Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Romantic? I don't think so.

It may not have escaped your notice that a certain Mr Clooney got married this week.  Heck, even my relatively staid morning broadsheet has printed picture after picture the last three days so if this world-shattering (ha!) event has passed you by, you must be living in a cave.  Frankly, the whole circus - for that is what it seems to have been - is of no interest to me whatsoever.  Quite why such a large proportion of the female population has been oohing and aahing is way beyond my understanding.  After all, what has the said Mr Clooney got that I haven't?  Apart from a few millions, that is.  But I suppose there are those who might think him a little better looking than me. . .

His wedding was a far cry from my own, fifty years ago this coming Friday.  (And yes, I have bought her a card, possibly the first time I have ever done that for a wedding anniversary.)  We were married in the red-brick church almost opposite the Young Bat's family home, the reception was in a room over a pub, and our honeymoon was in Somerset.

The Grand Canal
I did take to Old Bat to Venice once.  In conversation with a fellow Lion before we went, he told us that Venice is the most romantic city in the world.  I'm sure he hasn't visited all of them just to check, but in any case I disagree.  I didn't really find the city that romantic.  Granted, the Grand Canal has a certain charm and the fact that there are no roads makes the place interesting, but I thought it run down, almost falling into the water, and there was way too much graffiti.

A little less romantic!
 It perhaps didn't help that St Mark's square was flooded when we got there.  This was part of the queu to go into the cathedral.  We didn't bother but went for a coffee in Café Florian.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

There will be tears before bedtime

It started out as one of those soft mornings.  I'm sure you know the sort - when the air feels damp but it's not raining.  Some people think of them as Irish mornings, I believe.  They always put me in mind of the Lake District during my first visit to that beautiful corner of England way up north.  That visit was a month of alternating torture and exhilaration.  The Outward Bound course I had been sent on by the bank I worked for was a sort of down-market commando course involving circuit training (the torture) with press-ups, pull-ups and other similar, unnatural activities.  We looked longingly at the hills the other side of Ullswater and were eventually deemed fit enough and sufficiently well instructed in map reading and sundry other manly things to be allowed onto the fells on our own.

Many of those mornings were soft with a special softness - and smell - that the Lake District seems to make its own.

Then, just as I started typing this, the rain pelted down.  But now the sun is shining!

Looking back, it seems almost impossible that so much of the country was under water at the beginning of the year.  We have had a drier than average summer, and England has seen only about 15% of the average rainfall for the month during September.  Maybe the lack of rain is the cause of our raspberries being so small this year.

I was in the doctor's surgery yesterday with an appointment with a doctor I had never seen before.  Actually, the appointment was in the name of the Old Bat as the hospital had told her to get some special "build you up" yoghurt from her GP.  It beats me why the hospital could not have sent her home with some - as the doctor had promised - just as they did with the antibiotic.  But anyway, there I was when a dishy young thing appeared and called out the OB's name.  She looked rather startled when I stood up and approached her but I soon recovered my poise and explained.

But what I intended to write about when I started off was the note I had been given by the receptionist.  This advised that, in common with other surgeries in Brighton,our doctors are to conduct an experiment for six months.  When we telephone to make an appointment, we will be given a time at which, within an hour, a doctor will telephone to conduct an examination - over the phone!  If the doctor then wishes to see the patient, an appointment will be made.

I'm not exactly a died-in-the-wool, not-approving-of-change type generally, but I don't see this as making an improvement.  But I suppose I will have no choice but to go along with it for a while.

Monday, 29 September 2014

I do give in

Sometimes.  And then, usually, wonder what on earth possessed me.  It's those darned quiz thingies on the dreaded Facebroke.  I did it only the other day.  One of my Facebroken friends had gone through the torture and hit the "share" button or whatever it is (I never do that!) and the next thing I knew, I had clicked to do the quiz myself.  Why in the name of all that's sane I should be interested in what my name should be once I have retired is something I will need to discuss with my therapist.  After all, I am already retired.  But why should the name that best suits my retirement ambitions be Irving?  IRVING?  Whoever heard of that as a name?

What I do manage to resist is (or are) all those games that friends recommend.  You know, Candy Crush and Farmville and Pin the Tail on the Trog and such like.  They don't interest me in the slightest.  But neither do those quiz thingies either, so I'm completely at a loss.

It's not as though I actually use Facebroken.  Well, not to participate actively.  I just like to lurk to see what people I know are doing.  Although even that's not exactly true.  I have set up a page for Brighton Lions Club and try to post something at least once a week.  It seems to be quite a good way of keeping our name in front of people.  And here is the link, just in case.

While the OB was in hospital last week, I parked the car at Brighton marina when I went visiting her.  It's free there, unlike at the hospital.  Besides, the hospital car park is usually full with an hour's waiting time.  I could catch a bus for the short ride from the Marina to the hospital, using my free bus pass.  As the weather was so good, I strolled back along the seafront, past Brighton's famous nudist beach.  This is it.  The bank of shingle has been built up to provide privacy and there are warning notices so people aren't too shocked if they see naked men and women.  As you can see, there were none when I walked past last week.

Talking of notices, I did rather like this sign outside a pub:

Sunday, 28 September 2014


That's right - yuzu.

When I first saw the word on the side of the yoghurt pot, it put me in mind of a cryptogram written in my childhood autograph book:

Y Y 4 me

Yes, I know.  Even at 8- or 9-years old it didn't seem either funny or clever to me, and it doesn't now, either. 

But there it was on the side of the yoghurt pot, plain as a pikestaff - yuzu.

(I wonder what it is about pikestaffs for them to be described as plain?)

Yoghurt is not usually on my shopping list.  Indeed, I had to search the aisles just to find the yoghurt in the supermercado yesterday morning.  But the OB had been sent home from hospital on Friday (arriving just before nine o'clock in the evening although I had been phone by a very pleasant Irish nurse at one o'clock to say she - the OB - had been sent to the departure lounge, or discharge lounge or whatever.  Said nurse asked me if I was excited about the imminent arrival chez nous of the old duck and seemed quite disappointed when I told her I am too old to get excited about things like that) and wanted soup, toast and yoghurt for lunch.  So off I duly trotted to buy soup and yoghurt - the toast I could manage as I made bread first thing yesterday.

And there it was - mango and yuzu flavoured West Country yoghurt.

And there's another thing: what is so special about West Country yoghurt?  How is it different from yoghurt made in, say, East Anglia?

It seems that I've missed the news that yuzu is the new superfruit.  Apparently it is a fruit originating in East Asia.  According to the Daily Mail, "So brace yourself for the taste of 2014: yuzu, a rare and costly citrus fruit from Japan, which is predicted to become as popular here as oranges."  Or "Yuzu™ is a next-generation digital education platform that enhances the everyday learning experience and makes college the rewarding journey it's meant to be."  I rather think the yoghurt was made using the fruit.

I'm not into yoghurt, it's too sloppy for my liking.  Give me a dessert I can get my teeth into any day, something like jam roly-poly or sticky toffee pudding.  Mind you, it didn't taste bad when I licked the top after I had pulled it off the pot.  The OB is still too weak to do that; she couldn't even wrestle the skin off a rice pudding at the moment.  But if yoghurt is what it takes, then yoghurt she shall have.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

I wanna tell you a story . . .

Sam Clam and Larry Lobster were the best of friends living at the bottom of the ocean. They were practically inseparable, which explains how they both got caught in a lobster trap together and died together.

Larry Lobster found himself at the Pearly Gates talking to Saint Peter.

"Larry, welcome to Eternity. Here you will be eternally happy before God."

Larry was overwhelmed by the glorious sights, but one thought crept in, "Peter, I am overjoyed to be allowed the glories of the Kingdom of Heaven, but where is my friend Sam Clam. I wish to be with him at this happy time."

Peter looking a bit puzzled started paging through a large book. After a few minutes he closed that book and pulled out an even larger, thicker black book. Finally he stopped and stabbed at the page, "Ah-ha! Sam Clam is in Hell."

"Hell?" asked Larry Lobster, incredulously. "There must be some mistake, Sam and I were together all the time. How could I and not..."

Peter cut him off, "Apparently Sam lied once and once had an impure thought. Please, Sam is not worthy of you or of this place. Take pleasure in all of the glory."

"Can I at least visit Sam and say goodbye?"

A horrified Peter responded, "Of course not! You cannot visit Hell, you are in heaven. Please, Larry, go get your robe, wings, and harp and take refuge in the beauty which awaits you."

Larry acquiesced to Peter, but he remained despondent and sad, despite being in Heaven and all it promised. Larry frequently requested the opportunity to visit his friend Sam Clam. Each time Peter rebuffed him. Larry's depression was so extreme that others in Heaven were not enjoying the afterlife as they had been promised.

Eventually God heard of this and summoned Peter. "Peter, what is wrong with Larry Lobster?" And Peter explained. "Did you tell him it was not reasonable to go to Hell once you had attained Heaven?" And Peter explained that he had. "Then I guess we must make an exception, under certain conditions..." and God explained to Peter what Peter explained to Larry.

"Larry you may go to Hell to visit your friend, Sam Clam. However, you must return before the clock strikes twelve, you must not damage or lose your three Holy possessions: your robe, your wings, or your harp. Do you understand?"

"Oh yes, yes, thank you! Thank you!" and with that Larry rushed down to Hell to visit Sam Clam.

When he got there he was startled to see Sam Clam running a disco. People were dancing and drinking and it was dark so Larry could not find Sam right away. Then from behind he heard "Larry Lobster is that you? I thought you were in Heaven?"

Larry turned around and saw his old friend Sam Clam, dressed to the nines. "Sam I just came to visit and to finally say goodbye."

The two of them talked and reminisced for hours. Larry was enjoying himself immensely, totally oblivious to the time when Sam Clam said, "You had better go, it is almost time."

"But I want to stay here..."

"No Larry, this is not your place. There are things here I won't mention. Go back to Heaven and be happy."

So with tears in their eyes they said their good-byes. Larry rushed up to Heaven and reached the Gates just as the clock struck twelve. Peter was waiting.

 "Larry, you barely made it," said Peter.

"I know but I..."

"And your robe is filthy," said a disgusted Peter.

"I can explain, you see..."

"And your wings! One is ripped and the other is practically fallen off," chastised Peter.

"Funny you should mention that, because..."

"And your harp, Larry, where is your harp?" asked a disappointed Peter.

"Oh dear," answered Larry, "I left my harp in Sam Clam's Disco."

Friday, 26 September 2014

Another early morning

I was determined not to be late getting up this morning.  At the hospital yesterday afternoon the Old Bat and I agreed with the doctor that she should come home today pending a case review next week, after which she will be taken back in for further treatment.  Or rather, they will decide what they need to do about what they have now learned is not a blockage in the intestine but an abnormality of the liver.  Which is what our GP diagnosed in the first place.  So, I needed to make sure I had walked the dog before any likelihood of an ambulance arriving at the top of the drive.

It was not yet eight o'clock when I was on the Roman Camp, having parked and walked across 39 Acres.  A cloudy morning, and even then not quite full daylight.  Had there been no cloud I would probably have seen the sun only just over the horizon.  As it was, there was a yellow tinge to the eastern clouds with ships on the horizon sharply delineated.  Meanwhile, all was murk and gloom to the west.

I started humming to myself (silently, I assure you) an old English folk song, Early One Morning.  I have a vague recollection that this is - or was - the slow march of the Royal Marines.

I had a somewhat eccentric music master for the first few years at senior school.  He loved to play the piano while we sang a whole range of folk songs like this one.  And somehow snatches of many of them have stuck in my memory, although thankfully most are pretty well buried!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Early morning

Having, for some peculiar reason as yet unexplained, woken early this morning, I was over the fields with the dog by eight o'clock.  A beautiful, sunny morning, albeit a touch fresh in the shade of the trees, but the sun was starting to warm things up.  Brighton, or the suburbs of Westdene and Patcham, almost sparkled in the sun.

My early morning could, I suppose, be caused by the strangeness of there being only me in the bed.  The Old Bat went to hospital on Tuesday as an outpatient and was admitted as an emergency, there being a suspected blockage in the intestines and an infection caused by that.  After a massive dose of antibiotics and a glucose drip she looked and felt much better by yesterday afternoon and better still in the evening.  She had a scan yesterday and now we wait for the decision on treatment.

I really have seen to best and, if not the worst, decidedly lower standards of the NHS.  Admission from an outpatients clinic has to be through A&E and that department was manic; over-stretched and under staffed as well as being under-resourced.  The poor nurses were run off their feet, which is why it took about four hours for somebody to prescribe and bring a couple of paracetamol tablets.  On the other hand, when I got home on Tuesday evening, the GP who had seen the Old Bat last week had rung and left a message just to say that she had sent the results of the latest blood tests to the hospital.  She rang again yesterday evening just to ask how the Old Bat was.  Now that's caring.