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Left-looking half-length portrait of a possibly pregnant woman in a white dress

(Mary Wollstonecraft: Wikipaedia.)

Carrie wandered into Costamuchamoulah must-seen cafe just as I

was ordering.

What’s that you are having?  she asked.

Struan nouveau, I replied.  Do you want to share?

It rings a bell.  What’s in it?

Cranberries, bilberries and caraway seeds.  It’s traditional-from

Scotland, you know.

Oh, it’s that thing the eldest daughter used to have to bake in the


I’ll have a piece myself. Hi! I’ll have what she’s having.

(The latter was addressed to the baristress, who tried not to


What about fallaid? Do they serve that?  Carrie followed the counter with

her eyes.

No.  That was the meal leftovers which were put into a footless stocking

and flicked over the flocks to ward off the murrain.

Murrain.. Such a pretty name.

No, Carrie.  Don’t get broody now that you have got them all off to school.

Anyway, murrain was a kind of plague.  It was an animal disease.  In fact,

etymologically, it meant death, literally.

Like terminal moraine?  We did that in geography many moons ago.

Yes, well, fallaid also helped to protect you from the evil eye.

It would come in handy when you have to run the gauntlet of collecting your

kids from the school yard, Carrie remarked.  Actually it sounds like some kind

of subjunctive of the French verb falloir.  You remember: il faut etcetera?

Actually, I can’t think very clearly at all just now, I sighed.

What’s wrong?

Well, I am not sleeping.  Once I waken at about four, that’s it.

Do you get up?

I used to listen to The World Service and half doze off, but now they have this

really annoying clattery jingle thing before the news items.  It is so

raucous and repetitive.  It gets into your brain like a hammer drill.  I don’t

get back to sleep sometimes until Farming Today.

They should realise that nocturnal listeners are just wanting to have a gentle

white noise to lull them back into the Land of Nod, agreed Carrie.  Do you get

off to sleep all right when you retire?

Oh, The Shipping Forecast is brilliant for that.  I don’t like Sailing By and

 The National Anthem is a bit military, but you kind of respect that and it gives

you a Pavlovian emotional closure, I dare say.

You should write in and complain about the awful racket.

Well, I like Thought for the Day and Prayer for the Day and somehow, when

you wake up to John Humphrys, you feel soothed, even as you fall off a fiscal

cliff along with all the other lemmings.

I bet his wife doesn’t feel like that, retorted Carrie.

What? Like a lemming? She doesn’t have to see him first thing in the

morning, so it probably saves their marriage.  He looks like the antithesis of

Rip Van Winkle- ie/ as if he hasn’t slept for seventy odd years.

Thought for the Day represents people from all the different religions,

doesn’t it? Carrie said.

Oh yes.  (I am beginning to sound like that Churchill dog)  They had Lionel

Blue, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs too, I confirmed.

Hmm, I used to like Sikhs until that Monty Python guy, the cricketer,

urinated inappropriately.  I think he was a bad role model, though I think

those turbans would be brilliant for a Bad Hair Day.

Monty Panesar.jpg

Panesar. Don’t overgeneralise, I cautioned her.  We have had Black Swan

conversations before.  Anyway, I agree that the turbans might have their


Yes, agreed Carrie.  They’re very now.  Celebrities put them on their babies.

I bet Harper Beckham has quite a few to choose from.

I don’t think they’d suit me, I reflected.  Too Alexander Pope-cum-Mary


But you remind me of her, Carrie said.  Actually, turbans were very

Barbara Cartland too.

Dame Barbara Cartland Allan Warren.jpg

Well, I am not about to attend an Assembly Room any time soon,

complete with nodding aigret feather, swaying to the beat of a

chamber orchestra.

You, or the feather?

Oh, shut up!

So, what have you got against turbans?  I thought you could wear one and

cultivate that dreamy, faraway look, sitting poised with a quill in your hand,

composing a proto-feminist treatise at your davenport.

Well, it’s not my headgear of choice, ever since I came across an old dear in a

Leeds sauna, saving on her central heating and sweating it out, stark naked

except for her turban.  She actually accused me of sitting on her heart pills.

It was probably a shower cap, anyway.

And were you?  You know, sitting on them? Carrie enquired, a tad

aggressively, I thought.

No!  I’d have felt them under my folded towel, surely?

Depends.  If you were a princess, or not.  Also if you were less pneumatic

than you are now.

How very dare you! I swatted her with a Suttonford Weekly.

Anyway, Carrie laughed, surely the World Service is preferable to your

husband’s snoring.

Just give me the dawn chorus, I agreed.

But not too many aigrets, Carrie quipped.

Precisely.  I haven’t heard Rabbi Lionel Blair for a while, come to think of it.

Blue, corrected Carrie.

I can’t think straight.  It’s my insomnia, I yawned.

Lionel blair 2010.jpg