Monday, 28 February 2011

Where there's a scrum in supermarket and Mrs Jenkins has gone do-lally-tap

In our very large local Supermarket this morning  for weekly foray for food, with my Mum. I am trying not to make eye contact with Mrs Jenkins, one of my old interior design customers. "Lovely old girl,"  I tell Mum  "but always wants to talk to me about the problems with her swags and tails, or not being able to find fabric for cushions to go in  her dog's four poster."
I head Mrs Jenkins off at the pass between the freezer section and choccie biccie's, where she stocks up as if she's expecting a war.  Mum and I are lurking in the safe haven of the cheese and bacon aisle when we notice people appearing with trolleys, from every direction, all headed for the same place. As we get closer we see that the staff are unloading a mountain of marked down food into a chiller cabinet.  They might as well be throwing a side of beef into shark infested waters. There's a lot of noise, jostling, grabbing and something that looks like a Rugby scrum. 
When we're able to get close, three minutes later, it's been picked clean. Or almost. There's one remaining "Giant cream muffin." 
"It looks like it's fallen from the top of a ten storey building." Mum says.
"Great," I say grabbing it and stuffing it in the trolley, "The Husband will definitely think it's been home made." 
Then there's a tap on my shoulder.
"I'm so glad I caught you," Mrs Jenkins beams, "I need some advice on my garage." 
"Garage?" Mum and I say in unison.
"Yes, do you remember it from when you last came to the house, it's to the left of the conservatory?"  
I haven't got time to say, "I don't, because it's been seven years."  
"What colour should I paint it?" She says, taking a Farrow and Ball colour chart out of her hand bag...
Suddenly I remember why I love writing so much and need to get back to work on the novel and hide away in Southern Ireland....

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Where even if caller is Satan himself ordering fireside slippers, I say "have a nice day."

Forgot to update you about the job application. You may remember that last week's personality profile and maths test proved to be somewhat of a challenge to say the least and so I wasn't very optimistic about part three, which turned out to be taking orders on the telephone.  Scary robotic lady "office manager" gives you instructions and you have to answer phone on line by clicking responses and deal with virtual "client."  Client may want to do any one of 1,000 things depending on how much time they have to kill and which side of bed got out of this morning, such as place order, cancel order, send order to new address, send 3 items on order back (as not wanted) and keep 2, get v. shirty because order not received yet and order placed this morning, or all of the above.
All information has to be typed onto invoice at roughly 120 words per minute and even if caller a deranged lunatic or even Satan himself ordering fireside slippers, finish conversation with me saying "thank you for call, have a nice day."
Anyway, panicked, got into mess and sent order to wrong address and client got mad, did  a lot of shouting and cancelled order. Another client complained that he had ordered XXXL size Hawaiian shirt and his order printout says  XXXXL "Are you trying to say I need larger size?" He says testily.
Get very flustered  and after hour of test completed, need therapy for post traumatic stress.  I realise it's probably a bit of a shock, but I'm afraid to say I did not get job. The Husband can't believe it keeps saying "how can you fail job to answer phone in your own sitting room., if you worked for the American Government." I imagine there's a few people reading this who might suggest answer to that.
Hmmm, worse had to confess at Job Centre.  James an unemployed graduate who also applied, catches me at door. I blush, tell him result. "Me too," he says "it was an absolute nightmare, failed miserably."
"Have you heard from Dazza?" I say, enquiring about fork lift truck driver, who also took test at same time.
"Yah!" He says raising eyebrow, "apparently he passed with flying colours."

By the way,  "Nessie" back in hiding until next time we see Charlie and Tasha. Diary for summer already filling up as they're getting married in June and parents have 80th birthday bash in August. Hurrah, new dresses and hat required, Also, Bee says our friend Kitty called yesterday and is back from Mediterranean Cruise with her parents. Apparently she has exciting news....Hmmmm

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Where we're offered boat rescue from bedroom window

Couldn't speak to you earlier because have been out with The Husband  viewing houses and we are home for quick cup of tea before seeing another at 2.30pm. so am scoffing biscuits while typing.  When out this morning the estate agent says to me  "Oh, saw you in Hexham Courant and see you are writing book, I have always fancied writing story."
"She should have no problem," I say to The Husband, when we arrive at house and look at details,  "these are a greater work of fiction than my novel will ever be."
Estate agents details say:
"lovely house retaining all original period features, set in cottage garden, in rural location with river views and fishing rights.
Actually means:
Nothing has been changed since house built in 1834 including kitchen units and range which could be sold to British Museum. Plumbing still useless and no heating, other than coal fires. "Cottage garden" turns out to be over grown wilderness, which is so dense and isolated there could be people living in midst who don't know second world war is over yet.  Finally after hacking way through knee high weeds thistles and stinging nettles, we come face to face with huge stone structure with steps up the side to top.
"Strange," I say to  The Husband,  following him and agent up steps, "I didn't think Hadrian's Wall was as close to River Tyne."
"It isn't," says The Husband  getting exasperated, "that's because Hadrian was trying to keep out the Scottish  not the fish."
"There," Estate Agent says triumphantly,  like climber reaching K2 summit, "lovely view of river and bank fishing area."
"Hmmmm," says The Husband, very underwhelmed, "but why wall? Spoils view of river from garden." he says to agent and mutters to me "obviously assuming garden cleared by setting on fire for a week, like Amazon rainforest."
"Yes, I see your point," agrees agent "but last time it flooded here, water rose to first floor so  it's really down to personal taste but for me,"  she says, "I think I'd prefer to sacrifice view, than be rescued by boat from bedroom window but then we're not all made the same are we? So wall could come down if you decide this is your dream home. Come on I'll show you coal house."

Just off to next viewing which is part of an old house that's been divided up into apartments. Photographs look lovely...

Friday, 25 February 2011

Where The Loch Ness Monster survives another attempt at capture, purely by chance

We were getting ready to go out to supper at friends, Tasha and Charlie's last night, to celebrate their surprise summer wedding announcement. I was on last half hour of  finishing hair and make up (2 hour total operation, like respraying second hand car).
"It's very romantic," I say to husband as I'm putting on dress, "so you remember that bottle of Vintage champagne I've been hoarding  for over 100 years for suitable special occasion? We'll take as gift."
"Wow," said The Husband "never thought I'd see the day. That bottle's managed to avoid sighting and survive so many attempts at capture it's a legend, like Loch Ness Monster."
Between you and me, I had to hide it. He's tried to drink it at every Christmas, birthday, and Valentine's Day, when he's caught a 'prize' trout, when Newcastle United win match to celebrate, when Newcastle lose match to commiserate,  when he's been on time for work,(I nearly gave in on that one) because it's been a nice Tuesday.
"Won't it need chilling?"
"It's been in fridge since this afternoon." I say smugly.
"That's marvellous," says The Husband deciding on which tie to wear, "but for goodness sake hurry up or we'll never get there. That must be at least the ninth or tenth outfit you've  tried on (actually 17th but had better not say). "Then it will be "which earrings go best?" and there's another half an hour and we haven't even started on shoes or handbags."
"Well," I say putting on huffy/bossy tone, "to save time, as you're so efficient, do you think you could take bottle of champagne off shelf in the fridge and put in the box it came in. I had to take it out as box too big for fridge but it's very fancy box, with swirly art nouveau designs on it,  so put bottle back in to make it look smart."
"Yes, yes," says The Husband knotting tie, "I think I can manage that."
Friends are very delighted with gift and rush to get out swanky crystal glasses and ice bucket, while other two guests say "ooh how lovely" and "what a treat."  As champagne is one of my own favourite's, there's great sense of anticipation as they open box and I feel mouth watering as they remove bottle.
"What the f@*k?" Charlie says grinning, as he produces my bottle of £3.50 Co-op Cava which The Husband has removed from inside door of fridge, next to milk.  Worse still, it's only half full after last night's little tipple, with my blue plastic stopper in top. Feel surface of my face reach 200 degrees, grind teeth, think about running to pond in garden and throwing self in, decide better to throw The Husband in, followed by Cava bottle.
"Can't believe it,"  says The Husband, as I give him what he calls my 'Medusa look' "Nessie's managed to outwit me again."

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Where I think about procrastinating but decide to do it later

When Helen interviewed me for the newspaper article in Hexham Courant a couple of weeks ago, she asked me how disciplined I was about writing.
 "Do you do so many words every day, or write for a certain period of time," she asked with the  optimism of some one who obviously doesn't know me. Short answer is 'No.' Longer answer is I am very easily side tracked and as an example have decided to write a  list of favourite diversions from writing, which says it all really.....

1.Research for novel in Himalaya's in India. Start well with study of terrain, flora, fauna and live's of local people ... rapidly get side tracked into reviewing 5 star hotels in area choosing which suite I want, then buy souvenirs such as Pashmina's, rubies, snake in basket (with "teach yourself flute in a week" DVD) adopt a baby elephant in sanctuary then complete 20 year standing order with bank for its upkeep, hide evidence of all of the above from The Husband.
2. Monday buy loads of clothes and shoes on ebay
3. Thursday sell loads of clothes and shoes on ebay (that I bought on Monday, that don't fit).
3. Hourly, stuff handful's of crisps, crunchy nut clusters, or cake into mouths as reward for writing 3 lines and not deleting all
4. Bake so many cakes, muffins, pies and scones that Weight Watchers offer The Husband discounted lifetime membership
5. Make chutney, jam, marmalade and lemon curd, with gusto, stopping only when The Husband points out we have more jars than Tesco
5. Hoover, dust and iron everything including teatowels, then not only wash kitchen floor but scrub grout  in between tiles with toothbrush (this may also be called OCD)
6. Read Joules catalogue from cover to cover so many times I could do exam on contents
7. Tidy all kitchen cupboards and line with wall paper. Nest Tupperware boxes to make look neat. Then un-nest and stack, to see if it looks better. Then nest again as can't decide...
8. Look at  "Divine Homes in Italy" website and plan post 'best seller' residence
9. email, Facebook, twitter any body have vaguely met in past 25 years for a vital catch up chat.
10. Write lists of how to procrastinate, if can't be bothered leave until tomorrow or next day

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Where I'm deeply suspicious of any plants that eat sausages

Quick update on loads of earth shattering stuff.  First, amazed to find I have been blogging for a month now and as I didn't think I'd see the first week out, thank you to everyone who has been reading my old tosh. Second, as of last night there was still no news about adoption of girl parrot :( 
Also, after my careful cultivation and nurturing of crop of seedlings, the Budgie's hate their gourmet "budgie grass" and Monty thinks it's a long haired green predator and growls when I get near cage with tub.  It is now about 20cm tall, which is spooky when you think it was lying dormant in a packet of seeds until last Monday.  It's like having the alien growing on your coffee table, have you read the true story, " The day of the Triffids?" Am now frightened to turn my back on it like Venus fly catcher. I'm  deeply suspicious of any plant that eats sausages, aren't you? 
The Husband says if we'd planted "budgie grass" outside,  it would now be too tall for lawn mower to cope with and he'd have to use a scythe, like one used by Grim Reaper.  He reckons it would grow in Sahara it's so coarse.
"Have brilliant idea," I tell The Husband, "Can "budgie grass" not be cloned with wheat?  Surely then we could feed the entire planet in two weeks time."
"Hmmm," he says reading newspaper.
"Hah," I say, "I may not be good at maths but do you think I'm possible Nobel Prize winner in  biology."
"Hmmmm, hmm" he says without looking up, "I think cup of tea would be lovely. "

Back later as I have been putting off writing a list about how I procrastinate and should really make effort.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Where I have anxiety attack and need help from NASA

Aaaaargh, finally finished the maths test last night at about 8.30pm, thought about ringing someone I know  who works at NASA for help but The Husband said that would be cheating. Grrr. He had arrived home in middle of test and was getting increasingly grumpy because dinner delayed by my inability to answer questions.  As he never cooks( he says he will learn as soon as I start putting out bins, washing cars and mowing lawn) he consoled himself with a mountain of buttered toast and kept asking "how many more left to do now?" Getting crosser when no progress being made.
It was becoming clear the that job entails not only answering the phone but selling products and also giving advice to customers.The last few questions were increasingly difficult (although in fairness, that could have  been the second G&T in half an hour and starvation addling what's left of brain). Hmmm, it all sounded so easy when I was given application at  Job Centre Seminar, wonder how Dazza the fork lift truck driver and James the graduate are fairing with theirs.
"Oh dear."
"What now?" said The Husband through mouthful of crumbs.
"They've given me lots of baffling info about various payment programmes and I have to work out best deal for customer."
"Can't be that difficult," he said.
I had anxiety attack, imagined self back in old Richard Tator's maths class at high school (his nick name was Dick for a number of reasons I won't go into, but I will say it was not because he was clever).
The page began to swim and the next question began to blur.
"For goodness sake," said The Husband picking up calculator, "read it out."
Silver programme is 20% per month off, ...blah blah (I feel my mind wandering) divided by the number of people who have fallen into coma while doing test, multiplied by 10% of the number of applicants who don't give a monkey's, added to the square route of the whole...
"Better still," he said looking at me strangely, "put the kettle on and give your friend a ring."

Monday, 21 February 2011

Where I do maths test and find out I'm thick as well as neurotic

Am having anxiety attack. Thought I would take a quick break and update you on my progress at second part of job application, first part, completed last week was about personality.  Things are not going according to plan. When they read my answers to Part 1 they probably thought I was neurotic psycho. After this test they will now think I am thick, neurotic psycho.
Part 2 is tricky maths test with 100 questions, which have to be answered as quickly as possible. Although calculator can be used for speed, I have to re-read each questions about 7-8 times and am only up to question 5 after one and a half  hours. I bet your'e thinking "there she goes again, making it sound more difficult than it is," well then, clever clogs, see how you fare.

Question 5
Your supervisor has called to congratulate you on being 25% up on your call ratio from last month,  You surprise her by telling her you are actually 10% over that 25% already.   She is most impressed and says if you can add on another 12.5% there will be awesome bonus.  If original amount of calls was 126 how many will you need to do this month in order to secure awesome bonus if you're actually up another 8% on top of that?

Got to go only another 98, 92,  Hmmmm, 94 questions to answer...

Where my parrot wears furry underpants and I apply for job

The owners of girl parrot, a lovely young couple, came to visit yesterday. Unfortunately they did not bring her with them but instead brought lots of photographs of her and she's very cute.  They wanted to meet Monty to see if he would make handsome and well mannered mate and The husband and myself  good adoptive parents. Felt like arranged marriage, with dowry of cuttlefish, peanuts and dried banana slices. Problem is, Monty is not exactly handsome at the moment, as he has been pulling his feathers out. I came down one morning to find he had naked chest and there was a pile of feathers under perch.  He had left a small patch of fluffy down at bottom of his tummy and looked as if he was wearing furry underpants and a sporran. Chest has now grown back in but is sparse and tufty, so he looks more like road kill. Not very promising in the good looks department but maybe she'll be wooed by his charm and repartee. Perhaps sensing the occasion, even the budgies were on best behaviour and not trying to kill each other in their water dish. Monty, who usually never shut's up all day, did not utter a peep until the couple were leaving, when he squawked a rather too enthusiastic 'goodbye.' Don't know whether we made good impression but can only wait until later in the week for news somewhat like job interview.

Talking of which, I'll be back later to tell you about part 2 of job application for "Aspirational".  Not very optimistic after last week's fiasco with part 1, (Bee and myself still debating answers to that questionnaire) this couldn't be any worse. 
Could it?

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Where I was as shocked as if I'd seen our Vicar in Anne Summers

We are waiting anxiously to meet owners of girl parrot so have five minutes to tell you what I've been up to.
Just between you and me, I went shopping yesterday as I wanted Tupperware box to put cake in for children to take away. Yes, I know what your'e thinking, you can't believe I used the words "want" and "Tupperware" in same sentence, me neither. I blame it on my age, think it's involuntary symptom, same as hot flushes, rogue whiskers and bad temper (not me obviously, how many times do I have to tell you?).
Bee and me have made a pact to grow old dis-gracefully and shoot each other if we turn into grumpy old ladies (more of this later)  so dare not tell her of purchase, as she will think I am  turning into Senior Stepford wife and reach for shotgun.
More  worryingly,  I made pilgrimage to Poundland to make thrifty purchase of  aforementioned box with Job Seekers Allowance. Even worse, I got excited when I found one with day-glo orange top. Not exactly Cath Kidston but what do you want for £1? Other 'must have's' in store yesterday,  included a wine glass that lights up. "Good idea, probably looks like a beacon of hope on top of the coffee table when you're lying indisposed on carpet" said The Husband. They also has battery operated, rapping penguin (I admit, I was tempted), and ABBA blue iridescent eye shadow (sneaked into basket did, not tell The Husband and thought if discovered at cash register, I could deny all knowledge).
Astonished to find we Poundland customers are apparently a well travelled lot. Rummaging through the laden book shelves at back of shop, I came across such titles as  "Your Villa in Tuscany," "Shopping Guide to Paris" and  "Road Maps of Provence."
They even had some marvellous bedtime reading for your Grand Tour of Europe. Since joining the ranks of the unemployed has seriously curtailed my book buying, I was marvelling at bargains such as "Biography of Louis de Bernieres," "QI Annual with Stephen Fry" and "Coffee with Mozart."  when I came across  the hardback version of "Little Stranger" by one of my heroes, Sarah Waters.
"I can't believe it," I said outraged, to The Husband, "Why in Poundland? Her books are normally only seen in revered book shops, it's a disgrace!"
Husband rolled eyes,"yes, yes, I get the idea, can we go for coffee now?"
"I'm shocked, it's like... like... seeing our Vicar in Anne Summers." I said stamping foot."what hope is there for rest of us unpublished writers."
"Yes, but do you want blasted book?" Husband said, getting exasperated.
While I continued rant, husband had thrown book in basket and was at already at cash register and sales assistant was putting our purchases into carrier bag. One Tupperware box, a brilliant book and set of mini screwdrivers to fix arm on reading glasses. "Blue ABBA eyeshadow," The Husband said raising eyebrows,
"Must have fallen of rack," I said, taking it out of basket.
"Oh, look at this, it's great, I'm definitely going to get one of these for myself,"  Sales assistant said as he put the light up wine glass  into our bag. The Husband's not mine. Honestly.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Where I consider training my parrot to steal toupes

Quick update, as going out with The Husband 
Unfortunately, absolutely no success with finding parrot tail wig for Monty, before Sunday's birdie blind date. However I did tap into a veritable gold mine of Parrot toupe jokes and sketches. They include gems such as parrot creeping along back of sofa and stealing hairpiece from unsuspecting victim who is in amorous embrace with lady friend and another where parrot  shouts "where did you get that, mate, Axminster carpets?"  Although this wasn't exactly what I had in mind, if budding romance fails, maybe he has a promising career on the stage. Come to think of it. he'd also make a very good wedding singer as his rendition of  "You're just to good to be true," with plenty of beak quivering vibrato on the word 'true,' takes some beating.
Hmmmm, maybe we could work together if I don't get the job with 'Aspirational,' that I applied for earlier this week... he's a bit of Prima Donna already, won't eat his grapes unless I peel them and take the seeds out, demands to be blow dried  when he's had a shower, perfect luvvie material, I'd say.

Also, Budgie grass now 5cm high. It grows so fast you can hear it squeaking, it's a bit spooky. When I looked at it on Thursday morning,  there was a sprinkling of sparse short yellow shoots. By mid afternoon it was, dense, green and 2cm higher. If you run your hand over surface it feels like hedgehog, would probably grow on surface of moon. Hmmmm maybe that's where it came from in first place, gives new meaning to astro turf....  Anyway, can't wait to see what  Linus and Ramone make of their new gourmet salad. Will give to them later as Linus is always cross in mornings (somewhat like The Husband)  and goes for my veins when I put my hand in cage to bring breakfast. (Full English for Linus, croissants and jam for Ramone).

Friday, 18 February 2011

Where I do psychological test for job and get 'paralysis by analysis'

"Did first part of job application on line last night," I tell Bee, on the phone, this morning.
"I had to complete something called "match assessment." I say.
"Errm, is that something to do with football?" Says Bee, as her brain does not crank into action and eyes do not open until second cup of coffee of the day.
"I'm applying to 'Aspirations' to to answer 'phones for sales company, remember? Part time working from home, while I write novel?"
"Ahh, yes," she says as coffee does its work and grey cells spring back to life.
She should know what I'm rabbiting  on about. She is using me as guinea pig to see if I am successful as she would like part time work to fund her decadent artist lifestyle.
"You had to answer about 100 psychological questions," I say "so they can see which of their companies you would be most suited to answering phone for."
"Hmmm," she says slurping porridge, "What sort of questions?"
"Errm, things  like "do your see yourself as pushy?"
"Pushy?" She says.
"I had to tick a box and the choices were
1 Always
2 Often
3 Rarely
4 Never."
"So which one did you choose?"  Bee says,  "I mean if you tick "always pushy," is that a good or bad thing?"
"Exactly. And if I tick  "Never," will that mean I am a wimpy pushover that cannot stand up for self  or sell anything to anybody?"
"True," Bee says, warming to theme "So better if you say, "always pushy" and they'll think Ha ha, she sounds like she can kick ass, get job done, sell lots of stuff."
"Or on the other hand,"  I say "If I'm 'always pushy' maybe they'll be afraid I'll want better pay, longer  holidays, shorter hours, smarter desk and will  become shop steward..."
"Hmm," Bee says "that's true but..."
And so for over an hour we debate some of the 100 questions, including whether it will be seen as good or bad to be 'sympathetic,' 'interested in co workers,' and a 'team player.'
"Maybe the trick is to choose first answer that comes into your head?" Bee says finally.
"Who knows,I think I'm suffering from 'paralysis by analysis' and I've two more tests to do." I say glumly.  Maybe The Husband  is right, it is MI5 that I'm applying to for job. Grrr! There's only one thing to do under the circumstances. "I'm going to bake a very large Chocolate cake this morning." I tell Bee "and then eat it this afternoon."

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Where I wish I'd had a harpoon in my handbag

"It's so long since I saw you," I tell Bee huffily, (She's an artist and has been in her studio for days) "I may not even recognise you in a line up if the policeman said 'can you point out your best friend.'
I'm pouting because I had to go to the gym on my own again this morning.
"Mad Bab's was trying to get me to sign up for The Great North Run," I say  "and worse,  Dr. Perverse was there."  (It's actually Dr Purvis but stick around and you'll get the idea...and he's not a medical doctor but has PHD for studying soil or worm casts, or something like that.)
"No! Did he see you?"
"Not only that, he winked at me,"
"Eeeew, hope he didn't blow you a kiss as well." Bee says.
For your info' dear reader, as you haven't the pleasure of meeting him, Dr Perverse is not blessed with good looks, charm or style. Unfortunately, maybe as the result of the overindulgent mother he still lives with,  he believes he has all three by the bucket full. He usually wears trousers that have legs that finish well above the ankle, a fly about 30cm long  resulting in a waistband that fits snugly- just underneath his arm pits. They  are made out of  grey polyester and generate so much static they cling to his thighs and  rub together with so much friction they're in danger of sparking electricity. Top that with a short sleeved vest worn under a see through shirt, a tweed jacket that probably fit when he was at high school in 1955, a florid face and a brush over hair style and you've got the picture.  For reasons that shall remain a mystery until the ends of time, he thinks he's irresistibly attractive to women.
"Couldn't miss him, when I walked in he was on the floor mats, attempting a sit up."
"Tell me he wasn't wearing those cycling shorts again." Bee says.
"No, grey nylon top and matching  'tracky' bottoms this morning,"
"Nice," says Bee,"must have looked like a beached whale."
"Hmmm hmmm, just wish, I'd had a harpoon in my handbag."

Where I need to find a tail feather wig for a naked parrot, pronto

8.30 am
Ha ha. I have green shoots on budgie grass tub this morning, Alan Titchmarch eat your heart out.  (if you're thinking I've completely lost the plot, like The Husband does, read last Sunday's blog and all will become clear....sort of).
Also, as we may be adopting girl parrot this weekend, I need to get Monty's house looking spruce, coat of paint, few Laura Ashley scatter cushions along the perch, she'll be most impressed with his bachelor 'des res'.  There is one snag  though. He's no oil painting himself at the moment.  At best of times, Monty isn't one of those vividly coloured birds that have exotic plumage like Amazon parrot or a cute little feathered  headdress like Macaws. He is an African Grey which are well, strangely enough, grey. Under normal circumstances, however he does have a smart poppy red tail but he recently pulled it out and now has a rear end that looks like a baboon crossed with a plucked chicken. Also as he has no 'rudder,' he cannot steer very well and crashes when coming into land, so he won't be able to impress his prospective date with his aviation skills. So far the £400 spent on vet bills has not shed any light on problem other than it is a psychological, maybe to do with house move or boredom. Vet suggested that he may need a 'pet psychiatrist' to stop him plucking, he says it can be very effective. Apparently in America, a Jack Russell that underwent treatment a month ago has now quit smoking, booze and cocaine. Meanwhile, wonder if there's such a thing as a tail feather wig, with only three days to go, had better check on line....pronto.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Where in order to buy purple crocodile handbag I need a part time job

Have decided the chances of being published are like winning lottery. No not true.  Much less than winning lottery. So meanwhile I think I will apply for job with company called 'Aspirational.' Three of us picked up the info' pack  at the Job Centre Seminar last week and I wonder how Dazza the fork lift truck driver and the James the unemployed graduate are doing with their applications.  It would seem that I could work from home, answering the telephone part time for a number of companies and get paid (yippee, money = purple crocodile handbag) while penning novel.  It sounds absolutely mah-vellous. Or too good to be true according to The Husband.
"It says you have to pay for your own headset, a security check(?), a dedicated phone line and some other bits and pieces." I tell him
"So let me get this right," husband  says, repeating list in Monty like manner, "you buy your own listening device, install a dedicated line and have to undergo security checks to answer the phone in your own house? Sounds more like MI 5 to me."
"They give you the money back at the end of six weeks training programme."  I say reading the form.   "Apparently I have to do something called "match assessment" first, (whatever that may be).
"Well then apply, what's the worst thing that can happen?"
"I fail."
"To get job answering the telephone? You're having a laugh" he says.

Where I suggest girl friend for our Parrot and The Husband has apoplexy

Am taking a break from novel writing to tell you that things did not go quite as planned with husband and the birdie matchmaking.  "Oh, by the way" I said casually last night over dinner, "budgies may be going to Scotland."
"Brilliant!" says The Husband "no more yakking when crucial part of Silent Witness on TV. No more hoovering every five minutes."
"Yes but  budgies are Monty's friends," I argue (Monty calls them 'the boys' patiently tries to teach them English). "Maybe we should  get him a girl friend?"
"What!" The Husband says in very shocked tone usually heard when phone bill comes, "are you mad. Monty's cage already takes up 65% of room, add budgies and we're up to about 70%."  (We are in rather compact rented house at the moment).
"If we get another parrot cage in the living room,  we might as well move into cages and the birds can sit on the sofa and watch TV." He says throwing hands up crossly.
I have vision of fight over remote control, feathers flying and Linus (obese,vicious, green budgie) clutching it triumphantly in his beak, one foot on Monty's chest, pinning him to carpet.
I mention the girl parrot "She's up for adoption," I say "the couple who have her can't keep her because they're out all day,(at least  that's one good thing about me being unemployed writer, Monty has my company all day, although obviously not the same as having parrot girlfriend.) Also she's very cute blah, blah," I give Oscar winning sob story but The Husband's having none of it.
"Anyway," he says "they may not get along, you can't just put them together, they have to be properly introduced."
I have already thought of  that, envisage small candle lit table for two, 1/4 bottle of wine, chef's seeds de jour, peanut souffle... "What's a nice bird like you, doing in a cage like this?" Hee hee, I just crack myself up.

"Then there's the noise, the feathers," says The Husband, "absolutely not."
Phone rings, The Husband answers. "Ah yes," he says all charm, "you're the couple with the parrot...she sounds lovely.... this weekend, errm, well errm... yes lovely we'll look forward see you on Sunday."  He hangs up and gives me what I call 'The Look.'  He wags finger, "We're just going to see her, that's all."

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Where I dream of being Barbie and plan a birdie blind date

Hair dresser has dyed hair magic marker pink. No no, not mine, hers. She looks very pretty, in a Disney fairy sort of way (I would look like escapist from Rocky Horror Show).
"How is book, is it still going," she asks.
"Oh, it's still going," I say but do not add "straight onto the skip."
As always, visit to Salon will be  a compromise between what I want and what I can have. My hair is thin and mouse and every six weeks my magician of a hairdresser has to create illusion of it being blonde and thick.  Hmmmm, drift off while hair is being shampooed and have vision of self  as California Barbie, (or California Barbie's Mum. OK, OK, her Gran then, whose vision is this anyway?)  I'm swishing luxuriant waist length, golden blonde tresses, of the type you comb with a sea shell or plait and hang out of a tower. Lovely.
"Do you want conditioner?" Trainee asks ruining the moment.  I wake up and look in mirror. Aaargh! If you can imagine Hilary Clinton crossed with Miss Piggy your'e right on the ball, or you're sitting next to me.
"So what are we doing today?" Says hairdresser optimistically, trying to get comb through my hair. She manages to part it in the middle and attempts to comb it down at sides but it sticks out and looks like a thatched roof.
We agree on highlights, as I now have more dark root than blonde hair. Lots of bits of foil are applied all over head, dye is skilfully lashed on and I am put under heat lamp, which is  turned up to gas mark 10 'to help colour take.'
"I'll bring you some magazines and a cup of tea." She says.
Feeling a hot flush coming on, I want to say "I'd sooner have Factor 50, two litres of water and and sun glasses," but actually say "super."
I read back issues of 'Hello' as temperatures approach 1,000 degrees and face goes scarlet and glossy, like red delicious apple. Just about to expire when hand undoes foil and voice says "perfect, all done! You can come out now," like loopy chef talking to Sunday roast.
Somehow conversation turns to Monty and budgies.
"Budgies may be going to Scotland," I say "Daughters are getting new flat and will have room for their feathered boys."  I sip tea, sweating. "Problem is Monty will be lonely."
"Oh, well that's a coincidence. One of our stylists is looking to have her parrot adopted as she is out all day and has to leave it alone." Hairdresser says snipping away,  " I'll just give her a shout."
To cut long story to blog length, I'm amazed to find it is an African Grey, same species as Monty and better still it's a girl. Make a plan  to speak to The Husband as soon as possible about birdie blind date.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Where I plant Budgie Cafe and there's talk of Colliseum and Christmas Cactus

Gosh! Can hardly contain my excitement. This morning I have planted the seeds we bought yesterday, watered them in their dinky tubs and  have placed them on a sunny window sill (well sunny for winter, in Northumberland obviously). Allegedly, according to label, by Friday we should have a nice crop of  "Budgie Grass" or a  "Budgie Cafe."  I will keep you posted on progress of my foray into horticulture but I'm encouraged by picture on tub which shows luxuriant grass, sprouting in abundance of juicy shoots, with Budgies having a slap up feast.
Husband not very optimistic as he says I am to house plants, what Colliseum was to Christians.
OK, so I didn't do to well with the Christmas Cactus.
"How was I supposed to know it needed water?" I told The Husband, "they live in desert after all, where there was no rain when I was at school," (although  maybe different  now with climate change.) The Husband says our house plants are in worse  condition than the Rubber plants in the Estate Agents window but that cannot be true as I never feed our plants left over coffee.
I must try and write new chapter of book but as usual have been up in night rewriting third chapter as have now changed it to a dialogue between two characters. Will never get any longer at this rate.
Also, need to finish reading all the information in the application pack I got at Job Centre seminar on Friday. If I am having difficulty sleeping again tonight, must remember to get it out, that ought to do the trick in no time.  Seems odd to me but it looks as if I have to spend quite a bit of my own dosh  for "initial investment" to start with. Hmmmm, maybe I am not reading it properly, as most people I have spoken to on Job Seekers Allowance do not have any spare dosh, so must have another look when I get back from hairdressers.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Where we buy budgie grass and learn of 'Bluey's' demise

Sorry I had to dash earlier but had Mah-vellous time at market.  On one stall we saw two  little tubs with pictures of budgies on them and on closer inspection the label read "budgie grass," which is slightly unusual on number of levels especially  as the stall  was selling electric guitars.
Guitar man, who sees me looking at tubs, says," I used to have budgie and these were his,  you just add water to tub and then in 4-5 days you have grass, sort of like salad for budgies."
"Oh" I say, "that's lovely. Our budgies, Linus (green, obese, vicious ) and Ramone (pretty, blue, naive) will love that." (I am easiest person in world to sell anything to, just don't get The Husband started on that).
Husband rolls eyes, "budgie grass," he mutters under breath,  getting out wallet,  "I'll buy them the seed but they can mow their own bloody lawn."
"What was your budgie's name?" I ask man as he puts tubs in bag.
"Bluey," he says handing back our change and bag with seed in.
"What happened to him? "
"He died." He says shaking head sadly.
"Ahhhhh," Ella and me say, "that's sad."
"Yeah it was,  I was devastated, he was a lovely boy," he says wiping away a tear. "Funny how you get so attached to a little bird."
"Ahhhh,"  we say again.
"Fat, he was, would eat anything," he adds smiling
We nod.
"Yip, anything except that blasted budgie grass, he hated the stuff."

Where ex husband and wife No 5 make state visit from Australia this week

Dashing out to Sunday market with daughter Ella and The Husband, who is ready to go and will be revving car on driveway any minute. But for quick update, as there's been so much going on this week with fight breaking out at job centre, finding another white hair in eyebrows and fear of swine flu and pneumonia, I forgot to tell you about state visit of ex husband and wife number 5 from Australia. (You may remember I was no 3)  They've been  to see my children and stepchildren who say No 5  is actually v. nice and not at all like No 4, who they fondly refer to as "The Pyshco Witch from Hell."  She made Snow White's step mother look cosy and had been married twice before nuptials to my ex, so Ladbroke's would probably not have given great odds on them living happily ever after. Any way, all was going surprisingly swimmingly with visit until we asked ex husband to take birthday cake and presents from myself and children for my step daughter's birthday, yesterday in Manchester.
Somewhere along the way he lost them. Yes dear reader, lost the entire bag full.  So if you find a nice fruit cake with silver balls and stars (cut out of fondant icing with my new cutters) and purple and red iridescent nail varnish, anywhere along the M6 from Scotland to Manchester, then do let me know. Oh, oh, hear revving and tooting back later.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Where Bee says I need to look like I'm "on the bones of my arse," for Job Centre

Because I lead such an exciting life, I know you'll be absolutely desperate to find out what happened at the  Job Centre yesterday afternoon, at the "Return to Work Seminar."
"Don't know what to wear," I complained to Bee,  "I was thinking of a combat helmet and  flak jacket after Wednesday's fracas in the Job Centre car park."
"Well don't wear anything too smart," she says,  "you need to look like you're on the bones of your arse.  I know what you're like, you can't go down there trying to look like a film star, so if you've got your Gucci sunglasses on the top  of your head, get them off."
I do as I'm told, huffily as it's sunny outside. Well, it might be, later on. (How does she know I'm wearing them, for goodness sake, we're talking on the phone?)  And so I wear what my friend Kitty calls the uniform of the middle class unemployed, Gap chinos, Boden cardi and lofa's. Half an hour later I find myself ensconced with a dozen other Job Seekers, in a darkened room, being lectured about getting a job.  At the end of a scintillating forty five minutes, during which six of the audience are texting merrily away, one man has a sausage roll and another next to me catches up on his sleep, Mrs Wolf, our lecturer, tells us about a few exciting opportunities that have just arisen . When she asks  "is there anyone here who would like to work from home," three of us put our hands up and stay behind for a minute or two at the end, so Mrs Wolf  can tell us about a wonderful opportunity called "Aspire."
"Successful applicants will be trained to answer a phone from their home, to take orders for large retail companies." She says. "It's very flexible, you can work as many hours as you like."
Hurrah, hurrah! Sounds brilliant to me, I can finish writing my book, take a few orders and make money at same time!
Man in front row, who told me he is unemployed fork lift truck driver, is not so impressed (or naive) as I am and says suspiciously.
"So let's get this reet pet. Yer gonna pay is five hundred quid to sit at home on me arse and ansa the phone for some posh shops? A divven't even have to gan oot of the house, or any shit' like that?"
"Err, not quite, Dazza," says Mrs Wolf,  but I'll give you the application pack and you can see what you think.  We troop out, I clutch my info and hurry home to read up on my marvellous new career. Can't wait to tell The Husband.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Where as there's no sign of me having swine flu or pneumonia, I will have to go to gyma

As no sign of swine flu or pneumonia yet, after yesterday's shopping trip, haven't got an excuse for not going to gym.  Bee still painting away (allegedly) but think she is more likely onto second  Gin of the day and smoking fags in her studio. Mad Bab's might be working out this morning, feel like lamb going to slaughter. (sorry about cliché but fear addles my brain). Things might get so desperate I may have to watch Jeremy  Vile  Kyle to take mind off tedium of treadmill.

Pass mighty Madge at gym lifting the equivalent of my body weight with her tiny toned arms that are like knots in string.I start on abserciser.  (don't know if that's the correct spelling, as 'spell check' crashed as if having a heart attack when I it asked for advice)  but anyway, it's that frame thing that's supposed to give you a six pack like Madge if you lie on the floor and then do half sit up's.  After 20 repetitions I'm completely knackered but as am lying on mat on floor, think of taking a sly nap, dream about cake, while looking as if doing stretches.
"That's going to do you no good at all," says Bab's appearing on mat beside me spoiling my reverie, you need to do proper sit ups, get your knees up to your elbows."  She demonstrates and I think how I'll need to do about 1,000 to look like Madge. Plus have an operation to remove half of my hips, obviously.
"What about joining me swimming after this ," she says enthusiastically, "you should come with me and train to swim across Windermere this Summer."
"Windermere? You mean the lake? I say.
"Yes, of course the lake." Bab says as if she'e dealing with an idiot
"But there's a really nice ferry that goes from side to side..." I say.
"No, no, you get sponsored for charity, it's only a mile."
Only a mile! I have vision of paramedics hauling my goose fat covered body out of lake, trying to revive me, before helicopter ambulance whisks me off to Lakeland infirmary.

"Much as I'd love to," I say in  most sincere voice "I have a morbid fear of water," which is truth, when Bab's is part of the equation.
"Oh. and look at the time, really must go, I have an appointment."
"Hairdresser? Nails?"
"No Job Centre, Back to work Seminar."  I say with some trepidation, after Wednesday's Ruckus.
Bab's raises sceptical eyebrow, "Don't suppose Bee would like to do swim?"
"Oh I'm sure she'd be delighted she's got all her badges you'll have to ask her next time you see her."
(I can feel my nose growing like Pinocchio's, hee hee naughty I know...but as Bee is not likely to come out of house until Autumn, I should be OK.)

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Where I need retail therapy for post traumatic stress of job centre fight

My mother's worried about me following my experience at the job centre yesterday.
"You need a change of scenery, something uplifting and frivolous will do you good, " she says enthusiastically, "and your Dad agree's with me," which she always adds, for extra clout.
She's probably right, when you get excited about a trip to Aldi, you know you need to get out more.
And so this morning, we find ourselves in the cosmetic hall of a large department store, where I am looking for a new lipstick to replace a one I like.
"Heavens that's an old one" immaculate Cosmetic lady, on exclusive French make up counter says, peering at my lipstick.
"I'm amazed the case is in such good condition for its age," she says in wonder, showing it to Cosmetic lady No 2 on same counter,  who is immaculate clone of No1.
"Look!" says No2 "you can still see number and colour on bottom," they examine it as if they've just found it on an archaeological dig.
"Definitely before my time." Cosmetic lady No 2 says.
"Nope, we definitely don't have "Passion in Paris" any more,  it's discontinued," No 1 says,  "we might be able to find you something similar though..."
"How about this one?" No 2 says rifling through the vast display of testers. "I think it's close to your original."  "Let's put some on you and see how it looks." says No 1.
"That's nice," Mum says, "good to make sure.'
"Definitely!"  I think as lipstick costs about same as three dresses, a coat, two pairs of shoes and handbag in Primark, with change to get pasty in Greg's opposite. However, I have voucher from Christmas which will just cover lipstick, so I don't feel quite as guilty.
Cosmetic lady No 1 sits me in chair, whips off my lipstick  and then stands very close to me so she carefully begins to apply new colour,
"Warm in here,"  I say wishing I hadn't worn tweed jacket, Fair Isle sweater and a flannel shirt (but it looked good on model in Joules catalogue.)
"Yes I suppose it is hot in here, but I keep going hot and cold," No 1 says, coughing chestily, "excuse me," she pauses for a second "but it's my first day back to work."
"Have you been on holiday?" Mum asks.
(I can't talk because Cosmetic lady is now concentrating on filling in my lips and  her nose is just about touching mine.)
"No,  I've  been off ill."
"Oh dear," Mum says.
"I had to come back a bit earlier than I should, we're short staffed. I don't feel a hundred percent but what can you do?" she says, still filling in.
"All better now though, are you?"
"Well it may take a while, wasn't as if  I've just had a cold, you know."
"Oh, haven't you?" Mum says.
"Nooooo, I had swine flu just before Christmas, nearly killed me it did."
"Gosh," Mum says, "over a month, that's a long time to be off work even with swine flu."
"No, no," Cosmetic lady says getting right up to my face, so she can touch in the corner's of my mouth, "I wasn't off all that time with the swine flu..."
"Oh, that's good," Mum says brightening.
" was the pneumonia that finally did me in, I was in intensive care for nearly a week."
She coughs again, hands me the mirror. "D'you want to see the colour? It's really nice on you."

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Where I wonder if I may have led a sheltered life...

While waiting in line at the job centre this afternoon, a man about my age, who has lost his job fitting kitchens, chats to me about the newspaper story of the old lady, who foiled a raid on a jewellery shop, by handbagging the robbers.
"Amazing old girl," he says, shaking his head in admiration, "even though they had a sledge hammer, she still  tackled them, knocked one off his motor bike as he was making a getaway."
Suddenly it becomes noisy as the door opens and a group of about six  'twenty something's' make a loud entrance,  pushing a baby in a buggy.  One boy asks for forms to fill in for housing benefits, while a couple kiss passionately. The baby, that looks well cared for, cries and a dark haired girl tries to console it. A blonde girl  fidgets with her mobile and as she turns to help with the baby, I notice she has a black eye and bruises on her cheek. She is talking agitatedly to the rest of the group,  "If he comes down here, I'll punch him in the face," she says standing by the door so she can finish her cigarette and they all nod.  Her mobile phone rings.
"Don't you dare come down here you b*****d," Black Eyed Girl yells, "just stay out of me shine!"  (is that out of my way? face? I wonder).
Everybody is standing still, trying not to stare. George who is on reception, tries to quiet them down and they shuffle outside for a smoke. Another man, who is trying to read through the list of jobs posted on the board, shakes his head and raises an eyebrow at me. A young man with a lip piercing, waiting with me to 'sign on' shrugs,  and looks nervously at his nails.
Seconds later, BEG returns with her friend, she is clearly agitated, her mobile is not working. She picks up the Freephone that we Job Seeker's can be use to call potential employers or social services and begins to tell whoever is on the other end to come quickly.
"He's threatenin' to kill me, she says beginning to cry, "he's coming down here now, you've got to do something! He's dragged me all over the house this morning she starts sobbing you better get here quick."
In hushed tones those of us waiting in line decide she has called the police. A strange calm descends and I get called to see my advisor.
I have only just sat down when the door opens and a man with a head wound and blood all over his face staggers in reeking of booze. Yelling incoherently he lurches at BEG who is clearly terrified. All those in earshot don't know what to do.  Staff at desk stop what they are doing as he threatens to kill her when she comes out. BEG keeps putting her hand up screaming increasingly hysterically, "get out of me shine, get out of me shine!"   A member of staff decides to call police and the man bounces off the door before going outside, where he half  totters, half falls down the steps.  Hearing shouts from outside we look out of the window where a huge man, wearing a cap sleeved tee shirt,  which reveals tattooed Popeye arms,  is squaring up to the the bald man. They hurl abuse at each other, a punch is thrown by bald man and a vicious brawl ensues.

"He deserves every bit of it," Black Eyed Girl says sobbing hysterically, "he did this to me this morning," she points to her face. "Burst me eye," We realise that when we thought  that BEG was calling police she was actually calling her brother. We watch mesmerised with horror as street justice is handed out. No one dares to leave. They clearly don't want the police involved although they are on their way.
"Let them get on with it," BEG says. She wants to go out and intervene but we talk her out of it.
The man with the lip piercing next to me is quivering. "I'll miss me bus home," he says, "I just need to sign on."
The fight is now at top of car park and I'm desperate to go too.
"Will you girls be OK?" I ask. Looking at them standing cowering in doorway, they only look a year or two older than my daughters.
They shrug "think so, yeah thanks for askin'."
The bald man is now staggering up the middle of the road completely disorientated, face covered in blood. No one dares approach him until the police arrive.  Tattoo man is walking away still yelling. Pedestrians look on helplessly and traffic is at standstill. As I drive away in state of shock,  I think about the OAP hand bagging the robbers, know I would never have the nerve, I realise I have never seen this sort of violence close up. To the BEG and her friend it is a fact of life. I try not to think about what might have happened if either man had been armed.  This is not inner city clubland at midnight, it is three in the afternoon outside the local Job Centre, in my historic market town.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Where I discover another white hair lurking in eyebrows

Aaaargh! Look in magnifying mirror this morning and have discovered another white hair in eyebrows.  Bee always says just to pluck them out.  Examine more closely and decide at this rate I will have no eyebrows left. As I'm pale to begin with (too many hours spent indoors typing according to The Husband) I will probably look completely featureless, like shocked boiled egg. Ring my mother who suggests drawing them in with an eyebrow pencil but with just a few strokes, look astonishingly like Mortisha Adams. So then have brilliant idea  for 'natural look' and decide to use use mascara brush to comb them through so they match eyelashes.   Thirty seconds later,  I now have a pair of hairy caterpillars mating on top of face. Husband who is getting out of shower is helpful as ever.
"Heh heh, they're like those stick on moustaches you get for fancy dress -and by the way isn't that the door bell?  he says loofa-ing  himself  with towel, "don't be ridiculous dear, I can't answer it, I'm wet."

I only go because am expecting delivery of a fab dress from ebay.

"Good article on you in Friday's paper," Postman Fred says, looking at my brows suspiciously, "I didn't know you were writing a novel, my what an exciting life,"  he says handing me the parcel   "better let you get back to it!"   
I stomp back upstairs throw parcel on bed as it is for neighbours and not ebay dress.
"Oh no I can't believe it!"
"What now?" says The Husband, pulling on socks, getting exasperated.
"I have now found a dark whisker on chin.  Why is it there and not in eyebrows?"  I say looking in mirror again, "Oh, my god is it start of a beard?"
The Husband says sadly much as he would love to stay and discuss further, he must tear himself away and get to work.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Where I actually manage to get first draft of Pearls & Suitcase chapter 1 finished

Hurrah, Hurrah! Although I am creaking like the bow of a old sailing ship, as I have been typing for six hours and am now trying to stand up, I have good news. I have just finished the first draft of chapter one/two of my epic The Pearls & the Suitcase.  Inspired by Sophie Hannah's talk on Friday evening at the local "Crime and Cake" event, I have locked myself away today and managed to get some work done, hence the lateness of this blog.  I even have a blister on finger tip to prove my manic efforts on the keyboard. Obviously I have had to bribe Monty and the budgies for their silence with food, mostly apple pieces and nuts and so by the time the book is finished they will be enormous - Monty may even feed a family of five with enough stuffing... you know I'm just kidding, I love my boys (most of the time) but if you know of a birdie weight watchers be sure to drop me a line.  In the meantime if you feel like reading the opening, please click onto My Utterly Marvellous Website on the link to the left. or click on this link
If you want to leave comments I would be delighted, as I need all the help I can get. Happy reading!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Where I wonder if honesty is absolutely, always the best policy...

You may remember last weekend I had to go up Hadrian's Wall in Arctic conditions with the husband so Ria saves me from  any sort of outdoor activity, as she is home for a couple of days from Uni in Scotland.  Besides weather is still blowing a gale and so yesterday we went on mission to buy shoes, in a rather smart shop, where we'd heard fantastic sale was in progress. Shop was indeed heaving with lots of well dressed ladies looking for a bargain.
"Wow! They're gorgeous mum, you've got to try them on," Ria says, pointing out a pair of  purple snakeskin peep toes with stratospherically high heels.
"Mmmm, maybe now I'm not working, I should really get something more sensible like these," I say picking up a brown crocodile court shoe and thinking of how I will hide evidence from The Husband who says we may have to build extension on house to make room for my shoes and handbags.
"Sensible?  You?  Hah!" Ria says, laughing, "what about the orange wedge ones with the silk flowers that you bought in that market in France..."
"They were summery and went perfectly with my sun dress," I protest. 
"...and what about the green Lulu Guinness sandals with the see through heels and the pink fifties platforms with the diamante corsages," she says cataloguing my silliest shoes with scary accuracy.
Meanwhile a woman sitting opposite who is wearing a leopard skin coat, beats us to it and tries on the purple snakeskin.
"See," Ria says, folding her arms "too late, they're gone now Mum and they were an absolute bargain."
"They are indeed and unfortunately that's the only pair left," sales lady says, adding fuel to the fire "but if you hang on a second you never know, they may not be any good."
We hold our breath.
 Leopard skin lady finally prises them off. "They're too small," she says.
"Would you like to try them?" Sales lady says, winking as she passes them to me.  Nodding at my woolly boot socks she says  "and here's a pair of knee highs, they might look better with the peep toes." 
"Knee highs for you too?" she says, turning back to leopard skin lady who is about to try a black stiletto sandal.
"No thanks, leopard skin lady says, "I have a fairly serious foot infection which is very contagious, so I'll just  keep my own socks on."
There was a collective intake of breath, it had gone so quiet I think I might have gone deaf and judging by the look on her face, I fully expected the sales lady's body to hit the carpet any second. We look at the purple shoe dangling from its strap in my hand and  Ria says "You know Mum, now I come to think of it, don't you have something almost the same at home?"

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Where The Husband and my umbrella go into orbit...

Sophie Hannah was marvellous last night and I left a bigger fan than when I got to her reading.  Getting there however was a nightmare and The Husband and myself were nearly divorced as we tried to locate the village hall in the darkness and torrential rain.
"Look over there," I said, on our third lap of the village green.
"I can't look," husband said getting more exasperated, "I'm trying to drive on a narrow road, in the dark, in the rain, in case you didn't notice."
"But it's lit up, looks like a hall". He screeched to a halt.
It turned out to be totally inaccessible by road and as we were already late we abandoned the car on the green and stumbled up an unlit path, sloshing through hidden puddles that filled our shoes.
Husband was muttering about being soaked and I got a glimpse of myself in the glass in the hall doors.
"Look at my hair," I wailed, "it's  matted to my head,  I look  like I've been in an oil spill."
"Shhh, we'll sneak in at back,"  he said, getting crosser by the second,  as he struggled to pull the door open with rain dripping down his collar. He gave me one of his stern looks and said  "and for goodness sake when we get in there, try not to knock any thing over or bump into anything."
(Don't tell him this, but between you and me, he may have a point, as I am probably the most accident prone person on the planet).
"What is wrong with this blasted door?" he said pulling at the handle again, "maybe it's locked."
"Errm..."  I was just wondering if it might be a good time to point out the 'push to open sign' on the door but  a gust of wind caught my umbrella, snapping it completely inside out. Taken by surprise, I let it go and it took off at a ripping pace along the lane with me in hot pursuit,  before going into orbit. It was last seen headed for the pub roof (so if any one finds a purple umbrella with pink dots in it you know where its come from).
And so finally, we open door to hall expecting to creep discreetly into back row, only to find it set out with tables arranged in a 'horse shoe,' every eye upon us, in our bedraggled state.  Worse, every seat was taken as the audience tucked into tea and scones.  We sat at the side on two spare chairs kindly produced from the kitchen, and husband was even less amused to find that out of sixty people, he was one of only three men.

"Better be good cake." He said wringing out his scarf.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Where local newspaper tells of my "Novel life on the dole," and I go to "Crime and Cake"

"Ha ha," husband says, bringing this week's edition of local newspaper into bedroom this morning with tea, "look who's in this week's Courant."
The meeting I had last week, where I rambled on about my life as a would be writer on Job Seekers Allowance, (and had photo's taken in windswept park across the road afterwards) has been miraculously turned in to a well crafted newspaper article, thanks to journalist Helen.
Photo however, as I feared is not good (not fault of photographer, faulty subject).
"Oh. My. God. I look like I've been inflated by bicycle pump." I say getting grumpier than I usually am at eight in morning.
Husband makes it ten times worse by saying helpful things like "camera does not lie"  and "I don't know why you're complaining, it's a good likeness," and  "any way, stop being so vain it's not how you look that people are interested in, it's supposed to be about all that stuff you keep on typing."
Grrr! Make mental note to do extra time at at gym.

Hah, no sign of Bee at gym this morning. Trying to get her out of her house when she's painting is as hard as trying to separate a snail from its shell, it could be very traumatic, not to mention messy for all  concerned. Fortunately there's no sign of mad Bab's either so I am actually able to walk to car unaided when I leave gym an hour later.

Can't wait until tonight. One daughter is coming home for weekend and I will get scoop on visit of their father and wife number five from Australia. (I know It's naughty hee, hee). Also, we're going to "Crime and Cake" event  in local village hall where the wonderful author Sophie Hannah will be  talking about her new book,  "Lasting Damage."

"Gosh she's been published in 20 countries," I tell husband, "Five of her novels to date have become international best sellers and 'Point of Rescue' is being made into series for ITV."

"More important," says Husband, "there's tea and cake."

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Where I'm stunned by the wonders of ebay and a beanstalk

Email from ebay this morning-
"Congratulations! You are highest bidder for item: Vintage scented soaps from Spain, in original satin lined box, with Flamenco dancer design on lid."

It is accompanied by the helpful footnote which reads -
"Don't miss these related items"

Liverpool FC pewter key ring
Collection of 5 corkscrews (condition used, a little rust)
Barcelona FC imprinted lighter (brand new)
Small meth's burner, in metal case
Glass and lead propagator

Mmmm... is  it just me, or.....oh, never mind.

Had success with  writing this afternoon.  (Which means I actually did some). Instead of baking or reading Joules Spring Catalogue again from cover to cover (I could now do written test on contents, especially page 20 with the nice brown boots). Sometimes words just seem to sprout out of the keys and blossom into this beanstalk of a story. Husband says that's because I write like I talk. (What does he mean by that I wonder?) Anyway, I think I'll need a  chainsaw to prune story back into a neat topiary at some point but at the moment I'm just glad to go along with the growth. Writing anything is better than nothing at all I tell myself. At least you can edit rubbish. I think....

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Where I set goals for writing masterpiece (if the parrot and budgies ever shut up)

I am on best behaviour this morning and have been working on novel. After grim visit to Job Centre yesterday and  no prospects of any job on horizon, I have decided I must set goal of 500 words, or sheet of A4 a day. But it's a bit like the Bayeaux tapestry (although obviously not as pretty... or with as good pictures, or anything like that) but  I keep unpicking at one end while adding more at the other so it doesn't seem to get any longer. I'm making cup of tea when I hear budgies screeching as if cat is in garden or murder is being committed.  Rush in to find Monty, our African Grey parrot, perched on top of their cage, which must be like having King Kong sitting on your roof. In a perfect impression of my voice, he's squawking  "It's all right, It's all right," bobbing his head, which usually means he's pleased to see you.  Ramone (cute and naive blue budgie) is taken in and doesn't seem to mind his feathered neighbour dropping by but  Linus (obese and vicious green budgie) who doesn't speak a word of  English, is having none of it. In a show of birdie machismo he decides to see off intruder and flaps and screams. Disgusted,  Monty shouts "bad boy!" leaps back to his cage and sheds a pillow full of  feathers on my laptop. I dust off keys, have wheezing fit and make note to get Hoover out again. Hmmm, a glamorous life, this novelist business.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Where I ponder what Churchill, Shakespeare and Job Seeker's Allowance have in common?

a) Churchill
b) Shakespeare
c) Job Seeker's Allowance?

To be British you have to know about all of the above, according to Ruby Wax and so for those of you not intimately acquainted with the intricacies of option c) today I have the  pleasure, known to all Job Seeker's as 'signing on,' the ritual performed every two weeks by the swelling ranks of the British middle aged, middle class, unemployed. George who is manning reception at the Job Centre, greets me with  his usual cheery "hello" and I wait for an 'advisor.'

Depending on who I see, the process can go two ways.  If it is Good Looking Blonde, or any of the other women it is likely to be a quick affair.  GLB, who is same age as me but looks ten years younger, takes a quick look over my "search for work form,"  on which I am supposed to outline my quest for employment since my last visit. We have a quick chat and in the time it takes to photocopy my list,  we have covered our teenage children, cellulite, how much our roots need doing and Zhumba classes. Sorted in three minutes.
If it falls on the men and Kevin in particular, then it's possible that one of us could die from old age. As he's at least twenty five years younger than I am, it's not looking good for me.Today Kev goes through my ramblings with the same attention to detail given to a difficult post mortem on 'Silent Witness.' He dissects my form, picking out the actual job search (3%) from the 'fluff' I wrap it in every week (97%) with impressive forensic efficiency.
"You say you are working on a no-velle," he says  struggling with my handwriting "and have been doing some sort of 'writing course,'  but actually, what have you been doing to look for a job?"  He peers over the top of his glasses. I squirm in my seat as I did when I in front of our school headmaster who was admonishing me for not 'applying myself ' in Mathematics . "You must do these more tedious things," the head  said  gravely "if you want to get on in life."
 "Hah," I think smugly, "I was right. I have never actually been called upon to use a slide rule, algebra or  logarithms..... or wait... maybe he was right... and that's why I'm sitting here with  Kev?
"Errm, I... "
"You need to attend the back to work seminar next week," he says, filling out  an appointment card and thrusting it across the desk. "If you fail to attend- (You will be taken out and shot? I wonder) - your Job Seekers Allowance may be stopped." I can hardly contain my excitement.