Thursday, 27 September 2012

The dangers of medication

You know those terrifying lists of side effects you get with any packet of pills? The ones that begin with skin rashes, and proceed via headaches, nausea, convulsions etc. towards the eventual demise of the patient?

Well, yesterday I purchased some lozenges for a sore throat.Enclosed, was a piece of paper, closely written on both sides, with all the necessary (?) instructions. Admittedly, the list of side-effects wasn't as comprehensive as some, but still, it was there. Plus an injunction to contact your doctor or pharmacist "if anything unusual happens".

I like this. I like the idea of phoning the doctor or pharmacist, and informing him/her that there is a strange man rifling through my dustbin, or what could be a UFO floating above the house. It sounds like fun. There is also the instruction not to take two of these lozenges at once, if I should forget to take one(??), and a handy descripton of the lozenges : "a red circular lozenge". Yes. I can see that. Red, certainly. Circular, indeed. Not sure why I need this, unless I  keep the instructions but lose the lozenges, in which case I can scour the house for red, circular objects. Could be handy, I suppose.

I know pharmaceutical companies have to cover their backs, but do they have to use quite so much paperwork with which to do it?

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

My new bestseller

Actually, my first bestseller, but no matter. This one can't fail.

First of all, my name. I have settled on Randy Trollope (I know there are already two, but you can't have too many Trollopes).

Book title: Fifty Glades for Fay.

This is the (very) erotic tale of a very randy (ha) wood-nymph, who has an affair with an equally randy centaur. They start of with a little foreplay; beatings and ticklings with twigs; that kind of thing. But they rapidly move towards the heavy stuff, so as not to bore the reader.

One of the "glades" is full of instruments of delighful S&M torture, and they make full use of these. They then move on through a succession of ever more exciting/sexy Glades, until they reach The Last Glade; a huge bed of moss and lichen (romantic, eh?). Here, they really get going, He adorns her**** with leaves and flowers, and she does the same to his *******. Then they rub ******s and insert twigs (these two are into twigs) into each other's *******s, and daub their *****s with mud and fircones. She screams. He groans. Ecstasy for both protagonists.

 But hold on. Do we hear the sound of hoofbeats?

Enter the anti-hero; a naked wizard (you have to have a wizard in the best of bestsellers), on horseback (the horse is my one indulgence),  with the biggest ***** Fay has ever seen, and his wand pointed directly towards her *****.  She gasps, and  suddenly, disaster! Because the wizard ....

But you'll have to read the book to find out what happens next..

What do you think?

Monday, 24 September 2012

Death row....again

Tomorrow, Cleve Foster, convicted of a murder of which he still maintains his innocence, is set to  face Texas's " death chamber" for the fourth time. On the three previous occasions, he's been given a last-minute stay of execution. Three times before , he has been taken on the hour long journey from
death row, and twice he even had time to be served his "last meal", before the  news came through that the execution was to be halted.

The US likes to believe that it does not carry out "cruel and unusual punishments". I rest my case.

PS Correpondents are still desperately needed for death row inmates (in Texas, the inmates are kept in solitary confinement ALL THE TIME). Please think about it.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Magpie 136

A tabloid newspaper holds an editorial meeting to select an image for its front page

That could be Prince Harry in a wig
On the right. But the bottom's too big.
We can't use the duck,
And the plane is too - plain.
The whirlpool is rubbish.
It's, frankly, insane.
I've run out of ideas now. To be honest, it's
A terrible shame we've no shots of Kate's t**s.

(with thanks to Tess at Magpie Tales for the picture)

Saturday, 22 September 2012

"Only 94 days to go....

....until Christmas!" cried my ecstatic granddaughter on the phone last night. "I'm sooooo excited!" And she went on to tell me all her plans, and how she was going to raise money to buy presents, and how there was only Halloween to go and then ...and then...and then...

And I started wondering when it was exactly that I stopped being soooooo excited about Christmas, and began to dread all that hype, and the ghastly catalogues, and the appalling tunes with which we are bombarded in shops,  and the desperate, miserable faces of shopppers as they scurry around buying those "gifts" which are of no use at all, but are the last resort of the desperate (odd-flavoured vinegars, with plants floating in them; useless little boxes of tiny soaps, which are of no use unless you are a very clean dwarf;  scented candles designed to make the house smell like a brothel; tiny diaries, when you've had your new one for weeks etc etc;).

For years, I "did" Christmas for the whole family, plus extras, and had nightmares about it for weeks beforehand. I remember one night, weeping because I hadn't made the mince pies, with my poor husband saying "but nobody likes mince pies!" It was fun, usually, when the kids were small (opening stockings at 4am springs to mind),  but now, things seem different, and the Christmases seem to hurtle round with increasing speed, and this year, we haven't even had a summer in between.

So, darling Phoebe, I'm sooooo glad you're excited about Christmas, and of course, I lied, and said I was, too. But actually, I'm not. Not at all. Although with you there, I know it will be fun.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Grey Men at the Top

At the head of British politics
Are David, Nick and Ed.
Oh, for some personalities,
With integrity, and qualities
Of statesmanship and leadership

(This just to test new blogger's paragraph spacing...)

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

New blogger (again)

Well, it seems to have arrived again. My PC and I, for once in complete agreement, hate it. IPad, who is newer and more open-minded, seems to be awaiting the return of its jury. But we all have a problem. Spacing. This should be a new paragraph, but probably isn't, because New Blogger (at least, my version) appears to be trying to save space. So: 1. Does anyone else have this problem? 2. How do you deal with it? Apologies if this all comes out in one crowded para, but thats what keeps happening. I hate change. Sigh.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Amazon reviews - how much can you trust them?

A few weeks ago, I posted a review of a book for the Amazon Vine programme. It was critical, because I didn't like the book, and thought the writing was poor. But I was polite, and did say I hoped that others might enjoy it. 36 out of 45 people voted my review as "helpful".

Yesterday, someone posted a rather unpleasant riposte, saying that they had enjoyed the book, my review was unfair, and that "reviews were there to help authors". The comment was blunt to the point of rudeness, and inaccurate (reviews are written to help readers, not writers). But I posted a polite reply, pointing out that as a Vine reviewer, I was bound to say what I thought, but that I was glad that particular reader had enjoyed the book, and mine was only one person's opinion.

Today, my review has suddenly disappeared, having been on Amazon for some weeks. This poses two questions:

1. How much say do authors (or their supporters) have in the removal of adverse reviews of their books? And (provided the reviews are not offensive), should they have any say at all?

2. Are Amazon reviews worth as much as they are thought to be worth, given that they are open to abuse? At least one large, well-known publishing house has, to my certain knowledge, employed one of its editors to write good reviews of its books, under a pseudnoym.

I take time and trouble to write what I hope are fair reviews, based on my opinion of the books I read. I try to respect their authors, knowing only too well how hard it is to write a novel at all, but it would be almost impossible to feel positive about all the books I am sent.

Am I wasting my time?

My recipe for special pastry

I make pastry. I never buy the shortcrust kind, because it's so easy to make, right? So when making a special, large quiche for visitors at the week-end, I got out all my ingredients, and proceeded. Here is my recipe:

1. Put ingredients into food processor. Whizz.
2. Notice mixture's a bit crumbly, but that's good isn't it? Nice, short pastry. Congratulate self.
3. Rest pastry in fridge (I have never seen the point of this. Sometimes I do it, sometimes I don't, but I was Cooking to Impress).
4. Take pastry from fridge, and roll out. Still a bit crumbly, but never mind.
5. Fit pastry into flan dish.
6. Pastry disintegrates. Say some bad words and put it back in food processor with more water. Whizz.
7. Pastry disintegrates even more.
8. More bad words. Tip pastry into bin.
9. Survey scene of devastation.
10. Trip to Sainsburys, where I buy more ingredients, and, to be on the safe side, some ready-made shortcrust pastry (try not to let anyone see this, as I am ashamed).
11. Back home. Decision time. Make more pastry, or use the ready-made?
12. Decision made. Roll out the ready-made pastry, and use.
13. Wonderful results (to look at). Feel relieved, if rather ashamed.
14. Upshot: Flan looks great, but pastry awful (sorry, Sainsburys).
15. Resolve to do better next time.

PS there is no copyright for this recipe. Feel free to try it.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Magpie 135


They danced on the ceiling,
They danced on the floor.
When he asked for a breather,
She begged him for more.
She, as high as a kite,
Cried, "no time to relax!"
By the end of the night,
They were flat on their backs.
"Oh get up, you sluggard!"
In fury, she said.
But her words fell on deaf ears.
Her partner was dead.

(With thanks to Tess at Magpie Tales - and Salvador Dali - for the picture.)

Friday, 14 September 2012

Important scientific research (my own)

Much time and money seems to be spent by worthy scientists, isolated from reality in their laboratories, discovering things most of us already know. Well, here's one of my own, and it took no time at all, and I won't be charging for it. Are you ready? Ok. Here goes.

The reason most men wear their hair parted on the left is because most women are right-handed. And when these men were small, their right-handed mothers stood in front of them with the hairbrush in their right hands. Equipped thus, it was easier to brush the hair from left to right, leaving the parting on the left. Have you got that?

Simple, eh?

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Elderly? Moi?

Apparently 97% of over-65s object to being called elderly, and I can't blame them. It's a horrible expression (as is senior citizen and silver surfer...ugh!). But what's the alternative? It would seem that there's no pleasant word to describe those of us in this position. "Middle-aged" is pretty grim, too, but it does imply there's still fuel in the tank, but we "elderly" have long since reached the summit, and are now free-wheeling down the other side. At speed.

But my Grannie - pictured above with my cousin, and younger than I am now when the photo was taken - now, she was elderly. She was big and bosomy, wore elasticated knee length knickers, her hair always in a bun. She always wore a hat, and never, ever, trousers of any kind. Her hair was grey, and her teeth were not her own (although I never saw her without them). She did little in the way of chores, although I do recall her dead-heading the roses.

None of this was her fault. She was of her generation. But things have changed (thank heavens), and my generation are on the whole different. I wear jeans all the time, have no idea what colour my hair is supposed to be, and possess all my own teeth. I do things she would never have dreamed of doing, and only very occasionally wear a hat. I still can't believe I'm the age I am, and keep checking my birth date, hoping that I've got it wrong.(I haven't).

So. Can anyone think of a better word to describe people who are now classed as elderly? Or do we have to be categorised at all? Any ideas?

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The enduring joy of Poohsticks

On Saturday, I cheered myself up by joining my son and his family for a picnic. We spent a happy hour or so playing Poohsticks on this bridge. Passers-by, who had to climb over (some of) us were not amused, but we had a great time.

I lost.

Monday, 10 September 2012

In Memoriam

The day I first met you, you had travelled from Wales, and were standing shyly at the back of your box; big, leggy, dark, with huge brown eyes These were new surroundings, we were new people; you weren't sure what to make of any of us. But later on, we went for a gentle hack, and we started to get to know one another.

There are so many memories. The times you took off with me, and I wasn't sure whether we would stop; you never seemed to tire. The spooking at imaginary hazards, and some not so imaginary. That place where a gate leads up to the top of the hill, and you knew that if we went through it, it would take longer to get home. You would tiptoe past that gate, hoping I hadn't noticed, and if you got your way, you would then put on a triumphant burst of speed and tear home.

We spent many hours on the downs together, you looking for things to spook at, and me writing stories in my head and absorbing the stunning views. People would stop us to admire you, and of course they were right. You were so beautiful, and you always attracted attention. I believe that you enjoyed it.

We were out together, that last time, a week ago today. A beautiful sunny day, and we had cantered round the wheat fields, and were on our way home, when disaster struck. It was out of the blue, for both of us; competely unexpected, for you had been so well and so happy.

Titch, you were in such pain, and we couldn't do anything to help you. The vet came as soon as he could, but it seemed as though we had to wait for ever. You kept leaping to your feet, kicking and struggling, fighting the pain, before collapsing again until you were exhausted. There was nothing we could do to reassure you; no comfort we could offer. You were, literally, beyond help. That picture has haunted me all week; your beautiful dark body, under a tree, against the green of the grass.

And that's where you died. The vet came just in time to do that for you, and as I saw the light fade from your eyes for the last time, I sat beside you and wept. It all seemed such a terrible waste.

I miss you terribly. I miss the sound of your whicker when you heard me coming, and your soft nose and that enquiring look you gave when you wanted a titbit. I miss our hacks together and I miss just looking at you and being with you. I miss everything about you.

One day, I shall get another horse, but I know that there will never be another one like you. You are, quite simply, irreplaceable.

(Please forgive me if you find this sentimental, but I needed to write it)

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Magpie 134

Compared with Tracey's unmade bed,
And Damien's diamond-studded head,
I clearly see this must be art.
But that's (of course) the easy part...

My eye, in desperation, scans
The bulging muscles, clutching hands.
The dangling scarves, the table leg,
The solitary sky-blue egg.

And now, at last, I must admit:
I can't make head nor tail of it.

(With thanks to Tess at Magpie Tales. Picture: Breakfast, by Fernard Leger)

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Help! New Blogger is on the way...

Periodically over the past months, New Blogger had pounced and tried to make itself at home here. I'm ashamed to say I've had to get professional help each time to get it to go away.

But now, the threats are mounting. Apparently it's imminent, and there will be nothing we can do to avert it. How is anyone else dealing with this crisis, and has anyone managed to master it yet? I cannot for the life of me see what it has to offer in the way of improvement. Please prove me wrong!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Lovely book review

My new novel, Basic Theology for Fallen Women, has received this lovely review from one of the top Amazon reviewers. I need good news at the moment, so this is really nice.

Thank you, Lincs Reader.

Monday, 3 September 2012

RIP Titch

Why am I blogging sbout this? I honestly don't know. I guess my blog is a kind of outlet. Whatever.

My beloved, beautiful Titch collapsed suddenly this morning while we were out together. After a dreadfully distressing couple of hours, it was was decided that he should be put down, as his chances of survival were virtually nil. I don't know what I shall do without him. He was, quite literally the most beautify horse I have ever seen, and I was so lucky to have him. Life will never be quite the same again.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Magpie 133

"I like the colours," Enid said,
"The greys, the blues, those bits of red.
"But what's disturbing me the most's
Those figures. They resemble ghosts."

Mike disagreed, put in a bid,
And took it home for fifty quid.
He wanted his own way, and said,
"It should look great above our bed!"

This story's moral's plain to see:
It's wise that couples should agree.
For that decision changed Mike's life.
He gained a picture, but lost a wife.

(With thanks, as always, to Tess at Magpie Tales)

Saturday, 1 September 2012

A new Olympic sport

And that is (cue drumroll) opening modern packaging.

Not such a silly idea as it sounds. It often requires teeth, long nails (mine are short), several sizes of scissors, and a very great deal of patience. On the sporty side, it requires skill, dexterity, and lots and lots of practice.

The worst of all, in my experience, are electric toothbrushes. These come tightly encased in plastic which has the toughness of an elephant's hide combined with the recalcitrance of a driver wearing a hat (see previous post). It has been known for two of us, armed with an assortment of implements, to take the best part of twenty minutes even to touch the actual toothbrush, never mind extract it.

So. For the Olympic Package Opening, I suggest five electric toothbrushes, to be opened against the clock, without any tools, by competitors wearing fingerless leather mittens.

You read it first here.