Monday, 31 December 2007
Some stunningly good things have started this year, seeds planted and the fruit of which will be borne in years to come. So it hasn't all been stationary. My immediate family dynamics have changed with eldest moving out, which we all seem to have survived.
Our house selling hasn't happened yet, but it must in due course. I'm half tempted to unpack our library of books and other items so that we are not in such a state of limbo living out of boxes until it happens. It seems like a retrograde step to unpack but equally, I don't mind unpacking to have a sudden sale sprung upon us and having to re-pack. Meanwhile, we can get a sense of civility back to our lives.
The Holidailies "post a day during December" project has come to an end and thank goodness for that. What a curious experience it has been! I didn't know I had quite that many words inside me, though I reckon I prefer posting less often and with more passion, or more silliness.
2008 is upon us. May it be a happy and joyous and loving and prosperous year. May the tides change bringing even better to those who already have it good; and better to those who have had it rough. And may I not be here this time next year writing the same stuff!
Sunday, 30 December 2007
The chocolate fondue mixture was lovely. Having done lots of internet research I was really unhappy about adding the quantities of vegetable oil to the melted chocolate as it just didn't seem right. In the end, I probably did add the quantity of vegetable oil as I could see the 1 kg chocolate (Cadburys Dairy Milk whizzed in small batches in the ice crusher of a blender until crumbly) with the three x 284 ml pots of double cream (heated first) was going a tad lumpy. After heating the cream, the melting/mixing process took maybe ten minutes maximum using our induction hob at the lowest heat, which is like a warmer. And then into the ready heated chocolate fountain.
After filling the reservoir and then switching on the motor it seems half the mixture went straight up the funnel. I then poured more of the chocolate mixture into the reservoir. I suppose if I had switched off after this point it would just over flow the whole container!
Luckily plenty was eaten, even though it was very rich. It was delish but just too much. The picture of the fountain above shows air bubbles and not lumps in the chocolate mixture. The picture below is of the chocolate in the saucepan before mixing into the hot cream.
It is surprising, but not as much chocolate is wasted as I thought. I don't like waste so with the judicious use of a rubber spatula and pouring back into the warmed saucepan with the remainder of the warm chocolate mixture and then into plastic food bag lined mugs means it is ready to be frozen and re-used another time. Like a bit later on as we are expecting visitors .... who gave us this apparatus. I'd like to subject them to it and realise that this an object that should be given to party animals. Not people who are downsizing and are hoping to move.
Proving that bah humbug is not confined to Christmas.
Saturday, 29 December 2007
For the last couple of years I play a game when I am driving and that is to use my brakes as little as possible. So as I drive down the motorway or dual carriageways and I see cars ahead slamming on their brakes in a domino fashion I don't and instead ease my foot off the gas and allow the car to coast. By then the blockage has either cleared and I can speed up again or else we are all travelling at the same slow speed. But that all only works if you are paying attention to what is way up front as well as everything else.
Yesterday I did one of my regular car trips to pick up my niece and nephew. I adore them and they are staying with us for nine days until school starts. Even though I am a mother I love being an aunt. It is such a different responsibility to being a parent, although I'd lay my life down for them, I don't feel the emotional aches and pains as with my own children. Yesterday I got to doing a lot of kissing of the brakes and then kissing of niece and nephew ... which they pretend to hate!
Thursday, 27 December 2007
There is next to no recipe/instruction booklet and I have spent an hour or so googling all manner of options. If there are any alternative suggestions that people have actually tried .... for instance, could I make a cheese sauce - as if for cauliflower cheese - and dip in raw veggies?
How can I make the chocolate more edible, or less rich? Any thoughts/enthusiasm/encouragement appreciated.
Monday, 24 December 2007
Sunday, 23 December 2007
Despite the internal dark times of the last few years, there has been a golden thread throughout that has enabled me to hold on and get through. A thread, that is my darling Mr Doris, who has been my anchor and my life buoy. A magic person, a geek God, who slipped into my life and just stuck. As much as I am magnetised to him he seems to be to me.
And then there are the friends I have in my life. Friends who are related and those who are not. All have been incredibly special to me, and even more so these last couple of years. No matter how bleak, I have not been alone.
Thank goodness for wonderful friends.
Saturday, 22 December 2007
Utterly anal ..... or should I say phallic?! Having washed and ironed the linen for the Christmas table I turned my eye to Youtube and napkin folding. I found this great vid for folding a napkin candle and then adapted it by adding a small red paper napkin. Doesn't take a brain surgeon to work out where.
Should make an interesting talking point on the Christmas table, especially with the teenagers and Grandparents. The latter who will, no doubt, make the lewdest jokes about them.
They even stand up, so I'm thinking about adding some tinsel round the bottom ..... plus a couple of Christmas baubles would be too much of a temptation :-D
Christmas food shopping early yesterday morning was much busier than expected. It was Sainsburys and thankfully, all very civilised. For every move made, one had to wait for three other trolleys to move first. So a lot of the time was spent stationary; amused glances across trolleys; a wry smile; partners holding trolleys looking mildly stunned whilst spouses fetched and carried; long shopping lists being ticked off; and then the occasional smart moves which allowed one to get from aisle five to aisle nine via aisle twenty-three in under three minutes. Oh yes, shopping was a game of strategy and as long as one kept some humour, it was actually quite fun.
PS. I did this "festive" Santa slide puzzle in first 113 clicks and then 82 clicks! Uh-oh computer off time me-thinks.
Friday, 21 December 2007
Son is home early today. Earlier than expected and unfortunately I shan't be here ..... unless I re-organise the Christmas tree purchase. Which I might just do.
Yesterday, I found that the turkey takes longer than I relalised to cook on Christmas day, in order to make an early lunch, which means a bit of alarm setting might be in order.
This year my parents are having Christmas with us. Not because I am kind and generous as a loving daughter but more as a loving sister. My sister and her family have put up with our parents for many years now and I feel she needs a rest. And anyway, being selfish, if I do it this year then I get it over and done with. I've worked out that the last time I had Christmas with my parents was 15 years ago .... the Christmas I last lived with my parents and knew I was going to land them with a bombshell afterwards which then turned my life upside down and thankfully cut the umbilical cord to my mother. I suppose I should be thankful that this time Christmas is on my terms.
Except that, I had really, really wanted to be in Australia with my long-lost cousins this Christmas. But alas, finances do not permit this year.
Thursday, 20 December 2007
We have the Jack Vettriano picture to the right, "Back where you belong", framed on the wall in our bedroom. (According to Feng Shui it is in our relationship corner.) I love the way the man has his hand right round the woman's waist; the way she, too, is so delighted to see him again, she has jumped up and flung her arms around his neck; the way, in that moment in time, he is supporting her weight; the way both her feet are up in the air; the way he has a sweet bunch of flowers in his hand ready to give her; the way their lips and pelvis's are locked together. I love everything about this picture.
And yes, there is a smile on my face and a rosy glow in my cheeks.
Wednesday, 19 December 2007
Luckily, this is one of my pre-written posts. Committing to the Holidailies (and me being me, I usually have to fulfill my obligations [unless I can give a justifiable reason why I won't!]), I drafted a number of small posts this month which I was able to hit "Publish" when I chose - even during extreme mood swings! I am home now until the New Year .... but have a number of things yet to do for Christmas so will still be a bit busy. So, thank goodness for this pre-prepared post, such as it is! Later :-)
One moment I can be getting on doing things and then it creeps up and throws its dark cloak over me. Out of the blue ..... well, maybe there might be some stress factors which occur before hand, but nothing terribly serious beforehand. And it just swallows me up.
Sometimes it goes on and on for days, weeks or months and other times I can snap out within hours. At the point of writing (which has nothing to do with the date stamp on this post) I am close to tears. There is not anything that I want or know that will help. I guess I need to let the tears release me and just get on. Either be busy, or take time out in my own shell doing something inane and distracting.
And then it is back to business as usual. That happy shiny person who is always lovely and helpful. Oh sh*t and now I am crying. Does anyone really know, but I don't want them to know. I am like the "man from Mars" and need to be able to retreat into my shell. Leave me alone, some nice consideration (which I do get from Mr Doris), and I'll be OK soon enough.
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
Not good either when I am a guest in my sister's house and am demonstrating the bizarest lack of control ever known. The brunt has been son, who is doing his own hormonal thing, and between us all my sister has been chief negotiator. Normally that is my speciality but I think my Kofi Annan hat is on holiday.
At times like this I retreat into my shell, so very few people actually experience me like this. On top, I had a foul headache today culminating in being sick. That was at my parent's this morning when I had gone to fix computer hardware. My mother has found a lost set of photos from my childhood. I like to see the photos but what I do find hard is her interpretation of our wonderful life back then. I manage to hold it together but not surprising the migraine/being sick took hold instead. Like something out of the Exorcist maybe (not that I have ever watched it!) and the bad wanting to come out.
I've slept this arvo and feel a whole lot better. Just fragile now.
Monday, 17 December 2007
Unless you have a youth flaffing around looking like he wasn't the sharpest pin in the box. Items are banked up on the conveyor belt - so the storeroom are being more efficient than usual - whilst he walks back and forth not quite doing one thing or another.
From the right ambles over the managerial-looking mature woman who serves one person and then walks off.
I'm dutifully lined up at 'B' counter as resquested behind three others and am sure I can see my item at the bottom of the pile. Some chap walks up next to the line and gets the youth's immediate attention. Am I in the wrong line? I peer at my receipt and indeed I am doing as instructed. The youth proceeds to unload the items from the conveyor one item at a time. We are talking very small items here. He walks round in circles, looks at our line again and then continues one item at a time.
The managerial-looking mature woman ambles back again. Walks around in a circle and then also begins to shift the last few items from the conveyor. She picks up my item - by now I have deduced it is mine - and proceeds to put it on the shelf. At which point I can't wait anymore and dive over to her and tell her that I think that is my item and can I have it. She stamped my receipt so slowly. No I don't want a plastic bag to put the plastic coated item into, I just want to escape.
Sunday, 16 December 2007
The Christmas tree is now up, the decorations adorn it and the paper chains sweep across the parlour walls. The fire has been lit (actually the gas has been opened and ignited!), the presents have been wrapped and the carpet is plush underfoot. It seems fitting to begin spreading the Christmas joy.
We were supposed to be moving this year and so, many of our goods have been carefully wrapped and boxed. But we are still here and I have had to locate boxes and retrieve some items, such as the few Christmas decorations we had kept. Expecting a new start I had let go many things including the old decorations which had no sentimental value. Of the few we have, is the word "Hope" in painted wood and with an angel stood behind it. The bubble wrapping had disturbed her wings which I didn't realise could move. So this year, I have raised the wings of Hope and they now stand proud and, well, hopeful.
Saturday, 15 December 2007
Mr Doris treated me to a cute new pink bluetooth device for my new pink mobile phone. This device enables me to be hands free on the mobile when driving. And to listen to the music player on my phone too, as long as I don't mind it mono into one ear.
The trouble is, my shell-like is of princess proportions. Not deformed, in fact perfectly formed, but tiny. So tiny that the bluetooth device has trouble staying on my ear. With nothing big and flappy to hold it in place, and even adjusted to its "tightest" fitting it is a feat to keep it on. I have to walk with an affected demeanor as if holding a pile of books on my head; and in the car if I should turn my head suddenly, it can go flying off.
Most of all, I am concerned about Cybus Industries and the possible cybermen. [Spoof Cybus site here] What if that episode of Dr Who comes true and the bluetooth devices are being taken over and our minds are being controlled. But I suppose, I'd be OK as my device rarely stays put. I'm even considering using the glasses clip to clip the device to my ear!
Friday, 14 December 2007
Now it is a matter of wrapping beautifully and it seems Christmas might just be on its way.
Something to be said for "it is better to give than to receive"!
Thursday, 13 December 2007
Having made this recipe last Christmas I am going to perfect it this Christmas. Last year, our oven was still new to us and I managed to burn part of the turkey during the initial hot blast ... so I will be more mindful this year. I don't like the gamey-ness of turkey but the spiced, flavourful brine/bath completely transformed the turkey into a succulent and moresome meat, that I was sorry when it finally finished.
I used a free-range turkey which does cost more than a regular one, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I will buy the turkey on Friday 21 December and put it straight into the brine the same day. I use an eski (thermos insulated plastic picnic bucket with fitted lid) and keep it outside in the shed. The turkey is completely immersed and I just have to be careful not to get a bird that is too big to fit into the eski!
As we are having an early lunch on Christmas day, I have to start early - which I don't mind in the least. For a midday dinner I shall get the turkey in and take it out of the brine about 7am Christmas morning and leave it draining and coming up to room temperature for about an hour. Just wash my hands and make the basting glaze which is butter melted with maple syrup.
At about 7.45am I'll put on the oven to warm up and at 8am I'll have the turkey in its baking pan and basted with the glaze. Into a hot oven - should be 220 C but I did that last year and it burned so I'll do it at 210 C - for about half an hour and then turn down to 180 C for about 3 hours. When cooked, remove from the oven and leave to rest for half an hour cosseted in foil to keep the heat whilst allowing the juices to go back into the meat. In the last hour, I'll have prepared and roasted winter vegetables and other trimmings.
Then about midday, just plate up and glory in the triumph. Pudding will be a self-serve selection of ice-creams with smalls bowls of sweets for toppings. Drink will be the annual Schloer and some wine. I don't mind that schedule as it leaves me free to enjoy the rest of the day... my feet are then well and truly up when yummy leftovers are on the menu.
Note: it can be difficult to get some of the spices so it is worth getting them in advance and, from ethnic shops as the price is so much better than the supermarkets. I also add more of this or that and am imprecise. For example a couple of oranges; or more cinnamon stick. I put all the brine ingredients into the eski and mix well before adding the turkey. This is based on a Nigella Lawson recipe.
6 or so litres water
125g table salt
3 tbsp black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp caraway seeds
2 tbsp allspice berries
4 star anise
2 tbsp white mustard seeds
200g caster sugar
2 onions, quartered
1 x 6cm piece of ginger, cut into 6 slices
1 orange, quartered
4 tbsp maple syrup
4 tbsp clear honey
4 tablespoons maple syrup
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
As an adult I can't really be doing with it. Maybe I am such a sore loser?
Scrabble has always been good, but love it to bits now and don't mind losing especially when there are some good words to lose against. Best of all is that our kids really enjoy it too and have always played some excellent words. Our average combined game score is between 550 to 700.
However, if there are more than four of us playing then Balderdash is brilliant fun. With an emphasis on both brilliant and fun. Each person has to make up fictitious meanings for words to try and catch others out with them. We have such a laugh and I am constantly amazed at some of the sophisticated balderdash son comes out with and has done so since he was about ten.
This is my current rating:
Balderdash 9/10 (as you need 4 or more people to make it work)
Tuesday, 11 December 2007
Monday, 10 December 2007
As to which is my favourite Christmas carol - I don't know. There are a lot of them. Favourite childhood Christmas memories is stepping on sore ground and so forth. Which is my favourite Christmas gift, or worst, favourite Christmas desert and what goes on top of the tree are all moveable feasts. Ask me tomorrow and I might be very enthusiastic. Or not.
Sunday, 9 December 2007
If ever there were any doubts I am an 82 High-Nerd! Mr Doris however, is a 96 Supreme Nerd God! Good job we didn't have any biological kids - they wouldn't have stood a chance!
So then I tried Nerd test #2 but really I should have saved my time as there are some no option questions and as a happily married
I don't know how I got that high sci fi/comic score?!
Saturday, 8 December 2007
Why did he walk into a police station looking all dis-shevelled and offer himself up saying he had lost his memory? How does a "dead" man travel around in this world? Why were the couple so foolish as to allow their photo to be taken together a year ago, and then, presumably, allow it to be printed on a website with their real names?
Whatever was the original story, those parents have deceived their children for a year, if not more. That's pretty bad. But then the grown up children petulantly announce (if the news reports are to be believed) that they believe they are the victims of a large scam and are alleged to have said they do not want anything to do with either of their parents now! What happened to standing by close relatives no matter what they have done. What if roles were reversed - the parents would be criticised for abandoning their kids.
What must be the cost of all this reporting and police efforts? Certainly much more than the £100k insurance claimed. I wouldn't be surprised if the script writers and film producers are out there now ready to snap up the story even as it unfolds.
In eight years time, after the court case and prison sentences* I expect we'll see Mr and Mrs Darwin on the couches of all the major chat shows of the world talking of their adventures. A couple of years later as a couple on "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here", or perhaps "Celebrity Big Brother" first.
Meanwhile, thanks for the entertainment.
* Fraud usually has a stiffer sentence than an habitually drunk driver killing someone.
Friday, 7 December 2007
Apparently mother-in-law-in-waiting is a mumsy mum. I am not sure where that leaves me and with the imagination I have, have written myself off as an awful mother who is rather lacking in all departments. After all, I don't bring food parcels or cold remedies. But we have financed daughter to find her feet and am often doing the emergency doctor run as daughter is the "I am dying" sort when she has aches and pains.
Mother-in-law-in-waiting is probably a darling and I'd like her but for some reason I feel in competition with her. No-one told me I should be afeared of her competing for my daughter's affections, nor that I have not been good enough. I can do all that self-destruction all by myself. I wonder if she feels in competition with me?
Christmas is a-coming and I have given daughter free reign to do as she pleases for Christmas making sure that she realises my saying that doesn't mean that I don't care, rather that I don't want her to feel under pressure. Daughter is being utterly diplomatic and wonderful. Her boyfriend can eat for England so they are coming to us first on Christmas day where they will both eat with us, and then go on to his mother where they will have Christmas dinner with her but daughter will only have a little as she doesn't eat much.
It is silly that I should feel in competition to make sure I have the nicest Christmas dinner. So superficial of me. But I am working on my menu now!
Thursday, 6 December 2007
Wednesday, 5 December 2007
I used to love Christmas. As an adult. I'd choose decorations and make an effort. These last couple of years have been tough.
Things might change again though. I have just started a new business, alongside what I already do, that involves Christmas cards and Christmas product alongside everyday cards. Methinks I had better lose my bah humbug in favour of delight once again. So maybe by August next year I shall be singing Christmas carols under my breath and the twinkle in my eyes will be baubles and tinsel. Scary!
Tuesday, 4 December 2007
Monday, 3 December 2007
So there you are.
Over this month I plan to blog daily. Ooo-er .....
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
Then somewhere along the line something happens and one arranges to meet up. That other blogger whose pictures adorn their blog suddenly becomes a larger than life person crossing your threshold. Someone who one has become fond of, with their words and photos, comes to life in a different way. Egotistically one could think of life revolving around us and our blog friends being relationships "we" have only created; perhaps even conjured and just mythical. Even though these are wonderful people and our words touch each other there is still the fear that perhaps we are just making it up. That this isn't real and not valid.
Added to that, we have the off-line fears generated by the media and non-netty types that it is a scary world out there with the internet full of axe wielding maniacs. So heaven forbid, the thought of physically meeting a person met online is an anathema. But as I have been happily married for nine years to the wonderful Mr Doris who I met online back in 1998, I really don't have such an issue.
The very interesting thing about having met this blogger now a couple of times is that the words and pictures are real. A real human being and all those sentiments expressed prior to meeting really are true to the heart. It wasn't just a figment of my imagination. They were not just empty words - on either side. That one can come across some amazing people in the blog world. With geographical distances being what they are, it isn't often possible to meet up with those that we have connected with, but I am reassured that, mainly, our words are not empty ones.
Sunday, 23 September 2007
It is sad that such books end up being thrown on a shelf in the cut price section of the already cut price bookshop but even sadder is the bundle of books, which included this one, which is supposed to be about poignant childhoods. A bundle that is supposed to raise one's spirits with a cover price of something like £56 but here for only £7.99. None of the other books in the bundle appealed anyway but I can't imagine digging a deeper hole of self-pity for myself.
Quite contrary to self-pity, is Sabine Dardenne's account of her abduction in 1996 by a rapist and murderer Marc Dutroux and her incarceration in a dank cell hidden from the world in a cellar. This happened in Belgium. Sabine was 12 years old and had been held for 80 days and 79 nights. Her poster was everywhere and large teams of people searched for her. But she didn't know that. Her captor had led her to believe that her family had given up on her and had even said there was a "big boss" who wanted to kill her because her family would not pay the ransom. So the captor played her "saviour" and gave her a choice to die or choose to live. But to live she would have to hide and he would hide her. But her choice to live is far deeper than what she was offered; it runs through the core of her. Even then, as a young child she held onto hope and certainty that she would be reunited with her family.
In the book Sabine does not talk about any of the details of the sexual abuse which I think was an excellent idea. And actually, is not necessary to know within the context of the book. Being plucked from your bicycle mid-cycle from a passing grubby van and then being drugged, whilst she is fighting taking the drugs, and then being concertina-ed up into a tool box to be taken into a house and then stripped naked and chained by the neck to a bunk bed is just the beginning of her harrowing "alternative summer holiday".
During her incarceration, Sabine quickly realised she needed routine and order. This is a twelve year old child for heaven's sake. She kept a diary and a calendar and hoped that her watch battery would hold out. She needed to tick off the days as they passed and jotted down main events such as when her abductor went away on one of his "missions". Days she spent on her own and then when he returned it was to take her upstairs to his bedroom to rape her.
Unbeknown to Sabine at the time, the year before Ductroux had two eight year olds incarcerated in the same cell but he had been imprisoned for two months for some minor offence. Ductroux was actually married and had children of his own. What's more, his wife knew of his activities and had been instructed to bring food and supplies to the girls but she said she was too scared to do so. When Ductroux returned from prison he found the girls dead (presumably from starvation) and buried them. That same year he had kidnapped two older girls (aged 17 and 19) who he had drugged and raped and then buried alive.
Usually I like to have details but I found I didn't need to know what the sexual details were, and instead found myself steaming through the book because I wanted to know what happened after she was released. It was disappointing. It wasn't a running in to the bosom of her parents and instead was a barrage of questions and not being left alone. Sabine wanted to get back her life and had to fight to get it. She wanted to do things in her way but that didn't fit in with the people around her. Her mother meant well but their relationship was not the best anyway. Her parents ended up separating but these were fault lines that were already there.
The Ductroux case had a huge impact on Belgium and its institutions. So many mistakes had been made that if they hadn't been made then a number of young women would not have been raped or murdered. Sabine's whole point of writing the book is to give her own account in order to be able to shut everyone up once and for all and to leave her alone; and to also make sure that such mistakes are not made again.
Sabine writes in a very down to earth way. She does not want to be a hero and isn't one. Her survival strategy has been to put it all behind her and not talk about what happened or the details. To anyone and especially not to any psychiatrist! Sabine went on to have a tricky adolescence but she found love at sixteen and managed to consummate her love in the apparently fumbling way that young people do. She has had a rubbish education and jobs that have not been great. Really, a quite ordinary person who deserves to be left alone and to handle things in her way.
The bits of the book that had me streaming with tears was reading her letters home during her incarceration. It is one thing reading her book written in retrospect: as an adult; but to read the words she wrote (allowing for the fact that the book has been translated into English) at the time are heartbreaking. She was told by her captor that these letters were being sent home. Incredibly, the stupid captor had allowed three of these letters to survive and had been retrieved by the police. They later became vital evidence against Dutroux at the court case in 2003 which sentenced him to life.
"I choose to live" is a great mantra.
Friday, 21 September 2007
However, after all the fun, one returns to the usual issues of life and over the briefest possible time it feels that one's life has been systematically dismantled but without any visible signs. Everyone here is alive and reasonably healthy; we have food on the table and my Mr Doris obviously loves me. So to add to the inner turmoil comes the guilt for feeling like this when others in the world are struggling to live; to eat; or even think.
I feel like a Jekkyl and Hyde character because there are people in my life who know nothing of this. In some areas I still function and say nothing. What is there to say and in any case, as much as I can be a bleeding heart there is no need for me to haemorrhage all over the joint, so I don't! I am fortunate to have some more than lovely friends who listen to me but a lot of the time I really do feel the need to hide in my shell and say nothing.
In my shell I need to scream and wail and on the whole, it is best to leave me to do that. But sometimes that shell breaks and I lose it altogether, almost. Like this week the kitchen was scrubbed like a shiny pin as the tears kept flowing amidst the occasional audible sob. Something good came of it I suppose!
And who are these beasts that need to be slain? Just the usual ones that rear their heads at times when things are a bit tough. The multi-headed dragon of failure: as a person; professionally; and most painful of all, as a parent. Now that I am "sober" again I can say that this is the most mythical of the beasts and yet the hardest to fight. There are the practical beasts of finance; house selling and buying; education of son; house-cleaning; damage and repairs; car repairs; and so on. None of these are slain but it is possible some are mortally wounded.
Speaking of death (which I do not think is such a great analogy to use above) yesterday I was driving back from an errand when a pigeon was in the middle of the road pecking at something. As they do. I slowed to give the bird a chance to fly up. As they do. But this one didn't move fast enough and as a result my car thwacked it. I felt sick to my stomach to see in my rear-view mirror the bird, a mass of feathers across the road, fluttering its last. What an awful thing I had done. If only.
Then I think of myself as that pigeon. If I don't pick myself up and get moving, instead of scrabbling around in the sewers, then maybe life will come along and deal the final thwack.
Or maybe, sometimes it is out of my control and the cards are up when they are up and that's that.
(Youtube clip removed as it was stopping page from loading properly!)
Tuesday, 21 August 2007
Last night, talking to some friends about the Madeleine McCann case we ended up on one of those offshoot conversations and I recalled a snippet from my life. But as the images recalled were so vivid they have been churning over in my head since and then I got to thinking about the circumstances.
It was about twenty years ago as a single woman. I walked into a local cafe wearing my biker leathers. I had a poor self image so on reflection I probably looked quite hot in my slimline top to toe black leathers. Buying my tea and two rounds of toast I went to share a table with a young chap also with some biker gear. We got to chatting, as you do, and begin a brief and torrid relationship. I do have to thank him for one particular memory of something very hot and erotic but that is quite another matter!
At that time I rode a very sturdy and rectangular old motorbike whilst he had a superbike of the day. I discovered I neither liked superbikes nor being a passenger. Being driven at 90mph on tight bends with your knees almost skimming the road is not my idea of fun. However, he had his other compensations. In those times, my life was shared between my hard-earned degree course as a mature student and a part time job for a very respectable organisation.
Unbeknown to me, early one evening, this new found boyfriend of mine decided he needed to find a way to get out of the payments on his very expensive bike and thought to write it off and make an insurance claim. So he experimented with some explosive materials, bizarrely, inside a disused building. Somehow it went wrong and he managed to blow something up, but not his bike, and set himself alight. Incredibly, he managed to douse the flames on himself, pick himself up, put on his helmet and gloves and ride over to my place in a house which I shared with a less than clean landlord. Who I am grateful to for being quite so understanding and helpful on this occasion.
Stood at the door my then boyfriend was not coherent and something was obviously wrong but I couldn't see in the dusk. There was a curious smell about him. He insisted he needed my help but that he could not, under any circumstances, go to the hospital and that I had to help. First I was to take off his helmet. Taking off one's own helmet is hard enough but to take off someone else's is a struggle. Especially when layers of their face come off with it and parts of their nose are apparently missing.
If I didn't faint then, then I could have when he insisted we removed his gloves. I don't know what was worse: seeing the backs of his hand peel off in the gloves or knowing that the less than clean sink of cold water was not the hygienic ideal environment for serious burns. By now, the guy was going into shock but was so paralytic with fear about outside medical treatment and any potential police involvement that I promised I would stay with him. And so began the lies.
In order to stay with him I'd have to be his next of kin. His wife. And we had to have a cover story for the "accident". Having agreed to all this, my flatmate and I somehow managed to walk this guy to the hospital. Now, I can't believe all this carry on and that this guy had the wherewithal to hobble to hospital in that state. But he did just that.
At the hospital I was having to answer medical and family history questions for my "husband" who I had only known weeks and barely knew his date of birth. How little I knew. I was interrogated by hospital staff as to the "accident" and managed to keep the cover going. Not surprisingly the guy was transferred to a specialist burns unit. There again I was interrogated, this time I was entirely on my own, and felt that my story was going to crack to only then get the metaphorical hand on the knee and perhaps the sorry news that my "husband" had maybe tried to commit suicide. I then have to react as the distraught, disbelieving "wife".
It sounds incredibly selfish but the moment that guy landed at my door and dumped on me like that our relationship had ended for me. I carried out the lies in order to get him through the psychological fear of getting the medical help he desperately needed for his injuries, but he soon got the fastest "divorce" in history once he had gotten over the worst of his injuries in the burns unit. Which incidentally was a three hour return train journey daily for me, slotted into studies and work. He didn't damage his bike so didn't need to put in an insurance claim and the police were never involved. I think the creditors got his bike and he went home to live with mummy.
If I saw the guy now I would happily punch him in the face and knee him in the nuts for what he put me through. The telling lies was not easy, especially when one has to start making up "facts" but it is a slippery road which is difficult to get off once started even when you are "protecting" someone else. It is surprising but some lies get easier the more often they are told that in the end I had to question myself what was reality.
Saturday, 18 August 2007
The estate agents have been next to useless, we're on our second set of agents, and in the end our buyer has come as a result of a local leaflet drop. All my effort, and Mr Doris helping to tweak and design the wording, but no input at all from our estate agent. Someone who hadn't been on the look out for a new home has fallen in love with the place ... but sorting out his finances is taking a little longer than one would hope. In my heart I know everything will work out before too long, but it is scary. The thought of pounding the streets with the remaining leaflets I didn't post; or going back to the estate agents waiting for them to say "ner-ner-na-ner-ner yer back!", which they wouldn't, is just a little draining.
Add to this mix is that since the offer on our house we finally went looking at properties at our new destination. And found something. Small-ish but perfect and a fabulous price that we need. We are being brave and are holding off putting in an offer in case the sale of ours takes even longer. Which means their house is still on the market and available to anyone else. We can move in with family in order to cut the chain but I don't want to put in a offer and then keep them waiting. I've just calculated but our last property took six months to finalise the sale - and that was with a buyer already on board.
Someone close to me has also moved with umpteen things going wrong at the 5th, 7th, 10th, and 11th hours but they finally did it. I have had those traumas to live through as well. And....
...I was asked to follow up an Ebay bid for said person for an item they had been chasing after for a long time. They were going to be out at work at the time of the bids closing so it was in my hands, with their access details and a budget. Came the allotted time my heart is pounding out of my chest wall; my internet connection is playing silly buggers and I can't get the system to accept my one large bid. Boom, boom, boom, my heart rate was deafening. I was feeling sick and knew I was being relied on. If I lost the bidding then fair enough that would be understood but to not get the bid on at all was careless. With about 50 seconds to go the bid was accepted and was the winning bid. I kept clicking the refresh button as the seconds went down and numbers were churning all over the place and last scramble bids were placed but I still had the highest bid. Then seconds to go and bang. A bid that was just some £2 over mine was placed and the bidding ended and I lost.
Never again, I swear. The drama of running someone else's bid for an item on Ebay is just too much for my soul. Next thing will be putting in our offer for the house we want to purchase. Methinks I shall hand it over to Mr Doris and I'll hide under the cushions until it is all over.
Tuesday, 24 July 2007
First there was the crazy golf, and then the canoing. Each child with their own canoe, scary at first for 10 year old niece but such a brilliant confidence builder as she learned to master the canoe on the boating pond which was little more than knee deep. The park rangers walked around the pond and assisted those that needed it. Meanwhile, I'm snapping away - thank goodness for digital cameras with almost endless memory cards.
Then our picnic followed by a very long play on the apparatus whilst I lay on the grassy knoll watching them. First the three of them are playing chase and then bit by bit the numbers involved in this game increased until there were about eleven children all playing. My son, possibly the eldest, saying "hi" to new kids and asking them their name and encouraging them to play it was wonderful to watch the co-operation. Children from five to thirteen all playing together. The older ones giving the younger ones a chance. So kind and democratic.
At dinner tonight niece asked each of us what was our favourite bit of the day to which I replied it was sitting on the grass watching and thinking. Thinking about how much the kids had loved the canoes and watching niece mastering hers. Watching the world go by was such a rare pleasure. All sorts of family groups going by. A grandfather waiting by the bin for his charge to finish his ice cream and then whip out his tissue wetting it with his mouth before rubbing vigourously at the child's chin. The child grimacing as all kids do. The three generations of women the youngest of which was not that young had her three young sons with them making four generations out for a summer stroll.
The family playing chase: mum, dad and children. The two young chic women with their impossibly small toy dogs wearing tiny jackets. The Arabic family, of which the three women in their floor length black gowns billowing in the warm breeze carrying a household rug as a picnic blanket. The university students, two of whom had those running stilt thingies and when one of the females in the group put them on then she'd have a bevvy of young males around perhaps on the hope she might fall into their arms!
Happy, smiling people the whole day. Except when a child fell off its bicycle and then a concerned parent would run up and soothe away the tears. No arguing. No fighting. Just an amazing day.
After hours of playing, long after most people had made their way home we headed over to the paddling pond where the children became more wet than they should. But oh so many lovely photos of them. To dry off they ran around the now empty go-kart track pretending to be racing cars, making all the noises and a mock commentary. That was all their idea and I just stood there laughing and laughing.
Such a glorious day and one for the memory banks.
Friday, 13 July 2007
It is curious that I have only heard of the petition and nothing at all about the actual plans for this building so I started googling. Pages and pages of venom and anger on forums and noticeboards and blogs. It has taken me quite a while to find anything about any plans so I am logging my findings here. Of note are two articles.
One is from The Times Online dated 27 November 2005:
Giant mosque for 40,000 may be built at London Olympics
And the other is from This Is Local London dated a year later 7 November 2006:
Mega-mosque planning deadline missed
Just to clarify: what had been proposed was a new three storey building that included a mosque, school, library and community facilities. The artists impression from the link above does make it look quite a stunning bit of architecture. It would replace the existing undersized mosque facilities. These were not at any time going to be funded from tax payers money. What is not clear is IF any part of this project is going ahead.
However, if you read the email doing the rounds one would think think that what is being proposed is to be a landmark larger than the Wembley Stadium, being paid for out of our taxes by a Moslem-appeasing Red Ken (Mayor of London). Seems to me that this is an email and petition designed to simply stir things up and create more tension and hatred, especially towards those of the Moslem faith. But of course when put like the email below, it is understandable that there is anger at the thought of any public funds being used in this way when so much else needs fixing or doing.
Normally I just delete such online circulars. I remember I was taken in by one a few years ago and was concerned about whatever it was. Only after I had forwarded it did I then find out it was way out of date and not actually of any help anyway. It had sunk into an Urban Legend which I wonder if this one will as well.
Has the UK gone completely Mad ?
Subject: Vote to scrap the 'Mega Mosque' for which YOU will be paying.
We need to act NOW before it's too late
Don't know if you have heard about this but Ken Livingstone is apparently planning to use tax payer's money to build an enormous mosque costing an estimated £100M in the docklands.
Wouldn't it be better to spend the money on a new hospital or improved transport facilities? Anything but such a scheme as this:
The mosque will be BIGGER THAN ST PAUL'S!!!
The plan is for the mosque to be so big so that people flying in from all over the world for the 2012 Olympics will see it as the biggest landmark in London , bigger than St Pauls, Westminster Abbey or Wembley Stadium.
The vote so far is 56 % in favour. It looks like the Muslim community in the UK is casting its vote in droves, and as usual the British are burying their heads in the sand....
It is an undemocratic use of British Tax payer's money, especially when our Churches that are 100's of years old get no government funding to keep their structures standing, and we are supposedly a Christian Nation.
To vote to 'Scrap the 'Mega-Mosque' please sign the official Government petition in the link below.
After voting, please forward this to as many UK citizens as you can
Addendum: Oh lovely! In closing down my various browser windows I just did a websearch for the name of the person who started this petition. Jill Barham has a blog called English Rose with the tagline: Opposing the Labour Government and the Islamization of this Country. Says it all really.
The (almost) last word goes to Ken Livingstone from 5 April 2007:
Mayor Attacks Mosque Email Campaign
Finally, here is the name of the actual project "Abbey Mills Mosque" who have a website I have only been able to access so far through the Google cache:
Wednesday, 11 July 2007
Latest Update - Gerry's Blog/Diary
Day 68 - 10/07/2007
Kate and I both managed early morning runs today- it is definitely the time of day to it with the high temperatures in the middle of summer. Getting some aerobic exercise certainly helps us feel better physically and psychologically which helps maintain our positive attitude.
The investigation into Madelienes disapperance remains very active and we note that the Portuguese police are conducting a series of interviews today and tomorrow.
Is it really relevant to know that he went jogging on a day when there were important developments?
Why does he often mis-spell his missing daughter's name?
And how is the alleged nearly million GB pounds that has been raised to be used?
The ultimate responsibility for what happened to Madeleine is with whomever took her (though plenty of theories abound that this might not even be the case) but I am so fed up with this supposed dignity of the parents propounded by the McCanns themselves and the UK press when I think there should be a whole lot more humility and humbleness shown because they screwed up big time and left their toddler children unattended, in an unlocked room in a foreign country whilst they went out for dinner. They don't have to spend their time being a public emotional wreck but this behaviour of theirs is bizarre.
Would you walk out your unlocked hotel room and leave your wallet and valuables on the bed?
Further interesting reading:
Mike Hitchen has long been on my blog roll and it was his writings on the subject that alerted me to a different view of what we were being presented
The current affairs forum of the Mirror. What is written on there can be controversial and mad, but some interesting points
This WAS a petition to Leicestershire social services to investigate the child care practises of the family; but it is now abused and just a talking place if you can get through the repetitive messages
This is Madeleine's family's own, official website. I note that it contains no information of substance such as when their daughter disappeared, nor any useful timelines of note for anyone who might have been in the area. It strikes me it is more about raising money...
14 July 2007 Addendum:
Latest Update - Gerry's Blog/DiaryDay 71 - 13/07/2007
[...]Kate and I believe that someone, somewhere knows something about Madleines abduction. The events of recent weeks and the high profile of Madeleine reassure us that when the key piece of information comes in, to any law enforcement agnecy, it will be treated seriously and fed into the inquiry quiickly and actioned.
Typos are one thing, not very good coming from a professional, but it is this continual misspelling of an identity that is so strange. A name is precious and whilst one shouldn't get hung up on the spelling when one is talking about one's own missing child I should think they deserve more care to make sure that at least one spells it correctly. Is Gerry McCann trying to say something psychological here?
Monday, 2 July 2007
Better than pornography, Dr Who does it for me. I can't remember as a kid ever thinking of fancying Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker, but Christopher Ecclestone and now David Tennant have gotten me, ever so gently, entwined in a magical spell where I am smitten. So to have the character needing to be saved so many times slightly dents the fantasy.
It is important to note, that as an hetrosexual woman I am also attracted to the companion characters in the revived Dr Who. No longer the blonde bimbo, or a bit of fluff as a supporting act to the magician, the companions are hard hitting characters of their own. I love what has been done and, in contrast, can barely name any of the companions from the Dr Who of my childhood.
Last Saturday saw the last in the trilogy from the final series. Oh joy of joys when the Dr "resurrected" and transformed to do the deed only he could do. (Admittedly he couldn't have done it without Martha Jones but at least he went on to do his bit.) The light show and special effects are not lost on me as I hugged myself in joy as the tables turned and the Dr regained his former glory .... and good looks. When David Tennant smiles at Freema Agyeman I can imagine him smiling at me and then there is only him and me in the room and I am so gone!
Such a good twist with Martha finally telling the Dr she was not going to travel with him for the forseeable. The BBC news site has an article which confirms Doctor Who to get extra companion and that Freema will be off shooting some episodes for Torchwood and will miss the first half of Series 4 of Dr Who.
PS. It just gets better! Kylie stars in festive Doctor Who
Wednesday, 27 June 2007
The wonderful Jeni Barnett now has a new radio slot on LBC which can be listened to online:
1pm-2pm Monday to Friday LBC Radio
Click on the Listen Live link on the LBC website
NB. Aaaaaaargh this is the first time I have listened from the beginning and hear that Jeni is only sitting in for someone else. So this might only be for this week!
For years Jeni presented the excellent Good Food Live on UKTVFood but bizarrely, in some strange stroke of political manouvering, the programme format and Jenni were ditched in favour of a rather slow and less than inspiring food programming. It is so boring it is beyond belief - I understand that is to go off air soon, after its short run.
Moving to radio is a new career move for Jeni and just goes to show that no matter, we can always re-build and move into new directions. Jeni has been blogging and is refreshingly honest and open about the mental traumas we go through and I wish her well. It is a fascinating insight into a person in her position. Pretty human really!
Do visit her blog and show her a bit of loving! www.jenibarnett.com
After all, for many years she has kept us entertained and informed and held an excellent daily food programme together. And I am looking forward to seeing her larger than life character on TV again but for the moment the radio slot is doing very well!
Sunday, 24 June 2007
The time has come to re-emerge and re-brand. Time to move away from the very dodgy Grans on Bran moniker with its edge of porn connotations. I didn't mean to mislead anyone but I did not want to fit in a pigeon hole.
By re-branding I am definitely making a statement that I want to continue blogging. It is fun, creative and therapy all in one go, but this time round I am definitely easing off the too personal stuff. It might be OK to know the inner recesses of my bizarre thinking but I don't need to be quite so public about some of the effluent in my past.
I did think I might write something a tad more but having spent some days copying over all these posts I'm pretty near exhausted. So no invitations or cyber cocktails just yet. Coming soon. It will definitely be a dress up event. :-)
Thursday, 21 June 2007
Thursday, 14 June 2007
Almost all reason leaves me as I wonder if this animal is alive but won't let go of the bag in case something jumped out and escaped. All this bravery whilst full of fear. But the mouse was well and truly dead and not only that, was flattened. What happened, why my bag, had I done something to kill the mouse in situ - had I stepped on it, and why didn't I smell it before now. Especially as I have an acute sense of smell. Worst of all, are there any more dead animals under my desk? Most repulsive.
On the other hand, it's a great day for it. Our car broke down. We had VIP guests (clients) and I left getting the lunch catering until the last minute. So on foot I hightailed it to the local store and lugged back all sorts of goodies: watermelon, pineapple, other fruits, juices, bread and fresh veg for a fresh soup. Having both arms feel like they were no longer part of my body wasn't enough. I had 40 minutes to knock up a lovely lunch. Yeah - on that score I can consider "job done and brilliantly executed". It was a lovely lunch enjoyed by all.
Later on, having got the car running with the help of four local lads, I go in search of a garage to get the car fixed. Apparently the battery was OK after all and it might be the starter motor. Interesting that there is all this smoke coming out the exhaust as well? Negotiating with the third garage my son phones me to say that his friend was laying on the ground bleeding from the head but that don't worry he was with him and that five teachers were also in attendance! (It turns out it was kids high jinks throwing stones at each other got out of hand - sheer stupidity.)
The mother of son's friend, a neighbour, hadn't yet been located so with car smoking away I ditch the garage and high tail over to the school to be there for the ambulance but they have just left. So it is a drive to the hospital to stay with the boy until his mum gets there. But it is getting to rush hour and hospital parking can be difficult... so I park the car at home and run all the way to the hospital. Admittedly it isn't far, quite a few streets away, but only weeks ago I couldn't even run fifty yards and here I was keeping up a good pace. I was still finding it difficult but I did it and arrived not even beetroot red. The boy's mother had already arrived so I wasn't needed which was fine with me. As a just in case I felt it important to be there but that is by-the-by.
The thing for me is that I now have a level of fitness. Less than a month doing my air walker exercises have already paid off. By this time I had forgotten I had done the earlier dash to the shops returning laden down like a donkey and here I was running to the hospital as if it were nothing. This is wonderful stuff. But before I preen up in smug self-satisfaction I am reminded of this revolting happening beneath my desk.
PS. Handbag and contents hit the bin with just a check that nothing identifiable was with it for security sake.
Monday, 11 June 2007
Thanks to Jane of Jane Loves Tarzan for reminding me that I have been a blogger for two years now. Technically. I did take a break for some months, and I so archived my archive it's gone but who's counting?!
It's Jane's anniversary too.
PS. I love Jane's cake - so manic :-D
PPS. A little reminder why the moniker "Grans on Bran": It started off as a joke between me and Cheryl of Mad Baggage. I'm not a Gran but I could be. It was my wanna-be Porn Star name.... but that was a conversation over two years ago and goodness knows how these things get discussed ;-) But it was thanks to Cheryl that I started blogging.
Wednesday, 6 June 2007
Having recently discovered the excellent "The Oldies Project" I have also become more intimate with the visualisations on RealPlayer. One of which is the singular "Annabelle the Sheep". It is mad, it is crazy, it is blindingly simple but so funny and incongruous. With all the technology out there, to have a stick sheep bounce back and forth to one's tunes, and it's various cohorts making an appearance, really tickles.
Screen grabs below for instant edification.