Thursday, 29 November 2012

Overcome by trivia

Fighting my spiteful duvet into its uncooperative cover this morning I was reminded yet again of the way some (apparently) inanimate objects, conspire to defeat the feeble.

As with so many things, the power of the inanimate is awe inspiring.

Does anyone know why, when your hands are full, faced with a pair of swing doors, the one which is unlocked always says "pull"?

Why, on the one morning you are running late, having for once had a good night's sleep and overslept, you pull on your shoes in the dark,  is the right foot always in the left shoe?

Why when you have left something upstairs do you only find you need it when you are downstairs, and worse, when you get back up there do you forget what it was?

Shopping, looking for something, finally you find it hand over a 25% off coupon triumphantly, only to hear,"sorry madam this coupon ran out yesterday".

When you phone someone you need to talk to urgently, why is it they are always "out" or "in a meeting", and when you call back later at the time suggested, they  have just gone to lunch?

In a hurry, needing a quick photocopy of just one single sheet, the machine requests several minutes of codes, minute instructions etc. and when you have finally got the green light, you push the start button and "out of paper", it sneers.

Queuing for a coffee, you are eyeing the one remaining piece of coffee and walnut cake, then the person just in front takes it!!!!!!

Waiting for the bus in the cold and wet, it finally hoves into view with the words "Not in service" proudly displayed in front.

And, last but not least, a particularly personal one, why don't eyelashes grow as fast and as long as eyebrows?

PPS I have just seen a Blackcap in the back garden.  Of course, I am upstairs and the camera is downstairs!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Christmas Draws on

Yes that right, you have seen this before. (many times), and yes, it does mean I have sunk without trace yet another large whisky.

The reason (excuse), this time is that I have just got in from a very tiring, though wonderful, Christmas Bazaar at St.M's.

The first of many, it was held on yet another dark, very wet day.  I don't know how much rain there still is up there, but oh boy do I wish it would stay up there.
We had a steady stream of people through most of the morning which thinned by mid-day, and dwindled to a handfull by 2.00 p.m   Nevertheless, we all, the 'traders', enjoyed it  and we did quite well I think financially.

I was working for an organisation within the church known as 'Space', which offers a listening ear to a variety of people with diverse problems, reasons for seeking company, and someone with time and a willing spirit to engage with them.

Knowing at first hand, how very useful such a haven can be I am only too happy to try to offer someone else some of the kindness, friendship and comfort I have received.

We had everything for sale from cakes, many and splendid, smellies, very varied, and knitted good, handcrafted items expertly made and pottery, also hand made.  We had unwanted gifts of every description size and price and at the end of the sale had reduced our mountain to a mole-hill.

Despite the awful weather - a feature of this year - all our regular customers and many new ones dropped in and spent their hard-earned cash.

Since I never eat at these events when I arrived home, thanks to a lift from a lovely lady, I was hungry, tired, and in need of a pick me up, supplied courtesy of Grants.

Rather than eat I thought I would pickle my liver and eat this evening.  Then thought, why not share my day with my readers.

Tomorrow there are two services, the usual 10am Eucharist and in the afternoon a service for "Peace and Justice in Syria.  The latter is an ecumenical service using the Iona liturgy so will make quite a varied (if busy) day.

This seems as good a reason as any for downing a whisky.  I don't really need an excuse but it's nice to have one.


Monday, 19 November 2012

Seeing things

 Coming back from St  M's at lunchtime today, crossing the road at the bottom of our close, my heart was in my mouth.  There was a screech of  brakes and a large tabby cat shot across the road a car missing him by inches.

I've never seen this cat before and he looked so much like my lovely feral Sam I thought I was seeing things.

I wrote "Cats tails (2) " on my blog on 19th August last year, when I told about Sammy's entry into our
lives.  This incident today inspired me to dig out, scan and reproduce these old pictures of Big Sam.

John tolerated him, I loved him unreservedly, warts and all.

During his years with us, he earned many nicknames one of which, when he was getting old and ricketty was "Grandpa Stripey"

The other one, by which John, and those who admired him rather less was "Maestro Stinketti".

His joint habits of lying on his back waving his huge paws as though conducting an orchestra, combined
with the rather less attractive one of suddenly making
the most appalling smells was how this 'title' was earned.

Despite his somewhat unsavoury aroma he was a huge, heavy, purry, loving mog with a heart of pure treacle.

He never got used to sleeping inside at night and had a cat-flap into the back door of the garage with a bed in there for the worst weather, but would come in if we were home in the day and sleep wherever he liked.  Often this was on an ancient ragged cardigan of John's  which I had knitted and he had finally been
persuaded to donate to Sam.

You can see from the pictures how totally relaxed he finally was, as his head gradually drooped lower and lower and his massive paws dangled limply.

Best of all, was catching him with what John always called his "boozy smile" Last Picture below.

Despite his size and his feral origins, he had a truly gentle nature and even when his overtures were rejected (which they usually were, by John), he would put a large forgiving paw on his shoe  and lean heavily, looking at him all the time, until even he had to laugh and say "OK Sam come up".

His weight was fearsome and aching thighs and knees the inevitable result of a 'Sammy cuddle', but he was so worth the discomfort, our lovely Stripey giant.

I don't know where today's 'near miss' cat came from but he started memories echoing down the years. I only hope he is as well loved as Sammy was.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Another Scam Alert

I have just taken a phone call from someone who asked me to confirm I was who I was, gave me the correct  Postcode then launched into a warning about a serious virus.
They had not identified themselves which immediately put my early morning antennae on the alert, and then said I was to go and switch on my computer.
I said "No" and put the phone down, went upstairs and switched off my computer.
When I dialled 1471 the number was withheld.
Right decision?   I think so.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

A great way to waste an afternoon

This morning was busy, tiring, wet, infuriating and altogether unrewarding.  I put a machine-load of washing on and just before I left the house to trudge round in the rain to the bus stop, there was a power cut.

Oh well, I thought, at least the washing will resume when the power returns and with any luck by the time I'm back from town all will be well.

Ha!  Should have known better,  After frustrating failure to get most of the things on my list got a taxi home dumped shopping with a sigh of relief and went to make a coffee.  Two hours since leaving the house and still no power.

 I was cold damp and needed a hot drink, had ironing to do (surplice and stock for tomorrow's Remembrance Service) and also needed to shred a load of papers.

None of these things were possible without electricity, then one of my neighbours rang and asked if I had any power.  Apparently there was a selective cut (just a few of the houses in our close) and we should have been warned by letter.

Not only had neither of us had any such letter, but worse, the power was apparently expected to be off until around 4.00 pm!

By now the lack of heating was beginning to make itself felt and I decided to follow my friend's example and phone my supplier (a different one from hers) and complain about the lack of warning.

This took a half an hour of trying three different numbers until I finally got an explanation and an apology, I should indeed have been warned.  I said I was unimpressed, he apologised again and said they would make a payment in compensation.  This may or may not happen, we'll see, but in the event the power came back on shortly after mid day.

I then raced through all the things I needed to do and fell into a chair with a coffee and switched on the TV.

Trawling through the usual dross I finally hit on ITV 3 just in time to catch the beginning of one of the very greatest TV plays I've ever seen.

This was the marvellous "Lost for words" starring the late great Thora Hird and Pete Postlethwaite.

Anyone who has never seen this superb classic is in for a treat if they have the means of retrieving it on Ipod/pad or similar gadget.

The deeply touching story of a loving son devoted to his lovely, dotty mother combines the very best of humour and pathos as the tale sees his mother through a series of strokes until she finally succumbs. 

To say any more would be to spoil the experience for anyone who has yet to see it, but it is without doubt a truly memorable piece of theatre.

Don't take my word for it, watch it.

Or as Thora Hird would say "Flump!"

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Alligator tears

Born and brought up in a time when public tears were frowned upon, and anyone predisposed to weep frequently was considered lacking in moral fibre, it has often amazed me to observe the watery antics of large swathes of today's population.

Of course, I've changed as life has introduced some of its nastier hurdles and while even now I do not weep at the drop of a hat, at long last I recognize the need to cry as an important part of human development.

There is a point in grief when the overwhelming need to cry takes over from habit or training, and while it doesn't always make the sufferer feel better, had they not given way to the impulse it would undoubtedly have made them feel much much worse.

I don't subscribe to the view that crying over every upset  is a good and useful way of relieving stress, and yes, I do still rather despise those who leave a wet trail every day of their lives, but that is not to say that a
'good cry' can't sometimes  be therapeutic, and once over and done with a sort of balance can be achieved.

Mass weeping and wailing (the death of Princess Diana, for example), leaves me cold and yes, slightly contemptuous.  This is not because I feel nothing, but simply because the sort of hysterical wailing which accompanies such events seems to me  totally inappropriate .

Real grief for someone we knew and loved can produce vast vats of tears over which we have no control,
and it's probably just as well we haven't since that is a real need to cry.

There are tears of regret, sympathy, and the nervous reaction type tears, all of which are produced for a good reason and not as it were, by rote.

I think what I'm trying to say is it's the "Oh this is sad I must cry" or the "I need to show how sensitive I am" type of - not crocodile, more alligator tears - that I have no time for.

This morning on the breakfast TV show we were treated to the sight of Rod Stewart weeping at a football match, not because his team had been defeated, but because they had won.

The cameras went repeatedly to this 'touching' scene and we were all invited vicariously to share his emotion.

Have we come just a tad too far from the 'stiff upper lip' days, or is it just me?

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Kindness - Great Oaks from Little Acorns Grow

Something mentioned in a very recent post by Jean Rolt of "Tregear Vean" resonated strongly with me.

This incredibly brave lady who has been tragically bereaved in the last few days, talked of how greatly affected she was by the kindness of strangers.

For anyone who believes as I do in the innate goodness of almost all human beings, this is something of which we become aware on many occasions during life's most difficult times.

I was reminded again of this propensity for instant acts of kindness only this week.

Having been laid low by a cold/flu/throat type bug, I had taken to my bed and barely moved on Tuesday, until the phone rang mid morning.  "I saw your bedroom curtains were still closed and wondered what was wrong", said my young across the road neighbour.

She asked me what she could do for me and when I said I was OK, added she was going shopping to the local supermarket and could she get me anything.  I answered yes please, my throat is really sore can you get me some O.... pastilles please.  She said if  they had any she would post them through my door.

When several hours had passed I realised they obviously didn't stock them and thought no more about it, but, late in the afternoon a bag from a town pharmacy dropped through the letterbox with the throat tablets.

The next morning I got a phone call from her mother Sue who lives a few streets away, wanting to know if she could get me anything else, apparently having been asked by her daughter to buy the pastilles as she was going into town.

I barely know this woman but she had gone out of her way to get them and delivered them also without any hesitation  at her daughter's request.

By Friday ill or well, I had no choice but to go shopping, I was out of so many everyday items.  Shakily got the bus into town, did the biggest shop I could think of and used the stores freephone to call a taxi.

Five minutes they said.  In less than two he had pulled up, ordered me to get in opened up the boot, carried all the tons of shopping and returned my trolley to the rank.

ON arriving home he told me to go and open the door, carried the shopping in and dropped it in the hall and when I thanked  him profusely said "no problem".

Such small things in the scheme of things, yet such acts of real kindness, just when I needed them most.

I have already blogged many times on the overwhelming kindness of  my neighbours when John died and so often, at the very bleakest of times a small act of love from someone we may know only by sight, has such a heartwarming effect, it can colour a whole day, and change a grey landscape to a sunny one.

Thank God for warm hearts and kind people.