Monday, August 28, 2006

Bank Holidays - My Arse!

It appears that my hatred of Bank Holidays, particularly late summer ones, is not as commonplace as I had thought. I quite like that. I never was one to run with the crowd.

It's not the actual days off that I object to, it's rather nice to have a lay-in without the Snooze button interrupting every 5 minutes, for at least an hour, as happens most work mornings. It's the sheer bloody loneliness of the whole thing.

Jack's past the age where he will accompany me, uncomplaining, to a National Trust property or on a walk through the Dales. Actually, he's never done it without complaining but he was small enough to wrestle into the car before. Now he's off writing songs with his mates, the next Big Thing ( yeah, right!) and playing in all-night RISK tournaments ( ok - I'm pissed that I wasn't included in that) only calling back home for fuel or cash.

There's invariably a wedding to go to - me and 'Plus 1'. Why do they put that? Plus 1? If they are close enough friends, they know I do not have a significant other, and that I am sufficiently confident to walk into a roomful of strangers on my own ( alright, I have started getting a bit nervous about that actually, but I haven't bloody well told anybody so as far as they know I don't have a problem with it). The most likely person I'd take would be Jack, who would have been invited by name if they were the sort of friends that he'd want to see. Weddings are bad enough as it is when you know the couple. I can't think of anyone I loathe enough to drag along as my pretend partner. So I rarely go.

I avoid the garden centres and shopping outlets -too many dysfunctional families and majorette troupes - restricting my retail exposure to a quick nip into Tesco for a case of Sauvignon Blanc and some olives ( I bought Bran Flakes this weekend instead).

So today, I decided to give the world a break from my sullen mug and after spending the morning lazily reading the remains of yesterday's paper, I ran a deep bubble bath, lit a scented candle ( one of the posh ones I've been saving for a special assignation), covered my scowling complexion in the last of my expensive Space NK shopping sorties, tuned the radio to Classic Gold, placed the latest Gardeners World magazine within easy reach for when my book ran out and prepared for a long, relaxing soak. Bliss. For 5 minutes.

The phone rang. I tried to ignore it. I'm naturally too nosey and egocentric to leave phones unanswered. If someone wants to speak to me it must be important, to them at least, and I want to know why that is. It doesn't quite explain why I feel compelled to pick up other people's phones, often in offices down the corridor from me, but that's beside the point.

I jumped out of the bath, pausing only to grab a towel, a large one, and consciously wiped my feet on the mat. As I dived out of the bathroom, it occurred to me that I should be careful as I had polished the stairs, the shiny wooden ones, this weekend and my feet were very wet. I was careful. That's probably why I managed to reach step 3 before I slipped and noisily bounced down the remaining 9.

It could have been so much worse. I was naked, soapy, face caked in white clay, holding a book about vampires. Not how I would hope to meet any passing paramedics.

Fortunately, I didn't break anything, not even the spindles, which was a miracle when you see the bruises on my arm which look like a test cricket ball embedded in my arm, same colour, slightly rough ridge, everything. But I think it might be some time before I'm sitting comfortably.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Snakes on the Brain

As if the weekend wasn't long enough already ( Bank Holidays, a hard-right fundamental religious device to ensure that even die-hard singletons eventually succumb to marriage to avoid the tedium of yet another lonely 50% Extra Free weekend), I go and extend it even further by going out. On a Friday night. When I could have been slowly easing the tensions of the week by getting rapidly pissed on the sofa with a bottle of cheap Chilean Sauvignon Blanc.

I went to the cinema with Darbster.

I let him choose the movie.

Truly awfully dire.

We pretty much guessed who would buy it, how and in what order.

But it was okay because I had nachos with extra chillies. But only a Regular portion. See how good I am getting at this dieting lark!

Next time I get to choose. I pick salsa dancing.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Brief Indulgence

I have foregone running tonight as I am too busy flipping cartwheels on the top of the world.

He passed! 11 GCSEs, all C and above ( except Eng Lit, but I always knew he was never going to win a Whitbread Prize).

I have awarded him this.
It is cheaper than a new laptop.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Cхідний православний;ортодоксальний

Amelia 1924 - 2006
A tiny corner of this town is ever Ukraine
бог благословляти

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

No more running away

I did something yesterday which I never thought I would do voluntarily. Ask anyone and they'd tell you I'd be more likely to sky-dive naked over an army camp in Basra accompanied by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band playing the Birdie Song than enter a bridal shop to choose a wedding dress.

I didn't need antihistamines ( although I had intended to start a course of them over the weekend as a preventative measure). The experience was far more pleasant than I would ever have believed possible. I didn't even sneeze despite being surrounded by more silk, taffeta and tuile to keep Dale Winton in boxer shorts for a year.

It helped, of course, that the beautiful, slim, elegant Rachel, my best friend was the one actually shopping. I was just there for moral support and to help her look even more devastatingly attractive, if that could be possible given her recently-acquired Monaco tan and sun-bleached highlights. She certainly couldn't have expected any expert input from me, I'd have been more likely to run shrieking into a broom cupboard.

As it was, I caught sight of myself in one of the many vast mirrors ( I knew I should have kept my eyes tightly closed but I'd foolishly relaxed after the first 20 minutes or so). Next to the positively princess-like Rachel ( I swear she's going to wear that tiara right up until next July every possible minute, whilst washing up, hoovering and pegging out the washing, just to get used to it of course) I looked like Grotbags.

Which is why I have finally decided that instead of constantly moaning ( and blogging) about how hideous I am, I must reclaim my alpha female. I've already made a start. I went for a run last night. Jack came along as personal trainer/ body guard and general motivator. I got twice as far as I thought I'd get. 1/3 of a mile without stopping once! and then back again. I could have done it again 10 minutes later, once the burning sensation had died down from my calf muscles and I had regained some coordination in my limbs. I didn't. I went home and had a bowl of shreddies for dinner instead. And I've had the same for both meals today so far.

It's late now ( gone 8pm) and I'm still in the office so it will be dark by the time I get home. As appealing the thought of running out of sight of incredulous eyes may be, the fear of collapsing and not being found 'til daybreak takes precedent. So I think I'm going to spend the time making myself a new blog to chart my progress. This is NOT an invitation to view it. The progress is likely to be slow and painful at best. I mention it merely to explain any irrational bouts of anxiety, depression and other manic behaviour which I may display in the foreseeable future.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Raving Mad

I had to force myself to get ready to go out last night when all I really wanted to do was crawl under the duvet with a book and some cocoa. It wasn't anything exciting, just helping out behind the bar at the football club, something I do once every couple of months or so and it seemed to offer a change from a usual Friday night.

I had no idea what was on but I didn't give it any thought. There's never much variation, a Tribute Band, a Wedding Do ( never very upmarket as you can imagine but they usually lay on a decent finger buffet), a cheeky Elvis impersonator who always makes me laugh despite myself and the clientele are invariably an assortment of local yokels, many of whom look unnervingly similar to one another.

I was vaguely aware of large groups of chavs/trevs wandering about the streets but that's not particularly unusual when you get down into the village. I became slightly more alarmed as their number increased the closer I got to the sports club. It was all I could do to avoid scratching the paintwork on my new acquisition, there was more fake gold knuckle rings and chains in the car park than a souk. My instinct was to turn around and drive straight home but my strong work ethic, and the fact that the Manageress had spotted me and was waving frantically from inside, made me go in.

Words cannot begin to describe the horror of what I found. I know YouTube is wearing a bit thin but take a look at this very brief clip to see for yourself. The volume has been reduced to save awakening the recently deceased.

Warning: flashing lights, not recommended for people with light-sensitivy, epilepsy or any taste whatsoever.

You get quite used to it after the first 4 hours or so. I even found myself nodding my head in time to the music by the end of the night. On the doorframe. Rocking back and forth. Moaning somewhat. Trying very very hard not to cry.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Don't Believe Everything You Read

Redheads have more sex
Blondes may have more fun but redheads have more sex, according to new research in Germany. The study by Hamburg Sex Researcher Professor Dr Werner Habermehl looked at the sex lives of hundreds of German women and compared them with their hair colour.
He said: "The sex lives of women with red hair were clearly more active than those with other hair colour, with more partners and having sex more often than the average. The research shows that the fiery redhead certainly lives up to her reputation."
He added that women who dyed their hair red from another colour were signalling they were looking for a partner, and added: "Even women in a fixed relationship are letting their partners know they are unhappy if they dye their hair red. They are saying that they are looking for something better."
Psychologist Christine Baumanns said however that it may not be the women who were to blame for the better sex lives of redheads.
She said: "Red stands for passion and when a man sees a redhead he will think he is dealing with a woman who won't mess around, and gets straight to the point when it comes to sex."

Marko sent me a link to the above article this morning. I can only assume that he did it to deliberately antagonise me and set me in a bad mood for the rest of the day. It was particularly well-timed to coincide with my first celibacy anniversary celebrations. I can understand what leads people to take up kick-boxing.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Prayer to St Anthony

I've lost my sunglasses. They're not just any old sunglasses. They are Lafont Jamaique with prescription lenses. They are also magic.

They transform me from this

to this ( that's right, the spy Nikita - and anyone that can't tell the difference gets a slap) in an instant.

I've looked in all the obvious places: the freezer, in the fridge beside the milk, on the telephone cradle, on my head. I've even cleaned out my car and hoovered behind the sofa but they haven't turned up.

I called my opticians, in Glasgow, of course. They can't get hold of another pair as they are out of production. I've trawled the net and found a pair in America but they are double what I paid for them, and that was already a week's wages, 5 years ago. I've even emailed the designer in the hope they might just have a pair lying at the back of a dusty shelf somewhere. I can't think what else I can do. In desperation I offer up this prayer to St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost things.

Saint Anthony, perfect imitator of Jesus, who received from God the special power of restoring lost things, grant that I may find my fabulous sunglasses which have been lost. At least restore to me peace and tranquility of mind, the loss of which has afflicted me even more than my material loss. To this favor I ask another of you: that I may always remain in possession of the telephone number of Niche Optical Tailors of Candleriggs, Glasgow, oh, and that I might find a website of equally stylish vintage frames. Let me rather lose all things than lose my reserve pair of Guess sunspecs, my second favourites. Let me never suffer the loss of my greatest treasure, my pale blue horn-rimmed everyday glasses. Amen.

From Hull via Italy to Ukraine

I could easily have gone straight home from work last night and spent a typical night on the sofa in a state of torpor. I was tired, my hair was greasy and I badly needed a shower. It was just as easy to jump straight onto the M62 and head for my pre-arranged meeting with Lol, Ali & Jill. It took little over an hour. They had everything I needed: ferocious shower, fluffy towels, ample cosmetics, a chilled vase of wine and a bonus of Pat & Ron ( Lol & Al's parents who have not yet signed the papers but who I secretly hope will adopt me one day).

Bibi's Criterion was our destination of choice, last visited en masse 2 years ago for Mrs Soon-To-Be-Roger's Hen Night. She was absent this time due to work commitments in Glasgow. She wasn't forgotten in the chat which covered the usual stuff when 4 x 30/40-something long-term friends with varying numbers of step/children and upcoming weddings( in Florence - ahem!)successfully coincide their diaries. 4 hours of perfect pick-me-up.

It was only as I was driving back, familiarly navigating my way around the underpasses and traffic lights ( all of which were so ostentatiously on Green that I began to wonder if I was in some weird kind of Michael Douglas film) that I really started to think about Eva ( her pre-Roger name). The roads were familiar from our many days and nights out when she lived there. It was usually me that drove, mainly because I'm a better driver than passenger and she's a shit driver, sorry, has spatial-awareness issues. They were great times.

I was going to call her tonight, in her hotel room in Glasgow. She rang me first. She'd never made it to Glasgow. Her Nana died last night. She'd been in the hospital just a few miles from my home. She was so close but impossible to reach by road.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Rosaceae Prunus Cerasus ( The Cherry family)

(clicking on the photos opens them up in a larger window - I'm only telling yout his because I'm not on any of them)

Yesterday I got together with 40 of my closest family members. The other 60 or so couldn't make it. It was wonderful to see everybody and catch up with their lives, albeit briefly. We ate well, drank remarkably fine for such a staunch Methodist clan( not me, I was chauffering), listened to reminiscences which involved rather more shared baths than one would have expected and displayed our particularly dominant and competitive natures, at least those of us that were female did, with a parlour game or two.

I saw pictures that I had never seen before, including one of my Grandma surrounded by her children about 10 years before my father, the youngest of 7, was born. She had dark hair and wasn't wearing glasses. I almost didn't recognise her. She was a District Nurse and Midwife and was one of the first women to drive round here, let alone have a job whilst bringing up her large, boisterous family which now boasts 96 direct descendants.

There was even a picture of the house I grew up in, where dad still lives when it was the village shop. The tin adverts were all pulled down by my grandad the day he took over the family store. He wasn't going to give free advertising to anybody. It was a shop when I was little and I remember helping myself to Mars Bars when I thought no-one was looking. It's empty now and has been used for storage since it closed in 1977 but it still looks the same.

After a few noisy hours, packed full of hugging, kissing and a few tears on my part at least, we said our goodbyes and headed off to our seperate and divers lives in Giggleswick, Leicestershire, Watford, Bristol, Stafford, Norfolk, Basingstoke, Manchester and more locally in Lincolnshire. The London, Oxford and Blackburn contingents hadn't made it this time.

I love my family. They are the warmest, funniest, most compassionate, down-to-earth brilliant individuals and the only thing that's wrong with them is that they all live so far apart and lead very busy lives so I don't get to see nearly half as much of them as I'd like.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Just when you thought... knew more than you'd ever want to know about me Kate goes and tags me. I've always found it hard to refuse anything which has had variable consequences.

10 years ago
Dumped Marko, moved up a few rungs on the career ladder with a new job in a new city, cut my hair and added some blonde. Felt free, excited and thought I'd stay like that forever

5 years ago
Met a bloke, thought it was love, finally considered settling down. 6 heady weeks later he went back to his wife and I took to my sofa, not before buying disgustingly fabulous Gucci boots and hideously expensive matching handbag.

1 year ago
Bought my first house. Still can't believe I haven't burnt it down or had it repossessed. Marked the end of any hope of ever having a sex life on account of the floor-to-ceiling mirrors covering an entire bedroom wall.

5 songs to which I know all the words
Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
Denis Denis - Blondie
Grease/ Rocky Horror Picture Show - The Entire Soundtrack
California Dreaming - The Mamas & The Papas
Don't Pay The Ferryman - Chris De Burgh ( shameful but true)

5 Snacks
Cheese ( all types, preferably by the lb)
Dried papaya
Cheese and, er...
More olives?

5 things I'd do with £100 million
Employ a personal trainer/ cook/ sex slave
Get bored with personal trainer/ cook/ sex slave, ignore him til he left and then have liposuction
Throw a really really lavish party and dance naked in a champagne fountain at 3am on my immacutely-groomed lawn with my handsome new Italian lover, the one who's a brilliant academic and an ambassador to the UN, when he's not advising on the set of the latest James Bond movie
Throw some money at the charities that helped fill my time when I was poor and hope they'd say nice things about me to the papers
Throw even more money at the people I know would tell the truth about me to the papers

5 places I'd run away to
The Offlicence
My friends' houses
Bereavement counselling - it's always easier to forget your own problems, or at least put them into perspective, besides other peoples

5 things I'd never wear
A pastel-striped knitted cardie from BhS ( I was 11)
Polyvelt shoes
Anything with bows
Asymetric sun-tops
A 'Vote Bush/Blair" badge

5 favourite TV shows
Planet Earth
Citizen Smith
Anything historical or archeological
Grange Hill
Anything with Jonathan Ross

5 greatest joys
Not being a grandma or receiving prison visitation orders by the time I reached 35
Using a hole-in-the-wall and actually getting money out of it
Discovering people actually read any of this twaddle
Dancing, anytime, anywhere and properly forgetting everything else around me
Being able to take my bra off at the end of a long day

5 favourite toys
The cold tap downstairs ( I like turning it on really quickly when Jack's in the shower if he's been particularly teenage)
My wiggly garden canes
My new headset for my office fone - makes me feel like Madonna

That saved having to think up anything witty and creative. Give it a try if you like.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Impulse Buy

There were a few minor health scares at the beginning of the year, but when she was given a clean bill of health after ever such a small amount of treatment, I stopped worrying about her. I knew she'd have a chronic condition for the rest of her life but it wasn't anything that couldn't be treated with routine injections of oil and no unduly strenuous exercise.

It came as a real shock when something burst this morning, not 2 minutes after leaving home. She was suddenly convulsed with choking, completely wracked with shuddering, she lost almost all her power and her pace slowed to virtually nothing. Gently, I coaxed her along, willing her up the steeper bits, but I really thought she was a goner as we crossed the Bridge. Miraculously, she made it all the way but I knew I could not expect her to make it home again on her own.

In 20 minutes, it was all over. I'd made a quick call, walked round the corner to my friend's place, Moiya the Motor, and the deal was done. I held the keys in my hand. I'd paid the money. I barely shed a tear as they towed old Nora away.

It was perfect. Just what I needed, low mileage, taxed til March, tested til May, FSH, one lady owner from new, my mate Moiya's mum, and it was silver, so no more trying to get smears out of black shiny paintwork ( which is something I gave up trying to do about 3 weeks after I bought Nora all those years ago).

What do you think of my new wheels?

Actually, mine's the really really old Rover at the back. Not exactly a 350Z but it was significantly cheaper than the last designer handbag I bought and didn't require a bank loan or sale of a kidney.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Spam Spam Unfertilised Eggs and Spam

I, like everybody else, ignore spam. I never 'click' on it. I never open it. I certainly never read it. On absolutely no account do I ever reply to it.

So why did I find myself mindlessly following a link to that free dating website that got me started on all this in the first place? It's not free for women any longer but those nice people at* were offering me guest membership for a few days with the chance to win a holiday to Sicily with one of the other singleton subscribers. Perfect opportunity to holiday with a stranger again.

I hadn't been to the site in months. I'd forgotten what a buzz it was to have hoards of men viewing my profile and sending me a 'tease'. An old acquaintance was online. We chatted to one another on the IM service the site-owners provide. He was still really witty and amusing, and very very complimentary. It was fun. It certainly beat trying to finish Simon Schama's History of Britain.

He'd sent me a message the next day. So had one or two other blokes, but I ignored the ones that came from Morocco, the male**-order equivalent of Russian or Thai brides. I was sufficiently dazzled enough to return the next day, but only for a very short period. There was no way I was going to get drawn into all that banal, superficial chatting with people, at best on the other side of the country, who I would never have any intention of meeting, let alone dating. It had served its purpose. I'd met some really good friends and couldn't imagine it would have anything better to offer.

I turned off the computer and went outside into the weekend sunshine to tend my courgettes and dead-head my baskets. All was well for a few hours.

I can only think it was the sun that got to me in that short space of time. Why else would I find myself less than 24 hours later, happily typing my credit card details into the neat little payment boxes just so I could read the message that some bloke with an interesting loggin name that sugggested he liked The Clash had sent to me. He was local - ish too, with a big wide smile.

If only I'd had the forethought to read the rest of his Profile instead of blindly rushing ahead in typical Taurean fashion. He's another flipping midget. 5'6".

When am I ever going to learn that the chances of a 6'6" international rugby player going by the name of Johnno is not likely to be hanging around a computer on a sunny weekend in the offchance of meeting me?

*this is a fictitious site. I might be stupid but I'm not that stupid that I'd send you all off to see my pathetic profile on a dating site.
** witty pun intended

Friday, August 04, 2006

An Obituary

Made famous by Jasper Carrott, the deity John Peel's favourite live venue and the place where I tirelessly trained to become an olympic snogger, invariably clad in a rubber dress and 4-inch killer heels, dancing with delicious abandon to Echo Beach, Teenage Kicks, Ram Jam et al, is no more.

The Baths started life, funnily enough, in the 1930s as a municipal swimming pool, popular with the grimy steelworkers in the days before internal plumbing but later transformed itself into one of the UK's premiere ( in my opinion) live music venues.

The much-loved Baths welcomed the likes of the Boomtown Rats, the Hollies, the Searchers, Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, Desmond Dekker, New Model Army, China Crisis, Steve Bird's alternative disco and the annual Rock Open, and latterly the tediously regular Rumbleband and various tribute bands, delighting 3 generations of this family alone ( my Mum, Katy Crunch & I, and last night, Jack who went along to watch Enter Shikari) for almost 40 years.

Tonight was to have been its swan song, blasting out in a blaze of glory with The Buzzcocks, but sadly the gig was cancelled so I never did get chance to pay my respects. ( I'm secretly relieved. I was worrying how I was going to get out of that rubber dress without breaking my clavicle).

Ram Jam