Posts Tagged ‘Jane Austen’

Sitting outside a cafe the other day, enjoying the sunshine, my husband and I watched a chap attempting to parallel park his rather smart car. He made a total hash of it, managing to scrape both wheels along the kerb in the process. He leapt from his vehicle in a state of abject panic, crawled along the pavement, handkerchief in hand and frantically rubbed at the scuffs now apparent on his now not so gleaming alloys. Husband, who also drives a rather smart car, smirked and proceeded to tell me that on meeting a colleague in their office car park recently, the colleague remarked, on noticing husband’s scratched wheel trims:

“I see your wife has been driving the car, then.”

My response to this was not one of outrage, as you may expect. I calmly asked if he had put his colleague straight on this minor detail. Husband shrugged nonchalantly and continued smirking because he knows that I know that he concedes that I am a much better parallel parker than he is. He just won’t admit it. And if it helps him to save face with his co-worker, then who am I to care? – I’m never likely to meet the idiot. The fact that my parallel parking skills were honed because of the demolition of a low ornamental wall while parking nose-in-first during my early driving days is neither here nor there: we all have our flaws.

Husband also knows that I will get him back for this in some shape or form eventually: it’s part of our ongoing battle of wits – the trick is not to get reeled in.

Nevertheless, this got me wondering if I have ever been truly outraged by anything, and of course the answer is yes. Frequently, as it happens, but there is one episode which for some reason, sticks in my head. I’m not usually one to bear a grudge, especially one that lasts for over twenty years but I think you might agree that this one takes the biscuit. Picture if you will, the following scenario:

I was on maternity leave from the way I then earned my living with my louder-than-any one-else’s-wailing-infant in tow.  Son and I had been invited to one of those new mother-baby coffee mornings where you all sit round discussing horrendous birth details, comparing your off-spring’s developmental rate and competing over how much you paid for the Osh Kosh dungarees you squeezed your child into that morning. (Well, we do live in Surrey).

I was taken aback when asked by an immaculately turned out new mother (no sick stains anywhere in sight, brushed hair, clothes that matched – that sort of thing), what my husband did for a living.

I don’t think my out has ever been more raged. In that moment I understood what had compelled Jane Austen to write all those dreary books.

I had never met this woman before and after her opening gambit I rather hoped I’d never meet her again. Annoyingly, due to a severe lack of sleep (which carried on for at least five years), I was unable to come up instantly with a suitably crushing reply, mumbled something about him being in building, and left it at that. Unfortunately for me he works in an area of building where to know one end of a screwdriver from another isn’t a requirement; neither is the ability to put up a set of shelves unless accompanied by a lot of unnecessary swearing and several trips to the DIY store. (With reference to my first paragraph, I think that’s one-all).

However, there is a sequel to that ghastly coffee morning. I did meet four other Mums with whom I hit an instant rapport and who, like me, vowed to never attend another morning like the one we had just suffered. We set up our own independent, exclusive group and met up regularly while our boys and one girl were small, planning outings to the park, picnics in our gardens, celebrating the birthdays as they rolled by. Our infants, now in their early twenties, have all gone their separate and very different ways but still meet up once or twice a year to catch up with each other.  And as for their mothers – well, we all met up recently, as we have done for years – and do you know what? I still only have a vague idea about what any of their husbands do for a living.

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Over the weekend I was challenged by fellow blogger, Lynette D’arty-Cross, to take part in a circulating question and answer game.

It works a bit like a chain letter – which I always diligently followed through as a child and was frequently disappointed when the mountains of promised postcards from all over the world never materialised. (My best total ever was three: all from Cornwall). However, not being one to bear a grudge I’ll be throwing myself wholeheartedly into answering Lynette’s questions as best I can and then compose some of my own.

Here are the rules of the game:

Me and Favourite

Me and Favourite

1. Post these rules.

2. Post a photo of yourself and eleven random facts about you. 

3. Answer the questions given to you in the tagger’s post.

4. Create eleven new questions and tag new people to answer them.

 5. Go to their blog/twitter and let them know they’ve been tagged.

So, here’s the photo. There was no stipulation that it should be current, and anyway, it illustrates one of the answers to Lynette’s questions.

For anyone still with this, here are eleven (I am intrigued to know why eleven) random facts about me.

I am left-handed; I can’t knit and I hate the feel of nylon. (That’s three).

The only word I know in German is Schildkröte. (Tortoise).

A few years ago I met Peter Osgood, my football hero from the seventies. It didn’t matter that he was old. Or shorter than me. He signed my programme. I was excited for days.

High heeled shoes are anathema to me.

I used to collect pigs but got bored with them.

My index fingers are double jointed.

I have never enjoyed a novel by Jane Austen, or the Bronte’s, for that matter. Even Colin Firth in a wet shirt doesn’t do it for me. Sorry. (Does that count as three separate items? Probably not. Oh well).

I want to ride round London in an open-topped bus pretending I’m a tourist.

My favourite chocolate is the green triangle in a box of Quality Street.


And now to Lynette’s Eleven Questions Time….

If you had a chance to go back five years from today, and knowing what you know, what would you tell yourself?

Not to keep to the same lottery numbers – far too stressful remembering to buy the ticket.  Better still, don’t buy a lottery ticket in the first place, EVER.

Who inspires you?

Absolutely everyone I meet inspires in some way.

What makes you laugh?

I can find humour everywhere and rarely go through a day without laughing. Monty Python’s fish slapping dance never fails to make me laugh out loud.

Why do you blog?

To impose self-discipline and a deadline; to meet like-minded people, share ideas and interests and become inspired.

What is your favourite animal?img001 (2)

The elephant. I have a large wooden one on my windowsill.  Here’s one I drew earlier.

What is your favourite travel destination?

Anywhere in France.  Unlike most of my fellow countrymen I genuinely like the French – even the Parisians – I have a sneaking admiration for them. How dare they display such arrogant insouciance in their own city?

Who would you like to meet (dead* or alive)?

Grayson Perry.  For so many reasons, not least because we share a love of Teddy Bears. His is called Alan Measles, and mine is Favourite, looking pristine in the photo above. (He looks nothing like this now). Grayson’s art works are beautiful, interesting and thought-provoking:  everything a work of art should be. For all his cross-dressing, he remains very blokey and is able to hold forth on any subject with sense, sensitivity and humour. Grayson for PM!

*I wouldn’t like to meet a dead person. That would be just weird.

What is your favourite food?

Anything cooked by someone else.

What annoys you?

Dirty plates on the draining board, not in the dishwasher.

If you could change something in your life, what would it be?

The ageing process. So much to do, so much to see, people to meet. Time’s winged chariot and all that.

What do you do to relax yourself?



Now here’s the bit where I cheat a little. I have a list of questions below (yes, eleven of them), but I’m not tagging anyone in particular.  If anyone feels so inclined to answer one or two, or even all of them, I shall be genuinely interested in the response – I don’t want to turn it into an interrogation. I hope this doesn’t mean that Lynette will strike me off her Christmas card list for altering the game. Did I mention that I’m very bossy? Make that random item number twelve, then.

 Eleven Random Questions for anyone out there who wants to be in my gang:

1. If you could be someone else for the day, who would it be?

2. Is there something you’ve been putting off doing, and if so, what?

3. Name the highest place you’ve ever been to.

4. What gets you up in the morning?

5. When was the last time you were embarrassed?

6. If you bought a present for your next door neighbour, what would it be?

7. What do you consider to be the worst form of transport?

8. What was the last live music gig you went to?

9. What is your favourite film?

10. Whose advice do you regularly take?

11. How many different places have you lived in?

So, that’s me done. I shall avoid the number eleven from now on and await responses forthwith.  Humour me!

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