Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Gruesome News

In today's Guardian. A leave voter from Crewe.

The 73-year-old former builder and engineer said he had been lied to by the leave campaign. “They didn’t tell us the true facts. They kept us in the dark like mushrooms and fed us bullshit,” he said. “We voted because of immigration and we didn’t realise how poor we would be. It will be terrible but I still want it, because of immigration.”

Also in today's Guardian, from George Monbiot.

The UK is exporting scrap tyres to India where they are used as a particularly polluting and toxic fuel. This, despite an existing market in this country for used tyres which can be pressed into blocks and used in road-building and other projects. This use, though not ideal, is much better than poisoning the citizens of other countries.  I was disgusted when I read this but not shocked. After all, our governments have long turned a blind eye to the illegal burning of tyres in many parts of Northern Ireland during the Twelfth of July celebrations. 

And all this while we are still part of the European Union. I shudder when I think of what will become of this place when the UK marches to the beat of its own drum. It's looking like a really nasty future.

That old racist from Crewe won't have to suffer it too long though. I wonder if he has grandchildren?

Now I've really depressed myself. Perhaps this picture will cheer me up.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Hurry Pooter

We had our pesky darlings for a sleepover on Friday. As ever, I was bowled over by their self-assurance. Martha just goes and picks up Bert's clarinet which he can be quite precious about. But, no worries. He just says.

Let me change the reed for you first.

And off she goes, playing away, proper tunes. Next night he says to me,

Let's get some new pads for my old clarinet, get it fixed up. Then Martha and I can play together.  

At bedtime, I read a chapter from their current favourite. Before we had a discussion about what Ginny is short for. I said Ginevra, Martha said Ginerva (rhymes with Minerva) and I said I wasn't too sure about that. I'm notorious for not getting the names right. Started with Hermione. I was stressing the 'o.n,e' instead of the 'm,i'. Both girls laughed at me. Then I said Beasley instead of Weasley. Corrected again. I took it in good part, said,

Sure, everyone knows I cannot pronounce anything right in those old Hurry Pooter books.

They got the joke.

By the way, I did get it right about Ginevra.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

A Foggy Night

I set the alarm last night for 5:15am as I wanted to see the Super Blood Wolf Moon. The name alone was fantastic. I said to Bert,

No doubt, as per usual, there will be clouds and we'll see nothing. If it's good do you want me to wake you?

He said,

Only if it's amazing.

I went to bed, read from three books,

A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness
Who We are, Dee Roslyn
Human Traces, Sebastian Faulks...

Then turned out the light and tried to sleep which wasn't easy as my feet were FREEZING.

Jess wakened me sometime around three or four, whining, wanting to go downstairs. I looked out the window and saw it was misty outside. It turned out the dog was thirsty and as she lapped from her bowl I went outside. Despite the fog, the moon was visible and was mostly eclipsed.  Perhaps two-thirds. I returned to bed and slept almost immediately. Two hours later the alarm went off. Totality! I hurried downstairs. The fog had thickened and there was no moon to be seen. Back to bed with a cup of coffee and some more A Monster Calls then back to sleep until nine o'clock.

When I eventually got up I wondered if seeing the partially eclipsed moon had just been a lovely dream.

Sunday, January 20, 2019


These days I rarely feel blue but I'm sure feeling blue tonight. Sadness and worries pervade the air around me. I went to a church service this evening, part of a funeral. Usually, I'm pleased to meet cousins that I only meet on such occasions but tonight it was just complete and total sadness.

There are other things going on that are worrying, and not just Brexit and the USA, things closer to home. I wish it was spring, I wish I could be hopeful again.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Not Simpatico

My youngest daughter started a new job last week and somehow this got me thinking back to the days when I worked in a homeless hostel. Remembering how I used to feel about that position got me wondering if I was actually the right person for the job. It's true that a significant number of the client group were not at all simpatico. And they are the ones I remember the best.

And after giving some thought to such matters these past few days it was quite the coincidence that I bumped into one of my colleagues from that workplace. I saw her coming up the street and thought I recognised her. It's been years. She exclaimed,


And I answered,


Neither of these names was correct but it had been a quite a while. And, for the purpose of this post, Joan will do.

We fell to reminiscence at once. Then went for coffee. The craic was, as they say, mighty. Joan told of her very first day on the job when I was the other person on duty. One of our more troubled and troublesome girls was threatening to jump off Harryville Bridge. She remembered me saying,

It would be great if she did.

She thought me very hard-hearted and pitied the wee attention-seeking girl very much.

I said to her,

But you came round to my way of thinking?

I don't know if Joan ever did. She's a far better woman than me.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Changing Rooms

See that doorway? That doorway is closed off now. It will be plastered over as if it had never been and the plan is some new kitchen units, maybe a new cooker will stand where it used to be. Closing off the doorway is the first step of the project. Bert took a picture of Ben, Hannah and myself standing there to commemorate it. 

Lordy, I look like a real wee grandma in that picture. Bert said I'm like a Dorset Horn ewe looking out of a hedge. He really does pay such delightful compliments.

So, how are we going to get out of the room with no door? No problem. He opened up another door. Our kitchen was originally two rooms so there were two doors opening into the hallway. But it was a shame that we had to lose the doorway bookcase.

I thought it would be weird getting used to the new layout but it's not. The dogs are a little puzzled by it all, especially Ziggy. The cats are unperturbed. They act like it's always been this way. I expect Martha and Evie will be a little bit sad that they won't have the roller-skating scope they were accustomed to.

And I'll have to get my thinking cap on and decide what sort of new kitchen I want. I'm almost looking forward to it.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Bill and Ben

Ben and Bert in Sligo 

Bert and I have known Ben all his life, all nineteen and a half years of it. He has been coming to our house since babyhood, sometimes with his family, sometimes just him. We always enjoy having him around. I'd thought a few years back that by now we'd be seeing less of him, that he'd have other places to go and other people to see but it seems that he still likes to hang out with the old codgers now and then. He's here now. The firm he is/was apprenticed to has gone into administration and Ben's at a loose end so he asked if we'd mind if he came over for a few days?

But we never, ever mind.

Tonight is Gypsy Jazz night so Ben and I left the musicians to it and went to my private, secret sitting room to Netflix and chill. We watched Bill Hicks perform his Just A Ride show in London. Ben hadn't come across Bill Hicks before and he was impressed. It struck me that although the cultural references were dated, the ideas that Bill put across were as relevant today, maybe even more so, than they were 25 years ago.

After my big success introducing Ben to Bill, I tried him on a couple of my favourite Woodstock clips. Joe Cocker, he knows Joe's early work, Santana, he thought they all look completely stoned and Country Joe and the Fish - good song. It was that song.

Gypsy Jazz over and done with I hunted him back to Bert because, y'know. The blog.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

I Will

It's a friend's daughter's birthday today. She is eight and it doesn't seem that long ago since she was new to the world. It got me thinking about children and their birthdays. Compared to my own childhood, today's youngsters (most of them) have super birthday celebrations. Not for them our egg sandwiches, simple sponge cakes and the chance to run riot with our cousins.

One of Miss Martha's first birthday parties was at a community hall in a nearby village and I was tasked with delivering her and she was so excited, clutching her present and wearing the Elsa dress her mummy made for her.  When we went into the hall she was quickly surrounded by a group of her friends, most of whom were also dressed in Elsa costumes.

Evie was along for the ride and she must have been about three years old. Her little face said it all. She was stoic but I knew she was feeling it. Her big sister was off to a party and she was not.

As we drove back home I said to her,

You know Evie, when you go to big school you are going to meet a lot of new friends. They will be your friends, not Martha's. And there will be birthday parties and you'll go to them. Just you. Not Martha.

And she said, very firmly,

I will.

And that is just what happened.

July 2014, almost 5 and 3

Saturday, January 05, 2019

We Go To Belfast

Jazzer and I went to Belfast yesterday for a bit of a day out. First of all, we went to Matchetts to purchase a few clarinet supplies for Bert. But we went into the wrong Matchetts. We entered the shop that sold guitars, keyboards and drumkits and where the assistants had long greasy hair, jeans that were falling off their bums and an air of debauchery. I expect they all play in thrash metal bands. They sent us to the right shop. This one sold all the other instruments. Here the assistants had neat short hair, a slightly patronising air and I'd say they probably played with the Ulster Orchestra. They didn't have the actual thing that Bert wanted most - a new mouthpiece for his clarinet. Nor did they have the pads he needed. All I was able to buy from them were a few packets of reeds and a stick of grease. No wonder Amazon is taking over the world.

There were further disappointments in store. I'd never been to a Frankie and Benny's before and I intend never to darken their door again. I ordered spaghetti and meatballs and it was dire. Couldn't finish it, flavourless and could barely cut the meatballs in half they were so tough. I think the chef must have bound the meat together with a good-sized pinch of Blue Circle cement. I was even more convinced of that this morning at my ablutions. The last time I offloaded one like that I'd drank about a quarter bottle of kaolin and morphine.

We had a bit of a wander around the streets adjacent to Royal Avenue and came upon a live Nativity Scene featuring two shepherds, two donkeys, a goat called Tinsel and a pregnant Suffolk ewe called Holly. All the animals seemed very content in clean, comfortable stalls and were eating their heads off. Oh! Forgot to mention - there was a plastic Baby Jesus but no sign of Joseph and Mary. They'd probably slipped over to Kelly's Cellars for a pint. I'd say that meeting Holly the sheep was one of the highlights of my day. That and the sale at Seasalt Cornwall.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

A Look Back At December

The brothers in St Comgall's graveyard, Antrim town. The youngest one (in blue) had been cleaning the parents grave so it would be nice for the New Year. That picture was taken on 29/12/18.

Vancouver Brother and I didn't do any of the work. The job was done by the time we arrived. So we took YB for a coffee at Tannaghmore Filling Station...

Eamon, Eamon and Joe

...on London Sister's orders. We picked up one of the neighbours on the way.

Eamon, Eamon and Joe when they were cubs.