Sunday, November 25, 2007


The signs of advanced middle-age (at 54) can no longer be ignored. I've started wearing my reading-glasses on a string, and DON'T CARE. And I've been rapturising all week about my latest clothing purchase - a Pair of Comfy Slippers. (Look - my Betty Boop feathery ones just weren't sensible, OK? - I kept tripping over them).

And I've started referring to anonymous people on the end of the phone as "bloody twelve-year-olds" - irrefutable evidence that I'm a grumpy old sod.

But is it always without reason?

We had a letter from our bank in London this week saying they'd tried to contact us without success and could we phone them as soon as possible. (Posted, however, with a second class inland stamp and therefore five days old).

Card theft? Identity theft? God! Would there be anything left? We phoned immediately to try and save the dregs, to be greeted by a chirpy adolescent from Eastenders saying "Oh, hello Dolores, just a review really - d'you think you could pop in, Dolores? Ooooh, yeees, the address is in France, isn't it? What's the weather like there, Dolores?..."

It gladdens the heart, doesn't it, to know that one's diminishing dosh is in the hands of such dynamic brains?

Luckily my brain is too addled to worry.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Travels with my Hedgehog

The garden is eight feet deep in beautiful orange leaves at the moment. Forging his way back through them from the log shed last night, George noticed that not all the grunting and snuffling was coming from him. (Most of it was). But the leaves under the kitchen window were undulating in an interesting manner; a nearby cat shot inside instead of taking a swipe, and George realised it was a Busy Little Hedgehog.

What a delight - it was almost humming to itself as it grubbed about. We couldn't help shining a torch to get a better look, and it froze immediately into "you can't see me now so just bugger off" position. So we did.

To ponder upon the rich pageant of life's creatures to be found in the garden, and the even richer one to be found above our bedroom ceiling, now that the summer hornets have died off.

We were sorry when their jolly buzzings declined, and absolutely horrified one day in October when half a cup of reddy-brown goo seeped through the ceiling, right above my pillow. What the hell was that? Redundant honey, overflowing latrine, mass liquefaction?

After half a second's deep reflection we decided to block up the crack and try not to think about it, and I think the bundle of camel-printed kitchen towel and shiny brown parcel tape looks Very Stylish.

Since then though, night-time is rave-time up there. Whatever it is that has taken over the roof space hurtles from one side to the other, scrabbles against the walls and seems determined to dig through the ceiling and leap on top of us.

We cannot tell the size - it sounds like a mouse, a squirrel or a vampire depending on how carried away it's getting. If we peer in through the old hornet entrance outside, we see nothing but blackness.

What can we do? When the noise wakes us up and gets too scary, George gives the ceiling a jolly good battering with a big stick and all goes quiet. For a moment. And then it starts again... just a tiny tiny scratching at first, then more enthusiastic, then quite frenzied, and then George bashes the ceiling again until it gets bored.

I can't help dwelling on all those creepy stories about blood oozing through walls and hearts beating under floorboards... but I suppose it's more likely to be a poor little critter who accidentally got in and would like to go home. Probably.

Why can't all creatures be Hedgehogs? Think I'll go and put some apple down for him.