Saturday, December 22, 2012

Fun Romantic Fiction

Hey, it's Christmas. I've not been around for a while. So here's some fiction from my bottom drawer (ie it's not my current work in progress) to keep you amused and to say thank you for coming to read my blog. I hope you enjoy it.

Merry Christmas, Everyone. Wishing you all peace, love and laughter wherever you are in the world.

The Journalist


The dark closed in on her. She felt a delicate touch run up her leg, a predatory kiss sweep fleetingly across her lips. Warmth ebbed and flowed around her and a shiver of excitement, the anticipation of a new forbidden lover, tingled up her spine.
“Your time’s up.”
The doors of the flotation tank flew open. Robyn’s eyes sprang open for a brief startled moment as the light poured in to her capsule. She squinted and saw Cheryl’s inquisitive face looking down at her.
            “Day dreaming again, Robyn?”
            “Why, why, why do you always open the door at the most inappropriate time?” groaned Robyn. “I was just about to be ravished by Hugh Jackman.”
            “Now you know if I didn’t time you, you’d been in there all day fantasizing. And as much as I love your custom, Robyn, you have a job to go to otherwise you won’t be able to afford to pay my bills.”
            “You’re such a hard taskmaster,” grinned Robyn, pulling herself upright.
            “And it’s about time you got a real boyfriend. Honestly, a woman of your age and connections - you’re a disgrace to womanhood. I’ve had more boyfriends in a year than you’ve had in a decade.”
            “But darling,” said Robyn, adopting a theatrical voice. “You know I work in the media. The men are either gay or complete bastards. I am destined to become a grumpy old feminist with a fixation on nubile young men. I am fated! Now pass me that towel I have a programme to do.”
            “One of these days you’ll meet your match, Robyn. And I for one will delight in watching you fall hook, line and sinker for some utterly ruthless bastard who will put you in your place.”
            “Ain’t ever gonna happen,” grinned Robyn. “I’m one of a new breed of women who don’t need a man other than to clean the car and paint the ceilings.  And that’s only because I can’t be bothered. Use ’em and abuse them that’s what I say.”
            “Oh stop it!” laughed Cheryl flinging the towel at Robyn. “Now get out before I haul your ass out myself.”
            “Oh, all right. Spoil sport.”
             Robyn towelled herself dry in a hurry. It was now nearly four o’clock. The early evening talk show on which she was a regular panellist began in ninety minutes and she still hadn’t finished reading the guest profiles. She probably should have stayed at The Herald and done her preparation when she’d had the chance. Instead, on a whim she’d gone for a self-indulgent break at Cheryl’s salon. It was exhausting fitting in all her hours as a journalist and as a TV presenter and occasionally she just needed to get away from it all. The last few months had been particularly stressful at The Herald as she’d been covering a series of gruesome murders and, when her editor had ordered her to find a new angle on the story, she’d finally flipped and stormed off. What was she supposed to do? Uncover the murderer herself? Or hope he’d murder someone else to add to his tally of six murders in the last seven months just to keep the story in the papers?  As far as she could see there was nothing left to say; the trail was dead and the police didn’t seem to have any clues.
            Robyn grimaced as she pulled on her clothes. Her role covering current affairs was far more demanding than her previous job as a fashion columnist but it was a challenge she enjoyed. A few years ago, fashion had been Robyn’s first love but gradually she’d began to lose interest and then one year whilst slightly intoxicated at a fashion show  she’d mistakenly purchased a Vivien Westwood gown. It was then she’d realised it was time to grow up. The truth was she was no longer bothered whether or not cowboy boots looked better with jeans or a skirt or whether she could squeeze herself into a size ten without getting a hernia. Fashion might be big business but she was bored stiff writing about silly frocks and shoes that only celebs could afford. Worse, she was sick of attending fashion shows which paraded anorexic stick insects who looked like they wouldn’t be able to have sex without first requiring calcium supplements.  Of course, sometimes she still missed writing frivolous articles, attending glamorous parties and the bags of freebies but nevertheless quitting fashion to concentrate on serious journalism was probably her best and most satisfying career move. Besides, she’d been secretly worried that she was going to end up looking like Helena Bonham Carter.

Robyn’s stylist, Megan, rhythmically pulled the brush through Robyn’s hair as she flicked through her researcher’s notes. Robyn’s shoulders sank further; she felt totally relaxed and ready to take on the panel Larry, her producer, had lined up for tonight’s programme. Normally, she’d be getting a little edgy by now with pre-show nerves but after an afternoon at Cheryl’s fantasising about Hugh rescuing her from the clutches of a pint sized evil villain (played by Tom Cruise) she felt on top of the world. Ruefully, Robyn acknowledged that imaginary men were sometimes better than the real deal and she might as well stick to fantasy men as all the decent men in her circles seemed to be either gay or already taken and, at thirty-five, Robyn knew she was rapidly approaching the age when she wouldn’t be able to have foreplay without the use of crowbar to lever off her underwear. She was probably going to be a plump spinster hanging out at the local library for kicks unless she took up some manic exercise regime like Madonna - although pumping iron twice a day and sticking to a diet of lettuce leaves in the hope of finding a toy boy or some rich sugar daddy didn’t really hold much appeal. In fact, from what she’d heard toy boys and sugar daddies broke wind even more often in bed than your average male - and she was definitely not in the market for a wind chime.  Anyway, Robyn also knew she was far too lazy when it came to exercise - she’d rather focus on her career, eat Pringles and watch CSI than step on a treadmill.
 Robyn forced her attention back to the notes and wondered what Larry had planned for this afternoon and how he might want her to perform: the girl-next-door, the professional journalist or the super bitch? Frequently, it depended on what attitude the guests took and sometimes Larry would signal his instructions across the studio floor as the show progressed. Larry had a way of drawing out latent emotions with his playful teasing and caustic jibes which he often showered on his guests in the Green Room, and Robyn rather liked playing along with him. Together they’d wound up more celebs than she cared to mention. However, it didn’t seem to stop politicians and other celebrities from wanting to appear on their show. In fact the ratings were soaring and Larry was, in part, putting it down to her outspokenness - and she wasn’t one to complain about her increasingly popularity. It seemed just reward for all her years slogging away in obscurity on local rags and the years devoted to fashion wearing clothes that she now used to shine the bathroom floor.
Robyn tossed the researcher’s notes onto the dresser and decided she might as well wing it. She was so relaxed now she felt almost pleasantly drunk. Deciding she might as well indulge herself some more, she leant over to the dressing table and pulled out a large bag of Maltesers from her handbag.
 “I hear the Home Secretary is appearing today,” said Megan, as Robyn ripped open the packet.
“Yep. It should be interesting. I intend to give him a hard time about crime rates and some of these ridiculously lean sentences. That should fire him up, he hates to look like a soft touch,” replied Robyn rolling a Malteser around her mouth.
“And don’t forget to bring up that string of murders you’ve been reporting. Honestly, I’m afraid to go out at night now. It’s like London is being stalked by Jack the Ripper again.”
“Yes. I think I will,” said Robyn thoughtfully. “It’s a ghastly business. The police just seem to be running around like headless chickens.”
“Do you think they have any clues?”
“Not that they’re letting on about. Anyway, let’s not dwell on it now it makes me depressed enough as it is. So tell me - what do you think of the Home Secretary’s looks? I think he’s about a six.”
“A seven in my book,” grinned Megan. “He’s definitely better looking than the average politician.”
“You’re too generous,” said Robyn offering up her bag of Maltesers to Megan before popping yet another in her own mouth. “You know, if Simon Cowell owned a Malteser factory I reckon he’d be the perfect ten.”
“Ugh. How can you compare him to likes of George Clooney?”
 “Do you think he likes to suck or bite?”
“Pardon?”
“Simon Cowell. Do you think he likes to suck or bite Maltesers?”
“Oh,” giggled Megan. “I think he’s a sucker.”
“That’s what I thought. Definitely a sucker,” said Robyn looking in the mirror at Megan with a deadpan face until the two women burst into giggles.
The laughter was interrupted by a sudden crash as the door flung open hitting the wall and Larry flounced into the room still yelling back down the corridor in a breathy, high pitched voice.
“I said fifteen minutes not fifteen hours! Now get that idiot assistant down here before I fire him!”
Robyn eyed up Larry’s trousers which sagged loose around his fleshy buttocks. Even though she no longer fussed about fashion some things she just couldn’t help noticing - especially when they involved bottoms.
            “Production crew! Why don’t they ever do what they’re told?” exclaimed Larry, turning towards Robyn and raising his hands theatrically in the air. “Heaven help me if I actually had to produce something artistic!”
Robyn beamed at Larry’s dramatic entrance. Saggy trousers or no saggy trousers, everything Larry did was always larger than life. He was a master of the media. He even wore a cravat tucked into the open neck of a flamboyant pink shirt, which strained against his rotund stomach, as if he was a Hollywood director of the Golden Age. It was only his leather brogues which were scuffed and bruised where he scurried from room to room, alternatively haranguing and greasing up to his guests, which gave an indication of his hectic, pressurized job.
“Now Robyn, my dear, have you heard?”
“Heard what? You’re getting a makeover?” teased Robyn.   
“Very funny,” Larry replied caustically. “But you’ve heard?”
“Heard what? I’ve no idea what you’re talking about. I’ve been at Cheryl’s all afternoon.”
“I thought you looked more glamorous than usual.”
“Touché,” grinned Robyn, getting up out of her seat to give Larry a welcoming kiss on the cheek. “So what’s up?”
“There’s been another murder.”
“Oh God, not again,” sighed Robyn. “When exactly?”
“This morning apparently.”
“Shit. I turned off my phone at the salon,” said Robyn, hastily pulling her mobile out of her bag.
“You’re in luck then.  It’s not officially hit the news yet. The Home Secretary’s office rang. He’s pulling out of today’s show to meet with the investigating officers before they release a statement later tonight. They’ve also scheduled a press conference for tomorrow morning and he’s under pressure to attend this time.  He’s sending someone over to replace him.”
“Phew,” said Robyn quickly tapping out a text to her editor. “I’ll have to get straight back over to The Herald as soon as we’re done and get an article written before we go to press. Who’s the replacement? Anyone we know?”
“Brad Gilbert.”
“Never heard of him,” said Robyn looking up as the ping on her phone acknowledged her message had been sent. “Is he some lowly backbencher?”
“No, he’s not a back bencher. It’s Brad Gilbert - the American industrialist,” said Larry, grinning triumphantly with his second piece of surprising news.
“What?” gasped Robyn. “The Brad Gilbert…of Safuture Technologies? How the hell did that come about?”
“Apparently, Gilbert and the Home Secretary are old acquaintances from Oxford. They were having lunch when the Home Secretary got the news. Gilbert actually volunteered to stand in for him. It’s all very curious.”
“Yes it is. I wonder if there’s a story in that somewhere?” said Robyn, making a mental note to trawl back through the Home Secretary’s business career. “Still, it’s a bit of a scoop; Gilbert’s kept a very low profile since moving some of his interests over here. This must be his first foray into television in the UK, maybe television in general. I don’t recall having seen him on any channel.  Do we know his political viewpoints?”
“Not really. He’s well known for his philanthropy in the States but doesn’t throw his weight around in politics. In fact, no one’s sure which party he even supports.”
“I bet he’s a gun toting right winger if he’s friends with the Home Secretary,” said Robyn with glee. “The Home Secretary’s desire to reinstate capital punishment is the worst kept secret in Westminster. Gilbert’s probably one of those American nutters who wears a ten gallon hat and keeps a cabinet of guns in his lounge ready to fire at any passing pigeon. He probably shoots calves for breakfast.  I bet he even models himself on Dirty Harry!”
            “I’m sure you’ll find a way to provoke him, Robyn. It’s what you do best,” chuckled Larry, delighted that Robyn was clearly up for making the most of their unexpected guest.
            “Hmm… maybe if Megan styled my hair into a bird’s nest that would be a good starting point,” said Robyn, grinning at Larry and Megan.
“Really, there’s no need for yo’all to make such an effort on my behalf.”
Robyn glanced to the door from where a slow American drawl had originated.  A tall, athletic man with an air of cool distain upon his face leaned nonchalantly against the doorframe. His hair was black, flecked with grey at the sides and his watchful eyes were the colour of rich, dark chocolate. He wore a tailored suit which reeked of Savile Row, the jacket of which was pushed back by his hands which were casually ensconced in his pockets which, combined with his open necked shirt, gave an overall air of casual indifference. Robyn recognised him immediately from the photographs that occasionally turned up in the business news. Only he looked more ruthless and arrogant in the flesh than she had ever imagined. A sudden hot flush swept over her as she realised Brad Gilbert had obviously heard all the idiotic things she’d said in jest.
Gilbert pushed himself off the doorframe, pulled his hands out of his trousers and sauntered into the room.
            “I always kinda thought Callahan was a bit gung-ho,” said Gilbert with an expressionless face as he moved forwards.
 Robin groaned inwardly with instant dislike. Not only did Brad Gilbert look arrogant but he was truly arrogant if he thought he was cooler than Clint. He was probably nothing more than a cowboy made good on the back of his wealthy parents. Robyn decided there and then she was going to roast alive him in the debate.
            “Brad, Brad, Brad,” said Larry, recovering from the momentary embarrassment and switching back into genial mode and clasping Gilbert’s hand as if he was an old friend. “Delighted, simply delighted you could make it tonight. Anything we can do to make you feel at home just ask.”
            “Well thank ’ye all,” said Brad, withdrawing his hand and tilting his head towards Megan.
             “Ma’am”
 Gilbert strode passed Robyn and plonked himself down in her chair, putting his feet up on the dressing table. Robyn’s mouth fell open in astonishment at the blatant rudeness.
             “Well that’s good of ya, Larry. But I kinda like it here. That Green Room place of yours is way too gaudy, looks like some whorehouse from way back west. I sure am glad you folks in England don’t do that style regular.”
Robyn looked at Larry and Megan, lifted up her forefinger and twirled it discreetly around by her side of head signalling she thought Brad Gilbert was a total fruitcake. And then, just as she was just about to open her mouth and tell him to get out of her chair he yanked her by the arm and dumped her unceremoniously on his lap.
            “Now, this’ll be the gal whom I’m to spar with on this here show of yours, Larry.”
            “Ah yes,” said Larry for once in his life almost speechless at the turn of events.
            “How dare you treat me like a horse!” spat Robyn, pushing her hair out of her face to find herself staring right into Brad’s haughty eyes which appeared to be examining her breasts like she was on sale at a farmyard auction.
            “A pretty gal here, Larry,” said Brad. “But a mouth like a cannonball. I sure hope she ain’t gonna give me no trouble.”
            “Ah no Brad, no, not at all,” lied Larry, knowing the look on Robyn’s face said there was definitely going to be trouble.
            “Five minutes everyone!” called the assistant floor manager, popping his head round the door.
            “Well now,” said Larry, clapping his hands together enthusiastically at the prospect of his ratings being given a massive boost by the mauling Robyn would undoubtedly give Brad, especially now that he had turned out to be some bizarre caricature of a wild west cowboy. “It’s show time! Let’s get going everyone!”
Robyn tried to wriggle free but Brad still had a firm grip on her arm and a foot wound around her ankles. As she squirmed she felt the muscles of his thighs pressed firmly against her bottom. And then she noticed there was something else pressed firmly against her bottom which most definitely wasn’t a leg. Robyn froze and looked Brad in the eye. He slowly raised one eyebrow and, in spite of herself, Robyn flushed a deep red.
            “Why you perv…” began Robyn.
            With a sudden jerk of his knee, Brad flicked Robyn off his lap and stood up.
            “Lead on, Larry,” said Brad, ignoring Robyn stumbling across the room as he pulled out a tie from his jacket pocket and fixed it in place. “Let’s get this ’ol show on the road then.”
            Robyn and Megan followed a few paces behind as Larry and Brad led the way down the corridor chatting amicably. Robyn smoothed down her dress, looked at Megan and rolled her eyes.
            “He’s weird,” whispered Megan. “But he is definitely hot. I give him a ten.”
            “Are you nuts?” whispered Robyn in return. “I’m deducting five points as he’s American and five points for being complete jerk. So that’s a big fat zero.”
            “Honey,” said Brad raising his voice but without turning around. “I ain’t sure what you got against us Americans but we’re supposed to have a “Special Relationship,” so quit your gossiping or I’m gonna tan your ass.”
            “I’d like to see you try,” said Robyn, aghast that Brad had been listening in on her conversation.
            “Honey, I don’t think I could possibly miss,” replied Brad.
            “Does my bum look big in these trousers?” whispered Robyn to Megan mortified her bum might look like Kim Kardshain’s. There were some fads that, even with her fashion background, Robyn was not keen to follow. “I thought it looked okay.”
            “It’s perfectly fine,” giggled Megan. “He’s teasing you.”
            “Why, the arrogant son-of-a bitch,” said Robyn marching up to Brad and poking Brad him vehemently in the back.
            “You got something to say, honey?” said Brad, breaking off his conversation with Larry and turning around.
            “Yes,” said Robyn.  “I suggest you keep your opinions to yourself in future, asshole.”
            “Well now, that’s not what I expected to hear from an English rose,” said Brad, raising his eyebrows as if mildly shocked. “I’ll be sure never to mention your ass again.”
            “Good,” replied Robyn with a satisfied smile.
            “But if you ever need to park it, I’ve room in my corral.”
            “You bastard,” said Robyn raising her hand but Brad catching it before she could whip it across his face.         
            “Now, now, children,” interrupted Larry, masking his laughter with a mock cough. “Can we save this…um…dispute…until we get in front of the cameras.”
            “Sure thing,” said Brad grinning and letting go of Robyn’s wrist before turning away and heading off up the corridor again.
            “My wrist is numb,” said Robyn rubbing it furiously where red marks from Brad’s tight grip had appeared.
            “I think he fancies you,” whispered Megan with a knowing smile as the two of them trailed after Brad and Larry.
            “Well I don’t fancy him,” replied Robyn. “And, apart from the fact I’ve only just met him, he’s a jerk.”
            “But he’s an incredibly rich jerk. You could do a lot worse,” giggled Megan.
            “Yeah well, right now I know where I’d shove his wallet.”
            Further up the corridor, Brad did a loud impression of a neighing horse.
                      
...............................................................................................................................................................

 To be continued….possibly....at some point....maybe....



Thursday, December 13, 2012

Yet More About Where's Wally Onesies

Too many people are googling Where's Wally Onesie and arriving here on my blog. I am assuming these people are just having a laugh and are not actually contemplating purchasing the said offending item of clothing.

Either way, I am declaring a National State of Emergency. 

Unfortunately, due to the poor mental health of a large number of people the stocks of Where's Wally onesies are running incredibly low. However, if  you so desire and are happy to be carted off to the local asylum you can purchase the delightful alternative pictured above for the princely sum of £6.00 from supermarket chain, Asda. They will sit nicely in the trolley along with the loo rolls and fire-lighters.







Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas, Turkeys, Lofts and Sunday Drivers

Yes, I know I'm always banging on about Sunday Drivers. I can't help it. They are the bane of my existence. So here we go again....

Christmas is coming. I know this, not because of the tinsel or the fairy lights or the fact that the radio is playing Fairytale in New York over and over again, but because the Sunday Drivers are out midweek. Yes, in the run up to Christmas Sunday Drivers actually leave their bungalows to venture out into the big wide world. The only other occasions during the year that they travel midweek are for their MOTs, doctor's appointments and visits to the crematorium. (Not usually in their own car though.)

Anyway, earlier this week I was stuck behind two Sunday Drivers (a group outing obviously) travelling at 40 mph on an A Road (60 mph speed limit). Usually when this happens I have to suppress the desire to conduct daring and suicidal overtaking manoeuvres. However, on this occasion my first thoughts were...

When are the last posting dates?

Do I have time to buy Christmas cards?

Have I got last year's Christmas cards I didn't send? (Yes.)

Where are the Christmas decorations?

Where is the key to the loft?

Could I actually get in the loft without being buried alive?

How long would it take to launch a search and rescue mission if I didn't return from the loft within 24 hrs?

How long could I survive nibbling on tinsel and waxworks of baby Jesus?

Do miracles happen??

You see, I know from years of experience that Christmas is getting dangerously close when Sunday Drivers have propped open their garage doors with their crutches and fired up their Ford Cortinas. The reason they do this is because... they are about to pay their annual visit to the butchers to pre-order their Christmas turkey.

Yep, a Sunday Driver must have a Christmas turkey and woe betide any Sunday Driver that does not have a turkey because Christmas is not Christmas without a thirty five pound turkey, spuds and some lukewarm Brussel sprouts.

By the way, the pre-ordered turkey is the one which the Sunday Driver will later collect at precisely 9.05am on Christmas Eve causing massive congestion in all town centres across the whole nation. This is because all those poor people who work and who only have Christmas Eve to collect their turkey will also be in town collecting their turkeys. If ever there was a time for the Second Coming this would be it. God wouldn't have to worry about the nation being entranced by a rerun of Morecombe and Wise or the X factor final he'd just look down from the heavens and see the whole nation queued up patiently waiting for the butchers to open at 9 am on Christmas Eve. Easy pickings for conversion.

Hey, People! Who fancies a trip to heaven or a three hour wait behind the Sunday Driver with the wind problem?

I know what I'd chose.

Okay, I know some of you are thinking that one day Mrs T will be a Sunday Driver and then I will get my comeuppance.  However, I have it on extremely good authority from Captain Kirk that by the year 2030 when I am 65 years old transporters will be the mode of transport and turkeys will be extinct. I will therefore be able to zap myself into the local pharmacy for some genetically engineered mutant turkey look-a-like flavoured supplements without inconveniencing anyone at all during the run up to Christmas.

"Beam me to the Pharmacy, Scottie. And don't forget to make it at the front of the queue!"
(By the way that's a pom pom hat on my head - it's what old people wear on their heads in the UK. Unless they're from Scotland where mostly they wear tartan berets- except when they're at a football match when they just put their kilts over their heads.)
Well that's it for today. I am off to order a turkey.

Ps I made that stuff up about hats and the Scots. Everything else on this blog is completely true.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It was a simple task...but

I go to get the eggs out of the chickens' nesting boxes. There are three eggs. As I pick them out my reading glasses fall off my head and down in between the nesting box and the lid of the hutch onto the floor of the cage.  So I balance the eggs on the plastic corrugated cover under the blue exterior sheeting and reach down: but there's no way I can reach my glasses.

Humph.

I go inside and get the barbecue tongs. I come back out, remove the bricks and wood that are weighing down the blue plastic exterior sheeting and roll it back up over the nesting boxes. Then I remove the plastic corrugated cover underneath the blue exterior sheeting. The eggs which I'd forgotten about fall off the corrugated sheeting down alongside my glasses and then blue plastic sheeting unfolds and drops down covering my glasses with snow.

Humph.

I finally lift up the wood frame and chicken wire lid to the chicken hutch. I retrieve my glasses and the eggs with my barbecue tongs. My cardigan gets caught on the chicken wire. I am stuck with my head inside the chicken coop with my glasses and two eggs in one hand and barbecue tongs delicately holding a third egg.

 Humph.

The lounge window opens. Master Sam leans out.

Have you got any money for the car park?

Try my purse.

Where's that?

In my handbag.

Where's that?

In my study.

The window closes.

Humph.

So I am fixed to the chicken coop dressed in my pyjamas,  a cardigan and pink wellies holding barbecue tongs, three eggs and a pair of reading glasses. There is snow everywhere and the chickens are distressed.

Apparently this is quite normal behaviour for me so no one thinks anything about it.

Humph.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Stop Press!


STOP PRESS!!

The Value of Damien Hirst's art has fallen by 30%!

At last there will be room in the modern art circles for me to forge a career! In celebration of this long awaited and overdue news I am posting a celebratory piece of my own artwork which I think far exceeds anything Damien has produced. It is called Sunset over pail of shit.

Sunset over pail of shit by J A Turley. Price on application.






Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fond memories of Larry Hagman and friendship

On the news this morning I read that the actor Larry Hagman, the evil villain of the Dallas TV series, has passed away after a battle with throat cancer.

I've never been a fan of soap operas or long running TV series but Dallas is one the very few that I have watched more than most. Mainly this is because Dallas and its glamorous counterpart, Dynasty, were very popular with my girlfriends at university. We would often meet up in a friend's room (she was fortunate enough to have a television in the days when it was still considered a privilege) and watch the weekly episode. It was a communal affair where relationships were built over cups of coffee, cheap biscuits and berating Larry or Joan for their latest misdemeanours.

 They were good times.

Larry Hagman 1931-2012 (Picture courtesy of Wikipedia)
Life has changed a lot since my college days with access to TV shows available to anyone with a computer or a mobile phone. I suspect it is much easier for students - or indeed anyone- to fall into a solitary existence whilst on the surface being in touch with perceived normality. I think that's quite sad because I don't think an emoticon is quite the same as shared laughter or tears. I also feel very fortunate that during my university education I made some wonderful friendships and whilst I don't see those friends as much as I would like, I know some of those relationships hold strong to this day.

So today when I read about the sad death of Larry Hagman what struck me most was the news that along with his family both his Dallas co-stars Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray were at his bedside when he died. Isn't that just marvellous of them? That surely must be the greatest test of friendship.

So I say: Well Done, Larry. You had a lovely family, a smashing career and true friends. You can't do better that.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What are you getting your partner for Christmas?


I'm getting Mr T a carpet cleaner for Christmas for all those nooks and crannies that somehow I just don't manage to clean very well. It's a statement present.

The unfortunate thing is that Mr T will probably like it.

Apparently this Bissell machine is great for stairways and pet accidents.  I am looking forward to Christmas afternoon where instead of singing along to the The Sound of Music we will be arguing over how to fix the attachments. 


Friday, November 16, 2012

Onesies II : You'd have to be a Wally to wear one

Do your remember Miss L? Miss L is my friend with whom I had a spat with over the actors Martin Shaw and Lewis Collins of The Professionals. Well, Miss L in response to my post You Are Kidding Me? Some Women Wear Onesies? emailed me to advise me that onesies for men ( a hideous concept)  featuring Wally from the Where's Wally book series are on sale in a department store in the UK. What's more, Miss L even offered to go in and make a purchase on my behalf. Naturally, my first thought was to de-friend Miss L on Facebook but then I came to my senses and remembered that Miss L really is a good friend and would not intentionally want to upset me with ghastly imagery of Mr T wearing a Where's Wally onesie.(Although I still haven't forgotten that Miss L has actually met Lewis Collins. And at some point there will have to be payback.)

Children love the Where's Wally book series which has highly illustrated pages featuring a character called Wally. The idea is (I believe)  that children are supposed to have "fun" finding Wally amongst the crowded scenes. However, from an adult perspective, this book series is not "fun" at all. It is truly mind numbingly boring. Indeed, many a time whilst reading a Where's Wally book have I wanted to shoot myself in the head. Unfortunately (or fortunately)  as I live in the UK I don't have access to a gun. I pity those poor parents who live in the US whose temptation to shoot themselves in the head whilst reading Where's Wally must be very real and tangible. Anyway, on  my boredom scale for children's book (and I've read a lot) Where's Wally is a top rated performer. It  was even more boring than Thomas the Tank Engine during which I at least got to make the peep-peep noises. Needless to say, I am so glad my kids are now reading joined up writing. It makes my heart leap with joy knowing I'll never to read (or should that be "look") at another Where's Wally book.

So back to my story - Miss L advised me that Mr T and I could have a lot of "fun" trying to find Wally on his onesie. I must now counteract this claim for the following reasons:

1) It would take days, possibly years, to locate Wally on Mr T as he over six foot tall. In my youth this might have constituted "fun." However, those were the days before I wore glasses for close up reading - these days I could spend about sixth months looking for Mr T's Wally and still not find it.  Besides, experience has taught me that glasses don't make anything look good, especially a Wally.

2) I fear there would not actually be any Wally onesies big enough for Mr T; the leg and arm openings would probably be half way up his limbs. Thus, when I did eventually find Mr T's Wally and we wanted to celebrate we would have to take a trip down to casualty which would probably dampen the celebrations. What's more, that's the kind of embarrassing situation that junior doctors photograph so that when they become consultants they can put them on slide shows to illustrate to their students what horrific injuries they've had to deal with: I do not think Mr T would take too kindly to being immortalized in medical history.

3) When I see onesies it brings out the mothering instinct in me and I'd probably start talking in baby-speak. It would probably sound something like this:

Where's your cutey Wally my little baby waby? Mummy can't find the teeny-weeny fellow. Shall we play air planes instead? Now you open your mouth wide and mumsy-pumsy will fly this lovely- wuverly broccoli smoothie right into your mouthy-wouthy.

 Right here we go...

Zooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm..........................................................................

So what, in effect, I'm saying is; I would sound like a idiot, Mr T would like an idiot and we probably both be locked away in a loony bin for safekeeping.

So to sum up: No man should wear a onesie. Indeed no man, woman or beast should wear ever a onesie. Except perhaps David Cameron but that's only because it would look good with his dummy. Which is not Nick Clegg (although I know some of you are thinking that's what I'm thinking) as Nick Clegg is a very, very, nice man and it's not his fault his name rhymes with Egg. Cameron's dummy is obviously the one across the floor. Yeah, that's right. Milipede. Or whatever his name is.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I Like Spam

I've been feeling a bit bored today. I have plenty to do though. In fact, too much to do which is why I probably can't settle down to do anything in particular. The laundry, the ironing and the general  cleaning is screaming out at me as well as the possibility of a search and rescue mission for some old underpants in Master Jacob's room which smells distinctly of vinegar. Curious. There's also my book to continue which is now over 50,000 words. However, I just can't settle to anything at all.  Nope. No can do. To use an English expression: I kinda have ants in my pants but due to boredom not excitement.

Anyway, boredom usually leads in my case to depression. Not bi-polar which is for the celebs but the kind of depression that lead to chocolate digestives and strong cups of coffee laced with whiskey. Maybe even a doughnut or two. Or if I'm feeling really suicidal - filing my nails and actually painting them.

However, I am now no longer bored today! Hurrah! This is because I have just received an email from George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, to tell me I have inherited $16. 5 million dollars!!!!!!!

However, George needs to know I am not dead (hence the email) so that I may become a beneficiary of the will of Mr Fredrick Williams. Mr Williams is apparently an old business associate of mine. I can't quite remember Freddy but he might just be the old gentleman I sold some empty jam jars to at a car boot sale in 1993.

Anyway, George just needs to know my full name, residential address, nationality, date of birth, profession, age and status, my office telephone and fax, mobile phone, country of origin and copies of my passport and drivers licence and finally my private email address so he can start processing my transaction through Her Majesty's Counsel.

Strangely as yet George hasn't asked for my bank and tax details. I'm assuming that's because he already knows them as he's been sucking the blood out of Mr T and I for years and years.

I know - I'll write back to George and tell him he can just pay it all into the Treasury! I expect George will be over the moon with my initiative.

Hmm..me thinks it's time for that doughnut now.




Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Oh My! Ten Wholly Crap thoughts relating to Fifty Shades of Grey

1. As a child E L James was probably obsessed by Batman. This has obviously left her were a life long legacy of writing like a comic strip author with an obsession for gimp masks.

2. You can write wholly crap and still sell bucket loads of books. This is excellent news for any unpublished author. I am currently practising my writing techniques by watching the complete series of Batman. I am going to follow it up with Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk and Thunderbirds. This will ensure that any racy novel I may write in the future will feature lots of oversized men in tights wearing quaint little hats who can contort themselves into all sorts of positions. Kinky.

3. Cable ties are not just for cables. I truss up my Christmas turkey with cable ties but I now know some people truss each other up with them. The last time I was at the garden centre and asked for cable ties the assistant gave me a querying look to which I replied: "The last time I trussed up my husband was in 1991. That was on my wedding night when he got caught up in my tights."

It looks sophisticated but inside it reads like my intestines feel after a bad curry.

4.  When a twenty one year old virgin meets a twenty seven year old multi-millionaire heavy petting and whipping is on the cards. When a eighty one year virgin meets a eighty seven year old multi-millionaire it's just cards or, at best, playing Doctors & Nurses. Unfortunately, the doctors and nurses in those instances usually involve a trip to ER.

5. I am probably not the submissive type although for a small fortune I might reconsider. In fact, going with the latest trend I'm thinking of auctioning myself on Ebay to the highest bidder. I will be putting a reserve price of ten pence and a packet of cheese and onion crisps.

6. The latest rival to E L James is the author, Sylvia Day, whose novel Bared to You is apparently selling well. She said this about Fifty Shades:

 "The Fifty Shades series is a Cinderella story, where the characters seemingly have no flaws." 

Well yes, Fifty Shades is indeed a rag to riches story but do Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele really have no flaws?  What planet is Ms Day on? The two protagonists are totally screwed up: Anastasia talks like Robin and Christian acts like he's been shut in a wardrobe for twenty years with his penis caught in the door.



7. I should have bought Fifty Shades of Grey in paperback instead of on Kindle. We were short on kindling for Bonfire night.

8. The key to a heroine bagging a billionaire or romantic hero is to study literature, become a bookaholic and preferably work in publishing or in a bookshop. Working in a library will not suffice as billionaires do not visit libraries as they only buy limited edition or antique books - unless it's a contemporary sex guide in which case they download it on their Kindle.( A billionaire is obviously very clever so he can make do with just the text as, ironically, all the illustrations on his Kindle will be totally f**** up.)

9. It was not worth me reading the two later books in the Fifty Shades series as I already knew what would happen. Indeed, after I read the reviews of the sequels I was so encouraged by my powers of prediction I thought about starting a career as a psychic. However, when I applied to take a psychic's diploma course I was told I didn't have the suitable qualifications to undertake such a demanding course. Apparently one must either have a degree in literature, work in publishing or in a bookshop.

10. I am still awaiting the release of a book about ways to improve my laundry skills under which false pretences I bought Fifty Shades of Grey. I would nominate Domestic Goddess, Nigella Lawson, to write this book only the thought of her making out with her bedsheets the way she makes out with Crème Brulee makes my stomach heave.

On a final note: you can easily see from this episode of Batman how E L James was heavily influenced by Batman. In this episode Batman and Robin are trapped in side a box room full of spikes and subjected to the evil torture of the purring Catwoman. I can only thank god that E L James watched Batman rather than Marine Boy because I just don't think I could stomach an undersea version of Fifty Shades of Grey.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

In Defence of Thomas

Forget Thomas Hardy. Forget Dylan Thomas. Let’s talk about the Thomas who has made more impact than any of his namesakes.

Let’s talk about Thomas the Tank Engine.

I want to make one thing clear first. Nothing would make me happier than taking a flame thrower to Thomas or blowing him up with a stick of dynamite.

You see, as the mother of three sons, over the last 18 years I've read every Thomas book and watched every spin-off video. I've even sat through that awful film starring Alec Baldwin which was like having pins stuck through my head. I've also trudged through countless engine sheds and had my bones shaken till I'm on the edge of a breakdown whilst enduring “fun” steam rides. In addition, I hold Thomas personally responsible for the time when pregnant with No 3 the miniature steam engine I was sitting on derailed. If that imagery isn't enough to make you queasy, let me tell you I've also risked my life by driving with one hand whilst pointing out the window and yelling “Look, there’s a steam engine whoo-whoo!” Yes, when you’re desperate to avoid the kids stabbing each other in the car even a steam engine becomes interesting. In fact I've been known to become almost orgasmic at the site of a puff of smoke or high pitch whistle when faced with the alternative of another rear seat punch up.

I’ll not deny too that my evenings reading Thomas books, which I found poorly written, repetitive and unimaginative, were sheer utter torture. Subsequently, after many years of agony, the day I took those books and videos to the school fayre was one of the happiest days of my life. Knowing I would never again hear that monotonous music or Ringo Starr’s uninspiring narration was like winning the lottery.

However, no matter how much I despised Thomas, no matter how much I wanted to read books with more interesting “puffing and panting”, I only parted with Thomas when my boys were ready. Why? Because Thomas the Tank Engine had given them heaps and heaps of pleasure and entertainment. Countless hours were spent reading, watching videos and building train tracks that would span several rooms. What’s more, when my boys were sick and incapacitated I could always rely on Thomas to spin a little magic. Thomas was a hero unmatched by any other preschool book or cartoon character.

So when I read a few weeks back that Shauna Wilton, a Canadian professor of political science had analysed 23 episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine and delivered her findings to a conference in a speech that included a number of negative anti Thomas statements and concluded that he “represents a conservative political ideology that punishes individual initiative, opposes critique and change, and relegates females to supportive roles…Any change is seen as disrupting the natural order of things” I was ready to fly to Canada, tie the woman to some train tracks and run her over at 50 miles per hour whilst humming a well known children’s television theme tune. (Yep, you guessed which one!)

Luckily for Professor Wilton, my eldest son, who despite his monstrous upbringing subjected to hideous Thomas cartoons with dark undertones of bigotry, racism and right wing ideology, held me back. Yes, unbelievably, despite his running around my house screaming “Peep, peep I'm Thomas and you’re the Fat Controller Mummy” (an accurate statement) he’s turned out to be pretty well adjusted and sensible. “You can’t do that Mum,” he said. “The woman is clearly a fruitcake. Just go to your study and chill out. And don’t forget to build that new bridge while you’re there, I want to test out Percy later.”

Look, what’s wrong with these left wing academics? Are they all nuts? Thomas the Tank Engine is about steam engines with silly faces! Do we have to take all this politically correct mumbo jumbo so seriously?! If so, I want to object to Postman Pat because frankly he spends far too much time in the company of sheep and I find that more worrying than one of my sons becoming a trainspotter.

Oh alright, I’ll be sensible for a moment.

Thomas the Tank Engine was written in the 1940s by The Rev W Awdry, a Church of England vicar. Of course it’s going to reflect the age in which it was written and the Reverend’s experiences but does that mean it should be singled out as a bad example to children of today? No, it shouldn't  By all means, if some people want to use it as a learning tool to educate their children about feminism and social class, then that’s their prerogative but I seriously doubt whether any preschool child understands such concepts or is likely to be subconsciously influenced by conservative ideologies. In my experience, little children are only interested in the adventures, the colourful characters and a happy ending. And that’s the way it should be.

I agree with Professor Wilton that we should be concerned about what our children watch and read, but I'm afraid my concerns are primarily if they have access to unsuitable adult material. I believe that as children grow they have to learn to assimilate information for themselves and to differentiate between fact and fiction, past and present, right and wrong. Reading childhood literature from other eras is part of that process. It’s a way of opening up the world to them in an educative and creative way which allows them to safely explore new worlds both real and imagined. Forcing a child to see your own opinions, which may be invisible to them, undermines this process. It may even curtail their pleasure and be indoctrination of the worst kind.

The truth is I'm concerned that this wave of political correctness that started out as a well meaning intention to protect civil liberties, has now spiralled out of control. Children’s literature is becoming increasingly “inclusive” and many words and terms have now been branded offensive when there is no offence intended. Of course, I want to see literature that is representative of all aspects of society and of course I don’t want to hear genuinely offensive words but what happened to reflecting the interests of the majority and the concept of free speech? And where will all this ridiculous moral sanctioning end? When the likes of Awdry and Blyton are banned for being too sexist and middle class? I hope not, but Professor Wilton is typical of a new breed of academics and politicians who seek to assert their own opinions of universal equality and conformity on all. Their tolerance has become intolerance and to my mind that’s not political correctness or democracy. It’s fascism.

You know, I think there are a lot of good, strong moral messages in Thomas the Tank Engine. I don’t agree that the messages in Thomas “punish initiative” but instead offer clear definitions of what is right and wrong; naughty behaviour is punished and good behaviour is rewarded. These are simple, effective messages for a young child to absorb at the age when they are discovering and testing their parental and social boundaries. They are important lessons to learn for any child, or indeed anyone, who wants to live within a functioning society.

So should I be lucky enough one day to become a grandparent, like millions of other grandparents and mums and dads all over the world, I shall be reading Thomas the Tank Engine to my grandchildren. Possibly I’ll feel less vehemence towards him then and I’ll only remember the delight on my children’s faces as I peep-peeped and poop-pooped my way through all the adventures.

And as for Professor Wilton? What she needs is good ride on a steam engine with a tender behind.

This article was first published on The View From Here in January 2010

Friday, November 9, 2012

You Are Kidding Me? Some Women Wear Onesies?

Earlier in the year I talked about an item of clothing that has now grown so huge in popularity it is featuring on the news, radio and in the national newspapers. It's called the Onesie. It's basically like a baby's sleep suit - only for adults. If you remember, I personally designed one for Tom Cruise back here. (Age 13- 14 obviously.) Just in case you forgotten this is what it looked liked:

As you can see, I made a lot of effort.

Sadly, this morning when I did my early morning peruse of the papers I saw a GROWN WOMAN wearing one of these here. Unfortunately, the photographer took the picture of her also clutching a large teddy bear -so not only does she now look ridiculously stupid but also mentally unstable. 

Now, I have to say, I am not convinced that any woman in her late forties and who has had children would wear a Onesie so I think this article is possibly a put-up job by The Daily Mail. Here's why:

1. As anybody who has ever worn a jumpsuit will know - you cannot get out of them in a hurry. This means whilst wearing a Onesie it would also be advisable to wear a nappy. When I get up in the morning it's like a hundred metres dash to get the bathroom and if anyone gets in my way they are liable to find themselves either flattened or pinned to the wall. Wearing a Onesie would severely reduce my ability to pee in a dignified manner whilst at the same time increasing my laundry load. 

2. Any woman who has ever a hot flush will tell you that you do not want to be wearing something that takes two days and a crowbar to get out of. Not unless you want to roast and feed yourself to cannibals. A woman needs nightwear that be removed in less than a second so that she can breathe easily thus avoiding  a) a panic attack  b) the onset of thrush  or c) spontaneous combustion. 

3. Any woman who wants to stay married would not wear a Onesie. I have worn many weird and wonderful outfits to bed ( I'm going to be short on the detail here as it's a family site) but I have never worn anything that makes me look a)  I've just escaped from Rehab b) I've escaped from Rehab and wandered into Mothercare or c) Jimmy Saville. 

To conclude: No woman should ever, ever, ever wear a Onesie. They should be outlawed and burnt in a large pile outside parliament.

And if someone could toss a few of those politicians on at the same time things should start looking up.



Thursday, November 8, 2012

Seriously???

I just rang the school transport service for a replacement bus pass for Master Jacob.

Brrring Brrring, Brrring, Brrring

ReceptionistHello, School Transport Service

Mrs T: Good morning, I need a replacement school bus pass for my son.

Receptionist: Is he of school age?

Mrs T (in her head) No, he's a F***** pensioner.

Mrs T (out loud) Yes.

I now know why I can't get a job - I am too clever.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Skyfalling to a Stop

Yesterday we went as a family to see the latest Bond movie, Skyfall. I don't want to give any spoilers so I'll just say it was far superior to the last Bond movie which had kind of lost the plot. Well I lost the plot of it anyhow and I couldn't be bothered to revisit it either as I have done most of the Bond movies over the years.

So anyway, after all the trauma and excitement of a big Bond climax I had to go where all ladies have to go after two hours and twenty minutes with Mr Bond - the lavatory. So I rushed off to the Ladies, pulled open the big red entrance door with a queue of ladies behind me and started tugging at the next door that comes into my vision. I tug... I pull... I try to wrench the door off it's hinges with a muscular Bond vice-like grip but the darn thing won't budge. Eventually, a voice chirps up behind me:

"That's the broom cupboard, Love. The toilets are straight ahead of you."

Well how was I to know? You see that's what Mr Bond does to me. Stops me thinking straight.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Breaking News

As occasionally happens I must interrupt the inactivity on this blog to report ground breaking news;

I have just used a magnifying glass to read the baking instructions on a packet of bread mix.

Shit.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy and Stormy Weather

We Brits are always moaning about our weather. We can make a moan about the weather last an entire afternoon. Sometimes we can make it last all winter, especially if there's more than one inch of snow. Yes, if there's more than one inch of snow the entire country grinds to a halt, especially the transport system which can't even cope if a leaf blows on the track. Believe me, Readers, if you're ever suffering from depression in the UK you do not want to go and visit your relatives using public transport because it will finish you off and you'll be underneath the wheels of  a high speed train before you know it. Have you ever stood around at a British train station and noticed that everyone looks like their mother's died, they lost out on a pay rise and they just discovered they've got alopecia? Well if you have - it's because the network is running two hours behind schedule due to a solitary leaf blowing on the track in an obscure station in North West Scotland. So take my sound advice - if you come to the UK to visit London take a Black Cab or failing that - walk. It'll be a hell of a lot quicker.

A Black Cab. It won't be long before the EU says we must call them  Personal Carriages. 

I suppose here in the UK we have quite unpredictable weather on a daily basis. This means you never know, without checking the forecasts, whether to wear wellies and waterproofs or sandals and sun hats. Rain stops play not just at Wimbledon but at pretty much every sporting event throughout the whole year. It can be a complete drag not seeing feeling the warmth of the sun for months on end. I have bottles of sunscreen in my bathroom cabinet that are nearly ten tears old. Which is almost as old as some of the spices in my pantry. Anyway, I'm not sure if I've even seen sunshine this year. I have seen a lot of rain though and I mean a lot. Oh yes. Feeding my chickens in the rain is very memorable. There's something quite odious about chicken shit isn't there?

Anyway enough whining. (Notice how I've already managed two paragraph about the weather - I said we Brits can jabber on about it for yonks didn't I?) Unlike many other regions across the world although we have erratic weather we rarely suffer from serious extremes of weather in the UK.  We are very fortunate. I know that very soon Hurricane Sandy is going to hit the East Coast of the United States and it's been on my mind for for two reasons. Firstly, by bizarre coincidence, the chief protagonist of my novel is called Sandy and I've been at my desk almost constantly the last few days writing her story. She's a lot nicer than Hurricane Sandy though which is why I've called her Sandy Lovett. She's a bit of a whirlwind but only in a good way. I've also been thinking about Hurricane Sandy as my good friend, Marie over at Nourish lives in New Jersey which will probably take a battering in the storm. Marie, who suffers from MS, is unable to leave town which is not an ideal situation.

Besides my friend, Marie, there's also quite a few folks from the US who pop into my blog from time to time. So if you live on the East Coast of the US or indeed anywhere else suffering from extremes of weather I hope you and your families stay safe and sound and that Sandy blows herself out sooner rather than later. Fingers crossed.

And to end, here's a silly song by the irrepressible Noel Coward which struck a chord with me. It's got a World Weary title but somehow it's really quite relaxing.