Friday, 31 October 2008

Hallowe'en Hexing

For some strange reason, my hand looks a bit abnormal on this photo. I can guarantee, it is not a penis at the side of my head...

Considering this blog was originally started to Hex my Ex and cast all sorts of curses and incantations on those who have thwarted me over the years, I'm not doing very well on the Hallowe'en front, bearing in mind it's the one night of the year that evil witches like me can get on their broomsticks and legitimately hex all and sundry.

So, out of respect for this day, I am going to provide a top ten list of those people and things which I would (still) hex with impunity. Although my conscience is generally quite alert, today, it can bugger off while I flex my talons, search inside the knife drawer for the sharpest tools, and rip forth with the most barbed remarks I can possibly make about the following damnèd irritations of which I have/had the misfortune to experience.

10. Lisa Tickle. The Head Girl at our High School. She beat me to it by one vote and so I never got to take home the plastic shield all Head Girls were offered for a grand total of eight months. She also claimed that being size 14 was enormous (that was my size at the time), yet when I peeked into the skirt she had taken off before PE, I saw that the label read size 16. AND she snogged Paul Speed after I did and ended up going out with him for six months. I think that is what makes me want to hex her the most. I snogged him first, he told me my brown eyes were as beautiful as a Jersey Cow's (was that a compliment, do you think?) and that he wouldn't mind getting into my pants. I declined that offer, I must admit. Knowing her, though, I bet she didn't...

9. Mrs Brown, our 4th year Junior school mistress. She sported a bosom upon which you could have set a row of pint pots with whiskey chasers and wore a conical bra long before Gaultier even thought of bedecking Madonna in his gold creation. One day, I snuck my maths text book home to ask my brother to give me a hand with some complicated work (this was punishable by death in Mrs Brown's book) and intended to surreptitiously slide it back into my desk the following day. Unfortunately for me, I fell ill with tonsilitis that night and couldn't return to the school for a few days. Mrs Brown decided to do a spot check for desk tidiness during my absence, and thus noticed the concomitant absence of my Alpha-Beta book. Upon my return to school, I was warned that I was 'in for it'. Sure enough, I was hauled up to the front of the class, bawled out and then the hand went back for an almighty wallop across the back of the legs.
I moved out of the way, just in time, and she clattered her arm right across the hard metal corner of her desk. I legged it, the Headmaster entered to speak to her, and I was saved...for once!

8. Mindy Hammond. This just says it all.

7. Mario, my former boss. What a lech. This egocentric, rotund, smelly South African decided that whenever his skeletal, equally smelly wife (who picked her ear wax and ate it) was out of the office, he would try it on with me. It got to the stage where I used to simply laugh at him. But he didn't like that at all. It was when he clicked that I was winding him up, asking him to regale us all with tales of his days in a band, when women threw their underwear at him, and I asked if they also threw their white sticks, that I got the sack. I can't stand people without a sense of humour...

6. Another boss, Bernard. Just a little upstart, really. Told me that I was desperate for him but he would have to fend me off, 'unfortunately' for me. Used to sneak up behind me and tickle me hard in the ribs, getting me screaming abuse loudly, at which he would then take umbrage and interrupt me constantly when I was trying to get work done. Never used to pay me on time, either, so that one Bank Holiday weekend, once again without a monthly salary, I had no money to buy cigs, fill my car up with petrol or buy any food. It was the lack of cigarettes which grated the most...

5. Trinny and Susannah. These self-appointed TV fashionistas are obsessed by boobs. On men or women. They grope, analyse, critique and denegrate every breast which comes into their line of vision (they would have had a field day with Mrs Brown, above). They are rude, obnoxious, sport the most dreadful dress sense (the picture aside is the only one I could find which makes them look well-dressed, actually) and purport to be able to tell us peasants how to dress our best. I have had the misfortune to watch their programme, Undress the Nation, once, and vowed, Never Again. Banal, puerile tripe for people who don't know how to make an appointment for a hair-cut; don't realise that Charity Shops sell the best designer gear for a fraction of the prices you pay in the High Street, and are generally gormless, slavering morons. 'Nuff said.

4. Steve Wright. A BBC Radio 2 DJ who is the most sycophantic little tosser one could ever have the misfortune to listen to. He invites guests onto his 2-5pm show, purports to have read their books/listened to their latest CDs/had them over for dinner and positively gushes over their every word. His laughter is that of a gurgling drain, belching over raw sewage: stinking, foetid and not pleasant to witness. He refers to celebrities as his 'great mates' (even if he has never met them previously...or perhaps they asked him directions to the toilet at some BBC awards ceremony) and his nose is so dark from 'brown-nosing' that you might suspect he has severe circulation problems in his extremities.

3. Air musicians. Anybody who plays the air-guitar, air drums, air-saxophone, air-sackbut. I don't care. Whatever they 'air-play' deserves a very extreme hexing in my book. Now, I am a classically trained organist (no jokes, please) and will, in deep reverie, mildly tap out tunes on the arm of the settee, or atop my leg - with only one hand, I will have you note - but I DO NOT close my eyes as I am doing it, I DO NOT simulate orgasms while I am doing it, I DO NOT pout and jut my head back and forth in a manner reminiscent of Mick Jagger,  and I DO NOT think I look cool. It is a very private affair between me and the sofa. People, (and particularly men) who decide that virtual scratching of their privates, whilst pretending to pluck a bass guitar are just sad. Sad, lonely and need to get some outside interests such as toad-sexing. Anything but air-playing...

2. Sunday League Cyclists. If you live in a rural, or semi-rural area as I do, every Sunday the country lanes are plagued by these be-lycra'ed human-insects. They don all sorts of bright colours to stand out (and thus make fair sport for me to attempt to knock them down if I am out and about in my car), ride two or three abreast, gob everywhere as they are cycling and basically look abnormal. They also slow me down. And I only want to be slowed down in my car if I choose. Last time Sunday League cyclists slowed me down, I crawled behind them for about 200 metres then blasted on my horn so loudly that they wobbled dangerously, hit the kerb and I overtook, shouting the Highway Code at them (ergo: Thou shalt not cycle more than one abreast on a road. Particularly if Agnes Mildew is abroad).

1. Yes, it's the one you've all been waiting for. Well, possibly two of you have been, if you haven't dozed off yet. It's the Pick of the Pops (and you really ought to listen to this music, as it is seminal for us 30-somethings in the UK who listened to the Radio 1 charts!).

The Ex!

How could I write a blog called HexMyEx without mentioning that little malodorous junket of crap? Big Nose; Tosser; Knob-end...ah, my terms of endearment go ever on. If you want to know why I hex him, read the blog. If it's a case of TL;DR, well, your loss. Don't come crying to me when you can't follow what's going on...

Happy Hallowe'en, Hexers!

Monday, 27 October 2008

Hedgerows & Agnes's Hegemony

Mr P was 'my bitch' for all of one hour last night. I did ask for a sex slave for the rest of my life, but he wouldn't go along with that, much to my chagrin, claiming that he would like a turn from time to time.

After working for around three hours making Sunday Roast (which was chicken, not rabbit) and spectacularly spitting my dummy out when #1 complained that I had poured fresh cream on to her lemon cheesecake, Mr P decided to get me out of the house to calm down and cool off - it was certainly the right temperature outside to do this, I can assure you: it was bitterly cold; at one point I could hardly see through the driving rain and the gales were whipping down the collar of my coat, freezing me to the bone marrow. But nary one word of complaint came out of me. Probably because I had to grit my teeth together so forcefully in case the chattering dislodged some important brain cells.

And then, in true English weather-style, the sun shone brightly, the wind died down and I was able to thaw out. And then I spotted the wild mushrooms growing on the Alder trees. In Britain, there is a variety of wild mushroom called the Jew's Ear. They are not a pretty sight when they cluster together in a bit of a creepy, Uriah Heep-type way, and they have a rather gelatinous quality to them. But, if you first soak them in boiling water and then add a pinch of salt, they'll rival any Truffle rutted up by a pig in Provençale. I had no bag with me, so I stuffed handfuls into my coat pockets. Then my gourmet imagination got to work and I picked handfuls of young nettles. I requested that Mr P found me a stray plastic bag and he spotted one which he suspected had originally been designated for dog poo and blanched slightly. But it was clean (and would only have added to the flavour anyway) and into the bag went my mushrooms and nettles.

-Mmm! Wild mushroom and nettle soup, eh? What do you reckon?

Mr P's face looked like a bulldog licking urine off a thistle.

-It'll be fantastic! This is what we said we'd do - go foraging; live the Good Life. Be Tom and Barbara!

Mr P's face remained bulldog-like.

-Honest! Full of iron, goodness, taste. It'll taste fabulous, believe me. All I need is some butter, white wine and creme fraiche.

-And if I don't like it, I don't have to eat it, do I? And you won't get cross with me? I am warning you, you know.

-Listen, if you don't like it, I'll eat raw nettles. If you do like it, you'll be my sex slave forever. OK?

Mr P declined to respond...

Well, I set to work, chopping, soaking, brewing up, having a wee nip of wine as I went along and the most wonderful smells started to emanate from that pan on hob. And Mr P started to look more and more uncomfortable.

After an hour of simmering, I blended my brew and the most wonderful mushroom-coloured broth emerged. Mr P gingerly stuck his nose into the pot and looked puzzled.

-It smells bloody lovely, actually, he confessed.

-Yup! Try it! It is lovely.

-You have washed everything haven't you? A dog won't have peed on this stuff?

-Oh, come on! How can a dog cock its leg four feet up a tree?

-Might have been a big dog...

He gingerly tasted the soup. And then had another spoonful. And another.

-That's really, really nice!

-Mwahahahaha! Told you, didn't I?

#2 was in the kitchen with us at the time. She was shocked out of her skin to see Mr P go down on both knees and beg forgiveness from me.

-Please forgive me. I am sorry for doubting your culinary expertise. I am sorry. *kiss, kiss, grovel, grovel*

-OK. So you are now my sex slave forever?

-No. I want a turn from time to time, too.

-OK. You can be my bitch, then.

-Alright. I can go along with that. Can I have a bowl later, please?

And so, the Battle Of The Hedgerows was Agnes Mildew (1) - Charles Parsnip (0). A big fat, round Zero!

And off he has toddled to work this morning armed with the chicken legs from yesterday's roast, some home-made biscuits, and Hedgerow Soup.

What more could a man ask for?

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Cheap and Nasty...

I appear to come from a long line of bargain-hunters. It must be in the blood; a twist in my DNA which was created when first I was just a twinkle in a boiler-house fitter's eye. My mother is the most repugnant bargain-hunter: belligerent; rude; arrogant and embarrassing. I mean to say, one simply doesn't haggle the undies down in a charity shop, does one?

However, I am a watered-down version of her when it comes to bargains and the 'reduced' aisle in our local supermarkets. Only today, I informed Mr P that I was going to the Co-op for milk and prawns. I returned with a bag filled with miniature cheeses - those ones which are very poncey, look great on the dinner table and make you bankrupt (reduced from £2.19 to 40p); a lemon cheesecake (reduced from £3.29 to 60p); six organic, free-range eggs (reduced from £1.75 to 75p) and Scotch eggs (reduced from £1.99 to 99p).

I forgot to get the prawns.

I am always seduced by the reduced...

I shop at charity shops and second hand shops most of the time - eBay is my best friend. I don't mind wearing other people's cast-offs in the slightest. I have even been known to make 45 minute drives over to Wilmslow, home of the Manchester United players, whose wives and girlfriends (WAGs) donate their Armani, Gucci, Versace and D&G to the local Oxfam, British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research shops. It's the place to pick up a designer bargain most of the time. 

On one of my trips, I got chatting to a fellow bargain hunter who told me only that morning he had purchased a Hugo Boss suit, pure wool, still with tags for £25.00. It had been donated literally minutes ago by footballer, Roy Keane. Colleen Rooney (Wayne Rooney's new wife, little Scouse bundle of fluff and £££s that she is) makes a point of donating all her cast-offs to the charity shops in Wilmslow. And women fall on them like ravening wolves. Particularly as she doesn't fit the usual WAG stereotype of being rake thin and shapeless. She is 'all vumman'! And therefore, half of Unposh Cheshire, those of us filled with Pies and Prejudice [apologies, Stuart Maconie] (that's where I live) cannot wait for her to have a jolly good clear-out. And I don't mean on the toilet...

Now, my bargain hunting doesn't always turn out for the best, I have to be honest. I have risked 'sell-by dates', forgotten about them, having stored said items in the fridge, and returned to find a green, furry mass of seething cures for the diseases of the Third World. I have also bought items of clothing from eBay, claiming to be such and such a size, got them for £3.50 plus P&P and the discovered that they are size 8, but only if you are a midget with anorexia. I even, much to my utter dismay, bought the most fantastic Karen Millen dress the other month from eBay for £40 when it should have been £200. It was on the kinky side, I must admit - all black, fitted satin; bondage style zips and just quite dirty, really. I bust the side zip, trying to pour myself into it in a very ungainly manner. I had to actually be cut out of the damned thing. Mr P got his pliers and broke the zip so I could breathe again. I decided to take it to a seamstress to have it let out slightly and have the zip mended, but I left it on a pile of books designated for donation to Oxfam before doing so. 

And the dress went with the books...

I was extremely, very, awfully, very, exceptionally upset...

Now, we are attempting to tighten our belts at the moment and save money where necessary as we are in a rather precarious financial situation, waiting for Mr P's house down south to sell. So, I have been bargain hunting in ways which I know would make #1's and #2's stomachs turn were they to ever read their mother's blog...which they refuse to, because IT'S BORING!!! 

So, they will never, ever know that last night, their 'chicken casserole' was actually 'bunny brew'...A whole bunny for three quid! I can't even buy one decent sized chicken breast for that amount! It was a pretty grotesque thing to behold, I must admit. It was vacuum-sealed in plastic from our local Master Butcher and had this bit of absorbent 'paper' upon which it lay, and which appeared to be speckled with the detritus from a hairy man's razor blades. It turned my stomach and I had to ask Mr P to take it from the plastic, give it a wash and make it slightly more presentable before I could attack it.

Although my best intentions were to carve the uncooked meat first and then casserole it, I simply couldn't do it. Outside, gambolling in their run, were Lambert and Butler, our two Netherland Dwarf rabbits. I felt evil; a turncoat; a pariah of virtue.

Then I snapped its spine and popped it in with the leeks, carrots, garlic, shallots, cider and stock...

Mr P reckoned the smell emanating from the oven was fantastic. It did smell pretty good, I must admit, but I was starting to sweat profusely. It was six hours before the girls returned from school. Would they suss? Would there be a row? How could I blag my way through this one? I have never, ever managed to pass fish off as chicken, but an esteemed cookery website informed me that 'young rabbit tastes just like chicken'. I just hoped my rabbit hadn't been drawing its pension...

'What's for tea?' said #1.
'Chicken casserole,' I replied.
'Oh Yum! Great!...What's this? Is this fish?'
No. It's not fish. What I did was, I didn't have any chicken breasts, so I bunged a whole chicken into the casserole pot, cooked it up, then pulled the meat off. That's why it looks like your meat from a Sunday Roast.'
'It's fish, isn't it?'
'No, I swear to you. It isn't fish.'
'It's not fish, Rosie' [from #2] 'Look at it, fish doesn't look like that. You've never eaten fish like I have, so you wouldn't know.'
'OK. I want to see the bones'
*thinks* Oh Gawd. They are in the outhouse. The cat has cleaned them dry. They don't look chicken-like any more. At all...

'I didn't know chickens had such prominent spines...'
'Yeah. That's because we clean up after the Roast Dinners.'

They both ate their Bunny Brew. Even complimented it. You will never, ever understand the sigh of relief I released when I washed up later on.

Trouble is, my conscience is pricking me dreadfully. I cooked Thumper. I may as well have killed Bambi's Mum. I feel sick to my stomach. £3.00 or not, to feed three people.

I have bought a kilo of tomatoes to make tomato and roast pepper soup. Nobody cares when a tomato screams...

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

A Hex on the Sexes

I am in a state of bewilderment. And if there are any male bloggers out there who would care to enlighten me, I'd be very grateful as I get nowhere fast with my own Caveman.

I realise that women have the most inordinate amount of daft foibles, such as nicking all the miniature toiletries from hotel rooms, including the shower cap, which we wouldn't be seen dead in; saving plastic bags 'because they always come in handy'; recycling old T-shirts for dusters; and promising to make chicken soup from the Sunday Roast carcass (which generally sits there until it gathers the cure for HIV in our kitchen).

My list of enigmas surrounding the less-fair sex include the following:
  • Not getting your hair cut
  • Not shaving and thinking snogging 3-day old stubble is a turn-on (when really it just ribbons your chin)
  • Not clearing out your skanky underpants which are full of holes and splits
  • Ditto with socks
  • Never finishing a DIY job which they have set about with great enthusiasm and then walked away from for a cup of tea, never to return...
So, let's take point 1. Getting the hair cut. My husband is currently trialling a brand product for me called Fast Hair. Prior to this, he trialled Nisim. We are having great success with both products as, previously a rather follicly challenged individual, he is now giving Fabio a run for his money. Unfortunately, Mr P's golden tresses don't lend themselves to the GHDs like Fabio's (not that I would want them to, either, I hasten to add); they tend to sort of 'spiral' out at odd angles. Over the last two weeks he has been called anything from Samson, to Tintin, to, this morning, #1 accused him of sporting a jaunty Afro. Mr P claims she doesn't know what one is. I put him straight...

After repeated nagging, and threats this morning to cut it for him...even going so far as to get the comb, kitchen scissors and a towel out, when he called my bluff (and you really don't want to do that, as I will always rise to the bait), he realised It Was Time. It took a grand total of 20 minutes and he was back. Not too hard, was it?

Point 2. Now, I must admit, a bit of stubble can sort of 'do it' for me from time to time (unless it is ginger and then I would rather view raw offal: Viking heritage and virility, or not). And so this is a bit of a mealy-mouthed complaint. It looks good on certain chaps, but it doesn't feel good on my face. I vividly recall the first snog I had after having been in the wilderness for a few months last year. He hadn't shaved and nearly ripped my delicate skin off. For three days, I sported scabby scratches down my chin which itched and caused me to pick incessantly (I am a dreadful spot-picker). So, while it looks good, it feels awful and I prefer babies' bums to bristly bears' arses...

Point 3. Not getting rid of your skanky pants. Why? Why is it such a comfort to have your testicles poking through an unfeasibly small hole, which strangulates the scrotum, wrecks chances of fertility, looks like a turkey's neck and must be uncomfortable? Surely? I have never known a man to get rid of his undies. I have had to do it for him...albeit very surreptitiously, under cover of darkness, wearing a disguise and bolstering my side of the bed with pillows and a dark wig. There are then the inevitable questions:

Where are my pants? 
Which ones? 
You know, those black ones. 
What, the ones with the dirty big holes in the crotch? 
They're not holes, they're ventilation shafts...
Check under the kitchen sink. I think I used them to wipe up the last dose of cat pee from the kitchen floor.

Point 4. Socks. I don't even pretend with these. I just tear them up in front of any man and tell them they are not Robin - 'Holy Socks, Batman!' It just befuddles me. 
Now, admittedly, I have socks from years and years ago, which are still doing me proud...but "I iz vumman". I wear stockings, hold-ups, tights etc most of the time, so my socks don't get a daily wear and tear...thus they can last me for years...unlike aforesaid nylons which only seem to grace my legs for an hour and then they are laddered. As my clear nail polish has gone hard, I cannot really dab the 'ladder' with chocamocha and walk round with what look like carcinogenic melanoma all over my legs...

Point 5. Never finishing a DIY job. The amount of times I have had to stalk through the house bearing arms such as hammers, Phillips screwdrivers, hacksaws and nails is beyond comprehension. And this has gone on since time immemorial, so don't think I am Parnsip-baiting here. 
But just a little bit of Parnsip-baiting for you Parnsip-baiter fans...he took the side of the bath off about 8 months ago to get at the taps. The screw covers have never been replaced and are shoved, in a margarine tub, behind the bathroom door...
It took three months for the shower power point to be sealed up - after he had removed it, and left the wires hanging freely, he walked away and got cracking on something else instead.

Yet, he put up the best fence panelling known to man! He and a friend, Phil, got cracking one Saturday, tore down the kindling which was our boundary fence, dug the holes, inserted the concrete posts, and erected 16 panels of Waney Lap. They were both crocked by the end of it, admittedly, and could hardly stand. But during the most recent high winds, they have stood firm and fast, like the Old Man of Hoy. So, I am not moaning there, either...

Is it the League of Gentlemen? Does a Caveman need another Caveman in order to show off his prowess to complete something? Not exactly 'penis-envy'. Fence-envy? Nah...that doesn't work, either...

Anyway, I am still as flummoxed as ever, so I would appreciate some guidance in these matters. Once I am enlightened, I can nip out with my club and pummell a passing dog to spit-roast for my very own Mr. Ug.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Hex on Health & Safety

So, a bright and shiny day on Saturday and a perfect opportunity for Mr P to get out into the fresh air together with his trusty camera and get some material for his portfolio which is required for college.

I had a remit: find him somewhere 'different'; with atmosphere and spirit; standing as solitary as possible; few people about and interesting. I considered the local pub before opening hours, but that wasn't quite what he had in mind.

Picture of Bunbury Graveyard courtesy of Mr Parsnip, Photography for Fun

So, after some thorough research which took me about 0.8 minutes, I found Peckforton Castle which is about 30 minutes drive away and also on the way to St Boniface's Church in a village called Bunbury, which has some rather creepy gravestones and gargoyles.

A wedding was taking place at the castle (indeed, there were two that day, and grand events they looked to be) and I saw a woman walking around with a flower arrangement of lilies, spleenwort, roses and all sorts of paraphenalia for the next hour. She wouldn't put it down. Everywhere she went, she held the arrangement in front of her. I wondered, idly, if she was a gate-crasher and if it might be acting as camouflage, but the thought seemed too ridiculous really considering she was also dressed like a peacock. I suggested to Mr P that he removed his wedding ring (I was wearing gloves) and we pretended to be newly affianced and seeking a wedding venue. Then we might get access to the battlements and turrets for better photo-opportunities. He did so for a grand total of 60 seconds and then I snapped at him to put it back on as there was no point lying. I don't see why he should get chat-up opportunities and I can't...

As it stood, nobody is allowed on the battlements for 'Health & Safety' reasons. 'Health & Safety' in the UK is the biggest single kill-joy known to man. Children are no longer allowed to play 'conkers' at school in the autumn; office chair racing is banned; lunchtime drinking is banned in most places of work; bonfire night, in certain parishes has been banned in case sparks fly from the bonfire and burn a passing kitten or old lady...and the list goes ever on. I believe H & S's Top Secret remit is to turn us into lifeless imbeciles who sit in front of the telly (but not with it on in case we get some form of radiation sickness) and never budge outside our front doors. They really are the biggest bunch of jobsworths the Government has ever seen fit to create and we should all stage an uprising against them.

Latest scandals to come out of the Bureaucracy of Berks led to the patron of a pub being forced to sign a disclaimer when she took her leftovers home for the dog. In the event that the dog got ill, the pub's chef would not be held responsible. And then a nutter who wanted to cut down all the palm trees in Torquay due to the falling palm fronds..."They're like tigers," he was quoted as saying, "Beautiful to look at, but you wouldn't want them wandering the streets. 

Can anybody tell me where this chap got his whacky baccy from? When was the last time you saw a palm frond stalk its prey, leap atop its back, attack the jugular and disembowel it slowly and with great pleasure? No, I can't remember, either, and I really have wracked my brains.

So, chances are, there will be a number of people on November 5 this year having to watch a large screen TV in the freezing cold showing images of a roaring, crackling bonfire. That's what happened in Ilfracombe, North Devon in 2006. 

In the 1970s, when I attended Junior School in our village, we had a concrete playground, 'monkey bars', an open drainage ditch which was fed by the effluent from the large sewerage works a mile away, British Bulldog was positively encouraged (where kids smash through a chain of hands using anything short of a hacksaw) and the autumn conker championships saw the teachers running a book with best odds on Warbie's vinegared and baked prize winners. Last time I visited the school, in passing (as I never did return my Mental Maths book), I noticed that all the concrete had gone (that silly rubbery stuff now), no monkey bars, the stream had run dry due to the closure of the sewerage works with the rill itself cordoned off and there were no conker trees in sight for miles around.

And people complain that all their kids do is sit indoors and watch telly or play video games?

What else is there to do? Every bit of fun is taken away. A makeshift swing only has to be roped up to the branch of a tree and some do-gooder comes along and cuts it down. All children must apply their own sunscreen at school in case a teacher is accused of abuse...and I am so glad #2 is old enough to apply it herself now as in the past, she would definitely have squirted it onto her crackers and eaten it.

A turn-up for the books, though - our local off-license has the Remembrance Day poppies in today. And we have pins again - hurray! Last year, Health & Safety decreed that poppies could not be held on your lapel with a pin - in case someone 'poked their eye out' (has this ever happened to anyone?). So we all went round with poppies stuck in our zips. Which made for some interesting flies on the men at our office...

At least Health & Safety couldn't complain about that...

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Hexing House-Keeping

In my wildest dreams, I want to be a Retro-Housewife. It is my ardent desire for my darling husband and two beautiful daughters return from their respective places of work and school to a perfectly coiffured wife/mother, sporting a 1950s frock, nipped in at all the right places and lipstick applied without a single smudge. The house will be gleaming like an advert for Glint, it will NOT smell of my Lambert & Butler smokes (1950s housewives only smoke in the evenings alongside their Martinis, replete with green olives) and the healthy, but sumptuous, dinner will be ready to dish up as I twirl around the kitchen, my dirndl skirt flaring out provocatively, yet efficiently.

God! Reality bites hard, doesn't it?!

For health reasons, I have not been at work for some time and have thus had Mr Muscle, Flash, Zoflora, Cif and Domestos at my disposal on a daily basis. The house has shone but due to aforementioned health reasons (let's call them HR, because we all know a bastard in HR) I have not been quite as diligent as usual. The place is clean, but the lustre is not there. It's tidy, but it's not immaculate. This annoys me immensely, but for the time being, it will just have to do.

However, baking and cooking still must be done.

I am too much of a cheapskate to pay for mass-produced cakes and biscuits and will therefore make my own on a regular basis. It is rare for us not to have at least one flavour of home-made cake in a plastic bag on the kitchen worktop. Indeed, at the moment, we have coffee and walnut, and lemon and coconut, which I smear with raspberry jam. I tend to get free-range eggs via a contact at work, but as I am not in touch with him at the moment, eggs come from Eddie the Grocer, round the back, who leers at me whenever I walk into his shop. He looked a bit glum the other day, so I brought him round samples of my cakes (in the hope that he'd offer to sell them for me). He just looked furtive, slipped them into the stock room, mumbled something about it being a good job he was married and then ducked as his Mrs stomped around the cleaning products aisle.

Despite my best intentions, something ALWAYS goes wrong with my baking. The last two times I have made triple chocolate brownies, they have ended up like breeze blocks and thus landed in the bin. My quiches burst through the ceramic beads which I ladle on to prevent the pasty rising during blind-baking and look like the surface of the moon, and I can regularly undercook the veg. Last time I made fresh bread, instead of using Bread Flour, I reached for the regular Plain. And then one of Mr Parsnip's teeth cracked as he took a bite with his tomato and basil soup (home-made!). That cost quite a lot of money in dentistry a few days later...

Today, as #1 is off to Normandy at 4.30am tomorrow, I decided to make a lovely 'Ta-ta, See You, Hello Peace & Quiet Dinner' to see her off with which involves chicken casserole and something I have been threatening for a while: a baked chocolate and mint cheesecake.

Now, normally, my cheesecakes turn out spectacularly. Even #2, who is averse to anything not wrapped in plastic, enjoys them. I have turned out Baileys, Tia Maria and fresh lemon ones to date. So, off I toddled to the Co-op and spent about £8.00 on the ingredients. Philadelphia Cheese (low-fat); Fair-Trade black chocolate (so I am not exploiting the workers); free-range eggs (so those poor chickens' bums get a break); 'Light' sugar (for obvious reasons); and 50% extra free McVities' Digestive biscuits...cause I am a cheapskate and always look for a bargain. Despite not wearing the 1950s frock, having contemporary music on very loud and being caught boogying dramatically by Mr P wherein he made me jump out of my skin and blush somewhat at the movements I was then making with my hips, I did twirl around, got the dirty dishes done as I whisked the mix, melted the chocolate and made the base...

I had a spring-form tin ready for it all. It was looking fantastic. I even got adventurous and 'marbled' the mix with the melted chocolate, forming a cobweb of patterns. My smile of pride stretched from ear to ear!

Then I picked the tin up to place into the pre-heated oven (160degC) and the f*cking bottom fell out of the tin. I had got the wrong 'bottom'. 

The squawking out of me was both blue and desperate. Thank God #1 walked in at that point and offered to assist as I was covered in raw chocolate/mint cheesecake mix. Mr P, with the doors thus being wide open, heard my expostulations, came in, saw the mess and set to to help me clear up.

#1 told me it was OK to cry. And I almost did. Purely for the former beauty of the thing. 

However, it's OK to cry over spilt milk, but not over spilt cheesecake mix. 

It was salvaged, turned into a gloop and baked. So we now have chocolate/mint 'crunch' for pud tonight.

During the mop-up operation, #2 came in to snitch on her sister who had used some rather nasty profanities on her while my back was turned. And for once, I simply couldn't be fagged intervening. White mess dripped from the worktop, down the cupboard doors and onto the floor which I had scrubbed twice yesterday (twice because the bloody kitten decided to pee on the lino in the evening). I snapped at her to sort it out herself and she stared at the mess.

'Has it gone wrong, then?' she asked.

'No, it's bloody marvellous, isn't it?' I retorted, somewhat obviously sarcastically.

Mr P was on his hands and knees at this point, mopping up the gloop. With reassuring 'shush-shush' noises and an explanation to #2 of how sarcastic angry women can be, she vanished with a bit of a flounce of indignation.

So, the proof of this pudding is certainly going to be in the eating. It looks like a nasty brownish/grey mess and I am still heart-broken at the loss of my cobweb. Mr P is going to have bacon butties at early dawn tomorrow since we have to get up at Stupid O'Clock. I'll probably bloody burn those, too. 

One of these days, I will produce a meal fit for a Queen. I just hope it isn't Queen Anne I.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Hex My Express

There is a newspaper here in the UK called The Daily Express. Most UK newspapers are only fit to be torn into strips and used in the outhouse toilet when the Andrex has run out and the Express is no exception.

It is a pathetic Tory comic designed for the un-thinking, aspiring middle classes who pretend not to enjoy gossip about Z-list celebrities, such as most of those retards found on Big Brother and I'm A Celebrity, Get Me on the Ice With a Strictly Come Off It Salary; it bear-bates the current government (which most of the British population now do, anyway, so that's possibly an unfair criticism); it provides no balance; scare-mongers and purports to be fighting the good fight for us Stiff-Upper-Lip Brits. 

It's tripe.

But. It has a fantastic General Knowledge crossword on Sundays in the supplement and I do succumb most weeks in the hope that one day I will complete it without having to refer to Google for the answers. I mean to say, who knows the answer to this one: *In Greek myths, one of the three Erinyes or Furies, along with Megaera and Tisiphone (6). Responses in the comments box, please. * For the impatient amongst you, the answer is right at the bottom. I am teasing you all...

When picking the fluff from my navel, and watching paint dry has ceased to amuse me, I will flick through the rest of this magazine. And without fail, every Sunday, my blood starts to boil at the article written by one of their 'new' columnists, Mindy Hammond.


Mindy Hammond...

Do you know what she is famous for? 

She is famous for being the wife of Richard Hammond of Top Gear fame. And how did he become really famous? He did it by almost killing himself in a high-speed crash whilst filming for Top Gear. There was almost a public mourning, he received so much publicity about it. But the fact was, he was doing something which gives him an erection (driving high-powered vehicles) AND pays him bloody good money. OK, he's a nice enough chap, but he hasn't got the irony and wit of Jeremy Clarkson nor the charm and good temper of James May, who co-present the show. He's a stooge, basically. He's the good-looking short-arse who wears the trendy clothes, looks a bit bewildered at times when Clarkson is tearing a strip off him, and provides a bit of eye candy for the women who have to watch the show with their blokes.

So, about three months ago, there was an article written about her - how brave she had been through Richard's crash; how her beauty was 'luminous'; photos of her walking in her bare feet across an emerald green pasture, leading her white charger; how stoic she had been during the photo shoot in the bitter cold weather, never losing her smile (it was the thought of that fat pay-cheque which kept her going) and then, the stupid rag announced that it was proud to present their new columnist, Mindy Bloody Hammond.

She has the page 5 spot, straight after the contents and masthead. Pole position, as Richard would probably say. And she writes complete and utter Mills and Boone, schmaltzy, cheesey, gut-wrenchingly awful drivel. And it drives me berserk.

This week, she recounted us poor blithering idiots with a tale of getting on Richard's brand new Harley for a romantic get-away for two, sans kids. But they were constantly beseiged by set-backs, such as no petrol in the tank (*gasp, horror!*), getting lost in the dark (but Mindy did her Girl Guide thang and navigated them not only by reading her map in the dark, but fumbling for her mobile phone and speaking to the Hotel Staff.) *swoon* My Heroine. I'd never have thought of doing that. To add insult to injury, the heavens had opened and she now had rainwater in her biking boots. That must have been bloody awful for her.

Richard became 'gloomy'. He thought he would have to have room service rather than patronise the restaurant (never lose a photo opportunity, though, Rich?). But Mindy came to the rescue! She stripped off her leathers, and there underneath the biker gear was her LBD. She fluffed up her hair, wiped her smeared mascara and "Wow," said Richard (I always thought 'Wow' would have an exclamation mark after it, but obviously not in Mindy's world). "How did you do that? You look like a girl and everything." (Eloquent, eh?)
"You'd be amazed what you can get into a handbag," I smiled. [Insert: *smugly*]

I get 40 fags, my mobile, my cash card, shut-up grub for the kids, 5 lighters, 4 lipsticks, keys and my purse into my handbag, when I can be fagged carrying it, which is almost never - back-pockets do me fine. I don't tend to cart Gucci dresses around with me...

Another thing which drives me bananas is her name. She was Christened Amanda. She is in her mid-40s. What middle-aged woman walks round calling herself, Mindy? MINDY! I ask you. Mandy I can cope with. Mandy is a normal derivative of Amanda. But Mindy?? Oh, come on. 

My real name, which most of you have been waiting for with bated breath is...NOT AGNES...Nope. And I have had a few cutesy-piekin nicknames in the past from soppy blokes, all of whom have been given short-thrift the minute they bastardise my name. Ok...*deep sigh*'s really Alison. So I was called Allsy-poo, Ali-babes, Allsy-Wallsy. 

No. Just stop! Right there...

It is simple: A-L-I-S-O-N. My middle name is Ann. I can cope with Annie, too, from people very close to me.

Just because she is short, petite and has 'Titian hair and an aura of goodness' does not mean she can toy with our affections and worm her way into our hearts with her silly, coy name. She can't even write well. Her tales are bland, boring, 2-dimensional and so 'ordinary' (apart from the fact that she lives in a dirty big castle) that I get angry. I get angry for us struggling bloggers who'd love to be published on our merits - not because we happen to have shagged somebody famous and got their rings on our fingers.

How many of us have to face traumas through our lives? Fatalities, deaths, soul-destroying illnesses, terrible set-backs which can leave us depleted? Do we get paid for writing about it? Do we all WANT to write about it? (and you can call me a hypocrite for writing Annie's Rexia, but it's not being done for commercial value!).

And I wouldn't mind if she was a decent writer and had something of intelligence to say. Then I wouldn't be on my self-righteous rant...
Although not taken last night (my face-pack was brown then), Mr P tells me this is very reminiscent of my scowl as I expostulated about Mindy Bloody Hammond. My own 'luminous beauty' came after the pack was washed off...

PS. The answer to the crossword question is Alecto, the Goddess of Constant Anger. That pretty much sums me up, eh?!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

A Little Toilet Humour for the Day

So, a day which started off with drizzle, turned to rain, then a deluge of such intensity that I have just seen every animal on God's damp planet strolling in pairs towards an old gentleman with a long beard who seems to be in a hurry to get his Ark cruise underway.

Conversation in every local shop went like this:

-Turned bitter, hasn't it?
-Brrr. I know. Had to stick the heating on last night it was that cold.
-I didn't. I wore two jumpers, a T-shirt, a fleece, jacket, thermals, jeans, three pairs of socks...*pause while they think of something else to have worn*...AND my wellies.
-Just never seems to have stopped raining. All it did all summer was rain. Now autumn's upon us and it's just bloody raining. All the time.
-Turned bitter, though, hasn't it?
-Brr. I know...and ad infinitum...

Mr Parsnip decided he was going to be My Hero and do all the ironing - of which there appeared to be an awful lot. I found this an extremely generous gesture until I really got thinking about the motives behind it. Mr Parsnip likes to watch trashy horror movies - anything with a Zombie in it is right up his street. He also knows that an evening's viewing of these is just not going to happen in this house. Not unless I was suddenly hospitalised for a mysterious tropical illness or Jonny Depp called to see if I wanted a pie and a pint down at The Gate. But when he irons (and I will generally prostrate myself to anyone who offers to do this chore for me) I scurry out of the way sharpish and he is thus left to put on any DVD he wants.

I caught a snippet of one such film yesterday as I was walking through the lounge to get to the kitchen. At this particular juncture, the two main characters appeared to be learning how to conjugate the verb, 'To f*ck'. I am sure any old English masters would have been impressed by their enthusiasm, if not the actual conjugation. There were also too many split infinitives involved...

Thus ensued a philisophical debate about why on earth these characters were trying to kill Zombies when Zombies are already dead. I argued back and forth that it was impossible to kill something which is already dead, ergo, Zombie Movies are utter codswallop. Mr P looked at me enigmatically, raised an eyebrow and said, Ah, therein lies the question. Which basically means he hasn't got a clue, either.

When it was time for bed, we decided to take our books upstairs together with a hot drink (and the cigs...yes, disgusting to smoke in bed, I know, but I pay the bills on this house, not you) and have a read. Mr P enjoys Fantasy Fiction books. You know the ones I mean? They involve characters called Skilgarrion The Impaler; Garth The Destroyer; Horace The Pencil Sharpener...that type of stuff.

I prefer autobiographies, travelogues; anything factual, really - but my preference is for humorous anecdotal tales. So, I picked up Bill Bryson's The Thunderbolt Kid. I got up to chapter 4 and I don't think I have cried laughing at a book as much as this. At certain parts, I wasn't sure if I was going to make the toilet on time. I giggled, guffawed, chuckled and howled at the prose. I don't recommend it, though...why should he get a plug when he's already loaded? (Note to Mr Bryson: If you ever stumble over this blog, I think you are marvellous and would love to be your highly-paid researcher. The above was only a joke - see, I have even put a photo on...I love you, really, I do xxx)

In one of the chapters, he tells the reader of a kid called Lumpy Kowalski - so-called because he always had a lump of poo in his pants. I think every junior school child knows a Lumpy Kowalski, don't they? I certainly did. His name was Stuart. He was a slobbery, loving child, goofy and fussed over by his mother who was a bit ineffectual and probably never raised her voice in her life. Almost every day, Stuart would 'have an accident' and until one of us alerted the teacher to the God-awful pong, Stuart would sit there on his own personal cushion of warmth and stench, oblivious to the gipping noises and fainting children surrounding him.

Miss? Stuart's pooed his pants again.
*a weary sigh*
Come on Stuart, let's get you a new pair of pants.

And Stuart would return ten minutes later wearing a pair of Lost Property shorts.

As soon as his mother saw him at the school gate, coming ambling towards her wearing pants designed for a boy way much bigger than he, she would also sigh wearily and say: Ooohhh, Stewdle, Not Again.

'Stewdle' would just grin amiably and rattle off about his day of needlework, maths, English and all the other dull subjects to which 1970s teachers subjected us poor children.

Another boy at our Junior School (and he was a bit tough, so I shall not be giving out his real name here) was nicknamed 'Warby'. Warby stank, no matter what time of day. He was grimy from the moment he got to school and got worse as the day wore on. He had badly crossed-eyes, chipped teeth and knuckles which looked like they were made of India rubber, they were that calloused. The stains on his clothes were quite remarkable. In fact, I am wondering if he was attemping a Map of the World, they were that interesting. They were certainly reminiscent in their size, shape and different colours, to the fascinating countries on my globe at home.

One fateful day, and again, it was raining, therefore 'Wet Playtime' wherein the teachers locked themselves into the Staff Room with their coffee, tea, Digestives and a bottle of Gordon's Gin and left around sixty under-11s to their own devices. I was sat at my desk drawing, as usual and Warby sat on my desk lid. I politely asked him to move (I was a very polite child, and also, it didn't pay to anger Warby). Surprisingly he did, after shoving a grimy finger into my sketch and demanding to know 'Warrizit?' 

A thermo-nuclear reactor for a supersonic warhead, I responded.

Borin'...and thus he left...

And left me with a smear across my desk.

I am a wimp. I don't like nasty smears and smells, and will always tentatively sniff the dishcloth before each use, just in case it has gone a bit 'foisty'. I don't like mucky toilets; I don't like sticky splashes...and I certainly don't like smears on MY desk.

I ran to the toilet, got a handful of wet paper towels and the ubiquitous Buttermilk soap which was found in every cheap school toilet in the 70s (and probably still is now) and scrubbed at my desk until it gleamed. I dried it off, and then proceeded to sniff it vigorously. I continued to sniff it all afternoon until Mrs Brown squawked at me to Stop That At Once Or You'll Get A Smack (that was how she also dealt with the OCD kids). I was utterly mortified. I thought I might get Warby's Disease (which is what we secretly said behind his back if he touched you or any of your possessions). And Warby's Disease meant that you got crossed-eyes, black fingernails and smelt for the rest of your life. Not nice.

An expression from #1 and #2s junior school days has also entered this household: The Alvanley Poo. God help you if you leave an Alvanley Poo in the toilet here. This entered the Mildew-Parsnip vocabulary via #2 who was revolted by the Alvanley Primary infant school children who simply 'forgot' to flush the toilet after going for a poo. The poo thus squats in the bottom of the pan, 'frays' and leaves a pool of brown water surrounding it. This is an Alvanley Poo. It can happen frequently in our house as the water pressure (despite all the bloody rain) isn't that marvellous and there can be a few escapees. #2 is unforgiving. She doesn't give a damn about water pressures, United Utilities, second flushes, high-fibre diets. She DOES NOT want to sit atop An Alvanley Poo. And therefore, the perpetrator (and a first-class interrogation will take place) is discovered and frog-marched to the toilet to Get Rid Of It. Invariably, she is hopping from one foot to the next by this stage, desperate to go, but refusing to use the downstairs, outhouse loo, which is always spotlessly clean, but there are some rather large spiders who like to over-winter in there and I do, therefore, empathise with her on that score.

So, if you were to ever visit our house for a nice piece of home-made cake and a large glass of whiskey, and get caught short, please, please, ensure that the toilet is empty before you leave. And always change the toilet roll when it has finished. Thank you.