Friday, June 30, 2006


The following exchange took place in the office today:

But Canada’s in America, isn’t it?

No. Canada is a separate country.

Fuck off. It’s in America!

No it isn’t. It’s a totally separate place.

But I went to America on holiday, and we went to Canada. It was just over a bridge.

Yes, but it’s a different country.

It isn’t.

Yes, it is.
(Verified by various other incredulous people).

Seriously? I did have to show my passport. Maybe that’s why.


They speak American though, don’t they?

The same girl then turned to a colleague who had just walked in and said “apparently Canada isn’t in America! Did you know that?”

Makes you fear for the gene pool, doesn’t it?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Windmills of my mind, part the millionth

It's a recurring theme. My mind, ironically, drives me mental.

So I'm driving Small Person over to Grandma's, where she sleeps on a Wednesday night so the the Ex can go to Land Rover Club *nods off*. It's one of the nights he fought over when we thrashed out the custody agreement. I've suggested that, since he doesn't see her at all on a Wednesday night, maybe she could stay at home but no. Anyway, that's not what I wanted to say at all.

We're driving down the bypass, listening to Chris Evans on Radio 2. We totally love Chris Evans. Proper, old-school deejaying without the sycophantic whooping of eighties-throwback Steve Wright and his "posse" (note to Steve Wright: move on. Seriously. You've been making a career out of having nothing to say for fucking years. Stop it). The next record on is "I Want You to Want Me" by Cheap Trick. And my mind was off.

I have a vague recollection of a cover version of that song. It was in the late eighties or early nineties. It was recorded (I'm convinced) by the hapless duo of Lance (tall, warty, borderline candidate for a padded helmet and seat on the special bus) and Martin (mullet, horrid shorts, unlikely playboy) off of Home and Away (turgid, endless Australian soap where nothing much/hideous-far-reaching-disaster happened on a fairly regular basis). I am convinced that I had said cover version on a compilation CD at some point. So when I got home I googled it. Nothing. So now I don't know whether a) Lance and Martin liked the song in Home and Away, and a totally unrelated person/persons recorded it and the two are somehow connected in my mind or b) I have dreamed the whole thing.

The worst part is that I really, really care. I need to know. I can't find out and it's driving me up the wall. And that, sadly, makes me a total fucking mentalist.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Girls, the Trouble With

According to this article, fat, repellent soap-dodger Rik Waller is having difficulty finding a girlfriend because of his “fame”. Grubby sweatbox Rik (who didn’t win Pop Idol in 2001. 2001!!) is concerned that it’s really hard for him to “meet someone genuine who isn’t interested in me for my success”.

Rik. Rik, Rik, Rik. Let’s face the music, shall we (but let’s not dance – your heart might not stand the strain). It’s not your fame that’s preventing you from finding a lovely girl to spend your life with. You haven’t been famous since you were thrown out of ITV’s Celebrity Fit Club two years ago, for crying during the hundred metres race and refusing to stop eating chips. It’s not even your weight – there are plenty of man-mountains out there who are in happy, fulfilling relationships. I would suggest that the problem with your personal life stems more from an apparent aversion to soap, along with the petulant personality of a four-year-old who’s just been told to share his Lego, and delusions of grandeur that would have Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen feeling embarrassed for you.

I’ll never forget, Rik, the interview conducted with you when you crashed out of Pop Idol owing to a poorly throat. As you were ill, the production team came to chat with you over a cup of tea in your Mum’s kitchen. I presume you and Ma Waller knew of this visit in advance – did you not think to give the place a quick going-over with a J-Cloth? The image of you standing there, next to the white Argos kettle now covered in an off-brown film of deep-fat-fryer and Rothmans, is burned on my brain.

You are second only to Daniel “I sleep in a ditch, me” Bedingfield in the people-who-are-or-were-inexplicably-famous-despite-looking-grubby-and-as-if-they-never-wash-their-clothes stakes. Your demeanour is sweaty. You look to me as if you smell like the inside of an empty corned beef tin, with a hint of damp towel. And still you trouble the press with stories of unfulfilled romantic desires, of the perils of fame….of your conviction that the trouble with girls is their lack of morals rather than their sense of smell and preference for a man who might have changed his trousers in the last month (they always look like they’ll do another wear, don’t they Rik? But if you gots to sniff them to check, they really ought to go in the laundry).

Your stoicism in the face of public indifference is to be applauded. Your assertion that the innocence of girls you might meet via the glossy filter of the internet will swiftly turn to fame-hungry, tabloid-fuelled lust once they realise that you are, indeed, “the” Rik Waller is so deluded it’s almost fabulous.

Rik, I salute you!

Now bugger off and have a wash. Please. And take Bedingfield with you.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The force is strong in this one....

For a horrible moment there I thought my celebrity-killing powers had struck again.

It’s happened before, you know. In 1996 I was responsible for the death of Phyllis Pearce off of Coronation Street. We had a game of Celebrity Deaders running – for a quid each you chose a famous person and if they died you claimed the pot. I had Mother Teresa for ages, until, on the fateful night in question, I abruptly changed my pick to poor old Phyllis. She dropped dead the next morning*. I also killed George Best** by having a sweepstake on what time he would actually pop off. Naturally, the time I picked was the actual time of death. If only I could use my powers for good.

The reason I mention this now is that my traffic had an unexpected spike last night from people searching for “Frosties boy hanging”/”Frosties advert suicide” and various permutations thereof. You may remember that I offered my personal opinion of the smug little tosser a couple of weeks ago. Oh lord, I thought. I’ve done it again.

So, can anyone confirm or deny? Is the Frosties boy dead***? Was he terminally ill and got the gig based on his Dad working for the ad agency? Did he hang himself after everyone in the western world with internet access started a blog for the express purpose of expressing their utter contempt for his overblown stage school delivery and slightly Vanilla-Ice-ish “rap” gestures****? Is it all an elaborate hoax?

And, more to the point, does anyone care?

* Although this was a sad thing, it did net me seventeen quid. Result!

** It probably wasn’t all my fault, but still.

*** Please don’t let him really be dead

**** Word

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Perks of the job

On Wednesday and Friday lunchtimes, the company provides a bus into town.

This is described as a “perk”. It isn’t. Well I mean it is, in terms of free transport into town, but it isn’t in terms of, say, having a pay rise instead, or a pay rise*. The bus provided usually looks as if it has spent the last thirty years or so transporting rowdy pensioners to and from the incontinence clinic. The seats are torn, the windows are smeared and dirty and the suspension is shot to pieces. The whole thing smells faintly of kagoules and wee. It is driven by either the mad lady bus driver from South Park, or Les. Les is a maniac, and thinks nothing of hurtling down a bus lane before swerving violently into oncoming traffic. He spends the forty five minutes between dropping us off and taking us back to work asleep on the back seat of the bus and has startled more than one person by rising, corpselike, from behind a row of seats in a rather abrupt manner.

So anyway. That’s the bus. It’s also rather small (a demi-bus?) which leads me to the point of my story. GBF and I were last on the bus this lunchtime, and by the time we got there no double seats were available. GBF was ok, as he bagged a spare seat next to a friend. My options were rather more limited.

I spent the ten minute journey into town perched uncomfortably next to the grey, anonymous man from the planning department. We are not close personal friends, and he was as unhappy with the arrangement as I was. There is something deeply, horribly discomfiting about feeling the warmth of a colleague’s thigh seeping through your trouser leg**.

* I need a pay rise. I am unlikely to get one. Bah.

** Unless it belong to the Other Half. I rather enjoy it then.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The stuff of nightmares

I’m not very good at sleeping, even when I’m asleep.

For about the last ten years I’ve had weird episodes of sleep paralysis. Anyone who has experienced this will know how downright scary it can be. I know the triggers – if I fall asleep in any position bar lying on my right side I will invariably wake up after about ten minutes, totally paralysed and covered in goosebumps, with a huge rushing noise in my head. I’ve read up on it a bit, and was relieved to learn that auditory or visual hallucinations are a normal part of an episode*. I was particularly relieved after yesterday afternoon’s ill-advised snooze on the sofa.

Small Person was out in the garden. She’d had her lunch, and was whiling away a happy half-hour punishing her toys in the sunshine (they don’t always do as they’re told, you know, particularly Zebra, who is an aberration away from an ASBO, as far as I can tell). I was knackered yesterday, owing to being particularly stupid and getting up at 6am (6am!! On a Sunday!!) to go for a run (a run!!). So there I was, reading my cheerful book about early twentieth century conditions inside US state mental hospitals and wondering idly when the Other Half might be home. I must have nodded off, because the next thing I knew, everything had gone all Altered States and through a fog of static and whooshy noises I heard the front door open and the Other Half come into the living room. Now, the thing with sleep paralysis is that it’s pretty much eponymous. You literally can’t move a muscle. I tend to start with trying to get my eyes to open, and then my toes, then arms etc. It seems to take an age, and is more than a little bit frightening. So I went through the routine, forced my eyes open and there was nobody there. I was freezing cold, rippling with goosebumps and more than a little bit freaked out. There, I told myself, you’ve learned another lesson there. Don’t sleep on your back or left hand side and it won’t happen.

So when we went to bed I lay on my left side to give the Other Half a cuddle, promptly fell asleep and the whole bloody thing happened again. D’oh.

Sleeping, eh? What’s that all about?

* I am luckier**, however, than both Chloe Davies from the fourth year who jumped out of her bedroom window in the middle of the night and broke both legs (concrete patios not being the most forgiving of surfaces), and a nameless acquaintance who is in the habit of attempting to strangle her husband in the wee small hours.

** I’d quite like to be that woman who makes toasted sandwiches in the middle of the night though, and says that’s why her diets don’t work. Honest, she’s asleep and everything*** and can’t help it.

*** As in “has her eyes closed, and is working from the plan of the inside of the fridge that she memorises each night before bed”.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Today: a summary

  • It was really hot before, but now it's gone a bit hazy. This makes me feel slightly better about not being able to take Small Person to the beach as I had planned this afternoon (before she upped the Parental Guilt stakes by breaking her arm and cunningly failing to display any symptoms for two days)
  • My neighbours have finally shut up for ten minutes. Presumably all the shrieking, shouting, thumping, having-a-squealy-protracted-water-fight and droning-along-to-folk-songs has rendered them exhausted. I fear only that they are regrouping, and will spend the evening hitting saucepans with spoons until I snap and rampage through their house, hitting them with spoons and shoving saucepans up their inconsiderate arses. Fuckers.
  • The Other Half is in Dover for the day, working. I am bored and resentful. Actually, thinking about it, bored and resentful is my default setting so I should amend that to bored, resentful and bitter. There.
  • I'm thinking about having another tattoo. Obviously, I'm not getting any more tattoos but the Other Half is booked in for his next one in a couple of weeks and I'm jealous. This concerns me, as maybe my mother was right all along - if everyone else jumped off a cliff maybe I would jump after them.
  • Small Person and I are going to tea at the Other Half's parents' house, with the rest of his family. This is the first time he hasn't accompanied us and I have slightly paranoid visions of them all ganging up on me and demanding to know the truth about how we got together.
  • I'm hungry.
  • My neighbours have resumed shrieking. Fucking, fucking fuckers. I am not to be trusted living among people. My ideal location would be a deserted island somewhere hot, with a handpicked group of people who would be permitted to visit occasionally (as long as they brought beer and peanuts), and who would leave when I got bored of them.

So there it is. Sunday chez Surly. Rock and roll. If your day has been any more exciting than mine then do share - it'll give me something else to feel resentful about.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Guilt:1, Surly:0

The doctor looked at me as if I were Rose West and I gulped and tried hard not to cry as he tapped Small Person's x-ray with an accusing biro.

When did this injury occur? he barked, heavy on the accusation with just a soupcon of contempt. Um....Sunday? I offered, glancing around in case of imminent attack by earnest women wearing cordurouy skirts and too much sympathy.

Both (emphasised with a tap of the biro) bones in her wrist (tap, tap) are broken. Um....? I offered again, convinced that I was being monitored through a two-way medicine cabinet on the wall.

So there you go. I swanned off to a concert last night as my daughter spent a second night trying to sleep with a broken wrist. Awful scenes flashed through my memory - her running in from the garden shouting that she thought she'd broken her wrist, me telling her to go to sleep and stop making a fuss on Sunday night..but we checked. She had full rotation in her wrist, could wriggle all her fingers. There was no swelling, no bruising. I travelled home from the hostipal with my head swimming from visions of the Ex refusing to bring her home on Saturday after her nights with him, of social workers and trauma. And then I rang him, and he airily informed me that he had checked it last night at his Mum's house (he's a qualified first-aider) and had decided for himself that it was just a sprain, otherwise he would have taken her to A&E there and then.

I felt better after that. The endless stories from work colleagues about the time their little brother/daughter/niece broke a wrist and went undiagnosed for days helped too. Hearing that my brother fell into the same trap with my nephew was also a comfort. So, I think I'm over it now. We're off to the fracture clinic in the morning, where Small Person gets to choose which colour bandages will finish off her full cast (pink, we think - although she did proclaim in the office this afternoon that she would ask for black, which gave everyone cause to look at me and piss themselves laughing), and I get to work from home tomorrow to give her some rest before going back to school on Thursday. So there it is. No harm done. Worse things happen at sea and all that.

In other news, the Foo Fighters absolutely brought the house down last night. I spent the whole gig gaping in disbelief at the sight of Dave Grohl a mere thirty feet from me. Happily, I managed not to rush the stage and hump his leg while weeping uncontrollably. I must be growing up.

Is today over yet? I'm tired.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Conscience. How I hate it.

Ah, Monday. A gloriously sunny day, with the prospect of an amazing evening ahead.

You see, the Other Half and I have tickets to see the Foo Fighters tonight. They're playing an acoustic set at a small (1700 seater) venue only five miles from my front door. Tickets were like gold dust but we managed to secure ours. Babysitter is booked, all systems are go. Except.

Except Small Person fell over playing football in the garden last night. It was the very last couple of minutes before bed, and she went down like a ton of bricks, landing awkwardly on her left wrist. There followed five minutes of agonised rolling-around-on-the-carpet (her) and total panic (me). Once things had calmed down a bit it became apparent that the wrist wasn't broken - it's more likely sprained (I'm no doctor, but it hasn't swelled up and she can move it and all her fingers). Nonetheless, she can't put any weight on it and had a very disturbed night (she wasn't the only one, but more on that in a minute). Emergency plan #2 swung into action this morning (plan #1 involves just giving up and going on holiday instead (there are too many parentheses in this post but I'm just going to go with it)) and I am currently set up at the kitchen table, "working" from home. Which is all fine, but those Foo Fighters tickets are looming over me. If Small Person is still in pain I can't let her go and stay at Grandma's as planned. This in turn means no gig which means crushing disappointment, tinged with the happy side-effect (for him) that I won't be able to shout dirty suggestions at Dave Grohl throughout.

I'm resigned to this - I'm a parent before I'm a filth-shouting Grohl-stalking music fan. there some sort of universal force at work that arbitrarily decides that your children will fall ill or fall off or under or over or into something on the very day that exciting things are planned?

My grouchiness is not being helped today by the fact that our noisy neighbours (Portuguese South Africans) held a world cup party last night which woke me up at 1.45am and culminated in loud goodbyes and slamming doors round about three o'clock this morning.

The universe hates me. Fact.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The world's smallest teenager

So anyway, Small Person and I had the following conversation in the car the other day:

SP (showing me a picture in her book): look, Mummy. This girl wants her parents to be cool. This is how they look now, and this is how she wants them to look.

Me (brightly confident): am I cool, pixie?

SP (after looking at me in a very considering way for about a minute, and in the sort of reassuring tone generally reserved for the elderly and other people's children): well, you probably feel cool, Mummy.

Me (pathetically, blustering): but I am cool! I am! I've got tattoos and I like punk and everything!

Seriously. The girl is six. What does she know?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Questions - a diversionary tactic

Why is everything made of white plastic that we put in our dishwasher turning a vile hot-peach colour? Chopping boards, mixing bowls, measuring jugs - even the cutlery-holder-thingy that came with the dishwasher. All of them glowing like radioactive salmon fillets. Why?

Do you spell it "kafuffle" or "kerfuffle"? I would personally err on the side of "kerfuffle", but I wonder if there's a definitive spelling?

Why, in a Picture Shop, where you would expect a certain level of comprehension in such matters, would the word "canvasses" appear on a sign as "canvas's"?

What, in the name of all that is holy, possesses people to cover the entire exterior of their house in flags of St. George? Wouldn't one be enough to show your affiliation with the England team as they head to Japan for the World Ping-Pong Championship Cup (that is what they're doing, isn't it?)? Is it like Christmas lights, where the more you light your house up with cheap plastic tat, the more festive you are deemed to be?

Where can I locate the annoying stage-school "teenager" on the Frosties advert (the one who sings "they're going to taste great" whilst grinning like Abi Titmuss at an audition for a reality TV show entitled "Celebrity Fuck Fest Guaranteed to Further the Career of Sad Over-Inflated No-Talent Witches") in order that I might punch him hard in the face and call him a cunt?

All of these questions need an answer. All of this is designed to take my mind of tomorrow's funeral, so please step up to the comments* and say what's on your mind....

* Is it time for a Kids From Fame revival? Is it? I think so.

Monday, June 05, 2006

(Contains mild vomiting)*

Few things in life are less funny than being puked on by a carsick Rottweiler.

Well, realistically, lots of things are less funny. War, famine.....that sort of thing. But on a very basic, visceral level, being bathed in stomach-warm, half digested dog biscuits is pretty much no fun at all.

Filthy's appearance belied his delicate nature. Nine and a half stone of prime male Rotty, he was master of all he surveyed. He was also the softest, most loyal teddy bear of a dog I ever did meet, and although I lost him five years ago I still miss him. The stomach thing though - that got old really, really quickly. We first realised there might be a problem when he was a couple of months old. We took the dogs to Dunwich for a rainy afternoon's stamp along the beach. The labrador was fine. Filthy, however, did the sink-plunger noise all the way, starting a couple of hundred yards from the house and finishing only when the boot lid was lifted on arrival to reveal a small dishevelled puppy covered in breakfast. We presumed he'd grow out of it. He didn't. And believe me, we tried everything. Anti-emetics. Starvation. Hydration. Soothing music (does Motorhead count?). And none of it worked.

In the end, we decided to try varying his position in the car. We figured that maybe travelling in the boot wasn't agreeing with him. Maybe it was the going-backwards thing. Or maybe going-forwards. Or sideways (on sharp bends). Whichever. A plan was hatched which was guaranteed to succeed. I sat in the front passenger seat, my lap shrouded in a split-open black bin liner (in case of emergency, you understand). I (optimistically) held an empty ice-cream tub, filled with cool, refreshing water (we were hanging pretty much everything on the dehydration thing) to soothe a troubled tummy. Filthy was wedged between my plastic-clad knees, his massive head in my lap, and we set off.

It went swimmingly. For the first two miles. I gently stroked Filthy's muzzle and he lapped at the cool water in the ice cream tub. The Ex and I exchanged slightly smug smiles, confident in our dog-stomach-whispering abilities. The countryside glided past the slightly-open window in a scene of pastoral contentment. And then it began. A sort of whomping, sucking noise. Filthy's sides contracted and then began to expand like Oprah Winfrey's stomach at a soul-food restaurant. Enormous, guttural belches rent the air. I glanced at my bin-bag-shrouded knees and offered up a silent prayer to the gods of upholstery (St. DFS? St. Scotchguard?). It was all in vain. A revoltingly warm cascade of soggy dog biscuits filled my lap, even as I tried pointlessly to catch the flow in a (now pathetically inadequate) ice cream tub. I glanced at Filthy. His eyes fixed mine in silent, apologetic embarassment, as he hurled everything he had ever eaten ever into my lap. Poor dog. And poor me, pathetically mopping myself down by the roadside, dreading the journey home (don't ask).

So. Puke holds pretty much no fear for me. Which is a good thing really, as Small Person staged a dramatic re-enactment of the above episode in the car on Saturday. Preceded with the frantic words "Mummy! I feel like I'm going to be sick!", we hurtled helplessly down the fast lane of the A12 at a hundred miles an hour as she vomited about a ton of chicken nuggets (cooked by her father) into her lap. The horror. It took me half an hour and twelve baby wipes to even begin to sort the car out, and the Other Half still won't sit in the "Pukey Seat".

There's probably a moral to this story. I'm buggered if I know what it might be. Oh...hang on!! Don't read other people's blogs while you're eating your tea.


* Homage.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

From the mouths of babes

What is it with children and their stupid moral code?

For Donna and Andy’s combined-fortieth-birthday-fancy-dress-pub-crawl (note to self: must dress as a pirate again, soon) last year, Andy got busy with his badge making machine. As a result, all participants sported a Blue Peter badge for the duration of the day’s festivities (along with glazed eyes, tangly feet and their mouths turned up to eleven, for the most part). Afterwards, I put mine on the pocket-flap-thingy of my denim jacket. People in their thirties occasionally ask whether it’s real, and what I did to get it. I always tell the truth, and that’s fine. There’s no harm done. I’m not trying to get into open days at windmills or transport museums for free, or anything.

So yesterday, I picked Small Person up early from Holiday Club. When I arrived, they were having their tea. As I was waiting for Small Person’s lemon curd sammich to be put in a bag so that she could eat it in the car*, a small girl gasped with awe, pointed at my pocket and breathed “you’ve got a Blue Peter badge…..”

Fifteen pairs of eyes swivelled silently in my direction. The questions began, and I was helpless. Where did you get it? Is it yours? Can I get one? What did you have to do to get it? Finally, a voice cut through the excited chatter, and asked the fateful question….is it real?

Um….well……prevaricating wildly, I pretended to look for Small Person's glasses so we could be off. In the end, I owned up. No, it wasn't a real one. My friend made it as a joke. One particular eight-year-old boy was Not Impressed. In a voice heavy with scorn, (and a thinly-veiled threat to grass me up to Biddy Baxter), he informed me that "you're supposed to do something good and go to the studio to collect a badge, not just make one".

That told me. I'm expecting a stern letter from Valerie Singleton any day now. Bloody kids.

* Wednesday is a tight schedule day in our house. She should think herself lucky she didn't have to eat it in the bath.

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