28 February 2013


For want of something to fill a post, here are some things in a row. 
Not altogether inspiring but useful when time is short. 
Never mind, I'll insert a few classified ads for the sake of variation.

No, it's not a string of beads, these red lovelies are cherry tomatoes
8 years old. Hateful little bastard. Bites!

Not my style of china, but the arrangement was nice
1/2 Cocker Spaniel, 1/2 sneaky neighbour's dog

Spices, pulses, and lentils.
Someone called Stanley left these behind
TEACHER: Donald , what is the chemical formula for water?
TEACHER: What are you talking about?
DONALD: Yesterday you said it's H to O.

Anyone got the time?
TEACHER: John, why are you doing your math multiplication on the floor?
JOHN: You told me to do it without using tables

26 February 2013


Chris Beresford finished his call to Blackpool and looked across at Brian. 'Vera's definitely with her relatives. Probably better off, if the truth's known.'
Brian opened the top drawer of his desk and took out a fresh pack of cigarettes. 'How do you make that out?' he asked, working his nail in the tab to tear away the wrapper.
'Well, Liz and Gerry aren't exactly what you'd call exhilarating specimens of humanity. They must be dreadful to live with.'
Brian pulled a face as he swallowed the last bitter dregs of his coffee. 'You don't run away just because you've got boring parents,' he said, earnestly spitting sediment into his handkerchief.
Lethargically, Chris circled the sharp end of a pencil in the first hole of the phone dial. 'Liz browbeats the lass, you know, though you'd never think she was capable. I've always thought she was a bit namby-pamby to look at but underneath that vacuous exterior beats a brutal heart.'
Brian exhaled a mouthful of smoke. 'Don't exaggerate.'
'I think Gerry's frightened of her.'   
'You're talking rubbish, Sarge. Gerald's okay. His main problem is stopping Liz from overdosing. He always sticks up for his daughter when Liz has a go at her.'
'So he bloody should. Nevertheless, he's a bit too quiet for my liking. I'm always suspicious of quiet men with nagging wives, makes me wonder how they came to get married in the first place. Does Vera still knock around with Bess Coombes?'
'They were inseparable. Bess doesn't know what to do with herself now.'
'It won't be for long. Her pal will soon get cheesed off.'
Brian eyed the rotating pencil. 'What about school?'
'What about it? Lass'll be home before they've even missed her.'
Brian shrugged. Resting the cigarette on the ashtray, he returned to perusing the
'It's back to work then, eh, Bri? Strike me if I can't take a hint.' So saying, Chris dropped the pencil in a narrow glass tray and grabbed a wad of incident reports. 'Cast your eye over these,' he said, sliding them onto Brian's desk.
'In a tick,' Brian said, pushing them to one side. 'There's an item here about a man caught red-handed in the act of mugging a girl, in the town of all places.' He retrieved the cigarette and took a drag.
Chris nodded towards the forms. 'It'll be on one of those, then.'

Brian circled the article with a red ball-point before passing the paper to Chris. 'This could be our man.'
As Chris took the Gazette from Brian's outstretched hand, he scrutinised his face. 'I must say, you look bloody terrible. Is it Audrey again?'
Brian was pleased the subject had come up. He wanted to talk about it but didn't like to keep banging on about his self-inflicted problems. It wasn't as though there was anything he could do. If there was he'd be hotfooting it along the road to implement a solution. He leaned back, began to knead the tension knots in his neck which seemed to have worsened overnight. 'She had a minor breakdown yesterday,' he said. 'According to Matthew, she went to pieces while she was cooking breakfast. He blamed himself. Said he'd acted like a spoiled brat just because she scolded him. After we discussed it, he calmed down. He hadn't realised what an impact those calls had made. Or how susceptible she'd become. Anyway, Audrey's moved in with Gladys, just for a few days, until she's better. I reckon it'll take longer than a few days to get her right.'
'I'm not surprised she's cracked-up. She's been through a lot. I told you about Helen's experience, didn't I?
‘Don’t recall.’ Brian's moustache twitched as he chewed the inside of his top lip.
'Some woman she knew tried to kill herself after getting funny calls. Mind it went on for several years. She must've reached the end of her rope.' Chris broke off when he saw Brian flinch. He crashed a fist onto the desk. 'Shit! Me and my bloody big mouth. Hey, I'm not suggesting that Audrey …'
'People react in diverse ways. I've heard some women get real pally with weirdos.' Needing to move the discussion to less sensitive terrain, Brian had swiftly interrupted. He was quite calm but a discussion on the lines Chris was travelling would be tactlessly callous.
'How do you think Audrey'll cope, if it goes on?'
'I'm not thinking that far ahead.'
Chris looked intently at Brian for several seconds before dropping his eyes and turning away. Unhurriedly, as if he was grappling with a vital piece of advice, he picked up the paper to read about the mugger's arrest. He scanned the article, slowly, until the significance of the report caught up with him. He leaped into action. Going to Brian's desk, he leafed through the forms. Finding nothing, he rang Redhampton to check it out.
Brian listened.
'Yeah, our girl's face was cut. Yeah, it could've been a ring.' Pause. 'Does he, by Jove?' Another pause. 'Truncheon! You mean, one of ours?' Brian cocked an ear at that. 'Good God! Okay, Sid. Yeah, I'll take a gander at him.'
As Chris replaced the receiver, Brian's chest heaved with a kind of excitement as he waited for him to speak.
'Sounds bloody right. Dark headed man, bulky ring on right hand. Gent sees him deliberately scrape it down the girl's cheek. By the time he got to them, he was hitting her with a truncheon.A truncheon…there’s a thing.’
Brian whistled.
Chris went on, 'Gent knocked him flying, then made a citizen's arrest. A couple of the chaps were patrolling. Heard the scuffle. They went to assist but it sounds as if the hard work was done for them.' Chris puffed out his cheeks. 'I've got a feeling this is the one who put young Penny Hancox in the hospital.
'I hope you're right, Sarge.'

(to be continued)

25 February 2013


I'm taking a break from Monday Mirth since there is so much going on with sorting out my aunt's funeral, which is to take place next Monday. It's a good thing I scheduled some posts in advance.

I'm not actually organising the funeral but it has fallen to a few of us to rack our brains about past events and search the old memory boxes for relevant stuff to reveal at the funeral. And what better way to refresh the memory than by looking at photographs. I found this one of Florence in uniform and it took a while to sort out what sort of uniform it was. I knew she was a driver during or just after the war years but couldn't recall who or what for. Studying the picture revealed the letters CD on her uniform pocket and then it dawned on me that she was a member of the Civil Defence. I'm now wishing I knew more about what she did for that organisation. Oh well, regretfully, it's too late now. 

There was one memory that has caused a bit of a laugh so perhaps this is a good day to record it on the blog. 

My family on my father's side was quite spread out. There were six children, three boys and three girls. My father, the first born, was older than the youngest by twenty years. So you see, that's why I'm the oldest cousin and now senior family member. Florence was eleven years old when I was born and since I was the first offspring she took great pleasure in my arrival in the world. Except that one day, while nursing me, she dropped me on my head. As you can imagine, this led to the lifetime joke that the 'niece' was never the same again. 

24 February 2013

Sunday Scenes


Reflections captured as we sailed through one of the fjords 

23 February 2013


Elizabeth Arden’s Good Morning Serum is a product I use every day and I love it. It so suits my skin. So imagine my horror when I went to buy some more and was told that it was out of stock. In fact it was out of stock for several months and the sales person had no idea why. Diane is a top notch sales person who I feel should have been aware of all the facts. She's really dedicated to Elizabeth Arden, in fact she now goes round the WIs talking and demonstrating. Last year, knowing I was a WI member, she asked how she could ‘get known’ in WI circles. I was pleased to give her the information about contacting head office and getting herself listed in the Year Book. Now she’s so busy she has to juggle her work with her appointments.

Desperate for more GMS I searched the internet for supplies ... and found what I was looking for.  Same price, no delivery charge! Needless to say I bought some, then I bought some more, and even more over the next few months, until one day I happened to be in the store and Diane told me they had some in stock, renamed Visible Difference Good Morning Retexturizer, and in a new container, but still the same product. And guess what? The newly packaged product was cheaper than before. Whoopee, I thought, things looked decidedly brighter.

New container (on the left ) and the (now) old one
Note the transparent case compared to the new push-button style container. To my mind, not a good move. With the see-through vial I knew at a glance when the product was running out, unlike the new model which hides the contents so well I don’t know whether it’s full or empty until I press the lever, so to speak. Definitely not a good move! You see, I am an organised sort of person. So much so that when I see a product coming to an end I buy a replacement next time I go shopping. I can’t do that when the end isn’t in sight, can I?

The original container was unique as well as convenient for the customer. The replacement is ordinary. Is this the manufacturer’s way of making money out of the customer, seeing that there is bound to be some of the product left at the bottom which the user cannot remove or even see, which makes her rush out and buy more? There she is one morning, making herself look gorgeous, when viola... one empty container and nothing in the cosmetic bag. The manufacturer gets rich quick, the user gets in a state because she can’t immediately get to the shops. The answer, therefore, is obvious, buy two vials next time, one to use and one in stock ... except the price they charge for this can’t-do-without product is not favourable when it’s doubled.  

The transparent vial product is still available on the internet so I intend to purchase GMS that way until stocks run out. 

As one reviewer put it......

This stuff is freaking amazing! I have just tried this, and it has pushed my skin up a whole nother notch! I am a 56 yr old grandmother, but my skin is backing up in years with this serum! Wrinkles less noticeable, sun spots totally fading, just beautiful, healthy skin. My new "must not be without" product. I LOVE!

21 February 2013


There is a certain thrill in seeing my books listed on Amazon, a sort of 'can't believe it' feeling. Even if the books don't sell I will still feel proud that they're up there for all to see. Yea, I now have four books on Kindle.  First to hit the publishing field were the animal stories, followed by a novel, and finally a volume of short stories entitled Fiction in Miniature. The stories are of mixed genre and represent the first in a series called Val's Tales

 Once Upon A Time ... a tale of two rescued dogs
Butch describes his new life on a farm. 
Feline Capers
Lee, the cat, shares the details of her daily antics and her new friend.
Trust Not The Vow
A full blown novel set in the fifties, beginning with adolescent infatuation and ending in tragedy.  

Fiction in Miniature
The first volume of the Val's Tales series. 

19 February 2013


Sidestepping the young tree, Gladys cursed the idiocy of placing saplings in the middle of a much used thoroughfare. Matthew wasn't interested in her objections. He was driven by a need to get the forthcoming farewell ceremony out of the way, as if charging into the terminus would accelerate his expedition. He much preferred to embark on journeys alone. Company called for small talk and small talk was hard to handle when he was strung up by emotion.
'Slow down, Matthew?' begged Gladys, as she scampered at his side.
With some reluctance, Matthew moderated his speed. Swapping his suitcase to the left hand, he hitched the holdall onto his shoulder and grabbed Gladys's arm to help her keep up for the remaining three-minute trek.
Tom Setton saluted as they passed his shop, the only one, apart from Gladys, to witness his leave-taking. It was too early for the ladies to hold court on the dew-damp benches and everyone else was at work - including Brian - though he did ring to wish him a safe trip and give his assurance that his mother would be taken care of.
To Matthew's dismay, they arrived at the bus shelter with time to spare. Dreading a nerve-racking wait, he dumped his gear and steeled himself not to take out his frustration on Gladys. She was fretting about the filth on the seats, as if it mattered, as if anything mattered. Still panting from the enforced trot, she unfolded an enormous black scarf and directed him to hang-fire while she spread it across the slats, saying it would be a dreadful shame to spoil his nice clothes.
There was graffiti everywhere; scratched on every available surface, it communicated its own story, imparting a permanent record of the kind of youth society had produced, something Matthew never dreamed of seeing in this quiet backwater. How wrong he’d been, ten days ago, to think the area was unchanged. Who would have thought it could harbour the gross individual who had victimised his mother.
Gladys squeezed his arm. 'Don't worry,' she said. 'Your Mum will be all right with me.'
She was trying to reassure him, but Matthew knew he would not have any real peace until the villain was apprehended. His Mum had cried when he left. She didn't clutch at him or do anything embarrassing, just positioned herself at the door, shedding unhappy tears. She did not, or could not, look at him. He wished it was not so difficult to decide if she wept for him or for her own plight. It could have been either in her state of mind, though he felt like a traitor for even thinking it. Some of her old backbone had returned since leaving home, though, obviously, she couldn’t go back - not with that damned madman on the loose. Thank God she's out of it, he thought, recalling how she behaved last night when they were leaving, her eyes lingering on the phone as she bypassed the hall table by a couple of feet, flattening her skirt to her thighs as if to prevent it from touching the table leg.
The church clock was striking nine. That meant the bus would soon be ascending the hill. Matthew gazed over the field in the direction of the police station and the pub. From outside the bus shelter, the church and the first few houses in Arbor Road could be seen. He didn't venture out; there was no point in persecuting himself further. Though he loved his career and his life overseas, a couple of weeks in Fieldmoor always effected a disinclination to return. And today would have been worse had it not been for the Vicar, who had prayed with him and helped him come to terms with the recent happenings, and promised to give his mother spiritual advice. It was a comfort to know he could rely on the church for support.
Matthew contemplated his godmother, who sat with her hands clasped, looking straight ahead. He wondered what she was thinking. He had mentioned her once to Heinz Kruger, flippantly describing her as witchlike with the strength of Goliath and the nature of a Samaritan. The wretched events of the last two weeks made him realise just how accurate his portrayal was. He had been an immature bore with the idea that a vaguely freakish description would impress; he didn't feel so disrespectful now.

He caught his breath when Gladys peered enquiringly at him. 'Mum ....' he began, in a strangled voice. 'Can she look after herself?'
Gladys wrapped her arms around him, her silvery hair shining against the darkness of his coat. 'Sometimes we have to help ourselves with only the Lord for guidance,' she said, 'but you can be confident your Dad and I will do our utmost. We love her, Matthew. We won't forsake her.'
'I know,' he replied.


The yellow single-decker rounded the corner and trundled towards them. On its side was a sign advising people to Post Early for Christmas, typical of the bus company's lax attitude to replacing old notices; nevertheless, it served to remind him to write to his mother as soon as he got the chance.
He kissed Gladys on the cheek and mounted the two steps to where Alan Benjamin waited to take his fare.
'Just off?' Alan asked.
Matthew nodded, uttered a hasty affirmative, then dashed to the back of the bus. At the roadside Gladys was brandishing her scarf as if shaking it free of dust. Probably off that bench, he thought, grinning for the first time. He waved until she disappeared from sight, then stowed his luggage in the overhead rack.
A young woman with a mischievous child occupied the seat in front. The little girl stared at Matthew through pink framed spectacles and showed him her chocolate covered tongue. He was tempted to return the gesture; instead he surveyed the fields and hedges and isolated dwellings as they glided by. When another bus overtook them bearing the same postal warning, he fumbled in his pocket for a pen, and scribbled a draft in his diary. Dear Mum, he wrote, I love you.


The room was shaded from the blinding sun by partly drawn gold velvet drapes. Long shadows patterned the wall. A dreary tune on the radio fitted Audrey's mood. She sat on the couch, her oyster-silk dress taut across her knees, the insipid colour making her look fragile in the half-light, almost a reflection of her unshakeable melancholia. Brian's cat had sneaked in and was curled up beside her, his rhythmic purr growing louder as she fondled his ragged ears. The skin under her eyes felt tight where the tears had dried. She had tried so hard not to cry when Matthew was preparing to go, but finally she did. She craved to hold him, but was afraid to do so in case she lost control; he would have hated that. He always refused to be escorted to buses or trains, so she was not surprised when he rejected her overtures to go, making the excuse that he'd feel happier if she stayed behind to rest; yet he accepted Gladys's offer to accompany him. Gladys had been very insistent. She claimed it wouldn't be proper to allow him to go without someone to wave him off. She said it was up to her to make sure he went off satisfactorily while his mother was incapacitated. Gladys was a paragon. Why then did she feel so resentful?


Gladys scurried in at four o'clock. She plonked her bag on the sideboard and at once checked her hair in the mirror. 'He got the bus all right,' she said, rubbing a smudge from her cheek.
'Was he upset?'
'A bit depressed. Only to be expected, considering.'
Gladys bustled round, drawing back the drapes and plumping the cushions. 'I'll get us something to eat shortly,' she said, giving Blackie a helping hand to the door. 'I popped in your place to do a bit of clearing up. I've put Matty's clothes in the wardrobe and done a stint with the vacuum. Oh, and I made a start on the bathroom but I didn't have time to finish that. I'll make it the main job tomorrow.' Tightening her apron strings, she sailed towards the kitchen. 'Right, then, I'll get the food.'

Gladys rapped Audrey's wrist with a wooden spatula when, suddenly ravenous, she tried to nip a morsel of liver from the pan. 'Your fingers'll drop off if you're not careful,' she said, as if talking to a child. 'Incidentally, I made a cup of camomile tea. Hope you don't mind.' She pressed on without waiting for a reply. 'I was admiring the bamboo wallpaper in your kitchen. I might get something similar for here.' She glanced round at the papered walls …  three plain and one featuring teapots … before stirring the meat again. 'I did wash the cup before I left. Honestly, I can't fathom how you tolerate that monstrosity constantly dangling its leaf in the sink.'
She was referring to the Swiss cheese plant that was on the point of taking over the ceiling, as well as draping itself along the cupboards. Whenever there was a draught, one of its lower leaves swung into the sink as if trying to escape the cold. Audrey responded to Gladys's observation with a rare spark of humour, 'Maybe it thinks it's a plate.'
'I'd cut its arms off if it belonged to me.' Gladys dished the liver on what she referred to as her everyday plates … white with blue squiggles … and installed them in the top oven to keep warm. A trifle hesitantly, she remarked, 'Brian wondered if you might fancy a live-in companion.'
Audrey frowned at that, as much for Brian's audacity as the preposterous idea.
'I told him I doubted you'd be very inspired and, even if you were, it would take ages to find someone suitable.
Audrey questioned who granted him permission to volunteer such an inane proposal. Her response was vehement. 'Tell him to mind his own bloody business.'
Gladys stabbed a fork in the potatoes. Satisfied they were cooked, she lifted the pan off the heat and crossed to the sink. 'He's only trying help,' she said as she tipped them into a colander, slanting her head to avoid the rising steam.
Audrey shrugged. She could do without that sort of help.
The phone rang as Gladys dropped the hot plates on the table. 'Here, get stuck into that,' she ordered, hurrying off. An instant later, she reappeared. 'Somebody selling double glazing. What do I want with double glazing? Incidentally, I forgot to tell you, I switched your answering machine off.'
Audrey shoved away from the table, rage battering like an iron hammer. Her mouth suddenly felt like the bottom of a parrot's cage. When she tried to speak only hoarse noises grated out. Her sweat glands went berserk, she felt at once stickily hot and icy cold. She glared murderously at Gladys. How dare she interfere. How dare she!

(to be continued)

18 February 2013

My Aunt

There is no Monday Mirth today, my friends, because this weekend I heard the news that my Aunt Florence had died. She would have been ninety years of age in May; sadly she was too tired to wait. 

Florence was my father's youngest sister, one of six children. She never married but continued to live in the house where she was born. She was a staunch churchgoer and some would say she was unadventurous, yet looking back I remember she was the one who regularly went on holiday, having coerced her friends to accompany her. The next photograph leads me to believe that she was a bit of a drama queen in her younger days.

Rest in Peace, Florence.

17 February 2013

Sunday Scenes

Random shots taken on the cruise to the US and Canada 2004

This is my favourite picture of all time. The skyline is incredible. 
Same view taken further away

The next few pics taken at sea 

16 February 2013

Saturday Special

This is a new picture of me entitled 

Since my good friend Ron introduced me to Face in Hole I've been having lots of fun. At first I downloaded the app on the iPad but discovered that I couldn't upload the pictures to the blog. The reason for that was not being able to save the pictures to the computer. Oh I tried, I emailed the pics to myself and saved to the laptop like I do every other picture sent by email ... but Blogger, in it's doubtful wisdom, couldn't put them on the blog. It was a pity because there were pictures that were somewhat mind boggling ... like the one of me pole-dancing!! You can probably thank your lucky stars you missed that one!

I went back to Face in Hole and tried again, this time using the computer. There weren't as many scenarios to choose from and certainly not one of a pole-dancer. Stand up the person who said Aw Shucks! I had loads of different scenarios on the iPad, very interesting ones, too, but everything there is geared to Facebook and Twitter. I could have sent any amount there, but not to the blog. Sometimes technology defeats itself!

Okay I've finished rambling, here are a few more pics. Personally, my favourite is the last one ... it's more natural!!!

Pictures achieved courtesy of Face in Hole

Thank you, Ron

15 February 2013


It’s not very often I get to mix with younger people but when it happens I feel quite rejuvenated. Let me tell you about one such day:

On a recent visit to one of the local shops the door was held open for me by a very polite young man. I thanked him, and he replied ‘Chivalry isn’t dead, it’s just dormant’. I was astonished and impressed (although I tried not to show it) that this had come from a young man. And you know what.... it made me feel very feminine.
(Picture courtesy of
On the same day I visited a nearby supermarket, one big enough to sell books. Naturally, being a bit of a reader, I stopped to look at the latest publications. Whilst I was browsing a young woman in a wheelchair came by; she pointed to a particular book and asked if I had read it. I hadn’t. ‘You should,’ she said. ‘It’s a true story about a cat. I’m sure you would like it.’

The book in question was: A Street Cat Named Bob,’ by James Bowen, which I understand is a best seller and about to be made into a film. I can’t wait to read it. Yes, I bought it. Well, it was on special offer, at a price I couldn’t resist. Now I’m wondering if the lady was in sales and advertising ‘cause she sure sold it to me.

That wasn’t all. Whilst talking, we were joined by another young woman who began to rave over another book. The conversation got quite animated, the three of us itching to get our bit in before the others.... have you read.... did you know.... the story concerns.... etc.

It was rather an enjoyable though unexpected encounter and I left the store feeling quite revitalised. It wasn’t until I got outside that I remembered what I went in for in the first place.

I’ll let you know about the book!