Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas at last!

After a very cold day in town for last minute shopping, we're glad to be back in the warmth. Everything is cosy and we're getting excited. Miracle on 43rd Street rocks! So does Helen Mirren in 'The Queen'. Two virtual back to back films is a first, for me. Feeling totally relaxed as I go into 'A Christmas Carol'

Happy Christmas everyone!

See you all soon.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Speed Awareness Course

After a turn-for -the-worse grotty weather drive to a place I've never been or will want to return to, I found myself sitting- alcohol anonymous style- with 15 other offenders, some of whom I perceived as guarded, offended, resigned, terse, cold, loose and warm. We were thrown together here at the speed awareness course, courtesy of our breaking the speed limit a month or two back. We were as a gathering of unwilling jurors at our own trial.

We were a good mix of young and old as well as differing in shape, sex, colour, opinion and attitude.

I found it hilarious to be each made to share the circumstance of our offence...and the speed we were clocked.

In the end we all agreed that our justifications for extra speed were only excuses. We were guilty! The offended became enlightened and softened, and soon there was a warmth and good spirit in evidence. We'd come to terms with and were at one with officialdom. It was a fair cop! Even the impeccable man in his personalised number plated jaguar, lost his arrogance and distance. I swear it was good material for a sustainable comedy series.

There was a good deal of healthy interaction. It was good. We all wore bold christian name tags and, once everyone became fully aware I was to be called Ken and not Kenneth, the presentations, discussions and videos commenced and the barriers and defences dropped.

I left, four hours later, wishing them all to be on my Christmas card list.

The only unnerving experience was regarding the official visitor who was tucked away in the corner silently taking notes. I caught her on many occasions glaring at me.  I'm sure she wasn't staring at others with the same insane intensity.  I thought perhaps it was the frequency in which I attempted to inject humour into the proceedings. Whatever it was, it resulted in her looking positively rabid at times. She soon became the only exception to inclusion in my new-found goodwill demeanour and circle of inmate friends.

We were freed at lunch-time clutching a duly signed certificate of course completion. With a shake of hands and a throwing of my name tag onto the desk, I left to practice my new understanding and awareness of speed as I climbed into my little Yaris and followed the Jaguar out of the car park and into the Lincolnshire murky, freezing sleet and rain.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Florence Asher

Simple living, down to earth, honest, straight-talking, reliable, grateful, happy, humble, faithful, friendly, intelligent, caring, thoughtful and strong.

Most of the world didn't know you, but we certainly did and are the better for it.

We'll miss you, Florrie. Rest in deserve it!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Strong (week) dreams.

I've been busy chasing my dreams this week and in the process I've had a few.

Last night, my daughter was trying to kill me. As much as I tried to hide, she'd find me. Fortunately, a youngster just happened to be passing the willow tree that I was being dragged from and, as casual as you like, pulled a gun that was tucked in his belt, pointed it at Juli and asked her to stop. In the confusion, I made another get-away and the youngster went on his way eating a sandwich. She kept turning up though and I kept escaping by the skin of my teeth. I'm tired of running! What have I done (or about to do)? Whatever it is, I'm sorry for past, present or future, Juli!

I'm so glad she lives over 100 miles away.

JS Bach gate-crashed my subconscious and invaded my life around 2:00am on Tuesday and was as real as real can be...even realer!! He was a she, young and wacky. She confided in me the secret of of her youth. Eating grass! She had a mouth crammed full of  the most succulent green shoots and could hardly speak without it all falling all over the pillow. I didn't really feel like chewing the cud. I needed sleep.

I'm going to resist taking a peak at 'Interpretation of Dreams', a book that remains unloved and unused by me on one of our shelves...I'll consult Bev instead cos I know she's read it. For good measure she'll probably tie it in with what my stars have said for the week.

It's only a dream...there's no Hahn in it :)
My other dreams (in waking hours)...sorting out my art website and moving closer to being a starving artist.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Because it's unusual

I've decided to show a picture of the stuff, seeing as it's so unusual for this time of year.

We've had an extra 5" since ...and one snowball fight.

Bev phoned me at 6:45am as she crossed the field to remind me to wear wellies. Later, she told me that she wrote 'I love you' in the snow but I was too busy taking photos to see it when I crossed an hour later (I wonder if that's it on the right?) I looked back after I crossed the field to the realisation that I don't walk in straight lines.
Rox, Kirsty, Leigh and Tara checking out the internet while I pretend to work. It's lovely and warm inside.
Snowing again next morning...
On Thursday I decided to walk to town along the river (and over that foot bridge to walk along the other side). People I met are so friendly and happy even though it's absolutely freezing.
The castle grounds looked nice. My fingers were now virtually frostbitten trying to carry art materials back from town.
All snow has been cleared in the market square now...

Bev is in town right now with her mother while I take the sensible option of eating chocolate, blogging and generally keeping cosy.

I think she is expecting me to insulate the outside tap. I'd better do that before she gets back...she'll be so impressed.

Monday, November 29, 2010

In the name of art...and possibly science.

Something I read on a long lonely evening while in France last week turned my thoughts toward my mortal search for a maggot-free death experience. As you may know, I abhor the thought of the little critters having a ball at my expense.

This is intended as a tongue in cheek post, but I feel it may swing towards the macabre if I'm not careful.

The headline was entitled 'Life and afterlife of a woman who will live forever'.

The article was about Henrietta Lacks who died of cancer a year before I was born. Her cells have been used to a remarkable degree world-wide (without her permission) and, although millions have been made  and cell biology revolutionised because of her, her family remain impoverished and she is buried in an unmarked grave. It's a story of both triumph and tragedy.

Well worth considering, I thought. Divide and conquer I say! Better as a gift to science in various bottles, vaults, tubes and slices with foreknowledge, than as a stationary defenceless target for tomb raiders from within.  Would I be considered a valuable gift, I mused? I was never a great catch in life, so what will change after it?

My thoughts then drifted back to 1994 to a worthy second option.  As a gallery owner at the time (more picture framing than gallery), I had tickets every year for the NEC Spring Fair in Birmingham. It was the year that I bumped into the eccentric artist Robert Lenkiewicz.

The painter collected such thing being a tramp that he had had embalmed (with his permission) after his death.

Diogenes, as he was aptly named, was hidden in the artists studio and was discovered in a drawer after the artist died in 2002.

So, two more choices. Do I die in the name of art or science?

I don't really think my kids would appreciate my stuffed, lifeless carcass standing in some corner or in a cupboard to be brought out and dusted down at family gatherings.

I am tempted by the science option though. There will be no charge and I'm not looking for royalties. It'll be a one-off, time-sensitive special offer (this week only) while the ground is too hard and snow-clad to dig a grave. Any takers?

Henrietta Lacks

Note: Although my 'best before' date has long since expired, I am in perfect health and have no expectation of expiration in the near future.

Read more about Robert Lenkiewicz...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

And I WAS fine...

I did have a dodgy moment, but just the one. I find that whenever I work too hard, a nightmare comes a visiting.

I finished the sequel to THE ROAD TO NAB END...
Eileen didn't think it was as good as the first, but I enjoyed putting my feet up in front of a roaring fire after a hard day of work and a good meal. I read up till midnight one evening, but with no one to tell me off, I found it very easy to carry on. I even turned the music up to the limit late one night and had a dance and sing song all to myself. I found out two days later that our neighbour who lives several hundred yards away had crept up to the house and peered through the slats of the blinds fearing squatters had broken in, but was relieved to see it was me. I hope I wasn't dancing at the time. She had apparently told her mother who in turn told her friend. I had a meal with that friend who then told me all about it. It's nice to know someone is keeping an eye out for the place.

Anyway, Woodruff is certainly readable considering he is a world historian.  He has achieved such a lot given the disadvantages of his early life.

It's nice to be back (I think!)

I'll be posting a few photos on my Brittany blog soon.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I'll be fine

Lots of things going through my mind why I'm not angry with the mother who put her baby in the washing machine along with the wash-load, but angry with benefit cheats.

I'm shocked, of course; the details are harrowing, but I get the impression she was totally unaware and was probably spaced out...which begs the question of who was responsible for monitoring her, or allowing custody in the first place. It seems there are similar problems with social services both sides of the Atlantic.

I'm off to France tomorrow and I've just checked my passport. Why does it have my best friend's photograph and name in it?

Spurs play Sunderland tonight. Keith Eckstein is an avid Spurs fan and he's invited me for a drink in Josselin this week. He likes a good drink and I never touch the stuff, but I'm looking forward to a good chat with him (the first time I've met a fellow blogger). Should I fear for my life if we win tonight?

Can't get through to Gary...he's picking me up from the airport. Should I start worrying.

Ah! Eileen just rang to say Gary is house-sitting and has just contacted her to find out if I'm still coming. All is well! He even has some groceries ready for me.

Must remember to swap passports on the way to the airport.

Weather outlook...rain, rain, rain and I'm going to finish the outside store.

I'll be all alone with no TV, radio or internet access. No landline phone either. It will be cold and it will get dark early. The nights will be long and lonely and I'm certain there will be lots of creaks and imaginings in the small hours. I'm thinking of the ghosts at Willow Manor right now. Hope I don't have nightmares (I usually do, but Bev is always there to ease me out of them) Not this time though.

Good job I have a long list of jobs, both inside and out...along with a good book, a roaring fire, some good CD's and my iPod...and lots of Christmas cards to write.

I'll be fine!

Sunday, November 07, 2010


Yesterday was our late bonfire early thanksgiving family get-together over in Mansfield. It was a whole day affair which started with a walk for some of us.

Serene and Spencer...
 Photo-shoot with Amber...
 Crunching knuckles with Emm...
 Admiring their kids...
 Austin being the rebel...
 Emmaleigh being artistic...
Just finished watching 'Cars' with the kids...I loved it and was virtually left on my own for the ending as they've all seen it dozens of times before (I've only seen it three times). It's much better than rugby.
Over twenty at the table...passing babies over as well as dishes and drinks. Lots of conversation and news updates. Plans for Christmas.
Reflection of the bonfire...we just had the firework display which was absolutely brilliant. We've left Ash and Emm talking over a cup of hot chocolate by the fire. I don't think she wanted to be with the kids (she's growing up, don't you know?)

It was so nice to have the family together again. Everyone worked so hard...not least Amber.

I'm reflecting on how thankful we are.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Show of Hands...a special birthday treat for Bev

Show of Hands decided to have concerts for part of this year in cathedrals and amongst spires and beams. Normally they would sell out the Royal Albert  Hall but they came to Southwell last night. It was a real treat. I love live  music and it doesn't get much better than this...especially when you get to see the whites of their eyes as they perform. It's an additional bonus to talk to them and have them sign their latest releases.

We arrived early and approached the main entrance through the graveyard. We've never been to Southwell Minster even though it's just out the back of us...incredible place. 

The concert was a sell-out of about a thousand and guess who was amongst the first to choose a seat?

We last saw them in a theatre in Leicester, but this was something different and we were two rows from the stage.

Perfect acoustics and atmosphere. Kings and powerful cardinals often prayed here...they should have stuck around for the entertainment. The air was crammed with incredible sounds and we were wrapped in it all. The stage was directly underneath the crucifix...

 Special guest Jackie Oates signing her CD for me (yes, it's my grubby little hand).

 And Miranda...
 And Phil and Steve...
Have a listen...

You must also check out Roots and then Arrogance Ignorance and Greed on YouTube above. Don't get lost in the rubbish amateur recordings...the reproduction of music is abysmal. 

It was a brilliant night.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Another good read

Extraordinary is the word. In fact, it was so good that Eileen wrote her name in it before lending it to me to ensure she gets it back.

Books like this need to be written.

I'm looking forward to reading the sequel.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Great British Ball... a few pics.

It was a ball, but not too formal. Instead of a grand buffet, we opted for cakes, sweets, nuts and nibbles as we figured most people will have already eaten. We planned for variety to keep the interest of people as they arrived by celebrating all things British. 

First things first. We needed to create the right atmosphere for people to have a good time.

Our blank canvas...

So far, so good...
Time for bows...
The left hand side holding the drapes collapsed just as we finished it all, but with minutes to spare before people arrived, it was all completed...again! This view is showing the food at the back of the hall.
Corridor...soon to be very difficult to get through.
British comics...
 British manufacture, film, sporting greats and landmarks...The hot plate will keep the punch nice and hot.
Guess which British nation isn't represented in the Union Jack?

Time to sign in...I greeted most people wearing a black gangster hat trimmed with mini union jack flags, red bow-tie and matching braces. Instead of cuff-links I tied red ribbon into a bow...or at least my son did and I couldn't do anything about it.

Checking the British film clips and adverts from the past fifty years to show in the reception area as they relax and drink their hot punch after photographs...we wouldn't let them into the hall until 8pm.
I guess it's ok! This area ended up jam-packed in no time at all. I was so busy after this shot that I could only find time for a few shots.
 Photographs of couples, families and individuals...Nigel was very busy.
This is a view from the stage looking onto the dance floor. We reverse projected the photographs onto the big screen as they danced. Ash (just visible) played the best of British music from the 60's onwards (as well as trad for waltzes and foxtrots etc! We even squeezed in two organised barn dances before the finale. I think every dance style was available.
Bringing the food out and ready to cut into slices. It wasn't very healthy...pick'n'mix sweets and a good selection of pies, flans and cake (other than a bit of fruit)
The fairy cakes were all made by, white and blue, of course.
The 2nd big screen projected stills of everything British from the past.
The grand finale...the proms from the Royal Albert Hall and everyone singing their hearts out, waving flags and feeling patriotic.
It was pretty good! A fantastic atmosphere! We printed the words for Land of Hope and Glory,Jerusalem and Rule Britannia because, as we all know, true Brits never know all the words.

Everyone pitched in to clear up and the place was soon just like the opening photograph. It was a nice gesture knowing that we would still be there if it was left to the two of us.

Thanks to the clocks going back an hour, we managed to get to bed just before midnight.

Verdict: Absolutely brilliant! A night to remember.