Tuesday, January 22, 2008

To Cook or Not to Cook? That is the question. Oh - and bottoms. (Just because I felt like it.)

Some women love cooking. They live and breathe cooking. They have shelf upon shelf of cook books; basic, speciality, charity and, of course, the celebrity-chef cook book. They have glorious kitchens filled with dozens of gleaming pots and pans, rows of aromatic spices and cupboards full of exotic ingredients. (I prefer erotic ingredients like chocolate, strawberries and clotted cream. You’ve seen 9½ weeks haven’t you? (Hey, I may be approaching the Knackers Yard but I can still fantasize you know…)Let me assure you there is nothing “gleaming” about my kitchen; it’s a godforsaken place where even the living dead fear to tread. I’ve also only got two cook books; that’s all and frankly that’s enough. One book was given to me by my mother in law. (Possibly as a hint that her son required some nutrition in order to remain alive.) The second I bought myself for a pittance. Whilst I happily waste Mr Turley's hard earned cash on books of almost any description I draw the line at cook books; I actually bought mine from a clothes and household department store. You didn’t think I actually went to a book shop deliberately to buy one did you? No chance. I saw it by accident on a promotional stand; a book containing 1000 recipes for a mere fiver couldn’t be bad could it? That’s what I thought anyhow; I’d get a few ideas; spice up Mr Turley's meals with some daring recipes; maybe even make a little fruity sauce. Well that was the idea but you know it required just that bit too much effort…

Now before I had kids I worked long hours and commuted so I didn’t cook much except for quick, simple stuff; a roast was as good as it got. But when the children arrived a strange and bizarre thing started to happen; I began to hate cooking with an intensity unknown to my women friends and yet at the same time I was COMPELLED to eat everything I saw. How weird is that? And now everything I’ve unnecessarily eaten has developed into a rather large bulbous lump which has attached itself to my bottom. God, it’s embarrassing when people yell “There’s an alien!” …and then I realise they’re pointing at my (once pert) derriere. However, in my defence and in defence of other women afflicted by this phenomenon let me point out that there are some possible benefits of having a large bottom;

1. You’ll never get a sore butt like skinny women do. All that extra cushioning provides valuable comfort. I find this is particularly the case at Parent’s Evenings at School when one must sit on one of those miniature chairs for hours whilst Darling Johnny’s mother twitters on about his ability to recite the 9 times table backwards whilst jumping through a burning hoop. By the way… parents who keep other parent’s waiting really annoy me… but at least I can sit comfortably while I’m envisaging Darling Johnny with his hair on fire. Have you noticed that women who keep you waiting always have skinny butts? This is because they live on lettuce leaves, chick peas and celery and are usually too busy coaching Johnny for his role as The Fairy in the School panto to remember about eating.

2. If there is a world wide famine you will be last one of the last surviving members of the human race. Your butt will be carved on cave walls, remembered in hieroglyphics and possibly carved in stone and erected alongside The Sphinx. New civilizations will worship at the cheeks of The Butt. (On the downside though it’s just possible you may be hunted down and eaten.)

3. It is my personal opinion (and I’m not prejudiced in any way) that the size of one’s butt is related to size of one’s brain. As a butt enlarges and matures so does the brain. Women with big butts are usually amazingly clever. This is because big butts are illustrative of the nutrition that is necessary for the continued development of the brain. Women with skinny butts usually have minuscule brains which is why they can still fit into children’s clothes and don’t know the difference between but and butt.

4. Men can get a firm grip on big butts. This is very, very satisfying. Sadly, men can’t get a proper hold on skinny butts without hospitalizing their owners. This is a major disadvantage if you are planning a night of rampant sex but can’t do so unless you’ve remembered to take calcium tablets for the last twenty years. I have it on very good authority that men secretly like a big butt, especially a butt which has style. Look at Jennifer Lopez; a typical example of a successful, high profile butt.

5. History repeats itself. Soon the era of the Skinny “Size Zero” Butt will be over. The Renaissance woman will return to mock the skinny butted women; knickers that droop from bony arses will be outlawed; itsy-bitsy bikinis will be burnt on beaches; Twiggy will be imprisoned for subversion. It will be the dawn of a new era that will live for a thousand years; The Age of The Big Butt.

Now where was I? Ah yes, cooking, cook books and celebrity chefs.

In my opinion, there are far too many celebrity chefs in the UK and far too many of their (overpriced) books. Now I don’t have any of their books (obviously) but I’ve flicked through them in shops when I’ve had nothing better to do. I’ve also studied them in depth when I’m at the houses of the women who purport to be my friends and I’ve been ensconced upon their toilet.( I live in a posh area where lavatory reading matter is on a par with a chic coffee table book.) I’ve never been impressed by the contents of these books. However, I’ve noticed if you happen to run out of loo paper the pages are very handy for the necessaries. (Albeit a little too glossy for my liking; I prefer the pages of a Sophie Kinsella novel which are usually very absorbent.) In addition to perusing these books I’ve also watched plenty of celebrity chef TV shows. So you see, I do know something about celebrity chefs….

… and will someone please, please tell me, WHY OH WHY, celebrity chefs CANNOT make a dish without the use of some overpriced, overrated ingredient that has to be especially couriered from such diverse places such as Istanbul, a small field in remote Scotland, or indeed a small delicatessen on the fringes of Hampstead Heath? Because…


I’ve observed that the top five celebrity chef ingredients are;

1. Truffles. (The only type of truffle I’m interested is a chocolate one; sorry, I’m just not interested in any ingredient that might originate from France and been snorted at by a pig.)

2. Mushrooms. (Usually a rare hybrid mushroom that they have picked themselves that very morning as they have nonchalantly strolled through the nearby woods with their wicker pannier swinging at their side as the sun rises romantically over their “small holding” (which extends to 30 acres) and has been purchased on the back on their overpriced cook books.)

3. Offal from a Royal Estate. (Disgusting stuff; not even the poorest people in the UK buy offal to actually eat it; they buy it to feed their dogs. There is nothing appealing about “Slice up your heart,” “Dice your kidney” or “Marinade your liver.” The only person who might be interested in these recipes is Hannibal Lector. In fact at this very moment I’m drafting a letter to Gordon Ramsey suggesting that he call his new book “A Fuckin’ Load of Tripe - 101 Ways to Make Offal Taste Even More Shite.” (Subtitled “Me and My Organic Cow.”)

4. Caviar. (Just in case you are completely ignorant caviar is actually fish eggs. This is not really an appetising concept; especially when you think of the amount of effluent pumped into our seas daily. However, if you want a nice glowing complexion you might as well give it a try.)

5. A rare nut harvested from the slopes of the Upper Andes which men have fought over and died for. Wars have started over it, politicians eulogised about it, and even The Pope has blessed it. It costs £2,000 per nut as is available at your local supermarket in a removable shell.

6. Ok, I know I said 5 but I’ve just remembered Parmesan Cheese. About which I will say; it stinks.

Now here are MY top five ingredients;

1. Water. God, this stuff is bloody marvellous; it stops anything from burning and it is readily available from your tap. However, I hastened to say that when I am having guests I do use the bottled variety.

2. Beef Gravy Granules. A fabulous, fabulous, miracle ingredient which will make any piece of cheap sinewy meat taste great if it’s been slowly cooked in it for 24 hours. In addition, if your in a particularly fowl mood, you can use its companion; Chicken Gravy Granules.

3. Tomato Puree. If you don’t have this Tomato Ketchup will do. It instantly adds colour and flavouring and is a sure fire winner with the kids. If you find yourself being in the unholy situation of having run out of both don’t forget to rinse out the Ketchup bottle with some water and use the dregs up.

4. Baked Beans. Provides substance to any stew or casserole and you have the satisfaction that they qualify as part of the daily vegetable quota. A kid’s favourite.

5. Red Wine. Failing that; white wine, vodka, sherry, brandy or methylated spirits. Adds pizzazz and an intoxicating addictiveness to your cooking. You can also get pissed with the remainder of the bottle.

So in answer to my question; “To cook or not the cook?” The answer is… No, not if I can possibly help it. However, I will happily eat anything prepared by anyone else - which may explain the size of my butt.

Oh, I haven’t finished on the subject of the wonderful Mr Ramsey yet but I’ll save that for another time. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a little poem;

There was a rude chef called Ramsey
Who had a lovely young Lambsey
He cut it to bits
It gave me the shits
And now poor Gordon feels lousy

Alas, I must now prepare tea for my boys…

Now where are those gravy granules?

© Jane Turley 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008

Capital Crusader.

A Novel in Progress
She would die.

He had been watching her for the last few weeks. She was predictable. Every time taking the same path, that led to the seat at the top of the incline overlooking the pallid lake below. The path ran between two grass verges which were littered with decaying ochre leaves. A sudden thud made him quickly glance to his side, but it was only a lustrous conker, newly fallen; the last solitary fruit of autumn.

He moved stealthily forwards. The ground was damp and the dank leaves did not crackle underfoot; his polished patent shoes out of place in this earthy, natural environment.He could see her more clearly now. The collar of her suede coat upturned against the enveloping chill. Her long auburn hair draped around her shoulders, blending with the copper tones of the early morning sun that filtered through the ravaged trees. Her face was tilted upwards, lost in the languid rays. A hand rested lightly on the pram, which was at an angle so that it could not roll down the path, and rhythmically she pushed it back and forth, lulling the baby inside into a gentle sleep.

It was silent. The joggers and dog walkers had already left the park, but it was still too soon for the tourists to brave this soulless morning. It was an ideal opportunity and he would not miss it. Despite the quiet, she seemed oblivious to the sound behind her, absorbed in her own thoughts. In a sudden movement, he had the cord around her neck and was twisting and tightening it; feeling the abrasions through his smart leather gloves. He watched abstractly as her hands came up to her throat, grasping desperately at the ligature, fingernails digging into her pale skin, drawing blood in a futile attempt to fight him off. But he had left no room for error.

He was surprised at how easy it was. It had not been difficult before, but somehow he had expected something different this time. Sometimes he amused himself watching their faces as they died, revelling in his achievement, but today he just stared at the glossy hair until at last her body fell limp. Releasing his grip, her last trapped breath seeped out, condensing in the air, breaking the silence with a melancholic sigh. He shivered impulsively; the chill seemed stronger now as if in that moment autumn was gone and winter had arrived.

Only now did his adrenaline surge and heart vibrate, echoing loudly in his eardrums, as if calling all to the attention of his heinous crime. His dark eyes glanced around; the park was still empty and now he was anxious to leave. The baby, bereft of its comforting rocking, was starting to stir. Removing the cord and tossing it into the bin, he walked swiftly to the front of the bench. She had slumped sideways, hair cascading over her face, lying below a plaque which read;

Eileen Gates
Enjoyed this view
His eyes flickered recognition, but there was no time for pleasantries. Moving over to the pram, he briefly glanced inside, recoiling at the putrid smell of sickly milk. Taking a firm grip, he turned the pram towards the lake and without pausing, shoved it downwards towards the cold still waters below.

Turning sharply on his heel, he walked briskly back through the trees. He picked up his executive briefcase, which was propped up against a tree, and dusting it down, made his way onwards until he reached a path which led to the outer gate. Passing underneath its cold Victorian arches, dressed in his cashmere overcoat, he looked like any other professional. But he was a killer. A killer with no heart. He glanced at his elegant watch and grinned. He had done well, very well indeed.
© Jane Turley 2008/9

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Short History of Alzheimers in English. (Dementia and lying but fortunately no tractors.)

Let me tell you about Alzheimers.
Let me tell you about Alzheimers.
Let me tell you about Alzheimers.

Yep, you may have worked it out by now that people with Alzheimers tend to repeat themselves. This is something I never do.

UNLESS I’m drunk or I’ve forgotten what I’ve said and to whom. Unfortunately, as a mad, premenopausal woman close to insanity repeating myself is something that is becoming more frequent, is becoming more frequent. The worse case scenario is of course when I’m drunk AND I‘ve forgotten what I’ve said and to whom; my brain is then working on a level of stupidity comparable to Mr Bush’s; a potentially very dangerous and catastrophic situation indeed.

Anyway here’s a useful tip to avoid embarrassing fallout from such situations… Never Lie… or there is a distinct possibility you will be caught out.

On the whole lying is not good. Although there are times in life when a little white lie is acceptable. For example “I only had one piece of chocolate,” is an acceptable lie; it creates the illusion that you really are trying to diet in a rational kind of way when in fact you are alternatively secretly stuffing your face with pralines and starving yourself the next day. But generally lying is not a wise idea; even Mr Turley has realised that when I wear something new and he remarks upon it and I say “I bought it ages ago.” What I actually mean is one of the following;

a) “I bought it yesterday.”

b) “I bought it a long time ago but it’s been secretly stashed in the back of the wardrobe because it was hideously expensive.”

(Alongside a new pair of shoes and some size 10 underwear because by the end of the year I might have lost some weight AND the underwear was in the sales AND I felt good buying it at the counter next to the really fat woman… who of course turned out to be me because of that annoyingly placed mirror..)

c) “We may possibly have a slight overdraft.”

Fortunately, he hasn’t worked out yet that when I am wearing something that IS old and he doesn’t realise it and I say “Thankyou, Mr Turley” what I mean in fact is one of the following;

a) “You are getting Alzheimers because I’ve worn this dozens of times before.”
(But I don't because he might write me out of his will and I was planning to have a retirement of utter debauchery because he’ll have no idea who I am.)

b) “I must buy some new clothes because you obviously aren’t taking any notice of me.”
(Thereby making the purchase of new items morally justifiable.)

c) “Oh God he’s going crazy like the rest of his family.”
(Oh shit.)

Actually, before I get back on to the subject of Alzheimers let me say that I’m not really bothered about shopping or indeed clothes. Not enough people have food and water let alone clothes and so I can’t help feeling a little bit sick when I see people spending phenomenal amounts of money on clothes. I’d rather spend my money on books… at least you can learn something from them. The only thing I’ve learnt from clothes is that trying to squeeze myself into the size I was 20 years ago is;

1. Scientifically impossible; a large arse does not fit into jeans made for a small arse.

2. Demoralizing and depressing; hipster jeans are not made for women with guts. They are made for women who look like boys and boys that look like women.

3. Potentially damaging to the environment. Ever seen me get out of too tight jeans? No? Just as well - but you may feel the aftershocks anyway.

4. Bad for my language which becomes somewhat “blue.” Blue also being the operative colour as this is often the colour I am when I’ve managed to do the zips up.

On the plus side I have been contacted by the government who are manufacturing a replica of my arse as they believe they will able to use it to plug the hole in the ozone layer. Regrettably, I will not be paid heaps of cash but I understand I will have a wax works on show in Madame Tussauds alongside Kylie Minogue whose replica arse they plan to use to fill the gap between Madonna’s teeth.

Now where was I? Oh yes Alzheimers. Yep, it’s a miserable way to go. My father in law is 88 and is badly affected. It’s extremely sad for Mr Turley as his father alternately thinks hubby is an amorphous sibling, a soldier from his battalion during the War, an old school friend… in fact anyone else but his son. He is stuck in his long term memory and even that is confused. This once courageous man who served throughout the war, taught maths to generations of students, who raised his family with love and devotion, is reduced to a disorientated, demented shell.

It’s not much fun getting old; so here’s my advice. Live life to the full while you can; share some love and laughter along the way and if you have a full head of hair when you’re eighty and still in your right mind you’ll be a very lucky person indeed.


© Jane Turley 2008

Book Review; The Undomesticated Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

This book is one of the biggest loads of tosh I have ever read...it surpasses A Devil Wears Prada and that's saying something. Now, I have actually read 2 of Sophie Kinsella's novels..her first Shopaholic was at times mildy amusing..the second I can't remember at all...pretty much says it all... (By the way they were given to me..I didn't actually buy them.. I don't want my reputation as a chick lit hater ruined) But it looks like Miss Kinsella has just run out of ideas.. a top notch lawyer believes she's made a terrible mistake..goes into some sort of a trance, takes the first train she sees, gets off, wanders around ends up at a house where they think she comes for a position as housekeeper and ends up shagging the gardener.... I'm sorry but it was truly preposterous...it wasn't funny and was on a par with the worst of Mills and Boon. I fail to believe that any woman who has fought her way through law school could be so inherently stupid.. doesn't even know how to use an ironing board? What had she been wearing for her professional job? Uncreasable pyjamas? This was a No 1 best seller in the UK..undeservedly so.

I might as well chuck a book review for The Devil Wears Prada as well. If you like fashion you may just be interested in it. If not, the only way you'll find it interesting is if you get yourself a frontal lobotomy first. I have a wood burning stove which keeps me warm during the cold British nights. Let me tell you that The Devil Wears Prada burnt really well. So did the The Undomesticated Goddess.

© Jane Turley 2008

Monday, January 14, 2008

Hotels, sausages and funerals. (Yep, I know it's weird but I've never pretended to be normal.)

Well this year I've had two encounters with Hotels. One of them was in Weston Super Mare, an English coastal resort and the birth place of the comedian John Cleese of Monty Python fame and where this writer originates (which may explain my peculiar type of British madness.) It’s also the home of the infamous writer, ex politician and dubious businessman Jeffrey Archer (who with a cane I will ably whip for bringing the name of this once great Victorian seaside resort into disrepute with his lying and cheatin’ ways.) Fortuitously, I bear no resemblance to Lord Archer whatsoever. In fact the only cheating I've done was in a German test when I was 14. (I still got a crap result.) However, I've noted that odd people come from Weston… In fact I would go so far as to say\;

There’s something in the air
In Weston Super Mare
Who knows what it is
But it frequently smells of piss

And if you've ever been to Weston you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Anyway, I react badly to Hotels. Here’s why;

A. At least one of my children always gets the squits. (This means a series of explosions from the derriere jus in case you’re not familiar with this British expression.) It usually happens just as I am just pleasantly relaxed at a nearby restaurant and luxuriously perusing the chocolate desserts on the menu. But alas, the restaurant’s toilets are not suitable for major explosions so my children insist on me running at an increasing speed (thereby risking a possible tsunami on the Pacific Rim) to the nearby hotel. Where, despite my willing them with all my Jedi Super Powers not to do it in their pants, they still manage to soil them at the very last minute before letting rip over the entire bathroom…. evening ruined… I spend the rest of it clearing up….

Oh here’s a question… Why install those economy toilets in order to supposedly save water when you just have to flush them 20 times 'cos the loo paper won’t shift? If you know the answer please send it on a sheet of toilet tissue marked “Crappy Business.” Or alternatively just leave a comment.

B. I never get any sleep. (Unless I've been comatosed by a large quantity of alcohol and received a sharp bang to the head by Mr Turley who is sick of me moaning about the cheap, abrasive loo paper.) As I'm an insomniac at the best of times, it is almost inevitable that in a strange place with various degrees of creaking, moaning and flushing (and that just from the old geezer next door trying to get his leg over) any sleep at all is simply out of the question…but of course the worst thing to prevent sleep is…

C. A hard bed. I hate hard beds with a vengeance. Now I've discovered that ALL hotels have hard beds; there are just varying degrees of hardness. This means that inevitably I toss and turn all night long, have excruciating backache by the early hours and as the night passes small horns begin to sprout from my head; I become foul tempered, abusive and above all exhausted. By morning I am ready to kill; I'm polishing my Uzi, loading my bazooka and if the sausages at breakfast turn out to be cheap and nasty I become a fully fledged raging hormonal woman on the warpath. Which leads me to to note that;
D. Hotels serve sausages for breakfast. It’s a known fact. Now just in case you hadn’t noticed - sausages in hotels usually look the same. In fact they pretty much look the same everywhere - but if you’re a connoisseur of sausages, as I am, you can spot some major differences. So here’s my scale of hotel sausages rated from a top notch 5 to a lowly 1.

5.An excellent sausage. A good six inches long. Firm and meaty with lots of flavour. In fact if you suck it before you swallow you can really taste the meaty juices. It’s usually organic and if your lucky and it’s accompanied by black pudding you’re on to a real winner.

4. A pretty satisfying sausage. Approximately 5 inches long depending on the cooking technique. Best grilled as too much frying causes it to shrivel. About 70% meat content, so you don’t get too much gristle stuck in your throat.

3. A standard, mediocre 4 inch sausage. Only 50% meat and a supermarket special, although sometimes you can get 3 for the price of 2. Can leave you feeling a little dissatisfied so it’s best to cover it with lashings of a fruity sauce to help it go down smoothly.

2. The economy sausage; at 3 inches and with a high fat content it doesn’t have much rigidity. It’s flaccid, disappointing and can leave a bitter after taste.
1. The “not even worth bothering about” sausage. Although sometimes it can be five or 6 inches long it’s always thin and jelly like. Usually comes from a tin and is served with plum tomatoes. Cheap, nasty and salty. Push it to the side of the plate unless you haven’t had a sausage for a long, long time but even then you maybe disappointed at the lack of quality.

NB: The quality of the sausages may have something to do with whether or not your kids get the squits later that day; it could be bit of a sore point.

Now the second of my hotel visits this year was in Haworth in Yorkshire which, if you don’t know, was the home of the Bronte sisters and where Charlotte wrote the classic Jane Eyre and her sister Emily wrote the tortured Wuthering Heights. This part of Yorkshire is, at the same time, one of my favourite and yet least favourite places. Ironic, I know.

The moors in this area are wild and windy, still untouched by civilization. The buildings are dark, dull and dirty; the result of the grime bellowed in the air by the many mills that once flourished in this area. The cobbled streets are aged and worn. The whole atmosphere has an air of melancholy and depression that appeals to my less obvious reflective nature which people rarely see. Yet on a high summer’s day I see a strange beauty to behold in this sullen place which entrances me but... more often than not… it’s miserable, cold and usually it rains…. and rains…. and rains….

And so…

It’s 6am. The bed is a 6/10 which isn’t too bad. But it’s a four poster which some previous over enthusiastic couple have knackered; it has been poorly repaired and every time I turn over it squeaks like a rat. Not just a little rat but a James Herbert Lair rat. I haven't slept and I'm overwhelmingly tired as I also spent the evening wiping the kid’s backsides and even the free decanter of sherry on the sideboard couldn’t knock me out. Instead I’m lying motionless under the covers so as not to disturb hubby as he needs his sleep - today he will say Goodbye to his mother for the last time.

Frankly, it's a pain being an insomniac when you stay in a hotel; there’s nothing to do and other folks don't want to be disturbed by your midnight wanderings. All you can do is think and listen...

The rain is lashing against the window, the wind buffeting the Yorkshire stone. It’s going to be a bad day for a funeral. I like funerals to be on sunny days; it helps to remember the vitality, the legacy of the person who has died; it softens the blow. It reminds me that death maybe inevitable but life goes on, life can be truly beautiful….

It’s been a tricky few weeks. My husband and his siblings have not been prepared for their mother's death despite my attempts to prepare the way. I've had to bite my lip and keep a stiff upper lip for hubby's sake. But now on this dark and miserable morning I can think of nothing else. You see, Audrey and I had a lot in common; we didn't just share the same surname taken in wedlock. We also shared a love for her son; my husband. We were both mothers. We knew and understood what that meant. You see...a mother’s love can never be replaced….

A tear slides down my nose.

I hope the sausages are good at breakfast; otherwise they’ll be hell to pay.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Ssh...I'm going to tell you a secret...(looks around furtively)...you mustn't tell anyone...but... I LOVE CHOCOLATE.

Yes, it’s 9 days since I gave up chocolate and the withdrawal symptoms are beginning to kick in. I’m feeling slightly crazed and like I could snap at any moment. (Although not without the use of a chainsaw to break through the first few layers of insulation.) I’ve sharpened the blades of my kitchen knives and I’ve started digging a new patio… ….because I’m a woman living on the edge…

I’m even dreaming about chocolate…

In fact do you remember the Milk Tray advert where the man dressed in black does daring deeds in order to place the box of chocolates on the woman’s pillow? Well I keep having similar dream versions of that; a gorgeous man, dressed in black leather sprints like a stallion across fields, leaps across roof tops until finally he stands poised on my balcony. I’m lying on my bed, hair tousled, lips moist, salivating at the thought of the delicious chocolate inside the box which glints enticingly in the moonlight. The mysterious man flings open the window… my heart is beating, my pulse racing… soon I will have a smooth milky chocolate in my mouth that I’m going to suck it really, really, slowly and then suddenly I’ll get to the nut inside and I’ll finish it with a big crunch…He walks silently across the room, there’s beads of perspiration on my brow, heat pulsating through my body; I’m feigning sleep but I can see the box of Milk Tray in his hand. He raises his hand to place it on my pillow… and…..and...


No! No! NO!

I wanted CHOCOLATE, not a football!

When will men understand women love chocolate NOT football. Yes we all know men are ruled by their balls but we women are far more sensible…. One of these days men will realise that chocolate is an aphrodisiac… no hang on they won’t… they’re still under the illusion that a bunch of flowers is the way to a gal’s heart. So if you’re a man reading this let me tell you a little secret that will improve your love life….


Ok so you’re a man and you need a few tips to get into the knickers of one of the following…

a) The girl of your dreams.
b) Your girlfriend who keeps uttering “Oooh Pierce, Pierce, show me your gun,” every time she reluctantly agrees to make love with you. (Feeling a little deflated eh?)
c) The woman you no longer recognise as your wife ‘cos she’s gained 36pounds but you know duty calls… and the lights are off…
d) Shirley the Sheep.

You need to follow my Top Tips to Quick Fast Knicker Release…

1. You must arrive unexpectantly on the doorstep with a heart shaped box of the most exquisite chocolate, beautifully wrapped with a red ribbon. (NB You should still have your clothes on under your coat because you mustn’t appear to be presumptuous. Oh, and the chocolate MUST contain some nuts….

2. Now this doesn’t allow you immediate entry (to the house Silly Billy you’ve got to work harder yet…) but you’ve made a good start. Now you have to remember that women fall in love using their brains (that’s the space between their ears) whereas men fall in love using the bulge in their trousers…(that’s the space between their legs.. which can vary in size somewhat) Or if they’re in doubt they refer to their eyeballs. Soooo you must woo her with words of love and must not use inappropriate language… never say “tits” for example it’s common, derogatory and your woman will instantly think that your sole reading material is only accessible from the top shelf at the corner shop…

3. You open the box of chocolate for her, slowly opening the ribbon… and teasing the wrapper off… you ask which chocolate she wants… and then you feed it to her…slowly…luxuriously…

4. Yeah remember that? It’s called FOREPLAY. It’s what every woman wants... so if you want that woman get down to the chocolate counter now…

5. Ok... so now you need to build on the promising start…. Do I have to explain everything? Come on dozy! Use your imagination…because if you don’t you’re out mate and if you get it right…you’re in.

Now back to that dream… I put my hand out to push the ball away in despair…but the ball feels strangely warm and smooth….that can’t be right… Oh my God….

…It’s a giant chocolate football….. OOOOooo….

© Jane Turley 2008

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Life and language; a personal story.

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world."
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico Philosophicus 1922

Every individual has their own story; a history that makes them who they are. The personal history of our language development is an important factor in the way we evolve as individuals; how we perceive ourselves and how people perceive us. The truth is we all make judgements about people when they speak; variety, lexis and register all subconsciously affect our opinions of people. Sometimes these opinions can be subjective, particularly when style is valued over content.

To examine the way in which an individual’s language develops we must go back to the beginning, even before birth, because it is the language and nurturing of our parents, influenced by their own social and cultural backgrounds, which determines the course of our language development in early childhood.

My own language was heavily influenced by my parents. My mother spoke Standard English with Received Pronunciation, although she was raised by parents born in the East End of London. However, neither possessed a strong accent. Perhaps this was because they married late in life, were successful in their respective careers and sufficiently financially secure to afford the trappings of a convent education for their daughter; by which time the evidence of their humble beginnings had diminished.

My father was born in Wales, the son of a Presbyterian Church of Wales mother and an Irish Catholic father whose families disowned them on their marriage. His father died young and his mother was left, isolated, to look after her four children. Fortunately, she had received a good education - her parents were wealthy landowners – and she was able to work as a district nurse. Her education had become the family’s salvation and her children’s recognition of it altered the course of their lives; my father became a primary school headmaster. A product of an insular family and a well-educated mother, my father also spoke Standard English with little, if any, accent.

So my childhood was spent listening to the conversation of my educated, middle class parents. I never heard a swear word until I was at secondary school and then on the only occasion I used one at home, I was sent to look the meaning up in the dictionary. As a consequence, I also speak Standard English with Received Pronunciation. However, while the foundations of my language were already laid by the age of 11, when I left my father’s primary school, where I had been sheltered from the outside world, I was unaware that there were plenty, less standard and far more dramatic influences, just around the corner.

Despite my parent’s social status, I had a very frugal upbringing. My father believed a mother should be at home to look after her children; a consequence of the years spent in his sisters’ care while his mother worked unsociable hours. However, a solitary teacher’s wage was insufficient for a large, growing family, so the opportunity for a convent school education was passed over for the practicalities of the local comprehensive, where I quickly learnt that I would become the victim of bullying if I didn’t conform. Conveniently, one streetwise boy took it upon himself to educate me with every conceivable swear word and expletive and I was a willing and able apprentice. At home, I was well spoken and polite, but at school, using a combination of colourful language and humour I became a popular and sometimes rebellious child; a chameleon in child’s clothes.

These school years dramatically affected my personal language development. Despite much lip biting, I have not been able to dispense with the occasional vulgarity, but at least now I use it only when I know someone well enough to be sure they won’t be offended or as a source of humour. Perhaps as a result of the double life I led, I now find it very easy to switch my language style and vocabulary to suit any situation; a characteristic which enabled me to be very successful in my career in sales.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that by the time I was approaching my O’levels, both my written and oral language had deteriorated. My English grade had fallen from an A1 to C3 by year 3 and my O’level mock result was a pathetic 34%. I could easily have fallen by the wayside, but fortunately, I came up against a teacher who was up to the task of pulling me back into line.

The indomitable Mary Ticehurst was head of sixth form and wife of a vicar. Wily and perceptive, she was an exacting adversary. Undoubtedly, she was the overriding influence halting my decline and most significantly, helped my writing to evolve into its present form. She relentlessly subjected me to excruciating written humiliation and subtle classroom manipulation. Her red pen was her favourite weapon and it saw plenty of action. The result; O’level, grade B.

Leaving sixth form and university behind, where I had returned to the middle class fold, I lived and worked in many locations including Bristol, Birmingham, Swindon, Ilford and London, but my stay was never long enough to acquire an accent. Home had been Weston Super Mare, on the very fringes of Somerset, but where the regional dialect was much weaker and which I had never assimilated. Probably this was due to parental influence, but also to speech and verse lessons and amateur dramatics; I frequently played the well-spoken ingénue.

My middle class persona and speech enabled me to secure a job at a prestigious West End jewellers where I worked in sales with others of the same ilk. My extensive vocabulary, primarily the result of prolific childhood reading, proved valuable and continued to expand, not only with jewellery jargon, but also as a result of conversing with people from diverse backgrounds and origins. Ultimately, my career reinforced my formative language and idiolect and crystallised its style and presentation; foreign tourists are partial to a typical English accent; it sells merchandise very well.

Now my life has turned full circle and I am consciously aware that my language is influencing my sons and that society and culture and many other factors will play a part in their stories too. How great will the role of education be in their histories? A minimum of 12 formative years. Yet it is reported that huge numbers of young adults are leaving school illiterate. Can this really be true? The government claims education has never been more successful; in fact it’s so good it needs to supplement the A grade with an A* to distinguish the brilliant from the not so quite brilliant. But I know the truth. I’ve heard it on streets and buses, seen it on billboards and magazines and it’s no good the government hiding behind woolly white papers and bleating about imaginary achievements. The English Language is not just evolving, it’s degenerating.

It’s time to do more than just reflect upon our consumer-orientated society and its reliance on texting, email and slang as means of communication and make the changes that are really needed. To preserve the English Language, we must remember the true value of education as a cornerstone of democracy and freedom. Devalue education and you devalue society. We mustn’t let history repeat itself. We mustn’t let the books burn in the fires of ignorance. We all know what has to be done; so we must do it. The time has come to pick up those politically incorrect, red pens and repair the damage.

© Jane Turley 2008

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Book Review; Five on a Hike Together by Enid Blyton

Gee whizz what a smashing, rip roaring read; my favourite Famous Five adventure. Now it's about 35 years since I read it, but here's the basic plot; Julian, Dick, Anne, George and their affectionate mutt Timmy go hiking. There's a tent, a criminal, some potted shrimp, crusty bread and some ginger Beer; mix these ingredient together and you get a rather messy camp site surrounded my maraudering cats and Jeffrey Archer looking for a plot for his next book. Excellent stuff. And why hasn't it had a resurgence in popularity? 'Cos George's character is very PC these days you know.. infact it's a wonder it isn't actively promoted in schools. By the way have you read Noddy? What a greedy, selfish, sixpence- grabbing boy. Just because he wears a silly hat and has an amusing head wobbling disorder doesn't mean he makes a great read. Enid must have been having a bad day; maybe some kids had thrown their ginger beer bottles on her lawn.....

© Jane Turley 2008

Book Review; The Story of The Little Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business by Werner Holzwarth

A crap read... literally... this book is all about animal excrement.. and I assure you, your children will absolutely love it (as all children are fascinated with doggy doo doos and such like.) You will instantly go up in your child's estimation if you give them this book and what's more if you can do some animal impressions in a squatting position you'll be in line for an Oscar. Only slight concern.. it seems to have been written by a German (who as we know have no sense of humour) although they're particularly fond of frankfurters of which there are a number of in this book......

© Jane Turley 2008

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Oh God, it's nearly time for...( tense Hitchcock music plays dramatically)...The School Run.

I hate The School Run. It’s a wicked and cruel device inflicted by men who mainly drive to work ON THEIR OWN in their clean cars with relaxing music playing and pleasantly humming. Whereas us women are frequently left in such a state that we have to consume entire bars of chocolate on our return or in my case not able to do the housework until about 30 minutes before hubby comes home because I’m so stressed out. (Or possibly both….he… he…he) Of course I’m seriously worried about tomorrow when The Run begins again as I’ve given up chocolate as part of my New Year Resolutions… what am I to do? I may have to watch one of those abominable morning chat shows where some idiot admits having an incestuous affair with his sibling and doesn’t understand why it’s wrong.( On the other hand I’m not that stupid so maybe I’ll just watch a rerun of Starsky and Hutch instead.)
Now in one way or the other I’ve been doing the school run for 12 years because unfortunately I managed to conceive my children at irregular intervals; I have three sons aged 16, 9 and 6. I blame Mr Turley, of course, because as all women know anything to do with childbirth is ALWAYS a man’s fault. Anyway, it’s a long time to have been doing The School Run I can tell you and the end is not yet in sight. (Deep sighs of regret.) How many hours of my life is that? I’m not even going to calculate it because I might feel suicidal… especially when I consider the effect on my waistline.

Here are some of the reasons why I don’t like The School Run;

1.Well obviously it is preceded by the horror of having to get the children ready. I’ve learnt that it doesn’t make the slightest difference what time you get up YOU WILL NEVER BE READY TO LEAVE ON TIME. Or on the one in a million occasion you are indeed ready a relative (who should know better) will ring just as you are opening the door and ask you a banal, stupid favour. To which you will politely answer “Yes” when inside you are screaming “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK I DO ALL DAY? SIT ON MY ARSE?”

2.The effect upon my car. “Car” is the wrong description really. Something like “A moveable object containing various degrees of litter, bags, balls (assorted), books, crayons, tennis rackets, karate suits, football boots, portable entertainment systems (i.e. swords, daggers, machine guns and bazookas) decaying food, non decaying food, clothes, drinks, small annoying children, large annoying children and an irate woman.” Yes, I pray to God that people will never ask for a lift so that I do not have to be subjected to the abject humiliation of admitting that my veneer of middle class sophistication is a complete lie.

Oh yes here’s a tip… when your child writes “Benedict Turley was here” in red felt tip pen on the leather seats you have a pretty good idea who wrote it….

3.I’m suffering from increasing road rage. Now you see I’m premenopausal which means I’m beginning to lose my patience with inconsiderate drivers. I also drive to school on a very dangerous road where there is plenty of room for boy racers to do as the please. (Which is of course makes it more dangerous.) Every morning I observe reckless overtaking, people on mobile phones and I’ve even witnessed one person with the newspaper spread out over his steering wheel. Nerd. Now I drive a Volvo estate which is comparable in car terms to a Panzer Tank and one of these days I’m just gonna blow a fuse and blitzkrieg one of those boy racers… in the meantime I look forward to the day when I am called into school and reprimanded for Master Benedict repeating some of my words that he may have regrettably heard like “One of these days arsehole I’m gonna ram you and your no good poxy little Renault Clio,” or “Outta my way you tosser!” Yes, I’m afraid The School Run has had a dire effect on my language. Pity, I’m such a polite gal really.

4.I have to listen to the radio. This is because within a week of getting my Volvo Master Benedict shoved Barry White’s Greatest Hits in the CD player and there it has remained. I’ve tweaked it, poked it, and cursed at it but it will not come out. If only Master Benedict had shoved in the Spice Girls at least I might have stood a chance of removing it…

Now I don’t mind the radio because it keeps me up to date with latest tunes and I can therefore pretend I am ten years younger but it also means I have to listen to THE ADVERTS which is like waving a red flag to a bull. When I am driving to school the only thing I am thinking of buying is an Uzi machine gun and the only thing I am planning is a divorce settlement… nothing else… so I wish they just quit trying to flog me stuff. Oh yes…and the children always talk over my favourite records or over the newsflashes. It’s very frustrating when you hear; “Sadly today…… blah, blah, scream, MUMMY, Ow! He pinched me. GET OFF!…….has died.”


I give up; I’m destined to be ignorant on these important matters but if you want a list of satisfying chocolate please do let me know.

5.The School Run is the predecessor to the Return School Run which is closely followed by The Sports Club Run, The Extra English Run, The Extra Maths Run and various other Runs. All of which lead to the Lets Get Home So Mummy Can Open a Bottle of Wine and Get Drunk Run….. need I say that this last Run is the highlight of my day...

© Jane Turley 2008

My Nominees for the US and UK Elections and Other Waffle

It's the early hours of the morning, and I have had a large gin... Late-night alcohol is always a good recipe for writing gibberish. And...