Thursday, 30 June 2011

Met Evon and Kate, and Kate's friend Brigitte at South Bank today, and we decided to do a journal project before meeting up again next Friday at my place. We shall see. I made a start on mine, which I have to say is rather pre 'O' level so far. Though a bit shameful, I am determined to carry on with it and will persist, rather than keep restarting. It is meant to be fun, after all, so I will play with it for a bit.

Went to see the Tracey Emin, which was a curate's egg: good in parts. Unfortunately, the bits I quite liked were the quilts. I have never been too keen on art which is so confessional though. I found the filmed bits (in wedding dresses, on horses etc.) rather tiresome. I think I am in a minority of one, since Evon and Kate both like her work. There was an interesting exhibition outside, and here's a snap.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011


Looking for and finding some old sketch books. Purchased a few more - they have certainly leapt up in price, so I shall have to make some of my own, I think. I shall purchase some watercolour paper and chop it up, and either staple the middle and fold to make thin books, or punch holes in and tie with ribbon for larger ones. We shall see. Spent ages sorting out bits and pieces to collage into new books. This will be rather a challenge since my design skills are somewhat lacking.

A call from my sister to say that my uncle Alan who I have never met, has died. He lived in Canada, and his Canadian wife had died a few years ago. He was 90, so had a very good innings, and was the last of three brothers to die, so the end of an era. My brother Michel is very upset indeed, as he was close to Alan, kept in touch and visited him several times in Canada. Since Alan was already in very poor health when I discovered this branch of the family, I did not like to contact him direct, but Michel told him that I had been in contact with the family. I had a long chat with my sister, and Michel is going to send me some photographs of Alan and the family, which I will be glad to see.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Tuesday in Town

Got a bus into Oxford Street. A view from the bus here. As it was passing the War Museum, I noticed some policewomen standing about, and cordons around the Peace Garden, then a police tent. I suspect either a death or murder. I am told that rough sleepers do tend to go in there. Since heard that a body of a man in his forties had been found.

Purchased a new lightweight glass topped scales from John Lewis reduced to £21, and with a guarantee to last 15 years, which seemed good value. Disappointed to find my weight virtually the same, according to these. I was hoping for complete inaccuracy in my previous scales, which I have had for ages. If anyone would like some very unsmart but accurate old scales, let me know.

I am getting rather excited about the idea of making some sketch books/journals. I have managed to dig out some of my old ones, and now want to do some more with a bit more visual impact, using collage etc and plenty of colour, but I do need to get a fine pen for some sketching as well. I have already found some bits of textile and card to stick in and may colourwash some pages before I start. We shall see.

The Paul O'Grady autobiography was excellent, and I look forward to reading the next one.

Slightly gutted to learn that Catherine Cornwall is only a size 6. This is far too small. Good thing she is young or she might look a bit scraggy. Not that I am bitter and jealous, of course.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Moon Day

My flowers are quite good this year. just finished Dawn French 'A little bit marvellous' with a great ear for the teenage whingeing daughter. There was definitely something of a Confederacy of Dunces about the mother son relationship. I think French must have read this book. Now stuck in to Paul O'Grady The Devil Rides Out.

Last night Madeleine rang and rescued me from my enforced solitude with a long chat, for which I was grateful. The sum total of my human interaction otherwise had been an exchange of texts with Dorothy: me - 'hot, innit?' Dorothy: 'scorchio'.

The other excellent thing - good news for anyone else with very oversized knockers - is a minimiser bra that actually minimises. I purchased it from La Redoute at the enormous price of £45. It is a 38G unwired, deeply unglamorous bra from Glamorise. But it really actually does minimise, mainly by squashing said enormous knockers against chest. Am about to purchase another. Mind you, when I remove it it's like the Great Escape. Oh well.

Trapped in the house today, awaiting a redelivery, damn it.

Quiet Sunday

Slept badly last night: hip and back pain. Had been out to celebrate the chairman's birthday and retirement and met several of his friends and some family. Very pleasant people, but I had already eaten when huge plates of food were put out, and I was completely unable to resist some of this, none of it healthy, of course. Went to bed at about midnight after a long chat with Dorothy, and was awoken by the Kook at 5am.

It was incredibly hot today. I purchase the Observer and a couple of books and spent most of the day reading these. I had not managed to lose weight during the past week, unsurprisingly, and things were no better today. I shall have to make some effort.

I could not sit outside much as it was too hot, so lounged about inside. I was tempted to ring up a few people, but decided they were probably all busy, so abandoned this idea. Even Nibby did not answer the phone this morning. I suppose she is busy, too, with the grandchildren and the pets. Perhaps I should try living in Barcelona again when I retire, but I would need to have a room to come back to every few months, and someone would have to live in my flat and look after the monster. Oh well.

I was planning to take a boat trip to Richmond tomorrow, but have arranged a postal delivery so will have to stay at home, and since the weather is due to worsen on Tuesday, may have to abandon this idea altogether.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Thor's Day

There was a very funny article in The Times comment today from a GP about the 'drugged and drunken' oldies.

A successful meeting with our investment company and off for a week. Not quite sure what to do, so it will depend on the weather. During the week I may do a river trip if I can.

I could not decide what to wear this morning, so arrived back home to a bed covered in tried and discarded clothing. Awful mess, and to make it worse, Julian had called in my absence to collect some stuff. Compensated a little when my neighbour invited me for a drink upstairs - the babe was wearing the little outfit I had purchased, and looked very cute indeed.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Drunken Hip Oldies

Shock - horror! old people drink too much! Apparently secretly at home and not socially. What a surprise. Now the nanny state tells us we should drink only half a pint of beer a day. Straight after this announcement in the news came a report about delays in surgery for broken hips. Dear me. My forthcoming absinthe evening is cancelled. I would not wish to be guilty of encouraging oldies to drink too much. Dieting, abstinence, there's not much left for us. Though I am an exception, many old people spend their days looking after their grandchildren, enabling the parents to go to work. Even more 'younger' oldies in their sixties look after their own elderly parents. Happy 'retirement', and now the pubs are closing, so no chance of even a 'social' drink. Makes you sick. Rant over.

Lunchtime meeting tomorrow with one of the companies holding our investments. They seem quite jolly, which I hope will lighten things a bit. Sooo looking forward to retirement. When I retire next year I shall be completely selfish and make a conscious effort to drink like a fish. I shall have plenty of solitary absinthe sessions. Cheers!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Stuff I Have Been Reading

I nearly threw up several times skimming through 'Welcome to Mollywood' by Molly Parkin, mainly at the graphic anatomical sex descriptions, in particular an unsuccessful attempt at geriatric sex. Dear me. I then ploughed through the Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein, with its many repetitions: Gertrude's style of writing, seemingly. The Alice B. Toklas cookbook was so much better written - but then it was written by Alice.

I then tackled Damage by the recently deceased Josephine Hart, followed by Sin,
then Oblivion, and am now reading The Truth About Love. These are very well written, and such good titles. Oh, I forgot to mention that I read various novels by Edward St Aubyn in between. Again well written, but somehow I was not keen.

My vile neighbour, arms akimbo, is 'talking' to a neighbour in a loud voice, very jarring, which can no doubt be heard for miles. Remind me to move house.

Monday Again

Wore my Fit Flops into John Lewis today and was accosted by a woman wearing black ones. She said she had noticed I wore them, and said how comfortable they were.

After a few purchases sank into the cafe for a coffee and a read. An elderly couple beside me were discussing the pop star to opera star programme currently on TV. She was explaining how it worked, before mentioning that Simon Cowell had been at her club the other night. Her companion asked if she had managed to resist talking to him. I think this was ironic.

I then managed to find some Brunswick ham in the Food Hall and purchased 200 grammes, some of which was gratefully devoured by the Kook for lunch on my return.

Purchased a couple of bargain things at Ann Harvey, which is closing at the end of the month, dammit. I also bought a Big Hair revolving brush. I hope this works on my thinning locks.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Settling Back In

Back to work and trying to remember all the tasks I had managed to completely forget while away. This seems to me to prove the benefit of absenting oneself from the normal workplace. However, Romy worked out all the overtime we had done, amounting to some 80 or 90 hours while away. Dear me. I have managed to select a couple of weeks when I have the opportunity to take some actual annual leave, which has eluded me until now. Depending on the weather, I make take the chance to visit Paignton and try out a hotel which may be suitable for the punters. An added attraction, apart from my Devon family, is that I could try out the old charabanc which goes from Torquay through Paignton to the Agatha Christie house, and a visit to Cockington, which is apparently very picturesque and full of thatched cottages and so on. Trouble is, I shan't fancy doing either if the weather is vile. I shall ponder this.

I really do fancy holding an absinthe evening. Basically drinking absinthe, using my new absinthe spoons and pouring iced water over sugar lumps etc. The main problem with this is that nobody seems to like absinthe. Although it is probably a sacrilege, I seem to remember drinking something called pink Pernod years ago, which was basically Pernod with blackcurrant liqueur, which did taste quite good. Since Pernod is very similar to absinthe, perhaps a Pink and Green evening might be the way to go. We shall see.

My new best friend Alice turned up the other evening after work. She had some good news in that her Greek property seems to be fine, she had a good time there, and may be able to let it. She also had the opportunity of taking a permanent job which might provide a lucrative pension.

Nibby has landed at Manchester and is now resting at Macclesfield. I have obtained the telephone number and shall ring her in due course.

I must organise the Sunday lunch with Madeleine. I have a Groupon voucher which I must use for this. I am hoping she will be about soon, as I need to book this in advance. I do hope the weather improves, though the apparent lack of sunspot activities may herald another mini ice age: hardly the promised global warming, in this part of the world, anyway.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Bad Legs

Purchased some Fit Flops, which were quite good to wear, but after some overuse,they rubbed between the toes. Having also purchased some Skechers Shape Ups, I changed to these. They were very comfortable to wear but I seem to have pulled a ligament in the right thigh making walking difficult, and my right hip is agonising and impossible to lie on in bed. Googling Shape Ups, it seems that masses of other people have experienced problems from wearing them, so, unfortunately, they will be consigned to the bin.

Resumed my usual Sunday trip to M & S and found some turquoise cropped trousers. These look great with lots of things and were only £16, so quite pleased with them. On the scales this morning I have lost 2lb, which is good after being away.

I spoke to Nibby this morning. She is coming back and arriving at Manchester in a few days. I was a bit concerned later to hear a report of volcanic ash disrupting Australian flights so hope Sidney is clear. Dear me, nothing is straightforward these days.

It has been very dull and raining on and off all day. The garden is looking almost tropically green, with the dreaded bamboo from next door as a backdrop. I must purchase some trellis to fix to the back wall. Then I can train a couple of passion flower plants against this. If I can find any. We shall see.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Back to Blighty

well, that's what it feels like.

Arrived back in pouring rain, met by community police, who helped unload the coach. Everyone managed to depart home without too much delay, despite relatives getting in the way while the coach was being unloaded. Some gossip from the coppers about a huge demo planned for 30 June - leave cancelled etc. etc. possible trouble from anarchists and Black Bloc. Sounded rather chic, so I said I might join. Misunderstanding where I was coming from, it was suggested that the riot police might get a bit nasty if I wore a balaclava so was not immediately identified as an old bat. Dear me, I was thinking of a black fascinator, or pillbox with a veil, long red nails and scarlet lipstick, Louboutins and a chic shift dress. Oh well, I don't suppose they would even notice who they were bashing over the head, judging by what we see in the press. I may stay at home and enjoy the violence on TV instead.

Anyway, the seaside weather was rather mixed, but stayed fine during outings to Rye and Brighton. In Rye, I found a sweet pair of old carved pink coral stud earrings which I had to purchase, and will go with my pink coral ring. I now need a pretty pink coral necklace. Or gold and coral. We shall see.

We inspected five new hotels, four in Brighton and one in Eastbourne, all possibilities for the future. Apart from that, and a couple of GP visits of a fairly non urgent nature, all was well and Romy and I managed to scour all the charity shops in Eastbourne, bringing home great bargain purchases.

Came back to a demanding Kook, who appears to have been well looked after by CDPOM in my absence . They even left a pint of milk for my return.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Today's the Day

I heard from Dorothy last night about some problems in Spain. I do hope I can sort this out when I get back from Eastbourne, and really hope I won't have to go back to Spain to do it.

Having put my calorie intake up to 1500 cals for the past week or two, and lost more weight than usual, I remembered something I heard from a slimming club years ago, which proposed that the body went into some kind of famine mode if you had too few calories, and burned them much more slowly, so a slight increase in calories can trigger a good weight loss. Within reason, obviously. This would appear to be true.

Not at all sure what to pack, so erring on the optimistic side as far as the weather is concerned. I shall water the plants well this morning. Kook is in hunting mode, and becoming very excited about cats in the street outside, and even a fly he has spied in the house which is bothering him by its continued existence.

Managed to use up the last of the fresh food, and will tidy up a bit more before my departure.

The E.coli scare is rather worrying. English salad seems to be OK so far, but I hear some gene has mutated in Germany to cause the very serious type of infection, which is a bit scary. Oh well, we shall see. I shall carry on nibbling at packets of radishes, which are very low in cals and quite filling if eaten by the packet.

Thor's Day

some quite good letters to The Times about the quality, or lack of, in caring, most saying that making a large private profit does not lie well with looking after people properly. As we have seen. A small state sector leads to large public problems. Never mind about Big Society. Lowest common denominator is more realistic.

Getting ready for the first holiday starting tomorrow. I only hope all will be well. Only one coach but nearly everyone using sticks, trolleys, etc. We shall see.

The weather could be problematic - though the forecast is hot until the end of Saturday, the temperature then appears to subside rapidly, so we can only pack jumpers and brollies and hope. I am always a bit nervous before these trips, though less worried about Kooky, who was well looked after last time. A couple more passion flowers have opened. I only hope they will not die off in the next week.

Horrible Abuse

I saw this on TV the other night. An undercover reporter had been sent to a private home which 'looked after' people with learning difficulties, autism and challenging behaviour. I suspect that what was shown was probably typical, rather than an exception. Apart from the terrible suffering of the victims, it must be appalling for the relatives to see their children tortured in this way. It reminded me of Abu Ghraib.

I remember in the mid 1960's a young friend obtained a job in a hospital for 'mental handicap'. She reported that the nurses taunted the patients, stole their money, promised them cigarettes for performing a task, then withheld the cigarettes. Apparently they dressed old ladies in mini-kilts and other clothes designed to make them look ridiculous, all for the amusement of the staff. My friend reported the abuse, all to no effect, and left immediately, despite the lack of jobs in the north-east at the time.

At the Bristol institution shown on TV, councils are apparently paying over £3,000 per week for the 'care ' of these people. At half of this rate , I imagine that plenty of people with a spare room or two would be happy to help, and engage closely overseen and well paid staff to do this job after undertaking thorough training. In fact the patients' families who had previously understandably failed to deal with challenging behaviour could be given much more help and provided with day staff. Oh well.