Saturday, 6 February 2016

Another Reason to Smile

We Germans like our Bratwurst!
It is claimed that there are 1,200 different varieties of sausage in Germany.
For now, I am enjoying this one out of my frying pan;
eating it leaves me almost cheerful, in spite of the calories contained in it.

by AP Herbert

If there’s a dish
For which I wish
More frequent than the rest,
If there’s a food
On which I brood
When starving or depressed,
If there’s a thing that life can give
Which makes it worth our while to live,
If there’s an end,
On which I’d spend
My last remaining cash,
It’s a sausage, friend,
It’s a sausage, friend, and mash.

When love is dead,
Ambition fled,
And pleasure, lad, and pash,
You’ll still enjoy
A sausage, boy,
A sausage, boy, and mash.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Google rules ok!

Losing followers?

I finally saw the Google announcement which states that they are no longer allowing followers who are not in possession (?) of a Google account. So that’s why I have been shedding followers since early in December.

Any of you who are not informed of new posts on my or any other blogger’s blog are not being blocked by the blogger but Google itself, that giant, all-consuming steamroller flattening and levelling all who come into its clutches.

This is what Google said:

In 2011, we announced the retirement of Google Friend Connect for all non-Blogger sites. We made an exception for Blogger to give readers an easy way to follow blogs using a variety of accounts. Yet over time, we’ve seen that most people sign into Friend Connect with a Google Account. So, in an effort to streamline, in the next few weeks we’ll be making some changes that will eventually require readers to have a Google Account to sign into Friend Connect and follow blogs.

 As part of this plan, starting the week of January 11, we’ll remove the ability for people with Twitter, Yahoo, Orkut or other OpenId providers to sign in to Google Friend Connect and follow blogs. At the same time, we’ll remove non-Google Account profiles so you may see a decrease in your blog follower count.

 We encourage you to tell affected readers (perhaps via a blog post), that if they use a non-Google Account to follow your blog, they need to sign up for a Google Account, and re-follow your blog. With a Google Account, they’ll get blogs added to their Reading List, making it easier for them to see the latest posts and activity of the blogs they follow.

We know how important followers are to all bloggers, but we believe this change will improve the experience for both you and your readers.

Posted by Michael Goddard, Software Engineer

I am not asking any of you to take on a Google account if you don’t wish to. Instead, I might simply delete the Followers’ gadget eventually.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

A Reason to Smile . . . .


It’s been a dark and dismal time, inside and out.
Many of you praise me for telling it like it is, 
but even a straight-talker like me cannot always 
share their gloomiest moments.

The black dog will not leave me alone,
it insists on following my footsteps,
intruding into my every waking moment,
colouring my every thought.

Get away from me, soul destroyer.

Monday, 28 December 2015

The Weather Outside is Frightful . . . .

with skies of unrelieved grey; wet and grey and muddy underfoot. As if Christmas on its own weren’t bad enough. However, I survived, as I hoped I would.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, it was a toned down English version, an English Christmas without the paper hats and streamers; without the family rows, and bored kids; without endless hours of television. Even without a turkey. Dear kind friends took pity on us and gave us a Christmas dinner of roast goose instead. All very civilised, with good conversation and enough goodwill to solve half the ills of our planet. Sadly, nobody takes notice of sensible, kindly, friendly and peace-loving folk like us.

Christmas is usually a difficult time for me. It’s the time when I’m most aware of being in voluntary exile. The Christmases of my childhood were slow and modest and contemplative ones, festive, with an unchanging order of events, lasting for at least three day, including Holy Night (Christmas Eve in the UK), Christmas Day and the second day of Christmas (Boxing day here). Nowadays, I do my best to forget, ignore, avoid all old-country-ways but all it takes is a sliver of Silent Night sung by a children’s choir on German TV and a secret tear rolls down my face. Ah well, there’s sentiment for you.

We had promised ourselves that we would finally broach our very small collection of decent French reds which we bought many years ago from a proper French dealer in the Loire region. "After all, we don't know what next year will bring; will we still be around to drink it?” We use this phrase rather a lot now. I chose this Gigondas from 2002 to start us off, entirely suitable to go with roast beef on Boxing Day. Beloved took the bottle between his knees and operated on the cork, which promptly crumbled and broke off halfway through uncorking. I had a go and broke the remaining bits of cork. I’d managed to poke a hole through though and laboriously and very slowly emptied the bottle into a plastic jug by means of a paper towel lined funnel. From there it went equally slowly into a glass jug.

And what do you know, it was still drinkable. Not that either of us knows what a 14 yr old Gigondas, chateau-bottled, tastes like before it’s messed around by a pair of rank amateurs. Cheers.

TV was an acceptable part of the festivities too; we watched the final, very final and very stickily sweet  two-hour-long episode of Downton Abbey. All’s well that ends well with not a dry eye in the house. Even the below-stairs lot gets paired off. Most of Doctor Who passed me by, the tremendous noise irritated me; Then there’s the Dickensian, a rather messy soup of most of Dickens’ novels which goes on for twenty half-hour-long episodes (will I stay the course?) and Agatha Christie’s ‘And Then There Were None’, a stylish adaptation to my mind. I like a bit of mindless murder and mayhem, particularly when it’s done in muted colours, bristling moustaches and kind elderly gentlemen being sweet to damsels in distress.

But the best thing about Christmas, as in so many Decembers of our gradually warming climate, are the snowdrops, bravely poking out from the muddy ground. Harbingers of spring? Or foolhardy little treats just waiting to be nipped by frost and covered by snow?

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

What is WRONG with these people!

Receptionist: Hello, good morning, may I confirm a few details first?
Me: Certainly.
Receptionist: Name? Could you spell that?
Me: Certainly. (I spell my name.) 
Receptionist: That’s brilliant, thank you.
(Brilliant? It’s brilliant that I know how to spell my name?)
Receptionist: Address? Post Code?
(Again I comply, singing out address and Post Code.)
Receptionist: Excellent, that’s great, thank you.
(It’s excellent that I know my address? What kind of moron do you normally deal with?)  

Replies to her question as to who my doctor is and which surgery I use meet with unqualified rapture on her part. She is beside herself in praise of my intellectual acumen.

Finally, she hands me a form and invites me to sit and wait.

I say 'thank you', as good manners require.

Receptionist: NO PROBLEM.
(What? Who said anything about ‘problem’. Of course, there’s no problem. Wouldn’t ‘You’re welcome’ have been more appropriate?

I’m next for the scan; a young man calls out my name; first name only, pronouncing my surname is beyond his capabilities. I walk into the room where the huge scanner lives.

MRI technician: you can put your bag over there, pointing to the floor next to a table with a small machine on it. I comply and look a question at him about where best to put my coat. He points to the same general area. There is no chair in the room.

Me: okay if I put my coat over the machine?
MRI technician: GO FOR IT.

Go for it? GO FOR IT? I am raving. Speechlessly raving.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

2 am and counting . . . . .

It’s 2 am and sleep remains elusive, in spite of having taken two sleeping pills.  It’s almost like I don’t want to go to sleep, there are too many thoughts chasing each other in my head. Not unpleasant ones, just everyday kind of thoughts; the kind which may appear trivial during the day but assume great importance at night. At night these thoughts matter and make sense. I have a suspicion that my subconscious welcomes them.

I have made up my mind that I won’t live longer than 80, if I get that far. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t, we have a good number of nonagenarians  in the valley, so why not octogenarians. Right now, old age doesn’t raise the same terrors as it does during a day of assorted aches and pains. Still, 80 is probably enough.

I have several wardrobes full of clothes, some of them totally unsuitable for a lady well-travelled down life's highways and byways, with a few experiences under her belt. Some of the items in the wardrobes suit different ages, lifestyles, shapes, and purposes no longer relevant to me. I even still have work clothes. A clear-out is imminent.

Still, during the years I’ll allow myself to live I shall wear clothes to suit my mood; bright and unusually colourful clothes, just a touch out of the ordinary, without causing others to point  fingers at me and snigger behind hands. I am not a beige or greige person, I must have something more suited to my personality and attitude. Actually, I no longer care what people find acceptable; a wonderful perk that comes with advancing years. I might don Mum’s fur hats and maybe even Aunt Josephine’s mink coat on very cold days.

Then there are the shoes, My daughter called me “the Imelda Marcus of Hertfordshire when we lived there, - you have to be a ripe old age to remember Imelda - when she could still bring herself to speak to me, that is, my daughter, not Imelda. I’ve never spoken with Imelda. I  have scores of  boxes of shoes, most of them hardly worn and therefore still pinching. I will take them out of their boxes, give the ones I no longer like to charity, and wear the others; at first in the house to wear them in a bit, then outside. It’s a great pity that wherever I go in Valley’s End I meet mud, soggy fields, and narrow roads bordered by deep ruts and puddles. Realistically speaking, wellies are the most suitable footwear round here, but when I die, I shall leave some really posh and expensive shoes behind. Enough to make me ask for some to be buried with me. I daresay I shall still be buying shoes when I’m in a wheelchair. I recently gave some black and gold satin shoes to Dee, my daughter-in-law.  She takes a smaller size than I do, but she loved them enough to wear them with a bit of padding.

And then there’s yoga. Several years ago I broke my leg and ankle in several places, needing the insertion of a collection of metal plates, nails and screws. Recovery took a long time and at the end of it I had a stiff ankle which would not bend in the required yoga contortions. Ever since then I have given up on yoga which was really of great benefit to me before the accident.  I must start again, somehow, either by myself or with the friendly yoga teacher who lives in the village. Because of my panicky fear of driving up steep hills and down again (only here in Valley’s End) I shall have to walk up to her house above the village, a fair climb, which I might manage after some initial difficulties. I will have to take frequent breathers and admire the view.

And blogging: I will do more of it and make new friends too. It’s such a pleasure when I put my mind to it and find something to write about. Comparing daily life with others on other continents is informative as well as fun; how else would I have got to know some of you who give me insights into your days. Besides, I enjoy writing, something else I’ve almost given up completely. So many writing projects require completion. A friend, who reads this blog, spontaneously said : You write very well, I do so enjoy your blog. You really should write more again. Somebody else asked me to write regular book reviews for a local news sheet. I’ve already turned her down.

Come to think of it, I will try and make friends elsewhere too. I have so few, in spite of many invitations to join groups. Beloved and I were talking today about loneliness; neither of us is at all capable of nurturing a friendship. I have an inkling why that is so: we are sufficient unto each other. Sadly, that may not be for very long, and the quality of our sufficiency has changed. It’s hard to keep each other stimulated after years of marriage, particularly when one of you is fading in mind and body; luckily dementia and/or Alzheimer’s are still a way off but age brings a slowing down of the faculties of even the sharpest and most agile brain that roamed the earth in company with the dinosaur. Yes, that long ago.

So here we go, friends have to be found. I shall make a very careful selection of suitably like-minded people and throw myself on their mercy. But I’ll draw the line at the Senior Citizen’s Club. And the Women’s Institute.

I actually wrote this collection of thoughts between 2 and 3 am. I’ve reread it and corrected many spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, otherwise it’s what came into my head unprompted.

Conscious thought: Isn’t the management of life easy in that state between fully awake and semi-consciousness.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Friko’s Personal Alphabet Game : L

Leaning on the window
Ledge I
Laughed at Mr. Deedpoll, a man most skilled in circumventing the
Law, and therefore my
Legal representative and
Lawyer, who had come to tell me about a
Left to me by my
Late uncle Oscar,
Last seen eating a hearty
Luncheon of
Langoustine and chips, who had died un
Loved and un

Late Uncle Oscar, he of the
Leonine mane,
Lustful disposition and
Lax morals, a true
Libertine, departed this world in his usual
Leisurely and
Luxurious manner, surrounded by
Lured to his side by filthy

Lots of
Lolly, now mine, all mine. Even his
Lifestyle had not
Lacerated his

Look here, Uncle Oscar, you did not
Labour in vain. You
Lectured me most
Laudably on
I have
Learned them well. You
Led where I will follow, through the
Lichgate of

-plate not needed,
Let your address book be my

(For non-UK readers: L-plates are compulsory for learner-drivers)