Hairy Builders, Pink Buckets, Breast Cancer,No Naked Women on the Wall Please, and Literati Bollocks.

On Saturday I went to the AGM of Cruse Bereavement Care to which I have just had the great honour of being appointed a patron. The guest speaker was Ian Church Director of PTS Plumbing Trade Supplies, who have just adopted Cruse as their charity. He gave one of the best speeches I have ever heard, just the right mixture of humour and a very good use of the pause . One of the stories he told was getting some of his hunky drivers to drive trucks that were painted pink in aid of Breast Cancer Research (their previous charity), he also issued them with pink buckets. This was a stroke of genius and the firms drivers and builders were given a hero’s welcome nationwide. As my daughter has breast cancer, I am very grateful to people like him, who buy into the fight against this horrible disease. I bet PTS will produce something astonishing for Cruse, they chose us because they thought the work we do should be more widely known, and of all the presentations this was the one in which they could see they could do so much to help.

Really Hilary Mantel should cut to the chase and learn from people like Ian Church who move in the real world folks, they speak plain English. Ms Mantel was asked to make a comment about Doris Lessing’s writing this week, she has just died at the great age of ninety one. Mantel said something to the effect that “ she seems to take a gloomy God Like pleasure in pointing out the defects of human nature and by implication removes herself,” what on earth does she mean? Does she mean that Lessing was a stuck up bitch or what? Or was it something to do with the moment when Lessing was told on her doorstep that she had won the Nobel Prize and said “Oh Christ”. Mantel must be very challenging to live with, I wonder what she would say if you asked her if she had put the bins out, maybe “ I am unable to engage in the area of human deleterious at the present moment in time, and by implication remove myself from the domestic trivia of ordinary people, I am consulting the Vatican and will be asking you to look at the colour of the smoke issuing from the papal chimney.” Actually I never got on with Lessing , her work made me feel depressed but Mantel couldn’t say that of course.

The Sainted One is in high dudgeon because I have hung two very attractive nudes on the wall in the drawing room; he thinks those kinds of pictures are only suitable for bathrooms. Of course this has been an invitation to the rather straight forward humour for which I am so beloved. He would not have done well in the royal courts of Europe or indeed in Queen Victoria’s reception rooms.

Sealed in For the Winter, Mice, Dog Pooh and Tosca.

It is official, winter is here I know this because the Sainted One gets sown into his vest and then seals all the windows up with a strange grey sort of blue tack. Some of them are excluded from this treatment because of the obsession moi has with night air and ventilated bathrooms. I am very OCD about bad smells and other peoples ablutions. It is surprising that people who live here do not end up constipated because no trace of these functions must be discernable in our commodious villa. There is much more I can say on this subject and nasal hair, but I won’t go on because you have heard it all before. Sadly having just had the carpets cleaned I trod in a dog pooh yesterday and trod it right through the house. The smell of Dettol wafts through the air reminding me of when I had TB as a child and my mother hung a Dettol soaked sheet over my sick room door in which I was confined for many weeks. Mouse droppings have also played a role this week , one of them ate some of our delightful lodgers muesli Tom the mouse man was summoned, who is the Inspector Poirot of the mouse world . The mice have quietened down, but not so the one on my laptop which is driven by Windows Seven and is completely insane.

When I was visiting my adorable Italian relatives in Rome recently, we went to a gorgeous house where Tito Gobi’s beautiful daughter lives, to attend a concert to remember her father, who was the greatest Scarpia of all time, he being the villain in the opera Tosca, for those of you who are ignorant of such important facts. We were played some black and white footage of some of Gobi’s performances which put me in a receptive mood for the cinema live from the Met, the following week, featuring that great opera…. the large Russian who sang the role of Scarpia had none of the allure required; since I have a theory that Tosca was a loose woman and very turned on by the evil villain, she only changed her mind about him when she heard her lovers screams, as he had his fingernails removed, in the adjoining blood soaked torture chamber next to the seduction pad.. I thought it was an excellent performance, but I have heard a lot of people complaining about the way Tosca threw herself off the battlements at the end, because it was not dramatic enough. This is typical of one of the things I hate about opera groupies, that, and them knowing some of the first lines to specific arias, which they recall with a stupid soupy expression on their faces, plus a list of people they have heard sing them with dates and venues. Personally I am always very restrained about these things, since I hate this “grandstanding” thing people do as they get older, it’s because they don’t get out enough. I never mention the fact that I met Maria Callas in her dressing room when my Godmother, who was one of the most famous singers of all time you understand .. took me out of school, to hear the great Diva at Covent Garden. She admired my diamond earrings which the said Godmother let me wear for the evening, they were I gather, a gift from a member a European Royal Family for services rendered on more than one occasion.. believe that and you will believe anything.  Anecdotal stories get worse as people get older, retrieved memory is usually delusional, it goes like this .. you once heard of a woman who was shot out of a canon, soon will be she was a close relative the next thing is that it was you who were shot out of the canon. Actually I did know a very posh woman who claimed to have been, but I never really believed her. She invented it to out do her fantasist husband  who ended up being murdered by a prostitute!!!

Not Invited! Mad old Hags and Fashion Statements.

A very fierce woman rang here last night, in the middle of my serendipity half hour. She demanded to speak to the Sainted One. He was out, I politely offered to pass a message, “Who are you?” the voice barked.

“More to the point who are you? I replied in my customary mild tone for which I am celebrated. She supplied her name which I will not mention here, actually it is rather a silly name ,I have encountered said woman occasionally over the last twenty years , my impression of her is unwavering . “I am speaking to Veronica,” she declared unpleasantly. “There is nobody called Veronica here,” I said unhelpfully. “You see, “I went on vaguely,  “I don’t mind Virginia, or Vera but I once knew a rather nasty Veronica.”

After a much of the same, I reminded the caller that I was called Vanessa. “Ah yes Veronica she yelled furiously and then stated her business, as if delivering a memo to a stupid secretary, which was, to ask the SO to give her a lift to a gathering two hours from London to which the SO and moi had both been asked. On learning that I was the appointed driver, she informed me very coldly that I was not invited . The gathering was very exclusive, she explained severely, and I did not have the correct credentials and so she and the SO would travel together, or maybe I could drive them both, and have lunch alone in the local pub while they celebrated in the big house? The SO, I conclude is not complicit in this , and on this occasion blameless of any dark conspiracy. This has all been very awkward as I am very devoted to the person for whom the surprise party is to be held. I am sorting this out, there is great potential here…. because I cannot resist a good story, and will make much of it, and will write to “Dear Mary” on the Spectator.  Perhaps silly name woman of advancing years is desperate, and just wants to be alone with the SO for four hours…..this might be good therapy for him actually, like putting a cat in a sack of old dogs (or bitches), if you follow my drift. Am discussing this with my best friend, who has the driest wickedest and funniest sense of humour I know. Be warned, there are one or two of these desperate old women out there, they must be mad actually …… don’t they realize that you don’t get what you see , the real life is another story and must be respected by unwise outsiders.  Veronica is not to be trifled with. “Terra Incognita”


A very dear friend came to stay for Halloween and raised our street cred in the road by her “off the wall” dress sense, her little boy is much the same,  he wore an orange the wig for lunch, I don’t know where he got the yellow cat suit. Once I nearly went to a fancy dress party (the theme was musical) dressed as Tina Turner , I practised on the SO who turned very vitriolic and said he would have nothing to do with me if I went like that… I led him on until the last moment, the atmosphere becoming nuclear. Upon arrival separately, he did not recognize me dressed as Tosca, no prizes for guessing his own choice of character… Don Giovanni of course. During the evening, I noted at least twenty sad ladies dressed as Tina Turner who all wished they were dead.

Extraordinary People, The Dolls House, and Princess Dogs

You will see below a picture of my daughter Lucie and Moi many years ago at her birthday, that was a splendid celebration, there was another at the weekend, two years since she was diagnosed with very serious breast cancer. Defying all the odds she is in remission and achieving miracles. She owes her life to the team who look after her, (her treatment is on-going) and her astonishing positivity. Along with all she does, running a large and demanding family she has written a book about the last two years….. I have an inkling of its content, it will no doubt be inspirational for anyone contemplating the awful prospect of fighting cancer, because, it is a fight a multifaceted one, make no mistake. I used not to believe so much in the theory of mind over body, but I do now, this book is just one of her great gifts to the world and there are two more books in the pipeline. The old Chinese proverb goes “if your children are no better that you are you have lived in vain, lucky mum hey?

I very splendid young man who is closely involved with our family did something for the girl he adores on her birthday which actually made me cry when I heard about it over Sunday Lunch, and I am a tough nut I can tell you. Tears do not come easily at my stage in life because I have seen so much to weep about, and it makes no difference, just exhausts you. But tears of the of the greatly moved sort are different and must be cherished. This was “the birthday and the doll’s house,”.. how about secretly sourcing a ravishing period dolls house, little sandwiches and all on the tea table, and sneaking it into the girls friends flat in the night, so that she might wake with it at the end of the bed fully lit in the morning ?…… this is a family where loss of houses is a particularly omnipresent theme, both in reality and dreams. This is a man who is in touch! The story of his quest for the house was a novel in itself.

Beatrice, one of the Spaniels does not like to get her feet wet and is scared of loud noises, the recent rain and fireworks put her off the garden so she decided that the Sainted One’s dressing room carpet was the most suitable place for her ablutions. The SO growled so much that my “Nipote” who spends a lot of time here asked if the very small dog was in line for fifty lashes? The punishment has been reduced to no laps for a while, watch this space, the dog does not understand the long diatribes, she listens with an angelic respectful expression, you know it has occurred to me that the dog could teach me thing or two.