About Me

Llantwit Major, Wales, United Kingdom
I am mother, librarian, avid reader, sf fan, writer (unpubished), singer(amateur), animal lover, needlewoman.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Catch up

Gosh - I'm not very good at keeping up with this......

I am watching the dedication of the memorial to Bomber Command on the tv, and find it extraordinary that it has taken so long to have something.  There is controversy about the saturation bombing of Germany during the war, but that was not the decision of the airmen, those who lived and those who died.  The airmen were doing something that they thought was essential to save freedom and save Britain from Hitler.  I remember my father talking about it, as he used to fly Pathfinder Mosquitos, leading the bombers and marking the targets.  He said as he grew older he doubted the morality of the saturation bombing of Germany, but he said that during the war he - and his colleagues - didn't have doubts, it was bad, but it was needed.  There had been bombing of civilian targets in Spain and Britain by German planes, the war had been going on for years, and Germany was the enemy.  I'm glad they have finally created a memorial.  And I am very glad that they have dedicated it to all civilians who died as well.

In the last two weeks I have been to London, built a wind break in the garden, been on holiday in Pembs where we managed one afternoon on the beach, made curtains, went back to work where I have spent a ridiculous amount of time wrestling with a misbehaving computer system.

I have decided to blitz curtains.  The tv room curtains are - when I thought about it - 30 years old and looking tired, so I have bought some new ones.  The rest will get a wash and brush up.   I'm not great at housework either........

Monday, June 18, 2012

War Horse

Last Thursday B and I went to London for a very busy day.  We had originally booked to see a new opera by Detlev Glanert - a German composer - called Caligula that B wanted to see.  As we were going to London I said I wanted to go see War Horse in the afternoon, so we booked that too.

We went to Kate's near Reading, so got to London good and early and went to John Lewis to look for curtain material for the cottage.  We have been looking for curtain material for a looooonnng time, because the original ones are really nice, but are stained and faded so need to be replaced.  However the windows are very small and very deeply recessed, so the curtain material needs to be very light.  We did finally find some!!  Hurray.

Then we had lunch at Jamie's Italian - outside - and it was lovely.  I had a seafood plank (antipasti) and B had the meat one. I had smoked salmon, smoked mackerel pate, cockles and mussels, deep fried little fish bits.  Fabulous.

War Horse was as good, if not better than everyone had said.  B came because I really wanted to see it but absolutely loved it.  It has everything.  It is imaginative, clever, uses music, drama, lighting, acting, puppetry, pathos, humour, narrative, everything.  I had read the book, and have watched the film, so knew the story, but that didn't matter.  Spielberg made the film more sentimental, as one would expect, though I thought he did a reasonable job on the film, and the horse in the film really did deserve an Oscar.  However the stage show is extraordinary.  The puppets are so realistic, and act so like horses.  It is stunningly good.

We met some friends for dinner, which we enjoyed, and then all of us went to the theatre to see Caligula.  We had a pleasant surprise when we got in because we got upgraded to the stalls - nice!  However......

The opera suffered from produceritus.  It is a very common ailment in opera - they feel they have to do something "different".  I think the subject matter was a bit iffy anyway, because using Caligula as an archetype for any loony dictator is a bit of a blunt instrument, however add a very unsubtle producer and it ruined any hope of an enjoyable evening.  The opera was set in a stadium with all the seating and an entry area.  It made all the rest of the opera nonsensical, which was a great shame.  If you shut your eyes and listened then the music was actually lovely and it was actually far more pleasant.  It reminded me of my reaction to Tristan a short while ago.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Prefer Puccini

I went to the opera again last night and once again it was a glorious day - the first for ages - and so I go into the theatre.  What is it about opera and nice weather?

I did spend the day in the garden and got the weeding done and planted the plants I'd brought back from B's so the garden is looking quite pretty now, and much less weedy than before.  I have to weed after rain because the clay soil gets baked so hard in sunshine that the trowel just bounces off and you can't get near any roots.  As my garden is full of couch grass which is all roots I need to hit it when it has been rained on.

La Boheme was lovely.  All the singers were excellent and so was the production - quite stunning visually as well as aurally, so despite the uncomfortable chair it was fabulous.

Less fab was discovering that I will probably have to work till I am 65.

Up to 15 years or so ago I was due to retire at 60.  Then they decided to make women the same as men and for a long time I was  in the middle of the scale moving women to 65 so was due to retire at 62.5.  That is when the State pension would begin, up till now I could chose to retire from work under the terms of the Local Government pension at any time after the age of 60. 

Then the lovely (!**) government decided to  move the goal posts again and my State pension moved away from me so I wouldn't get it till just short of my 64th birthday (about 1 month short).  As my colleague who has a January birthday in the same year as my July birthday stayed at 62+ I did feel miffed (along with lots of other people I suspect).  As Brian has already retired it was more annoying, though I could still retire earlier and just not get the State pension till 64 (if I could afford to). 

There is a sense I find now, as I am approaching 60, of feeling that I need to make the most of the next 10 years before increasing age may prevent me doing things.  I may be lucky and be very fit past late 60s but  one can't presume that.  As B is 4 years older that adds to the sense of time slipping by.

Now the latest Local government pension scheme agreement has come out.  It isn't final yet, it has to go through lots of hoops before that but it seems likely that it will go through and in many senses it is very fair.  The one thing that made my heart sink is that they are bringing in a minimum retirement age of 65.  If you retire before 65 you will actually lose a percentage of your pension - so it isn't a matter of ceasing to add to your pension which is what would happen before, you will actually have some of the already accrued pension taken off you.   This means that I will now have to work till 65.

I know that those younger than me will have to work till 67 or more but I have a strong feeling of something which was nearly in my grasp being snatched away at the last minute.  Those a few years older than me have slipped under the bar and missed the changes, those more than 5 years younger than me have a bit long to acclimatise perhaps (though the idea of doctors, firemen, policemen and teachers working till 67 is madness!!!).

It has made me feel surprisingly depressed, more than I expected when I first read it on Thursday.  I know it is only one year extra, but .....

Monday, June 4, 2012


To be fair I haven't paid a lot of attention to the Jubilee, other than being glad of the extra day off work, but we did watch some of the pageant on the Thames yesterday and I did feel so very sorry for everyone.  The weather was so awful that you could see it coming down in torrents on the tv, which means it must have been much worse in reality.  For the Pageant Master (what a great job to put on your passport!) after 2 years work it must have been something he had no words for.  Nevertheless it was lovely to see all the boats and ships and the Thames full of craft. 

I was very impressed by the Royal family's ability to stand up for hours without terrible backache being apparent to the observers, especially the Queen and Prince Philip who are - lets face it - getting on in years!

I hope the choir don't all come down with pneumonia and lose their voices completely as they had got very very wet, and only one girl seemed to have had the sense to take a coat.

Today - in West Wales - has been glorious.  We went out for coffee and sat out for 2 cups worth enjoying the sunshine and - as it is in a garden centre - bought some plants.  Coming home we had planted the plants, including B's little tomatoes, dahlias and sweet peas which he planted as seeds.  We uprooted some of the rampant primulas which are doing a very efficient take over bid for the garden to make way for some other things and after all that we had lunch.

In the garden.

After lunch B continued to garden and I sat in the sun reading the new Hilary Mantel book all afternoon.  We had thought about a walk but - well, it was sunny, warm and lovely in the garden.  It may not happen again all summer.