When we moved into our home a few months ago, spouse put quite a lot of boxes up in the loft, pro tem, with a view to unpacking them after I had finished writing the book I was working on. That time has arrived and so spouse was despatched to shimmy up and down the loft ladders to retrieve the boxes.
So, what goes up safely should come down safely and without any fuss, you would think. That's a reasonable supposition is it not, dear reader? Ah, but this is my dearest spouse we are talking about and where does reason come into that equation? Absolutely nowhere, that's where. And before you brim over with righteous indignation on his behalf, yes, I did offer to be at his side to help with the operation, but was airily waved away with 'I can manage perfectly well, thank you, I don't need your assistance.' So I trotted off about my own business. As my book was finished a little R and R was on the horizon for me - lunch at a very nice restaurant with a friend.
With hindsight, maybe there was the occasional squeak from the direction of the loft, but everything sounds different when you're under the shower. I put it down to the plumbing. Getting dried and dressed in the bedroom, I heard a few 'oomphs' and 'ouches' and shockingly dear reader, a few more colourful words which I will not sully your ears with here. Perhaps things weren't quite going as swimmingly as anticipated. However, as my offer of help had been declined I continued preparing for my outing.
Emerging from our boudoir, prinked, powered, pressed and dressed in my best, I sashayed along the corridor only to come upon a misshapen loft ladder with spouse marooned above it, apparently nursing an injured foot. 'It all went well then,' I remarked. 'No, it did not, as you can well see,' he replied through tightly gritted teeth. 'I had to alter the angle of the ladder in order to get my head into the hatch space and get the boxes out, so when I came to climb back down, the first ladder collapsed on to the second ladder and unfortunately, my foot was in between them.' He moaned gently as he gingerly tried to wiggle his toes. 'I think I might have broken my toes. I think you'll have to strap them up.' Dear reader, I did have sympathy for him but I don't think I helped matters when I said, 'No, they'll get better on their own in time. Toes don't get strapped these days.' Gritted teeth turned into the gnashing of teeth.
I sidled past the ladders and tripped lightly down the stairs. 'I have to go. I'm running a bit late as it is, Freya will be waiting for me. Have a rest and I'll see you later.' I called out. 'But what about getting me down from here?' 'Try the ladders,' I called back, 'that's what they're for. One step at a time, you can do it. You did say you didn't need my assistance.'
Was that a roar of an enraged man I heard as I headed off to the car? Or just a man with a sore set of toes? ... I'm not sure, but I'll tell you one thing dear reader, I had a wonderful lunch with my friend. You should have been there - the cheese souffle was amazing and the chocolate pudding, along with a lovely chilled white - all just divine. But I didn't tell spouse about it when I got home, don't think he was quite in the mood for that. His ham salad in ciabatta might have seemed a tad mundane.
His foot is getting better - just don't mention a visit to the loft any time soon ....
As you know dear reader, I have recently ended my summer work in the garden and am trying to settle down to some autumn writing activities indoors and in particular, the planning of a new romantic comedy book. I have yet to meet a writer who does not indulge in as many displacement activities as possible in order to avoid facing the blank screen and if such a writer exists - well, I would like to meet him/her.
Taking a break from the creative process is all very well and good, but oh, getting back into the swing of things is very difficult. All the good habits have been broken as I have enjoyed the long dog-days of summer, spending most of my time outside trying to bring order into the chaos that Mother Nature had wrought in our neglected patch of England.
I remember from days of yore being at my desk at an early hour, beavering away like a good little beaver, whilst the day was young and I was fresh - so fresh, sometimes I never got beyond the PJ's until the flrst flush of writerly enthusiasm had waned. Trouble is, that's all a bit of a distant memory. I am all enthusiasm for my new book and once I get going on the planning I am fine - it is the getting going that is the problem.
I know this is not a problem confined to writers. An artist friend of mine compared notes with me the other day and we commiserated with each other on this phenomenon. We love our work, truly we do, so why do we employ such avoidance tactics? I do not know the answer to this one, but like opposing forces, spouse and I are playing cat and mouse at the moment in an effort to keep my seat attached to my chair in the hope that I will make some progress with the new book.
Spouse is of course the cat and a very wily, cunning old cat he is too. Who would have thought it? My gentle, funny spouse out-thinking my low-down cunning escape ideas and heading me off every time. He has kept my nose so firmly to the grindstone this week, that I am ready to scrub the kitchen floor with a toothbrush rather than face the screen again. I need to change my tactics and be a bit more subversive, to keep my head below his extremely acute radar.
A few good walks in the autumn sunshine with our guest-dog, Raffles are needed to refresh the little grey cells. No more public announcements of this activity for me - I'll tiptoe out of the back door, dog lead in hand and close it softly behind me. And then, returning refreshed, I will find my headphones and listen to my favourite music tracks. As long as I'm sitting in front of the screen he'll think I'm multi-tasking! Best of all is the 'I'm thinking about a new scene whilst preparing dinner' ruse. That one often works as food is a topic very dear to spouse's heart. I can't see him classing that one as a displacement activity - at least I hope not.
Harry Houdini was the greatest ever escape artist. I think a little study of his methods might be in order - but there again - I have a book to plan - but on the other hand, the sun is shining and the autumn colours are very beautiful just now and the dog needs a walk ... Out of the corner of my eye I can see spouse hovering in the doorway, checking that my derriere is still attached to the chair. Oh my, dear reader, it's not Harry Houdini I need, I think it's Scottie - beam me up out of here and oh, whilst you're at it, don't forget the dog ...
'I think my love affair with the supermarkets is finally over. Like most people who lead busy lives these days the supermarket was the place to go for 'an everything under one roof' brisk trot round, the goods purchased at a sensible price and home again before you could say - well - what ever you like to say, in my case probably 'Jack Robinson, although who ever he was I couldn't tell you. No doubt someone will soon though.
A visit to the supermarket is a very mixed blessing these days. There are a huge variety of goods stocked to bedazzle and bemuse me as I drift up and down the aisles trying to decipher my shopping list. What do 'two bats and 'one nun' mean? I have no idea and plough on, at least butter and milk are easy items. It is only later and exasperated spouse interprets for me and wants to know why I have not come home with the required 'batteries' and bottle of 'Blue Nun'. Sorry dear reader, I am digressing again. The point is, that part of the shopping is fairly O.K., but then, as a metaphor for life - there is a reckoning to be made - the dreaded check-out experience.
Sex is no guarantee of a good check-out experience. Be it a male or female lurking behind the check-out conveyor belt, they are equally ruthless in running your purchases past their scanner and hurling it down the runway to the collecting area, a sadistic gleam lurking at the back of their eye as the dispassionately watch you frantically trying to keep up and get the goods into your bags. The problem arises because it only takes a nanosecond for the check-out staff to scan your goods, but it's a nanosecond times ten to retrieve them and get them into a bag. The starting conversation went 'would you like some help with your packing?' 'No thank you,' I reply, 'providing you don't go too fast.' I think they like a challenge like that and the operation becomes more manic than usual. I leave the supermarket hot, flustered and angry, vowing never to return.
However, a week or two passes and my cupboards are bare. What to do? I devise a plan. I will do my usual shop and at the check-out when the ask, 'would you like some help with your packing?' I will say 'yes please' and stand back and let them get on with it. So, I whizz lightheartedly up and down the aisles, filling my trolley with the the usual goods and a few treats as my buoyant mood rockets. Finally, at the check-out - this time a bearded late-middle aged man asks me the question, 'would I like help with my packing?' I smile radiantly and say, 'yes please'. I hand him my assortment of carrier bags and stand back. My bags will be nicely packed and I will leave the supermarket unfrazzled. Well, my dear reader, of course you know that is not the case at all. My check-out man was rather surprised to find he was left to get on with it and maybe not too overjoyed at the prospect of all that packing. So instead of running my purchases through the magic eye and hurling them down the runway at me, he hurled them willy-nilly into my bags instead. Once again I leave the supermarket vowing never to return.
Time passes and we eat the cupboards bare again. It is time to shop. I have been musing on the situation and have decided to cirumnavigate the check-out problem by using the self check-outs. Genius. Why didn't I think of it before? I can pack at my own pace and everything will be placed to my liking. Once more I trip around the emporium, shopping with gay abandon. Spouse will eat like a king this week. At the self check-out terminal I offload my goods on to the belt and begin to pass them over the scanner and carefully place them in my opened shopping bags in the trolley. It's a slow process as I am not used to it, but at least I am not getting hot, frazzled and flustered by check-out staff. That is until a Supervisor comes along to 'assist' me. It appears I'm not going fast enough and she needs to get me though more quickly!!!!!!! The 'beeps' get faster and the shopping bags are rapidly filled - in no particular order as you can imagine.
So, Plan B failed. I leave the supermarket in my usual state of rage, shaking my fist and shouting 'they should all get their money back.' Where from? Charm School. Grrrrr.....
Welcome back dear reader to the 2017/18 blog season.
Well, we have had an interesting time here at Chez Comb. We moved into our new house in the springtime and have a large garden to go with it and have spent the summer making inroads on re-modelling it. This has involved the use of many power tools by my dear spouse, along with a pick axe, a murderous looking executioner's sized axe and many a lethally sharp spade and fork. Plenty of scope there you would have thought, (if you know anything about spouse by now), for medical intervention at the local surgery or A&E Department. Let me surprise you my dear reader, only one trip to the surgery was required. A rusty nail went through his leg and a tetanus booster was required. I know, looking back on our summer activities, I too am amazed.
So how it comes about that by simply answering the telephone this week, he got into more bother than he has all summer, is a mystery to me. It's not that difficult an exercise is it? The telephone rings, you pick up the handset, have a conversation and at its termination, replace the handset back into its re-charging unit. Easy. I can do and no doubt you, my dear reader, can do it without causing harm to yourself or any other living creature.
Picture the scene - I am downstairs in the kitchen preparing lunch when spouse stumbles in holding a bloodied hand over his eyes and sinks, moaning softly, into the rocking chair at my side. 'What on earth has happened?' I ask in alarm. 'Phil telephoned,' he answered still moaning. I am mystified but my curiosity will have to wait to be satisfied, as I have spied a deep cut on the top of his head, the source of the red stuff flowing freely over his hands and down on to a good shirt, his trousers and the chair cushion. 'Have you bled all down the stairs?' I ask. No, dear reader I am not totally heartless and heedless of his plight, but I can see the gash is not life threatening - after all, he has at least another seven and a half pints to go, but a trail of blood down our new stair carpet could just take priority right now. Spouse answered in the negative. 'I was very careful,' he moaned, hands still over his eyes.
Well that was a positive at least. After many, many years of marriage I have the first aid kit to hand and quickly unpacked swabs and steri-strips ready to go to work on him. 'Take your hands away, so that I can see the damage.' I requested. Spouse slowly lowered his hands from his eyes to reveal the beginnings of the best shiner of a black eye I have seen in a long time.
I sighed resignedly and asked in my most patient voice ever, 'and how did you come by that? I thought you were on the telephone and even you can't get a black eye from doing that.' Well, my dear reader, it appears that spouse could do that very thing. I know, I know, you couldn't write the script, could you? Only he just has.
Apparently, when the telephone rang, he was upstairs in our bedroom getting changed and picked up the handset at the side of the bed. So far so good. On discovering it was an extremely garrulous friend called Phil, spouse knew he would be in for the long haul and sat down on the bed to listen to the latest story. Only the story started going on and realising he was in for a right old shaggy dog of a tale, spouse pinned back his ears and lay back on the bed , stretching his free arm out and knocking the re-charging unit off the bedside cabinet, not only off, but down the back of it.
No worries - he would retrieve it when the call was ended. Half a lifetime later when Phil had finally come to the end of his saga, spouse sat up and looked about him for the re-charging unit. He spied it underneath the cabinet and set about rescuing it. Now this cabinet is a wooden affair on long legs with two deep drawers - heavy and solid (and no, I am not making any comparisons here.)
The re-charging unit had gone down the back of the cabinet so first of all spouse tried to haul it up by the wire running from the unit to the mains plug. So far, so very good only it got stuck just as it reached the top of the cabinet. Spouse gave it a sharp tug to encourage it right out and that's when he got the black eye as the unit, suddenly freed, sailed up and out and socked him in the eye. Spouse swiftly let it go, whereupon it dropped back from whence it came, whilst he staggered about cussing and nursing his eye.
But spouse is not one to leave a job undone. The phone needed its re-charging unit and have it it would, no matter what. Another method of retrieval must be tried. He crawled on hands and knees underneath the cabinet in an effort to reach the unit, but in effect, he was too tall for the cabinet and he all succeeded in doing was lifting it up on his back so that all the things on the top of the cabinet slid off - the lamp, books phone, water glass, spectacles, etc.
Another round of cussing and spouse rolled over on to his back and shimmied back under the cabinet. This time success and he managed to retrieve the re-charging unit, but unfortunately, on the outbound shimmy, he banged his head hard on the underside of the cabinet and managed to gash it on a rough piece of wood that was sticking out.
So there we are my friends, how not to answer the phone. Spouse is skulking at home now, sporting a fat head and a corker of a blue-black shiner. If he goes out everyone is going to ask 'what does the other chap look like?' And how would he tell them the phone did it to him? Now there's a funny thing - I seem to answering the phone a lot these days .....
Welcome back dear reader to the 2017/18 blog season.
Well, we have had an interesting time here at Chez Comb. We moved into our new home in the springtime and have a large garden to go with it and have spent the summer making inroads on re-modelling it. This has involved the use of many power tools by my dear spouse, along with a pick axe, a murderous executioner's sized axe and many a lethally sharp spade and fork. Plenty of scope there you would have thought, (if you know anything about spouse by now), for medical interventions at the local surgery or A&E Department. Let me surprise you, my dear reader, only one trip to the surgery was required. A rusty nail went through his leg and a tetanus booster was required. I know, looking back on our summer's activities I too am amazed.
To be continued tomorrow .......
Who would have thought volunteering at your local library could be so fraught with danger and sometimes downright embarrassment? So it has turned out to be for me at the library in our nearby seaside town on the North Yorkshire coast.
Since the financial crisis of 2008, local government has received ever-decreasing funding from central government with the result that savings have had to be made by cutting local services. In our particular case, gardening services provided by the Council have been withdrawn from the library - except for cutting the lawned area that separates the library from the adjacent supermarket car park. So, all the flower borders around the library were going to rack and ruin and as a keen gardener I could not bear to let this situation continue and nor could my friend, Pat. We decided to tackle the gardens ourselves before they became any more of an eyesore.
All well and good, except we had not reckoned with the great British public's ability (a) somehow to overlook you when parking their cars and and nudging you into the flower-beds, (b) the wit and wisdom of passers-by and (c) the total inability of elderly library users - of both sexes - to negotiate their way out of the narrow car park without running us down and (d) my being taken for someone on a day out from the local asylum.
In the words of the letters pages of the Daily Telegraph 'I could go on' but I won't, I think I have have enough material here to explain my indignation at the antics of the library and supermarket users.
I'll expand a little on all of the above and I think you could well come round to my point of view that the great British public are an odd bunch. Take Point (a) - I know I'm a bit on the small side, but at 5' 2" still very visible I would have thought and yet when working on the flower bed that runs alongside the supermarket car park, there have been many times when four-by-fours have swept into the parking spaces and applied the brakes at the last moment, by which time I have already dived into the border to escape being flattened. By the time I have recovered myself the driver, blissfully unaware of the gibbering wreck he/she has left behind, has swung gaily off into the supermarket.
Point (b) - Yorkshire folk are renowned for many things, but I have to admit their wit is not the first quality that springs to mind. I wish I had a pound sterling for every man and woman that announces as they pass Pat and I by, 'you can come and do my garden when you've finished' and they chortle on their merry way. Original or what? I would be a millionaire by now. What I really want to do is silently hand them a garden fork and tell them to get stuck in. But I just glower after them. And here's the best one - obviously we spend a lot of time bending down as we haul out the weeds 'Eee, lass,' come the remarks, 'tha must have the best known backside in Yorkshire. I wouldn't recognise your face, but I'd know that backside.' Convulsed with their own wit, they stagger away into the supermarket.
Point (c) - It is a mystery to me that only the very elderly, frail, obviously poor-sighted - they have to be from the way they drive - and half-witted library users avail themselves of the library car park. The young, fit and able bounce into the supermarket car park, dump their cars and walk round to the library. Sadly for me, the library car park is not very big and therefore requires quite a lot of manoeuvreing in order to get the car out of the car park space and turned around to face the driveway out. I repeat - it is always elderly and possibly poor-sighted ladies and gentlemen undertaking this exercise. On four occasions, at least, drivers have reversed out of their space, swung the wheel around and continued reversing - right at me! Sometimes I am absorbed by the task in hand and not watching what is going on behind me, (how can I?) and then I suddenly become aware of the heady smell of exhaust fumes far too close for comfort and a revving engine. (Why do they do that when they're reversing?) Twice now I have retreated into the border and still the car keeps coming at me. I jump up and down, waving my arms about and shrieking like a banshee but soon I will have no place left to go, except be squashed against the wall. I think someone has put a contract out on me and they are trying to kill me. No-one will convince me otherwise. After all, who would believe a sweet little old lady or gent would deliberately squash someone in a library car park?
Point (d) - And the most embarrassing of all. My friend, Pat, is smaller than me. We were minding our own business, pruning some very tall grasses that had got way out of hand. Pat was well inside the border and I now realise, dwarfed by the grasses and hidden from view. I was on the edge of the border, (yes, in view of the above, I must have a death-wish), hacking away at the grasses whilst talking to Pat, gesticulating with my secateurs to re-inforce the point I was banging on about - planting blackcurrant bushes, I think. Anyway, this lady approached me - carefully, it has to be said - in readiness to lead me quietly away to a place of safety until the social services could be summoned for me. Only as she took my arm and I turned in surprise, did she spot Pat lurking in the back of the border and then realised her mistake. She thought I was standing there talking away to myself and throwing my arms about at nothing - thought I might need taking back to which ever hospital I was out on licence from! I know I had an odd lookig sun hat on at the time, but really...
So if I'm not run over, flattened or squashed by the elderly patrons of the library or carted off to the hospital by a well-meaning member of the public, I hope to see you here in a few weeks time. I'm taking a summer break and will be back in late September. I hope you are all having a good summer and we will meet again, refreshed and renewed for the autumn. My good wishes to everyone, happy holidays.
So, as I mentioned in my last blog, in a very weak moment I agreed to go with spouse to a food festival which was being held at a nearby castle. We went to church on the Sunday morning, had a quick coffee and a biscuit (biscuits plural for spouse - he has to keep his strength up) and then we set off for our castle event.
A we neared our destination, I could feel the excitement emanating from spouse. His face was wreathed in smiles as he imagined all the culinary delights to come. I was imagining too - only my thoughts ran on very different lines from his. This became obvious when he smiled seraphically at me and said 'I wonder if they'll have fried bread there?' He smacked his lips in anticipation, almost, but not quite drooling at the thought. Fried bread! We were attending a festival showcasing the finest cuisine the U.K. could offer and spouse is hoping for fried bread. I give up. Pearls before swine
Food festivals are wonderful events. You get to try so many delicious and varied foods, your taste buds have to work overtime. Needless to say, spouse dived in with enthusiasm. Breads dipped in flavoured oils and vinegars went down the hatch and met with his approval, jams and chutneys were sampled and purchases made, beer, wine and best of all his beloved Yorkshire pork pie. SMALL samples of foods are put out for prospective customers to try - only when the stallholder was looking the other way, spouse helped himself to several samples, blissfully munching away - at some distance from the stall by the time the owner looked his way again - surveying his empty sample plates with dismay.
Spouse has no frontiers where food is concerned. Spanish chorizo sausage was followed by Indian, Vietnamese and Italian food. Everything met with the same sincere appreciation. Amazing cheeses, wines, cordials, teas and cakes received equal attention. I should say that by now we were on our second trawl around the festival and I was about ready to drop. If I didn't see another cheese, dessert, savoury or sweet tart it possibly would not be too soon.
Spouse showed no sign of tiring but I was hopeful that we would soon retire to the castle tearooms and thence wend our way homewards. Which we did, only I wasn't spared any embarrassment as I had hoped to be. We came across an irresistible collection of chutneys. You were supposed to just sample from a wooden spatula. Spouse does not like them. He had his own way of tasting - take a chunk of cheese and dunk it in the chutney and haul it all out with the spatula. Result! Spouse got a good helping and loved it, but the stallholder was hopping mad and promptly sent him away, (that's putting it politely) - and all before we could make a purchase.
By that time I had had enough and walked a good ten paces ahead of him - disassocation I think it is called - and left spouse to carry the many and varied food bags we had accumulated along the way. Next time he mentions visiting a food event in whatever guise it comes in, I hope I will be sane enough to decline the offer. Or if we were foolish enough to go to another, tape his mouth up on arrival. Now, what an interesting day that would be ...
In a very weak moment I agreed to go to a food festival at a nearby castle this weekend. Going to a FOOD festival with spouse! I think my mental health needs a re-boot. But the tickets are purchased and we are going. I will report back next week - if I and he survive the event and hopefully, don't get forcibly ejected at any point.
If the night before last was anything to go by, we may well be ejected. Picture the scene, a happy family dinner - the beef casserole had been scoffed and all of us, except spouse, sat back, replete. Spouse asked if there was any left and without thinking I said there was. First mistake. Second mistake - I allowed him to help himself out of sight in the kitchen. He returned to the dining table with a plate mounded up with mashed potato and casserole. Think Desperate Dan meets a Grimms Fairy Tale Giant. He happily chomped his way through that AND pudding. If cheese and biccies had been on offer I suspect he may well have made good inroads on those as well. But, they were not.
If I survive tomorrow, I will see you here next week. Now, I'm off to find a good disguise - just in case my path should cross any of my acquaintance. A wig and dark glasses should suffice. I only hope he hasn't thought of the Mickey Mouse ears for tomorrow. Spouse likes to bring a bit of fun to these occasions.
Bye for now, I have to search of the Mickey Mouse ear - and hide them....
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 .....