Two weeks ago, I bought six small tomato plants, all different varieties, at a farmers' market and planted them in a special canvas tomato bag placed on a wooden table that Mr G built to keep them high off the ground and well out of reach of insects, though I had to wipe some aphids off yesterday.
In this warm weather, they are growing like triffids and I have had to trim a lot of stems off and water them three times a day. I tell you, growing tomatoes (and rocket, which is in another container that I have encircled in copper tape to keep the slugs off) is a major commitment, second only to tending small children. I have just spotted my first tomato. I bet my mate Jacula has already got dozens on her tomato plants! I await photos...
The flowers I planted last weekend are beginning to look good, too. To my shame, I picked up a plastic bag from beneath the tomato table and found it contained some poor Busy Lizzies that I'd forgotten all about as I didn't have room for them. They were still alive, despite the heatwave, probably because the plastic formed just enough condensation to keep them going. I have given them a good soaking and planted them today. I hope they will reward me with lots of of flowers.
(There will be a photo but Blogger has just gone on the blink and won't upload pics.)
PS: WARNING! If you have a rodent phobia, don't look at my wildlife blog!
Some days work out well in the most unexpected ways. I decided, after weeks of laziness, to go to the gym and caught the bus. It was full, but a lovely young Asian woman with a toddler in a pushchair shoved up so I could sit next to her. The toddler was a beautiful little girl with a magical, mischievous smile. She smiled at me, stretched out a pudgy hand and got hold of my fingers and she and I held hands and played peekaboo round the hand-rail for the rest of the journey. Her mum said I was very honoured because she didn't act like that with most people and she must have really taken to me. I am very awkward around small children as I've had no experience of them but this one really changed my mind and captured my heart.
I had a good session on the machines and felt really energised even despite the hot, muggy weather. I came out feeling that the one thing that would make my morning complete would be an iced coffee, but all the outdoor tables in the coffee shops were taken, until I came to the Starbucks by the station. Unfortunately that was manned by the slowest barista in the universe and after ten minutes of standing in line, I gave up and went to Costa. Coming out with my iced hazelnut latte and 'breakfast loaf', a small, loaf-shaped banana muffin, I again found that all the tables had been bagged. One lady was sitting on her own so I asked if I could join her. She said she was with someone, but I could have the third chair.
I took the lid off my coffee (their washing machine had broken so they were using takeaway cardboard cups), only to find they'd given me a hot coffee instead of an iced one, but I couldn't be bothered to take it back as by that time I'd fallen into conversation with my table companion and discovered we shared a hometown - Liverpool - and she used to live in Devon near my daughter. She was a rep for a jewellery firm and her ambition was to write a children's book! We exchanged email addresses and I offered to critique anything she came up with.
Then her companion came out with their coffees and lo and behold, he and I discovered all kinds of music biz connections in common as he was a showbiz chauffeur who had spent 12 years working for Elton John and I used to be a rock music journalist. He took the lid off his coffee and guess what? He had managed to get the iced hazelnut latte of my dreams. Damn. Can't win 'em all!
PS. Why am I writing this at 5am? I'll tell you. Mr G got pressed into service as a chauffeur driving his friends and their four kids to Gatwick so he could bring their car back afterwards and save them 2 weeks' parking charges. They called for him at 4. I couldn't get back to sleep as my ears are itching like mad again, so here I am, up with the lark (or rather the magpie, in my case; the one with the nest outside my bedroom window) and I have a horrible feeling that I've been conned by the cat and he's just struggled through his second breakfast, Mr G having already fed him.
Anyone remember the Fat Freddy's Cat cartoons? I adore them. Flad is a real Fat Freddy's Cat. One of my favourite FF cartoon strips featured Fat Freddy going away and accidentally shutting the cat in the house for 24 hours. When Freddy returns, he checks the house to see if the cat has 'done' anything, can't find a thing and strokes the cat and tells him what a good boy he is. In the final frame, the cat has a manic grin on his face and the 'thinks bubble' says: 'Just wait till he puts on his stereo headphones!' Two-breakfast Flad is right now on Mr Grumpy's bed. Oh joy!
Looking around at the dust and cobwebs in Mr G's house makes me feel ashamed. I should be cleaning the place, but each time I do, he stops me, saying it's his house and he'll do it. Only he doesn't. Every so often he mops the wooden floors but doesn't brush or vacuum them first, so the dirt just gets pushed around by the mop. He gazes at the wet planks, basking in a virtuous glow, but all I can see is wet dust and cat hairs. So every time he goes out, I rush for the Hoover and the long-handled cobweb brush.
My mother hated ironing. So do I. I wonder if there is an ironing gene? If so, we lacked it. I hate vacuuming, especially as Mr G's Henry Hoover is far too heavy for me. Lugging it up the stairs almost breaks my back. If I had a lighter one, who knows, I might quite like doing it. I hate dusting, though it's a necessary evil, but I love polishing things till they gleam.
I love hanging out the washing and try to devise a scientific way of doing it, with heavier things like trousers in front and lighter things like pillow cases and socks at the back. I hang socks in pairs. On still days like today, I nip out and whiz the rotary dryer round, wishing I had a trudging donkey to pull it. Or a slave. A handsome Mediterranean boy with gleaming brown skin, a six-pack and twinkling brown eyes (down, girl!).
I love plumping up cushions and tidying and moving pictures, ornaments and tables around to see if they look better somewhere else and change the ambiance. Yet my bedroom is a tip because I have to share the cupboard space with Mr G's old computers and keyboards and ancient floppy disks with faded labels which no longer fit today's computers.
I love planting things in the garden and looking after them, but hate trimming hedges and pruning bushes as I'm too short for the job, and lack the arm muscles to wield the electric hedge trimmer. I love mowing grass but hate raking up afterwards, which means fallen leaves in autumn are a real pain. Literally.
Changing bed linen is fine apart from the battle to stuff the duvet into the cover. I've tried the inside out method, the standing in it method, you name it, I always end up looking as if I'm wearing a flowery burka. Hate cleaning windows, love polishing silver. Used to enjoy painting and decorating till the arthritis took over my hands.
Have I missed anything? I don't know if I've published this silly verse before, but here it is again as it's somewhat appropriate to the subject even though it applies to men.
They ask if I mind doing housework. I tell them I don't give a f---. Just give me that kinky maid's outfit And a hoover on maximum suck!
Last night, I had a rare night out in my area. I'd got chatting with a lovely lady who runs a stall in the market selling crystals and she told me that Jeff Phillips, aka The Laughing Postman, had been booked to do an evening. Never having been to anything like this before, I shelled out £4 for a ticket. I nearly didn't go as it had started to rain and my tum was playing up (again!), but I was glad that I did.
The medium was a really off-the-wall character. Lovely man with a bubbly sense of humour. He went round the room 'tuning in' to different people. Luckily for me, he started at the back, because he was running out of steam by the time he reached the front and they only got a couple of minutes each.
The first thing he said to me was, 'You're surrounded by books!' Then he said, 'I've got a father figure coming through... He's singing a song and playing the piano,' and he burst into 'I do Like to Be Beside the Seaside', which my dad was always singing. He said how Dad used to love the family get-togethers when we all had a sing-song. Absolutely true. Like me, he could play anything by ear. He said Dad wanted me to cheer up and calm down!!! (Dad was always saying, 'Cheer up, love!' It was one of his catch-phrases and I'd totally forgotten.)
He mentioned the hat Dad always wore, but got it wrong. He said it was a cap but Dad always wore a green tweed trilby. He also said he saw him in wellies in the garden, but Dad wasn't keen on gardening. He said Dad wanted me to know his leg was all right now. I couldn't think what that meant, till I remembered he was always getting painful cramp in his leg which woke him up every night.
Then he told me that the spirits could see I'd been experimenting with different kinds of healing - doing it, rather than receiving it - and I was a natural healer and needed to find the right method for me. I was to take my Reiki Masters (Level 3, I'm only on Level 1) and study crystal healing. And my education was not yet over and I was going to go back to university to do a course in something, and might even end up teaching. (What? At my age? Professor Read? I don't think so!)
Funny thing is, I'd gone there wearing my mum's necklace in the hope there might be a message from her - or even from Louise, my friend who died last October.. I was very surprised that it was my dad who came through. Jeff also said my dad came from Manchester or Liverpool (it was Liverpool), and that I was about to get a visit from a friend from up north called Carol or Karen (it's Claire and she's coming tomorrow) and she would be inviting me to go up there much sooner than I'd expected. (She wants to drive me there tomorrow, but I've already said no!)
So... nothing of huge import, but very, very interesting. I think he also mentioned that I would write a book about healing. I've got Jeff's card and might just book a private session...
I took an Imodium and my stomach finally settled. The hygienist was a sweet young Afrikaans girl with a gentle touch, a great change from the normal pick and shovel method that leaves you with aching teeth and bleeding gums. After that came a half-hour check-up. My gums were pronounced in good condition, my Greek dentist shaved off a bit of the filling on the dodgy tooth and suggested giving it another few months to settle down. But if it doesn't (prepare to wince), he plans to cut off one of the roots of the tooth in the hope of curing the pressure pain and then being able to crown it. If that fails, it will have to come out.
But then he mentioned my bridge. He didn't fit it. It is a poor fit and has a ledge at the back which catches food and could cause infection. He thinks it might have to be changed, but the teeth it is attached to are in such feeble shape that they might not survive the bridge's removal. I don't dare to think what his solution for this problem might be - or the cost!
My stomach is much better today, which isn't surprising considering that during the course of yesterday I took paracetamol, Imodium and bicarbonate of soda in addition to my regular Omeprazole and Mebeverine. I probably won't be able to go to the loo for a week now.
Was woken in the night by nasty stabs of earache. Doctor can't see me till Tuesday so I've bought some stuff called Ear Calm from the chemist. Hope it does the trick. My ear is constantly ringing and feels as if there is pressure inside it. I think it's a middle ear problem. Wonder if the eczema can get onto the inner side of the eardrum? God, I hope not!
My IBS pills have stopped working. My first lot, the ones that worked, came in a white packet with a bit of yellow on. I now have two new lots, one in a green and white packet and one in a purple and white packet. I tried the greenies for a couple of days and felt awful. Then I took the purplies and still feel awful. I had this problem with my ulcer tablets. Ranitidine in a white packet worked fine, but in a green packet didn't work at all. My god-daughter has found the same thing. Even Mr G has had this problem. Does every factory that makes them, use a slightly different method? There must be some small variation, but what? My stomach is right back to where it was before I started taking Mebeverine. I woke at 6 am with awful stomach pain, have made several dashes to the loo, feel no better and have to face a trek to the dentist of an hour and a half each way on public transport. Just not fair!
I am staring at my ticket to see Seasick Steve tonight at the Festival Hall. I love his music but I just can't summon up the energy or enthusiasm to drag myself there on the bus and tube in the rush hour then back again, in the dark, alone, on heavy, thundery night. I know I'm a wimp. I knew when I bought the ticket that I probably wouldn't go, but I hoped I'd be able to at least try. I think the main problem is going alone. It's just no fun. Squeezing into my lone seat in the middle of a row, surrounded by couples and groups all having fun together and me, with no-one to talk to, no-one to share it with.
Back in the late seventies and early eighties when I was a writer for a rock music magazine, I always went to gigs alone because I was given a single free ticket, and I was writing about the band, and I knew my row would be a press row full of other journalists I knew, and we'd all go backstage afterwards and get drunk and stoned with the band, and probably end up in bed with someone. Those were the days!
But it seems that the older I get, the more alone I feel, with nobody to share my enthusiasms, nobody who wants to go to concerts or plays with me. I asked all my friends and nobody was remotely interested.
Mr G would have been. He likes Seasick Steve, too. But Mr G won't venture into London. He won't even go to the local theatre and twice I have booked tickets for the pair of us, and had to throw them away. So I didn't even tell him I'd bought myself a ticket and now, even if I wanted to go, I wouldn't dare tell him because of the reaction I'd get, the mockery and jibes.
Years ago, when I first met him, I had a lovely flat in an area I loved and I was very happy. I used to see him at weekends, then come home and see my friends and go to things during the week. Now, I feel I am on one of those weekends. A very, very long weekend. A five year weekend, in fact. I long to go home. I am fed up to the back teeth with being here, in this awful place with nowhere to go for a walk unless you have a car and can drive out to Black Park, or further into the countryside. I want to go home so desperately, but I haven't got a home and my stuff has been languishing in storage for... well, some of it has been there since I sold my cottage in Highgate in 2003. The larger things came out in 2005, and went back in in 2007 when Mr G had his strokes so I sold the house I'd been paying him to do up for me, without ever moving into it. £200 a month for storage. How many thousands is that over the years? Don't tell me, please!
I want to go back home now. Home to my pictures and ornaments and guitars and perfumed candles (which he hates), and books (ditto) and my own kitchen and garden - or balcony, at least. But I haven't got a home. I can't find one. I can't afford one. I am stuck.
When Mr G's late partner was still alive, he found a rose with her name - Gwyneth - and planted it in the garden. Yesterday her daughter visited us and Mr G picked her one of her mum's roses and to the delight of all of us, it turned out to be the first double-centred rose the bush had ever produced. Beautiful, and the scent is lovely, delicate and fragrant.
Next door's Houdini cat, the one that manages to escape despite all their efforts to keep her in, is a frequent visitor to Mr G's house (I can't call it 'our' house due to his constant firm reminders that it's 'his'). Thing is, you never know where she will turn up. I was sitting quietly, reading the Sunday papers, when I heard a rustling sound. There she was, curled up in the heap of plastic bags beside the fridge!
I am doing my best to help a new writer get published. We met last night so that I could read through his latest chapters. His name is Chris Monroe, he's a dad with two young children and he writes quirky children's books with exactly the right touch where language and humour are concerned. He is also an amateur ventriloquist and has sent me links to one of his stories which he published on the web, and his act on YouTube.
I hurt. Everywhere. Ankle is strapped up (old ligament injury has resurfaced, causing me to hobble painfully, and it affects my knee as well), tum is bad (ate half a choc bar yesterday; tell me, if you can't eat chocolate, is life still worth living?), have niggly pains in back and chest, stabbing pains in my worst arthritic finger kept me awake last night and I have a general feeling of what the French would call a malaise.
Mr Grumpy is at a funeral. A friend of his died last week. She was only 47 but had MS and her weight had ballooned to 27 stone due to a huge cyst in her womb. She was due for surgery in a fortnight, but suddenly collapsed and died, poor lady. So, in comparison to that, I am well, 'cos I'm still alive and... can it be?... the sun has come out!
We have hired a skip in order to clear out some rubbish. Just as well it wasn't being taken away today, because when I looked out of the window I saw that one of next door's very expensive Bengal cats had taken up residence!
Let's hope the glorious weather sticks around for a bit this time, because the bees are buzzing, the damsel flies are mating and everywhere looks green and lush. The fish have taken to basking just under the surface of the water, where it's warmest. (That's a white feather you can see floating near Mr Spot!)
On the downside, a friend of mine was admitted to hospital last night with what looks like jaundice, and my stomach is bad again, despite my IBS pills. I have to travel to N. London later, an hour and a half journey by tube, and with my guts roiling, and frequent dashes to the loo, I don't feel like it at all, but with two appointments to view flats that I've already postponed once, I really have to go. So I have just two hours to get better in. Fingers crossed...