…am reminded of a terrible joke about a squid in a tank in a French restaurant. Which I can’t be arsed to tell. But which ends with the punchline:
“For Hans who wash dishes is as soft as Gervase,
For lime green, hairy lipped squid”
Anywho. Today I will mostly be discussing something which makes your skin feel soft AND the rather fabulous Dales series by Gervase Phinn.
In reverse order, I have been thoroughly enjoying the first two books by Gervase Phinn. I read the James Herriott books when I was about twelve and, naturally, wanted to be a vet for the next six months. These have a similar effect on my teaching sensibilities. Although they are slightly saccharine, there is a gentleness and humour which made them the perfect companion on a Bank Holiday in France. Phinn is an excellent storyteller and writes dialogue very well. Which is lucky because the greatest moments in his books are the conversations he has with a motley assortment of down to earth Yorkshire children.
The first book, “The Other Side of the Dale“, describes his first year as a school inspector in the Dales. The second book, “Over Hill and Dale“, takes us to his second year on the job and the development of his relationship with a pretty headmistress of a local school. He is so ebullient in his praise of her that, cynic that I am, I rushed to Google to find a picture. That is quite weird isn’t it? I just like to check these things – I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder but there is no harm in confirming some facts.
Had I discovered that she was suffering with dodgy skin, I might have suggested a silk pillowcase from Made in Silk. I was given one for my birthday and think it is FABULOUS. Apparently, it can stop you getting so wrinkly because of amino acids, or something like that. All I know is that it is so lovely to sleep on – like an adult version of a muslin.
I. Am. Tired. Whinge, whinge, whinge. But I am – and grumpy and glandy and throaty and did I say I was tired? Grr.
My baby sister was the most terrible grouch when we were little. Mum was desperate to cheer her up so we used to have to go through a particularly obnoxious ritual every night at supper. In order to bring a little sunshine to her chubby little chops, we would each take it in turns to say one nice thing that had happened to us that day. I shit you not. So, in the spirit of my mother’s most horrendous idea, I have decided to lift my mood by reflecting on nice things. Lucky you.
Step forward number one lovely, cheering thing…the Paperless Post. It is the best place to go to send online cards and invitations. The thought of an online card would normally fill me with icy-cold, slightly snobby horror but I love everything about this site: the design, the product and the service. It is the perfect paradigm of how I want my life to be. If only I was a bit better at correspondence and brushed my hair more. And today I got an email to say that they are introducing thank you letters and birthday cards to their range. Fabulous!
Hello second lovely, cheering thing…Jo Malone’s Red Roses Cologne. I bought a little bottle of it this week and the smell is making me happy. It’s light and floral but lasts beautifully. It smells clean, elegant and womanly. Happiness would be filling in a Paperless Post card whilst wearing a yummy cashmere scarf which has a faint whiff of this on it.
I have just read back the two things which have made me happy today and am struck by how ridiculously shallow and acquisitive I am. Which has made me flipping crochety again. See – I told you this was a stupid idea.
I have been reading “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson in the last couple of days. It is a gentle, intelligent love story about a retired Army Major, Ernest Pettigrew, and the widowed owner of the village shop, Mrs. Ali. Their surprising romance calls into question the obligations and traditions which their very different backgrounds enforce upon them.
I have been desperate to get home in the evening to read more. There is something immensely comforting about Simonson’s style so that, even when she is making you think about the unsettling subjects of racism, class or ageing, you feel as though you are standing on very solid ground. And she writes the most beautiful sentences, lifting this above a mere sun lounger read: “The waves flopped dirty foam onto the expanse of quilted brown sand…” took me to the beach at Netley on a grey day. I wondered if she had such a pure way of describing England because she has lived abroad for so many years.
I really wanted to be glamorous and edgy in my early twenties: I worked in media, partied hard, and aimed to date someone who was a bit ‘different’…which could just mean a bit of a shit. I used to think that the women in my office who were hovering around thirty were affected in their desire to party less and develop slightly more domestic interests. But I’ve noticed that, in the last year and a half, a desire to settle has been creeping up on me too.
When I was little, we always had the same Friday nights – bath and clean pyjamas, oven pizza and salad, and watching ‘Allo ‘Allo all cuddled up together on the sofa. Dad would stand up in the last ad break and ask who wanted a cup of tea and a couple of Mint Matchmakers. I crave this sort of routine now – it makes me far happier than wild nights out where anything could happen. It’s just a bit of a bummer that I’m not going to meet the man of my dreams sitting on the sofa in my pyjamas with oven pizza dribbled down my front.
I wonder if there is a general feeling that quieter lifestyles are inherently a good thing. I think that a lot of people feel a bit bashed and bruised by the past few years. Rather than dinner in an expensive restaurant, some of us would prefer to sometimes eat at home with people we love, and close our door to the scary world outside. And that’s what is so great about “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand“. It is a reminder – a postcard – sent from a more structured yet gentler way of life. It’s done my heart good to read it.
I have watched “Julie and Julia” three times in the last week. This, I feel, reflects two of my most defining features: my tendency to obsess about things I love, and the fact that I still get raging tonsillitis which keeps me at home for days on end at the age of twenty-seven.
Anywho. Isn’t it a lovely film? I thought it was fabulous, and it made up my mind to have a go at blogging. There is something horrendously arrogant about this blogging malarkey – who gives a monkey’s about what I have to say? – but if I promise myself that I’m doing this purely to practise my writing, then I think I can get away with it.
I want to use this space to talk about things I love or which interest me. I might even meet people who love them too – that would also be a great reason to blog. So, with this in mind, I intend to talk about books and will probably spill out into film, beautiful things for the home, perfume and food.
It’s very nice to meet you.