The Honesty of Hens – Some Girls Have All The Cluck

Lately, I’ve been thinking about keeping hens. There is something very honest about a hen, something comforting like Prozac or warm chicken soup. Dogs and cats, I’ve noticed, all seem to have a side to them, a hidden agenda, a me, me, me mentality masquerading as loyal affection. Buster, the boss-eyed beagle, wants to be played with, praised endlessly for being a good doggy-woggy, taken for long scent-marking walks and fed large expensive meaty bowls of Growler several times a day. Tiddly Winks wants, nay, demands to be worshipped and cuddled for precisely no other reason than that she’s a cat and, therefore, superior to every other living creature. And what return do you get on your investment in these divas of the animal kingdom? A flea in the ear and often everywhere else too!  Henny, on the other hand, plain little Henny Penny, with her beady little inquisitive eyes and ruffled pantaloon feathers is just herself, innately honest. She neither demands attention or affection. She doesn’t slobber, chew or scratch the furniture. She doesn’t hiss or spit. In return for a modest mess of pottage she amply rewards her benefactor with a regular supply of lovely fresh googy eggs. And Henny’s politics are green too – no yolk! (so much for swearing I wouldn’t make any puns in this blog). Note her Dyson-like ability to hoover up those smelly old veg parings that would otherwise fester in the bin, attracting flies and other undesirables like the local tramp. I know, I know, I’m coming over all broody, but I’m seriously beginning to feel like the sky might fall down if I don’t get my very own hen.  Rhode Island Red, Golden Comet, Foghorn Leghorn – I’ve Googled and the choice is endless and confusing. Judicious consideration and weighing in the balance is what is required. So, I’ll think about it over dinner tonight. Nothing like a crisp bottle of Sauvignon and a nice bit of roast chicken to clear the mind.

When Cold Callers Make You Hot Beneath The Collar

I am a writer, something many people seem to think does not qualify as ‘real work’, and thus take advantage of my being at home to interrupt me any old time at all. This is especially true of cold callers who normally send me into a frenzy of rage, unless I’m feeling particularly mellow, when I like to engage in a bit of harmless fun.

Fun with Cold Callers – Part 1

Trrrng Trrng (very poor sound effect of phone ringing)

Me: (mellow version) – Yaws?

CC: Can I speak with Tara Moore?

Me: (tutting sympathetically) – Oh, dear, you’ve not heard then?

CC. Er . . .uch . . . (or Indian equivalent)

Me: We’re holding the wake now? Would you like to pass on your condolences?

CC. Uh . . . ah . . . (or Nigerian equivalent)

Me: Hang on, I’ll just fetch one of the rellies. Back in a mo.

CC: No. . .no . . um . . . I only wanted . . .

Me: To send flowers? How kind. Lilies were her favourite you know. Stargazers, in particular. Did you know the stamens are poisonous to cats? No? Well they are, so keep Dibbles away from the vase. And they stain your clothes too. Not cats. The stamens. Although your own personal cat might stain your clothes  – it’s not for me to make accusations against the feline fraternity.

CC.  Strangulated sound . . . (or Northern Irish or Liverpudlian equivalent) . . . I’m . . . ah . . . only doing an energy survey

Me: Energy? My good man, the woman has no energy. She’s dead!

CC. (doing vowel wounds) aah, eee, iii, ooh, uuu . . . sorry to have troubled you.

Me: You can still send flowers

CC. click …. brrrr (very poor imitation of dead line)

Fun with Cold Callers – Part 2

Trrrng Trrng (usual very poor sound effect of phone ringing)

Me: (officious) – Inspector (cough!), who’s speaking?

CC:  (hesitant) Er . . .can I speak with Tara Moore?

Me: (snappy!)  How do you know the deceased? Can you account for your movements between 5.00 p.m. yesterday and 7.00 a.m. this morning? Do you own a Samurai sword? Have you ever learned butchery? Stay where you are, we’re coming round.

CC. click …. brrrr (very poor imitation of dead line)

Try it– you’ll be amazed how good it makes you feel.  Must go, the phone is ringing. Now, am I feeling mellow . . .

RSVP by Tara Moore

The Granville Midsummer Ball is always an affair to remember. The who’s who of Irish society gather at Carrickross House – the rural family estate – for a night of revelry. But this year’s soiree is extra-special: matriarch Honoria is announcing her grandson Rossa’s engagement to Ashling Morrison. Ashling has been swept off her feet. Tall, dark and handsome, Rossa’s the perfect catch, but is he too good to be true? Why is Honoria so keen to make Ashling – stepdaughter of her life-long enemy Coppelia – part of the Granville clan? Can Rossa’s brother Carrick hold on to his position as rightful heir? And will ruthless Coppelia have her way? With the promise of distinguished company, drinking, dancing and murder…who could possibly refuse this invitation? Repondez s’il vous plait.

THE AUTHOR

One of six children, Tara Moore was born in Kildare but spent her formative years in the Middle East. Tara always harboured a passion for writing but that was initially eclipsed by her passion for music, dancing and unsuitable boyfriends. She now lives in the beautiful harbour town of Ramsgate with her husband and two sons.

Contact her on: http://www.taramoore.com

Read an interview on: http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/independent-woman/celebrity-news-gossip/calm-after-the-storm-2124745.html

The Grape Escape

You heard it here first, I am a problem drinker. The problem, though, is not the amount I drink, but what I drink. Wine! You see, I am beginning to suspect, much as I do with modern art and thong lingerie, that someone somewhere is having a laugh at my expense. Explain, if you can, why the Bacchanalian thirst-quencher of the Gods, for which I paid a hefty sum (anything above five quid, I consider hefty) is actually no more than a liquidised fruit salad – “tongue-tingling freshness, with a tantalising kick of vibrant lemon, lime and pink grapefruit”. To use the vernacular of the young – Duh? Like, where are the grapes, dude? I mean, whatever! A quick squint at the rest of my very modest wine collection confirms the emperor’s new clothes trick being perpetrated upon the unsuspecting or downright gullible. In other words, me! The bottle of Riesling earmarked for a nice fish dinner contains not grapes as one might expect, but “delicate floral aromas, combined with a steely character (ooh, missus!), concentrated citrus and peach notes”.  Ditto, my stalwart little Argentinian, who bravely rings the changes with “wild red fruits and ripe plums, a touch of spiciness and a velvety texture”.  Wot? Still no grapes?

As with most things in life, one has to draw the line somewhere. Essence of liquorice, lingering hint of tobacco, vanilla, chocolate and extract of angel’s tears, all encapsulated in a bottle masquerading as Chianti? Chuck me over a lager, dude. I’m done!

The Forsythia Saga

I blame Felicity Kendall – yes, I know the Good Life was a long time ago (I was young, that’s how long ago!), but I still blame her for making the rest of us think dungarees are high fashion. This is a delusion which hits me annually, something to do with the sap rising, spring donning her verdant garlands and going walkabout and all that.  So, dressed like an escapee from Dexys Midnight Runners, I set off for the local garden centre, that Aladdin’s Cave of floral treasures with strange-sounding names, populated by even stranger people, some of whom appeared to have been impaled on sticks and were leaking straw from various orifices. ‘Those,’ my-brother-in-law, informed me loftily, ‘are scarecrows’. I don’t know who asked him – he was only there on Sherpa duty.

Schlepping up and down the serried ranks of green, growing things, I could feel my excitement levels donging like on that old fairground machine-thing people used to hit with a mallet! Here was everything I needed to make my life complete (once I thought it might be a 1960s stereogram, but that’s another blog).  How had I managed to live for the last (cough!) years without benefit of Ceanothus? What a paltry, joyless existence sans Choisya (Mexican Orange Blossom to the uninitiated, which I was until recently)! Forsythia, Californian Lilac, Clematis, Jasmine! Whistling up the Sherpa, I loaded him down with them all and proceeded towards the herbs in a maniacal fashion appropriating plants as I went. Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. I can see why Simon & Garfunkel stopped short at that point as, apart from lavender (dilly dilly), it’s difficult to get marjoram, mint and coriander to rhyme nicely.

At the check-out, the bill came as something of a shock, but you get what you pay for and you can’t put a price on the garden of your dreams.  Sadly, the wonderful, romantic, Mediterranean oasis of mine is still in the REM stage as, somehow, I never got round to planting my bounty and now it languishes outside, waving little leafy appendages drowning-man like, and casting looks of deep despair through the window, which is why I insist on keeping the curtains closed.

Felicity Kendall and the Good Life! Dungarees with sex appeal? Come on Eileen, I’m not falling for that one again . . . until next year, perhaps, when the sap starts to rise. With any luck, though, it might run into the falling hormones and stop at my ankles. Anyone for football?

Like A Bird on a Pyre

Thanks to a miraculous event i.e. the appearance of the sun for more than five minutes, the silly season has come early this year. It’s time to dive for cover as the fowl (not a spelling mistake), carcinogenic smoke from the neighbour’s Barbie belches over the fence, followed by gales of drunken laughter and more belches – this time from the neighbour himself.  The smell of sizzling flesh is everywhere making one nostalgic for the funeral pyres of Old Calcutta even if, like me, one has never been to Old Calcutta. Elvis may have left the building, but he’s come to the Barbie in fine voice, glory glory alleluia – or could that be the neighbour again indulging in a spot of ye old off-key Karaoke? Yep! And now he’s moved on to Sting and is apparently watching me, or watching you. One thing he isn’t watching is the Barbie and a shout goes up as the fence catches fire. A moment later, I can see him through the ever increasing gap pouring XXXX on the flames in a futile attempt to douse them. The man is clearly the devil in disguise and I swear there is a lot of fence mending to be done before this wooden heart will will ever love him tender again – or even tolerate him.

A Packet of Roosters, Two Lamb Chops and a 1960s Stereogram, Please

Ramsgate is better known for its Royal Harbour and architectural heritage (Pugin woz ere), than as a shopping Mecca, especially now that many of the shops have relocated further afield to Westwood Cross . Therefore, one might think it safe to let an impulse shopper like me out without a carer.  One would be wrong, which is why I am now giving house room to a massive, great, partially working 1960s stereogram, which I somehow managed to convince myself was the missing key to eternal happiness.  I wouldn’t mind, but I only went out for a packet of spuds and a couple of lamb chops. My mistake was in taking the car, because then I had to park it, and if I had walked, then I wouldn’t have had to park it, and so I wouldn’t have come within an ass’s roar of the second-hand (make that fifty-hand) furniture store.  But lo it came to pass that I had to pass it and then after I had passed it, it occurred to me that we were in need of a wardrobe for the spare room. So I actually retraced my steps and ventured inside, even though the woodworms were all out openly sunning themselves and chewing the fat (or the wood) on the ancient furniture outside. I should explain that, at the moment, I am suffering from a Victorian period (which is a different kind of women’s problem, in that it involves lots of oak, aspidistras and stuffed birds in glass cases).  To wit, Ikea simply would not do.  I wanted wood, real wood from real trees. I wanted craftsmanship that had lasted for a hundred years, drawers that didn’t fall apart (don’t be smart!), carvings and cabriole legs (shut up!).  You get the picture? What I got was a 1960s stereogram with a turntable that turns, only not at the right speed (or could it be that James Blunt has developed a shocking speech impediment?), and an impressive looking radio that looks as though it might communicate with aliens. In fact the whole thing might even be an alien.

‘It  could have been worse,’ I told my long-suffering husband later, when he opened his mouth to lodge an objection.  ‘I was very tempted by the 20ft Indian Totem Pole.’ Besides, it was our third wedding anniversary and he hadn’t bought me a present. Ladies and Gentlemen, you heard it here first – there will not be a fourth.  On a happier note, though, the stereogram does have cabriole legs (and just a teeny weeny bit of wood worm)!