Thursday, September 22, 2005

Who would Like

It’s the time of year again when various organizations send out their ‘gift’ catalogues. I don’t want, as it is still only September and I don’t like to even think about it until after bonfire night, to mention the dreaded C word yet, but this is what their catalogues are aimed at. We receive several of these catalogues each year mainly from the charities we have supported in the past like the PDSA and Cats Protection. We also receive the glossy and useful ones from Lakeland (there is no way on earth I can walk past a Lakeland shop and not go in) and Scotts of Stow because we’ve bought from them before. This week though, heralded the arrival of my two absolute favourites.

First up is The Cat Gallery catalogue from that super shop in York which we have to visit whenever we go there. Secondly, my ultimate favourite, I think, is the RSC one full of all things Shakespeare. Nestled in its pages alongside the usual mugs, coasters and T- shirts are wondrous items like a pop-up Globe theatre book (with play books and press out characters) and little wooden dolls you can dress up (clothes included), leather bound notebooks and embroidered cushions. The trouble is that these two publications can make you very selfishly order things for yourself, completely forgetting about the seasonal spirit of giving. Last year I ordered my ‘Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble’ tea towel – complete with lovely cackling witches, the year before my ‘He hath eaten me out of house and home’ apron decorated with self satisfied cat and fish bones, both, sadly, no longer available in the 2006 catalogue, but still much used and loved around here. Also, decorating our fridge are two magnets bearing the quotations ‘Where is the life that late I led?’ and ‘Would I were in an alehouse in London’ – indeed! Hmm, I wonder who would like a pop-up Globe theatre this year?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Random Conversation

On the building and placing in situ of a new bird table

Him ‘Is it level?’

Me ‘It’s leaning slightly’

Him (after adjusting) ‘How’s, that?’

Me ‘No, up a bit, on the left side’

Him (after more adjusting) ‘That better?’

Me ‘No, it’s still not level’

Him ‘I’ll fetch a spirit level’

Me ‘OK’

Him ‘The spirit level says it’s level’

Me ‘And I say it’s not’

Him ‘Well, it is level’

Me ‘Not from here, it isn’t’

Him ‘It is level, it says it’s level’

Much later, as he gazes from the conservatory window

‘That bird table isn’t level, is it?


Moral of the day: Don’t have a navy blue carpet fitted if you have a cat that has more than a whisker of white fur – you know it makes sense.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Weepy Films

A friend and I were recently having a good old ‘chin-wag’ about things that upset or moved us in an emotional way. After covering recent news events we moved on to films and had a memory fest of ‘those that had moved us to tears of either sorrow or happiness.
One of my other friends says that he cannot watch a film that doesn’t have a happy ending. I’m not quite as bad as that I really enjoyed the film ‘ThisYear’s Love’ but he didn’t because of the ending and I felt bad for recommending it to him. Ditto ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’, I can start weeping from the first moments, without producing quite so much mucus as Juliet Stevenson, but it does have a ‘bitter sweet’ ending. I always sniff a bit at the end of ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ too. Old films invariably bring on the waterworks, ‘Mrs Miniver’, ‘Mr Blandings Builds his Dream House’ and ‘Brief Encounter’ to name just a few. Who can forget that heart wrenching moment in ‘The Railway Children’ when Jenny Agutter runs down the steam swathed station platform crying ‘Daddy, my Daddy’ or when Ingrid Bergman as Gladys Aylward leads the Chinese children into town singing ‘This Old Man’ – hankies out at the ready.

I find sometimes though, that I care about the animals even more that the people in films, is this wrong of me? Does this sound like some defect in my character? Whilst watching ‘The Shooting Party’ I only cared that the boy’s pet duck should escape the guns, blow the gamekeeper breathing his last on the forest floor. I was so upset in ‘Cold Mountain’ when the old woman slit the throat of her favourite goat to feed Jude Law’s hungry soldier. I was upset at the end too, who wouldn’t be, but – oh, that goat! I could never watch ‘Ring of Bright Water’ again, and why did they save that spade incident until near the end? Even ‘pretend’ characters can get to me. In particular, I always weep when ET’s heart starts up again when the little boy cries over him and don’t get me started on the Tiny Tim scene at the end of ‘The Muppet’s Christmas Carol.’

The last film I saw moved me deeply, I hit the highs and lows and highs again. ‘A Very Long Engagement’ is a wonderful film. We bought it for R for his birthday (he’d loved Amelie) and assured him that he would like it and that, yes, it did have a happy ending, well a resolved ending anyway. He rang a few days later to say what a wonderful film it was. It is too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Spider Time

This is the time of year I dread, the time of year when I have to creep steadily round the garden, sweeping brush in hand, ready to cut swathes through the cobwebs that overnight, drape themselves decorously across paths from one bush to the other, or from the greenhouse to the willow tree by the pond, or from the shed to the plum tree thus preventing access to the compost heap. In the early morning sunlight you can’t see them, so the brush has to go before me, I’m afraid. I really don’t like to hurt anything that moves and sincerely hope the spiders soon find alternative accommodation.

If they stay out of my way, I can just about cope with spiders in the garden although weeding the heather patch is a nightmare as I have to make sure I’m fully covered incase a spider should run up my leg or something. I have trousers, tucked into socks and then wellies, gloves on my hands, hat on my head but still I feel uneasy. If they come into my patch- the house that is - then that is quite a different story. I have a ‘spider catcher’ handy (a children’s plastic bug pot going cheap in Woolies) and if I really want to frighten myself I look through the little magnifying spot on the lid when I’ve caught one - Eeek!!! Well, I’m usually quite good at catching them and putting them outside but some spiders are, I’m afraid, too large to even contemplate going anywhere near.

I remember when we first moved over to this part of the country we rented accommodation for about eighteen months in a village close to Market Drayton. The property was surrounded by very large fir trees and this seemed (it may have been my lurid imagination) to encourage spiders. We used to get huge ones in the house, especially in the bathroom which, you have to agree is, along with the bedroom, the worst place for large spiders to run loose because here you are more likely to be walking around barefoot. I saw one once, when I was in the bath, run across the floor – I swear I could hear the patter of its feet – and it was heading straight for my slippers. Now, because of the spider, and given that we have cats, the mouse problem, I wear flip flops around the house thus giving the varmints no place to hide.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Doctor, Doctor

This morning I finally had to give in and take myself down to the open surgery. If you get there by 8a.m. you can see a Doctor but it has to be the one next available and not the one of your choice. Okay, I’d had this problem with my left ear for a while and now my throat and all my glands were joining in so something had to be done. What is it about Monday mornings and illness though? The surgery was absolutely packed, though not as packed as it had been when I once had to see the Doctor on the Tuesday after Easter and the queues were out of the door, the waiting room packed and I had to wait for over two hours, half of it sitting on the floor leaning against the fireplace, anyway, today I waited just and hour and fifteen minutes* and luckily I’d taken my book to read so the time passed quite quickly. My main worry was that there were four of the five Doctor’s on duty and one of them I don’t really like very much, I don’t know why, but I find him very arrogant although he did act very quickly when I visited him a couple of years ago with an ulcer in my eye, I was up at the hospital eye clinic within two hours so I can’t fault him on that, but when I’m feeling low, I find him difficult to deal with. Well you’ve probably guessed the outcome of this, when my turn came it was his voice that rang out over the intercom system and I went along the corridor with my heart in my mouth. There he sat this ‘bête noir’ of mine, I hadn’t seen him for two years and he had changed so much, he seemed smaller, rounder and was completely bald. Suddenly, I wasn’t afraid of him anymore.

*This may seem like moaning, I'm not really, we are so lucky to be able to see a Doctor on the day we want to, I know some people have great difficulties getting appointments when they need them.