Friday, 27 July 2007

Here Comes the Sun?

If the sun shines today, please thank me personally, for yesterday dear friends I bought a mac. From M and S, reduced from nearly a hundred quid to twenty-nine, it’s black and white check and very stylish (obviously). I look quite foxy in it, for an old bird.

The reason I’m telling you this is because me buying a mac is the sartorial equivalent of doing a rain dance in reverse. In the same way as it's all my fault we’ve had weeks of rain because of several sleeveless t-shirts and a wrap-over linen dress bought at the beginning of July (sorry about that) since when it has persistently pissed down, and if my previous history is anything to go on, buying a showerproof coat now should certainly put a stop to this hideous wet weather. I'm hoping I won’t need to wear it but I’m not taking it back for a refund until we’ve had a bit of sun.

So while you’re out walking the dogs, pottering in the garden, or sun-bathing in the park with your iPOD earphones plugged in – just send me a vote of thanks. And a quid towards the mac.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Does My Bum Look Big in This?

We have these little rituals. I think it’s what happens when you’ve been married to the same person for 150 years. For a week or two before any important social event, I start whingeing that I’ve got nothing to wear. I go on a crash diet in order to lose those vital 2lbs which will, of course, make absolutely no difference to anything except what’s going on in my head. I have my hair done (“spikey like Lulu’s please”). I might have a manicure and a pedicure. I might even have a rejuvenating facial (always the optimist, me). My better half calls this procedure “putting up the scaffolding” prior to the immense rebuilding task ahead of me. Believe me, Windsor Castle was restored with less attention to detail.

Then, having gone as far as I can to whip the undisciplined bag of tripe that is my body into shape with Magic Knickers (from neck to ankle), found a suitable outfit from the sad array of rags I laughingly call my wardrobe (or more likely bought something new), buffed, plucked, polished and preened – then, and only then am I ready to face the world. Or at least give the husband a quick reminder of what he first liked about me all those aeons ago.

"What do you think?” says I, striking a pose.

“You look bloody fantastic” says he, not looking up from the computer screen.

“No, really. Do I look OK?”

“Yes, you look really, really lovely.” This time he has a proper look.

“You sure?”

“I’ve told you once already, you look absolutely great.”

Hmm…….is he saying that to shut me up, or is he taking the ….?

“You’re not just saying that are you, to shut me up or something?”


“You’re not just…..”

“No, of course not, you look OK”

“Only OK?”

“Oh, for f*ck’s sake, I already said you look great, what more can I say?

I pull a face at him “No need to be arsey.”

So this time off we go, me done up like a dog’s dinner and husband looking the dog’s bollocks, suave and handsome in something he pulled out of his wardrobe in about five seconds flat after his rigorous grooming routine which lasted, oh, maybe all of three minutes. Shower, shave, shampoo. But somehow he looks brilliant (Bryan Ferry eat your heart out) and I feel OK(ish).

In the car I have one last go at finding the confidence I need to face the evening ahead.

“You sure I don’t look fat in this?”

This time, he just looks at me and says absolutely nothing. I know that look so well – it’s the “you are seriously pissing me off now” look. Best not mention it again.

So anyway, in we go, hello, hello, hi, how are you? Mwah, mwah (I HATE that bloody double kissing, so boring and time consuming when all you really want is a gin). Polite conversation. Check out the room. Look for anyone I know. Aha, with relief I spot my close friend Julie. Over she comes.

“Hi Julie, you look lovely” I gush.

“So do you honey, but what’s with the shoes? Brave choice if I may say so.”

I look down. I am wearing my lime green gardening flip-flops instead of the sparkly Kurt Geigers I’d bought especially to go with my outfit. Not wanting to mess them up, I’d quickly slipped them off and put on the flip-flops to fetch a bit of washing in from the garden just before we left and then had obviously forgotten to change back again. The lime green flip-flops came free with a magazine last year and cost nothing. The KGs came from Selfridges last week and cost more than my first car. They are currently on the mat in the kichen. Bugger.

I glare over at my husband. He is talking to a stick-thin blonde woman with fabulous shoes. The bitch.

He smiles at me encouragingly, totally oblivious to the full horror of it all.

I smile back through gritted teeth with a look which says “boy oh boy, you are SO in trouble when we get home.”

It is, of course, all his fault.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Bringing Home The Bacon

I was wondering recently about what stage in life you get to before you suddenly think “Sod it, don’t care what people think of me, from now on I’m doing what I like” and start eating with your mouth open (not doing that yet), or chasing pigeons (considered that), talking to yourself loudly on public transport (done that already) or scratching yourself in intimate places (husband's been doing it for ages) etc., etc.

On holiday last week whilst at breakfast in our hotel, I noticed an ancient couple merrily chatting away to themselves at the table next to us – not to each other, you understand, just to themselves. Frankly, their simultaneous but solo conversations were a whole lot more interesting than ours because my husband was refusing to come out from behind his newspaper, in protest, as he was annoyed with me for having finally banned the iPAQ from the table (actually I hid it and then forgot where). Bored, I listened in to our neighbours for a bit, then gave the husband a nudge so he could tune in too.

Him: “She never passes me anything. All I want is the black pepper”

Her: “I wonder if the dogs would like a bit of sausage?”

Him: “All I wanted was the black pepper.”

Her: “I could wrap it up in my hanky.”

Him “You’d think a bloke could get some black pepper if he wanted it, wouldn’t you?”

Her: “Yes, that’s what I’ll do. Wrap it up in my hanky.”

Whereupon, out comes a pack of Kleenex, down goes the sausage which gets carefully wrapped up and popped in the handbag.

Him: “Still haven’t got any black pepper.”

Her: “Think I’ll take them some toast. They like toast.”

Him: “Can’t enjoy my breakfast without the black pepper.”

Toast arrives, it gets buttered and both buttered sides put together sandwich style. Out come the tissues, toast gets neatly wrapped up, down it goes into the handbag.

Him: “Next time I’m bringing my own black pepper.”

Her: “Maybe they’d like a bit of bacon. Yes, I’ll take some bacon for the dogs”

And so on. Bacon. Tissues. Handbag.

At this point, my husband catches the waiter’s eye, beckons him over and whispers something into his ear.

Me: “What did you say to the waiter?”

Him: “I asked him for something for the old couple”

Me: "Aah, you’re so sweet. That’s so nice of you. Did you ask for some black pepper for the old boy?”

Him: “No I bloody didn't. I asked for a bowl of porridge for his wife.”

He can be so mean sometimes.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Ma, get outta my facebook!

One is feeling a little low today - I don't know why. Maybe it's because we've just come back from holiday, first day back at work and all that. Let's just say I've got the blues and even chocolate hasn't helped.

On the way home from darn sarf we called in to see our son who, at the age of twenty-one, buggered off "to be independent" and live in Devon. I think he just couldn't stand my cooking really, which is understandable. He's just finished at university now, doing fine, but I still haven't got over the fact that he's living two hundred miles away from me so I don't have access to him as often as I would like. I suppose I always thought he'd come back to live at home one day. I try not to stalk him but it's really hard when he doesn't answer his phone, never rings up unless he's broke and doesn't come home unless we throw a sack over his head and kidnap him. With chloroform.

So it's not my fault if I've found a way of seeing what he's up to whenever I want. I've discovered Facebook. I sneakily get in (don't ask how) and have a look at his photos. He has about two thousand friends. And guess what else I've discovered? He smokes. He gets incredibly drunk. He has a lot of women hanging around his neck a lot of the time. He occasionally dresses up in women's clothes and wears makeup. He dances on tables. He chases sheep across fields, and many many other activities too dodgy to mention. He doesn't do much studying. But the thing I've discovered which shook me most of all?

The reason why he doesn't want to live at home ever again. It's called freedom.

Bloody hell, we might as well rent out his bedroom.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Dartmouth Rocks

We've just come back from my favourite place, Dartmouth in Devon. Even when it's chucking it down I love it there, for so many reasons, but there are some rules which must be obeyed if you're to get the full benefit of the place:

CLOTHES: Don't dress up. You'll look like a tourist if you wear high heels or brogues because the locals and visiting snotty-yachties all sport espadrilles, ancient boat-shoes or flip-flops. If your jeans are new and hole-free, cut them off at the knees with a pair of nail-scissors (unevenly of course) and try to get them to fray. If your shins are covered in scars which look as if they could have been caused by bumping your legs against the side of your boat, so much the better, and if you haven't got one already, invest in a gold tooth, preferably one at the front. It looks very nautical.

PUB ETIQUETTE: Don't expect to get a table all to yourself in any pub as many are small and very cosy with table space at a premium. Sometimes there's live music which increases the squeeze. If you are the stand-offish type, best stay at home, because the people are very friendly and it may annoy you when total strangers constantly engage you in conversation. It's not unusual to find yourself talking to everyone in the pub at some stage and getting falling-down drunk by the end of the evening. But you will make friends and they will make sure you get home OK.

HEALTH AND SAFETY: Wear a balaclava or bee-keeper's hat at all times because there are lots of seagulls and they get to eat some very rich food (for possible perils, see previous post "Shit Happens"). Dartmouth has some fantastic restaurants, pubs, coffee shops and even a trattoria (hi everyone at Alf Resco's), but occasionally one does feel the need to scoff a bag of chips (how common) or an ice-cream on the quayside whilst watching the endlessly fascinating river scene. However, at the merest hint of a rustling paper bag you will suddenly begin to feel like a film extra from Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" - DO NOT FEED THE SEAGULLS. Many tourists have not yet learned that this is an anti-social thing to do, as feeding anything that flies with bits of curried parsnip pasty is bound to have an especially disasterous effect.

BE CONSIDERATE: Do not stand in front of the big glass window of the very posh "New Angel" restaurant and stare through it like you are a starving vagrant. It puts people off their lunch.

LEARN TO RELAX: If you haven't got the patience to negotiate the single car's width roads in reverse to let other drivers through who are bigger or more persistent than you, the streets will drive you mad. Best to park up somewhere and leave the car locked up for your stay and do what we call the walking pub crawl, or the crawling pub walk, whichever is appropriate in your case.

SHARE YOUR WEALTH:Don't just browse in the shops, buy something, so next time you go they'll still be there.


However many Plymouth Gins or pints of Doom Bar he has had, and however curious he may be about the RN night manoeuvres which frequently occur on the River Dart, do not let your husband approach the Cadets from the Royal Naval College with the question -

"Hey, Navy-boys, was that you pissing about on the river last night?"

The outcome can be very embarrasing.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

That bloke just sniffed my doughnut.

Fellow caffeine junky (my husband) and I had dropped into the sleek, posh and trendy Michael Caine's coffee bar on Cathedral Square in Exeter (by the way, not Michael Caine as in world famous actor, but Michael Caine as in world famous chef. Not a lot of people know that). Only for a plain black coffee you understand, nothing too naughty, but the urge for sugar coated calories was strong upon us and I was soon inevitably drawn over to the glass display counter - just to look, you understand, only to look.

A handsome young waiter glanced up at me and smiled (down, grandma) "see anything you fancy?" (I've told you before granny, down I say). "No thanks, only looking. Those doughnuts really do look good though".

He smiled at me in that sort of "ah, bless" type of way I'm getting used to. It's only one stage away from being patted on the head or helped across the road. "Yes, they're home made and really good. If you take a seat, I'll come and get your order."

Over he came with his notebook, "I'll have a plain black coffee and my husband would like a cappucino". Handsome lad smiled back.

"Sure I can't tempt you to anything more?" (someone throw a bucket of water over me, please).

"Erm, maybe I'll have one of those doughnuts after all. And a home-made pastry for my husband".

You will notice that I am the mouthpiece of our organisation, and as such will do the ordering for both of us unless it entails a) speaking French b) ordering wine, or c) if the waitress is young, female and pretty, in which case husband asserts his rights and becomes incredibly smooth and attentive. Anyway, in this case he was busy with his stupid bloody pocket organiser and totally oblivious to everything happening around him, but THAT subject is for another day.

"Apple or jam?"


"Your doughnut - apple or jam?"

"Oh apple, please, it's a bit healthier being fruit" - oh for fuck's sake woman, get a grip. You're considering eating a dollop of deep fried dough, covered in sugar with a half teaspoonful of sweet pureed apple injected into and you're calling it healthy. You silly, silly woman. Stop it now.

He smiled at me indulgently and went off to get our stuff. Husband continued to catalogue the phone numbers in his iPAQ which is bloody rude and he knows it annoys me. It's a high-tech version of hiding behind the newspaper at the breakfast table. I reflected on how pathetic I am getting and how annoying he is and waited for my sugar-rush to arrive.

"That bloke's just sniffed my dough-nut!"

Husband looked up from iPAQ, momentarily. "What?"

"The waiter is sniffing my doughnut - look!"

Sure enough, held up with serving tongs, behind the counter my doughnut was being well and truly sniffed.

Gorgeous waiter-boy arrived with our tray. I know at this point I should have kept my mouth shut, but that just isn't my style.

"You sniffed my doughnut. Is there something wrong with it?"

Stunningly goodlooking waiter goes red.

"Oh, sorry, it's because the labels have fallen off and I couldn't tell apple from jam, and didn't want to give you an unhealthy jam one, you being health conscious and all."

"Oh, that's OK then, I just thought it was a bit strange."

Smirking waiter-boy goes off.

"What do you think of that then?" says I to husband, who has returned to reading War and Peace on the sodding iPAQ. "He actually admitted to sniffing my doughnut. Couldn't work out which was which, apparently".

"Stupid sod"

"Is that all you can say about it? Some bloke sniffing my doughnut in public?"

"Good job you didn't order a muffin".

You couldn't make it up.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Gym'll fix it.

Forgive me Fitness First, for I have sinned. It's been nine long weeks since my last gym session. There's no real excuse - I haven't lost my gym kit, I don't have my period (ever) and, sadly, I can't bring in a note from my mother asking if I can be excused because I have a verucca. No, it's down to me and my total lazyness.

In my defence, the weather has been totally rubbish and I am sick and tired of getting wet and smelling slightly of mould, but even under these circs it seems vaguely ridiculous driving down to the gym to spend an hour walking on the treadmill and then driving the mile back home again. I blame global warming and patio heaters.

Reassuringly though, muscles do apparently have a "memory" and I'm hoping mine are eventually going to recall all the work I put in last year in an attempt to get into (if I say so myself) a rather fantastic mother-of-the -bride outfit which is now hanging in my wardrobe laughing at me. We shall see. It appears that the default setting for my figure is permanently set at "sack of potatoes" rather than "gym toned" - maybe if the sun shone, ever, it would give me the impetus to get off my fat lard-arse and do something about it.

In the meantime I'm wondering about a bacon sandwich, if I omit the butter and slice the bread really, really thin? Any maybe lose the bacon? What do you think?

Sunday, 8 July 2007

I've seen the future and I don't like the look of it.

I am writing this in a state of shock combined with deep depression. Went to a 60th birthday party last night and came back absolutely stone cold sober, both of us, and not just the one who was driving. We didn't dance. There was no music. No one fell over pissed or made an arse of themselves doing a Mick Jagger impersonation to the deafening strains of Brown Sugar. All of the women kept most of their clothes on all of the time (there's a mercy I suppose). People sat around in polite groups nursing the same drink all night (on medication), avoided the buffet (type 2 diabetes) and only went upstairs to pee (for which I suppose we should have been grateful, given the possible alternative). Sigh.

So what the hell is happening? Doesn't everyone know that WE ARE THE BABY BOOMERS, and as such WE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO GET OLD? I don't think the message is getting through somehow, despite pictures of the lovely Lulu, fantastic Joanna Lumley and gorgeous Bryan Ferry. Instead of chatting about work, kids, holidays and house prices like we used to, the conversation was of retirement, pensions, downsizing and (horror) ailments.

I may hang myself.

I'm not sure now how to handle this situation. Do I carry on in my own sweet way eating, drinking and being a bit too merry? Is it still OK to continue having fun over fifty with clothes, hair, makeup and music? Or am I in denial? Given the choice between slowly shuffling into the sunset in a comfy pair of Footgloves or falling off my platforms at Hobbs' sale, I know which one I'd choose, given the opportunity. But then, of course, I am nowhere near being 60 yet (yeah, right).

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Shit happens

Well, have just come back from a quick trip into Birmingham City Centre to return most of the stuff I bought last week whilst on a shopping trip with my daughter. It's all her fault. She eggs me on. I think it's because she doesn't like the thought of me getting old, so she encourages me to buy clothes which aren't really suitable and a bit too young for me. Either that or she's planning to raid my wardrobe sometime soon.

Anyway, we nearly didn't go because I was worried about the heightened security alert we've all been under since last week's scarey terrapin* episodes in London and Scotland, but my husband (whose message is "bollocks to that, I'm going") taunted me with an offer of lunch at Selfridges Noodle Bar which I considered to be worth the risk so off we went with me still a bit nervy. He gave me a pep talk all the way into town about how we mustn't be intimidated or be frightened to live our lives because some people were trying to force their views upon us, etc., etc., and that I was more likely to be hit by something dropping out of the sky than be blown up whilst shopping, and so on (and on). Lecture over, he dropped me off at the back of Rackhams (please note, if you are from Birmingham, this does not mean that I am a prostitute) and went to park the car, so I walked through the sunny Cathedral square, picking my way carefully through the two million pigeons who have squatters' rights there.

What is it with pigeons? Why do they wait for you to politely skirt around them, then suddenly fly up into your face all feathers and flutter? I hate the bloody things. The feeling is obviously mutual because today one actually pooped on me - although judging by the huge acrid dollops that hit me this could well have been a case of formation-pooping by the pigeon tribute version of the Red Arrows. Yes, something actually did fall out of the sky and it definitely wasn't a bit of space debris.

If you've never been crapped on by a pigeon, I can honestly not recommend it - it reeks. It's hot, acidic and burns like hell. You feel so stupid with pigeon-shit highlights and a liquid brown handbag charm when only one minute earlier you thought you looked quite good, actually. No amount of Chanel Number 5 is going to hide this stench. You just know your rope-soled suede wedges are going to be a bugger to clean. It also tends to put a dampener on your enjoyment of beef in blackbean sauce at the Noodle Bar although I can guarantee you'll definitely get an empty seat beside yours where you can put your coat.

Am off to wash my hair, clothes, shoes and bag now so must dash. There must be a moral to this story somewhere though for the life of me at the moment can't think of what it is.

*not using the proper word in case I set off a bloody great hooter at the Anti-Terrapin HQ or something.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Whatever happened to photo albums?

We've had a digital camera for some time now, but I can't say I've really bonded with it. We haven't become friends in that I still don't know all the stuff it can offer me, I just know it's there when I need it and produces good pics. What is still a mystery though is what to do with those photo's once uploaded (or it is downloaded, never sure).

I know it's great being able to bore the arse off people universally by emailing your holiday snaps to all and sundry and I suppose it saves long-suffering friends the pain of having to come round for an evening of "there's me, about to fall backwards into a ravine, and there's Jo phoning the emergency services" etc., but frankly, I miss photo albums, and I don't mean the virtual kind.

There was something quaint and lovely about coming back from your hols or some other memorable event and immediately hoofing it down to the local chemist with your film and waiting eagerly for your packet of photos to come back, sitting in the car and having a sneak preview, hiding all the ones where you accidentally took a picture of your foot or nostrils as you loaded the camera, etc. You'd get home, put the kettle on and settle down for your own private show. Great. You could take a packet of pictures to work, weed out all the unflattering ones and just show the select few where you looked a)thinner or b) younger or c) the backdrop made everyone bilious with jealousy, and pass them round human-chain style. Loved it.

I know you can print your digital photos out, but why don't we, ever? Husband keeps saying "choose the ones you want and I'll print them" - but we never do, it's just another thing we don't get round to.

Ah, progress.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Is this scary or what?

Hell's teeth, I've accidentally created a blogsite. Not quite sure how, considering I AM A TECHNOPHOBE and, according to my children, totally useless.

Now I've done it, I'm not quite sure what to say but rest assured it will come to me and by the end of the week you'll be cutting the plugs off your computers to get me to shut the **** up.

By the way, I'm only called swearing mother when riled. At the moment I've just eaten chocolate so the serotonin level is soothingly high. It won't last for long and believe, me and my foul temper will be back!

Take cover mateys.