Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Grumpy old Soul

Well, I thought I’d got all my grumpyness out, but you are right, I couldn’t stay shut up after all. As October freezes gently into autumn, here it comes again - Hallowe’en.

I receive a lot of emails, and read many more, from people who live in the last bastion of history’s refugees and whingers, the Home of the Brave, the Land of the Free. In those emails, now that October has begun, I am increasingly being exhorted to “Have a Happy Hallowe’en”. From being mildly puzzled I am developing a full-on peeve about this.

There is a Northern English and also a Scottish tradition that for children and youths, this night is Mischief Night. For one gloriously silly evening, they might play pranks that on other nights would earn them a swift clip under the ear and a complaint to their parents. Door knockers might be tied together with string, black cotton stretched across streets to knock off people’s hats, one man’s bucket mysteriously appropriated and filled with the potatoes of another, a wheelbarrow run down the street until it tumbled over in the front garden of a third. Signpost arms were turned round, gates were removed from their hinges and hung from tree limbs.

Groups of silly maidens (I was one, once) sat by candlelight or by smelly turnip lanterns and told each other ghost stories. They bobbed for apples with fortunes slipped into them, and cast nutshells and applepeel over their shoulders to discover the initials of future husbands. Perhaps they also used games of patience or more esoteric layouts of cards to forecast their futures. Maybe they even surrounded a table bearing an upturned glass and each placed a finger upon it, in the unlikely belief that it would travel to letter after letter because within the glass, the spirit of a dead person was constrained to answer their whispered trivial questions.

Here’s where the evening reflects its origins, and where I begin to become uneasy.

I was brought up a Christian, albeit I am now a non-practising one in that I don’t go to church and have serious doubts about interpretations of “The Scriptures”. Hallowe’en is, strictly, for non-Christians.

It began as a pagan celebration: the feast of Samhain, the endpoint of the annual sun cycle, the “night between the years”, the end of summer and beginning of winter. In Brittany November 1st is the Day of the Dead, the opening of the Black Month. As such it was a portal to the world of the dead and a mythologically important day for magical occurrences of all kinds. The Christian Church sanitised it into a celebration of past lives as All Souls, All Saints or All Hallows; but a reactionary element continued to celebrate its older meaning. “The night before the Feast of All Hallows” gave us the more modern names, Hallowmas, All Hallows’ Eve or Hallowe’en.

From that point of view alone, Hallowe’en is emphatically not something you should wish someone to have a happy one of, unless you know them to be of the pagan persuasion. And I was frankly furious one year that my University diary, in trying to be politically correct, noted the feast of Samhain but ignored All Saints. Both or neither, please!

Tradition has it that on the Eve of All Saints, evil spirits are abroad. On such a night the good and the decent should wrap up tightly by their firesides to pray all good angels to defend them against the powers of darkness.

With that in mind, I am doubly uncomfortable when I walk through a daytime supermarket and see witches’ hats on sale, along with vampire masks, cloaks and plastic broomsticks. Why should I buy trays of chocolate witches to placate those juvenile Al Capones, the “trick-or-treaters” who will blackmail me on my own doorstep in happy ignorance of the origins of this night of licence?

Get thee hence, Commerce. Do not make mock of the oldest fear of all; the fear of the departed dead.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Removed as a courtesy to The Interpreter's House who have published this poem in Issue 49 February 2012 (on page 42) - please see

Candlestick Press have requested "Pink" for their short book of verse to read at funerals, due out June 2012.

You live on, little one.


I missed you by a quarter of an hour.
I should have hurried through my morning shower,
missed eating breakfast in the sleepy sun
or read no emails, or replied to none;
denied the summery procrastination
of that prettier route to my destination.

I miss you from the house when I arrive –
everything silent that was once alive.
The nurses meet me at the stair. Their kind,
practised updating powerblasts my mind.

I miss you from that waxy, sleeplike face.
Your thin hands curl without their living grace –
no mischief – tickling doctors, climbing trees
or treating dollies for your own disease.
It's you with self subtracted. And I wail
till my throat hurts me like a swallowed nail.

I'll miss your heart, the things forever not –
the family, the life you’d yet to plot,
the cure you’ll never find – the future star
that cannot now outshine the one you are.

Requiescat Naomi
31 August 2005 – 15 July 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Review: "English Slacker," by Chris Morton

I first read this book in draft on the Great Writing forum. It was something out of the ordinary run of amateur writing, and although at first I found it a difficult read, every time I saw a new chapter posted, I had to go and read it. And for a woman of my age to read the first-person narrative of an 18 year old youth, and then go on reading it, it must have something. I'm just not sure what.

Chambers, the narrator, has just finished college in his home town of Bracksea. The tale wanders apparently aimlessly, somewhat like Chambers' own life, through events both past and present over the ensuing summer. Although cannabis, tobacco and alcohol feature very largely in the story, Chambers is an oddly endearing lad, without much ambition or devilment in his makeup. It's laid-back and chatty and colloquial, and it's also very small-town England. There's only routine swearing, no rampant sex and almost no violence. There isn't even, apparently, much of a story. And yet...

This is really an exploration of the as-yet-undefined brain of adolescence still going along with a me-and-my-mates approach to life. Chambers, recalling his formerly joined-at-the hip friend Colin, puzzles over what is reality and what isn't - especially when his reality is constantly distorted by artificial "enhancers."

I won't spoil "English Slacker" for you by revealing what the crisis turns out to be... or how it does turn out to have a narrative after all.
ENGLISH SLACKER is written by Chris Morton, and published in softback by Punked Books. 188 pp, UK £7.99, US $15.99. ISBN 978-095331728-8

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Acting by Numbers!

Aargh. The scream. The Who. The cast list.

Yes, it's the Channel 5 Saturday night CSI stuff from Miami. Computers that work all the time, every time, at huge speed. Actors whose facial expressions indicate nothing more than boredom throughout. After years of watching (at least that's what it feels like) alongside my husband, I only know one or two of the characters' names. I wonder why.

The CSI series gets more and more formulaic. The boss. The geeky one. The slightly wacky (or seriously creepy) medical examiner. The square-jawed leading male. The forensic ladies who turn up for work in designer jackets and can run in high heels as fast as their male counterparts.

And then there's The Sunglasses of Justice, also known as He Who Walks On Water. On the command ONE, turn the body sideways to camera. On the command TWO, swing the head portentously to look at camera. On the command THREE, put on the sunglasses. On the command FOUR, pronounce the one-liner to start the show:


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ga ga

So the telephone-head is coming to Carlisle. And Foo Fighters too. The BBC's Big Weekend has booked them for a musical thrash in May.

Big deal. Neither of them appear to know where Carlisle is. No surprises there though: a session musician once told me that the rock'n'roll life is not really a passport to world travel but to endless airport lounges. As the BBC have actually hired Carlisle airfield to accommodate the 5000 cars that are expected, the GG and the FF will probably leave none the wiser.

I gained this insight into the world of pop while doing some work for a client on site, in a warehouse with radio background. They've run through Radio 2 and Radio Cumbria and this week it was Radio 1. A curious choice really as there didn't appear to be any appreciation of the output. There was no singing along or shouting abuse at phone ins as there was with Radio 2 or Cumbria. I suspect they were just accepting the background noise of whatever somebody else tuned in the time before.

I hadn't heard Fearne Cotton at work before. The skill of gently drawing out guests, a la Parkinson, seems to elude her. Her "interview" with the Foo Fighters this morning consisted mainly of her talking over, down or through them with closed questions that only elicited Yes or No answers, and bragging that she had been the very first DJ to play their new single. For God's sake woman, shut up already!

Oh well, next week I shall only have to deliver a few copies of a web-based CD catalogue to the warehouse, so I won't have to spend any time with the radio. And with luck, when the Big Weekend occurs, I shall be washing my hair and quite unable to attend.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pony Books rule!

I was looking for something else (as I usually am) when I ran across Jane Badger's book web site here: It's full of reviews of all the books you read as a kid and you wish your mother hadn't thrown away. I am delighted to find that one of mine features there - Against the Odds - with a well-written review. It even provides a glossary of all the Welsh phrases I sweated over with my Teach Yourself book.

Jane Badger's page observes: "The book itself is an excellent read: Sue Millard has alas written no more pony books ... She writes a very good blog."

My thanks for the blogging praise. My problem, reflected by the phrase "no more pony books," is that although I have in fact got 3 horsey fictions tucked away waiting for homes (agents? publishers?), I can't find anyone with the balls that J A Allen had, when they tried to revive the genre in the 1990s. When they were taken over, the junior "pony book" fiction was one of the first bits of their stable to be discarded.

Is there a prejudice against horsey backgrounds? There are times when I wonder how many gritty, single-parent inner-city stories our kids can actually take. Or swoony pre-chick lit, or kid-wizard-saves-the-world epics. "Pony books" are not necessarily about posh kids, however privileged the backgrounds of some of the mid-20th C novels may have been. It isn't even about haves vs. have-nots, or rural vs. urban. It's about valuing and caring for other living beings, even if they don't happen to be human.

Anything to do with horses and ponies demands a down to earth attitude to shovelling shit, a robust sense of humour and an awareness of the need to make choices. Do I buy a new electronic device, or a load of hay? Do I go to that party, or sit up with the foaling mare? Even, do I sell the pony because I can't afford to keep her properly? Responsibility, hard work, dedication, thinking about another living being rather than about oneself ...

Perhaps we could achieve a little more light and shade in junior fiction by reviving the "pony book" genre.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Horse Sense

I am getting bored with Natural Horsemanship, Thinking Riding, Horse Whispering and all the other commercial titles that are being sold to us to manage horses in the 21st century.

Look at it this way.

Horses are large, herbivorous quadrupeds who like to live in herds, and are domesticated by man.
Cows are also large, herbiviorous quadrupeds, ditto ditto.

Do we see gurus setting up seven-step programmes selling tips for Cow Whispering? Hm? Why not? The difference, as I see it, lies in the human perception of the two species. In the English-speaking world, we do not eat horse meat. We ennoble the horse. We publish anthropomorphic stories – books, films, cartoons – in which horses can not only talk, but detail their biographies and contribute to human business. Nobody makes films titled Black Mooey; National Big-Ears; Cowbiscuit, or My Mate Muckytail; or advertises tuition in Natural Cowmanship or Thinking Milking … We ignore the fact that horses, like cows, don’t work the way humans do.

The difficulty for horses is that the “me-and-my-horse” approach draws people into the equine relationship who may not have had any experience of handling large, herbivorous animals. We keep them and handle them to a very large extent as pets, rather than as working animals. We also try to do things with horses which will reflect upon ourselves and our abilities. Horses are thus an extension of the human personality, a delusion which I doubt they share.

When horses don’t respond to human behaviour in the way we, their owners, expect, we seek ways to solve the “problem” by changing the bitting, saddlery, shoeing, or feeding, by sending the horse to a trainer, or by adopting a fashionable training technique. Only very occasionally do we think of changing our own attitude! A well known bitmaker once said something like, “Of twenty bits I make, nineteen are for men’s heads and one for the horse’s.” I think this could well be said of all the alternatives to traditional horse management that are being sold to the horse-owning public.

Now before you rush to your keyboard and cry, “But you can’t want me to treat my horse the way they treat cows! Darling Dobbin is too precious to be killed and eaten!” let’s not be extreme. Just because I am cynical about New Horsemanship doesn't mean I am in favour of sending ANY animal thousands of miles, alive, in a crowded wagon without water, feed or rest. I’m all for improving the lot of the third-world horse. I’m not advocating or condoning cruelty, or decrying kindness. I do, however, think that for many “pet” horses the application of a little experience, common sense and observation would often be kinder and cheaper than So-and-So’s latest salesmanship.

Even the best new methods will not turn a horse into a dog or a cat or a substitute human.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The moving letterbox

I finally gave in to medical reminders and went for a smear test today. By my calculations, I shall only have to put up with one more before I get to the upper age limit, so that's a blessing. Another is the fact that no-one in my family (blood relatives, rather than by marriage) has ever had a cancer-related illness. I reckon as I haven't had, let alone enjoyed, a wildly promiscuous lifestyle, I am very unlikely to conk out from cervical cancer.

It is a little worrying that the nurse with the speculum seemed to have a good deal of difficulty in finding the letterbox to put it in. It took several painfully unsuccessful attempts before she adapted her approach. It seemed that the door had dropped on its hinges.

Luckily, my husband doesn't have any trouble, and he's the important one. I knew there was a reason why his legs were getting shorter.

Friday, February 25, 2011

mad as a box of frogs

"Good morning," said my husband as I came into the kitchen. "And say good morning to your friend here."

Sleepily, I looked round for the cat. "Where?"

"There, in the corner." He pointed to the nook between the washing machine and the plinth under the kitchen cupboard. A brownish, motionless lump.

My first thought was, "How did the cat manage to crap in such a small space?" and my second was, "It's got legs. And claws. And eyes! IT'S A FROG."

"Oh my goodness. How did that get in?"

He shrugged and went on making his mug of tea. Outside, the cat paddled at the windowpane. "Let me in! It's raining! I'm hungry!"

"I'd better put the frog out, or she'll eat it." Knowing that it was likely to jump if I put a hand on it, I chose an old glass off the shelf.

"Damp the glass," suggested my husband.

So I did. I held it behind the frog, and put a finger in front of its nose. It didn't move, so I pushed it gently. It was cold, heavy, and damp. Suddenly it turned and leapt into the glass, then became immobile again.

With one hand over the top of the glass, I unlocked the back door. The cat rushed in and I went out and tipped the frog onto the grass. It sat so still and unblinking, I wondered if it had died of shock, but no, its throat pulsed with its breathing, so I left it there in the rain-swept garden. And came back indoors and fed the cat.

Of course, the question was, how can a frog get into a locked kitchen? The clue was in the washed-out glass: traces of coal dust. Froggie must have been in the coal bunker; been scooped up by my husband's shovel, and poured with the wet coke into the hod. I'd stoked the fire from that hod before I let out the cat and went to bed. I don't know how many lives a frog has, but she used up two of them last night.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Loss of Blood

Five year old Naomi has had to travel yet again to Newcastle from Cockermouth for a blood transfusion during her chemotherapy. This, despite an "agreement" with their more local hospital that "ordinary" things like transfusions can be done there to save the family a 200-mile round trip.

Then on Facebook I see the messages:

Robert B
Thinks my wife may be about to explode. If one more thing cocks up stand well back.
about an hour ago via iPhone · LikeUnlike

Jackie ჱܓ Awww what's happened now?
about an hour ago · LikeUnlike
Robert B Blood results!!! Whitehaven have let us down again!
41 minutes ago · LikeUnlike

Some days you're the dog, some days you're the lamp post...

Robert B Blood transfusion is about to start!
28 minutes ago · LikeUnlike

28 minutes ago was 17:30 and they've been in Newcastle since 13:30.

HOW DOES A HOSPITAL LAB MISLAY OR MISINTERPRET BLOOD SAMPLES? Not just once ... but repeatedly? It's difficult enough for a family to live with a child who has cancer, and all the poisonous drug treatment that entails, without having to face frustrations in the system that is supposed to be caring for them.

[Jennifer B]
hospital sucks
so I gather
[Jennifer B]
I am still waiting for the iv anti sick medicines which were meant to be put up just after 7
no wonder she feels like crap
she is at least sleeping now
what is the problem with that place!!!
[Jennifer B]
i have no idea.
Naomi is getting stressed when they are setting up her line to a drip, god knows what she'll be like when she has platelets on thursday at whitehaven, she's so anxious she's making herself sick
And its because we spend so long waiting around for things to happen.
what is the worry with the drip?
[Jennifer B]
coz they put things through it so bloody fast and she can feel it in her neck, it's that that makes her sickly, she won't eat because she doesn't want to be sick, same with drinking
sooo ... who do you bug to sort it out?
[Jennifer B]
fuck knows, I have tried to talk to the consultant and it makes no difference. it's like these anti sick medicines, I went out and asked at quarter past nine if she could have them, as she was still waiting answer was "oh yes I'm just putting up this chemo." Where the flaming hell are they hanging it, timbucktoo?
nurse has just been in to say that she's coming now to do naomi's medicine
i'm nearly in tears with anger
yeah, I can tell
[Jennifer B]
a vet wouldn't treat an animal this way
the iv drip has been set up for over an hour waiting for these drugs,
I will be complaing to the poons team tomorrow about it, they have the ear of the consultants and the nurses
[Jennifer B]
i'm sick of it, it's not just us its everyone.

Notices in every hospital entrance hall announce "zero tolerance for violence towards staff". That's fair enough, but how about zero tolerance towards incompetence?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Spring has sprung

We didn't "do" Christmas; that was partly on account of the snow, but more because our grand-daughter, aged five, spent the whole holiday period in hospital. Somehow, jollifications didn't seem in order, and the usual tidying up didn't happen either. I've been ignoring it for months. Not putting it off, simply refusing to acknowledge that my house needs re-organizing.

Suddenly, this morning, I feel compelled to pack unwanted clothes into a bag for recycling. Also, I hear the tractor start up outside. I look through the window, and there's my husband, driving the front-loader which is pushing his very very vintage Nuffield down the yard. Only two wheels out of its four are still capable of rolling - no danger of a runaway there, then. He gets down every now and again to adjust the steering so the Nuffield turns towards the workshop doors. My God, he has finally decided it's time for some restoration!

I had better get him up into the bathroom NOW. Otherwise, though Spring may have provoked us both into re-organizing and restoring, it could be summer before he gets the shower mended.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

there are fairies at the bottom of my garden

I was packing up a couple of books to post to America when a pickup parked on the front layby and someone tapped at the door.

The young man on the doorstep had a photocopied map in his hand and a very large wooden gatepost in the bed of the truck. He had been sent, he said, to repair our gate on the footpath through the hayfield. Was it dry enough to drive the pickup in? I told him it was, and away he went.

By mid afternoon he'd dug a hole, sunk the gate-post, driven the hinges, righted the three fenceposts that had been lying down, tacked-up the sheep netting and hung the gate. Complete with little sign saying "Public Footpath - please close the gate." This last is redundant since the sheep have access to all the fields, but we hope that walkers will use their common sense and leave this gate, at least, as they find it.

I can't work out how replacing a fence and a gate in a gap that was originally thirty feet wide makes it easier for walkers to traverse our field, but it hasn't cost us a penny, so thank you, whoever you are, who sent the young man along. You have restored my belief in fairies.

Wednesday - the Co-op awakes. At last.

I emailed the Co-op on 25th January, and my email was forwarded (thank you) to Penrith Co-op. However I heard nothing back from them - not even an acknowledgement.

So I sent another, concise, enumerated email to the main customer relations department on 4th February. This time I didn't hold my breath. Today (16th) Ah! A response! The gentleman who has emailed me appears to be based locally (by his telephone number). He thanks me for my email and comments which he says "just came to his mailbox" yesterday. Eleven days for an email to arrive in his inbox? Do I hear the grinding of the mills of God?

He will take up my comments "directly with the store manager" and will let me know the outcome in due course.

It's not necessarily the store manager who is responsible for the inconvenient shop furniture, though, is it? I get the impression that the ordering is done much higher up.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday - Mud Angels

Mr T the Fell pony is a chauvinist. If there is food, he claims it. If there is danger, he graciously lets his stablemate Ruby go first. Today, on being let out, what he most wants is to roll. He chooses the wettest part of the yard and his waterproof sheet changes from navy blue to black, leaving a mud angel when he gets up. Ruby is grabbing hay from the half-barrel by the stable door. T strolls over and scowls, and she shrinks away and goes to roll on the spot he selected. Now I have two ponies wearing matching black sheets – but they have clean bodies underneath.

I’m at the computer congratulating myself on my forethought when the cat hurls herself at the handle of the back door, which opens. She stalks in and leaps onto my knee, covering me in muddy footprints. You can’t win.

Foot in Mouth

It’s the evening of 14th February. Valentine’s day – Orton Scribblers meeting – and I am on TV in an Inside Out documentary about Foot and Mouth Diaries. Which do I look forward to most? The writers’ group of course. Sorry darling.

We are meeting at Jackie’s house so she can pop through every now and again to look after her husband. We listen to readings from each other’s work in progress – a short story, the start of a chick-lit, the opening chapter of a historical novel. We offer comments to make our fiction more convincing. Tea and biscuits help of course!

The biggest fiction of the evening turns out to be the TV programme. My husband says it introduced me, not as a retired university lecturer, or a writer, or a web designer, even a grannie (all of which I am) but as “a retired horse trainer.” NEIGH.

Knowing how the Cumbrian grapevine works, those 20 seconds of fame will take me at least a year to live down.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Letter to the Co-op

Letter to the Co-op

Monday morning. I drive 8 miles to the Co-operative in Shap. It is the only large food shop in the triangle from Penrith to Kirkby Stephen to Kendal, apart from the delis at the motorway services (yes, delicious, but too expensive to form the basis of everyday life!)

I have my shopping list to hand. It’s cheaper that way. Although I still sometimes forget an item or two I don’t come home with impulse buys that neither of us will actually eat.

Most of what I want is on the shelves. The moisture cream bath has been on offer and its place on the shelf is empty, but that’s OK because the price label’s still there, so it will probably be back soon. More frustrating is the persistent lack of my husband’s two favourite yogurts, of the raspberry or plain Greek varieties. I’ve always been able to buy them at Shap, pace a shortage of raspberries being acceptable in the depths of winter. The Greek yogurt is a Co-op own brand, so when I take my trolley to the newly installed tills, I ask if I can have a polite request: when will it be available?

The assistant behind the till (I won’t give her a name, to spare her embarrassment when this gets to Head Office) makes a glum face.

“I’m really sorry but we get our orders sent to us from Manchester, and we don’t have a say any more in what they send us.”

Despite the fact that it’s lunchtime, there are several empty car parking spaces outside; something that was unheard-of before the revamp.The things that “they” send seem to include upmarket nibbles and chocolates, but not lunchtime sandwiches. A connection, perhaps?

I unload the goods through the rather small space allocated on the counter, and the assistant scans them and moves them across to another small space on the other side of the till, through which I struggle to put them into bags. There’s an annoying sort of shelf thing with gums and other outers, that sticks up and gets in the way of my elbow, so I pat it gently and make a comment, and get another glum face.

“I know. People catch their sleeves on it and drop things. A lady hurt herself on it the other day.”

I survey the shelf thing and offer the observation that, if I worked there, I’d be at it with a screwdriver. She sighs and says she would like to, but it’s as much as her job’s worth to try. “Everything’s cramped. If I’m working at the till you can’t even open this door behind me.” Which, being perspex, I hadn’t noticed till she mentioned it. I sense I’m not the only customer to make comments about a lack of common sense in the refurbishment.

“Haven’t they given you permission to use the island till yet?” That’s behind me, in the middle of a big empty space. All set up with conveyor belt and ready to accept trolleys.Last time I asked – New Year’s Eve – I was told they weren’t allowed to use that till unless they were really busy. Which they were. “I don’t understand why. Does the motor burn too much electricity? Don’t tell me ‘they’ bought you a till with a belt that you can’t control.”

She shakes her head. She doesn’t know why that till is out of bounds.

To be honest, I haven’t seen the staff looking happy since the shop was refurbished. The shelving is nice and the new position of the photocopier makes a lot more sense, but the huge plastic baskets, with the pullout handles and the little granny wheels, are too heavy to carry when full, and too wide to negotiate past other customers even when empty. When you get one to the till, you have to perform endless floor-to-counter lifts with the goods to be scanned, which is not much fun if you have toddlers, a bad back or dodgy hips. And if you do happen to be muscular enough to lift the full basket onto the counter, the assistant can’t reach into the bottom of it without contortion because there is no niche to accommodate it at a reasonable height.

I used to teach computing students about the processes involved in the design of business systems. “They should send someone to observe you working with this. Then they’d realise how frustrating it is for you.”

“Yes, they should.” She looks a little less demoralised. “They'd hear what the customers have to say, too.”

“I’ll put in a complaint for you if you like,” I suggest. This time she reacts as though I’ve offered her water in the desert.

“Go to the web site,” she mutters. “There’ll be somewhere you can do it online.”

So here I am starting my one-woman campaign to improve the efficiency of Shap Co-op, following its “improvement” just before Christmas.

1. Open and use the island trolley till.
2. Replace the “new” counter, its silly perspex door and its obstructive outers shelf.
3. If the big hand baskets are to stay, the counter needs a niche to accommodate them at a convenient height for both customer and assistants.
4. Please stock the foods the customers want, not the ones you think we want.

I hope this makes her day.