Keeping it Sane

It’s been a busy week and a productive one. No, I am not talking about Brexit, though a new extension has been granted by the long-suffering EU until October. It sounds a good amount of time, six whole months, but once you subtract the days the house isn’t sitting it’s more like three. Mark Francois has made an arse of himself (again) by making threats to the EU and reading poetry aloud very badly, yet some people think he should lead the Tory party. Hello? Theresa May, whose air miles must be enough to get her to the moon and back by now, returned to the house and made the same speech again. Is it obstinacy, lack of imagination, or a plan to just wear people down? She does an aggressive upward look, reminiscent of Princess Diana, across the floor of the house to anyone who dares contradict her. Whatever the question was, Brexit is not the answer. Tonight, when the news was on, I deliberately left the room to avoid seeing the Farago announcing his new Brexit party with Jacob Rees-Mogg’s sister Annunziata on side as a prospective candidate. Some huge percentage of the adult population says it is suffering from Brexit related stress and anxiety. Tell me about it. I wake up from dreams about it.
Anyway, it’s Friday night and time for a bit of a break, though I fully intend to watch Have I Got News For You at nine o’clock, and I have already listened to the News Quiz. It’s like a itch I can’t help scratching. As though Brexit anxiety wasn’t enough, I have been worried about MasterB for the last couple of days. He has been under the weather, sleeping hugely, not nagging me much to play, taking only a cursory interest in his food. This morning, before I went to work, I rang the vet practice and talked to one of the nurses, describing his symptoms. If she told me to keep a close eye on things once, she told me a dozen times. Being Chief Litter Tray Monitor, I am well versed in MasterB’s bowel movements. Normally his digestive system functions admirably well, just the odd pungent smell from his hind quarters when he is sitting beside me, or the popping sound of wind breaking in tiny bursts. So I was able to say that yesterday’s deposit was less solid than usual. Today’s was even less solid than yesterday’s, so it seems something has upset his tum. I’m hoping he’s on the mend now as he has just led me to the kitchen and had a few mouthfuls of the wet food in his bowl, and his interest in biscuits has definitely returned. So long as it’s nothing serious, a few days of restricted calories might be just what he needs to shift the stubborn superfluous 500g he’s carrying.


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Neighbours and Outsiders

It is often said that London is a series of villages. I’m not sure I buy that, but I would say it’s a series of neighbourhoods. Most people are very aware of and loyal to their neighbourhood. When I came to live in London people would talk about their manor. It’s not a term I’ve heard for a while, so I suspect that those a generation behind me would find it as quaint as I did expressions from the 1950s.

Celia, Octavia and I all live in the same neighbourhood. I couldn’t tell you exactly where our patch begins and ends, but two or three years ago Celia and I were walking in an adjoining neighbourhood when we spotted a notice for a book group. It was behind glass and the worse for wear from condensation. We peered at it, trying to decipher date, location and book. As we did so, a woman approached with a wide, friendly smile. Do join us, she said. We don’t live here, we answered, wary of trespassing on alien territory. We live up the road; we belong to a different tribe. Alright, we didn’t say the last bit, at least I don’t think we did, but I certainly thought it, despite knowing people from this other tribe. That doesn’t matter, said the woman, smile enhanced by a halo of blond curls. You’d be very welcome. Continue reading

Bosses and Good Books

I didn’t think I’d post anything tonight. But MasterB having just, with my help, seen off the mainly black cat who thinks our garden would be a nice territory, is keen to stay outside a bit longer to be master of his demesne.
It has been a long week. I have a new boss. She seems nice enough, but inconsistent. As she wants us to get on with things ourselves – a bit if a challenge this as we were micromanaged to death under the previous boss – then gets uppity when she thinks she should know something we haven’t told her. Maybe she’ll settle down. I do hope so. It’s all a bit disorientating. I got told off because I am not attending a meeting on a day I am working elsewhere. Not having mastered being in two places at once, I seemed doomed to lose. I also seem to be spending far too much time considering the whys and wherefores of others’ behaviours instead of doing my job. Also, new boss hasn’t answered a question I have now asked her twice, and it is becoming pressing. What is sauce for the goose etc.
Not that I want my old boss back. No way. She was a complete nightmare, a control freak with knobs on. I am not sure what the knobs were, I wouldn’t like to twiddle them; we would probably be in a nuclear holocaust. She has been in twice this week. I do wonder if the new boss’ need to assert herself is anything to do with the old boss who tried to nail things down in perpetuity before she left, and apparently spent some time during her visits this week energetically trying to coerce the new boss to follow her plans.
Thank goodness I am part time there.

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Christmas Book Wishes

One Christmas, several decades ago, we opened all our presents. Surrounded by wrapping paper, chocolates, perfume and other goodies, I looked at my parents in horror and said, “You didn’t get me a book!”
They never made that mistake again. One surprising volume of poetry chosen by Mother for me was The Book of Unrespectable Verse. Maybe I should read some of the poems in it to her when I next visit.
If she were to buy me presents this Christmas, I would be droppping heavy hints for two books. In a bookshop last week, I picked up a copy of Jeannette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? Had I not had a train to catch I might have stood there and read it to the end. It was a comment about her mother that got me. She described her as a big woman, and then wrote how she had realised much later, too late, how small this woman felt on the inside. Only Winterson writes it much better than that. Both copies have been borrowed from the library and I’ve started Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth instead. But you can bet your last penny that if I get hold of Why Be Happy before I have finished Sweet Tooth, it will be put aside ina moment. I may not even clean my teeth between volumes. Continue reading

Reading for Pleasure

Decisions decisions. Which book to read next? There’s the Anne Michaels’ one I’ve been hoarding, Black Water Rising by Attica Locke, or another Dr Siri mystery. I’ll read them all in time, I know, but just now I’m feeling spoilt for choice.

The Anne Michaels’ one is the story of which I have the highest expectations. Her first novel, Fugitive Pieces is one the best books I have ever read. It’s taken her about ten years to write a second one, so it’s not like she’s likely to publish another one any time soon. Maybe I should continue hoarding yet awhile.

I don’t know anything about Attica Locke. I’ve never heard of her. But her book was one of those shortlisted for the Orange Prize last year, and I bought the lot from The Book People for some ridiculously low price. Apart from the Rosie Alison, I’ve enjoyed everything on the list.

So, that leaves the Dr Siri mystery. It’s called Curse of the Pogo Stick. I’d tried to get it from the library, but they didn’t have it. It’s probably the slimmest of the three books, but to be honest, I can’t tell, because it’s my first purchase for my new Kindle, so even War and Peace, which I also got for my kindle, but that was free, doesn’t take up any room. Continue reading