30 September 2005

Am I An Over Fussy Mother?

My ten year old son is tickled pink - he has found a game on the internet that has him chuckling away out loud.

His favourite 'buddies' for this game (as you can 'buy' new buddies without using real money) are George Bush and a large purple Teletubby. Somehow he has opened a whole lot more options for projectiles - grenades, babies etc.

So, is he displaying alarmingly evil tendencies, or completely normal ones (as far as any horrible ten year old boy can be said to have normal anything)?

Should I be ignoring it until he's bored, or having an apoplectic fit?

Would love to know.

29 September 2005

Spiritual Brass Neck Fully Extended

ME Strauss left me a wonderful comment, that we seem to have three weeks of PMS between periods.

Amen, Sister!

This month it could just as well be an acronym for 'pissy men syndrome', as I really don't think this is a gender specific crush we are in at the moment, it seems to be fair shares pretty much all round.

I love recognising a shift in consciousness, don't you? That is, after all, exactly what seems to be going on right now. Too many people are metaphorically revving their engines at a red light, pacing the carpet, feeling tetchy and a little trapped.

Something is going to change - we are molecules of ketchup in a bottleneck and under pressure. The trick, when you have spotted this, is to frantically infuse hope and laughter (and spiritual long sight) into everyone you meet, so that the inevitable explosion gives rise to a sense of freedom and elation, not one of free-falling in panic.

I LOVE that we are all, in our own little ways, having a genuinely shitty time, I love that it's bigger than each of us, that spiritual things are afoot.

I've found the analogy.

We are fireworks, no the specks of dull brown chemicals in a firework. On another level, beyond our consciousness, the fuse has already burned down and the gunpowder has caught. We are in that split second of furnace heat and extreme pressure before we shoot to the sky and transmute into multicoloured sparkles. We may never find out why the fuse was lit, or what the celebration is, but we can still enjoy the ride and our new, glorious colours.

Stop concentrating on the squeeze, if you can, and look at the sky, in joy and anticipation. Oh, and pass the word; find everyone you can who feels trapped; hold their hand and weave them a story of things about to change. Pass the smiles.


28 September 2005

What's In The Water?

My own mini crises are too inane or personal to go on about. I had a bit of an adrenalin rush all morning at work, and was probably pretty demanding or abrasive (or both!) until I had a good snivel at lunchtime, the one I'd desperately wanted two minutes before work started.
A bit of whimpering can be very therapeutic, like watching a weepy movie it clears more than the sinuses and allows me to think.

After that I noticed what I see Blogzilla has already echoed on her blog (hang on, is that an oxymoron, or does it have another name? How can someone echo something if they get there first?)

I digress.

I noticed that everyone, it seems, is having a crisis of some sort; each one for entirely different reasons. Stress and regret and disappointment are in the air, wherever you look. Or maybe it's something in the water?

Having felt so shitty and ratty, emotionally bruised and unreasonable this morning, fresh from the experience, I find myself alert and empathic to other people's stress.

Cheer up, if you can, because 'issues' are going round like autumn colds or acne in a youth club - everybody's got them just now, and that makes it all somehow more transigent, and, in the melee, less of a glaring difference.

In the meantime, if this relates to you, at all,.... ((((((HUGE HUGS!)))))))

26 September 2005

Eating Crow and Carpet, in Humble Pie Hat

Went to see 'the teacher'.
Explained that if Son doesn't get his statement of special educational needs he will sink without trace as soon as he hits senior school.
She agreed completely.

Expressed fear that the Education Authority would ask for proof that more help was needed than previously recommended, and that said teacher would indicate that none was used, nor needed.
Got corrected. He has his own desk, facing the wall as he likes it, and is kept company by a teaching assistant to keep him on track - all the stuff that costs extra money and that we want formalised so he can access the curriculum. The only things missing were his headphones - used in the past as earplugs, to deaden the noise of the classroom.

Explained this fear was partly based on Son insisting his homework had to be handwritten. It turns out that lots of children do their homework on the computer and are allowed to, as is he. The teacher's comment in his homework book was also based, she says, on knowledge of even tidier work he had recently done at school.

This, I guess, is why his note in lieu stipulates close home-school communication, because if news travels via Son it can be heavily filtered.

After all that fear - back on the same songsheet now. I'm still not sure that one of us isn't singing sharp, or flat; but we seem to be looking at the same piece of paper.

Maybe I need to take up meditation. Or possibly medication, hmm.

P.S. Ref BigSon post, below - if you look you can see his broken nose and broken, 'lopsided' shoulder. You can't see all the fisherman's scars up his forarms where spiked fish or crab have expressed their annoyance. He's 21. One day I'll scan one of his younger photos, from when he still looked like a cross between a choirboy and a member of the Royal Family / Christopher Robin.

25 September 2005

On The Crest Of A Wave

Had a rare phonecall from BigSon the fisherman today, who mentioned he had taken a couple of days off recently, owing to a rather large wave.

I forget the name of the game they play, but apparently it goes like this:

When a boat is heading out to sea, at a certain point the sea bed drops off with ravines and all that. At that point there are always very large waves because as water rushes in towards land and reaches the edge of the ravine, the beginning of the more shallow stretch, it hits the undersea wall and crashes upward like a mini tsunami.

The idea is that two men are up top by the wheel house to see the boat safely over the wall of water; if you hit it just right you can ride up quite smoothly, but there is always a drop at the other end. 'The game' is to then jump into the air, timing it to match the moment when the boat begins its fall. This leaves a great deal of space between the jumper and the deck and is apparently great fun, and as close to weightlessness as you can get, given gravity etc. (Not my idea of fun at all, but he seemed obliviously happy.)

On this particular day, however, they misjudged the size of the wave they had ridden - instead of flopping back down and foamily continuing towards shore, it decided to curl back on itself and come down on top of the boat - whilst BigSon and his friend were in mid air.

He managed to grab the wheel house, his friend grabbed a metal chair bolted to the floor, which the wave promptly ripped off it's bolts. BigSon hit himself on the wheelhouse, then was landed on by his friend, and then by a load of previously bolted down metal fixings. Then, because most of the swell was back in front of the boat instead of behind it, they were carried backward toward shore and went through it all again.

Two days off, no doctor, still with what he calls a 'slight headache' a week later, and he thinks its all hysterically funny.

Sometimes I have to wonder why God thinks I'm tough enough for this....................

At A Loss With School Again

Last year we tried to get Son statemented for Special Needs. His hand-eye coordination is appalling, he has Aspergers and dyslexic tendencies. Nobody has 'dyslexia' any more, officially, just tendencies.

At ten years old he still has to ask me how to spell simple words and his writing is near illegible.

His last year at school saw quite a few breakthroughs - thanks to the encouragement of that teacher and some excellent teaching assistants, he did consider an academic future. She let him display his powerpoint presentations to the class, and even sent him round other classes to share them there too. He picked up on lecturer-speak, 'I have prepared', 'you will see'; all that, and decided he wanted to be a teacher. It was enough to make me cry.

This year, as I think I already said, his plans progressed and he decided to do all his homework (for a complete change). It became a pet project of his to see every piece done and returned.

Last week he did a book review ahead of the homework being set, because he heard the teacher mention it. It was rejected. When the homework was set he had to do 100 words, hand written, this in spite of the fact that up to now school has allowed him to use the computer; allowed him to use amenuensis (dictation) and by that method write a whole lot more, and has done everything barring the Education Authority's official recommendation on his Note In Lieu (the thing you get if you fail to get a Special Ed Statement) that he be given a tape recorder to do his work orally.

Fired up as he was; determined to do all his work as he was, he ignored the headmaster's concession that he could simply do the review on the computer. He composed it in Word, just to get the spellings, then printed it off, sat down and reproduced it in his homework book by hand. Effectively he did the whole exercise twice, to conform to the letter of the assignment, with the writing out taking forever as he slowly struggled to copy digit by digit, keep them roughly of a similar size to each other and watch his spacing. I was really proud - I have never seen his work, albeit still a spider scrawl that goes up and down and all over; looking so neat.

I got his homework book back on Friday, ready for more work. The teacher's comment was:

"You make some really good points, but please keep your writing clear."

He is now looking at a very simple piece of work for this weekend and in the light of that comment, muttering that he can't really be bothered.

I don't think I can be very rational if I go to see her - I will either lose it, or go all squeaky and weak and sycophantic under the influence of adrenalin overload. I think I am going to steal his book and go see the SENCo (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) and ask her if she can point out little things like his Note in Lieu, his IEP (individual education plan), any disparities between them, and the comments of other teachers in his current statementing application. You know, stuff any teacher who gave a rats fart about the job would have read before she started.

If this woman screws up his chance at getting the help he needs by pushing the idea that he doesn't need any of what was stipulated by anybody else, I think I will let her know just what I think of her in front of her class - and I really don't want to be barred as an aggressive parent.

Anybody reading, who knows how I can handle this through the English system with some measure of diplomacy and without leaving the woman feeling cornered or resentful (but still in charge of my son) - HELP!!!

Related posts:

Sept 05, Speechless
March 05, Lewis Again
March 05, Ha-De-Bloody-Ha-Ha
Jan 05, Aspergers, A Gift?
Dec 04, Special Needs Showdown

24 September 2005

Science Can Be Fun

An international team at Oxford have been taking jellyfish genes and injecting them into the testicles of innocent hamsters. Result? Glow-in-the-dark hamster spunk.


There is nothing to say whether any progeny have resulted from this or what effect it has on them, but I think any would beat the hell out of those luminous airfix models of The Hulk or Godzilla that used to adorn boys' bedrooms. There must be some, at some stage of development or other, because the whole point of the exercise is to be able to work out how sperm irregularities affect conception. Not the irregularity of being luminous green; obviously.

Strange - when the Simpsons (normally a piercing condemnation of political trends) produced the three-eyed fish (which they then cheerfully ate for lunch - more parody) from the irradiated river waters surrounding Burns' power station, it never occurred to me that somewhere along the Thames, men in white coats with long hypodermics would be contriving something much the same. Even Gremlins II assumed that kind of science would only go on behind closed doors courtesy of a bumbling multimillionaire.

Role Models

I allowed my nine year old to wear eyeliner and mascara to the school disco. This had quite a strong effect as she has blonde hair and brown eyes.

She was very pleased with the end result. Sorry its such a bad picture. What never ceases to please me is her choice of role model, the woman she has accredited with ultimate cool and to be emulated as far as possible.

"Mummy...................do I look like Avril Lavigne?"

Yes! Score: gutsy broads, one; bimbos nil.

23 September 2005

Half Hour Detention And No School Disco, aka The Onion Of Distress

Its the Junior School disco tonight.

Daughter, nine, has picked out her sparkly t-shirt, sparkly belt, applique denim skirt, best new trainers and necklace. She has announced that she will not be going in a dress like last time as dresses are for sappy curly girls really. She has booked a bath and hairdressing session with me, a 'girls' night in' before the big event, and has asked if she might have a little make-up.

Entry is £1, it runs from 7.45 to 9pm (past her bedtime; very exciting) and has been the sole topic of conversation for two days.

She no longer hides her eyes or pretends to puke when characters on TV kiss, but still insists she will remain single and adopt a child, because she wouldn't mind getting married but wants to have a baby and is adamant that she isn't going to do all that yukky kissing stuff just to get one. Yesterday she broke from disco talk to tell me that she drew a picture at school, of a princess in a 'tirara' and that she thinks she will call her adopted daughter Rosette, or Rosetta. Hmm, so its a prize for a horse, or an indecipherable old stone.

Her older brother, ten, has been acting pretty casual about the disco. Daughter told me she doesn't need money for the tuck shop, so long as she gets a drink of water, because she looks forward to dancing all night and singing her head off. She also told me that Son should get pocket money because what he likes most about the disco is being able to flash the cash and buy drinks for his friends. She is like me, and he is like his older brother and, come to that, my brothers also; I seem to have produced a girl who likes to ride the high and dance til she drops and a boy who likes to seem suave, commanding and generous. Loopy Lou and James Bond.

My little 007, however, has gone and blown it. He has a half hour detention to face on Monday and is therefore banned from the big event tonight. He was in the lunchtime club, doing a very bad job of waiting for his turn on the computer, until he harrassed the child who was playing on it to the point that he forfeited his turn altogether. The teacher (Mrs Jackson) said "That's it, I warned you, you've lost your turn today." Son has this amazing way of opening his mouth and bypassing his brain altogether and replied, in front of a group of younger children, "Oh and aren't you just Mrs Sarcastic-Jackson."

Big Oops.

He was red eyed and struggling to come to terms with this on the way home. I don't think he makes things up, I just think he is incredibly bad at reading his own feelings; he tends to go for the rationally obvious reason rather than the real one. I do that too, sometimes, so for the whole walk home we peeled the layers like an onion.

Surface upset No 1: The disco. He insisted he couldn't give two hoots about missing the disco.

Surface upset No 2: The other boy, Son says, ate his lunch super fast and had extra time that way, then kept saying he had pushed a wrong button by accident and got extra time that way too. He was, he said, very upset at how unfair this was.

Son is to computer games as a moth is to flame. He simply cannot control himself if someone else is playing instead of him - he is there; hovering, suggesting, clockwatching and being a pest.

We had a little chat about how school took a piffling five hours out of a whole twenty four, that lunchtime club took only one hour, and school computer time took less than that. We worked out that he gets and hour of computer time at home before school and at least an hour and a half after school; so that if Mrs Jackson and Other Boy want to be awkward, he could just stay polite and let them get on with it, because heck, even if the whole of school was spent with other people being weird it was still nothing, because he could have life all his own way at home, for more waking hours than school takes up.

He had never thought of it that way. He said so. I got a hug, (very unusual, in the street.)

Surface upset No 3: Spending a weekend waiting to do a half hour detention on Monday. Once I pointed out that long detentions got done at lunchtime, that this meant half an hour doing some work in peace and quiet with the headmaster instead of having to put up with lunchtime club and Mrs Sarcastic-Jackson his face lit up. Repeat exclamation and hug.

Real reason (No 4): The disco. A big issue after all. Not because of any of the usual attractions, but because there is a girl in his class called Carla and he was working up to asking her for a slow dance at the end. At this point his little voice broke as he told me, his eyes got red all over again and he shoved his hands in his pockets and walked faster. He has never asked a girl for a dance before - normally they give up and ask him.

We solved it. I asked his sister how she would feel if a boy in her class brought her a rose in front of everybody because she was pretty and he didn't dance with her at the disco. The gooey, eager smile on her face convinced him.

He has declined taking a gift/love token (crush token I guess, really) to school on Monday morning, because he fears some of the lads would almost definitely spend all week calling him gay. He has declined the idea that Daughter might take it to the disco on his behalf because that wouldn't be personal enough. No, I am to take the gift to work with me on Monday, hang on to it, go directly to school to get there early for the end-of-day bell so we can catch Carla before she goes home, and he is going to make the presentation just after hours, in person, but with a level of discretion he feels comfortable with.

Crises over. Halle-flippin'-lujah.

22 September 2005

Hurricane Rita

As Rita approaches Texas, I just wanted to say good luck and send my best wishes to everybody affected.

For the New Orleans refugees - I can't imagine anything worse than being evacuated twice.

For the rest - thank God for the lessons of Katrina - I pray they have all been learned and that those that need help to evacuate are getting it.

Nothing would be lovelier than for Rita to bump the coast and dissipate like a damp squib.

Fingers, toes and everything else crossed.

20 September 2005


This year, for some unfathomable reason, my ten year old's sense of achievement has been stirred. He suddenly wants to produce schoolwork, including extra curricular, unrequested extravaganzas of self-initiated work that mirrors the class topics.

Good work gets shown to the class - paperwork goes up on the walls and PPSs get shown on the wall screen, including stuff you did at home.

The kid who used to look at a four-question homework sheet like it had the plague, suddenly spent four hours researching World War 2 and making up a seven page Powerpoint presentation, complete with flying bullet points and moving graphics.

An hour of that time was spent on the phone to his Gran, and both left the conversation with a sensation of being special. They bonded.

In fact, most of his presentation was to do with the little things she told him - born in 1930, my mother was ten when we went to war and fifteen when it all came to an end.

She told him (and he quoted) that:

  • Some children were evacuated, and some of those were used as unpaid slave labour on the farms when they arrived - treated as good only to replace the farm hands that had gone to war
  • Some children (like her) stayed in London with their families ("If we go we'll all go together") and that for them there was a kind of club you joined to collect newspaper and shrapnel for the war effort. You started out as a Private in this official club and went up the ranks according to how much you had collected. It meant she tailed the ARPs etc, waiting for a bombed house to be declared safe, to clamber in and get the shrapnel - her and a whole bunch of kids, who would compare finds to see who had got the biggest bit. It put some fun and purpose into facing blown up houses.
  • She ended up as a Field Marshall.
  • There were queues everywhere. If you saw a queue you joined it, no questions asked, because it meant there was something worth having at the other end.
  • Because every scrap of good meat was for the human rations, the pet shops would stock horse and whale meat, for the pets. There were a lot of imaginary dogs where she lived, people 'created' animals, so they could bump their diet up with a bit of horse. The pet shop always had a long queue.
(No I am not going to make some scathing comment about the reports that some New Orleans residents have disdained fresh food and water because it wasn't burgers and Coke.)

He took this in to school on Friday morning, on his own memory chip, having first done a grand presentation to us at home, so I know exactly what ended up on the finished piece. He even removed the point that dressmakers would ask the butchers for the net that the meat arrived in, as it could be bleached and was the only material around for making a wedding dress (unless you got your hands on a rare parachute silk - although those had their own black market for making women's underwear.) He thought that was gross, too yucky to use.

His teacher didn't have time to look at it that day and ended up keeping his chip for the whole weekend. Then she was in and out of class yesterday and he finally got it back today. Since he completed his mini project on Thursday night, he has waited five days to see whether he would be allowed to share his effort with the class. So much tension and excitement, and hope.

No. Apparently his teacher said it was unsuitable for two reasons:
  1. Too many exclamation marks.
  2. Some of it wasn't true.
He asked her which bits weren't true, but she said she couldn't remember.

Post Script due to comments:

Lewis is Aspergers and dyslexic, with a bad case of the "I can't so I won't" and trouble reading faces and inferred intent. He has a 'Note In Lieu' at school and does a lot of work on the computer there because his handwriting is so appalling. Last year they 'discovered' his brain when a teaching assistant regularly took dictation for him.
Up to now he has been encouraged with House Points for good behaviour and teachers are free to award them in extra amounts to kids who struggle.
He has NEVER recorded them or paid them any attention because you mark your own points on the board at break time or the end of the day and too many times he has amassed enough for teachers to wipe them back off the board, calling him a liar - so he just doesnt play.
This year, if he does every single piece of homework, he feels that he will be presented with £5 cash, in assembly, by the headmaster.
I didn't think this would inspire him but it has, I guess because homework sheets are tangible and can't be called imaginary - not that he has EVER done a single piece of homework outside of school hours.
He has also started trying, like this instance, to put in even more hours.
Perhaps she was stopping him from getting ego issues with it, from becoming obsessively carried away, but I really do have to go in and see, don't I, I can't let it lie.

19 September 2005

Free Association 137

LunaNina's list has somehow failed to send me off on little imaginative trips this week. Be grateful.

1. Less filling:: more bread
2. Glue:: ear
3. Surprise me:: sarcastic
4. Model:: aeroplane
5. Fee::rates
6. Microphone:: 1 2 3 testing
7. Choices:: options
8. To the bone:: worked my fingers.....
9. Run!:: In these shoes?
10. Appeal:: procedure

18 September 2005

Dear Men

Dear men, it's OK. It's not your fault.

All foetuses start out female, you see, so whilst we girls are spending a month or so refining brain and eye function, you are growing testicles and generally being rewired at the opposite end.

All colour blind persons are male, but even those of you who can distinguish colours perfectly well can't do it as well as us women. We have the spare time to develop an extra set of retinal cones. It explains why we are so picky, to your minds, about what does and doesn't match.

Autism has been described as belonging to the extreme male end of the gender spectrum. Other factors can cause it, obviously, but its a rare male who has even the average female ability to read faces and intonation. Heck, our communication skills are so refined in comparison that for aeons they simply called it women's intuition. I'm sorry you sometimes wail that we expect you to be psychic; thats not true, we just tend to treat you as equals and wave blatant flags and signals in your face forgetting they are the equivalent to drop-out-blue to your brains. You would actually have to be psychic (or female,) so, sorry.

Our brains are wired differently, too. Women have multiple small connections between the left and right hemisphere whereas male connections are cabled - one huge fat connection in the middle. Plug and Play. Women have a form of hard wired dyslexia and I mean that in a good way.

Dyslexics don't form the glue for the mental connections so easily, in the area of the brain relating to letter shapes etc. They learn best by using all five senses, by forming multiple possible routes to an answer and by using every sense at their disposal to reinforce a connection. They become brilliant multi taskers, chess players and tacticians because they train an area of their brain to consider all the possibilities. Find a dyslexic who was called stupid at school, who fought to declare their validity, and you will find one of the fastest thinkers you can meet.

Women are born with all these thin connections between the spatial and verbal sides of the brain. It is our nature to already have and use many possible ways of combining information to reach a conclusion. Whilst every connection in your brain goes the same route and makes you feel that getting from point A to point Z is straightforward, we see points B through Y as well. Man sees the top of the mountain. Woman sees the crevasse in the way, three possible paths and the incoming weather report. We see you as blind and bumbling, you see us as picky and fussy and slowing you up.

You know its not all bad; you know that with your gonads comes a lifetime supply of testosterone, making you taller, stronger, more aggressive and very handy when theres chasing or heavy lifting to do.

You know that this inspires you even in early childhood to explore the world of single answers; cars, engines, winners and losers, basic sports that don't need to be scored by judges because the result is defined by rules. You also know that little girls will find more satisfaction in exploring role play, interrelations, possible reactions and emotion-based consequences. We are the social theorists to your rule book fanatics, and you respond to this difference by ridiculing us. Of course you do; we involve ourselves in a plane of thought that is beyond your comprehension and therefore, from your perspective, unnecessary to life, outside of the factors involved in seeing point Z and heading straight for it.

Its OK. Its not your fault; only try to remember that our logic is valid, just different. Realise also that you have the superior physical strength and attendant aggressive streak for two reasons.

a) You are bumbling little boys, bless you, and you need it to survive.
b) Without it you would be the underclass, the 'special needs' segment of society and we would make your lives hell, patting you on the head and ignoring your silly misconceptions. Flip, you probably wouldn't even have got the vote until, ooh, about 100 years ago.

Bygones. Deal?

Guessing Game

The game is: who do you think did this?

17 September 2005

But Darlings, I Love You All

Darren over at ProBlogger has given seven days for readers to admit to their blog crushes.

Quoted examples of crush behaviour include:

- you like the way they blog
- you find yourself logging onto their blog every day (sometimes more) and staring at their design or drooling over their way with words
- their RSS feed is at the top of your list
- you leave more comments on their blog than you write posts on your own
- you let them know about posts you’ve written in the hope that one day they’ll notice you
- you dream about that elusive spot on their blog roll that you’d love to fill
- every second post you do is about them or their blog
This puts me on the spot. I like to think of myself as fairly discerning but I rarely add anyone to my bloglist whose posts do not leave me impressed; by the humour, the turn of phrase, the literary skill, the layout and most usually by the personality behind it all.

I guess I just love you all - I hope that doesn't make me look like a blogslapper (UK slang, slapper = whore!), please think of me more as a kid in a sweety shop and stuck for choice.

The seven days are now actually only FIVE DAYS, so if there is anyone that you admire, have urges to promote or see succeed etc etc, please pop over to problogger and play.

Going away now, because I'm getting that shy, nervous wallflower feeling, which is detestable. I have to find a mirror and go tell myself off.

Probably Mad, Certainly Has Baggage.

I am a complete fan of convolutions and serendipity and........... that sort of stuff. It's kind of like taking the scenic route, also known (especially when you become temporarily lost) as 'going the pretty way'.

Thanks to Tabitha Rabbit commenting on my blog (cheers, TR), which was very flattering in itself and a jolly happy start, I toddled off to her blog and, with a swift scan of a single post:
a) decided I liked it, and
b) discovered a shared interest in Bill Oddie.

To explain, Gary's family are related to the Oddies in an aeons-back-when-they-all-shared-one-village sort of a way, and they are not entirely dissimilar to look at except Gary could also equally be Elton John's younger (straight!) brother and could be fairly described as a very white, very blonde black man. There is colour in his ancestry too, as evidenced by the tiny little curly hairs on the back of his neck, which being fine rather than course can take a very circuitous route to the surface; much like this post so far. Oh, and he has that neck muscle thing going on. You know when some black guys shave their heads and they have this deep, muscular furrow practically from earlobe to earlobe around the back of the head? Yeah, one of them.

Getting to the point, or at least heading off back toward said point for the sake of a pretence at order here: because Tabby commented and because I went to her blog, and because I then went to comment back (which is the polite thing to do even if you don't like someone's blog, except I do like hers so thats a spare happy accident, and a sort of mid-trip treat) I read another comment and through that went googling for Bill Bailey.

I found his blog! No RSS feed, rather infuriatingly, and another reason why I should reassess my reluctance to leave Bloglines and consider Blogroll instead. Or as well - ooh, maybe as well.

Anyhoo; (what a wonderful word; so loathsome that it has become addictive, and no you are not invited to analyse that statement) - anyhoo I read a bit, and guess what? It's real.

By real I mean it's not glammed up and it's not his best attempt at playing the jovial/convivial [delete as applicable] host; a side of himself that he manages to show with ease on TV and that has made Never Mind The Buzzcocks so likeable, to my mind, that I would watch repeats. His blog is not a picture frame for his stage persona, but mutters on happily about cheese and hummous overload on tour, and general work commitments. When the humour and sense of the absurd shines through, it is natural, not glossy; it even appears to be surfacing despite a conscious effort to make the blog 'useful' and to pack it with gig notices. The guy is just plain funny and probably has a little voice at the back of his head, like a ghostly schoolteacher, that occasionally mutters ineffectual admonishments to be sensible.

(Next month I am going to try and go ten days without using inverted commas, semicolons and brackets (thats parentheses to my American friends, not shelf fixings), so do please remind me.)

I like Bill Bailey, a lot. I could qualify that by saying I like the person I believe to be Bill Bailey i.e. the persona I imagined from limited televisual input, but that would be really anal and unecessary, so I won't.

On one level he engenders that sort of familiarity that makes you think of a favourite uncle from your childhood, replete with pipe and slippers and stereo, with a rusty motorbike, a large old house in the London-nearly-suburbs and possibly a shed or upstairs room where he simultaneously makes wine out of carrots, parsnips and dog hair and also preserves things like stag beetles in formaldehyde.

(Oh yes, remind me to jack in the hyphens too (confused readers - 'jack in' means give up, and yes I am having fun now using all the aforementioned grammatical sins as often as possible))

On another level entirely I have to say this:
  • Musicians are sexy. Thats just the way it goes. The concept that a man has a musical, ergo spiritual soul somehow makes all sins forgiveable and even endearing, because we women (or sad, hopeless ones like me at any rate) decide that the 'real' man is the musician and not the grumpy sod who just trod on the cat whilst looking for his socks.
  • A pair of eyes that sparkle and show cheekiness, wit and a level of self effacement are, umm, a huge weakness of mine.
  • Keyboard players tend to have long, strong, dexterous fingers. I'm stopping RIGHT THERE on that subject. Phwoar.
  • Add those benefits to a decent intellect, a sense of the ridiculous and a taste for good beer, and heck; where are my jeans, where is the (first) pub, and after a pint and a packet of peanuts do you want to play verbal ping-pong about global warming, football or cricket?

Excuses, excuses.........

I am allowing myself this post because I have just completed two weeks doing five hours of cardio in a steam bath every day (as a school dinner lady) for a pittance, and am emotionally and intellectually drained. I only have to shut my eyes to see visions of frozen cases of veggie burgers and industrial size tubs of mayo. I am up late (if you call 1 am late) for the first time in a fortnight, and am in one of those 'who gives a flying f-word' moods. I guess I need to write more than I need to think or sleep.

(That's need as in feel an uncontrollable urge, rather than need as in could benefit from the social skill)


16 September 2005


Dear Zilla

I share your enthusiasm for the weekend, not so that I can go out and get a life, but with any luck spend Saturday like a zombie, race round doing a week's worth of laundry etc after that and hopefully actually be able to think, briefly, by Sunday afternoon.

Yes, in all probability I will be preparing my head for a long post.

Not sure what sort, yet.

15 September 2005

Worth a chuckle: click here

(Not a full blown guffaw, by any means, but a smirk, perhaps)

14 September 2005

Newsy Bits

If you want to put someone off collagen implants, read this [THANKS TO BADAUNT THIS LINK WORKS NOW]

If you could handle it if your kid's younger half brother was also his/her uncle (yuck) read this

If you have no faith in what effluent is doing to Florida, see this.
(Hang on, wasnt he the baddy in Aqua Marina? Doh, sorry, I mean Stingray. I didnt much care for the boat-sub-thingy, I wanted to be Marina and used to cry when the song came on - so sad! I wonder what happened to Troy Tempest........)

Finally: Microwave ovens came about because a guy cleaning the front of a radar dish found the experience melted the bar of chocolate in his back pocket. Hmm; I wonder how his kidneys are, these days. Plenty of people get pressure headaches when theres a storm on the way in, or nearing electricity power stations. Perhaps the microwaved chocolate is the most relevant, but why are some people even bothering to try and refute this?

Yeah OK its not a proper post, but I need to convince the search engines that I'm still alive or my page rank goes down. Hic sob (big deal!)

13 September 2005


Sorry I havent posted since Sunday, nor commented. I haven't even got round to reading half the blogs I love (and used to pop in to visit twice a day when there was more time).

Its just this new job. I'm knackered.

11 September 2005

Mine, all mIne.............

I love slogan T-shirts.

They don't seem to go down a bomb in Sussex, so I tend to love them from a distance. We are not exactly suffocating under the twin set and pearls brigade here, but this area still has an air of superglued class, like a town full of failed newsreaders and ex-headmistresses. Just a touch too much tweed, perhaps, and a subtle lack of individuality. Standards-By-Sea, that's this place.

Anyhow, such an environment can make you think some ideas are plain silly, but dear ME Strauss echoed exactly what I had been mulling after my last post, so I am in the process of setting up a cafe press shop.

Its going to be called Menopausal Maniac.

Slogans so far are:

Don't push it.
I can plead insanity.


OK Sh*t Happens
but did you have to make it an art form?

I've worked out how to save files as PNGs and am looking for suitable free clipart to tart up / individualise amongst my old CDs.

You didn't really want to know that did you? Tough, because this blog has a form of copyright on it, so I have just baggsied my little creations, (at least the phrases if not the layout, font choice etc. Yet.)

They're mine, I tell you, mine, Gladys, all mine! Muahahahaha!


I am NOT a mad cow
(cows don't have guns.)

Look On The Bright Side
Remember PMS or PMT, PTSD and PND?
Well this is just them, but for longer
(about five years.)

Blogzilla On The Spot

Well she asked for it. I did check what she meant exactly by being set up, and how far I could go, promise. It meant reading back through her blog and I always enjoy doing something wonderful like that, especially when I can tell myself its an obligation as well as a self indulgence, which kind of makes me more 'allowed'.

Dear Blogzilla

1. Did you know that the perimenopause can go on for five years before the grand changeover? I saw you started a regime a few months back. Are you living on the after effects of that or keeping it up? Whats your current regime?*

2. Sounds to me like Ex and Mrs Ex are pretty hopeless parents, even dangerous. Are you keeping a detailed diary of all their muck-ups? Can you recall a few more that are not mentioned on your blog/happened pre-blog?

3. How's your sister?

4. I've never known twins to arrive on their due date - too much pressure. Pressure is good, LOL, less pushing involved. Is everything ready? Hospital bag by the door?

5. Sounds like your mum has landed on her feet - not because of Mr King's lack of financial worries, but because of his attitude to life. How is Husbandman similar or different and what is his most endearing quality?

* In case that one is a bit close to the mark, I have just started my one symptom so far; the night sweats. They are pigs, I only wake up when they have triggered a nightmare, so I pace the house feeling like I have run a marathon and want to kill somebody. Every night and sometimes with an encore. So I actually want to know, please.

Free Association 136

LunaNina's list for this week, done today straight after breakfast. I wonder if that makes my answers less thoughtful (cos heck, I aint awake yet) or more incisive. Hmm. Or both.

  1. Related:: associated, linked. Funny I thought of issues rather than items or people.
  2. Soothing:: rocking a baby back to sleep, or aftersun lotion
  3. Flashback:: ....To the days when the nights were young...
  4. Turmoil:: mud stirred up
  5. Immense:: huge
  6. Guitar:: Gently weeps. Its gonna be a lyrics day.
  7. Nonsense:: Edward Lear, Spike Milligan; fun.
  8. Blame:: Horrible stuff - being pigeonholed as the defective element. We all hate 'blame' especially in public, so we all look to see who should take the blame, we are quite forthright about it because finding the guilty party makes us feel more secure and free from suspicion. "I hope you know that was all YOUR fault". Its as pervasive as physical abuse - it is mental abuse and one of those ways that we habitually and easily do unto others so it isnt done unto us. Wrong wrong wrong wrong.
  9. Childlike:: fun to be around. Different from childish.
  10. Duff:: Homer's beer


Blogzilla has asked me to find five impertinent questions for her - the phrase being 'set me up'.

Can you imagine getting a request like that from a woman who deliberately finds unecessary jobs for hunky handymen, just to make them bend over and check out whether they flash what we in the UK call builder's cleavage at the top of their pants?

This is going to take some time.

10 September 2005

I Love My Husband - He's Nuts

My darling husband has such a skewed but flattering view of reality that its hard not to adore him.

He currently has the re-runs of Cybill pre-selected on the TV as essential viewing.
He has this thing for Christine Baranski, or more specifically for her character Maryann Thorpe.

He has this thing for Maryann Thorpe because that's who he thinks I am. "Look, look! She is SO exactly like you!"

Rich, no. Elegant, no. Permanently with a glass in hand, sadly not. Sarcastic, dismissive, evil minded and up for midnight jaunts to fill bedroom windows with dead fish........................ woah wouldn't I just. Or would I?

But thats what I love; he sees me as the person I secretly always wanted to be but was too plain chicken to let her out to play. Supremely confident, unbreakable, irrepressible and with a heart of gold under the well targeted spikes. Wow.

Some days I realise I'm just plain lucky.

Five for Annie

Annie at Retrotype has asked me for five gentle questions.

If you find Annie's comments on other blogs, you will see she is a witty, observant and funny friend. I rate her very highly indeed.

However, circumstances mean that she keeps her own blog as a general diary of daily events and a way of keeping constant contact with her sons, so that very few strong opinions or glimpses of her lightning wit are allowed to shine through.

If ever she starts an anonymous blog for letting off steam, it had better not be anonymous from me! From what I know of her I bet her observations on some very silly or annoying people she has had to deal with would make her a laugh a minute.

Anyway, as this is to be gentle and as Annie so very obviously dotes on her boys:


1. You love your boys so very much - what characteristics are you trying to instill by example? Apart from never speaking evil of anyone even if they ask for it. That one's obvious.

2. Describe one really happy childhood experience involving your mum, when you felt extra special.

3. If you had £500 completely spare and only a weekend to spend it in, what would you buy?

4. You are thinking of renaming your blog. What are the names you have discounted so far, and why?

5. Describe your boys - height, attitude, special qualities.

Hope that wasn't too gentle; can't wait for your answers!

09 September 2005

Bush Family Holiday

Got this by email. It really isn't funny at all, but somehow...............

08 September 2005

Technical Help?

Theres a bloody pop-up attached to my blog.

I didn't put it there.
I don't know how it got there.
I DON'T WANT it there,
but I don't know how to get rid of it.

I really detest this piggybacking abuse - any ideas, please pretty please?

Ally - Consider Yourself Stitched!

As requested (silly, silly girl) here is my best attempt to stitch up my friend Ally from Ducking For Apples. I wish I was up to speed (mentally and physically) but, new job and all that.

Hope this is OK.

1. Please list at least the three most embarrassing times you got caught, during your school years; one to involve a boy

2. What is the single most mindboggling liberty your ex-pigfriend took. You know, the memory that creeps up on you every once in a blue moon and leaves you stiff with outrage or disbelief, at him, or at yourself for falling for it? We've all got one (or two, or three.....)

3. Imagine your life going really well - everything gradually falling in to place from here on in. Now imagine yourself at 80 having lived the 'it all worked out' life. What one piece of advice would the 80 year old you give to you right now? If you have no idea, then who would she be?

4. Describe one recurring dream you have ever had, now or in childhood.

5. Which fairy story character did you most want to be?

Ally, I can't wait to see your answers!

English-American Translation

I would like to make this post bigger. I know people have told me in the past that they had to work around the English slang in my posts - my only problem is I don't know which words they referred to!

Blogzilla has asked me what a pinny is.

I propose to update this post for every UK word my American (or other) friends don't understand, until we have a handy reference list. It doesn't matter where you saw the word - here or on any UK blog/website.

(If the translation makes no sense either, then I trust someone to let me know!)

Jumper - traditional name for a woollen knitted sweater. If it has long sleeves, no front fastenings and is made of machine or handknitted wool (ok, or cotton, or acrylic wool) its a jumper.
Pinny - shortened form of piniafore - apron.
Plimsolls / Plimsoles canvas topped flat trainers, almost always black. Very like deck shoes, but softer. Worn by every UK schoolchild for PE. Fastened with laces or velcro crossover, but traditionally worn as a slip-on with elasticated inserts either side of a tongue shaped central section.
Raspberry#1 - shortened form of Cockney rhyming slang, raspberry ripple - nipple.
Raspberry#1a - shortened form of Cockney rhyming slang, raspberry ripple - cripple. Apparently.
Raspberry#2 - a strange quacking or fart like noise made by pursing or twisting the lips before blowing, or by blowing out with the tongue out.
Snooker - a classy version of pool - one white ball, a few red balls and one each of several other colours. There are no numbered balls, but you pot a red then a colour, then a red and so on to clear the table. Different colour balls score different points. Every time a colour other than red is potted it comes back on the board until all the reds are gone, then you have to pot the colours in strict sequence ending with the black; the white cannot be allowed to clip the wrong colour. The game is named after the way you can leave the balls at the end of your move. If the next colour your opponent has to pot is positioned right behind another ball, so that there is no way at all for them to hit the right one, then thats a snooker. They have to have a go, and when they hit the wrong one it opens the table back up for you.
Snookered - screwed, basically; set up, stitched up, stuck, unable to move, damned whatever you do, forced into giving the advantage to the opposition - named after the same situation in the game.

Five Questions

(Edit: Speling currected)

I left a poem on Blogzilla's site and now I have to answer five questions. We are fairly new friends so although I like her a lot, she is mercifully short of inside info on me. I have got off light.

Here they are:

1) My mom, after about the fourth gin martini, can be counted on to start reminiscing about Jimmy Flannigan, a rakish Irish fellow she knew in college. Depending on the quality of the gin (because we know quantity has nothing whatsoever to do with anything), she either engaged in a bit of chaste cavorting with him, or she lost her virginity to him they engaged in a bit of not so chaste cavorting. Either way, she clearly was ass-over-applecart for this guy. I have no idea why things didn't work out, but I theorize that we all have a Flannigan lurking in our pasts. Who was your Flannigan, why didn't it work out, and where do you suppose he is now?

On the love level: I wish I did have a Flannigan, but I was far too self involved as a teenager. I lusted after boys like they were ego decoration, it was all to do with appearances and my heart was never that far into it. I had crushes but never really desired anybody and I never ever noticed if someone fancied me until they got to the point, so I sort of slid into relationships - they just turned up.

On the individual men level: John was the thinker with plans, Tim was the tall one; tall enough that I could wear heels and tuck under his arm - he also had cyclists thighs, all defined and gorgeous. By the time both relationships were over I was conviced they were total weirdos - a character flaw which far outweighs any plus points.

On the regrets level: All my regrets centre around what I personally did not do and others (male or female) don't come into it at all

On the tipsy reminiscence level: When in that state I remember the stupid/funny/bizarre things. A little alcohol makes me lighten up. A lot of alcohol makes me decide the world needs an agony aunt, aka me, and promptly inflict that on them. I THINK I got very tipsy out of boredom at one of those subdued intellectual house parties, went up to a girl I didn't know who had one lazy eye permanently staring at her own nose, and told her to cheer up, that it made people look and see how pretty the rest of her face was, and that anyway a bit of makeup would help. I was being nice; honestly; but why she didn't kill me is anybody's guess.

2) My husband and I are arguing. Again. One of us claims that figure skating and gymnastics should be omitted from the Olympics because the scoring depends on judges. The other believes that if that's at all close to being the case, the only sports that belong at the Olympics are those sports that measure an individual's strength, speed and endurance, so football, hockey, basketball, and water polo are all out, too. Cheryl, whose side are you on, and how do I get that pompous ass wonderful man of mine to agree with me for a change?

Flip. I agree with you both, if I understand you. The original Olympics were staged on the site of some heavy duty Zeus worship, by a people who believed the gods only championed the super-strong. They were open to men only. The Athenians (?) took this a stage further and practiced euthenasia, leaving babies with 'defects' out on the rocks to die. Heck I think they left all the babies out on the rocks for a period, and only went back to the apparently physically 'perfect' ones and only collected them up if they still looked healthy. They were seriously, seriously into physical supremacy.
On the one hand sports judged by a panel of experts do mean that the winner is a matter of opinion, on the other hand if you are going to let in football and team sports, (or anything including women) then you have changed the original tenor of the games (a good thing), you have appealed to the masses, inclined more people to watch by increasing the chance that their country will have at least one Gold medal and therefore one hero and have generally succumbed to using marketing. To do that and exclude certain popular sports would be wrong and silly - wrong because of prejudice against skill sets, and silly because if its popular then you need it on the list to attract both the athletes and the punters and generally keep interest up.
But then again, if you think about it, that whole argument could crash down around my ears depending on when the relay race was introduced.

3) You're a quick and witty poet from what I've read, and I'm sure your more serious (less off-the-cuff, so to speak) poems are beautiful. Care to share a line or two from a favorite you've written, and explain, if you can, why or how poetic expression became a part of your life?

Thank you. Witty = silly = easy to be, I've had practice. My 'real' poetry, which I only had a stab at fairly recently (and only for a couple of months) tends to involve trying to express emotion, which involves recognising emotion, which my mother taught me was a 'BAD THING'. In out family its called belly button staring, is meant to be very unhealthy and incline you towards things like depression and is seriously frowned upon. If life gives you shit, you shovel shit or make shit castles, your choice, but if my mum caught me looking at the next kid with a pile of candy instead of shit and starting to feel self pity (or feel, for that matter), I would have got a proper telling off. "We're all different", "There are two types of women, lions and mice", "God trains his lions with bigger weights, or do you want to be a namby pamby mouse?" , "You can cry over the shit, or shift the shit -which way is going to get rid of it? Get moving." My mother doesn't ever say words like shit, but you get the gist.

Anyhoo - I often get angry when the trigger was sad and have to work out that I am expressing adrenalin and expletives because I feel tender instead of furious. Its awkward because the more in need of a hug I am, the more I appear to myself and the world as being indestructible and a bit scary.

I did try accessing emotion for poetry, but when it involves introspection I have these blocks to it, so I see my 'thoughtful' work as a bit 'off'.

Heres the last one I spent more than half an hour on, that sort of doesnt suck too much. I think I posted it on here a few months back. It needs work, the words arent all syrup yet, it ought to flow to work properly.


Languid, honeyed lyrics swim the lazy afternoon
As the tinny, tiny stereo so dominates the room
That the lilting little melodies it pumps into the air
Seem to dance the dusty sunshine with a sultry lack of care.
And the fluff beneath the sofa breathes a comfy sigh of peace
As the echoes of the broken clock implore that time should cease,
Yet summer seems eternal, as it swelters o'er the bed,
But Gloria's indifferent now, Gloria is dead.

It seemed so very crucial, to swallow all those pills,
And life seemed so unbearable with all her woes and ills,
And all her wasted chances, and all her guilt and shame,
But the radio keeps playing and cajoling just the same.

4) You bump into a mere acquaintance on her way to work and you stop for brief pleasantries. You notice that she has a small but quite noticeable piece of spinach, or maybe oregano, lodged between an incisor and a cuspid. Do you mention it and risk embarrassing her, or do you ignore it and risk that she'll suffer embarrassment at work?

I am eternally grateful to people who tip me off like that, whereas my husband becomes very embarrassed and even angry. Friend, yes definitely; acquaintance possibly not, sorry. I would tell anyone if their fly was undone, but somehow hygeine issues are more personal. In the UK we don't say things like XYZ, we say 'You're flying' or 'Bzzzzzzzzzz'.

5) Your home is clean, tidy and in good repair, your bills (every last one of them) are all paid in full, the shopping and laundry for the next week is done, and the kids are staying with auntie or granny or some other trusted and capable soul. There's a knock at your door and you answer it. A messenger hands you an envelope and turns on his heel, leaving before you can ask questions. You open the envelope. Inside: two hundred-fifty pounds, and a note that reads, "Cheryl, Have some good, selfish fun this weekend. Please use the funds herein, or they'll vanish in a puff of smoke by Sunday at six in the evening. Regards, An Admirer" How do you spend your weekend?

Ooh I'd start with having my eyebrows waxed, maybe a pedicure and a massage, or a reflexology session, its been years. I wouldnt go out with the husband, he doesnt party like I would like to, is far too sedate for me and he thinks things like taking dares or singing in the street or getting on fairground rides just to scream are embarrassing. I don't need to feel disapproval, thanks.

5 a) Oh, really?

Nah, not really. The nearest family member is 100 miles away and my house is never tidy; not that the latter would stop me.

OK now I am supposed to pass this on. Its a lot like Doris' 5Q4U but still, if anyone wants me to think up five questions about them then all you have to do is leave a comment here, saying either 'set me up' or 'be gentle', and I will do my best to comply with whichever version you choose.

07 September 2005

Stupid Idea aka SI#1

I get these silly ideas. I mull them around and then forget them. This is one such - but its MY stupid idea - no theft, in case it makes me rich and famous.

Saw a programme about a big BDSM nightclub and one girl was topless with a black tape in an X across each nipple. So now I want to do a one off comedy about a girl trying to find a man in a new town, the scene is one of overt sexuality/nightclubs.

The big joke (tanaa this is it girls) is inverted nipples. So she eventually goes to the naughty nightclub with tape across her boobs like a modesty thing, but gets talked into padding the tape out with a pair of toothpaste lids so she can pretend she has a pair of doorknobs really. Thats it. Thats the whole scenario with possible outcomes, that is going through my mind.

1. smaller tendons - hers will still be perky when her friend's are dragging down (add hand actions on dooooown)
1a. ... but firing blanks, minus warheads, insert wisecrack about topless-topless here, nipple ring jokes, heck a whole episode on piercings.
2. jealousy of black women's nipples - discussion: how its not the black men that have larger knobs than the white, but the women have huge nipples - 'I've seen a penis smaller than her left raspberry' etc
3. man feeling chest - are you wearing nipple clamps UNDER tape? kinky
4. man tweaks nipple and pulls it off (never saw that one coming did you - groan)

Shame I don't know how to write or pitch a script, isn't it. From what I've seen of the US abc channel (now inflicted here too), thats enough of a premise to build a six part series. Ellen meets Cybill meets Will & Grace?

Yeah, right.

06 September 2005

Today I learned:

that the boss was stressed and depressed yesterday

that the boss would have been stressed and depressed today but the contractors had promised her agency staff to do the washing up etc. It didn't arrive, but by then it was too late to work up a good head of outrage

that lunchbreaks do happen but are flexible - you get your time one way or another, just maybe not always on the right day

that 'healthy eating' means no chips

that a school sausage sandwich contains five eighths of a sausage as they are cut not in half but into sort of julienne strips

that serving and doing the till on the snacks end of the menu (drinks, cakes, sandwiches)isn't as scary as I expected; it seems I forgot that children can be incredibly polite when their stomachs are involved

that I can butter, fill, wrap, label and price up four loaves of sandwiches and twenty baguettes in under two hours

that nobody threw up or complained when they ate them

that tomorrow I need to know what fillings go with what and snap to it a bit, as there will be twice as many to do.


I am certain that your good wishes have a lot to do with this; I don't think I am out of the woods yet, but am still alive so far. Thank you.

I need a bath. I'm just trying to knock back enough coffee first, to try and guarantee that I won't fall asleep in the tub.

Glub,...glub, glub, blurble...............

05 September 2005


Do pop over and say hello to my dear friend Steve at Wittering Heights.

He tries. He tries hard. I can imagine his darling little brow furrowing in effort.

And I'm sure he left a T out of the title, bless him.


Scarier Than That

Back early.

I have rearranged my life to get to work for 9am, based on the information given at interview. The kids start school across town at ten minutes to 9, so I am accumulating favours I now owe people, in order to sort this out. Thanks to help from the wonderful secretary at their school, I can drop them off at 8.30 am, so it was going to be a sprint to get to my own work, but do-able.

What the guy who interviewd me and gave me the job neglected to say is:
  • You are not allowed to wear your uniform to work, you have to change when you get there and change to leave.
  • The black shoes you simply have to have and pay for out of your own pocket are another item that cannot be worn outside of the kitchen - no wearing them home.
  • You need a good twenty minutes to mill past two or three other girls in a locker room the size of a shoe box, to get changed. Trousers, T-shirt, pinny, it's a full strip & swap.
  • 9am start means 9am changed and out in the kitchen, not 9am through the door, so I am screwed. I need to owe favours all over the place AND catch a taxi (no payphones or taxi rank near school, so it needs to be pre-ordered.) Thats at least one hour's wages knocked off the total, every day.
  • The hours might technically include half an hour unpaid, for lunch, but I am now told that no-one has time to stop, so it doesnt happen, I guess you are just expected to give half an hour for free.
  • Because the break doesn't happen, the 'meal provided' doesn't happen either.
  • He never got round to telling the supervisor that he had employed me, so she didnt know who I was.
  • We are understaffed anyway at a full compliment of four, and currently down 25% on that because someone quit and he couldn't find another newbie to take on. The supervisor is trying to get me swapped with someone at the other site because they have enough trained people to cope and she hasnt got time to train me herself, if she and the one other regular (who wants to cut her hours) are going to be doing the work of four. If this happens, then without a car it will add another half hour/more taxi money to my journeys to and from work.
  • There were no deliveries today, so no sandwich fillings etc could be made up for tomorrow when school starts back and it will be a double work day. At least we got away 1 1/2 hours early today, because of that, but tomorrow will involve three people doing in 5 1/2 hours what, even with a 'streamlined' staff, should take four people 7 hours.
  • The new headmistress prefers another catering firm for teacher training days etc so today we scrubbed down the kitchens, boil washed tea towels and removed six weeks of dust, plus.
  • The strongest cleaner used in the kitchen is industrial washing up liquid, applied to a plastic scourer or a scrub bud. I'll work out how many scratches there are on my right hand when it stops feeling spongy.
  • You have to change pinnies and wear a hat when serving and there are three separate serving sessions between 10am and 2pm. For kitchen work we have plain blue pinnies, for serving we have to wear ones with a huge harlequin pattern like an outsize circus clown.
  • In between the child and adult break times and the full on lunch sitting, we not only have to keep cooking for today and keep prepping for tomorrow, but also nip out round the canteen, disinfect all the tables and sweep the floor. It can't be done during sittings as we don't have the staff.
What the bleep am I doing? Keeping my eye on plans and goals, but they might have to be carved into the back of my hand by the end of this week.

I need this work, I want to get fit again and I have specific plans for the money that involve having a known minimum coming in to the house every month for a period of time, however tomorrow I fully expect to be sworn at. All I will be able to do is sympathise and not take it personally - there would be a lot more trouble if there were only the two of them, two very nice, if stressed, women.

Tomorrow we have the youngest year of pupils in, as start dates are staggered, but it will increase on Wednesday and be full blast by Thursday.

Never mind wishing me luck anymore, but if you wanted to PRAY for me.............

04 September 2005

Scary Transition

Today is the last day of a wonderful chapter in my life, one with time on my hands. Thank God for the internet or I would have gone even more bonkers than I already have.

I filled all that time with, among other things, being a member and then moderator in the forum at Homeworking.com - a fantastic resource for anyone who earns their living (or even a part of it) off their own bat, being full of funny, friendly, intelligent people all in the same boat. A goldmine for answers, advice and good ideas. My work there continues, so I aim to spend maybe an hour a night checking in and catching up.

I joined FanStory.com, a place to spew out attempts at creative writing or poetry, scripts or short stories or whole books, and I grew. In the beginning I gave every review equal merit; gradually noticing that there were different styles, and different groups of adherents, so I learned to watch for and value honest, critical and expert feedback from people I admired, like Poetboyomaha, who also has a blog, or Marillion. I may not have found my own style, but I made strides toward that, simply by working out what it wasn't.

I did try to get the hang of free style poetry. I can't do it, at least not until I can exorcise James T Kirk from my head
because he puts gaps and
in all the wrong

Nowadays I only go in there at the weekend to read the weekly half chapter of RazberryBullet's book, Wind Age, Wolf Age. I am on a promise for a signed copy when it gets published - I know it eventually will. I sometimes keep an eye on a few others like Lady Rae, a very young poet who is going to go far, if she allows it. I don't see myself finding a chance to post my own efforts there any more, but I haven't done that for a while now, anyway.

To an extent, life already reclaimed me during this time. I have steadily woken up to a subtly festering home, a thickening waistline, guilt that I had happily allowed my regular flow of home work to dry up to an occasional trickle, plus paperwork up to my ears for things like Lewis' ongoing Special Needs assessment. But I never stopped blogging.

You can tell when my mind is up to speed and I have time on my hands, because I end up, perhaps annoyingly, posting two or three times in one day. There have been days when time was even more freely available, but my head, or the sensation that I could communicate anything more than poor-me-itis or I'm-bored-isms, was not.

So anyway, now I have gone and got a job. Not a proper job, but a gold dust job, one that only runs term times and fits in between taking my own children to and from school. No childminders, no juggling, no guilt.

Tomorrow (scary) I begin to be paid for doing aerobics, I begin to regain a little fitness and earn money at it too. I am off to be a school dinner lady.

Quite what this will do to my energy levels is probably predictable - they will slump at first, I suspect, before increasing as I become healthier and settled in the job. What it will do to my available time is anybody's guess. I know I am the gumboots type, I function best under stress (but not too much stress!) - perhaps its better to say I am more productive when I have deadlines, when I have to juggle things. I may well become a better mother, housewife and blogger (and home worker - that, too, continues) when there is less time to be them in. (That's always providing I ever get over going five and a half hours without a cigarrette, not a situation I have had to face for six or seven years. That's possibly the most terrifying part.)

But I won't know until I get there.

So this is a heads up. If you come across my blog either with this post at the top far too long, or alternatively displaying something akin to "Gurgle, aargh" or looking like the same IQ could have composed either, then hang on, I'll be only in readjustment zombie mode, for however long that takes.

Off to re-iron the washed and packed school uniform, bath kids and trim hair, find school letters and school bags and plimsoles. But you know me, if theres even two minutes spare, I'll be back.

Wish me luck!

Free Association 135

LunaNina's latest list
  1. Julie:: I knew a Julie, she was hard work, a bit of an energy vampire; she had a superiority complex so always felt picked on, for correcting people.
  2. Emotional:: Alive
  3. Head of household:: Victorian tosh
  4. Diva:: Starz. Not as bad as Bratz (aka Chavz), but still dolls for little girls to teach them to be fashion conscious, heavily made up and self involved. Yuck.
  5. Devastation:: New Orleans
  6. Business or pleasure:: Customs & Excise
  7. Crown:: jewels - gosh how creative of me; not.
  8. Eastern:: exotic, spicy
  9. Buzzed:: stoned?
  10. Officer:: Copper (policeman)
Yay I did it, now I can pretend I have a routine, hahahahaha.

03 September 2005

ID Cards

I was going to call this post 'Brilliant!', but, no.

Plenty of sites have sprung up to protest or ridicule the concept of ID cards. Easily lost, easily copied, hugely expensive if official, and linked to a Government system already known for its loopholes (such as listing more live National Insurance numbers than people of working age).

This one, 'SocialScrutiny.org, is a doozy. I love it.

If you have EVER filled in a claim form for anything, you simply have to see these:

The National ID Card Application form - About You
Its predecessor, the claim form for surveillance benefit.

Please read the questions very carefully. This might be a parallel universe, but only just!

(P.S. If you prefer World/US politics, try this instead.)

02 September 2005

The Mystery of ME Strauss

Occasionally I blog bloggers. This is an occasion.

ME Strauss scares me, in the nicest possible way. Perhaps 'challenges' is a better word.

Let me explain.

Lets say, for arguments sake, you are a four year old on a tricycle, trundling and rattling your way up the pavement where you live. Life is fun and fun goes on forever, which is at least from here until tea time. You get to play with the other kids; no introductions, you just bounce on in there. Theres a single nice eight year old that lives there too and for whatever reason they decide they like you enough to play. They make you their friend.

Most four year olds see the world pretty clearly in a black and white sort of fashion. People are nice, or not. They are friends, or not. No prejudice or preconceived notions come into the equation, everything is face value, so at first glance this offer of play is accepted just as if it had come from another preschooler.

At the back of my particular four year old brain, however, is an ego that wants to be a big kid; can't wait to be grown up, spends most days play-pretending that I am, already. Four, remember? Wendy houses were made for me. I'm at that stage where I like to think I have it all pretty well sussed and see if I can fool others as well as I want to fool myself. A big girl.

That ego is the bit that is now dizzied by this acquaintance. First it saw that she was quite a lot taller than me, then that she rides a shiny bicycle with no trainer wheels, and wears big-girl clothes; then that she knows lots of stuff, and is clever and amazing and streetwise beyond my understanding. The next question, addressed to myself, was, 'why talk to me, then?'

When I am big (or now, please, if possible)I want to be cheered on for what I have to write, I want the applause and the feedback, not to mention the incredible satisfaction of being able to dip in to my own heart or humour and paint a picture that reaches others in the same way. I want to be published and respected and paid for all this. I am going to be a genius when I grow up.

Another thing about being four is that when it comes to growing up, well, it feels like you have all the time in the world. There are more important things to happen first, like bedtime cocoa and a story and catching next door's cat.

ME Strauss is blatantly there already. Its as obvious as being twice my height and three times as clever. I suddenly feel inadequate and have to face the truth that I am nowhere near as close to growing up as I had so stubbornly imagined. Next to her blogs, my best efforts at poetical or deep thought seem bumbling and amateur. Lets face it, she can even colour in without going over the lines.

Dear ME - if I forget to accept your kindness at face value, if I overmap it with my urge to be grown up too; if you should see me pumping my little tricycle pedals as fast as I can, going red in the face and becoming flustered, please know that its only a clumsy effort to keep up and I hope you will take it as a compliment, however silly it makes me look.

Katrina and New Orleans

Here are some of the concerns and opinions I have heard voiced here in my own tiny corner of the UK, since Katrina decimated New Orleans.

I didn't say them, I am just blogging them.
  1. Neighbouring states are being asked to take refugees and are saying no, they've got no room. They can't even look after their own, the bastards.
  2. There was no organisation, the Government knew what was coming but left people to suit themselves.
  3. What the hell kind of country warns its people to get the hell out but doesnt send in the army to help the weak, those with nowhere to go or no way to get there
  4. America wants to sort out all the worlds problems but its too disorganised to help its own people
  5. This is racist and elitist, if New York had been hit, there would have been money put into the evacuation - and the clear up would be going three times as fast
  6. Who the hell builds a brick house on the sand
  7. They can get food and water to Iraq faster than this
  8. They can set up a refugee camp with medicine and water quicker than this in another country.
Me, I'm lost, I only know what I see on the news. I can only say that if any of the above are true, it sucks, and someone somewhere ought to be having trouble sleeping nights, in their comfy, safe bed.

Any comments or thoughts?

01 September 2005

Revenge and a Meme

Steve at Wittering Heights (Gawd bless 'is cotton socks) used to tease me mercilessly for being Cockney.

I believe he even called me a Cockney sparrow (or sparra, in the vernacular), which could have several connotations.

Yes I originate from London. No, I do not sound like any of the characters in an episode of Eastenders, no nor am I 'a sparra', meaning someone who wears the sparrow tattoo (normally on the back of the hand) to proudly proclaim that they have served time at Her Majesty's Pleasure, ie 'done bird'.

Many moons ago (when all this was green fields and Churchill was a lad) Steve and I were the bad kids at the back of a particular chatroom. We did mean nasty things like telling people that I was a medium with a Red Indian Spirit Guide called No-Eye-Deer, then wetting ourselves laughing if they failed to get it or even took us seriously. It may well have been Steve who decided to elaborate that No-Eye-Deer had been born blind and was a respected holy man and shaman.

I could kick myself that we missed the chance to crack jokes about hind sight or passing the buck.

Why am I dobbing him in? Two reasons borne of one - he has tagged me for a meme, so this is :

a) revenge
b) a reminder that we get on well enough in cyberspace, irrespective of how much our meme answers differ or how vacuous and seemingly flighty mine may be; and thats good enough for me.

Seven things I plan to do before I die

I have to tweak this, because I guess my philosophy is to dream plenty, aim for as much, but plan nothing. Nothing is set in stone, least of all the future. So, seven things I quite fancy doing before I die (which conveniently eliminates the constraints of likelihood):
  1. Ban: sugar pink, hairspray, tight skirts, stilleto shoes, tights and breast implants. If people have a thing for submissive physical bondage, there are cellars for that.
  2. Write a series of self-help books on seeing things my way, because, hey, that IS the answer
  3. Be outrageous, and famous for it
  4. Turn society upside down - it needs it
  5. Learn to play the saxophone really well
  6. (Good grief I'm struggling already) - BAN to-do lists
  7. Ban the words should, ought and must.
Seven things I can do:
  1. Cross only one eye
  2. make my knees and knuckles crack
  3. bobbin lace (don't ask)
  4. touch my head with my toes
  5. kiss my own feet
  6. fold a shirt properly (not down the middle) in four seconds
  7. multitask
Seven things I can't do
  1. Pee standing up
  2. swim a mile
  3. play the saxophone
  4. tolerate selfishness
  5. make pastry
  6. the splits
  7. sit doing nothing; that drives me nuts
Seven things I find really attractive about the opposite sex
  1. Wit
  2. Intelligence
  3. Stamina
  4. Eyes
  5. Thighs
  6. Imagination
  7. Distance
Seven things I say the most
  1. Brilliant
  2. Bugger this
  3. Ferfuckssake
  4. Because I'm mean and nasty and I said so (to the kids)
  5. Love you (also to kids)
  6. Sure you can have that, you got the money? (ditto)
  7. Do what?
Seven books I love
  1. All antiquarian advice books (medical, household etc) that advocate bizarre or dangerous cures
  2. Every Terry Pratchett book ever, including his collaboration with Neil Gaiman, Good Omens. If reading that one for the first time, avoid public places, unless laughing out loud is acceptable.
  3. The multitudinous books of and associated with the inappropriately named Dune Trilogy
  4. The whole series of The Amtrak Wars, very sad and seventies, but a good yarn
  5. Everything by John Wyndham
  6. The Artemis Fowl books
  7. The Orlando the Marmalade Cat books
  8. The Eight. Ok thats eight selections, but I already cheated by choosing series. Katherine Neville's The Eight is a cult classic. The most detailed, clever book ever. No one else could take so much intricate historical fact and use it to support and endorse a fantasy situation.
Everybody on my links list and everyone who comments here. This is because I hate cornering people and I hate having to choose. I am also lousy at remembering who I tagged last time and whether or not they were happy about it.
If you are reading this, consider yourself tagged, but please let me know, so I can read your answers!


Got this by email, couldn't resist.

Manchester Utd Shirt £50

PC with Webcam and internet £600

Getting caught by your dad, giving someone an eye full, priceless.........


FOR INFO: I traced this back to the hosting company, which is French. I BELIEVE it says nothing can be uploaded there unless the person has full rights to publicise it. If anyone speaks good French - could you double check for me? Just in case the girl now wants to murder the guy she flashed.....................