Monday, 29 December 2008

RIP my sweetest friend

M died today, suddenly following a bout of gastro-intestinal stasis (GI stasis). The onset was shockingly quick. It is all surreal. Part of the reason I am blogging this is to pay tribute to a small dearly-loved friend who was a daily companion with whom I spent more time than any other living thing in the past few years. She was a present from my dear S, who has now come home early from a visit to his mum. M was his first pet and she loved him and he did her.

To have a 'wi
ld' animal sitting by you on a sofa, giving you kisses, snuggling, sitting on your feet as you work (how will I work without her with me? She saved me from loneliness many a time...), resting her paw on your hand (as she did for the first time on her last night with me) is an amazing experience borne of trust. She was clever, bright, fun, sweet, gentle, absolutely beautiful, literally softer than silk, loyal and a blessed spirit-fairy-like lapin. I loved her immensely. We both did.

The other reason for me to blog is this: if anyone is Googling GI stasis or anything along the lines of a rabbit not eating or passing waste matter, take my advice and see a vet immediately. I did as soon as it was apparent that M was unwell (she missed an evening meal and I thought she might have some in the night but she had gone into shock by morning)... her decline was extremely quick, as is the way with rabbits.

I really cannot believe it... she was bouncing around at Christmas and lying next to me on the Saturday evening. I took her to hospital Sunday morning after noting she had not touched her evening food. She died at 9.45am today.

I am suspended somewhere else in the land of 'It's a lie'. She was just three-and-a-half and had otherwise been healthy and active.

I will miss her beyond words.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Happy Christmas

Wishing you a peaceful, warm, healthy and happy Christmas/Yule...

Monday, 22 December 2008

The sun always shines?

Well, the days are getting longer now. Yesterday was the winter solstice, unbelievably. Lately, I have craved springtime due to the coldness that seemed to last week after week whereas I have historically craved autumn for as far back as I can remember and been quite satisfied with its drift from cool, bright days to cold, darker ones.

It's not -18C, as it is in some parts of the northern hemisphere, but it's been quite bitter and, yes, that's fine for winter. But it's the first proper season we've had this year, which is why I'm not too pleased with it. Why this one? Why couldn't we have spring? Or summer? Or autumn? I lust for the coolness of autumn when it follows a hot (or even warm) summer, and I quite like summer when it follows a fresh spring where March is windy and April is showery. This year, and last, we had poor summers. It snowed at Easter this year and autumn was just wet, a slow tapering off of the tepid, dank London summer of 2008. Mediocre weather. It's currently mild and actually quite nice (for midwinter). But I'd swap it for four seasons that feel distinct rather than the rainy mono-season we seem to have had for 24 months.

I realise I am rambling rather a lot about the weather. But I am British – what do you expect?

Anyway, all I'm saying is, right, that I like the cold, the wet, the dank, the sun, the balmy breezes and occasional snow. But not in some bizarre random order. And not just the first three for half the year...

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Spring has not sprung...

...but I am currently finishing off an article for the spring issue of a magazine and have just made reference to April 2009 in the text.

It's no wonder I don't know what day it is...

Monday, 15 December 2008

That's when good neighbours become...

Really. I mean. How long can a cold last?

Still, S and I had a superb afternoon and evening at our friends' home yesterday (they are our next-door neighbours). They cooked a delicious three-course Sunday lunch that started at 2pm and finished at about 10.30pm for us and the couple who live opposite. I was dosed up with various remedies, as I was determined that, having missed out on three social occasions due to mister virus, I would not make it four no-shows. And it was only next door.

The great thing is that the hostess wants to cook for us all again. "Let's do this once a month at least," she said. She is a very good cook. Her scallops were delicately browned, the lamb was tender, the frozen berries with hot white chocolate sauce... Mmm. All washed down with some red wine, prosecco, champagne, and eventually, water and coffee. I have to say, though, I slept not. I think it might have been due to the coffee, which I had weaned myself off while on my sleep programme. I will not be touching the stuff again. I don't even really like coffee. Tea, all the way. And water. Plenty of water...

It was one of those afternoons where I realised how much I love the area I live in – it's a part of London where there is a definite sense of community and friendliness (OK, except for GFG, obviously, who has incidentally ceased her noise after I knocked on the door one night and told them to quit the idiocy). So, anyway, six of us sat around the dinner table and laughed and talked about this and that and nothing in particular. When I stayed with my good friend R recently, she said that 'proper' socialising would not occur in the part of north London she lives in; she knows a few people to say hello to, but there would be no lunches and laughs. It did feel different there. It was different. More transient and hurried, somehow. But London is like that: there are pockets of friendliness, and darker places, where you wouldn't want to stop for too long. Of course, there are in-between places and the ones that are constantly changing, changing, changing. These strands keep the city youthful and interesting. I've had tasters of all of these; they make the capital what it is. I think back to the area in which I last lived (near to where I grew up) and recall hearing a scream down the street, which I later found out was a knifepoint attack. I had no idea; I was in bed, it was just a scream; it was not unusual. Then there was the gunman in the house next door. Oh, and the gangsters who left a man viciously dead in a house-cum-marijuana factory nearby. I also recall when the place I grew up in was all dairies and rag and bone men, sweet shops and bakeries and leather goods sellers. It's changed beyond recognition, some would say for the worse.

Most people I know have moved away from where I grew up. Many don't like it any more. I don't know if I will ever go back there, especially to the road I lived in. My memories are too powerful. The one time I did peek down 'my' road and saw my old front garden, I sat in my car and cried at the sight of concreted-over flowerbeds where stunning red roses, bluebells, tulips, snapdragons, stocks, dahlias, crocuses and marigolds had been tended by my parents. There had been flowers everywhere. So cared for, and now: nothing. Just cars, ugly cars, and concrete.
Everyone had flowers in their gardens back then and made time to stop and say hello. We knew all our neighbours, which is why my current fellow road-dwellers are so important to me. If you can talk to, and relate to – and like – the people who share your space albeit a house or two along from your own abode, you feel you are home long before your key turns in your lock...

Thursday, 11 December 2008


My head is full of phlegm. I cannot think. I have done some emailing, a bit of admin, had a work conference call (am working at home) and wrote one Christmas card. I feel too guilty to go to bed, though. And too worried about three looming deadlines.

Sometimes, being self-employed stinks.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Woolworths, old pal

While I waited for the pharmacist at Boots to prepare my penicillin to treat my chest infection (so that explains why the cough has gone on and on...), I wandered over to Woolworths, just for old time's sake (old times' sake?)... Anyway... I went in and had a look around. There was the familiar array of children's toys and games, all bright colours and exciting boxes. Then, there was, of course, the famous wall of Pick'n'Mix with its trays of colourful sugar. I looked at it. It was the same as ever: cola bottles, cola cubes, fudge, toffees, licquorice, chocolate mice, chocolate raisins, fizzy lemon sherberts, pink and yellow twisty things... lots and lots and lots. The rest of the store was nearly bare, stripped of most goods by those eager to get their hands on sale goods before the stores disappear, thanks to the credit crunch, or possibly, due to stupendously bad management. It was sad. It looked neglected, like a home where the residents are moving out swiftly and carelessly.

Visiting my now-local branch of Woolies made me feel somewhat nostalgic, but it is my memories the store in the northwest London high street that I used to visit as a child that evokes a powerful feeling of a time long gone, a largely carefree time. I don't know whether that store is still there but in my mind it is. It had racks of singles – seven-inch and 12-inch versions, albums (on vinyl) and cassettes, too. I used to look at the neatly arranged records and bought my first vinyl disks from there. Woolworths used to be filled with interesting items, the shops were clean, big, organised with items for the home, garden, crockery, books, children's clothes (Ladybird) and games. There was even a cobblers and key cutting service that re-heeled and re-soled shoes for less than £2, not the mad tenner charged in the City these days. It was cared for, it was reliable and you could always go in there for that elusive item. I recall Dad buying blakeys to mend our frequently-worn heels, and tubes of Araldyte, plants, and paint brushes and Cadbury's selection boxes and and and...

People's reaction to Woolworths closing has been largely a sense of sadness that it has to close its doors (and that thousands will lose their jobs). It's one of those stores that has always had a place on most high streets, and has been feature of most of our lives due to catering for children's wants (toys, sweets, music) so well. So, yes, it is like waving goodbye to an old childhood friend with reluctance and a heavy heart. I doubt I'll venture back into Woolies now. I'm all grown up and its shelves are bare. We must go our separate ways.


Monday, 8 December 2008

Still sniffling

I lay in bed last night/this morning, groaning at the tedium of this cold, wondering if I am now suffering a follow-up episode two cold. I mean, how can one cold last so long? I had taken the maximum amount of Lemsip. And still: tickle, itch, sneeze, cough, cough, cough, uggggggggh.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Tis the season to sniffle

Why is it that I have the lergy again? Argh.

And although I feel rubbish and am 'full of cold' as they say in certain parts, it's not enough to block out the stench of the mouse decaying somewhere in the floor/skirting. I am burning a Diptyque candle to mask the smell, but still, ugh.