Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Launch

"The Doll Makers" was launched succesfully last night - the bottle of champagne broke first time - and off it sailed to the bookshops.  Pen gave us an informative and very funny talk and then took questions from her audience.   As she said, she couldn't have picked a worse day if she had tried - snow sweeping down from the North, a freezing London, and a 24 hour tube strike!

However, she got a good audience and the room was full.   ALCS did her proud - and what a lovely venue it is for a launch.   We met some interesting people, including Sue, a Theatre critic, and a young Polish-American student over here on a semester of studying Brit culture. He is especially enjoying the Brit Comedy module.  And we re-met Janet who made the amazing Lilac Tree Farm wedding cake.  When not making wedding cakes for the children of her friends she has some extraordinary connection with a UN type of organisation.   I would love to have a talk with her about it, but haven't had much of a chance yet.

She has had the sort of life that would make for a fascinating autobiography.

Sue and I were swapping our current reading and I was able to recommend Peter Godwin's 'When a Crocodile Eats the Sun', and she has recommended something called 'Brixton Beach' by Roma Tearne.

It is a brilliant title (and yes, old geography teacher, I do know that Brixton does not have a beach).

Julie wasn't there this year, but she did text Pen from India.

We got back to our seaside home about 9.30.   I am now hoping to get out on the work with Audrey this morning - although it looks awfully cold out there.   And must ring Louise, the young pioneer sister, about our working together this week too.

Monday, 29 November 2010


Captain Butterfly's blog for yesterday - sobs incoherently - sanderling - catching, washing and EATING a mussel... NO!!!!

Was it Maurice?

If so, what a tragic end!  And one that I assured my blog would not occur.

Is it all over?

The problem is that I can't tell one mussel from another and - oh, wait a minute, there is some kind of protest massing on the green outside our balcony.   It seems to be a mob of mussels surging up from the beach, with placards.   Oh dear - they are accusing me of Disrespect for Diversity (as I have failed to note how interestingly diverse mussels are) and are threatening me with the Thought Police.  Gulp. 

I am too old for the Re-Education Camps.  And I haven't got enough brain cells left to be successfully re-educated anyway.  Oh dear.  This is a horror.  They must all have been working away on their little waterproof computers when I put those foolish words on my blog.

The only consolation is that that looks very like Maurice at the head of the demo.

So my plotline can continue as planned, if I ever get back to the beach.  

Maybe I could have a few words from the balcony.  It is a bit of a Romeo and Juliet situation in a way.

Thick frost this morning, but our Gallant Leader Captain Butterfly still plans to get us up to London for the book launch, in spite of flakes of snow falling on rails and a 24 hour tube strike.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

No snow yet

...although I could feel it getting colder as I sat in the Kingdom Hall this morning.  I sat with Christine and Louise today.  The public talk was about why we must not let ourselves be resentful - and a timely reminder from our Creator that love "does NOT keep account of the injury". 

We live in a world that encourages us to memorialise the wrongs done to us, and to hold grudges.  Well on a somewhat selective basis admittedly.  So we need to be sure that 'the spirit of the world' is not affecting us.

But I was so pleased to hear it as I had been agonising over things last night and finding it difficult to sleep.  I heard just what I needed to hear.  Now - can I apply it?

I found Captain Butterfly had gone to the beach when I got back.  He is a hardy soul, especially as he is just back from the tropics.  I asked him to say hello to Maurice (so I can further my plotline) but I think he forgot.

Jackie was round yesterday night for curry - courtesy of my reliable Madhur Jaffrey recipe book - and all went well.   Tandoori chicken plus dahl plus rice and small small things.  

Jean and I only managed half an hour on the doors yesterday morning, but i have been quite busy answering a set of interesting and complex Bible questions from Anne from Capetown.  I still haven't finished answering them all.

But I am so pleased that it is me she asks (on account of my being a Jehovah's Witness).

Penny's book launch tomorrow!   The three of us are going - weather permitting.

And we have been asked up North for the holidays.  And will go, once again - weather permitting.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Winter seems to have arrived

Very very cold today - although also very beautiful.  Blue skies, white clouds, the Autumn light from the low sun lighting up all the remaining colours in the leaves.  We went to Pagham harbour this afternoon.  It was quiet and empty - not many birds around.  The sea in the inlets was an amazing blue.  Col took some photos which should appear on his blog in time.  Audrey and I were out on the door to door preaching work this morning, though not for all that long as it was so cold.   Jacks is coming for dinner tomorrow and I have the chicken in its marinade.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Anyone for toast?

The parking machine at the hospital asked us to drive safely, thanked us for paying, and told us to have a nice day.  In fact it did everything but offer us tea and toast.  Oh and it also lifted its bar and let us out of the carpark once we paid it - which is all we wanted of it really.

Just a routine appointment for the Captain - and all is well.   We then went to browse in Lakeland and bought some teaspoons and a couple of cornish pasties for lunch.  The pasties were from the Cornish pastie shop - and not from Lakeland.  I also browsed in the Heart Foundation shop.   It always seems as if Chichester would be a good catchment area for Barbara Pym books, but there were none.

This is supposed to be an internet diary so I am trying to think what I have been doing since Sunday.

Very little really due to arthritis. Though I did manage to go out on the work with Audrey on Tuesday - with the Captain very kindly chauffering us as I was not able to drive.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Roger at the Hall!

Roger came to the Kingdom Hall with me on Sunday - and we stayed for the whole meeting - which was lovely of him.   The Public Talk was about how to bring up children with a strong Christian faith in spite of the immense peer pressures from 'the world' to go to the other way.   And there was a lovely Watchtower about how Jesus has always helped God's congregation - in his prehuman existence, when he was on the earth, and afterwards.   Very reassuring in the face of all the horrors.

Roger arrived for lunch yesterday and Col got back at teatime.  All the Shoal seem to have got safely back home after a wonderful holiday.  He was very happy and even went on a Metal Detecting outing yesterday morning. So Roger had the choice of treasure hunting in local fields or hunting for spiritual treasures.

And he chose the spiritual treasures.

We all met up for a  Sunday roast dinner at The George and Dragon.   Roger left in the afternoon. We hope to see him again in January.   Anne joined us on Saturday night, by Skype from the Cape. It was just like old times in Expatland.

I managed to get out on the work with Jean Saturday morning, although only for half an hour, and I then took her to Ken's and back so he could photocopy the Watchtower article.

So a busy weekend - in my terms - and I am glad to have a day off today.  Especially since my arthritis is playing up and walking is very painful.   But I have some wonderful brain stretching questions in from Anne about the book of Isaiah that I want to research and answer today.   So must get both brain cells in gear and peruse the wonderful Watchtower Bible commentary.

Bea emailed the cousins group to say that things are happening re her move - and sent the new address.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Another cunning plan bites the dust

Took Audrey to the bank and shopping this morning.  We got to the first shop when I suddenly remembered I hadn't put the parking disc in my car window!  'You'd better hurry' said the lady in the shop, 'they are very fierce in that car park'.  I didn't know i could still move so fast - and I got there in time.

We then did some Not At Homes, and I did a couple of return vists, and found the chap in again.  He says I can call back with the December magazines.

Col Skyped me from the island, looking very brown and relaxed.   On the last day, after his diving is finished, he always has a massage at the very swish Beauty Shop.   Now I thought I had emailed the island this year and ordered a nice sensible motherly masseuse well into her sixties for him.  But judging by all the 'it was wonderfuls' and 'lovely young girls' etc etc ,  my email was shot down somewhere over the Indian Ocean and my cunning plan has failed.

Ah well, back to home and real life tomorrow.  No lovely young girls around here (well apart from myself of course).    I hope I will be too busy to worry about boats sinking and planes crashing etc etc, as Roger will be arriving for lunch and I must get out on the field service in the morning.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Rained off

Two more sleeps before my Captain returns.  I had better get those choc ices eaten up (destroy the evidence).

 He has had problems with 2 cameras, but still has amazing photos on the blog.

I managed a swim this morning, and met Louise at the Hall in the afternoon.  However, we were rained off after 20 minutes. It was pouring down - cats, dogs, the whole works.

Am now getting ready for the meeting - back out in the rain.   I couldn't get by without the teaching though.   What was it that the crowds said of Jesus when he was on the earth?   Never has another man spoken like this.

Same same today.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Captain Camera

A stream of wonderful underwater photos continues to appear in the Captain's Log.  I Skyped him today and we had a brief chat.  He seems tired but happy, but also sad that he only has a few more dives left.
I puffed up and down the slow lane in the swimming pool for 45 minutes or so, but saw no exotic fish.
I also shopped - got the stuff in for the weekend - the return of the Captain plus the return of Roger.
Am just off to Jackie's for dinner.  It is a cold and stormy night.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Back to my diary

I think I'll give up the diving and get back to the day job.  I spoke to Captain Scuba yesterday by Skype and he assures me they haven't seen any scampi yet.

I am not so sure - I know those fabulous Maldivian buffets well.

The curries!

I lunched off crisps and a choc ice.   With my Better Half away I am behaving like a child let loose in a sweet shop.

Audrey and I did half an hour this morning, on her magazine route, plus one my return visits (not at home).  I left a 'Does God really Care?' brochure with this lady many months ago, but have never found her at home since.
We then went on to visit Maggie, who, thank goodness, is doing very well after her op.

Just off for my swim and then its a quiet day in with (hopefully) some studying and a big Kitchen clean up

Sunday, 14 November 2010

My first dive - with lots of fish (and chips)

How can I compete with the Captain's Log!   All those glowing photos from the Indian Ocean. The corals, the feather stars, the fish, the colours...

Has the time come to tell the story of MY first dive?   Maurice the Mussel might like to hear it anyway, so here goes.

As the warm turquoise waters of the English Channel close over my head, I adjust my face mask and swim for the coral reef and all its promised glories.

Then - and this is a dream come true for me dear readers - I find myself part of a strange new world, full of colours and shapes I could only dream about before.   I swim through a vast herd of kippers and marvel at the glistening golden brown of their smoky bodies, as the hot tropic sun plays on them through the blue water.   Then, suddenly, I arrive at the reef itself - that coral castle, a monument to the tireless energy of millions and millions of tiny fish fingers.

Startled, a shoal of whitebait dart away from me like streaks of pale fire, and their attendant lemon slices scatter in panic; while beneath me a shoal of scampi roll majestically by, their orange coats a near perfect camouflage in this sandy underwater world.

Alerted by a panicked wokful of sweet and sour shrimp paddling past, I turn to see a large codfish in hot pursuit.  This is wonderful.  At last I may be able  to solve a marine problem that has baffled the experts for years.   Just how do they keep their batter so crispy with all this water down here?

Fearlessly, I move forward to examine the monstrous creature, and also, truth be told, to have a quick read of its newspaper.   But - with the sinking of heart and sharp intake of breath that only a fellow diver will understand - I realise that there is something bigger and infinitely more menacing lurking in these coral waters.

OH NO...  its my old geography teacher.

Now I am going to have to spend the rest of my day writing out a thousand times that there are no coral reefs in the English Channel.

I hope the nun who taught us biology isn't going to turn up next.

Friday, 12 November 2010


The rain continues during the Circuit Overseer's visit, putting me in mind of a poem/verse that i came across on a trip to South Island New Zealand many years ago.  The Captain and I were young then.  We drove all the way down the West Coast - rain forest to the left of us and beautiful Cornish style beaches to the right.  We hadn't realised how remote and unpopulated it was.  We drove for hours and hours and I think we only saw one other car.  Of course that was many years ago.

RAIN by Anonymous

It rained and rained and rained
The average fall was well maintained
And when the tracks were simply bogs
It started raining cats and dogs
After a drought of half an hour
We had a most refreshing shower
And then most curious thing of all
A gentle rain began to fall
Next day but one was fairly dry
Save for one deluge from the sky
Which wetted the party to the skin
And then at last the rain set in.

Still, after all those years in the desert, i am not complaining.  I love the greenness, and the different moods of the weather and the light on the English Channel.   I drove along the Sea Road with Audrey today and we noticed the wonderful light on the sea. 

An interesting morning out. I found someone in I have been looking to find again for over a year.   He took another publication.   I got a definite: I don't want you to call any more - from someone else.  And then I distinguished myself by mistaking someone's boyfriend for their son...

What can I say - beyond  Sorry?

So a mixed morning.  Then I took Audrey shopping and the rain was just starting as we dashed back to the car.

Jacks is coming over for dinner tonight.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

The light on the Channel

The monsoon has suddenly eased off and the sun is starting to come through - the light on the wild waves of the Channel is so beautiful I wish I could put a video of it up.  It is one of those Paradise earth moments.

Stormy weather

Its as stormy as I've seen it here today.  The Channel is foaming, the tide is staying in, the rain is almost horizontal at times.  The sea road must be well flooded by  now.   I did try to go to the Hall this morning - got all kitted up - but was almost swept off my feet by the wind as I tried to struggle to my car. 

So I gave up and retreated inside.  Its not possible to go door to door in this anyway.

I must struggle out to the meeting tonight though - and the second Circuit Overseer talk.

Spoke to Col this morning on Skype - and we have emailed.  The small island which sits almost on the equator, is in its full blazing sunshine once again, so maybe their monsoon has arrived here.   I set my as yet unpublished Dive thriller on the island. 

If I were younger and my back wasn't hurting - and I was sure i could stay on my feet - I would have gone down to the beach and watched the waves close up for a while.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

A migration

Captain Butterfly has migrated to warmer climes - with his Shoal.  I am counting sleeps until the great circle of life turns again and they all swim back home.  Just talked to him on Skype. He seems very happy.

I will be glad when he is back though.

Maggie and were out this morning.  It was very cold and we were on a difficult road (for the two of us) with lots of steps.   Not many good calls.   Went back to Maggie's with Barbara and Beryl afterwards.  Got back feeling very tired - back aches, head aches.   Took paracematol.

Went to meet Louise, a young pioneer sister, as arranged and had a good hour and a half with her which has made me feel much better.  I feel as if Jehovah has very very kindly cheered me up, éven though I did not do anything wonderrful on the doors for Him today.

Missed the Mark Twain short story that Captain B had carefully set up a reminder for, but was out.

We had our first Circuit Overseer talk last night.  His theme is basically keep awake, dont get distracted, not at this time in human history when a rescue is so close at hand.

We got a letter from a local Estate Agent today asking if we would like to sell our flat, as they have a client waiting.  Unusual letter to get in today's property climate, but we don't want to sell anyway.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The feathers of the willow

We came across a  'feathers of the willow' corner of Swanbourne Lake (see the poem 'November' in previous blog).  We went there this afternoon as it is probably a last chance to see the tender glowing colours of Autumn in their glory.  High winds are forecast for tomorrow so I think most of the remaining leaves will be blown away.   Already you can see a lot of trees in skeletal shape, with a surviving nest showing up here and there.

What a different feeling the human skeleton evokes - for all that it is a miracle of engineering.  But then the trees were designed to be seen in skeletal form in season, whereas we were not supposed to die.
So when we see a human skeleton, it tells us that something has gone catastrophically wrong.

I took some bread with me which was deeply appreciated by all the waterfowl - and a Hitchcockian swarm of seagulls.  They especially liked the currant bread.

The meeting at the Hall this morning was as wonderful as ever. We were reminded about the importance of listening to our Creator, not to 'the world', and about  Christian unity and how we can play our part in achieving and maintaining it - always remembering that without Jehovah's spirit all our efforts to do so would be futile.

It is a unity based on Jehovah's law of loving-kindness, not the sort of forced uniformity that you would get in an efficient army.

Col was off Metal Detecting this morning.  He found a Roman something that will almost certainly appear in his blog.

Anne skyped me from South Africa and we had a lovely long talk.

It was a cold day - although not where Anne is.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The Laughing Postman

Jean and I entertained a postman this morning.  We couldn't find no.131 and he kept coming across us bumbling around this large estate, lost in a strange mixture of numbers.   "Its between 130 and 132",  he said, laughing heartlessly.

Oddly enough, that did not help.

Captain B is packing up for his dive trip which is making me feel rather melancholy, but I am already filling up next week. Audrey just rang to book me for Friday morning, and Jackie is coming round in the evening.

Its the Circuit Overseer visit, so a busy busy week - hopefully.  I just hope i am not starting a cold. Everyone else seems to be.

Friday, 5 November 2010


John Clare is as good on November as he is on the other months, but I have a specific poem in mind for this month.   So here is:

by R.W. Dixon

The feathers of the willow
Are half of them grown yellow
   Above the swelling stream ;
And ragged are the bushes,
And rusty now the rushes,
   And wild the clouded gleam.

The thistle now is older,
His stalk begins to moulder,
   His head is white as snow ;
The branches all are barer,
The linnet's song is rarer,
   The robin pipeth now.

A lovely evocation that will become truer and truer as the month goes on.
Its a grey and rainy day today.  Captain B has been out helping the Duke of Burgundy (the butterfly, we don't have any aristocratic friends) by toiling away with the working party improving the woodland terrain.  And Maggie and I went out on some calls and then we shopped.  Lots of difficult driving, but a nice morning.  I was exhausted  when I got back - lunched on crisps and yoghurt and fell asleep.
Dinner at Jackie's tonight.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Neglecting Maurice

and everything, as my wings have been severely clipped since our day out in London.  I was confined to the sofa yesterday, trying to keep my swollen ankle higher than my head, every trip to the loo like climbing Everest without oxygen.  I feel about a hundred and seventy five. 

One day out in London!  And I used to be a great walker.

And there is Maurice on the beach. We are supposed to be friends by now - posing for one of those cute animal pictures in The Daily Mail - Me and Maurice, my mussel friend - well there will be some terrible punning headline but a great picture.

He has yet to speak to me. But he will.  And he is going to break my heart.  But not by getting eaten by a seagull.

I had to cancel my field service with Audrey yesterday. Will I be able to go out with Jean today?

I hope so. I am up early just about to take my medication, but it is still painful to set foot to ground.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Paul Gauguin

We went to the Gauguin Exhibition at The Tate Modern today.  Jacks was supposed to come, but she wasn't well.  And I only just made it - I was limping badly by the time we got home.

What can I say about it?

It was more sad than I expected.  I hadn't realised that the Polynesia he found was not the island Paradise he painted it - I hadn't realised how westernised it was by then.   But in any case he seemed to have had some strange ideas about 'savages' versus 'civilised' people.  (He was all for the 'savage'.)  Whereas we are all the imperfect and dying children of disobedient Adam, and if you don't see that, then does it affects what you can paint?

I hadn't realised what a sculptor he was!  Some brilliant things, but I don't like a lot of his subject matter.  His severed head mug for example, is very much not something i would want to drink my coffee out of.

And i think I found an example of contemporary Art Speak.   We had the audio guides, which do help us to get a lot more out of exhibitions, and when discussing the women in Gauguin's Polynesian paintings, the commentator noted that some were "uncomfortably young".