Monday, 31 January 2011

Men and supermarkets

Having had so many rows with Mr G in supermarkets, where he ruins my shopping experience - dawdling in aisles, picking up new things and looking at them, wandering into the clothes section and perhaps even (gasp, impatient tapping of male foot, looking at watch and grumbling and limiting me to ten minutes only) trying them on - I now try to wangle it so that he goes alone.

He returns like a trapper from the snowy wilderness, or a cave man from a brontosaurus hunt, dragging his booty in through the front door and demanding an instant mug of tea for his pains. He prides himself on having done the whole thing in twenty minutes flat, including having to scan his goods twice through the self-service scanner because the assistant who had to approve the purchase of my wine box accidentally wiped out everything he'd just scanned. (Did I smile?)

At least this leaves me free to go on a sneaky trip all on my own, where I can dilly and dally to my heart's content.

Are all men like this? Does anyone know a man who actually enjoys supermarket shopping (and isn't gay!)?

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Fairport Convention

It's strange to see what was once such a huge band back in the '70s playing our small local theatre, but the intimate setting really suited the music and made the gig quite special. It was also strange to see the young men grown old, but there was nothing old about the energy they put into their playing.

I felt the years stripping off me. I was 27 again and working as a rock journalist (what an amazing job that was, I did it for ten years) and still dreaming of making it big as a singer-songwriter. I was born in the wrong era. Nowadays, anyone with a home recording set-up can get their music on YouTube. In fact, I have been Googling courses in home recording so I can learn how to do it.

I came home on a high - yet it would have been even better if I could have shared the evening with a friend or a partner. Mr G refused to go on the grounds that he didn't like Fairport. Steeleye Span are on soon and I know he likes them, but when I suggested buying tickets, once again he said he didn't want to go. He does very little these days but veg out in front of the telly. How he doesn't get fat, I just don't know. But Christ, it's so very boring! I have made a vow to myself to go to concerts more often. I deserve a few treats. I shall just have to not mind going alone and looking like an eccentric old hippy lady - which, I suppose, is exactly what I am!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

The Patron Saint of Lost Things

My friend Jill has a pet patron saint. She is called Mother Cabrini and she can be relied upon to find you a parking spot even in the most crowded of places. I have witnessed Jill's prayers to Mother C. being answered on several occasions when I have been a passenger in her car and it has quite taken my breath away.

Now, I don't drive and am in no need of parking spots. Years ago, I had a St Christopher medallion but I lost it and I hardly travel these days (these two events are unconnected). Today, I realised I had lost something else. I had lunch with my friend M, opened my wallet, only to find it completely empty, no sign of the £50 I took from the ATM yesterday.

If you read my last couple of entries, you'll know how distracted I have been on account of the flat that never was. Maybe, whilst struggling with bagm credit card wallet and brolly, I forgot to take it out of the machine. Maybe, while paying for my coffee in M&S, when I left my wallet on the counter while scrabbling for my coin purse, someone whipped the cash out of it. Whatever happened, it has gone.

So I looked up the patron saint of lost things, who happens to be St Anthony of Padua and I prayed to him to help me find my cash. I'll let you know if my prayer has a result. I doubt it, though. My money has probably already gone up somebody's nose in coke, or through their lungs as dope, or through their kidneys as alcohol. Or even into their wardrobe as a nice new item of clothing from M&S!

Why I can't work

It was so obvious. I can't think why I didn't spot it earlier. For three whole years I have been unable to understand why, as soon as I sat in front of the computer, my mind turned to mush and I felt utterly exhausted. I thought the reason was psychological, but no, it's physical and there's damn all I can do about it.

Three years ago (plus a few months), Mr Grumpy had his strokes. For fear of bashing him in the night when I turned over, because he was in such pain, I moved to the downstairs bedroom, which is much noisier than the upstairs one in terms of traffic noise (though not in terms of Mr G's snoring and habit of falling asleep with the radio or TV on - I have to have silence when I sleep, he has to have noise).

Then two more things happened to make sleeping downstairs more difficult. First, some local hooligan shot the double glazing with a ball-bearing gun and broke it. Second, a new bus route started up, and it came right past my window. And there's a third, too, now I come to think of it, which is that some idiot teenagers from the estate at the end of the road have acquired those ear-splittingly noisy Italian motor scooters and roar up and down at all hours.

For the first few months, I tried earplugs, but after several trips to the doc with 'otitis externa' - eczema in the ear - I had to give them up. Then I went on line and finally found the white noise machine that exudes a gentle hiss all night and blots out a lot of the noise (though not the blasted early morning birds!)

Right. Now we're getting to the heart of it. As Mr G won't have the heating on until either of us starts turning blue, the only way I can work (it's 43 degrees F here as I write) is by having a fan heater on. Fan heaters sound like white noise. My brain thinks, 'ah, it's bedtime' and I start dozing off! So there it is. Either I turn the heater off and am too cold to work, or I turn it on and fall into a zomboid state. I can't win.

Yet another strong reason for moving, as I'll never be able to write another book till I do.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Even more gutted!

With promises of loans from friends and family, I went forth and issued my bid for the flat. I've just heard that someone offered £30,000 more than the asking price. Bet it's a developer wanting to turn it into a two-bedder and ruin all its charm.

Hunting for property takes so much out of me. I have to give up a whole day and travel for two hours each way, only to trail round a series of depressing, decaying hovels that need thousands spending on them to make them even habitable. No wonder anything half decent gets snapped up. But when will it be my turn to have the winning bid?

Monday, 24 January 2011


I am so depressed. The agent just rang and told me he'd had five full asking price offers on the flat, so now they are asking everyone to put forward their best and final offer by noon on Wednesday. I can't stretch to more than the asking price. Even if I were to pay that, I'd have to cash in my ISA and my premium bonds.

I was the first to offer the full amount. That flat should have been mine. When I walked in, it had such a lovely atmosphere that I felt it was putting my arms around me and hugging me. It must have done that to all the others as well, the faithless so-and-so!

It is so unfair. I was already living in it in my imagination and it's the only one in my price range that has come up for sale in that area for at least two years. But then, I suppose it was naive of me to expect justice and honour from an estate agent.

The long wait

I am chewing my fingernails and my stomach is gnawing at me as I wait to hear from the estate agent. It's 3.25 pm. I suppose they are waiting to see how many offers come in today, and then the family of the owner of the flat will, I suppose, choose the person who has made the highest offer and is in the best position to proceed.

I have offered the asking price, have nothing to sell and need no mortgage. But if it goes for above the asking price, then I shall have to borrow, and may not be in as good a position as somebody else with more cash. I am so on edge, I can't concentrate on a thing. I should be working, but just can't put my mind to it. I didn't even go to the gym, which would have been good for me under the circumstances. Instead, I ate a fattening lunch of four slices of grilled fresh black pudding, some leftover potatoes sauted with cracked black pepper and a dash of Worcester Sauce, and a pile of salad. I've just baked some cherry and coconut biscuits and might just have to have one. It will taste better than bitten fingernails!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Writing Resolutions Workshop

I attended a workshop in Covent Garden yesterday hoping it would kickstart me into doing some regular writing again. I don't know what's happened. I used to be so prolific, writing short stories, keeping notebooks full of ideas, writing books just for the love of it...

I think one of the problems is that the arthritis in my fingers limits my typing, and as the appraisals and editing I do to earn a living require so much typing, it's too painful to do any more. Then there is the problem of trying to write in a freezing cold room. But, as a result of going to the workshop, I now see that there is no need to try and write thousands of words a day. Just a page would do, so long as it exercises the writing muscle. The hardest thing to do is start - and I used to find that the easiest. I was forever starting books, then abandoning them. I've even thrown some away which were laboriously typed in pre-computer days. (Well, on re-reading them they did seem like dire rubbish, my attempts at a Mills & Boon which failed to nail the genre.)

So... what am I going to write today? Well, unfortunately I have a job to finish by tomorrow, a short appraisal on somebody's first chapter, so I probably shan't start writing till tomorrow. And then...? Oh, darn it, I should try and fit in that page today, but I'm damned if I'm going to miss Lark Rise to Candleford! Perhaps a coffee, then a trip to the gym to wake me up. That mind-mapping they made us do yesterday, down on our knees on the floor with coloured pens, wore my brain out! I'd never heard of a mind map and didn't have a clue what I was supposed to be doing and ended up with a page covered in circles, hearts, pink pussy cats and... a ball and chain!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Dream flat

A friend tipped me off about a flat she'd seen online. I immediately rang up and found I was speaking to the agent through whom I'd sold a flat 14 years ago. He said it had just come on and already they had more than 20 people booked in to see it.

It was a probate sale and the gentleman who showed me round was elderly, courteous, polite and very emotional as it was his best friend who had died and he was an executor of the Will. The moment I walked in, I fell in love with it. So often in London, you walk into somewhere which has been done up to the nines and looks like a show apartment rather than a real home. This had a beautiful, calm, warm atmosphere. The late owner had lived there for 30 years and I could still feel his friendly presence.

I rushed back to the agent and made a full asking price offer, but was warned that there would probably be several other bids and the price could get pushed up beyond my reach. I'm trying not to think about it, but mentally I am already living there and will be gutted if/when my hopes get dashed. It's the only property I have really fallen in love with since I bought the little cottage I owned in 2002, and sold in order to pay off a debt. (Idiot! I could have added the sum to the mortgage but I never thought of that at the time and that tiny cottage is now worth £550,000!!! Well, it is in trendy Highgate.)

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Busy, busy, busy

Having such a busy week, I've scarcely had time to draw breath. Am off to Heathrow later to wave goodbye to my goddaughter and family who are returning to Vancouver. Will catch up with you all later. In the meantime, for the first time ever, every single bud on my orchid is in flower. Isn't it beautiful? Winter seems a strange time for it to be flowering, though - especially on a cold window sill in an unheated kitchen. Anyone know anything about orchids?

Monday, 17 January 2011

At the Tate

I've already mentioned this on Facebook so those who read it there can skip this post. I was triumphant at having made it to the Gauguin Exhibition on the very last day, even though I could hardly see anything for the crowds. Really, people with pushchairs and small children should be given their own entry times. Small people were running around all over the place, barging into people, tripping me up and generally making a crowded situation even more difficult. One couple had three plus a pushchair with a baby in. There were two people in motorised wheelchairs and you couldn't relax and gaze at the paintings because you had to have your wits about you to see what was coming your way in terms of wheels and small feet.

For all that, I was knocked out by the paintings. The heat and sensuality simmered in his colour palette but I wasn't prepared for the dark, brooding quality that hung over many of the works, the corruption in paradise, death and the devil. In almost every painting there was a dark object or figure, something with a hint of menace. It gave an extra edge to the artist I had mistakenly thought he was.

Then, just as I had picked up a copy of the book on Gauguin in the shop, the alarms went off and the loudspeaker said the building had to be evacuated. Everyone surged towards the main exit to find staff barring our way as the escalators had been switched off and the doors locked. The fire exits were not very obvious and no staff were pointing them out.

I followed a crowd who were making slow progress through rooms, round corners, eventually joining up with another crowd pouring down the stairs. We funnelled into a dark, gloomy passageway and even even narrower, darker stone staircase. The people with the toddlers and pram were in front of me. In front of them was an elderly woman on sticks, grimacing with pain and taking her time to descend each stair. If there had been a fire or an explosion and panic had started, we would all have been goners. I have never experienced a more haphazard evacuation. It was a shambles. I felt shaken and scared by the time I got through the narrow door into daylight.

I have emailed the Tate to tell them my thoughts, and have also sent a letter to the London Evening Standard as I felt so strongly about it. Large public buildings need efficiently drilled staff who know exactly what to do in an emergency. Yesterday's lot were flapping and didn't seem to know what to do. Where were the fire marshals? Why wasn't the plan kicking in? I hope other people have complained, too, and that the Tate bosses take it on board. Something as serious as this cannot just be ignored.

Stomach bad again

My stomach feels terrible and I have had to text a friend who was expecting me for lunch and really looking forward to it, to say I wouldn't be there. To get to my friend's requires a bus to the station, a tube to Kings Cross, another tube to Barnet, then a bus. It takes around two hours to get there. Added into the mix was a visit to the dental hygienist first, then, at 2.30, a long walk to view a house for sale. And it is simply tippling down with rain.

I have an hour to try and get my stomach to rights before setting out to the dentist's. Then I shall come straight back afterwards, dripping wet. Hope my friend will forgive me. Right now, I am clutching my stomach and groaning. I did get stressed out when I was stuck in the crowd as they evacuated the Tate Gallery yesterday, and the stew I made last night was very rich, so perhaps those two factors are to blame. Why can't I be normal and wake up feeling OK every morning? All my friends think I am so unreliable, but I really can't help it.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

A cemented soul

I have just realised why I can't write anything creative at the moment. It's because my soul is depressed and weighed down. My thoughts, instead of soaring in space, are wearing concrete wellies. I may as well be at the bottom of the Thames, looking at the world through muddy water.

I was deep in Writing Magazine just now,drinking a mug of Earl Grey and munching a piece of my slightly singed cherry cake, searching for inspiration amongst the magazine's pages when all of a sudden Mr G clumped in with, "What are we having for dinner then?" Having just had tea and cake, I was replete and didn't want to think of more food, but he got ratty. Usually he just gets on with cooking something (as it's his house) and asks me if I fancy any. If he wishes me to cook, he needs to tell me earlier in the day. I often offer to cook, but he is much better at it than me, and usually doesn't like the way I cook or the meals I produce. For example, I like to throw fruit in a curry, and I love using root vegetables, which he hates, so, to keep the peace, I let him get on with it. After his strokes, I did all the cooking for a few day, then he insisted on taking over because he needed to. He wouldn't give up, even if he dropped stuff on the floor a hundred times. He is brilliant, I admire him immensely, but he is very difficult to live with and our food tastes hardly coincide at all.

There was nothing in my fridge and I hadn't a clue what was in his (yes, we have separate fridges because I can't cram my fruit and salad on top of his bacon and pies) so I answered vaguely, "I don't know, I'm not hungry at the moment" - because I can't decide on a meal when I'm feeling full. A few cross words ensued and he threw down the spuds and got out the frying pan, snorting "I'll sort myself out. I can't wait for you." Well, I wouldn't expect him to. He can eat when he damn well likes!

He goes to bed two hours before I do, gets up at least two hours earlier and his appetite is set to different times. He likes dinner at 6 pm, I like it between 8 and 8.30. And when I'm trying to think creative thoughts, I need to be left alone. I don't ask for much, just for some space. Now, I'm back in the freezing attic again, contemplating washing my hair and catching a chill - though that won't be as bad as the chill downstairs in the kitchen.

The unpleasant interruption has killed the tiny little ideas that were trying to germinate, like a sudden hard frost would wither seedlings. If only I could find my own place to live. Then we might get on better as I wouldn't feel like a permanent house guest. Perhaps my weighed-down soul would be able to shake off its concrete boots and learn how to fly again.


Couldn't sleep last night, dead tired, so even though I eventually found my Tate membership card, I haven't got the energy to trek to the Tate Modern today. Tomorrow is the very last day of the exhibition but I think we're getting visitors. Will I ever get face to face with a Gauguin? I guess not!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Wretched transport!

As a non-driver, I am totally reliant on transport and if it's not working, I'm stuffed. The Gauguin Exhibition at the Tate Modern has been on since last August and a friend said she'd like us to see it together. Well, August wasn't convenient for her, neither was September, then October came and went and I was getting to the point where I thought, 'Damn it, I'll go on my own,' but it didn't seem fair to her.

A few weeks ago, when I reminded her it was soon to finish, she finally admitted that she had seen it without me. Grrr! Now there are just three days left. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, it poured with rain and I didn't even feel like walking as far as the bus stop, let alone the long walk to the Tate once you've got off the Tube at Southwark.

Yesterday I was set to go but there was a signal failure on the line. Today, same thing. I need to get to Finchley Road and change onto the Jubilee Line, but guess where the signal failure is? Yes, Finchley Road. It seems I am doomed never to get face to face with a real, live Gauguin and inhale its sensuality and vibrancy.

I still have Saturday and Sunday, but an email came from the Tate warning everyone that it would be packed out. In future, I shall make my own arrangements and go by myself. I have a concert ticket for the 29th to see the old folk group, Fairport Convention. Nobody I knew wanted to go so once more I thought, 'Damn it, I'll go on my own'. Once, I had a dream of taking Sandy Denny's place in that band, in the days when I was a wandering minstrel who wouldn't go anywhere without her guitar. Now, it's just the male musicians who will be performing the music. There is just a teensy-weensy little scrap of that dream still fluttering in a corner of my mind like a shred of cloth caught on a thorn. Maybe, if I sing the chorus loudly and tunefully enough from my seat in the front row...

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

In the nick of time!

Just as well I have started exercising more. I stuck myself on the scales today and I have put on a staggering 6 lbs since the start of December. OMG!!! Here are today's good and bad statistics.

Exercise taken: half an hour at the gym. I struck a really good bargain and instead of paying £150 for 6 months, I bargained them down to £100 for cash. I could have got a whole year for £180 but I am determined not to be here in a year's time. I said last year that one more winter in this freezing house would kill me. It's a wonder I'm still here!

5 A Day ingredients: muesli with grapes and cherries on for breakfast. Banana for elevenses. Carrot and coriander soup for lunch. And a veggie pasta for dinner.

Sins: one M&S pistachio biscuit. My halo is gleaming. Wonder if I can restrain my hand from reaching towards the wine box?

So many dreams

The last three nights have seen my sleep invaded by vivid dreams. I've been riding a lovely chestnut horse (but had the anxiety of coming back to a deserted riding and not knowing what I should do with my mount); I've been given my own radio show, then found the headphones wouldn't work and I couldn't get phone-ins or studio guests and had to gabble on for two hours, and even found myself telling my listeners about having healed someone's shoulder by beaming colours into them (this really happened) - I guess this was another anxiety dream. More and more, dream after dream, pleasant ones mixed with tensions and anxieties. It's as if all my dreams had been jammed up in my psyche somewhere and are now tumbling out like rocks and logs in flood water.

Could it be just coincidence that three days ago I started taking Magnesium and B Complex tablets, having read that they could help you sleep better?

PS: I took my pills at lunchtime today. Big mistake. I started feeling dozy about an hour later and almost dozed off on the treadmill. My eyes actually closed on the bus and I nearly missed my stop. Must make sure I only take them at night.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

My new health regime

This is my elderly version of Bridget Jones. My name was once Read-Jones, so I think I can get away with it!

Exercise taken today
: 2 mile walk taken in 1 mile stretches, punctuated by a visit to the charity shop to take a bag in. I bought a pair of M&S jogging bottoms off the £1 rail - does that count towards exercise? As I was paying for them, I remembered the donation that was weighing down my shoulder bag consisting of £3 in pennies and twopenny pieces. I handed it to the woman, she put it down with a thump on the counter. Coins flew everywhere. I beat a hasty retreat.

Ingredients towards my 5 a day: 6 cherries on my muesli, a banana, carrot soup and half an avocado. That makes 4 of the 5, but I haven't had dinner yet. However, I know it's going to be chicken curry. Oh dear.

Sins: a pistachio biscuit, a very small Cadbury's chocolate biscuit that gave me indigestion so I shan't have any more, ever, and the very last of Mr G's home-made fairy cakes with butter cream icing on top and lots of hundreds and thousands. Yum. He made five, or was it six? I ate five, or was it six? Oh deary dear! I should also add the glass (or two) of wine that I shall need to wash the curry down with. Not a good start to the New Year. Not even as good as yesterday, which was 3 miles walked, two fairy cakes, no biscuits and an entire day on fruit and veg.

I thank my lucky stars that I'm too old to get spots. Not on my face, at least - memories of teenage spots giving a new edge to the last line of my Hindsight poem. Many were the times that I 'prodded a painful spot'! And I reckon my over-use of acne cream has contributed to the very dry skin I have around my chin and nose today If only I hadn't... hindsight strikes again.

Monday, 10 January 2011


Since the end of November, apart from one day when I walked four miles, I have been a total slob. My gym membership ran out and there is just nowhere nice to walk round here, just the pavements and the boring recreation ground where I can do a circuit around the football pitch. And what an icy wind whips across that field. It brings tears to your eyes. It's bang opposite my doctor's surgery so I half hope to be noticed if I have a jog and patted on the back and held up as a good example to the rest of the patients, most of whose jogging days are well over, judging from the walking sticks and zimmer frames that you have to fight your way round to get to the reception desk.

I don't want to put all that weight I lost back on again, so I forced myself out today. My last GP said that, to be fit, we all needed to walk three miles per day. I have done my three miles in two stretches, one to the Post Office and back, coming back the long way round, and a mile each way to the charity stuff with a bag of throw-outs. Yes, I know what you're thinking: did she come back with anything?

The answer is yes, she did! A purple velvet hoody and a purple scarf, just the shade to go with my fab new coat, reduced from nearly £200 to £45. It's pinkish-purple, dark blue and black and I just HAD to have it!

I must take a piccy of it in the daylight; it looks crap in the bedroom lighting. Believe me, it really is nice and, being 47% wool, it's warm, too.Now, all I need is a day when it's not going to rain, so I can go out and show it off.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Mouse Finger

I am suffering from Mouse Finger. I use my middle finger to work the mouse and, with both my sister and my friend Jacula challenging me to many enjoyable bouts of Lexulous, Word Scraper, Scrabble and Word Twist, not to mention speeding away at Scramble against the clock, I am now clicking much more than usual and my finger, which suffers from arthritis more than the others, and has actually gone all gnarled and twisted, is very swollen.

I am using a new cream containing arnica and ginger and it does take a lot of the pain away. But I think I'm going to have to rest it it for a couple of days so, if I am a bit slow having my turn, now you know the reason. It gets me out of doing the washing-up, too.

Talking of mice, take a look at this. It's a giant rat but, if this isn't cuddly, what is? I'd certainly have one as a pet! It's not at all afraid of humans, probably because it had never seen one before. Lucky rat!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Poem found

This was in one of the heaps. It was obviously meant to be a rough jotting, a start of something longer, but I think it makes a point just as it is. (I have also found quite a few musical jottings; scribbled melody lines in my own musical shorthand and odd lines and verses. O, to have a piano again!)


The bitter tang of hindsight: 'I wish, I wish, I wish...'
'If only...' and 'Why didn't I...' serve up a sour dish.
If I could have that chance again, would I, or would I not?
Whichever way you look at it, it prods a painful spot.

Spring cleaning (a little in advance).

The porch has a black and white tiled floor and has been filthy for ages. There seemed no point in cleaning it when snowy boots were tramping in and out. Today though, a shaft of sunshine illuminated just how grotty it was. Mr G had bought a new deck-scrubbing brush and it worked a treat. Floor was scrubbed and rinsed and mopped with wads of kitchen towel, crevices were de-cobwebbed (making sure there were no living inhabitants) and I even cleaned the windows.

Feeling pleased with myself, I thought, 'What shall I tackle next?' and my eyes lighted on the heap of paperwork on the futon in my old office, where my laptop still resides.

My dad was a hoarder. After he died, we found in the garage every copy of The Liverpool Echo going back to 1949 when Mum and Dad moved into the house. He was forever tearing interesting items out of the paper - he read the local papers and The Times - and posting them to me. As a journalist for many years, I too got into the habit of snipping items out of newspapers and magazines, not just those that might come in handy for an article or a story, but items relating to health, home and garden, recipes, you name it. Before all my stuff went into storage, I had four 2-drawer filing cabinets containing files labelled Health, Home, Recipes, etc. Now I just have two and they are stuffed to the limit, so things tend to accumulate.

It has taken me two hours to clear the sofa. Now I have to clear the 'halfway house', which is a cabinet at the foot of the stairs, upon which it is my wont to place items that are 'on their way upstairs'. Of course, they rarely make it because if they do, they just join the futon heap. So my task for tomorrow is to tackle them.

Will I find the missing back statement from last August? And how about the card containing a long-lost friend's new address, the loss of which has resulted in them becoming long-lost all over again? Watch this space. I meet even find a cheque I forgot to pay into the bank, or a letter saying I've won £100 on the Premium Bonds. No? Well, there's nowt wrong with the power of positive thinking, is there? I have conjured up an image of a disembodied hand writing me a cheque for a million quid in my mind. Perhaps, if I can just concentrate hard enough...

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Four years of blogging!

I can't believe I started this blog in 2007. As I never go back and re-read any of my old entries, I am going to start pruning the boring ones and the ones that whinge too much. I was reading in a Writer's News article about blogging that nobody likes reading other people's moans... though the reason I started the blog in the first place was so I could have a good grumble!

I wonder whether this blog has lost its way about. I'm thinking of starting a new one under my real name, that deals purely with writing and creative projects - in the hope that some agent or publisher might stumble across it of course and think, 'That sounds like a bestselling idea, I'll sign her up'. Well, one can dream!

Anyway, if I do it, I shall tell you where to find it. I may even plonk some chapters of whatever I'm twiddling with on it, so you can give me some feedback. (Big gulp: yes, I think I can take it.)

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The orchid's progress

One more bud to go! This is the orchid that was brought back from the dead by repotting it and giving it some Baby Bio. I think it's saying thank-you.

(An operation to have a testicle removed is called an orchidectomy. And a man with only one ball is a 'monorchid.' What is the linguistic relationship between testicles and the beautiful orchid plant - anybody know?)

It's a boy - again!

Our friend gave birth to son number 5 this afternoon. Wonder if there is a boy's name meaning 'youngest and last'?

Quick catch-up

Over the weekend I decided to back out of buying that flat as I realised I couldn't supervise the building work from 25 miles away. I emailed both the solicitor and the estate agent and haven't heard a thing from either. I was expecting to get an angry call from the agent but... nothing. A tiny cottage has come up for sale in East Barnet, Herts, near a good friend of mine. It means a bus to the tube station again, but that seems to have become the story of my life. I hope to see it on Saturday. If I bought it, I'd have to build a very big shed in the garden.

Our friend who has four boys already, aged 11, 9, 3 and 17 months, is in hospital right now giving birth to baby no. 5. I know she's praying for a girl at last. I can't wait to hear what she's had! Talk about being on tenterhooks. I feel as if I'm on a very large, spiky porcupine! Mr Grumpy is getting the worst of it as he has been babysitting three of the boys since 6.30 this morning. Tee-hee! The two youngest adore him and cling to his legs. I think they look on him as their granddad-substitute.

I killed two birds with one stone this morning. My poor chiropractor broke two ribs before Christmas and has been out of action for several weeks. Today was her first day back, so I went and got tweaked and twisted and then, by chance, the chiropodist was free, so I zoomed in and asked her to have a look at my fungal toenail (which was amongst the ailments I listed in my very first blog entry). I had been treating it with Curanail from Boots Chemist for two years, at a cost of £24 per bottle, then I thought, 'darn this' and mentioned it to my GP and got a bottle of something called Trosyd, which I promptly spilled all over my Turkish rug!

There was a bit left, so I have been applying it twice a day, but I thought if the chiropodist could shave the nail down, the stuff could get deeper into the nail. She filed it, then filed my callus which builds up on my right foot every year so that, by sandal-wearing time, I have a week with one of those callus-removing plasters on, then she clipped all my nails and gave me a lovely foot massage with E45 cream. She said I am doing all the right things and looking after my feet very well, so I belted for the bus and practically floated up the street to home.

Now I have put on the heating, as he isn't here to tell me not to, and my next task is to see if there is anything else in my wardrobe that can be thrown out. Wish my goddaughter wasn't in Shropshire right now as she is the world's best wardrobe editor, pulling stuff out, scowling, saying how horrible it is and hurling it into a bin bag. (As soon as she's gone, I pull half of it out again, of course!)

That's it for now. Still no phone call. It can't be long now, though. After four kids already, you'd think they'd pop out like greased rugby balls! Rugby balls with arms and legs, that is. And now, before I can go on any more flights of fancy, I am off to check the web to see if anyone else has thought of a kids' book idea I had yesterday. As my fingers are already crossed, I shall now cross my toes and eyes as well. Hope I don't fall off my chair!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

I'm over Eastenders!

I got hooked on the show about three years ago and though there isn't one handsome man or genuinely nice person in it, the amount of melodrama and murder kept me watching. But not any more. The latest plot twist involving the baby switch is just too horrid and too much.

It makes me think that the scriptwriters get together and, amidst goulish laughs, see who can come up with the most outrageous plot lines, with no regard whatsoever for the characters, or the feelings of the viewing audience. I find myself feeling sorry for the actors who have these storylines thrust upon them. How often, I wonder, do they cringe, or think, 'that's just not fair!' Yet, if they want to go on in the show and get paid their regular fee, there's sod all they can do about it.

It wasn't that long ago that poor Ronnie was reunited with the daughter she had as a teenager and was told by her wicked dad was dead, only to see her mown down by a car in front of her eyes. A few months later, she had a miscarriage, then at last got pregnant again, married Jack, with whom she'd been in love for years (the most wooden actor I have ever seen; who, when paralysed after being shot in the head looked no different from when he was normal), and finally had a baby at the same time as Cat had hers.

The lousy scriptwriters then decided that Ronnie's baby had to die. Not only that, but, while she was temporarily demented, and Cat was rushed to hospital with near-fatal bleeding, and Alfie, Cat's hubby was pissing it up in the pub, Ronnie took Cat's baby that was lying unattended in a room in the pub and left her own dead newborn son in its place.

For a short while, she pretended Cat's baby was hers, but then reason returned and she went to take it back, only to be stopped in her tracks by Jack, in one of the most contrived moments in a show chock-full of them. Jack thinks the baby is his and Ronnie is unable to take it back, so poor Cat and Alfie think their baby is dead.

I couldn't bear to watch last night's episode - especially as our friend down the road has gone into labour today. I hate the writers for using poor Ronnie, who was abused by her dad, who later left his millions to her spendthrift, featherbrained, bling-queen sister, Roxy, as their eternal punchbag. For once, I should like to have seen something go well for Ronnie in a series that specialises in having unlikeable characters commit ghastly crimes and get away with them.

So that's it. I'm not watching any more and it won't matter if Eastenders characters are wearing my clothes. (Mind you, that lilac top has still gone into the charity shop bag!)

Monday, 3 January 2011

Morning sky

It was such a change to see some blue sky this morning, after days of grey, that I rushed for the camera at 8.30 am and took this. It's a real tonic and, after says of gloom, both natural and emotional, I feel uplifted and optimistic again.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Vanishing posts

I deleted yesterday's posts because I had said too much and didn't want to upset Mr G. He is very kind and generous in many ways, and if he's a grouch, and odd in various ways, I must never forget that he has sustained brain damage from his brain haemorrhage and strokes. When they scanned his brain, there were large dead areas. Heaven only knows how he operates and passes for normal. I haven't had any brain damage and I have difficulty passing for normal half the time!

Was eating a mince pie earlier and a big chunk of tooth fell onto my plate. Not quite sure where from, but I shall be on the phone to the dentist on Tuesday. One poor friend of mine spent the whole of Christmas with raging toothache from an abscess. My very worst nightmare. It's nearly two years since I had one and the tooth has never been the same. There is a small pocket of infection still in it somewhere and, as the dentist told me, it will either cure itself, or the tooth will have to come out.

I've said this before (see the poem I wrote on the subject, which is in my blog a couple of years back), and I'll say it again: human teeth are a design fault. Mind you, I shouldn't like to be a crocodile with toothache!

Eastenders stole my clothes again!

In the past, Zainab, Jane and Jean have appeared in Eastenders wearing clothes that I wear regularly. Now, they are all passably young and attractive, but now - oh woe! - I have just spotted Big Mo in this mauve tunic of mine. Having seen her in it, I now realise that I Am Too Young To Wear Mauve. Or is it lavender, or even lilac? Into the charity shop bag with it. There's nothing like a good clothes clear-out to start a new year.