Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Where I sign off Job Seeker's Allowance and write a Fairy Story

Hurrah, I have been very busy this week and have posted a new piece on my website today. It's called 'Fairy Story,' is  just for fun and is a modern day version of ... Hah! I wont' tell, maybe you can guess.  It has been a welcome change to write this and also the entry for the Short Story competition last week.  The theme for entries was 'Home Tomorrow' and it was only 500 words long.  The nice thing about writing a short piece is that it's completed relatively quickly and you can sit smugly looking at the finished article rather than the tangled web of words that makes up a novel.
I have also now have now signed off  and this is my last week on 'Job Seekers Allowance.' You are only allowed it for six months, unless you pass a means test. As both my regular Blog readers will know, I have not had much success on the employment front where I have been looking for part time job while I finish my novel. However in between writing the short pieces, I had set myself the task of finishing another two chapters of "The Pearls & The Suitcase" by the end of March.
This was further complicated last week when I got sidetracked into picking up the threads of  a novel I began writing last year.  Called 'The Hen Party' it's a story about how life changes forever, in just over one year for a group of friends in a village in Northumberland.
Problem is can't go between both as it will get confusing. OMG Dilemma!  I think I should try and finish 'The Pearls & The Suitcase,' as when I think of switching tracks, I feel a headache coming on. If any of my blog followers  have read my excerpts or short stories on the website, including the latest addition, I would be pleased to hear from you.
As from next week, I will be stepping up the writing of my novel,  hoping for Summer completion, at least of the first draft and also another short story.  I hope to write my  blog a couple of times  a week to let you know how my novel is progressing and of course any exciting details of my haphazard life, our continuing search for a new house and Monty's (our Parrot's) romance. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Where The Husband lights candles and sticks them in my ears

The husband is a poorly boy as he has a problem with his middle ear and has been feeling dizzy when he moves suddenly.
I've had the same thing myself and that strange heaving sensation induced a quick flashback to a trip I once made to Amsterdam, by Ferry in January.(If you're thinking of doing the same, my advice is don't).  It may be for the best that the details are a blur but I recall the room swirling madly as the contents leapt around as if in a centrifuge.
The doctor diagnosed a middle ear problem and prescribed anti-biotics but Bee suggested going to the local Hippy shop for an alternative treatment.  The shop smells of Patchouli and is bursting with crystals hanging on bits of string, things that look like spiders web's but are called dream catchers, tiny 'Zen' water features, wind chimes and Feng Shui books.
"Ah," said Sapphire Moon, the kaftan clad Lady who runs the shop, as I described the symptoms, "we have just the thing."
Her turbaned assistant nodded sagely, "You need some of the American Indian Hopi ear candles."
"Hah," I said, "what do you do with those light them and stick them in your ears?" I winked at Bee, thinking I was being terribly witty.
"Have you used them before? Sapphire Moon said surprised, "because that's exactly what you do with them."
Which is how I came to be lying on the living room carpet while The Husband lit one of the cigarette sized candles. "Are you sure about this?" He kept saying, "I'm sure this is a war crime in some countries."
You're supposed to do one at a time, which is just as well, as if I'd stuck one in each ear I wouldn't have been able to resist having a glance in the mirror to see if I looked like something from a wacky cartoon and would probably have passed out instantly.
"What's it supposed to do any way? Other than terrify the parrot?"
"Apparently the candles act like tiny chimneys and draw the air out of your ears so the poorly bits realign or something like that." I said looking out the corner of my eye at the tiny sparks. Even more disconcertingly, I could then hear fizzing and sizzling and I had a panic attack when I wondered how much hairspray I'd used earlier in the day.
"Hmmm," said The Husband doubtfully, standing back from the smoke rings "doesn't sound very scientific to me."
But, next morning the pain mysteriously subsided and I felt a little less dizzy.
"So do you remember all that then?" I said to The Husband, "Sapphire moon probably still has them in stock."
"If you're for one minute going to suggest sticking what looks like dynamite into my ears, lighting the touch paper and standing well back you've gone completely barking," The Husband says. "Nope, I'll stick with modern medicine and TLC, any chance of a cup of tea and a Kit-Kat with the papers?"

Monday, 21 March 2011

Where my inner thighs jiggle like a trifle on a trampoline, not like Nigella's cheesecake.

"Why are we doing this?" I asked  Bee this  morning at the gym.
"So we don't turn into fossils," She says panting beside me.
"Yes, yes, health's one thing,"  I said puffing away on the bicycle "but it's not as if we'll be exposing any of this flesh is it?"
"Not at this time of the year in Northumberland."
"But even abroad, we could be fantastically toned, have no bingo wings and a six pack like corrugated cardboard and still raise eyebrows if we stepped out by the hotel pool in a bikini."
"True, when you're young you can show off your hard work but now I feel indecently exposed in a short sleeveled tee shirt."
"Exactly, even if we develop thighs that could scale a coconut tree without us using our hands, no one wants to see them anyway. If I put on a mini skirt I'd  be put on the 'crimes against style most wanted list' and get 25 years from fashion police.
"Unless you're Madonna," Bee says, "she seems to get away with it."
"Only because she can afford super duper expensive lawyer and newspapers are afraid of being sued." I huff,
"I just wish this keep fit malarkey was more exciting."
"I'm slogging away on this treadmill and it seems to me there's cookery programmes on every channel." Bee says nodding at her screen.
"I know, its' like some sadistic foodie plot."
"Nigella was just making peanut butter cheesecake at 1,000 calories a whiff and now all I can think of is getting to the cafe for a slab of cake."  Bee says longingly, "Oh and by the way, Nigella says she knows her cheesecake's set when it has a slight inner thigh jiggle."
"She obviously hasn't seen my inner thighs then, they jiggle like a trifle on a trampoline."
"That's  it," Bee says with relief as her timer goes off, "that was sooooo boring."
"Well Ladies," says Dr. Purvis (AKA Dr. Perverse) coming alongside Bee's treadmill like a fully laden tugboat to a pier, "You know what they say, if you're bored with your life you should try something new."  He winks at us theatrically.
"Eeeew," says Bee. "Definitely time for the caff, I'd say."

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Where I'm told to make the words my own, even if it means having to eat them

After rushing around the last few days I have been relaxing this morning and reflecting that I haven't read  much for the last six months.  I have a tower of books teetering dangerously on the corner of my desk and I'm tempted to pick up some of the more intriguing titles, have a read fest' and not surface for a week.  I confess that, silly as it sounds, I'm terrified of being influenced by someone famous, being sued for plagiarism and ending up in the jail  for naughty writers. In an effort to sort out my dilemma, I've been reading the thoughts of other authors to see what their opinions are. 
"It's all very confusing," I tell The Husband, "There's so many different views."
"What sort of  views?"
I begin to read, "Sometimes, I think a writer should make up his mind whether he's going to be a writer or a reader. There isn't time for both." I say quoting from Paris Review.
"Who said that?" he says looking up from the Sunday paper.
"The writer Jessamyn West."
"But then apparently Stephen King  reads and writes for four hours respectively every day." If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write," he says."
"I'd go with Stephen King," The Husband says sagely,  "Haven't heard of the other name so that probably tells you everything you need to know."
Simple logic maybe but I didn't need much persuading.  It's like being reunited with a long lost friend. I have been lying on the sofa reading books all afternoon reading. It's been a nice change from trying to disentangle my own plot. The Husband says he can hear my 'voice' when he reads anything that I've written, so even if it's not a piece of literary genius it's still mine. Let's hope he's right. I've just entered a short story I've written for a competition, the theme was "Home Tomorrow."  Someone said to me recently "make the words your own even if it means having to eat them."  Hmmmm.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Where I was shovelling coal into the back of my computer

I'm back from my travels and pleased to report that the trip to Manchester to see my Stepdaughter went very well.  The only snag was that as Ria and Ella were with me we were yakking away for three hours, so when Sat Nav kept bleeping to warn me of the speed cameras I don't know whether I was paying attention and if I slowed down in time.

When I got back last night, I had this horrendous thought.  What if I got not one, but lots of speed camera tickets?  How many can you get at one time? Is it in Guinness book of records? Can you go to jail if you get more than say ten on one day?   I must have been praying on my mind because I went to bed and had an awful nightmare. All the tickets were delivered at once by Postman Fred, assisted by three of his postman friends and they arrived in a big van, the way they bring the mail at Christmas. Tickets were shooting through the letterbox like coins after a slot machine jackpot in Las Vegas. I needed a shovel to get to the front door and the judge sentenced me to 62 points on my license and £1,000,000 in fines (which I may only have to pay back at £3 per week, because I'm on Job Seekers Allowance). 

When I woke up, I fully expected to be shackled in a prison cell. The The Husband didn't help matters by singing "the sun has got his hat off" and then saying in his cheerful morning voice, "here's your tea and toast, come on, chop chop, it's a lovely morning and you need to get on line and look for our  new dream house. Then  we can ring the agents and go and view some more today."
"At seven o'clock on a Saturday morning?" Grrrrr. 

"I need a new computer,"  I said to The Husband half an hour later, as I was shovelling more coal into the back, trying to get up a good head of steam to search the estate agents sites.
"What makes you think that?  It looks perfectly fine to me."
(No, it doesn't dear reader, it's ancient and has what they now refer to euphemistically as 'retro styling.' It looks one of those those Philips tellies your granny bought with ration stamps or swapped for two tins of corned beef and a bag of sugar.)
"It has a walnut case for goodness sakes," I told him, "my aunty Gladys thought it was a cocktail cabinet."
"You're just cross because you had to get up early."
"Plus it keeps crashing," I said ignoring him and pressing the Bakelite buttons  "and it's got what the computer man calls The B-SOD."
"It's a technical term, means "The Blue Screen Of Death," it comes up whenever I switch computer on."
"Oh," he said, "is that bad?"
"The clue is in the name," I said testily looking into the blue glare.
After about an hour, when  it had finally booted up and I had trawled through the usual websites without success I had a brilliant idea. "What about going to look at old ruins that need renovation, you know barns for developing, farmhouses that need doing up? It always looks good on the TV."
"Property developing are you mad? he said,  "when I put up three shelves in the kitchen we nearly got divorced."

Friday, 18 March 2011

Where I'd rather have someone stick pins in my eyeballs

I'm saying a very brief hello this morning as I'm off to visit family today with my car boot full of the cakes I baked yesterday. To get to Manchester, I have a three hour drive ahead of me which I'm not looking forward to it at all. I hate driving at the best of times but driving on the motorway is my idea of hell, especially if it's raining.  If you gave me a choice between that and having someone stick pins in my eyeballs, the answer would be so difficult  I'd have to phone a friend.
It's not that I'm timid like Bee, who doesn't get up to third gear until she's in the outside lane but I don't like the aggressive way people drive now, always tooting or drawing up behind you when you're already doing seventy and flashing their lights to get you to move over.

If the Husbands driving it's he's just as bad, shaking his fist or shouting "can you believe that?"  or  "Did you see the way she cut in on me, brains of dynamite she wouldn't have enough to blow her hat off!"

He's not only brilliant a driver but also wants to impart all his vast knowledge to me. Quite honestly, I don't know how I'll manage to change gear today, as he's not going to be sitting next to me in the passenger seat, giving me directions. Also he gives me loads of useful tips and reminds me to go faster when I need to get into the outside lane, make sure I indicate in plenty of time, put the lights on when it gets dark and  even how to work the petrol pumps at the filling station.

To get off to a good start this morning, I must remember that he always parks the car in gear,  "very good safety measure for when you're on a hill in case handbrake fails,"  he tells me. Between you and me sometimes I forget, jump in and start the engine. The car, which he's left in first gear, leaps forward aggressively for combat with our unsuspecting garden fence.

Hopefully, I will manage to get there and back without him and will be back blogging merrily tomorrow if I can just manage to reverse off the drive now he's gone to work..

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Where the husband suggests a chain saw to slice my home baked bread

I have been out this morning to get ingredients for baking cakes this afternoon and have just unpacked several carrier bags. I had forgotten to take the bags out of the boot of the car and had  to face the eco-warrior princess who works on the till at the local supermarket. When the dread moment came and she said, loudly so everyone in the queue hears, "Do you have any bags?" I had to shake my head in shame.

She wears Birkenstock sandals, long flowing dresses, dreadlocks and no bra. She is to be avoided at all costs if you are bag-less as it is a crime against humanity right up there with not using the right recycling bin, which can get you life without parole, if our County Council finds out.

It will be something of  a marathon baking session this afternoon as The Husband says I always take on too much once I get enthusiastic about something,  and so I need to get cracking.  I'm going to visit some family in Manchester tomorrow and will be taking cakes. At one time family and friends expected me to show up clutching a designer handbag, now people don't recognise me without a lemon drizzle or carrot cake stuffed in my hand.
Between you and me, I'll have to get everything baked before The Husband gets home from work and stash the evidence in the boot of my car, to avoid a repeat of the hissy fit he had at Christmas.
"Don't know what you're getting so cross about," I said, "just because I've made a teeny weeny few Christmas cakes."
"Wait a second," he said pointing to the mountain of tins stacked on top of the cupboard. "You've made a cake for," he began to count on his fingers, "your Mum and Dad, Sister,  Niece, Bee, Kitty, Tasha, Aunty Gladys,  the children, step children, hairdresser, Postman Fred....13 cakes...",
"It's supposed to be the season of good will." I interrupted.
"...and about 8 dozen sweet mince pies," he continued opening our over stuffed freezer,  "not forgetting the 48 jars of Clementine chutney, 36 jars of Christmas Jam, 16 plum puddings and enough gingerbread cookies to cause a world ginger shortage, in the cupboard under the stairs."
"We might get visitors," I said weekly.
"Who are you expecting, the entire County?"

I've decided not to bake any bread after the weekend.  I think maybe I forgot to add some minor ingredient to the new recipe, say liquid for example, which may be because Bee called in the middle of the process and I got side tracked. This happened once before and I started making a white sauce for a lasagane and after trying to cook and talk about shoes at the same time, I thought I was doing custard and ended up making a trifle.

Anyway, at the weekend The Husband was working in the garden tidying up the hedges and pruning trees and so I gave him a shout and said would he like a ploughman's sandwich with the loaf I was making.
"Will you look at that," I said as I attempted to slice it and the bread knife, which we have had for donkey's years, suddenly suffered from metal fatigue and the blade and handle separated with a loud crack.
"Hmmm," said The Husband picking the loaf up up and tapping it on the bench top, "back in a moment, I've got the very thing."  He returned seconds later with his Black and Decker chain saw.
"If this doesn't work," he said cheerfully, " don't worry it won't go to waste, I've a gap in the dry stone wall at the bottom of the garden and this looks about the right size."

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Where I screw wallpaper into large ball & throw out of Velux window.

You may remember that yesterday I was completing an application for a job to write for websites in America. I had to produce a sample of  simple instructions to complete a task.  As promised here's my entry, including many helpful hints and tips on how to achieve that 'professional' finish.

How to Wallpaper a Ceiling
1. Cut paper to size, adding on at least 50cm on each end.
Tip: This will allow for any slight mistakes in measurements and therefore avoid rows when The Husband, bossy mother in law, know it all brother or nosy neighbour says "might it have been better to hire a professional painter and decorator, do you think?"
2.Slap paste on back of paper (side without pattern) and make into a concertina by placing glued sides together, leave for ten minutes to allow to become pliable.
Tip: If you return to find paper has set solid like corrugated cardboard do not attempt  to separate as second coming of the dinosaurs will be faster. Hide rejects in black plastic sack and begin again with step 1.
3. Put pleated paper over one arm and using step ladders, start at one side of the ceiling, attach end of paper by using soft brush with your other hand and work way across, moving step ladders as you go with your third hand.
Tip: If your reach far side and paper on first side is falling off then return to first side and prop up with broom wedged in between two dining chairs, balanced on the back of sofa. If far side is now doing same, repeat this tip.
4. Realise that as there are one or two minor miscalculations, you will require more paper. Send The Husband or other annoying bystander to DIY shop for more supplies.
Tip: While they're gone, take opportunity to sneakily remove glue from your hair, carpet, sofa, TV, Bird's cages and residents if necessary, have 16th tea break and eat cake as night draws in.
5. Carry on as before, repeating steps 1-3
6. If paper falls off on head, slap on so much glue feet stick to ladders and you can't get off. Leave shoes there until later.
Tip: When The Husband says "how come you've been going five hours and you haven't done tenth of ceiling yet?" get huffy, make comments about how long it took Michaelangelo and point out he had scaffolding, helpers and was being paid a fortune by The Pope.
7. Rip paper down and screw into large ball, throw out of Velux window.
8. Answer telephone, apologise to Mrs Jones next door for Spot's concussion and agree to pay vets bills
9. Drink whole bottle of Pinot Grigio through a straw when you find you cannot stop looking at ceiling as neck has seized. Ring physiotherapist to sort out compacted vertebra, then painter and decorator, upholstery and carpet cleaning company and Marriage Guidance Counsellor.
Tip: If in a hurry go straight to step 9.

"That oughta do it," I told The Husband as I printed it off and gave him a copy before pressing 'send.'
Keep your fingers crossed dear reader, if in the meantime you are contemplating a spot of home decorating and would like to print or download this guide, please be my guest. Let me know how you get on.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Where The Husband suggests I paint the sides of ships

Hurrah, I am applying for another exciting job.  Regular readers of this column will know that I would like to work part time from home so that I can sign off from the lovely Job Seeker's Allowance but still make a little bit of dosh while I try to finish my epic 'The Pearls and the Suitcase.'
The last position I applied for a month ago, was to answer the telephone and take orders for a group of companies. After three tests suitable for entry to Mensa, I failed to meet their exacting standards. 
Last week I saw a job advertised on the internet that involved working for an an American organisation. They have a portfolio of clients that require written work for their websites but don't have the in house skills to do it themselves.  To qualify you had to send in your resume and a sample of work.  I discovered that a Resume is somewhat different from our CV in that it is shorter and you can blow your own trumpet. 
"I have been working as a neuro surgeon whilst completing my Commercial Pilots license. In my spare time I am a Supreme Court Judge in Florida and raised two million dollars for an Orphan's Charity last year."
"I have to explain how to complete a simple task," I said to the husband.
"What sort of thing?"
"They give an example, "How to paint a ceramic mug."
"Mug painting eh?" Sounds exciting, this writing malarkey."
"They want to see if you're logical and concise," I said, getting irritable.
"Hmmm," said The Husband, "both qualities I never knew you possessed, especially when I see the Saturday morning shopping list.  What begins as a stroll to the corner shop to buy the newspapers and a carton of milk becomes a twenty mile round trip in the 4x4, with a trailer and visa card."
"I will write about  a DIY project ," I said confidently.
I should be all right with that. In our last house I was at the local DIY centre so often I got invited to the staff Christmas party.
"Are you sure that's a good idea?"
"I'm quite good at painting," I said.
"Hah, maybe in the dockyards painting the sides of ships," The Husband said, "then you can lash it on and no one will have to clean up the mess."
Warming to the theme, he started to get on his high horse "remember what happened the last time you took a tub of paint up ladders to do the dining room ceiling in our old house?"
"OK, so a ten gallon drum may have been a bit big but I hate wasting time getting up and down and how was I to know the steps had a weak leg?" I said. "Any way, it worked out all right in the end, all went together."
"Yes if you like your white ceiling to match the walls, floor,doors, fireplace, Chinese rug, Victorian dining table and twelve balloon back chairs." He fumed.  "It was like some weird Arctic camouflage scene, just as well  you put a vase of flowers on the side board or I would never have found the Gin."

I began typing-
How to hang wallpaper
1. put paste on back of paper on table
2. stick on wall
3. make it look nice

Thought it was maybe too concise so started again- and to add more interest thought I would give instructions on how to paper a ceiling. Then had even more brilliant idea, I would put helpful practical tips in italics! 

I'ts been three days and  I am still busy perfecting the article but hopefully if I don't leave the house today, I can present to you tomorrow.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Where I attempted to cross the Mexican border without a Passport

My mobile phone is deceased. No use complaining to The Husband as he hates new technology with a vengeance and thinks a blackberry is something that goes in a pie. He has only just learned how to switch the computer on in his office and  has no notion at all of texting, email, twitter, facebook or anything like that and certainly doesn't have the time or the inclination to check his messages.  Last time I looked he had 764 on his mobile. There is more than a decade in difference in our ages and I don't often think about the age gap until we discuss technology and then it becomes a century.
"There was time," he says, "when things were made to last, you bought something and you had it a lifetime." "Yes dear but that was a cow hide briefcase or your Mam's hand knitted Christmas jumper."
"There are landfills everywhere bursting with mobile phones that work perfectly well but have been deposed by the latest models, that apparently have more knobs and whistles."  he says moodily before adding,
"things change because they can and not because they need to,"   (It's one of his favourite philosophical sayings at the moment.)
When I think of the first mobile phone I had I'm glad it's long since gone.  For a start 'mobile' was really  a contravention of the Trades Descriptions Act in that I couldn't actually lift it by myself.  The previous models needed a fork lift truck.  I remember the ex-husband showing it off to me as he unpacked it from its ominously large cardboard box, which later became a Wendy house for the next door neighbours' kids.
 "Look" he said  enraptured, "it comes with its own shoulder bag."
Which proved to be absolutely vital, as the battery was the size of two shoe boxes and the phone itself, equal to any house brick in both size and weight.  The bag was khaki and looked like something  a tank commander would use to coordinate desert manoeuvres.  We were busy opening a chain of stores in California at the time and I would be called out to such exotic places as San Diego to help the shop fitters with  the final fluffy bits of getting the business open, such as hanging the pictures or flower arranging.  In the days before sat-nav, the ex-husband thought having the phone would be great if I went missing in action, which I often did.
"You can phone for new directions and they could talk you in." He said with utter confidence.
However as I soon discovered, to get any reception at all, the phone needed to be on high ground, away from electricity pylons, tall buildings, mountains, airports or motorway flyovers.  It meant looking at the map to find a location that met all the requirements and then navigate there. It didn't take a genius to realise that  even with my poor map reading skills it would be easier to navigate to the shop location in the first place.
Which led to my attempt to find the San Diego shop in the south of the state un-aided.  As I set off I remember thinking, how hard can it be?  Especially with such good directions from the native office staff.
"Don't worry," they told me at our headquarters, "you really can't miss it. You'll see the towers on Cinderella's Castle at Disneyland on your right and shortly after that there's huge signs for Sea World and you'll know its not far."
To this day I don't know how I missed Disneyland, as you can probably see  it from Mars but I kept going South. I ended up attempting to cross the border into Mexico without a passport, after getting stuck in the queue of immigrants and seeing signs that said "Warning: Do not turn back after this point."  I arrived at my destination five hours late to find the shop closed and fearing the return journey in the dark, had to check into a cheap motel where I found a cockroach in the shower.
I don't know why the ex-husband got so cross, I'm sure loads of people are escorted back from the crossing point by a military escort. I think the thing that got his goat was that the van had our company logo on the side. It got caught on camera and was shown on a CNN news feature about people trying to cross the border illegally, which probably delighted the competition no end.
"When you're finished day dreaming," The Husband cuts into my reverie, "could you check my email messages, I need the time of the meeting on Monday night."
"Lots of spam," I say.
 "Ah, Spam," he says brightening, "I remember when we used to fry it with sausages at Scout's camp. Lovely."

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Where Kitty says "he's 26 and I'm 50 are you shocked?"

I got on the scales this morning and said to the husband "Hah, weight watchers chart says I am ideal weight for a woman  of 5' 10."
"Yes," said the husband, looking up from shaving"but aren't you 5"5?" Trust him to nit pick over a small point.
"Well do I look 52?"  I said pressing my palms to my chin and hoisting up my jowls.
"No, no," he said, "not at all."
I smile. "Ahh."
"You look more like 63."
"Stop being silly," He says winking at me,  "you're only asking me all these questions because of Kitty's new man."
Last night we went to the 'Trout and Rod' and The Husband, myself Bee and Theo were having a drink whilst waiting for Kitty and her date to arrive for dinner.
"She's been very mysterious this week," I said, munching on scampi crisps that the pub's resident cat, Butch finds so irresistible he would even kiss the dog next door, if offered one for a dare. I dropped him a couple of pieces earlier on and he was licking his lips every time my hand went into the bag.
 "She won't tell us anything about him other than he's never been married and has no kids."
"Obviously clever bloke," The Husband said to Theo, who nods in shared admiration.
"All she would say, other than they met on the same cruise of the Med last month, was that he runs a local business."
"Yes," Bee adds, "their paths never crossed here, but they bumped into each other in Venice, obviously fate. Oh, here she is"
Kitty approached our table, still all tanned and fabulous. We all look around her to see if she's alone just see a youngish chap who looks like our waiter. "Everyone I want you to meet Matthew," She says as 'youngish waiter chap' takes hold of her hand and steps forward smiling broadly.
Although we try to hide our surprise, The Husband, Bee Theo and myself couldn't have looked more stunned if he'd got three heads.
Errm can I get you a drink?" The husband says as we girls slip away to the ladies loo.
"Well, What do you think?" Kitty said, giggling.
"Wow," Bee said, "he's very errmm, tall not to mention young looking,"
"Yes he's six feet five," Kitty says, brushing her already immaculate hair, "broad too but  he's a landscape gardener, so he does a lot of physical work. You should see your faces," she said, I haven't seen you so shocked since the police discovered old Mrs. Jefferies, (who does flowers for village Church) was growing cannabis on her window sill."
"She still says she thought they were tomato plants," Bee said.
"Anyway, go on guess, what's the age gap, do you think?"
"Hmmm, ten to twelve years," I said.
"Fif -teen?" Bee says doubtfully.
Kitty grinned, shook her head. "Not even close."
"Can't be twenty," I said in disbelief.
"No," says Kitty, "Actually it's twenty four, are you shocked."
"No," I said, "I'm most impressed."

 "I cant' believe it, she's fifty and he's twenty six."  I say to The Husband this morning.
"Yes, she looks pretty good, must be all that working out."
"Hmmmph, wish I had rich parents like Kitty, or fab' job to pay for personal trainer, liposuction, boob job and a face lift (wont' bother with colonic irrigation, much better not to eat all that food in first place from what I've heard)."
"I have brilliant idea." he says, "ask next time you're at the Job Centre, I'm sure they'll do it on benefits."

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Where legless men wear cap sleeved T shirts that say "I'm with this idiot -->"

As Ria is home for the weekend we went on a mission to Newcastle city centre, yesterday afternoon. Ria was  hunting for a dress for the end of term parties and I needed something new to wear for going out on Saturday for drinks at "The Trout and Rod," to meet Kitty and her mysterious new man.
I should be on commission for Primark, as I seem to be there every five minutes but  Ria wanted pyjama's and so we waded into the sea of bargain hunters and made a little diversion into the 'special occasion wear.' If that 'special occasion' happens to be a party, ball or wedding there were some surprisingly well priced, good looking prom dresses, satin mini skirts and sequined cocktail tops .  However if  your 'special occasion' is Halloween, you've had a good taste by pass operation or need a pole dancing outfit, fear not you'll find it here.  Now I know where Jordan gets all her clothes.
"Wow look at these Mum," Ria said holding up a pair of purple satin hot pants.  "Bet you'll see a lot of these in Town, tonight."
If you're over the age of forty five and think shorts are to be worn only during the Summer holidays, preferably abroad where no one will recognise you, you may be shocked at the thought. Particularly if it's as snowy today where you are, as it is here and like me you're reading this wearing your fingerless gloves, thermal vest and knickers. However, I should point out that even though I'm a wimp possibly after living in California for nine years, on the whole, we Geordie's are a particularly hardy lot in the cold. Even in the snow last December, scantily clad girls could be seen parading in the Big Market area in skyscraper sandals and dresses that looked as if they'd been made out of a hanky and two eye patches. There was so much tanned cleavage and thigh on display you'd think they'd just been beamed up  from a beach in Ibiza and accidentally deposited in Newcastle City Centre.  Friday night, is singles night and very popular for Hen parties and Stag Do's. It's not unusual to see nuns, bunny girls and nurses being pursued by legless men wearing cap sleeved T shirts, printed with a witty design depicting an arrow, that points to the man propping them up and reads "I'm with this idiot --->"
Here, Mam look at these, aren't they lush? Pretty brunette of about twenty says also holding up a  pair of the minuscule purple satin hot pants.
Her mother looks at me rolls eyes and says "Eeeh, they're tiny where yi' ganna wear them for?"
"To gan to the Toon (Newcastle) next Friday neet."
"Eeeeh, y' canna gan oot in them, you'll catch ya death of cold."
"Whaddya mean, Mam? I ususally wear nowt."
"Well divven't blame me if you get yerself locked up."
"What do you think Dad?"
"Errrm will you be keepin' yer coat on Pet?"

Friday, 11 March 2011

Where I look like an albino ape ready for a disco

Got a call yesterday from Frank's body shop to say car is ready to collect. you may remember it has been there having a facelift since last week's slight accident with the Coop dairy truck.
When Bee called in to take me along to pick it up, Postman Fred was delivering a parcel. I was most excited as I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of some goodies from ebay.
"Brilliant, my sweater, it's here, I'll try it on."
Earlier in the week I had been telling Bee about my latest purchases.
"One is an Aran sweater,  details say it's a limited edition, hand knitted in sequence." I said.
"Knitted in sequence, what does that mean?" Bee said.
"Think it means the pattern has sort of a special sequence to the design, you know, where its' repeated in the pattern. You know cables, twisted ropes and what not."
"Hmmm," she said doubtfully "think I'll have to see it."
I unpacked the sweater and dubiously pulled it over my head.
Aaaaargh! it was absolutely massive, dear reader and was not 'knitted in sequence' but was instead entirely 'covered in sequins.' Hundreds of twinkling white ones.  "I wish people could spell correctly." I said to Bee "and when they say relaxed fit and 'one size' they need to be more specific about who the 'one' is."
"In this case their 'one' must be some kind of fashion mad primate," I said, flapping the long sleeves,
"I look like an albino ape."
"It's what you would get  if you were to cross a top worn by a Winter Highland Games participant with a Strictly Come Dancing  outfit." Bee said trying not to laugh, "can't imagine an occasion where you'd actually wear that."
"If only it was 3 sizes smaller," I said rolling up the sleeves,  "it would be the  perfect solution for those occasions when I want to go straight from a day's mountaineering to a disco, without having to bother to go home to change."
"What about the camel trousers you were buying on ebay to go with it?"
"They came yesterday, they were a teeny little bit wide at the bottoms, so I altered them so they're not too baggy." I said pulling them out of the wardrobe. "I had to take quite a bit off as there was acre's of fabric around the hems. 'll try them on to make sure."
"What do you think?" I asked Bee.
"Errm," she says doubtfully "were they supposed to be jodphurs?"

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Where the handbag on the bed was engulfed by steam, like a Christmas pudding.

When I was student, my room in my flat in Birmingham was above a railway line and the house jiggled vigorously like a cocktail shaker, every fifteen minutes. My damp attic bedroom walls were such a paradise for mould that penicillin could have been farmed commercially.  Which was just as well, as I had a  permanent sore throat during the winter months. Sympathetic to my plight, my Mother bought me an electric blanket.  I switched it on and the handbag that I'd left sitting on the bed was engulfed by steam, like a Christmas pudding. This was immediately followed by a bang, a flash and the entire street being plunged into darkness.

The rest of the house was fitted to the same luxurious standard. The oven was an early 1920's design draft oven which, although cutting edge in its day was by then  a death trap which blew out the least puff of wind Once the flame was extinguished it had no safety cut out switch on the gas.  One day I returned to find the landlady's stupefied cat draped over the telephone table in the hallway like a fur stole and he was three floors down from my flat.  Quite honestly, if anyone had lit a match within  a three mile radius you would have been able to see us from outer space.
The bath had an immersion heater that was intended for a hand basin and it trickled three fingers depth of tepid water into a cast iron bath colder than Antarctica. It was right next to Dudley zoo and one night a keeper came looking for an escaped boa constrictor and I didn't sleep for a month....

"Mum sorry to butt in," Ria says, "I'd love to stay and chat but I'm popping out with Ella and some friends for cocktails in a minute to celebrate the exam results and I just wondered, can I wash cashmere or does it have to go to the dry cleaners?"
There's shouting in the background which turns out to be Ella from her en-suite shower.
"Oh and Mum, Ella's asking if there's any chance you could, please, please send her some goose down pillows as soon as possible as the foam ones they give you in our Hall's of Residence are giving her neck ache."

Ain't life grand?

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Where The Queen gets tattoo and village is up in arms

Have just come in. I've been out this morning with my Mum to look at the location of a nice little white washed cottage nearby for possible viewing at the weekend with The Husband.   She picked me up because I still don't have a car.  I have been a little prisoner since mine had to go into Frank's Body Shop  last week for some 'cosmetic surgery,' following my unplanned close encounter with the Co-op's dairy truck.
Before leaving for work this morning, The Husband recited his ever growing list of pre-requisites for the purchase of any property, which include being well away from the river, not being in need of a new roof,  kitchen or bathroom "and"  he adds finally wagging his finger "absolutely and definitely not  a new bridge."
Ah, yes, forgot to tell you about the bridge. Earlier this month we went to see a Georgian stone built house that looked really picturesque on the internet but was approached by a lane that crossed over a rickety bridge.
"That's about to keel into the stream," The Husband said pulling up just before the water's edge, getting out and stamping his foot on the rusting iron.  "Postman Fred would baulk at that on his bicycle. Won't even take the car's weight, never mind the furniture delivery van.  I can just see Bob and his removal boys being delighted at having to heave your dining room table and sofas, the last half a mile to the house, especially up that slope." So that was that.  The more houses we see, the longer the list of "Make sure it's not this and that" gets.
"Just make sure it's not too close to the main road and won't be in earshot of the park," he said this morning. "I want peace and quiet, so I don't want to be overlooking a main footpath, where you can hear everyone's conversation, as you can in this house."
"Yes dear."  Hate to admit it but he's right, more about eavesdropping later.
"Also, I don't want to live near the bus stop, Brenda's Fish 'n' Chips or The Queens Arms', especially now it's become a tourist attraction." he said as he was walking out the door.
He has a point. The Village is rife this week with gossip over the new sign at  The Queens Arm's. It was recently taken over by the current owners, who have spent a fortune in refurbishing the inside, according to the press. Many village residents thought that this would be a good thing, as the building had been standing derelict for some time.  So it created quite a lot of  breathless anticipation on the run up to the opening, a week or so ago. You must remember that we get excited if someone steals a bicycle headlight, grows a bigger than normal size root vegetable, gets a gold rosette for their most handsome sheep or wins the WI best fruit cake in show.
However it is the new sign at the pub which has caused a furore and divided the village. It has even made headlines news in the local paper, with a picture of The Mayor himself  standing underneath the new swinging artwork in protest.
Formerly, The Queens Arms sign depicted a traditional painting of  an English Queen wearing a crown and historic dress with  a tasteful coat of arms beneath, as seen gracing Inn's the length and breadth of the land.
This has now been replaced with a delightful cartoon of our present Monarch wearing a cap sleeved 'T' shirt that  reveals well muscled biceps. She has her arms folded and on on her left  forearm she sports a Hells Angel's style tattoo which reads "Philip."  In the Newspaper one elderly villager says he's "jolly cross"  and another says "it's very disrespectful.  In my day it would have been treason and the perpetrators would have been taken out and shot." Of course some of the teenage residents think it's funny or less stuffy.
"She looks more friendly now,bit like me Nan,"  one said. "Nice tattoo n'all, me Nan's well impressed, she's thinkin' of gettin' one of me Grandad's name done except it'll have to be higher up her arm, above the snake and dagger."
The owner of the pub maintains that any likeness to a member of the Royal Family is purely a coincidence.
"It's actually a picture of my mother," he is quoted as saying "everyone is always telling me how much she looks like The Queen."
And the reference to Philip? the reporter asked.
"Oh that's my dad." He said.
Any way as we drove up the main street Mum said "Oh heaven's look at The Queens Head,  and all those noisy fruit machines," she says pointing through the window "its just awful, the pub's ruined."
Just as I spot the 'For Sale' sign on the delightful little white washed cottage right next door. Oh, Oh, another one bites the dust...

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Where, in disguise, I go on undercover mission to the village greengrocer

Because there's been so many other thrilling things to tell you about I forgot to give you an up date on Monty's Nuptials.  On Friday night, The Husband spoke to the woman who owns the girl parrot and prospective love interest for Monty, our African Grey.  Even though the woman seems keen, her husband is very attached to the bird and she says it may be awhile before he decides to go ahead with adoption, so sadly we'll just have to wait.
Meanwhile, I will obviously keep all options open, join Parrot dating sites and look for a suitable girl friend. As Monty has a cough and has plucked the feathers out from around his derriere, a non smoker with good sense of humour will be an excellent starting point. In preparation, I have drafted out his profile

Single male, good looking (from the chest up) would like to meet girl who enjoys sitting on swings, pecking off wallpaper, singing Karaoke (especially to Elvis' Suspicious Minds) for sunflower seed dinners, eating red berries, shelling peanuts and  romantic cage top walks. Hobbies include having toes tickled, being showered with garden spray and blow dried until fluffy, watching other parrots on You tube,  shouting at the budgies next door and barking at Postman Fred through the window.

He already has a Facebook site and it's lovely to see he's friends with Lucifer, the next door neighbour's adorable cat who has invited him for dinner. He has also received a friendship request from Bernard Matthews Turkey's new "Small 'n' Tasty" division, although not sure what that's about.

Last night I began typing new chapters for my book, no not "The Pearls & The Suitcase," but an earlier epic titled "The Hen Party."  It's part of a series called "The Village Dairies" about friends who live in a small village rife with gossip.  So now I must leave you to go and do some research for this work of genius.  Where as for the "Pearls and The Suitcase" that involves internet studies of exotic locations such as the Himalayan Mountains, Southern Ireland, Los Angeles, and Mexico City this can be done much closer to home.  So I'm off to eavesdrop around the carrots and potatoes in the village greengrocer's, loiter in the cafe, and do a little spying in  the post office queue. I will let you know about the success of my mission, I just hope this moustache and wig don't look to obvious....

Monday, 7 March 2011

Where we get a flat pack greenhouse for the bedroom

As there weren't any houses to view this weekend, yesterday afternoon The Husband decided that as Spring is round the corner (his words not mine) we would make the annual pilgrimage to the garden centre. He wanted to buy some early flowering plants to fill the tubs on the terrace, as there's no where else to make a flower bed. Our  rented house has only a tiny patch of lawn that takes The Husband 1 minute 45 seconds to mow and that includes strimming around path, raking up grass clippings and putting mower in garage.
While he was getting ready to go out, he was moaning about my shoes and handbags being all over bedroom floor.  The rented house has  no virtually cupboards and the two that are in our bedroom are already filled, mine with three lipsticks, a hairbrush and  a deodorant, The Husband's with four pairs of socks, three batteries, keys to the shed and a Timex didgital watch from 1974.
"You must tidy up," he was saying, " there's stuff lying everywhere, don't be surprised if I break my neck."
"It will save me the bother," I snapped, folding arms, "then I won't have to listen to you nagging."
"Your'e impossible. If you're going to be like that,  I'm going on my own," he said storming off.
It was sunny, so I decided to go for a walk down by the river and feed the ducks who are always pleased to see me. The Husband says more likely that they're pleased to see my bag of bread scraps and would throw me in river to get it.  Saw  a friend I hadn't seen in ages and ended up in cafe for cup of tea.
When I came back, The Husband had potted three tubs( which looked lovely but as I was still in huff, decided not to tell him until later) and was having glass of wine on terrace. I went upstairs to take off coat and came to a full stop in bedroom doorway.

The Husband had purchased a flat pack, portable greenhouse, the type used for planting seedlings.  It has five shelves a pointy roof and a drop-over zippy plastic cover.  Inside all my handbags were arranged  in neat rows. Thye looked like specimens in some strange horticultural experiment where you could grow a new Mulberry handbag hybrid from a cutting of the red and the blue one.
"Well, that'll do the job for very nicely, for now." he said in smug voice, appearing behind me at the doorway,  "If you want a job doing properly, do it yourself."
"Which reminds me," I said, handing him his brown cord jacket, the one that needs the sleeves shortened and a button sewing on, "you're absolutely right, as usual."

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Where I get silicone boobs at Primark

Either I have gone deaf or it's raining.  I know this for certain because it's 11 o'clock on Sunday morning and there's no yelling coming from the park, which we overlook from the house we are renting.
"It's raining," the husband says, bringing the breakfast tray and proving the point, "and can you give Tasha a ring back when you're a bit less grumpy."
I may be a little tetchy this morning because we were at Tasha and Charlie's for birthday bash last night and got home just after midnight. Whereas at twenty something I would do shift in nightclub as cocktail waitress, get home at 2.00pm  and still go to work for 8.30am, now I need a week in rehab.
I was very well behaved yesterday. "Instead of buying  a new outfit, I've decided to wear old faithful black pencil skirt and angora sweater," I told The Husband who is sceptical, as he says any money saving idea I have, usually ends up costing him a fortune.
I did however need new bra to go under sweater which is quite fitted, so I made an excursion to Primark, where I have bought quite a few bits and bobs on my Job Seekers Allowance. Even if I say so myself, my purchase definitely did the job, made the old cleavage look quite perky and even drew an admiring glance from The Husband.
"Must remember, I'm taking Nessie," I told The Husband.
(You may remember last week's fiasco when he mistakenly took my cheap Cava from fridge instead of vintage champagne  to Charlie and Tasha's engagement celebrations, causing much merriment from the other guests.The Husband nicknamed  it 'Nessie' after the legend of the loch, as he's never been allowed to get near it).
He offered to retrieve if from fridge, "Not a chance," I said, "I'll get it myself, just to make sure."
When we arrived I handed it over and Tasha was suitably delighted, "smashing, I'll open it later,when alone with Charlie and we can enjoy it properly," she said tucking  it away in their fridge.
Amongst the lovely guests we met the mother of a Hollywood film director. He was born in Newcastle and she was regaling everyone in earshot with tales of his successes, how she's just gotten a Jaguar for her birthday, how she's always on location for one of his films when she's not in LA visiting his palatial mansion.
"She's become totally obnoxious," Charlie agreed "I used to go to school with her son Mark, she knows my mum and sort of invited herself along tonight.  Strangely enough, Mark's actually very nice, not changed at all really."
"God she's so rude." Tasha said, when I called her back this morning, "She was complaining that the loo was too cold for her too use and and that someone had put their handbag on top of her mink coat on the bed.
"Did you get to eventually drink the Champagne?" I say.
"Well that's the worst part, she found it in fridge, said that was all she was used to drinking these days and glugged down the entire bottle."
Grrrrr! Better not tell The Husband about Nessie's Nemesis"
"And," she says, "you won't believe this, just after you'd gone she said very grandly, "I've spent enough time in Hollywood to know a boob job when I see one and that blonde woman's are definitely silicone."
"Gosh," I say taken aback, thinking it was just as well she couldn't see me this morning in my pyjama's, au naturel, without last night's 'D' cupped, feat of engineering shoring up the upholstery.
"Mind you Fee, in fairness you did look quite voluptuous, must be the gym." Tasha says.
"More likely to be good old Primark," I tell her, "best £3 I ever spent."

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Where I almost have a heart attack after reading health news in the papers

"I'm confused." I tell Bee, as we have a glass of wine last night, in front of the fire in the "Trout and Rod," while waiting for our friend Kitty to arrive. "This morning's paper says "daily tipple fights dementia."
"Hurrah, that's good news,"Bee says taking a good swig of Shiraz, "little and often is good for you apparently."
"That's what I thought but the day before yesterday newspaper said we would be more likely to get disease such as breast cancer, even with one glass a day."
"That can't be right. Monday's paper says a glass of wine a day could keep your memory going for longer and  scientists predict it can cut the the risk of dementia by a third." Bee says with such conviction, any one listening would think she had the done research herself.
"Hmmm, sure you're not getting mixed up with that Ginkgo bil blah blah or Gogi berries?" I say.  "Just wish papers would make up mind about health issues. It's all very worrying.  I was taking Ibuprofen for novel writer's neck ache earlier this week and then found out that they can make risk of stroke greater and treble risk of heart attack."
"Ah, easily fixed," says Bee smugly, "I've read that if you take those little aspirins you won't keel with a stroke and good for heart."
"Yes but they give you stomach ulcer."
"Anyway, Times says that Ibuprofen reduces risk of Parkinson's disease and red wine good for preventing heart attacks." Bee says.
"Yes, but apparently shouldn't drink red wine with Ibuprofen v. bad for your kidneys, can shorten life." I say.
"However, I read in  today's Times that if you eat apples, you'll definitely live longer."
"Yes but  according to scientists, only true if you're a fruit fly." I add. "Seems they change their minds every other day. Aha, that's it,  have brilliant idea," I tell Bee. "I'll buy the Daily Mail every other day only, to be sure of good news and I think we should drink a half bottle of red wine every night to wash down Ibuprofen, two little aspirins and six Granny Smith's, to be on the safe side."
Kitty arrives, and interrupts our riveting discussion.  We haven't seen her for a month as she has been on cruise with family to celebrate parents 55th wedding anniversary.  She looks tanned, thin, wonderful and therefore hateful..
After quick catch up where we tell her about Charlie and Tasha's Summer wedding, she makes us jealous by telling us about the highlights of their Mediterranean destinations including Bellini's at Harry's Bar in Venice and  a visit to the Parthenon at dusk. Then she says "I have some exciting news," she pauses to takes sip of wine, "I've met a wonderful  man!"
"Ooh," we say impressed, as Kitty has been single for ages, since her divorce. "How romantic,what's he like?"
"Lovely," she says going all misty.  "He only lives five miles away, it's funny how I must have driven past his office on the way to the village for absolutely ages and yet we met in Venice."
"Divorced?"  Bee says. Kitty shakes head.
"Widowed?" I ask.
"Nope, he's never been married."
Kitty and me raise an eyebrow. "Never?"
"Perennial bachelor," "or old lothario?" we tease.
"Hmmm, not exactly.." she says and then adds mysteriously, "I'll let you see for yourselves, he's coming over next weekend, wants to meet you."

Friday, 4 March 2011

Where The Husband bangs his head on beams making noise like Xylophone

As it's Friday, have been frantically scanning the property websites to see if any thing new has popped up and could be worth seeing this weekend. I have become addicted to them since trying to find suitable house to buy, as we have sold ours and are renting at the moment.  The Husband has become increasingly suspicious of Estate Agent speak and says if I short list, he will take a look tonight. Must admit he may have a point after last weekend's fiasco, when we went to see a house by (and sometimes in) the river and stately pile that is being divided into 'luxury apartments' ...Which reminds me, I didn't finish telling you about what happened at that viewing. We had barely reached the top of the horror movie staircase when Phyllis, our estate agent, immediately launches into sales fever.
The Husband begins to tell her that as we are not certified insane, this is not the house for us and we're off  but Phyllis is not easily deterred, not to mention loopy.
"Well I know it needs doing up a bit, blah blah but you have to visualise it all decorated with new curtains and new fitted kitchen." She says opening door to caravan sized cupboard which is the same as all the others off the hallway and can only be identified as the kitchen, as it is has a cooker that must have been all the rage in 1942.
"The developer  is creating four 'luxury apartments' she continues in enthusiastic oblivion. "Its  it's good to get in now, then  you can add your own specifications." She opens door to long hall way that looks like tunnel and has low sloped ceiling.
"How about raising the roof for start" The Husband says forgetting to duck and banging head on beams one after another making noise like xylophone, "I'll  turn into Quasimodo if I live here."
"Don't be silly" I tell him," that would cost a fortune "maybe developer chappie could  lower floor." that doesn't go down well for some reason.
"This would be your sitting room," Phyllis says grandly "it has fireplace and views of valley."
(Which it has, If I stand on tip toes on window seat, propped up by The Husband.)
"Lovely light because of the  double aspect," she says indicating peephole in gable end which gives birds eye view of  a large plume of smoke drifting from chipboard factory.  When I pull back curtains a vacant birds nest falls out.
"Used to be servants quarters for old hall," Phyllis says.
"Must have been pygmies" The Husband says with his arms folded and v. cross face on. "Who  lives in front part?"
"The developer," Phyllis says "the other three flats have been sold, this is the only remaining one."
"Hard to believe," The Husband says, already half way down the stairs.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Where Bee comes blinking into the light, like a pit pony on its Summer Holidays

Just before I tell you about gym with Bee on Monday, I have just started typing  this morning and have noticed that nail varnish is chipped.  How is it possible? I put on before I went to bed last night and slept under feather duvet? Grrrr. How can scientists send men to land on moon and bring back to earth safely and yet cannot manufacture a nail varnish that does not chip and tights that don't run? Surely there's more money spent by women on these items than by NASA's  entire space exploration programme.  Doesn't seem fair, must be all men doing the research, I say. So if any scientists reading this, also add to list make-up that doesn't come off in water, so I can go swimming on holiday, without frightening the children..

What was I going to say, Ah yes, the gym.  On Monday, after three weeks indoors, Bee came blinking into the light like a pit pony on its Summer holidays. She had to wear sunglasses and has a bad case of studio pallor.
It's about two weeks to an exhibition of her art work and I'll be honest, I had to resort to desperate measures  to get her to leave studio.  Fortunately she's susceptible to bribery and so I lured her out with  my extravagant gift of 12 bags of Hula Hoops (ready salted) and six Scotch eggs from Waitrose.
Fortunately Mad Bab's was on hand at gym to give lots of helpful advice as usual.
"That's no good at all, you need to use both hands."  Not knowing that Bee could only lift weights with her left one as it took her right hand all morning to realise it wasn't still holding a paintbrush.
 "As I've been busy creating my artwork," says Bee in huffy tone,  "I haven't been for a few weeks and I'm a bit stiff."
"Ah," says Mad Babs, "You know what would soon fix that? A good swim, you can come to the pool with me after your done here, I was going to do a quick 60 lengths myself so I'll wait for you."
Bee begins to make an excuse when Mad Babs interrupts.
"Fiona says you are a great swimmer have all your badges and would like to swim Lake Windermere in June."
Bee gives me her 'caustic' look (it could strip paint) and I suddenly remember having wormed my way out of being roped into doing the charity swim with Mad Babs a few weeks ago by volunteering Bee instead. (Naughty I know but as I didn't think Bee would leave house before August and as swim is in June, I thought I was safe....)
"Errrmm, I'll just leave you two to talk a minute," I said heading for contraption called The Power Plate which I had never used before but it's at other side of gym and I thought I could hide. Anyway, supposedly lots of footballers wives use it to tone up their bottoms, so I stepped confidently onto platform, twiddled various knobs, press lots of buttons and little symbols began to light up like panel on flight deck of  Boeing 747. Suddenly it jolted into action and I felt as if I'd been lashed on top of a pneumatic drill.  My jiggly bits looked as if they had independent motors and I could feel all my fillings dropping out.  Didn't dare get off, as Bee and Mad Bab's were still in discussion. As soon as they weren't looking I sneaked on to the floor mats and tried to lie down  but was still quivering and thrashed around like rasher of bacon in hot frying pan.  
"Well, what a pleasure." Dr. Perverse says, appearing from the weights section wearing a tight white nylon vest with chest hair escaping from v neck.  "Is that some exotic new form of yoga? I must join you..."

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Where I come a cropper with Co-op Dairy truck

Had disastrous afternoon yesterday! Was parked out side the grocery store in our village and when I came out with shopping, found a delivery truck had parked across the back of my car and the others in the row, neatly hemming us in. Only one bag of shopping, so threw on front seat and decided that I would be able to just squeeze out behind truck as I was at the end of row and there was a big enough gap.  Began to reverse and heard horrible crunching of metal and car shuddered to a halt. Got out to find that tail gate for delivery truck had been left down and as it's below the level of back window, I didn't see it. It was now wedged firmly inside my boot and there was a scrunched up piece of  metal, a tangled mass of wires and broken glass where the bumper and rear lights used to be. Aaargh! Worse the truck driver returned to load the rest of his dairy products to find a tsunami of double cream, cheese and milk pouring down the street from the crushed cartons. Large audience assembled from bakers and post office as I embarked on massive clean up operation with helpful grocery store staff  who fetched brooms and endless buckets of hot soapy water. My once lovely red suede shoes now look like raspberry ripple.
Driver of truck was very cross, said I'm not fit to be let out and took my address to send bill for damaged goods.  Decided best plan was to find out repair costs before ringing insurance company and worse confessing to The Husband. So limped what was left of car straight along to Frank's car body shop for estimate. Frank rubbed chin, in usual fashion, shook his head  and said "Ooh, dearie me, this could be expensive love," (sounded eerily like the plumber, electrician, or washing machine repair chap) "you'll need a new bumper, rear panel, brake lights, boot lid, blah blah blah."  Switch off when he mentioned that car will need to be in body shop for a week for respray, nearly pass out when he gives me total, which sounds like Christmas bonus for flash city banker.
Called insurance company and man said "please wait a moment while I get your file up on computer." There was a pause and them  I'm sure I could hear muffled sniggering.  "I'm afraid this will  affect your premiums, as this is your second incident in less three months."
"I'm sure loads of other people have problems with faulty handbrake's," I said defensively.
"Yes, just unfortunate you happened to be parked on top of such a steep hill, on the ice, overlooking a stream," he said.
(I was up in Hardrian's Wall country and got out of car to take quick photos for Christmas card. My advice dear reader, is never trust an electronic handbrake, at least with an old fashioned lever you can see it's on).

Needless to say The Husband had hissy fit and says he's going to buy me a Chieftan tank regardless of where  we are living. So am driving the loan car which smells like an ashtray and stalls at every opportunity.  Have been warned by The Husband, under fear of certain death not to cause any damage to it. Not like the last time, which wasn't fair, when the number 17 bus... oh got to go, tell you later...

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Where according to The Husband we'll need a Chieftan tank

You may remember on Saturday afternoon, we were going to view a house that is being divided into apartments.
Photos show a fabulous old hall which looks like centre portion of Buckingham Palace. In car on way, I read details to The Husband.
"19th century country home, being re-developed into luxury flats, buyer can put own stamp on property to create unique home, lovely elevated views of the Tyne Valley, period features, secluded hideaway. Might be good thing, I say "no more mowing lawns or weeding but still garden to look at."
At entrance we drive under fancy arch bearing family coat of arms and turn up smart tree lined lane, arrive at front door, no sign of  Phyllis our estate agent. "Gosh," says The Husband, "this looks  v. swanky," just as mobile rings "We're not supposed to be at front," tell The Husband, "Phyllis says there's another entrance to side of house, just up the lane."
"Hmmmph," says The Husband as we turn into a track past two overflowing wheeley bins covered in graffiti.
"Are you sure this is right? Did you listen to the directions properly?"
It doesn't matter, it's so narrow we can't turn back any way, so we bump down waterlogged, potholed track that is over grown with brambles. The husband has tantrum about car getting dirty, rants about how the suspension  and paint work will be totally knackered. "Ridiculous," he snaps drawing up at tatty door, you'd need a Cheiftan tank to get up and down here."
"I think you can buy them on ebay,"  I say, he gives me 'that' look. We scramble over piles of building materials to reach entrance. The Husband gets cement dust on shoes and is not amused.
The agent's already inside, so we go in door that's shedding saucer size flakes of grey paint and head up the stairs that are covered in maroon nylon carpet that reminds me of student union in1978, the morning after Agricultural students Christmas party. Two light bulbs on exposed cables give off dim light on stairwell that smells like school dinners, overcooked cabbage and old cooking fat. Want to run sceaming back to car but hear Phyllis calling "Coo-eee up here," so follow The Husband as he mutters and pants all the way up four flights.
At top I am  busy resuscitating The Husband (admit am a bit smug as gym sessions with Mad Babs seem to be paying off and I can still talk) when Phyllis says "Ahh there you are." In sort of voice my mother uses when she finds my Dad in shed after he's been MIA for 5 hours.

Oh, oh, that reminds me I'm late. I'll be back later to tell you about house but have to go, as meeting Bee at gym and she's always on time for everything and gets cross if I'm late.  It' been so long since I saw her, I told her to wait under clock in entrance and wear flower in button hole. Also writing really good bit in novel about museum archives in India where professor stumbles on information about history of the cursed pearls.... Hah hah (evil laugh like villain with fluffy white cat on James Bond movies..)