Friday, 29 January 2016

Coat Hangers

If there is one thing that will always remind me of my children’s student years, it is coathangers.  When we delivered Carenza to her student room recently, the first thing out of the box was a Gordian knot of cheap plastic coathangers.
For without coathangers there is muddle.
Of course, if one espouses the floordrobe method , there is no need for them.  And indeed, I cannot see any disadvantage in having the floor continually strewn with layers of partially worn clothing, now irredeemably crumpled.  It probably helps to attract friends and partners too. And is also a good place to store snack crumbs.
However, for us less enlightened beings who persist in using coathangers, we experience a tidal flow situation.  When the children return to university, suddenly there are hordes of hangers, clinging to the knobs of chests of drawers, scaling the front of wardrobes. 
The first time this happened, Nigel scooped up a bundle and delivered them to Oxfam.  But when the children returned there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  With the coathangers gone, they would HAVE to leave their clothes in an enormous jumble on the floor.  Something they would never normally do. (!)
Now I have commandeered the Black Sock Hamper (a different story – later) and we fill it with the surplus hangers.  Over the months of term time the hangers must pine for their former owners, as they emerge looking thin and wiry, but they are soon taken away and employed. 

When the coathanger drought arrives and the hamper is empty, we will know that at last our children are home for the holidays.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016


You shouldn’t go shopping for a particular occasion. Unless you are, say, the bride.
New is not necessarily better.  
But an occasion is coming up. A certain pair of people are turning 21 and we shall celebrate.
For me, the same simple black velvet dress has done duty for about fifteen years. But it is sleeveless and I suspect  that is no longer a good look for me.
So I scrambled the Ford Fiesta and set off to raid the end of the sale at Monsoon. Everything I tried on looked frumpy. The designer seemed to think that if you wanted sleeves you must also wish to hide your cleavage. And probably your legs too. Bah!
There were however hods of one promising sequinned number in just my size. In the changing room I saved it until last. Then I discovered the reason so many were left. They were smaller than their declared size.  Stuck with my arms over my head I called to the assistant to cut me out. But it was the sale. There was no assistant. 
So I spent some time writhing free. Like an anaconda shedding its skin. To add insult to injury, the nylon lining had electrified my hair and it was standing  on end (see pic).
I gave up. It would have to be the old dress and a shrug.  Yummy.
Then on Saturday I was on my lunch break, nipped into M&S, and spotted  the “will anybody please take this off our hands” rail.  Gleaming at me was a black dress with a bronze sheen. It had sleeves AND a deep neckline.   It cost less than £20, but it makes me feel like a princess (albeit an elderly one, like maybe Princess Ann).

Perhaps that is why people go shopping for new outfits.  

Sunday, 10 January 2016


Today the last child is being delivered back to university.
Come to that, she is the ONLY child that we actually deliver.  Carenza has more luggage than the boys as she has to clear out her belongings each holiday so that her college room can be let for conferences.

But it’s not easy for the boys either – by the time Perran got home for Christmas, the wheels had come off his enormous holdall and because his phone was broken, he couldn’t ring us from the station.  What a drag!

Plus, Perran always seems to have less stuff with him when he arrives home than he does when he leaves. The “stuff” must be accumulating in Bristol.  I haven’t yet seen Perran’s accommodation this year.  However, I have a mental picture of it as a huge repository of interesting curios – the kind of place Harry Potter might go to pick up a second-hand wand.

The kind of place which we shall have to clear out over the summer when he moves.

Poor Pascoe returned to Edinburgh a week ago at the end of a family visit to the Northumberland grandparents.  He left after the rest of us which meant he had to carry with him a very bulky sleeping bag that we had accidentally failed to shove in the car. Given how much stuff he was already carrying,  I have no idea how he managed it.

And I kind of wish he hadn’t.  
Because Nigel and I will be visiting him in February and will have to bring it back on the train.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Where is my goat?

Rather than bemoaning Christmas as a commercial feeding frenzy with a heartless vacuum at its core, many of my friends see it as an opportunity to support the organisations they care about and express their values.

As ever some of the best Christmas gifts this year came via Oxfam.  Pascoe bought me a training package for a teacher in the developing world, and John, a friend whom I help get to church, got me a goat.

Usually I would be happy to think of people in some developing country with great big smiles on their faces, lives transformed by the gift of a goat or teaching resources.

But just this year, I feel slightly peeved not to have access to the goat.  The weather has been so warm that our grass has kept on growing.  I could really do with that goat to mow the lawn.