Thursday, August 31, 2017

one of those nights

Did you ever have one of those nights where you go to bed tired and at a reasonable hour and you wake up at 1.30 a.m. after disturbing dreams and go to the loo and then you can't get back to sleep because your brain won't stop flitting about so you listen to an episode of Book of the Week on iPlayer and then another and another because it's so good and then you go to the loo again and try to go back to sleep and can't, and you spend the rest of the night in alternating bouts of dreadful dreams and trips to the loo and when you finally open your eyes to see the pale morning light of 6.25 creeping round the blinds and feel like death and need more sleep you decide to wake up because you can't stand any more appalling dreams. I just had one of those nights. It was hateful.

I have wondered about having a blog post on pet hates but have felt uncomfortable about it because this is my profile on Twitter:

But now I've started with last night, I will just tell you a couple of other things. I hate seeing people wasting champagne by making it fizz and squirting it. I hate it at any time, but I particularly hate seeing those lottery ads where they do it. I love champagne. If they don't want to drink it they should send it round here.

I hate those flowers called red hot pokers. 

I hate going in a cafe and seeing an amazing cake and persuading myself I can afford the calories and having a slice and finding it is dry and that the icing isn't butter icing and that my home made cakes are so much nicer.

I hate the grammatical construction that I think came over from the USA and which is now so embedded in UK usage that even the best journalists use it - the use of "like" instead of "as if."

e.g. "He was jumping up and down on the thing like he wanted to break it."
instead of
"He was jumping up and down on the thing as if he wanted to break it."

But the one I hate most is the use of "literally" as an intensifier, so that when I said to someone recently that I literally fell over, the person did not grasp that what I said had actually happened. 

I have other pet hates. They are written on a tiny pink post-it which is somewhere on my desk for just such a blog post as this, but I can't find it so I am going to stop with the hate. I'm sure that after a third mug of sugared tea I'll feel better.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Start of the new term

Hello! It's time to get back to the blog, and to work. 

I just had the loveliest long weekend staying near Liverpool with some new friends - the parents of the fiancée of the family member who declines to be named. I'm wondering if when Jaine and mystery man get married next summer I'll be showing you half of each of the wedding pictures so he doesn't appear - just Jaine and the bridesmaids (two of which you'll recognise, incidentally.)


On Saturday Jaine's parents kindly took me to see Liverpool, a place I haven't visited since my first term at Uni (1968). Imagine being old enough to say you haven't been somewhere for 49 years. And how weird, anyway...we live just 2 hours drive away from Liverpool. If I'd known what an interesting, funky and impressive place it is, I wouldn't have left it that long. I could definitely get attached to the place. 

Here is the Liver building with the Liver birds on top, one looking out to sea and one looking inland to see if the pubs are open. The clock face is larger than the clock face of Big Ben.

I liked spotting the Liver Birds from places all over the city.

It was hot and sunny so we didn't spend time in the museums. We walked around and looked at the grand buildings, and other places I'd gleaned from a list in a super guide book, which omitted the most obvious attractions, because you'd be going there anyway  e.g. the two cathedrals. 

This is the Anglican one..

The pink neon writing is by Tracey Emin. It says 'I felt you and I know you loved me.'  The panoramic views from the top of the tower were stupendous. We could see Snowdonia, the Peak District and where the Lake District should be, though it was shrouded in clouds.

But I liked the modernist Catholic cathedral best. It was beautiful and peaceful and on a human scale. This view of the roof is the best of a poor bunch of photos:

On Sunday we went to Another Place, where there are 100 life sized iron men spread out on a 2 mile stretch along Crosby Beach. They were made by Antony Gormley. 

I am still thinking about this installation. I can't decide if I like it or not. And I am also puzzled as to why Gormley always uses himself as a model. Is it because he is narcissistic, or because having a cast made of your body is such an unpleasant thing to do that he doesn't want to ask someone else to go through it? 

Then we went to Formby beach and walked through the pinewoods where there are a lot of red squirrels.

This beautiful photo of sand and sky was taken by Jaine's mother.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

It's a fine thing

It's a fine thing to have a sister. It's even finer to have one who cares about you and puts sweet peas in your bedroom and cooks you roast lamb and fish pie and who has a summerhouse where you can sit and write, and a kitchen where the afternoon sun shines through the stable door 

and onto the wall

as you talk about everything and nothing, and then slope through to the sitting room to watch Neighbours. I am enjoying this convalescence lark.

Saturday, August 19, 2017


I'm sorry I've been absent. When I've not been busy, I've been ill. I'm currently resting and recovering for the third time this month. I'll be blogging again when I can.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


It's good to be well again. Antibiotics are wonderful, even if reading the list of possible side effects sends you witless, and you have to forego your one glass of wine a day at teatime* because alcohol is not allowed. 

I had a great idea for a blog post on Tuesday morning but Dave was out for the day and I put it on one side to write the novel instead. Guess what? I wrote for 5 hours and produced 3000 words. It was amazing. Dave came home and laughed and said maybe I'd open my laptop the next day and find everything I'd written was drug-induced gibberish. Also he said it was like the scene in The Mighty Wind when Mitch gets his Mojo back and starts writing at 200 words per minute.

Fortunately the words weren't gibberish. They were a pretty good shitty first draft (that's a technical term used by writers.) You know I said I am writing this book in a different way from all the others? Usually I plan the whole thing out and this time I am flying by the seat of my pants.

Well, I've got to the stage now where I have to decide how it ends - happy or sad. It's a momentous decision. I have never before made an ending sad. Comments welcome. Hey, maybe I'd stand a better chance of having a best seller if it was sad - you know how darkness rules these days...

* Teatime -
When I was in the States I had an interesting conversation about tea and teatime. A native I was talking to was puzzled by the double use of the word - tea meaning the drink and tea meaning the meal. Then we got onto the fact that there is afternoon tea and high tea, and then I explained that people in the midlands and north don't have dinner in the evening, they have tea, and that a relation in the south calls her evening meal supper. By the end of the conversation, the American was more bamboozled than enlightened, and I hadn't even explained that in our house at midday the terms lunch and dinner are interchangable.

I have other stuff to say about all kinds of things, but it's time to go to my sax lesson.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Afternoon drama

I'm not well at the moment and I'm doing a lot of lying in bed listening to the radio, and this afternoon I heard for the second time a radio play that was so moving it made me cry. It was on BBC Radio 4 and you can listen to it on BBC iPlayer if you're interested - wherever you are in the world (I believe.) It's called Frank and the Bear.

And on another tack, because I am bereft of things to say.... here's a photo of our crocosmia lucifer in the evening sunshine last week.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Birthday girl

I've checked, and it's over six weeks since I put anything on the blog about Lux and Cece, so I feel entitled.

This was Lux the first time I visited and saw her in the flesh. She was eight weeks old and the family lived in San Francisco then.

Last weekend she was 7. She wanted a purple and green skateboard for her birthday:

And here is a recent picture of Cece and Lux out on the town in Boulder. Can't you just imagine them in 10 years time?

I miss them.

That's all, folks, because it's raining and I have an empty house for the day and I'm going to write.