Category Archives: uncategorised

How high is the fridge


I was with my friend, Elaine, this afternoon, when my son rang me to tell me about an achievement. He had some free time on his hands, as his girlfriend, who likes to be called Krusti, (though she’s not crusty) wasn’t around. Mid-sentence, he suddely started making “Ugh! Errr! Yuck! What the…” noises. I asked him what was wrong, and he shouted:

“The cat’s done a crap on the fridge. What’s going on? Why would she do a thing like that? It’s horrible. It’s a classic cat-shit – you know, the kind that can’t be anything but cat shit. I’ve got to go now. I have question her about it. She’s got some explaining to do.” (He has a close relationship with his cat, and thinks he may have been a cat in a previous life, so he was probably serious.)

He came out with a few shock-horror expletives, then tried to excuse her by saying that maybe she’d been unable to get outside in time. He repeated that he was going to find Rusty and interrogate her about it, and put the phone down.

Roaring with laughter, and with tears in my eyes, I told Elaine what had happened. My explanation went something like this:

“(Ho ho hee hee), Rusty (gaffaw), Rusty’s done a (hahahahaha) crap on the fridge, and Paul has gone off to (roar, choke, cough) question her. I expect he’ll try to make her clear it up.”

Elaine looked at me stonily. “I don’t think that’s funny,” she said.

I carried on laughing, at the same time trying to remember Paul’s exact words, so that she’d share the joke. I mentioned that he thought Rusty may not have been able to get outside.

Now she looked puzzled.“Jane. It’s not funny… how high is the fridge?”

I’d never seen Elaine so po-faced. She usually laughs at the things I find funny. Being too slow to come up with “Dunno, but it smells pretty high right now,” I stood up, and held the side of my forefinger against my forehead.

“How did she get up there?” she asked.

I explained. “There’s a window beside the fridge. She’d have jumped onto the sill, and then onto the fridge. She often gets up there.”

“What?” She shook her head as if to loosen the dust of disbelief. “Has she ever done anything like that before?”

I couldn’t understand why she was so upset by my hilarity.

“No, she’s usually very clean, apart from all the hairs on the carpet. She’s long-haired, so it’s a bit of a nightmare hoovering up after her.”

“What?” she said again, but she must have decided to gloss over the hair issue, since she added “Why would Krusti crap on the fridge? Is she mad?”

That finished me. It took a while to splutter out the words “not… Krusti… Rusty…. the cat.”

Finally she saw the funny side, but by then, I almost needed medical attention, and by the time she’d stopped laughing at the misunderstanding, so did she.

You may call me squeamish, but in the interests of good taste, I chose to forego an image for this post. 😉 🙂 😀

©Jane Paterson Basil


chittlehampton-from-southImage credit:

So often in my childhood days, I lay upon that ancient hill.
I knew its every dip and crag, and even now, by force of will
my spirit feels its rocky soil dig deep into my fleshy frame.
Though years have passed, the sacred space remains the same,
a tribute to its virgin Saint, so cruelly cut down in her prime
by farmhands of the tender sex, a faith in God her only crime.

The sun shone bright, a gentle breeze fluttered in her yellow hair,
the day she walked that track, with loving smile and ne’er a care,
to carry out her guardians task, with no suspicion in her head,
that ‘ere the morn’ was done, in bloody pool, she’d lay down, dead.
The hay was ripe, but it must wait; the scythes had wicked work to do;
grasped by evil hands they hid, until their prey came into view.

As she tripped round the bend, with slashing blades they cut her down.
While angels watched, she passed away, her beauteous face not marred by frown.
As her blood seeped through the earth, a spring appeared where she fell.
Pimpernels grew o’er death’s stains, to mark the place, and mark it well.
In bloody hue, they told the tale, and evermore, uphold the truth
of Chittlehampton’s martyr; Saint Urith, murdered in sweet youth.

I grew up one-and a-half miles from Chittlehampton, very close to the farmhouse Saint Urith was reputed to have lived in. I often walked along the public footpath which had been named for her. It was the path that, according to legend, she had walked. Saint Urith’s Holy day was the 8th of July, and our school mark it each year by visiting the well, en masse, walking in pairs, a snake of about seventy or eighty children, ranging from five to eleven years old, with the eldest at the front. I resented the glorification of this modest monument, as it wa my belief – and the belief of many others – through a tradition perhaps passed down through the centuries, that the well was elsewhere, on an unspoilt hill towards my home of Stowford, covered by scrubby gorse. To the edge of the hill was a small spring, and scarlet pimpernels grew all around it. They were the only scarlet pimpernels in the vicinity. I used to sit there and secretly imagine I felt the spirit of Saint Urith, dispite my atheist upbringing.

No scarlet pimpernels grew anywhere near the well to which we made our little annual pilgrimage.

This is my second attempt to do justice to the story of Saint Urith – I won’t give up until I get it right.

  ©Jane Paterson Basil

Setting Goals


So… I signed up to start a blogging University Course on the 5th… then promptly forgot all about it, so I have to catch up.

The course is called Blogging: Branding and Growth. It comes at the tail end of a Shaw Academy course I signed up for, and haven’t properly followed. I need to stamp on this  pattern that seems to be  emerging. It should be easier to stick with this course, as there are no webinars, which I don’t enjoy. I prefer reading to listening to some voice droning on… and on…

I selected this course with a view to starting my new blog, which is intended to help addicts into recovery. The first task we are given is to write down three goals. As most people are doing this course for the benefit of their current blog, their goals will probably differ from mine.

  • Goal No. 1:

Publish my first post on the new blog by Monday 3rd April. This may seem like a long way ahead, but given my erratic mood changes, and the strange events which keep looming up and distracting me, it may be cutting it a bit fine.

  • Goal No. 2:

Pick up at least 20 followers in the first ten days.

  • Goal No. 3:

Trawl the site for all related blogs I can find, comment on their posts, and follow. Get noticed. Follow at least 20 sites in the first 14 days.

I don’t know whether or not these are good, or practical, goals. We’ll see.

Odd thoughts


Sometimes, even twenty years on, I feel like crying when I think of the father of my eldest Grandson, lying dead in his bed.

Maybe I have PTSD – very dis-ease must have a name tagged to it, validifying it, making it a bona fide mental disease, which – since they came into fashion – deletes the shame.

I have a list of such fun conditions, but they didn’t think to offer me PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Maybe I’ll apply to my psychiatrist to have those initials added. The great thing about having all those letters assigned to your case, is that you don’t have to pay to put them after your name.

You can’t say I’m a pathetic worry-guts – I have GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder).

You can’t say I’m crazy – I have ISIP (Intermittent Stress-Induced Psychosis).

You can’t say I’m cold towards my son – I have BO (Bullying Overload). OK, so I made that one up…

This post gives the impression that I’m feeling low – I’m not. I’m having a great day, while I wait for the phone to ring, and this time, it won’t be bad news.

Time to sign off…

Jane Basil G.A.D. I.S.I.P. B.O.

PS I left out the RDD (Recurrent Depressive Disorder), as there’s nothing humorous about those initials. I wish it was ODD (Ordinary Depressive Disorder), so I could have put “Gad, I sip odd BO” after my name, but it’s not a recognised condition…

©Jane Paterson Basil

Laura’s birthday

rose-670447__480I’ve had a fortnight of reading, copying, pasting, editing, and formating the best 150 poems I have written over the past two years; a manic race to complete an album of my verse, to give as a gift on my daughter, Laura’s birthday, two days ago.

I succeeded, in spite of constant interruptions from friends and family, and a particularly nasty and unexpected brain-rape, on the 22nd, by a strange sexual predator who made me so angry that I thought I was having a heart-attack. It was hard to work the following day, since I was physically shaking. I’m a bit confused by the unwanted attention I’ve been getting lately.

It happened that I’d been invited to a family dinner with my brother’s ex and my nephew. When Linda discovered that it was Laura’s birthday, she invited both her and her boyfriend, Joe. Laura, Joe and I walked to Linda’s together. Laura looked beautiful; nicely dressed and well groomed. Every time I see her I notice a new improvement. She was well and happy. This was to be the first family event she was to attend for over three years, and I was very excited.

My sister had had a tough week, and felt too tired to attend the dinner, but she met up with us beforehand, as she wanted to see Laura on her birthday. By the time we parted company from her aunt, Laura was positively glowing from the compiments laurahair12she’d received.

It wasn’t a big party – only seven of us, so I wasn’t too worried that she may feel overwhelmed, but I didn’t expect it to go as well as it did. She had a lovely time. She ate a proper meal, and a desert, and talked confidently. Everyone was impressed with her, and they liked Joe. It was lovely. I felt so pleased and proud. They left before the rest of us, as Joe’s nephew was staying over for the night, and he wanted to spend a bit of time with him. Although Laura clearly enjoyed herself, I expect she was emotionally exhausted after a couple of hours, so it was good that they had an excuse to leave, but the ice has been broken. From now on I expect she’ll be included in all the invites I get from that part of the family.

She’s managed to build up some savings. Before, every penny she received funded her drug habit.

One day at a time…

©Jane Paterson Basil

I want you to know

I want
you who may become unravelled
by your children’s addictions,
to look at me,
and say
“She survived, and so will I.”

I want you to know
there is life after that day
— that frozen moment —
when you become a drooling ball of pain,
falling to the floor,
whimpering half-finished prayers
to a deity you’re not sure you believe in.

I want you to know,
as your limbs become numb,
as your heart screams,
even as you beg
for relief from
— I want you to know —
though it may claw you over and over,
sweep you into a tornado of terror
— I want you to know, and to remember —
you can rise from it every time,
and you can smile,
even laugh again.

I want you to know
that your life is precious,
and I pray that you’ll gain solace
from this knowledge;
you are not alone.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Gardening. Day 2

An image of how I would like my border to look. So beautiful! But it will never resemble this garden, because it contains too many Azaleas. 

I spent several happy hours in my sister’s garden today, and by the time I left, her herbaceous border was weeded and thinned out, and I had loads of stock to plant in ‘my’ garden, so we were both happy. I’d offered to keep her garden tidy, and she’s now had a good first installment of that promise, but I’m not sure whether I’ll have the time to keep up with it, because my garden is quite large. It’s in two parts. At the moment I’m working on the strip in front of the building, but there’s another strip at the side of the block, and it carries on along the back. This area is also very public, so it’s important to try and get the whole of it in order. There’s also a private garden for the residents to sit in which probably needs work, but I haven’t even looked at that properly.

We have some younger residents with special educational needs, and I may try and encourage them to help me. People with educational difficulties are often undervalued, and because of that they sometimes believe they have no use. I volunteer in an Oxfam shop, and one of Oxfam’s policies is to encourage so called ‘disadvantaged’ people to help in their shops, where they can learn valuable skills and feel like valuable members of society, perhaps for the first time in their lives. I would like to offer the residents a similar opportunity. I’d also be genuinely glad of some help.

Maybe we could get a cold-frame at some point, and be allocated a space for seed sowing, who knows? Growing plants from seed brings a real sense of achievement and satisfaction. I have seen wonderful transformations in individuals as a result of working in community gardens. maybe this garden can make a positive difference in somebody’s life.

It would be nice to grow vegetables… 

But I mustn’t get ahead of myself. I’ll make more of an effort to spend time in the community room, and properly get to know people. An old friend of nearly 40 years standing has been living here for several years. She knows all of the residents and is close to a couple of the women with special educational needs. I may have a quiet word with her in the next week or two.

© Jane Paterson Basil

The Gardening Has Begun

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I have finally started tidying the public garden that runs around this block of flats. I promised before/after photographs, but I’ve let everyone down on that score. I felt self-conscious enough going out there with my hand-fork, let alone taking photographs to pull out later and use to prove what an amazing gardener I am. So instead I’m adding images which I have borrowed from Getty Images, such as this one which has no bearing whatsoever on this post.

I’ve worked in gardens which are overlooked by the public before, but it never bothered me, because, whether the garden was my own, or one that I was employed to work on, I felt confident in the knowledge that I belonged there. However, this is a job for which I volunteered. Nobody knows anything about me. For all they know I could be completely ignorant about plants. 

The garden contains a lot of roses, and quite a few azaleas in various colours, which, although they’re not favorites of mine, look bright and cheerful at the moment.

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After a few hours out there I feel more self-assured, as the staff and residents lost no time in making it clear to me that they have complete faith in my abilities,

As anyone who has undertaken a job of this nature will know, the hardest part of the job is carrying on working – without appearing unfriendly – while everybody in the neighborhood stops to talk to you.

My first job is to clear the pesky montbretia (crocosmia x crocosmiaflora) which has claimed large swathes of the border, crushing out many less robust plants, and probably killing some off completely. While this is an attractive plant, my recommendation is to steer clear of it unless it’s the only plant in the whole world that you find attractive.

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I make exceptions with some of the cultivars, for example crocosmia Lucifer, a large, showy specimen that brings fire to a display. It doesn’t expand so fast, and is worth doing battle with occasionally, because of its exceptional beauty. Maybe I’ll try and find some.

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Although so many plants have been swallowed up by the crocosmia, some attractive perrennials such gladiolus communis, and a lovely royal-blue iris have survived.

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Because so many plants have been swallowed up by the crocosmia, I need to put in replacements. I’ll wander around the gardens of friends and family, and beg bits off them. One of my daughters has too much cranesbill, and another has a lovely penstemon which has grown too bushy.

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My sister’s garden is stuffed with plants which she wants to get rid of, so that she can grow more veg. I’m going to see her tomorrow to desecrate her garden take some unwanted plants off her hands. She has all sorts of lovely perrennials, most of which were originally put in by me.

The sun is shining and today I feel fully alive.

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© Jane Paterson Basil

Love/Hate Challenge

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Here’s an unexpectedly mind-stretching challenge that looks like it will be doing the rounds on WordPress. I picked it up from Calen, at Impromptu Promptlings, who had, in turn, got it from Fimnora at Quantum Hermit. I invite anybody who wishes to grab the torch, and carry it onward.

It sounds simple, but I’m not so sure. The challenge is to make a list of 10 things you love, and 10 things you hate.

These are my lists:

I love

  • My extended family, some of whom are not really related to me. They say you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. We choose to adopt some of our friends into our family.
  • Seeing others triumph over their demons. There are so many demons; depression, addiction, greed, hatred, loneliness, shyness, low self-esteem, psychosis, mental and physical disability… to name but a few. But millions of people every day are striving to be better, and winning.
  • The bloggers who have reached out their hands to me in friendship and support. I don’t say this lightly. You have held me upright, and made me stronger.
  • The sky, which gives me a reason to look upwards.
  • Trees, which give us beauty, clean the air and remind us that we need roots in order to strive.
  • A warm spring morning, giving promise of the future.
  • Flowers, which attract butterflies and pollinating bees, and add beauty and colour to my life.
  • Writing and writing and writing.
  • My new home. Some would say that a one bedroom flat on the third storey of a block built for the ageing and disadvantaged is nothing special, and I’ve lived in houses which may have been more spacious and prestigious, but this is my home.
  • Love. I love love. I spent many years of my life shying away from it, distrusting it because something which gave itself that name had bitten chunks off me, so I didn’t think I was allowed it; didn’t think I was worthy. I didn’t even think that I was worthy of love from my children, because deep down, I must be a bad person. But as it turns out, I’m not.

So that’s my rather wordy list. There are many more things I could say I love: books, curry, (particularly if it contains cream and coconut) good coffee, Morris Minors, cheese, sewing machines, jugs, bridges, stationary, jeans; but they’re just the luxuries I could survive without. Imagine trying to survive without trees and love!

I hate

  • Greed/selfishness. (the flaw, not the greedy person) I believe they are the different sides of the same same thing.
  • Corruption 
  • Being angry
  • Lack of care for this beautiful planet.
  • Capitalism (although I know that we’re not ready for the alternative)
  • Targeted bullying. This is a word which I believe is misused these days. By bullying I mean deliberate cruelty towards the weak and vulnerable.
  • The suffering brought about by indifference and abuse towards humans and animals. That covers a lot of ground…
  • Over-production of plastic
  • My weaknesses and flaws
  • Dysfunctional computers

Phew! Not as easy as I thought, and all the second list really tells you is that I hate the damage caused by human beings to plant and animal life and to the air that we breathe. I didn’t manage to mention that I can’t stand dessicated coconut unless it’s incorporated into curry; in which case I love it!

© Jane Paterson Basil