Thursday, October 31, 2013

Lattes, Mottos and Coffee Shops

Question: what's a motto?

Alrighty, let's first establish that a "motto" is not a new type of fancy coffee. Because if someone asked me would I like a motto I'd probably reply; "No, I'd prefer a latte, thank you."

You know, coffee shops confuse the hell out of me with all the different types of coffee and flavourings.They're popping up everywhere. We even have a barista bar at one the fancier tennis clubs we go to now which is revolutionary; I'm used to taking my own flask of coffee or paying fifty pence for coffee that's indistinguishable from liquid detergent. Anyway, at that particular barista bar, if I now ask for a coffee they look at me as if I've spoken a foreign language and I have to qualify my request:

"Yes, a coffee. A normal one: coffee, water. In a cup. Hopefully, delivered in less time it takes to watch an episode of Downton Abbey."

Question: Do you need a degree to be a barista?

Those barista bars look incredibly complicated though with all their knobs, pipes and steam shooting out everywhere, don't they? In fact, I'm sure barista bars were designed using the prototype of George Stephenson's steam engine the Locomotion - which took about two and half hours to travel from Liverpool to Manchester in 1830. That's about the average time it takes to get a cup of coffee in Costas. When there's no queue. If there's a queue - basically you're *ucked.

So where was I? Ah yes. Mottos. Well, mottos are not coffees they're statements used to express a principle, goal, or ideal or they're an expression adopted as a guide to one's behaviour. James Bond had a family motto. It was "Orbit non sufficit" or "The world is not enough". Here's a few other mottos:

My motto is: more good times - Jack Nicholson.

No surprises it was Jack who said that. Although, if it had been Michael Douglas I wouldn't have been too shocked either.

Attempt the impossible in order to improve your work - Bette Davis.

I keep attempting to stack my saucepans correctly in an attempt to improve my housework. Unfortunately, I keep failing. Again - no surprises.

My motto is: Live every day to the fullest - in moderation - Lindsay Lohan. 

The fullest being in her pockets - the moderation being when she's not wearing her overcoat.

My motto in life is: 'If you think it, you can do it' and if we all apply that thought we can end hunger the world over - Dionne Warwick.

You know, I keep thinking about having sex with Daniel Craig but as yet I haven't done it. My motto: don't ever listen to celebs. They talk crap.

If you are not bored by life, and your primary motto is enthusiasm and if you like your friends, family around you, it all translates into your designs. That's what keeps the creativity alive - Christian Louboutin.

So that's how Christian designs shoes. Deep meaningful stuff.  God knows what Vivenne Westwood's motto would be. Maybe something like: "I look at shooting stars, the moon and pretty rainbows whilst I sniff Mr Muscle and the next thing I know I've produced a work of creative genius." (Don't quote me on that, readers.)

My motto is to go wild on the accessories - the belts, the hair clips, the jewellery - Heidi Klum

Oh. Dear. God. There's not a lot going on "upstairs" with dear Heidi is there? Still, she looks pretty. I suppose one can't have everything. Maybe she should have a day out with Lindsey. They could go shopping together.

Question: what the hell was this post about?

Answer: I have a new motto:

If I don't like the way you park I'm going to drive into your car

Long term readers of this blog may know that I have had a few "incidents" in the past with my car. If you're wondering why I've come up with a motto now - you probably won't have to think too hard to work out why.


Do not park at the bottom of my driveway. In fact, do not park in my road at all. And, if you could avoid a radius of about twenty miles, that would be really helpful.

Ps - I don't like to end my posts on a negative note so here's some good news: that speed camera didn't get me the other day. Phew.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Modern Life: A Cover Story

I have some writing news. My novel, The Changing Room, has been edited, re-drafted and is finally under submission. I'm very pleased with my story and hope that readers, men as well as women, will find it entertaining as well as uplifting. That said, I know it will be difficult to find an agent or publisher that is prepared to endorse a novel with strong comic elements. To this extent, if I haven't received any interest over the next couple of months I plan to self-publish in the new year. I believe, that given the opportunity, people would read more fiction with humour in it and, even though humour is subjective, I have yet to meet anyone who prefers crying to laughing.

In the meantime, in December I'm publishing a collection of short stories called A Modern Life. Many of the stories have been trialled on my blog and elsewhere on the internet. However, it also contains two previously unpublished stories which reflect the more serious side of my writing - a story about homosexuality and marriage and one about greed and big business. The title of the collection takes its name from the lead story, A Modern Life. This theme runs throughout the collection and reflects my overall writing style. I am very much a contemporary writer who enjoys experimenting with style and genre and writing serious drama as well as silly slapstick. Hopefully, A Modern Life, will give you a taster of what's in store in The Changing Room.

The cover to my short story collection has been designed by Andrew Brown of Design for Writers. Andrew has designed many covers for both published for both traditional and self-published titles and I am delighted with the cover he's produced. Andrew has a very professional approach to his work. As part of the design process, I completed an in-depth questionnaire covering topics ranging from my opinions on covers already on the market to the ideas I had conceived for my cover - and everything else in-between. My objective was to produce a cover with a fresh, contemporary feel that complimented the title and would appeal to both men and women. I also wanted a cover that reflected my eclectic range of stories. I believe Andrew has delivered the perfect cover.

 A Modern Life will be available in December, initially on the Amazon Kindle device and later on other e-readers. It will contain thirteen stories and, most probably, the opening chapter of The Changing Room. Later this week, I will be giving a glimpse inside one of my new stories, White Lies, and next week I will be publishing an excerpt from The Changing Room which I will be reading at the story slam at the Luton literary festival this coming Friday.

Cover by Andrew Brown of Design for Writers

“I would not change a single word.”
 Hilary Johnson literary critique agency on the short story A Modern Life.

No Returns reads more like a prose poem, full of exquisite turns of phrase.This is a desperate woman’s life in miniature, full of sexually poignant poetry and glimpses of everyday strangeness. A worthy winner."
 Ray Robinson, author of Forgetting Zoe and Electricity on the short story No Returns.

"Readwave are enormously pleased to publish Jane Turley's chilling but poignant story The Princess and the Thief, and we're even more delighted to bring this story across the world through our Worldreader programme."
Rob Tucker, Readwave.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Thicke and Thick; The Opinionated Me

Over the last few weeks I have become addicted to the song Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke. I even dance (comically) to it. Consequently, my sons would like to fire me as their mother.

Now just in case you live somewhere remote (or in some imaginary world of fairies and unicorns) and haven't heard Blurred Lines here it is:



Oh boy, that is what I call a groovy rhythm! I can shake my booty to that. Watch out Beyonce; Mrs T is wired and live.

However, I do have something to say about the video which reminds me of the 1986 video of Robert Palmer's Addicted to Love.

It's AWFUL. ( I'm not even going to talk about the lyrics. Robin Thicke says they're about his wife to whom he's been married for twenty years, so let's just accept he can say what he want on that issue.)

Anyway, I really can't stand this fetish for women to make themselves look like whores all the time, and big superstars like Madonna, Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Brittany Spears et al set no example to young women with their skimpy come-hither outfits. It's just my opinion - but I don't think you have to take off all your clothes and act like a slut to prove you're a feminist.

Here's a question: would it have been possible to have made the video to Blurred Lines with women who didn't look so completely vacuous?

Yes, it would. Anyway, I know many woman will say that some women are forced to act and dress provocatively because it's a man's world. I accept that argument is very relevant for some women but there's a lot of women too, especially in the western world, who can help to change this attitude but instead, continue to perpetuate these stereotypes.

Pah.

Let's see an alternative version of Blurred Lines. This one's for the ladies.






Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I like challenges!

I've revisited some old posts and rewritten them for the Readwave reading website as part of their weekly writing challenge competition. If you're new to my blog and haven't explored my old posts, here's an opportunity to read a couple of my posts, re-vamped, re-edited but just as stupid as ever. If you click on the pictures it will take you the stories on Readwave. Don't forget to share if you enjoy them. Thanks!





Sunday, October 20, 2013

An Emergency Post


I have an emergency, readers. Yesterday, I made a truly horrifying discovery that has left me reeling with fear and racked with anxiety. Why?

I  have discovered I have a grey pubic hair.

I'm not sure whether this means my life is over or whether I need to get a Brazilian.

Any words of advice or comfort on this matter will be gratefully received.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Am I Cynic? The Problem of Plumbers

*Warning* Do not read this post if you are a plumber, married to a plumber, related to a plumber in anyway and, possibly, if you once had an affair with a plumber. If, on the other-hand  you have ever been overcharged by a plumber this post will probably appeal to you.

                                                                             *****

I think I've got more cynical as I've got older. I'm not sure if I actually like that trait in myself as it's nice believing everyone you meet has the best intentions, that firms might act in your genuine interests and tradesmen will do a good job without ripping you off.

Unfortunately, yesterday, I was in a cynical mood. It may have been the after-effects of being sold a dodgy packet of bread mix (see previous post ), or (perhaps more likely) because I'm a sour middled-aged harridan who's morphing into the kind of granny who rams shoppers with her electric wheelchair and bludgeons them with a pound of sausages as she speeds to the front of the queue at Tesco's checkout.

Anyway to get to the point; I was putting my shopping away and a business card fell through my letterbox. It read:

                         Traditional English Plumbing at Traditional English Prices

Naturally, the cynic in me burst forth as, in my experience, traditional English plumbing prices are calculated in a somewhat dubious manner. As an example, I've set out some costings below:

1. THE CALL OUT FEE: This is the calculated on the cost of approximately two days travel to and from the plumbers place of abode to your house - which he assumes is long distance even though you've told him it's in the next street. The plumber's call out fee will include: a full tank of petrol, one or two full English breakfasts, lunchtime sandwiches, three/six cups of coffee and (just in case he doesn't make it home by 4.30pm) a Kentucky Fried Chicken takeaway with extra fries.

2. THE HOURLY FEE: This could be anything. Literally. Pull a figure out of the air, double it, quadruple it and add on the date of your mother's birthday and you will probably be close to the hourly fee.

3. THE COST OF NECESSARY PARTS: The plumber will charge you the cost of the parts as they are in your local high-priced DIY store - despite the fact he will have paid peanuts at the local plumbers merchant.

4. THE COST OF UNNECESSARY PARTS: The plumber will charge you the cost of the parts you need - and the parts you don't need. You thought you had a leaking tap? No such luck. Your plumber will delight in telling you that your bathroom suite no longer meets current health and safety guidelines and you need a new one. He won't actually know those guidelines - but he will be able produce a glossy catalogue that you can look through while you make him a nice cup of tea with two sugars. And if you got some biscuits that will do nicely too.

5. THE COST OF VAT.  The plumber will tell you he can do your job for less if you pay him with cash which means he won't have to charge you VAT. This is a lie - he is still going to charge you VAT because he is not going to risk being caught by the Inland Revenue. So he will just charge you an extra 20% so that he can  knock it off and appear generous. The reality is you are getting stitched up and if you decide to pay by cheque/card the plumber will make an even bigger profit. Nice one, mate.

Here are five guidelines to follow to avoid supplementary plumbing costs:

1. Do not fart in the same air space as your plumber - he will charge you danger money.

2. Do not mention that you, your spouse or any of your relatives are a teacher.

3. Do not let your pets anywhere near your plumber as he will have to charge you for a day's extra work for a visit to the doctors to get a prescription for his asthma medication.

4. Do not mention you are thinking of moving house as he will seal your leaking pipes with Sellotape and charge the new occupiers for a return visit.

5. Do not tell the plumber you're a pensioner - otherwise his eyes will light up and he'll be ringing his investment banker before you've even made his first cup of tea of the day.

When your plumber peers round your bathroom door wearing this cheerful expression
 and says "I've found the problem!" - you know you're about to be screwed.


So am I cynic? Yes, I am. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Another Baking Disaster

Cooking is not my strong point, as many of you know. However, even I reeled when I opened my bread-making machine and saw this:

The Cauliflower loaf - it will soon be all the rage in health food shops.
 Why ? Because it looks awful and tastes awful. Therefore, it must be good for you.

I am not sure what I did wrong, readers - as I read the instructions on the packet very, very carefully.

If anyone's got any idea how I managed to mess up a packet bread mix then please let me know. (Just stick to the facts though - no need to dwell on competency issues.)

Ps -I should add that the bread-making machine is one of Mr T's "useful" gifts. I am still waiting for the ipad.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

My Top Ten Worst Companies for Customer Service in the UK

No 1. Coming in with unrivalled incompetence at No 1, the pole position for continuous spectacular incompetence over a decade of bad customer service, during which I have been reduced to tears and almost suffered a fatal coronary through stress is... British Telecom. This is the company that purports to be a communication provider but has as much idea what the word "communication" means as your average slug. In fact, a slug would probably arrive at its destination quicker then the average BT customer service assistant can understand the phrase "It is not working."

No 2. Sports retailer Sports Direct. The major difference between British Telecom and Sports Direct is that Sports Direct don't actually engage in any communication at all. They don't have a customer service telephone line, they don't answer emails and basically don't do anything at all. Unless you have paid for your purchase through a third party like Paypal there's more chance of the earth being hit by an asteroid than actually getting your money back or - in my case even getting the right product delivered.

No 3. British Telecom. Again. You know, I heard recently that the government are planning to install free BT phone lines in UK immigration holding centres. This is a cunning plan because the effect of experiencing BT incompetence will result in either the mass suicide of the illegal immigrants or they will return home as fast as possible - thereby solving the immigration crisis in one fell swoop.

No 4. This firm has a way of getting under your skin and is renowned for passing customers from one department to another and from service agent to another. During the course of one on-going complaint I once spoke to about twenty-five different people. This firm is.... British Telecom.

No 5. This firm gets its place not for continuous incompetence like British Telecom and Sports Direct but for the gravity of the situation which was totally *ucking up Master Sam's 18th Birthday present. This company is Comet. The customer service agents also lie at Comet which is not acceptable. Even British Telecom customer service agents don't lie - the customer service agents at BT are generally too thick to even understand the concept of lying. In fact, British Telecom service agents genuinely believe all the crap they spout. They believe that if they keep repeating the same answer, you will  also eventually believe your problem will resolve without the need to take any action. British Telecom customer service agents are usually religious - this is because they like to leave customer's problems in the hands of God.

No 6. You might have thought it was an urban myth that when you have a technical problem with your pc/phone/tablet, a customer service agent will tell you to turn it off and then back on again.This myth is not a myth it is actually true. Operating in a similar vein British Telecom's The Hand of God Concept this company believes flicking your switches on and off will also miraculously solve your problem. The company is, unsurprisingly, also British Telecom.

No 7. Microsoft. For having the most elongated procedure to change your password or security information ever. Forgetting your password is considered a crime at Microsoft and you will be made to suffer. Numerous forms, special codes, emails and phone calls later and I am still waiting to update Master Ben's Microsoft account. I now have to wait over a month before they will implement the change of email. It would be easier, and quicker, if Microsoft just sent you a whip and you could self-flagellate yourself as punishment. On the plus side, I should say that Microsoft customer service agents are very patient indeed and have an excellent bedside manner - there was only the tiniest hint of annoyance after my last approx 40 mins conversation with one of their reps - and I should point out that the reason our investigations were taking so long was due to slow broadband - which is the fault of British Telecom.

No 8 The makers of  Fifa 14, E A. To be fair to E A, I haven't actually complained to them yet. I have spent the last ten days trying to update Master Ben's Microsoft account and solve our broadband problem so that Master Ben can actually play Fifa 14. Sadly, now that we can access Master Ben's Xbox account the EA servers seem to be continuously down. Having researched this on the net, it seems this is an ongoing random problem. I am not sure if I can actually face complaining to E A. At this moment in time, I would rather take a gun to my head.

No 9. For being the only company where I have had to explain what an extension lead is to their customer service agent.

"An extension lead?"

"Yes, an extension lead. You know, it's a lead you can connect from your socket to your appliance so you can use your appliance in a different place. In my case, it's connected from the hub, runs up through the ceiling where I can connect it to my laptop, if necessary."

"Ah."

Yes, the no 9 position is British Telecom.

No 10 It probably goes without saying that British Telecom takes no 10 position. In fact, I actually feel a bit mean-spirited including Sports Direct, Microsoft, Comet and EA in the same air space at British Telecom who could actually take all ten chart positions with ease. I have a good friend who works for British Telecom (fortunately not in customer service.) I feel deeply sorry for her as she's probably going to burn in the fires of hell just for being associated with BT.  What bad luck.

Anyway, just in case you missed my artistic tribute to BT I created on one of my previous British Telecom rants, here it is again. I like it. It's kinda therapeutic.