Wednesday 30 November 2011

Zed is home

Actually, the journey home could have been better.  I got on the train, rejected my reserved seat (facing backwards) and settled at a table.  A middle-aged couple joined me.  She sat opposite, he sat next - I'd have thought that they should have faced each other or sat side by side, so I already had personal space issues.

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 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.

Z is not tired of life

As I write, there's still half an hour before I board my train home, but I've arrived at the station so here I am.
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

Blog meets

I have had the most brilliant time in London - I am not going home until 4 o'clock tomorrow but it can hardly get better. I'm afraid I was a bit mysterious about whom (grammar) I was meeting for dinner last night, but that was because I hadn't asked if I could take his name in vain.
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

Z is not transported delightfully

I can't find anywhere to write a new post from my blog on the phone now. Clear and attractive to read, but not so simple to add to. So I'm phoning it in.

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

Z goes on holiday

It was a brilliant day.  I'd invited Ro and Dora and Al, Dilly and the children, but hadn't asked Weeza, Phil and co because Dilly had had a bad cold in the week, and didn't want to pass it on to Gus.  However, while I was out at church, the Sage phoned and invited them anyway.  Apparently, he'd been going to not tell me, for a surprise - you'd think, after all these years, that he'd know better?  Anyway, Weeza vetoed that, so I cooked a pound of chipolatas, just to augment the 6 pounds of pork in case there wasn't enough food.  It all got eaten.  Dilly had made a blackberry and apple crumble, Weeza bought ice cream, I made custard, so pudding was taken care of too.  It was one of those days when there was a lovely atmosphere and everyone had fun.

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.

And now, I must go.  I'm not sure if I'll blog while I'm away; if not, I'll see you on Wednesday evening.  Be awfully good, darlings, while I'm not here to keep an eye on you.

PS - both made contact.  Huzzah!

Saturday 26 November 2011

Some good news and - Z doesn't do bad news. All good here.

Well, darlings, here's the good news.  My friend Martina, who comments here, sent me a doctor's basic check-list for symptoms of Alzheimer's, and my local chum took it home and went through it with his wife.  She then tested him.  She got every question right and he just dropped one mark.  The doctor has phoned,  and said she needs treatment for her low thyroid problem and also offered physiotherapy for her joint problem.  There are still some tests to be done, because the path. lab. seems to have cocked them up somewhat, but it's all looking very positive and my friend's anxiety is completely allayed.  He's happy to accept that her tiredness and absent-mindedness in the evenings is caused by low thyroid and constant lowish-level pain, and that this can be put right.

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

Z and the Sage sit apart

Today was spent wisely and well, in not doing much.  I did a final tweak to my stern letter and sent it, did a few other jobs on the computer, including ordering some presents, checked when my credit card needs to be paid (not for ten days) and sponsored the moustache-growers on the High School staff.  I went and had a cup of green tea with Dilly and Hay.  Hay was eating toasted cheese and cucumber.  Not a huge amount goes down his throat, but he's quite happy and enjoys a varied diet, now he's six months old.  After that, I took the afternoon off and went to Norwich.  I didn't do much there either, but trotted about enjoying the feel of the place, looked at clothes but wasn't tempted to try anything on (I suspect that this will be one of the years I don't buy any clothes, I haven't so far) and then came home, feeling rested.  I was sitting with the Sage, but the phone keeps ringing for him, and it's not very interesting, listening to other people's conversations - or rather, politely not listening to them and so, with my coat on, I'm in here again.

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.

Thursday 24 November 2011

Z receives a Day

It's been far too long a day, and I didn't quite make it to the end.  It was the Head's appraisal in the morning, which went very well - successful transition to academy, ongoing successful transition towards 11-18 school (instead of 13-18) and an Outstanding Ofsted, I'm not breaking any confidentiality in saying we thought the lad done good.  After lunch, a full governors' meeting, also went fine but by the end I had a splitting headache - and I hardly ever get headaches nowadays - and the prospect of another meeting to come.  And that was a really beastly one, though I am sorry to say that I can't talk about it.  I'm not being awkward - I suppose though, if I can't tell you, I shouldn't even hint at it - but anyway, it finally finished at 6.15.  By then, I was supposed to be in a Year 10 Drama performance, but I couldn't face it.  I was exhausted, felt sick and drove straight home, where I found myself obliged to hurry straight to the loo.  That was a surprise.  I've got the stomach of an ostrich normally - well, I haven't, I've the stomach of a Z - anyway, I'm hardly ever sick.  After that, I went and had a bath (no, there hadn't been an accident, I thought it would make me feel better) and was in bed before 7 and asleep in moments.

Ten minutes later, the Sage brought me dinner on a tray.  I fear that he didn't get the friendliest of receptions.  I stayed in bed, eventually slept again, finally got up at 9.30.  No idea when I'll get back to bed.  I'm fine now, but I think it was the weeks of not enough sleep finally catching up with me.

The Sage just brought me one of the new £50 notes to see, and compare to an old one.  "The banks ran out, they were selling like hot cakes," he said.

Family Christmas wishlists are starting to arrive: or rather, links to them.  If I have the least sense, I'll just get my act together and order everything or go and buy it in the next few days.  I have very little sense, but might just cobble it together somehow.  I'm going to look for some sheet music to suggest for a start - though still knowing that this is pie in the sky.  Still, one has to aspire, I suppose.  I suppose...well, this is a last-ditch attempt, anyway.

I only had one thing in my diary for tomorrow, and fortunately checked, because it's been postponed, which is brilliant.  A day that I'd marked as busy and now have free feels like a gift.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Turbulent LA

It has to be said, even though the school has become an academy and should be free of local authority control, they are still on our backs.  At least we don't meekly have to do what we're told any more, but they are still trying to control us, and have a fair bit of power.  I've written a forceful letter this evening - polite of course, and constructive, but with no hint of the usual gentle Z that you know so well.

Well, that's the impression that I try to give here, anyway.

My car wouldn't start this morning, the battery was flat.  It was fine yesterday, zero today.  It didn't matter, we went out in the Sage's car, on a rare day out together.  Recharging it overnight, and we'll get another one by the end of the week.  It has to be said, my £1,500 car has given very little trouble in the last three years.  Even this time (and you can't blame a car for its duff battery), it politely didn't leave me stranded anywhere.  So I gave it a consoling pat.

Many thanks for the advice on Alzheimer's.  A friend sent a paper with typical questions that a doctor asks and I have given it to my friend.  I have also checked myself.  I am fairly sure that I am okay.  In fact, the blood tests have so far shown that she has an under-active thyroid - I wonder if that could be part of the problem?  It would be wonderful if they have less to worry about than he fears.

I finished the letter and sent it to the Head to be okayed ('Brilliant!', I received back) and then paused to drink a cup of peppermint tea.  I became aware of rustling sounds and tracked them to a bag which I knew contained some chocolate left over from Easter (we don't eat much chocolate) that was on the floor. I decided that it probably also contained a mouse.  So I scooped it up and gave it to the Sage, who took it outside.  "You can just leave it if you like,"I suggested - but he wanted to be sure, so he took it onto the field and shook it.  The mouse shot out and ran away, poor little thing.  Still, if only it knew, that has saved its life.  If it hadn't actually been inside the bag, I'd have set a trap.

That reminds me, this morning a movement outside the window caught my eye.  I kept watching and it soon became apparent that a blue tit was going in and out of a nestbox.  Surely not?  Could it just be setting up home for the winter?  However confused the little thing is, it surely is not nesting, not at the end of November.

Darlings, I must get back to work.  I'm a bit busy tomorrow, but on Friday I shall devote myself to blogs.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Old posts

The Sage is very happy.  There is a picture of the bowl which he sold on the front page of the Antiques Trade Gazette and a whole-page article about the sale, including the report that the buyer left by helicopter  and, since he'd bought the guglet and bowl for a friend, that he was allowed to take it with him and send a cheque a week later.

Obviously, when the Sage is happy, I am happy.  So all is jollity in the household.  The Sage has decided to give his apologies for a meeting this evening on the strength of it, so I will have his company after all.

I had a few spare minutes this morning before I went to school, which I spent browsing through my early posts.  I found my first ever comment, written by Pat on 12th March 2006.  I note that I called my daughter Rose and my younger son Baz in those days.  I'm not sure that Al had a name, he was just the Greengrocer.  Weeza then became El; she chose her present name herself. I seem to sound much the same in those early days as I do now, which interested me.  Slightly embarrassing, and unintentional, the last post of the year (which is what you reach when you click on 2006) describes the mildly frivolous fact that I was wearing stockings and suspenders.  Several early friends are still blogpals now, including Martina, Wendy, How Do We Know, the Chairwoman and Blue Witch, which is delightful.

I've never read all my archives and I don't plan to.  But I might well dip in a bit.  I was funnier then.

Monday 21 November 2011

Z listens to a friend

A friend called in for coffee this morning and we chatted - the Sage was out having coffee with another friend, as it happened, although he came in and joined us later.  After a while, I asked about his wife, because she has had some health problems recently and has had a blood test.  No news, but it's not going to be anything major.  But it did give him an opening to tell me what's really concerning him, and that is, he's concerned that she is showing signs of Alzheimers and he can't get the doctor to take him seriously.

We had a long talk about it.  He wasn't wanting reassuring platitudes, and I don't feel that I'd be able to give them anyway.  I've picked up that she's becoming slightly vague recently, although I didn't mention that.  Apparently, he spoke to the doctor, she wouldn't let him go with her and reported back that he had a series of questions that she was able to answer.  She refuses to consider that there might be anything wrong, but her mother and sister suffered the same problem and he thinks he can see similar early symptoms.  However, the questions were (she said) her name and address and things like that - we agreed that these would be forgotten almost last of all and are not suitable questions at this stage, when it's short-term memory that is becoming a problem.  For example, he said, she might answer the phone, have quite a long conversation, put it down and then ask who she'd been talking to.  And she runs a small business from home and she has recently been forgetting to write down appointments, which she used to do as soon as she put the phone down.

I know nothing about the diagnosis or best modern treatment, but I suggested that he list specific incidents as they happen, and after a few weeks, insist on going with her to the doctor with that list.  And if he doesn't get any further, write asking for a second opinion.  I suggested a couple of small things he could ask her to do, such as draw a clock face with a specific time on it (there must be suggestions on the internet, I'll have a look).  It can't have been easy, raising the subject, but when he left, he hugged me for a long time and said I was warm.  I suspect this is going to be harder for him than for her.

The Sage is out now, having lunch with another friend.  He's having a lovely time, recently.  Not with me, specifically, but I don't begrudge him that.  Gives us stuff to talk about in the evenings.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Oh wow

The Sage suddenly came over all lovely tonight - not that he's normally less than, but especially.  I started it off - come on, darlings, the wife is always the catalyst for any mood, innit?  It all started when we compared diaries for the week ahead, a usual Sunday evening thing if we remember, and then I asked about the painting he bought a couple of weeks ago (I heard him showing it to Weeza when she came over, but he hadn't shown it to me!) and it turned out that he'd bought another one at the Aylsham auction the other day.  A Harry Becker, he showed that to me first - I was pretty bowled over.  A simple charcoal, of two horses pulling a plough in a field backed by trees - golly.  Quality.  My reaction emboldened him to show me the Leonard Squirrell he'd bought first...not quite so much to my taste, but I recognise the quality of that too and praised him for his purchase.  He'd also bought a little Meissen tea-strainer the other day, which I had to love.  Okay, darlings, the man has taste.  I am ignorant as can be, but I look at a lot of things and I recognise what is good.  He has impressed me, not least by going outside the norm.

Anyway, that enlivened him and we engaged with each other in a way that a long-married couple don't always.  You know what I mean? - all very pleasant, but not always 'oh wow'.

No, darlings, not in that way.  Honestly, you and your filthy minds.  Really me.  We just enthused, is all.  Clothes on and everything.

No, now I've lost the thread.

Anyway, it's pretty busy for the next week.  We won't see much of each other, to tell the truth.  Not that it matters as such, we both love to be fully engaged with what we're doing.  The week after, I've got an overnighter in London, and he's going down to Wink, because he's got a couple of appointments in the West Country - south-west England, for those of you who are used to larger areas than we boast.  He will stay overnight, possibly two nights.  I said, how difficult it is to get away together, which is a pity.  But we must make the effort to do things and if that means going away separately, that's how it is.  His tends to be business and mine pleasure, but hey...

Anyway, not that it wasn't before, but it's all good here tonight.

Friend Arthur just rang.  I had a chat, then called the Sage.  "Just got a vesta finishing on eBay" he said.  "It's Antiques Roadshow in a few minutes," I reminded him.  "Tell him I'll phone back after Antiques Roadshow," he called.  "Darling," I told Arthur, "I'm afraid you come second to eBay.  First to me, of course, but not to the Sage."  He took it very well.

Saturday 19 November 2011

A glass of wine will greet Z's smiling face

Apart from some slight faffing about in the morning, because Wink left her phone at home and so we couldn't communicate and took a while to find each other, all went very well.  We met (eventually) at Trafalgar Square - I'd got to Liverpool St Station, the bus I wanted was at the stop and I leapt straight on - I sat in the sun reading for a while, just enjoying the warmth and we had a long and rather boozy lunch.  We both had the same to eat, mussels followed by sardines and a salad.  Then we went to the theatre.  The Pitmen Painters - if you have a chance to go, I recommend it, it's really good.

It occurs to me to mention, our lunch says a certain amount about us.  Not allergic to shellfish or iffy about such things (we both eat offal with gusto, too) and unbothered by whole lots of bones.  I, and I suppose she, like eating with my fingers and I like getting stuck in to fiddly food.  You see, summing up Z in a simple meal, and showing that sistership will out.

Afterwards, I had plenty of time, and it was a lovely mild evening.  I walked along the Embankment, past St Pauls, along Cheapside, past the Bank of England and so to the station again.  I bought some fruit to eat on the train and caught up on emails on the way home.

It was very foggy when I got back to my car, not easy to drive in.  I'd phoned the Sage from Ipswich, so that he could start cooking dinner and, as I came in the door, he was walking down the passageway with a glass of wine.  "Sit down, I'll bring your dinner on a tray."

All went rather well, actually.  And thanks to Wink for a lovely belated birthday present.

Friday 18 November 2011


Winter has finally struck in the Zed bed.  I have put the electric blanket on.  I've been okay, in fact, it's the Sage who has been shivering (which is only an excuse for a cuddle, let's face it - he'll have to think of another one now).

He incurred Wifely Annoyance this evening, poor boy.  First, he gave me the phone when I was cooking, instead of saying I'd phone back, and then while I was speaking, he whipped my iPhone to make a call himself, when I needed to set the timer for 12 minutes for the rice as soon as I had finished my call.  As it was, the rice was undercooked, the chicken was overcooked, the veggies were nearly raw and I have indigestion.  And his ear is bent.  Oh dear.

Tomorrow, I'm off to London to meet Wink.  I'll leave here around 8 in the morning and arrive home about 8.30 pm.  I'm looking forward to it.  I've packed my Oyster card, all I have to do is check the bus to Charing Cross.

I don't know why I took the tube for so many years, I nearly always go by bus now, unless it's a complicated journey that way.  It started when I couldn't walk far, those damn undergrounds, miles to walk and a lot of steps.  A few months ago, Diamond Geezer wrote a post about the latest Tube map,which, from being a simple, clear depiction of the network, has become full of symbols, including those for wheelchair access.  He reckoned that it's now so complicated that it's harder for many people to read.  The thing is, the Tube isn't suitable for people in wheelchairs, full stop.  There are a few stations that are fit for disabled people to use, but you have to plan your journey very carefully, and make sure there aren't engineering works going on.  So symbols aren't much advantage.

Anyhoo, darlings, I'm going to empty my bag of all but what I need for the day, and have an early night.  I still wake around 3 o'clock, but at least I'm getting some sleep before then, and sometimes afterwards too.  So, until I get myself back to normal doziness, it's bed before midnight for me.  Goodnight xxx

Thursday 17 November 2011

J. van E.

Last night, I went to bed very early, with the result that I woke, fully rested, at 3 am.  I'd had less than six hours of sleep, but that felt like a very good night under recent circumstances.  Anyway, I had my phone under my pillow, so had plenty to do until it was a reasonable hour to get up.  And, in browsing through Facebook, I found that my friend's grandad had died, at the age of 95.

I've written to her, her mother and her uncle (very unsure about the etiquette of doing that via FB, but I have no other addresses, so I reckon it's better than nothing) - there was a serious breakdown of trust between father and daughter which was never resolved, so that wasn't the easiest note to write - but I just wanted to say a few words here.

Johann was a member of the Dutch Resistance during the war  So was his friend, the father of our beloved au pairs, back in the early 1960s, Cobie and Joepie, and their brother Huib.  Conditions were awful in Holland in the 1940s, at near starvation levels.  Night-time foraging for a few onions or turnips - even a tulip bulb to eat - was as vital as Resistance duties.  In either event, being caught would have meant being shot.  Johann lived with that.  He shared memories of his experiences with my parents, but not with me, I was too young.  He was, later, a brilliant teacher and mentor of young people.  His children are among my oldest friends.

Whatever were the issues between him and Charlotte (she knows this website, though I'm not sure if she ever reads it - sorry, my dear, if you visit here and I say anything you're not happy about - do tell me if so), I feel that the world is diminished by his death.  He was a fine and brave man, and my parents thought highly of him, and I was very fond of him too.  Condolences to his family and friends.

Mostly Mozart

I took up clarinet playing about twenty years ago.  Weeza had had lessons, but hadn't greatly taken to it, and had given up after a couple of years.  The clarinet was my grandfather's - he loved playing woodwind and my mother always said that, when she was a girl, she played the piano, he the oboe (at that time) and they used to have friends round for music sessions in the evenings.  It was an odd thing, the things she spoke of with fond memories were very much in the past, there was no question of them being done in our family.  She had completely turned her back on her girlhood, even the good parts, when she married.  Maybe she thought those pleasures were unsophisticated - country walks, cycling, playing music with friends - and wouldn't suit the relatively upper-crust family she had married into.

Anyway, she did continue to play the piano, but preferred not to be heard.  It took me years to take on board that making music was something I could do with other people, or at least in front of them, and it was only when I found myself offering to play the organ in church (my sister calls it mouth overtaking brain) that I had to overcome my nerves about it.

When Ro was at the village school, one of the other mums, who was a music teacher, set up a Saturday morning music club, with lessons given in several instruments by three or four instructors.  Ro was five or six at the time and started with recorder and piano, later dropping them both to play the alto saxophone.  I rather hankered after trying a new instrument, having long realised that I would never play the piano again as well as I did in my teens (which wasn't all that well, in all truth) and that the organ was far too difficult for me to play well at all.  Hammering out a few tunes is fine, but it's fairly complex, playing with both hands and feet, and I found that I could only manage three limbs, maximum.  If I was using my feet, I forgot my left hand and when I had a difficult bit of melody, my feet had to stay still or I lost my way completely.  And I didn't enjoy it anyway (still don't, I'm dutiful though).

So, I had a clarinet, I could get sound out of it (which is more than I can from a flute, most of the time) and reading one note of music at a time would be a doddle after the organ.  So I asked Cheryl if she could teach me.  Her instruments were oboe, bassoon and piano, but she reckoned that she would be able to help, as long as I accepted her limitations and was reasonably self-reliant - which was fine, of course.

I loved it and worked hard, and made quick progress, although I was never going to be a really good player.  Still, I was good enough to enjoy what I was doing and make the effort worth my while.  I also played Ro's sax, which I enjoyed and found much easier than the clarinet, the only problem being the weight of the instrument hanging from my neck.  Cheryl wanted me to take exams.  "You could go straight in to Grade 5, you're way better than that, all you have to do is master all the scales."  I reminded her that I'd told her right from the start that I was never going to take another music exam.  I loathed them as a child and they seemed to dominate my piano playing, stopping me from real enjoyment of the instrument.

I'll digress a moment here, in case you're wondering why, in that case, I didn't give up the piano in my teens.  I don't give up.  It's that simple.  If I really can't do something, then the time will come when, having given it my best shot, I'll bow out.  But if I can, and it's just a matter of tenacity, I'll hang on.

However, after several years, I was getting pretty busy, overstretched and over-stressed for various reasons.  Never mind all that, the point is that I wasn't working that hard on my music.  And Cheryl's marriage had broken up and she was moving house.  We agreed that she'd take a few weeks out for the move and then we'd start the lessons again.  But somehow, it wasn't quite agreed who would phone whom, and the whole thing petered out because neither of us made the call.  She's still got the piano parts of most of my music, unless she's had a turn-out and chucked them out by now.  And, I realise, one has to have an end purpose or one will not continue to work hard at something.  So, if I persevere with my playing, I should take lessons.  But then, I think I'd have to seriously consider (sorry if a split infinitive offends) joining some sort of music group, to give me an incentive.  But that seems quite frightening, and also time-consuming.  So, I dunno.  While I mull, I'm keeping up my daily practice.

I never did let it lapse entirely, there's an informal church service once a month where I play clarinet rather than the organ.  So at least I didn't forget all I'd learnt.

Wednesday 16 November 2011


Right now, I have a dip in energy and it is terribly tempting to go to bed.  I know from experience that I will regret it, so I need to hang on for an hour, and then I'll bounce back.  At the moment, I'm doubting that I can, so I'll write as quickly as possible.

The Sage is out.  He has gone to pay a large cheque to the owner of the star lot, and other lots, in the last sale.  There is no regret in paying it, he will have his commission and never owned the items, but was just the expert agent.

Today, I went and bought some more plants, and now have several tubs and bowlsful in the porch, which is looking lovely.  Soon, of course, it will be too cold to want to sit in there, but no matter.  The jolly good thing is that cleaning is easy.  Sweep or wash the floor, and brush the debris outside.  No need to pick up.

I wonder if any of you clever people can identify this plant for me, please? -

Frost caught the flowers, though there are more buds.  The seed head is as spiky as it looks.  I feel that I recognise the leaves, but can't place them.  It's self-seeded.

Weeza came over today, I've spent a long time cuddling Hay and Gus, and being smiled at joyously.  I feel most wonderfully happy as a consequence.

And I have played the clarinet.  About an hour in total today.  Still rubbish, but I realise that my standards are rising.  In fact, my lips are not sore, I don't need a cigarette paper, my thumb doesn't hurt. I know all the notes again and am playing with much more assurance, although still not well.  I'm not ready to consider lessons, which would be too depressing, but not ready to give up either.

I have not had time to visit many blogs recently, and have commented on fewer.  I'm so sorry, I will catch up before too long.  In the meantime, I hope all is well with you, darlings.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Z is sociable!

I had several letters to write - or rather, two, but one of those was going to eight different people, so I got them all ready, printed out address labels (I already had that set up, so it was quicker than writing envelopes) and stamped them.  Then I did various other bits and pieces, keeping an eye on the time, so that I'd leave in time for my 9.30 meeting.  I thought I was doing quite nicely, plenty of time in hand, it was 8.38.  After quite some time, it occurred to me that it had been 8.38 for was 9.15, my face wasn't on and my hair was wet.

I made it to the meeting on time, fully made up with dryish, if slightly unruly hair.  And I'd posted the letters on the way.

The Sage was in London for the day, at a picture sale, and I played the clarinet (not for very long actually, but I'm still resolutely fitting it in every day) and ate lunch in the porch in the sunshine.  I read the papers, read a book, typed emails on the iPad.  If I'm feeling a bit wound up - not worried, there's a lot of stuff on and I can only assume that's the reason for not sleeping - then I reckoned that it was time to relax, knowing I'd be out this evening.  I sat down to fill out my seed order to take to Gardening Club, perched on a stool by the Aga (by the time I left the porch the sun had moved round and I was a little chilly) and found myself nodding off, so I curled up in a chair and went to sleep instead.

The speaker tonight was great fun, he's an expert on dahlias (and also a qualified judge) and begonias, a retired landscape gardener and has a thorough north Suffolk/south Norfolk accent, which is always a pleasure to hear.  A very good and interesting speaker, I chatted to various people afterwards and won a tray of violas in the raffle.  I've also promised the present President that I'll rejoin the WI after Christmas.

She also asked after Al, whom everyone knows from his shop days, and another woman overheard and realised who I was - I had recognised her as a customer, although I still don't know her name - and we had a chat.  It's a pleasure to be known as Al's mum (or any of my family's relation, come to that) - I mean, I don't mind at all if they don't know me as *Z* but as an appendage to one of my family.  When my mother moved here, she was quite affronted to be greeted as Z's mother, or the Sage's mother-in-law (worse still if anyone thought she was his mother, since she was only some 13 years older than he).  She'd never minded, when married, being the other half to her husband and, indeed, was proud to be.  But she never adjusted to being called my mother, rather than I being known as her daughter.  And honestly, I think that's a pity.  But she always wanted me to remain her dear little girl.

Wouldn't it be nice if I were, though?  I don't think I could be described as any of those now!

Monday 14 November 2011

Z washes windows

Another hour's nap in an otherwise sleepless night, I've been quite tired all day.  But I have finished the porch, and also taken a carful of stuff to the dump, so I feel quite good overall.  I arrived home from tonight's meeting to be greeted by the Sage, saying that a friend was hoping I'd phone her back ... I haven't.  I still have not finished tonight's work (which I hadn't had time to do earlier) and writing here is a short relaxation, I didn't really feel like chatting.  I did fit in a clarinet practice this afternoon (how about you, Tim, have you played the guitar this week?  Not to worry if not, dear heart, aim for Wednesday at latest, perhaps) and, although it was only half an hour or so, I finally felt that there was some fluency to my playing.  I shall persevere, please keep a stern eye on me. I sort of feel that this time is make or break.  What is good is that my thumb doesn't hurt any more when I play, so it was just the unaccustomed weight of the instrument, not a problem with the joint - or, if it is, it's in its early stages.  So, all in all, whoopee-doo.

Weeza phoned this morning, and she's coming over with the children on Wednesday.  It so happened that Dilly and Hay were here at the time, so we all chatted and made arrangements - this is really for the two mums and cousins to get together, although I won't be excluded.   Both boys are past the mewling and puking stage and Hadrian, in particular, is getting interested in reaching for and playing with toys.  In less than a fortnight, he will be six months old.

Sorry, back to work now.  After two nights without much sleep, I may well oversleep tomorrow and not have time to finish preparations for the meetings, so I must do it now while I'm sure.  Goodnight, darlings.  Sweet dreams.

Sunday 13 November 2011


I really am not sleeping too well.  An hour asleep, a few awake, a short nap and that was it.  I watched the dawn from the window in front of me now.  Very pink.  I warned the shepherd, but later he came round, wondering why I'd wasted his time.  It's been a lovely sunny day, once the sun burned off the early-morning mist.

I was sidesman at the 8 o'clock service, so was out of the house by 7.30.  Already, a couple of bantams were waiting for breakfast (some are shut in at night, some prefer to roost in trees).  I chucked them a handful of corn and explained that the Sage would bring them warm, soaked bread later.

10 of us, which is actually a decent number for that early service - no hymns, Book of Common Prayer Communion service - the BCP is the proper prayer book for me, modern stuff may be fun but it doesn't make me think - and it was lovely to see the Rector, whom I haven't seen for weeks.  She's been away, and doing services in other villages.

Later, I went to the Remembrance Sunday service in the next village.  The first hymn was 'Eternal Father' ... oh, you might need a link... sorry, darlings, this does give both words and music, so if you don't want sound, turn it off now, and if you do, apologies for the tinny-sounding organ.  As a Lowestoft girl, I feel a strong connection with that hymn.  Do you know, I am not a superstitious person at all.  But, give me a decanter of port ... ooh, cheers, don't mind if I do ... and I will, defo, pass it to the left, clockwise.  Because, the saying goes, if the port is passed the wrong way, a sailor dies at sea.  Honestly, I don't believe it.  But I still pass the port the right (correct) way.

Dick, who has read the Roll of Honour for our village for about the last ten years, died in the summer,  Over 90 years old, he married during the war that he fought in as a soldier.  His funeral was on the 70th anniversary of his wedding, his wife having died last year.  Dear Dick, he found that Remembrance service very meaningful.  We haven't got another war veteran to read the names, but we have got a Lieutenant Colonel (recently retired) and he spoke wonderfully well.

I say it every year, and I shall continue to say it - this village, with about 1,000 residents including children now, which had far fewer houses 100 years ago, albeit they were more densely inhabited, lost 25 young men during the First World War.  That awful war wiped out most of a generation.  None of them is alive now, but they must not be forgotten.  If only history lessons could truly be learnt - but if there is one thing that history tells us, it's that nothing is learnt.

Saturday 12 November 2011

Z has a turn-out

The Sage went off for his appointment, and I got up, full of energy and determined to clear out the porch.  It's a large porch/smallish room, about 12' by 10'.  In my inlaws' day, it was used as a summer sitting room during the day, but the alterations we did cleared away the back porch, so we've nowhere else to keep wellies and so on, and then we put a large cupboard in there, and a chest freezer, and what's elegantly termed around here 'shit'n'shat' which means nothing in particular, just stuff - anyway, I am a turning worm at present, so want to change things.

I started writing this at about 1.20 pm, and here is what I said then.  

It has not been the cheeriest of events really, it's got to the stage now that I've got a lot of miscellaneous items outside that need to be put somewhere else or got rid of, including three boxes of empty bottles waiting to go to the bottle bank.  Fortunately I was alone, so my bad temper at things being kept that should have been thrown away, or should have been put in the proper place, was not expressed aloud, and now it won't have to be, because life's too short to be snappy.  And then I found Tilly's collar and, foolishly, sniffed it.  Cried briefly of course, couldn't throw it out.  I've stopped for lunch, mainly because the bantams were grouping hopefully.  I've fed them, did a head count, all 28 are there.

I did the first clarinet practice of the day for half an hour or so.  Still, depressingly, forgetting how to play the odd note.  Have moved on to Divertimento no. 2, it being easier.  

Poor Z.  It got better after that, of course.  I looked at my emails and Tim had left a kind and lovely comment (it doesn't have to be true, just kind and lovely) and when the Sage rolled up, I was not whiny but, instead, enthusiastic again.  And he responded, as we both do to each other, and helped sort things out and put back what needs to be inside overnight.  Tomorrow, we'll finish clearing, empty the freezer and move it and clear up.  

I sometimes feel that I'm too tired to write late at night, so sound a bit downbeat then.  But today, it would have been an earlier post that would have sounded unhappy.  All is fine now, I defrosted steak for dinner, opened a bottle of prosecco, took care over cooking.  Actually, much of it is down to darling Sage.  Don't tell him I said so, will you?  I prefer to keep him on his toes.

Friday 11 November 2011

Z can't think of anything to write about

The Sage, a fortnight after his sale, is getting prepared for the next one.  He's got an appointment tomorrow to value several items and has already agreed about half a salesworth of china - mind you, we only have 80-100 lots altogether.  Only two auctions a year, and yet it takes a disproportionate amount of time and thought.  Fortunate that the Sage's business is also his hobby, and one he never tires of.  We've been discussing the finer points of various Mandarin patterns tonight, me with rather less interest than him.  I feel that, by 11 o'clock at night, one should normally have finished work for the day, but it isn't work to him, so it does not occur to him.  As a result, I feel a bit unrelaxed.

This week, I've mostly been buying train tickets.  Oh, for the days when you just turned up at the station, bought a ticket and got on the train.  Now, there's such a difference in price that one feels obliged to book well ahead, to commit to particular times even if they're well off-peak.  The Sage and I are each going to London twice in the next few weeks - not together, of course, we only do that if we're going to an auction.  I'd like to have gone with him next week, but I've got several things on and it's not possible.

Still playing the clarinet today.  Mouth less sore, thumb too, a distinct improvement in technique.  Maybe there is hope for me after all.

Today is the 88th anniversary of my mother's birth, although her last actual birthday was her 79th.

I feel that I've short-changed you today, darlings.  Sorry.  I've written some enthusiastic emails and it seems to have taken all my writing energy.  Tomorrow, I'll do better.

Thursday 10 November 2011

A day in the Zedery

I did get it all done in the end, but it took all day instead of a couple of hours.

I woke early, as usual, around 5, but I didn't get up for a couple of hours, although it would have been a very good move. I was going to start on the paperwork first thing, but Mike (not Mike of blogger Ann and Mike, Mike of other friends Ann and Mike) called round, so I made coffee while I emptied and restacked the dishwasher. Then we all went into the sitting room, and Dilly called in with Hay, so I made her tea and cuddled the baby, who looked at me solemnly and then gave his charming, slow smile. He's sitting up, but still topples once in a while, so safer to sit on the floor with him between one's knees. Dilly doesn't think he'll crawl, Squiffany didn't, but walked from the start and he likes being held in a standing position.

After they'd gone, I came back to get on with some work. Oh look, emails. But first, music. Oh look, clarinet.

Succumb to a whim and fish out some music and go and play. Laughably awful. And after an hour, a sore inner lip and pink lower outer lip. I looked well-kissed.

I went and replied to emails.

The Sage came home, so I talked to him for a while. No, correction, I gave him a couple of messages and listened to him. Lunch.

I started work. Boring. I played iAssociates. I played Angry Birds. Oh look, several people have played Scrabble and it's my turn.

I got on with more work. I sent a couple of work-related emails. I answered the phone several times. I got out the clarinet again, this time padding my lip with Rizla papers. I kept going until I could play the first 50 bars of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto reasonably accurately, if not well.

I had replies to my emails, I added the information and sent another email.

Oh look, time for a drink. And I've got more emails. The Sage helped prepare dinner. But not very much, to be honest, I had to trim the sprouts after he left them. "I took them off the stalk" he protested.

He brought me a glass of wine. I showed him my nearly-empty glass. "oh" he said. I assured him I didn't mind.

After dinner, I turned on the television. Blank screen. Of course, yesterday was the day one had to retune. But how? Read instruction book. 'Press menu'. Several different menu buttons, no indication which. After quite a long time, I seem to have all channels except BBC2. Don't want to watch them. Screen looks odd, too close up, faces don't fit. I think we have to retune again, doesn't seem worth bothering to get it right now.

Write blog post. Read blogs. Read book. Decide not to play clarinet again tonight, even a single glass of wine plays havoc with twiddly fingerwork. Wonders if pain in thumb is unaccustomed weight of clarinet or arthritis. Decides it doesn't matter much, it's only a thumb. Looks at moon. Puts on music. Jazz tonight.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Not a peeping Z

I'm on a few committees, so have a lot of personal email addresses in my address book, quite apart from those of friends.  And nowadays, most people have more than one address, and most husbands and wives have separate addresses.  I still have a couple of women whose addresses are in their husbands' names, and a couple of others who include the initials of the whole family (although that doesn't mean that the other members don't have their own too, and I bet they have).

I have several email addresses myself - one anonymous-ish, one specific to a job and two general, and the Sage has three, one for his business, one for a society he runs and his BT one, which he never uses.

And that's one thing - I never use (or have him use) a service provider's address, because people take no notice of what your email address is.  You change it, you tell them, you ask them to delete the old one - and they don't.  Some do, most don't.  I used to use AOL (I know, darlings, someone has to) and, two or three years after I changed provider (because they didn't do broadband for Macs ... bet they do now) I was told indignantly by someone that I hadn't given them my new address. I'm a polite woman, but not a walkover, so I replied from an email that they had sent me to that new address that I had told them about a very long time previously.

Anyway, no matter, my point is that I only use free and non-affiliated addresses, such as gmail.

But this is all a preamble.  Because you gotta have a preamble, have you not?  Actually, I've had a sudden flashback there to Frankie Howerd saying "The Prologue" in Up Pompeii.  But then, I always had quite low tastes.

It was only a year ago I bought the Sage his own computer - I thought it was two, but I had the guarantee extension paperwork through recently, so it was only a year ... and he's been happily glued to it ever since.  When he needs to learn something new, he asks me, I show him, and all is mostly fine.  For the last few months, he has graduated to using email.  I used to write his emails.  I was his secretary, PA, whatever - thing is, I read out the email and he'd either dictate a reply or tell me what he wanted to say and I'd write it.  But finally, he started to read and reply to his own emails.

Now, I have his password - he chose it, but he'd forget it in a moment and I have to tell him if he gets logged out.  But I have gone from checking his emails twice, at least, a day, to almost never looking at them.  Because, that would be like reading his letters.  I don't do it without permission.  If he wants help, such as attaching photos in a reply, he comes to me because the pics are on my computer.  I've had occasion to look up an email when he's out a couple of times, but it's made me feel quite uncomfortable and I've told him straight away.

And, although he could if he wanted to (we're all linked together), I'd hate it if he was reading my mail.  It'd be so intrusive, even when one has nothing to hide.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Z hears a Canon

That was quite odd.  I went to Music again - I should explain, the timetable was changed three years ago so that all lessons are double periods, 100 minutes long.  So there are only three periods in a day, and there has long been a fortnightly timetable.  This has a great benefit for Music because, for practical work, it takes some time to co-ordinate a classful of pupils and explain what they're going to do, show them and then go around the classroom and practice rooms, helping and making sure they have got the idea.  However, the demands of the curriculum mean that, for Year 9 pupils, who have not yet chosen their GCSE options, they can only have one long music lesson a fortnight.  So I go in weekly, and help with two different classes.

So we were doing the same music, Katy Perry's Firework  and Pachelbel's Canon, as I mentioned last Thursday.  And I'll explain the link - they both have a fairly simple repeated base melody.  Next time, they will be working on the Pachelbel again, each pupil playing a different part within their own small group, and they should be able to play the first part by the end of the lesson (not the whole thing.  It gets jolly fast).  The tune in the bass is C, G, A, E, F, C, F, G.  The second C is the octave lower than the first.

So, that was quite straightforward.  And afterwards, I got in the car and drove over to Beccles, because I left my purse behind and was going to retrieve it.  After I'd gone about a mile, it dawned on me that I could hear that Canon tune.  I listened carefully.  I had not recorded it on my phone, there was no possibility that it was playing somewhere, but I was not singing it in my head, I wasn't consciously thinking of it at all.  And it was definitely the sound of a piano, not a voice.  I listened.  And after a few minutes, there were a few mistakes, such as a repetition of the F, C before going on to the F, G.  I could hear it all the way over to Beccles, ten or so minutes away.  More variations - or mistakes - crept in as I drove along, but there were still the same notes, no D or B creeping in, the same pitch, the same tempo.

Once I reached Beccles and was looking for a place to park, I didn't think of it any more, and by the time I did, the sound had vanished.  I occasionally get tinnitus, though not badly, and then it goes again, and I suppose it's a form of that.  It was more interesting than unpleasant and I'm not concerned about it.  It's just odd, that's all.

Monday 7 November 2011

Fame at last

You know (well, many of you do) that, when I had my new hip, I had the operation with local anaesthetic  and no sedation - Pamela has a very helpful information site about hip replacements and I offered her the post, in case anyone was considering the same option.  This was a couple of months ago.  Today, I noticed on Facebook that she'd reposted it.  I clicked through and read it, it had my name on it, and I saw at the bottom that she'd put a link to this blog.

You know what that means, don't you?  Yup, a direct link from my name to this blog on the first page of Google.  It's not that I've been cagey about who I am here, a couple of people have told me they found the blog first and realised who was writing it, but I've been diffident about the link going the other way, from name to blog.  There was a link already, but it was on the third or fourth page. After all these years, I'm not too bothered, mind you, but I do have a distinctive name and I feel slightly self-conscious.

I can't face the thought of re-reading nearly six years of daily blogging to check whether I've ever said anything about anyone that is at all gossipy.  I did make the decision, after just a few months, to take out personal remarks, because a friend had caused offence by being rude about someone's appearance in an identifiable blog (he thought he was anonymous, but as soon as I read it, I recognised him and at that time I'd only met him once for a few minutes).  It was at that time, too, that I reversed the name of the town to Yagnub.  

Still, onwards and upwards, hey.  And hello and welcome to anyone who is here from Pamela's site.  As she said, this is a personal blog about my general life and so on, but if you're looking for info about a hip operation, go back to January 2009.  The operation was on the 22nd and I wrote about my recuperation for some weeks.  I'm afraid I've never bothered to label posts, so that won't help you - but if anyone really wants to know, I suppose it wouldn't take more than an hour or so to label them all for you, so let me know if it'll help.  

Oh, and quite a number of friends know I have a blog, but only three outside the family have ever asked its name, and I think that one of those has never visited.  And a friend of Ro's tracked it down.  Most people who know me well feel that it would be a bit like reading my diary.  Which I suppose it is, but it's not a private secret one, of course.   I'm no JonnyB (nor am I writing a book, and never intend to).

Sunday 6 November 2011


There is some nuisance in the village with people exercising their dogs on land that isn't public open space.  We've had a number of complaints, absolutely justified, from people who have come to put flowers on graves in the churchyard and found that they have to start by clearing off dog mess.  I've not seen it, but people have been seen leaving the churchyard carrying a ball and a thrower, dog virtuously back on lead.  And yet, if the PCC put up signs saying that dogs must be kept on a lead, or kept out altogether, I know that they will be judged officious.

There is a small pightle opposite our front field, which is open to the road - and please excuse my use of a word that's probably unfamiliar to you, (it means a irregular shaped, roughly triangular piece of land) but it's a small pleasure to use a rare word in its correct context.  It's probably a couple of acres, and it is let to a local farmer.  However, with the number of dogs and their owners who use it, there are lines of bare earth across the field.  The other day, a sign was put up asking people to keep off, as a forage crop is being grown.  I suspect the farmer means grass.

We've also had people sending their dogs through our hedge on to our fields, which are used for grazing or cut for hay (as a gift to the farmer, we're glad to keep it cropped) and surely, if you have a dog, you should take responsibility for exercising it without being too idle to walk an extra quarter of a mile first.  It's not that there is a shortage of places, there's miles of open land about, both on the marshes (which doesn't imply that they are marshy, they are the occasional flood plain for the network of waterways around here) and on the Common, a mile and a half away.

Mind you, even there, although there is plenty of space, we were told on the Annual Inspection (oh yes, we took part in that) that the majority of dog-walkers wander along the fairways on the golf course.  I can imagine little that is more unpleasant than finding your golf ball has landed in a pile of crap, except possibly having to clear it off your late beloved's grave.  Quite apart from the danger to the walker.

I grew up with dogs, and at one time regularly walked all seven of them.  During our marriage, we have had four dogs: Simon, Chester, Tilly and Khan.  I've let them run across grazing marshes and open spaces (not playgrounds or playing fields, obviously) but I've never even considered letting them loose on private land.  I don't understand how anyone can think that it's all right.

Saturday 5 November 2011

The good doctor

A slight difficulty in Beccles this morning, when I turned into the lane leading to the car park, and found that at some time in the last year or two, since I last used it, they'd blocked it off.  Impossible to turn with my long car, and I had to back out into the road, unable to see if anything was coming from my right until I was already well out.  There wasn't, luckily, or I'd have felt a bigger twit than I did.  It was more trouble to get to the other entrance to the car park than to go to a different one, so that's what I did.  Later, I managed to leave my purse behind at the café and didn't realise until I was trying to pay in the butcher's back here.  I phoned and they've got it.  There was no panic, it didn't have my cards or anything in, just a ten pound note and a few coins.

My friend was feeling slightly low.  He and his wife moved to Scotland some years ago because of his job, but he has to come back several times a year and, every time, he is sorry he has to leave again and is reminded of how much he liked living in Lowestoft.  Partly for practical reasons, he now has to commute quite a long way each day, and the winters are long and hard, and also because they're a long way from old friends and family and he likes this part of the country.  I don't know his wife's take on the matter, but I think he'd move back if he can.

The Sage received a thank-you card today, from people who bought some china in the sale.  People also treat the catalogues as invitations and phone to say if they can come, or with apologies if they cannot.  It's quite remarkable, how he has managed to give the impression that folks are fortunate to be able to come and spend their money with him.

Our family doctor retired yesterday.  He told us, each separately, several months ago , which was thoughtful.  Mind you, he's been our doctor since we came to live here 25 years ago and we knew him before then, because his children went to the same school as Weeza and Al, though are slightly older.  He's the head of the practice here and it's always been run very well and efficiently.  The receptionists are helpful and one can usually see one's own doctor within a day.  When I first went to see him about my hip, he advised me not to have an x-ray at that time, he said that they don't necessarily give the best indication of when you need a new one and that pain is a clearer indicator, but promised that as soon as I asked to see a consultant, he'd refer me straight away, and so he did, a couple of years later.

Some thirty years ago, the mother of a schoolfriend of Weeza took her son to see him, because he'd got some pain in his leg.  She was enormously impressed and grateful that he immediately suspected osteomyelitis, which is a bone infection, referred him for tests and it cleared up quickly with antibiotics.  She said, the boy wasn't in great pain and it isn't particularly easy to diagnose at the start, but if it isn't caught quickly it can cause  a good deal of damage, possibly requiring surgery, even bone grafts.  That was the reason I asked for him to be our doctor - not that we have ever needed his services very much.  Apart from a few plaintive visits about my hip over the course of two years, there have normally been five years between appointments.  I have been lucky enough to be rarely ill, and so have all my family members.  

Friday 4 November 2011

All women do

I'm planning to meet a friend for coffee tomorrow.  He'll be on his way to the airport though, so I'm wondering where to suggest meeting.  I won't reply to his text until I've come up with an answer, dithering is so boring.

I still haven't booked tickets for London either, two journeys, one with an overnight stay.  I'll get it all done this weekend.  I didn't sleep again last night - that is, I fell asleep, woke an hour later at 2 am and lay awake for several more hours.  I wasn't worrying, just not sleeping.  It really is a nuisance and I can't see a reason for it.  I'd have got up, but the Sage put his arm round me and went back to sleep and I didn't want to disturb him.  In the end, I gave up trying to sleep and entertained myself with my phone for a couple more hours until it was light.  I've never been the soundest sleeper, but this has happened twice now - albeit the first time, I had no sleep at all - and I'd just as soon it doesn't happen again.  I shall give it some thought.  I did try giving up caffeine in the evening for several weeks, but it didn't seem to make any difference at all - I'm glad to say.

It's surprising really that the Guy Fawkes thing hasn't fallen foul of the laws against incitement to hatred or something, one can hardly believe that it's still all right to burn an effigy on a garden bonfire.  Still, no one seems to mind the idea.  We can't all get together tomorrow, in fact, and are saving it for Sunday.  It won't prolong the noise of fireworks to annoy neighbours, we've got quiet ones suitable for small children to watch.  The Sage's father, (whose name was Guy!) celebrated his birthday on 5th November, so there has always been a party, but Weeza and co are going to a wedding tomorrow.  They're not going to the party in the evening, just staying for tea and cake after the service.  Zerlina is looking forward to the cake.

My sister-in-law spends a lot of her time visiting her family, and is going to Italy for Christmas with her son and his partner, so she phoned last night to arrange to meet in early December.  Her sight isn't up to driving, so she comes to Norwich by bus or train from Cromer and we meet for lunch.  Looking in my diary, I had great difficulty finding a possible day and we've had to settle on a Saturday.  Mind you, she's just as busy.  When we phoned suggesting a meeting in the summer, she couldn't fit us in at all.  She'll be 80 next year and is as busy and energetic as she ever was - and she looks the image of her mother.  I wonder if I'm turning into my mother, too.  I suppose it's bound to happen.

Thursday 3 November 2011

One sleepy Z

I'm wondering about my state of mind.  I've been listening relentlessly to The Mountain Goats for the last few days, specifically to The Sunset Tree and Get Lonely, which are about the most relentlessly gloomy albums I own.  I can't think of anything going on in the dark recesses, I must get out something jolly and change the pace.

The Sage had a phone call from the buyer of the bottle'n'bowl combo, a cheque will be on its way tomorrow.  The sale results are up on the website now, although since then some more unsold pieces have had successful offers - it's normal for about 20% of lots not to reach their reserves, but I think we may be down to about 3 out of 84 unsold by the end.

Year 9 music today, we were working on Katy Perry and Pachelbel.  I go to help with the trickier classes - they are fine, just a few kids whose concentration isn't all that - and the teacher was bemoaning the fact that I don't see all the level of concentration achieved in the other classes.  She really is good and gets a lot from them, but she expects a fair bit of self-reliance as the year goes on and some of them find that hard.  I'm still absurdly inept, but I'm bound to crack it one day.  Am I not?

Oh.  Reality stares me down.  Well, put it this way - I am free of charge.

I've had a text from Zig, who thanks you again for the cheering messages left on her blog, which are really encouraging her.   And indeed, you are lovely.  If I needed kind words, this is where I'd turn.

Oh look - Hoagy Carmichael.  He fits the bill all right.

Wednesday 2 November 2011


Shall it be all good today, darlings?


Zerlina has been harvesting, and has added a new word to her vocabulary ... and ours, come to that.

This afternoon, there was a short ceremony to dedicate a seat in the school yard to our caretaker, who died a few months ago, and to dedicate a tree to Aaron, the 16-year-old who died suddenly of natural causes at about the same time.  The caretaker's surname was Hyde, so it's to be known as the Hyde Park Bench.  It was short, simple and moving, conducted by the local vicar, who is also a parent of children at the school and who has just become a governor.

This evening, I was back in school for the Sixth Form open evening.  There were loads of people there! The atmosphere was brilliant, there were a lot of the present sixth formers helping out and I trotted around chatting to various people, mostly staff and sixth formers - you know, the old schmooze, having my face seen and showing an interest.  I took opportunities to watch students and teachers together, there is a lot of warmth and genuine friendship there, in an entirely appropriate pupil/teacher sense.  There is a huge range of courses on offer for the 250 or so students: 25 A Levels, 4 Vocational Level 3 courses (equivalent to 2 A Levels each) and 2 Level 2 courses, which take a year and are equivalent to 4 or 5 GCSEs each.

I slipped out without saying goodbye to the Head, because he was talking animatedly to a boy and his parents.  I drove home and sat down at the computer, just as an email dropped into the inbox.  It was from a friend and fellow governor, giving the good news that his wife has just had her medical all-clear.  Earlier this year, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, just like Ziggi.  She has had chemotherapy, an operation, a break to attend their daughter's graduation, more chemotherapy, a break to attend their other daughter's wedding, more chemotherapy...and now she is told that she is free of cancer.  And their son has been accepted on the post-graduate placement he hoped for.  She can go back to work after Christmas - being a teacher, her consultant wants her to have time to build up her resilience against the children's germs, and then she will have check-ups for the next five years.  

So, an incredibly tough and terrifying year, but she has come through it and dares to look forward.  

Great oats from little apricorns grow?  

Tuesday 1 November 2011


I'm not sentimental, you know.  I may be emotional, on occasion, but not sentimental.  But this made me cry.  And if you think that some of it is too emotional, then she's allowed, under the circumstances.

I held out until “I’m telling you now because I’m afraid you won’t make it on time, honey.”

Anyway.  This is a forward-thinking blog, which you rarely leave crying.

This afternoon, I visited Weeza and Gus.  Gus was on splendid form.  Zerlina was the smilingest baby I've ever known, but Gus is at least as happy.  He is immensely long, he likes lying on your lap, feet at your stomach, head clasped in your outstretched hands, smiling and 'talking' to you - but he's so long that I can't rest my wrists on my knees and it's quite tiring.  When I held his eye contact, he smiled widely, and then when, talking to Weeza, I looked away, he made sounds in a conversational tone, so that I would look back, and then he smiled again.  Later, he slept, fed, slept, cried briefly with wind until I put him to my shoulder where he burped, relaxed and slept again.  

I spent a lot of the time telling Weeza of the events that I referred to a couple of days ago.  A lot of "nooo,"  "ew," "what?" and so on, and it was ... actually ... very funny.