Phones, Moans And Interlocutions….

“I’m not really that interested… just waiting for food…”

I am the first to admit that I am not the slightest bit tech-savvy. I have no idea how to use the downstairs television which Mr.CC has wired up to various devices that seem to require an inordinate amount of remote controls, and a combination of buttons to press that resemble the invocation of an ancient Egyptian entity… so I don’t touch it.

I have a love/hate relationship with my laptop ever since it deleted/ate 37,000 words of a novel I was writing… everyone’s a critic… I never managed to retrieve that and I didn’t back it up either, but thanks to my fondness for written plans and an exceptionally good memory I managed to repeat and complete the lost novel for NaNoWriMo…

Now, of course I back everything up everywhere, even emailing copies to myself – thank you Marje for that wonderful little tip – including burying handwritten copies at the bottom of the garden by the light of the full moon… Well, maybe not the last bit.

Since my laptop has updated, though, it seems to have undergone a personality change and is now behaving in a much kinder and more reasonable way. Perhaps it just realised it was dealing with a thickie as it now explains things – most of the time – in words of one syllable and it asks me frequently if I want to “SAVE”. (“Save? Save what? The world? Of course! Oh… my work… right… )

I am a lot more at home using my mobile phone – I have a Huawei and although I know they are not viewed particularly favourably at the moment, 5G, spying and so on and so forth I bought my phone before all that kicked off and I view its tendency to anticipate my wants as rather endearing… “Here! Look! Let me show you this!”

It has a lovely built in camera that allows me to point, click and hope, sufficient memory to maintain a reasonable social media presence and of course it holds my music collection. Generally I have no complaints at all – apart from one thing. The predictive text option.

I don’t know how to turn it off. I thought I’d managed it once but it reappeared like a persistent and annoying rash… I saw on one social media site a meme that likened predictive text to having a small, permanently drunk pixie living in your phone and I thought this description was very apt.

The Predictive Text Pixie – hereafter known as the PTP – that lives in my phone seems to have either a very salacious sense of humour… or a particularly low opinion of me. I can’t decide. It seems to think I spend most of my life waiting in suspenders and when I wanted to text my elderly uncle and congratulate him on his magnificent display of nasturtiums, well, the alternative the PTP offered me was positively obscene…

The PTP likes to make amusing substitutions too when I am trying to text people, much to their confusion – “Don’t be stupid Samantha! Of course I didn’t want fourteen tins of dog meat!”

I suppose it keeps Life interesting though – and me on my toes… I have absolutely no idea where the briefcase full of used notes in small denominations came from…

Skin Deep…

Now. I’ve never been particularly into makeup, foundation, blusher, lipstick and all the other doohickeys that go along with wanting to present a well-groomed and beautiful face to the world. Skincare for me was limited to the “cleanse, tone and moisturise” regime for a while till even that went by the by and my routine was to wash my face in cold water (“Much better for the complexion dear” – I can hear my grandmother’s voice now…) and then slap on some moisturiser, usually the supermarket’s own brand, on my face and hands and then I’m pretty much good to go.

However… as I’ve got older a couple of issues have come into play. As I’ve said I’ve never bothered with makeup other than the absolute essentials because I simply don’t know how. I can plant up a border for all year colour and whip up a batch of sourdough naan breads but ask me to tell the difference between a highlighter and a contour brush then I’m stuffed…

Alex, on the other hand, or rather his super-glamorous alter-ego Lady Dioxide, is a dab hand with all sorts of beauty related items to the extent where the sight of a pair of eyelash curlers induce a vague sense of panic in me. Matters came to a head for me when I noticed I was starting to look a little, um, weather beaten. Naturally, I asked Alex for advice and on our next foray into town we stopped at a well-known chemists and purveyor of beauty products where a very helpful lady sorted me out with something for the mature skin, plucked seemingly at random from the countless array of …stuff… on the shelves behind her.

“Here!” she chirped merrily. “Try this!”

So I did and I must say that I did actually notice a difference. When I ran out of it and had to go without for a week I went storming back in to buy more and endorsed their product by declaring; “I’ve run out! I need more! Look at me! Just look at me..!”

But since then, I have managed to balance my desire to be less wrinkly with a wish to use cruelty free and vegan products with a range from a well known health food shop and the occasional application of a luxury item from the chemist…The advertisements for some of these products though – they sound like something I would either use to clean the patio or patch up a wall… “Re-surfacing”… “dermabrasion…” and I am highly suspicious of putting anything that contains the word “acid” on my face, hyaluronic or otherwise.

Mr.CC said something to me once in the early stages of our relationship, along the lines of how he liked the fact that I wore little or no makeup since he knew what he would be waking up with… I was in the garden the other day when he reiterated this opinion of my – ahem – usual appearance, as I glared up at him, kneeling between the miscanthus and the gaura, clutching a handful of dead nasturtiums, hair stuck muddily to my brow with sweat, dirt on my face and weeds in my pockets.

“Yeah…” he said thoughtfully, “natural beauty.”

Bless him.

So, the supermodels can keep their hi-def eyebrows and resurfacing chemicals… I’ll just keep applying the dead leaves and mud dug up from under the apple tree and mixed with pond water…


Nothing wrong with my eyesight!

I have mixed feelings about glasses – the optical variety, not the drinking vessels, they’re generally quite useful, although they have their own separate issues… like somebody very kindly left me a dead moth once in a glass of water I was drinking, and I have to be careful at my mother’s since Rocky, her dog, will cheerfully sample anything you leave within reach.

But anyway. Glasses. Spectacles. Face furniture. Nowadays they seem to be quite a chic fashion accessory, with various high-end labels available, and they also serve other purposes than to enhance or correct faulty vision, like filtering out blue light. Whatever…

I wear glasses for one reason and one reason only. I am incredibly short sighted. To the extent where I have bent down to pick up a piece of fluff only to have it sprout legs and reveal itself as a surprise spider. I have greeted people seen from a distance as good friends only to approach closer and find out that I have absolutely no idea who they are. Conversely, I have blanked people I have known for years until they are up close and personal… social distancing notwithstanding.

Shortsightedness coupled with absent mindedness can be entertaining – I have taken my glasses off to put face cream on, wandered off, distracted and forgotten where I’ve put them and been too short sighted to find them… I solved that problem by having tactical emergency glasses placed around the house at strategic key points, rather like fire extinguishers, so I can go to one of these points, collect a spare pair of glasses then return to search and locate my original pair…

My shortsightedness was first discovered at the tender age of four – I couldn’t see what the teacher was writing on the blackboard from my desk, so conveniently placed at the back of the classroom, so I had to get up, walk to where I could see the blackboard, memorise the chunk of writing, return to my seat and copy it down. Did wonders for training my memory but understandably irritated everyone else to the point where my my teacher told my parents. I have no idea why they hadn’t noticed, but anyway, off I went to the optician’s and my world was restored to clear and wonderful focus. I could see! Every blade of grass, every whisker on my cat’s face.

And then it began… “Specky four eyes!” and other imaginative insults since I was the only kid in the class who wore glasses. However, I persevered, as being able to see kind of outweighed the stigma, but it was interesting to see how the insults changed as I got older. “Men never make passes at girls who wear glasses.” Really? I’ve had my share in the past…

But I reached the age of 18 and made my first foray into the world of contact lenses. Again, fabulous to be able to see, although you do feel as though your eyes are very wide open… But I discovered too that contact lenses could present their own problems. Ever tried taking a contact lens out when you’ve been drinking? After clawing desperately at your eyeball for half an hour you give up and fall asleep only to wake up in the morning with it immovably shrivelled onto your corneal surface…

Back to glasses then. I have very specific design requirements when it comes to my glasses – I don’t like heavy frames, the colour has to be right, likewise the shape to hold the specially thinned lenses, and they have to withstand other outside forces too. My optician once asked me, appalled: “Are these teeth marks on the arms?!”

“Um, yes… the cat got hold of them while I was asleep…”

But my current optician is a lovely, kind and endlessly patient man, and my present pair of glasses had been recognised by him as the perfect pair for me. He put them carefully aside until it was time for my next appointment, whereupon he produced them with an air of quiet satisfaction:

“Samantha, I saw these and thought of you…”

Storm In A Teacup – #BlogBattle

This is the first time I’ve tried the BlogBattle…but with a prompt word like “tea” how could I resist…

The woman stood at her kitchen sink, gazing out thoughtfully over the back garden. It was mid-morning and the sun still hung low in the sky, shining with a gentle warmth that heralded a pleasant day.

She turned from the view of her neat little garden and moved to the counter to switch her kettle on. While it hummed into heat she reached up into a cupboard and pulled out a thick china mug, its solid weight a comfort in her hands. She turned it in her grip, feeling the heft of it, then set it on the side as the kettle reached its purring crescendo and clicked companionably off.

The woman deftly flicked a teabag from a cannister into her mug, carefully filling it with the gently steaming water till it rested a perfect inch below the thick china rim. Shimmering whorls of translucent brown rose from the teabag and into the hot water which gradually took on the warm even hue.

The woman bent her head over the mug and inhaled as the fragrant warmth rose up into her nostrils; she breathed in the scent of delicately dried and blended leaves, the rich warming perfume filling her mouth with anticipatory saliva. When the tea had infused sufficiently, she reached over for a teaspoon and fished out the teabag, giving it a slight squeeze against the side of her mug.

Quickly, she added a spoonful of sugar, just enough to taste, and she watched carefully as the tiny white crystals mounded on the sugar spoon and then tumbled merrily off the edge and into the liquid below where they dissolved instantly. The woman crossed to her fridge and pulled the door gently open, taking out the plastic bottle of milk and tilting it so a tiny stream fell into her mug.

She stopped as the milk spun through the hot tea in an opalescent spiral, then picked up the teaspoon and lifting her mug delicately in both hands she walked to her kitchen table and sat down, with her tea in front of her.

Then, quite gently, still gazing thoughtfully into the distance, she began to stir.

Anticlockwise, widdershins, the old way, she moved the teaspoon around the mug, and the tea followed the curve of the spoon obediently, gathering pace.

Some miles away, out at sea, a spiral of thickening cloud began to form and a chill wind made its spiteful way ashore to tug at the tousled blonde curls of a girl as she clutched at the arm of the man beside her. He glanced up nervously at the sky as the clouds began to pile up in pillowy heaps of grey, bruising the previously cheerful blue sky.

At her kitchen table, the woman steadily stirred her tea, a tiny crease forming between her eyebrows as she frowned slightly in concentration.

“Hurry up!” the man ordered brusquely, nervously, tugging the girl anxiously by the hand after him onto the little boat.

The storm clouds slid silently over the harbour and the sea rose up to meet them, frothy curls of whipped white. Thunder muttered menacingly and the little boat began to buck like a skittish horse. The girl gave a tiny squeal of fright as the deck shifted beneath her feet and the man sought to comfort her.

“Sir,” the anxious sailor said, “sir, I really wouldn’t put out in this -”

“Rubbish, are you afraid of a little rough weather!” the man said derisively but in his heart he was afraid.

Miles away, in her sunny, bright kitchen the woman stirred her tea – smoothly, continuously, as the heavy swollen clouds hung over the harbour and released their burden into the sea, vicious rain that thrashed the sea into frenzied waves that took the little boat and shook it like a terrier with a rat.

The man reached desperately for the hand of the girl as miles away his wife abruptly stopped stirring her tea, dropped the spoon onto the tiled surface of her kitchen table and lifted her mug to her lips.

She drank.

The little boat and its passengers were lost.

The woman stood up and moved to the sink where she rinsed her mug and left it neatly inverted on the side to drain.

“Come Fly With Me…”

Wonder what he’s humming while he washes his hands… “Fly me to the moon..” “I believe I can fly…”

Now. I know flies are an irritation and a nuisance and not the most hygienic of creatures either – but they are, if you look at them, little marvels of Mother Nature’s engineering…

The true flies derive their name from the Greek, “Diptera” meaning “two winged” and have compound eyes, which roughly means that their vision of Life appears to them in mosaic form … fascinating… yet also despite having compound eyes, flies are actually short-sighted. I feel a certain kinship with them in that respect.

Our winged friends make themselves particularly noticed during the summer months. To try and deter their presence in her house, my mother bought one of those fly curtains which are basically coloured strips of plastic hanging from a rod you fix above your door frame thus hindering the access of flies and other unwelcome visitors.

I was only too happy to assist my mother with fitting it to her door frame, and then we stood back and admired it. I agreed she was indeed fortunate to find one in black and white which matched the colour scheme of her kitchen. Then, as we stood and watched, a fly flew in through the hanging strips of plastic with the absolute precision of a computer aided jet fighter pilot, made a swift circuit of the kitchen and exited again with deadly accuracy through the millimetres-wide gap in the hanging plastic strips of the fly deterrent curtain. I looked at my mother.


On another occasion, my home was fly-free, or so I thought, and I was quite happily pottering about upstairs tidying when –


I was joined by a large and cheerful housefly. It buzzed in self-importantly:“Hi! And how are we today?” – smacked its head against the mirror, then commenced that infuriating desperate scramble up and down the window that they do…

I don’t like killing things mindlessly, so seizing my opportunity I opened the window and used the blinds to waft the fly outside to freedom … I resumed my cleaning…

“zzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!! Hi! And how are we today?”

The bloody thing had flown straight out of the window, gone downstairs and round to the back of the house, found the back door open and flown right on in again…

Despite my annoyance, I did find it quite funny and to be fair, these little creatures oft-maligned still have their place in the Universe as one of the tiny cogs that deal with the various aspects of decomposition. Mother Nature’s solid waste technicians if you will.

And they are the source of a joke that I originally heard as a child and still find (shamefully) funny now…

What do you call a fly with no wings?

A walk…

Sourdough…And Surprises!

And this is how it all began…the surprise being that it actually worked!

I am joining in with Chef Shoko of http://The Canadian Cats and Da Phenny over at and this is my offering..

There seemed to be a thing here for making sourdough bread in the wake of the pandemic as yeast took on the scarcity of unicorn tears. I was footling about on the internet and I saw someone say how you could harness natural yeast, feed it with flour and water and lo and behold you have your very own thriving, bubbling yeast colony, ready to add to a multitude of wonderful recipes. If the first bit works…

The jar on the right (George) is ready to use, you can tell from his bubbles, and when you open the jar, there is a pleasant, yeasty smell.

Now. Generally I am fairly easily discouraged when it come to my baking ability, but I persevered with this because the whole idea of making something out of nothing appealed to me…

I followed a basic recipe where you use 400g flour – so far I have only used bread flour, to roughly 7 and a half fluid ounces of water, with 12 – 14 g of starter.

A useful hint is to “autolyse” the flour and water – basically just stir them together and let it sit in a warm place for an hour or so…this lets the gluten in the flour absorb the water and do its stretchy thing.

Then you can mix in your starter, cover it up and leave in a warm place to prove. You don’t get as much rise as you would with traditional yeast, that’s why it’s left longer. Some people leave theirs up to three days, I find overnight is generally good.

Now you can start playing…through trial and error I discovered bun tins work best for me, also, grease and flour your tins before use, that way it comes out easier.

This was one of my earlier attempts. Not long enough in the oven…

Sourdough bread is more close textured than usual bread, something to do with the gas given off by the yeast and expanding..

I should also mention it’s a wetter dough too but don’t worry about it, just flour your hands and pull it about to shape, or scoop into tins – whatever. You’re aiming for a stretchy dough that is almost translucent. I had to enlist the service of Mr.CC as I have pulled a muscle weeding..

And there you go. I have discovered you can add stuff before you bake like poppy seeds…I must also say sourdough has a unique chewy crust, so to get this, put a little dish of water in your oven to make a steam effect.

These are poppy seed and cranberry…Don’t forget, a wetter dough means a slightly longer cooking time. I seem to be averaging 35 minutes with these little buns. Test by tapping on the bottom – if it sounds hollow it’s generally done. I tip mine out and let them have two minutes extra just to make sure they are cooked inside.

Then enjoy! They freeze well too and I promise you will feel positively prehistoric in your baking triumph!

“Tulips From Amsterdam”…Well, My Garden…

Isn’t it funny how standards just gradually slide… away…. I say this because I have spent the last four days in my gardening trousers and dressing gown. I did get some funny looks when I ventured out, but..strange times.

We have been lucky with the weather so I have been out in the garden. I love renewing my acquaintance with the flowers of every season as they come through and at the moment it’s tulip time.

Ice cream anyone..these ones remind me of raspberry ripple!

I will spare you my rendition of “Tulips From Amsterdam” by the immortal Max Bygraves, but my grandad used to sing this song to me when I was a little girl, and it’s one of my earliest memories, walking round the gaden with him and admiring the silky petals and vibrant colours of these popular flowers.

These orange ones are fabulous, paired with the white…

Grandad had a fondness for the red tulips, I always thought the black stamens resembled spiders’ legs, but when I grew up and got my own garden I planted some tulips bulbs of my very own as a matter of course.

One for you Grandad…

Now. Although tulips are generally associated with Holland they actually originated from the Ottoman Empire – modern Turkey – where they were cultivated from a native wild flower for the pleasure of one particular sultan in the 16th century.

This year’s Suffragette Corner….

The word ‘tulip’ comes from the word for ‘turban’ or ‘material’, I think, but the shape of the petals and their silky texture always remind me of harem pants…the bulbs were imported from Turkey to Holland where they became so popular and sought after they created their own economic bubble.

I love the purity of white flowers…

They were even used as currency at one point, although I am pleased to say I buy my bulbs at a much more reasonable price, but you can see why they were – and still are – just so popular! Look…

These frilly edged ones are known as parrot tulips, the purple ones are as rich as velvet…

“Stay At Home…”

Firstly I must say that I hope everyone is safe and well. I confess I thought this staying at home thing would be easy, plenty to keep me engaged… here is a little break down of my past week.

Day 1:

Make list of everything that I need to do, then notice the sun is shining so get sidetracked and go outside where I end up moving three azaleas and planting some radish seeds.

Day 2:

Look at list. Make cheesecake. Eat cheesecake while binge watching so much “True Blood” and “American Horror Story” I feel my brain has turned to mush and will probably slide out my nose if I bend over.

Day 3:

Look at list. Think about doing at least one item on the list. Go outside. Find garden gnomes and instruct partner to repaint said garden gnomes. Argue over what to call garden gnomes. Him: “No, you can’t call them all Dave!” Me: “But why not? They all look like Daves!” Settle on compromise of calling one Dave and the others after the cast of “True Blood”. Dig large hole at the bottom of the garden and eye partner speculatively till he retreats nervously indoors.


Day 4:

Look at list. Throw list away. Make trifle. Eat trifle. Go upstairs to tidy bedroom, have a little sit down on the bed and fall asleep, only to wake up and find not only have I drooled in my hair but I missed “Gardener’s World” too.

Day 5:

Decide to go out. Make comprehensive list of everything we need. Go to shop. Discover list is at home and return with pickled beetroot and cat food, neither of which were on the list.

Day 6

Go through music on phone. Play “Crank That ” by Soulja Boy Watch “Crank That” video on YouTube. Learn steps of dance to “Crank That”. Practise steps in front of mirror. Show assembled cats my version of “Crank That” by Soulja Boy. Run after cats as they flee in horror from my “cranking back”.

“Perhaps if we keep very still she’ll just run straight past us…”

Day 7:

Tidy wardrobe and throw old clothes away. Realise you don’t know when you’ll be able to get out and buy new clothes so retrieve previously discarded clothes, carefully replacing errant woodlouse outside.

Seriously though friends, I write to raise a smile in these difficult times – it can help, as does gardening. If you don’t have a garden, try growing something from your fruit or vegetable scraps – I have a thriving celery plant that has its origins in a large supermarket..The sense of achievement is lovely, as is the sense of looking after something living and growing.

Check out some book lists – various libraries around the world are offering thousands of books to download for free. Do something physical – not necessarily “Crank That”.. – just something to get the blood moving.

My version of a sourdough starter…

Eat if not well then at least inventively… A few ideas at any rate. And of course, look after yourselves.

A Mere Trifle…!


It’s enough to make a cat laugh when we’re in the kitchen…


Now, bear with me friends as I don’t often do this sort of thing (mainly because I don’t know how and since my technical support – i.e. Alex – is still at university this is a sort of seaty-pantsy thing with the help of my lovely friend Jean from the Canadian Cats who is doing a fab new thing with the help of the equally lovely Da Phenny and Neilson…  In Puursuit of Flavours    where the idea is to share a recipe.

So here goes..I’m afraid it was just Alex’s father and I who did this as the cats were still in hiding..that will be explained in my next post.

This is our take on a recipe adapted from the truly wonderful Mary Berry, white chocolate and cherry trifle. You can make it more gown up with the addition of a suitable liqueur, or change it up by using plain sponge instead of trifle fingers…basically just make it up as you go along.

The ingredients…

Put your fingers – the sponge ones – at the bottom of the bowl then make your jelly and pour it over, cursing as the fingers float…summon partner with fork to hold them down while you pour over the rest of the jelly.

We used black cherry flavour jelly.

Pour over the totally delicious cherry pie filling…cut tongue licking the lid of the can…


Get distracted by pain in tongue and burn chocolate in microwave (I didn’t think it was possible but somehow the chocolate became one with the bowl..)


Alex’s father unleashed his inner Gordon Ramsey and took over, melting the chocolate over boiling water, then you combine the melted chocolate with the custard. In the absence of either child or cat I took over the onerous job of…licking the bowl.


So..custard on top of cherry filling..what next? Ah yes! Cream…


Whip the cream till it’s standing in soft peaks – make sure you sample it plenty of times to make sure the consistency is just right – then smooth it over the top of the custard. Then you can decorate…go wild… we stuck with the cherry theme..

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However…we felt it needed a little something else so we added crumbled chocolate…


Then eat. In moderation. Of course.

I hope you enjoyed our contribution to In Puursuit of Flavour, do go and have a look at the other featured recipes.


There… And Back Again… Eventually.


My recent lack of organisation and spiritual malaise – my grandiose excuse for a massive dose of writer’s block and butterfly brain – seems to be catching and spreading…

I live in the East Midlands, in Nottingham, and I have written before of my love/hate relationship with this city. Sometimes known as “The Queen Of The North”, Nottingham was first mentioned in the Domesday Book as “Snotingaham” – “the place of Snot’s people”, appropriate perhaps for the founding of one of the country’s biggest and best teaching hospitals. We have a healthy literary heritage too, D.H.Lawrence and Alan Sillitoe, to mention a couple; and prior to 2015 the city even won awards for its public transport systems.

Right. Note my use of the word prior. Now, as you know, Alex is at university in Loughborough, a distance of roughly twelve to eighteen miles depending on which route you take. A distance which should at most, take forty minutes, dependent upon route and transport – possibly even shorter as the crow flies. A mildly arthritic and directionally challenged crow should still reach Loughborough in a reasonable amount of time.

Last week Alex invited his father and I to attend “Proud” which is a talent showcase for the LGBTQ+ community at the university, and which Alex and his boyfriend have hosted, in drag, every year for the past two years. This year’s was set to be particularly important and emotional as Alex had arranged it all himself and it was their last chance to do it as they both graduate in June.

Obviously we said we would attend.

Currently, the East Midlands is both flooded in places and suffering from a rash of roadworks which can reduce the city’s traffic to a standstill. Knowing this, I factored in plenty of time for our journey as we don’t drive and are reliant on the buses. Also, I have to plan journeys quite carefully as Alex’s father suffers from a similar form of anxiety to myself that needs every eventuality planning for. [ “What if we meet vampires?” “We won’t, but I’ll take extra garlic just in case”… well, maybe not that extreme but you get the idea.]

Anyway, we caught our bus at the perfectly acceptable time of 4.45 pm, allowing plenty of time to get into town and make the connecting bus to Loughborough. The bus was bowling along quite smoothly until Alex’s father uttered the immortal words: “We’re making good time.” From then on, the outward journey was jinxed. Nottingham was not going to let us go without a struggle it seemed… At one point, it took us fifteen minutes to cover a thirty yard stretch of road. If I had been by myself I would have left the bus and run, possibly roaring, as it would have been quicker, but Alex’s father is suffering from a tendon injury and is limited as to how much distance he can cover.

I saw our chances of making the half past bus rapidly receding. However, we reached the stop and got off, still in plenty of time for the next bus, due to the extra time I had factored in, then we waited. And waited. I began to run anxiously back and forth between the stop and the corner, catching sight of the ominously bubbling Trent river and an electronic sign that flashed certain villages on this route are not being served due to flooding.

B&*@$%ks!” I thought, and returned to Alex’s father to say perhaps we should consider the trains and send a reassuring text to Alex. Thankfully, at that moment, the familiar jolly yellow bus appeared and we all boarded with various grumbles from the other passengers. I asked the driver one question: “Do you think the buses will be on time coming back?” And that was it, he selected me as his travel buddy, directing a running commentary over his shoulder to me, about how it had taken him over an hour to get from one point, he’d only done this route as a favour, he was never doing it again, was it always like this here? All of which made me feel quite… anxious.

When I’m nervous – or cross – I laugh, which can be confusing apparently – and Alex’s father thought this would be a good time to tell me about this dream he’d had where he was bidding in an auction and woke himself up by yelling “Here!” Of course, this tipped me over the edge into hysterical snorting laughter, tears and mascara running down my face…

We made it to Loughborough though. The enforced sitting had stiffened Alex’s father’s leg to the extent where he could only move at a weird kind of hobbling hop. So. There we are, me hair flying wildly, grubby-faced, sweating and rattling with crystals, roaring (inside) accompanied by Alex’s dad, hunched in pain, yelling every other step, running through Loughborough. We’re a joy to know…really…

Then Alex rang me. “Where are you?!” “I don’t know. Loughborough, somewhere.” “Well how far away are you? I don’t know how much longer I can hold the show!” “I don’t know! It all looks different in the dark! We’re running past some rugby fields!”

Just then Alex’s dad bellowed “I see it!” and the triangular roof of the students’union hove into view, beguilingly lit in purple neon. “We’re here! Bye!” I shouted breathlessly and took off again. We crashed through the doors and into the main lobby, eerily deserted, then straight ahead we saw the venue. I pushed the door open – Alex’s dad had diverted to the bathroom – and elbowed my way as unobtrusively as possible down the central aisle, right to the front, where we were seated with the Vice Chancellor of the university, the chaplain, another guest and Alex’s boyfriend’s father who greeted me jovially: “Ah, you’re here, V.I.P at last!” I replied loudly, waving my arms all encompassingly, narrowly missing the bottle of wine: “Yes, terribly sorry, the traffic was a little challenging!” And sat down, taking a large gulp from the glass he had thoughtfully poured for me and spilling most of it over my trousers.

Alex’s father made it back and we enjoyed a pleasant evening of entertainment, songs, jugglers and dancing, then it was over and we had a little time for chat and explanations. We were asked if we were staying over and I replied quite indignantly that no, we had to get back for the Girls, which upon reflection makes me sound like the madam of a nineteenth century bordello. I also remember telling Alex’s boyfriend’s father about how I got lost in Wilko’s that morning, although admittedly it was quite a funny story… culminating in my mother having to ask the security guard to look for me. [“And how old is your little girl Madam?” “She’s forty &*&*…”]

Now, this lovely man, who had climbed Everest, and been on safari listened bemusedly while I told him how I got lost in the kitchen section, patted me consolingly on the arm and gestured towards the stage. “You should be up there!” he said and wandered off..later I did wonder if he meant cleaning… or performing…

We said our goodbyes and left, knowing that we had to factor in time for roadworks, limping and rain, but fortunately we made good time, even stopping for a brief restorative glass of wine at a pub near the bus stop while we waited. Alex’s dad troll-hobbled to the bathroom and I laughed, catching the disapproving glares of several girls who obviously thought I was a dreadful person for laughing at the poor chap…but then we were on the bus home.

Into the city centre then the bus back to our house, to be greeted by four furry disapproving faces…””Where have you been?!”

“And what time do you call this, then?”