Thursday, 31 March 2011

Shopping with MrM

Can we have heated rear seats
in the new car?


Please. Please. Please.
It is really nice if you are cold.


What happens if we are really cold.
And wet.
And we don't have a blanket?

Have you completely forgotten
what happened the last time
we had heated seats in a car?
MasterM used to wait until you were asleep
and then he would switch them on
so that you had terrible dreams
and woke up roasting alive?

MasterM is a bit older now.

I bet he would still do it.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The road through Hlatikulu

When I was a little girl
I lived in Africa...
did I ever tell you that?

Swaziland is a tiny country
squeezed between
the vast space of South Africa
and the coast of Mozambique.

It doesn't feel very long ago to me
but it was another world,
before the end of apartheid
and before the ravages of Aids.

My father was a vet
and we lived in a one street town
in the middle of nowhere.

These pictures are from the
recently released photographic collection
of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
shared on Flickr by the National Archive (UK)

and they bring back vivid memories
of those happy, far away times.

Africa through a lens

Tuesday, 29 March 2011


Siesta, Interior at Nice
Henri Matisse (1869 - 1954)

All day long I stare
at the wire trays
and the year planner
and the filing cabinets
and the lever arch files
and the neatly arranged noticeboard.

The sun streams through the louvred windows
and the sounds of spring leak into my office:
the chatter of magpies, the rattle of mowers,
the murmur of students sitting on newly cut grass.

When I go home I soak myself
with pictures of magnolias
and give thanks that other people
have been to Kew in March
when I could not go.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Joining the Twitterati

William Morris (1878)

MrsM interviews herself!

Why did you decide to start using Twitter?
MrsM says:
My sister-in-law has
a two year old and a baby.
If she can do it so can I.

Is it easy to start?
MrsM says:
I'm not going to lie...
I typed "How to use Twitter" into Google

What is the most difficult bit?
MrsM says:
Thinking of a name.
It took a bag and a half of Maltesers
to come up with MrsM_lite

What is a hash tag?
MrsM says:
No idea.
Sounds edible but unpleasant
Do I need to know?

Twitter is trivial stuff about everyday life.

MrsM says:
I blog.
I do that already.
What's new?

The best bit about Twitter?
MrsM says:
You get to share Coffee Lady's life in real time.

The worst bit about Twitter?
MrsM says:
TheListWriter is funnier than me.

Why bother unless there is a revolution?
MrsM says:
Listen up!
The revolution has reached F&M.
People like me need to be ready.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

The Auld Triangle...

went jingle, jangle**

**from the lyrics by Dominic Behan
for the play 'The Quare Fellow'
written by his brother, Brendan.

To get the full effect
you have to imagine thousands of fans
in full Paddy's Day regalia
waving flags and cheering wildly
at every jingle
and every jangle.

Friday, 25 March 2011


MasterM changes his profile picture regularly
and it is a cryptic form of micro-blogging.

Some pictures are obvious:
Geoffrey the house duck...

some are time limited:
the Football World Cup...

some are puzzling:

and some are just worrying.

I spent last night setting up a Twitter account.
It took ages to load my profile picture
but when I saw my little blue lady
who has travelled with me for four years
I felt as though I had arrived.

I am learning as I go along
but you are welcome to join me...


Thursday, 24 March 2011

Lunch Hour

:: sunshine ::
:: daffodils ::
:: students ::

if you look carefully
you will see the big group of
first year Geographers
who waved to me
and called out my name
as I walked through the quad
and made me smile

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Shopping with MissM

MissM is browsing the internet.

(sample a)

What do you think of this??
(sample a)

(anxious to please)
isn't it quite similar
to the dress that you just bought?

(sample b)

That is a different colour.
And material.
And design.


(sample b)

What do you think of this?

(sample c)

(trying very hard)
What are those little wing things?

THAT is a bustle.

Can you go and sit somewhere else
so that Mummy can come and sit here

(sample c)

MrM sighs heavily
and moves to a lower place
in the pecking order.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Compare and Contrast...

Sue's fridge is clean and tidy and empty
MrsM's fridge is clean and tidy and NOT empty

Executive Summary
More alcohol, less cake

Research Data
MrsM reviews the alcohol in her fridge:

white wine
(due to responsible consumption of oily fish)
additional bottle of white wine
(because fish is very good for you)
rosé wine
(Bill's superb recipe for beef daube)
(medicinal purposes only)
(to assist vitamin C absorption)
(for emergency celebrations)

Conclusion 1
MrsM uses space for essential items

Research Data
MrsM reviews the cake in her fridge:

There is no cake.

Conclusion 2
MrsM must do better.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Philippe the Hedgehog

Hans Hoffmann (1530–1591/92)

It is first thing in the morning
and I am using the photocopier
and talking to my friend, Pierre.
I can't remember how we got onto the subject
but he is telling me about his childhood pets

"...we had a hedgehog called Philippe for a while...
once you have got rid of the ticks and lice
they make super little pets.
He had a proper diet because we fed him on raw meat.
One day he was sitting on my mother's lap..."

"on her lap??"
I ask, amazed.

"Oh yes, he was a proper little house pet...
Anyway, my mother was wearing a Chinese dressing gown
and Philippe climbed up the long open sleeve.
And he got stuck!
He rolled himself into a ball because he was frightened
and the only way we could get him out
was to unpick all the stitches of the sleeve."

and Pierre, the serious archaeologist
who dedicates himself to reconstructing animal skeletons,
is laughing at the memory of himself as a small boy
untangling Philipe the hedgehog
from his mother's silk dressing gown
and I am laughing too
at the thought of the mad things
that mothers do to make their children happy.

It is a good way to start the day.

Sunday, 20 March 2011


Bathing Pond, Pedn-e-Vounder
Samuel John Lamorna Birch

This is my favourite beach which is on the last stretch of coastal path before Lands End. You reach it by climbing down a vertiginous cliff path, not for the faint hearted. The sand is white and washed clean by the tide and the shallow water is crystal clear. If you sit still on a hot summers day the fragrance of gorse mingles with the salty sea air. At the end of the afternoon you linger until the last moment, knowing that you have to climb that steep path, but eventually you reach the top with your lungs bursting. And then you shake the sand from your shoes and walk back through the wild fuschias to the car.

The last time I was here was thirty years ago but it will not have changed.

We all have places like Pedn-e-Vounder that we keep locked in our hearts.


Many thanks to Hermes whose blog,
Newlyn and Staithes School of Painters
delights me every morning.

Friday, 18 March 2011

the scent of cherry blossom

Sometimes it is hard to let go of the day.

On this particular evening
I pause in the car park
and the scent of cherry blossom
is heavy on the air around me.

After a while I accept
that I will always remember
the student who sat
in the chair beside my desk today
and the words that I spoke to him.

I look at the fondant colours
of the cherry blossom petals
and I wish with all my heart
that it could have been
an ordinary day.

And then I get in the car
and drive home.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Point of View

You see:
Pannacotta with Raspberries

I see:
A meal out with MissM and the Talented MissI

You see:
A cheeseboard

I see:
A tall waiter
enthusiastically describing local cheeses
in a small, elegant dining room

You see:

I see:
A light hearted evening with
Helen, Caroline and Jane,
my friends for over 20 years

You see:
Tiramisu with Cherries in Kirsch

I see:
A birthday lunch,
prelude to visiting a silversmith

You see:
Cod with spinach and almond sauce

I see:
The moment when I realised
that however many friends are around me
it is less fun if MrM is not there too.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

MasterM, tenant

An extract from correspondence
between MasterM
and the landlord of the student house
that MasterM shares with four friends.

re: your voicemail regarding a blonde lady, who had been allegedly staying over on Monday 1st March. If the anonymous accuser had inspected closer they may have seen that she was in fact wearing running kit and had stopped at the house on her early morning jog...

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Mirrors _ 2

Staand naakt
Georg Hendrik Breitner (1857 - 1923)

MrsM has a secret habit
(previously unconfessed)
of listening to indie music
and she has fallen in love with
a Brighton band , Mirrors.

MissM generously offers
to accompany her mother to a gig
and so MrsM checks out tour dates.

Alas, the band is still newish
and the venues are not large.
The next suitable date is
Naked Tuesday
at the Corsica Studios.

MrsM dolefully remembers
that she is now grey haired
and reluctantly decides that
Naked Tuesday
is not really an option.


Monday, 14 March 2011

Mirrors _1

De oorbel
George Hendrik Breitner (1857 - 1923)

MrsM peers into the mirror.
It is early morning
and the low sunbeams
sparkle on her hair.

MrsM leans forward to admire
her natural highlights
and reels back in horror
at the sight of her
first grey hair.

In a split second all grand plans
to go grey gracefully
are utterly abandoned.

MrsM gloomily considers her options.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

shades of blue

what did I do
while I was away?

I went shopping with MissM
and we stopped for coffee
and did not tell MrM
who believes that sitting in cafes
is an extravagant waste of car park tickets.

I finished the little blue jumper
and realised that styling knitwear
for photoshoots
is not in my future.

I took photos of my white camellia
on my new blue pinwheel plate
and wondered if I love the plate
or the camellia more.

I went halfy/halfy with MrM
on a bag of white chocolate buttons.
Just to make him happy.

And I saw these star flowers
tucked among the roots of a tree
and realised that it is Spring at last.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

0546 GMT

I know that I have friends
who read this blog in Japan.
I am thinking of you and your families
and hoping that you are safe.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Knitted Landscapes

Main Street Bridge, Cambridge ON,
September 12, 2010

image from Body Soul and Spirit

There is a Professor outside my office
and he is introducing his guest to a colleague.

She is small, beautifully dressed
and she wants to study yarn bombing.

I think to myself...
I am so lucky to work
in such an amazing Department...
but if I don't write about it
no-one else will know

here I go again.