Silver Tongued Foxes, Never be Your Age, and Taciturn On or Off???

One of my missions in life is to stop the Sainted One being his age. The saying one has heard so often applied to teenagers is “be your age”. That of course is bad advice, nobody wants to be their age, whatever it is when you think about it, and as one of the great sages said “youth is waste d on the young”. Anyway the Sainted One  got going on one of his daring do stories at lunch here  with more of my relatives, and of course they had not heard this one before whereas , me, well I have heard it  many times, but it has changed dramatically over the last thirty years. It is to do with piloting an aircraft, at one stage it had a bit more going for it, because there was mention of flying a spare kidney in a small plane over the Alps in a snow storm. The kidney bit, seems to have got lost in the realms of time, because some rather unkind person asked if there was bacon with it? But yesterday they all listened in rapt attention, and as it has changed quite a lot and there is a new element introduced, I was actually listening to see what the latest version would be ,  I was not paying attention to the table and found myself putting salt and pepper on my cousins plate for him, and was about to start cutting up his meat. Everybody was very polite about it and laughed, but I am not sure it is a good sign. I then began to relate how the S O and Moi first met and his suave chat up line, and one of the more outspoken relatives commented that the Sainted One was a “silver tongued fox”.

Foxes are cunning and sly, and I like them actually, because they are good house keepers and they cut off chickens heads, and plan to come back for them later because in they are stocking up their larders. I often think about this when I am filling up my freeze with frozen chicken portions. For this reason I refrain from lecturing Sandy the patriarch fox at the end of our garden logically he would say that there is no difference. Actually Sandy is a taciturn sort of fellow, but he get what he wants. I don’t expect he is very chatty at home with the vixens. But I have seen him putting on one hell of a great show when the moon is full. This does in fact put me in mind of the S O who is silent a lot and complained again that he did not appreciate the snarky way I lug the washing down the five flights of stairs on a Monday, and suggested a bright helpful manner would be more fitting,  as you can imagine this  went down like a lead balloon. Now you understand why I talk to myself and to all the people who come here to eat, and my very agreeable dogs.

Now I often wonder if this taciturn thing is actually a turn off, or a turn on. It is probably better than some inane domestic chatter. So yes lets go for “Taciturnon” . More on the subject of long time married people, it’s time to put yourself in a care home if you start talking about “WE” all the time like some conjoined twin. I could not possibly do that . I take exception to someone knowing what I am doing all day and as for somebody answering for me with the “we think” thing , no chance. The S O never knows what I am thinking which is just as well.

There are A levels going on here, and the boy is working his, you know what, off. He should be a great success in life, and if he does well later on and becomes rich, he had promised me lunch at the Ritz. The pastoral care begins in the fridge and the creation of comfort food. Tricky because I am on a diet. But I have learned to eat little bits and slowly. Not my thing actually, because restraint is not really a virtue in my opinion, but quality makes for restraint, it is not quantity that counts. I have just eaten a dressed crab in the garden shed. Sandy knows but he also knows when to keep stum.

Serendipity Grace and Visitors.

I bet you all encounter serendipity all the time and don’t see it staring you in the face. How about this one? Today I surfaced and spoke to my publishers , because I am writing a book called Summers Grace , what I hope will be the third of a trilogy for the wondrous Quartet. I spoke for the first time to their very savvy newish publicist, and of course she is called Grace. Not only that, she turns out to be best buddies with my eldest granddaughter. She and I are going to get along!!!!! More on this, as they say watch this space. It’s great to love your publishers , not many people do; I once heard a publisher declaim in a tired sort of voice , “Its Ok being a publishers if it wasn’t for the authors”.

Now about these visitors, firstly , I thought yesterday that the breakfast granola was unusually gritty and that the sesame seeds looked rather dark. On closer inspection I discovered a flourishing mouse new town complete with schools, health care, hospitals catering outlets, and four star accommodation. I feel awful about this but Tom the mouse man is coming on Friday. The other news is that a number of NEW ODD SOCKS have come to live here. They must have moved in over the weekend when we were away. Of course there is always a history and maybe a happy ending for an odd sock. I have laid them out in rows on the kitchen table.

Then there is the cousin reunion which is happening again at the end of May. The Texans, the Italians and others from far-flung places; these remarkable people all come from the same grandparents, they have all done astonishing things because of primogenitor. Their grandparents were chucked out of the nest, mine too of course, which is why we have all these fabulous interesting cousins. I had lunch with one of them yesterday and his story began in Canada, but he seems to have harnessed all his talents and is raising a dazzling family as regular Brits.

By and large these plans are under close censorship and I know you will all be very discrete, the Sainted One gets twitchy about all this, I have only told him about the ones who live in Steyning, who are coming to lunch on Sunday. We will talk about our grandma a lot and her sausage dog Jimmy. I always felt this dog was rather underappreciated by us, I see it all differently now of course because I am trying to be tolerant in all things …… no I am not actually. I don’t want to be one of those Mrs Mouse Saint Women who wear old clothes and look neat ….. and always knows best and is referred to as “the salt of the earth” . No chance actually.

Love Is All it Takes, is That Really True???

Actually no, it takes a bit more than that. A bit of money and a fabulous faded villa on the Italian Riviera, Oh and I forgot to mention Piers Brosnan. Eat your heart out Hugh Jackman, Piers Brosnan is every middle aged woman’s dream, and he has great hair, I wonder if he gets his suits at Hacketts? Today has been a challenging day and many a tear has been shed quietly, and there have been some things which unexpectedly showed a great deal of love and kindness; I am told it is OK to be sad. Of course that is true, it is the beginning of wisdom, but even so, thank you to the Danish genius who made that lovely film we have just seen “Love Is All It takes”. It quite lifted my mood, but we got home from the cinema feeling very happy except they are economising on the heating, banking on all the ladies being warmed by the simmering looks in Mr Brosnan’s eyes. But I felt rather cold, in fact so cold, I began to feel I might have kidney failure.

I suggested a fire to the Sainted One … you know the sort which has to be lit with MATCH! This was greeted with amazement and the question was repeated twice. I held my ground, and then there was an in depth interrogation as to how long before I went to bed, and therefore was it worth it? The cut-off point was two hours. But that is real life for you. I dread the day when this criteria is applied to a new coat for example. Anyway to be fair there is a wonderful fire now, men would have better lives if they imagined themselves in a film script.

Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Lifes A bitch, and It Boils Down to Money Mostly.

Ever think life is rather unfair, believe me consider the fate of Sir Cloudesley Shovell and you will think again. Sir Cloudesley had a distinguished naval career, and lived a life of unblemished rectitude. He served in the Nine Years War, and was appointed Commander in Chief of the British Fleets, he was also a Member of Parliament. So far very good. But the navy were cheeseparing skinflints, and were not prepared to finance the work into developing a way of calculating longitude.

Our hero was, it seems infallible. But on November 8th 1707, Sir Cloudesley was returning from yet another triumph against the French when he took his entire fleet , the pride of the British navy onto the rocks off The Isles Of Scilly. Two thousand sailors were lost, and it was perhaps the greatest disaster in Naval history , and all for the want of Longitude. There is a suggestion that he jumped ship whilst the going was good, in any event he managed to struggle ashore, but was murdered by a local woman who took a fancy to a valuable emerald ring he was wearing. You see what I mean about life … but then one could say, the shame of all this would have been hard for him to live with. But why I am interested in the story, is that thirty years later, another great naval voyage was to set off, without the greatest invention in naval history, the Harrison clock which would have prevented a repetition of this disaster. And all because the admiralty had not changed, they knew Harrison had the clock, indeed it had been tried a few years earlier on the Flag ship of the new venture the Centurion. The Commodore George Anson, pleaded with the naval board, but they would not advance the money for the final development. One theory is that the naval board did not want the clock to fall, into the hands of the enemy, and they did not want to give Harrison the promised reward for his invention. Whatever the reasons, there was of course another great loss of life almost as large as Sir Cloudesely’s doomed voyage, and all for the want of Longitude. You will be able to read about this in nine months when I have finished Summers Grace …… now of course our great navy could fit onto the Serpentine. Makes one think.

Pivetol Encounters in a Jacuzzi.

I was feeling quite good about myself this morning, but not anymore. There are a lot of wonderful people coming to lunch and I spent all day yesterday cooking. I must say it does all look very nice. Plus I have a new makeup which I am assured fills in all the wrinkles. Unwisely I got into a dialogue with the Sainted One who it is fair to say did the breakfast today. There is a lot of talk about the political assassination of “you know who” I won’t mention the name again because it is now overkill……. The thing has been done to death!!!! But I reminded him of when we were on a parliamentary junket two weeks before this strange but predictable event, in a very hot place, when whilst lying blamelessly and alone in a Jacuzzi, I was joined by a sparsely clad “member” of the “Nameless” person’s alleged henchmen. I mentioned to the man that I thought they should actually be in London because the “leader” was under threat, and was languidly rebuffed for the suggestion. I will draw a veil over the rest. However I alluded to this at breakfast today in the context of the matter up for discussion, following the gripping TV coverage last night. There was a silence and then the SO said “I still find this hard to believe , I cannot think of a single reason why he would have wanted to do that.” I reminded him that he met me in a swimming pool and he wasn’t slow in coming forward, but it didn’t cut any ice…. It’s the big freeze at the moment, can’t remember why, I think it is domestic.

“Plus ca change” My mentor Paul Maze said to me once said to me, “ In life you will never regret the things you have done, only the things you have not done.” It’s not all bad though I have a very nice lunch date next week. Nothing like that of course but luncheon companions generally say nice things which boost your morale, and I can be very amusing at lunch time.

R.I.P. Mrs T, The Margaret Handshake, “Plus Ones” and the Truthsayer Norman Tebbitt.

Well on Wednesday evening it will all be over, the litter will be swept away and the crowd control barriers will be taken down and accounts of the great day will be taken back to the “plus ones” of whom I am one, having a great time in front of the tele with some girlfriends and Bucks Fizz, which seems appropriate if you see what I mean. The great lady will be with her Dad saying “ you see Dad I did it”. But speaking for the plus ones , the two hundred or so Tory wives, who shivered in village halls, travelled to constituencies with the contents of the fridge, vomiting youngsters, protesting teenagers, last weeks laundry and the type writer with the corrector ribbon, this noble army, who gave sherry parties, addressed meetings, went back for forgotten speeches. Washed the shirts you saw on tele during televised debates sitting just behind the great lady, just the shirt mind you, never the head , you knew it was him because there would be the tie you gave him for his birthday. Then of course the many solo evenings, the disruption of social life, because it’s no fun for the cook when someone leaves for the ten o clock vote. Some of us managed to have life of our own, because otherwise you got fat on frozen pies and became a serous alcoholic or were booked into the Priory, or both, or all of the above. Now of course it is all different , no more ten o clock votes and wives are not expected to be involved , they are allowed to have a job and by and large the family comes first for them. It was my friends who made this all possible for me, and some very whacky determined children and the mantra that life is for living!!!!! And of course, I had a career that was mobile. I remember I interviewed the Chancellor’s wife Mrs Lawson for Harpers and Queen Magazine, and she recalled paying a visit to Mrs T in her flat, to broach the subject of the paltry cleaning allowance in number Eleven, and being smartly “rubber gloved” by the great lady who was cleaning the oven, looking immaculate in her Marigolds at the time, you see she got it wrong there, because few women have as much energy as that woman had most of us are rather tired sometimes, but never her so she didn’t get it, she was a case apart from the great power of sisterhood.

The point is, none of this changes in the end; because I have read countless egregious words about Margaret Thatcher now, from many on the men who professed to be her friends, and stabbed her in the back because they eroded her antennae, which could have alerted her to the monstrous regiment of men who plotted against her. And that brings me to the thing I have mentioned before; have we heard a single word from the women ,the wives who helped put her there, who kept her there? No we have not, just from the Judas Club, who now smugly declaim their loyalty to her. I must say I admire Norman Tebbitt, he spoke in the Lords and he said something to the effect ,that he regretted leaving her to her friends … that man said it all, and from he who has suffered so much watching his adorable wife living with the aftermath of the Brighton bomb which was meant for the Iron Lady a night none of us will forget in a hurry. This man is an example of truth loyalty and honesty .

Mind you she didn’t always help herself . I well remember the famous “”Margaret Handshake” in the receiving line at Number Ten, which took place at right angles to the windows . When it came to the less important persons, such as myself, we were moved along with all the force of a sumo wrestler in a remarkable combination of shake, thrust to the right, and a regal turn of the head. I sometimes thought if I tripped, I might be projected out of the window. Actually none of this effects my admiration for her, she was focused, she had to be , the end justified the means whatever they were. But she took her eye off the ball for a moment. She should have listened to her husband who told her to go while she was on top of her game. But power dims judgement in the end. It is said that power should never be given to those who seek it, perhaps there is some truth in that?

Margaret Thatcher The Mother, and Lets stop Slicing The Blame Cake.

I do wish people would stop this moaning about parents. Blaming the parents is a convenient way of shelving your own inadequacies onto someone else. As the joke goes “low self-esteem is catching, you get it from your children”. I have been reading a lot of tripe about Margaret Thatcher being a bad mother. Excuse me, but would her children rather have been born to an unmarried prostitute in Soweto? Or would they rather have not been born at all? Actually I have not heard them going on about this, but other people say they have, and that Margaret Thatcher’s daughter once screamed at her “ you are an awful mother.” Do tell me what mother has not received similar remarks from their children, I would like to meet her? Actually you have won the lottery if your mother is one of the most iconic women ever born, maybe she didn’t have time to read you a bedtime story but so what? My mother never read me a story or, washed my shirts, or told me the facts of life, or held my hand when I was ill, but she gave me some very hard coxes orange pippins when I had my tonsils out but that is in not the reason I am arachnophobic and all the other phobics, hate apples and am numerically dyslexic, and have no sense of direction . By and large parents do their best, and people stuck in a parental blame time warp are probably lousy parents themselves. Their own parents die anyway, and then do you still go on blaming them? I guess some people do, and consequently never really grow up. I do not know Carol Thatcher, but I get the impression she was a very good daughter to her mother and I bet she admired her enormously. There was a picture of Margaret Thatcher’s grandson in the paper today, he looks rather like his grandmother; he has political ambitions and lives in Dallas Texas, I bet he is coasting on a wave of admiration at the moment, he will no doubt have inherited her many fine qualities, who knows what sort of parent he will be but in the end it is genetic?

You will see two pictures on this page, one of Margaret with The Sainted One’s campaign mascot, a blue teddy which went on to be a family heirloom. It was given to her on her campaign visit to Exeter by a university student, one of many young people to whom this great lady spoke in a most motherly kind of way, she was the same with our family. You will notice in the photo that Moi is looking respectful with downcast eyes , that is the effect she sometimes had on people, she was awesome. She was after all, in basic Jungian terms, a mother figure to the nation, you either love them or hate them, but they know what is good for you.