Once upon a time, my face was my fortune, now my face is time. It’s just one extraordinary experience after another. On Thursday last week, I had a long, happy conversation with a group of students in America, face-to-face. I waited in front of the screen which rang until they answered and there miraculously, they were young and smiling and pretty. I was a little surprised at my own daring, but it was fun and lovely to meet them. We talked about William Blake whom they’re studying and what it was like to be a child in the Blitz, which surprised them a little I think and had quite a long question and answer session.
Their tutor is a very old friend of mine and one of the foremost Blake scholars in the World! Hi there Josie! And there she was on the screen too! What pleasures the internet does bring you. When we parted company the students said ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Thank you ma’am,’ I found that really touching and thought what sweeties they were.
“Infamy! Infamy! They’ve all got it in for me!” as Kenneth Williams once, so famously said.
I’m beginning to think that ticket dispensing machines have been warned to make my life as difficult as possible. On Monday I had another run in with another formidable machine, with a will of its own and a trick of throwing my ticket on the floor as though it was having a tantrum.
I was trying to pay a parking fee for the car-park in St Richards Hospital in Chichester, in a well used machine that should have been used to the vagaries of motorists and entirely able to cope with them. But no! This one took exception to everything I did. When I slid the ticket into the slot marked ‘ticket’ it gave a metallic growl and threw it on the floor. I pondered a little, as one does, and tried putting it in the other way round and this time it condescended to accept it, did a certain amount of growling and clicking and displayed the fee. But oh sob and horror, I took too long finding the necessary coins. This time I could almost hear it sighing. There was another prodigious growl and the ticket was thrown on the floor again.
My turn to sigh. I picked it up and carefully put it back in the right way round and inserted my coins feeling quite hopeful. It didn’t work. One of the coins didn’t pass muster and was thrown out into the tray. I hardly need to tell you what happened to the ticket. By this time I was causing a queue and beginning to feel flustered, Quick, Quick, now what? Change the coin, clutch the coins, retrieve the ticket from the floor, start the whole process again gritting my teeth. Pause. More sighs from the machine, various clicks and the occasional growl and oh bliss! the money was accepted and clutching my ticket, I could get back to the car and normal life. Leaving the patient queue to do battle in their turn.
Are you thinking that doing a jigsaw might be fun? Be warned! Fun they might be, but they are devilishly cunning. Once you start, you get hooked, “just a few more pieces” you say and “I reckon that bit would fit in there,” it never does. But by the time you have done battle for 24 hours, you are too addicted to stop.
The wretched thing takes up all the dining room table and can’t be moved. You eat around it and fall asleep next to it and sometimes you even try to read the paper, which it disapproves of seriously, pushing suitable pieces just into your line of vision and flickering tempting colour at you, so that you’re forced to stop what you are doing and pay attention to it.
You drop pieces on the floor in your wild frenzies and then spend hours crawling about on your hands and knees trying to find them. Telephones ring and you don’t answer them. You lose time, friends, your meals and eventually your sanity but you are hooked.
Oh be warned, resist the tempting boxes, leave them on the shelves, or your lives will never be the same again!
This takes the biscuit! or to be more accurate, the McVities Cafe Noir biscuit which I have been addicted to for more years than I can remember. Be warned! Total breakdown approaches!
Or to be more accurate has arrived. The Cafe Noir was the perfect biscuit for a special treat for diabetics, light and crisp and not too sweet, with a delicious coating of coffee icing for a grizzly, old diabetic like me. Not always easy to find but a great treat when I’d discovered a packet on the shelves. And now Woah, Sob, Growl and Groan it’s been changed beyond recognition!
The biscuit is almost exactly the same as every other biscuit, soft and far too sweet. It’s half the size it was, looks like a dog biscuit and doesn’t taste like my favourite biscuit at all, except for the icing. It’s even in a different packet! What on Earth were McVities thinking of?!
I mean look at it!
Puts on hat, leaves house, in high-dudgeon and my Fiat Punto. I might be a long time!