Saturday, April 29, 2006

There's not Mushroom in here?

I'm not renowned for being the most particular of house-keepers. I spend much of my time at or travelling to or from work, I'm involved in a few community-type organisations, and I have an exclusive contract to provide a personal, responsive chauffeur service to my son. The fact that I would still be a slovenly slut even if I had all the time in the world at home, is neither here nor there.

I usually try and tidy up at a weekend, unless I can find something more interesting to do, and now that Jack's social life is accelerating in direct correlation to the demise of my own, I often have a reasonably willing but barely able helper ( he's the only person I know who can precision hoover around crumbs and considers anything more complex than a mug and plate to be too much of a challenge to wash).

He'd run out of hair gel ( he has a tube-a-week habit to support) and wanted a lift into town this afternoon to watch some of his mates performing in Church Square so he actually got the Marigolds out without being asked,reminded, prompted a third time and eventually yelled at, hoping to extort a few extra quid out of me and speed up the time it took for me to be ready to leave the house.

I wandered into The Shed to check on the tomato plants whilst chatting to Rachel on the phone ( Rachel has an immaculate house where even the understatedly, contrastingly-coloured cobwebs are perfectly-perpendicular to the walls). It's usually dark when I go into The Shed, and I tend to use Granny's old standard lamp to read by, so rarely put the overhead lights or the halogen spots on.

That must be why I hadn't noticed THIS ............

It's growing up between the laminate floor and the door into the garage. I called my Dad to come and get rid of it. And then promptly ordered Jack to stand down from sink duty, fetch his jacket and rendez-vous at the car at the double. What I can't see, I won't worry about all day.

Friday, April 28, 2006


I struggle to get out of bed on an ordinary work day, greedily grabbing as many extra few seconds under the duvet as possible, extending an arm to hit the Snooze button half a dozen times and only succumbing to the inevitable when I am in danger of losing bladder control or my job.

Contrarily, at weekends, or on a rare day off, such as this morning, I am often up with the lark. I'm sure there could be some deep psychological explanation for this, but I suspect it simply has much to do with the fact that I sit up too late reading and then can't fall asleep for worrying about what I've got to do the next day.

It was quite uncharacteristic of me to arrive in Leeds, then, a good 45 minutes early for my meeting. Did I say meeting? I meant to say audition. Audition? It was more like a flipping exam. Most people use their holiday entitlement carefully, wisely; there may be sun, sand or even sex involved. Me! I try to get on "Countdown"!

I am not a huge devotee. I have worked full-time for the last 18
years and can honestly say I have not seen a single episode in that time. I suppose I could have had a bit of a thing for the late great Richard Whiteley, Mayor of Wetwang, but then I seem to have a thing about older men full-stop. I am definitely not a fan of Slimey Lynam or Carole Vordetoxerman and I have no idea how the numbers round works.

It was pitiful. I shuffled into a room with half a dozen geriatrics and a spotty Maths student from Doncaster. It was only once I was seated, staring at a blank piece of paper, cruelly parodying the blankness in my mind, that I remembered I hadn't had a cup of coffee. I struggle to cope with basic motor functions until I've had at least 2 enormous mugs so I wasn't optimistic. I managed to find "FARTED" in T E F I D A R I L ( Can you spot the 9-letter word?*) which then spurred me on to get a winning 9-letter from D D E E S P I S N*. I was hopeless at the number rounds, whilst Einstein Adam to my left got each one with about 20 seconds to spare each time. I did get the first conundrum, GINGER VAN* but it was downhill from there.

I'd be amazed if I get through with such a feeble effort. The only thing in my favour is that I am unlikely to be admitted to permanent residential care before they start filming the next series.

I was on my way home by midday and didn't have a clue how to fill the rest of the day. I bought a spade and edger from Wickes with the intention of creating some decent sized borders. I couldn't really be arsed with gardening once I got home. Besides, if I did it all today, what would I have to do for the rest of the weekend? I can't afford to let myself grow idle, it's that type of thing that leads me to apply to crappy television shows in the first place. Finish all my chores too soon and I'd be trying to get on Fifteen-To-One next.

So I went to look for a bittern. I only ever get chance to visit these places at weekends and assumed that the hides were always full of tweedy twitchers with their phallic scopes. Today I had the place to myself. It was just me, Mr & Mrs Shoveller, Ruddy the Duck, and a pair of cormorants ( he had a broken wing). Not a beard in sight, unless you count the Bearded Tit I watched darting about the reed beds.

I took my new camera, thinking I might try some arty-farty wildlife shots.

It's harder than it looks.

David Bailey, Mike Da Hat and Mark Gamon have nothing to fear from me.

And then my batteries ran out so I headed back to the car, amazed to discover I'd lost almost 5 hours. I didn't see a bittern but I'm almost certain I heard one boom. Once. Ba da Ba da Ba daa de BOOOM!


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Survival Techniques

" I had home-made lasagne for tea last night. It's my favourite and my Mum always makes it for me on a Tuesday after I've had PE. She minces the meat herself from prime hand-fed steak because she doesn't trust the supermarkets" remarks Wallsy, as he takes his lovingly-wrapped home-baked flapjack out of his bag during morning break.

" Tuesday's are always fish & chip night at our house" quips Brainy, " Mum butters loads of fresh bread and makes a big pot of tea as soon as I get in from school 'cos she knows I'm always starving. Last night, she'd made a trifle with cherries and hundreds-and-thousands on the top too because she hadn't made us a pudding on Monday night before she'd gone out to work a double-shift at the hospital. She says she can't concentrate on the heart transplants properly if she's worrying about our empty stomachs. Anyone want a chocolate-crispie cake? Mum always puts far too many in my tuck box."

" No thanks, mate. I've got some cold beef and horseradish sandwiches. There was loads leftover from the roast we had last night. Mum does a proper roast dinner every night as soon as she gets back from the Cabinet Office. She's always done that but she's adding in all sorts of extras at the minute, like sausages wrapped in bacon and stuffing balls, plus a steamed sponge and custard 'cos she says I need the extra vitamins and energy for brain power, being this close to exams. There's too much here for me, if truth be told"observes Duffy " Don't suppose you want any, do you, Jack? There's no smoked salmon or caviar, I'm afraid"

Jack had been trying to look inconspicuous as he stood with the other prefects on corridor duty. He didn't want to get involved in their conversation, just listening to them was making his mouth water and his tummy grumble, but he didn't want to draw attention to that fact by deliberately moving away or appearing too eager to scavenge for scraps. He had a certain position to maintain as Head Boy after all. Everyone knew his Mum was an important lawyer in some hot-shot city firm over the river and was somehow involved in that new Housing thingy that had been in the papers recently. He'd once ( or twice) bragged about how she'd eaten at Blingteringham Fields, something which only rock stars and world leaders are known to do. They'd laugh if they knew the truth. He'd never be able to hold his head up in a scrum again.

" I've just remembered, I've got to see Mrs B, the School Manager, about some really important Head Boy business. I'll catch up with you all at lessons. Wallsy, don't be letting those Year 7 lasses inside even if they do just want your autograph after that gig at Cre8 the other night"

5 minutes later, Jack knocks quietly on the School Manager's office door,

" Grandma, can you lend me some money for lunch, please? Mum didn't get back from work 'til late last night and all she brought in for tea were some curled up sandwiches and a couple of mini sausage rolls left over from her meeting. I'm starving. She hadn't had time to go to the bank either so she didn't have any money in her purse for today. Thanks, Grandma. Ooh. Can I have one of those biscuits left over from the senior management meeting to eat on the way to class too?"

Monday, April 24, 2006

On this Day in History

  • The Greeks entered Troy in a Trojan Horse without which we would never have got to see Brad in a leather skirt
  • The Easter Uprising began in Ireland
  • IBM introduced its first PC
  • Anthony Trollope, Shirley Maclaine, Barbra Streisand and Paula Yates were born
  • Daniel Defoe, Wallis Simpson and Estee Lauder died
  • One woman bought enough terracotta plant pots to destabilise the earth's tilt and her poor car's ageing suspension system, olive and bay trees, a deliciously-scented stephanotis and her own body weight in oriental, tiger and arum lillies, canadian poppy seeds and night-scented stocks

"Cherrypie, Happy Birthday. I thought I'd come over and clean those windows seeing as you said your last chap hasn't been back. I wore the water-proof leather apron and I've got my chamois tucked away real safe. It's sure good of you to hold the ladder steady and fill the bath with soapy water to save me bringing a bucket. You want me to call at the hardware store and bring a hammer and some twine. Sure thing, Cherry. xx"

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Hip Hip Hurry

I'd not been up long when Sophie's Mum rang to say they were on their way over to drop off some furniture I was adopting from them. Fortunately, I was dressed and had even cleaned my teeth but I had no make up on so I as good as felt naked. I didn't have time to worry about that though. The place was a tip. They would be horrified. Why hadn't I come home from work last night and washed the pots, sorted the laundry, hoovered up, wiped the smears off the mirrors, and hidden the empty wine bottles like any normal person? Oh! 'Cos I'd worked until almost 10pm to make up for the day off I'm having on Monday and then I'd just about had the energy to crawl onto the sofa, under my blanket and chat on the phone to Darbs for a few minutes before falling asleep in the Shed, waking at a little before 4am sufficient to drag myself up to bed.

There was a knock at the door almost immediately. They only live at the bottom of the hill but I doubted Sophie's Dad drives like Nigel Mansel ( Stirling Moss would be more likely given the era). It was the postman with a huge pile of letters and a couple of parcels. My sister is always really efficient at sending presents well on time for birthdays. That put paid to the emergency cleaning, which would have been a waste of time and effort 'cos my housekeeping credibility was already as good as dead.

They'd brought me a lovely Salix ( Pussy Willow) covered in catkins. It's gorgeous. I spent quite some time cooing over it and trying to find a suitable place in the postage stamp garden to plant it. I'm hoping that might have deflected the attention away from the scuzzy state of the house. No sooner had they gone ( off to the municipal tip, no doubt for a bit of cleansing therapy in comparison to my kitchen) than I was out to pick Jack up. He'd not slept in the woods but he and his mates had been running around them the previous evening and he'd crashed at Drew's with Alasdair. I had to get him to the rugby club to wait tables at the pre-match lunch. Then straight home, quick swill under the shower, aimed the hairdryer in the general direction of my head and then off to the sponsors' box to watch Dull RUFC beat Huddersfield with a resounding 64-40 score.

Uncharacteristically, I didn't stick around long enough to see the Man of the Match trophy presented ( or rather to ogle the Thighs on the Man of the Match) as I had agreed months ago to work behind the bar at the football club. There was an Abba Tribute band playing. I couldn't for the life of me think what had possessed me to agree to work. I must have been in a particularly self-loathing mood that night.

My phone rang halfway home. I could see from the screen that it was the manager from the football club ringing. It ran out of charge just as I succeeded in getting it out of my handbag in the passenger footwell as I took a roundabout rather sharply ( I'd never have reached it otherwise). I thought he must want me to go in early so I drove straight there, thinking I could always pop up home for my honorary Fruit of The Loom "Staff" polo shirt later.

Seems somehow he'd got the idea it was my birthday ( ok - maybe I gave him that idea when I'd phoned him yesterday afternoon trying to weedle out of the shift, and it's the nearest Saturday so it's not too big a fib), they hadn't sold as many tickets as they'd hoped ( it's a Tribute Band, ffs - Duh!) and I got the night off. Woo Hoo!

Quick call to Rachel, another to Debbie and I was on my way to a curry night at the golf club where I witnessed the wonder that is modern-day hip replacement surgery. Boy! can those old codgers go. Our table brought the mean age down by a good 15 years ( and the next youngest on that was at least 10 years older than me).

I now have less than 24 hours to live out the last of my youth. Should I go clubbing? Find a Rave? Drop some Es? Maybe I'll just go to the garden centre to buy a spade. To bury the Salix. I think 35 is the new 19.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Tag! You're It!

Diane has tagged me. I must list six random things about myself, and then tag six more people. She has instructed me to "First post your six things, then you go to six other blogs and let them know they are tagged and to find the details on your blog."

I'm not sure there are 6 random things worth knowing about me but I'll have a go...

  1. I once wrote a poem for the Queen. I got a polite letter back from Buckingham Palace. I was 7
  2. I hit a lamppost on my first driving test, a fact which has caused many a mirthful moment amongst my friends over the years, knowing what a control-freak perfectionist I am. It is only now that I can appreciate the funny side of it.
  3. My Mum dumped Kevin Keegan for my Dad. ( Ok. So that's not strictly about me but I might never have been born if she'd stuck with the permed one).
  4. I am double-jointed.
  5. I thought for years that I had 2 different coloured nipples. It was only when I moved into a house that didn't have all its mirrors sideways on to windows, that I discovered it was just a shadow.
  6. Roland Gift touched my swollen tummy when I was 7 months pregnant during the balcony scene of Romeo & Juliet.

So, Now I've got to infect 6 other poor victims. Ok!

Seany, Pete, Brian, Melora, Mike Da Hat ( he was my first ever commenter, which really freaked me at the time) and Cream.............

Na Na Na Na Na

You're It if you want to play xx

What's in a Name?

I wrote the obligatory list of names before my Chief Bank-Balance Drain was born, just like everybody else. I liked Cicely for a girl and Jake for a boy. I did have others on the list, Dulcie, for example, named after one of my favourite old Valkyrie Great Aunts ( not the RE teacher who used to spend a large part of every lesson beating Darbster up with a board rubber), and Darius, not a terribly popular choice now thanks to a handsome daft Scottish wannabe, but an historical figure and also the name of a particularly handsome notorious toff from the '80s who got himself in the papers for insurance fraud ( I now have a cat named after him, jet black, gorgeous, much more affectionate and far less irritating).

The Nurse asked me what I was going to call him as she put him on my tummy seconds after he was born. There was no way I could have rationally come up with something right then. I was too busy worrying about how I was going to explain his colour away ( it soon became clear that he was that funny dark colour because of the trauma he'd experienced throughout the previous 18 hours and was not the result of me getting my dates hopelessly and evidently wrong - phew!)

Mum was helpful. She asked me what I thought he looked like - " Newt" was my first and to be honest, only reaction. She wouldn't allow me to call him that so he got ticketed with Jake for the first night of his life.

The following morning, up in the Special Baby Care Unit ( he was little and jittery) I had a bit more time to ponder and stare at him and so he got dubbed with Jack which seemed to fit him much better. Honest. Unapologetic. Straightforward. Easy to Spell. And my Grandad's nickname to boot, which was a happy coincidence. He also had my Grandad's middle name which was always going to be the case. Bit of a family tradition for a first born boy.

It was only some years later that I truly appreciated the force that the name your parents' choose can have upon you. It was right when I reached the heady heights of having my own office with a nameplate on the door.

My Mum and Dad had spent ages checking out our initials didn't spell anything rude ( neither my sister nor I have middle names). They were careful to choose names that couldn't easily be shortened. I was going to be "Sherry" after the Four Seasons song from which my name was subsequently derived, and thence from which my childhood nickname became my current cybername. They were confident they had labelled us free from ridicule or harm.

I've previously mentioned that my surname is Leaning. My initial is "C". I have never married.

Imagine yourself sitting at your desk, minding your own business whilst you work late in an almost empty office. You hear the sound of the vacuum cleaner growing louder as the cleaner works her way closer to your room and then with the punctuality of the 18.15 from Hull, she peeps her permed head round the door and advances her daily announcement,

" Oh! I don't have to do in here, do I!"

I endured it for 7 years before moving to an open plan office. My sister avoided similar derision ( her first name is spelt with a "K" but it is phonetically the same") by refusing to take a desk job.

On the few occasions that Jack has seriously misbehaved, I have foregone the traditional punishments of grounding, pocket-money stoppage or severe assault and battery, and instead flourished a carefully prepared Change Of Name Deed beneath his nose. The threat of forever after being known as Trumpy Pumfritt, begot of Miss Cleaning has been a satisfying deterrent.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easy Piesy

After weeks of careful study, frustrated sighs, a few head scratches and rather a lot of head banging I have at last succeeded in getting my pc to formally acknowledge the existence of my new camera. All it took were some well-placed, well-fed.............................. batteries!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Rock N' Rugby

I knew it was a bit of a backwater round here, hadn't really moved with the times. I hadn't realised it was soooo old though. 195 million years to be precise ( which is still quite young in geological terms, practically teenage).

I'm hooked. It helped that a good number of the slides and the areas of particular interest that our enthusiastic and awesomely-knowledgeable lecturer, John Aram chose to focus on were areas that have always been a close part of my life.

The chalk quarry which is just a few minute's walk over the brow of the hill above my childhood home. We used to play up on the Viking footpath and in the fields around it and listen out for the horn which preceded every blast. The conveyor belt still hums its lazy way down to the Cement Works at the bottom of the hill carrying 20000 millenial rock to be ground into the material which we all take for granted.

The cliff and pebbly beach where we spent our Swallows & Amazons summers building dams in the springs bursting from the chalk and skimming the smooth white flat stones across the river ( I once got mine to bounce twice. I was so chuffed).

The former ironstone workings which are just at the bottom of the hill which I look down onto from my bedroom window are a site of ammonites ( this is one which honestly truly came from less than half a mile from where I am sitting right now) and other fossils of the late jurassic and early cretaceous period of international significance. Who knew?!

I left the course energised, determined to get out straight away and make the next earth-shattering ( literally, I've been shown how to use a hammer) discovery, Mortoniceras Cherrypii. I ended up in the rugby club. We beat the French 46-8. Hah! I desisted from celebrating in the usual fashion. I do not want the hammering to be only in my head tomorrow.

Friday, April 14, 2006

That'll nearly teach me

I almost got stood up last night! Right after saying how irritatingly early he always is, Moustache Mark goes and FORGETS ( huh?!) that we'd arranged to go out. It had got to 8.05pm and I was beginning to wonder where he'd got to, Diane called to check we were still going out, so I rang him ( I know it's not in The Rules but I have absolutely no intention of MM ever being anything other than a mate who happens to be an electrician and very good at flat pack furniture). He was there in 15 minutes and we were sitting down to order within 20.

I suspect he'd been in the pub all Saturday afternoon when he rang and suggested going out. The way he kept calling me " Darling" and "Sweetheart" should have been a clue. I'm not the fluffy sort of girl that usually attracts such epithets. Having moaned about not particularly wanting to go out, once I'd scrubbed up a bit, put my new kitten heel mules on, and ironed a top, for goodness sake, I'd have been really p***ed off to spend yet another night with just my scatter cushions for company.

I stook to Diet Coke even though I didn't have to worry about driving. I didn't fancy starting the longest amount of time I'm likely to have off this year with a thick head. It paid off as I've broken the back of the laundry monster at last( there is finally less F and more Utility going on in there), stocked up on pack-up items for tomorrow, baked a sensational provencal fish pie ( traditional smoked haddock, cod loins and tiger prawns - some old bat beat me to the mussels at the fresh fish counter), dropped some books round for Sophie's sunny parents and picked up even more in return, delivered Easter Eggs to several good boys, mowed the lawn, weeded the beds and planted a couple of dozen pansies, violas and some heavenly-scented hyacinths and tulips for a bit of an instant boost.

I can now concentrate on enjoying the next 3 days free of guilt or fear of guests dropping in unexpectedly.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

TGI Easter

I was dreading today. 23 completions, some of which hadn't yet exchanged did not a quiet day at the office suggest. I was heartened on the journey to work by my first site of a housemartin - 3 in fact. I thought I'd seen one land on a telegraph wire on my way home last night but was going too fast to be certain.

Then as I drove over the Bridge ( which, incidentally, is going up on my flipping birthday just to rub salt into the wound), I spotted a familiar streak of orange. Amy was out on her what was probably her first voyage of the year in full sail. I really must get out on her again this year.

A pretty good start to the day.

All 23 matters went through smoothly and painfully without anyforceps or need for gas & air. ( One of the couples was a Portuguese Dad and a Brazilian-Japanese Mum. Imagine how beautiful that baby was!) I even had time to enjoy a leisurely lunch with Sophie and catch up on life sort of with Martian.

And now I have 4 whole days to fill, hopefully with something more wholesome than gin and tonic. It's starting at about 8 o'clock ( although he's always freakishly early which irritates Me, who is inevitably inherently late), dinner with Moustache Mark and a couple of rugby parents. I don't really want to go. I certainly won't be able to talk about books all night. They ain't the sort of folks that Do readin'. But I'm greedy and like to pretend I'm popular. There's also a good chance there will be gin and tonic involved somewhere along the line.

I might scare Jack tomorrow by suggesting we go to a museum or gallery. When the wailing stops, I'll drop him off at his mate's and then weed the garden.

I'm really really excited by Saturday. I have found a new venue where I can come out of the closet and wear my beard with pride. I'm booked on a geology course to learn all about the bedrock of my surrounding area. I'm bound to pick up all sorts of useless information to torture Jack with on long car journeys.

Sunday I shall do something with Clare. I exchanged contracts on her first house today so she'll be in a jolly mood.

All of which brings us back to Monday and our regular bi-monthly comedy outing. Only this time we'll be part of the management. Jon, the endearingly inept promoter, has asked me and Darbster to run the door for him. We can't wait. Jack is going to help too. We just have to find ourselves some walkie-talkies, watch some vintage Max & Paddy for tips on posture and we'll be all set.

Actually, Moustache Mark used to be a bouncer. That's my first topic of conversation sorted!!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Jack and the Cherrystalk

Coming home from work, or a late meeting in tonight's case, when Jack is on school holiday is a bit like stepping into a fairy tale.

Firstly, there's usually a key left in the lock or something stuck behind the door, meaning it takes 3 attempts, just like the Big Bad Wolf, to get into the house. Once I am in, I find a trail of discarded clothes, trainers, sweet wrappers, apple cores, bread crusts, empty glasses and suchlike running from room to room forming a very clear Hansel & Gretelesque map of his route, it's very very well worn from the sofa to the fridge, not so apparent to the sink or washing machine.

Depending on the torrent of his teenage hormones, I might be met with any one of the Seven Dwarves, but usually it'll be Sleepy, Grumpy or Dopey. Bashful sometimes puts in an appearance if I unexpectedly bring a friend with me and he's just stripped down to his boxer shorts*. Happy only ever greets me if I've come via the take-away or the cash point ( although he did hang about for a few days last week when Emma Watson/ Hermione in Harry Potter sent him a signed photo). I'm currently getting enough of Sneezy at the office and hoping he doesn't follow me home.

Upstairs, it's much the same. I've got a bad habit of washing my hair in the shower in the morning and then dashing straight off to work without rinsing it out. Jack always drapes the long rope of my hair pulled out the plughole over the edge of the bath, Rapunzel-like.

More often than not, there's just Sleeping Beauty laying in state on the sofa, oblivious to the sound of ringing phones, running taps, trapped cats and every radio or telly in the house turned on and tuned to a different channel, awoken only by the magical smell of pizza or a message alert from one of any friends.

Did you ever feel like Cinderella? Only a Cinderella who looks more like an Ugly Sister who turned into a pumpkin, never gets to go to the Ball unless she is the one organising it ( yes! That's the true reason why I do it, forget all that philanthropic do-gooding charity nonsense) and who would probably meet Prince Charming the day after the country becomes a republic.

* Jack, not the friend, of course

Monday, April 10, 2006

A Book Worm

I was just hopping about, stealing Library links from Melora when I found this over at Andrea's. I wasn't going to post tonight but I can't resist books. My most profitable book to date is the second hand bible I bought from the scariest bookshop in the world ( think: a set from a Harry Potter movie). It cost me 8 quid a couple of years ago and is currently earning me about 100 pounds a month in swear fees.

Meme instructions: Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you've read, italicize the ones you might read, cross out the ones you won't, underline the ones on your book shelf*, and place parentheses around (or strike through) the ones you've never even heard of.

* I don't know how to underline on here and couldn't be bothered to paste it to a word document first so I changed the colour to red ( read, ha, geddit)

The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown Pixie Peter's Mum and Dad are extras in the film!
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger but not since school.
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams Never read or saw it but I know the answer
The Great Gatsby - F.Scott Fitzgerald-- another school one
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee Fabulous book
The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger Just read it last week.
His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman Truly sensational.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J. K. Rowling Well, you've got to haven't you
Life of Pi - Yann Martel. Brilliant. I suspect the idea came from sleeping on the top bunk in a National Trust Working Holiday dorm.Note to Self - pack earplugs next time
Animal Farm - George Orwell Should read it again really witha grown up's perspective
Catch -22 - Joseph Heller Yeah! I finally finished it
The Hobbit - J. R. R. Tolkien Both for myself ( twice) and to Jack ( once)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon Not as good as its hype
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen
1984 - George Orwell
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J. K. Rowling
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden. This changed Rachel's reading habits when I gave it to her.
(The Kite Runner) - Khaled Hosseini.
The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
(Slaughterhouse 5) - Kurt Vonnegut
The Secret History - Donna Tartt Lent it someone and never saw it again. Might replace it though
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis
(Middlesex) - Jeffrey Eugenides
(Cloud Atlas) - David Mitchell
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
(Atonement) - Ian McEwan
The Shadow Of The Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway. I've only read Death In The Afternoon
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood.
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
(Dune) - Frank Herbert
Q&A - Vikas Swarup Is there anybody I know who hasn't read this fantastic book?


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Repurposing by any other name

I was the 500th person to register for a fantastic new recycling scheme which aims to reduce local waste sent to landfill sites. I think it's a fabulously simple idea and were I ever to muster sufficient enthusiasm to sort through the 30 or so boxes still sitting obediently in my garage -cum-sauna ( which it is destined to become once/if said boxes are removed) where they were placed on the day I moved in, I think I would be happy to use this service.

I trawled about looking to see what interesting things might be up for grabs. There was a bookcase. I'm already spilling out of my existing ones and that's without unpacking any of the boxes, approximately half of which contain books from both mine and Jack's childhood. In the same way that I have to accept that I am no longer a 34B, I realise it's time I bought a bigger size of shelf.

There were quite a few plants. And someone was advertising garden incense sticks. I quite fancied those even though I'd never before heard of such things. I love scents in my garden but it's a bit too early for all the lavender and honeysuckle that I planted last year.

Unfortunately, some pushy owlperson had beaten me to it wherever I looked so I came away empty handed from my first foray into the freecycling world. But I'll keep circling about and prepare to swoop down when some small tasty morsel catches my eye. Twit twoo!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Ta Da! And now for my next trick.....

Spot anything different? I've been tinkering with the aid of an incredibly patient and talented, not to mention sophisticated, cake-baking chap.

I think I've just passed my Grade 1 in Blog Programming. I've got an NVQ Level 3 in Blog Linking with a distinction in hyperlinking.

I am truly thrilled.

The only thing better even than that today was watching Darbster ( and his incredible sideburns) on the local evening news. I called him as soon as it was over. They'd already watched it 3 times more at Max' insistence, including having freeze-framed it on each shot of the gorgeous 4 year old.

See what I just did. I put 3 links in AND THEY WORK!!!!!!

Oh! And I got a phone call from Alison and an email from Gordy. And it's not even my birthday. Yet!

Friday, April 07, 2006

We had a bit of sun yesterday. Not much more than 20 minutes at most but the winter bite seems to have diminished. It was enough to prompt Jack and about 20 of his mates to camp out in the wooded hills a few miles away.

I've never let him do that before and insisted instead that they pitch the tent at the bottom of Mum's garden. It's miles away from the house and hidden from view so they could pretend they were out in the wilds, whilst having the ability to pop back ( usually every 10minutes on average) to replenish food supplies and use the bathroom. The following morning, I'd usually find them and assorted sleeping bags on every available surface in the lounge, having crept back in somewhere between 1 and 2am.

Last night I relented. He assured me he'd be warm enough in his new green hooded jacket, inside Alasdair's tent, huddled up with his mates. I wasn't so sure and offered to run down with a thermal sleeping bag and his duvet. He protested, probably rightly suspecting that I'd also slip in his cuddly Tigger ( what fun is there if we can't embarrass our children?).

I called Darbs to make sure Jack could have a safe place to bolt to if a tropical storm hit or some other catastrophe befell them and then took myself off to bed.

First thing this morning, I tried calling him to make sure he was safe and to see if he needed picking up before heading for work. There was no reply. I sent a text. No response. I called again. Still nothing. He'd promised me his phone was fully charged. The village they were in is a bit remote and it's often only possible to get a signal on alternate Tuesdays when standing on one leg on a chair at the top of the stairs in a westerly facing house, but the phone was ringing out quite strongly. I started to get a bit concerned.

I called Debbie, Alasdair's Mum, to see if she'd heard anything. It seems they'd been woken up at 1.15am

" Muuuuuuuummmmmm, it's cold and we're bored. Can Dad come and get us?"

Jack was curled up on Alasdair's sofa, fast asleep. I dropped his Tigger off on my way to work.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I woke up face to face with a man this morning!

He wasn't in my bed. He wasn't in the room. In fact, he wasn't even in the house. I'm not sure which of us screamed louder, me or the windowcleaner. It was all he could do to hang onto his chamis.

I know I shouldn't really sleep with the curtains open but I look out onto open fields. The worst that could happen would be I flash to a flock of migrating geese or titillate a voyeuristic pheasant. Any stray dogger desperate enough to have hung around my lit bedroom window would be rewarded with hours of hot cocoa drinking action and tantric book-reading ( I can do it literally for hours and hours on the brink of ecstasy the whole time when given the right literary stimulation).

He normally comes at a weekend while I'm out. I'm still trying to get used to the new waste collection days. Blue and green boxes ( for paper and glass/tin) one week, brown bin for organic composting waste the next ( I never put it out 'cos I'm still trying to fill the home composter I bought at the council sale last autumn, it has a high percentage of rotting fruit and toilet rolls but very little in terms of garden clippings or vegetable peelings - not sure what that says about my lifestyle). I haven't a clue when the main wheelie bin is emptied, but just rely on the neighbours to have got it right. I haven't a hope of trying to remember when he's next due.

Perhaps I'll ask him to whistle very loudly before he climbs his ladder. I don't know why I'm worrying. Poor bloke is probably too traumatised to work again!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

There was an International Football match in town yesterday. England v Russia. Admittedly, it was only U/17s, but it's a step up from the World Conker Championships which is the only other international event ever to grace our home turf. Jack went with his PE teachers. I can't say I had such a close relationship with mine at his age. I doubt they'd even have been able to tell you my name, having successfully avoided sport for my entire Senior School career. The Sports Gene obviously skipped a generation.

This morning promised a local derby against Doncaster for the last match of the season. The sun was shining as we set out but it sticks around almost as long as my former boyfriends at this time of year, so I'd donned Jack's Pyrenean-Proof Parka which I'd marked as mine at the start of the season with generous and frequent sprays of Opium, the finest teenage boy repellent known to woman. It makes me look a bit like a bonsaied Kenny, but it keeps me warm on Sunday mornings, when the only passes likely to occur are bad, ill-aimed and oft-dropped ones from the thirty lads on the park.

We were playing down at the overflow training pitch on the outskirts of town, close to ASDA, so I popped in with one of the Dads to pick up a paper while we waited for the boys to warm up. We were just heading to the counter when I saw him. Shopping basket in hand. Bag of salad for one. Single satsuma. And a small tin of Salmon.

Cute Suit, freshly returned from his Boys-Own Golfing trip to South Africa, not looking particularly sun-kissed, but if he has as passionate a relationship with the elements as he did with me, it would have been nothing more than a polite nod, a metaphorical bum pat before fixing a sensible, no-nonsense hat and liberal amounts of Factor 55 firmly about his person and carefully staying at least 15 metres away from the edge of the shade at all times thereafter.

I'm not sure if he saw me but I was comforted to know that I had handsome, 6' 3" rock-climbing, Observer-reading Bob by my side, just in case. I'm sure Mrs Bob wouldn't have begrudged me passing him off as mine in that context.

Result: 27-7 to us; 100% boost to my self-esteem.

This was taken a year ago today during the tour to Dublin. I was off meeting Throbbie at the time. That's my Jack posing in the centre of the frame.