Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Writing Again

Yesterday, my writing therapy consisting of working on my novel which was a quiet relief. It was good to get going again as I'd been about three quarters through a chapter when I'd come to a standstill a few weeks ago. Aside from the school holidays and being stressed out from our present circumstances,  I'd also set myself up for a large scale comedy finale but then decided against it because I'd already written it before on a smaller scale in the book and decided I probably couldn't do it as well or better on the bigger scale. So without abandoning the whole chapter, which  introduced some interesting characters in my main protagonist life, I had to think up something else to bring the chapter to a swift conclusion, especially as by now I was completely bored stiff with it. Naturally, I couldn't think of anything remotely sensible.

In the end I decided the best thing to do was to make everyone fall off their chairs. Yeah, I know it doesn't sound that conceivable but remember this is MY book and not David Mitchell or Philippa Gregory - or indeed anything remotely resembling literary writing.

Here's what I wrote. Now remember this is just a first draft. It may get better or worse or very possibly, even sillier. I may even edited it out entirely. However, this will probably give you a taste of the completely stupid world that I inhabit. You are welcome to give feedback. Obviously, if you think it's rubbish then do say so - I already have a large file marked "Rubbish" so it won't break my heart and it will be darn sight cheaper than using a professional editor. And, of course, if this were somehow to become a best selling novel you have the chance to say you knew me when I was just a poor, confused housewife and helped to shape my literary writing career. ( I'm modelling myself on Sue Ellen at the moment - I'm in the "drunk, unfit mother" stage.)

Mr Mason flinches at the physical contact and the unabashed and inappropriate use of his nickname, draws in his knees and shoulders and shifts towards Mr Baker so that the two of them are squashed up like sardines. Baker bursts out in a sweat and shuffles awkwardly across his seat, his bullous body pushing Len from delivery into Sally from admin who nudges Harvey from sales, who leans away and head butts Guy, also from sales, who clasps his head, screams and dramatically lurches sideways so that he gives a large shove to willowy Margaret from accounts  who promptly falls off  her end seat like an upright pencil off a table and lands with her legs in the air with her wholesome Marks and Spencers peach coloured knickers on display underneath her twenty denier tights. The whole place descends into uproar. Frosty jumps up to the rescue, Mr Mason looks like he’s about to have an embolism and I burst out in uncontrollable laughter.  I look at Mrs M through my tears and she winks at me with a smug, self-satisfied smirk creeping across her powdered cheeks.
“I think we’d better end it here,” says Frosty, hurriedly. “Everyone back to their stations. Doors open in five minutes. Everyone ready for those customers! Shoot to kill Ladies and Gents. Shoot to kill!”
“Anyone would win think we were going over the top,” says Mrs M idling past me towards the exit to the canteen as Mason, Baker and Frosty converge in the middle of the sales floor, the staff disband and Margaret strides off to the office to file an accident report. “Coming for a cuppa? “
I look towards the main doors for the potential rush of early morning customers; there’s just an elderly couple wearing matching dogtooth coats being buffeted by the wind.  The man’s hands are deep in his pockets and his face buried in a paisley scarf and the woman is wearing black knitted gloves, a black beanie hat pulled down over her ears and is desperately clutching one of our flyers which looks like it might be ripped out her hands at any moment. It is pouring with rain and there isn’t anyone else in sight, not even outside Argos where there is usually a small clutch of folks eager to return to their unwanted gifts.
“Yes, I’m coming,” I reply, picking up my bag and file and trailing after Mrs M. “I think they can manage the full frontal assault without me.”

Any thoughts then?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Silly Voices, Stray Cats and yet more about Bikes

Yesterday I made first mention of Mr Spectre, my new cat. Mr Spectre is not like ordinary cats. (Not that  I've been lucky enough to have that many "ordinary" cats - most of them have had deep seated personality disorders.) However, Mr Spectre is perhaps more disturbed than most cats because he lived on the street for nearly three years. Basically, he's emotionally damaged. Well that's what a US pet psychiatrist would say after charging you fifty bucks.That's opposed to a UK pet psychiatrist who would say;

 "And what is Mr Spectre's postcode? SW 19? Right that's fift...a hundred pounds. Now about long term treatment for his personality disorder.... "

However, since Mr T was made redundant I've had to economize so I've worked out Mr Spectre's problems myself. I've watched him defecate in the hallway, in the bathroom and on the upstairs rug. I've watched him eat a croissant and a blueberry smoothie and chase his tail around and around in circles. He stalks Mr Bond and anything resembling mice, toes and legs or indeed any part of the lower body. When he's not attacking me when I'm in a defenceless position in the bathroom, he's under my feet in the kitchen or on my chest looking at me with evil eyes. And when he not glued to my side like a limpet he's camped on the stairs where he can see all the action and is in prime position to attack any pair of passing feet. He rarely appears to sleep and he is constantly talking to me. If I speak to him he meows right back. He is probably the devil in disguise but the one thing I am sure about is - He is nuts.

So obviously Mr Bond (my other cat) is a bit put out. However, the other consequence of Mr Spectre hanging around is that Mr T has suddenly noticed that I spend a lot of time talking in silly voices. In fact I think he is thinking of sending me to a psychiatrist. Now I have always talked to animals in silly voices - it's one of my endearing characteristics (am I selling this to you well enough?) but it's probably got worse since the boys went to school and I spend a lot of time alone. But now Mr Spectre has arrived and Mr T is at home a lot my "endearing" trait is looking more like a... personality disorder. Anyhow, this is how a conversation with Mr Spectre might go:

Mr Spectre: Meow, meow, meooowwww....

Mrs T: So you want to go out? (In a silly voice obviously.)

Mr Spectre: Meow

(Mrs T walks to door and opens it. Mr Spectre sits down in the hallway and looks outside.)

Mrs T: I thought you said you wanted to go outside?

Mr Spectre: Meow

Mrs T: It's too cold for you? 

Mr Spectre: Meow.

(Mrs T closes door.)

Mr Spectre: Meow, moew, moewwwwwwww

Mrs T: Oh you do want to go outside! Just getting use to the temperature?

Mr Spectre: Meow.

(Mrs T opens door. Mr Spectre stays rooted to the spot.)

Mrs T: Aren't you going outside then? 

Mr Spectre: Meow.

Mrs T: In? (Closes door) or out? (Opens door) 

( Mrs T repeats opening and closing door five times whilst becoming increasingly agitated.)

Mr Spectre: Meow, meow, meow...........meow, meow, meow.

Mrs T: Hmm...I see - you want some food?

Mr Spectre; Meow.

Mrs T: Biscuits?

(Mrs T fills bowl with biscuits. Mr Spectre turn his nose up into the air.)

Mr Spectre: Meow, meow, meow.

Mrs T: I see - you want meat?

(Mrs T puts meat in bowl. Mr Spectre sniffs it and turns away.)

Mr Spectre: Meow.

Mrs T: What?! You want chicken flavour? What's wrong with beef?!

Mr Spectre: Ahhh....meow, meow, meow, meow, hiss, meow.

Mrs T: Hmm... how about a... a croissant?

Mr Spectre: Meow!

Yep, so what you can tell from this typical conversation is that I spend a lot of time talking to animals. (Bear in mind there are 7 chickens in the garden.) Now I like to think I know what animals are saying and I wrote about this attribute in my post I can talk to the animals. However, the sad truth is, Dear Readers, is I don't have a sodding clue what they're saying. Which probably just means I'm a mixed up middle class woman with a deep seated psychological problem. Luckily, my problems are probably not so great as the people who Goggle "I can talk to the animals", " My parrot and I are in love" and "My cat told me to speak to a medium" and who end up here on my blog on my post I can talk to the animals. Now those people are genuinely NUTS.

I love Statcounter. (It's a statistical analysis website.)  It tells me all sorts of facts and figures about my blog - for example which countries people come from to read my blog. At one point, I was big in the farming community in Germany. I wanted to know why they were discussing me `but I would have to had joined their community to find out so I couldn't be bothered. Besides, I failed my German O Level so my German only goes as far as "Ve Von zee War. Ha, ha, ha." so I don't think I would have struck up that many positive conversations. It probably wasn't that flattering anyway - not unless they found my quintessentially English sense of humour particularly amusing. (Ho hum)

The most interesting thing about Statcounter though  is discovering what  phrases people put in Google which bring them to my blog. I am always deeply satisfied when someone has got to page 274 on Google and has then clicked on my blog. It's good to know that after wading 274 pages of rubbish something catches their eye about my writing. Anyhow, my two most popular searches at the moment are Saucy Story (My short story Caught Short) where I am paged ranked no 1. (Fame at last - wish I'd made it into an Ebook) and my post The Bike with One big Wheel and One Small Wheel which is also ranked on page one of Google. Now I should be thrilled about this but the sad fact is far, far, far, too many people don't know that The Bike with One Big Wheel and One Small Wheel is called (and I say it once again) A PENNY FARTHING.

So, Dear Readers, I have a solution to this lack of historical bike knowledge; I intend to make a bike documentary. I will be both producer and presenter of this documentary - thus catapulting myself to world wide fame as a respected authority on antique bikes and solving the Turley financial crisis in one fell swoop. I have been putting my ideas together for this breathtaking and enlightening documentary. It will go something like this:

Opening credits;

The Bike With One Big Wheel and One Small Wheel

Produced, presented and directed by Jane Turley.

Then the credits will cut to a shot of me standing in front of a bike with one big wheel and one small wheel. I will be wearing a Victorian costume to add to the gravitas of the situation. Then I will slowly move to one side to reveal the full bike at which point I will say:

"This bike with one big wheel and one small wheel is called.....


I repeat... it is called ....A PENNY FARTHING.

(The added phrase - "you dimwits" will have been edited out.)

Then the credits will roll.

It's a penny farthing!

Right - so that's today's writing therapy. God knows what tomorrow will bring.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

There's a new mummy in town

Knock, knock.

I hop downstairs trying to avoid the new stray cat, Mr Spectre, who has taken up residence on the staircase. I open the front door. It's the postman, Graham.

"Morning; it's a lovely sunny day," says Graham, handing over a parcel. "Are you going for your walk today?"

" I might do."

" Well it would be a pity to miss the sunshine"

"You're right," I say, looking past Graham at the clear blue sky. "It's beautiful."

"Have you heard that an Egyptian Archaeologist has discovered a new mummy?"

"Really?" I reply, my curiosity piqued.

"Yes," nods Graham wisely. "Apparently, it was found covered in nuts and chocolate and is called Ferrero Rocher."

Now that's why I like living in a village. Someone's always got a smile.

Ferrero Rocher Swiss chocolates -Even Roger Federer eats them. Now that's class. Andy Murray eats haggis - which may not be class but it puts fire in your belly and wind in your guts. How else did  Connor MacLeod become immortal? Besides,you can't fight off a seven foot killer with just a girly Japanese sword and a few tips from a man dressed in tight pants and a feather in his hat.

A Spicy Chinese Takeaway

I can always find something to make me laugh. Yesterday, it was the discovery of an automatic sperm extractor which is apparently being used in fertility clinics in Chinese hospitals to help those poor folks who can't get it up at the required moment.

What has the world come to when a man can't get it up without the use of a modified vacuum cleaner? I despair, I really do.

I have to thank the Daily Mail for publishing the original article. It might not be the paper it was but their sense of investigative journalism is really quite unique. All I need to know now is when one of these machines is installed in The White House and we will have a major international crisis and a journalistic scoop bigger than Kate's breasts and certainly bigger than Harry's assets. I look forward to reading all about it in due course.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Daily Thoughts and Writing Therapy

I got up yesterday morning and thought I'd start catch up on some of my blog buddies. I've been sadly neglectful of late as I've been very busy and quite stressed. Yes, even the good natured Mrs T gets stressed - mainly I get stressed about education and bad drivers but I also about A LOT of other things, including poaching eggs.

Hmm...if I'm getting stressed about poaching eggs I probably ought to be on tranquillisers.

However, writing a couple of blogs and reading some blog posts has chilled me out a bit. But it was only when Georgie over at Cedar Falls was discussing writing as therapy I realised that instead of writing less, as I have been doing lately, I should actually be writing more - as writing is my number one therapy. Later, I nipped over to Book Calender's blog Daily Thoughts for a catch up. Sometimes Book Calender only writes a few short sentences but nevertheless he writes every day and I am in awe; I can just about manage to brush my teeth daily. Anyway, as a consequence of  reading Georgie and Book Calender's blogs I thought I might try and write a few words every day for a week or so and see if that helps my stress levels and also if I can get back into writing my novel which over the school holidays has ground to a complete halt.

So how can a Stay at Home Mum (SAHM) be so busy and stressed? Here's no 1 and no 2 reasons:

This is Master Jacob who has just turned 14 and is now 6 foot and towers over me. In the last three weeks he has taken  9 tennis titles in the locality including the County U14 boys singles, the County U14 Boys Doubles (with Master Ben) and the County U18 Mixed doubles. Jacob also plays cricket when he is not playing tennis. The days and weekends can be very long. But also very rewarding.

Master Ben is 11 now and is also excellent at tennis and is the county no 1 at U12 as has been almost continuously since he moved up from U10 -despite being nowhere near his best as he has been stressed out by the events at school last year which have, without doubt, affected his confidence. Ben has been working on a one handed backhand; it is going to be awesome, even if I say so myself! Ben also represents  the county U11 cricket squad as a left arm pace bowler who can also do some serious slogging.

In order to excel at sport in the UK you have to be totally committed. You also have to have a parent who can ferry you around at strange hours during school, after school, in the evenings and the weekends - especially if you are in the state school system and don't have any opportunity to practise at school. Out of the UK Olympians 37% of our medal winners attended private school but private schools represent only 7% of schools in the UK. This suggests several things: state schools don't have enough facilities and their curriculum is weak on sport but mostly it suggest that in the UK that you have to be wealthy to succeed in sport - particularly in some sports where the cost of equipment and training is astronomical and out of reach of all but a select few. As a family we put all our spare cash into the boys sporting and educational development but sadly that won't be anywhere near enough to take them to the top.

Reason no 3:

This is a smoothie. Master Sam is on a diet of smoothies and  soft drinks as he has just had  his jaw and chin broken and his teeth wired to correct a jaw misalignment.  He declined to have his upper jaw broken and plastic surgery on his upper lip as those needs were more aesthetic than medical. I wasn't sure if that was the right decision at the time but seeing the amount of discomfort now I think that it was, especially as those procedures would have had minimal impact on his features.His jaw is now set with metal plates (permanently) and his teeth are wired together for at least six weeks. We have still got 4 weeks to go and he is due back to college on the same day at as his next appointment at the hospital. I couldn't persuade them to change the date. Not even with pleading eyes. Sigh.

Reason no 4
This is a UB40 form which you  get when you claim unemployment benefit. Mr T was made redundant in January and is still looking for full time work. Luckily, he has got some part time work lecturing at the local university but it a mere fraction of his previous income. There's a very good job on the horizon but even if that comes off we are still probably at least 3 months or more from getting back to normal.

 Reason no 5:

I am applying for jobs and this is a council job application form.  At the moment I'm still looking for jobs that fit in with the boy's sports which is almost nigh impossible. I'm over qualified for most. Also, all the applications I've filled in are ridiculously long and needlessly complicated. You have to explain everything in the smallest detail, including exams you've failed and every job you ever done back to the year zero and all their responsibilities - even though the job title in itself should demonstrate what responsibilities were necessary to someone with half a brain. You also have to answer how you match their job description for every function of the job, even though you may already have covered in your qualifications and previous job listings.  In contrast for a top executive job you could just send off a CV with some tweaking. It drives me nuts - especially when you may not even get an acknowledgement after having spend days trying to think up ways to make one month working in a fashion shop in 1986 sound important or that cycling proficiency test in 1975 make you sound like Evel Knievel.

Okay, so I haven't put down the cycling proficiency test, my bronze medal in swimming or the day I almost passed an exam but failed by one mark. (It's true.) I haven't even mentioned the month in a fashion shop in Essex, the day in a book shop in Tottenham court Road, the week in a cafe on Weston Super Mare seafront or the summer in Tescos when I was sixteen - but you probably get my drift! 

Basically, I am totally wound up and need to relax!  Mr T is somewhat chilled though as we still have some cash from our inheritances in the bank but my over-active imagination is working full speed ahead. I have imagined every scenario possible including a penniless retirement, the boys having to drop their sport and me working full time as a basket weaver.

So there you have it - Why I am stressed out. And why somewhere in between all this I need to find time to write. I shall be giving it a shot at daily blogging for a week or so and see where it gets me. Expect no more whining but a lot more exploding eggs. Laughter is always the best medicine!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Exploding Eggs

I have been trying to master the art of poaching eggs these last couple of months and I am failing miserably. This morning I decided to increase my chances of producing something edible for Mr T's breakfast and decided to poach 3 eggs in the saucepan in some silicon holders (my latest purchase having failed just using the pan and various spoons) and, at the same time, poach two eggs in the microwave. This was the result:

Disaster! Those egg holders cost me £4.99. What a rip off - you need a degree in  boating to make them stay afloat.  I have now used them about four times and I cannot produce anything that doesn't look like insipid breast milk.

This was the best shot; you should have seen the ceiling of the microwave.  Notice how the force of the explosion has overturned the egg holder. Hmm ...I wonder if that's where Barnes Wallis got his idea for the Bouncing Bomb.

Tomorrow morning I am going to try coddling my eggs in a traditional egg coddler. I have two of them which belonged to my mother. I don't think she ever used them as they sat in her display cabinet untouched for years. I've looked them at several times thinking about whether to risk it but I've been worried that I'll crack them or blow them up or the metal lids will fly off and embed themselves in my nostrils. However, I've decided that tomorrow is D Day; tomorrow I will throw caution to the wind and risk coddling my eggs. I think Mum would be proud of me - taking up challenges, facing fear, flying in the face of failure.

 I mean -who needs to climb Everest or walk on the moon? I just want to cook a F****** egg properly.

I'll let you know how I get on.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Aliens and Hot Tubs.

Apparently, actress Shirley MacLaine is eager to share her knowledge of aliens with Hilary Clinton. Shirley has seen a lot of aliens and on one occasion one of her friends actually saw three alien spaceships hovering over Shirley's outdoor hot tub. Also, according to Shirley, Ronald Reagan confided in her that on the way to a Hollywood Party he and Nancy were stopped by an alien space ship and an extraterrestrial being emerged and told Ronald to change careers and take up politics.

Random Thoughts:

1) I suspect Ronald Reagan was actually on his way back from the Hollywood party.

2) Nancy looked a bit alien at the best of times. After a bottle of champers and seven Martinis Ronald probably got a bit confused.

3) Lots of people see strange lights over their hot tubs. I have even see strange lights over my indoor bath. It has nothing to do with aliens and has a lot to do with a) alcohol b) overdosing on perfume bath salts or c) Christmas decorations.

4) I once saw a strange light. It was when I replaced the bulb in my oven.

5) My sister-in-law is an alien. I would prefer it if she was just alien to me.

6) Aliens have probably been secretly backing the Presidents of the United States. This is very worrying. I would rather they were backing Warner Brothers.

7) I have a friend who also got stopped by an alien craft on his way to a party; he spent 24 hours in police custody.

8) Shirley MacLaine is a Hollywood Superstar. She is also 78 years old. Enough said.

9) Solar lighting is the cause of a lot of calls to the emergency services.

10) Some people say my humour is alien to them. I say: "Why are you green and wearing tinfoil?"

Hollywood Celebs you gotta love 'em. I can't wait to hear what Kim Kardashian believes in -probably that fluffy squirrels are drilling their way to the centre of the earth. Oh well - I believe that one day I will be a good cook.

Everyone has to dream.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bring on the Ear Muffs: The US Open and a Case of the Squeals

I watched the American Open yesterday. Victoria Azarenka was playing Samantha Stosur in what would have been a quarter final thriller had I not had to put up with all that high pitched squealing from Azarenka. She sounded like a wild boar who'd just snorted a tonne of coke and was indulging in an orgasmic orgy with a sow. By the end of the match I'd plugged my ears with cotton wool, put on my winter woolly hat and stuck my red Christmas earmuffs with the reindeer horns on my head. I may have looked silly but at least I didn't sound as silly as Azarenka.

When it got to the third set tiebreak I was on my knees begging Samantha Stosur to just stop the game and say:

Would you mind stopping squealing like a wild boar who's just snorted a tonne of coke and is indulging in an orgasmic orgy with a sow because I just can't concentrate!

Anyway, Samantha didn't stop the match and she lost which was a great pity. And what's worse than Samantha losing was that the next match on court was Maria Sharapova and Maron Bartoli. Sharapova is also related to a wild boar. Fortunately, rain stopped play before I had to put on Mr T's deerstalker.
The Wimbledon Shop will be selling Deerstalkers next year. These hats, once used in rural areas and for sports such as deerstalking and made famous by Sherlock Holmes, are set to become the latest tennis apparel. Andy Murray will be wearing one with matching checked shorts and T shirt and a Burberry track suit. The Adidas logo will be emblazoned on the left ear flap. 

Anyway, I just don't get the need for all this squealing. How come some tennis players can hit the ball with all their might and don't make any noise or, at worst, a low pitched guttural sound and certain female players sound like they've found an unwanted snake down their knickers? Now I play tennis and occasionally I let out what I would call a grunt (not a squeal) but this certainly isn't on every ball and probably it's only on a ball where I've got out of position but I'm still trying to hit the ball very hard and the unnatural position has made the shot more forced. Master Jacob who is an excellent tennis players rarely makes any sound at all and Master Benedict occasionally makes a noise but mostly this is for comedic effect. In fact, most tennis players I know make very little noise unless they are particularly tired or dressed in drag pretending to be Maria Sharapova during a late night mixed doubles match. 

Anyway, if Sharapova wins today I think she'll be playing Azarenka. What a hideous thought. The only solution is to wear Mr T's deerstalker and get sozzled on Martini.

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...