Posts

Evidence of Fran's near-death experience

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It's Saturday evening as I write. This time last week my body still comprised one-fifth woman and four-fifths pudding. I was so stiff with starch that I couldn't bend at the waist to take off my socks at bedtime. I felt as though all my internal organs had been re-upholstered.   Despite all this, non, je ne regrette rien.  I had gone with two friends to The Pudding Club. It was their 60th birthday treat to me and - well - what an experience!  I'm aiming to go again on my 70th, 80th, 90th and 100th or should I ever tire of life as it could do what Dignitas does but with added custard.    Have you heard of the Pudding Club? It was started by people who felt that the traditional British pudding should be saved from extinction and celebrated. Because of this, the evening is full of ceremony and ritual as guests make their way through seven puddings, all paraded in regally, applauded and cheered.  Seven puddings? Yes, you heard correctly.  Puddings are in the news. There's a

Evidence that a 60th birthday has Fran musing on change (and decay)

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I am forty fifty  oh-all-right-then sixty today.  'You're entering your seventh decade,' my (younger) sister wrote in my card, because that's what sisters are for: to cheer and encourage you.  Some things belie your age, though, don't they, however hard you cling to your youth? The down-turn of the mouth; the crows-size-11-feet around the eyes; the appearance of elasticated trousers in the wardrobe due to the baffling disappearance of what used to be your waist but now appears to be spare cookie dough.  Where do waists go? Are they with all the lost socks? I found something else which illustrated the passing of time recently. Our holiday list.  I was packing for a mini-break with a friend: the first time I've been away for aeons.  'Where's the holiday list?' I asked my husband.  'What's a holiday?' he said, glumly. (Imagine Eeyore just after he's stubbed his toe.) Over the last 40 years, we've compiled a list so that our family di

Evidence that Fran may have learned to identify a sparrow at last

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Here's a poem about nature that I wrote this morning although my observations were made from the warmth and safety of the indoors as regular followers will not be surprised to hear.  A morning in March   The neighbour has frisbeed stale slices of bread across his scraggy lawn beneath the apple tree, its branches winter-bare save forgotten Christmas lights. But the birds can take incongruity with more grace than I do.   First come the pigeons, plunging in like gossips to a whispered conversation. One triumphs away a whole slice which hangs uncertain from its beak, wondering if it will survive the journey.   The sparrows arrive next, flitting up down up down as though on the end of a conductor’s baton. They peck-kiss at the slices, checking left and right for rivals, then dart upwards as though caught thieving.   Last, a robin, a lone actor. It observes from a branch until the sparrows have flecked away, then hops to the middle of a sli

Reasons why you might find Fran eating with her eyes shut

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I don't know about you, but I'm not keen on unnaturally-coloured food. My gardener husband is always experimenting with new varieties such as purple carrots or white strawberries and I make a big fuss. I want my carrots orange and my strawberries red or not at all, thanks.  Likewise, if he puts beetroot into a dish and it dyes everything crimson or bleeds onto the plate, I lose my appetite, having anticipated dinner, not a Tarantino production. For me, beetroot has to be kept in a dish of its own at a safe two metre distance and wearing full PPE. I could only eat this while wearing a blindfold   'I've cooked you some tuna with mash and veg,' my husband said earlier this evening when I emerged from the front room having tutored three students in a row. I was ready for dinner.  I went into the kitchen.  'Where is it?' I said. 'On the plate,' he said. 'Where you're looking.' All I could see was a flat slab of what looked the colour of putty.

Reasons I now want to be called the Franfluencer

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Apparently, a 'binfluencer' is that person in your street who puts out their rubbish and recycling first, leading to a rush of activity as all the neighbours follow suit. That must mean that a chinfluencer starts facial hair fashions, a ginfluencer leads others in trying new alcoholic flavours and a drive-in-fluencer is that chap at the head of the traffic queue at McDonald's.  Let's not stop there. (I am ignoring you at the back, shouting, 'Yes, let's!')  Is a pigeon-fluencer a bird which struts ahead of the flock in the search for crumbs?  Does a Boleyn-fluencer lead the campaign for posthumous justice for beheaded second wives?  Are enough break-in-fluencers convicted?  Do rolling-pin-fluencers hate everyone who uses ready-prepared pastry?  Do has-been-fluencers jolly middle-aged B-list celebrities along?   Do puffin-fluencers try to persuade other bird species to paint their beaks in bright colours? I mean, who's going to ignore him?   Is a therein-f

Reasons why Fran might be avoiding you

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I met someone new at church the other day. 'Tell me your name,' she said, 'although I'm bound to forget it by next week.'  'Tell me yours,' I said, 'but, ditto.'  We exchanged names in the same way people exchange business cards, knowing that their loss is inevitable and that they will be found, years later, down the gap between the sofa cushions or in the pocket of a jacket that needs dry cleaning.  'There are people who've been coming here for years,' my new friend said, 'and I forgot their name early on. Now it's too embarrassing to ask.' 'Or to check whether they are a Nick or a Mick, or a Jean or a Joan.' 'If I even got that far,' she said.  'We should have a Church Amnesty Day for forgotten names,' I said, 'as they do with weapons or stolen goods or those library books you've had since 1974.' We agreed that this was a good idea. On Namenesty Day, it would be perfectly okay to admit, &#

Evidence that Fran pays more attention to trees than she used to

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My week in photographs. Enjoy!  1. This is the view from my bedroom window. Our house overlooks a Victorian graveyard (or 'gravy yard' as my granddaughter dubbed it and as we now call it). How about this for illustrating the difference between evergreen and deciduous? I can't help thinking that the bright orange one looks smug and flaunty as though it knows it's more interesting than its green neighbour. All we need, though, is a windy day, and the smugness will be wiped from its face as it shivers, embarrassed by its nakedness, while the green tree revels in its warm coat.  2. This is Guys Cliffe House, an ancient ruin which I pass on my daily walk. 'Hello, ancient ruin!' I call to it and back comes the echo 'Hello, ancient ruin!' Rude! Thirteen years ago, when we were exploring the Warwick area with a view to moving here and renting a house, I took a similar picture and sent it to all my friends, saying something like, 'It might need an update but