The lockdown house 2

I may be posting every day and a half for a while.  As well as making it to show you and photographing it, I have to find it. Although the builders have left (hooray!) everything I possess is still under tarpaulins or a cloud of dust.  I still have not moved into my work room, the garage needs painting and so forth.

Nevertheless.

I have found and thought I would show you some small scale items to demonstrate some interesting aspects of scale.  You’ll have to forgive the photography, I can’t find any of my studio stuff, either.

It is important to understand that a dolls’ house, diorama, room box, or whatever you plan to create, is, above all things, a piece of art. New miniaturists can get very hung up on precision.  I got there myself, to the point where everything had to be historically accurate not just to the year but to the season. Eventually I became paralysed by the horror of getting it wrong.

One of the advantages of working for magazines was that I got to see a lot of photographs of houses and a lot of actual houses.  For quite a while in the 1980s there surfaced a lot of pinkly perfect houses.  Made with the same kits, or sourced from the same makers with everything placed just so, although every house is just as different as every new baby, after a while a creeping sameness made the photographs unpublishable because the wonderful finished house was so awfully like last month’s wonderful finished house.  It gradually dawned on the editorial team that the very best houses were the slightly imperfect ones and the very best were those made from scratch with more heart and less architectural accuracy.

I actually prefer houses that are slightly out of scale because I first encountered various historic houses, now in museums, made in a time when the house owner had managed to persuade the carpenter to make her a table, same as a big one, but little.  Historic miniature home owners became adept at adapting and skilled at skirting round difficulties.

Here for example is a Jane Harrop house kit in 48th scale, made up by me.

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Everything was provided in the kit, except the well which I scratch built, as you can see the result is beautiful.  If you buy a Jane Harrop kit (she’s online) your result will be very similar to mine because Jane’s kits are meticulously researched and put together.

Incidentally if you are still not sure about the size of 48th scale, let me just finish this cup of tea……

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See, small. And perfect.  If you only like perfect, which you are allowed to do, the entire point of miniatures being to create a universe of your own preference, you could buy a Jane Harrop kit and be pleased as punch with the finished item.  I did and I was.

However, the current plan is to make something from nothing in the lockdown.  It is unlikely to be perfect, if you’ve never done it before and it is unlikely to be in perfect scale but actually, that doesn’t matter.

Here is a structure that I made very early on in my miniatures career.

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It’s a gazebo, and, as you can see from my tea cup, not terribly dissimilar in size to the 48th scale house.  I have used it, however for 24th scale children.  Like this,

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And for a two inch girl, a doll’s doll just over 48th scale like this,

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And they both look OK, I think.  The components are turned miniature wooden pieces, dolls’ house shingles and wine bottle lead.

But the contents were scratch built from nothing much by me, early doors.

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The tiger skin rug is a piece of velvet, marker pen and a felt backing.

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The chairs, which don’t look silly with either size doll, are garden wire, tapestry canvas and glue.

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Any guesses about the upholstered chair?  What could be under that, I wonder?

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Yes it’s absolutely corking, Cork, cardboard, velvet, unravelled trimming and glue and it’s looked like that for thirty years.

How are you getting on with box selection?

I decided the egg box was the strongest.  I cut my gingerbread men, here they are.

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On the right is the six inch man.  You don’t need to be any sort of miniaturist to see he is just too big.  The three inch man in the middle looks pretty good, size wise, but the one and a half inch chap is lost in there.

If we zoom in you can see the clear winner

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If you can’t think in gingerbread men I can show you with actual dolls.

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Too big, he’s having to bend his knees.  (I must clean the dust off him, poor bloke.)

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Here’s a forty eighth scale ‘Two soups?’ waitress.

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Lost.

And here is the winner, the 24th scale articulated man.

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Oh yes, even up at the back he looks alright,

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twenty fourth it is.  It’s still not too big to make and finish before lockdown is lifted

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Or my cup of tea.

Before we meet again, you may wish to decide the story of your structure, now you have decided the scale. Is it a castle, a shoe shop, a house in the woods?  Somewhere you have really lived?  A place of fantasy?

This is the thing that got me through long dark nights.  In my head I replaced worry with a story.  The story of my house.  Who lived there?  Why were they there? What was their story and how could I tell it?

Incidentally dolls are not obligatory.  Queen Mary’s dolls’ house at Windsor Castle has no dolls at all.  She probably had had enough of people, if you have shaken as many hands as the average Queen, you would probably love a house with no pesky people in it.

But you could have cats, or teddy bears, or ghosts, or aliens.

Or people, but just not in the room right then.

It is up to you.

This is your piece of art.  You are the creator of it.

What you say goes, because you are just about to discover one of the most treasured and brilliant aspects of miniaturising.

Unlike life, you cannot be wrong.

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The lockdown dolls’ house.

Or – How to go into lockdown with nothing and emerge some weeks later with an heirloom.

I would, before we begin, absolutely love to show you my collection of houses made from junk but they are all put away somewhere because of the build.  Also, because of the build I have no idea where all my stuff is. This is good. We are starting the same and will make a dolls’ house from scratch with next to nothing, together.

A dolls’ house does not have to be a house, it could be a castle, a shop, a room, a fairy dwelling, a place in space, anything at all, but it does need to have actual substance.  There are, of course, house manufacturers who are still trading; miniaturists have excelled at conducting business by post for at least thirty years.  The Miniatura website still shows the exhibitor listing of those who would have been at the Spring show, had it not been cancelled and the contact details.  www.miniatura.co.uk  so you could, if you wished, buy everything by post and make a lovely conventional dolls’ house and finish it off by collecting the finishing touches next Spring.

However, I am imagining you might be worried about money and inclined to make something out of nothing.  I applaud this, there may be a number of children who learn in the lockdown that toys can be made!  Who knew?  (All miniaturists.)

Look around and find some cardboard boxes.

This is what I found:

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In about five minutes.

Let’s have a closer look:

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On the chair at the left, a box an Easter egg arrived in through the post, next to it a shoe box, behind that another egg box and at the back an average postal box that had something in from the big river retailer.

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On the floor a box that had clothing from a manufacturer abroad.

All of these could be used and, if you can only find one cardboard box, that’s the one you’ll be using.

It is normal during the process to fall in love with the house you are making. Therefore, if you have a choice it would be unwise to choose a flimsy box.  The best choice is the strongest box you have got.  Although the box on the floor looks lovely and big it is quite thin cardboard, it is not inherently strong.

Of all the boxes in the photograph the strongest by far are the two Easter egg boxes and the big river retailer postal box.  These were designed to survive the post carrying potentially breakable items, so they are a good choice.  You can, of course, strengthen any box by gluing extra layers of cardboard on it but it does really help if the box you are beginning with is strong.

If you now have a couple of candidates you need to decide what scale you are working in.  Dolls’ houses, like all models of reality, can be made in various scales.

Dolls’ house scales.

The standard scale for the hobby is twelfth scale. This evolved over a hundred years ago, was commonly  used in Victorian nurseries by a carpenter making the family a house to play with by simply changing measured feet in reality into inches in the model.  As there are twelve inches in a foot, the model is one twelfth the size of reality in every dimension.  So are the dolls. In this scale a six foot tall man would be six inches tall as a doll.  If you click on the banner at the top of the page, that says ‘about Jane my first house’  you will see a photo of my Edwardian house which is true twelfth scale.  It sits under the stairs and demonstrates the problem with twelfth scale. It’s big.  In your real house a twelfth scale house can easily take up as much room as the sideboard.  A twelfth scale town house could be as big as your fridge freezer.  In cardboard this could create strength problems and be difficult unless you have a very big cardboard box.  However, there is nothing to stop you making a room box.  A room box is exactly what it says, one room, rather than a whole house.  The advantage of twelfth scale is that it is easy to shop for, easy to get your hand around and not too fiddly to make things for, if you are not very dextrous.  In the photograph the box on the floor could make a twelfth scale room box.  If I were going to do that I would cut the lid off and glue it to the back and sides to strengthen the box but that would take quite a lot of glue, half a jugful at least.

Twenty fourth scale is my favourite scale.  It is half the size of twelfth scale in every direction, so that a twenty fourth scale house can sit on the windowsill of your real house. In this scale a six foot tall man is rendered as a three inch tall doll.  It is possible, with wood, porcelain and other authentic materials to make working models of most household items.  That is to say, the drawers on the chest will open, the bed can be made and dressed, the plates can be put on the table and so on.

Forty eighth scale, as I’m sure you have guessed, is half the size again in every direction, a whole house can sit on a paperback book.  The six foot man is now one and a half inches tall.

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These were the forty eighth scale fairies I was dressing before everything stopped.  That is not a giant pair of scissors, the dolls are small.  Advantages in this size are that any titchy box will do and there are plenty of postal kits to help you which only need to be stuck together with PVA glue.  Disadvantages are that the smaller you go, the more dextrous you need to be and the more likely it is that everything will have to be stuck down to avoid breakage.  A 48th scale house is more of a model to be admired than a toy to be played with.

One hundred and forty fourth scale and beyond lie realms of titchiness and tweezers. Everything has to be stuck down to avoid being inhaled, which is not recommended. 144th is, as I’m sure you’ve worked out the dolls’ house to go in the twelfth scale dolls’ house, and 288th scale……………….

There is also something referred to as free scale, professionally speaking, which translates as ‘I made it this big’ and any other scale you like, including assorted model railway scales and Playscale which is made to fit plastic fashion dolls.  I made a shoebox barracks for the S&H’s toy soldier doll long ago, with drawers made out of cardboard and plastic inserts from dried spaghetti shapes boxes.

Having considered all of that, assess what you have to hand.  Could a box be subdivided into several rooms?  Have you enough cardboard?  In the photograph  the shoebox has potential as a long low room, two rooms side by side, or a one up, one down, in twenty fourth scale.

It is important to consider your resources, you are going to need cardboard for furniture and maybe floors, walls and windows.

To help you decide what scale is appropriate, cut out a simple figure.  It’s that six foot man again.  Fold a piece of paper in half, measure six inches and draw half a gingerbread man.  Cut him out. Now repeat the exercise but draw a three inch gingerbread man and do the same with a one and a half inch man.

Take your gingerbread man workforce to your cardboard boxes and try all of them in all of them.  Because you have lived in houses all your life (unless you have had a more exciting life than I have) you already know which man looks right in which house.  You can see which is the right size to make a room, a four roomed house, a long bungalow. Make your choice.

Why should you stick to these standard sizes?  The reason is that you can find free stuff online to down load or copy in the standard sizes.  Having chosen your box and your scale, before we meet again turn your search engine to the following:  Free dolls’ house wallpaper to down load, free dolls’ house flooring to down load, free dolls’ house furniture patterns…………

Do some looking and maybe some printing and before we meet again, hopefully tomorrow, find glue or send for glue.  In miniatures we love tacky glue but any kind of strong glue to glue cardboard, probably any type of PVA, would be good.  Avoid wet glue, which will make the cardboard soggy, avoid paper roller glue or solid glue sticks, which are not strong enough.

Assemble glue, printouts, cardboard, scraps of thin fabric, small patterned paper, including wrapping paper, cocktail sticks, wooden thin sticks of any kind such as coffee stirrers, scissors, craft knives, strong plastic from packaging to make windows, any hobby paint, hope and enthusiasm.

See you tomorrow. protominiaturist.

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A bit yuk

This posting is unlikely to be a laugh a minute, unless you have a very strange sense of humour.

I’ve had my old trouble back, took to my bed feeling awful and had problems at both ends in a way that is revolting and slimming at the same time.

But, thank goodness, having had a diagnosis, I know this is due to my intestines being knotted up with scar tissue, so I am not worrying that it is something else.  There was an item on the news today that enquiries about possible cancers are down.  It can’t be that a major killer has suddenly taken a holiday when it affects one in two of the population.  It could be that people are frightened to go to the doctors, who might send them to the hospital, where they are frightened to go.

I am so lucky to be in remission, I am so lucky to have had my cancer when I did.  I’m glad you’re still there to read this, I’m glad I’m still here to write it.

You and I, we are the lucky ones.

We are the lucky ones who will continue to thank our lucky stars every day when this is over.

We must not be dissatisfied with our lot ever again, if we did not have to fight for breath, if we did not have to help those fighting for breath, if we did not lose anyone we loved to this virus, we are lucky, we are grateful, we are blessed.

I’m off to see if I can keep a cup of tea down.  Lucky if it goes down, slimmer if it comes back up. Win-win.

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A nice shiny conscience.

Thanks are due to everyone who posted on local social media with sympathy for the loss of my aluminium bench that got nicked.  It was only one miscreant who did the nicking but many nice people who wrote kindly.

The whole incident gives rise to several thoughts.

The first is that there are people who need to nick an old aluminium bench.  As someone pointed out, it has scrap metal value.  Very true, but where are you going to get the money for it in the lockdown?   As a couple of others pointed out, perhaps the thief thought it had been put at the end of the drive to take. Whoever took it was strong, it had been fastened to stakes driven into the drive, one of which I found further down the pavement, the thief who managed to wrench it off had legged it at speed, shedding bits.

The current crisis will make the divide between the haves and the have-nots into a greater chasm.  I was so surprised to learn on the news of African drug dealers turning into food deliverers.  In theory it does not matter where you are in the heap of humanity when disaster strikes.  You still get to choose between good and evil.  Regular readers know that I have experienced quite a bit of deprivation of the, ‘what will we eat tomorrow?’, variety.  I have a son who has sofa surfed.  The reason I have a walk-in wardrobe now is because of all the years I had when my clothes would have fitted in a small box.  I’ve shopped in charity shops and thank goodness for them, from all perspectives.

At one point the S&H, trying to start a business from his bedroom and with nothing, was owed a thousand pounds by someone who topped himself.  The S&H refused to let his debtor’s daughter inherit the debt.  He wrote it off.  Yes he knew where his next meal was coming from, but if that debt had been honoured he would have been on his way to a proper business, which never happened.  At the same time an acquaintance of ours for whom he had designed a website, over many hours of work, refused to pay him.  Troubles never come singly.  Then he got beaten up in a car park and his skull broken. He remained optimistic and continued to do all the right things.

I think the current crisis illuminates a very old concept.  One which is currently out of fashion.

Taking care of your conscience.

I don’t believe you are doing that if you are living behind a wall of toilet rolls.  I think stockpiling dried pasta possibly shrivels your conscience up too.  I think if you steal anything, it’s really your peace of mind you are depleting.  I’m sure elbowing the weak out of the way to get at the supermarket shelves, is actually giving the elbow to your right to a good night’s sleep.

What goes around, comes around.  It usually does not do so immediately.  I had two pairs of shoes, a pair of sandals and a pair of wellies, for about two decades.  I did looking after a demented person, and all that entailed, for five years, twice.

It’s that old saying about the pictogram for catastrophe being composed of two other pictograms, one for danger and one for opportunity.

What are you going to do in the opportunity?

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Posted in About artists. | Tagged | 1 Comment

Naughty and nice.

It’s along way from Christmas but if Santa is compiling lists of those who are naughty and those who are nice, he’ll be busy.  People have polarised, quite noticeably.

This was going to be a wonderfully upbeat, informative thingy about how you can make something to help the people round you.

A friend told me of a book share scheme in another town  The libraries have closed, the big river retailer has stopped selling books and the bookshops are shut.  I thought the hour had come for a community library.  Accordingly I took my fifty year old seed table from storage behind the shed.  In the autumn, before it was put away, the OH helped me drill some holes in the aluminium uprights to brace it and make it strong, ready to receive my seed trays in the spring.  It has reversible trays that you can make into a depression to hold clay beads that retain moisture.

Now I thought it would be a wonderful thing, of exactly the right height, to make a community library at the end of the drive.  I spent the morning  digging down into the temporary shale, assisted by the OH, where the shale had impacted. I drove stakes into the shale and fastened the legs to them with table ties so they wouldn’t wave in the wind.

I made the sign, carefully researched with the aid of the OH who was a medical microbiologist.  The protocol was: take a book, leave a book.  To leave a book you choose a book you have not touched, coughed at or sneezed on for a week, with gloved hands, and put it in a sandwich bag.  To take a book, get it home, disinfect the sandwich bag, wash your hands and leave the bag for 72 hours, after which you have a new book to read. 

I spent the morning writing the sign and finding a big enough plastic bag to put it in.  Then I raided my book stores.  The result was this.

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After we had stood on the drive and applauded the NHS, it took the books in to the garage on their seed trays.

Overnight someone stole the table.

Fifty years of love and care for the seeds that grew on that table, all gone.  A wonderful idea to help people, spoiled.

When we had the wall built in the back garden the OH instructed the bricklayer to leave a hedgehog hole.  Yesterday someone had put a brick on the other side.  When the OH poked it out, they replaced it with metal stakes.

So, which side of Santa’s list do you belong to?   Are you on the side of good?  Are you helping altruistically, or

are you up for being sneezed on?

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Now we believe the world is one.

This is it
This is the one we feared and dreaded,
This is the wellspring of disaster movies.

This is it
This is arbitrary life and death –
The finger points at you, but not you, for no reason.

This is it
This is the Earth stirring in her sleep, restless, itchy,
Turning over; a lot of the fleas get squashed.

This is it
The global pandemic. This is what it looks like.
It is a surprise.

In the movies
The stage tilted, people ran backwards and forwards, screaming
Not standing an hour in a supermarket car park, listening for a cough.

In the movies
A hero arose, muddy but glistening, wise, strong, marvellous, very good-looking,
Not a nurse, videoing herself, sitting crying in the car.

In the movies
The deaths were spectacular, somebody bad, ripped in half by a dinosaur,
Not an ordinary person, fighting for breath, surrounded by plastic.

In the movies
There was always a safe country, a place to run to, somewhere to aim for, salvation.
Now there is no country unaffected.

In the movies
The heroic leaped, jumped, had brainwaves, fought with swords or lasers,
Not just turned up for work, washed their hands or disinfected the shopping.

Now we find
The best thing to do is be kind to your neighbour
Be prudent, but not stockpile and use what you can.

Now we find
Our values are changing, those we previously rewarded
Don’t matter at all.

Now we find
Vacuous celebrities, pop stars, media influencers, athletes, promoters,
Less important than the delivery man or the girl behind the till.

Now we find
Terrorists advising terrorists to avoid Europe because it is dangerous
And drug runners in Africa taking food to the poor.

Now we find
The skies at last are clearing.  The aeroplanes have stopped; we see planets and stars.
In a few weeks of not adding to it, pollution has gone from the bay, the whales have returned.

Now we find
What it takes to lift our heavy foot from the Earth
And let the planet breathe out.

Now we find
The message cannot be more clear or obvious
We must change the way we live to be allowed to do it.

Now we find
The human race must stop racing,
Slow down, be kind, live gently on the Earth,
Value one another, husband resources,
Love our goldilocks planet and all that is on it
Be grateful for each breath we take, conscious of the universe.
Aware of our place in it, be small, be local,
Be honest, be considerate, be loving, be brave.

Now we find
Your best self,
Shut in a room with your mind.

This is the apocalypse,
How are you doing?

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Greeeeen.

I would like to talk to you about green.

Who is it?  I wish you wouldn’t mutter when you’re at the computer, read it in your head.

It’s Jane, she wants to talk to us about green.

What, Queen?  Bohemian Rhapsody, or the one doing weightlifting for the nation?

No, Green.

Oh.

Yes, green. In small amounts it can be a restful colour, such as this grass.

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Actually, that’s not very restful at all.  I should be doing something about the weeds.  I do have a bucket of stuff to feed the lawn, sort out the weeds and make the moss disappear.  It is a bucket of stuff and the stuff is still  in the bucket.  Won’t do much good there.  To be honest, the reason I’m reluctant to use it is that it will make the daisies vanish too.  I like daisies.  That picture is not at all restful, it’s a dilemma

Let’s try again.

Try what again?

I think she’s trying to grow grass again.

Well that’s not difficult, you can do it without the weeds if you use that bucket of stuff you used.  You should tell her.  Tell her about your bucket.

I can’t, I don’t know what it was called.

Have a look.

It’s down at the bottom of the shed, somewhere.  You go and look if you’re so keen.

Not right now, I’m reading this.

This is a better picture.

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It’s a pot of lilies, about to do their thing.  Oh dear, they’re full of holes.  That’ll be lily beetle.  Not only is it early in the season, I have no idea where the stuff for that is.  I knew.  It was in the garage on the shelf and then they took the roof off the garage and when they put the shelf back on the wall there was nothing on it but air.

I can’t get into the shed, it’s full of junk and dust.  You can’t breathe in there.

Oh I’ll email Jane, she’s got a shelf full of air, maybe she could send you some.

Anyway.  Under normal circumstances, with someone who had been gardening in the usual way instead of taking cups of tea to builders all winter, there would be a garden full of lovely green things right now which would have inspired that person to do a room with a feature wall that she wouldn’t realise until she had painted it three times

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was terribly green.

I’m looking at it on the computer and it doesn’t look half as green as it does in real life.  In reality it is very green.  It’s only one wall and it’s green. Very green.

What are you muttering green for, under your breath?

It’s not me, Jane’s got gangrene I think.  She’s certainly gone green.

Is she having a bad attack of the Sixties?

Maybe, you would think someone who had lived through it the first time would know better.  That orange wall in the coffee bar?

Oh yes, and that wallpaper your Aunt had, with the swirly brown and orange things that made your eyes go funny?  I never liked going there.

It wasn’t the wallpaper that put you off, it was the cooking.

Oh yes, remember the grey  supposedly mushy peas, like bullets!

Yes, and the rock cakes.

Oh yes, that time when you thought you’d broken your tooth and spat it out and it chipped the plate…

…but it was a raisin!  Baked hard like a bit of grit.  Yes.  Happy days.

So you would think when the OH and I were debating the colour to do the sun room at speed so the carpenter could lay the floor, we would have learned from my mistakes.  Sadly, the only colour we could agree upon at all was……….yes, ‘fraid so.

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Dear me, it’s bad enough in a feature wall but we did

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the lot.  Every last wall except the glass one.

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The lot.  The computer is being kind, sitting in the room is like being inside a cow’s first stomach with an undigested leprechaun high on four leafed clover.

Crikey.

What?

I think she’s finally away with the pixies, or at least with an undigested leprechaun.

You’ll read anything.

Fair enough, we’ve been locked in for a fortnight now.

You could always cut my toenails again if you’re bored, they’re growing quite quickly and you know I can’t get down there any more.  Now where are you off to?

I’m going to find your sandals in the junk in the bottom of the wardrobe and then you can just dangle your feet out of the window.

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Hello

Just a quick catch-up.  There are new readers, desperately trawling the Internet for anything to save them from filing off their corns with sandpaper, reaming out their fingernails with a teaspoon, or even, (the well known regular reader’s end-of-everything, terrible measure of last resort, ‘Bing Bong.  We have arrived at Last Resort Of Boredom. Disembark now. Bong bing.’ Cataloguing your sock drawer.  Oh yes.  Winter formal, on the left: two pairs ankle, black fine wool.  One pair mid calf, black nylon.  One pair welt missing left sock, thick wool, keep for wellies.  Brown one and half pairs synthetic, sweaty.  Brown one pair crispy.  Brown one pair pale, only goes with fawn trousers do not chuck yet.  Red with cat faces on, do not wear for work.  Pink flamingos, what possessed me?)

Oh yes, this is the blog so awful it’s the antidote to screaming boredom.

Well no. Not really.

JaneLaverick.com, is written by me, Jane (Laverick but not Laverick.com that’s just a disguise for Tinternet, did you spot me?)

Over ten years ago I began to write this blog following requests.  No, not the ‘Oi you, why don’t you just nakk orf an’ write a blog, eh?’  No, surprisingly, not that kind of request at all.  At the time I was slightly well-known in a tiny way for writing for craft and hobby magazines in the field of dolls and dolls’ houses.  I had started writing a funny column because I was asked if I could write, on the strength of some instructions I had included in a doll kit I had made.  It wasn’t meant necessarily to be the funny column but I was of the opinion that some of those involved in the miniatures hobby, at the time, were so far up themselves there was no visible daylight and I thought we all needed a laugh.  From that small beginning I expanded (this is inevitable.  Experiment by sitting writing for hours at a time, absolutely hours, whilst keeping yourself going with chocolate and you will find the same thing happening to you.)  I began to interview artists working in all disciplines in miniature.  I did it prior to shows, for publicity, but the artists complained that, as there was a six month lead-in for magazine publishing, it could only be used to tell collectors what they had made and sold six months ago.  Being artists the best stuff was the bit of art finished just before the show and plonked on the table, in a moment of triumph, often still wet round the edges.  What they wanted was to tell people the day before the show what was new and lovely.

So I started this blog, using my own name because miniaturists knew who I was (and I still am, but older) to help collectors, who did not want to miss the new stuff and artists (who didn’t want them to miss it either).

Then readers of my silly column asked if they could have more funny stuff but not just about dolls’ houses.  And The Parrot Has Landed flew down and perched.  I was a published child poet, hence Werse.  Subsequently intrusive family problems caused the Dementia Diaries, which found readers all round the world, as I shared what I had discovered and what helped, with carers who were trawling the Net for assistance in the wee small hours when the cared-for had finally fallen asleep.  Readers have been with me through two broken arms and cancer for the second time, though I sincerely hope this is never misery-lit.  I came in with a sense of humour through good times and bad, which might be why you found me now.

Ten years’ worth of reading can be accessed either by scrolling down to the bottom of the page and then clicking on ‘older entries’ or by clicking on the column on the right hand side.  There was a shop of my dolls attached and there might be again if the S&H has time to get it going again. 

There are a number of regular characters who appear as letters to protect their identities.  They are the OH (other half, my husband) the S&H (son and Heir to all my debts) The DIL (daughter-in-law) and I bet you can guess who the GDD and the GDS are; currently, respectively. four and three years old and very bright. The GDS ordered himself a huge toy lorry off the Internet when he was two and a half, first thing his mother knew of it was when it turned up at the front door.

Various people have written to ask why I have not monetised this site.  I could put adverts for things all over and the advertiser would pay me to do it.  I don’t like sites like that. It drives me nuts when you are reading something on the Internet and a pop-up pops up.  Screaming bananas. Do you mind!  I was reading that!  Nothing comes between me and my reading! Get out of my head! You were not invited!

That will never happen here.  This is a site for people who like reading the stuff I write.

In answer to other FAQs, yes I have written novels twice.  There was a set of miniature novels the right size for a doll to read. I have a full size comic novel waiting at its third submission currently and I am writing another now.

Yes you can get in touch with me, just click on the link at the bottom of this article.  Your communication appears in my email, I usually respond to genuine readers, many of whom have become good distant friends over the years.  I usually do not respond in foreign languages,  my Internet translation skills are not up to it.  Occasionally I get the S&H to translate but so far, every lengthy letter in a language I do not speak has been spam.  I only speak a few languages, perhaps I could learn Russian-Over-The Fence from my next door neighbour, who teaches it at the Local University.  I used to teach at a language college and understand ‘Pass the eraser, the teacher is not looking’ in many languages.

I post once or twice a week, in the current difficulty I try to post every week day.  I didn’t on Friday, I was decorating.  Regular readers will know that I have had the builders in for over six months trying to future-proof my house for old age, after seeing how my demented mother struggled with the stairs and how useful it would be to have enough rooms for folk to come and stay the night with their own bathroom.

Therefore I might be the only person you know who would currently welcome a bit of isolation.  After half a year of muddy boots tramping through every room, opening the bathroom door to find a man removing the toilet, watching hobnail boots dancing on the flowers and the all-pervasive smell of concrete and plaster dust, endlessly on everything,  and all my possessions in heaps on the sofa, on every surface, everywhere, filthy, solitude seems like a dream and a wish.  I am still trying to keep the carpenter going a bit longer in another room because he is self-employed and the government can’t help the self-employed until June and I am running out of biscuits.

So welcome new reader to JaneLaverick.com.  I’m Jane, pleased to meet you, don’t be a stranger.

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Worry.

At present thousands of people all round the world are worried.

Welcome to my world!

Just in case this is you, too, here are some irritating sayings about worry, that are, in themselves, so worryingly annoying they will replay in your head, like one of those earworm tunes, endlessly.  Eventually, if you say them often enough to the people who have the misfortune to be cooped up with endlessly worrying you, they will catch the irritation and beat you up to make themselves feel better and then you’ll have something else to worry about.  See, working already!

Worry is like a rocking chair, it doesn’t get you anywhere, it just gives you something to do.

Very true, it does.  The thing to do is something else.  This is the ideal time to learn to crochet, order a crochet hook, online, unravel the tank top your Auntie knitted that you can neither throw away nor wear, and get started.  In no time at all (because crochet is quite quick, what with the holes being deliberate) you’ll have turned out a small grey lump covered with finger grime and snivellings from where you’ve poked the hook up your fingernail, that you can burn ritually, when we are free.

Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

Yes it is and next week is the week you worried about last week and next month is the one where you worried you wouldn’t get any birthday presents and look, you haven’t.  Oh we can go on forever in this vein.  It’s like sitting in the dentist’s waiting room isn’t it?  No one ever sings in there and if they did, they’d get lynched.

The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave man only one.

Mangled.

No, no, no this is meant to allay your fears.  For some reason this posting is taking a rather dark turn.  Sorry.  I’ll try again.  Um.  Wish I hadn’t given that set of encyclopaedias to the charity shop.  They were full of wise sayings that I can’t now remember.  Let’s have a look at the Internet.

The man of think – wrong!

Yes, well this is what happens if you put worry into an automatic translator and feed it into a search engine.  Rubbish. On the other hand………. this could be instructive. The man of  think, hmm, well worry is a kind of thinking.  Not a very helpful one.  And it’s so tiring isn’t it, when you just lie there all night with the stuff going round and round in your head?  Round and round and round.  What if I’ve got it and I don’t know?  What if I’ve given it to our Kev through the letterbox when he only came by to post me half a toilet roll?  What if the woman I heard sneezing in the garden, sneezed it over the fence and it landed on a plant and a pigeon pecked the plant and then, when it did that poo on the washing and I scraped it off the towel with my fingernail (which by the way I wish I hadn’t done) and then wiped my hand on the other towel by the sink and that got on the plate somehow and we’ve all eaten it?  What if I get carted into hospital with this hairdo that I’ve cut myself because I thought I’d have time to grow it out?  What if the financial planning goes wrong and we end up actually having to eat the dried pasta?  I don’t even like dried pasta and I’ve got three cupboards full of it.

(I would like to point out at this point that this is only a sample worry.  I actually only have the usual jar with several strands of different colours of spaghetti that we’ve always had.  I stopped eating spag bog when I went vegetarian and he keeps buying healthy stuff when he hasn’t finished the last lot.  It is so old it’s harder than most of the building materials that have been hanging round here.  I wonder if you could use very old spaghetti as dolls’ house scaffolding?)

Anyway, back to the worry.  Back To The Pasta.  Sounds like a film title, um……..Sorry, easily distracted.

Right. Worry.  Worries are like people, they grow bigger if you nurse them.

Oooh, that’s so true.  With application and practice you can take a tiny worry and make it huge.  I did it all the time with cancer.  The future scenarios in my head that so far have not come to pass were endless and massive.  Worries are also like houseplants for some people, if you don’t water them they shrivel up, go brown round the edges and end up in the green dustbin, fairly quickly.  Then you have an empty pot for a nice new worry.  And I think now I will worry about…………..

Very unhelpful. Back to Tinternet.

Worry, dormouse of the small.

I think this is saying the same thing, really, difficult to tell. It popped up in some tourist information (which seems a bit laughable now) about some villages you can visit halfway up a mountain in an area of Europe, surprisingly, that has its own sayings and its own language.  It’s one of those languages that only exists for the oldest residents, who look a bit odd, to say the least, though this did come up absolutely first in famous sayings of those parts. It’s obviously very significant if you live up an isolated hill in a remote part of the mountains.  Maybe they breed the dormice as a food source.  The Romans did.  Maybe they worry that the dormice will not breed and they’ll all go hungry.  Maybe they only want small dormice, though to be fair, dormice are pretty titchy anyway. Maybe it’s the dormice who are worried. If I’d been bred for food I’d be worried.  My stomach could keep a larger carnivore going for ages.  Wouldn’t be healthy though, too fatty.

Worry gives a small thing a big shadow.

It’s that dormouse again.  Running up the hill in the sunset to look gigantic. Maybe that’s what it’s all about.  Villagers telling their children ‘Beware the giant dormouse of the evening.’  But in foreign.  With an accent probably.  You know, ‘Beewar he Hiant dormous hov he hevhenhing.  Hoop!’  Yes the dormice fight back! (I’m on the side of the dormice, are you?)

Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil.

Aristotle said that. And he knew a thing or two.  And was really keen to tell everyone about it.  I bet he was a pain in the neck to live with.  And I have got this pain in my neck, now I mention it, and there’s no way I’m going near a hospital with it.  I’ll just have to worry about it on my own without medical supervision.  That’s a worry, it is. Could be a congenital weakness of the neck that will make my head drop off.  You see them, people, with dropped off heads, carrying them in shopping baskets, up near their ears, I bet it makes your arms tired. Then you would get exhausted and drop down dead just like that after only six or seven years of carrying your head in a shopping basket and it would be such a difficult thing to dress.  What would you wear to go with your head in a shopping basket?  ‘This spring head baskets will be yellow with a hint of dormouse.’

The dormice – I’d forgotten about the dormice!  I was worrying about them very successfully. I was just about to give them names.  Here is Jamie Dormouse due to be eaten next week, in a sandwich, with butter and just a light dab of pickle, sprinkle of salt, parsley on the side…………..

Sorry, I worry I’m watching too many cookery programmes.  Well, I am, you can tell.  Back to Internet sayings.

Sock of the rubbing cream, no worry.

Well! That’s quite enough of that sort of thing.

Dear me, you could worry yourself silly looking stuff up on the Internet, shan’t do that.

What shall I do this afternoon? I know, I’ll have a go at crocheting a bird bath out of dental floss. and knicker elastic.  What could go wrong with that?

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Late, late.

I’m late, late posting.

Apologies to anyone who arrives at lunchtime to have a look, having worked out that I spend each morning writing it.

I do, but this morning I was getting a first coat of paint on the new bathroom cupboard.  We were lucky to be able to source the all-surfaces primer.  I am so keen to get this cupboard in use because then I can clear all the bathroom stuff I have been tripping over in the corridor for months and months.  There’s a box housing the toilet roll holder, three half-empty bottles of bleach, several really manky cloths and some skincare gel.

There’s the toilet brush and holder, which has turned up at very odd places all over the house for months.  For weeks it was down beside my bed, I worried about having a virus nightmare and waking up to find I was scrubbing myself with the toilet brush.

Then there are rolls of lino, old lino, cut lino and a bit of carpet and an (as in one) emergency toilet roll, because that’s how we roll round here, though you’d have to be desperate, after it’s been travelling up and down the corridor for months.

There’s a bath mat, though we no longer have a bath, caution with throwing things away is ingrained.  I remember having showers in the bath before we got the mat and how dangerous that was.  One slip in the altogether landing on enamelled metal…ooh it would be like coming off your toboggan on the Cresta run.  I will eventually manage to chuck it, though I may have to cut it down into a wiggly-edged shower mat first.

I believe the current difficulties and unavailability of household items may make those of us with the chuck-out mentality reverse our opinions.  I remember being shocked when my mother told a carer to throw the bath mat away because it looked a bit dirty.  All it needed was a good wash, a scrub round the sides and drying on the line.  Thanks to the endless arrival of the in-laws when we were first married, we were not unduly put-out in the last crash because we never had anything during the boom.  When comedians were waving bank notes around in the Eighties and shouting about loads of money, we did not laugh; we were riding into Dodge to see the Loan Arranger, getting shot of debt as soon as, and living off fresh air.

So yes, bath mat, keeping.

Every last bit of building material is going to the builder to keep him going a bit longer, because many of his men are self-employed and will have about eight to ten weeks to survive until the government can bail out the self-employed.

It’s all about keeping going, which has been normal for round here forever.  So, nice cupboard, yes please.

What is in your cupboard?  Is it anything you are just going to hurl away when normality returns?  If so, why is it in your cupboard?

It’s the William Morris saying isn’t it?  Have nothing in your house which is not beautiful or useful.

And I don’t.

It’s all in the shed.

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