What we did…

…on our holidays. The short answer is “as little as possible” but before we get into that, the people down the road have put their washing out today and it includes a bright red fitted bottom sheet. Do you ever feel you are missing out on the kind of life that other people are living? Unfortunately, here at Martha Towers we wil never be the kind of racy people who have red sheets.  Apart from a weekend in London, the rest of our time off work has had a distinctly, non-red old biddy feel to it.

We went to the pictures four times! Yup four times – just colour me happy. We are having a spanking brand new Imax built in Plymouth and, in a bid to drum up a bit more interest, before everybody wanders off to the new attraction, Vue Cinemas are charging £4.99 a ticket for every film. THIS IS FANTASTIC. It means we go to see lots of stuff that normally we would decide against because we are not convinced that it is worth the money. Anyway, among our  haul was Black Klansman – a true-ish story about a black man managing to infiltrate the Klan. (mainly over the phone in case you were wondering) It’s really funny as well. Also Mission Impossible 65 or whatever – v good value for money. And Ant Man and the Wasp which is more Marvel I know but a flippin’ good laugh.

We managed to spemd a couple of days with FOW1 and FOW2 in their new incarnations as responsible people who live independently and work and study for their livings. All seems to be well and, as any parent of people who have moved into their own abodes can tell you, the transformation into people who can work the washer and switch on the vacuum cleaner has been nothing short of miraculous. 

What else? Oh yes – we visited a couple of Devon hotspots – if that isn’t a contradiction. We went to Ashburton – but I think that was shut – unless you wanted to buy antique silver, a mini wheelbarrow with dahlias in or a cottage loaf made of spelt flour and quinoa. These places are murder if all you really fancy is a packet of Cheese and Onion crisps. 

Also Aged Parent was due her return to the physiotherapist and was very put-out because everything is going spankingly well. However, if the young man at the hospital thought he was going to get away with “Well everything seems to be healing well.” then he was in for a huge disappointment. By the time we had been through the accident again (in real time I think), the possibility that the driver had been drinking, (he hadn’t) and the fact that she is struggling to do the excercises 30 times a day, (the finest medical minds in Plymouth have failed to explain sucessfully that it is 10 repetitions, three times a day), I noticed that the physio was rubbing the top of his nose between his thumb and forefinger a lot. Welcome to my world sweetie. 

At the moment people in AP’s sheltered housing are struggling a bit because the lift has been broken for about a month. Efforts to track down the part that is needed to mend it appear to be resembling a quest at the same sort of level as Indiana Jones trying to find the Holy Grail. In the mean time, the residents have been provided with stair lifts to support them on the stairs. It’s not ideal but hopefully will tide them over until they can get the lift sorted. Apparently though, this is not going to suit everybody.

Me           How is the stairlift going?

AP            It’s ok. It’s no good for him next door though.

Me           Why not?

AP            Well – look at him he’s HUUUGE! He’d break it. And I told him. Don’t get on it Joe! You’re miles too fat for it.

Me            That seems a bit harsh. Did you say that to his face.

AP           He knows he’s fat. That’s why he’s in here. That and the depression and the low self esteem issues.  He lacks confidence apparently.

I’m sure finding himself in a flat next to AP is doing him the world of good. Anyway, off back to work. Hope you are all well.

And who made this a competition?

Too much time on the phone, scrolling. That’s my problem. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – all that malarky. (Not Snapchat – that’s where the young people ply their trade. Apparently all posts disappear after a few minutes so, by the time I have found my glasses, the messages will have gone). As a general rule I would say that I like a lot of Social Media. It can be life affirming to watch a daschund walking on a melon and I think we can all relate to that. The Internet too is a useful thing. Just look at my previous five searches

  • Is Frank Ifield dead?
  • What do silverfish look like?
  • £1 Chef’s Butternut Squash Risotto
  • How much is Man United’s new pink shirt?
  • Can cold rice poison you?

You see! 100% useful. This week I read something on the Internet from a young couple.  I don’t know them – they are friends of friends – but because the vast majority of the people I know can’t tell you the first thing about privacy settings – we all end up seeing lots of riveting posts about each other. She had written a post about how blessed she was to have a man like him and he had written how blessed he was that his wife had sacrificed so much to stay at home and look after their children, thus making their offspring “winners at life” and “preparing them to push on for God in an awesome way” and “growing leaders for the future.” This is all very nice and I am glad it is all working out so splendidly. Looking after your children is an honourable and important job. But – not so fast. I think I just need to say something.

  • It’s lovely if you have a partner that makes you happy. Hurrah! Not everyone does though. Some people are with people who are not all that really and may be going through some stuff. Some people are alone and don’t want to be. Some people are alone and DO want to be. People are not living second division lives because they don’t have what you have. 
  • If I leave aside the unavaoidable fact that “winning” usually means that there is a loser, I am nothing but happy at the all round victorious nature of your children. Sometimes though, children are sad, they are bullied and lonely and they mess up. Sometimes, they are complete pains in the backside. They are no less precious, complete and adored by the Father. 
  • Not every family has the luxury of being able to leave one parent at home. You can sacrifice until you are blue in the face but if you are wrestling with a zero hours contract, unpaid bills and a ruck of uniform to buy – no baliff will accept the excuse that you are home because you are growing winners. And…
  • In my humble opinion, a working parent is just as capable of providing love, care, security and all the other necessary things as anyone else. (And, should you so desire, you can help them to be their absolute best and push through as leaders as well – always remembering though that God deeply loves them even when falling miles short of their absolute best or discovering that they would rather not be pushing on in the leadership department, thank you).

I am all for a “can-do” approach. Because I do believe that God “can-do”. Jesus makes me optimistic about what I can achieve certainly but I’m not sure how comfortable I am with people using God to say how fantastic and correct their set-up is and therefore suggesting that anyone not experiencing their life is not as good/important/spiritual as they are. I’m sure people don’t mean to do that but sometimes a “hurrah for this person” can make someone else think that they are somehow inferior. My impression of Jesus is that, despite who he was, whenever he walked into a room, he always to sought to associate himself with the weakest, most troubled person in there. (See, the sick, the tortured, the outsiders, the dishonest etc etc). It is my total joy that Jesus entered into a room in my life and, despite seeing immediately that I was most certainly not winning at anything, still pulled up a chair next to me and made it obvious that I was the most beautiful thing that he had ever seen. I expect many of you could say the same thing and if you can’t you should – because it’s true. And, in all the time I have known him, I have never felt that Jesus has raised a holy pointy finger to someone and said “See him? Isn’t he terrific? You should be more like him.” 

I’m ranting now so I should go but I wanted to say – don’t be disturbed by Social Media bragging or “rejoicing” as some people might like to call it. Look at it. Thank “That’s nice.” then maybe ask “Is that something?” Then probably say to yourself “Nah – tain’t nothing.” Move on. You are very precious. Where you are now. Very.

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[a]30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10

Sometimes it can be very difficult….

…to be a woman, as Tammy Wynette very nearly sang. (I know it was “Sometimes it’s hard.. but if I had put that as a title, we would be attracting all sorts of unsavouries to the blog and we don’t want that do we?) Anyway this is me and HOH being a bit chilled because we are on our Jolly Holidays. Still. Ain’t life grand?

I thought I might write a bit about being a woman, because I am one and I suppose you should always write what you know. For those of you concerned with the progress of our resident woman (Well not here in my house – are you crazy? We would kill each other) – I mean Aged Parent. The plaster is off her arm and she is refusing to do the excercises because they hurt. However, she is busy with the love life of her friend at the moment because she has split up with the man who shouts on Aldi Car Park but AP is concerned because she thinks her friend is back on the “Snack and Chat”. I have patiently explained that it isn’t called that – at least I don’t think it is but AP thinks that is hardly the point and these chatlines are doing her no good. However, her friend has explained that she is not the sort of woman that can be alone and would have the original one back, even though he threw the telephone at her. These people are in their eighties. Shouldn’t they be watching The Waltons or something? Anyway moving on.

Woman One. The Home Secretary from “The Bodyguard”. (Is it THE Bodyguard? or Bodyguard? Could look up. Can’t be bothered.) I knew I wouldn’t like this but – in the interests of bringing you the very best in TV criticism that a free blog written by a woman who doesn’t watch that much telly can bring, I sent HOH out there first to let me know what it was like. He informs me that it is a lot of powerful women pursing their lips a lot, a bodyguard who has so many issues and scars from “The War” that he needs a wheelbarrow to carry them around (are there no vetting procedures for this kind of thing?) and that people had their heads blown up as I expected. Also, there was jig-a-jig in Episode 2 – which was a lot earlier than I expected. This goes to prove that, no matter how intelligent and powerful a woman is, underneath it all, she is lonely and lost and needs a man with mental health issues to drag her into the bedroom and sort it all out. No wonder these people never get to the bottom of the red boxes.

Woman Two – The Prime Minister. I have no particular affection for Theresa May. If you delve into the murky depths of the Windrush affair and the “Hostile Environment” for immigrants that she was instrumental in creating, you wonder how she is still in a job. If she had been a Premier League Manager, she would be long gone with that failure record. However, I have had to admit to jumping to her defence this week about the dancing. She went out and danced with some African children this week only to be met with universal derision. Her response to this was to go out and do it again – only more so!! Hurrah! People had decided to bully her and she answered in the best way possible – with a highly unusual interpretive dance. Good for her. People had put a show on for her and she decided to show them how appreciative she was. (I suppose it is a possibility that the nations in question have told her that they won’t sign up for trade deals unless she danced – a bit like Clint Eastwood, when he used to fire bullets at people’s feet but I think this is a scurrilous rumour). It’s very difficult to stand stock still as people are performing a dance for you and still look appreciative. The Queen has managed it but only after years of practice. She is actually top notch at this because she has mastered the art of looking riveted whilst moving almost imperceptibly sideways and on to the next thing.

Woman Three. Ariana Grande. This week saw Aretha Franklin’s rather awesome funeral. (Please keep your voices down. HOH can’t believe she has gone and he keeps getting upset). Apparently she changed clothes for her open casket viewing around six times, which is marginally less than Diana Ross did when we went to see her live. Anyway, Ariana, who is a particular favourite of the young people, sang a song at the funeral and did very well. Afterwards, perhaps unexpectedly, she found herself struggling with the attentions of Bishop Charles H Ellis (The Third). You can have a look here. He has apologised but you have to ask yourself how he thought he would get away with that – unless it is something he does all the time. You know, I think sometimes that the #meetoo movement can be a bit of a pain in the bum but sometimes, the level of entitlement that some men must feel to behave like that is truly shocking. It is especially so when he stands at a pulpit and does it. We are hearing more and more stories very week about men of God and the way they have behaved. This is annoying for lots of reasons – it shames the Church, God’s Message and also, genuine, honest pastors and servants of God are having to suffer being tarred with this brush. Much of what we hearabout what has gone on behind closed doors is very disturbing and is a challenge to all of us. But some of it is happening in plain sight. Eternity, Forgiveness, Grace – these are important matters. Some men placed in positions of trust and responsibility would do well to remember that and move your flippin hand!


London

We have been away for the weekend, staying in a friend’s house. We are back now and I have retired to the kitchen with a glass of wine and HOH is in the front room watching Bodyguard – soon to be watching someone getting their head blown up no doubt. I am writing this under great duress as someone in the know at WordPress has decided that it would be a fantastic idea to change everything around and I have no idea if this is going to work. At the moment, it seems to have decided to sign out if I take my fingers off the keyboard long enough to sneeze. I am not the quickest of thinkers at the best of times and this isn’t helping.

London was excellent as usual. It did rain a lot on one of the days which means that HOH was quite grumpy (Little known fact, HOH hates getting wet in the rain – none of your romantic “Walkin’ in the Rain with the one I love” nonsense here) The young people looked after Morecambe, who was particularly pleased to see FOW’s girlfriend and celebrated by throwing up over her. We went to the Tate Modern which is chocka full of nonsense but some of it is amazing. HOH wanted to see something about Art in Germany just before the war. It was excellent – depressing – but excellent. We thought about St Paul’s but thought again when we saw it was £18.00 each. I’m not mean but we judged that they were unlikely to have added anything else since we went last time. No more dead Kings or Queens  or anything. Best place for them is Westminster Abbey anyway. Apparently St Paul’s is free if you are going to Evensong. Contemplated singing on the door to see if we could get in. Didn’t contemplate for long.

We went to see a film at the BFI. Called “The Women”, it was made in the Thirties and starred people like Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell. No men – although it was about men really – what with cheating husbands and the like. Still, it was completely excellent and we all applauded at the end – even HOH and I am sure that it was nothing to do with being happy to be dry for the first time all day. I don’t suppose it will be showing anywhere else because only people in London have the right to something a little different. Apparently the rest of us can only just about cope with Mama Mia. 

Also did the National Gallery for the first time in years. I am old and I am going to rant now. What on earth possesses a young person – when they are confronted by a work of genius – let’s say a Van Gough, to think that what this painting needs is for them to take a selfie in front of it while pulling their tongue out and reproducing Dele Alli’s goal celebration? (You’ll have to look it up yourself – I’m ashamed I even know it) I mean, I’m a bit puzzled by people who take photos of paintings anyway; unless it’s for historical reasons or maybe as a memento, I’ll give you that Sunshine. But really!

We also went shopping on Regent’s Street (well I say “Shopping” more gawping really) and I stood behind a young woman in “And Other Stories…” (Clothes shop in case you wondered) and watched her drop £454.00 on clothes. £454!!!! In one go! Even I could see that that suede skirt was going to be very unforgiving.

We came back today and our train broke down. Can I also mention that it was dirty and none of the reservation seats had been booked. It took several of the finest minds at GWR two hours to decide that it couldn’t be repaired and that we had to go back to the previous train station. TWO HOURS! Everyone on our train was then deposited onto the next train (after being promised an empty train that didn’t materialise) This made the train behind us very late as it was already full (they were three carriages short apparently) and we stood in the aisle for a good proportion of the rest of the journey. We were all very Dunkirk about the whole thing and helped each other (as it seemed that the train staff had all locked themselves in the bike carriage – possibly for their own safety) But, as one lady pointed out, it’s the fact that we are all so reasonable about things like this that makes the train companies behave like this again and again. She resolved to immediately put a complaint in to GWR and write to the Daily Mail. This was an entirely successful endeavour right up until the moment she pressed “Send” and discovered that the train’s Internet had failed. For those who don’t know anything about the South West of England, the Powers That Be, of any political colour you care to name, do not give a monkey’s uncle about the transport in the South West. There are very few voters here and a lot of them don’t have the transport links to get to the voting booths. Most winters, the entire South West gets cut off when the line is overwhelmed by the sea. But apparently we are Chris Grayling’s Number 1 priority. Hah! I mean, anything can break down, it’s just the lack of a back up plan that does my head in. Am I claiming compensation? You bet your sweet bippy I am. Have a good week!

Mundane

Hope your week has been lovely. We have painted  a bedroom which was thrilling and we went to the pictures. There was nothing on that we wanted to see really but we wanted to go and see SOMETHING so we went to see Mission Impossible. Unfortunately, the cinema had decided to change the times of the showings on their website (not for the first time) so we missed it. We were there, and we had made an effort and had a wash and things so Mama Mia 2 it was! Hurrah! Well, I have to say that the charms of the first one, apart from a few Meryl Streep bits, more or less escaped me, so it wasn’t the top choice but I had left the house and was determined to do something wild and entertaining so in we went.

JUST A BIT SPOILERY HERE – NOT A LOT BUT YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. FOW2 who has seen it several times, texted me a warning. “It’s quite lovely, but you have to suspend your disbelief for the first twenty minutes and DON’T BE SO SNOBBY!” Well – suspend your disbelief – indeed. I had to staple my disbelief to the ceiling with an industrial staple gun. Lily James, who acts with her hair a lot, drifts through life and half the men in Greece while people give her hotels and let her band sing in their cafes and even deliver her baby. Then her daughter spends the second half of the film being told how proud everyone is of her – her mum, her dads, her friends, various Greek people – she makes them all proud every day. Which is nice. To me, it does seem a little bit of a low bar because all she seems to have done is renovated a hotel. However, it is a very nice hotel and she too has lovely hair. Having said all that Julie Walters is worth the ticket price alone and there is an undeniable feel-good factor. I’m moaning but I have spent a lot worse hours in the cinema.

Aged Parent has had her plaster from her wrist removed and all is well. She has been given exercises to do which she promised to undertake faithfully just as soon as the wrist had stopped aching. She was quite put out when the physio explained that the exercises needed to be begun immediately to stop the aching. She is distinctly unimpressed with the medical profession who have joined the police on her list of overrated public services. HOH then took her to the bank to sort out her finances as she didn’t want to go with plaster on. (As usual I have no idea) For whatever reason she managed to put her PIN number in incorrectly three times, promptly blocking her card. HOH then took her to the counter to sort it. The cashier, probably unwisely, informed Aged Parent, that, in these days of scams and frauds, sometimes older people came into banks with younger people who tried to get them to take money out under duress. During this rather startling statement, the cashier was staring very intently at 6 foot HOH. Aged Parent would have to speak to a lady in Coventry to convince that all was well. The Coventry based banker offered to phone AP’s mobile phone for ID. This did not go down well as it had been crushed under the wheel of the car that attacked her. In the end she lost patience.

“I will have you know that I have had a terrible ordeal. I have been run over in a horrific car accident, I have been ill for weeks, my daughter has paid all my bills and bought all my food because I was forbidden to leave my flat and she needs it back now!” (Almost 90% of this is not the whole truth. She is undaunted) She left twenty minutes later with exactly what she wanted. HOH says he can never go back there.