Monday 31 March 2014

Magpie 213

 "I can't stand that wallpaper, Fred!
That great moth hanging over the bed!
And how could you choose
Those bare legs (with tattoos)?
Please, can't we have rosebuds, instead?"

"Darling, rosebuds are terribly twee.
They'd suit you, but would  never suit me.
We could both compromise
With rosebuds on those thighs,
And a nice little flower on each knee?"

"Oh, let's not have wallpaper at all!
We could just demolish the wall.
Then we'd have a nice view
Of the bath, and the loo,
And a glimpse of the stairs and the hall."

They set  too with a will (and some tools),
They ignored regulations and rules.
They were finally found
Six feet underground
Crushed by rubble. Poor ignorant fools.

(With thank to Tess at Magie Tales for the picture)

Wednesday 26 March 2014

How some scientists spend their time

Three recent piece of "research":
1. One has concluded that the reason for the menopause is that if women continued having children for the rest of their lives, then their grandchildren would have to compete with these new babies for food. Did anybody bother to ask a woman before wasting their time on this rubbish? Have any of them tried running after a toddler all day after, say, the age of about 55, or coping with those endless broken nights? Did it not occur to them that women have to live long enough to see their children out of the nest (men, it would seem, do not)? If we women carried  on breeding for ever, there would be octogenarians running in the mothers' race on sports day, and breaking their hips.
2. The reason brides (apparently) put on an average of five pounds after their weddings is still not conclusively proved. Well, here I (or again, any woman) can help. You know that ever-so-slim dress the bride wore at the last wedding you  went to? Did you honestly think she was always that shape? Of course she wasn't. Brides put on weight after their weddings because they no longer have to fit into their frock. Guys, why didn't you ask a bride? It would have saved you  a lot of time.

3. Women apparently reach their sexual peak at 31. Really? How do the researchers know? Can anyone reading this identify the age at which they reached (or hope to reach) their sexual peak? What is a sexual peak, anyway? I can barely remember being 31, never mind sexual peaks.

4. (This morning's Times) Goats are intelligent.

And we're supposed to be in the middle of a recession.

Sunday 23 March 2014

Magpie 212


"Now, this is Tracy Emin's bed,"
The gallery curator said.
"Next door, you'll find a cow and calf,
Sawn (by Damien Hurst) in half.
These sell for bucket-loads of cash,
But me? I think they're utter trash."

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

Thursday 20 March 2014

Marmite (2)

The woman was carrying a heavy bag containing what looked like twenty four jars of Marmite.

"That's a lot of Marmite," someone observed.

"I love Marmite," was the reply. "Arnold couldn't stand it. Said he was allergic."

"All those additives, perhaps?"

"No additives. Just yeast extract and vitamins."

"Is that so?"

"That is so. It says so on the jar."

She took the bus to the seaside. Arnold had hated the seaside, too. There were a lot of things Arnold had hated. He had quite probably hated her.

She left the bag on the shingle and paddled in the sea. Arnold had hated paddling. She then sat down beside her bag, and ate her picnic of Marmite sandwiches.

Arnold had had Marmite sandwiches for his last meal. She'd told him the sandwiches were cheese. He only managed one bite, though, as it turned out he'd been right about being allergic. By the time the ambulance arrived, it was too late.

She waited on the shingle until the tide came in,  then she went to the water's edge and threw each Marmite jar far out into the sea. They landed with twenty four little splashes. Twenty-four splashes of ashes. Twenty four little bits of Arnold.

Revenge can be savoury, as well as sweet.

Wednesday 19 March 2014


Oh my dear, you look terrible, what have they been doing to you, I thought you might like a visit, I'll sit here on the edge of the bed if no-one minds, I bought you these, I always think they're nice and easy to eat, no pips of course, they might get stuck under your plate, oh no, you're not wearing your teeth, are you, I see them in a glass on the table, now what have I got to tell you, the woman down the road, the one with the funny hair and the nose, I told you about her before, she was burgled, and you'll never guess what they took, just a necklace and a jar of Marmite, fancy that, stealing Marmite, did you ever hear anything like it, I hope you won't mind me eating just one of these, I didn't have any lunch, not even a Marmite sandwich, haha, I can't get that burglar and the Marmite out of my head, silly isn't it, I mean the necklace you can understand can't you, but not the Marmite, it's not as though he would be able to sell it or anything maybe he just liked Marmite, but then most people can afford to buy their own Marmite, oh dear you're not looking too good and you've gone very quiet, do you want me to call a nurse, or a doctor, you're not breathing and your eyes look all funny, I'll press this bell shall I, and get some help, but I do wonder how anyone could actually notice they were missing a jar of Marmite....

(I have absolutely no idea why I wrote this, but never mind. That's the nice thing about blogs. You can just go on and on and on and no-one has to read it.)

Sunday 16 March 2014

Posh food

I've posted about this before, but it bears repeating.

We've just got back from two nights in a (beautiful) posh hotel (anniversary treat). Room, service, staff all faultless. But oh, the food...pretty little (actually, minute) arrangements which closely resembled  the 'gardens on a dinner plate' children's class at the village show when I was a kid (but a lot smaller). You know the kind of thing I mean; pretentious, esoteric, exotic  (smoked cods' eyes on a bed of baby pine needles and Japanese cress seeds). And all adorned with a dribble of 'jus' (when did a sauce become a jus? Do you serve food with a jus? What exactly is a jus?).

My best friend lost her sight several years ago. I often try to imagine what it's like to suffer this terrible deprivation. What on earth would she have made of all this?

It made me dream of fish and chips (and I usually only dream of horses, heights and deadlines).

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Talking of knickers..

...which I was, a post or so ago, I was reminded of the disastrous bright blue knickers with which my unconventional mother equipped me for grammar school. I was scarred for life by those knickers. They feature in my novel, The Birds, The Bees and Other Secrets, as does a mother who closely resembles mine (I just came across the  unedited proofs of the novel, while searching for scrap paper, and suddenly thought this was an ideal opportunity for a tiny bit of advertising. I am quite exceptionally  bad at advertising, so please bear with me. Fellow-writers will understand.)

Mum was packing my school trunk, the uniform list at her side, piles of clothes scattered over the bed.

Skirts, navy, two. White blouses, five. Five white blouses? Whatever do you need five blouses for? Three should be plenty.” She ticked them off her list. “Long grey socks, six pairs. Six pairs of socks? You’ve never possessed six pairs of socks in your life. What can they be thinking of. I’ll send four.”

We had already been through all this in the uniform shop, so I didn't take too much notice. After all, no-one was ever teased for having only four pairs of socks.

The knickers were another matter.

Typically, my mother had refused to buy underwear at the uniform shop where, it has to be said, the prices had been craftily hiked up to match the prestigious standing of the school. Knickers and vests could be bought anywhere, she reasoned. There was no point in paying the earth for knickers and vests.

I’ll get them, Cass,” she’d said. “No need for you to come with me this time.”

She had returned in triumph.

Really cheap, Cass. A bargain, and good quality, too. One hundred percent cotton.” She tipped out her purchases onto the kitchen table. “How about that?”

To this day, I shall never know how my mother managed to find royal blue knickers. School knickers, as everyone knows, come in bottle green, grey, or navy. No-one wears royal blue knickers. No-one (as far as I know ) even sells royal blue knickers.

But Mum - they're the wrong colour.”

Blue. They’re blue. Nice bright blue knickers.”

But the list says navy! I can’t wear those. I’ll get into trouble.”

Don’t be ridiculous, Cass. Of course you won’t. Who’s going to see them, anyway?”

Everyone!” I wailed. “Everyone will see them. I’ll have to do gym in them. It says so on the list.”

Oh, gym!” said Mum dismissively. “What does it matter what you wear for gym? It’s not as though you’re going out in them.”

This is exactly what happened to me. I never quite forgave her. And I never found out where she found those horrible knickers.

Monday 10 March 2014

Of poodles

One of these has just won Supreme Champion at Crufts. Good for him. But can someone please tell me why these poor creatures are submitted to a kind of topiary that would make even a Downton garden bush look ridiculous? Why the naked bottom? And the fluffy leg-warmers? And the extrardinary hair-do? Why?

When I was a child, we had a standard poodle, and she needed clipping, but all over. And she still looked like a dog. A normal, evenly-covered  sort of dog.

I just wondered.

Saturday 8 March 2014

Women and shopping

Men don't understand this (although I have to say that B makes an excellent shopping companion, which isn't quite the same thing. A young grandson asked me the other day, what was it with women and shopping? And I tried to explain:

"We'll, you start off just looking into shops, and then you buy something quite small (probably), and then you go and have coffee. Over coffee, you get our purchase out and admire it (your companion does the same. It's essential to have a companion). Then you go back to the first shop, just to make sure that top/milk jug/bath mat* isn't what you wanted in the first place, and you go to another shop and try something on (if you're lucky, you'll both fit into the same changing room). And then you go and have some lunch...."

Sadly, by the time we got to lunch, grandson had totally glazed over, and I gave up.

I did the shopping thing with my daughter yesterday. We've done it for her birthday ever since she was about 12, and she's now....well, not 12 any more (we did miss out the year she had just had triplets). And we bought the sunglasses I was going to give her, and I tried on some silly blue ones, and we both laughed a lot (if you're still with me, you're almost certainly a woman), and I bought fifteen pairs of knickers.

"I'm going to throw all my old ones away," I told the assistant. She was not at all amused, but I was very excited.

A lovely day. But I shan't be telling my grandson about it. He wouldn't understand.

*still thinking about bath mats ( see bath mat post).

Tuesday 4 March 2014

The etiquette of the blog-follower

The lovely GB posted recently on the question of why people stop following blogs, and I have been pondering this question.

I have my own unofficial blog-following etiquette/guidelines. I follow blogs that reflect my interests (eg writers' blogs), or which I find amusing/entertaining/informative. Blogs I enjoy reading. I also prefer blogs where the posts are fairly short (because of time), and I like bloggers who respond to comments. If a blogger never acknowledges a comment (of course, this isn't always possible) I feel as though my comment has been dropped into a void (others may disagree). I myself try always to acknowledge comments. That way, some kind of cyber relationship is formed, and I enjoy this. seems that there are people who comment on a blog just  in order to recruit followers. This happened to me recently. X posted a nice comment on my blog, and joined as a follower. He added an invitation for me to look at his blog, which I did. When he next commented, he issued an invitation to follow his blog. I thanked him, but did not join for a number of reasons, not least, that he already has hundreds of followers, and there are so many replies to each post that a visitor who wanted to keep up with them would need a great deal to time to do so. X promptly removed his name from my list of followers (which I'd been pretty sure would happen).

Now, I don't mind about this, but I'm puzzled. Is the point of following a blog just to boost your own numbers? I'm sure for most of us, the answer would be no. As for ceasing to follow a blog, I don't do this. Sometimes I drift away from a blog, but I don't take my name off the list of followers as it might leave the blogger puzzled or even hurt.

What do you think?

(Btw X, if you happen to read this, no offence taken or intended. I'm just puzzled.)

Monday 3 March 2014

Where have all the humans gone?

This is the kind of morning I've had....

To place an order, please press one,
To track one,  please press two.
This phone call may be monitored,
(We've got our eye on you).

Press three for other queries
(You may have to wait for days), we
Will play some music while you wait
Designed to drive you crazy.

You're ringing off? Oh dear. We'll be
Quite sad to see you go, but
Since twenty-twelve, this firm has been
Entirely run by robots.


Saturday 1 March 2014

Granny's sewing box

I also have this. Also an antique. And no. I don't sew. The nearest I come to that kind of thing is using iron-on hem-mending stuff to ...well....  mend hems. It's also good for fixing trouser pockets. John's trouser pockets regularly wear out, and he ends up with his socks full of lose change. So, I just stick the broken ends of the pocket together, and voila! The only problem with this is that over time, the pockets get shorter and shorter. Then it's time for new trousers.

I do occasionally sew on buttons.

I think that may be Granny's old pin cushion the right, but I can't be sure. I also have ber thimble, and I used to have lots of the fawn thread she used for mending her stockings. Not sure what happened to that.

(I've just spoken to my daughter about the bath mat mentioned in my last post. "What, that manky old thing?" she cried. She says that when I die, she will throw it in the bin. But I told her I was leaving it to B. That's her told. Ha.)