Friday, 27 August 2010

A week in the country

We are escaping for a while
to the peace and quiet of the cottage.
Nothing is planned
and that is just about as much
as I can cope with.
I am running on empty.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

O Blogging, how do I love thee?

let me count the ways...

You have brought me friends
from North and South, East and West

Who will turn up on a wet Monday morning
just to make me smile
(I am not counting the people who said it was sunny)
And chat amongst themselves
about carrot cake on Tuesday
(Ali, Winner of the Best Comment Award, by Public Acclaim)

And take the time to write
wonderful messages for MissM...
Thank you SO much, you lovely people!

Through you I can share in the joy of a new mother

And the bravery of a woman that I have never met

And the extraordinary creativity of a gifted friend.

I can go on holiday, vicariously,
to Pragurkreece

And enjoy coming home

Or maybe just chill with my homies.

You have allowed me to indulge my secret passions
for writing in groups of twelve,
centrally justified text.
and starting sentences with conjunctions.

And given me an excuse to photograph
my mad collections of blue and white china,
peonies and weird, wobbly people.

I write about my family, my work,
my home, my holidays,
my loves and hates,
my successes and failures.

Little by little, day by day,
I write a history of my life.

(Is that enough, Lucille?)


I am afraid that I don't have details of the artist
for the picture used to illustrate this post.
I would be very grateful for any information.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Carrot Cake

It is deadline time for the postgraduate students.
I am worried about them.
They are working all hours
and eating spaghetti out of tins.
I think that they need more vegetables.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Still Falls The Rain

I am suffering from an acute attack of
Soggy Brain Syndrome.
The only known cure is sunshine.
I hope to be on the mend by tomorrow
but the weather forecast is not promising.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

MrsM struggles with her conscience

Self Portrait with Julie
Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755 - 1842)

MissM flies to Dubai today
to spend time with the Sassy MissS.

MrsM is missing her already
and they haven't even got to the airport.

MrsM loves having MissM at home.
She enjoys the benefits of
a live-in style consultant,
in-depth reviews of actors' careers,
freshly baked caramel shortbread,
and the sparkiest conversation.

The good news is that MissM is having a Gap Year.
MrsM is going make the most of every minute
and she may even permit MissM to travel occasionally...
provided that she schedules her return
before the caramel shortbread runs out.

Friday, 20 August 2010

A Truly Happy Ending

East of the Sun and West of the Moon
Kay Nielsen

MissM, connoisseur of fairy stories,
has received her starry exam results
and will be reading English at university
and the Charming MasterN
has received equally starry results
and will be reading Geography at university.

All the hard work is forgotten
and tonight we will be celebrating.

Thursday, 19 August 2010


over the past six months
I have discovered that
it is permissible
to have fun

did I ever know this?

perhaps I forgot it
somewhere along the way

maybe nobody explained it
in the first place

it feels as though
it has taken me
a lifetime to learn
what is almost certainly
perfectly obvious
to you

Tuesday, 17 August 2010


Miss Matilda Clevland
Johann Zoffany (1733-1810)

MrsM, it is time for your mid-term review.
Can you give me a summary of your achievements
over the past six months?

I refreshed my spice and herb collection.

This is about you, the person.

I have tried to eat one portion of fruit a day.

I had personal development in mind.
Let's think about the positive steps that you have made.

I have sampled a mojito.
I changed my hairdresser.
I bought black patent wedges from Hobbs.
My new nail polish is called Urban Trash
I have Sleigh Bells on my playlist.

I can see that you are making a real effort
although I am not sure that last one is a positive step forward.

Is there anything which is acting a mental barrier?

The ironing.
Especially the secondary pile which is waiting
for when I finish the primary pile.

What are your objectives for the next six months?

Change my gym time from first thing in the morning
when the medical referral posse works out.
Buy grey merino wrap dress.
Or maybe teal.
Review options for change of handbag.
Consult with Sue, the Chanel Lady
to identify the hot lipstick shades for autumn.
Relocate books from staircase.

I think that the last item is a longer term project
which should be considered under Health and Safety
rather than Personal Development.

Thank you for your time.
We will meet again in six months time
to consider the spiritual and emotional challenges
that you are facing as an Empty Nester.

Errr...that could be rather a short conversation...
can we talk about my plans
to refurbish the bathroom instead?

The Blind Date

MasterM tells us that it is a tradition
to go to the House Dance with a blind date
arranged by your friends.

MrsM and MissM can hardly contain their curiousity.

What was she like?
She is very pretty.
Did you buy her flowers?
Of course I bought her flowers...
but I am telling you I spent SO much money.
It wasn't just the flowers...
I had to buy the pre-drinks...
beer for the guys
and champagne for the girls.
And I had to buy glasses!

Champagne glasses?

Yes...I couldn't expect them to drink champagne
out of my Protein Shake flask.

MrsM sighs.
She has nothing left to teach her son.
Her work is done.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Intra-House Rivalry

MrM and MrsM have a small competition going on...
it is quite simple...
how long does it take to cycle 2 miles?

MrM takes it very seriously.

So...what was your time?

6 minutes and 12 seconds.

Well done!
I expect you want to know how long it took me.
5 minutes and 55 seconds.

MrsM does not lose gracefully.

Which leg were you using?

What do you mean? I use both legs.

Oh...I have moved onto one leg.

You can't be serious!

Oh yes...MasterM suggested it..
it is something that he learned in the school gym...
it is a good way to increase your effort.

I would never have thought of that.

Of have to use alternate legs
otherwise you would end up
with asymmetric muscle development.


MrsM wishes she could have been a fly on the wall
when MrM tried this out in the gym.


this post is going up
after MrM leaves for work

so that he has all day to calm down.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

My Mother's Fruit Cake

This is the cake of my childhood.
The recipe is in ounces and gills
and it is always wrapped in greaseproof paper.
The smell of it reminds me of picnics on the beach
or perhaps a late afternoon in a boat;
rugs and wellies at point-to-points
or sheltering under rocks on the moor.
When I asked my mother for the recipe
she said, without thinking,
"just sling it all together"

Friday, 13 August 2010

Inside the Cave

The excavation is hidden among dense woods
on the steep side of a Somerset gorge.

You walk down the narrowest of paths,
being careful not to trip on tree roots,
and find the cave sheltered with blue tarpaulin.

There are six people working in the cave
removing breccia from the walls and floor
which is coarsely filtered
and then stored for fine sieving in the laboratory.

In the first year they found very little
because they were working
at the surface in the modern deposits.

Four years later,
the excavations are revealing evidence of animals
that lived in this gorge after the last Ice Age.

Yesterday they found this reindeer bone
which has been gnawed by a wolf.
If you look carefully you can see
the puncture marks from the canine teeth.

It is really exciting to imagine
what might be in the lower layers of the cave:
woolly rhino, woolly mammoth
or even evidence of Neanderthal occupation.

It made me wish that I had studied Geography.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

MrsM goes wild

"Emily Anderson: Little Red Riding Hood"
Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830)

MrsM is stepping out of the Department
into the Big Wide World for the day.
She is visiting an excavation!
She is very excited!

How fortunate that she has walking boots...

Her basket* will be filled to the brim
with fruit cake and flapjacks
because it is hungry work excavating...
especially if you are looking for wolves.

*I'm not going to lie..
it is a Berghaus day sack.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

War on Waste

Oh dear...
nobody wants the Framboise Ganache...

Don't worry,
the Charming MasterN will eat them.

How do you know?

He will eat anything.

In fact - now I come to think of it
he will be really useful at Christmas
because he can eat all the strawberry creams
in the Quality Street tin.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Multiple Choice

Benedict Cumberbatch is irresistible

(a) he knots his scarf just so
(b) he goes everywhere by taxi
(c) he always answers his mobile phone

(d) the coat (MissM suggested that one)
(e) he has incredibly long legs
(f) he knows a thing or two about china

(g) he says "I'd be lost without my Blogger"

Or all of the above...

Monday, 9 August 2010

learning to knit

she found it at the back of a cupboard.
all the frustration, concentration and triumph
is still tangled up with the yarn.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Objective: Office Improvement

The Front Office is looking cluttered
and the summer is the time to make changes.
I discuss it with my team of lovely ladies.

We agree that desks must be moved,
shelves must be tidied,
cupboards must be emptied
paperwork must be organised.

And we agree that the pictures of Daniel Craig
must be refreshed and enhanced
and so my lovely ladies take time
to choose a suitable selection for a montage.

They ask if Daniel in Speedos is acceptable
and I say:
'Of course it is acceptable...
it is a defining image of our generation
and it is vital to have
up-to-date cultural references

in an academic environment.'

Objective completed.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Selective Memory

MissM is reorganising her room.

I think I might move my bed under the window.
It will create more space.

What a good idea!
I wonder why I never thought of that?

It WAS under the window a long time ago.

How extraordinary - I had completely forgotten!
Did I move it to stop MasterM
from climbing out of the window?

it was to stop me
jumping off the sink
onto the bed.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


Words roll free from a tongue sometime
From a sometime, tongue-tied tongue,
Words that were heard by the stream and the bird
When the world and the wild were young,
When the world and the wild were young, sometime…
(Larkspur, marigold, ebony, lime) .

Sounds that were born in sweet young breath
In a bubble-sighed, trouble-tried time,
Sounds that were found by a child at the breast
In a bubble-tried pantomime,
In a bubble-tried pantomime, no less…
(Nightshade, cinnamon, green watercress) .

Love is the sound of a word, soft-said
From the lips of the love you too,
Love is the dove of the bubble-thought read
Soft sift from the me to you,
Soft sift from the me to you, soft said…
(Homespun, empathy, marmalade, bread) .

David Lewis Paget (1973)

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Shopping with MissM

MissM is exasperated with MrsM.

Back ache!
WHY do you think that you have back ache?
Because you have so much STUFF in your bag
and half of it is for Justin*.
You don't NEED to carry wet wipes for me any more.
And now you want to buy another BIG bag
which is IDENTICAL to the one you already have.
You should have a smaller bag and be more organised.
And don't even THINK about a different colour:
you couldn't cope with brown
so blue is absolutely out of the question.
Don't waste my time
Just ask if they do this one in BLACK.

MrsM meekly beckons the shop assistant.

*that would be my pal, Justin Case.

Monday, 2 August 2010

The Scone Plate

Masons 'Blue Pheasant' c1830

I sat on the filthy carpet of the junk shop
and looked through the pile of china.
This plate was at the bottom,
thickly covered with sticky dust
and waiting patiently
for someone to see the beauty underneath.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

for Esther, in Tokyo

Cock and Japanese Bunting
Utamaro (1791)

Although I can shut the mouth of the incense burner,
I cannot shut the mouth of the cock,
which tells the coming of morning.

Yadoya Meshimore