Thursday, 23 February 2017

In Have A Go At Innuendo (blame my dear friend Penny)

Although noted for my plumbing, never one to decline a DIY challenge, and being short of hanging space, earlier this week I screwed up two knobs.

I'm outta here .....

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

I Order A New Washer

At a poetry reading last year, I was introduced as the Poet Who Blogs About Washing Machines. 

I'm good in a crisis but this unsettled me.  Flexing my poems, I managed to carry on and give my planned reading, but I felt flummoxed.  (Great word, flummoxed, as is feckless ...). 

"Has it come to this?" I thought. "Adopting the stage name Someone's Mum in a moment of irony, writing the poem 'Killing the Angel  - after Virginia Woolf' (Virginia-give-up-the-domestic-martyrdom-or-die-never-having-written-anything-Woolf!), leads to this!  Moi, now known for my blog about washing machines?"

In calling my blog, I Buy A New Washer, I wanted to be known for my plumbing.  In addition to being a small disc, often made of rubber and used in taps, a 'washer' can, allegedly, be a washing machine (for sure, for short) but not in my vocabulary.  Unless it's a washer-dryer.  But then, if I was writing about washer-dryers my blog would be called, I Buy A New Washer-Dryer.  This lacks punch.

Several long months later, I can set the record straight.  Today, dear readers, I ordered a new washing machine.  My old one isn't entirely broken, but has been stuck on one very long and arduous low spinning programme for the past year, leaving my washing heavy and unwilling to dry in a hurry.

So, averse to out of town shopping and white goods decision-making, I popped into The Two Ronnies earlier and chose, from their selection of three, a washing machine with a spin speed of 1400, a door which opens and several programmes.  It's white.  With the odd silver knob.


Friday, 17 February 2017

I Arrive In Norwich

I set out for Norwich thirty-eight years ago.  I was 14, and the night before I'd been helping Ian re-wire the church.  This had involved crawling under floorboards, which was pretty exciting for a Friday night in 1979 in Highbury.

I set out for Norwich to attend a confirmation service in the cathedral.  I set out with my mother and one, or maybe two, brothers.  Did my father come too?  He might have done.  Or he might have been preaching the next day.

I set out for Norwich, but I didn't arrive at the cathedral until last Monday.  I didn't take a direct route.  On the way, I completed my O levels, climbed Snowden, studied TS Eliot, learnt to ski badly, went to Durham, fell in love, ate street food in Malaysia, served baked potatoes out of the back of a garage, taught Scottish YTS joiners about safe sex, took an MA in Psychology, understood more,  moved house, had my wisdom teeth extracted, made brownies, sang some Handel, gave birth, understood less, planted grape hyacinths, gave birth, wrote some poems, had therapy, changed a washer, cleared the attic, squeezed two oranges, wrote one particular poem ...

I set off for Norwich, and before I arrived last Monday, I fitted in a lot more than expected on the way.  In particular, I fitted in acute appendicitis.  I don't know if it was the re-wiring, but by the time we reached Cambridge (it was still 1979) I was in a lot of pain.  I lay on my big brother's bed in his King's College room, moaning, whilst my family ate sandwiches and chatted.  After too long, my mother drove me to Addenbrokes.  I spent five days in hospital whilst my family, undaunted, went on to the confirmation, arriving 38 years before me.

I set off for Norwich from London, and I arrived there last Saturday via Durham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Shrewsbury, and then waited another two days, enjoying the comfort of The Butchery and some incredible, warm, delicious hospitality.  On Monday morning, I woke early and jogged the last leg of my journey to the cathedral.  When I arrived, I remembered that I'd set off 38 years ago.  For most of that time, I'd forgotten where I was meant to be going.  I was wearing shorts and a thin film of perspiration.  I was thirty-eight years late, badly dressed and out of breath.  I decided not to go in.

Later, in sight of the cathedral once more, I read at the Café Writers prize event, alongside Andrew McMillan and many other poets.  It was a fantastic experience - the warmth of welcome, the quality of the work, the camaraderie, the positive response to my poems - and at last, the feeling, the sense, that there, amongst the rag-tag wonderful bag of poets, that finally I had arrived.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

I Compose A Valentine

Ever since I saw the film version of Far From the Madding Crowd, I have been suspicious of Valentine's Day and its cards.  The trouble Bathsheba Everdene caused with hers was, well, fatal.

Perhaps that's why, in writing my first ever Valentine poem, I've written it for Franz Schubert.

I received a card of my own a couple of years ago.  It came in the post in a cream envelope, landing on the mat of my then home.  I experienced initial excitement (someone likes me!) followed by a creeping sense of unease (but who?).  Anonymous, the card began to feel like a threat - I had reason to be suspicious of anyone's attention since receiving harassing emails and worse from someone I'd previously trusted. 

I'm not sure where to send my poem for Franz.  I friended his page on Facebook earlier this week in preparation, but when I went to find it this morning, it had disappeared.  There are other Franz Schuberts out there, but I can't be sure they're the ones that wrote the Impromptu in G Flat Major and all his other songs for piano that move me, that have led to my current crush.

I still don't know who sent me the Valentine card.  I came across it in a desk-tidying episode a couple of months ago.  I'm not sure, given the discomfort it caused, why I kept it.  I'm pretty sure the intention was good, but anonymity for whatever reason means a certain power is kept by the sender. The card evoked a milder response this time - a pleasant query about who'd taken the trouble to show affection, and a realisation that this far on, I want it to remain a mystery.

As for Franz, he remains unreachable. I'm sure I could have therapy for that, for falling for someone unattainable, but here's one of the many other reasons why I love him:

Saturday, 4 February 2017

I Justify My Position

Justified, I'm justified
it's just as if I'd never sinned ...

This was amongst the worst of the choruses I sang in church when I was a child. For those blissfully in the not know, justification refers to the Christian doctrine that we are all sinners who can only be saved by accepting the forgiveness won by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. 

(Crazy, isn't it?)

There was also this:

I keep falling in love with him over and over and over and over again,
I keep falling in love with him over and over and over and over again,
I keep falling in love with him over and over and over and over again:
over and over and over and over and over and over again.

You don't believe me but it's true.  We - father, mother, three brothers, me - were on holiday in Yorkshire.  We'd found (no respite) a church to go to on Sunday.  Even I, indoctrinated as I was, could recognise this doggerel as a exceptionally poor example of the expression of ecstatic religious fervour, and struggled to stifle my sniggers.

The Just As If I'd chorus followed by the Over and Over chorus came to mind in quick succession when I received an email from Waitrose this morning telling me I've saved £ the past three months.  I was very pleased.  About the savings - not the earworms.

I know that I don't need justification for anything these days, but still, the tug towards providing an explanation to some unknown Watcher In The Sky (WITS) for all my actions, even grocery shopping in not the cheapest shop available, remains.

But never mind.  The feeling's so much weaker these days. Most of the time it's imperceptible.  And I'll keep queuing in Waitrose (maybe meeting my love from time to time) over and over and over and over and over again.