Thursday, 31 July 2008

I'm a Double Winner!

I had the email - I mean, THE email - from the lottery, to say there was 'exciting news about my ticket'. Well, it was only a tenner, but better than a kick in the teeth.

Remember the hammock stand I didn't get? It went for £25 so I put in a bid for another one today and I won it - and only paid £14.99!!! In the shops, they're upwards of £40 so, a result! When it arrives and I get it fixed up, I shall take a photo. Unfortunately, it comes with a hammock. That means I now have two hammocks. Anyone sailor out there need a hammock?


I was outbid by £1. Boo-hoo. My rival bidder probably owned that software that bungs in a winning bid for you, moments before the auction closes. But still, I shall have another go. I've got the eBay bug now!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

eBay Virgin

I am bidding on eBay for the first time ever - for, of all things, a hammock stand. I came away from the car boot sale the other weekend with a huge hammock, thinking there must be somewhere in Mr G's garden where I could sling it. Unfortunately, there wasn't, unless I wanted to sling it betwixt the rogue apple tree that seeded itself next to the bonfire pit, and the decaying shed which is (gasp) the hunting territory of The Lone Hornet!

Now, this hornet has been there for some years. He (or she) is very large and very inquisitive and if you accidentally stray onto his hunting ground, he strafes you. In fact, Mr G jokes, "If you want to know where the hornet is, just follow the scorch marks," meaning the ones my feet have left in the grass as I ran away at Olympic gold medal sprinting speed.

Hammock stands seem to sell for upwards of £50. I have put in a bid of £20 and the auction closes in two hours' time. Wish me luck! I shall need to use my Paypal account. Last time I tried to do this, it wouldn't work. Aaargh! Now I've started worrying and it's too early for a glass of wine. Beer? Hmm. Maybe...

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Daily Joke : At the Dentist's

A man goes to a dentist to have a tooth pulled.
The dentist pulls out a syringe with novacaine to give the man.
'No way! No needles! I hate needles!' the patient said.
So the dentist starts to hook up the laughing gas and the man again objects.
'I can't do the gas thing. The thought of having the gas mask on is suffocating to me!'
The dentist then asks if the man has any objection to taking a pill.
'No objection,' the patient says, 'I am fine with pills.'
The dentist then returns and says, 'Here's a Viagra tablet.'
The patient says, 'Wow - I didn't know Viagra worked as a pain killer!'
'It doesn't,' said the dentist, 'but it will give you something to hold onto when I'm pulling

your tooth out!

Monday, 28 July 2008

Mr Grumpy's broken toys

Oh dear. First his computer crashed bigtime and he was not at all amused. He bought a new chip, then a motherboard battery, then finally a new motherboard and is going to spend the next few days rebuilding his machine and reloading all his softwear. Still, it keeps him occupied!

Not only that, but when he came to pick me up yesterday, my friend had just collected her mobile from the repair shop and couldn't get it to work. "Give me your chip and I'll put it in my phone and see if it works," said our hero. It did. He slipped it back into my friend's phone for her, and ta-da! It sprang into life, complete with at least ten now redundant messages from me, saying whereabouts I was standing so she could find me outside the station (we missed each other, natch!).

When he came to replace his own SIM card into his phone, it slipped from his stroke-damaged fingers and disappeared down a crack in her decking. Disaster! "Never mind," said our philosophical knight on a Nokia charger, "I'll ring Virgin Mobile and ask them to send me another."

We got home and soon I could hear a tremendous telephone row going on downstairs, Mr G versus a call centre person in, it turned out, the Philippines. This person was demanding not only details of Mr G's name, address and bank account, but his credit card details, too. "You don't need that information and if you insist, you can cancel my contract NOW!" bellowed Mr G, his blood pressure escalating along with his chances of having a third stroke.

Luckily, he found someone at Virgin in the UK who sorted it out for him and yes, Mr G was quite right, the fellow in the Philippines had no right to ask for his credit card details. Could he have been running a scam on the side? Virgin are going to look into it. But oh, the blissful silence from Mr G's phone, that is set to a variety of different ringtones according to the person who calls, ranging from Ozzie at his most effing and blinding, to a porn star's silken purr (I wonder which caller THAT is? Could it be the phantom ladyfriend under whose influence he is purchasing all this Wild West gear? Hmmm)

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Night on the tiles

My friend is a landlady for a famous football team. She rents rooms to young trainee players and currently has a teenage Polish goalie and a young striker. I had dinner with her last night and we had rather too many bottles of vino out in her garden. The goalie came home on a high because his team had won and we all went crazy, fencing with my mate's ornamental twigs, then playing football all over the kitchen. He actually said I was good, and I'm old enough to be his gran! I tackled him in my flipflops and managed to get the ball off him a couple of times.

We all crashed around one. I was staying in the room of the young striker who was away for a week. Oh my, did I feel ill. I had such a stomach ache and headache that I lay and clutched my stomach and prayed for deliverance, which eventually came by way of several rather eventful visits to the loo and a lot of clearing up afterwards. As Mr G said when he arrived to run me home (as I couldn't carry the flat screen monitor I'd bought off my friend, plus my overnight bag which had been augmented due to a trip to the charity shop and the purchase of a fat book about fairies for my fairy-crazy daughter), "I have no sympathy, it was self-inflicted."

He was absolutely correct, but all the same, a little bit of sympathy, the production of a sachet of Resolve and a large glass of water, would have gone down very well indeed. As it was, I wasted a glorious summer day by going to bed with the Sunday papers at 1 pm and not emerging again till 6. Now it's bedtime and I feel as refreshed as if I'd just got up. Damn! I shall go and sit in the garden and count moths and get bitten to death by mozzies and with any luck, I might be able to compete with Jacula in the midnight fox pic competition.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Cat flap flap over!

Mr G felt sorry for Flad yesterday so he rummaged in the dustbin bags which, unknown to him, contained fox poo I'd cleared off the lawn, retrieved the old, broken cat flap that Flad has been using for 11 years, and reinstalled it.

I went into the kitchen around 1 am to get some Bicarb for my post-curry indigestion (post home-made lemonade indigestion, too) and found one of next door's Bengal cats polishing off Flad's biscuits. He was sitting calmly on the other side of the patio door, watching her. She fled back through the cat flap. Now, please don't try to imagine the following scene as it may make you feel queasy, but I prostrated myself (starkers, it was a hot night) on the wooden floor, lifted the cat flap with a finger and called to Flad cajolingly. And woke up Mr Grumpy, he grumbled this morning.

Well, something worked. Either it was the sell of his old flap (in a manner of speaking), my nude activities or the example set by next door's cat, but this morning he was in the kitchen. I fed him (7-ish) and went back to bed for half an hour, till woken up by a huge council lorry collecting the cones it had left to mark where they had cemented in some new road drainage grids yesterday. I arose for the second time - and no cat. He had exited the way all cats are meant to exit. Hooray! The photo shows the efforts Mr G went to to install the new, spurned cat flap. Oh dear! You can't argue with a cat.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

What a Cat Flap!

Here is the cat. Here is the cat flap.

Here is a mathematical equation. Cat into flap = cat through flap. Not. He won't go anywhere near it and instead, mews piteously to be let in and out through the patio doors.

We bought the new flap because the old one had broken. The new one had a clear pane so he could see through and assess the dangers lurking outside - other cats, psychopathic mice - before venturing forth. We thought Flad would be delighted. Instead, the new Flad Flap is a total disaster.

We have tried everything. A trail of cat biscuits leading to the flap, gentle pursuasion, spraying the pane dark like his old one, even dropping something with a clang, which normally has him scrabbling through at a rate of knots. But this time, he just tried to claw his way up the wall instead. Nothing works. A cat psychologist is sorely needed. Don't suggest catnip. Flad is immune to it, unlike old Bastard Cat who turned into Pervo Puss, rolling in orgasmic paroxysms all over the lawn at the slightest whiff. Help!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

The Boots!

I found them hidden in their box in the garage. Is he going to give them away? Throw them out? Whatever, here is the photographic evidence which I tried to make look as Arizona-ish as possible. Tell me, am I right about him being a gay cowboy, or is he planning to elope with my friend Gill from Essex, who teaches line-dancing?

Grumpy Goes West

I knew that strokes could affect people's brains, but something very strange indeed is happening to Mr Grumpy. He thinks he's a cowboy. Either that or he's planning to take up line-dancing - which, in his case, would be more like lurch-dancing.

It started when a package arrived for him last Friday. It contained a pair of very macho boots, complete with strapping round the heels. All they needed were the spurs. I looked, but said nothing. The next day, he cut off the straps, deciding he didn't need spurs (no kinky sex, then!). Yesterday, another package arrived. I thought it would contain the new, larger cat flap for the old, larger cat! But no, it was another pair of boots.

This time, they were in brown tooled leather, with pointed toes and little heels. I'm afraid I burst out laughing. "You'll never get your feet into those," I observed. He tried, and I was right. I gave him my leather softening spray. Then, God forgive me, I began to mock. I stood up, I yelled, "Yee-hah!" and pretended to be a line of post-stroke patients attempting line-dancing. Cruel, I know, but Mr G pokes fun at himself all the time and refers to himself as a spaz, and his disabled badge as his spaz badge. "What on earth did you buy those for? Are you turning into a gay cowboy?" I asked, breaking into paroxysms of mirth. "You'll need a stetson, too," I pointed out, whereupon he told me, with a perfectly straight face, that one is on order from Canada, where he has relatives.

I have gone all round the house with my camera, stalking those boots to take an incriminating photograph, but they are nowhere to be found. I've even looked in the garage. Either he's sent them back as they're too small, or they have been hidden away together with a secret stash of other goodies connected to Mr G's secret fantasies. What next? Could he fancy himself as a bull rider? Will a cattle trailer pull up and decant some snorting, foaming beast with huge horns, that will be kept in the garden, tethered to the rotary clothes line and terrorising the neighbours with its bellows? Will I wake at 3 am and find him practising twirls and high-kicks in front of a DVD of Oklahoma? Help! Get me outta here before the pistols arrive and I am roped to the apple tree for target practise!

Monday, 21 July 2008

Ooch, ouch, never again!

Two applications of Biofreeze and one of Voltarol gel later, I have just about recovered from doing the car boot. I heaved so many bags and boxes around, I felt I'd done a complete house move, plus of course, waking at 5 am, queuing from 7.15, not being let into the site till 9 am, setting up whilst the hordes were delving into the bags, before we'd even had a chance to hang up the clothes, standing for five hours, getting back to my friend's and having to unpack everything from her car and stow it in her loft. Then the hour and a half trek back home, waiting an age for a bus from the tube station, and all for a measly, rotten £37! Oh, and a hammock. I have bought a hammock and only realised when I got it home that it was in rasta colours. All I need now is some ganja, man!

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Car boot looming!

Will it rain tomorrow or won't it? Will we need macs or sunhats and sunscreen for standing in a school yard for five hours or more? How many coathangers and plastic bags (supplied by me)? Will all my stuff fit in my pal Jill's small Micra, as well as her own?

Tonight I shall make my way from Hillingdon to Camden Town and camp out on her flop-out armchair in readiness for a 6.30 am start. I shouldn't think either of us will get a wink of sleep. At dawn, we will sip cups of tea, ashen with tiredness, and discuss whether it worth going and whether we're likely to cover the £10 admission charge. All we'll want to do is slope off back to bed, but the car is wall-to-wall bin bags, skewered by the poles of the hanging rail. Then the adrenalin will kick in and we will find ourselves in a queue of cars and the next panic will be whether or not we'll get a pitch. Once, we were the very last car they let in. That was a heart-stopper, that was, with boot sales being very thin on the ground in North London.

Once I get back to Hillingdon, totally knackered and hopefully clutching fistfuls of fivers, I have to go to a barbecue in Langley - unless I can persuade Mr G to go without me. I should imagine I shall be fit to drop by then. Anyone want a pair of Size 16 scarlet linen Debenham' trousers, unworn, bought for a pirate party I didn't go to in the end? Only a five to you and I'll even throw in the eyepatch. But not the parrot. I shall need him to sit on my shoulder and shout, 'Pieces of eight - show us your money, you landlubbers!'

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Mr G excels himself

Mr G is not a man who does things by halves. Neither is he a man who, having suffered two strokes and a brain haemorrhage, would lie on the sofa and take the rest of his life easy. No, he is a fighter and has fought his way back to around 80% of his former strength and mobility following his right-sided paralysis last year.

Having been warned by the medics of the dangers of doing things like climbing ladders, Mr Grumpy decides to screw the tarpaulin on his workshop roof to the wooden battens beneath. So up the ladder he goes, electric screwdriver in hand. I watched him for a while, then went in, unable to bear the sense of impending doom. No sooner was my back turned than Mr G went to move his leg and couldn't. Panic! He thought he'd had another stroke - but no, he had merely screwed his trousers to the roof! Then he went to scratch his head and forgot he had the drill in his hand and delicately trepanned himself. The resulting scar on his skull is an inch long. What do you do with a man like that? Admonish him or admire him? Probably both.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Still the cold silence.

Still not a word from my friend. Someone suggested that perhaps my text was delayed, or that she never received it and thought I had just stood her up. This could be the case. I sometimes haven't received a text till many hours later, or even the following day. But surely she would have rung me? I mean, I could have been mown down by a bus en route!

Then I thought, maybe something has happened to her, or one of her family. Ever since another close friend dropped dead in July 2007, I have been only too aware that this can happen to any of us, any time. So I sent her another email last night asking if she was OK and to let me know because I was worried about her.

But still nothing. I am starting to feel angry now - angry at being punished for a crime I didn't commit. My ulcer is screaming. I'd just managed to control it and had had no pain for five days, and now, because I've been so upset, I have the familiar sensation of having had my stomach scrubbed out with a Brillo pad dipped in sulphuric acid. I know she doesn't read my blog. If only she did, I would say please, please get in touch. Don't let years of friendship and shared memories die because of one misunderstanding. Because that's what it is. Unless... Another friend suggested that maybe she had realised she didn't want me to live near her after all, in case I begged lifts off her all the time. But I really don't think she's that petty. Passionate, as only a Jewish Italian woman can be - sensitive, over the top crazy funny, but not petty. I miss her like hell.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Friendship breakdown

I am bereft. I am very deeply upset. I have said or done something to a friend and now she is completely ignoring me. Phone messages, texts, emails all go unanswered. I have grovelled as much as it's possible to grovel, without knowing exactly what I have done.

She and I have been friends for 36 years. In our twenties, we shared riotous holidays in Spain. In our thirties, we comforted each other through failing marriages. We have always had laughs. A phone call from her is a tonic as she can see the funny side in everything. Last week, I had an appointment to take a second look at a couple of tiny cottages near where she lives. It takes me two hours to get there on a variety of tubes, buses and trains. I asked if she would be in and she said yes, and mentioned it would be nice to have lunch.

Well, the weather was rotten and the night before, I rang her and told her I may cancel the viewings as plodding around in the pouring rain wasn't high on my list of favourites. I also quizzed her at length about transport links in the area (no handy tube station) and in the end, I came to the decision that perhaps it wouldn't be the best place for me. She asked me to let her know in the morning if I wasn't going to some, as then she would go to her daughter's.

I knew she had guests staying in the living room who were leaving that day so, rather than ring the landline at 9 am, I texted her mobile. Since then, there has been a complete icy silence that nothing can break. I even checked my mobile but the text is sitting firmly in the 'sent' box so I know it went off. I feel so sad and sorry that I keep bursting into tears. She has been like sister to me all these years. I can only hope that she will relent in time.

If only I knew what she had taken offence at. Could it be that she thinks, in rejecting her small area of Hertfordshire, I am rejecting her along with it? Nothing could be further from my thoughts. It's just that, as a non-driver, I'm trying to find a home where travelling back late in the evening entails only a short walk from station or bus stop. I don't think a lifelong driver can put herself in the shoes of a non-driver. What she sees as convenient, I don't. But maybe there is more to it than that. All my friends are fed up with the amount of times I cancel arrangements because of my dodgy stomach. Perhaps, for her, this was the last straw. I am so upset that I keep bursting into tears. Breaking up with a friend is like breaking up with a lover. It's complex, painful and there is grieving to be done.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Dragonfly and butterfly

Took both of these in the garden today. A comma butterfly and a common hawker dragonfly. Glorious!

That sardonic smile

Amongst my previous incarnations, I was editor, under vaious assumed names, of fanzines for David Cassidy, Starsky & Hutch (I put together the complete series of mags), The Police and The Bay City Rollers. I had immense empathy with the fans of these actors and musicians because I had been a fan myself. I still am!

As an 11-year-old, I went to see Campbell's Kingdom with my mum and fell madly in love with Dirk Bogarde - so madly that when I was 13, my friend Ros and I packed a bag each and planned to run away to Little Chalfont where he lived. By the time I discovered he was gay, I was old enough to get over it and appreciate him for the brilliant actor that he was - and excellent writer as well.

As an adult, I don't have teenage-style pashes on actors or singers (though I do know people well in their forties and fifties who still have!), but I can't deny that there are two men who completely, totally turn me on and they are Alan Rickman and Sean Bean. Phoowarrrrrr!!!! Bean on screen oozes testosterone. He's earthy and full of energy, yet, consummate actor as he is, his eyes can change in an instant from hot and sexy to icy and commanding, in a way that makes female nipples tingle. As for Rickman, it's all in the sardonic smile, the curl of the lip, the impression of Mills & Boon masterliness. As I have as much chance of winning the lottery as I have of ending up in the arms of either of them, all I can say is, thank heaven for fantasies!

Friday, 11 July 2008

Sleepless in Hillingdon

For months, I have suffered the kind of insomnia that prevents me from getting off to sleep. Now I have the other version. I fall asleep straight away, then wake, fully alert, all systems on go, only to find it's 3 am. Then, knowing I have a bare three quarters of an hour before chirrups and tweets assail my sensitive eardrums, I can't get back to sleep at all. This morning I was up at five, got beaten up by the cat until I fed him, and now a) I'm drooping over the keyboard and b) he thinks it's lunchtime at 11am.

We have just had a real monsoon. Someone up above shouted, "Oi, 'ave that!" and emptied the equivalent of the Mediterranean sea over us. My tomatoes were almost washed out of their Gro-Bag and the fuschias and petunias had their petals flagellated by stair-rods of rain. Luckily I'd seen the nasty nimbus cloud approaching and got the washing in in time. Just.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008


This little fox cub is the runt of a litter of four but his sheer boldness ensures that he gets fed regularly - by us, though Mr G has issued words of warning regarding getting him so tame that he loses all fear of humans and falls foul of a local fox-hater. He comes and gazes through the patio doors, staring at us while we are eating, then sits and just waits, until we chuck something out for him. He eats it, then sits and waits for the next course, looking so cute that I have even sacrificed my favourite organic ginger and chocolate chip biscuits. I've named him Oliver, as in Twist, though it might be Olivia. He loves cherries and spits out the stones.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Dowsing verified

Without telling her what my own result was, I emailed three addresses to my daughter and asjed her to dowse, too. She came up with the same house but cautioned me not to buy yet. She feels strongly that I should wait. But if I do, I'll have to bear another freezing, miserable winter here.

To be in somewhere new by November, I'd have to have my offer accepted no later than August. I suppose I could always rent...

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Dowsing - the result

It's the first time I have ever used a pendulum. I have used my bare hands to dowse for water, but I must say the pendulum (a lapis one) gave very definite results.

I started by holding it in a beam of sunshine to 'warm it up'. Then I cupped it in my hands for a while, to attune it to me. Then I asked it to show me how it was going to move for yes, no and maybe. It wasn't what I expected. 'Yes' was a clockwise circling. I expected 'no' to be an anti-clockwise circling but instead it was a movement away from me and towards me, swinging in a line rather than a circle. 'Maybe' was a movement in a line from left to right.

I held it over each set of house details in turn and the only one that got a 'yes' was the impractical one that I fell in love with. The pendulum started slowly circling, then gained momentum so it was moving rapidly, the arc getting wider each time. I added another flat into the mix and got a 'no'. Then I changed the orders of the details. I tried it three times, always the same answer. Of course, it could have been me influencing it, either psychically or physically, making small muscle movements even though I thought I was being completely still.

I'm hooked on dowsing now. It would be interesting to be blindfolded and not know which house I was dowsing over. That will be the next experiment, if I can find a participant. Not Mr G. He doesn't believe in anything alternative. Apart from aromatherapy. He mixes me up a great potion for eczema and prickly heat and it works a treat. Geranium, bergamot and rose, I think - or is it rosemary? I really must find out.

I'm now thinking I should get a map out and dowse for places.

House dilemma

I have seen three properties I like and am completely unable to make up my mind between them. One is a flat back on my old stamping ground, two streets away from the cottage in Highgate that I should never have sold because it's now worth £500K. Being a flat, it has a service charge and doesn't have a private garden, rather a communal lawn. The others are two Victorian cottages further north, in East Barnet. The flat is close to two old friends, the cottages round the corner to an even older one (not in terms of age!). One cottage has a fabulous garden, a cute, cottagey front garden, but a downstairs bathroom and the cupboards full of boiler and hot water cylinder, and the kitchen is tiny. The other is extended, has a big kitchen, a study and an upstairs bathroom, but lacks the magic the first one has.

All three properties are the same price. This morning, while tidying, I found the pendulum my daughter gave me. This gave me a brainwave. I have decided to dowse for the right property. I shall hold my pendulum over each set of details in turn and see what happens...

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Knicker Bickers

I have a big beef about knickers. Well, most knickers. I am very familiar with men's undies, having put them in and out of washing machines and pegged them on lines for years. Though much more complex in their construction than the ladies' variety, contoured to fit snugly around men's meat and two veg, they are much more smoothly finished off, with all the seam edges oversewn and no raw ends to chafe one's most delicate regions.

Not so with women's drawers. 98% of those in my knicker drawer have the broad seam at the back of the gusset tucked under and made nice and smooth, while the narrow front seam is not turned in at all but is left as an untucked edge. Now, the broad seam spans the cheeks of the derriere and doesn't touch any tender flesh, but that front seam always falls short of the Mons Pubis, to be discreet and medical about it and instead, it bunches up and chafes a lady's most sensitive parts so that, just as you are taking a romantic stroll around the park lake, you are suddenly afflicted by what feels like a knife blade performing a ghastly circumcision ceremony. Many's the time I have had to hobble and hop to the nearest loo, to turn the offending undergarment inside out - where, of course, the seams are finished off nice and smoothly.

It doesn't make sense to me. If manufacturers can provide smooth surfaces that don't chafe men, why can't they do the same for us? At the moment, Tesco is my salvation as they sell panties that have no gusset seams at all. Unfortunately, they only come in beige and white - at my branch, anyway - not very enticing, and they aren't cotton, either, which means that in hot weather you feel you have dipped your rear end into a sauna. But hey, maybe some of that excess flesh on my behind is boiling off and I shall be left at the end of Summer with a firm, toned, athlete's posterior. Bring it on, say I!