Promises, Promises

12 Jan

IMG_0088I thought I’d tell you about two of my Christmas presents: the tourmaline necklace and emerald ring (no, it wasn’t my usual hyperbole; I really did receive a ton of gifts).

Our story begins a long time ago in a continent far, far away…the Hub was in Madagascar on business.  He was always away on business, which meant he spent half his time shopping for guilt presents for me and then only child Baby Boy.  

Browsing a huge market, he came across a stall selling precious and semi-precious stones.  He bought four for around R10 (roughly 2-3 pounds/dollars), including the tourmaline and emerald.

When he first gave them to me, he promised to have the emerald set in a ring as soon as we had some spare cash.  That was twenty-four years ago.

Life happened: we bought a house; he started his own business; we had another baby; we left South Africa; he became ill, etc., etc.  The stones languished in my jewellery box, forgotten, I thought.  I wasn’t particularly bothered; he bought the stones on a market stall – I wasn’t convinced it was even a real emerald.

Fast forward twenty-four years.  It was three weeks before Christmas.  The Hub raided my jewellery box and took the two stones to a local jeweller.  He figured that if he was getting one stone set, he might get a deal on another.  The jeweller was impressed by the emerald – rare colouring these days, apparently; and of very good quality.

The Hub was specific about the setting, because he knows I’m specific about jewellery – I don’t do big or bulky or fancy or showy.  I have a small frame and small hands and I like delicate and dainty and not too much of anything.

He went to collect them the day before Christmas Eve.  The  tourmaline necklace was perfect.  The emerald ring…not so much.  The setting was fancy; too fancy for this Hub’s wife, he knew.  He was adamant that it be re-set in time for Christmas.

It took the jeweller three weeks to get it wrong and 24 hours to get it right.  The Hub collected the ring in its new setting on Christmas Eve, packed it in a giant box to throw me off the scent, and had one spectacularly happy spouse on Christmas morning.

It took twenty-four years but the man kept a small promise he made to me.  That was the real Christmas gift.

Christmas Conversations

4 Jan

November

The Hub: What do you want for Christmas?

Tilly Bud: Nothing, really.  I could do with some new socks.  Oh, and I’ve run out of perfume.  Maltesers, of course.  A large Amazon book voucher.  And somebody better buy me the Outlander DVD or you three are going to have a miserable Christmas.  But nothing, really.  You know I don’t need much.

 

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The Week Before Christmas

Alex and I went to the local care home to join in with my church carol singing. We’re a small church but, even so, I was disappointed that he and I were the only people to show up.

Attendant: Who are you here to see?

TB: We’re here for the St Matthew’s carol singing.

Attendant: That’s tomorrow.

Christmas Eve

Here’s a conversation I never expected to have.  I was watching ‘White Christmas’ with Spud.  Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye were performing to ‘Sisters’.

TB: I can so see you and Sam doing that.

Spud: [Enthusiastically] Yeah!  I can, too.  I’ll speak to him about it.

TB: I’ve got the perfect dress you could borrow.

Spud: [Still enthusiastic].  Great!  Thanks, Ma!

*

Christmas Eve Continued

TB: Don’t let me forget the starter tomorrow.  Every year, I forget to prepare and serve the starter.  But not this year!

The Hub: I have faith in you.

 

Christmas Eve Continued Again

TB: Hub!  The dishwasher’s not working!  Argh!IMG_0095

Hub: I’ll fix it.

Three days and seven hundred handwashed-by-me dishes later:

Hub: I can’t fix it. [TB stares] Please don’t leave me.  I prefer hospital. [TB stares] But I’d rather not go to hospital. [TB stares] But we can’t afford a new dishwasher; it’s Christmas. [TB stares] Gulp.

Ten minutes later:

Hub: I bought you a new dishwasher.  It’ll be here on Tuesday.

Christmas Day

TB: Thank you, Hub, for the socks, the perfume, the Maltesers, the other sweets, the autographed photos of Cliff Richard and Chris Hemsworth, the tourmaline necklace, the emerald ring, the Outlander DVD and the twenty-seven stocking fillers.  I told you I didn’t want much; I’m glad you listened.

The Hub: You deserve it all, so sweet and undemanding as you are.

TB: [Blush]

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Christmas Day Continued

TB: Dinner!  Enjoy, my darlings.  Merry Christmas!

The Hub: Um, I don’t want to upset you but you remember how you swore you wouldn’t forget the starter this year…?

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Bank Holiday Monday

My brother was visiting from down south.

TB: Did you watch A Gert Lush Christmas? It was so funny.  [American readers, think redneck stereotypes

Bro [Who lives in the general area of the programme’s setting]: It’s really like that.

TB: Seriously?

Bro: Seriously. They had to close Cinderford CSI, you know; they couldn’t solve any crimes.  

TB [Walking right into it]: Why?

Bro: Because there were no dental records; and everyone’s got the same DNA.

 

Five Days After Christmas

TB: Hub!  The washing machine broke down!

Hub: I’m leaving you.*

*Not really; fear makes him babble.

 

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Six Days After Christmas

TB: Right, that’s my sack full of presents finally put away.  Everything was on my desk but I had to clear them to wrap Pam’s birthday present.  You know, I’ve got the feeling I’m missing something, but for the life of me, I can’t think what.

The Hub: The starters?

The Hub: Ow!

 

 

New Year

WordPress: Here’s your annual stats.

TB: Thank you, WordPress!  How did I do?

WP: 22 posts all year?  Loser!

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January 3rd

Friend Pam: Thank you for the lovely birthday presents!

TB: Presents?  It was just one present; the framed painting.

FP: No, no; you also gave me autographed photos of Cliff Richard and Chris Hemsworth.  Weird gifts, especially Cliff’s, but I loved the Chris Hemsworth one. Thank you so much!

*

And finally…less talking, more singing: here’s Alex with his friends, just before Christmas.

 

 

 

Untidy Lounge, Untidy Mind.

21 Dec

My house is cluttered; you know this.  

You also know that from time to time the mess gets me down even though, for the most part, I can live with it.

Last Wednesday was such a day.

This was my train of thought: I‘m never going to get rid of this stuff.  Well, not until there’s just me, anyway, and I can decide without argument what stays and what goes.

Here’s what I said to the Hub: I can’t wait until you die and I can get rid of this stuff.

Worst wife ever.

Wonder if I’ll get a Christmas present this year?

Miss Liberty at Sheffield University

8 Dec

The songover is Alex’s voice

You readers must be wondering why this blog seems to have turned into an Alex Cosgriff fan page.  The problem is, the Hub does nothing; Wary Boy tells us nothing; I remember nothing.  Alex is the only one who does anything worth writing about.

I can tell you that I did something on Sunday that I did exactly a year ago, but without the defecation: I went to a brass band concert with my friend Alison.  I enjoyed it.  

That’s about as interesting as it gets; if you want the poo story, I suggest you re-read last year’s visit.

This week, Alex is singing in a concert – with some dialogue, including narration by someone from The Great British Bakeoff (not Paul Hollywood or Mary Berry) – of the songs from Miss Liberty.  The cast is singing with a 40-piece orchestra.

Miss Liberty is a forgotten musical by Irving Berlin.  As far as is known, it has never been staged outside of the States, and has rarely been staged there.  As a result, the concert at Sheffield University is creating noise here and in the US. There have been some radio interviews and articles on the BBCThe Stage, PlaybillBroadwayworld and elsewhere.

For the background story on why it is being staged, read here.

The concert takes place on two nights, including four songs for one night only:

…on Thursday 10 December 2015 audiences will have the opportunity to hear world premiere performances of four songs that were cut before the musical opened on Broadway in 1949. They were discovered by McHugh and Malone in Berlin’s papers at the Library of Congress and special permission has been given to perform them for one night only by the Berlin estate.

University of Sheffield News

Can you tell me, then, why I spent all of yesterday upending Alex’s room to find the two suits, one jacket, one shirt, several ties, and two pairs of trousers Alex simply MUST have if he’s going to appear on stage this week?  And why that was a complete waste of time when I couldn’t find half of them – the suits in particular – and Alex suggested I look behind the door…and there they were?  I’m not in it, so why is there so much work for me?  That boy is taking a liberty.

I suspect I’ll get payback in being able to poke fun at him, however: Alex, who thought the modern dancing he did in Godspell was naff (and read here for how I let that slip to the choreographer), is going to TAP DANCE without benefit of any training whatsoever, in front of a live audience.

I’m cringing all ready.

Hee hee hee.

Tomorrow And Yesterday And The Day Before And Tonight

20 Nov

The Tree of War is no more.  Now it’s death in Macbeth.

Alex is playing Macbeth.  Here he is in rehearsal:

Photo (C) Cog Photography

That boy knows how to commit to a part.  So much so, he passed out briefly last night when the Witches yanked his head back while he was hyperventilating. Fortunately, the Witches were the only ones who noticed.  He said he came to, mumbled for a moment, then went straight back into his line.

He’s a physical actor.  He bruised his hand quite badly in The Tree of War, punching a piece of wood each night.  He also hurt his back a little, falling (as per the script) from the wall going over the top.  He didn’t say anything until after the run because he didn’t want any of that ‘health and safety rubbish’ putting a stop to his performing.

Here’s the Macbeth trailer:

An interesting fact: WordPress spell checker suggested ‘machete’ for Macbeth.  Who knew blog hosts could be so Freudian?

A Little Ocular Jocularity

23 Oct

Image from PictureSpider

I’ve had a busy few weeks, giving poetry readings and attending poetry events of one sort or another.  A lot of saliva flies around at poetry readings; have you noticed?  Sibilance by its very nature demands a level of spit not seen anywhere outside of a snake hissing contest.

The result of all that liberated discharge, however, is that at some point I contracted a cold.  I felt rough – really rough; rougher than a cold should make one feel; but I am of a delicate nature, of course, as I might have mentioned once or several hundred times.  I was useless for the first three days and then the mucus began its exodus and then it eased and then I started with a sore throat and then the sneezies came.

It was at that point, lying in bed feeling very sorry for myself, that I remembered that I had once read that you can’t sneeze with your eyes open, or your eyeballs will fall out.

Now this is one of those things that I believed I didn’t believe, so when I felt a sneeze coming on, I decided to try to keep my eyes open.  The things we invalids have to do to keep ourselves amused.

When it came to it, however, I chickened out. Apparently, I do believe that if I sneeze with my eyes open, my eyeballs will fall out. I was assailed with a terrible image of a huge sneeze and…plop…plop…stinging eyeballs caused by carpet fibres (apparently you can feel carpet fibres even though your retinas are literally detached.  In my world, anyway).   I could hear myself screaming at the Hub, My eyes!  My eyes!  Don’t stand on my eyes!  

There was I at three a.m., 52 years old and afraid to sneeze in case my baby blues fell out. (My baby blues are actually hazel, but ‘baby hazels’ doesn’t have the same ring to it).  I think may have overdosed on the cough medicine.

Tell me you’ve got a similarly ludicrous fear; please.  Eye don’t want to be alone.

A Grand Day Out

6 Oct
Everything you need for village living

Everything you need for village living

The conversation went like this:

Friend Pam: Look at these fabulous desserts at the restaurant where we took Mum and Dad for their anniversary.

Tilly Bud: Drool…

Friend Pam: I’ll take you there one day; you have to eat these puddings; they’re fabulous.

Will she, bud?: Droo…l

Friend Pam: Hang on a minute…your birthday’s coming up…I’ll take you for a meal on your birthday!

There is a God: Thank yo…r….oo…l…

And so it came to pass last Wednesday that I found myself heading out of Manchester and into Burnley.  To misquote Field of Dreams (and, in fact, tell an outright lie for comic effect), the only thing we have in common is that Pam came from Burnley; and I had once heard of it.

Pam suffers from a chronic condition: she cannot plan an event without it being a huge success and, as we were heading in that direction, she reasoned, why not go up the famous Pendle Hill (never heard of it) and be tourists in the famous Witch Trial/Trail area (never heard of it).  We could see the famous Eye of God (never heard of it) in the famous centuries-old church (never heard of it) where her husband had proposed to her (I’ve heard of him); call in at the Elizabethan Towneley Hall (never heard of it); eat lunch there (definitely heard of that!); call in to see her parents for some northern hospitality (we’re all famous for that up here); and finish off at the famous pudding restaurant (which sells other food but, seriously, who cares?).

The woman is a genius.

DSCF3292We had a fabulous day.  Pendle Hill was gorgeous; the witch business was fascinating and a little sad (hanging innocent women gets me like that; I dunno why).  The church was…open.  It was hard to believe we were in 21st Century Britain when we could walk into an open, unmanned church and be trusted not to damage/steal anything.  Amazing.  Of course, it probably helped that it was situated halfway up a mountain in the middle of witch country.

DSCF3264I forgot to take my camera but Pam obliged by taking photos with hers, including my request for a pic of the inside of the public toilet – it had a high cistern with a chain!  I was back in my childhood (complete with cold seat) particularly as, technically, it was an outside loo.  Pam and I have a friendly rivalry going to see which of us is most common and I think I win because I was born in a Liverpool slum and come from Irish peasant stock (hence the Liverpool slum): an outside toilet with a lock was a step up for me.

My favourite spot: The Long Gallery. Can you see me way back there?

My favourite spot: The Long Gallery. Can you see me way back there?

Towneley Hall was wonderful.  Walking through rooms which have been inhabited by who knows how many people over the past 500 years is one of my favourite things to do and I’m afraid my mouth got stuck in the Wow! position until it hurt Pam’s ears.  But that’s to be expected of a slumdog, of course.  I was, like, well impressed.

DSCF3297There was a slight change of plan when we saw the queue outside the restaurant door and, as we’d only had huge slices of cake for elevenses we decided – which is to say, Pam decided and I went happily along with any plan intended to feed me – to head straight for pudding paradise and eat there, calling in for a brew at Pam’s folks’ afterwards.  Which is just as well as Pam’s Mum was having her feet done and didn’t really want her guest to see that.  I don’t know why; I’ve got feet; I know how the whole thing works.

I am praying for the strength to dig in and climb out the other side

I am praying for the strength to dig in and climb out the other side

I forget the name of the place where we ate because I was too busy stuffing my gullet with a delicious carvery (which could have been called a spoonery because the meat just fell off the bone and the chef told me that sometimes he has to use a spoon to serve it) to write it down.  Pam tells me it’s called Sycamore Farm.  Check the desserts:

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Now tell me it wasn’t worth turning 52 just for that.

We rolled out of there for the short journey to Pam’s parents’ house and I’m not sure that it wasn’t the best part of my day.  Her parents are lovely and her mother is adorable.  She hugged me despite never having met me before and then gave me an entertaining rundown of some of her neighbours, past and present.  They included friendly drug addicts who ran in to help during a crisis to the creepy bloke who introduced himself with the words, I’m not a paedophile and I’ve got a letter to prove it.  Pam’s Mum – or I should say, Pamela’s Mum, because that’s what she called her the whole time; no one ever calls Pam Pamela, she’s too friendly to be full-named;  but you know what mothers are like.  As I was saying, Pamela’s Mum wasn’t convinced by the not-a-molester, though she was glad to see him go when he was arrested for his cannabis farm and stealing his neighbour’s electricity to supply it.  I can’t decide which of her neighbours was my absolute favourite, but it’s a toss-up between the biker who stripped and rebuilt his motorbike many times over fifteen years, in the middle of his living room and partner and children; or the dominatrix who kept a dungeon in the basement but lived elsewhere.

DSCF3278Don’t think that any of this is my usual hyperbole; I swear I had it straight from the horse’s mouth – which was wearing its false teeth at the time, as she happily informed me.  Only the best for Pam’s friends.

I think I love her.

Thank you, Pam, for giving me a brilliant day, showing me a fantastic time, and for having a wonderful mother.

All photographs courtesy of Pam Robinson.

Vivinfrance's Blog

mainly poetry, also quilts, pictures, life-writing and the occasional short story.

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