Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nearly finished

(click on pic to see a larger version)

It's not a work of art, but you're looking at my nearly completed shelving
inside one of our bedroom wardrobes. It's taken me about 2 months to do
all this, on and off. I spent 7 hours yesterday, screwing in the shelf
supports and then sawing up the three wooden shelves (and edging). I used
some wood glue, in places for additional bonding. I'm pleased to say that
all the wood used was recycled, except for the upright piece of plywood,
the middle shelf, the edging and the supports. I think the entire job
would have taken a joiner about a day and a half to do, but all the wood
would have been brand new, and the job would have cost us a few hundred
pounds. The safe was fitted by a professional, by the way ... you'd need
a JCB to remove it (that is if you were desperate to read my autobiography,
my will, and a few family history documents). :)

Which reminds me of a funny story about a neighbour's safe being burgled
... this elderly neighbour lived in a huge Edwardian detached house, next
to my parents' house in Leeds. In conversation with him one day, about
house-break-ins, he told me that some burglars had managed to steal his
safe, which weighed a ton. All that was inside it, was his golf cap.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Very busy

I’ve been very busy in the past week or so, so I’ve felt less inclined
to come onto my blogsite and send a post to you all. Sorry about that.

We’ve been seeing more of our family than usual, owing to birthday
celebrations and I suppose with various relatives feeling more sociable.
In the next few days, one of our nieces is staying with us overnight,
our daughter L and her family are coming to stay a long weekend with us,
(despite the fact that most of Saturday we’ll be up in Leeds, visiting
another of our daughters for the day), and the best part of Friday will
be taken up with child-minding our two Nottingham grandchildren. The
latter is now a weekly event … we enjoy having them both, but we feel
exhausted by the end of the day.

This week, I’m carryong on with building some shelving inside one of
our wardrobes. However, my drill chuck seized up suddenly yesterday …
the drill bit flew off and I half-fell into the wardrobe grazing my
elbows. I’ve often said that “Do it yourself” should be re-worded as
“Do yourself in”. I spent part of today, visiting a repair shop on the
other side of Nottingham, to get the power drill repaired. I carried
on with the drilling and sawing, later on this afternoon … fixing
wooden supports to the sides of the wardrobe. I’ll be doing more of
the same tomorrow.

I also fitted in a two-hour tutorial today, with a couple of U3A
members (from other U3As in our county), showing them how to build a
simple website … my third session with them.

And on Thursday, we are going to our next U3A class in Beginner’s
German, when we’ll be chatting with a German couple who are visiting
Nottingham. Our group leader is one of my friends, with whom I’ll be
playing electric guitar (jamming) next Monday morning … playing and
singing the Golden Oldies from the ‘60s onwards.

Next Wednesday, we’re flying off to Nuremburg to meet up with Mrs C’s
cousins, one of whom married his German penfriend’s sister many years
ago. This couple are now retired from work, and spend 6 months of the
year living in the UK, and the second 6 months in Germany. Mrs C’s
brother, who speaks German also, is coming with us, so we’ll be able
to practise speaking some basic German with them all.

Next up are few stories about Little A in Nottingham who has just had
her 3rd birthday. She had a temper tantrum while crossing the busy main
road outside her house last week, saying: “I want to dance in (the
middle of) the road!”. Her mum had to almost drag her across it, while
advising A. that she couldn’t dance in the road. A. replied: “Well,
I’ll save my money, and I’ll buy a road!”
When A. saw something she wanted, she said: “I’ve been waiting for one
of those all my life … and all my birthday lives!”
And then two days ago, A put her arm around her mum’s shoulders when
they were kneeling/sitting on the settee, and comforted her with these
words: “I’ll look after you, Mummy.”



(a couple of photos from my Flickr site)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Shattering news

Last Friday, I chomped on a bit of grit hidden inside some organic brocolli.
Now you might think that if you've paid a premium for buying organic veg
and fruit, that it will have been washed with water and will be free of
any grit or soil. This is often not the case. Potatoes are sometimes covered
in lots of soil, which you have to scrape or scrub off, and items like split
yellow lentils can contain grass seed and grit. I suppose this is OK if
you're a hen ... you need a bit of grit to promote good egg-laying,

Last week, our granddaughter, Little A, spotted a poly bag on our kitchen
surface, which was full of Mrs C's organic muesli. "Bird seed!", she shouted
excitedly. Well, she was almost right there.

Anyway, (please excuse my usual rambling / diversions here and there), I heard
and felt an ominous scrunch when I chomped on that bit of grit. I said to Mrs C
and my daughter L at the time, that this usually meant some damage to my
(fragile) teeth. And sure enough, I discovered with my tongue that I'd
shattered one of my teeth (my right lower premolar, to be precise)... it
felt like a huge crater in my mouth, with jagged edges at the upper rim.
One third of my tooth had disappeared.

I got an early appoitment to see my dentist, Shema, today, who told me that
I'd broken one of my porcelain crowns. She put a temporary dressing in the
gap, and asked me to come back for a new crown fitting. I won't go into
the details of all this ... you'll find out for yourself in due course,
if you haven't had one done yet. The good news is that I can have the
porcelain crown replaced on the NHS (instead of having to pay privately
for it). The bad news is that the NHS-subsidised cost is £198.

Pensioners don't receive any state help or concessions towards the cost of NHS
dental treatment, unless they are very poor (and are in receipt of extra state
benefits). So how can an average pensioner on limited means afford any
dental treatment? I think it's is scandalous, for a Labour Goverment to impose
dental charges on anyone. I can't see the Tories or the Lib-Dems improving
matters either, as regards dental care.

I think one hallmark of someone's wealth, is the state of his or her teeth.
If you see someone with numerous gaps in their teeth or the blackened remains
of them, you'll know that they're either too poor, or just too lazy or too
scared to see a dentist.

Have a look at Simon Cowell's lovely white teeth, which I reckon he's spent a
lot of money on. Well, if you've got pots of money, why not spend it? And if
you're looking great, then you feel great, don't you?

Don't you think society is becoming more polarised, with the rich getting
richer and the poor getting poorer? Is it not time for a more radical form
of socialism to come in, to bring about a fairer distribution of wealth, or
do you think we should carry on with the present capitalist system ...
rewarding the wealth-creators while tossing peanuts to the poor?

Monday, October 05, 2009

Give us this day our daily toast

… and forgive those who burn the toast and then scrape it .

For the best part of 25 years, I lived at home with my parents,
and my dad was well known for burning the toast at breakfast-time.
He’d come down in the mornings, wearing a dark red dressing gown,
unshaven but with his hair brushed neatly. On would go the
electric kettle, and then the electric toaster (or sometimes the
gas grill, when we were without a toaster). He made the tea,
warming the pot and then adding tea leaves in the usual way.
He'd then add the boiling hot water, followed by stirring the tea
and putting on a huge tea cosy (to keep the tea warm enough for
a second cup out of the pot).

Then we’d hear some loud swearing with reference to Hell or
Our Saviour, as he rescued his burning toast. All this was followed
shortly by the vigorous scraping of the said toast with a blunt
knife or the bread knife...

SCRAPE, SCRAPE, SCRAPE … into the sink.

He’d appear a short while later with the tea, toast, cups/mugs,
milk, butter and home-made marmalade … and after helping himself
to all this, or sharing it all with family/visitors, he’d settle
down to reading The Times / The Guardian for the next 15-20
minutes in silence … his head inside the newspaper. Actually, not
entirely in silence, as he'd be listening to classical music on
Radio 3. (Both my parents were literary/academic types ~ i.e snobs).

He varied his routine a little, when it came to our monthly
visits with our girls, when they were little. My parents had a
utility wooden gate-legged table (passed onto them by my mum’s
sister in the early years of their marriage), which our girls
used to hide under. He pretended not to see them when he came
down to breakfast, and feigned surprise when they all appeared
in due course. (This table outlived both my parents, but I put
it on the skip when I came to clear out the house. No-one wanted

My dad’s burning-the-toast routine became quite comical, though
I did feel annoyed at times at his incompetence when it came
to making it. In other ways, he was a perfectionist, as was my
mum … a trait which I’ve acquired, but which does not include
burning the toast.

I just hate burnt toast. :)

What reminded me of all this is that we’ve had another electric
toaster conk out on us. This was a German make, which we’d bought,
as a succession of British-made labelled ones didn’t last
very long. The German one has lasted us 2-3 years, and its demise
was most likely due to some people (including myself) prising out
stuck pieces of toast with knives. So this toaster had been been
badly abused.

With Mrs C’s agreement, I hope to get one of these to replace it
with … one of the bigger Dualit toasters which has had some good
reviews. John Lewis offers a five-year guarantee, which I think
would be worth having. Also our Nottingham branch of John Lewis
is happy to replace/refund items we’ve bought online with them,
so I think JL outclasses other online companies which don’t have
high street shops.

I hope we’ll be having some lovely hot buttered toast later this
week, with some Frank Cooper’s fine-cut marmalade on it … yum, yum.

Mmmmm ... heavenly toast.