Friday At Last

Does anyone else think it’s been an unusually long week? I am so very glad a weekend is coming and I am intending to do nothing in a very focused way. The week has been a tad stressful for me as, despite only being 41, I have been somewhat hormonally challenged of late, and fear that the old system is gradually grinding to a halt. The only reason I tell you this is that the college nurse suggested a rather surprising palliative, which I have just begun to try out. The nurse is the least voodoo-minded person I know, so you could have knocked me down with a feather when, during a conversation when ostensibly we were supposed to be talking about other things entirely, she suggested I try these magnets. ‘I’ve heard such good reports about them,’ she told me, ‘and other than the danger of sticking to filing cabinets, there don’t seem to be any side effects.’ Really, I do wish you could all meet my college nurse; she is such a delight. No one, but no one masters dry irony the way she does. Last year, when she was just back from a gall bladder operation, I asked her how it had gone. ‘Marvellous!’ she cried. ‘I loved it. Right up there on my top ten list of surgical interventions.’ But you have to hear the ongoing march of irony underneath her tones to really appreciate her for the gallows-humoured stand-up comic that she is, on the quiet.

So I tripped off to the chemist and duly kitted myself out with the mysterious magnets. The main one is fashioned like a rather enormous flat-fronted pear drop. Alas, the people in design clearly became over-excited at a vital point in the process, as it is also purple and sparkly. Now, really, what were they thinking? On no one’s terms could this be a fashion accessory. Anyway, the big magnet you place against your skin, below the belly button and then there is another small circular magnet that holds it in place through one’s knickers. It made me think of a sort of rewriting of The Matrix for the menopausal. Before I had even got the thing home, I was alerted to its formidable powers, as I became attached wholly unexpectedly to the metal bar alongside the checkout conveyor belt in Marks and Spencer. I spent a whole 30 seconds wondering why I simply wasn’t making the progress I intended in the queue. The magnet wasn’t fixed to me at that point, I hasten to add, just in the plastic bag I was carrying, but it gave me quite a shock. When I stepped forward to start loading up my shopping, it swung forward with a muffled thh-doing! and attached itself once again. I was having the hardest time stuffing my groceries away and keeping it clear of the rail and trying not to succumb to hysterical giggles. I admit after that it took a couple of days for me to screw up the courage to try it out, because who knew what trouble it was capable of getting me into? On the plus side, I thought about sitting down on all the stuffed chairs and regaining the loose change that falls out of my husband’s pockets. In the end, the biggest difficulty is keeping the silly thing in place. I think you are supposed to commit to granny pants, or some kind of large, tight, inflexible undergarment, and I am not quite ready to go there yet. But I can walk backwards and forwards in front of the fridge in perfect safety.

As I say, I’ve only had it a little while, not long enough at least for any miracles, so today I am curled up at home feeling distinctly blah and hard to satisfy on the reading front. I am unfairly disappointed in Winifred Holtby’s South Riding, which I was looking forward to as if it had been a kind of toffee meringue. In fact, it has turned out to be spam and onions. The South Riding in question is a miserable place in the aftermath of the First World War. The people are mostly poor with lives full of worries, and the few characters with vim and enthusiasm are doomed, I fear. There’s a big estate run by Robin Carne, whose aristocratic wife languishes in an expensive nursing home for the insane. His daughter, Midge, is over-sensitive, over-emotional and a loner. Do I think the ending will restore the desperately-missed wife and mother from the loony bin? Nope. Do I think the gloomy Carne will find happiness and love with the feisty new headmistress of the girl’s school? Nope. There’s another young girl we’ve been introduced to, from the poor side of the tracks, thrilled to bits to be able to go to the high school and learn, now that her mother has finally stopped having babies. I don’t think much to her chances of happiness and fulfillment, either. It’s just that kind of book, you know? But I am unfair, in that it is clearly brilliantly written; the words almost corrode the page with their acidic sharpness. It’s just that I long for comfort and kindheartedness and a world of the imagination where mishaps may occur but it all comes out right in the end. I’ll tackle grim and doomed next week.

I’ve also been reading Scott Fitzgerald’s stories, or to be precise, I read ‘A Diamond As Big As The Ritz’ yesterday and was so surprised by it, I haven’t got my head around it yet. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting, either. It begins conventionally enough, with young, middle-class John Unger heading off to a posh boarding school where he meets and befriends the aloof Percy Washington. When the summer vacation rolls around, John accompanies his friend back home, an extraordinary journey that includes their car being winched over the crest of the Rocky Mountains. For the Washington family live in magnificent secluded splendour beyond the reach of orthodox maps, and equally beyond the reach of orthodox rules and regulations. I won’t say more because I don’t want to give all the secrets of the story away, suffice it to say, I had no idea that Fitzgerald wrote tales with a fantastic edge. It was Jazz Age sci-fi, in a way that really surprised me. Glorious prose, though, and a rich – in every sense of the word – imagination fuels the story. I’ll be reading more of those but right now I want a novel, something to lose myself in and I haven’t decided what it will be. Just something to keep me absorbed and entertained over the weekend. I realize I am hugely behind answering comments and I do apologise – I treasure your comments. Only in the busy times something has to go, and I decided to keep reading and commenting on your posts regularly and will catch up with my own comments over the next couple of days. Grey, rainy days they are predicted to be here, so once my picky reading appetite is satisfied, I certainly intend to hunker down at home for them.

20 thoughts on “Friday At Last

  1. Pingback: Friday At Last « Tales from the Reading Room | HappyTipsDaily

  2. Well despite you feeling yuk, this is a great fun post. My wife loved it too. She says the menopause does her brain in, so perhaps she needs magnets round her head! As to the sparkly, dazzly teardrop thing, surely it would go with your Litlove, Superwoman outfit, even in that leopardskin version! On a more serious note my wife tells me her herbalist sister says it is something to do with magnets drawing more of the blood cells with their iron to particular areas of the body, but I have no idea. Have a really lovely, restful weekend and I hope you find that perfect book.

  3. It has been a long week indeed, but I have to say your magnet story has given me quite a chuckle! What exactly are they meant to do–other than cling to shopping carts? Sorry, have to be curious about them. Too bad South Riding isn’t quite what you were expecting–maybe that’s why I’ve sort of put it off and will now keep that in mind when looking for the right moment to read it. I tried Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise a few years back and was quite surprised too by his style–very modern really. I didn’t finish it but I do plan on going back eventually. I like the stories I’ve read–Bernice Bobs Her Hair is great. I hope you find something something nice and comforting to read for the weekend!

  4. YES, this week has lasted forever and been completely insane. It’s a three-day weekend for some of us in the States (Presidents’ Day), and it couldn’t be more welcome as far as I’m concerned. Love your formulation of planning to do nothing in a very focused way: my plans exactly.

    This was a hilarious and charming post. I hope your magnets work their magic, and don’t send kitchen utensils flying at you across the room. 🙂

  5. Funny, funny, funny! Loved the magnet episode!! I laughed my britches off. Let me know if they work, although I had no symptoms at all when “mental pause” found me. My doctor told me to ask my mother how it was for her, since daughters usually have the same symptoms as the mothers. And, sure enough, same for her. I loved The Diamond As Big As The Ritz, which I read many decades ago. I wanted to have a house just like it one day. And, yes…long dreary week. But tonight is the kickoff for the Book Festival and, who knows, Mr. Right might be hanging out over by the punch bowl.

  6. Longest. Week. Ever.
    Culminating with a new geriatric consultant doctor who described me as “irrelevant” to my Dad’s care. Um…
    So thank you for a wonderfully deep belly laugh! Oh, how I cherish the idea of your detachable sparkly purple magnetism; but please, please don’t use the computer when wearing Magneto’s lovechild. The thought of your hard drive and the Litlove archives disappearing into the ether makes me shudder with horror.
    PS Got to get hold of that Fitzgerald. If it’s good enough for you and Grad…

  7. You describe the magnet indignity/trepidation with elegance and hilarity.

    Re South Riding – I haven’t got anywhere near it yet but I don’t like toffee meringue or spam, so maybe I shouldn’t try?

    And yes, this week has been insane. It’s Friday night and it hasn’t stopped for me yet!

  8. My _pause has nearly reached its full stop and I have to tell you I am really glad. It was not a kind experience for me. I do pity my daughter many years hence. As for the magnets…I now picture you as the head goose with a gaggle of following paperclips winding their way along the highstreet after you.

  9. I was glad today was Friday too!

    I don’t even know what to say about the magnet. It is amusing though-especially the sparkles.

  10. I would also like to know what those magnets are supposed to do. I believe that especially when it comes to all sorts of hormonal imbalances it is good advice to seek for alternative approaches. My week was quite short as I am often working from home these days which is so nice. Just to be at home infuses any type of work with a spark of creativity (I had a teleconference with people from all over the planet while the cat was softly purring on my lap and I had my feet on the table giving all sorts of very stern sounding advice. This absolutely appealed to my rather subversive nature.). I believe this new approach to working could be part of style diversity which has been sadly neglected in the past.
    I am reading How Many Miles to Babylon? and it is fabulous. Had to give up on Matthias Politycki’s Jenseitsnovelle for a while. The translation has just been published by Pereine Press under the title Next World Novella. Not a good translation. The book is a bit “dröge” a word that you would have to translate with boring or dry but means so much more.

  11. oh YES, this week was interminable, whacky, at times insupportable (listening to the whines and ways of the team I manage at work) and things just kept falling off the table, so to speak. I would often look up at the clock and I am many things but I am NOT a clockwatcher. Go figure.

    I am so so happy to be at home this weekend, and I am ever grateful for the friends I see every Friday morning before work and the writer friend I see every Friday noon at a bookstore. Without those little rituals, I might have just called in on Friday.
    Anyway, here we are and it’s all good, with some great music playing (I am currently hung up on the soundtrack to the film PIRATE RADIO) and HM is tapping away on some work and I’m about to escape upstairs to clean up my office (which means playtime of sort.)

    I love your expression- “It’s all spam and onions” – it is so good and funny and well, I’m going to borrow it, I assure you.

    Good luck with the magnet thing – it will likely help.
    For my part, I have found that music works wonders such as falling asleep to it at night (when the great “meno” tries to keep me awake, my mind in an awful constant loop). Hope you’re not suffering from that, tho.
    And music helps me throughout the day, too, perhaps because it leads me away from self-examination or awareness of how I feel in terms of sudden burts of being warm. Thing is with the music, though, you have to listen via little earbuds or be blasting it in your car. And because I’m usually in meetings or corralling projects and employee input, I don’t have enough occasion to listen to it. Anyway, you’ll probably find that music helps.
    Along with a lot of laughter! (and you gave me many chuckles in this piece – thank you!)

    Please keep us current on how it goes with your newly “magnetic” self! I’ll bet it helps!
    good luck on finding just the “right” book – and I’d love to know what fits the bill on that as I, too, am adrift and so reading LOVING FRANK…but …it’s not…quite…right..


  12. Poor Litlove! I hope you managed the quiet weekend you hoped for. I sympathise with the hormonal issues. I’m 42 and my body is definitely starting to go through some changes and I’m not enjoying it physically so far. It’s emotionally an adjustment too- it feels like I only just got used to one stage of life i.e as a child bearer or potential child bearer and now, ready or not, I’m moving onto this next phase.

  13. It’s slightly off-topic but linked to my comment and I didn’t want to leave it like that. The Next World Novella proved to quite remarkable in the end. As a matter of fact it is not so much the book that is boring as the main character and that makes perfect sense in the end.

  14. Dear All – for all of you interested to know what the magnet does, here is the site: It’s not exactly packed with scientific information, but it has testimonials!

    Bookboxed – thank you – and thanks to your wife, too! I hope she wears hers flapper style, on a headband around her forehead! I love the idea of combining mine with the superwoman costume – surely that would boost its power no end? I’m glad it gave you a laugh – I wrote it to cheer myself up!

    Danielle – I really must pick up the Holtby again – it was a good book, and very well written, but you know how it is when something doesn’t chime with your mood. I’m going to fetch my Fitzgerald once I’ve done my comments and read exactly that story, however, so am looking forward to it! I did manage to find a good book to read, although I have still felt yuk all weekend. Which feels like a dreadful waste. 😦

    Emily – enjoy your three day weekend! How lovely to have one. And very glad you liked the post. I was really worried about cutlery, when I sit down at table, for instance. But so far I don’t seem to have picked up any stray metal items!

    Cornflower – you are very welcome!

    Grad – do hope Mr Right has hoved into view! Alas, my poor mother had a full hysterectomy aged 44 after a painful struggle with endometriosis, which fate is also headed my way, it seems. I’m glad you got through it just fine, but at the same time, sometimes life seems very unfair! I do hope my magnets improve the situation a bit.

    Fugitive – I hadn’t thought of the archives at all!! Hmm, I am using my laptop but there seems to be no ill effects – we shall see. I will definitely approach all electronics with caution and keep my memory key in a safe place, far away from my navel. So glad to give you a laugh, and not at all surprised if you needed one after being called irrelevant. What is it with consultants? My friend with MS stopped seeing hers after he insisted at every visit that she would be dead by 52. What possesses them to say such things?

    Yvann – I do hope things have calmed down for you now! I don’t wish to be unfair to South Riding, which looks like a very good book. It just wasn’t chiming with my mood – and you know how that goes! I’m glad you liked the magnet story though. At first I feared it would be in too poor taste, but then I relied on the sense of humour of my blogging friends, and am very glad to have done so!

    Lilian – I wish I knew that this would all end soon – I’d put up with it better if that were the case! Very glad to make you laugh.

    Mary – I completely believe that if men had to go through this, we would have found a cure years and years and years ago! I’m glad if you can see light at the end of the tunnel. And thank you for the image of the gaggle of paperclips – I did laugh at that one!

    Bluestocking – no the magnet defies all sensible conversation, that’s for sure. Do hope you had a lovely weekend and enjoyed yourself!

    Melissa – oh I am sorry you were not sleeping – I hate that, too! Hopefully you got to bed and did sleep soundly after a while. Delighted to have entertained you in the small hours. I’ve often been grateful for blogs and the comfort they bring when things aren’t quite right.

    Caroline – yes I’m all for alternative cures, too. As I am in no state of mind to grow a beard right now, or put on three stone. I completely agree about working from home and think it is a lovely thing to do. Better for the planet, as well, not to have everyone commuting about in gas-guzzling vehicles. Thank you for the recommendations, and glad the Politycki came good in the end. It’s funny when books do that – I remember reading Lolita and going through several phases with it before ending up blown away.

    oh – I do hope you’ve been having a wonderful weekend, full of good things and good books. I did find something very engrossing to read and was hugely grateful to it. I think you are really onto something with music. I do listen to my MP3 player if I can’t sleep at night, and that helps a lot. I never think of listening to music much during the day, as I can’t write alongside it (not even classical, alas), but I think that it would be a good idea to put music on around working times. You’re quite right that it has a very calming effect. When I was a little girl, and ill, my brother would sometimes come and put his headphones on me and play me music and it was always hugely soothing. So, good call!

    Amanda – oh bless you. I do appreciate the solidarity. I have had a very average sort of weekend, as stupid hormones have me on an emotional rollercoaster, which has messed up the calm and peace I was rather hoping for. Sigh. I am not very good at accepting the bad bits, you know? I’m sure things would go better if I could.

  15. I too had no idea Fitzgerald had written stories with an otherworldly sensibility. On the other hand, South Riding sounds quite like the sort of thing I would actually enjoy for relaxation … hopping over to Amazon to take a look.

    The magnet thing is hilarious, particularly the thh-doing! part.

  16. The magnet story was very funny and I’m glad that it was just the magnets and not you as well that attached themselves to the conveyor belt! But I’m sorry that it’s been a yucky week for you. Here’s hoping that you found just the right novel and that the magnets do their thing.

  17. I hope you had a nice weekend and are feeling much better now! Your magnet story is SO funny. It’s too bad that the Holtby wasn’t quite the thing you needed. I hope you found the perfect novel to replace it. Holtby as spam and onions – your image is great!

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