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Of all the jobs in all the world I think that the one I would least like to do is run a bed and breakfast business. Probably even less than my desire to be an astronaut.

On the face of it, B&B-ing seems quite the oddest thing to do, welcoming strangers into your home, giving them your best bedroom and then cooking breakfast for them when all you want to do is slump over a cup of coffee with the radio for company.

In return, you get a fistful of notes and a pile of laundry that takes a day to wash, dry and iron. Yes, I bet B&B owners have to iron sheets, or pay for them to be laundered.

Of course, there must be more to it than that or people wouldn’t do it. They must be a certain type, with a strong hospitality gene that gives them a permanent smile and a fund of stories to keep the punters entertained while they wait for their breakfast.

All I know is that I simply couldn’t do it. I know that my first failing would be the temptation to weed out potential guests on the doorstep. ‘Hmm,’ I’d think, ‘I don’t like the look of him. Shifty. Half-closed eyes. Obviously a murderer on the run.’ Before I know it, I’ve told a perfectly nice man, weary and crumpled from a long car journey, that I’ve no room available.

Perhaps the most off-putting aspect of all for me is the necessity to have a clean and tidy home into which to welcome guests. Every square inch of ceiling and floor must be so clean your guests could eat their bacon and eggs off it, though to be realistic they wouldn’t, they’d eat off your best plates in your gleaming, showroom kitchen – or perhaps in the dining-room where you’ve had to turn the radiators up to max to get the chill off.

How do you live a normal life when your house has to be in this permanent state of guest-readiness? That ability must come packaged in with the hospitality gene, the one that suffuses B&B hosts with a relaxed and friendly air, immediately making their guests feel they’re in a home from home.

These guests might become friends, returning regularly to enjoy your superb hospitality, or they might just breeze through your life leaving nothing more than a faint memory of their name and a sum on the spreadsheet. Either way, I know I couldn’t be their host. I couldn’t unearth in myself enough to make a B&B work here at Hill Towers, much as we might enjoy the income it could bring.

I know Geoff and I would both have to attend charm school, and stay on to do an extra year, and then there’d be the small matter of having an extension built to accommodate guests.

There are so many little things, too, that convince me of my unsuitability for the role of host. I have a 98% failure rate with fried eggs. It is quite remarkable how much I can be relied upon to break them. I don’t do dinky cushions as decoration on beds, either. I suspect they are de rigeur but really, how utterly pointless.

Finally, and this would be the clincher, I love jugs of flowers everywhere but most of all I love tulips when they’re going over, their colours faded, their petals papery and translucent.

Guests wouldn’t understand that the tulips are not dead, they are just telling a whole other story and being beautiful in a different way. So no, there are no vacancies here.

Nothing ever seems to be left alone these days. There’s always some jobsworth checking up, poking about and compiling statistics, seeking accountability.

In some cases this is good, especially where health and safety are concerned, but in others it makes you wonder how we ever make any progress at all and if we blink we could find we’re back in the 1950s, so hamstrung are we by petty rules and regs.

The latest thing to be dragged under the microscope for a minute inspection of its inner workings that will no doubt lead to costly and unnecessary changes of no benefit at all is the network of driver speed awareness courses.

These are held around the country to benefit drivers who have been caught speeding and who would rather pay up to £100 for about six hours of being taught how to drive properly and safely than be fined and have points added to their licence.

Someone, in their wisdom, has decided this week that these courses need to be brought to book themselves. One of the main gripes is that there isn’t any evidence that they actually benefit drivers. This last fact is, unbelievably, because no one has thought to follow up course graduates and see if their driving has improved as a result of their attendance.

Allow me to give my feedback from the course I attended last summer. Not since my Latin O level exam have I entered a room knowing so little of what to expect. Fortunately, this time, I soon realised I wasn’t the only one and there wasn’t some brainbox next to me heading for an A-grade with their pen flying across the page.

There were scores of us in a hot, airless building, like so many convicts awaiting deportation. We divided ourselves into groups around tables where my new mates included lorry and van drivers and a GP as well as two teenagers with shiny new licences and sullen expressions of resentment. A disparate bunch, then, and all of us initially indignant at having been caught out by a system that failed to take account of our excellent driving skills.

We soon discovered we weren’t that excellent at all. In fact, we were reckless and dangerous, even the ones who’d been caught only marginally over the limit. A limit is a limit.

To say I learnt a lot that day would be an understatement. I learnt so much that the second I left that building I completely changed my driving habits, so long lulled into what I shamefully realised had become, over the years, a cavalier, ignorant, disregard for safety.

The course is called ‘driver awareness’ and that is absolutely what it does: it makes you aware of so much, of everything, in fact, around you inside and outside the car.

I am a 100% better driver thanks to my training. I will never exceed a speed limit again – we were given statistics and shown horrific films of the consequences – and I know how futile it is to try and stick to a 30mph limit in anything other than third gear. Try it, it works.

So there’s my feedback. The course is superb, invaluable, salutary, worth every penny of the £90 it cost me. I’m not at all resentful of having been caught speeding. Bang to rights and all that.

Knowing what I know now, I’m actually ashamed that my sloppy habits and my ignorance got me in that fix in the first place. A big, a great big, lesson learned.

Everyone suddenly seems to be talking about holidays. Perhaps it’s the approach of spring, the relief that comes with longer daylight hours, the early-morning birdsong filling our hearts; who knows, but whatever it is, I keep encountering people who say they are crossing off the days until they get away.

I can’t bring myself to say ‘until they escape’, because, really, the notion of ‘escaping’ from this beautiful part of the world does seem far-fetched. We have it pretty cushy here when you think of the many other places where people are trapped and their lives, let alone their happiness, depend on escaping.

Costa Rica is emerging as a favourite destination among those who are keen to tell me where they are going. Why, that used to be just a hottish, steamy-ish tropical place on my school atlas, memorable (to me, at least) for its place on the rote-learned list of Central American countries squashed into the waistband between Mexico and South America.

Now, it would appear to be the go-to country for the more adventurous, its beautiful green landscape and relatively sophisticated economy possibly eclipsing the cachet that Mexico once had. Besides, it might be necessary to acquire wall-climbing skills if you’re going down Mexico way, and that’s not a 100% fun holiday activity.

Hot-spots like Dubai, Cuba, India and Thailand are luring friends away, while another couple we know are currently in the first of three months holidaying in Bali.

They’re SKI-ing – otherwise known as Spending the Kids’ Inheritance – and, by all accounts (so far, we’ve received four enthusiastic communications, including photos) they’re having the time of their lives. Good for them, I say.

Depending on the weather outside our house at the time, I either envy this couple with a passion as the rain beats against our windows, or think smug thoughts along the lines of ‘You’re welcome, I’m happy here, thanks’ as the early-spring sun illuminates the garden and the sky is a breathtaking, brilliant blue. Eat your heart out, Bali.

I give thanks for our temperate climate that means we don’t risk being bitten by a sneaky insect whose dimensions could be anything from ant-sized to elephantine, and I am also grateful for the fact I’m not over there on those amazing beaches feeling I ought to be out surfing all the time. It’s bad enough having to fit in a daily walk and remembering to go shopping sometimes, but going surfing, too? No, you can count me out. All that discomfort and, well, those great big terrifying waves. You don’t have to contend with those on the River Stour.

Naturally, Geoff and I have started holiday discussions of our own. It’s hard not to feel it must be our turn now when we learn of yet another bunch of friends heading off to exotica.

We don’t yet feel the need to hit an airport – nor can we muster the enthusiasm or the strength for such an assault on our senses – so we’re taking a couple of staycations this spring. That’s newspeak for not going too far afield. We’re going to Rye, in East Sussex, later this month, for three whole days, and to south Cornwall in late April for four whole days.

Both destinations will enable us to explore, to walk and to catch up with friends. All we need is some decent weather, but we’ll be filling the car with boots and rainproofs just to be on the safe side.

A man whose job it is to sell kitchens to mugs like me, told me that the natural life of a kitchen is 10 years. Funny that I’d mentioned about a minute earlier that ours is coming up to its 15th summer.

But can he be serious? Can a kitchen – and he assured me he meant all the appliances and the sink and the units and other bits and bobs – be doomed for the tip after a mere 10 years of life? I find that a shocking statistic – if it is true.

Little wonder the world has a rubbish disposal problem.

I had found myself in this most unlikely conversation with the kitchen salesman after our cutlery drawer suffered a malfunction. Its untimely collapse prompted Geoff to spend four days bent over its carcass with a squirty thing of wood glue in the futile expectation that it would somehow heal itself. My efforts to help were also in vain, and we came to the reluctant conclusion that we would have to buy a new drawer.

This would have the dual purpose of plugging the gap, like a missing tooth, in the kitchen units, and stopping Geoff and me habitually plunging our hands into the gap to reach a piece of cutlery, only to realise the cutlery tray was now occupying a worktop area at the other end of the kitchen.

It was a long, steep learning curve, retraining ourselves out of one habit and into another.

In search of the new drawer, and with measurements noted, we head to a store where we find displays of kitchens that make our own seem like something out of the 1950s decade of Back in Time for Dinner. I am staggered by how smart and conveniently designed everything is, with such clever storage ideas. Envy takes a grip and I ramp up the level of my wistful sighs.

When we find someone to help us our problems increase. Modern kitchen units don’t have drawers like ours, we learn, so no, it isn’t possible to buy a replacement drawer.

Cue the salesman’s obvious next line: “Have you thought about replacing your kitchen?”

That’s when he starts on about the 10-year lifespan of a kitchen, by which time Geoff’s eyebrows are arched up above the roof and my brain freezes at the thought of the inconvenience of builders and dust and having to make a thousand decisions. But then again, if not now, when?

We go home with brochures and graph paper after giving assurances we’ll be back if we do decide to go ahead. Then the utter madness of it all strikes us. Here we are in our perfectly good 15-year-old kitchen, whose only fault is to have lost a tooth, and we’re thinking about ripping it all out? Our new drawer for about £25 is in danger of becoming an unnecessary new kitchen costing something astronomical.

The decision is made for us as Geoff comes up with a brilliant solution.

We substitute the broken drawer for the one next to it, whose random contents are stuffed into a carrier bag “for sorting one day”. This enables us to reinstate the cutlery tray in its former position, and boy, what a great feeling it is to have it back where it belongs, even if it is taking us a long time to retrain ourselves.

There’s now a gap next to it, where the donor drawer was, but Geoff says he can deal with that. He may need a block of wood and couple of six-inch nails to cover the gap, but to us it’ll be as good as new.

Several moons ago, probably not long after Queen Victoria died, I was part of an amateur drama group that staged a selection of vignettes and longer excerpts from plays and literature as a post-lunch entertainment. Our audience was a large group of people who, somewhat unfairly, were considerably more refreshed than we were.

They had the advantage, being able to relax and let the fun roll out before them. We, dry-mouthed and anxious, had our nerves to conquer and costume changes to contend with in a very small space, not to mention our cues to remember.

This all took place when I was living in the Far East, which gives one – or certainly this one – more confidence than might otherwise be the case when stepping on to a stage and trying to encourage an audience to suspend its disbelief.

I was various people that day, and one of them was Queen Victoria. I want to think I was chosen for the role because I had long hair at the time which lent itself to being coiled into a sort of sausage-in-a-bun effect on my head, but I suspect the producer resorted to me because of my height, or lack of it. A quick glance along the row of press-ganged volunteers and the decision was, presumably, only too easy.

There I was, coiffed and regally dressed, reading from Victoria’s diary, dated October 15, 1839, in which she expressed the unutterable joy she felt after Albert had accepted her proposal of marriage. “I really felt it was the happiest, brightest moment in my life,” were her touching words.

With that, I exited stage left and transformed myself into a less than convincing version of Laurie Lee to read from Cider With Rosie. Judi Dench would kill for such versatility.

Stage appearances were a regular feature of my life in those days, including revues and several plays. Pygmalion was one, a simply terrifying crime thriller another, and there was even a deep and meaningful feminist one-act, but it was Sleeping Beauty that was the maddest and the greatest fun.

There’s nothing like a pantomime to bring out the silliness in everyone involved, actors and audience alike. Inhibitions are cast aside and, if everything goes as it should, a great time is had by all.

This was certainly the case when a gang of pals and I went to lend our support to a friend in her village panto last week. She was brilliant, in fact the whole cast was brilliant – and the audience was pretty wonderful, too. It’s a long time since I stamped my feet and cheered and whistled in appreciation for something in such an unbridled way.

You just don’t get to react like that anywhere other than in a village hall, where everyone is giddy with the love of being together in the name of entertainment.

There are downsides to taking part. The learning of lines is one of them, although the prompt is always there as a backstop.

This generally works well until, as in the panto the other day, the prompt gets left behind and, when offering a line, is treated to a loud retort from the stage: “I’ve already said that.” Of course, it brought the house down.

The biggest downside, though, is literally a down: the huge let-down that comes when the final curtain falls. After all that teamwork and creativity, it’s suddenly all over. It’s a yawning gap that nothing seems big enough or exciting enough to fill.

Happily, with panto, there’s always next year.

I am as comfortable with new technology as most people who have been hooked on it for the past 20 years or so. I have an array of devices that between them help to run my daily life, performing functions as diverse as an accessible diary, calendar and address book and, of course, as a processor of my words.

I read a daily newspaper on my iPad, I take photos with my iPhone, I am permanently connected one way or another to the big wide world through both of those and through my desktop Mac. In other words, I am totally reliant on new technology and I like it that way.

I cannot think of any negative aspect of this except for the effect it has had on my handwriting. To put it bluntly, I have virtually lost the ability to write with a pen or pencil. I’m a high-speed texter – strangely, with my left hand, while I am right-handed in everything else – and I can rattle out words at a fair rate of knots on a keyboard, too, but put a funny old-fashioned pen in my hand and ask me to write something and I come over all clumsy and helpless.

My grand-daughter Poppy’s handwriting bears a worrying similarity to mine. Poppy is four. Apart from this slight disparity in our ages (and even less of a disparity in our height), the big difference between us is that her writing is actually legible. Mine has the appearance of something eight-legged dying messily on the page.

It was never good or even remotely stylish in its heyday, but at least it was fast, confident and readable. I could adapt it to fit into small spaces, like the boxes on official forms, and I could write letters that ran into pages and pages and my words never veered downhill. Now, I painstakingly assemble half-a-dozen words on a birthday card and have to lie down and recover from the effort of such an alien activity.

My sister and I recently had to fill out and sign a form on behalf of our mother. Oh, the agony! I am embarrassed by my handwriting, but my sister is quite shameless about hers. She honestly ought to be equipped with a personalised John Bull printing kit as she simply can no longer write at all.

Watching her try to fill in her name and address in such a measly little box on this form brought to mind those school workbooks my children used to bring home in their early years. I’d hover, suppressing the urge to snatch up the pencil and show them how – and here I was again, doing exactly the same while my big sister scrawled and looped her way through the task.

When it was my turn to apply my name and address I stuck my tongue between my teeth and concentrated with all my might. It was slow, messy and barely readable, but it was done. I shudder to think what the official on the receiving end of the form must have made of our efforts.

A friend of mine encouraged me when she confided that her handwriting is definitely worse than mine. She writes a shopping list but, once in the shop, she cannot read her writing.

She turns to fellow shoppers, giving the impression she is running errands for someone else, and asks “Can you help me read what this person has written on their list?” That’s cool, really cool.

I’m not sure when the problem of dogs fouling public spaces became one of the great scourges of everyday life.

It isn’t something I remember from my childhood, nor even from when my own children were small. It was something you occasionally looked out for, perhaps, but not at five-second intervals, as one absolutely has to do these days or face the disgusting, stinking, dangerous consequences. Not to mention hours spent scrubbing footwear, buggy wheels or any other items that have come into contact with an abandoned poo.

Presumably the ubiquity of dog poo has to be linked to the inescapable fact there are so many more dogs about, in streets and markets, shop doorways, footpaths – wherever you look they’re there, being loyal and … well, dogged. I’ve no axe to grind. In fact, for years the family was in the charge of a dog: a Jack Russell with a gruff voice and rough ways at whose ever-busy, clippety feet we all besottedly paid homage.

In the present doggy-dominated landscape, with its canine-crowded pavements and paths featuring overflowing dog poo bins, carelessly discarded dog poo bags and, too often, the evil dog poo itself, a disturbing impression emerges of a world that has been rather turned on its head. Hang on, exactly who is running the show here?

Ah yes, that’s right. It isn’t the dogs at all, and it isn’t us. It’s the thoughtless, selfish people who disobey one of the most basic rules of human co-existence and fail to dispose properly of the mess left by the dog in their charge. If they are dog owners themselves, then they have clearly abdicated all responsibility for what goes with the territory: that is the caring, the exchange of loyalty and love, the vet’s bills and the clearing up.

How dare they? How very dare they walk around with an animal for which they show zero responsibility? The dogs, left to their natural ways, know no better. The selfish humans do know better, and that’s the dreadful thing. They know they should pick up and dispose of the dog waste, yet, hey, no one’s looking, someone else can do it, and anyway others let their dogs do it, don’t they?

We’ve all no doubt seen the sneaky owners who fumble for a poo bag if someone’s looking, stoop, and make a pretence of picking up the poo before moving on, empty-handed. May they walk messily into the biggest poo around the corner.

Another depressingly familiar sight is the hedgerows and trees festooned with discarded poo bags that the owners are too … too what? Squeamish, mean, stupid, to dispose of properly?

Like all types of littering, the prevalence of poo is a problem, a huge problem, and a blight on too many of our towns and public spaces. But because dog poo can be dangerous to health as well as deeply, stinkingly offensive, it takes on a very different ranking from the dropped crisp packet in the league of anti-social horrors.

Some councils are on the case and it is possible to report the location of offensive heaps to get them removed. It shouldn’t, however, be down to other people to scoop and make good, especially when they are unlikely to be paid enough to have to do such an unpleasant job.

The answer can only be for dog-owners to take responsibility for what their animals deliver in the wrong place. Until they do, we have to continue to step around the problem – but still get angry.