Sunday 30 December 2012

Magpie 149


A smouldering pile of fag ends
Are all that's left of Jane.
She gave up smoking twice a year
Then took it up again.
And emptying that last ashtray,
We struggle to ease our pain.
But we try to think of it like this;
Our loss is Heaven's gain.

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

Saturday 29 December 2012

New Year Honours

These seem increasingly arbitrary. I haven't heard of half the people mentioned, so probably shouldn't judge, but Cherie Blair? I know many many people who work tirelessly for charity too, with nothing like her power, connections or resources. And nobody has noticed them.

But my biggest grumble is no knighthood for William Roache. The longest serving actor in the longest running soap, and he just has an MBE, like many of the rest of the cast. Okay, so I'm a Corrie fan (if not really a Ken Barlow fan, but that's beside the point). But still...

So. Who would you nominate for a gong, and why?

Friday 28 December 2012

The virtues of BOGROT

Some time ago I posted on this subject, and now it applies more than ever.

Buy One Get Rid Of Two applies in our case to books, and it's something I meant to stick to, but failed lamentably. The buying (or receiving) of the one is easy; it's the getting rid of two that's so difficult, as many of us know only too well. Collecting books is, I've decided, a kind of disease. In my case, there are many I shall never read again, many I don't even like, but I WANT them. I've no idea why, but there it is (or there they are, all over the house, easing out other things and climbing all over the furniture),

I had some lovely books for Christmas, but have now totally run out of space. Even the floors are gathering piles of books.

So. New year's resolution no.1 has to be BOGROT.

Wish me luck.

( This also applies to clothes. I accumulate old clothes, including those expensive mistakes that I can't get rid of because they were expensive, but ought to, because they were mistakes. These sadly include a mother-of-the-groom outfit, which made me look like a large, angry bat.)

Saturday 22 December 2012

Happy Christmas! And the last word goes to... eleven-year-old granddaughter Phoebe, who came up with the following gem yesterday:

"Mummy, if the world really is going to end today, please please PLEASE tell me what you're giving me for Christmas!"

A really happy Christmas to anyone who reads this, and for those who write, may you get the agent/publisher/book or story sales of your dreams in 2013!

Thursday 20 December 2012


I wasn't going to blog any more before Christmas, because everyone's too busy to read or write posts, right?And I should be, too.  But this is a good place to vent my wrath, so here goes.

Eight days ago, I ordered an item  from John Lewis. In time for Christmas. Ok? Yesterday, I checked the status of my order; not dispatched yet. Today, it was "processing". Hmmm. Thought I'd phone for clarification

After the usual prolonged press-this-press-that routine, (while waiting, I was regaled by a jolly voice telling me "it's nearly Christmas". Just in case I hadn't noticed), I got through to a nice man who told me that my item was out of stock. But it's being processed! I wailed. Ah. Not exactly, he said. They're in the process of waiting for a new delivery. Which might - might, mark you - arrive "in a day or two". Or not. In which case one of the 35-plus people we buy presents for would have to go without. (By this stage, I was in the process of getting very cross indeed.)

I didn't shoot the messenger, but he was left in no doubt as to how I was feeling. I cancelled my order.

As I said. Aaaaaargh!

(Next year I might even go back to old fashioned shopping; the kind where you go into shops and buy things and take them away in carrier bags, and then go and have a rewarding cup of coffee. Oh - and you don't even need a password to get in...)

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Mayoral (and other) patronage of the elderly

My disabled sister, R, whom I have mentioned before (she who on occasion tips herself out of her wheelchair), lives in sheltered acomodation. Most of the residents are elderly. Every Christmas, the Mayoress comes on a visitation, dispensing gifts of sweet and tea bags. Hmmm.

R, having been subjected to this ordeal for several years, now refuses to go. And I sympathise. Just because you are old, disabled or otherwise unable to live an indepedent life, why should you be subjected to this kind of thing? The mayoress is no doubt acting in good faith, and probably feels all warm and fuzzy after her afternoon's good deed. But what about the residents? How must it be for them, being handed sweets (which they probably don't want) and tea (which they can buy for themselves) as though they are children?

Something like this happened to me, several years ago, when I was in hospital with a fractured spine. My fellow patients were also mainly elderly. In the run-up to Christmas, we were visited by women (themselves of a certain age, I might add) from a well-known age-related charity, dispensing bags of sweets. We were also visited by Father Christmas and his merry elf, also giving away sweets. It was one of the more cringy of my experiences

Why, when people are old, do we start treating them like children? Do we think they have, as it were, come full circle? It'll be dolls and teddies next, then rattles, then dummies....

Bring on the skatebaords!.

Sunday 16 December 2012

Magpie 148


"Turn around when possible,"
Our trusty satnav said.
We'd wanted Skye, but couldn't turn,
So ended up in Bed-
fordshire. Oh dear! Next time I think we'll
Use a map instead.

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

Saturday 15 December 2012

Things I have learnt this week.

1. That a very cheap small black umbrella, when taken out in a storm, ends up battered and broken and resembling a drowned crow.

2. That there are mosquitoes in Devizes. Now. I saw someone buying mosquito repellent.

3. That a joint of beef rescued from the freezer after two years is very tough (although my son-in-law had two helpings)...

4. ...but bought ready-made custard is much nicer than the kind I used to make (but not with beef).

5. That I don't like whiskey any more.

6. That the Scandanavians don't like my new story (they often do like my stories).

7. That a lot of people don't really like turkey, but have it at Christmas anyway. I'm one of them. But I suppose if it were that nice, we'd eat much more of it. I feel the same about mince pies. If they're so delicious, how come we don't eat them all the year round? I make good mince pies, but don't eat them.

Thursday 13 December 2012

The Queen can't paint Buckingham Palace pink...

...because it belongs to the Nation. Even though it is, as it were, her house.

Well, we aren't allowed to put up a little handrail outside ours (see picture) to help John down the steep steps after his broken hip. No. It doesn't belong to the nation. It belongs to us. But it's  Listed. Not posh like the queen's, but not ours to change, either. I do see the point. On the other hand, will John ever we able to go out alone again? The Queen (presumably) has people to help her. John

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Yes, yes, YES!

No, not a re-enactment of When Harry Met Sally, nor a book deal with a six figure advance, but the next best thing. I've done (most of) my Christmas cards.

Now for the wait. You know the one. I've left out they Xs as we haven't seen each other for years/no longer like each other/they didn't send us one last year. But. If they do send us one, perhaps we ought to reciprocate....? Do we prolong this tit for tat thing? The jury is still out.

And then there are the Ys, to whom I lent a very expensive hat years ago. If I don't send them one, what about the hat? On the other hand, would I ever wear it again (it was my Mother of the Bride hat)?

And then there are those people we see every day who will probably give us one anyway. I've never seen the point of this. I can tell  them I want them to have a great Christmas. Do I really need to give them a card as well? Ive always seen Christmas cards as a way of keeping in touch. But I've got some extras, just in case.

I shall reward myself with a hot bath, as I've been walking outdoors in my socks, and my feet are frozen (long story).

Tuesday 11 December 2012

A phone call and a tragedy

That phone call about the Duchess of Cambridge  and it's tragic consequences must have come as a terrible shock to everyone involved, especially the bereaved family of the poor nurse who took the call and then apparently committed suicide. And yet...

Pranks - and  so many things in life - are judged by their consequences. A few years ago, a man managed to roll his car down an embankment (an accident). But people in a train were killed, so he was jailed for manslaughter.

But then there was the "prank" phone call made by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand. I've just read a transcript of that, and it was outrageous; malicious, nasty, crude and very unkind. But nobody died,  and after a brief suspension, Ross was back again.

The perpetrators of the Australian phone call were undoubtedly wrong. A tragedy ensued. They will have to live with that for the rest of their lives. But  I think that Jonathan Ross, older and probably a lot more experienced, was very lucky to get off so lightly, for his conduct was, if anything, worse. By now, for him at least, what happened is more than likely a distant memory.

Monday 10 December 2012

Magpie 147

My brother is very well-travelled.
My sister-in-law's even more so.
Their son has the world at his feet.
But I have the world on my torso!

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

Saturday 8 December 2012

"Gifts". A brief guide.

I've come to the conculsion that anything labeled "gift" is a definite no-no, especially if it comes from a Gift Department. "Gifts" are things that are bought by the desperate for the ungrateful. They are things that you don't need. If you needed them, you would (probably) already have them. If they smell, then it won't be the smell you like. If they're confectionary, you don't want them because they'll make you fat or they're the wrong sort. And if they're culinary-related (lie those extraordinary bottles of oil with what look like trees growing in them) they won't fit in with what you cook.

Here are a few of the things not to give:

Silly ties. They won't wear them. In fact, avoid silly anything.
Anything smelly. Ditto.
Socks (nuff said).
Hankies. Most of them use tissues.

Anything smelly (they know what they like, and you probably don't).
ANYTHING  for the kitchen (how could you even think of it?).
Aprons (ditto).
Tea towels (DITTO!).
Diaries (they've already bought one).
Calendars (yes. You can have too many calendars).
Poinsettias (they're horrible. Plus, they always die).

I hope this helps?

(PS If any of my family read this, I'd LOVE a leather head collar for my lovely new horse. Just thought I'd mention it.)

Thursday 6 December 2012

The downside of online shopping

I do nearly all  my Christmas shopping online (a) because I'm lazy and (b) because I'm indecisive, and it's easier to be indecisive at home than wandering dreamily round a shop for hours. But sometimes there are problems.

Weeks ago, I sent for an item for a grandson via, but not directly from, Amazon. Somethiing he really wants. Time passed, and the "tracking" tells me that it is "despatching soon". It may be delivered any time up until 3rd. January. I emailed and said this wasn't soon enough, and received a very cryptic unsigned reply which merely said "surely receive before Christmas". Upon looking up the supplier in question, I came across the following useful information. Useful, that is, if you understand it. It goes as follows: 

The expedition takes place in 1-3 weeks, from Monday to Freitagper courier. Delivery of the products by the purchaser at the time and manner provided by the courier service is available (no liability for delays caused by courier) delivered

The tracking code will be sent to a few hours after posting. If the package is a testament to your blocked or in stock we will notify you all in our undtun. have to overcome the impasse.
If you receive the product have verified that everything is okay and if so, please post positive reviews, we will do the same.

For all questions in the sale, we are on email:

Translate, anyone?

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Introducing Fairy!

I know, I  know. It's a ridiculous name for a huge horse, but it's short for Mr. Fairfax, which is also a ridic...well, never mind.

He arrived yesterday, and although he has to  be in quarantine for a week  because there are a lot of bugs arorund, he's settled in well. He would like me to point out that although this is his best side, I've missed out the tips of his ears, and he would have preferred not to have his photo taken while he was eating.

He is shy about his parentage, since no-one has any idea who his parents were. So he'd prefer me not to refer to the matter again.

I shall respect his wishes.

Monday 3 December 2012

Magpie 146


It's Christmas time! What can we get
For Uncle Bert and Auntie Bet?
We'd like to give them a surprise -
I know! A  metronome with eyes!

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

Saturday 1 December 2012

I'm ninety-six, you know!

No. Not me. A neighbour, who loves to surprise people by disclosing her age (she looks much younger, and is alert and active). And this set me thinking...

What age does one have to reach before not wanting to disclose it? I know some people don't mind, but I'm afraid I do. There's a kind of shame that comes with becoming old(er), and I'm not sure why. It's as though we've failed in some way; as though it's somehow our fault

But then we - or some of us, like our neighbour - reach a time when age is something to be proud of. When is that? Ninety, perhaps? And why?

But it can be useful. I recently tried out a horse belonging to a hunting farmer, and while extolling its virtues, he repeatedly told me that it wouldn't jump the very high hedges and walls. I kept telling him that I didn't want to jump high walls; that my hedge-jumping days were over. Finally, in desperation, I told him my age. He was gratifyingly surprised, but didn't mention hedges and walls again.

 (I bought the horse, and he arrives on Monday. He will have a post all of his own. But he and I have agreed to leave walls and hedges to others.)