I was hoping to start this post with an impressive photo of my lemon drizzle cake. Unfortunately, it was made on Saturday and this was all that was left by Sunday. It’s quite flattering the way it vanished I suppose but it isn’t quite what I was aiming for.
Also unexpected this week, we went to see Lenny Henry at the Theatre Royal. (Well we had tickets and everything so that bit wasn’t unexpected) I think we thought we would just see straight stand up with a bit about the music he likes. It was a bit of a surprise then, when he began talking, in a really wistful way about how much he would have liked to have a second career in music. Unfortunately, that fell apart when he went to see Trevor Horn who told him that he wasn’t committed enough and he would never make it. Made me think a bit about doing the things you really want to and how much you need to commit to putting the effort in. Challenged me on a few things. Not rocket science I know but still sometimes you need to be reminded that if something is important enough it needs work and continual commitment. Can’t say I feel sorry for Mr Henry though. At the end of the evening he got over his regret by bringing on a three piece band and belted his way through James Brown covers for three quarters of an hour. So a good time had by all.

Conversation between Head of House and Yours Truly at beginning of Lenny Henry gig.
HOH: John Bishop is here
YT: John Bishop the comedian?
HOH: Yep he’s there at the back.
YT: Oh yeh. I can see him.
HOH: Wonder if Dawn French is here tonight?
YT: Can’t see her. Suppose she would be sat with John Bishop.
HOH: Sooo. You’re saying all famous people know each other.
YT: Er. Possibly.

And on that note that leaves me looking particularly stupid. I leave you with some things the young people are looking at on t’internet.

Firstly – a house that looks like Hitler

On a slightly more edifying note. This http://humblebeast.com/g-o-s-p-e-l/ links to a “sermon” –  . I know I’m probably a good 35 years older than the target audience but quality will out. Its very good.

I attempted to discipline the Head Gardener this week for the state of the window boxes. Only a couple of weeks ago, this box was full of beautiful crocuses (croci?) but now you can hopefully see that the flowers are all dead and limp and floppy and the box has been over run  by all this untidy messy stuff. I informed the gardener that I would like it sorting asap but believe it or not, he refused. Apparently, you have to wait until all the green stuff dies back so all the nutrients go back into the bulb. Despite my initial suspicions about work avoidance strategies it appears that this is true. At the risk of making this blog like the “Deck Of Cards” by Max Bygraves (When I think of the King of Hearts I think of the King of my Heart – that sort of thing) It did get me thinking though. You know, I would really like my life to be a lot prettier and much less messy sometimes. Looking at this though, I do wonder if when all the rubbish is going on, then maybe that’s when the important stuff is going on. as well. Maybe these times are preparing me for growth and better things later. The fact is, that its not all lovely all the time. Maybe we need those harder times to come back stronger later. Just a thought – take it or leave it.

Quote of the week (sorry can’t give you a link – it’ll be on the Times website and that costs money)
“The Welfare State…..After 50,000 years of civilisation still the only invention that gives normal people a chance of semi parity with the wealthy when it comes to education, medical provision, housing, justice, and access to the entire works of Catherine Cookson in a local library.” Caitlin Moran

Well not destruction exactly,just a squirty water bottle. A bottle which can be directed at an unruly dog and squirted – making him unhappy and  hopefully obedient.We have decided it’s time for a bit of Jack discipline in this house and, following on from reading the spiritual discipline book, it seems that some of the principles you could apply to overcome a human habit also apply to dealing with a barky dog.

  1. Identify the habit/problem that needs your attention. How long have you got? You can choose from a long list. With Morecambe we’re going for  barking hysterically and flinging himself at the kitchen door whenever anyone arrives at or leaves the house.
  2. Pin down exactly why you want to deal with this. Believe it or not, Morc’s reasons for needing this dealt with ain’t that different from a human habit. Firstly, this is something that can do him harm. Our kitchen door has a big glass window in it and we all have nightmares about him just jumping through it. This will be very dangerous but possibly not as dangerous as what might happen to him if he smashed the expensive kitchen door (this time at the hands of Head of House)
  3. Enlist the help of those in your community that you trust. All human beings in the family are on board and supporting this. Mainly because people would like to have friends round without needing to run through the kitchen like Usain Bolt. Lucy, however, doesn’t give a monkeys about Morcs and his habits and isn’t above  taking advantage of his hysteria to nip his bottom or steal his food. (There is a moral here – not everyone will be on board when you are trying to change a habit – they will not always show this by trying to bite your bottom) 
  4. Eyes on the prize. Sometimes, when we are recreating the classic scene from Singing in the Rain by wildly squirting water at a hysterical dog while we try to leave the house, we do wonder if it is worth it. As this point, it helps to visualize how good it would be to walk in and out unhindered and for the gas man to visit without having to apologise because the dog has lost control of his wee wee tube – up aforementioned  man’s trousers.
  5. Reward any progress with something good. For you this will probably not be a bit of frozen liver but that’s what floats Morecambe’s boat so there you are.

Of course, there’s not very much spiritual here. He’s only a Jack Russell and there’s a limit to how far you can stretch the analogy. Still quite interesting to compare and contrast. I only wish Morecambe was as keen on the process as we are.

Lo and behold it getteth warmer and sunnier. I did try and do one of my favourite things  – see above re garden, book and  brew but the truth is its still quite parky really and too much time outside leads to frozen fingers. Witness lunch today. Husband, Lord and Master breaks up my humdrum working day to take me for pasty in the park. My how we live. Anyway, I’m quite happy – they’re nice pasties. Still, couldn’t sit very long. Nose was getting redder and redder. Moved on to buy chocolate thereby keeping warm and having little chocolate treat to see me through the afternoon at work. Still, Spring is definitely giving the whole arriving thing some thought.
Reading about spiritual disciplines. More interesting than it sounds. The chapter about prayer is especially good. Has lots of ideas about praying that challenge all my prejudices. One idea is to resolve to pray for one particular issue for 30 days non stop. (Well not non stop, I have to go to work and things but you know what I mean ) A part of me thinks this is like setting a deadline for God which is disrespectful but, as I have a few things going on at the moment, I am thinking I would like to give it a try. And, if God thinks I am out of order, he can just ignore me. No harm done. Except to my faith. and my life. Oh well.
Rushing out of house to Communications Team meeting on Monday night and shower unit exploded – literally. Yes really literally for once. Always happens when you are in a hurry. Now we have no shower. Baths all round now till we get it sorted. Twelve foot tall son baths like Flipper the dolphin thus doubling damp potential in bathroom. Do you only stop worrying when you die?

The sun is out in Devon (today anyway) and Mad Dog is as pleased as anyone. I have spent some of the week at a Community Transport Conference in Manchester (any more of this and people will think I am a real manager) so thoughts are a bit random again. (No change there I hear you cry.)
Returning to Manchester was good. Had some nice times with family and friends in the evening – after working hard all day and networking for England in case my trustees are reading this. Stayed in the Midland Hotel which was very nice indeed. I managed not to touch room service or the mini-bar. A hotel breakfast is surely one of life’s lovely things. “Coffee or tea madam? Brown or white toast? Help yourself to the buffet.” These are some of the nicest words in the English language.
Anyway, I’m not the only one gallivanting. Head of House and Senior Sprog have just got back from looking at York University. The boy completely loved it and that’s where he wants to go. You must not think that my frequent hysterical sobbing means that I am remotely troubled by the fact that this is about as far north as he could go without leaving the country. I love York too but this seems a bit of an extreme course of action to make sure that we can all get tickets for the panto. (BTW – York Panto – best in the country. No discussion. Although any information in comments about York gratefully received) Senior Sprog’s results so far are good. He has the offer. He’s going I think.
Finally, some culture. I don’t want you to think that I’m any kind of expert on Shakespeare because I’m not. Believe me, you couldn’t be living here. Most theatre companies treat Plymouth like Narnia – only further away. But this week we were visited by the National Theatre who presented us with Hamlet. It was in modern dress, set in a kind of police state, giving it a completely different perspective. Rory Kinnear was as amazing as everyone said but there wasn’t a bad performance. I went with Junior Sprog and at half time when I asked her what she thought, she was so captivated, she could hardly speak. We actually stood up to applaud at the end and I haven’t done that since I saw the Funk Brothers at the Apollo in Manchester. Quite a moment.