I'm a twitcher!

Have you heard of Observer’s Books? They were little pocket books for youngsters and they were about all sorts of subjects. I think they started in the thirties and there were 100 different ones to collect.

Well several years ago I was given my Grandfathers collection when he died – I’ve got 67 and two thirds (one seems to be missing forty pages). Look, I’ve taken snaps of four of them, ones that I really like.

My absolute fave is the one on birds. I live a couple of floors up in my apartment block and I see lots of birds. In fact they often sit on my balcony, probably because I put food out for them.

Until I looked through my little book I didn’t realise how many makes of birds there are.

Up until now the only birds I could actually recognise were chickens and turkeys (I see them in the supermarket minus their feathers) and the usuals like robins and sparrows and gulls.

I don’t like gulls and I see lots of them because I live over the road from the sea. They are HUGE! And greedy, and noisy and a little bit scary. They have a habit of swooping down on unsuspecting sun-worshippers on the beach and stealing their sandwiches and things!

Out of my back window I look over our communal lawn. There’s an old biddy on the bottom floor that puts out bread for the birds on the grass. I need to tell her that you shouldn’t feed birds on dry bread. Apparently when they drink water after eating dry bread it swells up in their tummies and that is not a good thing. I read that on a sign down on the promenade asking you not to feed the gulls with bread.

Well, I’ve got some little binoculars on a stick – you know what I mean, I think they are called opera glasses. Anyway they are perfect for bird spotting.

Today I’ve seen several robins (why do they say ‘robin red breast’ when their breasts are actually orange?) some jays, a blackbird or two and a pair of tits (no Keith, I wasn’t spying on the topless sunbathers. Anyway it’s the middle of winter and freezing cold so there aren’t any)

I also saw a gaggle of crows - or rooks. Even with my book I can’t see the difference. I know that one of them likes the company of others, and the other is a bit of a loner – a ‘billy no-mates’ as we say. I remember once learning a poem which helps you tell the difference;

A crow on its own is a rook
A rook in a crowd is a crow

At least I think that’s how it went, but it could be;

A rook on its own is a crow
A crow in a crowd is a rook

So that doesn’t help.

I also saw a magpie. I think I’m right in saying that if you see one magpie you have bad luck until you see another. No that’s wrong, because the old superstition has just come back to me. It’s to do with number of magpies you see at once, and it goes like this;

One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl, Four for a boy, Five for silver, Six for gold, Seven for a secret never to be told.

I was never quite sure what to expect if I ever saw eight or more!

I also happen know that they are ‘tea leaves’ - thieves (did you like my Cockney rhyming slang?) They like to steal bright things like diamond rings and tiaras.

I’ve made notes on the birds I need to look out for. I want to see a jenny wren, a thrush, a starling and a black-chested buzzard eagle genus geranoaetus melanoleucus, although the chance of seeing one of them is not very high.

Anyway, I am now a fully fledged (joke) ornithologist. We are also known as Twitchers by the way! I prefer that name.

All that bird spotting has made me hungry. I think I’ll boil myself a couple of eggs.


I think I believe in Father Christmas

I’m dying to tell you about my Christmas stocking! When I woke up on Crimble day, there it was on the floor by the wall exactly where it would be if I had a chimney, only I don’t.

It was bulging! Now if you are thinking ‘silly mare, she filled it herself on Christmas Eve' then you obviously didn’t read my composition called Things I like about Christmas because Thing 2 (or was it Thing 3?) explained that I buy and wrap my own Santa presents a year in advance. It is well documented that I am somewhat challenged in the memory department, so when the time comes to open them I’ve forgotten what I bought! Clever or what??

As I was saying, there it was on the floor and I was so excited that a little bit of wee came out! How embarassing.

Then Fuzzybut and Scruff jumped up on the bed – they must have realised that Santa had brought them some gifts too, catty things, you know.

The first thing I got was a backscratcher! I love it, it’s like a finger on a stick. Then I un-wrapped a CD. It was by Basshunter and called ‘Now You’re Gone’. It was number one in the charts last January, but I obviously forgot it would no longer be number one when I received it.

And then out popped a squeaky rubber mouse. I guessed that must be for the cats, although I must admit I quite like it myself. Just think of the fun I could have with that in the pub!

And then came a packet of cigarettes - Santa clearly didn’t realise that I gave up in March. That was followed by a miniature bottle of vodka, so I took off the top and necked it!

And then a sort of muesli bar. The excitement was making me a little peckish, so I tore off the wrapper and took a bite. Yuk! It tasted dreadful. I picked up the wrapper and saw the words ‘Canine de-worming treatment’. I spat it out; Scruff sniffed it then ran out of the room.

There was a lippy, a Snickers, a notebook, a game.
A pen and a key ring, a brooch with my name.
A hair clip some chocolates a book and a comb.
A toy for the cats, and a photograph frame.

Right at the bottom there were some nuts and an orange – Father Christmas always left me those when I was little. And that, as they say, was that! Oh, I forgot the hat! A red Santa one with a sprig of plastic mistletoe that hangs over my head! You never know who might pop round.

So that’s it. On Monday I’ll go shopping for next Christmas’s stocking fillers. I’m just waiting for a call from Father Christmas telling me what to get!


It's Christmas morning!

I can’t believe I’m doing this. It’s 1.30 am on Christmas morning and instead of being in bed asleep I’m writing. And before you say “if you don’t go to bed soon Santa won’t come” well, ha-ha-ha! Very funny. I’m not stupid, he never gets to me until 4.

The reason I am up is that I have just been to midnight mass with Keith. We were going with his Mum, but when I called to pick him up he said that his Mum had decided not to come. I think he thought he was going to get out of it, but I was having none of it.

Anyway, we eventually set off up the road with him moaning and groaning about being cold, which was daft because it wasn’t cold at all. We got to the church about 11.15 by which time there was hardly a pew to be had. But we found a couple of spaces near the back. Well, at this service we only have candlelight, and he started complaining that he was too far away from the nearest candle and he couldn’t see. But then he choir burst through the door to our left, and his little face light up. I think you know that he is passionate about church choirs and the one at our church is exceptional.

All was going well, despite Keith yawning rather a lot. But I did have a bit of a scare when at the end of a long prayer we all sat up but Keith didn’t! He stayed head-down. Then I realised he was asleep. Fortunately he didn’t snore like he does at the movies. He is the world’s greatest authority on the beginnings and ends of films. I swear he thinks that movies are all 20 minutes long and don’t make sense!

When I’d called for him he was just writing an email t our friend in Oz, Mr Whitesnake. Steve the snake said that at midnight UK time he’d raise a glass to Keith. Keith replied that he would be at Mass at the time, and said that he’d toast Steve with the communion wine. I assumed he was joking, but I swear that as he took a sip of the ‘blood of Christ’ he muttered ‘Cheers Steve’. He strongly denies it, and says ‘Amen’ sounds like ‘Cheers Steve’. Nonsense I say. I told him he’ll never go to heaven if he gets up to tricks like that.

When I mentioned recently to his daughter Rachel that I was going to church with him, she broke into a grin and suggested I pretend not to be with him because he insists on singing the harmony during every hymn – loudly! She said that when she was young she found it a bit embarrassing. But it wasn’t a problem tonight. I think he was too tired to bother, until.......

The final carol was that biggy, the loudest one in the book ‘Oh Come all Ye Faithful’ and suddenly Keith perked up. He harmonised quite quietly at first. But during the carol the choir processed toward our part of the church and as they got louder, he got louder. Well the last verse is huge, and now the choir were standing behind and beside us. You would have thought he was auditioning for a leading role! He belted it out.

Anyway, I made sure he got home safely and now I’m back in my apartment. I really do have to go to bed now, suddenly my clock tells me its 2am and Mummy and Daddy will be here at the crack of dawn demanding coffee and things. Why do old people get up so early?

Anyway have a great day – Happy Christmas!!


Santa's here!

Shhhh a sound up on the roof
Ringing bells, a reindeer hoof
Santa’s come I knew he would
He said he would if I was good


It started with a piece of liver

This week Sunday Scribblings want us to write using the word late. Writers Island has asked us to use the phrase slipped through my fingers. I've used them both in one piece. I'm not stupid!!!

I was late for my first aid course the other day. I had to do some shopping on the way because I wanted to get some liver from the butcher for my supper.

Now call me odd if you wish, but I just love the feel of liver. It’s sort of slimy in a tactile kind of way and I simply couldn’t resist a grope as I scurried through the mall.

So there I was with this chunk of liver in my hand when the pesky thing made its escape - it slipped through my fingers.

I stopped and turned to pick it up from the floor, when some poor fellow trod on it and went skidding uncontrollably towards an old lady sitting on a bench. I can still see the look of horror on her wrinkled little face as he suddenly tripped and fell with his face in her lap.

Well, she was holding a bag at the time, and I think it must have had something very solid inside it because when he twisted round and gazed up at me he had the beginnings of a pretty nasty black eye.

Rosey to the rescue! I remembered that a good way to ease an injured eye is to plonk a piece of steak over it. I didn’t have a steak, but it occurred to me that liver might just have the same effect. I couldn’t find it at first but then I noticed it stuck to the soul of his shoe. I peeled it off and carefully placed it over his sore peeper.

He made a strange sound, I can’t really describe it, but I got the impression that he was suffering a little discomfort. I suppose it must have been a bit gritty.

An onlooker noticed that I had a water bottle sticking out of my bag. She said we should use its contents to rinse out his eye as quickly as possible. I started to take the bottle from my bag and she grabbed it before I could explain that it was not just water. In fact it wasn’t water at all. It was lemonade. Oh, and it was liberally laced with vodka. You see, my first aid classes can be a bit boring, so I sometimes – well, I usually take a little tipple with me in the guise of mineral water!

It was getting worse. By the weird noises he was making his eye was obviously stinging rather badly. I thought it might help if we could sit him up, so I grabbed his arm and tugged. I’ve never heard a yell like the one he let out then!

By now quite a crowd had gathered, and fortunately most of them had not witnessed the liver incident which set off this whole sorry situation. So I turned to the nosey lady next to me, tutted, and made a comment about what a shame it was that he’d injured himself. Then I discretely made my escape by backing away through the assembled mass and blending into the folk walking past.

A couple of days later I was back in the mall when hobbling in my direction came a man walking with a crutch, his eye bandaged and his arm in a sling. I nipped into the nearest shop, and intended staying in there until he’d passed!

Unfortunately I was looking over my shoulder rather than where I was walking, and that’s when the display shelves toppled over showering a child with dozens of teddy bears. I don’t have much luck.


Silent night? I don't think so!

I’ve just come across this funny record of someone called Tom Waits singing Silent Night. Silent Night? He’s yelling his head off!

Actually he sounds just like old Arthur at the pub on karaoke night after he’s had a bevy or two!

When I first heard it I had this image of a scruffy old fella with a bent cigarette dangling from his bottom lip, crawling up to the crib in Bethlehem, peering in at the baby with his bleary eyes and starting to sing at it with his beery breath.

I could imagine the baby thinking “perhaps that plan I’ve got to turn water into wine when I grow up is not such a good one after all!”

Ps. The other carols on my playlist are quite unusual too - especially the Chinese kids singing Hark the Herald Angels Sing!


Things I like about Christmas

I got this lovely award from Shadow, and she’s asked me to write about my favourite Christmas things. I stopped at 6 although I could have gone on for pages!

First I have to explain the rules

* You must be a true Christmas lover to receive this award
* the person to whom you give the award must also be in love with Christmas
* you must link back to the person who gave you the award
* you must list 5 things that you love about Christmas. if you can’t limit it to 5 things, then keep going till you run out of space!
* pass the award along to as many people as you like. That can be 1 or 50. It’s up to you. But, you must pass it one to at least one person in order to keep the Christmas cheer going!* Let your recipients know that you have tagged them by leaving them a comment

Five things I love about Christmas…plus one!

1. Putting out a glass of sherry and a mince pie for Father Christmas at bedtime, then drinking the sherry and eating the pie before going to sleep, then seeing the empty plate and empty glass in the morning!

2. Opening the presents in my stocking. Don’t laugh – I know I put them there myself, but I always buy them and wrap them a year ahead so by the time I open them I’ve forgotten what they are!

3. Going to the pub before lunch. It was best when Keith had his pub, but even so, I always get a welcome at my local and a free drink on the house!

4. Going to Mummy and Daddy’s for their fantazmagolical lunch! I’m dribbling just thinking about it! My Grandma is always there and she usually falls asleep before the Christmas Pud comes out. She fell asleep IN the Christmas Pud once!

5. Crackers! Do you have crackers? I love them. We are still sitting around the table and we all cross our arms and hold each other’s crackers in a circle and pull -except Grandma who’s still asleep. The loud bang usually makes her jump and she says something like “there’s someone at the door dear” then goes back to sleep again! I must admit to cheating slightly. If you hold the crackers in a certain way you usually get the contents from two of them!

6. Turning on the TV at 3pm for the Queen’s Speech. Like most English families we never miss it. The Queen appears on screen and Daddy insists we all stand up, except Grandma who is still asleep. Her Majesty wishes us all a very heppy Christmas (she says heppy instead of happy because she’s posh). Then she talks about lots of things that she’s done and places where she’s been Queening during the year

6. I like the bit after the Queens Speech too, because we usually all doze off in front of the log fire, except Grandma who wakes and asks what time the Queens Speech will be on! She hasn’t seen it for donkeys years!

Now who shall I pass on this award to? I know, Jadey loves Christmas because it gives her an excuse to bake cakes and things! She’ll probably list her five fave Christmas recipes.


I'm learning my lines

As I think you know, I am teachers little helper in a class of eight year olds at a local school. Right now we are getting ready for this year’s nativity play which the whole school will perform to an audience of doting parents next week.

Normally it’s all-kiddie affair, but for some reason I have been told that I have to take part in it. As far as I know the children said they would go on strike if Miss Pinkerton didn’t join them on stage!I really can’t think why, but I must confess I’m getting quite excited about it.

Right now I’m taking a break from learning my lines. I have been cast as the second tree from the right! The other trees are quite a bit smaller than me, so I do look a little odd up there with my leaves in the clouds!

Oh, I should point out that I am the only tree with a talking part as the others are made from papiere mashe. I don’t think I spelt that right, but you know what I mean – it’s that fabulously gooey stuff made from old newspaper and water and glue paste which you make models from, and stick on kids noses when teacher isn’t watching!

Anyway, I have to point to things with my branches (which are actually my arms but you’d never know it) and I say – let me get this right – “Look, a bright star.... something something” I haven’t quite got the lines in my head just yet!

I know that at one stage I have to say “Look, three wise men are approaching” And later I say just say “Look”. That’s my shortest line.

When I was small I was always given little parts in my school nativity plays. Things which couldn’t go wrong like a sheep or something. One year I was a fire! I was dressed all over in brown so I looked like logs and I had red and yellow gloves which looked like flames. I had to hold my arms in the air and wiggle my fingers, but I could never resist pinching the boys bums just as they were about to speak their lines.

In my last year of little school, my Father insisted I had a starring role. (not being the star silly!!) He was a school governor so he had a bit of clout. Well I got the job of being Mary. And if I say it myself I did it pretty well.

At least, it was going well until I had to pick up the baby Jesus from the crib, and as I did so his head fell off and rolled to the back of the stage. I had to think of something pretty damn quick!

As it happens I was sitting on some sand under a plastic palm tree which was supposed to make the set look deserty, and alongside me were a few hairy coconuts, so I grabbed one of those and held it where Jesus’ head used to be. I thought I’d got away with it until Wise Man 2 looked at it and ad-libbed “I didn’t know Jesus was born with a beard”

Well back to the matter in hand. I have to carry on practicing my lines ready for the rehearsal tomorrow, so you’ll have to excuse me. Bye for now.


my-my! I'm doing a me-me!

Giggles has asked me to take part in a me-me or a mi-mi thing-thing.

I wasn’t entirely sure what it was, so I looked it up and I read that “a meme ( pronounced /mi:mi/) is a unit or element of cultural ideas, symbols or practices that transmit from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomenon”

I was more confused still after reading that! So I thought I’d just do exactly what the rules say, which is open the nearest book to page 46 then write out the fifth sentence on that page, and also the next five on that page. Still not very clear but here goes.

Nearest book is The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K.Rowling. It’s her book of five fairy tales, and the book shop girl told me that it’s one of this Christmas's biggest selling books for young people – like me! Now let’s look at page 45, no 46! Silly me!

The warlock gloried in his indifference and the sagacity that had produced it. ( oo-err! Some long words there!)

The first freshness of youth waned, and the warlock’s peers began to wed, and then to bring forth children.

“Their hearts must be husks” he sneered inwardly, as he observed the antics of the
young parents around him, shriveled by the demands of these mewling offspring!”

Now I have a problem. The book is quite a teenie weanie one and I’ve got to the bottom of the page. Actually the two next sentences are quite short, so I’ll copy them from page 46

And once again he congratulated himself upon the wisdom of his early choice.

In due course the warlock’s parents died.

Now, if you have the faintest idea what that’s all about you are very clever indeed. I haven’t a clue!

I’m supposed to ask five more people to have a go, but I don’t really know everyone well enough yet. Keith said I should ask for volunteers so that’s what I’ll do. I know he’s been tagged (technical term) by Lucy to have a go so I can’t ask him.

I hope I got it right!


Sunday Scribblings - 'I knew instantly'

I knew instantly that I’d like it. I needed a little piece of music for my bloggie so I typed the word Fairy into a site which Keith told me about and up it popped! A song called Fairy Rain by someone called Yoko Asada. As you know I love fairies, but I don’t think I’ve told you that I like rain too.

Do you like walking in the rain? It’s fun. There is nothing I like more than jumping into puddles and looking up into the sky so the raindrops tickle my nose.

About the song.I’ve listened and listened but I can’t hear any words about fairies. Actually I can’t make out a single word!

Do you think perhaps she singing it in Fairy-ish? A language that only those little winged wonders understand. (Little winged wonders!! I like that)

Talking of other languages, someone came up to me the other day and asked me something, but I couldn’t understand her. That’s it really. I don’t know why I mentioned it.

Anyway, I decided that although I can’t make out the words of Fairy Rain I’d keep it because it’s such a pretty song. I hope you like it too.

Ps. I don’t really believe that there is such a language as Fairy-ish! I’m not that stupid. Fairies speak English! Don't they?


Tall cop, fat cop

Hey listen to this. Well, you know I’ve got a new car? Come to think about it I didn’t tell you about it, so I guess you don’t! Well, I have. It’s a pink Smart! It’s so cute I smile every time I see it.

As I was saying, listen to this (I think you say ‘listen up’ in the States – at least they do in the movies)

Last night I was volunteer driver when I went with my friend to the pub. This means I can’t have drink. After I dropped her off I made my way home. It was very dark and it was raining so I drove very carefully.

Well, there I was singing away when I was suddenly half-blinded by a blue flashing light in my mirror. I thought it couldn’t be a fire engine because it was too small, and it wasn’t an ambulance because it didn’t have ECNALUBMA written on the front. Why do they do that? I mean you should be able to tell if you have a blood- wagon behind you without them having to write it backwards for the sake of your mirror. Also if I was helping with an emergency in the street (I am a qualified first-aider don’t forget) and had to call an ambulance, I wouldn’t recognise it because it would just look like a truck delivering Ecnalubmas.

Where was I? Ah, I worked out it was a cop car (I love saying that! It sounds far better than saying police car. I got that from the movies too). The road is very narrow so it couldn't get past me. It occurred to me after a mile or so that perhaps they wanted me to stop, so I pulled over and dropped the window. I didn’t actually DROP the window of course, I wound it down.

“Good evening boys” I said, but they didn’t smile. One of them said rather crossly “Get out of the car please love”

Well I don’t like being called love. I don’t mind when my Gran says it, but I don’t expect it from someone I don’t know. “I’m not your love “I said. In retrospect (that means in hindsight) it was probably not the right thing to say, because they looked slightly rattled. So I got out.

The conversation went something like this.

Me “Why have you stopped me?”

Tall cop “Because you were driving too slowly”

Me “I was driving carefully because I am not used to the car”

Chubby cop “Is this your car love - sorry, madam” (sarcastic turd)

Me “Not really"

Well that was almost certainly the wrong thing to say. Actually it was the right thing because it actually belongs to my Father’s car dealership and he lets me use it as if it were mine, but under the circumstances it was the wrong thing to say. I explained the situation and he asked if I was properly insured to drive it. I said I thought I probably was, and again I think I should have thought it out before I opened my cake-hole ( If my mum reads this she’ll tell me off for using a vulgar expression!)

So the tall cop got on his walkie-talkie thing and spoke to someone called Over, until he reluctantly conceded that I was permitted to drive it (did you spot my joke – someone called Over!)

Then to add insult to injury fat cop asked if I had been drinking. I should have just said no. After all, that would have been a truthful answer. Instead I said “Well, I have spent all evening in the pub” So he went back to his car and got this thing you breath in to – a breathalyser I think it’s called.

Fat cop “Blow in here until I tell you to stop”

Me “I’d rather not I don’t know where it’s been”

Tall cop “Just blow madam”

Well I blew as best I could but it seems I wasn’t blowing hard enough. The thing is, at finishing school (I love saying that – it sounds so posh!) we were told never to blow out our cheeks because it looks unladylike. “One puffs, not blows ladies” Anyway, I gave in and did as I was told, and they reluctantly agreed that I had no trace of alcohol on my breath.

Eventually I got away. They said they wanted to leave first as they did not want to get stuck behind me for miles as they hoped to be back in time for breakfast.

That’s it really. Now I read it back it’s not that interesting, so if you haven’t made it to the end I’ll understand, not that you know I understand because you won’t have read it!

Here is a photo of my car. Bye bye.


sunday scribblings - tradition

Now this is a tradition I love. Hanging up a bunch of mistletoe at Christmas! I got mine yesterday and I’m eagerly awaiting my first mistletoe kiss of the season.

The priest popped round just now with a leaflet thing about Christmas services at his church, and I saw him looking at it. He had me worried for a moment I can tell you! His wasn’t the first kiss I had in mind.

I thought I’d try a write a serious composition about mistletoe (are bits of writing still called compositions like they were at school?) so I looked up on that wicki-picki-poodle thing. Wow! It was full of Latin words and ancient history. Hardly a thing about kissing! I did find out that it’s the national emblem of Oklahoma – I bet Missy gets sore lips this time of year!

So I’ll stick to what I already know. I know that you are allowed one kiss for every berry on the sprig. Some years this is good, some years this is bad and I have to buy artificial ones! One year berries kept falling off on the bus going home! What a swizz! I also know that you are supposed to remove a berry after each kiss. I don’t really hold with that tradition so I don’t stick to it. (What do you call a tradition that’s no longer a tradition? I thought of extradition but that means something completely different)

I heard on the radio today that in England we get lot of our mistletoe from France. I also heard that you have to ‘French kiss’ under French mistletoe. NO THANKS! Tongues – yuc! It’s especially bad if the kissee has been indulging in that other French tradition, chewing garlic.

That reminds me. I recently bought a lovely necklace. Well I think it’s lovely. It’s like large brown balls on a string. Someone said I looked very French so I said ‘what do you mean?’, and he said it looked like I had a string of onions around my neck. I didn’t understand, so he said ‘that’s what the traditional image of a Frenchman looks like’. I said that when I was in Paris last year I didn’t see any girls using stinky onions as jewellery.

Anyway, my sprig of mistletoe looks fantastic and I’ve been practising puckering up in front of the mirror. I’m ready lads!

Keith has written a story about me for Sunday Scribblings. I've not read it yet, I'm saving it for later. If I've done this right you can click here and find yourself there - if you see what mean