Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Meatballs a la Surly*

This week's recipe comes to us courtesy of Tina, and takes you, step-by-step, through the creation of succulent Italian meatballs in a rich tomato sauce. I'm sure you'll enjoy the process as much as I did..


1lb beef steak mince
½ medium sized onion (grated)
1 large clove of garlic (crushed)
4 tbsp homemade breadcrumbs
1 medium egg
1 tsp (heaped) mixed herbs
½ tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Plain flour (for coating meatballs)
Not nearly enough time
1 small, truculent child
Ambitions of culinary prowess way beyond your means
1 firm grip on your sanity


Arrive home thirty minutes later than usual as childminder has fucked off to Center Parcs for the week, leaving you in the lurch and forcing you to farm your child out on various acquaintances. Serve macaroni cheese with peas to small child, in the hope that it will distract them for long enough for you to make the meatballs and cool them in time to start cooking them.

Remind yourself that you need to put some laundry on.

Grate the onion. Make a note to self re what a horrible experience grating an onion is and vow never to do it again. Place the onion, a teaspoon of ready-crushed garlic (do I look as if I’ve got time to faff around crushing garlic?), half of the giant 800g pack of mince you bought because you didn’t read the recipe before doing your shopping, the egg and some pepper into a mixing bowl. Begin to mix with your hands.

Realise that you haven’t got any herbs out of the cupboard. Wash and dry hands, retrieve seasonings. Add to mixture and continue to blend by hand.

Realise that you haven’t got any flour out of the cupboard. Wash and dry hands, retrieve flour. Notice that the only flour in the cupboard is self-raising. Resign yourself to it and attempt to put thoughts of giant meatballs filling the kitchen, intent on suffocating all in their path, firmly out of your head.

Fetch more cranberry juice for small child. Feign interest in small sparkly amphibian naming ceremony. Return to kitchen, finish mixing ingredients. At this stage, your kitchen should look like this:

Note that every bowl, surface and utensil should be involved.

Roll the mixture into balls of about 3cm diameter. Dip in flour, coating evenly, and place in the only thing to hand which is, bizarrely, a roasting tin. At this stage, it’s recommended that you cool the meatballs in the freezer for half an hour. However, since you have placed the remainder of the giant pack of mince you bought because you didn’t read the recipe before doing your shopping in the freezer already (in anticipation of throwing it away in two weeks to make room for Christmas things) there isn’t any room. Therefore you can cool them in the fridge for an hour.

Run bath for small child. Feign interest in cutting small things into smaller pieces, all the time panicking about everything else you need to do before dinner needs to be dished up in an hour and a half. Place small child in bath, garnish with toys and leave to simmer while you attempt to make sense of the bombsite that used to be your kitchen. Do the dishes and wipe work surfaces, weeping steadily and hopelessly.

Grate the other half of the onion. Note that it is just as horrible as the first time you did it. Place the onion and more ready-crushed garlic into a pan with some vegetable oil (who the hell keeps olive oil in the cupboard? Who?) and gently cook. Add two tins of tomatoes – one quality brand, one supermarket value range. Add Worcestershire sauce, a beef oxo cube and some pepper to taste. Bring to the boil and simmer gently, all the while keeping an ear cocked for signs of trouble/sounds of small child drinking bathwater two doors down the hall.

Realise that you forgot to put the laundry on. Put the laundry on.

Mash the sauce with potato masher as value tomatoes are forming huge, cheap-looking clumps. Stir.

Stir the sauce, put the oven on at 180 degrees C, wash the small child and the small child’s hair. Remove small sulking child (who is now going to bed with no story owing to exasperating behaviour) from bath, dry and leave to stew in bedroom.

Pour ¾ sauce over meatballs. Cover tray with foil and place in the oven for 45 minutes. Stir the remaining sauce. Brush the small child’s hair and teeth, and tuck into a warm bed with a timbale of cuddly toys. Garnish with a loving cuddle, kiss and leave to sleep. Wish desperately that you could get in with them.

Stir the sauce.

Check the meatballs. Clean loo and bathroom, tidy living room and stir the sauce. Brush hair, wash face (in an attempt to remove oniony smell from grating the onion, which more sort of exploded than anything else).

Realise that you have forgotten to put water on for pasta. Put water on for pasta. Panic, and boil kettle as it will be faster. Watch in mute disbelief as kettle and water in saucepan come to the boil simultaneously.

Greet Other Half warmly, stir the sauce. Put pasta (both sorts) into smugly boiling water. Chat idly, while wondering whether the washing machine will ever finish.

Remove meatballs from oven. Transfer to pan containing remaining sauce. Stir gently, watching for moue of distaste on mouth of Other Half concerning herby smell of meatballs.

Serve meatballs on top of pasta, piping hot. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve with a hint of hysteria. Vague disquiet ensues as you feel lost with no sauce to stir.

For an exciting twist, why not add more pressure in the form of guests? In-laws in particular add a soupcon of resentment to the mix, with fragrant results.

Carry on.

* These were absolutely gorgeous (except you were right, Tina - no cumin next time)

Music was my first love......

The first single I ever owned was "Wherever I Lay My Hat" by Paul Young. I didn't strictly buy it - I got a voucher with my new pair of Clarks school shoes (brown, lace-up, thanks mother) and could choose from a list of four singles. I don't remember what the others were, but chose the Paul Young and spent the next five years totally obsessed. My first album is a little more embarrassing...iwanttodoitwithyoubybarrymanilow (hopefully that's indecipherable). Again, I blame my mother - she had "Manilow Magic" on LP and I (apparently) used to kiss the picture of the over-tanned, bouffy-haired housewives favourite when I was about five. So when I had enough birthday money saved up, I bought an album of my own. Tragic.

The last CD I bought was "Intensive Care" by Robbie Williams. In between the first and last there's a whole slew of music, ranging from Slayer to Darius. I own virtually every Black Sabbath and Deep Purple album on vinyl. I love Guns and Roses, the Beautiful South and Glen Campbell. And do you know what? I'm not ashamed of any of it*. Music is so subjective and music snobbery makes me cross.

Carry on.

* With the possible exception of "Fighting the World" by Manowar.

Monday, November 28, 2005

A Very Good Day Indeed

Despite it being Monday, today is just plain marvellous.

Today I learned that my friend's breast cancer has not recurred, as she had feared. She was first diagnosed the year before last, at the ripe old age of thirty-one. A lumpectomy, chemo and radiotherapy followed. Somewhere in the middle of all this her marriage broke down and she ended up selling the marital home and buying one of her own. Throughout this she remained stoic, and somehow managed to maintain a sense of humour (such as the ace idea of getting out of the washing up by wobbling her lower lip and proclaiming in a tremulous voice "but I've got cancer"..). Of course there were periods of depression and I can't imagine what it must have been like for her, but her relentless stubborn streak kicked in and she simply got her head down and got on with it. And she was one of the lucky ones - she had her follow-up mammogram a couple of months ago and was given the all-clear. And then, a fortnight ago, she found another lump in the same breast. She had an oncology appointment last Wednesday, an ultrasound last Thursday, and an MRI scan on Friday. This weekend has been spent anxiously awaiting the results which were due today.

I received a message this afternoon telling me what I hadn't dared to hope for - that it's more than likely scar tissue from her original operation. A mammogram tomorrow will confirm this, and my courageous, beautiful, funny, grumpy loose cannon of a friend, who has been in my life since we were eleven, can get on with living. I know how lucky I am to be posting this. I know so many people don't get a second chance, and I hope the outlook is clear for her. I wish it could be that way for everyone.

If you do one thing today, check your norks, ladies*. Or get a friend to do it for you......

Carry on.

* Boys - you get to feel your balls instead. Like you haven't already done that fifteen times today.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Just plain random

I can't sing "The Unforgettable Fire" by U2 in my head. Whenever I get to the bit just before Bono starts whining about walking on by and walking on through, it segues into the instrumental bit from Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" just before he shouts "three four!" and bangs on a bit more about whatever the hell Born to Run is about.

I don't know why this should bother me, but it does.

Carry on.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Random acts of kindness

It's Star Time at Small Person's school this afternoon. It's actually a really nice idea - there are awards for all sorts of things, and they always make sure the less academically-minded kids are rewarded for the things they excel at. There's a random half-sung, half-shouted song, and the kids are then called up one by one for Mrs Wilkes to big up in her modulated yet steely tones (I am scared of Mrs Wilkes. She makes me fidget, which makes me convinced that I'm going to get sent out).

The Other Half is unable to attend this afternoon's glittering ceremony, so Kellycat will be attending again. Last time, we sat open-mouthed in astonishment (and soon after dissolved into helpless giggles - that assembly thing never really leaves you) as Small Person (who is five) proudly received her prize for her "painting of a train in the style of Turner". Kellycat emailed me this morning to ask if she could attend:

>>Can I still come to Star Time and if so what time?

I want to see if Small Person has won a prize for writing about what she did in the holidays in the style of Proust.<<

She is much funnier than me. Bah.

In other news, is it very wrong to have instigated an office George Best Sweepstake? The smart money's on ten past one this afternoon.

Carry on.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Um, anyone?

I was going to post a rant about my doctors-apppointment-that-wasn't this morning and the abject stupidity of doctor's receptionists, who on the one hand can haughtily diagnose you over the phone and offer you an appointment three weeks next Wednesday on the basis that they don't think you're ill enough, but on the other hand, when asked a simple, unambiguous question completely fail to tell you you need to go somewhere else for that and instead book you in with a doctor who is unpleasant and sneers at you that "we don't do that here. why have you come to see me?"....*breathes*....but I didn't think you'd be interested.

So instead I will simply record my mild panic at the prospect of spending time with my new boss so that he can "find out what I do on a daily basis". We're scheduled in from 10.30 until four pm. WTF? I'm not sure he's going to be receptive to the news that I surf the internet for a living, so I'll be using all your lovely management speak to throw him off the scent.

"Honestly, New Boss, I'd love to pinpoint how I maximise my available worktimeframespatialwindow, but it's like nailing jelly to the wall".

Carry on.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Pushing the envelope*

I had a meeting this morning. I have this meeting every week. It goes on for three hours, and achieves precisely nothing. The same people attend every week and mouth the same platitudes. The marketing department say of course, they'll get right on it. The field team say yup, scheduled that in for next week. The sales team (office based) suggest some figures. Everyone agrees, yet nothing ever actually happens. I say nothing, as has become my method of choice over the last two years. That way, I end up with a maximum of two action points to hedge about and pretend to have followed up the following week.

The sheer futility of it all has sent me scurrying for the calculator (it's that sort of a day). With annual leave and bank holidays, plus the odd sick day I reckon I work an average of forty-seven weeks a year. With the meeting lasting three hours a week, and 34.8 years left until I retire (assuming the pension age is raised to sixty-seven, as has been mooted this week), and factoring in the 423 hours I've already wasted over the last two years, I estimate that I've got another seven and a half months to get through in the boardroom; pushing my agenda around, chewing my nails and thinking about shoes, before I retire.

Frankly I'd rather do it all at once. We wouldn't achieve any more, but at least we could all cross it off our task lists and do something constructive.

Carry on.

* I detest this phrase. Along with "thinking outside the box", "singing from the same hymn sheet" and "touching base". Fucking management speak.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

They just use your mind

Then they never give you credit......

Today I am actually earning my salary, and to be honest I rather resent the intrusion. I mean, when am I supposed to find the time to visit all my favourite blogs and leave witty*, erudite** comments? So instead of endowing your comments boxes with the warm glow you get when my name pops up, I am instead struggling with budgets, spreadsheets and Very Hard Sums. Bah.

In other news, the Ex has been away for a week and a half now and hasn't bothered to call Small Person. She is weepy and fragile and I could cheerfully kill him with my bare hands. He's only halfway through his trip and I am at a loss as to how best to comfort her. I'm not sure that whispering "there there, Daddy's an unfeeling tightwad who, in addition to having a tenuous grip on the concept of personal hygiene, is feigning indifference to your feelings as it might cost him some money to contact you" in a soothing voice will necessarily help. Poor lambkin.

Carry on.

* Wit is not guaranteed
** Neither is erudition

Monday, November 21, 2005

Doors to manual....

Oh. My. Goodness. How mortified would you be if this happened to you? Poor woman. I think the reason this provokes horrified laughter in me is that it's exactly the sort of thing that is likely to happen to me one day. Afraid of flying? Check. Booze to numb the fear? Check. History of sleepwalking? Check.

If you ever see a dishevelled, fast-asleep Surly Girl shambling towards the emergency exit of a plane muttering about "who's knocking at this time of night?" please, do us all a favour and stick your foot out.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

In the middle of our street

The second door in from the right of the picture is our front door. To the right of that is our kitchen bay window. We took the Other Half's mum and dad for a poke round the show house today and, while they thoroughly approved of our choice, it felt very odd. The house the Other Half has just sold was his marital home for thirteen years of his seventeen year marriage. Although his parents have known of my existence for some months now, it felt rather odd for us to be showing them round an example of our future home. But ooh, what a beautiful house it's going to be. I never dreamed I'd live somewhere like this - a three storey house where the entire top floor is given over to the "master suite". I know I'd never be able to realise this dream without the Other Half, and I can't help but recall some of the places I've lived on the road to my dream home. I know I'm not alone in this - we've all lived in some proper shitholes, and some of them were even fun....

I grew up in a four-bedroom detached house in suburban, posh Essex. The village was the stereotypical hotbed of alcoholism, wife-swapping and East-End-wideboys-done-good, and I was delighted when my parents moved to Kent when I was sixteen and informed me that I wouldn't be joining them. I moved in with my boyfriend and his parents, and thanked them for their hospitality by sleeping with an acquaintance of my boyfriend. His parents, understandably, kicked me out and I spent the next couple of years living with a violent, psychopathic disaster area. I escaped at nineteen, five weeks before our wedding, and moved to Harlow in deepest Essex to live with a ginger-haired, football-obsessed Mummy's boy. He proposed to me on New Year's Eve of 1993 and I left him in March of 1994 (I didn't really fancy spending the rest of my life cleaning up after him and giving periodic houseroom to his drunken, Scots-pikey parents. Or his seven brothers and sisters and their various children). I moved back to my home town of Chelmsford, Essex and spent the next three years in blissful, pissed-and-stoned oblivion. The Chelmo years warrant a post of their own (as do the at-home years) - suffice to say they involved beer, bikes, drugs, random shags, rather odd parties, some of the best friends I'll ever have and a variety of rundown bedsits. I lived in a house-share where every time someone ran a bath the water would cascade down the wall by the front door. The heating was on between nine and ten am, and four and six pm. When I moved in I spent my first night packing the window frames with newspaper and sellotape, and my curtains were still horizontal on a breezy night. When I moved out of there I spent six weeks on a friend's floor, trying not to mind that she was fucking my boyfriend. I used to ferry him around so he could do his drug deals, and he would borrow my Z650 to "sort out some business" about three times a week which mostly involved him shagging some ginger bird from the pub. We bought a lorry and spent three months or so living in it, during which I laboured under the vastly mistaken illusion that we would travel to India in it. I lost a great deal of money and gained a whole lot of common sense. I subsequently met the Ex and spent seven lost years living in a house I hated with a man I loathed. The past year has, as noted on this blog, been spent battling random noisy neighbours in my rented flat. I am now proficient in Banging On The Wall and Polite Letters of Complaint.

Our new house is, beyond any doubt, beautiful. That aside, I know that the three of us can live there in peace. It's a glittering jewel in our future - somewhere we can all settle and live as the family I never thought I'd have. I know I stole the Other Half from his ex-wife (you've seen the picture - can you blame me?!) and I know I've taken Small Person out of the traditional family dynamic. I hold my hands up as far as that's concerned. Me and her Dad hated each other. These days she lives in an environment of fun, cuddles and laughter, both here and there. She'll always have time with her Dad and I'll do all I can to maximise their relationship.

But I also know that I've never, ever been happier.

Carry on.

Friday, November 18, 2005


It's a little-known fact (except among everyone I've told) but I'm related to the Beverley Sisters. They were my Nanny's second cousins, once removed, or something. I've got Gyles Brandreth's autograph. Richard O'Brien (of Rocky Horror and Crystal Maze fame) once said hello to me in the foyer of the Civic theatre in Chelmsford. Frank Bruno once told Kellycat to "mind that dogshit". We've all got them - lame, random claims to fame. And now there's somewhere you can go to brag about them - the Lame Claim to Fame site. So, what are you waiting for? Head on over and tell everyone about that time Roy Hudd pushed in front of your mum in the post office queue and your dad punched him in the face and called him an "unfunny wanker". Or when Cheryl Baker was sick on your shoe outside Highwire in Harlow on two-breezers-for-a-pound night. You know you want to.

In other news, I heard "Young at Heart" by the Bluebells on the crap local radio station I am forced to listen to during my phototherapy treatment this morning, and it reminded me how much I loathe it, and others of its ilk. You know the ones - the end-of-the-wedding-reception ones* where the DJ turns up the volume on "Come on Eileen" to drown out the sound of Mad Uncle Alan and Auntie Jean having a knock-down drag-out fight in the corner over that time in 1978 when he "looked at her next door's boobs" during Ken and Sandy's fifteenth anniversary party, and hordes of middle aged people take to the four-foot-square patch of slippery laminate flooring in the middle of the room in order to throw themselves around as if their lives depended on it. Bah.

Carry on.

* See also "Hi-Ho Silver Lining", "YMCA" and, invariably and hideously, "Blame it on the Boogie"

Thursday, November 17, 2005

It's Somebody's Special Day....

I know you'll all join me today in wishing the Other Half a very happy birthday indeed. I'm fairly sure he knows by now how much he means to me, and to Small Person. If you'd told either of us this time last year that this is where we'd be now I don't think either of us would have believed you. It's been one hell of a year, but in its own way it's been a good one, on the whole. Today is a strange sort of celebration - although we're obviously delighted to be where we are and are looking forward to the future, the Other Half can't help but compare with where he was and what was happening this time last year.

Still, hopefully the pressies and the handmade card from Small Person have gone some way towards cheering him up. I couldn't possibly tell you which one he liked the best *coughs*McFly CD *coughs*, or how old he is*. Anyway hon, happy birthday to you. I love you loads, you daft old git.

* Clue: it's more than thirty-eight, but less than forty.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Today did not start well. Would anyone like to know what time Stephen Hawking's telly woke me up this morning? Anyone?


Bastard. Bastard bastard bastardy fucking bastardy bastard.

I hammered on the wall with a shoe. I wrote a stern note expressing my displeasure. I hammered on the wall with a book. I put my dressing-gown on with the intention of stalking across the landing, tucking my note behind his doorbell and hammering on his front door. He switched his telly off, thus deflating my righteous indignation by doing exactly what I wanted him to do - shutting the fuck up.


And I heard Will Young's song again yesterday and I still don't get it. Is it "Hey Mona"? Is it an Adam Ant pastiche? Is it simply a bit rubbish?

Carry on.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Always on my mind

Following on from a post the other day about the random worries that fill my head, may I present the transcript of an email I sent to the Other Half last week. It was triggered by a simple enquiry as to whether I'd got my head round buying the house. Um, apparently not....

>>It's just scary, that's all. What if it all goes wrong? What if we move in and it's rubbish? What if 35 failed asylum seekers move in next door, having chipped in six grand each? What if poor people move into the flats at the back and have noisy parties and throw dirty nappies over the fence? What if people steal our parking space and park in front of our garage and in front of our house? What if the sofa won't fit? What if the roof leaks? What if there are monsters in the upstairs cubby? What if you hate me after 6 weeks? What if you die? What if I die? What if it blows up, burns down or floods out? What if we get burgled? What if we tread mud all over the living room carpet? What if we can't afford any curtains and have to sleep with no curtains and i can't sleep as i can't sleep in a room with no curtains? What if we can't afford to go out ever again? Or eat? Or go on holiday? Or buy shoes? What if Small Person hates it? What if the Ex comes round in the middle of the night and pours petrol through the letterbox and roasts us and all our neighbours? What if the neighbours hate us? What if we hate them? What if????<<

Okaaaay...and relax. Clearly I still have some adjusting to do. Whatever.

Ooh, and can everyone pop over to Funny Thing's place and help her out with a name for her business venture? Ta.

Monday, November 14, 2005


There is nothing worse* than a Monday morning which, the school run aside (five to bloody nine they opened the door this morning. I can feel a strongly worded letter to the headmistress coming on), finds you in too much of a hurry to check first and therefore causes you to end up sitting in someone else's wee. Whoever these people are - the seat-wee-ers, the poo-spreaders, the non-flushers - please reveal yourselves so that I never inadvertently come to your house for dinner. If those toilet habits are acceptable to you, I dread to think what your kitchen looks like.

Carry on.

* Except swimming pool changing room floors. Or tying wet shoelaces. Or other people's feet. Or being in a lift and being able to smell someone's unwashed hair. Or the thought of hotel mattresses. Or dirty cutlery. Or finding a hair in your dinner. Or a toenail on the bottom of your bag (see swimming pool changing room floors).

Friday, November 11, 2005

Why beer = bad....

The last thing the Other Half said to me before we left the flat last night was "don't let me take my clothes off tonight". He also stated categorically that he wasn't going to sing.

Cut to two and a half hours later. We've screeched, wailed and shouted through most of the karaoke songbook. Me and him have wowed the (largely indifferent, admittedly) crowd with a strangled rendition of "Since You've Been Gone" by the mighty Rainbow. The Other Half, between pestering anyone who'll listen to get up and sing with him, has taken to dancing around with his t-shirt pulled up, showing frightened colleagues his belly and intermittently stroking his nipples. Bless him.

To say that mine and GBF's take on "Best of You" by the Foo Fighters was, ahem, experimental to say the least is something of an understatement. We didn't so much murder it as stab it to death, dismember it, put the bits into bin bags and throw them in the canal. Fortunately the microphones weren't switched on. Apparently. Who knew?

A top night out. Carry on.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Empty-Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Pub

I am not at all confident that the title of this post is spelled correctly.

We had a lovely lunch today with the Other Half's mum and dad. We tucked into chicken in mushroom sauce, with mashed potatoes and peas (and the braver among us had other vegetables although not the Other Half as, if it's not a pea, he won't go near it), and OH's mum told us all about how the bull on the farm they stayed near in Dorset is going to be killed and burned as he "can't do the business" any more. There then followed a lively discussion on bull semen, what might be done to improve the quality (the Other Half suggested it might be a bit cold outside for that sort of thing) and whether the other bulls might laugh at the poor infertile one. And then OH's mum did an impression of a bull doing what bulls do. Which was sort of reminiscent of the diner scene in When Harry Met Sally and a little discomfiting, to say the least.

In other news, it's karaoke time tonight. What do you think I/we should sing?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Not much to tell, really.

The poxy police helicopters circled over my part of town for an hour last night. An hour. Christ, on "Police, Camera, Action" it only ever takes them five minutes to locate the suspect hiding in some old git's wheely bin, point him out to the lads on the ground and then fly off sharpish before they inadvertently capture video evidence of the beating the gormless fugitive customarily receives at this point. So what on earth were two helicopters (one loud whompy one, one small whiny one) doing out there for an hour last night while I was trying to watch the telly?? On the stroke of eleven they magically disappeared back to base, leaving me to draw my own conclusions as to the nature of their "mission". Sightseeing? Pleasure flights for the local Scout troop? Justifying the fuel budget? Noisy bastards.

Oh, and we got hold of some tickets to see Robbie at Wembley next year.

Oh, and we bought a house today.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Born to be Mild

In my younger days, I attended a fair few bike rallies. It was a familiar pattern - turn up, open a beer, open another one, smoke a spliff, open another beer, give up attempting to pitch the tent, head for the bar, drink, dance, laugh, drink, smoke, play silly games, drink, sit by the bonfire and sing songs, give up attempting to recall where you had given up pitching the tent, sleep by the bonfire, wake up cold, confused and hungover, ride bike home in a slow, ponderous fashion, sleep. Occasionally there would be even sillier games (dizzy sticks, the eating competition (in which a friend of mine triumphed on one memorable occasion by eating dry weetabix followed by lard, cockles and three giant spoons of golden syrup before heroically throwing up all over the bloke next to him), egg roulette, plank skiing), or a go on the wussy board (a square of wood tied to the back end of someone's bike - said bike would then be hammered round the field at 40+ mph while a hapless, stoned individual clung onto the rope for dear life and tried not to fall off the board). The diverting presence of Rally Virgins always piqued the imaginations of those who had attended before. If it was your first rally (no matter where you were, or who you knew) you'd do well to keep quiet and bribe your friends to do the same or it invariably ended in tears. I got off lightly - my boots ended up suspended from the rugby posts and I was drenched in cold filthy water the minute I changed into my remaining clean clothes. I have friends who have variously had their clothes stolen and burned, been forced into drinking contests (in which they were the only participant) or even been tied to marquee posts with flaming rolls of newspaper wedged into the cleft of their arse. I took a friend to a rally one year - it was a Hallowe'en one and it was his first time. He forgot the protocol and finished the evening jumping through the bonfire, dressed only in his socks and a pointy witches hat.

Of course a lot of the things that occurred at rallies were downright dangerous. The Ex once wrote off a friend's brand new bike - a very helpful friend who, on noticing that an extremely intoxicated Ex had erroneously fitted the ignition keys into the petrol cap (he had generously permitted the Ex to have a go round the rugby field), placed them into the ignition slot and sent them on their way. Witnesses report seeing the rear light flip end over end at least twice. Neither the Ex nor his pillion passenger split a drop of their cider. There were acid casualties, dancing injuries and no end of people who'd had one too many space cakes. One year the Rugby Club barman got so drunk during the silly games that he was unable to serve for the rest of the day, so we served ourselves that night. On a much more serious note, a good friend of mine was killed three years ago, popping home on a Saturday morning to see his fiancee and baby son. He was arguably over the limit and it gave a lot of people a very nasty shock. But somehow it seemed fitting for him. If that sounds crap I don't know how else to articulate it. The Hippy was a vibrant, party-loving all-round nice guy. He was far too young to die but you take your chances in life and he was never one to settle for a quiet life. His funeral was amazing - a Triumph Speed Triple with a hearse-sidecar carried him at the head of a procession of hundreds and hundreds of bikes through his hometown. When another friend had died of cancer two years previously, a member of the Hells Angels rode his missus behind the hearse on his beloved Harley. It's a weird sort of camaraderie in the biker world, but one I'm very glad I was part of for a while.

As with any activity that produces a "club" culture, politics invariably creep in. The bike club I was part of suddenly became very righteous; any female members were refused renewal of their membership on the basis that only the men could "run" the club. Leather waistocats with the club "colours" appeared (all MCC's in the UK are carefully vetted (or at least always used to be) by the Angels to ensure that their patches weren't copied in any way, down to the colours and any mottos). The club now had a "President", a "Secretary", assorted other henchmen and a fierce coterie of girlfriends protecting them. My friends and I began to lose interest. The last rally I attended with the old club was about ten years ago, at a pub just outside my home town. There was a bike show, a barbecue, and bands in the evening. The bike show was laughably pompous - lots of earnest "biker" handshaking and manly hugs, and the snakebite was rendering myself and my friends dangerously giggly. We were sitting at tables outside the back door of the pub. Directly in front of us was a large bouncy castle, and the first row of tents was in a regimented line alongside. As the club president's girlfriend (who took the whole thing very, very seriously and who hadn't cracked a smile all day) made her way between the inflatable and the campsite (a pathway only two feet wide), the ceremony concluded and eight to ten burly, half-pissed blokes leaped at the bouncy castle with a roar. They all ended up hitting the left hand side at the same time, and the look of astonishment on the face of El Presidente's missus as she was catapulted six feet into the air before landing unceremoniously on her arse in the middle of somebody's tent was almost worth being kicked off site and missing the barbie owing to our prolonged, shrieking hysterics and inability to get up off the floor.

Happy days.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Surly Sorts it Out

From the magazine that this week brought us the story of a fifty year-old woman who hid prawns in her bridal bouquet so that her cat could give her away (and who spent her honeymoon on a sheep farm to appease her sheep-obsessed (her words) husband), I thought we could turn our attention to the problem page. It was a difficult decision as this week's poem was fabulously, excruciatingly lumpen but other people's weird concerns are always going to win.

Dear Surly,

I've found women's knickers hidden in my husband's underwear drawer. They're all new, the same make and in a large size so I'm assuming he's bought them rather than stolen them. Is this some new kink I should know about?

Beryl, 50, Rotherham


I find it interesting that you need to write to a magazine in order to establish whether or not your husband's predilection for gert big knickers is a "new kink". Are you perhaps under the impression that middle-aged men up and down the country are, to a man, popping unconcernedly into Marks and Spencers of a lunchtime and stocking up on giant, inappropriate pants? Is your husband so far up the whispering-neighbour scale that your only concern is that, in addition to helping him powder up his gimp mask and slip into a giant babygro, you're now going to be expected to spend half your life laundering his expansive underwear? Get a grip, woman. For crying out loud, if you were a bit more enthusiastic in the sack he probably wouldn't need to get his jollies parading around in monstrous thongs. Grit your teeth, give the man a blowjob and pray that your lack of inspiration in the bedroom department hasn't driven him away for good. And dust your skirting boards, they're a fucking disgrace.

Dear Surly,

My boyfriend and I enjoy anal sex, but I'm worried about catching a sexually transmitted infection. We're not using condoms at the moment because we're trying for a baby. Can you advise me if this is safe?

Sarah, 24, Cardiff

Sarah. Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. Your letter is wrong on so many levels I'm not sure where to begin. Let's break this down, shall we?

1) If you think your boyfriend is going to pass on an STI I'm not sure you should be letting him stick it anywhere, let alone up your arse. Seriously Sarah, if you think letting him in the back door is going to stop him shagging that slapper from the chippy you're more deluded than I first thought. Wake up, woman.

2) If you're trying for a baby, maybe your front entrance would be a better bet, at least from a conception point of view? Do you really want to have a conversation in eighteen years time in which you have to tell a horrified, weeping teenager that they were conceived in a bizarre reversal of the universally recognised "not THERE!!!!" scenario in which your old man inadvertently popped his cock into your idea of the "wrong hole"?

3) If you thought I was going to say that anal sex is actually illegal and that your boyfriend is facing a substantial prison term (in which he could see what it was like to be on the receiving end of a good old-fashioned buttfucking. I bet he wouldn't be so keen after that, would he?) in the hope that you could stop him sidling up behind you and whispering a request for some "special loving" you've come to the wrong place*, I'm afraid.

So what have we learned, Sarah? Well, we've learned that if you hadn't been such a slut in the first place, you wouldn't be in this mess now. You've made your bed - I'm afraid you're going to have to lie in it. Face down.

Does anyone out there have a problem I can help with? Ask away. I think I may have found my vocation.

* The actual response to this letter included a suggestion that if Sarah "wants" to continue this practice, she should get her boyfriend to "wear a condom when at the back and to remove it before entering at the front". Who said romance was dead?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Pass the crossbow...it is Time.

In town, at lunchtime, I saw the following:

>Two smackies in Woolworths. He had no teeth and a swallow tattooed on his neck. She had no teeth, white eyeshadow and a bright pink scarf tied round her head. They were emaciated, with the requisite dead, soulless eyes. They were looking at a games console - presumably the dole pays rather well these days.

>A middle-aged woman and a twelve year-old girl chatting while walking down the centre of the pedestrian thoroughfare. The woman was wearing a black, floor-length ballgown and pink shoes, and was carrying a WH Smith carrier bag. The girl seemed unfazed by this.

>A pasty-faced, blank-eyed girl with an enormous gold clown pendant dangling round her grimy neck. Her pasty-faced child was listlessly sucking milk from a grubby bottle while viewing passers by with total apathy.

>A huffing, muttering, scowling woman in her early thirties (Garfer will doubtless be able to tell you exactly how old) weaving through Superdrug in a frenzy of futile annoyance as various old ladies, shuffling teenagers and halfwitted shop assistants conspired to block her path at every turn like a live-action, deeply infuriating game of Pacman.

Oh, hang on. That last one was me.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Season's Greetings

May I be the first to wish you a very merry christmas.....

Proper post tomorrow night, promise. Exciting things afoot and my concentration is shot this week.

Carry on.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Can you tell what it is yet?

Speaking of cocks, much hilarity has ensued today with the arrival of an email from a customer. He has kindly pointed out that the mailshot which has recently gone out to, ooh, thousands and thousands of people, contains a picture that on first glance merely shows a lovely bikini-clad lady floating lazily in an azure swimming pool. It's designed to evoke warm, dreamy memories of holidays past and prod reluctant bookers into picking up the phone and securing a piece of that for themselves. Regrettably, as this customer felt compelled to tell our Marketing Department, the play of sunlight on water and skin has conspired to furnish the hapless swimmer with a giant cock. And I mean giant. Seriously - it's down to her knees. Her knees. It's eerily anatomically correct and it has the effect on the eye of a magic eye picture - once you've seen it you can't not see it; rearing up out of the water at you like a massive, turgid, rampaging monster.

Ahem. Carry on.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Nothing to see here.

Today I have been mostly tired, deaf and busy (busy! me! imagine....) so it's time for the traditional send-you-somewhere-else-for-your-entertainment trick. Motorhead were very, very loud indeed last night and technically I should have had a brilliant time. However, I was in a very bad mood (my new boss is, regrettably, a cock) and the jobsworth bouncers and man I shouted at did nothing to cheer me up. I wanted to leave but was persuaded to stay, and I did get a kebab afterwards so it wasn't all bad. And today was fabulously exciting (no, honestly, it was. But I'm not going to say it out loud as I don't want to jinx it) so I am much happier but still not together enough to make any sense.

So, in lieu of anything remotely sane/funny/interesting to say, I'd like to direct you here. If you can get through it without snorting bogeys out of your nose you're a better man than I.


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