The Nice Lady is Back!

Owing to popular demand (thank you, Auntie Elsie) and the fact that my sortie into the world of gainful employment has been (voluntarily) terminated, I am happy to announce the reinstatement of themerchantstale.com. A quick re-cap on the website reminds me, dear Reader(s) that I left you just at the point of taking up a post as "Cover Supervisor" at a local secondary school - more of that anon but let me say now that it was not all bad but certainly not all good either as, on my very last day after I had generously explained to a gloriously ignorant Yr 9 history student that it was The Gulf War and not The Golf Wars under discussion, I was labelled "a f*****g muppet". Do I regret my resignation? No.

The other event of note during last September was unexpectedly finding a buyer for our house in Convenience Close on Onceuponafarm Estate and thus moving in November to a rental property of similar not to say identical design on the other side of the Middletown tracks in Twitchers Turning, Gazeuponafactory Estate. The fact that this house is identical to our previous abode is naturally a great boon as we had no worries about accommodating furniture, visiting daughters or, thankfully, cats. The only fly in the ointment, initially at least, is that this house is a mirror image of Convenience Close and so we found ourselves in a parallel universe with a twist. I cheerfully admit to some slight confusion in the kitchen, throwing spoons on the worktop and attempting to cut bread in the sink but I managed to orientate myself a little bit quicker than Brian who, for the best part of a fortnight, exited the master bedroom to the left instead of the right and thus attempted to access the staircase via the chest of drawers on the landing.

By Christmas we were straight and ready to receive daughters in search of home comforts. Actually it was only Daughters 2 and 3 as our firstborn preferred to celebrate our first Christmas in the UK for five years in Brighton with the mates she sees on a weekly, if not daily basis. In future bulletins, if mentioned, she will now be known as "Kevin" (pace Harry Enfield) until such time as she wishes to reclaim her title as Daughter Number 1. A good time was had by all in Middletown with lots of low key lolling about although Daughter Number 2 and I were not thrilled to have our mid-morning in bed tete a tete interrupted by Brian moaning outside on the landing that "no-one is interested in my erection". Well, what do you know? Number 2 retreated under the duvet yelping about "too much information" while I wearily donned a dressing down and went downstairs to admire the newly installed Christmas Tree. Later that evening as the lights fused and we ran out of sherry, I began to feel that we were enacting a Robert Earl Keen song and when both daughters demanded to "borrow" tampons, I knew we were. I don't know what was more astounding: the fact that by their mid twenties, the arrival of their "monthlies" (as they were once helpfully called) still takes my daughters by surprise (I suppose all those useful Xmas stocking calendars went straight to landfill) or the expectation that at the unripe age of almost 54, I might have any such supplies to hand. Anyway...

Daughter Number Two brought her old boyfriend.
We already know what we think of him
And Baby Daughter brought her new boyfriend
He was not a Mexican
He was a Buddhist......
Poor Dad, he found it was all too much
So Mum broke out the booze and kicked him into touch
Merry Christmas from the famileeeeeeeeee

Yeah, well it sounds a whole lot better in a bar on 6th with a top shelf 'Rita in your hand (and another in your stomach)

And what of Good Sir William, I hear you cry. Well, of course he made the transition with us and turned not a hair, only raising one quizzical eyebrow as if to say, "And the point was?", a question I sometimes ask myself in the wee small hours when yet another weekend of searching fails to unearth the mythical house of our dreams. The "other way roundedness" of the house fazed him not at all although the lack of cat flap posed a slight problem. However, after a couple of days of sulking we settled into a routine of resigned house arrest during working hours and freedom to roam after 4 o' clock. I use the term "roam" very loosely because William, although extremely fond of the Great Outdoors, is happily not a wanderer and, unlike another family member, has a very good innate sense of direction. Twitchers Close also offers the valuable bonus of a thrilling daily parade of assorted foot traffic, especially that of a canine variety. The range is wide from the ubiquitous pair of silly Yorkies to a stately black Pyrenean Mountain dog, a posse of 4 Boxers (wonder what their house looks like?) to individual spaniels, collies, labs and an annoyingly belligerent Jack Russell. A sunny windowsill or the protective gloom of an under car chassis provide excellent viewing stations and endless fascination.

At this point I feel I must relate an unfortunate, not to mention, surreal incident of a couple of weekends ago. Whilst working through the ironing to the accompaniment of "Come Dine with Me" (More 4, omnibus edition) I was disturbed by sounds of multiple yapping and, alarmingly, a little girl's screams. Remembering that William was taking the air, I feared the worst and rushed to the front window just in time to witness a most extraordinary succession of images: first, a girl of about 9 running at full pelt with a Yorkshire terrier puppy clutched to her chest, her open mouth emanating the most unearthly shrieks, second, a lady following at the double, dragging an adult Yorkie on a lead and third, a rampant Sir William in full blood. As I gazed dumbfounded, the lady bent down to scoop up her doggy and a split second later William sprang aloft and dealt it a smart blow between the eyes. He then proceeded to chase the malfeasants and their humans across a busy road almost to their front door at which point I, in bare feet, last year's fashion faux pas of Primark piggy pink linen trousers and no makeup also arrived on the scene to compound their horror. After profuse and shocked apologies and an offer to pay any necessary vet's bills (me) and a contemptuous glare accompanied by much tail lashing (him) we retired to safety behind locked doors just in time for Brian to emerge from the garage and ask what all the fuss was about. William has confided to me that he does not wish to divulge the exact nature of the incident which had so upset him but a distinct wiff of odious (odoriferous) Yorkie all down his back tells its own story. He has told me, however, that apposite as his former titles (Prince William, Sir William, Sweet William and others too intimate for publication) undoubtedly are, henceforth he shall be known, to the local canine population - and Brian - as William the Conqueror.

I expect you are wondering how I am filling my unplanned for leisure time? Well, the moment has finally come to own that my Texas-induced avoir du pois has not only not melted away since our return to Blighty but solidified and multiplied, no doubt helped on its way by all the consolatory flapjacks bought from the staff room refreshment trolley. No vain soliloquizing or procrastination for me though, it's off to WeightWatchers on a Tuesday morning in my old pre-Onceuponafarm locale, crafty timing as anyone who is likely to know/remember me should be at work. I am certainly one of the youngest, least portly ladies attending this particular club but determined not to rest on my rather dusty laurels even if the scales did reveal the loss of a very encouraging amount at my first weigh in (officially 2lbs as, according to my resident Jonah, "anything more than that is simply not sustainable"). We'll see. Anyway, I got a "smiley face" on my record card, a round of applause and some hateful looks from the unpleasingly plump lady to my right so honour has been satisfied for this week.

The end of yet another month draws nigh; where the time went nobody knows. Next month Themerchantstale may, with a following wind (and I think WeightWatchers home made vegetable soup could serve a dual purpose here) make the transition to a an official blogging site. Details to follow.

Bravo Mervyn King. I had deliberately refrained from political/social comment in this episode but after hearing the 6 o'clock news headlines wherein City bank managers are whining that Governor of the Bank of England's comments on their behaviour "while true, are unhelpful". And just how unhelpful to the global economy has been the irresponsibility, incompetence and colossal greed of these so-called managers? Never mind the reported resurgence of TB; lack of public and private accountability could prove to be the most pernicious disease of the 21st century.

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