One Two. One Two. Can you hear me?

Hello all. Hope you are well. I am officially exhausted. We are slowly but surely thinning out the detritus of our lives (see above) and packing everything that we can’t get rid of into cardboard boxes. We went to a car boot to try and get rid of things as well. People who go to car boot sales are funny, aren’t they? There was one bloke trying to knock us down 20p on a quite expensive pair of shoes that were going for 50p (Answer – no – just on principle really) Then a lovely family with European accents came and bought the majority of my blue and white crockery, which we won’t have room or indeed the need for any more. She paid more than we asked and then said: “If it is important for you, please know that this is going to a loving family who will appreciate and love your beautiful collection.” It was important and she made me happy.

We were supposed to exchange contracts on Friday but, for reasons I don’t quite understand, the buyers couldn’t get something to transfer. Apparently, there is nothing to be concerned about and we should still move, as arranged, on Friday. We’ll see.

I hope those of you who have a Bank Holiday have had a good time. It has been boiling hot here. I heard someone on the radio saying that summer this year had been a washout and I felt a bit guilty because it has been lovely in Devon for most of the summer. I don’t know why I feel guilty. There’s not a lot I can do about it.

I am currently writing this in the kitchen and am not talking to HOH. Not that he has noticed or is that bothered really. He insisted on watching Beneath the Surface and reassured me that there was nothing terrible in it. Within 15 seconds (LITERALLY) an old lady had a hood on her head and a Russian psycho was holding a gun to her and now I can’t get the picture out of my mind. Really.

I think I told you last time about the Libby App which lets you listen to library books on your iPhone. It worked very well, except that I miscounted how long I had until the end of the book and the library snatched it back when it was 95% read. There is no option to extend and I will have to wait through the six loans behind me to borrow it again. I probably won’t care how it ends by then.

Aged Parent went for a brain scan on Monday. (Lots of jokes about – just checking if you’ve got one!) All went well, she’s certainly not too ill to flirt furiously with the HCA who took her into the scan. I am on the lookout for a new phone for her. She thinks her friend on the Isle of Man has broken her phone because she has bought a new iPhone. We think AP’s phone has died because it is older than the Pharaohs but she won’t have it.

“Joyce has done something to my phone because it won’t work now she has a new one. Her’s is a mobile and, to make matters worse, she said something about putting Apples in it, so that won’t be helping will it?” (I seriously do not make this up – ask HOH. I can’t because I’m not speaking to him.)

Anyhoo, this will be my last blog before the move. Partly because we won’t have T’Internet for a couple of weeks. (My fault – forgot to sort) But also because I am boring myself with the house-move talk now so I wanted to give you a break. If you were quite mad and wanted to keep in touch, I can be followed on Instagram. I am @ephe406 or on my Facebook author page which you just need to like. (You don’t actually have to like it – just press the button that says that you do). I am Lesley Hargreaves Author. That would be lovely. My plan is to put more up than I am doing now because I will be able to do it on the phone and all that.

Otherwise, it will be like Apollo 13 where I go quiet and you all hold your breath to see if I return to earth safely until you hear me shouting “Houston! I have made it back!” Or something. I may be overestimating my importance to you all. Either way – see you on the other side. DV! (As Thora Hird always used to say)

Rumours of a Carry-On

Hello all and welcome from the Bubble Wrap Queen of Plymouth. Please don’t write in and tell me how unsustainable bubble wrap is as I am borderline unsustainable myself at the moment and that might tip me over the edge. We have more glasses than the Rovers Return apparently, despite giving at least 50% of our stash away.

It can be quite soothing actually, wrapping things up. Last night, I managed nearly every candlestick we had in the house while watching “Captain America – Winter Soldier” which is one of my favourite Marvels and Robert Redford is a very convincing psychopath I think. (Sorry – must learn to put the word “Spoiler” BEFORE I give the plot away.

I’ve also been using the Libby App which lets you download books from your library to your phone – for free. I mentioned it before I think. I’ve been listening to “The Silence of the Girls” by Pat Barker which is a re-telling of the Illiad with women’s thoughts and voices rather than just Achilles, Agamemnon, Odysseus and all. I am slightly obsessed with the story and I think I only have a week left before they take the book back so I am more or less living day to day with my earphones in, which people seem to find irritating for some reason.

Why you would be here reading about a woman who, at the moment, is leaving the house with about the same frequency as Miss Haversham, I don’t know but I am glad you are here. I go to work, obviously and to Aged Parent’s to make sure she isn’t running amok but that’s about it at the moment. By the way, if anyone facies looking after a little Jack Russell as pictured above – just feel free to give me a call. It’s only for a day while we move and he very rarely bites these days.

We are struggling to get AP to eat sensibly as well. Left to her own devices, she would live on porridge, custard creams and M and S Pineapple Tarts. I took some frozen haddock to her flat last week. I thought – cook from frozen, in some foil in a bit of butter. It will be really nice with a couple of slices of brown bread (and possibly a Guinness). When I went back this week, the fish was in the freezer – untouched.

“I thought you were going to have that fish.”

“Well, I was but it said “Keep Frozen” so I left it.”

“You are only supposed to keep it frozen until you eat it!”

HOH says that she knew exactly what that meant but didn’t fancy the fish. He’s probably right. We have stuffed her freezer with ready meals. Hopefully, she will find something in there that will tickle her fancy. She is also quite exercised by the fact that their communal coffee room has been vandalised. Apparently, there was coffee scattered all over the floor and the kettle lead had been damaged. AP said that the warden is liaising with the police about the damage. HOH and I feel this is unlikely as there is not enough of them to liaise with people who have been stabbed at the moment.

On top of this, AP is convinced that there has been an orgy in the Communal Coffee Room. We have no idea why she should think that. Something to do with one of the men being spotted in the evening going downstairs towards the Coffee Room in his dressing gown with a bottle of gin. This was a double sighting as AP was not the only witness and Pop Sock Lady also saw him. We sat, stunned into silence, at this supposedly erotic turn of events, unlikely as it was. HOH broke the silence by asking no-one in particular

“I wonder if that’s how the kettle got damaged?”

Have a great week.

Adventures in downsizing

We have had a lot to do this week and have also chosen to lighten the mood even further by watching Chernobyl. I don’t know if you have seen this – we watched it on a DVD that FOW1 had bought for HOH’s birthday because we don’t have SKY. It is really excellent and I highly recommend. It’s not what you would call a laugh a minute but so cleverly done and totally devastating.

The great downsize continues. I have just waved off someone from the back door as they are carting off our chest freezer. (In exchange for forty of your English pounds – no liability accepted). One of the unexpected issues of selling off all the worldly goods we possess (well, at least the ones that won’t fit in the new place), is that, for an introvert, it can be very difficult. First of all, there are the negotiations. I’m not good at this kind of thing. I take every attempt to beat us down as a personal affront. For instance, we advertised a box of 100+ wooden coat hangers for £25 – a massive saving.

We then had a message on Facebook offering to “take them off our hands” for £15.00. My immediate reaction is to reply “Why would we do that? We have had fifteen messages through showing interest! £25 is a massive saving! MASSIVE! If they were for sale at £15 we would have posted them for £15! Donk!” Instead, HOH replied, “No, sorry.” This is obviously infinitely more mature and we have kind of mutually agreed that the member of our partnership with more acceptable social skills will be doing most of this in the future. It’s probably for the best. I think HOH is dreading letting me loose when we do a car boot sale.

Even Aged Parent has been forced into a bit of a clearout. We arrived on Saturday to a tale of falling over and being on the floor for nearly an hour (we worked it out, it was less than five minutes). However, even she realised that she needed to de-clutter a bit as she had gone flying over lots of clutter in her bedroom. Her big weakness is shoes. She loves a shoe. We must have moved ten carrier bags of them – various shapes and, unfortunately, various sizes.

Mum – these are size fives. They are two sizes too big.

They’re good shoes.

That doesn’t matter if they are two sizes too big

I can put a plaster on my heel.

TWO SIZES MUM!

She pulls that face that tells me that she may not be going for this, then HOH who is stoically sorting through the bags shouts from the bedroom. “Also, I can only find one of the pair AP!”

“Well, I suppose if you have to.” This is hissed through pursed lips and we can tell she isn’t happy. As a last gasp attempt, she pulls out a similar shoe.

“This is near enough isn’t it?”

There is then a brief but intense tug of war for the shoe which I win and, trying to muster up a last shred of dignity, I drill the offending shoes down into the rubbish bag. I am convinced that even her favourite mission charity shop will draw the line at odd shoes. AP is still unhappy and only cheers up when I make her a corned beef and tomato barm cake but think we can all relate to that. Have a great week.

This is where I am

I have been reading the books pictured above. One of these books is not like the other one. One of these books is about the other one and it has given me a fantastic and personal sort of release about the way I read the Bible. (Dramatic pause – if you want to. Depends on how much drama you like).

I like Nick Page. I enjoy his Podcast Mid Faith Crisis which he presents with Joe Davis. HOH really liked his book “Dark Night of the Shed” (a sort of Christian Male mid-life crisis book) I think this may be one of his most important books.

I was brought up in a very traditional Bible-believing family and I am grateful for it. I was brought up on Bible stories and taught what they meant. I listened to preachers take Bible verses apart and apply them to my life. I was also taught that they were literally true. The first thing that ever gave me pause was when a workmate asked what the possibility was that Noah had nipped up to Antarctica to make sure that he got a couple of Emperor Penguins. I didn’t say so but I thought he had a point. Then there were two different accounts of Creation. I didn’t ever really have any kind of problem with the idea of God creating the world (for which I’m sure he is eternally grateful) because if he is God I’m sure he can. It just didn’t ever really look to me like he did it quite how I had been taught. And so, my belief system became quite fuzzy (secretly so) but it didn’t really affect my faith in God, my need of a saviour and my amazement at Grace so, if I am struggling with the idea of Jonah in a whale, it never really bothered me because I was always so astonished at the lengths God went to, to forgive, forget and give another chance to the people of Ninevah (and Jonah too when he had a stonking sulk because he felt hard done to – I always liked him).

Now, here is a book that talks about the Bible being God-breathed and that we are meant to inhale it. To inhale the very essence of God through its pages even though a good proportion of it may not be well – a bit boring – try as I might, I have never been captivated by the measurements of the Temple. He talks about it being written by Committee rather than God moving the pen in someone’s hand. He talks about some of the history being a bit fuzzy – especially around the Patriarchs and Prophets – maybe even that there were several Isaiahs. And I’m still not bothered because I know that God is all over it like a rash and that it is stamped through with how he feels about me.

I have also been moved by what he has said about reading the Bible. Well for a start he says that for most of the Bible’s life, you couldn’t read it because most people couldn’t read and even if you could, you probably couldn’t afford access to it. So people would listen to it, tell tales from it and chew it over. So, if it’s better for you to listen to the Bible than read it, you join with a long illustrious line of men sitting at the city gates, people on hillsides, children in newly formed Sunday schools, plantation workers and on and on from there. If it works better for you, you don’t need to feel that reading is “better”.

Also, Page doesn’t believe that God is bothered about what version you read. NIV, King James, American Standard – you know lots of others. Which brings me to me. (You know in the end that it’s always about me.) For the past twelve months, I have read only The Message. I have been taught that it is only a paraphrase and I always assumed that this was a stopgap, while I was a bit dodgy but, I have to tell you that no other version has challenged or comforted me like this one. For instance, for two weeks, I have been reading the section of Matthew after the Sermon on the Mount and it has been brilliant.

Matthew 6 25-26 “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

I have been chewing over that for ages. I was speaking to HOH and saying how much I was enjoying The Message and would be sad to leave it for a more “accepted” version. He asked, “So why would you?”

So don’t shout at me. I just wanted to share where I am and it is a good thing. Let me just leave you with a quote from Nick Page’s book. Which I am definitely recommending. Have a good week.

“The Bible is an invitation. The Bible is a call. The breath of God lifts its pages; they rise and fall with his breathing.

So open the book. Inhale the breath of God. Become the story.”

Stress

I am never doing this again. That’s if we manage to do it now. Move house that is. According to solicitors/estate agents/self-taught experts, everything is going according to plan. According to us – the sky is about to fall.

I have deliberately not blogged because, believe it or not, the idea on here is to be fairly edifying or, failing that, at least keep the hysteria down to manageable levels. After all, life is full of genuine crises where people cannot put food on the table or are having their children snatched from them and put into camps and no-one likes a cry baby. BUT I am not a person full of perspective and clear thinking. Everyone told me that this was really stressful, and I didn’t believe them. I mean, surely, if you just keep going along steadily, it will all come good in the end. Yes? Ha!

Some of the stress I bring on myself. There is no need to act as if it is a personal affront when people question me on the possibility of damp. (There is some damp. The house was built in 1901. Every house on the road has the odd patch) When this happened I behaved as if someone is suggesting that the house is like a scene in The Creature from the Black Lagoon. I have, of course barely considered praying about it or anything like that. I have just read another book by Pete Greig about praying and he has talked again about bringing every small worry and thought to God because it is about the relationship in the end and God wants to be soaked in every bit of our lives and will never get bored and go away. I feel that if I came to him with every single worry/negative thought at the moment that I would test that theory to its absolute limit.

I’m trying to be nice to everyone obviously and Christian and serene and all “What Would Jesus Do?” but some people are pushing it. I’ll leave it there.

Anyway, I had some leave last week so we did various things for a bit of a break you know. We visited our children, went to IKEA (I know but it is MY stress relief and we went really early in the morning) and we took Aged Parent to Tavistock for the day. This was a wholly successful trip as far as she was concerned as it had the words Pannier Market in it. I have to be honest, most of the stuff there seems to be things that people have been trying to clear out of their attic since 1962 but to AP it was an Aladin’s Cave. I had to take some control – she really does have no need for shoes that are two sizes too big and I don’t care how many pairs of socks she will be wearing to “fill them out”. However, she bought a nice blouse (which we will never see again) and lots of DVDs because she likes a DVD in the evening. I tried to help her choose because she can get titles mixed up sometimes and also, she does like a thriller – especially quite tense ones. We went to see her at the weekend and asked if she had seen any of the films.

“Well yes, but your choice of The Girl on the Train was terrible.”

“I thought you would like it – it’s very tense.”

Well yes it is but I don’t know if you know but it is also a VERY SEXY film and I wasn’t happy with that kind of thing and was quite surprised at you.

(After having checked with Film Studies daughter am told that the film had its moments but was comparatively tame. Am now very concerned about exactly what film she was watching) It’s a trying time.