Tuesday 31 March 2015

Knickers, horses and window cleaners

Just testing. These seem to be the post titles that attract the most page views. So I thought I'd combine them, and see what happens.

Apologies for any disappointment caused.

(I've posted off Easter eggs,and the  horse is lame. I probably haven't got enough to do.)

Monday 30 March 2015

What's your methodology?

I frequently get grammar-related bees in my bonnet, and this is my current one. Methodology. To all those pompous word-spinners who misuse words like this,  I would like to shout from the rooftops (and I'm very bad indeed when it comes to heights): "methodology" is not, repeat not, the same as "method". It is:

a. body of practices, procedures, and rules used by those who work in a discipline or engage in an inquiry; a set of working methods: the methodology of genetic studies; a pollmarred by faulty methodology.
b. The study or theoretical analysis of such working methods.


 When exactly did this ridiculous usage begin? I hear it on the radio, and read it, too. Only last week we had a form which wanted to know "what methodology of payment were we going to use". It's like the "glazing enhancement specialists*"  (yes. Really.) who clean our windows. Come on, guys. You're window cleaners. Stand up and be proud of yourselves. You don't need posh titles to show that you do a good job, and we don't need posh words to convey simple meanings. More and ever longer words are being used to express less and less. I love words, but I'm beginning to despair.

I shall now go and roast a chicken (I'm sure there's a posh expression for that, too).

*One of my sons refuses to believe this, but I have a piece of paper that proves it. Besides, I couldn't make it up. Really.

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Rchard the third and me (second attempt)

I find the whole Richard thing quite extraordinary. He's been dead over 500 years, was king for fewer than three years, and yet he's been re-buried with all that pomp and splendour. People queued for hours  to see the coffin (although I imagine what was left of him could probably have fitted in a shoe box), and many even came from abroad.

Now, I'm a royalist (pace, Adrian), not least because I'd rather have a royal family than an elected "first family", and I think our queen does a magnificent job.   But Richard the third? After all those years spent slumbering peacefully  under the car park? Really?

And yet a part  of me loves the very Englishness of the whole thing; the quaint eccentricity that is essentially ours. Some time ago, I posted about quaint English customs (you can see it here ), and I wouldn't want us to be any other way.

So cheers, Richard. And may you rest in peace. Again.

Sunday 22 March 2015

Magpie 262

The tree keeps its secrets.

The young couple walked together hand-in-hand along the woodland path. She marvelled at his knowledge of nature; of birds, trees, flowers. There was so much she still didn't know about him. They had met only recently, but the attraction had been immediate, and she was happy; so, so happy.

They sat on the soft new grass, and she felt its cool dampness through her shorts. The sun  filtered through the leaves, patterning her legs with bright coins of sunlight. A blackbird sang in a sapling nearby. It was such a beautiful day.When they got up to leave, she leant against the tree trunk, and they kissed, his fingers tracing the outline of her forehead, her throat.

They never found her body.

The tree keeps its secrets.

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

Saturday 21 March 2015

The eclipse and me

No special glasses. No pinhole camera (yes. I know you can make your own, but you aren't me, and I can't). But hang on....the radio tells me you can do something clever with a colander. That's right. Let the sun shine though a colander, and voila! An eclipse.

Don't you believe it. What you see (what I saw) when doing this is the sun's  reflection of....a colander. Who would have  thought it? Not really interesting, even for anyone with a thing for colanders. So...

Dear reader, I looked up. That's what I did. I know you're not supposed to, but I only did it for a nanosecond, two or three times, and I saw the eclipse. And it was quite interesting. And then I drove off to visit the horse (who hasn't been the same since I gave him some bits of chocolate brownie, and he went on a kind of sugar high for fifteen minutes), but he wasn't at all interested in the eclipse ("have I seem the what? No. I just need more of that chocolate thingy"). Neither was anyone else.

But I saw it. Did you?

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Saga of the missing suitcase: part 2

Well, the grieving period lasted about a day (I firmly believe that for any loss, from a real bereavement to a lost ten pound note, has its permitted period of grief). It involved lots of little "oh, there was that! And that too! And the rather expensive thingy as well!"  But now that I have regained my sanity, I can see a plus side.

My overnight case, which largely accompanies me when I travel for babysitting purposes, and us as an extra when we go on holiday, is old. And because I'm disorganised and untidy, there is an accumulation of silly little things that "might come in useful": freebie pots of moisturiser, odd bits of paper I use as bookmarks, nail files, and....well, actually, I've now forgotten, so they can't be that important, can they? But I know there were quite a lot of them.

Post grief, I'm beginning to dream of a brand new, clean, empty replacement. Red, I think, as we always miss ours in the airport carousel. A lovely new sponge bag (mine is old, and full of....well, dross). A new shaver for John. Lovely new make-up. That kind of thing. I still grieve for my wonderful, cosy White Company pyjamas (a treat), but hey, spring is here, so maybe I shan't need them for much longer (by next winter,  I shall have got over it). And the superb new novel I was reviewing for Amazon. And the sort of  mini electric blanket I use in my children's very cold houses, but spring etc etc...

So now, when I make one of my regular calls to lovely Tamara at the lost property place, who is kind  and helpful and laughs heartily at my very feeble jokes, I'm beginning to hope the news is bad. I shan't even mind that the cab driver (I left the case in a taxi) may now be sporting my lovely pyjamas (you don't have to laugh, but Tamara thought this was hilarious, bless her).

And the expense? As my late husband would have said,  think of that as school fees. Wise man.

Sunday 15 March 2015

Magpie 261


I wandered, lonely as a cloud,
Along the empty streets of York.
But daffodils were in short supply -
No glimpse of flower, or leaf, or stalk.

When next time on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
I'll find another source of cheer -
I think I'll lie and dream of food.
For flowers have given me many thrills,
But no-one dines on daffodils.

(With thanks to Tess at Magpie Tales for the photo. Her own.)

Saturday 14 March 2015

Things I've learnt in the past week

1. I  hate unpacking after being away, but the answer is to lose our suitcase. Voila! Nothing to unpack!

2. But losing our suitcase is incredibly inconvenient. I keep remembering all the things - the little things - that I really need, and had taken for granted. I remember them layer by untidy layer. A bit like mental unpacking. So I might just as well have done the physical sort.

3. Never mind the wonderful reviews. The play of The Curious  Incident of the Dog in the Night time is tedious beyond words. We walked out halfway through. I much preferred the book.

4. I don't always remember even half the things I write down on shopping lists that I then leave behind. Many of today's were to replace essentials from the missing suitcase.

5. A savvy, street-wise London son is very good at organising the search for the missing suitcase (see 1). But no luck yet.

6. It doesn't matter what I look like. After all, who cares? From now on I shall always, always wear comfortable   shoes in London.

7. Women (i.e. me) mind far make about missing suitcases than men (John). Why is this?

8. I have become obsessed with the missing suitcase. I shall now draw this post to an end.

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Poem from Death Row

The Row I’ve Hoed Bears Bitter Death

Sometime the rain falls and I’m never aware of it.
I’m sound-proofed from the world.
Cursed to witness but not participate.
Sometimes the sound of thunder is lost in the cacophony of shouting men,
Screaming their grievances to apathetic guards;
Their prayers to an indifferent deity.
The only time I hear the rain is when it leaks through the crack in the ceiling.
It’s the melodic symphony of water dancing off of the leaves or earth or man-made edifices.
No, this sound has more of a dull metronomic quality as it slaps the stone floor.
Each drop is a tiny defibrillator that shocks me back to reality;
The needle that pierces all my dreams.
After the rain has fallen I plug up the cracks in my concrete sky,
Shut off the light that became my fluorescent moon and stars and finally fall asleep.
This is where my life’s journey has taken me and dropped me off,
Like a child on the first day of school… kicking and screaming.
A ten by six cell where I play at being God.
Creating, destroying and rearranging and likewise, becoming indifferent to the world.
©Irving Davis

This poem was written some time ago by "my" Death Row inmate. I know my posts on this subject are unpopular, but do read it if you have a minute. He's a gifted and sensitive writer (btw I do have his permission to publish his work on my blog).

Monday 9 March 2015

I love........

...frogspawn. I get really  excited if I manage to see any at this time of year, because it brings back so many memories.

As a country child, I had frogspawn. In jam jars, in tanks, wherever I could find to put it. I loved watching all those tiny full stops growing into commas, and then into minute frogs. If I missed the frogspawn, I would catch the read-made tadpoles with one of those white nets, taking them home in a jam jar with a string handle. Sometimes, the tadpole jar got knocked over, and believe me, trying to picky up slippery, wriggling tadpoles in time to save them is a tricky job. It's a real race against the clock.

My mother wasn't impressed. She also had to put up with newts, which escaped, and (when I was very small)  snails, which I put in a bucket under my bed and which all got out in the night.

A local friend has just emailed to tell me the frogspawn has arrived in her pond, and I'm welcome to come and help myself. I probably won't, as I have no pond to release them into when they're bigger, but I have to admit that I'm sorely tempted.

Saturday 7 March 2015

What about this one, then?

I take the points my followers made about my last post. I think I probably over-reacted. Thank you for putting me right. But please, please tell me you agree about the above (Wonga) advertisement, which you have probably seen on TV. I really thought this one was the pits, and that's probably why I was so incensed about the other.


Thursday 5 March 2015

I am livid!

This horrible, patronising advert appeared in the press today. Unfortunately this photo doesn't show these women's legs, which are clad in thick, knee-length stockings (presumably because the poor old souls haven't the strength to drag them all the way up to their thighs, or wear tights). The inference is that fashion is really for the young and beautiful, and by dressing these elderly women up in it, we can all have a jolly good laugh.

Well, as an elderly woman who never goes for  'labels', can pull on her own tights, and wears jeans most of the time anyway, I find this advert deeply offensive. and I'm, ashamed of my fellow-oldies for letting the side down.

There. I feel better now.

(Though I'll probably be sued for using this picture. And D&B are a lot richer than I am.)

Tuesday 3 March 2015

Hitting the nail on the head

Every so often,when I read  a book, something hits the nail on the head so accurately that it's like a lightbulb being switched on. It happened to me last week, when I was reading Anne Tyler's latest novel, A Spool of Blue Thread. 

I love Anne  Tyler's  novels, and have read them all. She writes beautifully, describing the small lives of ordinary people, and her observations are always both acute and accurate. In this novel, I came across a little sentence that rang so many bells: "a mother is only as happy as the least happy of her children". Nothing earth-shattering; not especially brilliant prose; but (for me, at least) so true. For at any given time, I too am only as happy as the least happy of my children.

That's not to say that my family are any less happy than anyone else's (or, come to that,  that I spend all my time fretting about them), but as in all families, there's usually someone with a problem, and sometime it's a big one. And that child, and that problem, are at the forefront of my mind for as long as it takes (not always one child or one problem, either).

Do you have any quotations that have stayed with you, as this one has with me?