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.