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. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cruel for Cats

‘Is he OK now, your cat?’ she asked, hurrying across the road as we came home the other day.

Well, not really… but he’s always been like that.

It transpired, though, that this woman had noticed a cat hooked by the claw in one of our front net curtains.   (Yes all right - Nets!   But we’re a handspan from a very busy pavement, and I like to keep our sordid goings-on to ourselves, thank you)!

Anyway, probably-Scully had apparently been struggling to unleash herself for aeons, and the concerned cat-lover had come over and rung the bell to alert us. With no answer, she’d crunched across our bit of gravel to the window to


And Loh! With one bound the cat was free!

Instant terror at the unexpected Looming of anyone Not-Us had instantly done the trick!     
(We're hoping to get her down and reunite her with the toe very soon).

So that’ll be another on our little-sweetie-cats’ long list of sufferings since we cruelly transplanted them to this Completely Unsuitable dwelling. With practically NO garden! 

Scully doesn’t even deem our patch worthy of a stroll in.

Mulder has valiantly found he fits snugly into an old black cooking pot by the weeping cherry. (With which he seems to feel an empathy).
Gazing out from the tree's sad danglings, he dreams tormentedly of the old days – the neighbour’s vegetable patch (his loo of choice), the stream at the bottom of  the garden full of sparkly swimmy things, the bushes overrun with tiny tasty rodents…

Now both poor dispirited specimens resort to sleeping (all day) in the sun-drenched bay window, grumpily accepting generous comments of passers-by, for surely they areso sweet and gorgeous, Mavis - probably very young don’t you think…?’

In fact, Mavis, they’re seventeen and molly-well coddled...

Hark! Could that be the agonised howl of a cat desiring to come in immediately? Or that, the pained expression of one desperately needing a dollop of whatever we’re having for tea instead of Not flaming kittychunks again? And could we STOP plumping the settee back into shape, because they’ve spent hours getting the cushion concavity just right…

They seek solace in a hitherto unknown diversion  – TV.   If George and I are watching, we now squeeze onto the settee with both cats. Mulder particularly loves David Attenborough or Anything with birds - his head follows their flappings like a tennis match.

But it’s slightly worrying that only their heads are getting exercised; in the past they always worked hard to stay in shape...

What can we do to reinvigorate their lives, once more to see their merry, appreciative faces prancing in from The Tree and CookingPot for dinner?

It might take a while...

And Now! (at last - I couldn't make it work...) for the results of Canary Islander's painstaking Research (see his comment May 2nd):-

Splendid, CI - Thank You!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bring me Fungus

Not long ago, in a blog not very far away, a wise man they call JW10 posted of Horse:

He told tales of burgers and ready meals invaded by horsemeat – invaded so cunningly that no-one could tell! 

Well, since JW10 unleashed this scandal, 60% of us have changed how we shop!  We don’t trust food any more - we're fleeing Processed Meat in terrified droves and some hitherto eaters of flesh are even going for vegetarian options!   The end of the world is surely nigh… 

Except, of course, for Vegetarian ready meal brands, sales of whose burgers, mince and sausages have suddenly soared.  Flavoured with hints of chicken, beef and not horse, they’re made from a form of fungus, you know.

A form of fungus.  What's so trustworthy about that?

George and I don’t eat huge amounts of processed food because we like cooking.   Mid house-move though, we lived entirely on ready meals and jolly nice too in their tempting plastic trays.

The first ready meal I remember was MadeByVesta – a veritable revolution in the sixties. At the time I’d never cooked anything except Chocolate Krackolate Cakes for school fetes (always a best-seller), but was inspired to make one of these miracle ready-curries for family tea.   Add boiling water, it said, give a quick stir and leave to festerno need to stand guard or stir again.   I'm sure that's what it said...

Mum and dad’s pan never recovered, and I gave up cooking.

Until, in bedsit-hovel days, I found Cup-Noodle and Pot-a-Soup. Nice and quick between work and gallivanting. Pour in boiling water and they’re… really edible. I became addicted -  sometimes adding, for an avant-garde twist, a tin of processed peas – sublime!

Even today, many find joy in pot and cup – only this week we met someone who’d tried his first Noodle ever, and found it Was Good.   Someone else we know delights daily in the taste and convenience of soups in a cup.   (A busy local TV celebrity who generally cooks cordon bleu). 

My own habits changed and I discovered (for gourmet gatherings) Boil-in-the-Bag.   That first Chinese Feast was a Triumph!  Except for the prawn balls, which turned out to be Not-boilinthebag and ended up bobbling around in the pan with strips of their molten plastic...  However, thirty seconds under the grill Worked Wonders.  

These days, cooking is always a joy, and I owe a goodly part of my expertise and quick thinking in the face of trauma to the eyebrows of Fanny Cradock:

Inspirational.  And it is She who's (Wikily) credited as the originator of the Prawn Cocktail! 

But what now of the horses?

Well obviously - it's all been a huge emotional upset...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Is Cyber-Loafing for You?

Are you sitting comfortably? And is your comfort conducive to making a good job of whatever it is you’re doing at the moment?

It has recently been revealed that the founder of Facebook likes to keep the office temperature down at 15C/60F in order to encourage productivity. This is a whole degree below the office legal minimum - apparently intended to keep us jiggling about in our seats, brains palpitating in sync and pouring forth ideas and Stuff of brilliance.   Instead of enjoying ourselves.

For researchers at Kansas State University have shown that 60-80% of internet time in the office is spent Cyber-Loafing

If I knew what it was I’d have a go – it must be a Lot of Fun...  but is it fair? 

Lucy Kellaway of the FT refers to such dilly-dallying as Theft of our employers’ time. Well I feel bad about that already, but it was suggested that some kind of public shaming was needed - stocks were mentioned (would there be enough room in the car park for them all?). 

Or simple discomfort might suffice - Ms Kelloway tried standing up all day at work and didn’t Twitter once…

When I last worked in an office, mere email was a thrilling new world (‘oh god – where the hell’s that one gone?’). Surrounded by the webly temptations of today, it might be difficult to Just Say No

I mean, having a free moment before Rummikub club, I’ve just checked today's HuffPost, some favourite Twitterings, then I've googled - the musical group of the son of someone I met at the bus stop; a youtube vid on how to streak your hair with a hat full of holes and a crochet hook; and routes from France to UK for imminent visitors. 

And every google offered multitudinous sites, all of which led to countless other fascinating sites, and eventually answered every question in the universe.

Apparently in the harmonious period BeforeCyberloaf, people were sometimes encouraged in the workplace to put their All into actual Work by inducements of luscious fruit or zumba classes or the like - merry distractions to bring a beam to your face and to gird your loins for plunging back into the fray.   

Meetings BC (it is written) were more likely to carry on ad infinitum because everyone would get comfily ensconced round the table as they were plied with tea and coffee. 

Well  NO MORE!

SinceCyberloaf   it takes more than a chocolate bourbon to wrench us away from our personal diversions - it takes punishment!

At 15C (and chairless), people in meetings will no doubt be battling to get their word in and jog briskly off, woolly hats askew.

Coated at our desks, we'll try anything to keep warm...
...though I think that's going a bit far and just LOOK at those trainers! 
Anyway, Is Cyber-Loafing for you?
Yes! Oh yes! - it's a Drug, it's an Obsession, it's a Joy!
And it's in the back bedroom with the rest of our office space.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Space rather Oddity

Dear Mr Tito
I would like to apply for the position of Space Tourism Pioneer advertised this week in space journals (and other less worthy papers), and enclose my CV.

To begin with, I’d like to point out that I have kept a picture of you in my treasure box ever since you became the world’s first space tourist in 2001.   Such is my passion...

When I saw that you now want to inspire a new generation of space investigators, I was so excited!   I mean, the capsule’s really-really dinky for a start...

I’ve studied all the coverage in depth, and can only suggest I’d be perfect for the job:  flexible, adaptable, able to fit in small spaces, can bring my own never-failing sea-sick pills...

A quick scan of my CV will show that I have much more to offer:

I am half a "happily married middle-aged couple" (will there be a test of any sort on that...?).

George is quite handy around the home when any temperamental bits of machinery pack up.

We quite like staying in watching dvds (films like Alien have not put us off, and Apollo 13 taught us exactly what to do in an emergency).

Somewhere we read with a teensy bit of concern that the trip would involve "minimal clothing, food and water" - what does that mean?  

Will there be minimal tubes of stuff that expand when you swallow them into Bangers and Mash or Pork Curry or something, with water incorporated?  - Let us know if you need a list of preferences...  

And those  minimal space suits look jolly comfy! - we could easily spray each other from time to time with Freshasabreeze.   (I often use it on his socks anyway…)

In fact, I don't suppose it'll be much different to that week’s camping in the Yorkshire Dales we had at easter, and that was fabulous fun!  

The only thing I didn’t like was the trek across the field to the loo-block at two in the morning, and Obviously I won’t have to go outside our capsule!!   (actually I must ask about that procedure…).   And can I just check - will there be anywhere to plug in my hairdrier?

So sixteen months of "no-escape togetherness" may seem scary to some people, but George and I are never at a loss when it comes to occupying ourselves – for those down in the dumps moments, a good old sing-song never fails to raise the spirits, does it.   Would there be room for George's accordeon?

We can't wait to boldly go and experience the thrill of looking out of the window to  "see the Earth getting smaller and smaller".   And sixteen months without gas bills or hedge-pruning can't be bad, can it!

In conclusion, Mr Tito (Dennis!), I'd be available for interview any time except Thursday mornings.  (Although I could miss my  knitting-a-sock for pleasure and profit  if necessary).  

I - I mean, We, fearless, intrepid voyagers - look forward to hearing from you.  (Have enclosed SAE for your convenience).

If we find a Martian, can we keep him?


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Out Damned Spot!

Mummy, mummy - why are your teeth so white?

Why that’s easy darling! I simply smear them twice daily with Banana Peel - the first time to wake them up after breakfast, the second time to calm them down before bedtime.

Just two minutes of rubbing that delicious inner banana peel against my teeth forces those precious banana minerals - potassium, manganese and magnesium - into the enamel, and they’re gleamy clean and white!
 (I'm the one on the left).

Have you Noticed how teeth are getting Whiter these days? And if they aren’t, it seems they jolly should be.

Google will return multitudinous methods of achieving maximum lightness including… lemon juice, bicarb, various peroxides, even urine to whiten your teeth. (Well, ancient romans used it, and they were pretty successful in lots of other things).

Beware, though, for further googling leads to WARNINGS about many of these and the possible melting of your teeth, your gums, and a great big hole in the carpet.
So I've chosen the safe and tasty Banana Option.

Because although since my twenties I’ve scrubbed my teeth with the force of a sandblaster, they’re more lustrous beige than white. Or Pearly, I like to think…

Dentists are pleased about their spotlessness but suggest I go a bit easier now, in order to save any remaining enamel. Every so often a tooth will break on a delicate breadstick and have to be glued back. And one of the front teeth is false, owing to a death-defying high-speed tumble onto a concrete patio when I was nine. That’s beige as well, but not quite matching.

A sorry tale indeed. It cannot be my fault so I like to blame genetics - I am indeed the spitting image of my departed dad, particularly around the hair and teeth.

Yes, we laughed about it then…

But all is not lost. I’ve only been doing the banana thing for three days and already the difference is dazzling! I have great hopes for a perfect toothal transformation.

Talking of revamps, there is, of course, YAEBA!

Hordes of people in Japan are paying to have their dreary old straight fangs mangled in the image of a pop idol over there whose teeth are naturally yaeba’d, (where canines are pushed forward by molars). If you want to be trendy without the pain, you can have canines simply glued onto your existing ones.

Hopefully, (although you don’t know where they’ve been do you), these sticky-on teeth would be a similar hue to your others.

For something a little more In-Your-Face, how about Gold?

GORGEOUS!  Does it always come with Tattoo though...


Anyway, I think I’ll give my banana-peel a month or so...  If nothing’s happened by then, I’ll just sell the cats for riches and go for a Professional job…