Sunday, July 29, 2007

Spotted on the Trampoline Yesterday...

And today, I shall be mostly sunbathing and cooking. Probably in equal quantities, as I'm cooking Czech. As every good Czech woman knows, when they cook Czech food, it keeps them in the kitchen for most of the day. As every Czech man knows, this is the whole point of their national cuisine. Today I am cooking the horribly time consuming but incredibly tasty Bramborak. After that I will make kuře with houba, smetana and cibule in the remoska. For afters, almond thins soaked in Grand Marnier and covered with more cream, served with a strawberry granita. It's not Czech, I know I know, but man, is it gorgeous.

It's sunny, I can't believe it.

Summer seems to be looking up somewhat.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Please Remove your Shoes ...

and whisper while you're in here. The day after Suffering Sunday, and I'm still in some agony here. Please readers, next year when I post whoohooing about the brewery down the road having it's open cask day, could you all say "Liana! NO! Back away from the brewery, NOW!". I promise I will take notice. Open cask plus persuasive friends and a rare day of freedom might conspire to allow me to forget quite how shit I feel for days after the event. I would like any faithful readers to link back to this post for me, because I am stupid, and I Will Forget how ill cask beer makes me. By five o' clock yesterday I was practically inside out with puking and sorrow. Luckily I had had a cracking evening. That lessened the pain a tiny teeny bit. Oh yes, a cracking evening. Two hours sleep. And cor.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Song, a Scent and a Memory.

Talking to somebody lovely last week, we swapped our desert island discs. I found this really hard... this weeks D.I.D wouldn't be next weeks D.I.D, and last years held only a couple of keepers. It's all to do with sense of place and emotion isn't it? Aaaand the brand new number one slot this week goes to... Bat for Lashes, Horse and I. What a cracking song. In number two place, hanging on for the last eight years is the double A side from Jeff Buckley with Lover, You Should've Come Over and Last Goodbye. Making a surprise re-entry at number three is Portishead's Sour Times. Number four goes to Stipe and Hersh's Ghost, a song never far from any of Pesks gramophones. At number five, Massive Attack's Angel is a non mover (as usual), and at number six Carole King sings the Sunday morning anthem, So Far Away. Number seven holds The Doobie Brother's What a Fool Believes, for the simple fact that it makes Pesk dance like a loon and grin, even when she is feeling like poo. Finally at number eight, holding on, is Iva Bittova's Uspavanka, for reasons I just can't go into. Or can I? Ok. I saw it first on some Czech music channel. Black and white, a bus full of gypsy children and a beautiful violinist singer. I love that song. The Buckley, Portishead and Massive Attack traces back to a beautiful and doomed love affair in the late nineties. For a time I couldn't bear to listen to them, now they just give me a reminder of how glad I am that I had such love for a while. Bat For Lashes is newly discovered and I adore it so much. Carole King is good to hear mixed in with the crackleSwish of The Observer.

Scent is much the same for me. I have a little trick with perfume. A new love affair, or a holiday, or a major event, is always, always marked with a fresh perfume. I graduated to the scent of Ghost, I walked through That Love Affair wearing Rochas' Tocade, and Prague is always glad to meet me in Donna Karan's Cashmere Mist. Belgrade, and it's Prada, absolutely. (Even if it was described by a dear friend as 'pungent'). I went to Cambridge once in Paul Smith's Woman, but I don't intend to repeat that particular experience. It's good though... a song, a scent, both bring the past back into sharp focus. It's as though my memories are kept under wraps until another sense, hearing or smell, snaps them back to the surface.

I wonder which perfume is next...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

And so it goes.

I think I've mentioned before about the patients I have that are often near to tears (please people, avoid the obvious inference). You can tell when they sit down how close to the surface their emotions are. A____ came today, a really sweet patient I've had for almost a year. Come in, take a seat, how are you is the stock welcome to all my patients from me and impersonal as it is, it's sometimes it's the cue for a wobbly chin. A____ was really upset. Married 55 years, her husband doesn't beat her anymore, but only because she begs him, tells him that she is too old and frail now. He sends her to the hospital ten miles away with only the exact bus fare, nothing extra for a cup of tea. I wish I was dead, she tells me. What to do? Anything I say sounds crap. Five minutes per patient, five minutes per patient. I took five, asked about her children then counselled her on approaching her daughter. He listens to all her phone calls at home, apart from when he is sleeping underneath the newspaper. She can't make phone calls without his consent. Once, when she was younger, he broke her arm.

So, to the elderly people who notice my lack of a wedding ring; before you start in on the lecture I hear so often about youngsters not realising that you have to 'work at a marriage', look at that case.
I caught up with her ten minutes later in the corridor and sat for a couple of minutes, then gave her a hug. She kissed me and thanked me. For what?

The waste of that life makes me want to rage.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I Don't Belize it

First day yesterday working at the fruit stall. Absolutely, totally, brilliant. Bagging up fruit and veg, breathing the fresh air, running back and forward with sacks of potatoes to customers cars as they pull into the layby. Everything sold is grown by the farmer that runs the stall, a lovely woman who ran off to Belize at 18 to attend an army training course, and still lives there each winter in a mad house with five street dogs. A woman with an MA in Latin American politics and geography, she is really good fun, and we nattered all day as hungarian fruit pickers traipsed backwards and forwards with fresh fruit punnets. The weather could be better, but you can't have it all I guess. Feels like I do at the moment. The beer festival at the weekend, the Fish + Fish friend + Fish daughter are visiting, and school is out for summer. Hurrah!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sing Sultanas, Sing Sultanas to the King of Kings

Pesk - anyone want a slice of cake?
Wibs - yes please.
Bonny - has it got hosannas in it?
Pesk - ?
Bonny - hosannas, does it have hosannas in it?
Wibs - it's lemon cake.
Bonny - yes please then.
Pesk - ?
Wibs - she means sultanas.
Bonny - yep.

It's a parallel universe in here, I'm sure of it.
Crash Team Racing

Took the girls to see some stock car racing last night. We sat in the middle of great fat tyres set into grass, guzzlemunched on hamburgers and full fat coke then waved our flags as the contenders whizzed past. Bonny was a bit prim lipped at first. Look at the pollution! she said, as massive articulated truck cabs zoomed and screeched around our corner, belching great fat gouts of black smoke into the air. She soon got into the swing of it though, yelling and woohooing, all thoughts of saving the earth went to pot as she screamed out for Joe 90 to COME ONNNNN!.

The skydivers didn't make it, it was too windy and then airstrip was a bit soggy anyway they said. Ah well. What a great time we had anyway. Two artics had a huge smash into the crash barrier (no one hurt) and Bob had to be manoevred out of his car by paramedics (broken ankle). We left early at 11.15 after a teenager got stuck in her mini, smashed into by several others. I think things like this bring out the worst in people. Every crash brought huge waves of people from all over the stadium to rubberneck in case there was any gore. At one point Wibs said quite loudly, God how disgusting. But that was at me taking pictures of drivers bottoms as they attempted to fix the rope.

We also left before the fireworks and the Caravan Destruction Derby, which was a shame. I might've leapt over the barrier and taken an axe to the caravans myself.

Marlon Dingle made an appearance, and Bonny swooned as he told her what a beautiful name she had. Cain Dingle is at the next meet. My Emmerdale cup runneth over.

Both Wibs and Bonny are making plans for the next outing there. We will buy flasks and folding chairs and take a picnic they eagerly suggested as I drove home, ankle deep in mud with my teeth chattering. Marvellous.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Oi, Mush.

This blog is for me, to remind me when I need it.

It's school report time... Wib and Bonny brought theirs home this afternoon. Some choice excerpts...

- In a grey old world, Wibs certainly adds a little colour to the school. Not one of the crowd, she is 'happy in her skin' and I shall miss her.

- Wibs has been a pleasure. I can always rely on her approaching a task from an unexpected yet brilliant angle to produce work of a high standard.

- I hope Wibs keeps her quirky writing style - she is always interesting to read, and will certainly achieve a (rare) level 5.

- Bonny has great imagination. Her stories are a joy to read.

- Bonny is kind and has many friends. She has great empathy for others.

- when Bonny is not drawing or painting, she has her head stuck firmly in a book. No wonder her imagination is so vivid.

And this morning, I woke to this, stuck right where I'd see it -

And the point of this pile of braggardly mush, is this.

As parents, and especially as single parents, we beat ourselves up. We never have enough money to give our children the things we would wish to treat them to. We worry constantly that we didn't do enough, weren't there enough, didn't take sufficient notice. We rail and tear our hair, that we haven't done it right, that we could've done better and now it is too late. We see other children whose hair is neater, clothes are ironed better, shoes are polished more brightly, and we chastise ourselves and swear we will do better. I have a close friend who does exactly the same as I do. I am sure many of us do. Yet together, we have managed to raise, pretty much singlehandedly, (while working and often studying) six fantastically bright, happy, secure kind and imaginative children. So to all the other hardworking, loving, exasperated single parents, I say well done us. We are brill.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


The elderly gent who lived next door died a couple of weeks ago. He'd lived here for decades, and his back garden was used for the purpose the council intended, to provide a large vegetable plot. A market gardener all his life, Joe set it out with military precision. Raspberries at the back, potatoes following, onions, garlic, carrots and finally, pea nets marking the edge of the border.
His wife, Winnie, has not been home since his funeral, and daily I gaze out of Elle's bedroom like the pregnant mother in Rapunzel, craning her neck to see the vegetables from her window, at the chickweed and rough grass that is steadily encroaching. The onion leaves are mustard yellow and wilting. Rain rotted perhaps, or just desperate to be dug up. The last time I spoke with Joe just a few weeks ago, he'd placed a tupperware bowl full of raspberries for my children on the hedge which joins our properties, and told me, matter of factly that he had lung cancer. "Ah well, I've had a good innings" he said. "We'll just see how long they can stave it off, nowt else to do lass". Winnie smiled by his side.
There's a special kind of stoic about old English people. They accept things, and do the best they can with what they have. Old people in general maybe.

The rain has half destroyed the crop of potatoes in the field behind our gardens too. Every day, the farmer comes with his tractor and his mate and they rattle back and forwards, desperately digging them all mechanically, and then a big motorised escalator style thing raises them up and riddles out the earth before depositing them into a lorry that trundles alongside. When I was 16, I worked in a potato field, much like this one (could've been this one) and a lone tractor dug while teams of us ran from one side of the field to another, filling supermarket type baskets then dropping them and running to the other side, where we'd start again as the tractor came back. Another person tipped the potatoes into a huge trailer. Times change. We'll have a huge glut of potatoes, cheap as (chips?) anything, and then there'll be a dearth, and they'll be outrageously expensive.

The rain is relentless. It reminds me of when we were in Prague, in 2002 for a few months. At night it tipped down, ferociously, and we sat in bars, steaming ourselves dry as we drank vodka and joked about the 500 year flood. It wasn't a joke, it happened shortly after, and it all but destroyed many villages, towns and cities. Germany had some of it too, and responded with typical German vigour, closing down the borders with the Czech Republic. As though by nipping off the tide of Czech refugees, they could stem the flow of flood water. Communism doesn't exist there any more, but it felt like it for a few weeks.

People get on with it though don't they? I'll ask Winnie when she gets back, if anything can be saved, or if we've lost the plot entirely.

I must get on with going to work.
Strawberry Surprise.

I have another job! Oh yes, the universe provides indeed it does. The person that offered me the work seemed afraid to say it, lest I shriek "I beg your PARDON?!" No chance. I snapped her hand off. As of next Wednesday, I shall be working selling strawberries and raspberries at a stall by a farm, on the coast road. What larks. It pays me 15p an hour less than I earn at the hospital, with no hierarchical aggro. At least I hope not. I can wear jeans and a teeshirt and hopefully sunglasses as I wrap parcels of strawberries and read my beloved books between passing cars. Marvellous! I can't wait. I'd almost do it for free.

In other news, my ex husband has split from his partner of three years. The children are more concerned that she has taken the kitten which was theirs, back to Dudley than the fact that they won't see her again. We can't take the cat, can't possibly offer another feline sacrifice to the Dog. The cat we already have is clinging on for dear life as it is, spending more than half her life balancing precariously on top of bookshelves, lamps and cupboards as the whiskered woofing one stands guard waiting to grab her in the jaws of instant death. I must say though, I am very glad he has ditched the Pole Dancing Pikey, as my patience was wearing thin. Constantly blowing cigarette smoke out from between teeny, brown and sharp teeth, I marvelled that the man I used to love (ten lifetimes ago) could be happy with this asinine trout. Aaaaanyway. So, on the same day, he got evicted. This poses more of a problem, as we pretty much share custody. I shall now have to force the kids out of bed at 6.00am two days a week, and shall rarely get a weekend off unless I park him in the house whilst I go gallivanting*. He's over for dinner tonight. It starts already.

Bloody men. Still, strawberries! Yum.

* obviously, it's more of a problem for him than me. Just adding that, as anyone might think I'm totally without heart**.

** But then again...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Here's looking at you kid...

I love site meter. It tells me who is looking at this blog, why they're looking, where they live (roughly - it thinks I live in - alternately Mansfield and Rotherham. I don't. I would be more miserable (if possible) if I did). It tells me where they clicked into Pesk from, if it was through Google, it tells me what they were searching for. The latest searches - 'venn diagrams + restaurants'. 'Hard to pronounce Czech words'. 'What snails eat' (everything in my opinion - don't get me started). 'Pesk for free' - (eh?) and 'Tiny Gatling'. They're not too bad - a friend had someone to her blog through the search tag 'dog sex videos', so it could be much worse. Almost as disconcerting as that, is the fact that they were able to arrive at her blog from that tag. Brrr.
Someone in Manchester has searched using my full name on Google. I know who that is, as the unusual isp gives it away. A couple of Norwegians have arrived at my blog, probably because of the post I made about how awful their hometown is. Site meter doesn't tell me if they were affronted or not.
We should have a feedback button. 5 stars for I like this, 4 for could do better, 3 for distinctly average, 2 for mildly offended and 1 for How bloody dare you, you sanctimonious foulmouthed shit.

Work today. Oh hurrah.
Dogs Dinner

Look at this. Notice it's an American company. I think you'd get stoned to death in Europe if you walked a dog wearing that.
Quite right too. I sometimes think our American cousins are - quite aptly - barking mad.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The East Wind.

You may feel a draught. Today, everyone here has a huff. The fence inspector has a huff that I was not in on Friday when he wanted to inspect my fence, the dentist had a huff because his assistant told him he was wrong (he was) and she was right (she was - this doesn't fill me with confidence as she is about 10 years old with lots of lipgloss). The left side neighbours are keeping Hairy Eddie away as he has not been castrated and so Hats has a huff because she misses wagging her bottom at him all morning. Bonny has a huff because she doesn't like 'grey smoothies' (blueberries and banana with honey) and Wibs has a huff because Bonny got fresh orange instead. I got a huff because blueberries don't come cheap, then I got a bigger huff after mowing half the lawn and running out of petrol. The fence inspector says that he cannot be expected to visit one fence in TinyVillage when he has lots of work in other places, and he would be in effect wasting his time. I apologised for having a job (quite huffily) and told him that I had cancelled the appointment they sent because I would be at work. I had informed them when BOOKING the appointment that I was at work. Clearly there is a communication breakdown between himself and the agency that took the booking, I said. Huffily. And that I think to say that he would be wasting time inspecting my fence is very rude. I didn't say that, but my huffy tone may have intimated it.

I don't even work on Mondays, and I have caught everyone else's huff it seems.

I shall now go huffily, to pick my children up from school.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Patients dear, Patients.

Clinic this morning was delightful. Many patients I haven't seen for a couple of months, all full of questions. How is the dog, the family, have we had floods, did my trip to Aberdeen go well? For a bunch of pensioners, the memories they have are startling and sharp. They are kind. Before I did this work, I would never have imagined that I would feel so fond of elderly people. Having been on the admin side of so many grumps on the telephone for more than a year, these people it seems are transformed by the sight of a uniform, a smile and a conversation which stretches out for months at five minutes a go. My regulars are all smiles, and me too. How cheering they are. "Ooh, you have lost weight!" "You have done your hair differently, I like it!" "Come dancing with me sweetheart".

Maybe it's the human face rather than someone on the end of a 'phone, I don't know. But they are kind, and for this I am grateful and happy.
Mind you, had B____ in. Deaf and utterly without social skills, he wears enormous glasses. B____ is almost exactly like the dad from the Royle Family will be in twenty years time. "How are you B____?" I asked.


My head snapped up like a puppets. Sniggers from the corridor and a muffled good Christ from the phleb next door. I must've had the broadest grin. Look on the bright side B____ I said. At least you DO wake up to do it".
I like B_____ as well. He doesn't much give a fig, and that's terribly freeing I think.

I used to work with deafblind students, mostly with learning problems. There are many similarities between the elderly and those students. Mostly in that no one has time for them, and no one, if they can help it, touches them. Imagine that... to be so isolated and have people avoid you. I walk the patients back up the corridor arm in arm, I usually put an arm around their shoulders when i fetch them into clinic. It stretches me past the requisite five minutes often, but meh.

In other news - a colleague told me that when her dog was on heat, a rottweiler that she'd never seen before climbed up her trellis and in through the kitchen window to ravish her dog. I can't bear it.

And the meeting was ok. Air clearing, and ok.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


I am rediscovering the magic of party shuffle while sitting here this morning. Better than daytime television. Well at least better than Jeremy Kyle, though yesterday's Phil and Fern gave me an unexpected Rupert Everett bonus, so I'm glad that I saved my scorn and didn't iTune 'til today.
I'm talking to the Fish about acupuncture, and party shuffle is flinging some marvellously unexpected treasures at me. As we scoff about homeopathy (definition - throw a bottle of Stolichnaya into the sea at Portsmouth and then fly to Manhattan Island , scoop up some water in a shot glass and expect to feel pissed), the 12" of Human League's Love Action beeps jollily at me. The thing about party shuffle, is that you hear things that you ordinarily wouldn't choose. I had been giving The Hours album a listen (not bad. Not brilliant, could improve with more listens) but Human League cheered me right up, despite me not liking it at the time. It is followed by the Cure's Cut Here, and Frank Black's Lone Child.
Someone told me once of a game that you can play with iTunes. Ask it a question and press shuffle, and the song is your answer. So, I think, how will the meeting go tomorrow? Answer - Death in Vegas' - Hands around my Throat.

Rubbish game.
Leave Box Empty if not Applicable.

To the person who tried and failed to contact me yesterday - there's my email address over there on the right.
Fences, Landlords and Meetings

Called the landlord about the fence a few weeks ago now. There is a field at the bottom of my huuuuge garden, and when the tractor comes round every few weeks, it reverses and turns, backing into my fence more often than not, stabbing little holes in it with the big bouncy metallic bridal train it pulls along. I said to the landlord that it is full of holes after the last ploughy type activity, and there was much huff and bluster. "Well I don't see why we should pay for it! Who is the farmer?". I have no idea, I said. But I am not home Thursdays or Fridays, so if you come and have a look, don't come then. Got a letter this morning saying that they will come on Friday. To look at it. I rang them back and said that I have a dog on heat and it needs doing quickly. I could hear myself becoming unreasonable. Surely not Liana, you say, you, unreasonable? It's true alas. I am getting a big bruise on my forehead these days.
Boss called - can we have a meeting. Bugger. I was thinking of resigning with immediate effect yesterday. Looks like I'll have to go in after all and endure this meeting. Unless they re-expand my job, I will have to go anyway - at least this gives me a chance to put my side of things across. Feeling impotent about life changes is such a negative thing, this lets me be proactive (jesus, I'm already into bullshit bingo). The Fish says that the universe is backing me into a corner so that I have to alter the bad. It's true possibly. I hope I don't puncture a fence as I'm reversing.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Time of the Season

I wonder if Hats and I are on some kind of psychic wavelength... after last nights dream, while walking the girls to school I notice (don't ask, it's gruesome) that Hats is experiencing her first heat cycle. Googling tells me that it lasts almost a month, but that I shouldn't have rushed home like a distressed maiden aunt with the vapours, as she will not allow a male dog to mount her for the first ten - twelve days of the cycle. After that apparently she will let any old mongrel in to have a go. The slapper. It lasts approximately twenty days. The website tells me that the most noticeable sign during this time, is that male dogs will hang around the house.
Oh please.
I can't get her spayed yet because a) I don't have £150 and b) during the cycle, if on heat, complications are a distinct possibility.

So, can I take her for walks or not? Do I have to carry a gallon of icy water in a bucket everywhere we go? I can't see either of us being willing to forego our three mile walks. Especially when I noticed a very handsome Italian Spinone on the last one. Poor Hats. Poor me.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Welcome Dreams.

Following on from my camping trip with Johnny Depp, I am pleased to report that I spent a significant portion (fnaar) of last night with Rupert Everett, having jolly fun on a sofa. The dream was incredibly realistic, so much so that I still have a huge grin on my face. Of course this is not my first dalliance with Dame Everett, he kissed me once. During waking hours too. I know, it's incredible - picture if you will, a 20 year old shop girl sent off to fetch milk belting down Oxford Street, turning into St Christopher's Place and subsequently running straight into a tall man in a long brown mackintosh. He grabbed my shoulders and said "My Darling - you can't come in here, we're making a film" then held my face in his hands and kissed me. It was him, filming Dance with a Stranger with Miranda Richardson in the mid eighties. He was straight then you see. I have hope that it wasn't our brief snog that sent him across to the other side.

I have the poster of the film in my bathroom these days. It was probably seeing that while brushing my teeth that set me off.

Am going to stare at it for another half hour before I go to bed tonight.