Monthly Archives: May 2015

Glass test tubes . . . (episode 66)

image by 'gameanna'

image by ‘gameanna’

May 31 1999

3A Hyde Park Terrace

Dear Mum

It feels like an aeon since I last wrote. I have been very busy acquiring a large collection of glass vessels, and decorative base plates, for my endeavours with flower arranging. And having read my way through a gigantic tome entitled ‘Flowers’ I am now trying out all manner of ideas involving glass test tubes and water melons! Use of the latter object has meant acquiring a spiked metal carving tray (to embed the fruit upon) and I have also been scouring the park/streets for suitable wild flowers to use (the ‘Flowers’ tome appears to favour the ‘artisan’ style of adorning glass with plant material.) I must say that Cow Parsley – in combination with pink False Valerian – has proved to be just the sort of pairing that goes well will the colouration of a water melon! I have also asked the Denizens café if they might be willing to display one or two of my latest confections (free of charge; I am a novice). And they said ‘Yes!’ I haven’t, as yet, taken any round there as – gazing upon the coloured stones adorning two of my base plates – it occurred to me that it would be just my luck if a local infant got one wedged in its trachea and asphyxiated! I am going to have to resort to the use of a double-sided sticky fastener and that may not look too aesthetic.

I am so glad, as I know you will be too, that the Red Rose party – led so toothily by Mr Timothy Bear MP – has expelled the Blue Ribbon party by such a magnificent majority! Perhaps the struggling poor – not to mention the struggling fox – might both now have improved chances of survival. And although it is most delightful that my ex-husband is also an ex- MP, he will (sadly) no longer have the weight of a lead-lined red box to impede his traverses across Hyde Park. I only mention this personage Mum as I unfortunately encountered him in the alley which runs across the end of my terrace. I had hoped that – time having passed – I might have fully recovered from such sightings. However, I did rather find myself yelling, “Get Out Austen. And stay out.”

I think I need a distraction Mum. But whenever I spend time in a bar, at night, dripping with diamond earrings and décolletage, I seem to wind up with the likes of Edgar Hummingway. And in the light of my experiences in the Castro Central Women’s Prison – not so many months ago – I think I’d better confine myself to activities involving glass test tubes and water melons! (For a while at least.) There is certainly no normal-looking, or even faintly-desirable, male here in the Denizens café today.

How did your scans go by the way? Hopefully ‘No Return District General Hospital’ has not kept you in!

Love as ever



Mole intelligence: EPISODE 65


May 25 1999

10 Forsythia Grove
Outer Hamlet

My Dear Ralph

I am quite well pet – just a little distracted – but thank you for your latest epistle.

I am certainly quite willing to pen you a testimonial with regard to your nurse training application. It is enclosed:


I have been acquainted with my nephew, Ralph, for nearly the whole of his – twenty-four years – of life. I was quite often left ‘carrying the baby’ when his mother, Constance, was in hot pursuit of some millionaire male or other, so I am most familiar with particulars of his layette – and capacity for an intense, sloe-black, stare – when his bottle was due. for Ralph was not a vocally importunate baby.

And then, later, I used to gaze fondly out of the verandah windows as he played under a (rather frail) lilac tree. He went through quite a phase of incinerating ants in the beam of sun passing through his magnifying glass. But eventually, as I recall, the lilac tree went up in a conflagration and fell down on top of him. I still remember hastening across long grass and peeling the blackened branches from off his little body. Of course, I think this must have been a form of displaced anger caused by the absence of his mother.

However, Ralph has now grown into a quiet young man who – although lacking in focus and direction – seems concerned, at heart, with matters of justice and mercy and the welfare of the domestic fruit fly.

I feel certain that, while he is still a little callow (and mixed up) he will be a conscientious asset on any student nursing course being run at Carpool University Hospital.


E. Tankful (DBE)’

Will that do pet? Do let me know if you want me to make any amendments.

Meanwhile, I myself have been cogitating over whether I should enter a garden I have been tending into the Outer Hamlet ‘rear garden competition.’ I am not much of a one for getting involved in local civic events as you know. And I am equally reluctant to draw attention to my activities ‘out in the field’ – even if such endeavours might lead to my baking in a blaze of displaced glory (displaced as I am not the actual garden owner). I must say I am wondering if I can get one of these application forms incognito . . . And on this very subject I have just seen an ‘innocent’ of my acquaintance passing through my field of view in the ‘Denizens’ café. Hmmm. Maybe said Arabella might be induced to taken a trip into foreign territory, a.k.a. the Outer Hamlet town hall, on my behalf . . .

The other little matter which has been causing somewhat of a furrowed brow this weekend, is that of the Sandwich. I don’t know if I have told you but – having made a full recovery from my recent cardiovascular accident – I decided to sign up with ‘Especial Care Services’ to do some weekend care work. And, having recently completed their three-day training course, I have been despatched to look after any number of people with Alzheimer’s/Vascular Dementia.

One such individual – a lady in her eighties – does need help with cooking a hot meal (she is unable to remember the temperatures and timings on a second-to-second basis). However, I have realized that she is very willing, and able, to make her own sandwich at supper-time. (I suppose this must be because she has been in the habit of making said sandwich for 70+ years now.) Difficulty has, however, arisen because the other carers are penning ‘made X a sandwich’ in the legal record and I am penning, ‘Observed X make a sandwich’ in the same record. It is this type of thing, dear, that does lead to the most ridiculous sense of discord and I have been cogitating, all morning, on some mode of expression that solves my dilemma. I have finally (too late for yesterday’s record) come up with the idea that I should write, ‘X HAD a sandwich’ in the notes.

Such are the issues of a lady’s life – albeit one who is (almost) past her prime!

Aunt Evangeline

Broken bones . . . (episode 64)

Image by 'stockdevil'

Image by ‘stockdevil’

May 16 1999

401B Concrete Shacks

What ho! Auntie

Long time no hear. Are you still alive? Looking forward to seeing a green-inked, lavender-scented, missive in the post as I feel I may be missing something!

Wonderful tidings with regard to Mandie (or perhaps I am being a little hard . . .) who was flattened under a road haulage truck a week ago now. Apparently, and I have this on good authority from a piece I read in the Wortlewell Gazette, she was crossing the road while engrossed in some paperwork she was carrying. And that’s how she came to break every bone in her body. Imagine! I expect she will be laid up for a very long time (yippee!) and I enclose a cut-out of just one of her injuries. Perhaps she was gazing at the next lovelorn note she was planning to deliver to my address? In any event, it has saved me from an unknown – and unimaginable – fate on the decks of the oil rig Tartan Theta.

The incident did, however, cause me to ponder upon the impermanence of Life and the possible non-existence of the Future. And gazing further at multiple photos of Carpool University Hospital, also featuring in the newspaper article, I came to a resolution about my Future. I decided that, as one who has always cared devotedly for any number of domestic spiders (and fruit flies) – all named ‘Cyril’ – that I am obviously one who is destined to care more deeply for injured members of the human race – but maybe not Mandie.

So Auntie, you will be pleased to hear that I pretty much immediately leaped upon the number 425 bus and sped off towards Carpool University Hospital to enrol. I wasn’t too sure what I was going to enrol in, but I was determined to enrol in something! (It must surely be possible to leave a lifetime of state benefits and the inhalation of Glu-stik behind me?) I must say that the exterior of the Carpool University Hospital – with its cracked, and smoke-stained, concrete façade – was not exactly uplifting to the spirits. And rising up through the levels on an escalator which only gave views on to closed doors and endless shiny-floored corridors, did also make me feel that colour and humour might also have been excluded. However, as you know, I am not the kind of male likely to be daunted by the promptings of instinct, or the subtlety of a wisdom known only to the unconscious man.

I reached the enrolment department Auntie. Nurse enrolment. And I somehow stated to my female interlocutor that my main sphere of interest – and experience – was in the realm of mental health. I naturally did not mention that it was my own mental health (or lack of it) that rendered me suitable for a placement on a student nursing course. And then it turned out that one cannot start out as a trainee mental health nurse; one has to do the general nursing course first. I feel rather dubious about this Auntie. I have a particular aversion to the sight of blood (and even worse feelings about other, less delectable, body fluids) – so I am not sure how I would fare in the Accident and Emergency, and Intensive Care, departments. However, I filled in the application form – on the spot – and am wondering if you can give me a reference? Please make no mention of that time I spent in the Wortlewell Drug Rehabilitation Clinic and refer only to my (undoubted) worth and good character!

I do hope you are feeling better now Auntie? Are you?

Toodle pip!


The nothingness of the gym . . . (episode 63)

image by 'gameanna'

image by ‘gameanna’

May 10 1999

3A Hyde Park Terrace

Dear Mum

Thank you for your last two missives – especially the last one – which was hilarious! Bunny certainly sounds imaginative . . . And as for the other matter, I don’t think you are the sort of woman ever to get – never mind succumb to – any form of malignancy! How did it all go at the scanning centre anyway?

I myself have been trying to deal with a combination of mental torpor, mental torture, and – indeed – hope.

The torpor has derived from my attempts to use the local gym – euphemistically named ‘Paradise Sweats.’ This private premises charges a quite exorbitant sum for access to its aerobic step machines (with pedals); treadmills, rowing simulators and the like. I have gazed around me, clad in my Hawaiian cotton shorts and black vest, only to see some tens of more competent, not to mention more enthusiastic, individuals pounding away. I just don’t get it Mum. What is the point? There is no end product at the end of it – nothing created at all – only an unending vista of greyness, plastic, and metal. It feels, to me, like the ultimate void. I would infinitely prefer to be seated, as I am now, in the wood and leather surrounds of a Knightsbridge coffee shop – supping upon a cappuccino.

I shouldn’t actually still be calling you ‘Mum,’ Mum. My Decree Absolute came through last week, finally – and utterly – severing my legal connection to your son, Austen. I have not physically seen this unspeakable individual since my return from Cuba (some four months ago). However, I have been in receipt of roughly weekly anonymous telephone calls on a phone so old that virtually no-one else uses it. I think this may be said Austen and, initially, I was quite troubled by them but – as the months go on – I just sigh and wonder at the point . . . I suppose – as someone who likes to have it ‘My Way or No Way’ – he could be irked that I managed to retain ownership of the house (and possession of my money)! Or, indeed, he could be attempting to convey that his sexual congress with the ‘cute stenographer’ is still continuing. But who cares Mum. It is she who is shackled to this albatross and not me! Not me, any more.

I am generally walking about feeling considerably more light of heart than I remember feeling for years. I even have plans to attend a Notting Hill ‘Flower Arrangers’ Club’ and am already accumulating stiff foam bases, jugs, vases, and wire. I am a little diffident about my skills in this arena I must say. Suppose I am only able to mount a fallen little daisy on its mount? And feel unable to choose an appropriate leafy backdrop . . .

Love as ever Mum


Another use for a wheelie bin . . . (episode 62)


May 5 1999

10 Forsythia Grove
Outer Hamlet

My Dear Harriet

I have managed to rally dear – subsequent to a trip to see my chum Bunny Fortescue – out in the sticks at Nether Hoppington. Bunny is a retired gynaecologist, whose acquaintance I first made while undergoing a course of helicopter-flying lessons in my capacity of agent in charge of ‘Field Ops.’

Bunny, most usefully, has instructed me to deploy logic in the interpretation of the legion of physical symptoms described in my last missive. “What you’ve got to realize, Evangeline,” he declaimed, “Is that the human body reacts in a quite logical fashion to the presence of a tumour. And, if we take an ovarian tumour as our example, you can naturally understand that one of the first physical signs (given the presence of a mass) will be visible abdominal bloating. Now, it then makes sense, doesn’t it, that the mass might well press on adjacent digestive organs, causing appetite loss, and on the urinary bladder, causing urinary urgency.”

And do you know Harriet. This does indeed make quite excellent sense. One might even deploy the expletive ‘whoopee’ in response as I, myself, am not exhibiting/experiencing either abdominal bloating or any loss of appetite!

Once we’d got all that out of the way, Bunny settled down into his wheelie bin anecdote. It transpires that, just recently, the adjacent county of Littonshire has embarked upon charging £30.00 per annum for the supply of a garden wheelie bin. And Bunny has two of these if you count the one for his (fairly recently) deceased wife Angela. He told me that he’d paid a visit to the council to check upon his wheelie bin charges and that the clerk had solemnly intoned, “Well, there one for you, Mr Fortescue, and it’s free as you are disabled . . . And there’s also one for your wife Angela, who is also disabled . . . ”

Well dear, at this juncture, I did rather interpose, “Disabled Bunny? Are you?”

And Bunny hurrumphed rather, before informing me that he did have a recently-repaired mitral heart valve. “Luckily,” he said, this repair has not prevented me from tramping miles across the fields every week, to visit Angela’s grave, with a posie.”

I gazed across the table. “And what about the second bin, Bunny, also free of charge?”

“Well that’s just the thing E,” he said. “When the clerk reeled off the statement that Angela is ‘disabled,’ all I could do was confirm that she is, indeed, ‘very disabled.’ Death is, after all, very disabling . . . ”

We cogitated, for some minutes, upon this point. And then he said, “Actually, I have been thinking of taking the wheelie bin over there.”

“Where?” I said.

“The graveyard,” said Bunny. “I thought I might try to satisfy the ‘6-week residency condition’ and bring her home every so often. You know, dig her up and bring her back . . .”

“But isn’t the bin rather too short,” I said. “I seem to remember that Angela was rather a tall woman. Wouldn’t she stick out over the top?”

“Mmm,” said Bunny. “But it’s been nearly a year now, since her death, and she may have got shorter . . .”

“Nevertheless,” I said. “Suppose she hasn’t? It might be better to do all this after dark. And then you would only be heard, and not seen, trundling her back over the cobbles.”

“I thought a winter residency might be best,” said Bunny. “You know, the smell and all that. I think there might be room in the freezer.”

We both stared into space at this point, sipping our gins and visualizing this scene and the lengths one might have to go to, to satisfy the council’s garden wheelie bin eligibility conditions.

Anyway dear. How are you? Have you received your Decree Absolute yet and found some suitable activities with which to occupy your time?

Love, as ever,


Intra-vaginal ultrasound . . . (episode 61)


May 2 1999

10 Forsythia Grove
Outer Hamlet

A slight hiatus Harriet, I’m sorry. I don’t know quite how it has come about.

I have been somewhat engaged in my experience of bladder pain and urgent urination – whilst out gardening – for over a year now. And although human urine is a well-know compost activator, one hardly likes to own up to any form of human weakness in international print!

However, I am now in receipt of an invitation for an ‘intra-vaginal ultrasound’ from No Return District General Hospital. And will have to imminently attend for this experience! It has taken me quite some while dear, to connect with the fact that symptoms of this nature might (as any one of hundreds of hypotheses) be associated with the pressing of an organ upon the urinary bladder. And, naturally, as a fearing thinker of the first order, it has (finally) occurred to me that – in a worst case scenario – ovarian cancer ‘the silent killer’ could be behind the panoply of symptoms that I have been experiencing.

I have been contemplating recently whether – if the worst should come to the worst – I would actually fight for my Life. And, despite some considerable initial hesitation, I do believe I would. I have, after all, a copy of Bernie Siegel’s ‘Love, Medicine, and Miracles’ to hand! I might, after all, be one of Life’s exceptional survivors at odds of 1:10 . . . Also, of course, as one not suffering from appetite loss and abdominal bloating – I might even be experiencing the symptoms of some, far more benign, condition.

It has further occurred to me – as one with an extreme tendency to make a plan – both to consider my style of haircut post radiation/chemo- therapy and also to consider whom I might invite to my funeral bash. These are interesting subjects. Firstly, I would have my head shaved prior to any zapping by X-ray/chemicals (wear one’s scalp in pride) and, secondly, I can think of any number of people (mostly women) resident in Outer Hamlet, whom I would like to attend a creative celebration of my life. My doctor, hairdresser, supermarket checkout operator, massage practitioner, and resident of a house in a local alley, feature amongst these. I feel I would like quotations read from ‘Voss’ (by Patrick White) and from my own poems and also songs sung by artists like Annie Lennox (Eurythmics) and Adele. There is something wonderful about like a song title named ‘No more I Love You’s’ for instance . . .

Anyway, whatever the situation with regard to the above, I have also been deeply engaged with the design of parterres and beds and borders. Just today I have been writing to a garden owner on the subject of Melianthus major (the giant honey flower). Every border, in my opinion, needs a ‘wild card’ for unexpected drama and effect. And there – amidst the roses, veronicas, perennial cornflowers, and foxgloves – might stand a glaucous evergreen with long, red-shooting, flowers.

When one becomes – over many years – a gardener, dear, one gradually moves from a knowledge of the basics to a knowledge of the exotics, alpines, and conifers that transforms one from a basic practitioner into a (virtual) expert. And even, in my own (tiny) plot, I find I am gazing out – through the foliage of a tall silver birch – upon a vista of Potato vine (Solanum crispum); Tamarisk (Tamarix gallica), and the white-tipped leaves of Actinidia kolomikta (relative of the Kiwi fruit).

How fascinating is the creation of beauty Harriet.