Mainly About Reading, and Some Work

A quick post tonight to keep up with the challenge. I still have some work to finish, and the washing up will not take care of itself.

We had our poetry group meeting in the library. It could be a play. One of the members is very definitely on the autistic spectrum, and tonight he was on speed dial. Celia was placating and calming with regular interjections of “Right, right” delivered in a firm but calming tone. I think he might have had a caffeine boost or similar this afternoon, but last month he was much more connected.

Viv was mildly subversive, and made me think she was probably quite naughty at school in ways she could get away with.

It was fun. I picked a few Simon Armitage volumes at random from the library shelves. One, Seeing Stars, turned out not to be poetry, but short stories and monologues. The first I looked at began:

During the summer of 1996 I was working as a Tattooist-in-Residence on a reclaimed slagheap in the South Pennines.

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Poems for My Mum, Heroic Women and a Brattish Cat

Celia came for coffee this morning and stayed for lunch. That was, I hasten to add, at my invitation and I was delighted she accepted.

She came to read poetry.

Today, Mother would have been 95. I have emailed people to ask them to celebrate her life by reading a poem aloud to someone else, to enjoy some shared reading, just as she and I did. I’ve had some lovely responses. Now it’s time to ask you.

It doesn’t have to be today; spin in out – make December the shared reading month, or 2015 the shared reading year – it may be decades since you sat back and listened to someone read to you, or maybe it’s something you do every day. For many of us, it’s something associated with childhood, something we don’t do with other adults. Yet for something so simple, it is immensely powerful and helps us to connect with each other.

I think this  photo is from the day I started taking reading aloud to my mother seriously. I flipped back through the posts on this blog, and found what I had written. If you are curious, click here, and you can read it too.

Mum 2nd June 2010

Mum 2nd June 2010


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Hyperbolic Heights and Ginger Genius

The first two reviews in writing of the 2015 Ginger Ninja Calendar came from recipients in Belfast. First up, Uncle Bill, retired professional photographer:

Some lovely pictures of your splendid cat, but September 2014 is my all time favourite!

This is the one he’s talking about, probably not my boy’s Finest Moment. But it’s Uncle Bill’s wife who requested the calendar, so fair enough. P1120185 Next, Kate, Aunt in Belfast’s carer:

I received your gorgeous calendar yesterday.

Obviously I was purring nearly as much as MasterB by this time. Aunt rang to say how pleased she was with her copy, and confided she has kept the 2011, 2012 and 2013 versions too, and enjoys looking at them. Continue reading

Saying Thank-You

The motto of Guy’s Hospital near London Bridge is Dare Quam Accipere – It is Better to Give than to Receive. At a future date I might get around to explaining how Guy’s, and that motto, came about, but right now I want to talk about how, the other day, I had the chance to put the motto into sort of practice at another hospital in the trust – St Thomas’.

I was discharged from Tommy’s a while back. It started with my broken wrist, and the wonderful folk in A&E;  post surgery, I met the equally wonderful team at the fracture clinic; when they were done with me, I moved on to hand therapy.

My wrist continues to improve, though the cold weather, as the physiotherapist warned me, has brought new aches. Still, it’s an amazing outcome when you look at my x-rays.

So I wrote cards and bought fancy biscuits and headed back to the hospital. At A&E, I was hardly through the door before someone looked up and asked if they could help me. When I explained my mission and handed over card and biscuits, her stunned expression told me how rarely patients make that return journey to this department to thank the staff for their care at a critical moment.

It was a similar story in the fracture clinic. Hand therapy seemed more familiar with the idea, which made me reflect on how that was the only department of the three where I had an idea of when I would be discharged.

I left and walked onto Westminster Bridge filled with a warm fuzzy glow. On the bridge, I met these folk:

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Calendars for Sale

I have a few calendars still for sale. Three have crossed the pond and been received safely, a fourth is on its way. Two are in Belfast; one in Suffolk; ten have been reserved and will be handed over soon; six will have homes  locally. Not sure that makes MasterB a global superstar just yet, but he’s working on it.

The feedback so far has been great. Here’s what Pix had to say:

CH just walked in with Master B’s calendar! Love it! Thank you Isobel!!!

So to remind you, in case you are hesitating, this is what the cover looks like:

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Of Autumn, Boot Cleaning, Strawberry Tree Fruit and Filing

I didn’t get as far as St James’ Park today, but I was in the garden. It’s autumn there too.

I went out to scrape the mud from my boots. Mud from the moat at the Tower of London. They are not my best boots, and I was planning to get rid of them, but after being at the Tower, I thought I might use them for wet and cold days in town. So I was a bit put out to find the sole was coming away on one of them.

I took my camera out too. I was hoping MasterB would come with me, and I might get a picture of him on the same lines as the one I included in the calendar when I was cleaning  another pair of boots; my second best ones. I have three pairs of boots of varying vintage, comfort and waterproofness. My best ones are brown leather, currently cleaned and polished so they look like shiny conkers. Cleaning walking boots is somehow very satisfying. Meditative too. I find myself reliving  the walk where they got dirty; wondering if a future archaeologist will come across some mud that does not fit with this part of the UK, and come up with a theory as to why it is here; thinking about other walks I should like to do.

But I digress.

MasterB had gone back to bed. We had played extensively indoors, he had been out and about after breakfast, and we had played again when he came in. He lost his favourite mouse, a gift from the Lovely Ex-Neighbours. I thought it was under the fridge, but no amount of swishing about with the fly swat brought it to light.

Unusually, there was no sign of Cookie outside either, though an hour or so ago she followed me round to a neighbour’s house where I had something to deliver. So my pictures are minus felines. And minus sun. Today was damp and dull.

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A Dickens of a Farrago

This morning, as is my habit, I scanned the email I receive daily from the Guardian media group that gives me details of the top stories. One headline caught my eye: a shadow cabinet minister had resigned because of a tweet she had sent during the Rochester by-election. Ed Milliband, her party leader was said to have been furious, or some similar adjective, about the tweet. Rochester is a city of two halves, and one where people will shortly be donning bonnets, shawls and loud waistcoats for the annual Dickensian Christmas festival. I clicked, wondering idly if she had called Nigel Farage a farrago, or some such thing, and saw a picture of a house where someone’s idea of exterior decoration appeared to be flags over the windows. St George’s flags. St George being the patron saint of England. Actually he’s the patron saint of various other places too, including Barcelona, but excluding Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so a pretty strange flag for a supporter of a party purporting to stand for the whole of the UK to display. She’d tagged it Image from #Rochester. That was it. Yet apparently some people, including members of her own party, thought it “derogatory and dismissive of the people”. Others have accused her of snobbery. It’s the sort of picture I might take myself. Continue reading

Poppy Dismantling

Pix at her Tiny Ten wrote yesterday of snow. In Lndon, I haven’t got the heating on yet, apart from the heated towel rail in the bathroom that is. It has been unseasonably mild. I went to dinner tonight at Octavia’s. Her mother, Rae (query spelling), is with her, a hale nonagenarian. While Octavia made a ‘phone call, Rae and I guzzled the good red wine. On the way home a short time ago, I actually felt very warm. I don’t think that was entirely due to the wine. Although this mildness, and the floods elsewhere in Europe, are worrying indications of climate crisis – and if I lived in one of those parts of Britain where floods have become the norm over the last few years, I imagine I would now be on Prozac – I admit I was grateful for the unseasonal warmth today. I spent the afternoon in the moat at the Tower of London as part of the disassembly team of volunteers taking the poppy display apart. An email yesterday warned us to expect Glastonbury conditions. The shift before us gleefully warned us of a mud bath. I can only think they don’t walk on unpaved paths very often.

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