Jaqui's Daily Blog

<p><span style="font-size: 18px;">I am not sure why I started out on this task but somehow or other it must have seemed important at the time.</span></p> <p><br /><span style="font-size: 18px;">I think it was when my purse burst open for the umpteenth time. I didn't realise what had happened until I came to pay the Lovely Margaret on the cash desk at the local Co-op and had to scrabble about in the farthest reaches of my handbag to find &pound;4.76 in loose change. As change goes, it was very, well, loose.</span></p> <p><br /><span style="font-size: 18px;">I knew exactly why it had happened, even if I couldn't specify precisely when. My purse is jammed full, not of cash (I am sorry to say) but of loyalty cards, most of them promising me a free cup of coffee on my ninth, or more likely tenth, purchase. I'm a sucker for loyalty cards, particularly when they are Coffee Related.</span></p> <p><br /><span style="font-size: 18px;">So today I decided on a tidy out - and what a trip along Memory Lane opened up before me! Scattered around me are a couple of dozen cards, each one of them a reminder of coffees quaffed, company enjoyed, special places - and, inevitably, places which might not be special but have something of interest if you just know where to look for it.</span></p> <p><br /><span style="font-size: 18px;">Here is my Loyalty Card for beautiful Warnham Nature Reserve, which I have visited on several occasions with my Birdy Group. "Offering excellence in foods and service" it says on the front. I only have to buy five coffees to get one free, which makes it the best value of all my cards. In three more visits I will claim my prize! Though I'd give it up in a twinkling of an eye for just another sight of a kingfisher, posing on a branch above the water's edge looking as if he has just hopped out of a postcard. I've had some great times there, sitting round a long table with my fellow birdwatchers, drinking coffee and watching the resident mouse scuttling about in his cage.</span></p> <p><br /><span style="font-size: 18px;">Here's my Loyalty Card from the coffee shop on Chichester Railway Station - buy 10 cups, get one free. I am just three cups adrift. When I was working on the Great War Project, spending long hours in the County Records Office researching the lives of Albert the Gardener and Ernest the Farm Boy, I just missed my train home on so many occasions. Well, okay, on precisely seven occasions - I have the evidence here in my hand.</span></p> <p><br /><span style="font-size: 18px;">Oh, dear, I've turned up my Loyalty Card from the health club where I used to swim long, stately lengths in the beautiful pool, under the worried gaze of the lifeguard who couldn't quite believe anyone could swim breast-stroke so very slowly and had to keep checking I was still alive. How I used to look forward to my medium skinny latte in the caf&eacute; after my swim, with the daily newspapers for company. How sad it is that I gave up my membership before claiming the free coffee to which my card tells me I am entitled.</span></p> <p><br /><span style="font-size: 18px;">I collected two stamps from the Mad Hatter's Tea Parlour when the Grand Old Lady broke down on the way to Choir a couple of years ago and I went to fetch Mr B and myself a warming drink while we were waiting to be rescued. I am also half way through my stamp collection for a free drink at The Happy Teapot, where my fellow Trustees from Voluntary Action Worthing have staged several invigorating War Councils. Both the Mad Hatter's Tea Parlour and The Happy Teapot are My Kind of Coffee Shop, with their walls festooned with interesting slogans, fancy cloths on every table and a fascinatingly delicious selection of pastries set out on the counter to tempt anyone who is Always Thinking of her Stomach.</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: 18px;">My most useful Loyalty Card is for the caf&eacute; in the Heene Community Centre where the Bacon Bap Brigade meets every Friday after our Singing for Pleasure choir session. I have lost count of the number of free coffees I have been able to claim from Ever Cheery Kevin who treats all his customers like long-time friends.</span></p> <p><br /><span style="font-size: 18px;">I do seem to have any number of cards from coffee shops where I have evidently enjoyed a single cup of coffee but never returned. Sadly, I can't even remember where most of them are. Is it worth keeping them, do you think, in case I happen across one of them at some time in the future? "Do you have one of our Loyalty Cards?" the barista will ask - at which I will turn out my purse there and then and shower the counter with cards as I search for the right one, the one which will prove my loyalty.</span></p> <p><br /><span style="font-size: 18px;">I pack all but one or two of the cards back into my purse. These coffee shops are desperate for my custom, I feel sure. Otherwise why would they bother to make me such generous offers?</span></p> <p><br /><span style="font-size: 18px;"> What price loyalty? I ask myself.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 18px;">&nbsp;</span></p>

I am not sure why I started out on this task but somehow or other it must have seemed important at the time.


I think it was when my purse burst open for the umpteenth time. I didn't realise what had happened until I came to pay the Lovely Margaret on the cash desk at the local Co-op and had to scrabble about in the farthest reaches of my handbag to find £4.76 in loose change. As change goes, it was very, well, loose.


I knew exactly why it had happened, even if I couldn't specify precisely when. My purse is jammed full, not of cash (I am sorry to say) but of loyalty cards, most of them promising me a free cup of coffee on my ninth, or more likely tenth, purchase. I'm a sucker for loyalty cards, particularly when they are Coffee Related.


So today I decided on a tidy out - and what a trip along Memory Lane opened up before me! Scattered around me are a couple of dozen cards, each one of them a reminder of coffees quaffed, company enjoyed, special places - and, inevitably, places which might not be special but have something of interest if you just know where to look for it.


Here is my Loyalty Card for beautiful Warnham Nature Reserve, which I have visited on several occasions with my Birdy Group. "Offering excellence in foods and service" it says on the front. I only have to buy five coffees to get one free, which makes it the best value of all my cards. In three more visits I will claim my prize! Though I'd give it up in a twinkling of an eye for just another sight of a kingfisher, posing on a branch above the water's edge looking as if he has just hopped out of a postcard. I've had some great times there, sitting round a long table with my fellow birdwatchers, drinking coffee and watching the resident mouse scuttling about in his cage.


Here's my Loyalty Card from the coffee shop on Chichester Railway Station - buy 10 cups, get one free. I am just three cups adrift. When I was working on the Great War Project, spending long hours in the County Records Office researching the lives of Albert the Gardener and Ernest the Farm Boy, I just missed my train home on so many occasions. Well, okay, on precisely seven occasions - I have the evidence here in my hand.


Oh, dear, I've turned up my Loyalty Card from the health club where I used to swim long, stately lengths in the beautiful pool, under the worried gaze of the lifeguard who couldn't quite believe anyone could swim breast-stroke so very slowly and had to keep checking I was still alive. How I used to look forward to my medium skinny latte in the café after my swim, with the daily newspapers for company. How sad it is that I gave up my membership before claiming the free coffee to which my card tells me I am entitled.


I collected two stamps from the Mad Hatter's Tea Parlour when the Grand Old Lady broke down on the way to Choir a couple of years ago and I went to fetch Mr B and myself a warming drink while we were waiting to be rescued. I am also half way through my stamp collection for a free drink at The Happy Teapot, where my fellow Trustees from Voluntary Action Worthing have staged several invigorating War Councils. Both the Mad Hatter's Tea Parlour and The Happy Teapot are My Kind of Coffee Shop, with their walls festooned with interesting slogans, fancy cloths on every table and a fascinatingly delicious selection of pastries set out on the counter to tempt anyone who is Always Thinking of her Stomach.

 

My most useful Loyalty Card is for the café in the Heene Community Centre where the Bacon Bap Brigade meets every Friday after our Singing for Pleasure choir session. I have lost count of the number of free coffees I have been able to claim from Ever Cheery Kevin who treats all his customers like long-time friends.


I do seem to have any number of cards from coffee shops where I have evidently enjoyed a single cup of coffee but never returned. Sadly, I can't even remember where most of them are. Is it worth keeping them, do you think, in case I happen across one of them at some time in the future? "Do you have one of our Loyalty Cards?" the barista will ask - at which I will turn out my purse there and then and shower the counter with cards as I search for the right one, the one which will prove my loyalty.


I pack all but one or two of the cards back into my purse. These coffee shops are desperate for my custom, I feel sure. Otherwise why would they bother to make me such generous offers?


What price loyalty? I ask myself.

 

Mr B reckons I am not saucy enough. After fifty years of marriage, you might think it's a bit late to hit me with such bad news.


Worry not, dear reader, it's nothing too personal: Mr B is talking about my mincemeat which is, quite simply, too bland. He is joined in his honest opinion, kindly meant, by the Youngest of the Darling Daughters, who advises me to add a Saucy Mixture of soy sauce, HP sauce and Worcester sauce. Why add one sauce, she doesn't exactly say, but I'm sure she means it, when you could add three?


When Our Foursome were littl'un, mincemeat was not so much our Dish of Choice as our Dish of Necessity. With added lentils and , it went such a very long way when you had a large, hungry family to feed. Clearly my children had a deprived childhood, valiantly eating up their cottage pie while pining for extra sauce.


Today I didn't have much time to worry about the sauciness of my cooking because it was the Questers' quarterly meeting in the morning and cribbage in the afternoon. Saucy or not, this gal knows how to have fun.


I was later than intended at the Questers' meeting on account of having to scrape ice of the Grand Old Lady before I could drive her to our meeting place in the Ferring Village Hall. I think it's because Mr B always attended to such matters when I was a Working Gal - so that I could waltz out of the house at 8.10 precisely and back the car out of the drive, windscreen, rear window, wing mirrors and all clear of any ice. On my last visit to the Youngest of the Darling Daughters, my Son In Law (aka Uncle Dunk'em Dave to the younger set) cleared my car of ice without me even realising he had done it till I ventured out, ready to tackle the job for myself. I was quite teary with gratitude.


The hall was packed, as per usual, but I had time to find a seat, show my membership card, pay in my money for future Questers visits and pay my 30p for coffee and a biscuit (how's that for value!) before the meeting started in earnest.


You are wanting to know, I am sure, whether I obeyed Mr B's instructions to sit on my hands every time a call went up for a volunteer. Well, I did - and I didn't. I managed to resist temptation right through to the very end of the meeting when the subject of the seafront gardens came up and whether we should Adopt a Garden. I don't know exactly what happened but my arm sort of lifted off my lap and into the air, all of its own accord. I also, kind of, said I would investigate the background to the new Costume Trail around the town which might make a good "Behind the Scenes" visit. It was a good thing the meeting ended when it did or heaven only knows what my Errant Arm would have let me in for...


At cribbage I demonstrated my Misfit to the assembled company. Bill said, why didn't I just get a dog which would need walking twice a day? He does have a point. Especially as I have hardly walked at all today, being Otherwise Occupied. It's a pity the Misfit doesn't register either Good Intentions or Winning Ways on the Cribbage Front. Either way I'd be an Achiever instead of an Also Ran. Or, more accurately, an Also Walked.


Back home and in the kitchen, I coopted Mr B into measuring out the required amounts of sauce into my mincemeat dish. It was a first outing for the Super Saucepan which acquitted itself reasonably well, apart from burning my hand as I struggled to heave it out of the oven.


Mr B said the mincemeat was a little too strong on the Sauce Front. This was nothing to do with his measurements of soy: Worcester: HP, he averred, but all to do with the fact that the size and depth of the Super Saucepan meant that considerably more gravy was required. Which meant it was, if course, All My Fault. There was only one retort I could reasonably make:


"What a sauce!"

Which of our two new DVDs did I fancy watching, Mr B enquired solicitously. Obviously, by handing me the choice, it would be All My Fault should the film I opted for be what I think is known in the film world as a Rotten Tomato. I may be doing my Other Half a disservice but I don't think so.


The choice (just so that you can decide which you would have preferred - I like a little audience participation on the Daily Blog) was between "Suffragette" starring Carey Mulligan or "45 Years" with Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay in the lead roles. Not an easy decision.


Eventually, after due consideration and squinting at the small print on the back of both DVDs, I opted for "45 Years." It seemed appropriate, as it concerns a couple about to celebrate 45 years of marriage with a big party. How would it compare, I mused, with our Golden Wedding celebrations last year?


One important distinction between Tom and Charlotte's celebration and ours was that a Secret From The Past was about to blow apart the carefully constructed fabric of their life together. This didn't happen to us, or, if it did, Mr B forgot to tell me.


Twenty minutes into the film we agreed that there wasn't a great deal of, well, action. I mean, a film doesn't have to have that much action to please us - it doesn't have to go as far as Daniel Craig jumping about on the top of an express train, trying not to get shot. But, really, the most exciting piece of action in "45 Years" was when Charlotte pulled down the loft ladder and clambered up into the attic.


Considering they were organising a big celebration, where were all the last minute phone calls, the occasionally fraught discussions about timing? Perhaps we were missing the point - all the reviews I read later raved about the "shattering, shivery marital drama" and the "sensitive and devastating portrait about a long, happy marriage in sudden crisis."


But, you see, these two simply didn't interact like a long, happily married couple. They didn't finish each other's sentences, they didn't look at each other and smile (or grimace) when a friend or acquaintance made a remark they had heard a hundred times before. There was no sense of history between them.


I will give you an example: you should never play Taboo with the Eldest of the Darling Daughters and her fella. They give each other clues like "It's your unfavourite breakfast" or "It's that place we'll never go again!" Nobody stands a chance against them. We have stopped allowing them to be on the same team. Long, happily married couples have their own secret language - not one they have studied, all verbs, nouns and adjectives, but one developed over the years through loving experience.


In case you are wondering why the Daily Blog has inexplicably turned its hand to film reviews, I must explain. Over this last week it has been "back to normal" for many of our social activities following the Christmas and New Year break. As we reconvene, there's one question everyone wants to ask me: how is Mr B? Everyone loves him and everyone, it seems, has noticed that he no longer accompanies me to choir, to cribbage, on Questers trips, to monthly meetings of the U3A. They have become accustomed to seeing us as a couple at these meetings, he heading off to the kitchen to source coffee and biscuits, me saving our chairs and prodding him awake when he drops off during the more boring moments.

When I explain how difficult life is for him these days, how hard it is to get out and about and to keep his spirits up, everyone is sad to hear it. They ask me to give him their love and best wishes then invariably add: "It must be so hard for you, too..."


Well, sometimes it is - hospital and doctor's appointments are a regular nightmare and I am constantly worried about him if I'm away from home for a whole, or even half a day, though Mr B avers, stoutly, that he likes me going out, doing my own thing, enjoying myself. I'm not sure if it's the peace and quiet he craves or the fact that I come back armed with all the gossip. As regular readers know, I can spin a story out of the most unpromising material.


Mostly, however, I just love taking care of him. I take enormous pleasure if, by lucky chance, I manage to anticipate his random requests. I'm immensely proud of myself when I think up a new way of coping with the latest challenge. I enjoy so much our sessions when I read aloud to him - we are reading Harry Redknapp's latest book at the moment. He laughs his head off every time I - who rarely swear - have to read aloud a particularly juicy piece of verbiage.


Caring for someone you have loved for years brings its own rewards and, believe me, they are without number. There's a new closeness, there's still fun and laughter and easy companionship.


Every act of care is A Kind of Loving.


They made a film about that, too, didn't they?

I am sure you are all eager to know how I am getting along with my Misfit.


Well, to be honest, I'm not sure at all as the only person who has shown any interest in my progress, or (more likely) lack of progress, is the Youngest of the Darling Daughters and this is only because I have taken to emailing her daily updates, to which she generally responds with a few well-chosen words of encouragement.


When I walked all the way to the Post Office at the end of the road and back in the pouring rain on Thursday (I was on a mission to post a very important document by Special Delivery) she was quick to commiserate with me on the fact that I failed to tot up as many steps as anticipated - and she made the totally reasonable point that I should have been awarded double points for walking in the rain and getting soaked through. Unfortunately Miss Fit only measures steps, miles and calories and doesn't appear to be able to factor in Weather Related Issues. She also reckons the distance from our house to the end of the road where the Post Office sits is only just over half a mile while my car, the Grand Old Lady, has always assured me that it is 0.7 miles.


I rather think Miss Fit is fibbing, being more inclined to believe my car who is, indeed, Grand, Old (14 years next month) and most definitely a Lady, especially since being treated to a complimentary wash and brush-up at the garage to compensate for the angst of going through her MOT. Maybe my Misfit is a Misfibber?


Up until today, the best score I had managed on the Walking Front was 798 out of 1000. Not bad, I can hear you saying - but on the succeeding days I hardly reached halfway. I therefore decided that today I should attempt to work out exactly where, and for how long, I needed to walk in order to succeed.


I started by taking the long way round to the shops and back. Miss Fit described this as "Moderate Activity." Well, it may be only "moderate" to you, Madam, but I'll have you know I was lugging two shopping bags on the way home which should, surely, have been worth extra. By my calculations I would need to visit the local shops three or four times a day to get anywhere near my 1000 points. This fitness lark could start being very costly.


My best performance was walking to and from Church last Sunday but even that didn't help me hit the Magic Number. However if I could add in a round trip to the Post Office at the end of the road on a Sunday that might just do the trick. The Post Office, of course, won't be open on a Sunday but let's not quibble about minor details...


This afternoon I needed to go to Tesco's to collect a few essentials for Mr B. Normally I would take the car but - you're there before me, I can tell. Well, no, not to Tesco's, obviously. Would a walk to a Tesco's and back, added to my "Moderate Activity" of the morning add up to 1000 points? I reckoned that, as Mr B was engrossed in watching Spurs play West Bromwich Albion on TV, he wouldn't miss me if I were a little longer than usual. It would be a good piece of research anyway, I told myself, setting off from home with a spring in my step and a certain enthusiasm.


My steps were not quite so springy and my enthusiasm had flagged somewhat by the time I arrived outside the Community Centre on the edge of Tesco's car park. I thought I might call into the café there for a restorative cuppa but it was closed. A notice outside warmly welcomed members of a visiting Short Mat Bowls Club but the doors were firmly closed to non-bowlers. Of which, sadly, since my old club closed, I am one.


I walked up and down all the supermarket aisles, taking not a bit of notice of the products on sale. Every step I took, a step nearer my target. When I found, on leaving the supermarket, that a security tag had been left on one of my purchases, it didn't worry me in the least having to retrace my steps. Every little helps. As someone once said.


On the way home it started to spit with rain. The sign at the bus stop said the Pulse bus would be along in two minutes. Resolutely I set my face against temptation and marched on. By the time I reached the next bus stop, however, the rain was heavier and the Pulse - my favourite bus - was trundling towards me. I could resist no longer..target, or no target.


At home, I consulted Miss Fit to check by how many steps I had missed my target. Unbelievably, a whole shiny circle of dots lit up and flashed congratulations at me. A thousand points gained! Moreover, I had engaged in "Vigorous Activity." That's right - vigorous. It means strong, healthy, full of energy. My Trusty Thesaurus suggests synonyms like mettlesome, ardent, zealous, passionate. Or, alternatively, wild, uncontrolled, unrestrained, unbridled. It seems I have become A Whole New Person.


And all it took was a trip to the supermarket.

 

Latest comments

07.12 | 15:48

what details have you got on your mysterious Wilde?

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01.12 | 23:56

And so say all of us!!!

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29.10 | 22:07

Your words are true magic and like us Adam has a great future ahead of him.
He has a mesmerising presence on stage and a voice to match

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04.10 | 09:06

If it's still there at the weekend I will be selling the tooth on eBay with plastic case.

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