Archive | January, 2010

Fight, Club

31 Jan

I told you shopping was a bad idea: the Hub and I spent our afternoon in Stockport squabbling. We squabbled in his bank – why could we not draw out the money in the warm inside, where muggers were less likely to steal it from my shivering fingers? And why did I not top up my phone through the ATM while we were there? What is this irrational mistrust I have of technology? (Pity he didn’t ask me that ten minutes ago, just after I lost the first and much funnier draft of this post*) My bank – why did he have to wait so long in the queue for me while I went to three shops in an effort to find one with a working machine to top me up by a fiver when I could have done it at his bank? We squabbled in the post office when I suddenly realised that he had not wrapped Tory Boy’s book like I asked him to before we left the house and he claimed that he hadn’t known I wanted it so urgently because I had never said so and I countered with the adult response that it was about time he learned to read my mind then; raspberry. In the £ shop we had reached glaring point and in the street outside, with our sotto voce argument now screechy-screechy, we decided to kiss and make up before we reached the point of exchanging blows with the bargain toothpaste we were carrying. After twenty-eight years together, we are pretty good at conflict resolution; especially because 1) I know I’m right – like the old joke has it, a husband’s place is always in the wrong; and 2) I wasn’t sure my toothpaste would get the first blow in.**

He will be nice to me tomorrow: I’m having a wisdom tooth out. Though he can’t help wondering how I’ll manage without it. I was not sure if he was referring to my mind or my eating habits when he said that, so I decided it would be safer not to ask. I’m not looking forward to the day – going to the dentist is as bad as going to the hairdresser’s: a stranger has your looks in their hands and charges a month’s wages for the privilege, no matter the out come. All you can do is shiver, sweat and pray that it won’t be too awful. I actually love having my hair done; I just don’t like going to salons for it. What I really need is a personal hairdresser that I’ve known for years to be at my beck and call: another reason to win the lottery.

Fortunately, I trust the dentist who will be butchering me: it is Mr Lee, who I’m going to marry when the Hub is castaway for four years, if you remember.*** Mr Lee won’t remember because I haven’t yet told him the fate that awaits him. Poor Mr L: he thought he had escaped me when he left his practice to go into dental surgery. The shock on his face when he sees me tomorrow will do more to relax my nerves than all the drugs he’s going to be pumping in.

I’m off now to stuff my gullet, because I won’t be able to eat for a few hours tomorrow and I want to be prepared. Still, it could be worse: I could be getting a haircut.

*the grass is always greener and the jokes are always funnier on the other side; have you noticed?

**the text is always greyer in parts where my techneptitude triumphs; have you noticed?

***new readers might like to type ‘Tom Hanks’, ‘Demi Moore’ and ‘Dentist’ into the Search box on the right for clarification

You Don’t Have To Cook To Live Here; But It Helps

29 Jan

All that talk of food this morning made me hungry for my breakfast, so I decamped to the kitchen once I’d finished blogging.  Like the Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe, my cupboard was bare.  And before you pull me up on my mixed nursery rhymes – how much do you think it cost that poor woman to feed all of those children?  She should have spent some of it on contraception years ago and she might have been able to afford at least a boot.

It being Bill Day, the cupboard needs re-stocking so there was no cereal for me and I’m not mad on toast unless it’s accompanied by the hand of the person who made it.  I found two eggs cowering in the fridge, and cower they were right to do: I have invented a new recipe.  Well, not so much ‘invented a new recipe’ as ‘cocked-up an old one.’  Being too eager for food and too lazy to correct my mistakes, I had put away the flour before I should have done and the mixture was way too thin.   I cooked it anyway and the bits that weren’t burnt were really nice, I think.  I had a little trouble flipping the pancakes so I beg you, if you will, to imagine a sort of plaited scrambled egg and you will be as revolted by my breakfast as I was.

Bon appetit!

Here Come The Birds

29 Jan

Summertime and the living is easy

The Hub and I went on a mercy mission yesterday.  The poor birds in our local park are starving.  The reservoir still has patches of ice in the corners (how odd that water has corners) and was still almost completely frozen over last week.  We took the dog for his walk there on Tuesday and noticed an old lady feeding the birds.  The geese – about fifty of them – climbed out of the water and surrounded her, then followed her back to her car when she was done; they also scavenged for food on the ground.  I have never seen anything like it.  Geese in our park are usually quite stand-offish.  They consent to be fed upon occasion but they often get bored and leave it to the ducks.  The ducks didn’t get a bite on Tuesday.  

The Hub took one look at the stalking geese and dumped me and the dog to go buy a loaf; and we went back yesterday with more.  It’s not fun to be hungry, I imagine.  I am fortunate enough never to have missed a meal that wasn’t scheduled by a diet.

My diets don’t last long – about mid-morning, usually.  I like food; I really do.   Hot roast dinners with all the trimmings; cheese & onion crisps followed by Maltesers and a mug of Earl Grey; steak, egg & chips; lasagne; hot, buttered toast; cheese & pickle on crackers with a glass of cold milk…that’s today’s menu sorted.

Thinking about food distracts me from today’s problem: paying bills.  I like paying bills because it means I can breathe for another month; but I don’t like going into Stockport to do it.  I have never been a great shopper (except for food shopping: I like food shopping).  I read these surveys about 98% of women spending a third of their lives in Sainsburys and Top Shop and I wonder, who are these people?  If my children are home, my bills paid and my cupboards full, I am happy.  I don’t get the compulsion to spend whole Saturdays in packed precincts, queuing for forty minutes to buy three vests and a sale corset that is two sizes too small and will be worn only once because you nearly choked on the fat that was pushed upwards, giving your neck nowhere to go and the sound of exploding satin left your husband temporarily deaf and he still screams when he passes the lingerie section of Debenhams.

Paying bills isn’t really the problem: that was a distraction from the real issue: public toilets.  I can’t be out for more than an hour in winter without the cold attacking the nether regions (see that clever use of the definite article so you don’t think it’s my nether regions I’m talking about?  I would never discuss such a delicate subject with my public; the children don’t like it).  Actually, it’s not even the public toilets that’s the problem; they are usually cleaned every hour or I report them to the manager if I am not completely satisfied.  It is those horrible, awful, disgusting air dryers.  I hate them, no matter how cool Madonna made them look in Desperately Seeking Susan.  You put wet hands under the dryer and it’s not so bad if it’s automatic but what if it has one of those huge silver buttons to press?  You don’t want to touch that grubby thing with your nice clean hands so you raise an elbow but if you’re short like me it slides off at first contact, throwing you off balance; you find yourself on the filthy floor (it’s been fifty-nine minutes since the last inspection) and you have to start the whole hand washing cycle again. 

If you are lucky enough to have a modern air dryer, the damn thing won’t start no matter how much you shake your hands under it, so you move away and say apologetically to the woman behind you who picked you up off the floor, ‘It’s not working; sorry,’ and she smiles like you’re an idiot because she can’t hear you over the rush of air coming from the dryer.  Defeated, you shuffle wearily out, shaking your hands as you go and looking for all the world like you escaped from a Bob Fosse audition; but it’s cold out there, remember, and you don’t want to put wet hands in your mittens so you wipe them on your trouser leg, by which you mean your bum but you say ‘trouser leg’ because you don’t want anyone to think you uncouth.  And that’s how you’re going to spend this afternoon: walking around Stockport with wet hand prints on your backside, showing the world how couth you really are.



The Boy Nick Done Knocked Again

28 Jan

The boy Nick knocked again today. He of the prison visiting order and potatoes for his Christmas Dinner. He has shaved off all of his hair and looks a little scary now. That might also have had something to do with the stink of booze and wide-eyed look. He wanted to phone his doctor to see if his prescription was ready. He held out his own phone in one hand and about £2 in change in the other.  I didn’t take it.  I am under strict orders from the Hub to in no circumstances whatsoever let him in the house, so I dialled the number at the front door on my house phone and then gave it to him to use.  His prescription was ready so he wandered off, coming back a moment later with my phone and a vague ‘Thanks.’  I’m pretty sure he was using but he seemed quite harmless.  I have no experience of drug users beyond the telly so I don’t know if is is usual for them to be as dopey as Nick always is.

Any advice?

Spamming The Spammers

27 Jan

Do you remember me telling you way back in November about the way the Hub deals with spam phone calls (Don’t Call Us; We’ll Call You)? Judging by the way he was giggling to himself today, I think he has now found a way to have fun with junk mail, too. Do you ever get those letters from survey companies, asking you for information ranging from the make and model of your car to your baby’s shoe size and how much money you are willing to part with so that charities can hound you for the rest of your life, all for the gift of a homemade pen the length of your little fingernail? The Hub received one today and started to fill it in but got hacked off at the level of intimate detail they required, so he chucked the form in the shredder, took a blank piece of paper and wrote ‘Boo!’ on it, folded it in half and stuck it in the pre-paid envelope. He chuckled all afternoon and I suspect that any junk mail with a pre-paid envelope inside will be receiving similar responses in the future.

You’re Only As Old As The Woman You Feel

26 Jan

As a result of today’s Thought For The Day, the poor Hub has just discovered he is middle-aged…I have had my first night sweat. It was like waking up in a fridge of watery vaseline (ah, that takes me back a few years). Unpleasant but bearable. Roll on hot flushes! I’m a man; I can take it.

One consequence of the onset of old age is that it has given me more empathy for my husband. In spite of being a man and younger than me, he has been suffering night sweats for the past fourteen years. Night sweats, day sweats, hot sweats, cold sweats (there’s a poem in there somewhere) – all have plagued him as symptoms of his CFS/ME. I have washed his sweaty clothes and sympathised but until yesterday I had never truly appreciated how horrible they are to experience.

I’m not great on empathy, I must admit; particularly when it comes to mothers mistreating – as I see it – their children. I never got the feminist position on Sylvia Plath, for example, that it was okay to commit suicide by gassing herself because she put food in the children’s cot and wet towels to seal the doors. How positively caring of her. Never mind that they might not have been found for days or they could have been accidentally blown up; and what about the long-term consequences of knowing that your mother preferred to kill herself than care for you? I know she suffered severe depression and I’m not knocking the effects of that awful illness, but I just cannot imagine any circumstance in which I would choose death over the well-being of my children.

Which brings me to the real issue of today’s blog, because I cannot avoid it any longer: the ‘not guilty’ verdict on Bridget Kathleen [Kay] Gilderdale, the mother who assisted in her daughter’s suicide. Her daughter Lynn had CFS/ME; was paralysed by it; had to be fed through a tube; and could only communicate by sign language. Mrs Gilderdale cared for her daughter round-the-clock for seventeen years and watched her waste away. I can’t begin to imagine how terrible that must have been for her. My husband has severe symptoms that are getting slowly but steadily worse, but he can still walk, eat and drive. He can talk to me, shout to me, rage at me and reach over to kiss me. Yes, he does it all in great pain and through gritted teeth (especially the kissing part, but that might be a consequence of my bad breath), and there are days and sometimes weeks when he can’t do any of those things and must stay in bed, but I cannot yet envision a time when he begs me for help to end his suffering.

Inevitably, the question must occur to those who live with people with long-term health issues: would I kill a person I love if they asked me to? My own answer is ‘no’ – at the moment. But I have not walked in Mrs Gilderdale’s shoes. What would I do if my husband was so incapacitated that he had to rely on me for everything? We have discussed it before and he would not want to live like that. Do I love my husband enough to kill him? I honestly don’t know. I hope so. I hope not. My faith tells me that murder is wrong; is mercy killing murder? The jury in this case say not; the jury last week in the case of Frances Inglis said it was. The law is undecided.

How much love Mrs Gilderdale must have for her daughter to take such a step, knowing that she would probably go to jail; but she could not refuse her daughter’s plea, no matter the cost to herself; and here I mean Lynn’s death. I cannot imagine anything worse happening in my life than the death of one of my children. I feel physically sick just writing about it. Think how it must feel knowing you caused it.

I never really understood the lyrics of a Jim Steinman song until now: I would do anything for love but I won’t do that. Am I selfish to put my own feelings first? I think I probably am. I can only sadly admire Mrs Gilderdale’s love and courage and pray that I never have to find out if I have it too.

Big Brothers

25 Jan

I haven’t watched Big Brother since the third series but I thought I would give this one a go as it’s the last Celebrity BB, and I have to admit that I am enjoying it.  It helps that the Hub is an amateur psychologist and that he reads body language like an expert: he predicted when the inmates would turn on each other, who would bully whom, what the micro-expressions were saying about their real feelings, and so on.  I think the reason I have really enjoyed it, however, is because there has been little in the way of arguments or nastiness, and the contestants might want more public exposure but at least none of them appear to be freaks.

I particularly enjoyed the cake episode.  I would show it to you but Channel 4 have blocked it on You Tube in this country.  What happened was this: Dane performed a secret task and was rewarded in the Diary Room with champagne and cake.  He was also told he could nominate someone else to receive a piece of cake.  He chose Stephanie.  When she sat in the BB chair, a hatch opened above her head and cake dropped on her; then she was free to leave the Diary Room and tell what had happened.  Each housemate was then called separately to the Diary Room.  Knowing what had happened to Stephanie, their anxiety was hilarious to watch, especially when Big Brother ordered them to move so they were directly under the hatch.  No-one else was caked, however.  Then Stephanie was called back, having bathed and changed, and was caked again.  It was much funnier to watch than it reads here.  My reason for mentioning it was that it was a perfect example of how terrorism works: one person was targeted and the rest feared the same thing would happen to them; it didn’t actually have to happen to anyone else to create an atmosphere of anxiety.

It is amazing how quickly housemates can turn on each other (especially, as I know from experience, when food is involved).  I saw it for myself this weekend: Tory Boy couldn’t make it last week for Spud’s birthday so he came this week instead.  He took Spud into Manchester for the day, buying him a City shirt with his name on; lunch (an I’m-shopping-in-Manchester-with-my-brother-and-we’re-having-a-great-day Sub – there really is a Sub for every occasion); taking him to the cool shops to spend his own money; and lending him the price of Batman Begins.

That was Saturday, when TB was the best big brother in the world.  Sunday, they were at war.  I won’t go into detail – having lost interest three seconds into their respective whinges – but it came to a head with sixty knocks in sixty seconds on one bedroom door and a retaliatory sixty texts in sixty seconds received on one phone; or it might have been the other way round.  Who cares?  At least there was no violence involved.

Tory Boy left last night and Spud complained five minutes later that he was missing him.  Brothers!

Past Notes

24 Jan

I’m still busy with the Big Clean – hence the late post – but it has turned up a few gems, like a set of jewellery I thought I had lost, and an old notebook. It’s not a notebook like my present notebooks (no writing in it), but it has newspaper clippings stuck in that I collected over a couple of years. I thought I would share a few of them with you. Being uneducated at that point, I didn’t always think to quote the source, but I will do my best. I don’t think it’s plagiarism because I am telling you before I start that I did not write them.


I’m starting with an apposite cartoon called Wright Angles, from a South African newspaper, probably the Johannesburg Star, in the early Nineties:

Toady: I hope you’ll excuse the way our kitchen looks. It’s a mess.

Friend: Well, you know what they say, Toady. “A woman’s work is never done.”

Toady: In my mother’s case, it’s because she never does it.

From The Star, 24/10/95:


  • Don’t repeat yourself over and over again
  • No verbless sentences
  • Elliptical circumlocutions obfuscate substantive meaning
  • Collective nouns is always a singular subject for the verb
  • Tautology is a huge great big error
  • Foreign language usage is de trop
  • Classical allusions are as useless as the labours of Sisyphus
  • Probably, generally speaking, the problem in most writing is, in the main part, the frequently encountered inability of most writers to make a definite point succinctly
  • Journalese stinks
  • Motivate leveraged-up empowerment with politically correct buzzwords

I think this next one might have come from The Sunday Telegraph, but I’m not certain of it and I don’t know the date or who wrote it. I kept it because the last bit makes me laugh out loud:

I hugely enjoyed the leading article in Thursday’s Guardian, entitled “Vote him out”. But who were the paper’s reader’s being advised to vote against? Why, Slobodan Milosevic. I was not aware that the newspaper had many readers among the Yugoslav electorate. And if it does, I wonder how they would respond to the advice from 119 Farringdon Road, EC1, which was that they should accept Mr Milosevic’s request for a second ballot in the presidential elections (he having failed to rig the first one properly). The Guardian‘s stern exhortation reminds me of the leader from a provincial Irish newspaper in 1914: “We give this solemn warning to Kaiser Wilhelm: The Skibereen Eagle has its eye on you.”

Getting Into A Bit Of A Lather

23 Jan

Derr Fourteen in the Big Bother House and Tilly Bud declares she’s givin’ up cleanin’ for goodd.  All pictures, bedside drawers and crushed ironin’ will stay in the big double cupboard on the landin’; the Christmas decorations remain in the bath.  Nor-one in the House has had a bath since Monday mornin’ and the stench is slowly becomin’ visible.  Tilly Bud did wash her hair with anti-bacterial hand soap on Thursday at 7:46 aa-em sor she’s not afraid of nits, but it looked greasier than before she started, and she could’nae find a hat or a cardboard box to cover it.  The mood in the house has fallen dramatcally as a result.

Nominations are as follows:

Tilly Bud: all votes; twice

Big Bother House, this is Davina.  You are live on Planet Earth; please do not swear.  Tilly Bud, Tilly Bud, and Tilly Bud you have all been nominated for eviction.  I can now reveal that the first person to leave the Big Bother House is …………….





………………………………………………………………………….. Tilly Bud! 

 I’m coming to get you! 

Don’t worry, I’ve got a scarf for your horrible hair.


Tilly Bud

you have been evicted

please leave the Big Bother House

with that dirty head.

Better Late Than Never

23 Jan

I am writing this tonight though it’s already tomorrow, and will be when you read this; just as my tonight will be your yesterday and my tomorrow your today. Unless you’re reading this on Dave*, in which case, Top Gear will be on in a minute.

I blame daylight saving time. I haven’t saved any this week; in fact, I have used more than I needed: the electricians turned off everything except the lights, which they left on in every room for two-and-a-half days. The only advantage to being without power in all that time, I thought, was the money I would save on my utilities bill…now I’m wondering if I can get a government grant or steal an electrician’s wallet to cover the cost.

Don’t mind me; I’m knackered with a capital KNACK. It’s not the shifting a life-time’s worth of junk from your loft or sitting around doing nothing for two days that tires you out; it’s the cleaning up afterwards. I had the stupid idea of doing an early spring clean as I put stuff back. One day of that and I had to spend today recovering.

Housework: I can’t say I’m in favour of it.

* A cable tv channel that has Top Gear on a 24-hour loop

What Do You Think Of My New Look?

21 Jan

As my house is going through so many changes at the moment, I thought I’d do the same with my blog.  Do you like it? Now you can see comments underneath, which is easier.

Let There Be Light…Please

20 Jan

An artist's impression of our house over the last two days

(Yes, I know it’s a photograph of fog outside, but the Hub always deletes my pictures on the grounds that no-one is much interested in photos of nothing.)


Took them twice as long as promised and the clean-up will take even longer.  I’m away to my dusty bed, secure in the knowledge we’ll have time to escape arson attacks or electrical fires because of my four smoke detectors, which won’t need new batteries for ten years.

Bear with me.

The Sound Of Music

18 Jan

Apologies if I owe you a reply to an email; I have been incredibly busy all week and I have not had time to write, but I have not forgotten you.  I have been busy because my house is to be re-wired tomorrow; I may have mentioned it.  We will be without electricity all day so, as Captain von Trapp might say, ‘My fellow bloggers, I shall not see you again for a very long time.’  Forty-eight hours is a long time in the blogosphere – if I don’t post every day you will forget me and move on to a more reliable housewife.

It has been a long road getting here: a man called at my house before Christmas to survey it.  Despite the fact that he couldn’t move for decorations, huge trees, and the thirty-seven gifts I was wrapping when he called, he seemed to think a little shuffle around was all that was needed for the electricians to get on with their work.   I trusted him (it was Christmas and he was Scouse, after all), thinking the only problem might be the room my backside takes up: how do I solve a problem like my rear?  I did a little clearing and then forgot about it until the engineer called the Friday before our due date.

Not a nice man.  He walked around my house with a disapproving nose, peering into cupboards to see if we had storage space, and tut-tutting the whole time.  He even went up the loft ladders, which must have sixteen, going on seventeen steps, then pulled up short: ‘There’s no way we can do this on Monday.’   Granted, you could climb every mountain in Britain and not be qualified to find your way around the detritus of fourteen years that chokes my under-roof area, but it’s not that bad.  Though I did once get trapped in one gap for an hour before the Hub came to look for me, wanting his dinner; but that was a long time ago and he has blown up many balloons since then in an effort to keep me sweet.

I begged the engineer not to write us off until I had tried to get rid of some my favourite things, and he graciously gave me a few days.  I spent the whole of last weekend Freecycling, or Freegling, as it is now: the subsidiary Brit arm fell out with the Yank parent arm about its lack of understanding about how things work here, and declared its independence.  No recycling with that over-the-pond heckling! was the cry.  Whatever.  All I know is, people quickly collected three old vacuum cleaners, PC World’s entire back-catalogue of broken computers, and even a lonely stoat fur I found in the corner over the bath where the birds nest.  I was happy to say so long, farewell to it all. 

The engineer did not return, but the surveyor and the head electrician appeared on Tuesday.  They both seemed to think the job could be done tomorrow, but the loft was still a cause for concern because every card, drawing, sentimental tat  and hand-made gift ever given to us by the boys lay in boxes right over the area needed for access.  So it was back up in the loft for me and broken toys, broken appliances, old clothes, bedding and an idle vice went the way of their former housemates.  Why would anyone want such crap?  I really don’t understand it, I thought, as I lamented each departure.

Now the loft is as clear as it is ever going to be; the house is as uncluttered as the moment before the van with our furniture arrived fourteen years ago; and I have confidence that it will be a go tomorrow. 

Amazing!  I had just typed that last full stop when the electrician called, inspected and told me it is a go – what a nice man.  It was music to my ears.  I must have done something good.

Tomorrow will be as easy as do-re-mi: all I have to do is get up; make, eat and clean up after breakfast; shower & dress; put everything, including drawers full of clothes and tvs which are blocking access, on the beds, tables and chairs; prepare a flask of tea and sandwiches for lunch; and take out tomorrow’s already prepared dinner from the freezer…all by eight a.m., when ten burly men will arrive to rip my house apart and put it back together again in time for tea.

Here’s to a happy, dustsheet-covered day.  See you on Wednesday!


I Might As Well Face It, I’m A Victim Of Love

17 Jan

I was going to write about Celebrity Big Brother this morning.  I thought Vinnie was the star of last night’s show.  Partly because he said the best thing I’ve heard all year (bearing in mind it is only January 16th): of Nicola: ‘She doesn’t know whether it’s Wednesday or Wembley.’  Partly because he played the Alpha Male so nicely; and partly because he fell off a chair and later tripped as he walked into the snug, but still looked cool.

However, I am not going to talk to you about those things after all –  because my husband loves me.  I came down this morning to find bunches of red heart balloons inscribed with I love you, inside bigger, white balloons; attached to balloon sticks; jutting out of the kitchen roll holder and the dishes cupboard.  Aah! I thought; opened the cupboard door, and a thousand of my favourite mugs crashed to the kitchen floor, bouncing off the kitchen counter and scattering wet tea bags everywhere.  As I cleared up pottery shards with damp kitchen roll – doing a back limbo as I tore off the sheets, to dodge the rotating weapons of love destruction – I wished that sometimes my husband didn’t love me so much.



Proof that you don't need money to show your love

I can’t show you a picture of the other bunch because they were burst by low-flying cups. 

Once A Pun A Time

16 Jan

Yesterday’s wonderful comments from Doraz (see Happy Birthday to My Baby (1) & (2) ) reminded me of a recent homework exercise for my writing class: we had to write a short story with a punning last line.  Here’s my attempt:

The toy shop was having a Sesame Street sale but, to drive up demand, they restricted the availability of popular characters. Sale day arrived and there were many children waiting outside the store.  Fearing a panic that might result in kids getting hurt, the owner insisted that the adults shop in silence.  I struggled through whispering crowds, trying to find her favourite Bert and Ernie for my toddler.  I found a discarded Ernie under a counter, but Bert was proving problematic.  Suddenly, I noticed a small boy with a Bert doll on the other side of the shop.  I forced my way through the crowds as quickly and quietly as I could until I was behind him.  He was gripping the toy tightly and didn’t look as if he was about to let go.  I acted decisively: kneeling down behind him, out of sight, I suddenly yelled in his ear, grabbed the doll as he dropped it, and dove for cover as everyone looked around for the source of the disturbance.  On my way home with my purchases, I reflected that, definitely, a Bert in the hand was worth ‘Boo!’ in the hush.

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