Thursday, August 30, 2007

A confession

Although my team have now played 5 times this season I have only seen them the once.

"Calls herself a supporter???!!!"

I know - it is shocking though I do have excuses. I didn't get back from holiday in time for our first match Our second league match was away at Brighton and we have to boycott them as it is over £20.00 to stand several miles away from the pitch. (Last time we were there our supporters had to ask their supporters to let us know if we scored. The pitch was so far away we would never have known otherwise). I was at a wedding that never was (see below) for our other home league match, and last night we played at Middlesborough but I had a better offer (from Reidski). The one match I did see was against my beloved's beloved Millwall in the Carling Cup which we won, but league wise, although reports of our play are quite positive, we still only have one point from a possible 9. We also lost in the cup last night, but according to these highlights we didn't disgrace ourselves against Premiership opposition. We are still seven league points ahead of Leeds though :-)

So last night's better offer included watching Celtic in Reidski's local. Before I knew him I had a sterotypical view of London as a big city where no one knew anyone. He has rather changed that opinion by appearing to know everyone in his area. I like the fact that he can walk into the pub and greet half a dozen people before he even gets as far as the bar.It was an exciting match, and was not settled until literally the last kick of the match when Spartak Moscow failed to convert their fifth penalty. The place erupted as though Celtic had just won the Champions League, as opposed to just scrapping through to the knock out stages of the competition. And I found myself getting snogged by a big lass called Sandra. Reidski would have rescued me, but as I say - she was a very big lass.

Anyway, I shall miss no more home matches. As for the away matches, we have Orient away on Saturday. They currently have 9 points from a possible 9. Do I want to ruin my weekend by going to watch us get stuffed by the league leaders I wonder? Reidski dearest, do you fancy a match this weekend? Don't invite Sandra though.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What do you do?

When there is a film coming up that you want to see, but it is an adaptation of a book you have always meant to read, do you try to read the book first, or do you see the film, and then maybe catch up with the book afterwards? I was talking about this with my second son J (yes, Yorkshire pudding in answer to your recent enquiry- short for Jeremy!) who is mad on films. I always like to read the book first. I had bought Atonement, but he was saying that Empire Magazine, which is his film bible, had said it was better to see this film if you had NOT read the book first. My immediate question to that was how on earth would a reviewer know that? Either they were coming from a perspective of one who had read the book first, or from that of someone who had not, so how could they know which would be preferable.

Well now I have read the book and I have read the review. What it actually says is -

If you’ve read the book, you know what’s coming. If you haven’t, count yourself lucky, and watch with your heart in your mouth as events build to a climax barely halfway through.

I am not going to give anything away in case anyone seeing this has intends either to read the book or see the film or both in which ever order, but having read it, and I can't get it out my head some four days since I finished it, I think I kind of wish I hadn't read it first. I was left shattered by the way McEwan concluded the book, (and being a dumb bitch I hadn't picked up on the various clues he had dropped in as the story progressed,) but how will the way the book ends be translated on screen? And how will I be able to bare watching it knowing what is likely to happen? And if the ending is not as it is in the book, is it inevitable that I will come away thoroughly pissed off that the film was not 'true to the book?' Or will I find the film as glorious as all the reviews are promising it is and be able to leave the memory of the book itself aside?

Yet I am still overwhelmed by what was one of the best (and sexiest) books I have read in years, and can't recommend it enough to anyone who hasn't already read it years ago. But as to whether you read it before or after you see the film, well as this lot would have said, "I'm sorry. I haven't a clue."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The wedding that never was

Reidski and I were off to a wedding in Cambridge this weekend. We booked a hotel room some time ago knowing Cambridge was likely to be pretty busy over the bank holiday weekend. The bride to be was the daughter of one of my friends. My friend was all set to be the most glamorous mother of the bride ever - and certainly would have been just that if the groom (not) to be had n't called the wedding off less than a fortnight ago.

I think that unless any of us have ever been on the receiving end of the news that the person we planned to marry was pulling out days before the event we had been planning for two years, we can't really appreciate how devastating such news must be. The wedding dress that will now not be worn by my friend's daughter lies on the bed in her spare room - it won't fit in any of her wardrobes, I guess it will be appearing in an E-Bay sale near you soon. Sad, and the platitude about 'better now than later' probably doesn't help the jilted bride right now.

So it feels a little callous to say that nevertheless, we have just had a great stay in Cambridge, even if we did not get to dance to 'The Birdie Song.' We had a lovely time wandering aimlessly round the city. I did however break out into a cold sweat at one point when reminded of the time I thought it would be a good idea to take a punt out on the river. I blame the third glass of chardonnay I unwisely had with my lunch.

It was about three years ago and I was in Cambridge with my sister, daughter, niece and second son. It was - as it was this weekend - a lovely sunny day, and as we all know, 'There is nothing as nice, as messing around on the river.' And punting looks quite easy when you stand on a bridge and watch the punters punting by. Ha bloody ha.

The wine had given me a feeling of invincibility and although my sister did tentatively suggest we might be wise hiring someone to do the punting bit for us, I was having none of it and was convinced I was a natural. I wasn't. We kind of limped along the river in a zig zaggy manner rather than the gliding in the straight line with me posing elegantly at the helm as I had kind of imagined. An Italian family who were pretty much along side us all the way were equally inept and we kept colliding, but it was all 'jolly good fun' - except for my son who was hiding face down in the bottom of the punt in a vain attempt to pretend he wasn't with us. It all went horribly 'Pete Tong' when a third punt moving at speed collided with the Italians, who collided heavily with us, and I fell heavily on my arse with sunglasses knocked askew, and my skirt up round my ears with my knickers on show to all and sundry. Dignified it was not. We rowed back. If only we had managed to be half as cool as this lot were -

Playing Funky Music White Boy, all the way down the river on Saturday evening drawing rapturous applause as they went - and at least one display of very embarrassing dancing. NO! It wasn't me on this occasion :-)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Read the last paragraph of

this article and try not to cry.

I have never seen a handgun in all my life. What the hell is going on when the police say they are looking for someone aged between 13 and 15?


He failed French as he had already assured me had done, and he passed the others, though frankly not with much distinction. He is happy with them and he can go on to do A Level. I have managed to refrain from uttering the words "If only you had put in a bit of effort." That in its self was a bit of an effort for me.

For Joe who asked, in England kids take GSCE's at the end of their last year of compulsory education. Then if they go on to our sixth forms they do A/S Levels in the first year, and A Levels at the end of the second. I actually think it is awful that tehy have exam pressure in the first year of their sixth form. 'In my day' we didn't do A/S Level and the Lower Sixth was fun. Plus all these exams are bloody awful for me. Last year D did exams, this year they both did, next year they both will, the year after that J will, then I get one year's respite until H starts her three years of exams. Think of the parents I say!


He failed French as he had already assured me had done, and he passed the others, though frankly not with much distinction. He is happy with them and he can go on to do A Level. I have managed to refrain from uttering the words "If only you had put in a bit of effort." That in its self was a bit of an effort for me.

For Joe who asked, in England kids take GSCE's at the end of their last year of compulsory education. Then if they go on to our sixth forms they do A/S Levels in the first year, and A Levels at the end of the second. I actually think it is awful that tehy have exam pressure in the first year of their sixth form. 'In my day' we didn't do A/S Level and the Lower Sixth was fun. Plus all these exams are bloody awful for me. Last year D did exams, this year they both did, next year they both will, the year after that J will, then I get one year's respite until H starts her three years of exams. Think of the parents I say!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

If it's Thursday it must be results day

For the second week running I have woken up with a strong sense of foreboding.

Last week D got his A/S Level results. If I tell you that his father was planning to take him down the job centre last Thursday afternoon it may be noted hopes were not high.

In the event the best I can say about them is that they weren't as bad as feared and he will be going back to school, but not to do any more maths. He should never have been doing maths A Level in the first place, but that was the result of 5 years not working as hard as he should have done, and although he ended up with 10 GSCE's in B and C grades, his A Level options were narrowed as he hadn't excelled in anything. Basically one of his B grades was in Maths and so he went for that and failed quite spectacularly. He is still on to get the grades he needs to go to the colleges he is interested in, but he really does have to pull his finger right out to do it.

Of course, everyone else's kids did brilliantly last week, and I have spent much time producing my 'sincere congratulations' responses. It reminded me of when D was a toddler and flatly refusing to learn to talk having worked out that all he had to do to get results was point to what he wanted and his devoted mum would provide. Meanwhile, every other child of comparable age appeared to be fluent in five different languages. And he was the last one to walk. Always was a lazy sod.

It didn't help either that we were subjected on TV and radio to the annual 'record results achieved at A Level' news. Not in this household they weren't! By contrast this morning there seems to be some kind of debate going on about 'How is it 40% of kids are leaving school at 16 without 5 good GSCE's?' I really should turn that radio off.

I kind of hoped that J, seeing D's GSCE results, would work really hard this past year to make sure he didn't end up in the same position. However........

J announced last night he would go into school to get the results about 11. ELEVEN????!!!! Because he doesn't want to get up in what in teenage speak is 'early'. Never mind how his poor mother will be suffering in the meantime. If I know what we are up against I can deal with's the not knowing I find so difficult.

It is going to be a long day.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tactfully put

I mean the post mortem conclusion.

Excellence for Our Customers - Name Badges

This is a copy of an email sent by our most senior manager to all staff of the organisation I work for this week. I have highlighted the bit I enjoyed most. I like to think of all these highly paid people sitting in meetings discussing at length what should go on name badges. Personally,I am sure I would never have managed to come up with the solution they did, and that is clearly why they are paid a six figure salary and I am not.

Excellence for Our Customers - Name Badges.

In ‘Our Plan for Putting the Customer First’ we have two specific standards around being identifiable to our customers. We agreed that we will ‘wear staff badges and show proof of our identity when appropriate’. We also agreed that we will ‘answer calls within five rings clearly stating our name and where we work’.

One of our services has recently been assessed against the Charter Mark Standard for Customer Service Excellence. During the assessment it became apparent that the requirement is for staff to be ‘uniquely identifiable’ rather than just identifiable as staff, so a badge that simply says ‘staff’ is not helpful. We have to be identifiable so that we can be accountable for the good things as much as anything else.

For some years we have had a variety of staff badges and having received the Charter Mark assessment it is now timely to review this practice.

The choice for staff name badges is now:

· first name only, i.e. ‘Ingrid’

· first name and surname, i.e. ‘Ingrid Mercer’

This preference has been agreed because it is the practice adopted by most public facing organisations and quite informal. We understand that people who deal with customers on a regular face to face basis may be concerned at sharing their full name and that is why the option to have first name only is available.

This is a further positive development in improving our customer service and putting the needs of the customer first. I therefore ask you to arrange for new badges to be provided for members of staff who require them.

I thank you once again for your support in improving customer service.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

On Sunday

having got back from London on Saturday, I went to London. This time with the kids in tow and we stopped over at my friend A's house. A could very well be the nicest person in the entire world - and not just because she took 13 of us to Lapland for New Year, and is taking the same group to South Africa in October. But on Sunday she took us to the cinema in Lea Valley. Normally I would not have rushed to see a film the Daily Star gave 10 out of 10 to, but have to admit one would have to be very far up one's own arse indeed to fail to enjoy Hairspray. Mind you, from the trailer I saw, I won't be rushing to see Bratz - the Movie...there are limits beyond which I refuse to pass.

The next day we went to the zoo and saw the gorillas, and also saw a large python shed its skin which was fascinating in a 'Oh god how gross' kind of way. Then A took us all to a Spanish restaurant near Baker Street and I had one of those menu moments where you glance quickly through it, and basically have no idea what any of the dishes actually are, packed as they were with ingredients I had never heard of. Whatever - everything was delicious.

Back home again, and then out to Stamford to meet a friend who lives in Norway and who I had not seen for about five years. I knew she would be late. She is one of those people who is congenitally incapable of not being late, but her reason for being late this time was quite a good one. She rang as I arrived saying she was a bit delayed and was about 15 miles away*. "No problem" says I - but only because I have just seen another friend who didn't think she would be able to make it, waving to me. And how glad I am that Friend The Second did make it, or otherwise I would have sat for an hour in a bar on my own. Friend The First eventually arrives and there was a moment when FTS and I had to compose ourselves on account of the truly dreadful hairstyle FTF was sporting. Think blue rinse as once worn by old ladies, and replace the tight blue curls with tight red ones and you are on the right lines, although the true horror should best be left well alone.

So why was she late?

She HAD (apparently) been in plenty of time. But when driving through a village called Wainfleet - five miles out of Skegness - a backwater if ever there was one - she saw an old friend walking to work who had, according to FTF, a very nice hair cut. This reminded FTF that whilst in England she had intended to have her hair done and so she went to the hairdressers in this sleepy village...Yes, on her way to meet us, when she had something like 70 miles to drive, she went to have her hair what appears to be, going by the evidence I have seen, The World's Worst Hairdressers. I will try not to be mortally offended by this. And she had it coloured as well as cut!!!!! This, for those men who may still be with me at this point does tend to take A Very Long Time. And when it even dawned on FTF that she really was going to be very late even by her standards, she left before they had finished it properly. Anyway, suffice to say it was a disastrous haircut, but FTF seemed really pleased with it, and FTS did manage to say "It's a nice colour" without blushing which was quite impressive. At least we now know how it is that FTF is always late for things.

* I suspect that line wasn't entirely true.

Monday, August 20, 2007

What a way to go

Not dignified.

Absolute bloody final post on the week away I promise

I mean - I am back at sodding work as of today and still haven't finsihed this. Yes, I know I could give it up as last week's news, but it makes a nice change to have something other than football to waffle on about.

So I give you in quick succession - Painswick, known as The Queen of the Cotswolds (I repeat - of The Cotswolds)which is just ridiculously pretty.

Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter...

Woodstock, and finally - which was quite good going for one day doncha think - Windsor.

Friday was spent sunbathing in Greenwich Park, and that was the ace week that was.

I know we all say this, but if only it wasn't for our unreliable climate, Britain is a wonderful place for a holiday. For such a small island we have so many beautiful and contrasting areas. Stunning coast, rolling hills, the endless flatness of the Fens, lakes and lochs, mountains and moors, and great towns and cities. Use of local stone making villages only a few miles apart look completely different. And we are also awfully nice folk who understand the importance of a nice cup of tea and a scone.
Enough already!

More on our travels

We left Cornwall and decided to head for Wells as a stop off point on our way to Gloucestershire. It seems such a peaceful place but appearances can of course be deceptive, and we were very polite indeed to the landlord and landlady at The Crown just in case they considered us to be undesirables. Actually, the success of Hot Fuzz which for everyone who has not got the first idea what I am on about was filmed in Wells, seems to have attracted lots of lovies to the town. We sat across from three elderly actresses whilst we had lunch and they had brandies. Wish I could remember what they had all been in but....

Then we went on to the hotel we had booked through Travel Zoo. I was a bit paranoid about this as it had 'Too Good To Be True' written all over it. This hotel, dinner bed and breakfast for £79.00....between us. On our way there I managed to convince myself it was going to turn out to mean £79.00 each, but it did not mean that. What it did mean was that we spent our last night away in the most luxurious hotel we had ever stayed in, complete with enormous corner bath (my personal highlight!) and the most wonderful meal with meat that presumably tasted like all meat used to taste before modern day mass farming methods. Thank you Travel Zoo (who were also the source of our hotel in Cornwall.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Funny how

it is possible for two people, who in many ways are very alike, can see the exact same thing and yet view it so very differently. This for example Now I thought the game against Millwall was an absolute classic in which two teams at the top of their game, demonstrated extraordinary footballing ability, but eventually the superior class of the winning side did overcome the heroic opposition, by two goals, the first one especially an absolute classic. But Reidski thought the game was shite! Also some kind of sour grapes about the ball never crossing the line for the first goal??? Didn't see that myself :-)

Anyway, not that I am sadly parochial or anything, but when Reidski texted me to say we had got Boro away in the next round, I thought he meant Peterborough. Turns out we are going to some fancy Premiership side on Teeside. A Glamour Tie or what!!!

I know

I have been known to slag off Skegness, the town I was forced by my cruel and unnatural parents to call home between the ages of 15 and 23, but I am still saddened by this news. The fire has destroyed, amongst many other places, the bar where I spent much of my leisure time back. It has wrecked a major sea front complex. Occuring as it has at the height of a season which because of the weather been very poor already for a town that is entirely reliant on summer holiday makers, it could not have happened at a worse time.

Thankfully, no one appears to have been killed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Food, and the occasional lack of it

What I had not expected about Cornwall was the really great food we had every time we ate out. This is put down to the 'Rick Stein effect' as he has single handedly taken over Padstow and other Cornish places have to compete food wise or lose out.

We ate here in Newquay, where there was a huge surfing competition going on, and here which according to someone writing in the Observer is one of the top five beach cafes in the world, and must have the loveliest view of any restaurant anywhere, and also at this great pub. But where we did NOT eat was in the Cornish food capital of Padstow. This was not what you would call a deliberate omission.

On this particular day we had been down to St Ives (where we had had an 'Award Winning Cornish pastie'. Interestingly, everywhere in St Ives that sold pasties only sells 'Award Winning' ones, but anyway, it was very nice.) But that had been quite early and by 7ish we were very much looking forward to a trip to Padstow and
fish and chips from Mr Stein's establishment. Now, on the way back from St Ives I had mentioned that we probably should get some petrol but I was checking the petrol warning sign (yes - more bloody aggro from my car's warning signs - or lack of them, see below), and the 'petrol low' warning sign had not come on. We go to the car in the hotel car park. I switch on the engine and the warning sign which wasn't on before has switched to Nuclear Warning Mode, and just to emphasis there was a 'problem' it refused to move. We are out of petrol, and we are also just to make the situation all the more amusing, miles from anywhere.

I rang a cab firm and told my story of woe which resulted in a Cockney Cab Driver (lived in Newquay for 30 years but still very definitely a Londoner) coming to collect us to take us to a petrol station and to bring us back again. STUPIDLY, I had left a petrol carrying thingy behind at home so had to buy one first. So - on arrival at the BP garage some six miles away - no prizes for guessing they had sold out of?? I nearly cried. We continue with Cockney Cabbie for several more miles before the next petrol garage where the petrol can and the petrol is purchased and back he takes us with the total of 21 bloody quid on the clock. In fact he took some slight pity on us and charged us less than that, but still - a unexpected and total pain in the arse expense.

EVENTUALLY we get to Padstow, but what we both need is a drink first. And then we go in search of Rick Steins chippy, spurning as we do (subsequent results served us right) other, undoubtedly perfectly good chip shops, as when in Padstow surely one must do a Rick Stein. And it is a surprisingly big place. And it was dark. And when we finally found the place at 10.20 we found (oh how we laughed) that it had shut at 9.00. We go back to the other chippies not owned by TV Personality Chefs - and they had all shut too. As had all of Padstow by this time. We had a curry in Newquay at midnight that night with all the piss heads - but hey! THAT was very nice too. :-)

I am aware

of a tendency to do an unpaid tourist information job for places that I have visited in this place but here we go again....impossible not to rave about the places we have been to over the past week especially in view of the fact that instead of the threatened heavy rain, we got fabulous sunshine.

I give you Exhibit A ...

St Ives. We did 'do' the Tate, although we liked the Barbara Hepworth gallery more, but mainly it was the harbour, the beaches and the narrow winding roads which showed how the Guardian got it right when they named St Ives best seaside place in Britain 2007.

On a smaller scale Exhibit B...

Port Isaac. Beautiful unspoilt fishing village complete with an award winning pub.

More to follow....

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Back home


I have been kept fully occupied since I got back from my wonderful week with Reidski in which Sun, Sea and Sex all featured. More details to follow - whether or not that includes any details on the sex depends upon how drunk I am at time of writing :-) (yes, anything to increase my stats!) - but before I shoot off to meet an old school friend who is over from her home in Norway for a few days - a picture of where we were staying for the first four days.

We were staying right on Watergate Bay, 4 miles out of Newquay, and it was stunningly beautiful.

*Deep sigh* cos we are not still there.

Friday, August 03, 2007

In which I am a bit of a bitch.

I know this couple in our village. He was a widower with two children when he met her. He was also the multi millionaire company boss – and she was the secretary. ‘True love’ ensued and they got married and had two more children, but her first love was alcohol, and on one of her trips to our local equivalent of The Priory she met a manic depressive who swept her off her feet (as manic depressives are wont to do) and out of her marriage. This would be about four years ago now after a marriage lasting 9 years.

She remained in the village where her soon to be ex-husband bought her a house worth about £600,000 – no mortgage. One child went to live with her and the manic depressive, the other elected to stay with her dad.

The settlement was what you might call generous. In addition to the house, and staggered payments of £100,000 a time, she receives £2,000 a month. She has not worked since she married her former husband. She spends her time and money shopping. It is therefore little wonder that when I last saw her she said how much she needed a holiday. I am not quite sure how I resisted asking her ‘From what?’ Anyway, she is now on the much needed holiday in Jamaica (Altogether now – “No, she went of her own accord!”)

I have to say I do sometimes feel very sorry for men. And I also feel that some women are money grabbing lazy sods.…I might of course feel very differently if I had married and divorced a multi millionaire.

Reidski and I are off on holiday tomorrow. If anyone really does need a holiday it is Reidski after the terrible time he has had these past few weeks. It has been difficult to look forward to it because the funeral of the third person to die who he was so close to was this morning.

We had planned to go to the Highlands of Scotland, but we are in fact going to Cornwall which is about as far away from where we had planned to go as could be managed on this island. I have a memory which I have tried and failed to wipe out of just how terrible driving to Cornwall is on a Saturday in August, but it will be worth it when we get there. IT WILL, IT WILL, IT WILL…says she desperately trying to also forget the weather forecast she has seen for the area predicting as it was heavy rain for both Sunday and Monday. (I bet there’s no sodding rain in Jamaica says she displaying just a touch of bitterness!)

We have four nights in Cornwall, (I had to correct a typo there having written ‘We have four night sin’ – Freudian slip or what?) and then one night in the Cotswolds before back to London for another two nights before real life intrudes again with me having to get back for (drum roll please)……..

Northampton Town verses Swindon. Yee Ha! The football season is back!!!!!

Before I sign off for the vacation though, something really nice.

I got this from my newest favourite blogger, Rilly Super, who for anyone who is seriously missing out by not reading her ‘Strife in the North’ is rilly, rilly hilarious. And any resemblance whatsoever to Wife in the North is purely coincidental. much as I do love a good piss take.

Many thanks Rilly, and I will spread the award onwards when I get back from not very foreign parts.