We have all had those moments in our lives when you wish the ground would open beneath you and swallow you up. Needless to say, spouse and I have experienced many of these, possibly more than most as generally speaking, opening mouth before engaging brain is a characteristic that runs in our families - particularly mine. I am not know as 'our diplomatic correspondent' for nothing.
Latterly, however, I have worked hard at guarding my tongue and endeavouring to be more of a wallflower than a brash old sunflower, if you get my drift. Whilst I have achieved a great deal of success in this field, embarrassing moments still come my way. And this time I didn't even have to open my mouth.
You wouldn't think making enquiries at an unholsterers would engender such a moment would you? How wrong you would be, my dear reader. This week, I breezed into the showroom/workshop of a local craftsman, a most helpful and skilled artisan and, bonus for me, his gorgeous pure white boxer dog was curled up on his bed in the bow window, just waiting for fuss and cuddles. Having got that important business over with, I turned my attention to the matter I had come about, the re-upholstering of two armchairs. Spouse, in his great wisdom, had suggested I take photographs with my smartphone of said chairs. This I duly did and chirpily announced this fact to my new upholsterer friend. He was suitably impressed and asked to see said pics. Ha, now here's the rub. I might be the proud possessor of a smartphone, but as we speak, I am not the proud possessor of all its workings and when asked to show the photographs of the aforementioned armchairs, I opened up the phone and stared blankly at the menu.
My upholsterer friend pointed to an icon for pictures and I pressed on it with great relief, thinking I was not going to look a complete nitwit after all - everyone else knows how to operate the wretched things don't they? Sure enough, pictures appeared on the screen. But, unfortunately, not pictures of armchairs. No indeedy. I don't know if you are familiar with the large Disney Mickey Mouse ears set on a headband to be worn on top of the head - large red and white spotted ears? Yup, there they were, worn by spouse posing nonchalantly against the fireplace. Hastily swipe screen to next picture - spouse with jazz hands and Mickey Mouse ears. Pink of face, I try one more swipe - spouse pirouetting in Mickey Mouse ears - he missed his vocation, I've never seen such a lovely mover.
The rest is a blur. I believe we eventually located the right icon for photographs, by which time spouse had joined us in the shop and he, ignorant of the all the foregoing, held an intense and serious discussion with the upholsterer regarding armchairs. I wonder of he noticed the hint of an amused glint in the eye of our new friend?
I think I have related the circumstances surrounding the purchase of the Mickey Mouse ears in a much earlier blog, so I won't repeat myself here. No, It was not I that had a yen to possess such an item, it was spouse and every Christmas time, out come the ears and are proudly worn around York city as we make our Yuletide purchases for our loved ones. They, (the ears) bring a certain je ne sais quois to the Christmas shopping experience, certainly smiles and laughter to the streets, so I cannot complain. But why, oh why, did I ever practice on him and them with my new smartphone? Couldn't I just have taken a picture of a Christmas tree or the dog, or my foot?
Somewhere in the foot-thick telephone manual will be the instructions on how to delete photographs. Now where did I put it? .......
Over the course of a very happy and 'interesting' marriage, my dear spouse has provided me with many funny moments, some exasperating beyond belief and some embarrassing. In previous blogs for example, I have described his penchant for lining up the batons at the supermarket and making pictures out of the damp patches on the church wall - describing them to me at the quietest moments in the church service when he should have been concentrating on his prayers!
Combined with his love of life is his love of words and food. He once mis-heard my pronunciation of chorizo when asking what was for supper and was scandalised to think I was going to serve him up dog for dinner, as in Shih Tzu. Ever since it has been chicken and shitzu in our house. Another example - we have several bird feeding stations dotted around our garden, some with Nija or Nyger (depending on who you consult ) seed. According to spouse the feeds are full of ninja seed to attract the Ninjas. Funnily enough I cannot find any Ninja species in my bird book!
Last year, walking into the Great Yorkshire Showground, the outlying fields were full of horseboxes, trailers and Winnebegos. Spouse gazed in wonderment at some of the monster Winnebegos, grappling for the name for them. To be fair I couldn't remember either. Eventually he came out with, 'it's a ... it's a ... oh, you know ... a Betty Grable,' he finished with a triumphant smile. Naturally they are all known as Betty Grables now.
He is perfectly able to remember people's names but more often than not will bestow on them their own particular moniker. Anne, a friend of ours, has always been known as Irish Mary in our house. No, I don't know why either and a dear Sister of Mercy friend of ours from long ago - the kindest, sweetest nun you could ever wish to meet had the soubriquet of Machine-gun di-Pazzi bestowed on her.
We were staying with very dear friends this week and finished up the trip with watching a romcom, lots of popcorn, crisps, cheesy biscuits and rivers of lovely red wine flowed between us all. Enough to give us the strength to slay several giants. Next morning we are all slightly the worse for wear, except for spouse. He comes bounding down for breakfast and looks at the beautiful spread our lovely hostess had put out. He beamed and rubbed his hands enthusiastically. 'Is it beagles for breakfast?' Our friend looked alarmed as well she might. Did she think I was in the habit of cooking beagles at home? 'Bagels?' I hazarded. 'No.' Spouse was very definite. 'Beagles.'
I'm so glad he usually opts for the full English breakfast when we are in an hotel. At least he doesn't have to request individual items in that dish. Thank goodness shitzu and beagles are not an option or we might have the RSPCA knocking on our door.
We have friends coming for lunch today. As I write spouse is in the bathroom, practising in the mirror - 'coq au vin, coq au vin.' I hope he manages to get the right words in the right order today, I wouldn't want 'Tree-Trunk-Silas' and 'Lampstand-Joan' to find any more oddities about us than usual. We shall see ....
Wimbledon fortnight has come round again, all too soon and I am not ready for it. I am a tennis addict. In a parallel universe, which I have to admit dear reader, I inhabit a great deal, all my laundry would be done, as would all my shopping so that meals would be prepared and ready to take out of the freezer and my calendar cleared for the next two weeks. In that wonderful universe I could then indulge in watching my favourite sport on the television and armchair commentating on every volley, backhand and overhead smash.
Unfortunately, the real world claims my time and attention. I have alterations to make to my latest book, shopping has to be done and meals prepared for the hungry hoards. Then there is the garden to be attended to, church music practice to fit in and why, oh why, did I volunteer myself to help out in the Library garden? Because I can't stand to see the weeds any longer and neither can my friend and I can't let her tackle that lot all by herself.
So there it is - and a multitude of other things thrown into the mix - a normal everyday life. But over the two weeks of Wimbledon I transmogrify into an armchair couch potato. Chores are rushed or neglected altogether, spouse believes he has become a rabbit as so much salad is put before him and work is confined to mornings only if tackled at all and the weeds grow and the dust gathers in the house, as I slink off to watch my heroes fight their way to glory yet again.
I played a lot of tennis in my youth, in the days of the wooden rackets. How we ever lifted them, let alone managed to thwack a ball, still remains a mystery to me. By rights I should have bulging biceps and muscular calves from years of fruitlessly chasing after tennis balls, but I have neither and I count that a blessing. But it kept me fit and watching the players at Wimbledon every year, players at the top of their profession, battling on to win, sometimes against all odds. inspired me to keep trying and not only at the tennis.
My days of playing fast-paced tennis are a happy memory. These days I am more suited to fast-paced walking, but I still love watching the tennis players fighting it out, slipping and sliding on the unfamiliar grass courts. I love the well-trained ball boys and girls, darting out like a lizard's tongue and then being still again. The dramas, the crises, temper tantrums, the amazing, unbelievable shots the players can make that leave me gasping and on the edge of my seat. What a sport. I love it all.
As I write there is still another week of Wimbledon left. I will be there as much as I can. Every line call, lob and double fault will be chewed over, tears shed when one of my heroes is defeated and a great deal of shouting at the screen, when, in my expert judgement, the linesman/woman gives the wrong call of 'out' or the umpire is unfair to my player, whatever the reason it may be - racket abuse, temper or taking too long between serves. There is as much steam got up in our house as ever there is on the courts.
Excuse me, I must go now, it's time for the next match. Andy Murray's on court and he needs my support. What's that spouse? Supper? Do I really need to tell you? Strawberries and cream. Oh, and Pimms, of course.
But, please don't eat anything. What???? O.K. It goes like this. Two lovely friends came round for supper the other night and between the four of us we made pretty good inroads on the nosh I had rustled up. THERE WERE LEFTOVERS.... Suitably covered and placed in the refrigerator, all was hunky dory. Until spouse got up the next morning. No, that's not strictly correct. He got up at the crack of sparrow-call and was off to the photograph the Flying Scotsman as it made its way through our rural North Yorkshire countryside. The pals he met up with had already feasted at MaccDonalds. The talk was of breakfast muffins, bacon and eggs and the like. By the time spouse returned home, he was salivating like a caveman who had just dragged his latest wild boar kill miles home to the cave and couldn't wait for it to be roasted and set before him. Whilst I set about producing the Saturday morning 'full English', spouse, unable to wait a nanosecond longer for sustenance, investigated the refrigerator for emergency rations. His eyes lit up at the sight of the previous night's leftovers. One minute later he was sitting at the kitchen table happily spooning down microwaved cauiflower cheese as the overture to his main breakfast. 'Mmm,' he cleaned the plate and licked the last sauce off the spoon, 'you can come to dinner again Liz and John, just don't eat anything.'
As you might by now realise, spouse has a healthy appetite and that's being polite about it. He didn't acquire the soubriquet, 'Mr Hollowlegs' for nothing. Many years ago I remember meeting a friend as she staggered to her car, laden with bags of food. She had a teen-aged son who was at the eating like a horse stage. Mary was looking forward to the days when he would be fully grown and would not cost her a king's ransom to feed. I could not bring myself to disillusion her and sidled quietly away. From my experience, I am still waiting for that day to arrive.
Here is a 'for instance'. Spouse enjoyed clay pigeon shooting and was a member of a team. Every year they would all troop off to a shooting competition at Beverley, near Hull. On the last evening a special meal would be laid on and the various silver cups and awards dished out, for individual and team efforts. One year spouse's team sat down for dinner and it so happened there was spouse - then a space - spouse's friend - and another space. The waitress cam along to take their orders. I think you know what's coming. Oh yes they did - spouse gave his order and the waitress asked what was the chap next to him having. Spouse duly ordered the meal for the empty place and his friend did likewise. They scoffed their starters and main course and each time swapped the plates over and scoffed the next lot. The waitress came to take the dessert order. Spouse made his choice. The waitress pointed to the empty chair. 'What's he having?' she asked. 'Oh, him? He'll have the cheesecake,' spouse answered without missing a beat. His friend followed his lead. So, two starters, two mains, two puddings and lots of cheese and bikkies, coffee and liquers went down the hatch without them hardly drawing breath.
Spouse's love of life and good food has not waned with the passage of the years. I am the supermarket's favourite customer and stagger home with industrial quantities of food to sustain life and limb. In fairness I have to say it can have its upside, this feeding of a sturdy Yorkshireman. When a tree needs felling, he bounds out of doors with his extremely large axe and despatches the poor old tree in no time. Our friends and neighbours do not hesitate to call on his services when large pieces of furniture/freezers/refrigerators/ etc. need to be moved or loaded into vans. And, God bless their cotton socks, there is always a juicy morsel as a reward when the deed is done. Plates of buttered scones, his favourite Victoria sponge cake or bacon butties all find their way to him.
So, I suppose I will continue to haunt the supermarkets, bakers and greengrocers on an almost daily basis for some long time to come. One day he might require just a little less fuel, but it doesn't look to be anytime soon. So, if you come for supper with us make sure you've had a little snackerel beforehand. With spouse on hand, the pickings may not be rich.
Slit spouse from gizzard to belly and he will read 'Made In England' like a stick of Blackpool rock. Never has there been a truer, more solid Englishman. Patriotic, loyal, you name it, he is it. As a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Viking/Anglo Saxon, he is an Englishman to his boot-strap bottoms.
In most things we are opposite and this instance follows the pattern. Whilst I too, am a loyal Englishwoman I am also a committed Francophile. I adore the country, the people and their way of life. Thus it was, that by some miracle, spouse, on retiring from the day job, was persuaded to make a short sojourn in France and we fetched up in a small village in the south-west, the Charente Maritime.
Needless to say I was in heaven. Spouse? Mmm, maybe not quite so, although he did enjoy the wonderful wines and food markets that abounded. There are many, many stories of our time in France, but that would be a digression too far in this blog However, one memory stands out in particular and was brought vividly back to mind this week.
I mentioned that spouse is Anglophile to his fingertips. An Englishman in France, socks with sandals and a proper stiff cream sun hat on. You get the picture. Well, it so happened that I had a C.D. by an Irish band called Planxty with a track on it called 'The Bonny Light Horseman', the lady in the song hold Napoleon responsible for the death of her lover.
I was playing this particular C.D. one day whilst washing up, singing along as you do. Spouse came into the kitchen grinning broadly and turned the volume up to deafening level. (Elf and Safety in Britain would have had his guts for garters.) Still grinning happily, he threw the windows and doors wide open and all of France to hear the song.
Now, as far as the French are concerned they did not lose Waterloo. Quite how they square this with Napoleon's capture and subsequent imprisonment on Elba, I don't know. Their great leader, Napoleon is still revered throughout France and Napoleonic law still rules. in a great many ways. You do not utter his name lightly. Luckily for us our nearest farmer neighbours were indoors, taking their usual post-prandial nap. Had they been out of doors and within hearing distance we might have been cassoulet Anglaise.
Having survived the French experience relatively unscathed, we returned to England and found a new home. Now, spouse is quite a keen chess player. No, I am not mid-digression again, dear reader. Bear with me and we will get there. We are keen afficianados of a good rummage through antique shops, junk shops and haunted many a brocante marche and depot vente in France and on one of our English sorties we came upon a chess set. One team was the Duke of Wellington, his Duchess and English soldiers and the opposing team was of course, Napoleon, Josephine and his French soldiers.
Spouse was ecstatic. Normally, as a true Yorkshireman, he would have gone away and rigorously examined the case for opening his wallet and laying hands on yer actual pound notes. But, for once, no such contemplation of the situation was deemed necessary. Gleefully he pounced upon the box and whipped out Her Majesty's currency before you could say 'knife'.
The chess set was borne home in triumph and given pride of place in the sitting room. Not just to be looked at I may add. No, to be used and then some. I am not a chess player. I'm far too scatty and whenever spouse has tried to teach me these have not turned out to be the happiest of occasion - it was better to desist than divorce. However, when spouse passes by his precious chess set, he always makes a move, for one side or another. But an interesting phenomenon occurs in our house - Napoleon never wins. Waterloo is safe in spouse's hands.
Well it was. You may recall, dear reader, that we recently moved house. The chess set was carefully packed away in its box and last week, tenderly unpacked again, once more given pride of place in the sitting room. Spouse happened to be out and about the next day when I noticed a small chip out of the chessboard, revealing its white underbelly. Out came the brown boot polish, my usually fail-safe remedy for covering scratches, but this time it proved unsuccessful. So I had the bright idea of turning the board around so that the chip faced the wall and would not be seen. Think the thought, do the deed. I slowly began to turn the board around, but drat his eyes, didn't the Duke of Wellington fall over and drop on to the floor along with one of his soldiers.
Believe me, there was more than a sharp intake of breath when I contemplated the damage. I had beheaded the Duke of Wellington, something even the great Napoleon had not managed to do. How does the story end? Well I am still here to tell the tale. Spouse has not beheaded me.
On his return home he was greeted with the sorry tale of the Duke and his maimed soldier. To his eternal credit he was forgiving and kind, realising I was motivated by the best of intentions and he did not repay me in kind - I have kept my head. Thankfully the Duke is now repaired and restored to his station and his soldier has also had his foot repaired and he too stands smartly to attention. Let battle commence - and the Duke win - of course.
Spouse has acquired an alternative monika - Hercules. Thankfully, not because he goes about disposing of of his family members, but, according to him, he has already performed at least twelve tasks and possibly more, before cock-crow.
How is this? You may well ask, dear reader. Does my six foot, not-quite-in-his-prime-anymore spouse resemble this Greek giant of derring-do? Perhaps he does. This is the case he puts to me every morning and when you have finished reading this account it is my sincere wish that every man/woman jack of you will count all of his/her blessings that you do not have to endure this litany of his achievements.
So, the radio alarm goes off and the dulcet or strident tones of John Humphrys, Sarah Montague or some other Radio 4 Today programme presenter enters out consciousness. Thus awakened, our Hercules shimmies silently out of bed and descends the stairs. He is one of those fortunate people who, from the minute they open their eyes are instantly alert, firing on all cylinders and not only ready, but raring to go. I, on the other hand prefer to come to consciousness in a more gentle fashion and gradually greet the day. Thus it is that spouse is despatched to make the morning tea and use up some of his early morning bounciness.
Here we have reached the nub of the matter and where the Labours of Hercules begin and now that I reflect upon his morning's activities I am amazed that I get a cup of morning tea at all.
He has to go out and dig up some clay and mould a couple of drinking vessels on his potters wheel, which then have to be fired in his ever-ready kiln, (not that I recall seeing one of those about the place). Then he has to pick the tea leaves from the bushes and dry them, (in the kiln?). I am a keen gardener and I don't remember any tea bushes in our garden, but as we are new to this house, maybe I have overlooked them as yet. Although sometimes he does talk of going to China or India to pick the leaves.
Also, I have not seen a well on our property, but, nevertheless. Hercules has to go and draw the water from the well to heat up for our tea, (presumably in his kiln). It will certainly be hot if that is the case. Now, we like a splash of milk in our tea, so poor old Herc has to go down the garden again to milk the cow and trudge back up to the house with the jug of warm milk Last of all he has to raid his supply of sugar cane, crush it, roll it, boil it and do all manner of things to it to end up with his granules of sugar for his morning beverage. If clean out of sugar cane he might visit the bees for some honey for his tea. Whose bees these are has never been made clear to me, as we do not have any hives. Having done this he is now ready to bring all the aforementioned elements together in the form of two cups of tea, ascend the stairs and present the fruits of his labours to his dearly beloved - me, allegedly.
Gosh. No wonder he looks quite whacked out by the time he and his libations reach the portals of the boudoir. As you can imagine, dear reader, quite some time has elapsed since Hercules descended the stairs to undertake this task, (although an element of time travel must be involved as John Humphrys is still banging on at some hapless politician on the Today programme). Perhaps spouse is more Dumbledore than Hercules. Anyway, in the interim I have fully woken up and am sitting up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, eagerly awaiting my morning beverage and in the right frame of mind for discussing the forthcoming day and all the delights it my hold.
Wearily, Hercules deposits his newly-crafted cup of Rosie Lea by my bedside and then collapses exhausted into bed. Perhaps it's time someone told him that re-usable cups, teabags, milk and sugar are available from the supermarket and those strange devices that lurk over our sink dispense endless quantities of Adam's ale.
Or maybe not. I have to admit, I enjoy all his Herculean efforts on my behalf and Daisy cow is adorable. Oh, didn't I tell you about Daisy? Well, having a cow down the bottom of the garden doesn't mean he does all that other stuff - or does it??? .....
I think I would be correct if I said that we all have a certain image of ourselves, as in perhaps a cheerful, positive person, or an action man/woman, or laid-back couch-potato type, or maybe even a dissatisfied Eyore. I am sure there are many combinations. I have always been a 'don't put off until tomorrow what you can squeeze into the next half-hour' type. 'Do it now' has been my watchword. Spouse is rolling his eyes even as I type the words, having been on the receiving end of Mrs Actionwoman for far too many times than he cares to remember.
However, I have noticed a certain change in my behaviour of late and I have not as yet come to a firm conclusion as to the reason why. I have gone from being a 'do it now' merchant to a 'mmm, maybe not today' lady. I have become a procrastinator extraordinaire.
Here's a 'for instance'. Having moved to a new home recently I have a 'to do' list, which incorporates a 'to contact list, 'to find' list and a 'get on with it soon' list. The list lurks on the kitchen worktop and I peer guiltily at it when I pass. I am getting to the stage when I slink past it like a naughty child - if I close my eyes I can't see it and so can't be reminded of what I should be doing instead of what I am doing, which is not a lot.
Unluckily for me, it is not only THE LIST that glares balefully back at me. In our new bedroom, which is a large, light and airy room, there are a distinct lack of wardrobes. In fact, we don't have any at all. At present, we have some clothes rails to hang our extremely expensive designer and coture clothes upon. (I lie, dear reader, we do not own one piece of coture clothing between us). But our glad rags hang there, a reproach to my current procrastinating tendencies. I am supposed to be organising fitted wardrobes - I think they're an item on my 'to do' list.
And then there is the little matter of my Office. Only it's not a 'little matter' at all. A paper-mountain awaits sorting out in there and I hope one of these fine days to work my way in, to find the file with the plot of my next book. But that fine day has not arrived yet and again, I slink guiltily past the door, trying my best not to think about the chaos within.
Procrastination is very tiring. If I put half the amount of energy into getting on with things and actually getting them done as I do into not doing things, I could probably conquer the world, well, at least a bit of North Yorkshire. Instead of which, I drift about the place, watching the wildlife and pulling out the odd weed in the garden and watching the grass grow. 'Never put off until tomorrow' is a fading memory. At present I am a 'let's not even get started' person.
Mulling this new procrastinating behaviour over, a ray of light begins to dawn on me. I have just finished writing a book and when I'm busy writing, like everyone who works, it's all a bit of a juggling act, balancing the work with the multitude of other life tasks and pleasures awaiting out there. So you get a wiggle on and make the most of every nano-second.
But, I'm having a break from writing - a holiday - a step away from the daily rush of life and I think my poor old brain cell does not know what to make of all this spare time it has. For sure, there are plenty of things to do, but there's no hurry to do them, yawn, so why do them at all? No hurries? Then, no worries, it will still be there tomorrow.
By then I might be lying in my new hammock on the lawn and the house-elf will have been in and sorted out all the things on the 'to do' list and I won't have to procrastinate about them any more, (in my dreams). Then I can start procrastinating about starting a new book, assuming the house-elf found the file in my jungle of an office. Are my brain cells ready for it yet? Maybe, maybe not. I need to go and lie in the hammock some more, just to be really sure .....
So, spouse showed our young man the wood he wanted.
'Oh, that wood! Now if I'd have known it was that wood you wanted...'
Spouse by this time was nearly busting a blood vessel. However, he managed to contain himself and together they went through the feet ad inches measurements, barcode and price routine, then returning to the Order Desk to finally get the whole lot on to the computer.
Now came the exciting bit - the proposed delivery of all this wood. When would Sir like it? Ooh, Sir would like it tomorrow or the next day please. Well, actually, no. Sir couldn't possibly have it as quick as that. Well why the ****** ask me then?
After much consultation on the phone it turned out it couldn't be delivered for another week and no he couldn't pay for it at this desk - this was the 'Order Desk'. He would have to go right away over the other side of the store to the 'Pay Desk'.
I think spouse was very tempted to tell the young man where he could put his 'Order Desk,' but as he had gone through so much that morning, just to get this far, he was beaten into submission and paid up at the 'Pay Desk' without the need of a security guard to manhandle him out of a store for a change.
Moral of this shaggy dog story? Moving house is partly for the shedding of STUFF. Look what happens if you have too much of it. I am ordering the yurt even as we speak.
It has been an interesting week at Maison Comb. Having recently moved into our new quarters and even though spouse has acquired a large study, he still has not got enough bookcases to stash away all his books. So, he decided to build in bookshelves in a large recess. He planned, he drew it out, he carefully measured up - not in his favoured feet and inches, but in millimetres as the local DIY emporium deals in these, or so he thought.
It would be a simple matter of driving into town, ordering the wood and arranging for delivery. So my dear spouse thought, in his innocence. Sadly, this turned out not to be so. The drive into town was simple enough, but thereafter it turned into an episode of 'Four Candles', only with spouse getting more and more exasperated as the ordering process went on.
it goes like this - Spouse enters store and goes to the far end of it where the wood section is. Makes his preferred choices and notes the measurements in millimetres and quantities required. Then schlepps to the front of the store to the 'Ordering Desk'. After some queuing up it is spouse's turn to order and he begins with his first two items, only to be interrupted by the young male member of staff manning the computer.
'Ooh, I'm not very good with millimetres, have you got feet and inches?'
'No,' says spouse. 'You always want millimetres.
'Well, did you get the bar code?'
'No', says spouse, only mildly irritated by this stage.
So, off he went to the far end of the store again to get the bar code. Schlepped back to the Order Desk and the young man brings a picture up on the screen - white wood on a white screen background, which was not much use to spouse as he could hardly see it.
'Tell you what,' says the young man, 'Chris in 'gardening' is good with millimetres. Go and see him and we'll be right as ninepence.'
'Or thruppence ha'penny if it's old money,' mutters spouse under his breath,' as he makes his way to 'Gardening'.
But there was only a female member of staff working in the 'gardening' section. When spouse requested the aid of Chris, it was to be informed that he had gone for his 12noon lunch break. Lucky old Chris, is was only 11.45a.m. so, out of luck on the millimetre front, spouse schlepped back up the store, re-checked measurements in inches, bar codes and prices and made his way back to the Order Desk once more. Greeted like an old friend, our young man once more consulted his computer screen and bought up yet another picture of wood, 'no, wood is not just wood, believe me.)
Once again, spouse did not feel the picture of this piece of wood properly represented the piece he had just been looking at at the back of the store.
'Why don't you come and look at it wit me,' he suggested to the young man.
It was like flicking a switch and the light bulb came on.
'Good idea,' young man exclaimed and almost arm-in-arm the made they way up the store to inspect the stocks of wood.
Spouse showed the exact sample of wood to the young man.
It's not only 'mad dogs and Englishmen' that 'go out in the midday sun.' So do pigeons. Over-sexed, over-fed and definitely over-here in our garden. I am beginning to wonder if this ménage á trois bunch of columbidae were so enamoured of our company that they followed us to our new home.
We have a male pigeon and his lady love and also, once again, billy-no-mates trailing in their wake, to be chased away when he becomes too much of a nusiance, or intrudes upon their more amorous moments.
And believe me, these are many and varied and I will not go into the details here. I know that 'in the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love'. I suspect the pigeons in our garden are descended from the very ones that inhabited Tennyson's garden and now is the mating season, but really, there's a time and a place and I don't see why it has to be all over our garden.
Our amorous Mr Pigeon does not discriminate in his choice of venue - on top of the fence, the greenhouse roof, the shed roof, the edge of the pond for goodness sake. It is not as if we are without our share of trees, indeed we are surrounded with 'em. I don't know if it's more difficult for a large pigeon to do the necessary on a swaying branch and hence he favours the stability of the fence/shed/pond, or whether he is just an exhibitionist. Whatever the reason, we are daily 'treated' to a lively performance - that is, when Mrs P is in the mood.
And Mrs P is not always in the mood. Mr Pigeon can bow and scrape obsequiously in front of her 'till God's Kingdom cometh, but if she's not willing, she's not willing. Nevertheless, he pursues the poor lady all over the garden, up and down the trees and back again, until they both must be exhausted and he probably hasn't the energy left over for anything else anyway. But when those pigeon hormones kick in, a bird has to do what a bird has to do. Mrs P can be as contrary as she likes, Mr P is not giving up anytime soon.
I leave you, dear reader, to draw your own life lessons from the antics of our feathered friends and their sometime ménage á trois. As long as spouse doesn't start eyeing up the shed roof speculatively .......
I'm sorry there hasn't been a blog from me for 3 or 4 weeks now. we moved house and unfortunately our Broadband didn't manage to move with us and it took quite some sorting out before we could get back on-line again. The news is that Café Paradise Book 3 is almost finished, maybe another week, if I get a wiggle on and then a spot of editing from me before it goes off to the Editor proper.
I am pleased to say that spouse and I have managed our move in our usual good-humoured style and have shared many bizarre and surreal moments in the process. I am happy to say that most of these have been blotted out in a blur of intensive writing. All being well, my blog will appear as usual next Sunday. Meantime, I hope all is well with all my friends out there and hope we'll be having a catch-up soon.
I have been chatting to my dear skin and blister and we have been exchanging notes on our respective spouses, not something we normally do, but there we are. And we find we have a 'Rodney' from 'Only Fools and Horses' and a'Victor' from 'One Foot In The Grave.'
The following is one of 'Rodney's' moments. My sister and her dearly beloved put their caravan into winter storage in a farmer's field, along with dozens of others, all lined up in regimented rows. With spring a-springing and the sap rising, it was generally felt that the time had come to liberate the caravan from its winter mufflings, ready for a wash and brush up and a first outing. So off sis and spouse went to do the deed.
One caravan wrapped in its winter warmer can look very much like another and so it proved to be at the farmer's field. They arrived at their caravan, which was still looking all cosy warm in its wrappings, but so, also was the one next to it. Two identically covered caravans side by side.
And here is where 'Rodney' steps up to the plate. Did he undertake a little investigative work to ascertain if he was about to unwrap the beast belonging to him? No, dear reader, he did not. Convinced to the last fibre in his six foot frame, that he knew his own beast when he encountered it, 'Rodney' swung into action.
The tight fitting cover on the caravan was secured by leather straps that passed underneath the van. 'Rodney' had three of them undone, before sis pointed out that he was working on the wrong van.She had bought a smidgeon of common sense to the situation and checked out the adjacent caravan and, guess what? As if you haven't already guessed. Yep, he was untying the wrong one.
Now, it's all very well unbuckling all those leather straps with gay abandon and hauling them from underneath the van, but when it came time to put the wretched things back again, it was a very different kettle of fish. A bit like underarm lassoeing, or gentle underarm bowling in cricket. It took several attempts before the said straps made it to the other side of the caravan and could be secured again. Bet he doesn't go in for that one again next year.
Now, fair do's. That was a 'Rodney' moment. Now we come to my 'Victor.' Spouse, in the main, is fairly easygoing and doesn't get his dander up very often, but take him into a supermarket and things can change. We amble inside and collect our shopping in the trolley provided in perfect amity with one another, but get to the check-out and a whole different beast emerges. All over those dividing bars the supermarkets provide, to separate one customer's shopping from the nexts. If the poor old check-out person has kept all the bars down his/her end, there's 'trouble at t'mill.' Spouse frowns and starts quietly huffing and puffing, edging forward to try and reach at least one of them to slide up our end. Never mind that we nearly crush the person and their trolley in front of us, the dividing bar is the ultimate goal. Once he has secured at least two, he is happy. A seraphic smile spreads across his chops and all is well with the world.
Thinking of supermarkets, makes me think of 'dithering Dora.' Strictly speaking, I should not be including this particular item in this blog, as it does not come under a 'Victor' moment, or maybe it does. Parking in a space in the supermarket - quite a straightforward process for most people, but not for spouse. I would just drive in, find the nearest space, drive in, switch the engine off and happily hotfoot it into the supermarket. Not spouse. He has to either reverse into a space; never, never drive into one because you can't see when you're trying to get out, (that's never stopped me), or, even better find a drive-through. Two empty spaces end to end. Drive through one, park in the other and 'bob's your uncle', you're facing outwards, no reversing involved.
On any given visit to the supermarket we could probably spend the rest of our lives circumnavigating the car park for exactly the right spot, me rolling my eyes and waiting for my next birthday to come around. It puts me in mind of our old Border Collie Dog, who took ages to cock his leg for a pee. He had to find exactly the right blade of grass before he was prompted into action. Is there a cure for spouse's supermarket foibles? I doubt it. They are like the poor, always with us and I might just as well save my breath to cool my porridge, as to vent my spleen about it all, or every time we visit the food emporium
I could go on my own, I hear you remark. Well, yes I could, but would I miss one nanosecond of spouse's shennanigans? I don't think so. Besides, who knows what other adventures or mishaps might occur when my back was turned.
It is 16th April, Easter Sunday. May I wish everyone a very happy, holy and prayerful Easter. There will be no blog next weekend as we are moving house. I might have a few things to do ... but, with luck, I'll be back after that. Happy days.
Someone up there in the ether has stolen this week's blog. I am in the process of looking for it and if I find it I will put it up on here. Sorry, my friends, the gremlins are busy again.
i'm afraid that this is a blog that is not a blog this week. Everyone in my life has behaved in angelic fashion and that amazingly includes spouse, (apart from telling me I'm not a horse, but perhaps I needed shooting as I had a painful foot). I have met up with friends of many years standing and taken huge pleasure in their company and been treated to a wonderful day out by spouse. My writer's group is flourishing, the members are producing novels of outstanding quality. Everything in my garden is rosy. I am almost recovered from all lurghies and there is a spring in my step. Unfortunately, there is no spring in my brain and all the little cells have gone on holiday. There is no grain of sand in my mental oyster shell to provoke me into print. I am not used to this steady state of affairs, it is very unnerving.So, my friends, I will see you next week and with luck, spouse will be back on form, driving me nuts and the world will again be out of kilter. Have a good week everyone. I just hope I have an interesting one.
I don't know what I have done to upset the Good Lord above lately, but life has not been going as swimmingly as it used to. I have had the world's longest lasting virus, coming round to re-visit at least four times now and please don't tell me to go to the doctors. I did. No antibiotics given any more, unless, I suspect you are at death's door and it probably be too late then anyway, so what the heck. The doctor directed me to the pharmacist for advice as to what I might take to alleviate my symptoms. Hey, nice work. I want her job. all those years of training and all you have to do is direct the medical traffic. Nice little earner.
Yes, I can see I'm digressing. So that's the virus and then there is our house move - or non-move I should say. Here we sit among all our packed up worldly goods and chattels whilst the people living in our new house make up their minds as to whether they're gonna buy another house or what. At least, that's this week's thinking on their part. Who knows - I don't think even they know what they think and we don't. We just quietly climb the walls and metaphorically swing from the chandeliers. Now the sun is shining and spring is here and I am still wrapped up in winter woollies as all my lighter clothes are packed, ready to go. This could be the case for some time to come!!
So, life is not all beer and skittles just now. However, there is still the latest book to be written and as I am only two thirds of the way through, the writerly nose has had to be re-attached to the writerly grindstone, in spite of much coughing, spluttering and nose-blowing going on.
Spouse, in his wisdom, decided a day out would be in order, to lift me out of my fit of the blues which had descended due to my incarceration. (No doubt you have noticed that already, dear reader. I am not my usual sunny self.) 'Let's go to Thirsk,' says he 'have a good lunch and do some shopping. Nice bit of retail therapy, dear to every woman's heart.' I readily fell in with this suggestion and brightened up immediately.
The day dawned, quite bright and sunny, if a bit cool still, but it was only March. We tootled into Scarborough and did our business at the bank and then partook of a hot coffee at a well-known coffee chain, whilst I made some notes for the next day's scenes in the book. Inspiration had struck and I needed to stay on its tail.
Soon we were heading back to the car park, ready for our adventure to Thirsk. 'How long will it take us?' I innocently enquired. 'Ooh, about forty minutes,' quoth spouse and headed off out of the town. Well, all I can say is, if I have no sense of direction, which I readily admit to, spouse has not one iota of timescale. Admittedly at one point he turned off the main route and opted for the 'country route' - winding country lanes, made sodden by the continually pouring rain. Did I mention that? No I don't think I did. We left sunny Scarborough in the morning and heading out to York and Thirsk, the rain started and then never stopped for the rest of the day.
So, there we were, hiking a round the back roads of North Yorkshire in filthy weather, adding at least another hour to our journey time. Lunchtime came and went and with it my appetite for my lunch and this expedition. Hurrah, eventually, we reached Thirsk, drove around the market square and the town and headed off back to our coastal domain, this time taking the direct route that got us home in an hour. I could have been brave and trudged around Thirsk in the rain, but just getting over flu, viruses and the like, didn't fancy putting myself up there for another dose of something. so I chickened out and watched the raindrops for in-car entertainment.
Well, that was a fun day out wasn't it? And it wasn't over yet. To make up for the lack of lunch, we decided on an Indian takeaway treat. Dinner plates and red wine were set to warm and the table laid with lick-smacking anticipation. The order was placed and spouse departed to fetch our supper. We even had little starters - small bundles of joy in the form of onion bahjees, followed in my case by a Chicken Jalfreize and Rice. Spouse had the house special, which was something unpronounceable but tasted delicious. My Jafreize however, was completely inedible - tasting very badly of burnt garlic and burnt chicken.
This was not turning out to be the best day ever. And to put the icing on the cake, I paid a visit to our downstairs cloakroom late evening, only to find the greenest of green and fattest of fat slugs happily curled up on the edge of the handbasin. Normally, slugs are the most revolting of creatures and why the Good Lord in his wisdom created them is quite beyond me. Now, you may say it was the read wine lending a certain glow to the proceedings, but I thought he was just the cutest little slug I had ever seen. He seemed to be smiling to himself in contentment at the billet he had found for himself.
Spouse promptly put the little chap outside where he belonged, leaving me to ask the question once more - dear Lord above, what did I do so wrong lately and worse still, what is waiting around the corner to happen next????? One day at a time, maybe it can only get better ....... can't it?
I have had a flu virus for the third time around this winter. I am usually as fit as a butcher's dog, but I think in moving back to North Yorkshire I must be encountering the English bugs and they seem to be a lot fiestier than the Scots ones. However, having given my immune system a good talking to, it has belatedly sprung into action and I am on the mend, I am still a little feeble in body but there is nothing wrong with the grey matter now, though this was not always the case when I was in grip of the dreaded lurghi.
I have no desire to fall into the grips of illness again any time soon, but I seem to remember that some of the side effects were interesting. I am putting it down to the effects of medication. So, one afternoon, as i lay upon my sickbed, I heard a clatter going on downstairs in the kitchen. 'Now that's an interesting noise,' thought I, half-wakeful, half-not. The clatter continued for a few minutes and then I identified the noise - it was horses hooves. I surmised that spouse had bought a horse into the kitchen. 'Mmm, interesting,' I thought. 'Why has he bought a horse into the kitchen?' A reasonable question. I think I drifted off to sleep sometime after that, but with hindsight, what fascinates me the most is that I just accepted that spouse WOULD bring a horse into the kitchen. Well, he would wouldn't he, were he so minded? I discovered later that the noises I heard was the sound of the wheelie-bin being dragged to the front of the house, ready for the refuse collectors the following morning.
I can hear him expostulating at this, the moment he reads it, but believe me, dear reader, anything is possible. The tales I could tell ... but not here. I will say, what a good nurse he was and he looked after me very well, in my lucid moments and my less lucid, (hearing horses in the kitchen). I wonder if I was thinking of D H Lawrence's 'Women In Love'? Didn't he have a load of horses galloping along the beach, or something?
And then there was the news all about Donald Trump and his thirty eight million dollar tax bill. I heard it on BBC Radio 4's news programme. I remember marvelling that anyone had paid that much over just in tax and then I fell asleep and, dear reader, as you will know, I have a past track record with Donald Trump. Last time he tried to take a jereboam of champagne off me; I was blowed if he was going to wrestle thirty eight mill off me this time.
In my dreams, limpets on rocks have nothing on me. I got my sticky mitts on thirty eight million and I was off. I can see the dollar bills now, safely tucked into my Santa sack as I sped off down the road, legs pumping like a Roadrunner bird. Strangely, Donald was not chasing after me. Good to tell this was the land of dreams.
It was worth suffering the high temperature and all the unpleasant side-effects that go with it, (I will not bore you, you can imagine). I had a blast with that thirty eight million. I went around the world distributing largessse, faster than Jules Verne ever did. All my favourite charities and a lot more besides, got some of the dibs - Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, Guide Dogs for the Blind, The Salvation Army, The Red Cross, The Lifeboats and dear to my heart, Mary's Meals got funding for all the countries they work in across the world.
In my dreams, in my dreams. I know I was depriving the United States Inland Revenue Service of a serious amount of dosh that I'm sure a great many Americans would have benefitted from, but what a chance I had and if it came my way again, I would take it. So, thank you D J Trump for letting me explore my dreams like that. I was sorry to wake up and find it was only a dream, but one day ... one day ... a gal can have her dreams and who knows .....
Spouse is in the doghouse. He's been meddling again. You may recognise this malady or you may not. Maybe it is just one of my many idiosyncrasies, but I have my favourite pieces of kitchen equipment - certain knives, a treasured potato peeler and especially dear to my little heart, is my vegetable peeler. I know, I can hear you dear reader, 'get a life gal'. I have a life and my kitchen toys are a big part of it.
So what has my spouse done to put himself in Maison Chien this time? He has meddled, tinkered, could not leave-well-alone. In spite of being asked several times never, ever to attempt to clean up my vegetable peeler .... Well, need I say more? Proudly he holds it up for my inspection, as pleased as a dog with two tails, which he may well be shortly, albeit tinned. A gleaming vegetable peeler it may be, but does it still peel? No, it most certainly does not. The blade is bent.
Why, oh why, did he have to meddle? I repeat, why could he not leave well alone? He has man-sheds. Now, do I go and interfere with his favourite tools and bits of machinery? No, I do not. They are his and I keep a respectful distance.
History is written by the victors and here we come to the Old Testament. (Stay with me, we're getting there.) No doubt the Good Book was written by a bunch of men; why else is poor Eve the one to get the blame for meddling with the Tree of Knowledge? I bet it was Adam all along - he was the one that could not resist meddling even though he had been told not to.
My vegetable peeler has allegedly been bent back into shape and has been pronounced as good as new by spouse. Well, If it doesn't work next time I come to use it it may not be the only thing in our house that will require re-arranging ... and I'LL be writing that version of the family history .....
Why is it just as the grey light of dawn filters through my bedroom curtains, I find the most cosy and comfortable nook in my bed that I have had for the entire night? This is not just a one-off, it happens with monotonous regularity and I've no doubt it does to your good selves too, dear reader. Warm, comfortable and cosy, deep in the arms of Morpheus and then the bloomin' alarm goes off. Is there some Law in the workings of the universe that I know not of, whereby the closer one is to having to rise and shine, the deeper and more delightful becomes one's slumber? A little akin to getting too near the edge of a black hole and falling in.
After the alarm goes off the pull of sleep is almost overwhelming. I lie and loll, unable to motivate myself to move. This brings me to the point of this blog, (yes, I do get there eventually). I am not one of nature's lollers - a loller being a person who enjoys just lolling about the place. I have a dear friend whose whole raison d'etre is lolling. She would be a world champion, an Olympian, if lolling was eligible for entry into these competitions. She adores lolling and has to be forcibly ejected from her slumbers as the "busy old fool, unruly sun" moves into her sphere.
She is a dear friend. Opposites obviously attract in our case. Were we to be occupying hammocks sited on golden sands, deep azure blue sea lapping nearby and a cool breeze gently swaying the palm trees, she would be in heaven. I, however, would probably be in hell. Well, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration but I would not be a happy bunny - more than a little damp due to the excess heat, bored out of my skull with lolling and probably suffering from motion sickness.
And yet look at our ape relatives. They are up in the trees, gathering branches about them for a comfy bed for the night and they'll loll away happily and through the day too when they fancy. Lions loll in the heat of the day, leopards, too, up in the trees; you get my general drift. I suppose the best loll of all would be hibernation, but that's a step too far I think, even for my friend.
So how did my DNA get so over-modified and my lolling gene get left behind? Except for my early morning somnolence I am an 'up and at 'em' kind of gal. Spouse has come to dread the phrase 'I've been thinking...' as this usually heralds the announcement of a new project which will not involve any kind of lolling.
I do not know the answer to the the lolling question, but sometimes I cast an envious glance at my lolling friend and her cohorts - spread-eagled on sun-loungers, prostrate upon the sofa, or snoozing by a roaring fire. It looks inviting and they seem to have it off to a fine art.
Maybe I need to go back to basics and re-discover my roots. That's it! Roots. I'm off to the forest and maybe a little tree climbing is on the agenda. A whole new sport opens out for me - tree lolling. It could catch on. I'll see you at the Olympics.
It is the half-term holiday here in North Yorkshire which, by the by, is also known as God's own county. The weather is exceptionally good for the time of year and the visitors are flocking to our little seaside town.
Being late February it is not yet warm enough to go for a paddle or a swim, but our maritime heritage still stirs in our veins and we are not going to be deterred by a bit of chill wind and waves crashing over the sea wall at high tide, sending up plumes of icy spray to soak our promenaders. No, we are not deterred in the least. Come the ebb of the tide and exposure of the golden, sandy beach, the visitors swarm down on to it, like lemmings off a cliff.
We shall leave them there, booted, hatted and spurred to the eyebrows to enjoy the delights of a winter walk along the beach. and turn our attention to the folk that decide to sashay forth along the promenade. All shades of life are to be found here. There must be something in our ancient DNA that drives us to immediately head for the iron railings that top the sea wall. When I say us, I don't mean the adults among us. I refer to all toddlers and young children, who climb on to the railings as soon as they clap eyes on them. Is this why we adults go rock and mountain climbing? Personally, I'd settle for the nearest tree any day, at least you don't have to carry all that gear with you.
I won't go on about the dog walkers They are my personal bete noire, even though I am a dog lover, (see my blog 'Dog Walking By The Sea 2016). In addition to dog walkers, I have observed another fascinating phenomenon on the promenade. There are always a proportion of adults pushing EMPTY pushchairs, or is it strollers these days? No matter, I am still in the pushchair era.
I have seen men driving pushchairs with a football in it instead of a baby, (I can understand that), pushchairs with a small dog in, (we...ll, maybe), but a pushchair with nothing in and no toddler in sight......?
Now this is not an isolated phenomenon. Last summer I saw it many times. Pushchair ... no baby. What is going on? What did they do with it? Did it go out with the bathwater? Did they leave it in the Baby Changing Room as they didn't like the look of the others on offer? Or worst of all, at the café sign that says 'Kids Eat Free Here', but spouse reads it as 'Eat Kids Free Here and hence the empty pushchair?
Something is going on and now I think I've found the answer. The other day at the supermarket check-out there was a couple behind us with a toddler in their trolley. Ah-ha. Of course. I've seen the notices at the entrance to the supermarket cafés 'kids free' and 'kids half-price'. Maybe that's where all the littleuns go. Wow, I bet that couple behind me at the check-out, got a lot of points on their card. I wonder what the going rate is?.....
Spouse is sporting a black eye, not because we are in imminent danger of darkening the portals of the divorce courts, neither have we taken up judo, tae kwando, kick boxing, or any kind of sport where a shiner might be in the offing. No, it was the fault of Donald Trump.
There I was in a lovely deep sleep and who should step uninvited into my slumber? You've guess it, old D.J.T. Now, I don't know if he owns a yacht, but in my dream he most certainly did. One the size of the Royal Yacht Brittania, only flashier and decked out in fairy lights; a bit tacky to tell you the truth.
How do I know this? I was there on board. No, I have no idea why, possibly something to do with some kind of commercial sale to some invited clients. Now I think about it some more, in my dream I was his daughter!!! Yes, really, how about that?!!!
So, I had successfully made this sale - perhaps I was selling them the ship - and they presented me with a jeroboam of champers. A jeroboam - that would really kick off a party. But, Daddy dear, aka Donny Babes, took it away from me and squirrelled it away into his own stores.
This was so unfair. My just reward for all my exertions on his behalf, nicked. I am a great believer for justice for all and I wasn't having any of it. I chased after D.J.T. and tried to wrestle the jeroboam from him. He wasn't having any either and wrestled back. Never mind the Queensberry rules, I dotted him one; my fist got him on the nose, slid off and smacked him good and proper in the eye.
He dropped the bottle of champers, I neatly caught it and was shouting 'yeah' and dancing around the deck. Only I wasn't. I had spouse trussed up in the sheet and sporting one helluva shiner. Needless to say, Donald Trump is not the hot topic of conversation in Chez Comb this week. Ice-cubes and raw steaks are more the order of the day.
In fairness, it is not only my spouse who suffers when my dreams get the better of me. some years ago we decided to adopt a Border Collie from our local branch of the RSPCA. We had to be checked out, so before the Inspector's visit I could be found frantically tidying up, desperate to show that we were people who were fit to be left in charge of an animal.
Now, I know what I'm going to say next is a bit of a digression, but stay with me, it just goes to show that I am not the only one who likes to make a good impression, this time it was my friend Clare and it was the Cat's Protection League. I had been helping her to re-decorate and we had just finished. So, naturally, out came the G & T's, ice and lemon. Then, blow-me-down, didn't the Cat's Protection League woman come sashaying up the garden path, clipboard in hand. My G & T was promptly whipped out of my hand and hidden in the cupboard. Obviously cats cannot be re-homed where there is Mother's Ruin.
To re-join my tale. We passed our inspection and were told we could collect the dog on 19th January - as a dog is for life and definitely not given at Christmastime. We were both really looking forward to welcoming George (the dog), to our home.
So the night before his arrival, why did I not dream about dogs? I don't know. I dreamt about pigs. I dreamt we had a huge sow and a litter of piglets at the top of our garden. So as soon as I woke up I put my slippers on and ran to the stairhead. Priscilla, (the pig) and her offspring needed to be let out for the morning. Yes, I ran to the stairs and in my excitement started running down the stairs and I tripped myself up.
I must have somersaulted mid-bounce, as my ribcage connected with every wooden stair on the way down - and it was a long way. It's a bit like falling off a horse and all the air is knocked out of your lungs. I lay at the bottom of the stairs gasping for air like a newly-landed fish.
Needless to say I had broken my ribs and when people asked me how I had done it I could not bring myself to say 'I went to let the pigs out that we did not have.' No, dear reader, naughtily I put on my best martyr look and indicated that my lips were sealed and we know what people would make of that, don't we? Poor spouse......
There is an elephant in my room, not the big, grey variety with big ears and a trunk, but the white A4 printed sheet type of elephant, lying on my desk, staring back at me, challenging me to confront it, deal with it and ultimately conquer it. And what am I doing? Wimp that I am, I am tip-toeing around it trying not to look at it and most of the time avoiding it altogether. I am going to have to deal with it one of these fine days. I cannot have an elephant occupying my desk for the rest of my life; physically and mentally I need to clear it out of my head.
My particular elephant is a plot-line. I am writing my third novel, the last of a romcom trilogy and my naughty, but handsome protagonist is finally going to get his much deserved come-uppance. Well he has to - justice has to be done and wicked old Tom is not going to win hands down.
I had a lovely plot for him. It sailed effortlessly into my head and when ideas do that I know they are the ones to run with. so, I did some research and plotted it out nicely to the end. Well, not quite to the end. I always like to leave the outcomes loose in my head, because if I know the endings I won't want to write them, because I know them. It's my donkey and carrot motivation.
So, I had this lovely plot which was definitely going to stay up in the air and so I moved on to very happily juggle with the other character's plot-lines and was generally having a whale of a time. And there's the rub, the past tense, dear reader. I was having a good time.
Complete numpty that I am and here I call for sackcloth and ashes, a hair shirt and I'll mea culpa until the cows come home. I made the huge mistake of not researching extensively enough and when I met an expert in that particular field, (friend of a friend), she drove a coach and horses through my lovely plot.
Oh woe is me and a helluva sight more than thrice woe. So here is my elephant, taking its ease on my desk, smirking up at me, my elephant-chicken come home to roost. What to do next? Reconstruct the plot in the light of new knowledge and see if it will work? Or, use that good old fall back position, writerly imagination and construct a whole new plot-line?
At the time of going to press the elephant is sleeping peacefully in my room. The 'Do No Disturb' sign is still on the door. I'm not sure whether I have the courage to go in and disturb it ... not today anyway. Loins need girding up, courage needs screwing to the sticking place. I know one thing, I can't have an elephant in the room forever, think of the food bill.
I had a birthday last week and am happy to say lots of friends and relations sent me cards. One lovely friend, who is very feminine in a Za Za Gabor way, sent me a card; very pink and VERY SPAARKLY. Now, this being post-Christmas, I have had my fill of sparkly. Indeed, there was a glut of it in our neck of the woods. Added to this, I had just undertaken a major de-sparkle of the whole house and was sitting back smugly, enjoying a hardly-remembered clean -looking domestic landscape. So, much as I love my friend I was not keen to re-introduce pink glitter into my surroundings.
Unfortunately, I mentioned to spouse that maybe I would give the card a little shake outside before setting it on our mantle, hoping to keep the sparkle on the outside and not on the inside. I forgot all about it and went off to my Saturday morning writers group in good heart. Bad idea. I think spouse must have made a new year's resolution he has not yet shared with me. I mention the germ of an idea and he is on it, taking action. My psyche cannot cope with much more of this. I am used to an uncoiled spring; one who ruminates on a suggestion for a while, (see previous blog re. decorating and you will get my drift).
Do not tell me, 'woman, you cannot be pleased.' Indeed, I am easily pleased. The smalles things give me huge pleasure. I am just not used to this instant sorting out of things. To whit - one birthday card taken outside by spouse and soundly smacked against the house wall. Not just once, dear reader. No, that would be far too discreet. As told to me, he took it out to the FRONT of the house and bashed it several times against the wall. The prisoner admitted, when questioned, that yes, people were passing by and the neighbours were getting a good eyeful.
Why didn't he go to the back of the house? There's a socking great hedge there that gives us privacy from the rest of the populace. Why do a Basil Fawlty at the front? I only hope he didn't leap up and down in rage, a-la Basil, whilst he was bashing seven bells out of it.
This incident took place a few days ago and he has only just 'fessed up to it and only because I happened to remark upon how distant the neighbours appear to have been to us recently. I don't think I want to go knocking on doors to explain about removing pink sparkle from our lives - they may think I'm as barking as he is. Any aspirations I may have held as being 'normal' in Yorkshire' have gone to the wall (literally). I may as well get used to the idea.
Last week was exceptional for two reasons: I hadn't been well and then wrote a blog in a paeon of praise to spouse. Well, that state of affairs inevitably wouldn't last and it did not.
In case you think I am just putting my own slant on affairs I would ask you to consider some past history.
When we moved to the Durham Dales our nearest church was thirty miles away. It was a lovely little country church with a small congregation comprised mainly of local people. We were the 'incomers', the newbies and kept a low profile for a while, (you will shortly see why).
On one of our earliest visits to the church, there we were, before the start of the service, sitting quietly and so I thought, very prayerfully, side by side The church was quiet, lit by soft lighting and many candles prompting one to turn ones thoughts heavenwards.
Maybe that was what the rest of the congregation were doing. I certainly was in meditative mood and thought my spouse was too. Suddenly he leaned across to whisper in my ear. I leaned into him eagerly, sure he was about to share a great spiritual insight.
'You see those nuns in front of us?'
I looked and nodded.
'Well, that older one and the one sitting with her; they're keeping an eye on the two younger ones in front of them and if they make a run for it, the older one will shoot them, 'cos she's got a machine gun under that big coat she's wearing.'
So, dear reader, as you can see, that was not quite the spiritual insight I was expecting to hear. Only spouse could construct serial killers out of the loveliest nuns you could wish to meet.
So from the above episode, you will see that when spouse gets into the church, something odd gets into his soul. Here is another for instance - once more in the same church, we were sitting side by side in prayerful mood, or so I thought and spouse once again leaned across to share an 'insight' with me. He had been staring fixedly at the wall to one side of the altar.
'I can see E.T.' quoth he.
Now, I know for a fact, he had not been imbibing of the hop or the grain and to my knowledge there were no magic mushrooms in our fields that he might have partaken of in a moment of hunger or abandon. So what was with the vision of E.T.?
'No, seriously,' he urged, 'look at the wall closely.
He directed my gaze to an extremely damp area of plaster work to one side of the altar. I looked hard. Mm. Was E.T. there? Mm, maybe.
'Now,' he said 'look again. There's a Legionnaire on horseback, galloping away from us, with a monkey at his heels.'
I shuffled along the pew, not to get a better view, only I was a bit worried about spouse. Was it a touch of sun? Why couldn't he concentrate on his prayers like everyone else?
Every week thereafter, he unfolded a new piece of the story to me. You can have no idea of the adventures that E.T. and the Legionnaire got up to and as for the monkey, let's not even go there.
These are just two examples of spouse inside a church. I realise we have been talking historically, so I would like to bring you bang up to date.
We now live in North Yorkshire near to the sea and attend a new church, (not because we got run out of the other one). This week, at the end of the service I passed the comment to spouse that we had sung my all-time favourite hymn today, one call 'Be Still For The Presence Of The Lord', which was played at our wedding. Bear this in mind dear reader.
I reminded spouse of this fact and half expected him to go a little misty eyed at the memory. But no, the leopard does not change his spots, the lion does not lie down with the lamb if we are being biblical and religious. I remarked that I would like this hymn at my funeral. Spouse, true to form, had his own take on this.
'Well you will be still at your funeral, you'll be dead, can't be much stiller. You'll be in your coffin. You'll be still then, and quiet.' Did I detect a note of relish in his voice?
He did make it out of the church alive, only because I don't approve of murder in church. But the moral of this little tale is, DON'T TAKE HIM TO CHURCH, he may not make it out alive next time.
I have been mightily indisposed this week. A touch of man-flu, only it's woman-flu.
I am usually your regular woman, fairly fit and able to go about my daily business just fine, which usually includes a three mile walk with spouse along the prom and the beach.
But when the common cold comes calling, I admit it, I am just a teensy-weensy bit of a wuss. I hate not being on top doh health-wise and being stopped from daily walking. What is it about an ordinary cold that knocks you off your feet? I've had chest infections and fevers that have not felt as bad.
But, I am digressing oh, so much. what I really set out to do in this blog is to praise my spouse. Yep, you heard that one right. a bit of praise where praise is due.
I have been ministered to like I have a resident domestic angel. Hot drinks, cold drinks, food; kept warm at an ambient temperature at all times, (without him weeping over the heating bills) and offered love and sympathy in the midst of my unlovely Rudolph nose and streaming eyes.
Truly a real Superhero, selflessly caring for his damsel in distress. I'll never say a bad word about him again, (and even I don't believe that) but a gal can try.
So, Mr Superhero, thank you for all your loving care and if you catch the cold from me, I'll be there - with a hot toddy to end all hot toddies, (pass the chilli flakes) and believe me, your cold will disappear overnight.
Hey, maybe I should lodge the patent for that> Haven't scientists been looking for a cure for the common cold for years? They should ask me for the recipe.
In previous blogs i have mentioned my dislike of going clothes shopping. However, having been given a wodge of cash for this purpose from a doting relative, I set off for the big city to hit the January sales.
My only mistake was not to set off on my own. Spouse decided to accompany me. We would make a jolly day of it, have a spot of lunch with a glass of vino thrown in and maybe, have a little cultural excursion whilst we were there. It sounded like a plan and I agreed.
What was the matter with me? Had some kind of shopping amnesia come over me? It is never, ever a good idea to go shopping with him. Even he doesn't like going clothes shopping for himself, so why would he enjoy going with me? Why didn't we ask ourselves those very questions before we set out on this jaunt? Post-Christmas woolly thinking is the only reason I can come up with.
The journey passed harmoniously and we didn't even fight over the newspapers in our favourite coffee shop. It was all going so well ... until we hit the first department store. Take note dear reader, the very first store. This being early January all the sales were on and I was having a high old time cruising the rails of ladies clothing all marked 'sale'.
For the first time in a very long time I was actually finding clothes I wanted to buy. I'm not sure what that says about me, wanting to scoop up all the leftover raiment rejected by the rest of the female populace and I don't think I even want to go there, but that's all by the by. However, there I was mildly enjoying the experience and then ...
Yup. Old spouse-chops caused a ruckus. I had been so absorbed in gathering up said garments that I had not noticed the gathering of men at the periphery of the ladies clothing area. But a gathering there was and at the centre of it was none other than my spouse, enthusiastically holding forth and gesticulating wildly at a chair and the foregathered males were nodding in equally enthusiastic agreement. And headed towards them was a posse of security staff.
I stayed put. In fact, I cowered down behind a rail of clothes. Whatever he had been doing and if he was going to be given short shrift and thrown out for it, I didn't want to be thrown out too, not just yet. I hadn't finished cruising all the clothes and it was quite obviously my lucky day. If I was going to clad my back for the next twelve months in a passably stylish manner, then spouse must be thrown to the wolves.
Peeking out between the dresses I watched as Security, along with members of staff broke up the assembly of men and discreetly shepherded them towards the store exit. They went quietly enough, except of course, for spouse. Still gesticulating and arguing whatever point he was trying to make, he had to be thrown out and I found out afterwards, asked to kindly keep away for a while. Only I don't think these were quite the terms they employed.
Security staff loitered around the entrance for quite some time, watching spouse as he waited for me to come out. He had spotted me and with his nose flattened to white against the window was making faces at me and gesturing for me to come out there and join him. He pointed to the security staff and then himself and went through quite a pantomime in an effort to enlighten my ignorance of the situation.
What does a lady do? I ignored him and took my clothes to the pay desk. The Assistant had been watching spouse's antics with much amusement and asked me what it was all about.
'No idea', I said happily 'and I really don't care. I've shopped 'till I've dropped and he's that side of the door and I'm here. Perfect, just perfect. I've had no "how much?" when he sees the price of any item; no "can't we go now?" after the first five minutes and, best of all, I've loved every minute of it. He should get thrown out of shops regularly.'
When spouse and I were finally re-united on the outside of the store, it turned out that all he was doing - and I only have his word for this and I doubt it in its entirety - is that he, whilst I was in my delightful shopping bubble, he got tired of hanging about and found a chair to sit on. But he found it was a bit draughty there, as it was near the automatic doors and a they opened and closed every nano-second with the entrance of a new customer, he was getting very cold. So he stood up and went to look for a chair in a better site. Of course, he couldn't find one, so then he started talking to the other blokes who were also hanging about for their better halves and spouse led them back to the site of his draughty chair and the subsequent meeting of minds, (and I question that one too) ensued with the resultant chucking out of the store.
So my advice to all readers is this - don't take him shopping, but if you must or even if he is mad enough to volunteer to accompany you, tape his mouth up first.