The many and various ways I pass the time now has a new addition. Usually it involves drinking coffee whilst sitting at a computer keeping in touch with chums, or sipping wine sitting on our tiny terrace catching the sun, and wondering what else I can do to avoid any cleaning or tidying or putting away of stuff and things that aren't even MINE. And now I am going to type this blog. Provided that doesn't become a chore as well, in which case...

Saturday, 13 November 2010

My [Husband] is an hairy man

The Husband has been experimenting with his facial hair of late.  He hasn't shaved for about ten days, having heard about MOVEMBER [sic] a campaign to grow a MOustache in NoVEMBER to raise awareness of prostate cancer.  Only he is going for the full set and is attempting a beard as well.

He's had a beard once before, a good few years ago, but he removed it because of a disturbing side effect that he just couldn't tolerate. People, especially other men, started to take him seriously.  No, it was worse than that, they hung on his every word and listened with such respect it was as though he were wise man, a guru.  The beard conveyed such gravitas his every utterance was elevated to the status of holy scripture.  It freaked him out, and the beard had to go so he could be silly again.

Last time he had a beard he had luxuriant long hair, which no doubt added to the messianic quality.  These days, as his hairline has receded too much to sport a pony tail any longer, he is usually shorn to about one or two millimeters, so maybe he will grow his hair as well or else, as he just said this morning, "it will look as though I have my head on upside down".

He had a moustache in his youth.  We have a photo from that time in which, The Daughter insists, "he looks like a Belgian porn star" (how she'd know...?  Too much Eurotrash at a formative age, I am thinking)

which is probably why he's gone for the full set now

Nothing much else has been happening, apart from The Husband's increasing hirsuitism, which is why my blog hasn't appeared.  I have been crocheting again,

another cot blanket for another baby expected in the early New Year.  I am giving the first one to the mummy-to-be at her baby shower this Sunday.  It's the one nearest the camera in this picture;

A group of us are meeting up for a cream tea in a smart Cotswold hotel to make a fuss of her. This is an American import I am glad to adopt (unlike trick or treating, which baffles me - we caution small children to avoid strangers for 364 days of the year and then on the 365th we send them out into the cold dark night to bang on the doors of people we don't know.  Please explain...) as it is an all-female celebration of we women's ability to grow new human beings in our tummies, which (when it isn't thought of as an extra scene from Alien) is pretty damned clever of us.  And tea in a posh hotel is a fab idea.  Can't wait, to get all dressed up and go out and be dainty.

Just as well The Husband isn't invited.  With a ten-day's growth he probably wouldn't get across the threshold.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Black Magic on a Dark Night

The Husband fixed the lock on the driver's door of our car last night.  He started on it at half past four, just as the dusk was deepening.  He spent four hours of his precious free time hard at it, mostly outside, in the dark, with a tiny key fob torch as his only task illumination. My Hero!

Periodically he'd come in to look at the lock in decent lighting, thaw out a bit and wash his filthy oily hands, which were as black as the night he'd come in from.  Then he'd gaze into the inner workings (or should that be inner NOT workings?) and fiddle and click and snap and prod, murmuring Man Words like sprocket and flange.  Not the actual words "sprocket" or "flange", you understand.  These were other, even more esoteric, Man Words.  Which I couldn't understand or hardly even hear so can't be expected to remember.  They were Man Words for use whilst doing important Willy Jobs, like fixing car door locks, that much I do know.

Spellbindingly Magical Man Words, as it turned out, with the power to transmute base metals into Jolly Useful Things as finally, after lots of tweaking, bending and fettling of wires and little levers and other sundry mechanical bits (and a brief break to eat his dinner) he had everything back in its correct place and the lock at last worked smoothly again.  The look on the husband's face when he reached this point was a picture.  One almost expected a cartoon light bulb to switch on above his head.  A eureka moment.

At about 9.00pm he went back out to the November night and fitted the lock into place in the door. By braille, I think (I wonder if he was a safe-cracker or a jemmy man in a previous, much more nefarious, life?)

I poured him a huge glass of red and ran him a hot bath  A man who can fix broken car locks deserves a valet, even if only for half an hour.
So today I was able get in and out of the driver's seat the good old orthodox way which we usually all take for granted, via the driver's door, in a seemly elegant fashion, a bit like this

rather than the palaver of contortion I'd been obliged to do of late.  Which was

1)   open passenger door
2)   sit in passenger seat
3)   lean over to slide the driver's seat back as far as it would go
4)   swing legs over so feet are in the driver's foot well
5)   haul huge fat arse over the hand brake and into the driver's seat
6)   fume and swear quite a bit
7)   reposition car seat to taste, at preferred distance from steering wheel
8)   adjust mirrors, checking how red and sweaty face is after the exertion

All without showing one's knickers, or the certificate would have to go back to the Lucy Clayton school.

Thank you, Husband Mine.  I think he deserves another huge glass of red for that, now he's back in from earning our daily crust.  I'm away to pour a couple.  CHEERS!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

May the Good Lord deliver us...

I went leafleting for the Labour Party earlier in the week.  Whilst we were away in Wales at the weekend 200 printed sheets of A4 were delivered to the house, accompanied by a map with a handful of nearby residential streets marked out in fluorescent pink. This is not an entirely random course of events. I am a (new) member of the Labour Party and I did, in a weak moment, offer to distribute leaflets.  This was the lesser of two evils, vastly preferable to what was first asked to do, which was to stand as a councillor in the local elections next year.  EEEEK!  See my first ever blog on here for how I feel about being anyone's elected representative. A keen sense of public duty is not on Goldenlady's short list of virtues.

So, as Monday was bright and sunny, myself, The Dog and the 200 leftist leaflets set off for the area of town on the map.  The Husband and I had already folded the A4 sheets into thirds so they'd more easily go through a letter box. I am justifiably nervous about other people's letter boxes.  Having distributed charity envelopes in the past I know that the draught-excluding flaps on many of them are sprung like mantraps on an evil squire's estate.  I took the precaution of wearing leather gloves to increase my chances of returning endowed with the same number of digits I'd had when I left home.

I could see at a glance that the area I had been sent to wasn't going to house many active Labour supporters.  A good bunch of the addresses would be unlikely to have inhabitants who were very active at anything any more, being warden-assisted flats or bungalows.  As if in confirmation of this, as I struggled to open the letter box flap of one little bungalow, the door opened to reveal a somber group standing in the hallway.  Their spokeswoman told me the lady who lived there had just passed away.
I didn't offer to leave a few leaflets for them to peruse whilst they waited for the hearse, you'll be pleased to read. I thought it better to apologise for my intrusion and withdraw, tugging The Dog away forcibly. He'd got wind of the funeral baked meats, I think, and was halfway across the threshold.  Bugger.

The rest of the addresses were private properties of the "nice" type which I am pretty sure house mostly members of the 50% of our town's electorate who voted Conservative in May 2010 and helped Cameron into No 10. Every time I put a leaflet through one of the doors it felt like an exercise in futility.  The Dog didn't rate it much either.  He seemed distinctly fed up trotting in through gates, up to front doors, standing patiently while I fumbled in the bag for the next leaflet and fought to prise open the draught-excluding mechanism, only to be dragged away to do it all over again at the next house.

He obviously didn't like repeatedly being led up the garden path, and who can blame him.

I managed to do about a third of the addresses I'd be allotted in a very frustrating three-quarters of an hour.  This means that I have to go out for an hour or two at some point this week to finish the job. But I shan't take The Dog with me with this time. With a mistress on a mission he can't get a decent stop-and-sniff dog walk going, which deprives him of the vital social aspect of his exercise, reading pee-mails and catching up on all the doggy goss.

I can't explain to him why I am doing it, as it's hard enough explaining to myself. No dog would join a political party of any persuasion. They have more sense.

So do most humans...

Monday, 1 November 2010

Mirror, mirror, on the wall...

I've done some investment shopping over the weekend.  What an oxymoron THAT is, the idea of investing by spending. It's what one deludes oneself into thinking one has done when one lays out an outrageous amount of money (well, outrageous for this one...) on a couple of wardrobe items, which - the aim is - are so classic and of such high quality they will last and be still chic season after season.

The last time I did this was five years ago when I spent "money and fair words" (an expression my mother used to employ to mean she wasn't going tell us how much) on a silk tweed jacket by the Irish designers Quin & Donnelly.  It has been admired and draws comments whenever worn, whether formally with a skirt or tailored trousers or flung on above a pair of jeans.

It still feels and looks fabby, and will forever, I think, unless we do one day all start wearing plastic and aluminium like 1950s sci-fi film costumes.

This Saturday I toddled off to my favourite shoe shop in mid-Wales in search of new boots. I feel triumphant that I managed to get a pair which were full-length for the price one often pays for ankle boots.  I fact the ankle boots in the same design were only £15 less, something of an anomoly - the shoe-shopkeeper thought they maybe had been undercharged (but had more good sense than to check) and were passing the extra saving straight to the customer.  I decided forthwith to be that customer.

Much emboldened by these beautiful calf-skin boots at a price that hadn't made me faint dead away

I mentioned as I paid for them that I might need some new leggings.  The shoe-shopkeeper recommended the boutique a few doors a way.  This was all in the small Welsh market town where I have a house (for weekends, holidays and eventual retirement). I try as much as I can to support the local traders as most aren't major chains but one man/woman bands or family businesses. I ventured into the boutique in some trepidation as the things in there are fabulous but with prices so much outside my usual budget I've never so much as tried anything on before.

I asked after leggings.  What I was shown were not mere machine-knitted leggings, glorified footless tights,  like all those I'd met with before, and carried a tag to reflect this - three times the price of a pair of good leggings in, say, M&S.  But these weren't they, though, these were something else - cut, sculpted, tailored to fit with seams and darts into the waistband and made of the thickest imaginable cotton jersey (with a sprinkling of that magic word Lycra).  They were more jodhpurs than leggings, in a greyish dark brown like the gills of a mushroom.

I tried to resist, even looked at others at a less alarming price, but they kept calling me back to them.  So I slipped into a changing cubicle and tried them - the proprietress had sized me up at a glance and handed me the right ones for my - aherm - figure.  Fishing out the new boots from their box and tissue paper I pulled them up over the leggings and zipped.

The main mirror was a huge French-style looking-glass in the large changing and viewing area at the back of the shop.  I stepped in front of it to be treated to the sight of Goldenoldenlady in jodhpurs and boots like a heroine from a Jilly Cooper novel, all set off by a vast ornate gold frame  Well, slap my thigh! I thought. I almost caught sight again of my young self in my late twenties togged up ready to sing Cherubino, one of the many breeches parts that falls to mezzo-sopranos, encostumed thus:

The intervening quarter century melted away -  I was smitten.

The proprietress knew her job and her stock.  She called an assistant over to get a what she called "the waistcoat" by the same designer (Sandwich) in the same shade of brown in my size.  And a scoop-necked long-sleeved jersey dress/tunic to go under it.  I loved the dress but for an odd detail in the cut that pulled it skew-whiff.  This I could see was a deliberate act to achieve an asymmetry that is fashionable just now but it was too outlandish for me, and in any case it looked just like a dress does when a girl has inadvertently tucked the hem in her knickers.  But the waistcoat was captivating, in finely knitted fabric which draped and fell in folds with a tie belt that flatteringly fastened just below the bust where we are always our slimmest, even when (as I am now) at our most matronly.

The Proprietress was not just a shopkeeper, I was starting to realise.  She was a Seductress, and I her vulnerable prey.  And do you know what?  It didn't even hurt.

I totted up what the total would be once added to the boots I already had.  More than I'd spent on myself at one fell swoop for many, many a year.  I am out of the habit.  I do Sales and charity shops, I don't do this sort of thing.  Insofar as I have ever been able to do it, I am certainly out of practice now.

Oh, I am undone!  I cried, liked a wronged Victorian maiden.  I struggled and fought.  I protested and pleaded (all in my head, of course, as one doesn't want to be taken as too eccentric in a town where one will eventually live) but it was all for naught. I had been bewitched on a Hallowe'en weekend, and was under the spell of myself looking tall, and quite slim (for me) and very very cool.

I gradually realised why the look worked.  The shop was for my age-group and not for mutton to dress as lamb.  It was a boutique for women from 40 upwards who still wanted to cut a dash and engage in the world of fashion, once it had been muted and transmuted into garments that could be worn by a sensible lady in her later years.  I fell happily - very happily - into its marketing demographic, and with an experienced eye and honed instinct the Proprietress could see at a glace what would suit me.  It was a personal shopping service such as I hadn't experienced ever before and I loved it.

I put my card through her machine and still it didn't hurt. I added my name and local address to the mailing list and decided that after 2016, when we are retired in that town and blithely spending our grey pound, I shall be a regular client of this fabulous emporium