The Corpse In The Cactus*


Am spending the day with Mr Fluffypants.  Have been here since 8am.  Would never ever jump out of bed at 6.30am for actual paid work, but just the thought of cuddling this person is enough to get me up.  And Uber helps, of course.  Am turning into quite the devotee of the sharing economy: Uber, Borrow My Doggy…

 It’s sunny out there and the sky is blue, but we’re holed up in his sitting room on the sofa, watching Bloodline.  We’re on episode 11 and now am hoping that his owners are home a bit late so can finish the series.

4.08pm.  Don’t know where the day has gone.  Mr Fluffypants dozes on the sofa:


5.21pm.  Back at the flat.  Suzie is coming over, which is great.  Looking around the kitchen, observe that need to:

1.  Wash up utensils in sink.

2.  Wipe kitchen surfaces and table.  Again.  Am attempting to keep-on-top-of-cleanliness-in-flat, ever since Mum got shouty about this.

3.  Put away pans etc that are filling draining board at present.  Their presence means that there’s nowhere for those in the sink to sit if they ever get cleaned.

3.  Rustle up supper.  Have purchased some mushroom pasta parcels so just need a sauce and a salad.

4.  Find brush from dustpan-and-brush to sweep up nyger seeds that are all over floor.  Important thing is that goldfinches have food, of course, but opening the new packet has Made A Mess.

On the plus side: one of the Christmas cacti is in bloom.  Look:

Right.  Have to get going with these things.

Happy Monday everyone!
*2015.  By Lonni Lees.  A Maggie Reardon mystery, set in Tucson, Arizona.

A Murderous Ball Of Fluff*

Walking back from the gym,these fluffy people catch my eye.  Crossing the road, I approach their owner.

“Wow!  Keeshonds!” I say.

“Yes, that’s right,” he says, looking at me, surprised.  “No one knows what they are, usually.”  He has an Irish accent, looks about sixty.

“I have a friend who’s a Keeshond,” I say.  “What are their names?”

“This is Galen, the girl, and the boy’s Wolfie,” he says.

“Hello Wolfie,” I say, bending down as the boy approaches me and rests his head on my leg.  Stroking his soft head, I smile.  

Galen flops down in the middle of the pavement:


“Please may I take a photo?” I say. “I just love  Keeshonds and…”

“Of course,” the owner says.  “Say their names and they’ll look up at you.”

“Wolfie, Galen,” I say.  They look up.

Back at the flat, the washing machine is running.  It rumbles.  Have washed up the soup pan and wiped the kitchen surfaces.  Flat is clean.  

Attached photo is my outfit at Spin this morning.

Happy Sunday everyone!
*2009. By Ken Lansdowne.  Book Two in the Bent Mystery series.


After two days here, am settling in to life at the flat.  Have even made minestrone soup.  The dishwasher is empty: unloaded it earlier.  The flat is clean and tidy.

The rugby plays on the television: England vs Ireland.  We’re 6 – 3 up at the moment.  Struggling to concentrate.  Tired.  Wish brother, or Seb was here to help me understand it.

Oh no.  Suddenly Ireland in front: 6 – 10.  That’s not good.

Owen Farrell scores and it’s 9 – 10.

Chest is red, hot and sore from the radiotherapy but so far skin still hasn’t broken up.  Which is good.

“Ball in Ireland’s twenty two leads to the try,” the commentator says.    14 – 10 England.   Owen Farrell misses the conversion.

Oh look: 19 – 10 to England.  Must try to concentrate.  Had unusually late night last night – didn’t get to bed till ten o’clock – and have been at the Zoo all day today.  Can’t wait to get to bed after this match.

Am booked in to Spin tomorrow and need a lot of sleep before that.

The attached photo is a magnolia near the flat.  

Happy Saturday everyone! 
*1999.  Film.  Directed and written by Paul Thomas Anderson.  Starring Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The Trick Is To Keep Breathing*

Am listening to the sound of water: the dishwasher is running.  The kitchen timer ticks: there’s a Spinach and Mushroom Bake in the oven.  Have just assembled it, and have to take it out with me this evening.

Have a rare dinner invitation and have told Mum about it so have to go now or will be told off.   


1.  Headache.

2.  Burning sensation on irradiated area of chest.  Have taken off gel pad as it was tight and think skin needs to breathe.

3.  Sore throat.
Still need to:

1.  Wash hair.

2.  Clean lenses.

3.  Find outfit: something with bare arms as will be hot.  There are forty seven people attending this dinner party!

4.  Add address of party to my Uber thing.

5.  Do something – anything – with nails.  They look awful: bare and chipped and pale.

The anxiety bird spreads her wings. Flying into my mouth, she zooms down my throat and into my stomach, where she hovers, flapping.  Just need to start this list of tasks-that-must-be-completed-before-leaving-flat.  That will quieten her.

It will be alright once I get there, of course.  Once I enter the room and find the drinks and hug my friends and settle down somewhere.  It’s just the thought of leaving the warm flat when am so exhausted, and being propelled into the darkness, that’s so awful.  It’s compounded by how physically weak I feel at the moment.  My mental state is fine.  Sort of…

Right, had better get going.  Will start by running a bath.

Attached photo is two Made by Maggie cashmere bunnies.  They’ve been cheering me up today.  The navy one is the first ever cashmere rabbit I think, made for me!

Happy Friday everyone!
*1989.  By Janice Galloway.  Wonderful novel.  Deals with mental breakdown and recovery – or the start of recovery anyway.  Love this book.


Bending down to pull a cookery book off the shelf, something tumbles down to bang me on the head.  Ouch! 

It’s this picture:

Squirrel Nutkin is harassing Old Brown.  A terrible Bad Thing is about to happen to Nutkin – something far, far worse than being hit on the head.  

Anyway: Suzie is on her way.  Have made her an artichoke.  Have also tidied up and even wiped the table.  

Chest is sore.  Am wearing the cool gel pack and yet is all itchy underneath it.  The radiotherapy side effects are still bad.

Am exhausted.  Am just going to post this and then to Bed for twelve hours.

Happy Thursday everyone!
*2016.  By Jilly Cooper.  New novel coming!

Death Is Forever*

“You don’t mind me giving her this do you?” Mum’s friend says when she arrives last night brandishing a bottle of Portobello Road gin.

“I suppose not,” Mum says with a look of despair. “She’s going to drink it anyway so…”

“Here you go, dear,” Mum’s friend says, handing the bottle to me.

“Oh wow, thank you,” I say, jumping up and down with excitement, throwing my arms round her.  “I’ve never tried this one, that’s so kind of you.”

Ginuary is over, but so is radiotherapy and it seems a shame not to sample my new present.  Despite working round the corner from the Portobello Road Ginstitute, have never tasted its produce.

So, need a gin cocktail that also uses Cointreau, as have a bottle of that at the parentals.  Settle on a Delilah cocktail: gin, Cointreau and lemon juice.  Strain it into a cocktail glass and add some slimline tonic.  You can see it in the attached photo.

Have just discovered that a much-loved local restaurant has closed after forty seven years.  And we didn’t even make it there this month before it shut.  Mum is teaching a couple of her private pupils now but she’ll be upset when I tell her this news.  The place was a local institution: we’ve been many times over the years.

Am just going to post this blog and then start making The Omelette.

Here is this morning’s Spin outfit:

Still need to lose about twenty pounds, but it’s enough of a challenge to stay awake and push the pedals round for forty five minutes at the moment.  Never mind actually pushing self.  

On the plus side, will start to recover from the radiotherapy after eighteen months or so.  So that’s good.

Happy Wednesday everyone!
*1981.  By Maxine O’Callaghan.  A Delilah West detective novel.

The Doorbell Rang*

1.  Radiotherapy is over.  Have just returned from final session.

2.  Have special cool gel pads to soothe skin, which is exciting.

3.  Am wearing one now to see if develop an allergy to it.  Let’s hope I don’t.

4.  Severe burns may develop during the next two weeks.  Fingers crossed that they won’t though.

5.  It’s a gorgeous sunny day.  Walk home from the village and have a chat with MadFatRunner for the first time in ages.

6.  The fluffy monster is outside enjoying the sunshine.

7.  Have washed hair.

8.  Some of Mum’s friends are here.  They’re playing bridge, and can hear guffaws of laughter.  Am glad Mum is enjoying herself.

9.  Have bought a little present for Seb: a key ring with two wolves on it.

10.  Am wearing my ballet cardigan.

11. Attached photo is last radiotherapy bathroom photo.

12.  Am going to paint my nails.

13.  Feel a bit sad that radiotherapy is over.  It was horrible in some ways, and yet enjoyed going there everyday and chatting to all of them.

14.  Am very sleepy.

15.  Going to find my cat and cuddle him.

Happy Tuesday everyone!
*1965.  By Rex Stout.  A Nero Wolfe mystery.  

The Figaro Murders*

Scars, Tears and Training Bras

“Right,” I say to Seb as he’s throwing his rucksack over his shoulder and preparing to leave. ”Am going to make a note that we’re up to The Flood episode in Season Six of Mad Men so…”

“What – that’s the last one we’ve watched?” Seb says. ”I’m sorry that I’m not clearing up – can I take anything out or…”

“No, we haven’t seen that episode yet,” I say, writing The Flood:Mad Menon today’s calendar box.

Sorry for no post yesterday. It was our One Year Anniversary and we went out for lunch with some of my cousins. It was lovely.

Let’s take a minute to congratulate us on a whole year together. It’s amazing.

Some other nice things:

1. Manage Spin this morning.

2. My goldfinches are back on the nyger seed feeder.

3. Love my Seb so much.

4. Suzie is coming to see me…

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The Woman In White*

Scars, Tears and Training Bras

“You could put that Madeira in one of your cocktails,” Mum says.

“Where is it?” I say, pouring gin, Cointreau and lemon juice into the measuring jug. Am making a White Lady.

“In the door of the fridge,” Mum says.

Opening the fridge, I take out the tall thin bottle, open it, sniff it. Am unsure about whether or not it smells good.

“Well don’t just pour it into that mixture,” Mum says, glancing at my cocktail.

“I’m not going to,” I say. ”Need to research what it goes with. Are there any olives?”

“One tin and I need them,” Mum says. ”No wonder this sandwich is low fat – they haven’t put any butter in it or…”

“I don’t know why you’d buy a low fat sandwich,” I say. ”Obviously it wouldn’t contain butter and you wouldn’t like it.”

Mum places some anchovies in her egg sandwich and smears…

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Happy Days*

“So if you don’t mind, there’s a questionnaire to fill in,” the radiotherapist says as I enter the treatment room.  Taking my top off, putting it on the chair, I see the folder which says ‘Aftercare Package’.

“When do you want it by?” I say, taking my bum bag off, putting it on the chair.

“Oh, after the weekend,” she says.  “Have you had a good response to your television programme then?”

“I think people liked it,” I say, sitting on the board, leaning back. “Ow, my neck hurts.  So the oncologist says that my headaches are caused by the neck position and…”

“Your skin isn’t looking too bad,” she says, looking at my chest.  “It’s pink, but it’s been pink since the first treatment.  It hasn’t got any worse yet.  It can take another couple of weeks after treatment before it really breaks down though and…”

“You got terrible burns last time didn’t you?” The other radiotherapist says.

“Yes,” I say.  “But not till after the treatment finished.”

They leave the room.  I struggle with my first breath hold but catch it after a couple of tries.  The machine whirrs.  

“When you’re ready,” the voice says.  “Take a breath and hold it.”

Breathing in, I hold it inside the green line. 

And as I’m holding my breath, I realise a strange thing.  In a few weeks – once my mood has crashed and I’m back at work – I’ll look back on this period as a happy time.  All I have to do at the moment is to attend Spin every morning and radiotherapy every lunchtime, whilst staying with my parents.  I’m in the up bit of my mood cycle, my brother is here, Seb’s coming tomorrow.  There’s been the excitement and distraction of the television programme and its accompanying interviews.  Everything is fine.

In a couple of months, when my mood has dropped and I’m back at work, it’s inevitable that I’ll look back on this period as a happy time.  

Attached photo is today’s radiotherapy outfit.  My favourite trousers from Fit Boutique feature.

Had better run a bath…

Happy Friday everyone!
*2012.  By Graham Hurley.  A D.I. Joe Faraday crime novel.