Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Opportunity Knocks

Well, I have been spending a very happy few weeks doing one of the things I like doing best which is tutoring. I have been doing: English (of course), Maths (cor blimey), Health and Social Care ( also known as 'elf an' soshul care, innit tho?), Geography (or maybe History, but let's not change the subject aha!), and Resistant Materials which means dealing with wood and metal and occasionally a student's head when they aren't quite getting the finer points of sentence structure or turning fractions into percentages, or finding the area of a triangle and using it to discover the perimeter of a square (ooooh, get me!).

And, as I say, I have been enjoying it very much. The hour long sessions fly by, and it is very smile-inducing and heart-satisfying when a student looks at you and says, 'I never got that before, but I understand now.' This is known in the trade as a 'lightbulb moment'; they occur more frequently in a one-to-one or small group situation mainly, I think, because students have to concentrate as they have someone's undivided attention, and it makes them think and use their time wisely, and not for balancing their mobile phones in their laps and trying to text their mates all the time with the latest piece of (non) scandal. Phone balancing in laps always entertains me because it means I get to say, 'Robert...I sincerely hope it's Joshua's phone that you are finding so interesting about his groin, and nothing else.' Teenage boy blushes ensue!

I also get treated as a confidante. It is surprising how quickly the students in your charge come to trust you. I've heard about attempts to give up smoking, horrid siblings, impending house moves, boyfriend/girlfriend troubles, family illnesses, close encounters with the police, night time escapades, favourite foods/music/films/ways of getting out of homework, exam worries, college worries, what-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life worries, everyone-hates-me-I-hate-everyone moods, and all the latest fights, gossip and scandals in the local teen community.

This morning was good, too. And when I got home, I checked my e-mail, and there I found a communication from a school in Herefordshire. It is a new school opening in September. I found the advert for it last August when we were holidaying in the county, in a local newspaper and I thought, well, I'll register my interest as an English teacher. Might be the touch of Fate that gets us moving.

The e-mail was, indeed, about a job at the school. There was an attached application form for me if I was still interested in applying for the job.

And the job?

Head teacher!!!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

How To Knead Bread with Grandpa and Kayleigh


Yesterday, I was mostly doing housework via the medium of 'pottering' i.e drifting around the house with a duster and a hoover 'doing' a bit every now and then and with no sense of the usual vim 'n' vigour purpose with which I usually tackle housework on a Saturday morning.

The reason for this was that I didn't really want to do housework but I had to do housework because it was Italian Night chez MMM and the Family were going to descend for home made pizza, gnocchi, potato wedges (okay, I know potato wedges aren't authentic Italian fodder, but for some reason we have accumulated loads of potatoes and they needed using up), tortellini, salad and antipasta in the form of very thin slices of dead piggie which had been killed Lord knows how long ago and spent a lot of the afterlife dangling in some dark shed somewhere 'curing' and 'maturing' and whatever else it has to do before it earns the exotic name of pruscettio. (Is that what it's called? I don't know. I might be making that up.) I also made a non-Italian raspberry cheesecake and a bananas in jelly for Kayleigh which she rejected in favour of cheesecake, ungrateful child, so Mum ate it instead. (My Mum, not Kayleigh's mum...cor, it gets confusing when there are 3 Mums and 2 Grans in the kitchen all at the same time.)

Anyway, what would normally take an hour took nearer to four yesterday, because I kept stopping and sighing, and sitting down and reading a bit of a newspaper or book, or flicking on the telly and sighing again at the shocking state of Saturday morning offerings (remember The Multi-Coloured Swap Shop? The Banana Splits?? Puffenstuff???), and jotting down a couple of bits of random writing, and checking e-mail and making a cheesecake and listening to Radio 4 interspersed with Radio Kent...

...apparently, Britain could be heading for a triple dip recession. If we are, can I put in my order now, please? I'd like cheese and chive, garlic and onion and a nice double chocolate chip to finish, all served with sesame seed breadsticks. Thank you...

...and then I pottered into the garden to chicken chat, and then I cleared the rest of the snow and ice from the front path because I didn't want my Mum to go base over apex and fracture anything.

Then Pandora and I practised our act for Britain's Got Talent. I shall get Andy to video it for you and you can see what you think.

No pottering today, though. Today is a Kayleigh Day. I am off to collect her in a mo. We were going to Go Out For The Day, but it is wet and windy here thus far and the only thing on offer indoors in Kent appears to be an Arachnid and Insect Show at Ashford, and given Kayleigh flips at the sight of the mealworms (dead) that Primrose and Daisy have a handful of each day for protein, enormous spiders, giant millipedes and other weird-looking leggy montrosities are probably not the best idea for entertainment.

'Especially,' said Andy, 'as I am likely to scream like a girl, too.'

Friday, 25 January 2013

How To Make Your Head Hurt...

...aside from the obvious, like banging it on an open cupboard door, or trying to remember how to do Maths when you thought the last time you would ever have to do Maths EVER again was when you finished your O level exam 31 years ago, well, the other way is to read all the bumff that goes with trying to register yourself as self-employed with HMRC. (Is the Queen self-employed? Does she have to pay her NI contributions and fill out a self-assessment twice a year? Does she claim back the tax on her Corgi food?)

So, this is what I have been doing this afternoon. To be honest, I have probably read a little bit more than I needed to, given that my self-employed status is going to be very simple i.e tutoring as and where I can find it (unless, of course, the three book novel writing deal comes in), and I am anticipating not even reaching the lower levels of income tax liability let alone being able to claim for things like stationery, petrol and lunch time jollies to Pret a Manger.

The registration form, once I had found the correct one to fill in ('Do NOT fill in this form if you are a fisherman,' etc) was very simple. The only bit that flummoxed me was the bit where I was asked the name of my company. My company? Well, my company at this moment in time are Tybalt (frying his head on the radiator), Phoebe (frying her head on the electric heater) and Pandora (frying her head on my backside and thus preventing me from sitting back in the chair properly, having to perch on the front instead so I don't squish the kitty because the kitty rules).

I don't have a name for my company. It is just me. And as the box was not highlighted by a compulsory information red asterisk, I left it blank. I only hope the Inland Revenue don't call and demand I give my company a name because it will lead to undue pressure, then panic and a stupid name like Testy Tutoring Dot Com being plucked randomly from the air.

I have done some writing this morning. But then I got stuck, and was staring into space and thinking that Hugely Perky was a great name for a character. And when things like that happen, it is best to stand back from the keyboard and do something else instead.

Reading next. Because us self-employed people can!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Awesome Roasties, Deux Oeufs and Other Things

Now, firstly, Primrose has again today laid two eggs. I Googled 'can hens lay 2 eggs in a day?' and Google said 'yes' and then Andy pointed out that of course they can because Primrose does, and we have the proof because it is what made me do the Google in the first place, and I felt a bit of a fool because when he put it like that, it just went to show how my thinking brain backfires sometimes...doh!

Secondly, I have been pushing along the story of Minerva Thing today. I managed another thousand words, but it was a bit of an effort, except one bit which I felt was goodish; I suspect that I shall be cutting most of what I wrote today, but such is the writing process. What is really bothering me is that it is turning into a murder mystery, a genre that has never connected with me before, even as a reader. I tried an Ian Rankin once, and even managed to finish it, but it was very irritating, and it was very obvious who dunnit. This could mean, of course, that I have a latent detective mind and maybe murder mystery could be my 'thing' (or Minerva's 'thing' Ahahahahahahahaha!). Time will tell.

(You might be wondering about my odd choice of surname for my anti-heroine. But there is method in my selection as there is a Thing in my ancestry. My great-great-great-great-great grandmother was Elizabeth Thing, marrying Christopher Hallpike in 1814. They lived in Clerkenwell, London. There are other Things in my history, but here is neither the time, the place nor the appropriateness to go into them. Maybe when I am a famous writer and need the injection of a good scandal to boost publicity...)

Thirdly, since when did roast potatoes become 'roasties'? Stop it...NOW! A roast potato is a roast potato. It is not a roastie. Nothing is a 'roastie.' It is a made up marketing work, laziness in the extreme, and unless it has anything to do with Shakespeare I do not want to know. Roast potato, do you hear me? Roast potato!

And whilst we are talking extremities, cease and desist with the 'awesomes' too. I can slightly understand teenagers using the word 'awesome' as a colloquialism, because they are teenagers and often use words out of context, but when adults start using it to describe something which is basically just ordinary or maybe just a little bit good, well, again...STOP IT! Over the top! Unnecessary! Sets my teeth on edge! (Like misuse of the word legend...'and here, in the studio tonight, the legendary explorer Sir David Attenborough.' He isn't legendary! He is there, in front of you. Look...he exists. Reach out and touch him. Not legendary. Now...try and reach out and touch King Arthur...see, you can't...he is legendary...and dead...)


Monday, 21 January 2013

Murder Most Horrid

Well, I have been writing pretty much all day so far, with periodic breaks for tea, soup and toast, jogging on the spot in an effort to avoid deep vein thrombosis, glances out the window at the hens and the snow and the ominous clouds and the snow, and the snow and the snow, and chewing the edge of my woolly shawl in ponderous thought, and checking my email and the blog of a friend in South-West France who is currently tolerating some pretty scary and fearsome looking flooding on her smallholding and I am concerned that she and her hubbie and their assorted menagerie are going to become a modern-day Noah's Ark.

Anyway, in between all that I have been writing. You see, I started a story a couple of weeks ago. It heaved its way to around 800 miserly words, then ground to a halt. I was a bit annoyed because when the thought for the story materialised I was very excited about it, which is usually a sign for it being a go-er. But it turned out it wasn't, and I got tense with it, hence the dive into the knitting displacement activity.

And then, in the early hours of this morning, when I was suffering the effects of too much potato consumption over the weekend, I suddenly had another idea involving the main character from the story, but putting her in a different situation and killing off her irritating niece who was buttering her up for a pair of £200 designer jeans. And so far this change has resulted in the banging out of nearly 4,000 words!

Now, you might think I should be rightly pleased with this progress, and I am but the problem is that I think this character is turning into a murderess. Yes, indeed. Minerva Thing (for that is her name) might, just might, have murdered her brother. I don't know yet. I hadn't intended for him to be murdered. He is dead, because he tried to retrieve a tobacco tin from a road and got hit in the head by a passing car, but then, as the story unfolded, it suddenly became clear to me during the post-mortem, that he, Clive, might have sustained a fatal injury BEFORE he got hit by the car. Of course, 'twas the car wot did for 'im to your casual bystander, BUT I think there may have been something suspicious occurring beforehand.

I had reached the point where Min has just broken down the door to his study (she is a substantial character - no messing with Minerva Thing) and I don't know what she is going to find. I had to stop and do some medical research into subarachnoid haemorrhage, its causes and effects, and my research has brought me very much to the conclusion that there is more to the death of Clive Thing than would first appear.

Well, Min is waiting for the decorators to arrive. Not sure how she is going to explain the broken study door to them, or to DS Phillips who is going to make a visit around tea time.

But then that's the fun thing about writing - you never know quite where it's going to take you!

Snow Hens

No tutoring today, as the school is closed for snow. So, your intrepid reporter ventured into the snowy wastes of the back garden here at MMM to interview Hens of the Antarctic aka Primrose and Daisy.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Happy Winterness!

'Put me down immediately!' says Primrose.

I am holding her aloft and singing, 'The Circle of Life' from the Lion King.

'I am not a lion cub and you are not a Lion King!' shrieks Primrose. 'Plus I am getting vertigo and I may just be sick, which, from up here, will not bode well for you.'

I place Primrose on terra firma. I carry on singing though, because I have had a jolly good week. Heeding the advice of a friend, who knows and understands my disposition of becoming miserable in mid-winter because it is cold and wet and dark, I have made determined attempts to 'keep cheerful' and 'fight the S.A.D' by a) making myself go for long walks and ruffling the heads of dogs that are walking in the park b)enjoying some unexpected temporary part-time tutoring work that has popped up from a school I used to work at and c) knitting of an evening, and listening to entertaining stuff on the radio.

Thus, I have made it a week closer to Spring with a smile on my face, half a stone lighter, a few quid richer and a frog and half a woolly hippo in hand.

Yesterday, before I went off for a spot o' tutoring in a nice warm room with lovely people who make me tea on a regular basis and provide me with pleasant, but disadvantaged children who need a bit of extra help with English and Maths (yes, I have even been tutoring Maths - would've have thought it?!) I collected an egg from the pod. Primrose usually does her egg first thing, and Daisy does hers mid-morning. Anyway, I collected a Primrose egg, and went off to work.

Arriving home just after lunchtime, I went to change the hens' water as it has been freezing over during the day and needs constant attention. And there, beside the water bowl, was an egg.

'Who has been laying eggs alfresco?' I said.
'Wasn't me,' said Daisy, and I was inclined to believe her because her eggs are slightly larger and much paler in colour than this one, here by the waterbowl, sitting in the snow. Primrose looked sheepish.
'Well, ' she said, 'I inadvertently sat on the freezing ground and it startled me and one popped out.'
'But you've already done an egg today,' I said.
'I know,' said Primrose. 'Aren't I good value for money?'
'You are,' I said. 'Well done, you!'

And I collected a Daisy egg from the nest box and thought, 'Two hens + 24 hours = and 3 eggs = excellent and probably an omelette!'

So today I wasn't expecting a Primrose egg...BUT...she did one anyway, same time as usual.

What a gal!

At the moment they are both pottering around the garden in the pitiful layer of snow we've had in the last 24 hours whilst the rest of the country is floundering in several inches of the stuff. Andy is v. upset and is offsetting the disappointment by going on a baking spree - bread, and a banana and butterscotch cake. They (the hens, not Andy) are rejecting the fresh bowl of wobbly water I provided in favour of the bowl of stiff water aka ice, which they are pecking at with great intent and no doubt suffering brain-freeze as a result. They might have good egg laying power, but I wonder and despair of their brain power sometimes.

And I am off to do some more knitting, listen to some more radio, maybe read a bit of a book or two. Wherever you are, I hope you are keeping warm and happy, too.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

For Sale...

...one husband, ridiculously excited at the prospect of snow arriving tomorrow, so much so that if he looks out the window ONE MORE TIME to see if it's snowing yet, wife might dispense with any monetary charges and give husband away free, gratis and for nothing. In fact, she might just deliver him personally to successful the bidder, along with assorted gaming equipment including an ancient piece of gaming tat which arrived home with him two days ago cunningly disguised as a puppy in a cardboard box. (I suspect that this computer system is the very first one ever invented. I am hoping that once it has been restored to its former glory, it will be worth a mint to a computer gaming museum and we shall be able to retire to our long yearned for smallholding in the countryside. One can but hope...)

Husband comes with proven baking ability and three tonnes of Doctor Who accessories.

Kind to animals except when he has to wrestle them into submission in order to administer medicine. Excellent cartoonist. No spatial awareness. Seller will, therefore, not be responsible for subsequent breakages. She might say, 'I told you so.'

There is no snow, dear. Not even rain, dear. (Ahahahahahahahaha!!) I shall be very surprised if any snow of significant snowman building quantity arrives at all. I, personally, do not want snow because I have longed reached the age where I consider it to be a huge and messy inconvenience (although it will be an excuse for me to wear my furry Cossack hat.)

And please try to remember that you have a 1 following the 4 of your age which should make a big difference to your reaction to the idea, nay, the event of snowfall.

And that I love you, you snow - crazy, Doctor Whoverian, retro-gamer crazy person, you! Xxx

Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Muffin Man

'I am having trouble getting my muffin dough to rise,' Andy announces as we set off for our morning constitutional around the lake in the park across the way.
'Is that a euphemism?' I chortle, because the word 'muffin' always sounds, to me, slightly lewd and worthy of an immature snigger.
'No,' says Andy, who, since he discovered baking, has been taking the whole process very seriously as only a scientist can. (Unlike moi who follows the 'chuck-it-in-and-see-what -happens method of culinary concoction.) It's all exact proportions and exact temperatures and weighing and tapping and shaping and walloping and not letting things over prove or flolloping will occur.

After a couple of weeks of sticking to basic white loaf making - very nice basic white loaf I might add - Andy has got back to baking proper this weekend. He has been 'off-bake' for a while because we have both put on weight, but then we both like cooking and baking and well, what can you do? Anyway, the call of the Bake Master overcame the humourless 'Slim Master' in a battle worthy of Admiral Beef of Wellington and Lord Cheese of Sandwich themselves, and Andy made a spelt and ale loaf yesterday, which was rather lovely. Today, he was grappling muffins. (Immature snort from your author.)

The thing with muffins, it seems, is that you have to plan ahead. You have to prepare the dough the night before the day you want them. It is a very sticky dough. Very pale, too. A bit like a consumptive Dickensian heroine. Seems to me like a lot of faff, but then muffin making is a scientific process for which I have not the patience, nor, given its paleness and floppidity, the sympathy.

And with it being very cold and Wintery at the moment (12 flakes of snow today) the muffins, whilst proving, remained resolutely flat. Round, but flat.

Andy glared at them, but even the heat from his eyeballs did nothing to raise their dander. Eventually, his rising patience exhausted, he put them in the oven, and they turned out very well. Very muffiny. (Titter!) I wondered if he was expecting something too spectacular on the rising front, especially after the spelt and ale bread made a show yesterday that would have put Quatermass to shame. But I could tell the Master Baker Muffin Man was unhappy with the result.

I suspect more Much Malarkey Muffin Mania may be in the offing.

And what did I do this weekend?

I knitted a frog.

No, I wouldn't ask either!

Friday, 11 January 2013

This Was The Week

End of the Week Observations...

1) there are bluebells poking their shiny green shoots from the earth in the front garden...hurrah!

2) Daisy Hen laid her first egg yesterday. She seemed mildly surprised by the event, but managed another today, so seems to have accepted the activity as part of her chicken loveliness.

3) it has suddenly got VERY cold - snow predicted, but I suspect this is pathetic South England scaremongering. Still, I am well stocked up with loo rolls, baked beans and bread making flour.

4) I have discovered that if I hang all my clothes properly on their hangers, I can get actually close my wardrobe door without putting a foot to it.

5) I have been offered some temporary small group tutoring for four or five weeks at a local school which should take me nicely into my impending tutoring job in February.

6) the loft seems to have mysteriously refilled itself despite our heroic efforts last year to empty it.

7) if you allow your granddaughter too near your 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle during the day, you will suddenly find, on completing the puzzle in the evening, the aforesaid puzzle has only 999 pieces.

8) I have survived 'Death by Cat on the Stairs' at least 4 times this week.

9) my new book about textile design arrived yesterday - and a) it has a lovely fuzzy cover which is much deserving of stroking and b) I am very excited about having a go at a textile design project in order to find my unique inner designer.

10) I don't half write some rubbish sometimes...well, a lot of the time...

11)... and then sometimes I write something which I think, 'Cor, that was good. If I was famous, someone would publish that.'

12) Andy and I have invented a new exercise programme called 'Robics.' Basically, it harnesses the medium of mime to convey the start of a word which can be suffixed with 'robic.' For example, sitting in a chair is 'chairobics,' ruffling your head is 'hairobics', waving your arms in the air and shouting 'ggrrrrrrr!' is 'bearobics' and doing a song and dance routine is 'Fred Astairobics.' We came up with about 15 permutations this evening (starobics, flareobics, thererobics, glarerobics, pairobics, you get the idea) then we ran out of alphabet, rhyming skills and the ability to engage in clever lateral thinking. I doubt we burned up more than 3 calories either, but it made us laugh. Heather appeared in the living room half way through, and backed out slowly, saying, 'I'm not even going to ask.'

Have a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Writing Fodder

As a writer, one is always ear-wigging and eye-peeping for juicy bits of info and observations as fodder for stories, character studies etc. And this is what I gleaned on a mooch around town today.

Overheard in C & H Fabrics when I was having a ruffle through the fabric remnants bin. A middle-aged man, balding, fair bit of stubble, evidence of a stomach that likes it food, was on his mobile phone to a friend...

'Yeah, mate...yeah...just 'ad me eyebrows threaded...yeah, get some sun block...SPF 15... just a little tube. For your nose. Dave got second degree burns last January in Austria.'

A tall lady walking a very tall and unusual breed of dog, clearly performing some kind of socialisation exercise...

'I've introduced him to 5 people this morning and he hasn't bitten a single one.'

A teen girl trying to convince a middle-age woman on the benefits of designer clothing...

'Of course, two hundred pounds is a lot of money for jeans, but you'd never need to buy another pair as long as you live.'

And my favourite newspaper story of the day...

...the residents of a town in America who are holding a prayer, music and poetry vigil following the shooting by police of their 'pet' elk. The words 'cooking' and 'taxidermy' also featured in the report. The two police officers involved are under investigation.

And finally, the best extract from a book by a proper writer, Mr Terry Pratchett...

'A gent tried to ply me with liquor once, but he ran out of money.'

Monday, 7 January 2013


Here I am, sitting my arty-crafty writing room, day all planned out. I've planned it out to make sure I have purpose and rigour to my day and don't wander aimlessly as one is wont to do on these grim January days, staring into space, playing stupid computer games and, even worse, getting sucked into day-time TV. So, I've already seen to the cats and the hens, done some housework, checked e-mail and got the household accounts up-to-date. And done a bit of reading.

And from now until 12.30 I am writing. Got two ideas on the go at the moment. Both need my attention lest my brain bursts.

At 12.30 I shall have some lunch and read - 1 hour - then go for a brisk walk.

Should be home by 2.30 and then I shall do something arty-crafty. Either sewing, or knitting, or making cards.

At 5 I shall start getting dinner ready. Do a bit more housework. Eat dinner, tidy up, chat with Andy about his day.

Then I've got three hours-ish of the evening where I shall read/jigsaw puzzle/ do a bit more sewing (because if I get into sewing it all becomes a bit frantic and obsessive) or maybe do some more writing (ditto sewing). I shall stop for half an hour at 9 p.m to watch 'Miranda' on the telly because she makes me laugh.

And how is it that I can have such a lovely day? Because I am no longer a teacher! Today, my previous colleagues are back at school for the start of a new term. They are having a staff training day. At this exact moment they are sitting in a cold school hall being lectured about how to keep today's generation of children engaged by using the latest all-singing-all-dancing methodologies. They are being told to do this, do that, do the other, tick several (pointless) boxes, fill out lesson plans, analyse their very existence and then write a six page report on it. I expect the word 'Ofsted' has been mentioned at least a dozen times by now, along with 'performance management' and 'data analysis'.

And I can feel the rumblings of discontent, the mutterings of unfairness, the gurglings of irrationality tainting their atmosphere.

I am here. Writing. Listening to interesting stuff on the radio. If I want a cup of tea, to nip to the loo, to get up and dance around in a wild and hippy fashion, then, well...I can!

I have freedom!

Of course, freedom doesn't pay very well. You can't pump up your bank balance with the income from freedom. But freedom produces profits of a more valuable kind...

...a calmer mind...
...better sleep...
...time to be creative...to enjoy life...
...happy face...
...reduced stress...

Of course, there are still pressures. Got to be careful with the money until I start my part-time tutoring work, hopefully next month. Got to keep motivated to keep writing and SEND STUFF OFF and NOT BE COWED BY REJECTION. Got to keep writing myself a plan for each day to make sure I use time effectively and productively. Got to start taking risks and seeing just what is out there beyond the very limiting world of being in full-time paid employment.

But, ooooh, the freedom! I am so lucky.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Little visitors

So, last Saturday, we had a house viewing. It was the couple who booked to view about four weeks ago and failed to turn up. They also failed to tell the estate agent so they couldn't tell us so we sat in the house twiddling our thumbs.

They were 20 minutes late for this appointment - 'Took us a while to get through town. Traffic was bad,' they said.
'Traffic? In town? On a Saturday?? Who'd have thought it???' I was very inclined to mutter but didn't because, well, they might not know the area. Instead, I said, 'Did you travel very far?'

No, it turned out. A small village about twenty minutes drive away. Where they had lived for 11 years. I was already not liking these people, and especially the woman of the pair because a) her mobile phone kept going off and b) she appeared to be wearing some kind of dead rabbit fur boots.

And Pandora didn't like them either (the people, not the boots), which is unusual because Pandora is a bit of a tart when it comes to visitors. But she shot off as soon as she clapped eyes on them, and I wished I could do the same.

Anyway, we showed them around and listened to a variety of stupid comments about boilers punctuated with her answering her mobile phone and having shouty conversations with someone who was apparently her son.

And then we listened to her going on about how they were putting their own house on the market on Monday; that they didn't want to start selling their house too soon because it was 'in such a popular area' and therefore would sell 'very quickly' and they wanted to find somewhere to move to before their 'very popular' type of house sold 'very quickly,' and by now I was thinking, I hope your feffing house sits on the market for years and years and you end up selling it for £3.50. Now get out of my home, and take your tatty rabbit fur boots with you. And get off your stupid mobile phone, you social incompetent.

Which wasn't very charitable, and went immediately against my New Year Resolution to be more patient and kind with irritating people, but there you go - I am human and these people enraged me to the point or irrationality.

I had already made up my mind that I didn't want these people to have our house, and if they wanted it that badly they would have to pay handsomely for it i.e at least half a million of our fine English pounds. And if they did pay that, it would just confirm their idiocy, but Andy and I would be laughing all the way to a smallholding in the countryside.

But they didn't want the house. They liked the house, but it wasn't in the right area and the garden was too small, circumstances both beyond our control. And I can't say I was disappointed, because I wasn't.

Anyway, three days later, I noticed Pandora was behaving rather strangely. More strangely than usual. She'd be sitting on my lap, or on the back of the sofa, or in the windowsill, and then she would suddenly jump, and shoot off like a crazy thing...

'...like she's been bitten by something,' I said, when reporting the Pandora strangeness to Andy, because he is the vet and knows about peculiar animals.

Well, Andy did exactly the same. He jumped up from his man-chair, in which he had been reclining, shot off into the kitchen, and then returned, stood in the doorway, hands on hips, and announced in a flamboyant and dramatic way...

'Fleas! We have got fleas in the house!'

'What??' said I. 'How?'
'I've just checked Phoebe, and she's got flea-dirt on her,' said Andy. 'I expect she picked them up when I took her in for her operation.'

Well, I don't believe this for one moment. For one, Phoebe had her operation a month ago and nothing flea-ish had been noted before.  And for two, she'd been in for two other operations last year and ne'er a flea in sight. And for three, I was thinking, 'Rabbit fur boots.' In fact, I said. 'Rabbit fur boots. It was those bl**dy boots that bl**dy woman was wearing.' And for four...well. nothing...but it sounded funny as I was writing it.

Andy conceded the boots could have been a flea carrier. 'I'll bring home some treatment for the cats and the carpets tomorrow,' he said, and then he sighed a bit because I was in full fuming rant about people not arriving for viewings, then arriving late for viewings, then getting all hoity-toity and pretentious about selling their house quickly and then spreading fleas around via the media of manky rabbit fur boots.

Yesterday, the cats were flea-treated, which meant Tybalt and Pandora didn't speak to me for at least three hours afterwards as I had to pin them down while Andy did the deed. And before we went to bed, Andy sprayed all the carpets with some insecticide stuff which I thought smelled okay, but when I got up for a loo visit in the wee small hours (note to self - STOP DRINKING A PINT OF ICED WATER HALF AN HOUR BEFORE BEDTIME, YOU IDIOT) decided it smelled bloomin' awful and gave me a sore throat.

And the moral of this story - 'Big visitors in rabbit fur boots may leave you with little visitors too tiny to shoot.'

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Did it!

I have got a headache...this is my third blog of today...I have acquired, along the way, a Google+ account, a You Tube account, a Google Chrome account - none of which I particularly wanted...I have applied dogged persistence in order to attach this faffing video to this faffing blog and I, a mere woman of low techno-capability, have done it!

Return to my first blog of the day entitled 'Moving image' because the video is now there, and I DEMAND that you all watch it if only because it marks the day - today - that Denise took on and beat the Internet!


Well, I made a video, I tried to blogpost the video, and then Andy tried to blogpost the video before I threw my I-pad at the wall because blogger wasn't having it.

And somehow, somewhere it has vanished into the ether. It appears not on the blog. It is on Google + and I know people have seen it in the last couple of hours because it has already gathered 3 'likes', ( which in a world population of some 300 billion or whatever it is now is pretty dire I know) but where they are seeing it and how they are seeing it I do not know because I can't even see it on my own blog and it's all a bit FRUSTRATING!

And it just goes to show that technology isn't all that after all, and is also very careless because it has lost something I created within seconds of me handing it over. Ha!

Anyway, Andy is having another go at sorting it out. I am sitting on the sofa sulking when I should be getting some plans down on paper about a story idea I've had entitled 'Aunt Min.' And it is raining AGAIN despite the so-called forecasters saying we were in for two weeks of 'cold and frosty' and me, on the strength of their forecast, doing loads of washing this morning which I now can't hang out to dry.

It's enough to send a girl INSANE!!!

Moving Image

Now, although I have had my I-pad for a goodly few months now, it has taken me a while to work out the ENORMOUS breadth of its functions. And today I though, 'let's have a go at making a video for the blog!' So I did. And this is it. I apologise for its content, for the occasional finger over the lens, for my blotchy Winter leg, and for the muddy mess that is our back garden.

However, I thought it might be fun for you to meet Daisy and Primrose in person...chicken...for real...oh, you know what I mean.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Welcome 2013!

Usually, I don't sit up to see in the New Year. I mean, it'll be there in the morning, won't it? No need for me to be there, tooting my hooter and yodelling Auld Lang Syne. And I need my sleep. By ten o'clock I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open.

But yesterday, I did sit up. I was wide awake. I was a-filling in my diaries (two this year - one practical, one spiritual), I was doing a bit of reading, a bit of jigsaw puzzling and Andy was making pancakes. At midnight, we were dancing in a highly groovy 'n' funky manner, bopping and weaving around our little living room, throwing some happenin' shapes and generally getting a bit silly and giggly. ( Bnbbb...sorry, that was Pandora, treading on my I-pad screen. I have no idea what 'Bnbbb' means - probably some feline New Year greeting like 'May all your sardines be fresh.' Anyway, she's sitting on my feet now. And thus I continue....)

So, having greeted the New Year, I went to bed, slept like a log, got up with the sun and had scrambled eggs (thank you Primrose!) and mushrooms for breakfast. Andy went jogging, but then he had been drinking last night and I hadn't, so you figure who has the most brain cells left!

And then it was time to crack on with my traditional New Year's Day activity - denude the house of Christmas decorations, my thinking being that this is 2013 and Christmas, therefore, is sooooo last year.

Now, the Christmas tree was a cut one. Sans roots. And, despite being watered, it has been looking a bit - how shall I say? - brittle for a few days. Whilst Andy trotted off to do some on-line veterinary study course because he is very good like that and spends his time productively, I trotted off to deal with the brittle tree.

I looked at it. It looked at me. Normally it would be a case of removing tinsel and baubles, and wrestling tree outside in one piece, with maybe a few pine needles lost en route. But this tree? Well, it was daring me to take it out in one trip. It was saying, 'Touch me, and I shall drop every single needle I have immediately in a massive pine avalanche. Go on, I dare you. Touch me and feel the force.'

Hmmm...several thoughts went through my mind. Put tree in an enormous bag? Call the tree's bluff and drag it outside regardless as per usual? Leave it standing in the corner of the room until we move house and it'll be someone else's problem? I reached out a tentative finger and lay it gently on the very end of the tip of a branch. Six thousand needles immediately descended to the floor, making the sound of a tiny waterfall as they went.

This was a job for the secateurs, the big hoover, the little hoover, the dust pan and brush and a bin bag.

And thus I spent an hour this morning pruning a tree into nothingness, and hoovering and sweeping the remains from our living room one branch at a time. Ye Gods, talk about being stopped in your hit-the-ground-running tracks!

And my New Year Resolutions?

1) Write more, preferably 4 best-selling novels of critical acclaim.
2) Smuggle at least 2 more kittens, three more hens and a small dog into the house without anyone noticing.
3) Stop swearing in traffic.
4) Say something pretentious every day.
5) Move into a large Georgian manor with 5 acres of land so Perpetua and Fergus can have a pony each (that's dealt with Resolution number 4 already - aren't I good??!!)
6) Stop using the end of Tybalt's tail as a comedy moustache.
7) Start doing Zumba and take the hens with me (their idea, not mine. I'm not sure how chicken proof a dance floor is.)
8) Become obsessed with doing jigsaw puzzles so I'll have something to give up in 2014.

Wishing you all, my lovely MMM houseguests, a very Happy, Peaceful and Prosperous New Year!