Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Where did our Spring go?

And it's worse in Scotland and Ireland poor loves! I'm going to brave the elements to meet the girls for coffee and give them the last of the birthday cake. Back in time for Tim and - hopefully - the end of present 'puter' problems with the help - according to Jimmy - of a Japanese fridge and some memory - hope it's a nice one.
BTW don't Donna and the other Jimmy look great?

Monday, March 29, 2010

All’s well.

A few days ago I wrote:-

I’m worried.

One of my oldest friends J – we were toddlers together - has always, for the last thirty years, remembered my birthday as I have hers and I had a chat with her in February on her birthday. After a day or two I realised I hadn’t heard from her and then had an anxiety dream about her. Yesterday I phoned and left a message asking her to phone when she could. When I got no answer today I phoned E the third member of our toddler trio and she only had Christmas contact with J so knew nothing. We all live far apart.

It was as if a great cloud was hanging over me. I phoned her number repeatedly and then I remembered her brother had been in touch with my SIL after my brother died; she gave me a dubious email address and still I heard nothing. On Friday I decided to take all the birthday cards down to make it easier for Sheila to dust. There was time to read them more carefully and I spotted one which I had read as my friend Joan from another era but was it perhaps Jean? I find it difficult to throw lovely cards away and managed to find an old one from Jean and her late husband so there was no doubt who it was from. Both MTL and I compared the handwriting and it had to be from Jean – not Joan. Joan has only been a friend for 40 years so she’s allowed to forget my birthday.

There was still the problem of my worrying dream and the fact I couldn’t get a response. Then in the middle of marvelling at Joan Collin’s gutsy interview with Piers Morgan (I wonder what Katie Price will look like at 76?) the phone rang and it was my dear old friend Jean -just back from a holiday abroad. We had a long reassuring chat and she understood my concern and was relieved her card had got through. Below is a snap taken some years back of Jean and her late husband when we met up in Yorkshire near our old cottage.

P.S. I’m having problems staying on line so on Wednesday am having a new modem equivalent fitted - all I know is it is white and Japanese – more later – and also more memory. Hopefully this will make life easier. Today so far I can’t publish this or call round and visit so please excuse me.

Jean and her late husband in Yorkshire.

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fashion note

In the thirties - no matter how humble, hats were worn - for Sunday school anyway. Top left is Jack, top right is Mabel- brother and sister of Elsie bottom right. The slightly scruffier bottom left is me. I think Elsie and Mabel look so smart.

Our school St Annes Edgeside was at the bottom of our lane. The headmaster 'Herman' was quite terrifying. He barked at me 'What's 11 elevens Pat B?' I froze and as he turned to the cupboard to get the cane Roy Huges mumured whatever the answer was. My brain refuses to remember. This is about 1939 just before war broke out. Roy is on the second row from the top - third from the right, Elsie is second row fourth from the left and the missing Jean on her right. Pat is front row on the left.
Roy was a naughty boy using bad words and I got on my soap box and must have made an impression because Roy said the next boy to use a rude word and smashed his fist on his palm and became my hero - for about a week.
The news is good about Jean - more later.

Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 26, 2010

Off to the Flicks

MTL didn’t fancy wearing 3D glasses so Avatar and Alice in Wonderland were off the menu. I thought An Education sounded interesting especially as it’s the film of a book written by journalist Lynn Barber about her life in the sixties when, as a teenager she fell in love with an older man and was actually encouraged by her parents. This is quite shocking as an Oxbridge education was on the cards for their daughter and the older man was involved in sleazy business with the notorious fifties landlord Rachman. Oh and he was married with children.

It was all delightfully familiar - I didn't partake so I remember the sixties -with the music of Juliette Greco, Jacque Brel and those exquisitely coloured cigarettes Balkan Sobranie. The love affair with France rang bells – as my boys use to say – teasing me:

‘If it’s French it MUST be good.’

Although I was in my thirties then I recognised the hopes and aspirations she had as a teenager (more proof of my arrested development - keeps you young though) and I

didn’t have an affair and go to Paris with an older man.

The acting – with one exception was Oscar worthy. Carey Mulligan as Jenny was

nominated as best actress. Peter Sarsgaard as David was convincing

as someone you’d ditch your ambitions for, Rosamund Pike was delightful as a vacuous blonde and Dominic Cooper as Danny completed the young quartet.

Emma Thomson selflessly played the unsympathetic head mistress.

I’m afraid I found Alfred Molina too dominant a personality for the role of the father. His extraordinary looks seemed out of place amongst such nuanced performances.

The film was just my cup of tea and succeeded in making me want to read the book.

Lynn Barber had to decide whether to tell all and risk upsetting her elderly parents,

now in their nineties in a retirement home. She felt she had been a dutiful daughter for 65 years and now was the time to tell her story – a decision most writers of memoirs have to face sooner or later.

MTL had his eyes closed every time I looked in spite of the occasional deafening bursts of sound – at the dog race – for instance. Why do they do that- it’s so jarring and completely unnecessary in such a film. There was a scene where the heroine was on a bus and I watched carefully as she rose to get off the bus – interested in what handbag she had and was surprised to see she had none but in the next scene – voila there it was. A mild lapse in continuity?

An Education had me - not quite in thrall – but thoroughly entertained. See photos below.

The excellent young quartet in An Education

Carey Mulligan - Oscar nominated as Jenny

Rosamund Pike - delightful as a vacuous blonde

Dominic Cooper as Danny and Peter Sarsgaars as the dishy David.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Yesterday was our first ‘girl’s day out’ since Margaret left for Cheltenham and it was also to be my birthday treat. Joy and her invalid husband both fell prey to Noro virus last week and were still feeling frail but as Margaret had already bought her train ticket it was decided to meet anyway – but we were down to three


Jackie and I were going to use our bus passes – walk down to Minehead and catch the 9. 40 ish half hourly bus which takes roughly an hour and a quarter- going round the houses - to drop us at Taunton station. On the phone the night before Margaret thought she and I should have our mobile phones with us.

‘I’ll just get the number.’ By the time she found it I was hoping this was a free phone period and then she asked me for mine and there was another lengthy commercial break.

The next morning Jackie and I set off – our lane was closed for repairs – even to pedestrians - so we diverted down a ginnel (narrow path) opposite our house negotiating dog poo and a landslide (honestly!). The weather was fretful so we were dressed for warmth and comfort rather than chic.

We were first in the queue so I was surprised when a woman 5’x 5’ stolidly planted herself in front of us and boarded the bus first, only to get off after two stops. As MTL had pointed out it would be a useful experience for me. I’ve often wondered if anger management classes would work.

I decided to see if the phones worked – both of us are rare users. I managed to get Margaret and tell her we were on the bus en route to Taunton – she was on the train and her voice had dropped a couple of octaves so we didn’t linger. She told me later she – unwittingly - had taken a ‘quiet’ carriage and got black looks when her phone rang.

By 11.15 am approx we were reunited with smiles, hugs and the odd tear. In spite of the excitement of a new life and being near her daughters it was clear throughout the day that Margaret is missing her former life and I suppose it is easier for us having the continuity. Also they have had unlooked for hospital visits and health issues since leaving. Whoever it was who said that moving house was one of the greatest stress inducers was right on the money.

We walked into town and found somewhere for coffee and a long catch up. They gave me a far too generous birthday present of garden tokens and the absent Joy had written:

The breath of flowers is far sweeter in the air than in the hand. May your ‘Arbour’ flourish and give you joy. With love from the ‘Girls.’

The weather was a misty murk so we ignored the shops and made our way to the river and the theatre which does lunch. It was unusually quiet so we had wine, quiche and salad and sat and talked – occasionally inspecting the weather outside – which had settled into resolute rain. And that was it really; by the time we parted to take our different paths we were heartened and renewed with the knowledge that - regardless of distance -our friendship will be lifelong.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lovely Day contd.

The other thing I didn't notice was this poster which my photographer son had made from a photo he took on our walking trip last year.
It's waterproof and everything;)
Posted by Picasa
Oh what a lovely day

The plan was that one of the boys - having driven from London - would collect us
and deliver us to the Carew Arms where the others would converge. In the event both boys turned up having left their wives in the pub.
The dazzling sunshine had blinded me a little but I made out my two DIL's and a large table liberally scattered with 80s, an 80s sparkley tree, a bag of presents and a bottle of Creme de Cassis which we can no longer get in Minehead.

'Hi Grandma!'
Oh joy - Sam , Tom and Alice had made the journey from London, Birmingham and Wiltshire to be with us. I'd been asking about them in the car and being told fibs so it was a complete surprise which took my breath away. Both boys are 6' plus and Alice is now taller then I am.

This is one of those invaluable presents which means it's light enough to go into my handbag so I don't have to scrabble for lipstick, brush and compact - from our Australian grand-daughter
Pat with sons and grandson.

A Buttterfly birthday cake - even the ones that look like paper are edible. We didn't just eat cake. We mostly chose from a selection of roasts with their delectable vegetables and the desserts as usual were perfect - lemon meringue pie for me which I found so absorbing I forgot to try MTL's. As we were having coffee an enormously jolly party arrived for lunch who were the Pantomime company of Crowcombe. Obviously Crowcombe is quite a fun place to live.
A vintage Ossie Clark jacket and a book written by someone my #1 son has got to know - a memoir - he's 78 and had a fairly chequered career which should make interesting reading- were amongst the lovely presents.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I’m worried.

One of my oldest friends J – we were toddlers together - has always, for the last thirty years, remembered my birthday as I have hers and I had a chat with her in February on her birthday. After a day or two I realised I hadn’t heard from her and then had an anxiety dream about her. Yesterday I phoned and left a message asking her to phone when she could. When I got no answer today I phoned E the third member of our toddler trio and she only had Christmas contact with J so knew nothing. We all live far apart.

I went to the hair salon today for tomorrow’s lunch party and the computer had no knowledge of my appointment and the stylist was up to her eyeballs. This is when one wonders if all one’s marbles are intact. Happily there was someone to do it but I needed to know what had gone wrong – it was all down correctly in my diary. At last the computer revealed that the appointment had been booked for February20th instead of March 20th.

‘But why didn’t you ask why I didn’t turn up? ‘ there are dreadful penalties for this as a rule. I suppose as I booked it a month early it confused them and I’m relieved that it wasn’t my mistake. Anyway I’m going to put worries and anxieties on hold until Wednesday when the fun will be over. The weather report is good for tomorrow.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

In Malto - Madness

Yesterday’s post reminded me off the months between my leaving home to join MTL and marrying him. We spent long evenings catching up on the thirty years we had been apart. I decided I wanted to tell him everything – no matter what - and I did – every last little indiscretion although looking back I think I did most of the talking. The trouble with secrets they have a nasty habit of resurfacing when you least expect it, and bite you in the bum.

For whatever reason MTL decided he wanted to replace all my jewellery, we are not talking the Crown Jewels here, but as a result, apart from Gran’s cameo and the odd present from the shop’s success - I threw the rest in the dust bin. I know, I know I should have given it to charity but it seemed the time for a grand gesture and much whiskey had been consumed.

It was just one of those things one does in the madness of the moment – I don’t regret it and neither of us drink whiskey any longer.

In Malto - Madness.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

MTL is a Scamp!

We chose this ring for my birthday. Our local jeweller had made it because he loved the stone and its boot sole faceting. It's a big one - not as big as the one Kirsty Allsopp wears but quite a knuckle duster for me. Somehow it feels right at this age. Remember the fantastic ones Dame Edith Sitwell (who famously said 'Why not be oneself?')used to wear? Well some of you might.

I asked MTL to keep it - after the finger size had been made smaller- and after a day or so he asked if I had it or did he. I assured quite forcibly that he did and then, on the day at breakfast there was a jewel box with a pretty gold brooch with an ice blue stone.
'Where's my ring?'
'I seem to have misplaced it.'
My heart sank at the thought of searching through the piles of books, papers and cardboard boxes which inhabit his study.
The wretch waited till coffee time to say there were a few other little gifts and there it was - actually gift wraapped by himself

It was meant to be a quiet day but the phone never stopped nor the door bell with lucious presents being delivered and the house is awash with sweet smelling flowers, plants, champagne and chocolates.
When we arrived at our favourite Italian restaurant a new girl asked us where was the wheel chair. We usually ask for a large table and she had concluded one of us was wheel chair bound.

Yesterday we went to the flicks which one of us enjoyed immensely - more later. I am very touched by all the sweet messages and aplogise for not calling round but will get back to normal soon. Fingers crossed the computer will have a proper spring clean today - I've been losing power and goodness knows what lately. I'll ask Tim to put my latest completed version of the book on the 'Store'n Go' USB

There's still the boys and wives to look forward to on Sunday and Margaret is coming to Taunton on Monday for a girl's day out . Yippee!

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 14, 2010

News Flash

On Saturday's post there is a big gap in the comment box and I can't seem to rectify it - you have to scroll down. So sorry:(

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A song for my Birthday - March 15th

P.S. 80 is the new 60. Bring it on!

P.P.S. Parsnip (side bar) has done a lovely painting for me . Take a look
If it takes forever I will wait for you
For a thousand summers I will wait for you
Till you're back beside me, till I'm holding you
Till I hear you sigh here in my arms

Anywhere you wander, anywhere you go
Every day remember how I love you so
In your heart believe what in my heart I know
That forevermore I'll wait for you

The clock will tick away the hours one by one
Then the time will come when all the waiting's done
The time when you return and find me here and run
Straight to my waiting arms

If it takes forever I will wait for you
For a thousand summers I will wait for you
Till you're here beside me, till I'm touching you
And forevermore sharing your love

Read Charlie's (side bar) post about this film. I still find the music heart rending.

(Michel Le Grand/Jacques Demy/Norman Gimbel)

If it takes forever I will wait for you
For a thousand summers I will wait for you
'Till you're back beside me, 'till I'm holding you
'Till I hear you sigh here in my arms

Anywhere you wander, anywhere you go
Every day remember how I love you so
In your heart believe what in my heart I know
That forever more I'll wait for you

The clock will tick away the hours one by one
And then the time will come when all the waiting's done
The time when you return and find me here and run
Straight to my waiting arms

If it takes forever I will wait for you
For a thousand summers I will wait for you
'Till you're here beside me, 'till I'm holding you
And forever more sharing your love

And forever more I'll wait for you

Spring Watch

Unlike the rest of Britain - according to the BBC - we have daffs!

The first primroses - by the end of the month the beds will be carpets of wild primroses.

No I didn't grow these- they came by plane.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Time for a Spring-clean.

Not the house – me. So I’m off for a facial and a head and shoulder massage to face a new decade with equanimity. The end results may not look much better but certainly make me feel good and the blissful time on the table is the nicest way to induce total relaxation.

On Monday March 8th I did a post on the use - or misuse - of babies in TV drama. As other people seemed to feel the same way I thought it only fair to go to the horse’s mouth and e-mailed the director of ‘Five Days – Toby Haynes. So far he hasn’t replied but in contrast -after another post I did ‘My Frank Opinion’ about Frank Gardner OBE on Wednesday February 17th I had an email from him yesterday thanking me for my kind comments and hoping I enjoyed his book Blood and Sand. I’m enjoying it so much MTL has excerpts read to him each night at bedtime.

I had a fright this morning when - about to finish off the last two chapters and epilogue - I found my document (if I haven’t worked on it in the last few days it disappears from Word and floats in the nether land but with the help of Windows Explorer I can find it) but could not open it and got that awful dumbbell instead of an arrow. After switching everything off and starting again with a quick prayer I was still getting a ‘not responding' message when suddenly it worked.

Everything seems to take forever these days and I suspect the computer needs a good seeing to so Tim – who sorted out my printer is coming next week to fix it. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fresh Horizons

Winter weather has confined us to a five mile radius for months now but the other day brilliant sunshine tempted us further afield and we decided on the Brendon Valley for a lunch trip. We drove through Porlock along the scenic A39, up Porlock hill on to Exmoor and past the Doone Valley on the left, hidden in a steep sided combe. Just before Countisbury we took a left fork and dropped steeply down and down and down to the Brendon Valley and the East Lyn River.

In the past we have taken friends and family to walk beside the river, crossed over the bridge to the Rockford Arms and then along the road back to the Staghunter’s Hotel. One memorable time I took the girls and we had a picnic sitting on rocks in the midst of swirling waters. A less memorable occasion was when a jutting wall hit my car and quite spoilt my lunch and was the beginning of my dislike of driving.

Today we had a good lunch at the Staghunter’s and reminisced about previous trips here. As usual there were plenty of walkers with dogs, happy to introduce us to their animals and engage in friendly conversation – it’s that sort of place. It has a secret cut-off feeling and would be an ideal spot if one wanted to hide from the world. I once convinced myself that a chap in the bar was Salman Rushdie at the height of the fatwa and all the unpleasantness I didn’t want to blow his cover so didn’t utter. Maybe it was my over active imagination.

Looking towards the hidden valleys

Down, down, down to secret Brendon

the Staghunter's Hotel.
Posted by Picasa
Brendon in Edwardian days

Posted by Picasa

The East Lyn River

Is that a cock?

View from the bridge.

That pesky wall jutting out just before a narrow right turh over the bridge.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 08, 2010

What were they thinking of ?

Last week there was an excellent five part drama on BBC1 written by Gwyneth Hughes and broadcast on five consecutive nights. It was a gripping many stranded story with a superb cast led by Suranne Jones and David Morissey. Then there was marvellous Anne Reid playing Suranne’s mother. She captured the tragic sadness of a woman losing her grip, mentally on life, but still able to attract a widower played by Bernard Hill who had already lost his wife to Alzheimers.

There are so many other facets to this play one of which involved an abandoned baby. This isn’t a criticism of the play but something I need to get off my chest. More and more babies – even new born - are being used in drama and in this particular series the baby was clearly in a distressed condition and left to cry which was just right for the play but not for the baby, He needed to be held and comforted by his mother or someone he was happy with.

There were night scenes outdoors and one began to wish for the days when a doll would be used.

And what about those toddlers who are used to portray child abuse for various charities. They are too young to just act it. Why do they look so desperately unhappy? Producers are always ready to point out that no animals suffered during the action but what about the children?

Is there someone responsible for the well being of these babies? I’d really like to know.

I did one TV advertisement with my baby many years ago and the deal was we stopped the minute he was unhappy and he was held throughout by his mother. No harm was done – in fact the director came off worse as my son swiped a tin of Heinz strained carrots over him. Then we decided to quit before he got concerned about his close-up and became a spoiled brat.

Anne Reid
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 07, 2010

If Proof were needed that Spring is on its way.

The first camellia. I had to bring it in the house.

These shameless hussies opening up to the sun.

The Cornus Mas - the first tree to start blooming.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Church where I had 'a moment'.

This is the harbour at Gozo an island off Malta. The little church is on the skyline and just below it you can see a white shape that is the Madonna. The road winds round behind the church or you can climb up a path from the road. Se post below for more details.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 04, 2010

A Pox on Updates

They always mean trouble for me so it has been doubly difficult to post the two awards which hopefully will be on the page when you read this.

My two friends Cloud Cutter and Naomi

have each given me an award and in return I have to write seven / ten things about myself so I hope they don’t mind sharing.

1 I have a substantial birth mark on my coccyx which few people have seen.

2 I lost half my left eyebrow when Marjorie Doran bashed me with a hockey stick. She cried more than I did

3 I’m an optimist but always try to be prepared for the worst and never take good fortune for granted.

4 I gained four and a half stone in my first pregnancy but lost it all whilst nursing the baby.

5 I passed my driving test first time after six lessons and no practice. Now I don’t like driving at all.

6 I couldn’t swim until I accidentally fell from a sailing dinghy in Greece. On surfacing I saw the dinghy 100 yards or so away – desperation made me swim.

7 In 1979 I left my marriage, home, business and friends to live with a man I hadn’t seen for thirty years. We’ve been married now for thirty one years.

8 I’ve always believed in a ‘Higher Being’ and some years ago in a tiny church in Gozo, Malta I literally ‘saw the light.’ The cleaners were about to close the church as they left for lunch but allowed me to enter. The only way I can describe it was that I was suffused with a warm golden glow which filled me with happiness. MTL could see something had happened and urged me to sit and stay for a while. I did sit momentarily but felt I couldn’t keep the cleaners waiting so we left. It wasn’t the beauty of the church – it was tiny and ridiculously over ornate. The experience consolidated my belief.

9 Years of rationing in WW2 made me addicted to all things sugary and my idea of bliss was a cream coloured crunchy meringue filled with clotted cream. When pregnant I was reunited with an old nursing colleague who remembering my addiction had a plateful which she expected me to eat. I hated to disappoint her and managed to stuff one of them down. Now I can take them or leave them.

10 In eleven days time DV I shall be 80.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Given to me by Naomi

After my last disastrous experience when I lost all my lovely awards these shall stay in my heart - not on my side bar.
Both Naomi and Cloud Cutter are on my side bar and well worth a visit if you haven't been there. Naomi is in the hills of Hollywood and CC in Mumbai India. Namaste!
Given to me by Cloud Cutter

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Let's Dance!

This was my party piece for years and I still know all the words. Altogether now...

Monday, March 01, 2010

Brian Cox
Posted by Picasa