New Year Random Gripes!

Happy New Year, faithful followers! Let’s hope everything I hoped would happen in 2010 will now happen in 2011. Although the likelihood of Johnny Depp getting the urge to move to a semi-detached in East London is fairly remote. However, I remain optimistic that I will stick my new year’s resolution. Which was not to make one! You see I can’t stick to them. No, not even abstaining from alcohol for 1 month. Plus life is too short. And knowing my luck, I’ll be hit by a truck – my departing thoughts being that if only I had a hangover, it would be so much less painful!

So far, nothing has pushed me to the edge this year. Work is calm. The trains are crap. The weather is awful. Same old. So I thought I’d reflect on some of the random irritations of last year. Things that don’t warrant a full-scale rant but nevertheless are worthy of mention. Apologies if you fall into any of the categories. Remember it’s all done in the best possible taste.

Men in Gladiator sandles
OK I know they were originally worn by men. In Roman times!! It wasn’t a great look but they seemed to work fairly well so long as you’re wearing armour and carrying a sword. Otherwise you just look gay. In fact they’re horrible things even on girls – particularly if you’ve got short legs. It lust looks like you’ve got your ankles caught up in some discarded bits of leather! Leave them to Julius!

Self Service Checkouts
It really shouldn’t be that difficult. So why have relationships between us and these machines has become so fraught? The moments of ‘barcode blindness’ where you almost end up with repetitive strain injury trying to get the frigging thing to scan. And when you finally do, you’re greeted with he phrase “unexpected item in the bagging area”: a phrase so synonymous with the 21st Century shopping experience it’s become a T-shirt slogan. What’s so unexpected anyway? You only swiped the item a second ago and were charged for it. So you have to wait for a member of staff to come and press a few buttons while you stand there feeling utterly incompetent. Still it does at least allow me to buy all those embarrassing things that the spotty checkout assistant probably snigger at.

Public Snogging
Nobody wants to hear your slurping noises. Is it that urgent that you can’t wait til you get home? Or at least find an doorway or a large tree to hide behind? There is a solution though. Get married! Then this revolting desire to eat each other’s faces off will be instantly cured!

Text Speak
Alright it’s OK if it’s a life and death situation. Maybe you’ve just taken a wrong turn up Kilimanjaro (apparently the road signs are rubbish) or you’ve slipped down a ravine in the Amazon rainforest and are clinging to a clifftop while starving crocodiles are snapping at your feet. Clearly you need to get an urgent message to someone and understandly punctuation and grammar aren’t top of your list. So apart from that, or you’re 14, please don’t! Trust me there’s nothing worse that getting a text from a 40 something which reads ‘OMG it ws Gr8 2 c u’. It’s just lazy. More importantly, it takes me twice as long for me to figure it out. But that’s another issue entirely.

Women Who Do their Make Up On The Train
Can you really not spare 5 minutes to slap on the polyfilla before you leave the house? Be honest, it’s not easy is it? Trying to coat your bottom lashes whilst hurtling through tunnels at 60 miles an hour. In fact, just this morning I got off the train covered in a thin layer of Clinique powder while the lass who’d been trying to apply it looked more like Coco the Clown.

That’s enough from me now.

Happy Bloody Christmas!

I’ve got a cold. A ‘Woman Cold’. It’s like ‘Man Flu’. But it means I still get to cook and clean. I get it every year. For Christmas. Still it makes a change from scented shower gel.

Can someone pass that trumpet? I’m going to blow it for a while. Hell why not? It’s the festive season and we all like to blow something once a year. I just want to say, despite this temperature, this hacking cough, this permanent running nose, I successfully managed to entertain 30 guests on Christmas Eve and cook dinner for 7 on Christmas Day. Ok, I had a little help here and there but being a kitchen control freak, it’s often better for any willing helpers to steer clear. It’s a dangerous combination – me, ‘woman cold’ and a boiling hot bucket of mulled wine!

And you know what? It was a roaring success. Even though I say so myself. Just a trumpet? Hey, pass me the tuba!! No one died of food poisoning. Nothing ran out. Nobody argued. Ok, one of the ageds knocked a bottle of red wine on the white table cloth, but that’s an annual event not to be missed. And it means I get to put the washing machine on on Christmas Day!

So it’s now the 30th. And I confess my sum total of doing anything since then has been a disappointing zero. All my plans to clean out that cupboard and empty those boxes have been scuppered by a few good films on tv, a tin of Quality Street and feeling like the walking dead. Still I feel I’m entitled to it. I did all the Christmas shopping, made pickles and chutneys and a Christmas pudding. Just call me Nigella!

OK, you can have the tuba back. Blowing it is hurting my weakened chest. I’m heading back to the sofa. You all know where the left-overs are if you’re hungry. I shall be sat here for the foreseeable, desperately trying to remember when I last had a shower. Maybe if I’d got some scented shower gel for Christmas, it might have reminded me.

Happy New Year, friends.

A Life Without Apps

It’s a horrible noise, isn’t it. You know, the noise of your iPhone hitting the bottom of the toilet. And it’s an ugly picture too. isn’t it. That one of you watching it tumble out of your pocket and straight down the pan knowing there’s absolutely nothing you can do but watch it sink. And being an iPhone, knowing damn well that’s the end of it’s life.

You’d have thought it was the end of mine too. I was panic stricken. Short of breath. Feeling dizzy. I grabbed it as quick as I could but no amount of falling to my knees shouting ‘don’t die, don’t die!’ was going to save it. I watched it flicker as the life (and the wee) drained out of it. Gone. Dead. And it was all my fault. I had no-one else to blame. And that hurt too!

What hurt even more was the realisation of how much I relied on the damn thing. Checking emails, what’s on TV, what’s on at the flicks, the weather, the traffic, Facebook at any time I cared to, Twitter, Ping, Bing – you name it, it was there at my finger tips. And the games! Oh the games! Those precious minutes of down time where I could play mindlessly on Doodlejump, or Coin Dozer. Ye gods! Coin Dozer! I had over 5000 coins!! Took me months!

I don’t know when my period’s due, what the football scores are, whether the Central Line’s down (probably is), whether I’ve won the lottery (probably not) and I can’t jump on Wikipedia to resolve an argument that’s about to kick off.

But the worse thing of all is being without googlemaps! As was demonstrated very clearly last weekend when I found myself in the middle of nowhere armed only with an Atlas (a dusty, usually out-of-date road map of the UK for those of you unfamiliar with the term. It didn’t even have the M25 on it. Most of it still showed farmland and areas recently conquered by Vikings. So goodness knows how I was expected to find a small Essex village. I couldn’t even work out where I’d been, let alone where I was going. It was more luck than judgement. Still at least I had an Alcatel mobile phone c.1982 to make a phone call (phone call – oh how retro!) for the hosts to talk me down.

However, this 3 week exercise in being minus smartphone has had it’s advantages. I actually got a few things done. I read a book. Did a crossword. I wrote lists – and subsequently regained the power of handwriting. And more importantly, I actually had a few conversations with people I’d normally Skype, Ping or Facebook.

So maybe it wasn’t the worse thing in the world after all. Although the temporary loss of numbers was a bit of an arse. And the £50 excess. But it has made me think about relying so ridculously heavily on a piece of technology.

Everything in moderation, huh! Must dash though. I’ve got some Angry Birds that need dealing with!

So when did I turn into my mother …….

I remember the day I turned into my mother. The day when I walked in crazy and walked out sensible. The day when I sacrificed fashion for comfort and spontaneity for reality.

It was around 5 years ago. On a Thursday morning. I was all dolled up for Ladies Day at Ascot. Fuschia pink Whistles dress, matching Philip Treacey creation plastered to perfectly coiffeured bob and ah! Now here’s the sensible bit. The shoes. Of course, the obvious choice is the fuschia pink diamante strappy sandals. But the thought of tottering around the London Underground and various other methods of transport in 8 inch heels was quite horrifying. Aside from the fact I can’t walk in the damn things as all that connects your foot to the inner sole is 2 thin pieces of suede, the additional thought of being stood all day in said shoes was even more horrifying. The balls of my feet would be burning before lunch! And then I’d have to take them off and stagger around barefoot like one of those drunken slappers after a night on the half price Bacardi Breezers outside some god-awful Plymouth nightclub called Ritzys.

I could wear the Birkenstocks and take the sandals. But that would mean extra baggage. They won’t fit into the matching fuschia Lulu Guinness clutch. And the only other bag to hand is a Tesco’s Bag For Life. Hardly appropriate. Even if it matched. Plus I’d look like something recently released into the community. However, somewhere in the bottom of the wardrobe, I know there are a pair of low heeled pink sandals that might just solve the problem. Fortunately they match. And sadly I choose to wear them over the gorgeous mules.

I’ve vivid memories of venturing to Mr Stringfellow’s nightly emporium many years ago (before it was a strip club!) wearing very little but some carefully arranged bits of string and the highest heels despite the fact it was usually the middle of winter. No jacket required! And now, well I have to consider the venue – will I be on my feet for any length of time, will I have to spend time outside whilst in transit and therefore what would be appropriate weather attire. And more importantly, how will I get home? Last train? Taxi? Can I afford a taxi? Years ago, getting home was just a mere possibility. In an ideal world, I’d be rather hoping I didn’t. All that mattered was I was going out and I was going to have fun. Hell, I could always get a night bus. Or hitch-hike.

So in end, I opted for the comfy sandals and put the hardly-worn strappy mules back in their box and headed off to Ascot. Mindful not to forget a cardigan, a train timetable, some cash for a taxi, glasses, phone, a packet of Rennie, a small bottle of water (in case of dehydration should the train breakdown) and an umbrella. Just in case.

About time Tesco started making colour co-ordinated Bags for Life!

On yer bike!

I’ve never really embraced the joys of cycling. It’s something else I’ve dabbled with over the years – like learning the guitar, aromatherapy and toy boys. But it’s never quite worked for me. I think there’s two reasons for this. One is that I’ve never been able to come to terms with the pain of perching on a hard bit of plastic and the aftermath that goes with it, and the other is that I actually want to live. But after another woeful journey on the Central Line, is it something I really should consider?

Take this morning, for instance. I got on the platform only to join the 20,000 other people who are stood staring open-mouthed at the digital display unit in despair. Of course it’s yet another torturous journey. Squashed up against the rucksack of an unwashed student being slightly preferable to the armpit of the punk. And then we stop. No explanation. The Lord Almighty only knows why! The wrong kind of passenger on the line? Signal failure in Aberdeen. I’ve long given up taking notice of the muffled excuses of the driver.

It’s after those arduous journeys that I long to be mistress of my own travel arrangements. Being above the ground in the fresh air, the wind in my cycle helmet and the smell of exhaust fumes can’t possibly be worse than being involuntarily entered into that killer sauna competition. Trouble is, it doesn’t end there. Negotiating the concourse at Liverpool street is just as dangerous as my emergence always co-incides with National Express emptying half of Hertfordshire into the station. Even if I manage to avoid a clash of foreheads, I’m usually tripped up by their well-hidden, pull-along suitcase.

So it with a sigh of relief that I stagger onto the pavement with most of my person intact, bar my big toe, only to be whisked off down Broadgate on some fluorescent clad, speed freak’s handle bars! I mean do red lights not apply to cyclists?? That’s swiftly followed by a swarm of them coming round the corner at breakneck speed. Is ‘swarm’ the correct term for a lot of cyclists, anyway? Should be a Deathtrap of Cyclists. Whatever it is, they’re bloody everywhere, appearing out of nowhere everytime I try to cross the street. You know, maybe deep down I’m just jealous. Despite the impending and likely grizzly death, they always look fit and healthy, lithe and tanned. Out in the fresh air rather than holed up underground with 2 dozen sugar-enhanced 8 year olds on a school trip.

So what am I saying here (if you’re still awake, I’ll enlighten you). I hate commuting. It’s expensive and full of other miserable buggers going to work! But I’m too scared to cycle. So I won’t. And anyway, my dad said I can’t. I’ll continue an unhealthy, unfit, squished, poor commuter. Maybe someone will invent that jetpack in my lifetime. Anything’s possible.

I’m on a diet – hell yeah!

I’m back on the diet. God help you all. Mind you when I say ‘back’, it does conjure up a number of possibilities doesn’t it: A) That I’d been on one and failed and B) That I’d been on one and succeeded but then put every last pound back simply by the power of the chip shop. Well both of those are true if you count the 20 odd years it’s been on the agenda.

I’m an all or nothing kinda gal. Obsessive is possibly too strong a word. More mildly exictable. But sadly this ‘mild excitement’ has often cost me dear. Take the juice diet for example. I bought the book (£8), the juice machine (£50), the entire contents of Tescos fruit n veg dept (£20) and it must have lasted – ooooh 2 days? Maybe less. Partly due to the fact that, having read the book, the thought of getting up at 6 to drink hot water, do some visualising followed by half an hour of excercise before I brave the Central Line just seemed horrifying. This hour is far better spent clutching a cup of builders tea in the comfort of my bed, contemplating the day ahead. So the juicer remains, shiny and hardly used, at the back of the cupboard. Along with the South Beach Diet Book, the GI Diet Book and the Low Fat After Work No Stress Cook Book for Working Mums.

I think the reality is, is that I just can’t seem to fit it in to my schedule long term. Well I think I can’t. I know I could if I put my mind to it. I get all gung-ho and fired-up ready to embark on a new eating regime, only to be scuppered by the lure of the teapot and the thought of the Central Line. Then someone offers me a glass of wine. Seems churlish not to. And so the downward spiral begins.

And somewhere buried in all this turmoil is the thought that I DESERVE to eat what I want. I work hard. I do other stuff hard (if you can count extreme ironing and power washing). But unfortunately, a whole tin of Quality Street doesn’t just pass through my person without leaving it’s calling card.

I did well last year on the Cambridge Diet. 1 stone and a bit in 6 weeks. But the thought of powdered soup and protein bars again is making me twitch. And I’ve put on that bit that I lost – and some. So I’ve plumped for the Atkins diet. Low carb, high protein. Which kind of works with my clearly rigid schedule! Even I can manage to throw a few left over lumps of lettuce and a slab of cheese in a tupperware box. As I write, I’m half way through day one. But already, the lack of bread is starting to take it’s toll. What doesn’t help is the smell of toast in the office. Suddenly everyone is looking like a giant pastry.

But I’ll persevere. At least until Wednesday. At which point, there’s every possibility anyone casually eating a sandwich will be attacked and wrestled to the ground just so I can sniff their crust.

I’ll keep you posted.


There’s not much that sends my other half running for cover. Other than me clutching a carving knife around about the 3rd of each month. But one thing sure to have him move quicker than when the bar maid calls closing time is an ad for Halifax.

We’ve both been bothering the advertising industry for the best part of 25 years and can probably lay claim to the odd growler that’s been aired for all to ridicule, but the latest slew of Halifax ads, using a selection of over-weight employees in some mock radio station, has really hit new lows.

A quick whizz round the interweb elicits more venom for these ads than for Hitler! There’s a I Hate Halifax ads facebook page, unprintable comments on and forums a-plenty. In fact, I don’t ever think I’ve seen such hatred for a piece of advertising since – well never actually. In fact I’m genuinely beginning to think they come up with this drivel just to piss people off! I’ve even unearthed stories of folk transferring their savings and mortgages out of Halifax and into some other beleagured institution on the strength of their terrible ads.

At the moment, I can’t decide which of it’s 2 current airings are more offensive – comparing a measly £5 to ‘Gold’ (cue Spandau Ballet) or the women co-presenter who links the acronym ISA with the Hip-Hop song, ‘Ice, Ice, baby’ by Vanilla Ice (cue one-hit wonder uncool 80’s rapper).

But more importantly, it’s our hard earned cash paying for this drivel. A 37billion pound chunk of tax payers money was handed to the bunch of boardroom chumps who single-handly managed to drive the banking industry to it’s knees. So it’s hardly suprising that this lot wouldn’t know a decent idea if it wandered in and gave them a blow-job!

So, to quote and credit the wonderful folk at Adturds as I couldn’t have put it better myself, I think the government should enforce new legislation forcing the banks they have a significant stake in (a 43 per cent stake in Lloyds, which owns HBOS, which is essentially Halifax) to make a series of adverts in their current style where they have to be honest about their underhand attempts to fleece their customers to pay off their horrendous debts.

It could go like this:

FAT BLOKE: We’ve got a caller on Line One!

CALLER: Why are you trying to bum me over overdraft fees?

DJ: Haha! Because we’ve got a carte blanche to brutally hammer every single one of you! Can I just ask if you were conned into banking with us through this risible ‘fiver a month’ deal?

CALLER: Yeah, but with all these overdraft charges it’s a drop in the ocean!

DJ: Of course, that’s the whole point! And how else are we supposed to pay off all those toxic debts we accrued by backing these never-never sub-prime mortgages? By the way, thanks for the 17 billion!

And on that note, here’s The O’Jays, with For the Love of Money! Fuck you all!

Death by Snoring!

If anyone ever invents an effective cure for snoring, I shall be first in the queue to fall at their feet, weeping with joy and relief. You see, I have been sharing a bed with England’s Worst Snorer (I crowned him myself – with a cricket bat!!) for the last 18 years. And it’s not just after a few pints of Raddled Old Git. It’s pretty constant. Oh rest assured we’ve been through everything on the shelves – nasal strips, sprays, I’ve tied tennis balls to his ankles, sewn ping pong balls into his pjs, bought special pillows, even sent him for tests but nothing, I repeat ABSOLUTELY NOTHING works.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve found myself standing over him clutching a pillow in sleep-deprived, deluded and misguided thoughts that 30 years in Holloway might at least give me a decent 8 hours. But my irrational fear of getting up before 7.30am snaps me back to reality. Spare room you say? Nope, still hear it. Ear plugs? Useless. Sound-reducing headphones? Not terribly suitable for a good night’s kip and anyway, I’d still hear it.

“It’s the soft palate”,

the specialist said.

“It’s too low. And restricts breathing. Resulting in short periods where the person is unable to breathe. Usually they start to breathe again after 10 seconds but a sharp intake through a small hole results in excessive noise”.

Only 10 seconds? 8 hours would be better.

You can have surgery, apparently. They use a laser to burn away the soft palate. But it’s not guaranteed to work so it seems rather cruel to put the poor bugger through all that. So I just live in hope that one day someone will find a cure before I do. Especially mine all seem to be wood or feather-based!


This morning, my “I’ll be 16 next year” daughter flounced out of the house to meet some friends. It wasn’t until she walked down the path that I noticed, from my ‘just out of view spot’ in the kitchen, that she was dressed from head to toe in my clothes – right down to the bag and the boots! Now, the fact that no permission was asked isn’t the issue (although I will be bringing this up on her return). It’s more the fact that I’ve just had this awful realisation that I may be dressing as a 14 year old girl!

It’s fortunate we’re similar sizes so she certainly didn’t look like a bag lady. But for the life of me, I couldn’t ever remember any desire whatsoever to rummage through my mother’s wardrobe and throw on a pair of her slacks, or some sensible shoes. I’ve always thought of my mother as being well dressed, in an M&S kind of way, but her idea of style seems to consist of navy blue and comfort. Nothing wrong in that. But at 14 years old, I usually felt the need to wear as little as possible, despite potential arctic conditions coupled with the most ridiculous shoes.

I suppose working in an industry where most people are 12 doesn’t help. I’m conscious that if I turn up in a twin-set and pearls, I might be forcibly marched of the premises but in turn, I’m mortified by the fact that I might have overstepped the mark with the leggings/baggy jumper combo that I donned yesterday.

So for the time being, I think I’ll err on the side of optimism and assume that my daughter clearly sees me as a fashion icon with an eye for style. I, meanwhile, am currently without a pair of boots, leggings, a shirt, jacket and bag so am about to head off shopping wearing my son’s sweatshirt and my husband’s jeans. I also have clear instructions from my daughter to steer clear of the park. Well, dressed like this, I’m just an embarrassment.

Aren’t I!