Doughnuts, Dolls and The Dead

I don’t usually have doughnuts for breakfast, but the on the other hand I have never, ever seen a doughnut that looks anything like this.

Doughnut Breakfast

The topping contained more sugar than I usually eat in a week. But it was nice.
I didn’t buy it, it was brought by a young relative who came to supper last night. I filled us up with ribollita until neither of us could face pudding, though true to form I picked at the bunch of grapes in the fruit bowl. I eat grapes as though I’m in a competition.
It was a good evening. MasterB took to the YR immediately, striding forward with his tail hoisted like a flag. I’ve already got her marked down as a potential cat sitter.
Apart from the unexpected doughnut it has been the week of the unexpected visit to one of the magnificent seven cemeteries, in my case Kensal Green. It was a fine cold morning when I set off rather later than I’d intended as MasterB had brought up a hairball on the bed which necessitated some unplanned and urgent washing before I could leave home. I met Badger the Staffie on my way to the tube. He held up his paw. I expressed sympathy and his owner laughed, saying Badger had been milking the sore paw for days.
My visit to the cemetery came about by accident rather than design. Lindy Lou took me to Kensal Green.
Here she is, newly unwrapped from the towel in which she travelled the tube for (I’m fairly certain) the first time in her existence.

Lindy Lou

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Octavia is my Lab Rat

As someone who loves, and I mean loves, fairy lights the sheer range available in the pound shop in December was severe temptation. I was almost salivating. I had to get myself out and away before considerable damage was done to my pocket.
Now, in the cool light of January,my decorations down, cards undisplayed, but fairy lights still twinkling as they do here all winter, I found myself thinking of those lights again. I returned to the shop, imagining I might, in a more restrained, less Christmassy frame of mind, be able to choose wisely from the selection.
All gone.
We have moved onto St Valentine’s Day. So I could have bought heart shaped candles, various tacky objects in shades of red. No fairy lights. Perhaps it’s a blessing. But I am thinking that if they have the same wonderful array next year, all the friends to whom I give presents will get at least one string of lights for Christmas.
Meanwhile, Octavia made a fleeting return to the capital and we ate together on Sunday evening. She is my lab rat, or guinea pig if you prefer, when I am trialling new dishes on visitors. Unusually we ate at mine. This was because I was making soup and didn’t fancy carrying it around to her house. The chances of spillage which would have been messy, were too high. My experimental dish was a Freekeh salad. Now I have had Freekeh in a local restaurant but not been able to buy it. Apparently it sells out very quickly. So Lyn very kindly got some for me in Auckland, and then Celia managed to bag a packet which was part of my Christmas gift from her.
So now I am Freekeh rich, but with Brexit looming, I don’t think I’m going to be rich in much else. I am particularly worried about fresh veg as I eat a great deal of it. I might get by on home grown tomatoes in the summer, but there’s no chance of that in April.
Maybe by some miracle the MPs will put a stop to the madness and we can reboot. Brexit’s wounds are going to take a long, long time to heal, whether we leave or stay. The bitterness, the hatred, the anger the referendum threw up will leave scars.
I have just watched Brexit: the Uncivil War, a drama about the campaigns starring Benedict Cumberbatch. It left me thoughtful, and more than a tad depressed. I had seen part of it being filmed in 2018 and been told by one of the crew it was to air the night we left the EU. In that case, I hope I never see it, I replied. But we are still in the EU, and it has aired. Watching it on catch up I didn’t get the full complement of ads in the breaks (it was a Channel 4 production for anyone looking to find it) but I did get that it had been sponsored by Lexus, so presumably that was the type of buying power the anticipated audience was expected to have. Not I. Among the more ridiculous accusations levelled at remainers is the one that we are the metropolitan elite. Some of the poorest parts of London voted solidly to remain. My own neighbourhood among them. Apparently, and especially as I read the Guardian, I am also a member of the chattering classes, which perhaps I am, though not alas with any influence. The term was coined by Auberon Waugh whose politics were more than a bit extreme.
We are seeing the unedifying spectacle of MPs, journalists and others being racially abused; women having misogynistic comments hurled at them by a group of vociferous pro Leave protesters who gather outside the Palace of Westminster. How anyone hearing them could embrace a future where their views dominate is a mystery.
I don’t agree with Owen Jones about much, but when he says the right wing press and the language of hate and prejudice that adorn its front pages has much to answer for, he’s right. He didn’t mention the lies the Mail and the Express serve up on an almost daily basis. According to them, climate crisis is a lie, we are overrun with malign foreigners, the NHS is being bled dry by health tourists. All these stories have been shown to be false, but still they keep peddling them. It worries me that the newspaper proprietors push this trash, it worries me even more that people buy these newspapers and want to believe them. That is self-deception on a frightening scale.
But I can only take a little of Brexit at a time. It looks horribly like I shall be living in an ex EU country very soon. Any problems will be blamed on the EU which has become some sort of whipping boy for the right and far right. Any success, any minor survival, will be hailed as victory. And as I don’t want to see my country go down the pan, I and my fellow remainers will be doing our darnedest to make something positive out of this disaster, and not relying as the leavers seem to do on fairies at the bottom of the garden.
So expect recipes, pictures of MasterB, poetry, anything that distracts and keeps me sane while this lemming like race to destruction continues. Meanwhile, beneath the surface my legs will be paddling like billyoh.

Oh hush the noise, ye men of strife

Night fell a couple of hours ago. The shops are closing. Celia and Charlie have left for Brighton. Octavia is in Yorkshire. In the block of flats where I live, only a handful of residents are at home, and in the section where my flat is, only my lovely neighbours opposite and I are here for Christmas. We’ve decorated our shared landing and exchanged gifts.
Inside, I have candles and fairy lights, tinsel that has so far survived MasterB’s interest, clean sheets, and parcels piled up on the table. Nanci Griffith’s voice fills the air from an old cassette tape.
I am feeling Christmassy, but not Christmassy enough to play CDS of carols. Anyway, I have managed to miswire the CD player of the stereo and sorting it out is beyond me right now. Continue reading

Of Jet Lag, Disappointing Theatre and Amazing Poetry and Science

I thought I was over the jet lag. I’ve been back at work since Saturday, and MasterB’s insistence on breakfast at seven in the morning has helped get at least that part of my routine re-established pretty quickly. I had one evening when I went to bed shortly before six. It was that or nod off on the sofa. The dark evenings haven’t helped me stay awake. By eight it feels like midnight. I tried having a second cup of coffee one day, but that was disastrous; I was jittery and jumpy, and speaking so fast my tongue felt seriously tired. However, day by day I was gradually staying awake longer and later.

But this week I had tickets to two events in the evening. The first, on Wednesday, was to a play at the National Theatre, the second to a poetry and science event at the Shaw Theatre. Both were with Celia and we have had the tickets for some weeks.

I love the National Theatre. It is quite simply one of the best theatres in the world in terms of the three auditoria it comprises, in terms of its creative vision and commitment, in terms of its productions. actually, it is probably the best theatre in the world. This is the home of War Horse, and the puppeteers who work their magic in that production say there is no other theatre in the world where this play would have been staged; the work that went on for months behind the scenes to make it possible would not have been contemplated anywhere else. You get spoiled in london. It is the the theatre capital of the world.

So you’ll understand I had high expectations of the evening. The play was by David Hare, a writer I respect. On the way there Celia told me the reviews had been mixed. We were surprised to see many of the seats were empty. My experience of the NT is almost uniquely of full houses and anticipatory audiences. The lights dimmed. The opening scene was great, snappy, clever, promising. bUt after that it was slow. A lot of polemic and not a lot to watch. My eyes began to close. I was still listening, but the voices were sounding more and more distant.

I made myself open my eyes. I’m a fidget at the theatre. some people stay in the same position throughout a play. I don’t. I move about in my seat, cross and uncross my legs and arms, reach for my water bottle, lean forward, lean back. This time a lot of my fidgeting was to keep awake. I thought I was doing quite well, but then my head dropped and woke me up. I didn’t last beyond the interval. I wasn’t sure if it was me or the play. Celia stayed. She texted me when it was over: thumbs down. Oh well, put that one down to experience. Continue reading

Home is Where the Cat Is

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.
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New Calendar, Feeling Better, and Heading Boatwards

It was around supper time last night when I realised the lurgy was leaving me and health once more was returning. Today, if not completely rebooted, my energy levels are up and I’ve cracking through my to do list. So the Walworth falafels are prepared. some are in the freezer, some are cooked and cooling down, ready to go in the car tomorrow when the plan is to head to das Boot. The forecast isn’t all that, but I’ve said no to work at this end of the week, and Older Nephew is able to join me for a day and return my keys.

High up on the to do list is MasterB’s 2019 calendar. It always takes far longer than I anticipate. I’ve made PDFs of two versions so far, but there has been a lot of swapping of photos, and I’ve sent copies to two people for their constructive criticism. A few days break from it will probably be a good thing.

I caught up with Celia this morning and we had a constitutional over to the Old Kent Road so I could recycle my electric blanket at the municipal site. Gentrification has not yet caught up with most of the Old Kent Road, which is the eastern boundary of Sunny Walworth, and it is dominated by large business properties designed more for practicality than aesthetics.

Still, there are gems in between. The Livesey, once a library, then a museum, now a place for children who cannot for one reason or another attend main stream school, is one of them. The Royal London Friendly Society building is another, though at ground floor level it is an ugly display of corporate bookmaking. Neither Celia nor I knew what the RLFS was, but thankfully the internet has enlightened at least one of us. If you want to be similarly enlightened, click here.

There’s a building that has a municipal air which houses a church. There are many churches of various hues along the Old Kent Road. This one has a very fine artwork on the outside giving a pictorial history of the area. the Romans, Chaucer’s pilgrims, Henry V all feature.

Chaucer’s pilgrims

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Choices

This morning, before the rain started, I was walking along thinking how nice it would be to see Michèle. I looked across the road, and lo, there she was. She saw me too and we waved at each other before she crossed to my side, and we walked and talked for a few minutes, going into Marks and Spencer where I completely forgot what I wanted to buy, before arranging to meet up on Tuesday evening.

Entertaining himself

While I was away Cousin, as is her wont, began to probe me about places where I might move. She knows I hanker after a larger home with a private garden for MasterB and myself. How about Cambridge were Older Nephew lives? That’s almost as expensive as London I answered, and logged on to RightMove to prove my point. And found three properties which would do me, one very well, within my price range.

But do I want to live in Cambridge? I have no idea. The thought of starting again, making friends and contacts with whom I am comfortably at ease is daunting. How long would it be before I would see a Michèle on the other side of the road? I’m not someone who minds her own company; indeed I relish and value my time alone, but choosing to be alone is quite different to not knowing anyone well, not having friends who are companionable, people who share the same values and interests. Continue reading

Oh Olympus TG3, Thou Art Sick

MasterB is fully recovered from his anaesthetic, and the fur on his throat is beginning to grow back.

Bare throat

He’s not so keen on the return of the hot weather. We enjoyed two days of lower temperatures and I assumed wrongly that summer would resume a more reasonable temperate course. The humidity builds up, and you think there’s going to be a storm, but then the winds come along and blow the humidity away leaving us with more temperatures in the high 20s and low 30s. Too hot for central London, and a country where we are ill equipped for extremes of weather.

I am starting to fantasise about rain; proper rain, though a good long shower to soak the earth and freshen the air would do. We haven’t had rain here since 28th May. And it would be really nice to have day off from watering the plants.

Guarding a watering can

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A Shout in the Night

It’s been a lovely weekend of blue skies and warm sunshine in London. Just a soft breeze and the temperature somewhere in the mid 20s C. Pretty perfect. The neighbours stayed quiet last night, no loud voices or braying laughter drifting through open windows until all hours, something that happens all too often for my liking in warm weather. So MasterB and headed off to bed bedtimes. I read for a while, finished a crossword and fell asleep.

Around two in the morning I woke as someone shouted “Put your hands up”. I thought at first I’d Been dreaming then realised there were quite a few voices. MasterB was growling, and when I opened the shutters to look out of the window, for once he didn’t leap up onto the sill to look too. Whatever it was, he didn’t want to get any closer.

It turned out to be lots of police officers and one man not in uniform. He was the one with his hands in the air while his pockets were searched and he was patted down. I heard an officer tell him he was under arrest and to put out his hands as he was to be cuffed. Continue reading