Tag Archives: About me

Me And EU

29 Apr

The EU referendum is coming up; I’m feeling a little down because I’m truly undecided: I see pros and cons for in and out.  I’ve been going back and forth on this.  The top and bottom of it is, however, that I feel British, not European.

That got me thinking about what makes me British:

  • The Queen (obviously)
  • Rain
  • Queues
  • Peculiar Spellings (previous answer refers)
  • Earl Grey Tea
  • Big Ben
  • Cadbury’s Chocolate
  • The NHS
  • Polite Silences
  • Football (NOT ‘soccer’) (What kind of word is ‘soccer’ anyway?  It’s just weird)
  • Carry On Films
  • Stamps
  • Snow Panic (Three flakes?  Shut down the country!)
  • Shakespeare
  • Fair Play
  • Humour
  • Austen
  • Pragmatism
  • Coronation Street (even if you don’t watch it, there’s nothing more British than busybody small business owners clustered together down the pub, gossiping)
  • Stiff Upper Lips

None of these things help my decision, sadly – unless Europe wants to make this a republic, in which case I’m throwing the towel in and voting out.  I’m a royalist through and through and I have the stamp collection to prove it.

Tell me, what do you immediately think of when you think of Britain and the British?  Stereotypes welcome here.

 

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?

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:

DSCF3386

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.

My Eyes! My Eyes!

7 Nov

I think I’ve kept you waiting long enough, but be warned: my new room is not for the faint of heart.  You see, I have this problem of never letting anything go to waste on account of having little disposable income.

The Hub bought a job lot of matt paint – something like 30 litres for £15, two colours: fuchsia and honeysuckle.  I decided the fuchsia was too dark and opted for the honeysuckle.


DSCN3447I needed gloss for the woodwork and I needed a fair bit because I had five pieces of furniture, none of which matched.  Aldi had paint on sale, but not much choice.  I thought I could mix white and bright yellow and make pastel yellow.  There’s a reason I’m not paid to think.

I put on my painting pyjamas, prepped the room, and mixed those suckers.  Did you know that white gloss and bright yellow gloss mixed together make bright yellow gloss?  Me neither; but they do.

The Hub was ill in bed; I was pyjama-ed up, spent up and raring to go, so I went.  I figured that if I didn’t like it, it could act as an undercoat for the time when I could afford to buy pastel yellow gloss. But you know what?  I like it.   Actually, I love it.  It’s, um, bright, but so cheerful.

DSCN3449

If you come to stay, you’ll be using this room so you’d better learn to love it, too. But bring a sleeping mask.

I did have one little problem.  After emptying a tray of four tubs of honeysuckle, I noticed a few white patches where I’d missed spots.  I pulled a tub from the next tray in the shed and daubed over the patches.  It was only once it dried that I realised that the contents of tub no. 5 were a slightly different colour – noticeable, but only if the sunlight comes in at a certain angle.

I was bored with painting by this time so, instead of re-doing the whole room, I placed pictures and furniture in strategic positions and voilà!  One room painted one colour.  Honest.

You’ll see a South African table cloth in this next photo, used as a picture.  That’s where the biggest number five daub is.  I think the blue breaks up the blinding luminosity rather well (and I already had it in).DSCN3443

The room cost no more than £20 to re-do, if I include the curtains (charity shop: £1.75), lamp shade (charity shop: £1.99) and cushions (car boot sale: 40p).  

What do you expect of a woman who once papered a bedroom with stickyback plastic?  Class?  You haven’t been here long, have you?

The carpet is fourteen years old and has been through two teenage boys so I need a rug until I can replace it.  Anyone got an old rug covering their compost heap?  You know I’ll give it a good home.  But it needs to be a tasteful colour, like orange.  I have my standards.

 

Eyes, Look Your Last…

7 Oct

Spud’s old room:

Photo by Best DSC!

I’m going to be AWOB (Absent Without Blogging) for a week or two, as I’ll be decorating my new room in proper girlie colours – honeysuckle, pastel yellow, pink accents.

See you on the other side!

That Was The Week That Was (I)

19 Aug

 

Such a good looking boy...

Such a good looking boy…

Hello Readers.

I don’t know if you remember me – I used to blog.  I’ve been so busy lately, however, I haven’t had a chance – well, we’ve had a couple of weeks here at Tilly Bud Towers!  A bruised scapula from chasing a rabbit; a septic appendix; and a hysterical teenager.  Not to mention exam results and poetry readings.  I’ll break it down into diary form or it will take up a third of the page just to repeat, ‘…and on Suchaday we…’  It will probably take a couple of days to regale you – you know I can never make a long story less than Lord of the Rings length.

Saturday 9 August

In the week prior to a week-last-Saturday, First World War anniversary fever hit me hard.  The Hub, Spud and I attended a candlelit walk around the park on Monday 4th, along with several hundred others, following a piper and six flag-wielding WWII veterans.  A short service followed before the Last Post was played, and all candles were extinguished at eleven p.m., to signal the moment one hundred years ago when Britain began to be at war with Germany.  It was incredibly moving.

I don’t know if my non-Brit readers know the story of Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, but it is worth repeating:

A friend came to see me on one of the evenings of the last week […]. We were standing at a window of my room in the Foreign Office. It was getting dusk, and the lamps were being lit in the space below on which we were looking. My friend recalls that I remarked on this with the words: “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”

From Grey’s memoir, published in 1925

DSCF1354To commemorate the start of the war, my church held an open morning with the theme, The Lamps Are Going Out.  As I was one of two people organising it, I spent the whole week working with my friend Pam The Great Administrator (she’s amazing and must only be spoken of in capital letters in my hearing) to collect artefacts, set up a slide show, arrange for costumes, rehearse poems and heavily promote the event.  The last bit worked especially well because we more than quadrupled our usual Saturday morning numbers.  Actually, it was even more than that, only I don’t know the correct term for ‘five times as many people came into church than is usual’.

We expected two tables of old bits on display but we had six.  Some people brought a table’s worth alone, and stayed with their stuff to chat to visitors and explain the (fascinating) history.

Pam baked delicious Anzac biscuits.  The children decorated glass candle holders.  We had period music playing in the background.  And Spud and I gave two readings of poems written between 1914-1919.  The whole event was a huge success, not least because it reminded us of what was sacrificed, at home and abroad.  Spud remarked to me that, as he was just eighteen, if he’d been born a hundred years ago he would probably have been off to war with all of his pals.  A sobering thought.DSCN3284

Sunday 10 August

Morning

Church followed by Stockport Writers.  It was my turn to chair.  I wanted to take the August meeting so I could use the theme, The Start of the War.  I hadn’t considered, three months earlier when I put down my name, that it came back-to-back with yesterday’s event and I woke up in a cold sweat in the middle of Thursday night, realising that I had nothing prepared.  Two hours and one irritable Molly later, it was done: I pared fictional and actual events down to their bare essentials – e.g. the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand became An angry teenager with a gun – and used them as prompts.

Afternoon

I had been in five minutes and had just poured boiling water into three mugs when there was a knock at the door.  A neighbour had seen a runaway rabbit and called at my house because I was on the corner and therefore would probably know who it belonged to.  With logic like that, it’s hard to believe we can win a raffle, never mind two world wars.

Still, I’m a sucker for a scared pie filling so I went out to help, calling for my pretty assistant the Hub to come along: animals love him and if anyone could catch it, it would be him.

Turns out anyone couldn’t catch it, including the Hub – it sat in a shrubbery patch, snaffling the carrots we used to entice it and ignoring the umbrella-thrashing we gave the bushes in an attempt to frighten it out.  The last we heard, it had eloped with a runaway pig and they had set up home in Tamworth.

The poor Hub didn’t have such a lucky escape: it was raining and he slipped on some cobbles, landing flat – hard! – on his back and breaking his watch, to the amusement of those neighbours who had come out to watch us chase the rabbit but felt no need to join in.  Or to help him up.

When I got him back inside, Spud was in a spin: having had a late night, he had only just got up.  He came downstairs to find half-made tea, still warm; the car in the drive; the back door unlocked; but no parents.  He tried calling us but our phones rang inside the house…he was creeped out like only a half-asleep teen with a vivid imagination can be.  The Hub would have laughed if it hadn’t hurt so much; but he refused to go to the hospital.

The Hub wasting away because of my neglect

The Hub wasting away because of my neglect

*

Tune in again – date to be determined because the excitement is still ongoing.

Coming soon: A day trip to Wales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vivinfrance's Blog

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

Unpicked:Restitched

Where is the heart of Stockport?

The Jog

notices and reflections in ministry

The Cvillean

The adventures of little read writing Hood

Guernsey Evacuees Oral History

An Overlooked British Evacuation

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