Over at my Mum’s. Clear skies but exceedingly chilly yesterday, so a fire was called for, and this morning there’s a sprinkling of white everywhere after overnight brief snow showers.

tree with autumn leaves against blue sky


sitting room fire


back fiekd with light snow cover

It’s arrived!

The just-released expanded 3-CD version of Eartha Kitt’s “Live in London” season, with additional material on the 3rd CD. I was Production Manager for this show, at the Shaftesbury Theatre, and there are some of my memories, and a couple of short video clips from a “60 minutes” TV show, under “shows” here.

3 CD covers on table


There was a most glorious sunset here at Green Mount yesterday. This pic was taken from my attic bedroom window, zoomed in to the gap between the trees at the far side of the back field.

sunset between silhouetted trees

not good things

My elderly Mum has been without a phone service since early Saturday morning – it’s now Wednesday lunchtime. She relies on this for her fall alarm and other emergencies (mobile signal is intermittent in most parts of the house). She has severe osteoporosis, so a fall would be serious,. She lives on her own, with carer visits, so is unattended for usually 14 hours overnight.

I’ve raised a formal complaint, and appealed on Facebook for any suggestions of a way of putting any pressure on Openreach. I’m feeling a bit guilty about not going over to stay, but it’s not really possible for me at the moment.

In other news, it’s now 18 months since I started recording my diet and weight. My maximum weight, a month before I started recording things, was just over 74kg. I’ve been struggling a bit not to put back the weight that I lost last year: a couple of serious depressive episodes haven’t helped.

The “steps” count is a bit misleading – on a bad day it might be 500, on a good day up to 12500. The good news last month was that I’ve achieved my main objective of no longer being pre-diabetic (I’ve slightly modified my diet), so in that sense weight loss is secondary, though a useful monitor of how my diet is doing.

graph of weight loss, currently 68.1kg

garden bits

I’ve been eating the “Bloody Butcher” tomatoes for some ten days now – they’re ticking along at one or two most days, but are rather small. The “Pink Brandywine” is still miles behind! It only seems to bear at the very tip of the vines, so far … The ever-reliable Black Russians are very nearly ready.

Also in the garden … some iris reticulata arrived yesterday – I’d ordered them a couple of months ago, on special offer, for a “despatch when ready”. They’ve now been planted, between the drumstick aliums and the agapanthus. I’m not terribly optimistic about their survival, as they prefer a better-drained space than I’m able to give them, but here’s hoping!

"Bllody Butcher" tomatoes on vine


"Black Russian" tomato ripening against brick wall

Canal stroll

Phoebe and I went for a decent stroll down by the canal at lunchtime. I was very taken by a bright-blue flower on the other side of the canal, just by the Bilford Road bridge, though I had no idea what it was. A Canal & River Trust worker noticed us looking, came up to us and asked if we knew what it was, as he didn’t. Nope, no clue … but I took a photo.

Getting home, and putting it into my wildflower ID app, it turns out to be pickerel weed. Delighted to have identified it, partly because I’ve heard pickerel weed mentioned but had no idea what it looked like !

bright blue pickerel weed flowers, green leaves

getting greener

I’ve added a few (well, three) pages to this blog, under the “getting greener” heading. I thought it was about time!

Much of this week has been about tidying the house, as Phoebe is coming to stay in a week’s time (and I’m away on Monday, and hope to make it to the Worcester Festival on Sunday, so there’s actually not a lot of time available!).

looking back a decade

Ten years ago today, I was walking Maurice up the High Road to his usual Monday appointment. It was not a usual Monday. The High Road was closed to traffic, with burnt-out building and cars a grim reminder of the weekend’s rioting.

Nothing has changed in Tottenham – it’s still a powder-keg waiting for another spark. Drug-dealing, deprivation and despair are potent fuel, the government possibly even less inclined to recognise the situation than ten years ago.

I’d already accepted an offer on my flat when the riots happened, so they were not the cause of leaving London for me – I’d always said that Tottenham is not a place for the old and disabled, and intended to leave the area before retirement.

Burnt-out Post Office from the back
Burnt-out Post Office from the back – the High Road here was still closed

the iconic Carpet Store
the iconic Carpet Store

burnt-out car
One of many burnt-out cars

the future?

There’s an email group for a couple of dozen of us who were all at school together. It’s been very active over the last 18 months of lockdown and covid-related problems – up from a couple of hundred emails a month to over a couple of thousand, though as lockdowns are released it’s tailibg off again.

This morning, one of my schoolmates (AWK) posted “I’d love to hear what ‘forward-looking’ ideas others have (if any), on a personal, social, maybe global basis

My response is below. It’s very much a snapshot of how I feel right now, rather than any kind of more general reflection!

On a personal level, some time ago I came to terms with the fact that my life has reached the “gently winding down” phase. The house I live in was chosen partly because it will be easy to adapt as I get older and more disabled (stairlift keeps being postponed, but will eventually become inevitable, downstairs loo, and so on). I have a garden just large enough to grow a few veg and assorted flowers, which affords me enormous satisfaction and occasional frustration. I’m happy living on my own, and don’t expect to enter another relationship – but if one turns up I wouldn’t object (my Mum got her last boyfriend in her late 60s, a relationship that lasted over 20 years until he died last year, so I suppose it’s not impossible). I pretty much expect to carry on gently declining for the next few years, and don’t really think that I’ve got more than seven or eight years left. But I’m content -even happy – in my present situation.

Socially and globally, I try not to despair. There are causes I fight for, though I don’t expect to “win” in my lifetime. I’ll settle for averting the worst possible outcomes rather than achieving the best! Now that “gay rights” here in the UK has progressed from illegality to broad acceptance over a mere half-century, my efforts – such as they are – have largely switched to climate change issues, and the “social justice” that I think will be a necessary accompaniment. As always, I’m a more behind-the-scenes type than a figurehead, but I have allowed my arm to be twisted to Chair the local Green Party branch. Individual action is all very well (though it often has the side-effect of making the individual horribly self-righteous: there’s a fine line between leading-by-example and being a pestersome bore). What’s needed though, is systemic change,and there are the odd signs of some progress being made, even discounting the flood of “greenwash” and deliberate disinformation put out by vested interests.

The political and humanitarian problems of climate change (desertification and water shortage leading to mass starvation, social unrest and population migration) are becoming apparent, and are things for which I have no answer – I’m afraid that I’ve taken an ostrich attitude as a result.”