Well that’s not Cricket!

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Yep. I know it’s not a cricket but I spent ages looking for one, couldn’t find one, got bored, sat down and then this obliging little chap hopped on my knee!

Alex and I went to visit my sister – this was a few months ago now – but while we were in the kitchen talking, I gradually became aware of a noise … faint, but distinct and very persistent. I thought perhaps her fan oven was making a weird noise, or she’d set an alarm and left it on somewhere upstairs, forgetting to turn it off.

Eventually, I could ignore it no longer – “What is that noise? I asked, irritated by her seeming acceptance of it.

Lisa – my sister – looked somewhat resigned and replied: “It’s a cricket.” In answer to our puzzled faces she went on to explain: “I bought a box of live crickets to feed David’s bearded dragon and one escaped. And now it’s living behind the cooker.”

I couldn’t help myself … I burst out laughing. The cricket joined in, merrily chirping away from its new abode.

Alex asked: “But what does it eat?”

Still snorting with laughter I said: “It’s probably eating all the dogfood and growing to massive proportions, snugly tucked behind your oven!”

Lisa paled somewhat, clearly not relishing the thought of Cricket-zilla squatting in her kitchen … coming out with the dogs… sitting for its dinner…

Right! That’s it! I’m evicting it tonight!”

We took our leave, I cheerfully reminded her to message me to let me know what transpired at Cricket-gate… Later that night I received an irate text saying: “Can’t get the bloody thing. Now it won’t let me concentrate, just keeps chirping all the time!”

I replied saying she should think of it as her very own brand of ambient music, some people pay good money for recordings of things like whale music…cricket song… I heard nothing else for the rest of the evening, and indeed the rest of the week. Most unlike my sister.

Meanwhile, the cricket chose to accompany Lisa with some choice pieces of background music in whatever she was doing until one day she decided shereallycouldn’tstanditanymore

Now. My sister is only small, and had at the time broken her toe, having fallen up a step; yet with irritation levels threatening to overflow she managed to haul her fridge/freezer halfway across the kitchen floor to make enough space to pull the cooker over a bit so she could crawl behind it to catch the cricket. Suitably armed with a plant pot the battle began … they raged back and forth in the limited amount of space behind the cooker until in a last ditch heroic effort my sister launched herself across the floor and rugby tackled the cricket, trapping it firmly beneath the plant pot.

She lay, for a little while, catching her breath while the cricket chirped away in the pot, perhaps pleading for mercy… But no. Lisa got to her feet, clutching the captive cricket and took it outside to the very top of the garden where she left it sitting miserably inside the plant pot.

Back indoors, she made herself a well-earned cup of tea and sat down to do a little relaxing sewing. What was missing… ? The silence was, well, deafening. I remarked upon it myself, the next time I saw her.

Well, I don’t miss the bloody thing!” she stated defiantly.

Then one night, later on that week, she went to the kitchen door to let the dogs back in:

Ee-ee ee-ee ee-ee!!”

She looked down.

And there, at her feet, on the step, sat the cricket!

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Larvikite And Light.

 

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I didn’t think I would ever be writing about crystals again, but this little stone made a personal impression on me. Like most of the darker stones ,it is highly protective and so works with the lower chakras.

I picked this particular little stone up out of a mixed lot one day, momentarily drawn to it by its flashes of blue – it’s a type of feldspar, similar to labradorite and moonstone, hence its alternative names of black or velvet labradorite or sometimes even black moonstone.

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It was first found in the Larvik area of Norway and is specific to that region. I put my little stone away and thought nothing more about it, until waking up one morning, I remembered I had dreamed about it. I can’t recall the exact details, but I was suddenly possessed by the overwhelming need to get this stone out and look at it again.

Could I hell as like find it…

Until eventually it turned up in the first place I had originally searched for it, like it was reminding me I need to be more careful about how I look at things.

Finally, I was able to hold this little stone – about the size of a sugar lump – and look at it properly. It’s a pleasing mixture of different shades of grey, my favourite colour, with occasional glimpses of a startling electric blue.

It seemed happy to be found and stuffed into my pocket with the rest of my usual rammel and I felt – calmer.

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I went away to read about it and was absurdly pleased to find that Larvikite’s abilities seem to cover a lot of what I needed. It can protect you in your everyday life and even while you sleep. It’s cleansing both physically and spiritually, helping to remove negativity and encourage a positive flow of energy instead.

It’s the first crystal in a while that has had such an impact on me – it helps to untangle thoughts and enhance concentration, and is a comforting stone to use in meditation as it encourages you to look for the Light…

It’s been a challenging few months for me, but Larvikite has a strong connection to Mother Earth and Nature – basically it reminded me that I enjoy gardening and to get out there and re-connect…

The luminescence encourages you to look at the past, clearly, and see how it is influencing your life right now. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all ‘Love and Light’ but its clarity helps you to make conscious, positive decisions.

Does this sound too far out?

You should hear the dreams I’ve had since sleeping with it under my pillow. Totally… far out. And no, I haven’t changed my medication

The other evening I was watching television, my larvikite sat beside me on the arm of the chair, when my partner walked past. He can be a bit grabby with my crystals which I find annoying, but anyway, my larvikite was having none of his unwanted attention.

He reached out to seize it and – this is absolutely true – a spark of blue static electricity shot out and stung his finger.

Ow!” He yelled indignantly.

It bit me! What the f*&k is it??” shaking his hand and looking somewhat affronted.

Oh,” I replied nonchalantly, “that’s my larvikite. Very protective.”

No s*&t!” he muttered and stomped off to the kitchen.

I held this little stone in my hand and was comforted, I suppose. So there you are.

Look for the Light – no matter what form it takes!

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Smelly…

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My sense of smell has vastly improved since giving up smoking, although obviously humans don’t have the ability to smell as acutely as dogs or cats.

It always amuses me when my mother’s dogs greet me, I can see their noses actively working to “read” me and decipher where I’ve been; but it has also recently been put forward that in fact cats have a better sense of smell than dogs.

Here’s the science bit… all mammals have three different types of scent receptors, dogs have nine variants of this, humans have two and cats? Thirty… It is thought, therefore, that scent and smell play a far more active part in a cat’s well being and health than previously assumed. I must say though, that any self-respecting cat owner is bound to be aware of their feline friend’s almost supernatural sense of smell…

Oh my God… what is that perfume you’re wearing?? Vile!!

And they will grace you with that gape-mouthed, whisker wrinkled expression of complete distaste that leaves you feeling vaguely inadequate and revoltingly smelly… This is actually more correctly known as the “Flehmen response” – cats have a special scent receptor in the roof of their mouths which helps them analyse what hey are smelling, hence the disgusted look they pull as they open their mouths to allow the scent molecule laden air in to flood their receptors… try not to take it personally. Or maybe just change your perfume…

Anyway, I had to buy some peacock feathers the other day (a costume for Alex) and I had laid them out on the bed while I looked for something to pack them in safely. When I came back, Charlie was sitting on the bed, studying the feathers intently. I wished then, that I could see into her mind – what was she seeing?

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Her little nose was working, wrinkling back and forth, and I would have loved to have known what pictures were conjured up in her little mind as she smelled the iridescent feathers… did she see majestic blue birds strolling serenely across well-kept lawns, their feathers gleaming under the heat of an Indian sun…Was the lush verdant jungle, so unlike our own garden, brought into being in her mind’s eye, emerald green vines wreathing the long-forgotten remains of mysterious crumbling redstone temples…did these foreign scents call to her own inner tiger… or did she merely think:

Good grief! That’s the biggest bloody sparrow I’ve ever smelt!”

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There… And Back Again!

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Sometimes I long for the closeted private sanctuary of my own car as I travel about. But, then again, I have no confidence in my own ability to focus sufficiently to drive a car – too away with the fairies most of the time.

My abortive attempts at driving were given up after about eight lessons and a near miss… I took a wrong turn down a country lane on a foggy autumn afternoon and my instructor innocently remarked:

It’s a good job no one saw us – they’d think we were up to no good!”

This served to send me into a fit of hysterical giggling as I drove across (literally across) an unexpected roundabout and my endeavour to become a capable driver ended…

On the other hand, I would miss the weirdly prophetic bus tickets we have here – just look at some of the code words used – as good as any deck of Tarot cards! “Write” is the one that appeared when I was feeling particularly low – I took this as Universe encouragement. “Elbow” – when I was troubled by a nagging pain in, yes, my elbow which spurred me on to visit my doctor for a steroid injection which cured it. “Mouse”… I’m still waiting…

Plus the fact you hear such extraordinary snippets of conversation. My favourites from the past week or so – on the same journey, actually – involved a girl, sitting behind me, talking loudly on her mobile to a friend:

“… and I said ‘Really? It counts as one of your five a day? I didn’t even know it was a vegetable!’ She said ‘Well of course potatoes are vegetables! What did you think they were?’”

To which this girl had replied: “Oh I just thought they were these like starchy things that grew in the ground…”

I was quite glad she was sitting behind me actually, so she couldn’t see the look on my face…

The next snippet – an older lady got on the bus with her wheeled walker and noticed a friend seated over the way. They obviously hadn’t seen each other and the friend listened attentively as she ran through her catalogue of ills. Her next statement made me snort with laughter that I quickly had to disguise as a not-terribly convincing cough…

I’m not going back to that care home though! I can’t be doing with it, all that fighting!”

Her friend leaned forward:

Whatever do you mean?”

You can’t get a minute’s peace – they’re always fighting over the darts on the telly and it’s not just the men!”

That sounds dreadful,” her friend replied, clearly shocked.

Oh I know, I can’t get along with it, not when I’m having chemo as well! Ruby knocked Doris down them little steps! I’m going to ask my grand daughter if she can get me moved…”

At this point, somewhat reluctantly, I must confess, I had to get off the bus as it was my stop; but for the rest of the day I was plagued with questions in my head … did the girl get over her surprise about the nature of potatoes, or was she further traumatised when she encountered something like rhubarb… grown like a vegetable but treated like a fruit…? Should I perhaps watch darts to see if I could understand how the game could induce such rage? Was Doris ever revenged upon Ruby for tipping her down the stairs?

Would the care home in question be a possible future residence for my mother…

My Mother … And Me.

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I was waiting for a bus with my mother after we’d been shopping and it was at that time of day when the older generation are out and about. Now. My mother is obviously a pensioner and, as such, has some of the obligatory traits – spontaneous deafness, an unerring ability to stand right in the way and a bat-like sonar system that allows her to smash her shopping trolley into my shins – I’m sure you get the picture.

However, she has always had and manages to retain an ability to flirt charmingly with the opposite sex. By her side, I feel somewhat of a galumphing idiot, in my younger days notable only to men for my ability to drink most of them under the table and my astonishing breadth and knowledge of swear words…oh the benefits of a private education…

Needless to say I am not a flirt. I have never mastered the art of blushing delicately and peeping coyly upwards through my eyelashes, fingers fluttering at my throat… Nah. I’m far more likely to sneeze and fall over.

This particular day, as we were walking towards the bus stop, my mother and I both happened to notice a smartly dressed man, dark hair, beard (just my type) talking on his mobile. As we passed him, he lifted his head from the screen, breathed in ostentatiously and said: “Ladies – somebody smells nice!”

We both turned to look – oh yes, he was even nicer close up – and my mother blushed prettily. I highly doubted it was me since I was lightly scented with my usual blend of cat food and bleach, perhaps with overtones of patchouli essential oil from where I had knocked the diffuser over and tried to mop it up with a sock that I was wearing.

Looking up at this man, head fetchingly on one side, my mother said: “Oh it’ll be me! ‘White Diamonds’,” giving him one of her dazzling smiles.

Oh, I’ll remember that!” he replied and walked on, with a smile of his own.

My mother grinned to herself, serene in the knowledge that she still had “it” while I inelegantly hauled her shopping trolley onto the bus, managing to tread on my own foot in the process. The man (of course) got on the same bus as us and winked at Mum as he sauntered down the bus to a seat, while I was attempting to stuff a frozen pizza in a shopping bag and swearing as the cat treats emptied themselves with malice aforethought into my handbag…

The man settled himself into a seat just in my eyeline and the bus set off – the journey itself is worthy of a separate post – and when we reached her stop, Mum got off in a ladylike fashion as the man waved at her…

Oh well. Clutching my cat food, pizzas and a packet of lily of the valley bulbs that had burst and was shedding its powdery compost gently over me, I lurched out of my seat and stumbled off the bus, only to sneeze and fall over…

Apology:

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Right. Have you stopped messing about?

Yes. I think so.

Are you going to write again, properly, and just get over yourself?

Well… I’ll try.

Good. Apologise to your friends and readers for messing them about and get on.

Sorry. Sorry everybody. It’s been – difficult. But I think I’m back now.

Only in Nottingham

I have a love/hate relationship with the city where I live. It holds some particularly unpleasant memories for me, but also some reasonable ones. I am always pleased to go somewhere else, but if I’m away too long, I start to get anxious.

Home” for me is definitely the North, where I’m from, where I lived when I was younger, where my ancestors are from, where my great (x4) grandfather, Michael Pallister was born in 1664 and married Isabel in 1712.

But Nottingham is where I live. It’s a funny place, and the people are… unique. I witnessed some examples personally a few weeks ago as it was Alex’s father’s birthday and he wanted to go out for dinner and then have a “few beers” afterwards.

I didn’t much fancy going out to be honest, I had my usual spring chest infection and was on antibiotics, so I couldn’t really “drink”, but Alex and his boyfriend came over and I really felt I ought to make the effort.

Dinner was pleasant, “Son Of Steak”, does a nice meal at a reasonable price, although I find the name oddly disquieting, as I do the large, blue painted cow outside. I managed to drop a chip, obligingly covered in tomato sauce, all the way down myself and onto my clean linen trousers, where it mashed itself against my thigh so it looked as if I had been stabbed there…

Then we moved on to pubs. Usually I drink vodka, but obviously being on antibiotics it’s not advisable to consume alcohol – you can vomit and I am extremely emetophobic – and arachnophobic – worst nightmare, being trapped in a room full of vomiting spiders… but I thought I would have a white wine spritzer just to be companionable and make things bearable.

The first pub (not my choice) was, bizarrely, playing Motown music and inhabited by blonde women dressed in Seventies style, complete with Farrah Fawcett hairdos. Alex and his boyfriend were soon bopping away on the dancefloor to Stevie Wonder, his father was haranguing me about Brexit (and drinking my spritzer as well as his beer) while I gazed morosely at the crowd of revellers and coughed.

Next pub (also not my choice) was packed full of hipsters. I didn’t realise they were quite so much ‘a thing’ till I had this opportunity to observe them in their natural environment… pushing past the beards, egos and eco-friendly outfits I crawled onto an absurdly high barstool at an uninhabited table and coughed a bit…

Alex’s father harangued me about Brexit… Alex and his boyfriend discussed the merits of the tonic water flavour they had chosen, cucumber versus elderflower (really? Bleuchh -) and I gazed absently out of the window. Several groups of people passed, dressed variously in neon lycra camouflage, tutus and deely boppers, and comic animal costumes…

I watched as one girl dropped something out of her handbag, then deliberately turned it upside down and emptied the entire contents of it out onto the floor. Then she lay down on top of them.

Right outside the window where I was sitting, an elderly man wearing a child’s stetson, took a cucumber from his pocket and shot a lad who was walking past him. The lad obligingly staggered backwards, clutching his chest, before carrying on with his mates.

After a couple more pubs (none of which were my choice) we caught the last bus home (my choice) and I was finally able to retire to my bed, surrounded by cats, crystals and butterflies, reflecting on the oddity of where I live.

Downstairs, I could hear Theresa May’s voice pleading, while Alex’s father ate toast.