Thursday, May 31, 2012

Oddities

1. Driving to Mumbles the other day I spotted 4 swans swimming on the sea - and for once I didn't have my camera.


2. The garage we stopped at on the edge of Swansea has been refurbished with a Deli2Go and on the window are listed all the goodies it offers including basil. Of all the things one might buy in a deli in a garage basil isn't the first that comes to mind.


3. We saw a wing walker the day after hearing someone on the television talk about one. Not particularly interesting but a coincidence.


4. A country fair near Daughter's village in Devon advertises as one of its star attractions the Essex Dog Team. I can just see them, can't you? All bling and fake tans.


5. Two people I know have recently seen a man chewing a lamp-post. The same lamp-post so one suspects the same man.


6. And my favourite. One of the signs on the M4 tells people to leave at the next junction if they want to get to the Oracle. I love the idea of a long-haired, tattily-clothed hermit living in a cave wondering why all these people keep turning up and asking him to give them answers.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Goodbye Baz

Totally awesome. Words that are used frequently and often inaccurately these days (by the young at least) but yesterday lived up to them.


The hearse borrowed from Hell's Angels
The M4, back as far as you can see, filled with bikers. Outriders from different clubs went ahead and closed slip roads and junctions.
Me next to Gar's bike in jacket borrowed from Husband and helmet borrowed from Ric.
It was incredible and an honour to be part of Baz's funeral cortège.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

getting ready to say goodbye

It's Baz's funeral this afternoon.


I just dropped off some cake at Zac's and already the street is littered with bikes and bikers, some of whom have travelled from Australia, Germany, Finland, Ireland and even England to be here. Baz was a much loved and well-respected man.




The coffin is in Zac's and his children have left a half-drunk glass of beer and a cigarette on it. I love that touch.


My excitement today will be riding pillion on Gareth's bike in the funeral cortege! I've been invited as an honorary 'biker' for the day and I even have a batman helmet. There will be no stopping me now ...

Monday, May 28, 2012

God-panic

If you're going to have a God-panic the last time you want it is at 11.30 at night.


I was in bed listing the people I wanted God to bless, be with, help etc, and it occurred to me that there were a lot of them. 'How can you do all of this?' I said, meaning it as a joke but then the ridiculousness of it struck. How can God be everywhere and know everything? It's rubbish.


Now every so often I get these thoughts and they usually pass quickly but last night they struck with a stomach-grippingness. 'Do I really believe this? How can I? It's impossible.' The last time I felt this bad was very shortly after I became a Christian and I remember the struggle, and the conversation I had with a wise man at the time. I tried to do again what he had suggested: bring God down to size, that is, think of Jesus the man. When I think of him it's easy. Usually. Last night that trick didn't work so well.


I considered the impact of what it would mean if I lost my faith. Most of what I do would become meaningless; I'd have to stop. And, yes, much of my self-worth/ego is derived from who I am as a Christian; if I lost that I would lose far more than somewhere to go of a Sunday. I want to believe; I don't want to lose my support, foundation - or crutch if you prefer.


I once chose to believe, to believe the stories of Jesus are true, to believe he died and rose again. And it's that decision I hang on to sometimes when my brain says it's nonsense. It's what I'm clinging to now.


It's nothing to do with Baz's death or anything in particular I'm sure and I still choose to believe in spite of doubts and uncertainties. I'm not an emotional person; I don't expect to feel anything. Sometimes I wish I could feel more. I see others moved by what they see or hear and freely expressing that emotion and I envy them but I have to tell myself that feelings don't last. And feelings can be deceptive.


My faith is both rational, in that it's a decision I've made, and irrational, in that I can see the nonsensical side of it. 


This must sound like a confused post and it is I suppose but it's okay, nothing's changed. Just a little wobble. Nothing God can't deal with.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Interesting food day 2

Salmon tray bake with asparagus and Anya potatoes. All cooked in one pot and very tasty. From the Sainsburys magazine.
Followed this the next day with lasagne and then with an orange chicken and root veg tray bake, again from a Sainsburys magazine, which was okay but too orangey for my taste. Won't have that again.

Friday already

Is it really Friday already? Where has the week gone? It's been a week since I last blogged so what have I been doing?


Can't remember really. In Devon Wednesday and Thursday, in work today, in Zac's on Tuesday when Sean came the closest I've ever seen to being punched in the face by a belligerent drunk. But as he - Sean not the drunk - said, 'No riot squad, no police. A good night really.'


A chaotic evening, a mix of barely repressed frustration and anger, a poignant father and son moment, a mug of hot coffee in a face, grief, exhaustion and desperate need mingling with humour and wry acceptance.


Church, Jim, but not as we know it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The bung, the garlic and the gas lighter

I hope I'm never alone and in an accident and the police have to go through my handbag to find out who I am. They wouldn't find any id but they might find:
cystitis remedy, not needed at the moment but I was taught to be prepared;
a compass, ditto, although I'm not sure that knowing where north is would necessarily help someone who gets disorientated in her own kitchen;
pritt stick because I was brought up on Blue Peter and it's the next best thing to sticky-backed plastic, 
garlic, obviously in case of vampires;
2 gas lighters, because one doesn't work;
and a chair leg bung.

I'd have a hard job explaining the chair leg bung ...


Disappointed of Mumbles

We went out for dinner last night after I'd decided life's too short to not enjoy yourself. We went to a seafood restaurant in Mumbles and, looking through the menu, I couldn't help but notice the Desserts page and the first item on it which was home-made vanilla panna cotta and hardened caramel. 'I'm having that!'

For starters I had sardines and they were fine and I followed that with sea bass on a bed of lemon and saffron risotto. Well, the fish was good but the risotto was tasteless and the vegetables weren't very hot. In fact the meal was so disappointing that I couldn't even be bothered to have pudding! That's how disappointed I was.

So I was thinking about restaurants and how, unless you go to a really good one, you don't often get much better than you can at home: we'd had lovely sea bass and roast vegetables earlier in the week. And this seafood restaurant wasn't cheap, definitely too expensive for what you got. And that maybe you're better off going to a pizza or curry place where you know what to expect, you get plenty, it's reasonably priced and the standard is good for what it is.

With that in mind I resolved to be more creative with my cooking and sat down with some magazines - before I went shopping, the crucial word being before - and planned some meals and bought for them accordingly. So tonight we had spicy beef, shitake and aubergine stir fry - and very lovely it was. Not very spicy but certainly a 'we can have that again' meal. It even looked like the picture in the BBC Good Food magazine!
And now I have to go and make custard to go with the rhubarb crumble that Husband said we had to have as:
a) we have lots of rhubarb;
b) we have lots of milk.

Over easy does it

Husband has reached chapter 5 in my novel. He said, 'Does it get better?'
He tried to explain it away by saying, 'Well, I'm familiar with the things that are happening; do other things happen?' but it was too late. I will remind him of what he said when I am rich and famous ...


Like Jasper Fforde. I avoided his books for a long time because they looked a bit weird and I thought they'd be hard to read. It turns out they're not weird at all if you can accept that nursery rhyme and literary characters exist in today's world. If you can get past that then they're just detective stories and good ones at that. Very funny and clever in a proper way, not in the way the Sunday broadsheet critics mean i.e. way above my head.


I've read two in the Nursery Crimes Division series: The Big Over Easy and The Fourth Bear and I'd like to share my favourite line from each book. We borrowed The Fourth Bear from the library and I don't have it now so I can only give you my version of the line. It's so obvious it's amazing that it hasn't been used before, in fact, it probably has but I've not heard it. Anyway it goes something like this:
'Constable Smith is in hospital and he's critical.'
'Critical?!'
'Yes, the food's terrible and the bed's hard.'


Then in The Big Over Easy, Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and Sergeant Mary Mary are investigating a murder and the victim's girlfriend says, 'I've loved him, Inspector, like no woman ever loved an egg before.' (Yes, Humpty Dumpty's the victim and you would not believe what happened to him!)

Friday, May 18, 2012

My sports injury

Because of George's antics on Monday evening we missed our regular circuit training so we went last night to make up for it. 


Warming up, side-stepping merrily across the hall, I tripped over my own foot and went down CRASH onto the floor. It was so loud I feared I had cracked the concrete. Then came the inevitable:
Oh no, how embarrassing! (ooh, ah) must get up quickly. (oh the pain) must make it look as if it were just a tiny (oooeeerr) tumble (ooohh) 'No, I'm fine.' (Oh, everything hurts) 'Honestly, it was nothing, I'm fine' (I must have broken something) 'No, really, I am' must smile, make it look like (oh, I don't know what hurts most) nothing hurts ... 'no, it was my own stupid fault' ... keep going (oarh) only about 50 minutes to go.


I couldn't maintain the pretence though. When I was unable to hold a weight in my hand I had to admit that, yes, my hand did hurt somewhat but, no, I was sure nothing was broken and I'd be fine.
Jules gave me an ice pack to take home with me and made me promise to go for an x-ray if it was worse in the morning. 


It's much better now though although I still can't pick up a teapot. 


The good thing about it was that everyone else in class had already turned and was facing the other direction when I tripped. There's something to be said for being a slowcoach.


It's Ric's fault anyway. On Tuesday he commented that I'd had a less than usually calamitous week. Of course I disputed the suggestion that I ever have anything other than a non-calamitous week, which, apart from not being strictly true, jinxed me.
Or it was George's fault for disturbing my routine. Anyone else I can blame for my stupidity?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

In which I display mulishness

Like everyone Baz had his good and bad points. One of my bad points is my tendency to mulishness. 


Since Di has been working away I've spent a bit of time behind the counter at Zac's. Most of the time it's fine but every so often something - or more usually someone - gets my back up. One of those triggers was present last night. Our guest asked, in passing the counter, for a cup of coffee. 'Cup of coffee, two sugars.' To be brought to the table obviously - because of a bad leg.
Once served the guest started on the cake then called out to me, 'Get me a napkin.'
I looked on and under the counter. 'None here, sorry.'
'Get one from the kitchen.'
I carried on serving coffee.
'Give me a napkin, will you?'
'None here, sorry.'
'Get one from the kitchen.'
I ignored the shout for as long as possible thengrinding my teeth, went to look in the kitchen. 
'Sorry, none there.'
'Give me a carrier bag then.'
I looked under the counter. 'None here, sorry.'
'There'll be one in the kitchen; get me one.'
By this point, the sky would have to have fallen in before I was going to look for a carrier bag for this guest. I'm happy to serve but I'm nobody's slave. My back starts to prickle at the first demand even though I know our guest has huge mental health problems - and/or is possibly just plain rude.

RIP Baz

It was a sad night in Zac's.


At about 5 there was an urgent prayer message: Baz had collapsed and was having CPR. He died just before 6.


Baz and his wife, Di, were long-time Zaccers; almost from its inception they'd been around, supporting Sean. Di took her place behind the counter and served mug after mug of tea and coffee while Baz, he was just Baz, an integral part of the picture. 
25th anniversary
When I first started going to Zac's Baz really annoyed me. (I told him this at a later date.) It appeared that everyone he spoke to either became a Christian or was healed of some disease, and he frequently shared these stories as part of the Tuesday evenings. As someone who's never 'brought a brother to the Lord' it drove me mad. But soon I learned to love Baz to bits.


One of the vital and missed roles he played was that of 'bouncer'. If someone was getting a bit noisy and disruptive, Baz would say, 'Let's go outside and have a fag,' and they'd disappear until the study was over or the disruptee had calmed down. I say missed because we already missed him: he and Di trained last year to be security guards and since then they've spent most of their time working, a lot of it away, on turbine erecting sites for example. The last two weeks they've been in Lincolnshire, which is where Baz collapsed with, everyone is assuming, a heart attack.


So last night, instead of continuing with Mark's gospel, with everyone, especially Baz's brothers in God squad stunned, Sean read psalm 32 and we prayed for the family - and others in the Zac's family who've gone to join Teen Challenge in Scotland, a deliberately long way from Swansea, to try and fight their addiction.


So much pain and sorrow in so many lives. Baz made me smile, he drove me mad, I loved him.
By special request, Baz in his red shorts


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

One should always stay calm

Whoop, whoop! Going to be interviewed on BBC Radio Wales on 25th June in the afternoon on the Roy Noble Show. Charlotte, the radio producer, suggested the Swansea studio, which makes sense but it probably means I won't be able to see my interviewer, and that could be a bit disconcerting. Never mind, old pro like me, it'll be a doddle. (Too much sampling the rhubarb cake has made me dizzy with my own success.)


So that's: 
official book launch on Monday, 18th June in Oystermouth Library;
BBC Radio Wales interview on Monday, 25th June;
National Reading Group Day on Saturday, 30th June, when I'm speaking in Gowerton Library;
Kidwell-e Festival talk on Sunday, 29th July. 


I will not panic but model myself on the Queen and be dignified, controlled and immaculate. 


Must get in touch with that nice man on Swansea Sound to arrange to go back on there to promote paperback. And now I must get on with what I'm supposed to be getting on with i.e. publicity material for launch.

Sand in my sandwiches

Eating my prawns on Ryvita for lunch yesterday I was suddenly transported back to my childhood, eating sandwiches on Caswell bay. We never had prawns when I was growing up, or Ryvita for that matter, so I assume it must have been the vague sea smell of the prawns that did it. 
But it made me think of hard-boiled eggs and now I'm going to have have one for lunch.


Smells are very evocative. I can be whisked easily away on a scent. Sometimes I know I recognise it but I don't know why; other times it's as fresh and real as if it were today.


Lilac is in blossom at the moment. Every time I pass a lilac bush I have to stop and sniff it. It's surely one of the most under-rated perfumes.


What smells evoke memories for you?

A minor triumph

As I was walking George when I should have been in slimming class I decided I'd do some jogging. In short bursts - 10 walking 10 jogging. Seconds that is. As long as the path was flattish. And not too muddy or uneven. And there was no-one around.  So I did.


George hung back with a bemused 'What on earth are you doing, you stupid woman?' look on his face. When I reached the top of the hill and was still panting even though I'd not jogged since the bottom I decided for once George was right: I am not made for jogging.


I am made for sitting and a'rocking and eating chocolate.


* * * * * * * *
I've mentioned 'Bob' before. He lives in the wood over the tip and we often see him when we're out. I always say 'good morning' and I consider I'm doing well if I get a grunt in return. This morning he smiled! I couldn't see his mouth, which is covered in hair but his eyes crinkled. 
I was smiling too for the rest of the walk, even when it rained on me.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A zippity-do-dah kind of day

Apart from George escaping that is. Until then things were going well.


I decided, because I hadn't instantly changed into my slop-around-the-house wear when I got in from work that I'd take advantage of being neatly-dressed and go to the bookshop in Uplands to ask if they'd sell my books. And they were awfully nice and said yes. For 25%. Which is quite a lot but it should still leave me with a slight profit and getting them sold is what's important.


When I'm ready i.e. I've done my press releases and got some publicity, I can take a supply in to them. Spurred on by this and the sun shining I drove straight from there to Oystermouth library, my second home as a child, where I really want to have my book launch. 


The chief librarian was again awfully nice and very keen and gave me lots of options i.e. wanted me to make decisions about when and what time and stuff like that. Well-prepared as ever I said, 'What do you recommend?'


So we've settled for 7.00 pm on Monday, 18th June. Ta dah! The official launch of my book, This Time Next Year. They have a couple of book groups operating from this library too so they'll promote it to them and do posters etc, and even provide wine and nibbles.


What fun!

What mid-life crisis?

Husband is thinking of selling Brian, the convertible Beetle, and buying a motor-bike. I blame House. 


I pointed out that, while on his push-bike searching for George this evening, he went head over handle-bars and maybe he should reconsider. He retorted that he only falls off when he's on uneven ground. 'I only fall off on roads when someone hits me. Or I go over a pothole.'


I'm thinking he can't have studied Swansea's road surfaces recently.

George in our bad books

I shouldn't be here. Not now. I should be in circuit training. But I'm here and all because of GEORGE!


I gave him his dinner outside then we sat down to do our Italian. It wasn't until the end of that that it struck me that George had been out there for a long time. You've guessed: he'd gone AWOL.


Husband took his bike and I took the car and we spent the next 50 minutes - yes, 50 minutes - looking for him. I arrived home, George-less and starting to worry that he'd been dognapped - which wouldn't be difficult as he'll get in anyone's car - to find him inside the gate and a woman in a car outside, scribbling a note. She asked me if he lived there - I was tempted to reply, 'not much longer, not when he gets shot,' - and said she'd found him wandering around looking as if he had no road sense at all. When she stopped the car and called him, he rolled on his back in the middle of the road so she could tickle him. She'd guessed this might be his home from the 'Please close the gate as escaping dog lives here' sign on it.


I guess he was on his way home from wherever he'd been. We'd tried all his favourite haunts so we can only assume he's found another source of food.


I hear a dog has won the latest Britain's Got Talent contest. I'm thinking of contacting Simon Cowell and suggesting a new style game show: The Great Escape. It'd be a doddle for George; we could make a million.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

What's wrong with Linden?

Me. After much consideration I've come to the conclusion I am.


Let me say straightaway that I love Linden and in almost all respects it's exactly as church should be, as far as I'm concerned. So why do I feel like an outsider? 


The service this morning was great: good worship - I struggled to 'get into' it but that was my problem - and good message, which was 'be yourself, don't try to be somebody else.' And maybe that's my difficulty. The myself that I am is quiet, bad at small talk and not very sociable, which makes mixing with a large crowd of people difficult. Certainly makes belonging almost impossible.


We've had a huge influx of new people over the last year and that's great. The new people aren't the problem any more than the old people were. I just don't quite fit in. It's telling that the people I'm closest to in Linden are those on the edge, the ones that are a bit different and those who've left in unhappy circumstances.


I suppose it doesn't help that I don't feel that I'm taken seriously. I'm vaguely entertaining and a source of amusement with all my mistakes but I'm not someone that you'd listen to. To be fair, I wouldn't listen to myself half the time: I know I get things wrong, I don't think, and I'm too hasty to jump to conclusions. So maybe I shouldn't blame others for their opinion of me.


And I'm not really trying to fit in. Building relationships takes effort and I'm not putting, nor ever have put, in that effort. I'm the administrator of a church that has been good to me yet I can't be bothered to work at what it takes to belong.


Zac's I belong. I feel on level ground there. Still entertainingly stupid but trusted. The work I do in the prison I feel is appreciated too. So is it about my need to be wanted, to be useful, to feel good about myself? That's not what church should be about. Or should it? Part of the message today was, as I said, about being yourself, not trying to be Sue Brown because she's wonderfully hospitable, gentle, calm, wise and loving, but acknowledging your own gifts.


I'm talking myself in a circle again.


Two final points:
It did make me smile to myself when someone in church today remarked on the incredible diversity of people that make up Linden. Diversity? Oh you mean slightly different theological viewpoints. Come to Zac's if you want diversity.
You can tell you're not really into something when you're supposed to be praying but you're trying to decide whether the flower print on the woman in front's tunic looks more like a puppy in a puddle or a hamster in a bird bath.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The good and the bad

Got my first library booking!


It's National Book Group Day on 30th June and I've been invited to speak at Gowerton Library by the librarian who runs 2 book groups from there. She'll provide the tea and coffee, I can take my books to sell and all is wonderful in the world.


Except Younger Son didn't get the job he'd been hoping for. He's doing well in his current job and has just been promoted but it's not the sort of work he really wants. Trouble is, to get work in the environmental field you need experience and to get experience you need a job. I guess it's the same in most fields; breaking in the hardest bit.

It's not Cluedo

Taking a cup of tea out to Husband in the garden I discovered my favourite knife on the table out there next to his tools.
I waved it in his face. He said, 'Well I've left my Stanley knife in Egham.'


So, Inspector Poirot, I believe the murder was committed in the garden shed with a chopping knife.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Round in circles

I can cope with God not answering prayer - or not answering the way I want - it's the suggestion that all we all have to do is pray with enough faith to get what we want (for the general good not personal greed obviously) that I struggle with.


In Zac's on Tuesday we'd reached the story of the cursed fig tree. It always seemed to me to be a bit hard on the tree to be cursed like that but Sean suggested some analogies that made more sense of it but then it led to the 'if you tell the mountain to throw itself into the sea it will do it ' bit. 


What amazes me is that the people I would expect to question it don't; it just seems to be me. And I suppose it's mostly in connection with the healing - or not - of people. 


I don't have a problem with God not healing people - well, I do in that I'd rather they got better than died - but I know that 'shit happens', God has a greater plan, various other Christian excuses, blah blah blah, and that's fine. So why does Jesus seem to suggest here that if our faith is enough then we can have what we want? Doesn't that give an unrealistic hope to new believers, those not yet experienced/cynical enough to know better?


When my cousin was dying of cancer she phoned me one day and said, 'I know why God hasn't healed me yet: it's because I don't have enough faith. I've been awake all night repenting my lack of faith.' I was so cross with her. She had more faith than anyone I knew; until the day she died she believed God was going to heal her.


By saying it's our lack of faith it both puts the blame on us and, worse than that, by implying that we could prevent someone dying, it turns us into gods. We can't control if someone lives or dies.  That's not in our power. Thank God. Is it possible for us to change God's mind through prayer? I don't know. That would make him seem a bit whimsical. So why do we pray? To make ourselves feel better? Because there's nothing else to do? Because we're desperate? 


How did I get here? This wasn't where I was meaning to go or what I was thinking about while walking in the rain this morning.


If prayer is talking to God maybe the answer is that we - I - don't listen to his replies. Maybe life would make more sense if I did. 




I will continue to talk to him, be puzzled by his actions, and the list of questions for the day I meet him will grow. But somehow I suspect that when that day comes I'll be too busy being cwtched by him to care any more.

Sono lay chinkway

Husband and I are not making much progress with our Italian.


We had to begin again and we're still now only on lesson 11. We're trying to do a lesson - about 25 minutes - each evening so I'm not sure why it's taking us so long.


Although it could be to do with the fact that we have to keep repeating lessons.


It's all the computer; we don't have manuals. So I'm trying to remember the words by picturing them spelled as they sound. Thus 10 is dearchi and 5 is chinkway.  D'accordo?

In which George cocks a snoot at authority

George usually poos quite soon after he begins his walk. We tend to walk on rough paths and he disappears off to the side and all is fine. Some time ago, at the start of a bit of path a long way into our regular walk, the council erected a 'No Pooing' sign with the threat of a £1,000 fine for offenders. Ever since then, almost without fail, George has pooped on that path. Not at the side but on it - and he never poops on the path!

I fear he is a rebel looking for a cause.

P.S. I tried to find the origin of cock a snoot but my reference books let me down and google could only tell me that the original form was snook but nobody knows what that is, hence becoming snoot, which may be a variation of snout, giving you the 'thumbing your nose' meaning.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Good morning, I'm Liz and I'm an author

So ... I plucked up my courage and went to Waterstone's. I declined husband's offer to accompany me as I didn't want to look like a complete wimp. Instead I settled for the 'loopy lady wandering about town talking to herself' look.


I spent 5 minutes staring in a shoe shop window trying to remember what it was I'd planned as my introductory spiel. (By the way, do you think Converse trainers will last 5 times as long as the Sainsburys equivalent? Which in my experience would have to be about 2-3 years?)


I muttered to myself up as I approached the shop: walk in, head held high, don't dither and start looking at books but go straight to the counter and confidently ask to see the manager. Well, I almost managed it only being very slightly distracted by the display of books on the table inside the door.


Turned out she was in a meeting but, 'maybe I can help you,' said the young woman on the counter. I told her what it was about and she was very helpful but honest. 'Unless your book is stocked by the trade suppliers we use it's very difficult for us to take it.'
It's all to do with the invoicing apparently. Like the library it's all done centrally and things have to be approved and it's all jolly tricky. However she told me to email the manager - 'that's the best thing as we're short-staffed (a familiar story) and we can read emails in our lunch breaks' - and was happy to take a copy of my novel I just happened to have with me so they could decide if it was something they'd be interested in displaying.


Again it's very tempting to say, 'well, it's not really about the money: I just want to make it easily available to potential customers,' but it's not practical or financially viable. So I'll have to wait and see what they decide.


I could approach some independent book-sellers - but there aren't many of those. There's the one that was the evil nemesis of Charlotte's Web, the shop I worked for before the owner retired, and one in Uplands, which is slightly more academic and studenty. 


I wonder if there are any in Cardiff. If my dream of world domination is be achieved I need to widen my sights.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Mr Grumbly

There were two birthdays in Zac's tonight: Paul and Martin. I was trying to think of something the two men had in common but, apart from Zac's, couldn't come up with anything so then I thought of ways they differed: Paul is always smiling and Martin is always 'ee, I'm knackered, big sigh.' 
Then Paul wasn't there to enjoy his cake so we had to make Martin smile.
(And I know it should be Mr Grumpy but he's not that.)

Monday, May 07, 2012

Constipated but merciful

The final piece has been added at last to Zac's collection of art commissioned by Sean on the beatitudes. This is Mercy with artist, Tina. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury, when he visited Zac's, said he'd like to have all the artwork exhibited in Canterbury Cathedral and Sean would like to take it on the road so watch out: it could be appearing near you soon!

Can you spot my face? (Remember when I got plastered?) I'm there twice actually and easy to find as I'm the one who looks constipated - according to Martin.


What are you doing on the bank holiday?

Somebody asked the butcher.
'Castrating calves,' he replied.


Makes my 'catching up on cleaning' sound almost appealing.

My booty!

Scavenged from a skip this morning!
(Katney, I think you'd call a skip a dumpster maybe? The big bin thing people use when they're having building work done.)
I did ask before taking and it's in perfect condition, just needs a good scrub. Perfick!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

I really can't remember much detail ...

Wednesday and Thursday we were in Devon and had a lovely time playing with GrandBabies. An especially good time on Thursday afternoon when we took GrandDaughter to a soft play centre for the first time. Well, Granny had a very good time as GrandDaughter insisted on me crawling around it with her. GrandDaughter was a little overawed but enjoyed bouncing and lying on her back on the floor with me, kicking balls in a net. There's something very therapeutic about watching balls fly around.



It was Golly's birthday the week before but that was Avril's special time so Golly had to wait for his cake until this week. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, Stan was there and he shared his birthday with Golly so he also shared the cake.




Golly has, I think, several old British bikes including an AJS - no, I'd never heard of it and wouldn't have known about it if he hadn't ridden it to the baptism and Husband had been curious enough to go over and look at it.

Launching my book

So working backwards, I've now reached Friday. Actually if you come to this blog and read in sequence from the top then it won't be backwards.


Friday not just a work day but a call into the library and drop off two copies of my book day. the librarian I'd spoken to on Tuesday said she'd be there, probably, on Friday afternoon but she wasn't; should I take that as a hint? Anyway, undeterred I left the books for her with a covering note.


As I was there I thought I might as well ask about a book launch so I did before I had time to chicken out. The Events manager was summoned and she was very enthusiastic - in spite of me sounding like a gibbering idiot when she asked me about my book. I was unprepared you see. She will write out to the branch libraries and see if any would be happy to host a launch: they're a bit short-staffed currently so it might be dependent on having the workers. Apparently they've found events work best in the branch libraries rather than in the central. They had Carole Matthews, a world-renowned novelist, there last year and only about 12 people turned up. That must have been very embarrassing. I'm going to be relying on my uncle to bring at least a few of his lady friends to mine.
She asked me if I'd be confident reading and talking and, having garbled through our conversation up to that point I must have sounded like a big fat fibber when I said resoundingly, 'Yes.' I should have mentioned that I was taking the service in prison and if I can cope with that I can surely cope with a book launch. (I say that now from a distance; when the time comes I will be a nervous nelly.)


Anything else bookwise? Oh yes, I've received confirmation that I'm speaking - for an hour - at the Kidwell-e Festival in July. A whole hour. Unfortunately it clashes with the talk by my friend and fellow author, Ann Thomas, so we won't be able to cheer each other on. Sixty minutes. I'll be able to read the whole book in that time.

George the lap dog

So, yesterday. Think, what did I do yesterday?

I remember. Younger Son was home for the weekend (FiancĂ©e couldn't come as she works weekends). George misses his boy and makes up for lost time when he comes home.

I spent most of the day preparing for this morning's talk in prison. Oh and I popped down to see my uncle who's bought 20 of my books to give to his lady friends. He got me to sign them all so I felt like a proper author.

Husband's new toy.
In spite of the temperature - 12 degrees -  we had to have a barbecue last night. And very cosy it was. Or at least one side of me was.

Catching up backwards

Oh my, such a lot of catching up to do. Where to start? If I begin with now and work backwards I might remember what I've been doing ...

I'm on skip patrol at the moment. Any idea what the rules are about removing stuff from skips? I would go and ask the owners but they only live here part time and don't seem to be around just now. I'm afraid someone else will take my booty although Derwen Fawr isn't the sort of place that you get skip scavengers as a rule. Just me.

It's been a lovely day today so we walked up to the secret bluebell woods. I find it impossible to take a good photo of bluebells. None of my photos do them justice or capture their beauty. The goats at the top of the hill were very friendly though.

In prison this morning to take the service. The theme was heroes. I wanted to wear my knickers over my trousers but Husband wouldn't let me out of the house like so I had to make do with wearing younger Son's t-shirt.
I played Eye of the Tiger as the men came in and that was fine until the cd started jumping. Anyway they all paid very close attention but it's hard to tell what they made of it although one of the guys said, 'That was good, thank you.' And a new man who had come in with prison fellowship said he wished I could go and preach at his church! (But it's Anglican and not the sort of place where you have my sort of talking: I can't call what I do preaching.) But it's nice to know some people appreciate me!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

George and the pouffe

They've been changing the road system in Swansea city centre for the past few years, introducing a new one-way system and bus lanes. It's bad enough driving through it but walking is another thing altogether.
For someone's who panics easily and who, when flustered, struggles to tell left from right, crossing roads is a nightmare. I have to look every which way at least three times before hopping and skipping across quickly, while squeaking to myself. 


So today's trip to the library via the post office  involved a lot of planning and taking my courage in both hands. So, imagine me, as I've described, manoeuvring my way through town while trying to psyche myself up for the library. You see this wasn't an ordinary library visit.
I went with the intention of speaking 'to the librarian who handles acquisitions, please,' and hoping to get a copy of my novel into their stock. I was quite prepared to give her a free copy so had to conceal my delight - and refrain from saying, 'there's no need to pay me' - when she said they'd have two copies. I think I love the librarian.


I've made contact again with the girl researcher from BBC Radio Wales and sent her a copy of my book so, fingers crossed, I could be on national radio soon too. (George, stop humping the pouffe!)


And I had a brilliant idea: I'm making promotional bookmarks and I thought I could, while seemingly casually browsing through similar style novels in the library, pop one of my bookmarks in other people's books. Good idea? But a small one. Husband keeps telling me I have to pluck up my courage and approach bookstores, like Waterstone's, and ask them about selling my book. And having a book launch. But that's scary and real and i don't know if I'm ready for that yet.