Smelly and tired

I arrived in church this morning to discover that we were having one of our periodical ‘get to know you’ weeks where we’re invited to wear sticky name labels. It was tempting to write ‘Sleepy’ on mine; Neither Mr M or myself slept a wink last night. I eventually dropped off, only to wake up in a panic at 8.20 am. For those who don’t know me well, I’ve a half hour walk to church so this was cutting things rather too fine for comfort; ended dashing in hoping that I’d not a) managed to put any clothing on inside out or b) got my skirt tangled up in my undies.

Dozed through the service – only springing to life, relatively speaking, during the gospel – that wonderful passage from John 1 which always brings me close to tears. One great advantage IMO of belonging to a trad quite high up the candle congregation is that it’s possible to have a mini ‘dozette’ relatively unnoticed; you’re unlikely to be exhorted to ‘jump right up…turn around’ or do the liturgical equivalent of the hokey-cokey.

In case you’re wondering where the ‘smelly’ comes in, this was due to my daft attempts at holding back the march of time, which I’ve been blogging about in Greenpatches. Thus it was that I went to last night’s cycle club annual dinner ponging of parfum de takeaway curry et chip shop. Curry mustard and cinnamon powder with a touch of wine vinegar in the last rinse. Not a clever idea. I’ll stick to my more subtle rosemary and sage mix in future.

January brings the snow

according to Flanders and Swann

Shouldn’t complain, with the mild winter we’ve had up to now but…

The heating is on, I’m wearing two pairs of woolly leggings under my jeans and a hot water bottle on my lap. Miffcat Mark Three has the comfy armchair next to the radiator, another hot water bottle and a microwave beanbag puppy. I don’t begrudge her them. The poor scrap’s liver is failing; we really didn’t expect her to still be around by now, but since being prescribed steroids a week ago, she’s perked up quite a bit. She still springs to life when any fish is in the offing (makes giving her her pills so much easier) and wobbles her way through to the kitchen at double speed.

Teaser Tuesdays

At last…I’m reviving the meme orignating from shouldbereading

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for everybody else!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their Lists if they like your teasers!

Today’s teaser

My parents bought the boys a fire engine for Christmas.
At least they waited until they got it outside before filling the pump-action tank with water.
– p36 Wife in The North by Judith O’Reilly

Call The Midwife – Trip down memory lane

Pupil midwife - Mum's casebook 1946-7, Aberdeen Maternity Hospital

Though I watch very little TV nowadays, there are some honourable exceptions and the current drama series ‘Call The Midwife,’ based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, starring Jessica Raine and Miranda Hart is a Sunday evening highlight for me. To be honest, I wasn’t that keen at first, the cynic in me wondering if it would turn out to be a kind of ‘All Creatures Great And Small’-style nostalgia fest, with mums and babies instead of animals. I needn’t have worried. By the end of Episode One I was hooked. By last week’s episode Mr M had got used to full senseround sound effects of women in full second stage labour wafting over into the next room and disturbing his games playing sessions. It really is no holds barred, blood and gore with nary a painkiller in sight, this being the 1950s.

Where memory lane applies is because my own mother was a midwife. The pic above is of her casebook as a pupil midwife in Scotland during the early post-war years. She subsequently worked as a district midwife in Stockport and in a hospital in Nigeria. Finally during the late 1950s as Jennifer Worth was starting out, Mum was a midwife tutor. As was my godmother, one of her close friends.

Mum was always happiest with babies, longed to have her own, which she eventually did, though very late and at considerable danger to her own health; when my youngest brother was born she was in her mid-forties. Finding midwifery impossible to fit in round small children, she was forced to diversify, ending up, maybe rather paradoxically, as a family planning nurse. Much of the latter was in London with places like the Marie Stopes and the Brook Advisory Centre. She wasn’t particularly happy with some of the cases she saw or actions she had to condone there; prescribing the pill or worse advising terminations to girls in their early teens must have gone against the grain for her. Still as she said to me, it might seem strange that somebody who felt called to bring children into the world was now co-operating in preventing them being conceived in the first place, but as someone who’d grown up in poverty during the depression, before the widespread availability of contraception, she’d seen the effect of continual childbearing upon women, often those who were least able to help themselves and wouldn’t wish to go back to those times.

You could tell she missed her midwifery days however. I had a few alarms and excursions during my pregnancies, and although she was naturally concerned (she was my mother after all), I got the distinct impression that she quite relished the excitement. I well remember she and my Dad being called out to meet us at the hospital in the wee small hours to collect our daughter and her watching me disappearing into the labour ward with the obligatory shopping trolley for all my gear. (Poor little Ms M must have thought that babies are bought at the supermarket!). She loved looking after her, but I suspect that Granny would far rather have been allowed in on the act. Just as well she wasn’t. The poor midwife wouldn’t have been allowed to get a word in!

Sadly Mum died nearly twenty years ago now, which makes watching ‘Call The Midwife’ a bit of a bittersweet experience for me. How she would have loved it!

A Solemn Advent

I don’t seem to have got the hang of this Advent lark. OK, Mr M’s back is better. My pins and needles are still there, not helped by another mammoth card-writing session yesterday evening. Still, at least the practicalities of the approaching festive season are under control. So far.

It’s the more…spiritual side that’s lagging behind. I got in this afternoon to find my copy of Retreats Journal waiting for me. So far so good. I logged on with the honest intention of following up some of the excellent resources suggested by the Retreat Association, only to be waylaid by these wholesome chappies, languishing in my google feedreader. I never knew that dairy goods could be so exciting. In the good old days, the nearest to risque you got was a conga line of dancing cows, or Ernie and his ghostly goldtops!

So, I recover from the shock, and try good old Shipoffools Ecclesiantics board for some sound old fashioned theological and spiritual food, only to find them earnestly debating The Solemn Rite for the Lighting of the Advent Wreath. Hopeless. For as any child of the Sixties or Seventies knows, There is only One Rite and it consists of wire coathangers, yards of inflammable tinsel and a complete absence of Health and Safety regulations.

Might as well give up for tonight and concentrate on getting ready for the Church Ladies’ annual Christmas Dinner. Plenty of sustenance there. 🙂


Mr M has managed to put his back out – climbing into bed on Sunday night! We still can’t for the life of us work out exactly what happened. He can get out and about around the house at least – albeit he looks rather like a ponderous, bearded turtle.

I’m positively athletic in comparison – though the aches and clicks remain. (I joked to oldchurch choir director that if she needs any jazzy accompaniment to the stuff we’re doing, just use me as a pair of castanets!). Must admit however, that the thought of the annual Christmas card marathon isn’t an enticing one just now. If this goes on I’m afraid it’ll just have to be a quick scrawl, no news and a New Year’s Resolution to finally get round to doing a proper database so that next year we can do address labels.

Arty crafty Pottering

I could get to like this arty crafty pottering thing. I finally began my Christmas shopping today. Yes, really! Armed with my trusty railcard I made my way down the line to the annual Arts and Crafts Fair at The Lightbox museum and gallery in Woking. It’s a gentle way to ease into the preparations without all the noise and hassle of the mainstream shops. This is the second year I’ve done this. An old schoolfriend has a stall there each year, selling cards and jewellery so it’s a brilliant opportunity to catch up with her and to enjoy some of the beautiful craftwork. As you can see from the video in the link, the place has only been open a few years, but from the look of it is fast becoming a place for all sorts of projects in the local community.

Last year I had to hurry back to a choir practice; this year I’d more time to potter round and explore the other centre exhibits as well. As well as a permanent local history exhibit, this time round, there was a display of Chinese ceramics, (I went round this one before I became too load up with shopping. Can you imagine the bill if my bags got caught in some priceless tea set!). Thankfully, none did, and I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours there, managing to buy a few bits and bobs for various people, including cards, (the one in the picture is one made by my friend). I even had time for tea and a sandwich in the cafe – accompanied by the mellow strains of the Bishop Brown School Steel Band.

Wound my way back down through the shopping centre to the station, by way of the British Heart Foundation shop, amongst others, where I was beguiled and tempted and finally fell to the temptations of a hooked rug kit – Nativity Scene – a snip at £3.99. A snip even without the latching tool, luckily we have a spare at home…somewhere. Whether I’ll get it made in time for Christmas itself is open to debate – maybe Christmas 2012 might be a more realistic guess. Especially as I’ve had my writing hand in a support bandage for the last couple of days. I’ve been having problems with achey wrist, arms and fingers lately. The most likely cause is lugging heavy weights around; my heavy case on retreat and overenthusiastic clutter clearing at home. Or could it be the dreaded RSI? Let’s hope not. Either way, I simply couldn’t resist the kit. The finished wall hanging will go beautifully with the patchwork camel I bought last weekend!