Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Sexual Liberation - in a Christmas Catalogue

Amongst the pile of junk mail was a catalogue from people called 'Christmas Gifts Direct'. I was about to throw it away unopened but I had just made a cup of coffee and decided to browse through it while drinking this. It was full of fairly boring and some nasty cheap items and things I could not imagine anyone buying, such as a mug covered in cigarettes with the lame legend: 'smoking is my choice so **** off."

On the next page was described as 'adult fun - novelty gifts for him and her' including a money box tin with the legend 'nip'n' tuck fund'; dream hunk mugs: 'add hot water and watch their clothes disappear' ; several items such as a radio, cushion, stress ball - all featuring large nippled 'Boobs'; and slightly scarily, a large pink fluffy Vibe Bunny toy ' With massager in zip pocket at reverse'. All this, and several more 'massagers' , including the rather dodgy looking 'cone' massager, complete with diagrams: 'can be attached to the wall, a door, or on the floor'.

Dear me, all I wanted was a cup of coffee.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Further Ramblings

Email to say the table I think I want is now in John Lewis so I shall pop up there today and examine it closely.

Yesterday Romy and I investigated the Menier Chocolate Factory as a possible venue for an oldie foregathering. The staff are helpful and polite, there is a disabled entrance and loo to the cafe and they do not charge rent for the venue, though there is a minimum spend per head. Although the theatre itself is not very accessible having steps, the cafe has a raised part in the middle where we could put performers. They are going to give us some suggestions re food and prices, but potentially it could be a useful place. We had a quick lunch there afterwards which was absolutely delicious, so we know the food is fine, too.

Great Christmas Design Ideas

when I was in Tottenham Court Road the other day I had a stroll around my favourite shop dressers place, DZD designs. It was full of new Christmas ideas. I bought some white translucent fabric with snowy blobs on to hang in my upstairs window as a Christmas decoration and some photoprinted fabric with holly on. Not quite sure what I will do with it yet. They have some good banners for different seasons and occasions, all quite cheap. I may get some of these and display on a wall and change them from time to time. My favourite was a tropical beach scene. There were masses of brilliant decorations - all sizes and prices. Will try and get back there again soon. Quite good that they will sell to the public as they mainly deal with big stores.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Bum Deal for German Oldies

Watching Michael Palin in Europe last night arriving in Meissen where they have branched out into making loos and handbasins.

On examining the factory, Michael was told that Germans like a different shape of loo so that when you poo, instead of falling into the water, it sits on a shelf so that you can examine it. The girl showing him around described earnestly how it was very important for the 'sanity' - meaning health, that old people in particular should carefully examine their poo 'after doing number two'.

Dear me, as though getting old wasn't bad enough, now we are expected to spend our precious time staring at our own poo! Glad I'm living in England. May help me keep my sanity.


Apparently, I read, the Japanese make so many weird inventions they even have a word for them, which is chindogu or 'queer tools'. These include mops to attach to a cat's feet which polish the floor as the cats walk around, and more recently, the design of a skirt which turns into a vending machine to disguise the potential victim of criminal activity. This invention which made the TV news is not totally convincing as a vending machine, being made of soft material with a photograph of a vending machine on the front.

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Roxy turned up and in the end we went to the Slug and had lunch with a jug of Long Island Iced Tea. Wandered around Borough Market and discovered some kind of faux mediaeval fayre thingy going on - drums, silly costumes and kids dressed as bears - throwing onions gratefully received by the crowd as though they hadn't eaten for a year. Perhaps the onions had some special significance. We found the Rake bar open for the festivities and had a coffee there. It was soon full of the fayre participants with at least one transatlantic accent there. It was getting rather dark, so having admired the river from the Golden Hinde, we went under London Bridge to the station, where Roxy got a train home to Brixton and I fell into a cab, which took me on a brief encounter with Dorian and a small Baileys before returning home to feed the ravenous Malvolio who nearly bit my leg off.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Chest Infections, Bad Old Days and Sunday Lunch

Eventually heard from Dorothy, trying to find a plumber to do their bathroom. Dorothy has been ill for two weeks now, and Julian is also now ill, poor things. Dorothy has offered to assemble the furniture when the floor has been done. I think they should try and drag some antibiotics out of the GP as they seem to have chest infections. I hope they will ring me if they need anything. Unfortunately Dorothy is working on a huge project and can't take time off, which I am sure has prolonged the whole thing.

Years ago I used to work through illnesses. I well remember having to force myself to go into work, taking anything to appear better to my employers (usually antibiotics from day one), going to bed almost as soon as I could after collecting, feeding and putting Dorothy to bed and then doing the minimum at weekends and just trying to get lots of sleep. We all used to take masses of antibiotics in those days to keep working. Women were always under pressure if they had children. They used to pretend to be ill if their child was ill in order to keep their jobs, as employers were not keen to employ mothers anyway, and signs of inadequate childcare could lead to sacking.

Pierre rang to say hello late in the evening and woke me up. I was asleep in front of the TV as usual. Early Roxy rang and we are having lunch today, maybe at Roast if I can get a table late enough for Roxy as she is a late getter-upper, or the Slug and Lettuce who do lunch for longer failing this. These are the nearest places which do Sunday lunch which may be edible. I think there's some kind of a gastro-pub in Borough called the Royal Oak in Tabard Street, but I get lost in the wilds of Borough once I wander away from the High Street.

More Clearing Up Needed and Cold Front Coming

Have just found out there are lots of firms who assemble flat packs. Dorian thinks he might be able to rewire my lamps so will take them over to him. All I have to do now is get the wood out of the hall into the living room, and get all the bits left by IKEA down to the spare room. Fortunately they delivered at 11.30am. Then I have to clear the hall before the third week in November. I suppose I could have a go at taking the curtains up myself, ready for when they can be put up again.

Malvolio is pacing about again. This time it may be because he is hungry and I am cooking a couple of jars of goulasch with some meatballs and steaks added and it smells quite good. I am definitely getting into soup/stew mode. It is a bit chilly outside.

I bought a round drainer which just fits inside my sink. More to avoid what Julian calls 'the swamp' caused by having a bowl in the sink, which blocks the sink hole a bit, causing water to gather around it. Made worse by my habit of soaking dishes in soapy water before putting them in the dishwasher. Now the whole thing is elevated and probably much more hygienic as the bowl sits neatly on top of the drainer.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Madeleine, Sunday Lunch and Furniture

ITV have finally coughed up what they owed me. Tried to contact Madeleine but she was out. Was going to suggest Sunday lunch at Simpsons or somewhere of her choice to spend our hard earned dosh. Perhaps she will ring me back.

At IKEA, I found that I could eventually get some guys to pick up all my purchases as I could not even lift them onto the trolley. I managed to sort out the money bit pushing two large trolleys, then took them both to the delivery desk. The stuff should arrive tomorrow. I shall leave it all packed up and downstairs out of the way until the floor has been finished. There will be a huge assembly effort afterwards. I am wondering if there is a special firm of people who can put it all together. It took Dorothy hours to reassemble the garden furniture after my pathetic efforts and I have heard that there are people who you can pay to do this. Must Google it.

I will be stuck in all day tomorrow waiting for the delivery, but you never know, it might come at 8am, more likely 7pm if it comes at all. I told them to use a small van as the street is narrow. I hope there won't be a repeat of the time they came with my kitchen furniture, then drove it away again because of the size of the street. Only IKEA do this - huge furniture removal vans, John Lewis vans etc have no problems.


Just spent another exhausting day in IKEA - much worse than last time because it was half term. Could not get near the cafe at lunchtime so went downstairs for a snack. However, I managed to buy the sofa and stool with spare covers, 0n order due to arrive in a couple of weeks, and four chairs and two cupboards, due for delivery tomorrow. Got back in a cab just before 5pm having set of at 10.15. I may yet buy a nice cheap square table, but will do a bit more research first. Then there will need to be a coffee table, will have to get the curtains shortened, and the lamps rewired somehow, though no one seems to do it. I shall ask some antique dealers what they do as I am sure people do not throw out valuable antique lamps.

Found a message on the phone from the wood people who say they do the edging I was looking for, so have left a message to say I would like some of this. Maybe they will email to say when it is coming or I will give them a ring on Monday. Malvolio is not fond of meatballs. I tried giving him one as a treat, but he left it.

Passed a handpainted sign on the bus offering 'DJ to rent' - I think 'hire' might have sounded better. But who knows?

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Good Day but Hopeless Transport as Usual

Mykel has kindly sent me some snaps of his new grandson, Findlay. Good name.

Great day for the pensioners - the magician was very good and the singer, chosen by Romy, went down a storm. The lunch was cold cuts and salad, and there were tea and cakes later, and a small raffle. The only problem as usual, was transport for the people in wheelchairs etc.

Dial-a-Ride had been fairly hopeless, as expected, and Ruskin transport had sent two separate cars for the people instead of one, presumably thus losing all their profit since this had been pre-paid. They also kept forgetting everything and Romy phoned them several times, to the extent that finally she could not face speaking to them, so I did. Of course, by this time, they had got their act together.

This transport problem is ridiculous in London. Everyone seems to take advantage of disability, in that they either don't bother to show, turn up an hour late, or just lie and pretend they have been. I think with Dial-a-Ride and Comcab, they get paid anyway so have no incentive to do their jobs, and Ruskin appear to have a monopoly, so the same applies. People won't complain because they are afraid of being victimised. If only we could set up our own transport for our people, with a tail lift vehicle and a couple of reliable drivers, which we could allow other organisations to use when not required by us. Oh well.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

PDS Scam and Great Interviews

Just received another warning of the PDS scam. I was taken in by this a couple of years ago. They leave a card saying they tried to deliver a parcel and get you to ring a redelivery number. Apparently by the time you listen to the recorded message your phone bill is charged £15. I was a bit suspicious at the time having never heard of PDS (Parcel Delivery Service) but carried on regardless. It seems they have been scamming millions of people, and of course this is the time of year people will start ordering stuff for Christmas.

I have just ordered the Guardian series of 14 Great Interviews. I already have the Malcolm X one and look forward to having plenty to read this winter. These are ideal booklets for a short, very interesting read.

Planks and Failed Players

The wood came today. It is fine but the skirting board was no good, fortunately the guy agreed to take it back. It consisted of huge solid planks of wood with a rounded pencil edging on one side. About 6" wide! The edging with the previous wood was very small, so will have to find something similar which will avoid having to have all the present skirting boards removed and just fit neatly against them.

Then Romy rang to say that the theatre people, around whose presence we had arranged the whole day tomorrow - lunch, a raffle, tea and afternoon entertainment - had cancelled because one of them was ill! Suggested various ideas for the morning, but then the theatre people got back to her and said they could provide a magician instead. Providing the magician is not too awful I suspect it might be more entertaining than the original act, based as it was on safety in the home etc. Just watched a film on TV about an old lady whose son stuck her in a home after her appalling husband died, and she led a revolt and turned the tables on them all, very heartwarming if a tad fromageux. Later read a bad review of it saying it was incompetent etc. Oh well what would I know, compared with a seasoned film reviewer?

Monday, 22 October 2007

Light Bulb Changing and Daybed Trying

With some difficulty I changed the light bulb on the landing. As I was removing the used long life bulb it broke and cut my thumb. I am sure the glass in the new bulbs is much thinner. The good thing is I was able to stand on my new black stool thingy without having to get the ladder out. Since i have lights missing all over the place I may get more adventurous. The only drawback being that the general filth will be brightly illuminated.

Went to Hampstead Road to try the Barcelona daybed. It was comfortable and smart. However I did notice a few stitches loose on the cover which was made 'in the Far East' and somehow this was enough to put me off. I shall I think purchase the IKEA chaise longue with the footstool and with extra covers in a sand colour. Even if it is rather large and shapeless and looks like a huge blob in the room. Like me I suppose. Good thing there's not much furniture going in.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Window Shopping

The floor fitter says he cannot do the floor until the third week in November, which will give the wood a considerable amount of time to mature. Since the IKEA sofa which Dorothy recommended is extremely comfortable, if looking rather like a shapeless lump, I may be tempted to divert from my Barcelona daybed. I would have to go down there again and order it soon as it takes four weeks to arrive. I went to Habitat yesterday to look at a table, which they did not have in stock. However, they have a nice cafe upstairs which was empty, and I had a nice vegetable lasagne with a glass of their home made lemonade, which was very pleasant. I shall go to Marks & Spencer in the Walworth Road today and buy a couple of raffle prizes for Wednesday.

Mykel and Malvolio

Just had an email from Mykel telling me he is a grandfather for the third time. Apparently he had been married for 20 years then split up and kept the three children - amazing to bring up three children, all now grown up. Well done, I say! Nice to have three grandchildren, too.

Have seen a possible round table online in Habitat, so may pop up to Regent Street later and see if it is in there. It may just do for my room. I worked out that if I order a sofa etc from IKEA next week it may come just in time for the floor being finished. If the floor is not done, I will have a whole house full of furniture packs which could be a bit nightmareish around Christmas . The margins between getting things finished and started, i.e. my going away on 17 December, are getting narrower. Julian must have something to sleep on here so that I can go away, though since Malvolio would only have to be away from the evening of 17th to the morning of 21st, i.e. four nights, I am sure he would not mind staying with Julian and Dorothy. He is going out less as it has become a bit cold here and has a litter tray in the house. Does not seem to have used it yet though.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Ru and Sad News about a Local Trader

My nephew Ru and his daughter and girlfriend visited and we had a nice time drinking and eating snacks in the Lye Torng before he had to dash back to Surrey. His girlfriend Becky is very pretty and charming and a thoroughly good influence on Ru. They went to Venice last week for a three day break from flying from Gatwick at a civilised time and staying in a four star hotel. They managed a gondola trip and a drink at Harry's Bar before they had to return, which sounds like a well spent break. I hope they will be able to get up here for a full day in the future and we could wander around Borough Market or the South Bank and spend a bit longer together.

Just read in the local rag that Bernie, the lovely black guy who had the tiny jewellery kiosk in the Elephant and Castle shopping centre, had a heart attack and died last Friday there, despite the fact that paramedics were already in the centre to deal with another emergency. He was a really nice guy and only 48 years old. He was the chairman of the local traders group trying to get a decent deal when the shops are shut down there. I often chatted to him and popped in to get him to alter jewellery. Only two weeks ago he put a new battery in my Dunhill watch, which necessitated fiddling about for ages with tiny screwdrivers. I shall really miss him.

Malvolio and Furniture

Dorothy thinks the wood is probably OK since it was ordered from the same place. I shall await the delivery with trepidation.

Malvolio attacked me at 5.30am, again. He spent a long time trying to claw the bedclothes away from me with little regard to my person, so I was eventually forced up at 6, covered in little scratches on my arms. I bought him some special cat tray crystals, and at my exhausting day in IKEA yesterday, a tray and scooper. He was miaowing around the place again this morning, so assembled everything and parked it in a rather private place. Despite putting a little earth on top of it and placing him in it, so far he has refused to use it. I suppose he might if he were desperate so shall leave it for the time being.

Just realised that if I am unable to get sofa, table, chairs etc in time for Christmas I could bring my garden furniture in! The sofa is a bit hard and the table a bit small but it would just do and looks rather cute. Particularly since Julian and Dorothy are now thinking of going abroad.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Oh Dear, What Have I Ordered?

Just noticed that the wood invoice referred to character grade oak. I was a bit worried as I sent an order for 'white character grade oak' so thought I would email them just to be sure they were sending the right thing.

Not reassured by their reply saying they were not sure what 'white' character oak was - was it something limed or treated?

Since they had described the original batch bought by Dorothy's friend as 'white', and not queried this description on my email order until now, I have no idea what we are getting, or whether it will match the wood we already have. Have forwarded their emails to Dorothy as I now feel totally confused.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Painted Shoe and IKEA

IKEA nightmare of a day today. I started badly by going into the newly painted sitting room to measure things. Wearing a new pair of shoes I trod on a rubbish bag left behind by the painter, which burst and white paint poured all over the shoe and onto the floor. Spent ages getting the paint off the shoe. I haven't even bothered to look at the floor.

I got the 468 to Croydon then caught the Wimbledon tram to IKEA. Set off at 10am and arrived at 11.45am. Had some coffee. I then tried lots of sofas, looked at tables and chairs and storage before a short lunch. Then more of the same, culminating in buying a few things for me, Dorothy and Julian in the kitchen shop. Unfortunately the most comfortable sofa comes in a distinctly off-white colour, but the other colours are all vile, so needs must. IF I buy it I will also buy another spare cover in a beigey fake suede as well for when I am having the white thing dry cleaned. Also purchased some very nice white curtains for only £25 - fortunately machine washable. I saw a lovely wire candle chandelier and bought it for the ceiling centre, when I establish where this is so that I can put a screw in to hold it. I made a note of a few possible tables and chairs, too.

Foxy and Whinge

Rather a busy day with an evening meeting. Though this finished at 9pm I had some post to deliver to Julian and Dorothy who live nearby. Despite a delicious coffee I felt so tired that Dorothy called a minicab to take me home, but this never arrived, so I went to the bus stop. After two buses had driven straight past the stop I managed to hail a cab and got home at 11pm. As the cab was turning at the bottom of my street, a large fox trotted past. It looked like a very healthy young fox, rather than one of the more bedraggled urban foxes.

I have been listening to all the debate about the sudden resignation of Menzies Campbell. Considering the recent anti ageist legislation it is quite strange to hear all the columnists and politicians whingeing about his advanced age and how ' he was an Edwardian, gentlemanly figure, completely unsuited to the cut and thrust of modern politics.' This has usually been expressed in rather smug, gloating terms, as if to praise modern politics.

This kind of attitude seems to copy Americans in their eagerness to show how tough they are by working more hours and giving up traditional tea, coffee and lunch breaks, and sometimes, annual holidays. There is an increasingly culture of aggressive management and bullying in the workplace . In my humble opinion, rather than praiseworthy, this is the unacceptable and rather small, sad face of modern society.

Rant over. Perhaps I should write something in praise of so-called 'Spanish practices.'

On a more positive note, Madeleine has now faxed me the revised ITV contract which I have now signed and may lead to a release of a small cheque in my direction. And there is yet another ITV scandal on the box tonight about selection of quiz candidates for their telegenic looks and miscounting of votes. Deja vu.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Malvolio and Daybed - again

I have found out that you can get new and better kitty litter and boxes with charcoal beds, swing doors and roofs. I am looking into this possibility for Malvolio, and have meanwhile ordered some of the new litter to put in an ordinary tray for the time being, to avoid anything untoward happening. My neighbour upstairs has put his closed cat tray inside a cupboard in the hall, and I may well do the same, if I can ever clear out the rubbish already on the floor in there.

I have found that I can get a three week delivery on a white leather daybed, but the aniline ones, which are softer leather and dyed all through might take a little longer. I shall look into this further.

Malvolio woke me at 5.30 again this morning. Pity, as I shall have a very long day with an evening meeting and don't expect to arrive home before 10pm. The smell of paint in the house is appalling.

Monday, 15 October 2007

More Paint and Strange Malvolio

Went to a meeting this morning with another charity. The chairman and I had a Thai lunch afterward. Came back to find the first coat of white paint on and of course, Steve gone! He is coming tomorrow to get the second coat on and finish, thank goodness. The room looks enormous sans furniture. One of the floor fitters can't come until after Christmas, but another one is going to ring me back tonight about coming to have a look and quote for this.

I shall have to try and get to the bank to get Steve some money tomorrow. Malvolio has been pacing around the spare room again in an odd way. I am wondering if he has developed some kind of phobia about going outside. No sign of untoward happenings in there, though I have opened the back door in the hope of encouraging him to go outside.

Hmm. He is still wandering about sniffing at everything and occasionally mewing. Have given him a small amount of dry food.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Weeds and Earache

I was lolling on my bed watching TV, having a rest this afternoon, when I saw my upstairs neighbour come through the gate to my basement area outside. Fortunately he was only picking some rather overgrown weeds from the steps, but I had been a bit worried about the intrusion.

He has told me that some kind of insulation needs to be put down under the new wood for my sitting room, which is normally provided with the wood. I shall wait until I get a quote or two and take the advice of the people laying it as to what is the best thing. I have found the firm in Essex who provide the stuff called aquacote which is painted on the wood to finish it.

My left ear has been aching for about a week, and feels swollen and blocked. I have started putting some drops left over from a previous infection in there, but to little effect so far. Maybe this is what has been making me feel a bit off-colour for the past few days.

Semiconscious Life

Steve the painter here at 8.30 again today. He seems to get stir-crazy after a couple of hours and having given a second coat to the paintwork, went off to try and find his paint try for doing the walls etc tomorrow. He could not find it and had not got his electric screwdrivers with him to change the light switch, which he agreed to do so disappeared at 11.30 until tomorrow.

I nearly fell over all the stuff stacked in the top hall last night. Twice. Will have to see if I can get rid of some of it.

It is now 1.30pm. I forgot to ring Nibby this morning as I had to rush to let Steve in and make him tea etc.

I am still trying to force myself to go out and buy a paper. I have a feeling I shall stay in all day watching TV and surfing to try and find a decent daybed for the sitting room.

Had an email from Mykel to tell me he had walked away from his business as his partner had been stealing money. Cherie is recovering from a knee op, so sent my best wishes.

Another early start tomorrow. I hope Malvolio doesn't wake me up at 5am as he did this morning.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Old Scrotum and Poppers

Blimey, just listening to someone on radio 4 plugging a book praising domesticity for women. They wheeled in a feminist who described her attempts at knitting saying they always ended up 'looking like an old scrotum.' Was a bit surprised by the expression, but I kind of know what she means, as a hopeless knitter.

At a local market stall I was looking for air fresheners and came across these tiny black bottles described as room fresheners. They were marked 'pure gold' and 'bee sting' and it said you would 'go with a bang' with these. These sounded highly odd, and on questioning the stallholder said' I shouldn't tell you, but people take these when going to parties'. On further investigation elsewhere it seemed that they might be full of amyl nitrate or whatever it is they put in poppers. Perhaps when carried away with the effects you don't notice how the room pongs. Or not.

More Poo and Painting

Steve the painter has done the first coat on the wood. Second coat tomorrow and maybe first coat on the walls. He is working Monday as well and will finish then so I need to get quotes for the floor.

I have just spent ages mopping floors and cleaning cat poo out of the garden so Malvolio has no excuse for bad behaviour. I do hope he's not getting senile. I suspect he is just fat and lazy. And likes a very clean garden to poo and pee in.

Julian is anxious about all this and I suspect thinks I am losing my grip on the household cleanliness. This was lost by me at the age of about 11, and has improved a bit over the years in fact. Julian also suspects that another cat may be the guilty party since I often leave the back door open. I doubt this as if another cat so much as approaches the premises, Malvolio is on the alert and tears down to the back door to see it off.

Cat Poo Nightmare

Oh dear, just made a foul discovery. I was trying to put the sitting room carpet on top of the spare room bed, and as I stood on the kelim which lives in the room, felt a hard lump under my shoe, which on further inspection turned out to be very hard cat poo. There was quite a bit of this in one area half underneath the bed. No doubt there had been cat pee too.

Managed to clean up and drag the kelim outside, where I will leave it to be rained on for a bit before taking to the cleaners. Fortunately it is thin enough for a dry cleaning machine, and fortunately the poo was very solid, but this must be where the smell was coming from. My sense of smell is evidently a bit suspect.

Any more of this and Malvolio will have to be despatched to the cat home in the sky. I cannot think why he did it, apart from the fact that there was a long rainy period recently, but it cannot carry on like this.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Food Fads.

I was thinking of my childhood food dislikes: tapioca (frogspawn!) and sago puddings and macaroni pudding, which fortunately probably don't exist now; jelly ( because of the consistency); any visible black specks on fried food ( possibly ants!); any visible fat on meat at all.

When I didn't like smoked salmon (raw!) and artichokes , caviar and asparagus, I was assured by my parents that these were 'acquired tastes' - and sure enough, I did acquire a taste for all these later on. Which is probably why I was a thin child and became a very fat adult. Having however seen more snaps of my grandfather, this may be partly inherited.

Food I don't like now is more to do with the associations: tongue, heart, kidneys, brains etc. though for some reason I do like liver and oxtail. I think I like nearly all fish and seafood, with the possible exception of whelks, which are very tough and fairly tasteless.

On HK it was interesting to see how many people loathed Marco's pigs trotters. This was an incredibly complicated dish to make, but one I never got to taste. Stuffed with a chicken puree studded with sweetbreads and truffles, it should have been OK, but plates were sent back one after the other. Strange, in view of the current fashion for eating every part of the animal.

Weird Cat

No further clues but Malvolio's behaviour is becoming odder. He keeps lying on the floor, which is unusual for him. Just can't make it out. I am now wondering if I have mice or something and he can smell them but not track them down.

It is now 6am. Malvolio slept on my bed and woke me up at 5.45am. He is eating normally and seems fine. I shall keep an eye on him.

Incontinent - Me or Malvolio?

I am a bit worried. Malvolio has been pacing around downstairs sniffing as though he is looking for a place to pee. This is what he did a week or so ago in the middle of the night. Opened the back door for him to no effect.

Dorothy said my bedroom smelled strongly of pee last night! I don't know whether I have unknowingly become a bit incontinent or whether in fact Malvolio has been secretly peeing downstairs. Strangely though, I haven't noticed it. I shall have to crawl around on hands and knees sniffing any soft furnishings on the floor. The only time he has ever done this before is when he was unwell and he peed on the bottoms of the curtains which were on the floor. The smell however, then, was v. obvious. Investigations continue.

Steve the Painter, Paint and Post

Steve the painter turned up this morning. The paint is due to arrive at some time today! Steve went out to get some sandpaper so got him to collect my coat which is fine. He did some filling and sandpapering and has now disappeared for the rest of the day, having collected my mobile from my office which I had left behind last night.

I am now stuck in waiting for the paint, and also waiting for Parcelforce to deliver the parcel which they had agreed to deliver today. I am making a beefsteak stew with onions, garlic, tomato puree, red wine and prunes with some chickpeas. It tastes quite nice. May serve with some quinoa.

The paint has arrived, and so has the parcel, finally. I have been falling asleep all afternoon, must be a bit tired.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Dorothy, Julian and Melvina

At last some contact with Dorothy who has belatedly reported the mobile theft to the police but argues that since the form did not arrive before and the mobile company did not say this needed to be done within 24 hours all should be OK. We shall see.

Dorothy and Julian are coming around tonight to help move the last stuff out of the sitting room in preparation for the painter who threatens to turn up at 8am tomorrow. The paint is being sent directly here tomorrow morning, as well as my Parcelforce parcel, supposedly. i am destined to be either at work or trapped in the flat. I still haven't been able to collect my coat from the shopping centre where the sleeves were being shortened.

I have taken to being very lazy and having breakfast in bed while watching the morning TV, the downside being Malvolio who keeps trying to steal my breakfast.

I am still agonising about furniture. No one else seems to like the Ercol daybed. The ones I am watching on Ebay are shooting up to quite high prices, too.

Went into work today. Next to me on the bus was a little old man who said he did entertainment on Sunday at a local pub, The Town House. He confided that he had been a female impersonator all his life, said his name was Melvin/Melvina, and showed me some snaps of him as 'a lady' and some as a Teddy Boy in his youth. He said he was 77 and he hoped I would come and see the show. Strong coffee when I arrived at work.

Telly People Behaving, Stolen Mobile and Wrong Parcelforce Redelivery

Madeleine has had some luck with ITV and it seems if I sign a form agreeing to be nice, or at least not nasty, about them, then I may be paid without fear of seeing my vast bulk exposed to nationwide scorn and derision on the screen. We shall see.

Work today and all sorts of problems arising out of the stealing of Dorothy's phone such as the question of whether Dorothy reported it to the police as the insurance form says it has to be done within 24 hours in order to claim, etc. I think Dorothy will probably have to open an account with the phone people in Dorothy's name rather than mine, and start again with a new phone.

Still moving bits out of the room, and the painter is due at 8am on Friday morning which is a bit scary. Julian is going to try and come around tomorrow and move a thing or two which will help. Parcelforce tried to deliver a parcel today which they were due to deliver on Friday, which doesn't say much for their redelivery arrangements on their website. I eventually managed to speak to someone who assured me the parcel would in fact be redelivered on Friday.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

parcel,sofas and weird phone messages

trapped inside awaiting another parcel which Parcelforce said they would attempt to redeliver today. I doubt it, judging by their past performance. I shall also have to stay in on Friday awaiting delivery of yet another parcel. Fortunately it is pouring with rain outside. I have managed to dye a fitted sheets and the pillowshams in so-called Bahama blue which is very like turquoise and they are draped over my banister drying. I cannot do any more washing as every radiator, doorknob and hook in the house is festooned with washing as none can go outside.

I shall carry on transporting bits and pieces downstairs but realise I still have to dispose of masses of things. I am rather worried about having an entire IKEA look to my sitting room and moving toward a vintage Ercol daybed at the least. I shall take a sneaky peek at my neighbour's one as I feel it will fit in very well with a modern look, and they are incredibly well-made. I may get a different table, the Habitat round wood one is starting to appeal, though no inspiration for the chairs yet. Just seen a fabulous Danish afrormosia bedsofa with integral arms/coffee tables at the side by someone called Hvidt in the fifties on Ebay but think it would not get in the room. Pity.

I am now becoming very confused. Had a phone call purporting to be from British Telecom messages saying I had one message. Listening it was someone called XXX giving a change of telephone number so pressed three to delete it. I do hope it wasn't some awful scam from abroad which will cost me a fortune.

At least the parcel has come from Gudrun Sjoden with some teacloths etc in it. All very nice.

Grumpy Old Woman

I am heartily sick of a mail order company called Shapely Figures. I have ordered lots of large cheap clothes from them in the past. Not content with taking my money and continually bombarding me with sales catalogues through the post - offering things I have just paid full price for at half price, they have now taken to ringing me at home all the time. They call it a 'courtesy call'. I have received several of these despite telling them not to ring me. The call refers to an item I have tried to order but was not in stock at the time. They say they will look it up and see if they have it, only to tell me it is still not available, before trying to sell me the wrong size or a different colour! They rang again today and I practically swore at them as I was trying to carry various bulky items from the sitting room into the basement.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Oud and Weed

The Oud I ordered was from a strange mail order company who sent me a miniature catalogue with lots of weird stuff in. Some of this was v. naff, like coloured scent bottles with bits of silver art nouveau on the outside, flowery note pads etc., but some quite interesting to me, like giant replicas of threepenny and sixpenny pieces made into money boxes or could be used as paper weights. They are embossed on both sizes , so I bought a couple of each which will make jolly little presents or raffle prizes. The order won't arrive for a while as a couple of the things have apparently been incredibly successful and they are sending everything together.

The penny has just belatedly dropped about the hilarity caused by the name Weed. It seems there was a childrens TV programme aired when I lived abroad about flowerpot men with a character who was a weed, with a little weedy voice.

Defurnishing and Dyeing (Again)

Finally found some dye. It is not exactly the same colour but is almost the same. Will have another shot at dyeing the quilt. We shall see.

The men are supposed to be collecting my sofa and chairs today so I can get someone in to paint my room. I may ask them if they can put the telly downstairs so I can watch it from there.

The quilt is in the washing machine with the dye. Contacted the men and they were delayed on a job but would ring back when they were on their way in an hour or two. Hmmm.

The men finally arrived and took the stuff away. Getting my tiny sofa out was a huge problem for two of them so I had to show them how to do it as it is a bit tricky. They also moved the TV downstairs for me which was v. helpful. I shall have to move more things downstairs to finally clear the room, when I can ask for the painter to start work.

It is strange watching TV in the bedroom. Quite cosy though, and I can go to bed really early.

Oh, and the quilt looks much better. I have an extra packet of dye so will do a sheet and redo the pillow shams tomorrow.

New Smell Experience to Come and Millionaire Diet

I am developing a smell obsession. My latest interest is something called Oud, which comes from some fungus growing on certain wood which only happens rarely, or that is the story. The Oud has different qualities depending on where it grow and how it is extracted. Have sent for a small sample, but noticed when I was in Oxford Street on Saturday that there is a shop called Arabian Oud there, which might have various qualities and prices.

Just about to eat some rather fine asparagus for lunch with just melted butter, pepper and salt. Perhaps I should start a luxury diet, where you eat fresh lobster, japanese steak, caviar, etc so you can't afford to eat much. Vintage champagne only, of course.

A Smell Reverie

I was lying in the bath having poured some Badedas into the water. I absolutely adore the smell of Badedas, which takes me back to the sixties or early seventies when my mother first bought it. This started me thinking about other smells, such as the smell of bay rum, and limes. These remind me of my childhood in Trinidad, when all the men covered their hair in bay rum, and splashed their faces with a lime cologne called 'Limacol' which I loved as a child.

Years ago in London, road resurfacer machines - huge black machines full of tar, used to trundle through the streets. Pungent though that smell was, it transported me immediately to the pitch lake in Trinidad where all the pitch comes from. As children we used to spend a day most weekends near there on the beach at Brighton on the Trinidad coast, swimming around and playing in the sun. Huge branches had been washed up into the shallow water many years before and we used to climb around on these and jump into the sea. The barrels of pitch went past on the transporter into the container ships nearby.

I can't smell jasmine without being reminded of a holiday in Tunis about forty years ago, when people wore garlands of jasmine in the evenings which scented the air wonderfully.

My mother-in-law gave me my first bottle of Shocking by Schiaparelli, which she assured me was perfect for a young girl. This probably endeared me to shocking pink because of its packaging. My mother originally wore Chanel No. 5, but later Arpege, by Lanvin. I always remember her going out in an evening gown, perfectly coiffed and made up with pale powder and red lipstick, and the sophisticated scent of Arpege.

The rather foul smell of Je Reviens takes me right back to my mis-spent teenage years. At that time I was trying 'new' scents, such as Tweed and Tiara by Revlon, but always went back to the awful Je Reviens. I really don't know how I could have possibly liked the smell. Rather like Californian Poppy, and Soir de Paris, both sold in Woolworths (I believe you can still buy Soir de Paris in the shop at the Imperial War Museum) when sniffed now, they are unutterably vile. I wonder if taste buds mature, or whether it is matter of fashion?

I do still like a rather cheaply bottled, but quite expensive scent, which my stepfather brought me back from Grasse when a child, called Habanita by Molinard. This is really powerful and I suspect I am their only customer. When my stepfather brought it back it came in a mysterious small metal bottle, and kept for years.

When I worked at University College Hospital in the nineties, I had a lazy hangover of always wearing Poison, because basically about one drop would be powerful enough to last all day. A colleague said she always knew when I was coming around the corner, and could not smell it without being reminded of me. I still have to admit to rather liking Poison, but not the new versions of it.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

No Dye, Sunday Lunch and Riot

Things go from bad to worse re the dye. Got to John Lewis and they did not have the colour. I have a feeling it has been discontinued. Went to Selfridges who had just stopped stocking dyes. Anyway I had a nice Sunday lunch in the brasserie in John Lewis and got chatting with a Brazilian mining person. He lived in Rio, married to an English girl and had five children. I told him about the Brazilian students who had stayed with us years ago and how nice they were. The lunch was OKish and the glass of red wine I had excellent.

So tired from all the walking I cabbed it back. In the Thai place later someone said there had been huge riots from 1-4am at the Elephant and Castle. They had been showing an African movie there and the crowds were very noisy so a police car turned up and asked them to keep the noise down while leaving, whereupon someone threw a brick at the police and a full scale riot broke out. There were masses of police cars and they did not manage to break it up until 4am, according to a neighbour who had seen the whole thing from his flat nearby.

Redecoration Obsession and Failure to Reach John Lewis

I think I may be becoming a bit obsessed. I had coffee in the shopping centre and was reading the Saturday Guardian where I found some interesting websites dealing with recycled goods for furnishing, the best of which was where you can buy a recycled Victorian bath as a sofa. This is a huge temptation to someone trashy and gimmicky like me, but not sure if the floor would have to be reinforced since the baths are cast iron and no doubt very heavy. Another article in the mag referred to an artist and her husband who basically found stuff or got it very cheaply. Looking at their house was oddly familiar and I realised I had done this myself, and while it was a comfortable look it was strangely depressing. There was a third article about some people with a chateau in France who had bought everything from Ebay. Cheap antiques mainly. Inspired by this, I spent several hours marking things I could buy from Ebay. However I was looking at very modern stuff and found quite a lot.

No turquoise dye, so I may force myself to go to John Lewis. I keep intending to do this and failing, but will make a further mental, and maybe physical effort, as the quilt which is half-dyed is lying in a sorry heap apparently reproaching me for my dismal attempt at improving it.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Blog Sleep, Breakfast and Home Dreams

No further word from Beaumont. Perhaps the blog worked.

The shopping has arrived and I have just noticed I ordered two lots of loo paper, I am inclined to press a button on the computer, and when a different brand comes up I forget I have already ordered it. Never mind, it'll just last longer. I have also ordered stuff which needs to be consumed quickly, such as fresh dressed crab and some scallops. May try the scallops with some bacon tonight. Had a lovely breakfast of three bits of Black Forest Ham and a couple of fried eggs with a small bit of Irish soda bread and a cup of tea, so feel very ready for the day.

They do quite a nice latte at the shopping centre in the open bit upstairs, so may well buy a home interiors mag and indulge myself. I have had so many ideas about my sitting room: the traditional with a red chesterfield and old gateleg tables etc., the modern, which would either mean an IKEA white leather sofa such as the Arild, or a black chesterfield or the Fantasy or Salsa ones from Ilva. I would have a problem buying from Ilva as they are somewhere in Essex.

I am moving towards a black and white look with the light oak floor and beige curtains I already have. I am very tempted by the Docksta round white table but the diameter may be too large for my tiny room. We shall see.

Mind you, I was looking at Ebay last night and was slightly tempted by an Ercol day bed and extendable table and chairs. I could cover the day bed in some Lucienne Day fabric from the fifties and get some fifties and sixties bits and pieces.

The black and white option has been further looked into though, and I do rather covet the Habitat Spindle floor light in white or black. I shall not bother to make the final decision until the room has been painted and the floor has been done.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Early Blog and Chilly Malvolio

Malvolio woke me up at 5.45am , so decided to feed him earlyish. Ocado are coming between nine and ten with the shopping.

I have not managed to find any more dye in the turquoise colour locally for redying my bedding, so may have to go up to John Lewis for this at some point today. At least I won't have to wait for the post as the strike is on.

My stepfather from Canada, Beaumont, tells me he is totally against blogs. He thinks they are akin to vanity publishing and full of rubbish. Dorothy tells me that my blog would send anyone to sleep and needs very heavy editing. As Beaumont is obviously up too late and sending me emails in the wee small hours perhaps he should have a good long read of my blog which might send him to sleep.

It is getting cold outside and Malvolio keeps pacing in and out, not sure whether to venture out into his world of excitement and fending other cats away from his territory, or to creep downstairs and curl up on one of the beds. The indoor option seems to be winning.

I shall now attempt to get up properly: have a bath, get dressed and face the day.

Strikes and Lies

Now there is a postal strike so I don't know when my parcel will come. I think it may be some books I ordered but not sure.

Just watching telly and a report about how they misrepresented the Queen on BBC and heads have rolled. I suppose if they can misrepresent the Queen they can lie to me so nothing should surprise me. I must say I would like a few heads to roll at ITV, as their behaviour toward me does seem to fit in with their general recent reputation for sleaze and lying. I would rather have a cheque however! I must say when I first went to telly towers and met the people I had no idea how vile they would turn out to be.

HK, Weird Name and Boring Domesticity

No word from the Hell that is ITV.

An old friend rang and I told her of my vile experience. She thinks the whole thing was illegal and I should see a lawyer or 'report' it. Not sure where!

She asked about my new-found family and when she discovered my name had originally been Weed, she became more and more hysterical with laughter on the phone and said 'Wait until Chris hears about this - he'll fall about!' ( Chris being her husband). Now I know that Weed is probably not the most exciting name, but I have to say I have not found it that funny. Nor has anyone else I know. It was changed apparently by Deed Poll when I was very young. I have always just thought it odd. My new found family have obviously not been bothered by it and have always kept the family name. I am now wondering if my friend was drunk. Apparently her maiden name was Rose, and she seemed to think that was funny too. I just don't get it. Ah well.

I took a new coat to get the sleeves shortened in the shopping centre. It will be ready by late on Tuesday afternoon.

Julian rang to say a bathroom fitter had been to have a look before giving them an estimate. Their bathroom really does need sorting out.

Van Man is supposedly coming on Monday afternoon or evening to have a look at my removal problem. Meanwhile Malvolio must be hungry as he is mountaineering all over my kitchen tops in an attempt to get at my laptop and walk over it. Better go and feed him

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Food, food, food.

I will be devouring the rest of the chowder tonight. It really doesn't need any cheese on top. It is lovely, delicate, yet rich flavour. I shall follow with some choc cake.

Fell asleep half way through The Restaurant programme. Sent a nasty email to Parcelforce as they have put on their site that they tried to deliver my parcel yesterday and did not do so. they have not tried today either! Spoke to a man and van organisation today who say they might come around on Monday night about getting rid of my furniture. We shall see.

Did a large Ocado order for the first time in weeks which will come early on Saturday morning. Apparently.

Dorian rang on my way home from work today to invite me out to dinner this evening, but I had to finish the chowder, so reluctantly refused as this would have been fun.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

It's Just Not My Day Today

Absolutely fed up with ITV. Some obnoxious girl rang up to refuse to pay me unless I signed their release form. So I was offered the money under false pretences, and now they want me to sign world wide rights for fifty quid a day. This is what they were proposing to pay just for my attendance on the programme working at least fourteen hours a day with half an hours break. Sent her number to Lucy. Otherwise they can at least pay me the £20 they owe me which I had to pay to do the police check for them online and which they said they would repay. They really are a sickening bunch.

The guy who was supposed to quote on Monday afternoon and who I waited in all afternoon for has rung back to say he had been in Cambridge and wanted to come and quote tomorrow when I will be at work. Not only did he not even ring on Monday, but didn't ring on Tuesday either. I really do give up.

AND the sodding parcel which I have been waiting in all day for has not been delivered.

Making some chocolate brownies.

Nice Food, Boring Wait and Family Rumours

Now 2pm and since the parcelforce people asked me to get in touch within the next five days AS WELL as saying don't get in touch they will deliver today. I have just spent about 20 minutes pressing buttons on the phone trying unsuccessfully to contact them. I am rapidly losing the will to live over their non delivery.

By mistake I left the gas under the soup on low for about 20 minutes. This has produced a rich and tasty soup/stew, even if the prawns have shrunk to large shrimp size. Had two helpings, it was so good. Marco would definitely have disapproved of the overcooking of the fish and prawns. My only judgement about food is that it should taste OK, and preferably not look too vile.

Madeleine has emailed me and offered to get in touch with ITV for me, which I have gratefully accepted. She has also had some contact with relatives in South Africa who have a rather romanticised version of my ex husband's history, involving his being the youngest ever professor of English at Oxford (he did a degree in Modern Languages there) and tutoring the children of the Saudi royal family (taught at Uni there). Real life is always duller than rumour and gossip. I think I shall put it about that in my youth I ran away to Pakistan with a famous cricketer. I think it's been done though. Oh well.

Post Still Delayed, Chowder and Self-Pity


Now 11.45 and parcel post have not yet redelivered. However had a clothes delivery earlier so staying at home has not been entirely wasted. Done some washing and clearing up too.

Having some raw prawns, a small bit of smoked haddock, some carrots and celery lying around I decided to make a fish stew, which I have now turned into a kind of chowder without bacon. Fried a chopped onion in butter, added lots of garlic, some bayleaves, salt, pepper and cinnamon and some water, put in some mushrooms, chopped carrots and celery and poached the haddock, took it out and skinned it and popped back in with the raw prawns. These will cook for too long but never mind. I have added some cream and lots of black pepper and a handful of spiral pasta. It tastes OK so far but the veggies are still a bit raw. We shall see. Will probably cook, leave to cool and reheat later served with soda bread and maybe a bit of parmesan, or maybe not. I have become rather fond of chowders - this is the second I have made recently.

I am still quite frustrated about the sitting room as I now feel it is pointless getting any quotes for anything until I can get someone to remove the sofa and put the TV downstairs, not to mention moving all the wood planks back out to stay in the hall until their installation. The prospect of getting it finished before Christmas since I can't even start is seemingly hopeless, so I shall have to go to some ghastly hotel in London for Christmas lunch, just to get out of the place.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Eye, No More Quotes and Delayed by Post

Some of us on the Eye. Well, I never got the second quote for the decoration. It all seems hopeless. I shall try and ring a couple more people tomorrow. And I shall try the wood people.

Went on the Eye today, and all went well. It goes so slowly you are unaware of the movement, but I was a bit nervous about the outside walls as they bulge out. Finished the lamb stew and souffle pud, which oddly, I rather like cold.

Will have to stay at home tomorrow and await a postal delivery which is annoying. This means I may have to work on Thursday. We shall see.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Not Much Luck with Quotes But More with Souffle

The first guy turned up to quote for painting my living room. My problem was that he wanted to start straight away between jobs not giving me time to get the stuff out of the room and had hurt his knee. I don't think he could have managed to help much so that's about it. The afternoon guy quoting has not turned up yet. To complicate matters my daughter in law has offered to do the job for half price. I really need it done soon though as there is no point asking someone to quote for the floor until I am able to tell them to go ahead, which depends on the room being finished, the wood arriving, which takes ten days from the date of order, and the wood settling down ready for fixing. I shall see if the second guy turns up. I will be at work anyway for the next two days and therefore unable to do any more.

I managed to make some souffles quite easily by getting some frozen summer fruit from Tesco, adding a bit of blueberry jam, reducing it with some added sugar before adding a bit of cornflour and letting it cool. Then I whipped up six egg whites and some sugar before folding in the fruit mixture, and putting it in souffle dishes which were buttered and sugared and waiting in the fridge. Not straining the fruit gives it more interest and texture, if a little less refinement than Marco's version. Also the fruit mix adds interest.