Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Herein 'lies' Lady Gregson

Right, so this is my second post of the day, and more in keeping with HexMyEx...I hope!

I am sure that many of you receive Spam emails from allegedly extremely rich people offering to let you have a share of their vast wealth as long as you reply to their personal email address providing them with all your financial information, full address, date of birth and inside leg measurement. Anybody who does this has to have a vacuum located between their ears, in my personal opinion.

Generally, I just hit delete on these and think no more about them, but the following (together with my 'comments') really tickled me and I saved it for future reference. Please note, the appalling grammar and spellings belong to Lady Gregson - I have left them in intentionally!

Here writes Lady Dianne Gregson, suffering from cancerous ailment (sounds like she has started writing her epitaph already). I am marriedto Sir Richard Gregson an Englishman who is dead (who, not unsurprisingly, has ever actually been alive, according to my Google research! (this also sounds scarily like she has kept him sealed in a vault somewhere in her house)). When my late husband was alivehe deposited the sum of 20 Million Great Britain (Britain??) Pounds Sterling (I would herein state that this is one of the most fantastic uses of tautology I have ever come across! The only thing missing is the £ sign...) which werederived from his vast estates and investment in capital market with his bankhere in UK.Recently, my Doctor told me that I have limited days to live due to thecancerous problems I am suffering from (I would thus assume that, since I have held onto this mail for a while, she has now snuffed it. RIP).

I have decided to donate this fund toyou (She's trusting, isn't she? How does she know I won't do a runner and buy myself a Mini Cooper S?) and want you to use this gift which comes from my husbands effort to fundthe upkeep of widows, widowers, orphans,destitute, the down-trodden, physicallychallenged children,barren-women (Well, I think I'd just hook the orphans up with the barren women and kill two birds with one stone...) and persons who prove to be genuinelyhandicapped financially (I definitely fit this description.)

I took this decision because I do not have any child (Hmmm. I am also getting the impression she didn't have much of an education, either...Do you think she'd like an orphan?) and my husband relativesare bourgeois and very wealthy persons.I do not want my husband's hard earnedmoney (er...hang on, she's just told me that it was derived from his 'vast estates' and capital investment - I wouldn't reckon there's much hard work going on there would you? Ask the National Trust to look after the estates and get your stockbroker to invest wisely. Then he can clear orf to his Club and play billiards...I wouldn't mind working as hard as him, either...) to be misused or invested into ill perceived ventures hence the reasonfor taking this bold decision.

As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the Bank inUK (The Bank is a very famous one you know. Almost as famous as The Agnes Mildew Banking Corporation). I will also issue you a Letter of Authority that will empower you as theoriginal beneficiary of this fund (Ooh, ooh, ooh! I am getting excited now! I am to be the original beneficiary! Strange, though that my email address wasn't in the 'To' line of the mail...just 'undisclosed recipients'. Do you think she is having me on? Cheating old witch!).

My happiness is that I lived a life worthyof emulation. Please assure me that you will act just as I have statedherein.Hope to hear from you soon (She's starting to sound a bit more chipper now, isn't she? I almost expected a 'Cheerio!' then!).You can contact me through my personal email address: dgregson02@googlemail.comMadam Dianne Gregson (She told me she was Lady Dianne Gregson! She's either fibbing or the cancer has made her lose her marbles...)

So, am I a hard-hearted cynic and this lady desperately needs my help, or am I sharper than all the knives in the cutlery drawer? I don't even think that question needs dignifying with an answer!

Sometimes Spam can be SO much fun! At least it makes a change from offering to extend my penis...

A Blatant Plug...

Every time I try to write this post, my blasted internet connection dies - is it trying to tell me something, I wonder?

Anyway, if you can't plug your own writing, who else is going to do it for you?

HexMyEx is an attempt at humour, but there is actually a more serious side to me which I am getting out in a new blog - Annie's Rexia...say it fast enough and you'll probably get more of an idea what it's about.

If you don't like it, don't tell me as I am a coward! If you do like it, please leave a comment - and if you think it will ever help anyone, pass the URL on.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Monday Morning Musings...

Mr Parsnip totally spoiled our Sunday 'Have-We-Won-The-Lottery' dreaming session this weekend by ruining the girls' viewing of X-Factor on Saturday night, turning channels and watching the balls being called out in real time. I was sitting in the conservatory and thus couldn't make myself heard to ask him to stop. I could also see them popping out of the strange bingo-esque machine and thus knew we didn't stand a chance. I was a bit miffed with him for wrecking our ritual (my alliteration improves with each blog, I reckon...). But I guess it was a good thing, as we weren't really talking yesterday morning, what with me accusing him of being 'too quiet' after I had made his ears bleed with all the threats of bludgeoning the ex to death with the butt of a shotgun. I guess a, 'Mffmm. Nuthin',' wouldn't really have worked in a dreaming session, would it?

Anyway, yesterday was a day of colours. There was certainly some colourful language, that's for sure!

We had our very first dinner guest at our new dining table and chairs - a school pal of #1 who is one of the nicest young ladies you could ever meet and since she ate utterly everything from her plates, I offered to adopt her. #1 and 2 gave me looks which, if they could kill, Mr P would now be choosing urns for my remains. We have a bit of a Sunday tradition these days: I stand on my feet for three hours, cooking a roast dinner which I don't eat (being pescetarian) and then stand on my feet for an hour cleaning it up. It's really good fun you know. I enjoy it almost as much as I enjoy cleaning the cat's litter tray, my third favourite task after ironing, and banging my head repeatedly on the wall...

Anyway, I was informed by #2 that I was asking 'the wrong things'. All I said was, How's the love life, E? She giggled, told me it was a bit slow and then I got my head ripped off by #2.

Blimey, I retorted, I was only being polite.


Sorry, I mumbled, and moved onto less volatile subjects such as how she felt about ousting Alastair Darling and shoving every HIP that has been ordered per house sale up his rectum.

The girls have moved schools quite a lot in their relatively short lives and their first UK school was in a village called Alvanley. #1 still keeps in touch with some of her oppoes from there but I nearly fell off my chair when she informed me that Emma N had undergone an abortion. Mr P thought my shock and horror was play-acting, but I genuinely felt sick and a real sense of 'There But For the Grace of God Go I'. Emma N is the same age as #1 and always was a bit of a precocious young lady who was encouraged to wear the latest fashions and make-up by her mother, who was convinced she had model quality. The child has obviously been hot-housed into being a nubile and is exploring every avenue of it.

Fu..Blo..Fu...Oh My Goodness! I expostulated, remembering just in the nick of time that we had polite company. No! You're winding me up. Don't fib. That's not true, is it? Is it?

Yup! retorted #1, #2 and E, somewhat smugly: Her best friend told us.

Some fu...blo...flippin' best friend she is, eh? I answered in abject horror.

Aren't girls bitchy? I guess I was the same at High School, but all I remember of my High School days is trogging off to the library to swot up, filling up the KitKat machine in the Science block and, once, taking advantage of my powers as Deputy Head Girl and telling Sporty Spice off who was a pain in the neck at our school.

Apart from meeting that obnoxious dwarf, Jerry Marsden, and telling him that my father had sold him his first guitar, that is my only claim to fame. What a life I have led, eh?

(Caveat: Get Mr P on the subject of famous people and he would have you believe he is best friends with Ozzy Osbourne, John Craven, Sue Lawley, some very rich Arabic Sheikh and Marylin Monroe...he put in phone lines for them when he worked for British Telecom...)
(Caveat #2. He didn't ever go to Marylin's house. I made that up...He's not THAT old...yet...)

Within minutes of the dining table being cleared and #1 suspecting she was being let off clearing the fat from the roasting dish, she scarpered with E, leaving me, Mr P and #2 to tidy the detritus. Mr P came over all romantic and crooned to me in the kitchen, whirling me around the lino. I would have preferred, "It had to be you" by Frank Sinatra. I got "Why Can't I be You?" by The Cure. Why does he want to be me? Does he like my underwear? Is it my luxuriant head of hair which he covets? Or is it the fact that on particularly 'windy' days, I can burb 'Abu Dhabi' and get away with all the syllables. Anyway, I shall be doing a stock-take of my knickers over the next few weeks, that's for sure...

Then it was Sunday Papers time. I have the attention-span of a goldfish with Alzheimer's and so I find it very difficult to sit still for more than about five minutes unless there is a crossword or a burning blog for me to work on. But one thing which is guaranteed to make me sit down are the supplements. Now, I guess this is a very long preamble into the post I originally intended to write, but some of our more loyal readers may recall that I wrote a post about Sunday Supplements some time ago. Read it. Here. You Must. Or I won't speak to you again...


Gosh, there's an echo in here and an amazing mass of tumbleweed suddenly. Will somebody stop that tolling bell?

Now this week's were corkers, and the one which really stood out for me in the Healthy Living catalogue was this (and bear with me here as I thought it was for candles...)


Ever been caught out without a toilet on hand? Now the problem is solved! Portable Loo is invaluable in a bedroom, car, boat or caravan. Also useful for those confined to wheelchairs and young children when travelling long distances...blah, blah, blah.

Now, correct me if I am wrong, but what does this ↑ have to do with power cuts? Does it provide a warming glow so you don't bang your shins on sharp table corners whilst fumbling in the dark? Does it give you some heat when the temperature has dropped below -2degC? Does it give you warming liquid to refresh your palate? No, don't answer that one. I just got a shudder thinking a bit too laterally...

What utter codswallop, eh?!

About two months ago, I had to attend a meeting with a larger-than-life Texan chappie who had set up his own business selling disability aids - indeed his 'knork' is advertised in this catalogue, and I did swipe one from him for Mr Parsnip who likes to make life as easy as possible for himself. But he was really pushing a bottom wiper which you can see aside.

I'm afraid I got a bit hysterical as this 6'4" Texan attempted to show me how to wrap the tissue in the holder, reach around to the anus, and wipe his bum.

When I got back to my desk, I demonstrated it in the Biblical sense - i.e. how it was meant to be used. And then I used it in a very non-Biblical sense, wherein men were coming to me to ask if I could give their wives any lessons...

Hmmm. There is some rubbish bandied about in newspapers, isn't there? Not least in the business and politics section.

Anyway, after that, Mr P introduced #2 to the wonders of Geeks on YouTube and they sat and watched very silly films about Star Wars wherein I went for a soak in the bath and pondered the paradoxes of Men and Women.

For example: Mr Parsnip had offered to come up and sit with me in the bath whilst I soaked, as soon as his Star Wars video had finished. Being of a pseudo-altruistic nature, I told him: No, no, no, you STAY and watch your films. That's fine. Spend quality time with #2.

I got into the bath and immediately started to fester in the event that he didn't come up. I argued with myself more than I argue with real people, attempting to make myself see reason. The sad fact of the matter is, when most of the time women say No, don't worry, they really do mean the opposite and I always abhorred that. But now I have succumbed, too.

It must be the menopause...but I'm only 38?

I have obviously turned into my mother...

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Oh, to be a Winner!

Every Sunday morning, Mr Parsnip and I lie in our bed, smoking (disgusting habit, I know), drinking coffee (me) and tea (him) and speculating as to whether we have actually won the National Lottery this weekend. We had a massive dreaming session about it this Sunday, which continued even in the pub where we went for lunch. We hold off checking the numbers for hours, preferring to expound at length as to what we would do with our millions, which cars we would buy, what dreams we would realise, whether we would move house, and if we would put #1 into a High Security Boarding School from which she would never escape.

Our dreams this weekend were as follows:

Mr Parsnip:
1. To give up work and open his own photography business. He is a budding amateur photographer and, indeed, you can see some of his work on Words and Pictures but he is rubbish at keeping it up-to-date despite my nagging him, so don't hold your breath...
2. To buy some doozy sports car (he is fast approaching the 19th anniversary of his 21st birthday, so I guess this is some mid-life crisis thing in the hope that he can pick up blonde babes with his fanny magnet)
3. To get an all-singing, all-dancing camera which does all but set up the shots, complete with dirty big lenses and what-nots.

1. To open an Eating Disorders Clinic for adults in Cheshire
2. To have a Jeep Grand Cherokee (I still miss mine from my Oman days!)
3. To have an unlimited account with Karen Millen and Red or Dead
4. To send #1 daughter to a High Security Boarding School from which she cannot escape.

Strangely, what we both then agreed upon was that we wouldn't necessarily want to up-sticks and move to some Country Pile in the Home Counties. We'd be quite happy in our 3-bed semi, complete with new conservatory...but we would do something about the shops which border the rear of our property.

The row of shops consists of: hairdresser; Post Office; hardware store; pharmacy; chip shop; off license and general grocery store. The rear of the shops, atop which sit flats, is seen from our bedroom window and it is a total eyesore. There are enormous ventilation pipes climbing up the brickwork; ugly battered outhouses with felt roofing peeling off, derelict fences, and the ubiquitous Carling Black Label cans litter the unadopted road which separates us. It is a bit of a torrid mess.

Unfortunately, where there is Carling Black Label (a very cheap lager, favoured by the IQ-challenged 'yoof' in this area), there are idiots and trouble-makers. The first summer I spent here, I was on the phone to the police that often they started dropping in for a cup of tea and a natter, on the off-chance I wasn't doing anything. One particular night was memorable whence I had just come out of the shower and had donned only my knickers. The yoof had entered my garden and were terrorising the bunnies, Lambert and Butler. I literally *hung* out of the window, topless and shameless, and squawked out a chorus of expletives and profanities, whilst threatening to castrate them. The girls were mortified. But only by the fact that I was sans bra...The final straw came when I had to call out the Fire Brigade as the rotten little pukes had decided to set fire to the rear of the hardware store where they keep the gas bottles. It took two big, burly firemen to give me a hug to stop me from crying and sobbing in frustration...I guess I put the hand-wringing hysterics on a little bit as one of them really was rather dishy! (I was wearing clothes by this stage, I hasten to add...)

So, I galvanised myself after that, and instead of leaving matters to the police, took matters into my own hands and petitioned our local MP. Actually, I bombarded him with letters of complaint. And within a week, I received a letter on House of Commons letter-headed paper (I must confess to feeling the fear of God when I first saw the portcullis and chains logo on the rear of the envelope and thought someone had finally caught up with me from my own mis-spent youth...) and our MP promised me action. And indeed, action happened, much to my relief and chuffed-ness! We received a nightly patrol, and the scum-bag element moved on to pastures new.

Only once after that was there any trouble and I unfortunately didn't witness it, but our former Post Master, Geoff, told me about it in gleeful detail. It seems a gang of snots were causing trouble on the common which fronts the shops and one of the locals reported it to the police. Within minutes, a squad car pulled up and a rather enormous officer unfolded himself from his tiny patrol vehicle. The main protagonist of the trouble, considering himself a tough guy, decided to take on the officer.

Bad Move.

The officer spoke quietly into his walkie-talkie and minutes later, three more vehicles came whizzing round the corner. The youth decided to run for it.

Another Bad Move.

Four strapping policemen rugby-tackled him, laid him flat, sat on his head and made him promise To Stop Being A Bad Lad...The funniest part, according to Geoff, who had experienced it all, was how the lad had to take a pushchair, replete with his own child, and stalk off home. Big Man: teaching his child all she needs to know in life. I didn't think that was especially funny, although I could see the irony. I found it sad that ill-breeding breeds ill-breeding. Why aren't there sterilisation programmes for people like this?

So, we would buy out the off-license, and while we are at it, we would get rid of the chippy, as that is almost as magnetic for the yoof. There's nothing better (and more nutritious - to them) than a tray of chips with curry sauce and eight cans of Carling. That's a gor-may meal, innit?

In their place, we would install a traditional butcher and a traditional fishmonger. We would offer the girls who work in the off-license (who all, embarrassingly, know me by name and know exactly what I am going in for *ahem*) any jobs, with training, if they so wish. Mr P reckons Cheryl, who probably clocks in at around 22 stone, would be great as the butcher. She's dry as the desert, plain-speaking and doesn't suffer fools. She could cart sides of cow round as though they were feather pillows, believe me. I have seen her man-handle trouble-makers from the shop as though they were naughty toddlers.

Kerry, who has a smile and a chat for everyone - and actually manages to talk to the yoof sensibly and amiably, would probably be great serving behind the counter. She'd have the old dears flocking in for their 1/2lb of silverside and 'nice bit of fillet for me tea'.

Trish could be the fishmonger. I like Trish - a lot! She rarely smiles, is always sardonic, never has a good word to say for anyone, but makes me roar laughing with her tales, always delivered totally deadpan. I could just imagine her whalloping a dead haddock onto the slab and gutting it in front of me, bearing a face of total disdain...

The only girl I would find difficult to place is Diane, who always looks so sad, talks in such a quiet voice it is difficult to know what she is saying, and has too many tales of woe for one her age. I think I would just give her a few thousand and tell her to treat herself, pay off her mortgage and get rid of the spongeing control freak she is living with.

Having a decent butcher would probably annoy Eddie, our grocer/general store owner. He offers local bacon, ham, sausages and black pudding which he sells for exorbitant prices. He's a curmudgeon is Eddie, and I get the feeling he's a wee bit sweet on me! He was moaning and miserable the other week, so I told him I would bring him in some of my fresh baking to cheer him up. I returned, replete with coffee cake and lemon sponge. He turned pale, called me to the rear of the shop, and took it from me as though I was passing him a parcel of heroin. I then realised that he was as terrified of his scowling wife as I am...Since then, he has hinted more than once, that it is 'a good job we are both married, as I am having all sorts of thoughts now...'. He actually had me blushing dreadfully two days ago, so flirtatious was he. And unfortunately, Agnes Mildew is a shocking blusher and I give myself away so easily. The blushing was picked up on immediately. I think he took it as compliance that I felt the same - but I just felt uncomfortable. I looked at him plaintively and said, 'Stop making me blush. It was only a piece of bloody cake...'

I got out of the shop fairly sharpish and later, told Mr P what had happened, who suddenly became My Hero (he's pretty good at that, you know!) and next day, despite him being in agony with the dreadful dentistry work he had just undergone, he accompanied me to Eddie's where I needed to purchase two sticks of butter. Eddie looked a bit askance and kept giving me sly looks to which I refused to respond. Later that afternoon, I was driving past his shop to access the rear of our house and he came out of his shop. "Oi, yer bugger!" he exclaimed. "Yer brought yer bloody 'usband in fer back-up this morning, didn't you?"
"Yes, I did!" I retorted, and continued on my way...

Daft old bugger! He's about 15 years older than me and is married to a woman whose looks can kill at ten paces. Even #2 told me last night she doesn't think she has ever seen her smile once in the three years we have patronised her shop! I just think Eddie leads a frustrated life and likes to dream, such as Mr Parsnip and I do. At least he has his two Jaguars, though - a modern and a Vintage. It seems you can predict the weather by which one he is driving. If he is in the Vintage, the sun will shine all day as he is too scared to let raindrops fall on it. If the weather be inclement, he'll be in the modern one.

Village life, eh?

I wouldn't exchange it for a win on the Lottery.

Damn! Yes, I would!

PS. We didn't win this weekend, either...

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Conservating Agnes

So, it was an email from Keli over at Counterfeit Humans which has sort of prompted this post. I had told her about our new conservatory and she waxed lyrical about whether we played music in there, if it was green and tranquil, and I suddenly realised that as our other reader (number one is me, and thus a Brit) and from 'across the pond', she possibly didn't really know what the British conservatory is for.

Well, as I look out of our bedroom window, I can survey a number of conservatories built onto the back of these 1950s Council-built homes (by the way, I am not a Council House Wallah...these houses were built by the Council for the masses of ICI workers who settled here to mine the salt and create all sorts of chemicals, sodium potash and explosives. You know I am a snob so forgive me, any Council House Wallah who may be reading this post...such as the ex...) and they are built, so it would seem, for two purposes: a) as a bit more space to a potentially cramped house and b) as a sun room (when the bloody sun shines in England, particularly the North West, where the Parsnip family reside, which is privy to the Gulf Stream, bringing rain, drizzle, fog, rain, damp, rain, showers and rain...).

With the installation of Mr Parsnip, my 3-bed semi appeared to be shrinking - he can be a bit larger than life at times - and it was decided that we would either move (bad choice in the current economic climate) or extend. And so, I had these grand ideas that we would have this fantastic, light and airy loft conversion for me and Mr P, with an attic bedroom, spiral staircase up, ensuite bathroom etcetera, etcetera, and up I went into the loft to spec it out, being a builder's ex-wife. When I realised that, even as a pretty tall bird, standing at 5'8" and not being able to straighten my neck, the pitch wasn't quite steep enough, I thought long and hard about extending from the side and building a new 'block' where the outhouses are...until I checked out next door and realised that Jackie would start throwing flaming pasties at my door if I did so - I guess it would have felt like living in a mausoleum to her, so dark it would have become...

I wracked my brains as to how I could handle having three growing people in the house, as well as myself, and not go mental.

And so it was deemed that I would increase my mortgage by an utterly stupid amount and have built the largest conservatory The Conservatory Outlet had ever had commissioned. (And I am not providing them with a link because they screwed me over, for three weeks, on my choice of tiles, so Yah Boo Sucks to You!). The erection, if you will pardon my choice of words, was built with three purposes in mind: an office for Mr Parsnip when he cannot be fagged getting out of bed at 7am to travel ten minutes up the road to his official place of work (which happens on an extremely regular basis); a dining area; and a sanctuary for me, replete with sofa; side tables for my over-flowing ashtrays; lamps by which I can read literature such as Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Viz Magazine and have a happy, peaceful place.

Initially, building work went according to plan, although I was quite perturbed when I saw the footings which didn't look as though they were going to provide us with the equivalent of three living spaces. But, as they say, never show an idiot a half-finished job, and when the base and brickwork went down, it started to look huge...which prompted daft suggestions from Mr P and #2 daughter of having bloody fish tanks all over the place, forming arches of marine life, giving aquamarine glows at night. And who'd have to clean these sodding fish tanks and feed the bloomin' fish? Me! That's who! As I have to feed Lambert & Butler (rabbits) and muck out Oscar, the new moggy, pretty much every day, I am damned if I am going to clear out Britney, Shenaz, Goldie, Shaniah, Rhianna, 50-Cent, Robbie and Compo while I am at it...

Anyway, the conservatory went up pretty quickly and it wasn't long before we had windows, a roof and doors. The only thing which just didn't seem to happen was the flooring. We were messed around repeatedly by the Outlet and I could tell that the MD was panicking each time I called to ask, in a crystal-cut accent, When Are My Tiles Coming? They did come...eventually...and so it was time to install ourselves.

Mr P took up residence in his 'office' fairly quickly and indeed, if I am looking for him to help me unblock toilets or put lamps together, I am pretty sure I will find him in front of his PC, purporting to work, when really, he is organising his 6000 digital photos into different categories. Only the other day, I found his notes by which he was cataloguing his images and felt quite touched. I stroked his head gently and tenderly coo-ed: Aahh. You're really quite anal, aren't you?

I can also tell when he has been in here as he has shed his hand-rolling tobacco everywhere...It is like having Worzel Gummidge, the TV scarecrow, in here, there is that much dust and baccy lying about. This means more cleaning for me - that is where my anality lies, I am afraid (and no, don't invite me over to clean your house; that line gets used on me way too many times for it to be funny any more). I have to keep a clean and tidy house. And I object to it being crapped up when I have been on my hands and knees scrubbing, in between bouts of being a domestic Goddess and baking all sorts of fattening delights. So, you can imagine my dismay last night when I discovered that the kitten, Oscar, had decided to use the brand new conservatory rug as his litter tray. It wasn't a decent, 'dry' one, either. It was revolting and made me gip somewhat dramatically.

Mr P banished the moggy to the kitchen (wherein lay his litter tray) and told him that he was A Bad Cat. The kitten mewed plaintively at him, attempted to climb his trouser leg (reminiscent of a humping dog) and was promptly ignored. #2 daughter was almost beside herself with angst. So we asked how she would feel if one of us took a dump on her pillow.

She soon came round to our way of thinking...

My haven hasn't come to fruition as of yet. I have the window ledges bedecked in candles and a candelabra which decided to splatter wax ALL OVER THE BLOODY TILES last night. I will generally iron anything that comes to hand, but I have never spent an hour ironing ceramic tiles and I hope never to have to do it again.

I also awake every morning to Fly Heaven. I have started calling the place Pet Cemetary there are that many dead things to walk in to. A few weeks ago, sick and tired of vacuuming the carcasses from the window ledge, I squirted some Big D Fly Killer all over the place and sent #1 in, replete with Hoover and gas mask to do it for me. Within minutes, she was squealing like a gurlie poof that the flies were 'still buzzing in the vacuum cleaner...Urrrgggghhhh!'

I found that divine retribution, actually, since I feel the same revulsion when I have to collect her skanky undies, which she has surreptitiously (lazily?) stuffed down the side of her dressing table, for the wash...

So, it's not quite my sanctuary yet. I am still waiting for Mr P's leather sofa to come up once he gets the removal men in to clear out his house which is now, thankfully, in the process of being sold (touch wood!) and then I am going to ensure that I possess the only key to the conservatory doors so that I can block out spotty belligerent teenagers and baccy-shedding husbands. I shall smile and wave at them from the far end when they are clamouring to get to me and pester me with demands for cake, drinks, talks and sex (the girls don't request the latter from me, I hasten to add...) and shall claim profound deafness. I shall keep a loaded wine rack next to the settee, a healthy (is this an oxymoron?) supply of cigarettes and have some soppy Don Williams or the theme from Local Hero playing. I shall become maudlin and tearful, bemoaning my mis-spent yoof, and thoroughly enjoy myself!

So yes, Keli, perhaps the images you have of our conservatory are not that far off the mark?