Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Season of Darkness . . .

Good Morning Dear Readers!

Welcome to this eve of All Hallows; I trust you are thoroughly refreshed by your time-slippage during the wee small ones? The entire business appears to have skipped by me as would a friskysome lamb in Spring and, some six hours or so after opening my eyes, here I am seated at the business end of my PC writing for you once more . . .

And writing and its chronology are very much writ large on my mind at this time because not only do I have the usual tranche of academic masterpieces to churn out  but I have also, rather foolishly one suspects, signed up to NANoWriMo which, for those of you with a life, stands for National Write A Novel in a Month. The idea is fairly straight forward; starting at midnight tonight I have until midnight on the last day of November to write and submit a novel of 50,000 words - that's 1,667 per day, a mere bagatelle!  Whether I will be able to do it or not I have no idea but I suppose it's something to while away those leisure hours -  of which I have none!

I am also sneezing with great magnitude and hardly able to see the screen which accounts for most of the red squiggles under the words - that and an inability to spell properly, not unlike a very incompetent witch - oh my! A topical joke!

I am going  to take a short hiatus at this point and retire to my toilette to sort out my shortcomings . . . I would like to also point out that the preceding sentence contained no medial references whatsoever, before the rumours fly!  See you shortly!

And here we are back again at 3.15 in the afterlunch, which was taken with Dr T in Nero; she has gone to do something very academic with ice-truckers - it is better not to ask! - and I have become "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" and have written to the local rag lambasting its sloppy standards of journalism and its kow-towing to local millionaire businessmen . . . I did also suggest that they pay me to write an column with an alternative bias - maybe you could all support this claim and send the editor an email . . . that would be sweet of you!

And so the day seemingly slips somewhat prematurely into eve and I begin once again to mentally list my tasks for the week and shudder in anticipation; a long, long week with very early starts and late finishes . . . not forgetting the odd novel or two to dash off in between . . . ah me! It also involves a lot of travel which can be used constructively and with benefit as long as I can maintain consciousness.    I realise that I sound very churlish and surly about the commitments I am making but, in reality, it is entirely not the case; Three of the days involve training and supervision and I'm pleased to be able to extend my knowledge and competence as far as relates to my clients; the writing is more  a 'maybe' than a 'must' but I see it as a chance to exercise the muscle which has so long been out of use . . .you can stop sniggering at the back, it isn't that amusing!

I have at least ceased my sternutations; I'm sure you'll agree that there's nothing quite like a prolonged series of semi-autonomous, convulsive expulsions of carbon dioxide from the lungs through the nose and mouth to really get one's day off to a flying start! And yet as suddenly as they begin, they stop and abnormal service is resumed, very bizarre indeed. . .

But enough, I hear you cry, darkness falls and we must hie and away in our guises to treat the neighbours to a trick or two . . . very well, I shall give you leave but don't stray too far, will you?

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

Saturday, 30 October 2010

A Question of Time . . .

Good Late Afternoon to you all ~ at last those of you in the same time zone that is!

Back am I from Liverpool and, for once, anticipating the extra hour in bed tomorrow with chopped tomatoes, onions and herbage . . . sorry, I mean relish. For, as you are no doubt aware,  at Three of the clock time ceases to be what it is for a wee while and becomes what it was, and then, counter intuitively, what it was is then what it is . . . you see? It's quite simple; do try to keep up!

So Liverpool . . . well, it was really nice to meet some of the other travellers on the course along with the lovely Dr Jo who did some very expressive explaining . . . however, other travellers were also very evident; one on the train there, for example locked  himself in the toilet and made seal noises  for fifty minutes . . . this was accompanied by the train slipping on the wrong type of leaves again . . . after all, leaves falling in Autumn is so unusual, isn't  it? You can't expect the train boffins to come up with anything to combat such a way out event, can you?  Anyway,  I got there and did the thing and came back - 'nuff said!

I also received another book to review from those awfully nice Waterstones people; they really are incredibly kind and when I have done the reviews I shall point you in their direction and you can spend your Saturday pennies there perhaps if the mood takes you . . .

We also have Halloween coming along tomorrow; The Old Duchess was married on that day 64 years ago and recalls it was so warm and sunny that she  " . . . only needed a cardigan" Bless! Whoops! I think I can feel as passage of time coming on again . . .

A Passage of Time

Rarely am I wrong about these things! A veritable Time Lord wouldn't you say?  Anyhow, 'tis now eleven of the clock and I've just had a lazy evening watching a Swedish horror film called "Let the Right One In" which I thoroughly recommend; some of you may find the pace a little unusual but if you've ever experienced Scandinavian cinema  -  and by that I don't mean the sort shown in grubby booths in Soho way back when - you will understand what I'm saying . . . there is a slowness and, in this case, a claustrophobia that was as scary as the subject matter . . . why not give it a go and let me know what you think?

Being in charge of time is, of course, a very tiring business and I think I may retire shortly to seek my straw in some sequestered grange and enjoy my extra hour to the full.

I hope all is well with you all and that you have a most enjoyable and luscious nocturne

'til next time

Be Seeing you !

Friday, 29 October 2010

And I: If wishes would prevail with me, my purpose should not fail with me. . .

Good evening my dear friends!

A stormy Autumn without and warm frankincense and myrrh within, the 'now' finds me tip tapping my blind man's cane cadence to you across the ether and waiting for the words to fall into your lives, noticed or not, read or unread, but still sent with warmth on this chilly night towards the year's end . . .

In the streets a sense of timeless untimely Mardi Gras, with masks, costumes and booze concealing the revellers or miscreants depending on your point of view, whilst the sky is filled with chrysanthemums of light and sound as the date we should always remember, remember, approaches swiftly on the ghostly heels of Halloween.

I have my words; words to write and read and remember and order and change and deliver and present and all, it seems, at one and the same time.  I place myself in ridiculous positions and put pressure to bear where it need not be . . . ah well, it is interesting I suppose, not unlike the Chinese adage about living in "interesting times"  only this is purely self-inflicted, a shot through the foot with a war - poet's ancient pistol taken for this purpose from the hostess of the Boar's Head Tavern . . . cryptic or crap-tic? I shall leave that for you to decide!

Back in the realness of now I have a considerable amount to do before tomorrow's jaunt to Liverpool - and this time I sincerely hope I get there! - much ado about identity and ethics; should be interesting - I shall report more on that later . . .

Today was rather up and down as one of my clients would say - I seemed to spend a long time travelling in very sardined conditions due, no doubt, to half-term and the eagerness of parents to lavish dosh on their teenage offspring to get them out of the house for a few hours! I must say three of them planted themselves on my table and were intolerable, in my opinion, all the way to Manchester . . . they seem so . . . lacking? There didn't appear to be any of the vital spark there at all - but that is undoubtedly more about me rather than a true reflection of them; they could be absolutely charming individuals . . . and not at all as moronic as they appeared. Can it be that, as access to everything in the world has become easier and quicker, it has for them become less fascinating?

I fear my aged curmudgeonlyness is to the fore and so rather than make you sit and listen to "Gramp's Grumps" I shall encourage you to fly off somewhere and enjoy yourselves . . . have pleasant eve and try to remember me when I wasn't old and miserable!

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

Thursday, 28 October 2010

"This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays"

And a very thrilling Þunresdæg  or Þorsdagr  to you all!

Those of you with a bent for Old and/or Middle English will be lepping up and down in your seats, one supposes, at the inclusion of a word or two of those much neglected tongues; I also include them for those of you without lingual ability but maybe curiosity and, without having to resort to catricide, I can reveal that it is merely the word for Thursday  - I thought it may please a very few selected readers, somewhere, some time . . .

It is all part of my master plan to bring little gobbets of education and illumination for your delectation; a plan not without its faults I do admit as it presumes that not only do you wish for this to happen but also that I have the pedagogic facility to make it do so - both rather large presumptions on my part for which I duly apologise!  I have this urge, this need, to pass on items of little or no interest so that they do not die and lie forgotten - and talking of which I can reveal to you, dear readers, that I was saddened (but not overly surprised) that no one saw fit to comment on yesterdays offering; I do agree that dear Viola is an acquired taste but rather pretty with it, don't you think?  I am putting together a facsimilie of "Flee the Lions" which will be available soon in pdf format ~ should you be interested , please drop me a line!

So, being in a  decidedly Carpe Diem -ish type of mien what does today lay before me like the feast of Babette? Well, it should be more reading  - and that will certainly take place as I have another appointment in Liverpool this weekend and need to be up to speed on stuff; that was not a drug reference by the way!  However, I do think a certain amount of theraputus retailus will take place as, in a few short hours, I will be accompanying the Old D on her weekly spree in the lauded halls of the mounting bill otherwise known as Tesk . . . before that I have a sneaking suspicion that a certain supermarket chain based in Debtsland is offering fig trees at a rather seductive price from today . . . hmmm!  Maybe . . .

And this evening I'm off to have more history stuffed in the old wetware once again at the Museum of Wigan Life where tonight's fare is the story of the Manchester Ship Canal which should be edifying indeed - I shall be taking my own teabag but relying on Rachael's cakes for sustenance!  So, all in all, a rather satisfying timetable . . . Oh, and for you news hounds hot on the trail of my boiler saga, the lovely Wendy has finally fixed the blessed beast which is now harrumphing in the corner and finally producing the goods - it is about 30 years old and should have been put out to pasture many a moon ago -  the boiler I mean not Wendy!

And so the morning wears on and it is fast approaching time for me to leave you here, sole in these fields . . . Sorry! I'm listening to Oxford Elegy as I write which is, as you must know by now if you are a regular reader of this blog, an adaptation of two of Matthew Arnold's poems "The Scholar Gypsy" and "Thyrsis" put to music by Ralph Vaughan Williams and contains the line "There, thou are gone, and me thou leavest here, sole in these fields" ;  I have yet to speak to another living soul who likes this as much as I do  - if any of you lost souls  have heard it and like it please contact me - if you haven't heard it and would like to do so please contact me with an email address and I will see what I can do!  Talking of such technical matters, I do need to set up an online space to store items such as pictures, music etc to enable those of you of a disposition to do so to download them at  your leisure and pleasure - if anyone has any suggestions on how to do this I would be gratified for the info! I was thinking of using Google docs but I am not sure if it allows others to access the files? I'm sure one of my geeky followers will have the answers I seek . . .

Geekdom is indeed a strange phenomenon; an article by the geeky and very beautiful Alice Bell in Guardian Science spoke of the self-same thing and made me think of all the women I admire for their geekyness - despite the inherent difficulties, I promised myself that I would not mention the lovely Dr Alice Roberts in this context, however, it seems I was fibbing mercilessly and so mote it be! I remember back in the mists of time when the dear lovely Joan Bakewell was referred to as the "Thinking Man's Crumpet"  - how the times have changed, eh! It is our preoccupation with image I suppose; we see someone like either of the Alice's and describe them in terms of visual rather than cerebral qualities . . .

Tempus Fugit and so must I; I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings today and they haven't taxed your patience too much . . . have a wonderful Thursday and, as this particular Child has far to go, I shall !

'til next time

Be Seeing You !


Edit: I spoke too soon and with haste; someone has commented on Viola - many thanks for that! :) 

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Lions In Our Midst and Other Stories . . .

Good Morning Children!

I thought we'd begin the day with a brief educational feature concerning the now little known but fondly-remembered (by some, at least) poet whose work I quoted the other evening.  I refer to Viola Da Gamba (1899 - 1983).  She was born, according to her unpublished memoirs,  in the last few minutes of the year, in the waiting room of Quainton Rd Station where her mother had bid farewell to her explorer husband Sergio on what was to be his last great adventure to discover the secrets of bow lakes in Patagonia.  The trauma of this parting caused her mother, Cordelia, to go into early labour and Viola made her entrance just before the century ended.

She had a somewhat unconventional childhood, living alone with her mother in a Buckinghamshire farmhouse which was populated with 'invisible friends' who would whisper verses to her and which she began to write down as soon as she was able; this accounts for the huge volume of work, most still to this day unpublished.  She was a bright child, although considered by some of her teachers to be a 'dreamer'  and managed to scrape an admission to St Biddulph's College, taking to heart the carving over the entrance gateway "Discretus non es si non fugis ecce leone" *, using this as the title for her first collection of poems "Flee the Lions!" published privately in 1919 (priced 6d and which sold 13 copies in her lifetime!)

Sadly, she didn't complete her studies, finding the rigors of college life - and the pronounced solidity of the people around her - too great a strain on her delicate nature and returned home to Bucks where she lived out the rest of her solitary life with her other worldly muses.  She died in 1983 from complications following an infected finger caused, ironically, by a splinter from a carved wooden lion sent by an unknown fan.  She is buried in an unmarked grave in the churchyard of St Olliphant's in Quainton Regis

I'd like to end this little feature by quoting in full the title piece of her 1919 collection:

Flee The Lions

And I, alone in this crowd, 
with its rushing, gushing solid fluidity
See the unseen figures 
Islands of retreat in the torrent
With words for my ears only and with care for my soul
"Flee the lions" they cry with anguish
And I hear them but cannot swim

So many mouths to feed on me
Hands encircle like jaws
Teeth  between my ribs until I am carcassed
And chewed by you all
You lions of youth, lionesses of the corridor
Prowlers of my room in midnight blackness

I listen to my voices
Unembodied as they are
Who hold me with their love
and silent solitude awaits
In the soil of my birth

Viola Da Gamba 1919

Her work isn't to everyone's taste - even I find some of it - illusive? - but I find her obvious love of solitude and life-long infatuation with loneliness quite  refreshing in a society where we all must be connected constantly with every one else... I find the last stanza of Lions strangely prophetic, don't you?

Anyhow, on with the day and due to the untimely death of my boiler which was limping along with the help of gaffa tape and blu-tack, I jest not - I have a bath of 2 inches of tepidity waiting for me . . . 

Enjoy your day whatever it may bring; I hope I have sent my black dog scurrying for cover - not Sally obviously! - and that it may not bother any of us with it's snarling presence for a while to come!

'til next time

Be Seeing you !

* "You are not wise if you do not flee the lions"

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Forecast for Today . . .

The question I ask myself, dear readers, is will it ever get light today?

If you look out of the window you will see that it is, not unlike yours truly, gray and miserable and very wet blanketish indeed; as I write the sweet plumberperson is scrambling about inside the remains of the boiler and, being small and petite, she is doing what seems to be a marvellous job and will, one hopes, soon have the vulcan breathing fire once more . . .  

My plans for the day? Well I am intending to pop into town for a few bits and bobs and, who knows, I may treat myself to an extended green tea and cheesecake  session although I must finish off the OU stuff first of course . . . it is definitely a 'sitting by the fire reading a book' type of day, although I concede it would ultimately be more profitable to be sitting by the PC writing a book type of day - I may take my mini and pose in Nero whilst composing my epic ~ sad, wouldn't you say?

Despite the fact that I thought I had made the arrangements in August it seems I was sadly mistaken and so must also make further arrangements to view a new pied a terre which is just around the corner from here; it has several advantages being new build, not least of which, one hopes, is that  it's energy efficiency should be somewhat higher than the sieve in which I currently abide plus it has an age restriction which should ensure that my ponderings are not disturbed any longer by the 24/7 house music party that seems to be ever present in the surrounding properties . . . we shall see but, unlike the pearl divers of yore which I  seem to refer to with some frequency in these musings, I shall not be holding my breath!

Earlier today a friend remarked that waiting for the boiler repair people always reminded her of the famous Flanders and Swann Song "The Gas Man Cometh"  in which each successive repair causes further damage and needs the attention of another 'professional' . . . Can you begin to guess where this is heading?  Yes, you're right!  We now need an electrician as fitting the gas part has broken an electrical part . . . ah me!  I am promised a 'bodge' today with a proper repair in the future . . .

I have received yet more replies from my MP in response to my lobbying which are surprisingly supportive  - although being in opposition gives one that advantage I suppose! And she is new and so keen to win favour; I could be doing her a complete disservice with those remarks but when one is used to dealing with the politicos of this world one's view tends to be less rose and more jade!

Allons! I shall return to my studies and hope the electric chicken arrives  before the permafrost;  I hope you have a spiffing day despite the gloom and doom of the weather and of this blog . . . as the late Nick Drake intimated it may become Bryter Layter

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

PS:  Found this as a possible cure for gloom via Richard Wiseman - what do you think?

Monday, 25 October 2010


"And fast the midnight seeks us
So swift it's arms around our waist
leads us to where tomorrow
Hides like a child in silence placed"

Viola Da Gamba "meditations of sleep"

My dear friends,

Just a few wee words to send you on your way to sleep or however you choose to spend the hours between now and then; today has been a busy and bitty one which I shall tell you of in the morrow whilst I wait for the plumbers to come once again to tap Vesuvius and make the springs bubble and gurgle with waters hot and soothing!

In the meantime I wish you all a very good nights sleep and apologise for the  brevity of this posting

'til next time

Be Seeing You !


ps: I thought maybe you would like this pic as a consolation prize? 


Sally in her extreme youth 2005


Sunday, 24 October 2010

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear . . .

Hello! What are you doing up a this time of night? Oh well, seeing as you are, come and sit closer to the fire away from the shadows at the edge of the room and let us share the last few moments of this frosty eve together . . .

Through the library window the great eye of the moon stares down at the already coated rooftops and silvered trees from the jewel-studded purple-black cushion of sky and paints the lawns with steely blue light; wise creatures know this is not a night to be abroad for any length of time and make such errands as they have short and shivery before returning to their lairs away from the forbidding gaze of this hunter's moon whilst we poor mortals sit by our inglenooks and fill our rooms with welcoming light to banish, at least for a little while, thoughts of our own mortality.

The dance of the flames causes the shadows to wash like waves against the wainscot and, with rugs and warming drinks, we find ourselves as shipwrecked mariners on a distant unknown shore, too afraid not to look into the darkness and wonder just what awaits us beyond the pool of crackling light . . . one by one, the tales we tell dispel our fears or hold them near to chill our already petrified souls and widen our sleepless eyes . . .

In this way we are like our ancestors in those days of caves; the fear never really leaves us, despite our modern life with all the lights and noise we need to drown out thoughts and feelings . . . on nights like this, if you sit quietly enough, you can see the past living still, just beyond the line of trees,  in the pool of light besides the river, in the eyes of those who know the way that death can fall from the sky with silent wings . . .

But there is no need to be afraid; an old man's tales at his fireside should not dictate your dreams!  Ignore his foolishness and take yourself to that sweeter part of life that is so much like heaven should be; surrender to your dreams and may they hold you safe until you wake 

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Verbage from the Herbage . . .

Good afternoon my dear ones ~ have you had a pleasant day?

The weather today appears to be a tad tired; it is lacklustre and slightly out of sorts and gives the impression of edging towards the edge of the room, wishing it could discretely leave and be done of the whole business . . . Evening, sitting on a rather unfashionable and indeed uncomfortable brocade chair and waiting to be asked to join the dance, pronounces the tea tepid, the discourse desultory and and the company contemptuous . . . I, meanwhile, am ignoring convention and am away from it all, tramping through the fallen leaves with words for you whirling like their erstwhile brethren through my mind waiting to be swept and piled up in a forgotten corner where only hedgepigs wander . . .

I must admit the day has been a bit of an in-between one; neither flesh, fish, fowl nor good red herring really . . .

I met dear Sister Cate and we availed ourselves of Nero's hospitality, although not at our usual window seat I have to say, which somewhat upset my delicate sense of balance . . . whence to the stately pile to catch up with the gossip and court chit chat of the Old Duchess and from that place to one of despair and gloom - well, Sainsbury's actually.  Many moons ago, in the fair city of Norwich, I was a regular visitor of the aforementioned store and used to marvel at the delights displayed there for our delectation; similarly so in Warrington some years after that where, I recall, cheese and marmite on toast with Sainsbury's wholemeal bread was a firm favourite!  Now the store just seems dull and really quite expensive!  It doesn't have the range of Tesco, nor the delight of Waitrose, it just seems . . . dull!  So dull in fact that I am forced to use a triad of the same adjective, a tiresome trinity, a humdrum troika of insipidity, to even begin to adequately describe the total lack of presence present there . . . 

I managed to buy some new herbs for the kitchen, my current ones are leggy and past their best, poor loves, and then sat like a chained up puppy waiting for release from it all . . . ah me!  I shall be worshiping at the temple of the mighty Tesc in an hour or so where, one hopes, the comestibles will do more than make me yawn in apathy . . .

As, I fear, is this edition of the blog! I can positively hear the cracking jaw-bones as yawns threaten to circumnavigate the head and boredom and ennui seep like porridge into our boots - and I'm sure we all know just how unpleasant that can be!   I can feel a passage of time coming on . . . see? just below these words!

A Passage of Time

See?  I was right! There was a passage of time and at the other end of it it's just after 10pm and I'm putting the finishing touches to this epic   - I'm obviously not at both ends of the passage at the same time, except in a quantum sense that is, which could well explain my confusion . . . it's either physics, cloud-computing or another attack of the lurgy!

So apologies to you all if this missive isn't massive or of any great interest at all; I will try harder in future to be entertaining and wit personified but it isn't always easy, is it? I shall finish now and sit in silent contemplation for a while . . . remembering the thoughts and words and leaves and pages that came as I wondered through the trees in the late afternoon, way back at the start of this blog . . .

Autumn seems a silent time, as though the world knows what's about to happen and is somehow holding its breath in anticipation or dread; breathing in and holding until the breath freezes in your lungs and burns with the fire of ice and Winter is with us again.

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

Friday, 22 October 2010

A Few Words Before Bedtime . . .

Good Eve my little weekenders; I trust you are having fun and generally behaving in a non-too-unsavoury manner . . . 

I am seated at my mini notebook pc with the sounds of QI burbling in the background; at one time I was an avid watcher of the said prog but these days it is rare indeed to find the TV even switched on unless it is something historical and factual . . . I probably sound very middle-class and aged in that pronunciation ~ I can assure you that is totally false impression to give and  untrue in every way in, except for the aged bit of course!

Today has been a travelling day with my weekly pilgrimage to the shrine of St Bury and during my train and trammage there and back again I had one quite lovely experience; as I was waiting to leave Bury the mist was quite low and, over a bridge just in front of the tram, passed a beautiful steam train - it may have been a Black 5 but probably not because of these  things I am singularly ignorant - and it was a wonderful Brief Encounter moment, ah me!  The said steamer was from the East Lancs Railway I think, the one that travels to the wonderfully named Ramsbottom - know locally as Rammy!

And so now, supper and the day over and done with, 'tis time for me to write the old blog and add that little ray of sunshine for which you have so longed for so long, well, since yesterday anyway . . . and talking of blog and all things bloggness I had a very interesting email today from a company who found my blog fascinating and wanted me to host a cookware giveaway as part of it!  The connection, I must admit, still escapes me . . . but  for those of you with blogs who want to give away kitchen paraphernalia drop me a line and I'll put you in touch with these people . . . bizarre!  Strangely enough "paraphernalia" was originally those belongings peculiar to females, I believe . . . following a quick google I can confirm it means "beyond the dowry" or the separate property of a married woman and it is plural, so there you go!

And so go I; I shall leave you to enjoy what remains of the evening and hope that the sweetness of your eventual dreams is only surpassed by the glory of your morning
'til next time

Be Seeing You !

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Transports of Delight*

Good Morning and welcome to the 294th day of the year . . . and, in the Wigwam at least, it is a wet and soggy one!

The cold and chill of last night has, as surprisingly predicted by those nice people at the Meteorological Office, been replaced by good old fashioned grayness and drizzling rain - much more like the slices of quattro stagione we are well used to being served in this neck of the woods and which I personally find the most debilitating . . . those of you used to reading my rants may already be aware of my wish - nay, demands -  for a return to real seasons and seasoning; an end to the silliness and greed that has Christmas Cards for sale in August and Easter Eggs jostling on Boxing Day shelves; add to this a weather-system that deems it okay to have bland, dull cloud cover for 50 weeks a year with 2 weeks of brilliant Mediterranean heat and light in March and you have a society and a people living out of kilter - It must be stopped!  Maybe if we resisted the urge to continue burning the 300 million year old products of the carboniferous period is such huge quantities and re-assessed our life-styles we could have a return to something approaching how it should be . . . A  simplistic message I agree and one straight form the Ladybird Book of How Ian Ideally Wants to Live but one from the heart nonetheless . . .

Actually I must admit I found last Winter really wonderful to experience! After so long of gray mush it was exciting to have the piquancy of real weather on my palette ~ of course, lots of you will not agree with me on this, especially as you trudged or crawl-drove your way to work through ice-sheets and snow-banks on dark and dangerous Winter mornings . . . I actually spent most of the Winter driving back and forth to Wales to visit Dr T's old mum who was poorly and saw some brilliant exhibitions of how not to drive; I began my motoring life on motorbikes and spent a good number of knee-numbing Winters shivering in my layers learning all about road conditions and how they affect your driving . . . in cars you are so sheltered from reality, it is no wonder silly accidents take place . . .

Thinking of such things my conscience is pricked by the thought of my rather fine and sadly under-used Claud Butler languishing in my store room; at one point in the not-too-dim-and-distant I was up and riding every morning at 6am, a practice I must re-establish in order to maintain mens sana in corpore sano; a brisk hour pedalling should prepare me for even more green tea and marmalade than usual! There is some method in my madness, non?

So what does today hold in store for me? Well, given that it's a Thursday - the day on which I was born by the way - and that the store in question is Tesco, it is easy to conclude that it will be a meeting with the Duchess in order to do her weekly non-shop . . . and then down to some more reading and whatnot for the old Open U . . . if the weather does clear - and I haven't heard the latest prognostications from the Whether the Weathermen  - I may pay a visit, along with the beautifully curly Saldog to our favourite boutique and see what the glamorous twinkle twins, those flighty fleurs du mal, have to offer to brighten up the day . . . and then a period of contemplation and preparation for my clients tomorrow . . . and there it is; another week flown by with little or no regard for my advancing years . . . talking of which I will insert at this dramatic juncture a brief but heartfelt greeting to my favourite mathematician who's birthday is today; have a lovely one D - don't let the vastness of the numbers get you down, consider 00101110 instead ! x

And so let us greet the day with joy in our heart and a simile as wide as the big blue ocean on our faces 

'til next time

Be Seeing You !


* Interestingly enough, I didn't realise that this was also the name of a company based in the UK and who are "crafters of bespoke hardwood exotic dilettos" - gives a completely different meaning to the old Lancashire phrase "put t'wood in't hole" !

Absolve Animas Omnium Fidelium Defunctorum*

Hello Dear Friends and welcome to the wee small hours of Thursday . . .

I had returned from the Ivy - clads in a bitterly cold night on a chilly train and so thought I would have some hot soup - sweet potato and ginger actually, since you ask - the soup was duly downed and, as the warm glow seeped through me I became sleepy and snoozy as men of my age are apt to do, my bed began to whisper sweet nothings into my willing ear . . . I was soon enveloped in the duvet downiness when, like a bucket of ice-cold water, the thought hit me: I had not posted my blog! 

What would my dear darling dependents do without their daily dose of dubious diatribe?  Besides rest easy and probably not give a fig, that is . . .

So here I am, fleece be-decked and sitting at my PC  writing just for you . . . no, there's no need to feel ashamed of your neediness, Papa understands - he may resent you for it - but he does understand!  Anyhow, the idea is just to write you a small apologia and then return to my rest as I am, basically, asleep on my feet . . .

'til next time

Be Seeing You !


* Forgive the souls of all the faithful departed

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

From the Archive: Pretoria Avenue


“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

In the gardens that line Pretoria Avenue – an avenue in the truest sense of the word, being supplied with evenly spaced and equally spacious species of trees to cast shade and dapple daylight – the Guard are out.
In shirt sleeved arms, armed with Derris and Abol to protect the virtues of Josephine Wheatcroft and Mrs Cholmondely, or cajoling and coaxing the Atco or the Qualcast to continue in their mechanical Friesian mode to clip yet another quarter inch of tip from the verdure, or in practised chamoised sweeps, washing and waxing the Consul, Prefect or Zephyr, the Pretorian Guard set about their tasks.
It is the weekend.
From open windows, each heliographing a sense of busy contentment, come radio waves of hands across the sea, kitchen clangings and calling voices, splashing along the crazy paved paving and lapping at herbaceous borders.
It is a Gingham day; a shorts and t shirt day; a day where crepe soled sandaled feet will beat paths to local shops and playground alike; a comics day; a sweets day; a summer ’s Day.

At number 18 Lillian sits at her sewing table and watches from above the somewhat comical conical figure of Mac, her husband, roll down the path to his shed, newspaper rolled severely under arm and cigarette perched permanently on lip, he is the very man that she undertook to love ‘til death does part. Though, in all honesty she can no longer see why. It’s not that he’s a bad man or a good man or … She sighs and looks at the embroidery in her hand and wonders why life is like that. How many stitches has she put into this marriage? How many needles have pricked her conscience? And for what? Another sigh, another sign, she thinks, and before she can think more bustles off to fix a mid morning snack. In the kitchen the remains of her two sons breakfasting activities are plain to see; the crumbs, the very crumbs, are all that are left of it all. With sweeping weeping motion that mirrors almost exactly that of Mr Jack at number 9, who is caressing his Minx into another day’s service in his arms, she sweeps the crumbs into her upturned palm and drops them into the bin.

Mr Jack, the summer sun bouncing off balding pate, resumes his caresses of the Minx. The white streaks of wax disappear beneath his rub and leave a mauve reflected surface of life in which he can spy lonely Mrs Smithers at number 12, parting the widow’s weeds of her curtains and watching as he toils below. Left alone with three children and one on the way is no life, especially when your dear departed did so with a floozy on the pillion of his motorcycle. She has, of course, many a year ahead of her he thinks, but he is too old, too far set in his ways to even consider …He stirs at his stirrings and quickly takes his cloths and disappears into the dank coolness of his house.

Mrs Smithers surveys the street; she sees the dappled pavement the tended tenderness of the neatly bordered
lawns and wonders why she feels so empty, so sad, so alone. Damn the humped back bridge of sighs that fills her waking and sleeping moments, the whore ’s arms around his waist as they career into death and infamy, leaving her alone and adrift and so burdened with it all. At least she has her faith. Almost.
Father Eugene has been so kind and consoling, although not without censure, after all if the man had been happy … the unfinished words swing and smoke like the censer and carry her prayers upwards that she may be spared the many lonely years ahead … sadly, this is not to be the case. Luckily, for her at least, she is spared this revelation and continues to tend to the needs of her once and future off spring and the troubles and trials they will bring.
She has met a good, kind man, wounded in the war, who is the father of her as yet unborn child. They will marry. They will be happy. He will die. The child, a girl, will have three children of her own and yet die before any of them are old enough to really remember her. Mrs Smithers will carry on and look after her grandchildren. The rosary will count the passing years and tears. In the face of her grandchildren she will see the face of her youngest daughter and the questions in her heart will grow.

Ad astra per alia porci

The boy looks out of the bedroom window; his shiny face reflected in the lake of glass and sees the triangulation of lives in the street below. At this time, in this place, this room is his harbour, where he can sit and chart the voyage he faces ahead.
The wallpaper, dappled by the arbour outside, is an unlikely primrose yellow outer space scene and is dotted by spaceships, incongruously piloted by grinning over sized rabbits. They sweep and swoop by planets and stars before disappearing behind maps of the heavens; for our boy has greater journeys to undertake, vaster distances to cross and leaps of unimaginable faith to make before the summer is over and his life is changed irrevocably.
The sounds of suburban Saturday surface and splashingly displace his meanderings. He carefully opens the window to see more clearly as Red Indians are chased by a bicycle mounted sheriff around the trees and hedges at the edges of his vision. Another face, seen intermittently through the tide of trees, at another window looks across as from another unknown shore and, slowly, palely, shyly waves. They have a simple uncomplicated friendship. She is an older, wiser girl by nearly eighteen months and doesn’t normally have much to do with the majority of children in Pretoria Avenue. But on deep azure summer evenings, with a circle of moths dancing overhead, she and the boy sit with backs to the street lamp and paddle their toes in the dusty still warm street and talk.
She tells him tales of love and intrigue between the adults in their world; neighbours, teachers and even parents. She is worldly wise beyond his innocent ears and eyes; the “Ladybird Book of The Body ” has yet to make its mysterious appearance on his bedroom bookshelf. Her parents are loud and often argue openly, one in the garden, the other indoors. He is a tall thin confused sort of man, always keen to make a sharp deal and always missing the boat. She is of sterner stuff and although bemoaning her lot in life has genuine love for her husband, her two wayward sons and her three less troublesome daughters. The boy knows what she is thinking; she would love to climb onto to the window ledge and with the grace of a dolphin dive into the world below. She has told him so. When the world is too much to carry anymore it is best to leave it behind. One day he will see her make the famous climb and stand ready to dive. He will stand petrified and look on in shocked muteness as elastic time is stretched almost to the point of snapping and then begin to breathe again as hands reach from the room behind and return the dolphin to captivity.
Behind the leaves she waves and leaves, the street is Saturday once more. The boy turns also and looks at the walls of his room, of his life. The telescope, the fishing rods, the books, the experiments, the loneliness. Picking up “What to Look for in Autumn ” he walks down the stairs and into the garden at the rear of number thirteen and waits for the summer to end.


Hinc illae lacrimae

Behind the windows, beyond the street, Margaret Smithers sits with the faded blue school exercise book in her hands, open in the creamy papered centre, blue lines, red margins, and she begins to read.
“Once upon a time there was a family and, like all good families this one had a Mother. The Mother loved her babies and would look at them each day to make sure they were perfect. If she found one that wasn ’t she would eat it. The baby would be gone but soon, very soon, another would appear, pink and perfect and join the Happy Family with Mother”
It was the work of her eldest son; a troubled individual who asked silly questions at the wrong time “Mother, has the rain washed the colour out of the daffodils? ” when seeing the narcissus in the garden or “Mother, why is George here when Daddy isn’t?” For all her fortitude and resolute belief in fate, she despaired of him and wished sometimes that Mother had eaten him when she first began to see the signs.
There now! What would Father Eugene say about that little gem of evil thought? She was undoubtedly a wicked woman, punished for her sins, but what sins exactly? What had she ever done to deserve all this? “Pride is a sin” the Sister’s voice rang through time, “and one that came before the fall! ” “I seem to have been falling forever” she said to herself and hoped that, like Alice before her, her fall would end on a pile of soft leaves, though she feared otherwise. The leaves of the exercise book fluttered through her fingers and closed, the voices returned, the day took shape around her. She stood and walked into the garden where her eldest boy, in a pillar of light, sat burning ants with a magnifying glass.


Vox clamantis in deserto

Tony looked up from the small smoking pile of bodies as the shadow fell across his face. His Mother stood, silhouetted against the light and towering over him.
“Hail Mary full of grace” he muttered as she continued to stare at him and then flinched as she reached to take the magnifying glass away.
“What are you doing Tony? ” she asked gently, although he knew full well that if he answered wrongly it could bring on a dreadful tirade and a slapped face, just like the time he ’d cut his Dad out of all the wedding photographs and written on the bedroom wall.
“Nothing” he mumbled, sullenly, “Just helping the ants ”
“Helping the ants! Tony, how are you helping the ants? ” she had that look on her face that Tony had seen before, the look that made him feel, somehow, black inside. “I am returning them to God, Mother” he said, “I am sending them to heaven, just like Dad and his friend”

The slap stung and in the silence that followed he could hear his mother breathing is short, rasping breaths. Her eyes, wide and staring, looked at him with undisguised disgust and fear.
“You will go to your room now Tony and you will stay there until you are sorry for what you have done” she shouted, dragging him up and shoving him towards the house.
He stumbled a little, turned and faced his mother, and, in a voice he had heard inside himself many, many times, said “Ego te absolve ” and made the sign in the air.
Margaret felt the breath stop in her throat; it squeezed and tightened, just like when he used to, before the…
She momentarily loses her vision as the world twists and contracts and she feels herself begin to burn under the magnifying gaze of her son.

"We called him Tortoise . . . because he taught us!" *

Good Morning Dear People and Welcome to Tuesday . . .

And so what delicious treats does the day hold in store? Well, I'm currently waiting for the arrival of the plumbinious engineers who are due to coax my ailing boiler back to life once more; I really should have registered it with Dignitas and allowed the poor thing to slip quietly away to that great Baxi storeroom in the sky . . . but no, they will insist on resuscitating the wheezing old thing - sparing no expense naturally! Even though we are due for a major refit and replacement boilers any time soon . . . I did, of course, try arguing this point but . . . well, what's a wasted day and pointless expense between a council leaking money faster than Peter can pop his finger in the dyke and a company with a lucrative contract to repair whenever possible . . . hmmm!

Anyhow, that will be the morning taken care of no doubt - I'm on one of those " there between 8.00 am and 1 pm" type of things -  but I shall use the time wisely by reading more OU and, of course, scattering a few seeds of thought . . . for example, if you are as ancient and venerable as I,you may recall a hymn sung at primary school along the lines of " We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land"  yes? Well, the people who did the job were known as the ploughman and the broadcaster, interesting isn't it?  And quite a nice image of our consciousness being turned over and new seeds planted but not one by one, as it were, but cast evenly over a wide area . . . and how that translates into the digital age in which we now live . . . one does wonder about the quality of some of the seed stock though!

I adore the way that associations spring to my mind - and by that I'm not referring to The Association of Master Upholsterers or The Association of Taxation Technicians  - but, since mentioning above the hymn from my primary years, the words and images of others have popped into my brain: "Hills of the North, Rejoice!" and one of my absolute favourites - so much so, in fact, that I used it as part of a piece of music I wrote a good 20 years ago - "All Things which Live Below the Sky" . . . I remember being struck by a line in it which went something like "He sees the meekest sparrow fall unnoticed in the street"; I think it appealed to my love of nature and wildlife . . . I was, after all, Nature Table Monitor at the time, a level of responsibility which I don't think I have equaled since!  Ah, those long gone days with Hilda Docker in the endless summers and crisp winters of my childhood . . . excuse me I seem to have gone all Proustian on you, I'll get a cloth . . .

Hilda was possibly the teacher who influenced me most overall in life; I'm sure she would have disapproved of the circuitous route I have taken through it so far as she was very firmly of the opinion that I was Oxbridge or something similar and that's what I had to do . . . given that I came from a poor family with no experience of higher education, on a poor estate in a northern town that wasn't noted for it's encouragement of the great unwashed masses to better things, Hilda was a bit of a revelation. . . I believe she was a very strong supporter of the Labour Party and a devout believer in the common man and his betterment in life . . . she was a lovely, scary and possibly partially barking woman, hated by some but adored  - and fondly remembered - by yours truly.  She already seemed quite an old lady by the time I knew her - she had taught both my older sisters over a decade before - and I know she carried on for a number of years afterward . . . I wonder if anyone has a photograph of her? I, sadly, do not . . .

Even though my kitchen is in disarray in order to allow the delicate boiler op to take place I think I may have to resort to a cup of tea and a nibble to keep me going as my stomach is making stranger gurgling noises than the equipment up for repair . . . I hope you've enjoyed this little meander though my past; I may post another piece from the archives later on which is autobiographical and deals with a similar time but for now I will say toodle-pip and hope that good fortune drenches you like a burst water main

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

* A description of the Mock Turtle's old teacher

Monday, 18 October 2010

One From the Archives

Dear Friends!
You may have noticed that the last entry which was posted at 00.00 and so was neither Sunday or Monday, wittered rather annoyingly about my writer's angst and so I thought the very least I could do would be to provide you with an example of my craft and let you see what you thought of it.

This piece was written following a dream I had in the hours between 30th May and the 1st June 2005; it is practically a transcription of the dream and hardly tarted up at all . . .  I hope you enjoy it.

The Greatest Living Naturalist

The monkeys in the canopy high above the ancient, lost city that lay drowning in the heat, paused in their daily business of living and dying as a group of men entered the clearing, destroying the still surface of the day like so many stones dropped into a cooling pool.

Following in their wake came another. Older, wiser maybe, he seemed to be some sort of leader but was content to do as the others asked;He sat, then walked, looked around and talked, did the same thing over and over and over again as the heat of the day increased.

The other men watched in silence as he did this, they talked and conferred, looked at the sky, talked some more and then made the old frail chief do it “just once more please, David”.
He smiled. And did as he was asked.

Then, as suddenly as it had begun, it was over.

The men left with noise and bustle leaving the old one behind for a few moments. He looked up to the canopy and his blue eyes met their brown ones and he seemed to want to talk to them; tell or ask them something very important.

The eyes in the canopy, high above didn’t really consider much their meeting with The Greatest Living Naturalist;  They just thought he was, like most men

A Not Very Good Monkey.

And so we have it; again good night to you - for it is now nearly twenty minutes into Monday the 18th - and 

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

"Have you tried Dickens?" *

Good Evening wee ones; I can't believe Nanny has let you stay up so late!  Well, just time for a quick word or two, a peck on the cheek and away you go to bed, you scamps!

So what pearls of wisdom are waiting to drip drop from my sageness in this nearly midnight room? Well, to be totally Frank these ole blue eyes have remained partially closed this weekend or so it seems; perhaps it is a case of feeling a tad under the weather or something but I do feel distinctly lacking in the old creative juices . . . and when I consider it, I suppose I do put myself under some pressure to write one of these each day  . . . I wonder how many words I have written so far? I read an article about writing a novel in a month -  which is reckoned at about 50,000 words so that's around 1,600 words a day - I think each one of these is probably around 500 words . . . mmm . . . if I am ever going to sit on my Venetian balcony I'd better get my word count up!

But then again I'm no Charles Dickens! By that I mean that I don't write at "a penny a word" as he did - hence the very wordy passages which aren't altogether to my taste I must admit!  You can well imagine Mrs D saying "Well Charlie, I don't know about you but I think that kitchen is so 1820's - get your finger out and  get a few novels, reviews and periodicals done 'cos I've seen his one in Ikea . . ." Actually, I'm sure the dear Catherine rarely had time to do much having produced 10 children between 1836-1858, following which, of course, she was abandoned when he left her for his mistress Ellen Ternan who was an actress . . . I could, at this point, try to insert a little bon mot around his penis mightier than his word or something, even missing out the space between pen and is for comic effect . . . but I shan't. . . nor shall I snigger when reporting he died of a stroke . . .

It should also be pointed out - not that it needs to be I don't suppose - but I am not only not as prolific as Mr D in terms of children or output, but I certainly don't have his undoubted talent; that I manage to complete one of these each day I consider an achievement, if not a very worthy one.

It's all about finding your voice; finding the way of being in words that allows you to express yourself with congruence and sincerity; mine seems to be most accurately spoken as it were in poems and short prose pieces . . . and, I suppose, blogs!  Talking of which the deadline for this is fast approaching and so there I must leave it for tonight . . .

A hush fell around the room as the great man stopped speaking; the children's eyes were closed and the dreams that pulsed beneath them lay well beyond the reach of his imagination and so beyond his telling. He bent down and kissed each on of them gently saying

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

* Punchline to a very old joke about a young lady and a librarian!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Two Kisses: One to Numb, the Other to Forget

Good Afternoon dear friends and welcome to another slice of cheesy cake from yours truly . . . would, you like some tea?

And what a curious day it has been!  For reasons too tedious and tiresome to trouble your delicate sensibilities with, I was forced to abandon my plans to go to Liverpool today which has caused a little bit of a feeling of disappointment to settle over me - not unlike the layer of dust which was present in my life until I got the vacuum out about an hour ago . . . and so with be-snuffled nose and throat just turning to razor I met up with Sister Cate again under the roof of Nero and tried to summon up the positivity that green tea and a lemon and poppy muffin surely must bring to us all . . . but to little avail . . . and then, it being a Saturday it was of course off to the stately pile and afternoon delights with the OD who was on fine form and full of amusing tales as per usual . . .

But . . . what exactly is it?  I feel somewhat . . . distant I suppose; I feel as though it should snow, as though it should be Winter already . . . I feel like I am wrapped in the Snow Queen's cloak with a sliver of the mirror in my heart . . . too cold . . . too cold . . .

I daresay it is merely another shivery being taking over my body again; not ghost or spirit but virus or bacteria and also maybe a soupcon of tiredness - being all down to my age of course, but the result is that I feel  - as some great wordsmith once said - yuk!

Sal is, of course, none to impressed by this  and regards anything less that total activity on my part as a sign of slacking and lack of moral fibre - it is however, a different waggy tale when the rain is falling and my sugar-sweet companion suddenly is afraid of melting, preferring instead to lounge lizard like around the house waiting for treats to land before her nose . . . hmmm! There is a definite inequality here - why am I  not surprised?

Popping a Victory V in my mouth and snurching a nasal cavity full of decongestant I carry on regardless - for, like our colonial cousins postal system
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds 
(which I read now was never the creed of the US Postal system as such, merely an inscription of a NY Post office and was evidently copied from the ancient messengers of the Persian Empire . . . well, well, well! )  - I must not fail in my duty to deliver unto the word of me . . . even though it be fractured and nonsensical and unworthy of the attention of your beautiful innocent eyes, so mote it be!

But look, the sun is setting and I must shortly away to a far far better place . . . for, ague-ridden as I am, I must to Tesco and therein of foodstuffs find in the Aisle of Nuthinsfree . . . and so, rather than force yourselves to read more of this rubbish than is absolutely necessary, I'd toddle off and do something far less boring if I were you . . . maybe write your own blog and fill it with really interesting and pertinent stuff or maybe spend a few moments reflecting on how lucky you are, especially by not being burdened with being me!

So I will go now, lay down my non-existent pen, blot my portrait of a landscape and wish you all an exceptionally fine eve

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

Friday, 15 October 2010

The Book of Water . . .

Good Morning Children and first off this morning a short educational feature . . .

I'm giving over this mini-blog today to a cause;  today, in case you didn't know it, is Blog Action Day 2010 and this years theme is Water . . .  lots of information and facts about what I would certainly think was the most plentiful resource on Earth can be gleaned from the homepage at along with the chance to sign a petition and do something useful without stirring from your chair!

Anyhow, watery facts that amazed me are:

The problem of scarce clean water:
Nearly 1 billion people lack access to clean water, which causes a litany of struggles, diseases and even death.
  • 40 Billion Hours: African women walk over 40 billion hours each year carrying cisterns weighing up to 18 kilograms to gather water, which is usually still not safe to drink.
  • 38,000 Children a Week: Every week, nearly 38,000 children under the age of 5 die from unsafe drinking water and unhygienic living conditions.
  • Wars Over Water: Many scholars attribute the conflict in Darfur at least in part to lack of access to water. A report commissioned by the UN found that in the 21st century, water scarcity will become one of the leading causes of conflict in Africa.
  • A Human Right: In July, to address the water crisis, the United Nations declared access to clean water and sanitation a human right over. But we are far from implementing solutions to secure basic access to safe drinking water.
Water over-consumption in industrialized countries:
While the developing world faces a water crisis, those in industrialized countries consume far more than their fair share.
  • Food Footprint: It takes 24 liters of water to produce one hamburger. That means it would take over 19.9 billion liters of water to make just one hamburger for every person in Europe.
  • Technology Footprint: The shiny new iPhone in your pocket requires half a liter of water to charge. That may not seem like much, but with over 80 million active iPhones in the world, that’s 40 million liters to charge those alone.
  • Fashion Footprint: That cotton t-shirt you’re wearing right now took 1,514 liters of water to produce, and your jeans required an extra 6,813 liters.
  • Bottled Water Footprint: The US, Mexico and China lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the US drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled.
Water and the environment:
The disregard for water resources in industrialized countries impacts more than humans – it causes environmental devastation.
  • Waste Overflow: Every day, 2 million tons of human waste are disposed of in water sources. This not only negatively impacts the environment but also harms the health of surrounding communities.
  • Polluted Oceans: Death and disease caused by polluted coastal waters costs the global economy $12.8 billion a year.
  • Uninhabitable Rivers: Today, 40% of America’s rivers and 46% of America’s lakes are too polluted for fishing, swimming, or aquatic life.
Now that litany, I have to admit, was lifted directly from the website as I wanted to get the facts over to you in as short a time as possible so that you can indeed shift your bits and maybe do a little something about it . . . and as I am rapidly running out of time before my foray into the world of counselling is due to take place it will have to suffice . . . however, for your entertainment and edification there is also, for one day only, a wee little video clip down below to ram the message home! 

Hope your day is free from fear and as immersed in H2O as you wish it to be . . . and if you are good little otters there may be a 'normal' post later

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

Thursday, 14 October 2010

A Kinder World Than Suburbia . . .

Good Afternoon Sweet Children ~ How are you?
I've had a long but pleasant day being Ladies Who Lunch with Sister Cate  and also traipsing (gorgeous word!) around the Aisles of Plenty with both her and Sister Eileen in attendance on the Old Duchess who, poor love, is finding it more and more difficult to find something she wants to eat; various solutions were tried today including a banana flavoured milky food drink  . . . we shall see whether that excites the poor old soul's taste buds . . . I narrowly avoided the Parkin aisle as I knew what the outcome would be and, as I am already the size of several small to medium principalities, it would not be advisable or attractive to behold!

The day has been somewhat gray with faint kisses of either drizzle or possibly even snowy - type stuff,  and has become increasingly cold . . . in the centre of town the amazing South American Indian musicians were playing again ~  does anyone know what they are called? - anyhow, they are superb and even had the glum folk of Wigan shimmying along . . . I learned from a conversation with the lovely Geekygirl Jules early this morning that the native tribes (as it were) of Canada are referred to as First Nations; I wonder what the First Nations of our mongrel state are? Most of my lot shipped over here to this part of Wigan from the Emerald Isle to avoid starvation and persecution - and came to abject poverty . . . hmmm . . .  it's good to know that I am back to my roots physically and financially at least!

I'm getting all set for my trip to their port of arrival, Liverpool, on Saturday; I have a two hour tutorial with Dr L and am apprehensive as you can imagine . . . it is some while since I was last in that city - I actually attended a days exploration of the Anglican Cathedral with the very wise and entertaining Peter Kennerley  who told us tales and dragged us from crypt to tops of towers - it is, by the way, an magnificent building and I planned several shows to take part under the vaulting of the Central Space which, sadly due to funding issues, were never realised . . . anyway, should you find yourself in that part of Mount Pleasant it is well worth a visit.  As I wrote that it occurred to me that, although I have spent very little time in Liverpool, what time I have has been dedicated to being in the cathedrals!  I don't know if I have mentioned it before but I once worked for a firm of organ tuners and did the RC one on a very hot afternoon - at least outside it was; I was sat at the keyboard shivering in my afghan!

Before then, of course, I'm off to Bury and a meet with my lovely clients - all this jet setting (well, train and tram setting) it's no wonder he is such a cosmopolitan figure I hear you remark - ah! Dear Friends, I am a man about town true enough - or maybe a chap about a conurbation at least!  I am certainly less James Bond milling 'round Mayfair or Monte Carlo and more like John Betjaman meandering though Metroland - which, by the way,  is an exceptionally fine documentary made in the '70s and well worth a watch if you can find it!
And so the afternoon dissolves slowly into evening and such culinary tasks as there are for me to do beckon with increasing urgency . . . I do hope you all have a lovely evening and that your only concern is which of the multitude of entertaining and amusing ways available to spend it you choose first !

'til next time

Be Seeing You !