Showing posts from October, 2009

Why the correct intonation is vital

So, there I am, sitting on the edge of my hospital bed, waiting for someone to write me a letter discharging me home, and a junior doctor appears. He says, sounding a bit bored, 'It was your left ovary we were meant to remove, wasn't it?' He puts no particular intonation into this, so it's all up to my imagination. Does he mean this ...? 'We're hoping it was your ovary we took, but it could have been your heart. One of the lights in the theatre is a bit dodgy. How are you feeling?' Or this ...? 'We've just found something lying on the shelf that looks very much like a right ovary. We're hoping not. Shoving them back in isn't half so easy as chopping them out. That's Sewing Skills Advanced Level 3 and I've only got Level 1.' Or this ...? 'In actual fact, we took every single one of your inner organs away except for the left ovary. Your sudden and miraculous weight loss is not because you resisted the shortbread. It will a

How-to guide: surviving a night in hospital

1. If a nurse accompanies you down to the theatre and then, finding that the surgeons aren't quite ready for you yet, taps her fingers on the side of your bed, saying, 'come on, come on, anaesthetist, I've got things to do' and 'I wish there was a chair in here; at least I could have a sit-down', try to excrete something from an orifice - any orifice - and say, 'I hated to see you just standing there bored'. 2. If, after your operation, you are wheeled into a ward in which there is an old lady shouting, 'Mother! Mother! Stop your dressmaking! Where's my dinner? BRING ME MY DINNER! Where's my red tray? BRING ME MY RED TRAY! Clive, stop that! Stop your dressmaking! The police are coming! That red tray was the first tray I ever had!', ask the person wheeling your bed along to make a rapid turn to the right and leave you in the corridor. Should you not do so, you will find that a whole night of this does not a peaceful post-op recovery make

It may strike you that, like others do, I haiku too

Three haiku based on the Creation story. What happened the morning Adam realised a) it wasn't only forestry he was expected to do in his spare time; b) he really should have read the 'Unexpected Arrivals' section of the training manual; c) the conversational style he had developed with the elephants would not suit all situations He wakes to find Eve Thinks this is new ground for him Fumbles for chat-up line An incident which happened in the days when the creation/evolution debate hadn't quite got started and no one had quite got the hang of it all Puzzled monkey says: "You've come too early, Man. I am still changing." God demonstrates some of the very first culinary skills with a very exciting set of ingredients Hand strokes Earth's raw crust Reunites a crack with milky fingers Crimps a mountain range

Another fairy tale dripped from My pen

I'm in fairy tale mode again. Here goes. Once upon a time, there were three little pigs: in fact, triplet piglets - hard to say, but true. Their names were Henry, Andrew and Mark, which was nothing if not unfortunate, as their initials put together spelt HAM. Those familiar with the usually triumphant ending of this benign fairy tale in which three little piggies win over a nasty wolf will see nothing sinister in this and, indeed, if this were the usual version of the tale, there would be nothing sinister in it. But it's not. So get ready for death and destruction to little piggies, kiddos, and sleep well tonight ... if you CAN. Neighbours gossipped together about whether or not to point out the HAM thing to Mr and Mrs Pig when they brought the triplet piglets home, but in the end it was decided that the wisest course was to keep schtum. This was influenced not a little by the fact that Mr Pig was the size of a small continent and the British weight-lifting champion in t

Why getting hit with a dictionary isn't always a bad thing

I got hit on the head by a teacher when I was fourteen with a very heavy dictionary. I think this has been responsible for two things: a) not growing any taller than 5 foot 2 inches since that date; b) loving words and becoming an English teacher/writer/teacher/writer/teacher/writer/it all depends on how the day has gone as to which label I prefer. He had reason, though. I'd just sent his wife two-dozen roses. My friend Catherine and I had decided to bunk off school. We hid round the corner until the school bus had disappeared (sans us) and then raced back to her house. Her mum and dad had gone to work, so we made a stack of toast and jam which we ate with giant mugs of hot chocolate, and then we sat with our feet up on the coffee table, feeling brave and bad and excited about the exciting day ahead in which we'd do all kinds of exciting things and have exciting conversations and be excited. And there we sat. And we sat some more. And we made more hot chocolate.

Why I am watching my kitchen appliances more carefully these days

Our new washing machine doesn't like us. It wants to break free and go back to its old home in the washing machine shop. It's staging a mutiny in that every time we use it, it rattles and shakes and shifts around so much that it makes its way out of its little space under the worktop and plants itself in the middle of the kitchen so that I can't get past it. The other morning, I found it slap-bang in the middle of the floor. I put a big notice on it for my husband to find when he came downstairs later, after I'd left for work: DISCONTENTED WASHING MACHINE MAKES FRANTIC BID FOR FREEDOM IN WARWICKSHIRE DOMESTIC SHOCK HORROR Then, the day after this, my husband decided to defrost the freezer. The freezer is under the worktop on the other side of the kitchen from the washing machine. He pulled it out to defrost it, and now it won't go back under the worktop as far as it did before - it's sticking out at least another couple of centimetres. We just can't wo