Sunday, May 3, 2015

Hope is a Strategy

We are back from our motor-tour of the East Coast of Scotland, which included a pilgrimage to the printing works of DC Thomson, publishers of The Beano. A great cry of joy rose from the back seat at the first glimpse of Bananaman, the Man of Peel, on the wall above the famous sign.  

[The Beano, Blue Daughter's Top Favourite]


The statues of Desperate Dan and Minnie the Minx were duly viewed as well, and so the Culture & Heritage box received its tick.

My iPhone is like a great big hat I wear over my head when travelling: I hold it up in front of me and browse your blog and other, lesser pages (a careful comma) in the hope that people will leave me alone so that my Thoughts will catch up with me.  Not that I actually have Thoughts as such, but what I do have, in splendid abundance, is Half-Formed Reflections, that swirl about in my head and demand tranquillity so as not to churn abominably before they morph into Sensibilities.  

When I was young, the Reflections turned into Opinions, but I have conquered that now. May God stand full square between Me and the Opinions of Others.


[Wax and Wire by Loch Lomond]



I like to think that my Sensibilities, if I choose just the right set of blogs to follow and Twitter feeds to read and scholarly, percipient essays to skim hurriedly through on too small a screen, will become exquisitely honed and get me through life with no further input from the Non-Sensibilities aspect of myself.  That is my Hope for a Better Life.  

Scottish Husband tells me that Hope is Not A Strategy, but I give the matter some consideration as we drive through Fife, past the yellow fields of daffodils, back home towards our troubles and the bay window that is collapsing, and I say that It Very Certainly Is.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

insufficiently acknowledged

If I weren't so busy I'd write my book. A memoir, I suppose, or an autobiography (do comment if you can tell me the difference), featuring all the famous people I know and little anecdotes that portray me in a good but modest light.  Slim (very slim), with floral endpapers.




The imperative to write has been upped lately as I note the profusion of publication: dear Britta has cornered the international market in graceful housekeeping and the redoubtable Jane and Lance Hattatt are the authors of the entire modern gardening canon.   You yourself surely have a Human Resources manual on Best Practice Redundancy Procedures under your belt, or a pamphlet of poems. I do admire your poems.

Anyway, back to me.  All I have to my name is a few academic publications, a contribution here and there to other people's books and a smattering of thanks in their acknowledgements.   The thanks are never profound enough, if you ask me, never fulsome enough.  My own acknowledgements will be lavishly sprinkled with adjectives and adverbs, pages of the things.  Every acknowledgement will have a little barcode beside it, which the acknowledged can beep with their phones to automatically post in their social media feeds:


There will be a frenzied flurry of liking and favouriting and there we are: everyone will be happy.

All I want is for everyone to be happy.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

a cautionary note for all artists on the pitfalls of limited edition prints





Blue Daughter, after 7 years of passing no opinion at all on our large framed print of a painting of Brighton Pier, looked up one day from the morning kedgeree, waved her fork censoriously, and remarked that the artist had done a really poor job of the sand on the beach ...


... and that she wasn't at all surprised that the painting had scored only 27 out of 150.  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

an excuse in time saves nine

I heard a rumour that I had gone, but no. It has been a season of patient waiting until the Hattatts resurface in Norwich, and never having a quiet moment to click on 'new post' nor even to pursue what is the great love of my life and, indeed, the overarching challenge of our aeon: small storage solutions, typically baskets.





This is a wonky birthday cake I baked a little while ago, depicted on my honeymoon cake-stand. I will be back soon with topics of even less significance.

Monday, February 2, 2015

the least I could do




I have stood The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying on end.  It is the least I could do.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

for the hell of it


The school filed across the road to a church service lately, so my daughters stayed behind with the few other non-Catholic children to caper and giggle. I asked Pink Daughter why they'd have Mass at such an odd time of year, as I wasn't aware that it was the feast-day of any of Ireland's A-list saints.  She thought about it, and said that no one had given them a reason, and that the school probably had Mass just for the hell of it. 




I hope you won't think this is incongruous in the midst of my trumpeted clear-out activities, but I have bought a new tea towel.  It hangs above my shelf of mugs, and, in the spirit of Kondo anthropomorphism, I feel it encourages my crockery to be picturesque.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

My Life in Houses

When I added My Life in Houses to my suitcase as holiday reading, I hadn't realised that one of Margaret Forster's houses was on the Algarve coast in Portugal, a few coral pink and lemon yellow towns along from the one I was staying in.



Just as she did, I missed my house, which is so much of a refuge to me that it always seems something of a betrayal to leave it, even in the chill fog of winter.  And it's not just me: I encountered Scottish Husband lounging on the sunny terrace last week, white wine by his side, browsing for a new copper saucepan, lidded, of suitable diameter, to be sent to the house in expiation for our absence.



Along the way, the book segues from being about My Life in Houses to My Life in Houses, a change of emphasis brought about by illness and a sense of retreat, accompanied by a conviction that a house is more than the sum of its parts.

Even the sum of the parts of my house is too much for me, let alone more, so now that I'm back, I'm doing a Kondo Clearout (inspired by Lucille), about which I will have much, much more to say.

Monday, December 22, 2014

everything is under control





The note on Blue Daughter's bedroom door states Can You Go Away For Now. No one is allowed in apart from Mama. I love Mama. Officially Signed Blue Daughter POP 18 December 2014 I think or maybe a different day.  Who could argue with this seasonal sentiment?



Every year I post a photo of my knitted nativity and floods of people reach my blog via Google, mostly from America, with the keywords "nativity knitted pattern free FREE quick for God's sake FREE". I am sorry, America; I do not have the pattern.




I am on the very verge of going round to your own blog to wish you a happy Christmas. That is exactly where I have been for the past few days as well. The Very Verge.

The least I can do is disable my comments so you don't feel it is necessary to wish me a Happy Christmas, dear Mise, and all the best to me and mine for 2015. I know you have more pressing things to do.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Biannually on my pink sofa

It was Sue of The Quince Tree, a woman of impeccable taste, who first made me aware of Persephone Books, and when I spotted the name cropping up on other blogs I thought I'd better hasten to request their Biannually and take a photo of it propped up against the unsteady candlestick in front of the big round mirror.



I've also signed up to their Persephone letter, their Persephone forum, their Persephone post, the whole Persephone shebang. Now I plan to read their appealing dove grey books with fabric pattern end-papers – how could I resist fabric pattern end-papers? –  and look forward to being immersed in a world of doughty and complicated women as I sip my cocoa with a splash of brandy.


I took a photo of the Biannually on my pink sofa as well, my favourite one.

The only thing that gives me pause is the frequent reference in their communications to 'the Persephone girls' or 'our girls.'  It conjures up an image of someone halfway along the continuum between Miss J. Hunter Dunn and Dame Maggie Smith, wearing Swedish Hasbeens shoes and plaits in their hair. Not that I object to Hasbeens and plaits, and very nice they look on myself, to be sure.  I'm a woman, though; not a girl.

All that remains on the 2014 101% Full Tilt Spirit of Christmas checklist here now is to finalise something suitable to put under the tree for Scottish Husband, who can be very challenging to shop for. Last Christmas, I gave him folk art but the very next day he gave it away. This year, to save me from tears, I'm giving him something metal, metal...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

'tis nearly the season to be jolly

As we are expecting house-guests for Christmas, we thought it would be a good idea to buy a large Stilton to dignify the Port.  In Marks and Spencer, we hunted high and low for one, but mostly high, as the more mundane wares tended to be low.



Eventually becoming weary, we approached a member of staff to ask her where we would find the Big Cheese. Looking furtively over her shoulder, she told us that the manager doesn't come in on a Sunday until after his golf.  

Please look away now if you don't want to see what I've got you for Christmas.



 I flatter myself that I am catering to all tastes with this very fetching and useful decanter.
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