Tuesday, December 23, 2008

On the other hand

Lisa and Brendon's showdance was the most inadvertently hilarious thing I have seen this year. The comments about it here have made me cry with laughing.

"Alien:The Musical".

A classic.

Tom Chambers and Camilla Dallerup's Showdance - Strictly Come Dancing 2008

My TV feel good highlight of the year.

No - funnily enough it wasn't the Cobblers losing 5-2 against Leeds in the FA Cup.(I am so not over that.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I saw this today*

The dog in question was stood patiently waiting for its master to catch him up. It was very touching.

Without wanting to come over all sentimental on you (although why not - it is Christmas) - it seemed poignant that at a time when we are being told increasing numbers of people are chucking their pets out for reasons such as
'My cat doesn't match my new carpet' that others will spare no expense to keep their much loved pet alive.

*Well - not the exact same dog ( I googled for a photo), but one that looked very like it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Compare and contrast

WARNING: Parochial rant coming up.

Northampton is a large market town and local government district in the East Midlands region of England. It is about 67 miles (108 km) northwest of London on the River Nene, and is the county town of Northamptonshire.

Please stick with this background stuff and I will try to reach my point before TOO long.

The district's population is 200,100 and the urban area's 189,474, making Northampton the 21st largest settlement in England and the UK's 3rd largest town without official city status, after Reading and Dudley.

The town became significant in the 11th century, when the Normans built town walls and a large castle under the stewardship of the Norman earl, Simon de Senlis. The town grew rapidly after the Normans arrived, and beyond the early defences. The town and its castle were important in the early 12th century and the King often held Court in the town. During his famous fall out with Henry II, Thomas Becket at one time escaped from Northampton Castle through the unguarded Northern gate to flee the country,

Milton Keynes is a large town in Central England, about 45 miles (72 km) north-west of London. It is also the principal town of the Borough of Milton Keynes, itself part of ceremonial Buckinghamshire. It was formally designated as a new town on 23 January 1967. At the 2001 census the population of the Milton Keynes urban area, including the adjacent town of Newport Pagnell, was 184,506.

Ikea (where on earth is this going?) - a rather popular furniture store as we all know - wanted to build their largest UK store in the large and historic town of Northampton. Our Borough councillors did not think this was 'a good idea' and turned Ikea down. Milton Keynes Council (15 miles down the road) said (loudly) "WE WANT IKEA!!!" And Ikea went to Milton Keynes creating as it did so, many jobs and knock on benefits for other local businesses.

Northampton Town was founded in 1897 (now she is getting to it -ed.)For the past four years (2004) in order to secure the financial future of the club the current owners have been trying to get approval for redeveloping the land around the ground into a local centre with shops, sporting facilities and a hotel. Our Borough Council has delayed making a decision on this more times than I care to relate here. (Thank god says only reader who has got this far.) Except they have now made a decision, which I will get to in a minute.

Milton Keynes Dons were launched on 21 June 2004, nine months after the then Wimbledon F.C. moved to Milton Keynes (and for god's sake don't get me started on that disgraceful episode... I must stick to my point, always assuming I can still remember what that was). Milton Keynes Council wanted a football club - so they built a state of the art stadium to accommodate one. It's next to Ikea, and has brought with it further jobs and knock on benefits for other local businesses. It seems that when a local council has the will to make things happen,things happen.

On to Northampton's Borough Council and their long awaited decision is .....

Drum roll......

to do nothing until at least 2026.

Yes - I did mean to type 2026. EIGHTEEN YEARS AWAY.

To quote one club director:

"We have discussed the club's intentions now with four chief executives, three council leaders, and it seems a busload of planning officers over a period of five years.

"We have had talks on Area Action Plans, Local Development Frameworks, Joint Core Strategies and Masterplans and yet we are still, after all this time, right back where we started."

It's taking 4 years to build a complete Olympics infrastructure in London. It's taken 9 years to completely rebuild the West Coast mainline including stations at a a cost of £9 billion. It took 8 years to build the Channel Tunnel. It took less than 18 years to build the entire city of Milton Keynes. It will take our council 18 years to even start thinking about developing the football ground? Northampton Borough Council are a total and utter disgrace.

There won't be a fucking football club by then. We will have gone bust long before then without any additional income.

Everyone (except me) will have long since started supporting Milton Keynes (Franchise) Dons.

Friday, December 12, 2008

One is

frightfully chuffed.

The other two Northamptonshire bloggers are positively seething!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Reidski and I were at this gig to see Glasvegas. Here is the summary of the review in the link...

In short, acts like Glasvegas show us that stadium rock can be so much more than cheesy falsetto hymns to groupies and decadent lifestyles, and with this gig anyway, confirmed themselves as the best rock outfit out there today...

After Monday night I for one can not believe there is currently a better rock outfit than Glasvegas.

I can't come up with a more appropriate descriptive word than - Stunning.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What have I started?

"Well, Prince, Genoa and Lucca are now nothing more than estates taken over by the Buonaparte family."

And how long is it going to take me to finish?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Spot the typo

I just sent the following in an e-mail to a colleague:

"The stuff in his flies is absolutely harrowing."

Should have read 'The stuff in his files is....'!

Monday, December 01, 2008

I'm like Lisa!

Cloud has found this which will analyse blogs.

I love daft things like this!

Lisa's blog and mine both come back as this:

ESTP - The Doers

The active and play-ful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.

Reidski will be best able to judge if my blog does indeed reflect upon my personality. But as Reidski's comes back as ISTP and defines him thus "They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters." I have to say they are a little off the mark with him. Reidski will not mind me saying He Does Not Do Risk! And he is the most careful driver I know.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Jam - Saturdays Kids

"Saturday's girls work in Tesco's and Woolworths."

But not for much longer.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Once upon a time

were the Cobblers to play Leeds United it would be a Heap Big Deal. But things change.

Last night we played Leeds United for the third time since 7th November.

7th November - FA Cup 1st round at Elland Road. It was on tele, but I did not see it as I was watching the Cold War Kids play at the Astoria, Charing Cross instead. Through the wonder that is texting I did however know that we were 1 nil up within 8 minutes, lost our captain to injury two minutes later, had a player sent off ten minutes after that, and conceded a penalty all before half time. Not a dull first half then. We then by all accounts defended for our lives and saw the match out for a replay.

18th November - FA Cup 1st round replay at our place. I actually watched this from the comfort of Reidski's front room. Had I gone to the match it would have cost me £22 - £3 more than our usual ticket prices - to watch the side that I would be seeing the following Tuesday anyway - and in any event the match was also being televised.


We were absolutely dire and it was painful to watch. We got thumped 5-2 at home, our last goal coming in the 89th minute. (I texted my son at that point to say we had scored with a minute to go so he should not abandon hope.)

True to say I was not looking forward to 25th November - League One home game. I took a mate of my son as my son was working last night and couldn't use his ticket. I jokingly said to this lad on the way there "You're not a secret Leeds United supporter are you? " "No" he replied, "I AM a Leeds United supporter." (Nothing secret there then.) That was all I needed - thought of taking a gloating Leeds fan home after the match - bloody marvellous.

But hey - what do you know? We were superb and deservedly won

I would say that it's a funny old game, if I did not have a sneaking suspicion someone somewhere may have said that before.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I love local news stories

This one comes from Reidksi's home town. It has the lot - a mistake that could happen to anyone (couldn't it?), sex (possibly), violence (definitely), the bowling club (naturally), and a great last line.

Margaret refused to comment.

In those circumstances that seems like the wisest course of action....unless of course she is just waiting for the tabloids to ocme up with their best offer for her Exclusive.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Harry and Paul-Dragons Den 2-Kitten Stomper

I LIKE kittens.

But I still think this is hilarious.

Getting to Egypt

Yes - I know I promised I had finished with the subject of Egypt, but the following tale doesn't count cos we weren't actually IN Egypt at this point*. In fact - at that particular point we all began to wonder if we were in fact going to get to Egypt in the first place.

In order to get to Egypt we have decided to take an aeroplane. This means travelling from Heathrow Airport's new Terminal Five, a decision which provokes comment from even the youngest members of the group, all of whom are aware of publicity regarding the disasterous opening of the Terminal a few months ago. Now was all this bad publicity fair?

The new Terminal Five is a massive facility, designed to relieve congestion at the airport and improve the travelling experience. It is designed to handle all of Briish Airways flights from Heathrow.

Unfortunately, the much-publisised opening was dogged by problems, cancelled flights, computer systems not working, massive levels of lost luggage; in other words complete testament to the fact that we British, when faced with the task of building anything larger than a garden shed, always manage to cock it up. In fact Graham who was one of our party and who is himself a frequent traveller, has an unfortunate friend who arrived at terminal 5 at 11 o'clock one morning, whose flight was cancelled at 11 o'clock the same night, whose luggage was lost in the meantime, and whose travel insurance was declared invalid since, technically, he had not travelled.

When one is due to travel via Terminal Five one receives a leaflet from British Airways telling one how to negotiate Terminal Five without stress. That didn't seem quite as reassuring as B.A. no doubt intended that it should be.

Our collective feeling of unease was compounded at check-in, where a unique system has been adopted by the authorities. What you don't do when checking-in at Terminal Five is go up to the check-in desk and check in. What you do is go to the check-in desk, get told to go to do-it-yourself check-in computer screens, check in each of the seventeen members of the party separately, get issued seventeen boarding passes where no two seats are together, go back to the original check-in desk to have all of the machine-issued boarding passes cancelled so they can issue new ones manually and try to seat the group in the same section of the plane. It is a unique system. And it took an incredibly long time which was why we all started to wonder if we were in fact travelling to Egpyt or not.

Still, all the hanging around sorting out our seats did give some of us the opportunity to read some of our travel guides whilst we were waiting and now I finally get to the one thing I really wanted to tell you about Egypt but had somehow neglected to in my earlier posts. I think you will agree that the following information was well worth waiting for.

One of the things we learnt from one of the books was that:

"The Egyptian pyramids are pyramid shaped structures to be found in Egypt".

As you may imagine - this came as something of a surprise.

* My blog - my rules to make or break as convenient.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Feeling a bit depressed

I don't know why I let it get to me. It has certainly not been a good few weeks to be a social worker but nevertheless the vast majority of us work really hard in challenging circumstances.

So then I read something like this about some woman who claims she was told she was too posh to adopt, and it isn't so much the article that bothers me (typical Daily Mail story) but it is the comments that follow it. 191 to date. And so very many posted by some of the very many people who obviously simply hate social workers.

Makes me wonder why any of us bother.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I've just gone off my favourite programme

I didn't like reading that other contestants snubbed John at the end of Sunday's results programme.

I don't like it that John Sergeant has now quit Strictly Come Dancing. If this show is a dancing competition then just pick 'celebrities' who are young, fit and have already got dancing experience. If it is, as some of us were under the impression it was, in fact harmless entertainment then pick a cross section of the population to take part and don't get hot under the collar when the voting public actually vote for the person that entertains them the most.

And yes I do realise that many people think SCD is neither of the above and is in fact just a load of rubbish, but I liked it in a passive non voting kind of way, and after today I really don't like it anywhere near as much.

For anyone who never had the pleasure of seeing John jive, and who is not easily distressed by dancing that is not of the highest possible standard.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Look out

Iain Dale. The blogger beloved of the media has a rival and he must be shaking in his Tory boots. Yes, another blogger - well known to literally tens of other bloggers (or at least to tens of other people if you count all my distant relations) is in running for the title of media darling.

Or not.

OK - not content with snogging Tony Blair in full view of television cameras (another story)- in my mad pursuit of media recognition I e-mailed Radio 5 on the subject of Baby P. I had been listening to the Victoria Derbyshire programme and the phone in was about how social workers did bad. After the discussion ended I sent an email about it and thirty seconds later my mobile rang. Radio 5 to say they were very interested in what I had said and would I be prepared to talk on air to Victoria about it? Well modesty forbade - but obviously I got over that and





Well - not quite as one does not want to appear too easy to get, but opportunity to sound off on a subject close to my heart???? Here we go, here we fucking go. I did agree and I did indeed chat with Vix (as her closest bosom pals know her) and it seemed to go OK. As in; I didn't make a complete and utter tit of myself on nationwide radio.*

Half an hour or so later though I got another call. BBC News. I assumed it was the radio station again and was therefore more than a little thrown to be asked if I would appear on a television discussion programme they planned to put out on Friday evening. So fame and if not fortune maybe at least a token expense claim beckoned.

Petite Anglais, Norm, The Girl With the One Track Mind, that other tart that sold books about how being a prostitute is really ace. For one moment 'It Could Have Been Me' too.

Except I said I couldn't possibly. But thank you very much for asking me.

* And did anyone I know ring me to say they heard me and I was bloody marvellous? No they did not.

Although maybe they did hear me, and thought it kindest to pretend they did not!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Nat is blogging again

And she brings us wonderful tales like this one concerning a drawing of a spider with 7 legs and an overdue utility bill.

The story has a very satisfactory ending indeed.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Baby P

I used to work for the London Borough of Haringey.

It is a borough too often in the news for all the wrong reasons.

I wasn’t in social services although my job did bring me into regular contact with that department. My area of work was community relations and I was there at the time of the Broadwater Farm riot where PC Keith Blakelock was murdered. As you may imagine promoting good community relations following that terrible night wasn’t easy.

When Victoria Climbie died it sounds awful but I wasn’t surprised. There were many inadequate workers at the Council but they either went unchallenged or we noticed they got promoted. It was all too easy to understand how an inexperienced social worker without proper support from supervisors could fail a child with such terrible consequences. The fact that it is happened to yet another child within the same borough - in fact just a few streets away from where Victoria died, is however not so much as surprising as frankly beyond understanding. Where a mother has actually been arrested twice on ‘suspicion’ of child cruelty and both times released; where a child is recognised as being at risk and is on the local Child Protection Register; where a child has been taken into foster care because of concerns for his welfare and safety – for crying out loud how many serious concerns does any authority need to have before they remove a child for his or her own protection, let alone the very Local Authority who had failed Victoria Climbie?

I am trying to get my head round this and I do think that partly The Children’s Act of 1989 is at fault because this emphasises that the best interests of a child are normally served by keeping the youngster within their birth family. I quote directly from the Act: The underlying philosophy in the provision of services is to work in partnership with parents and children to prevent the breakdown of family relationships and minimise the need to have recourse to Court or emergency protection.

So what workers are supposed to do is take every possible step to keep a child at home; whether by putting in a family support worker to assist with parenting, sending a parent on courses designed to help them care properly for their children, or anger management training, or ensuring respite care for the child and parent. So the social workers act as a family friend and inevitably form some kind of relationship with the parent/parents, and that does make it difficult to reach the decision that the child needs to be removed because actually in this case the family represents danger for that child. That same worker moves from being a helpful family friend to Family Enemy Number 1.

If the case gets to court, because of the basic premise of The Children’s Act the Family Courts in care cases will always insist on knowing what measures social workers have taken to keep the family unit together and if they don’t think enough has been done they often return the child to their parent/parents. The court appointed officer (The Guardian ad Litem) who investigates the circumstances for the child will first and foremost look into how that child can remain at home. It is the social worker who has to fight that belief within the adversarial atmosphere of a court case that a child’s interests are best served by remaining at home – with support from the services if necessary. It isn’t surprising if maybe a worker will be over optimistic that a family can be trusted to care for the child safely when the alternative is becoming immersed in hostile proceedings. We also all know the poor outcomes for children that do end up in the Care System.

Yet so often it is glaring obvious from the very beginning that a child needs to be removed from their family. In my work now I summarise care files for people who went on to be adopted and I often read in disbelief at the sheer scale of recorded abuse which was allowed to continue for months and in some cases years before children were removed whilst parents are given one more chance after one more chance to prove they can adequately protect their children.

Having said all that though I still find it inexplicable that workers in Haringey of all places could fail to spot what was going on with this poor Baby P (and why he can’t be identified along with his mother and her partner I really don’t understand?*) when they were visiting his home week in, week out. One thing stands out to me in all the horrific catalogue of injuries… (Baby P had) Blackened finger and toenails, with several nails missing; the middle finger of his right hand was without a nail and its tip was also missing, as if it had been sliced off.

How does anyone involved with the welfare of a child miss that?

* the doting parents had another child when she was in prison so that explains the anonymity.

Wednesday - I just read the serious case review. Not only did the mother have another child in prison - there are three older siblings to Baby P. Wonder where they are right now the poor, poor children.

Monday, November 10, 2008

And how was your election night?

I haven’t mentioned the US election have I? Not because I didn’t care, and I can tell you I got very little sleep on the Tuesday night, but in the event it wasn’t fear that the polls had got it wrong that stopped me sleeping, but flashbacks to something that had happened earlier that night.

Reidski had been up to see me and we were headed for the train station for him to get home, but before then I had pulled into a petrol station; not for fuel but to go in the shop. I was driving in between two sets of pumps when the driver of a vehicle which was stationary at a pump to my left flung open her car door right in front of me. At first I thought I had managed to stop in time as I felt no impact and I put the window down to ask her what on earth she thought she was doing. “What do you mean, what the hell were YOU doing?” was the abridged version of the response, minus one or twenty swear words. She then announced my car was damaged so I got out and said “OK – we need to exchange our details then.” “I’m not fucking giving you no details” she screeched.

She then discovered she had damaged the bottom corner of her car door and that she couldn’t shut it and that was when she went completely mad – as did the woman she was with. The driver kept screaming “Hold me back, hold me back!” as she was so desperate to punch my face in. She accused me of driving like a bat out of hell – I said “What, about 10 miles an hour?” and she screamed “There! You admit driving like a mad woman!” That was when I asked her if she had been drinking but she said they had been at a meeting. I am a social worker and must never be judgemental – but they were dressed up like a pair of tarts – all thongs showing and tattoos on lots of exposed bare flesh. Is that the normal dress code these days for attending ‘a meeting’?

My observation that “You didn’t look” before she flung open her door remained ignored.

As she flatly refused to exchange any details I tried to get some photos – and she and her friend tried to stop me, but I did get one in the end of her registration and then we left before they did actually physically attack me. Both of us were sure they were about to do just that. Neither of us was actually that keen to get into any kind of fight. No doubt if trouble had started Reidski would have ended up in trouble for touching a female even though he would only have been trying to look after me.

Afterwards I was shaking like a leaf. They had really frightened me, but when I was actually at the scene I was determined not to let them know I was intimidated

I went to the police the next morning, and obviously informed my insurers. I also checked with the garage and they do have CCTV footage of the incident. One dent in my bumper = £558 worth of damage.

To no ones surprise, in the light of the way she reacted to an accident which was entirely and utterly her fault (I refer you to the Highway Code Section 239 - You MUST ensure you do not hit anyone when you open your door. Check for cyclists or other traffic) – I have just had it confirmed that she is not insured. Fuck it.

I can not express just exactly how much I wish this woman to get bucket loads of trouble for this.

P.S. All that night as I lay awake replaying the incident in my mind, I didn’t dare turn the radio on, as I felt bad enough as it was. If on top of that Obama had lost I would have cried.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

And finally

before all three of you declare a permanent boycott on account of you're sick to death of me going on about Egypt,(did I mention I have just been to Egypt?) I bring you the Eighth Wonder of the Ancient World. And a very significant wonder of the 1960's too.

Ramesses II was something of an egotistical bastard. Not content with knowing he was immortal he covered the land of Egypt from the Delta to Nubia with buildings in a way no king before him had done - and all featured him, him, him...and not in a small way.

Here is matey boy at Abu Simbel - alias the Eighth Wonder of the Ancient World/1960's.

On Friday we flew from Aswan down to Abu Simbel especially to see the two temples there - one for him and one for his Most Beloved Wife, Nefertari - no mean feat as he had hundreds of them - although apparently he never got to meet all of them, let alone shag them all. Words can not describe the sheer scale and beauty of these monuments - but what is ever more head ache inducing is that because the building of the Aswan High Dam woudl mean this and other ancient monuments would be lost under the newly created Lake Nasser, there was a world wide effort to move the monuments to higher ground. And thus the Abu Simbel we visited is 65 metres higher than its original site. Well I have been there and I still can't believe it was possible. The temples within the mountains are stunning with the colours of the frescos almost as fresh as the day they were painted. But how they ever moved them I will never ever know.

Truly incredible.

Scenes from the Nile

I kept being reminded of the copy I used to have of The Children's Illustrated Bible.

And the East

I am going to have to try to rein in some of my enthusiasm for Egypt as I don't wish to be responsible for boring any passer by to death, but Tuesday meant the Temple of Luxor (Bizarrely in view of its enormous size also known as the Small Temple: It is all comparative of course.) and the Temple of Karnak. These temples had been lost during the passage of time under the drifting sand, and quite forgotten, though it does seem rather beyond the normal bounds of carelessness to mislay a temple containing 136 columns, like the ones in the picture, in just one chamber alone.

Homes and mosques were built on top of where the Temple of Luxor lay buried.

It took something like a hundred years to remove the sands back in the 19th Century, but what must it have been like for those who were uncovering these amazing structures?

The authorities at Luxor are currently working to restore the ancient sites to resemble how they must have looked at the time they were constructed. Unfortunately this does mean that people are forcibly relocated to homes elsewhere. There is evidence all over the area of demolished houses. It is still better than Cairo though where there are so many dilapidated buildings the place looks like a war zone. It is difficult to say this without sounding crass, but the poverty we saw out there couldn't fail to make one feel very uncomfortable as we passed it by either in our air conditioned coaches, or on our luxury cruiser. One morning we went to a Temple in a horsedrawn cart. I honestly did not think our poor horse was going to make it back to our boat without pegging it. I found myself obsessing about the condition of the horse as it struggled along, being constantly whipped by its callous owner up a hill in blazing heat, but then I caught a glimpse of a mother and child. Enough to say I had got my priorities wrong with my concern for the horse.

(Jane makes mental note to be more up beat in next post.)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The West Bank at Luxor

So anyway our first full day took in the Pyramids and a visit to see how papyrus is made. The second full day was a quiet one for me, although if one has to be left behind in a hotel whilst one’s family and friends go out and enjoy themselves this one wasn't a bad one to be stuck in.

The following day started with a phone ringing in my ear and when I answered it I received the following totally unwelcome message: “Good morning, this is your 2.00am wake up call.”




We had to catch a flight down to Luxor. Some four hours later and we were at the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut

feeling some what disorientated but nevertheless still massively impressed. This was where we found out that guides at the various sites will grab you, tell you lots of interesting facts about the temple, and then demand money – never mind that you have not understood a single thing they have told you. This was the site of
the Luxor Massacre in 1997. Security at the various tourist traps is now pretty tight as a result of that horrendous event.

We moved on to The Valley of the Kings.

The pharaohs sussed that the Pyramids were not providing safe keeping for all that treasure they were going to be in urgent need of over in that Afterlife of theirs, on account of they were all raided about five minutes after the front exits had been sealed. So what better idea for ones passage to the Here-After than to go many miles down the Nile to ancient Thebes, and there get the hired help to dig out elaborate tombs deep inside the sandstone rocks? They thought of everything to prevent further thefts – false entrances, false tunnels, traps – but they abjectly failed. It was clearly very well known that there was ‘Gold in them there hills’, and everything that wasn’t nailed down was duly nicked. Well, not quite everything as Howard Carter found on the 27th November 1922 when he finally entered Tutankhamun’s tomb. This comes from his dairy that day:

“It was a sight surpassing all precedent, and one we never dreamed of seeing. We were astonished by the beauty and refinement of the art displayed by the objects surpassing all we could have imagined - the impression was overwhelming”.

It had been thought that that was definitely the last tomb in the Valley until very recently when
this story broke.
In fact when we were there was a team of archaeologists working at the site who were confident they were on the verge of unearthing yet another tomb – all very exciting.

You are not allowed to take photos inside the tombs but the illustrated stories of the journey into the Afterlife are, in the tombs we visited, remarkably well preserved.

We followed this with trips to the Valley of the Queens and an alabaster factory too before we were finally allowed to check in on our cruise ship. It is bloody hard work being on holiday. I then had to fit in some very important worship of the Sun God on my own behalf.

I have to confess that after our nightmarishly early start, I did not make the late night disco on board our ship that evening.

We all grow up learning about Ancient Egypt at school

but I don't think any of that education can ever prepare you for your first sight of the Pyramids.

There was one question that played on all our minds all week whether we were looking at the Pyramids, or the Sphinx, or the various spectacular temples, or the Valley of the Kings, or indeed the Aswan Dam, and that was the very obvious one of "How the fucking hell did they ever manage to do this?"

Now I have always wondered that about Stonehenge which is roughly speaking, give or take a century or two, the same age as the first pyramids. The Egyptian monuments however, make assembling Stonehenge look like playing with lego in comparison.

This is a photo of the outside of Kom Ombu temple - the art work is so well preserved, and in Egypt you see those engravings everywhere.

And as for how they got the materials to where they were building??? At Luxor Temple there is an Obelisk of Hatshepsut (1473-1458 BC). It is 97 feet (29.6m) high and weighs approximately 320 tons, made of sheer granite. The only place in Egypt where granite is obtainable is Aswan - over a hundred miles down river and the obelisk is just one piece of stone. 20 years ago an attempt was made locally to transport a piece of granite weighing just 20 tons by river from Aswan up to Luxor. The vessel sank before it had made it ten kilometres.

I was always taught the Egyptians used slaves to build the Pyramids, but this we learnt was untrue. In fact the workers were paid,and spent the months working on the pyramids when the river was flooded and they were unable to cultivate their own land. Historians have found and deciphered diaries of the workers who built the pyramids. One recorded how tired he was of his tedious diet. "Fish in the morning, fish at dinner, fish at night, fish again next day...." He should complain! I ate practically nothing but plain rice and bread whilst I was there!

Monday, November 03, 2008


In Northampton snow stopped play, where I was the weather conditions were somewhat better. 32 degrees centigrade whilst we were at Luxor Temple - and yes - the sky really was that blue!

I spent the afternoon that day after we got back to our ship sunbathing.

Never count your chickens

I did spend some of that weekend marvelling at the Pyramids. I even spent a proportion of that weekend IN a Pyramid, to which I would have to say we all make mistakes. I did have the option NOT to go into a Pyramid but go into a Pyramid I did. Truly horrible - hot, claustrophobic, and absolutely airless - but I am glad I did it, if only because that means I will never feel the need to do it again. Apparently when Napoleon was in Cairo he insisted on spending a night alone holed up in the Great Pyramid: He emerged the following morning a quivering wreck and for the first time in my life I can sympathise with the pint sized emperor.

What I did not do however, was spend any part of that weekend at the Cairo museum. This fact being not unrelated to me having spent the best (for which read worst) part of Saturday night being violently sick. Want to lose weight? Forget dieting - just go to Egypt. And for the bulimics and laxative abusers amongst us it will all be second nature anyway. Whilst that deeply unpleasant episode was mercifully short (though not at all sweet), it wiped out my appetite for the entire week and for the first time in my life I have come back from a holiday skinnier than I was when I arrived.

Lots to relate but for now I leave you with a picture of my off spring at the Temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel, built in the 13th Century BC. Typical of the Egyptians in that not content with building something so awe inspiringly massive in the first place they then decided to move the bloody thing!. We lesser mortals would have decided the whole concept was impossible and gone to the pub instead.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

But this coming weekend

I will be mainly marvelling at the Pyramids.

And assorted Egyptian antiquities.

And from Monday I will be travelling along the River Nile from Luxor to Aswan.

This is because I have the great good fortune to have a wonderfully generous friend who is taking me and my family plus a group of 11 other friends on a wonderful trip to Egypt.

You may wish to avoid this place on my return for a few weeks as I can pretty much be guaranteed to go on about the trip rather a lot!

Monday, October 20, 2008

This weekend

I have been mostly drinking champagne.

I know - it's been tough, but one has to make the effort from time to time.

On Friday I went to Reidski's where we had an early celebration for his birthday which was actually yesterday. Champagne was consumed and very lovely it was too, but I think it may have impaired my culinary abilities. Juggling cooking a two course meal whilst feeling distinctly tipsy was 'challenging'. Although I remember this bruschetta recipe was delicious, my memories of the main course are a little blurred, and that may not be such a bad thing. I'm sure I don't know how Keith Floyd does it!

On Saturday after watching my lads turn over Yeovil Town I went to a joint 50th birthday party. It is very strange but for some reason that I can't quite understand, lots of my friends are turning 50. A complete mystery as to why that might suddenly be the case. And oh dear - disaster - loads and loads of champagne needed to be consumed. Great party, and very interesting to see my 17 year old son 'in action' when it came to chatting up the pretty young girls; not to mention charming and flattering the not so young (though obviously very attractive*) women.

Sunday was one of those days when moving very far to do anything at all was a struggle, but with a 'to-do' list running to five pages I had to make the effort and did plenty of chores. I am going on holiday on Friday and I don't think it is just me who gets into a total 'two and eight' over the number of very important things one has to do before one can go away with a clear conscience. Some MIGHT argue that having loads of things to do does not leave time for blogging. But they would of course be wrong.

* That's what he was telling them anyway, and they didn't call him a liar.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

In which Jane finds a way out of singling out particular blogs she loves.

Something nice happened to me the other week and the lovely Jay was kind enough to give me this award. What was extra nice about it was that it led me to other blogs that Jay knows, but I hadn't seen before and they were all really good reads.

I wanted to pass this on, but of course this leads to a dilemma - how on earth to pick out certain blogs for the same award that I love when I love all of my links so much? Therefore I have bottled it completely and will single out just one blog because it did actually change my life.

Some years ago now I came across this post. I was at the time the joint writer of a blog which I later deleted. Anyway, I really liked this particular post - the self deprecating humour* of the writer appealed to me. I started visiting this particular blog on a regular basis. I packed up writing the blog that I was writing at that time but after a while the bug bit me again and I started over - he was very sweet and linked to my new place and we commented on what the other was saying quite a lot. In fact I have since been told that I was flirting with him, and there was me thinking I was being subtle. Usually I know fully well when I am flirting! What I have also since learnt is that Reidski - for t'was he of course - used to say to Messalina who is a sometime commenter on here - that he was going to go out with me one day (or is it that Messalina told him he would go out with me someday - I can't quite think now which way round it was). Anyway, nearly 12 months after I read that post and developed my little crush, Reidski and I met. We both got tremendously drunk and he lost a bet which meant he owed me a million kisses. Well - he originally bet me a million pounds he was right that Oxford Street was Shaftesbury Avenue (he thought we were walking/staggering towards Shaftesbury Avenue but the street in question was in fact - as I was very well aware and therefore more than happy to accept the bet - Oxford Street) but anyway, the pounds were converted into kisses in an act of charity by me, and he is still in my debt so he can't finish with me just yet.

So loving that blog of his actually led to me loving him.

And who would have Adam and Eved that?

* Some years ago I saw Steve Coogan live. I will never forget one of his lines when he was talking about how self deprecating humour was very 'in'. He then announced: "I'm a right cunt I am

I do wish

my middle child would let me know if he has a friend sleep over in order that I may take the precaution of locking the bathroom door the following morning.

As opposed to getting in the bath with the door wide open and inadvertently scarring a young man for life.

Thank god for both bubble bath and the book I was reading which together covered most of my exposed parts.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bonny Scotland

What a great time was had.

The wedding was a lovely family do, complete with lots of kilts (I know now it is true that Scotsmen do not wear anything under their kilts and I am still recovering from that), bagpipes and the Gay Gordons.

Course, things deteriorated later in the evening as more and more alcohol was consumed, and it degenerated into a night of debauchery and pole dancing. Or was that just me?

On the Monday Reidski and I visited Kirkcudbright. I enjoyed looking at that link as I know now that it obviously looks very nice in the sunshine. We had the typical British tourist experience there though - it rained and it was closed. Still, I did learn how it is pronounced and it only took me three days. 'Cur - cud -bree.' (Surely some mistake? Ed.)

Went in a pub near Dumfries on Monday night where an overheard conversation reduced us both to tears of laughter...

Older man (possibly dad) to younger man crying into his beer over his love life: "You've about as much chance of getting a shag off her, as of getting a shag off your ma."

Younger man : "She says I am the most intelligent man she has ever met."
Older man: "Then god help her."

On Tuesday we had the best pub lunch EVER on the way back down south. Karen and Gill - you live in Cumbria so haste ye both to The Wheatsheaf in Beetham (South of Kendal).

Wasn't ready to come back, but had to before Reidksi's accent became totally incomprehensible as tends to happen the instant he crosses Hadrian's Wall.

(And no - he didn't wear a kilt which was a shame as I had such plans for that eventuality......another fantasy shot down in flames!)

Friday, October 10, 2008


here with Reidski this weekend for a wedding on Sunday. We will be back on Tuesday. I leave you in the meantime with a picture which may or may not be of the young Reidski having a fling. Have a good weekend all.

Things that should NEVER be said in my presence Part 1.

Especially not when the person saying it is looking over my shoulder behind where I am sitting at the time.

"That is one fuck of a big spider."

Once I recovered from my heart failure I discovered the spider in question was the other side of the window pane I was in front of.

It WAS a fuck of a big spider.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


I took my daughter and niece to see The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas last night. My daughter had read the book and had told me and her cousin all about it so we were well aware we weren't going to get a happy ending.

In the event the ending was so harrowing that not a soul moved in the cinema when the film ended. We all sat in various states of distress as the credits silently rolled.

I mention it here because if you have a teenager you can use or borrow to take and see this film then do so. It is a marvellous and touching way of exploring the Holocaust for young people and I honestly believe it should be shown in every secondary school, shocking as it most certainly is.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


says it all as far as I am concerned on the subject of Sarah Palin.

Monday, October 06, 2008

They all had the time of their life....

But I didn't.

It was my daughter’s birthday at the weekend and all she had wanted was for me to take her and two friends to see Dirty Dancing: The Musical in the West End. This proved to be a nightmare to arrange as I soon found out this show is ‘Hot’ and getting tickets for a show anywhere near her birthday was difficult to say the least. Eventually though, after what felt like hours of trying, I came up with four tickets for Friday which cost me more money than I care to remember. When I told my daughter though she was so delighted and excited that it felt like money well spent. She spent the next several months counting off the days to go before we went to the show.

So Friday came and I collected her and one friend straight from school, and we drove to north London to collect the other friend, then catching the tube into town. So far so good. I went to the theatre, gave them my name, and was given four tickets and was amazed to see that they were for far better seats than the ones I thought I had booked. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth I just thought it was my lucky day.

Silly me.

I took the girls for a meal first and it was such a pleasure being with them. All three of them are such good company and were so thrilled to be about to see the show. One of them had never been to a West End show before and was almost beside herself with excitement. We returned to the theatre and I handed my tickets to the girl on the door who said “I’ve been told to ask you to return to the box office.”

The next few minutes were a blank as I tried and failed to take in what I was being told, but what transpired was that last Friday there were two separate bookings for four tickets each by people with my initial and surname, and I had been given the wrong ones, but that was not the worst of it. The worst of it was that my tickets were according to them, for the afternoon performance. I do not have the descriptive skills to explain how absolutely terrible I felt at that moment when it appeared I had completely fucked up my daughter’s birthday. I am never going to forget the looks on the girls’ faces when I told them the problem. To make it worse they were all really good about it - I could have handled tantrums far more easily. I can only assume it was my mistake and I clicked on the wrong performance, but I woudl not knowingly have ordered tickets for a matinee on a school day.

What I had to do in the end was buy three further tickets (at a reduced price but still money I could ill afford) for the girls, although they were not together. I said I would stay on the premises (licensing laws meant I had to as I found out – they weren’t 18 so had to have an adult with them), and I was taken to the bar by the manager, where there was not as much as a chair to sit in. I must have cut a forlorn figure as I balanced myself on a ledge – I know I certainly felt bloody forlorn. Anyway, the manager must have taken pity on me as he returned and told me I could sit at the back and see the show. That was OK – but I was still fretting about my daughter, knowing that she would be worrying about me, and I couldn’t see her to let her know I was there after all. At the interval the rather sweet manager came back and told me he had found us four seats together for the second half, and he got us all complementary drinks. My daughter actually cried with relief when I told her I had in fact seen the first half; although what I didn’t tell her was that I hadn’t got the first idea what had happened in that first half as I was too preoccupied worrying about her.

Anyway, I guess all was well that ended well (if I could just forget about the flaming cost!) in that the three of them simply loved the show, and my daughter keeps telling me she had in the end the best birthday ever. I’m sure the horror of that moment when it dawned on me we did not actually have tickets for the much anticipated show will fade for me – eventually.

Friday, October 03, 2008

I hate this more

Who in their right minds produced a computer game called Kindergarten Killer in which players are urged to 'Shoot down those pesky little kids'?

Finland have now banned it although it took just the two high school massacres before they did. It puzzles me that anywhere in the entire world has NOT banned it.

I hate

people who when they take their supermarket trolley back to the trolley park don't push it into the trolley in front of it but just shove it in the general direction of all the other trolleys.

They obviously all think they are far too busy and grand to perform this small task which takes seconds. After all, some minion is getting paid peanuts to tidy the trolleys up after them aren't they? And who cares about other shoppers trying to replace their own trolley, who due to the inconsideration of others, are faced with the task of moving numerous other trolleys before they have a hope of putting their trolley away?

Yes - I know there are more important things to get wound up about but I think that this in its way does reflect the 'Me Generation' of people who think of noone except themselves.

I blame Thatcher! (For this and for most other things I don't like.)

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Cameron has a plan.

And there was me worring that our 'Prime Minister in Waiting' (God help us) was all style and no substance.


I just heard an old friend of mine is about to get married for the second time.

The first time he got married he got married in Hackney Town Hall.

This time he is getting married in Hackney Town Hall.

As he said on the subject: "I always get married in Hackney Town Hall."

Next weekend Reidski and I are going to a wedding in a castle in Scotland. We have already watched Brigadoon to get ourselves in the mood. One has high hopes for this wedding for entertainment value, although as an American woman will be marrying a Scottish man one hopes it will not follow the plot of Four Weddings and a Funeral too closely and that no guest will suffer a fatal heart attack whilst dancing a Highland Fling.

We shall be representing family life as it is now lived in that our group will comprise me and Reidski plus Reidski's son, his ex partner and her new partner. That should be sufficient to confuse many elderly relations don't you think?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Super Sleuth Me*

For historical reasons I am very cautious about writing about anything connected with my job but it's exception time.

As part of my work I am sometimes asked if I can help locate relations of my clients who are either adopted adults or are the birth relations of adopted people. Frequently this proves to be impossible as I only have limited resources, but I do like to try on their behalf because if I am successful I save them anything from £350 upwards, which is what recognised tracing agencies will charge. I do it for free.

Anyway, today I am feeling very pleased with myself having achieved the practically impossible. I have on behalf of one woman found not only her natural mother but her natural father too. Neither of them live anywhere near here and so I couldn't use local resources. It has taken me ages to find these people but then I found them both within a fortnight of each other. One has already met my client and the other can not wait to do the same. My client is thrilled to bits.

It is rewarding enough to have been able to do this but the reason I have this uncontrollable urge to record my achievement here is that one of the people I was looking for has the surname 'Jones' and the other has the surname 'Smith'.

I'm asking myself how the bloody hell I have managed this????

* Heading came to me as last week Reidski and I watched 'Super Size Me'. How utterly gross is that film???????

It seems to be my day for using lots of ??????????

Monday, September 29, 2008

Incompetent idiots

Following the mishap with the orange juice and the family laptop (deceased) I was strongly advised by the guy who wrote the laptop off on behalf of my insurers to buy a Dell. Firstly he said they were reliable and spare parts were readily available, and also he said that I could get a better machine than the one I had lost for over a £100 less, and whilst that would still leave me out of pocket due to the insurance excess payment, it would not leave me so much out of pocket. I took his advice.

I ordered on line and was told the laptop would be delivered on or before the 6th October (two weeks from my order). I was therefore happy to get a phone call (albeit from a speaking machine) to say it would be delivered last Thursday morning.

I was able to keep track of where the order had got to online and so I checked that when at 3.00 on the Thursday afternoon it had not arrived. I tried to google the despatch company to get a phone number and that was when I knew I could have a problem. This was the first entry for Walsh Western. As you will see, if you can be bothered: Just the 59 complaints about their total inability to deliver laptops on behalf of Dell.

I won’t bore you with the details. Enough to say it inexplicably took the company until Saturday to get my laptop from Wellingborough to my house. This is a distance of less than 10 miles. Just the 48 hours later plus more irate phone calls to premium line numbers than I have energy to recall.

The laptop is very shiny. I fully expect that one day in the next five months I may even have the opportunity to use the thing if I get up early enough. My kids have lots of Facebook catch up to do first.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sunderland v Northampton Town

I didn’t go to this match. I knew fully well we wouldn’t win. Lightening doesn’t strike twice and we had already beaten Premiership Bolton to then get Sunderland in the League Cup. Furthermore, our league form has been nothing short of woeful so why on earth would I want to travel 220 miles there and 220 miles back on a Tuesday night to see us get hammered by a premiership team?

My son went though. He had to leave town at 1.15pm to get there and he got home at 3.00am – that is dedication or madness. Maybe both.

And as I knew fully well would happen we did indeed get beaten. Only that wasn’t the full story.

Reidski came up to see me last night. I know it is appallingly rude to have a mobile phone switched on when you are with someone but he understood that I needed mine to hand last night just to keep up to date with just how many we were losing by.

20 minutes in and we were 1 nil up. This did not disturb me as we have frequently these past weeks gone one up and have still contrived to throw the lead away – and that against the likes of Tranmere and Huddersfield so what chance did we have against Sunderland? I was though told we were playing Sunderland off the pitch. All that meant though was that Roy Keane would give all his players a bollocking at half time and they would destroy us in the second half .

80 minutes in and another text arrived. I fully expected to read we were now behind but instead I learnt we had just gone 2 up. Still I maintained we would lose, but at that moment I did have secret delusions of another great cup upset. I know! Stupid or what?

5 minutes later and Sunderland have pulled one back. By now we are in the car with the radio on . There was three minutes of injury time to be played…..and we conceded again in the third of those flaming three minutes. Extra time beckoned.

In extra time we dominated but could not score and so the match was decided on penalties. One day I just know the side I want to win will win a match on penalties. If I live long enough that is. Yesterday was not that day. I was nearly in tears when with the tally standing at 4-3 after they had taken 5 penalties we had our last one saved. God knows why I was so upset as it isn’t often I have the chance to say “I was right!” I knew, as already mentioned more than once, that we would not win at Sunderland.

But everyone who was at that match – including Roy Keane and, going by what I have read, all the Sunderland fans too – said we were robbed.

There is something about a love for a football team. At my level you get let down by the team over and again. You think to yourself “Sod them. It’s over between us! I will NOT be getting another season ticket in 2000/2001/2002/ (insert any old year - the same will always have been said)” Then something like last night happens and the love affair is well and truly rekindled and you suddenly just know that a turning point has been reached and your side is now going to make that charge to the top of the table.

(Bet now on the dead certainty that Brighton and Hove Albion will win at Northampton this coming Saturday.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Catch 22

When just recently I completed this thing about books I had read I said I had read Catch 22 and that was true, but I had struggled to read it. In fact I had struggled more than once. I know several people who tell me this is the best book ever written and it made me feel a bit stupid having to admit that I had never quite got its greatness. Anyway, doing that list prompted me to read it again and hooray! This time I really did appreciate it and understood nearly all of it…though I will never ever understand the maths which meant that Milo could buy eggs in Malta for 7 cents apiece and sell them for five cents and yet still make a profit on them. I must have read that passage in the book a dozen times and still don’t get it. (Capitalism is never a concept I can get my head around. Short selling of shares for example.… WTF? )

Back to Catch 22 and I loved the piece where Colonel Cathcart is looking to the chaplain to provide a prayer to offer up before the flying missions. “I don’t want anything heavy or sad. I’d like you to keep it light and snappy, something that will send the boys out feeling pretty good. I don’t want any of this Kingdom of God or Valley of Death stuff. That’s all too negative. ……. I’d like to keep away from the subject of religion altogether if we can.” The exchange concludes with the chaplain saying “I’m sorry, sir, but just about all the prayers I know are rather sombre in tone and make at least some passing reference to God. “

But the last word here has to be given to Yossarian. The psychiatrist tells him “You have a morbid aversion to dying. You probably resent the fact that you’re at war and might get your head blown off any second.” Yossarian replies “I more than resent it, sir. I’m absolutely incensed.”

P.S. I have been trying to think what that last line reminded me of and I have finally realised. It seems that some writer for Not the Nine O'Clock News may at one time have read Catch 22.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Anyone would think

What with this being my third post of the day that I have finally got access to a P.C after 10 days without such a luxury.

So anyway. Art. What is this Art of which we speak?

Last week we saw this at the Tate Gallery. In amongst your Gainsborough's and your Turner's and your Hockney's was Work No 850 which according to the blurb:

Work No. 850 centres on a simple idea: that a person will run as fast as they can every thirty seconds through the gallery. Each run is followed by an equivalent pause, like a musical rest, during which the grand Neoclassical gallery is empty.
This work celebrates physicality and the human spirit. (Martin) Creed has instructed the runners to sprint as if their lives depended on it. Bringing together people from different backgrounds from all over London, Work No. 850 presents the beauty of human movement in its purest form, a recurring yet infinitely variable line drawn between two points.

Yes, the piece consists of people running very fast through a long gallery at intervals of 30 seconds. And we loved it. Quirky and fun though obviously totally and utterly bonkers.

We looked at joggers in quite a different light for the rest of the week. Whilst previously we had just thought they were woman/man out for a run we now know they actually represent 'Art', and in the case of the large gentleman running in his suit 'Art as comedy.'

Why is it

That everytime a man does this someone says something along these lines.....

Paul Timberlake, a friend of Mr Cass said he was stunned about what had happened. “You would never have thought this of him,” he said. “He was such a nice bloke, he’d do anything for anyone and was very helpful and he absolutely loved his children.


Absolutely loved his children????

Evil, controlling, selfish bastard - yes.

Nice and loved his children - I really don't think so.

Wednesday's Guardian asksthe same question.

Reidski's fish pond

When Reidski moved into his flat about 18 months ago the garden resembled a jungle and we were quite surprised to find there was a pond hidden away amongst the undergrowth. We worked to clear the garden and the pond was now visible but the water in it was so filthy it was impossible to see if anything lived within it. After a few months however we realised there were a couple of fish somehow surviving against all odds and at that point we actually started feeding them. We also started a slow process of topping up with clearer water. This policy resulted earlier this year in a further surprise as we found out there were not two fish but three. We (or to be more honest – me as I was rather obsessed with these fish) kept on about what tough fish they were to have survived all this time in this filthy and neglected pond. The last but one time I was down at his place the fish were clearly visible and it was lovely watching them.

I was with Reidski last week. I went out to see the fish. I could only see one fish but wasn’t too worried as given that they had been invisible for so long before, I had no doubt they were in there somewhere. The week went on though, and still I could only see one fish at any one time.

It was when Reidski’s neighbour happened to mention he had seen a heron sitting on the fence studying the pond that I was forced to acknowledge the truth. Not only could we see the fish due to our work on the pond improvements – so could the heron.

I am really rather sad about this :-(

Friday, September 12, 2008

I now have something in common

with Lisa, and I am not just talking huge intellect, great taste and good looks here ( ;-) ). No, I refer to a lack of a home computer.

I came down the stairs first thing this morning to an unusual sight: My daughter moving at speed. She ran through to the kitchen from the living room and back again carrying a cloth which gave me a clue that there had been a spill of some description, although at that point I was n't aware just exactly how pricey a spill this particular spill would turn out to be.

Orange juice all over the laptop.

And surprise, surprise - orange juice + laptop = knackered laptop.

Strange but in spite of the times beyond number that I have told my kids off for eating and drinking whilst using the laptop I couldn't bring myself to be cross with her as she was so distraught. Anyway, I didn't need to get cross as both my sons were livid enough with her to provide more than sufficient anger to make up for the lack of it coming from my direction.

Initial enquiries suggest the chances of an economically viable repair are nil and so I will be well out of pocket due to the excess on my contents insurance having shot up so much due to my series of fairly recent unfortunate events (handbag stolen, car broken in to, cooker hob broken, fire in kitchen).

So basically - bugger it. I shall be getting a new laptop this weekend.

When you are in a rut

You gotta get out of it, out of it, out of it as The Ruts did used to tell us circa 1979.

And this gadget to my right, the love child of Caroline Smailes, seems to do the trick by taking us to new and previously unread blogs. It's not recommended if you actually have other things you need to be doing though as it should come with a user warning....

'Highly Addictive'.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


This post contains reference to an item many men prefer to know nothing about.

Body combat always used to be my favourite gym class - great for getting rid of that pent up aggression - but my current gym only started putting these classes on this week. I booked myself in for a lunch time class and went along to see if it was as good as I remembered.

Obviously I was not the only one keen to do the class as the studio was packed. All of us save for one brave bloke were female.

Anyway, for those who don't know what one of these classes is all about there is a lot of kung fu style kicking, leaping and punching to high energy music. Unfortunately it seems that someone must have put far too much into one of her kicks as suddenly I became aware that there was a tampon on the floor and it wasn't (how can I put this delicately?) in pristine condition. Now it could have been worse - from the condition point of view that is - but all the same it was not surprising that no one was in a hurry to reclaim their lost property. So what did we all do? We carried on with our leaps and our kicks, but made damn sure that when in that area of the studio we jumped just that bit higher to avoid skidding on the damn thing.

Any injury caused by said item would have made for a slightly unusual insurance claim.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Who says miracles never happen?

I thought Croatia were going to destroy us tonight.


One shouldn't laugh.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Believe the hype

Glasvegas are brilliant.

How not to treat your friend on her birthday

I have known my friend Julie for about five years since the time we got chatting at the gym. I had always been under the impression she was six months older than me and I was therefore concerned to learn she would be spending her birthday working and had nothing at all planned to mark her birthday. This was after all a significant birthday and it didn’t seem right that anyone should do absolutely nothing on it so I suggested she came out last night for a drink with me and Reidski.

I got her a card – not a nasty in your face ‘You are 50!’ type card but a nice tasteful one for me to write my own message in. I wrote ‘Happy (50th!!) Birthday (surely some mistake)’. My brackets – and most unfortunately - my horrendously embarrassing mistake too.

Julie is not, as it swiftly transpired, six months older than me – au contraire.

Will she ever forgive me I wonder?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Contrasting nights out.

Catch up time now. Last Monday my daughter, sister and niece saw Hairspray, The Musical in London. What a great feel good show it was. Everyone coming out of the theatre afterwards had great big smiles on their faces. No wonder it has won so many awards. I had got reduced priced tickets which were probably available because the night we went four of the main parts were taken by understudies, but all I can say about that is that god alone knows how good the usual actors must be because their understudies were superb. For anyone in need of cheering up this is highly recommended as a cure.

Before we went there we had a meal at a restaurant in Covent Garden. Three of our meals were really good but my sister said hers was ‘very ordinary’. When it was time to pay my sister was other wise occupied in the loo but to my surprise the manager arrived at our table and announced he was conducting a customer survey into our food. I told him that three of the four meals had been very good but that my sister had said hers was ‘very ordinary’. He immediately struck her meal off the bill without any argument and I was very impressed. He disappeared and my sister reappeared just as I was paying. “Stop!” she demanded. Then she told me she had complained about her meal en route to the loo so it did seem that the manager’s survey was not quite what it had appeared to be at the time, but regardless of that – well done to Brown’s in Covent Garden for their response to a complaint.

And now to the contrasting evening out in London: On Thursday Reidski and I saw this exhibition of skeletons at the Wellcome Collection and very thought provoking it was too. Looking at the mortal remains of previous residents of London is not exactly guaranteed to make one feel good but it was fascinating and a sharp reminder of our own mortality. There are 26 people featured in glass coffins and by each there is information about who they were, where they lived and what their bones tell us about the kind of lives they must have led whether in poverty, opulence, sheltered or violent. There were many skeletons with signs of fractured bones which suggested London has always been a bit on the rough side! There are maps showing where the various bones were discovered. One former graveyard is now a Pizza Hut. Not so many people were coming out of that with big smiles on their faces.

Had a weekend of not watching football. Our game scheduled against Stockport was cancelled due to the number of players Stockport had out on international duty. Bizarre but true.I do not have Setanta so missed the internationals too though I am not sure I care about that. I also missed the tennis yesterday as I had an allergic reaction to dust during the day and was worn out with sneezing so had an early night. (I have always maintained housework is bad for me.) But that Andy Murray eh? I have always of course been his number one fan. He is British don’t you know?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Where were you?

I got this from Counago and Spaves.

Princess Diana's death - 31st August 1997

The day before this we had been on a family holiday in Devon and had been packing up in torrential rain. My mum rang me very early the next morning and asked me if I had heard the news. “What news?” I asked. “Just go and turn on the tele” she said. As I went to turn on the tele I was guessing that where we had just been on holiday had flooded. It hadn’t. Or if it had it was with tears. Strange times. And I have to admit my first thought was “How very convenient for the Royals.” I feel I now have to add to that “How very convenient for the Royals that she was killed in a crashed car driven recklessly by a drunk driver” in case anyone thinks I am a nutter.

Margaret Thatcher's Resignation - 22nd November 1990

We had just moved house and there were boxes everywhere. Nothing got put away that morning though. I had been glued to the TV all week as those where the days when politics was so exciting. Who can ever forget John Sergeant’s encounter with Thatcher outside the Paris Embassy when she had declared her intention to fight to win the week before. I rang everyone I knew and some I had never met before (wrong numbers dialled in my haste) to spread the glad tidings. The wicked witch was finally out of Downing Street.

Attack on the twin towers - 11 September 2001

I was in the staff room at the gym where I was working at the time. There were four of us in there and there was a TV on the corner. It cut to live footage of a tower in flames. It happened that one of the people I was with was a former fire fighter and he started talking about how impossible a job it was going to be to extinguish that fire. As he spoke a plane flew into the other tower. We saw it happen and still didn’t believe what we had just seen. The newscaster couldn’t grasp what he had just seen either. I will never forget that surreal and dreadful moment.

England's World Cup Semi Final against Germany - 4 July 1990

In my old house with my first born and husband. Had been a nervous wreck ever since we got through to the semi’s. Nothing seemed important except the forth coming match. Thinking about it had been keeping me awake at night imagining that this time – at last – we would get through to the Final.

I cried. I do remember feeling such pride though. Not something I have felt much recently whilst watching England matches.

It is a very good thing I did not know Reidski at that time.

President Kennedy's Assassination - 22 November 1963

I don’t have a memory of the news breaking as I was only 4 but I do clearly remember seeing footage of little John at the funeral and understanding that something very sad had happened. I guess that must be one of my earliest memories of watching something on the television.

Anyone else want to give this one a go?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Until just now

I had no opinion either way about Kate Thornton. In fact as I don't watch the X Factor I wouldn't have known her if I passed her in the street. I think I would know her now though having just seen this truly bizarre article. If I did see her now I would be inclined to give the girl a great big hug and tell her not to let the bastards get her down and that she is bloody gorgeous.

One wonders just exactly HOW perfect any woman would have to appear NOT to get slagged off for looking 'frumpy' by that well known paper aimed at female readers - The Daily Mail.

Wednesday: Today it is Elle McPherson's knees which are causing the Mail angst. Last week they did the nation a service by drawing our collective attention to Victoria Beckham's dirty ear.

What will tomorrow bring?

Don't know what nonsense they chose to highlight yesterday but today they feature Tilda Swinton's bunion for reasons known only to the Mail's editorial team.

I have new neighbours

The house next door has been empty since February. The landlords had trouble renting it out probably due to the extortionate rent they were asking (£150 a month more than I pay for the twin semi). Anyway - it is let and the couple that have moved in seem perfctly nice but I am not too happy.

Our first neighbour here had two large dogs. Now I like dogs - always have done - grew up with them - would have one if I didn't go out to work. The problem with that first neighbour having dogs was that we have no border between the two houses and she would let her dogs come over my side and do what dogs must do - but what annoyed me was that she never played the responsible owner and seemed more than OK with me cleaning up after her animals. As a result of that experience my first choice neighbours would not have dogs.

My new neighbours have dogs.

They have two dogs.

To be precise they have two Rottweilers.

And the sodding great big things bark their fucking heads off every time one of us has the temerity to step foot outside our own back door.

I repeat: I am not happy.

Why does anyone wish to keep two dogs of that size and breed locked up in a small semi detached house all day long?

Am I being unfair to Rottweilers as a breed by tarring them all with the 'Can never be fully trusted' brush?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The following was written by a Bolton fan on the BBC website

Imagine for a second, you are a Northampton fan.

You are in two minds as to whether or not you should go to the game (Bolton v Northampton) because of the distance involved, and it being a Tuesday night match.

You notice that there's an hour long highlights programme on ITV, and decide, well... If we do well, we're guaranteed to get a lot of footage on there...

That makes up for it a little, and as such, you decide to stay home and listen on the radio, or watch SSN (or whatever).

You're astonished when the team are given a penalty, and its scored. Deep down you think, this can't last long...

But then, 2-0! Dreamland... But still, there's a nagging doubt at the back of your mind. You're maybe wishing you had gone to the game, but you tell yourself, oh well, I'll see all this later tonight on the highlights programme...

Then there's a red card, and suddenly, you really start to believe it could happen. With a few minutes left, 2-1, but surely its too late... But wait, drama... A disallowed goal...

For a second, you thought they'd thrown it away, but no!

At full time, you celebrate, and start clock watching until the highlights show begins...

You sit through about half an hour of Newcastle beating Coventry. Yes, it went to extra-time, but you can't help but think to yourself surely our game should have been given the first slot? Its not every day a Northampton fan can enjoy a result like this after all...

The minutes tick by, surely it will be on soon... Still nothing...

Seconds left now... the presenter says something along the lines of "by the way, Northampton beat Bolton tonight," and the show finishes.

You're outraged... How can they not show even a glimpse of the game?

Now, come back to being a Bolton fan.

Think back to the times when we were the giant killers...

I still have the extended highlights of our 3-1 victory at Highbury in the FA Cup, courtesy of MOTD...

Then there's the glory of our 2-0 win at Anfield when we were in the same league as Northampton are now.

Can you imagine, how you would feel, if those games had not been shown?

I feel sorry for the Northampton fans, who have been robbed of their moment in the sun...

This is me writing now -

I would like to know why a 60 minutes 'highlights' programme did not show a single second of probably the biggest cup shock of the night? Our match was the lead news item on the BBC's league cup web page. Our match was the lead football story on Sky Sports news and was the primary football report in most newspapers. ITV on the other hand did not show a single second of action. One-sided predictable wins were shown. But a team from League 1 beating a Premiership team 45 places above them in the league structure apparently didn't warrant inclusion. Why should I be surprised though? After all, the ITV network thought nothing of reneging on the ITV Digital deal and plunging many clubs like mine into the financial mire. (A lower league football fan never forgets these things.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Let me just say

that I am rather pleased.

My son rather less so. He had made what in my expressed opinion was the crazy decision to drive up to Bolton last night with a mate. He rang me early evening to say they had got as far as Coventry and had decided that they might not make Bolton in time for kick off so were going to see the Coventry Newcastle match instead. Not only was he devastated at missing our famous victory - he was none too happy when I texted him about Coventry's injury time equaliser - seeing as how the two of them had just left the match a minute before.

He said he has had more successful evenings.

Thank god for that eh?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Late Summer's Weekend Tale

I am suffering from that well known 21st Century syndrome known as Blogger’s Block. I think many of us fall victim to this from time to time – except for your Ian Dale’s and co – but I think my problem recently has been that my mind has been preoccupied with weird, wonderful and terrible things at work, and whilst part of me would like to share those stories past experience has taught me that writing about work on a blog is Not A Good Idea. Someone tried to get me sacked once because of it.

I might have written about how stunning West Side Story was at Sadler’s Wells, but Reidski’s account does that task far better than I could ever manage. So I give you –A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Another era ago, me and a group of friends used to have a weekend in Stratford upon Avon once a year – see a play, row on the river (that’s row a boat on the river, not have a row on the river – although sometimes there would be a bit of both), and drink copious amounts of alcohol. A nostalgic trawl through old photographs of these events recently led to us deciding to bring back the Stratford weekend – and to introduce the second generation to the delights of Shakespeare. (Actually this was my second attempt to teach my lads the joys of Shakespeare – the first not being what you might call an unqualified success…see below for replay of that story.)

This weekend therefore found an unsuspecting Stratford upon Avon invaded by a group of 13 of us. Things started as they were meant to continue with a trip to the pub before the matinee performance we were booked to see. Two of us were on the white wine. We did a bottle between us before the play.

The play itself was a great success in that in had something for everyone; even my A Level English Lit student son who swears he can not understand a word of Shakespeare had enough visual funnies to keep him happy. Only one amongst us fell asleep which was a major improvement on my family’s last trip to a play at Stratford. Nine of us went to see a Christmas production of Great Expectations three years ago – I was the only one that time who did NOT fall asleep. My friend Fiona was snoring….loudly.

Getting back to Saturday we came out the theatre at about half 5 and naturally went back to the pub. Another bottle of white wine for me and M. We were both feeling the effects, when to our dismay another bottle of white wine appeared. We gamely ploughed our way through that too. 7.00 found us in a restaurant – alas – with another bottle of white wine. I am not too clear about how I managed to hold it together by this stage, but it was something to do with M getting weepy through her alcoholic intake that left me worried about and protective of her which I think must have somehow kept me reasonably alert.

The reasonably alert bit lasted until we all went back to check into our hotel. It must have only been about half 8. I remember lying down on the bed – and the next thing I knew it was quarter past one. There were slumbering young people around me and I had no idea if they had been there all the time, or if they had been in, gone out again, and come back, and I wasn’t entirely sure if in fact I might have been out somewhere with them. I found out the next morning that they had been in, gone out and come back – but that all their attempts to stir me had been in vain. I don’t think I have EVER slept as deeply as I must have done then. The good bit was that I was hangover free in the morning which was more than any of the others over the age of 17 could say.

We did row – and row – on the river later. The rowing bit comes from a disgraceful tendency to competitiveness which manifests itself amongst us where ever we are divided into two teams. We hired a boat for 6 and one for 7, and obviously it was very important to ‘win’ the officially non existent ‘race’. As some amongst us are never going to be the next Steven Redgrave the rowing action itself left a lot to be desired and some people as a result ended up very wet – and not a little pissed off. Happily the being pissed off only lasted for about three hours so it didn’t spoil anything.

All in all, a great return to our Stratford Weekends, and we would be very happy to go back again this season and see Hamlet – only it appears that Lisa and her friends have bought all the available tickets :-) I am not sure what the attraction for this particular production might be?????

Here’s the July 2005 Shakespeare story:

The National Theatre has a fantastic offer of seats for £10 each. Both my son's have read some Shakespeare at school, and they like '10 things I hate about you' which I thought was quite promising (sort of Shakespearean), and the clincher in grabbing their attention...Dumbledore is starring in Henry IV Part 1 (and that Michael Gambon is in it too, I'd heard he was 'not bad'). To cut to the chase, I got tickets for me, them and my mum.

You will have seen the 'hoodie' debate. To summarise; any teenage boy who wears a top with a hood up is clearly a hooligan and must therefore be banned from polite society, which apparently includes the good shoppers of Bluewater Shopping Centre. I have never been there but clearly it must be packed with refined persons who would never slap their kids in public, swear loudly at their partners or drop chewing gum any where. It must therefore be unlike any shopping centre I have ever visited. I digress.

Seating arrangements were from aisle inwards Mum (age 70), me, (age secret) D (age 15), J (age 13), Unknown Male (uknown age but approx 30), Unknown Male's Wife (also age unknown). Half way through the first half I notice J is sitting wearing his hood up, and has his face covered beneath the jackets zip. He resembles a hooligan. I am perturbed, but having already been told to 'hush' by the guy in front of me when I opened a sweet...DURING A BLOODY SCENE CHANGE...(I noted he was on his own, billy-no-mates, and I can't say I'm surprised) I didn't dare say anything to him. The hood stayed up. His face stayed hidden. And both boys laughed alot. Partly I was pleased as this could mean they were understanding the jokes, but mostly I was getting a bit stressy because most of the time they were giggling there were n't any jokes being made.

The interval. Unknown Male is out of his seat, and so is J to share with me and mum what D already knows very well. It turns out the Unknown Male has been farting through out the first half, sometimes audibly (and was HE told to 'hush'? He was not!), but ALWAYS very, very smelly, hence J burying his face in his jacket. And how subtle was J in conveying this news? As you may imagine, every one remaining in their seats during the interval knew, including I'm sorry to say, Unknown Male's Wife, who looked mortified, doubly so when he returned within minutes bearing ice creams. She suggested they went for a walk, and I imagine pointed him firmly in the direction of the gents. J refused to sit in the same seat for the second half. My poor mother had that pleasure, but either her sense of smell isn't what it was, or he had done what was required as there were no further reports of anti-social behaviour.

And of course, when any one asks J how he found his first Shakespeare play he tells them that he didn't have a clue what the play was about but.....