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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

My Photo
Location: Bracknell Towers

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Don't look, Ethel!

Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear. Wanting to describe the exact coat colour of a cream curly Selkirk Rex to Melbamae while we were chatting on IM, I visited the Selkirk Rex Cat Club site because I knew there was a very Bertie-esque chap pictured on there. (Of whom more later.)

What did the damned site do? Flashed me a message saying, "more kittens available", that's what. Now, I ask you: is that fair? I mean, shouldn't there be a facility whereby you can block the pages with the pictures of kittens if you know you haven't got the space to take another one? A method which doesn't rely on me exerting sufficient self-discipline to simply Look Away?

Still, at least I can now amuse myself by encouraging you, my faithful readers, to look as well. There are kittens a-plenty already this summer, and in an astonishing variety of coat colours and patterns.

Pam at Curlu and her boys and girls have obviously been particularly busy. Daisy and Mr Darcy have between them produced a litter of six, five of whom are colour-pointed. Harley, who is seal-pointed and has blue eyes (well, for now, at least - he's only little), would be welcome here any time. And check out Rhett and Gemstone's Iggy, who has clearly just been woken up by the nasty camera, and who hasn't had time to run a comb through his fur.

This isn't Harley. It's one of his sisters. Cute or what?

Anyway, kitten-coveting temporarily put on the back burner (where it never stays for very long), back to the Bertie-esque chap who features in the club's gallery of short-haired curly Selkirks. His name is Trueblu Anns Owainglyndwr ("Arthur", to his close acquaintances), and you can read more about him here.

I've seen his photograph dozens of times before but, for some reason, it didn't occur to me until today that Bertie's mum also comes from the Trueblu stable. (Er, or whatever the feline equivalent of "stable" is. "Hearth rug", possibly?)

Without digging Bertie's pedigree out from wherever it's lurking, I can't tell you whether he's a direct descendant of Arthur, but clearly there's some degree of commonality in their blood lines. Which would explain the spooky similarity in appearance. Here's Arthur:

There's a slight difference in the face shape but the coat colour is exactly the same. I know Bertie comes out looking like a bit of a ginger on some of my photographs, but he's not. He's Arthur-coloured. (Not, I hasten to add, that there's anything wrong with being ginger. Just that Bertie isn't.)

Arthur, evidently, was a bit of a star of stage and screen in his youth, and Lisa, from Trueblu, has uploaded some of his magazine appearances onto her website. This really could be Bertie. Here, it's more apparent that the shape of Arthur's face is a little different.

Ok, I realise I'm getting into territory which really isn't remotely interesting to anyone other than myself. So I'll stop now. But, hey! At least I gave you the link to the pictures of kittens!

The Editor

Several hours later...

I have found Bertie's pedigree. In the last place I looked for it, obviously. So that's been fun. And hardly painful at all.

But at least I now know why Bertie and Arthur look so similar. Arthur is Bertie's maternal grandfather. I know!! How exciting is that? I have tried holding Bertie up to the monitor screen and saying, "Look, Bert! That's your grandad! He used to be on the front covers of magazines!", but it doesn't seem to be impressing him very much.

Oh, and this pretty girly is Bertie's great-grandmamma, and Arthur's mum. There's another photo of her here.

I don't understand why I didn't spot that connection earlier, though. I mean, it's not as if I was on the Tramadol when I first got Bertie. It really shouldn't have been beyond the wit of woman to recognise the link. Good job I only wanted him as a pet: I'd clearly be hopeless in the world of breeding or showing!

Lady who?

After a very tiring four days back at work, I was chuffed to little mintballs (er, that'll be a Northern expression, then) to find myself awake at 5.50 this morning. Really. I could hardly contain my joy. Because it's not as though I'm short of sleep, or anything. No. Perish the thought.

Anyhoo, I received an email from a journo back in May on the Hotmail account to which there is a link from this blog. It's not my main email account by any stretch of the imagination, and I don't check it all that often. So, sadly, I didn't read this particular email on the day it was sent. Which is a shame because, in order to include my two penn'orth* in the article she was putting together, the journo would have needed to speak to me that day.

Read it and weep:-

"I am a reporter at the Trumpton Times** newspaper. I am writing a story at the moment about the manorial title "The Lordship of the Manor of Bracknell in Wargrave" as it has recently come under the hammer through X and Y auctioneers. The sale was on Thursday 24 May and because it failed to reach it's (sic) reserve price no-one has bought it. I am trying to do two things at the moment. Firstly I want to contact the current owner of the title to find out why they are selling it etc and secondly I want to speak to people who might be interested in buying it and what their reasons for this would be. I realise it is a long shot but I have been googling the title and it came up with your blog. I would love to talk to you as you obviously have an interest in the title and could maybe shed some light on it or perhaps explain why you like the title and if you would like to own it etc."

The Editor

*Although, in all honesty, I'm not entirely sure that, "Please tell me that this is a joke and that you really do know that Lady Bracknell is a fictional character. Oscar Wilde? Heard of him at all?", would have been printed.

**Not really. I've changed the name of the paper subtly so that you wouldn't be able to identify the journo if you took it into your head to do so.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

Caspar, bless her, has a love/hate relationship with "outdoors". Particularly if she can't get the weather she's ordered.

Reproduced below is one of our standard rainy-day conversations, with Caspar's side of the argument freely translated from the feline:

Caspar: "Oh, great. You're up. (Finally!!) Excellent. I'd like to go out now, please. If it's no trouble."

Me: "Okaaaay. Can I just check? You have realised that it's raining, haven't you?"

"Raining, yes. Check."

"So you're not going to go out for approximately fifteen seconds and then demand to be let back in in a voice resembling the wail of a more than ordinarily distressed banshee, then?"

"Heavens, no. I am hurt that you should even suggest such a thing. I'll have you know I won merit badges for being Hardiest Kitten of the Litter. And that my voice is melodic and sweet at all times."

"I see. So, if I let you out now, you will do whatever it is you've gone out to do, and then sit patiently and quietly on the doormat until I am next near the back door? Like Bertie does?"

"That is correct, yes. (That ridiculous, overgrown kitten will not steal the moral high ground from me)."

"You promise?"


"Well, alright then."

A few seconds later...

"Help! Help! It's RAINING out here! Why wasn't I told? Is this thing on? Hello? Hello?? Can anyone hear me? For God's sake let me in out of this terrible downpour. Whaddaya mean, it's just drizzle? DRIZZLE?? You're not the one whose fur is getting wet! Let me in! LET ME IN, DAMMIT!! Oh, please let me in. Pretty please. I'll be ever so cute. I promise not to leave muddy paw prints on the duvet. This time. Oh, go on. Go on, go on, go on, go on, go on. Feck. Arse. I'm about to complain to the RSPCA. I'll do it. I will. Don't think I won't. Let me in, you b ... oh, there you are. Thank you, I think I will come in, yes. Very kind of you to offer."

(Bertie, meanwhile, is too busy playing with snails to have even noticed that it is raining.)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A funny thing happened to me on the way back from...

... the osteopath.

Which is odd, really. Because funny things are only supposed to happen to you on the way to places, aren't they? Theatres, mainly, I think...

Anyway. Back to the plot.

After four sessions of acupuncture (and the elimination of a lot of mewks), my lower back is a heck of a lot more mobile than it has been for a Very Long Time. Mobile is good, mainly. Mobile does, however, tend to lead to the audible clicking of a variety of newly-released and therefore rather over-excited facet joints. It's always a bit worrying when something goes "clunk" in your lower back, although it isn't always a problem. Some of the time, the joints are clicking back into their proper positions. Other times, however, they are clicking into Tightly Locked Mode.

Having managed to lock something up in my left hip by, oh, I don't know, breathing without due care and attention, or something equally rash, I brought my scheduled visit to the osteopath forward so that he could manually release what I had inadvertently trapped.

(He was, I should say at this point, very impressed by what Dr Liu has accomplished so far. Also, it was great fun to be able to mutter darkly through gritted teeth, "Acupuncture doesn't hurt like this", when he was digging his thumbs into my erstwhile-frozen-and-never-entirely-thawed left shoulder. Tee hee.)

By the time I'd had osteopathic manipulation on top of the acupuncture, I felt as though I was wearing seven league boots. I nearly cried with happiness. (Except my mother had come to meet me, so I didn't. Dignity in all things, and all that.) Various startled friends were the bemused recipients of a garbled text message about my new-found ability to take Giant Steps. (Oh, and can anyone remember which playground game that comes from? It's been bugging me since Friday. Thanks.)

Striding about like a woman possessed of a very long stride when I got back to town, I proceeded to weigh myself down with a variety of shopping bags. I was just trying to decide whether the combined weight of said bags was really too heavy to cart home from the bus stop when the heavens opened and I decided to go for the taxi option. (I have no great objection to getting wet, but that amount of rain makes pavements slippery and treacherous. I may be able to take giant steps, but that doesn't mean I'm remotely sure-footed.)

So, it's all going well. I've got a chatty driver who knows where we're going; I'm out of the rain; and the world generally seems like a fairly cheery place all round.

"Is it this next turning?", he asks.

"Yes. Sorry. I'd drifted off there for a moment."

"Drifted off, eh? Well, you'd be no good for me in bed, you wouldn't. Drifting off that quickly. You'd be snoring your head off before I'd even started."

"A ha ha ha, er, yes..."

We pull up to Bracknell Towers. Bless him, he grabs the Sainsbury's carrier bags out of the back and carries them up the garden path.

"Done a bit of grocery-shopping, have we? Pity you didn't buy any chocolate spread. Then you could have licked it off my naked body."

"A ha ha ha, er, thanks. Bye."

He was joking. I am 99.99% sure he was joking.

But. I get black cabs a lot when my capacity for walking any further has suddenly deserted me, and the drivers don't usually make faintly indecent suggestions involving foodstuffs to me.

Ok, so, on reflection, it was probably just coincidence that I happened to get this chap when my mobility was less impaired than usual. Which is a shame, really. Because I was hoping to be able to use what happened as evidence towards some sort of thesis in which I could have charted the correlation between degrees of crippiness and levels of flirting experienced. Still, the concept amused me briefly....

The Editor

PS I've already mentioned that I'm going back to work on Tuesday. As you can see from the latest button to have been added to the sidebar, I'm also guest blogging on Ouch for a few weeks from tomorrow. (As are a few other bloggers whose names you will immediately recognise.) That, combined with the imminent return of a very muddy Pop from the trenches at Glastonbury, will reduce my available energy-levels significantly. So there will more than likely be a significant - albeit temporary - drop in the frequency of posts to this blog in the immediate future. Just so's you know.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Lady Bracknell vs The Editor

I don't particularly want to shatter anyone's illusions, but most readers will have realised that Lady Bracknell and the Editor are both written by me. (I know: shocking, isn't it? Father Christmas is real, though. Definitely. Without a doubt.)

A lot of what I do in The Day Job involves re-writing existing documents in simple language which will make sense to members of the public with a reading age of 11. I understand why it's considered necessary to do this (in a business environment, at least), and I flatter myself I'm really rather good at it.

But I love language. I like it as complex as possible. Every fibre of my being rejects the concept of Plain English. I had a classical education. I can parse. I can follow the syntax of a well-written sentence regardless of its length. I derive real joy from reading the work of people who have a good command of the written word.

So Lady Bracknell is my escape from work constraints. This is my blog, and I can write it in whatever style I want. There is no obligation on me to make it accessible for the hard of understanding. Writing as Lady Bracknell amuses me. It also allows me to write lengthy paragraphs about Cough All. Which, when your life is as uneventful as mine, comes in rather handy if you want to retain any readers.

I haven't, however, been able to think in Lady Bracknell's voice since the Tramadol brain fog set in. I simply haven't had the mental agility to compose those long sentences. So I sent her away for a while, and wrote as myself.

She's about ready to make a come-back now, though. I can feel her hovering in the back of my mind. She's appalled at the mess I've made of "her" blog, and she wants to take back the reins.

But I read through a few months' posts last night, and I was surprised to find that, on the whole, I prefer "The Editor's" work. I had thought it was a very poor substitute for Lady Bracknell's outpourings, but now I'm not so sure. I think LB may have reached the end of her useful life. It's possible that I've stretched the joke that little bit too far, and that it's now near breaking point.

However, I can't look at my own work objectively. And, given that I'm writing for an audience, that audience's opinion matters to me. I want to entertain my readers, not bore them unconscious.

So. You get to decide. There's one vote per person, and the poll is open until a week tomorrow. There are three choices. You can have Lady Bracknell back (although that will always be interspersed with a tiny bit of Editor, because some things just don't work in Lady Bracknell's voice); you can have no Lady Bracknell at all; or you can vote for a combination of the two.

I'll leave it in your capable hands...

PollPub.com VoteThe Aristocrat or The Editor?
Bring back Lady Bracknell: she is MUCH better than that boring Editor.
Editor all the way for me: I can actually understand what she writes.
Why have only one when you can have both?

View Results

Poll powered by PollPub.com Free Polls

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Don't give up, 'cos you have friends

Well, it's been a long time coming, but it looks as though I'll be going back to work next Tuesday. All things being equal. Barring unforeseen complications. Ect, ect. (Am I actually well enough to go back? How long is a piece of string? We shall see...)

The last few months have been grim. So very grim, in fact, that I have broken my self-imposed Rule Of Blog several times and actually written about my health. Or, more specifically, the lack of it. I did my best to inject at least some humour into what I wrote, but I think I might be well-advised not to look back through those entries and check. You know, just in case I didn't succeed. I am well aware that other people's health problems are Beyond Tedious, and I will make every effort to desist in future from a repetition.

(In my partial defence, I was rather stuck between a rock and a hard place. I'm aware that various people Keep An Eye on me by checking the blog. As long as I'm still blogging - albeit in a rather fragile manner - they feel that there isn't an overwhelming need for them to hurtle towards Liverpool, ring my front door bell and yell, "Are you sure you're alright?" up the echoing stairwell. And, with such severely limited energy, it was a lot easier to kill several birds with one stone* by blogging than to compose individual emails to everyone who would otherwise have fretted dreadfully if they hadn't heard from me.)

I have, and not for the first time, been the fortunate and grateful recipient of very significant levels of support from my friends throughout this rather lengthy departure from my normally robust (yeah, right!) health. Which is why I am going to indulge myself with a Gwyneth Paltrow moment. Should the mere thought of soppy ickiness turn your stomach, feel entirely free to click away from this blog hurriedly now and go into hiding until such time as the dust has settled, and you feel confident that normal levels of snarkiness will have resumed.

Cue the unobtrusive but subtly mood-setting music....

Before singling out any individuals for thanks, I want to reiterate that I simply haven't always been well enough to reply to emails. That doesn't mean I didn't appreciate receiving them, though. I did. Very much. And I'm very sorry if anyone felt snubbed or forgotten. (Unless their name happened to be Amazon. Or Figleaves. In which case they probably weren't really expecting a reply, in any case.)

I'd also like to offer a general thanks to everyone who's commented on the blog over the last few months: particularly for joining in with the parlous** games I was running when I was much too ill to come up with anything more original.

The following blog-related people, though, are about to be publicly embarrassed by being thanked individually. At which point they may well stop being my friend for a little while. But I don't mind that. My support network is absolutely vital to me, and this is the best method I can come up with of providing well-deserved recognition for its members. I am indeed fortunate in my friends.

My mate Marmite for the texts and the emails.

The Mighty Mr C for his support and outrage.

Boogaloo Dude for, amongst many other things, the chauffeuring.

Chris S, my other chauffeur, for always knowing the right thing to say.

The Goldfish, who is wise way beyond her years, for understanding.

Pete for the pictures and, well, just for being Pete, really :-)

An Unreliable Witness for being reliably snarky.

Aunty Jan for the phone calls.

Algernon for many things, but particularly for the tulips.

Puss Puss, whose unexpected (and very enjoyable) visit made me realise that I was by no means fit enough to return to work at that point.

Melbamae for digging me out of various deep holes I had dug for myself.

The never-less-than-delightful Becca for needing me to be ok.

Kate for generously and patiently being at the receiving end of my feeble attempts to check whether the brain fog had receded sufficiently for me to concentrate for the length of a working day.

To all of the above, I owe a debt of gratitude.

But there's someone missing.

Pop has phoned me several times a day, every day, since before all this began. He has phoned me from home; he has phoned me from the car; he has phoned me from next to a water-feature; and he has phoned me from a tent. He has put up with more whining, more self-pity and more tears than anyone should be expected to tolerate. He has tormented*** me; nagged me; amused me; counselled me; and cajoled me. He has made me laugh until my stomach hurt and he has held my hand when I was too sad for laughing to help. He has been a light in the darkest places when all other lights had gone out. Above all, he has simply been there for me. So it is for Pop that I reserve the deepest gratitude of all.

Now, clearly, I am going to look at this blog entry again tomorrow and realise to my horror that I have missed someone really important off the list!! So please don't throw things at me if you've been omitted. I'll put it right the moment I realise. It's my age, you know. That and the Tramadol.

The Editor

*A figure of speech. I have nothing against birds - with the possible exception of noisy magpies - but I don't count any of the birds I have encountered as personal friends. Neither do I wish to kill any of my friends. Were I, however, to adopt violent impulses towards any of them for any reason, stoning would not be my Murder Method Of Choice. I am, after all, a girl. Which means that I can't throw straight. I am also an ouchy crip, which means I can't bend down to pick the necessary stones up. So stoning's out. I'd tell you what's in, but that might give certain people too much of a head start...

** There are some typos which it would be a crime to correct.

*** Think I'm kidding? Think Pop's too nice to torment me? Since the warm water regime began, he has been researching those nasty, resin indoor water-features. He plans to buy about a dozen; adapt them so that they can be activated from his mobile phone; and sneak into my flat and hide them behind pieces of furniture.

Reverting to childhood

Having had a quite exceptionally horrible day yesterday - and not being possessed of that state of physical fitness which might otherwise permit me to stomp about and work the stress off by means of an energetic game of 'pin the tail on the donkey', or whatever it is fit people do to maintain that physical peak which they have so relatively effortlessly achieved - I turned for solace instead to Things Which Made Me Happy When I Was A Child.

Moomin Valley. That made me happy. Moomin Valley and all its denizens. Except possibly the Hemulen. I thought he was a bit wet. And the Groke. Who was rather scary. But I loved Snufkin. Seriously. I had a huge crush on him at the age of about eight. I think it was his self-sufficiency and independence which appealed to me: the fact that he could just get up and leave, carrying everything he needed on his back. And he smoked a pipe: this seemed to me, at the time, to be very daring and grown up in one so young.

(If you have absolutely no idea at all what I'm talking about, try Wikipedia.)

So, anyway. For Moomin lovers everywhere, I have tracked down the must-have accessory.

Hattifattener key ring mascots: how cool is that? But it gets better:
"When you touch this NyoroNyoro*. You might be having electronic shock. Once you touch this NyoroNyoro, you can not live without it which must be your special."

So, just like the real** hattifatteners, these little guys can sometimes make you tingle a bit.

Ok. I'm a grown up. I do realise that these are possibly the most pointless thing in the world. But aren't they fab?

Available from the endlessly-entertaining Strapya.com. I urge you to sign up for their newsletter emails. Partly because you will be astonished at the variety of items which young Japanese people hang from the antennae of their mobile phones, and partly because of the idiosyncratic approach to the English language which pervades the whole Strapya retail experience. As may have already been apparent to you from the description I've quoted above.

They do ship to the UK, by the way. I've ordered from them in the past with no problems at all.

The Editor

*NyoroNyoro is, apparently, Japanese for Hattifattener. Wikipedia told me. So it must be true.

** Er, by "real", I mean "fictional". Obviously. Just in case you were concerned.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

But is it Art?

I know I've said this more than once before, and I suspect it embarrasses him dreadfully every time I do, but I am really in awe of Pete's skill with graphics.

I absolutely hate looking at photographs of myself, but I've got to admit that I'd be a lot happier to do so if I actually looked like the mystery woman on the left.

My Great White Hope now is that Pete has the technology to de-uglify my real face to the same extent that he's managed with a photograph of it. (Such a skill would no doubt make him very rich very quickly, so I'm bagsying my session early before he's swamped with applicants.)

This photograph may possibly be appearing elsewhere on the interwebnet in the not-too-distant future. My lips are currently (if only metaphorically) sealed. I shall, of course, be blabbing the moment I'm permitted by the Powers That Be to do so. Watch this space...

The Editor

Friday, June 15, 2007

One of life's eternal mysteries

I set off in the pouring rain this morning to have some blood drawn for tests. (Standard quarterly diabetes ones: I'm not coming down with something new and exciting. At least, not that I'm aware of. And, in any case, surely it's somebody else's turn to be ill?)

Anyway, there's a little clinic for this precise purpose off Smithdown Rd. It's one of the few remaining outposts of what my father assures me used to be the local Workhouse. But which is now a huge Asda instead. (There's probably an amusing satirical parallel just begging to be drawn there, but I've been up since 5.30, and I'm beginning to flag.)

Veins are professionally opened between 8.30 and 12.30 in the morning. It's best to get there as early as possible because it gets very busy later on. Not only does it get so busy that there isn't always anywhere left to sit down, but the seating is of the plastic-bucket-attached-to-long-metal-rod-screwed-into-the-floor variety. At best, uncomfortable. At worst, something akin to sitting in a dodgem car being driven with more enthusiasm than skill by an eight year old on a tartrazine high. Why must people wriggle? (I exempt CPers from this criticism, obviously.)

So. I arrived. I took my numbered ticket from the machine. (It's like the machine at the deli counter in Sainsbury's. Except for the fact that you don't come out of the experience with a punnet of olives. Which is a shame.)

I did the ouchy crip's quick survey of available seats. (If you are an ouchy crip too, you undoubtedly do this yourself every time you get on a bus or train, or go into a pub or restaurant. So you will know what I'm talking about.) The quick survey is intended to identify the seat which will be the least problematic of all available seats.

If I were Arnold Shwarzenegger in Terminator, and finding a seat was a nail-biting part of the plot of the movie in which I was starring, there would probably be a clever special effect to represent the ouchy crip's survey. Data would scroll past my inner eye. My microprocessor would correlate information about lumbar support; proximity to toilets; wriggle-potential of those in nearing seats; and decibel level of any small children who might have been brought along for the ride. The Best Of All Possible Seats would flash up on my view screen, and I would proceed towards it in a somewhat threatening manner.

But I don't have a microprocessor. Or a view screen with pulsating green lights. Just a rather furtive expression on my face while I scan my surroundings. I sit down on a short bank of "chairs", one seat away from a middle-aged chap who doesn't look as though he's likely to move about very much. (He is later replaced by a bouncer extraordinaire, but that's beside the point.)

Coincidentally, the seat I have chosen enjoys a partial view into the blood-letting room. So I am treated to the sight of people frantically removing several layers of clothing so that their inner elbows can be pierced with a needle.

Is it just me, or is this really not rocket science? Your doctor has sent you to have blood tests. Even if you have never had blood tests done before, wouldn't you stop and think about where the blood might be taken from? I mean, surely no-one assumes it will be taken from the tip of a finger. Or the end of their nose. Are people such exhibitionists that they want to have to strip down to their bra/vest in front of complete strangers? Wouldn't it cross your mind to wear something loose which could be pushed up/rolled back as necessary? Apparently not. My practice nurse has had me in fits of laughter in the past when she has regaled me with anecdotes of tightly-swaddled patients.

All of which has started me wondering: what would be the worst possible combination of garments to wear when going for blood tests?

Excluding something as ridiculous as a full set of armour, my best shot to date is a high-necked blouse with leg of mutton sleeves, worn under a pinafore dress which does up at the back. I am, of course, open to better suggestions...

The Editor

PS This is what you see over the wall on your right as you're walking down to the clinic.

As far as I know, the two things are completely unconnected.

(Actually, for years now I've been intending to have a good wander round that cemetery one day when I'm feeling fit. I'm sure it would be fascinating.)

A hazardous activity

Yesterday evening, in a saintly and environmentally-conscious sort of way, and to pass the time usefully while my pasta was simmering (mmm, pasta...), I decided to break down a couple of boxes which had held pouches of cat food.

Unimpressed at being treated in this cavalier fashion, one of the boxes attacked me with its pointiest (er, that may not be a proper word) corner. It took a gouge out of my finger: one of those ones which produces a neat little roll of displaced skin which you then have to pull off and discard. "Ow, flip!", I may have said, in my characteristically restrained and profanity-avoiding way. "That smarts a bit."

Anyway, I got on with making my dinner*. I was brave. And quite possibly inspirational. I even managed to forget about my Hideous Injury. Until 5.30 this morning. When it woke me up.

They don't warn you about how high-risk recycling is, do they?

The Editor

*The North-South Divide. This reminds me of a residential training event I had the unalloyed joy of attending many years ago. The purpose of which, if memory serves, was to improve the working relationship between Liverpool staff and their Southend colleagues by bringing them together and compelling them to take part in not-at-all risible team-building exercises.

Someone in Liverpool made the arrangements. Arrangements which, apparently, included the instruction to arrive in time for dinner.

(You can see where I'm going with this, can't you? There's a horrible inevitability about the whole thing...)

So the Liverpool contingent arrived in time for dinner. That is, we arrived in time for the meal which most Northerners refer to as "dinner". The one in the middle of the day. The one which yer average poncy Southerner (or, indeed, poncy middle-class Northerner, such as yours truly) would refer to as, "lunch".

And the people from Southend? Oh, they arrived in time for dinner.

Still, it gave us the opportunity to familiarise ourselves fully with the entertainment possibilities inherent in a characterless motel in the middle of nowhere. Entertainment possibilities which, if memory serves, began and ended with the machine in the foyer which would reluctantly disgorge a handful of mediocre chocolates if you fed a wholly-disproportionate quantity of coins into its gaping maw.

Ah, memories...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Water, water everywhere...

It's suprising how quickly you can get into the habit of swigging a mug of warm water every time you're up on your feet.

(And I know why the best temperature for consumption of optimum volume is "warm", now. If you drink something hot or cold, you have to pause between swallows while your throat accommodates itself to the temperature of what it's swallowing: if what you intend to drink is approximately blood-heat, you can just keep on swallowing without interruption until you've emptied the mug/glass/firkin/barrel*.)

So drinking the stuff isn't the problem I assumed it would be. No, drinking it is the least of my worries. Flushing out the excess, on the other hand, is most unpleasant. "Flushing" being the operative word, here. About every ten minutes, as you're asking.

Plus it oozes out of every pore in a most unpleasant fashion. That'll be the mewks, though. Nasty stuff, mewks.

I went for my second acupuncture treatment on Monday morning. Dr Liu asked me how I'd been feeling since the first one. I told her that, although I had more movement in my lower back, and had been able to cut the dose of Tramadol down to three a day, I had mostly felt like death warmed up. And asked whether I was right in assuming that that was on account of the toxins which the first treatment had shaken loose from their comfy resting place around my sacro-iliac joints hurtling around my system in a disgruntled manner prior to being swept up and out by virtue of my superhuman consumption of water. Or whether I had just been feeling very poorly as a result of something completely unrelated.

That's right, she said. It's the mewks which has built up in your back. The mewks is sticky. The mewks needs water to get it moving. Think what happens to a river when there isn't enough water for it to flow properly. This is what is happening in your body.

Did I mention that Dr Liu's English is very heavily-accented? Well, she was behind me when we were having this conversation. Inserting needles; turning up the power; that sort of thing. So, not being possessed of the head-turning capacity of yer average wol, I couldn't watch her lips while she was speaking.

It took several minutes for the penny to drop: she was talking about mucus.

Now, I don't know about you, but "mucus" isn't up there on my Top Ten List of Attractive Words. Far too reminiscent of a heavy cold for my liking. So I'm going to stick with "toxins". On the grounds that, while it doesn't sound like something delightful, it at least doesn't sound as though it would be sticky. Or necessarily greeny-yellow. Or yellowy-green. Because I'd really rather not think about particles of that hurtling round my bloodstream, thanks very much. Even though it would explain why I've been feeling so ghastly. However, I fear that "mewks" is about to become a permanent fixture in my vocabulary. Particularly if Boogaloo Dude and Pop have any say in the matter.

Anyway, despite her earlier promise that the second session wouldn't be nearly as long as the first one, I was plugged in for a full 30 minutes again. Only this time, I had more than one tingly needle. I'm guessing I had five separate tingles, but it's not that easy to tell. Certainly at least three.

I gather Dr Liu has decided to give my back injury the acupunctural equivalent of a damn' good kicking. (Er, she may actually have said, "intense treatment", at this point. She certainly didn't mention kicking.) Several lengthy treatments in quick succession to dislodge all that horrible mewks, and fortnightly follow-ups thereafter. So I'm back there later on today, and again on Saturday**. Given how close together those appointments are, I expect to feel most unwell until at least Monday.

Not that I am complaining. Really. The treatment is making an appreciable difference to both my pain and mobility levels. In fact, on Monday, I surprised myself by getting into a black cab without having to resort to hauling myself in manually by the grab rails. And I can't remember when I was last able to do that. (Although I do recall, in vivid detail, the brief but searing agony of having to do that with a frozen shoulder last year.)

Feeling wretched for a couple of weeks is a very small price to pay for an overall improvement in my quality of life. I just wanted to make the point that it isn't All Fun. So that, if anyone reading this is considering trying acupuncture for their own problems, they will know that it might - if they have as high a quotient of mewks-squatters as I did/do - have a similar impact on them.

The Editor

*Those of you with minds as smutty as mine may not be able to prevent yourselves from inserting (oo er, Madam!) your fellatio-related noun of choice at this point...

**Unfortunately, the times of these two appointments don't fit in at all well with the timetable of the hourly bus in that direction. I say "unfortunately" because the clinic is right slap-bang next door to the Biggest Oxfam Book Shop In The World: a shop in which I can happily spend many an impoverishing forty minutes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The One In Seven icon

Remember One in Seven? I wrote it last April as a rallying call for BADD 2006. It struck more of a chord than I had ever expected it to, and is the most-linked-to post on the entire blog.

I'm more grateful than I can say to Trinity for generously creating the rather spiffing icon to the right. Smart, isn't it?

The lack of obvious reference to disability in the image is deliberate: my hope is that the icon will pique the curiosity of non-disabled visitors sufficiently for them to click on it and read the post to which it links. Disability discrimination (at least in the West) is more often the result of thoughtlessness than deliberate malice: I'm hoping, in a small way, to make people think. And I'm aiming at precisely those people who would shrink - for whatever reason - from following up any link which was obviously disability-related.

So I'm pleased and proud to invite any bloggers who support disability equality* to publish the icon on their own sites. The invaluable Goldfish has kindly provided me with the necessary coding:

Copy that little lot and paste it into your blogger template, and Robert should be your dad's brother.

I'm keeping everything crossed for a sudden proliferation of little green icons across the blogosphere. And I think you should know that there's a strong possibility of unattractive sulking if that doesn't happen.

The Editor

*By which I mean that you don't have to be disabled yourself, or to have a blog which concentrates on disability issues, to use the icon. You just have to mind about discrimination.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Caught in the act

You know, I thought it was suspiciously quiet.

This, of course, was after I had thought, "It's a very warm day. I'm sure it'll be safe to leave him in the living room on his own. He couldn't possibly want to lie on warm piles of ironing."

You may want to click on these to enlarge them. That way you'll get a more detailed view of his "innocent" little face...

The Editor

Friday, June 08, 2007

A needling doubt...

Regular readers will be aware (possibly to the point of severely-strained tolerance) of my current impairment-related problems.

Should anyone reading this particular post be new to this blog, however, here is a potted history of The Story So Far:-

After 15 years of taking NSAIDs for lower back pain, I developed gastritis. NSAIDs now = death. NSAIDs swapped for combination of Tramadol + Paracetamol. Gastritis now quiescent. Pain levels, however, hugely increased. Tramadol of limited analgesic effect, but the bee's bum at inducing brain fog so debilitating that a return to work is out of the question. GP's response to complaints of continued brain fog is suggestion to reduce dosage of Tramadol. Which leaves me with a choice between intolerable levels of pain and intolerable levels of brain fog. Isn't life fun?

Anyroad up (as we say Oop North. No, really: we do), when I regaled the latest additions to this sorry tale to my osteopath when I saw him last week, he asked me whether I had considered acupuncture.

Which I hadn't. Or, at least, not seriously. I didn't know all that much about it, and I hadn't realised that one of its chief applications is in the field of pain relief. So I read up on it a bit when I got home. And I was intrigued. And I decided to give it a go.

Which is how I found myself at a local clinic yesterday morning being bossed about by a suprisingly large and imposing Chinese lady doctor whose English is so heavily-accented that, once I had my back to her, I had very little chance of understanding what she was saying. Not that she says a great deal. However, she clearly knows what she's about.

"There is a lot of pressure across your lower back, resulting in inflammation and pain", she said, after only half a minute or so of pressing her hand against it. Having been well brought up by parents to whom courtesy is important, I resisted the temptation to reply, "No shit, Sherlock". (Actually, put anyone within easy prodding distance of my lower back and I become remarkably and uncharacteristically docile and compliant. Right up until the moment when they move out of reach. But I digress.)

Ok, so I know only too well that the soft tissues in my lower back are permanently inflamed and extremely painful, but that doesn't mean I'm not impressed that Dr Liu can reach a firm conclusion to that effect after only a few seconds spent manually examining the area in question.

"We can't relieve this immediately", she continued. "It will take several sessions." Not being exactly a novice in the whole chronic pain area, I really hadn't been expecting an overnight cure. In fact, I don't expect a cure at all. So this was fine by me. After all, what else would I be spending my salary on? (Er, that's a rhetorical question, obviously. In case Boogaloo Dude was about to leap in with suggestions.)

So, I'm lying on a fairly hard treatment couch on my right side. I'm not very good on my right side. I certainly can't sleep on that side. I tend to feel vaguely car-sick. I suspect it's an inner ear issue. Anyway, I can't see what the doctor is doing. I assume she's inserting needles into my lower back. In fact, I can feel one of them going in. She asks me to let her know when I feel "a tingling". Which I soon do. It's a very odd sensation. Satisfied with her work, she leaves me plugged into the mains for half an hour.

Now, not only am I not very good on my right side, I'm also not very good at staying immobile in any position for thirty minutes. Bits of me are already starting to complain before the thirty minutes have even started. However, if I want to move, I've got two choices. I can roll onto my back and embed the needles rather deeply. Or I can roll onto my front and off the treatment couch onto the floor. Neither of these options attracts me greatly. So I lie there. And I lie there some more. My neck hurts. My knees are stiff. My left shoulder Isn't Happy At All. My lower back is horribly exposed to anyone who might break into the surgery and decide to give me a good kicking.

Despite the discomfort (none of which, I should add, is coming from the needles themselves), the half hour passes much more quickly than I would have anticipated. The doctor comes back in, removes the needles, and helps me off the couch. I am dizzy and disoriented. She tells me that I am to come back on Monday, and that I won't need as long as thirty minutes the next time. Once the dizziness has abated a little, I head off to the bus stop. One of the first things I realise is that my stride is longer. (This won't mean anything to you if you don't have joint problems in your lower spine and pelvis. But it's a Good Thing.)

Ok, so there's one thing I haven't told you. But I must. Because there's no way on God's green earth that I'm going to do this without the assistance of my trusty team of diabetes police. (The people who make sure I've taken my meds and that I've eaten. They know who they are.)

"I want you to drink as much warm water as you can", said Dr Liu. (She knows warm water is disgusting. But she's told me to think about the long-term benefits.)

Pop, always on the look-out for a new and entertaining (for him, at least) nag, has swung smoothly into action. And has made himself remarkably unpopular in the process. Poor man got himself seriously snarled at last night. (Although I still don't believe 8 litres is a realistic goal for a day's warm-water consumption.)

As I would really very much rather not fall out with Pop - or, at least, not over something this trivial - I hereby grant permission to all those readers who are in touch with me by phone, email, text message or IM to nag me mercilessly to drink more warm water. Despite the fact that drinking it makes me feel sick. Despite the fact that being female, having diabetes, and taking diuretic tablets for blood pressure every morning mean that - even without the additional x litres of warm water - I'm very fortunate that I don't live in a multi-person household in which there might be a queue for the bathroom.

Go ahead: make my day.

The Editor

Thursday, June 07, 2007


I'm off to have needles stuck in me soon (of which probably more later - if I survive the experience) but, before I limp off towards the bus stop, I've just got time to draw your attention to this news item.

Colin Bennett, who has Ushers syndrome, has campaigned long and hard for improved induction loop facilities in Brighton and Hove town halls. A court case has been avoided, but Brighton and Hove City Council have backed down and paid £2500 - partly to cover Mr Bennett's legal costs, and the rest to charity.

Which just goes to show what can be done if you have the time, the tenacity, the commitment and the stamina to stand by your guns.

A complete dossier of the correspondence relating to this claim under the DDA is available here.

Many congratulations to Colin: he clearly cares more about what is right than about making life comfortable for those who are supposed to be getting it right. And, whilst he may not be flavour of the month with certain council officials, he's the hero of the hour in my book.

The Editor

Monday, June 04, 2007

Horsing around

Last weekend I committed the tactical error of reading a "thriller" written by John Francome.

Yes. I know.

In my defence, it was part of a bundle of ten books purchased in a cardboard slipcover from WH Smiths after Christmas for thruppence ha'penny. I read the other nine books weeks ago, and they have since been passed on to suitable homes.

The John Francome one lurked. It watched me with its beady little eyes. It hurled itself off the top of my teetering pile of unread books every so often just in case I'd forgotten about it. It reminded me, when it managed to catch my attention, that I had paid for it and that it would therefore be a Moral Outrage for me to send it straight to the charity shop without giving it a chance.

Yes, well. I know better now.

To liken the characters in this least thrilling of thrillers to cardboard cut-outs would be to imbue them with entirely too much depth. What's that impossibly-thin paper called which is used to make the pages of Bibles? Onion skin? That's how deep they were.

To make matters even less convincing, just when you thought you'd grasped the basics of a particular character, the sands shifted violently beneath your feet.

Take the bookie. Right nasty piece of work. Womanising, violent, unscrupulous, feared amongst the underclass of the racing world. Hard as nails and twice as unpleasant. Until he looks into the drugged eyes of our heroine. At which point he falls helplessly in love; reneges on the multi-million pound international arms deal in which she would have been harmed and, as a result, is summarily executed on a beach. Yeah, right.

His opposite was the charming race steward. Diffident, well-spoken, gentle and kind. Oh, but that was just a front. Turns out he's former-SAS, Has Issues, and isn't really very nice at all. In the final scenes of the book (yes, I read right through to the end), the only thing which prevents him killing our heroine in cold blood is the arrival at the window of a paid assassin who also wants to kill her. Distracted from his intended task, the race steward hurls himself at the intruder, and they both plummet to their deaths several storeys below. Or something. I don't know. I wasn't really concentrating. Anyway, our onion-skin-flimsy heroine survives to ride another day. Big whoop.

The thing is, though, I was always vaguely under the impression that it's the responsibility of some poor, benighted junior member of staff in the publishing house to check the text the author has submitted for screaming errors.

In which case, it's really rather hard to imagine how "curb-crawler" (sic) got through.

But the best bit (the bit which makes having read through the whole bloody thing Very Nearly Worthwhile) is the description of someone closing a door sarcastically.

Now, call me emotionally inarticulate if you like, but how the hell do you perform an action as simple as closing a door sarcastically?? I can see how you could do it violently. Or gently. Or angrily. Because those are all methods which would have an effect on the degree of noise produced by the door closing. But how is the person upon whom you have just closed the door supposed to gather that you did it in a sarcastic way? Remember, you've gone: all they can see is the door.

Lady Bracknell is still away, so I'm pretty much holding the fort on my own here. This makes it rather difficult for me to try out my theory. So, if those of you who live in multi-person households could experiment and report back, I'd be very grateful.

Shut the door on your spouse/flat-mate/offspring/PA. Do it as sarcastically as you can manage*. Then go back into the room and ask your victim to describe the way in which you closed the door.

If you're feeling particularly creative and/or mischievous, you may want to try out a few other adverbs. Can you, for example, shut a door joyously? How about bitterly? Or smugly? Or enviously?

Do let me know how you get on. Me, I'm off to have a shower. I'm intending to turn the shower on in a particularly timid way.

The Editor

*NB The Editor can not take responsibility for any domestic grievances which may result from this experiment.

Bankers (a reprise)

I'm down to the last cheque in my chequebook. I don't write many cheques these days, so a chequebook lasts me nearly a year. Nevertheless, I don't want to be without one. Given that I persist in my completely-unconvincing delusion that my osteopath's home finances would collapse without the regular injection of my treatment fees, I wouldn't like to think of his children going hungry.

Realising that the end (of the chequebook) was nigh, I requested another one when I was in the branch three weeks ago.

Not that this was straightforward. I was due in town to have my eyes tested, and decided I would set off early in order to have time to pay in a cheque and make enquiries about the missing replacement cheque book. A plan which was derailed just ever so slightly by the fact that Somebody Had Stolen My Bank. Honestly. I went to where it used to be, and it wasn't there any more. I mean, the building was there, obviously. But it no longer housed bank employees. Or anyone else, if soaped-up windows can be relied upon as an indicator of non-occupancy. Neither did it have a helpful sign, written in crayon and sellotaped to the door, saying, "We have moved! Follow this completely out-of-scale, hand-drawn-by-someone-with-no-cartography-skills-to-speak-of map to find our new premises".

Bemused, I decided to continue to limp slowly onward to the optician. I would arrive early, admittedly, but they know me there, and I was confident they'd be ok with me collapsing into a leather armchair and poring over brochures until such time as they were ready for me. Particularly given my predilection for falling so violently in lust with pairs of spectacle frames that I simply must buy them there and then. Or at least have them ordered for me.

At some stage during my weary attempts to avoid the vast number of pedestrians whose sole purpose in life appears to be to bump into me, I realised there was a new, shiny bank hoving into view to port. Very flash. It has burly security guards Of Few Words and young, enthusiastic greeters with headsets who pounce on the unsuspecting customer the moment she sets foot in the premises. Wilting visibly under the charm offensive of the young man who had attached himself to me, I ordered a new cheque book. He took some persuading that there really was nothing else he could do for me, but I was eventually released back out into the sunlight. The combination of 21st century banking and Tramadol was rather more than I could cope with, but at least I had been assured that my cheque book was on its way.

Ok, so hands up all those people who think my chequebook actually arrived....



No, you're quite right. It didn't. And the online banking system doesn't have an option for ordering a new one. So I looked up the phone number for the issuing branch. Imagine how thrilled I was to note that the phone number for all branches is now the same.

Anyway, I rang it. I was doing quite well until the automated system asked me for the first and fifth digits of my security code.

I combed the furthest reaches of the website for an alternate number. One which put me through to a call centre in India.

I explained what I needed.

The woman I spoke to was prepared, just this once, to transfer me to customer services. Even though I should have used another number.

I know, I said. I've already tried that number. It asks me for digits from a security code which I can no longer remember as it's approximately five years since I last used telephone banking.

You should use that number, she said. You have to follow the prompts, and you will need to have your security code ready.

I may have turned just a little bit tetchy at this point. Possibly. At any rate, she didn't seem to want to carry on talking to me. I was put on hold until someone from Customer Services was free to take the call. Bizarrely, that bit of Customer Services is in the UK. Am I the only person whose mind boggles at the thought of the technology required to put a call through at the touch of a button from India to the UK?

She was nice. She listened. She understood that a person might forget a security code if they hadn't used it for a while, so she asked me some other questions to prove to herself that I am who I was claiming to be. My mother's maiden name was the clincher. We were in.

I read out the handy 16 digit number on my debit card.

She asked me for my full name, as it appears on my account.

"Certainly. Miss F LaFoo* MBE."

"So do I call you Miss MBE?"


"Oh. What should I call you?"

"Miss LaFoo."

"Oh. So what does MBE mean?"

"It means I'm a member of the British Empire."

~ horrified silence ~

"Oh, God. I am so embarrassed."

"Don't be. That's the best laugh I've had all day. You've cheered me up no end."

The Editor

*Not my real name. In case you were wondering...

Sunday, June 03, 2007

In case you missed it....

Over the last few days, Andrea from Reunify Gally has been devoting considerable amounts of her time to reading this blog's archives. She's left a number of useful and/or entertaining comments which are unlikely to be read by casual visitors unless I draw big arrows to point to them. Er, or provide links. (I tend to leave the drawing side of things to Pete.)

The following comment is so important that I'm actually going to paste it into this entry so that no-one has to engage in any of that exhausting link-following nonsense:

"In reference to your link to the organization that distributes cheap wheelchairs to people in developing countries, may I humbly submit to your readers the name of another organization that also strives to deliver the means of mobility in developing countries, but by somewhat different means.

Whirlwind Wheelchair International works with people with mobility impairments in developing countries to teach them how to design, construct, and repair their own wheelchairs from locally available materials. This gives them the means to establish their own local wheelchair production and repair business, and allows for the possibility of designing wheelchairs to meet the needs of individual users. As Lady Bracknell and a goodly portion of her legions of loyal fans well know, no two people have the exact same needs even when they have been assigned similar diagnostic labels.

Local production also allows them to design chairs to fit local physical and cultural conditions. Standard western wheelchair designs, for example, often cannot withstand the rough, unpaved roads or climatic extremes that are to be found in many developing countries, particularly in rural areas. Also, in some cultures where everything including cooking and dining is done on the floor, a standard western wheelchair may actually serve to isolate the user by lifting them high off the ground, away from where most family life is conducted. So in some countries, they have designed chairs with seats close to the ground to enable the user to continue cooking and dining with their family.

Furthermore, equipping people with the skills to do their own production and repairs ensures that people who need them will not only obtain wheelchairs but will also have the means for obtaining repairs or replacements when their first wheelchair breaks down.

I am not a member or employee of this organization in any way. I am merely an admiring fan of their work.

Those interested in learning more may pursue
this link"

If, though, you're one of those people for whom following links is a relaxing and enjoyable pastime, prepare to cringe inwardly at the anecdote Andrea relates in her comment on this post.

If you haven't already seen it (and I have to confess that I have not myself had sufficient spoons at my disposal in recent months to keep up with all the blogs I would like to visit regularly), don't miss the video which Andrea links to in this comment.

Lastly, Andrea provides another link which is well worth following in this comment.

The Editor

Friday, June 01, 2007

Who wants to live for ever?

Earlier this week, one B. Dude Esq reminded me of the existence of the TUC Disability Champions website.

We hadn't pottered around the site's pages for, oo, must be at least eighteen months, but the Dude had been reminded of it by an email he had had the misfortune of receiving.

Although I'm about to point and laugh (but only in a nice way) at what is really quite a small fly in the ointment, I should stress that I support the project in principle one hundred per cent. It's something which is sorely needed because disability rights is such a technically complex area and disabled union members really do need properly-trained representatives when they are experiencing discrimination.

(Unfortunately, it's one of those frustrating websites in which the URL stays the same regardless of which page you're looking at. So I can't provide you with links through to individual pages. If you're interested in learning more, I'd recommend the The Project link on the menu on the left, and following that with the More about the project link at the bottom of that page.)

As I said above, I am wholly in support of the project in principle. Being a bit of an intolerant old bat, however, I find myself flinching at the quality of some of the information produced by the union reps who have trained as Disability Champions. Which isn't to say that they aren't doing a sterling job back in their workplaces. Or that you have to be of a certain intellectual calibre to fight disability discrimination wherever you encounter it. But...

If you follow the Information link in the menu, you'll find yourself presented with a list of impairment-specific guidance produced by some of the champions while they were being trained.

(It's probably only fair to confess at this point that, social model advocate that I am, I have serious concerns about any disability guidance which focuses on the medical details of particular impairments rather than on the barriers faced by people who have those impairments. Think that's an unnecessarily subtle distinction? I've seen guidance for staff with colostomy bags telling them in no uncertain terms that they have a responsibility to tell everyone they work with what it's like to have a bag so as to "explode the myths". My response to that sort of nonsense is unprintable. Suffice it to say that, if you need to work as near to the loo as possible, your manager and colleagues don't need to know why. You really aren't under any obligation to be an evangelist for your own impairment.)

Anyway, back to the guidance on the Champions website. You'll see that a chap called Brendon Kirkpatrick has written a piece on diabetes. Guidance which includes the following astonishing statement:

"The overall risk of dying among people with diabetes is at least double the risk of their peers without diabetes."

Now, I don't know about you, but this is news to me. And, as someone who's got diabetes, I've got to admit that I think it's just the teensiest bit unfair. I and my fellow diabetics are doomed to certain death while the rest of you have a one in two chance of having a crack at immortality. Frankly, if I'd realised six years ago just how tough diabetics have it in comparison with the rest of the population, I'd have been a lot more upset about my diagnosis.

So, if you'll excuse me, I'm off for a sulk. If anyone needs me, I'll be sitting in the corner in a distinctly huffy manner.

The Editor

By popular demand

Having been harangued beyond endurance by the delightful Becca, I give you Bertie on his way out to play in the jungle...