Monday, 26 September 2011


This song often gets stuck in my head when sipping a latte......
To the tune of 'Streets of London' and with apologies to Ralph McTell (I hope he doesn't get too cross if he ever finds out about it)

Have you seen the old man
sitting there in the corner,
flicking thru the paper
with a worn out sigh.
In his eyes you'll see no light
they're deadened by a too-long life.
Yesterday's hero - reading yesterday' s news

So how can you tell me you're lonely
and say for you that the sun don't shine?
Well, let me take you by the hand and lead you through the seats in Costas.
I'll show you something to make you change your mind.

And have you seen the young girl
sitting glued to her iPhone,
staring at her lap through her unbrushed hair.
She's no time for smiling;
She just keeps right on typing.
Checking every minute - for a text that's never there.

So how can you tell me you're lonely
And say for you that the sun don't shine?
Well, let me take you by the hand and lead you through the seats in Costas.
I'll show you something to make you change your mind.

And in the bookshop cafe at a quarter to eleven,
you will always find me - sitting there on my own.
Looking at the world
over the rim of my laptop;
editing a novel -
that the world will never know.

So how can you tell me you're lonely
And say for you that the sun don't shine?
Well, let me take you by the hand and lead you through the seats in Costas.
I'll show you something to make you change your mind

Monday, 19 September 2011


This week I thought I would tell the sorry story of the birthday cake I bought my middle daughter for her  birthday last year (apologies to early Twitter followers who have already heard it).

Even though my two eldest daughters are now grown up (28 and 30 years – how can that possibly be, I ask?) I still don my mummy loves you hat and celebrate their birthday much more than I do my own. I buy a cake, a card and a present with a big bow on it and my husband always says: “they're not kids anymore”, but I don't care (the youngest on still is – she's only 9) and I carry on anyway – because they are, and always will be, my lilttle girls.

Anyway, middle daughter's birthday comes around in September and so I buys the present, I buys the wrapping paper and the big bow, I buys the card and I buys the cake. Here is the cake:
1st prize for realism
I thought it was a bit different and we had a cat once when middle daughter was growing up, so I bought it and proudly showed it to husband.

“Ahh, we meet again, Mr Bond”, says husband in his best 007 arch villain voice.  

“Shut up” says I, “some people just don't appreciate culinary art”, and I start to stick candles in it. Now, in real life,the kitty cake looked much cuter than the picture (which gives a more 'freaky' impression) however, stick a load of candles in it and you get... well, you get a nightmare that can be used to threaten little kids and old people. Imagine a sort of Tiddles meets Pinhead from Hellraiser and you get the picture.
I think I've got something
 in my eye....

By now husband is wetting himself laughing at my attempts to make the Pinhead Tiddles more palatable, but unfortunately, once you put the candles into a cake, they leave a mark. So, if you then remove them from the poor creature's head, you are left with a load of holes and a cake that now looks like a pox-ridden cat from the dark ages. Even I had to admit it wasn't looking good.

Later, I take a phone call from the birthday girl herself:

Me (in best sunny Doris Day voice): How's my little birthday girl? What would you like for your prezzie?

Middle Daughter (in best Eeyore with haemarroids voice): My life sucks. I want a new job, a new place to live and a boyfriend.

Me (looking worriedly at the pox-ridden kitty): Well, that's nice darling.... I'll see what I can do....

I was a bit put out at this point – I mean, she could have at least asked for something manageable, like world peace or a cure for headlice. Suddenly, it seemed to me that the bottle of Britney perfume waiting to be wrapped up in a large bow, wasn't quite going to cut it as a suitable present.

Come on in - room for plenty more
Still, the next day we pack poor Tiddles and the bottle of Britney into the back of the car and start the 90 mile trek down to London to wish Eeyore a happy birthday. This journey inolves roughly a two-and-a-half hour slog around the M25 - and anyone that does the route will tell you there is another circle in Dantes Inferno and that is known to the hapless commuter as: 'The Dartford Bridge'. This Divine Comedy usually involves sitting for well over an hour in a 7 mile tailback of half a million cars and paying £1.50 toll fee for the privilege of crossing the River Styx. You go from a dozen lanes at the tollbooths out into just 4 on the other side, and the only way to do it is to close your eyes and put your foot down on the accelerator, then it's every car (or 12-wheeled truck) for himself.

So, having successfully completed this deathly trial, we finally arrive tired, late and dishevelled at the birthday tea in South London. At this point, I would just like to say that a pox-ridden, Pinhead Tiddles does not travel well. It had taken a bit of a battering in it's box and had started to sweat. Now 'road-kill' Krueger would have been a better description.

Undeterred, I proudly lit the candles (giving road-kill Krueger Tiddles rather haunting and ethereal glow) and we all sang happy birthday to Eeyore, to whom the birthday fairy had not been kind – neither supplying a new job, a new place to live nor indeed a new boyfriend* – there was however, a bottle of Britney, £30 in Next vouchers and a Jamie Oliver cookbook, so it wasn't all doom and gloom.......

Here Kitty, Kitty
….at least it wasn't until it came to cutting the cake. For one thing, the cake designers at Waitrose had not taken into account is the squeamishness/sentimentality of your average English female. The birthday girl baulked at sticking a knife into Tiddles – even if it did look like Pinhead Krueger road-kill – and when husband (who had had enough of all this birthday histrionics after a 4 hour drive through the 10th circle of  Dantes Hell) grabbed the knife, announcing: “oh good grief, you are 28 years old for heaven's sake!” before cutting Tiddles' head off and slicing up it's body – there were squeals of disapproval and nobody really wanted to eat it.

The upshot of all this was that I ended up bringing the decapitated, Kruegeresque, pox-ridden head of Tiddles back home and, after 15 minutes of sitting looking at it, looking back at me, I gave it a decent burial and chucked it in the bin.
Happy Birthday!
(2nd prize for realism)
I have learned my lesson. Never buy a cake that you have to decapitate. Boring, but safe cakes from now on... I just need to work out how to wrap up world peace and put a large bow on it.......

*Since September 2010 the Christmas Fairy has come up trumps with the new job and new place to live - the boyfriend however, is still elusive.....

Friday, 9 September 2011


This week heralded the first day back at school after the six week summer holiday break.  My youngest daughter, YumYum is 9 years old and has finally left the safety of her fluffy, warm primary school nest and flown out into the big wide world that is the middle school (we still have three tiers here in West Suffolk: Primary School until the age of 9; Middle school until the age of 13 and then it's off to High School with you).

 The bell goes in three minutes...
10-4  Did you remember your PE kit?
Primary school days start at 9.05am. Which meant that YumYum did not roll out of bed until 8.15am, get dressed until 8.45am and then we would bomb it down the A43 at 8.58am to do a handbrake turn into the school road,with me chucking her out of the car door into the grounds of the school, Starsky & Hutch style (original series).

Middle school however, starts at 8.30am!! I'll repeat that, because it takes some believing: 8 flipping 30! IN THE MORNING!! Now, this is a big shock to the system – for the both of us. We don't “do” mornings. In fact, I only “do” about an hour between 10 and 11am, but that's by-the-by. Anyway, we managed to miss the school bus on the first day (start as you mean to go on I suppose) which meant I ended up taking YumYum into the school gates myself.

Of course, I have heard a lot about school gate etiquette:  the yummy mummies; the clothes, the make-up, the behaviour - and being an “older” mother myself (ahem) I suppose could I loosely come under that heading.

So here is what I wore for my first day at middle school gates. From the top:

Hair: Loose chignon;
Face: Natural style eye make-up. Lip gloss;
Top: Floaty, handkerchief style with cropped cardigan;
Bottom: Palazzo pants;
Feet: Flat pumps;
This isn't me btw
Accessories: Large scarf. Large sunglasses. Large Handbag. Large amount of perfume.

Pretty neat huh? Look at me everybody: it's Sadie Frost meets Zsa Zsa Gabor. Fantastic.

Now, let's look at what is really going on here.

Hair: Didn't have time to have a shower and wash it (ok, I own up - I couldn't be bothered). Resulting Barnet* has had a ton of Batiste dry shampoo sprayed into it so I can do nothing but hurriedly pin it up with a hairslide in the hope it stays put - at least until I get back into the car.

Face: Natural concealer to hide the bags and black circles under my eyes which are the inevitable result of too many late nights and broken sleep. Lip gloss is actually just a Chapstick, because lips are dehydrated through too much vino the night before (and probably another cause of the eye-bags/black circles and greasy hair if I'm honest).

Curse you Waitrose and your
oh so tasty iced buns
Top: Floaty to hide the Quatermass Experiment that is my waistline (I blame the menopause - the Waitrose iced buns have nothing to do with it I tell you). The cropped cardigan is ideal for hiding the chicken/bingo wings, the likes of which can only be found elsewhere on a plate at Nandos.

Bottom: Palazzo pants have a threefold benefit. 1. Elasticated waist (see Quatermass Experiment above). 2. Covers up abnormally large thighs (again, see Quatermass above) 3. Covers up legs which are in dire need of waxing: oh, they're not quite at the Wayne Rooney hair transplant stage you understand, more of a gentle bees knees stage.... if you know what I mean.

Crap! I'm still wearing my Louboutins!

Feet: Flat pumps because toenails need repainting - plus I need to drive like the devil to get to the school gates before the bell goes and heels are a handicap....
ask Lewis Hamilton.

Accessories: Large scarf because it's flaming cold that time of the morning and it also hides a well-developed turkey neck (see also Nandos above);

Large sunglasses because it's ridiculous o'clock in the morning and I haven't had any coffee to wake me up, so my eyes make me look like a mole caught in a spotlight (a black furry creature that is, not the skin type of mole). Not to mention that I managed to get some of the natural make-up concealer into my eye before we left and now it won't stop watering.;

Large handbag because I need to carry around:  1. a large supply of painkillers; 
2. a fold-up walking stick; 
3. a book for reading in the coffee shop (which immediately follows school gate appearance) 
4. a Waitrose iced bun to eat later;
5. a half-scrawled list telling me what I am meant to be doing after coffee shop and iced bun;

Large amount of perfume mainly to disguise the disgusting lack of shower (see above).

So you see, being a school gate yummy mummy is not all it's cracked up to be. You have to think on your feet (or flat pumps in my case) and because behind every “natural” flair, there is a natural disaster.....
Good morning teacher
Yes, you can "have a quick word" 

*For non-UK viewers: Barnet is cockney slang for Barnet Fair = hair.