Monday, 2 May 2016

The sense I Was Born With

The Prof wants to go to town today.
So in a hurry I wanted to take Mary for her two mile rot.
Crocs,( no socks) tracksuit bottoms ( no underwear) and a think sweatshirt was the outfit of choice
( well it was only overcast!)
The heavens opened in biblical proportions by the time I had passed Purgatory ( an apt old name for a house up towards the Gop ) and suddenly I looked lke Shelley Winters ar the end of The Poseidon Adventure.
The farmer at Bryn Odyn who was passing stopped his large pick up and told me to get in, He was laughing but it was one of those chuckles that was tinged with " this guy's a lunatic" kind of tone.
An assessment probably supported by the fact that I couldn't cock my leg high enough to clamber up  into the passenger seat. ( and when I did I unfortunately showed too much sodden arse cheeks to any passing car).
Finally , Mary and I rolled into the pickup like two bears climbing into a litter bin but not before  I lost my right croc on the road .
"Hang on I!ve lost me flip flop" I chirped
The farmer started to shake his head in disbelief.
Meanwhile, Mary excited at all this attention,  stood with her paws on the dashboard.
" I'm 54 next month..I really should know better" I told the farmer as he drove me home.
He didn't argue the point.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Cloud Watching

I had a claustrophobic kind of post night shift headache this afternoon.
They always feel like a hangover without the fun evening out.
In my experience the only remedy for this is fresh air and a lie down in damp grass.
Cloud watching in a gentle rain also helps, it's better than paracetamol.
I tried a lay down in the field but the new hens, who have never seen me do this before, crowded around me like poorly controlled diabetics at the Waitrose bun counter, and so I took myself off to the  peace of the graveyard and had a crafty supine moment amongst the graves.
Try it, if you have never tried it.

Our cottage on the corner, the view from a headache busting graveyard


Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Night Before School.

I've not been in work for three weeks
I am working this evening
The day has a feeling those Sunday evenings did before school.
Hey ho

I'm off to find an elderly neighbour now with a gift of half a dozen eggs.
This morning she found Camilla wandering in the road
( probably after a crash landing somewhere in the village) 
And returned her in one piece to the Ukrainian village 

Friday, 29 April 2016

Hiding In Waitrose

I'm in a rainy Chester today buying birthday pressies.
I hate shopping with a passion.
I've spruced myself up a bit, brushed my hair and have trolled around the Prof's favourite shops with a vacant stare on my face. and I have managed to buy a few items which I hope the Prof will like.
In way of a reward I have taken myself off to Waitrose and am presently hiding in a corner of the cafe drinking a coffee and eating a prawn sandwich.
I have also just had a companion for the past half hour or so.

The cafe is crowded, and so I found myself sharing a table with a rather well dressed and well spoken woman in her sixties. Over a period of just a few minutes I learnt that she was there buying food for a dinner party with inlaws, that her daughter was marrying their son on Tuesday at a "society wedding" and that the wedding was not her choice of "do" as it was more about money than about the ceremony itself.
My companion, as it turned out, was a retired senior Police Officer from Birmingham. She and her husband had moved to Cheshire last year and apparently  the husband was called Richard.
All this information was shared before her latte had lost it's froth, but she was incredibly friendly and charming and before my flat white had disappeared I had shared info on the Prof, our wedding and the pros and cons of South Yorkshire's police force, which seems much in the news at the moment.
Such is the nature of these " Strangers on a train" conversations.
The woman finally finished her coffee and said that that she had to fly. We told each other that it had been "nice chatting"
as she pulled on her coat and scarf she turned to me
"I see you have a dog" she said smiling and I suddenly blushed thinking that I was covered in dog hairs
" I have four" I told her "How did you know?"
The woman smiled  and pointed to the edge of my jacket
"The zip has been chewed off!" she noted

Once a copper...always a copper I thought!

Thursday, 28 April 2016

A Few Words Away From Greatness

It's been a dreadfully dull and wet afternoon, so I sneaked off to the cinema yet again and went to see the Disney movie The Jungle Book. (The Prof would never EVER pay to see a Disney movie)
He in in London today where it is cold and damp too.

From the get-go The Jungle Book is a stunning experience. With GCI animals, beautiful locations and a confident child actor, actor/director  Jon Favreau has crafted a much darker and faithful looking-to- the-original adventure story, that at times literally transports you into the India, you just know Kipling would have filmed if he had computer software back in 1894)

It is, quite simply, magnificent to look at with several set pieces- a buffalo stampede (stolen shamelessly from The Lion King) and  the opening chase sequence being standouts.

Early on in the movie, even though he follows the 1967 cartoon plot, it is clear that Favreau wanted to be faithful to the original stories which relied heavily on the animal folklore and emphasis on drama and language but when the slightly more comic character of Balooi arrives (The bear being played by Bill Murray), he looses his nerve and brings in a more Americanised feel to the whole movie. The standout set piece songs from the cartoon (The Bare Necessities & I wanna be like you) are reprised albeit briefly, and Mowgli (a delightful Neel Sethi) noticeably starts using words like "Buddy" and phrases like "let's get on with it!"
Even one of the minor animal characters refer to being "exfoliated" after being licked by Baloo, a fact which I am sure would have had Kipling crying into his cup of chai

Shere Khan attacks an unsuspecting Mowgli

Having said this, the "darker" feel and look of this movie more than makes up for the sanitizing of the original language and a busload of heavyweight actors lend some dramatic weight to the narrative.
Ben Kingsley gives the panther Bagheera a suitable dignity, Lupita Nyong'o's Wolf mother is surprisingly moving in most of her scenes and Idris Elba is quite superb in his role of Shere Khan, his voice skills mating the stunning CGI version of the damaged Tiger.

Favreau has crafted a fine film here. Rich and satisfying and a total treat for the senses, I truly loved it.
However, if he had held his nerve and returned the entire script to Kipling's  historic Raj language this good movie would have been in my opinion, a great one.

Eye In The Sky

Do you remember those " Balloon Debates" at school where the most articulate kids verbally fought for the chance not to be thrown out of the sinking airship? Depending on the strength of the arguements, I always tottered between one and another, swayed by emotion and logic.
Eye In The Sky relies heavily on that notion of powerful arguement as the film is set in the new moral maze of drone warfare.
Put simply, military compounds in the Uk and the US watch a Muslim terrorist cell in a township in Kenya. The cell houses known insurgents as well as two suicide bombers and in real time we watch as the far removed military personnel who make the kill decisions and the politicians who sanction them, deal with the knotty ethical and practical decisions of taking out the terrorists in a friendly county where local innocents ( namely a small Muslim girl selling bread) will be killed in the crossfire.

It's a taut and at times unbearably tense movie that never quite takes one side or another, and it's that very ambiguity that unsettles the watcher so effectively. As the  politicians ( Jeremy Northern and Monica Dolan)  seesaw out of making a decisiobn by referring the decision ever upwards, the hard bitten UK based soldiers Alan Rickman and Helen Mirren,who have been chasing the terrorists for six years, try to manipulate the situation to launch the drone, a drone which is piloted remotely by mortified Nevada based soldiers Aaron Paul and rookie Phoebe Fox, who have never killed before.

Interestingly, as all this angst and decision making ensues in America and Britain , only one Somali agent ( Barkhad Abdi) is risking his life to monitor the terrorist cell and in the end only he tries to save the young bread seller from the ensuing attack.

Eye in the Sky leaves the audience divided and thoughtful.
Modern warfare has never been portrayed so chillingly on film since Dr Strangelove

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Mother Memories

I wasn't sure I was going to blog today. Rachel got almost fifty comments after writing a dozen words  yesterday and Tom Stephenson started writing about toilets and bras all of a  sudden, so I was at a bit of a  loss of what to share. Not a great deal has indeed happened. The Prof is away again so I am having a sneaky cinema trip later to see Eye In The Sky as a treat, but "inspiration" did eventually  strike as I flicked through the blog Cafe Muscato and saw a photo of the Russian society darling the Baroness Von Budberg-Bonningshausen. 
That slightly breathless haughty expression. That imperious " suffer no fools" icy stare. That lived in face, moulded by gin and cigs .
I was in fact,  looking at my mother in the latter part of her life

My mother died in a residential home which she hated. The " care" staff were generally inflexible and ill trained but the home was one of the few that would accommodate her smoking, so beggars could not be choosers. She had her own neat room and use of a shabby " staff room" where she could puff away at her cigarettes by the open fire door , so she and we, her family, were grateful , but like all institutions , she was placed on a "  care plan" which limited her smoking periods to times the staff felt it appropriate that they could supervise safely.
My mother resented this control bitterly, and fought every rule with the tenacity of a St Trinian Schoolgirl.
( I must note here that one of her biggest allies in the home was the cook, a woman that would often bend the rules to wheel my mother outside where she could puff away at her full tars under a spotty umbrella....strangely that cook eventually came to live in Trelawnyd and is now our Flower Show cookery judge!) 
I remember driving over to Wales from Sheffield one morning and when I arrived I was greeted by the home manager ( a woman I detested because she was rather common and sloppy). She told me that mother had been somewhat " buzzer happy" when requesting her morning fagtime and due to staffing issues, the staff had not been able to " organise" her break by the fire door for hours.
I told her firmly that I would do the supervising.
I dressed my mother and helped her into her wheelchair without a wash or even a hair brush and as she puffed away at the first cig of the day, her nerves subsided and she became more herself even though she looked like the wreck of the Hesperus.
The manager appeared at he door, obviously guilty at leaving my mother cigless for so long and started to talk to my mother in a patronising " we've had our little chats about these cigarettes before haven't we Joan?" kind of way. The manager standing at the door with all the power and my mother sitting in a shabby staff room on an incontinence pad with non...........I found myself starting to build myself up for a sharp little conversation about courtesy.
But I need not have worried. With fag in hand and with her hair looking like a bird's nest, my mother smiled her best hostess smile and trilled to the manager " This is my son, he's a charge nurse on a busy spinal ward in Sheffield and he would love a cup of tea if you would be kind enough to get him one..he's just driven 100 miles to see me"
The manager hesitated and my mother added with icy charm " Thank you soooooo much" .
The cups of tea duly arrived, served by a support worker who gave my mother a wink and as we sat in clouds of smoke drinking our drinks the manager appeared again to ask us if everything was ok
With her face the colour of putty my mother nodded graciously in victory and as the manager walked away, but not out of earshot, my mother turned to me , fag ash all splattered down her front , and said in a loud Maggie Smith stage voice " That woman is a real BITCH," 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016


I have often heard that cats are attracted to people that either don't like them or are frightened of them. Such is the fickle and rather demanding nature of felines.
Dogs on the other hand seldom approach someone who does not want to be approached. They, like insecure children, need and love adulation and will often grab it whenever it is offered.
They are wrong footed when they feel rejected.
Every night The Prof is approached by Winnie after he has sat down heavily into his armchair.
She doesn't bounce like the terriers, nor does she jump up to rest huge paws on a knee, she just sits and looks, waiting for that big kiss on a face the size of a large dinner plate.
To be fair to the Prof, he never wanted or indeed even likes bulldogs. Winnie's arrival was a kind of fait accompli which drove him almost to distraction, so he kind of tolerates the big old girl, without offering the sloppy affection I give her, every single day.
But every day. Winnie wanders up to the Prof as he taps away at emails that need reading, and rather seriously she will lower herself down like a fat woman negotiating a deck chair, her eyes never leaving his face. There she will wait,sometimes for an age, for him to look over his spectacles to acknowledge her.
I watch this scenario every single night.
The acknowledgement always comes eventually.
It's never, however, a kiss on a big sloppy face. Nor is it an overwhelming coo-cooing an old lady gives to her pekingese but eventually the Prof will look slowly down from his work and without a smile he will pat the big girl firmly on the head .
Winnie will always battle for more. She will wave a fat paw at the Prof in a futile attempt for him to pat longer and hard as it may seem on the surface, I realised that all this is a kind of game the two of them play.
She is more than happy with that one pat!

It's a dance between bulldog and stoney faced academic.