Archive | November, 2010

My Auntie Freda Sent Me This

30 Nov
hello, dear friend...

Image by skampy via Flickr

 I am passing this on to you because it definitely worked for me today, and we all could probably use more calm in our lives.

Some doctor on television this morning said that the way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started. So I looked around my house to see things I’d started and hadn’t finished and, before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of Chardonnay, a bodle of Baileys, a butle of wum, a pockage of Prunglies, tha mainder of bot Prozic and Valum scriptins, the res of the chesescke an a box a choclets.

Yu haf no idr how bludy guod I feel rite now.

Plaese sned dhis orn to dem yu fee ar in ned ov iennr paece.

Discussion Time

30 Nov
Wikileaks: History Is The Only Guidebook Civil...

I wrote this poem for Poetic Asides:


Let’s talk about our friends
Let’s insult our friends
Let’s spy on our friends

Let’s offend every citizen
Offend every government
Of every ally we have

Let’s talk one way to this side
Another way to that side
So we can see off the side we don’t like

Let’s help China lose face
Muddy the Mid-East
Make the world a more dangerous place

Let’s forego the need to know
For the right to know all
While we’re at it
Let’s start the next war


I’d better ‘fess up front that, as well as being a Tory Royalist who loves the X Factor, I am also a Yankophile, though not to the extent that I think President Obama has any respect at all for this country: I still haven’t forgiven him for presenting our then-Prime Minister with a box of dvds on his official visit. 

What I love about America is the way Americans of every type will say ‘This is what I am, and I don’t care what you think about it.’  That, and The West Wing.

The whole Wikileaks episode has me worried.  I have no problem with the merely embarrassing stuff, like Prince Andrew’s rudeness and what certain members of the US government think of certain members of other governments; but I think such revelations must strain international relations, no matter what the official line.  Only a fool would think that no other government is critical behind closed doors of the American government, but, like sausages and laws, I don’t really want to know details.

I do believe there are some things that the public don’t need to know, and what Saudi Arabia said to the States about Iran is one of them.  It’s already a mess out there; let’s not make it worse.  With freedom of speech comes responsibility, and I think the Wikileaks are, on the whole, irresponsible.

What do you think?

I Have Sons

30 Nov

Fishing for compliments time.

According to a report here:

People rated attractive as children are more likely to grow up and have daughters compared to those who are rated unattractive.

Why I Won’t Win ‘Mother of the Year’ This Year

29 Nov

Remember my panic on Friday night when I lost Spud?  Here’s yesterday:

Morning:  Spud goes to play football with his best mate.

Me: What time will you be back?

Spud: One, one-thirty.

Me: Okay, I’ll have your lunch ready.

Lunch Time: me says to Hub, Let’s go buy those things we want to buy (I’m paraphrasing: it’s too close to Christmas to be honest).

Lunch Time Plus (i.e. one-fifteen): my mobile rings.

Spud: Where are you?  I’m locked out.

Me: … … …Oops.

Monday Music

29 Nov

We’re starting with The Kane Gang.  I always loved this song but I haven’t heard it in fourteen years; a Facebook friend posted it yesterday.  Only trouble is, those mean people at Sony say I can’t share the video with you, so here’s the audio version:

Everyone on Facebook says it reminds them of the British summer of 1984 but it reminds me of video tapes and that I was in South Africa.  Another reason to resent my parents.  Oops, sorry: I’m on the wrong blog.


Another week, another episode of the X Factor.  I was sorry to see Katie Waissel go, her pornographic grandmother notwithstanding.  I thought this was her best performance:

I loved Rebecca Ferguson this week; I think she’s fabulous but it was all becoming a bit samey so it was good to see her liven up a bit:

But the performance of the night for me came from Matt Cardle:

If A Poet Falls In The Forest, Does She Make A Sound?

28 Nov
Playtex panty brief ad, 1950s

Image by genibee via Flickr

It wasn’t so much a forest last night, as a desert.  I was at a poetry reading and someone stole our audience. 

Stockport Art Gallery hosted an evening of music, poetry and crafts, and my writing group was invited to perform.  There was a lot of interest from group members until it was mentioned that it would be nice if we wrote on the theme of the Pre-Raphaelites.  However, five of us did pitch up, one couldn’t make it but sent his poem along and one came to offer moral support (thank you, Eileen), so we had enough of a showing to warrant our continued free use of the gallery for meetings.

The big event of the evening was the choir, which gave us songs in those well-known pre-Raphaelite forms: slave chants and sea shanties.  They were pretty good and, when the choir master invited everyone to the upstairs gallery for a singalong session, everyone went.  Which was unfortunate for us poets, because we were on next: we were left with two members of staff and the dj.  Still, for nervous readers like me, the smaller the audience the better, I say.

We had a good variety of poems between us, as we had each written at least one (and one of us had written four) all from a different pre-Raphaelite perspective – mine was somewhere in the region of que

I was persuaded to recite a conceptual poem of mine called Writer’s Block, which you can read here.  I wonder what it says about my poetry that I got the best reaction for a poem with no words?

Despite, or perhaps because of, having no audience, we had a good night anyway, and I was smiling as I made my way to the exit.  Until I took my gloves from my bag and accidentally pulled out my spare, clean knickers as well.  Carrying them is a throwback to my pregnancy days (are you with me, ladies?) and is a habit I’ve never managed to throw off.  As I haven’t had a new bag in fourteen years, it is also possible they are the same pair I carried back when I knew exactly where Spud was for nine whole months.

Why do they call them a ‘pair’ of knickers, anyway?  It’s one item.  I thought it might be because there are two leg holes, but there’s also a waist hole – and probably more if they are as old as last night’s pair/one.

So there were my spare knickers and the plastic bag I keep them in, in two neat piles on the floor.  Luckily for me, no one saw them fly out of my bag; but someone did turn around as I bent to retrieve them.  For the only quick-thinking moment of my entire life, I straightened up, nose wrinkled in disgust, tutted and said, ‘It’s ridiculous what passes for art these days, isn’t it?’


I Lost My Littlest Potato

27 Nov

I had a scary couple of hours yesterday, thinking I’d misplaced my youngest child. 

Picture the scene: a dark and icy night.  Greedy Christmas shoppers intent on ignoring the married mother of two in her lonely pound shop/post office corner vigil.  A grumpy husband.  A lost teenager.

Spud finishes school at ten-to-four and gets home at five, having taken two buses.  One bus stops in Stockport town centre.  We were in the town centre around that time, so I sent a text to ask if he wanted a lift home.  Ever polite, the answer was no thanks (he’s polite but he might as well have stabbed me through the heart with that capital N he didn’t use).

We were in the pound shop at  four-twenty when my phone went and it was Spud, who did want a lift after all.  The line was terrible but I told him we were at the pound shop near the post office and I thought he had heard me.  He hadn’t.  We waited forty minutes outside the shop and he was a no-show.  I made the Hub wait in the car because he’d already used up that day’s good hour, plus, he could see all the way up the road to the bus station on the horizon, and would see him coming.  The Hub had come out without his phone so we had a little code going: he would put on the car lights when Spud appeared, like something out of a gangster movie; especially with me keeping watch on the corner above him.

Once I had become a human icicle and the Hub had been in and out of the car several times to fume at me (he was mad at Spud but I was closer), we decided Spud must have misread ‘stkprt’ for ‘edgly’ (no capitals for me either but that’s because I can’t use my phone properly: a lack of ability rather than a lack of will) and drove up to our next-most-used shopping centre.  Stockport is not so big that you can’t walk around it in twenty minutes and he had been missing for twice that.

I’d better explain at this point that mobile phones are absolutely bloody useless in a crisis, particularly if Spud’s is faulty, mine has no credit and the Hub’s was lying at home soaking up the central heating and sipping a tequila.  I sent increasingly panicky texts to Spud, as well as repeated calls.  He couldn’t answer because his phone switched off every time he tried.  He managed to ring me at one point and my first question was ‘Where are you?’  If he had only said where he was instead of ‘Looking for you,’ he wouldn’t have been cut off at ‘I’m near – ‘.  That was around four-forty and he kept radio silence from then on.

The Hub and I drove to Edgeley at about five and he drove around the outside while I ran around the inside, but there was no sign of our kidnapped baby.  We drove home, just in case Spud had the good sense to get the bus back.  He wasn’t there, so I stayed while the Hub went back to Stockport.  He traipsed around the town in a kitchen triangle manoeuvre (sink-stove-fridge/pound shop-pound shop-pound shop) but no joy.  He came home again; I forget why because by this time I had my boy lying in a dark Stockport corner, stabbed for his mobile phone (ha!  muggers!  see what you get for your pains!  a phone that doesn’t work).  By this time Spud had been missing for ninety minutes and could have caught at least two buses home; I was wondering if I ought to tidy up for the police; the Hub came in; we discussed our next move; he left; the door went minutes later, and there they both were.  The Hub had seen him coming from the bus stop.  Turns out one bus hadn’t come at all and the next was late; but of course, he couldn’t tell us.

After a choking hug from me, the inevitable humdinger of an argument broke out, with me yelling at the Hub yelling at Spud yelling at both of us.  One plate of egg & chips and a stiff mug of tea later, and harmony was restored.

Something I have never done is lose one of my children.  I stick to the adage, keep your enemies close and your children closer.  That’s it, I’m afraid: until Spud gets a new phone he’s going to be home schooled.  No more anxiety, and I’ll save on the bus fare.

Panic! Only 394 Shopping Days To Next Christmas!

26 Nov

I read these in an email doing the rounds:

  • There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.  Ben Williams
  • Scratch a dog and you’ll find a permanent job.  Franklin P. Jones
  • I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult.  Rita Rudner
  • Anybody who doesn’t know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.  Franklin P. Jones again.
  • The most affectionate creature in the world is a wet dog.  Ambrose Bierce
  • If your dog is fat, you aren’t getting enough exercise.  Anonymous


I got a shock yesterday when I noticed the date – only a month to Christmas!  I have never been so behind in my shopping – I normally start in the January sales and stock up through the year.  My kids are gonna cry come December 25th when all they get is three pairs of socks and a tin of deodorant.


The prompt for this week’s Big Tent was a wordle.  I used all of the words but I could only manage three senryu, and I’m not particularly happy with them.

Cry Baby

A mother cupped
her baby’s face with a gentle
hand: peace was restored.


Inspection Passed

Ash-pit re-surfaced;
ancient boiler fork-lifted
away from the site.


A Reason To Stay Awake

Words clunk from my nib.
Once hung in the air – studied –
lush rhymes will follow.


 For a linked senryu on what South Africa sounded like to me, go to my other blog: South Africa: A Love/Hate Story.

Happy Thanksgiving!

25 Nov
Traditional Thanksgiving meal in New England

Image via Wikipedia

I’m not American but I reckon that if we can import Trick or Treat and McCardboards, it wouldn’t hurt to say what we’re thankful for on one day a year, like our friends across the pond. 

Here’s my list:

1) My boys. 

                                                                                            2) My loving husband.

3) Indoor plumbing (for obvious reasons)

4) Modern dentistry, otherwise I’d look like this:

5) Maltesers (Number 4 refers)

What are you thankful for?

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers!


Never Misunderestimate A Son’s Love For His Mother

24 Nov

A proud moment and yet I'm dressed like a weird movie villain

Tory Boy to me on the phone the other day:

Dr Who was right: some points in time are fixed.  You are going to be one of those crazy cat ladies some day, aren’t you? 


Please check out my other blog.  I’ve posted a couple of new poems.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thought For Food

23 Nov
Potatoes infected with late blight are shrunke...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve had so much fun chatting with you all about favourite movies and books.  Thanks for your comments and please, keep ’em comin’.  I think I’m going to have to write a separate list for Christmas films, because I left so many out: Home Alone, Home Alone 2, White Christmas, Holiday Inn, Elf….  Check your shelves, folks, because this discussion ain’t over yet.


I don’t know why I come over all apostrophied and colloquial at times.  Must be summat in t’water.


All of this fillum and boo-k talk has allowed me time to recover from my weekend, which was horrendous, in a food sense.  No, ‘horrendous’ is the wrong word, because that implies an out-of-the-ordinary food disaster, and you must know by know that my food disasters are so far from being out-of-the-ordinary that ‘mundane’ is too strong a word for them.

The Hub is a great cook.  His mother was a great cook.  The Hub has taught me many of his mother’s recipes.  Unfortunately for our family, the Hub isn’t well enough to cook anymore; I do it all.  The Hub is still the family’s chief hunter-gatherer, however, and on Saturday he came home with a bag full of raw meat slung across his back (Lidl had 400g of diced beef for £1.49 – bargain!).  I had celery and leeks in my humungous fridge, so I decided to make Ma Hub’s famous Potato Hash. 

We make the hash in a pressure cooker.  That causes a bit of a problem for me, because I’m scared of the pressure cooker.  Once it’s bubbling on the stove I don’t go in the kitchen: I stand at the kitchen door to check the little red lines are not indicating EXPLODE! EXPLODE! EVACUATE THE PREMISES!  Or better yet, I shove one of the kids in and shut the door behind them.  Don’t bother calling child services: Tory Boy ran away two years ago and Spud is stronger than me these days; though I was able to use the most beautiful baby in the world (who is now the most beautiful toddler in the world, his parents being in the family way again).

I was standing at my new sink, peeling potatoes and blotting up water spots, when I spotted through my window TMBTITW bringing his parents for a visit.  They spotted me, too, before I had time to remove my Yentl costume – that’s what the Hub calls me whenever I wear a pinny and head scarf to cook.  So that’s what he calls me every day, really.  It’s either, ‘Oi! Yentl! No disaster today; well done,’ or ‘Oi! You!  Why’ve I got a hair in my soup/sandwich/tin of beans?’  I don’t know why he calls me that, now I come to think of it: Barbra wore a hat and suit.  What a weird bloke my husband is.

I like to consider myself a good hostess, by which I mean that if you come to my house I won’t spill coffee on you and I’ll get out the good biscuits if I like your kids.  TMBTITW and his parents count as best guests – they bring their own entertainment in the form of this little cutie pie:

I'm laughing because I know how beautiful I am


This is him now:

Photo to follow when I remember to ask the Hub to upload one.

Flustered by their unexpected arrival and panicked by their possible ‘yes’ to my ‘Would you like to stay for dinner?’ (I don’t mind serving inedible food to adults but I always try to impress TMBTITW), I bunged everything in the pot and slung it on the stove.  Thank goodness they declined my invite because, instead of Ma Hub’s delicious Potato Hash, what they would have eaten was Ma Dontbake’s unsalted because I forgot to put it in Potato Soup: too much liquid, too little veg.  We had chicken that night.

Next day, in an effort to rescue it, I added boiled potatoes to thicken.  I forgot the salt again but the burned bits add a flavour all their own.  Now I have four reproachful tubs sitting in my freezer knowing they will never be eaten but won’t be thrown away because we don’t waste food in this house.  Anyone hungry?



My Top Ten Movies or, Why People Who Watch Films Can’t Count

22 Nov
Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator

Image by xrrr via Flickr

Okay, I’d better start by admitting that there are actually fourteen on the list.  I did manage to rate them but I couldn’t leave out the last four; I can’t hurt their feelings, I’m afraid.  And yes, I know celluloid/digital things don’t have feelings…I suppose my anthropomorphism* of them comes from the same logic that led me to never say in my mind the code of the padlock to the outside bin cupboard in case identity thieves or secret government agencies read my mind** and accessed my shredded documents and potato peelings.  I only stopped doing it when it occurred to me that if the government has the power to read minds then they could probably get past a three-for-a-pound padlock without too much difficulty.  It was about that time I also decided to stop wearing the foil hat.

The List:

  • Terminator & Terminator 2 – T1 because it’s the greatest love story ever told (don’t scoff – Kyle came across time for Sarah: how many of you men out there can say you’ve done that for the missus?) and T2 because it’s the story of a mother’s love and redemption.  The fact that there’s loads of violence is simply a fortunate coincidence.  I never watched a violent movie until I saw T1: we were newlyweds living in a flat in Jo’burg and my brother and his girlfriend came to stay, bringing movies that had blood and guts but no romance, I thought, including Mad Max (if ever there was a prescient name for Mr Gibson, that’s it) and The Terminator.  I didn’t want to watch any of them but I was a new hostess and soppy in love with the Hub back then, and allowed myself to be persuaded.  I’m so glad I did.  I was glued to the screen (my brother’s a great practical joker) and I have loved T1 ever since.
  • Love Actually – what’s not to love, actually?  Great ensemble cast, interwoven characters, humour, pathos, the best wedding scene in the history of film, and Hugh Grant calling Margaret Thatcher ‘a saucy minx’. 
  • It’s A Wonderful Life – the best Christmas film ever made.  We made the boys watch it with us one Christmas Day.  Tory Boy protested loudly right up to the first five minutes in (particularly that it was in black & white), and then became engrossed in the film and outraged at George Bailey’s rotten luck and unfair shake at the world.  I’ve only ever seen him that indignant over a scratched dvd, so it was quite a conversion.
  • Forrest Gump & Field Of Dreams – I’ve read both of the books on which the films were based and much prefer the movies.  Forrest, Forrest Gump is an ‘idiot savant’*** and gets to hump a lot and Shoeless Joe Jackson is no Ray Liotta.  Mind you, neither is Ray Liotta these days: have you seen his face?  Euggh.  Why people have plastic surgery thinking it will fix growing old is beyond me.   
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol – the best Christmas film ever made: ‘Light the lamp, not the rat!  Light the lamp, not the rat!’  Brilliant!
  • Signs – M. Night Shyamalammmmm is a genius and I hope one day to be able to shake his hand and ask him, ‘How do you pronounce your surname?’  This film is the most scared I like to be, and it terrifies me every time I watch it even though I know the ending.  Which makes me about as bright as that dog who attacks his own leg:
  • The Last of the Mohicans – the one with Daniel Day Lewis.  It’s the only film in which I ever thought he was attractive; I guess I must like my men with long hair and wearing smelly moccasins.  We drove 100kms to watch this on our tenth wedding anniversary.  Mum babysat Tory Boy and we went for a meal and a movie.  I didn’t want to see it but the Hub was desperate, it was on its last week in cinemas, and I was still somewhat in love.  Of course, it was Terminator 1 all over again, but without the annoying sibling.  I once watched it on M-Net three times in one week.
  • You’ve Got Mail – the best three little words ever (I’ve been married a long time).
  • The Sound of Music – singing nuns and singing Nazis?  You’d have to be daft not to love it.
  • Moulin Rouge – any film that contains an Elephant Love Medley and an unconscious Argentinian gets my vote.
  • The Santa Clause – the best Christmas film ever made.  I love it.  Are you sensing a pattern?  All of these Christmas movies bang on about the spirit of Christmas and the true meaning of Christmas without once mentioning the story of Christmas.  But hey, that’s Christmas for you.
  • Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat – Donny Osmond.  Sigh.
  • The Untouchables – Kevin Costner in a mac and Sean Connery in the worst Irish accent ever, plus a fabulous soundtrack.  I love it.

And there you have it.****  Now, what does my list say about me?  It says that I have an obsession with Christmas, I love musicals and violence is fun.  It says I like Kevin Costner, Tom Hanks, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rizzo the Rat i.e. I don’t have a type.  Therefore, my favourite all-time film would be a violent musical about Christmas, starring the thinking woman’s beefcake rodent.

*a word used deliberately to dispel the recent rumour that my readers are all better read than I am

**not as nutty as it sounds; there’s not much in there

***I use inverted commas because I’m quoting from the book.  I’m not sure in this pc world of ours if this term is still in use; though I have to say this is one time I’m in favour of political correctness because it’s a horrible way to describe someone.  If anyone knows another term, I’d appreciate you leaving a comment letting me know, and I’ll change it.

****Not quite: I desperately wanted to include Scrooged but a Top Ten stretched to sixteen and starring four Christmas films was a step too far, I’m afraid.  Carol Kane’s kicking fairy will have to go on another list: Mythical Film Creatures or, Why I Don’t Have Any Friends.

Now tell me about your favourite movies, please.  I’d love to know*****.

*****In case I missed a good ‘un.

On T’Ender Books

21 Nov

I love the latest Madam & Eve cartoon:


There’s not much happening here in TillyBudLand.  The weather is turning colder and Tilly Bud is getting older.  That’s it, really.  Desperate for something to write about, I turned to Plinky Prompts again.  It asked me ‘What book would you read over and over again?’  I would have to say, Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card.  It started life as a short story that became a novel and then a series of books, the Ender Saga and the Bean Saga (Bean is a minor character in the first book).  I prefer the Bean Saga because they are more like Ender’s Game; the Ender Saga is dreadful, apart from the first book.

Ender’s Game is the story of a child trained to save the world; but also the story of a child who has to survive the world.  When my boys came up against bullies, I gave it to them to read.  I must confess, however, that putting your enemy’s nose through his skull is not a path I hope they take: it is the philosophical angle I hope they will consider.

Above all, though, it is the story of negotiating childhood.  In space.

What’s your favourite book?




Flaky Mothers Of The World, Unite!

20 Nov

I have long been suspected of being a flaky mother:

Riding your little scooter up and down the path?  Wear these skateboarding knee pads, elbow pads, thick sweater and pants and a helmet or you don’t go.

First day of high school?  Let me walk you to the bus stop in case there are any paedophiles or fast cars lurking to take you from me.

WMD?  Keep your mobile switched on at school in case we are bombed and I need to get hold of you.

My kids never stood a chance, really, and these are just a few of my mistakes with Tory Boy; never mind what I did to poor Spud.

But today, something wonderful happened: Tory Boy phoned (no, that’s not it; especially as he yammered on for thirty minutes while my cereal milk went cold).  He told me that his philosophy lecturer threw a book across the classroom to illustrate a point and there was just one gasp of horror – Tory Boy’s.  He stayed afterwards to remonstrate with the tutor, and refused to accept ‘But it was an old book…’ as an excuse.  Now I know I was right to read to my babies in the womb.   



Tory Boy insisted on having his shirt signed rather than damage a book


Poetic Asides Day 19

20 Nov

Prompt: write a poem with a hole in it. I did that, then decided to take all the holes out.


The Bullet Bites Back

There’s a hle in the wrld
where the peace shuld be;
where the guns and the knives
and the bmbs decree
that the wrds and the deeds
f hate flw free –
s we kill fr peace.
Such irny.

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