Friday, August 29, 2014

50 years on: Growing up the hard way

50 years ago this week, my best friend at school was killed in a car accident. She was 8 years old. It was the summer holidays and I was staying with my town Granny at the time. She saw something about the accident in the local papers but didn’t mention it to me as she wasn’t sure that I would know who was killed.

I remember it was the evening of the Sunday when I got home that my mother finally told me about the accident. I was sat on the toilet and she stood the other side of the door and said to me that I wouldn’t be seeing my friend anymore. I asked her if my friend had moved house (friends often moved without notice as far as I was concerned). When she said that my friend hadn’t moved, there was a pause while she waited for me to realize what had happened. I think you can imagine how upset I was.

 As it happens my country Granny was there (probably having brought my two sisters home from her house the same day). My granddad had been run over and killed by a car a few years before, it can’t have been easy for her. She simply told me not to cry as my friend was up with Jesus. That’s all that I needed to comfort me and I still have the picture in my mind of a boat sailing through the stars with my friend sitting in it and Jesus standing at the head of the boat.

Over the years I’ve often wondered what my friend would have been like – would we still have been friends?  When my youngest sister married in our village church, I was one of her bridesmaids and I took one of the flowers I was carrying and left it on her grave. Not long after that I saw her surviving twin brother and told him that I’d left a flower for her; he was so pleased that I still thought of her.

I used to think that my mother was a coward for the way she gave me the news. Now that I have three children of my own, I realize how difficult it must have been for her. I’ve always been grateful to my country Granny for knowing exactly the right words to comfort me.

The first morning back at school made me realize that the news wasn’t just mine. When the teacher walked into the classroom, one of the boys put up his hand and proclaimed “Sir D…… is dead!”

Monday, August 25, 2014

Flies and not nice


A couple of weeks ago we had quite a few flies buzzing around the house. There is a farmyard across the road so it’s no surprise in hot weather. Olivier suggested I buy fly spray or sticky strips. I think sticky strips are disgusting to look at and spray means humans get dosed with chemicals too.

 I researched online and tried out three homemade traps: I cut three plastic water bottles in half and put sugar syrup in one, cider vinegar with water in another and the third was a fruity smelling washing up liquid, in my case grapefruit, with water. The tops of the bottles were turned upside down and placed to make a funnel down to the trap. The idea is that flies are not clever enough to find the way out again.

 Results: Not one fly got caught in a trap and I have the feeling that not one fly was tempted. I managed to swat one or two in the early in the morning when they were still sleepy. I got double scores a couple of times when I managed to swat mating couples (you can really creep up on them when they are at it). The flies have disappeared now as the weather is a lot cooler. Perhaps they took the hint?

Not nice 

Rob and I are trying very hard not to use the word nice. I didn’t realize how much I used the word. The challenge is to find another adjective to use. The synonym finder has been very helpful, but is a little heavy to lug around in my handbag .

 One afternoon while out on a walk, we went through the alphabet trying to find alternative words to use. We haven’t found a nice beginning with X yet.

 Do you know what or who a “nice-nelly” is?