Friday, January 30, 2009

They said it.


‘The Beatles are dying in the wrong order.’ Victor Lewis-Smith

‘Quotations will tell the full measure of meaning – if you have enough of them.’

James Murray.

‘Life is anything that dies when you stomp on it.’ Dave Barry

‘The world is disgracefully managed, one hardly knows to whom to complain.’

Ronald Firbank.

‘Men don’t care what’s on TV. They only care what else is on TV.’ Jerry Seinfield

‘A man can sleep around but if a woman makes 19 or 20 mistakes she’s a tramp.’ Joan Rivers.

‘Sex is the poor man’s polo.’ Clifford Odets

‘The majority of husbands remind me of an orang –utan trying to play the violin.’

Honore De Balzac

‘Never raise your hand to your children - it leaves your mid section unprotected.’

Robert Orben

‘I never drink coffee at lunch. I find it keeps me awake for the afternoon.’

Ronald Reagan.

The Answer

Sir Paul Stephenson, the new Commissioner for New Scotland Yard and I both went to the same school – Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School – although not at the same time – I’m senior to him. The second thing we have in common is that neither of us went to university. I shall be taking note.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


(Lewis Whyld PA)

Sir Paul Stephenson - the new Commissioner for New Scotland Yard and I, have two things in common.
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Julie Walters by Tim whitby
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Homage to Julie


Julie Walters is one of my favourite actresses. I can’t think of any other who can move me to tears as well as make me hysterical with laughter. She is totally devoid of vanity and ‘luvvie -ness.’ Just one example of her unique comic brilliance is the sketch ‘Two Soups’ which I hope I can successfully embed – but if not there are many examples on You tube. The PC brigade may think it is mocking the old but the older I get – the funnier I find it.

There are many examples of her ability to capture the essence of a character and engage the emotions of the audience – the latest of which was her portrayal, the other night on TV, in ‘A Short Stay in Switzerland’; a true story of a doctor stricken with an illness –Progressive Supranuclear Palsy that would render her completely helpless, and this after she had cared for her husband until his death, from a similar disease. She describes it as ‘a bomb going off in my body – slowly but surely,’ and decides to go to a clinic in Zurich, for an assisted suicide, whilst she still has the strength to get there.

She tries to convince her three grown –up children that this is what she must do but they protest vehemently and help her to move from her large, beautiful house into a tiny bungalow. In despair at her increasing helplessness, she attempts suicide, crushing many tablets in orange juice and gin, drinking it and putting a plastic bag over her face, but her children – alerted by no answer to their telephone calls - rush round and save her.

Slowly they each come round to agreeing to accompany her to Switzerland so that she can die with dignity. Her best friend will not accept that she is choosing a ‘good death’ as opposed to a ‘bad death’ and calls her selfish, cruel and stupid, and their friendship ends.

In the clinic she has to declare her condition and that she is completely determined to end her life and does this without the children present. After the children rejoin her, she is given the fatal dose, which is bitter, drinks it unflinchingly, is helped onto the bed where she dies in the arms of the children.

The play leaves lots of questions and no real answers. Which is the more selfish: to deprive your children of their mother, or save them from having the responsibility of care, whilst you slowly become totally helpless like their father did, but to a more severe degree. I hope I never have to face the dilemma.

PS I got Two Soups on my edit posts but it won’t transfer. You can see it on You Tube normally – not just now.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Dragon House

Our lunch table.
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As usual Iforgot the first course until I had eaten it:)

Coffee in the other room

Guess which is which.
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Out to Lunch

Saturday was sunny so I suggested to MTL we might like to go out to lunch and he agreed, with the proviso that we went somewhere different. Not wishing to appear bossy – like Ulrika - I let him decide and he chose The Dragon House which is between us and Williton. We had been years ago when the hotel was having problems and it somehow dropped off our radar.

It was built 300 years ago by smugglers from the proceeds of a shipwreck off Blue Anchor Bay, and over the years it has been an inn, a place of worship, a private house and now a country house hotel. I telephoned first to ensure we could get a bar lunch as opposed to a full blown restaurant meal and it was fine.

We got a warm welcome and the choice of two rooms so we had lunch in one and coffee in the other. We were pleased with our choices – a Thai dish for me with chicken, lemon grass, chillies, coconut milk and rice and what was basically the most glorious dish of fish and chips for MTL, In the interest of research I tasted both and I shall definitely have his choice next time, which could be for my birthday in March, when we could stay the night. Why not?

Would we care for desserts? Is the Pope catholic? We ordered a dark chocolate fondant with caramel ice cream and a chocolate vodka shot. Think about it
Also an iced parfait of nougat glace with raspberry compote. Both divine, then we waddled to the bar for coffee and stuff. What a good idea MTL!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Creative Juices


They runneth a bit dry today but I’ll sit and blether anyway shall I? It’s that pesky January I guess. It’s three years since I started this – I can’t tell you the exact date because part of my archive – from January 2006 to December 2006 has gone walk –about, although it is still on my lists of posts on Dashboard. I wonder if I republished them if they would go to the right place i.e. the beginning? I’m nervous of trying.

My bed-time reading just now is ’The Paris Review suggested by Eryl (sidebar). It covers Heartbreak, Sex , Love, Betrayal, Madness, Outsiders, Intoxication, War , Whimsy, Horrors, God , Death, Dinner, Baseball, Travels, the Art of Writing and Everything else in the World Since 1953 so you can see why. The following is an example of when a group of distinguished poets were given eight titles to write any form of verse in the Whimsy section. Some of you may appreciate it:-

The English are so very nice

except of course when they are not.

They’ll ply you with a lovely pot

of tea and scones, but then in a trice

kebab you with their rapier wit

and treat you like a piece of shit.

One minute it’s paradise

Of tweedy charm, the next a wet

and caste-benighted oubliette.

But the English are so very nice.


In spite of its literary connotations I know I am the only one of you who watches ‘Big Brother’. I had to – to see who Ulrika would run off with. It’s not happened yet – nor likely to – no love lost there. I was sorry to see La Toyah go last night – such a contrast to noisy Tina who could sit – cross-legged and rubbish her fellow guests in bleepable language whilst biting her nails ( toe nails) at the same time.

Thank goodness for dear Ben (Fogle) who is braving the Peruvian Jungle this week. His mother was the sweet actress Julie Foster who was in the West End with Tommy Steele. She had to dye her blonde hair because Tommy was the blonde. She married a vet so you can see where Ben is coming from. I think I could face the lower slopes of Everest with Ben beside me.

Julie Foster ( Ben's Mother)
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Reasons to be cheerful


My daffodils are in bud and Barack Obama makes history today becoming the first black president in The White House. I hope all those people who have suffered throughout the years, and in my lifetime, can rest easy in their graves. It’s been a long time coming.

How to bring a smile to someone’s face.

1 Make a coffee / tea for you and your partner / husband.

2 Collect all pencils that need sharpening, a sharpener and old newspaper.

3 Spread paper on kitchen table and sit to drink coffee/ tea. A slightly smug smile is permitted at so perfectly illustrating how – even at a break - the woman never stops, whilst the man just drinks.

4, Sharpen all pencils making sure all the detritus lands safely on the paper.

5 Blow on the sharpener to clean it.

Well it brought a smile to MTL’s face even though he was covered in pencil shavings. Sometimes it’s useful to be a klutz.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Titular trouble

I was happy to share my title ‘Past Imperfect ‘with Joan Collins but now Julian Fellowes has just published a book using the same title I’ll have to find another. Drat the man! I have a tendency to err on the soppy, poetic so have tried to avoid that and whittled it down to three.

‘Journeys end…’ a Shakespearean quote – ‘Journeys end in lovers meeting’. RC Sherriff had a very successful play – years ago but spelt differently – ‘Journey’s End.’ And it was aeons ago. There is no copyright for titles incidentally.

‘Adieu Tristesse’ A quote from Paul Eluard. Daphne (side –bar) will remember that Francoise Sagan used ‘Bonjour Tristesse’ for her novel – again many years ago.

‘Tears before bed-time’ this is something my mother constantly warned me would happen when I got over –excited. She was always right but it has a double resonance.

Agonising over the query letter today, I couldn’t help wondering what on earth gave me the idea I could write. Back to the drawing board.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Something for the Week-end.

It’s good to find something we both enjoy doing: watching Ben Fogle on BBC2 6.30pm to 7pm. It’s wickedly delicious to be snug, warm and replete and watch the brave souls pit themselves against the elements on a mountain the name of which Ben endlessly mentions in a funny South American accent –Mount Chimborazo – over 15,000’

It is the closest point to the sun, on earth, and the team have to battle with altitude sickness, climbing on melting ice and the danger of avalanches. They are all fit, healthy people whose normal jobs are helping other people but already one has had to retire Tonight is the final night when they face the ultimate challenge and which Ben says is the most dangerous thing he has ever done. Fingers crossed.

About to send a query letter to agents I came across this web-site:
where they give you all the info you need to know.

In brief it should be a single page introducing you and your book. There should be three concise paragraphs: the hook, the mini-synopsis, and the writer’s biography.

A query letter is meant to elicit an invitation to send sample chapters or even the whole manuscript to the agent. They adjure you to keep it simple and not stray from this format.

The hook is a concise one-sentence tagline for your book and they give helpful examples.

The mini- synopsis is where ‘you get to distil your entire 300 page manuscript into one paragraph. Lucky you.’

Finally – Writer’s Bio – all about you – the writer - which they say you should keep short and related to writing only. These are just the rudiments – in all I printed out five pages of really helpful information. I hope it helps someone else. I’m going to keep this brief as I really have to stop faffing about and get on with it. Late start today as we slept till 8am – a rare occurrence which we are both grateful for.
Have a good week-end

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday waffle.


I fear I have delighted you long enough with the Printer saga and would like to draw a veil over the last 48 hours. Suffice to say I now have a working printer and a new Mr Fix- it. And now for something completely different:

‘I don’t see much of Alfred anymore since he got so interested in sex.’
Mrs Alfred Kinsey

‘Ever wonder about those people who spend $2 apiece on those little bottles of Evian Water? Try spelling Evian backwards.’
George Carlin

‘Actually it takes one drink to get me loaded. Trouble is I can’t remember if it’s the 13th or 14th.
George Burns

‘The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you’re hungry again.
George Miller

‘I always love to quote Albert Einstein because nobody dares contradict him.’
Studs Terkel

‘Nobody can teach you to make the perfect cup of tea. It just happens over time. Wearing cashmere helps of course.’
Jill Dupleix

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Eryl’s Questions.

‘I'm blubbing, and so full of questions: what were the first words you (both) spoke when he looked up from his paper, and what did you talk about for the rest of the day? What did he illustrate in his notebook, and what size, colour, shape was it, did he keep it on the table or have to keep pulling it out of his pocket? What was it about the man you met that told you he knew your rapture? How, and when, did you arrange to meet again? What were your parting words? When you got on that last train did you know you were going to end your marriage or did that come later?’

Neither of us can remember our first words – the predominant senses were sight, smell and touch – all highly pleasing. A smiley ‘Hello’ would be a safe bet. It was an icy January – lots of snow up in Cheshire from whence he had travelled – and it was comforting to settle in a nice warm bar.

The rest of the day we covered 30 years happenings at random: we talked about our five children and how lucky we were to each have close loving relations with them. He told me about being in the RAF and I told him about nursing. He had seen some of my modelling photos and we talked about my sister and his brother who were old friends and lived in the same NY state. We discovered that I went to live in the south and he went to live in the north and kept a cottage in Yorkshire – just over the border from my parent’s home and I visited New York just after he had been.. Once we had been to the same children’s hotel in Bournemouth - the Broughty Ferry – the same year. We had both taken our children on holidays to the Lake District and to Wales. I told him that since the boys left home William and I were considering separate establishments. He asked me if there was anyone else and I told him no, which was the truth.

Eventually I told him about every relationship I had had with the opposite sex as I didn’t want any secrets between us; he realised that the only serious one had been with Tim.

We talked about our break- up all those years ago and I said neither of us had tried hard enough to save our relationship. He remembered this and in the following difficult months was constantly reassuring, protective and supportive.

The notebook was one of those oblong, soft covered lined ones which easily fit in a breast pocket,if you are a pocket man which MTL certainly is. It was mostly used in the bar when he was explaining the hierarchy in his work place. His job was as important and responsible as William’s but more business orientated. Our politics had come closer over the years based on the thesis ‘if you don’t vote labour under 30 you haven’t got a heart and if you do over 30 you haven’t got a head. Loosely speaking.

What was it about the man you met that told you he knew your rapture?

It wasn’t rapture then – that came later.

I think we left it that he would get in touch when he was coming to London again,
As for our parting words – like the beginning it was sight touch and smell and we were both a bit overwhelmed by our goodbye hug.

When I got on the last train I slowly came down to earth. It had been a long, intensive, emotional day and I started to panic. After 28 years of marriage I was looking forward to being free – not jumping straight into a relationship with anyone, let alone someone so vulnerable. I couldn’t bear the thought of possibly hurting him. I must have written to Jamie and tried to slow things down, because he wrote that he fully accepted and agreed that further meetings should be understood to be on the basis of unqualified, relaxed (and perhaps hopefully increasing) friendship.

With each meeting I got a little more confident and we became closer and then at our fifth meeting in April, I was to visit my parents stopping off at Jamie’s house on the way there and on the way back. I felt it wasn’t fair to involve my parents at this stage so told them I was seeing a friend in Manchester who would drop me off. I was absolutely flabbergasted when Mum greeted me with:

‘Oh isn’t Jamie coming in?’ I think Maddie had been at work but it was a blessed relief and they met him when he picked me up on the Sunday.

My great sadness when I was younger was that we had never been lovers – that’s just how it was then. After this week-end our fate was sealed - there was rapture and total commitment. Our plan was to be together forever – and to Jamie this meant getting married as soon as possible. Both of us wanted to accomplish this causing as little hurt and upset to other people as possible. William said he wouldn’t be happy about us living in the same area so when Jamie took early retirement and we travelled to the places we loved in England, deciding where to settle - we eschewed Kent and Sussex -in spite of my friends and business in the area.

Eryl: I’ve gone on a bit – but you did ask.

Friday, January 09, 2009



Trevor (new on the scene) has assured me a courier will deliver the printer on Monday and he personally will open it up, check contents and re-seal it. I asked why they couldn't collect and deliver on the same day - originally they were going to collect on Monday and deliver on Wednesday but then - he said - I would be without a printer. HELLO if a printer is minus its innards you are without a printer.
I await Monday with fear and trepidation and eternally sprung hope.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Better out than in!

So anyway on Tuesday I tottered down to the local ‘puter shop, gave them my blue flashy, Hi- speed USB Drive and asked them to print out the last nine pages: 283 -292 and then to copy ? burn the whole document to CD – twice - i.e. two CDs as a belt and braces thingy.

At lunch time I got a phone call to say that there were a number of things on the drive but the pages of the relevant document ended at page 183 (so nine pages missing) although that apparently was the correct end of the story. It has taken me a day to work out what has happened. I had thought that if the drive was plugged in it would adapt every time I emended, altered or edited the document in Word. Not so. So I don’t have the last printed pages and the CD’s are out of date
All fixable once I have my printer working.

Wednesday we did the round 60 mile trip to get my printer replaced (bought in July and on a three years warranty.) No probs and was given a slightly up- dated version but, the box had been opened. I was assured that it wasn’t one that had been returned but at home, on unpacking, found there was none of the shipping packing and there didn’t appear to be a cartridge. Hmmm!

Today – after ringing round the houses I finally got through to the store although they never give you the number. No problem ‘bring it in and we will exchange it.’ I pointed out I wanted to be sure they were going to have the replacement in stock (unused) that we were both elderly and did not want to do another 60 mile round trip. Yesterday I had chatted to a female assistant and she was telling me about her daughter’s illness and happened to mention they had a chap from Minehead who worked there. Remembering this I asked if there was any way he could save us the journey and I‘m expecting to hear from him 11.30 this morning.

I expect by now you have switched off – who could blame you- but if not fingers crossed.

Monday, January 05, 2009

A Special Day: January 5th 1979
End of story

The shop was always in the doldrums in January so I was pleased one dreary day when the phone rang; it didn’t happen often because we were ex-directory – we didn’t want customers phoning all the time to see if we had sold little Johnny’s football shorts. It was Jamie. I recognised his voice and I could tell from the sound of it that he was smiling and I had a big grin on my face. He told me he would be in London on the 5th of January and could I possibly meet him for lunch.

‘Oh my goodness that’s next week.’
‘Is that alright Pat? We can make it later in the month if you like.’
‘No that’s perfect. It’s just I can’t believe I’m going to see you after all this time.’

We hadn’t seen each other since 1949 when we parted at Moseley St bus Station.

We basked in mutual wonder and delight. That’s all I can remember. After the phone call from Jamie I was shaken out of the dreamy state I had been in since his letter. There was no problem about the date – it was one of the days when I didn’t need to go into the shop and I had often spent the day in London – not so often recently, as I became less enamoured of city life. But the thought of Jamie seeing me as a middle aged woman unnerved me a little. Thirty years ago I had been young, gauche, quite pretty and innocent. Now I was middle aged. Two years earlier I had visited a health farm and started to take my own health seriously. I stopped smoking, ate healthily, cut down on alcohol and took up Yoga. I let my hair go back to its natural colour – deep honey- and now looked more healthy than glamorous. I don’t care if it was vain: I wanted him to see me looking my absolute best. What to wear? As an actress I knew how one could so easily change the impression one gave. I had a very pretty, pale orangey- coral, fine wool dress I had bought for # I son’s first girl friend’s wedding. It was feminine and showed off my figure. It was a very cold January so I just stuck my mink on top. This was the seventies, before the anti- fur brigade, and I had earned it by years of hard work in the shop. I had mixed emotions travelling on the train and tried to curb the sudden thrills of wild excitement. Just remember, I told myself, the years of unhappiness and guilt you have felt because of this man. You are in charge, you are your own person and you have managed to live a perfectly good life without him.

We met at the Charing Cross Hotel - right next to my station. He was leaning against a pillar – apparently absorbed in a newspaper just like he had been when Maddie and I met him outside his college in Oxford– decades earlier. He looked nice in a blue -ish suit with a blue and white checked shirt. His hair was still dark and curly but when I looked closely my heart went out to him and I could see the lines of stress and grief etched on his face.

(When I first met his doctor he told me Jamie was a saint the way he had cared for his sick wife and family, and he was Saint Jamie for some time after that.)

We repaired to Eleanor’s Bar in the hotel, where he was staying. He had a gin and I had a scotch or two. He said he liked scotch too much. We talked – he said I would find he didn’t talk much and from then on I could hardly get a word in edgeways. He had a quaint habit of using a note book to illustrate what he was saying and I could tell from the tremor in his hand that he was even more nervous than I was. We had lunch in the large formal dining room and we both had fish but it might as well have been cotton wool. We were in a sort of bubble - cocooned from the rest of the world. Still talking, we walked down to the river and when Jamie was greeted by an acquaintance, I could see by the man’s face that he was aware of the bubble even though we weren’t holding hands. There were no silences and we flitted from the present to the past, carefully skirting round potentially difficult subjects. I do remember saying that I believed it hadn’t been the right time for us, or one of us would have tried harder to keep us afloat. Later on, when I had a moment of cold feet he remembered this and gave me the courage to go through with leaving my marriage.

After tea we went to his room to freshen up: he told me he had to shave twice a day and we continued chatting through the bathroom door whilst he shaved and I powdered my nose. All we did was talk; there was so much to catch up with. Neither of us was hungry so we continued walking and talking until it was time for my last train. At our meeting we had given each other an ‘old friend type kiss on the cheek’ and at the end of the evening we again exchanged an O.F.T.K.O.T.C. but he hugged me and held me close and sighed ‘Ah Pat... ’ and as I rested my head against his chest I felt a momentary panic. Supposing it all went wrong again. He was so vulnerable. Was I about to leap from the frying pan into the fire? I knew this was not an ending but the start of something that would change my life for ever.

That was 30 years ago today. Later the same year we were married and have been together ever since. We consider 5 to be our lucky number; my home was number five and so was MTL’s as was his cottage in Yorkshire. We had five children between us and on our fifth meeting we plighted out troth. Our wedding date was the 23rd of November to incorporate our lucky number – worked out by Maddie. I remember thinking if we could just have ten years, but one grows greedy with the years and thirty have passed in a flash.

An edited version of this appeared in Sarah J Peach's book 'You're not the only One.'

Sunday, January 04, 2009


Those of you who have been with me a long while , please forgive me if tomorrow’s post is familiar, but the timing of two x thirty years seemed significant especially as I was just working on that period.

Tomorrow night we’ll eat out at our local Italian to celebrate, and before that I must try to repair the ravages of the past few weeks. So much for my healthy walks on North Hill which didn’t happen, but I am– with the aid of a piece of rubber – doing shoulder exercises and have graduated from a soft yellow to a stiff scarlet

Friday, January 02, 2009


Today I switched off – mentally - and had a pleasant time blog visiting. I’ve decided I deserve Nul Points for my filing, which is atrocious but I managed to find evidence that I bought the printer last July (doesn’t one lose track?) and have three year’s insurance. Coincidentally I got a letter today from P.C. World saying that my scanner insurance was running out and if I renewed it I would get a free health check for my ‘puter and the dear knows it needs it- blimey does it need it.

Have a good week-end every body. See you on Monday – it’s a special day

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year’s Day P.S.

One lovely thing happened today. After breakfast – anxious to get on I said to MTL:
‘Is it OK if I leave you with this?’
‘Yes -but you’re not allowed to leave me.’ he rejoined and got a big smacker for his pains.
New Year’s Day

The best laid plans of mice and men…
I got to page 283(total 292)and the printer packed up. After wasting an hour or so trying to fix it I started getting dots and dashes on my precious document which panicked me, then messages saying too many windows open and no means of closing them. I finished working on the printed stuff so there are only the remaining 9 pages to complete, and unplugged everything.

Tomorrow I hope to be round to visit everybody – to cheer myself up. Did Virginia suffer like this? No wonder she had pebbles in her pockets.