May Madness continues… after the excitement of the coronation I realised I did not need to take down my bunting, but just add to it and celebrate Eurovision 2023. Some ribbon from HaberDasherDo and a few safety pins..
...then I discovered Amazon would deliver a flag by 10pm… which turned out to be a bit bigger than I expected.
Teddy has been carrying the Ukrainian flag since Ukraine was invaded last year.
The Eurovision Song Contest was started in 1956 and I doubt those who participated in those early black and white days would recognise the colourful stage productions and strange outfits in the twenty first century. There are many more countries participating now, some newly created borders and a few countries not in Europe… Some countries have always loved it, while in the United Kingdom many of us may have been indifferent or embarrassed by our song entries. Sweden famously produced Abba whose songs have been a background to so many lives and when Ireland hosted the contest in 1994 the interval entertainment of Riverdance took on a life of its own and millions have been thrilled by the many live Riverdance shows.
Last year everything changed when the UK actually had a song people were talking about and seemed to have a chance of getting good scores, Sam Ryder with ‘Space Man’. More importantly Ukraine was was going to enter and despite the awful suffering of their country send a positive message to the world. Their Kalush Orchestra won with ‘Stefania’ and the UK came second. Ukraine should have been the host this year, but sadly that would be impossible so as second place holders the UK was chosen and are jointly hosting with Ukraine in Liverpool.
It is the first time for 25 years we have hosted the contest and for those who have always loved Eurovision and Liverpudlians, there is great excitement … and it’s catching. Whatever you think of the various songs a lot of people are having fun, both locals and Ukrainians in exile here. On the news you can have a break from what is going on in the rest of the world and see happy people gathering in Liverpool. There have been two semi finals and tomorrow is the Big Night...
I am just a chatbox, I am putting you through to a human agent.
I am sorry we are experiencing delays with agent contacting you, we are experiencing a high level of compl… enquiries.
Do I have time to make a cup of tea?
Thankyou for your patience, an agent will be with you as soon as possible, but there may be a long wait.
Does that mean I have time to go to the toilet?
Thankyou for your patience, our customers are very important to us. So our agent can deal quickly with you can you answer sixteen security questions…What is your account number in roman numerals? How much was your last payment in $US?…
We are sorry to know you are experiencing a fault with your services. i see a clear note by our field technician working on site and they have given us a deadline to complete this. We can see there is a fault in the area causing it. As we making some improvements to our network at the moment, so we can make sure we’re giving you the best service possible. This means that you will be experiencing a loss of your Broadband, Voice and TV service(s) in the area for a short time. Everything should be back to normal today on 24th November 2022 09:00 broadband issue will be resolved completely
Today is 17th November…
This will be complete fixed on 24th of November and most of the customers in your area are facing the same issue as our technicians are working on a damaged cable in the area and we aim to get this resolved soon, we would appreciate your patience regarding this
If there is work going on in the area, why don’t you email your customers to tell them?
We’re sorry that you’re still experiencing intermittent problems with your Broadband in the ZX6 7XZ area. I am sorry my colleague must have missed out that. We expect our engineers to have this repaired as soon as possible. The estimated repair time is 24 NOV 2022 09:00 It s not only yours the Entire area is facing the same problem. We are working as hard as we can to fix this, however due to the complexities of the issue it may take for ever…
I’m not having problems with my internet, how do you think I’m talking to you? And I keep telling you the entire area is NOT facing the same problem! Okay, you are probably thinking why does she keep complaining when there are people in the world with far worse problems, after all I could have been flooded out, my house flattened by bombs or swept away in a larva flow, yes I am very lucky to have a roof over my head…
I have also cleared the upstream and downstream channels to make sure you are on the least congested band but we cannot guarantee a stable connection until the outage is fixed. I have also registered you for compensation for loss of services. Your patience ….
I thought it all worked by magic. I hope you know what you are doing…
So you can see the compensation applied on your account once the outage issue is cleared as this is applied by our backend team. I can understand how difficult it is to manage without internet even I have experienced the same from my service provider as well and know how frustrating it is. But I kindly request you to manage using mobile hotspot until then.
But it’s the TV box not my internet…
We take pride to ensure our customer satisfaction unfortunately we have not met your expectations, Upon through review of your conversation we understand that its not what we follow as our values and standards.
I will come back later, I need chocolate.
We are denying to help you, The reason you are facing issues is because of an outage. We are working as hard as we to fix can this, however due to the complexities of the issue its taking us a little longer than normal. Once te outage is completed, service will be resumed and we make sure this is not repeated. Please be rest assured.
Emelda Forsyte had little experience of hospitals until her diagnosis, so she looked upon her first chemotherapy session as an ideal opportunity for research for her next novel. Her diagnosis was treatable and curable, positive and hopeful, but she would give her heroine, Jolie Jansen, a very likely terminal prognosis. It would add a cutting edge to the fifteenth book in the series.
Jolie had not been nervous about her first chemotherapy session until the lady in the reclining chair opposite died.
‘Good morning.’ A nurse’s voice startled her out of the opening chapter forming in her head. What did that nurse say her name was? They all looked the same in their uniforms and masks.
‘Name and date of birth please.’
‘Emelda Forsyte, 5th July 1964.’
Even with a mask on the nurse looked very puzzled.
‘Oh sorry , I must have the wrong patient. I have you down as Jane Brown.’
‘No, I apologise, Emelda Forsyte is my nom de plume.’
The nurse looked even more confused.
‘I’m a writer, you know, my private detective novels, Jolie Janson, third series on ITV Sunday Drama set in the wilds of Bedfordshire.’
The top half of the nurse’s face still looked blank.
‘Ah, I’m not into all that crime stuff… so you are Jane Brown and your date of birth is?’
Emelda looked at the patients in the other three bays to check if they might be listening in, no doubt they were if they had heard there was a famous author on the ward. She removed her mask and mouthed something.
‘Sorry, I didn’t hear.’
‘10th May 1949’ Emelda whispered.
Emelda watched carefully as a needle was inserted into her hand, more than the slight prick she was told to expect, but hey, Jolie would not flinch, that was nothing compared to the injuries she had experienced. At least the blood being drawn out looked a good colour.
‘I suppose even those tiny phials of blood would be enough to clone me’ Emelda joked.
‘Oh no, they just go to the lab for testing, make sure you are well.’
‘Hmm, but if someone stole them from the lab I could be cloned.’
The nurse chose not to hear and slipped away.
In a short while she reappeared with a bag for the drip and another nurse who asked her name and date of birth.
‘I already answered that.’
‘We double check each time, just making sure the right patient is getting the right drug. This has just come up from the pharmacy with your name and details on it.’
‘That is reassuring, but have you ever had a rogue pharmacist, I mean there could be a fatal dose or a deadly poison in that bag.’
The two nurses exchanged glances.
‘Now dear, it’s quite natural to be nervous your first time, but you are in very safe hands, no need to worry.’
‘I am not nervous, just thinking about research for my next novel.’
‘Okay so let’s go through the prescriptions you have to take home. Now these injections must go in the fridge and on Friday the district nurse will start coming round to give you one injection each day.’
‘District nurses, do they still have them, she won’t be in uniform will she?’
‘Could be a he and they will be in uniform and PPE, you will be perfectly safe.’
All Emelda was worried about was the neighbours seeing, district nurses were what old people had visiting them. Hopefully they would have to park round the corner and not draw any attention. Then she had an idea.
‘How would I know they were real, could be an assassin in disguise with a lethal injection, like that chap who pretended to be doing Covid vaccinations.’
‘Just ring your surgery if you have any worries…’
Emelda examined the contents of the paper bag from the pharmacy and withdrew a box of tablets to read the instructions.
‘Read the leaflet inside carefully when you get home, you must take those tablets as instructed.’
‘So what would happen if you made a mistake, or your husband or daughter were in charge and intentionally gave you too many… or perhaps a wife might look at her husband lying in a drunken stupor and stick all those needles in him at once.’
‘Any mistakes and you must ring the hot line straight away or even dial 999. Who is at home with you?’
‘Oh I live alone, ditched Mr. Brown years ago and became Emelda Forsyte.’
‘I am sure you will manage your tablets fine, just remember to lock all your medication out of reach of you have grandchildren visiting.’
‘Noneof those thank God, humans under the age of twelve are to be avoided at all costs.’
Emelda was glad to be up and feeling fine, calling for a taxi and bidding farewell to the nurses who looked relieved to see her leaving.
‘Now take it easy and be prepared for the effects to kick in tomorrow.’
‘Oh I shall be fine, see you all in three weeks’ time.’
Before Emelda arrived back at the main entrance she was surprised to be stopped by a man in a suit who quickly produced a warrant card.
‘Mrs. Jane Brown?’
‘You would probably know me better as Emelda Forsyte, crime writer, is that why you stopped me?’
‘Never heard of her, I am only interested in Jane Brown; security gave us a call, your nurse rang the patient alert hot line about some inappropriate conversations and questions. Can you confirm you have just had a session of chemotherapy?’
‘Yes, it went very well, lovely staff, I don’tunderstand what you are saying.’
‘Hospitals have to be very careful that medication is not taken away to be misused, if we could go somewhere private to have a little discussion?’
‘No, you misunderstand, I was merely doing research, anyway I must go, taxi arriving any minute.’
‘I could invite you to come to the police station to help with our enquiries.’
For a moment Emelda was most offended, more because he had not recognised her as a famous crime writer than that he might think her a criminal. But this could be a research opportunity. Jolie Janson had more than her fair share of run ins with Bedfordshire Police, but Emelda had never actually been inside a police station…
Today Elf is playing jack-in-a-box and has chosen to open the window and let in the snow. Fly away and escape 2020 with his favourite Christmas cartoon. Many of you will know this song well. The film became a Christmas tradition.
“Walking in the Air” was written by Howard Blake for the 1982 animated film of Raymond Briggs’ 1978 children’s book The Snowman; the fleeting adventures of a young boy and a snowman who has come to life. In the second part of the story, the boy and the snowman fly to the North Pole. “Walking in the Air” is the theme for the journey. This is the original recording of the song with Peter Auty, a choirboy from St. Paul’s Cathedral. His name was omitted from the original credits. He is now a fiftyish operatic tenor.
I never get invited to be in documentaries. I was watching a documentary about a well known artist the other night, admiring her garden as she wandered down the path to her interesting studio. Then into the studio saunters a young man and on the screen appear the wordsFred Bloggs ( not his real name, which I forget ) friend and writer. I have no idea what he has written, perhaps I should have heard of him and read all his work. But it doesn’t matter, he enjoys a certain kudos just by being a friend of a famous ( and infamous ) artist. Did he just turn up or did the producers plan his role and coach his lines to the artist ‘Have you got time for a cup of coffee?’ Luckily she had and they chat about her work, not his writing.
How do you get to appear in someone else’s documentary? It helps to actually have a friend who is a famous artist, or any friends at all. I do have some artistic friends, but nobody has made a documentary about them.
It also works the other way round. I was watching a documentary about a writer last night and lo and behold, we pan to a studio and there is someone else whose name I forget; the screen says Joe Smith, friend and artist. A great asset for the film makers because they can film him painting a portrait of his famous friend. Now I just need to find an artist who paints portraits and wait for someone to make a documentary about me.
If you enjoy visiting galleries, why not visit my Covid safe gallery.
I keep listening out for the doorbell, I keep looking out of the window, but the street is empty. The postman, greengrocer, Amazon delivery and Co Op groceries have all been, but They never come. Another day when a long pole, with a microphone on one end and a television interviewer at the other end, has not appeared at my front door.
How do they choose all these citizens who keep showing up on the news and breakfast television? I am not talking about science experts, political commentators, journalists and doctors, but ordinary people who sit in their living rooms unashamed of their ghastly wallpaper and awful fashion sense. Out of millions and millions of us how do they get chosen to be interviewed for several minutes in a segment that will be repeated endlessly on the main news and on News 24.
If they happen to have recovered from Covid they obviously have a head start over the rest of us, but it’s not just people pondering on pandemics, I have always been ignored. Every general election, the long years of Brexit, no one knocks on my door or stops me while I’m out shopping for my opinion. Though I would flee in the opposite direction if I did see cameras; too windswept, wrong clothes for television…
But if a reporter did call on me at home they might not get away; all those years of stored up opinions.
‘Yes we need more lockdown not less, gatherings of more than two people forbidden, identity cards, everyone to stay inside their own postcodes, disposable BBQs should be banned, litter bugs should be tasered on the spot, private motor vehicles confiscated, air travel banned… it was so nice during the first few weeks of lockdown…. Perhaps you and the cameraman would like to buy one of my books, I just happen to have a box full… or buy all my books…
Maybe a little bribery would secure their release…
Everyone is filmed at home now so if you haven’t had the chance to appear on television you can always pretend. Facetime with your boring family could become one of Alan Bennet’s brilliant Talking Heads – which are perfect for isolated actors and have just been remade.
Or dust off your bookshelves and pontificate late at night on tomorrow’s newspaper headlines.
In the kitchen you can have your own masterchef celebrity banquet bake off.
‘What are you making?’
‘Bangers and Mash, it could all go horribly wrong… I’m just going to test the potatoes, okay, this is the moment when it could really go wrong, I could end up with third degree burns, I need to strain the potatoes now… make sure the camera lens doesn’t steam up… yes the sausages all free range, they were running around in a Hampshire field yesterday… oh oh is that the smoke alarm, I forgot to check the sausages…
Perhaps it would be better to stay in the garden. Gardening programmes are so popular now for peaceful healthy escapism and you can even send in videos of yourself and your delightful children giving a guided tour of your fantastic / unusual / beautiful / bountiful garden. Gardener’s World receives thousands of them, so you might not get chosen unless you have turned your bathroom into a tropical paradise, installed a waterfall in your living room, or turned a six foot sunless concrete square by your back door into the Garden of Eden.
Perhaps it’s best if I don’t film my garden; putting carefully cropped selected flowers on Instagram is my limit. Though if the people with poles do turn up tomorrow I could give them my views on new major projects injecting money into the economy; have all the motorways turned into cycle routes and gardens…
Have you ever invited television cameras into your home?
Whether you are stuck in your twenty bedroom mansion with many acres of private grounds or alone in a tiny flat, there are some advantages to being in the majority of the population not allowed to go out. Remember that feeling when your mother believed it when you said you felt ill and you didn’t have to go to school? Recreate that inner freedom of spirit for yourself every morning.
You don’t have to decide what to wear each day, even if you are still in your dressing gown when you put the bins out no one will be around to see you. If you are a schoolchild you are taking part in the biggest social experiment ever; if your exasperated parents call you a rat they just mean it affectionately, you are a laboratory rat. Perhaps the experiment will prove that actually nobody needs to go to school. If you had no friends at school you are a winner, nobody has any friends at school now.
Parents, if you are one of those families that appeared in that documentary, Twenty Two Children and Another on the Way, you are laughing, now is your time, with a ready made school and team sports. As you could never afford to go out anyway with all those children, life goes on much the same.
Adults, you don’t have to go to work, or if you have to work from home you can do it in your pyjamas. You don’t have to go out, you don’t have to go to that boring party, your in-laws’ wedding, that tedious conference, parents’ evening, to the cinema to see that ghastly film your partner wanted to see and you don’t have to go to the dentist.
You can watch television all day long, especially twenty four hour corona coverage.
Tired of decision making? Remember waking up to sunny Saturdays and discussing how to make the most of a nice weekend? We must go somewhere, but where, a favourite place or somewhere new? A local walk or major expedition? Take a picnic or eat out? Shall we call Barbara and John and see if they want to meet up?
Ironically you will get to know your neighbours better, even if you do have to yell from your balcony, over the fence or across the road. They are home all the time and the ones that tried to avoid you are pitifully grateful when you wave to them. Your dog is happy, very happy, never lonely and five walks a day with each member of the family going on their allotted outing.
If you are an introvert this is your time. No one is going to tell you that getting out more would be good for you.
You will have plenty of time to catch up with all those ( my ) books you wanted to read.
What advantages have you found in your confinement to home?
First there was slow food, then there was slow television, the antidote to 24 hour news, sport and noisy, violent dramas. With slow TV you can spend two hours drifting down a canal or take a real time steam train journey.
At this time of year in the northern hemisphere you may be settling down on winter evenings to watch your favourite dramas and probably your favourite crime dramas. January 2020 saw the start of new series of two popular and enduring detectives.
As Vera drove her Land Rover through the wilds of Northumberland a thought occurred. What if she just kept driving and didn’t bother to arrive at the police station, didn’t get any urgent calls on her mobile about a murder? Two hours of lowering Northumberland skies and rugged green landscape, advertisements providing the only drama. How relaxing.
Vera Stanhope is the creation of a crime writer I enjoy, Anne Cleaves and is played by one of our national treasures, Brenda Blethyn. Antidote to glamorous cops, a middle aged woman in sensible, scruffy clothes and the muddy Land Rover. Some of her team have changed but she’s still going strong in this tenth series.
A complete contrast is Granchester, set in a delightful village near Cambridge in the nineteen fifties. The stories were originally written by James Runcie, son of a former Archbishop of Canterbury. His crime solving vicar Sidney Chambers has been replaced by an impossibly handsome young vicar who rides a motorbike and fortunately also has a talent for talking to people ( getting confessions out of them ) and solving crimes, helped by the police inspector Geordie Keating. Life in the lovely village is slow, but a surprising number of murders occur. Life in the village would be pleasantly slower if there were no murders or crime of any sort and the police inspector became a lay reader and helped the vicar with his church services instead.
Slow Crime, No Crime could be applied to dramas set in any part of the world. There is always ‘the drive’ – through Scandinavian snow or the red dust of The Kimberleys at the top of Western Australia. Frantic chase scenes in cities could easily be slowed to a halt with road works or green protestors.
But how soon before the novelty wore off for viewers? The truth is, most of us don’t want people being killed just for our Sunday evening entertainment. We want to see scenery and in winter we like to watch anything filmed in summer, but we also want to peep into other people’s lives. The advantage of murders is that they give the perfect excuse for screen writers, the police and us to dissect every detail of the life of the victim and the lives of every person known to the victim.
Autumn Compost Watch – Sponsored by Greensleaves Garden centres and introduced by Tim Timber
Last week we set up our new compost corner and disguised the cameras from wily worms and agitated ants. Now it’s time for our first look at the insect hotel constructed from broken branches and twisted twigs and even more exciting, we lift the lid on the compost bin, replete with vegetable peelings, weeds, autumn leaves, egg shells, egg cartons and toilet roll tubes.
At Twig Savoy let’s start at the ground floor and watch the workers; the ants are already making themselves at home and who is this? The heavy rainfall of last week has made this corner a dark and damp haven for local frogs. Let’s talk to our clever compost connoisseur Connor. What are we expecting to see when we lift the round green plastic lid off the de-luxe Greensleaves compost bin?
Well Tim, I must stress that we did not put a single creature here ourselves and we have not lifted the lid even for a peek.
Oh this is fantastic, wriggling red worms, hundreds of them, clinging inside the lid, annoyed at being disturbed.
Yes Tim, while we’re tucked up in our centrally heated homes this winter these worms will be chomping their way through the deliciously slimy mass to make compost for our spring bedding. I estimate there are more worms here than people in this town.
Thanks Connor and viewers, don’t forget to join us next week when we’ll be talking about sweeping up autumn leaves and if you can’t wait till then, listen to our series of podcasts on slugs.
Local man speaking in the tongue of his forefathers: it’s that time of year again, my annual trip out of town to see the land of my ancestors, earn a bit extra, but mainly have a laugh.
Interpreter: We have lived in this land for many generations, since time began, my grandfather was the village elder.
Local man: Who’s this idiot with the microphone?
Interpreter: We welcome you back to our village, now we have the well you built last year our women do not have to walk miles to collect water.
Local man: Thank goodness I don’t live in this godforsaken village, if only they had a decent pub instead of that hole in the ground which dried up two months ago.
Interpreter: I had fourteen children, only three live, if we could build a clinic other wives would not die in childbirth like mine.
Local man: These ridiculous clothes are so uncomfortable, the villagers will be glad to get back into their denims. Wonder what the missus is doing, how come she always gets out of this, probably having her nails done.
Interpreter: It is too far for the children to walk to school.
Local man: The village children have all got the day off school, hoping to get some freebies if they smile for the cameramen.
Interpreter: We send greetings to our dear friends in Great Britain.
Local man: Must remember to Skype my cousin in Slough, remind him to watch Celebrity Pose Day, see what he thinks of my performance, wonder how much I’ll ‘raise’ this year?
Interpreter: Many blessings on your families for your help.