Sunday, May 31, 2009
But it's not the system that allows ridiculous claims that is most to blame: it's the morals of these MPs that enable them to make the claims. 'I could so I did.' Well, that's all right then.
P.S. £5?! An MP on a salary of something like £64,000 couldn't afford more than that? On expenses or otherwise?
Friday, May 29, 2009
As well as pointing out the 'Christian' things his government had done he wanted to say thank you 'for the help you give the poor, sick, homeless, needy etc etc' and promised that the government will not 'pass by on the other side.'
It was quite stomach-churning.
The day a political party acts as Jesus would is the day they can use my faith as a campaign aid. Until then throw them out of the temple!
P.S. Can you imagine what Christ would have done with MPs claiming for duck islands?
As long as we don't have any arsonists there.
* * * * * * * * * *
I phoned Tech Support the other day as I was having problems. The man said, 'Look at the side of the machine. Can you see a little switch?'
'Is it on?'
Honestly, do I sound blonde?
* * * * * * * * *
A few of you lovely people have suggested that my knickers are falling down because I've lost weight. Oh that it were so.
I put on weight and now have two sorts of knickers: tight, uncomfortable ones or loose comfy ones (bought from one of those stores that doesn't like to upset its customers so labels extra-large as medium). Obviously if I'm going to be sitting down all day I don't want elastic digging into my bottom so I opt for the comfy. Which is fine until I walk more than 10 yards.
I have been on a serious diet for 10 days now and my shorts are no looser than they were when I started. (It was the tightness of my shorts that made me go into this dieting malarkey again.) The sun is shining and I am fed up of ryvita and low-fat yogurt. Be strong, girl, be strong! Have a banana.
Peter is my favourite New Testament character because he regularly makes a mess of things; I think David is about to become my Old Testament equivalent. I've always loved his psalms because he doesn't mess about: he tells it like it is. If he's feeling miserable or hard-done-by then everybody's going to know about it. Similarly if he's messed up, he's equally honest about his feelings. Sean reckons the psalms are blues songs of their day.
The day after we'd read about David seeking sanctuary in a temple and we'd talked about safe places, I wrote my own psalm, largely in my head while in my safe place.
When, o God, when will I learn?
How many times must I be taught this lesson?
How much pain must I inflict before
I can recognise and pre-empt my folly with wisdom?
Is the asking foolishness in itself?
My sin I can identify; I am aware; I know its ploys, its snares. And yet
I return again and again
to the place where you find me,
ashamed and sorrowed,
regretful and frustrated,
angry and tired,
Knotted, taut, and tightly bound
by wires of self-pity
And then you say my name.
And I flee to the sanctuary
where you are.
Where the gap between here and there is thinnest;
where I can reach out and trace
the contours of your face with my finger-tips, feel your breath on my face.
Where I am washed by Atlantic rain and the
searing fire of your heart’s love.
Where I can lean into the wind knowing my dreams will be supported.
Where I am still me but you are you and will be.
Where there’s no miracle but hope and a promise
of unfailing love.
And I shout
with all my heart
and with all my voice
God is good.
God is good.
God is good.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
My handbag was sliding off one shoulder, my cardigan off the other. Both bra straps and my knickers were also giving in to gravity.
I must be one saggy slopey body.
'What's a Brazilian doing playing for Spain?' I asked.
Husband and YS looked at me. 'He's Portuguese and he plays for Man U.'
I was confused. 'Isn't he the one with the teeth?'
'No, that's Ronaldo.'
'Yes, they're Brazilian.'
'But one is bald is bald and podgy and the other has long hair.'
So now you know.
At the end of the European Cup final, when Barcelona received the trophy, the commentator commented on their shirts. 'Unlike most teams who have the name of their sponsor on their shirts, Barcelona has Unicef on theirs, and, instead of taking money, the club gives money.' Ah, isn't that splendidly refreshing?
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I know lighthouses each have their own distinctive flash sequence but I don't know if the same applies to foghorn noises. I tried googling but the only thing I could discover is that the foghorn at Mumbles lighthouse (installed in 1908) is known as Jasper's baby. I have no idea why.
The other interesting thing I found out is that all lighthouses are controlled from a central point in Harwich. (Central to what I'm not sure.) Coastguards at St. Ann's in Pembrokeshire were recently contacted by Harwich who asked, 'Where has your lighthouse gone?' Apparently it had disappeared from their screens. According to the St. Ann's website, 'the culprit turned out to be one of the local cows who had leant up against the control box in the adjacent field and disconnected all the electrics!'
High tech is no match for a lazy Freisian.
However I must remember not to wear knickers that fall down. Today mine ended up dangling round the tops of my thighs with only my trousers stopping them slipping down entirely.
Anne died on Christmas Eve. She had been ill for two years but had the sort of spirit that made you think that she couldn’t die, that she wouldn’t die.
As the illness took hold, everything that could go wrong went wrong for Anne but through it all she was able to find something to laugh about. I’m no Shakespeare or even Dylan Thomas, and I can’t capture in words the essence of Anne. She was special. At her funeral, the crowds in the church were matched only by the crowds outside, unable to get in. It was a privilege to know her.
So where was God in this? We’re supposed to be able to trust God to do the right things. Was it right to let a young mother die when he could have healed her? Nearly every part of me screams ‘No’, but somewhere deep inside is the knowledge, borne out by my own experience , that God can be trusted. More than that, he is the God who chose to let his own dearly loved son be tortured and killed for us, for me, for Anne, because he knew what the end result would be. I can’t begin to understand why tragedies like Anne’s are allowed to happen. I can only hang on to the thin thread if faith that God really does know what he’s doing. Without that, there’s really not much point in anything.
Anne would have been forty this year. Last summer while on holiday, camping under electricity pylons as only Anne could, she bought a rather expensive candle in the shape of the numbers 4 and 0, justifying it by saying, ‘If I make it to forty it will be worth celebrating.’ She didn’t and I miss her.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I went down to help at the Community Cafe over the busy lunch period and I made a chocolate milk shake with Reggae Reggae sauce.
I thought it was a bit gloopy but put that down to it being the end of the bottle.
P.S. Fortunately the fuse tripped and while I was waiting for the electricity to come back on so I could finish whizzing it I read the bottle.
P.P.S. For those who don't know, Reggae Reggae sauce is hot and spicy. But brown.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
But, a few weeks ago, after Husband had bought himself a new pressure washer and a new lawn mower, I rebelled and ordered myself a new polisher (right).
It's taken a few weeks for the spray polish that goes with it to arrive but this afternoon I set to polishing the hall floor.
The instructions in the manual aren't very explicit and the instructions on the spray polish are ... in French. Well, other languages too but French was the closest we came to identifying one.
With my O-level and Husband's evening class French we determined that I had to apply the polish with the brosses noires, which we took to be black brushes. Unfortunately there weren't any black brushes, or anything black at all. So I did what any self-respecting housewife would do: I made it up.
The result isn't quite as shiny as I would have hoped but maybe it has a cumulative effect.
In the manual it says the floor shouldn't be walked upon for 24 hours after polishing. As, this evening, we have four two-legged visitors and at least one four-legged one arriving I probably should have chosen a better time for polishing.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
I would think that it's doing a little light hoovering while I'm asleep but the carpets show no sign of that. So I can only conclude that my hoover has got itself a night-shift cleaning a factory in order to put some money aside to save for a place of its own one day.
I wouldn't mind that - I'd applaud its initiative - but if it's clever enough to get a part-time job then surely it's smart enough to empty itself afterwards?
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Okay, we've had some serious writing for a while now so we'll try something a little different. I wrote this a very long time ago, as you may guess from the references, but it still has a familiar ring about it.
We - in the writing class - were asked to write a folk tale.
The Three Young Men
Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there was a land which was ruled over by a great and mighty leader called The Iron Maiden. Now this land was divided into two unequal parts: the Northlands and the Southlands. In the Southlands the sun always shone, the women were beautiful and the men were rich; in the Northlands, it was always cold, the women were ugly and the men were mostly unemployed.
Then one day the people saw on their television screens news of a terrible disaster which had befallen a small mining village in the Northlands — a mine had flooded and twelve miners had been killed. On hearing of this tragedy the noble people of the Southlands immediately did what they thought would best help the distraught families: they sent money by the bucketload and having satisfied their consciences filed away the details and forgot about them.
Now among the beneficiaries of this remarkable generosity were three young men, sons of one of the miners killed. The money they received was more than they could hope to earn in a lifetime (which, admittedly, is not long for a miner) and they decided to leave the life they had always known and head south to the land of milk and honey.
Arriving in due course at the capital city of the Southlands, the first young man decided to buy a flat on the waterfront (they were shocked to discover the price of houses in the capital) and visit the local wine bar. “A pint of your best bitter, landlord,” he cried. A hush fell upon the room. Was this man from the Northlands or what? A journalist in the wine bar immediately began to question him about his roots. On discovering that not only was he from the Northlands, not only from the very village in which the terrible tragedy occurred, but that he was deeply involved with it, the journalist took him under his wing, drew out his most personal and intimate details and sold the story to a national newspaper. This new-found fame bought the young man many friends who danced and dined and drank with him until the money ran out. Then he discovered that the agreement he had signed for the flat was a tenancy agreement and not a purchase. Who would expect to get a flat for that sort of money? Finding that he had no money left to pay the rent, the kindly landlord gave him two hours to move out and the young man found himself on the street.
The second young man, walking through the gold-paved streets of the city, saw the Porsches and, being a well-read young man, realised that the only way to succeed in this life was to speculate. You have to speculate to accumulate. He booked into a smart hotel, read all the financial newspapers and started dealing. He quickly made new friends who offered him the chance to invest in their company, a surefire winner he was assured. The first he knew of the stock market crash was when he read about it in the daily newspaper delivered to his hotel room. His bank refused to honour his debt and he left the hotel in the middle of the night. Shares can go down as well as up.
The third young man took a job in a large department store, met and married a very nice young woman and settled down in a pleasant house on the edge of the city. When in time his two brothers turned up on his doorstep he was happy to give them accommodation because that’s what families are for. Then one day a letter arrived from the local council telling him that his home was to be demolished to make way for a new road. The young man and his wife and his brothers and many friends straightaway barricaded themselves in and refused to move. Hundreds of their supporters signed petitions, marched in protest and generally made nuisances of themselves until in the end, the council knocked the house down anyway. The brothers found new accommodation at Waterloo and filled their time selling The Big Issue to young executives with furrowed brows in fast cars.
And the Iron Maiden lived miserably forever.
But on the diet front, I've been dieting since 5 o'clock on Monday afternoon and I feel slimmer already.
A golden retriever stole a phone and, as he chewed it, managed to dial 999. As the call was answered, the owner was shouting, 'Come out of there or else!' Police were alerted to a possible murder threat.
Yes, George has often been under that sort of threat.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
To take part in Saturday Photohunt, visit tnchick.
We're going away this afternoon (Friday) so I won't be able to visit until after the weekend.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
When I sat down just before the study started the response of the person I was sitting next to surprised me. What she went on to say surprised me even more. She said that, a few weeks previously, I had upset her. I was oblivious to this. She also said that I'd done the same thing to another Zac's regular a week or so after.
I apologised and said I was duly chastened and would try to be more careful in future but continued - only in my mind - to make excuses and to snipe back at her. I find reproval hard to take and don't deal very well with it.
Afterwards I found the other person and apologised to him. He was puzzled, 'You haven't offended me.' Which was what I thought, but I must be more aware of sensitivities. Lots of Zac's people are fragile and don't need me blundering about. (Even as I'm writing this I'm thinking again: ah, but she ...NO! One wrong doesn't excuse another.)
So, with my mind in a bit of turmoil it was hard to concentrate on the study of David and Goliath. (Gosh, he was a big scary fella!) And made worse by Jerry, who's spent some time in police custody since last Tuesday, as evidenced by the burn-like mark on his wrist from the handcuffs. In one of his vaguely coherent moments he said, 'See, when you're banged up, it's too late to say sorry.'
He has some sort of faith in God but his faith in the bottle is much stronger. Only a miracle is going to change him before it's too late. Please God.
And maybe it was my state of mind but Sean seemed a bit less upbeat than normal too. He needs help; the demands on his time, energy and love are draining. We need something special.
I still love you all, dahlings!
* * * * * * * * *
A lady, a little older than I, said to me earlier this week, 'I used to be very houseproud but now I only clean the house once a week.'
Once a week? The whole house? I consider it a job well done if I manage one room a week.
I wasn't sure what or how I could write something for the chapel gathering and I was feeling a little land-locked so, as I'd been told if I walked from the back of Ffald-y-Brenin, over the hilltops, I'd be able to see the sea, I set off to think, pray and head-write.
I was so busy chattering away to god - not giving him a chance to reply - that I missed the turning and ended up surrounded by mist. I couldn't even see the end of the path, let alone the sea.
But I thought: that's all right; this is all part of my allegorical experience; when I get there God will make the sun shine through the mist for one moment to illuminate the sea and I will have a clear message.
I found the correct path but, again, the mist was so thick I still couldn't even see the promontory from which I'd been told I could see the sea.
At last, aware that time was passing, I headed back, with just a couple of sentences upon which I hoped to build ... something.
I would reduce God to my size
A god of party tricks and pretty thoughts
My god, god-on-demand
Little visions, little dreams
But God breaks out of the shell in which I would encase him
The deep roars,
Heaven bursts open,
Stars erupt, dazzling and bemusing,
Rainbows adorn the skies
And my eyes are opened
To the hugeness
Of the One
And dreams that now seem so tiny
Are given permission
To grow and take root and flourish.
And as we stand in Eden, God and I,
God is not there for my purpose;
Rather I am here for his.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
My heart sank: another rejection.
I took it into the kitchen and reluctantly opened it. As long as it remained unopened I would have hope; best to put hope in its place.
I read, 'Thank you for sending us your manuscript but unfortunately ...' Wait; it doesn't say that. '... looks like an interesting project and we'd like to review the rest of the manuscript.'
Waaaahhhh! I screamed. Silently because Husband was in a teleconference.
I wrote an email to Daughter to tell her, then went back to read the letter again in case I'd misunderstood. No, that was definitely what it said. Husband was off the phone by now so I told him. He was pleased for me but said, 'You haven't written the rest, have you?'
Tsh, that's a minor problem. It's easier to write a novel than it is to get a publisher to read it.
Of course since then I've walked George and talked myself into a more realistic state of mind. 'They probably won't like it once they've seen it all. They'll change their minds. They'll realise it's not good enough. Blah, blah, blah.'
Still it made the sun shine even more brightly for me today.
Monday, May 11, 2009
There were no especially curious monuments but a couple caught my eye. One was for William Havard, 'for many years a devoted and useful Pastor of this church', who died in August, 1837, aged 44 years. The tombstone also recorded the deaths in December of his two daughters, Mary who was nearly 3, and Margaret, who was just 1. The gap between August and December seems too long for them all to have been fever victims, but that also seems the most likely explanation.
His wife likely had older children to comfort her as the graveyard is full of Havards, and unlike Thomas and Evans, Havard isn't a typical Welsh surname. One of them was probably Seth Havard, who died in 1866 while his wife, Mary, lived on for another 20 years. I don't know if you'll be able to read this stone so, in case, you can't, I'll tell you that Mary is referred to as 'relic of the above'. Hmm, I think I prefer widow!
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Friday, May 08, 2009
The retreat is called Ffald-y-brenin and it's set by itself on the side of a hill in the Gwaun valley. I have no idea where it is and am hoping my lift has directions. Last time I was directing Husband home from there, i got distracted by pretty birds, we missed the turning and ended up even further in the middle of nowhere. Gary is travelling with Meryl and me this afternoon so here's hoping he'll navigate. He ran the Hamburg marathon the other week so he must be good at knowing where he's going.
Now I'm being picked up in 40 minutes so I'd better do my final check. Have a good weekend, all!
Thursday, May 07, 2009
They've done loads of work on the house and have now started on the garden, the latest thing being this 'retaining wall'. Apparently (according to a lady who knows my auntie Joan and who got it from a woman who lives a few doors down the other way) it's normal practice in Canada. Perhaps jmb and Leslie can confirm this?!
Personally I think it's an anti-terrorist measure.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Now to start planning the writers' weekend that I'm supposed to be sort of leading this coming weekend. We're off to a retreat in west Wales to write and relax and enjoy the peace and beauty. When I say 'now', I mean tomorrow obviously.
'Because you're a dog, a vile creature whose poo can blind people.'
George looked as though he were about to argue but instead he just raised his eyebrows and humphed, 'Rules, eh?' I love the way my bit of world has been turned on its side. It always amazes me to realise that these cliffs, which appear so solid and unmovable, used to be horizontal - and millions of years before that, living creatures in the sea. (The Gower cliffs are mainly carboniferous limestone, which largely consists of endo- and exoskeletons.)
I did a bit of research about my subject but not a lot and I probably malign her terribly so bear in mind this is fictional poetry! (Unusually for me, I had quite good marks for this poem.)
My dearest Mrs B
My dearest Mrs B,
What a delight it was that you were able to
Join us for dinner this evening.
A shame you could not stay for long
But as you say the children must learn
That needs must where the devil drives
And early to rise necessitates early to bed.
Little Tommy is now quite settled and it is my earnest hope
That you will not hold against him his tears
(And screams) at your every appearance.
I assure you he does know who you are —
Every evening I point out to him Mama
In the photograph on the piano in the parlour.
And, may I just suggest that Hannah’s failure
To answer satisfactorily your questions on
Household budgeting could perhaps be put down to her
Lack of years and experience. At five I doubt if even you,
Dearest, were quite the competent you are today.
Our meal this evening was most
Charming — I can taste it even now.
Nothing surpasses good English food
And boiled tripe and onions always slips down so
Well, but, dearest, I wonder whether
The bread pudding was just a little on the heavy side?
Of course, you know your own business best,
And if you say that this is how it should be,
Far be it from me to criticise.
On a different note, I wonder, dearest,
If you might find time to have a word with the under housemaid.
She is most lackadaisical about her duties,
I even caught her sitting in the middle of the day.
I hope we shall meet in the office tomorrow
But, if not, I look forward to seeing you
At the dinner party for the Hatfields.
I remain, your devoted husband, Sam Beeton.
P.S. If you have your diary to hand,
And it’s not too much trouble,
I would be grateful if you could let me know
A time convenient to you
For me to make my monthly night-time visit.
I would hate a recurrence of last month.
We've started looking at the life of David and last night Sean was talking about Saul, the first king, and how he'd lost the plot. After a little while, Jerry, who was slightly more inebriated than usual, decided to defend king Saul.
'No, no, Sean, you shouldn't be judging him. I don't come here to be judged. He made mistakes; we've all made mistakes; you've made mistakes. You've made at least four mistakes.'
Sean is agreeing and trying to explain that we're studying and learning from, not judging, when the 'four mistakes' comment puzzles him. Jerry continues, 'If you hadn't dipped your wick in four times, if you'd come out in time ...'
Afterwards I complimented Sean on his restraint. 'If someone had suggested that my children were mistakes I'd have slapped him!'
Apart from Jerry there were three young street lads who don't usually come on a Tuesday evening. They were only very mildly disruptive wandering across the room to get coffee, and one of them in particular, defended Sean, and dealt well with Jerry. I wondered if they might be derisory towards him, an old drunk, but they were good.
Two of them were wearing hats, and when Sean prayed at the start, they removed their hats, putting them back on after the Amen. We have lads in Linden, woolly hats stuck to their heads,who wouldn't think of removing them for a prayer or just because they're in church.
It doesn't bother me either way - God doesn't care what's on the outside so why should I? - but the act of the boys last night, in taking off their hats, struck me as significant, indicating respect, something almost subconscious. I suppose they must have been told to do it at some point in their lives, but their action gave me hope.
I don't know why such a small thing should stick with me; I'll have to ponder it some more.
I didn't mention Zac's last week. When I walked in I almost dropped my dustbin. Ros, who went back to Australia last autumn, was standing at the coffee bar. You know how thoughts rush through your mind in a few milliseconds? I thought: she didn't go, it was a dream; they've realised they belong here and have come back; it's not Ros. But then she turned to face me and we both beamed.
She's only been here for 2 weeks, for family reasons, and flies back 'home' to Australia this weekend. We met for a pub meal before Zac's yesterday and caught up on all each other's news. It was wonderful seeing her and hearing about their plans for a Zac's Place in Canberra, and receiving her encouragement and endorsement for ideas I want to put forward. (Watch out, Sean!)
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
I used to get it regularly, as Husband said, 'when you were stressed,' but haven't had it for ages. So either I'm unconsciously stressed or I have appendicitis. Or wind.
Hey ho. I'm sure it will be gone by tomorrow. I'm far too busy to have serious appendicitis. And too much of a wimp.
Monday, May 04, 2009
Sunday, May 03, 2009
More to the point, what sort of idiot buys that size brick? One thousand two hundred and twenty of them.
On the plus side, our courtyard is getting excitingly close to being finished. Brick-breaking (and swearing) excepted.
I do have a permanent year-round runny nose. I can't leave the house without a hankie or wad of tissues. I suppose it may be an allergy but I had it before allergies became so popular.
I also sneeze when I'm in the sun so, what with my snuffling and my sneezing, I got several anxious looks yesterday on my way into Sainsburys. I felt I should wear a badge saying, 'I haven't been to Mexico.'
A much more likely explanation is one I saw recently on an episode of Grey's Anatomy. A patient had been back and for to the clinic with a runny nose. Eventually they worked out that, in layman's terms, his brain was leaking out through his nose.
That would explain such a lot about me.
And here's one of the tubs I planted this afternoon. It's got purple verbena and a variegated ivy thing to trail, along with pink geraniums and busy lizzies, and that purpley-pink spikey thing in the middle.
And those bluebells aren't supposed to be just growing out of the ground like that but they are. And they're' very pretty.
And did you spot the milk bottles? We're one of the few houses left that still has a delivery.
Friday, May 01, 2009
No-one told me that.
His wound is okay and the vet decided against another dressing to allow the air to get at it but we have to stop him jumping around and bursting it again. We have about about as much chance of that as we have of stopping him eating everything in sight.
He's fine in himself though. Except he still doesn't remember that he has to wait for doors to be fully opened before he attempts to get through them. And our legs are suffering where he's walked into them with his cone-head. It does make a useful umbrella though as he sits in the open front doorway watching the world.