Sunday, March 30, 2008

Shaffer’s “Sleuth”


There were two Shaffers – Anthony and Peter – twin brothers, both playwrights. The play we saw yesterday in Bath was by Anthony and I think we were the only ones in our immediate vicinity who hadn’t already seen the play or the film, so we were very absorbed. The Olivier part was played by Simon MacCorkindale. He must be very familiar with “Sleuth” as he directed Douglas Fairbanks junior when he was a member of the theatre scene in Los Angeles in the early eighties. I had imagined he would play the younger man – but of course time does not stand still – he played the elder and Micheal Praed the younger.

It is a very wordy play - full of cerebral games, but the actors took it at a cracking pace and one had to concentrate to keep up. Simon gave a mannered performance, a bit camp at times - reminiscent of Olivier in ‘Dance of Death’ but it really worked and one was carried along with the plays twists and turns.

Michael Praed was new to me but the two of them had forged a great partnership and the coup de theatre in the second act took me by surprise. An excellent show – see it if you get the chance. A real ‘edge of your seat’ thriller. It’s set in the early seventies and reminded one of those ghastly shiny suits some men wore. We gave the cast a tremendous ovation which they thoroughly deserved.

Bath was wet and windy and curiously deserted. We were meeting # 2 son and missus for lunch and I had to warn him before he got close that I had my PCA’s in. He usually envelops me in a bear hug and ruffles my hair – bless him! We had booked a table at Las Iguanas in Sawclose just by the theatre. We were first there but it was soon buzzing with families and children – obviously locals – always a good sign and we had a lovely time.

On the way back the coach driver took a different - more interesting route and I got a rainy shot of Glastonbury Tor. No more theatre for a while but we have a trip to Cardiff to see the ballet. No time to be bored: tomorrow the Sussex branch appears – maybe the last time before they leave to live in OZ. No tears will be allowed.

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Can you guess the cuisine?

A Tarantula on the ceiling

Michael Praed
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Glastonbury Tor on a rainy night.
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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Smashing Day.


It really was. I’ll post about it – with pics – when I have time to spit. Two more days of being out of the house by 9am (earlier on Saturday) and I can’t make myself go to bed early. I don’t expect sympathy from all you workers and when the weather is like it has been today it’s no hardship. Tomorrow I see Kate the Audiologist so she can look at my PCAs and tell what I’ve been up to. I’ll bet even now some writer is pondering how he can use them in a detective thriller.

‘But Mrs Lanchester You said you were at home alone all week-end but your PCAs indicate that you were in a very noisy environment. Could that be the Peacock club where your husband’s paramour was found murdered?’

OK, OK - I’ll stick to non- fiction.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wednesday waffle


The film I mentioned in my last post about the love affair between a mother and son turns out to be ‘Le Souffle au Coeur (Murmur of the Heart.). I discovered it was made in 1971 so the timing is right. Here’s what epat from Tokyo said about it

This is one of my all-time favorite films.

Young Laurent Chevalier, his mother & his roguish elder brothers break every taboo known to small-town 1950s Dijon: underage drinking, underage sex, blasphemy, incest, petty theft, adultery, art forgery, whoremongering, drunk driving... What more can you ask? Malle treats their escapades with such lighthearted sympathy & wit you can't help liking them.

Before I first saw SoufflĂ© au Coeur, I read a blurb for it in the monthly listings of my local repertory cinema that ran something like this (I quote from memory): "This film does a lot to restore the French to their former reputation for sophisticated naughtiness." I can't sum it up any better than that. ‘

The ‘collage’of Jesus I published earlier turns out to be rather different; the following from my step-daughter.

Technically it isn’t a collage. It involved tracing the outline from a sketch onto tissue paper which was bondawebbed to the fabric, then the whole thing tea-dyed. After that I did some embroidery with the sewing machine in free style mode, then later some hand embroidery and embellishment. I think I also used my fabric pens for some detail and shading. Basically it was a multi phased free embroidery incorporating various bits of techniques from my City and Guilds course

Tomorrow is ‘Girl’s Day Out’ a late treat for my birthday and Friday we have to go to Taunton and Bath on Saturday so will be back soon.

Meanwhile I have a problem; all my word documents have become bespattered with dots and various symbols which normally are invisible. It seems to go back to normal when I copy to Dashboard but it is distracting especially when I am working on the book. Any advice as to how I can remove it will be much appreciated.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Pleasant Surprise

Story contd.

Although it varied each month – because that was the way Mary and I liked it - we were getting a healthy financial return for our hard work in the shop. This gave me the wherewithal to have fun making the house beautiful. For years I had run myself ragged trying to decorate the large rooms myself and teetering on the top of the tallest step ladder in an attempt to paint the ceilings; now I could afford Mr Crouch who steadily worked his way through the house. I never did count the doors (this house has probably the same number but they are Edwardian rather than Victorian, so are smaller and easier to paint) but it was like painting the Forth Bridge* Mr Crouch was fine as long as one steered him away from his beloved chip paper and the colour magnolia.

I had one of the sculleries made into a wet room – before wet rooms were heard of -and the bathroom, which had probably been the tweenie’s * bedroom with a dainty iron fireplace, I converted into a sort of boudoir bathroom which was a daily delight. William had central heating installed - which was the icing on the cake for our much loved home.

One day William asked me when I could be free to go to the solicitors with him. Puzzled I asked him why, and he said he was going to put the house in both our names. In other words he was giving me half the house. I was so surprised and thought it was very generous of him. How our circumstances had changed; it didn’t seem long ago that I had been exercised at not being allowed to buy a new bathing costume. I also now had a generous house keeping allowance - ironic really.

The elder boy was planning on going to university and both William and I realised how much we would miss this young man who had morphed from an enfant terrible into a fun companion. He was anxious to get driving practice so William took him for a Scottish holiday and I took him to France. Our younger son didn’t fancy the idea; he was very adventurous and would set off with a back pack and hike round the West Country alone, visiting stray relatives and camping in fields.

By now I had driven through France many times with some theatre club friends who had given me valuable experience. They would often depute me to go and get rooms en route to practice my French, so whilst my son drove I was responsible for bed and board. We drove down through Normandy to Brittany stopping at Mont St Michele for crepes and then had a blissful few days with one of us getting sun burnt (he never listens to Mum) losing the car keys in a fairground (an occupational hazard with # 1 son) and retracing the foot steps of Heloise and Abelard on the Rose Granite coast where it is said Peter sang love songs to her. I still have a fragment of granite from that romantic spot.

Each evening we would have the same delicious meal of langoustines which we dunked in heavenly mayonnaise, washed down with a bottle of Muscadet. It wasn’t all sweetness and light and there were some quite heated discussions regarding the driving but it was enough of a success for us to repeat it the following year. How I wish one of us had kept a record of what we did. There are just a few isolated memories but one which is as clear as if it happened yesterday was the evening we played boule.

We had settled in our hotel which resembled the home of Norman Bates in ‘Psycho’.
It was a lovely evening, so after dinner we found a homely drinking place which was a Relais Routiere We wanted to taste the Calvados which is renowned in that area. The bar was full of jolly French men and as they were very friendly we accepted their invitation to play a game of boule. More Calvados was consumed and son and I were having a ball practising our French, learning the game and doing our bit for entente cordiale. It got darker and darker and we learnt that this was a place where long distance lorry drivers stayed. Eventually I remembered to look at the time, saw it was late and so we bade an affectionate farewell to our new friends.

We weaved our way back to the hotel and there wasn’t a single light on in the place and the door was locked. Feeling like naughty children we knocked politely on the door. Nothing! We knocked a little harder with the same result. Now I was getting worried, there wasn’t a soul around in the small town and we were very tired. We started to hammer and call out but it was like trying to waken the dead. Utterly useless. And then salvation! A car drove past – saw us – and reversed. It was one of the locals who had been in the bar. We told him of our plight, He added his voice to our chorus but to no avail.

Finally Maurice – that was his name – said he would drive us back to the bar and see if they had rooms for us. Madame at the bar said she only had the one room and by this time I was moaning that I had no clean clothes or tooth brush and how would we explain to the other Madame but she firmly said it was not important, showed us the room and bade us good night – in French.

My son was as appalled as I was – not about little things like toiletries but the fact that he had to share a bed with his mother and firmly put the rock hard bolster down the middle of the bed. By now I was too tired to care and went to bed with make- up on - quelle horreure! The next morning there was much hilarity – not from us I may say.

We had breakfast and the bar- Madame phoned the hotel- Madame to save us a difficult explanation. They both had a good laugh and cursed ‘La Boule.’ And we went back to the hotel. Her explanation was that when she saw all the keys there she assumed everybody was in and locked up. We had forgotten or not bothered to leave the key. Much of the hilarity had been because there was a new French film that everyone was talking about concerning a mother and son who had an affair. Charmante!
Madame very kindly refused to charge us in spite of my protests, so all was well that ended well.

*Tweenie – house maid who lived between stairs

* Forth Bridge –an enormous bridge in Scotland that is repainted each time the painting is complete.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Joseph Mawle plays Jesus - BBC1
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A Collage made by my step-daughter for my Icon room

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Back to Basics


In spite of a childhood where Sunday school and Chapel were the norm and prayer as regular a pastime as brushing my teeth, my knowledge of religious festivals such as Easter is sketchy to say the least. This year – maybe because there are just the two of us – I have felt a need to know more. I watched the third episode of ‘The Passion’ on TV, where Jesus is betrayed and crucified and plan to watch the first two episodes this afternoon and the final one tonight. It is all familiar but I find it comforting to get it clear in my head.

I happened on this blog yesterday which started me thinking. She gives an excellent explanation of Maundy Thursday, which previously I had just associated with Her Maj giving shillings to elderly men.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I can hear you!


Last Friday I paid a return visit to Kate – the Audiologist. She had got my PCAs and I realised I had misunderstood where they would actually be on my person. The small triangle goes behind the top of my ear and the tiny plastic bob on the end - inside. It is better to have one either side and apart from a tiny bleep as you attach them they make no sound apart from another tiny bleep when the battery is low. The batteries last 70 hours so one changes them once a week and it is preferable to change both at once.

Kate attached me to a screen and adjusted everything. One starts on a low level so that the brain has time to adjust to the extra sound. Next week I shall have them re-adjusted to a different level. In fact once I start wearing them in the morning I forget they are there and one can’t see if I am wearing them or not.

You mustn’t wear them in the shower or at the hairdressers and it is best to do whatever you are doing with them over a bed or sofa to avoid accidents and of course they should be kept well away from toddlers and puppies who apparently love to chew them.

Kate and MTL chattered away at different levels and I could hear perfectly well. I am really doing this for the future as most of the time I hear normal speech. But now I feel in a much better position and it is a great relief. Maybe before I get completely ga- ga they will have invented one for the brain. I was given a very smart protective bag containing a small triangular bed for them and I small triangular purse to slip them into at the hairdressers for instance. There is also a cleaning cloth, spare batteries; spare little plastic ends and care instructions.

PC As - peronal communication assistance
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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Monday Monday!


When the hounds of spring are on winter’s traces,

The mother of months in meadow or plain,

Fills the shadow and windy places

With lisp of leaves and ripple of rain.

Algernon Charles Swinburne


And we have all had quite enough of it now, thank you. The rain that is.

During the last two years MTL and I have been gallivanting – staying in Inns, Country house hotels and cottages and I have always written honestly about them. Sometimes it must seem that I find everywhere ’lovely’ but we have been remarkably fortunate.

However this latest jaunt – my birthday treat - wasn’t perfect. MTL had booked a ‘superior room’ which we both found a bit bleak. The bathroom was very good but then I noticed the bedspread was stained - I opened the bed and the bottom sheet may have passed muster to an unpractised eye (I have been changing beds for decades) but it clearly had not come straight from the laundry. I don’t mind roughing it on occasion but this was not one.

I asked the receptionist first, if this was a superior room – it was. Then I told her about the bed linen and she found it difficult to believe so I persuaded her to come and look - BTW she did immediately offer me an upgrade to a ‘four poster’ at no extra charge but I knew MTL wouldn’t want the bother and asked her to just give me a couple of clean sheets and I would change it myself. She was reluctant to do that but when she came to the room and saw for herself we decide to accept her offer and trailed to the other end of the hotel to an even more superior room.

From then on all was satisfactory and I’m sure this was just a rare blip, but hopefully it won’t happen again We had only had good reports previously and as we expected, dinner was a delight and it all turned out fine – apart from the wretched weather. The next morning I was chatting to a nice man from the Isle of Wight - we were both staring – mesmerised - at the relentless down pour and I told him of the first time we had brought our French DIL here to dinner – with the same endless rain. As DIL went to get out of the car clutching a beautiful pale lemon sweater MTL took the sweater from her so she could use her brolly and there was a universal gasp of horror when MTL dropped the BPLS in the flooding gutter.

The nice man went one better; he married his wife when one had clothes coupons – in the war - and she had used her precious coupons to buy a beautiful outfit. The weather was wet- the car had a sliding roof and all their friends threw in confetti which stained her suit for ever. That is real disaster!

The taxi driver was befuddled; why would we be going to Minehead on a day like this? Going home. Why would we be staying in a hotel so close to home? We tried to explain but he clearly though we were daft as brushes. Maybe he’s right.

Oh I forgot to say; at dinner we were asked if we would accept the wine, as a gesture - to apologise for the inconvenience. We were happy to agree.

My Birthday Bouquet
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Friday, March 14, 2008

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Back on Track

Story contd

William made a complete recovery from his heart attack, went back to work and apart from all of us taking his health more seriously life went on as before. He did all the right things as far as diet and exercise were concerned and even did a little therapeutic baking. ‘Dad’s rock cakes’ were famous. William had always been a lark –

‘I’ll bid you goodnight.’ he would say after dinner, sounding just like his mother Dodie. In contrast I was the owl so it was no hardship for me to wait up until the growing boys got in at night.

One Saturday # 1 son got in quite late and obviously upset. He and his friends had been attacked by a gang of yobs and one of the boys had his glasses smashed. Sensibly they had reported it to the police. I regretted that our sedate little town was changing, to its detriment, with the times. Much later that night, when we were all asleep there was a thundering knock at the door. It was the Police and they wanted my son to go with them to identify the culprits. My son insisted I shouldn’t accompany him. The police said he should just slip on his dressing gown and I was mortified when I noticed that after the last spurt of growth the cuffs were now round his elbows. My son and his friends were treated kindly by the police – unlike the attackers.
At the station they were being guarded by a police dog and the bullies lost their cool. They were prosecuted for stealing drink from an off- licence, so my son and friends didn’t have to go to court.

I was often out alone at night. As the shop got busier there was more book work and I quite enjoyed going to the shop and working in peace and quiet. Every article we sold had to be entered up on the client’s card and in the busy times it was impossible to do this during the day. Once a year Mary and I had to go through each client’s card and with the aid of an adding machine add up the amounts owing to customers. This was demanded by Dave our accountant and was a mammoth task. We would set aside a Sunday, take a picnic lunch and be there all day - at the end of which we would creep exhausted into the nearest pub and thank heaven it was over for another year. Our lives would have been transformed by today’s computers.

I still spent a lot of time at the theatre club and joined in with some of the back stage staff giving the club a face lift. One night I got carried away painting the ceiling and it was after mid-night when I left. Driving up the hill out of town my car ran out of petrol. I ran to the nearest telephone booth (before mobile phones) and phoned William. The phone rang and rang and rang but all three slept the sleep of the dead and were always oblivious of anything that happened once they closed their eyes. I ran down to the railway station with the idea of picking up a taxi to take me to a petrol station - I needed the car to get into the shop the next day. Alas it was too late – all the taxis had gone home. The Police Station was close by so I asked the duty sergeant if he could give me some taxi numbers. He was horrid and said they weren’t a taxi service. I couldn’t believe it. I was used to being treated as a respected member of the community. Then I remembered I was still in paint- spattered old clothes, my hair – long and blonde - was all over the place and I had smudges on my face. Also it was very late. I managed to find a number in the malodorous telephone booth and got a taxi from my village to come and pick me up. The taxi driver told me to stand in the road by the car so he could spot me easily. Whilst I was waiting for him two cars stopped with lewd suggestions which made me feel even worse.

At last he turned up and I asked him to siphon some petrol into my tank (fortunately I had plenty of cash with me) whereupon he told me his taxi ran on diesel. Seeing my despair he said there was an all night petrol station in Sevenoaks, he would drive me there, I could buy some petrol and then he would bring me back to the car.

‘It’ll be the most expensive gallon of petrol you’ve ever bought love!’ he said cheerfully.

After a long drive we reached the petrol station where a couple of cars were being filled up. There was only one attendant – an elderly man – and when I asked if he could sell me some petrol in a container he refused. Apparently the week before he had been mugged and no way was he going to look for a can. That was it! I was exhausted from hours of painting the club ceiling, running up and down to station and telephones and I had been treated like a criminal and a whore. I started to cry and everybody looked embarrassed. Eventually one of the car owners who looked like one of my Dad’s pals came over.

‘I’ve got a plastic container in my car which I keep for emergencies. You can have it if you like.’

‘Oh thank you!’ I blubbed ‘You must let me pay for it.’

‘No I don’t want your money. You’re just like my daughter – she’s always running out.’

What a gentleman. I treasured that little plastic container for years.

Back we drove to my car and the taxi-driver kindly waited until I got started and I paid him an enormous amount of money. As I expected all was quiet when I finally got home – everyone was fast asleep. When I told friends about my experience they all, without exception, said I should have phoned them – they would have come to my rescue, but it was my mess and I felt I couldn’t phone someone in the wee small hours. There are quite a few morals arising from this story but the most important one I learned was to work on the top end of the petrol tank

Pat and friends rehearsing for Son et Lumiere at the Castle
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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hats off!

Hats off to Terry Pratchett - the writer - who had just donated a million dollars to the Alzheimer's Society. Terry aged 59, was himself diagnosed last December. He has a variant of the disease which affects his motor skills so his typing - once faultless, is now slow and laboured and he has had to stop driving. Speaking on the radio Terry sounded fine and says his anger at the disease and the pathetic efforts of the government gives him an inner strength. He knows there is no cure but lots more can be done to ameliorate and slow down the disease and the money will be a great help to fund vital research. My younger brother fell victim to Alzheimer's in his early fifties and I wish all the best for Terry and his wife and applaud him. We need valiant warriors like him to fight this dread disease.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bits and Bobs


Have you time for a coffee? Do you mind if we have it in the kitchen? And no biscuits – right? We had our new lady gardener yesterday. I had to go out whilst she was here and I didn’t know whether to tell her what to do - I mean where do you start after months of neglect? In the end I left it to her and she worked hard in the uncertain weather and now I have some straight edges. She‘s an enthusiast and loves the privacy and the parking (she has an enormous van) in the garden, so I feel we are off to a good start. Oh and her husband is a builder – busy for the next 6 months but who knows?

I thought I was getting Malcolm’s frozen shoulder this morning and then I remembered that, after mopping the loos and cloakroom yesterday I pressed down so hard with the mop – wringing it out on the bucket, that the plastic broke, I toppled over and just managed to save myself from taking a purler*– hence the shoulder. So I have two reasons for not doing the kitchen today – sore shoulder and no bucket. Tee Hee!

I’m not sure when I’ll do my next episode because Friday I have my PCA’s fitted- yes I’m excited and nervous – and Saturday is yet another birthday. We are going to spend the night at the Luttrell Arms – they did MTL’s 80th so well – but this time it will be just the two of us.

One of my blogging friends – Carmi – he’s a Canadian – a very experienced writer and journalist, told me – no matter how busy I was, to do some of the project every day. Oh didn’t I tell you? Well you know I have been blogging about my life for the last two years? I am now trying to get the 89,000 words onto one document to see where it’s at. Thank goodness I learnt to copy and paste but it’s easy to make a mistake and it will be a long on-going job. Oh you know you were interested in the meanings of different flowers and I gave you some of them? Well here are the rest:

Arum lily – burning love.

Carnation – white – always remembering.

Carnation – red – I carry a torch for you.

Carnation-striped – Wish I were with you.

Carnation yellow – You have disappointed me.

Daffodil – The sun always shines when I’m with you.

Dahlia – You are indifferent

Foxglove – I cannot trust you.

Honey suckle –Devotion.

Hyacinth – Please forgive me.

Lily of the Valley –You are sweet and pure.

Magnolia – Have courage.

Marguerite – I live in hope.

Narcissus – You are selfish.

Orchid – You have cast a spell over me.

Passion Flower – Trust.

Peony – Bashfulness.

Pinks – You are bold.

Rose pink-Please believe me.

Rose white – You are divine.

Rose yellow – Come back soon

Stock – Lasting beauty.

Glad you popped in and look the sun’s out and the wind’s dropped. Bye!


Monday, March 10, 2008

My own P.A.


Well actually it is P.C.A. - personal communication assistance, aka hearing aid in old money. I’ve been wondering if I’m making mountains out of molehills. Just because one can’t hear ’ t’ and ‘s’ and ‘f’ it isn’t the end of the world, but on a good day it’s a blasted nuisance; straining to hear the denouement of a radio play and missing it when the actor drops his voice , and on a bad day it’s like slowly slipping into oblivion. I can’t count the number of times someone has spoken confidentially to me at a gathering and whilst I smile hesitantly I’m not sure if they have told me they have just won the lottery or that their dog had just died.

On Friday we went to see Kate, an audiologist with lots of letters after her name. She immediately inspired me with confidence and we had a thorough chat about my symptoms, after which she examined my ears- noted my little perforation in my right ear and gave me an Audiogram which measures one’s hearing threshold and gives specific information about which part of the ear isn’t working properly and which parts of the hearing spectrum are missing.

I asked Kate what the perforation looked like and with the aid of a special instrument I was able to view it on a screen. It was all very clean and tidy and both she and, the ENT specialist agreed that as it had been there since the fifties – it would be best to leave it alone. In fact the hearing in that ear is the same as the other. I have high frequency loss- difficulty hearing softer high-pitched sounds (‘s’,’t’ and ‘f ’but no difficulty hearing the deeper vowel sounds. In quiet listening situations I can follow a conversation but when it gets noisy, I need amplification in order to hear clearly.

I then went to keep my appointment with the ENT man who was very busy and kept me waiting half an hour but he apologised and looked such a nice young man I forgave him. Kate had warned me we would probably go over the same ground again, which we did and he said he would write to my doctor and then sent me back to Kate.

Now we had to choose the hearing aid best suited to my loss of hearing and life style, and I was very surprised to discover that Kate had been partially deaf from birth and has worn hearing aids since the age of ten. She has worn all kinds of hearing aids and uses her real life experience to get the most out of modern technology. I was impressed when she showed me the PCAs she had in her ears.

The West Country Clinical Hearing Services are fully independent which means they look at all hearing aids from all manufacturers so they offer the best advice that will suit individual needs. We decided on the best one for me and I chose the colour – champagne. Kate asked me if I had any idea of the cost and told me the range of prices. She said my hearing loss was not as great as hers and mine was in the middle price range. I tried one in my ear and it felt quite comfortable.

Next Friday I go to have them fitted and have a 45 day trial. If I change my mind during that time I get my money back minus the consultation fee. Otherwise the cost includes free ongoing support and consultations for the life of the hearing aids. I’m having Delta 8000 which listens and thinks how to deliver the best combo of sound quality, speech understanding and comfort in all situations. It had a built in memory that registers the characteristics of my different sound environments. Kate can then fine tune Delta to match specific needs. There’s more to the science bit but it can wait until I actually have it on my person.

Gale Force

If Janiveer’s calends be summerly gay,

‘Twill be winterly weather till the calends of May.



The forecast was right for once – we woke in the early hours with the wind roaring and the French window of our bedroom rattling away. Fortunately it held and the large tree that overlooks the garden is still standing- it’s about to be pruned – but the lawn is covered in magnolia buds. According to the radio many roads and bridges are closed, services withdrawn, there are flood warnings, winds of 80mph and snow hither and yon. Best stay at home today if possible.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


Story contd.

The day after William’s’ query heart attack’ I visited him in hospital and was somewhat reassured. The doctor said that as the same thing had happened to a man in our street, it could be a viral infection. William himself was highly indignant that a nurse had put talcum powder on him; he was never going to be a fan of male cosmetics and as soon as he was able he was sitting up in bed with pad and pencil, asking the medical staff questions. One of the doctors asked him what his profession was and said he wasn’t at all surprised when William said he was a statistician.

When the tests came back and confirmed that he had indeed had a heart attack we went through the trauma once more. I considered that the boys and William were in my care and I felt responsible – as if it were my fault. The doctor pointed out that his parent’s medical history were part of the problem. Meanwhile our lives were on hold until we could get back to some sort of normality.

The boys were great – taking it in their stride and casually dropping in – with their friends – as teenagers do – to visit their father, which delighted William and mesmerised the nurses. No amount of nagging from me would inspire William to adopt a healthier regime so I was relieved when he decided to tackle the problem scientifically and after reading countless books stuck to a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.

Heart attack and stroke victims are not the easiest of patients – understandable when you consider the frustrations they must feel- and at times I felt I was walking on egg-shells. Once he was well enough to go home we had a talk about the future. His doctor told him he shouldn’t become a ‘coronary cripple’. In other words get on with your life. He was 48 – the classic age for a coronary – a non smoker, but his mother had always shown her love by giving him enormous portions of food and so he tended to be a little overweight. Once he had read a few diet books (I think the Scarsdale diet was one of them) and adopted their principles, the weight dropped off him. Strange pounding noises came from his study where he would be doing Canadian Air Force exercises – they were famous then and even Prince Phillip was said to do them.

I asked William to give up his job in the city and stop commuting. We could downsize – the shop was doing well- we could make do with one car and live more simply. William was adamant that he would not give up his job and when I suggested that, at least we should share the responsibility and I take some of the financial worries like paying bills etc he thought I was criticising his ability and went into a sulk so I had to leave it to him.

Slowly but surely he got better and after a convalescence which included a spell in Queen Victoria’s second home on the Isle of Wight, he went back to work. Because of his illness we had missed the canal holiday so I suggested the two of us should have a late summer holiday abroad – our first alone together since the boys were little. We went to a Travel agent in the town and after a while I despaired of our ever agreeing about anything.

At last we settled on a trip to mainland Greece – the first for both of us. I t turned out to be a spiritual home. From the moment we looked down from the plane on that incredible sea we were hooked for ever. Now there were two places where we could live peacefully together - on a boat and in Greece. We walked, hired a car, explored the countryside and rode donkeys up a mountain. Whilst I read on the beach William would go off with his phrase book and often end up arm in arm with an ancient Greek.

The first time we were on the beach a grizzled man with a Greek moustache grabbed William’s arm and guided him into the water. Slowly we realised he just wanted to show this stranger what a wonderful place his country was – and we were captivated.

The holiday did us both a power of good and reminded us that we still valued each other’s friendship.


Years later when we lived separate lives, William’s death was a shattering experience. The boys and I decided that, as I was persona non grata with William’s family, it would be easier all round if I didn’t attend the funeral. Vanessa, my old nursing friend who William had been fond of, kindly agreed to go as my representative. William’s brother, at the Wake afterwards, approached and asked her who she was. When she said she was an old friend of Pat he walked off without a word.

On the day of the funeral I sat in our local church and felt quite numb. That summer MTL and I were in Greece, sitting in a beach café, when the grief caught up with me and MTL sat patiently by whilst I sobbed until I could cry no more.

Delphi - the centre of the world and our spiritual home.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

News Flash


Tomorrow is going to be hectic as I have 2 appointments in Taunton and our lane is going to be closed all day ( somebody's drains). I'm conscious I haven't done the next Past Imperfect episode but should manage it at the week-end DV. Hopefully I'll get my hearing problem sorted.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Our lunch venue.
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Around Bath

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The Andrews Sisters!
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A Trip to Scarborough


Last Saturday we had another trip to Bath to see Alan Ayckbourn’s play, ‘A Trip to Scarborough’ which is based on R.B, Sheridan’s original play. We were told not to worry too much about the plot but just sit back and enjoy. This was good advice as there were three different time periods; the 18th century, WW2 and the present day – sometimes seeming to be happening at the same time. The 15 actors had three roles each and we understood why there was no information about scenes in the programme, as all the time scales merged seamlessly into each other.

It was all fairly chaotic and we felt bewildered by the interval but there was much to be enjoyed. The setting is the Royal Hotel, Scarborough and the two constants are the hall porters. The actors work extremely hard with all the costume and character changes and make the usual excellent Ayckbourn cast working as a first rate team. There’s a lovely bit where three chaps – in their cups become The Andrew Sisters.

There was a three piece band and I was thrilled to see Dennis King strumming. Anyone remember the King Brothers from the fifties? Dennis was the youngest and looked great. There was some singing and dancing and even a very moving moment when a young wife was told her fighter pilot husband was missing presumed…

You could tell when it was the present day with the constant use of ipods and mobile phones.

We had lunch at The Garrick’s Head – Bath Restaurant of the year 2007. I loved the mussels but I always prefer something sweet with pork although there was nothing wrong with the dish and the puds were great. A crisp sunny day and all in all, good fun.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

From Viktoriya's Gallery

Recently a friend told me her husband had slipped on the ice and was badly bruised. This has left him with two frozen shoulders which causes a lot ot pain, sleepless nights and a great deal of disability. This is especially irksome to someone who is normally very active especially in his beautiful garden. Now even driving is off limits. I recognised the dismay in her eyes as she saw far horizons vanishing and the boundaries getting ever closer. This has happened to many of my friends. I'm thinking of starting a CWWC - a clipped wings wive club. There are a lot of us around.
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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Chit chat


New readers have been asking about episodes and as regular readers know the life story episodes are headed ’Story contd.) and the rest ’asides’. I must go back and check the early ones. At present I am putting them all on one document- for my own convenience to facilitate editing etc.

This place where we live is a desert as far as getting any help with maintenance. They don’t turn up when they promise, the odd one is not good when they do, and the good ones have years of bookings ahead. We pay what they ask, we pay instantly, and we provide copious drinks and biscuits so what is the problem?

I’ve got everything crossed at present as Margaret told me of this woman gardener – not a designer - a real 'hands on worker'. She came to see me last week and if she can persuade one of her clients to have her once a fortnight instead of weekly, she will be mine – all mine! She will let me know within the week so today I took advantage of the sunshine and started tidying up. She wasn’t fazed by the garden, and thought it was all lovely. The maintenance inside and out has been worrying me lately and I told MTL that if we didn’t get help we couldn’t stay here indefinitely.

I finally had a hearing test last week and apparently it is just the high registers that aren’t good which – according to my doc – mean that S’s and T’s are indistinct so that people seem to mumble. (Is there anyone in the whole world who can tell what in tarnation ‘Max’ in ‘Corrie’ is talking about? Mind you I’m not worried – I think Tania has plans for him. Serve him right!)

Sheer volume wouldn’t necessarily help so next Friday I see an audiologist and then an ENT specialist. I think it was Granny P who advised doing something about it whilst I could.

Some nice news for Mother’s Day: our French grand-son having won the County Championship in November has now won the Regional Championships for the ‘Centre/Loire Valley (he won 6 games out of 7 and has qualified for the French National Champion ships in April. Go mon petit choux! Oh BTW I’m talking chess!

P hard at it in the old garden with Mum
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