31 October 2005

Deer Teecher

Real parental excuse letters. Apparently.

"My son is under a doctor's care and should not take P.E. today. Please execute him."

"Please excuse Lisa for being absent. She was sick, and I had her shot."

"Dear School: Please ekscuse John being absent on Jan. 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, and also 33."

"Please excuse Gloria from Jim today. She is administrating."

"Please excuse Roland from P.E. for a few days. Yesterday he fell out of a tree and misplaced his hip."

"John has been absent because he had two teeth taken out of his face."

"Carlos was absent yesterday because he was playing football. He was hurt in the growing part."

"Megan could not come to school today because she has been bothered by very close veins."

"Chris will not be in school cus he has an acre in his side."

"Please excuse Ray Friday from school. He has very loose vowels."

"Please excuse Tommy for being absent yesterday. He had diarrhea, and his boots leak."

"Irving was absent yesterday because he missed his bust."

"Please excuse Jimmy for being. It was his father's fault."

"Please excuse Jennifer for missing school yesterday. We forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch, and when we found it Monday, we thought it was Sunday."

"Sally won't be in school a week from Friday. We have to attend her funeral."

"My daughter was absent yesterday because she was tired. She spent a weekend with the Marines."

"Please excuse Jason for being absent yesterday. He had a cold and could not breed well."

"Please excuse Mary for being absent yesterday. She was in bed with gramps."

"Gloria was absent yesterday as she was having a gangover."

"Please excuse Burma, she has been sick and under the doctor."

"Maryann was absent December 11-16, because she had a fever, sore throat, headache, and upset stomach. Her sister was also sick, fever, and sore throat, her brother had a low grade fever and ached all over. I wasn't the best either, sore throat and fever. There must be something going around, her father even got hot last night."

Why A Weekend With Michele Is Good For Your Blog

Do you belong to any blogsurfing sites?

Do you sit there, clicking through other people's blogs at 20 or 30 seconds per screen, just to get others to visit you the same way?

Visitor numbers are all very well, but wouldn't you like to increase reader numbers, instead?

Lets face it - you have to have a pretty snappy, professional blog to attract someone's eye and pull them in to read, when they are just surfing through.

This is where Michele comes in.

Every weekend, Michele hosts a weekend Meet And Greet and the concept is beautifully simple. You comment on that post and visit the commenter before you. The rules are that you comment there also, leaving at least a "Hello, Michele sent me". You can go back in and play again as many times as you like, over the whole weekend.

The thing is, if that's all you do, or rather all you say; if you fail to enter into the spirit of the thing and actually make a comment that proves you read the post, then you may not find so many people willing to reciprocate next time they see your name on the list and you almost certainly won't find them making a courtesy return visit to thank you for the comment.

Yes, OK, at its most basic, you read someones blog and someone else reads yours, but the operative word is read. No flicking past, no watching the counter drop to zero; they actually read a whole post and comment on it.

Sometimes they like what they find. Then they come back.

And thats priceless.

30 October 2005

Times They Are A Changing

A while back I blogged about a guilty memory of totally humiliating a nice, shy, intelligent, funny, then fairly short Jewish lad.

Since then I have managed to briefly reach 'the Johnson', boyfriend during said distant moment in time, who corrected a few little misunderstandings. The young man in question was apparently not Pete Townshend's cousin, but his little brother, Simon. Well, unless there are two Simons in the same generation of the same family, in which case, heck, I already put both feet in my mouth, I may as well wiggle them around too.

I went and found a few photos of him on the net, specifically a couple of Duran Duran style Eighties ones - poor guy, the "I've been working down a coal mine but my hair is still great" kind, in which he has obviously inherited the family neck, which is designer smudged just like his face and everything else thats showing, in direct contrast to the super-white saggy T-shirt. I won't link, that would be too, too cruel.*

Anyhow, being determined to try and wrap my head round the blog that is big brother Pete's book, I surfed back over there and found the MP3 download of his new Track, In The Ether.

When I told Simon I had never thought much of The Who, I wasn't fibbing and in fact that opinion never changed during the subsequent !"%!&*£% years, but hey, you're never too late to learn something, so I downloaded.

I did not leave a comment. If I had, oh dear, my honest remark would have been along the lines of 'You jammy sod.' I mean the man has talent but not, at least these days, what you could call a singing voice. Good for him, that he can sound like he just lost a fight and still make money/collect worship. Sorry, its personal opinion, but to my mind we are talking sore throat, maybe flu. Honestly.

Judging by all the super-effusive and worshipful comments his blog receives, there are a great number of people who completely disagree with me. All power to them; just don't tell them where I am, please. Sycophants who see their God disrespected can be fairly predictably nasty.

Not so much nasty as bizarre, is this; as I searched for a suitable photo to tart up this post I found that Simon Townshend not only ended up selling out (by his own standards at age eighteen) and becoming a band member for The Who, but has also now started a blog. Refreshingly its a freebie blogspot and not some flash-git all-singin'-and-a-dancin' superstar production, which does suggest that he's still human, although he mentions wearing pyjamas for something called In The Attic, a telly programme for the US. I couldnt find any links on Google, so do educate me, if you've ever heard of it. Gosh what jolly fun these rock gods have.

Yes, I know I just linked, but seeing as I am a mere, insignificant pleb and the site seems very popular, I can't for a second imagine that anyone will backtrack, or if they do, they won't read, so I'm safe.

Who would want to find the blog of a once vacuous, self involved teenage girl, who recalls their acnied school years or the shit time they had with snobs and bullies? Or if they found it, who would mention?

If I had one wish, it would be nice to know what happened to Taylor-Grey, and if he ever grew out of his obsession with goats.

* Ahh, sod it, and sod cruel. All press is good press, yes? Here you go!

Schoolbook Funnies

Found this list. Laughed so hard.
Then fought my husband (a new and obsessively prolific blogger) over who was going to post it.

We compromised. Here's half; the rest is over at Wulfweard.

  • In some rocks we find the fossil footprints of fishes.
  • Many dead animals of the past changed to fossils while others preferred to be oil.
  • All animals were here before mankind. The animals lived peacefully until mankind came along and made roads, houses, hotels and condoms.
  • Sir Isaac Newton invented gravity.
  • The law of gravity says no fair jumping up without coming back down.
  • Galileo showed that the earth was round and not vice versa. He dropped his balls to prove gravity.
  • Mare Curie did her research at the Sore Buns Institute in France.
  • Men are mammals and women are femammals.
  • Proteins are composed of a mean old acid.
  • The largest mammals are to be found in the sea because there is nowhere else to put them.
  • Involuntary muscles are not as willing as voluntary ones.
  • Methane, a greenhouse gas, comes from the burning of trees and cows.
  • Water is melted steam.
  • Mushrooms always grow in damp places and so they look like umbrellas.
  • A monkey has a reprehensible tail.
  • Some people say we condescended from the apes.
  • The leopard has black spots which look like round soars on its body.
  • Those who catch soars get leprosy.
  • A cuckoo does not lay its own eggs.
  • To remove air from a flask, fill the flask with water, tip the water out and put the cork in, quick.
  • Cadavers are dead bodies that have donated themselves to science. This procedure is called gross anatomy.
  • The cause of dew is through the earth revolving on its own axis and perspiring freely.
  • Hot lather comes from volcanoes, when it cools it turns into rocks.
  • A liter is a nest of young baby animals.
  • The earth makes a resolution every 24 hours.
  • Parallel lines never meet unless you bend one or both of them.
  • Algebra was the wife of Euclid.
  • A circle is a figure with no corners and only one side.
  • A right angle is 90 degrees Farenhight.
  • Genetics explains why you look like your father and if you don't, why you should.
  • A supersaturated solution is one that holds more than it can hold.
  • The pistol of a flower is its only protection against insects.
  • Respiration is composed of two acts, first inspiration, then expectoration.
  • An example of animal breeding is the farmer who mated a bull that gave a great deal of milk with a bull with good meat.
  • The hydra gets its food by descending upon its prey and pushing it into its mouth with its testicles.
  • If conditions are not favorable, bacteria go into a period of adolescence.
  • When oxygen is combined with anything, heat is given off. This is known as constipation.
  • The hookworm larva enters the body through the soul.
  • As the rain forests in the Amazon are shrinking, so are the Indians.
  • A major discovery was made by Mary Leaky, who found a circle of rocks that broke wind.
  • The skeleton is what is left after the insides have been taken out and the outsides have been taken off. The purpose of the skeleton is something to hitch meat to.
  • You can listen to thunder after lightning and tell how close you came to getting hit. If you don't hear it, you got hit so never mind.
  • 29 October 2005

    My Kind Of Quiz

    You Are Scary

    You even scare scary people sometimes!



    If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it - does it make a sound?
    If a man speaks and no woman hears him - is he still wrong?


    I've been surfing on Blogexplosion this morning. Its not something I do much these days, but thats precisely why it was overdue.

    It does me good, once in a while, to broaden my horizons, to risk being offended or bored for the chance of finding a fresh new opinion out there, a challenging difference of opinion, even another blog of the sort that I already value over and above the ones to be found by trawling the links on my established friends' sites. A change of routine.

    I found this site - eBBC, run by Jeremy Young a.k.a. eeore and the current top post, Dealing with the Stoopid, fascinated me.

    I don't mean the information that he is a scriptwriter, nor that he is working on a particular project or anything like that - no, it was the subject and the plot twist he had chosen for his latest work.

    Jeremy is writing a script/story (is it a comedy? He doesnt say) about a guilt-ridden transvestite who is caught out by his partner and to cover his shame convinces her that he is a rapist.

    Ladies - wouldn't the idea that a man could lie to his partner and hide a huge side of his personality be a big enough betrayal to completely kill the relationship, no matter what the secret was? If you were to find out your husband/partner had a dark secret, what would be worse? The idea that he liked dressing in frocks and silk panties, or the idea that he could drag women off and abuse them (and presumably then steal their clothes)?

    This guy may have a handle on mens minds, even the workings of the transvestite dilemma, but really, I hope I get a few comments on this one, because I suspect Jeremy is writing himself into a corner, unless that's the last we see of the girlfriend for the rest of his play.

    You think?

    28 October 2005

    Rude Rant

    This particular post is going to go near the knuckle, which is rare for me. Blame it on Aunty Whiplash - maybe she's resurfacing.
    Consider this sentence to be a warning of potentially offensive content - definitely over 18. Don't scroll down if its not your cup of tea. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible, etc etc.

    This morning I have laughed so much that my sides hurt, courtesy of Annie who pointed me to the most bizarre blog ever. I will link to that blog by private request only because whilst I am wetting myself laughing at this guy's pitiful and conceited misconceptions, it doesn't mean I am going to correct him or humiliate him.

    Ladies - be honest. Have you ever, EVER told a man "Mmmm I want you to come", meaning that your sole desire is to see/feel him ejaculate? To see 'the master' explode with ecstacy?

    If you said yes - I reckon you're lying. Having someone reach climax because of you is very, very sexy and a turn on, if you're not turned on already; it can even be the trigger for a female climax, but only if the current action isn't doing it for you as it is. Generally, however, it means one or more of the following:
    • My ardor is failing, quick get to the end while I'm still happy!
    • Hurry up and finish dear, you are squashing my ribs/giving me friction burns/going on too long and its got boring.
    • Finish up, be happy, roll over and go to sleep, will ya?
    • You are a selfish pig who never got me wet enough to start with and your stupid dick is sandpapering my vagina and I dont want thrush.
    • I can't breathe/my back really hurts/ I have one of your chest hairs stuck in my throat and can't concentrate on getting high for love nor money. Sorry, I'm done.
    • Haha, I control you, puppy dog, and you don't even know it.
    Don't be upset guys - we love you lots - take that for granted. Otherwise we wouldnt even care if you had your fun, it'd be "Okay, thanks, five minutes was enough for me", or "You lost it with that prodding thing - what was THAT?", or "Can we just stop while I go get painkillers/run to the loo/fish round my tonsils for this bloody hair?" deadpan, in your face and with no consideration.

    Faking excitement is something we all do at one time or another, but please take it as a compliment. Think of it as consciously verbalising enthusiasm, just from the sidelines like a cheerleader. Its still genuine, its just deliberate, not the uncontrolled 'spaced out' and totally unconscious worship of your member and prowess that some apparently take it to be.

    Unless you happen to be very much larger (in physical height and build) than your lady friend, then there are a million ways we could let you down hard, trust me. We're just not that mean. Oh, and now you know the truth of it, have the decency to compliment us by doing whats asked, we appreciate it.

    This rant was brought to you courtesy of the aforementioned blog, the 'adventures' of a single father who thinks he has all the answers - hysterically funny - poor sod. Another misconception of his is to do with necks. He tried pulling the steamy eyed come-hither thing on a random woman at work. Imagine this:

    The ordinary guy you sometimes see at the coffee machine suddenly changes from passing the time of day with small talk, to staring into your eyes and refusing to unlock his gaze, then when you are flummoxed and start to wonder what the hell is going on, he drops his voice.

    The poor girl ended up with her chin down, tucked into her neck. When do you pull your chin in? Generally its a subconscious action at times of disbelief or disgust. The throat is not an erogenous zone in this context, but still a point of weakness, of vulnerability. No, Mr I'm It, A woman pulling her chin in to shield her throat is is NOT a sign of willing sexual submission, its a sign that she thinks you're a dangerous loony, or on the wrong tablets.

    One more hint for you guys, rubbing (as this unnamed blogger puts it) 'your hardness against her' is not a way to tease or thrill a woman. It just says "I'm aright, Jack." It's reminiscent of a dog off the leash - you may as well work out how to wag your tail and pant at the same time. Oh, oh dear, sorry, my oversight. Still, its insulting and tedious. It's why we call it boreplay.

    Rant done.

    Long Weekend - Clocks Go Back

    Oh, okay, so the weekend will only be one hour longer in the UK, but at this point on a Friday, the concept of an extra hour in bed this coming Monday is blissful.

    Clocks go back an hour, at midnight this Sunday 30 October.

    BST (British Standard Time) was invented in 1907 by a London Builder, 50 year old Mr William Willett who complained that in the summer the UK was in daylight in the morning while people still slept, yet almost in darkness as they returned home from work, losing the country valuable work hours.

    He suggested 20 minute jumps in timekeeping - four increments every Sunday in April and four corresponding reductions in September. He even calculated the amount of money that this would save the country, two and a half million pounds at that time, taking into account the loss of revenue to 'providers of artificial light'. He then created a pamphlet outlining his theories and circulated it to businesses and organisation, town councils and many Members of Parliament. Mr Willett had quite a passion for the subject, it seems.

    The resultant Daylight Saving Bill was put together in 1909, but the concept was ridiculed until war broke out.

    William Willett died aged 58, in 1915, but in April 1916 Daylight Saving Time was introduced in the UK as a wartime economy. Within a week or so, most countries (both allied and enemy) adopted the same strategy and although it was almost universally dropped again straight after the war, very soon many countries re-adopted it and even tried to set the clocks permanently one hour forward from pre-war timekeeping.

    In 1968 in the UK, Daylight Saving Time was renamed British Standard time and for just over four years we lived by it, constantly. The effect this had on Scottish schoolchildren, going out of the house in pitch darkness in the winter months, caused the year round BST to be abandoned in 1972, at which point the UK took up two standards - BST for the summer and the traditional GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) for the winter.

    Now I think, I seem to recall the hullaballoo in the newspapers and on TV about which standard to keep. I was 11 when the dual standard was finally adopted, but to be honest it never really sunk in and I got it mixed up with the subsequent and ongoing biennial arguments that changing the time overnight causes road accidents.

    As to living under one timeframe or the other prior to that - I completely missed it. I slept through any changes and if any fuss was made in our house, it didn't involve me.

    I do remember our senior school headmistress had an annual assembly topic on bedtime - all students should be asleep by 9pm! You need your sleep to take full advantage of your academic opportunities! Blah, blah etc. I have to wonder how few parents these days get away with tucking their under 16s (or their under 11s for that matter) in to bed before midnight.

    P.S. Feel like the clocks should have gone back already? You're right! Traditionally the jump was made on the fourth Sunday in October. I don't know how the European Commission came to have any say in this but this year and last, they decided it should be the last Sunday in October, and in 2004 and 2005 there have been five Sundays in the month. Poor Huddersfield Council.

    27 October 2005

    What a Difference a Day Makes

    Gone from being flouncy Flora to feeling more like the Oomibumbum bird.

    There are two facts I know about that particular species - one is that it can soar like an eagle but has very short legs and a tendency towards severe friction burns on landing. That fits.

    The other is that it suffers a terrible fate when the moon is in the wrong place - being consumed by an urge to fly backwards to enjoy the view, in ever faster and smaller circles, until it dissappears, pthwack, up it's own jacksy.

    Don't even bother telling me which is most relevant. At least I didn't lay an egg!


    I could have called this 'Observations of a Garage Wall'.

    This morning as my husband left for work, I went to the door, as usual, kissed him as usual, stood out on the doorstep, as usual, and then completely forgot to wave. Poor soul.

    It would have been nice if we'd made it to the door five minutes earlier, if we'd have time to stop and stare together, nonetheless, as he made his way down the hill in the half-light, I was transfixed by the sky.

    This morning at 6.30, the stars were out. Not just out, but sparkling like something from a children's book. The air was just right, the sky was still just a shade too dark to be called a blue, there wasn't a single cloud anywhere and the stars, the stars looked so fat and sparkly and near and magical, spread out perfectly, as if to allow the individual beauty of each one to really hit you, smack, right between the eyes.

    Once I remembered I was on a public street, in bare feet and an old dressing gown, I padded back indoors and sat here, at my little desk, in my little corner.

    It didn't take long for the light, or the little fluffy clouds to appear; cotton balls dressed in a sherbet pink and for a while I worried that the weather report was wrong - pink morning skies usually mean cold days. It took maybe fifteen minutes more for the world to wake up and my window became a frame for silvery skies, white blue heavens and sun-stroked clouds and plane tracks, as if the light was coming from the ground and bouncing off them with all the joy of a summer day.

    Only the white gloss paint on the garage fascia, the eaves if you like, reflected a warm pink glow. Being the sort who can quite easily be transfixed, I nestled in with my mug of coffee and watched as that glow turned slowly to gold, before matching the silver of the sky very briefly, then falling into shadow as the sun rose high.

    Now the heavens are a slightly fuzzy baby blue and speak of the best warm weather for late May; never mind that it will really be November next week. I say they speak of it, because I am still in bare feet and snuggled up indoors - certainly not baby anything, but absent minded and charmed by the morning, and decidedly fuzzy and warm.

    Have a lovely day.

    26 October 2005

    Janet Jackson And The Secret Child

    Gossip today is that Janet Jackson has a secret daughter, now aged eighteen, from her first marriage.

    Hey guys, I have four secret children! Oops, my secret's out - well big deal. I seriously doubt there will be an invasion of papparazzi on my doorstep, hounding their every move, asking them personal questions about family and making sure they have a snowball's hope in hell of a normal life.

    What exactly do the media mean by 'secret' anyway?

    If the family closed ranks, if they all joined in some huge conspiracy to give one person a childhood, a choice; if they whisked one little one away from the fantasy world that surrounded and affected her Uncle Michael so severely, well then Hallelujah for that. Good for them and good for Janet, it must have been tough.

    We all grew up as secret children, if secret means free to enjoy privacy, free to feel equal.

    Of course there is always the possibility that the 'shock headlines' are being encouraged; that the family has endorsed the release of this information. It could be that, now she's 18, Miss Mini-Jackson fancies taking her own stab at stardom and that the family has engineered her grand entrance. I actually hope thats it - otherwise any plans she had for university or even for starting work at the local supermarket are pretty well scuppered, poor kid. Always assuming she really exists and isn't just another form of exposed breast.

    Wouldn't that just speak volumes to the family mindset - exposing physical private parts doesn't renew the career or engender sympathy - lets try exposing something else. Dear God, no.

    Time will tell.

    25 October 2005


    And botheration, and blast.

    The Man On The Clapham Ambulance has just posted his most delightfully twisted and unnerving chapter so far.

    I wanted to comment. I couldn't simply put "You swine!" - he would have taken the point, that I was berating him for a rollercoster ride with a brilliant twist (another type of ride actually, but you'll have to read it,) however others might have felt that I had believed the tale. No, eventually I settled on another one-liner - "Most disturbed." People could take that in any way they liked, whether they were inclined to believe his story or not.

    Words prepared, I went to leave a comment.............. and found that he no longer accepts any! Oh No! The email address is no longer linked, although easy enough for anyone (human) to decipher, so I have to assume he fell foul of bots and spammers.

    One really pleasing development - the posts are individually copyrighted which means that the delightful book that his blog really ought to become, may actually be edging into possibility or even reality.

    I do hope so. I believe I baggsied a signed copy, aeons ago.

    Here's that link again, because I know you are lovely and stayed to the end of my post.

    Please Please Please!

    A couple of days ago I joined BlogTopSites, a place that rates blogs on the number of visits and pageloads.

    Once every so often they re-set the counters, which is wonderful, because if a blog stops attracting people (or just plain stops) then it doesn't sit up at the top of the list, waiting to have its stats overtaken.

    We are a couple of hours into day one of a new cycle - there are 1,266 blogs registered as Personal, and just now I am at No 86 in the rankings!


    I have no idea how long that will last, I doubt very long at all, because my UK hits come early in the US day - we are five hours ahead. I also know, comparing myself to others that I already link to, on other measuring systems, that my success has to be due in no small part to the limited number of blogs registered so far.

    So what, its a gold star, a house point, and I like them!

    Anyhoo - I thoroughly recommend joining - but if that's not your cup of tea then you could always just click on the button in my sidebar (looks like this:) and rate my blog? You could, couldn't you? Tell me in the comments if you do, and I will come over to your blog and sing your praises. Honest.

    I'm having a 'tickled pink' moment.

    Requested Plug

    I don't know what it is about me and Annies (or Carolines; or Jens it seems, recently.)

    Some names call up a stereotype, usually from childhood experience. Vicky, for example makes me think of an ultra butch and defensive-aggressive girl I once knew. She had perfect, sleek hair in a perfect fringe (bangs?) and a perfect long, glossy ponytail - the ends were always exactly matched, straight lines everywhere, and I was in admiration of her hair. The face that stuck out from under it, however, was hard and untrusting, bitter and scathing, offhand and derogatory - at ten years old. Perhaps she had a particularly nasty childhood, but I still always think of Vickys as being a bit hard.

    Annies and Carolines never factored in my junior years at all, even at Seniors I had mere brushes with such names - no wonderful or torturous experiences that would prejudice me for or against either moniker.

    I've been adding up the Annies and Carolines in my life at the moment. There are several! All individuals, all good friends, almost all of which became friends online, originally under assumed names. I liked them before I knew what they were really called. Odd, huh?

    One of the Annies is particularly odd. She has an extremely raunchy sense of humour, is another of my psychic/medium friends (yes I collect them too and in the same way - like first, find out after) and is also very technical and logical and good at IT stuff; she makes designing web pages sound like making a birthday cake on the kitchen table.

    It doesn't seem right does it, her three main facets are such disparate traits that I wouldn't ever think of them combining into a single person.

    To get to the point, she's started a blog, all though God alone knows what she'll do with it, and I don't mean that in a blasphemous way at all, I just mean it.

    I honestly have no idea whether she will dispense raucous sex talk, high level hints on coding; HTML, XHTML, content management systems like XOOPS, PHP modules (and Annies definition of PHP is 'Its just HTML wrapped up a particular way'), or whether she will show her expertise at astrology, tarot and general chats with dead people. Possibly even all three, at once. Or something else entirely.

    Who knows. The only thing I know is it's gonna be a ride, so, sorry to keep asking you to do this, but please, if you get a second, pop over to her brand new blog and say hi? The poor girl seems to think I am popular and that asking me for a plug will get her loads of initial traffic, so if you have a moment to comment there, you could set her straight..........

    Free Association 142

    I haven't played LunaNina's word association game for ages - mostly because Steve over at Wittering Heights normally beats me to it and I love his answers so much that I can't think of any of my own.

    Strangely he has dissappeared this week, not seen him around for a bit and I hope all is OK. Hurry back, Steve!

    So, its been a while, its also the middle of school half term holidays which is guaranteed to change the consistency of my brain from that of scrambled egg to fried, so here goes:

    1. Infiltration:: percolator. No, seriously, you put the coffee into the water via a filter, or vice versa, then its infiltrated.I think. I just have to work out which infiltrated which.
    2. Nice person:: Death by faint praise.
    3. Debt:: Onus, obligation, sword of Damacles, two steps back. Bad stuff. Usual.
    4. Settle down:: Stagnate. This involves visible widening of the hips on a woman and the gut on a man. Stop playing, vegetate, stop looking up and look down instead. I prefer the concept of moving forward with a purpose.
    5. Thomas:: Aquinas. In a time where joining the priesthood meant signing up for a good job and an education (private school) he met radical thought at university and ran off to join a new religious breakaway cult, the Dominicans, so he could do things like reassess scientific and philosophical principles and rave about Aristotle. Mummy and Daddy were very upset. They had shipped him out to Naples Uni and then he gets all these ideas and joins an order that turns its back on material success and espouses poverty. Bet they were pissed. Kids, eh?
    6. Unforgivable:: What is forgiving? If its not exacting punishment, but leaving that to God, then nothing is humanly unforgiveable. Get made better, let Teacher sort it, go play with the nicer kids, and keep out of Johnny's way. That I can do - just. If its being able to drop the knot in the gut, the fear or the anger (which generally holds the act, rather than the person who made it, as primary) then I need to think. These things can go and then get triggered again, but thats called self preservation, not lack of forgiveness. Isn't it? Oh, help.
    7. Medicine:: A weird word for me. In the past I have had to explain drugs to very young kids as 'naughty medicine'. Naughty medicine makes a person feel lots better, but then its naughty because it makes them feel lots worse and be mean, after.
    8. A year from now:: F*ck knows.
    9. Neighbors:: Spelt like that it makes me think of the Aussie TV show. Which I don't watch (is it still on?)
    10. Dripping:: Two answers. England is dripping, we are saturated this week There is not a thing to touch outdoors that is not sodden, soaked, slithery; even upright plastics when the rain has paused. All is coated and steeped. Beef dripping (yuck, refined meat fats) on toast.

    24 October 2005


    NaNoWriMo is round again!

    If you have never heard of it, it means National Novel Writing Month, now a misnomer as the US based initiative requires English language, I believe, but thats about it.

    The concept is beautiful in it's simplicity - you join the website, then, along with a myriad other writers and would-be-writers, you forsake any concept of quality and simply concentrate on writing 50,000 words in thirty days - 01 to 30 November.

    At the end, if you succeed, you have a small (roughly 175 page) novel, ready for tidying up.

    Bye-bye writer's block. Bye-bye angst over wording and editing and all those eventually necessary steps that can also serve as brilliant excuses for never getting past the first paragraph. Just write. Worry about the other stuff after.

    If you are the sort who always fancied writing a book, but never started for fear of all the rules, or of producing something less than perfect, then this is for you.

    50,000 words in a month. Just to say you can.

    Coming to play?

    Oops - Major Edit - This year there is a special Young Writers Program, whole school classes are signing up, and a special forum for older students who join as individuals.- See site for details.

    23 October 2005

    Sons, Husbands And Lovers

    Well one particular one of each, anyway; two mine, one not.

    Son, 10, has joined a forum for gamers. This is brilliant. For the first time I see him rush home from school and beg to check his email. Then I sit patiently through 'how do you spell....?' over and over. He wants to write. He wants to spell. He has a passion.

    Yay hurray!

    Even his school is so impressed that in his reward time before lunch and just at the end of the day, he is allowed to post to this forum of his. Its clean, well managed and it inspires him, and thats all any of us want. Even his bad spelling fits right in, there seem to be plenty of (presumably) older boys in the same boat.

    Such is his enthusiasm that another lad in his year, another of the generally less enthused pupils, has also joined and spends his reward time posting to the threads. Herein lies catch 22.

    When they both post from school, they post from the same ISP. Today he got a sharp warning from the forum moderators. He stands accused of opening multiple accounts and multiposting, because (very fairly) they figure that the same ISP means its the same person. They have penalised him (taken posting points off him) and a warning is a big step towards being banned. He is gutted.

    For the first time ever (because as you know mums, what-mums-say and what-mums-think are mortally embarrassing) he has let me take over the keyboard and send a reply, using his account name, in an effort to clear this up. Sadly it is now the half term holiday, so I can't get school to back me up or confirm their ISP for another week.

    Fingers crossed.

    Husband - has got the blogging bug! Another big Whoopee! He is over at Wulfweard The White (don't ask - his first post explains it) so please, pop over and say hi!

    Finally - I think I bullied poor dear Milt Bogs into posting about his first kiss. You have to see this, please. I challenge ANY female to read that post and not find that the first word out of her mouth is a huge soppy 'Awwwww!". No, really, its perfect, bless his cotton socks. I've gone all motherly. Thanks, Milt!

    22 October 2005

    X-Factor Shambles

    I imagine that Simco Ltd have got some answering to do.

    Was it a producer, or was it presenter Kate Thornton, who made the decision, not just to badger one of the judges (Sharon Osbourne) for a knock-out vote after she had honestly admitted the choice was beyond her, but to then go on and on about a five second limit, that never happened?

    How many times does a host have to say "I'm going to give you five seconds" before she flipping well means it?

    Who can't or won't count? Who calls that professionalism?

    I feel sorry for Sharon, she had Irishman Louis Walsh nagging at her, unbridled by protocol or rules (if there are any,) to rescue his act. He even made the point that he had chosen to save Sharon's act over Simon Cowell's the week before and had already declared how Sharon had excluded his act, young Chenai, last year. That's out and out emotional blackmail.

    To my mind thats pretty rich coming from him, because from what I can see Louis is a sexist in any case - or at least he upholds sexist values (someone explain the difference to me please?) He stated clearly for the record, even whilst narrowing down his final team, that he wanted to end up with three boys and one girl - talent was secondary to gender. By that one statement he is in this to win for his own sake, and supporting new talent is secondary, it would seem, to pandering to the voting public.

    Sadly its a fact that younger women vote for fanciable boys and younger men vote for 'their own', so making a decision ahead of time to exclude any but a token female from his team, irrespective of talent, is tactical sexism, isn't it? If he really feels that way, it would seem logical to assume he expects a male to win, in other words that he is prepared to lose his female singer somewhere along the way, whatever happens.

    If this programme is supposed to be about which is the best judge and mentor, then somebody let me know. I thought it was about the X factor.

    Why can't or won't Simco control their judges? Or their hosts? Why do they allow this? What are Simco, Thames Television, Syco TV or Fremantle Media going to do about it?

    Poor little Chenai - Simon Cowell ripped her to shreds. He had a point, but there are ways and ways to say the same thing. She looked panicked, her eyes were fixed, and although she hit every note perfectly, if I hadn't already known the song I wouldn't have had a clue what the words were. She was nasal and missed just about every end letter.

    Sharon Osbourne was bullied and badgered into a decision against her wishes and I believe in the end she voted emotionally, not according to talent, although she had already stipulated very clearly that she was unable to choose.

    Louis Walsh seemingly didn't give a hoot for anything except that his stable should win through.

    All three judges were disappointing, although to give him credit, Simon Cowell managed a dignified self control during the eternal five seconds. The host, Kate, came across as a ditherer or a bully, when in fact it boils down to how the whole sorry mess was managed. No clear rules, no clear consequences, from this viewpoint - not for anyone but the acts.

    The biggest losers? 4Tune. They were really shaping up and I hope there is a queue of producers waiting to give them a recording contract.

    They were the ones who paid the price because in this programme, five seconds doesn't really mean five seconds at all, the judges are allowed to bully or cajole each other and the host is allowed/instructed to make statements that are misleading at best.

    If I was in 4Tune, I think I'd sue.

    One thing I know, after that performance, I don't care who wins. I'm not watching any more. I was looking for a talent contest not a schoolyard scrap.

    Getting Married

    The following was in an email sent to my husband. I did think about sending it quietly to Milt Bogs - given his wonderfully dry, funny blog, I imagine he could have woven it into the story over there very successfully.

    Tough - I suspect he's been hiding since I named him as tagged, for the first kiss meme, so here it is, as it is, just an email going round.

    A little advice to you young guys thinking about getting married.

    Back in the 60s my girlfriend and I had been dating for over a year,and so we decided to get married. There was only one little thing bothering me... it was her beautiful younger sister.

    My prospective sister-in-law was twenty-two, wore very tight skirts and short shorts, and generally walked around looking like a Hooter's waitress. She would regularly bend down when she was near me, and I always got a good show. It had to be deliberate, she never did it when she was near anyone else.

    One day the sister called and asked me to come over to check the wedding invitations. She was alone when I arrived, and whispered to me that she had feelings and desires for me that she couldn't overcome. She told me that she wanted to have sex with me just once before I got married and committed my life to her sister. Well, I was in total shock, and couldn't say a word.

    She said, "I'm going upstairs to my bedroom, and if you want one last wild fling, just come up and get me." I was stunned and frozen in shock as I watched her go up the stairs. When she reached the top she pulled off her panties and threw them down the stairs at me. I stood there for a moment, then turned and made a beeline straight to the front door. I opened the door, and headed straight towards my car.

    Lo and behold, my entire future family was standing outside, all clapping! With tears in his eyes, my father-in-law hugged me and said, "We are very happy that you have passed our little test. We couldn't ask for a better man for our daughter. Welcome to the family."

    And the moral of this story is: Always keep your condoms in your car.

    Collective Nouns

    My poor (new) friend Barnze. Oh my gosh, his Rogan Josh has gone right through like Vindaloo. Or something.

    Owing to his defiantly punk status (and photo) I think I shall only ever refer to him in glowing terms and delicate phrases; dear boy.

    Just to pee him off, you understand.

    That said, courtesy of this nice young man (muahaha) I present you with THIS LINK to a page full of collective nouns.

    I like (but would question) many of the ones relating to groups of people, ones such as:

    A conjunction of grammarians
    A worship of writers
    A curse of painters (illusion, misbelieving)

    Still, an obstruction of dons and an ambush of widows do rather fit my sense of humour.

    21 October 2005

    What's For Dinner?

    First of all I should say that I was once upon a time accepted onto the 5 year course for a Medical Degree in Phytotherapy.

    At the time my age group fell through a funding gap - I could get support if I travelled to the college, but not (with pre-school children, as I had then) for the home study version.

    I guess this information means nothing except to underline the serious interest I had in the effects of natural foods on the human system. Phytotherapy is the posh word for herbalism, which is growing in importance in this country - staid old NHS doctors will now routinely recommend certain non-prescription supplements such as cod liver oil or probiotics, even echinacea.

    The desire, for me, grew out of my eldest son's health issues. Back in the mists of time when ADHD was a new and confusing diagnosis, 'helpful ideas' abounded, such as eliminating sugar from the diet. As it happens, a total elimination diet was suggested by our GP for other reasons and all in all it was a baptism of fire. Kelloggs cornflakes, for example, and any tin of regular baked beans contain sugar, as do most brands of peanut butter. Reintroducing pure food types one at a time meant a lot of hanging round in supermarkets reading small print and one or two habits stuck, such as restricting breakfast cereals to porridge oats and Weetabix.

    Then I met my husband, who has an all consuming interest in religion, modern and ancient, specifically tracking the movement of society through the transmission of ideas.

    The Celts, like the Essenes, had specific foods they ate religiously. When it says in Isaiah "I have prepared the ends of the Earth" we have a pet suspicion that this specifically means Cornwall, already referred to as the ends of the earth in other material, and the shore you apparently land on if you let your boat get carried along by the trade winds from the Middle East; unless you time it wrong, skim past the bottom of England and hit France instead.

    With or without that rather tenuous connection, historically worshippers of a single deity can often be found incorporating strict dietary rules into their lifestyle. I don't want to argue whether this was to induce cleanliness or longevity - I mean, what's the difference between the two? If your diet avoids various nasty but common diseases, you achieve both; you also then stand out as God's chosen, or blessed, to the uninitiated.

    For example, tapeworm, trichonosis and schistosomiasis were rife in ancient Egypt - two caught from pork, the last, which causes fatal cirrhosis, from water snails. I bet the abstaining Jews seemed Divinely protected. Perhaps they were. I imagine asthma was a beastly condition in those days without modern treatments - unless you promptly burned everything carrying mildew.

    I digress. The point of this wasn't to list things you should avoid, but foods you should embrace. Monotheistic religions do seem to encourage heavy consumption of certain foodstuffs as much as they discourage others. All that munching on unleavened bread, for example - plain whole grains full of prebiotics (which produce probiotics in the body and are anathema to yeast infections and plenty more) - bye bye all sorts of problems, as evidenced by studies into a single probiotic - here.

    No I am not being sacreligious - if you know your God at all (if you happen to believe in one) then you believe he blesses those who obey him. I don't think its like he smites the other guys, just that if you go for a hug;..... you get a hug. And a warm fuzzy feeling and a better day. Its called parenting. On the other hand if you think I am a total loony for saying that - well lets save the 'how did they know to do these things then' argument for another day.

    The funny thing is, the point of this post was originally something else entirely. Zilla asked whether we argue over what to eat, at home; but thats another story.


    I am feeling the urge to write when there is nothing to say.

    Does anyone else get that?

    I am beyond the desire to pretend that I may be witty, or inspiring - way beyond an enthusiastic temptation to just plain grumble - I feel as creative as a house brick in the rain, have nothing of any consequence whatsoever bubbling to the surface, good or bad, yet I need to write.

    Not just write, but blog.

    Is that the first sign of an empty day? Of intellectual loneliness? Or is it just that communication in this particular form, the semi-anonymous spilling of guts, is addictive?

    If that's the case - what do I see you as? Am I looking for counsellors, counterpoints, or for approval, a pat on the back?

    Maybe you are just friends. Good, honest, sugar-free friends (fineartist is far from sugar-free today, poor girl, but that's not how I meant.)

    Right, off to try and drum up enthusiasm to play hunt the kitchen tops and corners, a bit of unwelcome physical activity. What I'd rather be doing, on this wet, windy, miserable day, is blogging. Ideally shelling out sparkling wit or crystal memories; funnies or inspired reactions to other people's posts.

    Tough, huh. Maybe I need a blog 'about' something, something based on more research and less freedom. No, on second thoughts, maybe I simply need to go clean that kitchen, before the shivering garden wildlife decides it would be nicer to move right in.

    I think it's going to be an insulated sort of day.

    20 October 2005

    My First Kiss

    To satisfy Zilla I am posting about my first kiss, after a comment she left on the Pete Townshend post, below.

    To exact my revenge I am turning this into a 'one question meme' and I want to tag you all; Steve, Milt, Doris, everybody, but particularly and specifically Zilla. I will be looking out for her response!

    My first kiss was................... in a wardrobe, with a not-really cousin.

    By that I mean that my mum and his mum had been friends when they worked for the Fire Service and drove Green Goddesses and all that after the war. His dad and mine had also been friends based at Acton Fire Station. Then they all met and once wed became honorary Aunties and Uncles to each others' children. Not-Cousin was two years older than me (and I am the eldest in my family) but once a month or so we would go to theirs for Sunday tea, which at some point involved the dads relaxing and talking theories in the den, the mums setting to, creating a big spread, and us ordered upstairs, out from under feet, to play.

    There we were, crammed into the same single wardrobe, hiding from my brother, when he kissed me. It wasn't confident, but it was magical in its own way; more of a 'jump at the chance' head-butt. Arms didn't (couldn't) come in to it, not given the space, and we bumped noses and even teeth, but it didn't matter, we had made lip contact; we were big and we had a secret.

    Then when our hiding space was discovered and we went back to the business of playing, not a word was said about it; I don't think we even looked at each other.

    After that, however, my brother never minded being first to be 'it' so much, because he only had to find one of us, to find us both. We had an unspoken agreement, a monthly assignation in some cramped and dark corner of an airing cupboard or the like.

    The situation never escaped the realms of blundering, innocent practice, we knew each other too well and couldn't snap out of being childhood friends, but when, years (and a whole world of experience) later, I attended his wedding, he brought his wife over, specifically to meet me. It was more for her benefit than mine, it seems, and I bless them both. For a brief moment I was shocked out of my self image and allowed to see myself from another perspective entirely. She wanted, needed to meet me because, to my surprise, I had the honour and responsibility of being 'the other girl that he had kissed'.

    Zilla girl - your turn!
    Anyone else? Leave a comment so I can come see :-)

    19 October 2005

    Blast From The Past

    Two Stories with a link.

    Story 1

    Once upon a teenage time I found my company was desired by boys. Not just your bog standard church hall, pool playing boys, but a group from the Grammar School. Kudos to me, eh? The movers and shakers. Well the fascinatingly aloof thinkers, anyhow.

    They came from an all male school and I came from its equal opposite, but still I didn't expect 'having a boyfriend' to involve much more than, well; well I didn't expect that to involve automatic acceptance by a whole gang of them. Thinking back I guess they had come to an age where they still wanted to hang round with their mates, but that having 'a girl' in the gang added a certain credibility.

    Johnson and Taylor-Grey are the two names I remember and only because one was said boyfriend du jour (holder of hand, driver of car, payer for stuff - so innocent) and the other had a propensity for leaving graffiti all round the backstreets of Ealing, to do with goats.

    A large group of us ended up 'going out' with nowhere specific to go, until it turned out that a very nice lad (with a very nice home) was able to open his doors to us, owing to his parents being out for the night.

    It was okay, I guess. No booze (well none after the pints we had downed in the pub whilst trying to arrange where to go) and the boys were having one of those in-depth boring sit arounds that Grammar School boys have - talking A level physics, cars, guitars. Junk stuff, to an empty headed female who had been hoping to bop the night away or at least go off adventuring. I do so hate sitting still and being sensible - groups and crowds are for having fun.

    I played train announcer voices on the intercom phone in the hall half the night, and after a couple of hours we all decided to head off in search for more action - our host included.

    Like I say, I was far too self involved and new to this to imagine that dating someone should involve a spark of hot physical attraction, that was what 'fancying someone' meant and was still a year or so away and decidedly yukky. Going out with someone just meant belonging with, going back with; being a team of two. I was quite used to my so-called boyfriend getting us to and from a place but disappearing to talk shop and leaving me to it, while we were at our destination.

    Our host and I got talking on a cold walk down a long road back towards North Acton, and he was great. About my height, pretty obviously Jewish looking, very obviously thoughtful and funny and witty and considerate. A diamond.

    Part of my attractiveness (if I had any) I think, was that his home had at least one prominent photograph of a well known rock star - his older cousin, he said, and he dreaded bringing friends home, was tired of his peers only wanting to hang round with him on the off-chance of making contact with a star. When he'd made this admission, my first reaction had been 'Oh yuck, poor you, that band are such BIG HEADS!" This had obviously cheered him up, but not settled his mind, because he continued, with a sheepish grin, to say that he thought so too, but still most girls he knew thought his 'cousin' was gorgeous. "Yuck" says I, "You're kidding. His nose is like HUGE."

    Okay that was cruel, but I said it with a smile on my face and I said it to break the ice. I'd been tipped off to the connection already by a sycophantic member of the gang and was none too pleased with the inference that having possessions or famous relatives could make someone more noteworthy.

    I don't remember much of our subsequent talk as, wrapped up against the chill, we bumbled along Madeley Road or Castlebar or some such interminable residential back street, just that he was as easy to talk to as family. We laughed, we agreed, we pointed things out, we just got on so incredibly easily and well, like brothers and sisters get on before they realise its their job to torment each other. If nothing else, I would have gone on to make a very real friend, years or lifelong.

    And then we got spotted. Somehow our conversation had become too deep even for the shop-talking bores. Somebody had actually looked up and noticed that we were in animated conversation, enough to feel disgruntled about it. My name was called, and we were beginning to re-merge with the crowd of teenagers, when a couple of them pulled me to one side and asked me 'if I fancied him.'

    Fancied! That was the worlds most cringeworthy, sad-girly-with-weak-knees-and-a-tongue-on-the-floor word! I was mortified! Had I actually looked like I wasn't cool? Had I looked like I was pairing off? To cap it all my official 'boyfriend' was a step behind the group, his eyes screwed up in a deep thought sort of way, the kind of way that makes you want to stuff a pipe in the afflicted person's mouth, take a photo and put them forward for a TV show like Country Files or The Angler. I knew this was a mix of manly distance and mortal humiliation at being dumped in front of his gang. It hadn't crossed my mind to dump him; I was just making friends with someone fascinating while he was off being boring.

    My answer was instant. I am very good at taking in a lot of peripheral information quickly, thinking on my feet as it were, notwithstanding that if I do that when I also have both feet in my mouth (known to happen,) I only go round in circles. What did I say? I was a teenager in a disapproving spotlight - I lied through my teeth to seem like part of the pack, of course.

    "Oh, haha! No way. No he's nice, but I don't fancy him, iew!" I believe I even had to repeat myself, to hammer it home. Oh, hell.

    I watched my new soulmate wilt, ever so slightly. I ducked my head and started walking with the main group, but kept peering at him from the corner of my eye as he stuffed his hands in his pockets and tagged along like an outsider. I so wanted to catch his gaze, to apologise however silently, but instead spent what seemed like an age realising what a lovely bloke he was and what a stupid, loud mouthed fishwife I could be and quite how much I just blew it. If the ground had swallowed me up, I really think that on my way to be mangled I would have whispered a little thank you.

    He changed me, for sure; after that I was more careful of people's feelings, to the point that when subsequent relationships were over I manipulated things so that I never had to be blunt, or cruel. I had nightmares over that one moment. I never wanted to tread on an ego like that ever again.

    Once in a blue moon I remember him and wonder if it would ever be too late to apologise, to tell him he was adorable, at that age, anyway.

    Funny, the way little things can get to you.

    Story 2

    Blogs by famous people, at least ones who admit who they are, seem generally to be for a specific purpose. Alright, all blogs are self advertising, but when someone knows a bigger business, you expect the declaration of identity to be somehow more organised and purposeful.

    I guess what I mean by that is that tagging a famous name to your blog (even if it happens to be your famous name) can be like riding a brand name instead. It is usual, nothing more, for people like that to be offering up the persona rather than the human being behind it, so I was sceptical but eventually very, very pleased to be tipped off to THIS, Pete Townshend's blog of his very promising book.

    At the moment most of his commenters appear to be personal friends, so I shall bookmark and follow the (I admit surprisingly) excellent story that is unfolding. Fantasy, philosophy, personal vision of dark things to come; its hard to tell at this point. The premise is certainly solid and believable, which is always a good start to a book, but where it will go..........

    I did want to comment. I wanted to bluster in there and tell him to SLAP A CREATIVE COMMONS LICENCE ON IT before it gets stolen. There was one other thing I wanted to say, but I leave you to work that out. It had the words 'pass a message' and 'sorry' in it. Not really first comment material.

    That's a nice picture of you Pete, honestly; better than the miserable broody ones the promotions people used to throw about. Immeasurably nicer than the personal one I saw about 25 years ago in a West London apartment. How's your cousin?

    My Poor Soggy Kids

    The kids walk themselves to school these days. We only started this five or six weeks ago, and it still involves me seeing them across the big main road, but after that they navigate the back roads on their own.

    Son has been to visit senior schools over the last few days and I have taken him in late, after the meetings, so today it was a case of 'back to normal' with me kissing them goodbye at the crossing. He was none too pleased with that and wanted me to walk them all the way to school.

    We kissed, we hugged and they waved goodbye as they turned the next corner. I turned to go back across the main road, to home, and the skies opened.

    They've got good coats on, but no hats. I made it home looking like a drowned rat for the sake of less than five minutes walk. They, however, should be reaching the school gates at about the time I upload this.

    I hope they think its fun - my poor, soggy littluns.

    18 October 2005

    Three Things Meme

    I've been tagged by Ally!

    Just what I need; a nice chance to be all about me, me, me for a diversion.

    Three names I go by:
    1. Chez (mostly by my mother, which is odd as she's the one who poured over baby names trying to give me one that couldn't be shortened)
    2. Chell (only my husband calls me that and I love him too much to growl every time. Well, every single time, anyway.)
    3. Mum

    Three screen names I have had:
    1. Mousey Pendragon
    2. Raven
    3. Pickle

    Three physical things I like about myself:
    1. Two arms
    2. Two legs
    3. Half a brain

    Three physical things I don't like about myself:
    1. My wrinkles
    2. My seaside salt-stripped straw-like hair
    3. My stretch marks

    Three parts of my heritage:
    1. Welsh (thats mum, pure welsh)
    2. Unknown - strike up the band: "My Daddy's An Orphan From Willesden" (tra la)
    3. Unknown. There has to be black in there some way back because of the freckles, but that could be as far back as the Celtic/Coptic/Egyptian crossings.

    Three things that scare me:
    1. Lack of control
    2. Manipulation
    3. The threat of violence

    Three of my everyday essentials:
    1. Coffee
    2. Cuddles
    3. Blogging!

    Three of my favorite musical artists:
    1. Kirsty MacColl
    2. Gorillaz (blame my ten year old)
    3. Coldplay

    Three of my favorite songs:
    1. Don't Come The Cowboy With Me - Kirsty (Makes the Kelly Willis version sound like a dirge)
    2. Fix You - Coldplay
    3. The Importance Of Being Idle - Oasis

    Three things I want in a relationship:
    1. Love
    2. Honesty
    3. Trust

    Three LIES:
    1. I am completely calm and peaceful
    2. My children are a constant and unalterable source of pride
    3. I am small and delicate with big blue eyes and a vacant, helpless air, and men throw money at me and want to look after me.

    Three TRUTHS:
    1. I have paid work coming, if I can just stop blogging long enough to finish start my HTML course.
    2. I have no idea whether I miss being single, fully employed, or twenty, as the last time any of those states were true, was at the same time.
    3. Life is an adventure. When it gets too boring I tend to muck it up, just to see what will happen. This can be STUPID.

    Three physical things about the opposite sex that appeal to me:
    1. Manners
    2. Humour
    3. Intelligence

    Three of my favorite hobbies:
    1. Reading
    2. Writing
    3. Talking

    Three things I want to do really badly now:
    1. Get published
    2. Learn to sift my own total junk writing from the moderately average stuff so I stand a chance of pt 1 or at least less chance of being laughed at.
    3. Earn loads of money being a sparkling wit and insightful fairy godmother, from my chair, in front of my computer, so the other half doesnt nag me to get a proper job and we don't end up on the streets. Or divorced. Or both.

    Three careers I've considered:
    1. Quantity Surveyor (tried it)
    2. Standards Clerk (tried it)
    3. Dinner Lady (pfffft)

    Three places I want to go on vacation:
    1. Desert. No really, any desert.
    2. My mum's house
    3. The penthouse suite of a ridiculously expensive and exclusive hotel with private spa and everything on tap - in the middle of an unspecified private island. For a fortnight. On my own.

    Three kid's names I like:
    1. I have four kids - what d'you want - wars?

    Three things I want to do before I die:
    1. Stop procrastinating long enough to....
    2. Make a list of such things.
    3. Go back to procrastinating.

    Three ways that I am stereotypically a boy:
    1. I am good at logical problem solving
    2. I snigger at dirty jokes
    3. I wait it out but eventually won't back down if someone attacks me or mine, even if the odds are I will lose.

    Three ways that I am stereotypically a girl:
    1. I analyse everything to the nth degree and get a rotten complex about it, AFTER I have refused to back down.
    2. I love a good weepy movie
    3. I watch makeover shows (blush)

    Three celebrity crushes:
    1. Oh gosh. I packed my libido away. To be completed, when I've had a think.
    2. Bill Bailey
    3. Pogle

    Three people that I would like to see post this meme:
    1. Doris
    2. Fineartist
    3. Zilla

    Mourning Moggies Pt 2 (The End)

    I would have forgotten to finish this post, if not for a comment from my dear (but recently absent) friend, SheWeevil, the person who also first inspired it.

    I have just treated myself to the Writers' And Artists' Yearbook and the Writer's Handbook, as a bargain package on Amazon. If I could have afforded two of each, SheWeevil is the person I would have most wanted to gift with the second set. Her poetry, when she turns her mind to it, is eloquent and restrained, thought provoking and deep and very moving - definitely not for the masses, but more the connoisseur. Fine art, if you will.

    Anyway, back to the cats.

    Mitzie and Mungo have been described, both acquired in the late 1980s, early 1990s.

    By 2000 we had another cat, an adorable kitten that friends were trying to sell which, for lack of any particular creativity on our part, was at first called Mew because of her constant talking, but then properly named Milly.

    Milly was a tortoiseshell, a small cat, but one with an eye for a bit of fun. She trusted us implicitly, which was handy, because she had a penchant for producing litters and would leave us babysitting whilst she took her time in the back garden. It seems the most successful beau (and there were many) was a large ginger tom who magically appeared with alarming regularity, to Mungo's disabled but earnest male annoyance. More than that, a fair proportion of her female kittens were born as ginger as the boys, still very rare, with blacks and torties making up about 40%, the rest of each litter.

    Milly took to reproduction with a joyous determination and by her third litter was still so quick to look for some action that she fell before weaning the previous lot, and we could never time things to get her to the vets. The little ones were often left in the care of uncle Mungo, once they had found their legs, and he would follow them outside and play at torturing anything he could find; teaching them how to hunt. He began bringing small birds and field mice into the house - mostly half alive and in the middle of the night - for the kittens to practice finishing off. Padding out to see what was in the kitchen one time, I once trod barefoot on a shrew's tail in the middle of the hallway carpet. Only the tail, you understand, and this meant a search, at the crack of dawn, for the remaining parts which the kittens had spread right round the living room and hall. It wasnt unusual to wake to a kitchen floor covered in blood and feathers.

    The first seven babies were sent to a new pet shop - the lady owner seemed lovely, but as my older son had fallen in love with a particular black tom, he would pop into the pet shop every day on his way home, to see if they had been sold yet. This is how we found out that two of the kittens had died gruesome deaths, most particularly his favourite, and I never forgave that woman for telling him. The cat (Spider, his unofficial name) had been bought by a dear and doddering little old lady who promptly invited her dog-loving friend to visit, neglecting to mention the kitten. Snap.

    Son was devastated and we had to advertise privately to settle the next litter straight into proper homes. One was still with us, a ginger female of no name, when her mother reproduced yet again.

    So there we were, with four cats and a brood of growing kittens in the house when Husband lost his job.

    To cut a long story short we couldnt afford to have Milly neutered even if we could time it - for a while we could barely afford to feed them all, and I ended up phoning a pet rescue centre, shopping myself as a lousy cat keeper and arranging for them to take Milly and her kittens off our hands. For all the world, I would have kept Milly, if we could have afforded the vet, but as it happened the latest litter were too young, she couldn't be completely separated from them, and given the frequency of her outdoor trips we suspected she may even have been pregnant again.

    We drove them to the farm where animals were rehomed, and, as the kittens were too young for their jabs, the whole troupe were housed outdoors, in a cage. They had never overnighted outdoors, and the look on Milly's face was torture - one of accusation and resignation combined. She looked lost, betrayed. Filling in all the paperwork was soul destroying, as was finding out that every single kitten would be neutered before being rehomed, but Milly did me in. I felt like such a Judas.

    The second the car door shut and we were pulling out of the farm I sobbed uncontrollably and kept on all the way home. Like dear SheWeevil, sobbing is something I 'don't do' if its at all avoidable; this life has enough indignities already without public loss of control and on the rare occasion I am wracked with self pity, it is expressed behind a locked door; not even my family sees or finds out, even in retrospect. I 'don't do' wallowing, either.

    We came back to what felt like an empty house. Mitzi and Mungo knew, and were subdued. Mitzi even decided she was too old for this, gradually stopped eating, started losing the sense in her back legs, and within a couple of months she died. She died in her sleep after purring when I fed her warm milk from an eye dropper - her system had shut down and all she could do was wet her mouth, but she loved it.

    So now there is just my Mungo; the one who thinks he is human, who thinks he has a right to a share of our bed and even the bed covers. The one who will annoy me in my sleep until he has the middle of my pillow. He is around 15 now, although you wouldn't know it, to look.

    We were never completely bereft, but the reflection of that time in our lives is still as effective as an old weepy movie, its one of those playbacks that tugs at the heart when something triggers the memory.

    SheWeevil caused this post, as I said, but did it in her typically restrained and matter of fact way, when she mentioned having to have all of her animals rehomed, due to illness in the family and a sudden change of circumstance. Her dignity never ceases to amaze me.

    All of them. I can't imagine. I can imagine losing half, from experience, and that hurts quite enough. For lack of words for a comment on that post, I just wanted her to know that she has earned my admiration, yet again; the woman is amazing.

    17 October 2005


    I think I must have the biggest rose coloured blinkers going, because I think I was pushed, again, so thats twice in one month.

    I am too tired to rake over this, really, but owe this much to the kind commenters.

    A good British cup of tea has worked it's good British miracle cure.

    In short - it seems I was suckered, wound up like a clockwork toy by what might have been deliberately difficult behaviour.

    I think perhaps we were too suburban for my globetrotting friend, too mediocre and settled and I think he felt stifled. Whether he realised it or not, I believe he pushed the fringes of human tolerance quite purposefully, with the digs and snipes becoming deeper and more blatant every day, knowing at some level that one of us would snap and he would have someone to blame for his departure.

    An example is last night - I had places to go and invited him for the walk. Specifically I wanted him to see around town and get more of a feel for it than the straight line between my home and the supermarket. I wanted him to look up and consider options. On the way back, in new territory, instead of following me he galloped off down the wrong road. My statement (made like walking on eggshells, as it was) was on the lines of "Err, I appear to be going in a different direction from you here."

    Do I get an 'oops, sorry?' or a chuckle? No, I got interrogated, belligerently and loudly, about what that is supposed to mean, whether I would prefer we went in different directions and whether I was trying to tell him something.

    I apologised, said I didn't mean it that way, and he then warned me to practice communicating with normal human beings, or I'd get myself locked up. Lovely.

    I let it ride, so ten more steps down the road he started asking why my husband and I had 'ganged up on him' and 'forced him out of the house' and whether it was my husband who wanted to see the back of him. All that had happened was I asked him out, and as we left, my husband said bye.

    I really can't differentiate between paranoia and a conscious search for an exit route on his part, but you see the way his mind was working.

    Later, after he retired, my husband had just gone to bed as I finished up, locked up and switched everything off. Our visitor chose that moment to come back out when there was only me to face, park himself on the sofa, flick the channels on the TV and only then ask if it was okay if he stayed up to watch some more telly. He made me feel like it was his house, and him waiting for us to get out of the way.

    Fine. I said it was fine, even though we are in a bungalow and all on one level and it meant light shining in to the bedrooms through the fanlights until who knows when.

    He sat there, he bloody sat there another three or four minutes, watching me, until I had switched off my computer and had just hit the button to close my husband's machine, then chose that very second, with sarcasm and disdain dripping from his voice, to mumble "Oh. No more games for me tonight then?"

    Everything has been like that. I don't like bathing when he's here, he leaves lights on and curtains and doors open and saunters round like he owns the place. I wash before he wakes, or when he is out. This weekend it couldn't be helped and I announced my intention to dissappear into the bathroom for half an hour. His comment: "Oh, you're having a bath?" It wasn't the words, so much as they way they were steeped in mocking incredulity.

    I really do wonder if he's as unstable as he makes out, or whether its a convenient tool for a free ride on other people's backs.

    What I know is this - in two different ways, by two very different people, I got pushed into a corner this past fortnight. I got goaded until I could take no more.

    Its not something I am used to recognising, let alone experiencing, even on an annual basis. To have it happen twice between the two eclipses, well, I have to wonder if the universe is trying to teach me something about myself. Whatever it is, I'm going to sift it out, and learn it. Maybe 'don't be such a doormat' is a good starting point.

    P.S. Having consigned this to a learning curve and begun the clearing up, I found my husband's birthday present wine tucked neatly into the duvet cover on the visitor bed. It will be a long, long time before I can face drinking any of it and we may even save it to give away - its somehow tainted, now. The smug smirk on my visitor's face as he left and I challenged him for return of the bottle has taken on a whole new meaning and I have to assume he was displaying triumph that I would believe him capable of petty theft. He wants to be sure I loathe him, it seems, and that sounds dangerously self destructive on his part. Not so good for a man in his forties, although the more I look, the more it fits a pattern.

    I forgive him already. His destruction of me seems secondary to his main purpose of self destruction. However, I would forgive a mistreated dog for biting me - even if I needed stitches - but that doesn't mean I'd let it near my skin a second time.


    I cracked.

    The evil, psychotic house guest has left.

    He was perfect at (constantly) making sure you didn't mind this or that, so long as you were there in the same room, to ask. As to getting up in the middle of the night to help himself - no problem. Same again if only the kids were about - they didn't count.

    He left in a huff, because I took him mumbling in his offhand, conceited fashion, from the comfort of my computer station where he was ensconced, about me being educationally subnormal; f*cking certifiable etc etc, (just as he has for a week and a half) until I lost it and crashed the computer by pulling the electricity fuse.

    All I wanted was an apology. I wanted him to snap out of it, hear himself, and readjust his behaviour. What I got instead was loads and loads more smarmy, laughing abuse and he even took care to steal the expensive bottle of wine our son had bought just this weekend for my husband's birthday present, as he left. He did it deliberately - having spent two weeks scoffing exotic foods in front of us all, several times a day (boy does he eat) in preference to our budget family diet, he knew damn well we hadn't seen the inside of a £7 bottle of wine for a year or so and were saving this for a special occasion. He took it just to be smug, the r-hole.

    He is kind of family and I feel kind of responsible for him, but he is definitively unwell. This makes it worse because his turns of phrase are so abusive that he has no friends left - most of them end up threatening to sue him, and I feel like tail end charlie - desperately worried he will end up on the streets, and guilty as hell towards his poor mother.

    I am trying to work out who I loathe the most just now - me or him. I wanted to hang on in there, I just haven't got what it takes. Its bizarre, huh, to cry most of the time someone that 'unusual' is in my house, only to cry more out of similar frustration when they have stormed out.

    Half of me wishes I had just taken his offensive behaviour, which would have involved a lot less respect or hope for him and a clearer image of him as a mental patient who can't help it. The other half of me wishes I had kicked his travel bag with all my strength, to smash that bottle into his clothes and books. Thank God the kids weren't here.

    Sod it.

    16 October 2005

    My House

    My house doesn't exist, it never has, but Fineartist has again sent me off dreaming, owing to mentioning her 'little hippy house' that she is in the process of leaving.

    If I had my very own retreat, it would be quirky as. It would be old, with wooden window frames, stairwells and under-stair cupboards, nooks and crannies and at least one resident spider. Every good house should have at least one ancient spider in a dark and unneeded corner.

    It would breathe. None of this hyperinsulated airtight modern stuff, but cool brick walls and slightly draughty doors; perfect for a huge library of books, with wooden shelving to the ceiling in the largest downstairs room.

    There would be at least two floors; preferably three or four, ending up in the attic, with good treetop views. A different atmosphere on every level.

    The kitchen would be big enough to be the centre of the house, room for a cosy corner and a table and a radio or TV or both, loads of workspace and a huge marble worksurface for letting kids get mucky with biscuit making and the like. I would have a whole cupboard just for mugs. In a kitchen like that there has to be a gloriously coloured assortment of large and mismatched mugs; delicate ones for soothing friends with Earl Grey tea, workers' bucket ones for getting down to business and snuggly cuddly ones of thicker stoneware, built for cupping in both hands to savour hot chocolate. No two the same.

    The corridors and hallways would be wide - wide enough for a hall table to not be in the way, or a huge aspidistra, or a couple of jardinieres. Little wooden bookcases and chairs would pop up everywhere, under windows and in cool corners good for gazing out and pondering.

    I would be a collector of nicknacks. I at least want a china cow - a shaggy, Scottish highland coo. Wooden puzzles and Russian dolls and things the kids made out of cardboard boxes in first year school, each item giving solid pleasure in its own right, all hidden in magical little corners amongst books.

    All my hallway windows would be part stained glass because I love colour. Plain windows at the back would come under attack with hanging crystals or coloured nets, or glass shelves bearing chunky glass ornaments.

    The stairs would be solid and broad and invite running and thundering; built for abuse as much as for dreaming.

    I prefer painted walls, to wallpaper. A plain, solid background is a much better foil for one's possessions if, like me, your tastes are eclectic; if you might find a classic print next to a wall mounted bagatelle board, next to the pictures the kids did at school. Paper would be saved for guest rooms and the sitting room, but only to give them a sense of being grounded, of being 'all there', less changeable. Tiny rosebuds on off white, probably; something a bit Laura Ashley, something that suggests there are magic puzzles and really good dark chocolate in the lounge drawer, or huge new scented guest soaps in the bedside table in the guest room.

    I want the biggest ever patio doors, door on door until you could just as well take the back wall off the house, to open the whole sitting room out onto the garden. Maybe a conservatory attached, but an old, slightly cluttered one that smells of potting compost and stored newspapers, of string and axle grease and well oiled garden tools. Big enough to stroll through or sit to take tea, but the atmosphere is way more important than room for more than two chairs. Not a whiff of UPVC anywhere, not a scent of acrylic carpet or wall insulation, none of those isolationist chemicals. The most plastic I would welcome in would be a huge tin or two of lego bricks, because everyone knows that if you are building lego fairylands on the floor, its best to have a smooth stone or wood foundation, which in any case is the best surface for toy cars, too.

    The garden. Well, now; the garden would be an allotment masquerading as fairyland. Circular benches around hidden trees - fruit trees and bushes everywhere and beneath them all herbs and good plants; lungwort to stop bleeding, marigolds to keep away insects, to cheer the senses and reduce a woman's discomfort; clary sage, something for everything, especially cooking. Greengages and english apples, cherries, rosemary and bay. Lawn enough for games, but with tiny, twisting paths leading off, and up or down, to surprises; a pond, a viewpoint, an ornament, and inscription, a shed, a secluded sunning spot. Somewhere for people to come and visit, and find exactly their perfect place to feel as though it was made just for them.

    The front of the house would present gravel and trees, solid wood side gates and a huge double front door with a porch containing a rack for wellington boots. Nothing glossy, nothing perfect, but looking solid and safe and as though you would have a hard time breaking anything, but that if you managed it would be no big deal. The only shine on the brass letter box and huge brass doorknob.

    And for now the dream has run dry; I've imagined everything I can for this session, but for the first time ever I have managed to put shape to something that was always there - my dream house, and it all started with the realisation that yes, ideally, it would be a little bit 'hippy'.

    I Adore Wayward Teenagers

    A couple or three years back, I left my job as Admin Asst to the local Town Clerk and took on a job in a school.

    It may sound stupid, but I left a solid, regular job I had held for three years, to go into a three month contract on the promise of full employment come the new financial year. As it happened, the full time work never materialised, but it was still the best thing I ever did.

    I went to work at a school owned by Tower Hamlets (inner city London 'poor' area,) snuggled into the hills at the back of Seaford, with fantastic sea and hill views from the upper dorms. A rambling and ancient building with huge grounds, it was a retreat for kids with EBD - Educational and Behavioural Difficulties - the kind that even inner city teachers couldn't cope with.

    The school admin was in flux. I was taken on by the acting Head, who wanted to have a teaching assistant in every class - not to help teach the subject, but to help teach self-respect - to be the runner, cajoler and safe-keeper when kids stormed out of class.

    Most of the kids were total sugar addicts, if not addicted to other things. I don't think there was a single one that didn't smoke cigarettes and I am certain their chosen social groups back home (if not their own parents) provided most with access to other recreational buzzes.

    Mondays were a downer for kids allowed home at the weekend - they were practically twitching, and withdrawal from family and lifestyle can do that as much as withdrawal from chemicals. This meant that, unofficially and off the record of course, certain classes were guaranteed full attendance - specifically the ones where good behaviour and staying on task were rewarded with a mini mars bar or a couple of peppermints at the end of session.

    The rest, the ones conducted by die-hard types, needed a Teaching Assistant.

    Being invited to assist unnecessarily in the 'good' classes only served to show the kids that you were a) human and b) in on the secret, that you could be trusted, so that when they stormed out into the grounds on the pretence of feeling offended by another teacher (but really, most usually, in desperation for a sly roll-up), you were tolerated as a follower and not sworn at or threatened with physical or sexual abuse.

    The system was running on tick-over, the acting Head unable to make too many changes, his hands tied. In spite of what I was told at interview I got no training and no mentor. I had no rules at all, so dealt with the kids as human beings with no knowledge of the current framework of political correctness. It was a free for all.

    You have to undertsand that EBD kids come to a school having already learned that the only way to be heard is to scare people. Yes when they really lose it, many have seen the depths of human behaviour and think themselves controlled and reasonable if they only knock you flat, but for the main part its all about testing you, acting out and trying your metal. I loved it, because I can be as cheeky and evil as the next nutter.

    I considered myself honoured and seen as 'all right' because I had next to no threats of physical abuse, they were all sexual. Yes they were toying with the concept of control, but not annihilation, and most of the gross suggestions were tempered by them calling me Miss. You have to earn being 'Miss', otherwise you are fat slag/bitch/whatever. If they say Miss, then you know they are only playing.

    "'Ere Miss, we're gonna drag you in the bushes and spitroast you!"

    The only safe answer to that is to laugh and reply along the lines of "Bollocks you daft ha'peth", or "Ooh tell me when it's over, cos I might not notice". One of them used to continue playing - "Gis a shag miss!" and to my delight was shocked like an innocent schoolboy when my reply was to make the money hand single, or shout back "Show us yer money". School-ish grown ups were supposed to be mortally offended and incapable of a double bluff - straight, boring and character free, and I later discovered that I was supposed to be outraged and to report this innapropriate game of wind up as a serious threat of sexual abuse. Yeah, tight, no wonder he had no time for 'real' teachers, even I thought that was a bit anal.

    They NEED to know that you know they are bull-shitting. You get nothing but derision from them if you blush or look scared - you become relegated from human to pet rat or sad old fart, meanwhile turning it into a big issue does affect them; depresses them, makes them feel completely misunderstood and picked on, and makes the behaviour worsen.

    By the end of my time, to everyone's surprise, a younger, go-getting type of Head had won the full time position. Years of caring based experience were thrown out in preference for statistics and goals. I genuinely believe that image won out over the well being and survival of the pupils.

    When the full time position never materialised - ostensibly through lack of funds, I was depserately sorry to leave my boys, but the system was changing and many of them were leaving anyway, refusing to cooperate with such a stark change in policy.

    In my last couple of weeks, I saw where the money went - it was allocated to capital funds and wherever the beautiful old English Eaves dipped almost into reach, rubberised mock spikes were intalled to discourage roof climbing. Lovely. The message it gave is that this is longer a home, more of a Gulag.

    All these barbaric looking things did was sit in even easier reach, on a solid metal cross bar, far easier to negotiate than a dodgy old piece of guttering. Those kids might delight in upsetting stuffed shirts, but not in killing themselves - they're not stupid - and incidences of roof climbing quadrupled overnight.

    I left with a chuckle, for that.

    Thanks to Fineartist for reminding me of this.

    15 October 2005

    Weekend Catch-Up

    Back Links

    I've had a couple of really lovely and flattering links back to one or two of my posts, most recently "Did She Jump" on my unceremonious exit from the scintillating world of school based food prep, and "Being Five" - fairly self explanatory. (Oops and The Blooker Prize - thanks, Doris.)

    The fact that these came from some great writers/bloggers inspired me to wear my gold stars in public and activate the fairly new facility in Blogger that allows these to show. It didn't work.

    I believed I copied the coding instructions to the letter, but presumably not, so anyone else who has had the same game and solved it would be publicly lauded for bailing my code-ignorant butt out of this one. I really would LOVE a functioning gizmo that pointed out the things you say about me outside of the comments section here, because I am proud of that.

    Viral Pop-Ups

    I have done as suggested and stopped the comments from opening in a new window - please keep telling me if it did/didn't work.

    To answer a very fair question (asked in a very unfair manner in one of the deleted comments mentioned earlier) there are a finite number of ways for pop-ups to get onto my blog that I know of, these being:
    1. I invite them in and knowingly add the necessary code. I didn't do that.
    2. I join a webring or the like, add the code for that to my blog and find that the pop-ups are piggybacking the link. Possible, and as Doris said, the only way to be sure is to eliminate all new links one by one to see if the pop-ups dissappear. This would involve forewarning any rings I belong to, so that I don't get permanently booted for having inactivated the connection. Nightmare.
    3. The pop-ups are attaching themselves to the URL - to the code for my blog rather than the code for any individual addition to my blog, in which case they have gained access from the host server. I have no control over the programming behind the template, only remote access to update the look and feel, the posts etc.
    I live in hope, but feel hijacked and depressed. I have had to reduce my association with surfing rings like Blog Explosion because they will not countenance pop-ups at all and I don't want to be penalised for something I didn't do and don't benefit from.

    Poetry Game

    I had wonderful fun. There are a couple of later suggestions on there that I really want to play with and am sorry that the moment passed and real life kicked back in too quickly. They are on the back burner for the next possible clear thinking time, but as any wife and mother will know, daring to set a timescale to that would be like asking the gods to pour mockery, laundry and familial crises down upon my head in equal measure.

    Nonetheless, a few people took up the opposite challenge to create a poem of their own using the three words that I set. The out and out winner is Axeman for this little work:
    It has become such an ARDOUS life
    Especially 15 years after
    I don't think you ever met the wife
    My little VELOCIRAPTOR.

    She says our love needs, well...
    a bit more fondling
    I say a stake
    and a lot more KINDLING.
    Sheer joy. Axey baby - don't stop doing what you're doing, but please, run a personal, non-marketing blog as well - you're funny.


    Off to do some frantic tidying up before my husband comes back from single-handedly coping with the weekend shopping and decides he's the only person around here who ever lifts a finger. Once the personal standards dragon has been sated and fallen asleep so that the man I married shines back through, I hope to catch up on some surfing - miss you guys!