Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Fashion mistakes that I vow...

....never to make again (I know that fashion and I don't normally go together, but I have to wear clothes, and I often make mistakes). Here goes:

I will never again buy a jump suit (yes. It was a long time ago, but we were very hard up at the time, and the shame has stayed with me. The jump suit has not).

I will never buy another pair of dungarees. I love dungarees. They are comfortable and cheery, and I think they look okay. But my daughter says she will never be seen again with me if I wear them, and I love my daughter more than I love dungarees.

I will never again buy a second garment in a different colour because I liked the first, and they were in the sale. I have learnt that if I go off the first, then that means that I have gone off both. Lose-lose.

If I don't like something I've bought after all, I won't hang on to it, unworn, for two years because I ought to keep it for a while in case (like those bits I keep in the fridge, which I'm not going to use, but can't throw away until they grow green fur). I shall take it to Oxfam NOW.

I shall never again go to a son's wedding dressed as a bat (long story. The memory - and, worse, the photos - are with me still). Another son gets married next year. I shall be guided entirely by daughter (see above). So definitely no dungarees.

I shall never again hang on to something I've bought online, but am too lazy to send back, convincing myself that I shall grow to like it. I shall not only not grow to like it; I shall grow to hate it.

I shall never again wear new shoes to a son's wedding. Those I bought to go with the bat outfit became excruciating within minutes. They didn't even look nice. To this day, I don't know why I bought them.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Of satnavs, Betjeman and Slough

"Come friendly bombs and drop on Slough,"
John Betjeman once wrote.
And oh, I so agree with him,
If he'll excuse the quote.
Last Sunday, when we lost our way
(I'm still not quite sure how)
The satnav played a nasty trick,
And took us home through Slough.

Oh Betjeman, I could add much more
To all those things you said.
Grey faces, traffic, buildings, cars,
But traffic lights - all red.
The roundabouts, the one-way streets -
Which way do we go now?
Oh, friendly bombs, dear friendly bombs,
 Please come and drop on Slough.

Where was the longed-for motorway
We'd sought, but failed to find?
Where was the slip road? Where the signs?
Alas, all far behind.
But citizens of Slough, you know
Your town will win no prizes.
So phone up Pickfords, pack your stuff -
And join us, in Devizes!

(I love Betjeman's poem, but after last Sunday, I really, really hate Slough.)

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

What is it about horses?

Their size, their innate gentleness (usually), their smell, the sounds they make (munching, whinnying, whickering, even snorting), the kissablity of that velvety bit above the nostril, and almost best of all, their eyes.

Did you know that horses have the biggest eyes of any mammal? That doesn't mean biggest in comparison with the rest of the horse, but biggest. Full stop. Not many people know that; even horsey people.

Above are Blue's eyes (and some of the rest of Blue). I was admiring them today. Lovely, aren't they (or the one you can see)?

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

My Ode to (this) Autumn

Season of clouds and welly-bootfulness,
Close bosom friend of the torrential rain.
Hardly a hint of summer sunfulness,
And bloody winter's on its way again.
I wouldn't mind if I were sporting  tanfulness,
And felt the need for hurricanes and such,
But as it is, my skin is pale with sunlessness,
And in the mirror, I don't like it much.
Soon there'll be mud and snow and freezefulness,
The prospect fills my pallid soul with dread.
But there are always books and  wine and cheesefulness -
I'll spend the next six months, with them. In bed.

 (Sorry. Keats. But your autumns were obviously nicer than ours.)

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Lounge (part 3)

I had to end with this (see my last two posts for context). This is a picture in the dining area, which even to the most innocent is suggestive. It's huge, and this photo (taken from my sister's wheelchair) doesn't do it justice. A woman's face with the lips sucking at one of So suitable for the elderly and disabled, don't  you think?

Bring back Constable's  Hay Wain! It's not my favourite picture, but at least it's gentle and rural and inoffensive.

I'll now leave this subject for the time being. I'm beginning to  upset myself.

Monday, 14 September 2015

"The lounge" illustrated

Here it is, as promised (see previous post). Cosy? No. Comfortable? No. Those chairs are like buckets, and the backs come barely half-way up the sitter's back (I tried one out). They are neatly placed around little tables. The thing in the corner is a horrible spray of metal flower-like things which light up. As for the red/black colour scheme - well, words fail me. But homely and tasteful it is not. Oh, and please note the sparkly ceiling lights. The photo doesn't do them justice.

More to come...

Illiterate rudeness from high places

My disabled sister lives in sheltered accomodation. Thre is a communal "lounge" where the residents can get together for coffee, meetings etc. This used to be comfortable and reasonably homely. But no more. This room has now been done up, and is utterly hideous (I hope to obtain a photo for the next instalment of this rant). But even worse, the furniture has been arranged in a way that is neither social nor practical for the residents. They asked the manager to complain to the council about this, and she received the following bewildering and rather rude reply:
The furniture was made bespokely for the lounge. It will not fit any other way than the existing layout. The lounge is where it is now for practical reasons (accommodating more tenants). The old style whilst maybe suiting a few tenants was not condusive in a health and safety aspect.
Aside from the extraordinary use of English, this missive shows a flagrant disregard for the comfort of people for whom this is their only home. The writer of the letter even told one man (who said that it wasn't possible to have a nap in the chairs, which are small and hard and low-backed) that "if he wanted to go to sleep, he should go back to his own room" .
My sister is furious and frustrated by all this. So am I. And my blog is the best and least harmful place to express my feelings. Sorry about that.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Why I've cleaned out the larder

The novel is almost finished. I have a misty vision of the perfect, satisfying (but not too satisfying) ending. So I'm  not getting down to it (many writers will understand this syndrome). Much better to leave it where it is, pregnant with brilliant possibilities, than actually to do it, and face disillusion.

I love our larder. I love being able to walk in and see exactly what there is, rather than open lots of drawers and cupboards. But it's a long time since I could see what there was in our larder. Plus, it needed a good clean.

I have to say, I've had a horrible afternoon. An afternoon of long-ago sell-by dates*, of scatterings of rice grains and crumbs, and, strangely, multiple half-used packs of toasted almonds. There was insect life, too. Silverfish, and what may have been weevils. Adrian would have photographed them. I just cleaned carefully round them. Oh, and a huge jar of pickled gherkins, which I once needed for a recipe, but which over time had morphed into what looked like primitive, grey amphibians.

The job is now done. Do I feel satisfied, now that everything is in neat rows and and least some things are still within their sell-by dates? Not at all. I just feel tired, my back aches, and I still haven't finished that novel.

*I once had, and treasured, a tin of anchovies dated 1987. I think they belonged to my father. I wonder what happened to them.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Two records broken

I broke two records last last week:

1. I had two letters published in The Times* in less than three weeks.  (I don't usually blow my own trumpet, but this is such a small trumpet, I thought I'd give it a quick puff.)

2. I posted my least popular post ever. Sigh.

*Serious ones, too. I usually write silly silly ones as I don't have the right kind of brain for Big Issues and Politics.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

A self-assembly rant

The words "self-assembly" strike fear into my very heart. Time was when things arrived whole and ready-made.They looked like whatever they were supposed to be.  But no more. Things that should have bulk and shape arrive in flat boxes with lots of screws (apart from the one that's always missing), and sheets of incomprehensible instructions.

So I left the cardboard box in the hallway for about a week, plucking up courage to open it. Then I thought,   how hard can it be, assembling a scooter for a two-year-old, especially for a woman (me) who fixed the broken interior of the dishwasher with string?

Readers, last night, I opened the box. There were screws - boy, were there screws - and flimsy spanners and allen keys (you always have to have those), and the kind of wordless instructions consisting of little picures of A fitting into B, and then D and E following fast. But they didn't. Not for me. It took me over an hour just to attach the handlebars with the kind of tiny spanner you might get out of a  Christmas cracker (the wrong size, and it kept slipping).

After an entire evening of frustration and pure rage, the scooter was almost done, But I couldn't fit the two main parts together, and worst of all, there were TWO SCREW LEFT OVER. What if a precoius grandson were to perish because for the want of two screw? It doesn't bear thinking about.

So lovely neighbour Alan (nothing to do with keys) now has it. He'll fix it. He knows about these things. I just hope that one day, he comes to me for help, and I can show him how to fix his dishwasher with string.