I automatically downgrade anyone who says ‘between you and I’ – for some reason that is a grammatical error up with which I am unable to put: and anyone who uses the word ‘posh’; and anyone in a restaurant/cafe/plane/bus who speaks  so loudly that you can’t escape his/her conversation to make your own; and bars/pubs which as soon as they open switch on muzak in the belief that human nature abhors a vacuum; and people who use a knife not to aid their eating but to make that scraping noise on the plate;  and passengers  who put their feet up on the seat opposite; and people who laugh loudly, especially in eating places (” the loud laugh that speaks the vacant mind “);  and people who laboriously tell you something boring then say  “but having said that” and go on  to give you at length the other side of the story;  and people who say ‘actually’ and ‘basically’;  and  obese people; and cyclists on pavements;  and people who say things like  ” being given a medal was literally the icing on the cake ” ; and presenters like Clarkson and Oliver and Robinson who with such limited talents are so ubiquitous; and


Love Is Not Love Which Alters

When It Alteration Finds

Priscilla has left me for another woman. The first woman she left me for was vivacious and beautiful and laughed a lot, in fact laughed so much and so loudly that inside a month Priscilla was back, all remorse and abasement, promising she would never leave me again. And me being me, I welcomed her back with open arms and open heart, all smiles and tears, too happy at being  reunited with the woman of my dreams to harbour any bitter thoughts about the past or fears for the futureCarpe diem, as they say. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.

For some time – weeks, months – it was like the early days when we couldn’t do enough for each other, couldn’t get enough of each other, couldn’t bear to be apart  from each other. We went to the cinema together,  to the theatre together, to concerts together,  to parties together,  with a zest and appetite for life as if it was all too short for us to cram everything in.  Vita brevis, as they say.  I thought we had never been happier. Aimer bien c’est pardonner tout.

Then last Wednesday I burst into the house with an armful of flowers and found Priscilla with a woman I had never seen before, Rosalia, a Flamenco dancer over here for the Festival, dark flashing eyes, liquid voice, magnificent cheek bones, skin like ivory, jet-black hair. And those hands! Those beautifully expressive hands!

I went to see her dance. She was magic. Magnetic. Mesmeric. She stamped her authority on everyone. Everyone! The applause when she finished was deafening and went on and on. When I got home, bursting to tell Priscilla how wonderful Rosalia had been, there was no Priscilla,  just a brief note propped against a vase of flowers on the table.  I can’t say I was altogether  surprised.  L’amour est un oiseau rebelle,  as they say.

My friends are very supportive although  I detect a bit of the I-told-you-so in their sympathy for what they see as my plight. At work my boss took me to one side, put an arm round my shoulder and said, Don’t feel bitter. And if you want some time off,  just say the word.

But what is there to be bitter about? If I were her, I would have left me too for a woman like that.

The Other Woman in Red

Have you ever had a gin an tonic after a busy, successful day and realized just  how silly all your earlier doubts and anxieties had been?

Or have you ever felt you’re being watched and looked  up just as the creepy man on the other side of the room drops his eyes onto the page of the book he hasn’t been reading for the last couple of minutes or so?

Or have you ever been reading a book in a cafe and looked up for no apparent reason only to meet the intense gaze of  the woman in red, the striking gin and tonic drinker sitting very upright all by herself on the other side of the room?

Or have you ever been unwinding over a quiet drink after work on your way home at a restaurant you don’t normally frequent when you see your husband who is supposed to be in Madrid come in with a very attractive  woman on his arm? They are both laughing.

Or have you ever gone to your favourite bar after a distressing day and tried to figure out where and how it all went wrong and whose fault was it really?

Or have you ever been aware of a flash and looked up to see that the flasher is the very unattractive guy in the shiny suit at the next table who has just taken your photograph on his cheap little Samsung and is now pretending to be photographing the wall on your left?

Ignore them all, that’s the best way. In fact they’re not even worth ignoring.

A Remembered Moment

The hen,

and behind it

a line of waddling ducklings –

khaki campbells –

which it had step-mothered 


one duckling

which had strayed behind

rushing to catch up

flapping tiny wings

cheeping its panic 


above it

a hoodie crow

on  the tree top,

black body, grey head,

launching  itself,

clumsy, ponderous 


and to complete the scene

me watching  it all

through the kitchen window

plate in one hand

dish cloth in the other,




  I climbed here 3 times. Top of the world. Not even a fly. Still got money stolen from top hut while we were out climbingl Where every aspect pleases….

I was climbing Batian, the left peak, and looking down I could see an African plodding up the route to Point Lenana where the top hut was. My heart sank. We did the climb, descended, got to top hut and sure enough Donald’s camera had gone and my £50 holiday money ditto. I raced down to the Teleki valley and caught up with the African. Of course he denied everything. I searched him and found nothing. “Wewe mwivi!” I told him but he shrugged. So I picked up a rock and smashed his head in.

No, I didn’t but the impulse was there