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I’ve spent a good chunk of this afternoon turning the office upside down looking for raffle prizes.

I need to get the tickets printed, you see.  We want to start selling them at our St Francis Fair (already fondly known as “Not the Christmas Fair”) on October 4th.  In order to make them legal, I have to list the prizes on them.  Thing is, as stuff arrives as the Centre we sort it out and anything that’s deemed to be of raffle prize quality we put away in a safe place.  This, of course, means that there are raffle prizes salted away in safe places all over the shop – which is why I’ve been doing a passable impersonation of a demented squirrel trying to remember where it hid the peanuts.

So far, I’ve found:

Two cot blankets.
1 autographed photograph of Richard Armitage.
1 shetland scarf.
1 lap tray.
1 lead crystal bowl.
1 slate sign saying: “Marriage … is finding that Special Someone you want to annoy for the rest of your life.”

I like that last one … It cheered me up no end.  :mrgreen:

Autumn is not going to be good.

I can tell you that now, for nothing.

Let me explain:

(1) I’m moving house towards the end of September.

(2) We have an AGM coming up in October.

(3) We also have an autumn fundraiser scheduled in October.

This is not a combination destined to make me happy.

This is a combination destined to make me murderous.

I feel terribly sorry for anyone who has to work with me for the next two or three months. Really. I do.

Gosforth Show, that is.  They decided to go ahead (not surprisingly, really – the marquees were already up, and hiring and erecting marquees is an expensive hobby …) and they got away with it.  Yesterday, for one day only, the weather eased.  It was dry and calm and fine.  No-one got bogged down in the show field or the car park (although a lot of people were taking no chances and parking on the grass verges for several hundred yards in all directions).  This morning, the rain’s back.  The clouds are shrouding the fells again and the roads are awash.

My question is this.  What did WE do wrong?  Why did the Universe pick on us, and to whom do I complain?

(Exits, stage left, muttering ….)

There’s a lot of it around, you know.  Mud, I mean.  Oodles of the stuff.

We started something when we cancelled our Summer-concert-thingy.  Since then, Lowther show’s been cancelled along with the Royal Lancashire and a couple of other smaller ones -  and as I write this, the fate of the Gosforth Show hangs in the balance.

It reminds me of that local joke:-

What to pack for your trip to the north-west of England:  Raincoat, wellies, souwester and lifebelt … just in case the weather takes a turn for the better.

About two-thirds of the newsletters have now been sent out (courtesy of the aforementioned Child Labour) and we’re hoping that the remainder will be in the hands of the Royal Mail by tomorrow, if two volunteers appear as half-promised. They’re due to materialize some time this afternoon bearing 12 boxes and two bags of jumble from a friendly dentist. She periodically has a frenzied house blitz, rings up the incredibly patient Pete and Margaret and then leaves the resultant gleanings in poor Pete’s garage, where he works on his car. At least, he works on his car when he can actually reach it.

Anyway, they said they’d stay and stuff newsletters for a while …

For anyone who’d like to read the newsletter but isn’t on our mailing list, it’s HERE. The most recent can be read via the link at the top of the page, and the back issues are listed towards the bottom. Some of them are very LONG … I tend to waffle a bit. Sorry (just not very).

The newsletter’s written for better or ill … and my mother informs me that it’s “quite good” – which is high praise indeed coming from The Matriarch, so I can sleep nights again.

As I type this, it’s printing. Now all we need to do is send it out, and it’s at this juncture that I should, perhaps, point out the foolishness of printing 3,000 copies of a newsletter in August because in August, the world and his wife are on holiday. (I know this, of course, because a sizeable proportion of them are trying to End It All on the corner at the bottom of the drive … QV.) I am not on holiday, you’ll have noticed, but everyone else is … So what’s the answer?

CHILD LABOUR!

I’m honestly surprised that Gretchen’s grandchildren come anywhere near this place. Ever since Adam and Isaac arrived here they’ve been doing virtually nothing but sticking labels on envelopes, sticking stamps on envelopes and shoving newsletters in envelopes. What’s more their shameless and neglectful parents left them here in full knowledge that it would happen.

I always knew children had to be good for something.

Let me speak to you of newsletters.

Every charitable organization and its distant cousin produces a newsletter. Most of them are turgid, tedious and unreadable – which is why they never get read.

Be honest now — when did you last read all the way through the latest edition of The Gerbil Adoption Society Gossipsheet or whatever?

Right.

Not within living memory.

Well, I have to tell you that people DO read mine – all the way through. Then they go back to the beginning and read them again. More than that, they keep them, carefully preserved in clear plastic pockets, for posterity. I know this, because they’ve told me so. How frightening is that? Preserved for posterity in clear plastic pockets . . . :shock:

This slightly unsettling state of affairs came about because writing the Centre newsletters was boring me to tears:

“On Saturday the 23rd, Gertie Peasbody will be talking to the Ingrowing Toenail Self-Help Group about 50 Interesting Things to do with Cotton Buds.” …

And so it was that, motivated purely by self-interest, I started writing it to amuse myself – and ended up amusing everyone else to such an extent that the bloody thing has developed something very close to a cult following.

This is all fine and dandy, but it means that each Newsletter has to at LEAST attain the standard of the last and I’ve left it a bit late in life to develop performance anxiety …

All of which drivel is leading up to the fact that I’m drafting the Autumn Newsletter. Or, rather, I would be if coming over here and writing this hadn’t suddenly seemed like a much more attractive idea.

Mental blank? WHO has a mental blank?

In order to derive full benefit from the following, you will first need a brief geography lesson, so pay attention.

The Centre for Complementary Care is set well back from the A595 – the main road that runs up the west coast of Cumbria.

To be absolutely precise, it’s set on a bad corner on the A595. By “bad” I mean the sort that should have large signs on the approach saying “Lethal corner ahead. Engage low gear and brain. Danger of death. Really, really seriously adverse camber. Steep hill. Slow down now. I SAID NOW!!!

Coming from the south, which most tourists do, it’s a sudden, sharp downhill turn to the left with a camber that pitches you out into the middle of the road.

Even out of season I sit my office, listen to wildly squealing brakes and pray that the sound isn’t followed by the sickening crunch of car bodywork impacting with either a stone wall or – worse – more car bodywork.

This morning, it’s been a succession of screaming brakes and blaring car horns. The sun is out. The tourists are swarming all over the Lake District and a substantial proportion of them are apparently intent on terminating their foolish lives — and those of their families – - at the bottom of our driveway.

Look people – do me a favour. When you seen a road sign telling you there’s a bad corner ahead on the approach to Muncaster Castle, will you PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO IT!? It takes a minimum of 30 minutes to get an ambulance to us and although my first aid kit is quite impressive there’s a limit to what even I can do for a ruptured spleen and a broken neck.

In addition to which, I get really irritated when I have to go down and find out what the crunching, splintering sound was. You absolutely don’t want my majorly pissed-off self to be your last earthly memory. Trust me on this.

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