5 June 2011

Dear Sophisticated Ladies

There is a more episodic feel to the missive this week. (And I confess it’s a long one this week so do pop the kettle on or open a bottle of something suitably sophisticated to periodically moisten the dry throat that comes from prolonged laughter!) Partly in my attempt to be more organised and partly because I am preparing you for the coming week. Now I’ve made things sound rather more exciting than they are so please don’t give into the wave of disappointment that may follow or possibly a warm glow of ahh how lovely!

This time of year my parents always go to Northumberland and rent the same cottage for a week. Years ago we went to the same place for our penultimate family holiday; not a happy experience as my brother and I were at an awkward early teenage point. We were not engulfed with feelings of mutual love and affection; neither did the brynylon sheets on the bunk beds enrich things!

After my father’s fall last autumn mum asked if my brother and I would like to go with them to the cottage this year. So I shall be away next weekend. I haven’t quite decided what to do in terms of the missive. I may, internet access permitting, post something on the blog which could be a canny way to get some more of you to sign up to it!

Returning to this week, which funnily enough I am writing on Saturday as I am running a workshop in Swansea tomorrow (Sunday). And may be too tuckered out to write coherently when I return home tomorrow evening. Facilitating workshops (indeed any type of event) is one of my favourite parts of my work but it’s awfully exhausting!

Arabella continues to be a delightful bundle of fun filled frolics and hair pulling stress. And the biting continues to be a challenge; although we may, fingers crossed, have turned a corner on this one. I had a meeting at my house this week and my client was very understanding as Bella ran up her legs! She, my client, had come from the Urdd Eisteddfod which may explain her calm tolerance (interspersed with cries of ‘Oh Mammi’ which was initially alarming).

However there have been times when, to be frank, my patience has been tried somewhat. The following was written at the time of one particularly difficult moment:

Wednesday 6.45 pm and I have resorted to tough love; with a 12 week old kitten and I feel a) VERY stressed and b) EVEN MORE guilty! The friend I swim with suggested putting Arabella in her box when she was really playing up; this after she had seen the state of my thighs (whilst showering). On this occasion she wasn’t commenting on the cellulite fest that is progressively creeping across the continental scale fleshy mass at the top of my legs!

No the climbing up my legs and the biting has got a little bit beyond cute. Now it’s just PAINFUL and sore – it looks like I’ve got some form of aging eczema. I have a postcard of Louise Bourgeois hands at 80 and they are beautiful as they describe her creative journey poignantly. My hands, however, look like they are in need of the urgent intervention of a skin specialist!

It’s now 6.55 pm and I am wondering how much longer I leave her there. What if she needs the kitty bathroom? How long before she gets dehydrated? Or starves? I am over reacting. How will she know what she is being punished for? Where is Super Nanny for kittens when you need her? Should I ask the vet about pussy Ritalin?  

Perhaps I’ll listen to the Archers and then go and see if she has calmed down.

OK I’ll distract myself with another anecdote for your amusement. Have I mentioned that a gated community is being built in Barry? There is an open day on Saturday and I am tempted to go along just to see the proposed layout. The gate size, criteria for admission and protocol for residents ~ the kind of things that the kind of person who would be attracted to a gated community might be interested in.

Have I made a mistake getting a kitten at my advanced age? She is getting difficult to manage. Her acute interest in the new television, and the pawing of the screen, makes the experience of relaxing in front of Desperate Housewives a challenge. Mmm talking of which that is on later which means I have time to finish work chores before leaving my desk. Bugger! (Here end the inserted element written on Wednesday).

At this point the telephone rings and it is my mother. I outline the current kitty in box situation and sage like former infant school teacher mother says perhaps it is time to introduce some discipline! Mother has never had a pet. The height of the Medley menagerie was a tank of tropical fish! I always remember when the heater in the tank was faulty, and basically boiled the fish in the water; my father looked at the carnage and said ‘it’s a pity they’re too small to have on toast!

I walk into the dining room where the cat basket cum pussy naughty step is. I creep towards the basket which is suspiciously quiet. Peering in I see that it is empty! Madam has squeezed out of the old fashioned wicker basket; the leather straps remain intact. As I turn round, saying to my mother ‘she’s got out’, Arabella saunters down the stairs!

The 42 year old spinster has failed to discipline a 12 week old kitten! OMG how embarrassingly pathetic is this shortcoming! My only diminutive companion has won this battle. Later in the week repeated tapping on the nose whilst saying ‘no’ firmly seems to work but I’m not convinced this is over yet.

Talking of embarrassment I had to go to the doctor’s to ask for one of my prescription drugs earlier than normally needed. In my less than usually organised state I have apparently lost a box of said item; keeping a stash to ensure I always have them has not worked. So safely are they secreted that the hiding place is not known to me (although I am the one who did the hiding). Who thought this strategy was a good one for someone with memory challenges?

Having made my confession to the doctor he comes up with an overly complicated solution involving giving me a split interim prescription thereby allowing me to be in the same position had I not mislaid the box. I acquiesce as he obviously has reasons for this approach; one that could be linked to him seeing the price when writing the prescription.

I like this doctor for a range of reasons not least of all that he seems to be rather more up to date on his knowledge of current drug therapy. The fact that he is rather cute doesn’t distract from the experience either. He is probably at least 10 years my junior which means I am displaying cougar type behaviour; nothing wrong with this!

This doctor always has time to talk and, because this is unusual, one could be mistaken for thinking his interest in his patient is personal. One must remember this is just responsible GP practice. So when he asks who else there is at home, because the strength of the drug he has just prescribed I answer ‘just me oh and a kitten’. He laughs, (as if reflecting on my response), and repeats ‘and a kitten’!

I thought about the question afterwards as he’s has never shown any interest in who else might be in ‘danger’. He had followed up his question by commenting on the toxicity of the drug and we had discussed the fact that this drug had featured in a Lydia la Plante adaptation on TV recently. Was he fishing or just being a responsible doctor?

OFHS (oh for heaven’s sake) woman get a grip! There are so many reasons why this question would be inappropriate if it was for any reason other than being a modern day Doctor Finlay! He did seem more interested (today) in my condition and the other medics who interfere in the various symptom manifestations. (Sorry of course what I meant to say was, the qualified professionals who form part of the comprehensive package of support provided by the NHS.)

I told him the names of the consultants deliberately omitting the specialist nurses for no particular reason other than it didn’t seem important.

Besides some of the symptoms are not something a Cougar would choose to share with potential prey! For clarity I AM JOKING. If the Cougar references are passing you by the go to the blog for that particular post – I’ll get my subscribers number up if I have to drag you sophisticatedly kicking and screaming!

On an entirely unrelated, moving swiftly along, note flat peaches are back in season. You may remember I wrote about the subtle flavour of this variety last year. Visit Morrisons for 4-5 peaches for a £1 and enjoy!

And finally there are still spaces left for the next Salon with Catrin Finch on 27 June so please check your availability as you won’t be disappointed I promise in completely confident sophistication.

I am hoping to circulate an autumn Salon programme with two guests already confirmed. I am considering moving away from Monday nights to allow those of you dedicated evening class attendee’s to come along. Perhaps a Tuesday, a Wednesday and a Thursday?

One of most the time consuming, and a tad onerous, tasks associated with the Salons is booking and enticing you to commit yourselves to coming along. I’m certainly not complaining rather trying to find ways to streamline the process. So I am toying with offering an autumn discount if you book the whole season. I know planning is key and as a strategic planner I will be exploiting the delights of forward diarising!

Let me know what you think – would you be interested in booking in advance? The Salon programme will be moving to the areas of women exploring interesting issues as well as those who have succeeded in business/creativity. The feminist conscious in me has been pricked recently by some of the ‘issues’ that have raised their heads politically.

And I will end of something that I came across whilst being introduced to the delights of the French patisserie on Whitchurch Road (Cardiff). As I glanced down tucked discretely on a ledge below the counter were leaflets advertising shows of interest. One in particular caught my eye (as it was most certainly designed to). Somehow it jarred with the sophistication of the culinary offer.

The Lady Boys of Bangkok is coming to the Sabai Pavilion in front of the WMC with a show called Fur Coats and French Knickers!  The experience is on offer from 17 to 25 June should you be interested. The enticing strap line ‘The Lady Boys of Bangkok are Boisterous, Beautiful and Back!’ and ‘Adorned in fur and unlike the famous saying they definitely have something underneath.. French knickers’.

All of this on the day where the news is all about how we sexualise young people too much today – the society today is far too diverse for my granny and I am glad I never had to tackle explaining the Big Society to her! I pity those of us vulnerable citizens who will be on the receiving end as the government steps back from being the guardian of care.

Oh bugger there’s something else that those of us with chronic long term incurable conditions have to contend with as if I’m not busy enough already! Do excuse me I’m off to sit in a darkened room with a camomile tea! Remind me why I gave up alcohol – oh yes it was something to do with the desire not to be in pain!

I leave you in a sophisticated swoon or as the Victorian’s would have said experiencing ‘a touch of the vapours’!

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