Saturday, September 28, 2013

High Flyer

Mary Lampeter, aged 28, with all the qualifications, confronts the financial director of  Universal Words, but does she want the top job on offer? See my new story on One Fine Day.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Today's very short story in One Fine Day ( see right hand column for,link)concerns the repetition of a single word. Go on I dare you. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

An iPad features in a new take on a Greek myth. See One Fine Day link right hand column.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


As last year at this time this blog is taking a breather. To replace it for the next few days I shall be posting a series of stories on One Fine Day ( http// ) If you have visited Best of Now in the last few days and been disappointed it is down to a combination of birthday celebrations and an elusive wi fi now restored thanks possibly to the intercession of Santa Tecla.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Home made emoticon  = You have me there. I just don't know!

A photograph in the Independent shows a seemingly endless line of people winding up the track leading to the top of Snowdon in North Wales. It is the easy route I seem to remember but easy or hard it strikes me as  horribly overcrowded. When I last walked up that way there was no one in front and no one behind us, though we met  one or two coming down. People I believe now  queue to climb Mount Everest which less than 100 years  ago no one had reached the and survived. High time to explore space to escape our fellow humans.

As I draw to the end of L'Abesse de Castro,  a long short story by Stendhal,  feeling compelled to read more Stendhal, I reach for my copy of Le Rouge et Le Noir, but the prints is small and densely spread across the page. Can Amazon help me with a  Kindle French edition. For some reason you can't obtain Kindle editions from Amazon, France in the UK. And Yes. Within a couple of minutes it is installed. And at zero cost. Kindle has its drawbacks. But this is  reassuring. And with a French dictionary on board I feel wonderfully relaxed about the project.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Textures, sap, fruit and forecasts

Cloud and rooftop. A contrast in textures,

While sap still runs in the leaves,  fruit, nuts and conkers ripen and fall. Climbing beans hang ever more densely on the vines and butter nut squash ripen among their foliage. Autumn is upon us and Winter looms. Seed catalogues arrive through the post with promise of a new growing cycle. Paul the gardener opines with a capacity for stating the obvious rivalling even my own that one season follows another.

Yesterday's forecast promised gales and heavy rain for the country as a whole. Yet outside the window  this morning the leaves are  so still they might have been carved out of stone and the sun shines from a misty blue sky. By this afternoon the prophecy begins to be proved true. Rain drops speckle the window pane.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Ruby, flexible and blind driving

Leaf of ruby chard too beautiful to cook.

This morning in the window of an antique shop a notice catches my eye. It reads: "Baby Sitter Available and Flexible."

In an awkward corner of the  fitted kitchen is a deep  cupboard which  contains two circular rotating shelves, avoiding what would otherwise be wasted space. In the 25 years since its installation I have never been  sure how the spindle on which the shelves turn  is fixed. Until today that is when the plate to which it is attached looses a screw and the whole  shebang loaded with jugs and things slips sideways.
 DIY has diminishing attractions for me especially when it involves kneeling, half lying on the floor, feeling for the screw holes, inserting the screws and driving them home blind. Not only that, but the floor of the cupboard under the rotating shelves is covered with the sort of sticky dust you find only  in kitchens. Not only do I manage the screwing bit, but fixing a damp cloth to the end of a broom handle, I succeed with unaccustomed athleticism in reaching and removing the dirt of a quarter of a century. I don't enjoy it at the time, but having done it, I feel as though I have run in a race and won a prize. If I had any strength left I would reach behind me and pat myself on the back.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Trainers, woe and exercise

A pair of trainers discarded on the wooden slats of one of The Grove rubbish bins.

"Woe is wondrously clinging: the clouds ride by." I rather like this anonymous Anglo-Saxon observation quoted in the Faber Book of Aphorisms.

How absurd! I spend two days polishing and  seeking advice on a 150 word short story. It is an entry for the weekly competition in The Spectator magazine. Entries are supposed to have an "ingenious twist" at the end. My chief reason for taking the trouble is my professional interest in short stories demonstrated in my other blog, One Fine Day. So this is little more than an exercise, which I shall soon forget about. But I am half enjoying myself.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Glut, defence and peaceful sleep

Beans. They are now growing so densely that I have no time to take photographs. This was taken a few days ago.  It's pick, pick all  the time. Neighbours are suffering as much as ourselves from the glut which I channel in their direction. In a couple of weeks we'll have the white  beans from inside the pod to blanch and sauté  with a little garlic.

"Going anywhere interesting?" Another bit of automatic speak, this time from a man in a travel shop who assumes that I am going anywhere at all, which I may or may not be. "Usual," I say, a recent defence against this new kind of small talk. "Going on holiday?" another shop person says, "Sort of," I say.
"Oat straw flower, licorice root,  chamomile flower, lavender flower, lime flower, valerian root, tulsi leaf,"  so reads the list of ingredients on  the packet of  Pukka Night Time, a herbal tea promoting "peaceful sleep". I normally sleep peacefully but some who don't tell that they do after a cup of it in the evening. I try  some and find that when I wake I remember my dreams which is unusual for me.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bliss, weeds and getting it wrong.

The young. The Forum  on the edge of The Common is a place to go for gigs in Tunbridge Wells.

Weeds by R Lloyd Praeger is one of the books which I refer to from time because it gives me a new perspective. Many wild flowers loved and fostered by naturalists and even gardeners qualify at some time or other to be listed as weeds. What is a weed then? Any plant growing where people don't want it to grow. I mentioned Persicaria (also known as knotweed)  the other day, because I keep seeing it in formal flower beds and on the market stalls of nurserymen. At first acquaintance I rather ignored it. Its closeness to dock and mountain sorrel,  plants of course appearance with unimpressive flowers, may be the explanation. But its flowers are altogether more striking and its leaves less intrusive. Praegar has little time for it."The main point," he writes, "as in the case of all annual plants, is to prevent seeding; this is accomplished by energy in hoeing and hand pulling."

Though looking back  I guess that I am or have been wrong in my views and judgements much of the time. Fifty per cent  right would be a good score. I wonder if others can claim to do much better.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Viola, scent of herbs and fatted cattle

 A solitary yellow viola self-seeded in the black painted wall of The Compasses. And the shadow of the photographer.

Cutting basil as the scent rises from the snipped stem is equalled only as a sensual experience by the fresh onion scent when cutting the grass-like leaves of chives.

"Why would anyone want to be a vegetarian?" asks a meaty young man to another as he steps out of The Compasses amid the odour of  the Sunday roast emerging from the kitchen like the smoke from fatted cattle burned in their honour  reaching the nostrils of the Greek gods on Mount Olympus.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Chard, sad and clever and rubber gloves

Chard is flourishing at the moment.  Here is some freshly  cut  ready for supper. Stalks, red yellow and cream. Leaves, deep green, veined and immense.

"Sad" is a word used by the young in a new and rather nasty way to suggest something unsavoury rather than a state of sorrow. In the supermarket a young shelf-stacker says to another: "it would be really sad if you knew where everything was in the whole store..." Snicker, snicker, "...even the nutritional information." The other other cultural feature  here is to look down on knowledge and achievement. An English attitude well illustrated by  the expression invariably used in contempt: "too clever by half". No body want to be seen to be clever. And many take that as an excuse to try not to be clever. And too often succeed.  If you happen to be clever, keep it under your hat, boy!  Me, I'm not clever.  Really. But I am clever enough to like and enjoy the company of clever people in preference to those who espouse semi-conscious idleness bereft of intelligence and curiosity.

High on the list of objects that make me laugh are rubber gloves, particularly when they flop around untenanted. Through a window I see a pair hanging over a the tap above a sink, plastic, yellow sausages pretending to be fingers.  I feel like laughing. I think I will.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

A solitary drink, swift stories and Champagne fantasy

A glass of wine

In a review of Philip Pullman's retelling of Grimm's fairy tales, my eye is caught by his take on the stories. "The great value of fairy tales is their swiftness," he write."All we need is the word 'once' and we're off..." It's what I feel about short stories and why I continue to write and post very short ones in One Fine Day.

Sometimes I linger in Sainbury's wine department by the Champagne shelves where a bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée  in carton sits beside one of  Dom Perignon. The Krug is £129.99 for a bottle and the Dom Perignon £113. I see on the Krug carton  a note indicating that it is empty and  there only for display purposes. "Customers wishing to make a purchase should seek the help of staff".  A wine buff comes up behind me and confirms what I already know that  the Krug is worth the difference in price against the Dom Perignon. Only problem is ....

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Reunited, headphones and lebensraum

 Here is the black and white cat, Luna,  cause of consternation round  here when it thought it was  lost recently, now  reunited with  its owner. It is,  you will see if you look closely, on a leash. Evidently it is given to walking off and getting lost from time time. I am glad to see it, so contented, a contrast to the pitiable creature encountered just a few days ago, when an elderly lady carried her to a nearby cat-carer for love and attention.

A sucker for electronic devices I  am always relieved when I see something I don't want. At the top of the list are headphones. It may sound foolish but I like music to be free in the open air. The idea of it being confined to speakers clamped to my ear does not appeal. Nor do I want to exclude entirely other sounds. May be it is a primitive instinct to keep  on the alert for  predators  shared with animals in the wild  which sleep with one  eye open.

Oh those beans. Today in the drizzle I pick and drop  them into a bag  while the tendrils winding  over the top of the pyramids and other supporting structures, strive to recruit me as an additional pole for their endless lebensraum campaign. I picture myself , my feet threaded to the ground, embraced by the spiralling stems and clambering leaves, blinded by the beans which hang like green rain before my eyes. Much as I love this vegetable world I long to be on holiday  by the sea where beans don't grow.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Full frontal, drunk and comments

The  pigeon pictured the other day but  this time looking towards the camera.

The attitude towards wasps in our  household has matured over the years. Nowadays  we practise toleration. We allow the insects  to satisfy  their hunting  and gathering  instincts, in pursuit of food for their queen and youngsters. On the whole we have found the policy brings its rewards. If we are not aggressive neither are they. Or so we thought. Until the other day  when one descends from the nowhere and stings  my dear other half on the neck. No revenge is taken but a wariness develops; trust is frayed at the edges; the relationship if not in peril has chilled. Today comes an explanation. It seems that at this time of year wasps feed on over ripe fruit where the sugars have begun to ferment. Drunk you say? The wasp is drunk. But is that and excuse for an unprovoked attack? Ladies and gentlemen of the jury...

Attention all those who have been deprived of  making comments here. I have reverted to the old, simple template in the hope that Blogger will prove itself more cooperative. Tell me please dear visitors if it works. I hope so. Comments are like cold beer in a heat wave.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

I said the fly, legality and Bearnaise sauce


Who am I, says the Law Giver,  to define The Law? If  not I, who?

For a birthday lunch a Bearnaise sauce. For the liaison, beaten eggs; for the flavour, vinegar and tarragon;  to enrich and sanctify, clarified butter drop by  drop.

I am  sorry that visitors are having difficulty  finding the comment box. Divine intervention perhaps.? I  truly hope not, To look forward to comments is only human.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Pigeonhood, precision and pollen

Being a pigeon.

Wild is not an epithet I can get used to when it is applied to fish. They are taciturn and have serious expressions which remind me of bilious humans pursued by worries.  Of course fishmongers and restaurateurs use the term  to indicate that the fish in question are not farmed but I wish sometimes for another more precise word.

Some of the bee-attracting plants which I have been so successful in the vegetable garden this year are good for cutting. The flowers do not last long so you have to pick those with the liveliest appearance, petals glistening, newly opened for business. They are surely laden with the most pollen.  So I find myself waiting while the bees ahead of me busy themselves with  the freshest flowers. They are  the same ones that catch my eye but for different reasons.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Poppies, wicked fairies and make-up

Poppies have been flowering throughout the summer among the bands of bee-attracting plants on the edge of the vegetable garden.

Flossies ice cream parlour has acquired a tricycle with a refrigerated container in front. It carries the legend  "Stop me and buy one". It reminds me of such devices  which were around when I was a child.  Today, among the ice creams displayed  in wells when the lid is opened is one of  bright and sinister blue colour. "It's bubble gum flavour," says the vendeuse. "The kids love it."
My memory when my parents stopped the car to buy one  from the Walls Ice cream  tricycle on the way to Eastbourne about 76 years ago  is of tubs, cornets, choc ices and triangular water ices. But no bubble gum.
 Had their been cornets of blue ice cream available I would have shunned it, I know. Another memory of the time is of a box of chocolates which I had been given, and which I was allowed to broach once a day. Among the chocolates were violet creams. If I was unlucky enough to bite into one of these, it went straight out of the window for I was convinced that chocolates of such  a colour must be poisonous and planted there by an evil fairy. The chocolates which my Mother discovered when weeding the rose beds  under the window of my room were hard to explain.

Although we are officially into Autumn high summer still prevails. Leaves remain green and the flowers are abuzz with bees.  So  the advertisements  in Sunday newspaper for tulip and daffodil bulbs seem out of order: small children experimenting with their mothers' make-up.

Monday, September 02, 2013

New house, parole and disguise

Scaffolding where builders are still working on the new house next to the vegetable garden. Photo no. 2 in the series,
Old people in supermarkets and other public places  sometimes have a diffident look about them as though they are on parole and are  being watched for good behaviour. A thought  prompted by couple  of oldies who  waver in the check-out queue as though not certain of their place in such a purposeful world  I do not include myself in this category. Yet.

The climbing French beans  in the garden are on the edge of a glut. The blue skinned variety are disguised  by shadows which mimic their shape  when you go to pick them ; the plump green one by their colour which is the same as the leaves and stems among which they hang.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Lace, baby and little green fingers

 This year's lace cap hydrangea

Alone in  a bench in The Grove a young man (cropped hair, brown jacket, blue jeans, suede shoes) is feeding  from a bottle a very small baby nestled in his arms. 

A glut of courgettes (zucchini) is becoming an embarrassment. Having  already distributed a recipe for a grated courgette frittata and suggested other means of ingenious means of cooking them, I detect fear in the eyes of neighbours when they see me approaching with a basket of the vegetables. Neighbours are beginning to tire of them I can see. But to day  while cutting the hedge I manage to off load several pounds to passers by whom I know enough to approach. To my pleasure they are gratefully received, even when  the little green fingers, neglected for a day or so, have grown into  marrows.