“Mrs Bantry was dreaming. Her sweet peas had just taken a First at the flower show. The vicar, dressed in cassock and surplice, was giving out the prizes in church. His wife wandered past, dressed in a bathing-suit, but as is the blessed habit of dreams this fact did not arouse the disapproval of the parish in the way it would assuredly have done in real life…
“Mrs Bantry was enjoying her dream a good deal. She usually did enjoy those early-morning dreams that were terminated by the arrival of early-morning tea. Somewhere in her inner consciousness was an awareness of the usual early-morning noises of the household. The rattle of the curtain-rings on the stairs as the housemaid drew them, the noises of the second housemaid’s dustpan and brush in the passage outside. In the distance the heavy noise of the front-door bolt being drawn back.
“Another day was beginning. In the meantime she must extract as much pleasure as possible from the flower show – for already its dream-like quality was becoming apparent…” (The Body in the Library)
So much like the early mornings in Jelly Towers, give or take the odd housemaid.Continue reading →
LovelyYoungColleague – like so many of my teacher friends – has had the year from Hell. Planning every night into the wee small hours: lessons for children who may or may not be in the classroom; may or may not have caught last week’s topic introduction; may have access to internet at home but, given the extreme poverty of the catchment, probably haven’t.Continue reading →
Dedicated with thanks to Matt, Claire and Lorraine
It being a really busy road – well, you know what Cockfosters is like at the best of times and today it’s pouring down – we were lucky to find a parking space so easily. “If you take her straight into the vets, I’ll sort out the parking meter,” I say.
So ActorLaddie sets off with Willow in the cat-carrier – heck, that’s seen better days. The carrier, that is, not Willow, who has been remarkably trouble-free in her sixteen years. So far.
The parking meter takes me a wee while to figure out. You have to feed it with these metal disk things called coins; they have a certain novelty value but I don’t see them catching on. Ticket in car, check. Car locked, check. Mask on, check. And off to the vets.
“I’m with the chap who has just come in with a cat,” I tell the receptionist.
“No-one’s come in with a cat,” she says to me. “We’re expecting Willow but no-one’s come in.” I go back out, look up and down the parade of shops but there’s no sign of a cat in a carrier with an elderly actor that’s seen better days. There is a sign for another vets down at the far end of the parade of shops. Could he have headed down there, by mistake? I ring his mobile and, eventually …
“Willow’s escaped from the carrier,” gasps ActorLaddie. “She went under a stationary lorry, run across the Cockfosters Road and down some side street. We’re trying to find her.”Continue reading →
I’m bored of Parkinson’s. Let’s talk about something else.
Perhaps she was disorientated by being on the first floor. They hadn’t been long in the rented accommodation where Harriet Neate was now living with her son Harry, his wife Millie and their children Violet (nearly eight) and Arthur (a toddler). For most of her life, she’d lived in the ground floor accommodation attached to the Beer Shop which was the family business. Perhaps she’d got up in the night and lost track of where she was. For whatever reason, in April 1934, at the age of seventy four, Harriet fell down the stairs and died. The timing could hardly have been worse.Continue reading →
“For Pete’s sake, look at the time!”
It’s been a leisurely start to the day (like every other day, in fact). I’m eating porridge while idly scrolling through my phone – I’ve fallen in love with one @HenryRothwell on Twitter who shares works of art: landscape paintings, largely, which are pretty much the only way of stepping outside right now. Like this one of Scarborough, painted by Carl Herman in 1930. Isn’t it wonderful?Continue reading →
“There were so many old people!” says Ma.
Well, yes. A vaccination centre for the over 80s is likely to contain folk of a certain vintage – and all a jolly sight wiser, for sure, than the idiots who have spray-painted ‘Covid hoax’ and the like onto the walls of said centre and of our local station.Continue reading →
with apologies to Thomas Hood
No pubs - no gyms -
No bars - no swims -
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day -
No sky - no sunny view -
No distance looking blue -
No sag-aloo – (unless for take-away) -
No shopping just for fun -
No picnics in the sun -
No coffee with your mum with cake and biscs -
No film night with the gang -
No jigsaws with your Nan -
No meeting kith nor kin, no Rule of Six -
No galleries, no plays -
No Homes and no Aways -
No birthday celebrations -
No romantic trysts in stations -
No rousing hymns in chapels -
No bobbing for no apples -
No visiting things pastoral -
Not even Barnard Castoral -
No sooner up, it’s dark -
No kickabouts in park -
No travelling at all - no friends to stay -
No where to hang the washing
No thing to do but noshing –
No place to go - it’s raining anyway
No buses, so the car but there are jams - nowhere to park it (PARK IT!))
No loo rolls yet again - no friendly caff - no Christmas market (MARKET!)
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No cinema, not even for a member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds, -
It’s Sunday afternoon and we’re facing some tricksy decisions, ActorLaddie and I.
A.L. has been canvassed for his views on re-starting practices for – shall we say – his Interpretive Cross-stitch Group. And I have been asked where I am on this Sheep Scale:
An answer is required from ActorLaddie, so we mull. On the one hand, there has been a full risk-assessment of the school-hall used for practices and the Cross-Stitch committee are happy with it. There will be much gelling and the group will not share needles.Continue reading →
“It was a dark, black mask and I thought it looked OK, it looked like the Lone Ranger,” says Donald Trump.
ActorLaddie looks up from his book. “Surely the Lone Ranger wore his mask over the eyes? And anyway, why on Earth are you watching Donald Trump?”
“I’m not – I’m watching Sarah Cooper. I went onto YouTube to check some face-mask stuff and I got side-tracked. Wanna watch?”
ActorLaddie joins me at the table and together we watch Sarah Cooper lip-syncing to Donald Trump talking about masks. Then one of our old favourites: Trump talking about injecting disinfectant. Then – oh, there’s a new one! Trump talking about ‘acing’ the Montreal Cognitive test.Continue reading →
If it’s true that we are but toys for the Gods, then my sister-in-law is definitely their Etch-a-Sketch.
I guess you could say that it all started with the Golden Giraffe.
Tasteful, or what? One of my brother-in-law’s finest creations: essence of plastic giraffe, with an artisanal wooden mount and golden overtones. Such simple beginnings; such magnificent results.Continue reading →