Wednesday, January 30, 2008

That’s what Friends are for

Friendships multiply joys and divide griefs.



Today it’s Girl’s Day Out to celebrate Margaret’s birthday – which was actually in November, but we’ve been busy. Joy has organised it and is driving. We are hoping Joy is going to be bright eyed and bushytailed. Lately she has been a bit down – like so many of us at this time of year – but she also has an invalid husband to care for -so the three of us decided to give her a session with our local, excellent, beautician and masseuse. Fingers crossed it’s done the trick. Yesterday the sun came out and I really felt there was a light at the end of the tunnel - not just an oncoming train:)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Kelly Macdonald and Javier Bardem - out of character!
Posted by Picasa

No Country for Old Men


You can say that again! We didn’t decide which film to see until we were actually at the cinema – delighted to find that Monday is bargain day. I bought a few raisins covered in chocolate and a sugarless blackcurrant drink. There were only two people sitting in the theatre and they were sitting in our seats - but they were quite cheerful about moving.

I love movies – as children we used to go twice a week and see Flash Gordon on Saturdays. The film’s been tipped to get an Oscar so we sat in eager anticipation - to be transported into another world. West Texas stretched out there before us and we were hooked right up to the end.

I don’t think I have seen a Coen brothers’ film before. It was adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name and Randall (sidebar) reckons it’s a great read. I certainly want to read it myself – not least to explain one or two points and also to absorb the dry, laconic dialogue.

The story is about a drug deal gone wrong and the hapless hero discovers murdered Mexicans and a large stash of money – 2 million dollars. There are three main protagonists; the sheriff played convincingly with a dry humour by Tommy Lee Jones (he was born in the area and one has to concentrate to pick up the nuances of his Texan drawl.) Secondly the evil hit man, played by Javier Bardem – a Munster like creature with neat hips and a strange limp hair style – you wouldn’t want to meet him – ever. Thirdly, Josh Brolin plays the hapless hero – a welder and 'Naam veteran. These three play a riveting cat and mouse game in the desert landscape and sparsely populated towns.

The pace is leisurely and thoughtful with plenty of time to puzzle out what’s going on but there are plenty of moments when one forgets to breathe and it illustrates that even if the genre is not your cup of tea a great film is worth anybody’s money.

The smaller parts are also a joy to watch and at last I know what Kelly Macdonald looks like – she has a fascinating face and plays Brolin’s wife. MTL wondered why Woody Harrelson would accept the small role of the second hit man – also a 'Naam veteran but I told him size doesn’t matter – it’s what he does with the part and I’m glad he was there.

Chigurh – the evil hit man is an agent of fate and chance and often gives his victims the opportunity to flip a coin to decide their fate and one of the questions unanswered is did he or didn’t he kill the wife. See if you can spot the give away clue. And he has a most interesting weapon.

Another reason I need to read the book - apart from translating some of Tommy Lee Jones authentic Texan drawl- is to find out what happened to the money. You may be cleverer than I am. I didn’t notice the music but there is suspense, cold blooded killing and black humour. I was spellbound.

Oh one last thing – wives of older husbands will appreciate the scene where the Sheriff- now retired decides how to spend the day; he could go riding or…

‘Maybe I’ll just help around the house.’

‘Better not!’ his wife offered.

Haven’t we all been there?


Monday, January 28, 2008

Stir Crazy

We gotta get out of this place!

If it's the last thing we ever do ...

We gotta get out of this place,

'cause girl, there's a better life ... for me and you

Mann and Weil


We are going stir crazy-and putting up the kitchen curtains yesterday was the last straw so we’re breaking out and are off to the flicks – 60 mile round trip or no! There are three which sound especially interesting.

#1 No Country for Old Men

#2 The Kite Runner

#3 Sweeney Todd.

We once took Sweeney Todd – the play – to France and I played Tobias the young apprentice with a spiky brown wig but the film is a musical.

Which would you choose? I think – after some googling – I know which I’ll plump for.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Maddie’s going.

Story contd

Since I left home as a young girl, Maddie and I had had a fairly volatile relationship mainly because I had developed a mind and opinions of my own. She and her husband came over each week-end and I valued her friendship so it was a blow when she told me they had decided to emigrate to the States - a much bigger step then than now.

She had my aunt, as a resident – a GI bride who lived in Rhode Island and Liam, Jamie’s brother who lived with his wife and family in NY State. Maddie asked me if I ever thought of Jamie and I said the recent experience with Gary had make me think of him and regret that we hadn’t taken our relationship further.

‘If it had been Jamie instead of Gary I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. I feel I cheated both of us. But it’s all over now. I’m a different person and I’m sure he is too.’ I assured her and stuffed any further thoughts of what might have been way out of my consciousness.

Maddie and I decided to have a few days walking together before she left and we had a really bonding time in Wales- getting to know each other as adults, although I would always be the younger sister to her – dammit! We stayed in an interesting hotel with a lake in the garden and nearly froze to death. Each night we would huddle in the bar where mine host and his attractive wife would regale us with tales which might have come straight out of ‘Under Milk Wood’. The locals would come to inspect the two English ladies and the whisky flowed freely. The bedrooms were so icy we dreaded going to bed.

It wasn’t all decadence – we climbed two mountains; one was Y Garn and the other one’s name escapes me. I do remember – when we were at the top, having a blonde moment and suggesting we went another way down, which looked rather pretty. At the bottom we realised we were miles from where we had left the car and had a long walk in pouring rain before getting a hitch. We were terrified we may have missed dinner (the food was excellent) but our worried hosts had kept it for us.

Maddie asked me if I would go up to Mum and Dad’s with her to soften the good-byes. All went well until we were on the station at Manchester and Dad was in a huff- God knows why. As it got nearer and nearer to the time when we got on the train I couldn’t stand it any longer and took Dad off.

‘Dad you’ve GOT to say good-bye properly. You may never see Maddie again.’ By this time I’d lost it and we ended up all hugging each other and smiling through our tears but all the tension had gone. I’m happy to say that the parents visited the States many, many times for the rest of their lives and Maddie came over at least once a year.

At the theatre club I decided to do Shaw’s ‘The Devil’s Disciple’ as a big public production. The character of Dick Dudgeon had always attracted me and I persuaded Alan, who was our solicitor, to play the part. He was a fine actor – more cerebral than physical; I treasure the look he gave me when I asked him to leap onto a table to hold forth. It was difficult for him but we got there in the end.

We had an old film actor in the club (he appears in the film ‘The Lady Vanishes’) and I thought he would make a great General Burgoyne but Charles wasn’t going to give in so easily. He leant over me from his great height, a lank lock of too- black hair flopping over his moustached face,

’ Who played the original part?’ he demanded. I looked up at him, blinking a little.

‘Laurence Olivier.’


And I knew he was mine, but he was very high maintenance and I had to provide a pair of thigh high suede boots before he was happy. Those wretched boots; every time Charles was on stage they seemed to me to be the focus of attention. Actors can be difficult at times!

What I discovered was that each act is written in a different style so one could get beautiful Chekhovian movement in the first act – then it’s all war, war, war and finally funereal with the Dead March. Still it went down well and it was a learning experience.

We had a bit of bother at the shop. Someone had opened a shop run on the same lines as us in the next town. They were perfectly entitled to do this but they named it using four words only one of which was different to ours and then by only three letters. People would come in the shop and say we went to your other shop. It’s called ‘passing off ‘as if someone opened a store called Marks and Spicer. Alan, our solicitor was convinced when his partner said,

‘I see Pat’s opened another shop.’

Alan was great and sent them some strong letters and they had to change it. Cheek!

All was going well; the family were fine, the shop was booming. I was in demand a an actress and director and then I met Tim

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Teenagers contd


As promised here is Claire’s story so far, courtesy of my school’s magazine.

Like Nansi Claire is always smiling and has a positive outlook on life. Since she was in year 9 Claire has had health problems as her joints dislocate and her skin tears and bruises easily. It was only when she was in Year11 that her rare condition was diagnosed as Ehlers- Danlos Syndrome.

An example of how she is affected: she had her appendix out 18 months ago, followed by another operation. The wound for this second operation still has not healed and Claire has to attend hospital in Manchester every day (20 miles away) to have the wound packed and dressed.

Claire leads a very active life and has taken part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. She plays both the guitar and saxophone. She is a first- aider with the British Red Cross and a quarter- master with First Responders. Claire used to be admitted to hospital for significant periods of time during year 11, her final GCSE year. Nonetheless, in spite of the pain and her being in hospital, Claire achieved 10 and half GCSEs: 7 and a half at A* and 3 As. She received two prizes at Speech Day.

Neither girls complain and when Claire was hospitalized she insisted on doing school work and would sneak back into school when she was supposed to be recuperating.

The Diana Award was launched in April 2000 for students nominated by their school for showing outstanding qualities in overcoming adverse circumstances, selfless service to others and youth participation or volunteering.

I’m reminded of a song by Johnny Mercer we sang during the war:

You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene

(To illustrate his last remark
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark
What did they do
Just when everything looked so dark)

Man, they said we better
Accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
No, do not mess with Mister In-Between
Do you hear me, hmm?

Next episode of Past Imperfect on Friday DV.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

News Flash

One of my readers wanted to know the significance of the 'tapestry', which turns out to be a wood carving, at the children's Hospice - Charlton Farm and below is the answer:-

Hi Patricia,

Thank you for your email asking about the tapestry at Charlton Farm. The ‘tapestry’ you are referring to is actually a wood carving! As you may know Dick King-Smith is one of our CHSW patrons and lent his character ‘Babe’ the pig to our appeal to build Charlton Farm. Babe was the mascot for the appeal and Dick King-Smith was very happy for us to use this character. The wood carving in the lounge was commissioned by Dick King-Smith and tells the story of Babe the Sheep-pig. The word ‘trials’ refers to the sheep dog trials in the story and the phrase ‘that’ll do’ is said by the farmer in the story as understated praise to Babe after he has herded up all the sheep and won the trials. The wood carving is positioned low down on the wall so small children and those in wheelchairs can appreciate the story.

I hope this answers your question, do let me know if you have any others,

Kind regards,

Caroline Clarke

Community Fundraiser

Children's Hospice South West

Tel: 01275 866600
Fax: 01275 866601



They have had a terrible press recently and it is very worrying. Even here, at the week-end, a man was found dead in the town and two teenagers are in custody.

To redress the balance let me tell you about two girls. I feel especially proud of them because they are both pupils at my old grammar school.

My school news letter tells me that both Nansi and Claire have been awarded a Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Award which is for young people who show outstanding courage when faced with serious medical conditions.

Nansi has cystic fibrosis and has to have physiotherapy before school each day and at the end of each day has to do 4-5 hours of sport. She takes 50 pills every day and another 15 pills each morning to ensure she has the right vitamins.

Outside of school she plays netball, hockey and handball for three teams and excels at horse- riding, representing Greater Manchester in dressage, show- jumping and showing classes. She spends spare time raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust has organised a staff hockey match, arranged school cake sales and street collections.

Now that she is sixteen, the CF Trust has asked her to give personal advice to families newly affected by cystic fibrosis.

Nansi was a member of one of the two netball teams that broke the Guinness World Record for endurance netball by playing for over 55 hours. Six hours before the end of the attempt she collapsed on the floor in agony and had to be carried off. However she said she could not let her team down and staggered back on and ended up on crutches for two weeks.

I’ll tell you about Claire tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Wise Words


“Age shouldn’t affect you. It’s just like the size of your shoes- they don’t determine how you live your life! You’re either marvellous or you’re boring. I do maintain that, if your hair is wrong, your entire life is wrong.”


Monday, January 21, 2008

Reasons to be Cheerful


A still small voice spake unto me.

‘Thou art so full of misery,

Were it not better not to be?’

Some time ago whilst doing Michele’s (see side bar) ‘Meet and Greet’ where you visit blogs previously unknown to you I came across Crazie Queen She wrote movingly of her friend Minerva who was battling with cancer and CQ was inspired to take part in the ‘Race for Life’ I visited Minerva’s site and, I’m sure along with many others, included her in my daily prayers.

Last night Crazie Queen instructed us to visit Minerva’s site and I read the following.

‘Brace yourselves, this will be a shock.. As of today, as of this morning, I am cancer free. Yes, you did read that right. The CT scan showed No Sign of Disease otherwise known as NED.

I am crying with relief as I write this. I do not have cancer, but I have a future with my children, I have a career, I have a life.

Back when I have calmed down!

In exultation,


That’s one great big reason to be cheerful.

Then January- my personal bete noir mois – (that doesn’t look right but you know what I mean) will soon be over and Spring is just round the corner. The picture below is the view from the cottage in Dorset we have booked for a week in June so that is something to look forward to; essential at this time of year.

What are you looking forward to? There must be something.

Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 18, 2008

Star Born


Yesterday I went with my friend Margaret and some Townswomen’s Guild members (I was a guest) to visit Charlton Farm – a Children’s Hospice which is nestled in the valley of Wraxall near Bristol It provides a secluded and beautiful setting where families and their sick children can take some time out enjoying life together as a family.

The children who use the Hospice will have Life Limiting, or Life Threatening Conditions, which mean that they are not expected to live into adulthood. Some families may use the hospice for many years, from the time the child is first diagnosed; they may come for planned respite, or for emergency care, depending on their needs and the support that the family request. Sometimes grand-parents are catered for.

A special carer looks after the needs of the sick child and siblings have their own special career if they require and are supported throughout the life of their brother or sister and the end of this life and following death. The sibling staff is able to provide bereavement activities and care specifically for the children and spend time focusing on their need and the needs of the whole family.

The hospice provides a special room, Star born; this is a room where children can lie after their death. It allows for a private space for families to say their goodbyes. It can be used by both the families whose child has died in the hospice as well as those who have died at home or in hospital.

This is the only week in the year when the Hospice is closed for maintenance but when I asked one of the volunteers if I could take photographs she told me that although they were closed they could never turn a child away – they had admitted a family and the child had died. Therefore parts of the Hospice would be closed to us.

She was visibly upset so I said not to worry; however later she told me it was perfectly alright to take photos as long as I didn’t take any of the staff. We spent the morning being shown round by one of the devoted volunteers and I think the pictures speak for themselves. As we left the Hospice an ambulance was arriving.

The top floor is the parents rooms and the bottom the childrens.

The Star Born room

The construction that gives the magical light in the Star Born room
Posted by Picasa

Diming room

Posted by Picasa
where the children can get messy.

A family sitting room
Posted by Picasa
Teenage room - adults by invitation only

Monkey guards the guitars

This is where carts used to be washed. the hill was made fom earth scooped out to install under floor heating
Posted by Picasa

A peaceful place to sit

A gentle lion

Posted by Picasa

Jaccuzzi for the family.

Sensory room - sound and touch change the colours and patterns

The children can go on-line
Posted by Picasa
The Star Born Room

The cconstruction which gives the special light above

If the patient is used to sharing with a sibling there is an extra bed.

All the patient's rooms have hoists
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Keira Knightley and James McAvoy in the brilliant film of Ian McEwan's book

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday Waffle


Just coming to the end of ‘Atonement’ by Ian McEwan and my goodness he does go on. I’m glad I saw the film first or I may not have stayed the course. The book clarifies. For example in the film, Robbie’s death comes as something of a shock whereas the book makes it clear that he is gravely wounded. James McAvoy’s vivid portrayal of Robbie is with me as I read.

Full marks for McEwan’s hospital research and the following passage really hits home. I started training in 1947 having done pre – nursing in 19 46 and that’s how we did it then. When did it stop? When did it all go wrong? I’m talking about cleanliness and hygiene.

‘The wards emptied but the work intensified. Every morning the beds were pushed into the centre so that the probationers could polish the floor with a heavy bumper that a girl on her own could barely swing from side to side. The floors were to be swept three times a day. Vacated lockers were scrubbed, mattresses fumigated, brass coat hooks, door knobs and keyholes were buffed. The woodwork – doors as well as skirting – was washed down with carbolic solution and so were the beds themselves, the iron frames as well as springs. The students scoured, wiped and dried bedpans and bottles until they shone like dinner plates.’

‘The war against germs never stopped. The probationers were initiated into the cult of hygiene. They learned that there was nothing so loathsome as a wisp of blanket fluff hiding under a bed, concealing within its form a battalion, a whole division of bacteria. The everyday practice of boiling, scrubbing, buffing and wiping became the badge of the student’s professional pride, to which all personal comfort must be sacrificed.’

Right on!

Correction on the number of posts.

Although Dash board informs me that I have done 831 posts I have since realised that this high figure is because I can only publish four photos at one time with Picasa so they are counted as separate posts. Forgive me if I don’t work out the maths or math if you are across the pond.

On Thursday I am visiting a Children’s Hospice. Sadly the children won’t be there but it will be very interesting to see one of these wonderful places in person.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Two years.


January 14th 2006 I published my first post and now have 831 under my belt. Actually there was one before that on a green-edged background which is lost in cyber space – endlessly floating round like Bowie’s Major Tom.

I read somewhere that two years is the average length of a blog and as I would like to continue I have made a few mental notes to facilitate this:-

1 Not to panic when real life intrudes and I get behind with posts and visiting other bloggers.

2 To try to continue – at my own pace.

3 To try to brush up my technical abilities; I have improved – I can now add or subtract names on my side –bar, but not alas awards and two are waiting. I have got more awards than I deserve and don’t feel I should get any more but I’m most grateful for the ones I have. Thank you so much. And thank you to those of you who take the trouble to come back and plough through the stuff I churn out.


Don’t miss latest episode below:)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

On with the Motley

Story contd.

Thou art not a man, thou’rt but a jester!
On with the motley, and the paint, and the powder!
The people pay thee, and want their laugh, you know!
If Harlequin thy Columbine has stolen, laugh Punchinello!
The world will cry, "Bravo!"

I saw an old Italian film of the opera Pagliacci and when the eponymous hero sang ‘On with the motley’ I thought I understood his angst. In spite of my lovely boys, my home, a good husband, my shop, the theatre and good friends I felt this inner yearning and it is only now, at this late stage of my life, that I understand what I was looking for.

The theatre club were impressed by my having attended a production course and invited me to do one myself. I thought I had better start with a one act play and as John Mortimer was a big name then I chose his ‘Lunch Hour.’ It was the era when the’ Anyone for tennis?’ middle class drama was beginning to look old hat and the theatre of the absurd was rearing its ugly head.

‘Lunch Hour’ was a sad/comic tale of a man and a younger woman having a liaison in a shabby hotel near King’s Cross. The only other character is the Manageress who, unbeknownst to the girl has been told a long involved cover story of his wife having travelled down from Scarborough, with the children who have been left with a sister in law in another part of the town. Unfortunately the girl knows nothing of this and in the course of the crazy conversation discovers she has three children, a sister in law, and that there have been family rifts since the wedding.

It all becomes real to the girl and she quickly becomes the injured wife, romance goes out of the window and the affair is over before it has begun. It must have been hilarious with the original cast of Wendy Craig, Emlyn Williams and Alison Leggatt but whilst my man and manageress were very good, the girl couldn’t quite get it. Still the committee liked it enough to ask me to do a full blown production. This time I would make sure the key parts were played by more experienced actors and ‘The Deep Blue Sea’ and then ‘Separate Tables’ were productions I was proud of.

Julia - (who I had met through Pete– the first director I had worked with) -with all her experience - became a mentor and I looked forward to the day when I could have her in one of my plays. I had been intrigued by the play ‘The Unquiet Spirit’ by Jean –Jacques Bernard and Gary had even designed a set for it but Julia read it and said it would depress her too much and I understood what she meant. Not only was she a successful actress, director and writer she was also a member of the Crime Writer’s and invited me to go with her to their Christmas party.

I was thrilled to meet Kathleen Whitehorn; she was a journalist I much admired and had just written a very funny article on sluts (with regard to dress) and admitted she was one of the first order. I proudly told her I – at that very moment - was relying on a safety pin to hold up my bra. Julia said she was asked who was the girl who looked like she had escaped from a James Bond movie – not the impression I wanted to give at all.

Another trip to London was to a lecture by a foreign man -whose name escapes me - on set design. When I asked him how I could create the effect of peeling wall-paper for ‘Lunch Hour’ he suggested I paper the set and then peel it. No short cuts then!

The sixties was a time of change and people tended to question the beliefs they had hitherto accepted. I became increasingly aware of the gulfs between the haves and the have-nots; of the families who lived their happy peaceful lives without much care for the unhappy dysfunctional people and I rebelled against anything that branded anyone as lesser humans. I had always been receptive to other people’s worries but now it was as if I had a sign on my forehead which said 'Stop here and tell me your problems. ' This was some time before I actually became a Samaritan and before I befriended someone who helped me to keep my head above water.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Never say die! Here is the award.
Posted by Picasa

A Confidence Booster


This week I have been lucky enough to have A the above award given to me twice. First by Kenju and secondly by Eryl both are on my side- bar and both are writers I admire. I copied the paragraph below from Kenju (Judy)

“How does it work? Above are copies of the award that we can each distribute to those people who have blogs we love, can't live without, where we think the writing is good and powerful. I thought interested members could kick things off by publishing the award on their own blog, naming five people they would like to give it to (members or non-members), and accompany the image with three things they believe are necessary to make writing good and powerful. The recipients then do the same, passing it on to five other people, and so on."

So: three things I believe are necessary to make writing good and powerful.

Passion. To care so much about what you are writing you have to communicate it to others.

Diligence. To make a persistent effort to research, edit and prune and to get all the right words in the right order to achieve clarity.

The Inner voice. The voice that impels you to impart what is in your head and your heart.

This is my opinion. You may disagree.

The five I have chosen – and some of my friends have already been given this particular award. Virtually everybody on my side bar are worthy of it.

Johng In his own words:-

“I am 45, single, disabled due to an accident, broken neck, back and fractured skull. Damn falling trees!!”

I visit John on a daily basis to see what he is up to, with his visits to the pub, his love/ hate relationship with Keith and his unfailing good humour. He is very popular with both sexes and he inspires me to stop moaning and get on with it.

Randall Sherman is a lawyer from Missouri, Philosopher and Christian who I regard as a good, wise man although is of my son’s generation. He writes engagingly about his family, the outdoors and his passion for sport and although sometimes what he writes is above my head I don’t feel intimidated by it. I love his trenchant sense of humour and this is a quality all five share.

Zinnia Cyclamen was one of the reasons I started blogging two years ago. My son recommended I read her and I have been hooked ever since. She is a non religious funeral celebrant and he blog at present is composed of short stories and posts on writing; she is presently writing a novel and shares the experience. She writes beautifully and often brings a tear to one’s eyes but there is also a mischievous sense of fun which often has me smirking.

FourD hails from Oldham – a Lancashire lad I have always felt a bond with. In his own words “Married, Mortgaged, Skint, Sober (at the moment) and according to my daughter Homer Simpson in the flesh.....”

His language can be appalling but his powerful writing about his abusive childhood has shaken me to the core and with that childhood he’s entitled to a few expletives. He is passionate about his family, music and justice and he paints vivid pictures with his words as he follows his rumbustious life style.


“I gon tell you stories, true, true stories. Like me gran'pa and me nanee and cha cha used to do, and they ancestors too. Take half, leave half, cry or laff. Enjoy the gyaff, what you learn is up to you.”

If you don’t already know my friend GG you have a treat in store. She writes about her life with verve and humour and has the blessed ability to make you laugh and cry. Her warmth would melt the ice on a bitter February day in Whitewell Bottom. Rock on GG!

My technical ability had completely gone to pot this morning and I am struggling but cannot manage the links. All five names are on my side bar. Please just click on them. Also although I have got the lion award on Word I am not sure it is transferring to Dashboard. If it hasn’t and you want to see what it looks like please click on Eryl.

I am mortified and will get the peas out

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Girls Only


You know what it's like when you see a nice jacket and you think - that's a nice jacket , that would be so useful and such a good buy and you buy it and get it home and after six months realise you haven't worn it- not because you haven't had the occasion (all our anniversaries) but because you haven't got just the right thing to wear with it.
So yesterday having made Taunton at last,that was the plan. There were great reductions but nothing that shouted take me home; everything was looking a bit tired, tawdry even. So I bought the skirt from Monsoon- I think it works and the great thing is both garments are washable (with great care:))

The jacket and skirt

Detail of the skirt

Must fly for a 10am appointment then I hope to come round and visit. What do you think?
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, January 06, 2008


This made me smile:

"Sorry to hear your feeling less than 100%.

Take it easy and keep Taunton as something to look forward to.

Then one day (or night would be better) ideally near an old fashioned
aircraft with its engines ticking over, you can look YTL in the eye and
say, "We'll always have Taunton."

And drink plenty of water!

I'm off to my friend M's house in a minute to watch Blade Runner on his
posh telly. J and I went to Trowbridge earlier and tomorrow we'll
probably go to Salisbury - now thata's living! Taunton - Pah! "

The cloud seems to be lifting - try as I might I can't get out of italics. Tomorrow it's Taunton or bust!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

A Special Day


If you want to know why, you have to read Jan 5th 2007 or I shall be repeating myself and I do enough of that unwittingly. As usual- at this time of year- we don't feel like going out for a special meal; as a matter of fact we have meant to go to Taunton each successive day this week but a general feeling of malaise , on my part, has discouraged us. I need to be on top form as usually I rush round the shops like a demented puppy whilst MTL potters round at a more restful pace. We don't have to go- MTL wants to get me something special as a late Christmas present and I want to pick up a bargain in the sales. Maybe Monday. January I find a bit of a pain but Spring is a comin'.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Glass Cage

Story contd.

There wasn’t time to mope; lots of laundry to do and all the household tasks that had been left for a week. It was lovely to see the boys and hug them. A week apart made us so much more appreciative of each other and they were quite angelic for about 24 hours.

Mary, my partner, rang – very excited; this was the first summer the shop had been open and we were very busy – we needed more part-time staff so that there would be at least two of us on duty. She had been so busy with sales that she hadn’t had time to enter them up on the client’s cards. I said I would go in to do it once the boys were in bed. We were both excited and pleased with the way the shop’s fame was spreading.

There was a letter for me the next day, but I was rushing to drive the boys to school, and then to open the shop before half past nine, so put it in my bag for later. As soon as we opened there was a stream of customers. When we first started Mary’s father had rigged a buzzer on one of the stairs to warn us when any one was coming. Now there was a constant buzz, buzz, buzz, and what with that and the old fashioned till -bell it was like an inspiration for Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells.

Mary came in briefly and I was glad of the help but soon she had to go to the bank and I was alone again. Just before lunch a Persian man (he told me he was from Persia) arrived with his two daughters who were going to be boarders at one of the local prep schools. He handed me a long list of uniform which he wanted for both girls. We always closed for lunch but I decided that, although I would lock the shop as usual, I would devote my lunch hour to trying to find everything they needed.

It wasn’t easy; he was very demanding and the girls were very shy hiding behind; the changing room curtain we had fixed in the corner – even to try on hockey boots. By the time I had found everything they needed, including lacrosse sticks, I was panting with exhaustion

I sank into the office chair to remove all the price tickets and add up the amounts. When I told him the price he made me an offer. I couldn’t believe it. I felt smoke must be coming out of my ears. I had worked my butt off during my lunch hour, persuading the girls to try everything on, grovelling on my knees amongst the hockey boots, and he had the effrontery to make me an offer…

I drew myself up to my full five feet four and a half inches and said.

‘I’m sorry sir but we do NOT barter. That is the price you must pay if you wish to take the goods.’

The thought of having to try to match the garments with the tickets if he decided to leave, gave me palpitations. Selling was only part of the job - everything sold had to be entered on the customers file so she could collect her money the next time she was in. All the articles would have come from maybe twenty different customers so you can see the problem.

Both he and the girls looked rather startled at my obvious outrage and he slowly brought out a roll of notes and paid me in full. That taught me never to remove the tickets until I was certain the customer was serious.

Whilst waiting for the boys to come out of school I remembered the letter. It was from Gary- a poem and a note with a telephone number and the message ‘Please phone.’

When I read the poem I was moved and felt my resolve weakening. Surely it wouldn’t hurt to phone – it was only polite.

His voice sounded just like him – relaxed and friendly.

Gary it’s Pat. Thank you for the poem – it’s lovely. How long did it take to write it?’

There was a pause and I thought we had been cut off.

‘Well it more or less wrote itself. It’s great to hear your voice Pat.’

He said he had found one of the books he had told me about – a play he thought I should do as my first; he had even designed a set for me.

When I met him it was different. He seemed to have lost the golden glow he had in the college and I felt awkward and uncomfortable. A woman I knew – she was northern like me and was used to saying what she thought – had told me I seemed to have a glass cage around me. Somehow I knew what she meant and thought that one day I should break out of it. But I knew this was not the time. I had been swept off my feet once before and it was not going to happen again. When I told Gary it couldn’t go any further he said everyone would assume it had anyway. This riled me and I said the important thing was that I knew it hadn’t.

It must have been almost a year later when I was browsing through one of my quotation books looking for something apt for a friend’s birthday and a familiar line caught my eye. It was the poem Gary had written for me but my book said it was by William Blake.

The Garden of love

I went to the Garden of Love,

And saw what I never had seen;

A Chapel was built in the midst,

Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut

And "Thou shalt not," writ over the door;

So I turned to the Garden of Love

That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,

And tombstones where flowers should be;

And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,

And binding with briars my joys and desires.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry – so I did both. What an ignorant fool he must have thought me. I blessed the guardian angel that had stopped me from straying. This time anyway.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Work in Progress


I opened the door to see a nicely dressed woman about my age.

‘Hello – I’m Margaret Scott and I live just up the lane!’

That was twenty two years ago when we had just moved into our house and it was my first sight of the woman who is now my close friend. Odd really because we had lived in the same county – Kent - for years and unknown to both of us, she had even been a customer in my shop. Lucky for me Margaret had the old fashioned habit of calling on new neighbours to welcome them; she took me under her wing and even persuaded me to join the Guild. She is the driving force in our quartet of friends with whom regular readers will be familiar.

When Margaret was a young Norland nurse she met Malcolm a forester. They fell in love, married and had three children – two girls and a boy. Like most families they had ups and downs with one of the children being seriously ill for a long period of time. They were interested in country pursuits, gardening, antiques, old books and postcards. They retired early to Somerset where they could follow their interests in natural history and conservation. Malcolm with the help of volunteers developed the Woodstock Gardens Nature Reserve and won two Conservation awards in 1991 and1994.

Whilst retired they have created two beautiful gardens which they have opened each year for charity. Margaret runs a gardening group – one of the most popular offshoots of the Townswomen’s Guild.

One by one the children married and eventually both daughters and their husbands settled in the West and the son with his wife in Scotland. The eldest daughter had a son, their first grandchild and then there was a very sad time when she became very ill, with influenza and pneumonia, and gave birth prematurely to a little boy, who died shortly afterwards. During her daughter’s illness, Margaret and later Malcolm upped sticks and went to help nurse their daughter back to health and eventually she and her husband were blessed with a daughter.

When the son was awarded his two degrees he and his wife flew out to Peru and Brazil for some months, for a back – packing holiday. Some years later they adopted a little boy in Guatemala, who had been placed in care for adoption. Later on they adopted a sister for their son.

The youngest daughter who had spent seventeen months back-packing round the world settled down to be a law librarian and married a dealer in second-hand books and memorabilia. They have just been out to China, after a long arduous vetting to collect their adopted daughter. All the family visit Margaret and Malcolm regularly and have inherited their parents love of the countryside.

Many of us record our family life on video, photograph albums or in diaries; forget the Bayeux Tapestry – below is the wonder of Margaret and Malcolm’s Tapestry which she started during an enforced three year separation when Malcolm’s retirement was delayed.