Tuesday, 29 November 2005


Did I mention that I'd had a buying frenzy last week?

We have implemented a 'just in time' procurement policy for our new household acoutrements: carpet, mattress, pillows and chests of drawers for the bedroom; carpet tiles, a round table and those handy on-wheels-under-the-table thingies for stuff that you are going to keep without looking at for six months and then chuck away unopened, for the new office.

The idea was for the bedroom carpet to arrive first and the rest of the stuff to arrive in a vaguely orderly fashion afterwards. We could then put the carpet down, move the new bed out of the office in to the new bedroom, add the mattress, temporarily shift some of the stuff out of the office while Liam The Decorator did his stuff in there ... you get the idea.

However, it has all fallen apart, because I got muddled up about carpet delivery times. In our relatively small hallway (ie, small compared to the rest of the space-time continuum) we therefore have pretty much all the furniture, carpets and bedding in the world.

To get in to the kitchen you need crampons in order to climb over the (king size) mattress, the five foot diameter round table and a huge roll of seagrass matting. With a nifty bit of ropework in the doorway, you can negotiate the pile of tins of paint that Liam has left at the end of the hall and reach over to put the kettle on.

To make it even more exciting, he's lost the lid of the undercoat and I've temporarily sealed it with clingfilm.

Managing the crampons and the ice axe AND the white spirit is almost impossible.

In other news, my entire series of Alexander Kent novels have arrived. An extra rum ration for the men, lieutentant!

Monday, 28 November 2005

moon and tide

I've had a bit of a peculiar weekend - my last post has made me feel more exposed than I thought it would. Which probably goes to prove that one doesn't ever leave these things completely behind. I shall be very pleased when B comes home tomorrow; I need a cuddle.

To all the people who have left me comments or contacted me, thank you. And thank you, Rachel, for linking to me. If what I've written has helped anyone else or triggered thought or discussion in any way at all, then that is a good thing and makes it worth the feeling of vulnerability. It is something that needs talking about, however difficult that is to do; that's one of the issues. I refuse to be ashamed about what happened to me. But talking about it is scary.

This blog is not about anything in particular, unless a person's life can be described as 'anything in particular'. It is just about whatever I feel like writing about at a particular moment - serious or funny, banal or more intense.

Today, I feel the need for a healthy dose of banality to get me back in balance.

So. I have spend the weekend largely eating.

Or should that be eating largely?

It's winter. It's cold. Polish Lodger's Girlfriend's Cousin and I are developing a mutual support group centered around chocolate. What can I say?

Betty Kitten, who will not really stay still long enough for me to get a reasonable photo of her, is also trying to join in the nice-things-to-eat exchange we have going.

So far, her offerings consist of:

  • leaves - many and varied, found all around the house
  • twigs - ditto
  • the cloth I keep clean the toilet, which normally lives on the soil-pipe behind the cistern and which I keep finding in the hall. Or which she presents to me, triumphantly, in bed in the morning. I have tried giving her a clean one of her own, but she prefers the one that smells of faeces
  • bits of carpet - pulled up from the corners of the room where the previous owners have stuck down slivers with gaffer tape to try to disguise their lack of ability with a stanley knife
  • slugs. Or possibly, just A slug. I keep returning it to the yard. If, as I suspect, there is only the one that has survived the frost, it will be getting depressed by now, as it's been in at least half a dozen times
  • And, finally, a medium-sized plant, wet and with the soil-covered roots still attached, which she brought to me in bed yesterday morning once I'd gaffer-taped open the cat-flap for her and gone back to bed with a cup of tea.

And to cap today's healthy banality, I am now going to watch the first three episodes of 'Airwolf', eat pizza and have a glass of wine.

Friday, 25 November 2005

droit de seigneur

Sixteen years ago, when I was nineteen, I was date raped.

I have written about this before, very therapeutically, but I want to mention it again for two reasons; firstly in the context of Naomi Wolf's article in the Guardian about rape and shame and secondly because Rachel's post earlier in the week about forgiveness has made me revisit my feelings about it.

My experience was in no way as traumatic as that which many other women have experienced. When I speak about it I always feel that I need to explain that it was a date rape, as if that is a mitigation. I explain that we'd both had a few drinks. That I was in love with him - the whole story is up there under that first link if you want to read it, mitigations included.

But I was still raped.

After I had withdrawn consent - and I did vocally withdraw consent - he continued to lie on top of me. He continue to push himself inside my body. He continued to fuck me until he decided to stop, completely disregarding me - in this case, until he came. There was nothing I could do about it - partly because of my mental state and partly because he was bigger than me and heavier than me and even if I had tried to stop him, I stood very little chance of doing so.

That is what rape means for victims,whether it is associated with acts of extreme violence or whether it is a 'date' rape. You are powerless to stop them.

I WAS ashamed that I was raped. I DID feel somehow to blame. I DID feel that I 'led him on'.

I didn't. I really didn't. But I was so frightened that people would think that I did that it took me years to come to terms with it. At one level I couldn't believe that it had happened, because my rapist had previously been my friend.

It still affects me today. And this is where the forgiveness comes in. By forgiving him, I can forgive myself, for getting in to that position to begin with. I can stop feeling revolted and disgusted at myself, for being fooled by him, for being taken in and thinking he was a nice person. And I can stop feeling revolted and disgusted by sex itself.

Hundreds, thousands of other women must go through this.

It is not something we choose. It is not something we 'ask for' because we flirt, as 34% of people apparently think. We do not give implicit consent to a man because we go out with him and drink too much whilst in his company. We do not give implicit consent because we like sex and have been to bed with a few people in the past.

The British Crime Survey reckons that about 15% of actual rapes are reported to the police.

Only 5.6% of the nearly 13,000 rapes reported to the police in the UK last year resulted in convictions.

That is 728 convictions out of a possible 86,000 crimes.

I can forgive the man who raped me; for my own sake, more than his. I can, most days, forgive myself.

I cannot forgive a society that discriminates against and stigmatises victims of crime, that puts victims on trial alongside their attackers and makes the process of prosecution so painful that it is more preferable to let your attacker walk away than go through the process of seeing him brought to justice.

And I cannot forgive that 34%.

THEY are the ones responsible for those 86,000 rapes - because they are the ones sending out the message that actually, some women are asking for it.


Update: When I wrote this, I didn't realise it would generate quite so much interest, and I am both touched and moved. If you haven't already, please look at the 'support links page' and see if you can contribute at all. With thanks.

Thursday, 24 November 2005

at last

image (c) freefoto.comAfter a satisfactory forty-eight hour trial period, I have decided to add Liam The Decorator to my harem.

He is a sensitive chap, who gave up meat when he went to do a job one day and had to drive through a field of calves, who all came to lick his landrover and blink their beautiful eyelashes at him. The next week he went back and they had all gone to slaughter.

He likes listening to The Archers and The Afternoon Play on Radio Four and has been having a long chat with Polish Lodger's Girlfriend's Cousin about the different customs and habits of different European nations. He seems to be pretty widely travelled, with previous girlfriends from Indonesia and Germany.

I didn't want to get too excited about him to start with, partly because I didn't want to be disloyal to my other husbands, and partly because after the Attic Man Debacle, I didn't want to give my heart too quickly and be hurt again.

However ... we appear to have a painted attic bedroom. He is coming back on Friday to paint the little bathroom. And then next week he is going to come and paper-and-paint the office. After that, at dates to be arranged, he is going to do the big bathroom and the bedroom that we are currently sleeping in, as we can't rent it out to lodgers as it is. The cats have thoroughly enjoyed scratching the blown vinyl wallpaper off in strips and it was so vile that we encouraged them rather than yelling at them to stop.

image (c) freefoto.comThis may prove a problem in the future, I know.

So - yesterday I bought a seagrass carpet for the bedroom and some hairy carpet tiles and a five foot diameter circular table to go in the office once it's done, so that R and I can sit round it and blog in peace, without B looking over our shoulders and making us feel guilty.

Once the bedroom carpet goes down, we can move some of the stuff out of the office (wiping off the black filth still remaining from The Falling Of The Ceiling as we go) and pile the remaining stuff up in the middle of the room - that will give Liam enough space to get his enormously long handled roller in around the edges.

This afternoon, I go to Ikea, to buy some chests of drawers and sheets for the new king-sized bed.

Then I am coming home, to breathlessly await his return.

Wednesday, 23 November 2005

stranger than fiction

Liss has tagged me for an interesting meme, although possibly in this case, the factual post is more entertaining than any fiction I could possibly come up with:

Find your twenty-third post. Pluck out your fifth sentence. Then--write a short fictional piece with the sentence as the first one in the piece. And tag five more people in the blogosphere.


Every evening as it was getting dark, my grandmother would become anxious about his safety and would mobilise a rescue party.

My grandfather was a lucky man. Night after night during his stint as a showgirl, he would get lost on his way home, sidetracked by the myriad offers of the occupying army. My grandmother's main concern was his costume. Silk stockings in those days were almost priceless, and she knew that if once he began a game of poker, he wouldn't quit until he had either gambled all of his assets, or drunk the other players under the table.

So the search party would gather, with Tilley Lamps and walking sticks, warmly wrapped against the cold. Married and unmarried, mothers and grandmothers, schoolgirls and factory workers, once the alarm had gone up, friends and family would scour the gin joints of the neighbourhood until they found him. Normally he would be sans much of his more substantial clothing, wearing a green eye-shade and gambling furiously with the money he had earned during his early shift.

Shrieking like banshees, they would drive the other players off, herd him in to his work-a-day overcoat and trilby, and march him home. The neighbours never knew about his secondary job and my grandmother was determined that they would never find out. In the morning, he would rise and breakfast as if the evening had never happened and leave for work precisely on time, to catch the 8.27 train.

And in the evening, it would begin again.


I'm not going to tag anyone for this, as I found it a really, really scary three-glass-of-wine challenge ... tag yourselves and leave me a comments linky so people can visit. If you enjoy doing it, pop over and see if you feel you can contribute to Indeterminacy's project. Thanks for tagging me Liss, scary-but-fun!


Rachel from North London has an interesting post about forgiveness today and is asking other people to contribute their opinions, and link back to her.

Tuesday, 22 November 2005

falling in love again

Have I mentioned that I am falling in love again?

He is wonderful. Strong, decisive, capable, responsible and thoughtful. Also sometimes wracked with guilt and indecision and with a hidden vulnerability that makes him almost irresistable.

But I have a confession. He is not my husband.

[Sigh of unrequited love. Or maybe lust.]

I am on my second reading in a couple of months of the Horatio Hornblower books, by C S Forester. There are eleven of them, covering his career from the age of seventeen as a Midshipman in the 1790s, all the way to Admiral in the mid-1800s. And I am also thoroughly enjoying the TV Series with Ioan couldn't-you-just-bite-his-top-lip Gruffudd and Robert Lindsay (in a big hat), courtesy of LoveFilm.

Sometimes there are definite advantages to having a partner who works away a lot - in this case I can spend every evening with His Majesty King George's Navy without any guilt.

On my ebay watch-list are the Bolitho series by Alexander Kent and twenty Patrick O'Brian novels. We had a delivery of logs this afternoon, I have a box of wine left over from B's birthday party and a loads of food in the house. The snow being predicted in some quarters is not going to bother me at all.

Monday, 21 November 2005


aunty kateOn Saturday evening, we went out for a meal with Kate and Vic.

It was Aunty Kate's birthday back in August and a group of friends and family all went to a local Mediterranean restaurant for the evening - but B and I were on holiday, so we missed it.

Before we went went away, we wished her a happy birthday and a good evening out and she said that we would go out to the restaurant again, in September, after Kate and Vic had come back from their own holiday; but of course, she died while they were away, so it never happened.

When Kate and Vic came back to find her gone, true to form, Kate marched round to the respite care home and asked for a refund of a week and a half's worth of fees, as Aunty Kate had only been there for half the time they had paid for. At the time I was appalled - it was only ten days after she'd died - but now I am laughing about it as I type, and I am sure that Aunty Kate would be giggling, as well.

Kate said that she was going to spend some of the money on taking B and I out to the restaurant Aunty Kate had wanted to take us to, as she would have liked that.

So on Saturday night, that's what we did.

Kate gave me this photo, taken in the restaurant on Aunty Kate's birthday, about three weeks before she died.

I still miss her, but I am no longer mourning her, because I the happy memories I have - that we all have - are starting to replace the shock.

She has also given me a great gift.

Last year, when I was really unwell, Kate was very stressed herself and it really affected the relationship B and I had with her and Vic; to the extent that B was prepared to move away from the area so that we weren't obliged to have so much to do with them. I didn't really blog about it at the time, because it was way too close to home. Over the last eighteen-ish months though, the relationship has gradually been repairing itself.

Since all the trauma surrounding Aunty Kate passing on, there has been a really noticable shift in their attitude towards me. It wasn't that they didn't try to make me feel welcome before. It wasn't that they didn't see me as part of the family. I didn't even notice that there WAS a slight strain there occasionally.

But since they came back from holiday to find Aunty Kate dead and the funeral arranged and all the other things that had gone on, all the barriers have come down. They are treating me like a daughter and are obviously really, really grateful that I did what I did during that whole horrible time.

I don't think I did anything very out of the ordinary - someone had to take responsibility and I was the only person physically present to do so. Ipso facto, I did.

To them, it obviously meant a great deal and I am touched that such a happy thing has come out of such a sad time.

Sunday, 20 November 2005

feed a cold

I'm looking for a sympathy vote today:

I've come down with the coldy-coughy thing that's going round; I have terrible PMT and seem to be weeping uncontrollably for no apparent reason; B has just gone away for effectively ten days (also with cough and cold, long suffering but tolerant of the PMT-weeping). I only have one lemsip left and I have run out of chocolate.

It's a crisis.

During the coming week, R and I have to sort out the chaos that is the office, so that it's ready for Liam The Decorator when he arrives, probably on Friday. I think he's a bit more pro-active than Attic Man, who is calling in for the last of his money tomorrow. I gave him a cheque on Friday, despite the fact that we had a fundamental disagreement about what we each believed he had undertaken to do.

He apparently thought that we were paying them two hundred pounds for half a days work putting a trap door in the attic room.

I thought - because that is what we had agreed upon during the fairly in-depth discussion we had about it - that we were paying them two hundred pounds for a days work, fitting a trap door and a safety rail around the opening.

A genuine misunderstanding? Maybe.

But then, when I was writing his cheque, for what from my side was only half the job, but which by that point I was too hacked off to argue any more about, he asked me to put VAT on the two hundred quid. Because he had assumed that we would be paying him in cash.

I have no idea why he would have assumed that, since everything else we have paid by cheque.

I said no, we'd agreed two hundred, wrote him the cheque, thanked him for a job well done and waved him off with a relieved sigh.

Then ten minutes later, he phoned from his van, asking if he could have it cash instead. So he's bringing the cheque back tomorrow and I'll pay him then.

I most emphatically don't like being perceived as an easy touch, easily intimidated or stupid and it certainly seems like he must have got us pegged as at least one of the three. We are never going to employ him again and are certainly never going to recommend him to anyone. It's a shame, because he's a good craftsman.

B made the point that if he treats all his customers like that, he won't be getting much return business at all, so perhaps he has a 'get the most you can out of them' attitude. He also said that I should try not to let it get to me, as it's all finished, he's gone away, we have a lovely attic space that we are very pleased with and that is that.

So, I've moved on. Now B has gone off on tour, I am spending the rest of my weekend on ebay, looking at tiffany wall lights for the new bedroom, fretting about "lilac white" paint and contemplating ordering a solitary pizza for a solitary medicinal supper in order to adequately feed my cold.

Thursday, 17 November 2005

conversations with my mother #051117

Ma: I can't believe how wet it's been over the last few days. But it did stop for the Farmer's Market on Saturday, so I didn't get too drenched.
Me: That's good. Did you wear the new shoes we bought you to keep your feet warm?
Ma: No dear, they don't fit over the place where the ram stepped on me.
Me: Ah. I thought that was better?
Ma: Not really. But it's not purple any longer ... . [pauses] ... Anyway, I had SUCH an interesting conversation with someone at the market ...
Me: Yes?
Ma: Yes. This girl came along, and was interested in my aloe veras.
Me: Yes?
Ma: We had a long talk about what you can do with them and I was telling her about breaking bits off and rubbing them on burns in the kitchen and how I keep one on the window sill.
Me: Yes?
Ma: And she said she couldn't make her mind up and she might come back later on.
Me: Ah.
Ma: And she did, with her husband, well, boyfriend I suppose.
Me: Oh, good.
Ma: Yes. He bargained me down from £1.25 to £1.
Me: [thinks: tight bastard] Oh?
Ma: And then they asked me if there was anywhere around where they might be able to get a cup of coffee.
Me: Yes?
Ma: But The Hamlet doesn't have anywhere - not even a shop. They've nearly got their shop, but not quite yet because of the whole planning permission thing and I think there's been an issue with ... [fades as I temporarily zone out] ... and so the nearest place is probably Taunton, or maybe The Village ...
Me: [jerks awake] Ah?
Ma: So I told them that and it turns out that they stayed in The Lethbridge Arms in The Village last night.
Me: Really!
Ma: Yes. [expectant pause] And they're part of a theatre company. From Liverpool!
Me: [relief at finally getting to what is clearly the point] Oh, right!
Ma: So I wondered if B knew them.
Me: Hmm?
Ma: Only I can't remember their name.
Me: Ah.
Ma: [triumphant] But I told them he was an electrician! Who worked for theatres!
Me: Ah. Well, lighting designer really ...
Ma: Well, it turns out that the chap was the technician for the company.
Me: [reassuring] Oh, well he probably knew what you meant then.
Ma: Yes, I think so. I'll try and remember their name. I know they were going on to Preston ...
Me: Thank you for ringing ... I think I'll go and gnaw my own leg off now.
Ma: Okay dear, I'll speak to you in the week. I need to go and get the big cockerel in from the lane. He's stopping the traffic.

Wednesday, 16 November 2005


Kind of related to No. 3 on my List of Worries, whilst cruising over at troubled diva, I came across this fantastic post by 'Rachel' who is one of the bomb victims of 7/7:

90 days and 90 nights

If you have time, take a moment to go and read it, and some of the subsequent discussion.

jiggety jig

This is where we've been, and we have had a lovely time: comfortable rooms, nice food and beer, friendly people.

Plus good weather and a parakeet.

We did a local walk on Sunday and it was perfect weather - cold and crisp and sunny. The hotel has half a dozen very detailed leaflets with circular walks from their doorstep, which took all the pain out of planning them and meant that it was not necessary to measure out the distances with a piece of string. This is an enthusiastic but poorly executed habit of B's that gives me conniptions as one never knows how accurate the measurement will actually be.

It was very good indeed to get out in the fresh air and meant that we felt completely justified stuffing ourselves with all the mouth-watering things on the menu in the evening.

On Monday the clouds were a bit more threatening, so we went to Plan B and did a bit of touring around in the car. We went to Kirkby Stephen, which is a beautiful little town. Someone there keeps exotic birds and lets them fly free out of their aviary - hence we met a very friendly grey and pink parakeet sat on a packhorse bridge and there were a couple of macaws tumbling around shrieking in the wind all the time we were walking around.

And very importantly, there is a tea shop, which serves toasted cinnamon-and-brown-sugar scones.

We tootled home yesterday and have eased gently back in the week.

It was a brilliant break and we both really enjoyed it. I've filled in their 'keep us informed of special offers' form and we plan to go back - on top of all the other good things about it, it has zero mobile phone signal; I don't think either of us realised quite how much we needed a few days to ourselves without any interruptions.

Friday, 11 November 2005

attic of sauron

Attic Man and Sidekick Gavin have just left, dangerously triumphant and clearly cruising on down for a Friday night out on the town.

They have finished.

Kind of.

Barry The Plasterer has to come back on Monday for half a day to plaster the edges of the hole.

And they need to come back next week and do a hatch for us.

This was not in the original specs, as it was going to be an office and therefore no lockable door was required. However, the view and the feel of the space is so nice that we have decided that we are going to use it as a bedroom. And if we are going to adopt a trio of inquisitive kids with a high probability of having behavioural difficulties, I think that a door of some sort to our bedroom is probably necessary.

Particularly remembering a conversation I had with a friend of mine some years ago, where she claimed that Postman Pat videos were the only thing that had saved her sex life.

Anyway, I digress.

Finished, kind of. In the sense that they haven't ACTUALLY finished.

It's like a Viking Saga. Or possibly the Lord Of The Rings - I feel like I have been tramping round and round Mordor for the last five weeks. All it needs is for a poison spider to leap out from the storage hatches under the eves and wrap me up in a cocoon whilst muttering to itself, and I will know that I don't actually exist, but am trapped in J R R Tolkien's head. He's probably at one of his Oxford cockail parties dressed as an Anglo Saxon and refusing to speak anything other than Old Norse as I type.

B has just phoned to say he is on his way home.

I have arranged kitten care for the weekend. I have bought bagels-and-bacon for a luxury breakfast in bed tomorrow morning. I have washed my pants and found my woolly hiking socks.

I am ready to go away for three days tomorrow and work on not having a care in the world.

Did I mention that the hotel we are staying in has a fabulous menu and a very wide selection of whiskies?

Back Wednesday!

Thursday, 10 November 2005

so long, and thanks ...

I am planning a new chart for the office, once it's been redecorated.

Over the last few months, we have developed a useful short-hand scale to describe the level of eccentricity currently being displayed by our respective mothers, similar to the US DefCon system.

But based on fish.

Inital discussion of the subject centered around the question of WHICH fish, exactly, would it be appropriate to use? If all fish are mad, are some fish madder than others?

Koi Carp, for example, strike me as being relativley soothing, particularly if you have bread crumbs or something similar to feed them - likewise Goldfish. Herring, on the other hand, or perhaps Haddock, often seem to me to be slightly more agitated, whilst Kippers are plainly up there quite high on the fishy madness index.

After careful consideration therefore, we have developed and successfully tested the following FishCon Scale of Maternal Insanity:

Koi (or 'Carp') - Very relaxed, dealing with all cards in possession, introduce any sensible discussion you wish to have NOW before it's too late.
Mackerel - Placid, relatively normal range of functions, able to communicate with outside world, but avoid very sensitive topics (modifier - 'smoked').
Haddock - Approached with caution on every day subjects should be fine. Do not attempt to discuss financial or relationship matters.
Herring - Will probably not make much sense, extreme caution needed. Do not ask questions if at all possible or introduce new topics in to conversation. Use 'yes' and 'really!' a lot (modifier - 'roll mop').
Kipper - No meaningful communication possible, try again later.
I am going to colour-code the chart, pin it to the wall and attach little pointers. Above Haddock, all bets are off.

If either of them ever discover this blog, I am probably dead.

Wednesday, 9 November 2005

lilac wine

We have builders!

They turned up yesterday and were passive-aggressive about bannisters. I don't know why Attic Man bothers to ask me my opinion about what we want doing IN OUR OWN HOUSE if he's then going to overide me and do what he thinks is best, regardless.

They put the stairs in yesterday and today are putting in the skirting boards and generally doing the finishing touches. This morning they turned up on time and were manically cheerful; I find this marginally more worrying than passive-aggressive, but since they are now confining themselves to being manically cheerful at each other in the attic I am going to rack my wine and try not to think about what it might mean.

B is trapped on a job at Alton Towers with no mobile phone coverage. He rang in briefly last night and I was able to tell him that the Adoption Agency have been back in touch.

It is good news.

They have not dismissed us out of hand because of the anti-depressants. The social worker and her boss are going to come out and have a meeting with us at the end of January and see how I am. And they are going to schedule us for Preparation Groups in February. And after that, they will make a decision, based on the facts.

I am very happy with this - I don't think that we can ask anything more than an assessment based on reality. If they think I am not fit enough to be a adopter at the moment, then that is fine. The thing that's been upsetting me so much is the dismissal out of hand simply because of the stigma of anti-depressants.

This is entirely down to Tessa's pep talk about phoning them when we chatted the other weekend and I am almost inexpressably grateful to her.

Wine racking beckons.

Tuesday, 8 November 2005


I had a tail-chasing worry-frenzy last night and B said that it might help to list all the things that I am worrying about, so I could work out a strategy to deal with them. It may have been a mistake:

1. Answering the phoneForward phones on to B's mobile
2. Dealing with the buildersSuck it up - they'll be gone soon
3. Gradual erosion of freedom of speech and move towards repressive legislation in UKJoin Charter 88. Sign petition from Liberty, brought to my attention by my good friend Dream. May not help much but will assuage feelings of guilt when They start coming for people.
4. Nuclear apocalypse, followed by nuclear winterBuy tinned food
5. Forgetting to order butterBuy butter
6. Relationship with parentsLive two hundred miles away from them and see Item 1
7. Global warmingConsider moving to a house on higher ground. Practise ethical consumerism.
8. Chaotic bedroom
Purchase wardrobe. Insert clothes.

All better now!

Monday, 7 November 2005

divorce probably pending

Some Quite Bad Things:

  • The builders didn't turn up this morning; therefore the stairs are still floating in mid air. I am so far past caring about the enormous hole in the ceiling, the dust and the general chaos that I have failed to contact them to ask why his has happened.
  • I have just realised that my spreadsheet has been adding in the VAT we owe, rather than subtracting it from my projections. I thought the figures looked pretty good, but I just assumed it was a result of all the hard work the guys have done this autumn. A big VAT bill means you've done lots of work, but still - oopsy.
  • On waking up this morning I temporarily forgot that today is B's birthday, until R bounced in wafting greetings. I am a Bad Wife and if living in the Middle Ages would probably be beaten regularly, a la 'a dog, a woman and a walnut tree'.
  • We have run out of goat's butter and I forgot to order any with the vegetable box when I put the order in this morning. See above, under 'Bad Wife'.
  • I think the bread-maker is broken. If not broken, it is the only bread maker in the history of the world that comes from Middle Earth - everything I've made over the last week has come out looking like dwarf bread. See also above, under 'Bad Wife' (Unless married to a dwarf. Which I'm not).

Things that make up for the Quite Bad Things. Maybe. I hope:

  • I have productively (ha!) spent the day loading all my favorite songs on to ITunes.
  • Because of this, and a chance conversation based around Desert Island Discs we happened to have last night, I have been able to burn B a CD with his favorite tracks as a token present until my Amazon order arrives. Phew, saved by the bell. If I've remembered them properly.
  • We have booked three nights away next weekend and are NOT GOING TO TAKE THE MOBILES. (Double ha!).
With luck, they will cancel each other out. Otherwise I may be putting an application in to Milt's wonderful-sounding friend Raul.

And that, as someone else sometimes says, is all.

conversations with my mother #051107

Ma: The vicar's rung me about five times today.
Me: Why's that? Does he fancy you?
Ma: Not at the moment dear. He was complaining.
Me: What about?
Ma: He'd ordered some flowers to be delivered to London and the people I placed the order with messed it up. Three times.
Me: Not good.
Ma: No. He wasn't really in 'vicar' mode. More his 'ex-sailor' persona.
Me: Does that come out often?
Ma: Sometimes. He caused quite a stir at the Parish Council Coffee Morning when he told Maggie Watson a blue joke, using navy language.
Me: Doesn't she like that kind of thing?
Ma: Well, quite few people didn't think it was really appropriate. She's ninety three and had only recently lost her husband.
Me: Ah. So did you sort his order out?
Ma: Yes. I don't know who it was going to - a lady with the same name as him, so perhaps it was his mother, although I suppose it could have been a sister, or maybe a cousin, he didn't say ...
Me: [patient and long suffering ...] Yes ... ?
Ma: So, they delivered it on the wrong day.
Me: I can see why he's be cross ...
Ma: Well, yes, me too. And then they forgot the card. And THEN when they agreed that they'd send a box of chocolates and some more flowers as an apology, they forgot that, too.
Me: So did he use navy language with you?
Ma: No. Thankfully. He said he realised it wasn't my fault. Although he was quite cross. I don't know if I dare to show my face at church on Sunday, although to be honest, he doesn't come himself that often. He's more interested in the bigger of his parishes.
Me: Well, I should definitely avoid Coffee Mornings for a while, unless you want to press-ganged in to hard labour on the Church Tower Restoration Fund ...

Friday, 4 November 2005

just put a plasterer on it

Apparently Barry The Plasterer is very annoyed with Attic Man, because he thinks Attic Man has stitched him up with the complexity of the plastering required in the attic. I asked him whether he wanted a cup of tea on Friday afternoon last week and he nearly bit my head off. Then it turns out that not only had he just hit his head a great big crack on one of the beams, but he had also had his bank card cloned and couldn't get at any of his money.

So I suppose that slight grumpyness was understandable.

In the meantime, he's actually finished the plastering. Yay!

And [imagine drum roll, fanfare and feather-clad dancing girls ...] The Stairs have arrived!

Okay, they haven't been attached yet, and are propped up in a dangerously random fashion between the hole in the ceiling and the banister. But they are there. Despite their precariousness we've been up and down them a couple of times, and barring the possibility of falling arse over tip over the banister at the bottom until we raise it, they seem pretty functional.

You go up.

You come down.

One can't ask for anything more from a set of stairs, so they are perfection.

With a concerted effort and the backing of The Ideal Stair Maker, we finally persuaded Attic Man that 'space savers' similar to these where what were required.

Attic Man and Sidekick Gavin are coming back on Monday to fix them and finish off; I think they're getting escape-happy. They even got rid of the twelve foot lengths of skirting board that they've had stored on the existing stairs when I told them we were having a few people around tonight.

I still didn't invite them though.

I am going to hoover frantically and clean up cat poo now.

Thursday, 3 November 2005

now and then

Sunday lunch last weekend with both sets of parents went very well, despite various reservations; everyone involved seemed to have a good time.

Ma and Pa went to visit a fantastic local garden centre while we were cooking - Pa had been wanting to visit one all week but apparently they were very thin on the ground around where they were staying. They returned triumphant, bearing a huge box of vicious-looking cactii and some bulbs.

B's parents arrived shortly before Ma and Pa, radiating Curtain Rail Stress and apologising for not being able to stay all afternoon, because they needed to go home and put their bedroom curtain rails back up again after a particularly over-excited bout of DIY.

I have discovered that one of the things that makes me stressed about my parents is that they really have no idea that the way they do things might not be the way everyone does things. They can therefore become frenzied with indecision when other options that they might not have considered are presented to them. Since everyone in the world does things differently, this clearly makes any kind of travel outside their accustomed sphere difficult for them. And when I am involved, difficult for me, as I feel a need to be a facilitating bridge between them and the outside world.

B's advice, when I was sitting on the sofa on Sunday morning with a large pre-parent whisky, eating my own hair and rocking:

"Ally, getting hammered is NOT the answer to dealing with your mother. There is not enough alcohol in the world for that to be effective."
I love him.

It was really, really nice to have them visit and I feel very wistful now they have gone home.

I also feel sad seeing how disoriented Pa can be outside of his own environment. I am discovering that watching your parents age can be heart-rending. I suppose that with grandparents, one's memories of them being active are a lot further away. With your parents, you can vividly remember what they were like ten, twenty, thirty years ago.

And seeing the person who used to carry you on their shoulders struggling to climb the stairs and weeping with frustration when he has wet himself is a terrible thing.

Wednesday, 2 November 2005


I am slowly clawing my way back up the slope. B has forwarded the home phone on to his mobile, the builders are having a few days on another job, a few friends have contacted me in a low-key way to see how I am and I am feeling protected from the world and safe.

Things I have achieved today:

  • getting dressed, including my shoes (a la FlyLady, which I am becoming both obsessed with and terrified by)
  • teeth-cleaning
  • a minimal amount of filing control in the office - paying in cheques, paying out cheques, invoicing
  • fairly regular, fairly healthy eating, if you don't count the Biggest Pie In The World
  • going to the post-office to buy stamps (an enormous effort, although it's only at the top of the road)
  • preparing something for tea. Okay, it's only tomato sauce, to go with pasta, but it's from REAL tomatoes :)

I still feel like shit, terribly exhausted, but at least I no longer feel as if I want to take steps to send myself to sleep and never wake up. B's made me an appointment with the GP on Friday to see if he can offer any other solutions and I guess I need to try to start exercising a bit more and try to start meditating again.

In them meantime, we are having a few people round for a party on Friday night, for B's birthday. I have nothing to organise, other people are doing it all, so I can relax in to it and enjoy it; if I'm not enjoying it, I can go to bed. We considered calling it off, but came to the conclusion that it will give me something to think about and will probably be distracting.

Also, I have a new teapot. It pours beautifully and I am entranced :).

Tuesday, 1 November 2005


Some days I feel as if I am on a slope.

It is slippery and freezing cold and wet and made of glass.

I am clinging on with my fingertips and my toes and if I slip, I will plummet, down and down, gathering speed, in to the nothingness swirling below me.

Some days that nothingness is all I want.

Clinging on to the slope, trying to pull myself up inch by painful in inch takes so much energy it feels impossible.

At the top of the slope is sunlight, laughter, peace, happiness, joy.

At the bottom is there is also peace - restful oblivion.

Here, where I am clinging, are jutting sharp edges, sudden cold gusts of icy wind, hailstones battering me, continual struggle, confusion, pain.

Every inch I climb up is hard won and every time I slip, I can feel myself accelerating down the slope, racing towards the bottom.

Sometimes, I want to give up. To just BE at the bottom, enveloped in that nothingness down there, so that I can experience some sort of peace - even if it IS the peace of complete oblivion.

Yesterday was NOT a good day.