Friends

20 July 2018

CHARLIE - AND THE CHAIR



Have I mentioned Charlie lately? Answers on a postcard, please. Ooops, don’t got carried away.

The fight for the rocking chair has developed into a minor war. A normally placid cat when at home (I can’t say what he’s like outside) he is beginning to state his claim on MY chair.

I use the chair at certain times of the day and the sofa at certain times. Depending on what I want to do whilst sitting down. One chair is for TV viewing, the other for complete relaxation. I am definitely one to abide by rituals and, evidently, so is the cat. I told him this morning that I only use the rocking chair three times a day and he should respect that. (1) take breakfast sitting in the chair, (2) eating dinner off a tray sitting in the chair), and (3) all evening sitting in the chair. The alternative is to eat dinner at table!

This all came about when I disposed of the dining room table and rather than walk into another room, where there is a dining room table (country cottage design, which I love). I could sit with tray on lap and feast my eyes on activities in the garden (birds, squirrels, foxes) and then I would be in the sitting position that suits me best for watching TV.

Why not use the dining room table, I hear you ask!

Well the answer is that I have been taken over by laziness. You’ve no doubt come across it on occasions. It was late getting to me. It had to wait until laziness took hold of my brain and body. Having to set up table, carry in crocks as well as lunch was harder than flopping in a chair with a plate of goodies and telly to watch. So, no thanks to Charlie, I am back in the dining room where I can watch cars go by and maybe one or two neighbours. Okay, I got the cars right, but neighbours? Seldom see any activity in that area. They’re probably eating lunch or watching TV. None have cats so their home is their own.

Today, I got sneaky. I had lunch in the dining room and when finished I noticed that Charlie, bless him, was nowhere to be seen. My guess was that he was out sunbathing. As I still had washing up to do I devised a plan. I piled everything to hand on the rocking chair. I’ll show the selfish creature who’s boss. 

17 July 2018

LATEST ON THE GARDEN

(another photo courtesy of the photo store)


Surprise, surprise. Young Luke (a helpful young man who does this and that to earn a few pennies) made a discovery. In an attempt to tidy the back garden, the bit near the house that has lots of cotoneaster, plus ivy growing where it shouldn’t. It’s been growing where it shouldn’t since my Joe did the gardening. It looked quite attractive but when the ivy threatened to take over I set Luke to work on it.

It transpired that the two plants mentioned had completely taken over what seems to have been a flower bed. Neither Joe nor I knew it was there. Presumably the previous owners had created a bed for flowers and surrounded the whole with house bricks. I must be going back a long time because we moved in about thirty years ago and the cotoneaster was well established then. I don’t recall ever seeing a flower bed so the cotoneaster must have been very busy before we arrived.   

Someone has their work cut out to make it look presentable again.

14 July 2018

I'M FINE THANKS


I am still having a good clear out, sorting this, removing that, and destroying the rest. Most of my Women's Institute papers have either been moved elsewhere  or destroyed. Today, I  came across this oldie which circled round the WI for many years. 

I’M FINE THANKS

There is nothing the matter with me,
I am as healthy as can be.
I have arthritis in both my knees
And when I talk, I talk with a wheeze.
My pulse is weak, and my blood is thin
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.
Old age is golden, I’ve heard it said
But sometimes I wonder as I get into bed.
With my ears in a drawer, my teeth in a cup,
My eyes on the table until I wake up.
Is there anything else I could lay on the shelf?
How do I know that my youth is all spent?
Well, my get up and go has got up and went.
But I don’t really mind when I think with a grin
Of all the grand places my ‘getup’ has been.
I get up in the morning, and dust off my wits.
Then pick up the paper and read the ‘obits’.
If my name is still missing , I know I’m not dead
So I have a good breakfast and go back to bed.
The moral is this, as this tale I unfold,
That for you and me who are now growing old
T’is better to say “I’m fine” with a grin
Than to let them all know the real shape you’re in.

08 July 2018

YET MORE NEWS IN BRIEF



1.   Rubbish! We have a good collection system. One week it’s garden stuff, another week it’s household waste. And I never lift a finger, except to fill the bins. I used to print off the date schedules for collection but now I just look out of the window to see which bins the neighbours have put out. It doesn’t matter which date it is, since I have what they call assisted collection. One of the pleasures of old age!

2.   People complain about the state of the roads which, when I drove a car, I always found to be okay. They should try using a scooter on pavements! Workmen do good jobs filling holes they made, but when there are several (by several I mean lots and lots) they should get together and make sure the surface is flat and even. Sometimes I have to drive over so many it’s like being on a switchback.... scary!

3.   Found a gardener!

4.   Isn’t it a waste of energy when you rush into another room to do something only to find you can’t remember what it was you rushed for?

5.   New visitor on lawn: a young fox. As I write he is surrounded by three magpies and an audience of two, e.g. Charlie and me. Foxie made out he was sleeping, leastways he lay for a long time with his eyes shut. Cunning or what? We left him in peace.

6.   Just booked another grocery delivery. Maybe this time I will have remembered everything, unlike the past few weeks when I had to add an item to my on-line order.

7.   Late June/early July and a heat wave in the UK. Definitely worth recording since we were still cold when we should have been boiling hot for most of June. Not to worry, we’re told it will all end next week. Now where did I put that woolly jumper…

8.   I am now the proud possessor of a water meter which should reduce yearly payments by about £200. Also got a refund! Not sure why my late husband didn’t want one.

9.   A wet flannel was always used to help cool down during summer months. That was years ago which proves what lousy summers we’ve been having. Until now!

10. Gave up having milk delivered. Got fed up looking for change to pay and having to wait for milkman to knock the door when I should have been out and about. Neighbours have milk delivered and the roundsman makes enough noise to wake the dead. Three o’clock in the morning! On a Friday, he can be heard shuffling empty bottles and cranking crates. Why Friday? That’s when he gets his money. Neighbours put it in a special hiding place so why does he need to wake the entire neighbourhood?

04 July 2018

The W.I.

This was my badge

As you all know I was a dedicated member of the Women’s Institute but it always comes as a shock to find the WI mentioned in novels. I don’t know why it should be a shock, after all we’ve been around for almost a century and we do exist in all walks of life. 

I recently read a detective story by Peter Robinson concerning an investigation into the identity of a skeleton. Examination of the bones revealed that it was female and that she was murdered.

The search for answers led the detective to a woman who once lived in the area and who knew the suspected identity of the long time deceased. It seems the victim was a girl who flaunted her assets at all and sundry.

In conversation with the detective inspector the woman revealed how she herself, being a year older and a woman of the church, vehemently advised the victim to adopt a healthier lifestyle, join a club, maybe mix with a better class of people. The conversation went like this…. and I quote from Peter Robinson’s book In A Dry Season:
  • Inspector: Do you know if she had any enemies?
  • Woman: Not what you’d call enemies. Nobody who would do what you have just described. Many people, like myself, disapproved of her. But that’s quite a different thing. One would hardly murder a person for not joining the Women’s Institute.
~~~~~~~~~~

Oh, I don’t know! Think of the rise in membership if women were threatened with certain death if they didn’t join. 

30 June 2018

HEDGES


(This picture is NOT my garden. For some strange reason I cannot transfer pictures from phone to blog.)


Hedges are the bane of my life and my garden is surrounded by them. Don’t misunderstand me, I love them. Only trouble is I can no longer cut them down to size. The guy who cuts the lawn doesn’t cut hedges and for some time I have searched for a man or men who will cut them to a reasonable size.

I approached quite a few by phone and a lot said they would come round and see what was needed…. only they didn’t. Nary a one, as the saying goes. What is it with people these days? They advertise their services and don’t follow up. How they earn a living is beyond me! I had the same problem with finding the gutter man, if you remember.

But back to the hedges. I spotted an advert on line and decided to risk another silent refusal. Instead of using the mobile phone number, I chose the number that was obviously his home.  A nice lady answered and said she would pass my request onto her husband. That was yesterday. Today, I got a call. That in itself was progress. The caller was dead keen to take on the work. He is coming next week to assess what needs to be done. We fixed a time and date and I noted his mobile number.

Is my excitement normal or should I wait a bit longer before jumping for joy?

26 June 2018

TEARS

A little something written after hearing a man tell his daughter
that no man was worth crying over.




No man is worth crying over.

I could hear the words as distinctly as if father was sitting alongside. The expression was a frequent comfort when the break-up of teenage romances threatened to ruffle my sanity but it did not occur to me to question the criticism of his own gender. Dear father, always on my side.

The wind lifted my hair. The bridge wasn’t an ideal spot for contemplation but I’d needed to get out of the silent house and away from Kenny’s leftover possessions. I shifted to ease the pain of stone on flesh and to massage the weal’s on lower limbs. The roughness of the bench wasn’t something Kenny and I noticed when we were courting. Far below, the water frothed and foamed and smashed against the riverbank. I had no coat. I hadn’t bargained for a storm.

Kenny had promised to ring as soon as he reached Seattle but I didn’t expect a call until he’d fought off the jetlag. Notwithstanding, I was in short-term. Nine months to a year, he said. It’ll soon pass. Short term to me suggested weeks rather than months. I could have coped with short-term. I wondered if the future would look less bleak with children to care for. We didn’t have kids. Kenny couldn’t deliver the goods. 

No man is worth crying over.

From habit, I blinked away the tears.

Kenny did everything he could to make amends for his deficiency. He really stretched himself to get the house we wanted, with a fabulous garden and an adjacent field the size of half a football pitch. Ideal for kids. On our fifth anniversary he presented me with a new Peugeot. My shopping car, he called it. That was the day father had his heart attack. The car was useful for ferrying relations after the funeral. They couldn’t understand why I didn’t cry.

The rain was holding off but the wind was still on the wild side. A polythene bag was caught on a nearby sycamore, one minute billowing like a windsock, the next deflated and limp. For about the fourth time I checked that the mobile was switched on. The idea of missing Kenny due to an oversight was too awful to imagine. He was all I had in the world; I wasn’t sure I could struggle through a whole year on my own. Or even nine months. I stood up then and paced about, needing activity to stop myself dwelling on the awful reality of a solo existence. Symptoms of impending lamentation, a tightening throat and burning eyes, were hard to resist. 

No man is worth crying over.

Oh father, how wretched you were to advise repression. How desperately I need to cry.
A pair of mallards flew over the pathway, circled, then landed gracefully on the swirling water. The suddenness of their appearance startled a cyclist pedalling furiously with his head held low. In the process of recovering his balance he saw me on the bridge, watching. He laughed sheepishly and hunched his shoulders as if to verify ineptitude. Like Kenny did sometimes when he was playing the fool. At that point, as I was picturing one of those private moments, the mobile rang. I stumbled against the parapet in my rush to answer.
__________

‘I miss you already,’ Kenny said. ‘God knows how I’m going to manage without you.’ He sounded very despondent.

I soothed him, restoring his composure with maternal phrases. It struck me how like a child he was. My child. It had taken his departure to make me see how bonded we were, bound together by the very childless fact that hitherto was so upsetting.

You’ll have to come over here, Peg. I’m all at sea on my own. I feel quite severed.’

I couldn’t answer. I was too choked. Joyful tears cascaded like a waterfall, the deluge that had waited too long for release. Father’s words were as distinct as if he was standing next to me. No man is worth crying over. But it was a voice from the past, no longer as important as when I was young, or as influential. My man was definitely worth crying over.

‘Just imagine, father,’ I whispered as I switched off the phone. ‘Your little girl has grown up at last.’

24 June 2018

NEW ACQUISITION



I recently bought the above coffee table, which I adore. Because I can no longer visit stores I looked on line but it took months to find what I wanted. Most stores sold coffee tables but all had to be self-assembled. Honestly, can you see me building a table?
Eventually I found just what I wanted – on line and ready assembled. Even though I worried about buying such a thing on line, the service was good, and everything was made easy.

The table was delivered in a short time and unpacked by the delivery men. You can imagine how pleased I was that everything had gone according to plan. As you can see, the table is solid. Properly tongue and grooved, just like my father used to do when he made furniture.

A few weeks after receipt of said item I was approached (on line) by a company called Trustpilot asking me to publish my recommendations either through them or via Facebook or Twitter. The reward for doing so was £200 worth of vouchers.

I ignored it.

I was approached again with the same offer.

I ignored it. This time I emailed the furniture store and told them that although I was very happy with my purchase I did not want to publish a recommendation elsewhere. To my mind it should be enough that the company who sold me the table knew how pleased I was with the purchase.

Again I was approached by Trustpilot, raising the offer and almost pleading with me to give my recommendation.

I ignored it.

It had happened before, when I purchased something from another company, and that’s why I was so cross when it occurred again. That time I had been pestered with offers of cash and promises to air my words for all to see, which included name and details of purchase. The purchase was a surprise gift – how was I to know it wouldn’t be seen by the person it was intended for?

It has made me think twice about purchasing stuff on line in future. 

20 June 2018

Latest Groan!


The latest ‘breakdown’ at my house was part of the guttering. I had a message from neighbours to say water was pouring into their yard from broken guttering - mine. It must have been collecting rainwater for a while and then WHOOSH, got rid of it. It has been a bit quiet on the repairs front so this came as a surprise. Oh well, let’s get it repaired.

First, find someone to do the work.

Gutter Guys is the name of the firm I chose from Yellow Pages Directory. Yes, the girl said, someone will check it out on Saturday between 9 and 12 o’clock; that’s the first day after the complaint. Not bad going, I thought, except nobody turned up.

Rang the firm the same day and was told someone would be out between 3 and 6pm. Again, no-one turned up. You can imagine my mood.

As soon as I calmed down I contacted another company. This time, on line. I am always a bit dubious about doing stuff on line, forgetting the success rate of most of my efforts. So, a guy called Andy responded to my plea for help. He is local to me, which made me feel a bit better. I mean, I have his address… I can always pop round with a battering ram if he lets me down. I don’t think that will happen because the guy not only responded to the on-line approach, he went to the trouble of phoning me and fixing a time and date, even apologising for the fact that he is going on holiday first.

Well, Andy returned from wherever and straight away sent a text to confirm the appointment. A few days later he repaired and cleaned the gutters. 

Now we’re all happy...

Until the next breakdown...

Watch this space!

17 June 2018

MORE NEWS IN BRIEF



1.   Charlie, the cat, makes me laugh. Lately he has got into the habit of leaping on the kitchen counter, right under the cupboard where his bowls are kept. He gets up there and paws the cupboard door as much as to say ‘this is where they are, now get the blue bowl and fill the damn thing.’

2.   Great excitement when I saw a pair of colourful goldfinches in the garden. Not seen any for about three years so I’m hoping they’ve made a long term comeback.

3.   I never thought I would be comforted by a cat. No longer do I sleep in a lonely bed now that Charlie spends the latter half of night-time fast asleep by my side, or my face, depending on his mood!

4.   I have said it before and I will say it again. Television is partly responsible for the violence we see, hear and read about. So much anger and violence is taking over the world. Who needs guns when the now popular way to kill and maim is with knives. I live in a respectable area; never did I think we would be targets.

5.   Lately Charlie has refused a particular brand of ‘goody’, his preference lying with a well tried and loved biscuit. Guided by price, I thought he should have a change, but he refused to eat the new variety. Rather than throw it away, I put some out for the birds, selecting a special rock that is always used for feeding purposes. Well, Charlie didn’t like the thought of birds eating the food so he got stuck in to eat it himself, closely watched by a magpie. Some food was still there when I realised Charlie wasn’t there. It was then I learned the wiles of a cat. He had gone into hiding, behind some greenery, close to the rock, waiting to pounce. Needless to say, no more biscuits will be put out in the garden.

6.   Trying to think of something to write that doesn’t include Charlie…………

7.   Lunched out this week with my good friend. Lovely! Only fault was the cost of taxi fare there and back. Friend paid for my lunch to make the taxi fares more tolerable. How nice was that?

8.   Looking for a gardener now. The bushes out there are growing upwards and outwards, taking over the lawn. The garden certainly lives up to the name ‘wild’. The past month has seen spectacular flowers from self-seeded plants but the bushes need sorting. Did manage to cut some lower branches off the apple tree since the mower man has to bend double to get to the second lawn. 

9.   Gone back to skirts. Jeans were too hot with our rare bout of hot weather. Two extremely hot days and now back to cool day. Thinking again about the jeans!

10.  That’s all. Bye for now!

12 June 2018

DOUBLE CROSS (last posted 2014)

Still clad in stripy blue pyjamas and heavy dressing gown, Philip Abbott stood at the sink washing breakfast things. Outside, raindrops sprayed the window, driven by squally winds, to match his mood. Except for the clatter of plates, the clicking clock, and the thrumming of the fridge-freezer, the room was still. Pam had gone back to bed, claiming to have a migraine. As he stacked plates on the draining board, Phil’s mind raced through their rare night of passion. Pam was like dynamite. Once her touch-paper ignited she went at sex as if she was running out of future. The experience had left him thoroughly enervated. And unhappy.
     
The last plate stacked in the drainer, Phil wrung out the dishcloth and draped it over the mixer tap. Leaning his belly against the sink, he stared trance-like through the net-draped window. He was totally oblivious to the antics of two very wet fox cubs trying and failing to drink from the garden pond.

Had Pam told the truth, he wondered when questioning her unintelligible, frenzied cry? Without exception she cried out when roused, usually repeatedly uttering his name whilst scraping her nails down his back, but in the early hours he could have sworn the name she called was Jerry. Jerry? It had stopped him in his tracks. Coming as it did mid-copulation it doused his verve and ultimate ejaculation.

Jerry!

Overcome by surging grief, Phil had a mental image of his wife’s boss, Jeremy Ifield: a maddeningly handsome face with prominent eyebrows, arched in perpetual bewilderment above sharp eyes that blazed with vitriolic scorn. The hewn cheekbones and fashionably styled grey-streaked dark hair were more like an all-American movie star. At first meeting he seemed like a nice guy but longer acquaintance revealed a superficial personality.
     
With a heavy heart, Phil pushed away from the sink and balanced on one of the tall kitchen stools. His mind darted from one incident of Pam's unpunctuality to another, all of them assigned to pressure of work. Her words. Her excuses. Excuses he had no reason to doubt until a few hours ago.
     
He had challenged her. It transpired that he had mistaken Pam's wild utterance for 'hurry'. So why did he feel encumbered by sickening qualms? If she was having an affair with Ifield ... Violently shaking his head, Phil tried to oust the notion, insisting that Pam's persistent absence was valid, that her breathless diction was easily distorted. If it wasn’t, he would surely kill her. Or him. In a short space of time he had learned to hate Jeremy Ifield with all the passion of a practiced killer.
     
Yet, he told himself, it took two to make a deal. Ifield was a free man who had nothing to lose by seducing Pam. But she had a man of her own, a husband, a legal lover, one who had given her everything her heart desired. Seemed she wanted more. Didn’t she realise that Phil could provide her with more … much more than she bargained for?
     
It was cold in the kitchen, the sort of damp cold that seeps into the soul. Phil started to dry the crocks and put them away. Only one knife remained; the sharp one used to slice bacon. Catching the light from the window, the shiny blade almost beckoned. Slowly and quite deliberately Phil picked it up. Watched as dribbles of water rolled from blade to handle. It crossed his mind that a wet knife might lose its edge. Carefully, almost lovingly, he wiped away the remaining drops and rubbed the blade dry. Pam hated to see smears on cutlery. Well, she wouldn’t see any on this knife ... ever again.

10 June 2018

MEMORIES (a repeat from 2012)



Picture sorting
Memories thrive
Times when courting
Happy … alive.

Happy couple
Hand in hand
Wading in
The sea and sand.

Sunrays, sunshine
Carefree fun
Crowded beach
Tan overdone.

Sunscreen reminder
Paid no heed
Soreness, sorrow
Regretful deed.

Specialist implored
‘Heed my advice’
He was ignored
Yet he said it twice.

Picture sorting
Memories thrive
Times when courting
Happy … alive.

06 June 2018

POWERLESS (a repeat)


He stood at the door and watched as she slowly lowered herself into her chair, her hands gripping the narrow arms as she tried to level out the descent. He had to force himself not to go to her aid, recognising her need for independence.
Once an outgoing, vital person with numerous interests both in and out of the home, his wife was now in rapid decline. Jed was afraid to touch her lest he caused her some pain. Although she never complained he caught the odd wince when his handling was less gentle.
              
Satisfied that Martha was settled, Jed went into the room to get her reading matter, a paperback, the only thing she had left to do apart from eat and sleep. Gone are the days when she fanatically enjoyed working her many crafts. Or jigsaws, though not the easy kind, she preferred difficult ones, working without pictures, forming scenes in her head as she concentrated on fitting each piece. There was always a project to do when all else was done. Now she couldn’t even hold a heavy book in her misshapen hands.
It broke his heart to see her suffer, though she never complained. Sometimes he had to leave the house, seek refuge somewhere, see people, do something different; the only way to get some solace. The whole sickness regime wore him down. He didn’t know what to do and if he was honest he didn’t want to know. He yearned to have the fun years back, when there were no worries about ill health.
In years gone by, they danced at the local ballroom. A practised dancer, Martha would whirl around the floor in her special dress and high heeled satin shoes, her flame coloured hair flying behind her, while he tried desperately to keep up. She would pull and tug and remonstrate that he wasn’t trying hard enough. 
But he did try. He had always tried to do his best for her. He guessed that sounded as though she was demanding when she wasn’t. It was just that he loved her so much and couldn’t bear her to suffer disappointment or hurt. 
He looked up, realising she was watching him.
‘Are you in pain?’ she asked.
He moved to stand beside her chair, one hand stroking her grey hair. ‘No, my dear, I was just besieged by a memory.’
‘Best leave the memories to me,’ she replied, smiling. ‘I’m better equipped to deal with them.’
And she was! Another example of her sense of humour.

Thinking back over the years he smiled, remembering. Martha’s humour was the first thing that attracted him to her. She was sitting in a coffee bar, breaking squares of chocolate from the bar and dropping them into a paper bag wedged between cups. When she saw his inquisitive stare she explained that she intended to throw the chocolate away because she was on a diet. At his suggestion that she could simply toss away the whole bar, she countered that it would be too quick and wouldn’t give her the satisfaction of handling each little piece.
The first years of their marriage were great fun, starting right on their wedding day when she tried to explain to the priest during the ceremony that the ring went on the third finger of the left hand. On honeymoon she hid her underclothes lest they offended her new husband, and when their daughter was born she wanted to spare him from seeing her undressed. Those were the good old days when she was young and fit, full of life and a trifle silly. 

There were no regrets. Martha’s life had been good, and still was. Although she had fond memories she wasn’t one for constantly remembering the past. Her style was always to live each moment and move on. Sometimes she’d felt a little claustrophobic with the pressure of remembering to order. It was too difficult to go down the route of reliving each long gone experience. She’d always wanted to be free to have her own opinions and ideals; they had shaped her life, shown her the way to proceed. She supposed she was thought of as unsentimental and in a way she guessed that was right. She wasn’t frivolous but light-heartedness suited her best.
And now here she was, confined to the house and sometimes the chair, surrounded by love and compassion yet still feeling stifled. Was that a sign of getting old or had she always felt that way? She sighed and opened the paperback book, one she’d chosen simply because the title intrigued her: Up Close and Personal, written by someone she’d never before heard of. She read the first few pages until she heard the softly closing front door. Glancing at the clock on the sideboard she saw that it was three o’clock. Much too early, she thought, for a visit to the Queens Head.  Thoughtfully she returned the book to the table beside her chair.

She knew all about Jed’s quandary. Despite his unwillingness to be tied down to domesticity he was a good and kind man and she loved him dearly. However, coming to terms with his impatience of long term ill health had taken her many years. Her first encounter had been when his father had a stroke. Jed was first at his bedside but subsequent visits were well spaced out, prompting fierce arguments between them until she recognised that he hadn’t sufficient aptitude to get more closely involved. But it didn’t mean he didn’t care, that’s why she had vowed not to be a drain on their everyday life. 
As if that thought was a reminder, she painfully stretched an arm out to the side table and selected a pill bottle from an array of similar bottles, all with caps ready loosened. Damn these fingers, she cried, as she shook out two easy to swallow painkilling capsules.


‘Hi Mom,’ said Danny as he and Babs let themselves into the house. 
‘Hello, dears,’ called Martha, straightening her plaid skirt so that she would look more respectable for her children.
Carrying flowers and a basket of fruit, brother and sister entered the room, both of them trying not to appear shocked at their mother’s appearance. In a short space of time she’d shrunk to nothing, from healthy plumpness to this emaciated existence. The doctor put it down to inactivity, lack of appetite, and old age.
‘Where’s Dad,’ enquired Danny.
‘Probably gone to the park,’ Martha said. ‘He likes to get out when the weather’s fine.’
Danny inwardly seethed although he knew better than to say what was on his mind. His father had always cut and run rather than face up to domestic situations.
Martha could see that her eldest child was privately at war with his father and wished there was something she could say in her husband’s defence. Instead she asked Babs to brew them a pot of tea and reminded her that the biscuit tin was still full of her favourites.
Babs chuckled. ‘Oh Mother, I’ve brought you some more. I thought you would have eaten the others by now.’

With Babs out of the way Martha turned to her son and said, ‘Don’t feel badly about your Dad.’
Danny shrugged. ‘It upsets me when he leaves you alone so much.’
For the first time Martha admitted aloud that she preferred it that way. ‘It means I can wallow when I’m on my own. I have to put up such a front when your Dad’s here.’
‘Why?’
‘Because he loves me, almost too much.’ She knew that Danny would never understand but she tried to elaborate. ‘He lives in the past, you see. He always has done. I think he’s afraid of what the future will bring. I’m more realistic. I don’t let on too much when I have pain because I can’t take too much fuss. Your Father does a lot for me but I prefer not to wear him out. It’s selfish, I know, but then we’re both selfish. We know when to keep our distance and when to allow some dependence upon each other. It’s about knowing each other, Danny, respecting who we are, but in a strange sort of way it shows how much we care about each other.’
She didn’t enjoy seeing the tears in Danny’s eyes, but she’d had to be blunt. She just hoped he and Babs would finally realise that although their parents had faults their relationship was as strong as it ever was. 
  

At the end of the afternoon visit Danny and Babs left the house by the front door, leaving Martha still sitting in the chair. Just before the door closed, Martha heard Babs say ‘Well, I for one don’t understand it. Wouldn’t you think that being in love would make people more accommodating?
One day, thought Martha, you might be more understanding of the human race. Being in love is wonderful but it doesn’t necessarily iron out all of life’s wrinkles.

03 June 2018

Love in the wild!


Living on ground level, in a single storey bungalow, certainly has its advantages. Bird watching, for example. If I lived higher up I would miss such a lot because much of the action occurs on ground level.

Have you ever seen birds mate? For several years the dunnocks would mate right by my lounge windows and being a curious creature myself I stood and watched. The procedure fascinated me, so different to the human way of mating. Then the dunnocks left and I almost forgot that yearly procedure. Until today when I discovered the birds had merely switched from back of the house to the front.

I was in the bedroom doing that daily chore of making the bed.

As I walked round the bed I heard a noise outside. Birds, I thought, as I rushed to the window. It’s an old habit after years of birdwatching. One cheep and either Joe or me would check the variety. Some bird sounds were clear to us but this one was just ‘a bird’.

Well, the noise that alerted me this time had nothing to do with birds but it was responsible for me catching sight of the dunnocks. Yes, they were at it again. I didn’t realise they had changed their mating spot. This time I was nearer to them so got a real lesson in how birds ‘do it’.

No romance at all. In fact, there’s not much getting together either. No lovemaking as we know it. First the birds do a little chase, usually led by the female. She does a lot of hopping on the spot while he flutters on a spot a few inches away from his ladylove. Then, presumably when she is ready for him, he jumps the small distance and fires! It takes all of one second, if that!. Then off they go, flying their separate ways, but no doubt they get together to raise the family.

And that’s it. All over.

Dunnocks nest in bushes rather than trees and there’s plenty of them at my place. I am thrilled that the birds have resumed the policy of years gone by and that is to make a nest near the patio window. Now I have great pleasure in awaiting the arrival of youngsters. 

29 May 2018

DELIGHTFUL ODDITIES


(Extracts from A Gentleman Publisher’s Commonplace Book by John G Murray)

~~~~~

‘Sex has become a serious international problem for which a solution hasn’t yet been found.’
(Introduction to a The Truth about Sex submitted by A M Macrae 1968)

‘The girl was beheaded, chopped into pieces and placed in a trunk but was not interfered with.’
(From a Fleet Street report)

‘What has one wheel and flies?’
‘A wheelbarrow full of manure!’
(A riddle from John Piper)

‘What is funny about legs?’
‘The bottom is at the top!’
(A riddle from a lady of 92)

 ‘I’m afraid,’ said a woman on entering a shoe shop, ‘that one of my feet is larger than the other.’
‘Oh no, madam,’ exclaimed the salesman, ‘if anything one is smaller.’

‘Exclusive Universal Tailors.’
(Advertisement)

‘Sole joint agents.’
(Sign outside a house)

‘Tattooed lady wishes to meet gentleman with similar views.’
(Advertisement from the agony column of the Observer)

‘Ears pierced while you wait’
(Notice in a Cork jeweller’s window)

‘St Margaret’s School of the Immaculate Conception for Girls’
and underneath
‘Preparatory for Boys’
(Sign outside a school in Berkshire)

Q. ‘What’s the difference between a snowman and a snow woman?’
A. ‘Snowballs.’
(Riddle from Anne Ridler)

A warden in the dark outside an air raid shelter during the war asked, ‘Are there any pregnant women here?’
A young cockney shouted, ‘Give us a chance, guv’, we’ve only been ‘ere ten minutes.’

Hotel notice: ‘If requiring breakfast please hang on door knob before 7am.’

‘Due to staff shortage the automatic ticket machines are not in use.’
(Notice in Farringdon Underground Station)

Wording on a form sent out by a Government department in 1962:
‘Separate departments on the same premises are treated as separate premises for this purpose where separate branches of work which are commonly carried on as separate business in separate premises are carried on in separate departments of the same premises’

‘Baths may be had by arrangement with the manageress only.’
(Notice in a Southport hotel)

‘Horse manure bagged 25p. Do it yourself 10p.’ 
(Advertisement outside a Sussex farm)