The Ides of Daisy March, continued

She turned her head away and another thought hit me. “Is it because I’ve been naughty and you don’t love me anymore? I know I went back to sleep again this morning and nearly made everyone late, and I spilt milk all down my pinafore yesterday and had to have another one, and I…”

“No. Stop, Daisy. It is because Mrs Gosling is your real mother. Don’t you remember that I told you the story about the little girl who had two mummies, and that I was the one who would have to give her back? I told you that you were that little girl, Daisy, you must remember.”

“But it was a story.” My voice came out shrill and jerky. “Please, please, don’t send me away. I love you.”

“Oh, Daisy, I love you too.” Her voice was funny as well. “But I have tried to prepare us both for this day. I knew it would be difficult, but…” her voice broke and I could see she was crying too. “Daisy, for all sorts of reasons, which she will tell you herself one day, Mrs Gosling, your real mother, couldn’t keep you. So she asked me, who she knew would love you and look after you, to have you until you could go and live with her. And we have been happy, haven’t we?”

I nodded dumbly. “But I want to go on being happy with you. I don’t want to go and live with her. She is not  my mother, you are. I know you are.”

MumMarch bent down and pulled me onto her lap. This was unusual enough in itself for me to suddenly know with certainty that I was leaving her, and I could not control the howl of pain that emerged. She cuddled me closely while sobs racked my body and when they finally abated as sheer exhaustion took over, she mopped my face with her big hankie. I became aware of the boys anxious faces peering round the door, but MumMarch must have shaken her head at them as they disappeared and the door clicked shut.

I looked up at her worried face and realised that she was crying too. “I thought you loved me. I am your best girl. You can’t send me away,” I gulped, the tears welling up again.

She set me down on the floor again, and my legs were so wobbly that I sank to my knees in front of her. I put my head in her lap, still warm from holding my small body, and felt her stroking my hair.

“Daisy, I do love you. I will always love you. But so does Mrs Gosling. And it has been very difficult for her not being able to live with you. She has worked hard to make a home for you both, and she is looking forward to you both being happy together. You are a kind girl and you must not disappoint or upset her. You must play a pretend game of being very pleased to be going to live with her, and then the pretend will start to be real.”

I thought about that. I knew about pretend games, we played them all the time. Sometimes I was a pretend princess, which I liked a lot. Though once Alfie was a pretend pirate and had captured me and tied me to a real tree, and then gone off and forgotten me. MumMarch said if Georgie hadn’t remembered me I would have caught my death of cold and she was quite cross with my brothers. But I knew I would be rescued and thought it was all very exciting. The memory of it caused a tremulous smile to cross my face, and MumMarch gave a sigh of relief.

“Now, Daisy, we are going to leave the boys to wash up the tea things, and we are going to pack up your things and put them in my carpet bag, which you can take with you.”

MumMarch knew that I loved her big carpet bag which was red and covered with pink roses. When I was very tiny, and we were playing hide and seek one Christmas, I hid in it and no-one found me for ages and ages. After that, I would often creep inside it and it became my magic place. Once inside its dark and comfortable embrace, when it was winter I would dream of running in the fields in the sun, and when it was summer, I dreamt of snow and skidding round with the boys on the icy lake. I was much too big to get inside it now, of course, but I knew it still held my dreams.

“Can I really take it with me? And keep it until I can come back and see you?”

“You can keep it forever, Daisy, I am giving it to you.”

That wasn’t quite the reassuring answer I was hoping for, but I was still excited by the gift, and I hopped up the staircase in front of Mum March and waited while she fetched it from her bedroom.

“Can I take Percy?” Percy was my cuddly pink rabbit who always came to bed with me.  He had lived with me for as long as I could remember, and life without him was unthinkable.

“Of course you can.”

“And every time I come home, I will put him and all my things in it.” We both heard the wobble in my voice as we started to fold up my clothes and lay them in the bag. It didn’t take very long as my wardrobe was adequate but definitely not extravagant. When my clothes were in, I reached into the small book case sitting under the window that Father had made for me before he left us.

“Oh, we should have put your books in first. How silly of me.”  MumMarch had a wobble in her voice too.

We carefully took out my folded clothes and lay them next to Percy and then piled the books into the bottom of the bag. Finally, everything was back again and MumMarch placed the bag, unfastened as Percy would not go in until the morning, by the empty book case. I think it was the sight of that looking so bare and forlorn, that brought the reality of the situation back to me.

“Please, please, don’t make me go?” It was a question, an entreaty, but I already understood that it would make no difference.

At that moment Georgie’s head came round the door. “Are you finished? You must come downstairs, Daisy, Alfie and me have got something for you.”

Downstairs, Alfie was standing in front of the fire. He had emptied out the old coal scuttle and stood with it on his head, black smears running down his face. He carried MumMarch’s mop in front to him. MumMarch started to say something, but before she could, Georgie plonked MumMarch’s peg-bag on his head, and picking up a saucepan lid and the rolling pin, went and stood beside Alfie and announced in a loud voice: “The March brothers will now give a farewell concert in honour of Miss Daisy March.”

They had pushed the armchair into the middle of the room, and MumMarch sat in it and pulled me onto her lap. Georgie banged the lid loudly, and Alfie began to march round in circles, singing KKKKaty, which was one of the popular songs of the time, only he had changed it to DDDDaisy, and every time he got to that, both the boys saluted me, which made me giggle. By the time they got to the end, my tummy was hurting with laughing so much.

Both the boys had lovely voices, and next they sang It’s a long way to Tiperary, and they knew all the words. When they got to the end, they put back down the mop and the rolling pin and came and grasped my hands and swung me off MumMarch’s lap. Then round and round the room we went, all singing Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag. When we got to the smiling bit, they tickled me until I had to beg them to stop. And finally they did, and my concert was over. We fell, exhausted, onto the chairs, all laughing and still singing bits of the songs.

“That was lovely,” laughed MumMarch. “Thank you, boys.”

“Yes,” I said between latent attacks of hilarity, “Thank you.” And I felt my laughter subside, as I looked at them both and I said solemnly, “I shall never, ever forget my concert.”

And I never have.

The Ides of Daisy March

This is the first few paragraphs of my new novel.

 February, 1916

I was five years old when my mother told me that she was not my mother. I had, or rather I thought I had, two older brothers, Alfred and George. Otherwise known as Alfie and Georgie. They were the joy of my life, playing silly games with me, teasing me, always making me laugh. I loved them. I was always a bit puzzled because they called our mother Mum and I always called her MumMarch. But our surname was March, so I thought, if I thought about it at all, that I was allowed to call her by a special name because I was the girl in the family. Privileged.

Talking of privilege, a very Posh Lady used to come and see us sometimes. MumMarch would dress me in my best white lacy frock, and brush my shoes and my hair until they shone. The Posh Lady, (as we children called her) would stay in her carriage and MumMarch would take me out to her. The door opened at our approach, as if by magic, and I climbed  inside and sat opposite her. The carriage was quite dark and she always wore dark clothes, so she was a shadowy figure to me. Once I was seated, The Posh Lady would tell the driver to go on by banging on the small window behind her seat.

We drove around for what seemed like ages, the carriage swaying gently. To the background music of the horse’s hooves she asked me questions about what I had been doing since her last visit, and I would do my best to answer. The highlights of my life were playing with my brothers, when they came home from school, and helping MumMarch in the kitchen. Young as I was, I didn’t think that being allowed to scrape the cake mixture from the bowl and lick the wooden spoon was quite what The Posh Lady wanted to hear. So I rapidly ran out of conversation.

At this point in our meetings, she would invariably ask whether I had learnt to read some of the books she had left for me on her previous visits. I had always read them, because I liked reading. I don’t remember learning, I just always did it. I used to read them to my brothers, although I was by far the youngest, because neither of them could read as well as me. I thought that was probably why The Posh Lady took me out and not them. On the day I found out that my mother was not my mother I had just finished reading The Secret Garden. At the beginning I felt sorry for Mary because she was an orphan, but by the end I wanted to be her. So I told The Posh Lady that.

When she dropped me back home, she did something she had never done before. She kissed me. On the forehead. In all our meetings she had never touched me before.

Then she said: “I will be seeing you again tomorrow, Daisy. You must make sure you are ready when I come for you.”

I nodded and jumped out of the carriage, disappointed that she had not given me another book, but then I thought that if she was coming again tomorrow, she might bring me one then.

When I got indoors, MumMarch was waiting for me. The boys didn’t ever start their tea till I got home and they were already at the table, waiting. Usually the kitchen would be full of chatter about what they had done at school that day but today it was unusually quiet.

MumMarch sent me upstairs to change out of my lacy dress and put my pinafore on which I did really quickly because all the buttons were at the front. When I came down, MumMarch had cut up a whole loaf of bread and Alfie was toasting slices in front of the fire.

“Dripping toast, Daisy. Your favourite. Special treat.” MumMarch sounded funny, not quite like herself.

Georgie, who was older than Alfie by a whole year and was nearly nine, held out his arms to me. “Come on, shrimp, you can sit on my lap while the toast is doing.”

This was a very special treat, usually reserved for when I fell over or was upset about something, so, giggling, I skipped across the room and launched myself onto his lap before he could change his mind. He pretended my weight had knocked him over and fell back in the chair, but he still held on to me tightly, which made me laugh even more.

MumMarch began to put the dripping on the hot slices of toast. “Put her down, Georgie. Time for tea.”

I climbed down reluctantly and slid onto my own chair. The warm toast with the rich dripping soaking into it tasted as good as it smelt. For several minutes we all concentrated on munching away. Alfie was constantly replacing the bread on the long toasting fork while eating his own, still squatting  by the fire with his face flushed from the heat.. Finally the last piece was consumed and MumMarch refilled our mugs with milk. This was the bit of the day I always enjoyed, when the kitchen was warm and cosy and we were all together and comfortably full of food. Sometimes one of the boys would sing a song, or recite a poem they had learned at school, so that when I was old enough to go I would know what sort of thing to expect. I would be old enough to go to school with them next term which I was very excited about.

MumMarch said it was our special ‘together time’. Today, Georgie had learnt a song about a boy called Danny, and he sang it for us. It was quite a mournful tune. MumMarch had her sad face on when he sang it, like those times when she read us a letter from Father, who was at the war. I did not really understand where or what the war was, but Georgie said Father was very brave, and was fighting for us all. He said Father was especially brave, as he hadn’t had to go but had volunteered. MumMarch had a slightly cross face on when Georgie said that, and I sometimes thought she would rather that he had stayed at home.

I didn’t really remember Father at all, as I was very small when he went away, and the boys said he used to work for The Posh Lady so he wasn’t home much even when he was not at the war. MumMarch says he would have lost his job anyway as all the posh people have been asked to let their servants go to fight in the war.

“When I am old enough, I shall go to the war,” said Alfie, and he mimed holding a big gun. “Bang, bang, you’re dead,” he shouted, aiming his pretend gun at Georgie.

Joining in the fun, Georgie clutched at his arm and pretended to fall over dead.

“That’s enough, boys. Calm down. I want to talk to Daisy. If you’ve finished your tea, go and play outside, you can help clear up later.” MumMarch sounded strange, not quite like herself, and I suddenly felt anxious about what she was going to tell me.

She waited until the boys had gone, then she sat in the big chair by the fire. She usually only did that when she was knitting or mending things at night, so I knew this was important.

“Come and sit here, Daisy.” She motioned to the footstool at her feet.

I sat down on it, and looked up at her. I was shocked to see she had tears on her cheeks. She brushed them away, and then smiled at me, and bent and stroked my hair.

“Daisy, something terribly exciting is going to happen tomorrow, but it might seem a little bit strange at first, so you are going to have to be very brave and not make a fuss.”

I looked up at her indignantly. “I never make a fuss.”

She laughed. “No, you don’t. You are my very good girl. That is why I am pleased for you, because tomorrow you are going to live with Mrs Gosling, and you will have lots of things, and lots of opportunities, that I cannot give you. You are a lucky girl, who is going to have a lovely life.”

I stared up at her, uncomprehending. Mrs Gosling was The Posh Lady. “But you’ll be coming too? And Georgie and Alfie?”

“No. Daisy. They will be staying here with me. But I hope you will be able to come back and see us sometimes.”

In spite of the warmth of the fire, the horror seeped into my head and body like cold mud. I began to shiver. I could hear my voice coming out all squeaky, like it belonged to someone else. “But I can’t go and live anywhere else, MumMarch. That’s silly.”

To be continued.

Rocket Science?

Now, my obsession with my new novel conitnues unabated and as it has now whizzed past 50,000 words I may come up for air soon. Indeed, i am thinking that I might do what one or two of you have suggested and publish some of it on this blog. But I would like to be sure that it is not rubbish first. Talking of which, my mad husnand wrote this piece and has. given me permission to post it here with apologies to Major Tim Peake!

 

What if it is Rocket Science?

Many of us have been peering skywards in recent nights, necks craned, mouths open, enjoying the close proximity of the International Space Station.

   A lot of people, being aware of my reputation as a rocket scientist, have asked me questions about the Space Station. I would be happy to take care of those now – after all, it’s not rocket science. Sorry – yes it is.

   Sally asked me how the Space Station managed to have the light flashing at five second intervals, towards the watching Earthlings. I know that we saw ‘The Martian’ together, so she should have realised that it was Matt Damon flashing his torch out of the porthole. Sally said, “won’t he get tired after a while?” My God, do I have to explain everything?

   Of course he couldn’t do it all the time – he only flashes the torch when he sees someone looking up.

   “Has he got anyone else with him?” she asked.

   “Yes,” I said patiently. “Sandra Bullock’s up there as well.” Then, noticing Sally’s sceptical look. “She’s not much at the science bit, but she does look very good in a space suit.”

   Ever since Neil Diamond took his first tentative steps on the moon and uttered the immortal words: “One small step for man and one slightly larger step for someone else – damn it, I’ve dropped my notes.”I have been a fan of space exploration.

   Of course, what not many people know is what his friend and fellow space pioneer, Buzz Lightyear said. It was: “Have you ever seen Sandra Bullock in a space suit, Neil?”

   I still can’t believe the fact that NASA designated their third moon mission, Apollo 13! Of all people, the Americans know that thirteen is unlucky. If you have spent any time in the States you will have noticed that in their high rise buildings, there is no thirteenth floor. They go from twelve straight to fourteen. So what happened when they were numbering the Apollo Missions? Was it the NASA Astrologer’s day off?

   It’s no wonder that Tom Hanks still walks a bit strangely.

 

I’ll Never Forget Wotsisname

I am still bashing away at every spare moment on my new novel, working title The Life of Daisy March,  totally obsessed by it. But, as many of you know, our spare moments are few and far between as we have  commitments we would not want to neglect. So, another treat on this blog! I have persuaded Ro to let me publish this piece of his here, as I thought it was both funny and perceptive -I hope you do, too.

 

I’ve borrowed that title from someone else, though I can’t remember who, or for what.

   How many amongst us can claim that they have never laboured up the stairs and arriving at the bedroom, wondered what the hell they came up there for?

   Hoping for inspiration, I cast around the room. Did I come up here to change my clothes? No, we’re just about to walk the dogs, so sartorial elegance is not required. Have I come for something I forgot to take down earlier? If so, I’ve forgotten it again. In desperation, confident of my wife’s powers of total recall, I risk losing my last vestige of credibility and call down the stairs. “Darling, do you have any idea why I came up here?”

   Her voice floats up to me. “Sorry, who are you?”

   As a last resort I go back down stairs and reintroduce myself. Soon, she remembers who I am.

   “You really ought to do something about your memory,” she tells me. This from the woman who walked past her own son in the street and didn’t recognise him.

   I am an avid supporter of the ‘Memory Bank Theory.’ This states that, ‘A person over the age of sixty is a bit like a computer whose memory bank is nearly full.’ What this means is that when you request a document on an aging computer, it has thousands of documents to scan before it can find the target. Same thing with our personal brain memory banks. To access something, even if it quite well known to us, it takes time to scan through all that has happened to us in our entire lifetime.

   Problem is, if I go upstairs to get something, why should it be necessary for my brain to read my entire autobiography, in order for me to remember what I knew perfectly well ten seconds before?

   Of course the main problem, as most of my contemporaries will be aware, is the embarrassment. Not many months ago I drove into Westfield, which is about three and a half miles away from us, to pick up a prescription. Having done this, I knew there was one item I needed to collect in the village shop. Only problem was, having got in there, I didn’t have the vaguest idea what it was. Now, if the shop had been full, that would have been fine; I could have sidled out again shielded behind a handy large shopper. But, I was the only person in there. After five minutes of wandering up and down the aisles hoping for inspiration, I was worried that the young lady behind the counter might conclude that I was waiting for her to turn away so that I could nick a Curley Wurley or similar. Eventually, I was forced to appeal to her better nature.

   “Have you any idea what I’m doing here?” I ventured.

   I was rewarded for my honesty by a huge grin. “I knew that you’d forgotten what you came in for.” She comforted me.

  “You mean I’ve been in here before?” I asked.

    Thus reassured, I told her “Worse than that, “I don’t even know if I’ve forgotten what I wanted in the right shop.” When inspiration refused to come to my aid, we parted friends after I had given promises about writing down my future needs. I don’t suppose I need to tell you that the moment I drove into our gates, I remembered what I had gone out for.

   For a reason that now eludes me, I have always been in charge of programming the TV recordings when we go out. The usual scenario is that Sally looks through the Radio Times whilst we are enjoying our post dog walking coffee. She then tells me what she wants recorded and hands me the programme guide whilst I switch on the set. By which time, I’ve forgotten what she said. Instead of just admitting that my brain is on holiday today, or I banged my head whilst making the coffee and am suffering from temporary amnesia; I, of course, scan through the forthcoming programmes and try to guess what she would want to record. Naturally, I fail miserably. Now, I’ve got to get out of this.

   “I notice there are no programmes about dogs on tonight,” I hazard.

   “No, there aren’t,” she says, which is no bloody help at all.

   “I wonder when, ‘Britain’s Got Talent,’ is back? I venture.

   “In the autumn, I think. Why don’t you just record what I asked for?” says the Beloved.

     Saved by my almost legendary speed of thought, I ask; “What time did you say it was on?”

   She takes back the Radio Times and looks through it again. After a time interval of about three minutes, I begin to see a shaft of light break through the dark clouds of my tattered reputation.

   I’m safe – she’s forgotten as well.

 

A letter from Ro

I am definitely falling by the wayside with this blog,so I will confess at this point that I have started writing a new novel and am currently obsessed with it. I don’t get a lot of time to write with our many commitments, so every time I have a few minutes I am bashing away at it. It is at a mere 10,000 words a the minute, so way to go. But Ro sent me this today and I thought one or two other people might be amused, and he has agreed to stand in on the blog for me for now.

Dear Chuka Umunna,

I am not one of your constituents, but a long term member of the Labour Party who, like you, is very concerned about its future. I do not see Jeremy Corbett as the new messiah; I think he may be just ‘a very naughty boy,’ who probably means well but is terminally naive.

   The point is that he has about as much chance of winning the next general election, as a one legged tap dancer has of winning, ‘Britain’s got Talent.’ Where was J.C. when the Tories left an open goal after the resignation of I.D.S.?  Probably busy turning water into wine somewhere.

    With the total exposure of our beloved Chancellor’s ‘Bash the Poor Some More,’ policy the Labour Party ought to be leading the call for Osborne’s resignation. After all, his only economic and financial qualification is that most of his friends own banks.

   Everyone understands that you dropped out of the leadership contest to protect your family against media intrusion, but would they not concede that England, not to mention the Labour Party, needs you?

   So come on, Chuka, step up to the plate and, at very least, show our leader how to lead. 

Yours sincerely,

Ro Gardner.

 

Serendipitty and Sherlock!

Now, I don’t know about you, but I am already at screaming pitch with the Euro arguments. I think we should stay in, right? That’s it. I’ve probably heard all the arguments already and I know any discussion is most likely to be a waste of time even if it avoids being acrimonious. So, as this blog has always reserved the right to talk about anything from childhood memories to politics, this is something different again. As most of you know Ro is a writer of pithy and often funny stuff, and I loved his latest offering, so that is what I am publishing here today. Enjoy!

The Strange Case of the One Legged Tap Dancer.

Mrs Hudson had been incapacitated by an unfortunate accident. Sherlock Holmes, her master, had warned her about using her iphone whilst skateboarding, so it served her right really. Consequently, it was the great detective himself who leapt to his feet to answer the knock at his door. There was revealed a young lady, who was obviously in a state of great distress.

      “Are you Sherlock Holmes, the great defective?” she enquired.

      “Well,” replied Holmes,” “my friends call me Shirley, but how did you discover my name?”

   “The two feet square brass plate on your door was a help – and by the way, I think you have employed a dyslexic sign writer.”

 “I hadn’t noticed” observed Holmes.

 “Please don’t think me impertinent, Mr Holmes,” said the young lady, noticing that the detective was walking rather strangely, “but is that a violin stuck down your trousers,” and she looked away coyly, “or are you pleased to see me?”

 “How dare you Madam!” said Holmes sternly. “That’s where I keep my Stradivarius.”

 “Well, I’ve heard it called various things, but never that.” said she.

 “Now, down to business, young lady. I perceive that you are twenty-seven years old, and of the Welsh   persuasion.”                                                                                                                                                                                      “How could you possibly know that?” said the girl. Was it my accent?”

     “That and the trench foot,” admitted Holmes.

     “But how did you know my age?” asked the young lady.

     “You are wearing a badge that says, ‘Happy twenty-seventh birthday,’ confided Holmes. “And I also notice that you have a third cousin, twice removed, whose name is, ‘Bronwyn Michwellie, who lives in the basement flat of a disused coal mine. She has a Great Uncle who limps slightly on his left leg, as a result of an assegai wound to his posterior, sustained whilst retreating from the Zulu King, Wossamatta. I also perceive that he is a lapsed member of the Episcopalian branch of the Church of the Seventh Day Morris Dancers. That’s your uncle, not the Zulu King,” he added. 

   “How could you possibly know all that?”asked the young lady.

   “Just a lucky guess,” said Holmes. “However, I notice that on the second finger of your left hand, you have a broken finger nail; which tells me that you would like me to find your husband, who ran off with a transgender Jehovah’s Witness on Thursday of last week. Am I right?”

   The young lady turned to Holmes and fluttered her eyelashes – one of which detached itself and fluttered to the floor. Everyone pretended not to notice.

   “No, Mr Holmes. I just moved in next door and wondered if I could borrow a cup of sugar?”

   “Of course you can, my dear young lady, but, there’s one thing that still puzzles me,” and he tugged absent mindedly at his deerstalker,” what happened to your Welsh accent?”

   “Well actually Mr Holmes, I said that I’m from Wells, not Wales.”

    At that moment, Watson, who could never keep his grubby hands off other people’s property, picked up a paperweight from Holmes desk. Holding it up to the light, Watson said, “What sort of rock is this, Holmes?”

    Holmes, turned to Watson, and observed, “Sedimentary, my dear Watson, Sedimentary.” Thus instigating a myth that would last for more than one hundred years.

 

 

Opposition? What oposition?

I think the 60 mph winds tearing round the cottage are having a depressive effect on me. Walking the dogs this morning was a nightmare. When I was a kid living in our small hotel in Brighton  gales blew in the cupola at the top of the regency house one awful day. I was high on the stairs but can remember ducking back as the lethal shards of broken glass flailed past to land in the hallway below. Fortunately no-one was hurt, though my mum had a very narrow escape. I think I have been a bit phobic about winds ever since. Anyway, for whatever reason, I am feeling very grumpy, so I thought I’d have a moan.

When is the Labour Party going to regroup under their elected leader and become Her Majesties Opposition? When is their elected leader going to make this happen? At the moment, the Tories are riding rough shod over all hope of any kind of social equality. The Labour Party appears to be either split or totally ineffective over everything, from welfare cuts to prison reform to education. Where are the opposition voices protesting at government interference at every level from state school curriculums to benefit cuts? Why is the Party not uniting with other bodies in the House to stop this headlong rush into right wing ideals? After all, the Tories only have a very small overall majority.

Is this Euro referendum going to be used as a smoke screen as some of their more outlandish policies are pushed through?  For instance, Tom Watson has been a strong voice protesting at the proposed changes to the Freedom of Information act, but where is your voice, Mr. Corbyn?

Which brings me to another grouch. It is fashionable at the minute amongst Labour Party supporters (many of whom have only just discovered our party) to describe anyone who does not think Corbyn is making a good fist as leader, as ‘closet Tories’. That is supposed to put us down and shut us up. Is free speech another casualty of JC’s party?

I recently found myself in the middle of a storm that I could barely get my head round when I stated that, having once been a uni-laterist and a member of CND, I was now a multi-laterist. I felt that, given that so many countries now had this terrible power, our best chance of stopping its use was to hold it ourselves. After all, we have the example of what happened in Ukraine when they decided to give up their nuclear capacity. It didn’t take Putin long to move in, did it? So I believe we must eventually all destroy all these weapons, and this is what we should work towards.

I criticised our leader for effectively nullifying our capacity to negotiate by declaring that he would never use it. I was unprepared for the spate of emails etc accusing me of wanting to press the button and giving me their vision of a post-nuclear world. As if only they were aware of this Armageddon! I wish!

So is it a sin now to disagree with our leader? Then God help us all. But I shall continue, in my own small way, to press for the return of an effectual opposition. I welcome your comments, however negative!!    Sally

 

The day the boiler died (continued!)

 

  As you will see, I am a lousy poet, but every now and again, I am moved to break out in doggerel – hence the following ditty!  

The New Year started sad and cold

Our boiler, tho not very old,

Creaked and croaked and then it sighed:

‘Sorry, folks’, and down it died.

 

The next day came the boiler man

‘Can you mend it?’ ‘Yes, I can!’

Mud in kitchen, cups of tea

But – ‘There it goes!’ eventually.

 

As Zak departed in his van

Warmth and comfort then began

But– oh, no! – within the hour

Another croak– and loss of power!

 

We pressed the button and the switch

Convinced it must be just a glitch

Then finally we called on Zak

Oh, please, please, Zak – come back!

 

And so he does – and finds a leak.

All must shut down while the source they seek.

Now here comes Phil, out of the night,

To mend and make it work alright.

 

But even Phil admits defeat

The boiler glowers – and still no heat

And so we call again to Zak:

Oh, Zak, Zak, please come back!

 

But no, our frozen cries did fall

On icy silence – no Zak at all!

Was he in heaven or was he in hell?

With men from the gas you never can tell.

 

So – back to the call centre from whence he came

Hanna, Saheb, Errol and James,

All were trying their very best

But the weather was cold and the market depressed.

 

Not a gas man was found – or not one that would come –

We got colder and colder and the dogs got more glum.

And the cats made it clear (as only cats can)

That this should have finished before it began!

 

We boiled water in kettles and hoped we were clean

And wore several layers till we could hardly be seen

But the week seemed so long and we were so cold

And the hopeful young year already felt old.

 

Hanna, Saheb, Errol and James

Were now so familiar we knew all their names,

I think without doubt they were feeling our pain

As we rang and harassed them again and again!

 

Then – out of the blue and for no reason we know:

     The Great God of Boilers decided to show!

 

The house became warm and the shower scorching hot

No–one can tell us why it all went to pot.

We’re happy and clean, so we don’t give a damn

And – we no longer need you – Zak, the gas man!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A sad (and on-going) saga!

Our gas boiler stopped working on Tuesday. You have to understand that in our small cottage, the boiler is our only source of heat and hot water, apart from a small gas fire in the sitting room. So, after fiddling with the controls and going through all the usual stuff (swearing at it, etc) we phoned the emergency line of our insurance company. At the other end of the line, Hannah was sympathetic and helpful, but failed to find an engineer who would come out as it was after 6pm. So we shivered our way through the evening, fighting our dogs and cats for space near the gas fire. On the whole, they won this battle. Of course.

 

Wednesday afternoon, and Zak, a charming and obviously efficient engineer appeared. He spent considerable time doing what were to me quite unidentifiable things to our boiler before it kicked back into life. Hurrah!! Warmth and hot water. Life back to normal again. But then, a couple of hours later, an ominous silence from the kitchen heralded that the boiler, (beginning to assume a malevolent presence by now) had shut down again.

 

We phoned the insurance company. Again. Several times. Thursday morning Zak was eventually tracked down and returned that afternoon. Horror of horrors, he found a gas leak. So the gas was shut off, and now even the tiny fire was no more. Phil, from whoever deals with gas leaks, came later in the evening. Another helpful chap, though we could have done without the warning that it might be a leak in our pipes and the garden would have to be dug up. However, this proved to be unnecessary, as the leak was traced and dealt with, and the sitting room fire was soon glowing merrily again.

 

Then he went to put the boiler on. Yes, you’ve guessed. In spite of all his efforts, Boiler said ‘No’. Please notice that Boiler now merits a capital letter. So there we were again, 3 dogs, 2 cats and us huddled round a very tiny fire. Erroll, from the insurance company, was very helpful but failed to raise an engineer.

 

Friday morning saw Saheb from the insurance company (I could be getting the names mixed up by now, so if any of you nice people on the other end of the phone read this, forgive me. And also, could you please inform whoever put that music on the phone that it is designed to make anyone trying to cope with an emergency suicidal? Thanks.)

 

Sorry about that diversion. Where was I? Oh yes. You have to understand that my brain is in deep freeze mode now, so I ask for your understanding. Saheb spent several hours trying to track down Zak, or, for that matter, any engineer. There is obviously a nation-wide shortage of gas engineers.

 

It is Saturday now. We are touched by the number of people who have offered us hospitality and, even more, the use of their showers. But we don’t like to be out for long in case the miracle happens and Hannah, or Errol or Saheb or someone phones and tells us that an engineer is on his way out to us. Ok, so that is probably a fantasy. But what is life without hope? Meanwhile, Boiler continues to glower silently in his corner. And 15 year old Bengie the Sprocker shivers theatrically and reproachfully. And we pile on yet another layer. And have you seen the weather forecast? Sadly, so have we.

 

 

 

Happy Christmas!

I have been a bit out of action the last few weeks. As I mentioned a while ago, the dreaded Lyme Disease struck again with some force this summer and although I could not adequately praise the treatment I have had from the NHS, especially from my wonderful cardiologist, it has occasionally been a struggle to keep ‘business as usual’. But I am hopefully fighting my way back, if not to full health, to more normal energy levels and will soon stop falling asleep over the keyboard.

I wanted to blog something on this site, if only to prove I am still alive. So, on this Christmas Eve, I don’t think I can do better than to wish everyone a healthy and happy Christmas and to hope and pray for a more peaceful New Year for our world.

God and my body willing, I shall be back writing again very soon, as I have lots and lots of stuff that is making me very angry and frustrated and it helps to share it, whether or not you agree!

So for now, have a great Christmas and, to quote one of my favourite writers, God bless us, every one!   Sally

PS Several of you have asked to know more about Lyme Disease. There is, of course, a page about it on this site, but if you have any question you think I might be able to answer, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.