Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
We were approaching the checkouts in tandem and I positively whizzed my stuff through, all the better to help her with hers. Job done in super quick time, despite the handicap of having a particularly langourous youth at the till, and I looked round for my old mum. She was nowhere to be seen. Now, as you will have noticed, most elderly ladies look the same and at the beginning of my mother's advance into old age I found it difficult to pick her out in a crowd. Over the years I have trained myself to take note of her coat colour, scarf, anything really to help me to pick her out. Last night she was wearing a light grey jacket with a rather nice dusky pink scarf. With that in mind I scanned the aisles once, twice, thrice. Had she slipped past me? Was she buying another scratch card at customer services? No. Scanned the aisles again, not buying a scratch card. I returned to the shop floor. Perhaps she'd collapsed. Any second now I was going to be called over the intercom. Matty would be lying there croaking, 'Get Nelly,' and then the tinny voice would ring out, 'Can Nelly come to Cooked Meats please. Your mother has took not one bit well...'
Twice I did the circuit of that shop going everywhere except the off-licence. On my third go round I decided to look there too in case she'd wandered in there by mistake.
Eventually I found her slipping past the checkout looking furtive. I pretended I wasn't worried at all and it turned out that she'd only returned to the clothing department to buy herself a cardi.
Note to Daughters: That's a good tip about taking note of what the parent is wearing when she becomes indistinguishable from all the other old dears. It's only a matter of time!
All Christmas presents bought except for one bottle of single malt and one bottle of fine wine and as any fule knows - those are the easy ones.
I bought everything online or second hand.
Now does anyone know where I can acquire a second hand upright piano in fair condition?
Monday, November 26, 2007
On Sunday, after the funeral, Bonnie and I went walking through the very lovely Bann Woods. We'd have brought the Dirty Rotten Scunging Devil Dogs with us too, only they'd managed to give Bert the slip. Again. They love it when they see me going out for they know that Bert isn't as vigilant as Nelly. So as they were probably raking through the Loan Hill that left me and the Good Dog to go walking on our own.
The woods are beautiful at this time of year. And quiet too. We didn't see one other soul in an hour's walk.
I love Nature's litter. I'm like a big kid crunching through piles of Autumn leaves. Not so fond of human litter though. I couldn't help wondering at the selfishness and arrogance of the dirty clart who thought that the entrance to the woods was the perfect place to dump these mattresses. Just let someone else take responsibility for cleaning up your mess, why don't you? Grrr!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
During the Mass my mind couldn't help wandering to days long past and to the first time I met Gerry. He would have been around two years old and in a pram. Maybe it's only imagination but I couldn't help remembering that even at that early age he seemed incredibly bright and intelligent. He took everything in, missed nothing.
What impressed me most about Gerry when we were young was his great intelligence and wit. What impresses me most today were qualities he had then, and which were referred to today by Father Devlin and many others who knew him, and that was his kindness, his generosity of spirit and his compassion.
So I'm not sad. Instead, I've been thinking all day of how short our lives really are and how important it is to make the most of them. In every way.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I grew up beside that stretch of road between Antrim and Ballymena. It was always a busy road. When we were young the old ones called it ‘the line’ and said things like, “You be careful now crossing that line!” We always were. The traffic was always whizzing along, a constant noise in the background that we never actually noticed.
That road claimed many of the family’s cats and dogs. Aunt Mary lost more than one Jack Russell on the line. The first of our dogs called Danny met his end there and Kerry Sister’s lovely Ellie was knocked down and killed one early morning.
Over the years the traffic has steadily increased and now the road is a dual carriageway. It’s strange to think now of my father’s stories of playing ball in the road outside the pub. He told us that cars hardly ever passed during his childhood.
Old Jeremiah told tales of herding cattle up that road in the 1930s. He’d walk them five miles into Ballymena Market then would walk home again with the beasts all sold. He got five shillings for doing that and considered himself well paid.
Driving home from Matty’s this evening I came upon an accident near to Ross’s Factory. I don’t know exactly what had taken place but there were three big dead bullocks at the side of the road. The line is no place for cattle now.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I'm not sure how old it is but it definitely pre-dates partition. Now at that time the public house my father was born in stood as did this one I'm sitting in now. Daddy's birthplace is still a pub. It sits halfway between Antrim and Ballymena on a busy dual carriageway. When my old map was drawn this was not the case. Byrne's public house sat at the side of a cart track. I wonder if they did as much business then.
As the map shows the main route between Antrim and Ballymena in those days went through Kells. You will also see that the railway went through Kells too. It was a busy little village then with at least three textile factories so it probably needed a good rail link. I wish it still had one so I didn't have to drive to work.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Revenue and Customs says it does not think the records - names, addresses, date of birth, national insurance numbers and bank accounts - have fallen into the wrong hands.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Go to bank and have heart attack when realise that £300 cash has disappeared from bag. Blame Eastern Europeans met on stairs going into Tower Centre and accept that not only am I phenomenonally careless but am racist to boot.
Return to car and discover big fat hole in handbag lining underneath which lurks £300 and various other items thought were lost. Return to bank and transfer cash to Hannah's account in order that she is equipped to pay fines/bribes on her way home.
Go home. Listen to Bert lament that no one calls, no one phones. Tell Bert this because he now so boring, nothing in his head except clarinet, no wonder no one calls.
Next thing Best Poteen Maker in Antrim phones asks if it is convenient to call and string Bert's guitar. Say certainly come on over. Say to Bert - you taking up guitar then? He replies no just want guitar in good order in case anyone comes over that might want to accompany me on clarinet.
Best Poteen Maker arrives. Slag him about appearing on TV programme with Willie Drennan. Says he wants that kept quiet as disaster far as he is concerned. I go out for three mile walk in pouring rain with Bonnie while Best Poteen Maker and Bert play with guitar. Discover that bargain waterproof trousers bought in Lidls are awesome job.
Return home to find that Best Poteen Maker and Bert have been to music shop in Cully and bought entire stock of tin whistles. Discover that Bert far superior player of tin whistle than Best Poteen Maker despite Best Poteen Maker having appeared on TV with Willie Drennan.
Visited next by Young Rooney who convinces Nelly that purchase of £269 iPhone would be very sensible idea.
Sort out some of the contents of Pearlie's cupboards. Find that she has kept all souvenirs from all weddings ever attended. These include several lots of sugared almonds from Big Days since when Bride & Groom are now divorced, grandparents or both. Find that Rosie, normally indiscriminate feeder, draws line at thirty year old sugared almonds.
Later drink bottle of wine with Bert and watch Kevin And Perry Go Large which find poignant and entertaining. Obviously very good bottle of wine.
Sunday gets off to strange start as Bert, Paddy and Rosie get up before Nelly and Bonnie. Clint astonished to find Bert up, mousetraps emptied and pigs fed. Have discussion with Clint and Bert as to proper DEFRA recommended feeding of pigs which would not include household scraps, thirty year old sugared almonds or dead mice.
Have huge clean up of house during which decide not to yap at Bert because his approach to domestic tasks at variance with own. One hour later, one shining downstairs later, realise damn good decision.
Afternoon go to Wee Mannys for delicious Sunday lunch. Two starters, lamb with all trimmings and something called Malva pudding. Wonderfully good afternoon.
Home to Earl Grey, none of your business and a touch of light blogging. Where do weekends go to?
Friday, November 16, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
For most of us it is unimaginable. Is that why, all today, I’ve been hearing terrible accusations made against the father? It must be because we cannot possibly conceive of any circumstance in which we would deliberately murder the ones we love most of all?
It seems to me that people have become very quick to judge others who have experienced, or are a part of, the loss of children. Obviously the Madeleine McCann disappearance comes to mind here. The most hateful stories have been circulating about the McCanns even though we, the public, do not have the facts, we were not there and we do not know. I think we make little of ourselves by circulating these salacious stories.
Perhaps it’s the fault of today’s ‘celebrity culture’. When people like Barrymore, Winehouse and Spears, not to mention a legion of reality ‘stars’ make a soap opera of their lives, the rest of us think that’s how it should be for anyone who slips into the public consciousness.
The difference, of course, is that Barrymore et al choose to live their lives in public. Those people hit by loss and tragedies do not. You could argue that the McCanns sought publicity after their daughter disappeared. Maybe they were naïve enough to think it would do some good, would help. We certainly disabused them of that notion.
I’m sure there will be people who disagree with me on this. And maybe you’re right and I’m wrong. Maybe the McCanns are evil hoodwinkers and maybe those stories I heard today about the Omagh family are true. But all I’m saying here is that we don’t know. And that by passing on and repeating the nasty stories we are making ourselves smaller, meaner people.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
So I purchased some electronic scales and weighed myself tonight. I'm one and three-quarter pounds lighter than I was on Monday. But that's me bare naked so they're about the same as the WeightWatcher's weighbridge. I've got a new target now, which is to be lighter than Bert. We're about 12lbs apart at the moment. I'm not sure whether I should approach it by me losing or him gaining. Probably have to be me losing. There's no way I'll get weight on that skinny rake unless....unless I send him in to lodge with Zoe!
Monday, November 12, 2007
Put the kettle on will you?
In a minute. I'll fill Pearlie's jar first then I'll make us a drink.
Ten minutes later...
So what d'ye want? Tay or coffee?
Rooibos or Earl Grey?
Five minutes later...
Tea's brewing. D'ye want a slug of this while we're waiting?
Bert raises tonic wine to mouth and takes a hearty slug.
It's great. D'ye want some?
Honestly Bert. Buckfast! I'm a lady you know. I don't drink tonic wine from the bottle. Now where's that sherry glass?
A report by Which? magazine concludes that children are still exposed to adverts that promote foods with high sugar, salt and fat content.
So they are proposing a 9pm watershed.
Like junk-fed brats really do go to bed at 9pm. And don't the parents have any say as to what children eat? Or do they pay Child Benefit directly to the kids these days?
"Parents have a role to play in improving their children's diet, but they need some support in exercising that responsibility, and part of that is not subjecting their kids to wall-to-wall junk food advertising before 9pm."
I'd say that the responsibility lies squarely with the parents. And the only support they should need is that food companies and suppliers offer foodstuffs that are wholesome and healthy. It seems a bit crazy that people are being sold food that is such filthy poison that it can only be promoted after a 9pm watershed. So why is it still legal then?
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Yesterday Zoe and I went on a trip to Derry. We went on a train that smelled of farts. In Derry we walked the walls, took in some history and visited some shops. There are three shops in Derry that are well worth every penny of the train fare - even if you just go in to look.
I really like a proper old-fashioned book shop and Foyle Books is just that. I complimented the proprietor on the delightfulness of his shop and he said,
That's a nice compliment all the way from Scotland!
It's Ballymena actually but I know what you mean.
He was a Surn Ironer himself so I excused the mistake. Once in London an African stopped to ask me directions. I said I couldn't help him as I was from Ireland myself. He said,
Oh what part of Ireland are you from? Dublin or Glasgow?Another interesting shop, and forgive me - for in my hurry to get inside and look around I didn't note the name, was devoted to quilts and quilting. In my youth I was keen on patchwork and would have thought I was in heaven if I'd had access to such glories. But a part of me thought it was too easy to have such awesome fabrics to hand. I trawled jumble sales and recycled garments to make my quilts.
But by far the best shop was this one.
And here are some of the the treasures to be found within.
I fear I must have lived among the Protestants too long for I only recognised Mother Teresa. Does anyone recognise any of her heavenly chums?
Friday, November 09, 2007
I'm only a little bit sad. Much more glad for her that her adventure continues. Probably just as well really as she'd have cost Nellybert a fortune in heating bills, spuds and sodas.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Yesterday evening while excavating the freezer I found a bag of frozen eels. Bert was ecstatic for he'd forgotten we still had them. He has only recently discovered the joy of eels and he cannot believe he lived until the ripe old age of 48 before tasting them. Those of you who know him personally will hardly be surprised he took to the Lough Neagh delicacy, as eels, like most of Bert's favourite foods, fall into the category known as 'close to minging'.
That's not to say I don't enjoy a bit of eel myself but in moderation only. I couldn't gorge myself on them nor eat them on consecutive days.
Bert fried a huge panful of them, ate two helpings and set aside a large portion for today's lunch. I merely nibbled on two small pieces.
When I returned from work this evening I asked him,
Did you have a nice day darling?
No. I had a terrible day.
Why? What happened?
Well you know the eels I was keeping for lunch? I refried them and they were just perfect. My mouth was watering for them. I was even singing an eely song while I was buttering my sodas and making my tea.
The one that goes, 'Eels! Eels! we like lots of eels!' sung to the air of the Bavarian Drinking Song?
Aye. That one.
What happened? Did you burn them?
Pearlie rang over wanting me for something.
Oh God! Were you over there for ages and burned your eels useless?
No! They were out on the plate waiting to be eaten.
Oh dear. Not...?
Yes! I came back over and there was the plate sitting where I'd left it. Not an eel in sight. The plate was spotless!
Bonnie...? Aye! She's the only one big enough to have reached it. Not one solitary eel left....
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
So it was today that I was thinking about all the euphemisms that are used to describe the act of evacuating one's bowels -such as doing number two, having a poo or taking a dump.
I like the expression 'coiling one down'. What's your favourite?
Monday, November 05, 2007
Sure didn't Shauna spend eight months losing and gaining the same 4 lbs before she got her weight loss back on track. By the way have you got your copy of her book yet?
Thank God! It was in the post when I got back from the weigh in. Just when I needed a bit of inspiration. I wonder did she spend eight months stuck over the same four pounds?
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Thirdly from Glen, who we waved goodbye to a fortnight ago. He and his family are starting a new life in Brisbane and, so far, they're getting on just fine.
It's been a busy weekend. Got the car through the MOT on Saturday, which is always nervewracking. And not just having to drive up the ramps at the PSV carwash. I said to the bloke there,
Does anyone ever actually fall in?
Oh aye. Young girl last week in a Ford Ka, my boy waves at her to go this way, she goes the other way and drops in on the driver's side. Totally jammed in. She couldn't even get out.
I'm sure she was terribly annoyed about it?
Not one bit. She rolled down her window and says, 'I made a right balls-up of that, didn't I?'
I envy such nonchalance.
After making my ride legal again I visited London Sister at Matty's and we went for a bit of a walk. Bumped into and chatted to everyone who lives on Matty's road which took up a bit of time. Then today we went to Swisser's for a delicious tea. It was four course, organic (so she claims) and totally yummy. So here we are, Sunday evening again. Where the hell do weekends go to?
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Then I wised up and went to work.