Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean it's not true.
On Monday night 'the girls' took me out to celebrate my big birthday. When the eight of us arrived in two taxis at the restaurant they persuaded me to enter first.
Aware they were about to spring a surprise of some sort I entered slightly warily, The corner table was set for 8 with a string of 6 helium balloons in the centre and one larger one with "Happy 80th Birthday " was tied to the back of 'my' chair.
Little glittering sparkling tinsely bits were strewn over the table top and there was a little box with a small cuddly bear in front of my chair.
To cut a long story short it was a wonderful evening. Lovely food, good wine, lots of happy chat and quite a volume of noise.
Luckily being Monday, it was a quiet night for the restaurant and we had the place pretty much to ourselves.
During the evening more little gifts manifested themselves and at exactly the time of my birth 80 years earlier a cake with a sparkling 80 on top was brought in with the waiter joining in singing the inevitable Happy Birthday .
Three hours later as we gathered up bits and pieces to leave they insisted I was to take the balloons home. Six smaller ones went in the 'other' taxi, and they had tied 'Mummy' balloon to my wrist so I wouldn't leave her behind.
They all came back to my house for a brief final tot of Tokaij (a bottle I had been keeping for years) and I had a box of chocolates ready as a final mouthful.
They had stood the balloons on their heavy base in one place and I set the big one just behind them.
After they had gone I tidied up washing glasses etc., gave a look round said 'goodnight' to the balloons and went to bed.
Next morning as I left for St Mary's they were all standing just as they had been so with a muttered 'bye', off I went.
Returning at lunchtime to my surprise 'Mummy' was standing in her place but the other six were all sitting on the floor in front of the TV.
I have no idea what they had been watching but I ignored them all and went to get lunch ready.
As usual I brought in my tray, sat in my chair, feet on footstool and switched on the TV just in time for the last bit of "Loose Women".
One of the six balloons raised its head about a foot (affected I suppose by the heat from the TV) and effectively blocked my view.
Tutting I found myself saying "you can't sit there I can't see through you", and I picked up all six of them and dumped them on the sofa out of the way.
Since then they haven't moved (at least, not while I was there), and (Mummy) is still where she was.
The only change is that the six are a little smaller.
Nobody warned me that balloons have personalities.
PS I have put some pictures of them onto my computer but couldn't manage to up;load them for this blog.
Thursday, 19 March 2015
Sunday, 15 March 2015
I took along a box of chocolates for the choir this morning with strict instructions (not until after the service) mainly aimed at the 'mice'.
The secret is well and truly out so no point in denying the fact that I am now officially old.
The look of fascinated horror on the faces of some of the mice "how can anyone be so old and still in a choir?" is one I have become used to.
The usual "you are fantastic for your age" while taken with the usual ton of salt is also rather annoying.
My mother who reached the age of 103 was incensed by the heaps of congratulations she received whenever her great 'achievement' was mentioned. Neither she nor I understand why ageing without total collapse of all faculties is a source of astonishment for so many people.
After all the only thing you have to do to receive all these accolades is to keep breathing.
That brief tirade over, I am having the birthday of a lifetime.
Presents from all kinds of people are appearing on my doorstep, through the letterbox, in the post etc.
This is something of which I have no previous experience and it is lovely, if slightly alarming.
Everything is remaining unopened until tomorrow - despite the fact that one item was presented to me a month early. So tomorrow will be very busy.
The 'girls' are taking me out to dinner tomorrow night to my favourite restaurant and have been heaping gifts on me for days.
With a long lifetime of birthdays passing almost unnoticed in the main to this is quite a step.
That said, I still have and sometimes wear a silver ring given me by my best friend on my 21st and also a little sawdust stuffed cat given me by my then boy-friend.
I love and value both of these things but am nor accustomed to being drowned in gifts.
As I said, lovely, but a little alarming.
Roll on tomorrow.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 4:49:00 pm
Friday, 27 February 2015
Had John still been here we would, as usual, have had a long debate about whether we 'needed' to celebrate it by going our for a meal or something similar.
Not one of the world's great romantics, John would have quite happily forgotten all about it, along with every other anniversary had I not been a part of the occasion.
In the 38 (and a half) years we were married I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times he spontaneously bought me flowers or gave me a card. Yet I made a big thing of every one as a way of balancing my past life.
From a family which - just about - managed to celebrate birthdays and made nothing whatever of other events I grew up neither expecting nor wanting lots of 'jollies'. This changed when I got into my early twenties when for some reason the dormant romantic in my soul began to emerge,
A series of boy-friends who did the meal and flowers thing made me realise my own approach which bordered on indifference, was not the normal one.
Even today when my lovely neighbours are nagging me to say what I would like to do on my birthday in a couple of weeks, I would much rather do nothing at all and let the inevitable happen with no input from me.
In my mid-twenties I began to take flowers to my mother and give them a card to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Later John and I would take them out for a drink or a meal if we were in the same area of their 'day'.
Both parents were at first slightly bemused, then gradually became more accepting of our 'strange' ways.
Despite thinking their anniversary worth celebrating somehow John never quite caught on to the idea that ours might be worth a raised glass too.
When I read about the wildly extravagant manner in which some, usually young, couples mark the fact that they have been married for 3, 4 or even 5 years, I can't help wondering where we went wrong.
When is an anniversary not an anniversary? When one half of the couple has 'bowed out' of the dance.Happy Anniversary John.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 12:35:00 pm
Monday, 23 February 2015
Thursday, 19 February 2015
Since it is half-term the choir was down to less than half its full complement, but the sound we made gave no indication of that.
We sang "View me Lord" with one or two slight changes to our previous renditions, long pauses between some of the phrases etc. Accurately and sensitively sung by our half choir.
Lead and conducted by our young organist (the musical director/choir coach was otherwise engaged) the sound was, in my opinion, probably the best we have ever produced.
The homily was well rounded (if a little long) and the 'ashing' itself very well executed.
This is the fifth time I have experienced this somewhat eccentric seeming ritual, and the first time I have ever had what was a real cross, rather than a dubious daub placed on my unsuspecting forehead.
One year, our previous much-loved incumbent, either intentionally or accidentally made what looked very much like a question mark on my face. (control yourselves please), and I couldn't wait to wash it off.
Lent for me is a time for quiet reflection, a reviewing of the past year and a resolve to make the next one better.
Yes, like half the population I do give up chocolate but that is only a very small part of this solemn time. A chance to consider dropping other self-indulgent habits and to take small, positive steps on the journey to Easter.
For us this year at St Mary's has been full of big changes and the last 8 weeks or so very challenging with no less than 6 deaths in our wider church family, including the shocking one of a young priest in a neighbouring church.
Moods have swung from sadness, through acceptance to finally, hope, and the community as a whole has drawn closer to each other.
Our new incumbent is striving to support and uphold those most in need and at the same time to establish a forward-looking church. Hard for him and quite hard for us too.
Altogether a different Lent.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 12:41:00 pm
Thursday, 12 February 2015
Monday, 2 February 2015
This is, or was when I worked for them, a regular occurrence - lease ran out, new rent too high - find another building.
Having a final look round to see that nothing had been left behind I spotted a sad, forlorn, dryish looking variegated Tradescantia sitting miserably on the window sill of an empty room.
Knowing that the building would be likely to remain unoccupied for a very long time, I took pity on it and took it home with me.
Now at that time I quite fancied my chances as a gardener, unlike these days, but had an Achilles heel. Namely, pot plants.
Many people who knew I loved gardens and gardening thought, wrongly, that I also loved pot plants.
Not only could nothing have been further from the truth but, if anyone was unwise enough to make me a present of one, they had effectively sealed its fate.
The unfortunate green thing would take one look at me and die. No matter how much care I took of it, its days were numbered.
This extremely boring green and cream leaved specimen was watered, placed on the kitchen window sill and left to get on with it.
Every few weeks my eye would alight on it and I would guiltily give it a huge drink, then forget it again.
About two years later I noticed it was looking a bit brown and crinkly so removed all the dead leaves
re-potted it in a larger pot, soaked it and fed it a few drops of Baby Bio which had somehow been left over from a previous attempt to save something.
To my surprise it flourished, the green was greener and the cream creamier and it was growing.
After that it got a 'haircut' about every 6 months or so and somewhere down the line was re-potted again.
A half-hour ago I realised that it was sitting green and relatively healthy on the window sill where it has lived for twenty-three years.
It is totally pot-bound almost compost-less and yet it still flourishes.
I have heard of plants which thrive on neglect, but this is just plain ridiculous. At this rate it will outlive me.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 10:40:00 pm