Monday, 24 September 2018

A Microwave Dinner

For some small part of each week we are still sharing the same small cottage.
Two men in five rooms.
It's driving me ever slowly........ nuts.
I'm finding it so hard that
I'm now living alongside a stranger who is not a stranger.
someone who has the starting's of a whole new life.
Someone who I want to shake until their teeth rattle.

I'm doing the busy thing.
Samaritans tonight, Choir tomorrow....a work shift ( my first) on Friday night......Zip wire on Wednesday
but I cant heal until I am  properly alone without the infrequent daily reminders of intimacy past and routines well trod.
I'm not bitter, its too early to be bitter......but I am still sensitive and angry, very angry and I hate being angry....hence me sitting here in an empty Samaritans office, an hour and a half early for shift......eating my microwaved tea at my telephone station.
I didn't want to be home as we manoeuvre around each other at supper time .
I don't want to be upset or angry or petulant, things that I invariably am when I am reminded I was only married three years ago
I want all that to be over........
..... and I want to start to heal.

Albert & Winnie

The relationship between Albert and Winnie is a simple one
Albert adores Winnie, but doesn't know when to rein in the lurve
Winnie benignly understands Albert
This video is the end of a " love in" between the two which lasted several minutes
One that ended with Albert getting too physical
And Winnie sighing heavily with the effort of it all.
This interaction happens at least once a day.
The relationship between species is always a complex one
But is something quite magical to watch


Sunday, 23 September 2018

" Lightens the heart, Brightens the soul"


The Village War Memorial has had a facelift over recent months.
It has been a project led by farmer Alun Hughes.
Alun " Med" had noticed that the memorial had looked rather unloved of late and has made it his mission to do something about it.
Through some serious research he found out that through accident or design five local men names had been left off the War Memorial. He liaised with the powers that be and had the mens' names reinstated as well as organising for a general face lift of the area with members of Community council .
I found him reviewing his work this morning.
I've always thought of Alun as a gentle, thoughtful man and that assessment proved to be right after I congratulated him on his work.
" It lightens the heart and brightens the soul" he said quietly .


Saturday, 22 September 2018

Big Hunk Of Spunk

I experienced my first man crush in the mid 1970s
I was watching an old western on tv and on the screen ambled the actor Clint Walker and from  that moment on I think I'd always had an eye for a set of broad shoulders and an easy smile.
Yesterday at the vets I found staring at a strapping farmer type who was collecting livestock medication and I was caught looking by one of the receptionist 
We both had the good grace to blush just a little




Friday, 21 September 2018

The Little Stranger

Post war austerity is the perfect backdrop to the " gothic" ghost story that is The Little Stranger.
In a large country house in decline, a disfigured RAF survivor, his sister and mother are trying to keep the wolves from the door. Their isolated existence is upset by the arrival of a local doctor whose mother was a maid at the house before the Great War and indeed his presence seems to be a catalyst for a whole series of supernatural events to unfold which ultimately lead to tragedy and madness.

The tight arsed Domhnall Gleeson

With lots to say about the class system of Britain between the wars The Little Stranger is a beautifully shot and atmospheric piece which utilises every dark ghostly house cliche  in the history of cinema. But it does so with the benefit of some interesting characterisation and performances .
The visiting doctor ( Domhnall Gleeson ) is a repressed , somewhat cold fish of a man with more class chips on his shoulder than soft Mick. He is attracted to the daughter of the house ( a magical turn by Ruth Wilson) who portrays one of those capable upper class women who is devoid of vanity bordering on eccentricity. She blossomed with the experiences of wartime service ( with one pivotal scene where an old WRAF friend turns up unexpectedly at a dance suggesting her true sexuality) but..now is drowning in the isolation of the decaying family house.

Their scenes together flit effortlessly between a rather sweet charm to an ultimately icy malevolence.  
I guessed the final twist in the tale a third of the way through the movie, which was a bit of a shame, but I enjoyed the bloody shocks when they arrived ( a scene where a visiting child gets mauled by the family dog behind a living room curtain is especially nerve wracking ) and the performance by Wilson is worth the price of a cinema ticket alone
7/10
Ruth Wilson


Animals Make Mess

We had torrential rain here all yesterday and I almost went stir crazy.
The bantam cockerels ( who have been called somewhat bizarrely Ivanka and Donald by the neighbours) sought shelter on the windowsill of the bathroom window ( which I had left open ) and subsequently shat all over the toiletries and sink until Albert forced them outside again during a brief skirmish after which they chatted angrily at him  from the safety of the Church wall.

Donald & Ivanka ( you may need to squint)

Winnie, in the meantime , has decided that she hates sofa cushions with a vengeance and when she is left for more than a couple of minutes alone in the living room will proceed to kick every one within eyesight off the sofa and around the room.
Only after each one has been booted away will she then rip off a sofa throw ( which has been previously draped rather artistically over the sofa arm by yours truly ) and will make a nest of it before making herself very comfortable thank you very much.
This behaviour takes place several times a day, so it's a bit like having a fat hairy toddler running amok about the place.

Cushion phobia

William's habit of pooing on upright surfaces remains a constant as his eyesight fails and he approaches his twelfth birthday. I found a rather tenacious turd glued to the side grandfather clock this morning which had camoflagued itself perfectly with the patina of the rich mahogany .

You've got to have eyes in the back of your head

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Your Last Kindness

Yesterday I was on the receiving end of a little kindness
Gayle, a blogger from the Sunny desert of the far west of the United States, sent me a walking dead package of goodies.
It was a generous gift where even the package was decorated with a hand drawn sketch of my menagerie .
The postman commented on the sketch with some enthusiasm


This morning I was called to the house of a neighbour to check on them after a fall. All I could do was to reassure them before they were visited by the health services, but I was thanked for my kindness.
I wasn't being kind...I was being neighbourly
Gayle was being kind. Her gift was designed to give some pleasure and some support  and I was greatly touched by it.

When was the last time someone was kind to you..?  And what did they do?
I think we would all benefit from reading a few heartwarming tales....
Over to you

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Make You Feel My Love


In Choir last night we nailed this, the Bob Dylan version of the classic Make You Feel My Love and I sang better and stronger because, like the school arse licker, I asked to stand next to the lead bass who has the voice of chocolate. Before that I was sat on the end next to the female tenors and I got myself all confused. Now in the position where my good ear can tune into what needs to be done , I can belt out something a bit more masculine ....
On the other side of me was a new boy...well I say new boy, Albert looked more like Private Godfrey from Dad's Army than the real Arnold Ridley did and he told me he was a practised chorister in his home county of North Yorkshire.
" I'm not used to singing without a piano !" He confided to me just after Jamie ,the twelve year old choirmaster had got us up singing another Swahili hymn " and I can't do the footwork either I've just had me bunions done..!" he added as the more energetic choir members clapped and stamped their feet in time to the music
This morning I almost missed a hospital clinic appointment as I was listening to my iPad in order to get my "dum-de-dums"  right for the African/ American Soul Wind, so much so the support worker told me off for not paying attention
Never let it be said I don't try.

I'll leave you with a quick video , just shot. It's a blustery day and Mary and I have just been out above the village to blow away the cobwebs



Thank goodness the zipwire run wasn't booked for today ! Thank you all again for your "last minute" donations on line and via the post directly to our centre in Rhyl. The treasurer has been somewhat overwhelmed with the response and has been greatly moved by the accompanying cards and letters

And finally I must also say a big thank you to my sister who I know left an large anonymous donation on line this morning, she and my other sister may be there next Wednesday when We finally do the deed

Last minute donations can be left on line at

https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/johngray1

Pay pal at jgsheffield@hotmail.com

Or by post directly to Samaritans Rhyl and NE Wales, 23 Bedford Street, Rhyl LL181SY

With postal donations , gift aid etc we would have raised going on 4, 500 € thank you!

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Bingo Waits For No Man


Last night was warm and fresh and towards dusk Mary and I went and sat on the village green.
I had my best Walking  Dead T shirt on.
I was listening to Just a Minute and then The Archers on my headphones. Mary was watching the village schoolchildren ride their bikes up and down Chapel Street.
Seven year old Liv Randa trundled by with her thirty six year old attitude very much on show.
" We are off to bingo in a minute" she told me seriously pointing at the village hall " We won a tray of biscuits last time"
Apparently Cameron the not-so-teenage boffin now calls out the numbers and so has injected some boy band sex appeal into the usually dry proceedings .
Mrs Trellis walked past with Blue and she waved, she had her winter bobble hat on. The man with the husky type dog who attacked William and Mary a while ago passed too. He didn't wave .
We ignore each other.
Jo from the old police house stopped her car just as the Archers' bladebladebladebla and told me that she was glad that I was now staying in the village and Sandra, the village caretaker hurried past with the hall keys in order to open up " Bingo waits for no man!" 
As Pip showed her new baby to a somewhat fraught Elizabeth at Lower Loxley, dusk started to fall with more gusto. The Living room lights started to appear in the windows of Hattie's little cottage, Carys's long cottage on London Road and in various of the pensioner bungalow windows, and as the bingo players started to walk slowly out of the lengthening shadows like zombies towards the hall and the temperature started to fall  Mary and I made our way back home in order to light the wood burner .

Monday, 17 September 2018