194. Now is the summer of our discontent…

Stop there.  Your name is not Mary; you are not calling from Microsoft – go and get a proper job.  I’m busy.  Goodbye.

Stop there, person that is almost certainly not called Peter.  At what stage in your life did you decide to become a crook?  Suppose it was your grandmother who had picked up this phone and was even now installing your evil malware?  Now, I’m very busy – I need to get to the shops – go and rethink your life choices.

Hello.
Hello.  Now that winter’s here…

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193. Rumble thy bellyful…

Your Honour, I can certainly attest that there was cake.  Much much cake.

What’s that? Attest?  Yes, good word isn’t it?  Truth is, since coming home early from camp on Wednesday, on account of a vicious bout of tonsillitis, I’ve been basically living in St Mary Mead or thereabouts, binge-watching Miss Marple.  There are few things more soothing than Joan Hickson: head slightly tilting, hands still knitting, blue eyes kindly twinkling as she explains whodunnit.  And, of course, there are people attesting to things left, right and centre.  Attesting is the new black.

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192. Overture and beginners please…

Jim next door has Parkinson’s.  They’ve suspected it for a while, Jim and Ann, and given his symptoms – asymmetrical pill-rolling style tremor; writing gone very small – I suspected it too.  But they had to wait ages to see a neurologist and finally got confirmation last week.

Ann came round to tell me and asked how long it was since I’d been diagnosed.  Just over four years, I told her, and tried to look jolly and bouncing with health.  Which, actually, I am.  Pretty much.

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191. The Secret Agent

Are you sure we can’t be overheard?

I shouldn’t really be telling you this: don’t breathe a word – not even if Tom Hiddleston tempts you to swap confidences with promises of a ride on his motorbike.  I will deny all knowledge, if challenged.  I’m taking lessons from Boris on denial and will do so at bumbling length and in Latin.

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190. #moreincommon

Those poor people in the planes!  The small, noisy planes, that is, that flew over Trafalgar Square trailing the large Brexit: ‘Leave’ Banner.   They must have felt awful when they realised that, as they circled the square, they made it hard for us to hear Lily Allen’s emotional rendition of one of Jo Cox’s favourite songs: Somewhere Only We Know.

It must have been really hard for them to spot the memorial event taking place: easy to miss us – just a few thousand people, the stage, the giant screen.

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189. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it…

Are you sitting comfortably?  Then I’ll begin.

Once there was a beautiful princess who worked in an enchanted little hospital.  This hospital was run by three Fairies: a Head Nurse Fairy who looked after the nurses, a Head Doctor Fairy who looked after the doctors and a kindly Administrator Fairy who looked after everyone else, including the princess.

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188. Should I stay or should I go?

“I kept this for you,” says Mrs Jones and hands me a leaflet.

Mrs J it was who greeted news of my diagnosis by telling me that she knew several people with Parkinson’s “and they went on some lovely trips.”  A rosy prospect, as you can imagine.

I look at the leaflet.  ‘Fit for life,’ it’s called, and is illustrated with a photo of elderly people stretching and smiling.  I read the back and laugh.

“What?” says Mrs J.

“‘Produced by Age UK’,” I read.  “I’m not sure I’m ready for that.”

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187. Float like a butterfly…

“So, what does it mean ‘trending on Twitter’?”

“Right,” I say.  “Touch the ‘Search’ icon… now, give it a second to refresh –  and, look, there’s a list of the main things that people are tweeting about at the moment: at least, the main hashtags being used.”

We look at the list, ActorLaddie and I.  Some of the entries mean nothing to me but in at number five, pop pickers, is a real blast from the past.  AL touches it and we follow the link to the following tweet:

“Just saw Postman Pat trending on Twitter and worried that 2016 had claimed another celebrity. #Phew #PostmanPat.”

Phew indeed.  Simply the start of a new series; Pat being still alive, well and battling extreme weather conditions in Greendale.

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186. Comrades in Conscience.

“We quickly realised that we were working with a retreating, not a fighting army.  There were so many casualties – we operated for nine hours continuously until the Japanese were within minutes of our position.  It was hectic.  Those who hadn’t survived had to be buried.  We had to wash down, clear up, repack and reload, and then move on as quickly as we could before the Japanese caught up with us.  Then we’d start all over again.

“There were men who were so badly injured that they were going to die.  What could we do for them?  There was no way that we could leave them for the Japanese to bayonet. It was a terrible dilemma.”

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185. Desert Island risks…

Today I am covering Mrs Grenfell’s class and am under instructions to lead a discussion on different sorts of airborne travel: aeroplanes, helicopters, rockets and the like.

“I have something sad to tell you about Mrs Sugarsprinkles,” I start.  The children glance at Mrs Sugarsprinkles, who attempts to look grave.  “At the weekend,” I continue, “she got stuck on a desert island.”  I draw on the whiteboard a stick figure with a sad face and long hair, standing by herself under a tree on a small island. I add some surrounding sea and sharks fins, in an attempt to rack up the excitement.  Bit of a masterpiece, if I say so myself. Continue reading →

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