Sunday, 30 August 2009
This was one of my mother's sayings - usually applied to a hasty surface cleaning of the house, meaning to give it a more thorough one later, there being in her opinion, much more valuable ways in which to spend one's spare time. Both she and my father were keen gardeners and she was always busy either outside or jamming and bottling the delicious fruits that they grew or she was sewing for us. I hasten to add that our house was never dirty - she just wasn't fanatical about it. I seem to have inherited this attitude to housework. I like to keep my house tidy and hope that this will deceive visitors into thinking it has just been cleaned. I have long since found that in any case, one's partner (and most other people) will only notice what you have NOT done as opposed to what you have spent long hours doing. So what is the point when one could rather be on the internet? |I do have a conscience though and this pushes me to short bursts of cleaning activity. I have to build up to these craftily as I am great procrastinator in this respect: so I have cleaning materials secreted in cupboards in every room, in case the mood suddenly takes me. For more serious cleaning I pull out furniture and leave it higgledy-piggledy in every room so that I will be forced to do it later that day. One such day, I went off to the shops - meaning to clean later but absent-mindedly left the front door and security door wide open. (Our house is open to the street). When I got home (just after my children), we all thought we had been burgled! Then I remembered and received a severe scolding from the kids. Luckily, we live in a quiet street. The only time I have regularly and assiduously cleaned my house was the brief period when I had a weekly char. Then I would anxiously scrub and dust before she came so she would not think me a slut. I needn't have bothered really. She didn't like cleaning any more than I did.
Friday, 28 August 2009
Once I made a careless mention of the phrase 'old-fashioned romance' and was taken to task by a reader who reminded me that romantic love is actually a completely new phenomenon as a criterion for marriage as it had nothing to do with the very practical arrangements by which couples had been joined over the past millennia, and indeed in some places, still are today. Looking it up, I found that the dictionary first defines 'romance' in terms of the languages descended from Latin, viz French, Italian, Spanish etc. The second meaning refers to knights in shining armour in pursuit of fair lady and tales told in verse. Thirdly, following on from this is the idea that this kind of romance is an exaggeration or distortion of the truth, even a 'picturesque falsehood'. I must say this is how I used to regard Mills & Boon novels - in that the marriage on the last page was to me always a spurious presentation of eternal bliss, it being (formerly) spurred on by the raging hormones of unfulfilled desire. What would happen when the honeymoon was over? (I understand that M & B has since updated itself -lots of sex now.) Upon asking my friends what they thought 'romance' meant - most said vaguely it was to do with courtship, flowers and chocolates - or the modern day equivalent. In other words - nothing to do with real life. A pity. My own definition is that after 30 years together, my husband is still the only man I want to look at in a crowded room, the only man I want to touch, the only man whose voice on the phone fills me with warmth: his are the only eyes in which I like to lose myself. I suppose you could analyse this in terms of pheromones, or the respect and esteem in which I hold him and the mutual love and trust that has grown over the years. Whatever it is it is impossible to quantify. I think the most recognisably romantic thing my husband has ever done was to send a huge bouquet to my office on the occasion of our 25th anniversary. Perhaps he didn't realise it would stand in pride of place on our receptionist's desk for most of the morning - with its loving message displayed for all to see. That was really something. He's not one to wear his heart upon his sleeve.
Thursday, 27 August 2009
I can't believe what I just heard on the radio. There is a pedestrian bridge over a highway in Cape Town which has just won a design prize for 'Best Pedestrian Bridge of the Year' - but no-one uses it! It is just too much effort for those for whom the bridge has been built, to go 'The Long Way Round'. They still cross underneath, dodging between the lanes of a busy highway endangering the lives of both themselves and the legitimate road users. Astonishingly, these bridges are being built all over the country! Taking the line of least resistance is also why there are well-trodden paths through the flower beds in our municipal parks. Do our design engineers not take courses in Psychology? I wonder what the criteria were for 'Best Design'? Presumably, something artistic like it must have 'flowing lines' and be 'pleasing to the eye'.
By almost the same thought process as the pedestrians, my teenage son won't get up one minute earlier in the morning to eat breakfast before school. He'd rather starve.
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
There are days when I feel guilty to be able to enjoy so much free time when everyone else (including my husband) is frantically rushing around working and not having enough time in their days to achieve everything they need to let along having time to relax and enjoy themselves. Of course, this used to be me as well, not so long ago, and I remind myself that I have worked full-time all my life until just over 50 and I should take my best friend, M's advice, and relax a bit. This word 'relax' is a new one on me as I grew up with a rather Puritan work ethic as did my husband but M is rather good at this, she even encourages her children to relax from time to time which I have never done with mine. I feel guilty about the poor; I feel guilty that I do not do enough for other people (close family excepted). I have just completed 4 years of volunteering once a week at a home for disadvantaged people - just felt I had to stop that do something else - and I can't even continue shelving books a the staff-challenged local library as it has been undergoing renovations for the past 18 months. I suppose I don't feel useful enough - nor do I have a decent book to read at the moment AND the TV schedule has changed so that I can't watch my favorite shows while doing my ironing on a Sunday after noon. Enough! I must set some short-term goals. I shall shortly divulge my hot tips on "how to avoid cleaning house". Now that is a worthwhile way to spend some time.
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
When he realised that my blind dad could never manage the digital microwave buttons, my brother had an inspiration and moved across to my dad’s house his own 30-year old Sharp microwave - you know the convection oven on top and microwave below - with four big dials that you turn. I should know - my husband and I had a similar one (long since defunct) when we first got married. My brother’s still works as it has hardly been used. For this reason, having surrendered his own one to dad, my brother saw no reason to improve on his old model and was delighted to find one on E-Bay and therefore thought it a bargain to drive the 100 odd miles to fetch it for the bargain price of only ten pounds. The turntable didn’t work and one of the switches was broken but this presents no challenge for my brother and he soon had it up and running. Interesting that I couldn’t find a proper pic of it on Google despite surfing about 40 pages of Sharp microwave ovens - all new of course. The above pic circa 1950 something is the nearest I could get. (Don’t ask me to post my own photo - the USB wire from my camera to the PC is broken at the moment.)
Thursday, 20 August 2009
Sadly, of course we had our detractors - these would inevitably be people who had never attended any of our parties. I was once telephoned by an irate elderly man who insisted that what we were doing was un-christian (implying that we were a bunch of harlots!) I spent a while calming him down and eventually got him to listen to me. I explained our position and in the end he even decided he would ask his wife is she would like to have a small party at her house. I stressed that no men were allowed. (Actually, it would have been really good for him to attend.) Unfortunately, I didn’t hear from them - I expect his wife was just too shy. What a pity.
These parties were my way of life for 5 years, but then all good things come to an end. I thought perhaps that the time for these parties was past. Everyone seemed to be so liberated these days. But just the other day - I had a phone call.
“Oh, I am so glad you still have the same number. I’ve tracked you down through a friend who still had your business card. Are you still doing those parties?
Fifteen years on!
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Fifteen years ago I had been married for 15 years, we had just moved provinces and it was becoming clear that I would be unable to find a job in my previous field of employment (teaching). My husband saw this ad. “Agents wanted……’ and persuaded me to go to an interview. So began a 5-year involvement with a party-plan oganization which took the entire country by storm. We sold underwear, sex toys and vibrators of which by far the best seller was “Danny” dolphin. From my point of view our parties had both a fun and a serious side . I was then in my forties and found that my husband and I were not averse to investigating some ‘fun’ ways of varying our bedroom experience and I was on a mission to promote the importance of maintaining the sex lives of long-married ladies as, according to my husband, some of his colleagues occasionally let slip that their wives had mostly lost interest and this was starting to cause problems. One very attractive woman, with an equally attractive husband, confided to me that she had hoped that ‘all this business’ would stop now that they had become grandparents! They were only 45. “Remember, ladies!” we would admonish, “men produce new sperm all the time and it builds up pressure. Rather this is released in your bed than in someone else’s!” “We have been designed to be accommodating,” we would emphasize. Not for us, the physical difficulties of having to be obviously lusting for one’s partner! No, we can easily pretend when necessary, and with a little forethought and love - we can always make our partner think he is a marvellous lover and that we welcome his attentions. Usually, we can even orchestrate things to the point that we get an extra hour’s sleep! For those with lubrication problems, we would recommend a quick self-ministration in the bathroom, after cleaning one’s teeth. This ploy would delight the man and shorten sometimes tediously long sessions of foreplay, which, though well-meant can be totally counter-productive when the recipient is exhausted and merely longing for sleep. Let him drive your dolphin however, and you might even wake up! With 3-speeds, a modest-sized plastic male member for inside and the sweetest little dolphin with a naughty nose and his own motor for outside - and with these two working independently of each other in different directions - well, need I say more?
There was a huge demand for dolphins across the spectrum of the married, the single and probably the in-betweens. We did stress, however, that he could not substitute for a relationship. He was just a piece of clever plastic and the waters needed to be tested before simply arriving home with a vibrator and waving it excitedly about. My husband couldn’t keep up with repairs - sometimes the gears needed adjusting as they might arrive ex factory overgreased. Once he removed the insides from one dolphin whose owner complained she had only had it a month and it had packed up.
“My God, she’s burnt out the motors!”, he breathed, impressed!
Thank goodness, that with careful maintenance mine is still going as I wouldn’t know where to buy one today. What fun we all had.
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Yes, really is the last post from the UK. Armed with my paper GPS printout from the extremely helpful RoutePlanner on London Transport’s ‘tfl’ (Travel for London) website, I can now navigate my way by bus, tube and train to Gatwick, leaving from my son’s flat with every step of the way clearly shown, with times like ‘walk 5 minutes to bus stop’ etc. etc. So off I go….oh, ABF stems from the days when we were all drinkers, last drink before leaving a party (Absolutely Bloody Final). Not now of course!
Where’s My Suitcase - Or is It Menopause? 9th September, 2007
Monday, 17 August 2009
September 6th, 2007
A rare treat for me to be up at this time (12.30 pm.) so fun to see who blogs this late at night. I am sleeping on a couch in my son’s lounge and he goes to bed late, so I have had to change my time clock. Got to change back again when I go back to SA on Friday night. Will have been away 3 1/2 weeks. Neglecting my duties at home. I think my husband is now really tired of cooking, washing & ironing etc. etc. At least I get appreciated on my return. Was in central London today at lunchtime. Everyone out eating at the hundreds of tiny, exquisite sandwich bars. I bought one in M & S. “Wensleydale Cheese & Caramelised Carrot Chutney”. You pull a little strip and the packaging opens out into a tray. It bears this legend: “We use 100% sustainable packaging for these sandwiches. The window is made from corn starch rather than plastic, and the cardboard’s from an FSC certified source, which means we’re supporting responsible forest management.” Suitably impressed! Just thoughts at midnight…….. zzzzzzzzzz . (PS - I had an e-mail from a PR person at M & S - a few days later, thanking me for my appreciation of their sandwich. You never know who’s surfing about out there do you!)
Sunday, 16 August 2009
Saturday, 15 August 2009
Friday, 14 August 2009
Thursday, 13 August 2009
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Friday, 7 August 2009
Just watched him as ‘Jeeves’ on a free movie CD, supplied with my mother’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper. Great, witty, troubled, upper class homosexual actor/writer/raconteur as he is - I feel that I shall enjoy reading his autobiography “Moab, My Washpot” - no idea what this means, but suspect biblical reference - because he is so unpretentious and admits to liking Abba’s music, Georgette Heyer’s writing and Wagner all in the same breath. He likes what I like - so I there’s a good chance I shall like his writing. He has put me in my place though regarding swearing - I had subscribed to the view that people who swear excessively have limited vocabularies. He disses this smug, superior attitude with huge contempt, saying that everyone enjoys a good swear - and it is absolutely nothing to do with one’s range of vocabulary. On second thoughts, (which are much more honest than my first), I have to admit he is right.
Thursday, 6 August 2009
Well, last post from the depths of the British countryside anyway. I go back to London tomorrow for a few days to my son, before flying home on Friday. I see that in my efforts not to write anything negative about my family members, I have painted my dad in rather too rosy a light - giving the impression that he is a sunny-tempered, happily-occupied 90-year old who is like a busy bee from dawn to dusk. I have now been asked to forward my father’s philosophy of life re love, marriage, career advice etc. Little does this person realise that in fact my father is deeply pessimistic about life in general and always has been: he regards himself as a complete failure in his career and as a father and generally as a human being - to talk to him for more five minutes is to deeply depress yourself as well. It is for example, extremely difficult to discover in him a sense of humour. So when I showed him this e-mail request although he was quite pleased and flattered - and has indeed filed his copy to review later - the irony of the request struck him as very funny indeed and for the first time in years I saw his habitual frown replaced by genuine laughter. Nonetheless, knowing him it may well sit on his conscience that the writer deserves a considered reply and he will probably try to compose one - it may take a few months. I’ll keep you posted.
Wednesday, 5 August 2009
Dad’s latest project is to try to trace his forebears on the 1891 London census. He first discovered street maps on the Internet and managed to locate where he grew up and has since researched some of his relatives this way. Now he has paid for a number of searches into the census document itself. He has been involved in this for the last two years - this is mostly because with his limited vision he can only see about a square inch of his computer screen at a time and thus spends a vast amount of frustrated time deleting things he is supposed to be saving/printing etc.etc and trying to locate his cursor. (Can you imagine trying to work like that?) Sometimes he gives up for days in frustration as his computer often gets as confused as he is and therefore does funny things which can only be solved when my brother is around. Luckily, dad is networked with my brother’s computer system next door and he can often spot when dad is in trouble which really helps because so often dad is too proud to ask for the regular assistance that he needs. This week he has been trying to send an e-mail enquiry. He has made several drafts (which he then couldn’t find - finally after 3 days asking my help). But then (typically), after enlisting my assistance and having me send the e-mail, he then solved the query himself - the answer lying amongst the pages of ‘help’ documents about the census that he has printed out. He now thinks however, that his grandfather must have lived in a tenement building which is why our two ‘clicks’ on the ‘Search’ button have so far yielded no result and have used two of his credits. The project is now on hold while he reorganises his search requirements and calculates how long his 148 credits will last.
Tuesday, 4 August 2009
Because I enjoy the music and rhythm of words, I have never liked The New English Bible. I grew up with the King James version and although I didn’t understand all the words, I loved the majesty and grace of the writing, I still do. The New English seems to me to have been written for children or for those for whom English is a foreign language and must be simplified. As far as I can see it is spoon-feeding. I used to read everything with a dictionary next to me so that I could improve my vocabulary - but then I love words. I understand that not everyone does. Authors that I particularly relish for the grace of their writing are Dirk Bogarde and C.P. Snow. P.D. James’ detective novels are another example. In one of these I have just come across a quotation (used to comfort someone sleeping near to a dead body!) from the evening service that I remember in my youth. I think it was the benediction at the end of the service: “Lighten our darkness we beseech thee, O Lord, and by thy great mercy, defend us from the perils and dangers of this night.” I think that would comfort me. I have never like poetry much either, but this I remember learning from Robert Louis Stevenson’s. ” A Child’s Garden of Verses” when I was 10 - just because I liked the rhythm. “Over the borders, a sin without pardon, Breaking the branches and crawling below, Out through a breach in the wall of the garden, Down by the banks of the river we’d go.” The words of the hymns we sang in school are etched in memory as well. And as we walked up to Heather’s yesterday, my mother looked at the signs of approaching Autumn in the hedgerow and quoted the whole of a Wordsworth poem she had learnt at school. Amazing the things that we never forget. My point really is that we must never underestimate the value of reading to our small children, a bedtime story is so magical - and lets keep the TVs out of their bedrooms. I heard that Stephen Fry has recorded all 7 (is it?) of the Harry Potter novels. There is nothing like an audio-book to stimulate the imagination. In the last month of my pregnancy once when I was still teaching, I found BBC radio recording of the complete The Lord of the Rings, and I played it for all my English classes. You could have heard a pin drop.
Monday, 3 August 2009
August 30th, 2007
My brother and his family arrived home safely and my small nephew was thrilled to unwrap his nearly-new birthday trumpet, bought for a very reasonable price on e-bay. Chatting in passing about luggage and about insurance - the documents for me to drive my sister-in-law’s car for two weeks went with my brother to France whereas the travel insurance documents for his own holiday arrived after he had left. This reminded me of once when my parents came to visit me in South Africa. On returning home complete with alltheir luggage - my dad discovered that the insurance company had undercharged him - so he posted them a cheque for the difference! I don’t pack anything but old clothes now when flying as so much baggage goes missing. Last year, when I arrived at Heathrow at the then new terminal 5, there were mountains of ‘found’ luggage lying around the walls surrounding the carousels. One had to actually step over them. So much for the important announcements about baggage being destroyed if left unattended! Auctions take place once a month and one woman (interviewed on the radio) has a useful business going. She said that she buys about 30 suitcases a month. Sometimes she even finds passports inside - which she thoughtfully posts back to their owners! How very British. The rest of the stuff she sells profitably on e-bay. Oh, this pic from Google is a bit unfair re Heathrow - the suitcases there were actually in neat, if high, piles. This looks more like the situation we faced at Dar-es-Salaam once, on our way to Zanzibar. We actually were told to find our suitcases, watch them loaded onto a trolley and then to follow the porter out to the small plane and make sure our own luggage was loaded on.