My salad dressing days

A brief intermission…
August 30, 2006, 6:45 pm
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[As it turns out, it was the briefest of intermissions. Ain’t that always the way? No sooner do you decide to come clean about your nasty bout of blogger’s block than woo! Up pops an idea (or seven) for a new post.]


A Subaltern’s Love Song
August 28, 2006, 10:00 pm
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Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Miss J. Hunter Dunn,
Furnish’d and burnish’d by Aldershot sun,
What strenuous singles we played after tea,
We in the tournament – you against me!

Love-thirty, love-forty, oh! weakness of joy,
The speed of a swallow, the grace of a boy,
With carefullest carelessness, gaily you won,
I am weak from your loveliness, Joan Hunter Dunn.

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
How mad I am, sad I am, glad that you won,
The warm-handled racket is back in its press,
But my shock-headed victor, she loves me no less.

Her father’s euonymus shines as we walk,
And swing past the summer-house, buried in talk,
And cool the verandah that welcomes us in
To the six-o’clock news and a lime-juice and gin.

The scent of the conifers, sound of the bath,
The view from my bedroom of moss-dappled path,
As I struggle with double-end evening tie,
For we dance at the Golf Club, my victor and I.

On the floor of her bedroom lie blazer and shorts,
And the cream-coloured walls are be-trophied with sports,
And westering, questioning settles the sun,
On your low-leaded window, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

The Hillman is waiting, the light’s in the hall,
The pictures of Egypt are bright on the wall,
My sweet, I am standing beside the oak stair
And there on the landing’s the light on your hair.

By roads “not adopted”, by woodlanded ways,
She drove to the club in the late summer haze,
Into nine-o’clock Camberley, heavy with bells
And mushroomy, pine-woody, evergreen smells.

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
I can hear from the car park the dance has begun,
Oh! Surrey twilight! importunate band!
Oh! strongly adorable tennis-girl’s hand!

Around us are Rovers and Austins afar,
Above us the intimate roof of the car,
And here on my right is the girl of my choice,
With the tilt of her nose and the chime of her voice.

And the scent of her wrap, and the words never said,
And the ominous, ominous dancing ahead.
We sat in the car park till twenty to one
And now I’m engaged to Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

John Betjeman

Existentialism for mummies
August 21, 2006, 7:14 am
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I’m hoping this book actually exists.

Because I need advice on how to reply to the recent barrage of questions from TS.

‘Where’s the seaside/waterfall/museum gone?’

‘Um…it’s where it was when we left it five minutes ago…’

‘Where’s my home?’

‘Um, where your heart is…?’

‘If a tree falls down in a forest…’


"You’re not sugar – you’ll not melt!"*
August 20, 2006, 9:01 pm
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We had decided to go to the beach.

It started raining before we had even left home.

We went anyway.

Because we are Scottish.

* Motherhen, circa 1974 – present


Still, wet sand is good for daft beach art

Little chunks of heaven in a 190g tub
August 15, 2006, 6:22 pm
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Available to expat Brits with M&S hankerings here.

August 14, 2006, 12:27 pm
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[In which Motherhen and I fancy ourselves to be a couple of evolutionary biologists.]

Me: You know, it’s weird. The chicklets are strangely drawn to tall men.

Motherhen: As is your Blonde Niece. Funny, isn’t it?

Me: And it’s men with whom they have minimal contact (namely J and M), but as soon as they appear on the scene, they’re all: I want to see J! I want to play with M!

Motherhen: ‘Tis indeed curious…

Me: But, you know what? I have a theory about it. I reckon it’s an evolutionary construct!

Motherhen: Eh?

Me: I think they are drawn to tall men, because back in our hunter gatherer days, tall men were at an advantage because they could see across the savannah and could alert their families to the imminent arrival of a cheetah or wotnot thereby saving them from an untimely death. Yes?

Motherhen: Mmmmm…but then, to be fair, short men could have alerted them to a deadly scorpion, so why aren’t they drawn to short men?

Me: Fair point.


[Youngest sister Suburban Bantam and I discuss our future attendance at a Belle and Sebastian concert.]

Me: I am a total B&S concert virgin – are they one of those bands whose whimsical ballads will inspire the waving of cigarette lighters?

SB: Not quite cigarette lighters…

Me: So will the audience be standing up and bopping around?

SB: Um, no bopping around – maybe some gentle swaying, though.

Me: Oh good. Gentle swaying sounds fun. What should I wear? A cropped cardigan perhaps?

SB: Yes, maybe a cropped cardigan…

**UC squeals in delight**

SB: And maybe a beret…

Me: Oh. I don’t have a beret.

SB: Generally think: second hand and/or the vintage clothes look. Hey! You know what would be sooooo funny? We could all buy some groovy get-up from Oxfam and dress up in that for the night!

Me: Ooh, yes! That would be sooooo funny!

SB: [after a brief pause] Although, given that everyone will look like that, no-one else is going to bat an eyelid or find it vaguely funny.

Me: Oh yeah.

SB: Yeah, so maybe not then.

Me: Yeah.

August 13, 2006, 9:09 pm
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Things I am learning about myself after reading Getting Things Done:

1. I can’t Get Things Done when I’m wearing my nightie. Nightie spells slouching. It has become clear that in order to be professional and efficient, I need to have my bosoms strapped down (and circulation to my midriff reduced) and be wearing socks. My efficiency in all things organisational is doubly enhanced when I am wearing make-up.

2. I had, hitherto, never had cause to use the word ‘credenza’. Nor, I imagine, will I ever have cause to invoke its use again.

3. I am good at “delegating”.

4. I am also quite good at bribery. (I think I may have known this already.)

5. I am worried that I might “have major leaks in my collection process”. This is bad but I am marginally reassured that this is a problem suffered by “most people”. Sort of like incontinence, I s’pose.

6. Self-help books make me giggle (especially when they say things like: “an ideal opportunity to get funky and clean house”).

7. I am easily distracted.

8. Mr Chick is in fact more than capable of summarising the broad gist of last three chapters in four sentences, thereby saving me precious time to Get Things Done.

9. I still harbour an obsessive-compulsive need to ensure that my lists run to ten points.

10. This is probably not something I need to seek therapy for.


(Nice little segue coming up, if I do say so myself…)

And a little self-knowledge would go a long way in the case of the South Edinburgh Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate Gavin Brown:

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Number Five: He can’t count.


[Sorry, couldn’t resist.]