Monday 31 January 2011


I'm cold! Cold to my bones.   I'm wearing thick leggings, socks and my forever Uggs and above the waist three layers,consisting of thermal vest, Cashmere polo and a huge red, yellow and blue Penguin double/double thick knit that I dug out from the bottom drawer and which  made only the briefest of appearances last year.
     This has been the coldest winter in eighty years and I will not be surprised - when the people who spend their lives working out these things - tell us that it has also been the grey-est.  So low and grey have been the clouds, and so full of nasty freezing rain, that the fire doesn't draw, filling the room with smoke and fumes - obliging us to open a window - rather negating the point of a fire. En plus de ca my resident Frog always leaves a door open after he has exited into the kitchen [where the wall fire is only turned on when we are in it] or when, as he seems to do every five minutes, asks the dog if he wants to 'chase le chat? ' not a euphemism , Milou definitely does have a hate of next doors midnight black cat, the chief suspect killer of the dead birds we find occasionally. Or perhaps Milou might want to 'pipi?' or simply have a bark at anyone who dares to walk on the pavement on the other side of the hedge. For whatever reason, JP will open the door from the sitting room and hold it gaping wide  as he opens the door into the freezing garden to let the dog out [he probably was simply asking, in his canine way, for his supper, or a scratch, or perhaps was thinking 'Why are you here?']
      The point is that it is he, JP, guardian of the purse, who seldom feels the cold, who surreptitiously turns off the radiators the moment a ray of sunshine pierces the gloom, who curses every time he has to clear out the dead ash, cut the wood, replenish the log basket and bring in the coal -he it is who leaves bloody doors open - letting out the heat which is costing an arm and a leg to slightly [it is a big space] warm  up the room.
      Of course I complain, or else I shiver dramatically and sigh, moving him to drape a blanket over me, wrap another scarf around my neck, or, more likely, simply tell me to get up and move about...though not in those exact words.

      Now I am a 'have it today and damn tomorrow' kind of girl, er, woman.  This cold spell cannot last much longer, can it? So we will be over budget on heating this what? We will save on something else, his cheese, for instance or the French bread that costs an arm and a leg.  He counters with 'Your cigs?'

      I swear that if, when warmer weather finally does arrive,  I will not once complain about the heat, nor will I ever moan again about the wretched fly, the one that I cannot catch, that buzzes around the room the entire summer, mocking me.

Tuesday 25 January 2011


It has been brought to my attention that JP doesn't always get the respect from me, that he so obviously deserves; mostly by those of you who have not been with me from the beginning, and so for that reason I decided to re-post this, from early 2009. With a  minor change.

by Moannie
Fifty one  five years we have lasted. There has to be a reason other than, well, habit, I thought, and, keeping note book and pen to hand began to make a list.

1. He knows how a washing machine works and uses it. He has never thrown dirty clothes on to the floor expecting me to pick 'em up and launder them.

2. He irons without diminishing his masculinity in the least. In fact he is at his most attractive when wielding an iron.

3. He ran for me once...and he never runs. In a crisis he walks very quickly.

4. He still pronounces Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes-Shakeass-peare and Sheltock Hol mess, and calls a sheet a shit.

5. He takes pride in my achievements.

6. He washes the dishes after every meal. He says 'You cook, I wash.'

7. He kisses the back of my neck and says I smell the same as I did when me met.

8. He does not appear to see the ravages of time on my face.

9. He has beautiful hands.

10. And handwriting.

11. His feet never smell.

12. He honours his father and his mother.

13. He took care of my mother.

14. And in so doing moved to England and settled down here.

15. He still retains his Frenchness.

16. He never fails to compliment the

17. He watched every minute of my graduation ceremony without moving from the edge of his seat; even during the long, rather boring speeches.

18. And he wore a tie.

19. He buys me flowers almost every week.

20. He loves to shop for groceries [like that he gets to buy the cheeses he prefers]

Now if the preceding list makes JP out to be some paragon of virtue do not be misled. I just might make the time to write out another list containing his many faults and failings. Meanwhile, men, don't hate him as setting the bar too high, I have probably exaggerated in his favour, after all he is helping me towards a new PC and a girls gotta do, etc. etc.

Monday 24 January 2011

100 words game.

Using Mr.London Street's game for a rant.

Add- ons which have no place in a sentence
Innit. [Not only is it lazy English, but it is a Question
that never receives an answer]
See you later. [When it is never going to happen]
You know. [Is this a question or a statement of fact?]
You know what I mean, Yeah?
Don’t it? [how lazy can you get?]
And he says-
She says-
I says-
As in, ‘so she says I did it and I didn’t, like. D’ya know what I mean, like?’

A lot of these numbskulls work in Call centres.

I hate, hate hate it!

Friday 21 January 2011

Procrastination is the thief of time...

No 1 and only son called me the other day and asked me to hurry up and get the pictures together for The Family History. Not a small undertaking, and one that I have been putting off for some time.  I finished the book almost three years ago and it sits, in his computer and mine, safe and sound, waiting for him to find the time to put it all together and get it printed.

NOAOS is a graphic designer. He has been very busy, building up his business while enduring three knee operations and a lot of pain. Perhaps he thinks he had better finish the job before we peg out, hence the phone call.

Trouble is, all the photos are EVERYWHERE.

In Boxes, envelopes, albums,

 in frames

or simply stuck on walls.

I read through the draft and started to make a list, got to number 43 before deciding there had to be a better way.

I am going to look through every box, envelope, album etc.. and make another pile containing any picture that rings a bell. That should only take a few hours, like ten or twelve.

But there is a problem. Like with the picture below, they each have a tale to tell. And I'll never get the job done.

A quickie then:

This is my great-great grandmother, Granny Gregory. At the window of the room in which she spent the last few years of her life, in the house of her youngest daughter-in-law, married to her son Teddy. This next bit is taken from The History.

I have no recollection of school then, but as Granny had to go to work we were obliged to find something to occupy the hours until she returned.  We would go down the road and visit with great granny Gregory sometimes. Just a short visit because she was very old by then and slept a great deal. She lived in a small room that smelled of talcum powder and lavender water, in the house belonging to Aunt Rose who was married to granny Young’s brother, Teddy.  I believe Teddy was quite successful at whatever he did, because we seldom saw him out of his working clothes of suit and black overcoat. He wore a Homburg hat and was very tall and serious. He had a large car that we were forbidden to touch.[Perhaps he was an undertaker]
Great granny looked rather like the old Queen Victoria. She always wore a long black dress with a white lace collar and a square of lace sat on her swept up white hair.  She would offer us a biscuit but usually forgot and nodded off to sleep before she had delivered. We would giggle and creep out of the room. I think we probably went to see whether she would ever remove the lid off the tin or if sleep would win. 

I don't think The History will be ready this side of Christmas.

Monday 17 January 2011


This is the gloomy view I see most days.
all these pictures enlarge with a click; marvellously clever, eh?]

Only mid-January now and grey February still to come.
So I thought we all needed some colour to remind us how it was, and how it soon will be again.

Some pictures from last summer's garden, and round and about.

Lavender, my favourite flower.

We have been told we are losing our Bumble bees, I think they are all in my garden.

A rose from the bush given to us on our golden  wedding anniversary.

Buddleia: the butterfly bush, aptly named.
One of many pots of Geraniums. And only ever the red ones.

Promises, promises!

This is how I want my view to look.

J.P. and Milou taking in the view.

Saturday 15 January 2011

Buttering you up.

The King asked                   
 The Queen, and
 The Queen asked
 The Dairymaid:
 "Could we have some butter for
 The Royal slice of bread?"
 The Queen asked the Dairymaid,
 The Dairymaid
 Said, "Certainly,
 I'll go and tell the cow
 Before she goes to bed."

 The Dairymaid
 She curtsied,
 And went and told the Alderney:
 "Don't forget the butter for
 The Royal slice of bread."

 The Alderney said sleepily:
 "You'd better tell
 His Majesty
 That many people nowadays
 Like marmalade

 The Dairymaid
 Said "Fancy!"
 And went to
 Her Majesty.
 She curtsied to the Queen, and
 She turned a little red:
 "Excuse me,
 Your Majesty,
 For taking of
 The liberty,
 But marmalade is tasty, if
 It's very

 The Queen said
 And went to his Majesty:
 "Talking of the butter for
 The royal slice of bread,
 Many people
 Think that
 Is nicer.
 Would you like to try a little

 The King said,
 And then he said,
 "Oh, deary me!"
 The King sobbed, "Oh, deary me!"
 And went back to bed.
 He whimpered,
 "Could call me
 A fussy man;
 I only want
 A little bit
 Of butter for
 My bread!"

 The Queen said,
 "There, there!"
 And went to
 The Dairymaid.
 The Dairymaid
 Said, "There, there!"
 And went to the shed.
 The cow said,
 "There, there!
 I didn't really
 Mean it;
 Here's milk for his porringer
 And butter for his bread."

 The queen took the butter
 And brought it to
 His Majesty.
 The King said
 "Butter, eh?"
 And bounced out of bed.
 "Nobody," he said,
 As he kissed her
 "Nobody," he said,
 As he slid down
 The banisters,
 My darling,
 Could call me
 A fussy man -
 I do like a little bit of butter to my bread!"

-- A A Milne


I love this bit of nonsense as I love all the works of AA Milne. This came back to me last night. Having first been woken up by JP's nightly shout...last nights was all about Credit cards, Bills and turning off lights - [he was is a nightly occurrance] and then his snoring, which though noisy, at least showed me he was in a deep sleep and the nightly yelling was over- I was wide awake. It was then that I remembered another poem...after AA Milne written by the brilliant Christopher Matthew in his book NOW WE ARE SIXTY [AND A BIT]
It is called I WISH   [after IF I WERE KING]

I often wish that I were dead,
Instead of lying here in bed

And torturing my silly head
With everything from A to Z:

With germs and poisons being spread,
And all that blood so freely shed,

And why we're all so badly led,
And who should do the job instead,

And what it was my wife/hubs once said
About what's in the garden shed,

And what became of poor old Ted,
And, while I think about it, Fred,

And why I am not better read,
And should I move to Leatherhead?

I often wish that I were dead,
And free from mortal fear and dread.

But here I am, tucked up in bed,
Hanging by a tiny thread.

So today, I took down my two volumes of Christopher Matthew's modern take on A.A. Milne [a gift from number one and only son for my 60th birthday]and found his version of THE KING'S BREAKFAST. It's called THE QUEENS PICKLE.It was written around the time when the Queen asked for more money from the Civil Purse.

The Duke asked
The Queen, and
The Queen asked
The Chancellor:
'Could one have some extra
For the Royal Board and Bed?
The Queen rang the Chancellor,
The Chancellor
Said, 'Prudence, Ma'am,
I'll go and think
Before they all see red.'

The Chancellor
Thought 'Sod it,'
And rang the boys
At Demos.
'Any chance of extra
For the Royal Board and Bed?'

The Demos boys
Said, 'Joking!
You can go and tell
Her Majesty
The thinking now is favouring
A President instead.

The Chancellor
Said, 'Thrifty!'
And went to
Her Majesty.
He winked with his good eye and
Said, 'I'm not well bred.
Pardon me not bowing,
But the on dit in the country
Is that private life is pleasant if
It's comfortably

The Queen
Said, 'Eeeow,'
And went to
See Edinburgh.
'You mentioned some extra for
The Royal Board and Bed.
According to
Young Gordon
Is an option.
Would one care to try some

The Duke said,
And then he said,
'Oh bugger it!
The Duke yelled, 'Bastards!'
And went brick red.
He barked,
'Could call me
But frankly,
Put it this way,
I'd be better
Orf dead.'

The Queen snapped,
And carpeted
The Chancellor.
The Chancellor
Said, 'Now, now,
Careful how you tread.
We in 
New Labour
Are hardly
Push your luck, you'll end up
In a council house instead.

The Queen said,
And called up
Her bankers.
The Manager said,
'Money, ma'am?
You're hardly in the red.'
'Good,' said the Queen
As she tripped on a corgi.
'Great,' said the Duke
As he kissed his wife
'Stuff'em,'they said
As they drove down to Windsor.
'When one's as
Rich as we are,
One's one's own Way Ahead!'

All this is to give you a smile and to let you know that [a]we are all entitled to some butter on our bread. [b] To urge you to read All of the books mentioned and [c]funny stuff is always funny.

Wednesday 12 January 2011


We have been trying to sort out car insurance. What usually happens is that the Company we use sends us a reminder well in advance of expiry date, JP reads the new quote, swears a wee bit then writes a cheque and sends it off...job done.  This year Saz was down with us and she was horrified that we didn't 'Shop around' for a cheaper quote. The fact of the matter is that, although I am getting to be quite the expert on Bloggy things like linking, cutting and pasting, down-loading pics. etc., the finer points of the Internet are pretty much lost on me, and JP. has abandoned his Mobile phone as too complicated.

Bear with me folks.....

That afternoon Saz sat down at Paco's keyboard and looked through the Compare sites and found a policy that was, not only cheaper than the third party policy we had, but was fully Comprehensive. She spoke to our Insurance Company and they agreed to match it.

Still there...?

She left the next day and JP sent off a cheque and we waited for a cover note.
Then it was Christmas and the world shut down for a week or more, seeing as the New Year insisted on arriving.

He phoned and spoke to...Shiboogamo [sounded like] Cheque had not arrived...three days to go before expiry date.

Hey Ho. 5th January. JP Phoned again...spoke to Dean.  'Yes Sir, your cheque has arrived but unfortunately
the policy had expired and we cannot give you that deal.'

JP.When did it arrive?
Dean. The third Sir.
JP. But I sent the cheque on the 27th of December.
Dean. You must make a complaint to the Post Office.

I did make a complaint and was told that it was not the fault of the Post Office,they only collected the mail, it was delivered by the Royal Mail.

JP. So, how much more is it going to cost me?
Dean. We have your cheque for £144. we need another £44.

He wrote the cheque and I posted it that morning, with signed proof of posting.

Today, the 11th of January we received a policy from the Company that stated we now had Third Party Insurance on our vehicle as well as another envelope containing the information that our policy had expired and did we want to renew it. Plus renewed membership with spanking new cards, of  the well known  Club with the yellow vans...a membership JP had cancelled because they had demanded £190.

Girding his loins he  sat at the kitchen table surrounded by thirty two pages of requests, demands and  pamphlets that told us of the joys of membership,of  their unfailing devotion to their members and their willingness to be 'there for us'.

I hovered...tea and ciggies to hand.

Are you still there...?

Give him his due, JP kept it together, though at first he did sound a touch righteous. He explained the background, going into great detail, his voice rising a bit as he listened to  his own tale of woe.
 I made writing gestures...'get the name' I hissed. He wrote Joshz down on one of the many bits of paper.

'Oh,zat's good, you are a sweetie...' I heard him say. 'T'ank you...yes, I'll hold.'
To me he said...'She's really nice...just checking the details.'
'She is a he,' I hissed. He shook his head then turned back to the phone as he/she came back. The voice spoke for some time and I leaned in pulling the phone out so that I could hear. OK, so it wasn't Basso profundo but nor was it falsetto; it was one of  those male voices that sound  too feminine for a male voice and too masculine for it to be female.  It was definitely male. and the name was Josh.

'You are a darling...they should make you the boss.' JP was beaming... 'Thank you'.
 I withered, knowing worse was to come...
'You are a lovely lady...'
I'm semaphoring now, arms windmilling, head shaking...'It's a man, dummy.'  He finally caught on and went into gaga mode.

'Zat you 'ave managed to work out my bad Englieesh, when I so do not hear or speak too well, and ze phone crackle and pop.'

I'm on my knees with my fist in my mouth and tears spurting from my eyes by the time he hung up.

Not only did he/she fix us up with the original Fully Comprehensive policy we had originally agreed, she arranged for the £190 for membership we did not want, to be refunded.

And so ended a saga that had lasted three weeks.

It pays to be Gaga, and to find a guy/girl named Josh.

Saturday 8 January 2011

Dr. Quack Quack

I haven't been there so I don't know how I would act, or how far I would go. To be that ill, that desperate for a cure, a release from pain.  Would I have taken a chance for my children? I cannot say. But when a friend of my mother told her that Dr. N. could help her she begged me, us, to take her to see him.
At first I refused, I had no faith in unorthodox medical practices. I was afraid he could make things worse.

Mother had MS, walked unsteadily with a Zimmer frame, still had the use of her upper body and, with steely determination, still controlled   all bodily functions, but she  suffered excruciating pain when her limbs went into spasm. It was as if life was leaving her body from her toes upwards. Her speech never slurred, her eyes remained blue and as unclouded as  her mind; razor sharp, determined to find a way out of her prison before the door slammed shut on her.

Her friend, Betty, came round to see us in the little cottage we lived in at that time, a summer rental that sheltered our small family all year round. She said we owed it to Mother, that Dr. N. had cured her arthritis, relieved her pain. If I were any kind of loving daughter I could not refuse my mother the chance that he might help.

We wavered. We had little money,and I was not convinced, but I could not deny her.

Dr. N. lived in a picture perfect cottage, in a picturesque village about an hours drive away.  The journey there was broken by a number of stops [when mum had to go, she had to go] and we were late for our appointment. The long path to the rose covered front door sloped downwards between beds of summer flowers and with the birds singing and bees humming our spirits were lifted.
An elderly woman answered the door and showed us into a beamed living room with an obligatory Inglenook fireplace and ancient ceiling beams. Dr. N. came forward to greet us, taking mum's arm and leading her gently towards a chair set behind a table that was lined with various metal boxes, cotton wool and a Bunsen burner.

He was an elderly man [later we found out he was eighty eight] with thick white hair and moustache, tanned clear skin and a compact body. He asked mum a lot of questions but wrote nothing down, examined her feet and legs, her neck and shoulders and, holding her hands and looking intensely into her eyes, asked where the pain was centered.  Somewhere on her lower back, to the right, she replied.
He asked me to stand in front of her and hold up her clothes whilst he prodded and probed, finally happy that he had located the spot.

I looked at mum's face and she was smiling, no fear,  no doubt in her eyes.
I asked him what he was going to do but he didn't answer straight away. He lit the burner and held a small three sided knife to the flame.
'I will cut the nerve to relieve the pain' he said, quietly and calmly, as if that was an ordinary occurrence and nothing to fear. I know my face expressed my horror at that point, JP's face showed the same emotion.

'It is fine.' mum said. 'I trust the doctor.'

Dr. N. pressed the knife into mother's back to a depth of  two inches and drew it up and down and to both sides to make a cross. There was very little blood. He withdrew the knife and moved it higher and made to plunge it in again.

'No!' I shouted it out. 'No more, mum, this is not going to help.' I rearranged her clothes and helped her up. JP put some money on the table and we left. As we exited he said, 'Blame your daughter if you have no relief'.

She was  cross with me for a while and there was no relief, nor, I believe would there have been had I let the barbarism continue. She continued the creeping loss of all her faculties, for another twenty five years, but with brain, spirit, sight and speech intact.

Turns out that Dr. N. had some renown as a scientist, having discovered some chemical or other. But to me, saving my guilt, he was always, Dr. Quack quack.

Thursday 6 January 2011


On Sunday evening I lay in bed, listening, as I always do, to David Jacob's weekly programme of 'Our Kind of music'  on BBC radio 2, to midnight. His smooth, beautifully modulated voice with it's marvellously British intonation introduces the Great American  Songbook. Seldom does he play a song I do not know, but this Sunday night he did.  Now usually, when I hear or think of something that I want or need to remember, I must write it down...there and then, or it is gone for good. But no paper or pen were to hand and so I made a supreme  effort to remember, and using visuals and constant repetition it was still there the next morning. And it is still in my head now, Wednesday evening, and must be stilled.

The Song comes from a Broadway Production of Ben Franklin In Paris   and the singers were Robert Preston and Ulla Sallert. It is a ballad, not a thumping show-stopper,but sweetly sung  lyrics with a  simple message. Don't ask for too much, be happy with small pleasures. And that message resonated with me to an extent that had me bothered.

Then I remembered.
Sometime last week I read a post that had been suggested by Hilary in her Post of the Week spot. It was entitled Humour and I urge everyone to go over there and watch the video.
You will find it here.

I'll not spoil the surprise - it starts slowly and then...

It started me athinking.
Where is the humour in old age?

A serious question seeing how it's going to happen to all of you should you live long enough.

I thought long and hard and realised that there is not a great deal to laugh about in old age..
We ache.
We're shorter.
Invisible most of the time.
Bits of us are metal.
Or porcelain.
Too many of our sentences begin with 'when I was young'.

And so on...

And I realised that my sub-conscious mind had been playing with the subject, and the song had given me the answer:-


For example....

Someone new has climbed into JP's skin...someone who does not argue every point. When he said, last Friday, 'It's warmer today' and I replied-[because I'm always looking to have the last word and thus starting a great debate that ends with both of us stomping off in different directions] 'It isn't warmer it is just less cold' he smiled, shrugged that Gallic shrug and went off whistling. Small pleasure.

When I saw that Downton Abbey was being repeated over the Christmas week and I would be able to see the final episode which I had deleted...Small pleasure.

Waking up, stretching, and nothing hurts. Small pleasure.

Completing the Alpha puzzle in less than the given time. Small pleasure.

And the greatest humour in old age is in the fact that 'We Got Here' we can see the funny side,and it's coming to all of you.

Saturday 1 January 2011


We preserve our heritage, we're known for it, depend on it, it serves us well, provides an income, stabilises us and our place in it. We have ruins that are many hundreds of years old, piles of stones with perhaps a solitary window and arched portal standing in isolated fields, atop hills and hidden in deep valleys; all expensively protected and revered. Our Historic towns and cities make us proud as we stand where Beckett passed, where Kings stood, and waved or cursed. There are monuments to battles lost and won, blue plaques that honour poet and peasant-history, all history is here in this small Isle.

Where bombs fell, the awful new crept in. Ghastly concrete blocks gradually became the face of our towns-quick fixes that polluted and spread and grew like fungus. There were protests, genteel, as befits our National Character. Petitions were raised and signed, delivered and ignored by the faceless 'powers that be' who knew what was best for us...and anyway, we voted them into power.

There is another history though-it is personal-related to places less ancient, less revered. Places of memories.And one such, not old and certainly not young, but old enough to matter, that has gone for ever.

It was built in the thirties, I believe, as an Hotel, on a cliff overlooking the North Sea here in The Bay, on what was my idea of Nob Hill.  This end of town was-is, where all the large houses were built. Houses with large iron gates, driveways and large gardens. The owners had servants and Chauffeurs, their children went to Private Schools and the parents owned the town, the Doctors and Lawyers, and fathers who worked in London and commuted daily, riding up to town in first class carriages in their pin-striped suits and their faces hidden from view behind The Financial Times newspaper.

The Hotel, The Miramar, was grand and off limits for me. It held Dinner Dances every Saturday with live music of the 'Palm Court' style, played by musicians decked out in white tie and tails. The clientèle resplendent in evening dress and jewels.

I know because I was there for my twenty first birthday, the first time I had ever set foot in the place.
By now its glory was starting to fade; the gilding on the ormolu ceiling was chipped, the plush on the chairs rubbed bare in places  and the scarlet curtains showed dusty pink psoriasis like patches in the folds.
But for me, sitting in pride of place, looking like a plump grey mushroom in my birthday gift [a satin with tulle overlay monstrosity, bought for me by Mutti on one of her scavenger hunts into the underbelly of second-hands shops] I still felt marvellous. I had finally made it to Nob Hill. For me the lights twinkled and glittered and I reigned supreme that night. I was toasted and praised, was served first by the waiter, drank wine that went to my head in an instant, and danced, and danced as if I floated on air.

JP. took me there the following year, when I wore a strapless full-skirted dress of yellow, with tiny white polka dots. Momentous! We had met in the previous May and here it was August...Good lord! How could I have known we would still be together all these years later?

Then, as so often happens, the Miramar closed and was re-opened as a Nursing Home. But the building remained intact and, now that I live up here on what is no longer  Nob Hill, I pass it each and every day. It still remained standing when an American Company bought it, pulled down two houses that had merged into the Home and built a concrete- 'luxury' building, complete [they say] with restaurant and basement swimming pool. So luxurious is it, that no-one can afford to live there, it's residents coming from far and wide, but not from here.
Then, one day last year up went the barriers of metal and wire and the demolition began.





It wasn't old, nor was it new, but it was special. Building has now begun on the second phase of 'luxury' flats for the wealthy elderly. Glass, and concrete squares and blocks. I hate it.

Thankfully it would take more than a bulldozer to erase my memories.