For Horace

Here at the home of the Girth Mother, age rears it’s head even higher. My first daughter, Horace(Ontal),  is to be married in May. I will be Mother of the Bride, and also, to the consternation of Kerching, a Mother-in Law.

I have mentioned before, my quantity of experience negotiating the mountain pass of marriage. I know some the many challenges a married couple must overcome to achieve that distant goal, the Diamond Wedding. I will never make that enviable state although I do hope to make it to my Silver Wedding Anniversary in 2025, when I will be 70.

I have listed a few things here for Horace that I would never have thought about as I launched with supreme optimism into my first couple of relationships. Starting off with the right person is clearly the most important thing but after that…

THE INLAWS/PARENTS: That tricky relationship with the each other’s parents, and being/having a spouse who doesn’t quite match up to their expectations.

difficult mother in law

ADAPTING: The realisation that simply because you love someone, does not mean that they will behave the way you expect. How you deal with this depends largely on communication skills – yeah, yeah, we all know about those but do we think ours are the only valid ones or do we listen and speak out in the knowledge that we are  both entitled to a point of view, and that someone will have to back down? Sometimes it is hard to recognise your shortcomings. Just know that you have them.

TEMPTATION: Many of us have vices or obsessions. It is important to make a life for yourself, but not at the expense of your other half. Interests such as sports, can leave a ‘widow/er’ at home. Flirtations that may seem harmless can lead to damaging extra-marital involvements. Social drinking can lead to dangerous habits, likewise gambling, computer chat rooms, social media, on-line gaming. There are many things that can hurt your partner if they take over your thoughts.

Photo by Schuyler S

BOREDOM: After many years, marriage can become routine, communication sporadic and interests divergent.

photo by RFMIIPhotogrphy

CAREER: Being on the ladder and having to make choices between job and family. Being too tired or preoccupied to give proper attention to your spouse. Getting irritable, working late, not making time for a home life.


MONEY: Apparently the number one reason for conflict.

By Gktech716uk london

Then there is the biggy: CHILDREN: Nobody can be prepared for the impact of those: squirming bundles, determined toddlers, belligerent adolescents and ungrateful and untidy teens. The changing roles of parents and the way they share duties can be game changers. On the other hand, there are the pressures of not having children, whether by choice or otherwise.

By BCantrall

So I say to my first-born, very special and much loved daughter, I hope and pray that you have a wonderful marriage and that you and your lovely husband are strong enough to face the inevitable challenges that come your way. You seem to know what you want now, but in my experience, what you want can change several times in a lifetime, and changing together, that is the tricky bit.

Be happy, be lucky and know that I am here.

Image result for pink parakeet

With love,

Mum xxx

Twas the Alternative Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas and,
Upon our abode,
Festive lights were agleaming,
Upon Marsworth Road.

The stockings were hung,
By the chimney with thought,
And up on the mantle,
A small glass of port…

And a mince pie for Santa,
And carrots and fruits,
For his faithful reindeer,
Such elegant brutes.

And down in the kitchen,
The dog in his bed,
Gave a deep sigh,
And lowered his head.

While I in my Jim jams,
And him in the buff,
Passed out for the night,
After more than enough.

Then outside the window,
Arose a loud THUD,
As something, who knew what?
Made contact with mud.

My heavy eyes opened,
My heart gave a patter,
I crawled to the curtain,
To see what was the matter.

From up on the first floor,
The lawn looked absurd,
With yellowing patches and,
A sprinkling of turd.

And right in it’s middle,
A road kill, a tangle,
Of reindeer and Santa,
All at the wrong angle.

And Santa was wiping,
His boot with a list
As he glared at the window,
And shook a small fist.

One reindeer, his nose red,
Was struggling to rise,
And gifts of all sizes,
Rained down from the skies.

Eventually, upright,
The gallant old team,
Made it up to the roof, where,
They could not be seen.

But I heard them arrive,
And I heard Santa shout,
From the fireplace,
Something about port causing gout.

Then back up the chimney and,
Into the mist,
The sleigh lurched and twisted,
Perhaps he was pissed.


Whizz has a new woman. Her name is Alexa. Actually, I quite like having her around the place. She helps out in the kitchen, keeps us informed about the weather prospects and is incredibly musical.

I first found that my husband was messing around with Alexa, on my return home after a weekend in Somerset with Horace. There was this ‘person’, installed in my home without a by your leave. I was shocked. When I complained, Whizz was defensive. I’ve had my eye on her for ages,’ he said. / Wikimedia Commons / Wikimedia Commons

‘Well we haven’t discussed it. It’s a blooming cheek,’ replied I, showing considerable self restraint as I looked her up and down. I had to agree that she was more attractive than the last one. Yes Whizz is a serial ‘womaniser’ He is a slave to the brothel they call Amazon.

Alexa is the voice of the Amazon Echo, a hands-free, voice controlled speaker.  You can say to her,  ‘Alexa, play me some Leonard Cohen,’ and she will reply in a voice straight out of some 1960s B movie, ‘Playing Leonard Cohen on Spotify.’ I might say ‘Set timer for 10 minutes’, or ask for the weather forecast and she will provide the service. Today, however, she has overstepped the mark. There I was, telephone pressed to my right ear, confirming an appointment, when she suddenly blurted out ‘What did one eye say to the other eye? Between you and me, something smells.’ . This threw me completely. I couldn’t hear the woman on the phone but I bet she was perplexed to hear Alexa.  Something I said must have sounded like ‘Alexa, tell me a joke’.

As Whizz remarked when I told him, ‘Typical woman. Always butting in when she’s not asked.’ He’s such a wag.

Garden Ornaments

Once upon a time I thought garden gnomes were to be disdained.


As I grow older, however, and less judgmental, I discover that I rather like them. A house near ours has a tiny and immaculate front lawn with a number of garden ornaments, including a gnome pushing a barrow, a couple of  less than cuddly animals, and a spinning windmill. This little plot, delights passing children in the same way that gaudy Christmas lights might. I’d like to hail all those gardeners across the land who entertain us with their cheeky Big Ears lookalikes.


The subject of gnomes brings to mind an old college ‘professor’ of mine called Banable Lecture. He was my friend at college, and we still keep up a sporadic correspondence. Banable taught programming and program design, but considering the technical nature of his career, it is notable that he prefers to put pen to paper for his annual letter to me, rendering it practically illegible. Mine to him on the other hand, is ‘MSWorded’ with appropriate illustrations, as I was taught in college.

Banable is a man with a boyish sense of humour (what man is not, I hear you say) and he once made a surprise visit to his brother (or it could have been his sister). To make the occasion more meaningful, Banable and his wife, Sparethe, rose before daybreak, and carrying with them various bits of equipment such as a washing up bowl, some sticks and string and some eccentric headgear, arrived outside the sibling’s house. The curtains were still blocking the first, pale infiltration of sunshine as the two crept onto the front lawn and set up their surprise. Then they waited, hoping the family would not lie in until midday.

Sure enough, after not too long the upstairs drapes parted and a sleepy figure glanced out, then stilled, then a face was thrust close to the glass before breaking into roars of laughter.

Outside, with the grass chilling their toes, Banable and Sparethe, sat facing one another on low stools. On the ground between them was a blue sheet of plastic, cut in a closed curve, and on top of this, a washing up bowl containing water and a plastic fish. Both figures held fishing rods made from the sticks and string, and both were dressed as garden gnomes.

If only I could read Banable’s writing, I might have a fund of other anecdotes. As it is, there is one story that can be linked to the above without too much meandering. It concerns my time with LH.

LH is a classic car enthusiast, and over the years I was the vicarious owner of a number of old sports cars, while he had a sensible saloon car (and an Austin Healey  Frog Eyed Sprite in the garage). I have driven M.G.s and Austin Healeys, some quite nice but most with  resounding rear end flatulence and/or water, leaking through the soft top.


On one occasion, LH was on the phone giving directions using his favourite landmarks. ‘Go past the Griffin,’ said he, ‘Take the next left and our house is the one with the midget in the garden’. Our visitor could have been forgiven for thinking we lived in Narnia rather than a residential estate in North Sheep Country.