Garbled snippets

A 8When  my daughter was around ten or eleven I used to wait outside school for her (street cred goes right out of the window if your mum comes onto the school playground once you’re out of first school). She’d come out bursting with things to tell and would launch into a seamless discourse which could cover anything about her day. But most important of all was the need to tell  me who’d said what to whom, who had been upset by someone else and what had been said in response. After it had all be poured out without me getting so much as a word in edge ways, she’d stop, look at me and say. “I’m garbling, aren’t I?”  And of course, that’s exactly what she was doing, but I loved it, especially as the pattern with my two (older) boys had been:

Me (in bright and interested voice): So what did you do at school today?

Boy (with sigh): Nothing.

End of conversation.

Anyhow, the purpose of this garbling introduction was to alert you to the fact that this  is a garbling post, i.e. all kinds of snippets.

Cramp: Remember the cramp I was getting regularly. I’ve not mentioned it lately but that’s not because it’s gone away. OOOOH NO!!  Five times the other night; shins, instep and (this one’s a first) in the muscle that surrounds the inside metatarsal in my foot! Perhaps my anatomy-expert daughter can tell me that’s that’s called; I know she reads my blog. It was after 4am when I finally got to sleep. Not to be recommended when you’ve got work a few hours later.  I’ve stuck with the Epsom salts baths, the magnesium supplements and the bananas but I’ve had to ditch the hot water bottle for now. Applied heat definitely helped but the weather is just too warm at the moment.  One of the subjects of discussion at the recent ladies’ lunch was sleep (or to be precise, lack of) which was attributed to a number of reasons. Imagine my surprise when, hearing me say that cramp kept me awake, one of the ladies said, “Put a bar of soap in the bed.” Further discussion ensued – one of the others had heard of this as a remedy too! Apparently you place it under the bottom sheet. Honestly, I thought they were winding me up so I googled – cramp, soap in bed. I couldn’t believe it; there were loads of references to it! Some claimed it to be an urban myth, some a placebo, but what really surprised me was the amount of positive  comments and not only for cramp but also for restless legs, backache, hip pain, arthritis… name it!  Did I try it? You bet I did. has it worked? I’ve no idea but I haven’t had cramp for three nights. Then again, I don’t get it every night so it’s probably just coincidence. Time will tell.

Books: A very kind friend sent me a gift of two paperbacks by an author previously unknown to me – Ella Griffiths. The Flower Arrangement tells the main story as a thread running through several shorter stories and is cleverly done. I really enjoyed it. The other book. The Memory Shop, sat temptingly in my ‘Holiday basket’ (something I’ve been using for years and where I put all manner of odds and ends that will be useful such as toiletry samples or the mini tubes of toothpaste that the dentist always gives me). After a couple of weeks my resolve gave way. I’ve read it and loved it. I’ll be seeking out her other books, but maybe not until my holiday is imminent!

Leftovers: I made some potato wedges when my son and grandson came for tea but most were left over. To be fair Son did say, “just pizza,” so it was my own fault. The following evening I sliced the wedges and added half a yellow pepper, a few spring onions, half a courgettes, a small tomato and some feta. This was covered with beaten egg and baked in oven. It really was very good.

Clearing out the freezer: This isn’t to say that I threw stuff away, but I sorted the shelves and drawers so that like is stored with like (that’s always the idea but over the weeks this gets slotted in here, that gets squashed in there and in no time at all, I’ve lost sight of what I have). Note to self – must try harder to remain organised. (Strange really because I am very organised in almost every other area). Anyhow, the result of the clear out has been a couple of slightly odd meals to use bits and pieces up but they were nice enough, and now I have planned dinner right up until the end of the month.

What would you have done? I’ve just returned from the supermarket where I popped in to get tomatoes….   “Hello Sweetheart,” said the cashier. “You got your bags, my darling?”  The tone of her voice spoke volumes; she might just as well have called me ‘a dear old soul’.  If it hadn’t been for the fact that her twenty(ish) year old face had such a sweet, and seemingly genuine, smile, I’d probably have responded in a way that reflected what I felt, but instead I smiled equally sweetly (if somewhat less genuinely) and said, “Yes thank you.”

What would you have said? Would you have even minded?


  1. Regarding the shop assistant I would have been thrilled. I live in Italy and ‘customer care’, the ‘client is always right’ are phrases that have never, ever been heard of. Smiling at the customer and helpfulness in most supermarkets a definite ‘no no’. So I would have enjoyed the greeting. I would also like to say how much I enjoy reading your blog. Ciao – Ro


    • Thank you for your kind comment Ro. I’m glad you enjoy the blog. What a shame that your customer service experience in Italy is so poor. It’s a lesson to us here in the UK! Not all assistants are smiley and friendly but I find that, for the most part, they are pretty good.


  2. I enjoyed reading your garbled post! I’ve never heard of the soap to prevent cramps, but I must remember that and mention it to my friend who gets a lot of leg cramps!

    I don’t think I’d have minded if a cashier called me sweetheart or asked if I had my bags with me. Most cashiers will ask if we need a bag because we have to pay for bags. The commonly used term of endearment to address a stranger over here is “honey”, but not everyone says it. Some people may say, “ma’am” but, a lot of women I know object to that saying it makes them feel old! Most everyone uses first names over here, even when meeting for the first time or talking to someone over the phone. We don’t have that degree of formality, here. I also expect people to address me by my first name, anyway, because they generally can’t pronounce my last name!


    • One of the things I love about blogging is the insight into other cultures. We are usually aware of the big cultural differences but it’s interesting to hear about the smaller stuff. We generally feel in the UK that formality is a thing of the past and here you are thinking that we are quite formal! Do pass on the cramp info – I’ve still not had any yet (the placebo effect perhaps, but I don’t care so long as it works)!


  3. I find it condescending when very young people treat me as if I’m too old to be out and about. I now just give my ‘shop assistant smile’ and am polite. On the outside. On the inside I often get depressed when it happens.


    • It is condescending, Ratnamurti, and ageing is quite a depressing thing at times but the alternative is worse. Feel glad that you are able to rise above it and smile. X


  4. I would have just said “yes thanks” but struggled to say it with a smile. Another thing I hate is professional people calling me by my first name immediately. If asked if it’s OK I say “no, I’m Mrs …….”. I feel stuffy just writing that but something about it makes my back stiffen up and I go all “British”! It just feels fake to me – we’re not friends. I wouldn’t expect to use their first names either unless they asked me to.

    Thinking about it, it’s call centre people who are the worst offenders so it’s probably part of their training. I hope I’m not rude to them but it does make me cool.

    Now I feel really old 😉


    • Oh I feel your pain! I get a lot of recruitment companies call me at work and even though I have never spoken to the callers they greet me with, “Hi Eloise…. (actually they don’t because that’s only my pen name but you get the idea), it’s X here from XX” . I don’t mind with most professionals face to face but the correct thing to do is to at least ask. “Enjoy the rest of your day,” gets my back up too. It shouldn’t but we all have our pet hates and often it’s company policy which dictates how people greet us. I wish they would leave their staff to act naturally. Now I sound like a grumpy old woman.


  5. What a lovely lot of topics, Eloise! I love multi-topic posts, I do them regularly myself, ha ha!
    As for the assistant who, by her greeting, implied you were the ‘older’ (nay, ‘elderly’!) generation, I’d have perhaps responded similarly, ‘Hello, me old duck, I’m fine, thank you and I hope you are, too!’
    When recently a sales person (aka almost a teenager) was surprised that I used my card – what’s the term for it? when you don’t need to put in your PIN number? – I know, contactless; and I told her that I might be a grey-haired old biddy but we must keep up with the technology, mustn’t we? And did she know that I’d shown photos of the deli [for I was in the deli] on my blog? That took her surprised rabbit-in-headlamp look to a whole new realm!
    I love the ‘garbling’ of your little daughter. Already when I ask grandson what he’s been doing at school, it’s ‘nothing’ until I ask him to describe some things and then he starts, but mainly about lunch! Our sons were like yours, in response to what they’d been doing in school! That’s chaps for you!
    Cramp is vile. I have it mainly when I’ve been walking a lot, especially walking downhill. Do you get it after a gym visit? My cramp can be either in my calves or what I call front-leg-cramp, when it starts in my toes and works it’s way up my feet and the fronts of my legs, so that my toes curl up and I can’t flatten them out. This can last for up to twenty minutes. I go and stand on the cold bathroom floor, that helps a bit, but it’s still very unpleasant. Not as awful as the severe cramp in thigh or calf but still awful. We need to keep our fluids up and also out salt intake up, regardless of what we’re told about having too much salt in our diet – this from a chap who was a swimming coach and he told me that a bag of crisps before bedtime helps prevent cramp.
    I’ve not cleared out the freezer for a while – a job I now feel prompted to do!
    I seldom do potato wedges, but you could use almost any kind of cooked potato this way, and it would, I am sure, be tasty.
    Margaret P


    • The gym seems to have no effect on whether or not I get cramp, Margaret. I kept a diary of it for a while and it occurred mostly on Mondays. The niggling muscle aches which seem to precede it are often evident whilst sitting on the uncomfortable chairs at Slimming World (late afternoon on a Monday) but it doesn’t happen every Monday and it does happen on other days so I’m at a loss. The occasional thigh cramp is excruciating but most of mine occurs in my shins (known as shin splints and attributed to excessive cold or excessive exercise – neither of which apply!). The soap (ridiculous as it sounds) is still doing it’s job at the moment…..if indeed it has anything at all to do with it!
      I do use boiled potatoes in the dish but I think the slight crispiness of the wedges added something this time.
      With regard to your further comment, as a recent student of linguistics I should know the difference between implication and inference but I have to confess I’ve looked it up. As I understand it ‘implying’ is something we do whilst ‘inference’ is something we deduce from the implication. However, I think in present day usage they are largely interchangeable.


  6. Love your garbling…And maybe for a next time comment…So exactly how many old women do you know that have a blog???…put that in your pipe and smoke it, Missy Supermarket Cashier. No…not really…I would have smiled and said thanks…jut like you. 🙂


    • I garble too. As for the Supermarket Cashier, it burns me up when a younger person calls me darling, sweetie, sweetheart, love, sweetness, and any other moniker that makes me think they are treating me like an old lady. While I am older, I haven’t been put out to pasture just yet. I probably would have smiled and said thanks as well – if it were a good day. If it wasn’t such a good day I would have just stared at her without comment. I really don’t know how to tell them to stop it without sounding like a boorish old lady.


      • This is the problem isn’t it – by objecting we will sound like the old lady we are adamantly trying not to be! After my studies finished a couple of years ago the only work I could find was in a shoe shop. One day one of the rather posh mummies said to her son, “Say thank you to the shop girl.” SHOP GIRL!!! Believe me, that absolutely infuriated me far more than the implication that I was an old dear! It took all the dignity I could muster not to slap her face and hiss that I was a 60 year old grandmother with a first class degree!
        Yesterday I just tried to be glad to have been served by a sweet natured cashier. By the way, I am not normally given to violence!


        • If this wasn’t so awful, Eloise, it would be terribly funny. It reminds me of a scene in the film Hampstead (Diane Keaton film which I enjoyed.) In the film Diane’s character works in a charity shop and a posh yummy mummy walked in to look at the stock and left her young daughter on her own, and she (the child) promptly began taking all the clothes of one rails and chucking them on the floor, whereupon Diane got the child and harnessed her to the counter. Then, of course, posh yummy mummy threw a hissy fit and marched out of the shop, shouting abuse at Diane’s character. How really rude to be called a shop girl. Yes, more infuriating than being called dear, love, or whatever. What’s wrong with Madam these days? I know in 84 Charing Cross Road, though, Helene Hanff says to Frank Doel and the staff of Marks & Co (booksellers) something like “I hope Madam doesn’t mean the same over there as it does here!” (i.e. in America!) as they had first addressed her in a letter as “Madam”.
          I remember once, many, many years ago, I attended a friend’s wedding and in those days we really dressed up for weddings, and no fascinators, real hats (which I prefer, anyway.) I was in a navy and white dress and matching coat (called, in those days, an ensemble) with a large straw hat and was even wearing a corsage of orchids (yes, I could do posh quite well in those days). Anyway, after the wedding I had to pop into a shop on the way home and my goodness, what a difference a hat makes! “Can I help you, Madam?” and “Thank you, Madam!” And not said in a nasty way, but more in awe! I felt great after that, by the way. No “Love” or “Dear” there!
          Margaret P


          • I’m sure you can still do ‘posh’ perfectly well! They probably thought you were ‘Lady’ someone, Margaret! Of course women did wear hats (and gloves too) to go shopping at one time.


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