27 March 2011

Dear Sophisticated Ladies

 Well I seem to remember confessing my embarrassment at forgetting to change the time, at the passing of the seasons, last autumn. So yes the fact the clocks leapt forward an hour this morning, had yet again passed me by! And the State entrusts completing a Census Form to me today as well. Hmm those 31 pages didn’t exactly glean a great deal of information about the complexity of this spinster’s life! And quite whether the computer will be able to read the form after the performance I had getting the envelope into the Post Box I doubt somehow!

My mother and I were talking about the cost of the Census this morning. She was commenting on the huge sums spent on this exercise and why more effort hadn’t been put into getting us to complete it on line. In fact she informed me that she hadn’t known you could complete it on line until I told her. Preceding this observation she had noted that we were the kind of people who just followed rules and did what we were told to do in such matters. Rather amused I told her that the reason I knew you could complete it on line was because it told me on the FRONT PAGE of the census form! One assumes that reading and completing the form was one of the jobs left to my father! Bless.

As I write I have returned from a late lunch with a close friend; late in two regards, one because the agreed time for me to be at her house was 3 pm and two because unfortunately I was late. Not a little bit late but an hour late having got my times confused. In my defence as I was shutting the back door, having had it open whilst working (and chain smoking) in my study, my neighbour called to me.

 My neighbour and I often have conversations over the fence; more accurately through the clematis/honeysuckle/passionflower ensemble hedge that forms the barrier between our two gardens. It has been sometime since I have been able to see her face when talking to her! It’s quite liberating on the occasions when I have been caught hanging the washing out in my pyjamas (and either no makeup or the vestiges of the previous day’s cover up).

 Not having a functioning washing line is really causing me some distress as I do like to hang out the sheets on a Saturday morning. The line finally gave in to the frost and snapped this year. I have had one of the old fashioned pulley system efforts until recently although it never recovered from the time the back of the house was re-rendered.

 The builders who completed this particular job failed to fix the iron pin back into the side of the house securely. One afternoon I was bringing in washing, in a hurry, before going out and the line fell down as I unwound it. Of course I was, as one does, looking upward therefore caught the hefty metal pin in my teeth! So ladies I ask you this, in good forum theatre style, what would you do next?

 Hmm well that’s an interesting one. Shall i give you a few more details to assist your cognitive processes? My teeth are smashed into my mouth and there is bloody everywhere. When I say everywhere I mean in my mouth and over the front of my blouse (now there’s a word we don’t use very often anymore as it still conjures up shoulder pads, Dallas and Alexis Carrington)!

Oh yes you also need to know that the clean washing is now all over the patio. Do you rush screaming into the house waving your arms wildly? No that would be pointless lady; you live alone and the cat is frankly not interested in your hysteria. Perhaps calmly walk to the house muttering why haven’t I registered with a dentist or do you go and pick the clothes up? Of course I gathered up the washing before finding the number of the emergency dentist – St David’s Hospital, Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff in case you’re interested.

Anyway back to why being caught by my neighbour earlier on today made me late. My neighbour is a salt of the earth all round fantastic woman and her mother who lives with her is in failing health. I hadn’t realised quite how quickly things had deteriorated as  after a brief chat about the garden – I had seen her friend’s son who landscaped her garden examining his handiwork one year one yesterday (through the bathroom window) – she drops a bomb shell.

We move from relocating the Peris (shrub)and planting rhubarb, to the fact she is going to have to put her mum in a nursing home. I can hardly say ‘sorry love I’m in a bit of a hurry’ now can I! So we talk for sometime about what has happened recently; about the fact her mum can no longer walk at all or get out of the chair unaided; and that her mum is frightened in the house on her own in the day in case she falls. Today I am having a particularly bad day and couldn’t even offer to go round to help her if she fell. This is the definition of feeling useless.

 I do offer to do anything I can but as the left side of my body has abandoned me today I am limited to tea and sympathy. My neighbour has other friends better able to offer support. I don’t know why but as I walked out of the front door the fact that this is the last Census form that her mother would be included on, for this house, made me feel so sad. Hence I was distracted and when I opened the door I didn’t notice that my neighbour was there ~ I did one of those comedy jumps! We laughed! She had forgotten to ask if I’d paid the window cleaner for her ~ I had!

 I have to report a sad event on the gold fish front. I bought them a couple of weeks ago limbering up to getting a new feline companion (probably). I had purchased four because they were discounted without thinking that the vessel they would be living in could only accommodate 2. So last weekend I purchased another vessel and the discount already seemed less than good value.

 Two fish are swimming happily around although the weed is brown not green. The other two suddenly developed fin rot and looked rather sad although the weed is green.  Today before I could go and get the drops to rectify the water quality problem one has been found floating on the surface whilst it’s mate is firmly glued to the bottom; I doubt it will last the night. Do gold fish feel pain? Have I been cruel to them unintentionally? I do hope not.

 And to finish ladies I want to discuss spring cleaning; two different takes on the subject. Firstly I can recommend sorting out and cleaning the cutlery drawer; it now has space in it and everything in it work as I have thrown away the bits of broken utensils I will never get round to fixing.

 OK I confess that had the seal in the liquidiser not unexpected failed, when full of soup ready to be mashed, I may not have prioritised this job. I had turned to answer the phone and was mid sentence to Auntie who often phones me late Saturday afternoon from the bath. As I turned back to the liquidiser I was faced with a pool of stock all over the worktop and running into the drawer. I explain what I am faced with to which she yelps (mournfully as if in pain)‘Oh Darling!’ ~ the echo tells me she is indeed in the bath!

 I ask if I can call her back whilst I deal with the situation. I put the phone down and remove the liquidiser from the motor and place it in the sink. For days my co-ordination has been shocking and as I turn I knock the contents – cooked carrots and lardons – into the sink; marvellous! I eventually rectify the situation and call Auntie back; we discuss finding a little shop to buy a new seal for the liquidiser and, as recommended by the man she spoke to in John Lewis, for my stove top coffee pot! Oh I do love a well researched domestic tip!

 On the other more intimate matter of Spring Cleaning, one which we’ve all pondered on (I’m sure) when seeing an article on bowel health. Yes colonic hydrotherapy; inner cleanliness and yes I can vouch for the fact it has beneficial effects! The practitioner I have used before is no longer well practising and I have had to find someone new. The appointment is made and the long questionnaire half completed; I shall report back on her technique next time we talk. Should I remind her that it takes more than donning latex gloves to warm one’s hands before she begins?

 The advert for Dulcolax has made the subject a little more acceptable; you know the one where the girls are having coffee and someone is late. Credible perhaps but honestly ladies there is nothing to be ashamed of, given the rubbish we challenge our digestive systems with we do need to give it a bit of TLC every now and then! Wash and go and let the freshness.. what was the rest of that tag line I wonder?

 Thank you to all of you who came to say good bye to Fiona at the Salon this week. I hope you all enjoyed the Sophisticated Leader Survival Pack (of presents) I had put together! I was particularly proud of finding a copy of Michael Bond’s book whose title includes ‘ and the Militant Midwives’ ~ an excellent addition to the office book shelf me thinks! She tells me she has already worn the necklace ~ in true talisman style we gave her strength! Well actually in true Ben 10 style the Contemporary Spinster bolstered her resolve confirming that Ms Allan is their new leader and has the requisite special powers needed to take Curve to the next level. Victorious Endeavours salutes you darling and we will miss you more than you will ever know. Oh and I promise to continue to keep bothering Auntie to get her friend to give up the name of her friend’s friend who has a horse in stables in the Leicester area; Bob’s welfare is, I know central to your happiness!

In sophistication and I will be in touch with dates for the May Salon when our guests will be the harpists Elinor Bennett and Catrin Finch.


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