Thursday, December 05, 2019

In Which Bert Is A Great Big Tease


Evie told me that Bert calls her pink booster seat a 'wedding chair'.

I said,

Why does he say that?

He says I'm too big for it. He says I'll still be sitting on it when I go to my wedding.

Well, that's not very nice of him. What did you say?

I told him I'm not even going to have a wedding. It costs too much money. I'm just going to live with somebody.


A sad day for hens. One died of natural causes and four by a fox. Needless to say, all roosters survived. Bert saw the arrogant brute this morning and considered shooting him but decided not to. We were letting the hens out to wander the yard every afternoon so our fault.


We took Martha and Evie for dinner at the Pizza Parlour. It has changed hands and moved premises but the pizzas are still as good as ever. Bert ordered a large anchovy and olive and was almost beaten by it. I said, "Why don't you take a little break, then go back to it?" He said, "Yeah. That's what Italians do." I said, "And while they're taking their break they slip out of the restaurant and whack someone." He said, "While everyone else in the restaurant laughs loudly at silly jokes and no-one hears a thing."

Full disclosure, we just watched The Irishman, then GoodFellas, Bert for the fourth time, me for the first. I'd only ever caught the scene where Christopher from The Sopranos got his foot shot at by Joe Pesci, so sorry Italian-Americans for the lazy stereotyping, blame Martin Scorsese.


Whilst uploading the Pizza Parlour photos from my phone I came across one on the family WhatsApp page, shared by my brother, a photograph of his beautiful first grandchild who died in September. There will have to be a new kind of Christmas in Ava's family, one where there will always be someone very special missing. It's going to be hard.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Maria Goretti and Other Saints

I may have mentioned before that Bert uses me instead of Google so when he recently asked,

Who is Padre Pio?

I wasn't that surprised for Padre Pio is not talked much of among Presbyterians. My brief summary of the life and times of the holy man complete he went on to enquire,

So, who was Maria Goretti then? And Dominic Savio?

I replied,

What is it that you're reading there? The Sacred Heart Messenger? Catholic Herald?

He held the volume up.

I'll have to add that to my to-read stack.

Anyway, to get back to Bert's early morning question time. I told him.

Actually, I do know quite a bit about Saint Maria Goretti, for we had her holiness rammed down our throats at home and at the convent. She was a great example to be held up for she died for her purity. I remember asking Mammy about what the fellow who killed her wanted to do to her and she wouldn't tell me! So, we're expected to die for our purity when we don't even know what purity is. 

As to Dominic Savio, I don't know. But he must be a quare holy fellow because I have a cousin who has Savio for his middle name.

Which cousin?

The really tall one.

I googled Dominic Savio and it turned out he was this goody-goody, celebrated for his piety. He was studying to be a priest, got pleurisy and died aged fourteen. I told this to Bert, who said,

Fourteen? That's a bit young to be made a saint. What's all that about?

I don't know. Ask the Pope. Anyway, fourteen isn't that young. Maria Goretti was twelve. 

Later I found myself thinking about Maria Goretti or, to be accurate, a namesake. I did know a girl of that name, a dark-haired girl around my own age. We would have been about fourteen at the time. This Goretti must have had a ship-wrecked Spanish sailor in her ancestry for she was exotic, she was sensuous, and she had the hairiest legs I'd ever seen on a girl. She was also an accomplished Irish dancer. That is when I first noticed the hairiness. We walked home from school together once. Just once, for she was a bit of a loner, held herself apart. On that walk, we passed quite a few men and I was aware that she was having an effect on them. They all looked at her, some of them yearningly. To tell the truth they might not have been fully-fledged men but to me, then, any fellow over seventeen was a man. So, while the men yearned after my companion she walked aloof paying no attention. I think I must have had a crush on her myself.

Of course, all this was projection on my part for who knows what was going on with Goretti. For some reason, I've held on to that memory for over fifty years, the sensuous young girl named after the Italian virgin martyr.

One thing about the trio Bert asked about, Padre Pio, Dominic Savio, Maria Goretti - they were all Italian. The Catholic church never looked too far afield when they sought saints to inspire their flock. I don't know about Padre Pio (mystic) or Dominic Savio (prig) but poor Maria Goretti was the victim of a murderous rapist and instead of recognising that fact, our elders used her experience to keep us girls in line. So, what happened to her murderer? According to Wikipedia, Serenelli, 20 years old at the time of Maria Goretti's death, went to prison for 27 years. He repented and on his release sought the forgiveness of the Goretti family and joined a monastery.

This morning, Bert's question was,

How many men's names begin with 'N'. I can only think of five.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Black Friday

Bargains Galore (Not)

Bert took a trip to Ballymoney today to Pollocks (horticultural supplies), his mission to acquire big black pots in which to plant trees. When he got back I asked him if there were any Black Friday bargains on offer. His answer, "No". It seems that pots and planters and bags of compost have a price and that price will not be lowered under any circumstance. I guess that Killyless Stores (farm supplies) will have had no exciting reductions on pig meal or Dunlop wellingtons, nor Hayes Garage, a price drop on diesel or potato bread. When it comes to essentials the price is the price.

Black Friday

The over-hyped nonsense that is Black Friday has only been around for six years or so. It's an American import that makes no sense at all as we don't celebrate Thanksgiving so are not on holiday the day after. Anyway, we're thinking about Christmas and there's an election coming up.

Election Posters

And speaking of the election, a recent visit to Larne to see cousins was greatly marred by posters of Sammy Wilson leering from every lamp post. At least he was covered up.

Thinking About Christmas

Very much on my mind this evening, especially the bottle of Baileys I'd stashed in the cupboard to be enjoyed nearer the time. Seems I'm not very good at delaying gratification.

Dunlop Wellingtons From Killyless Stores

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Queen

Bert and I have been watching (and enjoying) The Crown on Netflix. Olivia Colman is terrific in the role of the middle-aged monarch. It’s a fiction loosely based on fact yet it does have its surreal moments, the Duke of Edinburgh attempting to fly a plane to the moon, the Duke of Edinburgh baring his soul to a group of C of E priests, one of whom a dead ringer for Freddie Garrity of Dreamers fame. But one thing has struck me, inspired me – the Queen’s wardrobe. Not her evening gowns or her colour co-ordinated out in public costumes – what I want is her day clothes, the outfits she wears whilst hanging around the palaces, the plain dresses, the well-cut wool skirts, the silky high-necked blouses, the cardigans, the pearls, the court shoes, and the always present handbag. If I had those clothes I’d feel so smart, so ever-ready, and so royal.

Still thinking about it this morning when I realised it wasn’t the Queen’s style I wanted to channel – it was my Aunt Sadie. Sadie, unlike those other scruffbags I mentioned in the Old Shoes post, was always smart and tidy and her hair always 'done'. The addition of an apron or nylon overall helped to keep her clothes clean as she cooked, cleaned and looked after her family for, unlike the Royals, she managed her own house.

Today I am wearing some really scruffy jeans, a Fatface stripey top, a burnt orange M&S jumper worn back to front and an old pair of Superdry boots. I have not combed my hair. 

The Superdry boots, despite their name, do not cut it in the soggy wood and are quite unsuitable for splashing in muddy puddles, something I still enjoy despite having graduated from primary school many decades ago. I used to wear dark purple Hunters but have now settled on sensible Dunlops from the local farm supplies shop. The Hunters are still around, purloined by Hannah, whose slim pins are more suited to them than my sturdy calves.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Every Picture Tells A Story

I like carparks with more than one exit, especially if they are small. Obviously, the person who parked this car agrees, for what space could be more convenient than right bang in the middle of one of the exits? Ideal for a quick getaway. Convenient for one driver only.

Most mornings I am rudely awakened by a big cold nose pushing into my face. And whimpering. It's not Bert, just Judy the Senior Dog wanting to go outside for a pee. It always feels too early for me but sometimes it's worth it when I get to see the gorgeous morning sky. And I say, thanks Judester. You're a doll.

We always have a birthday cake on the Monday nearest to someone's birthday. Entranced by the glow of the candles, father and daughters are completely unaware of the cameras trained upon them. Yeah, right! For they are all perfectly accustomed to cameras. Especially Dave...

who is in there somewhere. Sort of like a very dark Where's Wally.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Other People's Jobs

In the early 1970s, Matty worked in the dispatch department of an electronics factory. I was at home with my baby girl. When she got home she'd tell me all about the goings-on in the lives of the team she worked with. At first, I found these stories tedious but listened to Mum anyway, just to be a kind daughter. Then, as time went on, these tales from the factory floor began to engross me and sometimes I found myself waiting impatiently for Matty to come home so I could hear the next instalment. She'd be taking off her coat and I'd be saying,

How did wee Una get on at the fertility clinic? Did the doctors give her any hope at all?


So! Did Davy gamble his pay again this week? He did! Poor Josie, she'll never be able to afford that holiday.

Since then I've always been interested in other people's jobs, which always seemed more engrossing that one's own paid employment.

For instance, this Thursday, we had someone round who works behind the scenes at big events, concerts, festivals and the like. he mentioned that he'd been working the Cher show at the SSE Arena.

Over 70 and you should have seen her go. Amazing! All those costume changes. I saw her coming offstage and she was totally wrecked. They had to carry her off.

A conversation ensued then about just how so many venerable old rock stars are still giving it welly.

Our friend had also been around after a Rod Stewart show and saw Rod completely wrapped in a space blanket and tottering away, supported by assistants. All that was visible the spiky tips of his famous barnet.

Then, last night the Master Electrical Engineer called with his fix for the moth trap. He stopped for coffee and a chat and eventually the talk came round to work. We'd been discussing the unwanted critters that sometimes find their way into our homes. In my case it was slugs. Yes! They are back! It's been four years but this time there have only been five infant sluglets. In our friend's case it is mice but he's dealing with it. I thought perhaps some sort of cunning electrical gadget that dispatches them to mouse heaven as painlessly as possible but he's using old-fashioned spring traps.

The work connection? A while back our friend worked for a big multinational telecommunications manufacturer. And they had a special room where they kept exotic creatures, spiders, beetles, lizards and snakes, that sort of thing. Sounds strange? I thought so. But, because the company was global there were crates coming in from all over the world and sometimes those crates were carrying passengers.

Looking for a four-leafed clover. (Even tho' it's not clover)

This woman had a mouse jump from her pantry cupboard on to her head this week. She handled it well. Yet once, when she spotted a ladybird on the dashboard of my vehicle, she panicked and shrieked and I had to pull up, rescue the ladybird and remove it to a place of safety.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Thinking About Christmas

If there was one thing my Granny Mac got right it was passing on to her children, her love for gardening and the natural world.

If there was one thing that Matty got right it was encouraging us to appreciate nature, particularly wildflowers and hedge birds.

And I encouraged mine, as they encourage theirs.

And then there is this,  Zoe's Etsy Shop.