Monday 30 November 2009

Sigma self to sleep

It's always the same when you know you have to get up in good time. Couldn't sleep at all the last night of the hols. Silly thing was that I hadn't set my alarm for any earlier than I usually woke naturally. Anyway, having dozed occasionally, I was awake for good at 4. I lay for a bit, humming sotto voce - obviously, I wouldn't wake my next-door neighbour, who had had no such scruples a couple of nights earlier, when the bathroom was visited at 2.30 and 3.30 and the bedside drawers were loudly opened and shut at 6 o'clock, several times. At 7.30, he or she had a shower. I felt highly miffed. Nevertheless, I didn't retaliate, not turning on the bathroom light (which started the fan) or flushing or turning on the tv. I didn't even shower until 7.30.

Anyway, after a rather unnerving drive on a wet and blustery M3 (not a large section of the journey but the least pleasant), I arrived home in good time. The Sage had missed me so much that he'd turned out the larder and washed the kitchen floor. The chickens had kindly laid me some eggs for lunch.

It was a lovely holiday and the temperature was just right really - low 20s/70s, depending on which scale you use, so not so hot I had to cover my tender pale skin but warm enough to be very pleasant, although the shock of coming back to icy rain was not so nice.

And now I'm going to have an early night and cuddle my lovely husband in my own lovely bed. Won't need much rocking tonight, I think.

Saturday 28 November 2009

Rho Ving still

This is the last full day in Portugal, I'll be back in England tomorrow afternoon and home on Monday afternoon. Wink asked me if I could stay an extra day and go with her to Bath on Monday as she's taken an extra day off but I have a meeting on Monday evening I shouldnºt miss. Dutiful to the end, you see.

Sorry I can't get all the accents right. Different keyboard and all, can't always be bothered to go back and change.

All very enjoyable here and it's warm and sunny. Wink and the Bod were going for a long walk this morning along the beach to the next village and I cried off. I've walked rather more than enough this week and Iºm resting a bit for the last couple of days. Some people hardly leave the poolside I think (It's a bit late in the season to spend the day on the beach). It seems a mildly odd thing to me, what creatures of habit most of us are. Many of them anxiously bag their favourite sun lounger early in the day rather than risk having to move a few yards. I like to ring the changes in most instances. I fear the rut.

Anyway, I hope all's well with you. I did briefly visit Dave, to make sure heºs alive as I emailed him on Saturday and he wasn't at all well then. I was slightly frustrated on Saturday. I visted my sisterºs splendid local library, only to discover that one can no longer blog from their computers. I wasnºt even allowed to leave a comment. I can only assume that there has been Abuse of the Internet in the last few months, as I could last time I was there at the end of the summer.

I must read some emails. I'm afraid there are several hundred of them - we email because we can, don't we? Mind you, so do we blog.

See you next week, darlings. I miss you frightfully.


Friday 27 November 2009

Another significant birthday, another present - 50

My forties were not quite what I had hoped for. Let's not go there, hey. My mother died in the March and all her affairs were sorted out during the course of the summer. There was some left-over money at the end which my sister and I shared, and I decided to buy a piece of jewellery for myself, in memory of my mother and for my birthday. The Sage wanted to be part of this, so in the end we chose a nice ring and went halves.

Didn't do a lot for the day, I think we had a family dinner here.

Fifties have been pretty good so far. Great, in fact.

Thursday 26 November 2009

Z throws a party for her 40th

It's the only time I ever have decided to have a party for myself. I was looking forward to being 40. The 30s had been good and I was very happy, with lots of friends and a social life (gosh). I planned it all and invited lots of people and it was all very jolly. Weeza was working in Greece at the time and I spent half the evening on the phone trying to get through to her.

I decided on a present for the Sage to give me this time. He had made me a wonderful oak box, a scale model of a 17th century coffer, which sits on the mantlepiece Even Now. It's all pegged together and the panels slot in and the only nails are ones he made for the hinges, also hand-made by him. To age the oak, he got hold of some pure ammonia (not self-made) and - this needed great care because of the fumes - the oak was put in a tin with the ammonia and it darkened it naturally. It was such a labour of love. I asked him, this time, to make me a music stand, having recently started to learn to play the clarinet. It's made of walnut with a brass adjustable rod which, of course, he'd devised himself. Before taking up the auctioneering trade, he was an engineer and still has his lathe and stuff.

My clarinet, by the way, was my grandfather's and is a Boosey and Hawkes Regent, made in the early 1950s, and so about as old as I am.

Wednesday 25 November 2009

30, and Z is on holiday again

We didn't really do family holidays very much, but we'd booked a fortnight in Jersey at the end of August and beginning of September. Weeza was 9 and Al was 7. We decided to fly from Norwich for the convenience. Sad to say, the Sage's father, Pa, had become ill as a result of a respiratory condition brought on by the field of rape growing behind the house. He died in the middle of August. However, Ma insisted that we go away as planned and she had her daughter and Hilda (I'll tell you about Hilda one day) to look after her.

While we were away, the Sage wanted to know what to buy me for my birthday. I'm rubbish at this sort of thing as I never know what to ask for, but I had the good idea of a gold chain. We looked at all the chains in the shop but none was exactly right until the man brought out a tray of second-hand jewellery. One was just right. It was slender enough to put a pendant on but wide enough to wear on its own and it was the right length and colour.

The other shop we loved was one selling stones and fossils. Weeza and Al were fascinated and we went back there several times. We did like Jersey - I'd always lived by the sea but East Anglia has sandy shores and I really like rock pools and caves. I spent happy hours watching the sea anemones and hermit crabs on Jersey.

From the rock shop, the Sage bought a huge piece of bluejohn. This is a stone mined only in Derbyshire. Therefore, as a re-import, no tax was due on its arrival in England. This had been arranged in advance but we had to go through the "something to declare" channel. The Sage and the customs men got on very well and chatted for ages. I was in a dilemma, knowing that my mother and stepfather were waiting for us, but unable to go until we'd actually been let go. So I joined in the conversation, laughing loudly so that my mother would hear and know that, at any rate, we hadn't been arrested.

I liked being 30. I felt grown up at last. Back when I was at school, my lovely Latin teacher Mr Lamb mused once that he believed he had been born middle-aged and it gave me a shock of self-knowledge. I realised that I had not yet grown into the age I was meant to be and this was the reason I felt awkward.

Once we arrived home, Ma told us that she had decided to move from the house she'd spent nearly all her married life in and where her three surviving children had been born. The Sage told me this as we were sharing a plate of sandwiches at the Yacht Club in Lowestoft. It was one of the times I spoke and listened with interest to know what I was going to say. It was as a result of this that we moved to this house. And Ro was born, though that was the Sage's suggestion, received very well by me.

Tuesday 24 November 2009

I remember being 20

The Sprouting Sage and I were on our honeymoon in the Seychelles at the time. We'd been married several months, but that was because a six-month engagement was far too long for those of short attention spans and we became impatient.

It was before the revolution there and Jimmy Mancham was the President. One day, we saw his Rolls Royce parked by a restaurant at a beach, but we didn't see him. It was an idyllic place - haven't been back since so can't say what it's like now. We stayed on the main island, Mahé and visited some others; Cousin, which was a bird sanctuary, La Digue, where there were no cars and we travelled by ox cart and Praslin, where coco de mer palms grow. We flew to La Digue in a pre-war biplane with 9 seats, including the pilot's. Rain came in through the canvas. Someone asked about a finny shape in the water below and we were casually told that it was a shark.

The Sage bought me a ring for my birthday, locally made. It is gold with blue enamel, red coral and either pinkish garnets or rubies, can't remember which. It fits on the middle finger of my left hand.

I was shocked to be no longer a teenager. Leaving my teens seemed to me to be a bigger rite of passage than getting married.

Monday 23 November 2009

Double figures - 10

I don't remember my tenth birthday either. I might have had a party, but we were all growing out of them by that time. I found them an ordeal, I must say. I was an unsociable child and very shy. You may find that hard to believe now but, at least until I was sixteen or so, I was the shyest person I have ever met and even after that it took me many years of effort to become not shy.

However, that's not relevant to my tenth birthday. If I didn't have a party, we had a family day in London. Family days in London were normally spent mostly shopping with my mother, who loved London shops (there weren't the good provincial shops in those days) plus a visit to a museum or some such place.

At this time, I was about to enter Junior 5 at my school. I was a year young for the final year of junior school but Junior 4 was the Remove, and the older pupils in the year were, if deemed academically able, skipped past it. I know that three of us, all with birthdays between September and December, did this (we were Z, Lynn and Julia) but I remember nothing else about it. I must have been taken from classmates going back five years and put with bigger boys and girls, and I went from being the oldest in the class to one of the youngest but I can't remember a damn thing about it. I was an accepting sort of child, I didn't understand what was happening so it was simplest to just take it and run, or amble slowly, with it.

My main achievements in the year were passing the 11 Plus and being the Walrus in the school play. I never took the 11 Plus, but I was deemed fit to enter Grammar School. My mother thought Grammar School was unsuitable however. She also thought that a half-decent school was unsuitable, so I continued my half-arsed education in Lowestoft. One of the regrets of my life was, when I went to the no-longer-Grammar School, it having been overtaken by comprehensive education, discovering that I could have learned Ancient Greek there. I couldn't help wondering why I'd been obliged to spend all those years in a pretty inferior private school when I could have gone to an excellent state one. Many years later, I mentioned to my mother that, as I was a girl, my education didn't matter - she was furious and denied it, but it was true. All the same, being as I say an accepting child, I just got on with things and was happy enough.

The Walrus - ah yes, as I've mentioned, I was the shyest person anywhere, evah. In the past (each year did a play for the end of term concert) I'd always been given non-speaking parts as it was assumed I'd have stage fright. In fact, as many actors will testify, they are not shy on stage, because they are not having to be themselves. One teacher got this, and proposed me, not as Alice (she wasn't quite that brave) but as the Walrus. Actually, I was the very image of Alice, with long blonde hair and an - wait for it - Alice band. So that would have been boring.

It was fine. The only person who lost his nerve was Vincent, the Bart Simpson of the class, as we might say nowadays, who played the Mock Turtle. I wore a handlebar moustache, baggy trousers with braces and a red and white striped teeshirt.

Sunday 22 November 2009

First, I was born - 0

If anyone can identify that quotation (minus the zero) from a published book I will be mightily impressed. If it's the same book I'm thinking of, of course.

I know, darlings, that you will miss me terribly while I'm away. So here are a few posts of Memories of Z's significant dates.

Obviously, I have no memory of the day I was born. But I can tell you a little about it. To start with, I was a much wanted second baby, born more than five years after my big sister. My parents had rather given up hope, which is part of the reason I was given a name meaning 'Life". Mind you, I should have been a boy, for family reasons (whole family name has died out now, apparently). I was a great big baby, weighing 9 lbs or 9 1/2 or 10 lbs, I can't remember what I was told, and I was very long. My parents expected me to grow into a six-footer. I don't think I grew much past the age of six months or so, however and was tiny for many years. Now I'm just short.

At the time of my birth, my parents owned and ran a hotel in Weymouth, on Bowleaze Cove. It's a rather splendid Art Deco building - if you've seen the Poirot series with David Suchet, the white-painted buildings featured in that were from the same era. They were reluctant hoteliers; it was force of circumstance. We moved to Oulton Broad, now part of Lowestoft in Suffolk, when I was four years old.

My mother looked after me when she was free, but I had a nursemaid called Alice (I think, I don't remember her) as she had to work long hours at the hotel during the summer season.

Thursday 19 November 2009

Pi Napples

Have you noticed, in the last few years, that pineapples are much sweeter than they used to be? Time was you had to sugar them unless you had a particularly robust tastebud, but now you really couldn't. They're easy to grow from the crown of the fruit of course, but not easy to get ripe fruit from. Back in the long ago, my father grew a pineapple in the greenhouse but I don't think it ever ripened. A pleasant memory I have from my childhood was when the Head Gardener of Lowestoft corporation nurseries took me all around the greenhouses. He was immensely kind. He was a shortish Scot called Mr Campbell and he told me about all sorts of things and gave me plants and picked me a lemon from a huge tree that grew on the end brick wall of the biggest greenhouses. I wonder if that lemon tree exists now. Mr Campbell had a reputation of being quite abrupt, but he was obviously dedicated to his job and extremely kind to a shy little girl. I remember him with affection.

I've done most jobs and only have a letter to write (a pleasant one but formal. which will take some care) and some practical things such as putting petrol in the car. Oh, and packing. Pfft. It'll be fine. I mean, the worst that happens is that I forget something and have to buy it. It's not as if I'm off to the back of beyond. I've got insurance, with medical issue duly declared, and the Sage is checking such things as tyres, oil and water for my initial journey. I find it almost impossible to get anxious as I just assume it'll all work out and I have a quite unwarranted confidence in my ability to catch up. I'm slower than I used to be - that is, no I'm not, I can still go into scarily efficient speed, but only when I have to, and I find it hard to carry on doing practical work in the evenings.

Following a conversation yesterday, I've decided that my shorthand for relationships is this -

1 (to husband and family) You come first.
2 I respect your right to make your own decisions. I may proffer advice but don't expect you to take it.
3 Thank you for your advice. I will take it into account.
4 (to husband and family) You are right unless I overrule you. Then, as it's rare, I am right.

I think that's about it, in addition to my three Golden Rules of Life, the first two of which are Be Polite and Be Kind and the third is between me and my husband. Ahem.

'Course, one falls short, does one not? But one continues to try.

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Omicron ic inability to keep my mouth shut

Life could be so easy and pleasant. However, is that what life is meant to be about? Well, I don't know, but I do have a fairly developed sense of social responsibility and I think that giving until it hurts, whether in terms of time, money, effort or whatever one is able to do, is a Good Thing. Not, mind you, until it hurts those you have responsibilities for. And one is responsible for oneself, so getting the balance right is a matter of consideration.

All the same, my policy is to help if I can and to push myself if I can without my family being *too* unhappy. I've not always got the balance right, I know. I remember once when I was whining to the Sage (some of you will already have heard this, sorry) about all I had to do, and I itemised them and it included work for him. And I added, fortunately, "of course, you come first". And his shoulders, which I hadn't realised were tense, relaxed. Taught me a lesson, it did. But at any rate I said the right thing without him having to ask.

Anyway, upshot of all this is that (no need to congratulate me) I'm now chairman of governors, and very aware of the difference between a 70 pupil primary school and a 1000 pupil secondary school. I've been stepping up the action in the past year, but there's still a lot more to learn and do. I also don't want to drop my other involvements in languages, music and learning support, though it would be sensible to do so. However, it's been for good reasons that I've been cutting back, by coming off the Nadfas committee and giving notice that I'm standing down as churchwarden and from the PCC in the spring. Of course, now the Sage's business is bigger, having increased by 50% this year alone, but as long as Weeza and I can override his inclination to let things slide and do it all in one go at the last, we should be all right.

I've been asked to join another committee, by the way. The Sage is advising against and he's right, but I may do it anyway. I'm not very good at not multi-tasking. I think it's a chronic inability to concentrate on just one thing and do it well. I rely on doing just well enough in several. I'm a born amateur.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Xi gn language

Have I mentioned that I'm getting a bit hard of hearing since I've been helping in music lessons? Or it could just be that I've realised it because when pupils speak to me and there's music going on, I can't always make out what they're saying. I've always been quite careful of my hearing and don't tend to go to loud concerts and the like very much and I live in a relatively quiet place, but I suppose that life takes its toll. The Sage has pretty good hearing however, if he uses it.

I went to a meeting at the school the other day - oh, it's only Tuesday - it must have been yesterday then. It was about disabilities and ensuring equality, lack of discrimination and access in the school - it's an interesting subject. Our high school was built on a sloping site and there are steps all over the place. A member of staff with a disability (which I was unaware of) has taken on the project and I'll be involved too as I'm one of those people who volunteers.

As an aside, I can't help wondering when that happened. In my younger days I was the sort of person who hid behind a taller person, who was anyone else, when a volunteer was needed.

Anyway, I'll no doubt get to know more about the definition of it - for a start, someone who wears glasses will not, just for that, be counted as having a disability but someone who wears a hearing aid probably will. I suppose that glasses correct a sight problem while a hearing aid helps but doesn't correct deafness? I suppose also that, in a school, a child who wears glasses is hardly unusual, but one who can't hear properly is.

At the village school they've done after-school classes in sign language, I've been told. I think that it is supposed to help with language development for visual learners, as well as being a generally Good Thing. I'd be absolutely useless at it I'm afraid. If I go deaf, I'll have to live in a little world of my own because, while I might learn to use sign language, I'd never be able to read it. That is, I probably could read it in a book but not understand the actual hand signals. When Ro was at the village school, there were two children there with profoundly deaf parents, although the children weren't. It was dreadfully embarrassing trying to hold a conversation with the mother as I had no idea what she meant. She'd patiently use gestures several times until I caught on, then my face lit up with recognition and I enthusiastically replied, only to be bemused again the next minute.

On the other hand, I'm absolutely not an auditory learner either. I can remember what someone tells me, one-to-one, but I completely switch off from an information talk unless I have it written down in front of me too. If I do, not only will I remember it but I'll remember where on a page a particular sentence is. I've got better over the years at listening, but only because I try really hard.

I must do some more work. See you tomorrow.

Monday 16 November 2009

Nu dles

Delicious stir-fry and slippery noodles, all slurped up for an early dinner as I had to go out to a very long meeting this evening. The Sage came to look for me just as the last three of us left, having put away the tables and chairs afterwards. Everyone had been very appreciative of the jelly babies, Minstrels, grapes, satsuma segments and drinks which eased our way through a productive and harmonious session, so we didn't begrudge the time it all took.

I was really tired last night and unwisely went to bed early. You'd think I'd have learned by now but I never do. After an hour's sound sleep I was wide awake by quarter to midnight, eventually got up, went back to bed, finally fell asleep sometime after four o'clock and was woken by Tilly barking at the newspaper delivery man at 7.15. I feel that I've had a long day.

There's lots to do this week, which is quite jolly actually. I've been coasting rather, recently, which is pleasant in itself but gives rise to uncomfortable feelings that life isn't meant to be this relaxed and there must be an awful lot of things I've forgotten. What's good is that I've done some paperwork for the Sage today that I'd earmarked Thursday for, so I feel a bit ahead of myself. Just as well, as that means I can do the washing and buying and packing for my holiday on Thursday instead. And I sorted out my papers for the Sage to take to the accountant tomorrow - thank goodness, he takes my stuff along with his so I don't have to. But when he asked for it, I went to the designated folder and just got everything out, and then went to another box file and got the other category of stuff out and it was all there, in perfect order, which makes me feel mighty pleased. I've never had such a big income as this year before (don't get too excited, it basically means that I can pay for my own holiday and credit card bill if the Sage doesn't get there first, and I'll actually pay income tax which is a first for me) and I'm glad that there wasn't a last-minute panic because I hadn't kept the paperwork up.

Tomorrow, Nadfas in the morning, computer work (yes, work, not blog reading) in the afternoon and gardening club in the evening. Wednesday, haircut, then a funeral, then a governors' meeting which - well, I rather think my fate will be sealed there. Thursday, getting ready to go away *memo to self: travel insurance and euros to buy* and Friday, high school music, Founder's Day ceremony, then drive to Wiltshire to my sister. Saturday afternoon, drive with Wink and the Bod to Bournemouth, Sunday morning at larkfart get on a plane to Portugal.

Yup, that's my week. If all goes to plan, that is. And, apart from tomorrow, I'll have every evening with my Sage, so that he'll miss me dreadfully next week. Because if I don't go away, how is he to remember how much he loves me? And it's a bit lowering to have to remind him.

Heh. D'you see him forgetting?

Sunday 15 November 2009


Just been watching Antiques Roadshow, which ended with John Benjam1n being entertaining as well as knowledgeable and remembered with embarrassment that this was the man I introduced to 200 people as John Betjeman.

It wasn't my fault. Really.

Mu ling, if not puking

That is, I don't think calves are noted for it. It occurs to me that I haven't reported back on Pinkie and Scarlet recently (if you haven't visited for a while - or ever - they are two cows who lived with us during their pregnancies, who have now gone back to the farm). Pinkie has had her calf, a boy, and has happily rejoined the milking herd. She is not particularly maternal and didn't mind being parted from her calf, though it's likely he wasn't thrilled. Poor animal doesn't know better and he's with his cousins, anyway. Scarlet is still relaxing and isn't due for a couple of weeks or so yet. We're rather hoping for a girl. The Sage goes to visit regularly and both cows lumber over to greet him and receive carrots and apples.

The stormy weather is over - it was a very English storm, being quite polite in its bluster. Today, there was a chill in the air but the sun was warm when I came home at half past twelve and there's a pale blue sky with a few fluffy clouds. The bantams were relaxing, basking in the sunshine at the top of the drive. Yesterday, they stayed safely in their run with unruffled feathers.

The Sage is pondering whether to buy a book on Suffolk artists. I've pointed out that all his children are worrying what on earth to buy him for a present in a few weeks - for goodness sake, let me tell them about it. Or one of them, anyway.

There's an extra service at the church this afternoon. For a (presumably sound) reason that hasn't been explained to me, we missed All Souls' day a couple of weeks ago, so the service will be today. Very little publicity has been given so I expect there won't be many people there. I'll set it up, play the clarinet and make tea afterwards. I'm not big on lighting candles in memory of people, so may not participate in that part. I don't object, it just doesn't mean anything to me. Nor do flowers on a grave, actually. I'm too prosaic to respond to symbolism and can do nothing to change that.

Saturday 14 November 2009

Lambda hope, glory and a very strong wind

Dilly was taking part in a do at the village hall this morning, so Pugsley spent the morning with us. Mid-morning, we walked down to the village hall to fetch Squiffany, who had gone with her mother. On the way home a squally rainshower hit us amidships. Didn't help that Squiffany didn't have a coat, although at least her top had a hood, as did my jacket and Pugsley's. At one point we huddled under a (fir, so still leafy) tree. We had to have cheesy biscuits and marshmallows to recover when we reached home, as well as put all our clothes in the tumble drier.

Very pleasant now, though. I'm sitting in an armchair by a glowing coal fire, listening to the rain and the wind. There's always something enjoyable about hearing bad weather when you aren't going to have to go out in it again. It's only quarter past four, but there is an early evening feel in the air.

I understand that fewer people wear watches nowadays. I hate having to fish my phone out to see the time but I need to be aware of it as I'm usually on my way somewhere for a specific hour , so I can't be without mine. I put it back on after bathing in the evening so that I don't have to remember it next morning. The Sage hasn't worn one for years, however and I gather that he's more typical of the young, who don't bother.

I was thinking about the way people tend to make snap assumptions about each other. It was because a blogger mentioned her cleaning woman, which gave rise to a teasing remark about how rich she must be. But of course we all have our extravagances and our cheeseparings and there may be good and specific reasons for one man's luxury to be another's necessity. But it can just as much be that there's one or two things that give so much pleasure that you would hate to give them up.

Then there was the "news" that we all waste a lot of leftover liquids. I think that's a bit silly, especially as it's based on only asking 300 people. The vast amount of wine that we're supposed to pour down the sink - huh? I have only occasionally thrown wine away - I remember one bottle that was undrinkable, and so nasty that it could have ruined any food it was cooked in. Otherwise, the occasional dregs, but normally a small amount would be used up in cooking. If there's more, I drink it. Obviously.

Friday 13 November 2009

Kappa tween her teeth

For new readers, my youngest granddaughter knocked out one of her new front teeth a few weeks ago, which was rather traumatic, especially for Weeza. However, we're resolutely ignoring the gap and celebrating her other new teeth instead, Today, Weeza bit a chunk out of a hard green apple (probably a Granny Smith) and gave the rest to her and she gnashed her way through it very well. For the last couple of months, Zerlina has been concentrating on perfecting her walking and her vocabulary hasn't extended much beyond three or four words, but I suspect that may be about to change. Tonight, she waved and said "bye bye" to me, which she hasn't before. She understands everything that is said to her, but she's used a couple of useful portmanteau words, one of which is "baddy" for anything rather splendid, including a handbag, which she likes very much. My bag is picked up and put over her shoulder before being trundled about the room.

I bought a new bag today, a large and capacious one which will be quite adequate as hand baggage for my holiday the week after next. I will also be able to fit files of A4 paper in it, which will be very useful for meetings when I don't want the formality of a briefcase. I did buy boots too, quite straightforward black ones with just the right heel - I can't walk far in too high or too low; an inch to an inch and a half is about right for me. This has taken some getting used to, as I've always worn heels and, being short, prefer two or three extra inches. In addition to that, I bought some trousers and a jumper so it was a successful afternoon. Sometimes a day spent not expending cash counts as successful but there are days when the plastic has to come out. The Sage and I will, I expect, politely bicker over the bill in a few weeks - he will want to pay it and so will I. He always encourages me to spend money on myself because, whatever impression I might give, I rarely do it.

I have a busy week ahead of me - apart from anything else, the Sage and I have had a most sensible and friendly discussion about doing the work that wasn't done today, without that fact being mentioned. Tact ruled. We have agreed that he and I will do some of it next Thursday (I offered Monday afternoon or Thursday as the only times I have free) and that he and Weeza will do the other part of it one weekend. So all's good here.

This isn't today's post

The Sage has unmade the arrangements that he, I and Weeza made to help him this afternoon.

Weeza and I have chosen not to be annoyed. She is going swimming with Dilly and the children, and I am going shopping for boots and possibly clothes. Then we'll spend the rest of the afternoon together.

I don't know what the Sage will do, but I'm sure he'll enjoy himself too, without us.

See you later, darlings.

Thursday 12 November 2009

Iota lovely readers an explanation

I've known my blood group since Weeza was born - I was given a card with it on and kept it in my handbag for years until my bag was stolen. I didn't think much of it - I've the same group as my mother had, O rh+ and, whilst I've never asked my sister what hers is, she must know it because she's had a transfusion.

When Weeza was expecting Zerlina, she mentioned to me that she has Rhesus negative blood. I'm not sure how this is passed down, whether I can carry it as a recessive gene or whether it has to come direct, so I asked her father what his blood group is. He doesn't know. This isn't entirely surprising, as he has his blood pressure checked regularly and yet can never tell me what it is, nor what his cholesterol count is (I get round that lack of boring info by not being tested), but it must be on his medical record and if I went for occasional check-ups like a sensible person, I'd have asked the nurse sometime. I wasn't told the blood group of any of my children, by the way, when they were born or at any other time, so I still don't know my sons' and I doubt they've got any reason to.

Anyway, it made me ask around a bit, and most women seem to know and a lot of men don't. This may be because women who've had babies have their blood group checked and remember, whereas men only know if they've another reason to. Every one of you who has replied knows, so it doesn't really indicate anything except that we smart bloggers and blog-readers know a bit about our bodies and that the Sage isn't bothered.

I did ask about giving blood after an operation and (they checked I'm not having one in the next few weeks, they're always very considerate) they said I can come back whenever I feel ready. Assuming I've not had a blood transfusion, that is. And, those of you who can't donate because they're anaemic, I wasn't strong enough to for years. I wasn't checked for anaemia, but I used to feel faint quite regularly like a Victorian Miss, so I thought it wouldn't be a good idea. Indeed, I've been turned away once because of low iron levels.

I met my friend Albert at the clinic. He was giving his 50th donation. Well done, Albert - that's something I won't achieve, I know.

Today, I've been slogging round outlying villages delivering leaflets to specific houses and being highly frustrated (not for the first time) by the abysmal level of street and house labelling. Houses are often numbered at random and names may be put anywhere - impossible to spot as a car driver and if it's a long road I don't want to walk it, just for one house. This village is very random too and any new postman is sent out with an experienced one for the first few days to start getting the hang of it.. For example, Marsh Lane is in two separate locations with no indication which is which, and the village's bypass is in between them. So is the whole of Station Road.

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Theta. Hmm. I haven't been to the theta in ages

I should have been going next week, but it clashed with the only suitable week for the Bod to go to Portugal. So Wink and I have meekly and really quite cheerfully made other arrangements, and Weeza and Dilly are going to see Falstaff.

Today, I went to the Remembrance Day service at the high school, and very moving it was, to have over a thousand silent people in the hall. I hope the teenagers found food for thought and I think they must have. Hugs were exchanged afterwards between me and friends (not pupils; some staff and fellow governors) and then the Chairman and I went and had lunch together. I drank, nervously. I drank a lot. I felt quite waterlogged. And tealogged.

Maybe as a result, I didn't faint this afternoon. If you remember, when I last gave blood I had the mortifying experience* of fainting in the middle of the town. I was standing getting money out of the cashpoint at the time, and all I can say is that I managed to wait for both my card and my cash before keeling over. Someone gave me the receipt afterwards. I frightened poor Al into abandoning his shop and taking me in his loving arms.

Ha, You see what happens when you accept me as your mother (cheers, darlings, for being so lovely about yesterday's post).

Not a lot else has happened. I gave good and motherly advice to two women of about my age (and practical help too, I was helping, honestly, not telling them what to do). I came home to mild disapproval from the Sage because of what I've offered to do, but he'll rally round because he's rather lovely that way, and I rearranged the furniture so that the radiator can be turned on tomorrow (the sofa was in front and would have absorbed all the heat). It's warm in here now, but it's time to turn the heating on. Last year, we didn't last to the end of October and it's almost halfway through November, so we''ve done better, Mind you, we haven't had snow yet, and we did last October. And every month until the spring.

Must sort out my travel insurance. Oh dear. And next week, must buy boots. Last winter I had to manage without as you can't rely on the sales. I want lovely comfy boots, regrettably low-heeled, but nice enough to take me through the winter without feeling underdressed but still able to ride a bike and walk without limping more than usual. I had to stand for 45 minutes this morning, which was not that easy, but I mostly stood on one leg with the other propped for show and it was all right. I hadn't taken any tablets because I didn't think it would be fair for the recipient of my delicious red blood.

That reminds me, do you know your blood group? I don't need to know what it is, just interested to know if you know, and if not, have you ever had it tested so had a chance to ask? Please let me know, anonymously if you''d rather, but in that case, please say if you're man or woman. Thank you.

*though I was more turned to jelly than stone

Tuesday 10 November 2009

Eta proper meal, Zed

I'm not at all bossy in real life, but in blogland I'm a real caring mummy who can't help giving good, loving advice. I can't apologise, because it's heartfelt and, actually, right. You know it makes sense.

Today, for example, I've advised Dave to insist on an instant appointment with his doctor (if you're still doubtful, Dave, what would you say to me in a similar situation?), told Belgian Waffle to live only for the day, good or bad (honestly, it's the best way if times are tough, and I've followed my own advice and look at me now *big happy grin*) and told Zed that a Cuppasoup is no sort of dinner for a woman and please to eat properly (look me in the eye and disagree, darling girl*).

I wouldn't dare to speak to my family like this. Well, let's put it another way. If Dave were mine, I'd ring the doctor myself and deal with it. He'd have another prescription by close of play tomorrow at latest, and I'd be completely sympathetic with his wish not to make a fuss. If BW were my daughter, I'd give her all my love and be as supportive as possible, with no pressure. And if Zed were my daughter, I'd cook her a lovely meal and then spend a day cooking to fill her freezer so that she needn't think about it for a few more days, and pour her another glass of wine because she doesn't drink anywhere near enough.

I've discovered my métier. I'm a blogmummy. Not the sort who writes about her children, but the sort who worries about and cares for people she may never even meet. I don't know what to make of this. I'm not alone, I know. I've never met such a caring bunch as you lot. It's evident that I frankly love you.

I'm not sure that I'll ever regain my total cynicism. Damn. Not to mention, Blast.

*She didn't, she assures me that she eats her veggies properly. She also didn't tell me to butt out, which demonstrates patience and good manners.

Monday 9 November 2009

Zeta the baby

Though I don't think much seeing to will be necessary, because by the time I arrive to babysit tonight, Zerlina will be in bed. I'm staying overnight because I'm going to a study day on the history of silver tomorrow in Norwich. Weeza is coming over here to work on sale stuff with the Sage. The next sale isn't until the end of April. This alarming efficiency is quite disconcerting. Today even I'm working, doing an inventory, but the Sage has just nipped out to keep an appointment so I've got a few minutes spare. It is lunchtime, after all.

By the way, I mentioned yesterday about how a dog cheers you up when you're down but I didn't refer to the great pleasure there is in enjoying the company of a happy dog. He loves to have fun and you don't have to be miserable to appreciate that...

The Sage was caught out by his lack of knowledge about technical things this morning. He went to the post office to get his pension - he insists on receiving it in cash, which he has to do by having an account and using a card and PIN. He keyed in the PIN, and (for the first time ever) got it wrong. Not realising that it would get blocked, he kept indignantly putting in the number. Hm. Of course, afterwards he realised he put in the wrong double number - 1123 instead of 1223, as it were. He's phoned up for a new PIN and is told that it'll take a fortnight to be posted to him. Excuse me? The person at the end of the phone could do it there and then, surely and arrange for it to be posted - I don't see why it should take longer than 3 days. As I remember, when I got a PIN wrong I ended up having to do myself a new one at the bank cashpoint myself, I'm not convinced that this will work anyway. I phoned twice for a new number, was told I was being sent one and only received the old one. It wasn't until the third call that I was told the correct thing to do. Anyway. Different bank, maybe it'll be a different procedure. I've explained to the Sage, anyway, that if he does it wrong twice to go away and think carefully what he's doing wrong, because it's probably not the machine, or him accidentally pressing a number too hard and making it come up twice. Fortunately, we can still afford to eat without access to his pension for a fortnight, but I suppose it would be all the same to them if we relied on it to live day to day.

Talking of efficiency, I've started to buy stuff for *you know when*. I think I've been influenced by LOM, who has already bought and wrapped all presents and written cards too. I don't care for it, I prefer not to start until December, but since I'll be away the last week in November and will, no doubt, wander around in a daze for a few days afterwards trying to catch up with things, this is highly sensible.

By the way, the friendly thing of sending holiday postcards to bloggers is a jolly one, and I'll be happy to join in if anyone would like to send me their address. My blog email is on my profile, but to save you clicking, it's zoesonholiday*at*hotmail*dot*com (with appropriate adjustments, of course). Martina, Dave and Dandelion, I've got your addresses.
Hm. I've taken my half hour lunch break. Come on Sage, time to get back to work.

Sunday 8 November 2009

Epsilon reasons for not having a dog

Dirty, messy, smelly, expensive to keep, particularly if veterinary care is required, need walking frequently, many want lots of exercise which you have to give them however busy or ill you are, limits your freedom to go away, has to be cleared up after unless you can always walk in the countryside, sits on all the best furniture and if, cruelly, you don't allow that then it leans on it instead, making it grubby in a strip a few inches above the ground. Claw marks on the doors. Toothmarks on the chair legs and holes in the towels if you have a puppy, as well as stains on the carpets and puddles on the floor. All combine to make an excellent case for not having a new young dog, although of course a dog you've had for a long time, when you know each other's ways and it's trained, to a greater or lesser degree, to the extent you're happy with, is fine and you tend to forget the difficult bits.

But. Be without a dog? Couldn't bear it. It's worth every minute of it.

I'm depressingly sensible and I've explained already (albeit in March) how it came about that we didn't acquire a puppy in the last few years and why I'm not looking to get one now for Tilly's sake. And I know it wouldn't make sense to have a dog that needed a lot of walks before I have, and am recovered from getting, a new hip (though I reserve the right to be entirely silly and get one anyway) but simply, when it comes down to it, if a dog needs a home, I'll give it a home and love it, and when our Tilly dies, which I hope won't be any time soon, I am sure we won't be without another dog for long.

There are enough indications, after all, that generally speaking people with pets are happier and more relaxed than those without, though I can't believe that anyone would solemnly buy a cat or dog with the intention of being happy unless they actively wanted one anyway. I do know people who've bought a dog to make sure they have an incentive to get more exercise, but again you have to want one. There's no doubt that a dog gives added security, both to the owners personally and to the house where it's kept.

It's still simpler than that, however. If you're sitting alone in a room reading this, now think of doing it with a warm body on your lap or leaning against your leg. Imagine glancing down and seeing the warm brown (more likely than not) eyes looking at you with total trust and devotion. Think that, however much the exercise will do you good, you wouldn't dream of going for a walk on a rainy winter's night, but that you'll do it without hesitation for the sake of your pet, and actually you'll enjoy it and feel the better for it. Remember that, however bad you feel, whether through loneliness, depression, illness or because you've done something you regret, your dog will love you just the same, stupid loyal creature that he is. He will be on your side, no questions asked, even if you lost your temper at his naughtiness a few minutes ago.

I like cats and I have an affinity with horses, but it'll always be a dog for me.

Saturday 7 November 2009

Delta winning hand

Well, I've been playing poker and listening to Black Sheep Boy, which is enough excuse, however contrived, for the title.

The Sage is home safely after a successful trip and we've had another firework party, this time a family one. We didn't have a guy either time, in fact. Next year we'll have to introduce to the grandchildren the full weirdness of making a model of a man and burning him in commemoration of a failed attempt to blow up Parliament several hundred years ago. Nice. Odd, the traditions that hold.

When Ro was a child, the village fête used to have a children's fancy dress party. I can't say that we are normally imaginative in this respect, but we used to put a lot of effort into this and Ro won it every time. One year, I remember, he dressed as a scarecrow and another as a chimney sweep. It was easy - all we had to do was strip some clothes off his complaining father's back, dress Ro in them and bingo! - a winning scruffbag. I can't remember other costumes, but anything involving dressing down came naturally to us.

Tonight, Phil cooked chilli and brought it and Al brought home potatoes for me to bake in the Aga. We had the chilli first, in bowls as we sat round the bonfire, then Al and Weeza took charge of the fireworks. They were mostly child-friendly ones, colourful but not too noisy, but one was called Witch's Cauldron and this startled us considerably with a loud boom and all the coloured lights shooting out rather sideways. There was a moment's shocked silence from all of us, and then Phil moved the baby's pushchair further away from the fireworks. A sheep baa-ed in the field the other side of the church. Zerlina cried, but she was only taken aback. Not frightened, oh no of course not.

Everyone but the fireworkers ate their potato outside, and we handed Weeza and Phil theirs at the end of the display. They came and ate them indoors. After a few minutes, Weeza pointed out that eating a baked potato out of the hand plain and unadorned by even butter or salt felt a bit - well, 19th century Irish was her description. Dilly opened a bottle of wine and all was well again.

Friday 6 November 2009

Gamma raderie on the internet

So blog friends have decreed that I'm to carry on with the alphabeta, and who am I to argue? Since, that is, there have been no dissenting voices, which probably means that the rest of you don't read the post titles anyway.

I've been left by my husband again, flighty chap that he is. I can hardly believe that he hasn't gone on holiday with me for years and years - well over a decade, I can't remember how long. We went, the Sage, Al, Ro and I, to visit the West Country and stayed with Wink. The night before we were due to come home, we'd been out for dinner and he hadn't had any wine. I thought that was slightly unusual, but the reason became apparent when he suddenly said that we'd better drive home that night rather than risk heavy traffic the next day. I argued (next day was a Sunday, how much heavy traffic was likely, and I didn't want to go home anyway, it was when things were at their most difficult back there) to no avail and we got home at 3 in the morning.

Anyway, he phoned this evening sounding very cheerful. He's very pleased with the china he's picked up for the next sale and he's fetching more tomorrow. He's already got enough booked in for the next sale and the sale after is more than half full.

Instructions left were to give the chickens the bunches of grapes he'd left in a crystal bowl for their lunch.

So, darlings, it's up to you to keep me my normal happy self. Or I might turn to the Demon Bottle. *Ahem* I might turn to ice cream and chocolate. I should mention that I fully intend to have one or the other tonight. Which shall I have?

Thursday 5 November 2009

Beta path to my door

I've got a problem here. I can't get out of this alphabet thingy. I can't even remember all the letters of the Greek alphabet in the right order ( I play the piano a bit like Eric Morcambe, too).

Anyway, I've just come in from a firework party. The village church has a youth club, mostly young teens, about 15 or so, and a few days ago I was asked (because of my Position of Authoritay) about where in the environs of the churchyard a firework display could be held. I replied with an explanation of where would be best, but also suggested our field would be better again, and we could set up the barbecue they wanted to hold too. This was all Fine and Dandy until yesterday evening, when I found out that the organiser was laid low by a bad back and couldn't take part.

No problem I said, I'll get the food and sort things. And the Sage would sort the bonfire. Today, I discovered that some of the youngsters' parents and siblings could be coming. And there was no likelihood of anyone actually saying in advance if they were coming, so numbers were only to be guessed.

Well, I did overcater, but then I always do. And it went very well. I confess, I cheated by cooking sausages in the Aga in advance, to be charcoaled a bit on the barbecue afterwards, but that's not a bad idea and they were very good sausages. One child was heard asking "does anyone actually live here?" and, on being told that someone did, "they must be very rich". No dear, you'd change your mind if you saw it in daylight. It's roomier than the average garden, but that's about it.

We finished by toasting marshmallows on the barbecue and with some delicious flapjacks made by Avril. I didn't get introduced to Avril but she makes excellent flapjacks.

This morning, I had the great pleasure of taking Squiffany to school for the first time. Even better, I had Pugsley and Zerlina with me, because their mothers were away in London overnight and Al was in charge of all three children. I took over at 7 o'clock this morning. They were all absolutely delightful and make me wonder why I found motherhood so hard when grandmotherhood is nothing but a pleasure.

The mothers arrived home, we all went to fetch Squiffany home from school (she goes mornings only this term) and then lunch was contemplated. I rashly offered pizza, but found I'd only got one in the freezer. We had pizza, meatballs and chips. A thoroughly balanced diet. Well, when you bear in mind there was also grape juice and orange juice, and tomatoes, onion and courgettes in the meatball sauce.

The rest of yesterday's post is in preparation. I still haven't quite decided what conclusion I'm coming to.

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Alpha minute, what do I call this post?

No, I think we all need a break from the alphabet. I just couldn't resist.

I was lying in bed this morning, resenting that it was earlier than I wanted to get up but light, when it would be dark so early this afternoon, and I started to think about the library book I started last night, and the one I started a couple of nights before. I had them in different rooms and I was up to about page 20 in one and page 50 in the other. And I thought, I'm not really enjoying them. One is okay, nothing to dislike but not the sort of read to engage and interest, but last night's was less appealing. You could see the clichéd characters appear in the first few pages and it was a series of set pieces. Not unreadable, but I just didn't care. And I thought, I'm not going to read it. Or the other. I can't be bothered. I don't have to.

I'm getting more inclined to give up on books. I think it's because there are so many that just aren't good enough. I've been a voracious reader all my life, and I don't flinch from a *difficult* book or from characters I don't like, or from a style that takes a while to get into. But, you know, too many books are published. Whoever reads them all? I read a whole lot of blogs that are a great deal more interesting and engaging than published books, and I'll include prizewinners amongst them.

While I was lying there - look, I'd no reason to leap out of bed and it was warm and comfortable - it further occurred to me that I'm getting more picky generally. What came into my mind was dogs.

I grew up with dogs and have nearly always lived with at least one. We didn't have a dog for the first few years we were married, and after Simon died we were another four years before we got Chester as a puppy, and Tilly joined us several years later. When I was a child, I was used to knowing that dogs came first. It was a family joke that, often, we all sat on the floor because dogs were in all the chairs. I slept with four dogs on my bed - they were all large, labrador-type mongrels. I was adept at walking seven dogs at a time.

Things changed when I was married. I've never let a dog sleep on my bed since - my husband comes first in this house and always will (you're allowed to tell the Sage I said that) and, largely because things got a bit out of control when my mother ended up with eleven dogs, I've always been sure I'd never go the way she did. In fact, and never say I don't learn by other people's mistakes and not only my own, I've been well put off getting a dog from the RSPCA. That was always where she went to rescue a dog, but the last two they gave her were totally unsuitable and, like some adopted children I know, were so disturbed that they should never have been foisted on someone who wasn't fully prepared for the problems. My mother coped, but it was a pity that she had to give all the support to a dog, when the dog should have been a friend and companion to her. She became unaware of the burden and sort of needed it in the end - she'd have felt rejected by a normal healthy cheerful animal and wanted to have to give her pet all her attention, however much trouble it was.

I first noticed an alteration in my attitude recently, when chatting to a friend on the phone, whose son and his girlfriend had just moved to a place of their own, having been living with her for a couple of years. I asked how it felt and she admitted that she really misses his dog. (!) I said, do think hard before getting a dog of your own and curtailing your freedom, you've not been burden-free in so many years (her own beloved dogs died a few years ago and so did her cats). Now, all my life, I've thought a dog is far more important than being fancy free and able to go off at a moment's notice. But I said it before knowing I was going to, you know?

I'll have to come back to this and explain, once I've quite worked out, what I mean. It's all getting a bit long now.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Z wary, all gingered up and listing

Zedoary is the only word I can find starting with Zed. Sorry. It's rather like ginger but with a bitter aftertaste and is also known as white turmeric.

Actually, I really like bitter tastes. You know that stuff you paint on a child's nails to stop biting? My mother tried that on me, several decades ago (obv) and I licked it all off. It wasn't so much that it tasted good, but that it was intriguing. It's like those smells that are so peculiar that you can't resist another sniff to see if it reminds you of anything else yet. Or is that just me?

Right, shall we move on...

Today, I went to visit Dave. He did visit the doctor and I'll let him tell you about that tomorrow. It took me a few minutes to find his house - I *almost* remembered how to get there (I've only visited him at home once before, when I also had the pleasure of meeting the charmingly suave Rog, and was shown Lily's plastic box which she travels in for hygiene reasons. I didn't meet Murph, a loss which I still lament). The turning to his road was nearly hidden by overgrown bushes, so I overshot a bit.

Actually, I nearly funked the germ thingy and didn't knock, but I was brave in the end, and was glad I did. Poor lovely Dave - he's looking quite thin and in need of much cake.

After that, I went on to a funeral in Norwich. The chap who'd died was only 46 but had been a dedicated smoker of various substances, most of them tobacco, for many years, and lung cancer got him. It was, I think, the third totally secular funeral I've been to (not all the religious ones were Christian) and was moving and very personal. Not saying more there, of course, there's a loving family to whom it's private, but I'll tell you the music, because we've been talking about funeral music elsewhere (blogwise, I mean, brought on by the clergypeople who find some secular music hard to deal with at a somewhat religious ceremony).

As we came in - Rock the Casbah - Rachid Taha
While flowers etc were put on the coffin - Feeling Good - Nina Simone
While people were sharing memories - Chaconne - Bach
As the curtains closed - Sheena is a Punk Rocker - The Ramones
As we left - Blitzkrieg Bop - The Ramones

I hardly knew him, but he had dear and lifelong friends. 'Bye, William, a lot of people will miss you.

Monday 2 November 2009

Y did I ever start this?

I thought that W would be the sticking place, but it turns out that Z is. Z pronounced Zed of course. Yes, it's my blogname, but that would be cheating.

Anyway, what I wanted to call this post was Wren will I see you again? Yesterday, the Sage went to fetch logs for the fire, which are kept in the front porch (What? Yes, of course it's normal. For Norfolk). He came back saying he'd had to leave the door open as the wren which lives in the porch had flown in. Later, no sign of her (all wrens are deemed to be Jenny, just as robins are habitually Cock) so he shut the door.

I was in bed reading when he came in from the bathroom. He exclaimed something I didn't catch, and then I became aware of a swooping flying creature - not a bat but the wren. They're impossible to catch, you know. Far too small and they move in an instant. In the end, after padding nakedly and ineffectually round the bedroom (it's a large bedroom and the bird was much quicker than us) for a while, we opened windows on both sides of the house (that part of the house is one room deep, so there's a window both east and west) and huddled under the bedclothes. We decided that it was going to exhaust it to chase it any more, so it might as well roost in our room and then go out in the morning.

Luckily, the wind had dropped and it was not a cold night. Not cold for November, that is. But every time I woke in the night, my feet were still cold. No sign of the wren this morning. I haven't been up yet to check for guano.

Sunday 1 November 2009

X for lunch. Poached

There's no real secret to making perfect poached eggs. Just that the eggs must be absolutely fresh. I've tried various methods, but now I simply boil water, crack in the eggs and simmer gently (or take the pan off the heat and leave them in the hot water) until they look right. Which was what I did for lunch yesterday. Only thing I got wrong, which I didn't notice until I was sitting down to eat them, was forgetting to toast the bread. Poached eggs on a slice of dry bread isn't nearly as nice as on toast.

I didn't go out at all yesterday, because the weather wasn't very good. I did various dull jobs and watched television, which is v bad, as they say. Today turned a bit chaotic. I went to church in good time as I was both playing the organ (practise in advance? What a good idea that would have been) and making coffee after the service. I thought I'd just dump the milk and bikkies (Jammie Dodgers, which were all I had as it was raining and windy and I couldn't face cycling in to the shops) in the kitchen, switch on the immersion heater and the hot water urn and do the rest later. However, I couldn't unlock the kitchen door. I got my key out of my bag (I'd used the one in another locked room) and that didn't work either. I was flummoxed. Fortunately, someone had forgotten to bolt the hatchway doors, so I climbed in through the hatch to try from the other side. I found that the cable from the urn was caught in the door jamb.

Eventually I got it out (we'll go for the short version here) and unlocked the door and got on with things, but it all took nearly half an hour. Then I found that one of the hymn numbers written down wasn't the one I expected to play and another hymn was one I can play on the clarinet but not on the organ - some of these very flowing modern hymns are okay on a piano but just don't go on the organ and besides I'm a lousy organist if I don't work hard at it - so I changed it, with no time, by then, to practise anything. It was okay. One hymn, I even played well. Would have been better if I hadn't lost count of verses in the final hymn, but there we go. The art of humility is won through humiliation.

Today's lunch was especially delicious, cooked by Weeza and Phil. Zerlina was still wearing her bee backpack and very happy. Tonight, we won't eat much. Possibly soup - there's still plenty left of the minestrone. Or there's always a poached egg.