Friends

31 March 2013

THE EASTER BUNNY

There’s only a week to go before I have to turn into an Easter Bunny and already the pressure is getting to me, making me wish I’d never started this caper. Every holiday it’s the same. I always have to make out I’m something else just to please the children. Honestly, I shall be glad when they’re grown up and past all this silliness.  

As you can tell, silliness is my word. The kids don’t think it odd seeing their father dress up in weird outfits. Mind you I quite enjoyed being a scary dude at Halloween, I look quite good in black and the pointed hat suited me. I did argue against being a witch, but the wife hadn’t got a wizards outfit. Wouldn’t you think, in this day and age, she could have knocked one up in the weeks prior to the big day? I mean she does have twelve months to think about it. I went along with it for the sake of peace, but I have to say I really scared the children. I don’t think they’ll laugh quite so loudly next time.

Dressing up started with the wife’s harebrained idea that I’d make a good Santa. It’s not as if I’m fat; fat-headed, maybe, but my figure is quite slim and lithe and the hair is a definite mix of auburn and brown. However, it’s amazing what a bit of padding can do and the wig did wonders for my appearance. I know it sounds conceited but I was so good the wife begged me to try another one, another time. She said it was better than bedtime stories. Not to my mind, though, my idea of a bedtime story is something else.

I didn’t mind too much when I was asked to be the tooth fairy, I mean the kids were asleep so I didn’t have to dress up, but now their mother has come up with the idea of an Easter Bunny. I ask you, what the hell does an Easter Bunny do other than deliver eggs? Perhaps he goes round handing out tissues for when his head gets bitten off.

The other day I stated a preference to go as a white rabbit so I wouldn’t be confused with a bunny that provides Easter snacks of a tooth-rotting, fat-building nature. Not that the wife listens to me. She goes her own sweet way, thinking more of what the girls would like than her old man.

I’m very sensitive deep down. I don’t mind people laughing at me providing it’s not done in a nasty way. But dressing up as a realistic brown bunny, carrying a housewife-style basket filled with colourfully wrapped chocolate eggs will just make my brood want more and if I’m in a brown outfit they just might get the idea they can eat my ears or something.  That’s why I’m demanding to go as a white rabbit.

Two days to go!

Is this the stuff dreams are made of? Do you ever get the feeling you are only here for amusement purposes?

Have you ever resorted to sneaking a peak when the law has been laid down that you should KEEP OUT of the sewing room? They say nosy-parkers don’t hear good of themselves but I can tell you that secret watchers don’t have it too good either. Yes, I sneaked into the sewing room while the wife was watching her favourite soap, and now I don’t know what to do.

What did I see? A brown bunny outfit, that’s what.  Not ordinary brown, either, but chocolate brown. With ears! After all I said about wanting to be a white rabbit! Does she ever listen? Does she, hell!

Can you imagine how I’m feeling?  Is it too much to expect my wishes to be carried out? Or obeyed like in the marriage vows? Isn’t it enough that I dress up to order without being humiliated in the process? I feel the odd one out in this family and all because of a half-baked idea that the only man in the house should dress up.

One more day!

The outfit was tried on and alterations carried out while the girls were away watching an Easter play with their grandparents. According to reports the main character was a rabbit. I feared for my sanity when I knew they were going but it was too late to go into an over-worrying state.  I just had to grin and bear it.

The wife, bless her, had organised what she called an Easter egg party. It was to take place in the afternoon. However, the only things that made it look like Easter were the Easter cards and some decorations ... painted eggs, paper eggs, and eggs with faces. I was to be the main attraction. Under normal circumstances I would have fitted the role perfectly, but not dressed as a flippin’ rabbit.

Easter!

The room was quiet when I walked in, resplendent in brown and laden with eggs in baskets, three on each arm.  Hallelujah, you should have heard the cheers when the girls saw me ... er ... the rabbit. They rushed over, removed the baskets, and threw their arms around me. ‘Ooooh,’ cried the oldest. ‘A real Easter Bunny and so much NICER than that white one in the play.’

I still feel choked at my selfishness. Next year I’m going to dress up as an egg.... can you imagine that? The wife has wonderful ideas, don’t you think?

Oh, I forgot to say ... some bedtime stories come true!


30 March 2013

UK CLOCK CHANGING TIME


You’re not going to believe how many clocks I have to adjust when daylight saving changes have to be made.

1 Bathroom
2 Bedroom (radio alarm & portable alarm)
2 Cell phones
2 Cameras
2 Cars
3 House phones
2 Office (two rooms are used as offices)
3 Watches
4 Kitchen (microwave/cooker/central heating/wall clock)
2 Lounge (timed heater & clock)
2 Laundry area (wall clock & timed radio)

That’s a total of 25 ... and we only live in a small bungalow.

Thankfully computers and videos reset automatically.

Isn’t that enough to put you off? Is this the reason I hate adjusting clocks or is it because I think it’s all a waste of time and effort? It might have been okay when the idea was first formulated, to help the farmers I believe, but is there any need to continue?

Husbands are a different matter. If I point out that the clock in Joe’s car hasn’t been changed to the new time he professes to not knowing how to alter it ... and would be quite happy for me to do it for him. If I leave it long enough the excuse changes to ‘why bother, it will be right again in six months’. True, but only a man could live like that!

I didn’t realise this clock-changing headache was a worldwide thing until I read this article by Mike Pound. Do read it, it’s hilarious.


29 March 2013

An Easter Song

For all the kids reading this blog!
Happy Easter everyone.


28 March 2013

Technological Blips, or Where Am I?


The other day I somehow clicked the wrong keys on the laptop because I suddenly became, in Google’s words, incognito. I’ve never been incognito before and couldn’t imagine my sylphlike figure being regarded as veiled or concealed or even imaginary. Believe me, it’s a shock to the system to know that you’re no longer there, so to speak, but like it or not incognito I was and it seemed that incognito I must stay.

My new status meant that I had to reregister on every blog I visited, although the thought of browsing internet sites without them knowing and not picking up cookies was an attractive idea. Reading the instructions on how to revert back didn’t help. I didn’t understand them so it looked as if I’d have to stick with the new régime. Then suddenly, after three days, everything went back to normal without me doing a thing; perhaps I inadvertently clicked those wrong keys again.

I've been with Google Chrome for ages and not had much bother but this latest hiccup was a mystery. Although we don't always realise it certain keys on our computer keyboards give out commands to Google and whoever. The problem occurred whilst editing an ordinary document (mine) whilst on line and was in the process of typing one of the many keyboard commands. Unfortunately I couldn't remember which one. Sometimes I've hit wrong keys when typing email on Yahoo and all sorts of things happen, not as serious as this latest one though.

Q. Do you use keyboard commands or does your mouse do all the work? 

I see some of my followers have deserted me.. . three down. Wonder what I said to drive them away? It has happened before but they came back again so I guessed then it was a Blogger blip. But this time they haven’t come back. Yes, the same three have disappeared again ... sob!  Hang on, could this be due to the incognito problem? Have I become invisible? Hey, look, it’s me! Can’t you SEE me, for heaven’s sake?

I believe other bloggers have similar problems, in fact some have written that their followers go up and down like yo-yo’s (really?) but I didn’t think it would happen to me. I’m hurt. And curious. And fed-up. What’s up, does anyone know?


*****

Since typing this my followers list has changed again. One lovely blogger was following twice but that was rectified on the next viewing; and of the three missing ones, two have returned. I'm beginning to question my eyesight so I think I'd better stop looking ... otherwise ... well, let's just hope there are vacancies when the white van reaches it's destination. 

Also since typing this I have discovered that I am STILL INCOGNITO. If anyone knows how to sort this out I'd be pleased to hear from them. 

26 March 2013

A SUMMER CHILL, CHAPTER 32

Immediately upon hearing the kafuffle, Chris and Brian bolted out of the station and dashed towards the benches. The women were in a terrible state. Ellen Mountford had her arms around young Bess, who was white-faced and trembling like an autumn leaf. Behind them, sobbing on Eileen Finnigan's shoulder, was Diane Pearce. Eileen herself shed unchecked tears as she watched Carrie Smith being led away by Doris.

Brian could only imagine, taking account of Fred Smith's recent weight gain and his exceptionally red cheeks that he must have suffered a heart attack. And that sent him sprinting ahead without bothering to ascertain the true facts. On the other hand Chris Beresford, being altogether more sensible, stopped to question the wailing women.
           
Puffed out and determined to check his own weight, Brian arrived at the Smith household to find Len Bonser's new Volvo parked at the kerb. Brian shot straight in the front door and careered down the hall, following the direction of various voices. In the living room, he found that Steven was the patient, not Fred. The boy was lying awkwardly on the couch, covered to the chest by a honeycomb blanket. Gladys Stanhope was kneeling beside him, speaking softly and maintaining a gentle pressure on his upper arm as if trying to reduce the boy's body tremors. Steven gave her a brave smile and Brian knew by that, and by Gladys's troubled eyes, that he was in some pain, that whatever was wrong with him was serious.
           
In the corner, facing the wall, Carrie was wringing her hands and rocking from side to side, occasionally pivoting towards the door as if she was searching for a means of escape; then she would spin back and resume the turbulent rocking. If she was crying, she did it silently, but Brian knew by her fitful breathing that she was crying inside … she just hadn't found a way to let it out.
           
He crossed the room to interrogate Len, who had just finished on the phone, but at that moment the ambulance arrived and Brian was pushed aside to make way for the stretcher-bearers. Contenting himself that everything was in hand, he decided to wait until Steven had been medically dealt with before asking questions. Five minutes later the boy was carried out and Len, Carrie, Gladys, and Brian, in that order, followed in solemn procession.
           
Chris arrived as the ambulance was driving off. 'Everything all right?' he asked Brian.
           
'How the hell do I know? I didn't get the story.'
           
They watched without speaking as the ambulance rounded the corner; thus it was some minutes before Brian learned what had happened.
           
'Bess and Steven had been playing tennis in Steve's garden,' Chris said. 'According to her, the lad was fooling around and the ball sailed over the fence. She said Steven climbed over, using the oak tree as a springboard. He retrieved the ball, no problem, but on the way back he lost his balance and fell on the boards. They must have been decrepit, 'cause Bess said they seemed to disintegrate into whacking great splinters. Whatever, one of the splinters penetrated his thigh. Nasty gash by all accounts. And the wood was still in his leg when they rang for Len.'
           
'Has Fred been told.'
           
'Ron rang him at work.'
           
It had been ages since Brian attended a case and found things already dealt with and normally it wouldn't bother him, but this catastrophe made him feel inept, as if inefficiency was his second name. In the past, he had been instrumental in saving lives by his speed and quick-witted actions, mostly strangers and usually casualties of traffic pile-ups, but witnessing Steven's bloodless face and natural fright had really got to him; it produced an undeniable dejection, and he said as much to Chris.
           
'Get on with you,' Chris said. 'What's there to feel dejected about? The lad'll be bragging about this as soon as he's had the injection.'
           
'It's the business of not being able to help that gets me. I should have been more in control.' He didn't mention the reluctant limbs, or the tiredness, or even the inertia which lately seemed to be more prolonged.
           
'Things just took their course, you daft ha'p'orth. You can't help every bugger even if they wanted you to.'
           
But Brian didn't see it that way. What was he in the job for if it wasn't to assist in times of need? No, he thought, today was a poor show, and all because he couldn't run any faster.

That night, still disgusted at his lack of verve, Brian got ready for bed. 'I must be getting really old,' he muttered as he unbuttoned his blue shirt, thinking it might not be a bad idea to join Alan Benjamin's fitness club and get working on those wasting muscles.
           
He was about to slip off his shirt when he heard a noise overhead: a thud, like something weighty collapsing in the loft; and it certainly wasn't bats. He told himself that now was the time to investigate; his sleep had been disturbed long enough and he wasn't prepared to spend another night listening to the baffling scuffles. Accordingly, he raced downstairs and went straight to the phone.
           
'Jeez, Brian. What time d'you call this?'
           
'Can I borrow your loft ladder, Ron?'
           
'At this time of the bloody night?'
           
'I need to get in the loft.'      
           
'Bloody hell!'
           
Diane, in the background, asked what the hell was wrong.
           
Ron snapped his reply. 'Wants to borrow the bloody loft ladder.' To Brian, he said, in a voice laced with sarcasm, 'You wouldn't be thinking of fetching it yourself, I suppose? You really would prefer it if I brought it round?'
           
'Aw, come on, Ronnie. This is urgent.'

Brian ascended the ladder while Ron Pearce, in his bright tartan dressing gown, waited below with one slippered foot on the bottom rung. Brian wished he wasn’t still wearing his working clothes. Already his best shirt was smeared with oil though God only knew where it had come from. On top of that, his uniform trousers were not ideally suited for shinning up ladders; he could feel the strain around his backside every time he raised a leg.
           
'You all right?' called Ron.
           
'As right as I'll ever be, stuck up here.'
           
Moving the hatch to one side, Brian poked his head through the hole. His ensuing bellow was enough to scare the angels. The ladder shuddered as Ron briefly relaxed his hold.
           
'Christ Almighty,' Brian cried, when at length the spectacle before him registered, making him fleetingly wonder if his sanity had finally shaken loose. He had expected the loft to be in darkness but there, in a far corner, resting on a stout beam, was an old, densely rusted, hurricane lamp. After the initial, blasphemous reaction, he then completely lost the power of speech, finding the scene too difficult to digest, and it took a verbal nudge from Ron, several minutes later, to make him recover.
           
'All right?' Ron shouted.
           
Brian didn't answer. Instead, he switched on his own torch, and aimed it round the various pieces of stored furniture, a gang of battered suitcases, and several cardboard boxes upon which there was an arrangement of clothing. Trousers, shirts, and sweaters were assembled in groups across the top of a large carton; a smaller box displayed items of underwear and socks; a third acted as a store for shoes. Beyond the boxes was a sleeping bag and in that bag was David, with a towel round his shoulders and a book lying on his knees. An incredible tableau, like something out of a film.
           
'Fuckin' hell, Dad, there's no need to shine that thing in my eyes.'
           
'You all right, Brian?' bawled Ron.
           
'I am now, Ronnie.' Brian turned to David. 'And what, may I ask, are you doing here?'
           
David struggled out of the sleeping bag. 'Got nowhere else to go.'
           
'How the hell did you get in?'
           
'Through the fire escape. How d'you think I got in.'
           
Ron shoved his tousled head through the hole. 'Blimey, what's going on?'
           
'There must be more fitting ways to encounter my son, Ronald, but at this moment I can't think of any. You'd better come down, David, and explain. And douse that damned light. I've never seen anything so dangerous.'

It was two o'clock in the morning before Brian got to bed. David was installed in the spare room and Ron was, no doubt, tucked up in his own bed informing Diane of the hilarious business next door but one. But Brian couldn't sleep. All he could think of was that David simply could not stay in this house, though he admitted being intrigued by the lad's recklessness. He would never have put him down as doing anything so adventurous as secreting himself for weeks in a loft full of rubbish. And to have his mobile phone with him was laughable. He was homeless, yet still in possession of modern gadgetry.
           
He had tried to get him to agree to return to his mother's place but David got frighteningly aggressive, accusing him of not wanting him and appending the remark that his mother didn't want him either. The final straw came when David charged Brian with having more time for Audrey than for him, accusing her of flaunting herself at all and sundry. He sneered at her marked face and reviled her figure, the defamation so voracious that Brian hit him; one punch was all that was needed to knock David to the ground. He crashed against the bureau, arms thrashing, but he managed to retain a hold on his mobile phone. Brian stared at him, wishing he had hit him harder and wondering why on earth he hadn't done it months ago.
           
The episode terminated with Brian agreeing to assist his son to find a flat. In truth he would do anything to get him out of his hair once and for all.

(to be continued)

24 March 2013

Sunday Scenes

These pictures were taken in Rome by another family member. I believe they were in and around the Basilica. 











23 March 2013

Meat, and all that rubbish!


We’re just about getting over the shock of having horse meat mixed in with our beef, and pork mixed with beef when it shouldn't be, when the news emerges that sausages aren't all they seem. Instead of the usual pork and cereal we have been eating bones and stuff.

Why am I not surprised to learn that suppliers are selling mechanically recovered residue, only changing the name so that it can legally be termed meat in the UK. Indeed, one manufacturer believes the product is widely used.

Content known as desinewed meat (DSM) was introduced in the UK in the nineties but a better description is a higher form of recovered meat retrieved from animal bones, similar in looks to mince and closer to meat than slurry.

I read this piece of news:

“the BBC has learned that across Europe many suppliers continue to produce desinewed meat using different names including "Baader meat" and "3mm mince". Baader meat is made using a machine from the Baader company in Germany and according to a spokesman, the device removes the membrane and the sinew and in the end "it is meat"! Suppliers that use the Baader system in Germany, the Netherlands, France and Spain all stated they believed their desinewed products are outside the EU ban and can count towards the meat content of sausages and other foods. In e-mails seen by the BBC, some of these companies say they are very keen to supply it to the UK.”

You have been warned, folks. If anything you buy is labelled Baader meat you know where it came from. Horse meat sounds good compared to this, providing the suppliers let us know. There was a hue and cry over horse meat but hardly anything has been said about this revolting sounding content in our food. Thank goodness for genuine butchers, is what I say, at least the're doing well out of the horse meat scandal.

21 March 2013

Shrinking feet?

Let’s talk about feet. Well, why not, it’s as good a subject as any I can think of right now. I take a size 5 or should I say 38? About average, I’m told.

BUT....

My feet have shrunk, I am convinced of it. About a year ago I noticed that my shoes had begun to slip on my feet. Hitherto I thought that corns and things were caused by shoes that were too tight, as most of mine once were, but my local podiatrist informed me that it was loose shoes and slippers constantly rubbing that did the damage. The natural assumption was that my shoes had stretched, or softened, or whatever the phrase is for sloppy shoes.

I discussed the matter with the podiatrist, suggesting to him that my feet had shrunk. He assured me it was not possible. So what else could I do but stuff the shoes with new insoles and hope for the best. Uncertainty about size was the real drawback to buying new shoes. I mean, think of the waste of money if the same thing happened. Anyway, since there was nothing else wrong with my various pairs of shoes (not quite as many as Imelda Marcos, but close) I didn’t feel like buying new until the old had worn out. These days I don’t wear fancy shoes, respectable yes, and reasonably attractive, but not fancy. I couldn’t even stand up in the latest heels and some of the styles are a bit, shall we say young.

All my life I’ve bought good shoes, good makes, Gabor being one of my favourites. I know that if I buy good they will last longer and since I’m no longer a fashion icon I prefer not to keep forking out for upmarket shoes that will spend their days in the shoe cupboard.  I did go mad and buy a pair of boots the day the snow disappeared. Still they’ll come in when the next lot descends.

I popped into TK Maxx the other day. It’s that kind of store where I can pick up bits and pieces at low cost. To get to the household goods I have to pass the shoe section and that’s when I saw some rather attractive flatties in a sale. After looking round to make sure no-one was looking (I look a bit ungainly these days when there’s no stool to sit on) I tried them on. What a sight I must have looked wobbling about on one leg whilst trying to ease my foot into a shoe. They fitted perfectly but the quality was awful. It was only when I took them off that I saw the size - 4 or 37, a size smaller than I usually wear. Can you believe I didn’t buy them? The reason for that was a feeling that they wouldn’t last more than a couple of weeks. You can tell I have no faith in cheapo products... grins.

So what do I do now? Do I go back to the foot man and tell him he’s wrong, or just go into a store and ask to try on size 4 or 37? I think probably the latter on account of being able to talk to assistants who know their job. I might even end up having perfect shoes for imperfect feet.


19 March 2013

A SUMMER CHILL, CHAPTER 31

 As she strolled along the Golden Mile, breathing salt air and sniffing seaweed, Audrey watched the glistening waves rising and falling and eventually dwindling to a trickle on the sand. An unmerciful sun was burning her scalp and she knew she'd be in trouble if she didn’t buy a hat. Consequently, darting between tramcars, she crossed the road for the sole purpose of such a purchase.

She wandered by congested amusement arcades and souvenir shops until she found a stall selling hats: straw and cotton, wide brimmed or peaked, with or without slogans. There she bought a modest, slogan-free, blue straw with curly ribbons, and arranged it at a fetching slant over one eye. A woman on a whelk stall called out that her seafood was fresh today, and Audrey wondered if it could possibly be the same place where her mother once urged her to try a loathsome oyster. To this day, the memory of it slithering down her throat made her want to heave. She had vowed at the time never to repeat the experience; keeping the pledge had been easy.
           
Browsing round, undecided about where to go next, she came to a double-fronted jeweller's shop and it occurred to her that she should buy an engagement present for Gladys. She stopped to examine the window display and sniggered when she saw an arrangement of silver teething rings, spoons and pushers. 'They definitely won't need baby things,' she said, and blushed when a pair of love-birds turned to stare. Disdainfully, the couple moved to inspect the rings in the other window.

Audrey resumed her search. A wood and brass barometer on the backdrop caught her eye, reminding her of the one on Doris's wall that Gladys so often admired. That would be perfect for a mature twosome who already possessed the requisites for keeping house. Being unsure about Sam's tastes she based her decision on the fact that Gladys's were similar to her own and since the barometer was decorative as well as functional she decided to buy it.
           
Her purchase made and gift wrapped, she emerged from the shop, and debated the idea of popping in the milk-bar next door or getting a coffee someplace else. The decision to choose coffee came as a result of witnessing the unbelievable bedlam inside the milk-bar: arguing families, crying babies, kids screaming as they cavorted like chimpanzees on the tables; a scene instrumental in sending Audrey to a quieter coffee bar further along, for which she would ultimately be extremely grateful.
           
She paid for coffee and an Eccles cake and carried the tray to a blue and white plastic covered table, tacky with coffee spills and chocolate smears. Artificial plants in white troughs were installed between tables and a plastic bear holding a charity box was used to prop open the door. The coolness in there made up for the cake being just about palatable and the insipid coffee merely lukewarm.

She bit into the cake and stared at the cheap poster frames on the walls, mostly prints featuring the Pleasure Beach and the Tower. When two middle-aged women gathered their belongings and went out, Audrey noticed that the rest of the customers were local women taking a break from shopping; all except a jeans-clad girl in the bay, a straw hat hanging from her neck by its string and judging by the droop of her shoulders having the world's problems to contend with. Just then a group of chattering teenagers jostled each other to get through the door, and the lone girl turned to watch.
That's how Audrey came to find Vera Tomlin.

~~~~~

'Mind if I join you,' she asked, depositing a tall glass of lemonade and a cup of coffee on the table.
           
Vera curved round to see who had spoken. Showing neither surprise nor embarrassment, she said, 'Hello, Miss B,' and cleared her things from the chair so that Audrey could sit down, as coolly as if the meeting had been planned.
           
Sipping the coffee, which was a great deal hotter than the last, Audrey said in a light voice, 'I didn't see you until those people left.'
           
Vera gave her a weak smile. 'You here on holiday?'
           
'Yes. Are you?'
           
The senseless question was all Audrey could think of to say, in the light of the apprehension she felt over broaching such a delicate subject as running away, but it turned out to be an unnecessary sentiment because Vera unashamedly blurted it out.
           
'I ran away,' she said, matter-of-factly. 'Couldn't take Mum's carping any longer. Nag, nag, nag.' She snapped her finger and thumb three times. 'All she ever does is nag.' Without being prompted, she embarked on lengthy descriptions of one unfortunate scene after another until at length she ran out of steam and began fiddling with her cup. She averted her eyes as though regretting the divulgences of family life.
           
'I ran away, too,' Audrey said impulsively, essentially as a demonstration of joining forces, but instantly conceiving that it was a misguided means of consoling a girl who did not need or require such succouring. As if the admission wasn't enough, she went on to explain why, surprising herself by mentioning the nuisance calls in much the same way she had explained them to Adrian: jokingly, and keeping the nature of them to herself.
           
'I knew something was wrong,' Vera cried. 'Whenever you answered the phone you got bad-tempered. Were they naughty calls?'
           
Now, how could she know about such things?
           
Audrey shook her head. 'Some idiot playing havoc with my nervous system. I got used to it after a while and …'
           
Looked forward to them!     
           
'And what?'
           
'I ran away.'
           
'You must've been at your wit's end.'
           
'Yes.'
           
Vera talked about her Aunt Fiona and Uncle Jim, a boring couple, who thought television insulted their intelligence and who didn't seem to mind that their radio was broken. They preferred to spend their evenings singing love ditties … with hands on hearts … and hymns. Thinking the situation would encourage her to return home Audrey probed the possibility, but Vera thumped the table and said she would sooner be bored to death than suffer constant fault-finding and threats of suicide.
           
They remained in the cafe for most of the day, braving two lots of sandwiches consisting of dried-out luncheon meat, and a vast amount of drinks. They talked non-stop until Audrey remembered that Adrian would be waiting and, as yet, she hadn't bought the plaice she promised for dinner. She was, though, reluctant to leave. Who knew what might happen to a single girl bored witless by undiscerning adults. Nevertheless, she put on her hat and separated her parcel from Vera's things, guiltily eyeing her crestfallen expression. She thought about asking her back to the house, certain that Adrian wouldn't mind; he had, after all, complained of not seeing many people. So, taking a gamble, she hastily invited Vera to share their fish.
           
'Can't,' Vera said, consulting her watch. 'Aunt Fiona's roasting a chicken. I said I'd be back at five.'
           
'Come tomorrow then, to lunch.'
           
'You're on. I'll tell Aunt not to cook for me. Will you be having fish again?'
           
Audrey chuckled. 'Not on your life.'

~~~~~

Vera fell in love with Adrian and he with her. They acted like they'd known each other for ever, spontaneously fussing and bantering in the most natural, unaffected way. At dinner, they vied over the last helping of beef stew and laughingly soaked their broth with slices of granary bread. Audrey silently rejoiced at their close affinity.
           
'Now look, young Madam, you've pinched the last crust.' Assuming annoyance, Adrian looked at Audrey. 'See what you've landed me with? This wench is one of those who pinches crusts off old men.'
           
Audrey grinned and fetched more bread. They were similar to Brian and Matthew, she thought, remembering how they had bread with everything, even cake, and always demanded seconds. She disliked faddy eaters who picked at food so it pleased her enormously to see the two satisfied faces in front of her.
           
Vera rubbed her lips with a damask napkin. 'That was super, Miss Buckham.'
           
'I told you to call me Audrey. Miss Buckham makes me sound like an old maid.'
           
'You're not an old maid. You've got Matthew. Old maids don't have kids.'
           
'Some do,' muttered Adrian.
           
'You what, Uncle?'
           
'I said, some do. My cousin Ada gave birth to a daughter at forty-six. A real battle-axe she was. Still, someone fancied her. I couldn't understand what he saw in her. Her temper flared faster than a struck match. And talk about unattractive; she could've modelled for one of those ugly mugs they sell in the market.'
           
'Ooh, you are terrible, Mr Buckham.'
           
'You're right, I am. I'm so terrible I'm going for a snooze in the garden.' He whistled to Ben. 'Come on, let's get out of here before they get me washing up.' The dog struggled to get his bulk off the floor and followed him outside.
           
Adrian seemed more upright, a fact Audrey put down to lively company and a good meal; and, if that was all it took, then the sooner a housekeeper was engaged the better.

~~~~~

Audrey lowered herself into one of the deckchairs she had earlier pitched on the lawn. In his chair, Adrian slept, his face hidden by his paper; his whole body budged as his breathing grew more noisy and the chair squeaked with every exhalation.
           
'What do you aim to do in Blackpool?' Audrey said to Vera, who was lying on the grass.
           
Vera rolled onto her stomach and waved her legs in the air. 'I could rent a flat.'
           
'You could go home.'
           
'No! I'll go home when you do. Since we both ran away, we should go together.'
           
An attempt to persuade her to ring Gerald brought another refusal and Audrey decided to chill down, believing Vera's flush signified anger rather than excessive warmth. Whatever happened, she did not wish to be cast in the same role as the girl's parents. She plucked out a handful of clover and idly separated the flowers from the leaves. 'I suppose I could ask Uncle if you could stay here.' She said it without thinking but on seeing Vera's eager expression, she knew that once again she had taken too much on herself. She promptly tried to dampen the girl's enthusiasm. 'You mustn't be disappointed if he says no.'
           
Vera swivelled round and sat up. 'He won't. He enjoys having me around.' She clapped her hands. 'Just think,' she shouted. 'No more hymns.'
           
'Shush!' said Audrey, glancing at her recumbent uncle. 'If he agrees, will you ring your Dad? Because if you don't, I will!'
           
'O-kay!'
           
Adrian peeped over the top of the paper and winked at Vera. 'I want her to stay, Audrey, lass. She makes me feel ten years younger.'
           
'Told you,' exclaimed Vera, wrinkling her nose at Audrey and sidling to Adrian's side. 'I thought you were asleep.'
           
'How can an old man sleep with such a commotion?' Singularly wide awake, Adrian lowered the newspaper and launched his own idea of what should be done, recommending that Audrey should go forthwith to put the idea to Mr and Mrs Tomlin, and adding that, if they approved, she could bring with her some of Vera's clothes. 'And, while you're out, I can sort the small bedroom. Just in case.'
           
Vera rounded on him, threatening to go straight back if he so much as touched a towel, while Audrey clamped her lips to stop herself chortling at the girl's audacity in assuming she could blackmail him so.

(to be continued)

18 March 2013

Monday Mirth

This is Monday Mirth, old style, simply because I am hooked on Rhod Gilbert. I watched this video with tears rolling down my cheeks. I do hope you enjoy it as much. 


17 March 2013

Sunday Scenes

Sunday Scenes - on board ship
~2004~

The Aurora
The essential pool-side bar
Stairs in the Atrium
Indoor shopping 
Plenty of bars on a ship!
Ornamental decoration on a water feature
Chefs on parade in one of the many restaurants
Since we were in New York the theatre show was appropriate. Photographs were not allowed  so I had to sneak this one in  before the show started
A popular haunt ... the computer room!