Miscellany and detritus, from the writer of Is This Mutton?com

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Garden in Spring

Finally! Spring has arrived and the bulbs are bursting into life, a vivid crescendo of colour.

I'm always slightly surprised by the different colours of my tulips, even though I buy new ones in a set colour scheme every year. Old ones linger  (I plant them in the border) and so there is every colour imaginable, but somehow for spring this is right.

This year I planted muscari and snake's head fritillary for the first time. Very pleased with both. "Must get more" is the memo to self.

The front border is heavy with the scent of hyacinths, blue, cream and white. There seem to be a lot more than I originally planted so they must be naturalising. How generous is nature's bounty!



Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Tortured by crewel past

Here's one I made earlier
I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode last night of "The Great British Sewing Bee," even though I ran the risk of being traumatised by watching it. 

The reminder of "bias binding" and "A line skirt" took me back to school and never-forgotten humiliations.

Mum and I cannot sew. For us, velcro is a godsend, as is the dry cleaner's that hems trousers.

My humiliations started aged around nine.

The girls had been given a piece of "Binker", that holey cream stuff that you embroider. Mrs Thompson, the spiteful teacher, held mine up in front of the class saying "The boys could have done better."

It got worse at the big school. We were expected to run up little aprons during the summer holidays edged with bias binding in the colour of our school house.

Bias Binding

Armed with the Crewels and Sharps which had been on the domestic science shopping list, I attempted this. But in the end my friend Shonagh had to step in and finish the job. There was a big difference between her stitches and mine.

Double domestic science lessons were an utter nightmare. Our school had lavishly equipped "labs" and cookery with Mrs Johnson was fine. However, sewing with Miss Coleman was not.

After I repeatedly failed to thread the needle of the darned Husqvarna sewing machine, she told the class I must have a turnip on my shoulders instead of a head with a brain.

Another time, I was summoned to see her during a break to show her the A line skirt I had been struggling with for over a year.   She made me model it, whereupon the sixth form girls who were there for the next lesson all started sniggering.

Reader, I never wore that skirt.

Cow Handling a Musket

It was perhaps even worse for my mum because her mother was an expert needlewoman and made her wedding dress, having to go "off pattern" because the Elizabethan style stand-up collar wasn't standing up.

Mum hated it when she was expected to produce a fancy dress outfit. I was bemused to be sent to a party as a "flower girl" wearing a normal dress and a headdress with a few flowers stuck on with glue. Daleks and Oliver Twists kept asking me what I was.

The instruction to make a PE bag resulted in a pillowcase that had an elastic drawstring at the top.  When the plimsolls were inserted, the bag gently stretched from the peg to rest on the floor.

At least mum was good at knitting. I was memorably described as "a cow handling a musket" by Grandma when I tried to take up the hobby.

I have nothing but admiration for people who can take those utterly incomprehensible patterns and turn them into something fantastic. It would be terrific to make my own clothes.

But it's never going to happen, and the nearest I get to needles nowadays is creating the birthday card above.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Beckhams: Get Over Yourselves!

We hear that the fine monument to modern taste, Beckingham Palace, occasional home of David and Victoria Beckham, is up for sale. But not for sale to just anybody. They don't want to sell to a developer  (even though they bought the mansion, real name Rowneybury House, from a developer. It had previously been a council children's home).

They want to sell it to a family who will "continue what we started."

I would imagine that any family with enough money to move into Beckingham Palace will probably want to impose their own taste on the gaff. They may well gut it and install subterranean underground basements (seems all the rage among the Saatchi / Lawson set in London).

I doubt if they will leave it as it is, a gleaming paean to the taste of former Leyton boy David and his wife, the former Spice Girl - one of our tackiest pop bands.

Perhaps there is a subliminal message as well that they don't have to rush into a quick sale. They can take their time to find the "right" buyer.

Really, the phrase that came to mind when I read about their plans was "Get over yourselves!"


Monday, April 01, 2013


The one picture I took!
I hope you're all enjoying the Easter break. Shame about the horrendously cold weather which has no doubt put paid to a lot of plans for cycle rides, trips, gardening.

I did something different yesterday - I went to St Paul's Cathedral. I've never actually been inside the building. So at 9.40 I found myself among an excited throng of tourists, clamouring to be admitted for the 10.15 service.

I am a great admirer of ecclesiastical architecture.  Cathedrals in particular. St Paul's is amazing. Awe inspiring. So beautiful.  Add the soaring voices of the choir and the dignity and spectacle of the service, and you start to feel sorry for aetheists and their somewhat holier than thou  (ironically) attitudes, which have been all too prevalent on Twitter lately.

It would be a great pity in my eyes if we did become entirely secular in the UK.  Christians are already becoming marginalised thanks to some of the bonkers councils and organisations like the Red Cross, who think that usig "Christmas" as a word offends other religions.  Complete rubbish, because in a highly tolerant place like the UK, we see nothing wrong in taking joy from each other's tradiditions.

The one great thing that ALL religions bring is the setting of standards. A framework for decent living. You may be a Buddhist or a Protestant but having beliefs means you aspire to being the best you can be. Loving your neighbour and so on. Seculurisation has cost us dearly in the last few decades. It's every man for himself. People just don't care about anyone but themselves.  We saw this just now when a car driver selfishly pulled out in front of the lovely little family on bikes.

Determined efforts are made to commercialise Easter but it remains a time for contemplation and new beginnings.

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