Friday, August 25, 2006


I tried to add this to the picture of the shredded tickets, but it wouldn't work. So here goes - two blogs within two minutes. I should go to bed. It's after 1 am.

Another slightly mad tale about my generally quite sensible family.

Our son is a medical student and this week he’s been in Kirkcaldy, a town a bit north of here, living in at the hospital and having to get up at 6 am.

Yesterday at quarter to six in the evening he phoned me, sounding really terrible – groggy and worried.

He: Mum, can I ask you something?
Me: Yes. Are you ok?
He: No. What time is it?
Me: Quarter to six.
He: In the afternoon?
Me: Yes.
He: Oh no! I’ve slept for 24 hours and I’ve missed a whole day! I was supposed to meet my tutor this morning and….
Me: Oh dear. Are you ok, though?
He: I’ve got to go!

I then started worrying. How could that have happened? Had he got drunk the night before? (not that he ever has got drunk). Had a stroke? Gone into a diabetic coma?

One minute later the phone rang again.

He: It’s me again.
Me: Yes. Are you ok?
He: What day is it?
Me: Wednesday.
He: Not Thursday?
Me: No.
He: Oh, thank goodness. That means I only slept for 45 minutes!

He had come back from the hospital at 5, fallen asleep on the bed, woken up, seen it was 5.45, assumed it was the next morning, then looked outside and realised that it didn’t look like the morning, so assumed it was the next afternoon.

After the second phone call, he cheered up and decided to have his dinner.

Illustration to "Jigsaws in the morning" blog

I tried to add these pictures to the blog about my daughter and her shredded tickets - she took photos to amuse her friends in emails - but couldn't persuade Blogger to co-operate. Here they are, anyway. As you can see, we didn't get them quite perfect, but it wasn't bad work for 22 minutes, we felt.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Just for a change, here are a couple of photos of my sitting room. You can see that my beloved garden is really quite small, with the back wall at an angle to the back of the house. Nonetheless, I love the outlook from the sitting room windows. (The sofas and rug aren't actually such a bright blue as they look here.)

On another topic (though still window-related) I am very fond of my son-in-law. He suffers from depression sometimes, but when he's okay, he’s really good fun, very jolly and a generally lovely chap. And very very clever.

But he does like a bargain. This is an understatement.

He and Daughter 1 have recently moved into their own house. They’ve been furnishing it courtesy of Ikea, and have bought so much that they were awarded a £30-off voucher, to be redeemed by the end of August. At that point they had just bought two (more) bookcases – they have an enormous number of books, mainly Daughter 1’s – and couldn’t think of anything else that they needed immediately.

SIL therefore produced the idea of taking the most recent acquisition – one of the bookcases – back to Ikea and then buying it again, using the £30 voucher. We all derided this idea, suggesting that they just buy some sheets or something. We then forgot all about it.

Then today he phoned to ask if they could borrow our car (they don’t have one) to go to Ikea. That was fine. He duly came round and departed in the car. Some time later came another phone call. They had managed to crack the windscreen.

Yes, that’s right. He had decided to follow through with his cunning plan of taking the bookcase back and then buying a bookcase with the voucher. So, outside their house, they’d loaded it into the car and – well, into the windscreen.

Luckily our insurance company will pay for the repair, apart from the £60 excess.

So in the bid to save £30….

There’s very very clever and there’s sensible, and these are not always precisely the same thing, are they? Though of course, it's good to be thrifty, and thrift is the reason why they managed to buy themselves a house to fill with books.

I’d like to point out that he’s not Scottish, but English – just in case anyone was musing on the thrifty--Scot stereotype.

Ah well. I still love him.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The deserted garden

Well, this is the garden, and where do I have to spend my days? In a rather dark office, proofreading correspondence courses, answering the phone, marking work that's been sent in, doing various bits of paperwork, and preparing for classes. And the garden once more belongs to the birds.

And also, potentially, to Daughter 2, finishing off her architecture project, and her aspiring actor boyfriend, who's keeping her company and sending his details off to theatre companies and agents.

Ah well.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Clematis and hand

Well, pride comes before a fall: Gina tells me that she and her husband ripped out lots of agapanthuses in their garden because they grow like weeds in Australia. Hmm.

I talk to mine daily; water it; get excited at its every bud; point it out to every passer-by as if I’d given birth to it; practically take it to bed with me.

Truly things are very various in this world.

Actually, I have noticed before that on “Neighbours”, which I’m ashamed to say that I watch while making the evening meal, there are lots of agapanthuses in the gardens. But I didn’t realise that this reflected the true Australia, since if this were so, I would also have to believe that Australian houses have only one room (called, intriguingly, “the lounge room”), that all their windows have sort of tropical jungles immediately outside them, and that Australians’ lives are packed with near-death experiences and affairs with the (beautiful) folk next door.

Above you will see a clematis. I like it, too, though I never realised that I had a wrinkly wrist. How disturbing.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


The holiday went very well, thank you Els. It was quite energetic – all that tennis and badminton (once a day each), though I wouldn’t want you to get the idea that we’re a sporty family. Quite the reverse – we’re all very bad at these games – but we have fun hurling ourselves around, swiping madly and laughing hysterically. Also we walked quite a lot and danced (at the Hydro) some evenings and so on.

It was great being with the whole family (except my poor boy – see two blogs ago) and it was especially nice for my 84-year-old, but still slim and glamorous, mum to have all the kids around (except my son). My brother and sister-in-law were there too, with my niece (22) and nephew (17), and all the young ones get on very well, as if they were all siblings.

The only fly in the ointment was my dad. (Gosh, I hope none of my kids ever think of me with that particular metaphor.) He’s always been choleric and unreasonable – not all the time, but enough for him to be very hard to live with - and now that he’s 86, very deaf, hardly able to walk and beginning to be slightly slow on the uptake, he hasn’t had a personality change. Sweet old man? – I don’t think so.

However, to be more cheerful – but without wishing to brag – what do you think of the photo of my agapanthus? You can’t see its full glory in the picture – each flower head is the size of a football - though a much prettier colour. The plant is just outside my kitchen window and I admire it as I do the washing up. Lovely!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Ho hum

There are few people more gloomy than a teacher in the last week of her holidays. It’s bad enough when you’re a pupil, but at least (as I remember it anyway) you have the excitement of seeing all your friends again, of getting new jotters (I always liked stationery), of hoping that you’d get one of the decent teachers this year. But for the teachers… there’s just the prospect of lots of marking.

Actually, it’s not that bad. I do know that I’ll quite enjoy it once it starts. I like the teaching, most of the time. I like almost all the students. They’re almost universally sweet. It’s just that I like not teaching even better. And I hate all the bureaucracy and meddling from above. Also, some of my colleagues can be very difficult.

Why can I not lose weight? I’m ashamed even to mention it, but I’m not losing. I’m not gaining either: I lost a paltry amount about a year ago (10 pounds or something) and then stuck. I keep reading other people’s blogs and being inspired and then I forget the inspiration and absentmindedly put things in my mouth. Not six packets of crisps or anything, but the odd biscuit and the occasional bit of ice cream on my strawberries, and there’s no point in telling myself that I don’t eat vast amounts of calories, because the point is that I eat too many to lose weight. This is so obvious. And this blog is not keeping me accountable because I don’t write about it. AAARRRGGGHHH. Part of the trouble is my age: I hate being overweight but I don’t hate it quite as much as I did when I was young because… well, I suppose because my function is to do things for other people now, not to be attractive.

Oh dear, I don't really mean that anyone's actual FUNCTION is to be attractive. And I'd rather not make small children squeal and run away at the sight of me, even now. But I have no aspirations to be alluring. Unlike the lady of my age who claimed in a comment on “Half of Me” that she was "hot", I feel this would be a bit delusional. Certainly for me. I’d just like not to be wobbly and silly-looking.

Ah well, I’m off to garden. That should burn off a few of my Bite Size Shreddies and skimmed milk. Maybe today will be the day that I’m firmer with myself.