Wednesday, 27 February 2008

If Life Sends You Lemons, Make Lemonade

Did the earth move for you last night? Well, it did for me, and not in a good way either. Husband away on business, me alone in a great big bed, trying to get off to sleep with everything and nothing racing through my mind, finally I doze off and then suddenly BANG the whole place is shuddering and rattling - in blogging language, WTF was that? Doesn't Mother Nature know this is Britain, we don't do the whole earthquake thing, surely? Or if we do, I thought we were only signed up for minor tremors, not a Richter Scale five point whatever if was. Bloody hell. Something to do with global warming maybe? I dunno, but I found the whole thing a bit scarey.

So then of course, further sleep was out of the question. Anyway, I needed to stay awake just in case there was another, stronger, quake on the way. And what about after-shocks (see, I know the jargon already)? Would the chimney fall in through the roof and kill me? Had anyone else noticed it, or was it just me? Aren't you supposed to stand in a doorway to protect yourself from falling masonry? Which doorway? How do you choose? How do Californians cope? Should I get dressed and put my makeup on just in case firemen have to dig me out of the rubble of my house? Do I have time to wash my hair? Many and varied questions such as these spent the rest of the night chasing each other around my over-stimulated imagination, taking turns to keep me awake until daybreak.

In the meantime, in an effort to bore myself to sleep, I tried to imagine what I'd do if a bloody great chasm had in fact opened up in the back garden. I spent a good while fretting about how terrifying it would be, and how annoyed my husband would be that I hadn't been able to prevent a massive act of nature from buggering up his precious lawn, but with a sudden paradigm shift* in my thought process, another more positive idea crossed my mind. Hold on a minute, I thought, a damn great hole in the ground could be quite useful, actually. My own personal land-fill site without having to drive to the tip. What a bonus. I could get rid of all my household rubbish down a chasm that big. For instance there's an old fridge, all of my ironing, a derelict Wendy House (sorry kids), husband's hedge trimmers, a spare lawn mower, a defunct slow-cooker, fourteen old computer keyboards (don't ask), and a very strange contraption which I understand is for putting rivets into jeans or taking stones out of horses hooves or something like that. Always the opportunist, I could view this as a great chance for a bit of a de-cluttering, if ever there was one. I might even be able to get rid of a couple of old bikes and a total waste of money sandwich toaster, used once and shoved in the back of the cupboard, never to see the light of day ever again. Fantastic.

The moral of this slightly sleep deprived and rambling story is that there's usually an upside to most things, if only you take the time to think about what that upside might be. My husband says it's my talent for lateral thinking, which he tells me can be a bit irritating at times. In fact, what he actually says is "always remember, nobody likes a smart-arse." I suppose he's right. For instance, when a Fire Officer recently asked me what I'd do if a blaze broke out in my waste-paper bin, and I replied "throw my filing in it" I thought it was a good idea, but he obviously was not at all amused. I have to re-attend the lecture and this time take it more seriously. Such is life.

Anyway, it's light now, I've checked the grounds for seismic shenanigans and so far, nothing. Looks like we'll have to put all that stuff in a skip after all. Damn.

Which brings me to the question, what would you throw down a gaping chasm in the earth's crust if you had the opportunity? And don't say Paul Daniels, that would be cruel.

*Sorry, Mother Of All This Lot, just couldn't resist.
Can I still keep my award?
(see previous post comments).

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Valentine's Week Massacre

It's Sunday morning, I'm doing a bit of blogging in my dressing gown and listening to the sounds of:

a) Birdsong?

b) Radio 4?

c) The hiss and bubble of the coffee machine?

d) The sound of a chain-saw, crackling branches and a bloke up a tree shouting "get out of the way, you fucking pillock" to his mate below as our neighbours' beautiful trees crash to the ground?

Top marks if you guessed that the answer is d).

What is it with blokes and chain-saws? Give them a piece of throbbing equipment (oo-er missus), a ladder and some lovely, mature trees that rustle and wave their whispering branches so gracefully in the summer, and what do they do?

They chop the bloody lot down, that's what. And that's not all.

Stimulated by the smell of petrol driven mayhem and the excitement of seeing next door's trees come tumbling down, thus rendering our lovely private garden open to all who (wisely) don't really want to see me sunbathing topless this summer, presuming we get one, and not to be outdone by blokes with bigger equipment than his, my husband took leave of his senses and massacred the ancient ivy which has been growing over the walled garden opposite my kitchen window for the past twenty-five years. Needless to say, I wasn't paying attention at the time or I would have sensed the potential act of vandalism which was looming and nipped it in the bud, so to speak. After all, it's an obvious equation that blokes plus power-tools, plus foliage, equals total deforestation and I should have been more aware of the potential scene of devastation that would greet me. Only Napalm could have done the job better.

I planted that ivy. I loved that ivy. That was my ivy.

Apparently, he did ask me, so he says. Or rather, he'd said "shall I give the ivy a bit of a trim?" to which I'd allegedly replied "mmmm, you could do, but nothing too radical." So he took great chunks out of it, obviously, with hedge-trimmers. And guess what? Now he can also play with his power shredder in order to get rid of the mounds of lush greenery he's hacked down. Oh goody.

As for the ivy, it looks like the victim of a very bad hair cut by a blind barber, high on crack. I am supposed to be reassured by the fact that it will grow back, eventually, but this isn't helping me at the moment. You don't quite see the logic in cutting it down in the first place, only to wait for it to grow back? Really? My thoughts entirely. But then I am only a woman, and I don't understand these things. Obviously.

In the meantime the power tools are once again stowed safely in the shed. I have the key. Fortunately for him, husband's off on a business trip to Italy, or he'd be sleeping in the shed too. Sounds a bit harsh, but frankly I am so angry he's lucky that this massacre didn't land him sleeping with the fishes instead the hedge trimmer. In the same way he's in charge of lawns and there would be outright war if I tried to muscle in on his turf, my message to him is if you mess with my ivy, you mess with me.


Saturday, 16 February 2008

Oh No, Not Another Bloody Repeat

Sorry, too busy to post at the moment so rather cheekily, I am recycling an old post from when you didn't know me, way back last summer, in the hopes that you are not one of the two people who read it the first time.

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.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Six Of The Best

Was listening to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning whilst frantically trying to get ready for work, so I didn't quite hear all of it, only snatches in between frenzied showering and hair drying activity. Late, late, late as usual. There was a feature about Ernest Hemingway, how he'd been challenged by some guy in a bar or somewhere to write a short story in six words. He came up with:

"For sale: Baby shoes, never worn."

He won the bet.

Despite the fact that I was hopping round the bedroom trying to get my other boot on whilst simultaneously scrabbling in my bag for my car keys, those six words spoke to me with far more impact than maybe thousands more could have done. The poignancy of them stopped me in my tracks. Who would have thought that so few words could give the lead to however many stories the reader is capable of imagining? By the time I actually got to the office I'd got the bare bones of a story in my mind and was just coming to the reason why those baby shoes had never, in fact, been worn. And believe me, it was sad.

So this story had become the idea behind another challenge (this time from the editor of Smith, the American on-line magazine) when writers were invited to create a memoir in the same way, in just six words. There were a few featured on the programme which I found amusing, depressing, clever or just terribly sad. The best were selected to appear in Smith's book "Not Quite What I Was Planning - Six Word Memoirs From Writers Famous and Obscure."

So, having arrived late at the office because I'd been spellbound by a radio feature, at coffee time I told my colleagues about it and before long, we had:

"Divorced Mum, Only Loved One Man."

"Taught Dancing, Got Married, Grew Up."

"Took Wrong Turn. Can't Go Back"

Revealing, huh?

Now I'm not suggesting we all want to bare our souls here, unless anyone really wants to, but it did occur to me that this was something which might appeal to some of us, to write six words which best describes our lives up until this point. If you fancy giving it a whirl, please feel free to write what best describes you on my comment page. I'll start you off with mine.

"Could not? Did not. Why not?"

Fancy giving it a go? Go on then.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Good Housekeeping (Yeah Right)

Rather hilariously, considering my previous form, Winchester Whisperer has tagged me for a Meme about household management. Or mis-management in my case. I feel somewhat embarrassed to give anyone any tips at all because I am getting to be so useless at the whole thing, but as always, I'll have a go:

First of all, don't clean anything, just tidy. Unless you've got some particularly sad friends who run their fingers along your skirting boards checking for dust, or your mother-in-law is a hag-from-hell who looks behind cushions for old apple cores, no one will notice anyway.

Always cook twice as much of everything than you really need, and divide it into two BEFORE you serve or you'll end up eating the whole lot or have a leftover portion too small to freeze for next time. Believe me, when you come home after a hellish day at work it feels like the beef casserole fairies have blessed you with a ready meal from heaven, and you will feel SO smug. Just bung the casserole in to defrost, throw some baking potatoes in the oven, make yourself a cup of tea and go blog for an hour (or so).

Don't iron anything that can go in the tumble drier and then be hung up to let the creases drop out. It's heavy on electricity but light on effort, so to hell with global warming, at least we don't have a patio heater so I am in credit on the old carbon foot-print malarky. If you are mad enough to iron pants or socks, please don't tell me or I'll have to send someone round with a tranquiliser dart and straight-jacket to take you away.

Forbid anyone to leave pots and pans "in soak". This is totally unnecessary now that Fairy has invented their Power Spray, which lifts fired on food (my particular speciality) in a couple of minutes. "In soak" is another term for "can't be arsed with this, I'll leave it till later when you go into the kitchen and do it for me". No dice mate. Get sprayin'.

If you go into the bathroom and someone (ladies, you know who I mean) has left just one or two sheets of loo paper on an otherwise empty roll, don't replace it. Just find another toilet roll in the cupboard and use some of that and take the rest out with you, or hide it, just to make the point. That'll learn 'em. Unless of course the same empty loo-roll is still there some days later, in which case you know you're being played.

And finally, even though you don't have one, tell everybody you have a cleaner but she is useless, and bemoan the state of your house at every opportunity. Say you really ought to sack her, but can't find a way to do it nicely without hurting her feelings. Everyone will feel sorry for you, and meanwhile you can spend what money you would have paid a cleaner, if you had one, on gin.

Works for me.