Wednesday, 29 October 2008

First snow

Last night at around 11 pm, as I sat cowering in the kitchen while the fireworks of Diwali, the Asian Festival of Light, hammered the air like a WW2 bombing attack, it began to snow. I didn't notice at first as I was too busy poring over the atlas, wondering if there was any country on earth where fireworks were banned, to which I could move and live in peace. At the sound of a big explosion, I have a visceral response. I flinch, cry out, my stomach knots and I want to dive into a cupboard and cry. (See my Nov 2007 post for an explanation as to why this might be.) Last night, I simply stuffed earplugs in, which made watching CSI a bit difficult as I'm not good at reading American lips.

Then I glanced outside and noticed a large, feathery flake floating past the patio doors. And another. It was a bit wet, but settling. The outdoor temperature was 30F.

This morning, the snow had gone but the decking was a sheet of ice upon which Mr Grumpy nearly measured his length in his carpet slippers as he went to feed the fish. If he had done so, he would have landed face-first in a frozen fox turd, which our red friend had kindly deposited right where we step out of the door. Such is life!

The temperature in my study is 48F as I write (why, oh why was Mr G so sparing with the radiators when he modernised his house?) and the snow that still clung to the roof window has just started to melt. I have been on the web ordering thermal underwear - long johns and long sleeved T-shirt. They promise delivery in 3 days, though I may well have turned into snow woman by then with a long icicle hanging from my nose. I think we're in for a hard winter.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

My chemist's shop

My transformation into the Aunty Vera of the old Giles cartoons (she of the perpetually dripping, pointy nose, thin, drooping body and tote bag full of pills, potions and boxes of tissues) is no recent thing. It was already fully developed 30 years ago when I left my first (and only) husband and after I had gone he complained that he had had to throw out a large cardboard box full of pills and potions that I had left behind. Being a man whose bathroom cabinet contained nothing more than some sticking plasters and a bottle of TCP, he couldn't understand my need for verucca plasters, Friars Balsam and ear drops. When he got things, he just put up with them till they either went or, like the grumbling appendix that flared up every time he ate peanuts (did he quit eating them? did he hell!), hospitalised him.

I now have a set of plastic drawers ('set', note; not 'pair'. Those will probably come in ten or so years' time), each of which is dedicated to a different set of ailments. Painkillers and antihistamines inhabit the top drawer, as those are the things I usually need in a hurry. The drawer beneath holds everything connected with stomachs, such as cures for diarrhoea, constipation and piles (yes, I know bottoms are not stomachs, but there seems to be a direct connection), and my ulcer tablets.

The third drawer is labelled Beauty (yes, I can hear those snickers, thank-you). In it are lipsticks, eye shadows and pencils, hand cream, lip salves and lots of those sample tubes of Clinique and Clarins moisturisers. I also keep sachets of Lincobeer combined shampoo and condtioner (so handy for holidays), plus hairslides and bands there, plus a tiny furry teddy bear. No, I don't know why, either.

The fourth drawer is where I keep large bottles of anything from cough linctus to vitamin pills, as it and the fifth are deeper than the others, so bottles and jars can stand upright in it. I must own up that there are some things in there, the purpose of which I cannot now remember. L-Theanine? WTF?) But as long as they are not past their sell-by, they can remain there rubbing shoulders with Vitamin D and Peppermint Oil capsules for as long as they like.

Now we get to the bottom drawer. This holds a large bag of Slippery Elm powder, only slighly past its sell-by (Jan 08), a digital thermometer which I tardily discovered was in degrees Centigrade (36? I must be dead!) and a collection of ankle supports, wrist supports and only slightly grubby crepe bandages. Oh, and a plastic bag containing those tiny tubes of Bazooka That Verucca and Blist-eze that always lose their caps and ooze stickily into sponge bags if not coralled in plastic, plus tiny vials of homoeopathic and Bach flower remedies.

You may think that's it, my chemist's shop is complete, but you'd be wrong. Beneath the bathroom basin is a cupboard. Well, it's Mr Grumpy's cupboard to be precise, but the only trace of his former ownership is a congealed and rusting can of Gillette shaving gel. I have filled the cupboard with products pertaining to hair, teeth and body. Fragrances, hairspray, BOGOFs of toothpaste, spare brushes, body lotions, hair mousse, all the tall cans and containers that one needs in the bathroom and that won't fit in my plastic drawers. (Oh, go on, you're allowed one snigger).

Someone suggested that way back in time, I must have been the village Wise-woman, dispensing cures and love potions to all and sundry plus their horse and dog. Well, oddly enough, I had an ancestor who was called Gaspard Wyse, rather than wise) and he was... an apothecary in Liverpool! Many a true word spoken in jest. (What was that, indigestion? Hold on, I have a pill for that somewhere.)

Thursday, 23 October 2008

50 years on!

Yesterday I met a fellow pupil from primary school in Liverpool. We hadn't seen each other since we were 11. I felt really nervous beforehand, wondering what on earth we would find to say to each other. A whole lifetime had gone by for each of us, after all.

Her name is Pam and she found me on Friends Reunited and I needn't have worried because we were soon swapping notes about Mr Jones, the head, and Miss Bocock and Miss Parry. Lunch spend by, once we'd failed to get into the restaurant I'd earmarked, and dismissed three others as looking like school canteens. We ended up in a quaint little pub, where we quaffed some wine, ate turkey sandwiches (well, I did, she had a Ploughmans) and tried to name all the faces on the old photo. Sadly, we knew some faces we couldn't put names to, and vice versa.

I hope Pam and I will meet up again. It's a strange feeling thinking we shared six years of lessons then became total strangers for four whole decades! I've been back on the site and emailed a couple more familiar names. Ann Smeaton, Paul Winkles, Marion Moncrieff, Zella Jones, where are you now?

(PS I'm 3rd from left on the 2nd row from the back, in the grey jumper with lambs on that my mum knitted. I lost the matching cardie at the Liverpool air show. Mum was not amused.)

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Hat trick

Here's the photo from the other day, doctored by Jacula who thought I was doing a Tommy Cooper impersonation. Love that fez! Talking of which, I can thoroughly recommend the entertaining travel book, A Fez of the Heart, by Jeremy Seal. Very funny and a good insight into life in Turkey.

Hard-hearted Virgin

I have in my hand a pair of rail tickets to take me to Penrith next Monday to see my sister, and back again. I haven't seen her for at least 18 months, apart from a brief couple of hours when we rendez-voused (sp?) in Liverpool last December to swap presents.

Due to the untimely death of the son of one of my closest friends, brother to my goddaughter, I now have a funeral to go to. It is in Shropshire next Wednesday, bang in the middle of the Cumberland visit. This morning, I rang Virgin trains and patiently explained the situation, only to be told that no refunds were allowed under any circumstances.

"But this is a funeral!" I emphasised. "People don't choose when to die. Show a bit of sympathy and understanding and give me a refund."

The jobsworth with the very strange accent and mangled English kept insisting that Virgin tickets were non-refundable and referring me to the terms and conditions, which were not printed on the back of the tickets. I can rebook and lose a £10 admin charge, or throw away the money, just like I had to do earlier in the year when I'd booked to go to Devon and my daughter was ill and said I'd better not come. I am not free again for a 5-day stretch until the very end of November when the hours of daylight will be few, the air full of driving, boot-soaking rain and Ullswater will be lapping at my sister's kitchen door, as it always does when it rains a lot. I have to let them know when I want to re-book by Saturday, said the unsympathetic customer services robot.

What is wrong with these companies? Surely, if you give them enough notice, you should be entitled to a refund? They can always re-sell the ticket, after all. I am just hopping mad. Has everyone forgotten the word, 'humanity'?

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Pond protection

Mr G spent all morning yesterday making a wooden framework and nailing that hideous orange plastic netting that road maintenance men use onto it, to stop one-year-old Ethan falling in. Every time he visits, he takes an unholy interest in the pond and the fish. We took our eyes off him for an instant last weekend and he was halfway in, dangling over the edge trying to catch a fish. In view of the terrible tragedy this week with the twins who fell into a pond, resulting in the death of one of them, Mr G decided it had to be done.

"That's strong enough," he proudly proclaimed. "I stood on it and it took my weight." Not to be outdone, I placed one foot and about three quarters of my weight on it. There was a serious of explosive snapping sounds and the whole thing began to give way. Some nasty snipes about my weight followed (around 10 stone if you must know), but Mr G was actually grateful for my demonstration and this morning we went to B&Q to buy some wire netting which he is now busily attaching to the frame with orange tags and a staple gun.

I shall try it later and if I fall in, I hope the camera will be handy.

PS I did try it later, I didn't fall in, but note the look of apprehension at the thought of plunging into five feet of cold water full of fish poo.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Wiggin' out

My new astrology column requires a photo of moi to head it up. As Scarlet is a raunchy magazine,
most of the ladies whose photos appear in it are holding vibrators and looking perky. They are also at least 30 years younger than me. So out I went to buy some party wigs and props. The results, a friend of mine commented bluntly, don't do me any favours but boy, I had fun. Mr Grumpy did a real David Bailey, with a white sheet and a stepladder. I wonder which one the mag will choose? A zany Dolly Parton-like blonde (sadly minus famous appendages), a witchy brunette or a natural freckly ginger? As for the 'vibe'... is it a torch? A candle? I shall leave you guessing.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Drowned at the dentist's

Last week, feeling weak and wimpish and suffering from the dreaded jeans allergy, I put off my appointment for the hygienist and a check-up but this week there was no escape short of a total tube strike or me being abducted by aliens.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong but I can't imagine anyone actually enjoying the scraping, jabbing, palate-tormenting torture that such a visit entails, though maybe there is the odd (very odd) man who gets a kinky kick out of having a girl like the pretty, slender, blonde Polish lass I had today pressing close, bending over him and fixing him with a baby-blue stare over the surgical mask. Today, I had to add drowning to the torture. The water jet machine wasn't working properly ("This is really bad equipment. I cannot work with such equipment. I think I will go home," she hissed through pursed lips, then made me promise not to tell the dentist that she'd complained) and squirted water over my face, up my nose and down my neck. On both sides, too. I was well and truly drenched.

In a fury, she abandoned the water jet for the pick and shovel method and, in a fury, skewered me into submission, ignoring the strangled 'ows' and the hand held up in submission. Then it was her turn to diss me. I was missing places with the floss, I wasn't cleaning the inside backs of the teeth properly. I crawled out of there feeling like a naughty child... only be informed by the dentist that my awful, dingy teeth that are held together by thirty-year-old amalgum were looking good and I was obviously looking after them well. Hygienist nul points, moi un point! Jolly bon!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

More knicker trouble!

The Awful Itch was back again yesterday and I thought back to years ago when I presented myself at the doc's with the same thing and she asked, "Have you changed your washing powder or used any different products?"

Living in a house which firmly belongs to Mr Grumpy, a fact he reminds me of at least once a day when I complain about the faulty glazing, the draughts, the tiny hot water tank, the unheated area where I have to work, etc., and I am not in control of things like which washing powder is used. Mr G buys these things and ergo I have to use them. Having run out of the huge tub of Macro Non-Bio powder which I was fine with, he bought some Tesco Non-Bio tablets which may or may not be the problem. I think the new jeans sensitised my bits and they are now on red alert for anything else vaguely irritant.

Which brings me to bathing. The tank being small, and Mr G only allowing 2 hours of hot water heating time a day - in the morning, I ask you! It's getting tepid by evening bath time - there is enough for just one bath per day. Mr Grumpy likes one bath per day, meaning we have to share each other's bathwater. He likes an early evening bath whereas I like a bedtime bath, something of which I have been deprived for three whole years, which is how long I have been living at his house. He always beat me to it and runs the water and sloshes in some vile, cheap purple supermarket gloop which promises a relaxing bath experience. By the time I enter the grey, slimy water, it is also polluted with his shaving gel and shampoo. God help my bits!

Anyway, I have rewashed all my knickers in Fairy Liquid - the washing machine variety - and will see if there is any adverse reaction. I have also sent off for some hyperallergenic washing powder from

Mr G says that if I don't like his washing powder, draughts, hot water cistern, etc., then I know what I can do about it, a statment he accompanies with a "bye-bye" wave. I may just have to do it, in order to be warm, have quiet nights, and stop burning and itching. Thinks: wasn't there was an old 'round' - one of those songs where someone starts, then someone else chips in a line behind - called 'Fire Down Below'? It will have to be my signature tune.

Monday, 13 October 2008

The Curse of Empathy

My mother had it. I've got it. It's the ability to put yourself so much in another person's shoes that you over-identify with them and get so upset by that person's particular trauma that it may as well have happened to you. I wonder if my mother and I should have taken up acting, as we are (were, in her case) so good at taking on roles. This leads me to wonder how actors shake off their roles; how they mimic suffering physical and emotional agonies on stage or on camera, then switch off and become themselves again. It must be possible to do this, otherwise there would be far more nervous breakdowns in the acting profession. Though didn't Daniel Day-Lewis have one after his tasking role in My Left Foot? And I'm pretty sure Stephen Fry had one, too. Perhaps they suffer from the curse of empathy, too. The picture is Sargent's famous portrait of Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth. Oh, to have that wonderful robe!

Years ago, I used to think, 'Who shall I be today?' and go out as that person, walking differently, talking differently, sometimes pretending to be Russian, wearing clothes that would suit my make-believe persona. I was in turns the super-spy, on the look-out for people tailing me and hidden cameras following my every move, scanning for clues and dead-letter drops (I did in fact witness a briefcase swap in a shop on Victoria Station concourse, though I didn't do anything about it as I didn't know which of the two men to follow); I was the famous person going out incognito; the alien from another planet; the songwriter about to sign a mega-deal; the singer about to be talent-spotted. I was never just plain me. Until now. Now that I have become old and unnoticeable. Maybe now's the time to become that super-spy!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

So tragic

My best friend from uni days has just lost her son. He'd just had his 37th birthday and was found dead at his flat of a drug overdose. He had his problems including the after-effects of a bad road accident, but he had a loving girlfriend with whom he was planning a future and had just been offered some work, so it looks as if it was a tragic accident. I feel so, so sad. He was an ff-beat genius who wrote brilliant poetry but had difficulty finding his place in the world and being accepted for what he was. He is at peace now but has left a mountain of grief behind. My heart goes out to his family tonight.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Tess and me

Out of wedlock. Fallen woman. Unmarried mother. Living in sin. Love child. All words and phrases that went out of fashion since the government legitimised illegitimacy in the early 1970s by giving council flats to the de-stigmatised 'single mother'.

It was my misfortune to be an unmarried mother in the late Sixties, with all the social slating that was attached. My baby's father cruelly abandoned me, like Alec d'Urberville abandoned Tess. Whilst pregnant, I took a job with the Government Social Survey department and was told by Personnel that I must wear a wedding ring and pretend to have a husband so as not to shock my fellow workers. Imagine telling a young woman to do that today! I bought a cheap ring from Woolworths that turned my finger green. I didn't fool my colleagues one bit. How they probed and sniped, wondering if this 'husband abroad' was really in gaol, or if he existed at all. The beady eyes withered my soul. My boss took me out one night and, as I had proved myself of easy virtue, tried to rape me.

With my poor, innocent baby girl in a foster home I tried to find a flat - "No, I'm not having any babies here" - sound of door slamming in my face. This was, after all, the era when it was legal to put the words, 'No Blacks, No Irish' beneath the To Let sign. They may as well have put, 'No Unmarried Mothers', too. I tried to find a job ("You say you haven't worked for the last few months because you were having a baby? How do I know you weren't in gaol?"). My father: "You marry the next decent man that asks you and don't let this disgrace befall our family name again." I was in effect in a gaol of society's making yet my only sin was to get pregnant by a man I loved, who promised to marry me then ran off with another, bustier, more beautiful woman.

This is why I so empathise with Thomas Hardy's Tess and shed bucketloads of tears at the way society treated her. It really didn't change much in the next 100 years. My baby was adopted, hers died. She was 'damaged goods'; so was I. A kind boyfriend offered to marry me and bring up my daughter but I couldn't marry him as I didn't love him and it wouldn't be fair on him.

At least I didn't have to work in the fields like Tess of the D'Urbervilles. A wonderful gay man who I met at a party saw through all the social mores nonsense and gave me a job in advertising that set me on the career path I am still following today, almost 40 years on. He opened all the doors society had slammed in my face, as he, too, knew what it was to be stigmatised.

When Tess murdered the man who had caused her downfall, it brought back something terrible in my own past - the day when, like Tess, I decided I would murder my baby's father. Like her, the balance of my mind was definitely disturbed. Fortunately, unlike her, I didn't go through with it. Why? Well, I'm saving the details for the memoir I've just started, called Murder In My Blood. You see, I wasn't the only member of my family who had murderous thoughts. An ancestor of mine actually ... No, you'll have to read the book. I'm thinking of uploading each chapter onto a website as I write it. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008


I'm a bit worried that since posting my murderous poem about Algernon Sadie, I have started a trend. Glancing at MSN news this morning, the first thing that greeted my eye was an item about how the first Mr Gay UK, a chef, butchered his lover then carved off a steak, seasoned it and prepared it for cooking. The second item was about a loony Texan who killed and ate his wife. Maybe those old cannibals didn't call white missionaries Long Pig for nothing...

Which reminds me of the time, years ago, when I shared a flat with a friend and her thieving Siamese cat called Roxy. One day, Roxy came bounding up the wooden steps of the first floor maisonette and proudly deposited a pork chop at my feet, all seasoned with pepper and herbs and ready to be cooked for someone's supper. Imagine what they must have gone through. 'Where's my dinner? It was there a minute ago, I know it was. Am I going mad?' But now I'm thinking, was it a pork chop, or... ?

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Maybe not just Mars...

Yesterday I was wearing new jeans. Just now, I found the label I'd cut off them. It said: 'Wash Before Wearing', which of course I hadn't done. I hadn't even noticed the instruction which was, as they say, writ small. Could that mean that the dye can irritate the skin? In which case, mystery solved. In fact, the 'flea bite' mentioned in my last post is probably an itchy allergy, too, bcause a similar itchy lump has come up in the same area of my other leg. Though it's still a coincidence that it should all have happened on a 'Mars day'...

I think that, just like food ingredients are listed on the packaging, so the ingredients of dyes and fabric treatments should be listed on the labels of clothing and furnishings. Then we wouldn't have situations like happened a few months back, with people suffering dreadful skin allergies due to anti-fungal chemical in their leather sofas.

Mars and Fashion

My astrologer friend also told me about how the planets influence what you put on in the morning. Apparently, when Mars is strong in the sky, you see lots of people wearing red or khaki - I never would have thought that the latter was a Mars colour, but as Mars is the god of war, maybe that explains it. The bloodstone is connected with Mars and that is red and green. There is a lot of purple in the shops at the moment. I think that's a Neptune colour. Fascinating... (or a load of rubbish? Make your own mind up).

PS. Just after I had finished writing this, I felt an awful itch on my leg and found a cat flea had hopped up my trouser leg. Bugger off, Mars, I've had enough now! (Yes, cat does get flea treatment but there is always the odd hoppy lurking around.)

Effects of Mars

I woke this morning and every inflammation I occasionally suffer from had visited me in one fell swoop. From painful finger joints, to itchy patches on my back (bra strap allergy), to a bad stomach (five visits to the loo to date), to cystitis symptoms, to a dreadful itch in the unmentionables (see Allergic to Knickers entry), I was (and still am) on fire.

I was booked in for the dental hygienist and a check-up, requiring an hour and a half on the Tube each way. I cancelled (receptionist was not amused). Then I phoned Tony, the friend I was meant to be meeting afterwards for lunch. Tony is an astrologer with a photographic memory for every birth chart he has ever done. He informed me that Mars is bang on my natal Venus and that can go either way, causing an inflamed libido, or an inflamed, er, you know. Mars is energy and irritation. It can cause headaches and itches and irrational urges to run marathons or roger the milkman! However, I shall spend the day sitting in an ice bucket. Cheers!

Monday, 6 October 2008

Algernon Sadie

Just remembered a short but pithy poem I wrote ages ago; here it is...

Algernon Sadie, a butcher from Fife,
Once kissed a lady who wasn't his wife.
He then kissed his wife, who wasn't a lady
And she took a knife to poor Algernon Sadie.

God only knows where this one came from. I must have been reading too many Patricia Cornwells.
Oh, and feel free to substitute another word for 'kiss' if you like.

House-hunting again

Went all the way to N22 to view this house. Just the brown bit. The white part belongs to two flats. It was the width of the average public convenience, the whole footprint being 24ft x 12ft, and had a peculiar clutch of small, dark, uninhabitable rooms on the other side of that black door, which were the tail end of a very large workshop/outbuilding belonging to somebody else and not only that, the other person's vast chunk of it, 50 feet or so, the inner wall of which ran right along the garden, had windows in it. And a door. An intriguing red door into, what? One of the windows that overlooked the garden had bottles of bleach or washing-up liquid on the windowsill, so was obviously a kitchen or a washroom of some sort. It all felt a bit weird. You could be sitting in your deckchair and anyone could be perving at you between the bleach bottle and the scrubbing brush. Urrrgh. It gives me the cold shivers.

Houses with flat roofs are a no-no for me, anyway. Not only do they require expensive maintenance (I have forked out six and a half grand in the past to repair bloody flat roofs), but the rooms directly beneath them, usually bedrooms, get roasting hot in summer (ha! Did I say a rude word?) and have to be painted with an anti-reflective coating, which cost me two grand last time I had to do one.

So all in all, it was a four hour journey (two each way) for nothing. Well, not quite nothing. I have explored a new area, the cheaper - and, yes, grottier - part of Bounds Green which, if you know North London, is just north of Wood Green and to the right of Muswell Hill, and found it terrific for transport.

The big problem is, do I buy somewhere now, when I am earning next to nothing with which to pay the bills, or do I stay with Mr Grumpy till the spring and save a bit of extra cash? I vowed I wouldn't spend another freezing winter at Mr G's, where I have to type on a big, open-plan ledge at the top of the stairs with no radiator, and where the north wind whistles through the gaps around the windows and where I am not allowed to have the heating on till the evening, and thus end up typing book reports in fingerless gloves, three fleeces and my hiking boots.

It's now that awful hiatus between autumn and winter. Some morning a few weeks from now, I shall awake in my freezing north facing bedroom with the bullet hole in the window (see entry for 2 July 2007) and find frost riming the grass and my nose. Then I shall think longingly of all the flats and cottages I saw and didn't buy, which had central heating boilers that would have been mine, all mine. 'All I want is a room somewhere...' If only it were that simple. But I have a lifetime's worth of belongings that need a minimum of four rooms plus a large attic. Or an outhouse. Or, damn it, I could leave them in Big Yellow for ever!

Dormant Volcanoes

Chronic ailments are an odd thing. They're like dormant volcanoes. People go about their business on the slopes of Etna or Vesuvius, blindly ignoring the slumbering beast beneath them as it hasn't given them any trouble for so long. Then suddenly one day there is an ominous rumble and a cloud of smoke and all at once they don't feel so safe any more.

My arthritis has been like that. Aches in my fingers, but staying pretty much the same until suddenly, a few days ago, I had a flare-up and suddenly my already stiff fingers wouldn't bend as much as they had done the previous day. I panicked. If they stuck in that position, with all the joints seized up, how would I be able to pick things up, fasten buttons, do all the normal little tasks you don't even think about? All at once, that dormant volcano was threatening my whole livelihood. My supplier of strong arnica has shut up shop on the web and the other varieties I've tried haven't been nearly as efficacious. Did you hear the sick joke that was doing the rounds during the Olympics? It went: Did you hear that one of the Paralympic competitors has tested positive for WD40? Now, there's a thought.

Friday, 3 October 2008

The Ministry of Disappearing Socks

Last time I did a wash, I put in two grey socks. Only one came out. I rotated the drum of the washing machine, stuck my head in, peered all round, looked in the garden to see if I had dropped it, felt inside the duvet cover and the pillow cases; no sock. It hasn't been seen for a week.

Just 45 minutes ago, I took off one sock to treat my fungal nail with its weekly Curanail routine, involving filing it, swabbing it, soaking it, trimming it and painting it with the very expensive solution. (I read the other day that Vicks Vaporub does the trick for only £3.99 as opposed to £13.99 - I am now on my third bottle as it takes a year to work!) Then I stripped everything else off and had a bath. Cleansed, dried and moisturised, I then started to get dressed again and lo and behold, only one sock awaited me. The other has hopped off to God knows where. It wasn't up the leg of my trousers, or stuffed in my sweatshirt pocket, or on the bed, or on the floor. It has simply gorn, vanished, disparu, evanui (Ok, my French spelling is as appalling as my pronunciation), buggered off. It is no more. It is a late sock.

I think that there may be a Ministry of Socks that, like an alien abduction, targets single socks and whisks them off for fiendish experimentation. Trying to make the ultimate glue from toe-jam; selling toenail clippings to witches; supplying moth breeding factories with food. It could be a nice little earner. But please, don't take one next time, take both. I can't match up one grey one, with one black one with yellow toe and heel. All my single socks end up in a bag, then every so often I chuck them out. Then I start finding the missing ones, of course, and end up with another bag full, till I remember I've already thrown away their mates, whereupon I throw the latest lot away, only it contained some that were put there only recently, and then of course I find THOSE missing ones. Perhaps it is the endless cycle of missing socks that keeps the world, if not the solar system, if not the whole universe, turning.

Handsome Gentleman

His name is Benson and when I first arrived to look after him, he greeted me like this... I mean, if that doesn't say "b*****" off, what does?

By the time I left, he was calm and laid back and much more like this.

He is a very intelligent cat who gets very bored when left on his own. As I tried to write a note to his owner, he insisted on trying to swipe the pen from my hand, leaving me with a page covered in illegible lines and scribbles. Maybe he was trying to write a message! By the way, his Mum had left a message saying 'No more fleas'. She was right. I didn't see any more at all. Mind you, he did fall asleep on my jacket. Better turf out the pockets in case they've hitched a ride.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Allergic to knickers!

Years ago, I was strolling around Ruislip Lido when I experienced a suidden, fiendish itch in my groin. It burned, it was excruciating and no amount of jigging around or pressing my hand on it (couldn't start scratching my crotch in public, could I?) would get it to abate. When I got home, I had fiery red lines where the leg elastic had met my flesh. The elastic had nylon lace on it. Then I remembered my allergy to sticking plasters.

Since then, I have avoided lacy lingerie, lovely though it is. My skin has told me in no uncertain terms that it will NOT put up with that scratchy nylon thread like fishing line, that's used to sew on so many garment labels. So many labels also have scratchy corners that as soon as I buy anything new, I have to cut them out, sometimes damaging the garment in the process. (Why DO manusfacturers sew the labels in so well that they are embedded in the fabric of your T-shirt or dress?)

Last week, I bought some new M&S knickers, having surreptitiously opened the packet first to check for smooth gussets and lack of hidden lace. Everything seemed fine so I bought them and yesterday wore a pair for the first time as I was going for a massage and would be lying on the couch with them on display.

All seemed well till I was walking through Debenhams afterwards. Suddenly, I got a most fiendish itch on the left, just where my pants met my old operation scar. I scrabbled inside my jacket, trying to get my jeans to do the work of scratching for me. No luck. In the end, I resorted to surreptiously scratching through my jeans pocket, like a pervert, hoping nobody would notice.
I got home, examined my underwear anf there was no sign of anything that could have caused it. I can only think it was a reaction between the massage oil and the elastic this time.

OR... and this is a big, scary or, I picked up a flea last night when visiting the lady whose cat I am going to be looking after for the next few days. It is huge, it is ginger, it is surly and it was hopping. I caught a flea while being introduced to him and plunged it swiftly into my glass of water, before flushing it down the loo. So I am on my way there now with antihistamines and a canister of flea spray. Wish me luck!