Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Although I always enjoy a holiday once I'm on my way, I find the chaos surrounding getting ready for it really tiresome.

Days before I'm trying to keep clothes clean so I don't have to keep washing, yet I still manage to have last minute washing and ironing. Also I have to clean the house from top to bottom in case the cat sitters should think I'm a really dirty lazy person. Also lawns have to be cut and the garden left tidy - just in case. Of what I don't know.
I make lists and cross things off and then make more lists, throwing things that we need to take with us into a basket as I think of them, things like umbrella, spare glasses, phone charger, book to read, note pad and pencil just in case I'm moved suddenly to write a sonnet or two, kitchen sink........!

I usually settle down when I'm about a couple of hours into the outward journey but until then I'm chasing my tail and fretting about what hasn't been done.

Anyway, Wales here we come, will be back in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Monkey Forest

Today we visited the new Monkey Forest at Trentham Gardens. I wasn't sure about this new venture but now I've seen them in their tranquil, leafy habitat, I don't mind it so much. The staff are helpful and friendly and quick to sort out any problems that may occur. One monkey came to sit on a seat quite close to us and watched us with as much interest as we were watching him, then he sloped off after a couple of other members of his colony and went to feed nearby. A couple of other males were grooming and playing with a baby, apparently the males spend a lot of time looking after the young ones.

Friday, July 22, 2005

A pleasant evening

Last evening was the presentation of certificates to the competition winners from the All Write Course that has been held at the city library from April to July. It was a nice evening; the two groups, Monday evening and Friday afternoon (mine) joined together with the writers and poets, who had done workshops throughout the course, and the course leader. Special guest was novelist Kate Long author of The Bad Mother’s Handbook and Swallowing Grandma. The latter is her latest novel and at the end of the evening she read a small and very funny extract from it.

Our Friday group did particularly well with the poetry and prose entries and I was very pleased to receive from Kate Long a Certificate of Highly Commended for the story I had entered. Adjudicator of all the entries was Roger Elkin (editor of Envoi magazine). He seemed to think my story a ‘romance’ and ‘sexy’. If you can call the final performance of a cellist who is dying of cancer and plans to commit suicide that evening a romance or even sexy well, okay, but I didn’t see it that way. I was pleased to have been chosen though, and so pleased for all the nice folks I've spent quite a few Friday afternoons with over the past month or so.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Of Mice and Men

I had two hours this morning in which to do the huge pile of ironing that had grown over the last few days, it having been too hot to even contemplate getting out the ironing board. I had just started the dreaded job when I heard familiar heart-sinking noises from the room above. That familiar, thud, run and growl which means one of the cats has brought a mouse into the house. I switched off the iron and ran upstairs. Usually with our female cat I can just take the mouse from her and carry it out to safety under the hedge but her brother was involved in the chase which started in the bedroom. Every time I reached out to try and pick the mouse up it scooted off. Now this was the Olympic athlete of all mice, I’ve never seen one move as quickly. It ran out of the main bedroom, ran past the study door (thank God) and into the spare bedroom. I moved just about every piece of furniture to find it and the cats had now followed and chased it out into the bathroom, after shutting all the doors and laying a towel down to stop it getting under the airing cupboard door I try to catch it but to no avail.

It heads off down the stairs, almost throwing itself down each stair with both cats and me giving chase it veers to the right and into the kitchen. I shut the lounge door and then the kitchen door. Good we have it cornered in the kitchen. It has taken up residence under the dresser, which is full of heavy crockery and china and the top is cluttered with cookery books on a rack far too heavy to move. I place a humane trap at one end and lunge under the other with a mop handle but every time the mouse approaches the trap it backs off and I have to start again. I decide to shut the door on it and the cats and leave it to its fate. I hear pounces and mews and go back in. One of the cats has the mouse cornered and I manage to throw the tea towel over it and scoop it up. I run with it to the top of the garden, let it go under the hedge, shouting run, quick run. It does. I needn’t have worried both cats were running around the dresser thinking it was still there.

Just before our meal was ready this evening there was a knock at the door. I opened it to find a man standing there.

“If you could save the world from all the greed, violence and wars there are now, would you want to?” he asks.

“Well, of course” I reply, “who wouldn’t, but that would be impossible.”

He clutches his red bible fervently “I’m afraid we are just about to eat” I try to stop him from going any further “Sorry.”

“It smells very nice” he replied very courteously “May I come back later and talk to you Mrs err…”

I tell him I prefer not to give my name.

“That’s ok” he replies “I’m Desmond.”

“Well, Desmond, thank you for calling.”

He didn’t come back.