Sunday 27 September 2009

Time For Another Body Part

No, I'm not endorsing major surgery with these words, wonderful though that might be at times, simply focusing my attention on somewhere other than teeth. The wonderful array of comments on dental delights has covered those less than perfect adjuncts to the full in my previous post, methinks.

Let's look at the other extreme - feet- and by association, shoes. It was such a glorious morning yesterday that, though I was in theory shopping, I took time out to park myself on a seat near to where the flower lady had her pitch set up. Saturday in Havant is known locally as market day, although that's a slight mis-nomer if you're expecting livestock and home grown produce to be on offer.

So I sat and studied feet. It was not long after nine; shoppers hadn't yet arrived in droves, but the few who were about, seemed to amble leisurely before me, left to right, right to left across the part of the precinct in my view. Trainers seemed to be favourite choice of both male and female shoppers of all ages, closely followed by flip flops; granted, the ladies had slightly jazzier and often sparklier versions of these.

Many of the trainers adorned spindly, ancient legs of grandpa types , emerging bizarrely from three quarter length shorts. Who'd have thought the older generation would have cottoned on to this fairly modern trend? Young men too, had the same long shorts, but tended to opt for the flip flops to finish their ensemble.

Among the ladies, I only saw one pair of 'sensible' lace up shoes and one pair of wedge heeled sandals (on a rather short lady who obvious felt they gave her added stature !) Otherwise, flat, ballerina pumps appeared the favourite choice. The flower lady's were gold and sparkly, I recall.
Nobody was daft enough to be wearing high heels, I was glad to see. Fashion statements they may be, but uncomfortable they certainly are - I defy anybody to question this fact.

I only realised how quiet the passing feet were, when a little girl about eight or nine clattered past scuffily in a pair of shiny black shoes of what appeared to be hard plastic, even down to the soles. They underlined the lack of sound produced by everybody else.

Perhaps the one thing all this footwear highlighted, was the fact that none of it was the kind which could be repaired by a cobbler. Our throw away society must have almost rendered them obsolete... As a tribute to an earlier age, here's a poem by Marion St John Webb, entitled

The Boot-Mender

You open the door
and the bell gives a 'Ting'
but it's dark in the shop
an' they don't hear the ring,
'cos it's all full of noise
an' a tapper-tap-tapping,
an' old Mr Glissen's
hammer is rapping.

He's terrible old;
in a little black cap,
an' his head gives a nod
as his hammer goes tap.
An' he looks up an' says
'A fine day for wet weather!
Ah-ha! but the rain
cannot get through my leather!'

He's bendy and brown
an' his eye's twinkly blue;
he holds nails in his mouth
while he hammers my shoe.
Then he gets off his stool
an' around he comes hobberlin'.
I'm frikened to look -
he looks so like a goberlin'.

I b'lieve that he puts
magic nails in, you know,
when he's mendin' my shoes,
so I jus' have to go
where my shoes want to walk!
An' I get in such muddles,
'cos one likes it dry
an' the other likes puddles.

An' sometimes the shoes
make me run down the lane,
an' won't come back quick
when they're told to by Jane.
I esplain it's not me,
but it's 'cos Mr Glissen
has put magic nails in -
but Jane never listens.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Wake Up Call

In case you ended up too peaceful for words after yesterday, I thought I'd make you all sit up by harping back to the wonderful subject of dentists. There! I thought that might catch your attention.

Why on earth in this modern day society, when anaesthesia makes dentistry a virtually painless process, do so many people quake in their shoes at the very thought of a check up, let alone any other of the procedures that lie in wait for unhealthy teeth? Our ancestors were made of much sterner stuff. Just think back to the days when bad teeth were publicly pulled to amuse the crowd at country fairs! Or back a few more millennia, when cave men put up or shut up if a molar proved problematical. I suppose then, it was more likely to be a broken tooth causing pain, rather than decay. A diet of dinosaur steak would hardly cause caries.

Anyhow, I don't mean this post to be all doom and gloom for the fraidy cats amongst you. I thought I would let them enjoy the subject as viewed from the perspective of the wonderful Pam Ayres, whose plaintive poem 'Oh, I wish I'd looked after me teeth' has long delighted her English audiences, but may not have filtered to other corners of the globe. (What a stupid phrase that is - how can a globe have a corner? But as Granny on the Web recently pointed out, the English language is barmy, anyway.)

So with no more ado, here is Pam Ayres' wonderful monologue for your delectation.

Oh, I wish I'd looked after me teeth,
And spotted the perils beneath,
All the toffees I chewed,
And the sweet sticky food,
Oh, I wish I'd looked after me teeth.

I wish I'd been that much more willin'
When I had more tooth there than fillin'
To pass up gobstoppers,
From respect to me choppers
And to buy something else with me shillin'.

When I think of the lollies I licked,
And the liquorice allsorts I picked,
Sherbet dabs, big and little,
All that hard peanut brittle,
My conscience gets horribly pricked.

My Mother, she told me no end,
"If you got a tooth, you got a friend"
I was young then, and careless,
My toothbrush was hairless,
I never had much time to spend.

Oh I showed them the toothpaste all right,
I flashed it about late at night,
But up-and-down brushin'
And pokin' and fussin'
Didn't seem worth the time... I could bite!

If I'd known I was paving the way,
To cavities, caps and decay,
The murder of fiIlin's
Injections and drillin's
I'd have thrown all me sherbet away.

So I lay in the old dentist's chair,
And I gaze up his nose in despair,
And his drill it do whine,
In these molars of mine,
"Two amalgam," he'll say, "for in there."

How I laughed at my Mother's false teeth,
As they foamed in the waters beneath,
But now comes the reckonin'
It's me they are beckonin'
Oh, I wish I'd looked after me teeth.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Peace, Man!

This may sound like a Flower Power greeting, but yesterday, Sweetmango alerted me to the fact that 22 September is International Day Of Peace.

Soul Snax has a great quote for today - see what you think?

So to everybody, everywhere, let's do our bit to make today PEACEFUL !



Monday 21 September 2009

Continuation...

...of yesterday's topic, which seems to have opened a can of worms...Firstly, I was not fishing for comments! Of course, not every follower can, or would want to, comment on every blog, every day - be realistic folks!

I also appreciate that there may well be people who read ours, but choose not to write a blog of their own. The suspiciousness only rears its ugly head when, upon investigation, some of these incognito beings appear to be linguistic giants, who have the time, and the ability, to read umpteen blogs in languages which span the globe. Who are they kidding?

To me, it all begins to smack of the same syndrome as those infuriating 'cold calling' telephone calls; once admit to a supplier of goods that you have a landline and BOOM! Call centre voices on crackly 'phone links begin battering your ears with initial inane greetings, followed by attempts to hard sell anything from insurance, to carpet cleaning, to writing your will! This is the lowest level of advertising, and I treat it with the disdain it deserves.

So to all my trusty, long-standing Blogpals, plus quite a few new ones who've introduced themselves to me recently, I love you all, and would no more dream of blocking you than I would that wondrous writing muse that inspires us all! (Those with photographic bent, please include yourselves in this fraternity; after all, photos are only another form of communication!)

As for your comment, Eddie - don't you know, I'm a founder member of Wizards Inc., and as such would be bound to associate myself with the one in Oz, somewhere along the line...

Sunday 20 September 2009

A Bit Of A Moan...

Blogger has much to answer for, one way and another. When I noticed a rather rapid rise in follower numbers, I started wondering. A few of them, when I hovered over their tiny picture or symbol, had no corresponding Blog of their own for me to visit - simply an enormous list of site's they'd joined. Were they merely jumping on the Blogland band wagon, in order to get free advertising for their own, or another's, business venture? I didn't join Blogger for any commercial reason whatsoever, and I am wary of those who, apparently, have. But to suspect I and my longstanding Blogland buddies are being used for nefarious goings on by computer geeks who remain silent, really gets up my nose!

Before I expire through lack of oxygen due to a preponderance of these annoying 'silent partners', I've decided to vent a little spleen, and await other's opinions and comments on the subject.
These unknowns never seemed to leave a comment, or begin a behind the scenes, email conversation with me - so why were they opting to follow? I blocked three of these dubious people yesterday, but should any of them be genuine, Blogland contributors, they are welcome to show their faces in a less suspicious manner by 'talking' openly to Blogland at large, and thereby gaining my trust in their motives.

Still on a moaning kick, any pleas ( left as a comment!) to 'Do come and visit my blog at BlahDeBlah', are liable to be summarily dispatched to the nearest dust bin by me. My natural curiosity needs no prompting to pay a return visit to those who call, and if your blog is so lacking in lustre that it holds no allure, then I'd not be interested anyway, however much you may ask! A little decorum, people, I beg you!

Sunday afternoon edition cum addition! Since yesterday, I have blocked a total of ten people from my list of followers. I think the effort of weeding out this seemingly dead wood was worth it. I hope it may dissuade others from thinking they can join me for a free ride to goodness knows where. Perhaps they had clicked the 'monetise' button and were hoping to reap some kind of reward from Blogger, or Google, or elsewhere? In which case I trust I have emptied their coffers a little...

Thursday 17 September 2009

Technology Rules!

I have just received the following email from No.1 Son :-

Just to satisfy the curious, the drawer was returned via 'really old friend' courier. It now boasts a shiny new hardboard base, a few more bulges of set araldite and two brackets that. . . wait for it. . . . I had in my drawer! This baby will not fall apart again! (plus my drawer is two brackets lighter now to boot. Genius! )

Even better news, I'm posting this from my phone. The very same phone that decided to go swimming in the toilet! Which simply proves even shiny knights have bad days!

Now, which drawer did I put that armour polish in? .........

Sorry you had to write your own sequel, son!
I know I've already put some of my readers in the picture, but due to two days of attending dental and hospital appointments, I've not updated on the blog proper. I hasten to add, I've already requested further details of the phone in the toilet...How did I not get to hear of that little drama? (Son, how could you not regale me with such interesting details?)

By some quirk of fate, both the Tuesday and Wednesday appointments were for 2.20pm. However, the days could not have been more different.

The dentist is a short walk away. As I got ready to set out, tiny spots of rain splashed on the window panes. 'Only a shower', I thought. 'Be gone in no time.' Wrong; it rained long enough and hard enough to wet me to the skin, beneath my so called 'shower jacket'. The receptionist took pity on my plight, and put the dripping coat on a hanger underneath a heater in her office, while I reclined damply in the dentist's chair to have the new crown fitted. My T- shirt had dark moisture splodges on each area over underlying protuberances of my upper body - back and front, if you're wondering!

The temporary crown was attached a little too well. Initial tugging made me fear I was about to lose the actual tooth along with it, but after the second attempt, the dentist resorted to the good old fashioned method of drilling it to the point of collapse, and my root remained firm. I'm now the proud owner of a gleaming new crown that I hope will last another thirty years, as its predecessor had! At least the weather was fine on the return journey, and I could mourn the loss of the £89.50 I'd had to pay the NHS for my share in the process, without having tears of rain roll down my face, even as I flashed my new smile.

Wednesday dawned sunny and bright. Taxi driver arrived as requested, and deposited me at the shiny, new main entrance of Queen Alexandra Hospital in record time. Since last year, the building has altered out of all recognition. An up-to-the-minute glass facade of towering windows and multi-coloured panels twinkled in the afternoon light. The entrance is through two enormous revolving doors of modern construction, one behind the other. I assume this is to act as an air lock, designed keep the elements at bay and the lobby at an even temperature.

Signposting was clear, and the lift took me to the required level quickly and efficiently - providing you overlook the booming, mechanical voice that nearly deafened me each time it intoned 'Doors opening - Doors closing'. N.B - levels A,B, C and D were equally loud.

The building inside was roomy, bright, light and delicately coloured in pleasing pastel shades - what a joy. I found my designated area in gynaecology outpatients, and only had to endure the inanities of Radio 2 for about half an hour beyond my allotted appointment time.
Mr Bevan eventually called me into his room, reiterated that all was well, and said, after examination, he had no need to see me again.

The revolving doors disgorged me back into the sunshine, and I parked myself on a bench to enjoy it until the taxi came to deliver me home. One poor gentleman I spoke to whilst waiting, said he'd been at QA since 9am (it was now 3.30pm) and had even had time to read, from start to finish, the book he'd brought with him to stave off boredom. I'd got off lightly in comparison to this. My entire trip only took two hours, door to door.

6.30pm update. As received, here is Q's reply to my query, to round off the day for you all...in his own words!

Well now, let me tell you a story.........

My phone was cozily snuggled up in my shirt pocket so I thought I had time to use the loo before it woke up. How wrong was I! It was simply waiting quietly for me to lift the lid of the loo and then it launched itself with all its might. I'm sure I heard it cry with glee as it dived straight into the clean (!) water in the loo. It looked up at me as if to say 'Well?Aren't you going to hold up some numbers and give my excellent dive a score????'.
'I'll give you flamin' numbers', I thought to myself.

I had to seriously reprimand my phone. I locked it in the airing cupboard for a whole week where it had nothing else to do other than ponder on its mischief. I even confiscated its SIM card and let my old phone look after it all week. (Between you and me I think that sealed my hope that my new phone will realize its wrong doing and will never take it upon itself to behave in such a manner ever, ever, ever again.)

So there you have it, sort of.

XXX

Wednesday 16 September 2009

Morning Vignette



An Autumn morning;
in the sky, promise of sunshine
adds radiance to the misty landscape.
Dew glistens on grass.
Crystal beads of water
dangle from points of leaves,
or nestle roundly on each surface,
shimmering.
The Earth is gathering strength
back into itself
as an insurance against Winter.
It knows the Spring will need
these hidden resources
if it is to blossom again next year.



Sunday 13 September 2009

Latest Ripple In My Pond

Thanks to the variation in time lines with Blogland posts, for some, the weekend has already come and virtually gone. I've read messages wishing readers a happy couple of days, long before my calendar marked Saturday. What would I have to post about, if I were to dwell on my activities for that specific span of time? Who could say...

Then, as they have a habit of doing, the gods intervened. Of a sudden, at the end of last week, one of my kitchen unit drawers took it into its head to collapse. I don't mean it simply came off its runners. No, it disintegrated. Initially, as I pulled to open the drawer, the front panel came loose on the right edge. The drawer part way slid out then stuck, while the contents began an alarming slide towards the rear, and items began noisily falling into the equipment stacked cupboard below. I bet my face was a study, if I could only have seen it. Surprise and horror combined must have been written all over.

For the rest of that day, I ignored its sorry state; tried to block it out of my mind by not even looking at it as I prepared meals for myself. Ostrich time; bury head and hope it turns out to be no more than a dream. Fat chance.

Next day, feeling better able to face the truth, I spent a happy time slowly winkling out the multifarious contents, bit by bit. There was just enough open drawer for one hand to search blindly for the next amazing object to be retrieved. Why amazing? Well, beyond the tin openers, bottle opener, knife sharpener etc that I knew lived at the front of said drawer, there began to emerge the strangest assortment of 'stuff' you could wish to meet: four old corks: a small pot of scarlet poster paint: a box of colourings for cake icing: a syringe and two icing bags: assorted plastic cutters for said icing: assorted cutters for pastry, biscuits or plasticine, should the occasion arise (!): two pairs of ratchet nut crackers: a Tweenies tin Easter Egg container: a metal Easter Egg mould: a dolly peg: three spring clip pegs.

I could go on, but by now you've got the picture, I'm sure. Eventually, with half my kitchen surfaces awash with the rescued debris, I extricated the remains of the drawer; two plastic sides and back still jointed at the corners, which waved around like a tripartite snake as I moved them about; a bent and bulging hardboard base and a chipboard front, still sporting half a dozen wooden doweling pegs that stuck out of its rear surface like blunt sharks teeth, completed the ensemble.

Other extraneous items among the contents are unmentionable - mostly because I have no idea how to describe them... Like the three, white, rubbery thingies that looked as though they may have been for protecting feet on some metal /wire contraption. But why only three? Don't most things inanimate stand on four feet? And why did I hoard them?

Perhaps the most prolific items were the bundled sheets of metal ties (the kind you get in boxes of food bags). I admit, I have been known to use such things for many, many creative uses in my time, but there were enough of them to supply an army of creative imbeciles for a lifetime, let alone just me...

Okay, what next? After studying original construction methods (dodgy) and wondering how on earth I could manage to stick everything back together on my own, I took the easy option and put out an SOS call to No.1 Son.

Yesterday afternoon he came pootling over with his trusty tool sack slung over one shoulder, and we spent a happy time scraping off old glue splodges from the surfaces that needed putting back together once cleaned up. As he tentatively reassembled the whole, he discovered why the drawer had collapsed in the first place. The hardboard base was marginally too small for the inner measurements, so the rear edge had popped out of its groove. It was a miracle, that it had lasted as long as it had.

Then he dropped a spanner in the works - he had to leave to pick up young L17 from work, as she'd not been paid since starting there two or three weeks ago, and he was going to be a knight in shining armour for her, by demanding justice. But the drawer was still in pieces . . .

Eventually, he left with it tucked under his arm, promising to get another base cut to the correct size, before delivering the whole thing back to me, as good as new, once finished. His armour is shining brightly on more than one count! My kitchen on the other hand, still looks like a jumble sale collection point. I'm having a great weekend, thanks...

Thursday 10 September 2009

Encore?

Thank you to all the kind souls who left calling cards as a result of my last post. I'm not so sure I can produce an encore, as many seemed to request. A lot of my lingering war memories have already been sewn into the Blogland tapestry I've completed so far.

Being an awkward character, I enjoy the way each new post leaves me with a blank canvas to work on. Working to rule is not my modus operandi, so forgive me if today's stitchery draws its own pictures, not necessarily directly related to the previous topic, though it may link in some form or another. In fact, I think I see how...

Having survived a barrage of German bombardments in my earliest years, I see it might appear a trifle strange, that by the time I was at secondary school, I opted to study the German language as one of my 'O' level subjects. Perhaps my curiosity wanted to understand more about the land and its people, as I'd grown up with the word 'Germany' being part of my world. Perhaps it was because I already enjoyed French lessons, and thought German ones would provide another bright spot in a curriculum which could become hum-drum.

Be that as it may, it resulted in my first trip abroad, on my own, to stay with a girl called Helga Winnesberg and her family, when I was about thirteen. I can still see her and her mother, waiting to meet me on the station platform; a round faced girl with brown, plaited pigtail, half a head shorter than me, and Mother in a felt hat, indeterminate coloured, classic coat and sensible shoes. It was quite a relief to see them looking so ordinary, as the station had presented me with a far more disturbing picture when I first got off the train - a pair of uniformed police officers toting guns in their holsters slung across their drab, green coats - a sight which had made my heart beat somewhat faster!

One weekend, we went to watch a hockey match, local German team against a visiting English one, and it was rather disconcerting that goals scored by the English were met by tepid applause, compared to that for the home team. But what on earth did I expect?!

Trips out in the family car - a great luxury in my eyes - showed a prosperous, picturesque country. I was surprised at how Cologne (K├Âln) city centre showed no evidence of bombing, unlike Portsmouth, which still had areas where it remained well in evidence.

Anyhow I enjoyed my first taste of Germany, and many years later, when I had the chance to visit again with LABBS ( Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers), I was very excited. One afternoon, we went to a community centre to rehearse for our evening performance. It was around Easter time, and in an adjoining room, some ladies were selling Easter goodies of all kinds, for some charity or other, and we were allowed to go and spend some of our money, as well as time (!), before the rehearsal started.

There were many gaily decorated wreaths, baskets etc, flaunting the traditional yellow, purple and white ribbons, flowers and eggs, and chorus members swelled their coffers quite well, I'm sure.

I ended up in the musical director's bad books, as, after purchasing my Easter wares, I was late for her rehearsal. I'd been waylaid by one silver haired old dear, who, despite having little English, and my having a bare minimum of German, managed to tell me about some of her war time memories. She had loved the soldiers from UK being billeted near her home, and couldn't wait to relay some of her girlhood's memories of dancing and merriment with the 'foreigners'.

So this morning, being now a silver haired old dear myself, I thought I'd weave these German threads into my tapestry, for your amusement.

Saturday 5 September 2009

Memories

With many news items this week mentioning the long ago start of the second world war, it reminded me of something I'd written for my family's younger generation, to whom war is simply a word, not a memory. I was not yet born when the hostilities began, but by 1941 they were still going strong. My young niece asked me some questions about that time, and I've decided to share some of my answers with Blogland at large. Here goes...

The German planes only flew over to drop their bombs at night , and only when the weather was right. They liked a bit of cloud cover, so if the night sky was very clear and starry, they tended not to come in such large numbers, and we would get a quieter night. Also, they waited for darkness, so during long summer evenings, life seemed almost normal still.

There was an Anderson shelter in Gran's garden, and when the sirens went in the middle of the night, we had to get up quickly and leave the house. The shelter was simply a few sheets of corrugated iron covered with turf, so they made a mound over the tiny space that had been excavated in the garden earth. I can't remember a lot about how it looked inside. There were a couple of bunks I think, and lots of old chairs - even the one with the woven seat that Mum used to put the skewers through (that's another story!) and I spent a lot of the time sitting on Mum's lap while she either read Mary Mouse books to me, or told me stories. I do remember the whining sound of doodlebugs, and the bang and thump of bombs exploding fairly close by. They seemed to make the air all round push and squeeze you, but I don't remember any of it as frightening, because I was too small to understand what was really going on. I still have pictures in my mind, of standing up in my cot, looking out of Gran's bedroom window and seeing flames rising into the sky from burning houses in nearby streets. Somehow, despite all this, I still remember childhood as having been a happy time, when I was surrounded by a loving, extended family.

Because I was born after the start of the war, Dad was already away on his ship, and I didn't know who he was when I first saw him. So, I couldn't miss him, as I'd never known him to be around. Sad, isn't it? It wasn't until he left the Navy, when I was about 7 or 8, that I have any proper memories of him.

Other memories I have of those days, are of everything being 'make do and mend'. Sometimes I used to help Auntie Nell and Betty wind wool from unpicked, knitted jumpers, so they could re-knit it into other clothes - often for me, and later on, for my brother. Everything was in short supply, and clothes would be altered, made over and worn till they were on the point of falling apart. No popping to a supermarket for a cheap alternative! But we had lots of laughs, and all people were friendlier than they are now, as the hard times were universal, and brought everyone together in a common bond.

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Here I Go Again

Thanks to a comment left by Kathleen on my previous post bemoaning the departure of the muse, I received a prompt. She'd said, among other things:-

'If you so much as wrote one word, say, "sneeze," I do believe I'd find some extraordinary meaning!' This was, naturally, a throwing down of the gauntlet.

Initially, I emailed her a reply - 'He he he - a poetic sneeze! Now I've heard it all!' To which she replied, 'Not yet: Ah, choo choo!'

Poetic Prompt

'Ah, choo choo!'
Is that a sneeze?
Or just a sound designed to please
a listening ear? I can't decide;
'tis p'raps a train ( designed to ride)
whose puffing engine children call
a 'Choo-choo train', when they are small?
Kathleen gave the prompt to me
and here is the result, you see.
She said, from just a single word
I'd get a poem. That's absurd...

or not . . .

Okay, not one of my best, but relevant to today, methinks. Yesterday was another of the scheduled delights in my calendar; a trip to the dentist to get impressions done for the replacement front crown on the tooth that has been a nuisance for weeks. All I hope now, is that the final crown will bear some resemblance to the original tooth shape, as the number of temporary patches have left a present shape far from normal.

I must say, the whole process was more space age than ever. Time was, an obnoxious, pink, warm wax was squelched around the upper and lower teeth to take the impressions. Yesterday, this was replaced by a cool blue substance, far less repulsive, and the temporary crown was concocted with a syringe full of gunk wielded by the dental nurse and honed to an acceptable state by the dentist; four hands hovering over my face, ducking and diving to produce an acceptable facsimile of a tooth until the final crown gets fixed in place in two weeks time.

Dentistry, along with many other things, has moved into the twenty first century.