The top ten – telephone numbers I know….

I was thinking the other day that there aren’t many phone numbers I actually remember – most are programmed in to my mobile (I’m showing my age just by calling it that – my kids would call it phone without thinking of any other sort of phone!) and so I don’t need to know them.

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So – if I lost my mobile – who would I be able to call (aside from the emergency services, the speaking clock and directory enquiries):

  1. My husband’s mobile.  One of the very few numbers I actually remember – probably from calling it quite so much.  Let’s face it – he probably wouldn’t answer it as he’d be busy on another call – the kids even know the voicemail spiel off by heart from hearing it so much.
  2. Our landline. Admittedly that would freak everyone out!  The only people who phone the home phone are my Nan or cold callers. Or other household members and the call usually starts with ‘why haven’t you picked up your mobile?’
  3. My parents.  They’ve lived in the same house since before I was 2 – and had the same number I’m guessing from when they moved in.  They answer the phone with the last 4 digits of the number – which used to be ‘a thing’ – but I’m not so sure is now?  Back in the day the neighbours all had very similar numbers.  I clearly remember once mis-dialling the last digit when trying to call my folks and then realising I was talking to Auntie Val from down the road!! Once, when my best friend from school had actually lost her mobile (not hypothetically for a blog post) she managed to get in touch with me as she also remembered my parents number from our youth!
  4. My best friend from school.  The aforementioned friend has lived in the French Alps for the last 15 years – and when she first moved there I had this fancy calling account that meant it was cheaper than just using the landline.  However, this meant I had to dial a number first before putting in her number, so it couldn’t be programmed in to the phone. Consequently I remember all 13 digits of her phone number off by heart – similar to knowing my credit card number off by heart too.  Although, in both instances, I can only do the number in one go – if I pause in the middle it completely throws me!
  5. My middle sister.  In a similar vein to 4, my sister has lived in Munich for many years – and so I’ve memorised her number too.  There’s been the odd time I’ve had fat fingers and miskeyed the number and ended up talking to a random German – but generally I get it right!
  6. The office number.  Now this comes with a disclaimer.  I can remember the number that we give out publicly and is on all of our headed paper etc. but when we moved offices 5 years ago we changed exchanges within Birmingham and so couldn’t move our number across.  But – we didn’t want to change the number all of our customers and staff knew – so it gets forwarded every time someone calls it to a new local Kings Norton number.  I have that number saved into my phone for when I call the office (as it’s cheaper!) but don’t know the direct number at all!
  7. My Nan.  Nan has had the same number as long as I can remember – I suspect as long as she’s had a phone in her home, and it’s moved with her over the years (she’s clearly lived in the same Birmingham exchange all that time).  Although it if was an emergency and I’d lost my phone I’m not sure my almost 89 year old Nan would be my immediate source of assistance!  And we won’t even mention Nan’s own mobile…….
  8. The doctors’ surgery. Our doctors are great – but getting through to them at 8am for a same day appointment is impossible.  I tend to use the landline on ringback – but at the same time keep pressing redial on my mobile, sometimes in excess of 100 times.  I might not have to physically key in the digits each time – but the number is burned on to my retinas from looking at it so much.
  9. My best friend from work in the 90s.  She – like me – has had the same mobile number since we started working together in the mid 90s – it has therefore been used MANY MANY times in the last 20+ years.  Our teenage daughters are friends now – but clearly they’d iMessage or use social media to contact each other, nothing so retro as actually CALLING each other!
  10. Number 9’s husband’s mobile.  Now admittedly this is not quite as weird as it sounds – as he and I worked together lots in the 90s too – surviving some audits on pretty much caffeine and Haribo.  For some reason his mobile number would also be one I’d remember in a crisis.  And he has been known to be my knight in shining armour in the past – and this story probably needs to be recorded on my blog as it’s been told many time!!  I’d been out for dinner with them both and came home to find my front door unlocked.  At the time I lived on my own and it was pitch black. So lovely friend’s lovely husband picked up his weapon of choice (a squash racket from the boot of his car) and came into the house with me to check for intruders. We searched the house and there was no sign of anything remiss – until I went in to the kitchen and found an ENORMOUS bouquet of flowers.  My now husband had not long had a key to my house, and whilst I’d been out with friends he’d let himself in to deliver me some flowers.  He’d just not realised my front door needed to be manually locked when you left. Needless to say the phonecall to ‘thank’ him for the flowers also included some expletives….

So there you go – my ‘squad’ if I needed to make my one phone call from jail or such like!!

Apologies to my littlest sister and any friend I’ve made since 1996 – but at least you’re off the hook for bailing me out!!

 

 

 

 

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Training shoes

This morning I was off to a breakfast seminar to be technically updated about current changes in Financial Reporting legislation.  These seminars are great because I can tick the continued professional development box on my ICAEW renewal, catch up with old colleagues, have a lovely bacon bap* – and miss the morning chaos at home – winning all round!

Anyway – as I was getting ready the youngest said, ‘Mummy, where are you going?’

I decided the above was a bit verbose for a 5 year old, so went with ‘A training course’ – she looked at my feet and replied ‘I don’t think you’re going to be able to run in those shoes Mummy?’

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At the seminar I bumped into one of the retired partners who I hadn’t seen in over 15 years – I had a momentary panic as I couldn’t remember which surname he knew me by.  Then I realised it didn’t actually matter, as he had once signed me in to a client as Libby Purves as he couldn’t remember my surname!

 

* In shocking news there were no bacon or sausage baps today!  The chef was trying out some fancy pants breakfast canapes!!  Whilst they looked and tasted great – you just didn’t have the volume of a bap – and some of the pretty tiny bowls required a spoon, and when you’ve got an essential mug of coffee in one hand (I’ve learnt you need a double caffeine hit before these things, having once fallen asleep and had the notes on my lap clatter to the floor!) you can’t faff with a spoon and tiny canape as well!!

 

 

Wonky wigs and sore feet!

Last Friday was a friend’s wedding 40th birthday party, and the dress code was ‘black and sparkly’.   One of my best friends, Mandy, was also in attendance – and we were asked if we’d been shopping together as our dresses were so similar – but we’re just girlie swots who do what we’re told when there’s a dress code!  I love this photo of us (even if we do look like we’re trying to be the next hosts of Strictly!)

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And it’s a good job there was someone taking proper photos, as our selfie attempts (ok, my selfie attempts) were rubbish!  Our teenage daughters would be ashamed…

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My lovely friend Mandy has had a pretty horrible year – having been diagnosed with breast cancer back in January.  It has been AMAZING how she and her gorgeous family have dealt with it – and you can read about just how amazing on her blog which has already helped lots of people going through the same.  Throughout this year, though, I have never seen Mand without a full face of slap and a wig on (she now admits to being a bit of a wig addict)  I may have to confess to initially looking straight through Mandy on Friday night as I’m not used to her with long hair, as she usually rocks a shorter one (thankfully when I realised that she was stood next to her husband I twigged who it was #somefriend!!)

It was really fabulous to be ‘out out’ together. Anyway – much gin (me) and vodka (her) was consumed and there was LOTS of dancing.

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Totally not induced by the booze (ahem!) I told Mandy how bloody chuffed I was she was there and dancing with me.  She agreed, saying back when she’d been invited in February she’d said she’d come if she was up to it – but at the back of her mind she was actually thinking she’d come if she was still here……..

Obviously this induced weeping from me and an emotional hug – but I was clearly being a bit too ‘huggy’ as this voice piped up ‘Er, Lib, you’re pulling my wig off’!!

Thankfully the wonky wig was sorted out and Mand looked at stunning as ever, and I wiped up the snotty face from hysterical, tired and emotional weeping!

If recent years have taught me anything, it’s be grateful for the little things – like dancing with your mate until your feet hurt – and that 40th birthday parties are ace!!

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Do you remember where you were when???

During your lifetime there aren’t many dates that you can remember exactly where you were and what you were doing.

I’m not talking about wedding(s) and the birth of children – but major worldwide events.

For me there are only a couple.

September 11th 2001:  I was at work at the Head Office of the aerospace company that I’d joined 10 days before.  The FD’s wife was at home, and after the first plane hit the twin towers, she called him to tell him what had happened.  He, I and another colleague then turned on the TV in the Boardroom and watched the news unfold in horror – witnessing the second plane hit.  My husband was having lunch in the Sports Bar on Broad Street in Birmingham.  We could instantly be transported back to that time when asked. This was highlighted when we took the kids to the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York this summer – memories for us – and history for the kids.  Although one of the September 11th stories that I’ve read a couple of times – and still makes me weep tears of joy, contrary to most, is from Tara over on the Sticky Fingers Blog ( http://www.thestickyfingersblog.com/2011/09/are-we-the-only-one-with-fond-memories-of-911.html) – you will not be able to read it without crying!!

The other, for me, is 31 August 1997 –  the day Diana died – and highlighted with all of the current 20th anniversary programmes.  I was on the West coast of Scotland staying in Largs with my first husband – visiting the Isle of Cumbrae, where I used to holiday as a child (and where I took my second husband and kids last year!) We’d gone to bed after watching Scottish Match of the Day (possibly one of the most pointless programmes ever at that point – Rangers and Celtic would win every week) and at breakfast the next morning were told that she’d been in a car crash in Paris.  We caught the ferry over to Millport and cycled around the island – and at each pitstop (Fintry Bay being the one that sticks in my head the most) the news was on TV and it was evident she was dead.  It was before 24 hours news was a real ‘thing’ and so the fact that all of the TV and radio channels stopped normal service was unusual.

For my Dad, the day of Diana’s funeral the following weekend would also be memorable.  He was driving down the motorway on the way to a trade fair in London and got stopped for exceeding 100 mph on the empty M40! (He subsequently got off with 6 points and a fine – not sure if that was due to his reason for speeding being that he needed the toilet – and after the policeman had finished with all the forms, Dad went in to the loos at the services just to prove a point!!)

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So, where were you on 9/11 and when Diana died?

 

 

Funeral

A couple of months ago I went to the funeral of a family friend.  A truly lovely man who’d been an ‘Uncle’ to me growing up – you know, not actually a blood relation, but I’m of the era when friends of your parents were called Auntie and Uncle.

They lived in Solihull (posh!) and had a stream running through the back of their garden (super posh!) – and I remember many a happy sunny afternoon creating dams to block it – or finding fish and other wildlife.

A few years ago I had bumped into this ‘Uncle’ at  a mutual friend’s house – and he had been incredulous that little old me was driving a Lexus 4×4 (it was a hybrid and cool at the time!) consequently I quite enjoyed turning up to his funeral in my Porsche 911 (even if it was a bit of a squash in the car park)  – he would have been suitably impressed!

I arrived for the service with my parents and one of my Mum’s sisters and her husband.  I was accused of being their other sister!!  Now admittedly that Auntie is 9 years older than me – but about 5 stone lighter – so I took it as a massive compliment!! I was also slightly nervous about what to wear – as the Auntie (blood relative this time!) in attendance is a colour consultant – but thankfully I passed the test as she told me how nice I looked – phew!

There are loads of old family friends at the funeral too (old friends in both senses of the word!)  One family we’d actually stayed with when we were between houses when I was a child.  One of their sons was a few years older than me (can I point out I was 2 at the time) and I was completely in awe of him (apparently – I don’t remember at all!)  Anyway – whilst we were staying at their house I was suffering with awful constipation (can I reiterate I was 2 – although still potentially TMI!) and therefore spent a lot of time sat on the toilet.  This time was not wasted (have you met my mother?!) and so I learned my letters of the alphabet from objects to hand.  Therefore the V-I-M from the household cleaner kept in the bathroom.  The M was for Mark – who was the son in question (and also, coincidentally, now my husband’s name!!) My father must have recounted this anecdote about ONE MILLION times during the funeral (not the actual service – that would have been disrespectful – but before and after to other attendees!!) .  The Mark in question was present – and is now a senior consultant at a local hospital and one of the UK’s leading expert on certain diseases – yep, wasn’t embarrassing at all!

But whilst we’re talking about embarrassing – a couple of times we were asked to move through to the buffet – to which my Mum (remember, I’m a 43 year old grown up) told people that I wouldn’t want to eat much as I was low carbing as I was trying to lose weight!! Thankfully the spread was prolific (M&S I think) and the cheese options were fabulous so my low carbing self was catered for.  I eschewed the amazing cakes too #polisheshalo

The service itself was so moving – he was really a loved man by his family – right down to Great Grandkids – but also friends too.  The singing was rousing (my Dad leading the harmonies – he’s legendary!) and emotional. So lovely to celebrate the life of a truly gentle man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not a Book Review: The Mystery of the Magic Key

This is not some Biff, Chip and Kipper book about their magic key – but it is a story about a magic key!

The husband’s car has a magic key – which as long as it’s in proximity to the car allows you to unlock it and start the engine without actually pressing a button on it / putting it in the ignition.  This is incredibly useful if you’re laden down with shopping and / or small children, when you can just wave your handbag in the vicinity of the car to get the door to open, fling it on to the passenger seat whilst you strap everyone in, and then start the car without having to rifle through the entire contents of the aforementioned handbag.

Land Rover

When the boys arrived home this evening, the husband couldn’t get the car to lock – so he suspected the key had been left in the car.  Then, he tried to start the car and it worked – which meant the key had to be nearby.

There then preceded a one hour strip down of the car.  Every nook and cranny was searched.  Seats moved backwards and forwards and up and down – but still no luck.

We’d just about decided that he’d have to leave it blocked in by another vehicle tonight, and then drive it to a dealership tomorrow to get the key blocked, and new ones made, which:

a) would have cost hundreds of pounds and
b) probably couldn’t have happened for weeks based on the usual availability as Land Rover dealerships in the West Midlands!!

I decided on one last search of the driver’s seat – figuring it the most likely place for it to be – and I found it!

Wedged in the rear housing of the runner that the driver’s seat sits on.  Completely not visible – I’d just decided to ram my fingers into every gap I could find!!!  It took a bit of wiggling by a 6 year old with smaller hands than me – but we extracted it!  Phew!

 

 

Bad throat?!

I posted this on Facebook the other day – but realised it probably should be saved on my blog so it’s recorded properly in case Facebook crashes / starts charging etc etc!!

I was in the doctors waiting room when my phone rang.  I could see it was my Dad, so I thought it might be important:

Me, whispering “hello?”
Dad “Are you ok?”
Me “I’m at the doctors”
Dad “I know I saw on Facebook, is it a bad throat?”
Me “No, I’m whispering so I don’t sound like an idiot in the waiting room”

 

 

 

Mobile Phone Drama Queen……

It’s the 13 year old that has chosen Drama GCSE as one of her options – but I reckon I could  give her a good run for her money………

Whilst we were enduring enjoying Centerparcs last week, I received a missed call one afternoon.  The phone reception at Longleat was pretty patchy – and I didn’t have enough reception to listen to the message.  I tried to call L back, but it went straight to her voicemail.

Now I’ve known L since she was born – she and my sister are really good friends, and her elder sister R is one of my best friends.  However, we don’t often catch up – and to get a phonecall from her is a little out of the ordinary.

When I couldn’t get her – I texted her to say that the phone reception was rubbish, so to text or Facebook if it was urgent.

But of course then my mind is in overdrive!  I convince myself that something shocking has happened.

I texted R to see if she might know what the matter was (worried that it might be her or her family that the call is about) and no answer.  Which clearly makes it worse (turns out she was at book club – but why let facts get in the way of a good panic!?!)

I then call my parents, as both families have been friends forever, but they don’t have a clue either. (Although today my Dad rushed up to L at church to find out what it was – I definitely get my drama queen-ness from him rather than Mum!!)

In the meantime I get a text back from L saying not to worry and she would catch up with me this weekend – which she did this evening.

Turns out she wondered if we still had our bouncy castle and if they could borrow it.  Crisis definitely over!

It did make me think, though, how being permanently connectable can actually cause issues – years ago the message would have waited until I got home and been dealt with then without over dramatisation in the middle of a forest!

Similar happened a few weeks ago, my 11 year old son had to get the train home after a school football match and it was much later than he normally would – so his sister and friends were long gone. Plus he couldn’t get to our local station at that time, and had to get off at one a few miles away – so it wasn’t his normal route.  To compound stress levels, his mobile phone had run out of power.  I sat at the station waiting to see him come off ridiculously stressed as to what might have happened to him, and how I couldn’t get in touch with him if he didn’t get off the train – but he did, and all was well.  It made me think that my parents had to parent without mobile phones and seemed to cope just fine!

I love my phone – and would be lost without it – but sometimes, they do make me even more of a drama queen than normal………………

 

 

 

 

Not Just a Book Review: There Is No Good Card for This: What To Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love by Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell

I have been a huge fan of Emily McDowell’s empathy cards over recent years – and have, unfortunately, had cause to send them to a number of friends who’ve been going through tough times.  I then saw that Emily had written a book – along with her friend Kelsey Crowe – the title being pretty self explanatory!

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I read the Amazon blurb and thought I’d pre order it for my Kindle some months ago.

“The creator of the viral hit “Empathy Cards” teams up with a compassion expert to produce a visually stunning and groundbreaking illustrated guide to help you increase your emotional intelligence and learn how to offer comfort and support when someone you know is in pain.

When someone you know is hurting, you want to let her know that you care. But many people don’t know what words to use—or are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. This thoughtful, instructive guide, from empathy expert Dr. Kelsey Crowe and greeting card maverick Emily McDowell, blends well-researched, actionable advice with the no-nonsense humor and the signature illustration style of McDowell’s immensely popular Empathy Cards, to help you feel confident in connecting with anyone experiencing grief, loss, illness, or any other difficult situation.

Written in a how-to, relatable, we’ve-all-been-that-deer-in-the-headlights kind of way, There Is No Good Card for This isn’t a spiritual treatise on how to make you a better person or a scientific argument about why compassion matters. It is a helpful illustrated guide to effective compassion that takes you, step by step by step, past the paralysis of thinking about someone in a difficult time to actually doing something (or nothing) with good judgment instead of fear.

There Is No Good Card for This features workbook exercises, sample dialogs, and real-life examples from Dr. Crowe’s research, including her popular “Empathy Bootcamps” that give people tools for building relationships when it really counts. Whether it’s a coworker whose mother has died, a neighbor whose husband has been in a car accident, or a friend who is seriously ill, There Is No Good Card for This teaches you how to be the best friend you can be to someone in need.”

I would like to think that I’m pretty empathetic anyway.  My husband would probably say you can forget the ’em’ with the amount I get upset about the situations friends and relatives find themselves in.  But I have sent cards (Ms McDowell’s, obviously!)  / made meals (in fact my sausage casserole – or rather one of the sausage casseroles from this cookbook – is now known as the village ‘cancer casserole’) / helped  out with childcare and other jobs – but still, it’s so hard to know what to say and do when family / friends / acquaintances are going through a tough time.

Then between pre ordering this, and it arriving on my Kindle, my Aunt and one of my best friends were diagnosed with cancer.  Rubbish.  So the book had even more resonance when I started to read it.

Now I should hold my hands up at this point and make a confession – the first chapter has quite a lot of activities to do that seem quite ‘American’ and in true British style (and because I was reading it in bed without a pen and paper and burning materials to hand) I kind of skipped over the activities (although read it thoroughly).  Maybe I should head back to them at some point………

A good chunk of it was about being a good listener – and it really made me stop and think.  I do listen – but I’m often also over processing at the same time and thinking about what I should respond.  I’m definitely planning for more silences in the future (in a good way!)

Another thing that resonated with me was about the Empathy Menu.  Saying that there are loads of different roles that you can fulfill when helping someone through a crisis – and you don’t have to personally do all of them.  I am a control freak, who likes to try and be all things to all things people.  I don’t need to be.  And I need to ‘put my own oxygen mask on first’.  Definite learning points for Libby!  It also reminded me of the empathy card I gave to my friend last week:

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As she got to the bit that said ‘cleaning your place’ she laughed out loud and pointed out that she was the one with breast cancer, and I didn’t need to have a personality transplant – but then when she opened it I’d added the caveat inside that I’d send a cleaner round not do it myself!! #thethoughtthatcounts

Another thing that resonated was offering to help people.  As the book pointed out a generic ‘let me know if there’s anything I can do’ whilst great in principle – is often not the most helpful thing. People going through a crisis don’t need to be worrying about what you could do for them.  You just need to do something.  I recall a friend whose son died last year saying exactly that – her brain was too full of what her child was going through to worry who could make what meal etc.  And when I had a much less significant crisis last summer when my husband hurt his thumb lots of people said ‘let us know if there’s anything we can do?’ – but she just said ‘I’m coming round now to tidy up for you’ and took charge, with my sister, of clearing up the empties (there were a lot!) and the general state of the house whilst I was at the hospital with my husband in surgery.

The book says it takes a whole village to care.  I am so pleased that the village we live in is so caring.  It seems to have had a run of crises over recent years – but every time, we villagers strap on our big girl pants and help each other out.  It makes me proud to call this little part of Worcestershire home.

I would recommend this book to anyone  – in fact I’d quite like to email the link to certain people, but they may not take it as it’s intended (or they may take it as intended and be offended!) – but most definitely worth a read.

Let’s just hope we don’t have too many more situations to apply it to in 2017……………