Thursday 28 June 2007


Is the richest, meanest man in Surrey mending his ways at last? Today he declared “I've always had a hankering for a sundial - in the middle of our lawn (hoping it won't put the rabbits off). For instance: I am trying to go down the path of minimising the inheritance, but don't seem as good at it as some people”.

My friend, you are quite right, you are not good at it. For sundials we are talking minimum spend. To emulate me you are going to have to raise your game somewhat. But personally I think you are past saving.

To illustrate his miserliness this is the man that said "Just paid £241 for his year's pet insurance. I may get another yellow Labrador and call him Tommy as well, so that I don't have to take out another lot of insurance!"

The man is obviously beyond help but, because he is a friend, I have offered to give him a crash course on how to squander money. I suspect he will have an apoplectic fit at the very thought of that and strike me off his list of friends.

Wednesday 27 June 2007


Our builder started this week. We waited over a year for him to come. My husband was determined that HE WAS THE ONE. Who am I, a mere woman, to question this. My husband keeps me well away from the builder. He won't let me ask him probing questions like, why are you taking my roof off in this rain? My husband is very, very nervous that I might upset the builder. Why? It’s not as though I am a difficult person. By this time next year I will either have a superbly refurbished home or an Ex-husband!

Monday 25 June 2007


What’s going on? One of the highlights of my working life was sliding off in the afternoon for a glass of champers and a bowl of strawberries and cream in front of the TV during Wimbledon fortnight. What have I been doing today? Working!

Talking about strawberries and cream a friend recently sent me this. It is terrifyingly familiar!

An elderly couple are both having problems remembering things. During a check-up, the doctor tells them that they're physically okay, but they might want to start writing things down to help them remember Later that night, while watching TV, the old man gets up from his chair. "Want anything while I'm in the kitchen?" he asks. "Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?" "Sure." "Don't you think you should write it down so you can remember it?" she asks. "No, I can remember it." "Well, I'd like some strawberries on top, too. Maybe you should write it down, so's not to forget it?" He says, "I can remember that. You want a bowl of ice cream with strawberries." "I'd also like whipped cream. I'm certain you'll forget that, write it down?" she asks. Irritated, he says, "I don't need to write it down, I can remember it! Ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream - I got it, for goodness sake!" Then he toddles into the kitchen. After about 20 minutes, the old man returns from the kitchen and hands his wife a plate of bacon and eggs. She stares at the plate for a moment. "Where's my toast?"

Friday 22 June 2007


When my life is uncertain and stressful (as it often is) I take a few positive steps to get me out of the confusion.

1. First I look at myself to see what I can do to improve my attitude and not blame others for my feelings or situation.

2. This has to be done on a daily basis because it’s so easy to drop back into negativity. Let’s face it negativity is more familiar, dramatic and comfortable, but ultimately can lead to depression.

3. I don’t go chasing happiness and have to accept that sometimes it is necessary to stand still and hurt.

4. I attempt to remove myself from the centre of the universe and take positive steps to improve the life of others.

5. I put effort into the family, helping out with the children whenever I can etc.

6. I have to be comfortable with who I am and where I am at, whatever circumstances I find myself in.

7. I take steps to take a hold of my life and change things for the better. This is probably the hardest because it seems to conflict with taking myself out of the centre of the universe but I sometimes have to positively change things because if I’m in a mood I make trouble for everyone else!

And having said all that most days I get it massively, massively wrong and have to go back to the drawing board! Plus everyone around me would say who gives a shit, you bitch! Oh well!!

And having said all that can you count the number of times I have said I, me and my. I don't think that I have quite got it right yet! It's all about me, me, me!! And to be honest my life is still a mess. In hindsight, ingnore the foregoing, it's all crap.

Monday 18 June 2007


This morning it was pointed out that although I have mentioned our impending major renovation works, I haven’t said exactly what is being done.

Let me explain. We moved into a two-bedroom bungalow 20+ years ago onto which old brown eyes built a two-story extension. So we ended up with an odd looking bungalow with a house stuck on the back. Various people have pondered on ways to give it “curb appeal” and it seemed the only solution was to add symmetry by building another story above the bungalow bit.

During the planning of this things got a bit out of hand (as they do!). If we were going to do structural alterations why not change the internal design and refurbish the whole house? A make over is more than overdue because it hasn’t even been redecorated since 1995!

Stage one is that we have moved out of the front of the house which is now a building site. Over the next few months the roof on the front of the bungalow will be removed and another story added. The kitchen will remain single story and act as a link between the new and existing 2-story sections. The kitchen ceiling and roof will also be removed, the roof raised to gain headroom for an open walkway to be constructed to access the new bedroom. Internal walls will be removed in the kitchen to form a kitchen/living room with a cathedral ceiling and velux windows.

Stage two is to flip the building site/living accommodation arrangement and move into the new part of the house and refurbish the rest of the house.

Hey nonny nonny, ho nonny nonny. If I’m not mad now, I soon will be!!

Saturday 16 June 2007


A friend of mine who also follows the wifeinthenorth sagas wrote, referring to her blog on 11th June about an anti-bullying workshop, “what I dislike about these PC people is the patronising way they talk, as if they alone know The Truth and the rest of us are infants”. Now ain’t that the truth. I'm glad it's not just me. Odd that he didn’t reassure me that, in comparison to wifeinthenorth, my writing is NOT shallow and inadequate (see my last blog). Ummm!

Reading wifeinthenorth prompted me realise that I hadn’t ranted for a while, at least not publicly. I'm am, however, beginning to feel a rant building up about public funds being wasted on needless road signs and CCTV that, if there is a crime, the police are too busy to look at anyway!

The Highways Department have recently spent months putting up poxy useless signs between here and our nearest town, naming the villages, restricting speeds, tut-tuting that I am driving too fast etc. They have even erected a sign to make us aware that ducks are crossing the road, now that’s a step too far.

That’s another thing, is the Highways Department still called the Highways Department or has it wasted public funds on a name change like countless other ineffectual government departments? Oh! Silly me, it’s now called the Highways Agency. Well, well what do you know!

But need a life saving operation? Sorry, we don't have the funds and anyway most of our health workers are off sick - so there! And the ones that aren’t sick are too busy chasing down patient records that they lost in the first place to bother with mundane things like doctoring and nursing.

Has no one in this ridiculous government heard the story of how Nero fiddling whilst Rome burnt? This country is feeling uncannily like Rome at the moment.

On a more personal note we have spent the last few days packing and moving stuff out of or to different locations in the house so that we can isolate “the building site” from the “home”. In the process my computer has been re-located back to the office which is a bit of a bind because I now have to take a trip to blog, read and reply to emails and all that good stuff instead of just sauntering into the spare bedroom. Still, the exercise is good and I get to meet people.

Thursday 14 June 2007


After reading wifeinthenorth today I have come to realise how shallow and inadequate my writing is. She bares her soul, rants against injustice and howls at the moon. Very un-PC, very un-British, beautifully written, mind blowing and painfully, painfully honest. Yesterday she wrote about bullying and her comments are bang on the nail. Why can’t I write like that? I guess it’s because a) I am not that articulate and b) I haven’t got the courage to let everyone know who I really, really am.

Also, it is hard to write my life experiences without identifying and pissing off the general populace. My dear husband is cool though. He is confident enough to know that I love him. I write tongue in cheek and when I badmouth him he more than deserves it. He actually seems to enjoy public humiliation, but that’s another story.

So here I sit at my computer trying to behave myself, make sense of retirement and adopt good attitudes to those around me. Out of consideration for others I write thoughts, feelings and deeds without passion (an oxymoron?). I AM building up to having a good rant but not today. Today I will be calm and politely write about the packing of boxes, the preparation work for the builder to start and how dreadful the weather is.

Monday 11 June 2007


The “building project(s)” is/are getting closer. I say projects because my optimistic husband thinks that he has enough life left in him to extend and renovate our house, a massive undertaking in itself, build an Olympic sized all singing, all dancing indoor swimming pool/gym/sauna complex and THEN construct a four-bedroom house on the site of an old corrugated bungalow in our garden. All of which, I might add, we have planning permission for. How’s that for being upbeat about the future?

As we are not newcomers to building projects we should know better. Our first building site home was 30 years ago when nine of us lived in a house with two ladders instead of a staircase and no kitchen for several weeks. But we had a glorious view from the terrace! That was the high point of our renovation career!! Following that, things deteriorated. This house started life as an overcrowded diddy two-bedroom bungalow. At one point there were ten of us living in this particular building site paradise. Thankfully it eventually morphed into the very comfortable five-bedroom house that it is now.

Knowing what hell is in front of us you may well wonder why are we about to embark on a year or more of intense pain and upheaval, not to mention cost? Answer - because the house has no “curb appeal”, because I have been watching too many TV makeovers, because retirement bores us, and because we can.

We have lived in this house for over 20 years and consequentally have accumulated massive amounts of junk. So here I go again, packing my life away into cardboard boxes and re-assessing life values. When did I ever need 40+ glasses of various sizes and quality, 28 tea towels, 33 assorted plastic boxes and 17 flower vases? And this is just the stuff that I'm keeping! I AM being disciplined enough to discard the multitude of plastic box tops that have lost their families and tatty old tea towels, but the rest of the stuff I’m having problems with.

The trouble is that most of my treasures are worthless in monetary terms but have great sentimental value. I can’t bring myself to throw them away that old ashtray lovely fashioned by tiny hands in some long forgotten school, the personalised school tea towels and mugs purchased especially for us on long ago forgotten school trips etc.

So…. into the boxes they go with a promise that when the house is finished I will be ruthless and throw them out. Will I? To be honest, not a chance.

Wednesday 6 June 2007


Unfotunately these are not my words, but they sure are my sentiments. This is how I will feel when I get old. And I will STILL feel guily about eating chocolate! :-

”The other day a young person asked me how I felt about being old. I was taken aback, for I do not think of myself as old. Upon seeing my reaction, she was immediately embarrassed, but I explained that it was an interesting question, and I would ponder it, and let her know.

Old Age, I decided, is a gift.

I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometime despair over my body, the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror (who looks like my mother!), but I don't agonize over those things for long. I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly.

As I've aged, I've become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon?I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 40 &50's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love . I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day. (If I feel like it).

Tuesday 5 June 2007


Our fight out to Cyprus was at 0810. “Check in opens at 0610”. Oh really! And how, may I ask, will we get two active little girls to co-operate with that! Best stay overnight at an airport hotel! Two rooms the size of shoeboxes costing £160 “room only”! Parking £3 on the night of stay and £11 a day thereafter. OK, expensive but with two (by this time) SUPERDRIVEN hyperactive little girls it seemed liked a good investment in sanity.

The receptionist lectures me that “There are no parking spaces available. This company’ (pointing at our booking confirmation) should have pre-booked a parking space. It’s their fault”. BIG MISTAKE. As I am MD of “this company” I was fully aware that this pre-requisite had not been made clear at the time of booking. I shared this knowledge with the receptionist and everyone else within earshot. I have a reputation for being quite stern in some situations, this being one such situation. In response to this sternness the receptionist agreed that we could, indeed, use the facilities of the car park for as long as required.

Finally arrived, inspected our accommodation, felt extreme disappointment blah, blah, blah and 7 days later prepared for the journey home. Do package tour operators deliberately organise their transfers and flights to create maximum distress in the hope that the experience will eclipse the horrors of the holiday itself? Yes, I think so.

At the airport the heat was100oF and there were queues like you have never seen before in your life. Confusion reigned. We were assured that our check in desk numbers were 11 and 12. Unfortunately it was impossible to identify which queues went to these desks because there was a ruddy great pillar right in front of them. So we picked a queue, any queue. The queues either side of us went faster, but we stuck to our conviction that our queue was the right queue.

1 hour later we discover the problem. Three queues had been allowed to form and behind the pillar battles were going on between warring passengers for queue supremacy while two silly little holiday reps chatted and giggled. Some very nasty stuff was happening before their very eyes and they didn’t lift a hand to quell the restive crowd. When I pointed this out to one of them she started the “we are sorry that you are being inconvenienced” smiley crap.

That did it. I pointed out that although she was not employed, as she had informed me, for “crowd control”, I held them responsible for allowing three queues to form when there were only two check in desks. It was not necessary to hold a doctorate in physics to realise that this was the road to hell. She scuttled away and I beat a hostile looking lady to the desk and dared her to defy me.

Oh no, I didn’t get to be this age without learning how to deal with uppity little tarts and luggage trolleys wielded by manic death defying fellow passengers..

Saturday 2 June 2007


My sweet husband asked me on the ‘phone what Cyrus was like. I told him “like any other Mediterranean island, hot, dusty, with half finished buildings, deeply rutted roads and inadequate plumbing (“Toilet paper must be placed in the receptacle provided. Do not flush it down the toilet”)”. And that was the best of the island. I still hadn’t seen the spiders, snakes or bugs. To be fair though, they do speak good English and drive on the right (which is the left) side of the road.

Am I being pedantic and picky? You bet your sweet life I am. I have a perfectly good, clean and comfortable home. Why would I want to subject myself to seven days of hellish discomfort with a plastic band stapled to my wrist and odd, suspicious, noxious and, incidentally, probably health endangering smells (maybe emanating from the toilet paper bin, or worse?). This is not to mention the trauma educing fear of woman and possibly child eating spiders that are bigger than a breadbox and smaller than a house. Nah, give me grey driving rain and high winds every time. Even our tossing Government seemed attractive!

BUT, although there were others at the “holiday village” that shared my opinion, there were many that loved it. They praised the fly blown buffet food that sat uncovered for endless hours in the heat. They loved the lumpy bedded dingy apartments. They raved about the pool that someone kept pooing in and lapped up the bingo evenings. Not my cup of tea I’m afraid.

The saving grace was that we had great weather and my two great granddaughters and their mother enjoyed themselves. The two little girls, who have incurably sunny and optimistic personalities anyway, made countless friends. In fact the 6 year old wanted to live there. And my granddaughter, the sun goddess that she is, ended up looking even more gorgeous than ever

Friday 1 June 2007


Recently spotted in Cyprus. Picture this - two men in the height of the blistering midday sun beside a motorway with nothing around but acres and acres of scrubland. And what were they doing? Strimming! What was that all about?

Was their supervisor in a bad mood that morning? Did he get into work and think “What am I going to do with these two wasters today? Fred, get the van out and drop them into the middle of the wilderness on that deserted highway as far away from civilisation as possible, they can’t do much harm there”

If only I had those powers!