Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The best view from the best place


Mine is the one on the right, with the seriously bad hair (he says he likes it that way, and leave it alone; so I shall). .

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Advice to my (much) younger self

Apparently Victoria Beckham has published in Vogue advice to her 18-year-old self. This set me thinking. So here's some advice to my own young self (schooldays to early twenties, growing up in the sixties):

Just because no-one from the boys' grammar school wants to dance with you at the after-school ballroom dancing lessons does not mean that you are finished as a woman. You're not even started yet, (with your 32AA chest). Have faith.

Don't go to university just because you have the grades. (You were right when you said you'd hate it.)

That vein on the back of your leg that you stress endlessly about because you think you'll get varicose veins doesn't necessarily mean it will happen (it didn't).

Do try harder at tennis. Being relegated to the bottom of the playing field with two equally un-gifted friends to throw a discus will do you no good at all. Neither will making daisy chains and talking about boys. Tennis just might.

Getting your pet mice out in Miss B's scripture lesson is neither funny nor clever. You know the poor woman can't keep discipline - that's why you did it - and it isn't  kind.

Being kind is the most important thing of all; even more important than looking good in hot pants and mini-skirts. So: always try to be kind.

Notice old people. They may be more interesting than you think, and they're certainly more interesting than you are.

Ringing up a  boy you fancy to ask if you left your umbrella in his car isn't cool. You know and I know that you don't even own an umbrella.

And talking of  boys (still): when a boy says "see you around", he means just that. He's finished with you. Get over it.

And later on:  when at the end of an evening out a man asks you back for coffee, he does not, repeat not, mean coffee. He probably doesn't even like coffee. He has other things on his mind. If you like his brand of "coffee", then go for it. Otherwise decline politely and go home.

Lastly, be kind (again). Try to be happy and make others happy. Marry the right man (I did. Twice).

What single piece of advice would you give to your younger self? And did you follow it?

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Please leave my grammar alone!

For many years I wrote magazine short stories, and I still write the odd one. I'm used to names, punctuation and other things being changed on publication, and I don't mind too much, but in a recent story "I" is printed instead of the accusative "me" ("she hated letting my brother and I...." was in the published version. Horrors!). This is an abuse I really hate. Okay, I'm a pedant. But even pedants must have some rights....haven't we?

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

My difficult relationship with poached eggs


Poached eggs and I have a poor relationship. Oh, I can eat them all right - no probem - but I cannot for the life of me make one.

Look at the poached egg in the picture. Lovely, isn't it? The yolk neatly swaddled like a newborn baby in its smooth white blanket. But not mine. Ooooh no. Mine all, and I mean all, turn out to look like ghosts, trailing flimsy strands of ectoplasm (or even "trailing clouds of glory"*) behind them. Half the ectoplasm always remains behind,  drifting forlornly in the saucepan, too decimated to bother with, and then sticks and is impossible to scrub off.

Please don't tell me to:
Use boiling water
Use simmering water
Use off-the-boil-altogether water
Add vinegar
No vinegar
Swirl the water
Don't swirl the water
Use fresh eggs
Use old eggs

For I have tried all these things, and the result, every time, is another ghost.

So I bought an egg poacher; one of those saucepans that have little plastic nests for the eggs. That'll teach them, I thought. They can't jump out of that. But this didn't work, either. They stuck to the nests, and weren't done properly, because how do you know when they're cooked underneath?

So I've decided to give up on the poached eggs. Next time, I shall fry them. You know where you are with a fried egg.

*Wordsworth

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Why I am not an Olympic athlete


Just imagine doing this: spending your life - and in particular, the last four years - practising (for example) long jump. Every day consisting of run-run-run-run-run....and JUMP....and land in a sandpit. And that's it. Again, and again, and again. It makes my brain hurt just thinking about it. The sheer monotony of it. And the effect on normal life:

'Cup of tea, dear?'
' I'll just do one more jump first.'
'Glass of wine?'
'I can't, because of my diet.'
'Oh, of course, silly me. Then I'll just have one myself, shall I?'

And so on, and so on. For four years.

I'm sure they have to do the whole keep fit thing,  as well (which presumably makes a change). But still.

Then there are the really weird ones, like  putting the shot (what exactly is that for?. And you don't just put it; you have to throw it. A long way.

Running I just about get because running can be useful (think wild bears and missed buses), but most of it just leaves me bewildered.

But never mind. Good luck to them all, bless them. They certainly deserve it.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

A writer's life: waiting

One of the hardest parts of a writer's life is waiting. Waiting for That Important Reply. Waiting for editor/agent/publisher or whoever to get back with a verdict on the last precious (or not so precious) offering.

Today, I have faffed about, checked my emails about a hundred times, faffed about some more, visited some blogs, bought a birthday card, chatted to daughter on the phone ( a favourite waiting activity), done a crossword puzzle,  and ....waited. I'm still waiting. Will that person email after 5.30? Of course not. On the other hand, she may be so carried away by the brilliance of my work that she just has to let me know NOW, even if it's two in the morning. So I'll carry on checking my emails. Just in case....

Tomorrow, we have to go to Bristol to buy a bed. That should take my mind off the waiting, but of course, it won't. Waiting and bed-buying are, sadly, not mutually exclusive. So I shall probably just buy the wrong bed and lie awake on it worrying.

 And waiting....

Friday, 29 July 2016

Things I have learnt recently

1. That Phoebe really misses my posts, although she's not a follower (come on, Phoebe. Make me up to 128). So this is for her.

2. That marrying off my youngest son is both wonderful and emotional (I'm not his next of kin any more, although he has a wonderful new wife who has taken over the job. I'm not being a creep here as none of my family read my blog, apart from Phoebe).

3. That applying nail varnish to the eyelashes ( having confused it with eyelash stuff) is an exeptionally bad idea. Think about it.

4. That the best way to find unswept-up fragments of broken glass is to walk about with bare feet, and voila! There they all are!

5. That we need more sticking plaster ( see 4 above).

6. That I haven't got any more things done since cutting down on the blog (so what exactly HAVE I done? ).

7. That there are bee orchids on the downs where I ride. I've seen every other sort, but bee orchids only this year. They are truly beautiful.

8. That my daughter really is a domestic goddess. Sadly, she doesn't get it from me.

9. Something I haven't learned yet: what exactly do those gangly spindly spiders that live in sheds eat? We have lots (of spiders, not sheds), and they just dangle there, waiting. Come on, spiders. Even I can see there are NO FLIES. Ours is a no fly zone. What exactly are you all waiting for? Please go away ( I never kill spiders. I just Hoover up the webs. Making new ones gives them something to do).