Friday, 17 January 2020

The Reading Challenge!




Hello Everyone,

Lady M here. I hope you've enjoyed my two January posts and they've cheered you up through what is traditionally a depressing time of year. I went to the library on Monday and they told me that next week they are having the town crier at the door greeting peeps with the traditional, "hear ye..." and announcing news. This is a novel way of brightening up what has become known as Blue Monday, the day when most people are depressed. Does that mean no one is depressed at any other time of the year? According to Wikipedia this term began in 2005 and only applies to the Northern Hemisphere. It is a gloomy title given to the third Monday in January and is due to a combination of post Christmas blues, the weather and arrival of unpaid credit bills. 

Well, what Lady M says is the glass is half full, stay positive and look forward to good times ahead. Happiness comes from within and we need to find our own ways of surviving dark days. This week I would like to share with you something I have found and am participating in. It has helped lift the January blues. I am taking the Penguin Reading Challenge. I believe other publishing houses, like Random House, are also offering challenges. It's a simple thing to do if you love books and reading... just sign up for it and tick one or more categories. They email you a list of books each month throughout the year. I'm not totally naΓ―ve, I know that it is really a marketing opportunity and the main idea is to see a rise in sale figures but there are wonderful places called libraries where you can obtain them for free, read them and return them.

https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/2020/the-penguin-reading-challenge.html

There are four categories as below. What could be easier?
Expand my mind
Keep up with the big hits
Read the books I've always meant to
Discover the best contemporary writing
           Read stories, poetry, essays and more  from critically-acclaimed writers.

So far, I've found an interesting concept on time by reading The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli. I am moving on to another Sophie Kinsella novel and A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena. I am familar with Sophie Kinsella's work but the other two are new authors to me and I would not have found them without doing this challenge. It is important that we open up our eyes to new opportunities. Please let me know if you choose to join me in this challenge or if you have discovered new ideas for surviving January but remember that glass and keep smiling.

All my love, Lady Mxxx


                                       







Friday, 10 January 2020

Room Number!



                                             




Hello Everyone,

Lady M still here and trying to be positive as we move into 2020! She is remembering the Millenium Promise which she made twenty years ago, "Smile more and frown less." It's difficult but she is sure that the new year and decade will have many wonderful things in store for her. Well, she lives in hopes. This week, she decided to share one of her little stories with you. Very often peeps ask where writers get inspiration from. The reply is anywhere and everywhere. This story came to mind after recent experiences. Enjoy and laugh as you imagine our wonderful monarch in this situation.

                                                    *****************************




ROOM NUMBER

Some years ago, I went on my jollies to Malta and when I checked into the hotel, they gave me room 636. I said, “If it were 666, I would be the devil’s daughter.” This caused much laughter. For a few days at all mealtimes I would smile and say, “666, The devil’s daughter, 636.” Suddenly, I was feeling devilish. Many would say, true to character!

When asked for the room number I just said, “666.”

This was at a time when pen and pads had been ousted and fantastic new technology had been brought in. I watched the harassed waiter put the numbers in this silly little machine. He looked puzzled. Now, dear readers, that waiter had known me for years and had heard me describe myself as the devil’s daughter many times. I was sure he would realise. He tried again, “Er, it’s not coming up. What number?”

When I’m devilish…I’m devilish! 

“666.”

He tried four or five times before I laughed and said, “It’s 636.” Then he realised and laughed.

“I never expected you to put it in.”

“When we had to write the room numbers it was easy to remember them. Now, we just put the number in we’re given without thinking about it. It’s like being in auto-pilot mode.”
I guess that was the beginning of the farewell to the banter between waiters and guests. That was when they first became too busy or preoccupied to consider friendliness and chatter.

Moving forward. Different time. Different place. Technology has advanced. Hostesses and restaurant staff all have iPads which require a room number before revealing individual identity and numerous other details which staff must read as opposed to conversing or even looking at the guest. Guests have become robots. Forget personal, friendly service, care or any interest in guest. Forget remembering little details like room numbers, wine preference or anything relating to regular guests which made them feel welcome, special and at home. Just concentrate on the iPad and think of salary. Technology has replaced humanity. In the good old days when hostesses had a list on paper, or what is now known as hard copy, they would look up, see a person and smile. Then greet person with vocabulary before finding name on list, note and place tick. Next, be happy to escort person to a table while chatting pleasantly. Such wonderful memories of bygone days. Now…

There at the restaurant door stands stone-faced Morticia. Guests approach and join the queue for dinner with some trepidation while wondering whether they’re in a luxury hotel or the supermarket check-out.

At last it’s their turn to face the ordeal with Morticia whose glazed eyes just vaguely note another robot in front of her. “Room Number!” She demands. No one is getting passed her without this information. Once she has this information, she is oblivious to any attempt at verbal communication from robots who are asking to sit in their favourite place in the inner sanctum and enjoy an evening meal. They have been salivating for the last fifteen minutes while patiently queuing and wondering why they have paid a fortune for this torture when it’s free at the local supermarket. Eventually, after digesting all the info on her silly little iPad she shouts, “Follow me.” Then proceeds to place them at a table of her choosing, not theirs. They protest but she acts more like a prison officer than a hostess and they are left sighing as they are seated at a table in the corner and in the dark. She has left them, rushed back to her station ready to face the next robots.

This set me thinking… after all I am a writer. What would happen if the Queen, Prince Philip and their entourage were to find themselves in this situation? I think it would be something like this…

“Room number!” Morticia bawls.

“Room number. What is a room number?” The Queen asks.

“Room number.” Morticia repeats and quickly glares at her before looking back at her precious iPad.

The Queen turns to Philip, “Philip what is a room number?”

“Damned if I know. Isn’t a room something that common people stay in?”

“Just a single room? People stay in just a single room. Really?”

A frustrated and annoyed Morticia shouts even louder, “Room number!”

“I think so. Wouldn’t know.”

“Oh,” She looks at Morticia, “One does not have a room.”

“Oh, you’re non-resident. How are you paying?”

“Paying? One doesn’t pay. One is Queen. One does not carry currency.”

Morticia is getting really annoyed with these stupid robots. “You’re not resident and you’re refusing to pay. Next. Room number.”

The Queen is thoroughly confused. “One is resident but One does not have a room.”

Philip interrupts, “We have a suite.”

Morticia replies, “Ah you have a suite, room number!”

The Queen and Philip look at each other in despair. Do suites have numbers? At this stage, a bodyguard speaks, “Ma’am, the suites have numbers just like the rooms.”

“Really? What is it?”

“Ma’am, the number is on the door and on your check-in info with your key card.”

“What is a key card?”

“Ma’am, it is the card which opens your door and then operates the lights.”

“Oh, that little thing. I left it in the little slot where someone placed it.”

“Room number!”

Robots behind are now forming a long queue and are sighing and looking at their watches and mobile phones.

One of the Queen’s entourage rushes back to her suite and looks at the number. He returns and shouts at Morticia, “432.”

Morticia taps the number into her precious iPad. She tried three times. Nothing was coming up on the screen. Morticia’s brain has frozen until a frazzled robot in the queue shouts, “There’s no such room or suite. There are only three floors. No room has the first digit 4.”

Morticia screams, “Room number!”

The bodyguard was flustered. “Was it 342?”

Morticia’s aching fingers try 342. “Miss Smith? You’re not Miss Smith. No room. Refusing to pay. No food. Next. Room number.”

The bodyguard tried again, “324?”

Morticia taps in 324 and spends ages digesting the information before saying, “Mr and Mrs Windsor?” without even looking up.

The Queen is still puzzled as she is thinking about people staying in a room and magic key cards. “One is Queen.”

Philip looks a little stunned. He had never heard anyone address them as Mr and Mrs Windsor.

“We are the Mountbatten-Windsors but my wife is Queen.”

“Ah, Mountbatten-Windsors, room number!”

“One is Queen.”

“Room number.” Morticia blasts forth.

Philip adds, “We own a castle at Windsor. Dammed awful fire in 1992.”


“1992, Annus horribilis.”

“Grandchildren married there in 2018. Good times.”

“Oh yes, One remembers.”

“Room number.”

“One is Queen.”

“No Queen. Mr and Mrs Windsor or Mountbatten-Windsor? Room number!”

Philip looks around, “Damn this stupidity. Lizzie let’s go and get fish and chips.”

They and their entourage leave.

The next robots move forward.

“Room number!”

                                                         ***********************

Have a great week, folks. All my love, Lady M xxxxxx

                                                       





Friday, 3 January 2020

New year. New decade. New beginnings.


Hello Everyone,


                                                        2020! Happy New Year!


Yes, 2019 has disappeared down the black hole never to return, leaving us with only memories. It is a new year, decade and beginning. The festive Christmas season is also over. For many of you it will have been, like mine, roaming down a memory lane of bitter sweet memories.

Many of you know that I lost my insignificant other, my rock, friend and soul mate to aggressive cancer in September leaving me as a 'widow' again. Some of you will be moving into 2020 with sadness as widows or orphans, or as I am, both. Yes, it's been a double whammy.

While this new beginning may be tinged with sadness at a loss I give you this thought...

                                                         The glass is still half full!



Usually at this time of the year I give you some kind of thought or message for the year ahead. Make it a year of firsts... enjoy every moment... positivity... happiness... once I gave you a blank page to fill throughout the year. 

This year I would like to suggest that you begin by making a kind of bucket or to do list. Think about all those things you've always intended doing but never got round to... travel, hobbies, learning languages, voluntary work...whatever. My character, Sofia Haslington, turned her life round by making such a list and a mantra to make her drab days seem better but she began by purchasing a lipstick. It gave her confidence and made everything seem brighter. It works for me and Sofia. If it doesn't work for you there's bound to be something that does. Find it! Each dawn is a new beginning. Make it a good one by smiling.

Some of Bobby's last words to me were that he was going upstairs and would be waiting for me. There hasn't been a day in the last four months when I haven't wanted to walk up those stairs and see his smiling face waiting for me. Alas, it is not possible. it is not my time and my work here is incomplete. So, let us go through this year together remembering...

                                                       The glass is still half full...

… of happiness, joy, adventures, excitement and good times to come. Enjoy. Look forward to the future. Embrace it.

I would like to leave you with a couple of quotations to keep you smiling and brighten the days.

From Desiderata,

          "Therefore be at peace with God
            whatever you conceive him to be.
           and whatever your labours and aspirations
           in this noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

          With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
          it is still a beautiful world.
          Be cheerful.
          Strive to be happy."

                    Max Ehrmann,  1927


From the musical Carousel, 

            "Walk on with hope in your heart and you'll never walk alone!"


                                                              ***************


Happy New Year, Lady M xxxxx


                                                   

               









Friday, 20 December 2019

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year




       

Hello Everyone,

Lady M still here. Have you all been lighting candles and still have many to light over the Christmas period? 

On behalf of Donald, Sofia and all my characters I wish you all,


    A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND 
                                      A HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS 2020




 "And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn."    (Luke Ch.2 vv3-7)




                            
                                

Friday, 13 December 2019

Light a Candle this Christmas



Hello Everyone,



In the midst of all this gloom comes brightness, a new light, which brings happiness, warmth, joy and comfort. It is the time when Christians celebrate the birth of Christ: a time of goodwill to all men, a time to forgive and forget, and a time to give and receive. There's turkey and tinsel, sherry and mince pies, carol singers singing Silent Night, trees adorned with fairy lights; holly and ivy, mistletoe, crackers, cards, decorations, and Bing Crosby singing White Christmas.

The Church prepares for Christmas throughout Advent. Each week a candle is lit as the excitement mounts for the coming of Christ. Christians remember how Mary and Joseph made the journey to Bethlehem for a census and, while there, Mary gave birth to Jesus.The candles burn brightly in churches around the world: the flames flicker heralding the arrival of 'the light of the world'. A burning candle radiates a warm glow; it is relaxing and romantic, it dispels fear and anguish, it is a symbol of hope.

On Christmas day there will be barbecues on beaches in sunny Australia and different traditions upheld around the world. Here in Britain there may well be a blanket of white snow with robin redbreasts chirping in gardens making nature look like the traditional Christmas card scene. In homes families will drink mulled wine and celebrate by a log fire or more probably a plasma television screen! Friends and relatives will call round with the season's greetings.

It always seems like everyone is celebrating and enjoying the festive season. It is easy to forget the poor, the homeless, starving, sick, suffering and war torn areas of the world. It is easy to forget that many arguments occur at Christmas time causing separations and that some families have lost loved ones and are in mourning and feeling sorrow, not happiness.

Light a candle for the loved ones no longer with you because they have made that final journey home.
Light a candle to celebrate the coming of Christ.
Light a candle for the homeless.
Light a candle for the sick.
Light a candle for the starving.
Light a candle for the soldiers away from their families fighting for our freedom.
Light a candle to welcome people.
Light a candle to bring a warm glow into your home.


                                                           ***********
                                                   


Love to you all,

Lady Mxxxxxx
xxxxxx

Friday, 6 December 2019

Lady M returns and is rambling!


                                               
 











Hello Everyone,

Yes, it's Lady M here back from her jollies in Cyprus. She has had 20 days of glorious sunshine and also lots of fun, boozing, snoozing and food. She has stepped on the scales on her return and declared them liars. She has warned them that if they cannot tell the truth their days are numbered and they will be in the skip. Truthful ones will replace them.

First, she would like to thank Sofia and Donald for delving into the archives and entertaining you through November. Right now, they are back in Australia and keeping an eye on the Haslington family.

This week Lady M's moods are mixed. She is dealing with the cold weather and looking out at a very drab and bleak scene. Stark, naked trees eagerly awaiting the buds of spring. Misery! She is also missing her insignificant other and thinking about the glorious sunshine she has left behind in Cyprus. Sunshine puts a smile on her face. Christmas is coming and so is 2020. It is time to reflect on the year that is almost over and try to look forward to the future whatever it may hold.

What kind of year have you had? Are you looking forward to Christmas or are you dreading it? She has bitter memories of childhood Christmases but now enjoys her turkey and television ones. She has one of those little Bernard Matthew's turkeys and cooks herself a proper Christmas dinner with trimmings and enjoys the 'soaps' and films on the television. Yes, she spends it in solitude but thinks of all those families who are arguing on that day. Christmas seems to be the time when most family arguments occur and members walk out leaving family behind them often not returning. So, if you are on your own think of that. You may well be better off on your own. If you are a part of a family be happy and enjoy what you have.

Our lives may or may not be determined for us but certain events are out of our control. How do we deal with death, disasters and misfortunes? Somehow, we must survive them and as Sofia Haslington would say, "Look forward with hope and back with gratitude." When the dark days arrive and the storms of life are upon us we must look back at the happier times to keep us going. Lady M never has regrets about anything. They take up energy and are a waste of time. What has happened has happened, get over it and move on. If you are experiencing dark days and it's winter where you are try smiling and think of log fires burning brightly, the summer warmth round the corner, the prospects of new beginnings and things that make you happy.

Until next week think of the good times!

Yours, Lady M xxx








Friday, 29 November 2019

Sofia's Choice 5...Just Smile



A relaxing place
Just chillaxing














                                                                     Howde Folks,

For our fifth choice we have selected a post from May of this year where Lady M clearly outlines the numerous problems in today's society but concludes with wonderful advice and that is the   message we want to give you... Just smile. Remember, folks, one day you'll be where we are. In a place of love and happiness but wondering why you wasted so much of that thing called 'time' being miserable while you were on the earth. Smile and be happy!

                                                ********************************


I recently declared myself the founder member of the TOPO club (Tired, old and pi**ed off). Then I added an ‘L’ (lazy) making it the TOPOL club. The next milestone in my life is 70. I am in the twilight years of my life or, as many refer to these years, the ‘waiting for God’ years. If I am honest I would not like to be a youngster in today’s world.
I look around me and listen to the news, usually in despair, although today there is some sunshine of happiness as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex show the world their new born son; seventh in line to the throne and the Queen’s eighth great-grandchild.
What do I normally see and hear? I recall the 1960’s when my generation wanted to change the world and make it a better place. Alas, it is far worse than it used to be. Where did it all go wrong? Brexit is a disaster, I never thought I would be embarrassed to be British, but that day has arrived. Knife crime is rife. It is no longer safe to walk on our streets. Homelessness is on the increase as rents and property prices soar. Youngsters, if they are lucky enough, stay at home because they cannot afford to move out. I left home at the age of 18 to go to college paid for by a grant from the Government which did not have to be repaid. Today’s youth frequently reject that option because they do not want a student debt around their neck for the rest of their life.
Industries, once the last bastions of society, are failing through rising costs and lacking sales. Who remembers Woolworths? That famous High Street store? It closed its doors over a decade ago and was followed by many others… BHS, MFI, Toys ‘R’ Us, Brantano, Poundworld, Habitat, Comet, HMV, Staples/Office Outlet, Debenhams In fact, an online check indicates that over 470 store names have failed in the last 12 years. The problem? They usually say it’s due to Internet marketplaces. Technology now rules our lives but does not protect our livelihood which leads to insecurity and daily fear of job losses for individuals. In turn, this leads to stress and high anxiety over how to pay the bills.
Recently, two jets have fallen out of the sky due to a malfunction with the software. Apparently, the captains were unable to override the computers on board the new jets. So, are computers now controlling us? Originally, man/woman or in this ‘PC’ age maybe I should say ‘human’ controlled the computers on board and were able to fly manually in the event of computer failure. On these two occasions that was not possible.
Have you ever been at the bank, garage, store, library or in fact anywhere when the computers are down? What happens? Nothing apart from chaos because everything ceases. We are brought to a halt by inanimate objects.
Am I the only person left who does not walk around with a phone attached to my ear? It seems that in this new technological age people are unable to do anything without a mobile/cell phone. Apparently, many are losing sleep because they are afraid of missing an important text. Yes, I know I’m using a computer now. I also am on social media sites and I have iPads, but could I live without them? Yes. On holiday, I frequently do. I only log on occasionally to flick through emails and give updates on FB for those of my readers who wish to share my holiday experience.
Last week I wrote about us being in a third world war. This week I am looking at another problem in our society. In the fifties there was excitement over the new jet age as people began flying around the world. Since, those days everything has speeded up and materialism has become an essential part of life. Everyone seems to want the latest expensive gadget yesterday regardless of whether they are in the financial position to afford it. Money is the commodity by which our society functions. For most, it is acquired by work.
Alas, when work is under threat and redundancies or closures are an every day fear; anxiety, panic and depression creep in. Survival is a problem; despair takes over. Mental health is now a serious issue although unheard of in my youth. Each dawn just brings another headache and something to be endured.
Is there a solution? I’ve no idea but a smile will ease the pain, make you feel better and more able to face the dreary day ahead. Think of each day as a holiday. Give yourself a mantra, “I’m happy”, “I’m lucky”, “I feel great… or whatever.
Wear a smile not a frown. Smiles are infectious. Take it on yourself to smile and make the world a better place.
Just smile! πŸ˜…πŸ˜†πŸ˜‡πŸ˜‰πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜πŸ˜Ž
I've added a few pretty pics to help you.
Lady M







Friday, 22 November 2019

Sofia's Choice 4... Riding the trams!

Trams arriving and leaving Grand Central

Lady M and me (Sofia)!













Howde Folks,

Last week, after two serious weeks of postings we promised you a more humorous one this week. We remember this one from two years ago. We always find her rushing down to the metro and riding the trams entertaining. The trams were in operation for twenty years before she ventured on them. It was only when a friend told her that it was free to concessionary pass holders that she downloaded the application form and quickly applied for a pass. She loves turning things to her advantage and if being ancient means she can travel for free she will enjoy it.

                                                              ********************



Hope you have enjoyed our first choices. We were so excited to be back that we forgot to tell you who we are. If you have not met Donald and I before, I am the Sofia of Lady M's Sofia Trilogy. She is very proud of us and you may read all about us in Look After Each Other, Sofia's Legacy and Love You Forever. Donald and I are soul mates and reunited after our untimely deaths. Well, actually I was married to his brother, Derek... big mistake! But you can find out all about us on the Net or from Lady M.

For our next selection we have chosen the day she chose to ride the tram the whole way from Birmingham to Wolverhampton. We know that riding the trams is her new hobby. Well, actually it amuses us! Other people follow football teams, take up photography or something but tram riding? She's just such a unique individual, our Lady M. Guess that's why we love her! Enjoy.

                                                               **********

Originally posted on 14/10/2016

On Wednesday last week I strolled down to the Metro Station and caught the tram into Birmingham Grand Central. I observed a strong Police presence which meant either a code red alert in which case I should have left quickly or the Prime Minister was in the city for the Conservative Conference. I decided it was the latter and went straight up to Costa for a panini and cappuccino. Most enjoyable. Then a quick look in the shops before wandering down to New Street and observing or tasting the atmosphere of the pedestrianised area of the city.

Tram arriving for Wolverhampton!
A bustling New Street
Next, back to the trams and wait for one to take me to Wolverhampton. I love it when I give the conductor my card and he/she places it on a reader registering my details and right as an OAP  in the UK to travel for free on buses and local trams/trains. It's even better when I see people paying cash for tickets and I realise just how much money old age is saving me. I was rather alarmed to note the number of peeps who seemed to have no idea where they were, what they were doing or what day it was, they just had heads down and fingers on their phones texting. I observed one person with a book but even he preferred his phone. Conversation? Sadly lacking. That apart, it was an enjoyable and surprisingly leafy journey through the urban environment until we were on the outskirts of Wolverhampton. Then, the tram changed from rail to road and it was buildings and traffic lights. The whole journey had 24 stops and lasted for 42 minutes and was a great experience.

In Wolverhampton I had a wander round the Mander and Wulfrun Centres before returning to West Bromwich. I can also understand why so many peeps with concessionary passes 'ride the buses/trams' rather than stay at home. It is a pleasant way of getting out of the house and watching the world go by!

Whatever your age, enjoy yourself, make the most of opportunities and be happy.





The end of the ride
Tram arriving at Wolverhampton






                                                                   ***********

Why not take a leaf out of Lady M's book and try tram riding or a new hobby this week. Enjoy yourselves and be happy.

Love to you all, Sofia and Donald xxx