Thursday, October 28, 2010

News, Views and Knickers

Okay it's not more stories of how I got caught short. So you can sink back into your chair and relax. I thought I'd take time out to tell you some news.

Firstly, it's all change at The View From Here where the team has been joined by some huge names in British publishing including Scott Pack of The Friday Project (Harper Collins), leading literary agent Simon Trewin of United Artists, publisher, poet and author Alessandro Gellenzi of Alma Books, editor and publicist Luke Brown of Tindal Press and the MD of Legend Press Tom Chalmers (who recently I dressed up in a skirt and sequins in my review of The Grease Monkey's Tale) as well as a good few others.

From right to left; Scott Pack, Simon Trewin, Luke Brown, Alessandro Gallenzi and Tom Chalmers. All new voices at The View From Here. 

The arrival of these new contributors is a big endorsement for The View From Here in our quest to bring new life to the world of literary magazines and showcase new talent alongside established names.

As for me, I will now be writing for the printed and digital versions only so if you've not taken a gander at those you can follow the links on my web page or pop over to The View From Here. You can even subscribe to the digital version via The View From Here website for a ridiculous $1.00 0r 69p an issue. That's incredible since you get unique articles, original fiction, book reviews and interviews with some of the biggest names in fiction. Next months magazine contains an interview with science fiction author Iain Banks!

Hmm....can you tell I used to work in sales?! Come on you know you want it really; how can you afford to miss out on Mrs T's unique literary ramblings? Okay, don't answer that question; I've got my pride you know. Still, if you lot want to read The Beano who am I to complain!

Right, now I've got that stuff out of the way let's talk about something really important - knickers. Big knickers.

Well Thank God - big knickers are finally back. Yep, those wretched things called thongs which are only good for catapults, French skipping and dental flossing are on their way out. And big knickers are back in. Hoorah! Apparently, according to a host of retailers, sales of thongs have been falling and big knickers growing.

Hmm..there's a joke it that somewhere but I'm not going there. I've only just had my breakfast.

Anyway, personally I'm delighted. Thongs are the most uncomfortable invention ever, no doubt invented by men for men and not actually for the comfort of women. So at last I can throw out those cheese graters which I've been forced to wear on "special occasions" without any guilt whatsoever; I can just tell Mr T I'm keeping up with fashion! God knows what he'll buy me for Christmas though without the pull of the underwear counter... I could be back to leg warmers and mittens. Ah well, it beats the hell of getting a thong in your Christmas cracker...

Right, that's it for the moment, it's the school holidays and I'm off to M&S to stock up on big knickers and school jumpers. See you ladies in the lingerie queue!

Oh - and see you gents at the sock counter; I know what I'm getting Mr T for Christmas.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bad Sex and Tony Blair; Are You Surprised?

"That night she cradled me in her arms and soothed me; told me what I needed to be told; strengthened me....On that night of 12 May 1994, I needed that love Cherie gave me, selfishly. I devoured it to give me strength. I was an animal following my instinct..."

Oh dear God, isn't that quote hideous in every conceivable way! Excuse me while I stick my fingers down my throat!

Crikey, isn't it enough that Tony Blair screwed up the UK, help to start an illegal war and indoctrinated us with his mantra of political correctness and now we have to be exposed to this excruciating excerpt from his love life. Ugh! I just don't want to read about him and Cherie doing "it"!  

A Journey: My Political Life

And somebody fire his editor at Hutchinson. Really, did he seriously think the general public really wanted to read that drivel?

No we did not!

And what about that bland title? Blimey, it's so boring. I could think up a hundred more interesting titles than a mere A Journey . Hmm....Let's have a bash by drawing on some famous novels....

1.  Lord of the Lies, (Simple and effective....)
2.  National Buffoon; (How Tony quit horse racing to become a comic genius)
3. The Wizard of Spin; (How Tony confused a generation with a spinning top and a load of verbal garbage.)
4. What Tony Did Next; (No one really knows but he filed a lot of expense claims.)
5. Tony and the Giant Prescott (Self explanatory really.)
6 . A Christmas Turkey (Tony draws on Dickens as inspiration for a down to earth, warts and all autobiography.)
7. The Curious Incident of Tony in the Commons Bar ( Ssshhhhhh....)
8.  The Little Hitler on the Front Bench (Oh well, I guess it is still more interesting than being stuck on a prairie.)
9.  How to Lose Friends with Verbal Flatulence (Tony tries to imitate Dale Carnegie but doesn't quite pull it off.)
10 The PM, the Witch and her Wardrobe (The real truth about Tony and Cherie.)
11. Tony, Cherie and the Chamber of Horrors (Even more real truths about Tony and Cherie)
12. Pride and Prejudice II (Co-written with Peter Mandelson)
13. Incense and Insensitivity ( The trials and tribulations of Tony, Cherie and a Personal Guru.)
14.Great Fabrications (Dickens influence again.)
15 Love in the Time of Blair (Sorry - had to get that one in!)
16. The Death of David Kelly and other Stories (Oh dear now we're getting serious....)
17. To the Penthouse. (Via 10 Downing Street...)
18. Tony's Adventures in Wonderland. (Need I say more?)
19. The Prime Minister's Guide to the Galaxy ( Tony's theory on how he took over the world. Fictionalized obviously)
20. As I Lay Lying (Ha!)

...and of course A Series of Unfortunate Events..... and maybe lastly All Quiet on the Opposition Front....

Hm that was just too easy. But come on; A Journey? How exciting is that title? says Mrs T yawning and remembering the last time the kids threw up in the back seat of the car.....

Anyway, apparently, Tony was nominated for the Literary Review Bad Sex Award by Cherie. Yep, that's right folks - Cherie nominated him. Now, do you think it was because she thought it was genuinely bad - in which case you would have thought she might have pointed out to him in the editing stages - because she's a barrister so she definitely would have read it before it went to the publisher - or because she and Tony are a little too keen on staying in the public eye? Hmm...let me think on that....

You know I'm actually feeling quite fond of Mills and Boon this morning. Blimey, their books are like a class act in comparison to Tony's sortie into the bedroom. However, to give Tony some credit he has donated the entire advance of  4.6 million for A Journey to The British Legion which will help to fund a project called Battle Back aimed at rehabilitating wounded British armed forces personnel.

There's been some considerable speculation here in the UK about Tony's motivation; whether it is due to a guilty conscience over the war with Iraq or as a sly PR outing which might subtlety benefit him should he ever be prosecuted for pursuing an "illegal" war or perhaps bolstering his reputation in his new working life which now includes a number of highly profitable directorships/advisory roles and a huge income from the after dinner speech circuit. Indeed it's rumoured that since leaving office he may have earned as much as £60 million pounds.

So, clearly, Tony doesn't need the 4.6 million and by donating it he'll also avoid the 50% tax he would have lost as a high income earner and the money will go in entirety to the British Legion. Personally, I'm inclined to believe Tony's decision is a calculated gesture based on a number of reasons, including easing a guilty conscience, but ultimately who cares? The money will go to a good cause and history, not charitable gestures, will be the best judge of Tony's legacy.

I'll probably read Tony's autobiography in due course. A lot has changed in the UK since he came to power that I don't like and now we're reaping the consequences. I'm interested to read his take on things. But do I believe Tony's a bad man? No, essentially I don't. I'm just curious to find out how much he led in the fast lane or indeed whether he was trapped in it.

And, maybe, given what we now know about the situation in Iraq, perhaps Tony might make another gesture to the people of Iraq, should he ever write a sequel.


Got a good title for Blair's autiobiography? Leave a comment!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Chat

What, you lot have never had tummy troubles? I can't believe it! There was I expecting at least some empathy for the dire predicament in my last post and the only person who coughs up the truth was Mr Davison (Admittedly, it was on behalf of his mother so I'm not sure she'd be exactly pleased with him.) Anyway, despite the reticence of you Readers to come clean I had a couple of emails about this delicate subject and one was from Mrs S from the Book Club whom I had mentioned in my previous post. Was there empathy and understanding in this email? No! What can I say? I was shocked, deeply shocked....

"We went for a walk on the Downs at the weekend and played our new family game of "spot Jane's ****". We did find a likely candidate but it was right in the middle of the path and having read your blog I know this wasn't yours. We also found some interesting fungi on a patch of vomit. A long discussion followed between Ben and I about whether or not you had been sick as well as being "caught short" and how long vomit mould takes to grow."

You see Readers this is the type of lady I have to deal with at The Book Club. There I am, every evening dutifully discussing the intricacies of Plato and Aristotle with the Young Masters and Mrs S is discussing the intricacies of vomit. Why 'tis insurrection indeed; I am going to oust Mrs S at the next book club and call for a vote on her competency!

On an entirely different matter, does anyone know if you can get a GPS satellite navigation system on an IPOD? I don't mean just a map - I mean exactly like a sat nav system which tells you which road to walk down? (ie..turn right, walk 300 paces, arrive at destination on right - it has a blue door which reads no 31 on the central panel.) Now, I haven't got an IPOD but I'm thinking about it and if it had an application like that it might clinch the deal. You see, I keep getting lost lately - on foot. I know, I know- it's pathetic but I just have no sense of direction at all.  I can find my way home by just sniffing the air for the charcoal remains that are attached to the inside of my oven - but away from home it's an absolute nightmare!

So on the weekend I got lost in Cheltenham. This all started when I put "Drive" instead of "Road" into the Sat Nav so I found myself in the wrong car park having lost my bearings and with only 25 mins (which theoretically was heaps of time) to find my way  to the Arts Centre to see Andrew Motion. In the end I got there 10 mins late, after quizzing 3 residents (one of whom sent me on a wild goose chase) and a car parking attendant. I was hopping mad with myself but, unfortunately, when I look at a map my brain just goes _________________.

That's right - dead.

Yep, me and maps do not go together; I think I have map reading dyslexia. I can stand for hours rotating the map into every conceivable direction trying to establish where I am and the truth is I'm never really sure- it's all guesswork. Even when I am given the most specific directions as one Cheltenham resident gave me "It's a about 600 metres - you can't miss it." (Well yes I did actually)  I still can't find places! Blimey, it is just so embarrassing when strangers stop me in the street and ask if I need help believing I'm a confused  American tourist  - and it turns out I'm a posher Brit than they are.

Yeah, so I got lost in London as well yesterday. And  I used to work there! It's pathetic - in the end I went and bought a map of London for my filfofax (so I could pretend I wasn't really lost and just needed it in case I had to make a rare sojourn to the suburbs where the plebs live.) Then, after securing my purchase - I stopped at Costas for a coffee, did my usual amount of hopeless map studying - and then asked the barista where the hell I was.

Easy. Or not. Depending on whether my brain is plugged in.

Isn't "barista" a funny term? In fact, I've only recently come across it - it's what they call those young ladies and gentlemen who make the coffees in coffee shops. Gez, I thought they were waiters or something simple like that.  Oh dear, how terribly unpc of me! It sounds good though doesn't it? I mean, I'd rather say I was a "barista" than a "barman" or "waiter" or such. It's been quite a fashion to upgrade the status of jobs by renaming professions - sales assistants and now "consultants," personnel assistants are now "human relations," loo attendants are "hygienists" etc etc. Hmm....well I suppose it is good to make people feel valued in their jobs so maybe that's a smart move - but I kinda feel left out as a mere Housewife Extraordinaire. I feel I ought to be something more significant.... Domestic Specialist perhaps? Executive Cleaning Professional? Chief Bog Cleaner and Floor Swiller? I dunno folks give me some ideas.....I feel a little insignificant....

Anyway, talking of coffee shops, can anyone tell me why it takes soooooo long to make a cup of coffee at these coffee bars? I mean it tastes great but after all that PZZZCCHHHHHH..SSSSSSSSsssss noise and steam flying off everywhere for about 10mins I'd expect a coffee the size of  The Flying Scotsman to turn up not a teeney weeney cup. It take simply which time I can usually feel my hair turning grey and new wrinkles forming. Cripes, I only want a cup of coffee not a lesson in steam hydraulics!

Oh and why is it that just when you think your coffee is ready and you stretch out your hand to get it off the counter do the baristas say...

"And what was your's again Madam?"

Oh God here we go again......


Oh, for the simple things in life. (And a chauffeur obviously.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tummy Troubles; An Embarrassing Tale of Gross Proportions

A word of warning; this is a ribald post which may offend those with delicate sensibilities. Read at your own risk!

Right, last week I had tummy trouble. Yep, you know what I mean folks - the squits. Now we've all experienced those gripping stomach pains and the extra long and repeated sojourns to the bathroom. It's not pleasant.

It's even more unpleasant, of course, when you aren't near a bathroom...

Cue long winded story

Well over the last few months I've been dieting and exercising almost daily. In the evenings, whilst the boys have their tennis practice, I take a hike up the local hills which are a relatively short distance from the tennis club. So there I was last Wednesday evening striding away at about 6pm, contemplating the larger issues in life such as;

Why do dogs always crap in the centre of the path and never on the side?

Why do some dog owners pick up the dog muck, place in a pretty pink fragrant bag and then leave it hanging on a bush?

Why do some some dog owners wait till their dog has jumped all over me before they call Fido back to their side?

Yeah, there were a lot of dog issues going on in my mind. Not that I've anything against dogs. It's just sometimes it's a little hazardous along the pathways and I don't like cleaning shoes at the best of times. Especially smelly shoes. And I haven't got a foot odour problem so draw your own conclusions.

Anyway, there I was contemplating and power walking along the tracks when I felt a little twinge in my tummy. I raised a curious eyebrow. ( I've always wanted to write that.)  Hmm... I thought. Can't be anything serious I'm as fit as a fiddle. I strode onwards.

Suddenly, another sharper twinge, followed by a brief cramping pain.

Hmm...not good. Not good at all. A little alarm bell starts ringing in my head and thoughts of doggy do dos disappear and other more worrying thoughts materialize.

Ding-a-ling -ling Mrs T. Ding -a- ling-ling!

By this time I'm on the return journey and half way up a hill. Then, like a bolt of lightening, I get a really severe cramp in my tummy. Followed by another....and another. Now the alarm bell is ringing very, very, loud indeed.


It dawns on me I'm stuck in the countryside and at least 20 minutes fast walk from a bathroom and that very, very soon I am going to be in an acutely embarrassing situation. Another cramp hits my belly. I look up to the top of the hill - if I continue my walk I could end up dropping my knickers at the top of the hill in full view of two adjoining towns and the flight path to Luton airport. I realise I'm in very deep shit. (Not that shit - well not yet anyway.) Quickly, I decide to quit my walk and head back to the tennis club as fast as my legs can take me. I am moving it.  In fact my legs are moving faster than a rabid tortoise's as thoughts of Paula Radcliffe squatting on camera intrude into my mind. No way is Mrs T going be caught with her knickers down in public! No way! I turn up the speed as another cramp hits me...I leave the path and cut cross the hillside trying to make haste but the tall grass and uneven ground is actually slowing me down....

Another cramp. Now I've broken out into a cold sweat: I am dripping all over as the thought begins to cross my mind that I am still a good 15 mins away from the club and I'm feeling worse by the moment... and I might not have 15 mins. I'm tempted to break into a run but instinct tells me that running will stop me from clenching my buttocks and will most definitely be brown trousers before I reach safety of the undergrowth and woodland down by the disused railway track.

Yet another horrific pain hits my stomach. I finally accept the truth - I am not going to make it back. I am going to have to do the deed - in public.

Oh God. Why me? What have I done to deserve this? I promise to try harder at housework. And cooking. And all that other stuff I'm supposed to do but can't be bothered with.

Anyway, time is against me as I make haste to the railway track. I look in my pockets. Fortunately, I have tissues. I also have a packet of chewing gum. I contemplate using the gum to plug up mon derriere and hope that'll gave me enough time to get back to the club. But no, as another cramp hits me I realise that nothing is going to stop my little problem - nature is calling and ain't nothing gonna stop her now.

So I'm back on the railway track and looking for cover. I'm pounding down the path looking for an acceptable hidey hole. I have more sweat on me than if I done 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali. The clock is ticking away ...tick tock, tick tock....I probably have about 30 seconds before an almighty explosion of gigantic proportions takes place.

I glance up and down the track. No dog walkers. Thank God. I duck under the barbed wire and I'm into the undergrowth and bushes. I hear a rustle and have a moment of horror as I imagine a dog walker leaping out on me just as I drop my knickers...but a pigeon flies out of one the larger bushes.  I duck under some more wire... I'm into a dark recess with tree cover.....

I tear off my tracksuit top. Rip down my tracksuit bottoms and knickers and.......

Well you know the rest. Relief. Blessed relief.


Anyway, having hidden the evidence I got back on the track and for about 10 seconds actually contemplated going back to finish my walk - that was until I got another cramp. Then, once again... I was heading back off to the tennis club at breakneck speed.....

What I want to know I the only one that these embarrassing things happen to? Or has this happened to any of you folks out there? Now I met my friend Mrs S from The Book Club a couple of days later and felt sure she would say Oh yes, that's happened to me but it hadn't. In fact Mrs S looked mildly shocked/amused at my situation. You know, I thought this type of thing happened to everyone.. after all it's not the first time it's happened to me....

Well you see...there was this other time when Mr T and I were in remote Scotland and about 2 miles from our holiday cottage when suddenly (yes you've guessed it) I got acute stabbing pains in my stomach...

Anyway, to cut it short I had to drop my knickers. Only there was no tree cover at all. In fact, the only thing that saved my dignity was my leaping over a wall out of  Mr T's eyesight.

Mind you, the herd of cows on the other side weren't too impressed. In fact, Daisy looked pretty bloody shocked I can tell you.

Anyway, I'm better now and I'm back walking. In fact I've walked past my hidey hole several times and a curious thing has happened; I have a strange desire to go back. Now apparently serial offenders often go back to their scene of crimes so I'm not sure whether I've now gained have a secret desire to do "it" in public or whether I just want to be sure I've hidden the evidence well. Cripes does this mean I'm even more of a fruitcake than I imagined? Oh God, someone book me a place on the psychiatrist's couch. I'm a confused, disturbed woman!

Anyway - so I'm probably a certified fruitcake - but I think I've finally worked out why dogs always crap in the same place.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I shouldn't laugh BUT....

Let me explain.

Firstly, for those of you lucky people who don't have teenagers I need to point out a few things about the said species;

1. Teenagers are weird. They don't wash for years and then wonder why they look like they have the plague. Then, all of a sudden, when you've finally given up lecturing them on the art of cleanliness they start showering every single day, draining every last drop of hot water out of the system so you have no option but to take a freezing cold shower - or end up not washing like a teenager. (Oh - the fact that they have spots is ALL YOUR FAULT because they inherited your genes - it absolutely has nothing to do with the fact that their face hasn't seen soap and water since you stopped bathing them when they were 7.)

2. Teenagers talk in funny voices. Well....grunts actually. It sounds like a cross between a mating rhino and one of those snorts elderly MPs make when they drop off to sleep in the House of Lords. A conversation might go like this;

Mrs T: Can you tidy your room Sam? It's looks like it's been hit by a grenade.

Sam: Uhh?

Mrs T; Tidy your room please.

Sam: UHhhhhh yrrrrrr...Snort......Uhhu ummmmmmmmmmmmmHh!

Mrs T: I beg your pardon?


Mrs T; Wait a minute Sam, I'm just getting my Collins Dictionary of Snorts and Grunts out. Right, let me see.... UHHHHHHHHHH!!!UMMMMM! Right, I've translated that - I'll bring the vacuum cleaner up straight away.


Right, so basically what I'm saying is that they talk incoherent gibberish.

3. Teenagers develop strange eating habits. Sometimes they don't eat ALL DAY and then at 9pm they come out of hibernation and demand food;

It's 9pm and Young Sam enters the lounge;

Sam; Have you got anything to eat? (I'm translating this obviously.)

Mrs T: Yes thank you. (Tucking into Chilli Doritos)

Sam: I meant for me! (Again, I'm translating.)

Mrs T: Oh right. Well your tea is in the bin. Your lunch is in the cat bowl and I ate your breakfast. Work it out.

Sam: Haven't you got anything?

Mrs T: You'll have to have a look in the pantry. I'm too busy eating my Chilli Doritos. And how very tasty they are too.

4. Most teenagers won't have their haircut until you assure them that there is actually a family of blackbirds residing amongst the congealed mess that purports to be their hair. ( Note; have the dead bird that the cat brought in at hand to produce as evidence.)

5. Teenagers keep strange hours. When you get up, they go to bed. When you go to bed, they put on the CD player, PlayStation or, in my case, the dreaded XBOX 360.

Yes, for years readers I have been persecuted by Young Sam and his XBOX. However, eventually after various sojourns to his room in the early hours with polite requests (cough, cough) to turn the volume down he finally got the message that rapid machine gunfire and exploding nuclear bombs wasn't helping my insomnia. However, this still left me with the occasional disruption such as;

 a) The sudden movement of furniture and occasional banging - caused by Young Sam leaping to his feet and knocking over all nearby furniture in frenzied excitement.

b) Being woken at 2am, 3am, 4am and sometimes even 5am by shouts of ; "He's behind you!", "I've got him by the balls!", "One more time my friend and I'm gonna kick your ass!" and "Holy shit, that's a big gun."

c) Sam's midnight excursions to the loo. All the lights go on, he clumps downstairs from his bedroom (in loft)..clump, clump, various other noises of which I'm sure you can imagine.

Suffice to say, my insomnia has not exactly benefited by the delights of Young Sam owning an Xbox.

However, Dear Readers last night at 2.14 am precisely I had the pleasure of receiving the following email from Young Sam;

do you know where i can buy earplugs? turns out we've got some inconsiderate pr*ck in our flat who has no idea that there are 10 other people in here,

people like to sleep, i mean you thought i was bad on the xbox, you know shouting n' all,

well this guy was doing the same, with mates he'd let into our flat, at 3am-6am on a Monday morning.

it looks like it might be a regular occurrence too given the time i'm sending this e-mail

although now i've said it some guy from security showed up and got em' to p*ss off so i suppose its not that bad

but still, any idea where i can find earplugs?


Now obviously Readers my first thought was to email him back about his appalling lack of grammar and virulent language. However, then I decided to that would be cruel of me because he was obviously, very, very tired and I have been very tired myself so I know sometimes we say things we shouldn't when we are tired. So I sent him this email instead;


Oh how delightful! Sweet vengeance be mine!

You can buy earplugs at Boots, Superdrug or any decent chemists Sam.


Okay - I admit I did delete the other 3 pages of gloating I wrote but I think you get the idea.

Hmm.... so  university is proving to be an interesting experience for Young Master Sam.

I look forward to peace at last at night when he returns at Christmas.

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...