Evidence that Fran is still around

What? She still exists? Where has she been, then? On a bus all this time? Those of you kind enough to care may have noticed that my last post on this blog was August 2022. I was busy editing my new novel 'Cuckoo in the Nest' and things drifted in terms of regular blogging. Before I knew it, I had cancelled myself.  But ... RESURRECTION! I have re-appeared on Substack which allows people to blog but also has lots of other features akin to social media only less toxic (so far).  If you'd like to keep receiving the same kind of material I was posting regularly on here, please do come along and subscribe.  Go  right here right now before you forget  to subscribe for free via email.  In the meantime, my archive of Blogger posts is still here and will remain for eternity if the rumours are true about the internet. So, you have plenty of time to catch up should you wish.  Otherwise, see you on Substack! 

Evidence that Fran is looking forward to winter

I'm writing a short story called 'Heat'. I haven't finished it yet because I can't decide how it ends but it's about a couple in conflict and begins, 'They say domestic wrangles are usually about sex or money but whoever they are has overlooked thermostats.'  The story features two people who marry and move in with each other, never having shared a house with a partner before. They are about to find out that there are 'three of them in this marriage': the woman, the man, and a little white dial fixed to the kitchen wall. It's categorically   not based on personal experience  the story of my whole life.  It's summer now, though, which is a welcome break from the thermostat friction between me and my spouse. Instead, we replace it with light-hearted talk   bitter confrontations about whether drawing all the curtains in the house, locking every window tight and sitting as silent and still as death in the eerie darkness really does keep you

(More) evidence that Fran's performance in the kitchen has been inconsistent

'What are you cooking for dinner?' my daughter asked on the phone one evening last week.  'Mince,' I said.  'Savoury mince?' she said.  'Don't call it savoury mince,' I said. 'That makes it sound like something that you'd serve in an old people's home, or perhaps feed to a dog.' Awkward pause, then she said,  'You called it savoury mince all through my childhood.'  'I did?'  I nearly asked, 'And was it? Savoury?' But I dared not, because when my husband and I look back we realise that we subjected our three children to a wide range of poor cuisine as they grew up.  We overcooked meat, leaving roast chickens in the oven for hours until they'd have made credible weapons for hand to hand combat.  We overcooked fish, wrapping it in foil and baking it for so long that all moistness fled for its life and the white fish turned grey as though in despair at what had happened to it.  We overcooked vegetables so that

Reasons why Fran isn't applying to appear on The Great British Bake-Off

When the grandchildren came round last week, we made Welsh cakes.  Two years ago, we made them on holiday in Wales and they were so delicious that the children requested this repeat performance.  Unfortunately, the aspect of the performance that did not get repeated was that, in Wales, I didn't transform the cakes into slabs of inedible charcoal by frying them in a cheap, thin-bottomed pan.  Nevertheless, the children tried to be optimistic as, one by one, I lifted the burnt cakes from the pan with a fish slice and layered them like pieces of soot-black roof tiles on a blue flowered plate. The plate looked highly offended, being more designed for delicate cup cakes than a pile of incinerated carbohydrate.  When the Welsh cakes had cooled (and hardened even more) we tried them. 'They're nice, Grandma,' the children said, biting into them gallantly but with true alarm in their wide eyes like those facing a zombie invasion or firing squad.   The only consolation is that ap

Evidence of Fran's near-death experience

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)

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

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