Category Archives: Garden

Possible Career Change

What could I do?

I have been considering a career change.
I have thought about:
1. being an actress. I believe that my forte would be in the adverts you see on afternoon television and so I have been practising getting up out of my armchair and walking across the room with a fixed smile on my face to show how pleased I am with my levitating armchair; however, I worry that the mechanism might go wrong and I would be flung across the room, so I have also been practising my mournful face for those adverts for specialist lawyers – injuries4u, I think, which always sounds vaguely threatening, as if they are going to send ‘the boys’ round to make sure you DO have an injury which will necessitate you employing them.
2. advising on horticulture and conservation. My garden is a haven for wildlife and would shelter anything from a baby elephant downwards. I like to think that I am helping to save bees and butterflies at this time of year, because they love dandelions for their early spring nectar after a long winter. The long grass is also an excellent place for Molly, my lucky black cat, to hone her hunting skills. So far she has caught three dead leaves, a broken peg and several particularly savage pieces of very long grass. She’s coming on a treat.


3. becoming a film critic. I’m sure you’ll have read some of my film reviews in earlier posts – incisive, apt, truthful, all designed to help you decide whether or not you want to see a film. However, I have decided against this job after listening to the BFG (Bazza the Friendly Geordie, mentioned in a previous post) when we had been to see a particularly unpleasant – but fascinating, nevertheless – French film called ‘Elle’. (We needed a reviving bottle of wine after that one, I can tell you!) I couldn’t better this review: ‘The violence was very violent.’ It says it all.
calculator4. becoming a professional fraudster, even though I’m not from Nigeria. This results from a successful impersonation of DOT (Dai of Turkey) when his bank called about some possible fraudulent activity on his debit card. The call was an automated one and required a return call to an anonymous automaton who simply asked me to press certain buttons in answer to a range of questions. After acquiring the necessary details from DOT, I was able to satisfy the automaton that I was my brother and that the transactions were genuine. I now have all the details I need for further activity on DOT’s debit card…
5. becoming a wine critic. This came under consideration for all of a Nano-second, for how could I criticise something so close to my heart… unless it has a two-word name, such as Blossom Leaves or Turning Hill, and is from California (these wines do not exist, to the best of my knowledge, although there may be wines with similar names, but I don’t want to get hit with a libel charge and have to employ some dodgy television lawyers).
6. being employed to shut people up. There is almost nothing more guaranteed to engage someone else’s interest than to sit reading a book in a pub, as I found out earlier (and on many previous occasions). The conversation will go something like this:
Bloke: Good book?
You: Yes, very good.
B: You like reading, then?
Y (vaguely sarcastically): When I can, yes.
B: Lot of pages.
Avoid the temptation at this point to say that that’s the trouble with books – they have lots of pages.
B: What’s it called?
Y: Dictator.
B: What’s it about?
Y: Cicero, the roman philosopher and orator.
Complete and utter silence…

(I’d just like to say that the book really IS fascinating. It’s by Robert Harris and is well worth reading [as are all his novels] – history made into a good story.)

Enjoy the rest of this sunny weekend before we return to arctic conditions next week.

Animal Crackers

Malcolm

Malcolm

In light of the sad demise of Malcolm-the-strangely-named-cat-from-Australia, I felt that the Lifestyle Support Guru needed to shine a little beacon of light and fluffiness into your lives – that is my reason for existing, of course, so I wish to tell you a story of another cat from faraway places. I make no apologies to the non-cat-lovers among you, since I hope you will find this tale sadly amusing (or amusingly sad) as well.
Strangely enough, this other cat, like Malcolm, was ‘bequeathed’ to me by my youngest sibling, known as TOFU (Trefor OF ‘Ull), when he returned from a lengthy stay in South Africa and brought Tubs, a semi-long-haired ball of black fluff and a loud voice, back with him. I make no comment on the names that TOFU chooses for his cats – I simply put it down to some defect suffered at birth – but it did make for interesting looks at the vet’s when they would call out ‘Tubs?’ and I stood up.

Tubs lived a long and happy life as the only black South African in my neck of the woods in Derby, until he took to his sick bed. Late one Sunday evening it was obvious that he was distressed, so I wrapped him in a blanket and lay next to him downstairs to keep him company until I could get him to the vet the next day (yes, for any non-animal-lovers, the LSG has human feelings too); however, at about 3 am he got worse and he suddenly died. Take it from me that there is very little one can do with a dead cat at 3 o’clock on a Monday morning, so I took myself off to bed and rang TOFU early the next morning to tell him the sad news. TOFU said he would come down from ‘Ull that evening and help me dispose of the body.
The next morning, I had French A Level oral exams to do, so I took myself off to work, finding out later that my A Level students thought my haggard face denoted a sleepless night worrying about the exams rather than a nearly-sleepless night worrying about a dead cat. Luckily, the orals went well (the students got the good grades they deserved) and I girded up my loins to go home after school and face the walk into a house with a dead cat wrapped in a blanket lying in the back room.
TOFU arrived not long afterwards and looked only mildly surprised to find Tubs lying in the back room, merely asking why I hadn’t put him out in the garden rather than leaving him in the house. ‘But it’s been raining,’ I replied with perfect logic, or so it seemed to me. My brains may have been a little addled by now, through tiredness, exams and, probably, a low-ability Year 9 French class.

Anyway, the rain having stopped, TOFU dug a deep hole in the flowerbed into which we put desert-1618926_1280Tubs with all due ceremony. TOFU explained that the hole needed to be deep so that any subsequent owners of the house wouldn’t come across a pile of bones should they decide to replant the flowerbed. I have to say that the plant that marks the spot goes from strength to strength (which is not something you can say about most of the other plants in my garden, although the dandelions seem to do rather well). And then we went off to the pub to drink Tubs’s health.

This morning, I rang TOFU to tell him of Malcolm’s trip to that great scratching post in the sky. I later got a text asking what had been done with his body and I replied that he had been cremated and I assumed that he didn’t want the ashes back in a tasteful little urn to adorn the mantelpiece. ‘Thank goodness,’ came the reply. ‘I’m still traumatised by the memory of burying Tubs and was worried you’d want to do the same for Malcolm.’ And on that note, I shall pour a glass in honour of Malcolm, saying only that I shall miss him following me to the bathroom in the morning or lying across my neck when I’m having my afternoon siesta.
Enjoy using those long claws in Cat Paradise, Malcolm – you’ve earned it!

Good Neighbour Bad Neighbour

Being a Good Neighbour
A very good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru. Tonight I wish to offer some useful advice on how to be a BAD neighbour or a GOOD neighbour. I have recently ‘acquired’ a new neighbour and I have learned rapidly from this experience just exactly what constitutes a BAD neighbour and felt that you may benefit from my advice so that you can be a GOOD neighbour.

Bad neighbour

Bad neighbour

To be a BAD neighbour, you must:
1. be blonde, slim and athletic-looking and wear fitted clothing that shows off your figure to advantage. This will ensure that your GOOD neighbour feels totally inadequate.
2. have cleared your garden of all weeds and long grass, installed a nice wooden garden bench, put up a new clothes line and scrubbed the wall at the bottom of the garden of its coat of peeling paint, all within the space of a few days. Again, this will create great feelings of inadequacy in your GOOD neighbour.
3. have a housewarming party which is not too noisy and finishes at 10.30 pm, so that the GOOD neighbour feels guilty for wondering at what time she will be able to complain to the police.
4. fill your bin (which is about four feet high) to overflowing with black bin liners, then, in one bound, leap athletically and lithely on top of the aforementioned bin liners and jump up and down on them in a graceful manner to make sure they fit in the bin. This should be done when the GOOD neighbour has just returned from a hard morning’s shopping and is loaded down with purchases; by now the GOOD neighbour will be contemplating moving to find a more congenial neighbour.
5. enjoy the early evening warmth by sitting on the garden bench with an attractive man and sip delicately from a bottle of water rather than the glass of wine which the GOOD neighbour is contemplating whilst looking up house prices in a more downmarket area.
To be a GOOD neighbour, you must:

Wild Life Friendly Garden

Wild Life Friendly Garden

1. be overweight, wear loose clothing as a disguise and have greying hair. In this way, you create no feelings of insecurity in any other neighbours.
2. maintain what is known as a ‘wildlife garden’, ensuring that there are plenty of flowering weeds which are, apparently, attractive to bees. Thus, you are helping the environment.
3. have no parties because you do not wish to disturb your neighbours (and it would mean cleaning and tidying up and the cats don’t like parties, anyway).
4. only leap up and down (athletically or otherwise) when you tread on one of the cats or the drawing pin you forgot to pick up several days ago.
5. enjoy the early evening warmth by going out to the pub where, as far as you know, they don’t sell water. Thus, you are helping the local economy.
You will have gathered from this that being a GOOD neighbour is far less tiring and requires much less effort than being a BAD neighbour. In addition, you are saving energy environmentally because less electricity will be used if you are in the pub rather than sitting at home; added to this, you will also have had some physical exercise because you walked to the pub, although probably not quite as much exercise as jumping up and down in a bin, but with a far more enjoyable outcome.
And now let’s finish with a short chorus of: “Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours…”