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...

Friday, 29 March 2013

They Have Got Me Bang To Rights...

This, from the BBC obituary for Richard Griffiths who died today after complications arising from heart surgery, had me wondering who the hell had been reading our diaries (and those of most of our friends and contemporaries), skimming through our personal journals from the 1990s, to find the perfect definition of a Withnail afficianado;

But it was in Withnail and I, starring Richard E Grant and Paul McGann as two out-of-work actors, that Griffiths appeared in the role that many will forever associate him with.  Shot on a shoestring budget and with little plot to speak of, it was largely ignored when first released in 1987 but is now regarded as a British classic.  Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs in 2006 Griffiths said it was the "auto-destructive, hedonistic indulgence and disregard for authority" in Withnail "that struck an absolute, chiming note" with fans of the film.  Griffiths recalled how they often called out to him when they recognised him in the streets: "They know the lines, the dialogue, it's all a bit scary.
Fandom is scary.  Apart from adoring Stevie Wonder and JS Bach and Kiri ti Kanawa, I try to avoid feeling like a fan if I can.  It unsettles a person, being a fan.  It isn't quite balanced.  A bit too close to adulation for my taste.

Coincidentally, I taught Richard Griffith's teenaged niece when I was on my first Teaching Practice in an Oxfordshire secondary school.  Her father, Richard's brother, had died very suddenly, of a cataclysmic heart attack when only in his forties, whilst out jogging on a family holiday in Florida.  It had hit the local and national papers because of the connection with Richard, who was getting more and more well known, and not far off the National Treasure status he enjoyed later, so I don't feel any qualms about typing this; it's already in the public realm, it isn't a confidential matter. 

Richard's brother, this girl's late father, had been an RSM in the RAF when he died.  A couple of years later, when I met her, the girl wasn't the happiest of poppets, more than a little anti-authority herself, all quite understandably, frequently surly and bolshie, quite a bit of a Withnail, in fact. She was nearly always in the middle of any turbulence in that particular GCSE group, and well on the way to an after-school detention for an accumulation of infringements of class discipline.  And she had leadership qualities.  I was a bit concerned about just where they might lead...

But one day we eventually turned a corner, she and I. 

We were acting out scenes from Chips with Everything, in her English Literature class.
With no mention of her back story I gave her the role of the RSM. 

She was fantastic; authoritative, dynamic, bloody LOUD, larger than life, and there wasn't a single snigger in the class.  Jaws dropped in awe.  She drew on her personal experiences fearlessly. And from that day, I had her onside.  I'd past her test.  I was OK.  Fair.  Acceptable.  For a teacher.

Wow! A new addition for a possible acting dynasty, should she choose to be, I thought at the time, but I left to go back to college in Oxford to finish studying for my PGCE a couple of weeks later and so don't know what became of her.

RIP Richard Griffiths.  I think your niece will be sad again today, now her dad's brother is no more.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

On My Way Off to Bed Now...

...and I don't feel good.  I don't.  I feel angry, angry, angry, with a side order of miserable, and then a big fat steamed pudding of angry, angry, angry for afters.

I am angry with and about one very specific thing, but there is absolutely NOTHING I can do about it.  It is bigger than me, it has legal aspects, with unalterable, unavoidable connotations and will have a huge and life-altering outcome, and yet there is NOTHING I can do about it.

There is no need to be at all detailed about the nature of this.  Those that need to know know.  Very many really super people, be they family, friends - even professional people trained to help - know about it and have done and still are doing their utmost to help.

But I am still angry, angry, angry, with a side order of miserable. 

And I just HAVE to express this anger.  Even if I cannot, or choose not to go into comprehensible details, I have to type this fact down, and press publish, or otherwise I am just howling in the wind.  And that is no way to feel when a person is about to go to bed.

The Husband went up over an hour ago.  I told him there was something else I wanted to watch on TV.

But really what I wanted to do was type I am angry, angry angry, with a side order of miserable, to see if that would make ANY difference. Because depression, we are told, more than a little simplistically, is anger turned inwards and I utterly refuse to be depressed.  I did nothing to start this, I will not be brought low by it.  I will NOT allow my emotions to be pathologised, not when the anger is so justified.

I shall prevail.  You bet I shall.

So I have to be - almost wordlessly - angry.  To vent just a smidgen.  So I can go to bed.  Even if it makes no sense to anyone but me, it is imperative I do this

In the morning, I'll let you know if it worked.

Gin Ricky + Fabada Asturiana

The Husband is on catering detail this afternoon.  I have nudged him in the direction of one or two (actually maybe just the one, to be utterly frank, it was a sharp nudge) possibilities.  What I am hoping he will produce is a pantry + freezer approximation of a Fabada Asturiana.

So this was, ideally, going to be made out of things we already had about the place:

We had sliced black pudding (frozen)

We had Co-op diced potatoes and red onion with chorizo (also frozen)

We had a tin of butter beans

We had a tin of cannelloni beans

We had shallots (one on steroids, he says)

We had bulbs of garlic

We had EV olive oil and water out of the tap

The above have now been combined in a casserole, stirred gently and put in a low oven.  He reckons in two hours the smell permeating the house will be irresistible, and then we will set about it.

Meanwhile he has fixed us both a large Gin Ricky, to help us pass the long wait, which was F Scott Fitzgerald's favourite drink;

Squeeze the juice of a fresh lime into a tall glass

Add a handful of ice cubes per glass

Add about twice as much gin as one had of lime juice

Top up with chilled soda water

Mmmmmm. Cheeee-aaaz!

And what has that lazy, idle, good-for-nothing Goldenoldenlady been doing meanwhile?

She has given herself a pedicure (in line with Maundy Thursday traditions, if that is not scandalously irreverent) so that the toenails are all preened and polished in preparation for the slightest rise in temperature and the re-adoption of sandals.

She has loved the dog, BIG LOTS.

She has made encouraging comments about the Fabada Asturiana.

She has finalised details with the house guests due next week.

She has typed this.

ENJOY - we shall. 

Look Into These Eyes...

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Today is The Day I Got Into the BBC News

See!  That got you!

Unlikely, but true.  I have been referred to in a BBC News Story.  This one.

Its an awfully oblique reference.  I am one of the 100,000 subjects (half of the total in this scientific trial) that had had cancer, but I'd pretty much forgotten I'd agreed to be part of it until I read the article.

It began in 2007, I think, the year after I had surgery and radiotherapy for Breast Cancer, and then embarked on five years' adjuvant therapy.  I got a letter from a research scientist at Cambridge (Hertfordshire, where were were at the time, is pretty much a next-door county, so local GPs had been asked for suitable patients) inviting me to be part of a genetic research trial. 

I filled out the medical and family questionnaire (which greatly served to underpin the disquietingly large number people I am closely related to who have had cancers of various types - all of them, before the late C20th, quickly fatal) and then a few weeks later I got a phial and attendant paperwork to take with me to have a blood test, which I did. Then it was posted off, and I forgot about it, pretty much, but for a letter thanking me for my help a few months down the line.

Since then I have passed the five-year mark still alive (delightedly) and with no detectable tumours lurking anywhere (reassuringly) and have been discharged.  Later this year it will be seven years since diagnosis.  Most days I don't give the matter a single thought, although I self-examine a couple of times a month, to keep my hand in, as it were.  Breast Cancer is technically only ever in remission, not cured. It's just one of those things.

I hope YOU check those puppies as well, girls AND boys.  And also please learn the symptom checklist (below) off by heart...

But today I am remembering very clearly and gratefully the facts of the case.  In 2006, aged 49, I had a malignancy. I detected the changes, saw a GP, was carefully examined, and referred to a specialist.  I was scanned and x-rayed and tested, diagnosed, treated and kept a careful eye on for five years.  I met a superb NHS team of surgeons, anaesthetists, oncologists, doctors, radiologist, radiotherapists, and breast care nurses. 

Thank you St Albans Breast Care Clinic!  You were all stars.

So today I am glad to have been reminded of what turned out to be a surprisingly happy time.  Once the initial anxieties were assuaged and the treatment embarked upon I - we, the entire family - had a lot of fun. Staff were friendly and jokey, with an enviable lightness of touch alongside always commendable levels of compassion (what WAS that guff about nurses needing compassion training on Newsnight last night?  NHS managers need six months as nursing auxiliaries on the wards before they can embark on training or are put in post, not the nurses!  Pah!  A bed-pan-emptying Health Minister, as was even suggested might happen by the very man himself, that I DO want to see.  I'd pay good money for a ticket to that).

I gave a bit back, and today I found out what it was all about.  I was also part of a trial of new surgical and diagnostic techniques, all to do with testing the efficacy of sentinel node biopsies, as well, whilst I was having the surgery.  I was happy to volunteer for that as well.

Happy, happy, HAPPY to do so.
  • Swelling in or around the breast.
  • Irritation of the skin or dimpling.
  • Pain in the breast or nipple area.
  • Changes in the appearance of the nipple or surrounding skin.
  • Discharge from the nipple, not associated with breast milk.
  • Lump in the underarm area.

PS, now Sky has got hold of it, like Topsy it has growed; the sample was 250,000, they say  But I was still part of it.  I did my bit....

Sunday, 24 March 2013

When a Girl Can't Garden...

...she buys plants and flowering bulbs in pots, and culinary herbs too.  She picks up salad leaves in trays, and clutters up the entire length of the kitchen window sill with them.

Being somewhat desperate for fresh sprouting vivid green this has certainly happened chez Goldenoldenlady.  We have some shoots and unfurling buds in the garden, both front and back, but they have gone into a sort of suspended animation crossed with arrested development, and now they are mostly smothered in soft snow.  Our tete-a-tetes are bravely continuing to flower, as the narcissus family is pre-adapted to cope with winter in spring, but we are more concerned for the breaking buds on shrubs, which may give up the will to live entirely if this carries on.

We have lost some of our more tender flowering shrubs in previous winters, but at least so far we have had the good sense not to replace like with like, as though we had made a horticultural insurance claim.  That NW corner where we put them not long after buying the house in 2000 is too exposed to keen winds to attempt another ceanothus. At least, not until we finally get the wall re-built and made higher along that side of the front garden, to offer new plants some shelter. 

We have "engaged the services" of a semi-retired builder who made such a thorough-going good job of it last summer when our next-door neighbour had a similar wall built, but he is a mysterious and evasive entity, this builder.  He seems to have a land line number that never picks up, nor are beseeching messages requesting call backs responded to, so we are now guessing he is much more retired than semi. 

Hemi-demi-semi-retired, maybe.

But we have recently met him in the street and he didn't duck into a shop and hide, so he has assured us he will get weaving when the weather improves, and pop round soon to collect the deposit and the advance to buy the materials. 

It may happen in May.  June is another possibility.  April, I suspect, is not.

Once that wall is up it will be load-bearing with deep foundations.  The NW corner will be masked off from the thin penetrating winter winds it catches and the newly-levelled beds in front of it (the land slopes quite a bit, away from the sun, sadly, so has been mostly lawn until now) will become SE-facing, so we can see if another ceanothus will enjoy a warm sunny wall at its back and stick around a bit longer than the last one.

I'll get some extra rosemary in there as well. And one or two other perennials with small scented flowers in the white-blue-mauve end of the spectrum, for the bees.  I read years ago that if you plant blue and violet plants farthest away from the house and the hotter colours like red, orange, yellow and pink nearby, it has a cunning effect of enlarging the garden to the eye. A trompe l'oeil imitating how the upper parts of the light spectrum decay over distance.  We did it back in Herts and it seemed to work, so we will reproduce the effect here.

However, I don't expect anything remotely like gardening will be done until well after Easter.  Last year we would have cut the lawns at least once by now.  It was dry, warm & sunny.  It's so hard to type those three words without choking back a stifled sob.  I need warmth outside!  I cannot be alone in that.  Please can our south-facing suntrap of a back garden live up to its name any day soon, pretty please?  What chance of that do you reckon?  Remote-to-slim, we are guessing.

So, if a girl can't garden, I suppose she could type about gardening.  And in the process a bit of a re-landscaping and re-stocking plan is forming in my poor sun-starved, serototin-depleted brain. 

It's a start.
And as the Husband says, PPPPPP.  Previous Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.  Time spent thinking counts as gardening as well.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Once more with Passion

Just realised it's Palm Sunday tomorrow. Don't know where my sense of time has disappeared to since BB retired. Weekdays, weekends, months, they all feel a bit nebulous and tenuously connected to us now.

I am not religiously observant, in fact, I am contentedly atheist, with humanist leanings and a protestant upbringing, but I am deeply attached to really serious liturgical music
, as it's about the best stuff on earth to sing, in my view. So, even if you listen to nothing else like it this Holy Week can I suggest you put five minutes by to try this out for size.

Monochrome mid-Wales

It started to snow here yesterday as dusk fell and the darkness deepened, so that the temperature dropped just the one or two degrees needed to switch day-long rain to sleet and then sloppy snow.  We pulled the curtains and ignored it, concentrating more on ourselves, our dinners, our pets and the TV than what was going on outside the windows. 

The Dog loves TV as well.  I have mentioned that before, on here.  Some dogs just don't "see" TV apparently, or perhaps they ignore it as it doesn't smell, but ours has always been fascinated by it.  If we are on a commercial channel he is particularly thrilled, as he adores the ads.  They are that bit louder, so the change in volume alerts him, he rouses himself from his doze and stares avidly at the screen, as SO many ads have animals in them.  Here he is on the qui vive waiting to see what fetches up in the ad break by way of threat or prey

Yes, I know that looks like a bleached-out variant of the blue screen of death, but it's just what turned up on the camera during the exposure.  I don't like using flash.  Earlier in the evening we had lost our TV signal for a short while, which is what happens if you retire to the hilly green loveliness at the slap-bang centre of Wales.  If your nearest transmitter or signal booster loses power you've had it, as telly can't seem to see round corners past the lumps and bumps to the next one.  Or something la la like that.

We'd had a half-hearted half inch of white when the Dog stepped out into the garden to ablute and go grrrr just before we all retired to the night.  Just eight hours later we awoke to this

which is the totally natural untouched black and white view we had at 7.30am from the study window.  A few dozen miles to the North East of us are Mold and Wrexham, the twin foci of yesterday's oval of intense snow in Wales, where they had an all-day white-out.  Ten inches fell - with drifting.  Calamitous travel conditions were created.  The day-time shift of the various emergency services must have been exhausted when they finally clocked off from digging out or towing vehicles, closing roads and generally coming to the rescue, of commuters especially.

But today is Saturday, praise be to the working calendar!  In our neck of the woods, no-one is stirring except on foot.  Cars are still where they were parked last night, transmuted into smooth white mounds like jelly moulds, and a soothing muffled quality has descended on the backing track of daily life.

The football supporters of Wrexham have a journey to Wembly to make tomorrow.  I am keen that the snowplough train can lead the way to get them there, but here and now, Goldenoldenlady is going nowhere.  The Husband is creaking the upstairs floorboards doing something hobbity and husbandish, but I cannot be troubled to enquire further.  The Dog is having forty winks before he settles down to some concentrated snoozing to be followed by a half-hour's shut-eye.  There is still coffee in the pot, food in the fridge and larder, wine on the rack.  If we want to be "snowed-in" we can be.

I do hope no-one else feels under an pressure to go far, by motor, today.  Is someone in labour, or respitory distress, or pumping arterial blood on the bedroom carpet ?  No?  Then stop where you are and enjoy the snowiest late March weekend for decades.  It'll be worth it.  Like times long past.  In the 1960s - the decade of my childhood growing up in an old stone weaver's house on a Lancashire hillside - March and even April snow could and did descend quite often.  It was the norm, almost, so this is very nostalgic spring weather for me.  I intend not to resent it, or at the very least not today.

Friday, 22 March 2013


Something extraordinary has happened to my stats.  I check these about once a week, as a rule of thumb.  I don't type very frequently as Real Life has a habit of taking over, dragging me away from the laptop most of the time, so I usually don't have very much to wonder at when I see them, apart from what on earth does anyone make of it if they land on my blog, say, from The People's Republic of China. I always assume most hits are a result of bored flicking.  My main readers, such as they are, follow my link from FB and comment under that on my timeline, to avoid squiggle-squinting.  They are mostly chums I don't see much of, who have moved to live abroad, etc. I rarely have a comment from a total stranger.  Delighted when I do, though!

But since the brouhaha erupted on Budget Day, which I mentioned on 21 March, I have had an unusual upward jag in my graph.  I am sure it will simmer down when my new-found notoriety (or whatever it is that has occasioned the surge in interest Blogger has detected) has bubbled out of people's bonces and been replaced with, oh, I don't know, whatever will bother them next.  Nine days, doesn't it take, usually?  Nine hours in the C21st, probably.

Meanwhile, I find it a little saddening that the certain-to-be-brief increase in interest in me here on Blogger is most probably because a bunch of people have taken against me, or at least against who they THINK I may be.  A rowdy rabble seems to have attracted a minor mob of curious onlookers.  Perhaps they think they heard a car crash. They are a strangely silent mob. Comments don't follow whatever reading has been done, not even abusive ones, from any quarters I don't recognise. Maybe I am doing the new clickers a disservice in assuming they are just over here to glower wordlessly at me, arms crossed.  They might be intrigued, for micro-second.  But the attention span of an average half-attentive Internet user with the other eye on the telly isn't known for its solid and lasting spirit of enquiry. 

I know mine isn't.  Unless it's a film on YouTube of Verdi's Reqiem conducted by von Karajan, just possibly.  That is properly spell-binding.

Ah, well, it'll pass. Looking forward to the middle of next week and the resumption of the calm unfussy flat lining I usually enjoy; Blogger death for some, an enticing wide blue horizon for me.

Empathy Exhaustion

A lot has been written since the dizzy days of Live Aid about compassion fatigue taking over and shutting down the social instinct to help suffering humanity, so that appeals on TV or hard-hitting documentaries get switched off and entertainment tuned in instead, the hand stays out of the pocket, the cheque book stays in the handbag or briefcase and the donating text is not typed and sent.

I have realised of late I have hit a wall of what I am now deciding to call empathy exhaustion.  As I remarked at length yesterday this has abruptly burst onto the scene in my life, or maybe more accurately has been discovered at the end of a track on my mental map.  I have grown tired of self-revelatory blogging, if not for good, then at the very least for now.  I have gone a long way down a no-through road, and have no choice but to do three-point turn in the dust (or more accurately, today, axle-deep mud) and re-trace my route back to civilisation.

I say civilisation because I do think it is uncivil to crave or expect an empathic audience to a self-revelatory blog and be unable, unwilling or too busy to reciprocate a bit, or at the very least THANK the readers who leave comments for their interest, support and time. 

What are genuine empathic skills, and does everyone have them or indeed even need them?  This is an article off one of my favourite websites, which is called LifeSquared, with a logo that is built around Life2 (ie Life to the power of two).  It has a list of pointers to practices, actions and activities which highly empathic people seem have in common.  I guess one central practice is some sort of self-protection.  Not allowing oneself to be drained. 

And that is the one I need to do first.  Then I will see how many others I can (re)adopt.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Artificial Intimacy of The Internet

I have just had a clean-out of my FB page and removed three people from it whom I have never actually met in real life.  The thing was, in the case of one of them in particular, the lady in question often updates and especially blogs in such a (to me at least) uninhibited self-revelatory manner at times it is very easy to think one actually knows her. 

In a way one does, as I have followed her blog for a couple of years, and in that time I have been offered insights into the way her mind works, her insecurities, her foibles, the emotional events of her existence, and her deepest thoughts and opinions on an awful lot of topics, FAR more material than I have discovered about the innermost workings of my nearest dearest friends, sisters and other intimates in that time. 

But now I have grown to wonder why anyone would let a complete stranger know this stuff, and not even a stranger on a train with no names, no packdrill.  It isn't even an anonymous blog and she is somewhat in the public eye.  It perplexes me.

It is an extremely artificial intimacy, especially as there is now little or no attempt to reciprocate, or thank, by acknwledging comments.  Her regular followers regard her writing " brave and honest", maybe because they are quieter and more inhibited themselves, so that's how it comes across to them.  I am not at all sure it works for me any longer, as I am often not quiet and inhibited, I have a few ideas of my own.  She also uses Twitter, which I avoid, she is on it a lot, is very busy on FB and is a professional writer, so she must be pounding her various keyboards for as many if not more hours a day than most people work and then talk to their partners or kids or parents of an evening. 

She lives and works alone, a fact that she emphasises.  I don't know if her choice of a solitary life has a bearing.  If she had a comfortable accepting outlet at home, or with one particular close friend (or maybe even a professional counsellor for a while), maybe the keen emotional need to express so much through the often quite dangerous medium of the Internet would not exist.

But I am pretty sure she doesn't talk to her Nearest and Dearest every day like she blogs as they would have attempted to change the subject at least once per conversation, the reciprocity of real relationships being what it is, but of course with blogging there is never any need to do that.  How is it possible to write SO much about one's ponderings, emotions and experiences, every day almost, without appearing unhealthily self-absorbed or fixated to at least some people? 

When I was a gobby too-clever-for-my-own good adolescent my father once took me to one side and had a quiet word with me.  He was generally a man of few words, so what he said has stuck.  He said "Beware starting too many sentences with the word I.  All the time you are talking about yourself you are preventing someone from talking about themselves, and if you make a real habit of it you will upset or bore a lot of people in your life and probably not make many friends."

So there we are.  I have decided that Internet relationships where the "interlocutor" is on transmit all the time, and these days rarely acknowledges comments left on her blog annoys me.  I am not a mere audience member.  I am a person, too.  I have not been put on this earth just to support and flatter and gush "How true!" or say I have been reduced to tears by the pathos of her writing.  Would this person stand in the middle of her village on market day with a megaphone and read out what she has written on her blog?  I sincerely doubt it.  No, I know she would not.  She'd be arrested.  She wouldn't even ring her oldest chum and read it down the phone to him or her. Because she wouldn't presume on the friendship to that extent

I have done a bit of Internet research on blogging and self-disclosure and found much of interest, especially in the article in that link.  And then darn me if I didn't spot this on Yahoo! this very morning.  Followed by this on the perils and pitfalls of blogging.

I have recently suggested the lady keep a journal instead of typing and hitting post when she is most upset and feeling vulnerable, and missing her dear departeds most keenly.  I have even mentioned bereavement counselling as a short-term possibility.  I got shot down in flames by her devoted fans,  I am now persona non grata in that little blogger community, I have since discovered, although the authoress herself has not yet reacted in type, interestingly.

I guess I will not be missed if I stop commenting, especially as anything that is said that is construed as in any way unfavourable or questioning has some followers dipping their pens in vitriol.  I will continue to read, maybe not every day, but I shan't ever comment.  If I cannot "be myself" why am I supporting her right to "be herself"?  Who decreed this type of Internet writing/reading has either to be a jolly parade full of resounding cheers or can only be a one-way street? 

Not me, for sure, I have discovered this week!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The Birthday Boy


Aged five weeks, my second visit to him in his birth home. 
We brought him home when he was eight weeks old

It's The Dog's birthday tomorrow.  He will be eleven and - as this is the average age for the breed according to most authorities out there - I guess this means officially that we are now entering The Bonus Years.

He was born on St Patrick's Day 2002 in Waltham Forest, which makes him an Essex Boy.  Like the Essex Boys of the 1980s he wears white socks, but since he is a Westie (West Highland White Terrier) you'd have to be in the know to notice that as he is white all over.  His hair is white, that is.  His eyes, eyelids, nose, lips and paw pads, even his claws, are all black.  This gives him very noticeable facial features, and he doesn't have a tremendously long nose so his features are quite open, wide-eyed and forward-facing. He also has ears that are always up, unless he is frightened, ill or been A Very Naughty Boy.  This all combines to make him look like a very bright, alert and interested-in-everything little dog, which is good, because he is.

He is a senior dog now, without a doubt.  He snoozes more, he grumbles and chunners more, and he is even more markedly territorial.  However many times we tell him not to he will always woof, ggggrrrr and bark through the hedge or the side gate whenever he is in the back garden.  In the summer our garden is a No Fly Zone.  Anything with wings that flits over or through is objected to strenuously.  If we are in the garden with him we can get him to shush.  If he is out there on his own he forgets our imprecations and makes his feelings known, so, for the sake of the neighbours, he is brought back in and admonished.

He sleeps on the bed with us, between us usually or sometimes curled around the head of one or the other of us, or at our feet, like the best-loved hunting dog of a mediaeval knight.  If we had a burglar he'd tell us, for sure.  But so far we are fortunate in that respect, so we slumber on, "piles and heaps of pups and peeps" as we like to refer to our bedtimes. I have never been happier in my entire life than that makes me.

 Addendum; Birthday Portrait with His Male Human

He's a Beta male.  With occasional Alpha urges.  With other dogs he is now usually the more dominant and respected figure, but with us he is third in the pack and we endeavour NOT to let him promote himself, as this makes dogs fretful and anxious, feeling they have to be responsible for things.  His only job is to have a good life with his family.

We cannot know how long this happy state of affairs will continue.  I have read that Westies can retain their puppyish zest for life, for at least some of the day, well into their teens.  But then they suddenly fade and age rapidly in the last few months of their lives.  This is an outcome devoutly to be wished.  I wouldn't mind it for myself, either!

Happy birthday, Edgar Paddy Filthy McNasty.  This weekend I have decided to break the usual blogging anonymity and give you the credit and identity of your full KC-registered name.  We chose all those names, they have nothing to do with the lineage of his sire or dam.  We chose them to be amusing and characterful, as befits a little dog who is both those things to his very core

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Bonus Post from a Japanese Doctor

This a straight lift from something going the rounds on Facebook at present.  I am afraid I cannot give credit where is credit is due to the original author(s), as there is no attribution.  Sorry.

Q: Doctor, I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?
A: Heart only good for so many beats, and that it... don't waste on exercise. Everything wear out eventually. Speeding up heart not make you live longer; it like saying you extend life of car by driving faster. Want to live longer? Take nap.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?
A: Oh no. Wine made from fruit. Fruit very good. Brandy distilled wine, that mean they take water out of fruity bit so you get even more of goodness that way. Beer also made of grain. Grain good too. Bottom up!

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can't think of one, sorry. My philosophy: No pain...good!

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?
A: YOU NOT LISTENING! Food fried in vegetable oil. How getting more vegetable be bad?

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A: You crazy?!? HEL-LO-O!! Cocoa bean! Another vegetable! It best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: If swimming good for figure, explain whale to me.

Q: Is getting in shape important for my lifestyle?
A: Hey! 'Round' is shape!

Well... I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.


For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits.
2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits.
3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits.
4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits.
5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits.

CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

Mothering Sundays Past (and Presents!)

Flowers 2012

Somewhere in a box or case filled with my paraphernalia and memorabilia is my very first Mother's Day card from The Daughter, received in March 1981, the self-same month she was born.  If I could be bothered to get this laptop off my knee and my spreading bum off this comfy sofa, I could probably lay my hand to it within a quarter or a half an hour.  But I am settled here, so I am relying on memory instead.  I do know that my infant child was a mere fortnight or so old when I received it, so I suspect an outside agency was a work.  In fact I know my mother bought it and inscribed therein "on behalf of H------ L----", her two almost brand-new Christian names.

Now, thirty-two years later, she sends her own card, (this year it is early and on the mantelpiece already) and most years she can be relied upon to get it here in time.  Last year it lay in her handbag unnoticed for a few days, and that oversight plus a second-class stamp meant it was several days late.  When I meeped and chizzed that I'd had nothing on the day (The Daughter is my/our only child, The Husband's first marriage was childless) except from The Dog, courtesy of The Husband, she ordered a bouquet via Interflora which arrived on the Monday morning, as a consolation prize surprise.

I set a bit of store by Mothering Sunday, as you can no doubt guess.  The thing is, all my best beloveds have birthdays in March (The Daughter's is 12 March, The Dog's is 17 March and the Husband's is 21 March) so it is quite an expensive month for me.  A spot of Mother's Day indulgence in return goes a little way to redressing the balance...! 

I have just noticed that the five-day UK weather forecast predicts a chance of snow in quite a lot of areas on Sunday.  If it does come down, stick and settle, then that might mess up a few families' plans to celebrate.  Heavy snow in March is not unheard of in the UK, and when I was growing up on the Lancashire moors one of the heaviest and most sudden and disruptive falls I can recall happened well into April.

So here is a general greeting to mothers everywhere in the UK (I do realise in the USA your mothers get their day later in the year) to say I hope your card etc arrives by Saturday and you make it out to the celebratory lunch without mishap, or - if they are coming to you - your guests arrive on time and unflustered by wintry showers.

Myself, I will be marvelling at The Dog's ability to shop for and prepare breakfast in bed on a tray, which The Husband tells me he is very conscientious about remembering to do for me, year-in year-out.  Smart pooch, eh?

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Delicious and Desirable Uneventfulness

Of course, this isn't us, or BS & DH, but a dear old couple who look like they may have 
achieved their Diamond Wedding Anniversary.  Photo courtesy of Google pictures

I'd like to introduce you to a poem.

Getting on for ten years ago I read this out as part of the Bride's Speech (of course there was a bride's speech, in these days of equality!) at our wedding reception when I married The Husband.  It was a grand day, joyful and special from beginning to end, but a particular highlight was the fact that Big Sis (aka Perpetua of Perpetually in Transit, her blog on here) officiated in the beautiful mid-Wales church where she was at the time the vicar.  Her DH asked for a copy when he heard it as he was so taken with the sentiments therein expressed.  I am pretty sure I e-mailed him the text, but I would like to reacquaint the two of them, Big Sis and her DH, with the words as they approach their 45th wedding anniversary in April this uear.

Being Boring

If you ask me 'What's new?', I have nothing to say
Except that the garden is growing.
I had a slight cold but it's better today.
I'm content with the way things are going.
Yes, he is the same as he usually is,
Still eating and sleeping and snoring.
I get on with my work. He gets on with his.
I know this is all very boring.

There was drama enough in my turbulent past:
Tears and passion-I've used up a tankful.
No news is good news, and long may it last,
If nothing much happens, I'm thankful.
A happier cabbage you never did see,
My vegetable spirits are soaring.
If you're after excitement, steer well clear of me.
I want to go on being boring.

I don't go to parties. Well, what are they for,
If you don't need to find a new lover?
You drink and you listen and drink a bit more
And you take the next day to recover.
Someone to stay home with was all my desire
And, now that I've found a safe mooring,
I've just one ambition in life: I aspire
To go on and on being boring.
Wendy Cope