Thursday, 30 August 2007

You Know Where You Can Stick These Gifts...

I decided to have a wander around our local town the other day to see if I could pick up any bargains at the Charity Shops to pass off as brand new on my next outing with a date (when hell freezes over) and started to notice just how many of these kitsch gift shops are springing up everywhere with names such as The Friendly Banana Kabin, Butterflies, Bling & Bows and Chunky Monkey’s Chunka Junk (probably).

I wandered into one and was quite amazed at the tat that is on sale, attached to an astronomical price tag.

expensive snot
For instance, I can buy some Space Putty, which is “an un-put-downable liquid lava goo. What once used to be silly, and occasional potty, has now become spacey”. For £4.95! But it’s just metallic snot! And what do I need it for? If I was to purchase it for a friend, what does it say about my opinion of them? That they are obviously easily amused and have little neural activity going on in the old grey matter? If somebody bought me this, I would go back to their house and fling it at their newly painted walls, leaving a *flobbering* metallic stain to remind them of how cheap they are.

A stupid moaning robot
So what about a Gupi retailing at £39.95? For the uninitiated amongst you, the Gupi is a robot guinea pig which is a cuddly version of the Tamagochi pets that were all the rave a few years ago. Gupi has to be fed, watered, cuddled, talked to and can make MORE THAN 30 DIFFERENT SOUNDS! Oh whizzo! Not only do I have two cats which never stop yowling at me for a few crates of Whiskas every hour, now there’s a flippin’ paranoid robot which will moan at me, too. Why not just buy a real guinea pig – they don’t make more than a few odd squeaks and certainly won’t get emotional hang-ups if you don’t pass the time of day with them. A highly-strung furry robot? Whatever next?

Just squash them, you poof!
Well, I shall tell you! I present to you, The Spider Catcher, retailing at only £9.95. As you can see, it resembles some sort of dental torture tool, but I am assured that it “wouldn’t hurt a fly”. Well, I am sorry, but that just isn’t the point. For flies, I have my good old trusty Vapona, and for spiders, I have the newspaper or my Doc Martens. If they leave a splattery mess, the cloth and the vac come out to get rid of the crunchy bits. Yes, it may sound cruel, but I am scared stiff of spiders and there’s no way I am going to faff about trying to pick up something that ought to be saddled and raced in the Grand National.

The mind boggles
For £6.95, I can buy a USB Humping Dog. Really, I can. You plug this carnal canine into your USB port and watch it hump the PC tower. Those long winter evenings must simply fly by. There is a certain breed of male who would buy these in bulk and stare at them fixatedly through his working day, tittering dirtily and inviting anyone who comes past, to watch Rover hump his PC. It is the closest thing he will get to sex all year...

I could just imagine buying my mother one of these for her birthday.

Me: Happy Birthday, Mum. Hope you like it.
Mum: Oooh, thanks: a USB humping dog. Did you know you were adopted at birth?

Annoy your workmates
If any of these gifts appeal to you, dear reader, you can view them and a great deal more at the online gift shop I Want One Of Those. But let me state quite categorically, that if any of you decide to buy me something for my birthday, I only want the USB Missile Launcher as I would like to pretend to be a Politician for a day.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

A Problem Shared is a Problem for Two People.

Once again, I am in receipt of trashy, glossy magazines courtesy of R Donna at the chippy behind my house. This week’s offering contains a copy of ‘new!’ August 20th edition, (no, I don’t like the inability to use initial capitals, either, or the unnecessary exclamation mark) which, from what I can gather, is aimed at a readership of single women with an average of six kids to five different fathers (one pregnancy produced twins) who drink 10% proof lager and weigh approximately 18 stone. I only surmise the latter point as every other page contains a ‘Hot, Top Dieting Tip!’

One of my favourite sections to this magazine is ‘relationship S.O.S’: the Agony Aunt column by Jane O'Gorman. As I am feeling in a charitable mood tonight – because daughter no. 1 has dumped her dour boyfriend whose only vocal ability was to grunt – I will share these little gems with you and explain how, as an ambassador for HexMyEx, I would tackle these sticky situations…

**Doormat: My boyfriend’s family treat him like a child and now we’re living together he expects me to do everything for him. Early one morning, he needed a packed lunch and woke me up to make it for him! Now he’s saying that he’ll have to go back to his parents’ home a couple of nights a week because they “take care of him”. I’m furious but he is really lovely – except for this!

Agnes: I’m not ashamed to divulge this to you, Doormat, but you should always do the right thing by somebody who makes food and beverage demands of you. Once upon a time I worked as a data entry clerk – something to do whilst 8 ½ months pregnant – and a certain colleague refused to make the drinks, claiming she had ‘weak wrists’. By four o’clock, I had made her her sixth cup of tea and I was not a happy Mum-to-be. Not only being heavy with child, I was also heavy with cold. So, I wiped her tea bag on my snotty nose, left it to steep and presented her with her drink. She went off sick the next day with a bad cold (big Nancy; I managed to go in with mine!) and I didn’t have to make any drinks for her ever again as I went off to have my baby! So, it can have a happy ending…

Misunderstood: My new next-door neighbour came round for coffee and started talking intimately about her sex life. She explained that she has an open marriage and she’s had loads of different lovers, both male and female. I get the feeling that she was angling to get into my bed and I’ve tried to avoid her since. My husband reckons I must have misunderstood her, but I know when someone’s flirting with me – do you think I am overreacting?

Agnes: What a dilemma for you, Misunderstood. When I moved into this house, all I got was a bag of chicken bones thrown over the back garden fence for the cat. Well, I have no idea if you are overreacting or not as I wasn’t there. However, I think the question you need to be asking yourself is: Do I fancy her or not? Once you’ve answered that, you’ll know your next move. Simple, really.

Prematurely Incontinent: When I’m making love with my boyfriend, I often have an almost uncontrollable desire to pee and I’m only 27. I have to run to the bathroom and my boyfriend moans that the interruption puts him off.

Agnes: Dear Prem, why you think your age has anything to do with this is beyond me. Have you thought about emptying your bladder before you get jiggy with him? Or perhaps if you refrain from the 11 pints of 10% proof Special Brew before the carnal act begins you won’t feel the urge. Then again, if the interruption puts him off his stroke, at least you won’t be saddled with a seventh child, eh? Every cloud has a silver lining.

I reckon I’d be quite good at this, don’t you? Just send me all your problems and if I have nothing better to do, I might send you a reply.

**Names have been changed to protect these correspondents' numerous innocent** children
**Until proven guilty next month

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Story of my Flippin' Life...

Your Brain's Pattern

Your brain is always looking for the connections in life.

You always amaze your friends by figuring out things first.

You're also good at connecting people - and often play match maker.

You see the world in fluid, flexible terms. Nothing is black or white.

Typical...did you notice the bit I have highlighted in bold?? You're also good at connecting people - and often play match maker. So that's why I can't find a flippin' bloke - too busy sorting out other people!

Thanks for the heads up on this from Amel

Analyse this...

Clive 'winked' at me through, one of the larger, but infinitely more expensive dating sites. The photo accompanying his profile showed a jovial-looking, ruddy, bald, chubby chappy wearing a smart bow tie and DJ. There was no attraction for me at all, and thus, he was instantly forgettable.

But, he wrote to me some weeks later, and out of courtesy, and the fact that I had pretty much forgotten who he was, I responded, answering his questions politely and asking him some in return. When he invited me to chat with him on MSN messenger, I agreed, as one of my pet hates is to ‘break the ice’ over the telephone.

I am a bit of a stickler for good punctuation, grammar and spellings and I was rather impressed to discover that he could manage all of these things. I commented accordingly – not in a patronizing manner – and remarked that it made a refreshing change to chat with someone who used correct English and didn’t resort to text-speak in messages and mail.

My comment about his standards of English seemed to rouse him somewhat and he immediately started demanding that he got my phone number to speak with me. As it was about 10.30pm and I was shattered, I refused point blank and said I was hitting the sack. Bizarrely, he continued to press the matter home, until I just wrote, Goodnight, and signed out. For a while after that, I avoided signing in to Messenger whenever I could see he was online.

After about a week, though, my attitude softened and I thought, Ah, what the heck, I’ll have another chat with him. As soon as I signed in, his yellow message popped up: Hello there!

We volleyed back and forth with small talk, until, again, he started to make demands that I gave him my phone number. Now, the more I get pressured to do things, the less likely I am to do them, so again, I refused. Instead, he changed tack and invited me to meet him for a drink. Well, I didn’t have much on ahead of me that week, Jonny Depp being tied up with filming, and so I accepted. I knew he was coming from Manchester, and that he didn’t know my neck of the woods very well, so I arranged to meet with him at a pub I know, literally on the roundabout of J10, M56, called The Stretton Fox. I gave him directions, and we organised to meet on the Wednesday evening.

But, oh dear, oh dear. As chance would have it, I had to cancel my date with him. My mother had, rather selfishly, I thought, managed to contract pericarditis, which had led to fluid surrounding her heart and filling her left lung. She was rushed into Intensive Care, and I had a pile of ironing which she needed to get done for me.

Thankfully, he was online and I was able to message him instantly, explaining the reason for my non-attendance that night. He was understanding and I started to warm to his empathy and thus agreed to divulge my mobile number to him so he could text me. (Note. I have two mobile phones now. My primary number I have only given out to people who mean something to me: friends and family etc. The secondary number is given out to psychopaths, schizophrenics, paranoids, alcoholics, sociopaths and loan companies).

Clive was given the second number.

He texted me instantly to verify it which I thought was a little OTT, so I messaged him to say I had his text and had logged his number. We rescheduled our date for the following Wednesday instead, same time, same place: Stretton Fox, J10, M56. This in itself seemed to cause Clive some concern. Was it really a pub? Was it really on the M56 junction? Would it be full of thugs? Yes, Yes, No. What’s the big deal? It’s only a pub date. Candid Camera isn’t going to be lurking in the gents.

An apologetic text was sent to Clive and I turned the phone off in readiness for visiting hours and in case I met a dishy, single registrar who wouldn’t appreciate our intimate chat about my ailing mother and my availability next week being interrupted by my phone tinkling away at us.

Daughterly hospital duties over with, I returned home and resolved to take the plunge and call Clive to update him on the situation.

I really, really hate talking to someone for the first time on the phone. I am not a reserved person in the slightest and will talk to any tramp, alcoholic, local loony and child who makes eye contact with me...but I hate phones (and especially mobiles) with a passion. So, I was rather formal at first, when I got hold of Clive.

He asked after my mother's health and told me he quite understood my commitments at the moment. Then he revealed that he was rather relieved I had finally spoken to him because he was starting to suspect that I didn't actually live in the UK. That was such an odd statement to make. Why on earth would I be overseas and what on earth made him think that? I asked him. Well, it was the small matter of my comment regarding his standard of written English and how he had noticed that some immigrants to the UK also try extra hard with their command of our glorious language. I roared laughing and asked him if he thought I was some Russian prostitute after a visa. I was perturbed by the long pause. This admission seemed to open the confessional floodgates and he told me he had been analysing my messages for any slip-ups, didn't like the way I skirted over personal subject matter (what? nosey sod!) and my infrequent visits to the MSN chatrooms.

I guess my stunned silence caused him to change tack and he asked me 'what was I looking for'. I guess he meant in men, not the fiver I had put away for my fags and seemed to have misplaced.

I replied genuinely that I was looking for a normal chap: intelligent, witty, solvent (i.e. not about to sponge off me), considerate and, if it wasn’t too much to ask, somebody who I could probably kiss without cringing. (I didn’t really stipulate that last bit, but it was in my head). He replied that he ticked all those boxes, so I thought, OK, we’ll meet for a date and so we did.

The next week, I walked into the pub, as arranged, and there was this bright red, shiny beach ball perched on a corner bench, almost glowing with high blood pressure. (He reckoned that he had put on weight because he only ever sits in front of the PC, working 16 hours per day...he injured his Achilles tendon, so he can no longer work-out...he's vegetarian...what? Is he eating 16lb of cheese each day? And why can't he swim? Walk? Get away from his PCs?)

After the compulsory air kiss (I hate those with a vengeance and try to avoid them as much as possible) we seated ourselves. It was a bitterly cold night and I had omitted to put on my thermals underneath my chiffon dress, which just was not suitable for the time of year (My mother would have made me wear a tank-top, long johns and a balaclava had she seen me walking out the door) so I ordered a frothy coffee, which was simply divine. So I had another, and another. Then I went outside for a cigarette (bloody no-smoking bans!). He came with me, which I wasn’t overly pleased about – I like a contemplative fag on my own – and continued to waffle on about all sorts of psychobabble.

We got back inside and he informed me that it was the oddest date he had ever been on. Why? I asked…Because you order coffee and go outside to smoke. How bizarre, I thought – I’ll order tea and blow smoke all over you if you want…

As I was still rather cold, I had my legs crossed and my arms across my body. Clive then started to analyse my body language, informing me that I had a ‘hostile, protective pose’. My eyebrow started to go up again, and the accent became more and more crystal-cut, which is a very bad sign from me; this means I am getting chippy and am likely to start using unusual words to confuse people greatly.

He criticised me for most of the night thereonin...Well! You can rest assured I did not take that with a smile on my least, not a genuine one...more of a rictus or a snarl...Ooooh yeeees, Cliiiiive? He should have realised instantly not to go any further, but he did...My accent got posher and vocabulary increased from three syllables to five and he started to look bewildered...I told him he was paranoid; possibly on the autism spectrum disorder; said he talked way too much and I couldn't get a word in edge-ways (unusual for me, that) insinuated that he was a lard-a*se with no life; and pulled him up short on his so-called clever analysis of an old Irish proverb - "May the roof above never fall down; and may our friends below never fall out."

He started trying to educate me about the potato famine in Ireland and how they broke corpses' legs to bury them, but some weren't dead, so they would 'fall out' of the shallow graves...Er, are you on some strange pills, Clive? It's quite simple to me: the roof is the heavens and we are below on the earth. We don't want to lose our friends through arguments. QED? When I explained MY theory to him, he looked vague and muttered, Oh yes, I guess that is one way of looking at it...the subject was changed abruptly.

He then criticised me for my taste in men (yes, I admit they are dubious, but I will criticise my taste, not my first date!) until, in the end, I decided I had had enough and sweetly told him I was on my way. He asked if he could see me again as he had had such a wonderful time. Like a coward, I said, Maybe, zoomed home and deleted him from MSN, blocked him on my phone, locked all the doors and obliterated him from my life…until now that is.

It would be a shame to waste such a night by ignoring it, wouldn’t it?

Monday, 27 August 2007

Picture This...

There’s an advert running on the commercial TV channels in the UK at the moment for a loans company called Picture. The scenario goes a little like this: average-looking wholesome Dad has got himself into a spot of bother financially (too many nights down at the dogs, and then a visit to the local lap-dancing club) and wants to consolidate his finances.

Boisterous, rosy-cheeked children interrupt him at various intervals during the commercial, and there’s a beautifully kept show-home in the background. He ends up quite matey with the customer service advisor by the end of the advert, and I think they may be organising a mutual appreciation society or something.

But do you know what is weird about this whole thing, apart from the obvious in that he doesn’t crack his kids around the ear for rudely nagging him when he is on the phone?

His wife is seen videoing him right the way through it!

nice clean towels
This would have alarm bells going off in my head if I were he. For what purpose, other than evidence, would she be filming her husband applying for a massive loan? In the not too distant future, he is going to find a hefty manila envelope on his doormat containing an application for divorce citing unreasonable behaviour including meditated bankruptcy and infidelity with Juicy Lucy at Dirty Harry’s Strip Joint. Instead of chatting up the loan shark, I’d be chatting up a decent lawyer.

This excruciating advert must run for well over a minute and it is so cheesy it makes Stilton look like fromage frais (which everybody knows is just slightly off yoghurt pretending to be cheese).

I’d want to divorce that bloke if I was married to him – not only because he is a toothy, happy-chappy who probably knows how to bake a soufflé, changed the kids’ nappies AND is in touch with his feminine side – but also because he is so incredibly unfunny. He cracks jokes to his new pal on the other end of the phone, who is obviously ROFLing at him sycophantically, and they are as humorous as an infestation of ringworm on your face.

I’m not too sure about the rest of the UK’s female population, but I couldn’t bear to be shackled to a bloke who is more gurlie than me, and who has such a banal sense of humour. I’d always be checking my wardrobe to see if any of my clothes had been tampered with, living with him.

passion killer
It is quite ironic that in another advert released by Picture, the wholesome Dad is constantly agitating a rugby ball while wearing a rugby shirt, which has obviously been bought from Man at Oxfam as I have never seen it on Rugby Special in all of my born days. Is this a case of ‘methinks he doth protest too much’? I won’t go into any ball-handling innuendoes, as that is too predictable and tedious, but you probably get where I am coming from.

The ultimate insult in this advert is the background music. For anybody over the age of 30, we all remember it as Tony Hart’s Gallery Music, which is actually called ‘Leftbank 2’ by the Lance Gambit Trio.

This is such an evocative piece of music for us 30-somethings that it could, in severe cases, whilst enduring this tripe, instil indignation and high dudgeon in those of us who used to sit with bated breath to see if our picture of ‘Ralph Our Dog’ got into Tony’s gallery this week, hoping we’d won a Take Hart Art Kit.

Captain Complainer
So, not only am I subjected to utter tosh when the actual programmes are on telly, the adverts are equally as mind-numbing now. Yes, I know, I have the ‘Off Button’, but considering I was extorted into purchasing a TV license even before I had an aerial installed in my new home, I feel I have the right to watch it and complain bitterly.

Complaining is what put the Great into Great Britain.

Sunday, 26 August 2007


I apologise profusely for recently becoming a Widget Whore. I shall get bored with them in a few days and delete them, but for now, please humour me.

My Family and Other Psychopaths

I think Alcoment and I must have our Blogging biorhythms in sync at the moment as, in turn, her most recent post got me thinking about veiled insults, back-handed compliments and the insecurity springboards which I have received over my colourful life.

Most of them have come from my dear family members, mainly from Mother Dearest who wouldn’t know how to give an unconditional compliment if it came on a silver platter and garnished with parsley. And so, dear reader, I shall share some of these with you and then you in turn might wish to employ them in order to screw with the heads of your foes.

On getting a C grade in Human Biology A Level at night school:
Father: Couldn’t you have got a B?

On getting 83% in a Health & Social Care assignment:
Father: That’s what you got last time. Couldn’t you have got 84%?

On having my hair cut into a new style:
Mother: That style really suits you. I wish you’d stop dying your hair that dark colour, though, it looks trashy.

On losing weight:
Mother: You’re getting too thin.

On subsequently gaining weight:
Mother: You look like a Sumo wrestler.

On my figure:
Mother: You’ve got a smashing figure. It’s a pity you’ve got that belly, though. Have you tried sit-ups?

On dressing up for a family meal:
Mother: I’m glad to see you are smartening up these days. You look really nice when you go out. But don’t wear that awful black thing tonight. You look like a witch.

On commenting whether I needed to lose weight or not:
The Ex: I’ll give you a stone either way. Put on a stone and you’re dumped; lose a stone and you’re dumped.

On commenting how romantic candle-lit meals were:
The Ex: Don’t expect me to be making soppy remarks to you over the dining table. I’ll have me head down eating me nosebag.

On making a three course birthday meal for my Mother:
Mother: Is there garlic in this? Urgh, I hate garlic.

On playing the baddy in a pantomime:
All my 'friends': You're very natural as a witch.

On getting the principal boy part in a panto with lots of singing:
The Ex: The only people in the audience who'll appreciate your singing will be the handicapped kids.

On asking why a (then) boyfriend had stayed so long with his psychopathic exgirlfriend:
Ex-boyfriend: Because it was the best sex I have ever had in my life.

Me as a cleaner
On being offered a dream job as a writer:
Mother: You'll be home later than usual? You can't do that. What about the children? Why don't you go cleaning? Cleaners get well paid and you can choose your own hours.
[Obviously, this is why I am studying an English degree, as there is a high demand for well-read cleaners]

On being offered a dream job as a writer #2:
Daughter No.1: So you'll be home later than before? So all you care about is the money and not me? You just don't care about me, do you? [I turned the job down, eventually]

On losing quite a lot of weight and fancying a bit of hanky-panky that night
The Ex: You look like a road traffic accident.

On going on a diet after repeated remarks from Mother that I was huge:
Mother: Have some apple pie and cream. Go on, I made it especially for you.
Me: I told you I was on a diet.
Mother: That won’t kill you.
Me: No, but it will put weight on me.
Mother: You’re obsessed, you are…

On taking my driving test after 12 lessons:
Mother: You’ll not pass. It took me 25 lessons before I passed. Waste of good money.
Ha! I passed!

Me on a good dayAll I can say is that it’s a jolly good job I am thick-skinned and have oodles of self-esteem. But, I have to end it here - I must go now as I have an appointment with my psychotherapist…

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Travel Advice from the UK Foreign Office

It recently came to my attention that the cobweb-matted body which is the UK's Foreign Office, those pillars of Stiff-Upper Lip Colonialism inherent in all public school Old Boys, has decided to vamp up its image somewhat and 'go all the rage' as my ancient mother would say.

To this end, it has hired Charlotte Meares, fiancée of Jermain Defoe, (no, I have no bloody idea who they are either, but he kicks a ball about on a swathe of grass, I think, so she's obviously somebody of superior wit and intelligence) to write the WAG's Travel Guide.

We are treated to such ground-breaking advice as:

Insure those Choos:

An absolute must is travel insurance - one tumble off a bar table in your Jimmy Choos without insurance could cost you £20,000 worth of shopping money on your hospital bill! And whether you’ve got five Louis Vuitton cases full of designer gear or a beaten up bag full of Primark, you’ll want to know that if anything gets lost or stolen you will be covered.

My God! I hadn't thought of that. Maybe I could just NOT climb onto bar tables and use a chair to sit on, like most civilised people. And why couldn't I have five Louis Vuitton cases full of Primark gear? That's just labellist.


Know Before You Go!

It might sound trivial [No, it doesn't, Charlotte, honestly...] but you never know when you might break a nail or your extensions turn green in the pool. To stay looking your best even if you are not taking a personal stylist with you, get a number of good local beauticians or check if the hotel has one before you go!

My Personal Stylist can't accompany me on my next jaunt to Clacton-on-Sea as she is studying for her Advanced Brick-Laying NVQ 3, so I shall have to ensure that I have plenty of Polyfilla in case my false teeth fall out into my port & lemon. Anyway, in my experience, it's always my nails that turn green and my extensions break in the pool...

But the best...

Another WAG technique for looking cool and ‘in the know’ is to arrive at your destination wearing something the locals would but with a unique twist - think Henna’d hands in India
Charlotte going native

I could really imagine the WAGs pitching up to Saudi Arabia wearing the burkah and abayah. This daft bint would probably stitch her fianceés name on the back in sequins for that 'unique twist' à la footie strip. If she heads off to Ethipoia, do you think she might insert a tribal disc into her bottom lip? It might serve to shut her up...

An Ode to AgnesWhy did the Foreign Office decide that their travel advice needed both sexing-up and dumbing down? What did we do to deserve this little gem? Travelling is immense fun, but I really don't need to be treated like a retard to prepare for it. As long as I've got clean undies, my passport and my jabs are up to date, do I really need to ensure that my beauty essentials are packed into a clear plastic bag? My one and only 'beauty essential' is a nicotine patch, stuck firmly over my mouth to stop the cravings and to shut me up.

Anybody who takes this Travel Guide seriously deserves to spend a week teaching the finer grammatical rules of Mandarin Chinese to Paris Hilton.

Photos courtesy of iPods Around the World and Chris Beetles

Friday, 24 August 2007

Be An Aristocrat

I found this silly game on Reasonable Robinson's Gullibility blog this morning and decided to have a wee go for the hell of it - I am a sucker for these daft quizzes and word scramblers. Have a bash for yourself if you are as bored and geeky as I am.

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Baroness Agnes Mildew the Dulcet of Mousehole by Sea
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Maybe 30-something isn't so bad?

I promised my 70-year old mother I would not blog about this, but she knows I am a dreadful liar, so she will expect this anyway...

She called me this morning and passed the time of day. There was then a bit of a silence and she sheepishly said, "I must tell you something, actually..."
"Yes?" I asked, expecting the latest gossip about Doreen from the pensioners showing off her bloomers on the bowling green.
"Well, I've been having a lot of trouble with my piles just recently, you know..."
"Well use some Anusol, Mum," I suggested.
"That's the point, I have been doing, but you know, when you have 'internal piles', you have to use your finger."
Too much information, I thought...
"So, last night, I woke up in agony and stuck some up my bottom. But it wasn't Anusol. I squirted a load of toothpaste up there by accident. Bloody hell, it hurt, you know!"
When I had stopped roaring with laughter at her embarrassment and discomfort, she went on to tell me that it had sorted out the pain incredibly well.

Nothing like Colgate for giving you that 'ring of confidence', eh?

A hex on being 30-something...

My mother will tell anyone who cares to listen to her that her 30s were the best years of her life and that if she could go back to any time, it would be then.

I demur on this opinion, as I have discovered that being in my 30s sucks. I really hate it - for a number of reasons, which I shall share with you, whether you like it or not.

I am too young to have developed official memory loss, so why can’t I say a sentence without using ‘thimgummy’, ‘whatshisface’, ‘you know what I mean’. Example: “That Benito whatsisname out of that film with Michael Douglas and his wife, her out of Zorro. That film…Cocaine…Drugs…something to do with drugs. What was it? I think somebody won an Oscar or summat.” Nobody is any the wiser for my clue-giving and I resort to Wikipedia to search on Mr Douglas’s filmography. I discover the film is ‘Traffic’ and his co-star is Benicio del Toro.

Because I am single. Most men of my age, or thereabouts, are either happily married or happily gay. This leaves me with callow youths or lecherous gimps. I have tried a callow youth and when he called his Mummy at 10pm to ask for a late night pass, I made a sharp exit. A lecherous gimp is just too awful to bear again. Imagine walking out with a bloke your neighbours mistake for your father?

Throwing things in the bin without realising it. Over the last month, I have, while distracted, thrown £10, a fresh cream scone, my clean knickers and a full packet of fags into the bin. I have recovered them all, as I say out loud to myself; surely I’ve not put them in the bin? Oh yes, I have. The knickers didn’t come out clean, I confess, and I didn’t eat the scone. Its scattering of fag ash didn’t improve the flavour.

Talking out loud to myself repeatedly. This is becoming a concern to me and I am too embarrassed to tell anyone, so keep it secret, will you? I talk aloud to myself all the time. I tell myself things, then berate myself, then tell me to go screw myself. It’s one long bickering session. I even grow bored of myself and tell me to shut up. One of my most satisfying soliloquies was two nights ago when I stumbled across some junk on the telly. I blurted out some strong expletives at the quality of the programme, told myself off for swearing, and then told me to “Bugger off and stop being so sanctimonious.” I went to bed to get away from my hypocrisy.

I can’t lose weight! All through my 20s, all I had to do was hoist myself up from the settee, go to the gym a bit and eat lots of fish and salads. OK, I don’t go to the gym any more, but I vacuum the house regularly and I play football using the kitten, but I only have to look at a lean prawn now and I am Mr Blobby.

I get spots. This is grossly unfair. I had skin as clear as a limpid pool during my teens, much to the envy of my zit-faced peers. Spots have now decided to have a rave on my face. I never subscribe to the glossy magazines’ advice as to never squeeze your ‘blemishes’ (talk about euphemisms – haha!), so I walk around with angry red pinch marks and weeping scabs all over my cheeks, forehead, chin and nose.

I am still studying. Oh blimey, you’d have thought I’d had enough at school and university, wouldn’t you? But, no. In my wisdom, I enrolled on an English degree (part-time) and am now reading Pride & Prejudice for the 58th time, and it still doesn’t get better.

I have no ambition. All I want to do is work for Eddie who runs the grocery store at the back of my house. This is probably because I am a bit sweet on him, but his wife scares the pants off me, so it wouldn’t work out, I reckon.

I ‘feel the cold’. My extremities now turn blue and white when the sun goes in, and I walk around the house, even in the height of summer, with thick socks and a fleece on. I used to take great delight in putting my icy cold feet onto my ex-boyfriend’s back. No wonder he left in the dead of night...

So, I have come to the conclusion that the 30s are rubbish and I should like to hibernate for a few years until I hit 40. Unfortunately, this is not to be, as I have a mortgage and bills to pay, and somehow, I am pretty sure that the authorities wouldn’t be particularly empathetic to my problems. If, however, you can sympathise with my plight and should like to help me out, please send any subsistence cheques to…oh hell, I have forgotten my address now…

Monday, 20 August 2007

Hex Your Boss...

Our only reader is probably sick and tired of hearing of ways to hex ex partners, and simply wants some wiley ways to throw a sickie from work. Well, having spent literally fifteen minutes hard research on this topic, I have come up with some water-tight excuses for getting out of that ear-bleedingly awful meeting, avoiding the end of the month accounts or even snarking from the collection for the miserable personnel officer who is leaving next week.

In addition to these wonderful ailments, I can also show you how to degrade your thick superior without him or her ever even realising it - these have worked for me time and again as my bosses have been so stupid, they have always thought I was showing adulation and kudos - idiots!

Sick Note Certainties...

1. APROSEXIA. A pearler for sickies. Means 'Inability to concentrate'. Dear Miss Jennings, my aprosexia was severe today and led to me requiring a day off in order to recover. With its blatant reproductive (and possibly gynae if mentioned by a woman) undertones, no-one is likely to query this one.

2. CARDIALGIA. Sounds like a severe heart complaint. Literally means heartburn. The minute you mention 'cardio', everyone tip-toes around you with reverence...

3. ERGASIOPHOBIA. To describe oneself as being a chronic ergasiophobe will allow you every sickie in the book. To suffer with this means you have an aversion to work.

4. Dear Mr Forbes-Smythe, Unfortunately, my doctor has discovered that I have succumbed to CLINOMANIA and has recommended that I take at least three weeks off to recouperate. This is a chronic illness and may recur in the future.
CLINOMANIA is the inability to get out of bed...

5. If you have the misfortune to have a total bitch as your line manager, go to her superior and explain that due to your CYNOPHOBIA you must ask to be moved to another department. Cynophobia is the morbid dread of dogs.

Insults Masquerading as Compliments...

1. If asked, by a dullard, what you think of his/her recent reports, exclaim, gushingly, that they are a total work of HEBETUDE and breath-takingly so. Hebetude is sheer stupidity.

2. So tell me, Polly, what do you think of our new manager, Marmaduke? He's a smasher, what? Reply that he is a wonderfully REBARBATIVE character, especially when he attempts to corner you at the photocopier and breathe garlic fumes up your nostrils. To be Rebarbative is to be repulsive, off-putting and daunting.

3. Your boss reckons he/she has been visiting the gym on a regular basis and now has the physique of a racing snake. When asked to inspect his/her toned calves and thighs, respond that they are positively TREMELLOSE and a credit to all his/her sweat and toil on the running machine. You are simply explaining that aforesaid legs are jelly-like.

4. Your hated colleague is finally leaving and you have been asked to provide the leaving speech. "OK everyone, let's hear it for Gervaise and give him the DYSLOGY he deserves." A Dyslogy is the opposite of eulogy and means uncomplimentary remarks.

5. The young upstart, new to the firm, has once again curried favour with the boss and now way surpasses you in salary. Inform him that you are so pleased to have such an OLIGOPHRENIC colleague to work with. He will latch on to the -phrenic suffix and consider it to be complimentary about his intelligence. Indeed, it means feeble mindedness and severe mental retardation.

Practise these words on a daily basis and soon you will be a master at nonchalantly throwing them into conversation. People will either scurry off to find a dictionary, only to forget what it is you have said, or they will think you are an eccentric nutter and leave you to get on with more pressing things such as answering your Blog comments.

Of paramount importance to these words is your delivery. Always behave pathetically when delivering your sick-note and be completely sycophantic when uttering your insults. You will continue to confuse and baffle, which is exactly how it should be in the workplace.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Horoscopes, Mr Right and Animal Spirituality

“A relationship may be the center of your world today as you pull back from other social obligations. Even though your intention is to stay centered, your ruling planet Mars is moving toward expansive Jupiter through next week, making you a bit restless. Practice self-restraint; wait a few more days before riding the big wave forward.”

From time to time, out of sheer desperation, I stupidly subscribe to daily email horoscopes and the above was waiting for me in my Inbox this morning.

So, a relationship, today, may be the centre of my world. Well, the only relationship I am likely to have today is with the kettle, my cigarettes and this computer. And that suits me fine, to be honest with you!

For months now, horoscopes and clairvoyants have been telling me that Mr Right is waiting for me and I will meet him in the next 12 months. Actually, that isn’t what I want to hear. I would have preferred to know that Joshua’s Gold was going to romp home in the 7.45 at Catterick on Friday with odds-on of 9-2. I would have stuck a tenner on it, then.

My ageing father frequently stares at me with incredulity when he hears of my dating exploits and quest to find Mr Right. His question, blurted in self-righteous Liverpudlian indignation is: ‘Where dz’yer get dese daft sods from, Agnes?”
“From the Internet, Pater,” is my response.
“Well, why don’ ch’yer gerrows more, yer daf’ bugger?” he will ask.
“Because there is nowhere around here to go apart from The Chimes and that is full of Hell’s Angels from Northwich and oddballs in slippers, who smell and want to hug me…”
“Well, how yer gonna meess someone, dzen?”
“From the Internet, Pater,”…And so, Groundhog Day commences…

I need to stay centred today. Well, I only ever list to one side when I have partaken of lots of alcohol, and as I am not drinking at the moment, I am very upright. Sometimes, when the TV is really crap, my eyes will get a bit crossed and everything looks skew-whiff, but apart from that, I am a very centred (or should that be, self-centred?) person.

I don’t like the idea of Mars moving towards expansive Jupiter making me ‘restless’. That sounds like one of the cats is going to contract fleas, which will then bite my ankles remorselessly making me behave as though I have St. Vitus’ Dance. I have thus taken the liberty of de-fleaing them, which they hate, but they have run off now, so I can at least leave my bloater fish paste sarnies on the arm of the settee without them nicking a bite.

Practise self-restraint. No, I won’t! I have one joy in my life, and that is to smoke. I am always on a miserable, bloody, boring diet because I only have to look at a slice of toast and I am the Michelin Man; I don’t drink; and the last time I got jiggy with someone, the UK was pre-decimalisation (or so it feels). So, I am going to smoke away like Puffing Billy today.

I have decided to unsubscribe from the Horrorscopes as words such as ‘quincunx’ (which always sounds vaguely rude), cusp and tripartite (or is that to do with politics?) make me feel as though they are trying too hard to make the astrologers sound as if they are scientific and know what they are doing.

From now on, I shall use more traditional methods of predicting the future, such as, if Norman, the kitten, squeaks when I squeeze his head, it will rain. He has not been wrong yet. And if the rabbits are getting jiggy, it might rain heavily. They haven’t been wrong either. Animals really are in tune with the spiritual world, you know…

Aww...Thump!...I have just got another horoscope message warning me of 'emotional disclosure'...if our only reader scans this, can you ignore everything I have disclosed emotionally, please?

Friday, 17 August 2007

Thursday, 16 August 2007

How to be a Celebrity...So it Would Seem...

It recently came to my attention that despite being quite well read - Turgenev, Ibsen, Dostoyevsky, Enid Blyton etc. - I appear to be reading the wrong stuff and am thus so far in the dark ages, that I haven’t got a clue about pop culture and its ‘celebrity’ denizens. My children frequently tell me about Xtina, J-Lo, Mary-Kate & Ashley, Britney, Justin amongst others, who seem to share a similarity in that none of them possess surnames. (Is this a new religion or something?). I rarely turn on the idiot’s lantern which glowers in the corner of my living room for fear of accidentally stumbling across “I’m A Big Brother, Get My X-Factor In The Jungle” and feeling my IQ drain into negative figures. So, I have no idea of Who’s Who in the 21st century.

To remedy this, I decided to do some hefty research and ‘get with it’, as my ageing mother would say. To this end, I popped over the back to the chippy and asked R Donna if I could pinch her old glossy magazines as I fancied reading something which I didn’t have to think hard about and had lots of colourful pictures. She didn’t skimp and sent me home armed with about ten OK! magazines, which must account for at least an eighth of the Amazonian rainforest.

The first edition I thumbed through was dated May 15th 2007 and its headlines shrieked: “Kerry with her girls: I won’t let the social take my kids” and “Jordan Exclusive: I can’t wait to have sex with my dead husband”. Wow! I thought. I always thought Jordan was a fairly nice-looking, fairly liberal Muslim country – surely they aren’t condoning necrophilia? And who is Kerry? She looks vaguely familiar as some gobjaw off frozen food adverts

I flicked to the Celebrity Round-Up page, to get a crash course in who these people are and discovered that a football ‘hunk’ called John Terry thinks Frank Lampard is one of the ‘most fanciable men in the Chelsea squad.’ Gosh. That’s really enlightening, I considered. I shall sleep better for knowing that…I haven’t a clue whether Terry’s Taste is Frankly Fantastic, as I still don't know what Lampard looks like.

And then, “James Blunt gets jiggy with Lindsay Lohan”. Now I know both of these people. I know James Blunt because he sang that excruciating piece of pap, You’re Beautiful, which made me want to squirt a can of WD40 down his throat to lubricate his vocal cords. And I know of Lindsay Lohan because she appears to have been banged more times than the outside lavatory door…The last time Lindsay slept with James was on April 15th when they took a hotel room together. Well, I think we should declare that a national holiday, actually. It’s so momentously newsworthy, and us Brits could do with a few extra Bank Holidays to keep up with the rest of Europe.

Keira Knightley went on to bleat that she’s “sick of her high-profile existence and would rather be an ‘insignificant speck’”. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Oh Yeah! Of course we believe that, Keira. Of course you wish you were working at the local council, filing addendum reports for the end of year accounts, wearing last year’s fashions from Top Shop and New Look. My heart bleeds for you, it really does…Lying little bugger.

Why do ‘famous’ people moan about being in the spotlight? Why do they hate having to sign autographs for their adoring fans? Why do they begrudge us 'commoners' breathing in their same airspace? And why do they sell their wedding stories to glossy mags and then take other publishers to court for invasion of their privacy? There is a simple choice to make: go into acting/modelling/’showbiz’ or work as a librarian...

Towers of London may take part-time job to fund career”. Hell’s Teeth! I thought – have the ravens deserted one of England’s most famous buildings and a biblical plague is set to ravage Great Britain as the Monarchy crumbles? Nope. “Towers of London” is a band having cash flow problems. I guess that means their music is so crap, nobody wants to buy their records and they are having to set up as painter-decorators in a white van touring the Home Counties.

It appears patently obvious to me that to be considered a celebrity in this day and age, one doesn’t distinguish oneself by having talent: one simply has to have the capacity to drink lots of vodka cocktails with fancy names, hang out in night clubs, get blonde hair extensions put in, slather over the false tan, wear as little as possible, have frequent punch-ups with one’s partner (male or female) and then vomit over the nearest paparazzo.

Utter Brilliance.

And to think, I used to do that practically every weekend in my teens (there weren’t any paparazzi, I must admit, but there are some dubious photographs of me knocking about on my friends’ walls).

So, why aren’t I famous, then? Why is my only claim to fame in having a letter read out on BBC Radio 2’s Wake Up to Wogan under the pseudonym, Betty Picksiznose?

Well, I reckon I know the secret to this.

First and foremost, I don’t speak in a pseudo-strong regional accent: my accent is pretty bland unless I get very hot under the collar and then I lapse into Posh Scouse. And it takes a lot to rile me up - generally, I am just plain normal-speaking.
Nor do I have enormous knockers (cf. link to Jordan...ahem!) which would have your eye out if I side-swiped you.
My hair is all my own, and my teeth don’t light up in the dark – too many black coffees, diet Cokes, and Lamberts to do that, I’m afraid.
I believe that sunglasses should only be worn when the sun is actually shining, and fake tan always makes me look like Judith Chalmers.
I'm definitely not a size zero, whatever that is. (Question to our one American reader, if you are thinner than a size zero, do you vanish? (Question to our one British reader - what is the UK equivalent of size zero?))
And I only vomit uncontrollably when I have to clean the cats' litter tray out...

But ultimately, I can string a sentence together using words of more than one syllable and that is my downfall. I must stop speaking and writing coherently. Right now.

“So, later, baybz! Next stop, Big Bruvva!”

Monday, 13 August 2007

Inspiration for HexMyEx...

In some ways, this story may reveal to you exactly why I am now a bitter, twisted person, determined to unite all bitter exes to hex their former partners.

Being left out of the next MATs amateur production, a farce called Noises Off (which actually drives you mental after a bit, what with all the busty blondes running scantily clad through different doors, being chased by lecherous old men in blazers), I was approached to put on a pantomime for the children of Muscat as many of the expat children had never seen a traditional English panto before.

This was quite a challenge for me as I had only ever worked backstage once, when I was at college and fancied the Drama teacher. I was put off him dramatically (do you like that pun, eh?) during one rehearsal as I was perched in the gallery, absent-mindedly waving the spotlight everywhere and idly picking my nose. He leched up to me and broke the most foul-smelling fart I have ever smelt in my life and I promptly vomited on his shoes. I left the college shortly after that and got a job with Barclays Bank plc…

So, to go backstage again, this time as a director, was quite a tough thing for me…Although not as tough as getting somebody to play The Dame.

I enlisted the help of all my most trusted friends to help me with the set, props, costumes etc, including my (then) husband, and my (then) best friend who had a degree in Fine Art and reckoned she could paint all the backdrops and set for me.

We worked as a fine team, all of us; my producer, Amanda, being a total rock right the way through, even when I resorted to Diazepam to help me sleep at night what with the nerves, trying to get sponsors and some of the chorus threatening to walk out on me if I made them dance with mops and brushes.

Our performances of Camelot Capers won the admiration of the British Embassy and the school principal – particularly as he got his mitts on around £10,000 from our fund-raising efforts. It was quickly established that we would put on another production ASAP, and so, bowing to inordinate pressure, we did.

We decided to perform Dick Whittington. It’s a very dull story, really, but it was the only panto script I could get my hands on for nothing. Also, I couldn’t find a part in it for myself, so I knew the pressure would be off marginally, as I had acted in and directed the first.

Same backstage team, different cast (very different, blimey – I had more Prima Donnas in this cast than Maria Carey makes stupid demands whilst on tour). But, again, the backstagers gelled magnificently.

Somewhat too magnificently…

My (then) husband took to working all the hours Allah sent (we lived in a Muslim country at the time) alongside my (so-called) best friend – the one with the Art degree. At midnight one night, I called them at the school and asked what on earth they were doing at that time…Were they having a romp on the canvas or summat?

Well, yes, they were. And I was the last to hear about it. And I was the warped lunatic who gave it my blessing, initially. Only to come to my senses about five days later, when I was stuck in, baby-sitting the kids once again while they went to the pub quiz and got jiggy.

I didn’t stay in that country for much longer – the (then) husband saw to it that I was removed from his sight after two months and dispatched to the UK as a gibbering wreck.

Now you may understand why Matt & I set up HexMyEx!

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Liars Anon...Beware Internet Dating!

Now, dear reader, strictly speaking, Paul was not a date. We came very close to dating, but for reasons you will discover, the actual date never happened. Paul advertised himself on with an absolutely stunning photograph - without a doubt the most attractive-looking man online.

I decided to complete his questionnaire and add a pithy comment in the box provided...something along the lines of, "You are drop dead gorgeous, what on earth are you doing amongst the sociopathic misogynists listed here?"...well, perhaps not quite as succinct as that, but you catch my drift...To my delight, he responded accordingly, and thus our virtual dating commenced.

We started chatting via MSN and found we had a great deal in common - the same types of music; similar sense of humour; outlook on life, attitudes to parenting etc., and a mutual, physical attraction, which was very rare for me online. No matter how many times I stated that I was seeking tall men between the ages of 35-45, every stunted grandad would contact me with a lecherous grin, a mouth full of false teeth and nursing an ever-expanding hernia. If I applied the condition "Only 'sorted' men need contact me", meaning, no emotional hang-ups, I would get every depressed, love-sick Romeo getting in touch, telling me I had 'kind eyes', looked a lovely girl, and they needed someone to help them mend a broken heart. "What about pulling yourself together and stop moaning, instead?" I'd think, and hit 'delete'.

Mending somebody's broken heart sounds too much like hard work to me - I've had my fill of my own and am not about to inflict that burden on someone else...seems a bit selfish to me, to be honest...

So, an online romance appeared to be developing. We flirted gently with each other, testing the water, and then more blatantly. He removed his profile from the website and I stopped visiting it quite so much (always keep your options open, my mother says). We arranged to meet one Friday night. Unfortunately, Paul lived on the other side of the country to me, so a quick drink in the pub was not on the cards, but as he did a lot of travelling, we waited for his next trip to the northwest. He hinted that he'd like to sleep over at my house, what with me having 'two spare bedrooms', and tempted though I was, safety prevailed over lust and I refused. He arranged a night in the Manchester Travel Inn instead and sent me through his booking confirmation so that I could verify that he wasn't a 'nutter' - his words, not on...

I was full of eager anticipation and excitement that Friday. Paul texted me in the morning to tell me he was taking possession of a brand new company car - a Jaguar XJ-something or other (Mr Clarkson, if you ever pick this book up, I am getting educated through Born to be Riled, and really ought to know this spec, but I have forgotten if it had 'breeding', 'torque' and 'welly'...sounds like a chatty farmer to me...) - and I would be the first to be treated to a spin! Whizzo! Things were really looking up! All day, I mentally planned what I would wear, checked and double-checked the route to Manchester Travel Inn, and made sure I had some decent matching underwear to put on, without the brand name 'George' stitched across them...just in case...

I was late getting home from work that night. The weather was appalling: lashing down rain, howling gales, and my heart sank at the thought of my mascara running down my face at 8pm to meet my lipstick and my hair taking on the texture of coconut matting. But, ever the optimist, I resolved to dig out my daughter's manky No. 17 waterproof make-up and wreck my already-ageing skin with it, just for the sake of a fun-filled, flirtatious night.

Having waded through the swamp to my back door, I fell in to the house with relief and saw the answer machine light flashing. The last person I expected to hear was Paul. He'd rung at 5pm, stating that he had gone to the car, ready to set off on his drive, and his brand new Jag had been nicked. Well, I don't know who was more disappointed. Me at the lack of date, or him at having his car stolen. He'd turned his phone off - no doubt down at the police station, I thought as I tried to ring him.

I did what all stood-up dates do - made myself a fried egg sarnie. Unfortunately, whilst stomping around in an ever-growing strop, I let the oil get too hot and upon cracking the eggs into the pan, the oil spat spectacularly, hitting me fair and square between the eyes, and all down the bridge of my nose. The blisters which immediately decided to have a party on my face were a focal point for many days and I still bear the scars, three months on. Shares in Boots' concealer stick have risen sharply since my mishap.

I heard nothing from Paul for two days until he texted me to say that the police had recovered the vehicle. It had been used in an attempted building society ram raid in Newcastle. He didn't say if he was getting a new car or not. Don't think the front grille would have looked too shiny after that, though.

So, more online chat, more texts, the odd phone call and then the request to meet again due to a trip to Manchester. I accepted, offered to cook us dinner for two as it was midweek and set about creating a feast fit for somebody who isn't too fussy about what they eat. Actually, I am doing myself a disservice, here: I'm actually a pretty good cook when I am given something adventurous. So, I made 'seared scallops' on a bed of spinach; marinaded swordfish steaks with julienned freshly steamed vegetables in a bitter orange drizzle; chocolate banana mousse; and macaroons with freshly ground coffee. This can be interpreted as seafood and leaves; fish and greens; sickly chocolate gunk; biccies and a brew. I am from the north, after all.

At 4.30pm on the day of our date, I received a text stating that he was with his friend in hospital. She had been attacked on her way home from a club and he was giving her moral support. I was quite impressed. A man with an empathetic side! But if her parents were with her, as he stated, why did he need to stay? I gave myself a slap across the cheeks for being so self-centred and texted my condolences back.

Two days later, there was another invite to meet. The gloss was starting to dull by this stage, I must admit, so I wasn't that surprised when, an hour before we were supposed to meet, and I hadn't even bothered to get showered, he texted to say aforesaid friend had committed suicide.
Now, I may appear dreadfully cynical and hard with my narration of events, and I apologise for any offence caused. But either he was a dreadful jinx, or a whopping liar. And I suspected the latter. In fact, my radar was going overtime and I seemed to be zoning in on Homo Sapiens Marriedus.

I withdrew from contacting him, but I received a blow-by-blow account of his latest misfortunes via text. I declined to respond to the next invitation to meet. I had a sneaking suspicion that he would contact me at the last moment to tell me he had just found out he was pregnant and was struggling with morning sickness...

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Flex My Pex

I guess, if I was into Blog name abuse, I could refer to this post as Flex My Pex. Actually, that’s not a bad title, abuse or not, so in it goes…

Once upon a time, before I saw the light and decided that I couldn’t care less about having arms like Madonna, legs like Catherine Zeta Jones and a backside like Jennifer Lopez, I used to attend the gym on a very regular basis.

By regular, I mean every day, even when on holiday – the hotel’s facilities must include a gym, I used to bleat to the (then) husband. He didn’t care. As long as he could sit by the pool watching the top totty slathering sun cream on themselves (A Hex On Thee!).

One particular morning, having dropped the wee babes at school, I tootled off to the gym to commence my thigh-jittering work-out. It was a jolly good one, I can tell you and I went ‘for the burn’ as they say…Although, I must confess, it never burned me, it just reduced me to tears on the odd occasion and made me shout curses which should never be repeated in a public place or whilst sober.

As I staggered out of the gym and hauled myself into my Jeep, I flopped like a lump of lard on the seat and lit up a cigarette as quickly as my shaking fingers would allow…yes, yes, I know that defeated the whole object, but I do enjoy my smokes!

Without due care or consideration, I swung the Jeep from the parking bay and heard an almighty can opener ripping into its side. Concomitantly, the Jeep’s bonnet went upwards, as did my eyebrows and I took my foot off the accelerator, pretty damned quick!

Being a bit of a muppet where cars are concerned, I decided that the best thing to do would be to reverse and attempt to rectify the initial manoeuvre. The can-opening sound intensified, but at least the car came back to level ground.

I hauled myself out, and stared at the side of the car. The Municipality, in all its infinite wisdom, had decided to leave a concrete lamp-post base, sans lamp, in the middle of the parking area, and my car had decided to have a fight with it…Indeed, I was not the first, judging by the veritable rainbow of stripes across this lump of sadistic tendencies. The poor Jeep looked like it had gone in for open heart surgery and the surgeon had nipped off for a coffee and a fag…

As I stood there, askance, wearing clothes which were illegal in a Middle Eastern country, a local chap pulled up and asked if I wanted some help. He kindly called the police for me…called them again…then again…and finally, an officer pitched up, rattled something off to me and told me to get out of the way. The young chap told me his name was A.D…or at least, that is what I thought he said, but he was actually saying Eddie. As he looked like Eddie Murphy…ahem…Well, if that’s the case, then I look like Nicole Kidman, despite being less than stick-thin, dark and definitely under 6 feet tall…He did invite me for dinner at his mother’s, though, as they were slaughtering a goat for National Day…I politely declined.

I got very little help from the insurers. Their main concern was if the concrete base was OK, which left my mouth somewhat slack in gob-smackedness.

I did get my lovely car repaired…eventually…and then the (then) husband decided we should sell it and get a new one…

Well, I did – I bought a Jeep Grand Cherokee, which was just bloody marvellous, even though it was automatic, which I don’t particularly like, and even though the (then) husband used to commandeer it whenever possible, even causing a veritable bash on the bonce one day as I leaned into the rear seats to sort out the ensuing WW3 between the children and he took off when the lights went green so I was flung at the windscreen much to the other drivers’ amusements.

I sold the Grand just before I left Oman to return to a life of strife, corruption, world famous psychiatry and crime in the UK. I still miss it to this day.

I now drive a Toyota Yaris…It has only one wheel trim; the bumper hangs off it; every single cup holder has crap in it: from coins to earrings, to fag-packet wrappers…But it goes…and it will do…

But at least, whilst getting rid of the Grand, I also got rid of the husband! HexMyEx!

Friday, 10 August 2007

Nude With Violin - For Heather!

I have never before encountered a blog request, but this is for Heather of

You see, I happened to mention that I once played a Russian hooker in a Noel Coward Play: “Nude With Violin”…And the veritable author (you know who you are, Heather!) wanted to know more…

Well, I shall tell you…if you are sitting comfortably…then I will begin…

I really, chuffing didn’t want this part. I wanted to be the young, sought after, bereaved daughter. The one whom everyone wanted to be friends with, the beautiful one, the well-spoken one.

I got lumped with playing the mad, nymphomaniac Russian princess/whore…

It was quite bizarre, that, at the time, I was attempting to teach myself Russian with a book purchased from a Charity Shop, missing the accompanying tape. I worked jolly hard on those backward Rs, I can tell you…

When I was given the part, I thanked the director graciously, as is my wont, and then set about cursing her in the most vicious manner. It backfired on me, as she called me up, unexpectedly one day and accused me of accusing HER of cronyism. I had to concede defeat and do my best.

So, I set sail to Cyprus, on leave from Oman, armed with The Idiot’s Guide to Russian, my script, factor 25 and plenty of money to buy Coral beer to see me through this nightmare.

I returned to Oman, almost word-perfect, my accent superb (apart from the fact that I couldn’t quite say “leemon-kooshon” [lemon cushion] quite right) and I had slimmed down in order to slip into a very slinky red frock.

I think I looked pretty good, actually. My red frock was very, very sexy; my legs were shaved and my Marie Claire black strappies looked OK, too. Then the Props Lady placed a dead, black chicken on my head, claiming it was a 1920s, avant-garde, art-deco piece of headgear. She pinned it to my scalp with more hairgrips than any supermodel has ever had to encounter. I was also weighed down with drapes of paste, diamond jewellery.

On my first night, my knees were shaking so much that the front row (my Russian voice coach there) could see it visibly. The ‘brondi, not wodka’ I had to drink was bloody water, and I nearly choked on it in my nerves…

When I came off stage, my friend, who had attempted to help me with my make-up, only to be brushed aside with snidey comments said, Why don’t you grab one of those chandelier crystals and stick it through your nose-ring hole…Always up for a challenge, I did so.

I got through it, and I actually got about one plaudit, to be honest with you, apart from my (then) husband, who said I did OK. I never got any flowers, like the young daughter, whom I desperately wanted to play – her boyfriend was obviously a soppy wuss, and I am not a bitter bitch, honestly…But I took my curtain call wearing a chandelier crystal through my nose…and not many people can say that…

The next play I did for the Muscat Amateur Theatre Group was Rape of the Belt, but due to Censorship in the Middle East, we had to call it Myth of the Belt…sad…

Again, I wanted to play Hera, Athiope, or Anthea…I got given the part of Hippobomene, whom everyone in the cast called ‘Hippo’…

Initially attempting to be Shakespearian and play it ‘straight’, I got naffed off after four rehearsals, and played it ‘Reet Yorkshire’, turning into a Sergeant Major extraordinaire during one of my scenes…I ousted out one drunken female who was getting on my nerves by chatting all the way through my few lines when I shouted to the waiters, ‘ “Ey, Yu, Boyz, Cum ‘ere and get this wumman outofererightnow…ontheredubble…quick march nooooowwwwww…”

She waited for me outside of the hotel and I still have the scar on my nose to prove it…

And, that, Heather, was my foray into AmDram with the MADs…One day I may tell you about the British School Muscat Players (the group I established), but that is ANOTHER story!

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Names and their meanings to HexMyEx...

Here at the HexMyEx office, your invaluable service to sort out your (once) loved ones, we have been analysing irrational fears, mainly based around ex’s names.

I, Agnes Mildew, have a morbid fear of the name Hazel, although I do like Cadbury’s Fruit & Nut still, and I adore Topic bars, which are teaming with these nuts. However, as a primary school child, a tough girl called Hazel used to hang around the local shops, coshing any youngster who looked at her in the wrong way. The fashion, at the time, was to wear a ‘flick’ in the hair (think Farah Fawcett Majors) and Hazel would stand at the bus stop with a curling brush tucked into her fringe on a permanent basis. Added to this, her mouth moved in perpetual motion, chewing an ever-hardening lump of Wrigley’s, which added to our opinion that she was a total cow. She would frequent the off license at night, purchasing single cigarettes. As pseudo Scousers, we would call these ‘Loosies’. If we had an extra 2p, we would also purchase a single match…hence the expression, ‘A loosie and a match, please’. None of us were surprised when she fell pregnant at age 16 and her first daughter was called Lucy. Her second, following a year later was called Anna. We expected the third child to be called ‘Match’.

I also intensely dislike the name Heather, as it reminds me of a ginger-haired girl from secondary school who appeared to have an incontinence problem. However, she had two really hard older sisters called, of all things, Zilla and Zelda (we called Zilla, Godzilla, when she was out of earshot.). Zilla and Zelda were both very dark girls and thus rarely got singled out for any skitting. But as Heather was a red-head, she got lots of carrot-top name calling. I generally kept out of it, being an ardent pacifist and a champion cross-country runner, and so I tended not to get beaten up by Zilla & Zelda, but Heather was a smelly snitch and when I innocently commented about the pong in the library one day, she had me pulverised. I will not purchase lucky Heather from any gypsies, so please do not call at my door.

Ken is a very unfortunate name, too, in my book, although I do not have a morbid fear of it. I once had the misfortune of dating a Ken whose pathetically plaintive declarations of love left me cold. He was considerably older than me and as a nubile 30-something, he probably pinched himself every morning, despite me being on the hefty, brutish side at the time. Even in my raddled state every morning, feeling like death warmed up, I would look about 18 next to him.

Many moons ago, I was visiting a Health Clinic (as a world famous psychotherapist) and happened upon a 16 year old shouting for her daughter. As my hearing is not too great, I thought the young girl was shouting, Abby, Abby…As my ears attuned to the West Country accent, and the nurse came out to call the child’s name (no, not the mother, despite her youth), I realised it was Ebby, short for Ebony. The child was portly, blonde, rosie-cheeked and blue-eyed. The complete antithesis of an Ebony. Why do people do this to their children?

India, Sienna, Paris, Brittany, Preston, Dale, Devon etc…place names that rarely reflect the child’s very unexotic upbringing in a council estate in Runcorn. If you’re going to call a child after a place name, why not consider Blubberhouses if it is chubby; Lampeter if it looks a bit belligerent or Mouldsworth if it soils its nappy more than three times an hour. Farquhar was almost called Mouldsworth, but Oswald and I realised that saddling a child with the name Mouldsworth Mildew was grossly unfair. At least Farquhar has some dignity…

So, if you are really stuck, what about John for a girl and Susan for a boy?