Saturday, 31 December 2011
The photo was taken in winter, normally there was virginia creeper all over the house. My bedroom, which I shared with Wink as a child, was the one on the top right and was above our parents' room and the drawing room was below that. The study was in the middle and the dining room on the left. The conservatory led off that. I remember it always being warm and steamy, with a plumbago and a nectarine against the back wall. The building to the left was the garage, a huge two-storeyed one (there was a work bench upstairs, darlings, it wasn't a multi-storey car park). I'm not sure whether that was converted to a house or pulled down and rebuilt.
The people who lived in the right-hand part invited us over about ten years ago. Very strange to go back again after so many years. They wanted to meet my mother, but I didn't feel able to tell her about it. She so loved that house and would never return to the road after she sold it.
Alex was born here, not in a room you can see from here but at the back of the house, in my father's childhood night nursery. Only a week or two later, the Sage suggested I go with him to look at a house that his firm was auctioning the next day. It was, like this, a large Edwardian family home, and also a former Rectory. I walked in the door, turned left into the drawing room and, momentarily, staggered and gasped. "Can we buy it?"
And so we did. We hadn't been planning to sell our own home, a nice four-bedroomed detached house half a mile away, but plans can change in a moment.
Dears, thank you for your friendship over the past year. I hope you have fun tonight, whether partying or curling up in bed early or anything in between. We're having a family get-together and I'm just going out to buy ingredients and will spend most of the day cooking.
See you next year.
love from Z xx
Friday, 30 December 2011
What I have felt a keen sense of loss for, during the past 42 (nearly) years is not the person described, of course, but the father I knew and loved, and what I've so regretted is that I didn't have the opportunity to reach maturity and get to know him as a person as well as my daddy. But reading these and other newspaper clippings, I've realised that I've spent much of my life, in particular the last 23 years, unknowingly trying to model myself on him. I've always wondered, and increasingly so of late, why I have such a huge sense of duty, why I have to feel that I'm contributing to *the community* (whatever that means) and why I feel that it is, outside my family, my purpose in life.
I'm not so unusual in that, of course, I know plenty of others, and many people do far more than I. Nor am I suggesting that it is because my father died relatively young that I have turned in that direction. I don't feel I am proving myself to his memory or anything like that. I said that the past shapes you, but to be shaped is not necessarily to be scarred. I'd probably have gone in much the same way, whatever happened. However, I do feel I've learned something about myself in the last couple of days. And, although I was terribly upset when reading all the tributes, the account of his funeral and memorial service and so on, I hope I'm going to find it a comfort as time goes on. So much love and respect. But such a loss. One never really gets over it, you know.
Thursday, 29 December 2011
Wednesday, 28 December 2011
This afternoon was rather emotional, as it turned out. But I'll go back to the beginning and explain.
We have more rooms in this house than we use, now that the family has grown up and left. There are two specifically, one which the Sage uses to put stuff in, every time it's necessary for him to clear up all his chaos and one which I've stored my late mother's stuff, cleared from her place next door, where Al and his family live. Most of it was put in there about five years ago and I wasn't able to deal with it. But in the last year, I've started to, and now I'm finishing the job. The intention is that the Sage will then take it over, go through all his boxes of stuff and sort it out. Indeed, I'll believe it when I see it too, but I have stipulated that a box may not be taken in unless and until it has been gone through. I'm getting a bit tetchy about this and have hardly a yearsworth of patience left. But in fact, the Sage's room has to be cleared before that, as various things that he wants to do hinge on it.
It didn't start well when I went in to *my* room and found that boxes belonging to the Sage were lining the walls. Only yesterday, he was blaming my dilatoriness for him not being able to do his sorting out, and then I discovered that his junk was the problem more than mine. And here comes a Useful Tip for a tranquil marriage.
Find out really annoying things when you're on your own. Shout and complain, let rip all you want. Once you've done it, you won't have to again and you can be pleasant and constructive when your husband comes home. Nagging is counter-productive and deeply boring. Just listen to yourself, woman. No wonder a man switches off.
So, having got angry and got over it, I went through various boxes. A lot of things could be thrown out/put for recycling, and old photos and papers were put on one side, mostly. But I kept coming upon things that I found very poignant. An old puzzle book with my father's handwriting in. Old Christmas decorations from my childhood that I'd assumed had been broken, but which my mother had carefully packed away, too fragile to use. The newspaper notice of my father's death and a letter of thanks from his Oxford college, thanking my mother for a donation in his memory. Looking through more papers and photos tonight brought back more memories, and I'll scan in some of the pictures tomorrow (you might see some of them, darlings. Z the tomboy, and Z the bride, Z the little girl and Z's school report. I was untidy, unsurprisingly).
It's better not to look back, you know. Memories, even of happy times, don't make you happy. They just fill you with regret for what's gone. Face forward, even if the best is behind you. The present and the future are what matter. The past shapes you, but you shape what is to come.
Tuesday, 27 December 2011
Monday, 26 December 2011
I haven't always been as laid back about Christmas preparations, as I am now. When my children were small, we started before December with the making of the Advent calendars. Then we made tree decorations during December. Our house (we moved here when Ro was two, or rather the day before his second birthday) had high ceilings and a big hall and we had a tree that went in the stairwell and could be as tall as the banisters on the landing, so it could take any number of decorations. At that time, we didn't have much spare money and so the Sage and I made a lot of the children's presents too. And then I did a whole lot of baking and so on, made cakes and puddings - went to loads of effort.
For the day itself, I made lists of what was to be done. And - I'm getting to the point, darlings, there is one - I scheduled in to my time plan several breaks to stop work and join the family.
When I was a child, you see, my mother worked for hours in the kitchen to prepare the Christmas meal. My sister and I had opened our stockings when we first woke up, and then that was it. No present opening until after lunch. You can see why I'm so good at deferring gratification. I learned early. But in fact, never mind the presents, what I really wanted was all of us to be together, not to sit around quite bored for hours before a meal I wasn't too bothered about - and, after the presents were opened, my mother disappeared again to clear away, and was gone for hours. No question of us all piling into the kitchen and sorting it out, I suspect she actually didn't enjoy the whole occasion much and preferred to be on her own, leaving Wink and me with the old ladies she invited round for the day.
Anyway, I always looked forward to Christmas and never learned from experience that it was going to be slightly disappointing. So things would be different with my children, I resolved. I scheduled in these breaks, when I downed kitchen tools and spent half an hour at a time with them and let them open some presents.
Oh, another word here. The family would rock along sometime about noon and wanted us all to open presents together. So I had to compromise, just a couple of parcels at a time so the bulk were still there when my mum, stepdad and sister arrived. And then it was champagne at noon and presents were opened, never mind what needed to be done in the kitchen.
I thought it had been quite a good compromise, but Weeza's memory is of frustration at not being allowed to dive in and rip paper. Not so different from mine then but, as I pointed out, with much less cause.
There was one matter where my careful planning worked out though. I started buying early and amassed several items for each of them. There were no uncles, aunts or cousins, we didn't greatly get into the way of exchanging presents with friends because no one had much spare money for them, so I made sure there was a good pile of parcels under the tree anyway. When I'd got them all together, I spent a lot of time equalling them out. I made sure that the number was equal, so was the cost and even the approximate size. This was never remarked on, so I thought it was just me who knew - I don't think I even mentioned it to the Sage, it was just what I did to be fair. But Weeza says now that she and Al always compared. Devious little brats.
Saturday, 24 December 2011
Squiffany suggests that she be called Elf. The Sage wants to call her Pearl, it being the second name of his friend Frances (her husband and son run Big Pinkie's farm). I think that Christmas Eve is too obvious a name to pass up. But actually, I don't really name chickens. I barely remember the names of my own family, calling every chicken by name - hell, choosing a name for each of them and remembering which one is which - is way beyond me.
In other news ... I trotted round the village calling on elderly friends in a Christmas cheer sort of way, and then I went to the Carol Service (if we find another hen tomorrow, I suppose that will be her name) where I swayed gently to the music as I played, as I realised part-way through. How undisciplined of me. I've not done a lot else today.
So, darlings, have a lovely Christmas, however you spend it. I love and appreciate you all very much. I feel great warmth from this blog, and I hope you will all be happy.
Friday, 23 December 2011
I'm attempting HTML line breaks, we shall see what happens. I only know the most basic HTML, I have to admit, just enough to inset a link, a hidden message, italics and so on, and I've never found it a great shortcoming in life. But if I want to use the iPad for posts - and it certainly beats sitting in a cold study with just a candle for warmth (we're old-fashioned as far as heating is concerned and tend to put coats on) - then maybe it'll be necessary, although I have got symbols for bold, italics, strike through, link, photo and block quote. Not paragraphs.
Enough of that, darlings, quite boring enough. So, I hope you are all set for a splendid weekend, and Christmas if you celebrate it.
I'm less set than I was, because I received my tax return from the accountant this morning. I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed. Having paid two years worth of tax last year, I thought it would be rather less this time around. However, apparently I still owe nine hundred and something from last year, have to pay upfront for the current year (it's being self-employed that does it) and am, of course, having to pay tax on this year's full income, whilst I have about £3,000-worth of expenses to off-set, but that won't be taken into account for another year. First world problems, hey.
We shall not end on a low note, however. Least of all, me bleating because I'm fortunate enough to have enough money to pay tax on.
There is certainly some good news. The Sage went to see the cockerels today, and he says they are lovely. Quite small and very friendly. They follow James around and he can pick them up and give them a stroke, so that's brilliant. He had eight eggs hatch and, fortunately, four of the chicks were female. I don't know, because I didn't ask, if the other two boys are being kept by him or have been found another home. I've suggested to the Sage that we make or buy a second hen house in the next few weeks so that, as they each gather an entourage of females, they can, if they wish, make separate territories. We hope they won't fight. They're about six months old now, so should be well ready for fatherhood by the spring. It'll be lovely, having chicks about the place again.
I'm going to feel no end silly if all these line breaks haven't worked.
Thursday, 22 December 2011
Wednesday, 21 December 2011
In the afternoon, I went shopping in Beccles, and have got everything for the children. Not much more to do now. I suppose I'd better buy some food sooner or later. Still, we're out for lunch on Sunday, and it's not as if we want to eat more than usual, hey?
It's turned very mild again. I was outside when the chickens started to go to roost. When it was so cold at the weekend, they were all piling into the hen house, but now they're roosting in the trees instead. Only the old black granny (who has a deformed foot so can't jump) is in the hut and she clucked at me when I shone a torch to check before closing the door.
I'm really pleased that my party invitation has received an enthusiastic response. Not from anyone who came last year, as yet, but there we go, maybe one can have too much of a good Z. Or maybe they are a bit too busy to read blogs at the moment. That's got to be the answer, hasn't it?
At the moment, a barbed wire fence is being put around the front field. For some years, it has been used to grow hay. Before that, our friend Sally used it to graze her sheep, when she used an electric fence. There are so many rabbits around that the hay crop isn't that good, they clear a couple of largish areas in the field (which is almost 4 acres, 1 1/2 hectares if you prefer), so the Sage has decided it might as well be grazed. Pinkie and Whisper can go on for the time being, but I think it will be good if sheep go on it again. Sheep are very good for the land. Sally doesn't have hers any more because she has a full-time job in Norwich, but another friend has a couple of dozen and they could winter here next year. We do like having animals around.
Which reminds me, I hope we are getting a couple of bantam cocks tomorrow. Johnny the farmer's brother has them, and is looking for a good home. Of course, they may fight, in which case we'll end up with one cock, but there's enough space and enough girls for each to have their own little flock and keep their distance. So I hope, all being well, that we will have some chicks next year.
Tuesday, 20 December 2011
Monday, 19 December 2011
We decorated tge the tree later. I wrapped presents last night. This had sunk me into a state of mild gloom. I don't like doing that until I'm ready - ie, until I've bought all the presents. I nearly have, but there's a notable Gus-shaped exception and I also haven't bought anything much for Ro. He and Dora live in a tiny place and he hasn't room fr anything more. Once they move to a house, he says dreamily, he'll need lots of things, and for the garden too...I've a feeling he's building up to buy, don't you think? Anyway, a few other gaps under the tree, so I'm going to have a final visit to Norwich tomorrow. A first and last visit, that is, Norwich shops can't depend on me to stay in business, sad to say.
I did feel oddly jagged, though, earlier in the day. Hard to think of a reason, decorating a small Christmas tree can't have done it really, whatever I said in the last paragraph. In fact, my lack of enthusiasm was probably as a result of my mood rather than the cause of it. The local theatre's pantomime has brought me out of it, however. Sitting in the back row and no one in front of me, there was nowhere to hide and we joined in with enthusiasm, once Zerlina had stopped being frightened of Abanazar. I've just had a text from Dilly saying her two had enjoyed it so much they want to go again. Anyway, I've sung, clapped, shouted 'it's behind you" and so on, and am now gently dribbling ginger tea down my front - which was a bit of an accident, it was hotter than I thought it was going to be. Still, better than over the keyboard.
(It occurred to me that I hadn't asked him, so have taken the picture down. Sorry)
Sunday, 18 December 2011
The lunch went very well, and quite effortlessly for me. All I had to do was whip the cream for the trifle and lay the table, and Phil helped with that. Dilly said that lasagne is her favourite food, Hay ate it, carrots and broccoli with his fingers (they're bypassing much of the puréed food stage and just giving him bits of what they're eating) and everyone had second helpings, Squiffany thirds. A few minor mishaps, when no fewer than four people managed to spill drinks on the table, one of which overflowed into the Sage's shoe (luckily, Weeza was only drinking fizzy water). I was drinking wine and there was no slip between glass and lip.
Zerlina asked to go to bed at five o'clock, but I gave her some tea - she ate ham, olives, buttered water biscuits and leftover cold carrots, and a garlic clove and then a satsuma, and she was asleep by six fifteen. She just woke a few minutes ago, I gave her a drink, took her to the bathroom and straight back to bed.
Tomorrow, the panto. Oh yes it ... oh, I've already said that, a couple of days ago. Anyway, the Sage suddenly decided he'd like to come too. I was able to tell him that I knew there was one seat left in our row and it wasn't likely to have been sold - who goes to the panto on their own? - and he has secured it.
Look loves, don't think I'm behaving totally out of character, but now I'm going to go and wrap a few presents, and it isn't even Christmas Eve. Thing is, the children roam all over the house and I don't trust them not to find what's hidden in boxes. If those things are wrapped and put under the tree (which I'm going to get them to decorate in the morning), they can shake and feel but not look inside the packages.
Saturday, 17 December 2011
A family lunch tomorrow. The Sage was intending to go target shooting with Ro in the morning and then on to an appointment in Ipswich. Then Ro cried off because he has a bad cold (or man flu, how can one tell?) and now the Sage has cried off the appointment too. So, having planned lunch on the basis of no one being available to put things in the oven at specified times, it's too late to change and I'm all ready anyway. Lasagne and trifle, darlings. Sounds good to me.
Sent from my iPhone
Friday, 16 December 2011
Okay, so now I know how he feels when he gets praised. I stared at my feet for a bit and, when everyone clapped, said "thank you - thank you - no, do stop! It's a pleasure."
And yes, it has been quite a year at the school and it would all have happened just as well if not for me. I didn't make the difference, but I have given all the support I can and I've done pretty well. The flowers are not undeserved, but they are unnecessary.
Although the weather has become mild and wet - apparently much of the country has snow - there's nothing like end of term to make the holiday spirit kick in. I'm having lunch with two other governors at a nice pub in the next village where they have good food and a log fire, and then we're going along to the informal pop concert at the school in the afternoon. Great fun, staff and students join in, governors don't, fortunately.
Oh, and Lovejoy lives! Well, that doesn't surprise me at all. Have you actually met Rog?
Thursday, 15 December 2011
Leave space for cries of "oh yes it is" and "oh no it isn't."
I did learn to touch-type though, at school. It was one of the most useful things I did learn (I was largely self-taught, it wasn't the most academically-minded school). I decided I couldn't be bothered with French any longer, and declared I was giving it up. Now, what I will say about that school was that they were helpful. So they okayed my decision, but said I had to do something else instead, and was sent to the Business School over the road every week to learn to type. I came to my senses a couple of years later, took O and A Level in French, win/win there. Years later, I said to the Head at the village school that it would be very useful for the children to learn typing, as computer skills were just coming in. 'Oh, but it'll all be voice recognition in a few years, they don't need it." I didn't agree, but even the chairman of governors doesn't rule in the classroom, so I didn't pursue it. But in an office, everyone talking to their computer? Hardly. Even if it were not for the problem of programming it to recognise your voice. Siri is pretty good, actually, but even so, he put down 'firk' (firk?) for church the other night. I am told that some people flirt with Siri or try to carry on conversations. Er, no. I'm not that sort of a Z.
I think that I managed that whole paragraph without a mistake. Not bad, for me.
I hauled several pieces of beef out of the freezer this morning. Just slices, of braising and stewing steak. Al and Dilly buy from local farmers, but soon over-fill their own freezer and rely on ours. Only trouble is, after a few weeks, they forget about the meat. So it's there for a long time. I'll buy them some fresh to replace it. I diced and fried it from half-frozen because I was going out, and I suppose that had some effect, because the sauce had become thicker than I expected. It was just a basic beef casserole, onion, carrot, garlic, red wine, a tin of tomatoes and an Oxo cube (I don't qutie trust hte flaviur of frozen meat). But it was gorgeous. And there's loads, I'll probably freeze some. It'll be useful when Wink is staying oer Christmas.
Not correcting typos is good for me. Thank you Tim. Thank you very bloody much. Dear heart.
Wednesday, 14 December 2011
I received a present from Texas. Thank you very much, LX. I shall enjoy getting to grips with cup and spoon measurements instead of ounces or grammes, and think of you every time I bake.
It has been a full day if not a busy one. My friend from childhood, Charlotte, visited us - she last stayed back in February, but has been ill most of the year so, although we've spoken on the phone, I haven't seen her. She has moved here from Holland and now lives in the next town, a few miles away.
The new boiler was installed yesterday, I paid the bill straight into Mourad's account this morning. He and James, my tenant, are both happy. My bank account is straitened but not quite empty. I can still afford Christmas, especially as I just had a credit card bill today for only £14.13. I am quite a frugal Z, on the whole, which is a rather dismal thing to be, I think. I'm sure you all have a mental picture of me merrily shopping my way out of the recession.
Those of you who visited us in May (or at any other time) would not believe the loveliness out in the drive. No weeds in the gravel, a good layer of new gravel and plenty of space to park any number of cars. It's so spruce and tidy that it makes me slightly uncomfortable. Too perfect, you know? I don't really feel quite at ease* with perfection and prefer slight shabbiness and a few randomly scattered items that shouldn't be there. Still, it's only a matter of time and I will have my wish. I have every confidence.
Darlings, it's only half past ten but I didn't get all the sleep I'd have liked. I'm going to bed soon. Sweet dreams.
*Thank you, Tim
Tuesday, 13 December 2011
Yes, it has been fully and frankly discussed. Yes, thank you eBay, I have been able to retract the bid (which had gone up to nearly £200 by then, so I might feel morally obliged to not disappoint the vendors by putting in another bid to bring it up to that...but not tonight, I'm too cross) and the Sage has promised to be more careful in future, and get me to do his bidding. Which I get so bored with, mind you. No, things are not totally harmonious in the Zedary. It'll blow over, of course, it was a mistake and anyone can make mistakes, hey?
Sixty-eight thousand pounds for a wrap-around vesta though. Bli me. Though £200 is beyond common sense too.
The day had been spent charmingly, with Dilly and Hay, and then at the church watching the Nativity play. Anyone who can resist the Christmas story has to be tired of life. You don't have to believe it's more than an allegory* to be touched and moved by it, especially when enacted by children. Two girls sang a duet at the Annunciation, while two other girls played the acting parts of Mary and the angel Gabriel. Their voices were beautiful, they are ten years old at most but sang clear and true.
The final part of the drive is under way at last. The area outside Al and Dilly's gate has been scraped down to leave room for gravel, which was then applied and there really is not much more to do, Another few loads of gravel, once other areas have been scraped free of weeds and levelled, and we'll finally be done. And then we can move on to the next job. I'd say it's like the Firth of Forth bridge, but they completed the painting of that. We will never finish here.
*I have no wish to involve religious, political or other views here, darlings
Monday, 12 December 2011
I was competent. That's what I'm there for, I'm not the main event but have to do a recap from the governors' point of view and be appreciative. A few encouraging words are fine, but I need not to draw attention to myself, whilst not actually sending people to sleep. There's been a lot happening this past year and I couldn't seem to get my speech under 925 words, which I timed at 5 minutes, 15 seconds. When it came to it, we were in the Sports Hall and the acoustics aren't marvellous, so I had to wait a bit for the sound to catch up, so it may well have taken nearer 6 minutes. Longer than I'd wish, but no great problem. No, I wasn't nervous, I had a bit of a flutter about an hour before, but that's not out of the ordinary, and I actually don't mind speaking to a few hundred people. Being short-sighted is an advantage there, I think.
I've been looking through the list of former guest speakers. Back in 1974, we had John Ebdon. My favourite broadcaster ever, hooray. The next year was Margaret Thatcher. Let's not get into politics please, I bet she was inspirational. Hammond Innes, Sue Ryder, Viscount Tonypandy - someone had some influence, to get that calibre of speaker. I remember Martin Bell, he was excellent, in his white suit. Louis de B. didn't give a speech but read a short story, which was entertaining.
I have just remembered that photo of Gus as The Fonz. Heeeyyyyy.
And if you have been, thanks for listening.
Sunday, 11 December 2011
And, having joined Twitter a while ago but never used it, I have been prompted by Rog finding me there. Bring it on, darlings. If you use it, please let me know and I'll follow you, or whatevs. I'm not quite with it all yet. But I find half measures a bit dispiriting, so now I've made a start I'll use it. I'll find a button to put on the side so you can find me too.
Saturday, 10 December 2011
This afternoon, the Sage was going to visit our dear friends Arthur and Avery. To my pleased surprise, he suggested I come along. Togetherness isn't quite the Z and Sage way. I had a brilliant time - the Sage was sorting out his ID at the bank for a while, so left us - Arthur had never quite appreciated that he had been the witness of the Sage and I first getting together ... can't remember if I've ever told that tale, but if not I'll come back to it ... but we had a very entertaining reminisce - and this carried on once the Sage returned. Then he produced a huge carrier bag containing three of the four pictures he bought at Bonhams on Thursday. I had asked to see them, but he said he had taken the main one to the restorer, and fobbed me off. I understood this afternoon why he had asked me. He wanted to unwrap them in front of other people. He had bought two watercolours and a charcoal drawing on a whim, unseen, and funked discussing it with me one to one. I have no idea why, I wouldn't have grumbled, except to ask where they were to be hung. I don't know why he wouldn't show me the oil painting before restoration, or maybe just cleaning, either. I've seen enough paintings to appreciate potential.
If I'm sounding a bit miffed, well I am. Not that he bought them, although why he has this compulsion is beyond me, nor that he's secretive, because I'm well used to that. It's just because it rather detracted from a lovely afternoon with some of our oldest friends.
In talking to A and A about that first meeting, I realised something that I'd managed to forget. In May, we will have been married for 39 years. I'd succeeding (whilst knowing last May that it was 38) to leave out a year, and tell people that this was the 38th. I suddenly feel terribly, terribly old.
Tonight, the Sage kindly cooked dinner. I'm now sitting by the fire, bathed, pyjamaed and dressing-gowned. Quite relaxed, but feeling terribly, terribly old.
Friday, 9 December 2011
I had my phone in my jacket pocket on silent, but felt the buzz when I had a call. So, when we had a few minutes' break, I had a quick look and there was a message from the Sage. I rang him back and he wanted my signature. I had to say that I couldn't possibly be available for an hour, but to come along after that. To cut a long story short (and it was a long story, the whole thing took a couple of hours), he had slightly cocked up on the bank transfer front and mislaid a chequebook - or possibly a replacement hadn't arrived and he needed me to help out because he'd made out a fairly large cheque on an account that couldn't cover it. This was easily dealt with because there was plenty in another account, except for two things - one, that we had to go to the next town because the bank in Yagnub closes in the afternoon, and two, that I next received a text from my tenant saying that the boiler had stopped working. Oh, and three, actually - I was in the middle of interviewing for a new head of faculty. I felt the tight band of stress around my head.
Of course, it was all fine. We went and got the bank sorted out, and the teller was very helpful although there was some unfamiliar paperwork involved. Then I went and phoned the boiler chap and asked him to liaise with the tenant and get the boiler repaired. I texted the tenant, of course - as I had done, reassuringly, in the first instance. And the interviews were fine.
And now it's Friday night (thank you, AQ, for telling me I'd lost a day), and all I have to do over the weekend is get ready for Speech Day on Monday. It'll be fine. What's to go wrong?
PS Mourad the boiler man has just phoned. A new boiler is needed. £1,900 and something. Oh well. What was I saying about there being enough money in the bank? Christmas at the Zedary might be a bit quiet.
Still the good news is that I've already got my new iPhone. They can't take that away from me, as the song puts it.
Thursday, 8 December 2011
This evening, I went to the Winter Concert at the high school, which is where all the students taking individual music lessons perform, solo or in groups. If they are learning an instrument or singing, they are expected to join a band of some sort. There are several peripatetic instrumental tutors, but only one music teacher in school (although we will be appointing another one for next September when we gain two extra year groups) and she gives up nearly all her spare time, breaks and lunches, to open the music rooms for practice and extra tuition.
What strikes you more than anything is the enthusiasm and love of music among those young people. It's a complete delight and really heart-warming. We had some brilliant musicians in the past few years, who now have moved on, and there's a bit of a gap, but it's rapidly being filled. I was genuinely impressed by the ability of some of the pupils. There had been some boys with fine singing voices and now the Man Band has been replaced by the mixed-sex Rock Choir, with a majority of girls, and there are not so many classical instrumentalists at present, although they are coming along, but there are some amazing guitarists. One band, really quite stunningly good, is only Year 9. I'd assumed they were older, I wouldn't have expected such ability or assurance from 13-year-olds.
A friend who works in Aberdeen texted me to say, first that he wasn't able to get home from work because the roads were closed, then to say they had been opened, but he was being diverted because of floods. We had a sudden sharp downpour at about 6.30 and it's still very windy, but nothing like the weather in Scotland and northern England. I haven't seen the news tonight, I know there's a lot of power lines down but I hope nothing worse.
And now, I'm having an early night. Not an early start in the morning which is good, I might get some washing on.
And tomorrow, I must remember to post a picture of Gus. I've got Weeza's permission. It's fabulous.
Wednesday, 7 December 2011
Things improved once I'd slept and woken again. And then I went to visit Weeza and Gus - who was all smiley and gorgeous ... well, so was Weeza I suppose ... anyway, eventually she went to get Zerlina from pre-school and then I went into the city, as we say about here. Only, of course, with a glottal stop. I went down the ci'ee to do some vital shopping.
I do like the Chapelfield mall. I'm not exactly a shopping mall woman, which won't surprise you - more a corner shop girl - but it has a good feel to it. I didn't know where to go, so went to the place that tells you, touched the screen appropriately, and a helpful young man appeared - as if by magic, my loves, like in Mr Benn - and asked if he could help. "Is there an O2 shop?" I asked (knowing there was, I'd checked online). He looked pleased. "Just along there on the left, the shop before the Norwich and Peterborough." "I need to get a key cut." "That'll be Timpsons, slightly further along on the left." Darlings, I was dead impressed and told him so.
I got my keys cut by Garth, who was charming and asked what my plans were for the day - no, not in a dodgy way, just conversation. I told him. The lady waiting to be served enthused about her iPhone.
The girl at O2 was able to tell me my average phone, text and internet use, which was jolly useful, but they didn't have iPhones in stock. So I toddled along to my second home. And I was welcomed, made to feel lovely by people who understand and have come home with a beautiful 32GB iPhone 4S, which is already making me happy. I was also happy to find that I can transfer the information on all my apps to it (I'd be gutted if I had to start Angry Birds from scratch) and also keep it all on the old one - everything but the use of the phone itself - and that in due course I can pass it on to the Sage and he can dump his HTC (or rather, sell it).
So then, I took the new keys back to Weeza, checked they worked, gave her one and kept two for us (I have got a key of hers but can't find it right now) and cuddled Gus and chatted happily to little z.
And, by the way, I'm so glad that Zerlina likes good food. She ate strong Cheddar, black olives and chorizo sausage for her lunch. She will never be wary about new tastes, and I think that's jolly fine.
Tuesday, 6 December 2011
Weeza put a brilliant photo of Gus on Facebook earlier, I've asked if I may post it here. Highly amusing.
Tomorrow, I'll go to Norwich and see them. My phone contract is up next week and so I also need to sort out a new one. That's as far as I have got in the planning stakes.
I'm sorry, those of you to whom I owe letters (I think there are four of you, at least). I'm not going to write them tonight either. I really have to switch my mind off for a bit. I'm planning to watch a DVD and read a book. Simultaneously, of course. I can't just watch tv, it isn't possible.
Darlings, if you are wondering why I really should skip a post once in a while, I think this shows it. Really, quite uninspired. All the same, it's good to touch base with you. Does that make me needy? Eek. Or too reliant on habit? Worse. I don't do routine.
Monday, 5 December 2011
This evening, however, the Christingle service at the village church. I was put in charge of the microphones. Judicious turning up and down of volume, and playing a CD when required. I was right at the back of the church, and all the singing that happened seemed to be at the front. So, duty called and I swelled the volume at the back.
I'm no singer, you know. I can hold a tune, I suppose, but I've got limited range (I had a throat operation more than 25 years ago and have used that as an excuse for D to be my highest point, under protest, ever since) and I can't project a lot. My speaking voice, that's different. I can boom across a crowded room, if necessary (but only if, darlings). I can't pretend to have a lot of interest in singing, personally. I prefer an instrument to speak for me - which probably means, to hide behind.
My mother, who had a perfectly good voice, was very shy of using it in song, and that must have influenced me. But now, I am humble enough to show confidence, even when misplaced, and so sang aloud. Al and co came along - Hay was perfectly sweet and smiled at everyone until he finally fell asleep when the Christingles were lit and the lights turned off. The church was packed. It was lovely, even though I'm not wildly happy about religious indoctrination for small children, you can't count Christingle, any more than any other part of the Christmas story, in that vein.
And that's about all, my dears. Tomorrow, interviewing for an assistant SENCo. Six candidates. They all look good on paper. Another tricky one, then. Good luck, as I say at the start of each interview. It's my job to 'put them at their ease'. Me, darlings. Heh.
Sunday, 4 December 2011
Anyway, that's not what I came to write about. When I mentioned the Mole song the other day - I know, I was shocked to find how bad it was, there is nothing to redeem it at all, not even as a novelty - it reminded me of my first two musical loves of a popular nature. And so I looked them up. First, this ditty. I'd have been two. I know what I liked, it was the marching rhythm, which would have appealed to a toddler, and it was also the lyrics. Lay down your arms and surrender to mine. I thought that was incredibly witty, such a clever play on words.
But the this one was my next love. And, playing it ... goodness, I'm in heaven. I still absolutely adore it. I can't manage any sort of critical evaluation, I'm 1957 Z, in love with Perry Como all over again. I kept the record for years, until Weeza, as a very small child, callously chucked it on the ground, where it shattered, along with my heart. To be fair, this has been on her conscience for her whole life and she bought me an LP of his, some years ago. This was on the B side of the original, which is quite nice, but it's Catch a Falling Star that will forever be Z's song. *Sigh*
Another year passed, and my sister bought this record. You've got to agree, it beats the sodding Mole song.
And now I've got to look up the divine Perry on Spotify, so that I can play Z's song whenever I want to. I'm serious, you know, I've gone all tingly.
Saturday, 3 December 2011
We were going to Norwich today, to meet the Sage's sister June, Weeza and family and Ro. However, I had a phone call from Dilly (she and co weren't coming because it was the school's Christmas fair). There was a cow outside their bedroom window. O K. The Sage was out. I went out to investigate, and Whisper was there, quite calmly eating lawn.
I should explain that it's only Big Pinkie who has a name, the other cows now come with just a number. So we select a name for that season's cows. Last year was Scarlet, this year is Whisper.
I went and said hello and she showed the whites of her eyes in a mildly alarmed manner. Since she was near beehives, I didn't want to worry her, so I gave her several pieces of apple and she calmed down. Cows like apple. Pinkie was bellowing worriedly for her to go back to the field, but Whisper showed no inclination to return. It was beyond me to drive her in the right direction single-handedly, so I left her to it until the Sage got home.
And then Pinkie got out.
Anyway, the Pinkster is a wise old cow and very placid, so the Sage and I pointed her in the direction of the gate and she went home. Whisper nearly did, but then veered off down the drive and ended up on the road. Fortunately, an oncoming car stopped her from turning towards the village and she went past the church and down the lane to the further end of her field. Pinkie was making quite a noise, anxious for her friend to return home. It took quite some time, but in the end, half a ton of cow jumped over a three-strand barbed wire fence and ended up right where she had come from. We mended the fence, shut the gate, washed our hands, jumped in the car and, thanks to a place in the car park being available right by the entrance, were in John Lewis by the restaurant right on time.
This evening, we went to a quiz at the village hall. And we did pretty well, considering there was a round of 20 questions on Christmas hit tunes that we didn't know, and came third. Guttingly, Al and Dilly's team came second.
And so, my darlings, to bed. An hour's sleep last night and then a short doze in the morning does not do the Z wrinkles any good at all. I look positively wizened.
Friday, 2 December 2011
I've led something of a charmed life and have had hardly any mishaps. My sister, on the other hand, always seemed to be the unlucky one and has a number of scars. I can pretty well itemise mine.
The first dates from the time I was picking roses for my mother, using scissors rather than secateurs. Unfortunately, I absent-mindedly left the index finger of my left hand just behind the stem of a rose and I nearly succeeded in cutting a sizeable chunk out of it. The scar hardly shows now, however, being hidden among the other creases of my knuckle.
The second, I received in my early teens. I hated organised games. I'm not a team player, frankly, and was less one then. I have little or no competitive spirit and was an independent little soul. If I were a child now, I'd probably be tested for autism, so blinkered was I. I put it down, now, to shyness and short-sightedness. However, there was one unfortunate day when I actually made an effort in hockey - surely the ghastliest game known to schoolgirls, not least because of the short pleated navy skirts we had to wear, which made the slightest lass look hippy. I was short and small, but reasonably nippy, and I dived forwards - sadly, so did a tall girl called Leonarda (I remember her surname, but it would hardly be fair to mention it here) who probably lifted her hockey stick a shade high as I dived a shade low...my mouth got in the way.
I was so polite, you know. I was taken off to be sorted out, blood streaming from my mouth, and left the premises at the end of the day with a thoroughly fat lip. I turned my head as my mother drove up and got in the car, so that I could tell her what had happened before she saw it and was horrified. I have a scar on my lip, but I doubt you'd know it was there. I can feel the scar tissue, but sometimes can't see it myself. Remarkably and thankfully, my tooth was completely undamaged.
The worst other thing that happened to me in childhood was a sprained wrist. Honestly, I was either very careful or extremely lucky. Maybe the one goes with the other, but I give credit to my guardian angel. You may scoff all you like at any of my religious beliefs, but never say a word of doubt concerning him. He is there, literally. It's not even a case of belief. It's a fact.
Nothing else ever went amiss with me until I was around thirty years old, and then I ran up against Thumper, as one of our rabbits was unimaginatively called. He was brown and a bit stroppy. I was feeding him in his hutch, put some food in his bowl, then reached to put the rest in, and he bit me. Little beast. I have one scar on my right hand where the lower incisors went in, and another long one where he raked down my hand with his top teeth. I smacked him and never fed him again without gloves on.
That was it, you know, until I had my hip op. I did have an operation on my vocal cords, but there is minimal scarring there (I wasn't allowed to speak for weeks, darlings, can you imagine? until it had healed) and you'd have to put your whole head in my mouth to look for it, and that would block out the light.
On the other hand, I've got a shedload of moles. The one under my right arm is known as the Mole that Lives in a Hole. Back in the day, my sister teased me about it and I was quite sensitive. Now, I'm quite fond of it, only hoping it never turns squiffy.
Here you go. Let it never be said that music in the '50s was anything but totally crap.
Thursday, 1 December 2011
I said I'd tell you a story. Honestly, darlings, what I'll do for lovely eyes and curly hair. I was stopped by a salesman, who charmed me into buying expensive nail stuff - which of course I won't use, my nails are rubbish and I sometimes bite them. I don't habitually bite them any more, but they're so weak that they break and then I do, sometimes for months. Sorry, I know I've destroyed your good opinion of me and you love me no longer, but I have to tell the truth at whatever cost. Anyway, I'm not telling you what it cost, but I've got enough for three Christmas presents. But then he tried to flog me eye stuff.
Actually, it's damn good. I've got this crease under my left eye. Not under the right. Well, I had. It's almost vanished. And this is 36 hours post application. But I'd said no, and keeping on trying to sell after I'd said no ... well, do I look like a pushover, darlings? Pfft. You're being silly. I am...so far. And then that's it, and once I've said no firmly, I don't change my mind. So I did walk but, adorable as the boy was - oh my word, he was charming. Fortunately, I'm not susceptible to the charms of boys, and he was certainly gay anyway. Too sweet not to be - but also too pushy not to annoy me in the end, though I didn't show it.
Tonight, I'm a bit lonely. The Sage has gone away on a business trip. I had to leave the house at 8.30 this morning, so we said goodbye - I'd applied lipstick and, inexplicably, he didn't want it all over his face, so he kissed me and I kissed the air. And then I left, and I won't see him again until Saturday afternoon. And I will get lonely.
Mountain Goats. But I won't come to a salty end.
I will rise up early and dress myself up nice
And I will leave the house and check the deadlock twice.
And I will find a crowd and blend in for a minute
And I will try to find a little comfort in it.
And I will get lonely and gasp for air.
And send your name up from my lips like a signal flare.
And I will go downtown, stand in the shadows of the buildings
And button up my coat, trying to stay strong, spirit willing.
And I will come back home, maybe call some friends,
Maybe paint some pictures,
It all depends.
And I will get lonely and gasp for air.
And look up at the high windows, and see your face up there.
And, to clarify, I'll keep on blogging daily right now. Until the end of the year, at least. And then, I might decide to miss a couple of days, or a week, or not blog if I have nothing to say. But I know that, for some of you, I'm your daily soap opera. And I couldn't love you more for it. I'm immensely grateful, and I thank you.
Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Darling, she talked. Awfully pukka, but not actually strident, but she never shut up for a minute for the whole journey. She and her husband had some papers and magazines each, she commented on every damn article in hers, passed them over and commented on everything in his/now hers. Additionally, I know the results of her asthma test, her opinions on wine, rugby and Mike Tindall in particular, and a number of other subjects too. I'm not sure whether she was trying to impress her husband or me (she caught my jaundiced eye a few times), or just generally unable to shut the hell up, but I was edgy. I couldn't concentrate on my book. In fact, I went to sleep for a few minutes, just to get away.
One of the reasons I was glad to have a chance to talk to Chris, was that he is a delightful long-term blogger who is not afraid to take breaks, sometimes protracted ones. I was slightly alarmed, a few weeks ago, when Diamond Geezer talked about his daily blogging compulsion. He's blogged far longer than I have...but all the same. I do feel a bit of it and, in nearly six years of blogging, I feel a mild pride that I have always written at least as many posts as there are days in a year. However, maybe less should be more? I suggested to Christopher that maybe I should wean myself off the daily post and that I might write better for it, and he thought that was a good idea...not that he suggested I write badly...no need to say a word, Chris...
Anyway, I'm mulling. And I think that, next year, I'm going to miss odd days or even weeks, on occasion. I used to not write when I was away, but that's changed with the iPhone. Though that's another matter, especially when I go away on my own. It can be that I want to share experiences with when I don't have anyone to talk to in the evenings. Hmm. But, quite self-centredly, I asked for advice and received it dispassionately, so the least I can do is take it on board. If I do start to take breaks - and I don't think that will be easy - I'll give you fair warning. It isn't less of a contribution to blogging, which I enjoy very much, just a personal thing.
I write daily and sometimes it's pretty good and sometimes it's pretty dull. It's a sort of discipline, to write every day, because I found, a long time ago, that if I don't write regularly then I feel that, when I do write, it has to be 'better'. Six years on, I should be over that, and maybe my discipline should go in a different direction.
Tomorrow, I'll write my Zado Annie post. Oh dear. Charming gay salesmen, hey.
This has been one of the shortest holidays I could have had, but was well up among some of the best. I found a combination that suited me very well, really enjoyable meetings with friends, plenty of time to walk and enjoy London and also visits to museums and galleries to see a wealth of interesting and beautiful artefacts and pictures. Add to that, down-time to read and relax in the cocoon of a hotel room, and I seem to have hit on a perfect break.
I haven't managed to reply to comments or correct typos, so will do that from home.
Today, of course, there has been the public sector strike. There were barriers up at Trafalgar Square, and lots of police, and some roads were closed, but only a few people, a group of ten, holding placards. I walked along the Strand, which was closed to traffic. Most people still walked on the pavements though. I walked down the central reservation for a while, until it occurred to me that I could enjoy the rare pleasure of strolling in the middle of the road. At the end of the Strand, I heard some toots and drumbeats and along came a procession of demonstrators. It all seemed calm and good natured, both on the part of the demonstrators and the police. I stood and watched for a few minutes and accepted a leaflet, although I binned it after a few minutes.
I'd though I'd go and have a large glass of wine to mark the end of my break, but then I suddenly fancied edamame beans and headed into Wasabi in Fleet Street for sushi instead. Frankly, darlings, after the walking and moderate eating (notwithstanding meals with friends) that I've done this week, I'll be mildly disappointed if I haven't lost a millimetre or two from the waistline.
I kept walking, having done and seen all that I'd wanted to in museums, and dodged down side streets and alleyways, losing myself while keeping a sense of direction.
And now the train is in, so I will finish. Laters, darlings.
Sent from my iPhone
Tuesday, 29 November 2011
I've been reading Fwengebola's blog for several years, it is hilariously ouch-making on occasion and I've taken the opportunity to give maternally good advice and sympathy, which intrusion he has dealt with manfully. He is, in fact, even better company than I expected and I had a great time last night. Thanks, Fweng.
Today, PixieMum and I chatted for so long that it wasn't until her dear husband, Ian, turned up that we realised it was half past lunchtime ... So we had lunch too. Again, lovely company and many thanks to you both.
And then I had a phone call this evening from Christopher. He phoned on the off-chance, I was about to leave for a solitary supper at the noodle bar around the corner from Angel station (my usual resort when I'm staying in Islington - not that I was this time, but not far away) and we met for dinner. Again, I've had such a nice evening. Chris and J came to my Wall Party in the spring but, because of my ludicrously stupid decision to have a barbecue which didn't happen because it was cold and windy, I spent most of the time cooking and not much of it chatting. So, the guests I'd wanted so much to meet all talked among themselves more than to me. Thank you, Chris, for listening to me rabbitting on and I had a lovely evening.
Now back in my hotel, and going to have a bath and then to bed.
Sent from my iPhone
Monday, 28 November 2011
The morning didn't start altogether brilliantly, because whole strings of farm vehicles on the road slowed us down, and then the traffic on the approach to Diss station was awful. I got out and started walking, then suddenly it cleared, the Sage drove alongside with the door open and I was on the station platform with three minutes to spare. Then, nearing London, we stopped for a bit and ended up ten minutes late.
Once seated, I had toddled along to the buffet to get some breakfast. The man in front put his card in the machine, which froze. The assistant couldn't sort it out, got the guard and the whole thing took nearly ten minutes to put right. If it hadn't worked at the moment it did, I was on the point of paying the bill. However, not only did I save £7-something, I also had the chance to say consoling things to the poor assistant and chat in a friendly way to the helpful guard, which was more cheering than feeling impatient.
I checked which bus I needed, found the road where the stop was and was fortunate enough to hop straight on to a Number 8. A few minutes later, I got off again, crossed Brick Lane and got on the next Number 8, going the way I wanted. Not the first time I've done that. Not very bright, Z.
And contact has been made with blogger friends and I'm off later to catch a tube to where one works, and we'll go out for a meal. I'm quite hungry already, in fact, a croissant (quite plain, darlings, not even a spot of jam) for breakfast and a chicken salad and ginger beer for lunch are distant memories already. And tomorrow, another kind blogger is coming all the way in from Twickenham to meet me. I'm a lucky blogger.
Sent from my iPhone
Sunday, 27 November 2011
I'm a bit busy this evening, because I'm off to London for a couple of days and haven't started to get ready yet. I'm hoping that the two blog meets that I've set up will happen okay - sure that one will, but the other person hasn't yet confirmed and I don't know where or what time yet, and have only the pseudonymous email address and no phone number. May have to tweet, but I avoid Twitter almost entirely. Too many social networks already, can't get involved in another, though I have an account.
It's not yet December, so I apologise for the subject of this picture, but it is at least Advent, so officially the Christmas season. I thought it was jolly good for a child who is only just five years old.
PS - both made contact. Huzzah!
Saturday, 26 November 2011
So thank you so much for your concern and for pointing me in useful directions.
I've hit on a vein of nostalgia with yesterday's post. Oh good. Can't beat a bit of nostalgia. Although, in truth, I'm not going to claim that everything was better in the good old days. Ups and downs all the time, and would you honestly put the clock back? - bear in mind that you can't cherry-pick, you'd have to accept the entire package. I wouldn't, but then I'm so practical, darlings, I live in the moment and make the best of it. I can't go back anyway, so why hanker?
As Blue Witch says, we have shared memories. My friend Lynn, whom I've mentioned here before, was the only person I knew at school who grew up without a television - her father died when she was seventeen and her mother then bought one and Lynn promptly became addicted - but she would be one of the few who didn't grow up with Yogi Bear and the Flintstones, or Blue Peter if you lived in a more sensible household than mine. But there were many programmes where the memories cross the generations - everyone watched The Good Life, Morecambe and Wise, Dad's Army - millions of people, all at the same time on the same evening of the week. The last series I remember making that sort of impact was some twenty years ago, with The Darling Buds of May. "Perfick" became the stock expression of approval that year.
My point is, not that there haven't been some hugely popular programmes since, but I don't think that they transcend the age and social barriers any more in the way they did in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Strictly, I suppose, but then I don't actually watch that myself, so I can't really say.
What do you think?
Friday, 25 November 2011
It wasn't so many years ago that an entire family would spend the whole evening together - and actually, that still mostly happened when my children lived here. One simple reason for the change, I think, is central heating. Time was, there was only one warm room in a house in the winter, two at most; the kitchen and the living room. Bedrooms were rarely warmed. A lucky child might have a two-bar electric fire, but that wasn't that common. Of course, one could spread out more in the house in the summer, but there was still the habit of sitting together - and that's another reason for the change.
More than one television and an increased range of channels.
When I was younger, a household had one television and one telephone. The former was in the living room and the latter in the hall, where you stood to make calls. That's how it was. There were two channels on the tv until the late 1960s/early '70s (depending on reception where you lived) and eventually, along came Channel 4. So most people watched the same programme, all together. Then home computers turned up. We had one, a Commodore 64. It was firmly kept in the sitting room. I didn't mind in the least if the room was cluttered or if it was on at the same time as the television. I thought being together was more important, and I played games on it with my children anyway. Weeza would have liked her own television, but I made her wait years, she was probably about 16. Any younger, she'd have watched it half the night. Al wasn't bothered. Ro simply bought his own, and a computer when he wanted it - which was a good thing, I was glad to have mine to myself. It was before the days when broadband had reached the village and I used to get quite ratty with the Sage when he'd absent-mindedly pick up the telephone, immediately apologise and put it down, but it was too late - my internet connection was already cut off. He never checked first. So, ill-humour between husband and wife was quite enough, it wasn't to happen between father and son, and I had an extra phone line put on for Ro in his room. We paid rental, he paid calls. Bargain. Peace.
And now, after all the early years of effort in keeping the family together, the Sage and I sit in separate rooms, as often as not. I blame too many channels on the television, so that we can't be bothered to look at any of them, and the damn telephone.