Category Archives: Uncategorized

Wartime Housewife has communications blackout

Unfortunately, WH has a serious communications problem at the moment – of the electronic variety, obviously. I have been assured that normal service will be resumed shortly !

A devoted follower.


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Sunday Poem 106

Sorry the Sunday Poem is so late today; I have been obliged to spend the day shouting at my children for being untidy, selfish, lazy, dirty and smeggy.  I was looking forward to posting a poem about blustery autumn days with crisp leaves crunching underfoot, but seeing as we’re in the middle of a bloody heat wave which is practically killing me (pale, thin-skinned, frail little flower that I am), I shall have to write about the harvest instead.

* * *

Known as Bertie, W R Rodgers was born in Belfaast, Northern Ireland and was  best known as a poet, but was also a prose essayist, a book reviewer, a radio broadcaster and script writer, a lecturer and a teacher, as well as a former Presbyterian Minister.

He showed an early talent for writing and after completing his English degree in Belfast, he entered Presbyterian Theological College and was ordained as a minister in 1935.  In 1946 due to his wife’s illness he resigned from the ministry and took a job as a scriptwriter for the BBC’s Third Programme.  After his wife’s death in 1953, he married again and moved to California.  He died in Los Angeles in 1969.

He produced seven collections of poetry and was awarded a life annuity by the Dublin Arts Council in recognition of the reflected honour he had brought to Ireland through his work.

The harvest field – by W R Rodgers (1909-1969)

There is nothing to note; only the mowers
Moving like doom.  Slowly, one by one,
A gloom of bees rises and soon snores
Thunder-headed away into the sun.

Listen! Listen! Do you hear the hiss
Of the scythe in the long grasses
That are silently tingling like bells that kiss
And repel as the wind passes?

There in the last care and core of corn
The hare is couched: not till the mowers flash
Their smiling scythes, and all its walls are shorn
Will the wild creature dash
Into the wintry air of hound and horn.

Listen! Listen! Do you hear the hiss
Of the scythe in the long grasses of your laughter?
More is mowed than you know, for this
Is Time’s swathe, and you are the one he’s after.


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In which the Wartime Housewife puts up shelves and learns to use a new type of plasterboard fixing

Sorry the photo's a bit grainy, I took it on my phone, in bad light but you get the idea

Today I have been putting up shelves.  The last few boxes which needed unpacking were full of cookery books which had hunkered down like a desert island in the middle of my kitchen.

Problem.  The wall on which I wished to append  the shelves is a partition wall and my cookery books are many and weighty, in both content and mass.  I spun round super-fast, my home-made floral pinny (with concealed i-Pod pocket) billowing about me and said, in a superhero voice ‘This calls for something more than rawl plugs!  This calls for … Plasterboard Fixings!!’

I flew at light-speed to the DIY shop and asked for said fixings in a firm steady voice.
‘We have many fixings,’ said a pleasant Scottish boy, ‘from the seriously heavy duty to this new type which requires no drilling at all.’
‘That’ll do ME!’ I didn’t reply in a Billy Connolly voice.

I had three long shelves to put up which had been taken off the wall of the old house and I was just marking the holes with my bradawl when I realised that I probably ought to have a practice with the new fittings before I starting gouging holes in the plasterboard.

And what a good thing I did.  The instructions on the packet might as well have been drawn by a camel on acid because they bore no resemblance whatsoever to the actions which needed to take place.

The rawl-plug bit of the metal fitting is a compressed Chinese lantern shape with teeth like a tick on the end that goes into the wall and a cross-shaped head that sits on the wall, shelf-side.  You then screw a screw into the plug and as it gets deep into the fitting, it contracts the lantern shape so that is flattens out into a cross-shape which braces itself on the other side of the plasterboard.  Are you still with me?

I know this now, of course, because I spent an hour gouging practice holes in the plasterboard wall in The Bunker which I thought I could repair more discreetly if it all went horribly wrong.  What the instruction leaflet failed to illustrate was that if you try to make the hole in the wall using the plug section, as they suggested, the Chinese lantern bit balloons out before you’ve even got the bugger into the wall.  You have to make a snug hole with another implement first (I used a screwdriver) and then pop the fitting in until the head is flush with the wall.

They then erroneously illustrated the screw in the hole,  without whatever you’re wanting to screw in between the screw and the plug, and the Chinese lantern bit flattening out nicely, which suggested to me that you have to put the screw in the hole to make it grip, unscrew it and then screw it through again with the bracket in place.  If you did as they said, the fitting started to disappear into the wall, grinding away at the plaster as it went.

This is what happens if you allow people who already know how to do something to compose instruction leaflets.  I allowed myself ten minutes of tear-stained rage and suddenly the penny dropped.

What you do is this:
Mark your holes with a bradawl
Make an appropriate sized hole with an implement such as a screwdriver
Pop the metal fixing snugly into the hole until the cross head is flat to the wall
Hold the thing to be screwed up against it and place the screw through the thing into the fixing
Start screwing. As the screw begins to tighten the fixing will be opening out and bracing itself against the plasterboard
When the screw is tight your work is done.

My shelves are up and bearing the weight of a hundred or so assorted cookery books with dignity and composure.  It is always a worry when putting up shelves for heavy things that they will not bear the weight.  Remember that the weight is born by the wall downwards, not outwards which is why shelves rarely fall off.  That’s Physics that is.


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Sunday Poem 99

As I was talking to lifelong ‘Lord of the Rings’ fan, Lord Aragorn, the other day, I thought I’d pop in a bit of Tolkein for your entertainment.  Again, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for the biog for another time as this is The Big Moving Weekend.

Shadow-Bride – by J R R Tolkein (1892-1973)

There was a man who dwelt alone,
as day and night went past
he sat as still as carven stone,
and yet no shadow cast.
The white owls perched upon his head
beneath the winter moon;
they wiped their beaks and thought him dead
under the stars of June.

There came a lady clad in grey
in the twilight shining:
one moment she would stand and stay,
her hair with flowers entwining.
He woke, as had he sprung of stone,
and broke the spell that bound him;
he clasped her fast, both flesh and bone,
and wrapped her shadow round him.

There never more she walks her ways
by sun or moon or star;
she dwells below where neither days
nor any nights there are.
But once a year when caverns yawn
and hidden things awake,
they dance together then till dawn
and a single shadow make.

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Still Indisposed

Sorry, still out of action.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.


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Nodding off

Blimey, I was going to give you two versions of non-sausagemeat stuffing tonight but I fell asleep in front of Ian Hislop’s programme about Victorian ‘Do-gooders’. I hope they do a book.



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Trouble at mill

I am having terrible trouble with WordPress at the moment.  It is scrambling my text, not allowing me to do any linking, messing up my pictures and generally causing me pain.  This may be because they are changing my ‘theme’ to another one.  Whatever.  I’ve just noticed that Sunday Poem 63 was a tangle of text and I don’t blame you for not reading it; it is now corrected so please feel free to read it anew, it’s a super poem.


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