them all in front of him. "I'll put them on the bar" I offered. "Thats all right, we'll clear them when we leave." I looked at his face. He was startlingly good-looking. Stunning. So was his brother. "I'm already standing up, it's no trouble" I said cheerfully. He demurred again. Look, no assertiveness with a woman old enough to be your mother, however gorgeous you are. "thank you, but I'm as polite as you are," I insisted and took the trays over to the bar. Actually, if he was as polite as he wanted to look, he'd have stood up and taken them himself; not that I wanted him to but that would be what I'd expect if I were his mother.

Ro and I, whilst keeping up a conversation between ourselves, eavesdropped between the boys (early 20s) and their grandparents. Frightfully public school, they were. Impossibly handsome (as I might have overstated already), very suntanned, elegantly tousled hair - naturally so, not styled, fine teeth, white but not whitened, very well-spoken without being plummy-mouthed, come on, go into the City of London or a major auction house and you will find them by the dozen. The subject of the conversation was cricket; having discussed the score (they didn't know the most recent any more than I do, and apparently rain had stopped play early) they suggested to Grandma and Grandpa that they watch the two of them play in a tournament next week. "I lost my Captain's cap today" said Elder Toff. "Overboard?" asked his sibling. "Yes, pretty blustery out there."

Later, "Next time I visit, I must bring you some vegetables out of my garden, Grandma" said ET. "Some lovely lettuces." He also has a pumpkin plant that has rampaged over the garden. Lots of flowers but no fruit yet. "How many pumpkins do you get from a plant?" asked YT. "Well, there are two flowers at every leaf joint." "Will each flower grow into a pumpkin?" "That's how it works, the fruit grows from the flower" - with good-humoured patronage. I longed to ask if the flowers were male or female. I'd be very surprised if many of them grew into pumpkins, you just don't get dozens from each plant. "What'll you do with the surplus, sell them?" asked YT. "Oh no, I'll give them away. Give them to poor people."

Ro and I sucked our cheeks hard (each our own, stoppit, ew) not laughing.

Once seated in the concert hall, the people behind had to stand to let latecomers past. They apologised. "No, there's plenty of room, isn't it a joy?" said the overenthusiastic patrician lady behind me. In front, latecomers were barging past without giving anyone time to stand up.

I must tell you about the art installation, but for today I have delighted you long enough.

Saturday 9 August 2008

Z records another means by which she can be Laughed At

Tonight, Ro and I are paying the first visit of the month to the Snape Proms. I am looking forward to it. Mozart, Bruch and Brahms are on the programme (their music not the dead composers in skeletal form).

I stood wondering what to have for lunch. Nothing in the fridge quite did it, nor in the cupboard. I opened the little freezer on top of the fridge. It contains a bag of ice, a wine chiller and a tub of ice cream which the Sage bought. Its message led me to pour some wine, but didn't inspire me. Then Ro came down the back stairs, carrying an empty cereal bowl.

"We're going to Snape tonight - shall we have supper there?" He thought that was a good idea, but added sniffingly that he thinks he's developing a cold. "Chilli omelette!" I declared. "Yes please" he replied. I went down to the greenhouse and tasted Hungarian Hot Wax, Jalapeño and Georgia Flame. Unable to decide, I picked them and chopped an onion and a tomato and chucked in all three peppers. He had 4 bantam eggs (they are small) and I had 3 and we shared the hot filling. I breathe freely. I trust he does.

I bought some new phones, weeks ago, and couldn't be arsed to read the instructions and set them up. I mean, really. I finally did it today though - well, one of them. The rest of them are still charging. The recorded voice on the answerphone was awful. Really bad vowels. I had to resort to doing a message myself. It's so embarrassing, to hear your own voice. The first time, I could hear myself breathing, so I did it again. Still makes me cringe. Posh little girl, surely I have a deeper voice than that? 'this is The Sage and Z's answerphone, you're welcome to leave a message' or something like that is what I've said. I hate long messages. Once I rang someone from a telephone box and my money ran out before the message ended. I haven't left our names before, but now we're internationally known via this blog and his website (and there's a sale coming up) ... I still couldn't turn it into a business message but oh hell, there's no privacy anyway.

The phone rang while I was cooking the omelettes. Ro was horrified. "There's no choice of ringtones" I explained. He disagreed. I've read the bloody book, I don't think there is. He's welcome to deal with it. I have enough on my plate, teaching the Sage how to use a new phone.

So you've never thought of it

But it's a good evaluation of how supple you are if you're past the age of 40 or so - below that, you should be able to do it unless you have a mobility problem; especially if you are taller than I, which most people are. I thought, a few months ago, that my kicking the light switch days were over. They aren't. Even if you think I'm peculiar, which had occurred to me (or Special - in a SEN sense, Dan?), I'm sure you can appreciate how pleased I am?

There is time for blogging at the weekend. Another post follows; almost as brief I hope.

Just wondering

Just out of interest, do the rest of you switch on lights with your foot? I mean press a light switch on the wall 4 foot-something high.

It's just that I often used to, haven't been able to for a few years and now am within an instant's control of doing so again. But it's just occurred to me that maybe it's a bit peculiar - or does everyone do it? It is what I'm using as a yardstick of my own agility now, though.

Weeza is fine, baby still tucked up safe.

Later I've just tried again and I can switch on the light easily. I can touch the wall 56 inches above the floor. Since I'm only 62 or so inches tall with an inside leg of 30 inches, this is damn good for an old girl. I don't care if it's odd to want to, it's enough to do it.

*goes to wash footmark off wall*

Friday 8 August 2008

Z makes a Chappie Happy

Weeza rang me just before 7 - I'd decided, in the end, to wait until Phil was home just to make it plain that I wasn't fussing. I don't fuss but I can look as if I do. My family thinks I worry, when I really just look worried. Actually, I feel extremely emotional. But not uncontrollably so. I have realised that, however close you are and how much you love your son and his wife, it's different when your daughter is going to have a baby.

Still, be cool at all times. Relaxed. Supportive. Weeza has seen the midwife - the one she saw before, and liked, is on holiday for the next fortnight and the one who rang her the other day is a bit of a fusspot and if Weeza hadn't known her onions, she might have been made anxious. As it was, she explained the situation (she is Rhesus negative and has had injections) and later the midwife rang back to say she was right as she'd checked with the lab. Weeza was patient. Today's midwife was lovely and they got on fine. They have discussed Norwich's 10 day overdue guideline, and NICE's 14 day one, and come to an agreement. Weeza is very diplomatic. It was her job (she was not a diplomat).

Anyway, in other news...I cycled in to help in the shop this morning as Tim looks after his children in alternate weeks during the holidays. Al's Saturday staff are filling in but it's quite busy on a Friday. In the event, it kept raining so we had to rush out and bring in vulnerable stock, mostly flowers and peaches, and then take them out again. Additionally, there are a lot of orders to deliver on a Friday which need to be made up. I did them, which saved Al a job on a busy Friday afternoon. However, I had to meet the chap servicing the church boiler at the church to let him in - with remarkable foresight, I'd given him my mobile number (not knowing I'd be in the shop) to give me 20 minutes warning so I didn't have to wait all morning at the church. He rang at 10.40 and it was raining. Lovely Sage had already rung to say he'd pick me up, so we phoned and he was able to fit the bike in the van.

I made the boiler chappie happy. I told him I'd put the heating on for a few hours this morning. His face brightened. "That's really good news! The heating isn't normally on at this time of the year and the boiler do sweat." Last time I'd met him, he'd been a bit patronising, but he was all good cheer and helpfulness - I was glad that I'd set the timer. It made his job easier, so he'd passed the goodwill on; not that he had been awkward before, I'm not criticising...oh blimey, let's just drop it, okay?

Apart from the tenterhooks, it's been good. Yesterday, I approached someone about taking over a chairmanship from me next year and she demurred, but only politely. I think she will agree. The boiler chappie, as I said, was very helpful. My friend who we had lunch with gave me some lovely trout, which I baked en papillote (not sure about relative numbers of ls and ts there) which her husband catches and brings home in greater numbers than they can eat - two were too much for us too and tomorrow I have scope with delicious leftovers.

Phil is pleased because he has successfully cycled up Mousehold Heath and then further uphill for a couple of miles, on consecutive days. He has worked out that his cycling uses 900 calories a day. Gosh, is all I can say there. Certainly, I will never be able to cycle up Mousehold Heath, even with a bike with more than 3 gears. Humility is good and I'm more than happy to embrace it.

The Sage has been entirely charming. He brought me wine, he scrubbed potatoes and now he has brought me a bowl of raspberries. The prospect of new as well as existing grandfatherhood is making him even more adorable.

Oh wait...

... oh wait, oh wait.

No sign of the baby yet.

Now overdue.

Thursday 7 August 2008

The Sage alters the Rules

Phil and Weeza came over last night - now they have a car of their own and they brought mine back. After dinner, they went next door to see Dilly and Al. I went outside a few minutes later and remarked how warm and humid it was. "Could you replace the bulb in the outside light before long, please?" I asked. "It's been months." I didn't exaggerate. It's been at least three months, could be up to six. I'd have done it myself, except the shade needs two of my little girly hands to open it and it's stiff, so I don't want to let go of the ladder. A proper man-size hand can open it easily.

I went to fetch a bulb to leave out and jog his memory. While I was fetching it, I heard the torch being wound up. I followed him outside, where he was fetching a ladder. "You don't have to do it now, it's dark," I said. "You'll be out tomorrow morning," he replied. "You can hold the ladder." "I'll be back mid-afternoon." "Yes, but I might forget and then you'll mention it again."

I have always gone by the idea that mentioning something once is a request or information. Twice is a reminder. Three times risks being looked upon as a nag. It seems that the goalposts have shifted. "Damn, the light just went" is allowed. However many months spent fumbling in the darkness later it's referred to again, that is nagging.

I held the ladder and thanked him for putting in the new bulb. He is a sensitive man, and he appreciated that.

There was a sensational lightning storm later, and then the rain came down in torrents.

Wednesday 6 August 2008

This is, and completes them, exactly. The pictures are a bonus

I had said to Ro that he was welcome to stay, but he might prefer to go and visit a friend or a gallery or something. In the event, he enjoyed the company too, so he stayed with us. The weather was a bit iffy so we didn’t go out. We didn’t eat scones either, but we did, at various times, drink water, tea and beer and scoff Lovehearts. Furthermore, I was given Prizes! I was awfully pleased. I’m sure you want pictures.

We all had engagements to keep in the afternoon, so drank up and left, after much conversation, soon after 1.30. I suggested walking back to the flat, where we’d left our suitcase. The key decided not to turn for several minutes, so all our friend was allowed time for (which she was very good-natured about) was a quick hurry up and down the stairs before we left again. We strode along to the City Road, where we parted company.

The bus arrived at the stop as we did, so we actually arrived at the station in good time. Ro had been quite sure I was fussing more than I needed to; he was right but one has to allow time for hold ups, I think (one hopes, not of the hijacking variety).

This is not part of the thousand words

A couple of people are concerned about the number of typos they are, for understandable reasons, making at present. In a demonstration of solidarity, today I will correct no typos on any comments I make, unless they make inadvertant (whoops) rude works. Nor am I correcting this post. And mistakes are not deliberate, I make them constantlt.

Because we can all work out wat we mean, can't we?

The ears have it - well, Hadrian's did. We simply used ours

We had a most enjoyable evening, although the Hadrian exhibition was quite crowded. As it was a Members' evening, everyone was looking properly and listening to the whole of their audio guides. Being frivolous, I hadn't hired one. Emperor Hadrian really was the image of Rory McGrath. Or, correctly speaking, the other way round. We were all quietly feeling our earlobes for an unexpected horizontal crease (I can't vouch for R McG's ears, I don't suppose the resemblance stretches that far).

It took 15 or 20 minutes to get in, because the first people had to get through the first room of course, and then when they were in the second room the next people - oh, you get it. There were two chaps in front of us; the younger one, who had spectacularly curly hair, closely cut at the sides but untrammelled on top, was quite lively. He kept nudging and touching his older companion and chattering excitedly. At one point, the nudging got too much and the other man twitched him away. he retreated in mock alarm and Older Chap stuck out the tip of his tongue.

A fine and delightful evening and Ro and I have the same taste in overheard snippets of conversation, so we sniggered together at intervals. Dinner was so good I ate most of mine, and Ro finished anything I couldn't. He was kind enough to say that the first amuse bouche, a creamy cabbage soup, tasted just like my soup, in a complimentary way, and added that I wouldn't add the cream, but he prefers, for everyday dining, the lighter alternatives I use.

The next morning, I was up early because I needed to send someone a text before he left for work. Then I went out for coffee and papers. I was overtaken, as I went along the road, by five cyclists and no cars and in the next road by eight cyclists and three cars. I also entertained myself by noting the dog poos. Three, all laid by small dogs and one, although it was barely 7.30, already trodden in. Since it was right against the wall, I thought it would have been easier to miss than to hit. I decided to return by the canal path, the other side from where the boats are moored. There were about fifty steps down but only about twenty up. I'd never noticed that the road went down, but since the alternative was that the water went up, it must do. Several chaps had overnighted on the benches; five in fact. Two of them were asleep. It was lightly raining, but they were all sheltered by the trees. One was eating breakfast. I felt I should offer him my coffee, but then I'd have to go and buy coffee for everyone - yes you're right, it would have been polite. I am sorry.

I went out again an hour later to go and buy stuff. This time, there was a tiny green dog poo. It really was not much bigger than a raisin and right in the middle of the pavement. I reflected that, if the dog's owner couldn't be bothered to pick it up, it would have been the least possible gesture of courtesy to toe it into the road. It really was unusually green.

When we went out again, it was raining. I had an umbrella, but it was a small one. I remembered to look in the cupboard by the front door and, indeed, Weeza and Phil had left a couple more brollies there. One was very large and marked with the name of Weeza's one-time employers. I gave it to Ro and he held it over both of us.

I exchanged a text or two and settled in the nearest pub for our blogmeet.

Tuesday 5 August 2008

Z travels heavy

I bought new telephones about three weeks ago. I was fed up that they don't really do the job too well. Cordless digital phones don't like our house, presumably because of the thick walls; although maybe because of the spiders and woodlouses inhabiting them. I bought one simple, unelectric corded phone, in case of power cuts - and in view of our 13-hour cut last Friday, that was sensible.

But that's the only one I've plugged in. There are instructions to be read and followed and programming to be done, and the inevitable disappointment when they don't work in most of the rooms of the house. I'm staving it off. What a little fool I am.

All went very well in London, and I had a lovely time, as did Ro. He thanked me for it when we arrived home, which was perfectly charming and not at all necessary; the company was altogether delighful. We came back with a laden suitcase, which has destroyed my light-travelling credentials (though the Boy can vouch for my usual behaviour. Oh wait, no, that implies he has met me more than once. Well, put it this way, he was surprised that I had no visible hand luggage and was slightly underdressed for November. I think it was November.) and I will have to be ludicrously casual in future to regain them. At that, I left a small rug behind because the case was full and will have to fetch it next time.

It is not impossible that we might have found tenants for the flat, but I'm not counting chickens. I could count eggs though - the Sage picked a great bowlful today. he was woken in the night by a great squawking - sadly, the fox caught one, who was sleeping out, but no more. He's made every effort to shut them all up tonight, for the beast will be back.

Monday 4 August 2008

Z sets out on her Adventure

I've got a great big suitcase, which is nearly empty but won't be tomorrow as it'll be full of bed. Phil left their inflatable bed and the pump behind, but they'd rather like it back. They also left a rug and a blanket. I'm not sure if they left loo roll, so I'm taking that to be on the safe side.

I know it's hard for you all, darlings, but you'll hardly miss me at all, honestly. I'll be back tomorrow evening,

A slight hiccup when I couldn't find the spare Oyster card, but then it mysteriously turned up in the drawer where it was supposed to be and where I'd already looked thoroughly. I have also remembered to put in the keys to the flat.

Time to get ready. If you're at the British Museum this evening (early) or the Chancery restaurant in Cursitor Street (late), do say hello. You'll know me by my green eye and red handbag. No, they go very well together. And the chap with me is my son.

Sunday 3 August 2008

The Housewarming!

Oh, call me a safety first sort of girl. You'd be wrong, but call me it all the same. All the restaurants in London, and I've booked one I've been to already, because it was divine - really, for a girl from the provinces it was just about perfection - and convenient for where I'm spending the early part of the evening. Also, Ro hasn't been there and he'll like it too and I promised to take him for the final part of his birthday present - we like to make birthdays last.

We had a barbecue at Weeza and Phil's house. We are very full. It was yummy. Phil made burgers, and all oniony and fresh herby they were (meaty too). We took sausages and they did veggie kebabs and corn on the cob. We took the polite strawberries and they had a cheeky chocolate gâteau (do you know, Blogger is such a pedant that it underlines that as incorrectly spelt if you don't put in the accent).

The baby is due on Thursday. Weeza still feels very cheery and still, from behind, has a waist (although a bigger bum than usual). I assured her that within six months she will have lost all the weight and more. My weight used to drop below 8 stone, I told her truthfully. "You were the perfect size before" said Phil to her, smoothly.

All I have to find now are our train tickets. They are in one of two rooms. It shouldn't take long. *coughs loudly*

Saturday 2 August 2008

Power to all Z's friends

The town centre is still off. The butcher opposite Al is quite despondent about the meat in his fridge - it's a huge walk-in larder fridge and although the meat will still be quite all right, it may have risen above the temperature he's allowed to sell it at. They reckon the power will come on later this morning at about 11. Al will put his Saturday girl and boy on to shelf stacking and he'll serve the customers - the Youth of Today aren't too good at adding up, and he thinks the lack of a till will confuse them completely. The scales are operated by mains or battery, so they're all right.

A sudden and complete power failure really made life difficult for businesses. The banks had to close and Clays the printers came to a complete halt. The amount of electricity they use means an emergency generator would not cut the mustard. We called at the local garage - obviously, the petrol pumps were not operational, but Jonathan said that cars were stuck up on ramps and couldn't be got down. Not good for anyone who'd sent their car in for a service and wanted it back later in the day.

There is a wedding at the church today. Not knowing if there would be any electricity, I had to explain that there could be a problem with the music - an organ is powered by air, provided by a pump. One local church is in the middle of a field and has no electricity supply, so it is still hand-pumped, but nearly all church organs were converted to an electric pump years ago. The groom, a resourceful young man, arranged to get a generator and I said I'd meet him this morning and help set it up - I was glad to be able to ring him and say that the power was back on after all.

At least I defrosted the fridge.

I have a little list of things to do before I go away on Monday. One of them is to buy more credit for my phone, which is down to £2.30. I remember there was about £25-worth at the end of October last year and I haven't bought any since. Those of you who have met me will remember how reticent and taciturn I am, as that will demonstrate.

It's raining. It's a good think that I, bored, went out for a half-hour bike ride last night, because I probably won't be getting my healthful exercise today. You know how moths and things fly at the car in the dark in the summer? - they do the same at bikes. I had to blink constantly not to get eyefuls of insects.

Friday 1 August 2008

Z is powerless

Have you missed me? Hm. I see. You hadn't noticed I was missing. Okay. Fine.
This is what happened. And a picture! Our electricity was off for 13 hours. Actually, that's pretty impressive work, considering the damage that was done. The roof of the building housing the transformer was blown off - they say it was found on the marshland some distance away, in which case it was jolly lucky it didn't go any other way and hit any part of the town.

The Sage needed my car today, so Weeza drove over and spent the morning here and afterwards we went off to inspect cars at various showrooms. She lived in London for 9 years and didn't need one there. She took the pram, to make sure it would fit in the boot of any vehicle she was interested in. Phil cycled to the station today. This was fine, I expect, as it's pretty much downhill all the way, except the last mile which is by the river on the flat. Of course, you'll spot the disadvantage in the home journey. He also has another 3 mile each way journey at the end of his train journey. He'll become remarkably fit and healthy, if he survives the next few weeks.