I was just stretching luxuriously in bed, thinking I would get up in a moment or two since I was feeling so uncommonly refreshed, when The General told me it was 1 am.

He then promptly went back to sleep.

After trying everything I could (and feeling guilty for disturbing the cat, who was cuddling with me in a perfect donut-shape) I decided to get up and try to make the best use of the time, safe in the knowledge that  I would be wrecked by lunchtime and feeling/looking like a zombie.

Creeping about an old house without making a sound is an art form and I zig-zagged my way down the hardwood stairs, with Dresden following dutifully behind (I never realized that cats do actually frown) and then, once installed on the main floor, I decided to bake the cake for my niece’s birthday this week. After a while, the cat decided it was obviously just a really, really early start to the day and demanded breakfast (kedgeree, broiled kidneys, lightly coddled eggs but settled for FancyFeast in the end) before trying to make his usual routine fit, which to be honest, is just a quick wash and then more sleep, although at least he wanted to be in the same room as me.

And I appreciate that support. Continue reading

A Handbag?



I cannot imagine the following anecdote ever happening now, (especially when I consider the many superior ‘Yummy Mummies’  I often encounter) but back in the day, one of my own mother’s favourite go-to activities to amuse me (in a pinch) was the privilege of reorganizing her handbag for her.

I know, I know; but I really liked doing it and felt important knowing that I had been entrusted with such an intimate and grown-up task.

Once I had corralled together all the rumpled tissues that were still scented with Chanel No.5  and  helped myself to a stick of Wrigley’s spearmint gum, I moved on to the trio of lipsticks found in one of the pockets.  The trio seldom varied and obviously, I tried each one (this goes without saying) but I assessed the packaging first, deciding which was the most elegant, the slimmest, the most bejeweled.

The names were also of great import to me and I think I can safely say, that I trace back my fascination for getting just the right name for a colour (something my friends universally tease me about even now, asking what colour their dress is and then saying “Oh, come ON – aren’t you going to say Electric Tomato or Cant-Elope with Me” etc.etc.).

Maybe I should have been in marketing for OPI nail polish – we just don’t know — but  I can say with some conviction that it all began with these few lipsticks found in the scented depths of my mum’s purse. Continue reading

The Joy of Soy



Anyone who dismisses the notion of  The Full Moon having an undesirable effect on people should consider working in a public library for just a few scant hours.

This past week has been especially trying and I confess that I have been fantasizing about wine at an hour that many would consider a bad sign …

Yesterday I had a (seemingly) very nice gentleman present himself at the reference desk in a dapper, tweed jacket and matching trilby. He smiled and said he wanted to know exactly what becoming a “vegan” might entail.

This is not an unusual question at all and since I also have a particular interest in food myself, I wasted no time in steering him to my favorite vegan cookbook writers, noting the most popular vegan restaurants close by and generally offering up any other suggestions that I could think of.

Fortified with this information, here is how our conversation went: Continue reading

Soup du Jour




“Here it is. Just on the left there.”

The car slows down and a large sign comes into view – Sunshine Acres. At one corner, a laughing cartoon cow doffs a straw hat in welcome. It occurs to me – and not for the first time either – that elderly people are often lumped into the same category as little children. These dreadful names! The last place we visited was called Happy Haven. Must they use nomenclature that would be better suited to a Victorian lunatic asylum? As we pull into the driveway, my daughter-in-law, Nancy, makes enthusiastic chatter at top speed, rather like a monkey. I’ve heard her prattle like this before when she’s uncomfortable and it only serves to make me feel the same way.

We’re out of the car now, feet crunching on gravel and as The Director opens the door to us, a warm blast of the sweet smell peculiar to the old, hits me like a wave. Familiar feelings of dread begin to creep upwards from my bowels.

“Welcome! Lovely day, not too hot.”

With startling insight, I can now see who the model was for the cartoon cow on the sign. The Director is immaculate in a crisp tailored suit with piping and her platinum blonde hair is styled like a policeman’s.  She is smiling alright, but there is a certain oiliness. Even her breasts, restrained within the confines of her jacket, have a formidable, don’t-mess-with-me attitude about them. She pumps my hand firmly and ushers us further down the hall, where the sun is shining brightly in a room called The Lounge and people huddle in groups reading the paper or staring into space.

“Now isn’t this pleasant!” says Nancy chirpily to Bill who has not spoken a word all the way here. The Director begins extolling the virtues of having a life that is still very much your own, where independence is retained right up to the end. The end?  Nancy nods intently, hanging on every word. I wonder if she and Bill ever have a proper conversation. I wonder if they still make love. Continue reading