Normally I don’t listen to music when I’m working. I don’t like having the radio on, nor do I listen to either of my iPods. If I’m writing, I’m writing and I find any background noise disturbing. When I’m listening to music, I’m listening to music.

But today I needed to charge the iPod Touch. I have an iPod Home unit, which plays and charges simultaneously, and also keeps changing colour. Because the computer has been showing signs of nervous exhaustion I didn’t want to plug the iPod in, so stuck it instead in the unit, and let the music play, as I wasn’t doing anything that required much concentration.

There’s 5 Gig of very mixed music on the Touch, and it’s on shuffle so I never know what’s coming up next. Much of it floated above my head today in a vague cloud, but a few minutes ago Elvis began singing Unchained Melody, and I felt overwhelmingly sad, listening to that beautiful voice that nobody has ever come near to matching, and remembering how handsome he was in his youth, and how even towards the end he never lost the voice, nor the smile that made him so endearing. I can still remember the moment his death was announced, and how it left me feeling so bereaved. Even after more than 30 years, I still miss him. He’ll always be The King.

A cropped and retouched picture, showing a hea...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s the same way I felt when Piaf died, and Pavarotti. The feeling that something very special and irreplaceable had vanished for ever, become extinct.

Thank goodness for digital music, that we are not dependent on vinyl, tapes or CDs to preserve  their voices.

Now I’m going to listen to Elvis singing the version of “Are You Lonesome Tonight” when he can’t stop laughing. That always makes me laugh out loud.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Double-entendre, ou malentendu?

For more than a decade, I’ve been asking myself whether I am misinterpreting a local French gentleman.

Some special radar system seems to alert him and send him to my door when I am alone, stripped to the waist in the sunshine or wrapped in a towel after getting out of the bath.

Whilst I always find that intensely embarrassing, he does not. He is one of those people who likes to stand well within your personal body space, and stare very directly at you when speaking. It makes me feel like an insect in a bell jar.

On the rare occasions when he has arrived and I have been fully dressed, one of the cats will inevitably jump onto my lap. He always remarks that cats know the best place to be.

Every aspect of our conversations seems riddled with double-meanings. Would he like a coffee, I ask, or prefer a glass of wine or a beer? He embarks upon a discourse regarding the effects of caffeine vs. alcohol. Coffee gives him raging energy, while alcohol makes him want to lie down.

We talk a lot about gardening. His tomato seedlings are only this high – he holds his fingers a couple of centimetres apart, but he keeps them warm and moist so it won’t take them long to reach this height – here he has to use two hands to indicate just how robust his tomato plants will soon be.  He is chitting his potatoes – already the shoots are this high. Another manual illustration. His planting instructions are filled with depths and circumferences.

He points out the birds mating – it’s the season for love.  He looks in the pond. The frogs are at it, too. When our hens come up to be stroked, as they do, he tells me that what they really want is a cock. He caresses a bud on the cherry tree. It won’t be long, he smiles, stroking it delicately, until it bursts open.

I have never met anybody whose conversation is so ambiguous.

Last year he embarked on a discourse regarding mushrooms in all their varieties. As far as he’s concerned, the one he enjoys most, I thought he said, is les trompettes de l’amour. Oh for heaven’s sake. But then when I consulted the fungal book, I learned they are not the love trumpets, but the trumpets of death – trompettes de la mort.  So maybe I have been doing him an injustice.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Resting on my laurels

It has been a frantic few weeks, ever since the new blackbirdebooks digital publisher tipped me off balance in February by choosing “The Valley of Heaven and Hell – Cycling in the shadow of Marie-Antoinette” as their Book of the Month for April.

I was quite certain that there were no typos in the manuscript. After all, I’ve been a proofreader for 99999 years, and I had read it over and over and over again. And yet as the book was edited, more and more typos, repeated repeated words, and punctuation irregularities came to light. Which just goes to prove that you cannot edit or proofread your own work, no matter how brilliant you may be. 😀

Hopefully all those nasty little gremlins have been squashed out of existence, because the book is now on the digital shelves, and available for immediate download. Immediate!

From the blackbirdebooks site The Valley of Heaven and Hell can be downloaded as a PDF file; alternatively it’s available as a Kindle book from Amazon (links on blackbirdebooks site), and in all other formats for e-readers at Smashwords. If you are uncertain about how to read a digital book, there is a lucid explanation here.

If anybody would like a review copy, please email me at softlysoftly at gmail dot com.

Thank you for reading. I’m off into the garden with an ice-cream now. 🙂


Enhanced by Zemanta


I’ve been suffering increasingly badly from heartburn/acid indigestion, whatever you want to call it. Sometimes it has felt as if my upper half is about to combust and as if there was an alien inside my thorax trying to hack its way out.

Now I suspected that the main cause of this was the quantity of instant cappuccinos I’ve been drinking at home. I must have been having at least 8 to 10 every day.

The discomfort became so bad the day before yesterday that I had to do something. So the cappuccinos have stayed locked away, and instead I’m drinking ginger tea. It has worked like a miracle. The burning, aching pressure has gone, I am no longer breathless, and on top there are no calories in the tea.  And only now do I realise  just how unwell I have been feeling, because all of a sudden, I feel fine. 🙂

Enhanced by Zemanta