Sunday, October 30, 2005

I don't know why I spend so many Friday nights collapsed on the sofa, believing myself to be exhausted from the demands of the week and preparing myself for the excesses ( currently consisting mainly of divine chocolate pud and more sofa-sitting) of the dawning weekend. Sophie showed me how easy it is to spend the evening sitting on uncomfortable chairs in a draughty village hall watching the creme of the local am dram group massacre a loosely-described comedy.

It was very well organised, almost militarily, we were shown to our seats, Sophie and I placed quite near the front on account of us both being rather short. It's a good job we hadn't taken someone like Jill with us, she's 6' 2" in her stockinged feet, and would never have been allowed to sit with us. It's an odd crowd that seems to frequent such places, invariably with incredibly unusual hair-dos that looked as if they had been borrowed from the props department of a 1970s sitcom. In fact I found the entire audience far more compelling watching than anything the small cast did on stage.

I had a reunion with one of my oldest friends from Infants yesterday. She lives in France now and I hadn't seen her for over 10 years. She'd called out of the blue last week. It was great to catch up, she hadn't changed save for her fluent French and rather wholesome demeanour. Her sister's still a Barbie doll though apparently so I'm reassured that some things never change.

Ali and Mrs Roger came over for a girlie dinner last night ( chocolate pud excuse no.28). It was really nice to get together again but it was not like old times. We were all falling asleep by about midnight ( apart from Mrs Roger who lives in a completely different timezone to the rest of the northern hemisphere) and drank more water than wine.

And today we finally managed to win a game - 56-0 against a bunch of Junior school kids by all accounts - still it's the winning that counts in rugby, not the taking apart.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

I've not exactly had an action-packed weekend but this is the first chance I've had to sit down and take the not-inconsiderable weight off my feet ( note to self, you do not have to cook that delicious chocolate creation every weekend regardless whether or not you have friends over).

I went on another fungi foray yesterday morning. I really should have gone into the office but then I get 50-odd chances a year to do that - the fungus season is very short. This weekend's group was much more my level, when presented with oddly formed mycological specimens, the guide was often heard to muse " hmm - not sure about that one, but I'd recommend you don't eat it!" Sadly he didn't recommend any we could eat so I had to call into the local farm shop on the way home and pick up some dinner-plate field mushrooms to fool Jack into thinking it had been worthwhile.

I was all set to dash back home, happily soggy from my stroll around the woods when I got a text message from Nigel saying he couldn't make dinner. That meant I had a few more hours so I went for my weekly constitutional around Tesco, planned on dropping the shopping off before paying a guilt trip to the office when Lisa rang on the Batphone and I was donning my super-hero waitress garb and heading out to control restaurant-goers and fillet steak. I used to think nothing of doing 12 hour shifts in my teens but even in flat shoes ( ok - flattish wedges) the aches soon start.

This morning was another elongated local derby game while we waited for yet another ambulance. That is becoming a disconcertingly common feature of our lads' matches these days. Big Nick had sprained his ankle falling off Little Luke's leg. Little Luke is now on crutches and may never walk the same again ( nor will the lovely Nige who piggy-backed Big Nick back to the changing rooms). At least we were only injuring our own players. The other team faired even worse when one of their team was brought down with a dislocated hip by one of his fellow players. We still lost.

I have spent the afternoon trying to instill discipline in my utility room. I had such strong resolve not to let the flipping ironing get on top of me again but it did on more than one occasion as I tried to sort out the festering piles. I suddenly realised the lessons in amateur fungi identification might not have been such a good idea. Ignorance is bliss when you open a rugby kit bag that has lain in the boot of the car for 3 weeks! But at least I knew the Latin names for some of the slimy growths and could use them in my lecture to Jack about home management.

Friday, October 21, 2005

I am on the brink of a career change. I have finally found my true calling. I AM the next Fern Britton.

I discovered my hidden presenting talents last night when helping the Transfer team of our local housing association make an information video. I was quite nervous while I waited an hour and a half for them to finish filming one of my fellow Shadow-Board members and my tummy had started doing somersaults by the time I eventually found myself in front of the camera being interviewed by Len from Emmerdale! ( that's something you don't get to type very often). I was worried its growling would be picked up by the sound guy. I couldn't have predicted the positive response I received from them. Better than Richard Madeley apparently ( although I did get the impression that's not a particularly high benchmark) . I've been advised to get myself an agent.

Always alert to every opportunity, I did ask Len (aka Peter Martin) if he could get me dinner for two at the Woolpack as a raffle prize for my upcoming charity ball. He didn't seem too confident but he has promised to try and get me something signed by the cast ( it was the only way I could tempt Richard to come to the Ball with me).

And I'm not quite sure of the copyright affecting this dvd. If I can't burn enough discs to put inside every christmas card to my friends, I might have to hire a local cinema for a private premiere.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Well my bobble hat may not have had an airing but my walking boots certainly came in handy after all.

My maiden foray with the local Naturalists Union was certainly an experience. Not quite what I had envisaged but enjoyable nonetheless. Perfect autunmnal day, sunny, warm with just a faint haze, beautiful secluded setting miles from any sort of intrusion, beards galore, huge ones that could never be found in the Letts Pocket Guide to Beards, you'd need a serious MacMillan book to identify one of those and even then you might have to send a digital picture to a learned Professor Emeritus Hirsuteus to get a qualified answer but for most of us they would come under the heading of"Weirdie-Beardies". And I'm including the few women that were present.

That said, I did witness the first official recording of Crawlius-Creepius-Rigidus-Boringdum Shield Beetle in the County EVER!!! Spreading from the West apparently, let's hope they meet bird-flu before it meets us.

I think perhaps I am not cut-out for wanders through the countryside with the County Recorders. I found one interestingly colourful glob on a fallen branch and made the mistake of asking what it might be, to discover that in fact I had uncovered a veritable treasurechest of fungi, none of which I had noticed and may well form the basis of the next 6 hourly talks on the Fungi of Middle England. I was happy to lug the decaying log back to basecamp but stopped at the first Little Chef to wash my hands and ring Jack to make sure he wasn't planning on Mushroom Risotto for tea.

The people were lovely, don't get me wrong. Incredibly friendly, welcoming and given that most of them had or were on the waiting list for, hip replacements, very easy to keep up with practically, if not mentally but not quite as dumbed down as I would like - see that ugly, foul-smelling growth there, delicious! those cute clusters of honey-smelling boleti, evil, look for brown-ridges for clues of edibility. None of that happened. It was all Latin names and the only bit of popular lore was when Colin ( Visagium Beardus Maximus) explained that the Ink Horn thingy was used by lawyers to pen their documents and even today forgeries are proven by their lack of spores.

I'm going to try the local Wildlife Trust next. I'm hoping they might just about bridge the gap that I find myself in, slightly more interested than the average bear but not so obsessed that they insist you carry specimen bottles about with you.

If that fails, it might be the local Naturists Society, slightly more Bare than the average fungus forager.

Friday, October 14, 2005

My calendar says it's Thursday. My diary says it's Thursday. The newspaper would seem to confirm it and so did Peter Levy on the six o'clock news. So why has everyone else I have been in contact with today behaved as if it were Friday the Frigging Thirteenth?

First of all I get a secretary in an extreme state of distress apparently over the training for the new IT system. I know the real and very personal reason for her emotional state but am sworn to secrecy and cannot appear too sympathetic lest the others notice and wonder at the sudden softening of my salty knickers bitch troll personality.

Then a colleague calls, equally distressed and between sobs I discover that another bitchtroll, much more experienced and convincing than I could even aspire to, had reduced her to a quivering wreck. That sorted I get clients who hadn't noticed they would be slightly short on their purchase price - by about 10 Grand! Few deftly placed calls and a lot of musac-enduring later and they leave happy and reassured if a little worse off every month.

That's when it really starts to go crazy. Chaos at the rugby club. Rumours start flying about, hypotheses forming. We are apparently without coaches or a manager. A crisis meeting is called. Jack goes, incredibly anxious, and returns even more so having been told almost nothing. I meanwhile, speak to a couple of people, including said manager and one of the coaches and the culmination is that my weekend of welly-wearing in North Yorkshire is to be cancelled so I can represent the UN at the Peace Talks on Sunday morning. A seemingly selfless act until you factor in my vested interest in keeping my son and his team in existence.

And I'd ironed my combat trousers, dusted off my wellies and defuzzed my bobble hat especially. Oh well! Chopping down trees will have to wait for another weekend. We have mountains to move and that's before we even think about getting people to shift their perspectives.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

At most parties it is the kids that are banished outside while the parents enjoy the comfy delights of the sofas. Not so at my house on Friday night. The boys ( I use this term somewhat loosely as most of them were taller than the few dads who had come along and certainly could have grown more impressive beards overnight) all sat around the lounge playing games on the console, teaching their Aussie guests a few favourite folk songs ( Alouette being amongst them) and administering large quantities of lager, while we all sat out the back in the conservatory.

Fortunately I have incredibly understanding neighbours who didn't mind the fact that Teenage Kicks could be heard over quarter of a mile away. Well, it's not like I do it every weekend after all ( I'm already planning my Christmas Bash so I might have to extend the invitation to them next time).

The weekend was brilliant. Our guests loved the cultural activites we had laid on for them besides the beer and curry night at mine which had kicked off the proceedings - paintballing, football ( we lost but I don't think they noticed) and bowling. St Paul's Manly, North Sydney thrashed us spectacularly on Sunday but it was all so well executed and the sun was shining so no-one seemed to mind. Martian did a sterling job with the reffing but dashed off home to inspect his lawn for sabotage, trim his hedge and find things to paint ( if I didn't know any better, I'd think he had a nesting instinct) so he missed the awesome Colts game and the chance to see one or two future Australian Internationals in the making ( One to Watch Out for: Selesi Manu)

A white van man had clipped my wing mirror on Friday night causing it to shatter. I didn't think too much more about it what with all the hosting over the weekend. I didn't give too much thought to the apparent seepage coming from under the manhole in my backyard either but mentioned it in passing to my Dad on Monday morning. A brief inspection last night revealed the full extent of the damage to my drains. Fortunately Dad has his own rods. It's a long time since he's had to use all 32 to unblock a drain ( it was solid right up to the road).

This morning my boiler decided to pack up leaving Jack unable to shower and me unable to wash my minging hair either. I called Dad, rushed into the hairdressers' on the way to work for an emergency blow-dry and hoped to goodness that it's true what they say about things coming in Threes.

Tonight my heating appears to be working, my sink is emptying and my fingers are staying crossed.