Saturday, 23 August 2008
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
1. Buy kitchen tiles. Unlike bathroom tiles which take three months, three counties and countless rows to choose (and still haven't been laid), kitchen tile choice takes 30 seconds in Wickes in Haverfordwest.
2. Buy extra fast setting tile adhesive.
3. Measure kitchen, draw a chalk line down the middle.
4. Forbid wife and children to tread on, and therefore erase, vital chalk line.
5. Go to work on a late shift.
6. Return at midnight to discover that foul wife and even fouler children have all but erased vital chalk line.
7. Go even greyer and lose a few more hairs from the back for good measure.
8. In a fit of enthusiasm, lay nine tiles.
9. Figure out that you can fit exactly five tiles in a row across kitchen. Work this out all by self without female intervention.
10. Tap foot and count slowly up to 1,000,000 as firstly wife, then mother-in-law aka Granny in the Annexe, also point out this fact.
11. Tear out remaining hair.
12. Lift up the first nine tiles.
13. Lay other tiles, instructing foul wife and fouler children not to step on them until they are dry.
14. Lie to foul wife and fouler children that 'quick setting adhesive' takes 24 hours to dry.
15. Get caught walking on tiles that have only been down for two hours.
16. Admit real setting time is two hours.
17. Watch foul wife and fouler children perform 'Riverdance' on newly laid tiles.
18. Go even more grey-haired. Lose a few more from the back for good measure.
19. Allow youngest child to 'assist' with the laying of one tile.
20. Call for foul wife to remove said child from kitchen.
21. Continue as above until nearly all tiles are laid.
22. Ask foul wife: "What's for tea?"
25. Receive black eye with good grace.
Thursday, 7 August 2008
Usually, when something is deemed the New Black, I run a mile in the opposite direction, but now, this time, I’m embracing the latest New Black.
The reason, of course, is I have a vested interest here. Or rather several million vested interests. I have freckles. They began on my nose, spread to my arms and shoulders and now inhabit my legs too.
When I was little and my hair was orange, my skin was white and my freckles matched my hair. I started not to like my freckles. Then I was taken to a variety show at the Swan Theatre in Worcester. There was a comedian and, it is exceedingly un-politically correct to say this, but you’ll see later exactly why I need to make it clear, the comedian involved was black.
Now I can't remember much about his act, apart from a really unsavoury joke about three nuns in the desert. I can’t recall the details, I was very young at the time, but for some reason in the joke the nuns all needed to wee on some flour – don’t ask – but the third nun (called - toe-curlingly embarrassingly – Margaret) farted and blew the flour away. That was the punch line. How we laughed.
Anyway, for want of resuscitation, for surely he was dying up there, he spied me and said something along the lines of: “Hello freckle-face, you’re going to look like me when you grow up and those all join up.”
How the audience roared.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur. So I was going to grow up into a black man? With brown skin? And fuzzy hair?
I examined my face in the mirror and searched fearfully for tell-tale signs of joining up freckles. Every time we went out I scoured the faces of old people searching, searching for an old person with freckles.
Then I found her.
She was standing in Greaves Butchers in Studley.
She was tall.
She had long-red hair down beyond her waist.
She was covered – head to toe – in freckles.
She was old – at least 25.
She was beautiful.
Quite the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. An old woman with freckles. I was saved! It wasn’t true.
I gazed at this beauty in wonderment while Mum bought half a pound of mince and four pork chops.
As Mum dragged me away I cast my gaze back to the freckly beauty as she laughed and smiled at the butcher.
What a relief!
Now, thanks to Lindsay Lohan (above) on the front of Vanity Fair and Karen Elson on Vogue’s September cover, freckles are being hailed as the New Black.
For once, and possibly only for the briefest moment, I’m in fashion and I am (as Gok would say) rocking the New Black.
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
All we want is a nice, clean new kitchen. Free of rotten wood, mini beetles and stinking carpet. It is taking ages to replace. Every time we move something, there’s a problem. We fill a hole; the concrete takes weeks to go off, and when we surmount one barrier, another pops up.
This week (Monday) was Mum’s 70th. My sister was due to visit on Thursday to continue the celebrations, but now she can’t because the old kitchen is in the barn, the new kitchen is in the dining room, tiles for kitchen, utility room and bathroom are mounded everywhere and four metres of new worktop occupy a space I used to call the living room.
How we laughed at the thrill of having the flat packs delivered. Oh false joy. Now most of us have been in tears at one point or another. This morning it was Mum, when we admitted we couldn’t accommodate visitors, then it was my sister on being told the same thing. I have just broken the news to H6 and R4 that their cousins T7 and E4 will not be visiting, so they’re sad too.
Again I’m in the bad corner. I’m the Wicked Witch of the West; the spoiler of 70th birthdays, the murderer of holiday plans, the pooper of parties.
I only wanted a new kitchen. I didn’t realise it would cause this much heartache.
3. After a while - anything from ten minutes to half an hour - the noise in the jar will change from a sort of fluffy noise (sorry, difficult to describe) to a sloshing noise.
4. Open the jar and look inside: butter! The liquid is buttermilk. Pour that off into a jug and use to make pancakes, scones or (our favourite) soda bread.
5. Put cold water straight from the tap into the jar, drain and repeat until the water runs clear. This is to wash out any remaining buttermilk.
6. Put the butter onto a board and pat with a suitable implement - plastic or wooden spatulas are ideal - to squeeze out excess water and buttermilk.
7. Finished! You have a nice little pot of fresh butter. Add salt to taste and spread on some lovely crusty bread. Yum!
Sunday, 3 August 2008
1. This morning I ran 6.12 miles (just under 10K) in one hour and 17 minutes.
2. My NaNoWriMo novel currently weighs 2lb 9 and 3/4 oz.
3. I broke the toes on my right foot when I was 19 when they were stepped on by a (big) baby racehorse. My feet are now happiest in flip-flops, shoes with a toe thong, boots or trainers.
4. My hair is 17 inches long.
5. I'd like to drive a Porsche, Ferrari, Lambourghini, or similar - just to see what it's like. (I think I've been watching too much Top Gear!)
6. I am addicited to Google Earth.
Now, I think I'm supposed to tag others to do this, so I hereby tag Fennie, Silver Pebble, Frances, Today, Pipany and Kittyb (unless you've already been tagged!)