Sunday, 31 January 2010

L'amour est un oiseau rebelle

How to come back from yesterday's maudlin and, frankly depressing missive?

How about with something deliciously obscure?

Love is a rebellious bird, indeed. A rebellious jailbird, no less.

This flier came around the local area yesterday and has given rise to much interest and chat, not least of all because HMP Wandsworth is a men's prison, and unless I've missed something, Carmen is no fella.

So the good boys and ... um ... boys at Wandsworth Nick are putting on a series of performances of Carmen, tickets for which are now on sale to the public.

The ticket booking form makes it clear that no shenanigans will be entertained. You're to get there half an hour early, or not at all. You're to submit to a search of your bag and your person before you go in. You are absolutely not to take a mobile phone, alcohol, drugs or firearms with you. Bo-oo-ring! Opera just isn't opera without a drug induced 21 sawn-off-shotgun salute during the interval!

I can't shake the delicious mental image of one of the ladies escaping in full costume in the middle of the performance, in a chapter reminiscent of Mr Toad. Poop Poop!

Wandsworth has had it's fair share of celebrity residents over the years - Oscar Wilde started out here, before being shunted to Reading you know. They've had the honour of a visit from one of the Krays (I forget which one), and it's where Ronnie Biggs was when he decided that really enough was enough. Pete Doherty is in every couple of months or so - do you think it's too much to hope that there'll be a touch of the Babyshambles to one of the more upbeat numbers?

I'm all for a bit of prisoner rehabilitation. Do what you can to give the buggers no excuse for reoffending. Teach them a useful trade. Educate them. Let them put on a French opera over a series of nine nights ...

The thing is, that I might be just a little bit too morbidly curious to miss out. Anyone fancy coming with me ...?

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Electric Dreams

I have a big report to get out this week. A Big Report. The first draft is all done, and I think, on the whole, it's ok, but it does need proof reading and editing and tidying up before it goes in the post on Thursday.

So, I decided to stay in the office this evening and go through it with my favourite editing pink pen so that tomorrow it can be assembled (I do so hate all that appendix and divider shit that crops up just when you think you've finished). I made a nice strong cuppa, I put on my Emergency Cardigan (the heating goes off and 6pm, and by five past you can see your breath), and settled myself in.

Then the power went off. The lights went off. The printer stopped mid print. All the computers went off apart from mine; the only laptop in the place, leaving three people blinking at one another in a dull blue gloom.

A voice came across the room, "email Hannah" (our secretary). Another voice said, "what's Hannah going to do about it?" "It means we'll have a note of the time when everything went off." I looked at my watch. "It's six thirty." There was a pause from one quarter and a snigger from another. "I think you should email her anyway."

So I wrote an email to Hannah (sometimes it's easier to do a pointless thing than explain why it's pointless) and pressed send. It went nowhere. "It won't go if there's no power." "But that's a laptop." "Yes, but the server's gone off hasn't it." "Your computer's wireless." "I don't think that matters if it's connected wirelessly to something that's off." There was another pause. Another snigger. We all decided to leave.

So on the way home, I was thinking about electricity. I don't mean in a physics teacher way. I'm not going to start talking to you about alternating currents and wattage. Largely because I don't understand those things. If it has an "on" switch, I expect it to turn on. But, in a slightly over dramatic way, I was wondering where we'd be without it. What if Messrs Ampere and Watt were passionate about textiles instead of current flow? Where would we be?

Well, for a start, you wouldn't be reading this. I mean, I know that I could write with a pen and ink on paper (oh, how quaint!) but how would the word get to you all? I'd have to copy out and post my inane chatter to you every day, which would be dull for all concerned.

In any event, I wouldn't have the time. If there were enough steam engines to get me back to south London, obviously that would be a help, but otherwise I'd be walking the seven miles home, then have to lay a fire to boil the kettle for my dinner, then wash my clothes in a pan with some bicarb. And of course I'd be doing that in candle light, which would mean that my poor eyes wouldn't be able to see to write to you at all.

And my chocolate wouldn't be chilled.
And I wouldn't be typing this whilst watching Eastenders on the telly.
And I wouldn't be able to talk on the phone.
And I wouldn't be able to charge my ipod.
And the clock radio wouldn't go off in the morning.
And the hot water would come out cold.
And I'd be cold (because my fire would have gone out by now).
And ... and ... and ...!

So, have encountered about three minutes of powerlessness this evening, I am now feeling a vast gratitude towards Mr Faraday and Mr Edison and Mr Graham-Bell (or was Graham a middle name?) and all of their clever 'lectric friends. For it is they who made the great "on" switch of life work for us all.

I'm off to put the kettle on.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Some things happened

Three Things Made Me Scratch My Head

1) A man dressed as a cigarette was standing on Oxford Street handing out leaflets. I assumed that they were about giving up smoking, so I said, "No thanks. I don't smoke." And he said, "Oh, no, these are about cheap phone deals."

So why are you ...? Oh, never mind!

2) A man on the train (who bore more than a passing resemblance to Bob Carolgees) was talking on a mobile phone. An average, unremarkable, typical silver box. But more remarkably, when he was listening to it, he held it to his ear and when he was talking, he moved it around and held it upright, in front of his mouth.

Has he never seen anyone using a phone before? Or does he think they are all walkie talkies?

3) The earring dropped out of my hands and I saw it hit the carpet and bounce. It wasn't moving fast. It was low to the ground. It can only have gone so far. So where is it? Where. Is. It? I've looked where it landed. I've looked four feet in every direction from it. I've run my hand over the carpet. It's gone. But do you know what? Later, when I walk over there to take off my (lesser, second choice) earrings in my bare feet, I bet you a fiver that I stand on the sodding thing.

Three Things Made Me Smile

1) Brad has left Angelina. He's probably on his way over here right now. I'll put my best spotty jarmies on to be ready for his almost certain arrival. Now, where did I put my bed socks?

2) I had a thank you card from a friend for her Christmas gift. It starts, "Thank you so much for my lovely earrings. They are stunningly slim and gorgeous, much like myself ..." As I read it, I can hear her saying it, and I'm reminded how fab it is to have a pal you know well enough to be able to finish their sentences for them.

3) I saw an ad for the Winter Olympics. (I don't know if that should have a capital W or not, but, I've tried it both ways, and with looks better). I LOVE the Winter Olympics. It's twenty different types of skidding. I am the least sporty person on the planet, and I loathe the cold, snow, and ice. Winter sports ought to be repellent to me, but I can't wait to watch a bit of high end, well trained, semi-professional skiddage.

Three Things Made Me Feel A Little Bit Guilty

1) I found a bar of dairy milk in the fridge and I'm eating it. It's my fridge, my chocolate, my house, so there's nothing really to feel guilty about. But it does feel a small bit indulgent.

2) I got the jar of herbs off the shelf and as I did so, I noticed that the "best before" date on the thyme was September 2007. That means that I moved an out-0f-date jar of herbs from my old flat to my new house. It also explains why nothing has tasted very thymey for a while ...

3) I'm typing* this whilst watching Glee. I feel a bit dirty, but also a bit compelled to turn on the subtitles so that I can sing along.

* I typed "tryping" before correcting, but on reflection, maybe I was right the first time...

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Shameless Publicity

Just a quick post tonight.

In fact, not really a post at all, but some shameless self promotion.

I have just listed lots of new things on my Etsy shop and ... well ... if I don't tell you about it, you might miss out on something fabulously sparking and gorgeous.

I couldn't do that to you. I like you too much.

So, as long as you understand that I'm only doing this for you, then I would invite you to click here.


Friday, 22 January 2010

Three (Plus) Beautiful Things

I'm in quite an upbeat and positive mood today, for the first time in ages. AGES! Lord alone knows why - it's peeing down outside, I've achieved nothing but a trip to the supermarket so far, and I've just realised that I did that wearing a top that has a big dribble of toothpaste down the front.

But do you know what I say? I say PAH! to it all!

So! I'll give you the Three Beautiful Things that I have so far (it's about 3:15pm), and I'm going to leave this half written post open and add to it as the day continues. Because you know what? I think there's more to come ...

1) Do you remember these two, who brought me such glee? Well they're back! Read their latest exploits here.

OK. So their latest exploits are similar to (the same as) their previous exploits, but now we have a new quote to add to it. Thank you to Judge Beatrice Bolton for saying, "... it's quite clear from the small extract I heard that you made no attempt to silence yourself." Splendid!

Please, if this woman is in court again, can you let me know in advance, so I can book a train ticket and bag a seat in the public gallery?

2) The car started first time. And didn't break down. And got me to my destination and back again. Without stopping. That might be four beautiful things right there. It's certainly the first time for any of those events in 2010! Whoopee for that!

3) "Everything I do, I do it for you" was just on the radio, and I discovered that, nineteen years (can you believe it?) after Robin Hood walked from Dover to Nottingham via Hadrian's Wall in one day, I still know all the words.


4) A text message came through from a friend, "on way home. Do you fancy a cuppa?" I replied, "let me know you're home and I'll pop 'round." No more than two minutes later the message back is, "come 'round now!" So I did. And spent a couple of lovely hours drinking tea, eating Jamaican ginger cake and talking about the world with two thoroughly gorgeous ladies.


5) Chinese takeaway. That is all.


6) The candles that are burning in the grate have all got to a critical stage. Over the course of the last two hours they've gone from looking clean and neat to being very dribbly. The wax that's spilled over has made pleasing trickles on the tiles in the hearth and I can't decide whether I want to leave it to get more "rustic" looking, or pick it off. It's got that picking-a-scab kind of attraction.

10:40 pm

7) I've almost finished my first bead carrot. I know, I know! But it looks better than it sounds. I'll post a photo of it soon, and explain why ...

8) I've found a place that sells onesies according to height, which, being taller than the average bear, seems very sensible to me. Also, being a bit of a pyjama slut, I now can't imagine my life without them. Red, pink or camo. What do you think?

9) Hot ribena. It's like nostalgia in a mug. AND it's rich in vitamin C, so it's all good.


10) My tenth beautiful thing is that I've written a list of ten beautiful things. Och, but I'm in a perky mood today!

Happy Friday 22nd January to you all! It's a good day.


Monday, 18 January 2010

The revolution

Today I was away on business.

That makes me sound quite grown up and important, doesn't it? In fact, I was on the 9am from Kings Cross, destined for Harrogate, where I spent four hours walking around shops, then got back on the 16:05, and came home. Which I was paid for.

It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it!

Naturally a jam-packed day like today requires a girl to take a load off at lunchtime and sit in a French cafe for a croque-monsieur and a few pomme frites. It was over said lunch that I realised I was vexed.

The observant amongst you will, by now, have realised that I do get a little vexed from time to time, and not always rationally. Given the range of things that was making me twitch today, I thought that today was a typically Tooting-esque complex fume. See if you agree ...

1) As I looked around the restaurant, I noticed that not one person ... NOT ONE ... was holding their knife correctly. There were a range of techniques being used. The "dagger", the "fountain pen", the "feather duster". But none of them using the more traditional "table knife" hold.


2) The waiter who showed me to a table using an ambiguous wave of his arm then stoically refused to make eye contact with me for some time. He then wandered over looking at me as if I might be an immigration officer and asked if I wanted anything else. "Yes. A menu would be a start". He then forgot me again for a time, before taking me order which, when it came, was wrong. To be fair to the poor young thing, there were as many as twenty other customers, and only the four waiters to deal with them ...


3) A family arrived. Five adults with a toddler in one of those three-wheeler buggies (just the toddler. The adults were walking), which they laboured to get through the doors (whilst being ignored by the above four waiters). They moved tables, they rearranged chairs, they swapped places, they moved back, they got up, they sat down. And all that time, the buggy was immediately inside the door, where they ditched it. (Yes ... still with the toddler in it).


All very different things to be irked by. Or so I thought ...

In fact, I've realised that there is one thing above all others, that irritates me, and that actually all of the above fall under the same banner. That thing is laziness.

Bad service, bad manners, it's all the same. It's all just not being bothered and THAT is what bugs me. I find it so tedious that there are so many people who coast though life doing the absolute minimum.

Today, I'll admit, I was rather over zealous, but it is a bit of a theme. I come across people through my work who do the least possible to get through the day, and essentially wait for the answer to come to them. I know people who turn up at work and stay until they can leave and do something more interesting (then gripe that they are passed over for promotion).

I see shop assistants ambling around and gazing into space, or standing in huddles chatting, whilst customers struggle to pay for things. I see waiters and waitresses gossiping behind the bar, whilst food goes cold and customers go hungry, then stand with their hand out when it's time to pay the tip.


The thing is, that I don't DO anything about it. It irks me and I just walk away irked. I decided today that I'm going to start tackling it head on. Are you with me?!

Next time you're in a shop and see a gum snapping gormless looking teenager being paid to do nothing, go over to her and say, "excuse me, but do you have this in a twelve?". I don't care if you don't WANT it in a twelve. It'll get her moving!

If you're in a restaurant and you think the waiters are being more than a little slack, drop your knife on the floor (I only hope you were holding it correctly first ...) and ask for a new one. Or ask for a glass of tap water, then another and another, until they are really shifting!

If you see a street cleaner walking past rubbish, tell him he's missed a bit! If the estate agent doesn't bring anyone 'round to view your house, get a friend to act as a stooge and demand to view your house! If the guy on the barriers at the station is reading the paper, give the barrier a shove so the alarm goes off! If the bank only has two of it's eight desks open, whilst six people in matching uniforms stand behind the glass and work out when they're going to take their lunch breaks, then carefully take out £5 from one account, transfer it to another, then take £5 out of that account and transfer it back, and so on, until more tills are open.

It's childish, but I think it's necessary! We need to get these lazy little buggers moving!

Come on people! Let's tackle the bone idle head on!

A quickie

I just wanted to give you an update on my last post.

The DVD (with additional bonus disc) left my house in a weekend bag on Sunday evening!

I'm not going to lie to you. It wasn't the smoothest, or the cleverest round ever played, but the result was the same.

This morning I received a text message which simply read, "confound it!"

Tooting Squared 40
Cold Mountain Fairy 30

Your serve ...

(A fuller post will go up later this evening. Hurry back!)

Friday, 15 January 2010

A Cold and Mountainous Tale

I have alluded to this tale before in my end of 2009 musings. I'll not link to it. It was a lengthy and tiresome piece. There was little need to read it once, but twice would certainly be beyond the call. You'll just have to take my word for it. There was a reference in it to the Cold Mountain Fairy. I shall now tell you about her and her wicked ways.

Some time ago ... almost exactly six years ago I believe ... there was a Girls Weekend in Reading, at the home of a lovely University pal. Four of us went to stay with her for some good chilled out lounging and gossip and It Was Good.

On the Saturday night we decided that we'd go to the cinema. The options were discussed, and, on the recommendation of someone who has subsequently been culled (not least of all because of her choice of films) we went to see Cold Mountain.

Have you seen it? If you haven't DON'T DO IT! You will NEVER get those hours of your life back. It's long. Looooooooooong. And it's dull. And it's desperately obvious and awful and terrible. (Thinks to self: they might not realise how I feel about this film. Perhaps I ought to spell it out ...). I.T'.S. S.H.I.T!

It was weak from the off, and just twenty minutes in I realised that it wasn't something I would enjoy. My friend (who you'll be hearing more about) was heavily pregnant at the time, was sitting next to me and I was trying to work out how hard I'd have to prod her to be able to use early labour as an excuse to leave the cinema.

I needn't have been so subtle, however. Five minutes later, another of our party stood up (we were sitting in the front row), stretched languorously, announced in a non-too-quiet voice, "I can't take any more of this shit" and left. Slowly. And noisily. We found her later in a nearby bar where, owing to the length of the flaming film, she was plastered. I envied her more than I can tell you.

Now, a short while later, I was in a charity shop looking at the books (as it my wont) and I saw the book of this torturous film on the shelf. In a moment of charitable thought, it crossed my mind that the book might be wonderful. I mean, something must have compelled people to think it would make a good film, so maybe the story, when read rather than watched, would be less likely to make me want to poke red hot pins in my eyes.

I bought it. I started reading it. I was not better than the film. I gave in, about five chapters in, and threw it across the room declaring as I did so, "I can't take any more of this shit". But, being a kindly sort, I loaned it to my friend. The pregnant one mentioned above, who by this time was no longer pregnant.

She returned it to me.

I returned it to her.

She hid it in my wellington boots.

I found it some time later.

I bought a second copy, sent her one, the Reading hostess one, and sat back chuckling.

They came to visit me and hid two copies in my house.

I took one copy to the first friend's house and put it in her bedding.

When I got home, it was in my luggage.

I shredded one copy and filled a jiffy bag, addressing it to her (now toddling) daughter, who obligingly spread the shreds around the ground floor of the house before it was discovered.

I took the other copy next time I visited and put it in the loft hatch.

It almost brained her (note to self: less of the death defying stuff. The film didn't kill us, so it would be a shame if the book did).

It went back into my wellies.

Oh ... you get the idea!

It's become something of a matter of pride. If they leave your house and Cold Mountain is still in it, you've not tried hard enough. If they leave your house and you haven't see Cold Mountain, they've got you, but you'll only find out a couple of weeks down the line.

Anyway, I am telling you all this story now because I've got visitors this weekend. The Cold Mountain Fairy, the daughter who was only a bump when this all started, and her younger brother are coming to stay. And I have one (or two ...) copies of a certain novel (oh ... and a special edition DVD) which are looking for a home.

Any suggestions, folks ...???

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Top Five

More snow. And completely out of the blue. Well. Out of the grey I suppose. Perhaps They knew that it was going to dump down again last night, but the first I knew of it was when I opened my curtains this morning, and swore profusely.

So. I'm doing another anecdotal post today. The theme being, "Top Five Disastrous Dates".

I have basically always been single. Well, there was one chap who stuck around for a while, and there have been a few who haven't, but I do seem to have spent more than my fair share of time on the hideous ride that is The Dating Circuit. But I think when you see this little selection of winners you'll realise why I'm content with my single status...

Aged 18, I dated a boy from the Lower Sixth. A younger man. He once referred to himself as a toy boy. Only the once though.

He was a bright boy, in a very techy sciency way. This would have been fine ... had he not talked about it. Yawnarama! In particular he was enthusiastic about one of his inventions; a cat flap which would respond to the particular meow of your own cat. It was something that he told me about on our first date. Then he mentioned it on our second date. Then on our third date. Then he told my Dad about it, and they started talking about electrical circuits.

One night, when I starting to hope that the cat flap would short circuit, we went to a party. On the way I mentally set him a challenge. If he could go the night without telling the cat flap story, I wouldn't dump him. If he couldn't, I would.

He couldn't.

I did.

Now, scroll forwards ten years. The BBC used to do programmes every six months or so called "Test The Nation". Remember them? Ann "Botox" Robinson would read out a series of questions for the watcher to answer, then score at the end of the evening. In the studio, the audience would be grouped according to their careers, and over the course of the evening, Ann's lackey would run around the studio hearing witty tales of fecklessness.

In one such quiz, one of the groups in the studio was The Rocket Scientists. Ann's boy went leaping up the steps into the audience saying "now then, someone here has a story about a cat flap ..." and there he was. It was as if time had stood still. It was the same story. I could almost sing along.

Mercifully for the sanity of women everywhere, I had a hunch that he might be single himself ...

I was at a birthday party in a local pub, and one way and another I ran into the same man a few times over the evening. We exchanged a few words, a bit of a joke, phone numbers ...

He was French. He told me that he was from Paris, and was a chef. I fair swooned with it all.

A few days later we met up for a drink, and I asked him about life in Paris. He looked at me in a slightly self-righteous way and said that he didn't really come from Paris, but from a town about 40 minutes outside Paris. He lied, he told me, because the chicks liked it. Rather more, I suppose, than confessing to coming from the French equivalent to Slough.

I decided to gloss over the blatant lies and ask him instead about being a chef.

He was not, he told me, really a chef. In fact, he hadn't really worked in France at all, and in London he worked for a prolific pub chain, putting food in microwaves and keeping an eye on the deep fat frier.

I should clarify that it wasn't that he was an unqualified button pusher from Fracknell that irked me, but that he'd told big fat pork pies (which ironically, he couldn't cook ...) Either way though, I made my excuses to leave and he offered to walk me home. I said that I would be fine, and talked him out of it. I thought.

I set off walking and, for no real reason, a short way up the road I looked over my shoulder ... and saw him duck, inefficiently, into a doorway. That's right folks ... he was following me home. I sped up. He sped up. I managed to make some ground at a couple of road crossings, and I made it to the bottom of my road about 50 yards ahead of him. As I rounded the corner, I remembered, with glee, that my car was there! That morning I'd been running horribly late, so drove to the end of the road, and there my motor was! I ran around to the passenger side, fell in, and ducked down, just in time to see him appear and look up the road, perplexed. I sat stock still, he dithered and then, realising he'd been beaten, he loafed home. To practice with his microwave.

I dabbled with internet dating. The first chap I met was almost enough to put me off the whole business. I would never have recognised him from his photo, which must have been ten years, and a comb-over earlier. But you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, so off we went to dinner.

I asked about his job. He didn't like his job.

I asked about his flat. He didn't like his flat.

I asked about his car. He didn't like his car.

I asked about his last holiday. He didn't really get away that much.

I started banging my head repeatedly against the wall. He didn't notice.

I don't really mind what your passion is - I don't have a lot of chat about many things, but I can make a bit of chat about most things. Just give me a clue, and I'll happily just be someone to bounce conversation off. Just a small inkling of something ... anything ... that we can talk about. PLEASE!

Through the fog of boredom, I heard him say something about Formula One racing. Thank the lord! I know almost nothing about F1, but by then, I was ready to milk any conversation.

I asked if he'd ever been to the British Grand Prix ... and without a hint of irony he told me that he hadn't, because he thought the traffic would be bad getting there.

CHRIST ALIVE! I was on a date with the most boring man in England! Then, he ordered the vanilla ice cream for pudding. By the time I woke up he was gone ...

My second foray into Internet dating introduced me to Ken. His parents had moved from China to London when he was a toddler. Oddly they spoke almost no English and he spoke almost no Mandarin. And I thought I struggled to talk to my parents ...

Anyway, I digress. I had typical first date angst, so when we got to the bar, I ordered a nice nerve calming glass of red, and he ordered a coke. I got a little nervous. He told me that there is some quirk of the Oriental metabolism which doesn't deal well with alcohol. I've no idea if that's true, or a strange excuse, but either way, it made it hard for me to get plastered and ramble at him, and this fact meant that we had a lovely evening and no-one was embarrassed and there was a second date.

For our second date, we went for dinner. I was typically slightly late. When I arrived, the waiter was bringing a nicely chilled bottle of chateau blanco to the table. "That's odd," I thought to myself. "Ken doesn't drink. I wonder why he ordered a whole bottle?"

He told me confidently that a glass would be fine. Fair dos. We both had a glass. Mine hardly touched the sides. His seemed a little stickier.

By the time I was tucking into my second glass, he was struggling to focus on his. By the time I finished my second glass, he had lost the power of speech. By the time I'd asked for a jug of tap water, he was slouched in his chair pointing and laughing at other diners.

We didn't stay for pudding.

The restaurant we were in was about a ten minute walk from Victoria. It took us about 45 minutes to get there, and to post him onto a train. On the way he told me that he loved me, that he wanted me to meet his mother, and inexpertly made a lunge for my left boob ... and missed.

There wasn't a third date.

I was in the pub after work with some colleagues, and they must have been boring me because I ended up talking to some bankers (stop sniggering at the back! I said "bankers") at the bar. Everyone I'd started my evening with departed and left me talking to one bloke in particular.

We rather hit it off, and by the end of the evening I'd given him my phone number on a scrap of paper we found on the floor, and had a good old fashioned snog on the way to the station. Romantic, no? (No).

He called that night as soon as he got home and we talked into the wee small hours about all sorts. We arranged to meet the following week. He said he'd call on the day and tell me what the plan was. It all seemed very promising.

But he didn't call. I heard nothing from him at all, and was a little dejected.

About a month later, one evening, my phone rang. It was him. He was sheepish. He was sorry that he'd not called. It had all been a bit tricky when his girlfriend found my number in his suit pocket and wanted to know who I was.

Yes ... I can see that would be a bit awkward. I didn't really know what to say, so I think I said something like, "erm ... I don't know what to say..." But I needn't have worried. He had it all planned.

"I've been thinking about it all a lot," he told me. "I liked you a lot, but obviously it's a bit tricky." Yeeeees. "But I've think I've worked it out." Really. "Yes. I've been thinking, and I reckon I can see you both." Um ... can you? "Yes. It'll be great." Will it now? I'm sorry, but you're going to have to talk me through this, because I think I might have missed some of the details. "Well, as I see it, everyone gets what they want." Eh? "I get to have two girls, get to have either of you whenever I want, get to see you both. It's a massive ego boost." Yes, I can see that you're lacking in confidence. And ... I'm sorry to seem selfish, but ... what do I get? "Well you get to have the great sex." Clearly.

The thing is, he was deeply sincere. He REALLY meant it. He really thought that this was a perfect solution to everyones problems, and the more I said "I'm not really sure this will work" the more he tried to convince me. In the end, the only way to get him off the phone was to say that I'd think about it. Which I suppose technically I'm still doing.

If anyone knows anyone who would be more of a catch than any of these lovely five, please, don't tell me about them, or give me their phone number. Keep it to yourself. What I'd like is a nice socially inept young man, to get to the half dozen. Social rejects phone numbers this way please!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

London Belongs To Me

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I live and work in London.

For those that are unaware, that's where you might go to seek your fortune and where, upon arrival, you might find the streets to be paved with gold. It is, apparently, where Burt the Chimneysweep came from in Mary Poppins. Where I come from, everyone talks like that ("Cor blimey, Tooting Squared! Let's be gettin' you up them apples and pears for a right bloomin' knees up!")

The thing is that, much as it's home, which compels me to feel a warm and fuzzy fondness for it, London can be wearing. And wearing it has been for a few weeks.

A capital city has to be a business centre and a stock exchange. It has to be a media centre, and a PR vehicle. It's got to appeal to residents, countrymen and tourists. It has to be a political, stage and transport hub.

It shouldn't be any wonder then that sometimes it's a little bit busy. And that's what vexes me. I've been plagued recently by dawdlers in front of me and by people who swoop into my path only to stop stock still, then glare at me when I walk up their ankles. And I've been caught in the queue behind a ditherer more times than I care to mention.

And I've been a bit overwhelmed by noise and hassle and bustle and fluster. Yesterday I thought I'd lose my mind when workmen started digging up the pavement outside our office, and when I went out at lunchtime for a little respite, and was shouted at in the sandwich queue, I really nearly had a proper tantrum right there and then.

I'm tired of squeezing my way onto a train every morning (with people who are inexplicably smelly for such an early hour of the day), and then being looked at sideways when I say that I'd rather wait two minutes for the next bus and have a seat, than get to work two minutes earlier having stood with my face pushed against the window all the way.

Basically, it's all been a biiiiit tedious recently, and all feels a lot like hard work.

Last night, I met up with some girl friends for a drink and ended up heading for the bus stop quite late. At midnight I was standing on the south end of London Bridge frowning at the three minute wait for the number 133 (I ask you! How is a girl meant to WAIT for THAT LONG?!) and generally thinking griping thoughts, when I looked up.

To my left the floodlit dome of St Paul's Cathedral dominated the view. Straight across the bridge the Gherkin (should that be capitalised?) and the building formerly known as the Nat West Tower were picked out in blue and red lights and, when I strolled away from the bus stop a bit, to my right was Tower Bridge, looming over HMS Belfast. And in that moment it all looked still and grand and peaceful and ... well ... stunning.

And I realised that London is quite lovely really.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Special Delivery

You know how, in the last weeks before Christmas, you spend your life thinking, "so-and-so would really like some of those," and "blah-de-blah would like one of these," and "thing-a-me would like to eat some of that," and "such-and-such would probably want to drink a bit of that," and before you know it you've spent three months salary on presents and food and top up gifts and drink and little smidgins of stuff for other people?

Well this year, in the final week before Christmas, the Just Too Gorgeous Eden Rose did a wee give-away. Over five days she posted five lovely things for her readers to win. You can see the beautiful range of goodies here.

One of the treats particularly caught my eye. I looked at it and thought to myself, "so-and-so would like that. I will buy that for her birthday." The next day, when ER summarised the giveaway in a final drive for entrants, I thought the same again. Then a thought struck me with sudden, abrupt, and very selfish clarity.


So I entered.

And ... I won!

Isn't that a wonderfully lovely and delicious thing? It was such a nice surprise to have a wee message from someone of such style to say that she was sending a goodie of stylishness my way.

Anyway, that was 27th December, and since then I've been sitting on the bottom stair, watching the letter box and muttering to myself repeatedly, "is it here yet? Is it here yet?" and of course, what with inclement weather and all (I don't know if you've heard, but it's been a bit nippy), we've had almost no post, so my wait has been in vain.

Until this morning.

The post today arrive uncharacteristically early. So early, in fact, that what woke me up was the exciting **thwump** of something that isn't a bank statement hitting the doormat.

And when I got downstairs, there was a wee bulgy jiffy bag with this lovely seal on the back. Och, but I was excited. I placed it reverentially on the table in the lounge, and went to make a nicecuppa to enjoy whilst I opened it.

Once inside the parcel, I found this beautifully wrapped box, with a lovely little gift tag congratulating me on my win (especially nice since entering had been such an effort ...!)

Well, by this time, I was quite giddy with excitement. And rightly so, for inside the box was this little morsel of gorgeousness ...

What life is not complete without a gold teacup and saucer necklace? Well not this one, I can tell you! It's just beautiful, and I can't wait to wear it out.

I would urge you to check out Laura Baillie's other gorgeous, and individual jewellery at her online shop, firstly to oooh and ahhh at her fabbo things and secondly to buy lots of pretty things for yourself and everyone you buy gifts for. Run along now! What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Crocodile Tears

It's snowing again. Snowing. I ask you.

In case you hadn't gleaned it by now, the cold makes me grouchy.

Other things make me grouchy too (dawdlers, rudeness, poor customer service, people who don't put the lid back on the toothpaste ...), but top of the current list of gripes is the cold.

So I'm going to ignore what's happening right here today now (roughly two inches fallen in the last hour, since you asked) and tell you a small anecdote instead that has nothing to do with ambient temperature.

I have a younger brother. He reads this sometimes (hello Bean!). He's four years younger than me, which is quite a bit in child years, don't you think? Not now. When you're +/- 30, four years is no time, but when you're seven and three, it's MASSIVE.

As a result, we bickered. I was too old and dull and, I fear, too bossy for him, and he was too small and embarrassing and bad at doing what I told him to do. I imagine that our parents feared that we would never play nicely.

So. We were in trouble for something. I forget what. It must have been bad, and it must have been a team effort. Our punishment was to tidy the garage. It MUST have been bad.

I should, perhaps, explain that, in a 1970s housing estate, the garage is rarely a place to keep a car. In our case it was a place to keep bikes, tents, balls, bats, rackets, scooters, fishing nets, buckets, the lost treasures of Babylon ... you get the idea. There was a small kitchen overflow at the back - the deep freeze, and a cupboard containing more empty jam jars than you can shake a stick at, and my Dad had a workbench. The rest was packed to the gunnels with plastic tut.

Cleaning it out was a desperate mission, fraught with danger, and perils unknown. It was also painfully dull. Neither of us wanted to be there. We both wanted to be somewhere else doing something else, but Mother is not one to be messed with. Once she's made up her mind, there's no budging her. So we got stuck in to tidying.

Suddenly Brother started to cry. Not a small quiet whimper, but a full, wailing sob. Big fat juicy tears and everything. He ran for the house and disappeared through the front door. Oh well. I kept on with the job in hand. Until, that is, I heard Mother ask him what was the matter, and heard Brother announce, "she hit me."

I was staggered! Hit him? I'd not touched him! We'd just been there dealing with the mess and now suddenly I was being accused of actual bodily harm. At the age of three he made up the lie, produced the tears, and saw it through. You have to admit, the boy's got some gumption.

Mother arrived at the door in a blaze of fury, followed by (now a slightly smug looking) Brother. A finger was wagged at me, and Mother shouted, "you hit your brother!"

I panicked. I flustered. I knew he had me, and that there was no way out. And in a rush I replied. "No I didn't! And this time, I'm telling the truth!"

I spent the rest of the day in my room with the door closed as punishment, not for hitting my brother, but for all the lies I had previously told. Odd how two words too many can get a girl into such trouble.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Discombobulation and the Art of Distraction

I've had this blank post open now for about three hours.

I've written a bit of this and a bit of that and I've deleted it and started again and then deleted that.

I don't know if I've got nothing to say or too much to say. I don't know whether I am entirely lacking inspiration or simply oozing it. Has too much become nothing at all? Or is nothing at all taking over everything else?

Is it the time of year? Is it that a new year presents so many opportunities to do something new that it's hard to see the wood for the trees? I'm not much of a one for a new year's resolution, preferring to aim for something unquantifiable ("I'll say 'yes' more often" or "I'll have more fun") but I wonder if a more definite resolution actually brings focus before there's time to lose it.

Maybe it's the temperature. Maybe my thinks are froze. I am not a fan of cold, and boy is there a lot of it about at the moment. I don't like my first and last thought being whether I've got enough layers on, or wondering whether it's too Granny-like to be curled up on the sofa in my jimmers, fleecy bedsocks and moth-eaten cardigan, under a blanket (admit it ... that's the sexiest mental image anyone's conjured for your today).

Maybe it's just that there has been so much that has been regimented, controlled and prescribed for such a long time. Now I'm freer, and my time is my own. Other than the small matter of work, I don't have to be anywhere for two months. It's a bit daunting to go from extreme organisation to extreme liberation. Too much freedom isn't good for a girl. Not for this one anyway. I function better when plans are in place, or I risk languishing on the sofa under a blanket (phwor!) waiting for something to happen.

Or maybe it's none of these things. Maybe it's not that there's too much, but that there's too little. Maybe it's that I've got a nice house now, but that life is still the same, just under a different roof. Maybe it's that, for all I've started a new job which is calmer than the old one, I'm still really doing the same thing, and it's still not really that interesting. Maybe it's that it's a new year and it's still the same and I don't know how to put that down on the page anymore.

Maybe it's just that I'm tired and crabby and feeling the same January Blues that everyone else is feeling. But one way or another I can't seem to get my thoughts in order, and I'm in a proper blue funk.

I promise to try and snap out of it by tomorrow, when normal, eloquent, erudite, and deeply fabulous (humour me ... I'm feeling precious) service will be resumed.