Category Archives: Siblings

Lost And Found

Today a mystery was solved, one that has kept me puzzled for weeks, but I am going to see if you can solve the puzzle yourselves by answering a straightforward multiple-choice question (think of it as SATs for older people – you will get SUCH a sense of achievement when you get a score that will allow you to enter the University of Life [don’t you just HATE that phrase??]).
I will set the scene:
A few weeks ago, I bought a rather lovely black(ish) t-shirt (lovely longer length and loose enough to hide lumps and bumps, so many of you will understand – and empathise with – my joy) in readiness for holidays abroad (no one told me I wouldn’t actually need to go abroad to get sun and warmth this year). You may ask why I bought a dark t-shirt for holidays in the sun, but trust me when I say that black(ish) sets off a tan beautifully!
I took it with me to Cyprus and Spain (yes, yes, I know teachers are paid FAR too much and get HUGE pensions, which is why I can afford all these lovely holidays – I’ve heard it all before). It wasn’t cheap (yes, yes, I know teachers are paid far too much etc, etc, but I worked on the premise that it would last me a good length of time).
So, where does the mystery come in, I hear you cry (along with ‘Teachers are paid far too much and get a good pension and too many holidays’).
Well, the t-shirt mysteriously disappeared after I got back from Spain at the end of May. I knew I hadn’t left it in Spain because I’d worn it on the journey home (black is a far more useful colour to wear on a plane when turbulence may cause you to spill your red wine). Where was it? I looked through the pile(s) of ironing (anyone fancy a full-time job?) and checked my wardrobe(s) in case I had put it on a hanger under another item of clothing, but no joy (although I did find several other items I’d forgotten about – yes, yes, I know, teachers get paid too much… and all that stuff).
This was now beginning to occupy my mind a lot of the time (doesn’t take much, to be brutally honest), so imagine my complete surprise when I came out of the shower this morning, went into my room and found the t-shirt lying in a crumpled heap at the bottom of my bed! How could this be? I asked myself. A disappearing t-shirt suddenly reappears at the bottom of the bed? Surely, only Molly the ‘gangster cat’ could do this, in much the same way she will suddenly materialise on the bed in the middle of the night and take over two-thirds of it without you noticing until you try to turn over. (Teachers are paid FAR too much if they can afford to keep a cat…)
So, here is the question:
You lose a rather lovely, plain black(ish) t-shirt and wonder how it can have disappeared without any obvious reason. Is it because:
a) It disappeared into the black hole that also swallows odd socks and new bras which then turn up again for no good reason a few months later?
b) It has been lying at the bottom of the wardrobe after falling off a hanger and the gangster cat has been using it as a bed and you didn’t notice because both she and the t-shirt are black?
c) It has been lying in a pile of ironing (full-time job still available) and sibling picked it up with his own t-shirts, thinking it was one of his?
Answers should be written on a postage stamp (which only teachers can afford) and affixed to a homing pigeon (affordable by everyone) to be sent to the LSG, c/o the Cayman Islands (because I used to be a teacher).

I look forward to your deductions, Adoring Acolytes!

Yet Another Career Calls

A very good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru! This evening I wish to offer advice on new careers for the older woman, but advice which will also be relevant for the younger woman, since it can be stored away for future reference. My numerous forms of employment have included shop assistant, tour guide, travel agent, teacher, quiz setter, proofreader, as well as packer of plastic toy Jumbo Jets into cardboard boxes and packer of Rizla cigarette papers into smaller cardboard boxes. And now, a new career beckons … actor!

How has this happened, I hear you ask! Quite by accident, you will hear me reply!
Next-sibling-down and I replied to an advert by the University of Derby asking for volunteers to read parts in plays written by students on the MA in Writing for Performance course. (Actually, they used the word ‘actors’, but I loosely interpreted this as ‘volunteer’.) We were duly accepted and were sent our scripts – no need to learn any lines since the whole exercise would consist simply of reading the allocated parts for other students to evaluate and comment on the plays themselves. Easy peasy! After a little confusion, I eventually got the right script – a play for just two characters: a mother who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and her alcoholic daughter whose husband has recently been killed in a car crash shortly after their marriage. A cheerful little tale, you will agree. Next-sibling-down was given parts in two plays (he always has to go one better!), one of which included a woman who cuts someone’s tongue out – I’m not sure that the younger generation is growing up entirely happily and I blame it mainly on the Daily Mail.

Anyway, my reading took place this afternoon and seemed to go well – the woman who played my daughter (ha! I bet you thought I’d been cast as the alcoholic!) really threw herself into the part and almost burst into tears when I told her I was dying. I hope it was because of the emotion I put into it (‘I’m dying’) and not because of the emotion I didn’t (there’s not really much you can put into two words, even if they are ‘I’m dying’).

I think she’d done some ‘proper’ acting before, but so have I, although playing the part of the Fat Fairy in a village pantomime may not have offered quite the same depth and range of required emotion. My theme tune was ‘Nobody Loves a Fairy When She’s Forty’, which is quite a moving song when sung with the right level of poignancy and feeling.

After the reading, a thirty-something man came and sat next to me and introduced himself as what I first thought was Darty, but it turns out was Dhaithi, pronounced Dahee, an Irish name – I’m pleased to say he had similar problems with Rhian, so he referred to me instead as Muriel, my character’s name (Muriel!!). He asked me if I would be interested in auditioning for a film that some of his students would be making in the autumn, a story of an older woman (typecast already!) who meets an older man and they form a relationship – if I get the part, I shall make it clear that I will not countenance any nudity.
So, in future, when you hear older actresses complaining that there are no parts written for older women, just point them in the direction of the University of Derby.
Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, eat your hearts out!
Sleep well, dearest devotees!

Football And Gardening

A very good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru! I realise that it is a little while since I offered any advice on coping with everything that life can throw at you, whether it be avoiding the World Cup or dealing with weeds on the garden path (it’s always a good idea to keep your garden path clear in case anyone ever tries to lead you down it).

Football

Avoiding the World Cup is quite difficult, as I’m sure many of you are probably finding, but it can be done:
1. You can settle down at home with a good book and a glass of wine.
2. You can find a pub without a television and settle down with a good book and a glass of wine.
3. You can download a good book on your Kindle and settle down with a glass of wine.
4. Forget the books and just settle down with a glass of wine.

Gardening

Clearing the garden path is very easy – all you need is a sibling (or some other family member), some weed killer and a few black bin bags.
1. Persuade your sibling/other family member that your arthritis is really playing you up – limp heavily and often – and say in a pathetic voice that you wish you could bend to clear the garden path (this is actually a downright lie, but needs must…).
2. Sibling/other family member will get so fed up of your pathetic whining that he/she will ask where the weed killer is, which he/she will then spray liberally over the said weeds.
3. You, meanwhile, will be tasked with the dangerous job of keeping the cat indoors, which is best done with a good book and a glass of wine (or was that the World Cup? So easy to get confused.).
4. Once the weeds have been sprayed, sibling/other family member will cover the area with black bin liners, stating that they will remain in place for the foreseeable future because they will block the sun, thus discouraging the weeds from daring to show their faces ever again. You accept this as the absolute truth because you have imbibed so much wine that you no longer care that the garden path now looks like the aftermath of a rock festival, bin liners fluttering gently in the breeze, held down by an assortment of garden items ranging from garden chairs to rotting plastic watering cans, and part of a hydraulic jack which has been a feature of the garden since you moved in and which you haven’t thrown away because you’re sure you can make it a ‘proper’ garden feature, maybe even a postmodern water feature, with a gentle stream of water trickling softly over the side. Or maybe just wait for it to rain …
And there you have it – football and gardening sorted, providing you have a good book, a sibling/other family member, weed killer, bin liners, a cat and, of course, a plentiful supply of wine …
I will finish by saying that I may adopt an ancient Roman habit of those in high places – to employ a slave to whisper in your ear that you are only human. (The slave should also be able to pour a glass of wine without spilling a drop…)
Sleep well, adoring acolytes!

A Tourist Guide to Cyprus, Part 2

A convivial ‘kalenikta’ (or perhaps that should be ‘Ay oop, me duck’ now that I have returned to more familiar shores) from the Lifestyle Support Guru to all Devoted Devotees (which is what ‘devotees’ should be – devoted) out there this evening. I know there will be many of you waiting with bated breath to hear more about the LSG’s adventures on the beautiful island of Cyprus. However, before I do that, I should like to say a little bit about the Greek language. Many believe that Greek is a difficult language with an incomprehensible alphabet, but the LSG hopes to demystify the whole issue with this handy guide – please feel free to cut it out and keep in your wallet/purse ready for any excursions to Greek-speaking areas of the world such as Athens, Rhodes, Cyprus and Melbourne (Australia, not Derbyshire, although there may be a large Greek-speaking community in Melbourne, Derbyshire, for all I know). All you need to remember is:
b=v; p=r; Λ= l; x= th; Π=p; H=I; and so on – Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy, or ‘Εασυ ρεασυ, λεμον σκυεεσυ’, as the Greeks might say.
Anyway, now that you have a working knowledge of the Greek language, I shall continue with my tourist guide to Cyprus. A coach trip to the north of the island is worth the effort, especially if the coach ‘population’ is split between British and Russians – the English-speaking guide was VERY discreet, pointing out RAF Akrotiri, but with no mention of the RAF taking off from there to be part of a recent bombing raid on Syria. However, I have no idea what the Russian-speaking co-guide said – she may have been insulting the rest of us and exhorting the Russians to persuade Putin to press the red button, for all I know!
My main disappointment was finding that my newly-acquired knowledge of Greek served no purpose in the north because it’s Turkish-occupied and, therefore, Turkish-speaking! However, it’s quite exciting going through the UN Buffer Zone and finding yourself in a country which doesn’t officially exist!

Quad and buggy rides offer another means of entertainment, especially if the day out includes an (unplanned and unexpected) off-road visit to Adonis’s Baths and Waterfalls (a sort of Ancient Greek equivalent of a power shower) – all I can say is that, if Adonis had to go all that way to have a bath, and Aphrodite’s Baths were several miles away the other way, I’m surprised they got together at all!

Segway – what can I say? I took to it like a duck to water, of course. I wasn’t the one who had to be guided by the rather gorgeous Dmitri (who was actually from Hull), one hand steering his own Segway, his other on the guiding handle of the Segway of some large, wobbly woman who appeared incapable of balancing properly and seemed to think she was going to fall off at any moment; and when she did get off at the halfway point, she almost fell over because her toes and calf muscles were so tensed up with trying to keep her balance that they almost wouldn’t hold her up (the positive side was that Dmitri had to help her stand up properly). But IT WASN’T ME, of course – it was some other very silly woman!

And my final piece of advice? Try not to go to the same places as Kate Moss – by ‘places’, I mean methods of transport which require you to wear a seat belt – aeroplanes, coaches, quad buggies and suchlike. I find it SO bizarre that, whenever I have to use a seat belt, I always seem to be sitting in the same seat that Kate Moss or a travelling stick insect had occupied previously. But LIFE is full of such strange coincidences, isn’t it, Beloved Believers?

And on that thought, I shall leave you and wish you all a very good Σάββατο βράδυ.

The Traveller’s Guide to Cyprus

A very good evening to you all from Cyprus! Yes, the Lifestyle Support Guru has finally managed to get away on holiday – one can’t count recent visits to York, Huddersfield and Sheffield as ‘holidays’, since they are just classed as ‘moving around oop north for a day or two’, which are not really holidays at all.
This holiday started badly, I’m afraid – the alarm went off at 5.30am a couple of days ago! How can they even let that time exist? The day should always start at something like 8.30am and move sedately on to the evening, allowing for gentle pauses along the way for food and drink, or catching a plane. Nevertheless, younger siblings and I made it safely to the airport where next-sibling-down proceeded to consume a Belgian waffle with chocolate and cream at 7.30 in the morning. I managed a small cup of coffee. Youngest sibling went to the toilet.
But I am sure that you do not wish to read about such mundane happenings, even if they are part of the LSG’s fascinating life – I only tell you these things to make you realise that you, too, can be like the LSG: you may not have a sibling who will eat chocolate waffles at 7.30 in the morning, but you probably have a spouse, a better half, a rock, a soulmate, a child, a friend, a ‘hun, r u ok?’ – ANYONE! – who can fulfil this role. But I digress… having been here for three whole days, I am now an expert on how to blend seamlessly into Cypriot life so that you appear to be a native. So, here it is – the LSG’s Guide to Life as a Cypriot:
On the first morning, the siblings decide to walk down to the harbour but you decline because you have somehow forgotten to bring a small handbag for the evenings (those who know the LSG well will realise that this is an amazing oversight), so you say you will wander to a nearby shopping centre to see what they have to offer. The fact that the walk to the harbour would take up to an hour and the walk to the shops a mere ten minutes has NOTHING to do with this decision.
Imagine your surprise upon entering the shopping centre to find that the first shop is Marks and Spencer! (Actually, that’s a lie – the first shop was Holland and Barrett, but that isn’t classed as a SHOP as such, because how can one get pleasure out of buying vitamins?) You wander in (to M&S, of course, not H&B) – just out of curiosity, you understand – and ask an assistant if they have any small bags, at which point she looks sad and leads you to the ‘bag area’. She was right to look sad – there was a choice of TWO! In fact, two is not even a choice in my mind. She will try her best to sell you a beige bag, but your eye will have already been caught by a rather fetching lime green one. You can almost hear the assistant thinking, ‘We’ve been trying to sell those damn things all year.’ But the LSG is not one to follow the fashions and trends of ordinary people – oh no, if lime green takes her fancy, that is what she will get. AND a rather nice white t-shirt in the sale also happened to jump into the shopping bag – I will swear ON OATH that the same item wasn’t available in the Derby branch of M&S last week.
The next thing to do in your attempt to become a Greek Cypriot is to get a haircut – by a hairdresser from Bradford, of course. By now, no one will ever think you are anything other than a born-and-bred Cypriot, although you draw the line at joining the siblings in learning how to scuba dive…the LSG would not wish to cause any riots by appearing in public in a wetsuit.
A coach tour of the island is, of course, obligatory – especially one that mentions a visit to a winery. Unfortunately, we booked the wrong one and ended up on the tour that visited the church of the tomb of Saint Lazarus, he who was raised from the dead. I must admit to a little shiver down my spine when we went into the crypt and saw an open sarcophagus. I looked quickly around but could spot no obvious 2,000-year-old person loitering in the shadows looking like he’d just come back from the dead, although there are one or two at the hotel who could give a good impression of him.
We also passed the rock in the sea which is reputedly the birthplace of Aphrodite, the most beautiful woman ever known, although the LSG is giving her a good run for her money.
One good thing came out of the ‘raising the dead’ tour – a rather nice lemon hooded jacket jumped out at me in Larnaca (I like to think that Lazarus played a part here – I see him in lemon), just the thing for the evenings, which are still a little chilly – and a lovely contrast to the lime green bag. All that is needed now to make me look like a bowl of citrus fruit is a pair of orange trousers. There may have been some in Marks…
One final (sort of serious) point – Greek Cypriots are incredibly friendly and chatty, but if you say ‘kalimera/kalispera/efkharisto’ at some point, their faces light up with absolute joy!
The LSG is now fully immersed in Cypriot life and could be taken for a native.
The (Welsh) Brit Pack is here and living the dream! Kalenikta!