Friday, October 27, 2006

One Step at a Time

Since the unique bright and early demonstration of full alertness, on Monday morning, normal service has been all too swiftly resumed. Perhaps, I should really have said “subnormal service”. My bed rest requirement has temporarily escalated to between 10 ½ and 11 ½ hours, frequently followed by an out of bed requirement of a couple of hours, before my state of being complies with any reasonable definition of ‘awake’. There seems to be a vast hinterland between emergence from the duvet realm and entrance into the world of the alert!

My confidence is like a shining star which my physical (and at times emotional) stamina struggles to follow. There is always a hint of dispiritedness as the realization strikes home that, I have to be content to make do with my walking skills before I am able to run once more. At least I manage to take a shower, when I can be bothered, without feeling totally knocked out; I remind myself of such blessings.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The time is out of joint

The thermometer nods and bobs its way around this plant contained area; the curiosity of the pond’s piscine inhabitants is much in evidence. I can imagine the conversation, “I told you it was milder than last year, just look”.

“Wow”, says Junior, “12 centigrade. You mean it’s going to get cooler?”

The elders nod knowingly, “By gum, the bairns got a lot to learn yet! Remember that sheet of stiff water last winter?”

They remembered it all too well! They seem to be taking it in turns, to give a nudge to their new found object of contemplation.

Perhaps they remember that last year, by this time, the human delivered component of their diet had switched to wheatgerm. For the present, they continue to devour the remnants of their summer feed, before they switch to the pure vegetarian option.

So, once more it’s time for me to rinse the filters, as the pump still has a little more work to do this season. Today, the rinsing procedure seems a little more arduous a task; after
yesterdays bright and alert start to the day, the flesh refused to conform with my spirits desire this morning, as I sluggishly emerged (in more traditional fashion) from the duvet realm.

As I sat beside the pond, a robin eyed me inquisitively whilst a thrush foraged through the nearby undergrowth. Even a couple of our summer visitor butterflies were in evidence today; somehow the times are out of joint but, I embrace it as a joy rather than (the Prince of Denmark’s) “wretched spite”.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Taking Stock

Although I would never consider us a particularly prosperous household, economically speaking, it proved quite an eye-opener when Helen did a rapid checklist of items present in our abode. In a world in which a subsistence living is all that vast numbers of people experience, her church had encouraged its members to take stock of all the things we have to give thanks for (“Counting Your Blessings”).

A real surprise came when Helen found that we had 33 Bibles (various versions, translations and reference editions) and even then, I’m not sure whether my beloved had included the Greek New Testaments and the German and French editions. By way of an excuse, for this over-indulgence, I need to point out that my discipline at University was Theology and, Helen had done Biblical Studies, as a supplementary to her German studies; my beloved also uses various versions as she prepares her sermons. On top of that, Helen’s father was an Anglican cleric and I’m a son of the Manse so, I feel sure that some of these volumes were inherited!

Other vital items to be counted included the number of water taps in the house, the number of clocks (ours came to 6, excluding radio alarms), number of pets, number of TV sets, and even plants in the house. On the stock list there were also questions about whether you had eaten eggs, meat etc today, as well as questions about whether you had attended a local hospital for treatment and, how many items of mail were delivered in your most recent postal delivery. As you can see, the stock list was far ranging, not simply taking account of material possessions but, also those services which we take for granted. For each item listed there is a suggested donation we should make, via our collecting box, for a Craft Workshop in Tanzania, established by our friend Susie who is out there with her vet husband, Andy, and their young daughters.

Donations were also suggested for how many drinks one has had in the day, how many times the washing machine has been used in the past week etc. I found it a tremendous reminder of all the things we, in the developed world, so nonchalantly accept as part of our birthright.

Of course, the greatest blessings of all are love, friendship, and compassion; items which cannot be quantified nor, I suspect would we really be able to raise an appropriate donation (albeit only a token) to give thanks for such amazing grace.

I rejoice and give thanks in this day the Lord has made!


Yesterday's blog posting "Familiarity is the Spice of Life" can be found on 'Mal's Murmurings'. A brand new poem "Embrace" has been posted on 'Mal's Factory'.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Adapting To Change

Wednesday bore witness to a new arrival Chez Malcolm, an event recorded on Mal’s Murmurings. Beth, my elder step-daughter sought a new home for her aquarium, and its current sole occupant, a goldfish who I christened Jimmy. It seemed rather late in the year to introduce him to the pond, where he would have found immediate companionship whilst, at the same time he seemed to have far too much energy, and corresponding appetite, to allow him to share accommodation with our White Cloud minnows. I had a strong suspicion that Jimmy would have found the smaller of the minnows an adequate fresh snack for his elevenses.

Having cleaned out and replanted Beth’s aquarium, the only available space for it was in the kitchen. I can assure you that I have no intention of letting him witness my char-grilling of larger species of fish, a not infrequent event on this chef’s agenda. Hopefully his sensibilities are not too delicate!

Having noticed how lonely Jimmy seemed, I forced myself to arise from duvet-dom at an exceptionally early hour this morning, for a quick visit with my beloved to the pet shop where I acquired Fran, a gold and black fantail, to be his companion. Unlike our main aquarium, equipped with mechanical-chemical, biological and additional filtration and aeration provision, the new (second-hand) one has only an aeration unit so additional water changes will be required.

I have improvised a bio-foam filter, topped up with some live bacteria, and will be regularly monitoring the water quality until I’ve worked out an appropriate water-change regime. I feel sure that the pleasure received, from observing our new inhabitants, will far outweigh the toll of this additional chore.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Repairing The Connection

Around 5.00PM the telephone rings once more; I like to think that the earlier caller heard my angry tirade (which was the intention) whilst my better half spoke to them and, lo and behold, it is Hotpoint calling once more. “The engineer will be back at work tomorrow, Thursday. Would you like him to call in the morning?” Unfortunately, as that could be any time from 8.00AM, I would hate to have my necessary bed-rest interrupted so, we settled for the previously arranged time of Friday afternoon! The call ended with an apology for “messing us about”. For the apology I am grateful.

I cannot take back what I said in the previous posting as, the sceptical side of me sees that they were just b…erring us about; it seems strange that the sole (formerly pronounced ‘sick’) duty engineer could fit us in as soon as tomorrow morning; what about those customers who’ve been missed out during his spell of sickness?

Yes, I do think that my angry background tirade was probably taken onboard!

Hotpoint Despair Connection Plan

It seems to me that one of the most foolish things these persons, ma belle et moi, have ever done was to take out insurance (Hotpoint Repair Protection Plan) on a HOTPOINT washing machine. Our machine needed a new thermostat within the first year, which should have been warning enough, whilst still under guarantee. A few weeks ago, having paid a few annual insurance premiums, currently in excess of £85 per annum, the tumble dryer stopped working. When we were eventually able to arrange an engineer's visit, he discovered that the cause was a broken control knob; he transferred the knob from the spin cycle control to the tumble dryer and, meanwhile placed an order for new knobs.

Next wash day, the wash cycle failed to work properly and, all the clothes came out wringing wet. We informed the company of this new development, so that the engineer, due to visit us this Friday to replace the control knobs, would be aware that he would also have to sort out the wash cycle.

This afternoon we had a ‘phone call from the company to postpone the engineer’s visit until Monday. The reason given was that the engineer was "off sick". When we asked if they only had the one engineer, they stated that the other two were on holiday.

So, we have a company, that charges extortionately to provide a repair service, permitting two-thirds of its workforce to take their holidays at the same time; it seems obvious, to me, that two-fingers to the customer is their modus-operandi. In the meantime, as a result of the engineer’s temporary repair, we are without a usable washing machine, worse off than before the repair.

The sooner a company like this goes under, I will be happy to waste my scarce energy/stamina reserves in a celebratory dance.

Thank-you HOTPOINT for your utterly crap customer service!

Monday, October 16, 2006

It's all go the merry go-round

As I read of the imminent trials and tribulations confronting my friends, The Oxcliffe Foxes (The Oxcliffe Fox and The Oxcliffe Vixen), in terms of decorators, carpet fitters and sundry other such ills, my heart goes out to them.

A slow saunter around the house reminds me, or at least freshens up a nagging irritation, that we still have decorating that needs to be done consequent upon the new damp course (2 ½ years ago) and the new bathroom (almost 1 year ago). All this time on, I’m still not ready to cope with the disruption involved. The very thought of it sends a crushing shudder through my bodily and mental framework.

“One of these days”, I tell myself, “this will be done”. As long as the prospect is remote, I can cope reasonably well; any serious consideration of the matter gives rise to a serious setback.


In terms of physical and emotional well-being, I’m still unable to remove myself from the roller-coaster ride. Having approached the weekend in good spirits, last evening brought a sudden emotional and physical collapse in its wake; a sense of utter helplessness, as aches and discomforts disported themselves from acutely pained elbows and knees, via wrists and ankles to the extremities of all limbs.

After twelve hours ensnared in the duvet realm and, a gently laborious transition into my day clothes, I once more smilingly greet this day the Lord has made.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Spin Cycle

It’s absolutely amazing; a band of thermal fabric, strapped across the shoulders, has taken away about 80% of the aches and pains I’d been experiencing in the upper limbs. Presumably, the cause of these sundry shooting pains stemmed from the neck and, this little bit of support is assisting my general deportment.

I finally seem to be emerging from what seemed like a permanent state of fatigue, that has haunted me ever since enjoying a couple of days out in early September, and even the tenderness around the glands, in my neck and armpits, is temporarily in abeyance. During this time, ‘pacing’ has proved a darn site easier as, I was totally lacking the stamina to even contemplate anything remotely resembling over-exertion. It’s quite strange really that the body never gives an immediate warning, that one is overstretching their resources; the results of the exertion frequently manifest themselves in the ensuing 48 hours plus.

For the time being, I’m reasonably content to appear to the world as a lazy b****r because, I know better! For much of my life it seemed as if the world would stop revolving if I slowed down; this generally underpaid wage-slave continued to overwork, (that old protestant work ethic), for far too long and, simultaneously, managed to play reasonably hard (at times too fast and furiously for my own good) as well.

Come to think of it, at times my play was far more serious than any work but, I still managed to ride both in tandem with only a few crashes along the way. So far, the world hasn’t stopped spinning, even though I’ve stopped pedalling!


A further posting for today, Counting Blessings, can be be found on 'Mal's Murmurings'

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Those Old Grey and Green Blues

On this grey mizzle-laden day, an historic event occurred. For all my concerns about global warming, this morning I had to hunt down a box of matches to ignite the gas fire in our sitting room. It could be that my early lurching from the duvet lair has played havoc with my body thermostat, or possibly it really is getting seasonably cooler. I’ve forgotten when it last was that I needed to light the fire.

Having just ventured up to the garden pond, to feed the goldfish, the outside temperature seemed to exceed that within our dwelling place. As yet, I’ve not even had to contemplate switching the fishes food down to the lower temperature one but, I feel like I could manage some good old-fashioned stodgy winter warming food. Unfortunately, that type of food isn’t on this master chef’s menu but, oh the temptation!

Earlier in the year, the leaves seemed to be turning brown, and dying off, at the height of summer. Now that we are seriously into autumn, the pace of leaves changing colour, and dispersing with the wind, seems to have slowed down. Perhaps, with August never attaining the giddy temperatures reached in July, alongside a plentiful supply of rain, the prospect of an early leaf-fall has been transformed into its obverse.

The lawn now looks the most lush it has been all year, sadly requiring yet further cuts before the season’s end. Meanwhile, the longer meadow grasses, at the far end of the garden, are looking rather bedraggled and forlorn.

Monday, October 09, 2006

For the sake of fairness

Just an update on the previous posting. First thing this morning I received a response from and, the Media Centre edition of the notebook is now advertised on their website at the price stated in the e-mail flyer. I'm not going to let the fact that, under 'specifications', the description is still quite airy and states XP Home edition affect any decision I may come to as to its desirability!

Thanks to Dabs for a reasonably swift response.


PS 10.40pm Today's main blog posting, "There and back ..." appears on Hirsute Antiquity

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Give and Take

Not so long ago, I was privileged to be able to report positively on a large commercial concern; today, I return to the normal tetchy relation between Sinna Luvva and commerce. I post here an e-mail, submitted to the customer support team this afternoon via website. The automated response has allocated it the subject title of 'Catalogue price difference' which, bearing in mind the final paragraph (not highlighted in original e-mail) of my e-mail, serves only to irritate me further!

"HP Pavilion Media Center dv9088ea notebook
On your promotional e-mail, (rec'd. 6/10/2006 at 11.21PM), with free delivery on items over a certain value (£149) for this weekend, you advertised the HP Pavilion Media Center dv9088ea notebook at a price of £1149.99.

On following the links to your website, all the details refer to the XP Home edition for the higher price of £1217.99. Apart from assuming that this edition wouldn't have a digital TV tuner, I have no idea of discovering whether it even has the same graphic card as the advertised one, an overall package which was tempting to me - (in fact I was on the verge of making an impulse buy prior to noticing this discrepancy - I have previously been considering buying a replacement desktop PC of similar specifications).

Would it be possible to ensure the existence of items, at the prices advertised on your e-mail flyer, before mailing them out? I have noticed your disclaimer about discrepancy between 'Catalogue' prices and website but I would have thought that your most recent e-mail flyer wouldn't be subject to such discrepancies!"

e-mail to customer support team at

I look forward to the company's response and, may even feel motivated to supply a follow-up blog posting.

Having had my little moan, it's only fair to report that my previous transactions with have been most satisfactory experiences; so here I am giving back with one hand what the other has just taken away!


PS A further posting for today, "Of Discourse and Distraction", can be found on Hirsute Antiquity.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Ghastly Shade of Pale

After a lazy start to the day, the only tasks I had to perform before lunch were to pop the curry into the oven to simmer before preparing the accompanying rice with lavishings of turmeric, garlic, garam masala and the odd dried herb. As Helen had a meeting following on from the morning service at Wesley, it meant that the meal was almost ready, to put out on the table, by the time she arrived home.

The Madras variant curry proved a great success, an ideal combination of heat and flavour with a subtle underlying sweetness. The combination of spices, intuitively selected and proportioned, that I heated up on the griddle pan at the start of preparations yesterday afternoon, certainly worked their magic. The culinary gods certainly had smiled on me once more – and through it all I remained my usual modest self.

During the afternoon, we decided to catch up on a couple of TV programmes we’d recently recorded but, midway through our little viewing session, I was overwhelmed by the most discomforting fatiguing sensation. From feeling OK to a state of utter debilitation, in the course of a few minutes, is an extremely scary experience. Unusually for me, with my failing body thermostat generally leading to chronic overheating, I had to wrap myself in a warm blanket whilst lying down. The worst of the sensation had passed within forty minutes but, as this was the most rapid onset state of exhaustion experienced recently, it still proved a most disconcerting event. I felt as if every last bit of colour had been bleached out of my complexion, a feeling later confirmed to have been correct from my wife’s eyewitness perspective.

For some strange reason, I found myself apologizing to Helen for my turning such a ghastly shade of pale; I really should exercise a little more self-control! All I can do for the present is take it easy but, I’d assumed that was my total lifestyle!

Setbacks apart, I am still able to rejoice in this day the Lord has made and, especially the pleasure of my beloved’s presence. I really must be one of the most fortunate people in the world, to be loved and able to love in return; I have little need for more.


This posting is a sequel to Spacious Time, which was posted yesterday on 'Mal's Murmurings'.