About Me

My photo
Book out now on amazon! Buy, read, enjoy, tell your friends, buy a spare copy.

Friday, 14 December 2007

A Christmas Letter

Dear Friends,

At this time of year I like to include a “round robin” letter in our Christmas cards. I find it a good way to boast to friends and acquaintances that I don’t deem important enough to talk to the rest of the year.

It’s been a mixed year for the family. Geoff’s dad has become slightly frail so rather than take any risks we are looking in to transferring all his savings directly to us. He’s well in himself though, although he does feel his cold. To help him with this we have his heating allowance paid directly to us as he does spend every other Sunday with us.

Lynne and Tony are well. Tony has changed jobs and seems to relish his new role as P.E. specialist at an all girls college. Lynne is still very active in am dram and recently undertook the gruelling role of Mimi le Bonk in the Great Munsdon production of “Allo Allo” the musical. They are looking in to adoption. It was hoped that Louise would grow out of the “terrible twos” but she’s still very trying so they hope she’ll fare better with another family.

Will and Fifi are doing very well. Will’s recently floated his company and Fifi is terribly busy redecorating their dining room. Their three children; Horatia, Domenica and Florentina are excelling at school and Florentina is thinking of a part time job in pizza express.

Annabelle is still single and childless.

Pippy, our youngest, has just finished his gap year. He travelled to Thailand where he found a very good job in transportation. He was in the supply end of the chain. He was unclear on the details but I think it involved animals. He certainly mentioned mules. He really is terribly enterprising. Apparently he has earned enough in his gap year to fund him through all three years of university and the people in Thailand are willing to keep his job open for him and are happy for him to work his summers there.

Geoff and I trundle on. We will have been together 30 years this year. To celebrate we are going to have a holiday. Geoff is going to France and I am going to Spain with the girls. Geoff is still very in to his wood work. He has turned the shed in to a workshop and spends many happy hours out there bashing away. Sometimes Sue from next door pops round to give him a hand and they merrily spend the afternoon together.

I do find these letters are an excellent way to keep in touch with people. I find them a great leveller. Everyone from the woman who was my bridesmaid to the people we met on a coach trip to Hastings gets the same – it’s an excellent way of maintaining friendships. However, although addressed to “friends” I shall personalise yours slightly by scrawling in biro at the bottom that we must meet up in the New Year.

Best Wishes

Sandra and Geoff.

Monday, 3 December 2007


I am at war with my bank. Here follows a week in emails:


“Quite a few times of late I have tried to purchase good s over the internet. Always from secure sites, however every single time my card is rejected as my bank has refused the transaction. Whilst I appreciate the extra security, this is beginning to drive me mad and is incredibly frustrating. It has also introduced the element of danger in to all shopping. "Oooh I've just filled my car up and I know I have money in my account but will my bank refuse the transaction for reasons best know to itself". I can't say I am looking forward to Christmas shopping this weekend knowing that every single transaction could be refused. Or as in July this year you could just cancel my card and not tell me for 3 days. I have banked with you for 14 years and have been generally happy until this year. I am now considering changing banks which I am reluctant to do but the lack of customer service (and lack of access to my own money) may leave me no choice.”


“Just to keep you updated this has happened again. When I tried to use my switch card for my lunch. For £5-20. Which was not only intensely annoying but also highly embarrassing. This is getting ridiculous. Would you like me to ring you everytime I am going to use my card so you can tell me whether it's going to work or not? I would quite like to buy petrol at around 6pm tonight. It should cost £30, I only have £475 in my current account. Is this OK? Please try and let me know. It'll save you the bother of cancelling it and issuing me with another switch card (which you'll cancel) and save me having to do a runner from the petrol station when I am not allowed to access my own money.”


“As I still haven’t heard from you I think it’s best to tell you that I don’t intend to spend any money today. I’ve bought my lunch from home (it was bought from Sainsbury’s at the weekend – I can provide you with a receipt if needs be) and tonight I have friends coming round. Therefore if any money is removed from my account today then please block my card immediately, that is if it’s actually working at the moment.


“Out for lunch today and then out again in the evening! What a busy life. I would invite you but I don’t think you’d be able to get the money together for the flight – unless of course you would like to use the money from my account. It seems a shame that it’s just sitting there when someone could be using it – even if it’s not me.


My aunt went to market and she bought an apple, a banana, a cup, a dog, an elephant, a fire engine, a goat, a herbaceous border, an igloo, a jumper, a kite, a llama, a marigold glove (singular), a nectarine, an orangutang, a purse, a quirkafleet (which we must perform), a rusk, a semaphore kit, a tea set, some umbongo, a vivisection kit, a weeble, a xylophone, a yoghurt and a zulu.

All on my switch card! Please block it immediately.


Dear ,

Thank you for your correspondence. We understand that having your card blocked and cancelled is frustrating and can cause problems for you. However we are acting in your best interests and are stopping your money falling in to the wrong hands. Please be assured that we are looking in to this situation and will hopefully be able to find a solution to it soon.

In the meantime, it is an excellent idea to keep track of what you have spent so that it can be compared to your statements. However, it is unnecessary to keep up abreast of these transactions.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of any further help.

Yours Sincerely.


Of all the things I heartily dislike about myself (and there are many) by propensity to buy rail tickets for insane times just because they are cheap is one of the things I dislike the most. Actually I blame GNER for ridiculous pricing but they’ve had enough abusive letters off me over the years and all they ever say in return is “two singles may be cheaper than a return ticket”, which is pretty much telling me to sell one kidney instead of two to be able to afford to get past Milton Keynes. Anyway; at 7am last Saturday morning I was on a train bound to Edinburgh, going out the night before wasn’t a good plan and it meant I was in absolutely no mood at all for the collection of morons and biffers I found myself forced to sit with. People who think they are funny and talk loudly, people who bought their dog on and expected other people to enjoy that (the dog was called Mitzy and apparently didn’t need a lead as the stupid owner could just bellow at it – all the time), over-priced food and drink and a toilet that smelt like it had been used by a terribly unwell egg. And the best thing about it was that in just over 24 hours time I’d be back on it heading home.

Yes, I had a weekend away. I went to Edinburgh. It was extraordinarily pleasant. It was a sort of reunion. There were 8 of us who were terribly good friends at university (we had other friends as well) and so decided to meet up. We scattered slightly after university: Australia, Japan, Dafur, Malawi, Finland, Nottingham. So this was the first chance we’d had to all meet up again, so the 8 of us returned to Edinburgh. Well 9 of us really as I’ve pretty much doubled in size. But it was lovely. We abandoned all attempts to catch up on each others lives (I realised on the train back that I’d never actually asked about a mate’s kids – which is not very friendly but kind of a relief as I’m not actually very interested) and instead drank a lot and pretended we were 21 again. Which we blatantly are not. At university we drank a lot and we didn’t really care where we did it, this became clear when we were talking about a club we used to go to and I recalled it as a sort of garden shed/air raid shelter, turns out it actually had 3 floors but I had never been there sober. This time around we rejected any pub which didn’t have enough seating for all of us.

Some things never change though. I instantly disliked being the tallest girl. Although not exactly tall I am 5’7 in flats which is fine but in heels I look borderline transsexual. This would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that the other 3 girls I met up with are all 5’2 and under. Meaning I look like some sort of giant freak especially in photos where I look like I am eyeing up lunch. Or like some kind of supervisory lollipop lady. Would have helped if I wasn’t wearing a fluro jacket and carrying a giant stick.

But it was lovely. It was nice meeting up with people who have known you for ages and knew you when the height of your ambition was getting the money that had fallen down the back of the sofa so that you could afford to eat that night or who knew you when you slept through a fire alarm and had to be woken up by the terrifying night porter (called Tam, had 3 teeth and an impenetrable highlands accent – not the kind of man you dream of slipping in to your room at night). It was also nice to reminisce about those we left behind. Jacquiline who ate only cheese and used to grate it by rubbing it sideways against the grater (“you might get there a bit quicker if you pushed it up and down there Jacquiline”). Dave – the boy that never washed, you knew when he was coming your way as you could smell him. Ah the joys of communal living. Nice at the time but not something I am anxious to return to. Which is how I felt at returning to the train. The journey back was better, no dogs, no comedians, just an old woman who fed me polos. I still hated it though. I felt obliged to.

Monday, 26 November 2007


I went Christmas shopping last night. Thought I'd knock a few off the list in this months pay packet. Some people have some very strange gifts as I was anxious to make use of the 3 for 2's in Marks and Spencers. However I couldn't buy three things that I actually wanted: an advent candle (now I've disconnected my smoke alarms it's fires a go go), an advent calendar with some form of link to Christianity (although obviously still filled with chocolate, nothing says Peace on earth like breaking open a wise man's face to get to some second rate chocolate) and some Christmas cards that were vaguely religious but not vile. So many Christmas cards that sell themselves as portraying "the real meaning of Christmas" are horrific and you would never give them to people for fear of them being physically sick on you at the sight of such hideousness. All I'm looking for is something Christian yet enjoyable. Jesus in a santa hat maybe, Mary pulling a cracker with Herod or something.

Occasionally I think I would like to be a Nun. A proper one in black and white, not a plain clothed one in a grey cardy. It looks like a very peaceful way of life and would mean I actually had a valid reason for being constantly single. Of course it would be difficult as I am not a Catholic. I was raised a Methodist, so perhaps I could be a nun that sings stirring Weslian songs, and I now go to a Church of England church – for the main reason that it's next door to my house – I am praising the Lord by reducing my carbon footprint.

Of course the kind of nun I would like to be would be one that sings a lot and eventually marries Christopher Plummer. I wouldn't bother with the children, especially not the two rather disturbing boys. But I am willing to learn traditional Austrian folk dances and if needs be even sing Eildleweiss. I do think it would be rather nice to live life in a musical, bursting in to song whenever it takes your fancy. And if I wore a nuns habit I wouldn't have to do my hair and all that running around mountains would kick start the keep fit routine so I am ready for Christopher Plummer. I would draw the line at having nuns at my wedding to Christopher though. I have enough self confidence issues without a load of them standing there singing "How do you solve a Problem like Laura" at me whilst I trot down the ailse. Vicious old cows.

But I can't really be bothered to create my own protestant order of nuns. Although I have the hair (and let's face it the beard) I am no Henry VIII and simple don't have the time to action a schism with Rome, or in this case London? Or Canterbury? It would also involve a minor act of treason as I turn against the Queen and being beheaded would set back my plans considerably – although I would become the first martyr of Lauranism. What I need is a good second who is prepared to be slaughtered for the cause and then I can step in and establish my order. I shall get busy designing the uniform.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007


I went to many fireworks displays over the weekend. Including one terrifying one put on by my dad in my brother's garden. Which resulted in 4 very scared children. Luckily the adults among us had learnt from our childhood so had elected to stay indoors, lest there be a repeat of dad dropping a lit match in to the box of fireworks or not properly nailing the Catherine wheel to the fence. Both spectacular displays but I missed them whilst I was running for my life. The organised one I went to, however, was excellent. Made all the more enjoyable by not having to worry about someone popping back to check the lit firework.

I felt I had dressed appropriately for the display. Jeans, jumper, coat, hat but on the way out I saw someone in high heeled boots, mini skirt and a boob tube. Was I fearfully underdressed or was she a slapper? I made this comment to my brother and rather than the amusing bitchy conversation I had anticipated got told that I couldn't comment as I used to go to the Supermarket in my pyjamas. This sadly is true, but in my defence my pyjamas were men's pyjama trousers and a black t-shirt. It's not like I was leaping around in a skimpy negligee giving people heart attacks by the nectarines. Also it was the strangest supermarket in the world.

Many years have passed and it's 12,000 miles away so I have no problems in outing this supermarket as being Woolworths in Neutral Bay, Sydney. It was there that I saw 2 men, dressed only in towels, doing their weekly shop. It was also the local supermarket for a woman who used to do everything on roller blades, you'd see her in the city desperately clinging on to lamp-posts or trying to keep her balance as her legs got a way from her. It was a bit like watching that episode of Some Mother's Do 'Ave 'Em. What was really strange was that she was dressed like Lara Croft. A skimpy pair of cycling shorts, a crop top, knee and elbow pads and her hair all tied up, pitching head first in to freezers as she attempted to do her shopping on wheels.

I was forced to shop there however. Not only because it was opposite my house and very convenient but because I was either in self imposed exile from other shops on that road or I was physically banned from other shops on that road. A major stumble in the other main supermarket meant that workers there waved at me when I went in and I could live without that. Plus their food was so manky it had normally rotted by the time you got it home. And I'm not allowed in Blockbuster anymore ever since I ACCIDENTALLY told the woman in there to er f*** off. Actually I was quite polite about it. My exact words were "F*** you lady." Either way, I felt it best not to return to that particular video rental store. I'm not sure why I chose to develop tourettes at that particular moment (although she was being really annoying) but I felt it wise never to return.

Which sadly meant that my flatmate Steve was in charge of getting videos out. His favourite type of film seemed to involve animals in combat. I watched "Brotherhood of the Wolf" and "Dog Soldiers". Well I say watch, I actually made rude comments and read a book. On one occasion he came in and said "I've got us a film. Badger Paratroopers (or something similar). Now I know what you're thinking…. It's in French. But don't worry it's got subtitles". Believe me of all the things I was thinking it wasn't that.

However, it is now Wednesday and Fireworks are still going on. And they seem to start about 3-30. Why is this? Surely the point is that it is dark. Or perhaps there's some hip new style I don't know about. Perhaps its badgers attempting to get revenge for their Oscar snub.

Friday, 26 October 2007


On Saturday night I went out for my mates birthday. After many drinks, dancing and the most spectacular fall I’ve ever seen by the birthday girl (6 foot off her boyfriend’s shoulders on to her face) it was time to go home. And I really, really didn’t want to walk. Sadly there were no taxies to be had and none to be had for an hour if the control women were to be believed. Luckily we saw a man having a fag outside a shop – and he had a car! After much persuasion (and fake crying) he agreed to give us a lift home. We even made him clear his back seat so we could pile in. It wasn’t until we were a little way from home that it occurred to me that getting a lift with a man we met on the street at 2 in the morning might not have been the best idea. I decided in that split second that I didn’t really want to die, I didn’t want to die on Julie’s birthday and I certainly didn’t want to die to a sound track of Chris Rea.

Pretty inevitably (and obviously) we didn’t die and he just dropped us off. I took a few photos of the car just in case – I assumed they’d find the camera with my body and solve the mystery.

Presuming the worst is an endearing habit of mine. Or incredibly pessimistic and annoying. I often think when I’m driving: “What would happen if I ploughed off the road now and died?” and normally my main worry is – would they report my terrible music taste in the newspaper. “The woman crashed her car whilst listening to Voice of the Beehive. It is unknown whether she lost control of the car or simply lost the will to live due to the appalling music”. Do I really want my rescue to be conducted to the strains of “Snooker Loopy”.

I love the way that music has such strong associations. Play certain songs and you’re instantly transported back to where you were when you heard it and even how you felt when you heard it. Elliot Smith was the soundtrack to my university days and even though it’s some of the most monumentally depressing music you’ll ever hear it’ll always be associated with some fantastic times. I can hear “Walk of Life” a thousand times but it’ll always remind me of being about 6 and dancing around my brother’s bedroom having a “disco” (3 of us dancing and my mum flicking the light on and off). I can’t listen to “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia whilst I’m driving as that’s what was playing when I was in a pile up on the A1.

I think it’s those kind of associations that means everyone has certain musical guilty pleasures. However cool, hip and groovy you are now, and by using that kind of language you can tell that I am down with the kids, there is guaranteed to be one song that you will exclaim “oooh I love this song” when it comes on the radio and everyone will look at you like you’re mental. The cd’s that I tend to listen to a lot but tend to keep in plain covers are usually the music that I listened to in my parents cars. Namely Paul Simon (not too bad), Peter Skellon (odd) and Crystal Gayle (just horrendous and has also sparked a strange love of country music).

But that’s what’s good about music. Although you may heartily dislike a song and the singer something can happen and it can take on new meanings. Find one song you like and you can discover whole new genres and singers. Which in a round about way is why X factor is good. Not that they are introducing brilliant new singers to the world (although I do like Leona’s new song) but in that they cover songs in a way that inspire you to find the original. Mainly on the grounds that watching some halfwit warble Islands in the Stream convinces you that the original can’t have been that dreadful. And anything that gets Kenny Rogers to a wider audience is a good thing.


Well that was a lovely holiday. Over now. Sob, sob etc. I would highly recommend a trip to the channel islands. Guernsey museums seem slightly obsessed by the occupation (however the exhibits have made me fairly sure that I am anti-Hitler) but there is a lot of fun to be had. I started out taking a book with me to meals in the evening – how to dine alone and avoid the pitying stares of other diners- but I found that eavesdropping was far more fun. Especially when I over heard the following conversation “Yes, that was Schoellsberg wasn’t it?” “ooooh yes, terrible man, horrible piece of work”, “Well I don’t know about that”, “He was a dictator wasn’t he?” “No, no a bobsleigher”. I don’t think they appreciated my snorting laughter. However as they both declared at the beginning of their meal that they were going to be “terribly Yorkshire and drink tea with their meal” they are blatantly weird and base all their knowledge of Northeners on the Tetley Tea Folk. I base my knowledge of the North on Last of the Summer Wine. Far more reliable. I look forward to a trip North at some point where I shall see old men whizzing down hills in bath tubs and running away from randy old ladies in headscarves.

The boat trip back was vile. I have never been ill on public transport in my life. Even when drunk I have managed to contain myself. However sitting on a small boat bobbing between Sark and Guernsey I started to feel a bit rough, convincing myself it was a case of mind over matter I decided to concentrate on my book (having read all 5 of the books I had taken in the first two days I read a lot of trash magazines and whatever books were left in the hotel. I am therefore deeply immersed in a dreadful family saga.) When that didn’t work I thought I’d look at the horizon. Except the windows were masked by waves crashing over them and it was difficult to look at the horizon when one moment the window was in the sea and the next it was pointing at the sky. So I looked at a fire hydrant and gulped in deep breaths of diesel filled air. Eventually with Guernsey in sight I took a deep breath – and threw up. In to a bag. Grim. Luckily there was a bin on board so I didn’t have to carry it around like a badly served portion of take away soup. 3 hours on dry land and I still felt rough as.

It was a very nice holiday, I don’t want you to go away thinking it was all being sick in bags and mad racists. I went in the sea twice. Baltic (well actually it was the channel) ho ho. I drank far too much VAT free wine, I met some very pleasant people and I read and slept a lot. I also discovered that although you never forget how to ride a bike (there are no cars on Sark) your thighs have given up the ghost and scream with disgust when you attempt to cycle up hills. I bumped in to the mad bob sleighing people when I was attempting to have a nap at the top of a cliff (as nice as the beach looked I couldn’t face the walk back up). He was dressed in some sort of lycra all in one with a bandana and she was wearing sensible walking shorts. I forced myself to sit up and talk to them, thinking that they only thing worse than talking to them would be to continue attempting to sleep and have them think that I was dead upon a cliff and have them try to rescue me. 10 foot away from his lycra clad genitals was fine for me.

Monday, 1 October 2007


I got headbutted at the weekend. It was quite astonishingly painful and was made worse by the fact that I essentially headbutted myself. I was balancing my niece on my feet and was holding her hands, she slipped and my holding her hands only served to turn her in to a battering ram and her head went straight in to my nose. Sadly it was one of those injuries that, although amazingly painful, leaves no evidence although it felt like I was going to have to invest in a fake nose. I used to know someone who had a fake nose, it was attached to his glasses. You used to hear his sister shout “Put your nose on Will” as you rang the doorbell. Anyway the gymnastics were a way of trying to sell the idea of brothers to my niece, as the arrival of 2 in 15 months has put her out a bit. I’m not sure how successful my pep talk/carnage was.

I was slightly overly reliant on my brother Ben as a child. We are only 18 months apart and both lacked vital skills (that thankfully the other had) and so together we could function. I sadly lacked the ability to speak. Well I could speak but no one could understand me apart from Ben and so he was forced to act as my translator. Ben, meanwhile, had absolutely no concept of the days of the week or time. It must have confused my mum no end to overhear us having a chat. BEN: “What day is it?” ME: “fginfionda” BEN: “But how do you know??”. What did become clear later on in life, when I could explain myself (as long as it didn’t involve the words professor or blancmange) is that both Ben and I have (and I only know it’s name as I googled it) synesthesia. Basically we see things in colours and pictures. Ben more than I. I see days of the week, numbers up to ten, years and months in it and Ben sees pretty much everything like it. Well not everything, he doesn’t look at a house and see it as a cow symbolising a house, he generally just sees a house.

I see the days of the week as a strip, a bit like a negative strip from a camera, with the days of the week laid out as different colours and patterns. Tuesday is an old flannel we used to have, Wednesday is a foul egg yellow (and is also a sad day) and so on. Years are on a ladder with those yet to come higher up the rungs. Months are on a loop and again are differently patterned and so on.
I had no idea that everybody didn’t think like this until Ben and I had an argument at dinner one evening about the colour of Thursday and everyone else just looked at us. Having read this through it sounds like I should be riding the special bus. But it does make life easier. It’s always easy to get to a date as it’s all laid out on a colour coded graph in your head. Also it doesn’t seem to hold me back although sometimes there is a bit of a sensory overload.

Any way my nose doesn’t appear to be broken so I shall simply add it to the list of injuries that were almost fantastic but instead just hurt a lot and looked crap. The only truly decent injury I have had is when I cut my finger off in a door and had to pick the severed flesh out of the hinge. Well I didn’t, I was too busy pumping blood up the wall, someone else had the joy of finding the top of my finger. All in all I’m quite glad I don’t have to invest in a fake nose. I’m rubbish at wearing my glasses anyway and I don’t think I could get away with losing them if my nose was attached. I’m also not sure you could attach a fake nose to a pair of contact lenses without causing yourself difficulties.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia (explains it better than I ever could).

Wednesday, 26 September 2007


My skin is going from bad to worse. If it was gluesniffer before it is now Zammo from Grange Hill at the height of his Heroin Addiction. I wouldn’t mind but I’ve always “Just Said No” and now I have the skin without the skinning up. Actually it was Zammo scrabbling around on the floor (after knocking Jackie over) to get at his Heroin that put me off drugs. Not that I had much of an idea what he was doing, as I was 6. Either way I believe Heroin’s delicious but very moorish, so I’ll steer clear.

Watching Grange Hill was one of the few television memories I share with my peers. I have seen nothing. I don’t remember half the things that people talk about and seem to have spent my childhood reading books that no one else remembers. I haven’t seen: Button Moon, Terrorhawk, Airwolf, Knightmare, Batfink, Count Duckula, Supergran or Trapdoor. I have also never seen: Back to the Future (any of them), Indianna Jones (any of them), Star Wars, Gremlins, ET, The Goonies or Ghostbusters. It’s not even like I was out having fun on my chopper bike as I didn’t have one of those either! For someone born in the 80’s I have very poor knowledge of the era, I can just about be sentimental about a soda stream but given that ours was used to make fizzy water only (no fake cola syrup allowed) I can only really reminisce about the fact I used to kick mine over so I didn’t have to drink it. I remember being given a Rainbow Brite cardboard puppet thing. Sadly I had no idea what Rainbow Brite was so instead of using her to restore colour to the universe ( I googled) she and the rest of the colour kids mainly spent their time pretending to go to the shops or out on their bikes.

But I didn’t know what I was missing, all it means is now I sit through a few reminiscing type conversations going “I haven’t seen it”. And I have absolutely no desire at all to be educated. There are films you watch at a certain time in your life and love and then when you watch it again it’s the nostalgia you’re enjoying, not the film. I don’t make people watch Peter’s Friends as I know it is awful, I however remember watching it when I was 13 and thinking it was great. Crushes on both Hugh Laurie and Kenneth Branagh helped.

I did however manage to watch Mannequin which was a triumph in itself as I am terrified of mannequins, my real fear being that they are going to come to life. On reflection this might not have been the film for me. But I was a brave soldier and it was alright. I particularly enjoyed their hair. But I don’t really want to spend my free time now watching films that I should have seen when I was 8. What’s the point? I don’t feel the need to go to Disneyland, own a horse or wear a boiler suit (my other ambitions when I was 8) so why watch the films? Also surely I’d spend my time in a constant state of catch-up. Watching this years new releases in 2014 as I was so busy in 2007 watching films from 1988. Too confusing.

So I shall continue to be left out of nostalgia. However if any of you have read and enjoyed the following please let me know. It would be like nostalgia for deprived gimps. : The Shrinking of Treehorn, any books by Michelle Magorian, When Hitler Stole the Pink Rabbit and Trebizon. Thank you.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007


This is a party political broadcast on behalf of the ginger and red hair party. It has been published in response to the questions I and fellow gingers get asked on average thirty thousand times a day. Hopefully this should clear things up.

Yes it is natural. Only the deeply weird or those in to role playing dungeons and dragons are voluntarily ginger.
Yes I am lucky. It’s a source of constant joy. I get up everyday and thank the baby Jesus. Or it’s just hair.
No it doesn’t run in the family. I am the only one
No I am not the milk-man’s.
I do not get offended by people calling me ginger. I certainly don’t need you or anyone else to leap in and say “well it’s more strawberry blonde really.”
In the same way that you don’t crap your pants when someone says “blonde” or “brunette”, I don’t soil myself or feel the need to weep when someone mentions “ginger”.
Yes ginger hair is hilarious. I can never have too many pictures of myself where it looks like my head’s on fire.

I was forced to send an email to John Frieda on Wednesday. Well to his “people” or the people who run his website. Having hair that isn’t properly curly and is by no means straight and likes to inflate itself to the size of a barrage balloon and amuse itself by contorting itself in to many shapes (it’s favourite being the massive cow licked fringe) I need to use some sort of product to calm it. Left to it’s own devises I look like Justin Lee Collins or like someone has piped a Mr Whippy on to my head.

Whilst staying at my mum and dad’s I used my mum’s “John Frieda Shine Shock” (hey, sur casa, me casa) Which was very nice. But as she has dark brown hair I felt the brunette one wasn’t bringing out the natural tones and hightlights in my hair. Besides it’s hers and she wouldn’t let me take it.

So I went to Sainsburys and trawled the shelves only to discover that the full hair care range is only available in blonde or brunette. Well sod you then. So I spent £6 on a colour glaze. Which made my hair simultaneously greasy and sticky and made my bathroom smell like chemical warfare had taken place. So I wrote and told John as much. Why, I asked, have I spent £6 on something I could have achieved with a bottle of chip oil? Why must I crawl to the bathroom under the mushroom cloud of chemicals?

Shockingly I’ve not had a response. They are possibly taking out some kind of hair care fatwa upon me. But honestly. If I am forced to go through life looking like a lion or the love child of Kevin Keegan and Rod Hull then at least I should have something to tame the mane. It’s still in recovery from when I decided I could cut my own fringe in. My attempts at “thinning” only led to the creation of an underfringe. I attempted to cut it as close as possible to my head to stop the bizarrely short fringe poking through. I am now growing it back and it is growing vertically. So I look a bit like Billy Whizz. To cut or not to cut. That is the question.

I tend to have one really bad hair cut a year and spend the rest of the year growing it out. This means I only have to spend an hour a year sitting there whilst some teenager with a pixie mullet picks up my hair and drops it with disdain whilst asking me who cut it last (er you did). And then hacks away at it then stops. “hang on did we say sweeping fringe or asymmetrical?” “we said Sweeping” “ah well it’ll grow and your fringe looks quite nice starting there, up by your hairline”. They then blow dry it in to a halo and then hack in to it with razors. Only stopping to ask questions “did you want an undercut?”, “did we say yes to the mullet”. No! no we didn’t. We never had a discussion. I told you what I wanted and you did what you wanted. At no point did these ambitions coincide and at no point did we have a discussion. You couldn’t even get my coffee right and now you’re setting about my head with knives!

OK not knives. Anyway. I think I’ll have my annual haircut in November, then any experimental bits can grow in time for the photos that will be taken at Christmas and New Year. If not, at least it’s winter and I can wear a hat.

Friday, 7 September 2007


I have moved!!! Hurrah hurrah let joy be unconfined. I am now the proud owner of a beautiful house and a collection of insane furniture gathered from various family members. I am still a little nervous about sitting on the kitchen chairs. I can clearly remember Grandma falling through one of the chairs. She died soon afterwards. Now I’m not saying the two are related but it’s not a chance I’m willing to take. Either way, death chairs aside, I’m loving it. I was particularly delighted to unpack the box of receipts I’d packed 4 months ago. Thank god those babies are safe! Nothing says welcome to a new home like a receipt book for a fridge you hired in Sydney five years ago. It’s now carefully stored in a drawer. It’s a vicious circle.

However the nicest thing of all is that there doesn’t seem to be any insane neighbours. The relief of coming home and not having to talk to a care in the community patient is enormous. When I was a student we lived above someone with “issues”. Given the smell in the corridor he was controlling (or causing) these issues with “herbal medicine” and so we mainly left him alone. He did however like to write us notes apologising for his actions. These mainly read “I am sorry for banging a door loudly at midnight last night. I am punishing myself”. Next note: “I am sorry for putting a note through your door at 3am yesterday morning. It was wrong and I am punishing myself”. Our mature response was to call him Dobby (the self punishing elf in Harry Potter) and ignore him. He did point out to us that we should be more grateful to him as he was “protecting our bin”, but we didn’t really have that strong feelings towards our bin so we let him get on with it.

When I lived in Sydney my upstairs neighbours weren’t too bad except they seemed to have a roller disco at 6am every Sunday morning. Or they were training their kids for the Olympics by making them do laps of the flat. Back in the UK one set of neighbours used their house as storage and lived in a caravan park a mile or so away (I have no idea what that was about).

Then there were the neighbours who enjoyed their techno discos at 3pm every day and then after they mysteriously disappeared one day they were replaced by a sweet old man who liked easy listening music. At 7am on a Saturday. There’s nothing like being jolted awake by “Annie’s Song” or “Leaving on a Jet Plane”. It was like having Peter, Paul and Mary in bed with you. My flatmate snapped one day and went downstairs and asked him to turn this particular rendition of “Annie’s Song” down. His reply was that he was sorry but he was a music man. Julie replied “Yeah, I’ve noticed, you like this and ‘Leaving on a jet plane’.” The reply was a line that is guaranteed to stop any argument dead and has made me determined never to row with the neighbours again.

“Yes, I like that song. You see I lost my wife on a jet plane”

Oh OK. Well you enjoy blasting that out. But anyway. I intend to keep myself to myself. No disco’s, no folk rock, no demanding rewards for looking after people’s bins. I am turning the nutter magnet off. I shall ignore them all. Unless of course they are interested in seeing my receipt collection.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007


It would appear I have combination skin. Sadly it’s the combination of a 95 year old woman and 14 year old boy. Yes, I have managed the unique (and stunning) feat of having wrinkles and acne at the same time. Actually it’s just one wrinkle, right by my eye and it’s like the grand canyon. The acne is just a treat. I didn’t get it the first time round so clearly I am now having some kind of second puberty. Which is nice. Yesterday, I resorted to ripping a free sample of Estee Lauder wrinkle cream out of a magazine I found on a train. There was only enough in it to cover half my face. Which means that I am expertly primed to see if it works by drawing a thick black line down the middle of my face and seeing which side ages quicker. It has also made me paranoid about the size of my face. I know I have massive cheeks but do they really make my face twice the size of everyone elses?

I have untagged myself from a lot of photos on facebook on the grounds that I look like a pig in a frock. I do however like looking through other people’s photos. I was particularly intrigued by one night out (which I wasn’t invited on – thanks guys) where they all met Moonface from the Magic Faraway Tree. Oh, hang on, that top looks familiar. Oh I was there.

I think the world can be divided up in to photogenic and non-photogenic people. I am doomed to spend a life time ruining people’s photos by looking incredibly smug. I also seem to spend a lot of time having a competition with myself to see how many chins I can create. I’m on about 7, a woo hoo. I used to hide my school photos. There was no way I wanted to give my parents the option of buying it and I didn’t want to return it as I was convinced it would be passed round the staff room causing my teachers to laugh whilst simultaneously retching. I overcame this problem by simply hiding them in my locker and denying their existence. As a plan it was foolproof, until we had a locker inspection and I was found to have seven cardboard framed photos of myself. A sort of smug gallery. I think this struck an element of fear in to the teachers heart and thankfully there was just an embarrassed silence rather than any questioning.

At least make up has improved since the happy days of school photos. I can now attempt to cover up the acne extravaganza. And cover the spots up in a tone that vaguely matches my skin. Unlike 10 years ago when all we had on offer was “clearisil cover stick” which was effectively an orange crayon which didn’t so much hide or cover as much as it did highlight. Oompaloompa’s must have been able to create the illusion of flawless skin but those with skin hues that didn’t match a Satsuma were slightly more limited.

I have often tried to detract attention from my gluesniffer chin by slapping on the eye make-up. Now thanks to the grand canyon of crows feet it all slides in there looking like I applied my make up whilst high on glue. Perhaps I should go au naturel and not bother. Bare my face to the world. Or perhaps whilst there is the slightest chance that pictures can end up on facebook I should wear a balaclava at all times. I’ll give Moonface a call and see if he’s got one spare.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Big Brother

I apologise in advance to all those with superior viewing habits but this is another column about Big Brother. It’s getting on my nerves basically. I don’t really watch it anymore. Since me and my flatmate went our separate ways I don’t really enjoy it as I need to slag it off to someone to really enjoy it. Also now Gerry has gone I hate everyone in there.

Brian is disturbing. I don’t want to enter in to the argument about whether he is or is not actually that thick, I don’t actually care. What worries me more is that we are meant to find his thickness endearing and that it is a positive characteristic. It’s not. I used to sit next to someone at junior school who ate chalk and once sat on a glue gun. He was in no way someone you would want in your everyday life. Putting him on national television would only bring back feelings of revulsion. It would not endear me to him in anyway. Why is someone going on tv and pretending they don’t know who Shakespeare is considered a good thing? It’s worrying. He should be shot not celebrated. OK, maybe not shot, disciplined though. In the same way the twins should also be sorted out. And come the Glorious Revolution of Laura they will be first up against the wall. They are 18. At 18 you are an adult. They act like they are about 6. At weekends they dress up in fairy outfits and sing at men in night clubs. That is disturbing on so many levels. Women who want to be children are odd. Men who are attracted to women who want to be children are odd. In the good old days of BB7 there was a woman called Grace Adams Short. She was a cow. She bitched, she slagged people off and left the house after chucking a glass of water in a 45 year old woman’s face. She however explained away her behaviour (and the media accepted this explanation) as “that’s what girls are like”. Er no we are fucking not. You are. And you’re a cow.

Now I know that normal, well adjusted 19 year old girls aren’t going to want to go on reality television but could we not have better representations of womanhood than them? It was Jade Goody who started the idea that thick people are someone to look up to. Now we have to endure people going on reality television and pretending they don’t know how to put their trousers on or thinking Paris is in Wales. It is not amusing, it is not a reflection of Britain today, it’s sad and annoying.

The one intelligent housemate, Gerry was viewed as being Machiavellian and untrustworthy as he tried to talk about history. The other so called intelligent housemate Jonty can only communicate through a teddy bear called Munkity Tunkity and so is held up to ridicule (don’t get me wrong he should be ridiculed but he shouldn’t be on television and he shouldn’t be a representation of intelligence. Being intelligent does not make you odd). It would seem we don’t want people to be intelligent or interesting. We want them to be incapable and thick. We want 21 year old girls to dress up as children and carry Barbie’s around. And it frustrates the crap out of me.

I have aired this view to various people and been told to shut up as it’s just entertainment. But consider this. The twins are training to be social workers (together obviously, possibly dressed identically). You suspect that a child who lives next door is being mistreated. You call social services and a twin turns up dressed in a tutu. You outline the things you’ve heard and seen and ask her what she’s going to do. Sadly she can’t answer as she wasn’t listening. But she has drawn a lovely picture of a fairy.

Can we please encourage little girls to aim a bit higher? Can we also make it OK to be women? Women with opinions and jobs who are self sufficient and don’t sing at men. Without wishing to be a militant feminist, our grandmothers didn’t burn their bras in the sixties merely to give Jodie Marsh an excuse to hold her baps up with belts.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007


I have stopped watching Big Brother. This is mainly due to Seany but I also haven’t been in much and haven’t caught up and also because I got distracted by Britain’s Got Talent. It would seem that large groups of children dancing in unison makes me cry. I could sit stony faced through children singing and juggling (I wanted to smack them, but I didn’t cry). But the minute children started moving in unison I lost it.

I don’t cry very easily. The only thing guaranteed to get me going is Rolf Harris singing “Two Little Boys”, I don’t know why, perhaps I was abused to it as a child but on the whole I am not easily manipulated. Unlike my mother who once cried at Style Challenge. I do however cry through rage, which is annoying as it doesn’t really help you put a cohesive argument together, and I cry through fear. Which is understandable until you realise that I am not afraid of dogs, or wasps, or heights, or planes but I am in fact terrified of dolls. And dolls houses and if anyone’s got one lying around I am petrified of dolls caravans. Even writing this I am getting shivers up my spine and looking around convinced that a doll is going to come up and tap me on the shoulder.

I have no idea why or how this fear started. My mum has her own theories, I think it’s due to the fact that dolls are creepy and evil and have a tendancy to come to life behind your back and also down to a very weird and horrific children’s television programme called Totty. Not many people have heard of Totty but those that had the misfortune of seeing it carry an indelible scar and are always delighted to meet a fellow sufferer. Totty was made by Postgate productions the same people who made Bagpuss and Ivor the Engine. But Totty was twisted. It was about two girls who had a dolls house and the dolls inside could make things happen by wishing. There was a mother called Bridie, a dad called Mr Plantagenant, a little boy called Apple and Totty. Then an evil doll called Marchpane came to visit with the intent of causing harm. Towards the end of the series I assume they had to come up with a way of bringing this lovely story to an end. I can imagine the brainstorming session “Shall we send Marchpane away? Shall we let Totty find happiness? Nah fuck it let’s burn down the dolls house”’ And so the series ended with the dolls house burning to the ground whilst we watched the dolls melting and burning inside. As their faces didn’t move all you saw was there blank staring faces melt whilst a terrifying scream ran out. I vividly remember a nanny holding a baby that was on fire screaming through her painted on smile.

Either way it has scarred me for life. Admittedly my life as an adult isn’t affected, I just don’t go to Madame Tussauds, but as a child it was difficult. I would be invited round to peoples houses to play with these horrific effergies. If I was really unfortunate I would be asked if I wanted to play with a dismembered head that someone had stuck on a pole for young girls to plaster in make up. I believe that was called a girls world. Birthdays were a bit of a Russian roulette. You never knew which parcel from a schoolfriend would reveal an unblinking instrument of torture.

Nowadays the only time I come in to contact with dolls is when I go to see my niece. They are all hidden in advance of my visit but when I open a cupboard I am guaranteed to find one staring at me from behind a weetabix packet or from where it’s been squashed behind a sofa. Which in a way is more scary as it involves the element of surprise.

Now I must crawl in to a ball and sit under my desk as I am sure somewhere a doll has heard this and is going to come looking for me.


I have had a terribly informative week. I have finally learnt the words to “La Isla Bonita”. It led to quite a lot of mockery as I was singing what I thought were the correct words and found a car full of people staring at me. It turns out the words are “Last night I dreamt of San Pedro” not “Last night I slept with some waiter”. It’s also “A young girl with eyes like the desert” Not “young man with eyes like potato”. I am seeing the world through new eyes. However I was slightly aggrieved by being mocked for this by my flatmate. This is the girl who thought it was “Club Tropicana under the Sea”, “Don’t lift us up where we belong” and butchered Roy Orbinson’s tender love song by thinking the words were “I drove all night, crapped in your room”. Although to be fair if you’ve driven all night, needs must.

But most disturbing of all was my brother. Relaxing one Sunday afternoon he decided to sing a long with the radio, Summer of ’69 was playing. Sadly he’d never realised that it began “ I bought my first real six string”, instead he preferred the lyrics “I had my first real sex dream”. Ignoring the fact that this means he bought it at a five and dime, it also means that he “played it till his fingers bled” and stood on his Mama’s porch swearing he could last forever.

But although some of the time I am willing to admit I am in the wrong at others I am sure the singer is having a laugh. In the middle of “So Good” by Boyzone Ronan Keating clearly “sings” “I’m stroking his balls”, and in “my love is your love” Whitney Houston drives her point home somewhere in the second chorus my muttering “you dickhead”.

I also dislike it when songs are used in a ridiculous manner. Not that I’ve spent much time thinking about the marriage and divorce of America’s sweethearts Brad and Jen but I do remember reading that at their wedding they had “A whole Lotta Love”, played on a mandolin. How lovely. All your family and friends gathered round whilst some hippy twanging away on a mandolin sings about how they “want to give you my love, every inch of my love.”
Sadly some of the most amusing lyrics come from my old school song. These have not been misheard but included the gems “Teach us to look in all our ends, on thee for judge and not our friends.” We were also implored to take “delight in simple things and mirth that has no bitter springs.” I don’t know what is more worrying the fact that somebody wrote that crap or that I can still remember all five verses of it.

Thursday, 16 August 2007


I bumped in to two people I went to school with on Saturday. Two things were interesting. One – I knew who they were and could remember their names. I must have spent seven years in a coma as I don’t remember anyone I went to school with. I once asked my flatmate why this was and she replied “because you spent seven years with your head up your own bum” so these people must have been pretty special to penetrate my anus (as it were). The second thing was that I couldn’t avoid them and was forced to make conversation with them. And this was down to one thing – Facebook. Given that I am now officially their “friend” I couldn’t really ignore them when I saw them in person. Facebook has forced me to be sociable.

But I do prefer it to other social networking sites, and I prefer it to actually talking to people – why ring someone up when you can write something amusing (and short) in magnetic letters on their profile. I joined myspace briefly. This was mainly because there was a girl I went to uni with who was slightly bizarre and I wanted to see what she was up to. After reading her profile “I love the smell of cats" etc. it was easy to conclude she is mental and that it wasn’t really worth being on myspace simply to amuse myself every now and then by reading her blog. However I am completely unable to close my account. I pop in every month or so to check it and discover that lots of people want to be my friend. This is very weird. Why on earth would I want to be friends with someone who calls themselves gnomeslayer90 and who wants to be friends with someone who has no personal details and a picture of Mavis from Willow the Whisp as their profile picture? I know everybody who is my friend on facebook, I have no desire to be friends with a man who dresses up as a warlock and lives in Alabama.

Myspace, like datingdirect before it, also gives me a serious crisis of confidence. Now don’t get me wrong, I know my limitations. On a good day I look like a fat Rod Hull but some of the human waste that wants to meet me makes me think that I either have a too high opinion of myself or these people take self confidence to the extreme. People that have never seen daylight, let alone another human being are queuing up to email me. People who’s hobbies include role playing and plushing (to foul to go in to here, I once read an article on it, I think it is suffice to say that people who enjoy it like cuddly toys with “loving” eyes and a tail to lift) are desperate to meet me. I would sooner die alone. I really hope that they are just indiscriminate in their emails. That if they send enough out one’s got to bite.

Maybe it’s karma. One of my favourite things on the internet is a blog written by a woman who is obsessed by knitting. I am not but I do enjoy seeing this girl model the things she has knitted - including her own wedding dress! Sadly she never seems to buy enough wool to finish a job so every bizarre jumper is knitted in a multitude of colours. Perhaps everytime I laugh at the knitter I am repayed by having dragonrider45 email me. For every person I forward the link on to I am punished by having an agoraphobic obsessed by Lee Harvey Oswald wink at me.


I went to Scotland this weekend. It was lovely (so clearly that’s not going to make a column). It was nice to be back in a land where ginger is an accepted form of colouring and I don’t understand 80% of what’s being said (this doesn’t necessarily just apply to Scotland it also applies in most meetings and on occasion watching Neighbours).

However, when I was at Stanstead at silly o’clock Saturday morning I needed to go to the loo (I’ll stop torturing you with my glamourous lifestyle soon). When I walked in to the toilets I was confronted with the sign “we hope you are delighted with these facilities”. Now maybe this is a sign of my borgeouis, middle class roots but I have never in my life been delighted by a toilet. The harbour bridge, the gorgeous British coastline, my nieces and nephews but never a toilet. I was not alone. I wasn’t battling my way through crowds of people rolling on the floor with delight at the sight of a porcelain paradise.

I don’t know whether it was the earliness of the hour or maybe I misread it – which again has been known. I was outraged at posters advertising the film, “Welcome to Paedophilia” sadly it was “Welcome to Philadelphia” – but either way it was odd. Almost as odd as the “no studying” sign at Singapore airport. Singapore airport is weird in general. I once stumbled through there at 3am to find people doing a display of disco dancing.

Actually I lie.

I have been delighted by a toilet. But I blame British rail bus replacement services for that. A journey that takes 25 minutes by rail should not take an hour and a half by road. Especially when you have drunk 3 cups of tea and a pint of water. Whilst I was making a contingency plan that involved throwing away my trousers I spied a public toilet. I was truly delighted. Perhaps Stanstead could adopt this approach. They could force feed people 4 pints of water at check in – perhaps make them drink the liquids they’re not allowed to take on board. They could then lock the doors to all the loos except one, obviously the one that is the furthest away. They could even through in some more obstacles, no bog roll, a seat that’s hanging off (Glasgow airport is clearly ahead of it’s time in this respect).

However Scotland was a pleasure and a joy. I caught up with friends I haven’t seen for ages, was introduced to a new drink – a “blackbeard” which involved rum, coke and guiness, parted company with my new drink and was reminded of my favourite chat up line “You’ve got beautiful eyes. Can I touch them?”
I also learnt a valuable lesson. No matter how much fun you are having or how good an idea it seems you must never, ever dye your hair when under the influence. I look like Ronald MacDonald, which is unacceptable in every country of the UK.


I am still living at home. I could turn this in to a huge sweary rant about estate agents and people who pretend to want to sell their house but actually want to disappear and are completely unable to fill in a form properly. But I won’t. I would however, recommend that under no circumstance whatsoever do you say mid conversation to an estate agent that you are “about to open up a can of whoop ass on them”. Firstly they don’t know you’re joking. Secondly, you sound ridiculous and they may refuse to sell you a house as you are a knob.

But there are other things to think about. I have just tried to make a payment and had my card declined three times. Upon ringing HSBC there apparently has been fraudulent activity on my card but not my account so they have destroyed my card. Well thank you so much for letting me know. Thankfully I was only trying to pay my tax bill rather than something important like shoes but it would have been nice to get a little warning.

I don’t really understand what they are talking about. They read through every transaction on my account and every single one was mine. I was expecting the reply “God you spend a lot” not “Well, Miss Sleep I am afraid that’s all fraudulent and we are destroying your card. We’ll send you a new one in a week”. A WEEK! I have £10 in my purse, no petrol and two of my mates have had babies today, not really the occasion to turn up empty handed or with stuff you’ve found in the cupboards. “Would the baby like a teasmade?”

I am also going up to Scotland for a wedding this weekend I am hoping that the B&B I am staying in accepts string as payment. I am mainly upset as I am going by train, and I follow the theory that what ever you eat, drink or spend on a train doesn’t count in the real world. Which is a good job as the average cost of a cup of tea on GNER is £4-50. Therefore I tend to pass 6 hours on a train by indulging in my own little Roman orgy of individually wrapped biscuits. Accept once when I slipped in to a coma upon leaving Edinburgh and woke up in Peterborough to find everyone around me had moved and about a litre and a half of saliva covering my upper body.

So I am on rations. I am hoping that booze at the wedding is free and I can smuggle a couple of bottles away with me, I shall swop the name on one of the presents for mine and shall do a runner from the B&B. Miss Sleep sounds like a pseudonym anyway.

I shall also try and retract the huge, sweary, ranty email I have just sent to HSBC. No threats of whoop ass but not my finest hour.


I was reliably informed that my column last week wasn’t funny (it wasn’t meant to be it was informative). So this week I’m not even going to try. If you want to read about the transformation of the Labour party in the 1980’s read on, if you don’t I’ll see you next week.

Sadly what I can tell you about the Labour party in the 80’s isn’t worth knowing as it was taught to me by a supply teacher who didn’t care and all I really learnt was that Michael Foot wasn’t elected as he wore a donkey jacket and glasses held together with sellotape. Amusing now, but you should have seen the look of panic on the permanent teachers face when 18 people write that in a mock A’ level. So my incisive and cutting comment on the leadership contest of the labour party is that Gordon Brown has very nice hair and so should win over those other two.

I went to one of the traditional breeding grounds of British politicians on Saturday. Yes Oxford, land of dreaming spires, amazing architecture and some of the best minds in the world. Sadly it was raining so I really only saw Starbucks and the inside of New Look. I did make an amazing discovery about myself. I am not a snob. For I don’t just hate chavs. I also dislike posh people. And Oxford was full of them. Loads of rahs with too many teeth riding bikes on the pavement and expecting pedestrians to get out the way. There was also some weirdo in full exercise gear doing lunges in the middle of the road whilst traffic hooted, it was obviously vital that he did his cool down that second rather than wait to get on the pavement. Or perhaps being able to read Sophocles in the original Greek makes you invisible (and let’s face it, damn handy). I think my main issue is that I dislike people with loud voices in public places. This particular bug bear has lead to many people thinking I am in a mood as I rarely speak to them in public. In Oxford there was a girl shrieking loudly about some issue or other, I think maybe her Papa wouldn’t give her the money for a new boat. Either way I was forced to stare at her and loudly tutt.

My brother is at Cambridge and I often become frustrated with his way of life. I tell him so, well at least I give messages to his butler to pass on. Although I appreciate it’s an amazing place to live and you’ve done very well to get there I don’t really feel it equips you for life. Dressing up in a cape and saying grace in Latin before having your dinner served to you is nice but having a part time job and paying your own gas bill is slightly more useful.

So anyway. My point is this. Whilst our politicians are handpicked from Oxbridge AND have to look good (my theory falls down when it comes to John Major) things aren’t going to improve. I don’t care which way Gordon Brown parts his hair, but I do care that people earning decent wages can’t afford to get on the property ladder, that you can get mugged in broad daylight and get done for assaulting a robber and worst of all there is VAT on tampax. So perhaps we need to give the man with the donkey jacket a chance. Or put the whole of Oxbridge down a mine for a couple of weeks. They might not learn anything but the rest of us will get a bit of peace in cafes and the coal dust may take the shine off their teeth.


I went to Belgium last weekend. It was really good fun and I had an amazing time. I now have a love for cherry beer and Flemish (in which I am practically fluent, it’s just English in a silly accent). I went to Belgium with my flatmate and her boyfriend as a way to celebrate the end of an era. Next weekend my flatmate and I go our separate ways after living together for 3 years. Going to Belgium was a nice way to say goodbye (before we move in to separate houses about 100 yards apart) and also an excellent way to delay the hell of packing.

We have a lot of shit.

So far I have discovered 3 out of date calendars, a list of the things we decided to buy when we moved in together and 7 empty jars of marmite which I have decided to keep for some reason. We also need to separate the things which we have purchased together. This ranges from things we both want and things that I will pay good money to never see again.

One of our major jobs is to divide up our celebrity photos. When we moved in together we thought it would be fun to have various celebrities welcome us to our home. So our fictional friend (Angela Parkinson) wrote to people explaining that we were huge fans of theirs and would really appreciate a signed photo as a house warming present. Therefore when people walk in to our house they are treated to a wall of photos all signed “To Julie and Laura, Good luck in your new house, love Bob Carolgees and Spit the Dog”. Some people were thoughtful (Little and Large, Noel Edmonds) and sent a card for both of us. Others (that’s you Geoffrey Hayes) only sent one between us. I am willing to do some bargaining. Perhaps barricade Julie in her room with empty marmite jars until she agrees to give me Geoff Capes.

Our other job is the reality tv collection. It started innocently enough. A friend of mine got down to the final 50 on Australian idol and I bought the dvd so I could see her. We then became slightly intrigued and bought the other Australian idols and then American idols, then went on a mission to collect as much reality tv as possible. Thanks to this we are now the proud owners of such gems as “Little Lady Fauntleroy”, “John’s not Mad” and “Teenage Tourette Camp”. My particular favourite is Australian Princess where 10 bogans from the wilds of Australia are trained in the art of royalty by Paul Burrell.

I will probably end up getting very bored of packing and insist that she takes everything and end up having to nip round to hers everyday to steal all my stuff back. My main problem is that I become terribly sentimental about things. When my granddad died and we had to clear his house out I became dreadfully upset about any of his things going in the bin. As a result I am the proud owner of a terrifying china dog and a child’s cash register. I am hoping that I’ll be able to keep a handle on things and not end up with a house full of other people’s crap by the time I’m 50. I’ll have enough crap of my own by then.

A trip to Southend

I decided to challenge my hatred of summer by actually going outside in the sunshine. Sadly I went to Southend and developed a whole new phobia – chavs.

I was unfortunately born an Essex girl and although I was raised in Hertfordshire nothing quite scars you for life as having “Harlow” emblazoned on your passport. Still, like the Queen, I feel I can transcend class and talk to anyone. The Queen however, wears gloves and keeps the freaks behind barriers.

Southend was having a chav convention. I foolishly thought that if your child is annoying the crap out of everyone you take it to one side, have a word and threaten to have it adopted. What you’re actually meant to do is scream “Tyler- Paul, Tyler-Paul, come ‘ere or you won’t get no chips” at it whilst the aforementioned Tyler (I can not bring myself to double barrel) eats other people’s meals and savagely assaults its sister.

There was also an interesting take on fashion. The girls took body confidence to a new level with muffin tops and bingo wings on display for the world to see. They all believe they are thoroughbreds with legs like shegar, when in fact they are inbreds with legs like Babar. The in thing for boys was huge white sport socks with flip flops. I had no idea how fashion forward my vicar was. Incidentally the vicar that came to my junior school to talk to us had a wooden leg (and not an up-to-date Heather Mills esq leg, a mahogany leg). He didn’t let this prevent him wearing sandals with no socks. Certainly one way to keep a child riveted.

But yeah Southend was good. I feel I need to stop being such a snobbish bitch (although that does involve me finding a new identity). I have become slightly addicted to fruit machines and carrying a load of change around in a bucket. I shall start a late New Year resolution and start being nice. Until I meet a child called Tyler-Paul who I shall batter to death with a vicar’s wooden leg.