Saturday, 29 November 2008

Seven Sisters Seize Suetonius' Size Sixteen Sandals

There I've got your attention now!

Anyway I was tagged by Fat, Frumpy and Fifty a wee while ago with the

'The One Sweet Blog' award and it comes with a tag for a meme - a '7's meme.

VII Things which I plan to do before I die:

i. get to a wise old age without going gaga

ii. learn to live and think in the "now"

iii. spend my/our money more wisely
iv. save my/our money more sagaciously
v. read even more voraciously
vi. go and watch the English cricket team on tour in a very hot place (unlikely to happen now!!)
vii. declutter (and write a book or two...just thought I'd sneak that in....)

VII Things which I do now:
i. worry
ii. go round turning lights off
iii. tut at the mess and dog hairs
iv. think about cleaning the car
v. think about cleaning the house
vi. go round closing doors
vii. procrastinate

VII Things which I can't do:
i. tapdance
ii. speak Mandarin
iii. play the piano (as it is elsewhere)
iv. read other people's minds
v. knit or crochet
vi. get up early (to go jogging)
vii. not blog

VII Things which attract me in the opposite sex (Not sure what this means exactly...attract me "to" the opposite sex or does it mean how the opposite sex might be attracted to me?...Sorry! turning into Lynne Truss/John Humphreys/Jeremy Paxman now!!):
i. books
ii. newspapers
v. good food
vi. laughter
vii. a sense of direction
(perhaps the answers are interchangeable...although hubbie might dispute the last one! I believe that I do have a pretty good sense of direction except underwater!)

VII Things which I say most often:
i."I think that...(then trail off into silence)..."
ii. "I mean" (in the middle of a conversation which heralds a huge change in subject then expecting the other person to know immediately what I am talking about)
iii. "eat your food!"
iv. "shut that door"
v. "put the lights out!"
vi. "tidy up!"
vii. "you'll be sorry!"
(Am usually ignored on items iii. - vii.)

VII "Celebrities" that (whom) I admire:
They'd be shocked to be described thus but here they are:
i. Humphrey Bogart
ii. Lauren Bacall
iii. John Thaw
iv. Morecambe (and Wise)
v. IT Botham
vi. Hadrian
vii. Gene Kelly

VII Favourite foods:
i. good beef casserole
ii. pan haggerty
iii. pain au chocolat
iv. crunchy peanut butter
v. bacon sarnie
vi. cheese and onion toastie
vii. Moody's rye bread (see Hadriana's diet blog)

VII Bloggers who are not obliged to do this if they don't want to:
i. Lakeland Jo
ii. Reluctant Memsahib
iii. Keep Bloggering On!
iv. Nappy Valley Girl
v. Mom/Mum Wars
vi. A Confused Take That Fan
vii. Sandi at (Holding Patterns)

Right that's done! Over to you....

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Happy Scribblers Unite!

Aah! I feel more in tune with the world...nice fried chicken, carrots, leeks, broccoli, baked potato, penicillin, swilled down with some Vin de Savoie, Mondeuse (where one of my sisters and brother-in-law now reside). What more could a gal ask for? award, that's what! I've been given the marvellous award by Dumdad, The Other Side of Paris, and I am well chuffed! I chanced upon Dumdad's superior scribbles (a sub-editor living and working in Paris, please correct me Dumdad if my information is incorrect!) through reading the equally excellent The Lehners in France and now they are The Lehners in (Y)UK. If you've not read their respective blogs I urge you to do so now. They both write from the heart with loads of panache. I try to do this and aim to improve with each post I write.
I'm reading Michael Wright's "La Folie" at the moment which I had resisted reading but now think is marvellous. I often day dream of living in warmer climes and it turns out that I am living a similar sort of life just without the hot(ter) weather. Oh well, you can't have everything.
The reason I love blogs (and books) is that is allows you a peek (or not) into other people's lives.
The other seven(!) bloggers to be so bestowed are the following:
Fat, Frumpy and Fifty (a very lively lady living in Cumbria and her blog accurately reflects her personality. I've had the good fortune to meet her and must get my act together to give her a ring before Christmas is upon us.)
East Anglian Troy (A chap living and writing his dream. Recommends gold...could he have the Midas touch?)
The Dotterel "Bringing up Charlie" (Another chap, ex-teacher, writing and living his dream. The dotterel means "a kind of plover (bird), noted for the fact that the male incubates the eggs and feeds the chicks.")
Exmoorjane (I do so love her blog "Diary of a Desperate Exmoor Woman", she makes me laugh every time, and has an excellent turn of phrase.)
Alcoholic Daze /Rosiero (This lady writes so poignantly...facing hard issues head on.)
Ladybird World Mother (New to the blog world and has a great zest for life.)
authorblog (David McMahon) (Melbourne based journalist...who updates his blog every day....well worth a look at his multi-faceted prose and photos.)
expatmum (ex-N.E. gal who now lives in Chicago...looks at the difference between US and UK life and gives it a cheeky spin.)
The Lehners in France/(Y)UK....absolutely riveting...Go on give it a go!
(and yes...I can't count!.....)
Nuts in May Another must -look-read from a granny called Maggie May. She writes about Life with a Capital "L" beautifully...
I'm not joking but there are loads more blogs out there which I could readily nominate.
Hopefully I'll get the chance to do so some day.....
Happy reading and blogging!

Falling behind: little by little, drop by drop

I decided to inject a small rainbow into my life....because I feel as if I am falling behind with a multitude of things.
Just a quick update then, to keep you all in the picture so to speak:

1. We are putting little house, in the next town, on the market (but need to scrub walls down etcetera plus husband impaled a finger on a nail there yesterday and is now refusing to go anywhere near a doctor!)

2. Answered yet more questions for our very lovely accountant. (He is a very decent chap.)

3. We've been to the doctors three times in three days with various ailments and maladies (not for skewered digits though!) but we are still here to tell the tale...

Have received "formidable" (said with French accent - see above) award from Dumdad (will speak more of his superb blog soon) and have not forgotten the "seven things" meme tagged to me recently by the very cosmopolitan FFF! Will definitely be on to things very soon...

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Thar the icy tumbleweed blows...

Hubbie and I rarely go out. Our-Strictly-Come-Dancing-John-Sergeant-days, we reckon, are long gone. But occasionally there are slight glimmers of hope. Ta da! Only last night I was invited out to a small social (women-only-PTA-organised) gathering at the local village hall. At first I dithered, I felt grotty (as a fully paid up member of a mardy cold) but then again, I thought, go on...give it a whirl...

At six o'clock (remarkably organised for once) I looked up at the kitchen clock and asked hubbie if now was the right time to start to get the children to bed. As there was no or little response (he was working at the computer) I carried on reading the local newspapers (just the headlines!, just the headlines!)...thinking that I might just get away with not doing the bedtime routine...

At 6.45 p.m. hubbie asked whether I was reading to our son or daughter. I told him that I had to be at the party (being held all of five minutes away) at 7.30 p.m. He said: "You can be ready in five minutes, what's the problem?" (Typical blokish reply. I thought to myself.) And usually yes, in five minutes, I can be ready. Except for this night. I was convinced that the ladies would be glammed up to their eyelashes and as such, I did not want to roll in, dressed in my usual uniform of jeans and Fatface sweatshirt swirled in snot...

I read poor wee son's stories to him in the record breaking time of four minutes flat. Felt incredibly guilty as he has the dratted cold 7.05pm I sidled into our bedroom...not having a clue as to what to wear.

Various thoughts did a rapid front crawl through my head:

1. Blue linen skirt (Summer's sub-zero outside!)
2. Jean skirt (no...too much of a "staple")
3. Jeans. Absolutely not! (due to aforementioned reasons)
4. What the hell else? (Despite having wardrobes full of clothes and one rail having fallen down only last week due to the sheer weight of various "togas/shifts" them what you will...)
I finally remembered the wrapover black dress which still fits me fine. O.K. 50% of the dress decision taken. What to wear with it? Pulled out lots of jumpers, t-shirts, sweaters from the chest of drawers I rarely venture into as so many books are stacked in front of them. Discover, to my delight, that the Nicole Farhi roll necked jumper still exists after all these years. (My old faithful.) I'd convinced myself that I'd long since banished it as it was looking distinctly threadbare. (Nay! I shall not abandon it just as Linus, in Peanuts, will never be parted from his faithful old blanket.) But. Oh! Cannot wear that with the black wrapover dress. Can only be worn with jeans. Damn. Blast. Opt for the red woollen roll necked jumper instead.

I crowbar the long mirror out of its hiding place between the window and the chest of drawers. (It had its own stand but the children started swinging off it so all had to be removed due to own household's self imposed health and safety rules.) I take a good look at myself in the mirror and am not happy. Choose to go for that black roll necked sweater. More mole-like burrowing in my other chest of drawers...convinced that it, too, did not exist. And lo! The black roll necked sweater does exist. No longer a figment of my imagination - it is donned. It passes muster. The black Marella coat...still in service from my banking days...(now only used for Christenings and Funerals) gets the thumbs up. Last but not least...what to put on my feet?...I manage to put on one black leather boot but the lever, thingummy jig, breaks off in my hand and with five minutes to go to get there, I cannot believe that I will be compelled to go up the road in one boot (as I can't get it off for love nor money). Cripes. I consider calling in sick. With one last attempt I achieve the impossible and the devilish boot is prised off. I go down, SAS-style, on my belly to see what lurks in the nether, dusty regions of the double bed. Have I got any footwear which would remotely match up to this kamikaze outfit? Again I strike gold with some black wedge shoes which have come back into fashion after ten years. "The Gods must be smiling on me tonight!" I inwardly rejoice. I strap them on, put on some lippy, stride out the door, unfreeze the car and arrive fifteen minutes late.

No mean feat.

I open the door. I walk in. The hall is almost deserted....99.9% of the womenfolk, who were there, were wearing............good old, practical, comfy jeans.

Friday, 14 November 2008

"Joined the choir invisible"

Dead Parrot sketch is 1,600 years old
It's long been held that the old jokes are the best jokes - and Monty Python's Dead Parrot sketch is no different.

Monty Python's 'Dead Parrot sketch' - which featured John Cleese and Michael Palin - is some 1,600 years old.

A classic scholar has proved the point, by unearthing a Greek version of the world-famous piece that is some 1,600 years old.
A comedy duo called Hierocles and Philagrius told the original version, only rather than a parrot they used a slave.
It concerns a man who complains to his friend that he was sold a slave who dies in his service.
His companion replies: "When he was with me, he never did any such thing!"
The joke was discovered in a collection of 265 jokes called Philogelos: The Laugh Addict, which dates from the fourth century AD.
Hierocles had gone to meet his maker, and Philagrius had certainly ceased to be, long before John Cleese and Michael Palin reinvented the yarn in 1969.
Their version featured Cleese as an exasperated customer trying to get his money back from Palin's stubborn pet salesman.
Cleese's character becomes increasingly frustrated as he fails to convince the shopkeeper that the 'Norwegian Blue' is dead.
The manuscripts from the Greek joke book have now been published in an online book,, featuring former Bullseye presenter and comic Jim Bowen presenting them to a modern audience.
Mr Bowen said: "One or two of them are jokes I've seen in people's acts nowadays, slightly updated.
"They put in a motor car instead of a chariot - some of them are Tommy Cooper-esque."
Jokes about wives, it seems, have always been fair game.
One joke goes: "A man tells a well-known wit: 'I had your wife, without paying a penny'. The husband replies: "It's my duty as a husband to couple with such a monstrosity. What made you do it?"
The book was translated by William Berg, an American classics professor.

Article from today's Daily Telegraph and read some more of the jokes in more detail here. Nice to know that humour goes back to the dawn of time...

"- When the over-talkative barber asks him, 'How shall I cut your hair?,' a quick wit answers, 'Silently.'"

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Glass half empty or half full?

Oh blast it! I've been trying not to write about the crummy credit crunch but I'm one of those people who hovers on the sidelines for ages and then just dives into the deep end.
We are feeling it and feeling it BAD. The banks are not easily coming up with the finance we need to extend our little B&B enterprise. (We need to expand it so the guests even get a look in...our little family has enlarged so as to occupy all the rooms. At this rate we will be living in a caravan and the guests will be the ones living in luxury...)
Under normal market conditions it would be an absolute doddle. I know this because I've been on the other side of the lending line. "Grr. %£*@#@~**********!!!!" As Captain Haddock would so nicely put it. (Blistering ba(nk)rn(deb)acles!)
So here we are now feverishly working on business plans, looking at spreadsheets and pulling out our rapidly greying hair. We seem to spend an amount equivalent to the GBP (Freudian Slip)/ GDP of a small island, The Isle of Man say, (mind you it feels like the Isle of Dogs right now!) every month. We do not live like kings, queens, emperors or even celebrity footballers. More like the Gipsy Kings. Time to get to work with Ebay, boot fairs, recycling, growing our own veg., trying to turn the heating down (aagggh!)...
'Tis a shame I cannot dig up some Roman buried where did Dad put his metal detector?
(P.S. Will keep you posted on how this all turns out.)

Saturday, 8 November 2008

The mystery of bleeding heart yard...

I'm grabbing the moment to blog. I've not been blogging so much of late because my husband and I use the same computer. We are trying to get various computers/laptops networked, linked and goodness knows what, so hopefully all will be back to normal in the near future.

This time I am digressing from Roman history to London history (another passion of mine). I've fallen in love with the BBC's current serialisation of Little Dorrit. It happened with Bleak House (my favourite Dickens' book) and now I know that I will soon immerse myself in the 900 pages or so of Little Dorrit.

In May we were down at a fabulous wedding reception at Trafalgar Tavern next door to the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich and we chanced upon some filming of Little Dorrit. As my luck would have it (sic) we did not have our camera with us. Nevertheless we were allowed to wander through the market scene shot inside the Old Royal Naval College (ORNC) in Queen Anne's Court. As usual the BBC props department had gone to enormous lengths to find the right market impedimenta. We also saw some filming down at the water's edge. To see some exquisite photos of the ORNC click here. It was one of the few weekends this year in which we saw some amazingly good weather. You can see quite a lot of these ORNC backdrops in the last screened episode (No.4) and you can also view some of the previously shown episodes on the BBC website. (Not sure if overseas viewers can access these easily although I don't see why not!) Unfortunately I did not see the most wonderful Matthew Macfadyn before you ask!

Speaking of Dickens and his buildings in episode four the "character" of The Bleeding Heart Yard, in Hatton Garden, also looms large and I am reminded of when I used to work in and around this area of London for a big bank which has now gone cap in hand (like Oliver Twist) to the government to ask for more. It is a very quirky and byzantine area (Holborn and Clerkenwell) with very narrow alleys and odd doorways. These are disrupted every so often by smudges of green (Lincoln's Inn Fields, Gray's Inn Gardens and Red Lion Square), and I am sure much more treasure* lies hidden from view like the fabled Fleet River. One day I hope to resume my wanderings and ramblings there. (*My good lady diver friend used to live opposite Dickens' old bank, the Finsbury Savings Bank, in Sekforde Street which is now a private residence. There is a plaque on the wall to commemorate this fact.)

I haven't quite managed to disentangle how The Bleeding Heart Yard came to be so named. There is the usual one recounted at The Bleeding Heart Restaurant (in which I have been fortunate enough to dine) about the murder of Lady Elizabeth Hatton. ("Her Annual Winter Ball, on January 26, 1662, was one of the highlights of the London social season. Halfway through the evening's festivities, the doors to Lady Hatton's grand ballroom were flung open. In strode a swarthy gentleman, slightly hunched of shoulder, with a clawed right hand. He took her by the hand, danced her once around the room and out through the double doors into the garden. A buzz of gossip arose. Would Lady Elizabeth and the European Ambassador (for it was he) kiss and make up, or would she return alone? Neither was to be. The next morning her body was found in the cobblestone courtyard – torn limb from limb, with her heart still pumping blood onto the cobblestones. And from thenceforth the yard was to be known as The Bleeding Heart Yard.")
There is another version to be found in Wikipedia which claims that the gory name for the yard comes from the sign of a nearby tavern dating back to The Reformation. Nevertheless an unresolved mystery, quite frankly, is even more beguiling...

Monday, 3 November 2008

Rag, tag and bobtail

I've been tagged twice - once by The Dotterel and another time by Fat, Frumpy and Fifty. Each tag is slightly different so I'll go with the six tag factor from The Dotterel and I'll save FFF's seven "meme" (must look that word up) tag for the next post.

The Dotterel says that I must reveal six random things about myself:

1. Head in hands. "Where on earth do I start?" I ask myself. I reckon that I am a pretty unorganised sort of person. I thought I was organised until I had children and then it dawned on me that I had been labouring under that delusion for years. I often start jobs, pick something up, see something else and then start doing that job. I often have four or five jobs "on the go" e.g.:

I was in the bank today trying to arrange something.
I got out my debit card along with my address book and undertook the banking transaction and chatted to a few people and went to the supermarket and opened my wallet to pay and saw that the debit card was not there (and panicked) and at the same time I was chatting to a friend and was trying to give her my business card (and saw that someone had written their number on the back of it so I couldn't give it to her) and paid for the shopping in cash but queried an item that I had brought back: a tin of spaghetti (the flavour of sauce not quite to my Marie Antoinette daughter's liking) and tried to exchange it and then that had to be ratified by the manager of the store and meanwhile I was thinking "ten minutes to go" up the winding road by car to collect daughter from school and eventually the friend leaves as she is tired of waiting for me to get out business card sans scrawled number on the back and got tins exchanged whilst simultaneously trying to put the unflavoursome spaghetti back into my bag and then realised what I was doing and got it out again and went out to car and put shopping in car and rang another friend to ask her to pick up daughter from school (as it was now five minutes to go before pickup time) and rang school to arrange it and walked back to bank and asked if they have found my debit card and no they had not and they asked me: "Is it in your address book?" and I exclaimed: "Oh yes, here it is and do you fancy organising my life for me?" and how they chortled and then I saw the friend in the street again and gave her a clean business card (which had miraculously appeared from my scrawny wallet) and walked back to car and picked something up from our other house which we still must put on market to sell or to rent because it has been empty for 10 months now and we are still paying the mortgage on it and being credit CRUNCHED to within a millimetre of our Mrs. Pepperpot lives (!) and picked daughter up from my friend's house and had a restorative cuppa and went back home for tea.

2. I used to love drinking pints of Guinness when I was a student (I also used to serve up pints for Adrian Chiles, Uni President, at the College bar). Occasionally I stop and wonder why I have not had a Guinness for about ten years. (I must remember to keep the odd bottle in the cupboard for the odd sneaky slurp.)

3. I'm not a vegetarian but I'm very finicky when it comes to eating meat. I can eat beef in casseroles but not keen on roast beef but can eat steaks. I cannot abide lamb (absolutely hate the smell when it is cooking). Not much good with pork either. Who said man cannot live by chicken alone? I could. (Cue despairing husband.)

4. On my maternal side I come from a fish and chip shop dynasty. My great grandfather had a fish and chip did my aunties, uncles and my grandfather. I'm very proud of that. My grandfather is still alive and well into his nineties. Still watching Countdown, doing crosswords and occasionally beating Carol Vorderman. I should start eating fish like there is no tomorrow. He ate masses of coley and is still very much with us to tell many tales. Of how the cod used to be huge after the Second World War (as the waters had not been fished for years). Of being in the thick of the Burma War. If I can be anything like him in my latter years I will be chuffed to bits.

5. I can play the piano. At least I think I still can. I last played it when I was 18. We bought a piano five years ago but we have yet to install it in either of our houses. (Very long story.)

6. I was so smiley when I was a child that Brown Owl gave me a badge with "Champion Smiler" on it.

7. When I was about six or seven I wrote a paragraph-long story with no punctuation with lots of "ands" in it. My teacher was not impressed in the slightest.

8. You may have guessed that I am also not very good at obeying rules and :-)

Six other bloggees/bloggers/bloggites tagged to be "it"... Apologies if you have done this before. Maybe you can rustle up some more titbits?: Arthur Clewley's Diary, French Fancy, Tarte Tartan, Rural Villager, Ladybird World Mum, Dulwich Divorcee Over to you...(now who I am going to choose to be my next "tag" victims...)