As I sit typing in my Inner Coven, my window is like a reverse dalmation, white splodges on black. Quite cute really. There are 3 inches of snow outside, and, if this continues, the lane outside will be impassable by the morning.
What a weird day.
I had to go to Cambridge this morning (40 miles, through the lanes). I had intended to go on the bike, but the car was too close to the garage door and I hadn't time to move it by the time I went out to leave, so I went in the alternative broomstick instead. Luckily as the weather turned out, as I hate riding on ice or snow.
I had just arrived when it started snowing, heavily. By the time I left at lunchtime it was all chocolate box-y, mounds of white flakes on the roof of Kings, all that sort of pretty stuff, with no-one around (students all pulling a sicky in practice for the real world, presumably), and driving snow.
The roads were clear on the way back until I got to the Cambridgeshire/Essex border. As usual, the North Essex roads hadn't been treated. Come on Essex Highways Department, get your finger gritters out - this was predicted (and not by BW, by real meteorologists) last night. I saw 4 accidents on the way home. All could have been avoided with a bit more forethought (by Highways or drivers). Thanks, that's *my* insurance premium up again next year, thanks, and I wasn't involved.
As I drove through white-roofed Cambridge, I felt as if I was in a time-warp. As a post-graduate student in Cambridge in 1984-5, I was forced to live-out (all rooms in college were kept for 1st years or post-graduates who had been at campus universities, presumably on the mistaken understanding that they were incapable of fending for themselves, so I didn't qualify). I lived in 4 separate places in a year. Each progressively worst. By January, I was in a shared house with a 3rd year female who one would have thought was studying sex rather than education. However, I digress.
Said house was a two-up, two-down back-to-back with outside toilet, no heating save open fires in the 2 bedrooms, and bath (with liftable work surface over) in the kitchen. Oh, and rats in the backyard (it was no garden) and mice in the bedrooms (I think that's where my abhorrence of mice, explained in earlier posts, developed). The snow lasted 3 weeks. I have never known anything like it, before or since.
Today just gave me that same feeling of... well, I don't know what, really. A sort of cross between excitement because it was snowing, and foreboding because I didn't know quite what it would bring and how it would finish up. In 1985 it was with a burst pipe, and no water or electricity for a week.
Then I got home to discover 5 messages on the answering machine from Mr BW. Likely to be stuck in Helsinki for another night because of the snow. That is, snow at Heathrow. Minus 20 in Finland. But, no problem there. Only at Heathrow. 2 flakes of snow at LHR and the country grinds to a halt. This is the same country that today mobilised another 4,000 reservists?
I ask you, is this the 21st century we are living in, or is it some virtual life?
Blue Witch hereby declares this blog to be a Eurovision Free Zone.
Terry Wogan even said on his show this morning (I was only listening cos I was in the car, honest guv, I'm just a tinsy bit too young to be a TOG yet) that he thinks Eurovision is dreadful and that the competitors haven't an ounce of talent between them. And Sally Traffic agreed, so there.
However, it has been brought to my attention, and the public spirited face of Blue Witch wanted to bring it to a wider audience. I guess it would receive greater acceptance if it had a different masthead, though. Am I wrong?
When people send you things like this, you know you've made it :)
1. If you're too open-minded, your brains will fall out.
2. Don't worry about what people think; they don't do it very often.
3. Going to church/temple/mosque doesn't make you religious any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
4. It ain't the jeans that make your butt look fat.
5. Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
6. My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.
7. Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.
8. It is easier to get forgiveness than permission.
9. For every action, there is an equal and opposite Government programme.
10. If you look like your passport picture, you probably need the trip.
11. Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of cheques.
12. A conscience is what hurts when all of your other parts feel so good.
13. Eat well, stay fit, die anyway.
14. Men are from earth. Women are from earth. Deal with it.
15. No man has ever been shot while doing the dishes.
16. A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.
17. Middle age is when broadness of the mind and narrowness of the waist change places.
18. Opportunities always look bigger going than coming.
19. Junk is something you've kept for years and throw away three weeks before you need it.
20. There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.
21. Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognise a mistake when you make it again.
22. By the time you can make ends meet, they move the ends.
23. Thou shalt not weigh more than thy refrigerator.
24. Someone who thinks logically provides a nice contrast to the real world.
25. If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you've never tried before.
Thought for the day evening now - Blogger has only just let me post (must have know I had stuff I needed to get done other than blogging)!:
"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."
- Oscar Wilde
Oft parodied - for example (stretching it a bit here!) in 'Two Thousand Acres of Sky' (IMHO one of the funniest and most under-rated TV programmes on at the moment) last week:
"Reach for the stars and, with luck, you may hit the moon" said Kenny (whose wise comments and astute observations often go right over the heads of those around him. Ah! a kindred spirit, must be what I like about him :)
Blue Witch has a dilemma and needs your assistance to solve it.
Last Friday night Mr Blue Witch went out to an AGM, to relinquish a whole load of work that the Blue Witches have been doing for the last 5 years for a voluntary/charitable organisation. Blue Witch refused to go because Blue Witch is bad at saying "no" and was scared she might be talked into staying on. While Mr BW was out, BW got very frustrated with the non-co-operation of parts of this blog's template and partook of several glasses of Witches' Brew and started playing Joan Armatrading *very* loudly.
When Mr BW got home just before The Witching Hour, saying, "Gosh I thought someone was having a party, then I pulled into the drive and realised it was us!", BW laughed hysterically. Mr BW then found the books on html spread all over the floor of BW's Den, and has been asking questions ever since. He has, of course, guessed that BW is up to something, and is demanding to know what.
But, I am fairly certain that he won't find this site through a web-search - he's still a novice Googler.
So - my dilemma is, should I tell him now, or not?
To help me decide, I have set up a little on-line survey. It's totally anonymous. Please just click here and enter survey number 3675 in the 'Take A Survey' box to alter the Blue Witches' destiny. There is one question and it takes only 5 seconds (2 if you have Broadband!).
Survey results are available on the survey site in an ongoing way - and I will publish the results here on Friday. At about the time Mr BW comes back from his "Business" trip to Finland...
Twice in recent weeks we have been awakened by telephone calls in the early hours from people who were so drunk that they had not managed to dial the correct digits in the correct order. As all our numbers are ex-directory, and restricted, these calls can only have been errors.
The first time it happened, on Christmas Eve night, my father-in-law was very seriously ill in hospital, and, fearing the wors, I answered with trepidation, only to find some mad non-English speaking Chinese bloke on the line shouting, "Chen, Chen, come, come..." As our number does not start 09... I was rather put out, and taught him some English words he probably hadn't heard before.
Last night I did not answer the phone, but on using it to make another call just now, found a message, "Wake up you bastards."
I do not recognise the number, nor the voice. So, I have no problem at all with posting the number here, in the hope that someone may just need a number for an improper purpose, or fancy a laugh:
For those of you who are like me, and bad at spells (or just fast, inaccurate typists or dyslexic), there is a wonderful piece of software available as a free download from iespell.
Info on the site states:
"ieSpell is a free Internet Explorer browser extension that spell checks text input boxes on a webpage. It should come in particularly handy for users who do a lot of web-based text entry (e.g. web mails, forums, blogs, diaries). Even if your web application already includes spell checking functionality, you might still want to install this utility because it is definitely much faster than a server-side solution. Plus you get to store and use your personal word list across all your applications, instead of maintaining separate ones on each application.
The program installs as a new button in the IE toolbar (as well as a new menu item under "Tools") - after filling in a form, just hit the ieSpell button and it pops up a dialog, similar to the MS Word spell check.
ieSpell is not spyware or adware. Its free for personal and not-for-profit use. "
It doesn't work with all commenting systems, but it works for blogger entries and on discussion boards etc.
I've been using it for a few months now and have not found any problems with it - except for the fact that you have to teach it to spell in English.
While seeking out the dead corpses of the mice (which we didn't find, so I am looking forward to the stench of rotting mouse flesh soon) in the loft at the weekend, we came across several sacks of old clothes.
Now this phenomenon of hoarding clothes that are really past their wear-by dates is something that most of you avid readers will not understand, so I will try to explain it.
When I was in the top juniors, my Dad was made redundant, suddenly and unexpectedly. Things were tight then, financially and in the clothing stakes as I was growing rapidly. Well-meaning friends of my Mother's rallied round and donated various items of varying horrificity.
"Auntie" Hazel (weren't kids polite then?) across the road had a 16 year old daughter, Sally, who used to babysit us when Mum and Dad went out. Sally was a keen devotee of the "Fifteen" and "Sixteen" annuals, but reading them had, regrettably, done little for her fashion sense. So it was that I came to be the less-than-proud wearer of Sally's cast-off skirts. A little mini-purple flared number with gold anchor buttons up the front, and a nasty petrol blue tutu-like affair (only it was crimplene, or terylene, or some other similar early 1970's fibre).
My junior school was one of those trendy, progressive, learning-through-groovy-experience schools, where the Head, one Alex Ferguson (no relation, before you ask) did not believe in school uniform any more than he believed in teaching grammar or tables. In the absence of any other clothes that fitted, I was forced to go to school in these dreadful skirts, with a safety-pinned tuck in the waistband because Sally was a good 3 inches bigger round the waist than me.
So, I guess I have always kept clothes that others would throw away, just in case I should ever fall on hard times and need a fall-back option.
Mr Blue Witch is a minimalist. Well, he was 10 years ago, when he first met Blue Witch. He has since learnt the value and sense of keeping certain useful things, for when they will be needed. But, he draws the line at hoarding clothes.
So, Blue Witch was made to throw away everything. For someone with the worst visual memory in the world, Blue Witch certainly managed some memories on reviewing those black sacks.
There was the sky-blue anorak with white zip and buttons from M&S circa 1971 (Blue Witch can read the coded dates on M&S clothes labels, having once had a Saturday Job there), the black Paddington Bear duffle coat worn as a student, various frilly blouses that were fashionable once (that could now have been donated to Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen), and a lot of other stuff that is never going to fit again. Sadly, but one has to be realistic. My waist is wasted.
Actually, given that some of the items were a good 30 years old, many of them looked remarkably like what is currently in the shops. Unsurprisingly, I suppose.
So, Blue Witch was made to put everything out for recycling this morning. Mr Blue Witch did allow a few photos to be taken of some of the more memorable exhibits though.
But, as soon as he had scurried off to work this morning, Blue Witch was out there rooting through the bags in the drive (in her dressing gown, much to the amusement of passing motorists) to find one particular item.
The bright fuchsia pink stretchy jersey dress.
Now, however it may sound, this dress is gorgeous. It was bought at a huge designer clothing sale at the Bath & West Showground in 1987. I had just called off my planned wedding, just 3 weeks before it was due to take place (that is another tale, but let's just say the guy involved is now a prominent member of the gay scene in the south-west), and my would-have-been-bridesmaid decided I needed cheering up. For Lynda, this involved dressing me in colours I would not usually have chosen (I'm a Blue Witch after all).
Having got over the shock of bright pink, I was taken by Lynda (bless her) to a local department store where I was made to buy the make-up to match, and some navy accessories. And, how I loved the finished look.
Every time I wore that dress, I was the most confident of people. Quite different to how I felt inside. I wore it to every interview, every difficult meeting, every posh event, that I had to go to for about the next 6 years.
Then, one day, I noticed that it was getting yucky under the arms (is it only me that that happens to?). Most people would have thrown it away at that stage. But, not me! I bought a short navy knitted jacket to go over it. And wore it some more.
I can't remember the last time I wore it now. I just know that I am very glad it is currently reposing on the chair next to me rather than inside the recycling lorry.
And am I going to try it on later, just to see whether it still fits?
Why do some people delight in sprinkling salt on wounds then rubbing it in?
I have been asking around to see if anyone has seen two white fantail doves. I'm not hoping to get them back, I'd just like to know where they got to, and they are unlikely to have gone very far.
This morning I found an email in my inbox containing the following:
"The last thing you should do is release birds 6 days before the end of the Pheasant and Partridge shooting season when every gun is shooting everything that moves."
Well, OK, but I didn't need to know that, did I?
And, of course, had I known that, I wouldn't have released them, would I?!
I've never understood what makes people want to go and shoot hell out of living creatures for pleasure anyway. Any more than I've understood what makes people want to work killing animals in abattoirs, or cutting them up in butchers, or, indeed, what makes people choose to eat them at all.
Last week on the crazy property development programme, the vicar's wife perfectly summed up the closed mind attitude of most people: "It's a bit like a bacon sandwich really. The pig is already committed." Really? Right. WRONG.
Have been out in The Coven grounds this afternoon, doing some gardening.
It was 13 degrees and a few brave bees were flying. There were even things for them to eat (well, collect pollen from) - hellebores, marsh marigolds in the pond, fritillarias, hazel catkins, snowdrops. I even noticed that some pelargoniums I forgot to put in a frost-free place were still green, despite the snow and frost of recent weeks, and the camellias will be out soon.
For goodness sake, what is happening to our climate?
Mr Blue Witch then decided to cut down 2 dead trees, and chainsaw them up to fit in the wood-burner. I ended up chipping the christmas tree (into wood chips, for use as garden mulch, not for dinner). Not much gets wasted chez Les Bleus.
And what a wonderful sunset, as I type. All red and pink and mauve with sky blue bits in between. Blue Witch loves sunsets.
The new doves were allowed to fly for the first time today (they have to be kept in an aviary over their dovecote for the first few weeks to develop / re-set their sense of "home"). They flew twice round The Coven, sat on the roof for 10 minutes, allowed themselves to be photographed, then buggered off.
If anyone sees a pair of white fantail doves heading north back to Stoke from whence they came, do please let me know. Mr Blue Witch reckons the breeder only has one pair of doves that he resells every 3 weeks when they return to him after they are let free for the first time. They obviously didn't like me. Moos.
Then I discovered that half the Blue Witch pumpkin store has gone mouldy. Well, they were mostly squashes, but there were a couple of pumpkins. A rotten addition to the compost heap.
Mr Friendly Wizard has been dragged off out by Mrs Friendly Wizard and LilMiss Friendly Wizard, without being able to fix all the bugs in the New Look Coven (as you can no-doubt see...). Oh, and the comments have disappeared again. Hopefully its the new server they are putting up this weekend over at Comment City. Hopefully.
One good bit of news though, the mice seem to have eaten enough poison-laced food to put themselves to sleep.
Don't speak too soon Blue Witch, your rash statements may come back to haunt you...
I wish I could say that all my spells to magic the page how I wanted it had worked.
But they didn't.
None of them.
No comment. (s).
No space for links.
No way of altering the template without crashing Me.
In fact, Blue Witch got so wound up about it all yesterday that she had to call on friendly Mr Wizard to help out.
Mr Wizard is very good at helping out Blue Witch, luckily for Blue Witch. Mr Wizard is also incredibly good at lots of other things, but one of those rare people who are so modest and unassuming that he doesn't think he is.
So, the new styling for the Web Coven is hanging out on a practice site. Mr Wizard was up till 4am doing it (Blue Witch can tell from the "time last published"!).
All Blue Witch has to do is some deleting of old templates and pasting and republishing of the new from over there to over here.
But later, cos Blue Witch is scared and has to do some spells for courage first (Blue Witch never drinks before noon, so it could be some time :)
As a student in London in the early 80's I remember loving the "music to do things to" spot he used to host. I think it was on a Saturday lunchtime?
I found one of those old Capital Radio car stickers shown in that link while I was clearing out the loft recently - I guess that's how my subconscious mind managed to link everything together into a silly thought while I was flying along in the broomstick earlier.
What "Music Would Mice Mate To?" (I know, I'm obsessed with the little critters in my loft, but, so would you be, in my position!). I haven't been able to come up with anything yet, but I just know someone will......
The comments are now working on a temporary site, but still not here, so you'll have to email them to me if you come up with anything. I'll post all entries.....
Mr Blue Witch thinks it will be funny to set up our flashy digital camcorder (that will record in zero lux) in the loft tonight. Anyone who sends me an entry can be sure that I will send them an mpg of any resulting worthwhile footage. If they are interested, of course ;)
I'm not at all sure that watching either mice f*ck or mice die of warfarin poisoning is my thing really, but...
Whichever of you good readers are searching for inspiration on Google (yes, 3 hits in a row using combinations of words I've used recently, and a hyphen between "blue" and "witch" is a definite giveaway to this Blue Witch, even though I believe (probably) overly much in co-incidences). I did find a picture I quite liked, as a result, though, so thanks.
But I'm only a nasty Witch if you're nasty to me.
One of my e-correspondents has just sent me this.
I will not tell you in which Government Department this person works.
I know I said I wasn't going to be political, but... that was yesterday!
(To the tune "If you're happy and you know it clap your hands")
IF YOU'RE HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT, BOMB IRAQ
If you cannot find Osama, bomb Iraq.
If the markets are a drama, bomb Iraq.
If the terrorists are frisky,
Pakistan is looking shifty,
North Korea is too risky,
If we have no allies with us, bomb Iraq.
If we think someone has dissed us, bomb Iraq.
So to hell with the inspections,
Let's look tough for the elections,
Close your mind and take directions,
It's "pre-emptive non-aggression", bomb Iraq.
Let's prevent this mass destruction, bomb Iraq.
They've got weapons we can't see,
And that's good enough for me
'Cos it's all the proof I need
If you never were elected, bomb Iraq.
If your mood is quite dejected, bomb Iraq.
If you think Saddam's gone mad,
With the weapons that he had,
(And he tried to kill your dad),
If your corporate fraud is growin', bomb Iraq.
If your ties to it are showin', bomb Iraq.
If your politics are sleazy,
And hiding that ain't easy,
And your manhood's getting queasy,
Fall in line and follow orders, bomb Iraq.
For our might knows not our borders, bomb Iraq.
Disagree? We'll call it treason,
Let's make war not love this season,
Even if we have no reason,
This 13 page document gives details of household spending in the UK, and the opportunity to compare our own spending habits with the average.
This, apparently, is £398 per week, with a range from £130 per week (in the lowest income groups) to £855 in the highest 10%.
It makes interesting reading.
I'm just off to press buttons and get some comparative graphs out of Quicken.
Oh, and put on some loud music to avoid having to listen to the squeals emanating from my loft, which happens to be just 10 feet from where I am sitting. As it is a walk-in loft, it would, presumably, be just as easy for the monsters to walk out. I'm trying not to think about that.
Having wasted all afternoon again failing to make the script for any of the few remaining commenting systems still taking new subscriptions work with this ridiculous template (and crashing my entire system every time I tried to "save changes", let alone publish them - so you will be getting "errors" on the page), I decided to check out the goings on in the loft.
I hadn't mentioned this before, because, well, frankly, one doesn't like to admit that one has problems with..... mice.
Well, we thought they were mice...
BUT, they have eaten all 4 trays of warfarin-laced grass-seed that the nice Pest Control Officer (nearly said Rat Man there, but that is just not PC these days, is it?) kindly supplied yesterday. Despite living next to about 1000 acres of open fields, we have never before faced such a ghastly problem. The cats have previously done their duty. But, recently, we have heard scamperings over the lounge ceiling (and when those happen after just one glass of wine, you know it is a reality rather than a possible delusion)... and scamperings over the bedroom ceiling in the middle of the night... and, horror of horrors, found some nibbled corks in the loft.
I rung the Rat Man for advice.
He sounded worried.
"Please calm down Mrs Blue Witch," he said (he is very polite our Mr Rat Man), "I'll come out again tomorrow lunchtime. There was enough poison there to kill 200 mice, so if it's all gone, you haven't got mice. You must have something more serious."
"Like - what?"
"Well - maybe squirrels, or... well, I wouldn't like to speculate... but, it must be serious."
I can't decide which is worse - not being able to allow people to talk back to me, or the possibility of unknown monsters in my loft.
Earlier I had to go shopping and, while in the supermarket car-park, take some glass bottles to the recycling bank.
As I was standing lobbing the bottles into the skip with as much force as I could muster (you have to understand that it was not an anger management strategy, but purely in the interests of getting the bottles into the smallest pieces, to take up the least volume, to enable more bottles to fit in, hence use less fuel for the lorries that remove the skips when full) an older couple walked up with their carrier bag full of bottles.
"Good party was it?" clichéd the man, seeing my dustbin-sized container. "Erm, no, this is about a fortnight's worth, actually," I said truthfully. He looked fairly horrified.
I noticed a couple of blue bottles down by the brown glass skip.
People never quite know what to do with blue bottles, which skip to put them in.
To help them out, I am currently constructing a new garden feature involving lots of them. I picked up the bottles and put them into my empty container.
"I don't think you should be doing that!" said the man.
"What?" I said.
"Well, taking bottles away," he replied.
I was quite tempted to either:
(a) give him a Blue Witch Paddington-hard-stare, slowly raise my eyebrows and walk away without replying, or
(b) tell him to mind his own [insert your favourite expletive] business, or
(c) ask him why he thought it was better to re-cycle bottles by using loads of energy to melt then reform the glass than to re-use them intact.
But, a flash of inspiration hit me.
"But I like blue bottles," I said.
"Why do you like blue bottles?" he asked.
"I don't," I said, "What are you on about? Blue bottles are horrible, dirty old creatures, they just go about bothering people and making nuisances of themselves!".
I bet he still hasn't worked it out :)
Must be my (non)sense of humour.
But, I do hate people who busy-body about telling others what they can and can't do.
Much more interested in real life and what makes individual people tick than in understanding world / country-wide manipulation by a few (mainly) men with control complexes and something to prove to their mummies.
I wasn't going to start being political or try to pass serious comment on world events on here.
Please can someone explain to me why one of the rotating hourly stories on the BBC Breakfast News this morning shows one President Bush supporting legislation to end the right to abortion in America? Something about poor defenceless unborn babies. Isn't this the same megalomaniac who is preparing to massacre half of the poor defenceless people (including babies) in the rest of the world? Oh PLEASE.
While I'm at it, let's just ask another question.
How long will it be before Bush's Lap Dog, our own Mr Blair, jumps on the anti-abortion band-wagon? Just remember, when it happens, you read it here first.
Right, that's enough controversy for now.
Good job I still can't find a comments box that will work with my template ;)
I'm going to have a lie down.
The first two tiny snowdrops have awoken from their year of hibernation.
Mr and Mrs D'Ove seem to have reached puberty and are speaking in proper coo-ey voices and doing other, erm, dovey-lovey things. Anyone interested in some baby D'Oves in a few weeks time? Going very cheap.
Fluffy, Blue Witch's very long-haired ginger cat seems to have developed a twitch. For some reason she's taken to sleeping under a hedge too, rather than in the nice warm workshop with cosy blankets and cushions to repose on. Why?
I think I must be getting old or something, but I am becoming increasingly disillusioned by the media.
TV that sets out to be funny just isn't funny any more, and the "news" seems to become more and more like an exercise in making a story out of nothing, or being controversial for no good reason, with every passing day.
To be honest, most TV just passes me by. We rarely watch programmes live, preferring instead to video then watch them at our convenience - which is often in bed, on a Saturday or Sunday morning, particularly in winter when there is not a lot to get up for. The thought of having to do necessary things like go shopping on a weekend fills me with horror. But then not everyone has the luxury of not having to go to work and so being able to pick and choose what to do and when.
TV that makes me laugh out loud is invariably of one of two types. Type One is the good old stuff (like The Good Life or Fawlty Towers), and Type Two is the let's watch someone try some venture they just don't have the knowledge/skills for, so are likely to fail at (recent examples include Wife Swap, Property Ladder, and Escape to the Sun). Why do people volunteer to be in Type Two docusoaps? Surely they know by now how it will end up when it is broadcast?
Mr Blue Witch and I share a similar sense of humour, but some things that he finds hilarious (like The Office) just leave me leaving the room. Why is that funny? Don't other people spot things like that in real-life situations all the time? I can laugh more during a trip round the supermarket than I can at contrived "comedy" of that sort.
And as for news - well, an example of what I mean: Delia's "retirement"(or not) has been plastered all over the news today. Why can't the media just tell it the way it is - for god's sake, the woman is 60, let her retire in peace to watch football if that's what she so chooses. Why make a such a song and dance about it? Does anyone really care anyway?
Let's face it, she's made a packet, she doesn't NEED the money, if it's not fun for her any more, then why SHOULD she carry on pandering to the whims of the BBC and opening her home to hoards of producers, directors, cameramen, soundmen and their entourages? I bet she hasn't made up a recipe of her own for years anyway. She certainly doesn't do the on-line chat on her own website herself, nor cook the food that is photographed for "her" books or "her" TV programmes.
Plus, those of us who do know how to cook don't need Delia, and the rest of the country eat out, get take-aways or buy ready-meals anyway!
I hate manufactured news. I hate manufactured comedy.
As a discussion board junkie in recovery, I have today just discovered (rather belatedly) what I consider to be the definitive guide to trolls.
I am quite sure that had I discovered this article a couple of years ago I would have wasted less of my time attempting to moderate (or probably, more accurately, "divert") flame wars.
However, we live and learn.
I guess that the psychology of these people really intrigues me, but I do tend to get drawn into things rather, so a diversion into blogging, where I can be Head Witch in my own Coven, rather appeals.
And if and when I ever manage to get a comments box code that works, I shall have complete control over all the trolls who come trip-trapping across my bridge. For anyone who fancies some acting out, here are the props you will need. Have fun kiddies!!
Well, Blue Witch got Googled for the first time earlier.
If said person, who wanted to know the difference between a koi and a comet, cares to email me, I will point my webcam at my pond and give a 2 minute lecture on said subject. It's the least I can do for them :)
On the subject of Google, I read an interesting article entitled "Google Vs Evil" in Wired Magazine the other day.
A flavour: "The world's biggest, best-loved search engine owes its success to supreme technology and a simple rule: Don't be evil. Now the geek icon is finding that moral compromise is just the cost of doing big business."
A word of advice - best to email it to yourself from the link at the top of the first page rather than try to wade through 5 web pages. Interesting reading though.
We are not victims of our families. We learn patterns of behaviour there - some of which are useful, some of which are harmful. It is up to us what we do with these gifts. We can repeat them slavishly, rail against them, learn from them, or change them. It's up to us.
I have to go out and find a college doing bricklaying courses, and enrol.
When I first heard of the £55,000 pa salaries available to construction workers prepared to work on Heathrow's Terminal 5, I was amazed. So that's the end of the line for all those failing Year 10 truanting kids I have seen in the past? That's some kind of reward for bunking off!!!
Initially I thought that it wasn't a job for a witch with a tendency to back problems. Then I realised that skilled bricklayers don't actually carry their own bricks or mix their own mortar. They just dollop the bricks (brought by those who dropped out in Year 9 - who only earn £32,000, poor things) down, one on top of another, hopefully in fairly straight rows. I can do that! I might even enjoy the scenery of the working environment! Nice outdoor job, where no-one moans if you use the odd blue word.
Then again.... if they pay the brickies £55K, what might they pay the project managers?
Now, maybe that's a better aspiration for a witch. How long before they start on those new runways at Stansted (the ones that are bound to happen no matter how loud anyone protests?
But, as I don't believe in asking anyone to do anything that I wouldn't do myself, I'd better get on with practising laying those bricks.
I have been clearing out the accumulated paperwork of the last 10 years (for recycling, of course).
I am amazed by how far printing and standards of presentation have progressed in that time. 10 years ago, judging by my archives, the mailshot norm was a badly xeroxed sheet, in a hand-addressed envelope, with a real postage stamp on it.
I found a file of gardening stuff, and was surprised that the packets of seeds and bulbs I bought then were virtually identical to those I buy now. All except, of course, the actual packaging. It is amazing how far the photography, the stylisation, the "buy me" words have moved on in that time. It's only looking back on it that I realise it. As "progress" happens, year by year, it passes us by.
I haven't been able to throw out some things. Those that depict social or educational history. All those government documents on the future of Education, issued by long-defunct departments, from 1993 - only 10 years ago - all those promises, all that money. What a waste.
I shall be happier at 10am tomorrow, when the recycling men have emptied my recycling box, removed another portion of my past.
Maybe I should have been more brutal. But I couldn't. I know that it will be even harder to throw it away in another 10 years. Maybe there is something to be said for moving (decluttering) every 3 years (apparently now the national average these days). But, someone has to collect items for the National Archives, don't they?
Why is it that I always get stuck in traffic jams on dual carriageways, where it is impossible to do a U-turn (or anything else about it), when I am dying for a wee?
I do worry for the future - my bladder has, to date, somehow managed to temporarily increase its capacity, but, with traffic getting heavier all the time, when I get a bit older and that bit less continent, what will I do?
The logical thing to do would be to get some of that black window paint beloved of 17 year olds, and a potty, but...
The first in an occasional series of money-saving tips and freebie offers....
Blue Witch likes value.
It says so in the side-bar.
Blue Witch is a thrifty witch.
After all, why spend a pound if you can get it for 99p?
Why spend anything if there's a way of getting it for nothing?
8 free decent-size samples of Original Source products (suitable for vegans and fussy sensitive people like Blue Witch) are available for registering here. Not the easiest website to navigate it must be said, but probably worth investing 5 minutes of your time. The samples are sent out one at a time and you are supposed to have to fill in a short survey on the sample received before you get the next one. This is a fallacy :)
Today a large sachet of Tea Tree & Mint Shower Gel fell through the door.
Luckily it wasn't injured.
Here's hoping it does what it says on the sachet, "For the most motivating and reviving shower experience you've ever had."
Hmmmm..... Blue Witch is preparing to be disappointed. Better to be a pleased pessimist than a disappointed optimist I always say. However, maybe I should use it when Mr Blue Witch is out if it's going to be that good ;)
The post has just arrived at The Coven. A little earlier than sometimes, but not enough for me to be able to claim spelling success on that one, yet.
However, the rude careless scooter rider described earlier today has been busy.
Not busy writing to thank Mr Blue Witch for tending to him in his hour of careless need, but rather busy contacting one of those "ambulance chasing, sue indiscriminately, consequently put up everyone else's insurance premiums" companies.
Said company have written to Mr Blue Witch, enclosing a long form, which is, they say, "...to be completed and returned to the address below at your earliest convenience." Not even a please, a thank you or a stamped addressed envelope.
Well F*CK YOU Mr Scooter Man.
It was at least 50% your fault anyway.
Have you even done CBT?
All proper bikers appreciate the dangers of filtering and wouldn't have put themselves in the position you were in, anyway.
Now you are trying to make money out of your stupidity.
On Monday morning, Mr Blue Witch was wending his weary way to work when an accident occurred right in front of him.
A scooter rider was filtering between two lanes of near-stationary traffic queuing at the end of a by-pass when a Peugeot 206 decided to pull across from the right lane into a gap in the left lane. As the scooter rider did not have his headlight on he was not very visible, and, had he been more observant, he would have noticed the car driver's signal and change in direction and manoeuvred out of the way.
The scooter driver was knocked off and the nearside wing and door of the car were damaged. The lady car driver was very upset and the scooter rider badly bruised and shaken.
Mr Blue Witch jumped out of his car and rushed to help. He secured the area, assessed the situation and called the emergency services (that's one 999 mobile call for him now, to Blue Witch's five - trouble follows Blue Witch around!). He then provided reassurance and soothing words to both people involved until the paramedics arrived. He gave the drivers his name, address and phone number for their insurance claims.
He was nearly an hour late for work, and missed an important meeting he had called.
But, no problem, Mr Blue Witch was happy to help as both the Blue Witches believe in treating other people in the way in which they would like to be treated. In a similar situation, we would hope that someone would stop to help us.
However, neither driver has had the common courtesy to phone, or drop a note, to say thank you. Bad manners like that really wind me up. Careless driver / rider, you are in my spells.
I haven't told Mr Blue Witch this, but on Sunday night I had a nightmare in which I was involved in an accident. I rarely remember what I dream about (probably fortunately), but I woke up feeling that either the broomstick or the substitute broomstick were at risk. The broomstick is a motorbike and the substitute broomstick is a Peugeot 206. Witchy premonition or co-incidence?
I'm still agonising over what to call the two new residents of The Coven. White doves really aren't the easiest things to name.
Last week I found some small pots of miniature irises and narcissi in the local market. The bulbs were only just beginning to sprout, but the hope for the future was there. 3 pots for £2.50. Excellent value (as it says in the side-bar, Blue Witch likes value). I gave one pot to a friend who needed cheering up and put two on the kitchen windowsill. Last night, and earlier on today, the irises were just green shoots.
As the sun has just come out, I went out to talk to the doves (just remember, if you talk to yourself, or animals, you never get silly answers). I asked them what they wanted to be called. They said, "Coo, Coo," but I felt that that was even less imaginative than Mr & Mrs D'Ove, which is what they are stuck with at the moment.
So, I got back indoors, put the kettle on for some witches brew, and, in so doing, noticed that two of the three iris bulbs in one of the pots on the windowsill had opened. They are beautiful - delicate purple curled petals, splashed with bright yellow centres with dark blue spots.
Then, I looked at the label in the pot - the irises are called "Harmony". As one of the alternative name pairs for the D'Oves was "Peace" and "Harmony", I wonder if they are trying to tell me something?
Another of Blue Witch's dislikes is bad customer service.
At least Despair.Inc have a sense of humour on their "complaints" page:
Here comes another dissatisfied customer. In an effort to further reduce our personal interactions with customers, we've added our revolutionary Troubled Ticketing™ system. If you would like to report a problem, simply click the link below, and complete the accompanying Problem Report. After firing the responsible Little Person, their replacement will get back to you as soon as is convenient for us. "
Why do in-store announcements now say things like, "This is a colleague announcement...", "This is a team-member announcement...", "This is a co-worker announcement...", "This is an operative annoucement..."?
What's wrong with the good old, "This is a staff announcement..."?
Blue Witch is 40-nothing and lives with Mr Blue Witch in The Coven, which overlooks a heath (well, OK, which overlooks open, flat fields which are fairly heath-like on a cold January day).
Mr Blue Witch is the light of Blue Witch's life, her rock, her soul-mate and her best friend. Despite Blue Witch trying very hard, Mr Blue Witch is totally un-wind-up-able. He is also very even-tempered, very caring, and very practical. Which is what Blue Witch likes about him. Blue Witch has the ideas and Mr Blue Witch puts them into practice. Blue Witch does spells. Mr Blue Witch does reality.
The Blue Witches have about half a million children (well, OK, only in mid-summer, a lot of the children are very flightly and usually die during the winter). Never ones to be conventional, The Blue Witches have slightly different children to normal people, and to normal witches. Viz (but not in a comic sense):
* Mr & Mrs D'Ove - two white fantail doves (newly arrived and still settling into their dovecote. Actually, they could do with better names, but the only other ones that The Blue Witches could think of were Peace and Harmony or Chalky and Whitey, and neither seemed particularly inspired.)
* An outdoor ginger cat called Fluffy (well, she was initially called a herb name, like all the other Witch cats had been, but herb names were running out by the time she came along and she was stuck with "Lemon Balm", which quickly got shortened to "Balm". Mr Blue Witch refused to be heard calling "Balmy, Balmy!" at feeding time, so she quickly became "Fluffy". Well, actually, she was fluffy before, she just became called it for real.)
* 8 hens of assorted breeds (3 Marans, 2 Welsummers, 1 Rhode Island/Welsummer cross and 2 Light Sussex/Rhode Island crosses. They don't have names. Or husbands. It's more peaceful that way. But they do lay lovely eggs.)
* 32 pond fish of assorted type and length (kois, goldfish, orfes, saratosa comets and some that started off red and are now pink, although they haven't dyed. Yet.)
* Somewhere between a quarter and half a million honey bees.
The part-time residents include frogs, newts, hedgehogs, squirrels and pheasants.
Yes The Blue Witches do have wildlife, if not wild lives!
The spell to sort out the ntlworld servers has served only to make them worse.
What's more, it seems to have upset the Blogger servers too.
Every time I try to change the template and hit "save changes" it causes my whole system to crash. It is very frustrating, and I'm not a very patient witch at the best of times.
The spell to make the postman arrive at a reasonable time also failed. He turned up at 3pm, with a lame excuse about having had a puncture.
Tell me, how is it that on the day before a Bank Holiday, or on a Saturday, he can get his van round here by 9.30am, but on any other day of the week he doesn't appear until nearly noon? I just know it's not a co-incidence.
I've seen his mate parked up in a nearby lane, engine running, radio blaring, drinking tea from a thermos and reading the paper too. I just haven't found which lane my postman hides up, yet. But, when I do...
In the developed world today it is all too easy to get caught up in materialism and consumerism.
Many people are so busy with their work and social lives that they get swept along by the "dream" pushed by marketing and the media. They run around trying to keep all the balls in the air and all the plates spinning. They lose sight of what is important.
Sometimes it takes a life changing experience or event to make us realise what is really important.
You do not have to judge people by the job they do, the clothes they wear, the holidays they take, the car they drive or the house they live in. These are very visible signs. They are easy yardsticks.
Although all these material 'things' are nice to have, I believe that they are not what makes us happy. Those qualities are so much more intangible.
When I was on the hamster wheel, working full-time in a demanding and responsible job, much of my identity was tied up with my professional role. I was respected, well-regarded and successful at what I did. By the age of 34 I had achieved more than many people ever achieve professionally. But, it wasn't enough. I wasn't happy. I would get home every night exhausted and drained. All day I had given of myself to others. There was nothing, no emotion, left for me. I was constantly stressed and looking for new challenges and new opportunities, new ways to 'prove' myself and to prove things to myself.
It has taken me six years away from that environment to learn enough about myself, my driving forces, my hopes and my aspirations, to feel secure again as a person.
It has taken me six years to escape form the mantle of depression that engulfed me.
Along the way I leant the real definition of the word 'friend'.
I also learnt the hard way that some people who called themselves my friends weren't.
I now know how to avoid these shallow and soulless people.
It hasn't been any easy journey.
Often I felt that I had moved forward, only to find that I quickly slipped back.
I could not have made my journey without the love and support of those around me.
They have helped me learn the qualities that my life lacked before.
They know who they are.
And I hope they know how much I value them.
Even in the darkest days I refused all offered pharmaceutical support.
I knew that I had to make the journey alone, without crutches, and that, however long it took, I would one day somehow know that I had entered a new phase of my life.
That time seems to have come.
For the first time I am writing about my experiences without worrying about what people might think.
I don't mind what anyone thinks any more.
In fact I don't care what anyone thinks any more.
That was one of my problems before, I cared far too much about what others were thinking.
With hindsight, I can now see that they probably weren't thinking much at all; they were all so busy on their own hamster wheels.
To all those people who've been a part of my recovery, I dedicate the poem below.
Amazon's synopsis says, "Cult bestseller The Invitation is more than just a poem. It is a profound invitation to a life that is more fulfilling and passionate, with greater integrity. Oriah Mountain Dreamer invites readers to get a life instead of buying into a lifestyle."
"It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.
It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrows, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ectasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it's not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, "Yes!"
It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments."
What more can I add?
Maybe the hope in the lyric from Hot Chocolate:
"When you can't take any more; when you feel your life is over; put down your tablets, and pick up your pen, and I'll put you together again."
There are always people who will be there when they are needed.
If you need that kind of support, try asking.
And if you're one of those people who are "sorted" enough to be able to give that level of support, the rest of us thank you.
Currently cooking - a spell to make ntlworld servers more reliable. And to get them to put outages on the server status line so I know it isn't just my system playing up. Have you noticed how servers only ever go down when you desperately need to send or receive email, or get on the net? Or is it just me?
Long-term cooking - a spell to make broadband available in this area. Boss-man at BT told me we're not even in the 5 year plan. 29 minutes to download an email with a 3.14 MB file is unbearable. I think I'll chuck a few old telephones and telephone directories in the cauldron, to see if it helps speed things up.
OK, so I do do spells sometimes, OK?
Just not right now, cos I'm not in the mood.
But, yesterday afternoon, Blue Witch was again to be found laughing, lots.
Countdown, that oft-parodied C4 show, beloved of retired peeps, had a younger-than-average contestant who made the word "moshing" out of the usual jumble of letters. When asked what it meant he said, "I don't know, it's just something I heard somewhere." Obviously an inspired evasive answer. Either that, or he was mind-fuddled by that new psychedelic set. The one that makes even Richard's ties look like they are in good taste.
"Moshing?" said Richard, and Carol, but, alas, they were proved to be reading from extinct versions of the dictionary, and said contestant duly collected his points.
Just never forget, Blue Witch was a punk the first time around.
But that would be giving away a few secrets, now wouldn't it? :)
Of course, given encouragement, Blue Witch might be tempted to reveal more... maybe even a few pixels of a picture. Maybe....
Most things can be recycled these days, if you care enough about the planet to make the effort.
At The Coven we are fortunate enough to have weekly kerbside collection of cardboard, paper, plastic bottles, textiles and steel cans (although it did take 2 years of moaning to the local council to be included in their scheme as we are rather rural here).
We try not to buy "overpackaged" products, and reuse plastic containers and plastic bags whenever possible. Kitchen scraps are eaten by the hens or turned into garden compost, glass bottles and jars get taken to the recycling bank when I'm passing (no special journey or it would defeat the object) and aluminium cans net 1p each when taken to the local alu recycling centre. Confidential documents and name and address panels from junk mail are shredded (yes, Blue Witch is a touch paranoid - but believes in being better safe than sorry!) and composted.
The local council provide several permanent recycling sites and also put temporary large skips in villages across the area for disposal of large items and garden waste which the refuse collectors (nearly said "dustmen" there, but that's not pc any more, is it?) have been instructed not to take in the normal household waste collections.
Why then do they not provide any sort of recycling facility for used household batteries?
Used power cells are one of few items that should NOT be put in general rubbish. It even says so on them!
So just how are people meant to dispose of them round here?
They won't just magic themselves away you know...
(NB We do use rechargeable batteries where we can, but some things (eg cameras) can't be run on them due to their instant high power demands.)
Blue Witch used to like chocolate. These days she is more savoury than sweet, but can occasionally be tempted into being unsavoury.
These episodes are usually few and far between. But, recent Life Events have made Life in the Coven more like Life in the Convent, and a Witch has to get her pleasure somewhere.
Under other circumstances, Blue Witch probably wouldn't have succumbed to the delights of Terry's Snowball (white chocolate orange), or to the white chocolate Milky Bar with entombed Smarties (seen only in Woolies). But, it has to be said, they were both quite delicious. And, by eating them, Blue Witch saved Mr Blue Witch some New Year dieting.
On the subject of Smarties, one of those mysteries-that-you-carry-round-in-your-head-but-never-actively-seek-the-answer-to was solved for me the other day when I stumbled upon the definitive guide to Smarties tube lids.
Blue Witch is well known as a collector of "stuff". Very useful "stuff", but, none-the-less, more "stuff" than Life Laundry usually remove from all the houses they visit in a whole series. Fortunately there is enough room in The Coven for all of it. And somewhere in The Attic, there is a box containing a large number of old Smartie tube lids. Which must be worth a fortune. To someone. If I wanted to sell them. Which I don't. But, like much of the other "stuff", it could be a better long-term investment than a pension plan. Well, that's my theory anyway, and I'm sticking to it :)
And, is Blue Witch the only one who remembers Terry's Chocolate Lemons?
I'll do a few spells and see if I can get them re-invented for next christmas. Oh dear, I've mentioned the "x" word. Tsk, tsk, and it's only the 11th of January.
A male whale and a female whale were swimming off the coast of Japan when they noticed a whaling ship. The male whale recognised it as the same ship that had harpooned his father many years earlier. He said to the female whale, "Let's both swim under the ship and blow out of our air holes at the same time and it should cause the ship to turn over and sink."
They tried it and sure enough, the ship turned over and quickly sank. Soon however, the whales realised the sailors had jumped overboard and were swimming to the safety of shore. The male was enraged that they were going to get away and told the female, "Let's swim after them and gobble them up before they reach the shore."
At this point, he realised the female was becoming reluctant to follow him. "Look", she said, "I went along with the blow job, but absolutely refuse to swallow the seamen."
All my spells have been to no avail.
I have battled the urge for 3 months now.
I am giving in.
I am unleashing Blue Witch on the world.
Last year I'd have blamed these urges on diamond geezer, but, as one of the New Year's Resolutions that I'd have made if I believed in making any (which I don't) was to be more positive, I shall positively reframe that and instead thank him for giving me the opportunity to improve my html skills (which would have been another of my Resolutions).
Why don't I believe in New Year's Resolutions?
Because, in my case, they would be better named New Year Revolutions as:
(a) the same ones could go round and round every year and never be accomplished, and
(b) it would take an uprising to get me to stick to them.
So, New Year Resolutions are like raffle tickets. I don't do them, then I'm not disappointed.