Friday, August 15, 2014

Kissing a man without a moustache

As I said, Husband has a new-found passion for Facebook and this has led him to rummage in the attic for old photos. One he came across records the only time in our married life that he was without a moustache.

It was the Christmas season, some time in the 90s, and, as he was on holiday, he decided to shave it off. As he'd been moustachioed when I met him this was going to be the first time ever for me to see him clean-shaven.
I hated it, made him grow it back and have fought strenuously against his frequent suggestions that he should shave it off again. (He thinks he looks younger without.)

When I was searching just now for the quote, 'Kissing a man without a moustache is like eating an egg without salt,' I discovered that back in 2006 I blogged about Husband and his moustache. It seems the original quote is often wrongly attributed to Rudyard Kipling but most sources suggest it's an old Spanish proverb. Mr Kipling wrote a variation on it (allegedly) when he said, 'Kissing a man who doesn't wax his moustache is like eating an egg without salt.'

The rest of what I wrote in 2006 is here: 

Guy de Maupassant describes it thus in The Mustache.

... he has shaved off his mustache. You cannot imagine, my dear Lucy, how it changes him! I no longer recognize him-by day or at night. If he did not let it grow again I think I should no longer love him; he looks so horrid like this.
In fact, a man without a mustache is no longer a man. I do not care much for a beard; it almost always makes a man look untidy. But a mustache, oh, a mustache is indispensable to a manly face. No, you would never believe how these little hair bristles on the upper lip are a relief to the eye and good in other ways. I have thought over the matter a great deal but hardly dare to write my thoughts. Words look so different on paper and the subject is so difficult, so delicate, so dangerous that it requires infinite skill to tackle it.
Well, when my husband appeared, shaven, I understood at once that I never could fall in love with a strolling actor nor a preacher, even if it were Father Didon, the most charming of all! Later when I was alone with him (my husband) it was worse still. Oh, my dear Lucy, never let yourself be kissed by a man without a mustache; their kisses have no flavor, none whatever! They no longer have the charm, the mellowness and the snap- yes, the snap--of a real kiss. The mustache is the spice.
Imagine placing to your lips a piece of dry--or moist--parchment. That is the kiss of the man without a mustache. It is not worth while.
Whence comes this charm of the mustache, will you tell me? Do I know myself? It tickles your face, you feel it approaching your mouth and it sends a little shiver through you down to the tips of your toes.
And on your neck! Have you ever felt a mustache on your neck? It intoxicates you, makes you feel creepy, goes to the tips of your fingers. You wriggle, shake your shoulders, toss back your head. You wish to get away and at the same time to remain there; it is delightful, but irritating. But how good it is!
A lip without a mustache is like a body without clothing; and one must wear clothes, very few, if you like, but still some clothing.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Today I accompanied a pregnant young woman to hospital for the heart of her unborn baby to be checked by a foetal heart specialist. Two previous scans had shown it to have three instead of the four chambers.

I prayed for a miracle today, that the fourth chamber would be seen and normal. Even as I prayed I knew in my heart that, although I know God can and does perform miracles, I didn't expect this one.

Today's very thorough, very detailed scan showed the heart to be quite normal.

I'm sorry, God, and thank you.

And, yes, I know it's possible to explain this away medically but my prayer was answered either way.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Saying goodbye

Today the media is full of the news of the death of Robin Williams. It is very sad; he was an amazingly talented and funny man. Though I loved Good Morning Vietnam and Mrs Doubtfire, my favourite of his films has to be Dead Poets' Society.

If you can watch this without the hairs on the back of your neck rising then, well, I don't think you'll be able to.

But sad as this news is the good thing is that Robin Williams has left a legacy. He lived a full life, bringing pleasure to millions. He achieved fame and fortune but, more importantly, spent his time doing what he was good at, using his talent and ability to the full.

Earlier this year Andy from Zac's died and last week Nick (not his real name) died. Nick was an occasional at the bible studies but, I think, turned up more often at the coffee bar. Both deaths are tragic.

Andy, a regular at bible studies, was in his early fifties and had suffered with mental health issues for most of his life. The year before he died he was baptised and had, for possibly the first time in his life, found peace. In view of the way he died that's perhaps a strange thing to say. He'd had ups and downs and while you couldn't say he'd lived life to the full at the end I think he had finally come to terms with life and himself. 

Nick was in his very early thirties. I didn't see him often and didn't know him well but even I, unobservant as I am, noticed the deterioration in his physical health over the years. But when he did come to our tribal gatherings he was polite, well-spoken and gentle. An articulate and intelligent young man he certainly never achieved his potential. The possibilities, the could-have-beens that were Nick, he never saw. Or maybe he did see them but didn't believe in them. They were always out of his reach.

The evil that is drugs has much to answer for. Stealing hopes and dreams, crushing them before they have a chance to be nurtured, sucking life out of the young and old alike.

Nick's life wasn't a waste; he leaves memories. And I hope the inspiration for change for some.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

How many frogs do I have to kiss?

For the second time in a few weeks a frog has jumped literally under my foot while I've been walking in the woods. Okay, it was a toad last time but the coincidence is too great to ignore. I can't help but think they're trying to tell me something.

If it happens again maybe I should kiss the creature and see if it turns into a handsome prince. But then again what would I do with a prince? He would be hard to explain away to Husband. I suppose I could sell the story to Hello magazine but you know what they're like: they take photos everywhere. I'd have to scrub the kitchen floor.

No, on reflection, it's probably best if I don't go around kissing amphibians.

The BBC has a lot to answer for

A lot of our conversations (monologues?) begin with Husband saying, 'I read an interesting article on the BBC website,' which he then proceeds to tell me about. Usually that's as far as it goes but when he read about the extra health benefits of black tomatoes he said he had to grow some. And this is the result:

Quite tasty but not a heavy cropper meaning they're costing about £10 a kilo! Let's hope the health benefits are worth it.

I am a failure as a woman

I first began to have my doubts about my womanliness when I read about the Wife of Noble Character written about (undoubtedly by a man) in the book of Proverbs. If you're not familiar with her you might like to read the passage yourself (it's roughly midway through the bible) but I wouldn't advise it if you're female and have anything less than supreme self-confidence and hold yourself in high esteem. Let's just say she is a paragon of womanly virtue and ability. You can see why I began to have doubts.

Then this very morning listening to the radio in the car I heard this little gem:

I fear it would be hard to under-estimate this woman's touch. As Willy Wonka sang in the next song they played, 'It's what you're not that makes what you are.' 

Now excuse me, I must go and reupholster the sofa before I cook a cordon bleu dinner for my Lord and Master.

Sex and the single girl

I was befriended by a 20-moth-old Staffie today. I say befriended; I mean humped.

But it turned out that I was not really the object of his desire; he was just after the doggy treats in my pocket. He used me then when he'd had what he wanted discarded me like an old wrapper. Leaving me with nothing.

Except muddy shorts.

And a box full of blackberries.
It's an exceptionally good year for blackberries but let me offer some advice to would-be blackberry gatherers.
1) Don't wear shorts. I suspect I said the same thing last year. Maybe next year I will take my own advice.
2) You are not as tall as you think you are. You know those luscious plump juicy blackberries you are convinced you could reach if you just stretched a bit more? You can't. It will end in tears.

The ideal blackberry-gatherer will be tall and trousered. And, ideally, with Inspector Gadget arms.

Things not to do when waiting for the tea to brew

22. Decide to sort out a kitchen drawer.

Much later ...
Leading me to ask: what on earth is this and what is it doing in my kitchen drawer?
Oh wait! Now I have my glasses on it I can see that it says 'instrument to split convolulus vegetable made of inox metal'. I don't know why I didn't realise that straight away.

The question must also be asked: will I live long enough to make good use of all these cocktail sticks?
Would anyone? Yet it looks as if they came in a set making me think that maybe cutlery is old hat and I should be using sticks to eat my everyday meals.

Or maybe not.

Friday, August 08, 2014

You never know when it will come in useful

On the way out for our walk today George and I noticed that the road, which is narrow, was littered with odd tools, nails and pens. Being a good citizen I kicked them to the side of the road so they wouldn't cause damage to the tyres of any passing cars.

Then on the way back I collected them up.

Not this time for the greater good but for Rough Edges, the new charity shop for blokes that's opening as an offshoot of Zac's.

I am turning into a hobo; my father-in-law would be proud of me. There was nothing he liked better than rummaging in skips.

Please excuse the bad language

I was told off recently by someone I respect and by whom I am slightly intimidated. When being told off I panic; Husband compares me to the fainting goats - except I don't faint and it's my brain that freezes.

Words and sentences become blurred in my mind forming a huge blob-like mass of telling-offness leaving me quashed. It wasn't until this morning, several days later, that I remembered one bit of the reprimand and it suddenly struck me that it was complete bollocks.

It's incredibly liberating to realise that, to suddenly see that I don't need to listen to this crap. No, I do need to listen because some of it is relevant and I need to be aware of it. But this isn't gospel; it's one person's view, badly expressed.

I have now composed a riposte - less witty, more brutal - but I will never deliver it, of course. Any more than I will deliver the rude gesture that I practised (in a very delicate, ladylike and embarrassed way) in the woods.

Not this time anyway.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Am I a dirty old woman?

It was 8.10 yesterday evening before I realised I hadn't showered/washed. I'm not sure what's more concerning. Whether it's the fact I hadn't showered or the fact I wasn't bothered about it. Am I becoming a dirty old woman?

* * * * * * * * *
What do I mean 'becoming'? I am a dirty woman this afternoon after our walk in the woods. I wasn't going to walk by the river as I was wearing the wrong shoes (my old leaky trainers) and instead decided to wander further up the main cycle track. I don't usually like the cycle track as it attracts cyclists who, I find, can be quite obnoxious. Not all but many swear at dogs who get in their way. I mean, yes, George does occasionally meander across in front of a cyclist but he's not exactly speedy; a minor detour around him is all that is needed.

Anyway, don't get me started. As I was saying we walked up the main path when, all of a sudden, we came across a new path leading off through the woods! (This might not sound exciting to you but just because you have a life it doesn't entitle you to look down on the rest of us.)

Of course we had to follow it and what do you know? It went by the river. So I got wet feet anyway but it was a jolly lovely path made better by its newness to me. And when we arrived at a small signpost that offered us two choices - this way or this way - we went that way instead. We like to live on the edge, George and me.

It did occur to me that if I'd had a heart attack or broken my ankle Husband would never have found as us and I'd have to have relied on George to fetch help. #couldbeherealongtime

Monday, August 04, 2014

A good day at the coal face

In the morning I was mc-ing the Sunday service in prison. They're getting a chapel full these days, around 40 or more men, who are all very attentive and listen well. I wasn't doing the main talky bit so it was less stressful and everything went fine and dandy.

Then in the afternoon as it was the first Sunday of the month we had a tribal gathering at Zac's. Again I was in the chair and again it went well. Apart from me getting Jeremiah and Joshua confused and showing up my complete lack of knowledge of the Old Testament. But they're used to me being twp now.

There was a good discussion and we had some great stories from Jason and Nicky - and we sang some songs! Don't tell Sean! (Not that he has anything against singing you understand.) Paul said he wanted to sing every Tuesday and Redcoat said he was going to put in an official complaint. You can't please ...

This last week Redcoat celebrated 5 years of being drug-free. I first met him back in 2006 and I wrote about him at the time.

There's a new face in Zac's (new to me anyway). He's of slight build, wearing a red coat, and with alcohol on his breath. He sits at a table and his eyes are focused somewhere way beyond the confines of the room. I guess that he has stumbled across the place and is grateful for somewhere warm indoors to spend an evening; I think he will be asleep before long.

We're continuing in the run-up to Christmas with a look at Mary. I'd told Sean I had written a 'Mary monologue' and he'd asked me to read it. Before that we look at the places in the Bible that Mary gets a mention. A very world-wise view is expressed of how it would have been for both Mary and Joseph: a pregnant unmarried girl and the man who has to decide whether to take her on or cast her off.

Redcoat isn't asleep but is following intently. He has always felt that Joseph is undervalued. Several times he interrupts and in a rambling, drawn-out fashion - the pauses typical, I think, of a drunk getting his thoughts together - makes this point. Given the chance, I would exchange knowing smiles with someone. If I had been in charge I would have been tempted to step in, in one of the pauses, and carry on with what I was saying, hoping he would get the message, but Sean waits patiently until he is sure he has finished. Others speak up and acknowledge the truth of what he is saying, giving him respect. Then Sean asks me to read.

At the end of the bible study the first person to come and speak to me is Redcoat. 'That was incredible,' he says. I am humbled.