Friday, 27 April 2007


Why are people so f**king stupid today!?

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Freecycle Ups and Downs

I like Freecycle. At least, today I like Freecycle. Last week I didn't like Freecycle very much at all.

I like Freecycle today because I have just been to pick up a lawn-mower from a lovely lady who lives just down the road. It's apparently four years old but it looks brand-spanking new. Huzzah!

I didn't like Freecycle last week because I seemed to choose nearly all the wrong people to give the items to. It went something like this:

Mini hi-fi - lovely single mum with autistic daughter turned up to collect. A bit late but she at least had the courtesy to ring and let me know. So far so good.

Sony Stereo system & Double ring gas camping stove - two items, lots of interest but one chap wanted them both so I went with him. I had specified that they must be collected on the Sunday in the ad because we were clearing out the flat and would be there to hand them over. Not a problem he said. Then he e-mailed to say he would be there in the evening so I packed them up and left them outside the door for him. Monday morning, another e-mail to say he would now be there Monday evening. Monday evening, another e-mail to say he would be there Tuesday. By Wednesday I gave up. Re-advertised the stereo and contacted another chap who had been very keen on the stove and arrived to pick it up on Thursday morning as arranged.

Sony Stereo System take 2 - a lady who'd missed out the first time contacted me again and we arranged for her to pick it up on Thursday evening. No show. She rang on Friday to say she hadn't been able to make it and OH told her it would be there until 10am on Saturday morning. By 2pm on Saturday no sign of her.

Scanner - a lady arranged to pick this up on Wednesday evening. On Thursday I had an e-mail to say her brother was in the area and would pick it up for her. No-show. I e-mailed her and she promised it would be picked up Friday. By Saturday still no sign.

Printer - picked up as agreed on Thursday evening. Hoo bloody ray.

I was almost on the point of giving up on Freecycle completely but there are one or two people do restore your faith in the system. A local group wanted items for a fund-raising Spring Fayre. I offered them 10 boxes of books and five boxes of bric a brac and they turned up on Saturday afternoon and took the lot. Including the scanner and stereo that still hadn't been collected.

But now I have my lawn-mower I'm a very happy bunny. *sighs*

Friday, 20 April 2007

I'm NOT a girlie. Honest!

Yesterday I went to Ikea. We needed a TV table with a shelf underneath for the video and DVD. Shouldn't have been too much of a problem, even at Ikea. It had to be a certain depth as there isn't much room in the lounge. I knew the maximum depth it could be and after ruling out my first choice because it was too big, settled on a coffee table which would do the job instead.

The first problem came at the check-out. The Beech finish I had chosen was priced up in the showrooms at £29.90 but it rang up as £39.90 at the till. 20 minutes later and dash round the store with a supervisor revealed that that was a promotional price that should have finished last week and no-one had changed the price labels. Well, I know my rights and, fortunately, so did the supervisor and she agreed that they had to sell it to me at the reduced price.

Then came the second problem. Went to pay for everything and my debit card was declined. Three times. I was incensed. I knew there was more than enough money in my account to pay for it. Fortunately they took cheques. Several phone calls to my bank when I got home revealed why it was declined. Although my on-line statement showed sufficient funds, the two cheques I paid in recently hadn't cleared. So although I appeared to have lots of money, I didn't actually have very much at all. After having a bank account for nearly 30 years, you'd have thought I would have twigged that wouldn't you? I really do wish they wouldn't show the funds as being available when they're not.

So, fast forward to this morning. I was awake early so decided I'd start assembling the table. Everything was going well until OH decided to get up and start overseeing what I was doing.

"You need to put that bit in first"

"No, I don't"

"Yes you do. It says so in the instructions"

"No it doesn't. It says you have to put this bit in first, then that bit"

"Oh, I suppose it does. But it would be easier if you put that bit before this bit"

"Do you want to do this? No? Then shut up and let me get on with it."

Because I'm not a girlie. I can handle a screw driver and a few screws and wooden dowels and it really isn't that difficult. First point to me then.

"Ummmmm" says OH. "Is that the size of it?"


"It's too big"

I sit back and look at it and had to concede he had a point. I get out the tape measure (because I'm not a girlie and I can handle one of those too) and measure the table and wander into the lounge to measure the space it's to fit in.


So concerned was I with the depth that I failed to take into account the width. It's too big. I swore. A lot. Second and fairly important point to OH then.

I'm not a girlie. Really I'm not. I just seem to have had a momentary lapse.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007


This morning I've been down to the Royal Marsden Hospital for my regular post-cancer blood test.

Walking out of the car park towards the hospital I was passed by a silver Mercedes sports car driven by a 60-something, silver-haired, fake-tanned man. That in itself is worthy of a chuckle, but even more chuckle-inducing was the number plate. I haven't quite worked out what the letters actually were but they were manipulated so the number plate read "ANIMAL". How sad, I thought, laughing to myself, that this man still thinks he has something to prove at his age.

Then he followed me into the waiting room, clutching his blood test forms. I have no idea if he has cancer, has had cancer or is going through the ordeal of waiting to find out if he does have cancer. Whichever, I suddenly realised that, you know, what the hell? If he does have this illness looming over him, why the hell shouldn't he go out in a blaze of sports cars and naff number plates? Who am I to judge anyone dealing with cancer in whatever way works for them?

Books and covers spring to mind.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

An update

I keep forgetting to mention that just over a month ago, I joined Weight Watchers. I am not grossly overweight but overweight enough for me to feel uncomfortable. My problem is finding the motivation to actually give up th things I know I shouldn't be eating so Weight Watchers seemed an ideal solution. I hoped that knowing I would have to weigh-in every week would focus my mind. And so it has proved. In four weeks I have lost 8.5lb and feel amazingly better already, just another 7lb to go and I reach my target weight.

The final push to move all our stuff from the flat to the cottage has begun in earnest. Our landlord has been great and we have no deadline to be out of the flat so we can take our time but it seems silly to continue paying rent unnecessarily and we are aiming to be out by the end of April. So on Tuesday evening, a colleague who doubles as a man with a van in his spare time is coming to help us move the big items and today we have been clearing out 13 years of accumulated stuff. We have three piles: Keep, Jumble Sale and Complete and Utter Rubbish. Luckily our local church hall has a jumble sale on 28th April and they are not going to know what's hit them when we arrive with two car fulls of boxes for them! If we were of a mind, I'm sure we could be a jumble sale all of our own.

I thought the hardest part would be sorting out the some 2000 books we have. I collect books like they are going out of fashion and as we had the space for them, it wasn't a problem. Unfortunately we don't have that space anymore so some of them had to go. But it's proved easier than I thought and I reckon at least half the books have been boxed up for the jumble sale. There are less coming to the cottage than I anticipated so I will have at least some room to go out and buy more. Huzzah!

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Visual DNA

A few people have done this so thought I'd join in. And I'm too brain dead to think of anything else to write so lazy blog it is.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Enough already!!

I didn't sleep well last night. Having had four days off work and knowing that I had a manic schedule in the office today, my mind was working overtime at 4am this morning and positively refused to let me get back to sleep.

Being overtired has not prepared me well for what is going on at the office today. We are having building work done and they are now preparing the ground outside for new cobbled paving. Which means breaking up the concrete with a pneumatic drill and a mini-digger to scoop it all up. All of it within 10ft of my office window.

I'm not sure how much more I can stand.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Today I sang with a Legend

At least, the legend sang, when he knew the words, I just mumbled along singing in the way that only a person who cannot hold a tune in a bucket can sing when in public.......under one's breath. And there were a lot of other people there too. But, technically, I did sing alongside, if not actually with a legend.

Today was Steven's funeral. For someone who alleged that he didn't have many friends, the small crematorium was full and people were standing outside. It is difficult not to be trite when talking of a funeral, so I won't try. It was a lovely service, even if the vicar did insist on calling him Steve when he hated being called that. We saw a lot of people that we hadn't seem for many years - as it ever is at funerals. Funerals remind us of those loved ones we have lost and perhaps several tears are shed for them as well as the person we are there to mourn. Funerals also put us in mind of our own mortality, quickly forgotten once you drive away from the service.

The reading was from a Joyce Grenfell passage, perhaps not an uncommon one for a funeral but poignant nonetheless:

If I should go before the rest of you Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone, Nor when I'm gone speak in a Sunday voice But be the usual selves that I have known. Weep if you must, Parting is hell, But life goes on, So sing as well.

Oh, you want to know who the legend was? Dave Gilmour. Steven would have been in fits of laughter at how starstruck I was. A fitting way, then, to say goodbye.

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Just by coincidence

Stu wrote an interesting blog last week about the fact that one in three adult Americans believe in creationism rather than evolution.

By sheer coincidence there was an article in Saturday's Telegraph magazine on almost the exact same subject. The article, however, focused on the rapid increase in home-schooling by American parents because of what is taught in science classes when children are about 13....evolution. The American religious Right are, according to the article, "increasingly turning to home-schooling, lest their children be exposed to the evils of sex, drugs or – heaven forbid – Darwin". Almost 70% of home-schoolers in Texas are apparently motivated by religious reasons.

This was a fascinating article and there were a few comments from interviewees that had my jaw dropping.

For example, in one household, TV for the children was strictly monitored: The Simpsons are not allowed - "too disrespectful"; nor Harry Potter - 'the Lord is in charge of your life, and in Harry Potter the characters are interested in gaining power for themselves'. Eh? And this comment related to dating had me falling about laughing until it hit me that people do really think like this and that laughing was probably not really an appropriate reaction on my part.... 'We want them to court, not date,' David says. 'Thomas will be ready to court when he is able to support a wife, and if he can't support a wife, he's not ready to look.'

'We don't want people teaching our children that they come from monkeys,
' says one parent, "What happens in biology classrooms is 'a lie'". She firmly believes that the world is only 6,000 years old and that, consequently, man and dinosaurs (created on Day Six, along with Adam and Eve) once lived together quite happily.....which would go some way to proving Stu's thought that Americans don't believe in evolution because they can't imagine a timespan long enough.

And the creationist have an answer for everything. One parent pointed out that it is Noah's flood that is responsible for the existence of fossils. "And as for the vexing question of how Noah got a brachiosaurus, an animal that could have weighed up to 33 tons and eaten 3,000lb of green plants a day on to the Ark – 'He took the young ones. That would make the most sense.'"

I don't have a science background, but my background is farming and if anything can show you how evolution works, farming is it. Perhaps the fact that I occasionally hover around agnosticism but then fall firmly on the side of atheism makes it difficult for me to understand where these people are coming from. There was a time I would have said they were complete fruitloops but, perhaps because age makes one more tolerant, I find myself intrigued by their stories, albeit not to the extent of shaking my beliefs, and amazed at what a diverse lot of people there are inhabiting this world. I'm not entirely sure who is the more naive. Them or me.

The whole article is here.

Friday, 6 April 2007

Warming to the theme

Thank you for your sympathies and helpful comments and I'm really sorry to keep harping on about my medical problems but things get quite interesting when you start digging deeper - if you pardon the pun - for information. And no, Stu, I am not getting passionate about the subject of haemorrhoids, but perhaps passionate about the state of my body. Yes, that sounds much better!

Anyway, apparently, you have an increased risk of getting piles if you:

  • strain to empty your bowels when constipated - nope, not been a problem
  • have chronic diarrhoea - ditto, not had that problem either
  • Anal sex – NO NO NO! With all due respect to those that do, it’s not for me!

  • are pregnant - as the weight of the fetus on your abdomen and the increased blood flow, as well as the effect of hormones on the blood vessels, can increase pressure - DEFNITELY not had that problem!
  • have a family history of piles - piles can run in families and are potentially hereditary, perhaps because of weak veins in the anal area - Is that so? No-one else in my family has ever had piles as far as I'm aware. At least, it's never been mentioned and, OK, it's not necesarily a subject you bring up over Sunday lunch, I'm sure I would have heard an inkling if someone had been suffering.
  • have varicose veins - many people with these also develop piles, although piles are not varicose veins - "varicose veins of the bum" is how my doctor described them but no, I don’t have varicose veins but the way things seem to be going it looks like it might not be long before I get them as well.
  • have cancer or growths in the pelvis or bowel, which may exert pressure in a similar way to a pregnancy – pauses……….now there’s a good reason for not reading about medical problems on the internet. Not worried now. Not worried at all. *whimpers*

Andre mentioned diet, but I do eat well. Plenty of fruit and veg, brown rice and al that other "do you good" food and, as I'm on a diet at the moment, no pigging out on snacks and convenience foods either. Jut good allround healthy stuff in my diet.

And in case you believed that old wives' tale, heamorrhoids are not caused by sitting on cold hard surfaces, prolonged standing or sedentary work. So there.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

It didn't work

Lying down with my legs elevated and applying ice, that is. It didn't work at all. Doctors can be so rubbish with their suggestions so I shall open this up to you all for your suggestions. Apparently half the UK population has suffered from piles (there, I've said it) at some point in their lives, so someone out there reading this blog must have a good suggestion for dealing with them? Please?

It's very uncomfortable and it's all very well the doctor saying that ice will shrink them so you can pop them back in but it doesn't work. If you do manage to pop them back in they very soon, under pressure from natural forces, pop back out again.

So once you've stopped laughing, please help!

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Tonight's activities

Tonight's activities involve lying down, with my legs elevated and putting ice where no sane person should ever have to put ice.

And don't think I'm about to tell you why, because I'm not.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Disappearing tricks and operations

Lurcher No.1 has had me with my heart in my mouth twice today.

Firstly, she pulled a disappearing trick on our morning walk. She's too damn clever by half this dog and, if she sees me taking a particular path, she'll sometimes take either a parallel path or cut diagonally across and meet me further down the path I'm on. This morning she was right behind me and, when my attention was on Lurcher No. 2 and some labradors up ahead (he doesn't like labradors much and has a tendency to launch himself at them), took herself off through the woods to meet me further on down the path. But I didn't see her go and went from having a lovely walk to flat out panic in about 60 seconds when she didn't respond to my call. After 10 minutes and still no sign of her, I hysterically called OH to come and help me find her.

Fortunately I met another dog walker coming up the path who had seen her further down in the woods where she was
completely unfazed and was apparently just carrying on enjoying her walk! 10 minutes later she decided she didn't want to be on her own anymore and came running back to my frantic calls wondering what all the fuss was about.

As my mate Lisa had to point out to me, it was all my fault because Lurcher No. 1 wasn't lost at all, she knew exactly where she was going and if I'd just stuck to my planned walk, there wouldn't have been a problem. Lisa's such a good pal!

The second reason for worry was that Lurcher No.1 had to go into the vet for an operation this morning. If you have dogs, or any pets, with perhaps the exception of goldfish, you'll know that having them go under a general anaesthetic is always worrying. She had to have a small lump removed from her neck which we think is just a histio cytoma, because the gals at Greyhound Gap know these things, whereas my vet wasn't diagnosing anything until the lump was off and biopsies done.

At 1pm came the usual phone call
"She's fine but could you come and get her, PLEASE!!?" As soon as she comes round she starts rooing and barking, disturbing all the other patients in recovery and driving them generally round the wall! So she's home now and lying on her bed gently whimpering and feeling sorry for herself. She really doesn't do poorly terribly well.

Sunday, 1 April 2007


Tagged by Dakota (sorry it's taken me a while to get to it!)

A- Available or Single? – Ummm...neither actually!
B- Best Friends? – Lots but Niki, Ali and Ginny immediately spring to mind.
C- Cake or Pie? – Pie
D- Drink of Choice? – Water, coffee or herbal tea
E- Essential item? – PC
F- Favourite Colour? – Black
G- Gummi Bears or Worms? – Neither
H- Hometown? – Born in Cardiff, South Wales. Live in London
I- Indulgence? – Hmmm......sleeping in
J- January or February? – January, my birthday!
K- Kids and Names? – None of those!
L- Life is incomplete without? – Living
M- Marriage Date? – No way not never
N- Number of Siblings? – Two younger step-brothers
O- Oranges or Apples? – Oranges
P- Phobias/Fears? – Ladders
Q- Favourite Quote? – A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time. When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, The one I feed the most
R- Reasons to smile? – The sun is shining!
S- Season? – Assuming this means a favourite one....Autumn
T- Tag 3 People? – Nah, go ahead and do it if you feel like it!
U- Unknown Fact About Me? – If I told you it wouldn't be unknown anymore would it!?
V- Vegetable You Hate? – Broad beans
W- Worst Habit? – Thinking I know the right way to do everything when I don't.
X- X-rays You've Had? – Dental and chest
Y- Your Favourite Foods? – Thai, Chinese
Z- Zodiac? – Aquarius