Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A win-win situation?

Remember I was stranded at Bristol Airport when EasyJet pulled the plug on their flights? On account of a poorly-laid runway?

I claimed on the travel insurance for having to get myself to Gatwick in order to fly home.

No way, they said.

I argued the point.

Ah - we'll have your claim re-examined, they said.

Some weeks later, I have a cheque! Didn't I do well? Or did I? They deducted the £50 excess, and awarded me the grand sum of £9.49. See what I mean about win-win? I ask you - who was the bigger winner?!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Okay, now how am I going to explain this to my PhD supervisor? I haven't achieved as much as I intended this week, because I had a viral infection and then - er - this evening I had to turn a hardboiled egg into a Dalek for the P4 egg-decorating competition .........

You think that's verging on the lunatic fringe? Try this, then. Cello-Kid was out playing in the street this weekend, when he met some local kids that he used to know at his first Boys' Brigade company. Apparently they used to call him Kipper. Don't ask me why - I only heard this yesterday.

"You're Kipper, aren't you? Or are you Kipper's big brother?"

Kipper said, yes he actually was the genuine article.

"Yes, you must be Kipper", came the reply. I remember you - you can play piano like f***!!"

"Kipper" - my eldest son, that is - came back indoors to tell me this, and commented, "Well, they should hear me now!" And he's not boasting - his piano playing has improved enormously in the past two years, and his cello playing is better still. But they never heard him play cello!

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Viola-Kid will need a full-sized viola one day, so in my infinite wisdom I decided it was time to visit eBay.

I consulted a vendor. I consulted our teacher. I hung around on tenterhooks to make my bid at the Last Minute, and - shhh! - bid £20 more than our teacher recommended, just to give us a chance of success. I was the highest bidder.

Blow me if someone else didn't beat me in the last four seconds. It obviously wasn't meant to be. And to be truthful, Viola-Kid needs a bigger student-size viola before he needs a full-sized one. Back to the drawing-board, then.

This fantastic cartoon comes from - I loved it so much that I had to quote it, with my grateful thanks to the owner of the website. Hopefully Viola-Kid won't mind a picture of a GIRL viola player ...

We were going to go to Gourock with SuperSpouse this morning. However, things conspired against us.
  1. Everyone was tired after going to a guitar recital last night
  2. We'd lost an hour's sleep because of the change to British Summer Time
  3. I was even more tired because of this blooming sniffly snuffly virus
  4. We couldn't face dragging three little grumps downstairs for an early breakfast, when it wasn't strictly essential.

So, what did we do? SuperSpouse went alone. The rest of us had a lazy breakfast. I had a dust-busting spree with the hand-held vac, and disgusted myself with the amount it collected from various inaccessible corners in our bedroom and on the landing. I also over-fed the washing machine, and actually got it all out on the line when the sun came out this afternoon.

Viola-Kid is now happy because we all went for a KFC meal at lunchtime, to celebrate his recent Distinction in his Grade 2 Viola exam. And Cello-Kid has distinguished himself by baking a cake All By Himself (from a packet-mix) - which went down very well at tea-time.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I'm laden with cold, and just h-o-p-e-d that I'd get home to a bit of loving sympathy from my family last night.

"How are you?" "Come and sit down - you look exhausted." "You poor thing ..."

Piffle! (Or should that have been, Sniffle!)
Some hope! The testosterone was working overtime, and three of the four of them were like bears with sore heads. Not an iota of sympathy - just everyone determined to tell me how awful everyone else was.

And then I opened the bill for my car repair.

Crikey! Nearly double what I'd been quoted, and believe me, I had been quoted a Big Bill. I won't tell you what my car has cost me this month - it probably isn't WORTH the total that I've had to spend. The only thing is - it's less than buying a new car, and this one is paid for. Now I know that I can drive it again, I have to take a deep breath - because it's time to pay its road-tax, too.

And suddenly I feel even more pale and interesting than I had before.

The fourth bear was being equable and nice. That was only temporary! I'd planned to take the boys for hair-cuts today. And there's a rescheduled guitar lesson. Not to mention a guitar concert tonight which is, I can assure you, a treat to savour - the soloist is said to be fantastic.


Gulp. I'd forgotten about that. I'd broken my own Code of Conduct, which is never to promise anything unless you're sure you can see your way to fulfilling it. I checked the web. Found the shop, phoned the number. Nothing. Phoned Directory Enquiries, got another number at a different address. Phoned, twice. Got the fax machine twice.

Finally, success! "Are you holding Yu-gi-oh tournaments on Saturday mornings?"

"Sorry, no. We plan to, but not yet."

Ah well, I tried. Not my fault if they had to move premises and aren't up-to-speed yet.

(Images from, with grateful thanks. They sell pepper spray to protect you from bears. Might even work on the human variety?....)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

To quote the Citroen-Wizard ...

"Woop-di-Doop!" They got the car going. It drove me to church and back without incident today, and I was - believe me - very glad indeed.

It's Mother's Day here in the UK. I got cards and three big bunches of roses, and we went out for lunch at an Indian restaurant in the city. Parking was a bit tricky - the Gordon Street multi-storey car-park was pretty full, and it is ridiculously tight for manoeuvring a big car. I suspect it dates back to the 70's when big cars weren't, on average, quite so big - and no-one had thought of people-movers. However, the meal was very good, so it was worth the effort.

We got back, and I slumbered contentedly under my Nana's crocheted blanket while the others watched TV. Then the phone rang.

Viola-Kid got a Distinction for his Grade 2 viola! What a lovely end to a Mother's Day!

I tried doing a Google image search for a "Junior Viola Player".
Back it came with "Did you mean, Junior Violin Player?"

Now, ain't that typical! No wonder viola players feel misunderstood ...

  • Viola jokes (Warning - there are many priceless jokes here. Allow plenty of time, and if you have a weak bladder - go to the loo first!)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Now, where was I?

Oh yes, I mentioned problems with my car. It went to the garage 11 days ago, and I learned how to bleed the cooling system. This didn't cure it. It went on overheating.
Back it went to the garage, and I hired a Yaris. I had it for a week - and I was scared witless. I'm 48 years old, but I'd never hired a car, and certainly never driven a car with a mere 145 miles on the clock. Yikes!

The hire car went BACK to the hire company yesterday, but then I learned that my own car, far from firing on all cylinders, was languishing at the garage, refusing to start at all. Admittedly, with the cylinder-head having been repaired and the cylinder-head gasket replaced. But a car is just a heap of metal if it won't GO.

I'm waiting. Hopefully, poor old Xantia will be returned to me very soon, and then I can do the supermarket run. It's amazing how much you miss a car when you are without it.

Update on the boys:- Cello Kid won his class in the Glasgow Music Festival. So did Viola Kid, a week later. We're still waiting for Viola Kid's Viola exam results, mind you. And we've entered him for a guitar exam next term.

We entertained last night. I'm proud to announce that my totally vegan meal was very successful. It was a new challenge. We had a great evening, but as soon as the visitors were away and the dishwasher loaded, we slumped in front of the TV and next thing we knew ....


It was after 2 am. Cello-Kid informs us that he came to say goodnight just after 11 pm, saw us asleep and left us there. I told him that another time, he had my permission to wake me up and send ME to bed!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

We shouldn't have had those mini-sausage rolls for supper at midnight on Monday.

I slept badly, and woke on Tuesday morning with indigestion, aching arms (that'll be the repetitive strain/ trapped nerves in my neck, or whatever) - and feeling as though I had a cold coming.

I drove the overheating car to the garage via the Squinty Bridge. The temperature nearly went off the gauge, and I pulled in as soon as I could, intending to stop the car and raise the bonnet. Then it normalised again. Pulled back out into traffic again, and drove round the corner to the garage. It may be the cylinder head gasket needing replacing, but for now I have been shown how to bleed the cooling system, and told to monitor how much extra fluid it needs.

But I'm ahead of myself. Outside the garage (which is in a narrow back court between tenements), a woman made me move my big car round a tight corner between other parked cars because she had to be parked outside the back door of her office premises. (There was nothing wrong with where she'd parked behind me, but it didn't suit her.) My own internal thermostat went up a few degrees during the manoevre. And then, walking back to the main street, another woman rushed past me in her car, right through a puddle, drenching me from the knees down.

Feeling bedraggled and woe-begone, all I wanted at this stage was a coffee. But I didn't think I'd make it back to the office with an extra coffee inside me. I waited until I got there.

Glancing at my calendar, as one does, I noticed the small print again.

"Not your day, Bitch!" My calendar has no respect. As you'll have gathered.

And then I got a headache which lasted until tea-time, notwithstanding the powerful tablets that I keep handy. By this stage I had given up counting - if bad things come in threes, had I reached six or was I heading for a triple whammy?
(Image: (with grateful thanks to polijunk!)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Into tonight’s chaos, came the flurry of packing a bag for Viola Kid. He's going on his residential music course tomorrow morning. It wasn’t supposed to take long. But all those little things add up - “Well, where are your wallet/ spare trainers / slippers / whatever?” Not to mention charging up my old Pseudo-Super mobile phone, which is too old for anyone to want to nick it.

Did I have a spare tube of toothpaste? Got it in one. We’ll all use the only tube of toothpaste tomorrow, send Viola Kid off with it, and I’ll have to buy a replacement in my lunchbreak!

Blissfully alone …?

Meanwhile, Ocarina-Kid is all excited at having ALL the toys and games to himself for three nights, and of course Viola-Kid is beside himself at the thought of going to an outdoor education centre even if it is primarily for a music course.

I never stopped to think that my meal-plans for the rest of the week would be for three people, not four, so I had to revise what we’re having tomorrow. No point in defrosting a solid pack of four pieces of frying steak, if there are just the three of us, so instead I had to make a curry sauce and get chicken pieces out to defrost instead. There’s no rest for the wicked!

Another lovely day?

Not only did I get an hour in the Special Collections doing a little gentle research at the Uni Library to finish off my day - I also got a bargain picture-frame at lunchtime. My German penfriend sent me a lovely big calendar last year, with various cartoons of cats. One month depicted a cat, a lute, a music stand and some music. I loved it so much that I couldn't bear to throw it away, so now - I don't have to! It's hanging on the wall above my desk, and I'm dead chuffed with it.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Remember that on Thursday, the radiologist decided SuperSpouse had a cyst behind his knee, NOT a thrombosis? We were very relieved, I can assure you.

Well, later that night, my car got a thrombosis somewhere between the radiator and the heater matrix, and is now overheating and losing water - I can’t drive it more than 1.5 miles at a time. Useful but not very useful. (I can get to the Subway, or to and from the supermarket. Any further is too risky.) It goes to see the garage man on Tuesday.

Today, Viola Kid took his Grade 2 exam and felt it went quite well. Cello-Kid came first in his cello class at the Glasgow Music Festival. Finally, SuperSpouse and the two older boys went to a school music recital, but I stayed at home with the youngest - it would have been quite a long night for him. He was quite content to draw pictures, then have a leisurely bath before bedtime. (Cue for a song? "Just a bath at twilight, when the lights are low ...")

Friday, March 02, 2007

A lovely, lovely day

I went to a lunchtime concert at work, which was very good and highly entertaining. I went to see my research supervisor halfway through the afternoon, hung around and listened to a lecture, then managed twenty minutes of socialising afterwards before I came home. Oh, I do enjoy the chance to stand and chat with interesting people!

While at the Uni, I bought Ocarina Kid a monkey toy (as promised, some time ago), to reward him for NOT losing any golden time at school. Effort is worth a reward, wouldn't you say?

Shame the rotters at home didn't leave me any bolognaise, but I'm making do with a Bird's Eye chicken pie and trying to feel grateful for small mercies.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Lazurus lives ...

SuperSpouse does not have a thrombosis, but a Baker's cyst behind his knee. He is leaping about like a lamb to celebrate the good news.

No medication, no follow-up ... business (thankfully) as usual. Phew!

I reminded him that no matter how badly our NHS is funded, he was at least in the fortunate position to get prompt medical care from both our doctor and the local hospital. Many countries can't boast that.