Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It was pretty poor timing for the season of good cheer

but the book I was reading and finished yesterday of a Christmas evening was a little short on belly laughs, seeing as how it was 'Schindler's Ark.' So whilst the rest of the nation was glued to which ever James Bond film was on yesterday, having finished the book I was looking up various Nazi war criminals to see what eventually became of them.

The sheer scale of what went on in my parents life time in Europe is too far beyond understanding (two million of the Holocaust victims were children), but where this book was really powerful for me was where it considers the actions of certain individuals...men like an SS guard at Plaszow who ensured a couple he had grown to know were on Schindler's list of workers destined for the safety of his factory at Brinnlitz, yet didn't apparently ask himself why if this couple were worth saving, the other Jews were not.

The book never produces a definitive answer as to why Oskar Schindler (and others like him who risked their own lives to save others)did what he did, although I did like the suggestion that he was by temperament an anarchist who loved to ridicule the system. A great example of this was his munitions factory which never produced a solitary shell, nor one single rocket casing. This in spite of being continually monitored by the Armaments Ministry, but thanks to the relentless trickery of his workers who would for example rig the temperature gauge of the furnace to read what should have been the correct temperature, whilst in fact the interior of the furnace was hundreds of degrees cooler, the factory always passed its inspections, and the inspectors would go away feeling sorry for all the terrible and inexplicable teething problems this poor man - Schindler - was experiencing in his factory.

So Schindler was later recognised as a Righteous Person - any non-Jew who saved Jewish lives in the second world war - and in 1962 had a tree planted in his name in the Avenue of the Righteous in Jerusalem. Righteous Person awards and medals have been given to the Norwegian and Danish resisters who helped Jews escape to Sweden, and to villages and families who hid, fed and helped Jews either to escape or to survive. By 1999 16,540 'righteous persons' had been honoured with this title. Over 5,000 are Polish, over 4,000 are Dutch, over 1,700 are French, over 1,200 are Ukrainian and over 1,000 are Belgian. 327 are German. 11 are British. People truly worthy of respect.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Christmas

to all 37 of you!

One thing about having a restricted log is that I know precisely how many readers I have, as it turns out the vast majority of my readers previously had indeed only popped in via google to read about sun blushed tomatoes.

Reidksi and I had a lovely Christmas Saturday together, and I am now the proud owner of the world's most beautiful watch...thank you darling!

Then I came back home yesterday afternoon and went to a family do at my cousin's house...where there had been a little bit of unpleasantness recently in the attic.

There is a ladder in my cousin's attic which is loose on its railings. A couple of weeks ago it was necessary for my aunt - house sitting for my cousin Penny who was at work - to take the TV ariel man up into attic. He realised on climbing into the attic that it would be helpful to have his tool box so he went back to the ladder, which as he climbed down came off its railings, and my aunt watching from on high saw the poor man hanging on to the ladder looking directly up at her through the rungs of the ladder from his fast moving downward and backwards position below her. He landed flat on his back and screaming in agony. No one else was in and my aunt was calling down to him "Mr Johnson, Mr Johnson - are you alright? I can't help you! I am stuck in the attic!" Some time passed before Mr Johnson decided he was in fact able to move and rescued my aunt from the attic. When he got downstairs he discovered Penny's dog had weed in his tool box. The satellite dish did not get fixed that day.

My aunt suggested to Penny it would be a good idea to get the ladder railing fixed as soon as possible, but naturally this was good advice that was soon forgotten. Although it did come back into Penny's mind when a couple of weeks later on a Friday evening she went up into her attic to bring some Christmas decorations down - and the ladder slipped off its railings again as she was just beginning her ascent clattering to the floor, leaving Penny to pull herself back up into the attic to prevent falling where she swiftly realised she was a)stuck, and b) quite quite alone save for her dog who was leaping around on the landing below - but frankly not being too helpful. Her two sons had gone to their dad for the weekend - it occurred to her she could be there all weekend without being missed.

She kept thinking about jumping - but kept losing her nerve. Then REJOICE! Carol singers came to the door.

Carol singers - "Hark the herald angels sing"

Penny - "HELP!"

Carol singers - "Glory to the new born king."

Penny - "HELP!"

Penny's dog - "BARK, BARK, BARK, BARK" thereby drowning out any chance the carol singers would hear Penny.

She eventually escaped by throwing things down onto the landing in a pile so that she did not have so far to jump.

She rang up her mum as she was in need of sympathy as well as a stiff drink.

"Mum!" she wailed "I've been stuck in my attic for THREE HOURS!!!!"

"When" asked her mother "are you ever going to ring me with good news?"



Oh - and the satellite dish still isn't fixed because when poor Mr Johnson came back again he disturbed a bees nest in the roof and got horribly stung. Rumour has it he is now undergoing intensive therapy as result of the trauma caused by having contact with my family.


Have a good holiday y'all!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Glengarry Glen Ross

Last night Reidski and I went to see this
superb David Mamet play
which is on in the West End and stars Jonathan Pryce. It had had nothing but excellent reviews and I had really wanted to see it, but guessed I wouldn’t get the chance as it finishes its run on 12th January, and Reidski already had tickets to see it with some others. Luckily for me however, he saw a really good offer for which we not only got the theatre tickets but also a meal at a Spanish restaurant in Covent Garden for £20.00 each.

The meal – tapas – was very good, but en route to the theatre we assumed we would have pretty average seats. On the contrary though when we arrived we were told we had been ‘up-graded’ – and in fact we sat at the front of the stalls. A real bargain.

But why was it such a bargain, and why were we up graded to better seats? Well although I would love to say we were up graded because of our wonderful charm and personalities, I have to say it was more likely to have been because the theatre was half empty, and would have been emptier still if last minute.com had not successfully sold so many of their dinner and theatre tickets. I recognised at least half the audience from the restaurant we had just been to.

It seems such a shame that a play of such high quality is not selling out every night of its run. It seems to be the case that all West End theatre goers really want is a musical – though not this one apparently which proves I guess that we do have a modicum of discernment when it comes to theatre going. (And I speak as a Madonna lover myself!)

Anyway, see Glengarry Glen Ross whilst you still can – this time next month it will be so gone man.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Vegetarians Gone Wild!! Armstorng and Miller

It's kicking off Pru!

I had

three tickets for The Kaiser Chiefs at Earls Court on Friday night. so what did I do with them? I gave them to my two sons and one of their mates. The question I am asking myself having spent most of the afternoon being shown truly brilliant clips of the exact same gig on You Tube is what in god's name made me give those tickets away????

I drove them down as a) it was so much cheaper than them all getting the train and b) it meant I could meet up with Reidski,his best mate from up North, T.N.R, and Mrs T.N.R. who are staying at Reidski's for a few days. The four of us went to what is our fave Italian restaurant in London. and had a great meal as always, but it was rather livelier than usual due I think to a new and inept waiter who somehow offended some regulars who left without eating, at which point it "All kicked off" * outside with lots of elderly Italians scrapping in the street including the manager (70 if he is a day) and his wife (kung fu leaps and everything! I exaggerate in the interests of keeping it unreal), and continued inside with the aforementioned new waiter being bawled out by the owner in front of a packed and frankly hugely entertained audience of diners.

Then I met the lads to get them home and they were just buzzing with the excitement of what had been their first 'major' gig, and I tried so hard to be more pleased that they had had such an ace time, than I was jealous sick although obviously I failed miserably.) I can't really remember my first 'major' gig as I don't believe Showaddywaddy(who I have just learnt are from Leicester - explains a lot, or Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon really count. They used to play the Sands Showbar which was my haunt for lack of choice in the mid 70's. I just tried to find a link to this, but instead got side tracked by this which is Elvis at The East Coast Pensioners Hall, Christmas Party 2007. I had to register with the site to see that, but I am sure if you do likewise you will have to agree it is worth 3 minutes 2 seconds of anyone's lifetime to watch that craziness. ( A vision of the hell that could be retirement!)



* Our current favourite saying is "It's All Kicking Off" thanks to the genius that is Armstrong and Miller (see clip posted above - just for a change it is not my spelling mistake in the title but blogger won't let me change it. There must be copyright on the typo or some such thing.).

Friday, December 14, 2007

Not Stuart Gray* then!

But this guy instead.

Last night Five Live Drive asked people to ring in with their suggestions as to what English phrases Capello needed to learn first. My personal favourite was "We can take a lot of positives from that defeat." ("Possiamo prendere i positives molto da quella sconfitta" being the Italian for this useful phrase.)

Any more offers?

* Spelling checked and double checked Martin!!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Advice that would have fallen on deaf ears.

Yorkshire Pudding put me up to this one, and it has been on my mind for a few days.

What advice would I give to myself aged 13, given what I know now?

My own daughter was 14 in October and I look at her and think how much more sensible she is than I ever was at her age. She seems really comfortable with who she is in a way that I, awkward and shy as I was, could only have dreamt of being. I think she has benefited from having older brothers and being in a mixed sex school, and therefore having a fundamental understanding that boys are just – well – people, rather than being the alien species I suspected them to be when I was just 14 and at the time in an all girls school.

She has not done many of the stupid things I had already done by the time I was her age - snog boys when I didn’t really want to but was more afraid of being called a lesbian if I refused, drink alcohol I didn’t actually like (rum and black – YUK!!!) , skip school because I would be called a wimp if I didn’t, hang out with ‘friends’ no parent would ever approve of because I was too scared of them NOT to try and be ‘mates’. And the reason I am confident enough to state she hasn’t done these things is that she also has the ability to talk to me about these things, which stupidly I never did, but sincerely wish I had done when I was younger, to my mum.

I genuinely wish I could have been more like my own daughter is now than I was at her age. I look back and wish I had had more confidence in myself and in my abilities. I would tell myself being clever was something to be proud of and cherished rather than hidden as something to be embarrassed about. I would certainly tell myself that mum was right when she said one day I would be pleased I was tall because I spent much of my early teens desperately unhappy that I was horrible and gawky against all my 5 foot nothing petite friends. Oh – and keep my hair short – long never did suit me as my mother always tried to impress upon me, and as photographic evidence proves.

I could obviously provide a list of men to be avoided at all costs, and suggest that volunteering for the Nelson Mandela March in June 1987 from Glasgow to London might have a fringe benefit of meeting someone really special – but if I did that I wouldn’t have the kids I have and I can’t imagine anything more terrible than that. Plus I could tell my 13 year old self that there is still much to look forward to when you reach your late 40’s – not that she would believe me – that’s fucking ancient!

I could also suggest some jobs never to apply for in the first place starting with Jackson’s Supermarket Trainee Manager in Hull – Worst Job in The World Ever!

What else to Young Gawky Jane?

Well…Strong advice to always hold on to your skirt when travelling on escalators could save future embarrassment of the ‘losing one’s dress in public’ variety.

Definitely travel more than I did before I had kids (but with care when on escalators – see above).

Life might be more pleasant if you could wean yourself off that stupid football team and pick another one who might actually win something from time to time (Not Tottenham!)


More seriously, put the effort in to keep friendships in tact, and show people who matter to you how much you love and value them. Two of my very best friends now are back in my life after a gap of far too many wasted years. And never ever for example say that you no longer care for someone in particular, as when two days later they have a terrible car crash and nearly die you will blame yourself thinking that had you never made the stupid remark as recorded in your diary at the time the accident would not have happened (illogical I know but …). Thankfully that person is both alive and kicking, and Reidski and I met up with him again recently.

But all in all – ‘Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again’ etc etc. I’ve obviously made mistakes along the way, but hopefully I have learnt from them and I think that mostly, you do need to find these things out for yourself - except for smoking where you will just have to take my word for how vile that is!

So Young Jane remember that it’s not all Cobblers – it is worth living – and to borrow another song title which you won’t hear for many years yet, ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’.


And now for God’s sake 13 year old Jane – Stand up straight and get your hair cut !!!!



It would be interesting to read what others would say to their 13 year old selves if anyone fancies having a go.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Apparently

the author of this article is single.

And likely to remain so I would say.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Our Service Sector

Reidski and I have had our fair share of crap service from miserable gits in the past few weeks as mentioned in his post Can't Shape Up which I can't do an exact link to for some reason. We are not alone if Katy Newton's experiences of trying to buy a cup of tea or trying to get a taxi
to London Bridge are anything to go by.

Very funny in the retelling, but both incidents coming one on top of the other, must have been SO annoying at the time.

Toff Pops Clogs

Count Gottfried von Bismarck, who was found dead on Monday aged 44, was a louche German aristocrat with a multi-faceted history as a pleasure-seeking heroin addict, hell-raising alcoholic, flamboyant waster and a reckless and extravagant host of homosexual orgies.

For those of you who inexplicably do not make a habit of reading the Telegraph obits this one is a classic.

A short life, but hardly dull.

Friday, December 07, 2007

When hassle comes

like troubles they don't come as single spies do they?

This morning I get a call whilst getting ready to leave the house from my son who announces he has run out of petrol. Naturally this means mum must drop everything and dash to the rescue. I get to him and provide the necessary juice for him to get to school, but then I noticed one of his tyres is practically flat. I impressed upon him the importance of getting his tyre changed as soon as he got to school.

I am by now a little pushed for time, so was not a happy bunny to find my back roads route of choice closed due to fallen trees (it was a wild and windy night round our parts.)So I go the way of all the other traffic - by which I mean I go extremely slowly - we crawled along but I still had half an hour to get where I needed to be at 10.00, and as it was ordinarily only a 10 minute drive I was quite relaxed.

Until the man in the inside traffic lane to me tells me I have a puncture. "What?" I asked myself "is it with my family and tyres this morning?"

I pull off on to what may once have been a grass verge, but is now a mud pit. I get out and sink ankle deep into the mud. I determine to be a capable woman and change the tyre myself. I fail miserably at the first hurdle when I can't even work out how the jack is supposed to work. Male assistance is summoned.

I arrived for my 10.00 appointment at 11.

On leaving my appointment I then got stuck in the traffic jams once again and a journey which should have taken 5 minutes managed to take nearly an hour. This can't happen soon enough. No wonder no one shops in our town centre anymore.

Anyway, what I need tonight is a drink.

And as tonight is Reidski's work Christmas party



I suspect getting one won't be a problem (or a drink ;-) )

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Things that go bump in the night

Haven't mentioned my crazy sister for a while so here goes.

Twas midnight, and all through the house not a creature was stirring ....but outside it was a different story.

My niece aged 10 was woken up by very loud banging coming from the back garden. She was terrified and shouted for her mum, who upon hearing what she described as incredibly loud banging was terrified too.

My niece was in tears and my sister did not dare go outside on her own to confront whoever was obviously trying at the very least to break into her house. She rang her next door neighbours and when they did not answer left a voice mail along the lines of "HELP!!!" She then tried the people who live across the road from her and they woke up and answered. She told them about the banging, but they said they could hear it anyway. They said they would be across to help. My sister on seeing their approach opened the door and at the same time her next door neighbours who had been disturbed by the phone and then listened to the message also emerged in their dressing gowns. (Did I mention it was cold and raining?)

There was no sign of any stranger around, and the noise had stopped. They all looked around but to no avail - until a cat suddenly jumped over the fence from the garden of the elderly lady who lives the other side to my sister. At this point the incredibly loud banging commenced again.


It was my niece's pet rabbit scaring the cat off.


Very effectively.

Obviously my sister's neighbours were not at all put out at being woken up and dragged out of bed to tackle a pet rabbit?????

They are terrifying though don't you think?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Arcade Fire

Remiss of me not to have mentioned that Arcade Fire were also totally stunning.

Interpol - Evil (live)

Beg, steal or sell your body to get a ticket to see Interpol live.

They were fucking tremendous, and it was when they did this track that I am reliably informed I went 'Mental'.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Grey for England Manager's Job

I can confirm today that Northampton Town manager Stuart Grey has not ruled himself out of contention for the vacant position as the next England Manager.

Stuart Grey would find it hard to resist a serious offer to become England's new coach. However, the Football Association will lose this popular supporters' choice for the job if they continue to procrastinate over talking with the Northampton Town manager.

In contrast to Fabio Capello, who on Friday spoke about his desire to take on the job, according to associates of Grey's, Grey has himself resolved to say nothing publicly until he knows the FA's intentions.


The FA are yet to contact Grey directly about the England position in the aftermath of Steve McClaren's failure to qualify for Euro 2008 and subsequent sacking. Though a number of individuals claiming to represent the governing body have called Grey's agent, to poll his interest in the position, all inquiries have been deflected as they are widely assumed to be a wind up.


Grey has indicated to family and friends that he is waiting for a senior member of the FA hierarchy to make direct contact and that he is also not prepared to wait indefinitely for the FA.

Noting that England's next international is not until at least February, Brian Barwick of the FA has said that there is no need to rush the selection process. Asked if there was a danger of missing out on a candidate of Grey's calibre by waiting too long, he said: 'The most important thing is that we get the right person. The length of time it will take will be the length of time to get the right person.'

Any resemblance to
this article apart from the grain of truth to be found either there or here is purely coincidental.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A repeat

I promised John a story about me and Reidski at a Swinger's Party - only first we are going to have to get ourselves invited to one. In the meantime though here is one of my favourite stories of Village Folk, which I wrote about before in the Other Place.


The joys of living in a small village where everyone knows everyone else.

On Saturday night (two years ago now, ed.)there was an engagement party in the village hall which turned nasty. This kid aged about 19 announced to a married father of four that he had been 'shagging your missus' and proceeded to share with him the details of how and when it was that he was shagging his missus. Said married father of four wasn't best pleased. Said married father of four was so displeased,and his response so 'physical' that the police were summoned,and he spent the night in the cells to cool down.

On Sunday morning they let him out and he started walking back home (eight miles) but the woman who owns the village shop was driving past and stopped to offer him a lift and he, rather foolishly, told her the whole sorry tale.

It seems that every Tuesday night for the last couple of years, this bloke's wife, Angie, has gone to the 'bingo' with Michelle. But it transpires, this was not exactly 'bingo' as we know it. What it actually was was a swinger's evening, hosted by Michelle, and advertised in various top shelf contact magazines. Angie was it seems, an enthusiatic partipant, as was the 19 year old spotty youth (yuk). Michelle lives in the neighbouring village, in the middle of an estate of semi-detached houses. One can only wonder what the neighbours made of the guests as they arrived in thigh length boots, or whatever one wears for these occasions. And on a slightly bitchy note, what on earth the guests thought when they saw their hosts (think 'Sean of the Dead,' and eliminate the living characters).

Of course, everyone in the village has heard about this by now.

A shadow of suspicion has been cast upon all the females of the village who have ever gone off to 'bingo', and an entirely new meaning has been attached to the word 'bingo' if the talk in the pub last night is anything to go by.*

Maybe this explains the spring in the step of the pensioners around here?

*And we still enjoy this story down the pub to this day. Though strangely Angie's husband never seems that amused by it - sense of humour by pass or what?

Don't mention the Autistic Society

It was a bit daunting when my supervisor and I arrived at the Conference yesterday. For a start, there were many more people than we had been led to expect would be there to listen to us. And then we couldn't find anyone we recognised. Worst of all, they didn't appear to be expecting us. Were we at the wrong venue and if we were, where the bloody hell were we supposed to be?

The answer to that last question turned out to be 'Downstairs.' Right place, wrong conference. We nearly found ourselves addressing the Autistic Society's A.G.M.

I do maintain that it is the kind of thing that could happen to anyone. (?)



(The rest of the day was a success.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

As if a speech at the village school wasn't enough

On Tuesday my supervisor and I are leading a conference in London on the difficulties involved with helping young adopted adults who have been through the care system and who want to find their birth relations again as they are legally entitled to do once they reach the age of 18.

All we actually asked for was the opportunity to discuss this issue with the leading researcher in adoption reunions, but one should know to be careful what one asks for. The researcher's very unexpected response was - "Yes of course, come and tell us all (about 100 fellow adoption workers) about the difficulties you encounter." I am fairly terrified.

But here is a strange thing. The only ever previous time I have been to the venue I will be speaking at on Tuesday I wrote in my then blog that I had been to London and Reidski made a comment that he wasn't speaking to me any more because I had come to London and not met him for a drink. At that time the only communication we had ever had was via comment boxes on his blog and mine but I had a bit of 'a thing' about him, and his comment gave me the nerve to e-mail him and say I'd have that drink next time. Well, when I go to the venue on Tuesday morning I will be leaving from his flat. Life isn't all Cobblers. Some times life is bloody wonderful in totally unexpected ways.

Where to start?

I really do not learn. The reason I left my first blog was because it got me into trouble at work - or rather because some anonymous cunt (yes, first casualty of me going private is my language) reported it to a director of the organisation I work for and he didn't exactly see the funny side. Since moving here I have strived to never mention my job, in spite of there being so many great/sad stories that I often want to talk about, but one good thing I think is that such restraint can now officially be lifted.

(Any reference to person or persons in this place will of course be made with identifying details altered.)

But let me start with a story about management because this is what we talk about every day at work with certain phrases being much employed in relation to it...'Disgrace'....'Scandal'...'Obscene'..and more in that vein.

This week a leaflet we send out to adopted parents and kids twice every year as a means of keeping them informed was rejected by our media and communications department, not because it was inflammatory, not because it brought the organisation into disrepute (my own particular speciality apparently), but because it was the victim of cost cutting. Never mind that not every one has internet access - they want it to go out on e-mail.

I am all in favour of our organisation not wasting money but I would approach money saving from another angle.

For a start, if my Chief Executive decided that he should jump before he was pushed and decided to take early 'retirement' aged 53, I would not send him on his way with a pay off of £297,000 (enough to pay 20 teachers for a year) and a guaranteed pension of £97,000 a year. Offensive enough, but at the time he went the organisation was looking to make approximately 800 job cuts by replacing all admin jobs with a Call Centre and a typing pool, (only we weren't allowed to call it a typing pool - it was officially a 'Professional Support Team' - where they would do all the typing).
This was the bright idea of a very well known company of Chartered Accountants - Price Eye Watering or something like that. For their knowledge and expertise at making people redundant, by which of course I mean making organisations more efficient, they have been charging our organisation (funded by local tax payers btw) £1.5 million a month. Me, I wouldn't spend money on bringing in consultants because if I was appointing highly paid directors I would expect them to be well capable of making strategic decisions themselves rather than bringing in others to do their thinking for them.

Our departed Chief Exec was very keen on the new plan and so was the man who covered his post when he went.

Our NEW Chief Exec upon appointment a month or so ago was not so keen. In fact so unkeen was she, she scrapped the plan. It was perhaps unfortunate that at that late stage the Call Centre and Typing Pool that was Not a Typing Pool had already cost £35 million, not including Price Eye Watering's fees. Still, at least the previously Acting Chief Exec did the sensible thing in his circumstances and cleared his desk that same day - his circumstances being that if he walked he took £97,000 with him which wasn't bad compensation for a Job Badly Done. Back to me and my cost cutting ideas - I wouldn't pay for failure but maybe it is only poorly paid people that get the sack these days?

Of course it isn't only failures in local government that walk away with huge payoffs, is itMr Steve McClaren?.

And don't get me started on the England players - Peter Crouch being the honourable exception.

There was never the slightest possibility I was going to be able to avoid the subject of England was there?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Justice

though not as we know it.

I do wish that we were a bit fussier about which countries we choose to call our very good mates.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking

- as in, I have never done it before.

In September this year our village school opened with the brand new extension we had fought for 7 years to obtain. Today we were having an open day to celebrate our wonderful new building. I, as chair of governors,was asked if I would say a few words before the ribbon was cut, and I said that was fine, assuming that I could turn up and say a few thank yous, safe in the knowledge that it would just be the kids at the school, staff and a few devoted parents, most of whom I would know. I was due at the school at 3.00.

So imagine my delight when one of the women who have been organising today rang me up at lunch time whilst I was still at work to check I knew what I would be saying. "Yes," says I, "I have a rough idea." And then as an after thought, "How many are you expecting?" "Oh", she says, "well I have had about 350 replies so far, plus the children of course, and not including the people we have invited as special guests like our M.P, councillors, Director of Childrens Services, the press...." I think she carried on listing people who would be there after that but I had died of shock and my colleagues were having to give me artificial respiration so I didn't quite catch all the names.

Why, oh why, oh why had I not long since prepared a proper speech?

Any pretence at work was abandoned as I set about doing just that. The only advantage in finding out what I was actually going to be faced with at such a last minute stage was that I didn't have time to get nervous. And even though some bastard sabotaged the microphone (or maybe it was knackered?) I did it. I didn't forget anyone I needed to thank. I didn't inadvertently insult anyone. I did however make some people cry, and a lot of them laugh. And people were really nice to me about it afterwards.

So today I did something I would never have thought I could do. And that feels good.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Paxman on another Owen.

If anyone was unfortunate enough not to see Jeremy Paxman's programme about Wilfred Owen there is an article by him about it here.

It must have been good because after I had insisted on watching it I found my 16 year old checking out some of Owen's poems.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Euro 2008

I heard Owen Hargreaves say this week that he hoped England would get what they deserve in the qualification stages for the Euro 2008 competition. Well I bloody well hope we DON'T get what we deserve as I would actually still like to see us qualify.

When this lot was pulled out of the collective hat - Croatia, Russia, Israel, Macedonia, Estonia, Andorra and England - not many England supporters could have anticipated we would be reduced to supporting sodding Israel on 17th November in order for us to have an outside chance of qualifying. Hang on though - surely I dreamt that we failed to beat Macedonia at home last October?

I didn't????!!!!


Oh shit - we really are that bad.

On the same day as I was starting to put in place my travel plans for Austria I was sympathising with Reidksi over the fact that Scotland had managed to end up in the same group as Italy, France, Ukraine, Georgia and Lithuania, though I did fancy they could get a draw against the Faroe Islands. And now there sits Scotland, second in a table that contains both the World Cup Finalists, with 'only' Italy to beat to ensure qualification. Respect!

Meanwhile a group of Austrian football fans calling themselves 'For the Love of Football' have launched a petition to get their own side (who automatically qualify as joint hosts) to pull out of the Finals. They complain that when the Austrian team are on the field "displays of true skill... occur about as frequently as meteorite impacts." Or also according to the guy I heard on the radio - "As frequently as an articulate comment from David Beckham." I like these guys already.


It's a Funny Old Game as I do not believe anyone has ever mentioned before.

Eastern Promises



Reidksi and I saw this last night...most of it anyway. We arrived too later for the first throat slashing scene, and I had to hide my eyes behind his hands for some of the seriously gory scenes. I thought the nude wrestling scene in Women in Love was quite risky until I saw the sauna scene in this film.

Not sure about the film really. Certainly it was a gripping film to watch, atmospheric, and Viggo Mortensen was very good indeed (though whether his character was is open to debate), but the ending was poor and cliche ridden, and whilst I can happily accept the odd huge coincidence in my reading or viewing, there were one or two too many of those in this even for me.

Still, a good evening was had. A drink and bite to eat in one of Northampton's better pubs first, followed after the film by a second drink here which used to be a dive used by 14 year olds and is now very nice indeed - although I was bemused to read in the link that it is in the heart of Northampton's theatre land. What bloody theatre land? Although in all fairness it is next to the fire escape of our one theatre complex so that probably counts in Advert Land.



On another subject entirely - what a good job I just yelled upstairs to enquire if my sons were in fact thinking of going to school today at all. Both sound asleep and supposed to be there at 8.55. Panic has just ensued.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Weekend

Reidski and I went for a walk in Hampstead Heath yesterday. We were up near the Golders Green end, and came upon just by sheer chance this beautiful hidden garden called the Hill Garden.

This is one of the beautiful plants we saw.




There was also an avery which was part of a conservation project for threatened birds. I am really 'into' birds since I was in South Africa. (Have I mentioned my trip to South Africa at all?) So though I felt a bit uncomfortable seeing these birds in pretty small enclosures, it did seem they were doing some good. For example, they have some red crowned cranes - there are now only an estimated 2,000 left in the wild. Part of the reason for this appears to be that they make crap parents. They get so bored laying on eggs that they wander off to find alternative entertainment. Result = no chicks hatch. But at Hampstead in the next door pen they have some silky hens - known for their maternal instincts, and so when a crane lays an egg they give it to the hens to care for. Neat eh?

Talking of neat and breaking my promise not to mention S.A anymore. We saw these nests



built by the male weaver bird to attract the ladiees. Only it has to be a damn good nest to do the trick. Often the female bird will take one look at the pathetic efforts of the male and will just go 'Take a hike loser - not good enough.' And she will expect him to make another one, and if necessary yet another and another before it will meet her exacting standards. The female of the species huh? :-)

After the walk we had a drink here, but having read what the link says about the place I am only surprised they let us over the threshold. Maybe they thought Reidski was in fact George Graham. They wouldn't be the first people to make that mistake.


In the evening we had the most fantastic meal at Chez Gerard which featured the best French onion soup I have EVER tasted.

Thoroughly recommended for a special treat.

Well my eldest is desperate to get on lap top so I will love you and leave you.

Over and out.

So funny

I think so anyway.

Like totally.

Brassed Off - En Aranjuez con tu amor

Watched this when I got back from seeing Reidski today. What a moving and beautiful piece this is.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday

I am sure that somewhere in my blogging past I have already reproduced some of the jokes from Mark Billingham books. For anyone who doesn't know, Billingham was a stand up comedian but now concentrates on writing crime novels about a detective called Tom Thorne. During the series of books an underlying theme is about Tom's relationship with his dad Jim. At first it is about his guilt that he doesn't see him as much as he should, then his feelings when his very bright father is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Two books ago his dad dies in an accident which is probably related to his condition. Now Tom is haunted by his dad in his dreams as he deals with his grief and loss.

I finished Buried last night. Part of the stuff about Tom and his dad have made me cry, but last night a dream that is recalled in the book just made me laugh. So here for a Friday morning are the jokes his dad was telling him about Alzheimer's:

"Do you know they have spent more money on developing viagra than they have on research into Alzheimer's?"
"That's terrible."
"You're telling me. I'm walking round with a permanent stiffy and i can't remember what I'm supposed to do with it."

"Alzheimer's wasn't all bad...you never have to watch repeats on TV, you can hide your own easter eggs, and you are always meeting new friends."

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Humm

As opposed to our match last Saturday, last night's match was one upon which I do not care to dwell. The men who were playing in our strip looked exactly the same as the 11 who started the game against struggling Bristol Rovers, but the difference was that this 11 could not play football. We were bloody awful and deserved what we got - we got beat. It didn't help my evening that I took along three Rovers supporters.

This week I have been an initially rather reluctant participant on a three day diversity and heritage course ( I had too much to do in the office to be able to spare three days going over stuff I thought I already knew). However I have to admit it has been excellent, and not only because one lunch was great Bangladeshi food, and another was even better Caribbean nosh. I often work with people who have been adopted into families that do not reflect their own ethnicity, and have frequently felt helpless as to how to help them deal with issues around their sense of identity, but the course has really helped.

One thing we had to do as an early exercise was to get into groups - I was with one white guy, a Bangladeshi woman, a Chinese woman and an African Caribbean woman. We had to produce a list of words used to describe people whose ethnic background is not white British. The words that we listed were mainly vile - although we had also to identify words which are not offensive - but whilst I hated the unacceptable terms we came up with as a white woman hearing them they are not directed at me. To be with a mixed racial group, the majority of whom would have felt the hatred behind such words personally was a very uncomfortable feeling indeed. How papers like the Daily Mail manage to make 'Politically Correct' such an insult is beyind me. Isn't it actually about simple humanity towards others?

On a lighter note Reidski came up to see me on Monday. I think we just laughed all evening. He's my best friend as well as the person I happen to be very much in love with.One thing we discussed was how a rock star avoids becoming a total prat. Most fail to avoid this as evidenced here,
and here, and here, and oh good grief - you don't even want to go here.

There was one person who we both agreed had not only avoided becoming a prat but had achieved a god like status, but if he hasn't yet seen the folly of this goatee I may have to revise my view.



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Monday, November 05, 2007

Stars of the Show Part 2

Sorry - is this cheating on my declaration not to post on South africa again? But I couldn't resist putting these photos up.







Sunday, November 04, 2007

Football team victim of daylight robbery

From our scene of crime correspondent:

Northampton Town yesterday put on a scintillating display of footballing skill, forcing the opposition, Southend United to defend for 88 of the 90 minute match. Northampton Town hit the post, hit the bar, and had ten corners to Southend's one. They were also - unbelievably in view of these previously referred to statistics, awarded a penalty for handball. It was perhaps inevitable as the team have had no opportunity to practise penalties since the dawn of time, that when the penalty was taken the ball hit the inside of the post and came straight out again, only then to be kicked wide of the goal.

Northampton Town failed to convert any of their numerous goal scoring opportunities, as an invisible force shield protected the Southend goalmouth.

On the other hand - Southend used their one and only corner to score the only goal of the match.




Games like yesterday's make me want to SCREAM.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The stars of the show

Probably time to draw a line under my trip to South Africa although you will have to excuse the occasional lapse into "When I was in South Africa blah blah."

I have come away with an enhanced appreciation of wildlife and have found myself paying much more attention to our native trees, plants, birds and wildlife than was the case before I left. I think in particular the trip has got me interested in birds, although I don't suppose I am likely to spot four different varieties of eagle round here as I actually did last week.

I am also more aware of how dangerous animals can be. We were told the most dangerous on the reserve to humans were probably the buffalo and the hippos which kill more humans than any other South African animal, but a ranger was killed there four years ago by a crocodile. His dog got into trouble in the river, and he tried to rescue it...unfortunately that was the last thing he ever did. Our ranger told us the only animals which hunt humans as natural prey are crocodiles and polar bears. (We saw the former, but oddly enough - not the latter.)

So here are a few more pics of some of the animals I saw. There were many others - rhino, hippos, wildebeest, a serval which was rare and far too camera shy to stick around and pose, a white tailed mongoose, monitors, various types of antelope, tortoise, turtles, LOADS of different frogs and toads (noisy buggers they were), and we did see a croc too. And I can't believe I haven't already mentioned this but I held a bloody great big millipede - bravest moment of my life!

Sorry to have gone on at such length, but it really was an experience of a life time.


THE VIDEO WORKS!!!! HOORAY!!!!

So video





Thursday, November 01, 2007

Steve Bell in the Guardian



is spot on with this.

I've had a piece of good news

I got a call from a policeman in Essex.

Going back to March this year as mentioned here, I had my handbag stolen, and as a result of that I ended up as yet another victim of identity theft, with mobile phone contracts and store credit cards being taken out in my name here, there and bloody everywhere.

Well what the nice policeman told me was that they arrested a woman who was caught trying to use a stolen card, and upon searching her found many cards which were clearly forgeries, and several cards which appeared genuine,one of which belonged to me.

She is well and truly nicked.

And I am just SO delighted.

I bet

no one will ever notice I am at home ill again with sod all else to do.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Right now I should be

in Nottingham watching Arcade Fire, but I have been home all day with a hacking cough, and had to give my ticket to someone else as I felt too ill to go. This would be considerably worse than it already is if I did not also have a ticket to see them in London with Reidski in a few weeks time.

So, I was away with Mr Gullible who would believe anything.

Ranger: "Yes, the hippos come out and night and hunt the impala."
Mr Gullible: "Will we have the opportunity to see that?"
Ranger: "Unlikely."


Ranger: "See that huge ostrich nest up in that tree?"
Mr Gullible: "Are there any ostrich in the nest right now?"
Ranger: "Unlikely."


And I was also away with Mrs Very Confused.

Mrs Very Confused to us all one evening: "It's amazing isn't it to think of crocodiles climbing trees and jumping over the electic fence?"
All of us: "You what?"
Mrs Very Confused: "Yes, till the Ranger told us that I never realised they mated in trees."
One of us for whom the penny drops and works out where the hell Mrs Very Confused is coming from: "He was talking about leopards not bloody crocodiles."
Mrs Very Confused: "Oh yes, that does sound a bit more like it."

And finally for now I was away with Ms Dizzy Teenager.

Ms Dizzy Teenager: "I have never been to Africa before. (- pause for breath -) Morrocco was horrible!"
Father of Ms Dizzy Teenager:"How much do I have to pay you not to utter another word?"

Lions

We did actually see two caged animals on the reserve - they were lions who have been given to the reserve. It took six grown men to move the sedated lions when they arrived by helicopter.

There are currently two adult male lions who have lived on the reserve since birth - aren't they beautiful?





They are brothers who will be shortly sold to a neighbouring reserve and the new lions will be released. The resident lions are about seven years old, but need to be moved out as a) there would be a blood bath if the two pairs of lions got at each other, and b) the gene pool of lions on the reserve will be weakened if the cubs all have the same fathers.

Because of the arrival of the new lions we did not see any lionesses who had sensed the incomers and were hiding out in the mountains to protect their cubs.

Stand by for the educational bit as nicked straight from Encarta:

Lions are unusual among cats for their habit of living in groups. A pride consists of 2 to 12 adult females and their cubs. All of the females are related: sisters, mothers, aunts, and cousins. Born into a pride, a female will stay in it for life, although a large pride may split into smaller ones. Pride females care for cubs together, hunt and eat together, and aggressively defend their hunting grounds and water holes from other prides. Equally important, pride females must often defend their cubs from groups of males.

Unlike females, male cubs are driven from the pride when they are between two and four years old. If they are lucky, they leave with brothers and cousins; if not, they team up with unrelated males. These groups of two to six males are called coalitions. The goal of a coalition is to join a pride of females to mate and have young. This usually involves chasing off the coalition currently in residence with a pride, although resident males do not leave willingly. Bloody combat may take place, with the larger of the competing coalitions generally winning the pride.

These periods of change spell trouble for pride females and their young. When new males take over, they try to kill the cubs, which were fathered by males in the ousted coalition. Statistics show that invading male lions kill as many as one-quarter of all lion cubs. When a female loses her cubs, she is willing to mate sooner with the new males. However, females vigorously try to defend their cubs. One on one, a female lion is no match for a much larger male lion. But by fighting together, pride females are sometimes able to save their cubs.


Horrible to think the cubs on the reserve are currently under such a threat.

We had two trucks as there were so many of us. My sons were on the other one to me, and they went up to see the new arrivals, just at the resident lions were demonstrating just exactly who they thought were the kings of this piece of jungle. Apparently they were acting very aggressively, and in very close proximity to the truck. They were told not to move an inch, or utter a sound whilst this was all going on.

And for once I understand my lads did exactly what they were told!

Strictly Come Dancing : KENNY LOGAN : 27/10/2007

To quote the judges Kenny Logan is here 'Displaying all the grace of a vacuum cleaner.'

My excuse

for writing that I was close to the Pacific coast when in fact I was many thousand miles away from the Pacific coast is the hours I have been keeping. We flew out on the Sunday night - an 11 hour flight - and although clearly some people around me have mastered the art of sleeping on a plane, I have not.

We got to the reserve, were greeted with a glass of champagne, and had lunch here.



(I am so subtle aren't I? Note my reluctance to say that where we were staying was the most luxurious, beautiful place on earth. I may not have exactly visited every other luxurious place on earth - but how could any where surpass where I went????)

After lunch we went on our first safari, and after that it was dinner, and bed....for four and a half hours as each day we had to get up at 4.30am, which to a British body clock was 3.30am.

Upon returning from the morning safari, and after having brunch in the forest, whilst most of the others were sensible enough to go and kip for the afternoon, the lure of a swimming pool and sunshine was far too great to allow me to follow their example, and I spent that afternoon in and out of this pool.



(I'm in that photo - let's just pretend I am the most gorgeous one there and leave it at that.)


High tea was served at 3.30, and at 4.00pm we went out on our evening safari, getting back just before 9, for dinner again. Whilst getting ready for dinner that evening however we had a visitor in our lodge which was not to prove conducive to a good night's sleep. My daughter suddenly screamed. Such a scream of horror can to me mean only one thing - huge spider - but in fact this scream, quite unusually, meant 'Bushbaby on side board!'



And very sweet it was too, but whether we wanted it in our lodge was somewhat open to debate. H was yelling to me to get it out, but as by then it was swinging around the roof rafters that seemed a case of easier said than done, and I had to resort to suggesting that as it had got itself in, it was most probable that by the time we returned from dinner, it would have taken itself out. As we left and shut our outside door, a second scream from H who had just put her hand on a dung beetle.

Now we did see lots of these fascinating creatures beavering away with assorted rhino and elephant dung, but weren't so enamoured that we would necessarily want to take one home as a pet. H was somewhat perturbed by her close encounter.

We went to dinner, and upon our return, H went to the bathroom (excellent - excuse to show photo of the bathroom!)



where upon she had cause to scream again...a bloody great big frog sat right next to the toilet. And if I tell you that our friendly bushbaby had not departed from our lodge, and that by this time H's nerves were shot to threads, you may appreciate that we did not spend much of the allotted four and a half hours remaining before we had to get up, actually managing to sleep. Up we got at 4.30 am.

Wednesday following an amazing thunderstorm the night before the weather had drastically changed, and when I got back from the morning safari I spent the afternoon walking with an armed ranger rather than sleeping. We were even later to bed that day because we had a Zulu night where locals came and gave us a fascinating taste of their culture, which has resulted in me developing a further obsession - the Anglo-Zulu War, and in particular The Battle of Isandlwana before which the Zulu's are said to have run 80 kilometres bare foot to reach the site of the battle, at which they defeated the British forces.

After dinner and bed,up again five minutes later at 4.30.

Thursday afternoon I did drop off to sleep for an hour, but woke in a panic thinking it was 4.30 in the morning and I had to be up, and then having worked out it wasn't, thought that it was my last full day in Africa and I didn't want to waste it sleeping so I took myself off to read some of the reference books they kept there. Late last night, followed by - yes, up at 4.30am.

Getting on the plane home for another 11 hour over night flight I did think that at least this time I was going to sleep, but what with a 6 foot 4 inch son leaning on me to my right, and my daughter fast asleep leaning on me to my left, and precisely one inch of spare leg room for me in the middle and not wanting to disturb them...Did I sleep? Did I hell as like!

But yes, although my intellectual ability is shot to threads as a result of my lack of sleep, and I am unable to distinguish between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, I do maintain that it is practically sinful to sleep rather than live each moment of such an experience to the full - and one can't do that if one is sound asleep.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Elephant Encounters

Right, my current obsession is with elephants.

This link is a picture of an Indian elephant. Here is a picture of an African elephant who wasn't in the best frame of mind when we met him.



Look at the ears. It is said that an Indian elephant has ears in the shape of India, and an African elephant has ears the shape of Africa. I can see where they are coming from with that.

Our ranger told us loads about elephants. He does believe they never forget. When we were out in the jeeps we were told we must not stand up when an animal approached us, but on one occasion when an elephant was sniffing around the jeep, the ranger told us a woman stood up and took a picture which flashed and scared the elephant away. A few months later she was back and again out on safari when they encountered the same elephant. Once again it walked around the jeep looking at everyone aboard, but when it came to the woman who had previously frightened it, it took one look, trumpeted in terror and charged away.

The ranger also told us that when an elephant dies and his herd passes back by the remains, they stop and examine them, and then take some of the bones with them, as though they are mourning.

We were out one morning when through a clearing emerged a very pissed off young elephant, aged about 18. He trumpeted when he saw us, and it was definitely a 'Mess with me at your peril' sound. It then stomped around the jeep and seemed to be going away. Only then he changed his mind and came back at us and stood right behind our truck. He started stamping on the ground, shaking its ears and positively bellowing in fury at the interlopers on his patch. We couldn't move at that moment because it would have taken a face full of diesel fumes which wasn't best guaranteed to improve its teenage strop. After some minutes of this stand off it stepped back a few paces and our driver took the opportunity to hit the accelerator. Then to misquote Shakespeare it was a case of 'Exit, pursued by elephant.' It bloody well charged after us for at least a kilometer. They can't half shift. Another experience I am unlikely to forget.

As was the moment when we were all having cocktails in the dark when the rangers told us to move back into the jeeps straight away whilst they took out their rifles and aimed them at the two enormous elephants which emerged out of the dark to drink at the dam where we had been standing drinking just moments before. After all is said and done, they are powerful creatures and tragedies like this one can happen.

And as for the farting elephant....oh gawd! You would have had to be there to fully appreciate the full horror of that one. First of all a sound that was vaguely familair (I do have teenage boys), and then a truly horrific smell whilst some metres away an elephant was looking rather pleased with itself.

But apart from hormonal elephants, most of the ones we saw seemed very amiable and relaxed and some of them were really very cute indeed.

This was where I had breakfast last Tuesday morning

An aside that is unrelated to Africa.

Chatting the other day at Sunday dinner with my family all round, I described a woman I know as heartless. "How does she live then?" enquired my 10 year old niece - not unreasonably I suppose.

Where we were

I am going to try and describe the place we stayed. We were in Kwa Zulu Natal province, five hours drive east of Johannesburg, and about an hour and a half's drive from the Indian Ocean* coast. We could see mountains which are in Swaziland from our reserve.

The reserve itself was 32,000 acres. For those like me to whom that means nothing, whilst we were there we went out on 8 drives of at least four hours each - and every time we went into new areas. Next to The Kruger which is the size of Wales it is pretty small, but given that the 17 of us had the place to ourselves apart from the people who worked there - 30 at our lodge, and 40 at another one the other side of the reserve - it seemed plenty big enough!

From images of Africa I had seen I thought the area would be flat, arid and fairly short on trees and bushes but as these photos show, I didn't get that quite right.

















In the reserve live many elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs, crocodiles, hippos, rhinos, buffalo, giraffes, zebra, wildebeest, warthogs, jackals, umpteen varieties of antelope, and very many smaller mammals, reptiles and insects. They have recorded 420 different bird classifications within the reserve. The spring flowers were starting to emerge, and the scents are incredible - the wild honeysuckle I smelt there was the most beautiful perfume I have ever encountered. Mind you, being down wind when an elephant farted wasn't quite such a pleasant experience, though equally unforgettable!

The animals are wild. That sounds obvious, but what it means is that every sighting is a privilege, and one never knows when, or even if, one will happen. One morning we had been out for nearly four hours, up in the mountains, and were returning to our lodge for brunch. We had seen breath taking scenery, but it was mainly dense vegetation which made seeing animals difficult. We came upon a clearing and there in the middle of it was a beautiful female cheetah. It was one of those moments which made one gasp out loud with sheer delight. And then it got better. We saw another one sitting behind us, bolt upright just like any old domestic cat, and so our ranger turned the truck round so we could get a better view, and that was when we saw that there were four cheetahs altogether. A mother and her three young ones (about 18 months old). It was such a moving experience to suddenly encounter this family that I had tears in my eyes.



They were waiting very patiently for dinner to arrive, and entirely untroubled by our presence, sat and watched the undergrowth. Apparently the mother would not yet trust her young 'uns to get the grub, so the kill when it came would be down to her. It was a strange feeling watching them. Part of me wanted to see her shoot off at speed to secure what had to be secured, but a bigger part of me wished very hard not to actually witness any kill. In the event our own hunger overtook the desire to watch her deal with her hunger, and we came away before we were faced with nature in the very raw.



I am sorry the quality of this photo is not better - hopefully I will get a better one from one of my friends soon, but in the meantime I hope you can get an impression of these beautiful animals from the one here. Double click on it for a bigger image.

* Corrected from earlier stupid mistake - I blame lack of sleep!

AND OI! BLOGGER! WHAT THE BLOODY HELL HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY PHOTOS? THEY WERE HERE EARLIER.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

In to Africa

Sadly I am now Out of Africa, but am still on Cloud Nine following what was truly an experience of a life time, or more accurately, a series of experiences of a life time.

We had two little planes out of Johannesburg airport between the 17 of us, and as the other plane touched down first, this is a picture of my arrival in the game reserve where we stayed. Good air port eh?



Any fear I may have experienced on that tiny plane was obliterated by the very pressing distraction of a desperate need for a wee. Therefore upon touching down I was pointed immediately in the direction of the toilet - the nearest thick bush. Under the neighbouring bush lay a warthog.



That is not a picture of the warthog in question, which is currently under going extensive therapy for the trauma sustained by seeing me relieving myself(for which relief much thanks) in such close proximity to itself.

We got into our jeeps then to set off for the lodge where we were staying. Five minutes along the track (we didn't travel on anything resembling a road the whole time we were in South Africa) we met this little beauty.



It was one of the most incredible moments of my life: rounding a bend and suddenly being right beside an enormous elephant. When I was imagining what the safari would be like I thought it would involve, if we were lucky, sightings of animals away on the horizon. I was wrong. And I am ruined for Woburn Safari Park for life.


More, much more, to come on my past week. You may wish to avoid this place for a while.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

O.K.

Tomorrow I will be on an over night flight to Johannesburg. Then until Friday I will be staying here, until Friday night when I will fly back home again to land at some god awful early hour on Saturday morning. Reidski has asked me not to ring the minute I land. And I don't blame him.


I still don't believe this is really happening, but thanks to the incredible generosity of my very very good friend, a group of 17 of us are South Africa bound. Could be we will take quite a lot of stick if the inevitable happens at the end of this little match.

I remember when I would starve rather than purchase a South African apple. And here I am jumping up and down with excitement because I am actually going to visit that country.



Bit worried about the necessity to wee when out on safari now I have seen this...

South Africa is home to numerous snake species : Puff Adder, Horned Adder, Many-horned Adder, Black Mamba, Green Mamba, Snouted Cobra, Mozambique Spitting Cobra, Boomslang, African Rock Python, Eastern Tiger Snake, Rinkhals, Southern Vine or Twig Snake to name but a few.

Anyway, back soon. Hopefully not with the tale of how my bum came to sustain a snake bite.

What are they saying here?

Reidski has had several happy birthday texts today.

He has had 2 x 'Happy birthday you chube.'

1 x 'Happy birthday you twat.'

and 1 x 'Happy birthday you cunt.'

The last one was from one of his brothers.

Good job I like him.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Down in London SE14

to hopefully help Reidski have a good birthday tomorrow.

Right now though, getting a bit drunker and playing music very loud.

Reidski? Well at this moment he is washing up the pots and plates from the dinner he cooked.

No wonder I love him!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What the bloody hell is wrong with some women?

"I made a commitment to this person. I moved closer to be near him. I was horrified to find out I was not the only woman in his life. I was so deeply involved with him.

I don't know why I felt the urge to write to him, but I did."



And this fucking stupid woman is on tele at the moment talking about the man she fell in love with during an exchange of letters she initiated - with
Peter Sutcliffe.

Artist Sandra Lester began writing to Sutcliffe in 1990 while trying to come to terms with the abuse she suffered as a child.

She read an article about him and decided to "extend a Christian hand of support". After exchanging letters daily for a year, she believed she had found lasting love with the killer.

And according to this article she was not one lone lunatic who 'felt the urge' to write to a man who killed at least 13 women and attempted to kill at least a further 7. Oh yes, one could really see how a woman might be drawn to communicate with such a man.

As one woman who still has vivid memories of the sheer terror the Yorkshire Ripper caused all women living in the north of England in the days before he was finally apprehended, I refer back to the title of this post.

Well

I have decided that when we decide to play in both half's of a football match this season we will be fine. And I don't think this score line was a fair reflection of last night's televised (did you see it?) match.

Yorkshire Pudding has mentioned my tardiness in getting rid of my countdown to the smoking ban clock. What I might do is start recording the number of days since we last had a penalty. In the past 90 games we have been awarded 2 penalties and have given away 19. During last night's second half alone Luton's Matthew Spring scored two penalties to add to the other four he has taken this season. And it isn't that we don't get decent shouts for penalties - last night alone we could have been awarded 2 and Luton could not have complained.

One of those 2 penalties we were given was for handball, so this means that according to referees, a Cobblers player has only been fouled once in the opposition area once in the last 8,100 minutes of play. (Just call me Stato.) But what tends to happen when one of our players gets brought down in the area is that our player gets booked for 'diving' and the offending side is given a free kick. So what do we have to get penalties? Take diving lessons? Or play Cheltenham?

It so happens that the only two penalties we have been awarded in the past 18 months were both against Cheltenham......

who it so happens we play on Saturday.


One of the many daft things about being a football fan is that hope springs eternally.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I have lived in two of the places

named here as the Worst 20 places to live in Britain. Specifically I have lived in Hull (No 2) and Haringey (No 18). Additionally my dad's family come from Stoke (No 13).

So lots of offence taken.

As Lisa from Nottinghamand Steve from Manchester would no doubt agree - what a load of rubbish...and I am not talking about the towns on the list.

But still on the subject of rubbish, as Reidski pointed out - check out the article to the right beginning "We married our dads." Good grief!

Can I buy some courage on E Bay?

I’m not generally too bad when it comes to flying. O.K. - I admit that I don’t like taking off, and I don’t like landing, and I don’t like any turbulence. The thought of an 11 hour flight to Johannesburg from London in economy with my long legs isn’t great. Oh, and I am not as a rule too keen on airplane food either – but apart from that fairly extensive list – I’m not too bad when it comes to flying.

I was however a little nervous as the plan was to take an 18 seater plane from Johannesburg to the place where we will be staying. THAT had freaked me out a bit. Then we all got a message from the holiday company to say that:

There was an incident recently at the landing strip at the reserve and it is now closed for maintenance, scheduled to take 2-3 months. The knock-on effect is that you will now have to land at an alternative site, approximately 15-20 minutes from the reserve. That in itself is not a problem but, the alternative strip cannot accommodate the size of plane you had originally booked. Therefore you will now have to take 2 planes from Johannesburg; an 8 seater and a 12 seater.

Here is a picture of an 8 seater plane I have just found.





It doesn’t look very big does it? And what on earth do they mean by saying there was ‘an incident?’ Or would I rather not know?

So anyway, the good news is that I am no longer a little nervous about the plan to take an 18 seater plane. The not so good news is that I am frankly petrified at the thought of flying in an even smaller one!

Before setting foot on such a minature flying machine mine will be a Very Large Gin and Tonic indeed; for purely medicinal purposes you understand.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

What's (been) going on?

Well I am just about over the joint birthday disco my daughter had with a friend whose birthday is close to hers.

Last Sunday evening I was invited round to the home of R's rich daddy to discuss arrangements for the party. R is an obscenely spoilt young person. I had agreed in advance to pay half the cost of the disco hire. I was asked round to discuss what food we should get. I said my mum and I would make sausage rolls and cakes. I then said I was skint and did not think that at these things the kids bother about eating. By making such a statement I was ignoring the bleeding obvious which is that R bothers about eating very much. And eats very much. And weighs far too much. I had earlier in that week had the horrendous experience of taking H and R shopping for the matching outfits they had decided they wanted to wear at their party. H is stick thin. R isn't. Trying tactfully to find something that suited them both was, to use a word we social workers resort to when faced with any kind of nightmare situation, 'challenging'. We found something eventually, but within the next three days R's mum brought her not one but two further outfits for the party to add to the one she had bought when out with me. H and R did not in the event wear the same thing, as H was quite happy with what she had bought in the first place.

So back to the food. R was there and set about producing a food list that would last the whole of Northampton should we ever need to take to a nuclear bunker for a 12 year period. I'm thinking "I did make it clear I am broke didn't I?" and also "R's dad isn't stupid enough to buy all that lot is he?" Not sure about the answer to my first question, but the answer to the second one is an unequivocal "Yes he is that stupid." I was absolutely mortified by the truck loads of supplies that arrived, including to add to my annoyance, sausage rolls and cakes - bloody horrible shop bought ones mind but all the same......

R's dad does something to do with window dressing for very posh stores like this one in New York, and so he also provided fabulous decorations for the village hall.

P's dad's new girl friend told me, in between deciding I was her bestest friend in all the world - I had met her that night* - that he had spent over £700 on the party. This made my £50 towards the disco (plus costs of surplus to requirement home made sausage rolls and cakes) seem rather tight fisted.I did however manage to resist the inclination to insist upon paying half his costs. And as I had said in the first place, the kids (except R) were not interested in eating and nearly all of it was left over (although me and my mum's sausage rolls and cakes went...just thought I would mention that ;-) )

So obviously anyway R was bowled over by her father's incredible generosity and kindness. Or rather, no she wasn't and over the course of the evening had at least three tantrums and told him to "fuck off and die" in front of everyone. Such a delightful young lady.

H had a nice time which is all I really care about.

Incidentally, there were plenty of 10 year olds there at the party as well as the 13/14 year old school friends of H and R. How any bastard can profess to think a 10 year old is actually 16 as in this case is just a sick joke. Even the most Britneyish young teenager at the party did not in any way look 16. The increased four year sentence is still a disgrace and an invitation to other paedophiles to rape kids. Back to trivialities......


Reidski and I have recently seen Atonement, and were glad we had both read it first. Actually, I thought the way they got round the twist in the book at the end was very cleverly done. And I want Keira Knightley's green dress! We also saw Michael Clayton which was an edge of the seat thriller, although all around us people were walking out throughout the duration of the entire film - bizarre behaviour, which reduced us to fits of giggles by the time the fourth set of people disappeared. We went to see The Editors play Brixton which was great,and also saw an
Alan Ayckbourn play
which was fun.

And we have both individually this weekend watched lots of sport. Strangely the result over the weekend I was most happy about was this one. Is the man brain washing me I wonder?




* Where did he find her? She is completely and utterly insane and deserving of rather more detailed description another time.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Anxious? Moi?

Now I may in passing have mentioned that I am going to South Africa soon.

Yes I know - apologies for mentioning it at every available opportunity. But maybe because it is such a big deal - as in - once in a lifetime experience - I am getting a little anxious about it. Well I certainly am if my dream is anything to go by.

So in the dream we are there and I think that through thick fog I see a giraffe. It is when someone tells me I am pointing at a dog that I realise I have left my contact lenses at home and therefore will not be able to see any animals whilst out on safari. Then it started to snow. My friend told me we were promised blizzards in the morning, but it was OK, because there were lots of boy scouts on stand by to dig us out. I am embarrassed to admit that at this point in my dream I thought - "Must get photos of the snow as no one who reads the blog will believe me when I said it snowed otherwise." THAT was when I realised that I had left my camera at home.

Cut to me driving my car along the riverbank. (No, I'm not sure how I came to take my car to South Africa either but...)This leads on to another anxiety I have at present - one of my car's many warning signs is currently in real life illuminated, and I haven't got round to sorting it out yet.My car then started giving me messages running across the dashboard saying things like "You have left it too late. Your car is fucked." I mention this to someone who works at the lodge. He said it was OK and that he knew someone in Northampton he could ring and they would be able to help. I was quite impressed by this extraordinary knowledge, (and how did he know I was from Northampton?)and thought I should give him a tip. THAT was when I realised I had come out without any money whatsoever.

Next I was worrying that Reidski would be upset because I hadn't managed to ring him before I left. And then, as I am in real life wont to do when I am nervous, I spilt my glass of wine - and woke up.


Do other people get so worked up merely because they are leaving the country for six days?



Note to self....MUST get car seen to.