Wednesday, August 29, 2007


How have 12 people managed to comment on Molly's post? When I click on the little envelope, I still get a form that asks me for her email address. Has she told this to everyone but me? (Paranoia sets in: they've all been invited to the party except me!) Please, some computer-literate person: what can I do? Apart from devoting all my blog to talking to Molly, which would of course be a possibility. I'd have to rename it: the Molly Bawn Correspondence, or something.

This is a lily, by the way. Obviously. The previous picture was mainly a fuchsia (named after Mr Fuchs) - I really love fuchsias - and a nice red........ behind it. I've forgotten its name, though I know it perfectly well *. Alas, senile decay. A red carnation behind it (not very good garden planning really, though I do quite like all the reds together). And a pot of lobelias beside it.

And yes, green and lush are qualities we do well in Britain. It comes with the lack of sunshine, I suppose, and the damp. Especially this summer.

Come on, you clever people out there - take pity on my clueless state.

* Edited to add: 1) the red plant is an astilbe - thanks, K. 2) Molly problem now solved - thanks Tanya et al.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hello, Molly Bawn

Well, Molly, I really enjoyed the post about meeting your husband - very much an "Awww" story. But then I tried to say "Awww" to you and realised that you'd changed your blog. I clicked on your little envelope and was asked for my name (I know that), my email address (yup, I remember that one too) ... and then your email address. Um. That's harder.

Presumably there's some step I'm missing. Can you enlighten me?

Our kittens are going to be neutered on Friday. Oh dear! This means that they won't get their supper on Thursday evening OR their breakfast on Friday morning. And they're cats who enjoy getting their little fluffy noses into their Felix kitten food.

And in this foodless state, they're going to get stuffed into cat baskets and taken to the vet's. They're going to be thrilled.

I was stressing about this to our son today. "Never mind," he comforted me. "We're just going to be cruel to be... " he paused, clearly trying to make the best of it - and failing - "... cruel."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Why I love Crieff

Crieff in Perthshire, about an hour north of where we live, is one of my favourite places. I’ve mentioned this several times and Velcro of Four Legged Furry Penguins tends to express amazement at my choice.

I think her point of view may be different from mine because – as I understand it – it’s not her home town but she went to (high) school there. I assume she boarded at the well-known school half-way up the hill (famous, or at least I know about it, for having Ewan McGregor as a pupil). I know various people who went to that school and were happy. However, I myself wouldn’t have liked boarding school. Indeed I wasn’t a great fan of school at all.

Crieff to me, however, means holidays.

The town itself is perfectly inoffensive; indeed, quite nice, in my opinion. It’s small, quiet and built on the side of a hill. It has one main street with shops – mainly family-owned shoe shops and sweet shops and card shops and so on, together with the usual bakers and butchers.

There’s a wonderful pictures-and-objects shop, the Strathearn Gallery, which has paintings and glass and pottery and little bits of sculpture, many of them hugely desirable and mainly quite expensive (but only because they're beautifully made). We always visit it when we’re in Crieff and have bought the odd thing.

But mainly Crieff is just a big village, with some pretty houses and some less pretty ones. The local building material is pink sandstone, and many people have nice gardens or windowboxes. Bits of the town are more down-at-heel, I suppose, just like in many towns and cities - all towns and cities, in fact. Crieff wouldn’t win a competition for the prettiest small town in Scotland and it’s not on the sea shore or a lochside, but it’s far from being unattractive. And it’s set in lovely, lovely, lovely countryside, with views from many of its steep streets over the valley to hills and fields.

However, when I say “Crieff” I really mean “Crieff Hydro”. This is a big hotel at the top of the town where my family has been going on holiday since I was three. We holidayed there every summer from then till I was eleven, and that was for all time as far as I was concerned.

It was paradise. You go in the front doors into a big hall. Wide corridors stretch to left and right, and in front of you is a further foyer which leads into the ballroom. At least, it’s a ballroom in the evenings – when there’s Scottish country dancing three times a week – and during the day it’s a big space to sit round or, if you’re a child, to run about in. This leads into the Winter Garden, which is a huge conservatory with refreshments. We used to have cokes with ice cream floating in them as special treats – the height of sophistication in post-war Britain. The Hydro, like everywhere in Crieff, is built into the hillside, so although you come in on ground level at the front, the Winter Garden at the back is one high story up, so the views over the garden below and the distant hills are fantastic. Burgeoning in spring, lush in summer, bright with autumn colours in October and in the winter, sometimes crystalled with frost or flocculent with snow.

The Hydro is in some ways very different now – far more luxurious, with many more facilities – but even when I was a little girl it seemed like a palace. There was a swimming pool, for example, and several years in succession we had rooms on the swimming pool corridor, so that my brother and I could wake up in the morning, race along the corridor in our swimsuits and, if we were lucky, be the first people to leap into the glassy water and smash it into ripples. Wonderful. There was also tennis (not that my family played it), badminton, table tennis, billiards, a children’s playroom, a children’s playground, a special children’s dining room complete with rather alarming Nanny in a nanny outfit. There were all the grounds to play in. And there was the Knock.

All these things (apart from the forceful Nanny) are still there, only more so – a better pool, more tennis courts (which we now play on) and so on. But the Knock (from a Gaelic word “cnoc” meaning “hill”) is always the same. It’s the hill upwards from the Hydro and of course we always have to climb it. It’s not very big – you can do it in 20 minutes or so – but because even the bottom of it is at the top of a high-up town, the view from the summit is wonderful. On a good day, you can see for miles, all over the hills and valleys of Perthshire. And in summer, blueberries, or as we call them in Scotland blaeberries, grow wild among the heather. I’ve never seen them anywhere else and they were always an extra treat when we were children. Coke floats and wild blaeberries – how unlike home!
When I was twelve, we had our first holiday abroad: in France. And, apart from one occasion when we visited briefly, the next time I was there was for our honeymoon, when I was twenty-three. But then, ever since the children were old enough to appreciate it, we’ve gone every few years as a family. Nowadays we stay in a lodge in the grounds, which is the only way we can afford it because we take the offspring, often their beloveds and sometimes my parents, but we can still use the Hydro and all its facilities. We (variously) swim, play tennis, badminton and squash (all fairly badly), walk, climb the Knock, drink coffee (and some of the party eat doughnuts) in the Winter Garden, go down into Crieff to buy fudge and postcards and to visit the Strathearn Gallery, drive to the stunning Sma’ Glen - which is a lot bigger than it looks in these photos! -

visit Drummond Castle and its fascinatingly topiaried gardens,

and generally have a wonderful holiday – all an hour’s drive away from home.
There, Velcro. Now do you understand why we love Crieff?
(I apologise for the tininess of some of these photos, but I took the little ones from the internet and no doubt have done something silly or chosen unsuitable photos or something.)

Friday, August 24, 2007


We were discussing our home towns at work today. One colleague comes from a mining town near Glasgow, where the social niceties were not always observed on Saturday nights at pub closing time. "You couldn't look sideways at people," he said, "or they'd have called you a f----- b------."

"Ah," commented another. "Where I come from they'd just have thumped you. They didn't have such a facility for language."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Nothing much to report

I’ve been tagged by Kathy of "I Can Run Too" - and she certainly can.

I feel, however, that I have to apologise for the amazing dullness of my life, about to be revealed. I mean, it hasn’t seemed dull to me, but it’s a bit short of events such as moving to a different continent, marrying several times, winning the Nobel Prize or (thank goodness) suffering life-threatening injuries. However, in all its blandness, here it is.

Jobs I’ve Held: various student jobs such as ticket seller, social work administration assistant; and then English teacher, first at a secondary (high) school and then at two different further education colleges.

Movies I Can Watch Over & Over: Hmm. I can’t sit still for even one whole film, really, but I have seen “Four Weddings and a Funeral” more than once – bits of it, anyway. I also enjoyed “Sliding Doors”, “Groundhog Day” and “Back to the Future”. Nothing exciting or violent. I have a nervous disposition.

My Guilty Pleasures: Blogging. Eating chocolate. But not both at once – one mustn’t overdo things.

Places I have lived (in order): Goodness, how boring: Edinburgh. Not that Edinburgh itself is boring, but never moving away does show a certain lack of initiative. My homes since birth, all five of them, have been within an eight-mile radius. How embarrassing.

Shows I enjoy: “University Challenge”, “Coronation Street”, some documentaries. I don’t watch much television, not because I don’t like any but because I very seldom get round to looking to see what’s on. Also I can't sit still. And once term starts I don’t have time. English teachers have lots of marking to do in the evenings.

Places I Have Been on Holiday: France, Germany, Spain, the US, Canada, Ireland, Wales, Holland, Belgium, various places in Scotland and England. This sounds as if I’m terribly well-travelled, but in fact I’ve been to a lot of these only once, and you must remember that I’m 57 so the holidays have been very spaced out. Places we love and often go to are Crieff in Scotland and Heacham in Norfolk.( Hello to the person from Stevenage, Norfolk, who seems to drop into this blog quite often.)

Favourite Foods: Raspberries, dark chocolate, sweetcorn, peas.

Websites I Visit Daily: Lots of blogs, though not all daily. (See Guilty Pleasures.)

Body Parts I Have Injured: Nothing much. I’m a cautious person. Not even my heart. I married my first real boyfriend and he’s still around, and still being nice.

Awards I’ve Won: Just school prizes really. Certainly no sporting awards! A university degree – does that count? – oh, and a small university bursary.

Nicknames I’ve Been Called: Mainly variations of my name, but, as a child, Snookie and Toots. You’d think that, as a teacher, I’d have acquired some insulting nicknames but if so, I’m happily unaware of them. My husband sometimes calls me Prune. This dates from our youth, when I didn’t look at all prune-like. I’m probably growing into this one.

Can I tag Molly Bawn, Ragged Roses, Paul of Paulz Blog (though I don’t think he reads me much) and Patra? Sorry that I can’t do the underlining thing, but there they are in my Blogroll.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Entertaining and vaccinating

It’s been quite busy week. College started back on Monday. Fortunately we don’t have any students to teach yet – they’re still applying and enrolling – but we’ve just moved to a new office with half the number of filing cabinets and no shelves instead of lots of shelves. So there has been much unpacking of resources and much attempting to rationalise these and arrange them into less space than before. It’s quite hard to make folders smaller.

Last term, we were allowed some choice as to which room we would like for this new office. We chose one with a nicer outlook than our old one, but the crucial thing was that it was rather bigger. It was four windows wide instead of three windows wide plus an alcove. It’s unusual for things to get better rather than worse in the world of the public sector, so we were all excited about this extra space and made great plans for it. Then one day we passed the room that was to be ours, and workmen were stripping it out… and building a new wall which cut the room down to three-window width. So it’s actually smaller than our previous one.

It would have been quite funny if it hadn’t been so annoying.
At home, we’ve had Daughter 2’s aspiring-actor boyfriend staying for some weeks (he lives down south) while he rehearsed for the play he’s now performing in during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. (This is more or less the only work, or as I tend to think of it “work”, he’s done this year – and I mean work of any variety, not just acting. Don’t get me started on this subject. Hmm.) Anyway, he’s been occupying our only spare room, Daughter 1’s former bedroom. Then last Friday, five of Daughter 2’s friends arrived to stay (two boys in Daughter 2’s room, which has one of those pull-out beds under the bed) while the three girls plus Daughter 2 slept, sleepover-style, on mattresses in the sitting room.

The friends departed on Sunday and then on Monday, aspiring-actor boyfriend’s parents arrived for a few days, to see Edinburgh and his play. They slept in Daughter 2’s room while she camped on her brother’s floor. Then, to add to the complications, my niece came on Tuesday to stay till Friday – yesterday. She actually slept at my mother’s, but was around here quite a bit. On Thursday, aspiring-actor boyfriend’s parents departed, and since it was my niece’s last night in Edinburgh, we had my mother and my aunt down to a meal.

So, while this has all been quite fun, I haven’t exactly been idle, which explains why I haven’t been doing a lot of blog activity.

This morning we took Cassie and Sirius to have their second injections. We don’t yet possess a cat-carrying basket, but when I took them for the first injections, I just put them in a slightly see-through plastic crate with a lid that folds down in two halves. No great problem. This time, husband was around to help, so we got a kitten each and put them into the crate. Or at least, that was the idea. We actually picked up a kitten each and these took one look at the crate and suddenly turned into squirming furry dervishes with fourteen legs between them, each of these legs kicking out in a different direction and not at all conducive to going into a box. No sooner had one kitten been crammed into the box and the lid slammed shut, than we had to retrieve the other one from behind a sofa (not an easy task – they move fast) and then we had to open the lid again to insert the second, whereupon the first shot out faster than the speed of light and zoomed into some other inaccessible corner. I had no idea they were so strong. I thought they were little fluffy toy-type things, not steely-muscled warriors armed with a thousand tiny, sharp claws.
At last we managed to force Sirius into the box when Cassie was already in it, and fell back, exhausted and sweating. Then we looked triumphantly through the sides of the box to savour our victory. One kitten only. We were amazed. We were so sure that, during our incarceration of Sirius, Cassie couldn’t possibly have escaped. We were there! We would have seen her! But we looked sideways, and there she was in the kitchen, poised for further flight.
We won eventually and the deed was done. The strange thing was that, at the vet’s, they behaved like little fluffy angels. You want to extract one kitten for the vet to stick a nasty needle into him? Certainly. I’ll just sit here in this box. You want to put him back in while the same happens to me? No problem. Now I should go back in the box? Of course. Home again, they went calmly to sleep. Husband and I drank coffee from quivering mugs and wondered if a sedative would help the next time. For us, I mean.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A cat-nap for Daughter 2 and the start of a new term

Ah well, back to the chalk face this morning. Or to be more accurate, the interactive whiteboard-face. I don’t want to say anything critical about the college - not that I think the senior management read my blog every morning but still, I need the salary – but we will be using some new rooms this session and these have been equipped with interactive whiteboards. These aren’t new devices, but our college hasn’t had many up till now and I’ve never had to use one. Yet.

In case anyone doesn’t know what an interactive whiteboard is – and I apologise for my possibly inaccurate description here – it’s a big white computer screen up on the wall. You can’t write on it with chalk or with a whiteboard marker but you can “write” on it with special doofers that look like pens (just to lull technophobes like me into a false sense of security) but which are actually… well, what are they, I wonder? Sort of sensors or something.

Anyway, you can “write” something on this screen and it comes up as wobbly writing. (If you rest your hand on the board to help guide the pen, the screen picks up the movement of your hand and you get smudges.) Then you can do some magic on your laptop and the wobbles turn into print. Theoretically. You can also bring along notes or a Powerpoint presentation or whatever, saved on a memory stick, and then make this appear on the screen (just like with any computer) but then you can move things around the screen with your hands, or draw circles round certain items, or add handwritten notes or arrows or wiggly lines to what’s on the screen. Or at least, I've seen this done.

You find me somewhat vague here because though I did go to a workshop last term on how to use these things, I’ve now forgotten the details, such as how actually to do it. Ok, it’s not so much the details as the fundamentals that I’ve forgotten. I’m really not good with technology.

Should the boards not work – either because they develop a fault or because the operative (eg me) is too dim to remember which buttons to press, the following procedure must be followed. The operative must return to her workroom - a walk of two or three minutes - must sign on to a computer and then must enter a request for assistance on the intranet by filling in a form with full details of the problem. A computer service person will then attend within two or three hours. Meanwhile, back in the classroom… .

Can you see any tiny flaws in this system? I suppose it’s maybe a way to make sure that even the dimmest lecturer (eg me) learns pretty quickly to concentrate on getting the button-pressing right.

Meanwhile, I think I’d better carry a flip-chart with me at all times.

Must stay calm, must stay calm… Think of (whiskers on) kittens.

Think of the Botanic Gardens.

Think of (raindrops on) roses.

Think of retirement.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Totally unfeline post

Today you’re not getting a word out of me about the kittens or the two plants that they knocked off the kitchen shelf while I was out this morning having coffee with friends and mourning the end of the holidays. (One pot broken, one cracked, lots of compost scattered far and wide, while my friends and I had coffee sitting on a balcony in South Queensferry, overlooking the water, thinking that we could do this sort of thing every day if we didn’t have to work.)
I don’t want to become a kitten bore, so I won’t mention how utterly sweet they are in the evenings, when they lie on my husband’s lap and snooze away, purring fluffily and preventing him from doing anything useful. And I certainly won’t tell you about how much they like their new cat litter. They kick bits of it out of the litter tray and chase this around the kitchen floor – you don’t want to know that, do you?

No, today I’ll show you some pictures of my garden. As I’ve said before, it’s quite small but I’ve made it labour-intensive by concentrating on herbaceous plants, and also by making extra little flower beds here and there. This summer the weather has tended to be cool and damp, which hasn’t encouraged blooming, so it’s not looked its best. (Oh, look at these fine examples of the use of “it’s” and “its”.)

However, one minor excitement is a recent small expansion of the garden round the side of the house. When we moved here eighteen years ago (“I’ll stay five years,” I said, “and then I want a bigger garden”) there was a nasty cracked concrete area round the side of the house, and since we couldn’t afford to have this removed, we put up a shed between it and the back garden and pretended that the bit at the side didn’t exist.

In the course of time, the shed started falling gently to bits, and one day this spring Son was in a demolishing mood and offered to remove it. This left the nasty cracked concrete once again visible, made worse by odd remnants of shed material and various items left sitting around which had been in the shed and now were on their way to the tip.

I had been spending most of my free time since September visiting my father in hospital so hadn’t done the usual spring tidy-up. Then he died and the subsequent arrangements and emotions then took up our time and thoughts, so that the ex-shed area grew weeds on the nasty cracked concrete – making it all look much worse than it had when the shed was in situ.
Bear in mind that it was early spring at this point. There are lots of spring bulbs in the garden, but not visible from this angle. Dear me, how horrible this looks!

Eventually we got a chap to come and remove the tree that had grown up in the middle of the iron fence between us and the neighbours, to dig up the concrete, put up a fence and put down grass and paving slabs. And here, with a bit of planting, is how it looks now.

I know this must look feeble in the extreme to those who live in big American or Australian houses with lots of land, but you have to remember that we live in a wee country, in a city where land is very very expensive. So it’s a very tiny paradise, but it’s ours. And sometimes the sun shines.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A few events from my morning

I had some friends for coffee this morning. Before they arrived, my little furry cannonballs and I had our usual sort of playtime. Would you like to see some of the things we did? First look at the picture above and then the other pictures.

How did that happen?

All in one piece.

Not even chipped.

Who? Us?

Some time later...

The tiger creeps along the tree-branch...

And back again.
Still, it certainly beats working.

Monday, August 06, 2007

From a well-wisher

Dear Isabelle,

I’ve read in your blog that your son is trying to persuade you to get a kitten. I feel as if I’m your friend, having read your blog for some time now, so I feel I should warn you: don’t!

Kittens are very cute, but they’re basically mini-tigers. This means that they like to climb. They will climb: bookcases, sofas, shelving units, stairs (and banisters), walls (or at least try to), curtains, ironing boards, lab coats, your husband’s suits when he’s trying to press them, your husband when he’s trying to press his suits – the list is endless. They walk along tables, window sills, chests of drawers and worksurfaces, including the cooker hob.

They try to eat plants, fish oil capsules (these burst satisfactorily and make nice greasy slidey bits on the kitchen floor), cereal from bowls left unwarily on tables and, from time to time, they'll do their best to eat each other. Once you let them outside they will no doubt try to consume the local wildlife (though not the slugs and snails that you have in copious and unwanted amounts in the garden). They will make no attempt to eat worming tablets or the expensive new food you’ve just bought them. They have little sharp claws which they like to keep that way, which means that your wooden furniture, your upholstered furniture and your wallpaper are just as attractive for this purpose as the scratching post you will buy them.

So remember: your son loves you whether you buy him kittens or not. Be strong! Resist his blandishments!

With best wishes,

A Fellow-Blogger

Spot the kitten

Dear Fellow-Blogger (and I’ve noticed that many bloggers are cat-slaves – I’m sure there’s a sociological study to be done there),
Thank you so much for the helpful, and entirely correct, email that you sent me some weeks ago. Unfortunately, by some strange and unaccountable glich in cyberspace, your email didn’t reach me until today. What a pity that no other cat-owning bloggers tried to convey to me the complete and horrible truth about this life-changing decision, because, believe it or not, we actually did get – not one kitten, but two! Yes, how stupid can anyone be?
They’re behaving exactly as you predicted. I was trying to tire them out this morning (wow, doesn’t this remind you of being the mother of a toddler?) by letting them run up and down the stairs while – in theory – I sat half-way up reading the paper. But you try concentrating on even the Sunday Times Review section when a kitten is tight-rope-walking along the top banister. He got to the end of the level bit and was then faced with an ornamental wooden acorn. He attempted to circumnavigate this, but the next bit of banister slopes down to the landing, so he decided against it. He then turned round – delicately maneouvering (stop changing my spelling, Word – I WANT to spell it that way; I’m British) his four little feet round in a circle – went back to the chest of drawers whence he’d started – and then did it again.
Anyone want to adopt a couple of kittens? I do wonder if I could harvest their energy in some ecological way to provide us with electricity. A little wheel, like a hamster, perhaps… Anyway, thanks for your helpful and well-meaning advice. Alas, too late!
Best wishes, Isabelle.

The message from Fellow Blogger isn't a real email, of course - it's the one you should all have sent me. Why didn't you? And to any of you considering kitten-acquistion: you have been warned.
Above is Daughter 2. She's very fond of our kittens. So am I, really. Most of the time. And I'm fantastically fond of her. She's such a darling. (As is Daughter 1, of course.)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Son and his friends

Son has been away being a student in a hospital at some distance. He has now returned. The cats were pleased to see him.

Cassie sat on his shoulders and Sirius washed his hair. Affectionate and helpful at the same time. Awww.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Small cats helping Mr Life

Mr Life decides to stop playing with the cats and start getting the newly painted room back to rights.

Small cats decide to hold him back.

Ah! Shelves to play with!

Up we go.

Up a bit more.

Spoil sport!

I think if I s-t-r-e-t-c-h I can just about jump up there. (Click on this to enlarge it - I think it's really funny.)

Very tired after all that fun.
(By the way, I wasn't - I really wasn't - talking about any of my regular blogpals - none of you is that lady whose grammar I mentioned! She's lovely, but she's not you. As I'm sure you know. You all write beautifully and I know I don't always.)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Blogging thoughts and some flowers from my garden

I regularly read 45 blogs. By “regularly”, I mean every few days – some more often. Is this a large number, I wonder, compared to other people?

On the whole, I comment every time I read. Sometimes I have something to say – though wouldn’t claim that my comments contain deep philosophical insights which will clarify the lives of the bloggers – but often it just seems polite to indicate my presence. I get the impression that most people feel, like me, that you shouldn’t (even metaphorically) go looking at other people’s diaries without telling them – even though they leave the diaries lying around with a notice saying “Read me!”
There are one or two blogs – in fact I think actually two – that I don’t often comment on, the reason being that their writers never respond. One of them gets hardly any comments, so I imagine that she doesn't comment on others’ blogs, writes just for herself and is happy with that. She has a tendency to say things without explanation (“Collected A from the airport” – who’s A? Why?). The only reason that I keep only an occasional eye on her is that I actually knew her in the past and I’m faintly curious about her. I emailed her when I first came across her blog and she didn’t respond, which seems odd to me (I can never resist replying to emails that aren’t offering to extend my penis) but there you are. The other one gets comments from many people, so I suppose she can’t respond to everyone and knows that she has lots of readers anyway.

Communication is more fun on a two-way basis. Yet I do still leave comments with a couple of bloggers who never respond. Why? Hmm. Just because I like their blogs, I suppose.

It interests me to see what sort of posts will elicit comments. There’s one blog I read that is, in one sense, not at all well written. Grammatically, it’s really not good. (I don’t mean just the occasional slip, though I’m tempted to ask some of you really good writers to reconsider your use of the word “it’s”. Quite a few people have got it wrong recently, though I’m sure it’s just a typo. Sorry to be teacherish, and yes, I’m quite sure I make mistakes too.) Anyway, this lady is very nice and unfailingly positive and cheerful, with the result that her blog is very heartwarming and the oddness of the writing doesn’t matter at all. And she gets lots and lots of comments, far more than I do, none of them (quite rightly) mentioning her grammar. What does that really matter, after all?

Reading all those blogs and commenting on them is quite time-consuming, and I do often wonder if it’s a justifiable use of time. Guilt, guilt... .I’m at the stage of trying not to be tempted to investigate any more because there are so many good ones out there with huge archives of fascinating reading. The daughter of one of my father’s colleagues has just, very sadly, died suddenly at my age – 57 – and it’s made me think. I’ve always imagined that when I retire, I’m going to do all the things I haven’t had time for up till now. I wonder if she thought the same.

But on the other hand, I do really love getting little glimpses of other lives and places and the whole communication thing with people I’d never otherwise come across is such fun. In terms of pleasure, it’s a good use of time.

Still, it would be nice to get the odd clue about the Persons from Salford, Dublin, Malta and so on who often log on and then silently and mysteriously slip away again. Hello, hello, hello.

By the way...

“it’s” and “its”.

“It’s” with an apostrophe is always short for “it is” or “it has”, not “belonging to it”, which is “its”. Pronouns don’t take apostrophes even when possessive: my, your, his, her, its, our, your, their / mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, yours, theirs. The only exception is “one’s”. Sorry again – I know you know this really. And it’s so easy to spot other people’s mistakes and blithely ignore one’s own – this applies just as well to me as to anyone else. Please do tell me about mine and save me from embarrassment!
Kittens? What kittens?