Wednesday, 26 February 2014

I Acquire A Plastic Bag

My new year's resolution was simple: a year without any  new bags, plastic ones.  I mean the ones that are handed out freely in shops in England, and which you have to pay for in Wales.  So far, I've acquired five new bags.  I can explain them all, but not satisfactorily.

Yesterday, I was looking for a bookcase for my books. I bought a pair of boots.

It's not that I hadn't been thinking of new boots - I think of new boots every time my old boots leak. I've been thinking of dark brown slip-on ones, something subtle and refined. I've been thinking of getting by till next autumn without them.

Within thirty minutes of setting off to find a bookcase, I was halfway down the high street carrying a plastic bag containing a pair of black lace-up boots which could pass for army surplus.  I met a friend in the shoe shop, and had been chatting to her so intently, that when I paid for them, I forgot to use the cotton bag I'd brought with me.

"Why is it," I asked my son later, "that I set off to buy a bookcase, and found myself instead with half price boots and an enormous plastic bag, and not even the boots I'd been thinking of buying?"

He looked at me, shrugged.  "Because you shop like a girl, mum."

Monday, 24 February 2014

I Manage My Emotions

I read somewhere today that managing one's emotions means hiding them.  I disagree. In my experience, managing emotions mainly involves taking them seriously, eating risotto, and getting enough sleep.

At a point I can't identify, my sons' bedtime became later than mine.  What is difficult about this transition  is that, even though they both regularly put their arms around my waist and lift me off the floor, I am reluctant to go to bed before they are safely tucked up.

When I was five years old, my parents imposed a bedtime of 6.30pm.  I'm sure I had a bedtime before this, but I can't remember what it was.  From this point,  it increased with my age by half-hourly intervals, until they lost track.  On that basis, I have probably circled the clock several times now, which explains the inclination I sometimes have to go to bed at two-thirty in the afternoon.  Once, this desire came upon me so strongly that I had to lie on the floor just where I was and sleep for ten minutes.  (It may have been longer, but the sign I put on the door said 'Back in 10 minutes'.)   I lay under my desk to be sure no one trod on me.

No one sets my bedtime these days, but I know when I have gone to bed after it.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

I Check My Emails

My account with Barclays Bank has been suspended due to irregular activity, though I'm fairly certain I don't have an account with Barclays Bank.  This is also true of my accounts with Santander and NatWest. I know this because I check my emails from time to time.

One of the irregular activities with which I'm involved is running.  In general, I get my exercise from changing washers, swilling out mugs, stirring risotto and walking.  I combined three of these activities on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path last June.

The path is 186 miles long and runs from St Dogmaels in the north to Amroth in the south.  I have walked the section from Dinas Head to Solva.  It was one of the best weeks of my life.  Or rather, as I've walked it three times, they were three of the best weeks of my life.

Last year, my longest-serving friend, Helen, walked with me.  She showed me how to improve risotto with porcini mushrooms bought from the delicatessen in St David's.

It's useful that the Barclays email is signed 'Helpful Banking', or I may not have smelt a rat.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

I Heat Up Some Leftovers

A current advert on Classic FM advises listeners to store their leftovers in clear plastic boxes so they can see them.  This evening I tipped the remains of last night's risotto out of a blue mug and heated them up in a non-stick saucepan.

Arborio rice is grown in the Po valley. I found this out from Wikipedia.  I also found out that its high starch content  makes it particularly good for absorbing flavours.

I tell my students never to cite Wikipedia in their assignments.

I first read of the Po valley in the Don Camillo books by Giovannino Guareschi.  The hotheaded and muscular priest, Don Camillo, spends his time and emotional energy trying to outwit the Communist mayor, Peppone.  And all this under the scrutiny of the never-to-be-fooled Christ who looks down on him from a cross above the altar in the village church: a wonderful characterisation of conscience.

As long as I have rice, and an inch of leftover white wine, I can usually find the wherewithal - however empty the fridge - to make risotto.  This one included mushrooms.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

I Wash Out My Mug

This morning, I brushed my teeth in cold water.  It was 6.30am.  I brushed them again at 8.00am.

At work, I wash my tea mug in the sink in the toilets.  I have been doing this ever since the staff kitchen was made into a corridor four or so years ago.

I say that, but I did go through a  phase when I'd march up the sweep of the main staircase with a bowl full of mugs, a bottle of washing up liquid, a scourer and a 'My Kitchen is for Dancing' tea towel.  I washed up in the hot, soapy water of the kitchen on the executive corridor, to the hiss and suck of percolating coffee, hoping to be thrown out.

If I want hot water, I have to press the tap down.  One shot lasts long enough for a quick swill around.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

I Buy A New Washer - Day One

This afternoon, I went to buy a new washer at the local hardware shop. I am hoping it will be the end, until it perishes, of my bathroom basin cold tap fixing attempts.  I do not like brushing my teeth in warm water.

Why is that?

The washer cost 10p.  I think.  I'm not sure, because I bought two light bulbs as well and I was charged £2, so I have a feeling that the shop assistant slipped the small disc of black rubber into the white paper bag for free.  I think she realised what a triumph it is for me to be fixing my own taps, and she was showing her admiration.  She seemed to enjoy keeping a queue of restless men (I think they were burly) waiting whilst we caught up on news of our children.  I'm almost sure of all these things.

The space in the spanner which fits onto the nut is called the jaw.  The satisfaction of finding the right sized jaw for a nut is comparable to diving with barely a splash.