30 May, 2014

Passing On

Woke up this morning to an email from my husband, that his father had died in the night. His brother has driven over from Nottingham to be with his mother. He was 80-something and had not been well for a long time - heart condition, diabetes and some sort of cancer also diagnosed earlier on in the year, so I guess it was not unexpected, but still very sad. A blessing though that he went quickly, without suffering or lingering on, at home with his wife of 50 years, entirely lucid and himself right to the end. I guess that is the way most people would prefer to go. The thing that makes me sad, as with my own father, is wishing we could have seen more of him, more recently. It is a great shame that families nowadays live so far apart.

Not much else to report. Anne came up from Somerset for her usual shifts, but apparently the newspaper is getting rid of all its casual staff by June, so she has already started looking for a new job - she seems to have quite a few prospects - and at better newspapers too! She's also thinking a lot about her mother in Merthyr, who is ailing and how they can work it out so she can take care of her at home.

Went up to Clapham Junction to pick up Lol's shoes. Bought the girls steak bakes from Greggs and raspberries from the fruit stall, forgetting there was leftover spag bol for lunch.

Tried to use coupon for discount on Guardian at Tescos self checkout. Failed to work. Eventually the guy had to just give me 60p from the till. Honestly. These coupons are more trouble than they're worth. Since you have to swipe your Tesco card anyway, why don't they just automatically deduct the amounts or credit you with the points without your needing to scan the coupon?

Gave the old kid booster seat away to a tanned old lady on Freecycle.

My Glen Campbell Greatest Hits 2nd-hand CD arrived today. Loaded it up onto the cloud. Galveston! Oh Galveste-on!

Trimmed the lavender border and planted some peas and rocket in a spare bit of the back bed.

Accosted by young chap who seems not all there, while was out walking the dog. Harmless, just kept on repeating questions about the dog.

Spoke to someone at National Power about getting the meter moved. Weird accent from somewhere up north, I think. She was actually really helpful and got it sorted, even though I was pretending to be my own husband, as he is the accountholder. Luckily he has the kind of name that could be either gender and I have the kind of voice that ditto, especially over the phone.

Dhal, okra, mackerel and rice for dinner, ably assisted by my lovely sous-chef Fungus, followed by She's the Man on DVD, which was strangely enjoyable, even though it starred Amanda Bynes, who is now off her head, and Channing Tatum, whom I can never recognise. Dog got a bit uppity at dinner, kept on barking and bouncing herself off my thigh in a bid for titbits, even though Fungus had already given her a bit of mackerel. In the end I got so fed up with her, I shut her out of the living room. So then she went out the back door and re-appeared at the living room window, looking in wistfully.

And so to bed. As Samuel Pepys would say.

29 May, 2014


Today, bagged up a load of Country Life's to give away to a Freecycler. Took dog for a walk all the way up to Clapham Junction to get Lol's school shoes resoled and heeled - it cost £25! This is the last time I bother to do this - I might as well buy a new pair and be resigned to them only lasting a year. Took Fungus up to the Brazilian embassy to do a schools' exchange thing for the 2016 Olympics. Got loads of Brazilian Olympics loot and also ate some excellent cheese puffs and drank guarana juice. Muy exotico! as they don't say in Rio. Back down in sweltering hot train and taught Fungus how to cook spag bol. After dinner, watched School of Rock with the grils. Joan Cusack just brilliant: "I've just been informed that all of your children are missing. So..."

Think I may have found someone to offload that old sofa on, that the Countess of Whojamaflip offloaded onto us 7 years ago.

28 May, 2014

Half term

Girls are on  half-term. Lol is revising for end-of-term exams next week so we haven't gone anywhere. Although we did go to see X-men: Days of Future Past last night, which suffered from a problem that many blockbuster Hollywood films seem to suffer from nowadays. They want the characters to seem deep and to have some kind of emotional life, so they give them a problem, like they've suffered a lot in the past, so now they're a drunk. But the demands of the plot mean that once they're called upon to act, they miraculously throw off their drunkenness/addiction whatever and back to fighting fitness without any visible effort or screen time spent on it, so the whole thing ends up being more like a treatment for a movie than the movie itself. Perfunctory. Time is spent on effects and plot, rather than on character development. On the plus side, we have Michael Fassbender, as @mayambialik says, wet, shirtless or in a hard hat, though not all at the same time, looking smoking hot; James McAvoy doing his darnedest to inject a suggestion of humanity into the proceedings, and JLaw exuding star power like a 25000 watt bulb.

I was going to go to the Veronese exhibition at the Nat Gall today, but Lol expressed a desire to go and see it (odd, maybe all the revision is making everything else seem interesting), so I'm postponing it till after her exams. Instead I spent all day (1) ironing, (2) cooking, (3) gardening, (4) watching Bleak House, (5) walking the dog, (6) getting rid of things on Freecycle, and (7) having a nap in my big old armchair in front of the picture window. It's a hard knock life, as I keep telling the girls.

Also bought 5000 Vodafone shares.

I've started recording Pepys diary for Librivox, so, inspired, I've picked up this blog again.

In other news, I'm reading Dombey and Son, which I haven't read since A levels (those were in the days when for Eng Litt A level you did Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, Keats and Milton. How we suffered! If only they'd let me read Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird instead, maybe I wouldn't have gone on to read English Literature at Oxford.

I'm also still slaving through Balzac's Human Comedy. I started reading this because someone said that Balzac was better than Dickens, because he was Dickens without the sentimentality. Having got as far as A Daughter of Eve, all I can say is that Balzac seems to be Dickens without the genius or sense of humour. I'm also fed up to the back teeth with all his bloody aristocrats. I haven't read that much French literature (well, basically Balzac and Proust), but they all seem to be obsessed with the doings of the Fauborg St Germain, the denizens of which seem to be the most toxic bunch of vile, snotty, self-satisfied set of horrors it could have been anyone's misfortune to meet. And this is AFTER the French Revolution. What they were like before, I can't imagine. I can quite understand the sans culottes wanting to cut their heads off.

In bloom at the moment in the garden: foxgloves, peonies, pinks, alliums. Brunnera need a Chelsea chop. There are a few early apricots on the tree, and the vine is covered with tiny little clusters which will eventually become lovely sweet grapes about the size of raisins.