Category: Advice

Dealing with Loss

Hello, hello, hello from the Lifestyle Support Guru! No, I haven’t turned into a policeman, but I’m just so excited to be in touch again! I have such little news for you at the moment because nobody is doing very much or going anywhere. However, I felt I needed to communicate with you after receiving some incredibly sad news today from a friend of mine. It was this news that made me realise that I still have a role to play as the LSG even in these unprecedented times and that I can still offer support and friendship, even at a distance. friend – I’ll call him Nigel for the sake of convenience – was informed today by post – not even a personal phone call! – that Laithwaite’s wine is closing its Croydon branch next month. Nigel is a good customer there, so it’s not closing for lack of sales, and this will leave him with nowhere to go for a regular supply of his favourite Shiraz. He’s finding it difficult to talk about it at the moment and I have offered him counselling (but none of my wine stock). I have also said I would be prepared to accompany him to the store before the closure to pay my own last respects (not in case there are any bargains to be had, of course).

Glass of Sauvignon Blanc

We all have our own ways of dealing with loss and I have suggested to Nigel that he should empty his wine cellar (aka ‘the cupboard under the stairs’ or ‘the lake’) of current stock to make plenty of room for replacements. The last I heard this evening, he was on his third bottle, so he has clearly listened to my advice. I have also heard that his wife is filing for divorce (that’ll give you more room when the handbag collection has gone). Win some, lose some, Nige…

You know I’m always here for you, especially if you bring a bottle of wine

A Social Occasion

Hello, Faithful Followers! Lifestyle Support Guru here after a long absence. Have you missed me? Such wonderful news – today, I went out on a ‘social occasion’ and met up with not one, but two – yes, TWO –acquaintances! However, please keep it to yourselves that we were a ‘ménage à trois’ (so to speak), since we are only supposed to meet one other person, and in a public space, but we were in a garden, so not technically a ‘public’ space, but it was in the open air, so we felt that we were staying within the rules – more or less. what was the reason for this ‘social occasion’? An exchange of alcoholic beverages and literary works – in other words, swapping bottles of wine and books. I swapped a bottle of Sardinian white wine and a book about ‘cork dorks’ (wine nerds) for a bottle of Provençal rosé and a book written by an anti-fascist about his exile in a remote region of southern Italy. I think this says a lot about our differing literary tastes and intellectual capacities – I leave it up you to decide who is the ‘lightweight’. had a jolly chinwag as Bazza, the Friendly Geordie, (BFG), who has appeared in my stories before, and the LSG sat at the garden table, wrapped up warmly, while her paramour, BSG (Bazza’s Shy Geordie), sat just inside the kitchen door, so should the riot police come charging into the garden, they would find no one breaking any rules. We are a law-abiding lot, even though we compared speeding offences during our conversation!
(It was lucky that it wasn’t a warm spring day, otherwise I would have had to remove my jacket and thus shown that the (new) jumper I was wearing was in sore need of ironing, having not long been taken out of its wrapper, but that is now a secret I can take to my grave.) swapped our various items, including a bottle of out-of-date beer, which happened to be lying around in the LSG’s kitchen, BFG suddenly asked – apropos of nothing – if I liked hummus! ‘Yes,’ I replied with great enthusiasm. ‘Oh good. Would you like to take some home with you?’ ‘Yes, please.’ I said, thinking that perhaps they had purchased too much on a recent shopping trip and were trying to fob the LSG off with some out-of-date hummus in exchange for the out-of-date beer, knowing that the LSG has the constitution of an ox and would laugh at the idea of wasting something simply because of its ‘use by’ date – this is someone who, only a week ago, safely consumed a packet of microwave rice that was seven years past its ‘best before’ date! (Yes, YEARS!)
But I digress – this hummus was not out of date, but homemade! HOMEMADE! Who knew there was such a thing! I thought Sainsbury’s and M&S had cornered the market in hummus! HOMEMADE! And so a tub packed to its brim with hummus – HOMEMADE! – was duly put into the LSG’s bag along with the rosé and the anti-fascist book – oh, and a book about an Italian detective. this was not the end of the surprises at this very convivial social occasion – oh no! BSG then said that, when cutting BFG’s hair in the garden yesterday, he had missed a few bits, so he thought he might get at them while she was outdoors, at which point BFG asked if I would like to stay and watch! I was overcome! Such a personal invitation! And I was told that I could take photos if I wished! There is no end to this couple’s generosity! And to prove how enjoyable this event was, I have attached a small number of photos from the Sweeney Todd Barber Shop (Mickleover branch). I turned down the offer of having my own locks trimmed – I was anxious to get home and taste the hummus – HOMEMADE! – but I am expecting a delivery of meat pies next week

Out and About

Hello, hello, hello! Lifestyle Support Guru here to tell you that I have ‘had the call’ and I wished to share the experience with you all!
What an exciting morning – I had somewhere important to go, so I spent more time doing my hair and face than I have done in the whole of the last six months, debated with myself about what to wear and then headed off for my… vaccination!
You are told to wear something that will allow easy access to your upper arm – I decided against a little off-the-shoulder number and opted for a cosy cardi. It was at the Derby Arena, which doubles as a velodrome, so I thought I might be able to have a spin round the track afterwards, but no chance, I’m afraid, so that’s my yearly exercise opportunity blown.
There were so many people there, but no one to talk to because we were all socially distanced, so no chance of swapping lockdown horror stories or exchanging tips on how to make a Pot Noodle more interesting. You are given the vaccination (Pfizer, if you’re interested; David had AstraZeneca the other day, so we’re a ‘mix’n’match’ household), then you have to sit for 15 minutes – this is so they can check that you don’t suddenly start frothing at the mouth (or worse) after the jab. Being the LSG, I didn’t froth (or worse), so they let me go and off I headed to my next destination – Sainsbury’s!
I wasn’t expecting anything too thrilling to happen here, but that is just when life springs surprises on you! Who would have thought that a visit to Sainsbury’s would offer the opportunity for wildlife photography AND a treasure hunt! As I was idly wandering up the fruit aisle, wondering whether to get some bananas (I like bananas, but I forget about them and then they go all squidgy, and I don’t like squidgy bananas), a blackbird suddenly flew across my path, heading straight for the apples, where it perched, looking for all the world as if it simply couldn’t decide between the red ones or the green ones (I couldn’t help because I don’t like apples of any shade). It then flew behind the apple boxes, playing hide-and-seek with the extremely callow assistant who had been fetched by another customer. The assistant looked more puzzled and concerned than the blackbird! The blackbird then flew off to sit above the bananas and stayed there posing while I took a picture – I think I might enter it for a wildlife photography award.
Who wants to look at lions in the Serengeti when you can admire blackbirds among the bananas! The last I saw of it, it was heading for the salad section.
And then Sainsbury’s sprang another surprise on me – this was exciting, even for the LSG, who usually takes everything in her stride… they had moved the food sections around since I last visited! Heady stuff indeed! Where I was expecting orange juice, there was now yoghurt; baked beans had taken the place of individual trifles; cheese had been replaced by salad dressing! It really was like a treasure hunt… and that’s how I ended up with a selection of party dips, two slices of gala pie and some salmon ‘slowly smoked for 12 hours over oak and whisky cask chippings’, none of which had been on my original shopping list!
After such excitement, I felt it was time to go home for a lie-down and a quick froth at the mouth. What a day! Lockdown has never been so exciting! And I’ve still got my ‘Virtual Italy’ class to look forward to this evening! I shall be quite worn out!

A Lifesaving Mission

Hello, hello, hello, Faithful Followers! Lifestyle Support Guru here, hoping to help you lead a more fulfilling life in the present circumstances. Today I am going to tell you how to bring a little excitement into your lives, even though we are on lockdown again and are meant to be sheltering inside our houses. I must say that, given the freezing weather and the fog, that’s where you should be, anyway!
Sibling-I-share-a-house-with and I had to go out this morning on an important mission, but we were a little concerned that we would be stopped by the local constabulary and asked the purpose of our journey and whether it was absolutely essential. The sibling even went so far as to ask, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ I had checked through the rules and decided that our journey was perfectly acceptable (and the LSG is a law unto herself, anyway) but we practised looking serious, just in case. This means not telling any jokes half an hour before leaving the house.
We went outside and started scraping the car clear of frost, but in an unhurried and casual manner, as if it were something we were doing just to pass the time and as a means of exercise, just in case a police car should pass by and eye us suspiciously. Windscreen and lights cleared, we set off on our perilous journey through the ice and fog, finding our way barred at one point by a ‘Road Ahead Closed’ notice, requiring a diversion which took us straight past the police station! Luckily, the said station was closed down several years ago and is now a Premier Inn. A close shave, though!
We continued without further incident and arrived safely at our destination, having encountered no police cars or roadblocks checking if our journey was really necessary.
I delivered the lifesaving parcel, leaving sibling sitting in the car with the engine running in case of a need for a quick getaway (it was to keep the car warm, really). The friend to whom it was delivered answered the door in a summer top, accompanied by her young daughter in a sleeveless party dress. The LSG was more suitably dressed in a vest top (black), warm jumper (white), even warmer coat (orange) and gloves (red). Oh, and light green shoes – a vision of sartorial elegance!
The friend did admit to being cold, especially since she said she’d also left a window open by accident and we stood chatting at the open door for 5 minutes, but otherwise I find nothing wrong with home-schooling in a floaty summer top and a party dress – enjoy life in your own way, I say!
We then wended our weary way home (a whole 9 miles) and made it safely back, having accomplished our mission. And what was the valuable parcel? One of life’s essentials – a roll of bubble wrap! 😊Stay safe!

Being Positive
Hello, hello, dearest devotees! Lifestyle Support Guru here. Today I was devastated – yes, devastated, faithful followers – to learn that one of my siblings does not see me as a positive, glowing beacon of light shining in the darkness that is this vale of tears called life. I shall not name this sibling, to save her blushes – oops, did I just give it away that the sibling is female, which narrows it down to one of two? – and to save the blushes of her children and grandchildren, who live near her just outside London – oops, did I just give it away that she isn’t the one who lives over the water? How remiss of me!
However, the LSG is nothing if not magnanimous and I am always ready to learn from criticism, harsh and unwarranted though it may be. When have I not been positive, I ask myself? And I fail to find an answer. Even in my darkest moments, I have been able to laugh at the silliness of others – is this not positivity, finding humour in someone else’s misfortunes? When I see someone trip over a paving stone, I laugh and think, ‘Well, they may have lost their dignity, but at least they didn’t break a bone!’ Is this not positivity? When I see someone spill their drink over their best clothes, I laugh and think, ‘Well, they may have lost their dignity today, but a good hot wash should do the trick tomorrow.’ Is this not positivity?

And what was it that triggered this painful accusation of negativity? An account by the anonymous sibling of a fruitless trip to the shops and a comment by the LSG that there were positive sides to it, to which the anonymous sibling replied that positivity wasn’t my strong suit, or words to that effect! This was the basic story:You decide to head to the shops, which have just reopened after lockdown. However, you find that everyone else has had the same idea and it’s impossible to find a parking space. You decide to go and have breakfast at a local café instead, but it all seemed such a waste of time, petrol and make-up.
I simply suggested that there was another way of looking at it, such as:
a. You’ve got out of the house.
b. You haven’t spent all that money you saved while in lockdown
c. Somebody else has cooked your breakfast.
d. You’ve helped a local shop.
e. You can do it again tomorrow and save even more money!

Instead of gratitude for helping her to see the brighter side, I am told this is not my usual outlook. But am I downhearted? NO! Never let it be said that the LSG cannot bounce back from whatever life may throw at her! Positive thoughts flow from me at all hours of the day and night and especially after a glass of wine, I find… although this may just be coincidence.
Do feel free to contact the LSG if you would like to find a positive aspect to your problems. Discretion and anonymity guaranteed.