Sunday, 31 January 2016

Puppy love...

Words from a Bird.  Day 31

Having made the decision that we were going to add to the family with another four legged fuzzball, it was down to me to cut through the dreadful puppy farmers which seem to be on every corner now, and find an Kennel Club assured breeder.

Percy came from one such breeder 5 minutes walk from us, but this time we had to go further afield to find the right dog. 

Of course, once the offspring knew we were heading off to choose a puppy, they all wanted to come with us. 

Daughter number 1: 'I'm coming with you' (Determination)
Son number 1: 'I'd like to come with you' (Optimism)
Daughter number 2: 'Me and James are coming' (Determination again, but with a dash of terrible grammar)
Son number 2: 'I'd like to come, and so would Lucy, but I might be working' (Optimism, rapidly followed by thinly veiled disappointment)

So the husband was calculating how many cars would be needed to transport the whole tribe plus friends down to Bath.  However, as the week drew to a close, one by one, the desire choose a puppy was overtaken by other activities.  Daughter number 1 chose to play netball, (or 'Stuck in the Mud with a Ball' as her cousin chooses to dismiss it with.  Son number 1 decided to have the **** kicked out of him on a muddy rugby pitch.  Daughter number 2, who I was convinced would be tagging along, went off to watch daughter number 1 play netball, then hauled her boyfriend around the shops (she'll learn, and so will he), and son number 2 was working (his job is the only one I can think off where you don't have to wear underwear to perform well....)

In the end, it was just the husband and me, as it probably should have been all along. 

Looking at the perfect little doggy family (mum, dad, six pups) it was almost impossible to pick just one (I did try and push for a couple more, but to the husband's evident relief, they were sold).  But in the end we chose the squeakiest one with the waggiest tale who was the most lively and a high achiever where the food source was concerned.

I can see elements of all of our children in him. 

He could be trouble...

Saturday, 30 January 2016


Words from a Bird.  Day 30

Now that Nanny's funeral is almost upon us, family members are starting to head north and south to come together for the final goodbye on Monday.  From my point of view, this heralds the arrival of all of my children from various homes and universities. 

Son number 1 and daughter number 2 were the first to arrive, staggering through the front door hauling behind them a sack of dirty washing the like of which I haven't seen since Will Smith dragged an alien-laden parachute in Independence Day. 

One load made it into the washing machine, the other as far as the kitchen floor, lying on the tiles like a wounded animal.  In fact, I am sure I spotted a pulsing beat a couple of times, so I reckon that the washing will make its own way to the washing machine if I leave it there long enough.  I am now wondering whether there actually is an alien in there!

Daughter number 1 was extremely hacked off to see that the middle two had already tipped up, as this meant that she would have to now sleep in her own room rather than squatting in one of theirs.  Of course, her room (currently known as 'The Dumping Ground') has been unslept in for some time with no heating, so is a bit chilly.  Not only is it sub-zero, but as it has been living up to its new job title, it is unlikely that she will locate the bed until March. 

Of course, daughter number 2's bedroom (Percy's Room) has heating as befitting the bedchamber of a much loved pet, and son number 1's bedroom is also toasty warm.  I knew he was coming so could prepare, evicting the penguins and putting the radiator on.

Son number 2 turned up last - his first comment, 'When are you lot going back then?'  I suppose he's got used to being the equivalent of an only child over the last two years, with all its benefits.  From his point of view, the arrival of the three older ones means queues for the bathroom, no parking space on the drive, an empty fridge and, when the girls are involved, not a chance of getting even the narrowest of words in edgeways.  However, what is does mean is that he can supplement his wardrobe with the odd stolen shirt or two and pinch the girls' hairstyling products (don't ask...)

But as I sit here alone, having listened to all of them catch up excitedly on each other's lives, their love for each other so apparent,  and then watched them head off together for a drink (insisting that dad came too), I do count my blessings.

As I said to a friend yesterday, if you have to depend on material things to bring you joy, then you will never be happy. 

Friday, 29 January 2016

Cruella de Vil, Cruella de Vil....

Words from a Bird.  Day 29

I come across many people during the course of my day, some of which happen to chance upon my ramblings.  Most people are too embarrassed to admit that they actually read it, (let's face it, if my blog were a magazine, it would probably be stored under the counter, only to be furtively pulled out and put into a brown paper bag with a knowing wink).  These people rarely mention it, preferring to talk about anything else other than what I have written about that day.  Looking back on some of the subjects I have covered to date (blood pressure, dust bunnies, needlework, Tom Hardy, mops and orchids to mention a few) I can't say that I entirely blame them.  In fact, I sometimes catch them looking at me wondering whether something they say will trigger a subject the next day.  It makes people cautious.....

But some days, and these are the ones I like best, someone will come up to me and usually say one of the following comments:

'Your blog really made me laugh/cry this morning' (Delete as appropriate)
'You are so right about *****'
'I had one of those!'
'Your poor husband' (Frequent)
'Oh, poor you' (More frequent)

Today, one of my gorgeous neighbours pulled up alongside me and said, 'Have you got your puppy yet?'  Now this question triggered a few responses in rapid succession.  First reaction was, 'Hooray, someone has read it today, and is willing to admit it!'  Second reaction was, 'Ah, not read it too closely as she would have known that we haven't picked Reg yet (as he is to be known) and that we are just at the looking stage'..... This doesn't bother me at all if I'm honest.  I mean, it's neither rocket science nor War and Peace, just a bit of idle flim-flam to be flicked over with a cup of tea and a Digestive.

It's the written equivalent of being given a bunch of chrysanthemums (the blue garage kind -ladies, you know what I am talking about)....a smile on receipt (well they are flowers) which fades as you put them in the vase, the joy of receiving flowers dissipating as you locate them somewhere discreet, knowing full well that they will mock you for at least three weeks with, 'Look at us, just cut our stems a little and strip off our withered leaves, we'll give you at least another two weeks'.  You may have guessed by now, I don't like chrysanthemums. 

What I am trying to say I suppose, is that I shan't be asking questions.... I am just glad that it is enjoyed for a few seconds before you get on with the rest of your day.

Going back to the chat with my lovely friend, I told her we would be getting a dog rather than a bitch, because if we  ended up with puppies, I could never let them leave my house, and there is a chance I would morph into slightly kinder version of Cruella de Vil , surrounded by four legged fuzzballs.

Of course, you'll never catch me in a full length Schnauzer fur coat...

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Baby love...

Words from a Bird.  Day 28.

A very big decision was reached in our house last night.  For the last two years, yes, you heard me right, two years, I have been talking the husband into having a second dog. 

Between you and me, I am not too sure why I want another dog.  When put on the spot by the husband as to my reasons for wanting another four legged friend, this is what I managed to come up with:

1.  He'll be a brother for Percy
2.  She'll be a girlfriend for Percy (This is interchangeable with reason 1)
3. We'll still have a dog when Percy goes over Rainbow Bridge (the entrance to Doggy Heaven for   those non dog-owners among you)
4. He will play with Percy (cue many facebook clips showing old dog/young dog playing with sock)
5. Percy gets lonely (this is called underhand emotional blackmail)

So, after some thought, here are the more honest reasons:

1. I love puppies.
2. I really love puppies.

But enough of the lists, the brutal truth is that at the age of 52, as the last of my children gets ready to leave home (see Day 27) I need 'something to cuddle', something that is wholly dependent on me for its care and wellbeing.  Something warm and soft, with big brown eyes whose sole wish is for a tummy rub.

I daren't tell the husband this....he might think that my wish for a puppy is concealing my desire for ANOTHER CHILD. 

He will then accuse me of being in denial when I tell him how daft he is thinking that, which will be rapidly followed by a reminder from him as to how ancient (the word which springs to mind is withered) I am.  He will come out with many reasons as to why we shouldn't have any more children (all of which I happen to agree with) and will probably start pleading with me at some point, possibly on his knees.

So this Saturday, we are off to look at a litter of two week old Mini Schnauzer pups. 

However, I might take a detour to Mothercare, just for a laugh.....

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Bye bye, Baby.....

Words from a Bird....Day 27

I have watched almost all of my children head off to university over the years.  It has been relatively pain free each time, and on the odd occasion there has even been a discreet fist pump as we waved goodbye from the car - once again, no names.....

However, what has always made it easier was the fact that there were always three, two or one of the ankle biters left at home, so empty nest syndrome was in reality, merely more spacious nest syndrome.  Vacated rooms started to have new names, such as 'Dumping Ground' and 'Percy's Bedroom'.

Yesterday saw the start of the end as I schlepped son number 2 across to Essex for a tour of his chosen home for three years from September.  'Hope a bloke takes us round', said number 2, 'I'll want to know all about the nightlife.  And please don't let on you watch TOWIE or ask stupid questions...'  Apparently, as I am north of 50 (his phrase not mine) this is an age-inappropriate television programme for me.....

So you can imagine my joy as our University Ambassador approached us for our personal tour.  Head covered in a beautiful scarf, floor length skirt, a coat and stout shoes....all the way from Malaysia.  Her name was Jasmine, and she was a second year Law student, and had probably never stepped over the threshold of the Student Union.  I would also imagine that the Sugar Hut was an unknown quantity as were boys of any sort.  She was lovely, and knew everything about the University and nothing about life after about 8.00pm. 

Number 2 asked as many sensible questions as he could, and after the tour, he knew this was the right place for him to expand the old brain cells. 

But it suddenly hit me on the A12.... I only have about seven months left as Banker, Taxi Driver, Cook, Washerwoman, Counsellor and Alarm Clock.  What will I do with all that new free time? Then I remembered.  I still have the husband at home who employs me for at least three of these jobs, and there's also the threat of Daughter number 2 returning home when her degree finishes in June.  (Is there ever a time when they go, and not come back like a 5'10' homing pigeon?)

Of course, I could handle this differently......where's my suitcase?

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

I wasn't expecting that...

Words from a Bird.  Day 26

Listening to Ian Dury singing 'Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll' this afternoon, it crossed my mind as to how old I was before I realised that it was childhood polio which crippled him, rather than being an affected pose for stage purposes.  I suppose I would have been around 15 when he appeared on Top of the Pops, so it set me wondering how many other things I was unaware of when growing up.

We might as well get Boy George out of the way first.  To start with, I didn't realise that he was a fella, and when that particular penny finally dropped, it didn't even cross my mind that he might bat for the other side. There were many others who also failed to trigger my 'Gaydar'.  Larry Grayson - frequent use of the name Everard should have been a clue.  Then there was Mr Humphries of 'I'm free' fame, Liberace (say no more), and  Kenny Everett. Kenny was a tricky one, alternating between Sid Snot (macho, leather, studs) to Cupid Stunt (Dolly wig, huge boobs and a beard). 

As many of you will know, I am a huge fan of Meatloaf, and spent the years between 1977 (release of Bat out of Hell) and 1981 (release of Dead Ringer) insisting that his last name was Loaf, and that Meat must be short for something.  Please accept my apologies Mr Marvin Lee Aday......

Then there were the singing duo, Sparks....not entirely to blame for this one.  My dad insisted that the moustachioed one was Adolf Hitler's illegitimate love child.  I knew that they were brothers (I had Jackie magazine to thank for that) but still didn't question my dad's claims re Ron Mael's loose connections to the Fatherland.

I also believed that Valerie Singleton, Peter Purves and John Noakes all lived together in one house with the Blue Peter dogs, that wrestling hurt, and that David Cassidy was actually a girl called Priscilla (my dad once again - he hated long hair on a man).

Going back to music, I didn't realise that Pans People were meant to be a sexy diversion for the dads (thought they were just brought on if the group/singer was busy that night).  I also believed that TOTP was filmed live, the bands really sang, and that the audience were enjoying themselves.  All wrong, of course.

So it would seem that I trolleyed through my early years in blissful ignorance to all that was going on around me. 

Reality is not all it's cracked up to be, you know...

Monday, 25 January 2016

Where did you get that hat?

Words from a Bird.  Day 25

Today was one of the days that as a family we have been dreading since Nanny left us last week.  Armed with bin bags and doughnuts we headed to Nanny's flat, with plans to clear and sort as much as we could.  The aim was to provide the wonderful Sue Ryder home with as much as possible, thus providing funds to give some other family the love and care which we received while Nanny was there. 

One room at a time, we opened drawers and cupboards, folded and sorted clothes, marvelled at the sheer amount of shoes and handbags one person could own, and as for the hats, well, there was one for every occasion.  At one point, as I looked around the room, all five of us were wearing a hat of some description.  Unfortunately, varying head sizes meant that four of us had them perched on top like a lookout station, while one of us resembled Freddie Parrott and was asking who had switched the lights out!

When it came to the airing cupboard, the other four had all decided (in my absence) that I was going to be the one who emptied the top cupboard of its brushed cotton contents.  Was this because I am the tallest of a short bunch?  No.  It was because the shelf was festooned with enough spider web action to supply the Hammer House of Horrors Special Effects Department for the next 20 years.  As a rational human being, our eight-legged friends hold no fear for me, so it was up the ladder I went.  I passed down sheet after sheet to them, waiting till the very last one before I shouted 'Spider! Watch out!'  Hilarious watching them scatter.....

It's very hard parting with things that you have been aware of all your life.  This is why, four hours later, I left the flat with the following items:

1 x  The Complete Book of Handicrafts
1 x The Book of Good Needlework (circa 1951)
2 x Tins of spare buttons and sewing needles
2 x hardback books on Musicals
1 x book on Portsmouth Old and New (All Old by now I should think)
1 x Pen Tidy (a present to my Grandad when I was 8 years old)
1 x plastic wine stirring spoon (Grandad again)
1 x walking stick
1 x screwdriver (Grandad's initials were in it...)
4 x Shot glasses (many questions were raised as to when and whether these were ever used)
1 x Yellow embroidered make up bag made by me when I was 9 (See 'Surprise, Surprise, Day 17')
2 x Crocheted coat hangers

So bits of Nanny's life now have a new home, one where they can continue being loved and used for many more years. 

Not too sure what I am going to do with the two feet long wine stirring spoon, but I am sure I'll come up with something......


Sunday, 24 January 2016

Red Light Spells Danger..

Words from a Bird.  Day 24

Today, the husband received his full results back from the Health Test which he had done a couple of weeks ago.  I should have known that it was good news, as he couldn't wait to thrust it under my nose as I walked through the door.

Barely giving me time to take off my coat, let alone get the vari-focals out of my bag, he started saying, 'See!  See!  I'm fit!  I'm healthy!  I got greens for everything!' 

At this point, you are probably as much in the dark as I was, so feigning interest (and sight) I replied, 'That's brilliant, let me have a look then'.  As I was still holding three shopping bags, my handbag, a pair of gloves and my car keys, he had to hold the booklet, turning the pages slowly.  Admittedly, he was thoughtful, holding it more than an arm's length away as he had spotted I was not wearing the glasses.  However, I still couldn't make out the small print, but I could recognise the easy 'Let's assume you have the reading capability of a five year old' colours at the end of each section.

It's done like a watered down traffic light system.  If you have a green square, you are in The Smug Zone, looking forward to a long, healthy life.  Pale peach is the Early Warning Square.  What they're saying is 'Shape up, or Ship out...quite soon'.  The red square is the one to avoid.  What this one is telling you is 'Don't bother reading any long books, or start watching any box sets from Netflix.  You should also think seriously about holidays over the next few months.  Pick a local mini-break rather than a fortnight abroad'. 

So the husband was green squares all the way.  This is a very good thing as far as I am concerned, as I have watched while he denied himself many of life's pleasures since January 4 (the date of the test).  Alcohol had been banned, along with bread, butter, coffee, kebabs, anything from Greggs and sweets (these were only allowed at the cinema - I think we all accept that these are part of the whole big screen experience).

Any woman sharing her home with a man will currently be reading this with a knowing smile. January is a very hard month for all us girls as husbands go dry to compensate for the liver-massacre through December.  It's been like living with Vlad the Impaler the last few weeks.  Fortunately, I hadn't felt the need to give up anything, so good old Mary Poppins here has been able to keep Vlad from living up to his name on several occasions.

I for one will welcome the return of the empty Greggs bag.......

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Flowers in the Window.....

Words from a Bird.  Day 23.

I had flowers delivered today, sent from a wonderful friend.  It's been a long time since anyone sent me flowers (husband, take note, offspring, tell dad) so they were a lovely surprise.

At a time when you are lost, both literally and metaphorically, it's fantastic when something happens to remind you how beautiful life can be.  Even when you are in the middle of a maelstrom of  misery, irrationally belting out an Elvis Presley song (If I Can Dream), sobbing your heart out and ironing (I am a woman...I multi-task) it is the simplest of things that pull you back.

The sight of these eight stemmed orchids, their magenta petals entwined around each other, brings me such joy.   They sit on my desk, as close to me as I can get them, so all I have to do is lift my eyes slightly to see them.  Every time I do, they let me know that there are people out there who love me, people who understand what is feels like to lose someone so undeniably special.  They remind me that days won't always be cold and wet, and that life will have colour in it again one day.

With the funeral planning and all the decisions being made about clearing Nanny's flat (something we are all dreading - can you imagine what photos we're going to find?) it's been a non-stop, full-pelt few days, with little time for anything not tinged with sadness.

But my orchids have made me stop, if only for a few seconds at a time. 

And they make me smile.......

Friday, 22 January 2016

Lessons in love.....

Words from a Bird.  Day 22

As from today I am no longer somebody's grandchild - this is a role which I have held for over 52 years, and I believe I have fulfilled the job well.  If the job of grandchild came with a handbook, it would read probably something like this......

The Baby/Toddler

1. Always be ill on the night Nanna and Grandad babysat (extra points if you are at their house rather than at home)
2. Eat all the strawberries off their plants, leaving none for the grown ups (see 1)
3. Request shoulder rides (especially important when leaving the beach after a day in the sand)
4. Demand that your jam jars on string be filled with the best fish bait ever.....every three minutes

The Teenager

1. Eat grandparents out of house and home on a regular basis.
2. Holiday with them in caravan parks with giggle-worthy names (Sandy Balls springs to mind)
3. Wander round car boot sale, after car boot sale, after car boot sale, after car boot sale..........
4. Dress inappropriately, but expect (and get) approval at all times

The Younger Adult

1. Present babies on a regular basis - adding a new layer of grandparents as you do so
2. Always dance with your Grandad at functions
3. Let your Grandad usher you out of your parking space every time you leave their house

The Older Adult

1. Listen to stories you've heard a million times, but which you'd gladly listen to a million times more (especially that one about the mad dog which dug its own grave in the garden)
2. Accept that time is getting short
3. Visit, visit, visit.......
4. Say all the things you want to say, as if today was the last chance you'd get to say them

When you have a grandparent, you still have the capacity and excuse to feel like a child.  I suppose for me, it's now time to grow up and accept I am an adult at last.  However, I don't think I am quite ready to take on the incredible role of grandparent as yet.

Offspring......take note.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

She's gone.......

Words from a Bird.  Day 21

In a room filled with love, laughter and daft memories, my nanny left us today, gradually slipping away as we surrounded her with as much joy as we could muster. 

It's a funny old game, dying.  We have known this was coming for some time.  In fact, over the last two and a half years, Nanny has been playing the 'Will she?  Won't she?' game, in an attempt to discredit the entire medical profession.  This time, however, we all knew there would be no 'Get out of Jail' card for her, because the time for leaving was here. 

It doesn't seem to matter that you know it's going to happen; every bit of rational argument tells you that this is it, there will be no miraculous recovery.  But part of you, the part that's not quite ready to say goodbye, still hangs on, willing breath to follow breath as she sleeps. 

So we sit around her quietening bed, drawing strength from each other, knowing that time is running out. 

And then it does. 

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

There's a hole in my bucket.....

Words from a Bird.  Day 20

As you have probably figured out by now, my family is incredibly close.  We are a rare breed, often choosing to spend time together through pleasure rather than just duty.  The hours spent around Nanny's hospital bed are proving to be a quite a special time in a strange way.  We can talk uninterrupted, covering all manner of subjects. 

Today proved to be one of those times, as my mum, aunt and I sat round the bed, nursing cups of tea. We had spoken about Nanny, and had updated other family members about how she was.  Having done our equivalent of Nanny Housekeeping, it was time to move on to other subjects.

Now my aunt reads my blog faithfully, being a modern, professional woman, completely up to speed with technology (she even answers her mobile when you ring it!); my mother however is a bit of a Luddite when it comes to anything with a password (Kindle lasted 17 days before it was retired to the dresser drawer).  Apparently, you can't use a bookmark with a Kindle, and she kept losing her place. 

We also tried to get her onto facebook sometime ago, what a disaster that turned out to be.  She had many people try to 'friend' her, but she was too afraid to accept any of them, telling us all that it was the equivalent of giving people your front door key. Facebook didn't even fare as well as the Kindle, her account was deactivated after just 6 days. Going back to the mobile phone, my mum's favourite trick is to ALWAYS have her phone with her, but to ALWAYS keep it turned off to save the battery.  This explains why it is ALWAYS impossible to get hold of her.

So my mum hasn't really read much of my blog, so when my aunt started to tell me how funny she'd found yesterday's about dating in the modern world, my mum's ears pricked up.  'Do you remember that bloke I met who had tunnel vision?  We had to meet somewhere on the main road as he wasn't too good with junctions.'  So you can see, conversation is varied to say the least.  This however was highbrow compared to what came next...

Mum.  'I love my new mop'
Aunt.  'Oh that's good.  Does it still smell like the old one did?'
Mum. 'No.  I'm not keeping it in the pantry anymore'
Aunt. 'Were you standing it on its head in between uses?  That's probably why it smelt'
Mum. 'No.  Stick down, head up'.
Me. 'What kind of mop have you got then?'
Mum. 'A stringy one that's not string (?)'
Aunt. 'It's a Vileda one, not like mine with the string thongs.  Your mum's are flat and blue'  (Still no wiser)
Me.  'I don't like those mops.  I hate the way I have to rinse them in the washing up bowl'.
Mum.  'Well you know what your problem is, don't you?  You're not using a mop-appropriate bucket'
Aunt.  Silence
Me. Silence

It's another world........

That don't impress me much.....

Words from a Bird.  Day 19

As a happily married lady of the more mature kind, the world of the single person and dating is one that I can find quite puzzling at times.  In days gone by, if a girl was after a boy, you tried some or all of the following: 'my best friend fancies your best friend', blind dates, bike shed, money(it was only once for goodness sake), school disco, kiss chase or flashing your navy blues at playtime.  It would appear that life is not so simple these days....

Several of my very close friends (names have been withheld to protect the not so innocent) are currently looking for their Mr Right.  A couple of them would settle for Mr You'll Do, but that's a story for another day.  So back to the ones who are after their happy ever afters with a gentleman.  How do you go about it these days?  Well of course, there are dating sites a-plenty, all promising to listen very carefully as to what kind of man you're after, and make the perfect match.  I'm not too sure that this actually happens - as when a 5'10" professional friend of mine found herself sitting opposite a 5'2" mushroom picker (same height/radius/width whichever way you looked at him) in a shiny brown suit clutching a bus pass.  She had wondered why he had felt the need to check that the restaurant was on a bus route....

In my mother's day, it would have been Car Maintenance Classes in the evening at the local comp, grubbing around in oily overalls offering to tighten the nuts of the only good looking man there (usually the tutor, so not much point is asking him).  You could join the local pub darts team - the sheer fact of it being a darts team immediately ruled out any love action with the team's male members.  With their beer swollen bellies straining against polyester shirts, and the oft repeated adage of 'All Paid For' being their mating call, it wasn't the best place to go a-courting.

So let's get up to modern day.  All there seems to be is Tinder......someone close (again, no names) has had to get treatment for Repetitive Strain Injury for all the sliding across the screen she's had to do, swiping prospective suitors straight into oblivion.  And as for the choice of men, well I can only compare it to an 'Eat all you Like' Carvery.  It is a relative smorgasbord of baldies, fatties, oldies, weirdos, beards, Speedos (a very popular clothing choice apparently?) and strange looking smiles (all waiting for the timer to go off on the smart phone I expect).  To be honest, if the smart phone had an odour detection app, I would imagine that the whole experience would be touched by just a hint of Eau de Desperation and possibly chlorine (from the Speedo wearers).

Love can't be hunted down.  It can't be chased, tamed and brought to heel.  It creeps up on you when you're not looking, usually catching you out with bad hair and control knickers.  But hey, if he can cope with that, he can cope with anything!

I should say at this point that I am not talking about myself - my hair looked just fine that day......

Monday, 18 January 2016

Me and you, and a dog named who?

Words from a Bird.  Day 18

Raising money for a good cause always makes me feel rather humble.  Today's trip to the windswept beaches of West Wittering was no different.  We were walking on behalf of a heroic little Mini Schnauzer who had drawn massive attention to the atrocious puppy trade in this country and also abroad.  Money raised helps those ex-breeding dogs, introducing them to human kindness...every dog's right.

And so it was that my sister, the husband and I trekked down the A34 towards West Wittering.  We had packed for an Arctic excursion, not too sure what would greet us after the early morning snow showers.  I did feel that packing Kendal Mint Cake was erring on the side of over cautious, but hey ho.....

After several pit stops (this is what happens when you travel with two middle aged ladies) we arrived at the car was absolutely packed with 80 schnauzers and their owners, all doing their bit to raise as much money as possible.  Percy was in doggy heaven; we didn't take our eyes off him for the first five minutes, worried that we would lose him.  However, it soon became very apparent that Percy only had eyes for one dog.  A beautiful mini sporting a lovely orange scarf, flirting and teasing with Percy, encouraging him to run and play.  Percy had eyes for no one else.  Now, we have been considering breeding Percy, and as we looked at the two of them playing, we wondered whether this gorgeous dog could be 'The One'? 

Ten minutes later, the penny finally dropped.  Yes, this dog was definitely 'the one'......the one and only gay dog in the village.  Hugo, as we discovered from HIS owner, is extremely popular with all dogs, and not too picky about who he hangs out with.  Percy, undeterred it would seem by the fact that Hugo was more a woofter than a woofer, carried on running side by side with him, only stopping for the occasional (failed) mounting attempt.  None of this phased the over-generous Hugo, he merely looked over his shoulder and flicked his luxuriant beard in a 'come hither' way.  Percy didn't stand a chance, he was in love.

A stretch on the lead did nothing to dampen Percy's ardour, and after 10 minutes of dragging the husband over the sand in hot pursuit of Hugo, Percy was released once more, his one objective?  Consummation of this beautiful relationship. 

Which probably explains why, five hours after returning home, he hasn't moved off the sofa once.

Achieving the impossible can be exhausting.......

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Surprise, surprise!

Words from a Bird.  Day 17

My wonderful husband never ceases to surprise me.  While having dinner last night, he came out with this priceless gem, 'Well, I love sewing'.  Let me put this into context.  I was telling him about another lovely friend who reads these ramblings; she'll know I'm talking about her.  She had a small tear in her jumper, and I asked her if she had anything to mend it.  She didn't, but apparently her husband was fairly nifty with a needle and thread.  So our conversation over dinner had started about male/female sex-appropriate activities.  Obviously, sewing was a woman's job?  Well apparently not.
The husband then went on to describe, in quite graphic detail,  the case he had made out of that strange yellow material with pre-cut holes in it.  Apparently, he had mastered running and cross stitch, and was also pretty good with zig-zag and blanket.  There was also brief mention of a button hole for goodness sake.

So armed with this information, I started to think.  I thought about the many buttons I have sewn onto boys' shirts over the years, the zips I have re-inserted into skirts, and the seams I have sewn and oversewn on the crotches of jeans.  I remembered the curtains I have taken up and the trousers I have taken down.  And do you know, in all that time, he has never once said to me, 'Here give that to me to do.  I LOVE SEWING....'

Of course, now I am thinking about all the other lights he might have been hiding under the famous bushel.  Perhaps he's good at flower arranging or the plumping of scatter cushions.  Maybe his talents tend to lean towards more manly pursuits such as sword swallowing or wrestling. I just don't know. 

In fact, the only time I have seen his little eyes light up, is if there is a chance to drive something with a shovel on the front, usually involving our drive, someone else's drive, or our (my) allotment.  He can also get quite animated when presented with any kind of power tool, especially one which comes in a matching plastic case.  However, in the fourteen years I have known this man, never once have they lit up at the sight of my sewing basket.

Just goes to show, you never really know anyone, do you? 

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Let it go, let it go....

Words from a Bird....Day 16

After a particularly hard week, the husband suggested a night out at the cinema.  My choice.  Here's how the conversation went:

Me: Let's go and see The Revenant
Husband: What's that about?
Me: It's got Tom Hardy in it.
Husband: Yes..but what's it about?
Me: Snow....oh and a bear...and it's got Tom Hardy in it.
Husband: Anything else on?
Me: Nothing with Tom Hardy in.

You can probably see that nothing was going to tear me away from a good session of Hardy lusting, so settled down with goodies, the lights dimmed and thus started two and a half hours of my life that I shall never get back...

If you haven't see The Revenant as yet, look away now........ 

Oh the disappointment...I thought for the first hour or so that we were watching a foreign film, and was expecting subtitles to appear.  If only I had brought my TV remote, I would have been pressing 888 frantically.  Now I can forgive Tom Hardy most things (if I am honest, he could probably strangle a kitten and I would put it down to a bad day) but I couldn't understand what he was saying at all.  His accent was veering towards a Texas drawl, with a smattering of Home Counties thrown in.  This, of course, explained the music that ran over the top of the dialogue for most of the film.  That needed subtitles too.  As Eric Morecambe said, 'I am playing the right notes, just not in the right order'.  Life Wisdom note here: 'Beware of films with music running all the way through, as they usually have something to hide'.

And as to what they had done to him...well....his character had been scalped, so the hairdo was more of a 'hairdon't'.  I spent a lot of the first hour muttering 'Put a hat on for goodness sake'.  He also looked like he needed a good bath (it did cross my mind as to whether there would be a credit at the end of the film saying 'Mr Hardy's Personal Washer'.  Where was that job when I was looking last year?)

Now one thing I really loved about the film were the scenery shots.  The director obviously likes trees.  He also likes snow, and shots of the sun as it hits those trees and that snow.  He also likes to film melting snow, dripping off those bloody trees.  Now this is all very well if you're making a travelogue, or a documentary about elks or global warning, but not okay for a film about loss and revenge. 

It was almost like the director was saying to Leonardo, 'I know you're having a frightful time, but look at the trees, see how beautiful it all is.  Let it go.....'  Actually, the other line in that song you're all singing in your heads right now is also applicable.  'The cold never bothered me anyway'...along with the cold, frostbite, malnutrition, a possible broken ankle and the loss of three quarters of his entire blood supply didn't phase him either.

So my final review.  I loved it!  Well, it had Tom Hardy in it, didn't it......

Enough said.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Slipping through my fingers...

Words from a Bird.  Day 15

Not every day can be filled with humorous piff-paff and nonsense, and today is one of those days. 

Watching a life slowly slipping away is the hardest thing that any of us have to do, and that time has come with my beloved Nanny Joyce. 

At the fabulous age of 95, you're probably thinking that she's done rather well for herself, and it's about time that she started thinking about leaving us.  I do have this theory that she has had to live to this age to cram in all the things she's done with her life.  Bits would have had to have been left out if she'd only made it to 83.  Knowing her, it wouldn't have been the jazz band, motor bike or sailors that would have been omitted.  But the housework would have taken a real bashing, and my granddad would have worn a shirt resembling a street map most days. 

So we sit and we watch over her, and we watch over each other, caring and supporting through what has been, and will be a difficult time for us all.  We still find humour though, something that manages to get us through anything it would seem.  This afternoon, for example, when Nanny joined us for a few minutes, I asked her if this was the first time she'd got out of bed today.  With all the strength she could muster, she breathed out the word 'Yes'.  My reply?  'You lazy cow!'  It drew a tired smile from her eyes, and for a second you see the beautiful woman hiding inside. 

As she drifted back to sleep, I kissed her and told her how much I loved her.  I mean, I don't want to be have to say that my last words to her were 'You lazy cow!' now do I?

As she enters this next phase in her life, the great love she has shown us is returned in bucket loads. Bits of her family drift in and out of her days, each of us letting her know how much she is loved.  And this love has a weird way of winding itself around those who watch her.  It links us together in our sadness, and puts an arm around our shoulders, in an 'It'll be alright' sort of way.

So when that awful time finally comes, we will be alright....Nanny will see to that.....

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Climb every mountain...

Words from a Bird. Day 14

As my ankle biters wend their merry ways back to university and work after the Christmas break (their break, definitely not mine), I have gradually pulled my house into some semblance of normality.  No longer will I find the odd power cable snaking across the lounge floor, just waiting for me to come in with a cup of tea.  (This is the 21st century version of the bucket of water on the top of the door trick - works every time).  There are no more half drunk cans of coke littering windowsills and that useful area under the bed, you know the one, us adults call it 'the floor'.  Carpet becomes visible again after the southerly migration of odd socks to the washing machine (they make their own way down the stairs like a long line of lemmings) and there tends to be food in the fridge once more.

It was with trepidation therefore, that today I girded my loins and headed into son number 2's bedroom.  I had left his one till last, as I had naively assumed that he would have done some element of tidying up since last year as he still lives at home. 

Nope.....he is obviously not concerned in the slightest about using clamp-ons and a mountaineering pick to scale the piles of detritus standing between the door and his bed.  The cobwebs hanging down from every corner, and dust bunnies on the windowsill and every single flat surface are not a worry either. Looking at it from the doorway, I assumed this was what Walt Disney was picturing when he designed The Haunted House in Orlando. 

Looking at my duster, polish and small carrier bag, I decided that this was not going to be man enough for this particular job.  Returning with bleach, Marigolds, a face mask and a roll of black bin liners, my trousers tucked in my socks, I said what I normally say on these occasions.  'I'm going in'.

For once, I found nothing that would make my eyebrows shoot off the top of my head.  In the past, I have discovered things which have triggered questions such as 'What does he do with that?' or 'Why is he buying those?', or on rare occasions, 'Why didn't he ask me first?' and even rarer, 'What the hell is that?'

So nothing exciting to report, which I suppose is a good thing.  Either that or he is paying the dust bunnies to hide things for him....

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Bag lady..

Words from a Bird.  Day 13

After the thunderbolt from the Grim Reaper yesterday lunchtime, it set me thinking about whether there was something I should be doing to disguise or slow down the ravages of time.  Now I fully appreciate that a brown paper bag, although job appropriate, is not acceptable headwear for a middle aged woman... alternatives had to be found.

Which is how I found myself standing in front of the No 7 counter in Boots, staring in complete bewilderment at the shelf upon shelf of tubes of serums.  It wasn't that I didn't understand the concept, I had merely left the varifocals in the car, and couldn't see a damn thing.

'Can I help you Madam?'

Cue beautiful Indian lady, looking at me with some concern.  By the time she had finished speaking, I had managed to grab one of the tubes, pretending to read the small print (please God, it was the right way up).  A little hand laid gently on my arm, and a soft voice said, 'Not that one madam, that's for the 20-35 year age range.  Can I suggest that you try this one for the 30-45 year range?'  Oh, she's good. I thought.  Well trained in flattery and sycophancy. Well, the print was bigger on the one she gave me, which was a positive, so looking for a little more flattery, I said, 'But I'm 52, is there another tube for my age group?'  It was at this point that I found myself playing Top Trumps with a No.7 adviser on a Tuesday afternoon.  'Well, I am 64 and I use this one, so it should be fine for you'.

64....64.....oh for goodness sake....there was no way I was going to beat that.  So I did what any normal person did.  Bought three tubes of serum (they were on offer...)  I reckon these should last me until around 2020, by which time, I will definitely be in the 45-60 year range.

Either that, or I shall be sporting a well-ironed brown paper bag with a couple of eye holes neatly cut in.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The day the penny finally dropped..

Words from a Bird.  Day 12

A year ago today, I started my three week temporary assignment at Grundon.  Apart from a short respite in May, I am still in Binland, loving every minute.  My anniversary coincided with a new salesman joining our team; to welcome him aboard the wheelie bin of fortune, we all trolleyed down to the local hostelry for lunch, courtesy of the boss (or the boss's boss, not too sure..)

It was while we sitting around the table ordering from the menu, that I realised that I AM OLD.  My dignified, grown-up choice from the menu, Pollo e Panna with a lime and soda was taken first, followed by 'three burgers and chips, two lemonades and a coke, and can we have straws please'.  The gorgeous waitress, who obviously thought I was doing rather well for myself, surrounded by three young lads, was all eyelashes and heaving bosom while talking to them.  I am not sure if she thought I was their mother, or maybe their parole officer?  After all, they were all suited and booted and on their best behaviour.

Conversation was interesting; just who is Jason Derulo?  It would appear that I am nearer in age to the other Jason (him of the Argonaut fame) than this chap.  Mind you, none of them had ever heard of A-ha, so I suppose we're even.  It was at this point in the conversation that I realised that I had tights older than these three, some of which still have the occasional outing. 

The lad closest in age to me (still young enough to be one of my offspring) has recently had his first child. He was telling us about an episode of 'One Born Every Minute' which he had seen.  The two younger boys had glazed over at this point, blood draining from their faces, so trying to claw back the conversation, I said that once you have four children over the age of 18, you tend to watch Dexter (still ploughing our way through this, only another 14 episodes to go).   As you may know, Dexter Morgan is a serial killer who covers his tracks meticulously, getting away with murder time and time again.  You can never have enough knowledge, that's what I say.

Food finished, coffees drunk, bill paid.  The boys all had to go back to work, dragging their heels and muttering 'Do we have to?' while I ushered them out of the restaurant like a rather wrinkly, blond Welsh Collie,  fresh off the set of One Man and His Dog.

Me?  Well I went home to look up exactly who Jason Derulo is.  You've heard the saying about making an old man happy?  Well after precisely 23 very happy seconds looking at Mr Derulo's website through my varifocals, I heard my mother's voice of reason wafting through my head......'Know your limits dear, know your limits..' 

Point taken......

Monday, 11 January 2016

Hello ducky..

Words from a Bird.  Day 11

The hunter/gatherer I happen to share my house with came home with a feathered offering on Saturday.  Two whole ducks.  The look I gave him said it all....

What do you expect me to do with them

Unless food comes into my house nestled in a carrier bag and sporting a bar code, I am not really interested.  Don't get me wrong, I like to know that the life my food has led prior to being incinerated has been a happy and full (if short) one, but far be it for me to take away the jobs of all those hard working people who get it from grass to trolley.

There have been occasions when I have prepared and eaten food that son number 2 has shot; my fillings could tell you a tale or two, that's for sure.  So I said to Bear Grylls, in his khaki safari suit, standing there clutching the aforementioned ducks, 'You pluck them, I'll cook them'. 

Now, on Saturday night, in conversation with three of the four children, I asked them if they wanted to come to lunch on Sunday.  'What's on offer?' asked son number 1. (Can you sense his priorities?)  'Roast beef', I replied, unless your dad plucks the ducks, in which case, we'll be having them'.  Our children know their dad well.... 'Will you be doing Yorkshire pudding with that beef?'

Sunday dawns, bright and sunny, and the husband, armed with rubber gloves and safety goggles, disappears into the garage with Donald and Daisy. 

After much procrastination and some rather fowl (sorry) language, I heard a power tool being fired up.  Too scared to see with my own eyes what he was up to, I waited......

Half an hour later, Bear Grylls re-entered the kitchen, covered with feathers (as was the dog) goggles on his head....turns out that plucking a duck straight from the fridge is not the best way to do it.  It was at this point that he had kick-started the electric sander with a view to removing the feathers more quickly.  So it did work to a certain degree, no feathers, but also not much meat left. Mind you, what was left had a lovely shine to it......

My lovely Italian friend took what was left of Donald and Daisy.  No part of an animal is safe with her, and she had plans to boil the feet. 

I am hoping that she was talking about the ducks and not the husband.......

Sunday, 10 January 2016

We are family..

Words from a Bird...Day 10

I won the lottery last night.  Now, before you all reach for your pens/keyboards to construct a thoughtfully worded begging letter, it wasn't that lottery.  No, it was my nephew's birthday, and it was celebrated with style in an Italian restaurant (sounding all a bit Billy Joel there) in Virginia Water.

This had been secretly arranged by his beautiful girlfriend, and it was odd going to a family celebration that my sister or I hadn't organised.  Those of you that know us both will obviously be nodding right now, acknowledging are party planning prowess.  In fact, we are both still rather surprised that HRH didn't get in touch in 2012....

So, guests all assembled in restaurant, balloons wafting six feet above the table, celebrating the fact that James was 62 (finally twigged that they needed turning round after the main course) waiting for the guest of honour to turn up, my sister so looking forward to his face as he walked in.  How surprised would he be?  Would he sob tears of joy to see all his wonderful friends and family in one room?  Well no actually, because the only people who didn't know it wasn't a surprise were my sister and me. 

She had been telling me all week that James didn't know a thing, and it was going to be a huge shock for him.  Having seen him yesterday morning, I had asked him, trying to continue the subterfuge, what he was doing that night to celebrate his birthday.  Knowing what I now know, it explains the confused look he gave me. 

Now, we could put this down to poor communication.  We could also explain it away as wishful thinking.  However, I am more inclined to think that at respective ages of 50 and 25 (I also turned my balloons round), my sister and I have limited memory capacity.  We need that space to remember far more important stuff, like not wearing our slippers to work, or where we live.

Carrying the balloons down into the bar after dinner, a woman grabbed my arm, and said 'Happy Birthday!  You look great for 62!'  Wasn't too sure how to respond to this, but eventually decided on, "P"** off.  I'm 26, have had 7 children, three husbands and am currently battling a crack cocaine addiction. It's been a hard life......' 

Not withstanding the Surprise Birthday Party not being what it said on the tin, it was a fantastic evening filled with joy, laughter, love and Malbec.  So yes, when I got my loopy family, I definitely won the lottery.

(PS...I did win a free Lucky Dip...does that count?)

Saturday, 9 January 2016

That shrinking feeling..

Words from a Bird....Day 9

After receiving an invitation for a health check on his 50th birthday, the husband, at the ripe old age of 52 and three quarters finally plucked the courage up to make the appointment with the doctor.  I think that he had got fed up of daughter number 1 going on about how unhealthy he was.  This comment was usually triggered by a jacket potato with butter, mayonnaise, cheese, then more butter, so I could see where she was coming from. 

So, he had called the doctor to make the appointment, and was given the first available one....4th January 2016...the first day back to work after two weeks of eating anything that stopped moving long enough.  This was going to be interesting.

He seemed quite pleased when we talked about it later in the day.  'Nothing wrong with me.  She was very happy,  Everything seems fine'.  It then transpires that the only results back on the day were the blood pressure (a little high), the weight (a little over), the waist measurement (a little long), and the activity levels (a little low).  So, all in all, I think that his 'everything seems fine' was maybe being a little optimistic.

Today, the results came back and yes, other than some very small tweaks, there's nothing to worry about, which is lovely news.  Was he happy?  Was he shouting about his wonderful body and health?  Did he call daughter number 1 to gloat?  No.  He has read one line at the bottom of the report which has caused him real distress.  Apparently he has shrunk two inches.  We are talking two vertical inches here rather than anything more sinister, so please don't be alarmed.  Now for me, this is not an issue, but for the husband? Well, you would have thought that the world had ended. 

I did try and appease his anguish by comparing him to a Play-Doh sausage.  The thinner you roll it and the longer it gets.  Obviously, his particular sausage has been patted at both ends, reducing the length and increasing the width.  I rest my case....

As for him, well he keeps muttering about stacked heels and shoe lifts.....

Friday, 8 January 2016


Words from a Bird Day 8

My mother has always told my sister and I that it is the 'quiet ones' we have to watch out for as we go through life.  She is obviously talking about men, so good motherly advice.  It would appear that this advice could just as easily have been applied to one of my many children....

Over the last few days, all four children (I use the term loosely) had been complaining about their mobiles, with each of their siblings calling them and then denying making the call.  Various theories had been put forward as to who was behind the prank calls, especially by daughter number 1. We had discussed poltergeist activity, a glitch on her dad's mobile phone after a lengthy group conversation with all of them and Apple.  When out of desperation (as if blaming ghosts and Apple weren't desperate enough), she started pointing the finger at daughter number 2, I said, 'But she's far too busy to muck around with prank calls.  She's got revision and some serious exams coming up.  You can't genuinely believe that she would find time to do this, can you?  She's so sensible, and I haven't spoken to her since Monday as she's been in the library all that time......'

Three minutes later, daughter number 2 keeled over in submission, admitting that she had been calling two siblings up from separate phones with number withheld, then putting the phones next to each other so that the two recipients could have a conversation, usually along the lines of...

'Who's this?'
'It's Elliot.  Who's this?'
'It's Samuel.  What do you want?'
'What do you mean 'what do I want'?  You called me'
'No I didn't, you just called me'
'No, you called me - I'm texting my call log to you now....see, you called me'

Best one has to be between son number 1 and daughter number 2's boyfriend...

'Who's this?'
'It's Samuel, you called me.  Who's this?'
'It's James, and you called me'
'Oh, sorry, must be a wrong number'
'Yeah, no worries mate'

So yes, where men are concerned, it is always best to avoid those quiet ones.  Before you know it, they've bought a Kia C'eed.  I know my mother always warned me that they'd have their hand up my skirt before I knew it, but at my age, I find the Kia C'eed slightly more of a threat (and more likely).

I have allowed myself a quiet smile though - it is a good thing when one of your children can still surprise you as they hurtle towards adulthood. 

Like my mum says, 'It's always the quiet ones...'

Thursday, 7 January 2016

I believe I can fly..

Words from a Bird.  Day 7

It would appear that I am unable to fly.  Surprised?  Not as much as I was when I found myself in a crumpled heap in the middle of the field during a dog walk yesterday afternoon.  Dignity gone out of the window rapidly followed by a new pair of black opaques....oh the shame.  So glad that no one saw me delicately rising from the mud, flashing (large) drawers to whoever might have been unlucky enough to be pulling their curtains at 5.00 last night.  So, limping back to the house, rubbing at my muddy knees like a five year old who's fallen off her bike, I assumed that a hot bath and a couple of painkillers would set me right.  How wrong I was....

Having spent the whole night doing a one leg goose-step around the house, it was off to A&E in the morning...the sensible thing to do.  There are two reasons why I did this.  Firstly, there was a small chance that they might be able to help me in achieving a mid leg bend.  Secondly, it would mean escaping from the husband and his can of 'Cure-All' menthol, freeze spray, which he insisted on squirting at me at every opportunity.  Being unable to walk, I was a sitting target, and by 10.00 last night, his aim not being all it should be, I was numb between my neck and left ankle.  For a brief time between 8.30-9.15, my mouth was paralyzed and I looked like I had a Bell's Palsy.  I had also developed a respiratory complaint from his wild nozzle inaccuracy.  The positive side of all this was that I could breathe beautifully, so not all bad....

A wonderful morning spent at A&E, tights off, tights on, tights off, tights on........tights eventually chucked in the bin as I couldn't be bothered to keep doing it.  Four hours later, armed with instructions which involved peas, elevation and lots of rest (Ha!  I am a woman, did the doctor not notice that?) I walked out of the hospital, in a style which John Cleese would have been proud of, pale white legs glinting in the winter sunshine, the look completed with a week's worth of leg stubble (it is January after all)  and a rather large bruise on my knee. I was also clutching a packet of horse pills.

Apparently, my patella has shifted.  I tell you, if those horse pills turn out to be ones that are not taken orally, that won't be the only thing that will be shifting...

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Scratch that itch..

Words from a Bird.  Day 6

Having spent the last few days advert free, courtesy of Dexter Morgan and Netflix (Season 8, Episode 7 last night), I felt that I had managed to bypass those very particular adverts that you tend to see around this time of year.  However, this was until the husband demanded, yes demanded, that he be allowed to watch Two and a Half Men last night.  This from the man who earlier on had told me that we had 51 minutes spare to watch another episode of Dexter. This was do-able as long as we skipped the starting credits. (You can see that he has mastered another forwarding).

So, we settled down to watch aforementioned sitcom about a good looking bloke living with a bit of an old woman (maybe that's why he likes it so much, there's things there that he can relate to), when the adverts came on.  Now, I don't mind the fact that DFS/SCS have sales on (same sale, similar sofa, different name) or that there are many, many places abroad where I shall never go.  It doesn't bother me that clothes I bought for Christmas are now half price, nor do the many references to juicers/blenders/soup makers/spiralizers(no idea what these are) irritate me.  I appreciate that these are all things to either look forward to sometime later in the year, or they are to encourage me to strive for physical excellence.

However, what I do take particular umbrage at, as I lay on the sofa (which is now turned around so as to give the left hand side springs a break) wearing the vacuum knickers I vowed to be out of by Monday is the KFC advert.  I am sure that they had bought extra air time to really drive home the sheer joy of a Bargain Bucket.  Now, they call this the 'Classic Crowd Pleaser'.  Well I am sorry, but by the time the advert was finished, I was thinking of it as a Meal-for-One, no crowd required.  Of course, we all know that once you have an itch, you are going to have to scratch it.  There was no way that I was going out in search of the Colonel, and the husband was eyeing me suspiciously as I sat there, eyes glazed over and salivating like a rabid dog.

So I did what every self respecting female would slice of rather curly ham from the back of the fridge, rolled up to mimic a drumstick,  liberally rubbed with a chicken stock cube, accompanied with the inside leaves of a wilting Little Gem Lettuce, liberally covered with Hellmans, and a bag of salt and vinegar crisps.  Yep that did it....

So my definition of KFC....'Keep Fingers Crossed' that I survive the day (that ham almost made its own way on to my plate).......

Tuesday, 5 January 2016


Words from a Bird.  Day 5.

So, first day back at Binland today.  Wonderful to be amongst the skips and wheelie bins again.  Obviously talking (about) rubbish all over Christmas isn't quite the same. 

Younger son very happy to see me go this morning, as this gave him five hours of laying in bed surrounded by empty chocolate wrappers, watching Jeremy Kyle and the feral underbelly of British civilisation.  It makes him feel normal apparently....

Talking about Jeremy Kyle, I have long had a theory about the people that appear on the show.  I think that the interview process probably goes along these lines...

Q1  Do you, or have you, ever slept with/stolen from/fathered a child with/shared drugs with an inappropriate family member?
Q2  Do you only wear clothes borrowed from a much thinner friend?
Q3  Is your vocabulary limited, with four letters and one syllable being your limit?
Q4  Do you tend to slouch with your legs at a 90 degree angle? (Mostly applicable to males, but females get bonus points for answering yes)
Q5  Do you have a set of teeth that resembles a London street in 1941?

If you can answer 'yes' to at least three of these, then you're through to the next round.

I think that this final question is:


Of course, if you can only provide a 'yes' to Q5, this gives you an automatic pass straight through to the show.

So yes, I can see why my son feels 'normal'.......

Monday, 4 January 2016

The day of The Big Purple One..

Words from a Bird.  Day 4. 

Having many of our children at home over Christmas always brings new discoveries, some of which I have historically wished had remained undiscovered.  However, this year, it was Netflix.  Now, for the husband, this was an absolute revelation.  NO ADVERTS!  So, 17 episodes of Dexter later, life at number 35 has come to a complete standstill.  The lounge curtains remain unopened all day, the dog is unfed (along with the remaining child in the house who has driven off foraging for food around the fleshpots of Wallingford).  The husband seems to have lost all use of his legs, and has paused Dexter on a couple of occasions to suggest a takeaway, oh and one of those snuggle blankets advertised in the Mail on Sunday's supplement.  He is well and truly hooked and may need to be prised off the sofa with the promise of the last two 'Big Purple Ones' from the Quality Street tub.

As the children flee the constraints of family life once more, leaving the youngest to bear the brunt of room tidying and dishwasher emptying, I mourn the noise of the last two weeks.  Not to worry, I now have the husband shouting out "Season 7!  Quick!" and "Who's eaten the last of the 'Big Purple Ones?" to drown out the silence.   I also miss the activity and 'busyness' that the children bring into the house.  Looking at the husband as he starts Season 8, remote control in one hand and a fistful of purple wrappers in the other, he may not be able to fill that particular gap so easily......

Sunday, 3 January 2016

It's like this...

Words from a Bird.  Day 3.  Since the announcement of the new Star Wars film, I have had to watch the husband skip excitedly from foot to foot in anticipation of two and a half hours of joy.  You will note that we have not been so quick off the mark in going to see this....there is a very good reason. 

During the early part of the 21st century, possibly over a span of three years, I spent many a hair-pulling hour trying to explain to the husband that the first trilogy was in fact the second trilogy, whereas the second trilogy (the first) was the prequel to the first trilogy (the second).  I think I had just about got this explained to him,  had taken a deep breath and filed it away deeply in an area of my brain with a padlock.  Till yesterday.....

So, settled down in our seats, the story unfolds quite neatly then the husband turns to me and says in a knowing voice....."I bet that kid they're talking about is Luke Skywalker".....Cue ten seconds of fervent whispering as I tried to explain again, going over the whole "This is three, two came first, followed by one, so this is following the first films......"  He wasn't convinced.

My whole cinematic experience was complemented by the 6'4" warthog who was seated to my left.  Never have I seen (or heard) so much food consumed by a human.  In the film's bar scene, it felt like a 4D experience. 

So, the film draws to a close.  Applause from the audience, warthog leaves as credits roll, husband lets out a wail, and says, "Oh's like Lord of the Rings all over again".  I am thinking that the whole trilogy concept has passed him by.  Never mind, I've probably got a couple of years to reinforce the lessons taught between 2001-2004.......

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Where did you go?

Words from a Bird....Day 2.

First day of the new year finds me laid prostrate on the couch, mourning the loss of my waistline.  I am wondering whether elasticated waistbands are something that is acceptable to a 52 year old?  Probably not, so I will have to make do with the vacuum knickers and a discreetly released top button for the time being.  This situation will improve of course; my mum has always said that the quicker you put it on, the quicker you lose it.  After the New Year's Eve binge, I reckon I should be back down to my fighting weight at around 10.27 this morning.....fingers crossed (well, sort of laid next to each other, can't quite get one over the other just yet...)

So, going back to yesterday, I did haul my sorry carcass on a rather long walk with the husband and dog.  Of course, having checked with my new Fitbit (this is a pedometer, not some handsome Personal Trainer) I was able to confirm to the husband that we had walked far enough to justify a bacon sandwich, two slices of birthday cake, two mince pies, a beer and half a tin of sweets.  Not all in one sitting of course, but neatly straddled either side of a leg of lamb.  The more I think about it, 10.27 is looking less likely.

I have always found New Year's Day puzzling.  We spend the night before celebrating the fact that we have had another wonderful year on this dawns, and we are rapidly making a list of all the things we are going to change to make the coming year richer/thinner/fitter/better etc etc. 

My advice is don't give anything up, just take something up....for me this year, it's much loved words.  Hopefully, this will last longer than my gym membership (2009), my wish to learn sign language (2012) and vegetarianism (2004).  If I can make it to Day 4, I shall class this as an unmitigated success!

Friday, 1 January 2016

Please allow me to introduce myself....

Words from a Bird, Day 1.

So, I don't know what made me say minute I was singing Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey live on the radio to unsuspecting listeners, the next I was telling the world (well approximately 1000, less those still in bed/at the sales/listening to some other station, which probably brings it down to 47) about my New Year's resolution to up my game on the humorous (readers' word, not mine) holiday blogs which I had written over the course of last year.  So here we go...

My last night of 2015 was spent with my long-suffering husband, my beloved sister Kelly and her friend (Mr H) at the local casino, something we have done for the last three years.  A lot has been send about previous forays into this establishment, usually regarding the fact that I am the one who always wins.  Much pressure was placed on my shoulders as they were all wanting to give me their money to bet with, and then split whatever I made.  Well, if this had actually happened, then this fine morning they would be sharing with me an increased overdraft and a month long pass at the local food bank.  It may also be necessary to sell one of my many children.  It would appear that luck has a shelf life.....

Kelly and I had dressed up, as befitting a New Year's celebration.  Most people there had omitted the 'up' in their pre-party preparation, so we did look rather overdressed.  Quite surprising how many tattoos were on show......all spelt right, and beautifully coloured in.  It's always reassuring to know that a primary education is never wasted.....