Friday, 31 December 2010

A New Year hug and a poem to make you smile

Right, that’s the third turkey dealt with and only 360 days to the next one.  

We had a fabulous roast turkey and all the trimmings at a friend’s house on Christmas Day, another delicious one at my niece’s on Boxing Day… and I was told Christmas wasn’t Christmas if we didn’t have one at home as well, even if only for ourselves.  So a 13 pounder made its appearance and I spent all day yesterday preparing both it and the 101 vegetables to accompany it.  A shaky moment was overcome when it was discovered that the reason it’s breast looked like a size zero model with her cheeks sucked in was because I had started to baste it upside down.  Once I had it right side up all was satisfactory, to John’s infinite relief.

On each of these three occasions the lapband stopped me from outright bingeing, and I consumed less than half the quantity I used to have.  However I’m not kidding myself because that was still way too much, and though I’ll never even say the words “New Year Resolution” out loud because I invariably fail at this sort of promise, clearly I need to have a “cunning plan” of some kind, the first brave step of which will be to climb on the scales.

But just for now, let me look back briefly at the road travelled so far, and thank all the bloggers – bandits or not – who have left me with kind and encouraging comments.  They sooo make a difference, if for no other reason than that they coax me to stay out there in blogland, talking about it, instead of skulking silently, enviously reading other blogs and not trying to talk through the stumbling block.  

If you’re reading this and you haven’t lost weight in a while – or blogged – i.e. a ‘skulker’, please let me offer a crumb of comfort.  While you’re still reading bandit blogs it means you still care, and you still want to do something about it.  Take the next step – write about it in your blog, don’t assume the world only loves a winner, and it’s just you that seems to find them irritating.  They’re irritating for only one reason:  they’re ahead of you.  The successful bandits I read are all lovely people – it’s just that we don’t/can’t share their inner happiness; if they knew how we felt, they would be just as sympathetic as we are to each other.  If you don’t communicate your sense of failure, how can anyone help?

So why don’t we resolve this new year to keep our blogs updated, even if not about weight loss issues, and not make lack of weight loss an excuse for going silent?

A new year’s hug to each and every person who reads this blog, even if they accessed it at random!


This is a poem of John’s which he wrote for a newspaper competition themed “On breaking new year resolutions” – but didn’t win.  I kept it on my notice board at the office till it was faded and yellow.  I’m happy to report he did eventually give up smoking 60 a day some 9 years later and hasn’t smoked at all since.

On Breaking New Year Resolutions

By J D Humphreys
(January 1990)

Writing Competition, The Independent.. 
Prizes:  Umbrian oil or magnum of champagne

New Year’s Day:  Heard the news?
No more fags, no more booze.
Jan the 5th:  Dear God! The thirst!
People say I’m past the worst.
Come the 10th – nearly raving;
Curse tobacco and the craving.
Now the 15th’s come and gone;
Desperate – somehow hanging on.
18th.  Screaming for a drag;
Why the Hell do people nag?
Stuff the goddam resolution!
Here’s the sensible solution:
Can’t fight on two different fronts –
Keep off booze; light fag at once!
19th:  coughing fit to bust;
Tongue like leather; dry as dust.
22nd:  Still on edge.
(God help those who sign the pledge!)
Seek relief from this Perdition:
Try this crazy competition…

Should I win with all this toil
Don’t bother with the Umbrian oil:
Lubricate some lout in Dagenham –
Be a sport – send me a magnum!


Photo Finish -
from Lonicera's archive

Odds and ends

Around my home
Seen from back garden (picture by Shane)

Banjo:  You can leave my tea on the table thank you.

Rusty:  Don't distract me, I've got to catch it as it comes out.

Patagonia grassland, east coast

Patagonia:  Sierra Colorada, with a railwayman's home as
built by the British in the early 20th century.

Maldives (Kuramathi)

Maldives (Kuramathi)

Go back to the top:  Click HERE

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Me and Santa

Picture by Gordon Bridger  (double click to enlarge)

This lovely seasonal picture was taken by my uncle, who lives in Guildford.  It was snapped in the High Street during a snowfall recently.

As a little girl I too used to leave biscuits and a glass of sherry for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, and would eye up the fireplace thinking how lucky it was that in Temperley where I lived (Buenos Aires, Argentina) it was too hot in December to think about lighting fires the way they seemed to be depicted in Christmas cards that came from England and North America.  Santa would have definitely got his bottom burnt to a crisp – though I don’t remember wondering how he got his bottom down the chimney in the first place. 

I was however puzzled by the pretty pictures on the cards and why there seemed to be so much cotton wool around... 

Year after year I tried – how I tried! – to stay awake to hear the scrape of his sleigh on the roof and the merry jingle of the bells, to see in the gloom the apple-cheeked old gentleman with silver beard lower the heavy sack off his back with a sigh, then pull things out of it to leave by the tree.  The prospect of it made me feel tense with excitement, but even toothpicks would not have kept my eyes open.  I would wake up the following morning with my sister calling me “Hurry up!  Get up!  He’s been!” chagrined to realise that my eyes had let me down yet again.  I’d look at the empty plate with biscuit crumbs still in it, and sniff the glass that had once held sherry, dismayed that I had been so near and yet so far.

My Italian granny, who lived in town, once took me to see him at Harrods department store in the smartest shopping area of Buenos Aires – I had to wear my best clothes and the little beige coat with dark brown velvet round the collar – but they couldn’t fool me.  For a start this little man clearly had that cotton wool stuff on his head and round his chin, and he spoke SPANISH!  Everyone knew that God, Santa and the Tooth Fairy were English, goodness knows why they had gone to the trouble of creating a massive conspiracy that a child as young as me could see through straight away.  He was a total fake, and I treated him with the disdain he deserved by refusing to accept any presents from him.

In 1962 when I was 8 years old I came home from school one day, very perturbed by something one of my school mates had told me.  Mum was feeding washing into the upright Hoover washing machine – the one whose mangle scared me because I’d watch the sheets disappearing into its maw, emerging the other side creased and barely damp, and imagine it was my arm...and that the water pouring out was my blood...

“Monica says Santa Claus doesn’t exist” I said.  “What does she mean?”

“Oh...” replied my mother carefully, pushing her hair back with a tired hand, “what did she say exactly?”

“She said there’s no such thing as Santa Claus.  And she laughed at me!”

“Well, he does exist in a way – he’s in all of us.  You’ll see when you’re older.”

“In all of us”??  “In a way”??  “No, I want to know if there’s a fat man in a red suit and white beard and his sleigh and his reindeer and his sack of presents and things.”

“Yes of course, he’s there in spirit and...”

“What do you mean his spirit?”   (Brainwave!)  “And anyway he eats the biscuits and drinks the sherry, I’ve seen the crumbs and...”

Mum straightened up and looked at me “No, creech-oh, that’s Daddy.  We put out the presents and he has the biscuits and sherry.  So you see, he’s Santa, isn’t he?”

I stormed off into the back garden and sat on the swing.  I didn’t feel hurt, forlorn, misinformed... I was absolutely furious.  I was in a towering rage.  I remembered the silly little man at Harrods.  They were all in on it.  It was indeed a big conspiracy.

From then on Christmas presents were never quite the same.  In the past I hadn't needed to forgive Santa for not getting it quite right because after all he didn’t really know me.  Now this spoilt child could - and did - convey disapproval merely by sulking if necessary.  Very soon the presents ceased to be surprises because my parents would ask me what I would like, and if they felt the request was reasonable, took me shopping with them to make sure they got the right thing.  The final phase was when they eventually gave me the money to go and buy them myself. 

Many years later in England at a dinner party, the lady of the house informed us that she and her husband had told their children from the very beginning that there were no Santas or tooth fairy; she felt it wasn’t fair to “cheat” children into believing they existed.  I hadn’t thought about it again until this point, and I found myself strongly disagreeing with her.  She had not only robbed her children of the gift of belief in its purest form and thereby the ability to be carried away by their imagination, but had also ensured that they in turn would rob it of all their contemporaries.  I felt fury again, but from the opposite camp.

I never had children myself, and much regret not having been able to pass on my fantasy world to the next generation.  I would not want to live in a world where childish wonder is not encouraged, and childhood beliefs and dreams are frowned upon.  It has been disappointing enough to learn as an adult that Santa Claus was not originally an English tradition, and that the customary genial and colourful view of Santa Claus in a red coat and white beard in fact came from a very old Coca Cola advertisement.

Maybe it’s just a way of wanting to stay within the safe boundaries of a happy childhood.

Uncle Gordon as Santa Claus, my sister Sylvia and her daughter,
my niece Veronica, looking apprehensive because she
was meeting Santa Claus for the first time.
My ex husband standing behind.
Taken in the early 80's.


Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


Photo Finish -
From Lonicera's non-digital archive

More of Valencia and its countryside at Christmas

Go back to the top:  Click HERE


Sunday, 19 December 2010

French Farce at an English Hospital

This happened about a month ago.
The secretary (50’s) and her Admin Manager (40’s) are working peacefully together in their shared office.  The manager has just been explaining to the secretary that she is in some pain with her right ankle, and is not sure why.  The Prof (60's) opens the door and enters, exchanging a couple of pleasantries with the women and handing the secretary a brief but urgent typing job to do, promising to return in 10 minutes’ time to collect it, as he’s due at a meeting shortly.  He disappears back to his office.

A few minutes later there is a knock on the door and a strikingly handsome young man enters the room (20's).  He is an orthopaedic registrar, and he has come to collect the prize money for having won a poster competition at the recent annual scientific meeting organised by the Admin Manager. 

Taking advantage of this heaven-sent opportunity, she asks him for advice on her painful ankle.  He responds most solicitously, kneeling down on the floor and asking her to take her shoe and sock off, the better to examine it.  He concludes that some gentle manipulation might establish one of various alternatives, and asks her to lie down flat so he can get the foot at the correct angle.  As it is a small office, pieces of furniture need to be shifted and chairs cleared out of the way to enable this manoeuvre to take place in (very relative) comfort. 

The small office now rearranged to satisfaction, she lies down, proffering her right ankle, and the registrar goes to work.  The secretary meanwhile, aware that the Prof will return any minute and concerned in case she hasn’t finished the typing, tries to speed up what she’s doing, and inevitably becomes clumsy in her haste, knocking a valuable pen drive onto the floor, which disappears out of sight under her desk. 

Clicking her tongue in annoyance, she bends down to retrieve it, but finds that it is out of reach of both her arm and a probing foot.  Swearing under her breath she stands up, pushes her chair back impatiently and crouches down on the floor, cautiously introducing herself under the dusty desk, bottom protruding inelegantly.

At this point the Prof returns to pick up his typing, glancing first through the small high level window in the door before opening it.  He sees nobody at their desks and opens the door, puzzled.  He is met with the sight of furniture in disarray, the Admin Manager on the floor with one leg up in the air, a young man crouched beside her manipulating her ankle, and beyond, the unedifying sight of the secretary’s posterior with the rest of her under the desk.  The manager is moaning in pain, the secretary is sneezing and swearing obscenities.  He stands there, speechless.

The Prof arrives late for his meeting, apologising as he enters the seminar room, merely saying to his assembled colleagues that it would take too long to explain the reason for his lateness.


Photo Finish -
From Lonicera's non-digital archives

For those who glance at this blog regularly, it will not have escaped their notice that in this section there is a preponderance of images from Spain, and in particular of Valencia and its environs.  My parents retired to Chiva and lived there for many happy years before they died, and I have retained an enormous affection for the area and the kind people who live there.  We usually visited my parents twice a year; in the summer and at Christmas.  These pictures were taken one Christmas as we walked around Valencia in the balmy winter sunshine.

Life-size Nativity scene

Singing Christmas "villancicos" in the Palau de la Música

To go back to the top:  Click HERE


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Trains…projects… anything but weight loss…

Britain has been going through a spell of very freezing weather, with temperatures well below zero centigrade during the day and the customary ensuing chaos with all forms of transport.  Idiots driving at speed over black ice, planes unable to land on icy runways, trains’ mechanisms frozen, mad dogs and Englishmen going climbing in the midday sunny frozen wastes without the right kit – the usual.  We sorely need a few Canadians here to show us what’s what.

However the worst of it is in the north and east of the country, and yours truly is writing to you from the south west.  It’s freezing and foggy, but it hovers either side of zero and there’s no snow, so we snuggle down on the sofa and watch the craziness going on around us on TV.  That is until last Friday – which is why I’m writing this post. 

Apparently rail services between Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington were severely disrupted, with people waiting at stations, eyes straining up to scan the electronic timetables one more time... No, they weren’t breaking out in sympathy with the icy conditions prevailing in the rest of the country.  What caused the delay was one train.... whose horn had stuck in the ‘on’ position. 

It took a long time for flummoxed staff to get advice from their bosses as to What To Do, and the decision in the end, after a long delay, was that it would not be safe to do the 2 hour journey to London with a horn blaring all the way, because trains use their horns to warn other trains of problems, and a horn on constant would have thrown their interpretation of the instruction books into meltdown.  No mention of what 2 hours of a high decibel shriek would do to the commuters, however...

So the service was cancelled eventually, and meanwhile all the other services were stacking up behind, with passengers – as ever – not knowing what on earth was going on.  Presumably the rail company didn’t want the ignominy of having to announce that the horn was stuck and that they couldn’t even blame the weather.

The icy winds are coming from Russia apparently, and the temperatures are set to rise very slightly nearer the end of the week, because.... the wind is changing direction and it will be blowing from Iceland instead.  Well whooppeedoo.


I’m sorry for the radio silence – I’ve had too many other things on the go.  After the second unfill I’m back to eating a little too much and not losing anything; a bit of willpower is required.  My 2-year contract with Taunton hospital ends on 17th December, the second anniversary of my lapbanding, and thereafter it’ll be up to me to visit them when I need to, at £50 a time.  I can see that I’ll put it off and put it off, to save money.  But I really need to keep losing weight, it’s so important to me (despite evidence to the contrary).  My weight chart over on the right is getting too long and straggly – at some point I’m going to summarise it a bit so it doesn’t take up so much space.


My last post was about my uncle, David Bridger, who died during WWII.  I’ve now started typing out his letters, and really look forward to putting the best bits on my blog; he wrote very well and was so interesting.  


I’ve been involved in a lovely project recently – compiling all the poems and doggerel written by my partner John over the years, gathering about 120 photos of him, his friends and family, and putting it all in a coffee-table book by using  This was a birthday surprise, and it was the best ever.  Anyone heard of Blurb?  I think it’s a US company with overseas branches here and there.  You download their software for free, then do the whole thing yourself online.  They give you plenty of advice with FAQs, and plenty of warnings on what to look out for, but it’s basically up to you.  They print exactly what you’ve done, with (I think) virtually no human intervention.  This keeps it relatively cheap, and if you’ve paid attention to detail, the results are fabulous.

The colours for the background weren't as wysiwyg
as I thought though - this was supposed to be dark green
to match his coat...

I paid a bit extra to have gorgeous paper with a satin sheen...

...and purchased 3 copies, which arrived in 4 days.

With hindsight, I should have just ordered one first so that I could see it properly, and spot the typos - as it was a surprise, I couldn't get any help with proof reading, and you know how easy it is to miss your own mistakes...  Alas there were 7 of them, which I later had to correct by typing the word on a sticky label, cutting it out and placing it over the top with tweezers.  I'm hoping to buy a few more copies with the errors properly corrected.

John loved it, though he's also embarrassed that his doggerell is being seen by friends and relations, and insisted that I type out an A4 label to stick inside the cover with a disclaimer that he didn't know what I was up to...  Anyway, I thoroughly recommend it as a milestone gift.


Photo Finish:
from Lonicera's non-digital archive

Valencia region, Spain



Lemon grove near Chiva

Valencia - following the train theme....

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...