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The Americans Are Coming!

They are here next weekend!

My to-do list:

  • Buy dairy products and coffee
  • Join a private members’ club
  • Remember what “pants” means in the US.
  • Remember for them a four hour train journey is not an epic quest. It isn’t far.
  • Buy a face mask to wear a face mask when meeting them
  • Dress moderately
  • Don’t swear
  • Remind them about the free app that opens and closes London Bridge
  • And that taking the stairs at Covent Garden tube is quicker than the lift/elevator.

We’ll have an awesome time.


The excitement of the Yorkshire Show is over. Where can my life possibly go next? Let’s find out…

16th July 198..

A week to go and I will be off to Austria! I went on an exchange with the Anglo-Austrian Society if it still exists. The Austrian boy had already stayed with us. We weren’t the best of friends. Got a letter from Gunter Austrian boy this morning which took 3 days to get here, his last took 12 days! He siad my German was very good I didn’t speak a word of German when eventually I got there with hardly any mistakes. Simon called round in the morning to see if I wanted to go for a walk with him and Kim I still have no recollection of that dog which I did. Went round the Stray (see photo above) where he couldn’t get the collar back on her and she got quite visious (sic) but he didn’t help matters much nothing judgemental there – my mother’s son. Arrived home to find Mum had sorted my medical almost. A full one costs £15 so she rang Mrs Johnson neighbour who couldn’t help couldn’t help what?? and Mr Stamp my German teacher at school who said I would probably just need a general one. So I have an appointment with our doctor those were the days for next week at 9.10am. Mr Stamp also said £30 would cover me to take to Austria well that would be £130 nowadays Gunter hadn’t answered that question in his letter. Didn’t do anything much for the rest of the day! (& evening!).

The Great Yorkshire Show

Well, the hen interlude meant you were all hanging off the edges of your seats in anticipation of what happened when I did got to the Yorkshire Show. Hold onto your hats…

15th July 198..

Today I went to the Yorkshire Show with Simon. First thing went to get a paper for Pop and some bacon for mother note `mother’ – not my mother, or Mum. Mr and Mrs Manning are still working in the grocer’s in my memory the Mannings ran the newsagents – what grocer’s? no matter. Set off at ten to the Show which was very full. Cost £4.50 to get in! It’ll cost £29.00 this year. Once in bought a donut, a flavoured milk drink and a milk shake (my annual one!). Simon spent most of the time looking at fishing equipment, locks and safes oh we had so much in common. After lunch at home i.e. saving money went with Simon for a walk with Kim around the Stray where he let her loose and she had a good run no recollection of them having a dog. Then back to the Show in the afternoon. Found a stall which sold nothing but herb seeds and when I told Mum (sic) they also sold herb plants I rushed back to get her some i.e. she sent me running back just before the Show closed. I was absolutely exhausted when I eventually arrived home. Spent the evening watching television.

The Hens. Again.

Let’s refresh your memory, Dear Reader. Take a moment….

Now let’s just say I got a text this morning saying: “I very much hope to see it in a blog post.” I think you know where this is going.

Neighbours off gallivanting for half term. Could I look after their new cat and I don’t have to worry about the hens. Sunday to Tuesday. Well that was all lovely. The cat – let’s call him Nicky – is lovely and his brother has just been run over, so he’s a bit lonely and so very affectionate and over the moon when I go through the door, tearing round my feet and jumping on every available surface to keep himself in my sight.

It’s now Friday. Shopping day. We needed 12 eggs, but as the neighbours’ hens eggs are building up in number, I thought I’d drop by and get half a dozen. That was my first mistake.

Glancing out of the kitchen window as I’m washing the mud off the eggs, with Nicky racing around my feet, I see 5 hens roaming the garden. Heart sinks. I go to the back door, treading in dry catfood which is scattered over the floor. Nicky bolts out, delighted as if he’s never been out in his life (he has a catflap), leaping on the decking bannisters as I go down to the garden, and racing around as I see the hen coop door is a foot ajar. It has two bolts so I am really puzzled.

I get two hens back in and realise I don’t know how many hens there are so have to message the neighbours. The other three are determined not to go back. They eye me up, skiddaddle, flap, go under a table, run faster than I thought hens could run etc etc. The garden is muddy and Nicky flies up a tree, sitting above my head watching with delight his own Netflix comedy.

Hens run round tree which is small, so every time I bend down and stand up I get tangled in the branches. Realising this is a two person job, I ring another neighbour. No answer but she gets a very long verbal message from me, sounding like some sort of incompetent idiot. I give up and go back to kitchen to take a breather, and clean the (rancid, uncleaned) wet catfood bowl. As I’m putting this in soak I hear a crash and turn to see Nicky moving sheepishly away from a horizontal half-pint glass, that seconds before had been full of water with a plant (aka ” a cutting” as I was later informed) in it. Water all over the work top, and a cascade flowing down the neighbour’s wine trays forming a pool on the floor. A bit like this:

I can’t find a mop or cloths, so make do with some paper to stem the flow, and head back into the garden. Nicky tears out alongside me, running round the hens. So I carry him indoors, out of the way and 5 seconds later he is back at my feet, because I had forgotten he has a catflap. So I take him back in a shut off escape route to catflap. Not a happy little cat. I head back in the garden and after a few more minutes of Benny Hill running around the garden, I give up. At which point my (other) neighbour rings (apparently in slippers and pyjamas) asking if I still need help.


I somehow manage to get in another hen, and my friend arrives (in my head she’s riding on a black steed and wearing shining armour) and between us we get in the last two hens.

Meanwhile I have messages from gallivanting neighbours explaining why the hens were out (another story), and where the cleaning up stuff is kept. I manage to get it all sorted, including having to move wine bottles with 200 years of dust on them (so let’s hope they aren’t valuable) and set off home.

Now I can finally set off for the supermarket which I duly do. Fortunately it is half term and not very busy at lunchtime. I get home and wonder where the eggs I bought there are. Then remember walking past the eggs in aforesaid supermarket, so traumatised by the previous events that I was obviously in complete denial of their existence.

Now I am half a dozen eggs short and too stubborn to go back and let those birds get the better of me. Again.

My Teenage Diary

Yes you read that correctly. I’m in the process of clearing out the family home in Yorkshire. I opened a laundry box to find it full of letters, diaries and a scrapbook from my mid-teens to early 20’s I guess. I have so many diaries, but they all peter out after a few months. As does this one. The book was given to me by my brother as a congratulations for winning a piano playing award. No idea what. Words in italics are my blog comments:

July 14th 198..

Hooray! Today I decided to write a sort of diary in the is book which I have had for quite a while now. Pop my mother’s father has been here for two days now. Mum was washing this morning and in a bad mood as usual interesting. It is the first day of the Yorkshire Show and the roads were packed as I went to get a paper for Pop and post Janet’s next door neighbour engagement cards and Mum’s letter to Austria I was about to go on an exchange there. Later Mum went to the Planning Office with Mrs Dale one of her friends to look at the Harlow Grange replacements WHY? Nowhere near where we lived. I spent today doing very little except playing the piano. Arranged to go to the Yorkshire Show with Simon lived up the road and same age as mewent to Infant and Primary school together tomorrow. But Mrs Black my Year 6 teacher rang up to see if I could help take some children tomorrow. I refused harsh but can you blame me? and then had a row with Dad about what? but Mum calmed things down. Mum and Dad both out this evening where I wonder….

Bert’s Back

I haven’t written since August last year. So much has happened in life that writing this just went off my list. But for some of the time I kept a handwritten journal, although in the grimmest weeks that stopped too. So I will reproduce some of it here to get you all back on track with me.

4th October 2019

Woke up feeling very tired which has remained with me all day. We did the shopping and I took books and stuff I have been clearing (and have been living in piles in the corridor) off to charity shops. I feel that I am beginning to find life a bit overwhelming:

  • job situation continues to be wobbly
  • my back has been painful
  • short of money this month
  • so many outgoings

It’s that home/work/health balance and the bottom line is money. It struck me today that I’m clearing out because I have so much stuff around the flat – in cupboards, under the bed, on top of drawers, filling up the box room. I need to get the box room cleared to get my teaching files in there, as they are lying on the floor.

But of course the root of all this is worry about Mum and Dad, and the upheaval we’ve been through having the windows replaced and the flooring re-done. I can’t/don’t want to think about anything in the future as I’m in the middle of so much.

Then I’ve got the stupid cow making my life so difficult at work.

On the upside went into Foyles and bought Sarah Perry’s Melmoth and Kate Atkinson’s Transcription with the money Mum and Dad sent me.

Upshot – I need to talk instead of bottling up all these feelings so they turn into resentments and then anger.


Three weeks. See you later.

Work Catch-up 3

And now it’s the wonderful Adrian Mole The Musical, which I absolutely love working on. A show whose book, lyrics and score are fresh, wittily complex and surprising, put together by a very talented hard working team, and which is still making me laugh out loud night after night despite having to work through a relentless 414 cues in two hours.


The unfed mind devours itself.

Gore Vidal

Work Catch-up 2

Waiting to open Door 4.

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