Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Stan the Man

Meet Stan the Man from the U.S. of A.
who has come to stay.
We suggested a little trip to Central London
and asked him what he wanted to see

Nothing too boring, dudes, 'kay?

The weather, it is not Cool.
It is wet, wet, wet.

This is SO not fair.

Houses of Parliament,
Big Ben,
yeah, yeah,

Trafalgar Square!
What's with all these buses?

Check out this chick!

Getting the Kultur-Kick in theatre land.

Piccadilly Circus?
What's the fuss?
Times Square is way bigger.

Laying down the bones** for souvenirs.

Thanks to my main man, MrM, for holding my hand
and Hi to my Homies,
Big Lad and Little Lad.

**noun: money
(MissM says this may be a useage specific to MasterM)

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The New Arrival

"What is this?"
says MrM,

MrsM sighs.

MissM who is completely simpatico
(and has heard MrM complaining about the flowery china)

"It is The Man-Mug".

Sunday, 28 March 2010

A life lived

I would like to record my shock
at the news of the untimely death of
Elspeth Thompson
and my gratitude for
her inspirational writing
and beautiful photography.

Lunch on Saturday

For the first time in three weeks
I was well enough
to go to to the supermarket
on Saturday morning.

Fresh oranges for the fruit bowl!

Bread from the bakery!

Ripe brie and tomatoes!

Spring Flowers!

It was worth going to bed at 7.30 on Friday evening.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Life at full tilt

The Skype screen flashes on.
MasterM has Assorted Friends with him.

Say Hi to my Mum!
Assorted Friends peer into screen
Hi MrsM! Nice to meet you!
They leave the room.

Did you have a good half term?
Yes - it was great.
We played golf in Johannesburg.
Look! Here are my new golf clubs!

We admire the new golf clubs.

And then I went to stay with a friend on a farm
and we went tracking in the bush.
I just got told that there was a leopard
in the exact same spot this weekend.

MrsM tries not to think about this.

There is a knock at the door...
MasterM to person offscreen
I am just "praating mit di rellies".

How is the training for the Two Oceans going?
My friend broke his toe.
I am pretty annoyed about that
but it is fine because I will run with another friend.

Are you managing to get your laundry done?
Oh! Don't worry about that!
I have discovered that I can pay someone to do it.

MasterM demonstrates laundry basket
Someone is going to be busy in the near future.

There are noises in the corridor
Anyways - I had better go,
it is getting a bit festive outside.
I am going out for a while
and then I have to revise for my test tomorrow

MrsM blows her son a kiss
and sits on her sofa wondering
if there are more hours in the day
in South Africa

Thursday, 25 March 2010

I did not see the iris move...

Iris xiphium
Pierre-Joseph Redouté

...This was the sequence of the flower:
First the leaf from which the bud would swell,
No prison, but a cell,
A rolled rainbow;
Then the sheath that enclosed the blow
Pale and close
Giving no hint of the blaze within,
A tender skin with violet vein.
Then the first unfurling petal
As if a hand that held a jewel
Curled back a finger, let the light wink
Narrowly through the chink,
Or like the rays before sunrise
Promising glory.

And while my back is turned, the flower has blown.
Impossible to tell
How this opulent blossom from that spick bud has grown.
The chrysalis curled tight,
The flower poised for flight -
Corolla with lolling porphyry wings
And yellow tiger markings
A chasing-place for shade and light:
Between these two, the explosion
Soundless, with no duration
(I did not see the iris move,
I did not feel my love unfurl.)
The most tremendous change takes place in silence,
Unseen, however you mark the sequence,
Unheard, whatever the din of exploding stars.

Extract from:
A Matter of Life and Death

Anne Ridler (1959)


I found this in a slim book
on the shelves of my favourite bookshop.

Anne Ridler (1912 - 2001) came from a literary family
and married Vivian Ridler, publisher.
She was a friend of C.S. Lewis and influenced by T.S. Eliot
with whom she worked at Faber and Faber.

She is not a well known poet today
but the subdued elegance of her writing appeals to me
and gives me much to think about.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The Dress

Here is my beautiful MissM in The Dress.

The photo was taken for this blog
by her friend, the talented MissI,
who is surely destined for a career
as a professional photographer.

MissM is very clear about her personal style.
She has invested a lot of time
thinking about clothes, trying them on in shops,
looking at what works for other people,
experimenting with new shapes and colours.

I have been part of this but so have her friends
who share clothes and make helpful suggestions.

It has always been fun to go shopping with MissM
and I think that it has been time well spent.
I wish I had that shining confidence at her age.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

a brown paper parcel

"the badges are made from original Girl comics from the 1950s"

"I was so impressed by [MissM]
having recourse to not one but two cobblers..."

"MasterM can be all too readily pictured
piloting himself to remote mountain regions..."

"I hope you don't feel shortchanged
by having to share a badge with MrM
but he does seem to be
a vital component of your blog..."

I was immensely touched by this gift
which was so beautifully packaged
and captured in three small badges
the creativity and generosity of bloggers
and the essence of my family.

Thank you, Lucille.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Tea from China

The visitor from China was an important man
(his factory processes thousands of chickens a day)
and so his gift was received with appropriate courtesy.

The Head of Department,
who only drinks coffee,
passed the tin to MrsM,
who only drinks teabag tea.
(It is her shameful secret.)

MrsM carefully opened the silvery sachet
and warmed the pot
and chose a suitable Chinese tea cup
from her large collection.

After taking a tiny, tiny sip
she took it to MrM
(who was relaxing watching Rugby)
and explained how rare and valuable it was
and sat with him while he drank it.

All the time MrsM was wondering
if it was rare green tea,
Chinese seaweed
or chrysanthemum leaves.

because she felt
a tiny, tiny bit guilty
she made MrM a lovely mug of teabag tea.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Agenda for Change

The Blue Door
Harold Harvey, 1931

MrsM decides that it is time
she sat down with her blog pals
and had a chat.

MrsM welcomes Bernice, Liz, Jane,
and all the other quiet readers
who have joined in recently.
It is so good to meet you.
(Breadbox...the comma is for you)

Apologies for Absence
MrsM apologises for her recent absence.
The apparent presence created by regular posting
should not be confused with actual presence.
MrsM has been AWOL recently
but just as the blogging wagon rolled out of her reach
she gripped the tail gate and managed to hold on.

Human Resources
MrsM announces that the number of days
lost to sickness was more this month
than in the previous two years.
You don't want to be getting norovirus, folks.

MrsM has not been eating much recently
but there are cake cases to share
so there will be a short intermission
in the schedule of worthy but dull posts
about punctuation and chimney brushes.

MrsM accepts that
her reading of other blogs has been limited
but rejects the accusation that it has been woeful.
She has implemented a plan of action
to ensure that she clears her inbox.

On a serious note,
I was distressed to realise that my friends
Sarah and Susan
have had bad news while I have been absent.
Please keep them in your hearts.

Future Plans
MrsM notes the interesting comment by Magsmcc
"there has been a shift in your blog,
and you are fermenting"

MrsM has tried to imagine herself fermenting
but is not sure if it is a positive image.
However, MrsM accepts that there may be a shift...
now that MasterM is half a world away
she has to find other things to obsess over.

Any Other Business
MrsM cannot promise that
every lovely, much appreciated comment
will be replied to
but it certainly makes it easier for her
if your profile has an email address.

that is the formal business out of the way,
tea anyone?

Saturday, 20 March 2010

a different perspective

MrsM thanks her friends
who expressed concern about her safety
on the edge of the cliff
and would like to reassure them
that there was plenty of gorse
between her and imminent disaster.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Crackington Haven

The problem with working in the Department
is that MrsM has become aware of...
the possibilities.

She does not worry about
or tsunamis...

standing on the edge of the cliff,
she finds herself thinking about
coastal erosion.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

MrsM remembers...

...that when she started blogging
she vowed NEVER to do a post on punctuation.

will somebody please rescue me
from the Punctuation Posse.

Insiders v. Outsiders

Please check the proof copy of your exam paper
and sign against your name.

Awkward pause

Junior Lecturer
I am afraid that there are mistakes.

MrsM is genuinely shocked.

Junior Lecturer
The full stop should be INSIDE the quotation marks.

MrsM is aghast

The Examinations Officer has specified
that it should be OUTSIDE the quotation marks.

Junior Lecturer
Well, he is wrong.

MrsM’s eyes grow as large as saucers.
Nobody EVER questions the Examinations Officer
and especially his opinion on punctuation.

He has stipulated that the full stops
should be outside the quotation marks
and he feels very strongly about it.

Junior Lecturer
Well, I feel VERY strongly about it too.
I have researched this issue in great detail.

I think this conversation is moving above my pay-grade…

MrsM goes to see her friend,
the Deputy Examinations Officer,
and asks his advice.
They decide that there is only one answer:
a joust in the long corridor outside the offices.
The Deputy Examinations Officer
suggests that T Shirts are made available
so that staff can indicate if they are
Insiders or Outsiders.

Just another thing to organise...

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A Most Elegant Soirée

MrsM and her companion, Lucille,
have invitations to the most select of soirées.
They have come to hear
the Celebrated Authoress, Amanda Vickery,
talk about her new book in the elegant surroundings
of Sir John Soane's house in Lincoln's Inn Fields.

Firstly, there are drinks in the Yellow Drawing Room
MrsM and Lucille cannot help admiring their fellow guests
and commenting on the charming young man
in the rainbow-coloured patchwork leather suit.

Next, they must sit on exquisite red chairs with gold legs
in the Library with walls of Pompeiian Red
and listen to Amanda Vickery,
incandescent in flamboyant red drapery.
She is the most vivacious and confident of performers
with teasing extracts from her research
including mentions of Anthony Trollope
who was apparently directionless as a young man.
How fortunate we are that he left such a detailed journal
to inform our knowledge of the life of a Georgian bachelor.

Afterwards, MrsM and Lucille explore the house
which is illuminated with hundreds of candles,
reflecting off mirrors and polished wood
and flickering in the most enchanting manner
around the myriad sculptures.

Such a magical evening.

MrsM smiles all the way home,
thinking of the pleasure of meeting Lucille for the first time
and clutching her autographed copy of
Behind Closed Doors.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Shopping with MissM

MissM has to buy a dress.
Not any old dress but The Dress.
It is for a Special Party
and she knows that The Dress is out there.

It is a search and destroy mission.

We work methodically through the expensive brands:
'old lady clothes'
'too structured'
'too much frillage'

We look at the edgy brands
and try and work out
which side is up
and which side is out.
'weird Japanese nightdresses'
'scary Irish pixie look'
'beam me up, Scotty'

The Dress is not there.

We come out of the expensive Department Store
and turn left into the high street.
There are only 20 shops to check out
but we are working to a tight schedule.
We must track down The Dress
before MrM finishes reading the papers in the coffee shop.

The Dress is on the last rail
of the top floor of the first shop
and as soon as she puts it on she smiles.
And so does MrsM
because MissM is irresistible
in The Dress for the Special Party.

(The whole process has taken an hour and a half.)

Monday, 15 March 2010

Flowers from MrM

On Saturday morning
MrM said to his favourite florist

"I want to buy some flowers for my wife...
she needs cheering up*"

MrsM has received flowers for all sorts of reasons
but she can now reliably inform you that
'Pity Flowers'
(as MissM refers to them)
are the most appreciated of all.


*We are talking Norovirus, folks.

Which resulted in the necessary cancellation
of a much anticipated meeting with blog friends.


Friday, 12 March 2010

the little magpie

Don't you just love this little magpie?

Lynn sent it to me and everything about it
was so carefully chosen to make me smile.
The paper, the ribbon and the gift card.

I fell in love with this little bird
and took him to work
so that his little beady eye
could see the world that I live in there.
But I could not find a place for him to sit;
he looked diminished among the paper clips,
ring binders and wire trays.
So I took him home again
and he sits on the kitchen windowsill
happily watching the bustle of family life.


Recently, my blog became common knowledge in the Department. This was partly because I became uncomfortable that I was writing about colleagues without their knowledge but also because I knew there was a chance that it might be discovered accidentally and I decided that I would prefer to control the release of the information. I created a separate blog which is an album of all the work related posts and I spoke to each of the colleagues who might be able to recognise themselves. They were amused and, fortunately, very generous about my writing.

I am glad that I am confident enough to discuss my writing at work but I hope that the novelty has passed now. The little magpie can sit on the windowsill at home and wait for me to return in the evening.

And that is how it should be.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

My Roving Reporter

The Professor who lectures about hand axes
came in to my office with a gleam in his eye.

"Alice, I have two blog-worthy moments to report..."

"I walked into Piccadilly on my way to an important meeting
and it was absolutely thronging with police!
and police vans!
and flashing lights!
There had been a smash-and-grab raid
in broad daylight
at the Queen's jewellers, Mappin and Webb,
and I was there!
And right in the middle of all the incident tape
I could see the very sledgehammer
that was used to smash the window!

I am very impressed.

"And the other blog-worthy moment?"

Regretfully, I can only allude to the details
because they would give away
Too Much Personal Information.
Let us just say that
a particularly lovely celebrity
had the opportunity to chat to the Professor
on the train into London.

I bet that she smiled all day.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


My parents stand in the sunlit spaces and say
they have never seen so many snowdrops.
There are frosted drifts by the orchard gate,
in shaded woody places and on green banks
Each opal bloom luminous.


Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
what despair is; then
winter should have meaning for you.

I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn't expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring--

afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy

in the raw wind of the new world.

Louise Glück

for a dear friend
whose gray elegance
reminds me of snowdrops

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Shopping with MrM

MrM needs new Wellington boots
so MrsM takes MrM to the farm supply shop
which sells rat-traps, hen food, boilersuits
and everything in between.

MrsM finds the pair of boots
that are exactly
the right size
the right style
and then leaves MrM to decide.

MrsM knows it could be a little while
and so she goes back to the car
and gets her camera.

There are brushes to photograph!

Brown brushes, blue brushes,
big and little brushes
brushes for chimneys
and brushes for farmyards.

In the background MrM is opening boxes
and trying on different styles
and asking the assistant to check the storeroom.

Eventually, just as MrsM is trying to decide
whether to start photographing beans or tweed caps,
MrM comes to find her.
He has decided to buy the original pair of boots.