Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bad day, bad week

It's been a pretty tough week. Early on, I made a trip back to Weston to sort some of my mother's possessions and then on the way home I made a detour to clear my parent's grave and plant a small shrub. They were sad, depressing tasks and I felt a little forlorn at the graveside, alone, on bleak winter's afternoon.

And then... just when I needed to cheer myself up, my broadband packed up for nearly three days, my tooth broke and I spent 3 hours in casualty with Master Jacob who had a possible fractured wrist. Chuck in a few burnt teas, a teenage son and not winning The National Lottery AGAIN and you have one well stressed out woman.

However, the good news is;

I didn't crash into any other car! Hurrah!

However, Master Benedict's Tonka Toy collection is now looking a bit worse for wear. And as for Master Jacob's Action Man - he gets up to some right mischief.

(Especially when Barbie is around.)

Okay, let's talk about the other good things that happened!

1) I wrote my next article for the BBC entitled "Tidings of Comfort and Joy." I hope you can find time to read it because it's mostly about school plays which if you're a parent you'll probably know just what I'm talking about! And just to keep you guessing... The Day of Reckoning has arrived and I will be blogging about this important topic shortly.

2)The Book Club ladies met to discuss The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore.
( Ho, ho, ho. )You know what's coming later in the week don't you? Oh yes, and a review of Fat Tuesday by Gary Davison. (Hee, hee, hee.)

3) Some of blogging friends kept me laughing. Especially Master Sy with this post here and Mr Intrepid with this post here.

4) Master Jacob's wrist was not fractured!

5)I prepared pork stew for tonight's tea and left Mr T in charge of it whilst it simmered gently away awaiting my return from tennis with Master Benedict.

And Mr T burnt it.

Oh, sweet vengeance...............................

Okay let's finish with a sing song. The song below is called "Bad Day" and is sung by the up and coming Daniel Powter. It's a snappy little tune from about 2 years ago which always gets me singing along. And you know what? Even though I've had a few bad days this week, I've still found time for a few smiles too.

Roll on next week.....



Copyright Jane Turley 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Against the clock

Whilst catching up on some of my blogging friends this morning I popped over to Laura's site Delighted Scribbler who is one of my newest blogging friends and what a surprise was in store for me. For Laura has discovered a new application called Write or Die where you can set yourself writing targets against the clock. And if you want to be particularly masochistic you can put it into kamikaze mode whereby if you don't write fast enough your words will disappear before your very eyes!

So this is what I am doing right now! I've set at target of 1500 words in 30 minutes. I've no idea at what speed I normally write; I'm not one for timing and organization I just write what I feel and when I feel like it which probably explains why I haven't finished my book yet! I also find it very easy to be distracted… by virtually anything. Especially anything that is tasty (if you know what I mean!)

My last post was about insomnia; I suffer from it quite a lot so if you've ever wondered why a comment pops on your blog at a ridiculous time of the day/night now you know why! But hey I have some fun at night it's not all tears and droopy eyelids. Sometimes I get stuck into a conversation with Master Sy who, if you've not realised is a bit of a teccy guy and works nights at an important British Institution. (MacDonalds) We usually talk complete drivel but hey that's what the two of us do best! Sometimes I ask him for teccy advice which probably annoys the pants of him. (Actually I know it does because early on he told me he hated it when people ask him computer related questions. - I guess it's rather like being a doctor being plagued by endless questions when your in the loo or having a cup of tea - or a film star having a quiet lunch only to be interrupted by a pain in the arse autograph hunter who doesn't know the boundaries.) Anyway being the useless IT person that I am over the course of the time I've sneaked a few questions.... usually in a pleading, grovelling fashion like;

" Oh Master Sy, you are so clever and exceedingly funny and I am so thick and I simply cannot figure out how to do this application and I have tried ever so hard and my poor, poor head is a spinning and I 've run out of chocolate and I just can't think anymore. Will you please, please help poor Mrs T, Oh pretty please! I will be forever indebted to you. I will worship the ground you walk on forever!"

Well something like that, except there maybe a little more grovelling involved.

Anyway, the good thing about Master Sy is that he never, never says "No". Isn’t that great? What a super star and he doesn't have a big head. (Or does he?!! Hee, hee, hee - sorry that information is only known to Mrs Sy!) Well that brings me onto the subject of relationships...

I was reading Mr Geoffrey’s post on cyber relationships and I agreed with a lot of it. The Internet can break down the barriers that exist between people. I think people are free to communicate without the fear of stigma and can be free to be who they want to be. There is greater freedom of speech; for many I suspect it is easier to communicate by words than face to face and maybe that does lead to relationships and friendship developing with greater ease. I see that as only a good thing. Certainly the friendships I have developed over the last year have been rewarding and fruitful and have only added to my enjoyment of life.

In real life we are not guaranteed to receive the love and care we would hope for even from our nearest and dearest. Some people cannot ever express themselves fully. For example I received a sympathy card from someone I have known for 20 years which simply read “Sorry to hear your news" I see this person regularly and not once have they expressed sadness for the loss of my mother or for my well being.

I'm not entirely sure what I'm saying here…I'm writing as fast as I can against the clock. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I personally find the Internet a wonderful source of communication and I've made friendships that I value. Of course there are disadvantages and pitfalls but there is with anything and we just have to pick through things until we find what works for us and what gives us the greatest pleasure.

Well, it won't be long till its Christmas; I love buying presents for my friends. But I like to find just the right present; I don't think there's much point otherwise. I thought I'd make a start yesterday and did a little surfing and Lo and Behold I found the perfect present for Master Sy! Here it is:

Do you…..STOP!!

846 words in 30 minutes! I'll just finish up.....

Well do you like what I've found for Master SY? You know what; I think he will. The question is do I get large or extra large to fit over his BIG HEAD????

Well, I don't think I could have written any faster! But I'm not particularly quick as I only really began typing 2/3 years ago. So if you're a speedy typist you may manage more; why don't you give it a go? It'll get the old brain cells ticking over! I've left the script as I wrote it with the exception of one nonsensical word, changing the writing application name as I'd incorrectly titled it and correcting my (many) spelling mistakes. I was altering my mistakes as I was going along but soon realised I was wasting valuable time, so don't make the same error!

Have fun and thanks for the link Laura!

Ugh, I have insomnia!



Okay we'll get to the loo cleaner in a minute. Perhaps because it's the nearly 3 am nothing will do what I want it to do! Or it could be that I'm stupid! Anyway...here's where I actually started...

Yes, yes yes. It's 1.55 am and I have insomnia again. Obviously this means I am either a genius or I am nuts.

Somehow I think it's got more to do with being nuts.

Anyhow I am just going to write off the cuff. Tricky in these pyjamas with long baggy sleeves but I'll give it a try.

You know just when I think my insomnia is getting better it gets worse again. Humph. Maybe it something all Mrs Ts share because apparently the really famous Mrs T, Mrs Thatcher, hardly needed any sleep either. Mind you in the early hours she was probably doing something constructive like drafting Laws, writing speeches and grilling a few cabinet members whereas I just switch on my PC and read blogs, oggle pictures of Pierce and scribe letters to Tom Cruise. I usually start my letters to Tom like this;

"Dear Tom,

I do hope this letter didn't get stuck in letterbox; I know it would be very tiresome for you to have to get your ladder out so early in the morning to retrieve it. Never mind, next time remember to send one of your bodyguards down to the gate to collect it. By the way how is Grumpy, Sneezy and the rest of the gang?..."

Of course, when I write to Tom Jones is a completely different matter,

"Darling Tom,

Oh baby you are one hell of a mover!(Even for an old guy) Mmmm....I just love the way you swing those hips and shake that wholesome booty! Don't forget to swing on by my place next time your in the UK - I'll put my granny knickers on and we can do a duet....."

This insomnia is bad for me eh? Ah well, it could be worse I could suffer from insomnia AND be overwieght.

Oh, I am.

Damn. Still it could be worse, I could suffer from insomnia, be overweight and have 3kids who drive me bonkers and a cat that throws up daily on the carpet.

Oh, I do.

Hmm.. I'm not discovering any therapies here to make me sleep. However, what I have discovered lately is this;

YES THE PICTURE SHOULD BE HERE!!

Yep, toilet cleaner. No, no, no! Stop thinking Mrs T's loos are dirty because she has only just discovered loo cleaner. I mean THIS particular Loo cleaner which has revolutionary "beads" in it. Yes ladies (and any gents who are interested) I can now exfoliate my Loo. Well thank goodness for that! I only hope all that extra abrasion doesn't have a disatrous effect on my lovely white porcelain; I don't want it to wear thin and find my loo trembling and shaking as I'm sitting there gracefully one day with my knickers round my ankles. What if it collapsed? Imagine the headlines in the local paper;

"Housewife goes round the Bend in flushing disaster."

Mrs J Turley was rescued by fireman after being trapped down her toilet. Suffering from acute breathing difficulties and in urgent need of resusiticion she was pulled dramatically free by a team of 5 firemen, a pully and a large tub of Vaseline. Chief Fireman Mr Cruise said;

" It was a horrendous job and frankly if I'd found any excuse not to be there I would have taken it. However I did have a bet on with Officer Davison that we could release the woman in under 2 minutes so I stuck around. Unfortunately it took 2 hours to release the woman as proceedings were hampered by what we thought was a large parachute but later discovered to be a large pair of XXXL granny knickers"

What time is it? 2.39 am. Well that filled in some time. What next? Oh I don't know maybe it's time to surf a little or maybe I'll even go and clean the loo.....

Copyright Jane Turley 2008

Oh yes..about those dinosaurs with the cleaner.. Hey I was bored! Just how do you make loo cleaner look interesting? You know it was a really, really big bottle of loo cleaner cos I hear dinosaurs are usually pretty big too....

Ps..the spell check is not working either so If I've spellt anyfing inkorrectly give me a brake.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Moments in History

Sometimes a man steps forwards from the ranks and brings with him hope, faith and a belief in mankind. His path has been laid since birth. His life has been a long, challenging journey to bring him to this one moment in time; the moment where he will change the future and restore balance to the world. He may have been born in poverty, raised by a substitute mother and faced adversity because of his ancestry but one day he will have such presence, such power, that he will become an unstoppable force for change.

You know exactly who I mean. Don’t you?

Yep, that's right; Luke Skywalker.

Cripes can you believe it? It’s over 30 years since Star Wars hit the screens! I remember queuing up to watch it back in 1977 and I’ve been addicted to it ever since. Yep, I’m one of those losers who can quote Star Wars at the drop of a hat, posess my own Darth Vader mask (Mmm… kinky) and have watched every episode so many times I have a recurrent nightmare where I turn into Jabba the Hutt.

You know they say dreams can be very close to reality.

Still if I make it to the 40th Star Wars anniversary in 2017 I’ll be looking more like Yoda by then. I’ll be able to trade in my slug pellets for some giant earrings and start wearing a tea towel for a coat. Hoorah! That should keep down the electricity bills till I start getting the government's supplementary heating payment when I turn 80.

Anyway 2017 is obviously a year I will be looking forward to - but hey not so much as I’m looking forward to next year! Cos you know what... 2009 is a very special year. Do you know why? Come on...think hard!

Yes, you’re right... it WILL be 100 years since the birth of Cubby Broccoli. Wow...any excuse to celebrate Bond and I’m up for it!

However, that’s not the answer I was looking for.

Will it be 500 years since Henry VIII ascended the English throne?

Why yes indeed!

(Hey, nobody tell Mark Stoneman he may party too much. Believe me I know all about those History Professors; they can really get down and groove.)

Okay, maybe I won’t be celebrating Henry’s ascent quite so much. But you know if Henry had been born as a Henrietta and had 6 husbands and chopped 2 of their heads off I would be celebrating Big Time. So I guess I’ll just wear my little party hat that reads “Henry VIII had syphilis” on it and whistle Greensleeves instead.

Now there IS quite an important anniversary next year; it will 75 years since Percy Shaw the inventor of “Cat’s Eyes” (Oh come on...you know...the little reflective light thingies in the middle of the road) installed the first fifty on a stretch of road in Bradford, England.

I can think of a lot to say about Percy Shaw but I’ll keep it simple;

Bastard.

Mrs T likes slalom style driving so she can pretend she is in a Bond movie. Those dratted Cat’s Eyes ruin all my fun. Humph.

Okay, what else could be a big anniversary next year?

Will it be 40 years since Charles de Gaulle resigned? (Ah… who cares? It’s only French History. Somebody turn the lights off.)

Will it be 60 years since the formation of NATO? Yep! You know I thought NATO meant meant North Atlantic Treaty Organization but when I looked back at my history notes from my college days I’ve written the meaning as Not Another Tutu-wearing Organization. Guess I’d change my name to Jaap de Hoop Scheffer too if I wanted to disguise my true identity. Anyway, I hear big skirts are on the agenda for the next summit.

So you give up then?

Okay, it exhilarating, mind blowing stuff.

Next year it will be 60 years of NODDY. Yeah, just great. Whoppee Do!!

Yep, I love Enid Blyton in the same way I love Katie Holmes; they both have a penchant for small elf like creatures with large oversized boots.

Anyhow, I had the (mis)fortune of seeing an interview with Enid’s granddaughter on the BBC to promote a new Noddy book which is to be released next year. It sounded absolutely enthralling and entertaining!

I will be dashing out to get it as fast as my wooden leg will let me.

Have I enthused about Noddy enough? Yep. So that’s it. Bye for now.

Oh yeah, and about that Barack Obama guy. I reckon he could be big.

Pretty big indeed.

Copyright Jane Turley 2009

Friday, November 14, 2008

Just because I felt like it

I'm in a reflective mood at the moment as most most people are after a bereavement but my thoughts have reminded me of one of my favourite films All of Me starring the very talented Steve Martin. The excerpt below is all about life after death but done in the most entertaining fashion possible. The first time I saw this film and particularly the last 3 minutes or so of this clip I absolutely fell about laughing so stick with the clip till the end- you won't regret it. I'm laughing right now and I've watched it countless times - and if you ever get the chance to watch the film in full I heartily recommend it!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Love letters, car crashes and tanks. (Beat that for diversity.)

While I was sorting through some of my mother’s photos and memorabilia I was delighted to find two love letters from my father written in the early fifties. They were utterly sweet and charming with little drawings scattered amongst the prose and I will always treasure them as a reminder of my parent’s love for each other.

It did lead me to think, regretfully, that I’ve never actually had a love letter from Mr T.

Humph. Big time.

Although to be fair I’ve had some really lovely thoughtful gifts. If you exclude the Sat Nav system … and the printer…..

However, I’m not complaining as the printer has proved exceptionally useful. In fact I’m now pretty skilled at producing counterfeit twenty pound notes, duplicating letters to harass supermarkets so I get free vouchers for prepackaged meals and scanning copyright piccys of Pierce so I can sell them in the school playground. I’m also planning to use the printer for photocopying my arse for this year’s Christmas cards. That is after I’ve found my way from the kitchen to my study with the Sat Nav….

By the way; I’m offering a prize of a piccy of my photocopied derriere (with suitably placed tinsel) to anyone who can think of an appropriate Christmassy caption….

Anyway, I have actually had some love letters; Mrs T has not been totally barren in the soppy stuff department! Indeed a previous boyfriend once sent me quite a few love letters but regrettably they somehow encountered a small amount of petroleum, a matchstick and a large pile of wood. (Fortunately, my ex boyfriend wasn’t called Guy.)

I bet Guy Richie was a little worried on November 5th though; I hear Madonna can be a little explosive. Well what women wouldn’t be when wearing costumes with thongs that grip your arse like a vice? Guaranteed belly trouble if you ask me.

I am hoping (well praying on my knees whilst wearing a sack cloth and a rosary around my neck) that my old boyfriend burnt my reciprocal letters because I categorically DO NOT want those turning up when I become a multi million pound novelist, reality TV star and the latest Bond heroine. (Career immediately over obviously.) It’s not that the letters were raunchy (I went to a Catholic school; give me some slack please) but you know some things should always remain private. Personally I can’t stand those kiss and tell types who make the front page of our tabloids over here; they should be shot.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit heavy handed. Just burnt at the stake perhaps? (Wearing a Lycra support thong for good measure.)

And I just like to point out that being an intellectual snob I only read The Times and The Telegraph where such sordid goings on are not reported unless they involve politicians, sheep or a large tub of L’Oreal Vita Face Lift for Men - in which case such reporting is not only newsworthy but essential in the interests of freedom and democracy. (And my celebrity scrapbook.) However, I admit, I do occasionally pick up an edition of The Mail when I need my fix of right wing fascism or for a glance at Thursday's “Femail” section where I can read all about the latest developments in skincare, face lifts and faddish diets. Always useful for a woman of my age.

Well useful for fitting nicely into the cat litter tray anyway.

Okay so I haven’t had any love letters from Mr T but he HAS lovingly passed to me some other letters.

From our car insurers.

Yes, just in case you didn’t pick it up from my previous post I may possibly have had another “incident.” But let me assure you it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with reversing.

And everything to do with going forwards.

Yep, it was my fault. Well.....begrudgingly…. It was my fault…..

Okay, so I was behind a car at a junction for a busy A road (60mph limit over here) and there was plenty of room for the car in front to pull out. When I say “plenty of room” I mean there was enough room for a convoy of armoured vehicles, a brass band, a procession of baton twirling youths and a blind dog. Anyway the other car started to move forwards so I thought I would go too…

Only the driver in front bottled it, braked suddenly and came to a halt... and as I was busy focusing on the EMPTY road I drove straight into it…..

Yep, it was my fault. Fortunately no one was hurt. Another lesson learnt for Mrs T;

Give up driving and get a taxi.

I had another hair raising driving experience recently. After my mother’s funeral I decided to take a detour to her childhood home to relive the days of my youth and soak in the memories. Now my mother’s family home, was situated on the brow of a hill. To access it you had to drive up a long narrow (only a car’s width) lane which on one side had a steep embankment with I guess a 12/15 foot drop and a row of cottages on the other. The house was situated at the end of the lane with a terrific view across the valley. Here’s a little sketch so you get the idea;


Driving up the lane I was reminded of one of my mother’s favourite little stories from the war. On one occasion an American tank took the wrong turning and mistakenly drove right up to the house. Apparently the GIs then spent hours manoeuvring the tank slowly, inch by inch, into a position where they could get back down the lane again. While the GIs agonised over their precarious position my grandmother supplied them with copious amounts of tea and cakes and as a result was rewarded for her hospitality with a pair of silk stockings!

Anyway, memories aside, I’m driving up the lane and I’m beginning to feel edgy looking down on the valley and thinking that maybe this trip wasn’t such a good idea…but then I remember the tank incident and think that if a tank can do it then so can I……

Only when I reach the end there’s a car parked outside the double garage. The turning space is halved.

My immediate thought was;

OH SHIT.

Instantaneously I break out in sweat; I am drenched in it. There is hardly any room to manoeuvre at all. And remember, I am the woman who has 3 accidents this year; 2 of them involving reversing! As panic sets in I envisage myself;

a) Hanging of the cliff like that episode in The Italian Job
b) Dead
c) Trying to explain the lack of a car to Mr T.
d) Being burnt at the stake.

Okay, I’m here. So I managed to do it. But not without a lot of expletives, some dubious clutch control and some really, really serious praying.

Oh yes, and a pair of brown trousers.

Copyright Jane Turley 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Chapter Closes

Growing old can be difficult. I often joke about wrinkles, flab and ageing but in truth none of these can compare to losing the ones we love. Learning to live without their touch, the sound of their voice or the smile upon their face can be extraordinarily difficult and heartbreaking.

My family and I have had our fair share of grief this year. As those of you who have been reading this blog from the beginning will know my mother in law, Audrey, died just after Christmas, then there was the tragic and shocking death of former sister in law, my mother’s sudden death earlier this month and now on Friday morning last week my father in law, Raymond.

For the last few months Ray had been living round the corner from us with my sister in law. I like to think that the remaining weeks in the bosom of his family were happy ones. He was able to see his children and grandsons more in those last few months than he had in the last few years and even though at 89 the Alzheimers he was suffering from frequently meant that he confused just who everyone was I believe his family still brought joy to his life. In a bizarre way, I think the Alzheimers shielded him from experiencing the real effect of losing Audrey. But I’m sure that deep in his subconscious those feelings and memories lay buried and when I visited him in those last few times in hospital I felt he was reconciled; his time had come to be reunited with the one he had loved for over 60 years.

Raymond 30.7.1919 – 31.10.2008

Above is a picture of Ray as a soldier taken in 1945. He served in the notorious 8th Army in the artillery between 1939 and 1946 as a bombardier. Already a qualified maths teacher he was frequently pulled behind lines to work out the trajectory for bombardments. He was evacuated from France and later served in North Africa and Italy, most famously at Monte Casino and Salerno. He was also one of the soldiers who later became infamous for taking a few pot shots at The Sphinx!

Ray didn’t talk much about the horrors of war; I suppose the scars ran very deep. He would talk though of the places he visited, the food he ate, even his weapons and equipment but little of the violence and death. But the few stories of loss he did tell were poignant and tragic and a reminder to me how we should make every effort to avoid war and conflict.

Above all, Ray was a family man. He was kind, gentle and liked nothing more than to tend his wonderful garden. In his old age he and Audrey liked to sip tea, eat biscuits and look over it from their porch and I think that’s the way I’ll always remember them.



Final thoughts and new beginnings

My mother’s burial last Wednesday was heart rendering as all last goodbyes are but I was able to take comfort in the presence of two brothers, my sister, our partners, children, aunts, uncles and Frank and his family all together at my mother’s graveside to wish her peace.

And when the ceremony was over I showed my boys my grandparent’s grave. It felt reassuring to see their headstone; I believe it is important for the boys to learn of their ancestry and most importantly not to be afraid of the inevitable. Although we had gathered for a sad occasion it was lovely thought to know that within a few feet four generations of my family, alive and dead, were united here together. I was aware of the continuation of life, of the blood that runs through our veins, of the genes that make us who we are and the bonds that tie us together in birth and in death.

Two days later, Ray passed away in the same hospital in which I gave birth to Master Benedict. In a way it seemed very fitting. Although Ray has died he leaves behind two sons and three grandchildren who bear his surname and they will be his testimony. In time we will all become one with the earth and the circle of life will continue but whilst we live our memories will always be with us and so will our love for those we have lost.

So it has been a traumatic few weeks and an end of an era for both myself and Mr T. Burying my mother was very hard indeed; I have so many memories of her, my father and my mother’s grandparents. But I also realise that I have been very lucky. Unlike some, I have very happy memories of my childhood and later life and I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had so much love and laughter in my life.

Love is a very special gift. The love we have for parents may differ to the love we have for our spouses, partners or lovers or our children, siblings and friends. But the gift of love is unique; it transcends time, space and matter and that is why I know that although a part of my life has now come to an end and I must look to the future, I will always have my mother’s love.

And that makes me very happy.