Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2014 - A year when no blog post will carry a picture which relates to it in any way.

Strange sort of title isn't it?

Well no matter what this next year brings, I will continue to post on matters of major importance, minor importance and absolutely no importance at all.

And, I shall endeavour to see to it that no picture relates to the text.

Furthermore, as you may have already noticed, I shall try to ignore all the basic rules of good grammatical writing.

For me, this will come as a welcome relief because it will mean that I need take no care over choosing the right word, phrase or even sentence.

I will try to write only what strikes me as of interest, not necessarily what I think will be of interest to others.

In this way, I can enjoy a sort of anarchy while still getting my 'message' out there.

Does this sound selfish?  Well, it is.

Does this sound as though I have finally 'lost it'?  Well it could be argued that I never had it in the first place.

Does it sound as if I have been drinking.  Well, it does, but I haven't.

No I know it isn't April the 1st in an hour or so, it is merely the beginning of yet another January.

The bomb-like bangs and crashes of the (several) hours of fireworks out in the local area are driving me mad, so this is a sort of escape from the bombardment.

On a serious level, I hope and pray all of us, you and I will have a much better 2014 than we did 2013, and that a healthy happy new year will be ours (yours and mine)

Happy New Year.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

A Cracking Christmas

Having slumped into collapse mode after returning from church yesterday morning, I dismissed all thought of cooking a meal, had a hot chocolate and spent most of the day simply lounging about.

Midnight Mass (in bed by 2.00am up again four hours later, followed by grey-faced Christmas morning service had sapped my lowish energy and all I could think of was sleep.

There have been many services extra to the normal ones, nuch singing, lots of travelling by taxi (no other transport available) and the usual half joyous - half-knackered, run up to the big day.

All that finally over I decided to cook in the evening and watch scads of TV.

Half way through "Downton", there was a loud, gun-shot-like crack and a lump of glass shot by me to land on the carpet in front of me.  The last remains of my Advent candle had over-heated the glass candlestick and was still burning in the remaining half on the cabinet behind me.

A few years ago I would have loudly bemoaned the loss of one of a pair of Art Deco frosted glass candlesticks which John and I had bought some thirty years ago, but after a sighed "oh what a pity", I simply blew out the remaining candle stump, picked up (gingerly) the glass from the floor and thought 'I'll vacuum up the remainder in the morning.

Ten minutes later happily watching the 'meerkat' ad which has baby 'Oleg' found on Mr Alexander's doorstep being eagerly claimed by lovely old Sergei, I had returned to Downton and forgotten about the glass missile.

Until I lost John, 'things' played a significant part in my life.  These days my perspective has changed and the inanimate are resuming their true place.

Once upon a time I worried about what was going to happen to my 'valuables' after my death, nowadays I know that the life which preceded that death is what matters.

Just a Christmas reflection.


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Well it amused me

I hope I have discovered how to do this - click to watch/listen.

My step-grandson showed me how briefly last week, and it is just possible I may have it right.

Well. here goes nothing.  Enjoy!

Monday, 16 December 2013

Peter O'Toole

A hasty but heartfelt tribute to the late, great Peter O'Toole.  He was the hero of all my teen-dreams,

His performance in Becket being in my opinion his greatest, his was a dazzling and many angled career, always dogged by (mainly true) stories of his over-the-top off-screen behaviour.

He had a somewhat savage wit, sparkling intellect and a flamboyant turn of phrase.

Anyone who has never seen his performance in The Lion in Winter should grab any chance to do so, and even some of his minor parts were characterised by extraordinary portrayals, for instance his Captain Cat in the filmed version of Under Milk Wood.

Added to all that was his physical beauty, lean and long and blue-eyed, the perfect matinee idol;.

Rest in peace Peter.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Viewing the inside of my eyelids

Once more riding the insomniacs' train, and as ever, looking more inward than out, I thought I'd share my witless wanderings with you.

You'll often have heard the expression "too tired to sleep".  Sounds like rubbish doesn't it?, but, there comes a time when weary from a busy day or evening when it makes sense to go to bed if only to recharge the batteries.

You read for a while, even an hour or so if it's a good book. (Mine isn't).

Then you settle, light off, to sleep.

What  is that blasted tune running round on a loop in your head.?
It was something from the huge list of Christmas music the choir was working through this evening.  Knowing only the alto part doesn't help.

Why is the room so light, get out and look out of the window.  Oh, a full (or nearly full) moon.  Something scuttling along in the kerb over the road.  Just a cat chasing a leaf.

What is that noise?  Sounds like a traction engine, just some sort of drive wheel working the mechanism of the sewage works.  Don't think too much about it.

Plaster my itching face with a shedload of Oilatum, thick and gooey yuk!

Shall I make some tea?   No.  If I do I'll be hopping in and out of bed all night to the loo.  Why does that matter if I'm not in bed, not sleepy?   Well I might be in a few minutes/

If there is anything prettier than red swollen, thick-skinned eye-lids it's red swollen thick-skinned eye-lids with large black bags under them.  It's a good job I no longer care how awful I look, only how awful I feel.

This eczema is never going to get better, I feel it in my bones.  Well I would if they were not so well padded.

What I really love is when a complete stranger, a cashier in a supermarket for instance, says "What have you done to your face"?

"Boiled it in caustic soda" I want to reply, but "it's just eczema" I say.

JUST eczema!!!!

Sorry, time to end this before it becomes a rant.

Bon soir.  More anon.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Up close and personal.

Why is there a vertical meerkat on my blog?  No idea really, he is one of the few images from my 'collection' which blogger will allow me to access.

I know it would help if I had even half a clue how the retrieval system works, but I don't , hence the meerkat.

Peering out of the window to allow some cool/cold air to ease my itching face I spotted a massive bird outlined against the winter sky on a tree about 100 yards away.

As I tried to photograph him (too far away, camera not good enough) I realised it was a red kite.  Have never seen one roosting before.

He spotted me and with a huge swoop headed this way.

I hastily ducked my head back inside and shut the window - he is big!

He flew over the rooftop and away and briefly blacked out the sky in the immediate vicinity.

Have never seen one so close before and really had no idea just how massive a wing-span they have.

Perhaps he has never seen anyone with eczema before and wanted a closer look.

There are fewer birds than usual in my tiny grotty (fermented bird-seed don't ask), garden so apart from the odd pied wagtail, reed-bunting and the usual suspects, rare creatures tend to get my attention.

The sun is shining.  It is mild and not a bit like December so the normal customers for my largesse are few and far between and I really should be outside cleaning up the mess, but, as usual am doing everything I can think of to avoid work.

The usual extra vocal work for all the additional church services is taking its toll and leisure time is becoming scarce so any excuse.....

Yes I do know fermented bird seed is poisonous to most small birds so I will go out now and clean up, honestly, any minute.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Seeking the sandman

To sleep, perchance to dream......

If only!

For the past two hours unable to sleep yet again, I have been reading (awful confession), my old blogs.

Right from the earliest up to date has been quite enlightening.

Sometimes (not often), I write a post and feel pleased with what I've said, and  even better, when it gets a good response feel that my self-congratulation is justified.

Reading them all in succession has given me a rather different impression and I can now see all too plainly just how many words have been used over a period of 3 years to say absolutely nothing.

Something my friend and fellow blogger The Vernacular Vicar has said from time to time, is writing for the sake of writing is not good practice.

He is right.

For every 'gem' I think I may have spotted among the almost 400 posts, there are at least 20 or more examples of 'verbal diarrhoea'.

While it has proved possible to spot the odd touch of cynical humour in some of the better written ones, there is a distinct lack of that ingredient in most of the more recent ones.

Thinking about it, has made me realise that lack of humour and of any lightness of touch appears to be a feature of posts written while under the cloud of depression, as also is the long gaps between posts.

Not sure that 2.30 am is the best time to be researching this but it has been quite enlightening to discover patterns among the posts.

While it is true that I never read my posts before publishing them, I've always thought I edited them as I wrote and that nothing I did not want to reveal would ever appear in a post.  This I now find is not quite true.
Rather more of my state of mind at the time of writing than i ever intended has been disclosed.

Not sure where I'm going with this, but I think what I'm trying to say is that at least my opinion that I write as a form of therapy is vindicated.

In a life which lacks close friends the blog is as good a way as any of relieving some of the tensions and sharing some of the pleasures of that life.

We all need some outlet for our angst, joys, pains and tribulations.  Blogging is mine.


Saturday, 9 November 2013

Emerging from the Slough of Despond

The two images above are the best I could find from my limited collection, to illustrate this post.

First of all (in case anyone had noticed), apologies for my lengthy absence from blogging.

This was due in the main to a very severe attack of eczema on my face and neck which was hard to live with but is now on the wane, despite having migrated to my arms.

Additionally I have been wrestling with my household demons again.  This time the water tank in the loft which has been overflowing for a week.

Too long and boring a story to relate here, but time-consuming and anxiety making.

These days I find that things which were fairly minor upsets in days of yore, tend to take over my life and control my moods.  Petty I know, but true.

Last evening I went to my first choir practice for a month (from 6.30 until 8.45pm) Hard work since it is for 3 services in the next 48 hours, but very very enjoyable after a long 'drought'.

Today is our 'Close' fireworks party and looking gloomily at the pouring rain I decided to watch some of the TV Lord Mayor's Show.

Only dipping in and out of it as I go about my household chores I was lucky enough to catch sight of one of the most treasured memories of my childhood - a giant steam-roller (Society of Paviors) trundling through the streets of the city.

Oh the nostalgia!

I well remember dozens of small children including my brothers and I, trailing after the massive, wonderful smelly monsters as they miraculously tarred and rolled the roads.  The steam hissing the noise of the giant rolling along and the gorgeous heady small of hot tar.

On rare occasions, some lucky small person would be plucked from the pavement and lifted aloft for a ride on the monster.  (I know, health and Safety would have a fit), and the rest of us green with envy would rush alongside yelling "me, me".

Tomorrow after our own trunkated service at St M's, we will process in our choir robes down to the market square and as usual take part in the Civic Remembrance Service.  This year joining forces with Aylesbury Vale Choir so the resultant sound should be well worth hearing.

Our practice with them went swimmingly as did the one with the Head of Music from a local school who will be holding his annual Remembrance Service on Monday evening in the church.

Busy once again.  Praise be!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

One to frighten the kids with

This is a poor picture of my eczema covered face.

It gives only the tiniest impression of just how horrible I look at present.

I have had bouts of eczema all my adult life, some fairly mild, most not so mild and on various parts of my body.  The most severe has seen me hospitalized on three separate occasions, but none for the intensity of the itching has ever come close to this latest attack on my eye-lids and face and neck.

Stopping yourself from scratching is virtually impossible and of course, the the itch is scratched the worse it becomes and the swelling of the area  grows to gigantic proportions.

This has been going on for nearly three weeks (hence the lapse in blogging) and has twice improved enough to let me put in an appearance in the parish office, but each time it returns it is more severe and is now so bad that I am ashamed to be seen.

Needing to shop this morning and faced with a red swollen face with huge folds hanging over small reptilian eyes I decided to go as soon as the shops were open in order to meet as few people as possible.

Headed for Boots where I had a long talk with the pharmacist, who was most helpful and pointed me in the direction of some oil-based treatments which she thought would be more useful than anything I was currently using.  I then went to the opticians section where I bought the biggest pair of sun glasses I could find and put them on.

I hastily shopped in a nearby supermarket and got a taxi home.

Have washed my face in the recommended product and slathered the cream all over my face and neck and now look like an albino reptile rather than a red one.

The itching is still there but I will persevere with this treatment while once again failing to appear in church  tomorrow, having also failed to go to choir practice.

I am not yet ready to walk under a bus, but the time is rapidly approaching.
I

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Ageing - When is it alright to admit to being OLD?

This is a frequently revisited question but sadly, I think I know the answer.

Never one to willingly admit to being old (not the same thing as admitting my age), I feel the time is approaching when it will be necessary for my own survival to say openly "I am quite old and need a bit of help".

Yesterday shopping in town I left M & S to cross the High Street, three heavy bags in hand and made the fatal error of not heading for a taxi.  Instead I passed half a dozen of them on my determined way to the bus stop.

The bus in question was a small single-decker with only a few (already occupied) seats at the front, and the rear seats were up a couple of steps.  By now my arms were aching and it was a struggle to get to the seat.

Arrived at my stop, having to reverse the procedure and climb back down to the front I dropped one bag, had to stop, holding up the bus while I gathered it - and my wits - together and started the walk home.

This is a mere eighth of a mile or so yet, by the time I reached my doorstep my arms were nearly pulled out of their sockets and my back was aching abominably.

Dropping the bags into an armchair I fell into another one and sat for 10 minutes before I could face putting everything away.

By then my back was so painful I could hardly move and I abandoned all attempt to do anything else but lie down and rest.

Later I phoned to apologise for my non appearance at choir rehearsal, feeling a total twit.

This morning I spent half an hour doing a bit of dead-heading and light pruning in the front garden, a job which even two years ago would have taken me five minutes.

Glumly returning indoors to start cleaning the house, I suddenly realised, this is what getting old is about.

Not looking despondently in a mirror wishing one's youthful face to appear, rather than a lined, drooping sagging old wreck.  Not even looking wistfully at young slim women and thinking "I used to look like/better than, that".  Not even waiting in vain for an appreciative wolf-whistle as in days of yore.

No, old age is about not being able or even wanting to do the everyday tasks which were tackled so lightly and unheedingly only months? well years ago.

Unfortunately the human body does not arrive complete with repair kit and spare parts, so the wearing-out process takes its toll.

Many people I know are far less able than I to go about their everyday business without aid, and I am grateful for my own reasonably good health and strength, but oh dear, the time is arriving when asking, paying for assistance for even simple little things will  be the stuff of life and I do not relish the thought.

So, back to my original question.   When is it alright to admit to being O L D?

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Not Again

This rather odd-coloured peacock butterfly is not what this post is about, but I thought if I used the picture it might lure in the readers who share my hatred of the 'real' subject.

Along with late butterflies my Buddlieas are playing host to a whole army of spiders.

For weeks now I have been feather duster armed evicting the wiry thin long-legged ones from the house but am being assailed on all sides by their horrid cousins.

On Monday this week the parish administrator leant over the back of the office sofa to put something behind it and retreated hastily, having seen a large black beast lurking in a box.

Yelling for the caretaker (and she can yell), she and I, left the office at speed.

A few minutes later, another volunteer braver than either of us, had picked up the box and dropped its inhabitant outside in the churchyard.

This morning at the bus stop, it was drizzling so I was well under its roof until I suddenly found an absailing arachnid in front of my face.  Luckily the bus came so I beat a hasty retreat, shuddering.

Half way through the morning, there was a yell from the bookkeepers office upstairs and she ran down the stairs closing her office door first and also shouting for the caretaker.

By the time he had made his unhurried appearance there was no sign of the invader and we all spent the remainder of the morning looking nervously around before touching anything.

Since it is Harvest Festival this coming Sunday and we are slowly gathering a mountain of donated goodies in the office in preparation for displaying them at the service, I am treading very warily around bags and boxes only too aware that their contents may contain the odd surprise.

What is it about this season that produces the desire for confrontation in the (hearts?) of this eight-legged brigade of nasties?

Why can't they just go about their arachnid affairs without the need for face-to-face tactics?

Why am I such a wimp?

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Michaelmas Day

After a really lovely St Michael's Day service this morning.  Good sermon, readings and singing.  We sang Cantate Domino very well indeed and finished the service quite pleased with ourselves.

It was a really beautiful day, the sort of day I feel should always mark this very important Saints Day.

The sun was too warm and inviting to ignore so I set about cutting back some of the Hibiscus and Buddleia  (avoiding that which was still blooming).

I became aware after a few minutes that there was a collared dove sitting a couple of feet from me on a Buddleia stump,  quietly eyeing my activities without fear or any apparent desire to fly.  So I went back into the house and collected my camera, sure that he would take off in a panic.

To my amazement he just sat there and let me get quite close before closing his eyes and settling down for a snooze.

When I had had enough and needed my coffee - around 1.30pm - he was still sitting there but flew off as I shut the back door.

The picture is not all that good but it is possible to see that my Michaelmas visitor was very relaxed.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

When is it Right to Interfere?

Waiting for the taxi to  take me to church this morning, sitting on the arm of a chair in the front window (I know, yet another bad habit), I found myself watching that least favourite of mine, a spider in the hibiscus making a very ornate web.

Despite myself, I found myself admiring the painstaking work going in to the web, and also the patience of this ghastly unfavourite creature.

Quite without any warning a huge bumble bee suddenly got caught and without a second's thought I leapt out of the house, whizzed my hands round and round the captured creature which was hanging helplessly by now and as it dropped to a lower branch of the shrub I pulled away a further thread.

Back in the house I could no longer see the bee but the spider was steadily working on its repairs, ready for the next unfortunate victim and I wondered guiltily if a, I had any right to interfere, b, whether the bee had survived, and last but not least, just how far human intervention should go.

Take this a step further and we are faced with situations like the one reported last week of the poor starved and tortured little boy who died so tragically at the hands of his own mother.

"Unthinkable", "How could anyone do that to a small helpless soul"  "Why didn't someone do something"?
Well the failures of all the individuals concerned, school, social workers, G. P. , are well documented and not for the first time, but this begs the question, why?

Surely not all those listed who saw various aspects of this child's ill-treatment, were afraid to interfere, somehow assuming that 'someone else' would report what they saw.

Is there then a culture of 'minding ones own business', to the exclusion of everything and everyone else?

How do journalists and photographers who go to film and record accidents, atrocities, violence on any scale, somehow contrive to reflect what is happening without becoming involved?

When does intervention become interference and what is it that prevents good, normal, kindly people from taking that step over the line.  Is it fear, indifference (surely not), embarrassment, I don't know, but there are serious questions here.  Does anyone have answers?




Thursday, 19 September 2013

An Embarrassment of Riches

Sometimes life is just so quiet, so boring, so .........uninterrupted that I need noise to reassure myself that I'm still here.

Other days are like today.

Normally Thursday is a household chores, odds and ends day and I see and hear no-one but the TV.

This morning washing in machine, paper-work well organised and coffee beckoning I thought.   "Two months or so since I last had contact with my brothers (I have three), wonder how they are"?

Sitting down with first coffee the phone rang - middle brother, "just wondered how you are?".

An hour later, a ring at door-bell, special delivery (shhh, a ring I had ordered via my favourite TV channel).

Lovely ring, duly admired and added to secret collection, I thought, time to resume house-work.  No, can't be bothered it can wait till tomorrow will watch "Loose Women", have lunch and relax.

Half way through the afternoon phone again - eldest brother "Long time no speak".  etc.

About three quarters of an hour later sitting in a once again silent house I thought how lovely it is to have the silence broken in such a perfect way.

We see each other very seldom my brothers and I, yet a couple of words into a telephone call and it's just like forty years ago.

Some relationships are worth cherishing even if slightly lengthy gaps link the conversations.

You can't choose your relations people say, but if I could, I'd choose the ones I have.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Goodness Gracious Me

Last week one of my neighbours gave me a large bouquet of white lilies.  She explained that she had received them with other flowers but was allergic to lilies and thought I might like them.

This was an uncomfortable moment for me.  I thanked her profusely, said how kind to think of me and took possession of the beautiful (horrible) things.

If that sounds ungrateful it is not.  I truly appreciated the thought, but wish it could have remained just that, a thought.

A lover of flowers, there is at least one exception to that and lilies are top of the list.  They are toxic to cats, every part of the lily from bulb to stem, from flower to pollen, and for this reason I dug up the ones in my garden some years ago, and never have them in the house.

Additionally, if the pollen falls on fabric it is almost impossible to remove the stain and I have twice had an 'instant colour change' to my clothes when throwing out the dead lilies from the arrangements in the church.

Lilies are just the tip of the iceberg though.

Constitutionally incapable of refusing something (unwanted), when offered in genuine kindness, I feel I need to learn how to refuse graciously and so as not to cause offence.

Someone I rather dislike asked me to have a coffee with them a couple of weeks ago and I was on that occasion able to say honestly that I had a prior engagement and had to run.

For once, I remembered not to say "but another time perhaps".  A fatal mistake and one which will return to bite you on the bum if you make it.

Since John's death I have made the acquaintance of the local bus and taxi services so well that I now have a well-organised network of transport for most of my needs, however, I am grateful for the occasional offer of a lift.

Unfortunately it seems that on the rare occasions when it is comfortably warm and sunny (not hot and humid), and I stroll out of the house early heading for the bus stop in plenty of time in order to enjoy the lovely weather, one or other of my neighbours will stop and offer me a lift.

Unable to refuse, I thank them and arrive before the door is open at my destination, wishing I knew how to say, "no thanks, I'd really like to enjoy the air for a while".

Conversely, when it is freezing or pouring with rain no-one ever stops and I get where I'm going wet, cold and fed up.

Truly I am not ungrateful for unsolicited good deeds, I just wish they occasionally matched my needs.

I'm afraid I don't know how to do gracious.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

A Bird for all Seasons

I heard it first this season, last Thursday morning, the unmistakeable sad sweet little song of an Autumn robin.

This is not the first time I've written about this particular harbinger of a new season.  Yes, I know I could have said omen, but I prefer harbinger.

Many birds change their songs as the season advances, but the totally different plaintive notes of the robin are so unlike the chirpy Spring song that they always strike me with a sense of melancholy, a sort of warning of things to come.

Since the Christmas card Winter robin is such a familiar sight we tend to forget that for these little birds it is not such a jolly season,but one where they are going to have to fight for survival.

They are well equipped to fight for their share of whatever is on offer, quarrelsome, argumentative, territorial little souls, but none the less, very small and to us at least, very appealing.

This morning, thick mist covering everything, but the promise of hot sun later, I heard it again.  Sorrowful, descending notes all but drowned out by the "football rattle" clack of a massive magpie, yet still discernible
and this time, accompanied by a sighting.   One very round very red-breasted bird and one equally round but much smaller and more speckled one with just a hint of 'tomato soup' colour on its breast.

Parent and child then.

My 'oh so poetic' musings were brought to an abrupt halt, by the appearance of three of the local cats, as fine a band of desperados as  you ever did see, stalking the little family.

I flung open the window, clapped my hands and suddenly the garden was empty.

Sans cats, sans robins, sans magpie.

My good deed for the day.   Do not expect another.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

A Lovely Couple of Days

Yesterday a coachload  of us from St Mary's went to see the Induction of our lovely Fr Shane and Micaela into their positions in their new church in Surrey.

It was a really lovely service, great ceremony, great liturgy and great music (in which three of us from St M's choir took part).

We accepted the invitation to do so with alacrity since it was a chance to be 'part' of the service.

The downside, there's always one isn't there? was that by the time the coach arrived back in Aylesbury my left foot and ankle were more than twice their normal size.

I considered it worth a very little suffering in order to enjoy the happy welcoming atmosphere of the new parish.

There were a few familiar faces, one being our dear David Cloake and his wife Jo. with just a chance of a brief word.

My swollen hoof was in bed by 1.30 am and I was awake and got up by 5.20 am, so not a lot of sleep, but as another good day was in prospect baggy eyes were not important.

Today Chris our wonderful choir mistress and music director and I went up to London to be measured for new choir robes (our current ones are not the same colour as the rest of the choir) and the 'same as the rest of the choir ones are now on order - after a 2 year wait.

That done, we then went walking to see how we might fill in the next few hours and make  the most of a day in the Capital.

We found ourselves admiring the architecture of a nearby building which proved to be the 'Supreme Court' and was moreover, open to the public (free of cost) and with a cafe and loos within.

Some two hours later we emerged into the very hot sunshine having enjoyed every second in the beautiful building and decided to walk along the embankment for a while.

It is some 20 years since I last did that and I was amazed by how many things had changed.  New buildings, new monuments (the Battle of Britain one being particularly fine), and of course we watched the London Eye as it slowly turned with its cargo of tourists.

River boats were busy on the somewhat smelly waters and the Thames was more like Venice than London.

By now, we had both had about enough walking and headed back to the 'tube' then caught our train from Marylebone.

We both agreed that we had thoroughly enjoyed the day, and for me the two days were the nearest thing to a holiday I have had for about five years.

So the price, a foot like a tree trunk is a small price to pay, and anyway, I have been lying on the sofa with my feet up on cushions on the arm, so well above my head, and watching - yes - of course - the Jewellry channel.

Bliss!


Friday, 23 August 2013

Please Lord let it rain.

I  know half the country would say "mad woman, what is she talking about" but those of us who can't cope with hot humid weather and whose only sightings of rain clouds have been the ones on their way elsewhere will surely join me in supplication.

Or maybe not.

It is after all Bank Holiday weekend and we along with many others, will be having our annual BBQ in the close, so no, maybe those involved would prefer this stifling airless humid horrible heat to continue.

A housework day for me, this Thursday has seen me do a massive shop, taxi home and not one finger lifted to do any other thing.

So overwhelming is this heavy thundery heat I decided to lie down, had just drifted off to sleep when the doorbell rang.  Staggering down to open the door, eyes half-closed I was faced by two hot, red-faced lads with ladders,

"Window cleaners love", they announced.

"Oh OK" I muttered reluctantly, then hastily realising what a rare sight they were, added "you look hot, would you like a cold drink?"

Ten minutes later all windows gleaming they departed and I decided since i was thoroughly awake now to venture out the front with secateurs.

My front garden is ablaze with Hibiscus, Roses and Day Lilies, and there are literally hundreds of bees and butterflies all over those and the white Buddleia.

Funnily enough the bees buzz a bit angrily but never attempt to sting while I cut out all the brown dry tails of the Buddleia, and the butterflies do a mad dance all around my head then settle again once I move on.

Really the only insect currently causing me any problems (probably speaking too soon), is the odd wasp.

Perhaps they hate the heat too, but for whatever reason, they seem always to be in a rage and only too happy to remind you they are around.

The sky is a leaden grey-white, not a hint of blue and I think we may get a thunder storm if we are really lucky, but me, I'm going to lie down again.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Knowing Your Limitations

Early this year in a fit of insanity, (one of many), I agreed with Constantina our lovely (tame) iconographer at St. M's to do an intensive, five day course later in the year.

This last week was the week in question.

Today (11th) being the fourth anniversary of John's death I felt I wanted to be fully occupied with no time to think.   My wish was granted!

Starting at approximately 9.30 am and concluding at approximately 4.45 pm each day, the 'killer' course took over my life, well, a week of  it anyway.

For someone with no hand skills, little hand-eye co-ordination, ageing eyesight and no patience whatever, this was something of a challenge.

Those who know nothing about Iconography might be surprised to hear that this is a very exacting art form.
Combining a very very slow process of reproducing a traced image, layer by slow painful layer, then re-applying each individual detail only to once again cover it with an egg-tempera wash and starting again, seemingly from scratch, it is tiring in the extreme.

The materials used are all natural pigments, expensively ground from mineral deposits and can change the appearance of one's work in seconds if not applied with great care.

Sitting. cramped and bent over, feet in one position for hours at a time might sound easy, but at my age, and with all the usual age-related swollen feet, leg and aching back and neck problems that aged flesh is heir to lunch-time should have come as a welcome relief.

Our intrepid leader however, having first fed us right royally, had other ideas, and drove us out into the mid-day heat, leading us (Maria Von Trapp) style, on a longish safari of the surrounding area each day.

Needless to say, returning to try to paint tiny details with shaking hands and dazzled eyes only added to the (excrutiating) pleasure.

Starting and finishing with prayers each day I found myself able to (endure) enjoy the experience more easily than might have been supposed.

Each of us, and there were three (four on the last two days), had chosen a different subject to portray - I use this word deliberately, since one does not paint an Icon, but apparently 'writes' one., and the subject were enormously varied.

My choice was Joseph, husband of The Virgin Mary, deliberating on the news he had received.

The finished item is not greatly like the beautiful original, but is, I feel, my best effort to date.  Unfortunately I am even less skilled as a photographer than I am an artist so the picture does not do it justice.

A colleague, friend, and fellow (sufferer), sorry, student, took some very good pictures with her phone but I was not able to down-load them properly so will not include them here.

A good exercise in discipline, but not for the faint-hearted, I would not say for certain that I will never again attempt such a thing, but it seems unlikely.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Help My Nongue is in a Tot

Woken on yet another sweltering night from a mere half hour's sleep, by the wailing shrieking and eerie howling of neighbouring cats, I lay sweating and thinking of this evening's prior quacktice.

Aware vaguely that there was something wrong with that thought, I realised that the late lamented and much quoted Dr William Spooner and I had things in common.

It was he who when spotting his cat stuck high in a tree, called it and remarked that "it popped on its little drawers and was down in a trice".

A day or two ago I remarked to someone who was holding a long, tedious conversation with me on my doorstep that I had a "cot of poffee" waiting.

Somewhere I read a while ago of an evangelist who had "waved the Pay" for those who came after.

Why does the mind do this I wonder?  Is it aware that the body which is host to its meanderings is in need of entertainment?

Is it part of that same process which causes one to use an apparently random noun to complete an otherwise perfectly sensible sentence?

The thing which makes us say "I'm just off to catch my book", when we meant the bus to the library.

The older I get, the more aware I become that our mental 'timers' can very easily fall out of sync, so that while the conscious part of the brain is thinking one thing, the mouth - vehicle of the thought process - is doing something else entirely.

Sorry, I'm rambling.

Well it is the middle of the night.

The bed should have cooled down by now so will return and sly to treep!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Singer or the Song - The Message or the Messenger?

This morning, we at St Mary's said an emotional fare well to our much loved rector and his wife.

They jointly conducted the service their last in this church where they have 'reigned' for the past seven years.

The congregation was twice its normal size, as was the choir, who despite the stifling heat sang their hearts out.

Last night we had a farewell party in the church which was very happy, light-hearted and great fun.  Today's celebration was of a very different order.

The personal sadness I feel at their departure made singing quite difficult and many people said the same thing, which made me stop and think for a moment about how we view our clergy.

It is I suppose, natural to become attached to the person/people who lead the prayer life of the  church but when should the ties be loosened?

The five, seven, or more years spent by the average ordained minister  in his/her church are but a small step in their personal journey, and realistically, an even smaller one in the life of an eight hundred year old church.
Yet the impact each one makes leaves lasting affects on the people they serve.

We are told we are the church, and that the building and the clergy who pass through it are simply there to aid the prayerful way of life we should all strive to live, but for those of us who spend rather more than just an hour or so on a Sunday in that person's company there is the dilemma of attachment and reliance to cope with when the incumbent moves on.

My answer to the question I posed in the title of this post is, that both are equally important.  A song no matter how beautiful is nothing without a singer to interpret it, and a message with no messenger to deliver it will never be received.

When the mixture is  right you get, as we have been lucky enough to have, a solid foundation for the Christian way of life and a community with a heart.

Bless you Shane and Micaela and thank you.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Worth the effort

Uncertain whether to brave the appalling heat in order to sing at this morning's eucharist, I made up my mind at the very last minute, and I'm very glad I did.

Not only did we sing quite well despite nearly passing out with the heat, but the service was a particularly poignant one for most of us.

Next week we will say goodbye to our dear rector and his wife, today she led the service and was joined as co-celebrant and preacher by none other than our lovely late curate.  None other than David Cloake of "Vernacular Vicar" fame.

His wife and the twins were with him so it was a very happy reunion for us all.

Wondering just what to expect by way of a sermon, it was with particular pleasure for me personally, that he chose to preach on the manner in which we might all 'survive' the coming interregnum.

After listing some of the problems which might arise during this very testing time for the church he went on to point to ways in which we could steer a straight course and come out of this period strong and whole and a loving community, rather than a broken and fragmented one, as might happen.

He referred us to today's second reading Colossians 1.  1-14, and said that it contained "all we needed to know" about coming through the interregnum  intact.

There were instances of the old 'barmy' David from time to time too, I was glad to see, since half his charm is his sheer 'off the cuff' lunacy.

There were also signs of a new maturity and calm and measured approach which were very good to see.

All in all, a lovely service and despite the heat, worth making the effort to attend.

I just hope and pray we at St. Mary's will find ourselves as settled, certain and resolute as he and his family appear to be.

Now I'll go and drink my green tea with lemon slices and hide from the sun.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

It Aint Alf Ot Mum

This is a glamorised picture of the way I look (and feel).

Not a lover of hot weather, today is almost unbearable.  Somewhere in the 30's I believe.

Having shopped very very early and got a taxi home, I have done virtually nothing since starting to vacuum upstairs this morning.

The cleaner is on the stairs where, if I don't fall over it and break my neck, it will remain until it is cool enough to continue.

The eczema is just beginning to respond to treatment (after six weeks) and the garden is burning to a crisp, (will water at about 9.00 pm), the dust in the house lies undisturbed by human activity, apart from being breathed in by accident.

All the windows are open (blinds down on the sunny side) and the pong from barbeques is beginning.

At present, I am not looking forward to tomorrow's Eucharist (robed and surpliced) with anything other than dread, despite the fact that our lately (2 years ago) departed curate is returning to preach on what is almost the last Sunday our dear rector will be still with us at St. M's.

Looking forward to seeing (and hearing) David, but already shrinking at the thought of the heat of the choir robes.

If a large puddle emerges from the choir stalls and runs out of the church under the door, I will have melted.!

More later.

Or possibly not.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Is Dermatology the poor relation of our health service.


I am deliberately not putting a picture on this post since for  those who wish to peruse gruesome photos of bad cases of eczema there is a huge art gallery available under Google images.

Like so many others who have asthma and allergic rhinitis, I also have eczema.

For the last couple of weeks I have been tearing my arm to pieces, making  it worse each time, yet unable to stop myself.

If this sounds like the sort of behaviour which deserves a "stop scratching, you're your own worst enemy" response, then you are probably not a sufferer.

There is a point at the most extreme stage of an attack when the almost overwhelming desire to scratch until you bleed pushes all other considerations from your head.

So far as I'm aware there is no effective treatment for this condition.

Over a period of more than 40 years I have seen consultants in four different hospitals, at least three GP's and even tried homeopathic and herbal remedies.

Nothing works.

For a number of years I used all the Cortisone based creams recommended with no success, and sometimes with increasing symptoms.  The last time I had a series of allergy tests they found that one of the things to  which I reacted very strongly was....Cortisone!

They insisted for years that I use Aqueous Cream which for me did nothing but seal in the heat, thus increasing the itching and leave a greasy layer very difficult to remove on sinks baths etc.

In desperation when all else fails and the itching is at its worst, I put the hand, foot, arm or wherever it is, under a hot tap, let the water pour over it until it it almost boiling, at which point it equates with the temperature of the itching area and neutralises it.    I then have to run it under cold water to limit the damage to the skin.

Horrendous, I know.  Dangerous, most certainly, I know, but failing any successful remedy from any source whatsoever one must needs shift for oneself.

As I am already taking anti-histamines daily for hay-fever, I simply take extra every evening to help to calm the symptoms down.  This does work to a degree, but it would not be a good idea to keep increasing the dose to deal with day-time as well.

Luckily for me, this extreme level is only likely to appear every four or so years, it just happens that this, as with hay-fever, is a bad one.

Sorry to release such a miserable diatribe, but that's me, wart and all.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Brief bird-call to all Opera lovers

This week (from tomorrow evening), sees the return of my greatest favourite TV programme of all time.

It takes place for one week only every two years.

For opera and leider aficianados only, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear and see some of the very greatest voices in the world.

It has been running for 30 years and I have never missed a year.

It is of course, Cardiff Singer of the World. On BBC4 this week from 7.30 on.

If you are not an opera or leider fan this is not for you, but if you  are, please do not miss it.
I seldom wax enthusiastic about anything these days.  This magnificent programme is the exception.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Self-Medicating When the Black Dog Looms

For the past two or three weeks I have been struggling once again with the looming clouds of depression.

Trying to carry on a 'normal' way of life can be pretty difficult with black clouds hovering just out of sight and creeping daily nearer.

Luckily for me I now know the signs and do everything I can to evade the clutches of the 'enemy'.

This for me, includes taking a heftier than usual dose of St John's Wort in order to just skate on the surface rather than drown.

There is I know a huge raft of prescribed chemical medication out there for those with similar problems.  Many people find they work for them, and I'm very glad to hear that that is the case, but for me, tablets of anti-depressive drugs, no matter how effective, carry with them the not-so-well documented side effects.

In addition there is the danger of addiction.

For me the ideal treatment for any illness, of body or mind, is one manufactured from natural sources, plants and seeds and oils, rather than the much stronger synthetics manufactured by the pharmaceutical giants.

Sometimes, I know the reasons why the clouds are gathering, sometimes not, but there is a whole series of avoidance tactics I can employ and if they don't work, I then double  my daily dose of St. John's Wort.

There is a problem with all such 'natural' remedies, namely the interference of the EU with almost all the currently available supplements.

I have signed a petition in the probably vain hope of restricting their level of control, but other then that there is nothing to be done but to wait and see how much havoc they will wreak.

Meanwhile the fight goes on to side-step this latest black cloud.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Is Advertising a disincentive?

Many times in blog posts over a year or two I have remarked that advertising does not work on me.

Maybe it's just natural contrariness, a determination not to be influenced, or simply weariness with the whole process, but ad's fail to suck me  in.

Television advertising as I've said often, unless it has a quirky, or cute appeal, Meerkats, cats with thumbs, the very strange Pilgrim cheese ad, or something similar, make no impression on me and I never know what the product is that is being pushed.

Telephone cold calling rouses me to fury rather than enthusiasm and my only response is at best, indifference, at worst, rudeness.

Paper through the door is, as far as I am concerned, simply a stage on the journey to the recycling bin.

Last evening, it must have been fairly late, since I was out at choir practice and it awaited me on my return, a huge wad of leaflets had been shoved through the letter-box.

For once, since I was sitting with cuppa, I decided to look at them before binning the lot.

I was invited to sell my house - yes certainly, why hadn't  I thought of that.
I was invited to a local hair salon to have my hair coloured, highlighted and or cut, does no-one in the world still not realise that my last visit to a hairdresser was in 1975 - I cut my hair with nail-scissors, have never had it coloured nor wished to and don't care what the fashion is.
The least inviting ad of all was to take tea - lovely expression that - at a local would be posh hotel for the princely sum of thirty pounds.
I don't do posh and if I did, it would be the real thing, not an urban fake.

To top it all, for the past ten days or so I have been bombarded with phone calls from people wanting to buy the camper-van I have advertised for sale.

I don't own a camper or any other type of van.  Do not drive, have no vehicle and never advertise anything for sale.

To make it more irritating the people calling are all from the Birmingham area and when I ask where they got my number, find they are calling a different number completely, but it is apparently being transferred, either electronically or via Mars to my number.

To date I have had nine calls and am rapidly running out of patience.

I would love to live in a world where there was no advertising, but don't fancy the move (in my camper-van) to another planet.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Eureka!!!

No I haven't flipped.  That the square on the left is approximately the colour (decorated last year) of my bedroom walls is just a happy coincidence.

What I am tentatively delighted about is the fact that I managed to drag this up from my 'pictures' gallery.

I am under no illusions that I have finally got it right.  This success is pure chance and might well not work a second time, but it has for now.

The lovely kind helpful Perpetua of "Perpetually in Transit" has promised to try to help me in a day or two, and I'm pretty sure her method will be the correct one, and I shall happily adopt it (if I can), but, in the interim my tired brain has found a temporary solution.  So, all is good once more.

Choir practice this evening was a good one and even bone weary though I be, I had to try just one more time to get control of my errant lap-top.
 It is, as I have said before, possessed of a malign spirit, which thwarts my every attempt to 'educate' myself in the alien world of technology.

This time I won.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

I give up. My computer will not allow me to retrieve my photos for my blog.


Every time I try to access one of my pictures to adorn my blog the computer refuses to recognize
 the title.
I used to be able to simply type in pictures and would get the entire collection to choose from.

Now it is offering me a selection of previously used ancient unwanted pictures and I cannot view the ones I want to select.

Half the fun of posting a blog is choosing a suitable picture to illustrate it, so I am forced to concede defeat.

Every skill I half pick up lets me down at some stage and my total lack of good sound training becomes more apparent every day.

I'm sorry to have to admit defeat but this I'm afraid is the end of the road.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Elastic Time

What is a Bank Holiday to someone who has too much time on her hands?

For once, a couple of bright sunny (if not overly warm) days, this weekend has seemed endless to me.

Sang (choir requested), at a wedding on Saturday afternoon, so that was part of Saturday taken care of.

Sunday morning Trinity Sunday, (visiting clergy of course), so that was part of Sunday taken care of.

Some household chores, some paper-work, some (not much) gardening, and still more than half of Monday to go.

Most of my neighbours are away, or sunbathing out of the wind in the unusual gift of a third sunny day, and me, I'm bored.

I know I could probably tidy my scruffy self up and get a bus, (if there are any), into town and shop.  No thanks.

I could get properly scarecrow-clad and have a serious go at the garden - thinks - no thanks.

I could go and watch another load of sport-laden TV NO NO thanks.  (though I will watch the cricket for an hour this evening).

When and why did my world shrink?

How did I let myself get so totally alone?

What am I to do about it?

Don't know.

Not unhappy.   Not really lonely.  Not even very concerned.

Just bored.

Time never used to go so very slowly, was never this elastic when I had too little of it, but now it is endless.

There is real time.  There is British Summer Time, and there is Ray Time.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Time to rest

In an ideal world this is what I would be doing, picture on left, me, if only.

This morning was the final appointment in my dental nightmare saga, so was greatly looking forward to an enjoyable time (not).

In the event, it was not quite as bad as I'd expected, though the injection in my cheek and gum was nasty.

The dentist is a thoroughly nice fellow, patient and with a sense of humour so the crown in place I got out of the 'chair' and thought.  "thank heaven", no more until my next check-up.

To my surprise I found I had no more to pay, just as well since the previous visit had virtually bankrupted me, and the receptionist said, "you ought to sit for a minute, you look a bit pale, just rest a bit before you leave".

"I'm fine", I replied and headed for the bus-stop into town.

There were a couple of things I needed to buy, so after a fifteen minute wait for the bus, in a force ten gale, I did my shopping and waited for the bus home.

Ten minutes later as the bus hove into view the woman standing next to me said, "not before time, you look a bit pale love".

"I'm fine", just a tad quietly, I said.

It had begun to rain when I got off the bus so upped my speed despite slightly leaden legs and got into the house just before a torrential hail-storm.

Sat and had a cup of tea, then thought I'd have a lie down for a while.

No sooner had I begun to drift off to sleep than the phone rang.

Staggering half-dazed into the office next door picked up the phone and was greeted by, "How are you today"?.

Somehow I refrained from telling him and said no, I did not want to answer a few questions with the chance of winning £250 pounds.  "Even though I'm not selling anything" he said.

I am not interested and don't want to answer a lot of questions was my reply.

I'm afraid I put the phone down on him as he continued to try to persuade me.

Now I am not just swollen faced, very tired (and apparently pale), but also thoroughly fed up and seriously contemplating disconnecting the phone.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Live and Let Live - Good Idea?

Looking out of the window this morning I was amused to see a very large woodpidgeon balancing on the top of my round mesh peanut feeder.

He teetered back and forward, tilting first one way then another, losing his balance and trying to cling onto a tiny (compared with him) twig of holly.

The lid of this feeder was removed by an enterprising squirrel about a year ago and vanished never to reappear, so the tiny birds simply hop down inside and take what they want.

This was quite impossible for the duck-sized pigeon, and he got stuck several times trying to copy their deft feeding habits.

Eventually he realised today's menu was not going to contain peanuts and promptly turned his back on the container, lifted his tail and left his calling card.

While I got some amusement from his antics, he reminded me so much of  some human beings, who when denied what they desire, turn nasty.

Retaliation can misfire and it is not always a good idea to "give as good as you get".

It made me think of the time when living in a flat in Northwood, where we had a downstairs neighbour who played music so loudly and so often that the entire block  of nine flats echoed with the racket almost daily.

John, who was relatively long-suffering in general decided he had had enough, and using our massive (ex-Decca display room speakers (each one containing five seperate speakers), he put "Also Spracht Zarathustra" on the turntable at full volume.

It was on for only about 10 seconds but the walls trembled and when he turned it off there was total silence from downstairs.

Now I am not advocating this type of behaviour but it certainly worked.  He had made his point and never had to do so again.

Someone I was talking to yesterday has next-door neighbours who have almost daily rows at the top of their lungs and apparently using rather choice language.  This happens at all sorts of hours and she is totally fed up and doesn't know what to do about it.

I told her about John's remedy and suggested that if she didn't want to do something similar, she could perhaps 'join in', since the walls are thin, and take part in the argument.

Turning the other cheek just doesn't always work.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Spare a (million) penny/s

Once again I am on my hobby-horse, soap-box, weekly rant.

I know I promised not to write on this subject ever again, but.....

Because I live alone I have no-one to whom I may air my grievances, leaving this blog as my only recourse.

This morning I rushed to the door as an avalanche of mail crashed through the letter-box.  I was waiting for one item (still am), and found instead seven items of mail, all of them appeals.

This is not unusual as I have said many times before, I have a system in place and stick to it for the sake of retaining my sanity.

What has totally incensed me today is that four of the seven items were from the same charity.

Now perhaps no-one else thinks the way I do and maybe they believe, as does the charity in question, that four appeals in one post is not excessive, but I am at screaming point with frustration over their total lack of common sense, poor organisation and highly suspect method of fund-raising.

I have looked them up on the 'web' and they have no phone number listed (probably just to avoid this very scenario) , had there been one this diatribe would have been verbal not typed.

Just to compound the felony, I gave them a donation last month, which those of you who have read my previous posts on this subject will know, means that they will get nothing more for 3 months.

Because I support and approve of their work I have so far restrained my desire  to 'go public', but this is the last straw.

The charity in question is The Pony Sanctuary and they have received their last donation from me.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Perennial or Life-long?

It is possible I may have mentioned previously that I have the National Collection of weeds.

This is not an overstatement, maybe just a slight exaggeration, but in essence it is horribly true.

In past weeks I have fought and won the battle with some of the aforementioned, but, when it comes to the perennial type  a whole different strategy is needed.

It has always been my aim to garden organically, that is, without chemical aid wherever possible, but having won some of the small skirmishes I now find I am in the middle of a full-scale war with the daily encroaching army of brambles, elders, ground-elder, herb Robert, hairy bittercress, cleaver and worst of all, DDDandelions.

You have probably seen the ad' on TV which shows someone spraying one of the 'yellow perils' with a hand-held spray, upon which it apparently 'dies', only to jump up a few feet away, thumbing its nose and laughing its horrible little head off.

This year's display rivals anything I've ever seen before, and every patch of grape hyacinth, or hellebores, or daff's, has a blaze of custard yellow beasts wending its way between, over, around and throughout them.

Every day I pull off their heads quite ruthlessly, and every bud I can see, to no avail.  Next day another dozen are blazing away in all their fierce yellowness.

Most of them have roots which  are tangled with things I want to keep so I am restricted to trying to dig out only those which are foolish enough to stand alone.

This in itself demands Herculean strength, since the long, long tap roots appear to be aiming for Australia, and it is necessary to use a pick and wear a Davy Lamp on my head to get at them.

Having dug one out successfully, I then sting myself (did I mention nettles?) and have to put gloves on for the rest of the battle.

I've tried swearing at them, but they just put their leaves over their heads and sing loudly.

It's beginning to look as though I will just have to stay indoors and sulk till the season is over.

Did I mention, I hate yellow?

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing Like The Truth

Having watched my two favourite TV 'fixes' this evening I was once again struck, as so many times before, by the way almost every soap drama relies heavily on at least one of the main characters failing to tell the truth.

While the audience at home is silently, or in my case audibly, begging the liar to tell the truth and save the situation, the one caught up in the web of his/her own deceit gets deeper and deeper into trouble.

As a child I had what my mother described as "a very vivid imagination", which many times resulted in quite incredibly involved and elaborate tales, stories, or to be more accurate, lies.

At this great distance in time I can easily see why I found it necessary to invent and embroider situations to make them (me), more interesting, but at the time, I found myself caught up in a world of make-believe which  bore almost no relation to my real life.

It was only in my teens when, embarrassed by being found out yet again, that I finally managed to get a grip on my tale-telling propensities and started to live a real, ordinary, every-day life.

The trouble with lies is that they develop their own momentum, involving more and more people in ever-widening circles.  The first lie having to be backed up with more and more of the same until only someone with a memory like a computer could possibly remember the whole sequence.

The older I became, the less inclined to fabricate and the more I relished the (for me) unique feeling of being absolutely honest, and for the past 30 or so years I have found it totally impossible to look someone in the eye and tell a lie.

If the truth is likely to hurt, then it  is sometimes possible to avoid a direct untruth and to circumnavigate the question but, if pushed, I now always answer a direct question honestly.

It has never seemed a good idea to me to squash a child's flights of fancy, but it is certainly necessary to make some sort of differentiation between fact and fiction.

Oddly I have always blushed easily, and even when giving a painfully honest and open answer look 'guilty' from sheer embarrassment.

"Tell the truth and shame the devil", may sound like good advice, but it may be necessary to wear a mask!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Fit !!!

I am not fit.

Fit means different things to different people.  It can mean you do a daily workout at the gym, or run a couple of miles before returning home for your half a grapefruit.  It can mean that you are well, not suffering from any ailment, or, in modern parlance that you are good to look at.

People say when they see me apparently flourishing while all around me are laid low with flu, viruses, back-pains etc. "You are so fit for your age".

I've never really known what that means.  Do they think I have super powers, or a secret cupboard containing the elixir of life, or merely that I seem to escape what ails most people.?

None of the above is true, though until 10 years or so ago, I was inclined to believe it was so.

Today is very warm, and since we are told it is the last warm day for a while I decided to tackle the front garden.  Doing only a little trimming cutting weeding, the sort of thing which would have left me slightly warm but feeling OK even five years ago, I came indoors, soaked with sweat (yes, ladies do sweat, glow worms glow), back aching, feet and ankles swollen.

This was only an hour's work but felt like ten.

On my St.Mary's mornings (Mon, Tues, and Wednesday) I get off the bus at the rear of the church and have to climb what seems like Everest, a slight incline.  Since I do this at my normal Olympic speed - don't know how to slow down - by the time I get into the Parish Office I am gasping for breath.

Pitiful isn't it.?

Lazy by nature exercise is not one of my favourite activities, so it is no wonder I'm not in good condition. Is that what is meant by 'fit' or rather, in my case unfit.

Gardening has always been a pleasure for me, but, it is becoming rather more of an effort these days.

Perhaps there are fairies at the bottom of my garden, if so I'll leave some tools out for them.




Monday, 22 April 2013

Just another day at the office

This morning, doing my daily exercises, eyes half closed, (it was only 6.15), I heard a buzzing behind the window blind, moved it gingerly to one side, and there in all its glory, was the very first wasp of the season.

What I think of wasps has been written about at length, previously, but whatever we think of them, the one thing we do at our peril is ignore them.

I reached a tentative hand up to the casement latch, flung it open and waited till I was sure it would be gone, closed the window and heard, that's right, an angry buzzing.

Not a happy bunny by now, I raised the blind opened the window again and this time, looking what I was doing flicked the striped monster with a hand-towel and hastily shut the window and pulled down the blind.  After all, it was early, and I wasn't dressed.

Not an auspicious beginning to the day, but hey, what's a little trouble?

As soon as I got to St. M's I phoned the dentist to make an emergency appointment, did I say I had broken a tooth yesterday?

The ladies who count 'the money', that is the various collections from the previous week, had a huge amount of small collections plus a larger one from The Scouts' St George's Day Service yesterday, so I offered to count out one of the extra one's for them (it was all small coins) to save them from meltdown.

Ten counts and I finally got it right.  Phew!

Then the Parish Administrator gave me a lift to the dentist.  Bless her.

A forty minute wait and I was x-rayed, the tooth had a temporary filling safely in place and I was told they would remove the old (black) filling, replace it with a white one, then make a crown , also white which would  take a further two appointments.

Loving dentists as I do - a previous post will tell you how much - I reluctantly agreed, heaved a sigh of relief at leaving the 'chair' and went out  to pay.

This is an NHS dentist and I was prepared for something of a shock since crowns are not cheap, but the sum of the two further appointments will cost me a princely £276.!!!

Luckily, I have a two and a half week wait for the 1st of these treatments, so time to rob a bank then.

Some days, I find myself wishing I hadn't got up.


Monday, 15 April 2013

More Unwanted Changes

Yesterday we were dealt a body-blow during the morning's Eucharist.

Our dearly loved rector is leaving us in the summer.

This will be for him and his wife another step in his journey through the priesthood in all its splendid variety.

For us, his flock, congregation, teams of volunteers, church employees and all in the community it will be an occasion of sadness and loss.

Not yet two years since we said our goodbyes to a curate who touched many peoples hearts and whose departure is only just about beginning to be accepted and assimilated, we now have to say goodbye again to someone who has become a stable foundation at the centre of this church.

On a personal level I will miss both he and his wife who have become good friends in recent months.

I know this is a normal part of life in the Anglican church, and that for the incumbent in question is a part of his personal path to Christ, but for those of us who seem never to be able to get used to a new regime before it changes again, it is quite difficult to accept.

This is a busy, outgoing and many-faceted church and it takes a particular kind of person to sit at the helm, a position which this particular man has filled very well.

It is months before he will actually depart but the sense of loss is already beginning, along with a tiny, slight tremor of fear as to who might take his place.

Sadly those who will be most affected by this change will have no real say in the choice of replacement.

We can only wait, hope and pray.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

A New Year's Resolution - 1st step

I know it's April, but it has been a long long winter and today the New Year started in earnest for me.

This afternoon I went with a large group to the lovely Waterside theatre here in Aylesbury.

Apart from a trip with the church to a pantomime at the end of 2010, it is the first time I've been in a theatre for 44 years.

It was one of my New Years resolutions this year to start going to the theatre and the cinema again, and this was the first attempt.
The play was "The Mousetrap".  Yes I know it's entirely possible that I'm the only person in the uk who has never seen it, so it was about time.

Sorry about font don't know how it happened or how to correct it so onward and upward.

The last time I went to the theatre was in 1969 and the play was Abelard and Eloise, with Diana Rigg and Keith somebody (can't remember his name, but he was in the TV series Six Wives of Henry V111).

The last film I saw was "A Touch of Class" in about 1979/80.

My philosophy was, wait a year or so and if  it was any good it will be on TV.  This has largely worked, but of course only applies to films not theatre.

The Mousetrap was excellent, a good story and well acted and I shall be going again (to see something else that is).

Somehow being in a theatre in the daytime seems terribly decadent.

What a weird life I have been living these last forty or so years.

While I have no alarming intimations of mortality, even I realise that time is not on my side if I wan t to see all the good stuff that is out there.

We are lucky in this town to have such a beautiful modern theatre and (I'm told) a good cinema too.

We shall see.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Where can I get a cutting of the root of all evil?

This is not a subject I like talking/writing about, but I am once again forced to air it to prevent descending into madness.

In the past four days I have had my evening meal interrupted 3 times by fund-raisers from charities to which I already donate asking me to consider giving by direct debit.

Now not only do I object very strongly to being harangued (however politely) by phone and in my precious evening, feed and relax time, but the fact that they are bombarding me with requests to do what I have already refused to do, is driving me nuts.

I have written many times in this blog about my system of giving, and I always make it plain that the only way I am prepared to give is using my carefully thought out system.

This evening's caller was quite put out when I said "no, I prefer to give on a rota system and am not prepared to take on any more direct debits".

Why?

Yes, I suspect I do actually know why.  Obviously a regular commitment means it would be harder for me to refuse than an ad hoc appeal.

I pointed out that I do not have an endless supply of spare cash, nor have I access to a bank with only three walls, and the income I have is not going to increase.

Therefore, I need the freedom to be able to turn down a request should it be necessary.

So far, I have not taken this option, but times are hard, for everyone and it may happen at some time that there will be no more 'give away' cash, and I want to have that small get-out clause.

It looks as though all the charities are coming round to the same idea, have you noticed the increase of appeals for direct debit payments from the major charities on TV?

Please tell me if I am being unreasonable, and if I am not, has anyone any idea how to stop the calls?

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Another Easter (done and dusted)

Just three years ago, Easter became something very different for me from the, break from work, chocolate guzzling
lazy, self indulgent few days it had always been in times past.

To my astonishment I found myself being baptised and confirmed into a new way of looking at life.

There was nothing inherently wrong with the old way of life, after all, it was the same as many millions of other peoples' lives, but this "sea-change" wrought from the catalyst of my husband's death was, also for me, a kind of death.

Death of a life-long approach to the world and to its problems, views, prejudices and self-serving indifference to the needs of others.

Many times over the previous thirty or forty years I had tentatively approached the idea of Christianity as a way of life, but had always come to the same conclusion, namely that Christians were a particular kind of person.

My background and upbringing had taught me that religion was the single greatest stumbling block to any kind of social justice and equality, and further, that where Christianity of the Roman Catholic persuasion was concerned, was an active ingredient in maintaining the status quo in all the poorest countries of the world.

Some of these views I still adhere to today, but having accepted the basic tenet of Christ's teaching, with love at  its foundation, I have slowly, very very slowly become able. for the first time in my life, to accept every person I meet, as a potential friend.

Such an idea would have been anathema to my former 'self', viewing as I did, every new contact with a sort of guarded chilly formality, born I think, of fear.

Brought up to be well mannered, i had somehow convinced myself that that was all that was required of me on being introduced to new people.

It is very late in life to be discovering that an open, warm and (dare I say, loving) approach to each new contact almost always receives a similarly warm and loving response.

At St. Mary's, we have just completed a hugely satisfying (if gruelling) four days of Easter services.  Each one unique in its flavour, and each serving a different purpose in the Easter 'story', but the whole four days has had a most profound affect on my stony heart, and, at last, the thaw is beginning.

I only need to live about another forty years for the process to be complete.

Happy Easter everybody.

Friday, 29 March 2013

A favourite rediscovered

A week ago I headed reluctantly into town, no choice really, shopping to be done and my library books were due back that day.

Having made a careful list I went first to the library, queued for ages to hand my books back and  shot off in the freezing wind to get round the remainder as quickly as possible.

It was only on the bus on my way home that I realised I had forgotten to get any books out.

Kicking myself I headed upstairs to my collection of biographies and auto biographies to see what might fill the gap.  Looking at a shelf I seldom 'see', I grabbed one of my collection of the late Dirk Bogarde's dozen or so efforts.

Entitled "For the time being", it is a book in two parts, the first dealing with some aspects of his 'movie' career, the second consisting of letters he wrote - many book reviews - for the Guardian and Telegraph in the 2nd part of his remarkable career.

As a young actor I found him pretty but boring, mainly taking light weight roles in third-rate films, and had more or less written him off until, suddenly, in the middle of his life he began to emerge as a good actor in such films as "Victim", "The Servant", "The Night Porter", and then on to his major triumphs, "Death in Venice" and "Daddy Nostalgie".

He had, in the middle of this latter period begun to write.  His first truly excellent story about his childhood "A Postillion Struck by Lightning" was immediately successful and went into several editions.

This was followed by a series of autobiographies interspersed with a few (not very good) novels.

He was at the same time, being interviewed on TV by a variety of probing, speculating interviewers who were obviously digging for a specific revelation, which with charm and humour he adroitly evaded.

Among some of the very most fascinating and gripping of his stories, touched on in interview, but elaborated on in depth in some of his books, were the terrible eye-witness descriptions of his entry into the horrors of Bergen-Belsen as a young British army officer in 1945.

Profoundly shocked and distressed he was never  quite able to verbalise these stories in interview, but they had a deep and lasting affect on his way of looking at life.

"For the Time Being" touches on this period only briefly but the writing is stark and graphic and it is here that we see a very different Bogarde from the urbane and cynical one we see elsewhere. 

He was awarded an honorary doctorate of letters at Stirling University in about 1985/6 and went on to give a series of lecture/talks/concerts, some of them after his first serious stroke and made a huge impression in this further extension of his notable repertoire.

Until I picked up this book and re-read it for the first time for many years I had forgotten just what a hugely talented man this was.

He was a lot less 'pretty' in old age but far far more interesting.

I will attempt to put a photo of him in later years below.  (no guarantees).




Hoorah.  Did it!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

At the risk of repeating myself..........

This picture has nothing to do with tonight's episode, but, I do  so like looking at him.

Believe it or not, I am back on my favourite platform.  The wonderful Holby City.

"Never" you cry, "you have never mentioned this before, what are you talking about"?

For anyone who may not know, and there must be someone, I am totally addicted to this most excellent BBC hospital drama.

Tonight's episode had, as usual, a good moral dilemma or two, well rounded out with glamour, humour and rather improbable romance.

We had a monk, facing the prospect of very major surgery with only a small chance of surviving, but choosing to go ahead for all the right reasons and a recovering addict now a novice monk who had invested all his faith in this one monk and who was prepared to lie in order to prevent the surgery taking place.

There was a sad recently bereaved girl of 16 who was at odds with her grieving father, and who had a previously undiagnosed illness which was causing her to be accident prone.  There was enough material in that story alone to make a separate story.

Underlying all of this was the ongoing saga of a young doctor with a brain tumour whose future was to say the least, uncertain.

All of these, and the lovely ditzie blond nurse whose sweet nature totally redeems her sheer barmyness.

My periodic leaps into hyperbole about this enthralling series are by now becoming a habit, and, I make no apologies for that.

If anyone has not yet made the acquaintance of this superbly acted series I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Oh, and of course, for we females, there is always |Henrik Hansen.