Jaqui's Daily Blog

Today I received a completely unexpected proposal of marriage. From a total stranger. In the local newsagents. Where else?


It is well over fifty years since I last received a marriage proposal so I am not well practised in appropriate responses. I did, however, modestly demur on the grounds that my husband (known to you all as Mr B) would possibly have something to say about it. My admirer replied that we simply would not tell him about our approaching nuptials. Scandalous, don't you agree?


Actually to describe the stranger as an "admirer" is pushing it a bit for, I am sorry to say, the marriage proposal did come with certain strings attached. What my would-be Romeo actually said was (and I quote): "If you win a million on the Lottery tonight, will you marry me?" As I wasn't purchasing a lottery ticket, not even a single Lucky Dip, this could be described as a long shot on his part. I think it is safe to say that this aged Lothario was trying his luck. Or, to put it more accurately, my luck.


At home I enjoyed relating this Tall Tale to Mr B and to Kay, who helps me keep our house in some kind of order. Mr B said he wasn't bothered while Kay mused that I obviously looked better than I felt, otherwise how and why would I have attracted such attentions? I think she meant it kindly. Unlike Mr B (who knows a Tall Tale when he hears one) Kay wanted to know all about my Encounter with a Stranger so I was forced to admit, in the interests of honesty, that he was quite a lot older than I am so wasn't exactly the greatest of catches.


It was the second unexpected approach I have received over the last few days - as I delighted in telling members of our Nomination Whist group who gathered at our house this afternoon. The other approach came from a TV company planning a programme about the fact that there are more centenarians living in our home town of Worthing than in any other town in the whole of the country. Did we have anybody approaching 100 years of age in our card group, the programme researcher wanted to know?


What a shame, everybody said when I told them, that Our May was not still alive. She would have been perfect TV material. I explained that I had already told the researcher all about Our May, including her assertion that she put her Great Age down to Assiduous Washing of Hands. The researcher responded that her 96 year old gran credited her longevity with enjoying an ice cream cone every single night. We all agreed that a nightly ice cream cone sounded a perfect recipe for a long life. Provided, of course, we all washed our hands afterwards.


Would it be possible, I queried, for one of our number to pretend to be 100 years old, for the sake of our Nomination Whist Group achieving fifteen minutes of fame on TV? This did not go down too well, nobody being prepared to concede that they could possibly be mistaken for a centenarian. Ah, well, it was just a thought. And a bad one at that...

 

You are probably still wondering about my suitor and whether I saw him again after our chance encounter in the newsagents. Indeed, I did. Emerging a few minutes later, I caught sight of him walking towards the chemist's shop, arm in arm with - yes, you are there before me, as usual - another woman.


The cad!

 

Okay, so here's the deal. If I manage to earn twenty-five - yes, you heard correctly, twenty-five! - stickers for Exemplary Behaviour, I will find myself the proud owner of a Spinosaurus. A Spinosaurus, in case you don't know - and Nanni certainly didn't - was the largest of the meat-eating dinosaurs, bigger even than the Tyrranosaurus Rex and the Gigantosaurus. You can tell, I am sure, why I want one...


This is, of course, Faris aka The Rascal, writing the Daily Blog today. Nanni could have written it but I wasn't sure I could totally rely on her to get all the Dinosaur Related Facts and Figures correct.


My Daddy likes nothing better than to negotiate a good deal. Mummy says he is an "Algerian Del Boy." Fortunately Daddy takes this as a compliment, "Only Fools and Horses" being his all-time favourite TV programme. Me, I prefer Andy's Dinosaur Adventures but each to his own, as Nanni would say.


Mummy has been promising to print out the Spinosaurus Sticker Chart for at least a week but for some reason her brand new super duper printer wasn't working. Then yesterday she discovered the cause of the problem, Someone had lodged a toy in its innards. No, I don't know who that Someone might have been but Mummy says it was almost certainly one of the three Usual Suspects. I'm not exactly sure what a suspect is but it doesn't sound like something to aspire to. Not like a doctor, or a lifeguard or a demolition expert. The Twinkles and I have therefore determined to lie low on the basis that the law of the land is that a person is innocent until proved guilty. In our house, it has to be said, the opposite often seems to apply. I don't know why...


Anyway, the chart has now been printed out and stuck up on the wall in all its glory. All I need to do now is to find out what Exemplary Behaviour is and how to apply it to my life. I have done a bit of research, as in, I asked my friend Poppy as we were walking home from pre-school together. Poppy didn't know what Exemplary Behaviour was, either, but she said once I found out then she would help me with it. This is what good friends are for. Poppy said so and I believe her.


I also asked my sisters, Tala and Lilia, though I didn't hold out much hope that they would know. However, you never can tell with The Twinkles, they never cease to surprise me. They may be only two years old but they are Wise Beyond Their Ears. I heard Nanni say that and presumably she knows what she is talking about though what the Twinkles' ears have to do with anything at all I honestly don't know.


I have had sticker charts before but that was in the days when I was at my Most Rampaging. I used to earn stickers just for doing what every other child at playgroup did without question. Like sitting in a circle at story time, for instance, or singing along with everyone else when it was Song Time. Some days I came home from playgroup with my red jumper absolutely covered with stickers. I have a horrible feeling that it will be much more difficult to earn stickers on the Spinosaurus Chart, particularly if I can't find out what Exemplary Behaviour is.


Then, on Mothering Funday at Nanni's house, I had a bit of a breakthrough. We were all down on the prom (prom, prom) enjoying the sunshine. Auntie Kazza said it would be a good idea to get out of Grandad's hair if only for an hour. Which is quite ridiculous because Grandad really doesn't have a lot of hair - honestly, I will never, ever understand some of the things my family says. Is every family like mine? Or have I just been born into a particularly Crazy Tribe?

 

Although the sun was shining, there was a chilly breeze blowing in from the sea and I suddenly noticed that Nanni's coat was undone. She was coughing enough already which was not good IMHO. So I did what Mummy always does for me and the Twinkles when we go out into the cold and I tried to do up the zip on Nanni's coat, telling her she mustn't get cold.


Nanni told my Mummy that I showed considerable empathy for someone who is only just four years old. She also said that my act of random kindness deserved a sticker on the Spinosaurus Chart and crowed with glee because her sticker would be the very first one on the chart. I've noticed that about Nanni, she does love to be first.


What is empathy anyway, is it some kind of biscuit? Was zipping up Nanni's coat Exemplary Behaviour and does this mean I will have to find another 24 people who need their coats zipped up to earn enough stickers to claim my Spinosaurus? Honestly this could take months and months especially with warmer weather on the way.


Maybe I should just have added the Spinosaurus to my Christmas list...

 

The Youngest of the Darling Daughters and her daughter, known to me (and thus to you all) as Hazel Bagel, decide to stop on our walk along the prom (prom, prom) to take a selfie. They are a little way ahead of the rest of us as we have had to stop occasionally to (i) persuade The Rascal that, yes, he does need to wear his helmet if he intends to scoot; (ii) read the inscriptions on the several benches adorned with flowers and cards in memory of gone-but-not-forgotten mothers; or (iii) lift Lilia and / or Tala onto the sea wall so they can perfect their Twinkletoes balancing act. 


What a good idea it would be, my daughter and her daughter think, to take their selfie while capturing the rest of us in the background! They pose accordingly, gesturing behind them to the rearguard to smile appropriately as the camera clicks. It is only when they come to view the photo that they realise they have captured a party of complete strangers in the background, all looking somewhat bemused at being invited to be part of this Great Photographic Moment. Yes, the rest of us are trailing way behind, engaged in one of activities (i) to (iii) above.


What do you call a gathering of four mothers, six off-spring (aged between 2 and 19) and a Grandad thrown in (metaphorically speaking, I hasten to add) for good measure? A Mothering Funday, that's what. The Darling Daughters are insistent that I am to provide nothing bar the venue at Our House. The Middle of the Darling Daughters has prepared a chilli; her younger sister is bringing rice, crème fraîche and Doritos; the Eldest of the Darling Daughters is on Pudding Patrol. As meals go, it is quite Perfectly Planned. Also exceedingly well-planned is the ratio of Older Grandchildren to Younger Grandchildren - three of each - meaning the Rascal and The Twinkles will have one to one attention in the event of any Rampaging. This does not, you will be pleased to hear, prevent we adults from undertaking pleasurable tasks such as organising the traditional Potato and Spoon Race and giving cuddles whenever required. 


There is always a lingering sadness, even as I accept my beautiful flowers and open my thoughtful cards, that I no longer have a Mum to spoil on Mothering Sunday. In WH Smith, the other day, I bought my daughter, as a jokey extra birthday present, the book "Five Forget Mother's Day." Why didn't I take advantage of the special offer, the sweet sales assistant suggested. She could take £3 off the price of the book if I bought a Mother's Day card? How to respond, without sounding pitiful? But, oh dear, WH Smith, did it never occur to you that your "special offer" would be so hurtfully discriminatory against those who don't have a mother alive to buy a card for - but wish so much that they did?


The Darling Daughters say I should have bought a card and sent it to one of them, in order for that daughter to send it back to me. That way I could have chosen my own card and saved £3 into the bargain. I have definitely brought my daughters up to be Practical in Any Given Circumstance.


The sun shines, the daffodils dance in the borders, we eat, drink and are exceedingly merry. So laid-back are we that nobody utters even the mildest of protests when the Rascal and The Twinkles discover the Delights of Gardening, particularly those which are Water Butt Related. Watering cans, plant pots, old Sainsbury's shopping baskets, all are put to good use. Monty Don, you would have been proud of Our Trio as they set about their self-imposed task of emptying the water butt while liberally watering both the garden and the patio - not to mention themselves, like tender plants in need of sustenance. The Gardening Game only ends when we grab a child each, remove every item of muddy clothing and introduce the Trio to the bath. Where, inevitably, they carry on where they left off, washing the bathroom floor as if lives depend on it.

 

Later, when everyone has departed for their own homes, My Boy telephones to wish me a happy day. He has spent the afternoon cooking up a special Mother's Day dinner for the Darling Daughter in Law (mother of the Not So Very Little Welsh Boys) and her mother. And I think to myself that, as he couldn't be with me in person, then I'm so glad he spent his time ensuring that not just one, but two, Special Mums had a great day.


Perhaps, young as I was when I became a mother, I did something right. I mean, they've all turned out to be such loving, caring people - a son and daughters of whom I am very, very proud.


It is, of course, perfectly possible that they turned out that way despite me...

 

 

 

I ask the driver on the 700 Coastliner bus if he could possibly give me a shout when we reach Palmeira Mansions in Hove. He responds that he won't be driving the bus by the time it reaches Hove. Which is unhelpful - but undoubtedly honest.


Regular readers will not be the least bit surprised to learn that, as per usual, I don't know where I'm going. 'Twas, indeed, Ever Thus...


It is the afternoon of our Questers' trip to the Hove Progressive Synagogue. Questers, you may recall, is a group which goes on "behind the scenes" visits to places near and far in search of enlightenment, education and enjoyment. Though not necessarily in that order.


I had been contemplating travelling by car, on account of being able to get there and back more speedily, thus not leaving Mr B Home Alone for too long. However when I explained my intentions to Joy, at my weekly craft session, she warned me that parking in the vicinity of the synagogue was "very, very difficult." Now you all know me, she who will walk the best part of a quarter of a mile if it means I won't have to parallel park. I decided forthwith to Take The Bus.


I didn't give it much more thought at the time as I was busily trying to scrub clean my fingers which were stained with ink of various different hues, testament to my rather unsuccessful endeavours to produce at least a passable version of the attractive card designs produced by our estimable leader, the Lovely Linda. It wasn't my day. In fact, in terms of comparing results with my fellow Crafty People at the end of the afternoon, the only aspect in which I came Top of the Class was in the State of Fingers. I didn't know it at the time but it would be two whole days before my finger nails looked clean enough to be on public display.


Be that as it may, Thursday saw me boarding the Coastliner. I had planned my journey with military precision. My friend Google had informed me that the bus trip from start to finish (always provided, of course, I could work out where to alight from the bus, given I couldn't rely on the driver) would take 46 minutes which seemed remarkably precise, all things considered. Factoring in a seven minute walk to my destination (always provided I walked in the right direction) then I should arrive a good ten minutes before the deadline given us by the trip organiser. I know what you are thinking: two "always provided" in one sentence doesn't suggest certainty in any shape or form.


My grandson Jack, who is my Ever Present Help With Matters Technological, would be proud of me: using the maps function on my IPhone I managed to track my progress, bus stop by bus stop. It turned out that the Palmeira Square bus stop was more or less unmissable, but it's always better to be safe than sorry, don't you agree?


It was a fascinating visit, with much to see, much to learn, much to understand. The day after the tragic events unfolding in Westminster, it was good to reflect on the diversity of our communities, the acceptance of each other's beliefs and customs. I was glad to be there.


I'd promised myself that I would make the return journey on the upstairs deck of the Coastliner bus. I would sit in the very front seat and pretend to be driving the bus, the way my Foursome used to do when they were littl'uns. Occasionally, when the excitement grew too much for them, they would drum their feet on the floor bringing loud complaints from the driver down below.

Several Questers boarded the same bus home as I did but they all stayed downstairs. I felt guilty that I wasn't joining them for a Jolly Gossip but a promise is a promise. Even if it was only a promise to myself.


How lovely it was, "driving" the bus homewards as the sun set over Worthing Pier.


It helped, of course, that being homeward bound, even I knew exactly where I was headed...

Yesterday, according to the TV, radio and various newspapers, was Happiness Day. Well, I don't know about you but I reckon being required to be happy on any one particular day is calculated to make even the most generally happy-hearted feel downright curmudgeonly. Don't you just love that word, incidentally?


Take me, for instance. I make a habit of trying to be happy at all times, if at all possible. There is, you will note, a get out clause there. It would be totally inappropriate, would it not, to be happy in the face of someone else's great sadness. But mostly I like to make Happy my default position - so it was strange to find myself querying the whole concept of a Day of Happiness.


Today was not, of course, Happiness Day, being the day after, as in tomorrow in terms of yesterday. I hope you are following me, it really isn't that difficult. So I determined, just to be awkward, that today would be my day for spreading happiness.


It is such a lovely, sunny day that I persuade Mr B to accompany me on what I grandiosely term "The Magnolia Trail." On my regular trot to the local shops there are two absolutely magnificent magnolia trees, just coming into bloom. It would surely gladden Mr B's heart to see them.


Getting out of the house is a major challenge for Mr B these days. I drive the mobility scooter out of the garage and round to the front door, positioning it as near to the front door as I can manage - once astride the scooter, I say, encouragingly, he will be Off, Off and Away. Mr B raises a protesting eyebrow but continues his painful progress with only the occasional grumble and off we do, indeed, go.


We pass by the garden where the first of the magnolias is blossoming. "Isn't it beautiful?" I enthuse. "Too large," comments Mr B, dourly. We move along the road until we reach the second of the Magnificent Magnolias. Again. Mr B' s one comment is that it is "way too large.." At which point I realise that we are at Magnolia Related cross purposes; he thinks I am trying to persuade him we should plant a magnolia in our garden while I am simply wanting him to enjoy the spectacle which won't, let's face it, last as long as we would wish.


Mr B takes a detour. I initially think this is for the purpose of locating a dropped kerb but it turns out he wants to show me the back of our house, viewed from afar. Did I not realise where we were going? he asks, adding that I have no sense of direction. Guilty as charged, m'Lord.


Outside the butcher's, Mr B hails the shop owner, Chris, whom he hasn't seen for ages. Chris immediately sets about persuading Mr B of the outstanding value of his latest "Special Offers." He tries this on with me every time I enter the shop but I always manage to resist. Mr B however decides we need to buy a Beef Madras curry and two breast fillets of Gressingham Duck with an orange sauce. Even though he isn't sure he fancies duck, with or without an orange sauce. At least he has made Chris the Butcher a happy man.


We stop outside the baker's and buy coffee and a savoury pasty each. It's a bit chilly sitting outside the shop while we eat our lunch. A troupe of teenagers are heading our way - French students, I guess, here for the Easter break. I smile at them and they all wave and say "Hello!" I expect they are pleased that we are happy to see them and that they have had a chance to try out their English. I would try out my O Level French on them, but I have a mouth full of sausage roll and I don't want to splutter flaky pastry in their direction so creating a Bad Impression. At least we have ensured that they feel welcome in our country, I tell Mr B, virtuously. At this very moment: "Not foreign students already!" moans a passing shopper, loudly. She is clearly not a Happy (Easter) Bunny.


In the afternoon, I leave Mr B happily at home and make my way for an afternoon playing cribbage at Delia and Jim's house. I win two games and lose two games. This is the perfect Happiness Quotient, given that the results give and receive pleasure in exactly equal quantities.


Could it possibly be, do you think, that I am Over Thinking Happiness?

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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