Showing posts from February, 2013

Beating the Blues

I am not a fan of February, not least because I emerge from it a year older than I entered it. The frigid temperatures, which I embrace so eagerly as a proper accompaniment to Christmas, have lost their savour and my winter pelt, so fondly cultivated during the shortest days, is impatient for a spring trim. By the end of this brutish little month I have lost my inner sunshine. I am fractious with my children and neglectful of my Hoover. Days confronted from beneath the rim of my duvet require energies I do not possess and my daily wardrobe is limited to the two jumpers capacious enough to accommodate a hot water bottle underneath. Most cruelly, Lent falls plumb in the middle of this doleful time, depriving me of my twin props of beer and Bendicks Bittermints. Last weekend, however, I stumbled upon an astonishing remedy for the February blues. It doesn't come cheap - at £3 it cost me more than a dose of Peroni - but boy, is it effective! The first time I tried it the world looke

How to Save Your Relationship

In olden days there were four customary remedies when you awoke to find that your life's partner no longer inflamed you: divorce court, adultery, counselling or gin. Progress, however, has supplied a new option to reignite a relationship - all you need is a keyboard and a good memory for past grievances.  Eli Finkel, a US Professor of Psychology, has devised a seven-minute audit which, when completed by couples every four months, should strengthen and lengthen their union, and there must be something in it because the results were published in the cerebral journal, Psychological Science . A key component of this audit is a resume of a recent rows. This presents a difficulty. I've never knowingly had a row with the Vicar. He's too good-natured and apologetic and I'm too idle to rouse myself to wrath. Brief sulks, maybe and occasional peevishness, but the professor is after far meatier fare than this. Then it occurs to me that his hypothesis is flawed. Revisiting past

A Brief Guide to Vicarage Life

It can happen to any man. One minute they're running an oil company from a mansion in Mayfair, the next they're living off a clergy stipend on a council estate. I've seen the shock on the faces of wives who married a publican and ended up ironing cassocks when the Calling came. There's no telling at what stage of life the Church can claim them. All you can do, ladies, is to lay in some tweed and some cake tins, so that you are ready if the time should come. In the meantime, here are some pointers to recognise whether your home has become a vicarage: Women you've never met before are liable to emerge at any time of day and evening from your husband's study.  Men you've never met before are liable to require admittance at any time of day and evening when you're alone in the house in your Marigolds. You are gyrating to the Bee Gees with a potato-masher mike when you discover an archdeacon in the hallway. Your children are cataloguing your materna

Hat Tricks

The eight-year-old has acquired a thinking hat. It's a formidable piece of headgear which enables the wearer to unlock cosmic mysteries. By its powers he hopes to storm the indecipherable code that is his school reading book and to locate the lost key to his diary. And, miraculously, he does find that errant key and his reading, when the hat is on his head (and his new glasses on his nose), is noticeably improved. I have therefore set my sights on this hat. There are many cosmic mysteries that I should like unravelled; many powers I wish to acquire. I plan to sport it in the supermarket to gauge the fastest check-out queue and to wear it in church to banish Boden bargains from my mind during the Eucharistic prayer. Behatted, I should be able to answer my children's questions about why cats don't have to eat greens and what are seven times eight. Most of all, though, I should like the hat to reveal: Why my hair is migrating from my head to my chin.  Why, after three


Beneath the surface is the prompt for this week's 100 Word Challenge at Julia's Place . This morning I visited an auction room where the harvests from local house clearances are displayed before going under the hammer. Antique bureaus stood beside 1970s kitchen cabinets; Victorian chaises longues beside wicker sofas. Someone's bowling kit was mixed in with a warming pan, a china doll, a fur coat and a ukelele. I'd gone in agog for a bargain and emerged chastened by a pair of bedside tables circa 1960... The scars on the two small tables chart fifty years of married life. Now, shorn of context, they stand degraded, their plywood cheapness shown up by someone else's ornate oak wardrobe. I wince at the intimacy of the objects, exposed to the assessing eyes of strangers. To the auctioneer they are catalogue numbers with a pitiful reserve price, but beneath the surface I catch poignant echoes of dismantled lives. And I realise that the treasures of my o