Lady M is back in the country, having lightly terrorised her European counterparts, traumatised random gawkers who tried ogling her, and bemused fellow travellers by snoring through takeoff on the way home.
Lady M always looks nonplussed when people say that she is scary. I’ve never seen it myself, but I’ve had enough people confess that they’re lightly terrified of her to presume it’s some combination of the North East accent and her tenacious attitude.
Lady M in full sail is a masterclass in watching someone go from point A to point C without being concerned that point B makes it not a straight line journey. It might be a zigzag for most people, but not Lady M. Nine time out of ten, reality shuffles a bit to accommodate this, and the times it doesn’t is where I step in.
In the words of Nanny Ogg shes’ “an old softie really”
Any similarity between Lady M and Greebo is purely coincidental.
Last week was heavy going, for a variety of reasons that I won’t bore you with at the moment; and the tail end of the weekend was spent being anxious and tired and generally overwhelmed with life. It wasn’t until the early hours of this morning though that I decided I needed to have a time out. I had enough accrued time, no meetings booked in, and as far as I could tell nothing looming that couldn’t survive waiting another twenty four hours or so for my direct attention.
Eleven year old children, however, are no respecters of mental health time. I already knew the cub was coming over today, but I reckoned without the bright cheeriness and inquisitive soul popping his head round the door every half hour or so with some bon mot or repetition of a school in-joke that had him chortling and myself considering whether he actually needed both legs.
So I’m partially rested, and have done small household odds and ends and some grocery shopping without being tempted to look at my phone or log in to work email – so in the grand scheme of things it’ll do.
I’ve just had a text from Lady M to say she’s on her way home too. With the cub ensconced back with his favourite YouTuber streams and some chocolate milk I think the odds are good she’ll arrive back to a fairly intact flat. If I can just get this anxiety to give it a rest, that will be a great bonus.
It has felt a bit of a close-run thing, but the feeling of living in a blast furnace has retreated somewhat – and as I write this with the door open to the balcony I have a strong breeze ebbing and flowing in. I think there may be a storm on the way – or at least some bursts of rain. It has been interesting to point out to the cub that this evening’s temperature of 23C is nearly half what it was on Tuesday and before this week he would have been complaining that it was hot. He is still trying to wrap his imagination around the fact that Monday and Tuesday are the hottest that the United Kingdom has ever been since they started recording such things. I think he’s more used to reading about history than living through significant moments of it.
The cub has been staying the last couple of days as his school term finished yesterday about lunchtime, and boy s is working. With Lady M off the other side of London for work, I’ve therefore been balancing work with having a young lad around the house. He’s not quite old enough to be home alone, but the difference just this last term has made in how he’s growing up tells me he’ll be fine. For now he’s sat in the other room eating his supper before he goes to run around the estate a bit more to burn off some energy from being cooped up.
On the work front I’ve been getting more engaged with the new co-chair role for the LGBTQ+ Staff Network and meeting a number of stakeholders in the EDI work being developed by Surrey County Council. I’ve begun work drafting some training slides for an Allyship program we hope to roll out next year – on the basis that we need a starting point and I have the capacity and expertise to create some copy to begin the conversation. What has struck me is the enthusiasm and understanding of the importance of this work by so many people. It has been heartening to have level-headed positivity mixed with the pragmatic acknowledgement that there is no simple fix and there are a lot of hard conversations that need to take place.
I’m cautiously optimistic – and I hope that the need to be kind is something that can be nurtured and brought to bloom.
So, here in the UK we’re having a heatwave with temperatures pushing 30C as I write and warnings of 40 tomorrow. As I’m diabetic I’m keeping an extra eye on myself and keeping hydrated and as in the shade as I can so I don’t burn my shaved head and boil my own brain. Perhaps I’m not particularly exercised at the moment though because of my relative memories of visiting Florida a few years back during one of their heatwaves. You could tell it was hot because even the native Floridians were commenting on it and I lost track of the number of overworked air conditioning units I saw leaking everywhere.
Thinking more close to home however, I was reminded today that the last time we had weather like this was in the summer of 1976 – which for me remains the high bar of the perfect summer (at least judged through the eyes of four year old me) – the days were long, we ran around in very little. We had a paddling pool pretty much permanently up or being refilled. The garden paving slabs were too hot to walk barefoot on – but of course being me I made a game of how long I could run on them before either hopping into shadow or onto the dry crinkled grass beside it. I don’t remember burning my feet but I’m sure my parents despaired.
We had a dog – a dalmation – who very sensibly stayed indoors, or stretched out in the shade with a expression of “touch me and die”. He was a vicious brute, but he was our vicious brute, and he would greatly enjoy accompanying dad into the church to lie on the cool flagstones inside and keep him company.
Thinking about it, I’m pretty sure I’m mixing up memories of being older in a similar hot summer a few years later while living at a different vicarage but the basics remain the same. I can’t remember very much from my childhood – but hot summers definitely made their mark.
Is there a point to this? Not really, just sharing reminiscences born of the heat and how this weekend is largely spent doing very little, or appreciating the shade as I do things like take the recycling out or do battle in tesco to take advantage of their air conditioning. At least with no children in the house I can enjoy walking round naked in the flat while the water from my most recent cool shower evaporates. Now there’s an image…
I suppose I’d better go back tomorrow, and see what new challenges await. Its a good way to pass time until the next pay day and the next set of shelving I want to buy so I don’t keep having to stack books on the floor or under beds
I don’t have a book problem – I have loads of them. I’ve even read most of them, and the ones I keep hold of are either useful references, old comforting friends I read over and over, or curios to flick through in idle moments or with which to bemuse visitors.
I haven’t quite got to the point of shelving by colour or theme, let alone by Dewey Decimal, and try to have a mix of things on them to draw the eye. Give it time.
I would say that I’m not sure why the last week has been a bit of a struggle with money but I can very firmly point to the two parking tickets I managed to earn this month as contributing to the pain. Never mind, lessons learned and all that.
It’s been a quiet couple of days, but I did go to Kingston yesterday to have a payday spend, looking at things for the flat. By far the best decision I made was to walk in to Not My Beautiful House, which is a pop up art gallery set up and run by students at Kingston University. They are focused on selling art by local people and I found a fair few things that caught my eye. In particular there were abstracts created by an ADHD support group, and I couldn’t resist
For £20 I had a new canvas piece for the hall, and I’ll definitely keep an eye on the place from now on.
Other than that it’s been quiet. Both the introverts have tucked themselves away so I may go out to the gym later – or spoil myself with a nice rioja – I haven’t decided yet.
It’s been a good weekend so far – we hit the gym, I remembered my counselling session, and last night’s D&D game was sweet and roleplay orientated and set things up for the next story arc
Today we have the cub staying over while boy s is back at work, and we’re planning to go see The Wessex Pistols and catch up with friends at The Plough later this afternoon. Should be fun, but I do wonder how the cub will react to it all. We shall see.
In the meantime, we have sunshine, birdsong, and washing drying on the balcony. Not a bad start.
It’s all a bit annoying. After two years of doing everything to state safe and keep loved ones safe I’ve had a positive covid result this weekend, as has Lady M. The stinking cold I’ve been pushing back against the last week or two has either been a slow builder or has just dovetailed with the infection, as earlier tests were negative.
My hope is that this will pass quickly and the repeated application of lemon and honey and being sensible will take me through a mild bout of inconvenience. While I’m annoyed that it’s caught up with me, I’m counting my lucky stars that the current variants seem to be milder than what I might otherwise have caught so I don’t at all feel that my earlier abiding by guidelines has been any kind of waste of time.
So, a bit subdued and wiped out, but plodding through as I usually do.
Back before the days of plague we had a plan. Lady M and I were due to celebrate ten years of marriage and thought it would be amazing to get everyone we could back at the same venue for a knees up. Well, so much for that idea.
Instead we took a deep breath a day booked in for lunch, just the two of us, at The Hand And Flowers in Marlow. It, famously, is a pub with two Michelin stars. We make no secret about loving good food, and we’d been promising ourselves a fine dining experience but until now hadn’t taken the plunge.
A great joy of where we are in our careers is that we’ve variously built and rebuilt out of debt and career swerves over the years. We’ve been unemployed together, variously in and out of work and supporting each other, and I like to think that it’s helped us keep reasonably grounded about money as a result.
So we took a deep breath and then reminded ourselves it was a special occasion and we could afford it. And it was lovely. The staff were friendly and knowledgeable about the food and drink, the place is warm and comfortable, and the layout just irregular enough to feel cosy. And the food and drink was superb – we were very well fed and looked after.
A good way to celebrate an anniversary – and now we’ll have to plan for another excuse to return.
We had planned to go up to London yesterday and wander round some old haunts but a tube strike paralysed public transport. We took that as our cue to leave well alone for now.
We instead went to Kingston for a bit just to get out of the house. With so many people working from home it meant that the roads were clearer and the shopping centre less busy than usual by early afternoon, and this suited us just fine. Coffee and people watching was the first order of the day.
And then to the shops where I finally gave in and bought some new work clothes to refresh the fading black jeans that have been my workhorse items for years. Some plain tshirts to go with them and my spree was done. Well, aside from buying some books for Lady M as part of our anniversary, but the clothes are the focus. That’s mostly because I have a pretty basic set of clothes that I wear day to day so any big expenditure makes my eyes water.
The odd thing is that clothing is a pretty essential purchase if I want to be part of general society and, oh I don’t know, work for example. This shouldn’t be a big thing, but my anxiety about spending that money has caught me off guard. I shouldn’t be anxious – I’m lucky enough to be employed and have a budget that can easily accommodate it. It’s fair to point out that I’ve easily blown similar amounts in a month on Funko Pops or geeky items, or on gifts for my loved ones. And yet clothing seems to be what has made me twitch.
How very odd. Perhaps it’s a throwback to when I was getting divorced and had to rebuild while also struggling with money. Maybe it’s that clothing items like pairs of jeans are expensive so there’s not a lot of items for what seems to be a lot of money. Either way I’m currently telling myself to get a grip as this wasn’t a frivolous purchase, and it’s not even as if I went for expensive branded goods – M&S own brand is an old standby for me.
I shall look forward to wearing them when Lady M and I go out for a celebratory lunch tomorrow.