The Last Furlong

Comments on the race of life.

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New fashion sheet

Mr Furlong has not been well. He had a tooth out. It has bled at night and ‘lost the clot’ since last week. We have now discovered why. Mr Furlong is on anti coagulants. He takes a pill in the evening and sure as anything, within an hour or so, the clot which he is carefully trying to preserve has gone! He bleeds instead. We know his anti coagulants work. They do not ‘allow’ clots.

So on one of the bad nights for Mr Furlong , I woke up terribly hot. I was cooking as they say. I knew a sheet would be nicer than my summer duvet. But the linen is stored in Mr Furlong’s room. I did not want to disturb him.

I lay and thought of possible alternatives. What was large enough, thin enough, and light enough to use as a sheet that was stored in a place I could get to without waking Mr Furlong (or the dog).

Ah! The English Flag! It was stored in a drawer in the lounge (‘living room’ as they strangely say here in the UK). But when I examined it, it felt polyestery and hot. God knows where we got an English Flag the size of a bed sheet, but we have one.

And then the solution came to me. We downsized from a large house with a large dining room table in the dining room. We owned table cloths stored in a chest of drawers next to the kitchen.

I found the perfect twenty year old many times laundered pink cotton damask table cloth in the drawer there where it has lain since we moved here.

I slept well under it and dreamed of many very happy times.


They toil not, neither do they spin

My sister and I were brought up to know about literature. The Bible was literature as well as Dickens and other stuff. Sometimes little phrases pop into my head.

We went to a famous garden at eyewatering expense the other day. I wore my new red shoes which was a mistake. I am still recovering. And we wandered around from the formal gardens to the wild gardens.

The formal sections included the Topiary. There we found gardeners of all kinds watering, snipping, checking every detail, working hard. The gardens between the topiaries had the beds neatly planted out with seedlings lined up like little soldiers all in a row.

Control, control, control. Man’s authority over nature seemed somehow sad to me. The ancient topiaries, artistic and beautiful as they are, have been constructed over hundreds of years.

My red shoes complained as we wandered through. There were benches there but my sister, who is older and frailer than me, never once suggested we sit down. She had her walker thingy to assist her.

But the wild gardens were the most wonderful of all. They were, well – wild! There were no gardeners there, only butterflies and bees; and wild plants and flowers. And exuberant joy.

It was worth the exorbitant gate price just to see those.

I forgot about my new red shoes. And something popped into my head.

Consider the lilies of the field how they grow,they toil not,neither do they spin, yet I say unto you even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Again, there were benches. But we never sat. I could have sat there for hours contemplating, absorbing, breathing beauty. Instead, I shuffled around behind my sister in my new red shoes feeling the pain. I bet Solomon made sure he was wearing comfy shoes at all times. He was a wise man, not vain, not silly like me.

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An embarrassing situation has arisen in the Furlong home.

The lady over the road takes our dog Bass out daily for a walk. We can see her house from the bay window in our lounge. So can Bass.

Every time she pops out to water her front garden, someone notices. Every time she stands chatting outside her house to her neighbour, someone notices. Every time she gets in her car, someone notices.

Someone in our house has become a curtain twitcher.

The curtain twitcher is especially vigilant at walk time. He can see her coming out about ten o clock in the morning with the girls he walks with. They start to cross the road and someone in this house goes ape shit with excitement.

Curtain twitcher has different types of barks. Ape shit is just wild abandonment. We can forgive ape shit.

But then there’s the “look at me” bark. That’s the embarrassing one. The curtain twitcher often sits at the window and calls “look at me”, ” look at me “. Once, the dog walker came over and took him for an extra walk because she felt sorry for him!

So now we are trying to stop this embarrassing event ever happening again. When the curtain twitcher is yelling “look at me”, we yell


and he stops.


Colour and gender blind

The old fashioned Martin Luther King idea that we should all be colour blind and take a person by character, not the colour of their skin, has gone for a Burton. Now we must NOTICE colour.

Mr Furlong is very slow to catch on.

Every day he says “That brown bird is back at the bird feeder” and every day I say ” No, that’s a blackbird.”

Every day he is not noticing that if you are brown, you are called black, even though you are brown. He is not noticing that being female makes black brown, or if you are male, you are black.

But, then, of course, we don’t know if the black blackbird is gender neutral, cis, or LBGTQ.

The brown blackbird might call herself they/them.

So, the solution is not to notice any visual characteristics in anything at all.

Tomorrow , Mr Furlong can say “There is a bird on the birdfeeder”. And I will say, “How do you know its a bird? It might be a trans-squirrel.”

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Length – 6 to 8″

I am constantly astonished at the Seasons every year here in the UK. I love them.

What, to me is incredible, is how quickly plants grow when they start doing it. Every winter, our garden appears dead. Every summer, it is simply packed with plants that have resurrected themselves.

You don’t get that in Africa or tropical places. Every day is a nice day. The garden is simply green. The plants flower at various times, not distinguishable from any other time. It’s same, same, same.

You don’t notice quick growth amongst the growth.

Here, I watch birds from my bedroom window. At the end of winter we did a huge cutback of dead vines. The first big prune for many years I think. So the birds have feared the exposure without hedges or creepers to hide in. But now everything is growing. The birds are back.

The old stumps of the creepers have sent up new vines that are growing at a mind boggling pace. Every morning, I can see how much they have grown in a day.

And no joke, it is six to eight inches a day!

How amazing is that?



No question about it.

I am depressed.

I am so depressed, I couldn’t be arsed to do anything about it.

Maybe tomorrow I might feel better. Maybe tomorrow doing anything at all might feel easier, less effortful, less painful, less exhausting, more normal in the territory of cultural and political insanity that is infecting our lands. Maybe tomorrow might be a good day.

Family, friends and neighbours don’t actually ask old people about their mental health, their oncoming entropy and decay, and their approaching death do they? They don’t like talking about it, because there is nothing to say. And asking is too intrusive. If you mention your depression to your doctor you might get a session or two of CBT on the National Health Service . But who wants to talk it through with a therapist that looks about eighteen and knows fuck all about being old?

Thank god we are retired and old and invisible,

and I can feel depressed in peace

in the privacy of home!

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Tonight is a big event

Every year, except last year, we watch Eurovision on the telly. Us oldies gather with some grandkids and their Mom and Dad to watch the show in the comfort of our lounge. We endulge in a meal first of yummy roast something with roast potatoes, veg and delicious gravy prepared by Mr Furlong, followed by bowls of crisps or popcorn passed around as we discuss the merits or demerits of each entry.

This year we are having roast leg of mutton – yes mutton, not lamb.

This year is doubly special. It is the first time for many months that anyone has entered our home! We are breaking out of lockdown. At last. It’s an ‘event’, a memorable event.

Mr Furlong is a magnificent cook. This year, a leg of mutton is most unusual. It’s hard to get here in the UK. Everyone goes for lamb for some reason. But mutton has a special rich flavour and Mr Furlong is making his home made mint sauce. The meal is going to be grand.

Not sure if the same can be said for Eurovision.

We watched the tail end of the third selection event. It is getting more garish by the year.

It seems that nowaday, all you need is to yell as loudly as possible on a stage of flashing lights that induce epilepsy in the audience and judges, so that all sanity and taste is obliterated.

Thank god we are eating BEFORE the show.

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Katie Fluxman in Palestine. What happened to you after 1938?

In 1938 my mother was in England, in London, at university. She shared lodgings with her friend Katie Fluxman. She wrote a lot about her adventures with Katie when, later, my mother became a writer.

But in 1938 there were rumblings and rumours of war. My mother decided to return home, to Africa. But Katie and Katie’s partner were completely over the moon because they had decided to settle in Palestine (as it then was). They were Jewish. Palestine was their ultimate dream. They would be building a new country, for the Jewish people and make a nation.

So the two friends separated, one, agnostic to return ‘home’ and the other, to make a new ‘home’ for her people.

I know the story of my mother, but I have always wondered how Katie Fluxman fared. She married her man and they arrived in Palestine to build a new country in about 1938.

They are all dead now, but, once, the fire of youth burned bright; young people setting out to change the world.

Where are the children of Katie Fluxman? You will be about my age. What happened to Katie?

It would be nice to know.

PS. I have accidently ‘found’ two sets of people through this blog in the past. Maybe it could happen again.

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Many years ago, I posted this video here on this blog.

No news.

Nothing has changed.

Its still the same!

The Promised Land…….


Dog sounds

Our dog Bass, makes all kinds of unusual sounds we have never heard in all the dogs we’ve had before. And we’ve owned a lot of dogs in our four score years and ten as dog lovers.

Bass is small, looks like a Lancashire Heeler, sounds like an Alsation. People are surprised at his huge, scary bark.

When he is pleased, he makes a grumbling sound like “grumble,yummie,grumble, rumble, oof oof” in a deep voice from the back of his throat. Or ” mmmmmmmmmaaaahuuuummm” For a tummy rub.

When curious, “sniffy, sniffy, grunt, snort, grunt, sniff”.

He talks to himself often. Groaning with stretch, sighing into relaxation, aaa-hing at rolling over.

One could say he’s a verbal dog.

He has many different barks.

“Let me in please! “

“Let me out please!”

“Hey! Look at me!”

These are short commands to his servants.

“Postman!” At the mail slot with dog proof recieving bag installed after our mail got delivered to us by Bass in shredded pieces.

“Delivery! Delivery! Delivery!” With wild tail wagging and frantic racing up and down the hall.

“Dog walker coming!” short alert as he watches the gate from the back of the sofa at dog walk time.

At night, at exactly bedtime (for him) he gives us his stare and makes a pathetic tiny whine reproving us for our tardiness in preparing for bed.

On cleaning teeth, he makes “grumble, yummie, aaah, slobber” noises.

But yesterday, we heard a sound never heard before in any of our dogs ever. As we arrived home in the car, we were distracted by things happening in the street. We both got out, leaving Bass sitting peacefully on the back seat. For some reason, a surge of power entered my arthritic limbs, I SLAMMED my door shut. Even I was startled at the sound.

Bass piggy-squealed with fright and lept onto the back shelf in terror. Not a yelp, a piggie-squeal!

He enjoyed the comforting he got afterwards though.

And I felt really bad for scaring him.