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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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.


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


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.


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


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.


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


the lot.  Every last wall except the glass one.

P4070797 (2)

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.



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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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., is written by me, Jane (Laverick but not 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  I’m Jane, pleased to meet you, don’t be a stranger.


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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.


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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In the current difficulty we are all looking for wisdom to get us through and out the other side and we are all also, searching the Internet for inspiration.

But will it help?

Picking up my investigative journalist mac (beige with shoulder flaps), my investigative journalist scarf (tan with red squares),  my survival gloves (blue plastic with a hint of bleach)  and my investigative journalist notebook (Princess pink with sparkles – the granddaughter, I fear. She has my notebook,  I have hers, I hope she hasn’t coloured-in my shopping list again, though, to be fair, all it said was toilet rolls.) I set out to investigate wise sayings and words of wisdom generally.  There were a few wise sayings that I remembered but, in the absence of the local library, I was obliged to trawl Tinternet and put those I found into translation, with varying success.  So there’s your first tested axiom, Wisdom is common to all mankind. Yes and then again, no.

You should always try to strike the happy medium.

Due to the social distancing rules, the only medium I could find still doing seances and fortune telling sessions, was in the next town.  Getting my daily exercise, I walked there, knocked on the door with my survival gloves and sat at one end of her lengthy hall on the bottom step of the stairs, while she sat up the other end half way into the kitchen with a pack of tarot cards, some cooked chicken entrails (in gravy) and a supermarket pack of fortune telling prunes.  It was clear, even at that distance, that she had been imbibing and was thoroughly well-oiled.  In between hiccups she called on her spirit guide, Big Blankie, for assistance and to ask if there was anyone there.  At that precise point there was a loud knocking and I nearly fell off the step.  It turned out, however, to be an Uber driver delivering a sandwich, which leads me to think that if a fortune was being told, it was probably hers.  Taking advantage of her dashing up the hall to grab the sandwich, I hit her with a wooden spoon I had brought in my handbag for the purpose.  I say hit, but it was more of a light tap, being only a sauce spoon and nothing as substantial as, say, a ladle.  Surprisingly, she immediately turned nasty, wrestled me to the hall floor and pinged me repeatedly with the Eight of Wands.  I scrambled to my feet, retreated in a  hail of prunes, and legged it back home.

I am certainly getting my daily exercise but have decided that particular saying is a total fallacy.  Do not try to hit the happy medium. Even if she is really sozzled she will fight back.  Keep your distance, there is a lot of astrology online and anything else you fancy in the fortunes-telling universe, without having to sit on the bottom of the stairs at all, or fall off them (unless you’ve been able to source some supermarket sherry in plastic litre bottles yourself, of course.)

It’s a long road that has no turning.

A very good axiom to test in the current difficulties, methinks.  I set to, though it may have been unwise to choose the A1M for walking.  There was very little traffic, just Uber drivers delivering sandwiches, and I was making good progress but what with the clocks going forward and so forth I was nowhere even near Scotch Corner when I realised that if I didn’t turn round I wouldn’t get back home for supper, let alone tea.  As my pace slowed, I began to wonder if I would get the opportunity to spill cereal and a cup of tea all over my very own duvet ever again and by the time I got back, finally given a lift by a kindly policeman who didn’t think a pensioner ought to be walking along the motorway at three in the morning, I could feel my feet all the way up to my neck.

Therefore I have been unable, investigatively, to prove this saying true, or a fallacy.  Though the A1 is a very long road. It was long in a car, long ago, right now, on foot, even without the traffic, it is a long road. A very long road. It may or may not have a turning, an underpass or even a roundabout. Couldn’t find out. Sorry.

The darkest hour is just before dawn.

No idea, fell asleep with my ear in the cereal bowl (all that walking.)

The better the day, the better the deed.

The problem with this is – which is the better day?  Surely this is personal choice?  For all I know you could be extremely fond of Wednesday – who is to say?  You might be hot on beginnings and only ever celebrate your birthday on a Monday.  You might be a traditionalist and absolutely adore Friday afternoon half past four.  You know, it’s up to you. So I’m a bit stuck on this one.  I would do a deed if I knew which was the better day, I really would.  If you have an opinion on this one, do email (though please spell check it – there were problems yesterday with an email.)

Happy some potato, happy some jar.

This is one of the translated sayings. Um.

I’ll come back to that one.*

Elbows off the table.

Ah, now, yes. I can do this straightaway and you can help.  Try to type on your keyboard with your elbows on the table.  See?  Can’t be done, at all.  So that saying, absolutely true.  Excellent.  And, what is better, if hundreds and hundreds of readers do it it will be as proved as anything. Oh yes. – empirical research of the finest kind.  Elbows off the table, proven, certified, tick.  Gold star.  Award of the British Institute of Something. Great.

Notable shoes – steal of the puppy.

This is one of those translation sayings off the Internet. I haven’t got a dog handy but I don’t imagine anyone would argue with that, it’s just what they do, isn’t it?

What goes around comes around.

As you know we’ve been all topsy-turvy because of the building work, so I was delighted, doing a little desultory clearing, to come across a boomerang that we’d brought back from Australia.  This has to be the most perfect thing to prove this saying.  Practically designed for it.

Accordingly I took the boomerang into the garden and hurled it.

We have many neighbours and, naturally, it was the one with a garden like  a wilderness that it had to land in.  You can see the dent from the bedroom window where it plunged through the long grass.  I’ll never get that back, that’s for sure, and no chance in the current difficulties of fetching another one.  Very annoying.  Hmm.


Up the long hill – him miplet.

There are strong indications that this saying may have originated on a very small volcanic island in the Pacific. One with a lot of interbreeding, I shouldn’t wonder.  One of those entirely natural places ringed with a plastic drink-bottle topped atoll.  Can’t really help you here.  Unless – miplet, miplet.

Miplet – no. Sorry.

He who pays the piper calls the tune.

The castle is shut to tourists for the first time since the Normans planted it on the edge of town.  The locals were not very willing tourists in those dark times, obviously, and what they mainly toured around were the dungeons.  Nevertheless, in recent times the place has been beset by jugglers, pipers, falconers and the like, all casual labour and all let go in the present crisis. You can’t move in Marks and Spencer for troubadours and the chemist next door had six, count them, six rat handlers up the hair dye isle, it was awful.

Anyway, spotting a penny whistler outside the grocers I flung him ten pence and shouted over that I would like Toccata, Fugue and Bells in a minor key, if he would be so good.

Well – you should have heard the language!  Telling me to Something off was the least of it.  And he picked up the ten pence and pocketed it.

Disgusting. He should think himself lucky I hadn’t asked for the last night of the Proms.

So – not true.  Call all you like, won’t work.

All small birds tringle.

Yes they do, open the window, you can hear them doing it.  Spring in the air!***


*Or not, as the case may be.

Feel as free to send me sayings to research as I will to ignore you. Keeping the nation smiling**

**Or it might just be wind.

***More of an observation than an instruction, really, but if you feel inclined……..

…….warm up first. Don’t want to end up in A&E. So, spring in the air very cautiously and gently.  Not so much a spring as a stand up.


Thank you.

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A Reader Emails……….

Hello Jane.

Hello Reader, what can I do for you?

Jane, in the present difficulties, is it important in life to have a papoose?

Um, oh, well.  (Think positivity, Jane, think positivity.)  Of course it is.

It is important in life to have a papoose.

Well, it is.  Let’s think what that can actually mean. In fact, let’s have a look at a papoose.

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Here he is. His name is Algernon and he is out for his daily exercise on a walk with his mum, Minihoho

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and his dad, Cowabunga.  Looks like Algernon is kicking off a bit, don’t worry, Cowabunga will sort him out, he’s a good dad.

Cowabunga has a friend, Fordfocus, sometimes they share fatherly duties and look after Algernon and his friend Dostoyevski Kevin the Third.

I know!  Upwardly mobile or what!  These papoose – papoosooses? Papice?  Anyway whatever the plural is, they are going places, mainly out for a walk with their dads.


and their dads seem to think it’s important to have a papoose. Papice, whatever.  They are hanging on to them.  So, yes as far as their dads are concerned it is important to have a papoose.  They would probably get into trouble if they went home without a papoose.  You can just imagine it.  ‘Oh Hello Cowabunga, I’m glad you’re back. Where is Algernon?  What have you done with the baby? You know it’s important in life to have a papoose, a reader emailed about it.  What have you done with ours?  Where is our papoose?  I hope you haven’t left him outside the castle, we don’t want to end up with a vampire papoose, doesn’t bear thinking about.  Where is my papoose? I need a papoose.  It’s important.’

They do go out with their mums, of course.


Though that can create difficulties for the papice.


Here are the papice, Algernon and Dostoyevski Kevin the Third out with Minihoho and her friend Queen Countess Sharon of The Top Shops.

(You see, they get it from their mothers, I always said this when I was teaching.  There is nothing we, as gifted and brilliant teachers, can do in a mere six hours a day in the classroom, when they’re at home, usually, for the other –hang on, let me borrow your fingers – eight, no wait, six from twenty four, oh that’s a lot, could you take your socks off? Ah, got it now,  thanks, eighteen – knew there was an eight somewhere – hours a day.)

Fortunately Queen Countess Sharon of the Top Shops and Fordfocus are good parents.  They play with Dostoyevski Kev all the time and take him for lovely walks past the Transylvanian castle, fairly quickly, as you do on the wide prairies.

I seem to be struggling a bit with this posting, lets have a look at that email – hmm, is it important in life to have a papoose?

Well, these papice are quite strong.

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Here they are lifting the scissors.  I didn’t realise quite how strong they were until I lost one of them, whilst I was doing the photos and found him right under a huge pack of really heavy card.


Not squashed at all.

So I tried them both out, weight lifting a box of cotton reels (I’m going to take up quilting again when I have time, I could do with twelve weeks with nothing to do, highly unlikely but it would give me time.  As it is, I hardly know if I’m going to get the teddy bear hotel for the grandchildren started, never mind finished. I’ve got a ton of real life one-scale painting to do, you know how it is.)  Anyway, papice, cotton reels.


On your head son!  Actually no, you’re not allowed to do that now in case it damages your brain.  Though to be fair they don’t look that bright and with a name like Dostoyevski Kevin The Third and a mother called Queen Countess Sharon Of The Top Shops he’s probably going to end up as a second-hand car salesman at best.  Apprentice to a dog food delivery man, rising to in-van sack-arranger after six years. Sad really, stuffed before you start, with a name like that.

Positivity Jane, positivity!

I’m sure papice can be useful somehow, they are very small and stiff.

Oh!  I know!

Yes it is important to have a papoose in life because they are just the right size for unblocking the glue bottle!

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Perfect. I’m sending him in now!  Hum the Indiana Jones music –

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See? Wonderful.

So yes, emailing reader, it is important to have a papoose in life because you can use it for unblocking the glue nozzle. Fabulous.  I’m glad we got that sorted and happy to answer your questions in the crisis.  I have as much uninformed opinion as anyone needs.  Happy to help.  Ask Jane.

And finally here are Minihoho, Cowabunga, Fordfocus and Queen Countess Sharon of The Top Shops with Algernon and Dostoyevski Kevin the Third all off, after the present difficulties, in search of a party and barbeque or at least a playground well away from the nearest Transylvanian castle.

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A reader emails back

My spellchecker is on the blink and I can’t get the local computer mending man to come out.  I meant to write purpose.  Is it important in life to have a purpose?  I don’t want a small porcelain native American baby, I’m having enough trouble at the moment with the cat.

Jane replies.

Oh!  PURPOSE.  Of course, purpose, Well it all makes sense, now.

No sorry, haven’t a clue.



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Taking care of you.

I’m a bit late posting this morning.

I went supermarket shopping.  A shop that would normally have taken half an hour in the supermarket closest to my house has taken two hours.  It was necessary to be queued in the car park, two metres apart, to get into the store.  It was very cold, the queue, which was meant to be over-sixties, was long and the wind was howling round the (relatively) empty car park.  For the first time in the crisis I bought more than three days worth of food.  If I can avoid doing the queueing, or limit food shopping to once a week, I’ll be happier.

When I got home I had to disinfect everything (I wipe all the packaging with disinfectant, then I wash my gloves in disinfectant) before I could put it away and then, finally, oh hooray, I was able to utilise the facilities.  Mafeking was relieved, Ladysmith was reprieved and I uncrossed my legs.

So a very short posting ( I am going to find a sunny spot indoors, by a window and warm up) ends with practical advice.

This is the first time I’ve given advice in the current difficulty and it is this.  If you are going out shopping, visit the smallest room first and wear your thickest knickers and a nice woolly vest, dear.  A supermarket car park is not at all super to stand in for an hour in the cold.

Stay warm, stay strong, be cheerful.


Forthcoming attractions –

How to cut the hair of your spouse with the bacon scissors and still stay married.

How to make a wind-up phonograph with empty baked bean tins.

How to entertain the children with string.

Teaching your teenage son the National Curriculum Advanced Physics.

Modelling with earwax.

Introduction to the Encyclopaedia of Trivia Volume One.  Interesting facts about felt insoles.

Holidays – did anyone really enjoy them that much? Active Internet debate.

For adults of a certain age – The Joy Of Custard.


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Always someone worse off…….

I cannot quite remember, nor find it online, but there was a comedian who always used to say, ’There is always someone worse off than you and his name is…………….’ Please email and tell me if you know.  Possibly Eric Sykes, ooh I did love him, do you remember him and Hattie Jacques playing twins living together with their cuckoo clock, Peter?  You can find the series online, there are many shows to watch.

Right now the saying ‘there is always someone worse off than you’ is absolutely true if you are able to read this indoors in the warm.

In the current difficulties, while still living on a building site, I have been trying to keep some of the builders employed.  Building is a trade with many self-employed sub contractors.  Currently in the UK the money situation for the self-employed is fluid.  Our carpenter is one such.  As he lives alone, has been coming for untold months and can work in another room, use another toilet and eat in his van, I am trying to keep him in work until supplies run out.

One of the jobs still to be done is the new staircase.  It has been lying in the garage as a kit of parts for a couple of months.  So it was decided for the sake of employment that the carpenter would fit the staircase today, assisted by the OH, which left me and the OH clearing junk from under the staircase until midnight last night.  This involved emptying and moving my big dolls’ house and the wash stand, full of glasses, and the sports equipment and and and (who knew there was so much stuff under the stairs?)

Round about eight at night the OH got very ratty. He is on very reduced alcohol and got to the bit where even me breathing was annoying and screamed words to that effect quite a lot.*

I don’t do crying. I remember being three years old and deciding I would never give my mother the satisfaction.  She, being a control freak, was delighted if she could make someone cry, especially me.  She had a particular facial expression, pleased and slightly to the right of insane, if I cried.  So I trained myself not to do it.  So I don’t.  At my cousin’s funeral there were boxes of tissues everywhere; I recall wondering why.

So last night, verbally attacked, I got rather thoughtful and at this point thought of that saying that there is always someone worse off than you, and began to make a mental list of who they might be.  Here’s the list:

Child carers –there are thousands of these people who do not have a childhood at all, all round the world.  Children who, as soon as they are able, are pressed into service looking after an older family member. Maybe a short-tempered older family member.  Maybe a family member who has physical needs which are not pleasant to deal with.  Instead of getting some hours a day escape at school those children are locked in with the ailing family member.

Children in difficult homes.  Some children will be locked in with family members in withdrawal from drink and drugs.  People in withdrawal are very unpredictable and frequently frightening.  If you are the sort of person who has a prayer list, you might want to save the children in your prayers.

The very old.  People over ninety have just been told here by the government not to go to hospital.  I am old enough to have an inkling of how frightening some of the conditions of age can be.  Bits drop off or stop working and, whilst you don’t necessarily have massive faith in young doctors and nurses, many of whom appear increasingly wet behind the ears, it is reassuring to have reassurance.  I used to be included in my mother’s hospital visits to the geriatrician.  The geriatrician was a person one hundred per cent right for the job she was doing.  My mother loved her.  The doctor usually started by telling my mother how smart she was looking, how bright she was for her age, how eloquent and so on.  She didn’t just butter her up, she laid it on with a trowel so thick you could have laid bricks on it.  My mother lapped it up, to the extent of ‘ Is it time to see my special doctor yet?’  ‘No, you saw her last week.’  ‘Are you sure? You know how bad your maths is.  I don’t think so.  Ring her. Now.’ 

Yes she did love that doctor and, as conditions are now, how lucky she was to have her.  Someone worse off than you is anyone who needs medical assistance and cannot now get it.

My cousin died at home, quietly without drama and with attendance from his wife, not wearing a mask or plastic clothing and was then able to have the funeral he planned with friends coming together from all over the country.  Which now seems a wonderful thing.  On to the list go all those whose final moments will not be peaceful, whose families will not be in attendance.  And all those who will not be able to have a ceremony, a funeral, an ending that celebrates a life.

I have been barrier nursed.  The second time, I think, I turned up in hospital with blood in copious amounts coming out of either end.  I was put in a room on my own.  Before people came in they suited up.  I could not see their faces.  They stood well back from me unless they had to check anything.  There was a bin by the door.  Standing on the other side of the door they took off all the protective clothing, turned it inside out, reached through the door and put it in the bin.  I thought ‘Oh gosh, what have I got that the doctors are so frightened of?’  If this is not you, or not you yet, be so glad, you are blessed,

Someone unsure of where the money is coming from to eat tomorrow.  Been there done that.  When the S&H was four months old my mother brought me a tin of biscuits.  I lived off that tin of biscuits for several weeks because I was using my child allowance to feed my in-laws, who were staying every other week for four days when my mother-in-law was demented.  The main money was paying the mortgage, the petrol and food for the OH, who at the time was in his research post on Legionnaires.  It was important he had enough food to keep his brain working.  I worried so much.  I remember looking in the tin, watching the biscuits dwindle.  Dear, it was so desperate I even ate the custard creams.  Fortunately I was able to get part-time work back at the college do exam prep, just before the biscuits ran out.  It was a close call and I lost inches off my hips.  Boy was I svelte!  (Didn’t last long.) So anyone being barrier-nursed goes on the list as do the nurses doing the nursing.  All frightened and doing it anyway.  Not you, not me, lucky us.

Anyone very depressed or overwhelmed by the current situation.  Point them in this direction.  I will keep blogging, something cheerful, something uplifting.  I’ll try to do it every day but have weekends off.  As long-term readers know there is ten years worth of free reading on this site, just scroll down and keep scrolling.  I ain’t Shakespeare,  just a short, tubby writer, cheerful in the face of everything.

The very very bottom line on this one is that you will either survive, in which case you will have survived, or you will die in which case you will be out of it and no longer have problems.  Those are the only two possibilities.  If you are here now, reading this, you are one of the lucky ones.  We’ll be OK you and me.  We can do this.

Whilst, as I wrote yesterday, many of us have been given a twelve week gift by the government. we still only live one day at a time.  If nothing bad has happened today, then it is a good day.  Do the gratitude list at the end.  Don’t be lonely, email me. I’ll reply.  We will live one day at a time.  That is all you are ever asked to do.

And, of course, be glad you are not a politician.  They wanted power, they got it and now…………

Ours are looking a bit knackered to say the least.  Oh yes, be glad you’re not a politician.**


*And we subsequently discovered, had forgotten to take his medication two days running.  If your normal schedule has been disrupted, for goodness sake, remember to take your medication.

**And have you seen some of the hairstyles politicians have, round the world? I think it’s a requirement.  I wonder if you can pick them out at school?  ‘You – mouthy little know-all with the toilet brush hairstyle – politics for you, I’ll tell the career teacher.’  ‘No Miss, I won’t.  I want to be liked and would like to pass a law to that effect.’  ‘Politics it is then.’

Yes, personally speaking, it could always be worse.

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Twelve weeks to SuperYou.

The only thing that all life on the planet has in common, is time.

We all have the time of our life, whatever and whoever we are and no matter how short or long.

What are you going to do with your time?  How are you going to spend it?

Usually bound up with getting and spending, nurturing, working, achieving, raising, busy busy busy, quite suddenly many of us round the world have been given twelve weeks in isolation by the government.

Twelve weeks is a great gift, from the government to us and from us to the world to save it.

And to save the world you don’t even have to wear a cape and fly around in your underpants.  Result!

All you have to do is stay home and use your free gift of twelve weeks.  What are you going to do with yours?

Twelve weeks is enough to learn the rudiments of a foreign language.  What ever device you are reading this on will have the ability to access the foreign language of your choice, this is your chance to make a friend you would never have made in a country you may never visit, in their language, as slowly as you like.

Twelve weeks is enough to dress enough dolls to fill half a six foot table (just saying.)

Twelve weeks is enough to plant some seeds of flowers, salad or vegetables and get them germinated and growing.  For fast salad crops it’s even enough to harvest and eat them.

Twelve weeks is enough to learn the rudiments of a musical instrument.  Have you got a musical instrument lying around the house somewhere? We do not consider ourselves musical but here we have an inherited organ. (I’ll leave a space here for you to make up your own jokes.  It is of a generous size and brown FYI.) (It was all the OH had, apart from some war medals, from his dad.)  We have a penny whistle. We have my old recorder.  If you do not have such instruments I bet you have saucepans you could learn to do drumming upon.  All drummers are slightly mad but in the current climate this will never be noticed and, if you are really frustrated by the situation, bashing it out with a wooden spoon on the back of a pan will do you the world of good.  (There will be a later column on do-it-yourself divorces for marriages where one half suddenly espouses drumming.)

Twelve weeks is long enough to learn to draw.  In a later column I will show you my portraits.  (Haven’t got etchings, may take that up, too.) The most crucial aid to success is to get the lines in the right places.  All you need is some paper and an eraser.  If you are running out of paper you can use the back of leftover wallpaper, brown paper bags, shopping lists and so on.  As long as it is a flat, smooth surface you can draw on, you can do it.  You are focussed on reproducing whatever you see before you. Any object, any view, any person, pet, picture on a screen, doesn’t matter what, the aim is the acquisition of skill.  In twelve weeks you can acquire  lot of skill, practice is what it takes, time is what you’ve got.

Learn to juggle.  Two or three objects, similar size and weight.  Ideally not the cat, the dog and the cooked chicken from the supermarket, but. you know.

Teach the old dog new tricks.  Teach the cat to fetch.  Learn to speak goldfish.

The old student trick from long ago………rearrange the books in the bookcase, tallest on the left, shortest on the right, then catalogue them.

Read all the books you were going to read but never had time to get round to.  You can find them online.  Shakespeare, Plato, Dostoyevsky, Ibsen, Kafka, Darwin, Chaucer……….  The list is long.  These are the people who changed the world with words.  This is your chance to get to know them and find out how they changed the world with words.  It is completely amazing that you can do such a thing, but you can.

Why not write your own life story? You are the person best qualified in the entire world to do this.  It is a great legacy you can leave to the future and to your descendants.  Samuel Pepys, politician, diarist and author, lived through plague and the Great Fire of London.  His writings of the time are a very valuable historical document.  You could be  a similar historian of all that is happening right now, if you write it down.

Instead of rubbishing cookery shows on television have a go yourself. It’s amazing what you can make with basic stuff. flour, fat, sugar, an egg (that’s a lot of biscuits, right there.  You don’t have to eat them all at once, biscuits and cake freeze, hard biscuits will keep in a tin for weeks.)

Learn poetry off by heart.  This is wonderfully old fashioned and sooooooooooooooo good for your brain. Learn the lyrics to your favourite pop songs properly.  Go on, all the words in the correct order. I dare you.

Learn to dance.  Tap is the thing I always wanted to have a go at.  But I do often dance as I work out to music.

That’s the next one, work out a work out for yourself and then work it out.  The OH paid good money to join a step class, all they did was step on and off a step to music. Quickly, slowly, bouncy, stand on one leg, while flapping your arms, singing, both feet up, both feet down.  And he paid money for that.  Well, I’ll go to the foot of our stairs.

Have you watched Groundhog Day?  This is our Groundhog day.  At the end of twelve weeks you can emerge, blinking,  into the sunshine as the artist, linguist, juggler, know-all, baker, poet, drummer, nutritionist, and anything else you want to be., that you have always wanted to be.  No one will have seen you practise.  No one will have witnessed the awful, screechy bits, the falling off the step (stay safe, A&E may be a bit busy if you break something), the tasty biscuits that looked awful.  What will emerge into the sunshine to amaze is a talented individual, a newly wonderful person.  You, 2.0.  Redesigned.  Better. New improved.

Twelve weeks is the chrysalis.  Enter a slug, come out as a superstar butterfly.

Get busy, you’ve probably only got twelve weeks before the ghastliness that is modern living recommences.  Appalling relatives, who mainly view you as a cheap source of food, are waiting, poised horribly ‘When all this is over dear we’ll come and stay for six weeks.  Your father has his old trouble back, so our house could do with an airing, we can’t wait.’

Twelve weeks to change the way the world sees you.  Twelve weeks to SuperYou.


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