Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Week Four. Grey matter unchallenged

Oh, The Moomins, how I love The Moomins. I treated myself to one of the comic strip compilations last weekend. Just reading it is enough to make me feel happy and I keep getting the urge to get my crayons and colour in the pictures. Crayoning (tongue between teeth, nose on the paper - remember that ?) has to be one of lifes' great escapes.

My mother lent me The Sisters who would be Queen by Leanda de Lisle about the machinations of the Tudor court. Women were pawns, even the best educated and most independant, in a game played by their male relations. I am looking forward to this, probably reading it at the same time that I watch David Starkey analysing Henry VIII. (Therefore not getting the best of either but needs must)

Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey. Another recommendation from Lucy Fishwife. Only started it this morning, but has every chance of being a cracking read. If you enjoy mentally casting films this would be a great book to do. The character development and their physical appearance are clearly described but still there is space for your own imagination. Better yet, Josephine Tey left her estate to the National Trust so they get all profits from every book sold, a new interpretation of a novel for the beach ?

Such a Long Journey by Rohnton Mistry. A slow gentle progression, like unravelling knitting, but there is an sad and sinister undercurrent, each page you turn there is the feeling "something bad is going to happen, is it now ? Please don't let it be now." You yearn for peace for the family. You know it isn't going to happen.

Poppyland by Raffaela Barker. The first books of hers that I read seemed like grown up chick lit (which is not meant to sound derogatory, we all need to fall into easy reading sometimes) but this book seems much bleaker. Her early books felt like the Norfolk where you go on holiday, bright and fun, this one is more like Norfolk in early Spring, bleak and although you hope things will cheer up, you are not certain they will. Lovely descriptions and some wonderful observations on the worst elements of love.

And these ? These are what I am meant to be reading. I think it is going to have to be revision by osmosis.

Arms and the Maiden

Yes, I know I am mixing my dramatic references, but after much chewing of my pen I really couldn't think of what else to call this post.

Here, in all its glory, is girlchilds' tattoo

I was given daily updates on the state of healing, tonality and discomfort and did look through squinty eyes (I'm not not good with needles) but now it is fully healed and a sheeny shiny proof of her independance so I was allowed to photograph it. I do like it a lot and was not overly surprised to be told there would be additions to this work of art. Apparently it is going to be surrounded with a garland of roses.

That was when it all went horribly wrong, I still haven't learnt to keep my mouth shut. (after umpty years of colossal faux pas, and an MA in "Teenagers; the inadvertant insulting of a tender lifeform") She did not take kindly to my throw away comment "Gosh, so similar to the painting on a narrow boat then ?" Ooops.

Suggestions as to salvage our relationship would be gratefully received.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

At risk of disappointing my regular readers

who know I have gloom and despondancy, with a subset of whinging hard wired into my make-up

Because it is.

Brain Food. Week 3

OK, week 3 and a good selection of old favourites and excitement that arrived today.

"The Other Queen" by Phillippa Gregory, although I have a rather snobbish approach to books with "gold on the cover", this is very good. Romps along and even though it is set in a period I still read around since doing Tudor History A'level, there is a lot of stuff that I didn't know. If only all text books could be this entertaining

"Brat Farrer" by Josephine Tey, a recommendation from LucyFishwife as a follow on, in style and period, to "Dora Damage" (06/04)

"The Rossetti Letters" by Christi Phillips. Venice, libraries, mystery, Cambridge, courtesans. Don't really need to say any more do I ?

"Molly Fox's Birthday" by Deirdre Malden. The only Orange short list book that Waterstones had in today. You're a book shop for heavens sake !

"Neris and India's Idiot-Proof Diet" If you don't know about this, you should. Appears to be held in high esteem by most of the inhabitants of my side bar works. May have to buy a second copy as the pages are beginning to peel off the spine it has been consulted so regularly.

"A Sensible Life" Mary Wesley, a wonderful, witty writer with a unique style and the ability to make ageing seem something to look forward to - provided you are prepared to be disreputable. A modern Nancy Mitford, with an eye for relationships and social mores that make re-reading her novels compulsory.

"Lizzie Siddal" by Lucinda Hawksley. Spurred on by my post about the Pre Raphaelites a couple of weeks ago, I have gone back to my shelves to re-read books bought since I was 16. This, from 2004 is a lovely book, clear and academic yet never frosty or obscure and gives a fascinating view of how important women were to these artists. (Cassandra, I will flag up the others asap)

In the background, my windowbox. Who'd have thought ? - if you water plants they grow, they flower and in the case of wallflowers, smell wonderful.

Neuroses writ large

I do realise that one of the most tedious things in the world is when someone says "I had an amazing dream last night". After a cursory "really?" most of us will start looking for the closest escape route, so I apologise, in advance. I just feel this story gives a very accurate view of the squeaky doom merchant I am, remember, scientia est potentia.

Some non specified apocalypse had occurred and I was trying to collect together useful items to spirit away to the woods, all carried in my re-cycleable Waitrose bags (easy to pack and padded handles so you can carry more - see how prepared my sub-conscious is).


Scissors - do I need 1 or 2 pairs, large or small ?

Loo roll ? No, too bulky


String, natural and plastic

Sellotape - don't be stupid you aren't going to be wrapping many birthday presents !

And so it went on; I was rather pleased with the way unconscious me knew where so many things were, believe me, in the waking world every day will involve shouting and random drawer opening as vital items are vainly searched for. Still, other than the fact I was very worried I had no gun and knew I was going to have to rely on a huge Sabatier to fend off marauders, things seemed to be going well.

Then I woke up, which should have been a good thing really, no apocalypse, family safe in their beds, bailiffs over the horizon. But no, I continued to plan my survival list ! Lying in bed, still shaking, I was trying to remember where the hammers were, which nails to take and would blankets be better than a quilt ?

The Voice of Reason (quite strident, after years of CBT) kept saying

"No apocalypse, there is no apocalypse !! Look out of the window, see, night time, you are in bed, it was a dream"
"You just don't understand, how will I manage without conditioner ? Oh God, I forgot matches" "Shut up, it was a dream - you are bloody mad" and so on.

Twenty minutes later the V of R finally got the upper hand, my pulse returned to normal, and I decided having woken early to put the time to good use.

I had a cup of coffee.

Monday, 20 April 2009


My daughter has got her tattoo. I am sad. I am also wondering why I am sad, because, actually, it is rather nice, it suits her, it is well done and I am proud of her for having the bottle to do it. She designed it, checked around for a reputable and respected tattooer (?) and drove herself to Whiteley Bay to have it done, having first saved the money she needed. So what is my problem ?
I think it is because, inevitably, I am a product of my age and upbringing. Girlchild sees it as body art chosen by her, I see it as a sort of mutilation that will mean she is judged by some, who will take it as a badge of affiliation to a subgroup in society, I am concerned she will regret it in later life, she says it is part of who she is.
So, a worried Mother or someone who should be happy her daughter is confident in who she is ? Perhaps I need to learn from her example, I shouldn't spend my life saying "What if.." but say "That looks fun, lets have a go....."

I'm still not going to get a tattoo though !

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Thoughtful musings

Wandering around Waitrose in Hull this afternoon (yes, I know, stereotypes are made to be disproved) I came across a man in the homewares aisle quietly and reflectively squeezing 2 of the deep round muffin cases in a silicone muffin tray.
He saw me seeing him, shuffled gently and moved off towards "Laundry Goods".
I am still giggling.

Oh grow up !

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

A grand day out

Last Saturday we had a "family day out" a phrase that can strike fear to the heart, but in this instance was really rather good. Silent One had bought his mother, sister and b-in-law, as well as our tribe, tickets for Quidam - the Cirque de Soleil show that is currently in the UK - at the Sheffield Arena. Sadly, girlchild was off in London finalising details for her tattoo ( I know, it is her choice, yadaa yadaa, but I can't help feeling a bit sick about it all even though she has promised it isn't going to be anything too ghastly - not sure I could make that distinction ! ) so we had a spare ticket that I forced upon my oldest friend.

The show was amazing - I loathe contrived fun, circuses and all such jolly things and yet every Cirque show that I have been to has reduced me to tears. The whole spectacle is wonderful, but there are also tiny incidental moments that stay with you for a very long time afterwards. The imagery that is simple enough to see without being clunky, the choreography that intensifies the sense of a story, the lighting that lets you see but still enhances a sense of mystery. The problem is the acts themselves would be done no service by trying to describe them and the small intimacies are just that, everyone would see them in a different way.

I have been to 3 of the shows, Saltimbanco, which has an Italianate theme, I saw in Amsterdam with no idea what I was going to and was utterly swept away - a sense of joy is the only way to describe it.

I went to the Royal Albert Hall last year to see Varekai which is based on the idea of a man searching through a forest for who he is, just as the inhabitants of the forest try to work out why he is there. It was mysterious, haunting and beautifully designed.

Then, Quidam, which seemed to be based on loss, being lost and the fear of separation from what you understand. Again, I was reduced to tears, and this time by skipping - no, there was no bullying in the playground - the sheer simplicity of it was astounding. My only disappointment is that is impossible for me to describe any of this effectively.

As that is the case the only thing to do is go yourselves, watch the faces of the audience as well as the performance. It is something you will never forget.

Normal service, ie.flippancy and random stream of consciousness, will be resumed as soon as possible

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Brain Food. Week 2

From the top down

A Moomin tribute

Carol Ann Duffy from a friend to widen my horizons

Linda Grant bought because I enjoyed "The Clothes on Their Backs"

Lush architectural yumminess, a birthday present from boychild. (He really can take a hint that boy !

Ooyay - one of those ones where you play on Amazon and think "Oh yes, why not ?"

The two hardbacks were birthday presents from my Mother. Now I understand the Paxman, good choice. But the WI book ? The paranoia kicked in there and I'm afraid I took it as a subliminal criticism of my domesticity (or lack of it). Last year she gave me "Mrs Beeton" but obviously, as I still have no staff, she feels I need the "D.I.Y" option. Oh well, off to find my pinny.

I am infinitely superior

to all humanoids - even that Doctor Who person, who would not stand a chance (if I could be bothered)

and as for that dog............

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Something else I've found out..

If you start a post, then save it to go back to later, once you can actually remember what you are trying to say, Blogger posts it retrospectively. You don't realise this, can't see it at the top of the page so repost. Repeat until realise error.

Feel stupid.

Mutter darkly.

Decide not actually completely hopeless, as have managed to set up Twitter.

Go and eat chocolate to celebrate.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Admitting to an addiction

My internet connection to everywhere has just been down for 2 hours....frustratingly the diagnostics (!) suggested me to hub AND hub to world were up and running so it was everything and everyone else that had disappeared. I was distrait. This was not a good discovery, surely the internet should be a garnish not the raison d'etre.

Step away from the keyboard

Monday, 6 April 2009

This weeks brain food

special thanks go to LucyFishwife for her recommendation, and Tania Kindersley. Also the V&A, and WHSmiths "buy one get one half price".
OK, I know, not a proper post; revving up for that, but still suffering from post weekenditis. My ability to put words in anything like a coherant sequence seems sadly diminished. Silent One places my struggles to set up twitter and my age as directly responsible. Silent One is now making strange whimpering noises - hah !

Look, Spring !

I love how happy something as simple as this can make you feel.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Small, warm smile.....

Well, Friday was so much better than I expected, even though it was my 7am start at work. I was told the young had presents planned for later but there were cards and a huge bunch of lilies, (often wonder if I have a BVM complex my love of lilies is so great) Work was ok - other than my boss asking me, as she returned my annual evaluation, if I felt fulfilled there, and had I looked at something that might stretch me ? "not that I want you to leave, no, it's not that at all, no" which did get the paranoia sensors on red alert !

After work I met some friends and we drank coffee and giggled ( an underrated pastime I think) before ambling home to see what had happened in my absence. Both of the offspring are now at home, busy turning time backwards and living nocturnal lives - any activity seems to take place over my bedroom at 3am, one WIIfitting, the other testing computer games with the sound off but so loud the floor shakes. It's killing aliens that does it apparently.
During the night they seem to generate mounds of washing and use innumerable cereal bowls (11 on the draining board just now) and it all rather reminds me of the household Nurse Matilda went to, prior to her arrival.
I decided that it was not worth recriminations and smiled sweetly as I was given a can of gin and tonic flavoured with pink grapefruit, a box of Turkish Delight and the mysterious promise of a surprise tomorrow.........

In the evening a crowd of us went to see "The Boat that Rocked", not in any way cerebral but great fun and the inestimable Bill Nighy on top form, lots of potential singalonga too, so suspect I may treat myself to the soundtrack. Finally on for a drink after the inevitable "well I don't mind", "what about you?", "does anyone want to eat ?", "oh, no, don't go there on a Friday" conversations (every pub, bar and purveyor of alcoholic beverages was packed, couldn't have done falling down drunk even if I had wanted too) I did feel slightly hazy after a pint of Speckled Hen, a half of Riggwelter, and 2 Alabama Slammers. This comes with the warning "Do as I say, not as I do"
All in all, a much better day than last year, and many thanks to all of you for your best wishes !

Thursday, 2 April 2009


for the previous grumpiness, one chocolate brownie on and almost all is right with the world (note to self, ring Brown and Obama with this info )
Anyway, I decided to do a post on something that makes me truly happy, still makes me smile just thinking about it and will be with me for the rest of my life. No I haven't gone soppy in my old age, I'm not talking about my children. (They will be gone soon)

I love Pre-Raphaelite art. Discovering Rossettis' decadent women in my early teens, when their anguish and melodrama fitted perfectly with my own sturm und drang, whilst Burne Jones interpretations of myths and legends fulfilled teenage romanticism. So, I went on to do a degree in Art History. The PRB were lush, sensual and their pictures tell stories. The colours sing off the canvas and the details are exquisite. It is a style that is very English, with landscapes we understand and gossip to revel in.

Go and read about what happened to Rossettis' poems, Millais problem with hirsute ladies, relationship triangles, drama, scandal and opprobrium, it is the very best of "Mistresses", rom-com and "Desperate Housewives" with added opulence !

Best of all, have you seen how many are red heads ?!

Advice please...

OK, it's my birthday tomorrow and I'm going to be 51, except last year was so appalling, for many reasons, I thought I would have my 50th again this year, sort of second try, buuuuuut, actually I'm not that keen on the real world knowing at all and so it is not having any publicity.

However, I will be quite upset if people (eg the offspring) forget. Answers on a post-card please

ps. I know this reads very "little miss contrariwise" but I'm feeling old, crotchety and raging with PMT

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Dear Father Christmas.....

or birthday fairy, or whoever it is that listens to the breathy little list that gets chanted, like a mantra, around this time of year
"I have been very good this year and if you need hints for my birthday I can think of a couple of things that might help if you are stuck for ideas."

Please note this is a hideously acquisitive collection, as I firmly believe that if something is "useful" I can always justify buying it myself (hence no books, or anything, ever, for the kitchen)

Started gently here, as not ridiculously expensive, and almost useful. Note - must be black
The lovely Mr Munro - bling-ish, sparkly, pretty and perfect for Summer.

OK, getting silly now, but I do love it. Never thought I could become a handbag person, but then I met Furla

Because every woman wants to wear birds on her head ?

Some good taste to counteract the previous item.

And finally........ the ultimate paper cup.... I love it !

I did go to the Tiffany site too, and left, swiftly, whimpering and I suspect there were many other things my greedy little mind had registered, going "mine, mine", but when it comes down to it, I will be happy if they remember..........

Oh, huge excitement, Mr Amazon has just been and my present to me "Backwards in High Heels" (see, I said books could always be justified) has arrived. It is wonderful, it even feels nice and I can't wait to read it. Thank you, in advance to !