Freshly Pressed

I am shocked to announce that I have been Freshly Pressed.

What? What just happened?

I don’t know. I don’t quite understand how posts are chosen, but chosen was one of mine and for that I am entirely unable to respond in a sensible or meaningful way. I have been babbling in a dark corner since I found out.

Anyway, thank you to WordPress, and welcome to any visitors – I am the Electronic Bag Lady (EBL for short). Please come on in and find a chair. People will shuffle up to make room. We’re a friendly bunch and very snuggly. The kettle is always on, and there are biscuits in the tin. Or fruit if that’s your poison. If it is, I’ll have a word with you later when things get quieter.

What is life like in EBL Towers? If you fancy any or all of the following you may want to come by more often:

  • I try to post at least monthly in support of Bloggers for Peace organised by Kozo over at
  • I tend to ramble meaninglessly about life as an IT Project Manager in the UK Public Sector
  • I live in God’s Own County of North Yorkshire (northern England) so that will regularly appear in posts as well. Just so you know – you never ask if someone is from Yorkshire. If they are, they soon tell you; if they are not, there is no need to humiliate them.
  • I suffer from depression so may appear a little dark and sombre at times. Be gentle. I hope one day to contribute to the Mental Health Awareness blog project but am not there yet.
  • I care for a demented mother. I may have a moan about that now and then. I need to let it out.
  • I acquired a partner (Sigoth) and Offspringses earlier in life and they have made living worthwhile.
  • I also suffer from nostalgia so keep telling stories about my younger days. Often the same one repeatedly. I am currently 51 in case you care to put that into perspective.
  • You will not then be surprised to learn that I also enjoy researching my family tree.
  • I am participating in the Quaker Alphabet Project 2014, reflecting on life as a British Quaker in (you’ll never guess) 2014! What – you did guess? Great, I like smart people. They give me hope. Please stay.
  • I knit, so the occasional knitted product is presented to my grateful audience – enjoy!
  • I am teaching myself Old English, what was spoke by the likes of Alfred the Great and the Venerable Bede. Because I can, in case you ask.

So have a look around my other posts and see if you want to be friends. It would be great if you called by more often. Say hello in the comments and tell me a bit about you too.


Christmas Story

Well my dears, Christmas looms upon us and I wish you the merriest of times. Father Christmas is already underway to the East, wise man that he is, and children off all ages are waiting with bated breath to find out if they have been judged naughty or good this year.

I wanted to share the Christmas story with you in a new format (or rather, in an old one!). I am not a Christian myself but I do like the story as a reminder of our need to give thanks for the world we live in and for the love we all receive daily, be it from family, friends or the universe herself.

Back in the period colloquially, and wrongly, known as the Dark Ages, the people living in southern Britain were converted to Christianity, and their leaders temporal and spiritual were keen to share the teachings of the Bible with them in their own language. King Alfred the Great was called Great for many reasons. He was a great warrior, who defeated the Viking invaders when all seemed lost. Never mind Leonidas and his Spartans; Alfred’s victory from the marshes of Somerset was pivotal to the evolution of our nation. But here at EBL Towers we purse our lips at stories of military derring-do and prefer to focus on other aspects of Alfred’s greatness. If you are interested and want to know more about him and his amazing daughter and grandson I can do no more than recommend Michael Wood’s recent three part series, of which at least two episodes are available on YouTube.

Episode 1 is here:

Episode 2 is here:

For Alfred was also a great scholar and translated many key texts from classical authors, including parts of the Bible. I don’t think he worked on the gospels of the New Testament himself, preferring to keep to the Pentateuch and Psalms, but nevertheless others did. What I want to share with you today is the Christmas Story from Luke ch 2 v1-20 as read in many a church at this time of year. It was also read to the faithful in those days and in these words, and that very thought gives me the shivers. I can connect much more closely with Old English texts from 1000 years ago than with those from classical antiquity. The language is the root of my daily speech and it feels like home.

So here is the story, with the King James version underneath to aid reading. If I had had time I would have read it aloud for you but sadly I ran out of days.

Lucas II

Þis sceal on mydde-wintres mæsse-niht, to þære forman mæssan

To be read as the lesson on mid-winter’s night mass

1 Soþlice on þam dagum waes geworden gebod fram þam Casere Augusto, þæt eall ymb-hwyrft wære tomearcod

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2 Ðeos tomearcodnys waes aerest geworden fram þam deman Syrige Cirino.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3 And ealle hig eodon and syndrie ferdon on heora ceastre.

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4 Ða ferde losep fram Galilea of þære ceastre Nazareth, on ludeisce ceastre Dauides, seo ys genemned Bethleem ; forþam  þe he wæs of Dauides huse and hirede

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5 Þaet he ferde mid Marian þe him beweddod wæs, and wæs geeacnod.

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6 Soþlice wæs geworden, pa hig þær wæron, hyre dagas wæron gefyllede þæt heo cende.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And heo cende hyre frumcennedan sunu, and hyne mid cild-claþum bewand, and hyne on binne alede ; forþam þe hig næfdon rum on cumena-huse.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 And hyrdas wæron on þam ylcan rice waciende, and niht-wæccan healdende ofer heora heorda.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 Ða stod Dryhtnes engel wið hig, and Godes beorhtnes hym ymbe scan : and hig him myclum ege ondredon.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And se engel him to cwæþ : Nelle ge eow ondrædan : Soþlice nu ic eow bodie mycelne gefean, se biþ eallum folce.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 Forþam todæg eow ys Hælend acenned, se ys Dryhten Crist, on Dauides ceastre.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And þis tacen eow byþ; Ge gemetaþ an cild hræglum bewunden, and on binne aled.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger

13 And þa wæs færinga geworden mid þam engle mycelnes heofenlices weredes, God heriendra, and þus cweþendra :

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Gode sy wuldor on heahnysse, and on eorþan sybb, mannum godes willan.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And hit wæs geworden, þa þa englas to heofene ferdon, þa hyrdas him betwynan spræcon, and cwædon : Uton faran to Bethleem, and geseon þæt word þe geworden ys, þæt Dryhten us ætywde.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And hig efstende comon, and gemetton Marian, and losep, and þæt cild on binne aled.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 Ða hig þæt gesawon, þa oncneowon hig be þam worde þe him gesæd wæs be þam cilde.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And ealle þa þe gehyrdon, wundredon be þam þe him þa hyrdas sædon.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 Maria geheold ealle þas word on hyre heortan smeagende.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20 Ða gewendon ham þa hyrdas, God wuldriende and heriende, on eallum þam þe hig gehyrdon and gesawon, swa to him gecweden wses.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.



So now I wish to you – Glad Geol and Gesælig Niw Gear

B4Peace: All together now!

‘Tis the season to be jolly and here I am stuck with some damn fool piece of nonsense about organising a party. I’m the Electronic Bag Lady for God’s sake. Do I look like someone who organises parties? Exactly.

But Kozo asks, so Kozo gets. This month for Bloggers for Peace challenge is:

to plan a party that will ripple peace to the world.

“How very dare you!” I mutter rebelliously. “EBL doesn’t do parties. And I’m pretty sure peace is a serious business. I mean, you can’t save the world by having fun! Can you?”

If I did organise a party, though, and I’m not saying I will, I’d do it like Kermit, because nothing says “party” like a bunch of crazed puppets and people in furry costumes delivering sparkling repartee and singing. And no one can go all fighty in seriousness when the Muppets are in town. Miss Piggy won’t stand for it.

It’s time to play the music…








OK, let’s get this party started with music that everyone can enjoy. That means either I have to sort out Glastonbury-cum-Proms (Promontory?) or we keep it simple and give everyone a choice between playing a vuvuzela or a triangle. If it’s simple enough for football fans or five year olds, I reckon we can pretty much all participate. Let’s make our own music, yay. Just not karaoke because that makes my ears bleed.

It’s time to light the lights…

Fireworks. Every good party has fireworks.








Or a light show. You know, when they project stuff on public buildings that don’t serve any other useful purpose, like York Minster or Buckingham Palace. We could give everyone sparklers and light sabres to wave around and join in so long as they didn’t run with them and cause accidents. What could possible go wrong?

It’s time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight!









Obviously it would be an honour…

It’s time to put on make-up…

david_bowie_aladdin_sane_1973_0If that’s your thing, wear make-up. Personally I have not worn make-up since I was 14, but in those days I was fond of glitter stars on my face. In my defence it was the Seventies and we were all trying to look like David bowie but limited to what Boots on Staines had to offer. I particularly treasured the look of horror on Aunty Betty’s face when she saw the glitter stars on mine. I would still wear glitter stars on my face any day of the week in a good cause, and this is a good cause.

I suppose Kozo would now gently remind me I need to include Aunty Betty on the guest list too, so if like her you are not fond of glitter stars, there is a marquee over there where you can sit with the other star-challenged people and enjoy yourself. Including Aunty Betty, who can tell you everything you ever want to know about Siamese cats.

It’s time to dress up right…

nottinghillES_468x520The dress code is relaxed. Come as you are. Wear something you can have fun in, like feathers or a string vest or a kilt, potentially all three. I believe there may be web sites for that kind of thing but you should definitely be over 18 to look at them.

If you want to wear fancy dress, feel free. But it is not a requirement as not all of us are good at fancy dress or comfortable with it. Wearing clothes that are socially acceptable is difficult enough for some of us.

Wear pyjamas if you like. I don’t care so long as you have a good time and keep your opinions about what I am wearing to yourself.

It’s time to raise the curtain…

Some people enjoy live performances of various arts and skills – singing, dancing, juggling, poetry, fashion, finger painting, knitting…Either way if you want to watch or you want to perform, there is another marquee over there for the Talent Show. If you have skills to share, off you go and good luck! Break a leg. However, see previous rules regarding karaoke.



On the Muppet Show tonight!


Oh yes, if you do participate in the Talent Show, please be aware the judges are Messrs Waldorf and Statler. They can be a little picky. Just remember, it’s all for a good cause.




It’s time to get things started…

Right I think that’s everything. The catering is being picked up by the International Committee of the Red Croissant so I am sure we will all be looking forward to the buffet later. We will be catering for the full range of dietary restrictions, so if you can’t spot something you can eat please speak to one of the catering staff.

The main restaurant area will of course be managed by Alice; because you can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant. You all remember Alice.

The catering staff are all on short shifts so they can join in too. You may be asked to fill a slot. You will agree. It’s only fair we all take turns; in fact that is a key element of this party.

It’s going to be the most sensational inspirational celebrational muppetational event – this is what we’ll call the “Let’s Make World Peace” Show!

I thank you very much. I’m here all week.

Oh, and one last thing – you can sing along here. You know you want to. Cue VT.

And if you fancy a different sort of party for peace, then you might try these ideas here:


Half a century of inspiration

I know, I know, serious minded individuals have been poring over the meaning and legacy of the Kennedy assassination for days and weeks. It was important I am sure. I was a toddler, so I don’t remember; it’s all history to me and to be honest I find the impact of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand more distressing. It may be sacrilege but I suspect the Sixties would have panned out pretty much the same regardless of JFK.

Forgive my vacuous frivolity but I was more interested in a different 50th anniversary this weekend. The Doctor’s. Again, I missed the initial broadcasts, for the same reason as the Kennedy event, and didn’t really watch until Patrick Troughton had appeared. Even then it was tricky because my mother was determined it was unsuitable and turned it off if she could. My best hope was that she was making tea while she thought I was still watching Basil Brush. So it wasn’t until Jon Pertwee that I really was able to establish a regular liaison with that most British of heroes (and most heroic of Brits – albeit with dual Gallifreyan nationality).

If you don’t like Dr Who, I suggest you go and do something else because this post is unashamedly a fangirl production.

And yet I will try to leaven it with some pop psychology, in the time-honoured tradition of the amateur blogeuse, because otherwise I could simply reduce this post to tweeting “OMG! LOOOVE DR WHO! #savethday”, which is barely comprehensible even to me, and I wrote it. Already I can see John Hurt quirking an eyebrow and stirring impatiently in his War Doctor persona.

So, what’s the pop psychology then, EBL? Get it off your chest, love.

I’m glad you asked! It’s about Inspiration.

The reason I am talking about inspiration is that yesterday was not only the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, but also our local Quaker Area Meeting (a geographical cluster of local Quaker groups). Obviously it pales by comparison, but Sigoth and I attended for the day because (a) it had an important item to consider on the agenda, and (b) we knew it would be over in good time for Doctor Who in the evening. I hesitate to suggest that in a tussle between Area Meeting and the good Doctor, Area Meeting may have come second. It’s hypothetical. Nevertheless I think I know which way it would have gone.

The important thing in the meeting was about increasing the number of people in our local meetings who also take part in the Area Meeting and take on various jobs and responsibilities. It’s not a new problem either for Quakers or other church groups. Things are kept running by tireless volunteers who are predominantly elderly and frail, and whose numbers inevitably are decreasing without the next generation taking up the strain.

Essentially we discussed the purpose of the Area Meeting and as a starting point took away the idea that it is there to nurture our spiritual life of our members. It was exciting to be part of the mighty Quaker Business Method in action. I’m sure you can google for more information (or read about it at the Quaker website here); this is not a public service broadcast for Quakerism. As I said, it’s actually about Doctor Who. Nevertheless, when rightly held Quaker business blossoms before your eyes, it is a bona fide miracle. It is, to me, inspiring.

So, feeling inspired I went home to watch the TV, and reflected that it had been a good week for inspiration. There had been a WhoFest of mega-proportions, and Sigoth and I revelled in every lovely second. Our people have risen and had their say. Most impressively there was a whole Culture Show dedicated to looking at Dr Who as a cultural phenomenon. The presenter, Matthew Sweet, interviewed important people about why it was all so significant, with serious music and references. But the bit that struck me was when he was speaking about a time he and his friend were about to be beaten up by school bullies and he shouted out Patrick Troughton’s catchphrase of “When I say run, run, …. RUN!”, and off they dashed to safety. The Doctor gave him permission to run away and deal with the problem differently. I know this sounds a little anti-climactic, but I think for a child to know it’s OK to run away when confronted by overwhelming odds, rather than either getting beaten up or feeling a coward, is actually positive. Boys in particular need to know there are alternatives to knocking seven bells out of each other.

Doctor Who had a profound impact on his young and impressionable fans, dealing with difficult situations in creative and predominantly peaceful ways. Although to be fair he was also fond of Venusian Aikido and blowing up Daleks, preferably in large numbers.

In the 50th anniversary episode there is a key scene (if you haven’t seen it yet look away now – spoilers, darlings, spoilers) where Clara reminds of the Doctors present of why those chose to take on the name and role of the Doctor.

Clara: You told me the name you chose was a promise. What was the promise?

Tenth Doctor: Never cruel or cowardly.

War Doctor: Never give up, never give in.

But the Doctor has been inspiring children with more than running away for far longer. When I was a a mere Electronic Bag Bairn, this is what my Doctor, the Third Doctor told us:

Courage isn’t just a matter of not being frightened, you know. It’s being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.

It was something I understood, and watched him live up to (albeit as a television story). I don’t always succeed in following his example, but I try my best. When I am nervous of speaking up or standing up or facing up to bad things, something like Jon Pertwee’s voice will often run through my head reminding me of the meaning of courage and give me a push. For such positive early influences on my life, I am grateful.

I also learned all my science from Star Trek, but no one’s perfect.

What influenced you as a child to make you who you are?



Five Years

I was thinking about updating the blog, just to let you all know I am still alive, when this popped into my notifications:

5 years WPWell, knock me down with a feather! I have been lurking on WordPress for 5 years! I only started being more active about a year ago, when I decided to try out NaNoWriMo, and wrote up progress each day.

You see, I was thinking yesterday that now my major projects are nearing closure, I can get back to working on the work-life balance project. It’s the Big One for me, even more than OJEU tenders and new product developments.

So thank you to all who have flown with me (to coin WordPress’s phrase) and please now settle down as we continue to cruise, with possible turbulence at unpredicted intervals.

Here’s what I was doing rather than blogging or working.

DSC_0013Firstly I was making the Christmas cake. I make it in October and top it up with brandy regularly until Christmas so that by the time we cut it and eat it, it’s more a thick drink than a cake. In fact, designated drivers have to take their slice home in party bag. People like it. They tell me it’s very moist, usually giggling as they do so. I don’t allow seconds for at least an hour.

Shawl in close-upThe other thing I was doing was knitting furiously. By which of course I mean “as fast and hard as I could”. I wasn’t cross at all, quite the contrary. I wanted to finish a couple of projects to tidy up my knitting pile. As any knitters out there know, they do build up a bit. So this weekend I finished a present for a friend, and moved onto the end game for the Danish wool scarf. I will post a picture when that is completed too because the wool is Gorgeous with a capital G.

That only leaves me with the Norwegian Rose sweater which is the practice sweater prior to knitting The Killing pattern. That has been two years waiting so it will now be prioritised rather than all the other knitting for friends and relations. Finally.

Now I’m off to help the Local Offspring with packing stuff into boxes to move into the new flat.  I hope you are happy and busy and bright (or calm and content and quiet if that is your preference). What I mean is – love to you all!







Pearly King and Queen

There is a Cockney tradition of Pearly Kings and Queens. You can look it up through a search engine or on-line ‘pedia of your choice. My granny used to tell me all about them when I was small.

Well, on 1 October 2013 Sigoth and I will be a Pearly King and Queen, albeit not of a Cockney variety, and we will be in Copenhagen, not London, for we are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary by spending a few days in the land of top-notch knitwear and construction toys.

Hopefully if I have sorted out the scheduler you will be able to wish us “skål!” on the day itself (subject to the rotation of the earth and your own regularity with WordPress reader or whatever you use). To which we reply “thanks, my dears, and cheers to you too!”.

I met Sigoth at university in Freshers’ Week. I thought he was rather sweet and we used to cross paths every Wednesday evening as we both dashed out of the labs where we were doing practicals to rush for the bus back to Hall. Different labs, different Hall, but same general timing and direction, and friends in common.

Then there came the inevitable Christmas party, the day John Lennon was shot, and so we became an item. Cautiously at first, then more confidently, we grew into each other’s ways and have never yet grown out of them.

We got engaged on the night of one of the university Balls, in February 1982. We only told one friend in advance, confident she would have the news around the rest of the university before we had had our first dance. Imagine our horror next day when we wandered into the bar to meet up with the usual suspects for lunch and no one knew a thing! For the only time in her life she had decided it was a secret and told no one, so we had to broach the news ourselves, with great embarrassment.

The wedding was a home-made affair. The night before the great event my friends came over and we made sandwiches. Another friend made the cake for us, having practised the icing pattern on her mother’s Christmas cake, and it was beautiful. My mother’s friend, Aunty Sheila, did the flowers having taken a flower-arranging course.

On the day itself it was cool and a bit wet. I left the house in my best friend’s father’s car, with my Dad, windscreen wipers going, and worrying about the dress. It was my mother’s wedding dress, which we had cleaned and spruced up, and it looked fine although something happened to the hem in the cleaning process so it was a bit crooked. No one cared.

The rain stopped by the time we arrived at the meeting house, and during the meeting for worship a blackbird sang its heart out in the garden. As Quaker weddings were quite unusual we had a lot of Friends join us, almost all of whom we had never met, but they filled out the room and contributed their worshipful silence.

Meeting house where we married

The wedding vow for Quakers in Britain is a simple one:

Friends, I take this my friend Sigoth to be my husband, promising through divine assistance to be unto him a loving and faithful wife so long as we both on earth shall live.

Sigoth said the same thing, with appropriate amendments for name and relationship. After that we signed stuff and had cake and drank juice and took photos. In a Quaker wedding all those present sign a certificate, which contains the time/date/place and promises we make to each other, and may be either a poster sized document or a booklet (ours was the poster version, and is framed in the hallway). Then Sigoth and I went away to Germany while everyone else went to the pub.

We were young and a little insane. We had no money or jobs – it was 1983, so no one had jobs – but we decided to start a family straight away. Offspring #1 arrived 6 weeks before our first wedding anniversary.

The bare bones are not so interesting really. What makes it special is that my stomach still gives a lurch when I see Sigoth. My heart still beats a little faster while he sleeps beside me, and I feel the warmth of his breath and the beat of his heart. Every day he is there for me and will be so long as both on earth shall live.

I wish you happiness and joy in your relationships, whatever shape or form they take.




So it’s Hiroshima memorial day today and one of the Offsprings’ birthdays. We have never linked the two but you might excuse me if I do not treat the day with perhaps its full reverence, being as I want to celebrate the birth of one of my children.

That’s the way it is, isn’t it? The phenomenon described by WH Auden in his poem:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

We live very egocentric lives. When we mourn we want the world to stop and mourn with us. When we rejoice, we don’t have time for others’ sorrow. Every day people suffer grief and joy. Similarly we celebrate the anniversaries that mean something to us and forget the rest; yet still we expect the world to remember with us.

If we want to bring about peace in the world we have to acknowledge those other memories, the ones we don’t even know about. Those are the memories and feelings which affect how people respond to us, and often we don’t even know what they are. Often we cannot ever know what they are, perhaps the person we are interacting with doesn’t consciously know either.

With all this baggage all we can do is accept it exists, in some kind of other dimension, and try to let it go. We can only ask others to try the same.

This month Kozo asks us to think about Music and Peace as the monthly Bloggers for Peace topic. Music is a major trigger for memory, so it’s a powerful force in our lives. This post is not about music but it feels to me like there is a connection there somewhere. Don’t hold your breath – I may return to this in due course.

Meanwhile, try and let your baggage go, and have a lovely, peaceful and burden-free day.




I’m sorry to say I missed wishing you all a Happy Yorkshire Day yesterday!

Buy your bunting!

Buy your bunting!

Be assured the flag was hanging in the window at EBL Towers, and Yorkshire Tea Loaf (made with Yorkshire tea) occurred, if a little unsuccessfully due to a) a delay in acquiring all the ingredients, and b) the non-stick loaf tin failing to live up to its primary advertised operational parameter, namely being non-stick.

So the tea loaf fell apart but tasted very good and we ate it today while we played games.

We had intended to go and walk the Hole of Horcum, but it was too hot and some of us had slept badly and didn’t feel like a 7 mile “intermediate” hike in hot and humid weather with rain predicted to arrive just in time for the final scramble up from the bottom of the gorge to the top. Somehow, playing some games in the comfort of the kitchen was preferable; eating cake at the same time was merely an added bonus.

The Hole of Horcum, North Yorkshire Moors

The Hole of Horcum, North Yorkshire Moors

We did not on this occasion celebrate more lustily with the Yorkshire Anthem. However, I am reliably informed by the BBC that there is a new version out this year for the musical cognoscenti among you.

So, now it’s August and the nights draw in. Time to go out for bat walks in the greying evenings, and to finish the Pimms for another year. The horse chestnuts are losing some early, unripened fruits, early heralds of the new school term and conker fights in the playground. Celebrations of the turning of the Wheel, everywhere.



B4Peace: Hey Nick!

Dear Father Christmas

I have been a very good and helpful girl this year and my Mum says that she is proud of me. Well, actually, she asked me what the weather was like, but she meant she was proud of me.

Christmas candles

I know it’s a bit early to be writing but I saw some Christmas candles in a shop today and they made me think of you. Then I thought that because I was going to ask for a really Big Thing, perhaps it would help if I let you know early. So you can gearing up the elves and extending the workshops and so on.

You might be thinking that just because I have been a good girl I expect to be treated like something special. Well, mon Père, we both know it doesn’t work that way and that it really only counts when you are good anyway and not just for Christmas. I would like to take this opportunity to reassure you that my being good was not with this ultimate request in mind; I have only thought of it today when looking at those candles.

This is a gift for myself but also for my friends, for Kozo who put it in my head, and for everyone on B4peace; for my family and friends in meatspace and colleagues and neighbours; for the people of my country and every country; for the people I don’t like and the people I am rude about and even for the politicians and bankers, whom I really am not at all keen on.

No, really, I mean it, mein liebe Nikolaus, even them. Perhaps especially them because it seems they need it most of all.

It’s this thing that is something and nothing. You can’t touch it with your fingers unless you close your eyes, and then, sometimes, it is there. You can’t build it with your hands, only with your heart. You can’t wrap it in tinsel or paper, but you can wrap it in love, which is the best of all.

At the risk of sounding like Rolf Harris, do you know what it is yet?

Well, here we go. My mouth is a little dry and my hands are a little wet and sweaty. But I’m going to ask you, Father C, can you give me Peace in the world?

If anyone can do it, you can. You can break all kinds of Laws of Physics, visiting every part of the globe (except maybe Antarctica – although there too if there were children waiting for you) faster than the world spins. You can make reindeer fly, which is quite a clever trick. You can fit down chimneys even in houses that don’t have one. You can eat endless mince pies and drink endless glasses of sherry without losing control of your sleigh or your good humour due to indigestion or intoxication.

Can you? Can you?

Anxiously awaiting your reply…

EBL (51 years and 2 months)

This letter is part of July’s Bloggers for Peace and you can read other thoughts here:


Keep calm and make custard!

Saturday was Sigoth’s birthday; characteristically the sun shone for most of the time, the weather warmed up and there were bluebirds fluttering around his head like a halo of happiness. OK, I might have made the last bit up, but it was his day and he deserved bluebirds, or at least happiness.

We had an abortive shopping trip last week to get a present, but we shall prevail in the end. Today I did manage to present him with a card so all was not entirely lost. He also got coffee in bed and the delights of taking me into town to get my hair cut and collect mother’s pantechnicon of medication. What treats!

Upon reflection I thought perhaps it wasn’t as much of a treat as it might have been, even though we stopped in our local coffee shop for coffee and Danish pastries. Although we are a small market town we are blessed with a real life barista of global excellence, and the coffee is marvellous.

I resolved to make a cake.

Sigoth opted for a chocolate sponge sandwich when invited for an opinion. I knew he would choose it, but it’s good to let him feel part of the process. Anyway, easy peasy, lemon squeezy. I can rustle up one of those without too many traumas.

Then I discovered we were out of self-raising flour and I couldn’t remember how much baking powder to add. Plus we only had abut 30g of caster sugar so I had to use granulated. Well, my dears. Whatever I did (I did much of it with my eyes closed, so I’m not sure) it was wrong. The sponge halves came out looking more like soup plates than fluffy pillows of chocolatey goodness. Indeed, they resembled sludgey coloured soup plates that then fell apart when I removed the greaseproof paper.In the end they looked like abandoned leftovers. It was hopeless, tea was ruined. I let my family down,  I let myself down, but most of all I let Sigoth down.

This week’s Prompts for The Promptless asks us to consider the topic of a silver lining:

“Silver Lining” is a prospect of hope or comfort in a gloomy situation.  [1870-75; from the proverb “Every cloud has a silver lining”] *

That cake was certainly a gloomy situation. I needed hope and / or comfort. So I did what every rational person would do in these circumstances.

I made chocolate custard.

Now we are anticipating a bowl of chocolate sponge and custard while we watch Dr Who. Sigoth is enjoying a lovely birthday, practically perfect, and the fruits of a disaster which have had unexpected benefits.

chocolate cake and custard

This personal silver lining of the dark brown dairy-based variety works in numerous situations. There are few occasions not improved by chocolate custard, and so I commend it to you with all my heart.