Sunday 27 May 2012

A Titch crisis and a holiday

So there we were last night, ready - ish - to go on holiday, and Titch went suddenly and horribly lame. Vet was called. Infected tendon. Needed immediate surgery. Off to hospital.

Of course, Titch didn't want to get on the lorry. He wanted to be at home. Didn't we know he wasn't well? Three of us persuaded him on board, and off we set, Titch muttering darkly and emitting the occasional pathetic whinny. When we arrived, he sniffed his new surroundings, decided he definitely didn't like what he was sniffing (andtiseptic, fear and vets), and said he'd seen it all now, thank you very much, and would like to go home now.

We left him; me crying, and Titch wide-eyed and trembling. They phoned later to say the op had been successful, and at 11.30 pm to say the patient was now standing up. Phew.

After the week we've had, this was (almost) the last straw. Because although Titch is in good hands, and probably doesn't need me, I need him; to see for myself that he's ok. But I can't. All I can do is send him grapes and a copy of Horse and Hound, and keep everything crossed that he gets well soon.

We fly off tomorrow morning. I think when it comes to it, I'll be quite relieved.

I think...

Friday 25 May 2012


That's me, screaming. Because I had had ENOUGH of today.

1. Things I need for my holiday on Sunday haven't arrived, although ordered on Monday, "48 Hour delivery". Numerous emails and phone calls.

2. Saga of the piano (see below. That's if you care. I'd quite understand if you don't): removal people refuse to do anything about it, man from their professional organisation almost accused me of lying when I phoned him, ombudsman (who was having a problem with bees) nice, but can't do anything unless I go back to organisation man.....blah...blah. Piano still in kitchen.

3. My wardrobe (I use the term very loosely) is full of rubbish, and I need replacements for (eg) my old (Tesco's) tee-shirts (see 1 above). But at least I have sandals (see below).

4. To top it all, the hen blackbird who is sitting on he nest in our courtyard appears to be a one parent family. No nice man-bird comes and feeds her; she has to dash off and feed herself, and then rush back to her eggs. I'm so glad we're not like birds. Just think. We'd have to sit on our eggs for nine months. There's something something to be grateful for after all.

I feel a whole lot better now.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

For sale - one Olympic torch

Well, not really, I'm afraid. Because I don't have one. Titch and I rather fancied parading through the streets of Devizes as Olympic torch-bearers, but sadly, we weren't invited.

But - what I want to know is, why the furore about people who want to sell their torches? How many people can honestly say they would turn down (the rumoured) £150,000 for something they will never use again? And there are just so mnay times you can show it to your grandchildren ("oh, not that old torch again, Grandma!").

The other thing I want to know is, who, in these times of austerity, is actually going to BUY these torches?

I just don't get it.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Finally losing it

Nice sandals, aren't they? Well, I think so. I needed some new flat sandals, and went shopping. Couldn't find any. Tried the internet, and found these on Amazon. They looked comfortable; not expensive. Finger poised over the "buy" button...

...but wait a minute. They looked familiar. Just a bit. Didn't I already have some rather like that? I turned out all my cupboards (finding a horrible selection of mouldering old shoes in the process). No sandals. Then I looked down...

I was wearing them. The exact same pair. Nice. Comfortable. Last year's birthday present from a son. Plenty of wear left in them.

As I said, I must be finally losing it...

Monday 21 May 2012

And the winner of the fishy novel competition is...

Joanne, with this inspired contribution:

How about The Hake's Progress, How Bream Was My Valley, The Codfather, Skate Expectations, Wind In The Minnows, Noddy And His Little Carp (oh dear) The Stickleback of Notre Dame, Down and Trout In Paris and London?


Thanks to every one, and well done Joanne ( who has a habit of winning my competitions!).

Sunday 20 May 2012

Magpie 118

"Very nice, dear," said his mother
"Is that meant to be a clown?
And those funny girls in blue, and all those
Swirls of muddy brown...?
A circus, did you say, dear?
Well, I s'pose that it's a start.
But I think I'll tell your teacher
That it's time you gave up art."

(With thanks to Tess at Magpie Tales for the picture, and apologies to Chagall, who was, of course, a very good artist indeed...)

Saturday 19 May 2012

A competition (something for the week-end)

Inspired by Broken Biro's blog today, and a game one of my sons played with his mobile (while "working"), I thought it might be fun to see how many book titles could be adapted to a fishy alternative. For example: The Cod Delusion, Prawn with the Wind. That kind of thing.

Any more ideas? There will be a winner, who will receive an accolade, (but sadly no prize).

Friday 18 May 2012

The curious incident of the piano in the kitchen

My son has a piano in his kitchen. Posh, eh? No. Not posh at all, and it's in the way and his wife is not pleased.

The piano, which belonged to a deceased relative, was delivered by a removal firm ten days ago. I had to pay for this, up front. Fair enough. But the men refused to take the piano downstairs to the living room, and dumped it in the kitchen. Where it remains. It is not a big piano. It is quite small. But it is heavy. My son can't move it on his own, and his wife is petite; ie not piano moving material.

I have now phoned several times and spoken to lovely Clare in the office (Clare and I are getting to know each other quite well). But of course, she only pass on messages. I have emailed the boss twice. No response. I have left a message for the ombudsman (don't you just love that word?) and hope to get advice from him.

Meanwhile, I am very cross indeed, my daughter-in-law is becoming .....restive? And my son?

As I said at the beginning of this post ( are you still awake?): my son has a piano in his kitchen.

Thursday 17 May 2012

Death in the kitchen

We have in our kitchen a gas boiler and a gas Aga. Both are elderly, but both work well. But. Every time one or other is serviced, we are given dire warnings of death by carbon monoxide poisoning. In fact, the last time the boiler was serviced, it was left with a Do Not Use notice attached. Although it had just been serviced. Hmmm.

Yesterday was the Aga's turn. The gas man, whom John afterwards called " Everyman's Eeyore", issued the usual warnings, and advised us to have a gas alarm fitted. We could, he told us, drop dead if there were a gas leak. John wanted one ( an alarm. Not a gas leak) I wanted to talk about it first.

Eeyore said that if we did drop dead without the alarm, he would be held responsible. Well, we couldn't have that, could we, so he duly fitted it.

Eeyore: There. And under this flap is the number to ring if it goes off.
Me: But if we hear it, and dash downstairs to find the number, we'll drop dead. You told us so.
Eeyore ( sighing): You write the number in your address book and keep it by the phone upstairs(our kitchen is in the basement).

We have no address book by the phone.

Eeyore, who appears to be a stranger to humour of any kind, continued to mumble about death by gas inhalation until his departure some two hours later. My attempts to inject any kind of levity into our dialogues failed miserably. By the time he left, we had both lost the will to live, let alone laugh.

But never mind. If we contnue to use our toxic appliances, we probably haven't got that long anyway.

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Are you still afraid of spiders?

Not any more, surely? This is the happy face spider, from Hawaii. That's the good news.

The bad news is that it it's facing extinction. But then, aren't we all?

Monday 14 May 2012

Britain's got even better talent...

Well, I think so, anyway. Is there anyone who hasn't hear of Pudsey, the dancing dog who won Britan's got Talent at the week-end? I doubt it. He's now so famous, he's getting a "doggyguard". Yes, really.

But how many people have heard of Laura Van Der Heijden, the staggeringly gifted 15-year-old 'cellist (only just fifteen, at that) who last nght won BBC's Young Musician of the Year, with a stunning performance of the very difficult concerto by Walton?

I'm not denigrating Pudsey's performance. I didn't see it happen, but watched it on Youtube, and it was extremely clever (nearly 400,000 hits by last night). But apart from the glitz and the glamour (not to mention Simon Cowell's bewildering hair-do), have we got things just a bit wrong? The three children - for that's what they were - who competed in the Young Musician final, were staggeringly gifted, and had practised for six or seven hours a day for years. I'm sure they will be known for many years to come. Pudsey is - a dog.

But I guess that animals will always have it. If there were a tortoise who could sing God Save the Queen, or a budgie who could knock up a cheese omelette, they would win, too. I'm sure there were some very good acts in BGT, but couldn't these young musicians have just a little more publicity and praise, too? They are the future of this country's classical music, and will one day leave something very important behind them.

Pudsey may leave some tear-jerking video footage. Oh - and, maybe, a few generations of puppies.

Sunday 13 May 2012

Magpie 117

"I'm stuck in the middle," said Sue.
"And I don't like the look of this stew.
I've no knife, spoon or fork,
And these guys want to talk.
And I'm dying to go to the loo!"

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

Friday 11 May 2012

Texas death row (again)

Since some of my followers have shown interest (thank you), I would just like to update you on the conditions on Texas death row. It is now apparent that the inmates are suffering the following inhumane treatment:

... taking away wheelchairs from those who cannot walk, denying mental and physical health care, being held in solitary confinement for over ten years without any legal justification based on their conduct, dangerously unsafe living conditions, inadequate nutrition, inadequate exercise, denial of adequate access to telephones, destruction and loss of necessary legal documents, denial of religious freedom, denial of fair administrative process, failure to timely deliver mail including legal correspondence, and other abuses...

I am sure that this is true, and explains in part why my own correspondent hasn't written to me for some weeks (mail going both in and out of the prison is regularly delayed). Yet again, may I appeal to anyone who is interested to think of writing to one of these men? It need take no more than about twenty minutes every couple of weeks. For many, this is their only contact with the outside world. My own penfriend has been dropped by all of his family, including his twin brother.

Do email me if you'd like further details, or I am happy to speak on the phone.

(I promise a nice, jolly post next time!)

Thursday 10 May 2012

Horse diaries

Titch: You've taken my picture off your blog!
Me: That's right. You were Mr. April. This is Mr. May.
Titch: Doesn't look much like a horse to me.
Me: No. It's not a horse. It's a toddler. One of the things you run away from when they're in pushchairs, although they're a fraction your size.
Titch: You can't be too careful. (Titch dislikes anything small, with wheels). That's not a carrot it's eating.
Me: No. It's a biscuit. Toddlers like biscuits.
Titch: What is it, anyway? This toddler thing?
Me: "It" is my youngest grandchild.
Titch (who can be jealous): Fond of it, are you?
Me: Yes. Very.
Titch: Hmph. Don't bring it anywhere near me.
Me: I wouldn't dream of it. You can be very stupid sometimes.
Titch: Well, what do you expect? You're always saying what small brains horses have.
Me: You said it.
Titch: Tell it to try carrots. Might help it to grow a bit. (Pause.) And talking of carrots...?

Wednesday 9 May 2012

What can you buy for 77p?

Not a lot, but perhaps one of the following: a litre of milk (almost), a loaf of cheap bread, a tin of tomatoes, 3 eggs, four small Cadburys chocolate frogs (almost). But none of these will last as long as a book.

Aliya Whiteley's novel Mean Mode Median has been reissued by the new electronic publishers, Thirst eDitions, and is currently available from Amazon as a Kindle edition at the promotional price of 77p.

This novel is a delight. Aliya herself calls it "a bit mental", but I would say that it is quirky, original and fresh, as are the characters. There is the mysteriously charismatic Edward, his sister Anna, and their rather bewildered father, James. Then there is Lily, Anna's and Edward's mother - or is there? She hasn't been seen for thirteen years, and rumour has it that her cremated remains are in a jar somewhere in the house. On the other hand, she could just be lurking upstairs, like a latterday Mrs. Rochester. You will have to read the novel to find out.

The narrative bowls along at a good pace, the descriptions are wonderful, as is the characterisation. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and would encourage anyone to buy it.

After all, what better use can you find for your 77p?

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Magpie 116

Emmanuel's mother told him, "never
Walk beside a flowing river."
But ever disobedient, he
Went off alone. Oh deary me.
For our Emmanuel couldn't swim.
And that is why you can't see him.

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

The idiosyncracies of junk mail


When you get to a certain age, the junk mail people, who seem to know all about you, start sending you nice little suggestions for planning your funeral, so that your "loved ones" don't have to bother. You can pay now if you want to, but I don't want to.

And then someone else - as this morning - sends you a catalogue of "activity clothing". Horrible lycra shorts, sexless bras, that kind of thing. I don't want those, either.

I wish they'd make up their minds. Best of all, I wish they'd all bugger off and leave me alone.

(Wonderful Rob has restored wonderful Old Blogger. For the time being...)

Sunday 6 May 2012

An informal note to New Blogger

Dear New Blogger, I hate you. My PC hates you. My iPad hates you. You don't work on either. Your design is horrible. I don't like orange. I WANT OLD BLOGGER BACK! (Pretty please...)

Friday 4 May 2012

Coming soon to a house near you...

...a gender party! After the baby shower, the "gender reveal party"; the happy occasion when the proud parents reveal to their friends the sex of their unborn baby. The answer's in the cake. A cake is made with white or chocolate icing, but when it's cut, it reveals - da-da! - pink or blue filling! Clever, eh?

An advanced slant on this is for not even the parents to know. The person who has scanned the baby lets the cake shop know what sex it's going to be, and the cake is then made, and the parents don't find out until the cake is cut.

Guests can apparently attend wearing pink or blue clothes, depending on what gender they think the baby is going to be, and there are pink and blue balloons, and baby-themed party games. There's no end to the fun.

But will it end there? I think the time will come when the baby can be conceived and developed in a laboratory, and then produced (out of a cake. Why not?) fully-formed. Even better, it could stay in the lab until it's potty-trained, or better still, fully-grown, with a university degree. A gender-cum-graduation party. I suggest a pink or blue cake, with a mortar board on top.

I can't wait.

Thursday 3 May 2012

Yes, yes, YES!

No. I'm not doing a Meg Ryan, but I've just this minute heard that my ancient and neglected ( but loved. I call it tough love) Ford Ka has passed its MOT ( it can be seen hiding behind Titch above). I was told a year ago that this was unlikely to happen, so I'm delighted (and, to be honest, gobsmacked).

Well, not quite passed. It needs ( you'll like this bit) a top mount for the Macpherson strut, an anti rollbar link arm, and a rack end (yes. I thought that was something culinary, too. But it appears I was wrong).

Good news on a horrible wet day! We shall celebrate tonight.

Sean's story

Maria is a single mother, devoted to her son Sean. She is separated from Sean's father,Ian, but Ian had regular access to his son.

When Sean was four-and-a-half, Maria was becoming concerned at his increasing reluctance to see his father. Ian appeared devoted to Sean, and there seemed to be no problems. But finally, the situation became so bad that she managed to extract from Sean his "secret" (he had been told that his mother would die if he told anyone what was happening). Ian had been systematically sexually abusing Sean - in a swimming pool, so that all the evidence was immediately destroyed.

Maria was totally distraught, and sought help. Everyone blelieved Sean; his teacher, his GP, social workers, his family. The experiences he described were far too graphic to have been invented by so young a child. But - and here was the biggest problem of all - because of his young age, his evidence could not be accepted in a court of law. The physical damage to Sean could, it was said, have been caused by constipation. Ian remained free and at large.

Eventually, Maria was introduced to a family courts lawyer, who said she MUST pursue the matter through the family courts. This she did. The judge believed Sean, and a restraining order was imposed on Ian, preventing him from going anywhere near his son. When, a year later, the civil courts finally decided to take action, Ian's computer was clean (after all, he'd had a long time in which to see to that), and any other evidence was long gone.

Sean is now eight, and is finally beginning to be able to put some of his trauma behind him. Time will tell how much lasting damage has been inflicted upon him, but he has a close and happy relationship with his mother - who is still very traumatised at what happened to her son - and his extended family.

The last I heard of Ian was that he had a new girlfriend. With young children.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

A disturbing book, and the subject of sexual abuse of children

I have just finished this novel - It's me, Anna - by Elbie Lotter, and a very disturbing read it is. Written in spare prose, telling the story as it is, with little if any embelishment, it is a fictionalised account of the author's sexual abuse as a child.

In my years of relationship counselling, I came across very many victims of sexual abuse, and this book really brings alive the fear, the helplssness and the despair of child victims. Nothing so accentuates the total vulnerability of children as abuse, be it physical, verbal or sexual, and this harrowing story could only have been told my someone who had herself suffered. These children are almost always abused by someone they know, and if the abuse takes place in their own home, as Anna's does, there is literally nowhere to go. One of my clients said to me :"home was meant to be safe, but my home was never safe". Usually the child has been threatened with dire consequences if she betrays the "little secret" between her and the abuser, and if she does tell anyone, as Anna does, then she is often not believed.

There are too many myths about paedophiles. We live in a society where people are terrified to let their children go anywhere on their own, and there seems to be the belief that a child molester lurks round every corner (in fact, research has shown that there is a 1:200,000 chance of a child on its own being abducted). We fear to help a child on its own in case we are accused of trying to harm it, and in the meantime, thousands of us have a stack of useless CRB checks to "prove" that we are harmless.

Meanwhile, the real perpetrators often go free. To demonstrate this, I shall continue tomorrow with the appalling story of what happened to a child known to my family.

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Horse diaries (requested by the horse)

Titch: so you've finished that - that challenge thing?
Me: Yes
Titch: And you mentioned me?
Me: I told you I did!
Titch: Only my grandfather, though. Not me.
Me: That's near enough.
Titch: No pictures of me?
Me: I've done pictures of you!.

But Titch sighed. He was obviously disappointed. So I told me that for a limited period only, his photo could have pride of place on this blog.

Titch (pleased): Hmmm. Though I say it myself...
Me: You're always saying it. And okay. Yes. You're beautiful.
Titch: That's all right, then. Got any carrots?

Plus ca change.

This picture could save you £60

Apparently a German police officer has been suspended because he accepted a picture of a woman's bottom in lieu of a fine.

Now, if this can happen in a disciplined country like Germany, maybe, just maybe, it could happen here. Where we live, we have no parking rights, no drive, no garage. There are some free parking spaces, without time limits, but otherwise we have to play an ongoing game of parking roulette with the local traffic wardens, moving cars every two hours, switching number plates (only joking), wondering which of us (the TW or us) will reach the car first (there is also the problem of forgetting where you've parked the car, but that's another matter).

But - if I fill my pockets with a selection of spicy pictures, do you think it's possible that I could trade them in rather than receive a ticket? (Worse than a ticket is a speeding course. I've been on one of those, and believe me, it makes watching paint dry positively thrilling.)

Just a thought.