Friday, November 29, 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Alice and Tom

They are coming tonight with their Dad.  It's his birthday.
Alice will show me how to get a scanned photo of them onto Picasa
which is 20 years more relevant to their age now.  Twenties.
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Monday, November 25, 2013



"I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is a delicate exotic fruit, touch it and the bloom is gone." 
~The Importance of Being Earnest, 
Oscar Wilde

Joey – the innocent, heroic young man presently providing much needed nourishment for the contestants in ‘I’m a celebrity …’ comes to mind when I hear this quote.

A favourite Joeyism:

I don’t confrontate.’ 

Noel Coward:

When asked why he would not "come out" in his final years and announce his sexual preference:
"Because there are still three old ladies in Brighton who don't know.”

Bea Lillie:
Noel and I were in Paris once. Adjoining rooms, of course. One night, I felt mischievous, so I knocked on Noel's door and he asked, "Who is it?" I lowered my voice and said, "Hotel detective. Have you got a gentleman in your room?" He answered, "Just a minute, I'll ask him."

John Lahr:
"We're talking about a style that became a way of being for a lot of people. English cultural history between the world wars is, in some extremely large part, Noël Coward. He put himself into the narrative the English tell themselves about their struggles, their suffering, their triumphs. In the first half of this century he wrote the songs that homogenized, as it were, English public sentiment; he wrote the great historical pageant of the time (Cavalcade) and the era's great romantic story (the film Brief Encounter, 1945)."

A favourite of mine was when Coward was watching with a friend the Queen’s Coronation procession and saw the quite large Queen of Tonga passing in a carriage.

Who’s that with her,’ asked the friend.

‘Lunch,’ said Noel.


Jane Austen:

‘I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice though, not in principle.’


Dodie Smith:

Contemplation seems to be about the only luxury that costs nothing.’


Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cures for depression.


Dorothy Parker


If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be surprised.


Have you got a favourite example of wit? I’d love to hear them.



Friday, November 22, 2013


NOW - can we finish the garage roof?
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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Where everybody knows your name.

Where everybody knows your name

Some time back we decided to give our nearest eating place Bistro 16 a try.  We liked the food, the ambience and especially Kym (with a Y) and Robin the husband and wife team who ran it.  During the last nine months since MTL left me I have really grown to  appreciate a place ‘where everybody knows your name’ and you are  made welcome – not just by Kym and the staff but by the other customers who react like flowers to the sunshine of Kym’s smile and banter.  Many of the clientele go every day and Kym knows all their little idiosyncrasies.  It amuses me how many of them sit at separate tables whilst joining in the general conversation.

The other day Kym said:

‘I hope you don’t mind my asking but didn’t you used to be a model.  I’d love to see your photos sometime.’
 Normally this makes me groan inwardly as I always think people expect Richard Avedon type shots whereas I was more ‘the girl next door’ type model.  However for a while I had been trying to pluck up courage to ask her for an interview as I had always felt a connection - so it was good to know she was happy about my doing a profile on her.

Kym is in her early fifties with a vibrant personality. Robin - and yes he is her true love, is her second husband and like me, she waited until her children had left home before ending her marriage.  She met Robin through a dating agency which was a postal service.  Both of them were sent five possibilities and both their names were top of each other’s list as being most suitable.  Robin was the fifth candidate that Kym met and she said:

‘It was like coming home.’ 

 I recognised the deep contentment of a woman whose husband’s chief aim is to make his wife happy.

 Kym spent her first 43 years in Droitwich Spa – a town in northern Worcestershire situated on massive deposits of salt which have been extracted there since ancient times.  The water is ten times stronger in salt than sea water and is rivalled only by the Dead Sea.

An only child Kym used to love to visit her Bompits (grandfather) in Minehead and she remembers, aged 12 - buying a book on horses in a shop opposite to what is now Bistro 16.  Way back the Bistro was a bank – the basement has been concreted over and myth has it there is still money stored in the sealed up coffers.

Bompits was an amateur photographer and Kym used to sleep in his dark room which was painted black.  To take her mind off the resident spiders she would pretend to be a Dalek and recited the alphabet in a Dalek voice so – naturally - Granddad became Bompits.  I remembered she told me recently that she made up recipes when she couldn’t sleep and I enjoyed one of the results - a liquorice cheese cake.

She was trained in horsemanship by the Olympic champion John Lassiter, is still extremely fit and loves her golf.  She had three children and her first marriage lasted 23 years. She is trained in aerobics, has sold children’s clothes, jewellery and in her thirties started acting – which she loved – and gained an equity card.  She did some TV and photographic work and at one time had her own business selling overseas a fuel saving device for the poultry industry.

In her thirties there was a contest to choose the Carnival Queen - Miss Bromsgrove and she and a friend wrote a comedy skit on beauty contests.  Then one of the contestants had to withdraw and Kym was invited to take her place.  To everybody’s surprise Kym won it and there was muttering from the teenage contestants and their followers.  So much so that Kym was ignored and didn’t get any of the normal invitations that a Carnival Queen expects.  The unfairness of this was taken up by the Press and as a result Kym appeared on The David Frost show, That’s Life. ITV’s Today and all the papers.

During her year as Queen she earned a great deal of money for charity by organising a fashion show for Debenhams with a story line

Eventually her marriage failed because she and her husband had widely differing interests.

After Kym met Robin they visited Bruges where Kym had an Epiphany.
They were strolling down a boulevard of cafes with customers sitting outside when Kym was entranced by some beautiful music.  She persuaded Robin they should sit inside - the better to hear this fantastic musical trio. Not only did the beauty of the music bring tears to her eyes but she was fascinated by the Madame – a soignée woman who glided round the restaurant ensuring all was running smoothly and gracing the room with her presence. There and then Kym determined she was going to be that woman.

Meanwhile the musicians noticed they had moved a customer to tears and clustered round her whilst she tried to eat her steak and sob without slobbering too much.

Back in Minehead they bought a guesthouse with 8 bedrooms and Kim learned the importance of the green baize door.  She freely admits that she was going through the menopause at this time so on one side of the door side she was a monster blaming Robin for anything and everything whilst on the other side she was the adorable Madame.  Then they planned to buy The Rectory which required much renovation but were beaten to the post by someone else who then went bust.

So they bought Peppercorns which morphed into Bistro 16.  It hasn’t all been plain sailing.  They inherited a group of elderly ladies who believed they owned the restaurant.  They would come every day at coffee time and sit there till the afternoon demanding their quite grubby cushions which had been stored behind the bar.  Kym had to point out that behind the bar was out of bounds for customers. 

It was only a matter of time before Kym heard the ringleader bad mouthing the food to new customers and was forced to bar her.

Very different from today’s happy customers.

Sadly nothing lasts forever and tragedy struck when Robin’s son died.  Now they both want to be nearer to their extended family so they can see their grandchildren’s school concert and similar occasions – not too close to be constant baby sitters however.  Businesses are slow to move but sooner or later theirs will be sold – we shall be the losers and Kym and Robin will start their next big adventure.

See photos below.


Where everybody knows your name

Kym at Bistro 16

Kym with regular Vi - a Londoner who used to work on the buses
now aged 95.
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It’s being so cheerful…


Autumn hath all the summer’s fruitful treasure;

Gone is our sport, fled is our Corydon’s pleasure!

Short days, sharp days, long nights come on apace:

 Ah, who shall hide us from the winter’s face?

Cold doth increase, the sickness will not cease,

And here we lie, God knows, with little ease,

From winter, plague, and pestilence, good Lord, deliver us!


Thomas Nashe 1567-1601

See below photos

It's being so cheerful...

Autumn tints from the garden

And all these leaves will fall - on my lawn.

Mum's acer - which was meant to be shoulder height, is glowing.
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Saturday, November 09, 2013



The one day – for ages - that I was not totally respectable by 8.30am my handyman calls catching me in a dressing gown – and surprise surprise it was still raining.  I did get up at 7.45am but then had a lazy breakfast and, on an impulse, started defrosting the one fridge that still has to be defrosted.

He examined the relevant part of the roof after his cuppa and pronounced it tile perfect - it’s just that when wind and rain are so relentless and coming in horizontally rain gets in.  Whilst he was here he removed detritus from the back porch roof and once I was respectable again asked if I was pleased with Alastair’s office since he decorated it.  I showed him the finished result and he couldn’t have been more pleased.  He has seen its many faces over the years.

Now we wait for a dry spell to finish off the garage roof and he has promised to drop a bill in soon - something he is always slow to do.

Somewhat weary of household problems I’m going to give myself a treat on Monday night – stay up a little later and watch BBC4 10pm - 11.25pm Folie a Deux. 


It is a documentary tracing the efforts of a couple to convert a historic mansion in York into a luxury hotel.

 Yes I know it sounds a little déjà vu and it isn’t just schadenfreude.  Having seen Helen Heraty on Breakfast TV I’m sure if anyone can overcome insurmountable difficulties she can and it is said to end on a note of poignant positivity.

As it says in the blurb:

This confirms that great British eccentrics continue to thrive, but you wouldn’t necessarily want to live next door to them
See photo below.




Helen Heraty - Folie a Deux.
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Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Trouble with the Elements.

Today was a rare day; I didn’t have to get up early (when the alarm goes off at 6.15am) but at 5am I was struggling to find gum boots, torch, big umbrella and keys to investigate the machine gun sound which had wakened me.

Funny how one’s brain seizes up sometimes and it takes a while to remember the quickest exit to the garden, where the sun room keys are and where one’s glasses are to see the lock to turn the key.  I was up and down the stairs and all over the house before I finally got out.  Meanwhile the rat-a tat–tat was relentless.

One of the workmen had left a plastic plate and a plastic bird house and an enormous drip was causing the noise.  When I moved the plate it all quietened down.

At the other side of the house I think I have a tile missing because there was a wet patch on the carpet of a bedroom and a bucket I placed was half full next day.

I’m expecting my handy man hourly but the drips have stopped so I’m not going to panic.  Yet.
I’ve never seen deluges like this.  It’s fine to live on a hill – as long as we don’t get a repeat of the Lynmouth disaster and are swept down to the sea.

Lovely news yesterday.  One of our male members had been absent for a few weeks and I was worried; last month one of our men who had recently had a stroke refused to eat and died.

I phoned P and left a message and then heard from him that he wouldn’t be coming to the group as he had met someone and didn’t feel bereaved anymore.  I was happy for him but felt it was a bit hard to just write off the group so suddenly.  He had been a member for well over a year.  The opposite of being a ‘fair weather’ friend.

We were mulling this over yesterday and finally our leader said she had something to tell us.  She was the mysterious lady and she had told P not to come as it could be awkward.  I was relieved that P hadn’t behaved with uncharacteristic thoughtlessness and after much discussion we agreed he would be very welcome at our more social meetings.  It is exciting – V is in her fifties, has never been married and has been a carer for much of her life both with her parents and grand-mother.

V then came and had lunch with Joy and me and we had a lovely girly gossip.
I’ve been a bridesmaid three times – but never a matron of honour.  Just sayin’.


Monday, November 04, 2013

Chad, The National and a Special date

Chad Varah founder of the Samaritans

:Laurence Olivier - Lord Olivier who preferred 'Sir Larry'.

See below
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Chad, the National and a Special day

Sixty years ago Chad Varah – a London vicar - founded Samaritans.  He was inspired by an experience he had as a young curate in Lincoln when a 14 year old girl killed herself.  She believed she had an STD when in reality she was just menstruating.
 Varah advertised for people to volunteer at his church to listen to people contemplating suicide.  The movement grew and there are now 203 branches across the UK and Ireland.

 In 2004 the number of volunteers had diminished and they campaigned to recruit more young people.  Phil Selway a drummer with the band Radiohead and a volunteer himself fronted the campaign.

 The Samaritans is a telephone helpline which operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  There is also a drop-in service for face to face discussion and they train prisoners as’Listeners’ to provide support within prisons.  Recently they have started sending teams out on to the street.

 The Samaritans have always stressed that the service they provide is not counselling and will not give advice.  Although they are trained in many of the same techniques as professional counsellors they neither judge nor tell people what to do.  By listening and asking questions the volunteers help people explore their feelings and work their own way forward.

 Samaritans do not denounce suicide and it is not necessary to be suicidal to contact them.  They believe that by giving people the opportunity to be listened to in confidence and accepted without prejudice enables them to explore their feelings and work their own way forward.

 There is a strict code of confidentiality, even after the death of a caller.  This is only broken on rare occasions such as when Samaritans receive a bomb or terrorist warnings or when a caller is threatening volunteers or deliberately preventing the service being used by other callers.


On a lighter note it is the 50th anniversary of our great National Theatre which first started in 1963 at the Old Vic under Laurence Olivier.

 ‘ 800 productions later we are marking our half century with a short season celebrating the remarkable people and plays that have made the NT one of the most cherished and creative of great British institutions.’
I count myself fortunate to have seen some of these.  I particularly remember the excitement and anticipation before Olivier’s first entrance as Othello.  Of course now it would be unthinkable to have a white actor ‘blacked up’ to play the part but times were different then.  There was a gasp as he appeared; he seemed to have grown in stature – his voice had dropped a couple of octaves, reminiscent of Paul Robeson
And there was a stillness about him which made all his later rage and fury totally riveting. 
Oh and he carried a beautiful long- stemmed red rose on his entrance which we were led to believe was delivered each day by his wife, Joan Plowright, from their garden.

It would have been MTL’s birthday today.  He used to mark important dates in the diaries at the beginning of the year and - unbeknownst to me had written:-


November 4th – A’s Birthday?









Friday, November 01, 2013