Well, not toxic, exactly... maybe just a little bit rank. But in a nice way. With a garnish.

Monday, October 31, 2005

All Hallows Bloody Eve

I'm back in Cardiff and it's Halloween.

Apparently this means that all the shops must stock every conceiveable item but in Halloween-form. Don't buy a cake, buy a Halloween cake. Buy a pumpkin pie. Buy a pumpkin. Buy a pumpkin card.
Dress up your children as weirdoes and send them out into the cold, dark night to offer themselves up as sacrifices at the doorstep of the local paedophile.

We're all very grateful that all the supermarkets and shops have found yet another date and another bandwagon to leap onto. Because I was worrying that I might be forced to spend an evening not jumping up every five minutes to answer the bloody door and swear at the local children.

I went to Tesco to buy some non-pumpkin flavoured yoghurt for my lunch and noticed that the staff were wearing Halloween t-shirts.
As Halloween is a complete non-event and only lasts one evening a year... and no one knows what the hell they're doing or why they're doing it (other than to emulate the Americans who apparently must be copied at every opportunity), I drew the conclusion that this is a total, utter waste of money.

I admit it, I'm a grumpy old git.
Tonight I'll be refusing to answer the door and hiding in the kitchen with the lights off.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

history - sanitised and modernised

Back way back when, the mountains leaned protectively over the town and the grey sky pressed its cold damp breath into your clothes.

This is North Wales - magical land dominated by tall rocky humungous towering lumps of granite and slate - Snowdonia, crowned by Snowdon (or Y Wyddfa, in Welsh), the highest mountain of both England and Wales, home of the eagle.

The people spoke ancient Welsh, the language of the fierce Celts.
They worshipped the trees and the sun and the tides and the moon. These were the things that gave you food or shelter... or took away your health... and so you honoured them by day and made sacrifices by sun-down.

Castles protected the ports from the Irish and Scottish, the mountains protected the countyside from the English.

I'm Welsh. I speak Welsh (or at least, the North Walean variety... more commonly known as Bangor-Aye) and there's a pride that I feel when I go back home and remember the battles and struggles I could never have seen but that are in my blood. I remember the skirmishes and the blood-shed and death... I taste the salt air and smell the sweat of warriors.

Well, that is until I drive through 21st-century Bangor.

Bangor which, has to my now more metropolitan eyes, become tiny. It's shrunk. Even having a Marks and Spencers doesn't impress me. Tesco Extra might be coming to town, but it still has to breathe in, squeeze into its corset, primly gather up its skirts and wriggle its way in between The Big Road and Top Kwiks.
It still only takes twenty minutes to walk from one end of town to the other.
It might be a city but really it's a town with town-sized things. The people think in town-size and just under the surface there's a glimpse of the past.

It doesn't fool me. I know it's still there, under the PC World car park.
The history I mean, not some poor sod's body.

People used to chew on willow bark and collect elderberries for medicines and wine. Not any more... they'll be in New Look nicking accessories or down behind the cathedral copping a quick snog and drinking White Lightening.
People in Bangor now are indistinguishable from any other Chavs in chav-land. Bling, track-suits, babies covered in snot. Blokes with nicotene stains up to their elbows and trainers from the market.
Hardly a city full of warriors. Although I suppose you get a bit of action outside the pubs at closing, if you count someone taking a swing and promptly puking down their fake Adidas shell suit.

But if you're looking for reminders of ancient history there are still little artifacts dotted around, missed by the bulldozers and the kids from the estate.
Drive along past the swimming pool, and there, pitiful, is a tiny slate standing-circle. It's been there forever... we Bangor folk don't even notice it any more, we look past it just like we look past Dickies boat yard and the University, proud, overlooking the city. We have stopped seeing these things because they have always been there.

So this Standing Circle.
There was a time it was a secret place, hidden in a clearing in the woodland, sacred and quiet. You would only go near it if you were very brave or very stupid. Druids killed; they made sacrifices to the goddess and you wouldn't exactly want to be nearby and handy, if you get my drift.

I suppose it's better now, better this way. We've cleared the trees apart from 3 or 4 pathetic weak crappy specimens planted by the council. We've built a swimming pool just next to it, and a football pitch. You get clamped if you park on the road alongside it unless you park in the doctor's surgery.
Now they are just there, using up space, providing a surface for Gareth to declare his love for Gwenllian in black marker pen. There's a bench nearby, if you want to brave the chewing gum and the dog shit.
Telephone lines above, ley-lines below.. and the fumes from D&G buses cover it all with a film of grey carbon.

Friday, October 28, 2005


I really hate dolls. Everything about them.

-The fact that they are a reminder to little girls that this will be their postion in life - even at only 18 months old we're training them to take care of babies.
-The fact that they aren't even cuddly, they're knobbly hard bits of plastic.
-They even make dolls now that crap.

I mean, come on! I remember dolls that cried back from when I was a kid and that was bad enough. But now they poo and wee. Outrageous.

They've got scary freaky faces that are supposed to look cute but to me look horrifying. No thanks, not for me. You won't catch me cuddling a Chuckie-look-alike freaky plastic mini-human, my maternal instincts stopped at er... well, I think they passed me by, to tell the truth.

If I EVER had the misfortune to procreate then I would make sure my child, whatever sex, was supplied with only FUN toys. No formative-year-brainwashing for my little 'un. Enforced hilarity would be the order of the day, all 365 of them, day after day, year after fun-filled year.

So I spent the afternoon today playing with my three nephews and two nieces. I'm there, playing with skateboards and guns and cars and FUN STUFF. Wahey! This is great, I can behave like a 10 year old without feeling guilty. I even got mud on my trousers. Fantastic!

Then it all plummets downhill with breathtaking scary girliness.........
My eldest niece at only 23 months is showing an alarming interest in dolls. Oh, and pink things. (I Hate pink).
She obviously doesn't share my moral objections to either Pink or Babies. Either that, or she has been recruited by my gran in her mission to make me into a GIRL.
She looked up at me with her gorgeous eyelashes eyelashing... and held out a soggy grubby doll.

I had that blocked-ear thing. You know, the one where it sounds like you're underwater. Terrified, I smiled and tried to ignore the Please-Hold-My-Dolly all too-comprehensible toddler nonsense talk, pretending to get really interested in a Wet-Wipe.

"Gurgle-Gurgle-BABY", she said again, in a chatty cutey way and pushed it onto my quivering lap.
Me, aghast; she, unaware that she had just broken my very Spirit. My soul crumpled and again, my street-cred took a major beating as (relieved that none of my friends could see) I cuddled the Hideous-Doll-Thing and smiled as lovingly towards it as I could force my protesting face-muscles to creak.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

card trouble

I've forgotten once again. My card is playing up and obviously has a grudge against cash tills.

I don't object particularly - I don't much like cash tills myself. Understandable. Queueing is never my idea of fun and then there's the business of having to hand over money......
It's just that for the second time in as many days the woman at the till is looking at me with resentment in her eyes, announcing to all the people waiting behind that she needs another form of payment. I balk at the unspoken accusation.

I have that sweaty feeling down my spine and my face turns an attractive shade of embarrassed. I know there's money in my account, so why won't my card let me have it?
A line of pissed-off looking shoppers glare at me and start putting their shopping back into their trolleys... and I rummage through my wallet hoping that somehow, a stray five pound note has fallen into my possession. I mean, who carries cash around with them?

Maybe a friendly stranger will push forward and offer to lend me some cash?
What am I saying? Friendly stranger my arse. And besides, if someone did, I would think they were some kind of lunatic and sprint, arms above my head, waving Penelope Pitstop-style for the nearest security guard.

Talking of security guards, there's one here right now, reclaiming my bag of shopping and leading me to the Customer Service desk, my face lighting the way.
Handy if they have a powercut at this very second, I think; it won't make much difference at all, apart from the fact that Tesco would now be lit like a brothel. "No, Not a problem, let me provide moody lighting with my face, I can do Muzac too, if I rig an mp3 player to my forehead".

They hold my shopping while I protest that Yes, I am a responsible citizen who has money in my account, and besides, Don't You Know Who I Am? (No, why would they? I can't answer that one either..) and please let me prove how nice I am, I used to drive old ladies to church.......

I hurry, laden with shame, to the cash machine and return triumphant, grasping a handful of notes in my now very sweaty palm. Redeemed, I pay up, reunited finally with my shopping.

'Bout time I order a replacement card, I remind myself, fighting through the crowd of trolley-pushing, wig-wearing, walking-stick waving, over-excited onlookers and, street-cred in tatters I make a dash for my car.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Damn kids....

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

beer, please

The best thing about being a real ale drinker is that I get to stand in the supermarket and choose the bottles with the most outrageous names. The fact that beer is the most gorgeous liquid known to mankind can only be a bonus.

Really. Beer now comes with the most ludicrous names pasted to the bottle. Only a real ale drinker can down a HobGoblin without feeling guilty (or making history).

So there I am, faced with row upon row of bottles, each a different shape and size, each with a (mini) epic printed on the side explaining how Fursty Ferret got it's name and how WaggleDance came to being.

When I buy wine, I have a set criteria - no room for deviation.
i) it must be white
ii) it must be dry
iii) it must be 11.5% or over
If a bottle fails to fit within these parameters, then I don't even give it a second glance.
Quick, easy, no imagination required.

Beer is a different animal.
The alcohol content doesn't come into play; a high percentage doesn't necessarily improve the taste.
The label is everything.

In the old days you went for a pint of mild, or smooth, or dark, or pale... or just plain old bitter.

Luckily times have moved on and now Imp comes with me (even though she hates beer) because beer-shopping has become a form of entertainment.
What shall I have?
I could go for Bishop's Finger or Black Sheep... but I had those last time. However, tantalisingly on the next shelf down is a row of Banana beer and next to that is Otter Creek.
But really, they're a bit boring.

Me? I'm fickle. I go for visual gratification.

Today I go wild. Today I go for a Fumble Down Under followed by a swift Slap In The Chops and finishing up with a Soggy Smug Smirk.

A long, lingering look at The Dog's Bollox... and Imp and I load up the trolley and trundle off looking for the cider...

Monday, October 24, 2005

Please tell her it's only a mushroom...

Sunday, October 23, 2005

And finally..

Apparently Pope John Paul, when he died earlier this year, said on his deathbed "At long last I am going home to be with my Father", or something similarly virtuous.

Einstein, on his deathbed, said something astounding and profound... but he said it in German. Unfortunately no one in the room spoke German, so those words of wisdom will be forever lost.

Got me thinking. It seems expected that if you're famous or respected in some way, you really do have to come through with something outstanding in order not to disappoint.
"Ouch! My heart..." just doesn't cut it. We want to hear pearls of wisdom and insights into the next world.
We want advice, a summary, spiritual direction, the revealing of secrets....

I've got to say, this would raise a few problems for me if ever I were in the position that I was laid in bed surrounded by loved ones and others waiting to record my passing.

The obvious one would be drafting. I would need to prepare it in advance so that I could be sure I said something worthwhile. But then I would keep changing it. So that would be me, on my deathbed, frantically scribbling onto the back of a brown envelope... waiting for THAT MOMENT.

Which leads to problem 2. How do you know when you've got to that moment? What if you leave it too late and you don't get it out before you pop your clogs? Or worse, you could say your bit too early and then have to wait there for hours in agony... not daring to say anything in case you spoil it... and really not making the most of the whole death-thing.

What if you forgot your lines?

What if you suddenly lost the ability to speak?

Aaargh. As if dying isn't bad enough, now I'm going to be worrying about my final words. Knowing my luck I'll say my bit (final draft) about war and love and humanity and helping one another... and everyone will have a tear in their eye. The vicar will be to one side waving a spangley handbag of incense and the atmosphere will be one of loss and hope and sadness.
It'll be then that I remember....
"Oh, I forgot, I left a load of dirty knickers in the machine, can you stick it on for me?..."


Friday, October 21, 2005


Blaenafon is a tiny little town near the top of one of the South Wales valleys.
This means that the only running water is from the sky and you’re welcome to flick the light switch but you might want to be wearing wellies before you try it.

I sat in the Job Club waiting for my client.
Admittedly, ‘Job Club’ is a grand term for ‘room above the café’. So I sat in the room above the café listening to the old ladies talking in their VERY LOUD South Wales accents about things which they really weren’t experts on but having a loud voice gives you the authority to pretend you are.

Old Lady #1 "Apparently she pushed in the queue. Or something like that.
So the other woman found a knife that was lying around, or something."

Old Lady #2 "Oh, It’s terrible, I don’t know what the world is coming to theses days. It’s because it’s the Space Age, you know."

Old Lady #1 "…And she just stabbed her in the back, just like that, she did."

I sat and contemplated the influence of the Space Age on the general law and disorder of the country.

Old Lady #1 "It was because she was posh, you see."

Well that explains it then.

The room was crooked. In fact, it sloped away from the front and rear walls and disappeared into an alarming tilt in the middle. I was sitting on a slant, chair at an angle, body compensating, like being parked sideways on a hill. Health and Safety would have a field day if they saw this. Good posture would find you slowly toppling over like someone knocked unconscious in a cartoon.

The rain hammered down outside and my mobile phone, balanced on the windowsill in the vain hope of a temporary passing signal, steamed up with condensation.

He wasn’t going to turn up. Not in this weather.
People in Blaenafon only turn up if you are going to either listen to them gossip or, if they are under 50, if you can give them some decent tips on how to grow cannabis in your wardrobe.

I gathered my belongings and descended back downstairs into the busy café full of old ladies feeding on shock and scandal and tiny scones with a teaspoon of jam.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

perfect bangs

What are "bangs"?

*Note to Americans - I know you can't help being American but I really think you ought to be doing more to counteract the effects. Why can't you use normal words like everyone else? If I were marking your report-cards, I would have to say 'Could do better'.
Let that be a lesson to you.

After a fair amount of research I've come to the conclusion that in America, 'bangs' is another term for 'fringe'.
Just got to point out, here in Britainland, we have a whole other set of definitions:

bangs (verb) present tense. Makes a loud noise by hitting something. eg. He bangs the drum.
(noun) plural. More than one bang. eg. I heard the bangs in the distance.
bangs (verb) present tense. To shag relentlessly, copulate. eg. He bangs her every lunchtime doggy-style behind the bike sheds.

In my quest to be the envy of all my friends and have the straightest fringe in Cardiff, I found this handy, yet attractive gizmo.

You guessed it - this strange torturous-looking device can only be American.
The site has to be described as a total treat.. please visit it!

It bears the oh-so-innocent legend "Bangs make women look younger..."
Is that as a result of an experiment, I wonder?

When I feel in need of an iron structure clamped across my face... not dissimilar I would imagine to something straight out of A Clockwork Orange (pin back those eyelids, lets trim yer lashes... and don't scream!) then I'll have my credit card out quicker than you can say Iron-Maiden-For-Faces.

While I'm on the whole subject of hair-cutting, it would be remiss of me not to point out that on the same website there are also some essential pieces of kit for those of us who grapple with hairy faces. And men.
Er - men who grapple, I mean. Not people who grapple with men. I'm glad we've cleared that up.

Luckily they are well prepared.
Sexy gadgets - left, right and centre.
Hair-removing cream? Not for me. Not since I discovered

Now all I have to do is slip on the handy slidy-glasses thingy and shave up to the line.
What a relief.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

well bugger me!

I'm a member of St John Ambulance.
That means I'm incredibly knowledgeable, sexy and come with an ambulance attached.
I am NOT an anorak - I repeat not an anorak.

Contrary to popular belief, it's been a while since we were encouraged to treat injuries with Extra Strong Mints... oh, must be at least 6 months, if I remember rightly.
White handbags with plasters and bandages are out, much to the dismay of all us girlies.
I assigned my bonnet and my swirly dress to the cupboard under the stairs with a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat.

(I don't know how we can be expected to effectively treat people for cardiac arrest when we're being forced to fill our kits with medical supplies and pack our knitting away. I was just in the middle of a delightful little cardigan with an attractive wide mohair collar to keep the poorly people warm. It's a crying shame.)

These days there's an obsession with training and keeping people alive.
Most impractical when all you want is to sit in the back of the ambulance and swap Summer Pudding recipes.

*Oh for the old days.

So I drove to the headquarters for our weekly corpse-snogging session and parked as usual in the car park behind the building.

It's worth pointing out that outside the front of the building, there are usually a few women wondering around who seek employment - let's say, in the front seat of a gentleman's car.
It appears that Monday night is quite a busy night and if you're lucky, you can spot 5 or 6 of the lovely ladies.
This is a popular form of entertainment in my division. People think we sit around training. Pah! We spit on training. We play hooker-bingo. 2 points for a basque, 5 for varicose veins and chillblains.

On this particular Monday evening I must have been looking particularly gentleman-like.
You do the sums. Short hair, it was dusk, me in a car... and er... in the act of parking.
(Don't forget the intense animal magnetism and sexual energy.)
My passenger door opened and someone got into my car.

Now I'll try anything once (apart from sushi) but it's true to say I had a bit of a surprise.
Judging by her reaction, so did she.

I tried to ignore the whooping, cheering and whistling coming from the headquarters' meeting room window.
10 points to me.
That's all I'm saying.

How I made my millions

How to make millions - part 1

"Look into my eyes. Look into my eyes. The eyes. The eyes. Not around the eyes. Don't look around my eyes. Look into my eyes... you're under."

You could hypnotise the cashier down Natwest.

So this bloke goes around hypnotising bank staff and making off with the dosh. You've got to applaud his sheer cheek!
I'll be trying to track him down, certainly... I need friends like that. If you meet him, send him in my direction.

In the meantime I'll be coming up with other innovative ways to make my fortune.
Watch this space...

Monday, October 17, 2005

so far....

So far the results of the poll look like this:

I'm pleased to note that most people (very sensibly, can I say), go for kittens as feet.
Obviously this is a really serious scientific survey and therefore the results could affect millions of people worldwide.
Those lunatics who opted to eat their own legs.... care to explain yourselves?

Vote here

grumpy cow

I'm being a right old misery today.
Don't ask me to do anything for you, cos I won't. I didn't get enough sleep and now I'm miserable.

If you really want to know why, then follow the link.
If you don't, then don't. Bugger off then. See if I care. I just wanna have a kip.

Only 9 hours to go 'til I can go home....

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Lara Croft, I'm not.

I am so unfit that I almost died today.
Well, not died, exactly. That would be exaggerating.
I am about 2 inches shorter due to wearing my legs down into little stumps and my heart is booked in for respite care.

My brother, however, seemed immune from the laws of physics and side-stepped gravity for the day. Extreme heart-bursting slopes to him were as irrelevant as hand-brakes on canoes.

Him: What cliff?
Me: The one I just crawled up on my hands and knees. See the grass stains on my chin? That's because we just happened upon a 200m vertical climb.

If I'm going to become a world-famous Mountain Walking Instructor, then I need to deal with the small issue of not being very good at climbing mountains.

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

14kms, 3 peaks, 2 egg and cress sandwiches, a litre of water, a Snickers bar and a minor cardiac arrest later, I'm now safely installed back at my flat wondering whether I should set my sights a bit lower and become a Walking Up The Road Instructor.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


There's not enough time to explain...

Would you rather have kittens for feet, or children for teeth?
Kittens for feet
Children for teeth
I would rather eat my own legs

Free polls from

Friday, October 14, 2005


I'm taking the view that no publicity is bad publicity when it comes to blogging. I haven't quite worked out what exactly I need publicity for to be honest, but if I see a bandwagon, I'll jump on it (as long as it isn't full of clowns, which really would be unbearable.)
This site is certified 34% EVIL by the Gematriculator
However, at risk of using a dangerous level of cliches, I notice that every cloud has a silver lining... or the glass maybe is half full rather than half empty?
This site is certified 66% GOOD by the Gematriculator
Maybe that's the bit I should show my Mum.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

where trees come from

It's autumn. At long last.
Finally I can stop washing my car every 5 seconds due to sap-leakage.

Now I just have to wade through the fallen leaves and pick them out from under my windscreen wipers before I can go anywhere.

I realise this makes me sound like the Victor Meldrew of commuting but there's really no getting away from it - I'm a grumpy old git.

Anyhow I think this picture illustrates pretty much how I feel about the lime trees outside my house in an 'Up Yours' kind of a way. Heh heh!

gypsy camp

I was working on a travellers camp this morning.

It was a rough old place. Last time I was there a dog bit my fingers.
So I don't go if I can help it.

It reminded me however, of when I was a kid at primary school in deepest, darkest North Wales.

My best friend was a Romany Gypsy. She lived on a gypsy site just up the road from my village and did gypsy things like read palms.. and cry when she had to go into a building that wasn't on wheels.
Her older brother was caught smoking when he was 9 and I don't think he went to school after he reached double figures.
They both always had warts on their hands. I was so jealous.

I was always quite envious of their lifestyle. They had a granny that said wise things and sat around looking shrivelled.. and they had dogs with legs missing and they always smelled of herbs (the kids, not the dogs).

They all had Irish names and dark skin and endless family members at every turn. Uncles with skinny faces and interesting things in their pockets (knives and small bags of cannabis).
Infinate numbers of cousin-children, running around in bare feet and playing with broken bottles.
Oh, and there always seemed to be at least one kid every year out of the huge pool of relatives, getting run over on the Main Road. There's a little cluster of wooden crosses and bunches of flowers there permanently, now.
*It must be some kind of obscure Romany tradition - sending one child a year to be sacrificed. Perhaps it's a coming of age thing. Or maybe they should get their heads around the idea that playing Chicken isn't good.

The other thing was that they all seemed to have a horse. One per caravan.

Given that they all lived in static caravans with little brick porches, it all seemed a bit bizarre. Maybe they kept them in case they decided one night to bash down the porches and hitch the caravans up to their rusting Ford Cortinas and slowly limp off into the night.
The horse must have been a gypsy version of the RAC. Car breaks down; horse tows car+caravan.
I hope they never actually did it, for the horses' sake. They weren't exactly Shire horses... I could have hidden one under my arm and smuggled it home with me if I'd thought my Mum wouldn't have noticed.

I never went there very much. But when I did there was a sense of magic about the place. It made me daydream of trees that whispered and mists that swallowed you up at night. Birds that became tame and who could carry you on their backs. There was always music and strange language and I always wished I wasn't quite so white.

I used to hope that they would invite me to live with them and that I would learn to talk to animals.
Really! I did!

I obviously read far too much Enid Blyton. Someone smack me round the head please, I need a reality check.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Big Brother

I seem to remember perhaps from a long way back, some advertising to the effect that TV Detector vans could detest your illicit unpaid-for TV viewing and wouldn't hesitate to burst in, rip you away from your episode of Tomorrow's World, and throw you immediately into prison.

Or maybe it was an urban myth?

This image of a van, driving up and down the streets of Britain, satellite dishes bleeping and twitching, little geeky man in the back flicking switches and monitoring erm... well, monitors, in fact.

Well it's not true.
In fact to use a technical term, it's a load of old Bollocks.

I've been getting threatening letters recently, telling me that the TV Police are going to burst into my flat and forcibly remove my possessions to the value of a £1000, cut off my tongue, remove my saleable internal organs and leave me for dead in the middle of my televisionless livingroom.

I wouldn't mind, if I knew that I had been a tiny bit naughty with non-payment of licenceness.
However, my flat is a TV-free zone.
Let me repeat - it's devoid of said broadcasting receivership.

The thing that's pissing me off is that the TV Licencing Authorities see themselves as the godheads of light entertainment - how could I possibly exist without a TV?
Quite happily, is the answer.

So they refuse to believe me.

I rang up the nasty TV people today and told them in my usual charming way how unhappy I was that:
  1. They were assuming that I had a TV.
  2. Based upon these unqualified assumptions, they were sending me threatening letters.
  3. That they were assuming some kind of ownership on my premises simply because they couldn't believe that a British subject could make it through the day without a dose of Trisha.

They in their non-charismatic Bollockness told me that I have to wait in for an unspecified amount of time until a TV Licence Enforcement Officer calls around to verify that I'm not a lying toerag and can be trusted to run my own life without their stewardship.

I'm beginning to wonder whether they might hit me over the head and inject me with some kind of Complience Serum in order to make me agree to have a television. This will mean that they can feed me subliminal orders while watching Churchill Car Insurance adverts, punishing me for any thoughtcrimes and telling me to leave the flat now and meet with the rest of the Party in the main square where I can wave a pitchfork and frighten off foreigners.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

new directions

I keep coming up with new and exciting things that I'm going to do as change in career... but so far I haven't done any of them.

It's not that I don't like being a Community Outreach Worker, I do.
Well, apart from all the paperwork that comes with it - I seem to suffer some kind of mental block when it comes to forms. In a terminal way.
I have a habit of piling them up on my desk and ignoring them until it's too late to do anything with them.

So far the world hasn't ground to a halt so I see that as a minor triumph.
I'm sure however, that at some point someone more senior than me will notice all the stuff that's not being done... and I suspect that at that point that the world (as I know it) will grind to a shuddering emergency-style stop.

So I need some contingency plans.

This is my most recent list:

1 - Finish my Mountain Leadership qualifications and get a job er... leading up mountains.
2 - Become a world champion female weight-lifter.
3 - Become a Mountain Unicycle Instructor.
4 - Become a carpenter.

I like all of the above.

The drawbacks are:

1 - Mountain Leader - takes time and a lot of money. Haven't got much of either.
2 - Weight-lifter - I have potential but I hate gyms.
3 - Unicycle Instructor - lack of demand.... and inability to unicycle.
4 - Carpentry - not well paid and I don't know any carpenters.

Ah there we go then, I'll have to get out the Yellow Pages and see if someone will take me on as a (highly-paid) apprentice.

Watch this space...

swallowed up

While I'm merrily posting pictures, here's an imaginitive publicity campaign... made me look!

Monday, October 10, 2005

My job's not that bad

It might be Monday but there are times that I really should count my blessings.

This made me smile somewhat.

I've got to say, if I was that bloke I would be morbidly drawn in an OCD kind of way, to looking for evidence of bits of poo, in each of these marvellous specimens.


Saturday, October 08, 2005


People joke about how polite the British are.. and they're not wrong.

There's a deep-down need to not offend that's instilled in all of us from birth onwards. Obviously, there are exceptions - they are Chavs and solicitors. The rest of us follow a complicated set of unwritten social rules.

I was at a conference yesterday. In order to get 600 people through two dooways right at the beginning, there was a certain amount of waiting, hovering, squeezing, bumping.

I had my feet trodden on by a very overweight balding old bloke, I was jabbed in the scalp by a woman lowering her brolley (yep, it's autumn!), punched in the throat by someone turning around with a handbag over her shoulder and generally shoved and prodded.

For all of these, I took responsibilty and viewed them as offences on my part. Clearly I shouldn't have been shorter than the woman with the bag, stood where I was, had my head in the way, or put my feet where someone else wanted to tread.

I apologised to each of these people, wiped the blood and gamely battled on.

Can I just take this opportunity again to apologise to anyone who I might have unwittingly inconvenienced in any way by just being here.
I'm very, very sorry.

Friday, October 07, 2005

sensible shoes

I hated having new shoes when I was little.

There were two reasons for this.

The first reason was that back in the seventies, there wasn't a lot of choice when it came to footwear.
We used to go to Clarks in the highstreet because they did 'sensible' shoes. It was the most expensive shoe shop around and, we were a poor family but no matter, it did a better quality of shoe than Freeman, Hardy and Willis. Clarks fitted according to width, and this apparently was the pinnacle of shoe-fitting.

It was a depressing place although brightly lit, every wall stacked floor to ceiling with shoeboxes on shelves, each with just one shoe balanced on top (the other one was in the stockroom, so that you couldn't steal them).
The Mothers' Choice of school footwear at the time was a hideous leather thing with a solid block of a heel and a strap that was fastened with a buckle. This strap fed through a kind of tongue-thing, thus leaving you with two arches of sock showing at the front.
What made these shoes even worse were that they had a flowery shape punched in little dots on the toe and that they only seemed to come in various shades of brown. Oh, or in patent black.
Obviously, I hated brown, or patent anything.

I detested them with every fibre of my tiny being.

Invariably I would be forced to wear this same style every time it was deemed that my feet had grown so much that a trip to Clarks couldn't be put off any longer.

The second reason I hated having new shoes was The Machine.

It stood menacingly at the back of the shop and was the height of technology - everyone was talking about it. No longer did you put your foot into a plastic measurer. Clarks had A Machine.

Looking like a set of automated scales it waited for you to come and put your foot in the slot... where metal blocks slid up to your foot and stopped, giving an accurate measurement.
I was terrified of it.
You would imagine that I was afraid that the sensors might not work and that my foot would be crushed... but no, that wasn't it.
In fact, I quite liked the feeling.

The consequences could be much worse than merely having your foot crushed to pulp, I thought. I would welcome having my feet crushed to a bloody mush, rather than go through what was in my head, I tell you.

During some earlier visit a well-meaning shop-assistant had told me that if I put my foot in the machine, it would take pictures of my foot. I, however mis-heard her and thought it was going to put pictures on my foot.
I spent many months thinking about this in disbelief. I couldn't understand how it could be true, or possible, but whatever, I was 6 and they were in control. I didn't want pictures. I didn't like what they thought was 'cute' and I became convinced that 'cute' was what would be imposed upon me like some sort of an-aesthetic nightmare onto my feet.

For years after that, each and every time my Mum dragged me to Clarks, I was convinced it was some kind of Tattooing Russian Roulette... that if it was today that my number was up and my luck ran out, needles would appear out of the machine and I would leave having pictures of ducks, teddy bears and other childish pictures forever etched into my skin with indelible ink.
This, to me, equalled Horror.

I quite liked my feet the way they were.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Say No! to mornings

I'm not a morning person.
The amount of energy taken to lever myself out of bed can be directly mapped on a chart, with 'Day of the week' on the x axis and 'energy / fear' on the y axis. It gets easier to get me out of bed as the week progresses... however come Saturday and it plummets back to 'not until after 11am'.

There are other complicating factors.

If, for example, you could set up some kind of drip system that kicked in around 4 am and fed a steady supply of caffeine into my bloodstream until around 7 o'clock, I might have a fighting chance of getting out of bed before the snooze alarm goes off a third time.

Another thing I find that helps me out of bed is the impression that the house might be on fire.
However the drawbacks to this is that you would either have to rig up some kind of complicated multi-coloured flickering lighting system, or, actually set the house on fire.
The first of these I would get used to pretty damn quickly and learn to ignore.
The second of these would only work once and then would become a victim of its own success.

It is, however, noticeable to all around me that I only achieve a discernable pulse at around 11am and manage to move from the desk to the photocopier (and back again) without my joints popping and creaking alarmingly, a couple of hours after lunch.

I think perhaps a sensible solution to this could be making mornings illegal.
I've thought this through. Honestly, I think it could work.

This would even be pretty easy to police - the streets should be deserted until midday and anyone spotted out and about before this time should have a valid reason for being out of bed. Either being a postman, or staggering home after a hearty night out (in this case you should be forced to take a breathiliser test and you would fail if your alcohol levels are below 3 times over the limit) , or have a out-of-bed-early licence.

I'll be willing to adjust my thinking if I could be given some kind of Royal Pardon from mornings.
Can you tell the Queen, if see her... oh, and get her to ring my boss?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

road wars

C'mon, c'mon c'mon you swine!

I growled under my breath as I released the handbrake and screeched forward 4 inches before slamming on the brakes and crouching, every muscle tense, behind the steering wheel, waiting for the Vauxhall Corsa in front of me to move on again and STOP blocking my way. To say nothing of the car on front of that.. and that... and that.

The bloke in the Corsa glanced nonchalantly in his rear view mirror at me and edged forward a whopping 1/2 car length before coming to rest once again. Just to spite me.
Clearly the whole car-owning population of Britain was out to get me this morning, evidently because they must have heard that I wanted to get to work in good time.
I swore some more and lurched to within 6 inches of his rear bumper.
That'll teach him.

Behind me, White Van Man smoked another cigarette and picked his spots.
Next to me a woman in a green BMW raced forward about 10 inches and glanced slyly sideways at me. Obviously she was planning to cut me up and rob me of 15 feet of progress. I stared resolutely forward and, without making eye-contact, kept astute watch, protecting my patch on the motorway.
I crept ahead another foot.

So did she.

I pretended to whistle and recklessly moved forward another time. The bloke in the Corsa started looking twitchy.
Beaten, BMW woman dropped back and I arose as victor, dominant and undefeated.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Is this legal?

Brings new light to the phrase 'Knightrider'.

Monday, October 03, 2005


Do you remember all the disgusting things about childhood?

- I used to love dripping on toast. Honestly – totally LOVE it.
My mum had a pot that she kept in the fridge… and every time she cooked meat she would tip the fat into the pot and put it back in the fridge to set. We would tuck into it, spread thickly on top of Marmite on toast.
*note: this was a treat, not a form of punishment.

- I also used to eat raw sprouts, dipped into salt. This also was a delicacy in our house.

Kids these days eat Curly Wurlys. I ate salty raw sprouts.

- I used to drink cabbage water.
Now I have to say, this is something I struggle to believe myself now, but back then I really adored it. And never caught a whiff of Social Services.

- The worst thing - and this is something I hated even then - was having my face cleaned.
Not with soap and water and a flannel, that would have been quite acceptable. It was having your face cleaned by YOUR MUM when you were out… Did you get that?

Her weapon? Spit and a hanky.

*Disclaimer: If you have been affected by any of the issues discussed today, call Childline 0800 1111 and reminisce endlessly to the nice lady. As they say, "a problem shared is a problem halved"… and I do find a memory shared is a memory insidiously passed on.

Go on, bore her senseless.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Queer as Folk

So Imp has moved house and hopefully soon I'll move in with her.
Hence the radio silence for a couple of days. It's hard work, moving.

Obviously most people when they move house, would smile at the next door neighbours and introduce themselves ... and go around for a nice cup of tea and to inspect their new conservatory and talk about Bin Day.

We've got a bit of a problem in that we potentially are the gossip material for the next decade.

What do they do? You know, when they're doing the business? Dunno, but they're living next door... and you'd never know to look at her, she looks so nice, you know. Which one? They're both 'shes'. It's terrible when you've got to live near 'someone like that'... they might abuse the children. Perhaps we should tell the police. Just don't tell My Dave, he'll chuck a brick through the window. Disgusting, you know, it shouldn't be allowed.

Any ideas? 'Cos we're both quite nice.