Jaqui's Daily Blog

Mr B is watching Real Madrid playing Bayern Munich on the TV. I am knitting a lamp-post.


Yes, indeed, you read that correctly. I am knitting a lamp-post. I can just hear the comments. Why not a sweater or a scarf or even a tea-cosy? Who in their right minds sets about knitting a lamp-post? It may be, even, that you are contemplating whether or not I might be an attention-seeker.


I have never knitted a lamp-post before. But then, neither have I ever knitted a brick wall or a piece of pavement but, as you can see from the photo accompanying today’s Blog, I have just managed both of these.  The lamp-post will be my piece de resistance. Possibly.


Let me, like a lamp-post, throw a little light on the subject. (Not like my knitted lamp-post, I must confess, which will never lighten anyone’s darkness, try as I might.) Regular readers may remember that this time last year I was completing a similar piece of knitting for the Worthing Churches Homeless Project’s Art Exhibition.  Last year I knitted a faceless figure clutching a picture of his two small children – to illustrate the plight of one of the WCHP’s clients who wanted to get his life back together again for the sake of his children.  Among the many amazing art works completed by artists so much more talented than I, my knitted figure was outstanding only in as far as it was the only knitted art-work on display.


This year the theme is “Hopes and Dreams” and once again the Lovely Rachel who is organising the event has sent me details of a particular client – Client 41 - whose hopes and dreams I need to portray. I read that he always wanted to be a policeman till life got in the way and sorry circumstances turned his dreams to dust.  I feel sad for him – but relieved because a policeman should be knittable.


My first thought was that I could adapt my Postman Pat pattern but then Mr B looked on e-bay for me and found the perfect pattern. Not just a policeman but a whole scene – including a brick wall and a lamp-post.  I am, as you know, Always Up For A Challenge and it is for a very good cause. The policeman wasn’t too difficult and nor were the brick wall and pavement (though I did get rather sticky gluing everything together.) The lamp-post is a whole different ball game.


For a start, it is all a bit fiddly. First I had to cut out a piece of paper 24 cm square, then place two pencils end to end at one edge and roll the paper tightly around he pencils to form a rolled-up tube, securing it with lashings of Sellotape.  Next I had to knit a long skinny covering to wrap around the tube to form the main part of the post.  If all that wasn’t enough, I still have to fashion the lamp, the base and the lamp-post arm (the bit that sticks out horizontally from the main shaft) and stick the whole thing onto the pavement I knitted earlier.  The lamp-post base looks especially tricky, involving lots of winding of strips of paper, cutting and glueing.  Not what you normally reckon on when embarking on a knitting project.


I wish I was a real artist and could produce a simply stunning portrayal of Client 41’s hopes and dreams.  I can’t wait to see what the other 199 artists come up with when the exhibition opens in June. Hopefully what we will do, collectively, is to help raise awareness of the work of the charity locally and how it works with homeless people to help them turn their lives around.


Everyone has their hopes and dreams. Some of us are fortunate enough to realise them - but some of us are not.


Which is why,  for Client 41, I’m knitting a lamp-post.

I have to confess that, since starting my Daily Blog in June 2012, I have turned into a Bit of a Snooper.


Writers would doubtless call it “gathering material” but I am afraid what this actually entails is quite shameless eavesdropping.  You see, finding something to write about, each and every day, for the enjoyment of you, my loyal readers, can sometimes be a challenge. Some days it is easy, especially when Mr B is in fine form, or the grandchildren come to visit, or we are off on an outing somewhere special. Often, however, I am relying on a conversation overheard, an off-chance remark, a funny or sad happening to shape that day’s Daily Blog. In other words, eavesdropping.


Some experts say that bloggers should draw up Excel spreadsheets, incorporating their next two months' worth of blog themes. This may well make sense but I am far too busy getting on with my life – this life that I am committing to my on-line diary, aka the Daily Blog - to sit around creating Excel spreadsheets. The Daily Blog simply doesn’t work like that.


I don’t set out to eavesdrop, honestly I don’t. At lunchtime today, for example, I was sitting in the Visitors Room at the West Sussex County Archives drinking coffee and eating a rather tasteless egg and cress sandwich which I bought at Tesco Express on my way from the railway station to the Records Office. I am wishing I had made a slight detour to Marks & Spencer whose egg and cress sandwiches on malted bread are far superior to the one I am valiantly munching my way through.  


I am not consciously eavesdropping. In fact I am thinking about Mr and Mrs Peregrine nesting atop Chichester Cathedral, as I had earlier paid a visit to the RSPB tent in the Cloisters Cafe gardens to see what’s occurring at the moment. It turns out that we have a brand new couple of peregrine falcons this year which, sadly, suggests that the Grand Old Lady who has been nesting in the lofty spires for many a year has gone to meet her Maker.  I would like to think that it is one of her many off-spring who has taken over the Family Residence but lovely Anne from the RSPB tells me that this is not the case – these are two complete newcomers. Mrs P had three males vying for her attention; I can’t imagine what it must be like to have so many admirers, not (I say hastily) that Mr B isn’t enough for any gal. I say that I hope she has chosen wisely but it seems this isn’t the way of things in the World of Birds. Rather the three males fought it out for her favours – and a place in her nest – and the Bully Boy among the three has won through. I do hope he will be good to her and that he will keep her well fed as she sits on her four eggs and awaits their eventual hatching.


The words of my two companions in the Visitors Room suddenly permeate my consciousness. They are here to register a relative’s death and they are discussing the Wake which will follow the funeral.  Should they opt for a drink and a biscuit? Sounds a bit mean, they agree. Or Afternoon Tea – what does that actually consist of, they ask each other.  Or, perhaps, a Finger Buffet? One of the two chaps suggests a sit down two course meal at £15 a head. His companion is quick to disagree – not on account of the cost, you understand, but because he says a sit-down meal inevitably means that you might get stuck sitting next to relatives you really don’t want to talk to. The thought of having to make polite conversation with Auntie Aggie or Uncle Hubert (I have made this bit up) was clearly so traumatic that both men were veering towards Afternoon Tea, despite neither of them exactly knowing what they would be serving up to family and friends gathering to celebrate the life of the Dear Departed. It was at this point that the Registrar appeared to invite them into her office so I will never, ever know what was decided. Instead I disposed of the remains of my Unappetising Sandwich in the bin provided and went back into the Search Room to continue my research on the Great War Project. This is the thing about eavesdropping – you rarely hear the end of the story.


I remember one particular Wake, following the funeral of a dear, much-loved uncle.  So much did I enjoy meeting up with family members whom I hadn’t seen for years that I said goodbye to the grieving widow with the wholly inappropriate words: “Thank you so much, I’ve had a lovely time!”


I really, really hope nobody was eavesdropping...

That trailer they keep playing to advertise this week’s instalments of Eastenders is really spooking me out.  I’m not sure if the music is worse than the images or vice-versa but either way I’ll be glad when the week is over.


Mr B and I weaned ourselves off Eastenders several years ago. Up until then, we had been avid followers of the fate and fortunes of the inhabitants of Albert Square but realisation slowly dawned that our acquaintance with them was not bringing us any happiness. Rather the reverse, in fact.  I mean, was there ever a more miserable lot? I am sure we have been much happier since we stopped watching their goings-on.


I blame the fact that they spend all their time either in the launderette or the pub.  I can’t remember the last time I set foot in a launderette though I do recall the early days of my marriage when, in the absence of a washing machine, I would push the pram to what was called (I think) the Washeteria with my first-born tucked in her pram and the week’s washing tucked into the helpful shopping tray hidden among the pram wheels. Presumably it was called the Washeteria to make it sound a bit like Cafeteria – a place of enjoyment? If so, it didn’t work.  I also remember the plight of the young chap from RAF Uxbridge who washed his white uniform belt and gloves in the doubtful company of a pair of bright red socks. He was as miserable as anyone in Eastenders, I can tell you. To be honest, he should have stayed out of the launderette.


Pubs, of course, are supposed to be places of merriment and mirth but how could the Queen Vic live up to its billing with that ever-present bust of Queen “We are not amused” Victoria presiding over the snug? Occasionally I seem to remember a sing-along around a piano – but generally, in true Eastenders style, there would be someone crying into their beer while everyone else was singing “My Old Man Said Follow the Band.”


I think the  Eastenders would be a great deal happier if they spent more time supping decaffeinated skinny lattes in Costa Coffee. Or watching their kids on the swings at the park. Or even, maybe, in the cinema watching Frozen.  Taking the children to school and chatting with other parents at the school gates, watching the littl’uns line up when the bell rings and waving at them as they march into their classrooms. You know, doing the kind of things that the rest of us do. But no, it’s the launderette or the pub, that’s where all the action takes place.


As for Christmas, have you ever known the residents of Albert Square to enjoy a happy, peaceful season, full of tidings of comfort and joy? Oh, dear me, no. Christmas is the signal for the script-writers to delve into the deepest depths of dilemmas, disasters and despair which they will serve up like a malevolent Christmas pudding, ready to explode and spoil everyone’s festive dinner.


When I was a Working Gal, not so very long ago (though it is getting longer all the time) it was much harder living in an Eastender Free Zone because everyone else would be talking in coffee breaks and lunchtimes about the latest happenings in the launderette or the pub and I didn’t know what they were on about. Though as most of the story-lines tend to be regurgitated at regular (or irregular) intervals, and as most of the characters either (i) don’t change or (ii) return as a reformed person or (iii) return as just as horrible a person as they were when they left, I could generally follow the gist of it. That’s another thing, had you ever noticed how many people leave on a bus, or a train (the 10.15 from Walford East) or a taxi? Those who leave in one piece, that is.


Of course it is perfectly possible that everything has changed since I stopped watching. Perhaps couples now fall in love, get married and live happily ever after. That would be a first. Maybe there are lots of jokes in every episode and laugh-out-loud moments punctuate each half an hour’s viewing. Judging by the current trailer, this doesn’t seem too likely.


Apparently there is a murderer in their midst. Not for the first time, it has to be said. Like Morse’s Oxford, is this a place anyone would want to live? I can’t begin to hazard a guess at the identity of the murderer or the type of murder weapon he or she will wield.


But if you’re asking me then my educated guess is that it will happen in the launderette...

I can’t remember an Easter when I haven’t had an Easter Trail to lay or an Easter Egg Hunt to plan.  And while I have to admit that I haven’t missed the agonising wracking of the brains to think up (i) clues or (ii) hiding places, this year does feel somewhat strange without the annual ritual.


Down in Wales, however, the Little Welsh Boys are engaged in an indoor egg hunt of their own.  When I contact them on Facetime this morning, they are rather too pre-occupied with the Search for Chocoholic Treasure to spend much time chatting. Sam, in particular, appears to have appointed himself as Hunter-in-Chief – but then he is the oldest.  Five year old James does break off from the search long enough to show me the DVD of Frozen which they have bought instead of Easter eggs with the money we sent them.  Apparently the shop had sold out of eggs by the time they got there.  I am not sure if I completely believe this or whether it might have been a parental ploy to cut back on the boys’ chocolate consumption – be that as it may I think the DVD is a great idea. It will, after all, last a lot longer than chocolate.  My best conversation is with Young Morgan sitting on his Dad’s lap and singing songs with me – I suspect this is because he hasn’t quite grasped the idea that chocolate eggs are hidden all over the house. Give the boy time....


One year Mr B and I spent Easter in Florida with Team Baldwin. The Youngest of the Darling Daughters and I had no end of trouble finding the wherewithal for a decent Easter Egg Hunt in the American supermarkets. Easter doesn’t seem to be such a big deal over there – or have I missed something? We did, however, manage to buy a set of twelve colourful plastic eggs in which clues could be hidden and which I am still using today. Or, rather, I would be using today if I were laying an Easter trail. 


One of my best Easter Egg Hunts of recent years (though I say it myself, as shouldn’t) was a Picture Trail for Sam and James when they were rather younger than today. I enlisted the help of Jack and Hazel who took photos of lots of objects in the house and garden from slightly unusual angles. Each pictorial clue led, in turn, to another in time-honoured fashion. I seem to remember that, despite Jack and Hazel’s best efforts to confuse them with cunning photo angles, the two Little Welsh Boys (this was in the pre-Morgan days, though nowadays it’s difficult indeed to imagine a World Without Morgan) proved astonishingly adept at solving the picture clues which eventually led them all the way to Easter Egg Treasure Trove.  


After the Easter Service at Church this morning, the Minister doled out Cadbury’s creme eggs to all the children. By the time I reached the door (I’d been chatting to lots of people on my way out) all the kiddies had departed and he still had some goodies left so, despite my Great Age, I was given an egg too. I carried it home to Mr B in great excitement and we divided it up between the two of us. No, I didn’t bother to hide it, that would have been just too much trouble for a Mere Mouthful.


The Middle of the Darling Daughters says I can organise an Easter Trail for Young Faris when I see him next weekend.  As you know, he is But One Year Old so clues, pictorial or otherwise, will probably be beyond him, despite him being a Clever Lad.  So I am taking along my Mega Blocks and am planning to create a trail of them for him to follow, collecting each colourful block in his push-along trolley until he finds Harry Hopalot at the end of the trail.  Harry Hopalot, by the way, looks like the type who stays cheerful against all adversity. He has brown and white ears and paws, a pink nose and an expression which says, as clearly as anything: "Please don't eat me!" I don't hold out a lot of hope for him, bless the bunny. 


The Middle of the Darling Daughters, on hearing my plans, thinks Faris the Intrepid may well have his own idea what to do with the mega blocks. This is more likely to involve hurling the blocks here, there and everywhere than painstakingly collecting them and stowing them carefully in said trolley.


Harry Hopalot and I have been duly warned...

All along the pier, the fishermen are out in fishy force.  Despite the beautiful sunshine, it’s bitingly cold in the wind blowing off the sea so we only stop for a few minutes to enquire after their catch. As in, have they caught anything?


They tell us they are mostly waiting for high tide when the mackerel will be up for grabs (that’s my description but it seems appropriate). Mr B tells the story of his trip across the English Channel with his friend, Britain’s most successful Channel swimmer Kevin Murphy, many years ago, and how the mackerel virtually committed hara kiri, so keen were they to be caught. I’ve heard the story lots of times before, but (unlike some) it’s not one I tire of hearing.  


We are walking along the pier (it’s just like walking on water, according to the promotional blurb) because we are keen to pay a visit to the Southern Pavilion which has just re-opened as a kind of cafe / wedding venue (see picture courtesy of The Worthing Journal.)  The building has been empty for ages – my children and their friends will remember it from the days when it was Worthing’s prime night club. My Boy still likes to tell the story of how someone offered him a good deal of cash if he would sell him his shoes – trainers not being allowed inside the club. He reluctantly turned down the offer for fear of what I would say if he came home having exchanged his best shoes for a smelly pair of trainers.


But that was many years ago – now the Southern Pavilion has been restored to something like its former glory. A smartly dressed front of house man greets us and directs us to join either the “Drinks Queue” or the “Food and Drinks Queue.” Both queues appear to be extremely slow-moving so we reluctantly decide to come back when they are not so busy. We try to sneak out without the Meeter and Greeter seeing us because we don’t want to appear less than supportive of this brand new venture.


There is lots of new art work along the pier to admire, scenes from Old Worthing at the time of the First World War. One picture shows horses being seized from their owners and corralled on the sea-front, ready to be shipped off to France.  Thanks to the story-telling talents of Michael Morpurgo, people know all about the fate of the War Horses now. Theirs was a tale that needed to be told.


Back home after a successful shop, I spend the afternoon pottering about. I stick the latest cuttings in my Limelight Theatre Group scrapbook, put our red choir files in order and start printing out the reports of our Questers visits which I have been re-formatting ready for inclusion in a “Wish You Were Here” book to accompany a U3A exhibition in July. I break off from all this activity to enjoy half an hour Skyping with the Middle of the Darling Daughters and Young Faris.


Faris has learnt lots of new tricks which his Mum encourages him to demonstrate for me. These include the actions to Wheels on a Bus and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star; pointing (though not necessarily at anything specific); wiggling; and scooting along backwards on his scuttlebug. He has also discovered how to climb upstairs and that the cupboard behind his toy box contains an exciting assortment of DVDs which can be hurled about the room making most satisfactory clinking noises as the boxes open and the discs inside cascade onto the floor.


After that I check Facebook and discover that the Swift Family are faring somewhat better at the Charing Point to Point than they did at Brighton dogs the other night. I post a comment asking Eleanor the Hopeful if she bought any raffle tickets but she says she was too busy concentrating on the dogs. “Or even the horses....” her mother posts, by way of correction.


So there you have it, a quiet and – some might say - mostly uneventful day.  But, hey, the sun is shining, the mackerel are leaping, there are many more people on the pier because of the new attraction and some of them may even pause to find out about Worthing’s own War Horses and other local stories from the War That Didn’t End All Wars.  Plus my Little Soldier is thriving again after his hospital stay.


I am counting my blessings.  How many?!

Latest comments

08.04 | 14:26

Did you ever figure out the CGGECCDDECC song?

05.04 | 11:25

does this mean that Mark and Matthew aren't popular any more? PSIL harrumphs about Liam

28.03 | 22:50

Hi there Fiona. I am so glad to have helped. Enjoy your day with your kids, hope you get lots of hugs and kisses x

27.03 | 21:16

I just wanted to say thanks. My mum died 20 yrs ago & I will remember your comment on Sunday and hopefully it will let me enjoy the day with my kids for once.

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