Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Three years, Three Hundred Posts and a Caption Competition!

Just after Christmas I realised I've actually been blogging for three years and today marks my three hundredth post. Hoorah!

It's actually quite hard to believe I'm still scribing this blog, which started out as nothing more than a whimsical notion to find a creative outlet, but I am. I'd like to think there's something meaningful in that achievement but the best I can come up with is -  I probably like the sound of my own voice too much!

Anyway, in honour of this momentous occasion, my original intention was to write a short summary of the highs and lows of my life and blog over the last three years - of which they have been many. However, I'll be honest, that's too much like hard work and I'm far too lazy. So instead I'm having a caption competition!

(However, if you really want to find out more about My Witty Ways it's all here in my blog posts - over three years of madcap but hopefully humorous ramblings, punctuated by the occasional moments of despair, melancholy and even on rare occasions, sanity.)

So, back to the caption competition.

The picture below is one I came across at my friend Eddie's photography blog The Cliffwalk - so thanks to Eddie for letting me have use of it. Now, I'm expecting some active audience participation on this post. So, as an extra incentive, I will award some grossly cheap and tasteless prize to the winner- as well as writing them a blog post on any subject they choose!

I will also arrange for you to have a signed copy of The Ascent of Isaac Steward the debut novel of my editor at The View From Here, Mike French, which is due for publication later in the year.

How's that for an attractive proposition?!

Now be warned, Readers, I have already come up with some captions and I am not adverse to awarding myself prizes - so you've got to get your thinking caps on. Don't forget you can comment anonymously - but if you think up a highly original name for yourself as well, you'll be upping your chances of winning!

Okay, so here's the picture and some of my captions:

Bruce apologized to his owner for mistaking her for a bush.

Bruce had an appointment with the pet psychologist - and not a moment too soon.

Bruce knew he'd done wrong when he saw the red hot poker coming at him.

Bruce wanted to join the army but they didn't accept three-legged dogs.

Bruce plonked his arse on the coin; another fifty pence and he could afford a coffee in Costas.

Bruce thought he was a dog and then he saw his lead; he made another appointment with his psychologist.

Bruce remembered that old saying pets look like their owners. He looked at his owner's legs and then at his own... and sighed.

Bruce wanted to raise his ears but he was worried he might take-off.


Right, that should give you an idea of what I'm after - so give it your best shot!

Ps - Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Letter To Phil Collins

Dear Phil,

I'm not one to beat about the bush, so I'm going to get straight to the point. What is it with this retiring business? You're only 60 - don't you know the government has plans for us to work until we're at least 75? Look, I know you've got a heap of cash but if folks like you don't pay enough in taxes people like me will get our old age pensions reduced from a mere miserly pension to a non-existent pension. And I fancy eating more than beans on toast in my old age.

Is it the reviews of Going Back? Is that it? Was it the negative feedback about not producing new material and covering Motown tracks? I really don't think you should worry Phil - the album went to No 1 and I loved it! Besides, all the albums reviews were written by jumped-up youths barely out of their nappies. They weren't even born before you started losing your hair. I mean, what do they know about music? They think rap is good whereas we old timers know that rap is pap and, in the main part, written by some failed Caribbean poets who just so happened to have a cheap set of drums.

Now, I know it says on your website you're retiring because you want to spend time with your kids but I'm a full time mother and I still find time to write my blog, protest at government cutbacks and pretend I'm writing a novel. Surely, surely, you can pen a few notes in between building train sets and playing Cowboys and Indians? Oh, and I really don't care if you think you were an Indian at the Alamo in a previous life. However, can I just ask - Do you think that's where the drumming influence came from? Anyway, I've got three boys; if you ever want some spare dressing up costumes just ask. I have a great Indian headdress.

By the way, I really recommend Thomas the Tank Engine as reading for your boys. In fact, how about putting it to music? Make it into a musical?  You'd be doing the world a favour if you could drown out Ringo Starr's voice. Huh... The Beatles I bet you never really rated them either. Jumped up Liverpudlians.

Maybe it's the Genesis thing. Is that it? Look, you're getting older - no one expects you to make an album in 7 days anymore. Just get out the drumsticks and start tapping on the kid's Lego boxes. Put some nursery rhymes to music - let's face it Ba, Ba Black Sheep could do with a bit of an overhaul and as for The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round - I think that has great musical potential. Stick in a bit of synthesizer and getting Philip Bailey to the backing track and you have a sequel to Easy Lover.

Okay, so I know you've got problems with movement in the hands but, come on, I reckon you could clamp the drumsticks between your teeth and still outshine some of today's drummers. You could still write music though and get someone else to the drumming, couldn't you?. I guess you could even ask Ringo - so long as you make sure his microphone is cut off.  I know you've had problems with your hearing too -but it's okay now isn't it? I hope so - otherwise you won't know when you're shouting at your kids and they may end up hating you. It would be a pity if the fatherhood thing backfired...

Anyway, what I'm trying to say Phil is - I really don't think you should retire. You're a legend! You've had more hit records than I've cooked burnt meals - and that's really saying something. So, please, please have a great time with your kids whilst they're young and then think about making some more music will you? I'm not going to beg because that's not my style but I would be prepared to send you some of my jam as a token of my affection.

Yours admiringly

Mrs T.

Ps - I forgive you for the Tarzan soundtrack.


Ladies and Gentlemen - The One and Only Retired Phil Collins (with guest appearance by Philip Bailey!)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Insomina, Babies, Celebrity Mothers and Husbands Who Snore

Why, why, why do I have insomnia? I am cursed!

Earlier tonight I woke up in the early hours - again. I stayed in bed thinking for a while hoping I'd drift off but, alas, nothing happened. Time passed, so eventually I got up and wandered downstairs to use the bathroom.

Now, currently, I'm wearing a watch that doesn't have a back light or luminous hands. Frankly, the watch is a nuisance as I like to track my insomnia (call me Mrs Peculiar) but it's new and it was soooo attractive underneath that glass display counter that I forgot that being able to tell the time in the night is a fetish of mine. Okay... so I know it's an odd fetish but well it's not as bad as it could be; I don't smear my body in mackerel oil and ask anyone to lick it off for example. That would be really peculiar - anyway I didn't get any applicants.

So I went downstairs and looked at the clock - it was nearly 5 am. Hoorah! Sleeping till 5am is a whole night's sleep; it was time to start the day! No more mooching around the house waiting to start crashing around in the kitchen and burning my toast.

Incidentally, I did a spectacular burning session earlier in the week; I managed to boil a pan of pasta completely dry and smoke out the entire downstairs. In fact when Mr T got home, nearly 5 hours later, he could still smell it. I told him I'd forgotten the pan it because I was doing the vacuuming. Which wasn't wholly truthful - as I didn't add on that I was actually vacuuming up the showbiz columns of the Daily Mail.

Yes, yes, I know it was the Daily Mail which is hardly the high brow reading you expect from someone as as intelligent and sophisticated as me but every once in a while I like to go over there and see if they have a column explaining who Kim Cardigan  Kim Cardisgan Kim Kardisgan - anyway someone called Kim Something - explaining who the hell she is. Basically, I have no idea who she is and nor can I be bothered to click on the articles to find out - because all the little pictures that accompany the bye lines about her seem to involve her in some sort state of undress.

Not interested.

Yes, so anyway I scroll down the twenty or so little bye lines and pictures that they have on the Daily Mail and think to myself now what looks interesting enough to read? Usually, I come to the deduction that there's absolutely nothing interesting - although yesterday, to be fair, there was a nice piece by Joan Collins about Elizabeth Taylor. Now that's what I call showbiz news; the death of a screen icon, fondly remembered in words by someone who is also arguably a pretty big name in her own right.

Anyway, back to the insomnia (wherever that was leading to) - so I was celebrating it was nearly 5 am and then I remembered that Mr T had already put the kitchen clock forward....and that if I'd already been awake for a while that probably amounted to... 4 and half hours sleep at best.


So I went back to bed and tried to sleep. Nope. It was not happening. Now, unfortunately, one of the many reasons I can't sleep (especially after I've woken up) is noise. And well... I'm not one to complain too much but when the good Mr T has had a bit of beer things can get a little...noisy. The optimum time for this is Friday and Saturday nights of course but then sometimes he likes to break with tradition and go for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday nights as well.

 It's a tough life being a middle aged executive.

Now anyway Readers... I have a cunning plan which may be my salvation. Okay, so I know you parents out there have heard about that routine you're supposed to implement with crying babies..,Yes, you know the one...the one where you stand next to the cot and then gradually you move away over the course of a fortnight, leaving your baby crying, until they finally get used to being alone.

Yes, that's right ...The My Kid's A Nightmare and I'm a Ruthless Hard Bitch Routine or perhaps, put more simply, The I'm so F***** Desperate I'll Try Anything Routine.

Anyway, that's the routine. I'm sure Sheila Kitzinger has some proper name for it and no doubt she thinks we should all be having orgasms as a result of it - but let me tell you readers I don't think Sheila Kitzinger has ever had a baby. The woman's nuts.

Hmm. And whilst I've touched on the subject of mother and baby manuals, I just want to say that celebrity mother manuals really get up my arse. Ones titled like;

 I've Just Had My First Baby and I Want to Tell You All About It For Just £14.99! By A.Moneygrabber


I've Got A Housekeeper, A Personal Trainer and A Dietician And A New Baby and I Still Look Fabulous By E.Gomaniac


One Baby and I Know It All by A. Showoff

I await such a book from Kim Kardishgan in due course. (Still can't spell her name and can't be bothered to check either.)

What the world actually needs is a book from a proper mother. Like me. Obviously.

Anyway, once again, back to the original post, ( I apologize for the inconsistency the lack of sleep sends me a bit doolally at times) so I'm thinking of implementing The I'm So F***** Desperate I'll Try Anything Routine on Mr T. You see Readers, Mrs T is actually a wise woman and knows that marriage is a very delicate matter ( that's why I'm blogging about it) and the subject of I WANT TO SLEEP IN ANOTHER ROOM has to be broached very, very delicately. Right, so here's what I'm thinking;

Day one: I go to bed as normal and say; "Have you grown Mr T? The bed feels a little small."

Day two; I go to bed, curl up at the bottom of my side of the bed and say: "I'm sure you've grown Mr T."

Day three: At 3 am I purposely fall out of bed. I wake Mr T up and say. "You just pushed me out of bed!"

Day four: I sleep in a sleeping bag by the side of the bed and say to Mr T; "I expect it's really cosy with more room in the bed."

Day five: I sleep in my sleeping bag at the bottom of the bed and say "Are you cosy my Sweet Love?"

Day Six;  I take my pillows from my side of the bed, and sleep in my sleeping bag by the door. I say "Sweet Dreams My Darling! Sleep well in your cosy bed!"

Day 7: I camp down in my sleeping bag with pillows in the hallway adjacent to our bedroom. I say "I've bought you a new teddy bear My Darling!"

And so on.... by Day 14 I reckon I will have moved to our third floor and will be ensconced in Master Sam's loft room.

What d'you reckon Readers? Will it work?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

When the Mighty Fall

Over the past two weeks, I'm sure I've been one of many contemplating the devastating events in Japan. As restoration at the Fukushima nuclear power plant continues to make slow progress one cannot help but wonder how bad this disaster has yet to come.

In terms of actual deaths already over 9,000 are confirmed dead and many more are still missing. In all probability, these early estimates will prove conservative. However, whilst each death is an individual tragedy, on a global scale these are comparatively small figures - the latest estimate for the Haiti disaster is 316,000 deaths with up to 3 million affected, the estimate for 2004 Tsunami is 230,000 deaths with another 1.3 million displaced and perhaps it is worth mentioning that everyday hundreds of children die from starvation and disease. In fact, according to Save the Children every year 3.1 million children die from the effects of malnutrition.

Those are, quite simply, staggering figures.

Yet, despite the relatively minor losses, the events in Japan may prove to be one of the most significant events of the early 21st century. It's the first time a leading global economic power has been seriously affected by a major natural disaster in recent times and it's becoming clear that Japan's infrastructure is been severely tested as food and power shortages add to the already immense problems.

It's an illustration to those of us who live privileged lives that we are not immune from natural disasters. One only needs to look at the ruins of the Japanese coastline to see how quickly industry and civilization can be washed away in the wake of nature's wrath. Many of the world's greatest economies and cities are situated on coastlines due to the very fact that cities grow where, over the course of history, trade has flourished. In fact, at least 17 of the 26 world's mega cities are situated on coastlines and Tokyo with a population of nearly 35 million, although not on the coast, is situated on a major fault line. As a point of interest, prior to the Tohoku earthquake some scientists had predicted a 30% chance of a category 7 or above earthquake under Tokyo in the next 30 years - In the light of recent events and the knowledge that earthquakes often follow each other in close proximity those estimates may have to be revised. The result may be even more alarming.

I don't think we can ever immunize ourselves from natural disasters; nature is both the beauty and the beast. Probably, one day, a meteorite will come hurtling out of the sky and take us back to the beginning again. That is the circle of life and death. From old life, new life grows. I don't think we should live in fear of it but, perhaps, on a day to day basis, it makes sense to better prepare ourselves against more frequent natural disasters and, of course, our own many man-made disasters.

Setting aside the infrequent horrors of tsunamis and earthquakes for a moment, if predictions about global warming are correct, all coastline cities will be under threat from flooding over the course of the 21st century, particularly those in Asia. Many scientists accept that there is a degree of climate change that is already unpreventable. However, we can help to limit the impact by making changes in the way we live and caring about our impact on the environment. Working towards economies that work alongside nature, and not against it, would be a huge step forwards. I certainly hope that the scepticism about nuclear power that has gained momentum after the Japanese catastrophe continues to grow. If the disaster at Fukushima helps to pave the way for increased investment in green energy then that at least that will be one positive thing to come out of this whole sad episode. We need to strike the right balance between using and abusing the world we live in and adopt a less ruthless and neanderthal approach to our existence. Whilst it's fairly obvious the world cannot support its population of around 7 billion without taking some risks we do need to think more carefully about the methods and impact of many of our current practices.

Our human lives are comparatively short so keep safe and well. And if you can spare some change for our friends in Japan, you can donate to the any number of disaster funds. Help to build new life.

Save The Children

Red Cross UK


1.) A mega city is defined as having a population of over 10 million. I believe at least 17 mega cities lie on the coast. (Geography isn't my strong point, so correct me if I'm wrong.)
2) Blogger Sachiko is from the area struck by the tsunami and has family there. You can follow her personal account on her blog, Tea Rose Home.
3) To find out more on climate change read my interview with Paul Brown or/and my review of his book Global Warning, Last Chance for Change here

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Danger in the Bathroom

I know I shouldn't laugh but this may possibly one of the funniest stories I've ever read. Apparently, some poor woman fell over in her bathroom and impaled herself on her loo roll holder.

Okay, I hope the unlucky woman makes a full recovery obviously. I mean you wouldn't want an epitaph like "speared by a loo roll holder" on your gravestone would you? It doesn't really have that certain ring to it, does it?

Anyway, what's really creased me up is the quote from the fire officer:

She apparently fell and the toilet paper holder just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I don't know about you, but I kinda like my loo roll in the bathroom. I mean, I could put it in the kitchen but it's not really that handy situated next to the spice rack.

Hmm... I guess instead of having a free standing loo roll or one that's attached to the wall this woman could hang hers from the ceiling.

No wait a minute... she might end up hanging herself or knocking herself out.

Still, at least it only speared her. Imagine if she'd just fallen with her face flat on it. She could have been smothered to death by a loo roll. Now that would take some beating.

I am going to be really careful in the bathroom from now on. Danger lurks everywhere you know.

My First Attempt at Jam

Is the full moon over yet folks? I couldn't tell with all that cloud cover last night. But I can't stand much more of this cleaning lark. Yesterday, I was forced to clean out the fridge and, as a consequence, for the first time in my 46 years I did what millions of women have done before me - I made jam.

Now, come on, avoiding making jam for 46 years is pretty good isn't it? Especially when you're a full time housewife. If it takes me another 46 years to build up the courage for a second batch - I wouldn't actually do it - as I'd be dead. A comforting thought.

I should say that I made jam because we had a surplus of strawberries in the fridge due to the boys having a sudden desire for fruit smoothies - and then suddenly not having a desire for fruit smoothies. Kids they're so fickle aren't they? So I had three tubs of strawberries, including one mega box from Costco. That's a lot of strawberries.

Anyway, I followed this recipe which was the first hit that came up on Google (you can tell I did a lot of research) and I made the sticky stuff. I got a bit confused with how long I had to boil the fruit and sugar for until after about 90 mins I realised that the preparation time said 70 minutes so by a process of deduction if it was 60 mins for simmering the strawberries before adding the sugar, the boiling time need only be 10 mins. So since I'd already simmered the strawberries for 90 minutes (just to be on the safe side), boiled it for a further 90 minutes, plus another 15- 30 for generally making a sticky mess, making little paper thingies and and sterilizing jars, all in all, it was just short of 4 hours for 3 and a half pots of jam.

Hmmm.... it's probably just as well I don't do this kind of stuff often. I wouldn't win any prizes for output.

So here's a piccy of my first attempt at jam:

I should point out that I had none of those pretty paper things your suppose to put over the top so I made my own with some Star Wars wrapping paper. George Lucas would be proud of me.

Now, I did think about auctioning off my jam for charity but then I got a little worried that during transportation things might get a little...runny. I'll check it out tomorrow - since it's boiled for so long it might actually be so hard that folks will break their teeth on it.

Anyway, the boys ate the half jar last night. All of it. Master Jacob said it was "the best jam I've ever tasted."

Hmm... I not sure what he's after but no doubt I'll find out soon enough. Either that or he's got sinusitis.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Strange Goings On in The Turley Household

"Don't let your mother outside Boys. There's a full moon. Things are bad enough anyway."

It's true. For several days I have been feeling "odd" and it doesn't appear to be PMT. Strangely, I've been drawn to the night sky, mesmerized by the fullness of the moon. Spine tingling shivers have alternated with sudden bouts of feverish activity. At night, the ever cautious Mr T has chained me to the bed - worried that whilst he snores his wife might be carving up celebrity chefs. And, in the mornings, when he's seen all is not lost I've been set free to roam the house, wandering amongst the rooms like some lost, forlorn soul.

What's been wrong with me?

This morning, Readers, it finally dawned on me what the problem has been and what I had to do about it.

So, with a sense of urgency, I pulled on my tracksuit bottoms, tied the laces on my trainers and set my stopwatch. I unlocked the front door and stepped outside, taking a deep breath ready to face an almost insurmountable task; a challenge I had not faced since the last supermoon in 1995. It was a challenge that would require all my skill, tenacity, courage and discipline. It would need every ounce of  Mrs T's determination and guts to see it through to the very end....

I vacuumed out my car.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

He's Good, He's Bad, He's Master Benedict

So I was on way back from tennis last night with the boys. It's Master Ben's turn to sit in the front seat. We're listening to a Michael Jackson CD  so I've already had a series of whoops and squeals from the Young Master in true Michael Jackson style...

Suddenly, he turns to me and says;

Mum? Have you ever seen a person with no arms or no legs?

(Obviously had been thinking about Michael Jackson's sorties into plastic surgery - I can think of no other explanation.)

Mrs T: Why, yes. (Pause) In fact, I was at school who a girl who only had one hand. She had a false, plastic one that she wore... and at dinner time she used to unscrew it and screw in a fork.

Master Ben: Didn't you have nightmares?

Mrs T: No. Why would I?

Master Ben: Didn't you dream she unscrewed it and screwed in a chainsaw?

Mrs T:  (Laughing) Umm... No.

Master Ben: A Bazooka?

Mrs T (Laughing) No!

Okay, so then Master Ben worked his way through about half a dozen weapons (with accompanying sound effects and visual demonstrations.) Eventually he fell silent and we listen to MJ again.


Master Ben: Mummy?

Mrs T: Yes?

Master Ben: Do you think if everyone in the world moved onto one side of the world and farted the earth would shoot across the other side of the galaxy?

Mrs T: (Laughing) Um... No!

Okay, so that was followed by an even more bizarre conversation about global warming. And if that isn't enough, I got home and looked at my brother in law's wedding photographs and there's a picture of Master Ben standing next to my brother in law with his face dramatically poised over the edge of my brother in law's beer glass.

Blimey, I tell you this boy is trouble. I might even post a video of him next week doing his Michael Jackson impersonation on his newly acquired treadmill. It's a corker, I can tell you.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Trouble in the Office (Advice Wanted)

Right you lot get your thinking caps on. Mrs T's friend, who shall be known as Mrs Doe, needs some advice on a tricky situation at work.

Let me explain:

Mrs Doe has been working in the same job for a good few years. It's a specialized job and requires quite a lot of time in a small, confined room. Mostly, Mrs Doe is by herself but sometimes with a male colleague. Mrs Doe works part time so she doesn't see this gentlemen all the time so when they meet he is always pleased to see her and quite generous in his greetings - in that he likes to hug her and give a peck on the cheek. Now this friendly greeting has been going on for a number of years and although Mrs Doe is not really comfortable with it, she has accepted that it's part of his nature and with him being in a happy (in so far as she knows) relationship she thought there was nothing to worry about.

Or is there?

A couple of weeks ago she had reason to call him on the phone regarding a work matter. There was no answer and after a while she was able to resolve the problem and no further contact was necessary. However, the next day he politely texts and apologizes and enquires what the problem was. She replies that everything is taken care of and that no further action is required. Then she gets a text that reads;

So, no chance of gratuitous sex then?

Now Mrs Doe is a little disturbed by this and not sure if it's a joke or not. So she decides to ignore it and the following day he texts saying "You do realise that was a joke?" Mrs Doe decides that it probably was and texts back to that effect.

All well and good. Everything back to normal.

Until they meet again in their small, confined office. The gentlemen is the same as usual with his effervescent greeting.... but somehow or other he also manages to slip his arm round her waist. Nothing more. It's a momentary touch....but now Mrs Doe is not sure that the text was just a joke. Was he just testing the waters? Alarm bells begin to ring.

Now Mrs Doe likes her job, it's very convenient and fits in well her family commitments. She also likes her colleague but being very happily married she's not up for gratuitous sex. What's more, she's not even sure if what has happened means anything at all and whether it was just a series of unfortunate events. Was it a joke that went wrong and he's tried to make up for it, not realising his behaviour is even more inappropriate? Hmm. Questions, questions....

Now Mrs Doe asked Mrs T for her advice.Obviously I thought we should job share but Mrs Doe thought that maybe I wasn't ideally suited to a specialized job. She kindly refrained saying "Any job" so I took the refusal quite well. Humph. Anyway, so my initial thought was that until the point where there was the touching business  it was probably a joke - that's how I would have taken it. Although I have to say that if Mrs Doe was uncomfortable with all the hugging and kissing beforehand, even though it seemed inoffensive, that could have been the women's early warning system triggering off. But now, after the second incident even Mrs T is not so sure...

So what do you lot think? What should Mrs Doe do, if anything? Should she clear the air and, if so, how? Or should she bide her time and see what happens? One thing Mrs Doe does not want is for the situation to escalate or to be put in a position where she feels so uncomfortable she has to leave her job. So what should she do?

So let's have some thoughts please both Gentlemen and Ladies please!

( Don't forget - those of you who normally read but don't comment you can leave a comment anonymously or under a pseudonym. Let's give Mrs Doe some help here!)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Another Embarrassing Moment for Mrs T

What do children talk about at school? It's worrying when you believe you're teaching your children the right manners and behaviour and then they come under the influence of others and start to say and do things that you had no idea they were capable of. Take the following story for example...

On Thursday, I was at the tennis club with Master Ben who'd just had a lesson with a new coach, Coach Mark. Ben's next lesson should have been on the coming Saturday with his main coach but he was off representing the county. The following conversation ensued:

Mrs T: I wonder Coach Mark whether you could fill in on Saturday?

Coach Mark: I'm afraid not Mrs T, it's my birthday and my wife is taking me into London for a treat. 

Mrs T: Oh well never mind. Actually it's my birthday on Sunday too. Happy Birthday to us! Hurrah! (Yes, I do talk like that. It's sad.)

Master Ben (Relaxing on settee after lesson but still listening): It's your birthday on Sunday?

Mrs T: Yes! And don't get me any chocolates or sweets, I'm back on my diet.

Master Ben (with total deadpan face): So, you want a sex toy then?

Mrs T (Face aghast, momentarily speechless): ........Master Ben!

Much laughter at Mrs T's expense ensues around tennis pavilion...

Mrs T: I don't know where he gets this stuff from, I swear! Whose telling him this stuff at school?

Mrs N: I don't know Mrs T. The other day Miss K came back from school and said "Mum you know these STDs...."

Mrs T: Stop Mrs N! Master Ben's ears are like radar! Look at him!

Everyone looks at Master Ben whose looking particularly smug, knowing he's deliberately dropped his mother in the proverbial shite.

Mrs T; Yes your ears, Master Ben, are like radar!

( I should point out at this juncture that Master Ben has large (but cute) ears and until I can afford to have them pinned back I'm toughening up for any teasing that might happen at school.)

Master Ben: My ears?

Mrs T: They're beautiful, son. And next time we go to war with Germany, they'll stick you on the beaches as an early warning system. You'll be a prize commodity!

(Yes, I did say that. Just in case you wondering.)

Yes so, where do children get explicit knowledge from? I allow my children to watch degrees of violence but I like to think I moderate it to what I believe is a reasonable level. Children grow up far too fast, in my opinion, without being exposed to a diet of tawdry soap operas and violent, sexual films. Children should stay children for as long as possible. What's happened to parental responsibility? Is everyone just too busy working or so self absorbed to care? Look, I'm not really bothered about Master Ben knowing about sex toys, he's smart, savvy and well adjusted. But what about more vulnerable children? How will they cope? How ARE they coping? I look around me at society and there's a lot of things I don't actually like going on, particularly amongst the youth. So many children falling on the wayside, corrupted by society's failings...

Anyway, it's difficult to be cross with Master Ben because he's very clever and funny too. I could tell that he'd dropped me in it deliberately and that it wasn't an innocent remark. He got his laughs! I'm afraid he's inherited my sense of humour and well what can I say...but he's my son. In fact, here's another story that proves how clever he is and which Mr T related to me on Saturday.

Mr T and Master Ben are in the car on their way to town.

Mr T: What shall we get Mum for her birthday?

Master Ben; (deadpan) Washing powder?

There, that proves it. The kid's a comedian. He'll do anything for the joke. It also proves for a 10 year old he know his parents too well. Hmm.

Okay, on a final note: Unfortunately, I didn't get any interesting "toys" for my birthday. But Mr T gave me an ipod, Master Jacob gave me a ipod case, Master Ben gave me a packet of chilli Doritos and a jar of dip, Master Sam forgot.


Today I shall run around the block, listening to music and scoffing Doritos. And when I stop for a breath I'll text Master Sam and tell him I've stopped the direct debit.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

An Audio Walkabout

Yesterday, after our family wedding in Ireland and a few further weeks of self indulgence, I finally stood on the scales.

And I stood on the scales.

And I stood on the scales.

And I stood on the scales.

When I'd recovered from the heart attack I thought to myself;

You stupid, stupid woman.

Okay, so I think that most days. But yesterday I really meant it. I mean, a couple of biscuits and a glass of wine and wham bam I'm half a stone heavier! It's that perimenopause I tell you, screwing up my system. So it's back to the diet of bran and yogurt and walking for at least an hour a day. Groan, groan, groan. Why me? Why couldn't I have been born some svelte-like willowy creature, instead of a tub of lard?

Anyway, so I put on my tracksuit and prepared to steel myself against the bitter wind. Then I had a thought, why not be daring Mrs T and try something new?

So I took off all my clothes and headed down the street....

No, seriously. I didn't. Although it may have crossed my mind. Instead, I decided I'd borrow Master Benedict's ipod and download an audio book. Daring, daring stuff I hear you say. What next? An electronic egg whisker for Mrs T? Well I popped onto itunes and looked at the the first few pages of the latest fiction releases...

The Red Queen by Philppa Gregory. Now I fancied that as I really enjoyed The Other Boleyn Girl. But £15.95? No can do Ms Gregory. Not for an experiment. I could buy 3 paperbacks for that price.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. A great book but I've already read it. And listening to all that despair and gloom again? I might find myself under the wheels of a 10 ton truck.

The King's Speech by Mark Logue. Nope - as I was going to see it at the cinema that very night! And very good it was too. Colin Firth was first class and by the time I came out I was almost waving the Union Jack and singing Rule Britannia. Ah... A little jingoism does the soul good!

The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris. Nope. Sorry. I was bored stiff by Chocolat, despite it starting off at a major advantage by possessing a rather attractive title. Darn good marketing ploy. I'm going to try it myself - I reckon if just rename my book Maltesers than should be enough to win that critic over. Unless she's a diabetic.

The Tycoon Takes A Wife by Catherine Mann. Hmm. I don't think that title is interesting enough. If it was The Tycoon Takes Several Wives I might have been tempted. But alas, only one wife in the usual wet rag of a woman meets self made millionaire I didn't know who I was till I met you! scenario isn't enough to whet my palette, let alone wet my knickers.

Pictures of Lily by Paige Toon. Alas, for obvious reasons, I didn't think that would work too well on audio. Stupid name as well. Hope it's a pseudonym.

Distant Voices by Barbara Eskine.  Ditto.

Miss Winthrope's Elopment by Christine Merrill. I could never in a million years purchase a book with such a stupid title. Somebody buys this stuff? Get a life! Try The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie if you must read about frustrated spinsters. Oh read this. Says it all.

Part of the Furniture by Mary Wesley. Okay...cover your ears. But f***k me that sounds boring. Somebody fire Wesley's publicist.

Electricity by Ray Robinson. Ah ha. Now we're getting interesting. I've already got Electricity sitting on my shelf waiting to read. Anything else? Yep, his latest novel, Forgetting Zoe, which comes highly recommended by Scott Pack. (Also I've a little self interest as Ray was one of the judges in Gary's writing competition that judged my flash fiction a piece of genius. Yeah, so okay, that's a little big headed of me. But hey, I'm on a morale boosting session! I need it! Just bear with me now. Remember the hormones, the weight gain and the critic. Have some sympathy.) Anyway,
Forgetting Zoe  is affordable at £6.95, so I decided to go for it.

Forgetting Zoƫ

So eventually, after much fiddling around with Master Ben's headphone thingys, (I wasn't aware that I had funny shaped ears till now) I set off on my walk and, blow me, did I have a shock. Well Ray Robinson is a bloke but it was read by an American woman! Who sounded just like Heather! (Go listen to one of her podcasts) Okay, okay the story is set in America but well you know I just didn't expect it.... I guess I was thinking of... Colin Firth? You know, stiff upper lip Brit, classically trained, proves he can do an American accent... I dunno. Sometimes I confuse myself.

Anyway, I'm off walking at a pace round the village trying hard to focus on the story. I found concentrating  pretty tricky as my brain just wanders off into its own small, peculiar world. Now there's a surprise. There's also the problem that when you're out walking there's lots of things to look at - like grass and stuff. That made it somewhat difficult for me...

Oh look  at the grass, and that tree and that car Mrs T! Watch out for that dog muck too! And don't look behind you, you might be followed by a strange dog. I wonder if Daniel Craig lives round here and will see my bottom as he drives past in his Aston? Mind that manhole cover now....

You know, I think there's actually an art to listening to audios which I haven't developed yet. I need to keep on trying.

It didn't help either that after a while I got really cold, stuck my hands in the my pocket and all of a sudden I heard this;

At this point, I decided it was time to head back home for a good old fashioned book. I shan't give up though, Readers. The night is young, the flesh is weak but Mrs T paid £6.95 and I'm gonna get to the end of if even it kills me. (It probably will too, as I can't hear the traffic.)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pilates, Feng Shui and Early Morning Rantings (Yes, I know, it's a problem.)

It's 3 am. I'm cold and I can't sleep. Therefore I'm allowed to rant and be excused.

Now, I'm not saying the woman who critiqued my novel has no sense of humour but I bet even Bugs Bunny would get short shrift from her.

Bring it on Bugs that's what I say. Floppy ears and big teeth does it for me all the time. (And those silky ears can do wonders for your sex life as well.)

I think I should date Charlie Sheen actually. He's one hell of a comedian - whichever way you look at it. I would love to interview him. I reckon after a few drinks and we got talking about his dad and that great film Apocalypse Now I could easily get Charlie to pretend he was a helicopter and whizz around the studio making buzzy noises.

A tenner says I could do it.

Twenty says I could get him to drop his pants and pledge allegiance to Bugs Bunny.

Easy Money.

Humour is a very personal thing isn't it? I mean, I pretty much enjoy all sorts of humour, including slapstick, both verbal and visual. But the other day some folks and I were chatting at the tennis centre and one parent was saying how he disliked Steve Martin and Jim Carrey. He didn't even like that classic film Airplane.

And he was serious!

I reckon he has a part time job as a book critic.

Now the advice I've been given on my novel which is cross genre is to write in one genre only and obviously (she didn't actually say this but I sort of picked it up from her use of words) don't write anything funny or which might be misconstrued as fatuous, shallow and trite.

Oh alright. Let's all be serious all of the time. In fact, just to add to sense of seriousness why don't we all wear sackclothes and stick our hands in a tub of boiling tar!

Hmm.. I guess that's kind of fatuous eh?

Anyway, I have a dilemma. How do you fit a square peg in a round hole? How does Mrs T make herself not what she is? No can do folks, not for the sake of publication. Sure, I can develop characters more, put the humour more in context perhaps but never to write it? Never to make a silly joke? I might as well throw myself in that tub of boiling tar. No more jokes about Quasimodo having a nice set of bells, no more laughing at the thought of Charlie Sheen pretending he's a helicopter, no more laughing when folks trip over on the pavement.

Dear God, I might as well hang myself now. Or take up pilates.

Hmm... Maybe I should take up plates and yoga? They're supposed to be calming aren't they? Isn't pilates supposed to make you get better posture and look taller? I could do with looking taller. Then my arse wouldn't look so big.

Yes, that's the answer. I must take up pilates, buy some incense and smelly candles and do some chanting - that should make me calm down. I'm not sure I can sit cross legged though. I mean that would be like being back at school again and Mr T might remove my personal allowance and just give me dinner money.

Feng shui. I guess I could try that too. Isn't Feng Shui the idea that you move all your furniture around in order to get postive vibes? Hmm... I guess I sort of do that at the moment anyway. Well, you know, it's much easier to push the sofa a little forwards than actually do the vacuuming. That always gives me positive vibes. And I regularly put the toy boxes under the beds. That gotta be good for you, hasn't it?

Yeah, I don't think I need to any more Feng Shui. I mean what if I put the my bed up against the window? Mr T might be tempted. I dunno if I could do it to him. I mean he's not that bad really.

Hmm, what else could I try to calm me down? Beta blockers I suppose. But there for your heart really and this is a problem with my brain. Tranquilsers! Yep, that's what I need. That should do the trick!

Ah, tis a pity though. I did really fancy flying with Charlie Sheen.

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...