I’m watching a thunderstorm

I keep missing the lightning, and I keep wanting to dive under the desk when the thunder goes. It terrifies me, does thunder. All the wilder weather we’ve been having terrifies me too. What is the human race doing to itself? I wake up at silly hours, worrying about it. Nameless panic at 4am. I should get up. Make tea. Read.

My silly little worries:about orders of service, and catering, and rain on The Day, things of that ilk – all of which are easily dealt with, all seem ridiculous. I have fin de siecle existential angst, and it’s only 2014.

We went for a walk yesterday (photos to follow). We headed through the East End. It got really exciting in Tower Hamlets, as a silver Mercedes or BMW shot past at about 80 miles an hour, literally flying over the speed bumps, which can’t have done the shocks any good at all, closely and more carefully pursued by four police vehicles of varioud designs and speeds. The MPSTowerHamlets twitter feed had nothing to say on the subject, so we’re none the wiser as to whom or why. I do hope the drivers of the silver car abandoned it before they hurt anyone. They were heading towards Whitechapel, and, although Sundays are quieter than weekdays, there were quite enough people about. Not to mention multiple memorials to Edward VII, who seems to have been rather popular in the area.  The walk itself wasn’t brilliant – we’ve had better walks from the Time Out book before now. However, it was lovely to just walk, play with our cameras, and generally spend some unstressed time with each other. This was the last “free” weekend before the wedding – next weekend N has his stag. Yes, I know, we thought he was having a stage while I was having a hen. Apparently that was actually “having a few beers in several different pubs and eating somewhere nice after trying on suits”. The actual stag co-incides with the British Beer Festival in Earl’s Court, and will doubtless involve drinking beer, but, this time, they get souvenir glasses.

The storm has blown over. I may need to lower the blind. It’s gone a bit glarey outside, and I’m squinting. I can see patches of blue sky, and I can just make out Parliament Hill. This is such a change from the grey clouds of ten minutes ago – and the solid deep grey columns which indicated that it was raining really rather hard. Perhaps Birkies were a mistake this morning. My SSIS pacakge has failed, and my backup is still running (taking 20 minutes, but it seems to be smaller this time. hmmm. I need to check my ratios. Is this five times slower backup worth it?), and I have another SSIS package to alter….

My blog may get more attention. I’ve no longer an N’s Dad to write to – but I still want to record.



I’m beginning to lose my grip on time.  I keep thinking that I’m one weekend closer to getting married than I actually am (and thus that I really should get a grip on writing the place cards, sorting out the table plan, and, really, why won’t people flipping well reply in order to make these tasks easier?!).  Fortunately, Mum has pointed out that this weekend is not 16th July, and thus I have a WHOLE WEEKEND before the last dress fitting (I hope they sort out the issue I have with the bodice) and my hair-dyeing appointment (for it is vital to cover up the grey and get everything else more-or-less the same shade along the entire length of the shaft).  Perhaps I just want to be married sooner?

Weekends do have a habit of getting lost. The hen party lost me a whole weekend, as I drank far too much gin in the process of having fun with friends in the sunshine (it’s a wonder I didn’t go pink in the process), and, thus, felt just a weeny bit delicate on Sunday. This weekend we started off In the Countryside, so N could do the garden, but it rained, and the planned bike ride he went on over-ran owing to a puncture, so it didn’t really happen. I got 5 miles off-road running in, and finished the pink spinning I was doing. I’m now plying it to the navy single. This is a. boring and fiddly and b. looks awful. I have standards that are too high, and I can’t expect to be perfect the very first time I try something, however much I want to. However, I’m determined to have enough yarn to knit, so I am perservering. Besides. I have some gorgeous alpaca-mix to play with soon, so I shall Get Better at it, as I wish to do the stuff justice. Plus, I think I want a spinning wheel.  Sunday was mostly taken up with a race (diabolical performances on both our parts, and I lost my chip tag so didn’t get an official time), and then meeting the photographer for the wedding. Must not forget sonic screwdrivers.

We need a new house before I can get a spinning wheel – I simply do not have the space. Which means selling N’s place first. Which will happen. What with him being so ill (three weeks with campylobacter, all told – a week off in the middle for good behaviour), and then his Dad dying, we are slightly behind with that one. On the plus side, his place is nearly ready to sell now, and that is marvellous. And scary.  So, we sell, we find, we buy and in about two years time, after the decoration’s done, I have a place for a spinning wheel. You have to think in the long term!

I’ve done a lot of reading. I’ve got over my awe of A.S. Byatt this year (thank you Alan Bennett for an entirely unhelpful predjudice), and I’m storming through the Frederica Quartet. I’m thoroughly enjoying seeing how her writing style changes over the years – compared to John Updike, whose Rabbit books remain comfortingly similar thoroughout, she really experiments with form. I’m enjoying “Nightingale Wood” by Stella Gibbons, which is not as fun as “Cold Comfort Farm” (Seth is not lounging about undoing buttons, but the chaffeur is terribly, terribly nice) but nicely acerbic and funny. I’m filling in the gaps on The List of 1001 Books (am now over 1/4 of the way through all 4 volumes, but I keep getting distracted by books not on the list after reading something by the same author that is on the list).

Tonight, I am in a dither. We are promming (Mahler 9). There is a “late” Prom, finishing at 10:30pm. With the lovely Sam West reading. But I have a chiropractic appointment at 7.40 tomorrow morning. Decisions. Decisions.  We have our 5 proms in hand, and are waiting for the next batch of tickets for the Last Night to be released. If I’m not in that hall when Lizzie is singing, I will be very sad indeed (if I am in that hall when she’s singing, I shall be crying my eyes out with happiness).





How to Prom…for the newbie

First, find your place in the queue. Usually, this is straightforward. You find the end of the queue. Sometimes, the end of the queue turns out to be the middle of the queue because everyone in the queue has gone to a Prom Plus, or the loo, or a bar – but they haven’t lost their place because they got a raffle ticket from a steward. So. Find your place in the queue, and get a raffle ticket to secure said place, or you will get sent to the back of the queue, and that’s very frustrating. If in doubt, find a steward. They wear hi-viz vests and will be clutching a book of raffle tickets.

Next, eat your supper in the queue. You’re not supposed to eat inside the hall. People eat inside the hall anyhow (gone are the days when we used to lurk in the corridor, nibbling sandwiches). The only time the stewards get upset is if you look like you’re drinking from a glass rather than a plastic cup. It’s a bit of a toss up. Either you eat in the queue, and have to perambulate a bit, or you eat in the hall, and the stewards make you get up and move forward to accommodate more people.

But consider what you drink in the hall. There’s alcohol on sale. Hurrah! Booze! Very useful during a 3 hour concert. HOLD ONTO IT AT ALL TIMES.  It’s a 3 hour concert. You will fidget. You don’t want to kick it over – it’s not cheap. You don’t want anyone else to kick it over either. And other prommers tend not to take kindly to being sprayed with Guinness mid-movement. If you do have the misfortune to kick over your alcohol (or to kick over someone else’s), apologise profusely at the first opportune moment (between movements, or during the applause), proffer a copy of the Evening Standard to mop up the puddle, and find a steward at half time for a more thorough clean up. Don’t leave the person you spilled beer over to do this for you. They will give you the evils.  Bring your own bottle of water. The lovely people behind the bar will refill it for you, but only at the tail end of the interval. It’s a bit hectic at other times. There are no cold water taps in the loos.

Bring a copy of the Evening Standard. Amusement while in the queue. Something to stand or sit upon during the concert (the floor is sticky, owing to the inadequately cleared up beer).  Something with which to soak up the beer. Better still, bring a cushion or a foam mat as well as the Standard. Your sitz bones will thank you.

Fidget thoughtfully. You’re going to fidget. No-one can stand stock still for that long. But remember. Loose change rattles, and it never jingles in time to the music – so if you can’t resist, either put it in a purse, or in a little pile in front of you. Some people do feel physically ill if you start waving your arms around out of time. Audible toe-tapping is generally not scored by the composer. You can stand up and sit down (and lie down), but don’t do it at the speed of the first violinist’s elbow, and try not to shift about massively much more than once per movement. Leave the phone alone. Leave the tablet alone. Leave the camera alone. If desperate (and some premieres are very hard to listen to) it’s fine to read – but try not to produce a distracting glow while you’re at it. And please, don’t pull the velcro open, or fiddle with the zipper on your bag. Get it all out ready before the concert starts (exceptions for getting something to mop up the beer that someone kicked over your legs are permissable).  You’re standing, yes, but everyone kinda expects you to behave just as you would if you were sitting in the expensive seats.

Wear comfy shoes. You may be standing for 3 hours. For crowded concerts, you’re almost certainly standing for three hours – there won’t be space to sit or lie down. If you must take your shoes off, consider pre-spritzing your toes with peppermint spray in the loos before you enter the hall, and regularly clean the inside of your shoes with surgical spirit in order to remove malodorous odours. No-one wants to smell stale feet.  I find Clarks Air and Birkenstocks the most comfortable shoes. Converse occasionally. Mix it up between proms.  Practice sitting down on the floor – some shoes are suprisingly spikey in odd places.

Wash. OK. You will get sweaty getting to the concert (particularly if the District & Circle Lines have one of their periodic failures), in the queue, and during the concert. But you can make sure it’s fresh sweat.  While we’re on smells: try not to fart. If beans make you fart, don’t eat them beforehand. It can get a bit overwhelming.  The taps in the loos are boiling hot and rather high pressured (the lavatory cisterns are rather low pressured): you will spray yourself in water, and the floor gets kinda slick.

Don’t whisper. If you can’t wait until a suitable break, murmur quickly. If you must talk – go into the bar. The concert’s streamed in there. Whispering carries, is annoying, and will invaribly in someone grumpily “SSSSH!”ing you if you persist in producing a running commentary.

Stay at home if you’re ill. Listen on the radio. You’ll not knacker yourself, and the rest of us won’t catch your lurgy. Much cheaper and better for everyone. A very similar concert will be on next year. Don’t sweat it.

Make up nicknames for your fellow prommers. Just don’t call them by them by accident. And keep an eye out for the wonderful gentleman in the panama who visits the queue most evenings. Last time we saw him, he confided that he’d written both the Brahms and the Janáček. We didn’t find out which is his favourite…but we’ll ask next time.

Try not to fall asleep. This can be tricky if you’re lying on your back in a Late Night Prom, and the music is as sublime as a choir of angels. Best idea: don’t lie down. Or take a friend to prod you.

Consider how you’re clothing your lower half. Yes, there will be several people in cycling gear, so don’t worry about lycra. Skirts however can do all sorts of interesting things when you sit on the floor – and you’re likely to be stepping over people who are sitting on the floor, or lying down, on your way to the loos/bar: decide how much you want to flash them.


A silly…not by me


Das machine is nicht fur gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und corkenpoppen mit spitzensparken. Ist nicht fur gewerken by das dummkopfen. Das rubbernecken sightseeren keepen hands in das pockets. Relaxen und vatch das blinkenlights!!!

Ahh. Sweet blinkenlights….

The silence is overwhelming…

We’re back at N’s Dad’s. But it’s not N’s Dad’s house now. It’s A’s, his wife’s. His widow’s. Today we planned a funeral. Not the first time I’ve helped plan a funeral (the first was my Grandmother’s. A different sort of affair – neither Mum nor I were particularly upset: she was 92, and while she was always loving to me, she wasn’t so loving to Mum). Won’t be the last. Will be, like these thing should be, a good send off.

The silence is almost oppressive. No snores from the next room. No Radio 2 filling the gaps. He is not here.  He really is not here. All the medical stuff is gone, at last. All the phone numbers on the board. There’s more boxes of tissues in case of need. The house is full of him, and it’s full of people: but he is not here.

If I Should Go – Joyce Grenfell

If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone
Nor when I’m gone speak in a Sunday voice
But be the usual selves that I have known
Weep if you must
Parting is hell
But life goes on
So sing as well.