The house in which we currently live probably dates originally to the seventeenth century. According to the local Conservation Officer, its Georgian date-stone, inserted into a blind window space that was probably bricked up in response to the Window Tax Acts of 1696 onwards, doesn’t match its internal construction, which is definitely Stuart.

When it was modernised in the late twentieth century, after lying derelict for thirty-odd years, part of the old scullery was turned into a downstairs lavatory. The rest remains a laundry/store/mudroom combo, housing washing machine, sink, drying racks, ironing board, cleaning equipment, freezer and boot lockers.

G has dubbed the space the ‘lootility room’.

Love it.


I’ve had a tab with a news story about Edensor open for two years on my phone browser, while I waited to find another word that rhymed with ‘credenza’, (a term that annoys me considerably when American authors put it into the mouths of their British characters in UK-set novels).

Now, thanks to visit to Castle Howard, where there hangs a copy of Fra Angelico’s ‘The Saved’, executed by an an artist with ‘Vincenzo’ in his name, I can finally close it down. Just another 64 to go.

This limerick was, of course, originally inspired by Brian Bilston’s ‘Name Calling‘ thread on Twitter.

A Derbyshire lady, Vincedensor,
Domiciled in the village of Edensor,
Had a spat with a Yank
When she told him, point-blank:
“It’s a sideboard, Sir, NOT a ‘crededensor'”.



<Brrrr brrrinnngg>

Papa (on speakerphone): Hello?

Voice: Is that G?

Papa: No, it’s G’s father.

Voice: This is <organisation> responding to a voicemail left yesterday. Can you tell me G’s date of birth, please?

Papa: Oh-one oh-eight oh-two.

Voice: First of August. Twenty-oh-two?

Papa (dryly) : I hardly think I’d have still been around to answer the phone as G’s father, if it had been nineteen-oh-two.


Last ever visit to Inpatient Hospital. G’s course of treatment is finished. The consultant checks G over for the final time, discusses discharge documentation, hands us on to the senior nurse to arrange for letters to be sent.

The nurse turns sentimentally reminiscent. “Long time you’ve been with us, G – goodness me, over ten years! I remember the first time you came here and met the team.”

“I just remember too many people in the room,” says G.

“There were fourteen of them,” I say. “I counted.”

“Your Mum’s always been the great one for accuracy,” says the nurse, laughing. “I’ll never forget her pulling out your file in that first meeting. Anything we asked, she riffled through that enormous lever arch folder to find an exact answer for everything.” She clatters away on her keyboard for a while, then turns back to G. “That’s you done. I feel a little bit sad – we’ll miss you. Before CoViD, I’d have offered you a goodbye hug, but we are not allowed to do that now.”

G gives her the trademark blank-faced basilisk stare, then says, “Suits me. I’ve never been a huggy person, even before CoViD.”

SATS: Day 2.

Today we name parts of speech. Yesterday,
We had spelling and punctuation. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have reading and comprehension. But to-day,
Today we name parts of speech. Dandelion clocks
Flutter and disintegrate timelessly over the sports field
And today we name parts of speech.

In this sentence, draw a ring around the subordinate clause. And in this,
Delineate the main clause in a similar manner. Define the characteristics
Of (a) a main clause (b) a subordinate clause (c) the subjunctive mood,
Which in your case you’ve had no time to study. Above the treetops,
The clouds’ broad brushes limn celestial works of art,
Which in our case we’ve had no time to study.

In this sentence, carefully identify the fronted adverbials.
State how you know they are (a) fronted (b) adverbial; and please do not let me
Hear anyone objecting that, “You cannot have ‘an adverbial’ because ‘adverbial’ is an adjective, not a noun,” – you can do it quite easy
If you nounify your adjectives. On the windowpane, a ladybird
Trundles soundlessly in search of the sun, never letting anyone hear
Her objecting to the nounification of her adjectives.

You have been given a word mat. The purpose of this
Is to provide you with adverbials of feelings, manner, time and location. You must use them
Appropriately to front the verbal phrases below: we call this
Completing one’s sentence. And beyond the casements,
The swallows fly without cease from mud-patch to eaves:
They call it completing one’s sentence.

They call it completing one’s sentence: it is perfectly easy
If you nounify your adjectives: like the word-mat,
And the verbs, and the pronouns, and the prepositions,
Which in our case we’ve had no time to study; and the captive insects,
Desperate to reach skies beyond the glass; and the swallows condemned to an endless backwards and forwards,
For today we name of parts of speech.

With apologies and gratitude to the shade of Henry Reed, whose unsurpassable (if highly imitable) original I first read when I was only a very little older than today’s SATS-takers; and which has stayed with me down the decades since.


Phone call from a chap with an Indian accent: “This is Pharma delivery service. I have a parcel with medicine for Grenouille Chrome, I am on Chrome Approaches but I can’t find your house.”

This has happened frequently over the last 20 months: at least once a week, often involving consignments of G’s multifarious supplies. GPS systems seem incapable of locating a house that predates postcodes by over 200 years. Instead, they take delivery drivers to the new flats in the cul-de-sac around the corner (which are built on what used to be this house’s farmyard).

So I say, “If you’re on Chrome Approaches, I could come up to the top of the drive and look out for you?”

“I’m by the new flats.”

Turns out he isn’t. Gazing out of our window as he speaks, I see a high-sided white Transit turn into Farmyard Flats Cul-de-Sac, having passed the house again.

“Is that you in the big white van? If you look to your left, can you see an old cottage? That’s us.”

Leaving him to turn round once more, I hang up, go and put my shoes on and trot up to the top of the drive.

The van is parked right across the pavement, and the chap is in the back, clipboard in hand, scrabbling around amongst the packages.

Presently, he emerges, pulling his mask up. “I am so sorry, they have listed the delivery on my schedule but they haven’t put the package on the van. I will have to find out what has happened when I get back to the depot. Maybe it will be here tomorrow.”

He brightens. “At least I will know where to come next time!”

Hundred pounds to a few small potatoes says ‘next time’, it’ll be a different driver.



, , , ,

Had to phone the DWP to tell them that G had been evicted from hospital sooner than expected (PIP, reinstatement, for the purpose of).

After a solid 10 minutes of listening to options and irrelevant public service announcements broadcast on a RACALL-type system, I was then treated to an interrogation whereby I had to input information (G’s full name, NI number, DoB, address, GP details etc.) via an automated voicemail system.

Finally, I got through to a real human being (by this time, I had wandered off upstairs with the handset, brushed my teeth, made the bed and was sorting a load of laundry):

“Can I have the claimant’s name, please? And NI number/DoB/address/GP?”

“I’ve just given all that information to your robot-woman, hasn’t she passed it on?”


It would appear that the entire automated system is there just to waste my time and the public’s money.

There are definitely days when one wishes one were in the proximity of these machines with an axe. Definitely days.




Filled out the household Census form this afternoon, like the worthy and responsible citizens that we are. The last census I remember filling out for myself was way back in 1991, when I was a single twenty-something in a flat of my own, but as I’d have been pregnant during the 2001 census, it probably failed to register and in 2011 we were on the move, so it’s likely that both times I just filled in my bit and left the rest to P.

Not today. The envelope with the purple leaflet and the code for the online form arrived some time last week and was laid aside for the weekend. This afternoon, I fired up the laptop and typed in the code. P said he was happy for me to enter his answers, which were entirely of the white-bread variety.

When it came to my turn, I answered the mandatory questions seriously, but my sense of the absurd overtook me when I got to the voluntary ones. I answered them, but am not in the least bit regretful that my answers are more likely to provide amusement for twenty-second-century historians, than data for twenty-first-century number-crunchers.

G, like Papa, was up for dictating answers. We rattled through name, address, date and place of birth, but when it came to ‘How would you describe your national identity?’ (“Wassat mean?” “It means which country do you feel you belong to – Britain, England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland?”), G turned thoughtful and then positively philosophical.

“Britain isn’t a country, is it? I don’t really belong to England because I’m allowed to be Irish as well, my passports say so and I’ve got cousins in Scotland and France and Italy and Canada…. So I’m all-sorts, really.”

“Okay, so if we tick ‘other’, down here, we can type in whatever you like on the next page, how’s that? What do you want me to put?”

“English. And Irish. And all the rest.”

“Do you feel like you belong to Canada or Italy, though? Your cousins belong there, but do you?”

“S’pose not Canada, ‘cos I’ve never been there. But def’nitely France and Italy.”

“You wouldn’t be able to get a French or Italian passport, though, would you? Does that make France and Italy different from England and Ireland?”

G went to the drawer in the study where we keep the passports, turned them over, stared at the photographs and the covers.

“What’s these words on both ‘f them?”

“European Union.”

“C’n I put European, then?”

“Certainly, and I suppose that would sort-of cover France and Italy as well.”

“Yes. An’ then put Allsorts.”

I did as I was instructed and we ploughed on until we came to ‘Which of the following best describes your sexual orientation?’

“What?” said G.

“Your sexual orientation means whether you fancy boys or girls.”

G’s expression shifted, slowly, into an outrage that would have done credit to a Victor Meldrew or Hyacinth Bucket.

“Why d’they want to know that?”

I clicked on the ‘Why do we ask this question’ link.

“Says you’ll be helping your community get the services needed now and in the future.”

G snorted. “I need services for my dis’bilities. Not for fancying people.”

“It’s a voluntary question, you don’t have to answer it.”

“I’m not going to answer it. ‘Sides, I haven’t decided yet. ‘M much too busy foc’ssing on gettin’ back to College to finish my BTEC, to worry about who I fancy.”