Saturday, 30 May 2015

A Gin & Tonic With The Kray Twins!

Since my new book exploded into cyber space a week or so back, a couple of people have commented that the female with the broom on the cover, somewhat disappointingly, does not really resemble me.   I was surprised to hear that because I had imagined in my usual naive manner that there was a very strong resemblance.  That's what happens I suppose when you get too close to a project.
Anyhow I refuse to let it upset me because in the final analysis it's what's inside the cover that really matters and I can assure any reticent reader that there is a great deal to interest a keen student of night club life in the nineteen sixties.
Those were the days of course!   The good old days when a party invitation from Stephen Ward and a gin and tonic with the Kray twins would certainly set the pulses racing.   But I won't spoil it for you just in case you are on the verge of reading it.  And should that be so you can download it in an instant from Smashwords  and it's also available from Amazon.
It is a very personal slice of 1960s life in London where I worked as showgirl and hostess, catered to those with a compulsion for sexual deviations whilst also writing articles for child care magazines, short stories for women's magazines and typing letters and reports for Harley Street specialists.   Life was very different in those days!  

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Holding Shameful Views

Funny how despite the fact that as a society we are reminded on a daily basis to be constantly aware and accepting of our differences one from another, we all know that some beliefs, opinions and viewpoints are infinitely more appropriate and generally tolerable than others.
No longer is it customary to physically chastise unruly children, the law actually forbids it.  I was more than surprised to read the other day that you can still smack your offspring in Ireland.   We have all accepted this relatively new societal attitude even though most of us would agree that the well-disciplined small child is infinitely more welcome by most of us than the disruptive and disorderly one.
It has become almost fashionable to keep an unkempt home strange as that might seem.   Visitors to clean and tidy homes are more than happy to comment on it and add proudly that they just can’t get around to cleaning themselves.   Conversely if a visitor to their place was to observe what a filthy dump it seemed to be, they would quite rightly be thought of as extremely rude.
Holding Left Wing views, even those verging on the extreme, is somehow laudable whilst Right Wing opinions are often seen as beyond the pale.   This is particularly evident in politics where those on the Left can hurl insults and refer to the Right as `rich pricks’ but it would be unthinkable for the Right to respond in kind.
For a decade or more there has been a disturbingly similar trend with regard to emerging social issues.  The Irish Referendum recently showed us that even in a conformist and religious society there is a groundswell of acceptance of Gay Marriage.   A courageously vocal Roman Catholic Bishop who admitted he had voted against the idea was moved to add that the Church needed to re-examine the issues involved.   Generally, though, it is wiser for those opposed to remain silent.
As far as I’m personally concerned, unless asked, I’m quite happy to remain as quiet as possible about my fundamental beliefs.  Even though I don’t go in for proselytizing, those who disagree with me often become upset, even abusive and if they are friends then that is hard to deal with. So most of my social circle would be unaware that:
I would certainly support re-establishing physical punishment for wayward and willful children.
I would gladly support a petition to bring back hanging.
I'm not in favour of Gay Marriage.

I believe it is a great pity that the Little Black Sambo books have disappeared not only from libraries but also from bookshops.

Oh - and I really don't mind if others disagree with me.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Morning Coffee at Tysdale Manor

Jean, Sinead & Bernard having morning coffee at Tysdale Manor before the house was sold.
Sad really that the place now belongs to someone else.   Nevertheless, the replacement home at Cape Wrath is very pleasant too - though it has to be admitted, harder to get to. 
The object of this exercise is a mini-practice for posting images as those more experienced will by now have realised.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Italia Square lunch - Non Solo Pizza coffee...

We set forth today for the ten dollar lunch at Italia Square, the husband and I, courageously through gale and hailstorm battling our way up to Parnell Road.  
We both decided to have the gnocchi with cheese and walnut sauce with a glass of wine to aid the digestion.   The gnocchi was very good indeed, as was the wine - and the service also.   The coffee we decided to end the meal with was, sadly,  not so good - not a patch on Non Solo Pizza's miniscule street-front coffee shop.  It has to be said that Non Solo Pizza serves the best coffee in Parnell and has done for several years.
As we fought our way home through the worsening storm the husband told me that henceforth he wishes to be known as `the elderly husband' - and I'm not one to argue. 

Friday, 22 May 2015

Ladies Who Lunch

On Friday Philippa and I lunched somewhat extravagantly at Harbourside where the food was on the visually stunning side – and tasted very good too.   We got there just after twelve and were still happily setting the world to rights as it neared two thirty when several of the staff asked if there was anything else they could provide.  However, we are a sensitive pair and so we got the message and at that stage departed, Philippa to catch her bus back to Ponsonby and me to browse the yarns store in the Downtown shopping centre intent on buying a `specials’ assortment for the knit&crochet blanket I currently work on.   Very dull I know, but one has to do something whilst watching Coronation Street.
I must say I do enjoy lunching with Philippa because not only is she invariably up to date with the lives of our mutual friends and knows exactly who is considering new curtains for the lounge or contemplating taking on a toy boy, she is apt to make flattering comments about my books and is a first rate ego booster.  And I must add here that in these turbulent days of the demise of traditional publishing, anyone reckless enough to put pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard, needs all the ego boosting they can muster.
On Friday she said some very complimentary things about In Disgrace With Fortune (  now available at both Smashwords and Amazon for those who might be interested.)   She told me that whilst being a personal story it was also a slice of social history which was something that had not quite occurred to me although now it has been pointed out, has become glaringly obvious.   I had originally seen it as simply a glimpse into an unhappy segment of one individual’s life, a catalogue of personal events taking place half a century ago.  Those interested in the social consequences of the nineteen sixties will undoubtedly see much more. 
Sincere thanks to Philippa Tait for her unfailing wisdom and good humour – and also for the Harbourside lunch which was very, very enjoyable!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

IN DISGRACE WITH FORTUNE (A Chronicle of Harlotry)

After a great deal of stress the new book does finally seem to be available via both Smashwords and Amazon.   There have been so many problems sending it off successfully to Smashwords that I began to think the very mischievous spirits I write about in the bloody thing were still lingering around, intent upon causing trouble.   The link that should take you there is:

Friday, 15 May 2015

City Skateboarders on Footpaths

I had a mini-battle today with a young skateboarder outside the Central Library in Auckland.  The husband had suggested going to Le Garde Manger (French restaurant at 466 Queen St on the hill) for a late lunch and we were on our way back walking quite properly on the footway outside the library.  The miscreant was about nine years old and urgently needed to upskill because he very nearly lost control of his board and was in danger of crashing into me at some speed.   When I remonstrated with him (quite forcefully it must be admitted)  he seemed to find it very amusing though that might have simply been bravado.  His older friends politely apologized on his behalf and so I stopped short of explaining that aggressive pensioners such as myself often have problems like osteoporosis and being hit in the lower legs by an out-of-control skateboard could lead to crippling and life-long injury.
However, just as I had decided to accept the apology and move on a furiously important looking male of middle years rushed up noisily telling me to `leave the little lad alone’.    Aha, I thought, using my intelligence, this must be the boy’s father.    Imagine my surprise to find that he was not related to him in any way but merely someone looking for causes to support and good deeds to do.   He advised me that I should have `got out of the little fella’s way and not walked into him’.   Well as you can probably imagine I disagreed with his point of view quite vehemently.      Still projecting his voice (he might have been an actor) he shared with me the fact that he had been hassled by people like me himself when he was a boy and it was no joke – something should be done about the elderly who can’t be stuffed to move off the footpath when they see a kid heading their way on a skateboard.   I’m afraid I was then really quite rude to him and to his credit he did not respond in kind but merely observed, still in tones reminiscent of Richard Burton on stage at the Old Vic and with an extravagant right hand flourish, `You see – people like you always resort to bad language’.   That was undeniably correct.
By this time the young reprobate had grown in stature and was swaggering a bit and as we moved on I was left wondering how we ever became a society where the elderly are reprimanded in public for not giving way to nine year old skateboarders on footpaths.     

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

A Perennial Problem With Builders

Those in the construction industry – builders, plasterers, painters and carpenters seem to suffer a similar collective malaise.    It consists of frequent tea, coffee, lunch, cell phone and chat breaks to the accompaniment of loud nineteen seventies style pop music,  interspersed with  sudden  trips across town for extra nails, plaster or pots of paint the exact requirement of which is only available from the Builders’ Mega Centre on the very edges of the city.
I have watched in fascination the ongoing antics of the three jolly labourers who have been working on the house directly opposite my bedroom window for at least three months.  They arrive bright and early at seven am on the dot every weekday morning whistling merry tunes, telling jokes and bursting with energy, ready for a day’s work, which is invariably remarkably slow to start.   After earnest consultation over a flask of tea by 7.30 one of them is dispatched in the direction of the Mega Store for the required quantity of urgently needed sandpaper or the missing screwdriver.    Very little can be done until he returns so the remaining pair retire to consider their cell phones until 9.00 when work at last gets under way.    However, it is rare for the three of them to be occupied with any industry at the same time and one of them can usually be seen relaxing outside with a cell phone.  
Several years ago I found myself in the happy position of employing a builder who also turned up reliably at seven each morning to have a brief chat with me before hurtling off to make urgent purchase of the materials needed for the day.   When I analysed his bills I was surprised to find that he actually charged me from the time he left home each morning.   He was more than a little irked when I asked for an explanation.  He was displeased that I should be brazen enough to query the practice and all I could gather was that it was some kind of `tradition’.   He made no comment when I pointed out that bank clerks, typists and shop assistants are not in the happy position of adopting this particular tradition and to my knowledge still got paid from the time they started work.   There was an explosion of displeasure when I added that I felt he should arrive each day with the materials he needed to complete the job rather than drive all over town at my expense to collect them.  
No matter how hard I tried to clarify it my builder was never able to quite see my point of view though I have to say that when I cut his final bill in half before making payment he did not take me to the Small Claims Court as he had threatened.   I can’t help wondering just how the bills are stacking up from the cheery trio across the road.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Beautiful People

I’ve discovered that the charming and lovely Alex Polizzi, she who once was the Hotel Inspector and is now The Fixer, has a similar effect on men over fifty as the equally exquisite Joanna Lumley had a decade or so before her.
What I mean is that they are prone to stop in their tracks when she appears on the small screen, and stand mesmerized rather than continue on their way to the kitchen with the dirty plates or whatever minor chore the appearance of the rather fetching one interrupted.   
That’s how it works in our house anyway and as I said, I do recognize the syndrome as the very same that was once inspired by the comely Ms. Lumley’.
It is the husband’s opinion that Alex Polizzi is highly intelligent and capable and that’s why he listens attentively to every pearl of wisdom issuing forth from her appealing lips.  He thought Joanna was pretty bright too.   It is his opinion that Alex is a stylish dresser.  He thought much the same of Joanna of course.
For the duration of the current programme he usually asks me more than once how old I think she might be.  Needless to say, Joanna’s age was constantly being queried at one time.
Last week I suggested that Alex might be twenty two or twenty three even.  
He gave a huge sigh of satisfaction.
As for myself, I simply cannot stand the way she calls everybody `Darling’ – so terribly nineteen sixties don’t you think?