In praise of praise (or how I mended the toaster)

The builder was round today – Bill.  I’ve known him as long as I’ve been in St Albans, which is 23 years, and every piece of work I’ve ever had done, he’s the one that’s done it.  He’s built extensions, improved bathrooms, put in kitchens, constructed garden offices, made emergency repairs to leaking cold storage tanks, replaced windows,painted walls, doors and floors, plus tons of the small jobs I save up till he’s over. [...]

2018-05-25T13:44:22+00:00

How to make triangles round

I’m still talking about my bathroom.  Having got really fed up with John Lewis’s surprisingly chaotic attempts to centralise its flooring service, I mugged them off (please John Lewis, pull yourself together, your country needs you to stay stable in these uncertain times) and ordered a roll of vinyl direct from the internet.  I found a number for someone who could fit it and the guy came round to see if he could help. [...]

2018-04-13T18:48:42+00:00

Why is that boy wearing my jacket?

One of the many blessings of painting a room is you get to hear a programme on radio 4 from beginning to end (and for those that read the previous post, I overran my timetable, it was a much bigger job than I expected).  On Sunday I listened to something about humiliation.  It told the story of a boy who grew up poor.  His mum had found a fabulous jacket in a jumble sale, [...]

2018-04-06T10:33:24+00:00

How to make ringing the insurance company really fun

I have been meaning to ring the insurance company for weeks.  I know, that's possibly the least inspiring first line in the history of writing, let along blogging, but there's no other way to start. It kept reappearing on my list, moving up and down it, never getting crossed out, never not needing to be done.  Why was I delaying?  Because of the tedium of it, because of the time it would take, because [...]

2018-03-21T11:26:56+00:00

Bouncing on a Concrete Airbed

I popped into the Rachel Whiteread exhibition at Tate Britain yesterday morning.  I'm fascinated by her stuff - the back to front of a fireplace, the inside of a school desk, the wrong side of a window, the invisible middle of a hot water bottle made out of concrete and resin.  I'm no art critic but what happens to me when I see these sculptures is not unlike the fascination I feel at miniature [...]

2018-03-21T11:38:52+00:00

A prince of love in every way

I have always been proud of my excellent memory.  I can tell you exactly what people said, what they wore, how they behaved, from years back.  No one queries it, which is how I know I’m right. I am staying in the apartment in Aix en Provence that I first visited as a fifteen year old.  It’s not unusual to visit places you came to as a child, often you visit periodically over [...]

2018-03-21T13:38:23+00:00

How it cost me £480 to edit one page of my website and even that was a bit rubbish

I have just spent a whole day on my website.  It's run by Wordpress, as you can probably see, and yes, it's not finished.  It's not just the whole day I've spent on it, it's the ... let me see ... four and a half months I have spent finding all sorts of imaginative ways to avoid doing it.  So, if I charge £60 an hour for my time, (more for commercial mediation) that's [...]

2018-03-21T13:39:09+00:00