Sunday, September 27, 2015

Trainee HOM and HOW

On the 28th September, two years ago our daughter got married. Happy anniversary Leanne and Ken.
Obviously the LSO was in a quandary about his speech as father of the bride so he turned to me for help, along with George Evans’ book, How To Be A Happy Old Man. Here’s the result.

First of all I’d like to say how beautiful my daughter looks today. And how happy.
Next I’d like to say how beautiful … no that’s wrong… I’d like to welcome Ken to the family. And to welcome his family to today’s celebration.
Ken and Leanne, I hope you’ll both be very happy. Happy people last longer.
A while back Lynne bought me a book called How to be a happy old man and I’ve taken some advice from it to give to you, Ken.
Actually after being married to Lynne for 46 years I could have written the book myself.
First of all you need to know that to become a HOM - happy old man -  you need a HOW - happy old woman.  I’m a HOM and Lynne’s a HOW.
Like me, you’ll get older and realise how important a HOW can be.
The key is in a song – ‘I want to be happy but I can’t be happy ‘til I make you happy too’.
There are rules you need to remember for how to keep your HOW happy. The three rules are –
1.      NEVER WIN AN ARGUMENT. She’s always right, especially when she’s obviously not.
2.      IT’S ALWAYS YOUR FAULT. That goes for lost handbags, missing shoes, global warming and everything else. And
3.      NEVER FORGET BIRTHDAYS AND ANNIVERSARIES. Saying sorry can be very expensive.
Friends are the people whose faults you are prepared to put up with. You know they can’t be perfect. Only your HOW is perfect. Remind her of that often.
Always be useful.  It’ll make you feel better and give you a reason for living. Of course your HOW will need a lot of TLC and that’ll keep you busy and useful.
Ken, we know that one of the problems you have is sleep, or should that be waking up?
Tiredness can be caused by lack of sleep or trapped wind. They both have the same effect on your mind. Wind, whether it’s up or down, can be a problem for a HOM, but never for a HOW. They don’t do trapped wind. That’s why men are called old farts.

Whether you stick to the rules or not, remember both of you, that happiness is a choice but it also needs working on.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Problem solved

So the LSO went to deepest Wales to see his reflexology clients and to where we still have a house and he gets a shock. The tenant who has rented our house for five years, and always promised to buy it, gives a month’s notice.
We had five days of worry. Houses don’t sell quickly in that area and, apparently, the place needs a lot of putting right before we could sell it.
And on the fifth day we get a phone call and problem solved. A young couple are looking for somewhere to rent. But we don’t want to rent it out so we’ve offered them a job as caretakers. We’ll go down and sort the house out, they move

in and take care of it until such time as it sells.
The photos were taken of the Welsh house five years ago. It will look like that again. But we have more work ahead of us and we are still putting the final touches to our house in Malvern which we’ve been doing up for the last two years. It hadn’t been touched since the 1960s/70s.

In case you’re thinking we’re rich, we are not. We are what is called Reluctant Landlords. We couldn’t sell the house and I was so homesick that we used it to buy a house back home.

Penrhiw House, Abercych, North Pembrokeshire. 
Detached and surrounded by gardens (the back garden is terraced). 
Upstairs : Large lounge 24 x 18ft (pictured) with 4 windows, two overlooking the Cych valley and one double bedroom, 12.4 x 9.6 and one single, 8.1 x 9.7.
Downstairs : Large kitchen, 23.3 x 10.9 with red AGA
large hallway 18.3 x 7.3 with open stairs, 
shower room, 
master bedroom, 16.8 x 10.2 with en-suite bathroom.
There's also a 4th bedroom/snug/dining room with patio doors off the kitchen. 10.8 x 8.5
All measurements in Old English. Lots of wooden floors and ceilings. Parquet flooring in hall and master bedroom. Double glazed. Oil fired central heating (no gas in West Wales). Under £200,000. Would cost double if it was in England. I wish we could pick it up and bring it here.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Pens don't count, do they?

At the beginning of this year I swore not to buy any new notebooks and you know how difficult that can be for a writer. So difficult that I have been avoiding shops which sell stationery. Until yesterday.
We (that’s the LSO who supervises shopping – that’s another story) visited Wilko’s because the LSO said we needed a new washing-up bowl. And there it was – not the bowl – an array of stationery and I resisted the notebooks. I did however buy a pack of those clear folders and a set of pens. Red and yellow and pink and green, orange and purple and blue. I’ve got a rainbow of pens. They’re those Inkjoy ones that have been advertised on telly. I couldn’t wait to get home and test them. Not a single one worked! ‘They’re useless,’ I wailed to the LSO so he took a look and, very carefully, flicked off a little protective cap on the tip of each pen. Oh, the joy of writing smoothly and easily with my new pens. In fact I wrote this by hand in purple ink before typing it on to my blog.

The LSO does the shopping because he reckons it costs half as much when I am not with him. That’s because he sticks to a list while I throw in lots of goodies which we, apparently, don’t need. I also tend to misbehave in supermarkets. e.g. I’ll toss a cauliflower over someone’s head and shout to the LSO to catch it. Behaving like this ensures I never have to go food shopping. 

Monday, September 07, 2015

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. Not the book or the film but the length of time I spent at the NAWG (National Association of Writers' Groups) Festival and how I wish it could have been longer. The festival takes place over a weekend at Warwick University and I was guest speaker at the Gala Dinner.

What is lovely about these writing events is getting to meet old friends and make new ones. It’s such an easy thing to do because, unlike ordinary get-togethers where you have to find like-minded people, everyone at a writing event has something in common to start with – writing. Whether they be professionals or beginners or anywhere in-between.

My talk was about my writing career – how it started with selling a reader’s letter and went on from there. The idea was to let everyone know that there are lots of opportunities out there and that writers who want to get on and make a career should never say no to any (legal) writing offer.

After the talk I had the pleasure and honour of handing out the prizes. Congratulations to all those prize winners. I know how tough the competition is because at the very first NAWG festival I was runner-up in the short story section.

Oh, and one final thing that’s important to nearly all writers – the food was excellent. (Even if I did have to look up pithivier and quenelle – the latter being, so Google informed me, French for suppository).  

And another Oh! Don't let writers' groups put you off. You can join even if you're not a member of a group. See for details.