A sad day today. My kettle, which I have had since I was a student, went to the small electrical recycling event held at Kennington Park and did not come home. I honestly thought it was going to last me my whole life. It was second hand when I got it, a hand-me-down from someone who probably got a more sophisticated model that turned itself off when it boiled.
They don’t make the.m like this anymore
It has been with me through thick and thin, as an undergraduate and post graduate; as a newly qualified teacher right up to this morning when I boiled it for the last time to make my morning coffee. It’s been in halls of residence, slum accommodation, dodgy rental flats, social housing, my own home. But a while ago I decided to tackle the limes ale around the spout. Mistake. Once removed, I realised it had been stopping my kettle from leaking. I looked for ways to repair it. I found some advice but, lacking a soldering iron or any experience in using one, success seemed unlikely. I contacted the company that made it, Swan. They regretted they could not help, but they did offer me a substantial discount on a new kettle. A clever way to retain my custom and for me, a useful way of narrowing my choices. Still. Saying goodbye was hard and I kept putting the moment off.
Finally, this week, with Celia’s help I made my decision between a stainless steel kettle and a rather more expensive pale green model. It arrived this morning.
The picture shows it having its first boil, I don’t know why I sat it on a piece of bubble wrap, but I definitely felt it was on trial. Continue reading
The new layout at the airport confused me. I could see the shuttle bus I needed to take to the railway station, but not how to get to it. So I wasted several minutes going in the wrong direction and the bus I had seen departed. Fortunately another arrived almost immediately. It was nearly empty, as was the train to London. Until we reached St Pancras. I looked up from my book and saw a sea of faces on the platform. Not all those people boarded the train, but as travelled through Farringdon and City Thameslink stations the train filled up. I got off at Blackfriars and made it to the bus stop just in time to see my bus pull away. Joggers dodged the pedestrians; commuters talked earnestly into mobile phones; the Thames flowed sweetly under the bridge. It was a beautiful evening.
After being the countryside I was struck, as I always am when I return home from less populated areas, by the hustle; the sheer number of people; the energy. I couldn’t decide whether I was pleased to be there or not, though I was increasingly impatient to see MasterB.
He was more interested in going into the garden. Within seconds I realised his pleasure at seeing me was more that I could let him out of the flat and into the big wide world than in an emotional reunion. Ah well, he made up for it later, and this evening. Continue reading
We reached the airport betimes, travelling on a section of road that only opened this morning. Maybe someone cut a ribbon in the pre-dawn, maybe there was a fanfare. I don’t know. Cousin thought it might be busy, but the cars were sparse and we had one of those once in a lifetime conversations where we admired the unpitted tarmac and the smoothness of the ride.
The journey was so quick that I was turned away from bag drop and told to come back in half an hour. I sat on a metal seat and ate my lunch. The airport seemed very quiet. Even security, an area I have learned can take a long time to pass through at Belfast International, was nearly empty. However, I set off an alarm when I passed the first scanner and had to remove my shoes, enter the thing that looks like the orgasmatron in that Woody Allen film, and submit to being patted down before I could collect my hand luggage and proceed. Continue reading
The petition to revoke article 50 reached 3,000,000 at lunchtime. It’s now at 3,706,979 and I think it’s slowing down. There was a very uptight member of Leave Means Leave on channel4 news tonight who claimed it was open to fraud and that he personally had signed it three times within five minutes. Whether that is true or not, the excitement generated by this petition is wonderful, and it obviously has some ardent Brexiteers such as the oleaginous Farrago rattled.
Not that the Prime Minister has any intention of considering any changes to her deal. Is it lack of imagination? arrogance? stupidity? obstinacy?
Anyway, when I finish work at lunchtime tomorrow I shall be marching tomorrow for a People’s Vote, though whether I shall succeed in meeting any of my friends is doubtful. The sheer number of people last time meant I gave up and walked with strangers.
Nineteen days until the UK leaves the EU and we still don’t know how it’s going to work. Or not. Any pretence at smoothly running government has long since gone. In many ways this is far more interesting, and I do hope the same old familiar party lines will not reappear 30th March. Anyone who thinks that it’ll be over in any aspect is deluding themself. There is no sign of the fat lady waiting to grab the microphone, though quite a few people with megaphones and a lot of flags. The far right have (again) grabbed the Union flag. This does annnoy me. It’s my flag too and I don’t see why a bunch of nationalists should be allowed to wave it about as though they are its keepers.
So while flagged deprived, I have finally filled in my application for my Irish passport, having received an answer to my query about whether I could submit a witnessed copy of my UK passport rather than the real thing.
I am supping with Octavia, and she will witness my signature, sign my passport photos in which I look like the perfect candidate for the post of Rat Catcher in Chief, and endorse my photocopy.
Then it’s a matter of some six weeks wait. Continue reading
This is February, typically the coldest month of winter, a month associated with low temperatures and even snow. Yet today I was out and about in my shirt sleeves, opening windows wide when indoors. I can’t deny I enjoyed it. I had the morning earmarked for dusting and vacuuming. The sunshine had a downside though, mercilessly showing the amount of cat fur chez IsobelandCat.
Just how much fur can one cat shed over the course of a winter? A lot it seems. Each time I thought my duster would come up clean from the carpet there was another clot of fur. I resorted to the rubber glove technique to speed things up. I haven’t broached the drawers under the bed where MasterB often likes to sleep during the day. I know the cat fur there will be mega.
This seat needs some fur
What is it about the end of the year and the start January which suggests soup? It’s not just me; my neighbour Jolita has also got the soup bug. At a guess, it goes back to childhood and Mother making meals from festive leftovers. To be fair, I don’t remember any soup, but I do remember a nut bread she made based on a recipe in a copy of Family Circle someone had passed to us. Is Family Circle still going? We weren’t a magazine taking family, though the Radio Times was taken weekly, and I was a big fan of the Dandy before I reached double figures, then it was Jackie and Fab208 as often as I could get them, with very occasional forages into Rave before I graduated to Honey. Nowadays it’s the Guardian and magazines from various organisations I belong to or charities I support. Favour, the magazine for supporters Hearing dogs of the Deaf doesn’t feature many soup recipes. But then neither did the Dandy.
That said, for me soup generally begins with what I have in the fridge rather than a recipe. And this week I had some celeriac that needed using, lots of tomatoes, and some nice white bread that was past its best. So Monday’s soup was a version of ribollita which worked surprisingly well. Motivated, I moved onto tomato soup, with a pound of tomatoes and some other veg I already had. I found a recipe which became the base for my soup, but to my surprise it didn’t include garlic. Surely some mistake? Easily rectified though, and thus emboldened I added half a tsp of ginger purée instead of the tomato purée I did not have. I love chilli, so after a slight hesitation I added a few flakes. Continue reading
Thinking about it, MasterB has had a fairly sociable autumn, and in the middle of December I recall remarking to Michèle that his social life eclipsed mine. He spent November living with Birgit, and both Reinhild and Celia visited. In the middle of December, Bridget, who stayed here in 2016 while I was in Australia, called round for a calendar. I knew she was coming and we had agreed to meet downstairs. I left the door to my flat open. While we chatted we heard miaow miaow miaow from upstairs, and then came himself, barrelling down, tail hoisted like a flag, to greet Bridget. I have absolutely no doubt that he heard her voice and was determined that if she wasn’t coming up to see him, he was coming down to see her. She returned a few nights later with Janet, his other auntie while I was in Oz. We had drinks, nibbles and chips. MasterB had a lovely time.
Now I am the first to admit that MasterB is not the sharpest knife in the drawer; invitations to join MENSA have been notably absent, and though willing, he struggles with games demanding much (any) intellectual ability. However, he does know he he likes and loves, and he remembers those people with whom he has bonded very well. I’d love to see his reaction if the student couple who rescued him turned up. So with B&J he was sooo happy. He rolled on the carpet, he sat in the middle of the floor, he remembered the games that Bridget played with him and played them all over again. Animals, non-human animals that is, don’t lie: MasterB loves B&J. Official. Continue reading
I’m home. Phew. Right now I am feeling very tired and all I want to do is go to bed, but I intend to stay up for a few hours more. Also, I need to finish unpacking my bag.
New Zealand is amazing. Stunning. Beautiful. Pick your own adjective. I need to start saving for a second trip to the South Island. I’m glad I didn’t go there this time because it would have been so intense, and like going through a list, ticking off places seen. That’s not my preferred type of tourism. You can’t see everything. And sometimes the more you try to see the less you appreciate, understand or remember.
MasterB was not quite sure how to react when I arrived home. He was pleased to see me, but he and Birgit have established a different routine over the last five weeks, now he has to readapt to my routine. Right now he’s curled up beside me. He couldn’t be closer. He has also seen Celia who I bumped into on the Walworth Road when I was heading for the mobile phone shop to get a new U.K. sim to replace the one I lost.
In films, when things are going badly wrong, you see the characters consumed by events; they are intense, focussed, driven.
In reality, in between throwing your hands up in horror, you spend much of your time doing the usual things as though the world might not come to a premature end. You get up, eat breakfast, chat with friends, watch Gogglebox and Graham Norton.
The world right now is in a bigger mess than I have ever known. Maybe the Cold War days were just as apocryphal, only I was too young to understand the threat hanging over us. Krushchev banging his shoe on a table was something I learned about in history lessons. The holocaust has continued to have repercussions, but its power to appall and shock seemed to be nudging us into greater awareness that, as Jo Cox said, we have more in common that we have that divides us. Out of that terrible evil it seemed we might finally understand the importance of interfaith dialogue, human rights legislation and anti-racist education.
Then along came Brexit, and the realisation that there were an astounding number of people about who wanted to blame someone, something, anyone, anything for the things that weren’t working. Not unfortunately the actual people who were to blame, politicians who have dealt a toxic cocktail of short termism, and fake successes, financial deals which are supposed to help the country but where the cash ends up in the bank accounts of a privileged few. Meanwhile papers like the Mail and the Sun ramp up the fear factor about ‘benefits cheats’, ‘health tourists’, illegal immigrants’. Continue reading