Archive | September, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For…

30 Sep

Image via Wikipedia


Today is my birthday.  I mention this, not in a warped desire to have people I’ve never met send me polite but sincere greetings; nor in a masochistic desire to be reminded – as if my aches and pains and grey hairs weren’t already doing it – that I’m getting old; but because I have nothing else to blog about.

Oh, all right!  You forced it out of me: I am entirely masochistic and I love to be noticed (hence the daily blog).  It’s my birthday and I’ll lie if I want to.  I don’t think I’ll tell you my age, though (it’s my birthday and I’ll be shy if I want to).


The day started yesterday, with a visit from my friend Alison, who brought me a huge bouquet.  This morning it was the turn of the Hub, who gave me a decent MP3 player.  He bought me a cheapish one for Christmas and that broke so he sent it back and they replaced it and that broke so he sent it back and they replaced it with another kind and that broke from overuse a couple of months ago – right about the time Glee finished and the albums came out and I had a ton of decorating to do.  I think I wore it out.

Next, it was the real presents, from the son who hasn’t deserted me. He has been asking for weeks what I want for my birthday, and each time I have replied, ‘Maltesers.’   Sure enough, my first gift from him was a box of Maltesers.  So was my second and third.  The Hub gave me his first gift: four boxes of Maltesers.  That was followed by a bottle of expensive wine.  Then it was back to Spud, who handed me a large gift: two cunningly disguised boxes of Maltesers. 

My youngest son is going to do well with women, because he has mastered the art of listening to what they want, then supplying it – out of his own meagre savings as well; what woman could resist a man with a small bank balance but a big heart?  (No women, so long as they don’t know about his secret stash, hoarded for the new PS3 game coming out on Friday.)

Spud also wrote a special song to celebrate my day; it goes like this:

One day closer to dying
One day closer to death
Your tale has been told
You’re getting old
Soon you’ll take your last breath

It’s my birthday and I’ll throttle my child if I want to.

My plans for today have been made for me:

  1. Wait at home while the Hub goes gallivanting off to the hospital to find out why he’s got a girly disease. 
  2. Crack open my expensive bottle of wine with my blonde friend this afternoon.  I have to share it with someone or I will have one glass and it will sit in the fridge for months.  The last bottle of wine I has was opened in January and finally chucked out in August. 
  3. Eat.  For my birthday meal, I fancy steak, egg & chips – it’s my birthday and I’ll fry if I want to.  Or maybe a nice chicken pasty and apple pudding of some sort…it’s my birthday and I’ll eat pie if I want to.  I’ll let them decide: I refuse to cook because it’s my birthday and somebody better make me something nice for dinner.  
  4. Attend Spud’s school’s careers evening. 

Finally, I will go to bed at eight while they watch the match.  Don’t feel sorry for me: I need some alone time at the end of the day; how else can I wade into nine boxes of Maltesers without having to share them?





Christmas Has Come Early

29 Sep
Christmas in the post-War United States

Image via Wikipedia

I know you’ve had a huge post to trawl through today but I have just noticed something and I wanted to share it with you: I have reached my Christmas target of 17,000 hits.  Now I don’t know what to aim for because I don’t want to big myself up, only to come crashing down because I bored you all.

Hmm.  The chart is up and down but I seem to be averaging 2000 hits a month so that leaves:

three months times 2000 factor in holidays that’s less 500 add in might as well try to stretch myself and aim high take away the number I first thought of thumb suck a few others and that equals a hope of 23,433 hits by December 31st. 

You all better help me achieve it or I’m coming after you with boring stories about my kids and my cleaning obsession.  Oh, wait…

A History Lesson

29 Sep
The Palace of Westminster at night as seen fro...

Image via Wikipedia


Now that we have a new leader of the Labour Party, the time seems right to tell you about the adventures of a future leader of the Conservative Party (sorry, dear deceased Labourite Granddads). Tory Boy came back from his two weeks in Westminster declaring that it was the best fortnight of his life. Highlights appear to have been: access to a huge bedroom for the first time in two years (his guest room; not anyone else’s); an excellent transport system (45 minutes from Wimbledon to Westminster via bus, train & two tubes); and the Pope’s back.   


We’ll dispense with the Pope first (no jokes, please; respect the fact that my Nan was a Catholic and always displayed a photograph of the latest one in her home). TB sent us a text to say he was standing right behind the Popemobile and could see His Holiness’s back. It was an historic first Papal State visit to Britain, so I suppose it was worth a text. Tory Boy had a pass which enabled him to get close enough to see the arrival at Westminster Hall. I don’t begrudge him his little witness of history, even if he is an atheist.   

TB tells me that Westminster is like Hogwarts: corridors go off in all directions and people disappear down them and are never heard of again. He worked in the old Scotland Yard building.  He was given a tour of the Commons and the Lords and he says they were beautiful but small. He found the Queen’s throne ‘stunning’ and was surprised to learn that it stayed there permanently; I don’t know why he was surprised: someone would notice if you turned up at the front door with a moving van.  I hope.  The Speaker’s Chair was a gift from New Zealand. The doors behind the Speaker were donated by India. Much more of this and we’ll be hearing next that the Queen’s Speech is brought to you by the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis: Come stay with us; we’ll move a mountain to give you the earth.   


The four patron saints of the UK are depicted on stained glass windows in the lobby. Legend has it that St George leads to the Lords, because every Englishman aspires to be a Lord; St David leads to the Commons, because the Welsh yabber on; St Andrew leads to the bars, because the Scots like to drink; and St Patrick leads to the exit, because every Irishman wants out of England. It’s heartening to know that racial stereotypes are alive and well in our nation’s seat of government.   

Tory Boy told us that, contrary to popular belief, St Stephen’s Chapel is not a chapel, but a hall. Thanks for clearing that up, son. There is a myth that the section of floor tile that doesn’t match is the spot where Percival Spencer was assassinated. Coughing noises and blank looks elicited the information that PS was the only British Prime Minister to be assassinated. File:Assassination of Spencer Perceval.jpgThat was news to me: I’d never heard of him, or even that we lost one.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, when I Googled his name for an image, I discovered that I hadn’t been paying attention and it was, in fact, Spencer Perceval.  I’m embarrassed to admit that I could probably name more American presidents than British Prime Ministers – though I can name every monarch in reverse order, going back to Henry VII. (If you want to read a funny story about the Queen, go to this).   

Tory Boy spent most of his time doing research but couldn’t say into what; he did other things as well, but couldn’t say what they were, either. If it’s a matter of confidentiality, they’ve got the right boy: this is a child who, from the age of seven, when I collected him from school and asked him about his day, preferred to tell me that he ‘couldn’t remember’ than share even the tiniest piece of his life with me. He did tell us (we’re back in 2010) that he did case work, dealing with his particular MP’s constituents’ problems but, of course, he couldn’t tell us what they were…I can see having a son at the heart of government is going to be as much use to me as a bottle of bleach in a dirty kitchen.   

The days were as long as he wanted them to be, and some were longer than others; but he did make time to visit the Globe at the weekend, as I have previously mentioned. By the way, his comment that ”Falstaff gave me an apple” was as accurate as an MP’s expense claim: what really happened was that a number of apples rolled off Bardolph’s head and off the stage; one made its way into Tory Boy’s pocket, via his grabbing hand. The boy was born to be a politician.   


He fulfilled a lifetime ambition to re-create a scene from Bedknobs and Broomsticks: he walked down Portobello Road. He bought a couple of books from a charity shop. Before you get to thinking that TB needs to get a life, he also went to the opening of a think tank and to a wine tasting.   

He was taken to the wine tasting by his kind host, who works in that field.  Check out his blog.  It was held in the Vintners’ Hall, one of the oldest buildings in London; and the first to be reconstructed after the fire of 1666. TB said the building was fabulous, with Thirteenth Century tapestries hanging on the walls and even an Eighteenth Century Samurai sword (which seems an odd thing to leave lying around for a bunch of winos to get their hands on). Every Mayor of London leaves a gift in the Court Room; gifts date back to the 1700s.    


Tory Boy knows all this because he was given a tour. Tours are not given to the public in the Vintners’ Hall but Tory Boy decided to just ask someone who worked there; and that kind person obliged. Perhaps it was all the wine floating around.  Talking of which, TB’s host gave him a crash course in wine tasting and the first thing Tory Boy did was spy out every bottle of wine costing more than £30 and taste only those. My son will go far in politics; I just know it.    

Perhaps it was the wine; perhaps it was the double Pusser’s Rum at work; perhaps it was the excitement; perhaps it was the hard work; but his sleep issues disappeared overnight. He was in bed by nine most nights and asleep soon after.    

Remember when I told you he was going to Westminster and I said he was running the country? I may have exaggerated, but only a little. His MP was promoted on Tory Boy’s last day: clearly, TB is a man of influence. It’s nothing to do with us, of course; but his hosts, who were wonderful to him, and with whom he hopes to stay in touch. He couldn’t stop praising them. I bet he told them what he did at school when he was seven.    






Sent To Me By My Auntie Freda

28 Sep
Manure ageing and decomposing in sun to make n...

Image via Wikipedia


Something doing the rounds, to keep you going: 








And we never had a whole Mars bar until 1993 

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL WHO WERE BORN IN THE 1930s, 1940s, 50s, 60s and even early 70s 

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us and lived in houses made of asbestos. 

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese, raw egg products, loads of bacon and processed meat, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes or cervical cancer. 

Then after that trauma, our baby cots were covered with bright coloured lead-based paints. 

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets or shoes, not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking. 

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. 

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle. 

Take away food was limited to fish and chip: no pizza shops, McDonalds , KFC, Subway or Nandos. 

Even though all the shops closed at 6.00pm and didn’t open on the weekends, somehow we didn’t starve to death. 

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this. 

We could collect old drink bottles and cash them in at the corner store and buy  Toffees, Gob stoppers, Bubble Gum and some bangers to blow up frogs with. 

We ate biscuits, white bread and real butter and drank soft drinks with sugar in it, but we weren’t overweight because… 


We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the street lights came on. 

No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K. 

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of old prams and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. We built tree houses and dens and played in river beds with matchbox cars. 

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo Wii , X-boxes, no video games at all, no 999 channels on SKY, no video/dvd  films, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms…WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them. 

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents. 

Only girls had pierced ears. 

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever. 

You could only buy Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns at Easter. 

We were given air guns and catapults for our 10th birthdays. 

We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them. 

RUGBY and CRICKET had try-outs and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that: getting into the team was based on MERIT. 

Our teachers used to hit us with canes and gym shoes and bullies always ruled the playground at school. 

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of.  They actually sided with the law. 

Our parents didn’t invent stupid names for their kids like ‘Kiora’ and ‘Blade’ and ‘Ridge’ and ‘Vanilla’. 

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL. 

You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated our lives for our own good. 

And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave their parents were.

I’ve Got A Cloth And I’m Not Afraid To Use It

27 Sep
Large Brown Mantis cleaning itself

Image via Wikipedia

Exciting developments!  The units and counters are in and covered in dust; I have a night of cleaning ahead.  Hooray!

The Searchers

27 Sep
Champion axeman Charlie Winkle competing in a ...

Image by State Library of Queensland, Australia via Flickr

Some of the searches that found me:

  • the laughing ousewife – someone with a strong northern accent, obviously
  • Oday is a good day to diet – the eighth day of the week, thankfully
  • my husband is a criminal – !
  • I love being a housewife poem – as opposed to being a housewife essay…? 
  • poems about bottle caps – !!
  • brown housewife – this one is simply bizarre; I don’t get it
  • only as old as the woman I fee – sorry, sir; this is not that sort of website…
  • and my personal favourite: only as old as the woman I fell – I’m taking odds on whether it was written by a rugby player or a lumberjack

Carry On Tuesday For September 28th

27 Sep
Inside Regina Spektor's home

Image by John E. Lester via Flickr


The prompt from Carry On Tuesday was to use the first two lines from Regina Spektor’s song The Call: 

It started out as a feeling
which then grew into a hope




Heeding The Call 

It started out as a feeling
which then grew into a hope:
the guy at the end of the email
threw me a virtual rope.
I took my car to meet him;
we walked the slippery slope
of internet suicide websites.
Living was out of our scope.


This was inspired by the story of ‘Heaven’s Little Girl’, who met a stranger on the net and committed suicide with him. 

A Billion Interesting Facts

25 Sep

I read this today at Mike LaMonica’s Blog and I thought it was so interesting I had to share it:

A billion is a thousand million. If you wanted to count to a billion, it would take 31 years, 251 days, 7 hours and 39 seconds (if you counted one per second). A billion seconds ago, it was 1958. A billion dollars is 266 small U-Haul boxes jammed end-to-end and floor to ceiling in crisp $100 dollar bills. So you think a billionaire has a “ton” of money?  Well, a ton of $100 bills is about only, $90,800,000. Chump change. Most commercial jets fly about 7 miles high.  If you took crisp, new $1,000 bills, it would soar 63 miles high.

If I had a billion I might finally be able to put a dent in my credit card bill.  Or up my stats (£5 for you each time you read my blog or get a friend to read it).


The prompt for Writer’s Island this week takes longer to explain than the senryu that came from it: 

The twenty-second prompt for 2010 is in honor of American poet, singer-songwriter, musician, composer, cartoonist, screenwriter, and author — Shel Silverstein. Today would have been Shel’s 78th birthday…Today’s prompt will be both a word and an image, you choose which you want to use as inspiration. The appropriate word I feel is WHIMSY, to reflect Shel’s style. The image offered as a prompt follows here:

So you can let yourself be inspired by today’s word, and write anything you wish, light or serious in nature — just try to approach it in a whimsical, humorous, Shel-ian or Seuss-ian way…Or let the wonderful, whimsical image above evoke in you the inspiration to write. It is from Shel’s excellent book “Where The Sidewalk Ends”, and was drawn by Shel — but that need not influence your take on the illustration. You take it in and see it uniquely through your eyes, then whatever it is that strikes you as you view, express it.

Simple again this week, the word whimsy, or Shel’s illustration — whichever sparks your muse, let it move you to write.

So what moved me to write wasn’t ‘whimsy’ or the illustration but the title of the book, Where The Sidewalk Ends.  That’s the muse for you.


When the pavement ends,
opportunities begin:
leap before you look. 





The Glum Housewife

24 Sep
A Marinade for Chicken Tikka

Image via Wikipedia


The plasterer has been and gone and all that remains of him is dust. 

Tory Boy has been to London and back and gone on ahead to Lancaster and all that remains of him is a mound of dirty washing and a room full of necessaries. 

The Hub has been to Painsville and back because the anti-inflammatories are now against the law and his chest infection has acquired squatters’ rights.  He was going to drive TB to uni today but he’s too unwell; he will follow with the necessaries when he can.  He will drive only; I will load the car and TB will off-load it.  The Hub also has a banging migraine, compounded by guilt at letting his son down. 

Spud Bud has gone to tea with his best friend because he’s bored with microwaved meals.  As are we all: home-made potato hash warmed up on Wednesday; Chicken Tikka in a box yesterday – tasty but anathema to me: I can’t see a frozen meal without getting a nervous tic.  I might be a lousy chef but at least it’s all home-cooked inedibles.  There’s bound to be some nutrition in there somewhere. 

The electricians left my stove connected but it was a waste of time because I made the mistake of cleaning it before they arrived and I think water leaked in somewhere and now the power trips if I put any of the rings on.  The oven still works but I’m taking bets on how long it will be before I kill that too. 

I don’t have any kitchen units or counters and my washing machine and dishwasher are not plumbed in.  So, a weekend of sitting around doing nothing is in order.  Woopdeyawndo.  On the plus side, my magazine pile is now down as far as May: Chico is predicting England will win the World Cup and the country is anxious that Rooney might do himself an injury before it starts. 

Today’s silver lining, sort of: I have discovered something astonishing – I am not as dirty as I think I am.  I find that I cannot write in a mess and the house is upside down inside out messy at the moment, so I sit at the computer playing games and can’t enjoy even that because it’s not as much fun without the pressure that I should be doing housework or writing.  I haven’t written a poem in days and I miss it. 

Signed, Self Pitying of Stockport 




Making An Ass Of Myself

23 Sep
Eeyore's in the Alps, Chamonix, France

Image by nikoretro via Flickr


I started this reply to Flo’s question in the comments section of my previous post, but I had so much fun with it I thought I’d post it here instead.  

‘Executive Ass’ as in ‘Executive Assistant’.  

An ass is also a bottom.  

The picture in the previous post is of Bottom in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Bottom (one of the earliest transformers in literature) became an ass.  Bottom was a bit of an idiot.  

Executives are often idiots therefore the job is for an Idiot’s Idiot.  

A synonym for executive is brass; the job title is thus Brass Ass.  

Some other synonyms, courtesy of  

Chief Ass
Controlling Ass
Head Ass
General Ass
President Ass
Upstairs Ass
Bureaucratic Ass
Official Ass
Presiding Ass
Ruling Ass
Supervising Ass

I’m just having fun but it’s possible that at some point these were all genuine jobs, advertised in The Guardian.  


From Wikipedia:  

Ass may refer to:  

  • Donkey
    • Asinus subgenus
    • From the above, slang for “stupid person”
  • American English informal term for buttocks
  • Arse Old English word for buttocks, from which the American English ‘ass’ is derived. Arse is nowadays used as an informal term for buttocks in British English

Again in Wikipedia, a male donkey is known as a jack.  All donkeys are hard-working.  Hence, when Abigail Bartlet calls Jed a ‘jack ass’ in The West Wing (more than once, I might add), she is not really insulting the greatest fictional American president who never lived, but reminding him of how industrious he is.  

A female is known as a jenny and her gestation period is twelve months.  She’s a ninny because it’s longer than for a bunny or a nanny goat though she’s canny because expectant mummies tend to be bonny (despite often needing the dunny) and without even a whinny she will regain her figure because vegans tend to be skinny and I’m stopping now because this is no longer funny.  


 Hee haw.  




I’m Still Job Hunting

23 Sep

I spotted this one today, from The Arts Council:

Wanted: Executive Ass

I’ve so many jokes and so little class

Tilly Enchanted

22 Sep
River Mersey, Stockport. Looking downstream fr...

Image via Wikipedia


Now that the contents of my kitchen are spread around the house like an oil slick, with every room – including all three bedrooms – doubling as a cupboard/larder/cook’s depository, I have nothing to do except recover from a week’s worth of cleaning.  I can’t believe how much dust there is in the world.  I can’t believe how much of that dust is in my house: I sliced through one dust bunny to find thirteen rings.  The grime was behind the fridge, the washing machine, the dishwasher, the microwave…I don’t know whether to clean more often or just throw away my appliances.   I discovered my lost cd player under a seal of grease and dirt.  I don’t want it to happen again so I have decided to give up cooking; my friend Becky says the simplest solutions are the best.   

The weatherman having promised today was the last warm day of the year, I took the dogs for a walk along the Mersey – though famous for Liverpool it starts in Stockport, about five minutes from my house.  It was wonderful: bumble bees buzzed in the sunlight; butterflies tangoed around my shoulder; a weasel winked as it crossed my path, then crossed back again; a blackbird gave me a command performance; a squirrel scolded the dogs; and berries in the bushes bobbed in the breeze.  As I tripped amongst the fly clouds hovering over the dog turds and flattened slugs, and avoided slipping on a mouse corpse, I felt like Stockport’s own Disney princess.  It’s quite possible that feeling will continue through the night because I’ve lost a tin of peas and my mattress is looking rather lumpy. 


View from a footbridge


My kitchen refurb began at precisely fifteen hundred hours this p.m. and ended at precisely fifteen-twenty hours.  Three men came in, laid protective floor covering, ripped out the counters and cupboards, and left.  The council promised my refurb would start on Wednesday 22nd September, and they didn’t let me down.  What they didn’t say was that they’d be working in twenty-minute increments.  It’s going to be a long, long month. 

Note the famous Stockport viaduct in the background and the famous Stockport rubbish in the trees


K Minus One

21 Sep







I Really Wasn’t Intending To Blog Today

20 Sep

Honest; I swear.  But then I got the email to say the readwritepoem anthology for napowrimo has gone live and it looks so good I had to share it.  Find it here.  I’m on page 20 (or 34-35 if you use the bottom bit).  It’s well worth a look – where else can you read a whole book of great poetry for free?

As I am already here, I might as well share this poem for Writer’s IslandWe were asked to use this visual prompt:

Vane Kosturanov: FISHERMAN   You can check out the artist here; I didn’t know of him until yesterday but I love his work.


A WAG’s Tale
WAGs: collective noun for wives & girlfriends of sportsmen; it originated in British tabloid newspapers
Fish sits in his bowl.
Mouth opens.  Wide.  He swims side to side.
Feed me, he says. 
Feed me today.
Feed me.  Feed me.  Feed me again.
Fish is a bully; he feeds on her guilt.
He swims round his fake castle, fake flowers, fake lake.
Left side right side front side back side.
Forever the same view, same home, same space.
Feed me, he says; feed me again.
Fish is a parasite.  Fish is bored.  Fish is alone.
Fish must wait for his manna from woman.

WAG waits in her opulent home.
Mouth opens wide, her yawns become sighs.
Need me, fame says. 
Need me today.
Need me.  Need me.  Need me again.
Paparazzi are bullies; they feed on her gilt.
She swans round her fake castle, fake marriage, fake love.
In Hello magazine she glows as she shows off her home
(secreting the fee for an uncertain future; she has hate expectations).
Need me, fame says.  Need me again.
Fame is a fiend; it tires of her, even as she waits in her manor
for the rich man who made her his woman.






19 Sep

Got a kid back – sending it off again – losing a kitchen – gaining a happy housewife – ditto bathroom – happy clean housewife – may not get to write much next few days – bear with me – kiss.

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