Jaqui's Daily Blog

Mr B says that, with Storm Dennis about to give us all a battering, I need to keep an eye on the roof. 


Please tell me somebody, how do I do that, without braving the elements myself and risking being blown away into next door’s garden by Dennis the Menace? How would I know what to look for anyway, or would it be, like, obvious? Most of all, do I really need such a Big Worry in my life?


I am, by nature, one of Life’s Worriers - but I do try very hard to confine myself to small, solvable worries. For example, I enjoyed myself worrying about booking my Grand Old Lady into the garage for her MOT especially as I completely forgot last year - but this year the government actually emailed to remind me. Wasn’t that inordinately kind of it, to stop me worrying? I mean, I still needed to worry about which garage to contact, then actually to worry about when to make the phone call and to spend an appropriate amount of time worrying about the best date to consign the GOL to her Testing Experience - but these were all perfectly solvable concerns. Come the day, I will of course be fraught with worry about whether the GOL will pass her test with flying colours or will need some remedial treatment but sufficient unto the day is the worry thereof. Which sounds positively biblical, doesn’t it?


I worried about finding a window cleaner to Lighten Our Darkness - now I am worried because three people have contacted me to say that their own wielder of bucket and sponge will be in touch with me and I shall have to make a choice. One friend tells me her window cleaner has long hair which any girl would pine for so I am hoping he will be the first to call as I am worried that I will not otherwise have the opportunity to check out his curly locks. Still, as I said before, it’s a solvable worry.


The other day I dreamt that Mr B and I had been instructed to self-isolate in case we were carrying the Coronavirus - such a worry it was, dreaming about the contents of my fridge and freezer and whether I could make them last a fortnight. How many meals could I make out of a leg of lamb and a roast in the bag chicken I worried, as I tossed and turned in the bedclothes. When I awoke, it quickly occurred to me that all I would have to do, in such an eventuality, would be to book an on-line Ocado order (other food delivery outlets would doubtless be equally obliging.) The delivery driver would come along in the Raspberry van, or the Onion van, or the Cabbage van (only Ocado customers will know what I am talking about) and could leave my shopping out on the doorstep, ringing the bell and hurriedly retreating so as not to come into personal contact with me. It would be like being under siege in a castle in the Olden Days, where provisions had to be hauled up the castle walls with a rope and basket. Though, possibly, not so romantic. 


Mr B and I often have a discussion about pessimism versus optimism. His point of view is that, by being pessimistic (though he prefers to describe himself as realistic) one is never taken by surprise. Hence, keeping an eye on the roof of our house as Storm Dennis approaches. From my perspective, optimist that I am, provided our roof remains just as stalwart against the Wrath of Dennis as it has in withstanding similar forces of nature over the last sixty plus years I will have saved myself a whole heap of angst. 


We do, to be fair, have our fair share of major things to worry about, Mr B’s health being the most prominent among them. Someone very wise once told me that if you could do something about a problem, you should just get on and do it; if you couldn’t then there was no point worrying about it. I rather like breaking problems down into manageable chunks and then finding solutions to those problems. There are few things more satisfying than the sense of achievement which comes with each problem solved.


Meanwhile, just in case I need something to worry about to stop me worrying about the roof, the dishwasher is bleeping at me accusingly. This is not as it should be.


Please excuse me while I worry...

Treasure! As far as words go, it must be one of the most exciting.


Think Aladdin, peering into the gloomy cave and feasting his eyes on glittering gold and sparkling jewels. Or Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, setting off for Treasure Island armed with a map on which a large black cross has been daubed. Think of the treasures coming down from my loft...


You may scoff but the latest find is an actual treasure chest. It’s small, blue and dusty but extremely weighty and, as I remember it, is the property of My Boy when he was a littl’un. Moreover it is secured by a combination lock which means I can’t open it. How very tantalising.


I send a photo to My Boy who confirms that the treasure chest is, indeed, his. He guesses that the contents may well be his coin collection which apparently may well include a Charles and Diana commemorative coin. I am not at all sure that would count as treasure but who knows? More importantly, does he know the combination which will unlock the treasure? 


My son suggests I try the numbers of his birthday (I am choosing not to reveal these numbers, just in case he uses them on other secret depositories.) I have already tried several possible combinations - like 111,123 and 999. I am not very imaginative when it comes to passwords. I do as my son has suggested but the treasure chest remains tightly closed. Aladdin, of course, would wave a hand above it and chant “Open Sesame!” but that wouldn’t work for me. I know, because I tried...


Mr B suggests I use force which I decline to do on account of the fact that (I) I am a pacifist and so averse to the use of force as a matter of principle; and (ii) it would be dishonest in the extreme. The treasure chest will just have to remain in the carrier bag with all the other objects so far rescued from the Lofty Heights and still waiting to be reclaimed.


At Sporting Memories this morning, I tell the gathering about the box of footie programmes I found among the treasures in the loft. Everybody laughs when I tell them that they are Manchester United programmes - they all know that Mr B is one of Tottenham Hotspur’s most loyal supporters. What is a box of Man United match programmes doing in our loft? It’s tantamount to football sacrilege. Presuming (correctly) that I will probably want to off-load them on somebody, I receive many helpful suggestions including a pointer to a Man with a Van on the seafront who apparently buys such memorabilia. The exact location on the sea-front is vague in the extreme and I imagine myself staggering along several miles of sea-front, heavy box in my arms, checking it out. Rather more helpfully, Lovely Rhona wonders whether Sporting Memories themselves might be interested in relieving me of this Unwanted Treasure. Now that would be an excellent solution in my eyes.


I am keeping Mr B advised of potential treasure though he doesn’t seem quite so excited as I am at the possibilities. I suppose, I query, that’s because I am his Treasure? (I am not too proud to be angling for a compliment. After all it is Valentine’s Day tomorrow...) Mr B says I am, indeed, his Treasure. Too late, I notice the wicked glint in his eye as he adds: “I only wish I could remember where I dug you up from...”


He loves me really...



The Youngest of the Darling Daughters and her own Darling Daughter (known to you all as Hazel Bagel) have come on a flying visit. We had a bit of trouble arriving at the best day for their visit which might have been a stop-over had it been on a different day but, let’s face it, even a flying visit is better than no visit at all especially when I am so very keen to have a long chat with this granddaughter of mine. 


They arrive at 3 p.m. just as the District Nurse is leaving and my daughter suggests we might take advantage of the daylight by heading out for a walk along the prom, prom, prom, perchance taking in a refreshment break. Such a good idea - until I notice that the nurse has left behind her kit bag, kneeling pad and fold-up seat. We all race to the front gate but she has already driven off which means that we have to stay in for when she notices her mistake and returns to collect her possessions. As it turns out this is No Bad Thing as the weather turns decidedly rainy. I trot off into the kitchen to put the kettle on...


We do manage a quick trip to the shops a little later when the rain clears so we can pick up some food for our dinner. What about pudding? I ask. The Youngest of of the Darling Daughters says how about rice pudding for a change (which makes me laugh because when I was a littl’un, my dear mum made rice pudding every single day, almost always along with other delicious puds. Rice pudding will forever be known as 365 to my brothers, sister and me.) I reckon I probably have a tin at home but maybe we should pick up another, just to be on the safe side. Then, because there’s a special offer on buying two tins, and it would be silly to refuse, we put a couple in the shopping basket. Inevitably, when we return home we find I already have three tins in the cupboard...


We pay a quick visit to the Wedding Garden at Field Place where Hazel Bagel is adopted by a stray cat who sits on her lap, allows itself to be petted and follows her around, rather like Mary and her little lamb. Hazel is pleased as her own cats are rather more selective in bestowing their favours and, let’s face it, everyone likes to be loved, don’t they?


At home again my daughter sets to preparing our dinner and I sit myself on a kitchen stool to chat.  It is not until we are plating up the food that I realise that I haven’t lifted so much as a finger to help. I just sat there, watching as she chopped potato wedges and prepared a whole bag of brussel sprouts. What was I thinking about? I am ashamed of myself.


Over dinner, Hazel Bagel tells us about the dance project she will be working on over the next half-term, focussing on the Fifties and Sixties. I come over all excited and tell her about post war freedoms and the era of the teddy boys. We google pictures and my granddaughter marvels at the Teds’ hair dos. Her mother, it seems, has also been delving into the past, re-reading her old diaries and discovering lots of photographs and negatives from her year long trip Down Under when she left university. “What’s a negative?” asks Hazel, innocently. Spoken, I tell her, like a True Millennial. Her mother goes into a long and detailed spiel about the way we used to load a spool of film into our cameras, then send the completed film off to be developed, receiving photographs and - yes indeed, negatives - back in the post a week or so later. I find a set of negatives to show her by way of illustration. It is clear that Hazel still doesn’t quite believe us.


If all this wasn’t enough of a Blast from the Past, the two of them remember, belatedly, that one of the reasons for their visit was to make a contribution to the loft clearance project. I protest that they can leave this till another day but they have it in their heads now so up into the Lofty Heights they clamber, while I stand on the landing pleading with them to be careful. 


Half an hour later, we have a small pile of donations to a local charity shop; several bags of potentially precious mementoes of years gone by; and rather a lot of items which can best be described as “junk.”


Next week the Youngest of the Darling Daughters is coming to visit us again and we are planning yet another of our Jolly Jaunts. To the theatre, you ask? Or the cinema? Oh, dear me, no - 


We are off to the local tip, where else? You have to admit it, the Youngest of the Darling Daughters and I, we know how to have fun...

Storm Ciara is doing her worst, flouncing around the place like a very angry goblin. Whose idea was it to name her Ciara?


This is a bit rich coming from me, of course, given that I am well-known for naming everything, from motor cars to Christmas puddings. But at least I try to find appropriate names for each object - hence the extremely large turkey which we enjoyed on one of our famous Ball and Sutton Christmases went by the name of Tonka, while our bright yellow Cortina all those years ago went by the name of The Flying Banana. Naming storms, however, is just going a bit too far in my humble opinion. 


In the interests of background information (and because I do like the Daily Blog to come over all educational occasionally) I checked the meaning of Ciara. According to the Urban Dictionary (which isn’t quite the New Oxford but sounds rather more upbeat) Ciaras are apparently compassionate and loving and make an awesome friend. What’s more they are kind and beautiful and “usually very quiet.” Well, not in my back garden she isn’t.


When she woke me up in the middle of the night I tried to peer out of the bedroom window to assess exactly what havoc she was wreaking but it was too dark to see anything. I just had to go back to bed, pull the duvet over my head in a bid to block out the racket and hope for the best. Come the morning, as I pulled back the living room curtains, it seemed at first sight that all was well. The bird bath, sun dial, garden table and chairs, vegetable trough and - most importantly - the beautiful mother and child statue which my Little Sister bought me for my 70th birthday - were all still standing in their rightful places. I breathed a sigh of relief.


Which was when Mr B drew my attention to a small blue plastic chair which was scuttling about the lawn like a mad thing. I knew at once what had happened - Ciara (she of the compassionate and loving nature) had attacked one of the Flowerpot People. In fact (anyone of a sensitive nature might want to skip this bit) she had beheaded him.


Regular readers may remember that the Flowerpot People were created as part of a project undertaken by The Rascally Trio some months ago. Shortly after their creation, I found the three of them (the Flowerpot People, not The Rascally Trio) a place of their own in the back garden where I hoped they would be able to live in peace, sheltered in part by the garage wall from the worst of the elements. Each Flowerpot Person is seated on a plastic chair, one green, one blue and one yellow, with their little flower pot legs dangling from the seat of each chair. 


The Rascally Trio seem to have lost interest in the Flowerpot People and have to be encouraged to check up on their well-being whenever they come to visit. Fortunately I have not stopped loving them (The Flowerpot People, not the Rascally Trio in this case - though of course I do love them too) and tending them, making sure that their potted cyclamen hair is kept well watered in the dry times and sticking back on any eyes, noses or buttons which slip off during the wet times. I generally find time to wish them the “top o’ the morning” when I venture out into the back garden. Why, I even hung a Christmas wreath above their little flower pot heads to ensure that they didn’t miss out on all the jollity of the festive season.    


The sight of the small blue chair upturned and bowling about the garden is therefore extremely worrying. I pull on my backdoor shoes and venture out to face the storm alone and unprotected. Mr B wants to know “where the hell are you going?” but, you know, I am on an Errand of Mercy and will not be deterred. It probably would have been a good idea, perhaps, to put my mackintosh on but I was too worried about the fate of the Flowerpot People to care about getting wet. (I would later concede that this was a serious mistake on my part but then we live and learn, don’t we?) I tell Mr B, in my best Captain Oates fashion, that I might be some time...


Oh, what a sorry sight! While two of the Flowerpot People have withstood the worst of Storm Ciara, their friend and playmate has been completely dismembered. His body has been swept across the garden and is now lodged underneath the lilac tree, his little legs and arms trailing behind. His head, minus one eye and a nose, is upside down on the patio, the cyclamen plant which forms his hair has been uprooted and is looking like my hair first thing in the morning. Poor, poor Flowerpot Person! 


I have put him back together again, though I haven’t yet replaced his eye and nose as I think it might be best to save glueing them back in until it’s stopped raining. He looks at me, out of his one eye, and I can’t tell whether he is grateful or not for my rescue efforts.


Before you say anything, I am well aware that far worse things must have happened at sea - but this feels personal, if you know what I mean. 


Storm Ciara - you have such a lot to answer for!

These days I am not accustomed to being out and about quite so early. I am (supposedly) retired after all which is generally thought to mean long lie-ins, year-round holidays in sunny climes and the opportunity to suit myself. None of which applies to me, of course. Not that I am whingeing and moaning, you understand, life being far too short and far too interesting for that.


The only reason I am out during the morning rush hour is that I have to report to the hospital by 9 a.m. sharp where I have an appointment with the consultant who operated on my Problem, now Recovering, Shoulder - also known as Tigger. The consultant, I mean, not my shoulder. Even I haven’t gone so far as to give my shoulder a name though, if I had, it probably wouldn’t be repeatable in polite company. For polite company, read the regular imbibers of the Daily Blog.


I am standing at the bus stop, clutching my £3.20 (being as I can’t use my free bus pass because it’s twirly - i.e. too early) and watching the traffic rushing past at speed in the frenzied hurry to get to work. I can almost feel the stress. A procession of school-kids pass me as I wait and I wonder why so many of the girls have bare legs. I mean, it’s so cold this morning! I want to wrap them all up in blankets and tell them to hop home and pull on some tights before they freeze to death. When I was at school, our winter uniform included bright red, thick stockings, ensuring that, if for no other reason, our school’s pupils stood out from the crowd. At least we were warm.


The passengers on my bus, when it arrives, are also a very different crowd from those I usually meet up with on my travels being definitely much younger than the average free bus-passer. There is a different vibe on the bus, too, lots of parents taking their children to school and workers bound for the office, the shop or the factory. 


One little lass is engaged in a fascinating conversation with her father, trying to impress on him the many reasons why she doesn’t want to go to school but would rather (I am suspecting emotional blackmail here) stay home with him. He skilfully manages to deflect all her arguments, with his final, indisputable words being: “That’s life!” 


Another small girl scoots the length of the bus when it reaches her bus stop and gets a mild telling off from the driver as she alights with her mother who looks much more embarrassed that the Errant One. 


The mother of a boy sitting at the back of the bus calls to him to wait till the bus stops before coming to join her at the front. The boy, who is wearing a coat decorated with dinosaurs (Young Faris would love that coat, I find myself thinking) starts down the aisle when the bus pulls up at traffic lights, only to find his legs giving way underneath him when the lights turn green all of a sudden and the bus lurches forward. Several hands (including mine) reach out to steady him on his way to the safety of his mother’s arms. We are all united in our concern for the littl’un. This is why I love bus travel, there’s a sense of comradeship, of being one with each other in our support of public transport, however many and varied our individual motivations may be.


The appointment with Ms Tigger goes well. My Recovering, once Problem, Shoulder is now officially a Recovered Shoulder. I am back home with Mr B, even with a couple of shopping bags in tow, by 11.30 a.m. Sometimes it pays to be out and about early.


You see what I mean about life being, not only too short, but also too interesting?


Oh, dear, did I really just hear someone mutter “it all depends what you call interesting....”


Latest comments

01.01 | 01:17

Penguins forever.

23.12 | 08:22

Wonderful as usual.
Happy Xmas Health and happiness for the new year Cx

15.12 | 21:35

We really did have the most splendidly perfect pre-Christmas weekend!! What date did you say it will be next year?! 🤗😍😘

13.11 | 09:24

As I rapidly approach retirement I'm glad I just read this. Sound words!

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