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A Potter's Moll: Happy To Be On Tenterhooks

…It’s coughs and sneezes season again. Picking up a prescription at our local Health Centre recently, I bumped into an ex-colleague who regaled me with more or less his whole medical history. When I said: ‘I’ve just got a bit of raised blood pressure.,’ he said: ‘Oh, I’ve got that as well.’ It reminded me of a Dawn French/ Jennifer Saunders sketch where the two women were in the waiting room trying to outdo each other in describing their ailments. Dawn French eventually clinched it by saying: ‘Actually, I’m dead.’…

Potter’s wife Liz Robison presents another bright, breezy and guaranteed germ-free page from the diary of a busy life.

Do please visit the Web site of her husband Jim Robison http://www.jimrobison.co.uk/

These are relatively free days in the potter’s calendar – the next big thing on husband Jim’s list is to dismantle, at the end of the month, a huge indoor/outdoor exhibition at Rufford Country Park in Nottinghamshire, which has been on display in The Orangery there since last April. The sales and feedback on the show have been tremendous – quite rightly, as it represented a whole year’s work.

Last week we took advantage of the freedom to spend three nights in North Wales. It’s always a pleasure – grandchildren, ancestral voices etc. This time the weather for the first two days was horrendous: wild, wet, windy. But on our last day, after torrential rain early on, we decided to go anyway to Harlech Castle, which we had never visited before. Miraculously, as we drove through Beddgelert, the sun came out and stayed out for about five hours.

There is a toll road across the estuary at Penrhyndeudreth which was exciting in the windy conditions, but when we actually saw the castle it was truly awesome. It is set high up on rocks overlooking the sea with the mountains of Snowdonia as a backdrop. Very impressive. On that day we were the only visitors, so it was great to explore gatehouses, towers, the remains of kitchens, rooms, the great hall as well as exhilarating and scary to venture near the open doorway on the sea side where the wind knifed in.

It reminded me of when we visited Criccieth Castle when I was a child, in similar weather conditions and my terrified mother made us three kids go on our hands and knees near the edge.

At one time there were 900 people working on the castle from all over England, though once built it was garrisoned by only 30 men. The great Welsh hero, Owain Glyndwr, held out there for five years against English armies.

In Caernarfon Post Office, a young man administered a Questionnaire about how we found the service there (10/10), what we had bought (stamps), and did we know the name of the person who had served us (Karen, according to her badge), but Jim got in before me, and said: ’No, we’re not from round here.’

It’s coughs and sneezes season again. Picking up a prescription at our local Health Centre recently, I bumped into an ex-colleague who regaled me with more or less his whole medical history. When I said: ‘I’ve just got a bit of raised blood pressure.,’ he said: ‘Oh, I’ve got that as well.’ It reminded me of a Dawn French/ Jennifer Saunders sketch where the two women were in the waiting room trying to outdo each other in describing their ailments. Dawn French eventually clinched it by saying: ‘Actually, I’m dead.’

One of my friends suggested that it is not a good idea to ask older people how they are; it’s much better to outflank them by saying: ‘My goodness, you do look well!’

Driving about the country and seeing ads on hoardings and on TV and in newspapers and magazines makes me realise that there must be a huge glut of sofas in this country. And have you noticed the price is never in pounds any more. ‘Just five nine nine’ says the voice-over.

Last week we attended the annual dinner of The Tenterhooks Club at The Fleece Inn in Holme village. This is an investment club that Jim belongs to which meets in the pub once a month to deal in stocks and shares. Anyway, it was a very jolly occasion. It reminded me of the origins of the phrase ‘on tenterhooks’ because of the hooks set out on wooden posts in the village fields on which cloth was set out to dry during part of the handloom process. Such posts can still be seen in Holme today. I used to call The Tenterhooks Club: The Losing Money Club, but I have to say that they have been doing rather well of late.

We went to see a charming film recently, ‘Night in the Museum’, where everything in the Natural History Museum comes to life after closing time. Great cameo roles from Ricky Gervais and Steve Coogan, as well as Mickey Rooney and Dick Van Dyke. I mention this film because we saw it at our local independent cinema, The Picturedrome, here in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. The cinema has historic links with early film making by the Bamforth Company as well as currently being a huge cultural asset in the area. Unfortunately, it is under severe threat at the moment as the Wetherspoon chain want to buy the property and turn it into a pub. Just what Holmfirth needs, another pub – not! There have been meetings and petitions, so we’ll see what happens, but the prospects are not too rosy.

Don’t you hate non-presents? Someone gave Jim a jar of Tesco olives for a birthday present the other week. He is not widely known as an olive-lover, and I know for a fact that the giver does not shop at Tesco. What’s that about?

Well, we are well into January 2007 now, and I feel we can look forward more at this time of year as the bulbs begin to peep through and the days become incrementally longer. Things have started up again – choir rehearsals for example. We are rehearsing for a concert on March 1st for the Huddersfield Welsh Society’s St David’s Day dinner. (Back by popular request!) I am the choir’s (unofficial) Welsh language coach, so I practically need an umbrella when I stand before them on Monday nights as they try to get their tongues around the Welsh words. U3A is back in full swing this week. More from me in a fortnight.

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