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Thursday, 28 February 2008

In the Interests of Accuracy

I have just noticed that the Nepalese bonnet I am wearing (I'm sure there must be a specific name for these hats, any offers?) in the post of the 1st. February is, in fact, Ruth's, not mine. It was the dark pigtails wot gave it away. At my age (but, not, annoyingly, at Ruth's) my pigtails are white. Hence any implied censure of the supposed "fashion accessory" is misplaced.

Not a criticism - just an observation.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Rant Corner

In the limited amount I’ve contributed to this blog so far, you may have noticed that there’s a fair degree of Grumpy Old Man whinging at some aspect of life. I don’t mean it to be like this. I just sit down at the keyboard intending to write calmly on one topic and then a sentence or two later I seem to be gripped by a rapidly accelerating Cresta Run career towards a blood vessel-bursting tirade about some aggravation I had been experiencing.

But this time it’s not going to happen.

It’s 11th. February and it’s a beautiful, sunny and warm Spring day. Spring? 11th. February? Warm? Oh! My God! It’s Global Warming! What I thought was a Good Thing™ (Sellar and Yeatman) is actually a Bad Thing© (Prophets of Doom Inc.) These sudden shifts in perception e.g. (1) the advantages of home birth over hospital delivery and back again, (2) red wine is good for you/bad for you, (3) Prozac improves your mood, Oh! No! it doesn’t! seem to be a given of Western culture. Scientifically-proven beliefs held for 20 years plus are suddenly overthrown by “research just published shows that”. What set my mind havering along this knife edge of doubt was a suspicion that, after a lifetime of drinking traditional draught beer, I may be allergic to it. At first I attributed my discomfort to those very rare occasions when I may have imbibed a little freely. Then I started feeling queasy after nights when I had drunk comparatively little but supposed I had “forgotten” some pints. Then I found that even when I knew for a fact ….

Fact (n.) Something you know for certain that you have done, only for someone close to or in authority over you, to prove for certain that you haven’t. Another example of a disproved fact is when you read, say, an academic text for the very first time, you turn the page to find highlighting and annotations in your own handwriting that you would have sworn on an entire print run of bibles (or other religious scriptures of choice) that you had never seen before.

…anyway, when I knew for a fact that I had only drunk two pints, I began to feel nauseous. This is potentially appalling news, capable of destroying my lifetime self-image. No beer? Ever again? A panic trawl through the dodgy information on the web about liver function was, entirely predictably, inconclusive. Never mind! Another 20 years and the received wisdom will be that livers are entirely nugatory organs and should routinely be removed at birth.

And another thing…

What’s really annoying about Word™ spellchecker is when it automatically “corrects” something mistyped to something wholly ludicrous or embarrassing without flagging it up and why, when you fairly invariably make the same mistake with a word you use commonly (mine is “construction”), it inserts a word almost entirely foreign to your habitual lexicon. There are many good things about Word™, but why doesn’t it learn?
And finally…

I’ll leave the relating of my experience in getting our Skype™ phones to work until I actually have got them to work.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Connecting with our pasts

John and I are now the oldest members (rememberers?) of our immediate family. We each have one aunt left of our parents' generation. This means that we are the keepers of whatever family history there is. We both realise that we never asked our parents enough questions about the past. Those bundles of old photos are mysterious and dumb and we can't translate the meaning of some of them.

We visited John's aunt and she gave John a photo of John's parents and of his grandfather. I have been entrusted with some old family photos but putting these fading fragile objects into a place where family members can access them and know what they are about isn't easy.

The top photo is of John's grandfather. The second is his aunt's weddding and includes his parents. The third is of my grandmother, great-grand-mother and great-great grandmother all of whom lived in King Williams Town in South Africa. The fourth is of John and his Aunt Gwen. All these have been uncovered because we are moving and things are changing and before one packs up - one searches and sorts out.

Packing up the past

Every time I move I swear that I will never do it again. I will not even walk out the front door in case I am tempted to look back and pick up a souvenir, instead I will climb out of the bedroom window at midnight, down a ladder and run away.
Of course this never happens.
Instead John and I 'go through our things'. John and I 'sort out our papers.
This is hopelessly inefficient.
John and I have just 'sorted out the garage'.
This means that I pull out those clumsy, falling apart cardboard boxes of unused art materials, old sketchbooks, letters and notes for my novel and find all the kids A level Art and letters home.
John finds a couple of mouldy old suitcases with family photos and brochures from old trips to the southern hempishere. We should probably have taken them unopened to the tip.
Instead we spend several evenings sorting through them, scanning important images onto the computer and eventually the empty suitcases sit outside by the bin and the repackaged photos and art wait in bundles on the living room floor for the packers next month. We are both hoarders and both chucker-outers but would possibly do a better and less sentimental job on each others personal baggage. Then again, perhaps we wouldn't. Memories however are precious and we have saved them probably till our wretched heirs have to file them in black bags after out funerals!
Such is life and - death?

Thursday, 14 February 2008

February 14

Two in Le Camping-Car
plan to travel far -
Life in a Campervan
- with any man -
must be a squeeze
Us, in the Mobilehome
Will never be alone
Even when we want some privacy.
But as its Valentine’s Day
Lets just rephrase it and say.
Love in Le Camping Car
Will go to the end of the road
Love in the Campervan
Will be cheery and beery with John
Love in the Mobilehome
May possibly get us both there and back.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

John's Poems for St. Valentine's Day

Lost Loves

I essayed to muse on lost loves in words poetic,
But all I could remember was some old prose.

Rose’s are Red

Rose’s are Red,
Willie’s are Pink.

But that’s enough about people's underwear,

I think.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Thank you for those Christmas Presents to equip the Motorhome

Here we are standing side by side courtesy of Photoshop at our camping kitchen in the lounge. We are each holding the wok which has cloned itself so that we can demonstrate how happily we will share all domestic chores in our home-on-wheels. John has his hand on the kelly kettle and I am holding a green plastic collapsible bucket. The camping kitchen unit was bought at Millets with Christmas gift tokens. Many thanks to our children for their sensible and generous prezzies. John as you can also see is seldom parted from his warm Nepalese bonnet - luckily I too have one but mine is not a fashion accessory like John's. I wear mine because the weather is freezing and the wind blows.

Yes - shopping for this trip is fun. We have studied the very useful 'Go Motorhoming Europe' by Melanie George and Chris Doree bought from Vicarious Books and on their recommendations visited . We also bought a portable mini washing machine made in China through from

Daunts Books at provided guides and maps. The Kelly Kettle or Storm Kettle came from The Eydon Kettle Co.

There is much more equipment to tell you about - and other people to thank.

Jonathan for example, who took the time and the trouble to show us around his motorhome and give as lots of advice and tips.