Saturday, September 30, 2006

This one goes out to the one I love

I wish it was this time last week. I am missing Reidski.

Mind you, I have a feeling that this exact time last week I was sound asleep on his shoulder having crashed out in front of the tele. God knows how that happened. I had only been drinking since 12.31 (approx) that day. He did say that the film I slept through 'The Squid and the Whale'was very good but I may never know for sure.

If he tells you I was snoring he is a liar!

Film lines

Some of my blogging mates (eg George and Lovely Lisa have recently turned their attention to The Best Film Lines Ever. I wanted to have a go at that too, but got stuck after "We have an injured rabbit also". (The geek in Local Hero shouting up at the bedroom window of the hotellier Gordan Urquart who has been woken up by the battering on the front door by the geek and the American who wants to buy the bay for an oil refinery, following their arrival in the village at an unearthly early hour.

So I had to cheat and resorted to the awards for The Cheesiest Lines in Film Ever(NOW) amongst which there are many "I can deliver this with a straight face if I live long enough" moments.

I think this may be my personal favourite =

A line delivered by Kevin Costner in his flop The Postman rounds off the top 10.

"You're a godsend, a saviour," a blind woman tells his character. "No," he replies. "I'm a postman."

As of this coming week

we - at last - have a door to door re-cyling service. We are the last area in our local council to receive this service.

And perfect timing looking at the sheer number of empty lager cans in my bin. Mind you, if I put that lot out for collection in the first week I fear I shall be subject to a surcharge.

Aren't teenage boys delightful? I have always said so.

Especially when trying ever so hard to talk politely to their mate's mum whilst pretending to her they are not drunk. One of D's friends had a lovely chat with me which he began with "Hello Jane! I haven't seen you for ages! How are you? You look well!" OK, the effect was slightly damaged by the enormous belch he instantly followed up with that he was unable to contain but it was a good try - and he did say "Pardon me" which I thought was nice.

I had to negotiate four sleeping bodies en-route from my bedroom to the bathroom when I woke up this morning. Not too bad really considering the distance I have to cover on that journey is as far as 14 feet. Someone was asleep up the stairs - feet on one step, head on a step some six feet higher. Oh how it reminded me of student parties in days gone by.

I surveyed the scene of devastation which was the morning after the night before and did what any clear thinking parent would do in the circumstances. I cleared off out of it leaving a note threatening dire consequences if the house wasn't straight by the time I got back. And the note might have been successful had my son actually managed to wake up before I returned at 12.45 this afternoon.......

And I am not talking about football EVER again* (until Friday when we play Bournemouth - AWAY thank god).

Away record - played 6, won 4, drew 2, lost 0, points out of a possible 18 -14 (best in league)

Home record - played 6, won 0, drew 1, lost 5, points out of a possible 18 - 1 (worst in top FIVE leagues).

It isn't even that we are playing badly - not that we could be doing worse if we WERE playing badly.

If anyone happens to know a good and reliable witch doctor to lift the voodoo which is the only rational** explanation for this state of footballing affairs please could you ask them to call 01604 757773 and press option 9 for 'Last Resort and Panic Measures'.

* I lied.

** And I use that word advisedly.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Something's happening tonight

I just wish I knew what.

The other week my eldest was 17. He announced he was having some mates over, but I said not last weekend, as I was going to be in London with Reidski and would rather (I think) have some element of control, but that tonight would be OK.

During the course of the past week I have asked on average four times a day what exactly is happening tonight.

Me- "How many have you asked?"
Him- "Oh, I dunno. A few."
Me- "Roughly how many?"
Him-"Dunno. Maybe about twenty."
Me -"TWENTY!!!???"
Him-"Well they won't all stay the night."
Me- (hysteria mounting) "Well how many WILL stay the night?"
Him- "Dunno."

So we start talking tents in the field behind our house and the organising by him of said tents (ours having gone to the recycling tip due to 'unfit for purpose' state). I have just found out he has done nothing whatsoever about borrowing some tents."We will just sleep out in our sleeping bags" says he somewhat optimistically in view of this mornings steady drizzle.

I shouldn't be surprised that his sole concern is the number of lagers he has been able to accumulate. I am vaguely surprised he doesn't want me to get any food in "But if you did feel like buying a few more lagers...." (Strangely I do NOT feel like buying a few more lagers.)

So, I have a certain quantity of teenagers here tonight, who may or may not be staying, who may or may not have a tent to sleep in, and who will go very hungry unless I relent and buy sausages and bread rolls in bulk (could be a little boring for the veggies amongst them, but knowing the dietary requirements of x number of mystery guests would be too much to expect. They do however have a fridge full of lagers to get through.

Actually I do know what is happening tonight, I was 17 once.....

Thursday, September 28, 2006

How did I ever manage without my George Foreman Grill?*

A report today says the British waste 2 BILLION pounds a year on electrical gadgets that they never use.

To quote from the report - Other white elephants include hand-held milk frothers, electric manicure kits, plastic bag sealing devices, massage chairs, foot spas and fondue sets, as well as devices to make yoghurt, waffles, popcorn, candy floss, smoothies and ice cream.

Now I admit to a dusty bread maker and a steamer which rarely sees the light of day but does anyone really own a plastic bag sealing device or a hand held milk frother? I suppose many of these items would have been Christmas presents. " An electric manicure kit. You shouldn't have." ("No, really. You shouldn't have") It reminds me of my father-in -law trying and failing to show pleasure when he unwrapped his 65th birthday present - a garden vacuum cleaner.

* Serious question. I love it!

Film going on a budget (isn't possible if you live in London)

It has taken us months to get there this being but one example of us failing to get to the cinema. It has not been for want of trying on a weekly basis, but last night we did finally get to see a film in London. We saw Little Miss Sunshine and what a lovely, funny, moving film about a dysfunctional family on a road trip in a clapped out VW van it was too. I am really pleased because the first review I just looked at mentions the truly great running style of the suicidal intellectual Uncle Frank- 'Number One Proust Expert in the World' - much good does that do him.

Anyway, we now know why it is practically impossible to see a film in London on a Wednesday night. We wanted to go on a Wednesday because Wednesday is Orange Wednesday - and we were not the only ones. If you have an Orange mobile you can get two tickets for the price of one on a Wednesday and as the price of just one ticket in London is £9.00* (and no, we weren't in the West End), clearly no bugger could ever afford to go to the cinema any other night. The early evening cinema was packed. Luckily, I don't like popcorn or otherwise I would have had to sell my kids in order to afford a tub of that.

* Twice the price of tickets at my nearest cinema. There is something to be said for living in the sticks after all.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Wonders of technology

Well, it will be if it actually works.
I only just found out that in theory at least I can send this e-mail to the blog so this is just by way of 'testing'.
I've got the local radio on, listening to the football. We are 1-0 up at the moment, but I know we won't win because we always lose at Cheltenham. In our last two seasons at their place we have managed to throw away leads in injury time both times!
Arggh! Breaking live news! I do not believe it - we have just been given a penalty for the first time this year. Pause to cross fingers.....
Bloody hell! We are two nil up.
But then again a couple of years ago we were 3-1 up and lost 4-3 in injury time so with 7 minutes to go I am still unable to relax.
Let's see where this goes if I press 'send'


It is now Wednesday morning and I am in reflective mood. Two things happened last night one of which was so rare it had never actually happened before (we won at Cheltenham) and the other has happened before but not in living memory (we got a penalty). In the meantime I was doing two things one of which had never happened before (using e-mail to blog) and the other of which has happened before but not in living memory (I cleaned the oven). Does this mean that in order to help my team overcome the jink we now have about playing at home that I am going to have to stay at my home, e-mailing the blog and cleaning the oven? Can I make such a sacrifice?
There is a bloke follows the Cobblers who has allegedly only missed four games in 30 years. He sits near me. Unfortunately for him he suffers from a weak bladder and makes regular trips to the gents.....and when he is gone we score. He has missed SO many goals on account of nature having called. Not that we are superstitious or any such nonsense (Oh no! In my own case it is simply coincidental that my scarf only ever gets washed after I see us lose. My scarf is extraordinarily clean right now.) but when it looks like we will never score in a week of Sundays the chant goes up - "Jeema (for that is what he is called, though I have no idea if it is actually his name), Jeema, go for a slash - Jeema". I have noticed it doesn't work on demand though. Obviously he has to be called by nature and not urged on by fellow supporters with delusions for the goal to be achieved as it where.

I am ridiculous. I do apologise.

Anyhow, off to London this evening to see if Reidski is speaking to me yet after Saturday's glorious victory. He should be quite happy by now though as apparently Celtic are going to win the European Cup. (As my essay and exam questions always used to end -Discuss.)

The Great Amersham Arms Disaster

Before The Match Of The Day we were going to watch Celtic play Rangers down the local. Now if I say this pub is a ciabatta free zone it will hopefully give you a rough idea of the sticky carpets, nicotine stained walls, and posters optimistically declaring it to be a Drugs Free Zone which is the Amersham Arms. It does however offer live Scottish football on The Big Screen and therefore on days when Celtic play it is crammed with ex-pats in their green and white hoops.

We were a bit late on Saturday having had an urgent appointment involving bacon and egg but arrived at the pub door dead on 12.30 but OHMIGOD!!! the football is not on. Instead of Celtic running rings around the Forces of Darkness * there is a pub full of men and apart from me, one woman (at least I think she was a woman)all staring forlonly at a TV screen displaying the message, 'Contact your engineer'. I can tell you that if there was such a thing as the power of collective thought that television would have started transmitting the football. You could see everyone was privately willing the football to appear, but to no avail. A very hot under the collar landlord was on the old mobile to said engineer, but no football was forthcoming. You could by now taste the despair in that pub. We could hear the clock ticking it was so quiet in there. Christ! Celtic could be three nil up by now - and we were all missing it.

The silence was broken by the sound of someone receiving a text message.

The match was being shown at a pub five minutes down the road.

REJOICE!(Unless you are the landlord of the Amersham Arms in which case DESPAIR!)

Never before have so many pints been downed so fast or a pub emptied quite so rapidly. If anyone was driving down the New Cross Road, London SE14, at about 12.45 last Saturday and wondered why on earth so many out of shape individuals were risking a heart attack by taking up jogging I can throw some light on that mystery.

Celtic won 2-0 so Reidski did not have an entirely disastrous day last Saturday. It was unexpectedly profitable for the Marquis of Granby too.

*copyright Reidski

Monday, September 25, 2006

He loves me not!

I’ve just found out I have been dumped! Reidski has ended it all - sob!

It wasn’t as if my team didn’t allow Millwall plenty of chances to score.…how many exactly did they need? And in the light of our recent form I could hardly have foreseen that in the 41st minute we would actually grasp our first scoring opportunity of the entire first half and take the lead now could I? This is a pretty accurate summing of a game Millwall never should have lost but did…HOORAY!

I got dressed in the morning in my ‘Life is all Cobblers’ tee-shirt. Reidski was stunned into silence when he saw me in it – I would like to be able to tell you he was stunned by how gorgeous I looked in it, but have to admit that might not have been the reason for the total shock that registered on his face. I kept it on of course because I am so hard. (Yeah right! I kept it on because no one could see it after I had put another tee-shirt on over the top of it).

It was so weird watching the game with the home fans. Basically, whatever they were saying out loud, I was thinking the exact opposite. When they jumped out of their seats because their side nearly scored it was with anticipated delight, whereas when I jumped out of my seat because their side nearly scored it was with anticipated dismay. Every time we nearly scored (which happened a lot more in the second half than it had done in the first) Reidski placed a restraining ‘remember where you are and don’t shout out’ hand on me. And when we actually did score I had sufficient time to compose myself as the ball was clearly going in. Actually as everyone around me was so busy going mad with rage at their own side, I’m not sure, even if I had leapt up in the air in celebration that anyone would have noticed. Still, it was probably better, all things considered not to put at risk life and limb at Millwall for the second time in a year ('Come on Luton' - arrggghhh!).

I’m not saying Millwall were bad – I didn’t need to say that because that was what everyone around me on Saturday was shouting loud and clear. I actually felt sorry for their players and ex-(since this morning) manager the abuse was so vicious. But hey, my team won – and it was BRILLIANT!!!!!

P.S. If the Cobblers had taken the same number of points at home as we have away we would be top of the league instead of just having moved up two places to 18th! I would say thank god we are away again tomorrow but it is at Cheltenham and we never ever get a point there so come Wednesday I shall be depressed again.

Except I nearly forgot – I AM depressed anyway – I’ve been dumped!

Woe is me.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Wishing you all a good weekend

As previously mentioned I am off to London to watch football this weekend. I just KNOW we are going to get hammered. Following the match I fully intend to GET hammered.

Please pray for me.

Radio kills my street cred stone dead.

I heard Terry Wogan on the radio this morning. He was describing a poster that had gone on sale over the web featuring his good self. They had shifted a grand total of 7 copies. He described them as selling like cold cakes. I laughed out loud.

Then he related a listener’s story of finding a long lost cousin via Friends Reunited after a gap of 35 years. The cousin was invited for tea and biscuits with her and her elderly parents. He had been 14 when they last saw him. Conversation did not exactly flow. When the cousin departed, no doubt intending to make him self long lost once again the listener’s 83 year old father took out his pipe and observed – “Bloody hell, our Clive has aged. I never would have known him.” Even better told in Terry’s wonderful Irish accent. I laughed some more. Then I got worried that laughing along to Radio 2 of a morning means I really AM getting old. I was going to say in my defence that I was listening to The Jam before I left for work but then I thought about how many years it is since they split up and decided not to mention that after all.

Digression – I LOVED (still love) The Jam. I saw them loads of times and in all sorts of venues. I even saw them play Skegness once which was more than a little unusual for Skegness. Skegness was more used to the likes of Val Doonican although I do remember that Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band played the Fabulous Sands Showbar on a very regular basis. Maybe they lived locally? I never knew. I am placing a digression upon a digression here. To return to the original digression. I was in a pizza restaurant in Soho. There was a bloke sitting at the next table to me and I had that ‘I know you’ feeling, but I just could not place him. I stared and stared throughout the meal. It was only as he got up to leave, no doubt by that time thoroughly fed up with being stared at by the woman at the next table, that I realised it was in fact my absolute hero Paul Weller. I was embarrassed that I had been staring at him. If I had known it was him I would deliberately not have looked at him, even though I would have wanted to have been looking at him. I have always wondered how, in view if the fact that he was my absolute hero, I failed to put a name to the face of that bloke I thought I knew, but I am at heart a country girl who does not expect to be sitting next to her absolute hero in a pizza restaurant.

To return to radio issues. I don’t have a CD player in my car. I do have a tape player which would be fine it worked, only it doesn’t work. It is the radio or nothing for me whilst I am driving. Usually I have Radio 5 on, but today they have a severe case of Ryder Cupitis. I’m not really in to golf on the radio. (I’m not really into golf full stop). Anyway, that was how I came to be listening to Radio 2.

last bank holiday I was driving back from staying with Reidski and I had a London based station on - Radio XFM. They play mostly the indie-type music which would be my listening of choice. They were having some sort of run down of listeners Fifty Best Records Ever and it made for great listening. I got to Luton and number 17 when the reception cut out. Trendy radio is not permitted north of Luton. I got Radio 2 instead where they were also doing a rundown but in their case it was the Top Twenty Best Number One Albums Ever. One minute I was singing away* to the Charlatans, the next I was trying to pretend I do not know all the words plus the running order to Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’ although obviously I do. I can tell you that ‘Hotel California’ was in the top 5 as was 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' and ‘Thriller’. I didn’t hear the Number 1 Best Album Ever as voted for by Radio 2 listeners but am making an educated guess that it would have been ‘Sergeant Pepper’s’ seeing as how every other Beatles album had already had a mention.

* I will only ever sing along to a car radio if I am on my own following my ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ incident. I was with Reidski – he was driving, when suddenly he stalled the car and stared open mouthed in my direction. I realised I had been singing along, very loudly, to Bon Jovi. I stopped and apologised for singing such a corny record. He replied it wasn’t what I had been singing that had caused him to nearly crash, but the way I had been singing it. As he so gently put it – ‘That was the worst rendition I have EVER heard.’ His impersonation of how exactly I was murdering that song has since become his party piece. What a good job I am not sensitive about these matters.

However - if you should read this before tomorrow Reidski - I am VERY sensitive when it comes to seeing my football team lose. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear......

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wednesday 20th September

Some dates stay ingrained in the mind.

On Wednesday 20th September one year I had an antenatal appointment at the hospital. They told me they were not going to let me go all the way to full term because I was carrying a big first baby. They said I would go in on 7th October to be induced. I was OK about this as my baby was actually due on 13th October which I knew to be Margaret Thatcher's birthday. I did not want a child of mine to have anything in common with That Woman.

Then that afternoon I had an antenatal class. These are dreadful sessions in which one is patronised and poked and prodded by well meaning elderly health visitors, and in which one then has to perform absurd exercises for use in labour, which are sod all use when one is actually in labour, only they don't tell you that bit at the time. I was wearing white trousers.

With pregnancy comes guide books. They make quite hideous reading. As if reading about labour was not quite bad enough thank you ("I have got to do that???!!") one also learns that one is threatened with such undignified ailments as piles, thrush and incontinence. So when I was doing the 'pushing' exercise - in my white trousers -I was not entirely surprised, but nevertheless mortified, to realise I was leaking 'down below'. Oh bloody marvellous - I have developed incontinence. In public.

I got home and went for a lie down. Sod, sod and sod again. Still I leaked. An hour or so later I actually 'investigated' a bit more closely. After eight months of pregnancy I had mastered the act of collecting a sample of wee ( it is SO alright for men) - and did so now, only - humm - "What a funny colour wee you have Jane". I feared something was amiss and rang the hospital and they said I had better come in so they could check me out. I rang my husband who was working late and told him I had to go to hospital. "OK" he said, "What do you want me to do about it?" "I want you to bloody well get back here and take me." "Oh!" Anyway, we go to hospital, me wondering what I was going to do about cooking tea, and hoping we would get back in time for what was promised to be a particularly exciting episode of Brookside.

Cut to examination room.

"Whaddya mean I can't go home cos my waters have gone and I am going to have a baby in the next 24 hours??????"

I missed Brookside.

I hadn't bought so much as a toothbrush with me let alone anything for a baby - a nappy for example. It was the least prepared for anything I had ever been in my life. It had never ever occured to me my baby could come early. But come early he did. And although this story feels like it was only five minutes ago, as of tomorrow my first born child is legally old enough to drive. And that is SERIOUSLY scary.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

So how am I managing to blog tonight huh?

Am I in fact a fibber when I say my laptop is in for repairs?

Well I did think it was in for repairs.

It should have been in for repairs.

Only they didn't collect it.

The message said they would collect it tomorrow.

So slightly irritating that it now seems to be working perfectly well but will nevertheless still be going in for 'repairs'.

This computer only does it to annoy me.

My look alike


Now I saw this at Gert's place and she looked like loads of famous people including the very beautiful Catherine Deneuve. I have a go and I look like him, and only him. The kid who played Peter in the Chronicles of Narnia in case like me you go 'Who he?'.

People used to think I looked like Chrissy Hynde but that was back in the olden days when I was cool - if someone capable of losing their dress on the escalator in Oxford Circus Tube Station could ever be referred to as 'cool' as opposed to 'prat'.

Ho hum

Well my lap top is in for repairs. I expect no more. It is after all an entire three weeks since it came back from being repaired from the exact same problem which reoccured this morning.

I have also been battling with the idiots who decided that once a kid enters the 6th Form he/she shall not be permitted on the school bus without a pass costing £125 a term never mind that there are places available on the bus and he/she has the bus fare which they were happy to accept as long ago as erh, last term. This is particularly amusing when the alternative bus journey for said 6th Former would involve 1 bus trip of 9 miles, another of 15,and a third of 5 - with the reverse journey to be repeated after school rather than a journey there and back of ten miles total by means of the bus that takes them straight to the school gate. If you can introduce the policy in the middle of the day when said 6th Former is at school but is informed he/she will not be allowed on the bus home, so much the better if your aim is to really really piss parents off. What happened to the policy of trying to reduce the school run traffic? I am sorry to say my personal resistance to this policy along the lines of 'Sod them, they are not getting all that money off me. I will take him to school each morning' lasted exactly one day. I could not take the stress of getting my kids to school on time and the credit card has been further stretched to purchase the flaming bus pass.

And how lucky am I? Not ONLY do I get to watch my team get hammered by Millwall whilst sitting in the Millwall end on Saturday but I ALSO get to watch Celtic play Rangers first! Well, OK, I have to admit to being perfectly happy about the second part of that footballing deal but I don't want to give away the fact that I am not a totally miserable git.

But it is not all bad. Yesterday Reidski and I saw 'Volver' at last and it was every bit as good as it was said to be. Penelope Cruz is SO beautiful - but apart from that I enjoyed it. And my Lee Child book that I am reading is totally absorbing and as I don't have the distraction of the computer at home I should finish it tonight. I have read 9 Lee Child books in the past few months and am totally addicted to them. My whole family plus Reidski are now reading them too, even my dad who has not been known to read fiction since he was into Billy Bunter books. (Umm, I am assuming Billy Bunter was fictional?)

And it is no good. I can't think of anything else to moan about so I suppose I had better do what I am allegedly at the gym for - some exercise for body parts other than the two fingers I use for typing.

Apologies if I am slack with responding to any comments until the computer is back. I will do my best.

Monday, September 18, 2006

I wrote a bit a few weeks ago about my friends A and P spliting up. They have one daughter, a lovely girl who is nearly 12. She is very concerned about her mum. She asked her 'You 're not going to do anything stupid are you?' A was horrified that her daughter felt the need to ask such a question and said to her 'Darling, what on earth do you mean?' Her daughter replied 'Like start smoking.'

I regret to report that A has in fact returned to the evil weed after a gap of many years to help her through this crisis. It strikes me that when parents smoke these days it is often a mirror image of when kids did in the past - hiding down the garden or hanging out the window to smoke the thing, and then loads of polo mints to try and get rid of the smell afterwards.Certainly that is what A has resorted to.

On a sadder note A was telling her that her dad would always love her as he will always be her dad and that will never change where ever he lives. Her daughter said to her, 'But that's the point isn't it? He's not my dad.' She was born as a result of artifical insemination. Biologically P is not her father. A and P in accordance with current thinking told her this several years ago. I know we are all supposed to have 'the right' to know about our origins, but I do wonder if it is always so very great having that knowledge. Like the person in their 60's - parents long since dead- who is told he can't have a new birth certificate to replace the one he has lost as he is adopted, when it is the first he ever heard of it*. I also heard last week that as the new law says that anyone born through IVF has the right to know who their biological father is there has affected the supply of donors so drastically that there is currently just the one sperm donor in Scotland, and none at all in Northern Ireland.. Who exactly is going to be helped by this legislation?

* Individuals experience this every week of the year.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A rethink

I have been known to state that 'Life Is All Cobblers'. I am thinking of changing my philosophy to 'Life Is Not All Cobblers'. At least I bloody well hope it is not.

Last time I saw us win - April.

Number of points at home from a possible 15 - 1.

Number of goals we should have got today - 6 ( I kid you not).

Number of goals we did actually get - 1 - and that was scored after they had got 3.

Number of penalties we should have had today - 2.

Number of penalties they were given today in spite of not one single supporter or player for Tranmere appealing for it - 1.

Number of penalties given against us since we were last awarded one - 10.

Chances of us beating Millwall next week - nil.

Am off to slit my wrists. I may be gone sometime.

Not that I take these things to heart you understand.

I would kick my cat but if I am anything like our 'strikers' I would only miss.

Making an honest goat of her.

Far too many men love 'em and leave 'em, and I am sure these two will live happily ever after.

Friday, September 15, 2006

That's my man!

My eyes are drawn to the wiry striker. I watched as he took the ball on the inside past the defender creating the space where there seemed to be none. He was level with the goal, the angle for a shot seemed impossible but he curled it Beckham style into the back of the net.

He had the ball again, his back to goal. He flicked the ball up in the air and turned to hit it goalwards as it came down - back of the net again my son.

So it was all true. The guy can play! But as his captain said to me after the match -if I had arrived sooner I would have seen the dreadful misses he made too (not that I believe there were any of those). He also said Reidski (yes - like you hadn't guessed who it was!) is definitely their player of the season.

I should add that Reidski said to me that on no account was I to write anything about his storming performance last Wednesday night,but I don't think for a minute he meant that.....

he said I shouldn't mention the football either ;-)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

That Ofsted inspection

I know I have a tendency to go on about how wonderful our village school is. The inspection report will say that it is an extremely good school and in many respects an 'outstanding' school. I am really proud of what the school has achieved, but that is because I know what it was like five years ago.

Five years ago under another Head Teacher the academic standards were appalling and discipline was non-existent. My kids were all at the school. I became a governor and did some training in which I learnt what the children should be achieving - and then I saw what they WERE achieving at our school. It was a horrible moment, made worse because as the new girl on the governor block, I couldn't make any one else see that we were in trouble. Then,in one of those blessings carefully disguised, the previous Head went on long term sick, and was gently persuaded she should maybe put her own health before the 'needs' of the school.

If I never do anything worthwhile again in my life, I can look back and know that I played a pivotal part in the appointment we subsequently made for a new head. In the shortlisting the person who eventually got the job was not picked for interview as the powers that were said her application did not match the criteria. We did not appoint anyone from that first set of interviews. I vividly recall one candidate describing how he dealt with ill discipline by treating us to example of a child picking their nose - nice! I had been told about our present Head and how wonderful she was but I had n't met her. What I did do was ensure she knew why she hadn't got an interview on the previous occassion and made sure she knew she should PLEASE try again. This time she did get an interview and she was inspirational in that interview in the vision she had for our school.

Six weeks after she took up the job she was quickly offered we had an Ofsted inspection. We were at that time a failing school. However, such was the impact she was already having that we did not go into the dreaded 'special measures' but were given one last chance. Five years on we are 'outstandidng' and it is entirely due to the leadership and inspiration of this one woman who I admire more than anyone else I know.

Anyone who suggests I wanted her to get the job as I had been told she was a season ticket holder at the Cobblers is erh, astute. Yes, it was someone I knew at football who said how good she was. No, I had no idea how good she was at her job. But yes, how right they were, and it was a very lucky day for me when my friend at football stated talking about her friend the school teacher.

After we saw the inspector yesterday and he gave us the good news he said 'You can have a nice relaxing evening now'. The Head and I responded as one 'No we can't. We have a football match to go to.'

And as for the football -we drew one all. Can someone please remind me what it is like to watch your football team win a match as I haven't seen that happen since the end of April?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Good one Madrid.

At last some action on the subject of skeletal fashion models,
although apparently it is discriminating against those who gave us 'heroin chic'. Well, that is the kind of discrimination I find I can live with.

Unwelcome voice mail messages of my time

Received last Thursday. "Please ring school as soon as you get this. We have an Ofsted Inspection next Tuesday."

The new inspections designed for schools which are believed to be high achieving last just 24 hours. The clock started yesterday at 4.00pm when I went and met our inspector as chair of school governors. It felt like a job interview for which I was totally unprepared. I have no worries on the education and teaching side but if we get a bad report because the chair of governors is clearly a completely ill informed idiot I shall never forgive myself.

I shall be back in school at 3.45 this afternoon for the verdict.

In the meantime I shall be a bag of nerves.



Monday, September 11, 2006

The new countdown clock is ticking

You would not have thought that after my last visit to The New Den, home of Millwall Football Club, that I would have been in any hurry to go again as long as I lived.

In March this year Reidski took me to see Millwall play Luton. I reproduce below what I wrote at the time on the other blog:

For overseas readers like Joe, some background info. Fans of Luton and Millwall 20ish years ago were involved in an infamous football riot. This has contributed to Millwall supporters having gained a very bad reputation for hooliganism that has taken years to try and shake off. I haven't seen SO many police as I did yesterday since the miner's strike. Anyway, we arrived at the match. Reidski confidently predicting the worst thumping for Millwall of the season and me saying they would win, although not at that moment aware that they had only managed two home wins all season.

There is another little fact I should mention as it may have played its part in the 'terrible moment'. Luton's leading goal scorer is one Stevie Howard. He used to play for the Cobblers,and as far as I am concerned, there is 'Only one Stevie Howard' and I love him. This did mean, that although I was whole heartedly intending to support Millwall, there was just a slight risk of conflict of interest.

And on to the match itself, with a poor first half and
Millwall actually in the lead, although you could tell that the Millwall supporters who I was right in the middle of, had zero confidence that this state of play would continue (there was a clue to this in the way they kept telling their own players they were a collective bunch of wankers)(nothing if not observent,me). Sure enough, second half and Luton get a goal back almost straight away. I decide to be more vocal in my support, seeing as no other sod was bothering where we were sat.

My one and only consolation was that when 'Come on Luton' slipped out of my stupid mouth, it had at least been proceeded by encouragement for 'The Lions'.

Yes, I shouted for Luton whilst in the middle of all those Millwall supporters. It was not a horrible and terrifying dream. I really did do it. I blame the drinks in the pub. And Stevie Howard. And me being a complete and utter brain dead idiot. I can not even type this without going a deep deep shade of red.


Obviously, the subject only comes up incessently. When I wrote the above I couldn't even bring myself to tell anyone else what was very possibly the worse part of it all. When I did this I was sitting next to Reidski's boss who is a fervant Millwall supporter in addition to having a somewhat abrassive nature according to his many enemies in the right wing press. Not by any stretch of the imagination, my finest moment. Apparently he spoke to a colleague on the phone that night about the match and described me as seeming 'Somewhat confused.' It is still SO embarrasing.

And I am going to go again. To sit in the Millwall end. And they are playing my team.






I have promised Reidski I will sit quietly and will not give myself away as an ardent Cobblers supporter. I won't clap their lot obviously, but I see myself in role of 'woman who is only there to please her bloke and is bored to tears'. In reality of course I will be drawing blood in my hands as my nails dig into my skin to remind myself where EXACTLY I am. My own consoling thought is that if I am scared aboutthis - and oh yes, I am really scared about this, - Reidski will be more frightened still that I do 'A Luton' again. He really hasn't got over the last time anymore than I have.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

TV scheduling

for Autumn is perfectly summed up here by Dark Blonde. Very funny stuff.

Nunhead Cemetery.

Reidski and I had a walk this morning in Nunhead Cemetery. I had never heard of this place until I met Reidski. It covers something like 50 acres of woodland in the middle of Lewisham and it is a stunning place. His lad has announced that he wants to spend Halloween locked up in this place. I confidentally predict he wouldn't last five minutes. It is spooky enough on a sunny September mornng with its cracked Gothic mausoleums and obilisks, and 225,000 dead bodies buried within it. Once inside the gates you forget you are actually somewhere in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world, the only noises being made by the birds or by the airplanes which cross London every minute.

Today we found a newer part which included the graves of Australian and New Zealander soliders. So sad that those young men ended up buried so far from home, and yet comforting that they are in such a beautiful place and buried alongside colleagues. We also saw the monument mentioned in the link above to the eight boy scouts who drowned off the Isle of Sheppey in 1912 when apparently the whole nation mourned what was known as the Leysdown Tragedy.

If anyone is 'into' Victorian cemeteries there is more information here on the Friends of Nunhead Cemetery site, but if anyone in South London is looking for somewhere different for a walk, it really is a very special place.

Lunch with my ex.

Reidski was working yesterday. I visited him at his very posh office and then met an ex boyfriend for lunch. I have mentioned this particular ex before. He was my first real love. I was 16. We had an 'on-off' relationship for a few years before he finally acknowledged that when I used to accuse him of being in love with his mate Steve, yes, in fact he had been in love with his mate Steve. I hadn't seen him for years but he was at Nigel's funeral back in May, and seeing him again was one good thing to come out of the sheer awfulness of Nigel's death.

In the intervening years he has become a regular visitor to Thailand having had several serious relationships with Thai men. He has learnt to speak and read Thai, and hopes to live there one day. Anyway, he has been promising his mum and step-dad that he would take them out there for a holiday and finally tickets have been purchased for November. At first his mother was beside herself with excitment. Ian - for my ex does have a name - set about making arrangements in order that she should have the holiday of a lifetime.One of his former partners has a posh beauty salon in Bangkok so he arranged for her to have a day long pampering session there, hair, nails, massage etc. He related to his mum his plans for her and at first she seemed as thrilled as ever. As the weeks passed by however the enthusaism, he couldn't help but notice, seemed to have been replaced with a distinct degree of caginess and reticence. At first he tried to tell himself he was imagining it but as time went on and the date of departure got closer he felt he had to ask her if there was a problem so last weekend he visited her especially to try and get to the bottom of the problem.

A typical mum at first she hotly denied there was a problem but when pressed she finally admitted that she had ordered some guide books in order to learn more about Thailand before they travelled. She had been more than a little perturbed to read the section about Thai Massage. His seventy three year old mother had been worrying for the past two months that her son had booked her a massage in Bangkok with added 'relief'.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

blog stuff

Anxious wrote a very thought provoking piece on 1st Sept about what makes a popular blog. One of the things she highlighted was that often very widely read blogs have a particular theme and stick with it so readers know what to expect. She mentioned for example ex-pats (eg Petite Anglais) and sexually explicit blogs (like Girl With a One Track Mind), both read by literally thousands of people.

Last night I went over to Rob's place where I saw this piece of news which I had previously missed. So not only Petite but now The Girl as well have been 'outed'in the press solely because of their respective blogs. Petite lost her job due to references, however oblique, to her employment. The Girl is now having to face family, friends and ex -colleagues (apparently she can't get more work in the same field due to the revelations) and say, what exactly? "Yes dad, the bit about masturbation onthe plane was true but I made up the story about me and the two lesbians." That is not a conversation I would ever want to have!

It seems clear that whilst having a popular blog can ultimately lead to that book deal it can cause a whole load of trouble along the way. I continue to be shocked that people are losing jobs over blogging. Even very minor blogs can cause grief for the writer but they can also yield unexpected and very positive results - in my case love and new friendships. But I am no longer relaxed about blogging as once I was. I scrutinise everything I write to ensure there is nothing that could be used against me by anyone I may inadvertently have upset. That may sound pretty paranoid but as some of you know, I do have my reasons for being cautious.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Is there any week quite as stressful

as the one in which the kids go back to school in September?

Inevitably it begins with the 'shock' discovery that project work given in July to complete over the summer holiday has not in fact been started upon. Parental inquests are conducted, teenage excuses are made, threats are issued and sulks commence (on both sides) before the last minute school work is begun.

Then there is that horrible moment when you realise each one of your three children needs new school shoes. You mention this fact to the children and they say "And we also need..." and reel off a list as long as the legs on your 6 foot 5 inch son for whom you need somehow to find new trousers that will not end six inches above his ankles.

You weigh up the options. Is it worse to make more than one shopping trip by taking them seperately or to risk taking them all together? I now have the definitive answer to that one...taking them all together is worse. I know that because that was the option I went with.

I took them to the shopping mecca that is Milton Keynes. Within half an hour the two boys are sorted. They both go with the first pair of shoes they try on, and thanks to Gap recognising that some men do grow to the dizzy heights my two boys have reached, we also have trousers that fit well. My daughter needs shoes and a school bag. It still distresses me to recall that it was two and a half hours before she had even seen a pair of shoes she would contemplate trying on. By this time I would happily have paid good money for the least suitable pair of shoes for school Milton Keynes could throw at us just so she had something to put on her feet but it wasn't even that we were having inter-generational disagreements about 'suitability'. She simply did not like any of the shoes we saw. You may try to imagine how pissed off my sons, both trailing after us, were by this time, but you probably couldn't come close to the sheer degree of Pissed Offness from which they were suffering. And then at last... thank god...a pair were identified and purchased at speed. The fact that they were at least one size too big did not deter could be bought elsewhere and it was definitely worth it. Now if only by that time we had seen a bag she liked all would have been well but obviously she had seen no such thing. It is hard to believe, unless you have witnessed it, just how many bags in Milton Keynes are unworthy of my daughter's consideration.

So when essential school items are eventually bought you start worrying about how they will ever be able to get up on school mornings bearing in mind just how late they are all going to bed, never mind how late they are getting up in the 'morning' so you embark on a totally useless nagging programme. "You really must get an early night or you will NEVER get up for school in 5/4/3/2/1 (delete as appropriate) days time."

The Night Before First Day Back arrives and with it the parental demands that they get everything together in preparation for the next day so that we don't have to panic in the morning. You would think, what with this being my 13th first day of the school year as parent of a school child, that I would long since have grown out of imagining this might actually work in practice. Let's think. School ties? Check. P.E. kits? Check. Pens, pencils etc? Check. No, I admit the idea that my daughter, having taken off the bra she scarcely needs the night before would be unable to find it (or the other one she possesses either) a mere eight hours later, had not occurred to me but inevitably that was the crisis that hit this household with the force of a hurricane yesterday morning. In vain did I suggest that if she kept her school sweatshirt on, no one but no one would be any the wiser. Eventually I found the damn thing wrapped up in a tee shirt disgarded from the previous days wear, but not before I had given them all the "Why oh why oh why can't you lot get organised before leaving the house like I always do?" Where do they get it from?

There is absolutely no need for my children to learn that when I arrived at work yesterday I realised I had left my very essential work diary sitting on our kitchen table, or that in spite of remembering I was going to the gym straight from work I had not actually managed to pack my trainers with the rest of my gym kit.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Peter Rabbit

We are rather sad because my neice's beloved pet rabbit has died.

We are even sadder because on the second visit to the vet with said rabbit the vet said that when rabbit's get sick they tend to curl up and die quietly rather than fight back against the illness as (according to him) dog's and cat's do. And THEN the vet having told my sister it was basically hopeless charged her £90.00 for the medication he had provided. We are not entirely sure why he could not have mentioned it was hopeless on visit one which was made a mere twelve hours previously.

Peter died four hours after the second trip to the vet. We suspect it may have been from a heart attack when he heard how much the vet's bill came to.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Cookery Corner with a particular emphasis on Sun Blushed Tomatoes

If it wasn't for people googling 'sun blushed tomatoes' I seriously doubt if anyone would ever see this blog. It seems that not a day goes past without some poor soul ending up here in a fruitless (tomatoes are of course a fruit as I seem to recall from biology lessons back in the dark ages) search for a recipe that utilises sun blushed tomatoes. Those poor souls presumably feel somewhat cheated of a few valuable seconds of their life so I have decided to share that fabby recipe containing as it does 'sun blushed tomatoes'. Anyone who has the audacity to suggest this means I have nothing else to talk about today is of course correct. The addded benefit of doing this is that as there are clearly so many people searching for recipes containing sun blushed tomatoes that I might get my stats up to resemble something vaguely respectable...I am a blog whore ;-)

So I give you....Mediterranean Puy Lentil Salad

To serve 4:

250g Puy Lentils
2 tblsp olive oil
1 yellow pepper
200g feta cheese crumbled
fresh parsley
extra olive oil and balsamic vinegar to serve.

Cook lentils according to instructions on packet.
Meanwhile gently cook the chopped peppers in the oil for 2 minutes, add the SUN BLUSHED TOMATOES and cook for a further minute. Remove from heat.
Strain the lentils when cooked and add to yellow pepper mixture, stir in well, add feta cheese, season to taste and top with shredded parsley.
Before serving drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

And it really is tasty, tasty, it's very tasty.

And also, if I don't become the number one hit for sun blushed tomatoes on google after that lot it will not be for want of trying!

And another thing - I love starting sentences with the word 'And' having always been told at school 'one must not do that'.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The donkey story that could have ended a beautiful relationship

Anyone who visits Reidski's blog knows that he enjoys sharing quirky news stories. Most days I will receive a series of bizarre and/or funny stories, interspersed with more ordinary exchanges of the 'I will meet you at Euston' or 'Work is driving me mad' variety. From time to time I see a story first that I think he might like and yesterday I saw the donkey story (see below).

All I did was click on his name at the top of my in box, pasted the web address and pressed 'send'. And that was the moment I realised I hadn't actually read that particular e-mail from him yet, but what I saw - too late to cancel my e-mail - was something about how he had just discovered he owed a huge sum of money in unpaid council tax accumulated since he moved five months ago and that the council had declared they were sending in the baliffs. He was clearly, from my speed reading as my e-mail disappeared en-route to his desk, completely distraught.

So this meant that when he would have been expecting, if not a phone call from his loving girlfriend offering love and sympathy, then at the very least an e-mail saying how sorry I was, what he actually recieved was a story about a prize winning donkey. How considerate am I???

I am fortunate that after the initial shock my response must have caused, he decided it was very funny. And he got the tax problem sorted out too.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Congratulations to Bruno.

Good news from my former home town

The Swinging Sixties

as experienced in a village somewhere in Northants.

Yesterday was our village day and there was a photographic exhibition in the church with photos dating back to the late 19th Century. I was SO happy to see that the picture of me dancing at the village millenium party has been saved for the nation. But I loved this photo of the youth club in the 60's with the contrast between for example the guy bottom right of the picture and the guy in the top row with a pipe, next to the one with the bow tie. Where the woman in the hat - top row fourth from the left - fitted in one can only speculate. I can imagine her attempting single handedly to ensure that the nasty Swinging Sixties would not breach the parish boundary. On the other hand, I guess she could have been a 'right go-er' and I quite like that idea too :-)

They look like the cast of Heartbeat.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Everything changes

For over 25 years I have been securely established as a member of a very close and supportive circle of friends. We number a core group of eight of us who although scattered around the country meet regularly. All the children we have had between us have always been included in our get togethers and over the years we all got closer to siblings of our immediate circle too.

At the very centre of this group has always been A and P. They have been together since they were 16. They are both out going, generous and fun loving people. P went away to uni in Staffordshire where he obtained a decidedly average 3rd class degree in geology. A studied closer to home, but afterwards they moved in together and subsequently married. A has been the driving force who ensured we all saw each other regularly. Somewhere along the line P of the very average degree who beyond a very good humour had little exceptional to separate him from other men of his age, apart from his 6 foot 5 height, became phenomenally successful. Working for investment banks he earnt salaries I can’t even start to guess at. They enjoyed the money they had at their disposal but they were generous with it, for example during a period when they lived in the States sending me a ticket so I could visit them for a week, or taking all of our group including children to West End shows, concerts or international football and rugby matches. We spent every New Year with them, this year as last linking hands and singing Auld Lang Syne together with the certainty that these friendships were cast in stone and indestructible.

Yesterday I visited A. P has left her because he has fallen madly in love with another woman. P it seems has declared he and A have nothing in common. Further, she irritated him by making him ring his parents and by continually writing lists (A is nothing if not organised). A is left wondering if she ever knew the man she has been with for thirty years. For the rest of us it is like suddenly learning that night is in fact day. Of all the couples I know they seemed the ones with the charmed existence. I went to see her yesterday without any idea what I could possibly say but knowing being there with her was more important than any platitudes I might come out with.

One might suppose that dealing with this would be enough for any one day but in addition to P having upped and left I firstly learnt that another amongst the eight of us has been diagnosed with a very serious eye condition which is currently threatening her sight, and because clearly that is not enough bad luck to be going on with, the same woman has just learnt her brother (and friend of us all) has the same cancer which killed their mother.

So this other friend also came round. She regaled us with hilarious impersonations of the staff involved in her treatment at Moorfield Eye Hospital until the two of us were weeping with laughter. Then A told us that what was keeping her going was the knowledge that P who got irritated by being reminded he needed to speak to his parents on the phone had been forced to move in with them and was being irritated by them 24/7 and we laughed some more. And then we got a phone call telling us that another of our core group had just given birth aged 46 to a much longed for baby girl and so we celebrated.

Life’s rich tapestry.

Friday, September 01, 2006

New Age Nonsense

I am sceptical when it comes to claims for alternative medicines. I am happy for those who seem to have found natural cures for ailments, but as for me, if I have a headache I take paracetomol. And as for feng shui- well, don't get me started! So a couple of months ago when we were having a fund raising day at work for breast cancer I had not bothered to sign up for the offered reflexology sessions. However, on the morning concerned the fund raising organiser was panicing because she did not have enough people committed to the reflexology and as it was a) or a good cause and b)I figured it would be very relaxing having my feet massaged, I went along and had a 15 minute session.

Two months later I am still in a state of disbelief about what transpired. Firstly she immediately told me I have a problem in my right shoulder. I was absolutely amazed. I DO have a problem with my right shoulder...sort of anyway. I was completely unaware that I had one but my friend who I work out with at the gym is a physio and she spotted I have limited flexibility in my shoulder. Apart from her the only other person who has spotted the problem is my pilates teacher who is very 'hands on' and has identified this 'shoulder problem'. To say I was astonished when withing seconds of picking up my foot this reflexologist could tell me that is the biggest understatement I have ever made....and I am not generally given to under statements! I have been extremely lucky to date with my health only having had minor problems but in the space of that 15 minutes she spotted everything I have ever was able to tell me exactly where I hurt my back - seven years ago for god's sake, and she knew I had had pleurisy - that was nearly 15 years ago.

I told this story to my friend the physio. She told me that a student reflexologist was practising on her foot and was obviously worried about something. After letting her suffer for a few minutes she said to the student "It's can't find it because I haven't got one." And then she let me compare my foot to hers. Where I have a lump on my ankle she has a dip following the complete removal of her womb a few years ago. Weird huh?

Anyway, what all this is leading up to is that when this woman told me I needed to be drinking at least two litres of water a day I took her word for it and am now religiously consuming two litres of water a day. I feel so much better for it as well. I notice for example that I no longer get tired in the middle of the afternoon and it has occured to me that in the same way that kids at school are now encouraged to drink water all day to aid their concentration, it also works for me. But there is just the one problem so I was wondering....does any one know of any alternative medicine to stop me needing a wee every flaming half hour?