Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I Made it Myself, You Know

`What`s that going to be – a corral?`

George relates this without a hint of a tear, but one can only imagine the hurt inside – co-woodworkers can be so cruel.  After all, this was only the half-way stage, and
George`s frame was necessarily vast since it would be supporting a really vast upper.
Perhaps the coffee table was ambitious for a first project – the top, the legs, the bits the top sits upon… He could have chosen instead the plans for making a wooden spoon, or maybe gone for the boomerang instructions – both rewarding creations and perfect introductions to the World of Woodworking.

But no – for George this was a challenge that wouldn`t wait, and he certainly put his unique stamp upon its magnitude: eye-catching green 70`s tiling offering ample space for magazines, musical instruments or family pets; perfectly proportioned and jointed frame; sturdy struts providing foot-hooking support for those essential sit-ups.

Particularly useful for parties, of course - extra seating, room for drinks and eats, meetng point for anyone who`s lost...
And steadfast. This four-legged friend has been with him for forty years!

He was never to make another, but the lessons learned stayed deep in his soul; the tiling prepared him well for numerous flooring successes, and the wood turning no doubt helped with the bowed psaltery he made soon afterwards – a triangular stringèd instrument you perhaps play too... George doesn`t often, but he Could.

Do you like to Make Things Yourself?  I`ve been racking my brains and must 
cast my mind back to Junior School, when our class was once told to make a Cloth Book Thing to keep pins and needles in.

This turned out rather well, and is still enormously useful for keeping one`s notions in order when a button has to be sewed.

Beneath that supremely colourful exterior lurks some strange stiff material with holes we poked the wool through.

It took me ages and frankly, I think Mrs Joiner could have been a bit more encouraging about my outcome.

Undaunted, I went on to make a fairly convincing Cauliflower Cheese in high school cookery. Sadly it didn`t cope well with the hour-long bus home, and when I unleashed it on the kitchen table it looked more like a brain in a swimming cap. (We had fish fingers for tea).

The made-it-myself I`m most proud of, though, was an Enormous pair of socks – birthday present for the colleague who had everything including size 13 feet. In fact I only made one sock because for a beginner-knitter it was extremely difficult, specially going round the corner. 

Sadly I don`t have a photo because he was naturally thrilled with the sock and took it home.  I remember it was at least an appropriate foot long, heel to toe, and a dainty one inch up the ankle.  And colourful, being a recycling of people`s unwanted wool scraps.

He didn`t mention it again but I like to think he found it useful, perhaps as a thermos flask cosy, or a nice warm hat, a scarf, vest, Santa sock, doorstop, handbag, cat coat, fluffy toy... 

Wow - one could set up a business!

Friday, April 17, 2015

I lost my Heart to a Full-Width Deli Tray...

 What does your fridge say about you? 


Well, we all forget to defrost sometimes, don`t we…

But wait – whatever lurks in your fridge could hold the secret to your future happiness!  At least,
if you`re single it could…  

For there is a man with an Exciting Plan – to boldly glean insights on your personality from the mere contents of your fridge, thence to match you with fridges compatible!

Hundreds of people have apparently sent pictures to this enterprising person (or should one say, fridge guru?), presumably in the hope of receiving a stack of compatible-contents pictures by return. 

And then?  What would you be looking for in the heart of a fridge?  Lots of style, colour and harmonious groupings,  or perhaps a hint of the wise and deeply metaphysical...? 

The guru could advise - he spent twenty years assessing his potential dates by fridge (some of them still went out with him).  His eventual bride dazzled him not least with her Champagne and "high-end condiments". 

I don`t know what a high-end condiment is, but George and I do have a pot of auntie Jean`s home-pickled beetroot, and a very sparkling wine from the champagne region of Aladidl.

Do consider carefully the state of your fridge before you let all and sundry in there.  It must be gleamingly clean and fragrant (guru does home visits too, you know), and entirely free of stuff still moving.  The message it conveys could change your life!

(Looking in our own fridge, I`m not sure it conveys any message other than We need a bigger one and Where`s that chipolata I was saving?).

Remember! this thrilling new service is for singles only so how is/was your fridge as a single? 
Mine always had a bottle of Dry Martini and a bottle of Tia Maria. 
(I know.  But they tasted different in those days). 

And there`d be one of those party  bottles of Liebfraumilch...  

And a loaf of Mother`s Pride.

But we didn`t have gurus to match us with other Sophisticated-Palate-Well-Organised`s - we just had to go clubbing to meet people, or take up beginners` badminton... Or walk around with a big sign on our head (which never worked either).

Things are different now, but that doesn`t mean they`re any easier...


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Forty Shades of Hoover

Hoovering can be such a joy can`t it…

the massive satisfaction of banishing all those horrid little Bits from your floor, the relief that comes when the job`s skilfully done and dusted.

Sometimes, though, you`re just not in the mood – it`s those same old sarnie crumbs in front of the TV and all that flaming cat detritus – his fur, toenails, litter scattered in frenzied post-wee tidying, the odd hanger-on from his garden patrol…

(That one was a Tardigrade, by the way, and HermanCat was quite attached to it for some time.  Mercifully they`re less than 1mm long).
(the ones in captivity).

Anyway, you start on your usual boring old route – living room, kitchen, haul it up the stairs, bedrooms... and all the time that droooone is driving you mad!

Then to cap it all, your vac explodes.

I suppose after twenty years I should have guessed something was wrong… I mean, suddenly it seemed like it was hardly grazing some areas, and the engine had begun to moan like a bull with a headache.

This vac was telling us it had drudged enough - we needed something New.

Friends suggested seeking expert advice from a man who knows, so we set off for Hoovers-R-Us - we were so glad we did!

All those tantalising choices… upright, cylinder, turbocyclonehandstickmotioncompactsensorsyncairborneforce bagless, cordless, noiseless, pushless...  

After a session of unrestrained experimenting we went for a slim, light pole of a device with several accoutrements to handle every area you could think of – vaccing like we`d never dreamed of!

"And would you like an outfit with that?" said the man brightly, "You don`t want to get your ordinary clothes messed up with household chores!"  

"How could this be a chore!" I giggled over-excitedly as he led us to the display. His selection was huge.

What more can I say other than we are very satisfied with our purchase.

So we couldn`t leave the cat out:

(definitely recommend Muting this hoover)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Failing to Figure Skate

`Well, have you thought of renting a penguin for half an hour, madam?`

I must confess I never had before, but if you think…

The beaming (surely not smirking) bloke behind the counter gestured to a clutch of bright penguins in the corner – high-viz, perfectly stable and sturdy handgrip at the back. Anyone could maintain their equilibrium leaning on the like (couldn`t I?).

George and Brian enthusiastically refused to try one but seemed very keen for me to and I don`t know what they meant about less danger to everyone else.

`Do many beginners use these?` I asked the man hopefully. `Mmm, quite a lot,` was the unconvincing reply.

I decided to launch back onto the ice without one. And with a change of skates – it could well have been their fault.

I blame certain winter TV programmes for the fact that we were here at all – the thrill of the speed-skating, the utterly beauteous figure-skating, the soft crunch of ice beneath swerving skate… so tantalising.

And Caroline had received a discount voucher in the post.

So four of us gathered at SpeedySkate for our first venture, clad in layers of Vest and Woolly (tights and tutus having but briefly been considered) and grinning rictusly.

We stood trembling while our enthusiastic trainer Steve bombarded us with vital tips to get us started and keep us upright. His finest achievement was of course making us let go - of him as well as of the side.

For the blades don`t carve a gentle furrow – they skid uncontrollably about on top, because only diamond could penetrate that cold, evil surface.

`Don`t worry,` smiled Steve as we skittered about, `Everyone falls over sometime – you just get back up!` Obviously, he`s never seen Bambi. And his youthful bones wouldn`t be left on the ice in a trillion agonised shatterings.

As the tutoring session wore on, we did manage to inch forward by means of the lemon maneouvre - Bend knees-Toes out-Glide-Toes in-Knees straight.

(knees-toes what?)

In the nick of time we also learned to STOP!, to look where we were going (always prudent), and to attract the attention of a merry gang of under-tens as we attempted for some reason to navigate car tyres.

"Please can we watch?" they giggled. "Sod off" I snarled. To myself.

Soon we`d collected quite a crowd of schoolchildren, which I`m sure helped us relax into the terrifying uncontrolledness of it all. Specially when they started explaining to us where we were going wrong and that awful accident their brother had had when he kept doing exactly that.

Annoyingly though, a lot of their advice began to make sense, particularly after Our Trainer had departed. We found ourselves following their lead, imitating their bendy limbs and... having fun! – we could do Anything

In retrospect we may have got over-ambitious but no-one was really hurt and they`ve kindly reserved me a penguin for next time.

Look out for us on certain winter TV programmes next year.

Monday, February 2, 2015

If Thine Eye Offend Thee...

Aaaaaaah – get it Off me!

But no-one can hear me scream… It will cling to my eyeball like Alien to a space helmet for Ever.

How fortunate are we who can correct our vision with glasses and other foreign bodies like Contact Lenses.

I wear both, trying my first contact lenses at sixteen (probably not long after they were invented). Although that can`t be right because my dad had a vintage pair the shape of flying saucers. 
Mine were great – tiny hard discs that used to drop out every time I said Hello and hourly thereafter. On a night out once, a kind police car helped in the search by shining its headlights on the pavement we scrabbled about on. 
Alarming to think that in spite of the surrounding sea of splintered glass and dog crotte, if we`d found it, I`d have given it a lick and put it back in my eye…

Having miraculously escaped foul ailments, I recently took up with Lenses of the Soft Kind. And I must say, they`re jolly comfy and I can see for miles and miles. And when the optician manoeuvred them in and out it was a very smooth operation…

On my go, however… they let me have half a dozen fruitless attempts and then sent me home with tender words of Nil Desperandum. I didn`t desperandum until I realised I would be glued to this pair for the rest of my life.

There are myriad youtube vids demonstrating exactly how to ping them off with astonishing ease. Often the demonstrators look about fourteen and are dashing off this video tutorial before whizzing out to razzle or run a country or something, sporting their strange fake-iris contacts as some sort of ornament.

All I want mine to do is help me see beyond the end of my nose.

As I watched these laid-back stars of the google screen, it dawned on me that my problem could be the Hyperventilating – why couldn`t I, too, just breeeeathe and flip them out with a merry tune and wink at the camera…

And it worked – Ping

Now, did you see where they went?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Hug a Snail

Snails can be beautiful creatures -
but did you know they can make us beautiful too?
 One of my Christmas stocking fillers this year was a face mask or rather, an Intensive Anti-Aging Moisture Maskrejuvenating, purifying, moisturising and made of Organic Snail Gel
Naturally, this conjured up worrying images of the collecting process… how is a snail persuaded to hand over its gel unless at gunpoint? Where does it keep its gel?
Well Obviously (I discovered) it doesn`t need its gel (slime, in fact) once deposited in the process of moving (during which it is indeed jolly handy - particularly on the vertical or the upside-down).  Once Snail has hastened away, its deposit can be scraped up and used with abandon.
Internet delving assures that no snail is harmed in the harvesting of its output and they`re kept in such heavenly free-range conditions, they probably don`t even notice all those bucket-wielders following behind.  As someone who rushes to transfer any wayward snail struggling up the bin-bunker to a juicy green bit of our patch, I do like to believe they`re happy in their work.
Snail slime, used in olden times to treat gastro-intestinal ulcers and coughs (much the same), is now a hugely popular beauty aid, discovered in no small part by Chilean snail farmers noticing how soft and gentle their hands were. (They could probably even Do Dishes with them)…

It`s perhaps best not to dwell on the actual gelly base product - that image will never be glorious but luckily they disguise it... 

I, for instance, would never have guessed the origins of my face pack and though I say it myself, the  results are almost as miraculous as it says on the tin -  I feel smoothed, plumped and revitalised – a completely new woman! 

Mmm… don`t suppose you`ve got any cabbage on you...?

Monday, June 10, 2013


"After you…"
"Oh no, YOU have the table – I‘ll fold at home!"
"Well if you’re sure… Oh! is that your vest on the floor?"

Yes, that’s just how it is at Merryville Laundrette – why not Come On Down for an unforgettable day out with new friends and the chance to win big, BIG prizes! (Maybe not the Prizes). Nevertheless, it’s THE place to be with your Festerings. 

No longer the clutch of darkly muttering elbows you might remember from youthhood, battling to the death over washer and dryer - the Laundrette of today is a gathering of gay banter and sordid gossip, of crosswords, books and magazines and learning; a place where all ages and assets can

(So far, this young man from the ancient jeans advert hasn’t graced our laundrette with his boxers, but the other guy's a regular…)

And Pchaw to 24-hour supermarkets – this is the place to meet your new truelove – I mean, where better to gauge the cut of someone's jib than in the flourish of their fripperies?   

George and I have rediscovered the Shared Laundering Experience since moving to a house with room for neither dryer nor clothes-horse nor garden line. (I cannot describe our jubilation when we managed to squeeze the Washer in).

But what would be the Etiquette these days?

Should one simply bag a dryer, sit sighing extravagantly before it, then empty and charge off to do Vital Business? Or determinedly strike up conversation with the person gazing comatose at a notice about dangerous overloading…  whinge companionably perhaps about the swine who’s gone gallivanting off and left stuff in a machine, rendering it unuseable?

(In the old days it would have been emptied and fought over by everyone waiting -  now that’s probably against health and safety).  

Well I needn't have worried!  The Laundrette of today is very like the Lavoir of yesteryear - our next-door neighbour in France had one the bottom of her garden and up to the very Sixties,

everyone in the vicinity would commune to donk their laundry in the stream and bash it against the stones.  And a jolly hat was had by all.

Of course the handy and very popular rocky beach here provides a similar facility – just as well, because from easter onwards it's harder to find a Laundrette Machine not full of hotel sheets than it is a Parking Space in the eye of a camel.  (It is Written...)

So is Party-Laundering for you?  Would you like to rid yourself of calcium-buildup floods in your kitchen, or the machine that bursts into flames on an overnight Cotton Extraspin?

Perhaps forget clothes-washing completely, private or public:

Could you be tempted by this "...shirt you can wear for 100 days without washing or ironing!"?  (Yes we know about backpacking, but this one's fragrant at the end).  You might be slightly bored with it by then...
On the left, we see a man vigourously testing its sweatiness.

Or does the answer lie in those disposable paper dresses of yore?  Just wear and chuck when the wear and tear got too pronounced - they were like crunching around in crepe wrapping and they were FAB!
(That's very like me on the left).  Mine beloved own was an orange culotte dress.  Mercifully I can't recall how many wears it had before I could bring myself to chuck.