Saturday, 26 February 2011

Mansard Roof

The young academic asks me why I am not writing
and I tell him that
too many things are getting in the way.

"That's a shame"
he says.

"Well, it means that I have time to do the ironing"
I reply.

"That doesn't seem like a very good swap"
he comments.

I think of all that I have still got to write
and I can't help agreeing with him
but I say
but I think it is what I need to do right now."

Friday, 25 February 2011

The Sparkly Specklace

MrsM has expensive new glasses
which enable her to see the computer screen
but she has discovered that she has Bad Habits;
MrsM leaves her glasses in the print room,
she waves them in a damaging way
and even chews the ends thoughtfully.
These Habits must be stopped immediately
or MrsM will be told off by her optician.

MrsM had a brainwave...
she would beg her crafty friend Dottycookie
to make her a Specklace of great beauty
so that she could not abandon, chew or wave
the glasses that she had spent so long choosing.
And Dottycookie said "Yes!!"
and helped MrsM select the beads
and advised on chains and fixings
and then, one day, a parcel arrived.

MrsM ripped open the parcel
with great excitement
and tried on her sparkly specklace
and it was Perfect.

MrsM went into the Department office
to show the Lovely Ladies who work there
and they were very kind
[but secretly they were relieved
that they would not have to collect
MrsM's glasses from the print room any more.]

And then MrsM went home and showed MrM
and he said
you look like a librarian"

[which in a bookish family
is the best compliment of all.]

Thank you, Dottycookie, I LOVE IT!!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

these things made me smile...

a bouquet of lilies and roses from MrM
because he always remembers the day
that he first met MrsM

MissM, sweet in her grey wool beret

Prince Harry in a china blue check shirt
filling his car up with petrol
at the local garage

a council worker, perched on a ladder,
solemnly cleaning the bus stop sign

an email from Rhiannon,
baking goddess and music buddy

Kim and Louise, postgraduates,
who bring me biscuits at coffee time

the academic who is now 41 and a half
and loves to drive fast cars

spotting my photos in the proof copy
of the Spain field trip poster

the academic who describes the renovation
of his house in Normandy
so that I feel that I am there too,
planting the vines

sharp, sharp green aftershave
in the corridor outside my office

the bustle and noise of Department tours
with prospective students and their parents
anxiously peering into my office
as they walk by

fluorescent shimmer on wet pavements
and a light grey evening sky

...and my work blog
Living with Geographers
has been archived by the British Library...

you will recognise all of the posts
but I hope it makes you smile too...

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Rouge Allure

MissM rushes in.

"I can't stop.
I have to find a fifties glamour outfit
for a play launch party
and I need to leave in ten minutes."

MrM and MrsM watch her run in and out

"Where is that fur stole?"
"Oh! which heels shall I wear?"
"I must just put on some lipstick..."

and then with a swing of her
vintage red handbag
she is gone.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Water Play

hot soapy water

shiny blue china

bright red saucepan

music turned up a bit too loud

MrsM wonders guiltily
if she should be having so much fun
at her age

Monday, 21 February 2011

Domestic Bliss

It is Saturday morning.

MrM looks up from the newspaper

"It says here that
women are returning to baking
to make them feel more feminine
and attractive to men."

MrsM rebukes him sternly

"That is NOT the language of empowerment."

[Thank you, Coffee Ms.]

MissM gets up from the table

"I haven't got time to listen
to this male chauvinst market research rubbish.
I have got to make some fairy cakes
for the Charming MasterN
before I catch the train to Cambridge."

Friday, 18 February 2011


***** A Knitting Tutorial *****

Cast on.
Knit confidently.
Consult pattern.

Consider options.
Realise that there is only one.

Consider how quickly
two hours knitting
converts into a heap of wool.

Cast on.
Consult pattern.
Knit confidently...


for Archie
who was born last night.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

a moment of madness

This post is dedicated to the young academic
who mused out loud that
the combination of ties worn
by the Head of Department,
Dean of Faculty
and Vice Principal
was the worst that he had ever seen.

The Head of Department
(who was wearing his favourite
Australian Aboriginal design)
blinked and politely carried on talking.

The young academic
(who reads this blog)
turned an enchanting shade of red
and tried to extricate himself
from this very deep hole.

MrsM suppressed hysterical laughter,
took a very, very deep breath
and went in with the lifebelt.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

... bunting colours ...

L.S. Lowry
The Football Match

Between plunging valleys, on a bareback of hill
Men in bunting colours
Bounced, and their blown ball bounced.

The blown ball jumped, and the merry - coloured men
Spouted like water to head it.
The ball blew away downwind -

The rubbery men bounced after it.
The ball jumped up and out and hung on the wind
Over a gulf of treetops.
Then they all shouted together, and the ball blew back.

Winds from fiery holes in heaven
Piled the hills darkening around them
To awe them. The glare light
Mixed its mad oils and threw glooms.
Then the rain lowered a steel press.

Hair plastered, they all just trod water
To puddle glitter. And their shouts bobbed up
Coming fine and thin, washed and happy

While the humped world sank foundering
And the valleys blued unthinkable
Under depth of Atlantic depression -

But the wingers leapt, they bicycled in air
And the goalie flew horizontal

And once again a golden holocaust
Lifted the cloud's edge, to watch them.

Football at Slack
Ted Hughes


sometimes an unexpected coincidence
brings a poem and an image together.

it is a private pleasure.

bear with me

Monday, 14 February 2011

Policy Failure

MrM and MrsM agree...

that there has been too much gallivanting
and that they must implement
an emergency policy of 'Lockdown'
The emphasis will be on essential household chores:
cleaning the kitchen floor,
sorting the recycling.

MrM and MrsM agree...

that a trip to Oxford falls within
the broad terms of the 'Lockdown' policy
because of the cultural benefits.

MrM and MrsM agree...

that they will visit the Ashmolean
and look at the Greek vases
and then have a bowl of organic vegetable soup

MrM and MrsM agree...

that as they are walking past 'The Bear'
they will stop off for a quick pint.
And while they are there
they text their lovely friends,
Graham and Ursula,
and get invited to lunch.

MrM and MrsM agree...

that it would be rude to refuse
when there is a chance to admire
the Lovely Miss Maisie in her bright pink boots.

They have a wonderful afternoon
with much laughter
but on the way home

MrM and MrsM agree...

that the emergency 'Lockdown' policy
may need to be reviewed..

Saturday, 12 February 2011

MrM, Ornithologist*

Mourning Dove
Zenaida macroura

Nests and Eggs of Ohio, 1879-1886.
Drawings by Miss Genevieve Estelle Jones,
Mrs. N. E. Jones and Miss Eliza J. Schultz.


MrM has accompanied MrsM to the petshop.
MrsM is buying bird seed.

Fat Balls!!
What on earth are they for?

The birds take little pieces of the fat
and use it to stick the twigs together
to make a nest.

Good grief...
I had no idea!

It is a seasonal item
and that is why these are in multipacks.
You know...
spring is coming...
lots of nest building.

Of course!
Well, I never did!
You learn something every day.

When MrsM recounts this later
MissM is very shocked.
Please tell me that he didn't believe you!
What did he think that birds did
before fat balls were sold in petshops?


*from Greek:
ὄρνις, ὄρνιθος, ornis, ornithos, "bird";
λόγος, logos, "knowledge"

Friday, 11 February 2011

Don't Judge Me

I have a small announcement to make:

I am in a new relationship.

It is not that I have stopped loving Orlando...
it is simply that Bill came into my life
when I desperately needed inspiration
and his insouciant attitude to convention
was so refreshing that I fell for him immediately.

Bill gets down to basics
and introduces new ideas, new techniques.
I would never have thought
of casseroles without braising the meat,
ripping mozzarella with my hands,
or serving satay without sticks.

It is so,so wrong but it feels so right.

And his eggs are to die for.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

the world comes to me

Mark Edwards
Man Watching Crows

The Professor sits down in my chair
with a grateful sigh.

"We were just about to land in Tromsø
when the snow started
and we were diverted to a tiny airport
in the middle of nowhere.
As we approached the runway
the snow was really heavy
and I don't know how the pilot landed the plane.
There was hardly enough room for us all
in the terminal building and no sign of buses.
Eventually, a bus came to take us to Tromsø
and we set off through the forests.
Of course, it was really beautiful...
all those pine trees covered in snow...
but all I could think was that
there were
no chains on the wheels,
the road was icy, the snow was still falling
and the bus was sliding on every corner.
My heart was in my mouth for the next five hours
and I have never been so glad to get home safely."

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

A Conspiracy of Silence

Here is the littlest boy cousin
sitting placidly on my brother's knee.
He has grown so much since we saw him at Christmas
and is sitting up, watching the world around him.
He has inherited his mother's sweet nature.

Here is his big brother.
He is nearly two and is a blur of activity.
The world is full of exciting opportunities
and he is not going to miss any of them
by sitting down for a minute.

MasterM was exactly like this at two.

I consider telling my brother
and my adorable sister-in-law
about the rollercoaster ride ahead of them
but, just like discussing labour
with a first time mother,
I don't think they will believe me.

I think it is probably safer
if I let them discover for themselves.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Week That Was

On the first day...
MrM forgave MrsM for losing the adaptor
peeled her an orange
so that she didn't get her hands sticky.

On the second day...
MrM organised a full body wax for the car
without complaining about the cost.

On the third day...
MrM sent funds to MasterM
so that he could buy a bed, desk and chair,
washing machine,television and food
for his new house in Stellenbosch.
MasterM was exceedingly grateful.

On the fourth day...
MrM changed the light bulb in the kitchen
despite the fact
it had only been dead for a week
wrote an email in Italian
to the lovely blogless Paola from Positano.

On the fifth day...
MrM collaborated with MissM
to write the email which landed her
a prestigious work experience role.
MissM was exceedingly grateful.

On the sixth day...
MrM started an exciting new job
which will keep him out of mischief.
for the forseeable future.

On the seventh day...
MrsM was overcome with pride and gratitude
for her hard-working husband
and decided to make him a coffee cake.
Unfortunately, she fell asleep on the sofa
because she had been working long hours
preparing exam papers.
MrsM needs to try harder.