Friday, December 30, 2011

Is Bjork Bonkers?

Let's take bets. I'm only giving evens.

It's time for another of my Christmas Musical countdowns which, you may have guessed, is Bjork. So here she is singing Crystallline on the Jools Holland show back in November. I was fascinated by her performance - and the song has quite an addictive equality to it as well.



A pretty good song there me thinks. Strangely addictive. Bjork is defintely an original artist. But I have to ask - what the hell was going on with the 1980s' disco culottes and the platform boots? And that hair? She looks like she had an accident with some candy floss and a bucket of sick.

And what is this current craze with false eyelashes about? Apparently sales of false eyelashes have rocketed recently. To be honest, I think when you're eyes are so loaded up with mascara and lashes like Bjork it just looks like you've got two dead blowflies on your face or you've done a couple of rounds with Mike Tyson. I tried putting some on the other day and when I stepped back from the mirror I thought I looked like a zombified Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Cripes - I just looked up Bjork's wikipedia entry. We're the same age.

There for the grace of God, go I.

Anyway, talking of Bjork. I read this book earlier in the year. In fact, it might even have been last year.



The Blue Fox is written by a chap called Sjon, who also happens to write lyrics for Bjork. The novel is short and sweet and, like Bjork, strangely compelling. It's a fairytale about a fox and rather good it is too. Well that's probably putting it too simply but it is well worth the read. I got my copy from the local library as at the cost of 7.99 (at the time I considered purchasing it) I felt slightly annoyed as it is a mere 112 pages. I do wish these publishers would stop trying to screw us - especially with ebooks. I am, quite simply, not going to pay the same price for an ebook as for a paperback and no argument is going to convince me that I should!

Right, I'm going to go and get my boot polish out and scare the neighbours. I might even dust the windowsills  first and see if I can find some blowflies.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Indiana Jane Chronicles

One of the things I've noticed as I get older is that I spend considerably more time looking for things.

Unfortunately, the Fedora, the bull whip and the constant references to historical objects have not convinced Mr T that my quests are anything but acute memory loss. Not even all my diaries and notepads covered in scribbles and doodles have convinced Mr T that I am the next Indiana Jones.

Yeah, yeah I suppose my Ford Cmax isn't really a convincing Ark but, believe me, those keys to it are extremely difficult to find.

Although definitely not as hard to find as the Holy Grail. (My glasses.)

You know, the other day I spent a good ten minutes searching the tennis clubhouse for my reading glasses only to discover them on my head. I'm not saying I felt stupid but when someone asked me what I was looking for and I replied "my glasses" and they raised an amused eyebrow I had a feeling that were pretty close by. In fact, so close by that I actually touched my nose to see if they were poised on the end of my nose- where they have been known to be on the odd occasion. It actually turned out they were on the top of my head which, I suppose, is slightly more trendy - sort of Jackie O or Jackie Collins.

Only without the vast fortune and best selling novels.

Hmm.

But forgetting where you put your glasses or car keys isn't real memory loss is it? Everyone does that don't they? It's just a consequence of a busy life. Right?

Okay, okay maybe not. After all, you don't hear many pilots saying;

Good afternoon Passengers this is flight 306 to New York. The weather is fine and will be cruising at altitude of 35,000 feet and arriving at JFK at 16.00 hours. I hope you have a pleasant journey. Now, if everyone could just look under their seats for my keys we can take off....

Now I have a tradition in my house on Christmas Eve. Because I am so lazy organised I wrap all the kids presents on Christmas Eve after they've gone to bed. The theory behind this is sound - if I wrap them beforehand I can't remember what I've bought them so the only way to avoid buying duplicate presents is to keep them unwrapped so I can refresh my mind at various intervals throughout the year.

Now I can hear you saying I should write a list to remind myself - but think that through Readers. I might have a problem. Now, I have actually tried wrapping the presents before Christmas but that usually leads to confusion because, strangely though it might be - I usually forget to label them. This can lead to intense disappointment - I don't think Master Jacob has got over the year he got socks and a DIY book and Mr T got Play Doh and a whoopee cushion.

So on Christmas Eve this year as usual I started wrapping my presents. I wrapped them all. Except the two I couldn't find. Obviously. Every year I can't find something - but to be fair it is usually something relatively small which, after a few minutes looking for it under the influence of sherry, I decide to give up and allocate it to a forthcoming birthday. This means by August I will usually be able to find it.

Perhaps at this juncture I should say that on April 20th this year I found a jewellery roll that I'd "lost" four years earlier.

It was in the same place I always put it.

I do not understand. I believe there is evil at work in our house. Or Mr T is trying to drive me mad.

Anyway, to get back to my story - there were two presents I couldn't find on Christmas Eve. But not the usual small presents. They were LARGE presents for Young Sam - a pair of boots and a fleece jacket. (He's a student now so I'm trying to encourage him to walk.) I tore the house apart looking for them - where does one hide a pair of walking boots in a massive box I asked myself? In the tumble drier? In the loft? Under the bed? Needless to say, I could not find them anywhere...

So after about two hours I was full of despair, so much so that Mr T kindly suggested that at some point I might have left them in the hallway and an opportunist thief might have taken them.

Bullshit. (I was slowly coming round to the idea that Mr T had thrown the boxes into the recycling without checking the contents.)

AND THEN I REMEMBERED WHERE I HAD PUT THEM...

In the laundry cupboard?

In the cloakroom?

In my wardrobe?

In the pantry?

No, Dear Readers. I remembered...

I had already wrapped them and put them under the Christmas tree.

Yep, I'd forgotten I'd decided to forget about my Christmas tradition and wrapped them several days earlier to make my Christmas Eve more restful. Supposedly.

Does that make sense? Or have you forgotten what I was talking about?

Anyway, what a balls up. Two hours wasted. It just goes to show that you should never ever change the habits of a life time.

So next year I'm sticking to wrapping everything up on Christmas Eve. And I'm not going to forget that I've made that decision. Hopefully.

And when I write to Santa I'm going to ask for a new memory.

And several pairs of reading glasses.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Dangers of Men in Suits

When I was a child I was a movie addict - I still am but now I have less time to watch as many films as I would like. My tastes back then varied from war movies, psychological thrillers and dramas to musicals where suited men like Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly danced the night away with glamorous leading ladies dressed in sequins and pearls.

These days, movies which contain dancing are comparatively rare and when you do see them the men are usually a lot more risqué in their clothing and dance moves. No woman can fail to smile at the thought of Patrick Swayze bare chested in Dirty Dancing but does he really beat Gene Kelly tap dancing in those puddles in Singing in the Rain? I once saw Tommy Steele perform the same routine at the London Palladium. I was so mesmerized by Tommy I even failed to notice his teeth.


Anyhow, I've noticed that suited men dancing are a rare breed in movies or indeed anywhere these days  - except perhaps weddings, office parties and such like. So I want to issue a warning: Ladies - if you are unfortunate enough to see one of these strange cavorting creatures, please take precautions as I've notice there are three distinct phases of  dance technique which all women should be advised of...

Phase One - The Slightly Inebriated Stage: Arms to side, fingers pointing like a wild-west shoot out, mild hip thrusting. Usually attempting to move rhythmically but actually inflicting heavy bruising on partner's feet - or if approaching the second stage - inflicting partial blindness. Also, the suited man is frequently miming (badly) to I was made for Dancinby Leif Garrett, Dancing Queen by Abba or, if you're really unlucky, Contact by Edwin Starr. If the opening bars of  Contact result in the suited man clapping and grinning like a Cheshire cat you should make a quick exit before he moves completely into...

Phase Two - The Wholly Inebriated Stage: Legs at right angles, arms waving up and down aka John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, intense hip grinding and thrusting. Frequent screams, whoops and winking whilst rubbing crotch and whispering in your ear incoherent beer babble. This babble is usually an attempt to get your telephone number or (if married) a plea for sex in rear seat of your car - but actually sounds more like a recipe for Bubble and Squeak or a precursor to a heavy bout of vomiting. The opening bars of Thriller, Last Christmas or Hi Ho Silver Lining will result in the suited man performing rapturous applause or leaping up and down like pneumatic drill  or (worse case scenario) should the suited man have taken a toilet break, running from the bathroom doing up his flies screaming "This is my favourite song ever!" and grabbing the nearest person - which is usually the woman from HR, his maiden aunt or (if he's really unlucky) - his boss. He will then strut his way to centre of the dance floor and perform wild sexual gyrations whilst telling his new found dance partner that he loves them and wants to have their babies. This usually signifies - either the end of his career, the end of his marriage or a spell in rehab.

Phase Three - The Totally Legless Stage: There is very little dancing in this stage which is characterized by vague head movements, mouth opening and closing like a fish and saliva dribbling from the corner of the mouth. The man usually collapses onto the floor at this stage with other suited men of a similar disposition. The sign of impending group male unconsciousness is when they all form a long chain sitting behind each other, legs apart, and rock from side to side to the tune of Oops Upside Your Head by The Gap Band. As the suited men start to sway from side to side and wave their arms to the rhythm of the song the hypnotic effect of the motion takes effect and, one by one, they keel over and slip into a deep coma.

It is at this moment a wise woman puts a ten pound note in her suited man's pocket and drives home.

So there you have it; how men in suits are a danger to society. Hmm...this has been a rather a long-winded way of me getting to round to playing another of my Christmas Musical Countdown. The Song I'm going to play is Give Me Everything by Pitbull and features Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer. This song is definitely in my top three songs of the year as it's such a great  party dance tune. It also features Pitbull in a suit. I'm not sure what it is about Pitbull but strangely I find him rather attractive. It must be the music influencing me because after some serious consideration I'm pretty darn sure Pitbull is in Phase One....






Anyway, if you don't fancy Pitbull and some modern dance music why not try this - Gene Kelly in Dancing in the Rain.










Friday, December 23, 2011

Dear Santa No 2

Dear Santa,

There was something I forgot to mention yesterday.

Please, please, please can you not send my boys any Lego. I know it's selfish of me to ask but you have no idea how many hours I've spent picking up those darn pieces. Once, I even got trapped under the bed for three hours trying to rescue a miniature Lego Star Wars light sabre. I know I shouldn't have put on weight but frankly if Lego didn't exist the world would be a much safer place. Then there's been times I've got up in the night with my insomnia only to find myself hopping in agony in the hallway whilst emitting a silent scream having trodden on a rogue piece of Lego. Then there's been the countless hours I've been forced to spend building replicas of the Taj Mahal, the Houses of Parliament and the Eiffel Tower. It's not easy building those things - I mean have you ever tried building a circular dome with Lego? No?  Unless you've got the patience of a saint, a large bottle of whiskey or astigmatism you might as well strap yourself into a straight jacket.

There's also been all those times I've rescued pieces of Lego from about every human orifice possible. I'm only glad I invested in a Dyson vacuum cleaner because the suction on those things is remarkable. Oh - and there was the time I electrocuted myself rescuing a piece that had been surgically transplanted into the video machine inside a large lump of Play Doh.

So please, please, please Santa no Lego. The only type of Lego I like is the one below which is another of my favourite songs of the year. And just in case you're confused the chap in the video is Rupert Grint from the Harry Potter movies and, by the way, he needs some decent jeans too.

Thanks again.

Lots of Love,

Janie

Ps - No bloody jigsaws either.




Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dear Santa...

Dear Santa,

I haven't written to you in a really really long time but this year I have a very special request. I am desperate.  I have not been able to find what I want anywhere and I need some help.

Please, please, please, please can I have some jeans that fit? You know - those ones that stay up without a belt and super glue and don't regularly fall down showing your arse to the whole world.

I don't think it's much to ask and I have been a (fairly) good girl this year and well I don't really want to trouble Him Upstairs. Cos the chance is he's more into robes and wings and stuff and I reckon on your 364 days off you probably ditch that red gear and wear faded denims. You probably look really cool - a bit like a trendy Kenny Rogers. Only with Reindeer and an unhealthy interest in elves.

Thanks - I'll leave out a really big mince pie.

Big Kisses,

Janie





Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Musical Countdown No 2

What I want to know is how a ten year old boy can be such a lethal weapon? This morning the boys missed the school bus and as a result I was subjected to a car journey of extremely odious proportions. I literally felt sick! In fact, I had to open the windows and speed up from a stately 50mph to 60mph just to get some fresh air circulating in the car. Then, to top it all, Master Ben says;

"I didn't get sent to the Headteacher when we had sex education."

"Oh yes? And why were children sent to the Headteacher?"

"For laughing and giggling."

"And what did you do?"

"Oh, I just pulled this face."

Mrs T looks in mirror and sees THAT face. The "Mr Smug, I know it all, are you really wasting my time with this?" face.

Ten years old. I have a problem on my hands. Hmm.

Here's another of my favourite songs of the year. Reminds me of someone I know who looks as sweet as pie but is the devil is disguise!


Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Musical Countdown

Phew. I finished my IT course and passed. I've done two courses this autumn; the IT course and a teaching course. I haven't really decided what I'm going to do with the qualifications but one has to be practical and should I need to return to work they could prove valuable. My heart lies with the arts and I've always leaned towards creative expression be it with theatre, music, art and of course, writing. Unfortunately, the realities of life means that often we don't get to do the things we want to do most. There's probably a good chance I will always remain the frustrated artist!

Anyhow, now my courses are finished and I am beginning to make my Christmas preparations I thought it would be fun to play some of my favourite musical tracks of the year over the coming days. I'm a pop gal so don't expect any big surprises. So I'll begin with my current favourite - which may well turn out to be my favourite of the year - it's called Up by the hugely talented James Morrison and the equally talented Jessie J.  This is the sort of ballad that inspires me and makes me want to create, to dig down and reach those emotions which sometimes result in my more literary style of writing. Yeah, I know it doesn't happen very often. Enough said.

Enjoy.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

IT bores me to death

I have found the cure for my insomnia!

It's called Information Technology. Yes, the reason I've been silent lately is I've been doing an IT course which I have to finish by Friday.

And it is boring the pants off me. It has literally been sending me to sleep. It's so dull and mind numbing. There are pages and pages of stuff on screen that I have to work through (which are set at a pace that even a snail would be twiddling his feet impatiently) that I have been quite literately falling asleep at my computer. After about 15 minutes my brain begins to switch off, my eyes glaze over and my head hits the keyboard.

Amazing. All those herbal pills and milky drinks and bangs to the head I've tried to cure my insomnia with and all I had to do was take an IT course. The only trouble is I don't really fancy doing IT courses for the rest of my life. How dull would that be? I might become a technology geek and entertain my dinner guests with incredibly witty stories about how I solved a major technology meltdown by switching the computer off and then switching it back on again. (Yeah, the usual stuff technology geeks do.) Knowing my luck though, I'd probably end up dreaming about giant bullet points invading the earth or being buried alive by sheets of excel spreadsheets or being trapped inside a PowerPoint presentation with only Tom Cruise for company.

Anyway, all this excitement (yawns) means that whilst I've been getting some good sleep it's major panic stations as I still have a tonne of work to do by Friday (that's Friday as in TOMORROW) so as usual when it comes to exams I will using my favourite technique of flying by the seat of my pants. Unfortunately, technology is not a subject you can bullshit which poses me with a bit of a problem really.Hmm. Any ideas? Apart from failing? Sock it to me folks - I'm opening to any constructive ideas for cheating and blackmail.

Well that's my news. Mrs T, Housewife Extraordinaire, is on the verge of being bored to death by a technology course. Only wish I'd taken that pole dancing one instead. I feel sure I'd get more jobs offers with a pole dancing qualification.

On the other hand... (looks down at thighs).... maybe not.


Friday, December 2, 2011

The Journey (Flash fiction)


My hands grip the gate, the cold frame slides open like a mortuary drawer. I slip through, exhaling. It snaps back into place like the sharp recoil of a gun.
            A path lies before me, a stretch of pebbled stones giving way to sodden grass and soil. Branches of tall trees hang heavy, trailing like the tresses of a lover’s hair. A grey mist meanders, its cold, clammy fingers caressing me until my clothes cling like a second skin.
            Mud squelches around my feet, sealing my presence. Sharp thorns and sneering faces taunt me from the dark recesses of the forest. But there is no other path, so I push my hands deep into my pockets, taking comfort in the smooth metal my fingers encounter.
            My feet drag and my limbs ache as the path inclines. Sweat trickles down my face. I glance back, my body tingling as the track appears to close behind me. Yet I cannot falter, it’s the day I’ve waited for. The day of reckoning. I shiver and the silence hums like a mother’s whisper, cajoling me onwards.
            I see him waiting on the crest of the hill, a shadow in the twilight. I clench my fist; feel the imprint on my hand.
            He stretches out his hand towards me. I draw out mine.
            We are face to face for the first time.
            And, as a soft light rises, I place the rosary in his scarred palm.

Monday, November 21, 2011

On the Morning Watch

Well just to keep you informed I did eventually manage to get some sleep between 5 and 7am this morning. I'm not sure exactly how much but I was sleeping when Mr T woke me up with his usual endearment;


"If you don't get up the boys will miss the bus."


Interpret as you will.


Well the boys did catch their bus. Master Jacob had no school tie though and neither of them had brushed their teeth. Hmm. I hope my dentist isn't reading this; he gives me a really hard time if they're not brushing properly. It's like the Spanish Inquisition at my dentist. How many times are you brushing? Left to right? Gums? Backs of teeth? Electric? Blah, blah, blah, blah. It's enough to shock any decent mother into lying.


"I'm afraid bad teeth is genetic, Mr Dentist. I blame their father."


So anyway, I did actually get some sleep and because I was woken up suddenly I can also remember what I was dreaming about...


So I dreamt I was a secret agent during World War Two. (Obviously, the contents of my previous blog which mentioned secret agents had been instrumental in this turn of events.) In my role of secret agent I was to be parachuted into German occupied France.


With my horse.


Yes, even in my dream I thought it was odd. And I have to say I was bit worried that our shared parachute would break and we would both plummet to our deaths.


So I suspect you're imagining I was to ride the horse in Lawrence of Arabia style across the French Alps randomly taking out any passing Germans with my slingshot. Not so my friends. It was a far more cunning plan. I was to ride the horse to my destination (somewhere in France obviously) where I was to slaughter the poor animal. ( I watched Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall take his lambs to the abattoir last night - I looked away but it obviously still had an impact on me.) Now if watching Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall isn't gruesome enough in my dream my instructions were to turn my unfortunate horse's carcass into sausages.


I'm not sure why I was to make sausages- but I am assuming it was part of some cunning plan to poison the Fuhrer. Now the reason I don't know for sure is that the dream never got as far as that I was still in training and had to undergo some more essential exercises which, somehow or other, involved having sex with Hugh Grant. Now, if you remember I almost had a close encounter with Hugh Grant few weeks ago but Mr T's alarm clock woke me up just as it was getting interesting. Anyhow, the good news that this time I managed to squeeze in most of the encounter before (regrettably) switching back to the dilemma of how to safely share a parachute with a horse.


It's a strange world I live in. And dream in.


Now I've no idea why I should suddenly start dreaming about Hugh Grant. I don't even fancy him. Well not much. Maybe a little because he's funny and I like funny men. It could be because he's been in the news lately in relation to the News of the World telephone hacking scandal and even more recently fathering a child. Anyway, I'm not complaining. I'd like more dreams like that. Yes indeedy! The only problem was that when Mr T woke me up he was a bit taken aback when I pulled out a cigarette and said "How was it for you, Darling?" Fortunately,  I quickly realised my slip up so I leapt out of the bed (which would distract any man I can tell you) and screamed at the boys "Hurry up the bus goes in ten minutes!"


So there you go. I'm not sure what that dream was about really. I don't think it was anything deep and meaningful like psychologists would have you believe. However, if you want to interpret it for me please feel free to do so. (No need to interpret the Hugh Grant bit - I've worked that bit out already.)

On The Night Watch

Three small sherry sized glasses of wine and 2 cups of non decaff and I can't sleep. That'll teach me.  Who knows what I'd be like if I did drugs if this is what mere wine and coffee does to me. I can't sleep at all. Nope, not a wink. I can't even imagine what taking some LSD or such like would do to me - forget the hallucinations I'd probably have enough energy to swim the channel and back. I know that sounds impossible but if David Walliams can swim the Thames whilst he has tummy trouble I reckon I can swim the channel with insomnia.

You know, I keep wondering what the inside of David's wet suit looked like while he was swimming. I'm not having pleasant thoughts. 

Maybe he wore a diaper?

Still, at least my kids don't suffer from insomnia. If they did I reckon they'd be pretty shocked to discover on Christmas Eve that Santa is a cross dresser and looks like a middle aged women with an addiction to cotton wool.

I should be in the secret service. If I was captured by the enemy and they tried that old trick of not letting letting you sleep in order to wheedle out vital information I'd be able to laugh in their faces. In fact whilst my interrogators were asleep I'd simply undo the locks with metal keys fashioned from my bra clasps and walk free.

James Bond overcomplicates things don't you think? All that thuggery when he needs to get out of a tricky situation. Maybe he should just wear a bra.

Hmm. Could be kinda kinky. Daniel Craig in Elle MacPherson's latest underwear collection. There's definitely a feature film in that. I nominate myself as script writer.

I've made myself a milky drink. That's supposed to work with insomnia isn't it? It doesn't usually for me but well I might as well try the simple methods before I bang myself over the head with the rolling pin. The rolling pin method does work but I feel bad for Mr T when I tell him he's been having nightmares and clubbing seals in his sleep. 

Well not that bad obviously. Amused maybe.  

Well nearly 5am. Time to hit the sack and see if sleep comes. I have to get up at 7am so I need to take emergency action.

I'd better go and find the rolling pin.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's a turkey Jim, but not as we know it!

Gosh. This morning I learnt a very interesting fact about my American friends.

They deep fry their turkeys!

And I thought Bush had just been pensioned off.

Oh come on. Don't get grumpy with me. It's just a joke! We have turkeys too in this country. Most of them have wings though. However, I'm prepared to believe Blair and Brown were turkeys and what's more I'm prepared to deep fry them too. In fact, I'd been happy to spit roast them.

Nothing like a red hot poker and a politician with his pants down to bring a smile to my face.

Yep, so I came across this video starring the lovely William Shatner of Star Trek fame on the subject of  deep-frying turkeys:




Right. I'm coming clean. I kinda have a crush on Bill Shatner. I don't think I've ever got over that original Star Trek series and I've loved just about everything he's ever done  - even T J Hooker. I'm not sure what that means - maybe I just have bad taste? But I do love his self-effacing humour though - it really makes me giggle. I can't believe those rumours, originating from other members of Star Trek cast, that he was rude and arrogant - maybe there was a little jealousy going on? After all, Bill was exceptionally handsome and had the starring role in one of the most famous TV series of all time and what's more he didn't have to wear false ears or be stuck in Engineering all the time. I mean he had all the dolly birds and the most impressive phaser. Who wouldn't be jealous?

So back to turkeys. I can't believe my American Friends deep fry their turkeys! Do any of my American Readers want to enlightened me as to why? Bill implies it makes them more juicy. Really? I thought it would make them.... well sort of dry and burnt. Wouldn't they shrivel? You know - like a man's testicles when he gets in hot bath water.

Or when your wife drops a can of beer on them just after you've had a vasectomy. Not that I've ever done that of course. (Cough, cough.)

(Awaits imminent arrival of divorce papers.)

Anyway, over here in the UK we just ram the turkey in the oven and hope for the best. Well I do. It usually works out okay. And, if not, there's always curry sauce.

Three cheers for curry sauce (from a jar obviously) one of the world's best inventions!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Is a Blog a Liability?

Let me think about that question.

Um.

Yes.

How do I know this? Well this morning I spoke to my good friend Mrs B who said to me;

"Jane, I've seen a job you could do!"

Cue Mrs T getting all excited. A job suitable for Mrs T? There's not many of them around! I did think about applying for a job as a school chef a short time ago but I'm not good at cooking and I don't want to be associated with lumpy mash potato. Anyway, I decided to quit while I was ahead - I mean nobody likes to get sacked - so I saved myself the anxiety and didn't apply in the first place. Now I know you lot probably don't think I'm that bad at cooking so I might as well tell you that recently Master Jacob lodged a formal complaint about my toast. Apparently, I burn it. Hmm...and I just thought it was "well done."

Humph. I like my toast "well done". Who wants soggy toast? Not me. I hate toast that's all limp and drips marmalade down your tee-shirt. I used to have soggy toast all the time when I was living in university halls because at breakfast they rammed all the toast together in a tray and it sweated. I spent three years wearing an orange tee-shirt and smelling of citrus fruits. I don't suppose the smell was too bad but finding those marmalade chunks stuck on my chin during lectures was pretty embarrassing. I'm not even going to mention the Marmite incident. Only to say that we were studying Martin Luther King at the time and I got thrown out of my tutorial.

Some people just take things too seriously don't they? And all those left wing lecturers have no sense of humour do they? I mean when was the last time you heard a Leftie tell a joke?

Um... let me think 1789. When Robespierre said:

"I sink we should decapitate see King and  Marie Antoinette! Zay 'ave far too much monet and far too many wigs.  Sose wigs are far too expenzive. When zey are dead we will 'ave so much more monet to give to ze poor!"

Some time later...


"General Robespierre, we 'ave executed zee King and zee Queen and we 'ave sent all zee wigs too zee market! Soon there will be monet for everyone!

"Oh no, no, no, no. You fools! It was a joke! Now sere vill be a reign of terror!"

Anyway, I like my toast "well done" and  if I make too many slices I can always use the spare ones as Frisbees. Or one of those Japanese shurikens.

Now where was I before I went off about toast? Right, so Mrs B directed me towards this job which admittedly did sound like one I could do. It even had the word "flexible" in the job description. I don't mean just "flexible" in the context that they want you (as most employers mean) to drop everything at their convenience but "flexible" in a give and take kind of way. Amazing.

So I looked at the job description. It held some promise. Mrs T is a bit rusty but well with a bit of blagging I decided I could probably do it.

The only trouble is - the job is for the local Conservative Association.

So what if it was discovered I write a sometimes "politically incorrect" blog? Imagine the headlines...

MP HAS NUTTER AS SECRETARY. GOVERNMENT POLICIES RIDICULED ON WEB BY PSYCHOPATHIC WOMAN WHO POSED AS DULL MIDDLE CLASS HOUSEWIFE.

You know, I quite fancied that job. Lots of interesting things to do. Only part time. Occasionally I even like discussing subversion politics.

There might even have been the odd occasion when the MP was in residence that I might have taken him some tea and toast.

Evil laugh.

However, even though this blog isn't a political blog and is essentially humorous in content I'm inclined to think my writing is a bit of a liability for that kind of a job. In fact, I suspect it could be deemed a liability for quite a few jobs.

Hmm.

You know, if your being rude about your employer in a public forum then you are indeed a liability to the company. There's already been quite a few such incidents in the blogosphere and other social networking sites resulting in the sacking of employees. In those circumstances, if you lose your job then my opinion is you have to take the consequences on the chin. However, sometimes I have a sneaking suspicion that even though many people/institutions tout free speech as a prerequisite of democracy they don't actually like it.

An interesting thought don't you think?



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Bike with One Big Wheel and One Small Wheel

Not so long ago I wrote a post called On Yer Bike which related a story about how Master Ben had asked me if I had a bike with "one big wheel and one small wheel" when I was young.

Now Master Ben is 10 years old. It is acceptable for him to not know the correct name for such a bike.

However, it has come to my attention that across the world almost daily people are Googling "Bike with one big wheel and one small wheel" and arriving on my blog.

Obviously, I am hoping they are all school children. However, as I am nothing but generous I am now delighted to finally make use of my history degree by informing the world that the "Bike with one big wheel and one small wheel" is actually called a ...

 PENNY FARTHING




Now for a small fortune I will regale you with the story of how my grandmother invented the Penny Farthing. (You may recall my story of how she also invented the rugby ball.) However, if you want the truth just try Wikipedia or a history site. I'm not big on the truth - although my grandmother was but that's because people looked up to her and respected her.

That's what happens when you're 9ft 7" and have arms like a wallaby and legs like a giraffe.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Big Expensive Mess

I think this story  is most one of the most entertaining stories I've ever read. Certainly equal to the story about the woman who knocked herself out on her loo roll holder. 

Apparently, a cleaner in a German museum mistook an exhibit for a big mess and cleaned it  up. The exhibit was entitled "When It Starts Dripping From the Ceiling" and featured "a tower of wooden slats under which a rubber trough was placed with a thin beige layer of paint representing dried rain water."

Personally, I think the cleaner deserves an award; if the art looked like a pile of crap it probably was. It's hard to believe it had a price tag of 1.1 million dollars attached to it.

Hmm.... maybe it's an inside job. Perhaps the museum just got tired of seeing a stain on the floor and decided to fake a claim? I mean a stain on the floor and some old slats is hardly a Turner or a Picasso is it? I reckon they just got fed up with having to walk round the unsightly mess and just got some poor hausfrau to clean it up for a couple of frankfurters and a weekend break to Poland.

There's something in this "Modern Art" malarkey. I'm looking for a job and not getting anywhere. Perhaps I should rekindle my artistic ambitions? I have an A level in Art surely that must qualify me as artist??? Hmm... I don't think I was revolutionary enough though when I was studying; I should have been more creative, more innovative. I should have let myself get in touch with my deep-seated psychological disturbances and interpreted them in an abstract cosmic fashion in order to define the metamorphosis of the human mind from the embryonic stage of the foetus to a fully fledged adult in juxtaposition with the universe. A sort of metaphysical interpretation of the human mind in relation to its earth mother.

Yeah, well something like that.

You know, I have a really greasy grill pan. I'm going to call it "When it Starts Dripping From The Bacon" and send it to The Tate.

Hmm. Now I'm not sure now. "When it Starts Dripping From The Chicken" sounds  better. Oh the dilemmas, the dilemmas we artist have! I'm in such a flap now I'll have to create two greasy grill pans and compare them - then I can sell the best pan to The Tate and the one that comes second to the Germans.

No particular reason.

I think I'll have to mount the German exhibit on a very small podium. What d'you reckon?

Oh God, now I'm sure at all about the German exhibit. Maybe it should be frankfurter fat and not chicken or bacon fat?

Oh, it's so, so difficult being an artist. I'm in such a tizz now I'll have to check into rehab.

Hmm... that'll probably increase the value of my work tenfold. All I have to do now is cut off my ear and I'll never have to work again.

Genius, pure genius.


Friday, October 28, 2011

The Afflictions of Facial Hair (Part Two)

Further to my previous post The Afflictions of Facial Hair I've been doing some scientific analysis on how this problem affects women as they grow older. I have now formalized this research into an easy-to- read chart so that the male of the species can fully appreciate the problems us women encounter.




This means that if you happen to be a brunette like my good self  by the age of 60 you will look like this:


Now it has always annoyed me that "blondes have more fun". However, it annoys me even more that when blondes forget to shave they don't have to suffer the embarrassment of people asking why there is a small gerbil attached to their armpit.

Which, of course, has never happened to me. In fact, Mr T will vouch for the fact that I never ever had a small gerbil under my armpit.

He may though say that he has seen a large domestic guinea pig.

Anyway, I am sure my brunette readers will pleased to know that on a recent stroll down the High Street I saw a blonde lady who looked like this:


Needless to say on seeing this woman my heart leapt with joy.

Anyway, since it is only 8 weeks to Christmas I hope I have provided sufficient evidence for all you gentlemen Readers who may have partners over 40yrs why you should purchase a (minimum) £500 voucher for laser hair removal for your beloved - unless, of course, you want to make love to werewolf. ( Please remember some women over 40 may be suffering  menopausal symptoms and can be prone to wild and dangerous behaviour.)

Oh, and if you want to chuck in a day at a luxury health farm that would also be pretty good.

Also Dear Mr T  Readers it might be a good idea to make it two tickets to the luxury health spa in case your wife wants to take a friend.



Monday, October 24, 2011

SLOW DRIVERS DRIVE ME MAD

I have just had one of those days where you want to scream, scream, scream.

For a start, it's a Monday so ..

SUNDAY DRIVERS SHOULD NOT BE OUT ON THE ROAD.

Yep, everywhere I went today, whatever the speed zone, there was always some Sunday driver doing about 20 mph less than the speed limit. It makes me want to tear my hair out. For God's sake, if they feel that nervous about driving why the hell can't they just GET OFF THE ROADS.

Not that I'm cross or anything you know. Just mildly put out.

Then of course there's those drivers who practically come to a standstill to turn a corner. In fact one person was so slow today I thought they were actually going to park in the middle of the road.

What is wrong with these people? Do they know that roads are for driving cars on? Or do they think that everyone else behind them is in a pony and trap and has 6 weeks to cross to the other side of town? I swear to God I aged about 20 years behind all those Sunday drivers today. The veins were throbbing in my temple, my head was about to burst, I was ready to KILL. Why, why, why are these people on the roads? Let's face it Readers - I'm going to be contentious here - but these people probably shouldn't be allowed to reproduce -cos otherwise in about 50 years there won't be anyone left who drives over 15 miles an hour on the motorways.

I want  a Star Trek transporter so I can just beam myself anywhere I want to go - although not before I've beamed myself into the front seat of the car in front and tasered the occupants.

Yep, so anyway after a stressful day watching Master Jacob play tennis I finally got home and needing to sit an IT exam I went to the IT test centre where no pre-booking is required. Now on the forms it quite distinctly says it is open to 8.00pm.

It is not. It is CLOSED. And that Readers is why I am writing this post.

Ever had a day when you feel a bit pissed off  irritated?

For a previous rant on Sunday Drivers read this

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Canter Around The Cheltenham Literary Festival


As I grow older time seems to pass more quickly. A whole year has now passed since I visited the Cheltenham Literary Festival and enjoyed a weekend listening to some our most famous contemporary authors talk about their lives and work. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it to the festival this year so here for your enjoyment (I hope) is a review I wrote for The View last year.... 

I've often wondered about authors’ personalities and how much of their characters are reflected in their work. There are so many colourful stories about past literary giants it’s become almost impossible not to speculate about some of our more influential contemporary writers.

So, a few weeks ago, I took the opportunity to travel down to Cheltenham, the home of Britain’s oldest literary festival, to have a nose at some of our most revered authors as background to a possible review. Would I hear stories of pimples and pox, quail’s eggs and quills or just boring biros and messy manuscripts?  Either way, Cheltenham with its wide avenues, imposing Regency architecture and pavement cafes is the perfect place for luvvies from the arts to meet up and discuss the latest gossip in the book world.

My first stop was The Everyman Theatre where I’d lined up a whole day of literary events. The first of which was an audience with the very popular Sebastian Faulks, author of the prizewinning Birdsong, who was there to discuss his latest novel A Week in December.

Faulks, in a voice which reminded me of a smooth creamy latte, related how he’d approached  A Week in December, a novel which traces the lives of a group of Londoners over a period of 7 days. Originally, his ambition was to portray London in an almost Dickensian manner, as a reflection of modern times. However, as the novel progressed it started to alter becoming more cynical and humorous as he began to suffer from the peculiarly British habit of self-mockery.

Whilst Faulks might have felt a little thwarted by his change of direction, I don’t think many will complain about the end result or the wonderful characters in A Week in December such as the obsessed banker and the mean spirited book critic to name but two. However, it is clear that he still aspires to produce an epic, meaningful novel, recounting modern life.  Faulks says he continues to remain an “idealist” and a “romanticist” and listening to him added weight to my thought that he is, in essence, an emotional man who is very much concerned about society and how relationships and individuals function within it. I’ll certainly read any epic he might yet produce although I’m hoping his “romanticism” won’t extend to another Literary Review Bad Sex Award as it did for Charlotte Gray. Fingers crossed anyway.

Right, up next was Salman Rushdie. Now, I’m going to plead the ignorance of motherhood here; I’ve been so busy (for 22 years) I haven’t manage to read The Satanic Verses. The truth is when my children were younger my brain was so befuddled I could barely read. So, regretfully, I went to see Mr Rushdie with an opinion coloured by the media and the furore over The Satanic Verses.

Rushdie entered the auditorium with the gait of a man heading towards old age and, in a rather priestly manner, stood at a lectern to read from his latest novel Luka and the Fire of Life. For a moment I thought I might nod off as his voice doesn’t have the appeal of Faulks’ mellow tones but is more of a Tesco’s own brand. Decaffeinated. However, suddenly he gathered momentum and was off narrating Luca’s adventures with the pace and intonation of a skilled actor. He totally blew away my preconceived ideas of him and his writing.

Like Luka and the Fire of Life, the story of a boy who goes on a quest to save his father’s life, on stage Rushdie is witty, imaginative and highly entertaining.  There’s definitely a bit of the showman and raconteur in him and one gets the impression too that he rather likes being centre stage. But then, when you’ve been stuck in the limelight for most of your adult life that’s probably just as well - although I’m sure with the controversy over The Satanic Verses there were many times he might like to have hidden in the wings. Unsurprisingly, its apparent Rushdie strongly advocates free speech and dislikes political correctness. He believes that if people wish to set their own personal boundaries, as he does, that is perfectly understandable. However, when societies dictate to the individual he believes it is unethical and an infringement of civil liberties. And as he good humouredly put it- if people are rude about you “if possible just say stuff they don’t like in return.” Rushdie is currently working on his memoirs and I can only imagine that with his wit and wisdom it will be a thoroughly compulsive read.

So during a coffee break I jotted down my thoughts about Mr Faulks and Mr Rushdie;

Faulks: Obviously sceptical about book critics. (Blast- scrub review.) Was that really a brown suit??(Get eyesight tested.) Aspires to literary genius. (Send frilly shirt.)
Rushdie: A bit kinder about critics. (Hurrah -order backlist.) Nice suit and tie.  (Check M&S website) Have suspicion he thinks Dan Brown is tripe. (Shred Da Vinci Code.)

Then, having made my notes, it was time to take my seat for Martin Amis. Oh dear, dear, dear. You see, I’ve been struggling with his latest offering A Pregnant Widow and my struggling with a book often results in my reviewing it. Because basically- it’s a lot more fun. Sorry, I’m just shallow like that. But the problem is that Mr Amis went to Oxford and he’s clever. Frightfully clever.  What would happen if I totally got the wrong end of the stick about A Pregnant Widow? Would I incur the wrath of the mighty Mr Amis? I was shaking in my stockings at the very thought and decided the best thing to do was to shelve my original review title of Amis went to Oxford, I went to Bangor and his Book went to Oxfam and perhaps go for The Pregnant Pause- well at least till I finished it.

Amis is an intriguing character though. He has an air of confidence in his speech and language that goes with a man whose life has been steeped in literature, history and politics and who knows that even on a bad day he could probably win most arguments. Listening to his deep, slightly clipped, rich espresso voice I couldn’t help but edge forward on my seat to hear everything he had to say. Yet, despite his apparent confidence he also has an air of fallibility which is portrayed in his nervous movements; fiddling with tissues, touching his hair, his socks, his trousers. By the time the interview was over I found myself wanting to finish The Pregnant Widow - even if that did mean resisting the temptation to get out my red pen and do some slashing. Still, there are a lot of breasts in The Pregnant Widow so that always makes good reading- even if only to compare to my own (smallish) pair.

Amis: Likes women. (Excellent.) Probably likes sex- a lot. (Check to see if nominated for Literary Review Bad Sex Award.) Diminutive. (Send congratulatory note to Tom Cruise.)

With my three literary authors done and dusted it was time for me to take a sojourn to see my uncle, retired writer and practising yoga luvvie, who brews coffee that makes your head spin. So by the time I returned to The Everyman and sat through 75 minutes of Jilly Cooper (Double decaff raspberry syrup macchiato) and Libby Purves ( Fair trade filter) larking around in a frivolous and fun back slapping session, my head was spinning so much I thought I was a horse. Or maybe Jilly Cooper thought she was a horse? I dunno - I can’t remember - although I do remember I lost count of how many times the words “horse” and “larky” were mentioned. Apparently, Jilly’s heroines are all “larky.” Excellent. I’ll say no more for fear of being cast as critic Anne Chisholm was (as a goat) in Jilly’s latest novel Jump! However, just to give you a clue about the book; it’s about horses. And larky women. Now there’s a surprise!

Cooper: Likes Horses. (Obviously only because she’s one of the few women skinny enough to wear jodhpurs.) Too many “larky” women. (File complaint about overuse of said word.) OMG Jump! is over 700 pages. (Use as doorstopper after shredding Da Vinci Code.)

My day finally over, I made way to my hotel, mulling over which book to review now that I’d seen my potential victims up close and personal. Amis had been the initial front runner with his tale of 1960s sexual revolution but Cooper had jumped into the lead at the last hurdle with a dashing tale of horses, jockeys and incredibly larky women. Faulks was still tailing at the rear with his spiteful book critic but Rushdie was making a late comeback with a challenge in the final furlong on a magic carpet.

Oh what was I to do?!

Eventually, confused, bewildered and completely knackered I decided to sleep on it. But, alas, during the night as I was plagued by hideous, cruel dreams of Faulks incarcerating me in a mental hospital, Rushdie placing a fatwa on me, Amis calling me a flat chested imbecile and, worst of all, my turning up in Cooper’s next novel as a horse called Mrs Turdey.

Hmm… I guess that means that if I dish out some criticism I have to be prepared to take some back?

But let’s get real, criticism and discussion can be valuable tools for the fledgling writer and whilst most established authors may be interested in their reviews they’re mainly wise enough to know that life, and books, are rich and diverse and you’ll never please everyone all the time. And, whilst there may indeed be good and bad writers, when you’ve been at the top of the game for as long as Faulks the romantic idealist, Rushdie the magic realist, Amis the postmodernist and Cooper the queen of chick lit there’s no disputing their status as icons of British literature.

So, the next day, I left Cheltenham thinking maybe I should cast my potential piece aside and review dead authors just as the critic in A Week in December ends up doing. It wouldn’t be half as much fun though and, more importantly, who would I review? I could only think of literary geniuses until suddenly a thought crossed my mind….

Barbara Cartland.

But you know it seemed unfair as the dead can’t defend themselves. So guess what? I wrote this.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hold me back - I'm gonna blow soon

Almost everyday I see them. They are everywhere; on street corners, in town centres, in the parks, propped up against railings and walls.

They are driving me insane. When I see them I am physically repulsed. Sometimes the sight is so bad my eyeballs are practically popping out of my head.

Recently though, not only has my stomach been even more queasy than normal but I have found words bubbling in my throat, tripping around tongue, imploring me to allow them to burst forth.

Any day soon Readers I know that fateful moment is going to arrive when I wind down the window on my car and yell...

"PULL UP YOUR TROUSERS - I DO NOT WANT TO SEE YOUR BUTT!"

Yep, and when I get a mouthful of abuse in return I shall give my parting shot...

"Nice cheeks - shame about the boils."

Yep, I can't stand them any longer. I mean why bother? Why not just walk around in your underwear. In fact why not roll up your trousers and stick them on your head. You could go camping in them - put the flies over your head and you have an instant zip up tent or you could starch them and use them as teepee.Or why not just go the whole hog and leave the legs flopping either side of your head and swear allegiance to Bugs Bunny. Cos let's face it with your butt hanging out for everyone to see you might as well be a full time clown.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Thoughts on Womankind and My Mother

It was three years ago on Saturday that my mother died. It was the most traumatic 24 hours of my life. Without warning, my beautiful mother and closest friend was taken from me by a brain hemorrhage.

Sometimes, the nights seem quite long.

I'm going to post the song Moves Like Jagger which, rather than make me feel even more sad, will make me feel better. Mum and I had very similar, almost identical tastes. In fact, we could wander round a department store, meet up half an hour later and find we'd both selected the very same item - and if it wasn't exactly the same it was the same article just in a different colour-way. I guess we were both on the same wave length.

Mum always kept up with modern music and films so I'm pretty darn sure she would have loved this song. She probably would have had a few succinct words to say about Mick Jagger as well. Well I would have - and Mum would have diplomatically said "Well, you know I preferred Rock Hudson."

Hmm. I think Mum was slightly aghast Rock turned out to be gay.

Anyway, it's a great song and I'm pleased to see the lovely Christina Aguliera with her clothes on for once. They say sex sells but why very talented ladies like Christina, Rhianna and Madonna feel the need to dress like whores most of the times befuddles me. I've no issues with sexuality and I'm quite happy to admire the female and male form (obviously - cough - I'm slightly more interested in the male form ) but really I think some of these ladies don't do womankind (and young girls in particular) a favour dressing like they just left a strip joint.

Hmm. Looks like this is heading into a conservative rant. Excellent. I haven't a rant since - Friday. My standards must be slipping!

Interestingly, whilst I was researching an article on illiteracy earlier in the year, I read a book called Boys Adrift - The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men By Leonard Sax. Those five factors were: video games, teaching methods, prescription drugs, environmental toxins and the devaluation of masculinity. It was an excellent book and put into words and provided evidence for some of the thoughts I've had about young men/boys for a long time. I recommend it to anyone with sons - particularly if you feel they are demotivated and are wondering where things are going wrong. Anyhow, there was a quote in the book from a lady who said young women dress with much of their bodies on show because that's the only way they can get a man's attention - otherwise young men are all too often absorbed in their PlayStations and X boxes. In other words- young women they feel they have to compete with Lara Croft.

I do feel there's some truth it that statement. Particularly as I know through my own sons' habits and having many friends and acquaintances who also have sons that video games are highly addictive. Personally, I like to keep my sons away from them as much as possible. However, on the other hand, I do think women should accept responsibility for their own actions and I'm inclined to think that some female celebrities should be more responsible especially when they are viewed as icons by younger women and children. Are women demeaning themselves and other women by being so sexually explicit in the public eye? What do you think? I think that whilst feminism means a woman has the right to do as she pleases, to wear what she pleases and say "No" whenever she wants I'm not sure that such lack of inhibition encourages respect of the female form or of womankind in general.

It's a big area for debate. Probably not one best tackled at 5 am in the morning. Anyway, here's Maroon 5 with Moves like Jagger. This one's for Mum.



Saturday, October 15, 2011

Me, The Car Parking Officer and Clint Eastwood

Do you remember my vitriolic letter about my car parking ticket?  Well another car parking "incident" occurred yesterday when I may or may not have been illegally parked near to my son's school.

Now I hastened to add if I was such a person who may or may not been illegally parked it would be because of the very difficult situation of  a certain school being in the town centre with insufficient adjacent car parking  facilities. Now, if like the good Mrs T, you have to dash off to pick up another child and then dash off to tennis and can't afford the time to go to a car park further away you have no alternative but to either keep driving around and around in circles (which in my opinion creates even more congestion and risk when there are children running all over the place) or find a discreet and safe place to park.

So yesterday, when I may or may not been illegally parked, suddenly out of the sun strolled a Car Parking Officer. (Mrs T spits on floor and stabs small pin through voodoo doll.) Anyway, there's a black satchel  strapped to his side, his tie is at angle and there's a particularly mean squint in his eye...

 He looks at my number plate and taps firmly on my window.

I gulp and wind down the glass. He looks down at me.There's a glint of menace in his eye as out of the corner of his mouth he says;

"A good woman always knows her limitations"


I  baulk and quickly check in the mirror. He means business. Is my lippy still on? Am I having a good hair day? I take off my sunglasses and put on my sweet innocent look and run my tongue suggestively around my lips.

"Yes, Officer?

He bends down closer to the window and leans in...

"I know what you're thinking Lady. Has he done enough tickets for the day? Did he make five bookings or six? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But being as this is .44 ticket machine, the most powerful ticket machine in the world and could blow your tax disc right off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well do ya, Lady?"


Hmm. This guy is wacko. He needs taking down a peg or two. And I'm the one to do it; I'll try the nice option first.


"Nothing wrong with ticketing Officer...as long as the right people get ticketed."


He steps back and raises an a cynical eyebrow. I undo the top button of my blouse and fan my face as he steps closer again.

"In this world there's two kinds of people, Lady. Those with loaded ticket machines and those without. You're without."


"Really officer? I smile sweetly, steeling myself for a fight. The nice tactic isn't working. I'll have to take a different direction.

 " You know what Officer? Opinions are like assholes; everyone has one."

"Listen, Lady!" he yells. "To me you're nothin' but dog shit, you understand? And a lot of things can happen to dog shit. It can be scraped up with a shovel off the ground. It can dry up and blow away in the wind. Or it can be stepped on and squashed. So take my advice and be careful where the dog shits!


I lose my temper. The guy is a complete jerk and probably stalks Clint Eastwood. Unfortunately, for him I've also watched every Clint movie.


"Look Officer -This stuff isn't getting to me - the shootings, the knifings, the beatings. Old ladies being bashed in the head for their social security checks. Nah that doesn't bother me. But you know what does bother me? You know what makes me really sick to my stomach? It's watching you stuff your face with those tickets! Nobody - I mean nobody puts car parking tickets on a pregnant woman!"


He looks shocked; I know more quotes than he does. I run my hands over my belly and let a tear form in the corner of my eye. He hesitates, a slow look of remorse spreading over his face.


"I have strong feelings about illegal parked cars," he mumbles. " If they're around, I want to be controlling them. But...... this time Lady I'm gonna let you off.


I give him a radiant smile. "Thank you Officer. You know what? You've made my day."

______________________________

Yep, so yesterday I got off a parking ticket. The conversation didn't exactly go quite like that. But well you know me...sometimes my imagination runs rife...

Besides, I like an man in a uniform. Obviously I prefer them with a gun rather than a ticket machine. But hey, where needs must.

Ps - I got off the other car parking ticket too. Ah sweet joy.

Pps - I'm not pregnant. I just have excess baggage.

Friday, October 14, 2011

How much did you say?

The cost to supply and fit a new kitchen mixer tap is £144.00.

How much did you say???

£144.00

Are you an "executive" plumber or does the tap come with bells and an inbuilt stereo?

Are you taking the mickey, Love?

Absolutely not. Merely making a polite enquiry.....

Well, that was the conversation in my head anyway. There was also some imagery involving a deep fat fryer and some fried meat balls.  So, Readers, what do you reckon? Is £144.00 legit? Now, the request was for a basic tap so the bulk of the amount would be labour. I'm also assuming that like 95% of the workman who have ever come to my house the preference would be for a "cash" payment.

So, I just watched this video;




So how much time for an experienced plumber to replace the sink with no unexpected problems arising? Shall we be generous and say an hour and put a price tag of £44.00 on the tap? So that's £100 an hour for labour. Sure, he's got about 10 mins travel time and petrol costs but I still reckon that's a healthy profit.

Hmm. What do you Readers say? Am I being unrealistic? Do you think £144.00 a fair price?

Now bearing in mind not long ago I replaced the screen on Master Ben's ipod myself at the cost of about £10  (Apple have a standard repair price of £106.44 for a 16GB 2nd generation ipod touch) I can't help feeling a little sceptical about some of the charges these workman come up with. Yep, and I've had many of them at my house over the years. The bad news for them is that it doesn't take much brains to work out how much things cost and add reasonable labour costs. Finding a reliable, honest and fair minded workman is like finding gold dust. You know, I don't mind paying for a job done well and, more importantly, for a workman that keeps to his promises but I do feel sometimes they look at me and think I'm an easy target.

As they say, there's no honour amongst thieves.



Thursday, October 13, 2011

Master Ben and his Plastic Machine Gun

Well since I've figured out how to use Windows Movie Maker I thought I'd post an amusing video I found on my camera about 18 months or so ago. It's Master Benedict's first attempt at a documentary which unfortunately involves attempted cat murder and some dubious shots of my carpet. However, it is rather funny. I think Master Ben might have a future in film. Or maybe in an institution.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Equality and Diversity. Yeah, right.

Okay, so this is a rant. I figure I need one. I've been working too hard and need to let off some steam.

So let's talk about equality and diversity. Now those of you who have read this blog for a long time know I'm a gentle, fair minded soul.  I believe in equality. I have absolutely nothing against small people called Tom who star in major movies and who may or may not wear platforms. In fact, I defend every man's right to wear platforms. It's a free world and let's face it - some people would have difficulty looking over the sweet counter without heels.

Anyway, I recently filled out a job application form which wanted to know my sexual orientation. ( The student advisor job - see a previous rant.)  Well, I have to admit I was a bit taken aback by such boldness and I felt rather like rolling up the application form and sticking it right up their backsides... then I thought that might suggest peculiar sexual fetishes so maybe that wasn't actually a good idea. Not that I have anything against rolled up application forms - just not up the backside. On the backside is a different matter of course - but let's not go there - this a clean site. Well so I keep telling Mr T. Mind you, he still thinks this is a blog about flower arranging.

So, here's a question. By asking my sexual orientation are employers/gov really monitoring statistics or are they indulging in positive discrimination? You tell me. Was I right to be a little upset? Now don't forget Readers I have been away from the job market for a long, long time so I'm used to that old fashioned concept that you select the best man or woman for the job - so why do employers need to know my sexual orientation? We have a population census every 10 years which monitor such statistics. I'm not convinced that all this statistics are used innocently - but please feel free to correct me if you think otherwise.

Despite my reservations, eventually I managed to fill in the application form by gritting my teeth and taping my mouth shut. However, I've since thought of some alternative answers to the question...

What is your sexual orientation?


Here we go...


My sexual orientation is...

1. Saturday nights after a curry and 3 glasses of wine.

2. Dangling from the ceiling.

3. I just chuck the car keys in the centre of the table and hope for the best.

4. I haven't had sex since 1991. My children are adopted and my husband got his balls torn off in a rugby match.

5. I get my kicks watching small people perform ridiculously stupid stunts whilst wearing platforms and a pretend bullet proof vest.

6. I fantasize about setting fire to Russell Brand.

7. I'm a farmer. It's a private matter.

8. I have this thing about Nutella and currant buns.

9. Somewhere in the Bahamas. Alternatively, in the kitchen so long as the lights are out and the knives are in the drawer.

10. What's sex?

Yeah, so you get the idea. I'm still a little peeved. Just how much do employers and government need to know? I guess I'm old fashioned in that I believe that some things should remain private.

You know, I think if George Orwell was alive today he'd probably be smirking.

Ps - If anyone wants to discuss their sexual orientation I am, as they say, "all ears".

Pps - Let's not be pedantic about the meaning of the word "orientation" - you all know what I mean!

PPs - any more suggestions for my next application gratefully received. And nobody mention custard.