Monday, November 29, 2010

These photos didn't come through first time. Sorry.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Girls just want to have fun - especially in their sixties

Hats off to Felicity(bendy) Kendal, Pamela Stephenson and Ann Widdecombe for joining in the marathon of Strictly Come Dancing

Back at the end of the week

Friday, November 26, 2010

Here comes the snow!
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To go or not to go?

For weeks I have been dithering; should I or should I not take advantage of MTL’s daughter’s visit and nip into the next county to visit our nearest son and his family for a couple of nights? MTL was all in favour as was his daughter. And when the nurse came this week and checked his progress she thought it was fine. It’s all booked and the plan is we see the chemo doctor Monday lunchtime and then MTL drops me at the station to get a train to Warminster and picks up his daughter who has travelled from Norfolk. Then I return on Wednesday – just two nights away.

It will be lovely to see all my son’s family including his two step - grandchildren, one of whom I have yet to meet. The four cats are good value and we usually manage a walk on Salisbury Plain.

We are due to start the second cycle today, our usual nurse won’t be here (but there is a replacement) as she is organising a big event for ‘Help the Heroes’ at our local Marine camp. When I asked her how many cycles there would be she wasn’t sure. It could be six or twelve but maybe the doctor can tell us on Monday.

Now we are promised icy weather and snow and travel may be impossible. So it is in the lap of the gods and I’ll take what comes.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wine and Roses

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.
They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for awhile, then closes
Within a dream.

Ernest Dowson 1867 - 1900

MTL was determined, chemo or no chemo, this was going to be a good anniversary and it was. Somehow he managed to get flowers, chocolates, champagne and a most beautiful card - without my knowledge.

We had a quiet, lazy, pottering day with plenty of time to spruce up for dinner at the Northfield. MTL wore one of the new shirts I bought to accommodate his more sylphlike figure and I wore the new jacket he gave me. It is very pretty – black lace on oyster silk and I had an oyster top of the same shade. But then there was the battle of the bulge which has appeared from nowhere, so my new black Basler skirt which I bought in Monique’s closing down sale was a touch tight round where my waist should be and the oyster top lovingly clung to every ripple.

Change to plain black trousers, black top plus the new jacket and the wardrobe malfunction was sorted. Maybe if I cut out the chocolate and horlicks I can lose the couple of pounds which seem to have settled round my midriff.

The Northfield Hotel is just round the other side of the hill but we were surprised to see the road lined with cars and just one space in the car park. Apparently it was the Bridge Club night. They were in a separate large room but the bars and dining room were buzzing with guests. Encouraging these days when pubs and hotels are closing down all the time.

I remembered they had about five courses so stuck to melon balls, consommé, grilled plaice, a luscious chocolatey pud and eschewed the cheese course. After coffee and chocs we came home and had some of the port left over from our Christmas hamper. As usual we had spent the evening reminiscing about previous years and some of the lovely places we have visited. We are still trying to remember the name of the place in the Lake District where we stayed at The Bridge Hotel which had a sort of fairy glen where MTL proposed. It has a b in it somewhere.

The nurse comes today to take blood before the next cycle starts on Friday – so this isn't entirely a free week. Still onward and upward.

PS It was Buttermere.

PPS MTL has gained 2 lbs.

My card to him recalled our time in Venice.
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A Beautiful 4 in 1 Anniversary Card

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Mood Swings

You sound cheerier now.’ Joy said.

I had phoned her to see how she was coping with her new knee. I wondered why – when I visited her last week - she had found me un-cheery. I thought back and remembered I had been pretty down in the dumps last week but I couldn’t think of a good reason for it particularly as I am presently feeling reasonably happy and optimistic. It’s bad enough getting the glooms but one shouldn’t affect others especially when they have just come out of hospital. Must do better.

One of the reasons I felt lost was I didn’t have a good book to read and was desperately re- reading old stuff. At this stage of life, happiness seems to be a good book – certainly a comfort blanket. All is well now. I’ve practically finished the book Charlie so kindly sent me and on my bedside locker, awaiting my delectation, is Rachel’s holiday by Marian Keyes ( Nea introduced me to her and her writing is a joy) and True North by Kimberly Kafka also suggested by Nea. Some of the best books I have read have been suggested by blogging friends and they cover a wide spectrum.

The other night I was reading in bed and started to shake with laughter. MTL asked why I was laughing. I told him I was reading Charlie’s gift – Carol Burnett’s This Time Together and read it to him with tears running down my face. Carol and her husband shared an obstetrician with the Sha of Iran’s sister and were invited to the princess’s house warming party. It was all very formal, they didn’t know a soul and after standing drinking cocktails for an hour on the terrace, they escaped through a beaded curtain into an exotic room furnished with huge silk pillows instead of chairs.

Carol and Joe sank down into the pillows, as uncomfortable as all hell because there was nothing to lean against. They were joined by the Princess and asking if she may join them, sat down between them and didn’t sink to the floor so towered above them. Carol convinced she must have thighs of steel.

They sat all three looking in the same direction as if waiting for a bus. To break the awkward silence Carol started burbling on – with no help from Joe and desperately ended up talking about Rice Crispies which caused my tears of laughter. You’ll have to read it – I daren’t risk breaking copyright laws. The next chapter where Carol brings happiness to a dying child causes tears of another kind.

Do you have a safety net when the outlook darkens? Do share it if you have.

PS Just realised it is 22nd November 2010 and the 80th birthday of Sir Peter Hall.

Happy Birthday Sir Peter and I hope your wish comes true and someone gives you a theatre. You deserve it after all you have done for the arts world wide and long may you continue with your undiminished fervour.

Sir Peter Hall - 80 today.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Wittering On

I don’t like the silences so forgive my wittering. Actually I’ve got a guilty secret – you know I always said that Facebook and Twitter held no interest for me? Well now I’ve discovered Scrabble and I’m hooked. So much more satisfying than those endless games in the sixties where the same culprits always took forever to get a four letter word and the ones who would sneak out to consult a hidden dictionary and the endless rows about permissible words – some of then quite disgusting. One friend would start planning his word immediately after his move and have a hissy fit when, inevitably, someone sabotaged it. Well there’s none of that. THEY tell you what is invalid or not and although I don’t always agree, one accepts it. And I love the trilling sound when you record your move.

Just now I have four games on the go although one lady who appeared from nowhere seems to have returned to nowhere. There are two old blogging friends – Kim and Beleek and a girl I first met on a computer course. Then there is the American equivalent Lexius? (there is a copyright problem with Scrabble in the US)I’m playing Kenju and wouldn’t you know all my opponents are winning

But I expect to improve and rout the lot of them. I’ve notice that some of the bloggers who disappeared are happily chattering away on Facebook and no doubt Twitter also.

When Madonna sings ‘I’ve heard it all before I want to join in. Just this morning Lord Young is in the dog house for intimating we have never had it so good. Do they NEVER learn?

This was in 1957

The British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, has made an optimistic speech telling fellow Conservatives that "most of our people have never had it so good".

And there was the same explosive reaction

Even seeing a young couple sitting in the same positions and sporting that same ring was déjà vu but I sincerely hope there is a happy ending. I wouldn’t say I was a Royalist but I think they are a decent couple and if their wedding brings a bit of glamour and trade to our beleaguered land – Hooray!

November is a busy month – we already had MTL’s birthday, next week is our 31st wedding anniversary – MTL’s free chemo week – a meal has been booked, my best friend has a birthday and my # 1 son has a birthday. I’m going to enjoy it before the Christmas palaver. Never say never – I always swore I would never send round robins but this year to bring old friends up to speed I think I will have to.

Scrabble anyone?

I've heard it all before!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A spot of bother

Firefox keeps crashing. I'll try to do a post in the morning when I hope normal service will be resumed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Word in your Shell-like.

To respond to violence with violence is to increase the darkness on a night already devoid of stars.

Martin Luther King JR

Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means of going backwards.

Aldous Huxley

We can’t all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb as they go by.

Will Rogers

People only see what they are prepared to see.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Action may not always bring happiness but there is no happiness without action.

Benjamin Disraeli

Experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing.

Oscar Wilde

No matter how good you get you can always get better and that’s the exciting part.

Tiger Woods

A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles

Washington Irving

A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.

John Steinbeck

Experience is simple the name we give our mistakes.

Oscar Wilde

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.


Short is the joy that guilty pleasure brings


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Free today - Aung San Suu Kyi

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Three reasons to be cheerful

Today Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese opposition politician has been released from house arrest after 15 years. She was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1991 and is known to her followers as The Lady

Despite being the democratically elected leader of the country, Burma's military junta have kept Suu Kyi under house arrest for over a decade. She will still be reluctant to travel for fear of being permanently exiled from her country but this is a step in the right direction.

Last week we saw our jolly surgeon and – DV - we don’t have to see him again until next April when he will do another scan and examination. He thought the patient was looking well and admired his almost invisible scar. He asked how we were coping with the chemo and I mentioned the surgery was easier to deal with because it was straight forward; Chemo is more complicated and with possible side effects I felt I was watching MTL like a hawk. He reassured me and said nothing would happen in a hurry and he is being monitored throughout. We thanked him for all he has done and he said it was ‘an absolute pleasure.’

Finally yesterday I got a sturdy parcel from America from my dear friend Charlie.

It is a beautiful book This Time Together – Carol Burnett’s autobiography. Charlie inscribed it: For Pat – A Storyteller’s Book for A Wonderful Storyteller.

Isn’t that a lovely gift? I have been meaning to read it since Naomi wrote about it some time ago. So I think you’ll agree I have reasons to be cheerful and I hope all of you have also.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Poppies in my Garden

Poppies are a reminder of all the blood men and women have spilt fighting for their country. They do not glorify war. I hate war and a daily prayer is:

Please let there be an end to war and bloodshed, fighting and bombing, terrorism and torture, suffering and oppression. Please save the children, feed the world and let there be peace and love throughout the world.

Anthem for Doomed Youth

What passing bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Onlythe stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.

Excerpt from Wilfred Owen's poem.
Wilfred Owen 1893-1918
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Monday, November 08, 2010

Titles and Plots

‘Oh pish!’ I thought when Julian Fellowes named his book Past Imperfect published in 2008. When I started my blog in January 2006 I had named it Past Imperfect and planned to use the same title for my memoir. I discovered that Joan Collins had used it in 1978 for her autobiography but, as there is no copyright for book titles, I admire Joan and it was published last century it seemed reasonable to use it again. I’m still searching for the right title.

Last night on BBC1 TV was the final episode of the period drama Downton Abbey written by…Julian Fellowes. At first I thought it was just another Upstairs, Downstairs that fine TV series from 1971 written by actresses Eileen Atkins and Jean Marsh there are many similarities

In spite of the large viewing audience some of them have pointed out historical inaccuracies, spotting a television aerial, double yellow lines on the road and a very modern looking conservatory( it is set in Edwardian times) Then there were rumblings about sections of the plot; suggesting that parts had been plagiarised from the novel Little Women and the 1942 film Mrs Miniver.

‘All we get is this permanent negative nit- picking from the Left. The real problem is with people who are insecure socially,’ says Mr Fellowes, whose wife is lady- in- waiting to Princess Michael. There’s posh!

I have to say that although both the film and the book are old favourites of mine I wasn’t troubled by any plot similarities.

There are said to be only seven basic plots in literature – or 39, or a 100 depending on who is being quoted. The point is that some are bound to be recycled from time to time.

‘Who can say what is lodged in one’s brain? I am not conscious of lifting either, but it doesn’t mean they are wrong,’ was Fellowes’ response and I sympathise with him.

I have watched every episode and found it to be perfect Sunday night television. The casting director deserves an award; every one of the large cast is just right and Dame Maggie Smith was born to play the Dowager Countess of Grantham

There was a time when her acting became as camp as Christmas – but that was decades ago and she has since proved to be one of the best actresses in living memory.

The plot threads are shared between the family and below stairs with a certain amount of skilful intertwining. There was no happy ending – WW1 had just broken out, a love affair has gone wrong and – without giving the story away - there is a tragedy in the family. It is already out on DVD and in spite of the flaws – the Dowager Countess would not have said:

‘Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

I urge you to watch it for some escapist entertainment.

There is a new series commissioned for next year and I believe there is going to be an updated version of Upstairs, Downstairs. That should set the cat amongst the pigeons.

Downton Abbey

Some of the magnificent cast - the missing ones are also superb.
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Friday, November 05, 2010

Birthday Outing

We were undecided where to go but when our chemo Nurse C visited us for the first time on Wednesday, she happened to mention her favourite place for a meal was The Rising Sun at West Bagborough. This is a little village this side of Taunton and I had only been there once - years ago with the girls. We decided to take a chance and discovered that C was right - this is a special place. The host made a point of welcoming us and making sure all was well without being intrusive. The food was first rate and worth the slightly more expensive price. It was a birthday after all. The drive there was beautiful with the Quantocks predominately diffferent shades of gold, brightening the dullish day.

Back home our post prandial torpor almost made us forget the fireworks. They were fantastic and comfortably watched from the guest room window facing the sea. Full marks to whoever organised it.
At one pm today C comes and we start the process - 2 weeks on, one week off. C was reassuring and emphasised that we should never feel it was too late or too early to phone if we were worried. There was always someone at the end of a phone. And it seems I must break the habit of a lifetime and have a thermometer in the house
At least they are much better and easier these days than the mercury ones. Here we go on the next big adventure.

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Flowers from my bouquet - are the orange ones zinnias?

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

For MTL - Happy Birthday darling.

Oh what a lovely surprise!

Cards and presents have been arriving for the birthday boy ( MTL’s birthday is on the 4th) but there in the kitchen was a large box.

‘Why haven’t you opened it?’ I asked MTL.

‘It’s for you.’

I checked and it was and I was puzzled. Nowhere near my birthday, too early for Christmas? I opened it carefully to find the most beautiful bouquet full of vibrant colours, roses and freesias in bud, carnations, berries and large daisy faced ones which I think may be zinnias. There was a large white vase – ideal to show off the riot of colour and a box of delectable chocolates.

It was when I read the note that I lost my composure and couldn’t answer when MTL asked who it was from. The note said:

Dear Pat, because you are a tower of strength. Love from…

It was from our Australian family half of whom will visit us in January. As MTL says waggishly:

‘Which half – top or bottom?’

Just for the record I live with ‘The tower of strength’

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A Brighter Outlook on Life

That’s what I expect when I get my new glasses. Reading the newspaper in bed has recently become difficult, so I aimed to have my reading glasses strengthened, but my day ones need changing also. As I couldn’t be without glasses for fortnight I’m having a new pair. Always difficult to choose when one can’t really see the effect without one’s glasses but the nice new optician put me some lenses in to facilitate choosing.

The lightest lenses and the lightest frames and reactolight, varifocals and titanium all shoot the price up but when you consider how important they are to daily life and one’s comfort they are way more important to me than clothes, shoes and handbags.

The good news is the beginnings of a cataract that he noticed last year is dormant and he says my eyesight is better than average FOR MY AGE.

I asked the nice optician if people ever learned the lines of letters by heart but he says he now has a Zapper which changes the lines like changing a TV programme.

Yesterday we had an electrician for half a day to repair our ancient doorbell with connections in each room and a brand new one from Argos. Not surprisingly he failed with the old and pronounced – eventually – the new one to be faulty. He will come again on Monday. The nurses start appearing on Wednesday to take some blood. MTL must have had ‘armfuls’ taken just recently.

Minehead have the great good sense to have the Firework Display on the 4th of November instead of the 5th. Very appropriate because it is MTL’s birthday on the 4th and the eve of his first chemo so we shall try to do something nice and later enjoy the show from the balcony.

We had a moment’s schadenfreude the other day when MTL pointed out a photograph of Sir David Attenborough standing outside his rather nice house on a crazy paving like ours, but in a much worse condition. Quite brightened our day.

Spare a thought for Stephen Fry being attacked by the feminists for some idiotic remark he made about women not liking sex. Come on girls – he is a great wit and is allowed to talk rubbish occasionally. The trouble is he will probably take the diatribe to heart and get upset. But someone has to raise their head above the parapet.