Sunday, 30 September 2007

Mid Spid

I think Big Spid must be dead. He or she hasn't been seen for a month now. In his place, in the corner of the living room, we now have Medium Spid. As the windows are closed against the nippy weather, he was in danger of starvation so I broke my Buddist(ish) vow never to harm a living creature and caught him a daddy-longlegs.

I thought it would be a quick death. Inject the fangs, death, munch. But no. I had forgotten about spiders' fetish for mummification. Spindly legs threshing feebly, the creature I had condemned to death was rapidly cocooned in web and immobilised, whereupon the vicious arachnid sucked out its vital juices WHILE IT WAS STILL ALIVE! I can't describe the guilt I suffered.

When I was a toddler, if I stamped on an ant with great relish, or squashed a beetle, my mother would announce, "The king of the ants (or beetles) will get you for that." She would direct her attention to the skies, point to an oddly shaped cloud and declare, "Look, there he is!" and we would cower, convinced that the cumulo-nimbus had sprouted legs, thorax, abdomen and antennae (or even chitin) and was all set to fall on us from above and eat us up. Quite cruel, my mum, looking back now. Fortunately, it's hard for a cloud to form the shape of a daddy-longlegs. Or is it? Still, it's dark now. I'm safe till tomorrow.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Money, money, money

I always thought I was reasonably computer literate. I mean, I can send an email, I can buy stuff on line (and frequently do, though shoes have been a disaster as you can't try them on in cuberspace), I can write a basic blog entry (minus bells, whistles and videos) and I can play online games such as Babble.

But online banking?

Nothing is more terrifying than having one's fingers hovering over the keyboard, knowing that, with one stumble of a trembling fingertip, one could send £2000 not from one's savings to one's bank account, but to a total stranger - AND NEVER GET IT BACK AGAIN! Bank clerks do this all day, presumably without recourse to either tranquillisers or a therapist. But me? I feel like a horse in a show-jumping competition faced with a seven ft wall. Either I take a deep breath, jump off, and soar through the air to land safely on the other side without disturbing a brick, or else I brick it, dig my heels in and refuse.

Today, a huge amount winged its way electronically from my solicitor's account to my own, due to my selling, at long last, the house in East Finchley that I never moved into. Beautiful house, but we never really fell in love. Not, that is, until I was packing up last weekend and suddenly noticed how the plants I'd put into the triangular flower bed had grown and their foliage, which ranged from deep chestnut to stripy yellow, was sparkling beautifully in the sun after a shower of rain. At long last, the place was pleasing to the eye. And then I noticed the quietness, and the fact that my new French bistro net curtains blotted out the eyesore block of flats opposite the front windows, and I thought: I could live here. I told the removal men tearfully, 'I should be moving in now, not moving out.' (Two hunky strapping Poles, O to be 20 years younger. 20? Who am I kidding? 40!!)

So - the huge amount is sitting in my bank account earning nada. My newly set up online savings account awaits. But dare I press the keys? Am I stupid? I'd rather go to the bank on Monday and pay £35 for them to perform the electronic transfer than risk doing it myself. If they cock up, then I have some comeback, but if I make a blunder then it's bye-bye £280,000!!!!! (Thinks: what if I win the Euromillions tonight, too?)

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Lobsters and shanties

I’ve been told that the craftsman in the photo is the last man in Britain who knows how to make lobster pots. I wonder if the reason nobody is learning from him how to do it is because there are very few lobsters left in Britain?

The picture was taken in Newquay, Cornwall, last weekend. I had gone there to sing shanties with the Falmouth Shout group at the Newquay Fish Festival. The microphones that the female singers were using weren’t working so no-one could hear us. Just as well, because the leader decided to perform a completely different bunch of songs to the ones I had rehearsed so all I could do was lurk in the background and mime – apart from one blissful moment when I squawked a piercing top harmony note to a song I DID know, and almost deafened my next-door neighbour.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Electric Kool-aid Antacid Test

This is a Cornish Aromatic apple grown in my boyfriend's back garden. It has nothing to do with Tom Wolfe but plenty to do with acid, the non-druggy variety. Back in the Sixties, I tried uppers and downers at university and smoked my first joint at 16, sitting on a tombstone in Liverpool Cathedral graveyard in my school uniform. My mother was right to be suspicious of that certain schoolfriend of mine with her swarthy Welsh looks, large brown eyes with their slightly hooded lids, soft, singsong voice and wild ways. She was later thrown out of university for living with two men at the same time and not doing any course work. I think it was the lack of work that got her sent down, not the men; this, after all, was the free-love Sixties.

But back to apples. One day recently my ulcerated stomach felt decidely uncomfortable. I had finished my prescription Ranitidine 150ml and all I had on the shelf were 75ml soluble Zantac. I downed one but it had no effect whatsoever.

Then I remembered that about two decades ago I had a painful stomach and my boyfriend of the time, who had grown up in the country, recommended that I ate an apple. I sneered, then scoffed (both verbally, then the apple) and lo and behold, within half an hour the bloated, windy pains had gone. I reached for the fruit bowl, bit into the first apple and promptly spat the mouthful out again. It was unripe and bitter and I knew instinctively that it would do me no good.

Ferretting around at the bottom of the bowl produced an older, riper, slightly wrinkly one. I bit into it and revealed the pink flesh the Cornish Aromatic is famous for. (The first time I bit one, I didn't know what to expect and I thought my gums were bleeding when I saw the deep crimson my bite had revealed.) Fifteen minutes later, the acid in my stomach was calming. An hour later, I was fine again. Yesterday, I had a hideous hangover and the worst acid attack ever. For four hours I moaned and complained, clutching my midriff and feeling nauseous. Then I remembered the apple cure and, whaddya know, it worked again.

I have no idea what it is in an apple that can soothe an acid stomach. I don't even know if it is just the Cornish Aromatic that contains the ingredient, or any sweet, ripe apple, but some enterprising natural cures company should look into it. They could be onto a money-spinner and not only that, they could spark off the survival of an almost vanished apple species.