Sunday 31 December 2017

The truth about feathers

When a little white  feather emerged from a cushion, my grandson and I fell to discussing its provenance. And I, for one, almost wish we hadn't. Apparently, feathers are obtained in three ways. Firstly, they come from dead birds. Secondly, they are "gathered" by grooming the birds (pretty roughly, by the sound of it). But worst of all, and this happens on a grand scale, they are plucked from live birds, often tearing the skin so badly that it has to be stitched (no anaesthetic, needless to say). Then when the feathers grow again, the whole process is repeated. Cyclical torture for the birds involved.

I was appalled, and also ashamed that I had never even questioned the origins of the feathers in our pillows, cushions and duvets. How can we check what is inside cushions when we buy them, and whether the welfare of the birds who provided them has been given any consideration? Do vegetarians use down-filled pillows? Am I the only person who didn't  know all this? And why is there no campaigning against this awful practice? Thoughts, please.

Saturday 23 December 2017

Happy Christmas... everyone who reads this, and  to all writers especially, a very inspired and successful new year.
    (This wreath was crocheted by my amazing daughter-in-law.)

Sunday 17 December 2017

Seasonal celebrity overkill

Am I the only person who doesn't need or want "celebrities" at Christmas? Every single TV programme seems to be dominated by them, and I haven't even heard of most of them. Let's hear it for ordinary, normal people for a change. As for the so called celebrities, I think we should bag them all up and send them into the Australain jungle for good. They can chew kangaroos' testicles and steep themselves in mealy worms and entertain each other, and we ordinary mortals can get on with our lives unimpeded.

There! I feel better now.

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Lessons learnt during rail travel. No. 2

As one or two people may know, I recently posted here about an unfortunate experience getting on the wrong train. From this, I learnt the valuable lesson: if your train leaves early, YOU'RE ON THE WRONG TRAIN.

Well, I've just done it again. And learnt a second valuable lesson: if you have booked seat no. 49 in carriage B, and carriage B doesn't have a seat 49, you're also ON THE WRONG TRAIN.

In both cases, I  didn't  realise my mistake until the train had got going. Someone has helpfully pointed out that these things always happen in threes, so I eagerly await lesson no. 3.

Suggestions, anyone?

Tuesday 5 December 2017

The joy of giving?

I love buying presents. I love looking for, and I hope finding, the right present, wrapping it nicely, and it being A SURPRISE. But this doesn't happen any more. What happens is lists, like wedding present lists, and conversations that go like this (Mabel is nearly at the end of her shopping, her tether and this conversation. Mabel is On Tablets):

Mabel: so I'm  giving Giles the train and Ebony the Lego?
Josephine: no, no! He's getting the train from Auntie Loo, and Ebony isn't into Lego any more.
Mabel: then what would Ebony like?
Josephine: The doll that pees and sh**s  (there is such a thing. My daughter was given one long before she had babies that also p.......oh, never mind)
Mabel: but...oh dear... then what can I get for Giles?
Josephine: the sit-on Ferrari? (Mabel can't afford the Ferrari, so she goes out and shoots herself. Problem solved.)

I know lists are probably easier, because eventually Giles will get his Ferrari and Ebony her revolting doll. But I feel for poor Mabel. Sadly, unlike her, I don't have a pistol.

(And if any of my family read this, please don't take offence. I just wanted to give you a SURPRISE, even if you didn't need one.)

Friday 1 December 2017

An interview with the "Knicker Lady"

For fun, I'm going to conduct two or three interview with interesting older women in unusual jobs. Where better to start than from, as it were, the bottom? Enter Rosemary Hawthorne, aka "The Knicker Lady". Rosemary is wife to a retired vicar, mother of seven, and grandmother of many more. She talks about knickers.

Me: how did this all start?

Rosemary: I went to RADA and trained as an actress, but married young, and gave up acting to start a family. I started off with an interest in "top" clothes and was always fascinated by clothes and costume - the way they develop character and tell a  story. Clothes are not only practical; they can also be entertainment. I started to collect costumes when I was stuck at home with the kids.

Me: and the talks?

Rosemary: while the children were still small and money was short, I was asked to give a talk on clothes generally. I was paid £8.

Me: and the knickers?

Rosemary: I gave more talks, and started to show a few bits from my collection of underwear. I discovered that this made the audience laugh, and that's where it all started. Someone suggested that I ought to write a book about knickers, and this was published as A Brief History of Unmentionables. There was insufficient publicity, and the book didn't sell until it was reissued - with extensive editing - by a new publisher, this time as "Knickers. An Intimate Appraisal." This was a huge success. The vicars/knickers thing helped, of course.

Me: and then?

Rosemary: I was invited everywhere: the North, Wales, South coast - you name it. I've spoken to Rotary Clubs, as after-dinner speaker, to magistrates, all-male, mixed groups - you name it. I must have given several hundred talks. And after my husband retired, I did some theatre tours as well.

Me: what is it about knickers?

Rosemary: they're funny, just a bit naughty. I have to keep it fun; entertain, but not shock; put in a bit of history.

Me: and your collection of knickers?

Rosemary: I found that I needed to have "actuals" rather than, for example, slides. Real knickers. I've now got between 300-400 pairs, including Queen Victoria's knickers. The talks work for groups of mixed ages and sexes, and make very good ice-breakers.

Me: what's the most embarrassing question you've been asked?

Rosemary (sighing): someone always asks what knickers I'm wearing.

Me: and your reply?

Rosemary (laughs): clean ones!

Take it from me, Rosemary's talks are brilliant, and very funny. To see this beautiful, very petite figure flitting about a stage waving a pair of bloomers twice her size is something not to be missed.

Here you can see Rosemary in action.