Mr Grumpy bought me a Fuji digital SLR camera for my birthday (he paid for most of it and I think I contributed £30). I hadn't used it because there was no manual and I didn't have a clue how to work it. Now he has bought himself the same model - with manual - and as he is far more patient than I am, he has read it and is now teaching me what buttons to press. This afternoon I practised with the macro lens, photographing flowers, then had a go with the zoom, focusing on a squirrel nicking nuts from the bird feeder.
I thought I was getting streaks, but the hairdresser informed me I was having highlights. They were a little muted, not as bright as I thought they would be. Subtle, but classy and the cut was great. But can I reproduce the style at home? I wish! I bought hair straighteners, three different varieties of heat protecting and hair straightening spray, a special brush, but my hair still goes its own way, and wiggles and waves. Now I realise why. You need two free hands to create a style, and you need to be able to see round the back of your head. Short of popping my eyeballs out and ferrying them round the back on a spoon, I can't think of a solution. So much for the new sophisticated me. The old hippy refuses to go quietly!
Didn't make it to Cornwall today. Had indigestion last night, took a Zantac, turned in around 11.30, took half a Piriton which usually gets me off to sleep, but I was still lying awake when I heard Mr Grumpy get up at 5.30. (He didn't sleep well, either, as it was so hot.)
I then dozed off around 6 and finally dragged myself out of bed around 10.15, absolutely knackered. Far too tired to face the trek to Cornwall by train. This means this week is out of the question as I don't want to be traveling back over Bank Holiday weekend and the hotel I wanted to stay in is full over the weekend, anyway. My friends have offered to put me up and they are very kind but I much prefer a hotel room where I can sleep when I want, even have a kip in the afternoon, rather than doss on a mattress on the floor in their wooden house which, though gorgeous, is completely non-soundproof! I'll get there sometime... Yawn.
Have just sold two more items, a Monsoon T-shirt (very pretty but a trifle too small) and a brown linen dress (looks like a monk's habit and it's been bought by a bloke!). I shall post them tomorrow and cross my fingers. I've asked both buyers to let me know when the parcels arrive. I must remember to ask for some claim forms at the Post Office. Bet it will take months to get refunds. It's just not fair, especially as I paid the extra for recorded delivery.
I've spent the last two days doing 'mini appraisals' ( a page on each) of seven different writers' first chapters. A couple of them were really good. It's so hard to get accepted for publication now. It was probably easier in Victorian times when publishers didn't have 'marketing slots' into which books had to fit. Then, a writer could write in his or her own style, with no-one barking 'show, don't tell' in their ear and asking whether the book was aimed at Level 6, Read Alones, or what the genre was. Why, oh why, is nobody allowed just to sit down and write what they want to write? Or rather, they can, but without doing their homework they stand precious little chance of getting published, especially if their book is 'cross genre', which is rather like being a literary transvestite. (Come to think of it, I know one or two of those!)
I may go to Cornwall for a few days tomorrow, if I don't feel too worn out.
I have old some super items recently including a gorgeous devore velvet jacket and a pair of brand new Fitflops. I posted them on 3rd August and 12th August respectively and neither have turned up. Both have vanished in the post - recorded delivery, too - meaning that I have had to refund more than £50 to the disappointed buyers.
I am gutted. I can't afford to lose that amount of money, on top of the £2000 that Scarlet Magazine owe me for my horoscope column (they haven't paid since February) and the £800 I am owed by other people I have done work for. It's the last straw. So I have decided that as from a week's time when the current crop of items will need relisting, I am shutting up shop. It's a great shame because I've really enjoyed it and it gave me a chance to make a little money out of my overstuffed wardrobe instead of just giving stuff away. But sadly, Royal Mail cannot be relied on. They have let me down big-time. B******s!!!
For the full story, go to my other blog, www.hillingdonwildlife.blogspot.com
In a nutshell, the RSPCA will supply free a drug called Ivermectin to cure fox mange. So if you see a manky, limping fox with gummy eyes (not to be confused with a human teenager), give your local RSPCA a ring.
Went to bed around midnight, lay there for five hours unable to sleep, and at 5.02 am I got up. Stars still sequinned the sky and a lone jet stream trailed past Venus in the East. Gradually, as the sky lightened and developed morning colours, palest blue, peach, robins started tick-tick-ticking, then the warning 'chook' of the blackbirds. A large hedgehog trotted past me, acros the lawn and into the bushes. I was sitting outside with a cup of tea and flinched as a big bat flittered and swooped just over my head, followed a few minutes later by another smaller one, probably a pipistrelle.
By now my feet were cold - I was in dressing gown and slippers - and I decided to take my tea back to bed. However, we have a cat flea invasion and no sooner did I get back to my bedroom than I got nibbled. I returned to the kitchen for the flea spray and encountered the mangy fox, who was staggering around the deck. It fell off the edge twice, stumbled onto the pond netting, went round in circles, stuck a front paw in Flad's drinking trough (an old plastic tool box) and generally looked in a very bad way.
Thinking it was about to flake out in front of my eyes, I went upstairs and woke Mr G - who, it transpired, didn't need waking because he had been awake since 4 am (though he went to bed at ten so at least he got a decent few hours' sleep). It's now 7.15 and we have spent the whole time watching the fox's erratic behaviour. I threw some bread out. It picked it up, carried round the side of the house and dropped it there, came back and stared at us. I put out some cat food. It sniffed at it, went away, came back and ate some, then walked in aimless circles. I put out the bird's bread, having torn it into small chunks, and it decided to eat that. But over and over it would stand there staring at us, almost as if it wanted us to help it.
I wondered about ringing he RSPCA, but if it hadn't actually collapsed, there wouldn't be anything they could do. I don't think the poor thing is long for this world, though. It's definitely lost the plot. Foxheimers, perhaps? It's very distressing to watch. At least it isn't Olive. It doesn't have her habits and its tail is longer. I think it could be Kinky, Olive's sister. Wonder if Olive is OK? I'd like to think of her somewhere across the farm fields, rearing a litter of cheeky, curious cubs just like her.
Went to switch on loaded washing machine. Nothing. Kicked the door to make sure it was properly shut and tried again. Still nothing. Oh dear, I thought; Mr G won't be pleased that his washing machine has died (he was out). Never mind, I'll have a cuppa, thought I. Kettle was dead too. So was the light. Then I noticed the wonderful, blissful silence of no buzzing fridge, no wheezing electric clock, no neighbours' sound systems or electric mowers, just deep, deep peace, full of birdsong, just as it used to be. It was balm to the ears and the soul and I drank it in, until, with a series of clicks and a blare of noise, everything suddenly came back on including the radio, which hadn't even been playing earier, and Mr G's satnav on his desk. It was as if the house's heart had been kick-started after a cardiac arrest.
But now I know what living a simpler life would be like, in a croft near the shore, burning turf and reading by the light of an oil lamp. Oh, what perfect, relaxing peace!
Too much mouse-clicking, too many word games played against the clock, and now I can't work because I can't click! My shoulder hurts, and all down my arm, and I have a twitch in my forearm which keeps me awake at night. I think someone is trying to tell me to work more and play less. Grrrrrr! Went for a massage today so I'll see if that helps. In the meantime, sorry for lack of blog entries.
The mangy fox that has taken up residence at the bottom of the garden is proving to be a problem. A couple of days ago, Mr Grumpy walked into the kitchen and found it had squeezed through the patio doors which were open about six inches. It scarpered when it saw him, but it means we must be on our guard now and close the doors when we're not in the kitchen, which is a major pain in hot weather.
Yesterday morning at 6 am (Mr G is an early riser), he saw Flad asleep on the step and the fox sitting next to him. It has very bad mange and an awful cough and fox mange is transferable to cats so I am very worried.
Today Mr G went into the garage to find the fox had got in and had chewed through the electrical lead of his £150 welding machine. It will take him ages to mend it and he is not amused and says Foxy has to go! But how? If we stop putting out our scraps, it may get even bolder and start coming in through the cat flap. I have suggested throwing out food into next door's garden - the old lady who lives there can no longer get out into it and the rear of the garden is wild and a home to last year's vixen and cubs who lived in the greenhouse. If we can persuade it to dine there, perhaps it will stop bothering us. Or am I hoping for too much?
There was a great crowd waiting to welome back the troops of 63 RAF Squadron from Afghanistan and I was lucky enough to get a ringside position, though they had sold out of flags by then. The boys looked immaculate and two teenage girls behind me kept up a very amusing commentary, going 'cor, look at 'im!', and giggling at 'that tiddly little one in the middle.' I had a lump in my throat and felt extremely patriotic for at least half an hour! And had a good lech at all those fit young lads!!!
There's a debate going on in the press and on the radio at the moment which all started with a revelation in one of the Sunday papers that men ogle an average of ten women a day. Not only that, they can't help it. It's a reaction that is in their genes as well as their jeans. Remember that recent photo of President Obama turning his head to watch a cute ass moulded in bright red satiny material ascending the steps behind him? His wife and daughter were behind him, but he just couldn't help himself, and nor could the aide who was alongside him.
The female chat show host I was just listening to voiced the opinion that this was purely a male phenomenon, and showed lack of respect for the man's partner. Well, if they really can't help it, partners don't figure in the equation. It's an involuntary reaction, like a sudden sneeze, or flinching if a bird suddenly flies out of a bush right next to your head.
When I was much younger and less secure, I hated it when the guy I was with looked at other women in the street. It really did cause me distress and to get my own back, I started eyeing up the male talent. Actually, this was nothing new. I remember ogling my first man when I was a mere eleven years old. He was waiting for the same bus that was to carry me to my school in the centre of Liverpool and he was gorgeous. He had long hair and a beard, the hippy beatnik type I have always gone for. Shame that next day he was there holding hands with his boyfriend! I found out later that they both attended the art college over the road to my school - the same one that John Lennon went to.
From there, I progressed to eyeing up the talent in my O-level Russian class - as the classes weren't big, we shared a teacher with our brother school, the Liverpool Institute. Then it was off to university and a whole new world of males to gloat over.
I moved to London and my best friend and I would wander up and down the King's Road on Saturdays, 'bulge spotting'. We made no bones about it. This was the late 1970s, an era of crotch-strangling trousers, and our well-trained eyes would home straight in on the lumpy area of interest. When a particularly spectacular saveloy, or even a Cumberland, was spotted, we would giggle, nudge each other and mutter, "Lunch!" As in lunch-box, Lindford Christie style.
Even in my forties and fifties, I couldn't held scanning streets, buses, shops and beaches, though by then the lunch-box wasn't the target, but more the general overall appearance of nice build, nice bum, shapely legs, good hair and a smoulder in the eye. Once I started going on holiday to Turkey, I was like a kid in a sweet shop, so many gorgeous goodies that I didn't know which way to turn. Did I help myself? Of course I did!
Now that the flickers in the knickers have subsided in a kind of post-menopausal detumescence, it takes a lot more to stir me than a saveloy. I still have to admit to a weeny bit of ogling, though. Tomorrow, I have altered the time of my appointment with the chiropractor (alas, the infirmities of age!) in order to watch a parade of troops returning from Afghanistan. All those lovely, fit boys in uniform. Perhaps I have finally morphed into a Dirty Old Woman. Phwoarrrh!!!! Dirty Old Woman? DOW? EnDOWment? What would Freud say, he who invented the phallic symbol? Samuel Johnson said, 'When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.' I say when a woman is tired of men, she is tired of life. There's nothing like a quick ogle to keep the spark of life glowing, even if the flickers in the knickers have long gone out.
Flad normally starts patrolling the area around his food cupboard from around 3.15 pm onwards He expects dinner at 4pm, having had breakfast any time between 5 - 7 am with a lunchtime snack of some biscuits in between. When Mr Grumpy got up yesterday at 6-ish, he found the remains of two shrews or small mice in the kitchen but Flad still ate his morning sachet of Whiskas. Dinner, however, was another matter entirely. He sniffed at it, walked out and wasn't seen again.
At a quarter to midnight I was patrolling the garden with a torch. No sign of Flad though I surprised a hedgehog. I woke around 5 am following a horrid dream about Flad having his head trapped behind a radiator which in turn was up the side of a grand piano. (I've obviously been watching too many Proms on TV.) I got up and opened the door to the living room. No Flad. He wasn't in the kitchen, there was no sign of him in the garden, last night's dinner was untouched and my heart sank into my boots. I looked in shed and garage in case he'd got in and couldn't get out. Then he appeared, coming through the hedge from next door. He sniffed at last night's food, then stalked off. I threw it on the lawn for the magpies and crows (though some fat slugs got there first - get a wriggle on, hedgehog!) and opened a new sachet. One sniff and he was off again, plodding across the garden and flumping down between the cherry trees in the spot that used to be, and sometimes still is, his lavatory. (Strange creatures, cats. I wouldn't choose to snooze in poos. Would yous?)
Then I rembered his penchant for M&S turkey slices and the fact that I had slung half a packet of time-expired ones out on the lawn last night. Could that explain the fact that breakfast is still untouched, apart from one mini mouthful? He may well have finished off the rest of the mice in the nest, too. Being minus one of his vampire fangs doesn't seem to stop him killing and munching rodents. Ugh! Which reminds me of the time he... No, I mustn't go there. Don't want my readers losing their Saturday brunch.
Above and below are just a few of his sleeping places over the last couple of weeks. Wish I could just flop down and zonk out the way he does. Top: Bottom step cat. In-tray Cat. Ant hill cat.
Foot of page: Deck cat. Patio chairs cat. Sneaky bed cat (he hurled himself at the door and pushed his way in and had dozed off before I caught him. Or was he just pretending? He knows he's not allowed on unmade beds. Bottom: Mr Grumpy's lap cat.