Archive | February, 2011

I Blog Just Enough

28 Feb

A recent poll suggests most of you are happy with however many posts I want to make.  And also that some of you are not taking me seriously.  You lot: go to the top of the class.

The one person who thinks I blog too much is barred.  Sorry, Hub.

Look out for my next poll: Do I Poll Too Much?

As Good As It Gets?

28 Feb

What is the smallest thing near you?

The imagination of the WordPress prompt-setter.

You can surely do better than that, WordPress?

I Plead The Fifth Amendment

27 Feb

What was the last time you did a random act of kindness?

I refuse to answer that on the grounds it might incriminate me; and because it’s so badly worded. 

If I say ‘Never’ or ‘I can’t remember’, you won’t like me.  If I talk about the many, many nice things I do, you’ll go all mushy on me.

I was kind to the Hub once.  I said ‘I do’ without laughing.

My Blog’s Theme Tune

26 Feb

Weekly Photo Challenge: Abundance

26 Feb

This is how I remember my Dad.  He was always joking and laughing and making the rest of us laugh.  If you have an abundance of laughter in your life, you can cope with almost anything.  It doesn’t make things better, but it can make things bearable.

A Radio Star Is Born

25 Feb
Princess Leia, sporting her trademark "ci...

Image via Wikipedia

Sorry to those of you who missed Tory Boy’s radio show.  Not his, exactly: he co-hosted because the usual host was out.  It’s his second time filling in.  It’s just a little campus station but he assures me last night they had as many as thirteen listeners.

Special mention goes to slp’Slip’martin for being the show’s only American listener.  Probably ever.  And to Flo for giving up Monk.

If you missed it, you can catch it on the podcast when it appears online sometime in the next decade.  I’m still waiting for the podcast of his debut a couple of weeks ago.  We only heard about it after the event because he’s, well, Tory Boy and that’s the way it works.

I know how disappointed you must be to have missed him so I have put together Tilly Bud’s DIY Guide To Re-Enacting The Activities Of A Complete Stranger’s Son:

  1. Have a son.
  2. Wait twenty years.
  3. Send him to Lancaster University, eighteen years in.
  4. Wait by the phone for the calls that never come.

Hang on a minute; that’s a different guide.  Here you go:

  1. Pretend to be a twenty-year old student male.  Unless you already are one, in which case, pretend to be yourself.
  2. Get a pair of Eighties’ earphones, the great big ones that look like Princess Leia’s hairdo encased in plastic.
  3. Have a huge amount of curly hair and a distinctive laugh.
  4. Talk into a microphone to thirteen of your closest friends and relatives and your Mum’s friends.
  5. Babble a lot about whatever comes to mind (required element).
  6. Play some records (they should be some sort of computer files, not records, I know; but anyone actually acting upon this guide is forty-something with no life and a massive record collection, so why waste it?).
  7. Laugh at every opportunity (good advice in general).

And that’s it.

I thought he did pretty well once he got into it.  I’m proud that he even tried: I like a kid that will grab every opportunity.  I think I’ll keep him.

The highlights for me were when he looked particularly daft (I didn’t get to be the mother I am by not enjoying my sons’ foolish moments to the full).  The other host put on Booker T & The MGs’ Green Onions but didn’t say what it was (quote the source!  Always quote the source.  Don’t they teach you anything at uni?).  I sent a message while it was playing, saying ‘green onions booker t & the mgs’ (I lost the ability to use the Cap button in my excitement).  The song finished; the hosts chatted a little; then Tory Boy said, ‘We’ve had a request for green onions by booker t & the mgs’ (young people never talk in capitals any more), only to be told that that was the song they’d just played.  Co-host was amazed anyone knew what it was called and TB was forced to admit the message was from his mother.  Co-host then co-admitted that the only other person in the world who probably knew the song was his own mother.

The other highlight came when TB read the request from Flo to sing along to a Robbie Williams song (there being some confusion as to whether one or other of the hosts sounded like Robbie Williams and Flo being the only person who agreed with herself that someone did).  All of the people in the studio sang along to a song beginning with ‘F’ (I forget which because I was laughing so hard I couldn’t hear it); not everyone in the studio, however, knew they were live on air.  Tory Boy did, but didn’t care. 

TB is the apple of my pie and I love him dearly but I can safely say without hesitation, repetition or deviation that he will never, ever top the charts, bless him; but his ability to poke fun at himself might win him some new friends.  It works for me.

How Exciting!

24 Feb

Tory Boy is on the radio right now (20:18 UK time) until ten p.m.

If you happen to be visiting me as I post this you can hear him at http://www.bailriggfm.co.uk/live/#

He’s the one with the distinctive laugh and frightening hair (there’s also a webcam feed).

Do I Blog Too Much?

24 Feb
Staring or Pleading?

Image by marctonysmith via Flickr

Here’s a weird thing: I have typed that question at least four times (I had a little technical difficulty creating the poll.  Go figure) and each time I typed it as Do I Blog Too MUch? 

You know what just happened there, don’t you?  The capital U didn’t appear that time and I had to add it.  The brain is a weird thing.  (No need to comment on that last statement, dear reader; I already know what you’re thinking.)

The point of this post: I noticed that I have written 51 blog posts this month; or 2.something per February day to date.  That means you are expected to read and comment on my blog (and I’m keeping a record…) twopointsomething times a day, or 51 times in 24 days (how good am I at sums??).  Given how difficult I am finding it to read and comment on all the blogs I follow (and like!  Honest!  I’m not just doing it to be polite) and still have a semblance of a life, I wondered if I should perhaps scale back the number of posts I, well, post.

So, at the risk of putting myself out of business, and because I’ve been dying to create another poll, do you think I blog too much? 

Food, Glorious South African Food

23 Feb
Rib eye steak

Image via Wikipedia

If you could have anything to eat right now, what would it be?

I’m not going all obvious on this one; you know me well enough by know to fill in the blanks yourself.  It was the bonus questions that intrigued me:

1) Assume price is no object.

2) If you could eat this food with anyone alive or who has ever lived, who would it be?

3) Find and share a photo of what you’d like to eat or the person from #2.

I would love to eat a real, South African braai with all the trimmings:  T-bone, rib-eye, sirloin, sausages (I’d allow boerewors for the Hub and boys but it would be Woolworths’ pork chippolatas for me), marinated chicken, sosaties, pork chops, lamb chops…I’m finding it hard to type because the drool makes my fingers slip off the keyboard.

Then you need all the trimmings: bread rolls, mash, potato salad, tuna salad, salad, rice, corn on the cob, and biltong for the teething babies.

Why not go the whole hog and have a pig on a spit?

Sorry, my dear vegetarian friends: my name is Tilly Bud and I am a meat eater.

Cold beers for the blokes and my Mum; Le Chanson for me.  South African cream soda (the green stuff) and Tab for the kids. 

Then the desserts: melted Bar One and ice cream, Peppermint Crisp fridge tart, melk tert, koeksisters.

And, of course, no braai is complete without a side serving of proper South African NikNaks.   All orange tartrazine and flavour.  Yummy.

My much-missed parents and in-laws would be there, as well as everyone I’ve ever liked.

All topped off with a nice cup of Earl Grey.

What would you add to the feast?

Vanilla Nice!

23 Feb

Here’s something I never expected to see:

Shower Power

23 Feb
Rib shower at the Cartier Mansion in Ludington...

Image via Wikipedia

How long do you think you could go without a shower?

It depends on the shower.  I went for weeks without a shower while the bathroom was re-fitted.  I can go at least every other day now it’s back; it’s not like I ever get dirty cleaning the house, is it?  I could move to Antarctica: on base there, you are only allowed to take two, two-minute showers a week.

  • April showers: I can manage from May to March without breaking a sweat.
  • Meteor showers: I’d like to see one, but from a distance; so I would have to say ‘indefinitely’.
  • Showers of blessings: I’d like them all the time.
  • Cold showers: too tired to ever need one.
  • My family (usually referred to scornfully by me as ‘that shower!’): not at all; somebody has to go out for the Maltesers.

Napoleon once wrote to Mrs Napoleon, ‘I’ll be home in a week – don’t bathe till I get there.’  That’s my kind of man.

I Don’t Know Why People Call Me Pernickity

22 Feb
An orange check mark.

Image via Wikipedia

How do you decide when a post is ready to publish?

  • Write it.  Check.
  • Save after every paragraph.  Check.
  • Squeeze in all available puns.  Check.
  • Proofread it.  Check.
  • Save it.  Check.
  • Change font colour to red.  Check.
  • Save it.  Check.
  • Change font colour to black.  Check.
  • Save it.  Check.
  • Add pictures.  Check.
  • Save it.  Check.
  • Add links.  Check.
  • Preview.  Check.
  • Check links work.  Check.
  • Check links highlighted.  Check.
  • Check links open in another page.  Check.
  • Save it.  Check.
  • Spellcheck.  Check.
  • Save it.  Check.
  • Preview again.  Check.
  • Check.  Check.
  • Check.  Check.
  • Check again.  Check.
  • Publish.  Check.
  • Check published post.  Check.

The post usually takes up to thirty minutes to write.  Another hour is spent making sure it’s perfect.  If I come back to a post at a later date and discover a typo or other error, I have to rest on my bed for an afternoon to recover.

Pussycat, Pussycat, Where Have You Been?

22 Feb
Win the tweenies!

Image by linniekin via Flickr

Describe the best road trip you’ve ever taken.

What follows is not the best road trip I’ve ever taken (most of it being by rail, for starters), but it was good fun.

To continue our nursery rhyme theme…which reminds me: well done, dear readers, on your excellent modern nursery rhymes.  Way to make me feel inadequate as both poet and social commentator.  My only comfort was that none of you noticed I used all of your favourite words in one post.  If this blog had a tongue, it would be blowing raspberries right now and I would have to issue a stern warning because it’s necessary to be nice to people if you want them to come back.  Kisses, dear, dear readers.

The theme:

Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been?
I’ve been to London to look at the Tweenies.

I won a competition back in 2003.  The BBC phoned me one Thursday morning – not the whole corporation, just two incompetents – to tell me I had won an exclusive, all-expenses paid trip to London that weekend, to watch the premiere of the Tweenies new video/dvd, Night-time Magic, featuring Eddie the Dream Genie

The Tweenies is/was a children’s programme involving people dressed in felt costumes, and a lot of singing.  I once set up my ironing board in front of the tv and found I had done twenty minutes’ worth while singing along to them without realising.  While I’m at it, I might as well confess that I also have the ‘Goodbye’ song from Bear In The Big Blue House on my playlist.

The first BBC person to phone wanted to confirm that I could accept the prize, as it was such short notice, and promised a second person would phone to give me details of travel, etc.

Nobody phoned.

On Friday morning I phoned them to see what was happening: the first person thought the second person had phoned me and the second person thought the first person had phoned me, to tell me that the train tickets would be with me by twelve o’clock that day.

They weren’t.

Either the first or second person phoned me at two to tell me that, actually, the tickets had come back to the office because they were incorrectly addressed but not to worry, because everybody else all over the country had received theirs, so that was alright, then.

I’d be hearing from the BBC.

I didn’t hear from the BBC.

I phoned again.

Can’t you just hear someone from That’s Life saying, ‘This has got nothing to do with us’?

I was promised an e-mail bearing all details including a pin number so that I could collect the tickets from the station just before we left.

No e-mail.

By this time, the Hub and I were convinced that the whole thing was a wind-up. I didn’t bother packing, and I was preparing to tell the kids on Saturday morning, sorry to disappoint you and blight your life but you can blame the sickos playing a joke on us, when the e-mail arrived with all details, including the train time of 12h37.

It was all hands to battle stations, packing, cleaning (can’t leave the house dirty for burglars) and setting the video for the England-South Africa game the Hub was sacrificing for his beloved children to have a weekend jolly (and if you knew how much that man loves his rugby, you would appreciate that it was a HUGE sacrifice on his part).

We were at the station for 11h55, and there was a minor panic when the ticket machine was not located at the end of Platform 2 as the BBC advised us (I know the BBC don’t run the railways, but give it time).  We located it eventually (thirteen miles away at Granada Studios), collected the tickets, and waited for our fabulous weekend to begin.

The train journey was pleasant, if punctuated by sad comments from the Hub: ‘Kick-off will be about now.’  ‘I bet England are ahead now.  ‘Must be half-time.’  ‘It’s a shame, but I don’t think South Africa will beat them; they’re not the team they were.’  ‘The game must be over now.’  ‘At least I can watch the highlights in the hotel (sigh).’

We arrived at Euston Station knowing the hotel was only two or three minutes away, but not in which direction. The e-mail had promised us a map at the end of it, but after scrolling through four pages of disclaimers and details of what we were not getting from them, you will not be surprised to learn that were was no map. However, my husband is a resourceful man, and he asked somebody for directions, and we arrived at the hotel within the promised two or three minutes.

No problems booking in and our room was what I can only describe as larney – extremely posh, too good for the likes of us, but we don’t care, we enjoyed it anyway. It was bigger than Spud’s then-classroom, as he informed us in awed tones, comfortably fitting a king-sized bed, large single bed, fold-out, thick sprung-mattress sleeper-couch that was more comfortable than our bed at home, table, desk, chairs, luxury bathroom and mini-corridor big enough for Spud to turn cartwheels in.

The Hub was pleased to discover that Man City were winning three-nil when he put the telly on, and ecstatic when they eventually beat Bolton six-two; the rugby highlights were also shown, so he was thrilled/disappointed when England won/South Africa lost – you only know the real meaning of torn loyalties when you are married to a rugby-loving man born in England but raised in South Africa.

The BBC then decided to spoil our weekend by having the latest Tweenies comic delivered to our room; to add insult to injury, they sent two – one each for the boys. You will appreciate our agony if I tell you that a combination of two lively boys and two free plastic guitars ensued – excellence in Children’s Literature was eschewed for excruciating noise and howling parents. 

We went down to dinner at five-thirty. We were seated next to another family there courtesy of the BBC, who had had a similar experience to us, ungrateful wretches that we all were, in discovering what was actually going on.   They had arrived at the station and got into a taxi for the hotel: total journey time – 30 seconds.  They had also been promised a dinner at Planet Hollywood which never materialised, as part of the prize.

The reason I mention them, apart from giving me an excuse to complain as a good licence-payer about the waste of my money on know-nothing staff and weekend jollies to London, is that we all fell in love with their toddler daughter, Ellie-May. She was entrancing; her skin was like the proverbial caramel; her eyes the biggest and brownest I’ve ever seen in a little girl; her dark curly hair had golden tints; she was dressed beautifully; she was high-spirited and mischievous without being naughty, and her entrance was spectacular: she climbed up on the seat behind her mother, opened her mouth, and daintily vomited all over her mum in the middle of the restaurant.

That hiccup not withstanding, we had an enjoyable meal and an early night. The Hub was exhausted and ready for bed, but Spud, Tory Boy (then thirteen and not so much Tory Boy as Boy) and I struggled to sleep, talked in booming whispers so as not to disturb the Hub, eventually all dozed off and left him wide-awake from our efforts not to wake him. 

That was also the night we invented our family cat.  Before settling to sleep we told age-appropriate ghost stories (I find them too frightening otherwise).  Mine was a shaggy dog story – unbelievable, I know – with a creaking door.  When I creaked menacingly, they all laughed and demanded to know where the cat came from.  He’s been a fixture ever since.

Breakfast next morning was ample and included a complimentary admirer for Boy – a Spanish waitress who told him he looked absolutely lovely….

We were all packed up and checked out by 11h15, waiting in the lobby for the BBC to collect us. Here, Corporation incompetence came into its own: two minibuses, meant to carry sixteen people each, arrived to carry sixty people to the premiere.  Each driver thought he was collecting one family.  You should have seen us all crammed in: Ellie-May’s father must have thought his luck was in, the way he and the Hub were cuddled up together. Can you imagine if we’d had an accident? Night-time Magic, Daytime Nightmare…why spend what we calculate was about a £1000 per family for the weekend, apart from the beanfeast itself, if you are going to risk it all? As it happened, nothing happened (shame – can you imagine the extensive media coverage for the new Tweenies dvd if we had all been maimed and/or killed? You can’t buy that kind of publicity), and we all arrived safely, once the first driver had been told by his passengers where we were going.

Things looked up after that. We went into a very exclusive place called The Rex Club, in Piccadilly Circus. To be honest, it looked exclusively seedy, but apparently cost the Beeb a fortune to hire, and was sited next door to Planet Hollywood, who provided the catering, so Ellie-May had the opportunity to throw-up their food after all. She screamed loud and long, poor little mite, at the site of a real, live Doodles, and refused to go anywhere near him. She spent most of the time playing with Boy, as she really took a shine to him. He didn’t mind being showered with many mini Doodles.

The room had been decorated with all things Tweenies, and we were free to take home as many of the aforementioned mini Doodles and yoyos as we wished (clearly the worst-selling toys) and to drink as much tea, coffee and cool drink (it was a children’s day, so no alcohol) as required. Those children not terrified by him had their pictures taken with the real Doodles, then we trooped into a very plush screening room (reclining seats, no less; I can’t help wondering what other films the Rex Club hosts…) to watch, da-da! the premiere of the Tweenies’ new video/dvd, Night-time Magic, featuring Eddie the Dream Genie.  I must have mentioned it enough times now to have paid for the weekend.

Once they got the projector working properly – only a fifteen minute delay with a room full of eager, excited and very hungry children – we settled down to watch it.

Yes, well.

I am still confused as to why, exactly, the BBC felt the need to bring sixty people from all over the country to watch a very ordinary fifty-minute video.  It seemed like a colossal waste of money on something that was bound to be a huge seller, anyway.  The Hub reckons it must have been a tax write-off.

We all trooped out once it had finished, and those children not asleep, too young, too old or too bored were thrilled to meet Eddie the Dream Genie in person. Spud confided in me that he overheard someone saying that Eddie had had trouble getting his head on properly.  Spud seemed to enjoy meeting him and didn’t even mind an elbow in the face from Eddie in all the confusion.

Food followed, supplied by Planet Hollywood, which was extremely edible (the food, not Planet Hollywood – you can’t eat a business, silly, unless you’re Godzilla.  But you won’t be invited back).  Then goodie bags (two videos, wallet, poster, figure, bits and pieces), taxis – one per family this time, baggage collection, and off to the station.

I decided to forgive the BBC for wasting my money on expensive hotels, good food, freebies and generally showing us all a very good time when I took my seat in (because the journey home was almost fully booked, the woman at the Beeb had us bumped up to) First Class.  We got free crisps! And drinks, eccles cakes and gross sandwichews. We were on Richard Branson’s new, tilting Pendolino train – in First Class!! They didn’t tilt, unfortunately, as we only travelled at about 23 miles an hour for half the journey. We didn’t mind, though, because we got free crisps.

I think the highlight of the journey was when I went to the toilet and couldn’t work the tap. Not as daft as it sounds – if you can imagine a machine that operates on the same principle as a hand dryer (no, not a towel), in that you put your hands underneath it and the water automatically comes out.  It didn’t. There I was, with a handful of liquid soap and no water. I had to call the (male) attendant to help me, and I felt very silly, if germ free.  Next time I went to a different toilet (hey, it’s a two-hour journey)and couldn’t get that tap to cease running water. I crossed my legs the rest of the way home.  Those machines are everywhere now but they were state-of-the-art eight years ago.

And that was one of my favourite road trips (apologies for the many parentheses).

?…?…?

21 Feb
Chefs cooking with a wok in China. Preparing f...

Image via Wikipedia

What part of life confuses you the most?

It has to be cooking.  For someone who likes to eat so much (you may take that in every sense of the phrase possible), I don’t like cooking. 

Menus are complicated – and show me one that requires n ml of flour and I run crying to the Hub, beating myself around the head with a ladle.  How can a dry ingredient be weighed as a wet one? 

While I’m on the subject, how much is a teaspoon?  I have [hang on a minute; just going to count them] thirteen varieties of teaspoon and each one is a different size and shape to the rest: do I use a large, medium or small one to add my vanilla essence?  If I don’t crush the garlic will it matter?  How can I know that a soupcon should have a tail on the ‘c’ but not how much it actually is?  Will all the snot and tears that accompany the preparation of each meal in this house affect the taste?  How much butter is too much on a slice of bread if you want it to be both healthy and tasty?  How can you tell when something’s thoroughly cooked unless you burn it?

Then there’s the oven: my last stove was a category C and it took two hours to bake fairy cakes in it.  My new one is a fan oven and all of my fairy cakes so far have had to be recycled as fish tank gravel.

Cooking: what’s that about?

Nursery Rhymes For Modern Times

21 Feb
Illustration from Sing a Song for Sixpence (18...

Image via Wikipedia

I was at my writing group yesterday and the prompt was to freewrite using the first line of a nursery rhyme.  The first one here was one I wrote some years ago and it popped into my head straightaway, so I decided to write more of the same.

I apologise now for the second one; I think the whole incident was tragic, but I have a streak of black humour and sometimes I can’t help myself.

 

Mary, Mary
Quite contrary
Hide the milk
She don’t do dairy

If wishes were horses
Beggars would ride
If horses wear shoes
They’re electrified

Ding dong dell
Pussy’s in the well
There’s been no water for many a year
So that explains the smell

Sing a song of sixpence
A pocket full of cash
Is a rare, forgotten thing
Since the economy crashed

 

If you’ve got any of your own, please share them.

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