Monday, November 27, 2006

Smashing Views



Saturday, November 25, 2006

9 Blogworld Road

I've applied for a house. It's lovely. Art deco with huge south-facing windows and a roof terrace overlooking a vast verdant garden that stretches down to the banks of a wide flowing river. The previous occupants were a gay couple, designers who created the most beautiful, witty living and party spaces you could imagine, lots of warm jewel soft furnishings offset by crisp white walls and polished oak floors and panelling. The en-suite in the master bedroom is a bit OTT, rather too much use of gold mosaic tiles, but the surveyor said they were real leaf so they will be staying put and the double-ended jacuzzi bath might be a bit redundant - it's too big to lie and read in, my feet wouldn't touch the end and I'd keep slipping under and get my pages wet.
There's a little boathouse tucked away at the bottom of the garden. I think someone might have been sleeping in it but there were no unpleasant smells or signs of substance misuse so I'll probably let it pass, at least until I can afford a little skiff for lazy Sunday afternoon floating picnics in the summer.
It's not the house that is the biggest draw though, fabulous as it is, but the exclusive location and neighbours. They are a lively creative set, possibly a little intimidating on first appearance given their obvious talents but I've already met a few of them and they are truly charming, warm welcoming folk. I can't wait to have them over for supper, maybe just a few at a time initially, get to know them individually, lull them into believing I'm a mild-mannered, polite hostess, given to occasionally raucous laughter but otherwise benign before unleashing the full-blown all-night party queen at the Official House Warming Bash in the Spring ( Bring Your Own Towel). That gives me time to practice some moves on the flagpole half way down the lawn.
The best bit is that there's no chain, no need to call in slimy estate agents, crummy conveyancers or bait my breath until my buyers sign a contract. I've already written to the Chairman of the Residents' Association and she's given me a free pass to the community until my references come through so I think I'm going to spend the rest of the weekend wandering around there, hoping to catch sight of the monkeys in the trees, enjoying the brass band as it marches up the street and generally smiling at everyone, hoping they like me and most importantly, spotting where the single guy lives.
There are still properties available to suit all requirements; it's tax-free, cost-free and you don't have to wait weeks for a decent builder. Maybe we can be neighbours.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Accidental Ventilation

Being a reasonably competent and confident player, Jack is no stranger to shouts of encouragement such as " Great tackle" from the spectating parents, and more frequently of late, girls.

The crowd were particularly vociferous during his match on Wednesday although judging by the state of his shorts when I fetched them out of the washing machine some time later, it was not his game play they were cheering.

Rare Genes

My Mum contacted me yesterday. She didn't ring, pop round, send a text or message via Jack.
Instead, I received an email. From

Message from : Susan

Subject : Re - Your Mother

Hi Cherrypie - it''s your Mum here! I would love to see you sometime! If you won't come to me, when are you in?

You would think she was trying to make a point.

I visited her tonight. I know I'd worked 11 hours without a break, hadn't eaten, needed to sort out the laundry and had some reading to do in preparation for an important meeting tomorrow but it was the least I could to detour on my way home. I was pleased I had as I got back into the car for the long journey( half a mile) home afterwards. She'd given me my tea.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Grimm Epilogue

It was much as I had feared. Last minute raffle prize collection and the need to tie cute pink ribbon, in keeping with the Breast Cancer theme, around the hastily and lop-sidedly copied menu/welcome booklets, a thought which had occurred to me at 1.30am as I left the football club having agreed to cover the bar for just 3 hours which eventually became 6 and a half left very little time for personal planning.
I prioritised the essentials, checking every corner of the house for cat poo, de-scumming the bathroom, toilets and kitchen sink and forming a mound of dirty washing on the landing immediately outside Jack's bedroom door, optimistically hoping he would choose to pick it up and carry it downstairs to the utility room rather than step over it at every access and egress. I was disappointed.
I made it to the hairdressers' with just 2 hours to spare. I didn't have an appointment but had chosen the crummy concession in Asda for just that reason. They couldn't fit me in. I tried my best eye-watery pleading expression. When that didn't work I offered to pay double. Na da! So I bought a hideous gold top that I foolishly thought might look alright beneath a sari and wheel-spinned out of the newly-arranged car park in search of a more customer-focused salon.
I found one after 4 failed attempts. A beacon of light pouring forth onto the damp, deserted streets. I had managed to find the last coiffeuse capable of coaxing my damp-frizzed hair into an elegant chignon, befitting a Society Hostess, albeit one from North Lincolnshire. How was I to know I had chosen the only non-English speaking hairdresser in Scunthorpe? She worked very efficiently and confidently twisted and pulled my hair in an upwards direction. Unfortunately, she didn't seem to grasp exactly what I meant by ' no pincurls and absolutely NO sticky-out bits'. I left 30 minutes later looking like Big Bird Does Vegas.
I had no time to depin and restyle. Sophie was already waiting, her bed still unmade, perching on the edge of the sofa, politely ignoring my suitcase, still half unpacked from the previous weekend at her feet. It took me 3 minutes to realise that I hadn't a frigging chance of remembering how to wrap 23' of traditional Indian silk about me so as not to look like I was wearing the curtains. Jack helpfully disguised my anguished cries with his own, more verbose, complaining about the size of his shirt ( " Look at it. It's like a @"cking parachute!") and the size of his Tux ( " I can't move my arms. I can't move my arms. Do I have to wear this straight jacket?")
The rest of the evening went smoothly enough, once my fellow organiser, the one who only had to bring the raffle tickets, had called his son and got him to deliver the raffle tickets which were still sitting on his kitchen side. One of the tables didn't get any gravy but we had 4 boats on ours, actually we also seemed to have more cauliflower mornay ( that's cheese sauce but posher, it was a Ball after all) but I wasn't about to mention that.
The night was over before I barely had time to give Darbster's new Ladylove the third degree, blag a private tour of the Commons from the MP, although I did have rather a good chat about local organic lamb producers with his wife in the toilet queue, or sneak outside for a shivering bonding session with the wheezing social pariahs. Jack sensibly accepted an early lift home, citing the need for sleep due to an impending match but I suspect the opportunity to share the back seat of a taxi with the beautiful 15 year old daughter of a friend was more of a lure.
There was no Prince Charming, or Desperation Date to witness the horror that was my hair-do, but I didn't have the time to notice.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Grimm Tale

At least Cinderella had no expectations of going to the Ball.

She knew she was staying at home so she didn't have to worry about the fact that her nails were more ragged than her work clothes. Once she'd finished cleaning the house, she could collapse in a tired heap by the fire, probably nibbling on cheese and having a crafty swig of the cooking sherry. She certainly didn't have to juggle a tight timetable of showers, depilation, hair appointments as late in the day and close to the start of the evening as possible, and she would have had to do that because being a fairy tale babe she'd be bound to have long thick hair intent on obeying gravity, it's an occupational hazard.

It mattered not that the bags under her eyes would not have made it past the Ryanair check-in desk. Even if she didn't have time to lay in a darkened room whilst the chilled Optrex disposable masks did their stuff, a wave of her Fairy Godmother's YSL Touche Eclat wand would have her looking radiant and refreshed in seconds.

Running around the locality collecting, begging ( and if I don't pull my finger out, stealing) raffle prizes was certainly not anywhere on her agenda nor did she have to arrive at the venue a good half hour before anyone else to ensure the table settings had been arranged correctly, place the menu and acknowledgement cards which she'd sat up half the previous night designing, and display the raffle prizes in an appealing manner. Alright, maybe she'd not made trays of pinwheel hors d'oeuvres either but had she thought about it? Huh, had she?

She didn't have the fear that her dress wouldn't fit; that she hadn't taken it to the dry-cleaners since last year ( nothing that a few carefully-aimed squirts of scent couldn't hide, besides after a few glasses of wine they wouldn't notice the mildew round the bottom) or that someone would realise it was the same one she'd been recycling for the last 4 years; or the dilemma whether to opt for the peacock blue sari from 5 years ago which was in danger of becoming a throw for the sofa if it didn't get another wearing soon but could she rely on her own folding abilities and a few safety pins? She wouldn't want to come unravelled when dancing the Jitterbug ( Wham! version) with the local MP.

And all Cinderella had to do was peel a few spuds and sweep a couple of sooty fireplaces every day. It's not like she worked for a living and still hadn't caught up on the backlog from her few feeble days away the previous week. Her journey home wasn't held up by roadworks or the masses gathering together to witness the switching on of the Christmas Lights.

She even got to wear Stripper slippers, which is probably the thing which irks me most.
Bloody Cinderella and her oh-so-perfect-goodie-goodie-bloody Fairy Godmother and her pumpkins. She got to leave at midnight. She didn't have the task of rounding up the drunks and persuading them to leave their drinks/ her bottom alone/ and get in their taxis, collecting up the discarded dickie-bows, handbags, raffle prizes, knickers ( actually, they were mine and I still haven't ever told that story), pay the disco and the caterers and remember to pick up the collection money.
God help Prince Charming if he dared to show his face!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Four Days and a Douche

I wish my short foreign trip had been half as exciting as imaginations would have had it. I was in a strong rugby area, very close to Perpignan and Beziers but I didn’t get so much as a whiff of wintergreen let alone a warm, moist jock strap. I might have made a more concerted effort if I thought Mrs. Roger's mother, my travel companion, would have been happy to amuse herself of an evening.

Hertz had very kindly programmed the radio for me

Instead, I sampled Cassoulet and Orkina Sabatier in Carcassonne, tasted eponymous sausages in Toulouse, nougat in Narbonne, a very lively Blanchette di Limoux within metres of its vineyard and ultimately exceeded my luggage limit with cheese, wine and foie gras.

The view from my hotel room window in Carcassonne

I watched flamingos pirouette in the Etangs, while a couple of very large, completely unidentified birds of prey circled above the enigmatic ruins of Peyrepeyteuse. The wild boar kept out of my path on the twisting wooded roads of the Corbieres forest but I did disturb a lone badger, the only other living thing out after dark for miles around. I think the last tourist had turned the lights out as they left at the end of October. It was bliss.

My schoolgirl French served well, even allowing general conversation over and above the usual retail exchanges as fortunately no-one asked me my age. I doubt I'd have got away with " J'ai onze ans", my imprinted response.
We stayed in the most amazing 12th Century castle for the first 3 nights. I won't say where exactly. Anyone outside Europe would struggle to believe something so perfect, romantic and evocative could exist outside Disneyland, and anyone else would be close enough to take advantage of such a fantastic discovery ( 45 Euros, bed and homemade breakfast for 2 per night, 25 Euros for a gourmet dinner including wine and liquers) and hike up the prices before I have the opportunity to return.

The biggest lesson I learnt from this trip is one which any aspiring traveller would do well to heed. When using a public toilet, the modern, self-cleaning type beloved of town planners, do not open the door to speak to your friend until after you have made full use of the facilities and are ready to exit. I spent an entire afternoon sightseeing, looking as if I'd used a car wash, without a vehicle.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Separation Anxiety

We apologise for the temporary interruption. Normal service will resume at the weekend.

We regret we are unable to disclose the reason for the sudden loss of transmission (and not just in case he moves before I get there!) There's a prize for the person who guesses where I am going, who with and what we will be doing most accurately*. Beware of coming up with witty and original ideas, I might just insist you accompany me on that trip next time.

If you do not want to take part in the prize competition, please feel free to leave random words in the comments section. I will use them as the basis for a future post when all other inspiration fails me.

Ta Ra!

* Entry not open to immediate family or friends who are feeding the cat/ child or have had a conversation with me in the last 6 weeks because that, and blogging are all I have talked about during that time.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Cracker night

Surrender, surrender, the Fifth of November
The whizzes, the bangs and the sparkle
I see no reason why Firework Season
Should be such a big debacle.

Bonfire Night is my least favourite night of the year, closely followed by Valentines’ Night and that annual agonising display of torture known as Children In Need Night. I know Scotland Yard hasn’t done much to be proud of in recent times but do we really need to be celebrating the arrest of Britain’s first terror bomber 401 years later?

The prospect of attending a house party where slightly tipsy blokes stagger about the garden in the dark trying to read the instructions on the back of a flimsy chinese explosive-filled tube with a lighter leaves me cold. Organised displays are not much better.

My parents arranged a large Village Bonfire in the disused quarry every year. The fireworks would be stored in wooden crates in our shop, the one we used as a playroom, for weeks beforehand. I knew not to go anywhere near them or else I would die. Instead I would return to the shop door 2 or 3 times every minute to check I couldn’t detect smoke or signs of smouldering. I was a bundle of neuroses whenever Nana lit a cigarette lest a stray spark jumped across 3 rooms and set the whole lot off.

One morning, Dad and a bunch of his friends, all people I had known all my life, loaded the cargo-container-sized boxes onto the back of his truck and a tractor-trailer from Wells’ farm. I knew nor cared not where they went but I would relax only once the threat of them had left.

Later, Nana would wrap us in bobble hats and itchy scarves and walk us up the hill to a lively scene on the windy Lincolnshire Wold Top. I liked the smell of the jacket potatoes and soup that my Mum and some of the other ladies stirred. Everybody I knew was there, stamping their feet on the clodden earth, dry ice breath preceding every greeting. Dad’s truck and the tractors were parked up, with leads running from them to the lights. I couldn’t see any sign of the drivers.

There were some scaffolding towers across the field that I hadn’t noticed before. Figures were moving about in the dark beneath them. A scarecrow perched on our old settee, the one that Meggie the dog had slept on, above a mound of wooden junk. A figure was walking towards it. I recognised Dad immediately. He stopped when he got to the edge of the towering heap. I watched as he threw water from an oil can he was carrying all around the base. He took out a box of matches, the sort that Nana used to light her smelly fags and lent forward.

I started screaming as soon as I realised what was happening. The flames were already licking up the scarecrow’s leg and it was only a matter of seconds before they engulfed Dad. He couldn’t hear me over the roar of the fire and the silly laughter of the crowd. I tried to run to him but Grandad held my hand tightly. He stepped away. I screamed louder as he turned to walk away from me, back towards the strange towers. I wanted him to come and take me home, to safety. Sparks flew, borne on the keen wind. I couldn’t see the firework crates but I feared they might be close enough to catch alight.

The first explosion stunned me. It came from the direction that I had last seen Dad. No-one could have survived it. It was closely followed by another of equally devastating magnitude. I was hysterical, uncontrollable. I was trying to make them understand that my Daddy might be lying injured, needing me, or more likely an ambulance as I was led away, sobbing to Old Mr Wells’ Austin Allegra. I sucked jerkily on a proffered humbug which seemed to have a calming effect after 20 minutes or so, helped by the radio which drowned out the deafening blitzkreig taking place over the car. Mr Wells offered me another just to be on the safe side. I was almost starting to breathe again when something struck the car roof. It was a rocket fallen from the sky. Surely now we would be incinerated alive.

I don’t recall ever journeying with Old Mr Wells again after that short, rapid descent down the hill to the High Street but he always gave me a sweet whenever he saw me over the next few years, only now they were always Gobstoppers.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


It's been a long hard holidayless year so far and my usual customer service sheen has started to show signs of tarnish. I'm using clipped speech more and more, rather than the softer approachable style that I prefer to adopt and I am ending most conversations with 'Fuckwit', thankfully still only once I have replaced the handset but it's surely just a matter of time.

My secretaries have started to make me coffees. I suspect they may be planning to lace them with Prozac. If they had more flipping initiative, they'd have been doing it for months but they'd argue they aren't paid enough to make executive decisions.

It was rather surprising in such a climate to receive a gift package from a client today. It was even more bizarre to find Wallace & Gromit toast stencils, a carving knife and a magic stick-on bra inside. He'd got the cup size right, D. I have no idea what prompted such an unexpected, but frankly practical and rather wonderful gesture.

NB. Models own