Posted on March 19, 2012 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay15 Comments »

Today is Mother’s Day here in England.

For the last few weeks I’ve been having trouble with migraine-like symptoms including memory problems, and I’ve had to go the chiropractor several times to get my neck unkinked, and .. well, suddenly it dawned on me: this year is the first year that I have had no mother to buy flowers for.

Of course, though my mother has left this earth, life still goes on for those who are left and my inbox was still flooded with emails reminding me to buy flowers or chocolates and the shops were full of cards and special gifts and it’s been painful, and (I now realise) it made me angry. So, inevitably, I’ve been more stressed. I’ve been sleeping badly and getting tense and that’s probably why I’ve been suffering physically too.

The picture today is one I snapped at my Mum’s house when my brother and I were clearing it ready to sell. My mother, bless her, had accumulated enough stuff throughout her long and interesting life to make it necessary to spend around three weeks sifting through it, but sift I did. I looked at everything, as behoves a good family historian and specialist in sentiment, and I found – among many, many other things – those four single gloves.

I suppose Mum thought that one day their partners would turn up, because she kept them for decades. They are so old-fashioned, I’m sure that most date from the 60s, if not the 50s, and yet there they were, tucked into a bottom drawer, waiting in vain to be paired up. I never did find the others. Like Mum, they are lost forever.

But as I said, life goes on, and in fact I had a lovely day today. Both my sons came to spend it with me, and between them they cooked a wonderful dinner for us. We had an authentic Italian lasagne (recipe courtesy of the lovely T who hails from Brescia) which was absolutely delicious, and a traditional English apple pie with cream, which was honestly one of the best I’ve tasted. My second son makes spiffing pastry! I also had the gift of a lemon tree.

I was sad that their girls could not be there, but both had to work, and of course the lovely B had to spend time with her own mother, too.

Part of the funeral service in the Church of England goes ‘in the midst of life we are in death’. Well, I’d just like to say that it can also be true that while struggling with the shadow of death we continue in the midst of life. I would have had a very sad day today if it were not for my sons. As it was, it was a day filled with happiness and laughter, so thanks, kids! You did me proud.

And to those of you out there who have loved ones who are facing a terminal illness, I would like to say this: remember that life goes on. And if and when you lose someone you love, yell, scream, shout, grieve, and mourn when you must, but also take time to celebrate life. It really is not a betrayal.

Posted on March 17, 2012 in Conversations, Oddities by Jay9 Comments »

Now, I’ll start by saying that Tesco is a very long way from being my favourite supermarket.  In fact I actually dislike them quite a lot, for various reasons, including (but not limited to) ethical concerns and the gradual dropping of most of my favourite lines. However, they do occasionally get my custom because they are nearest shop to where I live.  And they do occasionally provide me with a little amusement.

Take today, for instance.  OH and I drove the two or three miles to Tesco to pick up some salad for tomorrow, and one or two other things I’d run out of.  We collected what we needed (having had to ask an assistant yet again where they keep the damned cornflour because I can never find it …) and headed for the checkout.

The shortest queue happened to be right next to the ranks of self-scanners, so we were treated to a chorus of chirpy instructions from the Mechanical Woman who lives in them.  I wasn’t really paying too much attention, but suddenly I heard:

Mechanical Woman (chirpily): “Please insert your card into the chipmunk poltergeist”

I turned to OH, who was loading our groceries onto the conveyor.

Me: “I’m sure she couldn’t have just said what I thought she just said!”

OH: “Who?”

Me: “That chirpy self-checkout woman.”

OH: “What did you think she said?”

Me: “Please insert your card into the chipmunk poltergeist!”

OH (giving me a very old-fashioned look): “And you tell me I’ve got problems!”

Me: “Well, you didn’t hear her at all!”

There was a pause, during which we continued to empty our basket onto the belt, then I heard Mechanical Woman repeat her incomprehensible instruction re cards and deceased-but-still-mischievous rodents.

I turned to OH, who was standing stock still with an arrested expression.

OH: “I heard it too!  She did say it!  She said ‘Please insert your card into the chipmunk poltergeist!

Me: “But what did she mean?”

OH: “I have no idea. But she said it!”

Me: “Probably wouldn’t be a good idea to take any kind of nuts through there, then.”

We laughed quite a lot about the Mechanical Woman and her chipmunk poltergeists and wondered what she was really trying to say – or if some bored teenaged Tesco worker had sneakily reprogrammed her – but you know the funny thing about all this?

We were standing in a crowded Tesco, about two feet from the checkout lady and within earshot of ten or twelve other people and not one person even cracked a smile, let alone commented on our insanity discovery!  Not one.

However, OH simply couldn’t get over it, and halfway home, completely out of the blue, he said:

“I wasn’t even listening!  I was paying absolutely no attention at all .. and she said it! She said ‘chipmunk poltergeists!‘.  I heard her!”


“She DID say it … ”

So it’s a pity, really, that after all that – after agreeing that that is exactly what the Mechanical Woman had said – that he then went on to suggest that I get my hearing tested.



Clearly, you are a clever lot.

And clearly, my previous attempts to provide you with a shadow puzzle were just too, too easy. You all guessed the object pretty damn easily, did you not?

So, equally clearly, it behoves me to provide my super-intelligent readership with something commensurate with their super-efficient brains. Therefore, I have activated my ‘super cunning’ circuits, flipped the turbo-boost switch, added in a soupçon of creativity and come up with …

Ha! I bet this one has you all scratching your heads! Ya boo sucks to you all!

*Runs round in a happy little circle singing ‘Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah!’ and thumbing nose at everyone*

Ahem. Please excuse that little outburst.

Now, where was I? Ah, yes .. the puzzle.

I suppose I’d better furnish you with some clues. Alrighty, then …

Firstly, I doubt very much if there’s a single one among you who doesn’t have one of these handy things in your house. It might not be exactly the same as mine, but you have one. Well, you do unless you’re living in very different conditions to me, and seriously, I doubt that.

We have three of these, though one of them doesn’t really get used anymore.

Do they come in different styles? Yes. Different colours? Yes. Can you buy accessories? Yes. Do they all do the same thing, in the same way? Pretty much, yes, with very slight variations. Is there another way to do whatever it is they do? Yes, several, but I don’t like any of them!

Will you all guess this one? I can’t WAIT to see! So off you go, kick-start those sluggish brain cells and get thinking – then pop your answer in the comments and I’ll be back tomorrow evening (Thursday, UK time) to put you out of your collective misery! As usual, there’ll be a picture link added to the bottom of this post with the names of any winners – should there be any – and a link to their blogs.

Till then, I bid you all a fond farewell… and good luck!


Oops, I sniggered too soon! WE HAVE A WINNER!!! Congratulations to Colleen – I’m truly impressed by the perspicacity of the lady, and by the ingenuity of the guesses of some of you others! I’m afraid I can’t add the link because she didn’t leave one, but if you want to pop back and add your link to the comments list, Colleen, I’ll stick it in here. Well done!

OK.  Here’s the link to the answer.  Peep, and weep!  (Can I snigger again now?)

Can you all come back next week? I’ll have another lovely puzzle for you!

It’s going to be a good year for ladybirds, apparently!

I snapped this shot on a dog walk.  It’s not a great shot, but it does show a few of the dozens of ladybirds emerging from hibernation at the base of a telegraph pole just outside our house.

As this is often a first stop for Sid on his outings, these poor insects must’ve had a very strange winter.  They’ll be talking about the Winter of the Warm Yellow Rain for generations to come!