There is a God!  Some of you may be lucky enough never to have had doubts on this matter – in which case I am envious of you!  I, however, have frequently doubted the existence of the Supreme Being – and certainly I have had doubts as to whether this Being, should It exist, has any interest in me and my small life.  Why would It?

Anyway, you may remember my unhappy experience with ORIENTAL RUGS (see Blog No.49) and my inability to order what I wanted due to the ineptitude of the Company selling them.   You may not realise how deeply disappointed I was about the failure of this transaction – but as my Bank Statement yesterday showed that my money had been restored to me by said inept Company (so they are not crooks, at least), I decided to have another go.  Lo and behold!  The site leapt onto my screen, with my chosen rug full-frontal and in big close-up – with a button saying “Buy Now” next to it, and, even better, the price was further reduced by another £100. So I clicked “Buy Now” and obligingly the screen asked me to fill in name, address and payment method – all the stuff you would expect.  The only problem was that it did not like, or trust, my Barclay’s Debit Card (known and honoured by thousands of outlets around the world – well, around East Sussex anyway).  Nothing would persuade it to allow me to buy the rug using that card, so I burrowed into my handbag and found another.  This one, they liked.  So it all went through and I have an e-mail from the Inept Company congratulating me on my purchase!  Result.  Thank you God.

And truly, He has taken pity on your unfortunate blogger – because last week I undertook quite a safari to a branch of J.Lewis Esq. (who had assured me, on the telephone, that they stocked Oriental Rugs) in search of this item.  When I arrived, after a journey of an-hour-and-three-quarters through a typhoon, I discovered that I had been misinformed and they stocked only modern, European-design rugs.  Where do they get these daft young men from, who answer your telephone call and make a total mess of everything?  (Yes, it was a young man who spoke for J.Lewis, just as it was a young man who garbled my address when I contacted the Inept Oriental Rug Company in the first place….)  So, yes –  God owed me one I think.

He has also been more than generous in respect of my bedroom slippers.  OK, you don’t know about them, but I attempted to order a pair of (Price Reduced) bedroom slippers from a catalogue via the electric telephone to be told they did not have my size in the colour I wanted (Plum, since you ask) but could offer me Tan only.  So I said no to the Tan, which, in truth, looked more like orange in the picture and who wants orange bedroom slippers?  Orange slippers are for Wilhelmina-No-Mates, don’t you agree?  So they said “sorry” and I  said “sorry” and put the phone down and thought that was the end of the matter.  A month passed during which time I searched for an alternative since the slippers I was then wearing were falling to pieces when, yesterday, I received a shoe-box-shaped parcel, which I opened (as you do) to find one pair of PLUM-COLOURED bedroom slippers in my size, with a note saying “Thank you for your Order” and charged at an even-lower price than the one advertised. And I am wearing them now and they are sooooo comfortable – my feet feel truly pampered.

We can add to that piece of good fortune the fact that Auntie Beeb, in her infinite wisdom and kindness to her Pensioners, has awarded me a TEN-POUND VOUCHER for winning the Caption Competition in “PROSPERO” – the BBC Retired Staff Magazine – this month –  AND it can be spent at “TOY’S’R’US” and “MATALAN”….!  Good old Auntie.   Luckily it can also be spent at BOOTS or ICELAND – so that’s OK.

I don’t think I shall give God credit for that bit of good fortune, though.  As the 11-year-old Margaret Roberts (later Thatcher) said to the teacher who awarded her a prize with the words,  “You are a lucky girl.” – “Luck had nothing to do with it;  I deserved it..”

But I am not happy.  (Apparently that is what the diminutive John Bercow said when an MP reversed into his car in the House of Commons car park.  “Well, which one are you then?” replied the MP.)  Seriously though, the situation with the Russian Bear is beginning to become alarming.  That a foreign agency should walk casually into a pizza-place in a quiet Cathedral City in this country, sprinkle some of the most deadly nerve-poisons developed by mankind around the place like grated Parmesan and then walk out as if nothing had happened, is outrageous.  It must not be countenanced and now I fear the start of some sort of cyber or germ-Cold Warfare.  And that is because we cannot let whoever authorised this get away with it and one thing will lead to another.  The fact that this nerve-agent is apparently of Russian origin looks like a pretty big clue.  I regret that our relationship with this huge and wonderful country, in which the ordinary people have suffered so terribly under their different tyrannical leaderships for centuries, has deteriorated so badly.  If anybody watched the television programme called “VLADIMIR PUTIN; THE NEW TSAR” the other night there were many clues there – and it would seem that the UK has to take some blame for the situation and for losing Putin’s trust – though I suspect losing Putin’s trust is phenomenally easy to do.

Then we have China, instituting what is in effect a Dictatorship – and don’t let’s forget North Korea.  I don’t like the sight of democracy vanishing around the world – do you?

On a lighter note – there are unmistakeable signs of spring around – but I fear this sweetness is to be short-lived, as the redoubtable Weather Forecasting Team on the telly are warning us of winds from Siberia again at the weekend with snow on Monday.  And while we are on the subject of the weather-forecast I thought you might like to see some lines garnered from the sub-titling available to those of us whose hearing is no longer 100%.  This gem is from a forecast over the recent Beast from the East period;

Snow will be turning to brains with sleepiness moving away crusties dangling – winds turning towards the least.  The critters will be out in force overnight…”   Better watch out for they critters, eh?  (FYI “crusties dangling” translates to “across East Anglia”.)

I do hope if the snow returns it won’t bring they critters with it.



Due to the extreme conditions recently, and the fact that the critters were out at night, Jude et Jim have not seen all that much of each other as Middle Earth was pretty-well cut off from civilisation for a few days.  They communicated by telephone, however, and Jude formed a picture of the Hobbit Cottage beneath a dome of snow with just its chimney poking out, smoking away, as the Hobbit within went about cooking his casseroles and baking his pies against the dire emergency of not being able to get down to “The Coop” (the Co-Op  – where most Hobbit supplies come from).  When eventually they did meet up there were many Hobbit-jobs for Jim to do (a grab-rail for the shower, goodness knows how many replacement bulbs requiring mountaineering work to insert, WD40 applications to doors and windows…. you name it.)  They have done nothing “cultural” lately as there is still a heap of BAFTA-provided DVD’s to go through so Jude let Jim watch “THE SHAPE OF WATER”  while she prepared a rather delicious lasagne this weekend.  “THE SHAPE OF WATER”, you may recall, won best Film at the Oscars.  In the UK this film was totally (and unfairly) rubbished as a “drippy, sentimental, love/fantasy” and awarded two stars at most.  And you know what?  Jude liked it.  She then wondered if her judgement had gone completely awry – but the Yanks demonstrated that she was not totally-off course.  It is an odd one – very weird, but touching.  Oh go and see it for yourselves – (you’ll probably hate it so you can blame Jude).  Jim is “not sure what to make of it.”

STOP-PRESS BY HOBBIT-PHONE;  Jim has just entered his Dark Room for the first time in about 10 years (he was a professional photographer in life) and discovered three of the drawers in there are housing a family of field-mice.  (Altogether now – Aaaahhhhh.) I am sorry to report that he has shoved them all out into the cold (including the babies).  Jude has told him they will die but Jim says that is the idea.  In fact, Jude thinks they will all come creeping back in again when he isn’t looking as that is What They Do.

TIPS FOR OVER-SEVENTY-YEAR-OLDS;  If there IS a God, maybe it behoves us to remember we might be meeting Him/Her/It sooner, rather than later….?






When I started writing these posts it was my intention that they should appear fortnightly.  However, I am getting tired of apologising for arriving late on your screens.  As the man said, when his wife asked him if he loved her – “I’m here, aren’t I?”  And indeed I am.  So just be grateful.   I can see it is about a month ago that I regaled you with tales of Christmas cheer and the wrong trousers, so here is my Valentine’s Day post and let’s all just accept that this Blog appears MONTHLY.  Quite frequently enough, I am sure you agree.

Well, here we are already  one-sixth into 2018 (my maths has never been good, but two months in does make it one-sixth of the way, doesn’t it?)  And what has 2018 done for us?  So far it’s delivered a ‘flu epidemic, near-breakdown of the NHS, the Oxfam sex-abuse scandal,  endless misjudgements on the Brexit front…and the news that humanity is poisoning all marine life from porpoises to plankton with plastic.  Nice. You know what?  Something tells me 2018 is going to be very similar to 2017 except we’ll all be a year older – though no wiser, it would appear.

Certainly I do not increase in wisdom as far as computers are concerned.  As soon as I approach mine it decides to be non-compliant.  Which is unfortunate since BAFTA voting is carried out On-Line, which means that every year I am traumatised by the system and have to ring the BAFTA Help-With-Voting line for assistance.  Oh the shame of it.  Especially since this time as soon as I asked the question I realised what the answer was:  in order to see the entire short-list of nominated films I needed to SCROLL DOWN.  Duh….Computer ONE; me ZERO.

But it has been an interesting few weeks – watching DVD’s of the hopefuls – and, of course, it is a privilege and one that I do take seriously.  If you want to know which films from the short list I would recommend you to go and see it comes down to “THE SHAPE OF WATER”;  “DARKEST HOUR”;  “WONDER”;  “PHANTOM THREAD”; “THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI”  and “GET OUT”.  I think that “FILM-STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL” is probably a lot of fun, but, having watched 15 minutes of it without understanding a single word since it is all conducted in strong Liverpool dialect and no sub-titles were provided with the screener, I admit that I abandoned the attempt .

Voting closes tomorrow and my votes are now cast – I am unsure when the Awards Night is, but the lovely JOANNA LUMLEY will be ‘hosting’ so she should bring a little style to an otherwise long-drawn-out and often unedifying occasion.  Anyway – You Heard It Here First – Best Actor in a Leading Role will go to GARY OLDMAN for his performance as Winston Churchill in “DARKEST HOUR”.  Or I will eat my bobble hat.

As well as Voting-on-Line there is also Ordering-on-Line for inept users of the computer such as your blogger to contend with.  To be fair this next episode is not altogether the fault of the machine or its operator – but I’ll leave it to you to judge.  Last Wednesday (it could have been Tuesday, but I doubt you care which) in a fit of irritation with my three ancient and tattered Oriental rugs (which had formed the habit of lying in wait for me to trip me up so I could measure my length in the hall) I gave them to Charity.  “It’s them or me,” I said.  “Because I don’t fancy ending up on a trolley in the overstretched A&E Department of the District Hospital with a broken hip.”  I therefore disposed of them.  Good Riddance.  But the next morning my hall looked so bare and empty that, weakly, I went On Line searching for Oriental rugs.  After all, the reason the others were tripping me up was because they were old and had tangled matted fringes just right for catching a toe in – or so I reasoned.  A new one would not have these problems.  In the Olde Days (remember them?) I would have gone to Barkers of Kensington and looked through a heap of possible rugs in the Furniture Department  (Third Floor, as I recall).  But this is the Twenty-First Century so I repaired to my computer and googled RUGS (ORIENTAL) – getting rewarded with pages and pages from a wholesaler who was taking SIXTY-PERCENT OFF in its Winter Sale. Scrolling through all of these was quite a wonderful experience, if I am honest.  I got truly excited and identified a rug which was just the job to replace my three abandoned bits of carpeting;  sensible size, glorious colours and £389 reduced from £1,200.  Result! But then came the Ordering-on-Line bit and nowhere could I find where, as a new customer, I should start the process –  although for an Existing Customer with a password and an account number. it was obvious and easy.  After a frustrating ten minutes I clicked on the box saying “Contact Us” and was rewarded with a telephone number.  I rang this number and a helpful young American answered and took the number of the rug, and the number of my Debit Card and all my details.  Carefully I spelled out my address for him, letter by letter, and it seemed that everything went through.  “Ma’am, you will receive a confirmatory e-mail shortly,” he said.  And that is exactly what happened.  But the address given as mine on the confirmatory e-mail was so garbled and mis-spelt as to be unintelligible.  E-mailing them back instantly with corrections I received another  from them by return informing me that my order “cannnot be processed because the address is incorrect.”  Yes.  Been there, have you?

No amount of telephone entreaty would change their decision to cancel – something to do with protecting my Debit Card.  My money was being returned to my account as we spoke.  (It better had be.)  So – shall I risk starting the ordering process all over again or shall I conclude that I do not wish to do business with such a load of intellectually-challenged retards?  And go for minimalism in my hall – and Freedom From the Worry of Falls???  Answers on a postcard, please (same as last time;  and nobody answered THAT question either…)

Now – where did we get to with the sciatica?  Acid-Reflux is done-and-dusted, so the only outstanding medical problem must be the pain-in-the-bum.  Well, the kind doctor has prescribed Co-Codamol which doesn’t seem to do much – and which I note is an opiate to which I might become addicted (it’s all in the papers – we oldies are all becoming junkies).  I am sure it is a timely warning and meant for our good, but just try experiencing a pain that feels as if someone has taken a slice off you with a carving knife and is now rubbing the raw wound with salt and vinegar at 3.00.a.m. in the morning and see how much you care about getting an addiction.  A cup of Horlicks instead doesn’t do it.  However, I am sure we ought to bear it in mind that, when you stop needing them, then you stop taking them.  And as my sciatic pain appears to have resolved itself, that is precisely what I am doing.

The February daylight is fading fast and the February gale and rain are battering my sitting-room window, where, despite the double-glazing, the cold is penetrating so that my central-heating is having to be bolstered by a plug-in blow-heater.  But, Rejoice! Rejoice! –  tomorrow is the day all lovers can spend a fortune at their local bistro with a couple of heart-shaped red-balloons floating over their table and a “Specials” menu which is nowhere near as good as the usual menu with cooking of which the same can be said.  I thought about this and decided that It’s Not Gonna Happen.  So on the 14th Jim is invited to a dish of roast duck and marmalade-sauce – of which there should be a plentiful supply (see below) –  prepared by my own fair-hands with an avocado pear half to start with and a scoop of O’Kelly’s Chocolate-Brownie-and-Salted-Caramel ice cream to finish.  Yes – I know, I spoil him – but in the last three weeks he has fitted two new lavatory seats for me, mended the light over my hob, diagnosed the problem with my bedroom window catch and wired up my fractured bumper.  Let no-one say I am not grateful.

And so we come to –


Jude et Jim have not done much since they last posted.  The biggest excitement was missing the Residents’ New Year’s Lunch in the local hotel arranged my the Residents’ Committee of my block of flats.  This is always a delightful event and Jude et Jim enjoy it a lot – but Jude, who is getting more and more unreliable – put the invitation on the mantelpiece with the Christmas Cards, and removed it with them on January 6th, so she lost it.  Sent it for recycling., didn’t she?  But she remembered it was to be on a Sunday late in January and concluded it had to be Sunday 28th.  It was not until, on Friday 26th when she was asked by a neighbour why she and Jim had not been there that she realised it had been held on Sunday 21st.  It was a really good do, so they say.

Then of course Jude has been wrapped up in viewing DVD’s (see above) so Jim decided to improve the shining hour by making ten kilo’s of marmalade.  This took him four days but will keep him going until the summer.  (He is a bit like Pooh, with his pots of honey…..)  Jude et Jim have thus been physically separated a bit over the last weeks – but they did go to their beloved Thai restaurant on the Marina, beating their way through a howling gale to reach it last Saturday.  And it was really worth it.  Jim stayed the night so they were able to have breakfast and watch “The Andrew Marr Show” together on Sunday morning.  Very cosy.  And they also made up for lost time –  whatever you think that might be.


Beware of Oriental Rugs.

















Here we go again – “Apologies For Absence”.  I am sure you have been anxiously scanning your In-Boxes for signs of this Blog – only to be disappointed, day after day.  I can explain.  I have been having Christmas.  And New Year – as have all of you.  Other Things Have Been Happening, haven’t they?  (Oh, get a life, why don’t you…?)

I hope the Festering Season went as well as can be expected – expectations usually being high – only to be defeated by reality.

But speaking selfishly I enjoyed myself;  Christmas Day was spent at the Hobbit Cottage with a blazing fire, mulled wine and some hot sausage rolls and mince-pies brought in fresh from the oven by Jim’s next-door-neighbour all in her Christmas pinny.  Pressies were unwrapped, coffee was made and Jim’s speciality egg-and-bacon sandwiches appeared and disappeared – as did the mulled wine – and suddenly it was time for Her Maj.  After that we struggled into party-gear for evening dinner in our local smart (and expensive) hotel.   £90-a-head.  Oo-er, Missus.  But we got Buck’s Fizzes included, plus a four-course meal and coffee.  So we didn’t feel robbed, exactly.

Having decided to do no Christmas cooking (hence the visit to the Hotel) I had guests for Boxing Day – Jim and his son Quentin and my bezzie mate, Sandy.  So I did some Christmas cooking after all.  Ah well, the best-laid plans of thingy and wotsit gang aft pear-shaped.

For my Boxing-Day gathering I wore my new, velvet, green trousers, freshly-arrived by Mail Order from “The House of Bruar” (a Scottish company with excellent credentials.) Since I get too hot in trousers AND tights I tend to wear Pop-Sox underneath (you need to know this although you might think it Too Much Information) – meaning the top part of the trousers were in contact with my bare thighs.  (Sorry…) By the evening I had a rash from  knee to hip which itched like Hades, turned a bright shade of red and then kept me awake all night.  I’m not stupid;  I immediately identified the inside of the new trousers as the cause of the problem, took myself to the Pharmacy and returned, armed with E45, a Hydrocortisone cream and E45 Itch-Relief.  In three days the crisis was over, and the trousers taken to the cleaners.  Ah. but the tale does not end there.  Since I never do anything by halves I had ordered THREE pairs of these trousers;  one pair in a Christmassy red, which I wore on Christmas Day with no trouble at all, one pair in bottle-green and another pair in olive-green.  The bottle-green pair were the offenders and at the cleaners, but, a few days later I could be seen sporting the olive-green pair – later going to bed to itch and scratch most of the night.  Luckily I had plenty of unguents to spread all over.  Three days later, and the problem had disappeared.  Now I am left wondering what on earth this irritant was?  I suppose it must be the green dye they used – since the red pair gave me no trouble.    Any ideas?  (Answers on a postcard please….)

Anyway – all the jollity is now over, the decorations put away in their boxes and the Christmas Cards waiting for me to go through them and answer those who wrote me a letter inside.  (I mean a personal letter;  not one of those PR sheets people send, advertising their families.)  I am childish enough to hate it when all the pretties are down.  I miss my tree, with the fairy on the top.  That fairy is a piece of social history now;  bought in Shepherd’s Bush Market, round the corner from TV Centre, in 1974 she was.  That’s a lifetime ago.  Wonder where it all went?

But although mourning the Death of Christmas, I had a bit of merriment at Epiphany, when, on a chilly January Sunday I joined a coachload of other old ladies going to Brighton to see “HOLIDAY ON ICE” with friend, Sandy (see Para 4 above).

This is a beautiful spectacle with no intellectual content AT ALL (so quite restful in that regard.)  I love ice-dancing nearly as much as ballet-dancing – and there are similarities.  This year’s theme was “TIME” – all choreographed by DAVID LIU (who also choreographs for the Ice Theatre in New York) and performed with expert grace and skill by a young team of skaters from all corners of the globe.  It was a delight and sensibly formed of two hour-long halves with a nice lengthy interval in between so elderly bladders could get emptied.  (Sorry, again, but a spade is a spade…)  The whole afternoon was a completely joyous and stress-free experience.  We loved it.

So the days have flashed by bringing us to mid-January, the prospect of a cold snap and snow – and Jude’s lumbago week.  I know how much you enjoy reading about my various ailments and that you are going to miss my dilating upon ACID-REFLUX (because it’s better), so here is Something Completely Different.  My osteopath suggested, 6 weeks ago, that I should WALK from the basement of my block of flats to Floor 2 after parking my car, thus  getting some exercise and increasimg my “core strength”  I took her advice, but I think with too much enthusiasm because i managed to pull a muscle in my groin.  Over the weeks, this has morphed into tremendous discomfort in my left buttock (sorry, once more – I seem to have become a real pain-in-the-bum) which now presents itself like a red-hot poker going round and round in that area, affecting my left thigh (there I go again) and giving me a stiff and elderly walk and difficult nights  – as it’s uncomfortable.  I believe the hot-poker effect is probably caused by a trapped nerve and all I can say is, let’s none of us get old.  Because things happen.  On the other hand – I’m still here!  Which leads me to


After their jolly Christmas, Jude et Jim stayed up to see the New Year in – eating Jude’s End-Of-Christmas-Risotto (ham, turkey, sausage, stuffing…. anything left over, really) and drinking a tiny bottle of Prosecco between them.  They watched the national fireworks on telly and the local fireworks through the sitting-room windows, fell into bed around 1.00.a.m., and, at 11.00.a.m. watched the lovely New Year’s Day concert from Vienna. So, their Festive Season has, as John Le Mesurier said on his deathbed about his life “all been rather lovely..”

But the insanity of the Awards Season is now upon us, so Jude’s DVD-Player decided to celebrate by going U/S.  Jude suspected this was due to the heavy-gang from Sky installing a new Sky player in April, at the same time disconnecting other hardware with gay abandon.  Jude did not feel like a lengthy telephone conversation with the Believe-In-Better people themselves – which would inevitably involve her doing gymnastic manoeuvres behind her telly – pressing buttons with her big toe while holding down another button at the front of the set with her elbow….. (you-ve been there too, have you?) so decided to escape to the Hobbit Cottage (where all electronic devices were working normally) with a copy of her BAFTA screener for “DARKEST HOUR”  in her bandbag.

OMG – what a good film – and what a brilliant history lesson too (unlike “DUNKIRK” which missed several tricks on that score).

Jude was there at the time, in fact (well – only just; she was extremely young, natch) and, in 1940, the period upon which the action is focused, her only memory is that “we” were going to win and that Good Old Churchill would get us through.  Apparently this was by no means a certainty in anybody’s mind at that time – in particular HM Government which had managed to weld itself into some sort of emergency coalition, and installed Winston as Prime Minister, much against the better judgement of most of its members.

GARY OLDMAN plays CHURCHILL in a tour-de-force performance which will undoubtedly win him “Best Actor”, and KRISTIN SCOTT-THOMAS is his redoubtable wife, CLEMMIE in another performance which will probably bring her awards;  although (as Jude was there at the time – see above!) Jude’s memory of Clemmie was of a much more heavyweight personality than Scott-Thomas’s mildly ditzy and flirtatious offering.  That the Churchill’s were deeply in love and that their relationship was full of both tenderness and humour is not in dispute, however,  and is sensitively shown in the film.  But, it would appear, we nearly lost the war due to the Cabinet’s insistence on peace-negotiations with Hitler.  Churchill’s reply,  “When will the lesson be learned?  You cannot negotiate with the tiger when your head is in its mouth…” went some way to persuading them that confrontation was the only option.   ‘His thunderous prose is accurately represented – I believe it has been said by someone somewhere that “Churchall mobilised the English language and took it to war” and as a tiny child I remember his voice booming through the speakers of our small radio “Hitler says we are like a chicken whose neck is being wrung;  some chicken, some neck…” and the awed and positive response from my parents.  “Good old Churchill – he’ll get us through..”

Jude et Jim hugely admired the historical accuracy of this film (with the exception of one scene on the Underground where Churchill gathers the opinion of the British public as to whether they wished for conflict or appeasement) but perhaps it can be excused on the grounds of “Artistic Licence”.  They both learned many things they did not know about those days in early summer, 1940 when the freedom of the world was in the balance. Jude had no idea how fine that balance was – but she was very, very, young at the time…..

The writer, ANTHONY MCCARTEN should get an award for his brilliant script and deserves special mention.  The excellent Direction is by JOE WRIGHT.


Jude’s problems with her DVD Player were later solved by the excellent Don Foster, who happened to have a few hours free and managed to untangle the entrails of her “Home Cinema” system – discarding a large part of the small bowel, which appeared to be redundant to its successful function.  (Don Foster – the electrician – remember him?  Find him in earlier posts! – if you can be bothered to trawl through.)

And talking about entrails, is anybody watching BBC 2’s programme “SURGEONS; THE EDGE OF LIFE”?  Quite staggering – but not for the squeamish.


Be extremely careful about what you allow to touch your naked thighs……

















Oh my ears and whiskers – it appears that a month has passed since I last posted and we have moved from fireworks to Christmas Trees in no time at all.  All in a flash.  Which could have some relevance since my Writers’ Group – now re-launched as are engaged in writing “Flash Fiction” for future uploading on the web.  I have therefore been working on my contributions to this initiative and it’s been time-consuming.

We spent a morning discussing our rebranding (previously we had been “Sussex Scribes”) and decided “Chalk Circle” was the best suggestion – after discarding “Sussex Flashers” with regret, as non-viable.

“Flash Fiction” is a new genre – and very suited to the rush-rush, short-attention-span  age we live in since 500 words is the limit.  Your story should leave the reader wrong-footed and somewhat discombobulated and must NOT end with a joke or a death.  Hmm.  Quite a tough brief.  But I have managed three pieces.  If the group approves them they will be uploaded onto our website, so you should be able to read them.  I will try and provide you with a link.

So, obvs. you have spotted the Christmas Trees popping up everywhere (gets earlier and earlier every year, doesn’t it?) But this year I am not doing Christmas – or as “Margot” once memorably said in “The Good Life” –“Christmas is cancelled”.   Well not totally cancelled – you can have it if you like – but I am defo. Not Doing It.  For how many years have I got into the oven with the turkey on 25th December, together with the roast spuds and parsnips, later spending hot hours stirring bread-sauce and gravy?   50 I think.  Time to retire.  No more goose-stuffed-with-a-duck-stuffed-with-a-rabbit-stuffed-with-a-dormouse-stuffed-with-a-cockroach.  Them days is over.  This year we are going to a local hotel at 6.30.p.m., (sit down at 7.00.) and letting them do it all.  We get Father Christmas and carols thrown in I believe.

“What will you do with Christmas Morning?” – I hear you ask.  On Christmas Day I shall moysie over to Hobbitland and to the Hobbit Cottage and its huge log-fire, for an opening-pressie session, some mulled-wine and one of Mr.Hobbit’s speciality egg-and-bacon sarnies.  After that, some slumping in front of the telly, watching re-runs of “Morecambe & Wise”  and the Queen’s Speech is indicated.  All this may or may not be done accompanied by Mr.Hobbit’s son, who may, or may not, be over from Singapore, where he works as a Graphics Designer.  The reason we are unsure is that, having declared his intention three weeks ago, of visiting the Old Folks over Crimbo, we have been unable to verify his movements since.  That’s how it is with the youngsters (OK, he’s 50) nowadays, doncha find?  Yesterday, he telephoned his Dad and left a message saying, “Ring me back” – but as he omitted to leave a telephone number that presented Mr.Hobbit with a problem.  Duh….

A large section of my extended family is now Finnish (they all went to finnishing school) so their Christmases are spent in Helsinki feasting on reindeer meat on Christmas Eve and taking the little ones to visit Father Christmas in his own home.  So as we were not going to see them for this year’s festivities and as we all needed to view the new baby, they hit upon an excellent idea for a family get-together featuring turkey-gobbling.  Thanksgiving Sunday.  We have no links with the Pilgrim Fathers, we just like each other and we like turkey, so it seemed a good idea.  And it was so successful we are likely to repeat it year-on-year, if my nephew can tolerate the thought of cooking Christmas Dinner for ten people again.  He was a Cooking-Christmas- Dinner virgin – and he excelled himself, from the bird to the bread-sauce.   And my happiest memory of that afternoon is Jim, on all fours so that he can get level with the new arrival in his baby-bouncer, doing a full-on conversational male bonding-session.  Tavi is eight months old, and Jim slightly younger.

Apart from that excitement there has been the excitement of the “Noel Bridge Party”.  To some of you the phrase “Bridge-Party” may sound like an oxymoron but to elderly, bridge-playing British citizens it is big fun,  so long as it is accompanied by Christmas dinner, paper-hats, alcohol, evening dress, raffle-tickets and prizes.  Tick for all six in this case.  Listen – it’s a free country.  Whatever floats your boat….

Usually I have some political or social comment to make about here.  However, the BREXIT scene is so grim and worrying that I am not going to spoil the festive fun by mentioning it.  The “Royal Engagement” is more jolly so let’s focus on that.  Endless interviews with dear Harry who, despite early promise, has become a truly boring royal do not delight me, but I rather like the look and the sound of his lady-love.  I think she may bring light and life to the Windsor family so I wish them well.  What’s not to love?


Jim had a birthday this week.  But there was some confusion surrounding the date.  He thought he was going to be 82 on Tuesday 5th December – but, in fact,  his birthday fell on Monday December 4th, December 4th being the day upon which he was born. Sadly, Jude had booked herself up for the whole of December 4th – morning, afternoon and evening – but she blamed Jim for getting the date wrong.  As one would.  So there was not much celebrating on Monday for him.  He was also chagrined to be told that his age was now 83.

Jude is nothing if not loving and kind-hearted and realising December 4th was going to be a day on which she had to be engaged elsewhere, offered to give him a jolly birthday supper at home on Sunday, December 3rd and cooked him his favourite sea-bass, pan-fried and served with suckertash (yes – there really is a dish called “suckertash; it is not just a silly word invented by Sylvester the Cat)  followed by chocolate ice-cream so he was a happy hobbit.  He also received a small present from Jude – a gismo he can attach to his Smart Phone and watch things in “Virtual Reality”.  Jim likes nothing better than a gadget to play with and this kept him diverted most of the afternoon.  Until he realised he needed to purchase two spare parts to make it work properly.  Well, how was Jude to know?  Jude doesn’t do electronic gismos.

He did also get taken to his favourite restaurant the week before, for five courses followed by a bill with three figures at the bottom – all paid by Jude. Why the week before?  Because it is Christmas and the only table Jude could get was in November.  It is a tiny restaurant so getting booked-out is a frequent occurrence for the two guys who run it – which is excellent for them

Then there was the visit to the little Cinema in Uckfield where they saw “PADDINGTON 2”.  This is described as “A British Live-Action CGI animated adventure film” and it is full of thrills and spills involving one of this country’s favourite bears getting into a mess.  And no bear knows better how to get into a mess than Paddington.  Although Jude spent 31 years in the business, the miracle of CGI (computer-generated-imagery) is a mystery to her.  In her day they did “stop-frame animation” where little puppets were moved a fraction of an inch at a time while a film shot was taken – when, eventually, the whole film was run the little figures moved.  And it took a whole week to produce 3 minutes.  Jude knows about this because she used to do it.  Hour after hour after hour of it.  Believe it or not, it was rather fun.

Anyway, these visual effects were wondrous to behold, Paddington lived and breathed and walked among us – or he walked among the cast on the screen.

The plot concerns Paddington’s wish to earn money so he can purchases a rare “pop-up” book about London landmarks to give to his Aunt Lucie for her 100th birthday.  (Aaaahhh)  This involves him in window-cleaning (messy) hairdressing (also messy) and other occupations with assorted catastrophic (and messy) results.  Unfortunately this book is spotted by arch-villain, faded actor PHOENIX BUCHANAN, as a source of coded clues to hidden treasure and he steals it from the bookseller.  Paddington is wrongly convicted of the theft and ends up in prison (Aaaahhh) separated from his beloved and long-suffering human family – the Browns.  But being Paddington he brings life and fun to the prison (Aaahhh), eventually gets involved in a break-out, followed by a mad train chase after the wicked Phoenix Buchanan to retrieve the book – and it all ends well with the Browns reclaiming their orphaned bear, and a visit from Aunt Lucie, who, now she is visiting London for her 100th birthday, doesn’t need a pop-up book of London landmarks anyway.

The magical Visual Effects are by FRAMESTONE, the Director is PAUL KING and the Producer is DAVID HEYMAN (who produced “PADDINGTON 1”).  Lovely HUGH BONNEVILLE plays “Mr.Brown” and the wicked PHOENIX BUCHANAN is played by HUGH GRANT.  BEN WISHAW is the voice of PADDINGTON and IMELDA STAUNTON the voice of AUNT LUCIE.

Jude et Jim thought this was a very sweet film, just managing to stay the right side of yucky, which ought to be a big Christmas Box-Office success.  Jude et Jim were the oldest members of an audience where the average age appeared to be 3-and-a-half.  And all audience-members loved it.  Of course. Who did the most trips to the loo during the action, the three-year-olds or Jude et Jim, is open to debate.(Jude et Jim were drinking Diet Coke…the three-year-olds?  Well, they were just three-year-olds – needing a wee is what they do.)

MICHAEL BOND (BBC Cameraman) first invented and wrote about PADDINGTON -this script was written by PAUL KING and SIMON FARNABY.

Go on – take the kids.

Jude et Jim ended up, as usual, in the Cinema Restaurant opposite the picture-house and filled their faces with nice food, before driving home.

TIPS FOR OVER SEVENTY-YEAR-OLDS;   Do not go to the special Children’s Showing of a children’s film;  they will all be going to the loo when you want to.






What is going on? Both Government and Opposition parties are full of Handy-Andy’s pressing against female MP’s., journalists,  and researchers in broom-cupboards, bars and back-benches… Or so it seems.  Oh dear – the insane world of Gilbert & Sullivan springs to mind, as it often does when I contemplate politics in the UK.  I give you an aria from “THE MIKADO”

“Our great Mikado, virtuous man,

When he to rule our land began

Resolved to try a plan whereby

Young men might best be steadied;

So he decreed, in words succint,

That all who flirted, leered or winked,

Unless connubially linked

Should forthwith be beheaded……..

This stern decree, you’ll understand

Caused great dismay throughout the land,

For young and old and shy and bold were equally affected. 

The youth who winked a roving eye, or breathed an unconnubial sigh,

Was thereupon condemned to die –

He usually objected…..”

And so on – ad infinitum.

I saw Ann Widdicombe’s thunderstruck face on the TV this morning – a lady I rarely agree with, except in the matter of the deliciousness of Indian Buffet Restaurants – and she was trumpeting “I don’t know what this is all about – I truly think we have lost the plot..”

Right. Now, I suppose I would think a bit like that, being the generation that I am and having gone through all this in Auntie Beeb throughout the ’70’s. ’80’s, and yes, even the beginning of the ’90’s.  And of course it was intolerable and unjustifiable and of course it is time light was shone on it and a stop was put to what is, the misuse of power.  And I take the misuse of power for sexual purposes extremely seriously.  But we need to draw a line between that behaviour and general flirtatiousness.  Flirtatiousness in the work-place adds a bit of seasoning to the daily grind – and I mean flirtatiousness, NOT creepiness.  But how to tell them apart?  I guess that’s something which is just a gut reaction and young people, of whatever sex, must just learn to navigate between them as the rest of us had to when we were young.  If that sounds unsympathetic I suppose it IS a little.  To be fair, Parliament is a different sort of work-place from most others, and the institution of Human Resources Officers at Westminster is obviously overdue.  But I worry that, if this goes on, our MP’s and our Ministers will be literally without balls – and we need ballsy people in Government.  Or do I mean people with “backbone?”  No – I think I mean fully alive, functioning members of the human-race with red-blood circulating rather than skimmed milk.  Human beings are flawed and faulty creatures – but I would not want to see them replaced by automata.

However, bullying in the workplace is always out of order, whatever form it takes, so “OFF WITH THEIR HEADS”.

After that artful bit of fence-sitting I shall move on to something I feel less-conflicted about.  Getting older.  Doncha just love it?  This last week I have both arrived for a podiatry appointment a whole week too early and arrived for a manicure appointment a whole hour too late.  Plus I have no idea where my navy-blue anorak with the moth-eaten fur-collar is.  Not in the coats cupboard, not in my car, not in Jim’s car – duh….? On Saturday I could not remember where I had parked the car in Sainsbury’s car park and forgot to buy the milk, which was one of the reasons I had gone to Sainsbury’s anway.  On the plus side, I can still remember the name of the Prime-Minister (though how much longer that name is going to be “Theresa May” is open to question), still remember the surnames on the roll-call we used to call out at school – (ALEXANDER; BARKER; BIGNAL, BOURNE, COX; DRAPER; EAGLE; FARNBOROUGH; FERRY; FRANKS…etc.) and, still sing the ENTIRE first act of “The Mikado” – see above – from memory.  You may wonder why I have this particular skill (if it can be called that).  It is because my father, a G.& S. enthusiast, was collecting the whole opera on the old-fashioned ’78’ discs you played with a fibre gramophone-needle and had got as far as the FINALE of Act 1 when the Second World War broke out and he had to discontinue his collection.  At the same time the family received the gift of a book called “The Mikado” – beautifully illustrated by someone famous – which, apart from the story of how it came to be written, contained the ENTIRE LIBRETTO.  That, combined with the records, taught me, aged 8, the entire first act of ‘The Mikado’.  Fortunately, I am rarely called upon to render it.

Then there is The Return of The Acid-Reflux.  Somehow I feel this condition is going to be a frequent visitor.  It may have something to do with the Tapas meal Jim and I had last Tuesday, consisting of Chicken Thighs in Honey; Pork Meat Balls; Prawns in Bacon; “Patatas Bravas”; Chicken Croquettes and Deep-Fried King Prawns with Aioli – this last ordered in error – I meant to get the “Padrone Peppers”.   It was all delicious, but my stomach warned me at 4.00.a.m. not to do it again.  So a diet of steamed fish and mashed potatoes beckons for the future – to which I say “No Way, Jose…”  I am ‘mainlining’ on the Gaviscon Advance at the moment – which is a small price to pay for the occasional Tapas meal in my opinion.  (Don’t nag – it’s my life…)


Jude et Jim went to the cinema once more – not to the Multiplex, but to a smaller, and scruffier venue in the town centre where parking is impossible.  (Which is how the tapas meal got involved; the “Flamenco” being situated on a useful road with free parking after where we left Jim’s vehicle at 5.00., paying for 1 hour,  with the idea of eating afterwards.  A Cunning Plan.)

“THE DEATH OF STALIN”  seems to have divided the critics.  John Suchet, on “Classic FM” reported that he and his wife went to see it and, while the rest of the cinema was rocking with laughter they failed to get the joke!

However, Peter Bradshaw of “THE GUARDIAN” describes it as “A brilliant Horror-Satire“;  and it calls itself  a “Period Black Comedy Drama”

This film is directed by ARMANDO IANNUCCI and anyone familiar with the hilarious television sit-com “THE THICK OF IT” will realise what manner of film this is.  Biting, political satire. Set around the death of the Dictator, Joseph Stalin in 1953 it chronicles the power struggle between various squabbling communist political figures that emanated from this sudden event – so unexpected that it renders them as shocked, bewildered and scared as orphaned children. However the fight for the position of Leader of the Soviet Union escalates rapidly and no holds are barred.  What follows is pretty funny, but everyone fights dirty.  At the centre of the machinations is the evil LAURENTLY BERIA, played with malevolence by SIMON RUSSELL BEALE;  NIKITA KHURSHEV is played by STEVE BUSCEMI, and the long-suffering VYACHESLAV MOLOTOV by an unrecognisable (to me) MICHAEL PALIN.  We also meet Stalin’s shell-shocked daughter, SVETLANA, in an Ophelia-like performance from ANDREA RISBOROUGH;  JEFFREY TAMBOOR plays GEORG MALENKOV, ADRIAN MCLOUGHLIN is JOSEPH STALIN and RUPERT FRIEND his pistol-waving, manic son.

What can one say?  You either laugh, or you don’t get it.  Jude et Jim laughed a lot – especially through the earlier part of the film during which at some point in the action one of the ghastly crew of plotters says “I can’t remember who’s alive and who’s dead…”

However, Jude felt uncertain at times as to whether Iannucci’s manic/ironic touch with political drama is absolutely suited to the viciousness of the Russian scene – when you compare that arena with the (comparably) decent, though often reprehensible, goings-on in our own parliament.  You will understand what I mean when I tell you that the awful Beria is eventually assassinated in the most brutal fashion by his comrades – his body set alight with careless relish by the rest of them.  That bit didn’t make either Jude or Jim laugh, it has to said.   All the same, funny or or not, this film is a brilliant lesson in historical fact.  Beware the Russian Bear – that’s all.

Jude et Jim then had some more culture at a delightful Craft and Pottery ‘Private View’ in the English Wine Centre in Alfriston – genteel glasses of red or white – or Elderflower Cordial which Jude enjoyed a lot; little nibbles and a chance to see some wonderful work by local artists;  quilting, silverwork, tapestry, knitting, ceramics and pottery.  And all at top-dollar prices, Jude regrets to say, although such work is probably worth it.  But only a couple of small Christmas presents were bought by J.& J. – two pottery ‘pulls’ for the ends of light cords (Jim) and a small, hand-embroidered cushion of great charm and delicacy by Jude.  They then went down the lane to the comfy, country hotel at the end, and had a Bar-Meal by a blazing fire.  A lovely evening out.

Jim stayed the weekend and did lots of essential ‘Jim-Jobs’ for Jude (probably quite similar to those Peter May performs for Theresa…) including installing her new Router and fixing the brass-hooks for her curtain tie-backs.  Jude cooked him Chicken Paprika and rice and he distinguished himself by driving home in the embroidered, velvet bedroom slippers he keeps at Jude’s for casual weekends.  A neat pair of Chelsea Boots are now sitting in her hall, awaiting their owner.  (See Para 6 re “Getting Older”…)

HINTS FOR OVER-SEVENTY-YEAR-OLDS;  You can really get used to Gaviscon ‘Advance’.. it isn’t all that bad.








Majorca Oct 2017 052  I have returned from Majorca bronzed and fit(ish) – see photo – more of which later under the Ongoing Saga of Jude et Jim.

However, the country I have returned to appears to be in chaos, with no clear view of its future, a party in Government which thinks it more important to squabble than govern and no plan for BREXIT, with a tragic figure at its head.  Poor woman!  Why did she even want to be PM?  It was obvious that she had an impossible task in front of her from the outset.  The elephant in the room is the dreaded Single Market.  We can’t be ‘in’ it unless we accept Free Movement – something the GBP (Great British Public) voted against when they voted “Out” of the EU;  so, in order to preserve some semblance of democracy, we must not be part of it;  but if we are NOT part of it, economic catastrophe threatens.  I bet Dave is sitting in his shed, scribbling away at his memoirs, wiping the sweat from his brow.  He managed to escape  just in time before the excrement hit the ventilation, innit?

But is there any human-being, of whatever political persuasion, who didn’t feel sympathy for poor Darling Buds Of May?  What a total nightmare that final conference speech was – it could have been scripted for “The Thick Of It”.  And what a nice husband she has, leaping onto the podium immediately after she finished to hug and comfort her.  Or maybe you didn’t notice?  Being something of a specialist in husbands, I noticed, and gave him ten-out-of-ten.

She will struggle on.  She is a good, honorable woman, with no charisma at all, and she is a poor communicator.  But she has grim tenacity, a sense of duty and I think she is a good negotiator. Let’s be honest, Who Else Is There?  Survey the pool of political talent swimming around  – of whichever political party.  Do you spot anyone of Olympic, or even County standard?  No.  Thought not.

Luckily, I do not have to make any decisions about the country, or the Conservative Party’s future, being a Woman of No Importance, thank God – but my circumscribed little life is not without its high-spots.  For instance, I have joined the On-Line Bankers.  Oh yes indeed.  I have at last  dragged myself, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century.  Well, in the end, you’ve got to get with it.  My Bank’s local branch in Eastbourne has now turned into the inside of Dr.Who’s ‘Tardis’ – even were I able to manage all the high-tech. machinery at my disposal there is nowhere to park the car – so I drive another twelve miles to a smaller branch, as yet unmodernised but threatening to do so any minute – where it is possible to park for two hours if you are lucky enough to grab a space.  I needed to transfer funds from my ‘Everyday Saver’ into my Bill Account so that I could draw a cheque on the Bill Account to pay for my Service Charge (a ginormous £4K)  towards which I save £400 per month into the aforementioned Everyday Saver (oh, DO keep up – it’s fascinating) and as I talked to the cashier behind her little window I realised it all could be done so much more easily electronically, so she did it for me.  Before My Very Eyes, tapping on her keyboard. In no time the necessary money was taken from one place and whizzed to another place – no cheques were written, no envelopes addressed, stamped or posted.  Jus’ Like That my bill was paid!  So, unguardedly, I said, “I really ought to start On-Line banking” and before I could stop her she had signed me up, got me a Membership Number, sent off for the little gismo I will need to use as I manage my enormous wealth in front of my small P.C., handed me all the paperwork and told me it was easy and not to be frightened of it she kept telling her Mum to do it…  And I reeled home wondering what I had done.

Apart from the fact that I tried doing it BEFORE receiving the gismo, about which I had forgotten, and was confused because I could not get into my accounts as they didn’t know who I was – APART from that, my first attempt at a transaction went well.  OK – to be honest, it actually took ONE HOUR to pay a small bill to the Chauffeur Service that drives Jude et Jim to Gatwick and back for the Majorcan holiday – during the course of which I needed to call the Helpline and have long and mostly unintelligible conversations with a polite Indian gentleman.  You know how it is.  Anyway, as he spoke I noticed how I could solve the problem on screen, so was able to thank him, put the phone down, and continue to NEXT.  The whole operation took longer than it should because of my regrettable habit of trying to enter codes into the gismo, which should have been entered into the computer – and vice-versa – but, hey, I got there and eventually I proudly transferred the sum of £180 to the Chauffeur Company’s Account Number.  Only problem was, that when I peered at the bill again, I realised it was for £160 not £180 – (should’ve gone to SpecSavers).  I have told them to keep the extra in recognition of Services Rendered.  Phew….  But it is useful to be able to look at your accounts when you want to check balances, instead of waiting for Bank Statements, or asking the ATM to furnish you with a print-out.  As a result of this new facility I have realised that my Current Account holds loads more money than it needs to;  so I have gone out and spent a lot of it at my favourite Emporium – Marks and Sparks.  Good, eh?


But it must be said that, notwithstanding my new abilities re.On-Line Banking (which may yet end in disaster as I am inclined to put the decimal point in the wrong place;  it is not, therefore, impossible that the next payment I make will be for ONE-THOUSAND AND SEVENTEEN POUNDS instead of ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTEEN POUNDS) I remain depressed about my lack of computer skills generally.  As I write, my new tablet sits beside me forlornly having told me frequently and plaintively that it has no internet connection.  My question is “Why the Hell not?” – but it can’t answer that.  The last time I used it the internet connection was healthy and available.  So what has happened while I have been in Majorca.  Is this a major sulk because I didn’t take it with me?  Or is it something more complicated?

Mr.Hobbit has kindly sent me a video (he tells me) which will show me precisely how to reinstate google and all its usefulnesses – but so far I have not dared read it as I fear I won’t understand it.  Duh….  Mr.Hobbit has excellent, and self-taught computer skills, which I admire and envy – in fact, the reason you are getting photos with this Blog is entirely due to his assistance.  So stand by for another one, as you read



Majorca Oct 2017 058

Obviously the main event was the trip to two made to Majorca – only a week, but a lovely one.  Here is a picture of Jim Flexing His Mussels, which Jude thought you might enjoy. Well, he certainly did –  (enjoy the mussels….).  What is there to say? Majorca is a gentle, lovely holiday island – no poisonous snakes; no volcanoes;  no earthquakes (as far as Jude knows); no malaria-carrying mosquitos; no Ebola – the list goes on.

Plus the sun (nearly) always shines.  Jude’s Time-Share Villa is air-conditioned so she can keep her bedroom at the temperature she enjoys (60 degs.F) and Jim can turn the heat up in his.  Occasionally the two meet in one room or the other for a siesta or what they term ‘cuddles’ – but otherwise sleeping solo is the order of the week and a good job too!  The time was spent exploring in a hired Nissan car, swimming in the pools, eating in the restaurants, sunbathing in the little garden and preparing meals in the excellent kitchen (pizzas, since you ask – oh, and beans-on-toast).

There are Places of Interest on Majorca – but Jude has already been to Palma Cathedral and to the Monastery where Chopin and George Sands spent a miserable winter (read “A Winter in Majorca” to discover how little she enjoyed it) – but the question is why go to Majorca in NOVEMBER with a man who is terminally ill with consumption and expect to have fun?  Therefore,  J.&J. spent the time, hedonistically enjoying beaches, freshly-squeezed and iced orange juice, ice-cream, paella – oh, and MUSSELS.

As to Culture – there was none – unless you count watching “Coronation Street” on the Villa tellly in the evenings.  However, in the weeks since my last post, Jude et Jim have seen two films, both worthy of mention.

The first was “VICTORIA & ABDUL” – described as a “biographic comedy-drama” about Queen Victoria’s final years and her friendship with her Indian Servant, ABDUL KARIM (played by ALI FAZAN).  JUDI DENCH plays QUEEN VICTORIA yet again and it must be said that her performance steals the show, although  EDDIE IZARD makes an excellent job of the unpleasant “BERTIE” – later King Edward VII.

Victoria is in her declining years (78) and it is the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee (1897) when young Abdul is sent from India  (“We want someone tall…”) where he is a Clerk in a prison, literate, presentable and, yes, tall, so therefore a suitable choice, to present the Queen with a celebratory Diamond Jubilee medal, especially struck for the occasion, proclaiming her as The Empress of India.  This is to be given to her after dinner one evening and Abdul’s instructions are to bow, and absolutely Not To Meet The Queen’s Eyes.  This he proves unable to do and his melting eyes and her aging ones engage, and he gives her his shattering smile.  Victoria is hooked, and regains her interest and enthusiasm for life as their friendship develops.  This film is funny – the puffing outrage and fury of the court and of Prince Bertie and the rest of the royal family at this incongruous and unsuitable alliance is hilarious.  However I suppose one must remember the humiliation of the Indian nation under the British Raj at the time and one criticism of the film is that it is “a cute royal fantasy” where the Queen is portrayed as innocent of any of the injustices meted out regularly by her representatives in India.  But the film is not politically-driven it is character-driven and the evolution of this strange and genuine friendship is beautifully and amusingly shown.  Jude et Jim laughed a lot – and cried a little.  On the Queen’s death, three years later  “Bertie” the court and the Royal Family behaved with vicious cruelty to Abdul and his wife, banishing them back to India and burning his treasured letters from the Queen.

The Director is STEPHEN FREARS, the writer, LEE HALL and the film is based on a book by SHRABAN BASER.  Cinematography by DANNY COHEN.

Also worthy of mention is “GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN” – again dividing the critics somewhat.  There are those who consider the cult of “Winnie-the-Pooh” and AA Milne’s tales and poems written around his young son, to be beneath serious notice with their emphasis on the Middle Class ethos, Nannies, stuffed toys and blissful walks in the woods where the sun always shines – but Jude tells those people to calm down, abandon class-consciousness and concentrate on the delightful works of philosophy that the “Pooh” books are.  Jude was brought up on “ Winnie-the-Pooh” the way some people are brought up on the Bible.  She didn’t have a Nannie but that did not mean she was unable to empathise, from the age of 4, with works so  intrinsically funny and observant of human nature. Therefore, those of you who don’t agree can stop reading here!  And we are not forgetting that one of Jude’s literary heroines, DOROTHY PARKER, reviewing the first of these books in “The New Yorker”, under her soubriquet of “CONSTANT READER” simply used the words “tonstant weeder throwed up”.  It’s a point of view – but it’s not Jude’s.

Having got that point sorted it must be said that Jude et Jim loved this film and thought it was tender and insightful – excellently cast and acted, beautifully shot and well-directed.  “There aren’t many films that demonstrate how a phenomenal professional success can also be the most catastrophic personal failure…” (The Economist”).  Jude agrees with that wholeheartedly and it is the reason the film is so touching and perceptive.

A.A.Milne, was a well-known writer already by the time he was jettisoned into the bloodshed and horror of the First World War.  Like many returned soldiers he suffered shell-shock – and with this came writer’s block.  He and his family moved to the Sussex countryside in the hope of giving him the peace-of-mind and space to write again.  But It wasn’t until, after his wife left him alone, with their small son, Christopher-Robin  for a few weeks, while she visited friends in London, that he found the inspiration to begin writing again.  And as he played with his son in Ashdown Forest, with his son’s teddy-bear and his son’s stuffed donkey and piglet, and his son’s stuffed tiger the creative juices began to flow once more.  Everyone knows of the stories Alistair Milne wrote as a result of this.  And they may delight in those tales, as most of the world did, or they may not.  However, what they may not know is the effect on Christopher Robin himself, and the father-son relationship between them.

This film shows, how from the initial euphoria of success, the bad effects on Chistopher grow.  Obviously Christopher Robin Milne was a sensitive, intelligent, introspective child – just the wrong sort of child to be thrust into the limelight with all the furore of publicity, special “appearances” and photographs of “the real Christopher Robin”.  The child felt he was being “shared” with the world, while all he wanted was the love and esteem of his mother and father, and, particularly, of his beloved Nannie.  As soon as he went to boarding school the other boys pounced on him, teasing him “Christopher Robin is saying his prayers!” they yelled, as they thumped him.  And so it went on into adult life.

The film is at pains to say that Christopher-Robin married happily and went on to run a bookshop in Dartmouth.  Apparently he never personally kept any of the royalties due to him as a result of the sales of his father’s “Winnie-the-Pooh” books.  However, Jude  remembers an interview he gave, when in his sixties on one of the BBC’s arts programmes – and he was a sad man who could not forget how his childhood had been forever foisted on him so that he could never shake it off.  It was an unforgettable image.

Jude, therefore, viewed the film with this background in mind.  CHRISTOPHER-ROBIN is beautifully played by ALEX LAWTHER,  A.A.MILNE by DOMHNALL GLEESON, MRS.MILNE (DAPHNE de SELINCOURT) is played by MARGOT ROBBIE and KELLY MACDONALD is NANNY.  The Director is SIMON CURTIS, the writer FRANK COTRELL-BOYCE and the cinematography is by BEN SMITHARD.

Jude et Jim strongly recommend you go and see it.

TIPS FOR THE OVER-SEVENTIES;  If you take up On-Line Banking, remember the point of the decimal-point.










No – I’m not whining this time.  That was last time.  This time I am full of the joys of autumn and getting ready for my holiday in Majorca where I shall capture the last of the sunshine (Temperature is 27 degs.C. in Palma as I write).

However, is it me, or has what is laughingly called our summer, vanished rather quickly and with great suddenness this year?  The wind is blowing steadily from the north-west today, and although the sun is out there is a distinct nip in the air.  Well, suits me guys. At least it will be an end to the sleeping-upside down season.  And my lovely Majorcan time-share villa has AIR/CON and  two double-beds as big as football pitches – so all should be cool and comfortable indoors at night with no fighting over bed-sharing.  Mr.and Mrs.Hobbit will get a room each, both set to the temperature they sleep in best and  on their return, the dreaded weather-forecasting- lady’s phrase “uncomfortable for sleeping” should have become a distant memory.  Plus Selfridge’s Christmas Shop will already have been open for two months.   Deep joy.

And how am I – I hear you ask?  After my visit to land of the elderly and infirm over the last couple of months?  The sciatica has departed – the acid-reflux is no more and all that is left to remind me that I am an octogenarian is the painful spot at the top of my spine – or the bottom of my neck, depending on how you want to look at it, as it were – that my doctor thinks is arthritis.  And he isn’t the only one, as I think it is arthritis too.  Not a good spot to get it and you will no doubt be hearing more of this affliction in due course. All in good time.

Last month saw the annual Air Show which has been a feature of this town for many years now and means most sensible residents get the Hell out to avoid ear-splitting noises overhead and a complete lack of parking spaces.  It lasts for four days so is, in fact, difficult to avoid and my mantra has long been “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”. Therefore  I held my usual genteel lunch-party on Day Three for those of my friends obsessed by high-powered aircraft, “wing-walking” and parachuting – passions which are a mystery to me but my friends are my friends and they put up with my peculiarities so it is only fair that I should put up with theirs.  Lots of sarnies got guzzled plus one or two mini pork-pies and bits of quiche;  Prosecco was offered but turned down in favour of diet Coke and coffee – and people scrambled for the best places on my (three) balconies holding their binoculars and their cameras with every appearance of having a good time. It has to be said that my block of flats has about the best view of this event that it is possible to get so no wonder I am urged to have this Bit of a Do every year. In truth my friends tend to telephone me in July to dictate which day of the weekend is most convenient for them to attend so will I hold ‘my’ party on that particular day.  Put like that it seems selfish not to lay it on once more – and, as I say, my friends are my friends. And they are cherished.  I just don’t get the thing with the aeroplanes……….

After all that excitement, further excitement offered in the shape of a trip to London to celebrate a friend’s birthday.  Another friend.  Not an air-show enthusiastic friend.  This one is fonder of Sean the Sheep than sky-diving –  (look – it’s an amiable weakness) – and she is particularly keen on dining “al-fresco” – Out-Of-Doors to you.  To which end she booked lunch at a restaurant on the river at Kingston-Upon-Thames a delightful town but something of a pain to reach from East Sussex – especially if you consider the state of  the Southern Region train-service at present.   I thought of driving up only to be told by my excellent osteopath that I was NOT to drive long distances for the time-being in case I did the Pelvic-Twist once more.  So I googled the journey via public transport and it looked simple enough..  Southern Region train to Clapham Junction – then an overground train out to Kingston – taxi from the station to the restaurant.  Easy-peasy.

And that’s where Southern Region Trains stepped in.  They managed to provide a train which departed on time and which I boarded happily, newspaper under arm, at 1000 hours.  But the further up the line it progressed the slower it ran.  Until it announced there were “signal problems” ahead.  It glided into Gatwick Airport, shuddered to a halt and announced “This train is terminating here.  Passengers who wish to continue their onward journey to Victoria should cross to Platform 2 and catch the next train from there. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”  Yeah.  Right.

I crossed to Platform 2 obediently, with all my fellow-passengers, of whom there were many.  In fact the train had arrived at Gatwick packed to the luggage-racks with people and baggage.  But we waited, patiently, as only the Great British Public can do – until the next train arrived, as promised, for the “onward journey” – and, it was also packed to the luggage racks with people and baggage.  Nevertheless, we were encouraged to push our way on board, and were indeed helped from behind by zealous Southern Region staff.

But this octogenarian paused and considered the scene and concluded that it all looked too much like the Hillsborough disaster for her liking.  Then she had a definite Senior Moment, came over all wobbly and decided to miss this opportunity of travelling with her face squashed into somebody’s soft-topped suitcase, bum-to-bum with a load of strangers.  Yes.  I may be old but I’m not stupid.  So I backed off and found somebody in a Southern Rail uniform and asked what my best option was.  To wait for the next train or to go home.  The Southern Rail uniform explained, politely and kindly, that there were “Signal problems ahead, and a broken-down train outside London Bridge causing delays.”  So I got my answer.  “Which Platform for the train back to East Sussex please?” I enquired.  He directed me to Platform 7, where a different sort of chaos reigned.  There was a Brighton train due, and an Eastbourne train due, but no-one was certain which one was coming first and anyway they were both an hour delayed……

So, long story short, eventually I boarded the correct train, travelling south, and I was, by this time, unsurprisingly, in need of a wee.  I sought out the Disabled Loo, which was the nearest one, to find a lot of teenagers sitting outside it, blocking the entrance.  However, the teenagers were quick to explain that the loo was “broken”, “not working”, whatever. They were quite sure of this which is why they were sitting with their backs against it.

I wondered off down the train, but was intercepted by a nice young female Southern Rail Guard who asked me where I was travelling to.  When I told her I was going to the end of the line, she looked concerned.  “The other public toilet on board is closed as it’s got no water,” she said.  I asked her if she was telling me that I was travelling on a train with NO PUBLIC LAVATORIES at all.  And her answer was “yes”.  Nice one.

However, she had a Cunning Plan, because at Hayward’s Heath, the next stop, there was a public loo in the middle of the platform “behind the sweet-shop”.  At Hayward’s Heath the train would stop for 4 minutes while they attached extra coaches, so, with luck and a following wind I should be able to disembark, visit the loo and get back on board again. Unfortunately she also told a great many other passenger, mostly mums with kids, the same thing.  Consequently, this tiny loo behind the sweet shop on Platform 2 at Hayward’s Heath became very popular indeed – with a queue of uncomfortable people waiting outside it – mostly with crossed legs.

Anyway, three cheers for the nice Southern Region lady guard as she counted us all back on again, even though it meant delaying the delayed train further.  And when I thanked her, and added “I bet you hate your job today,” she replied “I don’t mind it, so long as I can help people..”  What a star!

Finally, comfortably settled and on my way home again I rang my friend to explain myself.  (Well, it meant I could say what I’ve always wanted to say on a mobile phone; “I’m on the train….”)  Then I had to explain it was the train HOME – not the train for Kingston-on-Thames.  She was very understanding but told me the restaurant was celebrating a 10-year Anniversary with an anniversary menu which included confit duck with Dauphinoise Potatoes – and also that another guest at the lunch had got lucky on the lottery and was footing the bill for EVERYONE.    Duhhhh……..  Thanks Southern Region.

My comment on this experience is that the franchise has lost complete control of the network anyway – never mind the strikes – the whole system is having a nervous breakdown. – It is manned by nice, caring, hard-working people who are at their wits’ end. – and the two warring sides have not yet met IN THE SAME ROOM to discuss the problems.  Think this is gonna take some time.

Apart from another birthday party, in an Indian Restaurant nearer to home – in fact, only 8 miles away – my time has been occupied by getting ready for the Majorcan holiday (qv). The flights have been booked, the hire-car organised and the Euros procured – sadly each Euro is worth considerably less than Euros were last year – and I have had my hair cut and coloured a fetching shade of burgundy – in a style which even Jim cannot fail to notice.  Next is the leg-wax (ouch) and the toe-nail and finger-nail paint.  Then I am ready.  And we are only going for a week…..


Jude et Jim have been veritable Culture Vultures over the last three weeks and taken in two films which were on Jude’s “Must See” list.

The first, “A MAN CALLED OVE””was a delightful Swedish film, starring ROLF LASSGAARD” as the emponymous OVE, and obligingly provided with excellent subtitles since it was in Swedish (natch).  Jude finds subtitles a huge relief as she often struggles to follow the dialogue – something which is entirely due to the poor quality of film-recording and dubbing these days, and absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she has a hearing problem.  So there.

The film is an adaption from the best-selling novel of the same name by FREDRIK BACKMAN and is directed by HAMMES HOLM.  I suppose it could be summarised as the tale of a tiresome old grump – but it nevertheless is charming, touching and very funny. OVE is a late-sixties retiree with strict principles and a short fuse who spends his time enforcing community rules originally devised by himself when he first moved into this residential complex of bungalows;  visiting his wife’s grave and, from time to time trying to hang himself in his sitting room.  His suicidal attempts are always interrupted at the last minute – usually by a neighbour who is NOT complying with the aforementioned ‘rules’ in some way or another.  OVE is played with humanity and humour so you could call this a Black Comedy with a Big Heart – that is, if you enjoy cliches.  All the same, that is what it is.  Luckily for Ove his miserable life is enhanced unexpectedly by a lively family of new neighbours moving in and breaking ALL the rules, of course, with their badly-behaved kids, their ineffective Dad and their pregnant Persian Mama (BAHAR PARS).  Flashbacks to the young, newly-married Ove (FILIP BERG) put the whole story into context and are very cleverly managed.  So miserable Ove is on a journey from grief to happpiness, against his will and against his better judgement.  And it is very funny to watch.

Is there a happy ending?  Well – yes and no.  Go and see it for yourselves.  Jude et Jim loved it, although they had to travel 20 miles out of town to find a cinema that was showing it.  Still, as that town had an Italian Restaurant that served Spaghetti and Giant Meatballs there was an opportunity for a nice meal out as well.

After the success of that trip, they felt emboldened to visit the local Multiplex to see “THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM” – based on the book “DAN LENO & THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM” by PETER ACKROYD (1994)

As its title suggest this is a Gothic Horror-Thriller set in Victorian London with the action taking place in the Music Halls of the time, involving real figures from the past (DAN LENO – played by DOUGLAS BOOTH) – and a host of fictitious characters.  The Director is JUAN CARLOS MEDINA who should be congratulated on exactly capturing the atmosphere of the period in a brilliantly convincing way.

Jude  knew nothing about Dan Leno, so she Wikipedia’d him and it seems he was born GEORGE WILD GALVIN in the 1860’s and died, aged 42, in 1904.  In 1903 he was committed to a lunatic asylum after what today we would have called a nervous breakdown – so there are doubts about his mental stability.

The Dan Leno in THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM is definitely somewhat flaky and appears to be involved in the East End serial killings which are the background to this macabre tale. Mixed up with burlesque, comedy, Music Hall acts, the serial killers’ rampage of violence goes on, unchecked – until they bring in INSPECTOR KILDARE of Scotland Yard (played by BILL NIGHY).  This is a colourful film – not least because it is extremely gory, but it is well-done and full of suspense.  OO DUNNIT? you ask – frequently.  BILL NIGHY is Jude’s hero as  every single word that he uttered could be heard and clearly understood and the same cannot be said of other members of the cast – in particular OLIVIA COOKE, in the part of LIZZIE CREE, widow of one of the suspects and a major “plot carrying”role. Jude has to complain that she heard not one single word this young woman spoke and thus the plot was extremely difficult to follow.  And it wasn’t just Jude.  Jim said he couldn’t hear her either.

There is a huge shock/horror ending to this grotesque romp through the old days of Music Hall and the vice-dens of Victorian London.  But neither Jude nor Jim is going to reveal it as they are not SPOILERS.  It isn’t for the faint-hearted however, or those who don’t like blood and sexual-violence.  Which is most of us, I suppose.  But it is all exaggerated and so much larger than life that somehow this film gets away with it.

Plus it was a good excuse to visit the Thai Restaurant on the Harbour, which as regular readers of this post will know is one of Jude et Jim’s faves.  Jude’s stomach (having only recently recovered from Acid-Reflux, see above) was a bit shocked,  at first asking “You want me to digest deep-fried WHAT?” – but it settled down to the old routine very quickly. Goodness knows how many calories get devoured at one sitting here – but they are all quite delicious so who’s counting?


Do not undertake train journeys involving Southern Region – that is, if you wish to arrive anywhere with certainty.