Monday, 31 December 2007

New Year's Eve - Sick Again

New Year's Eve today. Still not 100% after the Turkey & Tinsel and still taking Imodium, I have once again severely reduced my food intake. I think my first cup of coffee in ages set me off again yesterday. Shame, since I really like coffee. I shall also have to avoid all the fruit remaining in the house and may offer it to my neighbour upstairs.

The usual dire offerings from the telly, so shall probably watch one of the Bigas Luna collection DVDs which have arrived today. Although it has some rather sexy scenes, I seem to remember that the only one I have seen - Jamon, jamon - was rather good and very funny in parts. We shall see. I have been urged by an anonymous commentator to acquaint myself with Re-animator, so shall look it out. The DVD I am totally after is La Communidad, which I hope will arrive shortly. I have ordered several other DVDs today so am looking forward to some lazy evenings. I shall have to get a new telly next since the one I have is far too enormous.

In the evening I became very unwell and stayed in bed watching TV, doubled up in severe abdominal pain all night. I decided that the only thing was to rest, so I lay there, sipping water occasionally. I could have done with a hot water bottle to hug, but must have got thrown my last one away. I must buy one of those lavender sacks you can heat in the microwave as it would have helped. The noise outside was amazing - at midnight I could hear the fireworks, then lots of shouting later, then someone walking around beating a drum for ages.

This morning the pain is rather less, but I think I shall have to stick to water alone for the next few days and not take any more Imodium. I am not at all sure what is going on but can only hope for an eventual recovery and meanwhile, stay in bed.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

New Jewels and Drinkies

Rang Dorothy last night. Temperature down, throat still v. nasty, and quite crabby which is usually a sign of recovery.

I found someone called Freya on Ebay who makes hand-made jewellery. Quite expensive, but they are all semiprecious or precious stones, bound with gold-filled wire and set in vermeil. bought a pendant of pink and green tourmaline which was very intricate, and encouraged by the excellent craftsmanship, have bought myself another Christmas present of a pair of very elaborate earrings in amethyst, moss amethyst and chrome diopside. I do like a combination of greens and purples. She also has a gorgeous pair of earrings in corally kind of pink, mixed with small pink sapphire beads and large turquoise stones of something called Larimar, which comes from the Caribbean. Very tempting for the summer. I think her shop is called Tiger Burning Bright.

My Chairman and his wife have just been around for drinks to admire my new sitting room. They brought some Christmas biscuits and jams and jellies, always much appreciated.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Poor Old Ex

'Dagon' is absolute rubbish and not all that scary. Quite unintentionally funny in bits, though. I had remembered it being better in Spain. Months of watching DVDs every night there obviously blunted any sense of discrimination I may have had. Shows the dumbing down effect of isolation. In Spain I tended to watch mainly Spanish and French films as I liked them more than the American ones.

My first ex husband turned up today. We had a short drink in the local while he expressed a desire to reacquaint himself with the rest of the family. Poor chap has been mentally ill for many years and has gradually fallen out with everyone because of his behaviour, suddenly starting to get aggressive and shouting at people. Not least of his problems is that he smells appalling as he never washes and wears the same clothes for years. Actually I am not sure he never washes, but his clothes absolutely reek. Despite my plucking up the courage to mention this on several occasions old bad habits have died hard, and he seems incapable of changing his ways, but it is a bit of a shame as I think the smell and general filth explains his inability to find friends. I have tried buying him new clothes, but he will not throw the old ones away. This year I could not bring myself to have him in the house. When he came around last year the place seemed to stink for days, literally.

He seems to have lost weight but told me he does not eat at all in the day - just drinks lots of black coffee and eats a meal in the evening. The only reason I see him is that I send him some money every year and I think he feels he has to see me to thank me. Next year I shall have to pretend to be too busy. It was suggested that I stop sending the money, but I suspect it is the only present he gets, so don't want to do this.

What is strange is that when I met him he was a young student at Oxford, very dapper and often wearing embroidered waistcoats as was the fashion then. He took great care with his appearance. It is so sad to see him now, remembering how he once was.

Julian, Dorothy and Food Processor

Friday. Last night I went to see Ennio Marchetto with Julian and Michiko. Dear Michiko brought me a gift, a cute little pannetone from Patisserie Valerie. Julian was looking very smart indeed in a black, grey and white checked coat with black velvet collar which she had purchased in the Vivienne Westwood sale. The show was absolutely great - rapid changes between 'personalities' - one often merging into another - I loved the transformation of Kylie into the Singing Nun. Very funny. Such a shame Dorothy could not be there. We must book when Ennio is in London again. I shall ring later to check on Dorothy's progress.

I have rung and left messages but no reply from Julian or Dorothy so I shall have to continue to worry. Malvolio has just clawed my leg in a vain attempt to obtain an early dinner.

I went in to John Lewis today intending to buy a Magimix, but could not lift it up. In the end I bought the John Lewis food processor, a bit lighter, but had to drag it to the taxi rank. I don't see why they have to be so heavy. Some years ago I had a super little light one which worked perfectly well. This John Lewis one is a bit beyond me with complicated instructions. Used as a simple food processor and not for grating or slicing it is not too bad though, but rather a clumsy design when it comes to getting the lid on or off. In the end I gave up on the pheasant pie, and just mushed the pheasant up with cooked vegetables, a couple of onions and the gravy and made a kind of babyfood version which looks revolting but tastes quite good actually.

A DVD of a Spanish film 'Dagon' arrived today. I seem to remember it is some kind of horror film involving mutants living in a fishing village on a remote island. Shall reacquaint myself with it later. Actually the cast is Spanish but the director appears to be Stuart Gordon, creator of 'Re-Animator', whatever that is.

Julian rang me back to say Dorothy is OK despite a very high temperature again last night. I shan't be happy until Dorothy is completely recovered.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Winterval Lull

Another very quiet day. Poor Dorothy even worse this morning with a temp of 104F. Fortunately this is now down to 100F. It really does sound like a nasty infection. Julian and I are going to Ennio Marchetto with a friend of hers as Dorothy is so unwell and must remain in bed.

I have recommenced the piles of washing which seem endless and trying to decide what to do with the remains of the Christmas food. I did make quite a decent pheasant soup, some of which I had for lunch. I may well purchase a food processor tomorrow. I have been meaning to do this for so long and keep being unable to make things because I don't have one. I could make a pheasant shepherd's pie. Might be interesting and it's not something I have tried before. I don't see why it shouldn't be very good indeed.

It is getting colder again outside. I rang Miss Bettaware. Since I now have a funeral to attend on 11th, I may travel up to Clacton in the morning of 12th, and stay overnight, returning on the Sunday afternoon. All subject to Julian being able to catsit, of course.

Spoke to Dorian, who is going to Barcelona on the way to Mahon tomorrow and looking for a restaurant near the port. Since Can Majo does not open until 8.30pm and they are getting the 9.45 ferry, they will probably go to Set Portes, as it starts serving at 7pm. If they book and stick to one course they should be OK.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Good Christmas But Boxing Day 'Flu

Dorothy and Julian arrived bearing gifts, food and drink. I was rather worried about feeding them as they are accustomed to eating in decent restaurants. However, the pheasants were fine, also the roast potatoes, and I managed not to overcook the baby carrots, parsnips, petits pois, and brussels sprouts with chestnuts. We stuck to sparkling white wine and finished off with one of Marco's puds: a kind of semifreddo with nuts and praline with a fruit sauce. We vegetated around and altogether, had a good day.

They were due to reappear today but I just had a call from Julian to say that Dorothy had become quite ill and developed really bad 'flu symptoms. I panicked when Dorothy said the temp. had risen to 102F, but had subsided a bit since. I persuaded Dorothy to take aspirin and drink plenty of fluids and if the temp did not go down satisfactorily, to ring NHS Direct immediately. I do hope my advice will be taken. I shall just have to wait and see how Dorothy is tomorrow.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Speeding Towards Christmas

Feeling a bit better. Had some scrambled egg and toast last night.

Well, it's Christmas Eve and I have polished the silver, iced the cake, cooked and peeled some chestnuts, done masses of washing and more shopping. Ocado sent some very bruised pears, no good for a Christmas fruit bowl, and some dark green bananas which will take ages to ripen. Despite this I have managed to assemble a large bowl of fruit, see above.

Madeleine rang to say she had met the long lost relatives, and was due to introduce them to her sisters in the New Year. Maybe I shall meet some of mine next year. We shall see.

I am toying with the idea of going up to Soho for a last minute look. Perhaps I can find some marrons glacees for Dorothy. Or not. The alternative is a visit to Marks & Spencer in Walworth Road. Not sure of the transport situation since the traffic sounds very quiet outside. I heard someone on TV say Ken should provide transport on Christmas day for all the people visiting family and friends, and workers, who would all have to hire private cars. It seems that Christmas day public transport is provided in all other major cities. I can't remember how long it has been missing in London, but was always there years ago, albeit a Sunday service. The assumption seems to be that everyone has a car, which is ridiculous, especially in a city which is supposed to be discouraging private car ownership.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Sunday Before Christmas

Just a glimpse of the tree in the corner.

It is now Sunday. I spent yesterday doing washing and being generally exhausted. I heard that my poor neighbour who died suddenly had in fact been having chest and arm pains for the past few months, but that the hospital had put these down to 'stress'. I was in the Lye Torng when another neighbour, an elderly woman, came in, shocked about the news. She said that he had fixed a door for her recently, and had often done these sort of kind acts for various people. I managed to find some snaps of him with his wife which I took a few years ago . I shall put these into a condolence card for his widow.

I have just realised the shopping is coming this morning. I have made a kind of eggless marzipan for the top of the cake, and shall sort the icing out today. I don't know whether I dare venture to eat anything this morning. Yesterday, I just had sparkling water, flat coke, and in the evening, one oat biscuit. Much though I am tempted by the thought of my usual Sunday croissant and coffee, I feel this might be unwise. We shall see.

I just can't believe it is Christmas on Tuesday. Though I have done most things, I feel quite unprepared. I feel a long session of silver cleaning coming on.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Imodium Break

Back on Friday after a very exhausting week.

Everything went as planned on Monday and we settled in to our hotel for the short break. The next day 'Christmas Day' we were notified that one of our charges had been unwell the previous evening. Romy and I consulted NHS Direct who advised a visit to A & E. We spent many hours in A & E and it was eventually decided to admit the patient for further investigations. I escaped from the hospital at about 3.30pm, absolutely starving, and wolfed down some fish and chips.

That evening during dinner there were crackers and a general festive air, and Father Christmas was announced ringing a bell and bearing gifts for the visitors. The next day was to be our excursion to a fish and chip restaurant in Brighton, followed by the pantomime matinee of Cinderella. However, during the night I had an embarrassing attack of diarrhoea which went on all night and continued into the morning. Romy got me some Imodium, but this failed to take effect before we were due to depart, so I was trapped in my room, while poor old Romy had to deal with everything alone - two coachloads of punters and wheelchairs.

There was one wheelchair in fact - needed by three people, and poor Romy pushed this back and forth three times to get people in and out of the restaurant and theatre. Apparently both the panto and lunch were a success. I had recovered slightly by the evening, but was not well enough to make an appearance. There were a couple more people also feeling ill with some diarrhoea and vomiting.

Yesterday I felt I had overcome things and had a little toast, lunch and supper, and spent some of the day shopping. I still felt exhausted by the end of the day, so Rosemary cheered the punters on for the last night of the celebrations.

By 7am today, the day of our return by coach, my illness had returned with a vengeance. Overdosing myself with imodium I managed somehow to get up and dressed. Romy called with the news that twelve others had come down during the night or that morning with vomiting or diarrhoea. We consulted NHS Direct once more, who advised giving out Imodium all round, supplying sick bags and giving everyone bottles of water. Our hospital patient was returned just in time for the return journey after Romy rang the hospital to hurry them up and send him back to the hotel in a cab. We were all rather subdued in the coaches, and finally arrived back, a few still very unwell, including me. We cabbed all the sick ones back to their houses. I shall give up all food for several days and exist on flat Coke and Dioralyte. I do hope everyone is better for Christmas. Romy showed me the film she made on her camera of everyone singing and enjoying themselves greatly the night before, so it was all rather a sudden onset.

To cap it all, yesterday, I had a call from a friend to say that a neighbour who was quite young, in his late forties, had been found dead at home after going for a short rest. Although I did not know him well, he was a very nice guy and I had seen him around often over the past twelve years. I last saw him a day before we went away, exercising the husky dog he had bought for his wife. It always seems so dreadful when a comparatively young person dies.

I spent some time in Grays Antiques this afternoon looking for a present for Julian. There was absolutely nothing suitable and we agreed to spread our wings and look further afield in the New Year. However, we did find a nice bag in Browns which met the case for Christmas. Julian tells me this goes well with her other things and is very pleased with it. I am beginning to think that maybe either Richmond or Brighton might be good places for small antique jewellery shops.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Lunch with Friends and Packing

My little tree without the lights on.

A slightly hectic day, but generally successful. My friends turned up and we opened some cava and exchanged presents. Eventually we set off for the restaurant and had a very enjoyable late lunch and back for coffee and more catching up.

Having packed my case, which I was using for the first time (bought by someone who had lost one of my cases) I was carrying it upstairs when the bits of plastic near the wheels broke off, rendering it useless. I unpacked it into my one remaining much smaller case. Romy had texted me during the day reporting in fit to travel. I do hope she won't injure herself again trying to help people on and off buses. I shall suggest she stands well clear and leaves it all to the driver. I hope I don't forget anything vital. Watched Cranford which of course ended well. I am a bit nervous about this jaunt to Eastbourne as it is very cold indeed outside and will probably be even colder by the sea. I hope to be back on Friday at around 1 - 2pm.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Books and Telly

My mantelpiece with snowy cone candle and balsawood models.

Just been re-reading Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One. One of Dorian's pseudonyms was Joyboy, which I thought was familiar, and am now able to advise him against using this after finding a Mr. Joyboy in the book. Just starting The Uncommon Reader which is mildly amusing, another slim volume.

Blast, just missed fifteen minutes of 'Cranford'. Must dash. Ah, discovered that it is tomorrow night, so watched final of X-factor. Glad to see the little Scottish lad win, despite the superiorly amazing voice of the Welsh alien, Rhyddian. Must be the maternal instinct as Leon was an absolute sweetie.

No Internet, Curtains and Tree

Some of my readers find my curtains to be rather questionable. Here's a larger shot of what they look like. I may or may not keep them but suspect they could be relegated to the spare room if I can get someone to fix a curtain rail there.

My internet has been out of action for over a week and apparently it is not my fault, something to do with the providers, Orange, though apparently they never admit it.

Dorothy and Julian kindly found me a tree in Borough Market, which they brought over today. Dorothy also had a go and has at least temporarily fixed my internet. So there is now a Christmas tree in my sitting room and I have changed my mantel decorations as they were a bit overwhelming. I now have a central large pine cone shaped candle, surrounded by little painted balsawood scenes created by Larry Bickerton, a former colleague of my stepfather's who has been a good friend to the family. Until last year I received one of these every year, some will hang from a large tree, but I have saved nearly all as standing decorations.

Tomorrow I am meeting my ex UCH colleagues and we are going off for lunch to Caprini I think. I shall have to pack because I am leaving on Monday morning for a Turkey and Tinsel break with the punters. I am unsure whether Romy is coming as she has injured her back badly. We shall see.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Curtain Obsession

I have now taken the curtains down and put up some which are a better length. However they don't really go with the colour scheme in the room which is kind of pink, red, turquoise and blue with rugs and soft furnishings and white paintwork. However they do go with the white paintwork. They are really funny curtains with mustachioed guardsmen standing in rows. I think they are from the fifties or sixties. I think they might be a Sanderson print - bright red, blue, black and gold uniforms against a white background. See snap above. I may well swap these for something more suitable, and put them in the spare room. With a white bedcover, some red and blue cushions including my union jack one, I think they will look excellent and quite amusing in a camp way.

I shall have to think about what to put in my room. First I need to get a bit of plastering on the window side of the wall done, and let this dry for however long it takes. As well as dealing with the aforementioned bric a brac and books. I have made a good start with the books by giving Louise about ten which I have recently read, with another ten to come soon. Today she was wearing some smart black suede boots which I admired. Apparently I had given her these as the legs had been too tight around the calf. They looked really good and I was glad that she liked them.

My nephew has offered to paint my room, but says he is no good at paintwork, OK on walls and ceilings though. It won't need doing for a while because of the plastering.

Pre-Christmas Clean Up

I am still worrying about Dorothy and Julian. Oh well. I found my Topsy Turvy DVD and tried to play it in my laptop but it came up with something about it being in the wrong drive region and how I could only change this four times. However it did not tell you how to change it in the first place so I cancelled it. Pity as I would really like to see this film.

I have been turning out my linen cupboard and have masses of not very exciting stuff for the women's aid place. More duvet sets than sheets, which I have now stored separately. Put up some curtains which are a bit short in my bedroom with great difficulty wondering if the ladder would support my great weight. Also even on the ladder the rail is very hard to reach. I may have another go with some slightly longer curtains later on today. The trouble, I have decided, is that I have vast quantities of bric a brac, and will have to get rid of a substantial quantity of this. Hortense may be a good recipient as she always seems to know someone who can take what she doesn't want, so I shall attempt a major amount of sorting, but probably not until the New Year now. Meanwhile I shall attempt to tidy up the vast quantities of books and filing which are littering the place.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

A Night Out At Caprini

Yesterday I rang Dorothy, who was not feeling sociable and was having a bad day. This made me rather worried as to why so I emailed Julian who did not reply, so they were obviously both having a bad day. I do hope things are improving today , or one of them will let me know if I can help.

I had a funny Christmas card from my new brother, Mykel, which made me laugh, and another from a neighbour. Hortense and Robin turned up in the early evening, Hortense clutching a Christmas present for me which she tried to make me open. I insisted that I was a traditionalist and would have so little to open on Christmas Day that I would prefer to open it then.

We decided to go to Caprini, since they had not been there before. This time we had a table at the back of the restaurant since I was not keen to go upstairs. I think I will try upstairs next time, but downstairs is rather jolly and one can observe the other punters.

I started with my favourite egg mayonnaise which is so hard to find these days, especially with lots of salad bits, Robin ordered melon with Parma ham and Hortense settled for assorted cold meats, sausages, pate and olives, which turned out to be a vast plateful of food. We asked for tap water which came in a huge jug as well as glasses full, with ice and lemon, and we had half a litre of house red and ditto house white.

For mains Robin and I had garlic prawns with rice, and Hortense had a mixed seafood pasta. These were all enormous, and we were brought finger bowls afterwards. We absolutely could not face desserts, so came back for coffee. Chatting to the staff as is her wont, Hortense discovered that they were all Portuguese, and the manager/owner went back to Portugal for a few days every month to visit his parents there. The staff were very nice and helpful and the food delicious in an old-fashioned kind of way. It reminded me a lot of the cafes in Barcelona where I used to eat.

We came back for coffee and a chat and Hortense told me about some poor neighbours who would be happy for some bits and pieces, and also that the local women's shelter always needed sheets and other bedding. I shall go through my airing cupboard which is full to bursting to see what I can find. We parted at 1am, when my neighbour opposite was just arriving home with her 85 year old father from a jolly evening out. 'Hey! we should go to the Ministry for a dance now' she called over the road. 'Behave!' I replied, so we all said our farewells.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Agreeable Friday Afternoon and Evening

I went to Borough Market yesterday with an old friend, Hortense,who wanted to invite me for a birthday tea. We wandered about the market for a while first, which was very pleasant with children from a local school singing carols and Christmas songs. I bought some fleur de sel, recently highly recommended by Marco, which I had been using for years anyway, some prunes d'Agen, and some red peppercorns.

We then had a marvellous tea. Amazingly, the place was completely full of people still having lunch at 4pm. They seemed to be in groups from local offices having a Christmas lunch. We had a table by the window so could observe goings-on outside. For my birthday, Hortense gave me a clever little ring holder, in the shape of a cat with blue eyes. Funnily enough, I used to have an identical brass one with green eyes, but had lost this, so the new one will be very handy.

We had a long chat about the past and our recent doings before coming back to my place. The floor was not admired . Hortense said that it looks like laminate, but perhaps this was because it is new! However she did quite like my white colour scheme and my new lamp, which no one else has liked. She also liked the chintz, which I gave her, and which they may come and collect today. Her husband Robin was on the company Christmas outing, apparently on a paddle steamer on the Thames. We tried to visualise this and decided it would not exactly be our kind of thing, especially at this time of year. It put me in mind of an awful river trip I made to Greenwich many years ago, again a staff outing, which sounded inviting but was absolutely appalling - everyone getting totalled and beer cans being thrown over the side - two of us managed to get off at Greenwich and avoid the return trip! I do hope Robin's one was rather better than that.

We discussed computers and emails - Hortense is not keen - and blogs - she is very much against. Rather like Pierre in Canada Hortense thinks these are the products of inflated egos, and said she would not like the world to be able to see all about her private life. I confessed to an inflated ego, Hortense heartily concurred and we agreed to disagree about blogs.

After a couple of gins we sloped off to La Dolce Vita for dinner. This was OK but I think I prefer the more intimate experience at Caprini. The Dolce Vita is more handy, only about five minutes walk from the house. We both had asparagus soup, then I had liver and she had three enormous lamb chops with vegetables, then we realised how late it was and she set off home. During dinner there were long chats about one thing and another. It seems that Robin's aunt, a Frenchwoman, played piano for Piaf many years ago, and that she had been featured in the film La Vie En Rose. I thought of my father playing the trumpet in the film Isadora, which I have been told about but not seen the film. Life, eh?

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Parties and Pom Poms

Had a good day at work, Romy doing sterling stuff with holidays, outings, parties, etc. colour coding applications and working out how many attenders and so on. New Year party highly oversubscribed, but not enough to justify two parties. We decided to invite members and spouses only, and to otherwise allow only more than one ticket where helpers were actually needed, as members and trustees were the priority.

Romy's brother-in-law and wife were at the office on business with some antique chairs and they kindly invited this antique out for a birthday luncheon at Guiseppe's, a little Italian place up the road. I discovered that Romy's sister-in-law makes the most beautiful dense pom poms, some of which she had hanging from a scarf. Apparently she makes these just by winding wool across her hand, tying the middle and trimming. This is easier than using a pom pom maker, but requires more trimming at the end, which is no hardship. Must try this method. Anyway, we had a lovely lunch before getting back to the party question. We could purchase raffle prizes while on the Turkey and Tinsel break, also in the January sales, where we might find some bargains. Last year we had far too many small prizes, due to donations, so we have decided to provide fewer and better prizes this year.

I shall be meeting my old UCH colleagues here on Sunday week, the day before I leave for Eastbourne. We shall have a drink here then probably stagger off to the Caprini for lunch. They will be able to admire/criticise my new sitting room.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Dinner at Caprini with Old Friends

Well, the wine flowed at Caprini all right. I had completely forgotten the unpunctuality of my friend Evon, who was giving Kate a lift. I turned up a bit early, which was just as well, because even at a small place like Caprini there was a large party upstairs and downstairs was absolutely full, so I jealously guarded a table until they finally arrived half an hour late. By this time I was a little drunk, so we ordered a bottle of champagne and some red wine and water for Evon. It was a nice little place, with leisurely service, and the food was fine apart from Evon's steak, which was not as rare as she would have liked. I started with egg mayonnaise which was heartily garnished with cucumber and tomatoes, and they both had melanzane parmigiano. We all had sirloin steaks with a very nice pepper sauce to follow.

I think one of the very interesting things about the Caprini is the variety of customers - some grabbing a meal on their way home - some obviously regulars - and all very different. There were middle-aged housewives, male work colleagues, young couples, a clerical type with a religious badge on his chest, and an elderly man clutching a copy of an Orwell novel, who was also an obvious regular. I had plenty of time to observe these before the others arrived. Kate gave me a super postcard sized card of her work which was backed as a fridge magnet. Apparently this does not cost much to have made but is done in America.

We spent hours, mainly discussing Evon's plans and problems, became quite lively and then came back for coffee. I had not realised that neither of them had seen my new kitchen and bathroom, let alone my new sitting room, but all was duly admired. We parted with the promise to meet more often.

I may well revisit the Caprini, but also may well attempt to drink a bit less.

Nyang and Eggy Peggy

'Decca' is a bit of a curate's egg. But I have now found out that 'nyang' means sweet. Our former treasurer at work often used this description, and I never liked to show my ignorance by asking what it meant. It is described in the book as 'Mitfordian', but I suspect it may be a Harrow expression since he was an old Harrovian and hardly likely to have met the Mitfords.

Strange thing, invented words and languages. When I was a small child we used to speak something called Eggy Peggy to hide our conversations from adults. You basically slipped an egg between the syllables, i.e. cheggild, pronounced 'chayguiled' was child. This got more complicated with long words. 'Basically' would become 'beggaseggiceggalleggy'. The more you practised, the faster it got and the easier to use. It all came to a rapid end when I crossly said 'begguregger' in front of my vehemently anti-swearing stepfather, who replied 'heggouw deggare yeggou sweggear!' at which point I realised the game was up.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Lovely Birthday Dinner

Today my old friend Victoria invited me to tea at Roast on Friday. We shall meet earlier here and have a wander around Borough Market before repairing upstairs for tea.

Tonight I am meeting a couple of fellow artists at Caprini, which I hope will be okay. We don't have great expectations, but hope it will be friendly, warm, and with flowing wine!

Last night Dorothy took us for my birthday dinner at Magdalen. There were two quite noisy parties when we arrived and my heart sank a bit, but fortunately they were good natured and had started ahead of us, so left early. Magdalen was very pleasant, we all had a potted crab starter, then Julian and I had roast pheasant, and Dorothy and Madeleine had lamb. We drank some very good cava. Dorothy had french toast with ice cream for dessert and I had gingerbread ice cream, both of which were delicious, the french toast, tasted by all, was the winner. After coffees, Julian wanted to show Madeleine, a west Londoner, exactly where we were so we strolled over to the river. The view was magnificent, with the mayor's office on the right, modern buildings to the left with small floodlit fountains, and Tower Bridge on the right just beyond. Madeleine said it looked rather like a film set. I'd like to take some snaps of that late at night some time.

At dinner, Dorothy and Julian gave me my present: some Chanel no 5 and a lovely little gold tie pin from 1840, shaped like a decorative bamboo twig with a tiny owl with pink tourmaline jewelled eyes. Absolutely beautiful and exquisite.

Madeleine took the rug I gave her and left me with my present - very apt, the Jessica Mitford letters, which I eagerly took to bed with me and immediately started to read.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Problem Cat and GP Visit

last night Malvolio took to crying out and pacing around and sniffing again. I got up and noticed he was staggering slightly and decided he was hypo or hyper, so gave him a bit of dry food. He eventually settled on the spare bed and is fine today.

I went to the doctors . I expressed my fear that Malvolio may have given me impetigo on the cheek. They felt it looked more like rosacia, but gave me some antibiotic gel in any case, which would deal with either. Tried to find some extra presents in the local college sale, but there was no one at the stalls and could not find anything for sale. Any extra presents I need might well be found in Eastbourne, where there are a multitude of shops.

Nasty Spotty Face

I think I have managed to sort the phone out by getting a long adaptor. I then discover you have to charge it up for fifteen hours before using it so have reconnected the old one to the phone jack thing. Will try and set it up tomorrow when it has charged up.

I had some nasty little spots on one cheek some time ago. I put these down to too many chocs, put some scent on them and they faded. However recently they have reappeared, with a couple of extra ones. I decided to put a bit of steroid cream on them which has made all the skin go bright red and hot. I have now decided that they are infected but can't make up my mind what they are. The evil Malvolio may have brought in something nasty from the garden, and he does have a habit of gently scratching my cheek to wake me up. The problem is that it looks revolting and is getting worse rather than better, so I shall have to visit the GP and try and wring some antibiotic cream out of them, and probably some systemic antibiotics too. Typical of this to happen the day before my birthday. I may see if I can find some antiseptic concealer cream for the time being. I may have to put some thick make-up on before venturing out though. Damn nuisance.

I caked some foundation on after liberally dabbing with TCP, then purchased some calamine lotion and some concealer for my dinner date tomorrow. First it's over to the GP for a diagnosis and hopefully, some treatment.

I bought some sliced Ukrainian bread from the shopping centre which turns out to be very nice toasted.

I had a tiny radiator leak which Dorian has kindly been over and fixed, so one less thing to worry about.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Pheasant Success but Telephone Problem

Pheasants are down to £4 each or 3 for £10 in Borough Market. Got 4 for £13, and Richard sold me a small bottle of Leffe Brune for £1. I threatened to send all the punters to his stall. The place was absolutely full of tourists and families with small children struggling with Christmas trees so I was glad to get back, despite the festive air. I may have to venture over again before Christmas.

Julian tells me that my tree is going to be purchased the week after next and is going up on 15th which seems fair enough.

I need to get my hands-free phone and some stamps asap today hopefully.

Unbelievably, you can't now buy stamps for letters abroad in the shops, but only at a post office so my foreign recipients may have to wait until about March for their cards, such are the queues at the post office. I only found one rather pathetic hands-free phone for sale in Woolworths, and unfortunately the installation is totally beyond my capability as apparently I need yet another filter because I have broadband which of course is not included. Not that I could have installed it anyway. I shall make do with the normal phone and may dump the hands-free one in the rubbish as I can't be bothered to take it back and have torn the wrappings anyway. Fortunately it was quite cheap.

Cooking, Shopping, Excess and Surplus

What seemed like enough shopping for a large family arrived the night before last. I cooked the chicken cut into pieces in the oven, surrounded by small new potatoes, peppers, onions cut in half, whole cloves of garlic and sprinkled with olive oil and rosemary. I cooked the remains of the carcase with onions, mushrooms, some more peppers and chicken stock. I added a leek this morning to make a large tureen of chicken and vegetable soup. I may make this into a kind of minestrone by adding pasta and serving with parmesan on top. Some could be frozen. All I have to deal with now is to eat the rest of the chicken and decide what to do with the rest of the leeks and the fresh cauliflower which should be eaten, or at least cooked, within the next day or two.

Julian told me a friend of hers from Borough market might like my spare chair, possibly some comforters and the chintz. On the strength of this I ordered the Onde china. However, the chintz was left behind! So I now have an excess of chintz china. I need inspiration.

Not learning from this I have bought some curtains, two rugs, some cushions and a bedcover from Gudrun Sjoden, all in anticipation of my bedroom being painted either a Farrow & Ball aubergine, or alternatively and eau de Nil but a bit darker called blue green. The bedcover is more like a throw, and really intended as a tablecloth, but I bought one before in a bluey purpley colour and it really looks nice as a throw, so I have now purchased a bright red floral one. Any rejects will find their way into the spare room.

I shall try and force myself to go to Borough Market today to purchase the pheasants. I also need a cordless telephone which Julian tells me I can find in Woolworth's. I hope they have a white one.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Boring Old Age

Trying to book a restaurant for my birthday dinner on Monday seemed impossible. Every half decent place was fully booked or had large office parties coming in, which I am anxious to avoid. I finally managed to get a table at Magdalen, a local place, but it is untried, so I am not sure about it. A Monday night right at the beginning of December has not been a problem in the past, but now, people seem to go out every night until Christmas.

I had huge amounts of paper to post to the Trustees in advance of our December meeting. Unfortunately I had not noticed that some of the agenda items were printed on both sides, and to complicate things even further, the pile of copying became stuck so only half was being printed. The result was that I was left with various piles of stuff amounting to thousands of sheets of paper and the whole thing was a complete mess. Fortunately a more organised colleague came to my assistance and we managed to sort out the mess into neat bundles in time to post the papers.

I am still in hibernating mode, and have been reading masses of Miss Read, jollied up in between by 'I must Confess' -Celebrity Tells All' - a novel written by a neighbour which was very funny indeed.

Romy has gone to Spain until next week. She will be back on Wednesday, and I forgot to mention that I am off until next Thursday but I shall ring her on Wednesday and let her know.
I really should try and get the lampshades I need and the coffee tables from John Lewis. Maybe I shall force myself out tomorrow. I also need some more Christmas cards and some stamps.

Monday, 26 November 2007

'Flu, Post and Geffrye with Lights

Regency Christmas.

The postal delivery never came. I expect they will try to deliver it today when I am out.

Poor Dorothy is feeling ill again. Some kind of 'flu type symptoms. I think a bit of a medical investigation is called for. Dorothy and Julian are always becoming ill. Hardly a week passes without their succumbing to a kind of 'flu or chest infection. I hope they will be well enough to come out to dinner next Monday.

Today some lamp scent came, and the doormat with the address on it.

We went to the Geffrye Museum. Unfortunately Julian could not come. Also, Romy had injured her back at the weekend. However we managed a wheelchair each. The rooms were decorated for Christmas and were charming. We had a very good lunch there and after inspecting everything piled back on to the coach to admire the lights in Regent Street, Oxford Street, and windows and buildings all the way to Chelsea before returning home.

Women of Troy

Just got back from Women of Troy. Remind me not to go to a Greek tragedy again. I suppose it is quite uplifting because of the spirit of the women, but at the same time deeply depressing. There was a huge bang at the end when the last of Troy exploded. Blimey, I nearly jumped out of my seat. Fortunately it only lasted an hour and a half without a break and certainly held one's attention during that time.

I shall have a cup of cocoa and go to bed. Malvolio is whingeing for some extra dry food. I may indulge him.

No Derek, Lost Addresses and Hairy Christmas

Thank goodness Derek just emailed me that he got his dates mixed up and can't make it. Which means I can hibernate a bit, eat some rubbish for lunch, and pop out to do a bit of shopping before the theatre tonight. Then I can have an early night before the trip to the Geffrye Museum tomorrow.

I have been doing some Christmas cards but can't find most of the addresses. I shall just have to dig into past diaries and address books.

Dorothy sent me an interesting link about how mediaeval peasants used to virtually hibernate for months during winter.

I have failed to find my address book or old diaries. Rather impatiently put up a wreath and long spray embellished with large fir cones on the mantelpiece. It looks a bit hairy I think.

Credit Card Bureaucracy

I was trying to order some groceries from Ocado using a credit card due to a temporary financial embarrassment, when some wretched thing called Verified by Visa came up asking for passwords. I have had to cancel the whole transaction as I just cannot cope with getting even more passwords for cards, so it may be that my Ocado shopping experience is over. What I cannot understand is how I managed to order my Christmas shopping from them and pay successfully. Maybe it is because I paid by debit card knowing that they do not debit your account until just before they send the goods.

Life is really becoming far too complicated for me. I shall just have to keep opening tins in the cupboard until my salary cheque has cleared. Only a couple of days longer. Fortunately I shall be lunching somewhere I can pay by credit card today, though I have had no word from Derek so I shall just wait and see if he turns up. As I am waiting for a postal delivery this is no hardship. If he doesn't show I shall just open another tin. It looks very cold outside.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Reading and Eating

Have now read A Village Diary and Gigi and the Cat. I saw the film Gigi when I was about 18 but had never read the book. I seem to have gone into permanent hibernation but must force myself to push the hoover around the house because Derek may be turning up at lunch time, and get myself into a suitable frame of mind for going to the theatre tonight, rather than continuing to vegetate in front of the TV. As the weather is rather cold, and all the soaps are on tonight I shall have to make a real effort.

Had a rather hearty breakfast of kippers, toast and marmalade with Lapsang tea. Malvolio has got into a bad habit of climbing onto the table, pretending to be nonchalant for a while, then advancing slyly towards my plate. I ignore him while putting objects in his way, but seem to remember to leave him some food which he eats when I put my plate on the floor. I suppose it is rather disgusting, but I read somewhere that cat's mouths are much cleaner than human ones.

Nibby Has Sold Another Painting

had my usual Sunday chat with Nibby. She has injured her back and arms lifting things, so has had to do less work until it is better. She tells me she needs the money for the mortgage so has to carry on. However, not only has she just sold a painting, but some people opening a gallery want her to take a painting up so they can feature it on their advertising, which is excellent.

She keeps selling paintings without taking digital photographs of them so has no real portfolio. I am trying to get her to do this and get a MacBook so she can put them on Your Gallery and sell worldwide, as I think there are somewhat limited opportunities in Kangaroo Valley. Oh well, I can but nag.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Crome Yellow and Village School

Have finally read Crome Yellow. There was a good quote from Point Counter Point in the introduction in which Huxley elaborated his ideas and world. 'Living modernly's living quickly' says Lucy Tantamount, 'You can't cart a wagonload of ideas and romanticisms around with you these days. When you travel by airplane you must leave your heavy luggage behind. The good old-fashioned soul was all right when people lived slowly. But it's too ponderous nowadays.'

Crome Yellow is quite a slim volume, but full of ideas, and is very much modelled on Thomas Love Peacock which I used to read in my youth. Strangely, at the same time almost, I have been reading some Dora Saint - Miss Read for the first time. Very gentle tales of village life which are nice and restful for an old woman!

Since I purchased ten Miss Read volumes and ten other novels from The Book People incredibly cheaply, I shall continue with this lot before passing them on.

horrible Orange and Great Homofair

I have been having trouble with Orange trying to get PAC codes out of them, which they refused to give me over the phone, so hopefully they will send them Not only that, their envelopes have a horrible orange bit on them which has made a stain on my new table. Presumably caused by it being damp from the rain when I brought it in. Am trying to remove it but shows no sign of going. I have put a drop of lemon on it but shows no sign of bleaching. May add a bit of salt. Otherwise I will have to touch the table up with white paint. I feel like sueing Orange as it is a brand new table. Had an instinct to try some whitening toothpaste on an baby bud thing. Not gone, but definitely paler.

Went to the homoculture fair thingy. It was wonderful, with the women's orchestra playing carols outside, and later playing the Can Can music inside with great zest and energy. Everyone loved it. Later some men in kilts were doing Scottish dances, including the Gay Gordons. I made a pom pom for world peace on Amy Lame's stall, and took a kit home. I may well make some cream coloured pom poms with which to embellish cushions and curtain pull backs. I purchased some of the wonderful calendars and one or two other presents before settling down to some tea and cakes. As last year, I thought I had lost my purse, and of course, found it as Rupert went to arrange an announcement, so slunk off in shame.

I had a call from some friends who were trying to find the venue, and who had turned up ten minutes before it closed. I had left ten minutes before that, but they had not said they were coming, so they missed all the fun. I had tried to drag Dorian along, but he said it was not his kind of thing.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Lazy Old Bat

I have been tired all day because of my passport hunt and a sleepless night. I have avoided any action, apart from helping Julian a bit with some of the old trunk contents. We agreed to leave some stuff in there and Dorothy will be consulted about the Atari.

Lots of books arrived today so I have been vegging out reading. It was freezing outside or I would have looked for some lampshades in British Home Stores or John Lewis. Julian and I had a discussion about a possible Christmas goose stuffed with apples and sauerkraut which is a Nigella recipe. It sounds fine, but I suspect that in any event I shall be purchasing several pheasants and sticking them in the freezer. There was also a very good sounding recipe for a parfait, made basically by soaking prunes in armagnac and simmering them until the armagnac is absorbed, whipping some double cream and breaking up meringues, then chopping the prunes and stirring them in before freezing them. Thing is, Dorothy hates prunes, and Julian hates cream and meringue, so this may be a solo experiment performed for, and by, Bag Lady alone.

Have not heard from Miss Bettawear for ages. I think it was she who found the old Lampe Berger some years ago, must ask.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Passport Lost - But Not Forever

Today, Dorothy asked me if there was a yellow T shirt in the trunk. I invited them around to look.

Spent all evening looking in vain for my passport. So finally had to tell Romy I had lost it. As a result she had been fiddling around looking for cheap fares elsewhere which didn't need a passport to book, and had missed the deadline, so I have now prevented them from getting the cheap fares. I really should give up trying to do anything. Dorothy and Julian told me off for not keeping my passport in one place. Easier said than done with workmen in the house, and having to keep moving stuff from room to room.

I was just going to bed, when I saw a pink plastic folder containing stuff that ITV had confiscated when I went into Hell's Kitchen. I had put some important papers such as bank statements into this when the guys came to paint the sitting room. In the middle of all these was the sodding passport.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Tatty Old Wooden Trunk Full of Historic Rubbish

Last night I examined the contents of the old wooden trunk and discovered:

An old Atari computer with several other electric looking things.
Four metal legs, obviously from some old piece of furniture.
A small keyboard.
An old vanity case full of beads and embroidery things.
Two wooden cigar boxes full of old receipts.
Several pairs of trousers and some T shirts ( presumably belonging to Dorothy and Julian)
Two large wooden boxes full of receipts and old bank cards (one from 1986) belonging to Dorothy.
A file belonging to Dorothy.

Since virtually none of it belongs to me I think I need to get Dorothy and Julian to come and clear it out, as I am certain there is absolutely nothing of any value there, unless the Design Museum are looking for an old Atari computer.

When the trunk is empty it needs sanding, and either polishing or painting, and deciding where it should be kept. I could use it to store some of my bedding, since I believe these old trunks were originally blanket boxes.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Baglady's Bedroom Needs Redecorating

Baglady Corner is becoming quite chic. Julian and Dorothy came around to fix a new loo roll holder in the bathroom and take some old furniture out for disposal. Julian also sneaked off and got rid of about three or four large rubbish bags I had managed to fill, so the flat is practically empty. After that we had some food delivered from Morley Tandoori, which was very nice, and thoughtfully, they provided some free beer with it.

However, my bedroom is still overstocked with books, various ornaments and one extra chair which is not really needed. The chair is quite a nice (I think) though repro one with arms but it will have to go. Dorothy thinks the curtain rail is a bit of a disaster, being a very skimpy affair from IKEA, and I did mention that I would prefer a white wooden one. I may also obtain a couple of tiny rugs and some new curtains from Gudrun Sjoden. Because of all the large brown furniture it does need brightening up a bit, and I may actually paint the cheap pine chest of drawers and a slightly art deco cupboard in turqoise, and go for a turquoise and red kind of look. Which could help. We shall see.

Roberto and Lauren in France Finally, and Possible Hol for Me

Had an email from Mykel. He had been staying in Brittany with our youngest brother Roberto and his wife, Lauren. He sent some snaps of the happy couple outside their new bar rather inappropriately called La Bodega. They are going to change the name to something rather more French. Like me when abroad he had become rather excited by the goods in supermarkets and felt this was a bit tragic. I have to say I was more than excited when I found fresh tiny brown shrimps in a large supermarket in Lille, peeled and ready to eat.

Romy tells me we get a two for one on Eurostar to Lille or Brussels, something to do with visiting Bluewater. I cannot quite take this in, as half the UK population must be hopping over the channel weekly if this is so. Romy plans to go to Spain at the end of January or early in February for a few days. She has very kindly invited me if I can get away. Julian is happy to look after the evil Malvolio, so this might well be an option. I have not been able to get away at all this year, apart from taking the punters on holiday, which is rather like being on duty 24/7, so a complete break for a week or so could be the answer. I do feel however that Romy is always taking people to their place in Spain, and they should try and have a break for just the two of them. I should probably drive them batty. We shall see.

Street Fire and Black Bingo Lampe Bergere

Office life is becoming exciting: arrived to find there was no electricity, so we decided to sort out numbers for outings and holidays from the replies we had received. It was becoming rather cold from the lack of heating. Suddenly at about midday there was a huge bang outside our window and flames shot up to the sky right outside. There were one or two lesser explosions and some smoke. Romy dialled 999 and they decided it was probably an electricity junction box shorting. The building opposite was emptied so we decided discretion was the better part of valour and set off to have lunch before going home. Dorothy and Julian were also without electricity and possibly water, also . They are due to arrive at Baglady Corner this evening to perform their ablutions, if not kip overnight.

Sooo excited. My Lampe Berger has arrived together with a little bottle of orange and cinnamon scent. You have to pour in half a bottle of scent with a little funnel, clean away any spare scent on the outside as it is flammable, put the wick in and leave for 20 minutes with the top on before removing this and lighting the wick. Huge flames shoot out for a minute or two, but after about three minutes this settles down. Then you blow out the flame and put the large open cap on and leave on for half an hour or so to scent the room. You put it out by carefully removing the open cap without burning yourself, put the small cap on and replace the open cap over this. Apparently it takes about half an hour to perfume the place and get rid of any noxious fumes. After ten minutes it really smells good. It is a matte black lamp rather horribly called 'Bingo' and it goes very well with my other black things. There are so many other designs. I may well purchase something red and sumptious-looking for my bedroom at some stage. Or turquoise. We shall see.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Crack, Croak and Be Merry ( Oh Dear, Couldn't Resist)

The graffiti guys yesterday were most amused by some Asian beer brand named 'Chang'. Apparently this is the street name for crack cocaine. You live and learn.

Had a long telephone conversation with a friend who is a courier on coach trips. She said a woman who had been coming on the trips for ten years had died this year unexpectedly on the coach. Although very elderly, she had been fine until a couple of days before. She was from a medical family and had thought she might have bowel cancer, and didn't want to have a colostomy so had kept quiet about her condition. In fact as they discovered later, it had been a twisted bowel which would probably have lead to the same result when treated. My friend was very upset. Not only was this the first time anyone had died on the coach in eight years since she had been doing the job, but the woman had become quite a friend over the years. Apparently she was the only person on the trips to Rye who had enjoyed watching Mapp and Lucia on the telly, and they often used to chat about the programme and books.

My friend and I chatted a bit about coach parties, Turkey & Tinsel breaks and so on. She had several of these to attend this year. Fortunately we only have one, which is not so onerous. She and her husband, who drives coaches, are abroad nearly all the time. I joked that the only way to catch up with them would be to go on one of her coach tours. Apparently, there are not many groups, mainly couples and singles who come back every year, so they must be doing something right. I can imagine this, as he is an excellent driver, and she is very kind and thoughtful, and good with people.

Nibby, Holy Pictures and DVDs

had a long chat with Nibby this morning. She was being terrorised by a huntsman spider about the size of a hand crawling over her window. She asked me about the holy pictures we used to buy at school. I seem to remember they were highly coloured Italian prints with deckle edges in gold. She says she filled her prayer book with them at school, and looking at the beautiful skies in them was the only thing that got her through the long hours in chapel on her knees. Her daughter was asking where they were and if you could get them now. I said I doubted if they would have such good ones nowadays, but they might be found in Westminster Cathedral bookshop and I undertook to have a look at some time in the future.

Nibby also mentioned a DVD which she had seen and which she thought was a marvellous Norwegian film called 'As It Were in Heaven'. She said I must see it. Amazon have it at about £23, which seems a lot, so I may delay buying this for a bit. Also, Julian and Dorothy have my DVD player which I hardly know how to work anyway. Apparently the new TVs with DVD players are no good because they can't play stuff you record at home. A bit short sighted I would have thought.

Anyway, all this got me thinking about some of the really good foreign DVDs I saw when in Spain, such as 'Elling' and 'La Communidad' and masses of others. When I sort out the TV and DVD problem I might well purchase some of these as they do bear viewing more than once. I have now had a look and lots of them are only in something called Region 1 NT something which is apparently not compatible with our machines. Such crap really.

Saturday, 17 November 2007


It was a very cold day. I got no further than the Lye Torng. I have been clearing up a lot of old clothes etc and bagging them up. I cant find the metal stand things which go on lamps that you put the shades on. I had put them aside for when I buy some new shades and two of the three have disappeared. I hope Julian did not throw them away with the shades we chucked out. I dont know how easy it is to buy them these days. One lamp is finished already, apart from a new shade, and Dorian is working on the other two.

Madeleine is up for pantomime at the Old Vic in January so I may well get some tickets for this.
I am still deciding on a birthday place. Dorothy tells me L'Escargot is not great and does not seem to fancy La Barca much. Madeleine tells me I must choose.

Met some great guys at Lye Torng. They have been commissioned by the council, presumably, to do some good looking graffiti on the inside of the walls of the play area, in order to deter the not very good tags already left there. One of them did a graffiti near old street of a creature coming out of a dustbin. He did it four years ago and though people had tagged around it no one had tagged over it. Recently he went back and found that the tags had been removed but his work left. He showed me a snap and it looked good fun. We had a conversation about art training, Banksy and the recent forgery by the man and his parents lately in the news, and all were rather in favour of this exposure of the art world.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Late Night and Solved Mystery

It seems that the Latin stuff is some standard bit of Cicero that graphic designers put into gaps to show how the printed material will look. A bit like 'the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dogs' for typists. Dorothy was astounded that I did not know this, but not being a graphic designer I don't quite see the surprise here. Nice to think that someone thought I know everything.

Julian and Dorothy around for a bit last night. They bought some chicken and corn on the cob from Nando's and finished the bottle of Argentinian merlot I had opened earlier. This was quite good wine and one of the bottles Dorothy had purchased from the Decanter tasting. They bought some rather jolly Christmas lights, a sewing set and some place mats all purchased from Julian's second visit to IKEA. Julian has an interview on Monday afternoon which is promising. They admired my lovely cushion from Romy. We spent ages trying to decide on a restaurant for my birthday. As we would like Madeleine to come, maybe a Sunday would be better, and maybe even a Sunday lunch at Roast. We shall see. They also expressed interest in my idea of going to the pantomime at the Old Vic. This is Cinderella, script written by Stephen Fry, so should be quite witty. We thought we would go in early January close to New Year.

Strange Happenings - Failure to Edit Post

I was trying to edit the last post, but the pencil thingy disappeared. I went to settings, and some strange text came up in Latin to which there were apparently five comments. My Latin was always crap at school so failed to translate. Emailed Dorothy to see if a brain cell or two will shed some light on the matter. Seems quite creepy to find Latin stuff somehow.

The pencil has now reappeared!

Identikit Men, Modern Life Painting and More Rubbish Out

I was outside the Hayward Gallery when I saw these guys on the bridge above. There were about 20 of them. At first I thought it was a school party, but as I got closer to take a snap I realised they were all men in identical black jackets and blondeish seventies looking wigs, being photographed by a snapper on the bridge before all moving off towards the Aldwych. Strange. Probably some ad.

Of course I finally made it to the Hayward, which gave me much more hope about my work. The large painting advertising the exhibition by Franz Gertsch was very eyecatching, and I still like Marlene Dumas as well as Martin Kippenberger and good old Gerhard Richter, an old favourite of mine. I shall just have to do larger paintings, but I am definitely on the right track. Must actually do some work. A New Year Resolution, perhaps?

I had a coffee upstairs at the Elephant and read Private Eye for a bit before a short lunch at the Lye Torng. I am now going through the piles of junk post always received at this time of year and have bought lots of extra large black rubbish bags to receive this.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Bathrooms, Restaurants and Rugs

Julian and Dorothy are having their bathroom done. Julian is very pleased because their bathroom has been a nightmare for a long time, very damp and full of condensation with paint coming off all the walls. Hopefully this will now be sorted out and the bathroom can come up to the standard of the rest of their flat.

Madeleine rang last night to say she had enjoyed herself on Saturday. She recommended the Wolseley, which is apparently very good indeed. It used to be the car showroom near the Savoy. I shall have to inspect it. I mentioned my possible birthday at the Gay Hussar, and she may be able to come along. I do hope so. She is going to come and have a look at my Chech rug, which may be good in her sitting room as she has a blue chair and something in a terracotta colour, both of which are in the rug. It would be nice to see it go to a good home rather than sell it on Ebay.

I am full of good intentions to go to the Hayward today. We shall see.

Rubbish, Theatre and Lampe Berger

I am going to purchase some black rubbish bags to get rid of all my stuff tomorrow. I shall also attempt to go to the exhibition at the Hayward. I have booked a ticket to go to Women of Troy at the Lyttleton at the National Theatre in a week or so. I am trying to force myself to go out occasionally in the evenings, as I tend to vegetate at home, summer and winter. Malvolio has destroyed another catnip teabag. I must ration these as he is becoming quite the little addict. He has clawed the sofa a bit less today. I am buying a whole tub of catnip and will sprinkle this on the rattan chest, bit by bit, in order to make it attractive to him.

Came across some things called Lampe Berger. These are French glass or ceramic containers you fill with oils which they produce seasonally. There is a stone in the top and a wick going into the oil. Apparently you light the stone, leave for three minutes, then blow it out. Apparently your rooms become perfumed for about two hours and it also gets rid of nasty pongs. The lamps are very expensive, the cheapest at about £45. However I managed to find one on Ebay and purchased this for £25. I also bought some Christmassy smelling oil which I shall test in it.

The French have been using this system to scent houses since eighteen something apparently. There seems to be a bit of a cult going with the actual lamps, in that there are designer ones for nearly £1000 - and there is probably quite a market in antique ones. In fact I seem to remember a friend of mine found one in an antique fair, and we did not know what it was for. I can't remember if we put it back or if he bought it, but will suggest he hangs on to it if he did buy it. You can get the stones and wick sets for £10, and ditto for the oil, so it is worth hanging on to. If he doesn't want it I shall offer to purchase it, and put it in another room.

Mirrors, Chintz and Glasses

I have been vainly attempting to tidy up. I took my Venetian mirror to a neighbour who is very glad to have it.

I do seem to get these impulses to buy things. Sometimes I have gone off them completely by the time I have them home, as in the above case, and sometimes it takes a year or two. I am even becoming rather bored by most of the chintz plates and bowls I have bought at vast expense during last year. I may need to offload these. I have fallen in love with some rather nice Limoges plates in a pattern called 'Onde' . They are white, with raised bits which look like the sand when the sea pushes it up in curves. Even Julian likes these.

However Julian disapproves of my liking for Versailles glasses as I suspect they are thought to be too fancy looking. Julian would rather I bought some nice crystal until I mentioned the prices. However, if I ever do launch into vast expense and buy some, we have decided that the best pattern is Grasmere, by Cumbria Crystal, having carefully looked at some others. If I ever do this, I may just get one set of all purpose type wine glasses and a set of whisky tumblers. It seems that Dorothy prefers Riedel glasses which are plain and rather cheaper. Kind of in between, there is Iona by William Yeoward, which are rather nice thumb print glasses.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Bluewater, Polhill - and More Stroppy Malvolio

I have been converted to Bluewater as a temple of retail worship. Nestling like a silvery space station with oast house chimneys in the middle of a quarry, it looks as though placed there by aliens. Spent several hours frantically shopping, and with difficulty found somewhere to have lunch. There is a marvellous selection of shops, and I even found a John Lewis where I bought some simple rope curtain tie-backs. They had a Hawkins shop, a very good Paperchase where I purchased a tiny black christmas tree for my new sitting room. Romy even found me some mini decorations for this. I think if I went again I should have to set off earlier and leave later.

We then went to Polhill Garden Centre. This is a huge place, which presumably started as a normal garden centre, but now sells vast amounts of Christmas decorations as well. I found most of my purchases for Malvolio here. There is also a huge food section with farmer's market type of food, lots of greengrocery stuff with Kent apples and so on.

Malvolio is lying elegantly curled up on the new sofa. He almost looks like a second round black cushion, but woke up when I took a snap of him. He is the second (lower) black lump on the sofa. I bought him some catnip which I put on and in the rattan chest (he likes it) and sprayed the new sofa with cat deterrent (unfortunately he seems to like that too). I bought him a wand with a catnip tail which he played with for a short while and a large catnip filled rope mouse - completely ignored so far. Well, at least he approves of some of the stuff I bought him.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Glammy Black Cushions - Still Stroppy Malvolio

Romy back from Spain where she had a wonderful time. She very kindly brought me two black cushions for my new sofa - extremely glamorous with a suede look, edged with black feathers, one square and one round. Here's the round one in situ. Funny that I was thinking of getting a black cushion as there is so much white in the room.

Malvolio is still attacking both ends of the sofa so I will have to purchase some 'paws away' strips. These are apparently not very visible and deter cats from ruining one's furniture. We shall see. Of course, he has not touched the trunk I bought him. Some catnip spray should help a bit.

Today we are taking the punters to Bluewater for a bit of Christmas shopping. Apparently we are also stopping off for a bit at a garden centre on the way back. I may attempt to get some white curtain tie-backs and some catnip. I think 'paws away' is a specialist thing which I shall purchase on the internet.

Tired Old Age and Stroppy Malvolio

I am addicted to soaps, and Monday night is soap heaven, starting with Emmerdale at 7, then Corrie at 7.30, Eastenders at 8, then back for the final part of Corrie, all ending at 9. However, I watched most of Emmerdale, then woke up at 9 having slept through the rest. I went to bed immediately and did not wake up until 7. I think it's old age, as the IKEA jaunt was hardly arduous unless you count the hair-raising drive back with the drug crazed taxi driver.

Malvolio stropping on the footstool so I have moved the rattan trunk against the side of the sofa, as above, so it is the first thing he comes across. I am hoping that he will transfer his affections, and his claws, to this.

Monday, 12 November 2007

IKEA, Fire, Curtains and Crazy Driver

Have achieved. Went to IKEA with Julian. From the train going there we saw a huge cloud of smoke in the sky, apparently coming from a fire in East London at the Olympic site.

Maddeningly, the curtains I had ruined were no longer in stock at IKEA but I found a better pair. We bought everything we could . The taxi driver who brought us back was a completely bonkers Turkish guy married to a Russian woman, whose driving and manner gave the impression of a racing driver on coke. However we did arrive back alive, and Julian put the curtains up and pinned the hems . We had also bought a great lamp with a dimmer switch and a rattan trunk for Malvolio, who has not yet started to attack it, so it will do as a coffee table pro tem.

Julian has now gone home to Dorothy and I shall grab a bite to eat before vegging out in front of the telly for the evening.

Bad Night and White Sofa

Monday morning. I woke up at four in the morning and couldn't get back to sleep. However I must have drifted off again at 5.30 because the next time I awoke it was 6.30 and Malvolio was clawing me.

Heard on the news that the temperature was going to be 9, which is rather worrying. So much for global warming. I have tried to do a bit of tidying in the bathroom, and less in the bedroom which is an enormous challenge. The sofa has the white cover on and looks fabulous - well I think so - and is extremely comfortable. Malvolio has deigned to sit on one end of it for a while before reverting to his favourite spot on my bed. I shall put up the white curtains when we have bought them. The Chech rug definitely stands out too much. I have now put my laptop on the dining table. Fortunately it is small and kind of white so it hardly shows up. If only I could find a similar television.

I suppose one thing about having it here is that I am alerted if someone comes to make a delivery, and can be a nosy neighbour and see who is going back and forth.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Sunday Afternoon and Evening

Had a cup of coffee and croissant and read the papers for a bit at Elephant & Castle. Then I strolled over to Lye Torng. On the way, they were filming a fashion shot of a black model in a thin black dress, with bare arms. It was very chilly and I got a bit of a fright as I went around the corner and saw her there, with a huge afro and with her huge false eyelashes and her lips painted completely white, shivering in the cold, and looking like a Black and White Minstrel from the fifties TV show. Rather politically incorrect I thought, as all the film crew happened to be white. Mind you, they were all too young to remember the show anyway.

Had a prawn Penang which was very good as usual while giggling a bit at the Hawkins catalogue I had received. This was full of all sorts of nonsense, such as stuff you put in the bath which changes the water to sticky gloop and you put a few drops of a special chemical to turn it back to normal water again. Tom said he'd like a few bottles to pour into his enemies' swimming pools. The remote control farting machine appealed to me as an oldie - where you locate the fart bit in a chair where your boss, or your nearest and dearest is going to sit. Then at the appropriate moment you secretly wield the remote control to let off various inappropriate noises.

Julian and Dorothy came around and put the sofa and footstool and another chair together and we eventually had dinner around my new table. I am afraid the Chech rug, nice though it is, will definitely have to go. I may buy one of the IKEA sheepskin things for Malvolio to tear apart.

Remembrance Day 2007

Sofa arrived at about 8.30 this morning. I daren't unpack it in case I am accused of losing vital assembly pieces when Dorothy and Julian surface.

Just watched the Remembrance Day ceremony and took some bad snaps from the telly which has given me an interesting idea for some new artworks. Some old soldiers above. A strange thing - in the middle of the two minutes silence I thought I heard someone speaking.

Anyway I shall now go to Elephant & Castle for my usual coffee with a newspaper.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Pleasant Saturday Afternoon

Just come back from lunch with Madeleine, Dorothy and Julian, courtesy of ITV. We went to Dragon Castle and had a super lunch, after which we came back to my flat to admire the sitting room. Julian admitted to not disliking the lamp as much as before, and wants to go to IKEA with me on Monday to get the wicker trunk to be used as a cat scratcher for Malvolio, and some more curtains. I shall see if I can find another lamp base, as I have a sixties lampshade in pale yellow plastic which I can use this for.

Madeleine showed me the Your Gallery site which she thought I should register with to showcase my artwork. Will have to think about this a bit. She has also lent me her copy of Alan Bates biography: 'otherwise engaged' by Donald Spoto.

Triumph - New Lamp Base Purchased

I have achieved. I dashed up to John Lewis and bought the lamp base and a couple of bulbs. Why is it every time you get a new lamp it has different bulb fittings from all of your others?

Jumped into the Lye Torng for a quick Baileys on ice before fitting the lampshade on. Here it is. Judge for yourself. I think it may go a bit lighter as it responds to heat so I shall leave it on for a bit. When you turn it on the buildings are black and the sky turns a very gradual red, then lightens further as it gets warmer. It may need more than the 40 watt bulb I have put in it, but the base says I should only put a maximum of 40 watts.

Old Room with New Floor

My black and white room idea has somehow evaporated, in that the red and blue Chechen carpet has been put back, my old pictures are on the wall again. The only different things are the white cupboard, table and chairs and the new sofa, arriving tomorrow, which will now have the sand coloured cover put on it to match the curtains instead of the white one.

The white curtains I ruined will have to be replaced and I need to get the coffee tables from John Lewis, as well as the black lamp base to go with the new Solarise lamp. Dorothy tells me that Julian absolutely hates the new lamp. I also may learn to hate it, but at the moment I love it. I am looking forward to the new sofa arriving, though not the time it is arriving, i.e. between seven and eight tomorrow morning. How vile.

I may still sell the Chech rug on Ebay and get another in black and white. IKEA have quite a cute one called Triangel in black and grey, though I was hoping to find something smaller, and maybe round. Grey and black is better than black and white, as I remember from the old classic design I bought from Habitat which was very difficult to keep clean when you are a slut.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Tired and Emotional

Dorothy and Julian arrived at 9.15pm. By this time I had swallowed a generous glass of red wine to help relax. Dorothy managed to assemble the table quite quickly, but the cupboards took so long it was decided to do just one cupboard tonight. Julian put some of my handles on it, which looked quite good, then Dorothy put a chair together, which again took rather longer than anticipated.

The table looked enormous, so it was decided to push it into one of the alcoves, and put the now spare cupboard in the hall.

After Julian decided to put up the curtains I made the awful discovery that I had made one much too short, so we abandoned these and put up the old beige curtains, so when the sofa arrives we will put the beige cover on this too. At some time we will go back to IKEA and get more white curtains, plus a wicker storage box which Malvolio can strop his claws on.

At 12.45 they left and I went to bed.

Another Visitation

Oh dear, I am rather concerned. Dorothy and Julian are apparently coming around again tonight to put some of the furniture together.

Julian wanted me to iron the curtains, but I explained that to shorten them you were supposed to get them to the right length, iron across then put some wonderweb into the crease, iron again then just cut above this. Did one, but definitely unsure about the length. I was about to do the other when I lost the tape measure, and every effort I made to put them together and try and get the length the same failed, and they came out about six inches different in lengths. I have decided to ask Dorothy to put the short one up to see if it is OK and then put the other one up too. I think I can work on it better when it is hanging since there is masses of spare material.

I found Bob left a large bag of sawdust and small wood bits which I lugged to the waste bins, but had huge difficulty lifting it up and in while holding the lid of the bin open. I was about to get rid of some other rubbish in the same way, but have now discovered I have lost my front door keys.

I suspect this evening is going to be horrendous, since I am exhausted, Dorothy will no doubt be exhausted and cross and Julian will become exhausted and cross with us both.

Still, all could be well, and if so, at least some of the furniture will be assembled and ready.

Chad Varah

Just heard a programme about Chad Varah, known for starting the Samaritans. He lived in Barnes next door to my first husband's family and has recently died at 94. I knew he was a vicar, but had no idea he was also a cartoonist who created the Dan Dare comic. I only met him once at his door, and he seemed a rather quiet man. I don't remember seeing any of the children, and he apparently had five. Perhaps they had grown up.

A work colleague of mine was a Samaritan and described her work to me. It seemed to be about listening without commenting. Apparently they did have quite a lot of training for this role, which would be very stressful, I imagine.

New Lampshade and Decorations

It was absolutely freezing outside today. Very sunny but with a very cold wind. I found Lauren's studio at Cockpit Arts and purchased my wonderful Solarise lampshade. We chatted about business a bit and she gave me a free sample - ideal as a coaster - of her snowflake illusion panel. It seems that this was first produced for a shop, then architects came to her with requests for different patterns including autumn leaves, which appear to float around.

I had a lunch at the Lye Torng before coming back to admire my floor again. It has a slightly disconcerting habit of very occasionally letting out a loud crack. It did that in the middle of the night once. Probably the wood settling in. I hope.

I have ordered some Christmassy tree decorations and other bits and pieces, and a few things for the newly refurbished room. At Really Linda Barker I got a wolfy looking throw at £15 reduced from £55 because I ordered over a certain amount of stuff. I thought it might help to protect the new white sofa. I have put a few black things, such as my African princess carving and a couple of baroque black candlesticks on the windowsill to see how a mainly white room with bits of black will look. Apart from all the gold framed mirrors etc I have had for years. I would quite like to assemble the John Lewis table which is in the hall, but it is very heavy and I would probably mess it up anyway. Ditto the four chairs and two cupboards. The sofa is arriving between 7 and 8am on Sunday.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

More Floor, Furniture and Foxes

Took a flash snap of the floor early this morning before it becomes covered by furniture.

I am a failed drunkard - I only managed to drink a glass of red wine before becoming unconscious. Dorothy rang to ask how the floor looked and about the possibility of doing the stairs and basement.

I kept dreaming that I had lost my camera in some strange place and seemingly spent hours looking for it and getting very upset because it was such a good camera. I also kept worrying fitfully about how much furniture and stuff would have to be moved to remove the floors in the basement. Dorothy does not think this is a huge job because Dorothy put the floor down. However, this was before I bought the Louis bed and possibly, the wardrobe, so there was more space to move things from room to room.

In addition, there were lots of strange noises in the middle of the night from cats - one determinedly trying to get in through the catflap - and also from what I suspect were foxes outside the front of the flat, but nothing to see when I eventually got up to have a look.

Floor Finished, Julian Cross - Shall Get Drunk and Disorderly

Bob has just finished the last coat of varnish, I have paid him and he's gone home. He says he is willing to do some more work some time after the New Year, presumably at the same rate of £150 a day, though I imagine the stairs and downstairs will take a very long time, even if I clear out a lot of my possessions. I do wish I could be more frugal and make do with much less around me.

Julian won't come back to my flat again after clearing up all my rubbish last night, so I may have problems going away with the pensioners before Christmas after all, and I may now go away for Christmas Day. At least it will solve the tree problem.

Anyway I have had a peep at the sitting room and hall, both looking good with their second coat of varnish and I shall be able to go in there after seven tonight. I may celebrate and get absolutely drunk on my own tonight. A bottle of decent red wine definitely beckons.

Tamarind Balls, Guava Bocadillos and Violent Crime

Popped into Elephant & Castle to get more cash out for Bob, and went into the Lithuanian shop for some bread. Unfortunately they only had the black variety so got some West Indian bread downstairs. In the same shop were some Jamaican tamarind balls: 'honeycomb' brand. Also some bocadillos of guava wrapped in dried banana leaves from Colombia. The tamarind balls, though sweet, have quite a sharpness to them and contain tamarind seeds in the middle. All quite delicious. Perhaps I will replace chocs with these fruity sweets.

Reading Southwark News there is a depressing report from the Metropolitan Police which says that Southwark is London's most violent borough, having toppled Tower Hamlets from this dubious claim to fame over the past six months. However this is disputed by the local police and council. Unsurprisingly.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

More Colours and Wood Floor Ideas

Have been looking at the Dulux colours. Purple infusion 1 seems quite similar to the colour, but not the same of course. Amethyst falls is another possibility.

I have been talking with Bob about the basement. He says that all the laminate would have to be removed and a damp proof chipboard put down. Then, the same wood could be used, but it is a big job. On the stairs - they could be done with a wider wood but the lower flight would require some hard work filling in the bits between the treads by using battens, but again, it would be possible. He would not be drawn on price but it sounds like a very large undertaking considering the amount of stuff which would have to be removed from each room and then removing all the current floors.

In my room there is a huge Louis bedhead and sides with a very heavy divan parked inside it, masses of books, chests of drawers, a huge wooden trunk, dressing table, wardrobe and several chairs. In fact it is quite hard getting in and out. Ditto for the spare room. I suppose if there was less stuff in there it could be transferred from room to room.

I think I shall settle for the painted hallway for the next year or so, then attack the bit of plastering and painting in my room.

I offered the remainder of the wood to my neighbour upstairs, but he had nowhere to store it so it will have to go.

More Floors and Past Wall Colours

Dorothy and Julian have been around tonight to empty the cupboards so Bob can finish the bit where the floor meets the inside of the cupboards. A whole lot of stuff I had lost was discovered by Julian, fortunately, but my Algerian Kabyle coral and silver necklace is still missing. I think I have looked everywhere, but it will probably reappear in some totally bizarre place.

I have been instructed to ask Bob about whether the same wood could be used for the stairs and basement of the flat despite the fact that there is a damp problem. I am highly dubious about this as even Dorothy admits that oak is a difficult wood to use in these circumstances, being more sensitive to damp. I will ask anyway, but this is exactly why I put laminate down there. I have already researched this a bit and was thinking that engineered wood might work, but a building surveyor I know has told me that laminate is preferable.

In any event I could not face the disruption of all that for a year or two! I can just about think about having the hall painted. My room will have to wait as it is the least of my worries. Perhaps I shall paint it some dark, wonderful colour. A friend of mine painted a room in a gorgeous colour called Bilberry. I have not seen bilberries, but the colour was a kind of matt bluey purple which appeared to have a pale sheen in the light, rather like the skin of a blueberry, which is probably the same thing. This was in the sixties of course, when we all had dark rooms. I see this trend reappearing. Then, dark brown was the thing, or deep forest green. The green was quite good in the winter. Dorothy had a whole room, including the ceiling and furniture, painted bright red. There was one of those awful, loud abstract patterned carpets in red and yellow. He went off this colour quite quickly, thought we had a bright red hall for years. A dark colour is good in small halls, rather than light. It makes it look quite cosy.

Habitat and Christmas Tree

10.30 and Bob's gone for a coffee break. He is half way through the sitting room and it does look pretty impressive. He can't finish inside the cupboards because they are full of stuff which I can't manage to get out, but has cut the wood straight along and is going to make some edgings which Dorothy can bang in later, just in case we need to sell the flat and to make it look finished. His son is a graphic designer and works in Brick Lane doing the Habitat catalogues. I said he should invite him over to have a look at the floor!

I am beginning to feel a bit more relaxed about the whole thing, and looking forward to the furniture arriving on Sunday.

I am hoping that while I am away from 17th December, Julian and Dorothy will manage to get a tree, as I am sure they will all be gone by the time I am back and get a chance to go shopping on 23rd. If this is unlikely maybe I will buy a fake one, which seems to be de rigueur these days. If I did it would have to be a slimline one as the room is not large.

Christmas is Coming

Romy is off to Spain today. I am at home - the noise from the wood saw etc. is amazing - I may need to take refuge in the Lye Torng later. Poor Bob took two and a half hours to get home yesterday and will leave earlier today in the hope of a shorter journey.

I have ordered some tree decorations in anticipation of Christmas, and will think bit more about coffee tables. I do however have a nice little Sutherland table which will do as a lamp and side table pro tem. I once gave this to some friends, but they nursed it for a couple of years when I was away and brought it back - and it is now turning out to be quite useful.

I have to post a few letters today and I am thinking about doing another card list and getting a start on this. I may also obtain some chrome spray paint. This really does give a chrome effect and since I have a rather kitsch 'Queen Anne' fire which I may be tempted to put back in my sitting room, I shall have a go at respraying it as it is a bit grubby looking. It was completely rewired before I bought it and looks rather good in a retro way when turned on - reminds me of toasting marshmallows or bread for tea with a toasting fork in the sixties. That was probably rather a dangerous activity - maybe we only did it with old gas fires rather than electric ones.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Bob the Carpenter

Bob arrived really early but there were no parking spaces. He did not seem to want to put his tools in the house by parking on the pavement opposite, and then looking a bit further afield for a space, so said he would wait in his car for a space. I have just seen him drive away so am a bit worried. Phew! he has just come back - no space still but is putting his tools inside which is a good sign. I have given him a day permit to put in his car for when he finds a space.

Back from work. He has done most of the hall apart from the awkward bits near the bathroom and stairs. It looks really good. I hope it goes well tomorrow, though I can see it taking days at this rate since it will need a couple of coats of varnish.