Tuesday, October 18, 2005


H2 calls and all is not well with LGP at all. She is worse than we thought - happy and pleasant one minute - cantankerous and rude the next. Her cousin thinks that she should have someone living with her until we can complete the house extension - a young companion, perhaps someone who wants to learn English. But without living on the doorstep, the risk is also great. We might not have much choice. How quickly these seeds are flying from the dandelion clock.

Lakshmi Mittal, steel tycoon, has come to the rescue of The Big Easy. Mittal tops the list of UK billionaires but like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, he sets a fine example of philanthropy. Well done, Mr Mittal. It's heartwarming for those of us who are grappling with the minutiae of everyday issues.

Who will come to the rescue of the half million homeless in Pakistan, I wonder?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Departure Lounge

Back again and no time for jet lag. The ironing, like Topsy, has growed and growed and is clawing its crumpled way to the ceiling. Mum looks tired and is still in the same clothes that I left her in a week ago. But her son - he who causes the sun to dim whene'er he sits - has taken her out to lunch. She doesn't understand why he leaves and H2, as usual, picks up the pieces in my absence.

Now H2 has flown like a large angel of mercy to collect LGP and escort her home. Up at 4.30 am to catch the flight. Later, there is a panicky call to our house: LGP is already awaiting H2's arrival but doesn't know where he is. This is the exact same flight that she took a couple of weeks ago, but she has forgotten when it leaves, much less what time it arrives.

My cousin calls and just has time to ask if this is a convenient time for a chat, when Mum picks up the phone downstairs and presses a secret code of numbers to obliterate the landline. All attempts to return the call are thwarted: my cousin is ex-directory; I no longer have her mobile number since three generations of mobile later, the transfer of all numbers from phone to SIM and back again are awry. So I call my aunt and leave one of those rambling messages.

Cook supper, wash up, dry up before Mum springs into action with the tea-towel to dry the dirty plates. Run bath, bath children and leave them on my bed watching TV. Run Mum home, change into pyjamas, make tea, heat pad, tuck in bed. Dash back. Don't they charge you for this? No, Saturday night at around 8.30pm is not a great time to sit and chat.

There is no song about ironing. That is because ironing, however you dress it, is unremittingly and back-achingly dull. Still, it has to be done, and an hour and a half later, I am rewarded with three huge baskets and a sense of virtuousness - and an aching back.

M e-mails to ask whether I have broached the S subject with the boys yet. No! I write back in a panic that I have done nothing and isn't it a little early? M, who is blessed with great commonsense and wonderful humour, agrees.

That sort of thing, I tell her, came with Mrs KumaraSwami's lecture on "pubitty" - and a particularly lovely illustration of a neatly squared off penis with my ruler.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Rain In The City & Ronnie O'Sullivan

The Big Apple is more like The Big Puddle. Rain is lashing down. The city is humid and full of the drip of umbrellas.

On the flight over, I read through Alan Bennett's "Candlewick Way of Death", a detached but not so detached account of his mother's slow slide into dementia and death. Evidently AB's mother was in a kindly nursing home in Weston-on-Sea, but how true the slow starvation by default; the ill-matched hand-on clothes and the stifling still air. And how sad the bodies that are turned away from the curl of the sea - the bodies, who once had their own names (Lilian, Mr Bennett, I took note.). Who once sat happily on every sands-by-the-sea, with the rug and the windbreak and the thermos flask and a round of sandwiches.

Mum is particularly taken with a badge of one of her Mother's Day cards that I sent her years ago. "World's Best Mum". It's fluffy and pink with a flashing light - and she wears it as proudly as she wore my grandmother's amethyst brooch.

A little known fact. H2 tells me that Mum has played in a snooker match against Ronnie O'Sullivan. Apparently Mum caught the bus to Sheffield and The Crucible. What is not clear, is whether her debut as a professional snooker player was before or after she went to tea with David Beckham at Manchester United. The SSBs are agog - not sure whether to believe Grandma or not.

Lovely meal last night with friends. We were evidently noisy though because guests at another table sent a stuffy little note saying that they were "trying to converse". I know it's annoying (and rude) when gales of laughter from another table keep sweeping the room - but it's such a luxury to be able to be off duty. (We might have been a convention of Tourette's sufferers. )

Not a single cab to be had so we rickshaw back in the deluge. My trousers are so wet, it looks like I am wearing sprayed on clothes.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The non-PC PC

Posted the forged card this afternoon, full of chatty gardening news and cricket. Let's hope the postmark blurs and that I am not struck by a thunderbolt. This is not psychiatrically PC at all. On his first visit, the "specialist" told Mum that she had dementia - the very thing that would scare her witless. Well, blessed be the departed wits that she doesn't remember.

Dr P was full of helpful advice. Why don't we keep a diary of appointments, daily events as an aide-memoire? We do actually, have done for years now. Labelling the drawers and light switches is another useful little tip. Done that too. Leaving little notes sometimes helps. (But it doesn't when the little notes get put away in drawers (sorry, labelled drawers) and forgotten. You have to socialise more. "Suppose I don't want to?" Mum said, smelling a rat. "We'll make you", smiled Dr P. Mum playing bingo or singing Siegfried Line songs? I don't think so. We've tried the Day Centre but as only a recent import to this area, her memories and experiences are completely different from everyone else. She might as well have green wobbly things on her head.

I asked about the treatment of dementia in Japan and China where ageing populations attract more research. Beijing University is conducting drug trials into a new drug that aids dementia patients, both Alzheimer's and vascular. Dr P hasn't heard and looks like he doesn't want to. Probably had enough of amateur Internet aided research.

I think non PC will do us fine.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Eric The Red

I actually managed to remember that it was Jewish New Year this weekend and since I have one or two good friends who are Jewish I thought I would email good wishes to them before being steamrollered by weekend chores, including, no doubt, the construct of a Viking longboat, using C8th Norse tools and C21st Ikea instructions...

Tra la la la. How prophetic! That was exactly SSB's assignment. Thanks to Blue Peter, what I can't do with a toilet roll tube, isn't worth knowing. H2 who invented the meaning of competition, set forth in the garden slaying conifers for hollowing out before retreating to consider subaqua elastic band turbo drive - in case there was a "Float my Boat" race as well. Covert enquiries showed that one child's longboat was a hollowed-out watermelon. Gleeful thought: no competition there, then. But full marks for nonchalance - until I saw the rune-encrusted, stripy sailed effort this morning and realised the subterfuge...Ours wasn't bad at all. I insisted on the oars and oar holders despite the fact that my sprayed hanger and two paperclips had gone missing. Other parents admit that they daren't throw anything out in case we are called upon to build the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Dangerous though - one man suffocated once from all the newspapers and cardboard cartons that stuffed all the rooms in his house.

Call from la Grande Pancake. Surprising since she rarely calls from abroad, and even rarelier, answers her phone. But she has forgotten to bring a present for someone and needs H2 to get one to save face. Bet she'll want to come and visit when she gets back - but the room is stuffed full - not newspapers this time, but all the furniture from the sitting room while we try to sort that for Christmas.

Christmas - horrors. The best one we ever had was when we were abroad. Still I am a lot better now - my paranoia about Christmas only starts around October as oppose to June as it did before.

Mum asked me this weekend if I might ever have children. "I do Mum", I said, pointing to the SSBs in a photo on the wall. "Are those yours?" she asked. "You never said". No, I never said. But you play with them every weekend. She wonders when Daddy will be coming back home. "A lot of the girls are after him, you know. Have you heard from him lately?" "Not lately Mum. I expect he'll be up when he's finished what he's doing". Daddy will never be back again - but we can't tell her. Her heart broke once when he left and that was enough. There is no point inflicting this final departure. My forgery skills must be put to work again.

H2 is wearing my Chanel glasses and looks quite sharp. SSBs say they look girly. I thought more Yves St Laurent myself. I can see, though that H2 is wavering. We are at the corduroy crossroads - trying to persuade him that casual shirts are better than overly tight washed out T-shirts. As Howie says, "They just don't get it!"