Perking the Pansies has recently passed its seventh birthday. It’s quite a milestone, I think. Most personal blogs are lucky to make it beyond the terrible twos. I still write it because I still enjoy it and I’m chuffed that enough punters still pop by to catch up on my news and views, rants and rambles. You make a fading fairy very happy. As it’s the turn of the year, it’s top ten time once again. So, ladies and gents, and those who are both, neither or someone in between…
The top two promised smut but delivered something altogether more innocent. I do hope visitors weren’t too let down, but this does demonstrate the value of a good headline, the ruder the better or so it seems. The also rans are an eclectic pick ‘n’ mix of danger and disability, dotage and death, beards and biography, civic history and doing the right thing.
When we first moved into the micro-loft we tarted up the bathroom and fitted a fancy new shower screen. But East Anglian water is so hard it almost hurts – calcifying kettles quicker than Medusa’s stare – and I soon tired of the elbow grease needed to keep the fancy shower screen fancy. So we replaced it with an easy-wash shower curtain in electric blue. Sorted.
But what to do with the fancy shower screen? There’s not a lot of storage in the micro-loft (the clue’s in the micro) so we decided to ask the Council to take it away. In the meantime, we just slid it under our bed and forgot all about it.
Twelve months on and we returned to the micro-loft one afternoon to find the entire bedroom floor covered in glass fragments. It didn’t compute at first. You know, those times when you just can’t believe your eyes? Then the penny dropped – the fancy shower screen. It had exploded – everywhere. The biggest bang our bed had experienced in years. And the effect was almost artistic – the kind of thing that wins the Turner Prize.
It took hours to sweep up and I put my back out in the process.
The moral of this explosive story? Simple. Don’t store a fancy shower screen under your bed.
You need a second mortgage to park in Norwich city centre. When we moved into the micro-loft, we flogged the sexy-arsed Mégane (to my sister) and Liam now rides the bus to work. He no longer risks life and limb on the narrow country lanes with their tail-gating yokels, blind bends, loose livestock and black ice.
Bus travel in Norfolk belongs to a bygone era. People still (mostly) queue at bus stops and drivers apologise for being late. Just imagine that! It’s the kind of civilised behaviour long since abandoned in London, a place where the law of the urban jungle prevails and it’s survival of the fittest. The last time I visited the Smoke, a bright red double decker actually yelled at me. Over and over it screamed…
This bus is under attack. Call 999!
I’m delighted to confirm it was a slip of the driver’s wrist. Still, it was enough to wake the dead and give nervy tourists on-the-spot seizures. The hapless driver was frantically trying to switch off the announcement as the bus cruised slowly by. After events in Paris, Beirut, Turkey and elsewhere, I felt his pain.
The beauty of renting is that we’re not responsible for all those annoying little things that inevitably go wrong around the home. We had a dodgy boiler that refused to heat water (though it was more than happy to heat the radiators, even when not asked). Our friendly landlady despatched a boiler-suited chatty man with cute dimples. He installed a brand new heat exchanger (No idea? Me neither). I provided tea for his labours and listened intently to my boiler man recall his boiler tales. A dull date on a Saturday night, I thought. Despite the cute dimples.
Then we became undone by a temperamental washing machine that only spun when it could be arsed. The reluctant spin went on for weeks. We were seriously in danger of being buried under sopping piles of dripping undies. Our landlady dispatched a smiley man in baggy bottoms and a corporate polo top. I provided tea for his labours as he tried to wring a final spin out of the moody machine. “It’s knackered,” he concluded. His home-spun words were music to my ears. I almost invited him out for dinner.
A week later, our landlady despatched a replacement appliance escorted by a thick-set older man with an even thicker-set accent. He was accompanied by a spotty young apprentice. “Where’s it plugged in?” asked the old man. “Absolutely no idea,” I replied. After a lot of huffing and puffing, hauling and heaving, he found the socket behind the fridge. Then I watched him slice the live wire with a Stanley knife. The loud bang almost gave me a seizure. Unlike me, he wasn’t the least bit perturbed by the black flume and strong whiff of electrical burn or the fact that he’d blown all the sockets in the kitchen. The young spotty thing was shocked into silence. For one brief moment, I thought I’d been beamed back to Bodrum where all workers are fully qualified electricians/plumbers/carpenters/roofers/rocket scientists (delete as appropriate).
Laurel and Hardy didn’t get tea for their trouble, I can tell you. Well, the kettle wasn’t working.
After the big freeze comes the inevitable big thaw as temperatures rise to their seasonal norm. The glaciers of Norwich are gently melting to a sloppy slush of dirty grey and iced water gently trickles away into sewers. My bruised back is gradually recovering from my big trip and I can venture out once more without fear of slippage and indignity. Before the cold snap becomes yesterday’s news, I give one last cold snap of my own – our patio table looking like a giant iced sponge on a silver cake stand.
Norwich City Council in its municipal wisdom has decided that gritting pavements isn’t their bag. While city streets are generally clear, the continuing arctic snap means that unsuspecting pedestrians risk their dignities and their coccyxes attempting to skate along the glacial footpaths. People are dropping like nine pins judging by the amateur footage taken by a voyeuristic resident of Duke Street. Yesterday, I was gingery trying to navigate the Tombland icecap. My thick-tread winter boots did not save me from an arse-over-tit, ice scream tumble that nearly put me into an early grave. It hurt. I think I’ll sue. It’s all the rage these days.
St Andrew’s and Blackfriars’ Halls (known collectively as ‘The Halls’) is a 13th century medieval complex at the end of our street and the best preserved friary in England. The riot of sturdy buttresses, hammer beams and Gothic arches is one of the ‘Norwich 12‘ – a list of the most iconic buildings in the city. When Henry VIII decided to strip the Catholic Church of all its power and wealth, the friary was dissolved, the friars were cast out into the cold and the buildings were put up for sale. They were saved by the intervention of the Mayor of Norwich who took them off fat Harry’s hands for £81, pledging to use the halls “…for the good of the citizens, for fairs and feasting.” The Halls have been used for secular knees-ups ever since. Carrying on the 450 year old party tradition, St Andrew’s Hall has just played grand host to the Norwich Beer Festival, a six day piss-up sponsored by the Norwich and Norfolk branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). Real ales are for real males judging by the herd of nerds in knitwear corralled outside a side door having a quick fag before resuming their drunken orgy and sucking the kegs dry. I was so fascinated by the species that I walked straight into a lamp post and nearly knocked myself out. And I was the sober one. Cheers!