Tuesday, 23 June 2009


Sometimes, one can be pleasantly rewarded for an unselfish act.

I do a little weekly shopping for my neighbour Mary (next-door-but-one). She is not well, and regularly neglects to take her tablets. This is not terribly good news, for when she has one of her "episodes," she will insist upon visitors leaving their shoes in the hallway. Her dog, Peppy, will generally proceed to vacate his bowels inside the footwear that resides there. It is a rather revolting version of russian roulette. When I visit Mary, I always take the precautionary measure of carrying on my person, a spare pair of soft slip-on shoes and a plastic bag with which to carry the steaming recepticles homeward bound, should I not be in possession of an "empty chamber" upon leaving Mary's house.

I am pleased to report that Mary was in high spirits today, and so there was no need to remove my footwear. We talked about our neighbours, (who have recently moved out). Mary had a long standing feud with them and I do believe she is in a somewhat triumphant mode today as I am quite certain that she drove them out with her erratic behaviour. Today she was in a giving mood, and made me take home a carrier bag full of junk that was no doubt intended for the local charity shop.

Nevertheless, I am not proud, and had a good rummage through the bag when I got home. I made certain to wear a pair of thick rubber gloves, one can not always be sure what Mary has deemed fit for recycling.  However, I was delighted to find an old knitting pattern, which in itself is not thrilling. It was what was on the outside that had me all of a giddy whirl, for on the cover was a photograph of my favourite actor, Roger Moore, looking very resplendant modelling the cosy, yet chic crochet tanktop advertised without. I can almost recall the frisson that would make my girlish heart flutter whenever I was fortunate to lay eyes upon his chiselled good looks and unruffled demeanour.

I read somewhere, that he was nicknamed, "The Big knit."
Oh Roger, they just don't make then like you any Moore. (Forgive me, I could not resist that little quip).

yours truly
Griselda Primrose

Friday, 1 May 2009

The Ladies of Penge

Elizabeth rang last night and I truly regret answering the telephone as I remained stuck to the earpiece for over two hours and still have a headache!. I was a trifle snippy with her. It is not as though she has anything of a revelatory nature to tell, just the usual moan-age about her ever worsening varicose veins. I tell her repeatedly that a good pair of support tights can work wonders, but does she listen?... NO, is the answer.

The main reason for her call was to read out an article from her local "newspaper," The New Penge Shopper. This particular story had got her all hot and bothered and Elizabeth took it upon herself to adopt an outraged-of-Penge tone. Although (as you know), I do try to encourage certain standards of behaviour, I did feel that she was making herself a tad over-wrought, if not hysterical. I have included a snippet of the article from the New Penge Shopper (see below).

Down The Hatch!!!
At around 8pm on the evening of Thursday 2nd April, the ladies of the Penge East Keep Fit Society, were accosted in the church hall of St Speedle-in-the-Mire. They were rehearsing their group dance number for the forthcoming London and South East Regional Keep Fit competition.
While attempting to perfect their human pyramid, the ladies were visually assaulted by a man of indeterminate age, exposing himself through a serving hatch in the wall.

"It was totally unexpected," recalled Valerie Williams(54), "thank heavens the vase was standing in front of him." Another member of the troupe, Gracie Mackeralidge(58), exclaimed, "if I hadn't been legs akimbo on top of Janice, I would have shut the doors on his you-know-what."

Good to see such high spirits remain amongst the team. You go girls, all the way to the finals!

Elizabeth has announced that she is thinking of selling her house and moving to Brackish Waters to live with her Aunt. I fear it would be a perilous mistake on her part should she do so. She truly believes that she will be the next victim of the flasher and has gone as far as nailing boards over her letter box for fear of receiving a "special delivery."

Is this what they call spring madness?

yours truly
Griselda Primrose

Friday, 17 April 2009

Easter Sojourn

Dear reader 

I have but recently returned from my annual Easter sojourn to the once glorious holiday destination of Brackish Spa. Now alas, a withered little town, given to Izal scented Old Peoples Homes and equally Izally purged theme pubs. The Brackish Waters were once rumoured to cure leprosy and other such maladies, but now it is not recommended to partake of the l'eau Brackish. The waters have only recently been discovered to be the primary cause of heartburn, diarrhoea and a nasty rash to the lower extremeties. 

Every year my old school friend Elizabeth and I pack our portmanteaus and revisit Brackish Spa's unenticing areas. We must endure the mandatory trek to see her Auntie Maureen, this incorporates several visits to Shifty Acres, a residential house for the infirm and elderly. Shifty Acres is home to Elizabeth's Octaganerian mother, Gladys. Gladys was, and still is, a formidable female and it has always been a wonder to me that she had any offspring at all. She was a former Prison Officer and reform school gym teacher. When Gladys was around, I have to say that neither Elizabeth or I were ever at the mercy of bullies, yobs and other unwanted male attention during our girlish years. 

I accompany Elizabeth on this, frankly arduous, week away, primarily to keep her spirits up, for I will suffer for it if I don't.  Poor dear Elizabeth is a tad bitter about her lot in life and feels that the phrase "life's rich tapestry" is a mockery. Her backdrop is sagging and her threads are bare. It is tragic that the-powers-that-be were not in a generous mood towards Elizabeth when they were handing out life's gifts.

But how good it is to be in my house once more. I feel in need of a holiday, but the soothing balm of normality and the comforts of home are not to be underrated. Ahhh, the joys of running hot water and not having to bathe in a hip bath.

yours truly

Griselda Primrose

Monday, 30 March 2009

The Quality of Mercy is Not Restrained

"The performance of Hamlet by the Streatham Amateur Dramatic, Dance and Opera Society, is nothing if not splendid. And it is not splendid."

This quote is taken from a book by Bill Bryson called, ' Notes From a Small Island.'
I have added my own interpretation, for I am certain that Mr Bryson has not yet had the pleasure of seeing the Streatham Amateur Dramatic, Dance and Opera Society in full flow. I do believe that I have almost regained my composure, now that the premiere of Hamlet has been consigned, like garlic, to the file of "not to be repeated."
And so, like a trembling, frightened child who is nervous of the dark, and who is made to climb unlit stairs, unaccompanied, to the haunted attic room above, I too will overcome the stuff of nightmares and revisit the Prince of Denmark's lusty chambers.

The premiere of Hamlet was a surprisingly well attended event. There was quite an array of press-ganged friends and relatives. Ivan was there, to lend support, along with my sister-in-law Rosemary. I observed that the bar was doing a roaring trade and people were imbibing rather too freely. It is my opinion that this kind of behaviour can too often lead to acts of rebellion, regret and ultimate loss of dignity.

The performance began, and I am most gratified to report that my scenery was much admired. Hamlet lisped his way through acres of speech, gamely ignoring commas and such-like, so that his was a seemingly endless, toneless and incoherent ramble. Mottleglot towered over little Hamlet in her guise of Queen Gertrude. She paced the stage like an angry, caged gorilla and as good as flattened Hamlet against a wall. Not only that, but she also caused my scenery to wobble, which distressed me greatly. It was then that I heard the beginings of suppressed laughter in the audience, and you know what can happen with bush fires.

The first appearance of "the ghost of Hamlet's father," was widely anticipated, and in a strange way, did not disappoint. Barry, our director, had insisted we play dramatic music to precede the entrance of the dummy/ghost. This was to be followed by a quiet moment, while the dummy/ghost made its grand entrance. However, as the tension began to mount, silence and anticipation were met by a sullen creak and then an irritating squeak. The pulley mechanism sounded like it was in need of a good oiling, and that a screw had come loose and a piece of machinery was about to fall off ... now I come to think of it, that is quite a good analogy for this production. Stanley, our stagehand, yanked the rope through the pulley and the ghostly vision was propelled jerkily towards centre stage in a most unspiritual way, where it was left to hang, swaying beside a wide eyed Hamlet.

There was, what we call in show business, a pregnant pause. I do believe that the audience was in shock, or at the very least they were unsure how to process the scene that lay before them. A man in the audience broke the embarrassing silence by calling out, in a Punch and Judy-esque voice, "that's the way to do it! "  The laughter which followed was uncontrollable and the flames were fanned, when someone else added, "oh no it's not!" to further gales of laughter.
"Oh yes it is!," said another, then "oh no it isn't!," by all and sundry ad infinitum. It was anarchy I tell you, fuelled by too many visits to the bar. It was several minutes before Barry was able to calm the audience down and restore them to their previous state of torpor. Further calamity then ensued as the pulley jammed, and so "the ghost of Hamlet's father" was left to dangle, centre stage, for the entire duration of the play. While I was standing in the wings watching this debacle, I caught Barry's eye. I tried very hard not to look at him as if to say, "I told you so." As I have pointed out before, I do not like to gloat over the misfortunes of others, it is not an attractive quality.

Things went from bad to worse. There were scenes I simply cannot bring myself to recall. All I will say is there is one scene in particular that is played for laughs and involves two gravediggers, one played by Sylvia Dorking-Pastures and the other by Mottleglot. It is not an understatement to say that the intended humour went down like a lead balloon. Dear, misguided Sylvia could no more resist over-acting, than a dog can resist chasing people on bicycles. Mottleglot is not one to be toyed with, and Sylvia paid a heavy price for drawing attention to herself.  Sylvia sighed gustily (while leaning on her spade), wiped her forehead ( with a grand arcing gesture) and tried various other unneccesary, yet diversional tactics. Mottleglot was seething and "accidently" backed into Sylvia, sending the poor thing flying into the open grave below. As I have already pointed out, I am not one to gloat, but Mottleglot then neglected to recall the earlier mishap of the evening, turned too sharply, and walked headlong into the all too corporeal crotch of "the ghost of Hamlet's father."

The audience were almost beside themselves laughing at this point, when Mottleglot pinned each person in the front row with a laser-like, icy glare. This effectively stemmed the tide of hysteria that threatened to overwhelm the audience. No-one dared to laugh while Mottleglot was onstage (that one could wither the stoutest spirit at 50 paces). I fear that the Streatham Amateur Dramatic, Dance and Opera Society and their audience, were not singing from the same hymn sheet that night. Nonetheless, we pressed on regardless, professional to the last, and when, finally, the curtain fell, the relief was palpable.

We all gathered in the bar afterwards and Barry's aged mother, without hint of irony, declared to anyone that would care to listen, that ours was the definative production of Hamlet. The cast who had gathered around her did not bat an eyelid. Delusion can be a wonderful thing. 

Talk has now turned to the next production. Someone has quite seriously put forward Battleship Potemkin. I wisely refrained from suggesting that Mottleglot would be a natural to play the part of the Battleship.

It is decided, next we are to assault Lady Windermere's Fan.

Yours wiltingly 

Griselda Primrose

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

It Is Not To Be

We had the dress rehearsal of Hamlet last night and what a woeful exhibition it was.

We have an epicene Hamlet, who is easily half the size of his vast and monumental mother, played by Hilary Mottleglot. I do not like to gloat, and I hesitate to use the word fat to describe her, but Mottleglot has patently decided to ignore my well meaning suggestion of 4 weeks ago, which was that she lay of the pastries for a while. 

Then we have Sylvia Dorking-Pastures, an actress incapable of a subtle performance. Her intent is to bring attention to herself, generally in crowd scenes, by over-emoting and drawing the eye from the main players. She is allowed to get away with this because she is one of the few members of the cast with any claim to an acting career. For the price of a double Vodka and orange, she will regale you with well worn tales of the many years she spent, treading the boards in Rep and Revue. Curiously, I have not found evidence to back her various claims, but we indulge her nonetheless. 

Then we come to the much maligned ghost-of-Hamlet's-father. We are to attach the "ghost" to wires and use a very temperamental mechanism to hoist the dummy/ghost into the air and then move it on pulleys towards the middle of the stage.  As for the dummy/ghost, I have tried in vain to give the wretched thing an ethereal bent, but it has proved nigh on impossible. It is unfortunate, or is it deliberate?, but the "spectral apparition" bears a strong resemblance to the talented actor, Roger Moore. The limbs of the dummy are immovable and so we have a suave and sophisticated, ghost-of -Hamlet's -father, who is marked with one quizzical raised brow and a vaguely affected gait. Even with the copious application of whitener and powder, it would still look more at home in a shop window advertising non-iron trousers, than imparting words of prophecy in a damp Danish graveyard. You may not be altogether surprised to hear that my muse has long since departed for other climes and by the time that the Saturday evening premiere of Hamlet begins, I will heartily wish that I were gone with it.

I remain convinced that this is an attempt by Hilary Mottleglot, to make me look foolish. Not content with buying her way into the Streatham Amateur Dramatic, Dance and Opera Society, (she has money and we are not allowed to forget it), but she must divert attention away from the fact that she has no ACTUAL talent for the stage, by sabotaging my artistic endeavours.

Saturday looms, and the dark clouds of despair are gathering.

yours in trepidation

Griselda Primrose

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

I often feel a little limp on a Wednesday. 
My Tuesday evenings are taken up with The Streatham Amateur Dramatic, Dance & Opera Society, and believe me, those people never fail to drain me. My friend Ivan is always telling me they do not deserve to benefit from my artistic input and that I should resign and let them get on with it.

The majority of the performers are not a day under 40 and the ones that are, should really get out more. It has been observed, rather unkindly, that certain productions resemble a communal sitting room in an old peoples' home. On a brighter note, we have had a mini renaissance of late and have recruited a number of younger folk, much to the chagrin of Sylvia Dorking-Pastures (more about her later).

In general we tend to put on the lighter plays, musicales and light operettas. However, for reasons unknown to me, Barry, our theatrical director, has decided that we will be performing Shakespeare's Hamlet. Inevitably, his much, much younger Brazilian flat-mate Ramon has been given the lead role sans audition. Ramon is the leading light and star of the Company, or so he tells us anyway. 
I really do not believe that this group of actors (and I use that term loosely) possess sufficient gravitas to pull off Hamlet. They tell me I am wrong, we shall see.

We spent the majority of yesterday evening arguing over the best way to recreate the Ghost of Hamlet's Father. That dreadful woman, Hilary Mottleglot (more about her later), had the temerity to suggest we use a shop dummy (supplied by Hilary Mottleglot) and wig (also supplied by Hilary Mottleglot) and suspend it on wires (no doubt, also supplied by La Mottleglot).  I, being in the scenery and props department, objected on the grounds that it would look ridiculous. I was overruled, much to my disbelief, and wonder if they have gone quite mad. Needless to say, we run with the dummy.

The wise old words "too many cooks spoil the broth" comes to mind here, and if I am to stretch this analogy, then the broth has become stone cold and lumpen. I once more voiced my disapproval for the dummy plan and the Mottleglot creature had the nerve to quote from Hamlet in a simpering voice, "Oh Griselda dear, The lady doth protest to much methinks." 
I am pleased to say I managed to rise above this remark and I pointedly ignored the suppressed titters that overcame the assembled group. I am not a person prone to physical violence, but if the wires to suspend the wretched dummy had been available, it would not be an understatement to say, she would have been strung up on them.

This production will descend into farce, you mark my words!.

Monday, 16 March 2009

I Know Where I Went Wrong Dear...

I rummaged through my attic yesterday and found, to my delight, a box full of knick knacks which contained within, the very mittens that had been at the root of  my distressful "episode" last Friday 13th. The controversial garments were accompanied by this letter.

My Dear Griselda
Please find these mittens enclosed, and before you say anything, I know where I went wrong dear.
Sending them forthwith, as you may find them of use.

your Grandmother

I am at pains to know why she sent them as she had neglected to incorporate any finger/thumb element. What she supposed I would use them for is quite beyond me.
Flipper warmers for seals? 
All suggestions welcome.

yours truly
Griselda Primrose

Friday, 13 March 2009

A warning... gloves!

Dear Reader, 

"Never, I repeat, never, give gloves as a gift, or you will quarrel and fall out."
Old wives tale, courtesy of my Grandmother (Dearly Departed)

Footnote(6 hours later):-
I have just had a shocking revelation. I now recall that Grandmother (not so dearly departed at present) once sent me a pair of mittens. Not only that, but they were mittens knitted by her very own treacherous hand!!! 

Griselda Primrose  

Tuesday, 10 March 2009


I settled down with a nice cup of tea to watch This Morning this morning...ad infinitum.

I barely had a moment to digest my digestive, when the lovely Philip and Fern introduced Ms Ulrika Jonsson and they began talking about LAI ( light adult incontinence).

I recalled that my sister-in law Rosemary was a martyr to the problem. It was rather cruel as she was at that time, an aerobics instructor and there were days when she could barely execute a star jump without recourse to the bathroom. I am glad to report that she is much improved and now teaches aqua aerobics at the local pool.

yours truly
Griselda Primrose


Friday, 6 March 2009

Dearly Departed

Had a call from my dear friend Ivan. He had very kindly sent a lovely card, with his condolences, to my mother on the passing of Grandmother (dearly departed), and I thanked him most profusely. He asked about Grandmother's funeral, which had taken place last week.
I told Ivan that a long lost second cousin only recognised me because, as he put it, I was the only person there under sixty. Ivan remarked that it was a rather desperate situation that we would soon be reduced to hanging around in funeral parlours in order to look younger. 

At the funeral parlour, I met my grandmother's sisters for the first time. The sisters had not been on speaking terms due to an undisclosed incident 34 years ago. How they had managed to ignore each other on the bus to town every week is beyond me. When my grandmother (DearlyDeparted) had fallen ill, they decided to heal the rift and so it was quite something to see them all in a room together for the first time in decades.

The Great Aunts made such a picture, five of them sitting in a row. There was an awkward silence to begin with. I suppose all those years of being incommunicado does leave a lack of familiarity to draw upon. Still, my mother's cousin Susan thought it timely to launch into a monologue about her long standing bowel problems, which caused some amusement amongst those present. Not a detail was spared us, and we so recently aquainted.  Mercifully, the Great Aunts were all hard of hearing, so I think it passed them by.  I, on the other hand, was not so fortunate and am trying suppress the memory. 

The funeral went fairly well. I think Grandmother would have been pleased. It was a good turnout of Aunts and Cousins, although my mother's friend did catch Cousin Malcolm prodding each Great Aunt in turn, declaring he was checking to see if rigamortis had set in. Other than that, we all departed on good terms, fortified with sweet sherry and saying how we should all have a proper family get together, instead of meeting under these sad circumstances. I suppose that means I will see them all at the next funeral.