# Hold on to your Hearts

black-heart

Now that Valentine’s week is out of the way – yes people, it’s a week – I wanted to pen my thoughts on this national day that celebrates all things ‘love’. I only discovered this year that it does actually last a week. For those that don’t make it out on the night itself, there’s always the chance to extend proceedings into the weekend, ensuring you part with your hard earned cash, so’s you don’t ‘miss out’ …d’you see?  Just to clarify, I don’t have a heart made of stone, it is in there somewhere banging away, probably with more of a blueish tinge to it rather than rosy red…

Why do we need to have this one day when we hope our nearest and dearest will shower us with expensive flowers, perfume, chocolates and teddy’s holding hearts in their little teddy paws? I’m worthy of these things on a more regular basis, surely?  (Minus the teddy bear, thank you). Have you ever been out on Valentine’s night for a meal? I haven’t and we’ll keep it that way. I couldn’t bare being in a restaurant full of tables for two. I imagine all sorts of gut curdling scenarios –  public proposals of marriage, stocking’d feet playing footsie, you know the kind of thing I mean. I would probably die laughing into my Prosecco, complete with the heart-shaped strawberry. I’d say the waiters must have a ball taking the mick out of the punters trying to out-do each other in the romance department.

Now I’m a fairly low maintenance person (not a cheap date, no!) I would prefer to say I have a modicum of taste so I don’t buy into the whole overly commercial side of this celebration. Can you honestly say you would melt with joy if your significant other bought you a 6 ft padded Valentine’s day card, or even a single besparkled red rose from ‘the bucket’? And why the flowers? I’m perfectly capable of buying my own flowers and do so on a regular basis – okay so we’re talking a small bunch of daffs or tulips from time to time (I don’t have an account at the local florist to deliver a weekly bouquet or anything). Wouldn’t it be far more romantic and thoughtful to receive flowers that say ‘I love you’ for no reason at all – say on a bleak Tuesday in October? I think so anyway…

And as for perfume, if I run out, I’ll get some more – end of. It’s always risky having someone buy you perfume anyway as it’s such a personal thing and they might get you a bottle of pure stink, like Chanel No5 for example. Was there ever a more dreadful perfume? If there is, I haven’t come across it yet. It’s how I think I will smell in my 90’s, when I’ve no choice in the matter as to what’s being spritzed on me to cover up the smell of mothballs and impending death. My sons will think I’m saying  Chanel No5 when really I mean Coco Chanel but because of the various strokes and consequent speech impediment, they’ll read me all wrong. Lots to look forward to there…

It’s the little things for me (again, not a cheap date!). My husband is a great picker of cards, there’s always a significant meaning and his messages are thoughtful and relevant to me. This year for example, he chose this card. Did you look at it closely?  I didn’t. I opened it quickly before heading off to work, loved the sentiment inside and left it at that. It was only later that evening I spotted the “Just sayin” message. How appropriate is that for me? I was really delighted and the card will go safely with the rest of my treasured bits & pieces. His messages inside were preceded with a few hash tags ###, to help link it to my budding blog and social media. Big deal you might think – well it is a big deal, he’s not a fan of social media in ANY form, so to reference it here hit the spot.

As I mentioned earlier, we don’t go out for a rosemantic meal on Valentine’s night but one year we decided to go to the cinema instead and watch a grown-up movie (usually it’s  Star-Wars, Harry Potter or Xmen and such like). We were really looking forward to our night out and I chose ‘Twelve Years a Slave’. I’d heard great things about it (plus Brad Pitt puts in an appearance) and the reviews told me we would not be disappointed. Good Lord above!!! Harrowing is what it was! TWELVE hours later we left the cinema in the depths of depression, the place was deserted and we couldn’t speak for a little while, such was the effect it had on us. Note to self: let husband chose the movie next time, so all blame can rest with him. We still talk about our Valentine’s trip to the cinema – not with fondness, I might add…

Look, I’m happy with a hot water bottle being filled for me and a bag of liquorice allsorts (my card to him) so maybe I’m doing the whole day of lurve a disservice – but surely we shouldn’t be so gullible as to fall head over heels into all the commercial hype/crap trap – Just Sayin’

 

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Arse About Face…

One evening as I lay slumped on the sofa, with the TV remote out of reach, I was forced to watch a programme which focused on three families surviving life on state benefits, nothing unusual in that I hear you say. It wouldn’t have been my first choice of viewing but I couldn’t be bothered to get up and change the channel. Anyway I thought it might enlighten me, help me to count my blessings and maybe curb some of my moaning. The families lived in the north of England and the programme followed them in their day to day lives to demonstrate the struggles that they encounter while living on benefits. The first looked at a single dad, trying to bring up his daughter on very little and highlighted the trials he faced trying to secure work around looking after his daughter with little support from friends or family. His struggle was not helped by the fact he was severely dyslexic. My heart went out to him as he appeared to really care for his daughter and put her needs before his own. However little he had, and there were no luxuries in evidence, he seemed to make everything fun for his daughter, material things didn’t matter. A few  jam sandwiches in a Lidl carrier bag, taken to the park for a picnic on a summers day equated to a feast for his daughter on an adventurous day out with endless possibilities.  We could all learn a thing or two from him. It happened to be his birthday during the shooting of the programme and when the day arrived, he admitted, as he opened his birthday card from his parents, that he would welcome some cash. Alas, the card was empty of cash, but oh joy! a voucher to have a tattoo! The poor guy tried to look suitably pleased and embrace the notion but we knew he would have preferred the cash. So off he went and had his daughters name emblazoned up his arm, all the while trying to look brave and smile through the pain.

What is the fixation we have as a nation to have tatoos? Did I miss something? Why would the parents of the guy in the programme think their son could possibly benefit from body art over say,  some new clothes or a bill paid or even a trip to Alton Towers. At least he would get some enjoyment from that.

I don’t get it. The reason I felt the need to get on my high horse here was because the other two families portrayed had their priotities ‘arse about face’ to an even bigger extent!

Family number 2 – Single mother of two, pregnant and trying to make it as a burlesque performer. Nothing wrong in that, no, it shows a desire to succeed, yes? Except this poor girl hadn’t an ounce of talent. My left ear has more potential and I felt the show gave her a platform to make an even bigger ass of herself. Not one person she engaged with was honest with her. The majority of her unemployment/child benefits was spent on trying to improve her profile on social media, she paid a photographer to take pictures of her to boost her followers which failed and she too was plastered in tatoos! In fact her entire upper body was covered with images of her children. Would a photograph in a nice frame not suffice? Now I dont know how much a tattoo costs, but I’m pretty sure they dont come cheap. The poor girl also hired out a recording studio, fifteen minutes at a time as it was very expensive, to record a song – OH MY CHRIST! I can’t tell you how bad it was! I felt angry that people were exploiting her, taking her money when she hasn’t a cat in hells chance of ever making it as a burlesque performer or a recording artist, no more than I have! The small issue of being pregnant didn’t seem to put any kind of fly in the ointment either. In situations like this, you hope there is someone who can support and offer guidance so I was delighted and relieved when her mother made an appearance (I did wonder who was looking after the kids while all this entreprenarial stuff was going on) Anyhoo, suprise suprise, the mother was just an older version of her daughter, also covered in tatoos, missing a few teeth and was one of those women who didn’t think it necessary to invest in a bra, even though she appeared to live in a nice, strappy, off white camisole the majority of the time. I wish her daughter the best of luck and she might even make it one day, just look at the reality TV shows around right now!

It gets better (or worse depending on your perspective) Number 3 was a ‘David Beckham’ wannabe. I kid you not. It seems his goal was to just look like his idol, not actually seek employment as his stunt double or anything as forward thinking as that. This guy looked more like the dad from the american show’Family guy’. I really hope Mr Beckham  wasn’t tuned in that night or he wont be getting much sleep for a long time to come.

The guy on the show was about twice the size of his idol and had undergone plastic surgery on his face which cost thousands! He no more looked like David Beckham than I look like the Mona Lisa! His latest plan was to have liposuction on his stomach. The poor guy was sure this was all that was needed to finally resemble David. Deluded or what?? I didn’t know whether to laugh or shout at the TV or cry or write to my MP (must find out who that is…). How stupid can one person be? Okay, so he’s claiming state benefit and taking out loans to cover the cost of his surgery! How are some people allowed out?? Anyway back to the liposuction.  We, the viewers were treated to the live show and got to watch the fat being sucked out from various points on the guys stomach. He was having it done under local anaesthetic to get the full experience, however it came to an abrupt end as he called a halt to the procedure mid-way through as was too painful. I just couldn’t muster up any sympathy for him, in fact I nearly choked laughing on my bonbons. I thought the point of the show was to highlight the everyday struggles people on benefits suffer, as in FINDING A JOB and PAYING THE BILLS! am I on the right planet?? It’s so comforting to know our taxes are being well spent…Oh, and yes, he had a lovely bunch of obligatory tatoos. Mind you so does David Beckham. But they look like they belong on the lovely David…

Have these people not tried to fast-forward to their 92yr old self, rocking in the corner of a care-home, and recoiled in horror at the faded green un-recognisable body art adorning their wrinkled, schrivelled up bodies, no? They need to!  let’s leave our skin alone shall we?  it didn’t do anything to you – oh, and I did count my blessings. 

Just Sayin

The Wonder Years

Mother seeing children off to school

Recently our youngest son started at secondary school which brought to a close thirteen years in total doing the school run for both son’s and whiling away time in the piranha pond aka “THE SCHOOLYARD”. I’m not sorry. As parents, we look back on periods of our children’s lives and lament the passing of various phases – their first steps, first tooth, first words etc. etc. Let me tell you, hand on heart, this is a phase I will not be mourning, I could have skipped out of the school gates in Maria Von-Trapp mode, belting out ‘The hills are alive with the Sound of Music’, so happy was I!. I didn’t do that of course, what do you take me for? It might have ended up on social media or worse, in the school newsletter!! Please don’t misunderstand me, I loved greeting my offspring and hearing all about their day, my youngest usually wanted to take half the class back to ours for dinner and my eldest would rugby tackle me with a hug, before flinging his school bag at me and climbing the nearest tree! It was the politics of the school yard that would send any sane body to the roof, namely me.

One Mother’s day, several years ago, my boys bought me a book titled ‘The School Run’ by Sophie king. I think they picked up on my daily angst… This book is a very accurate, humorous insight into the going’s-on of seven families, whose lives collide on the school run and how their relationships unfold from inside the school gates. If I had one teeny tiny criticism, I think Sophie should have upped the bitchiness level a notch or two and then it would truly reflect the majority of school yards up and down the country.

From what I’ve learned during my thirteen years, parents fall into various camps, whether by accident or design. At the top of the tree, you have the mouthy, want to be everybody’s friend, Boden clad super-mums or yummy mummies, if you like.  Now this group will definitely keep their friends close but their enemies closer. They are to be found chatting at the gate, having dropped off their cherubs in the morning, just killing time, before the latest coffee morning in support of whatever’s in vogue at that time. This group must be applauded for their efforts in raising funds tirelessly for the school and being first to sign up for every fundraiser. Of course they have the time, they don’t go out to work, so why wouldn’t they hold the world’s biggest coffee morning! You know this bunch, you’ve seen them in action, they run the show, hold court and are generally the bitchiest of all. Comical to watch from the side lines as someone needs to be the queen bee and this bee will rise up quickly to claim her title, putting the other contender’s beaks firmly out of joint.  Hats off to them really, they produce the healthiest, tastiest, most organic cakes for the school fete, run up Roald Dahl character costumes for world book day out of the remnants of flour sacks while teaching braille to their three year old, just as an extracurricular activity.

A little further down the power pyramid are the minions, the super-mum wannabies, call them what you like. These minions have been groomed by the super-mums early on in proceedings to do their bidding and generally behave like lap dogs, waiting for a scrap or two of praise to come their way every now and then. This group are the worker bees, they make the super mums look good but they will always be in their shadow and no amount of ‘likes’ on Facebook will change that status unless the super-mums move-on.

Coincidentally, just like in the classroom, the school yard has its fair share of misfits – the uncool parents, who in their defense are just being themselves and not conforming. And like in the classroom, they gravitate towards each other. You can bet they won’t get invited to join any closed social media group chats and neither will an invitation to the year two mums Christmas party makes it’s way home in their child’s book bag. Lucky escape, I say. Don’t pity this group as they are blissfully unaware of their status in the popularity tree nor could they give two hoots, from my observations anyway.

I’m going to briefly mention the fashion statements that were made in the schoolyard, unbelievable! Small example, silver stilettos’ on a Wednesday afternoon with neon hipsters, lovely! This is a whole other blogpost…

I don’t know if I fall in to any of these groups, I suppose I would need someone else to tell me but I can assure you, I was neither a super-mum (not organised enough) nor a minion (not great at taking orders). For the first couple of years of my eldest son’s schooldays, I was more to be pitied than laughed at, owing to sleep deprivation caused by a new baby and working night shifts. Most days I arrived at school in a haze of fog, everything was foggy, we were lucky to get there unscathed.  My head felt like  cotton wool had taken up permanent residence and I had trouble with bright light, as in daylight, so even on a dull day, I was sporting my sunglasses, and not in an ‘I’m too cool for school’ way.  All I needed was a white stick to complete the picture. I’m sure I was considered very rude from time to time as it’s likely I unintentionally ignored people. (What would Freud say?) Those days are a blur. I congratulated myself if I successfully got us back home in one piece without losing either of them or myself along the way. I even considered home-schooling at one point, although I didn’t voice this as I’m sure my husband would have had me committed.  Once things settled down, I changed my work hours to fit in with school times and so I was no longer chronically tired or certifiably insane. By then, I had cleverly mastered the art of arriving at the school yard at exactly the time the kids came out thus avoiding any hanging around or forming alliances and finding myself in a group by default. Phones are a great addition here as you can be oh so very busy on an important call, or indeed just browsing so no ‘people engaging’ is necessary. All hail the smartphone! Over time I’ve had many invitations to Tupperware, Jamie at home and Avon parties, but these are not my scene at all. The invitations dried up towards the end as I always said “Oh thanks, yes, maybe, I’ll check my diary “and then just not show-up.

I’ve noticed a small group emerge over the years, I call them ‘the supers’, they carry themselves with an air of nonchalance, and they might be terribly arty, intelligent types or maybe have just moved from the Outer Hebrides. They’re DIFFERENT not dorky and they don’t care. They don’t need a label or to belong to a group. Maybe they travel with the Bolshoi Ballet Company or work for the UN, whatever the case, they are above the politics of the schoolyard. Something to aspire to maybe?

While primary school is now a thing of the past, secondary school does not come without its challenges but we’re getting there. Just University to conquer next and then we’ll be home and dry, right?

Just Sayin’

 

 

Pointless !

sexy-vintage-perfume-bottles-adI’ve wondered about the whole purpose of drawer liners, scented or otherwise, on and off for a very long time now. You might say ‘this one has very little to think about’ and maybe you’d be right! Actually scrap that, you’d be very wrong, my brain is fried with the enormous amount of stuff in there piling up for processing. The only reason it’s at the forefront of my mind at the moment is because I came across a box of them recently in the bowels of our ‘cupboard that holds everything’ You could find anything in there, but I’d hidden them there some years back for a cooling off period with the sole purpose of retrieving them and subsequently binning them. But of course ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Anyway I was given this box of drawer liners as a gift, either birthday or Christmas, it’s irrelevant which. My point is WHY! Why would anyone in their right mind think I could get any kind of joy or value from a gift like this? Do I look like some-one who would go ga-ga over rose scented drawer liners? Don’t answer that, I can assure you now, I do not. To be fair, you could imagine giving something like this to your great aunt Ethel, residing in Shady Pines and even she’d have to be in the advancing stages of dementia to forge any kind of bond with drawer liners! I was almost certainly in my thirties when these offending articles made their way into my life. Again, why? The only upside (I’m trying to be the glass half full person) to receiving them was I didn’t have to open them in the givers company. Can you imagine the Oscar winning performance I’d have to put on there?? See, every cloud…

Thinking about drawer liners has prompted me to contemplate all the pointless perfumery type products out there. Of course this is only my opinion, but I absolutely hate receiving a gift box of miniature body lotions and potions. I think it shows that absolutely NO bloody effort whatsoever has gone into the gift. It also means I have to hang on to them for a respectable amount of time before remembering to trash them and I don’t have time for that. Think about it, it’s so easy to pop into The Body Shop, for example, and pull ten different gift boxes off the shelves. Most are even gift wrapped for the lazy sods who buy them! I receive quite a lot of these and I’ll be honest with you, I sometimes do recycle them back into circulation. If the giver was happy to pack off the trio of plastic bottles wrapped in ribbon as a fitting present, then I have no problem returning a similar item. It’s tricky remembering exactly who gave what so as I don’t end up returning the same gift, can you imagine! Seriously I’d rather they just made a small donation to saving orphan donkey’s or some such worthy cause, that at least would have the feel good factor about it. If I want coconut body lotion with a hint of nettle, I’ll buy it myself and while I’d love to be the woman who smoothes on hand-cream  every night, I’m not, I’m usually too knackered to think about my cuticles. I can’t even bring myself to talk about talcum powder, I feel nauseous just thinking about it, you get the picture…

I had to do a bathroom cull recently as we had several miniature versions of bath salts and lotions perched on the window ledge and with the window open the majority of time, a random gust of wind would cause the wooden blind to shot-put the little blighters all over the place. Stupidly, I just kept putting them back before coming to my senses and binning the lot! I mustn’t have been feeling myself to have allowed them in there in the first place, that’s my excuse anyway. To my shame, there was a hint of snobbery attached to hanging on to these as they had quality labels. I do so love Chanel…

Now I  wont name and shame but I know someone (he knows who he is) who has a habit of collecting (pilfering) the freebie miniature sets whenever we have an overnighter in a hotel.  At one point we had shower caps from Sydney, mini soap tablets from Cape Town, and shower gel from the dark ages. Firstly, who uses a shower cap these days? And Secondly, I’d safely say we could stretch to buying one, should I suddenly undergo a personality transplant. Oh, and the mini sewing kits! Don’t get me started! Alright, I suppose it would be handy in a loose button emergency, particularly as you were stupid enough to only pack the one shirt in your overnight case. I put these items in the same camp as the crap that comes in Christmas crackers. Please find me the idiot who likes picking up the detrius from countless Christmas crackers for days after the festive event. Mini hair grips, plastic love heart shaped rings, tiny staplers and hole-punchers to name but a few. Fine, if you are one of The Borrowers but for the love of Mike, at least put a Tiffany ring or the winning lottery ticket in there, it would reduce my pain somewhat! Mind you, I think the contents of the crackers reflects where they are purchased, I must remember to put my order in to Harrods in plenty of time for this year…

Hands up all of you who add ‘Rosewater’ to your shopping list? Pray tell,  where in life this has a purpose? None, that’s where. Please, please leave the roses to look beautiful in their natural state instead of extracting the scent and sticking it in a bottle with water before adding a price tag. Actually, I’ve just had a thought, maybe it’s to spritz  the already scented drawer liners for livening up your underwear drawer… These products are first cousins of the Knick Knacks, you know those useless bits of ornaments that adorne surfaces, gathering dust in peoples homes up and down the country.

I thought we were trying to save the planet and reduce global warming and such like? Shouldn’t we have some kind of referundum opportunity to rid the planet of these worthless, ineffectual articles? – Just Sayin’

Isn’t it Ironic?

imageAlanis Morissette had it all sown up when she wrote the song ‘Ironic’. Anyone else remember the album ‘Jagged Little Pill’? I think she had me in mind as that song ‘Ironic’ just about sums up the things that happen to me on a regular basis. Alanis knew what she was talking about and I’d say there are many of you who would back me up on this. I can’t be the only one who feels like a ‘Victor Meldrew’ clone, as I try to go about my everyday business with the minimum of fuss? Now thankfully, I haven’t had the misfortune of winning the lottery and dying the next day (unlike the poor sod in Alanais’ ditty) nor meeting the man of my dreams and then meeting his beautiful wife. No, nothing as extreme as that. However I do experience ridiculous situations I’d rather not be in. I get easily embarrassed on other peoples behalf, not only when I’m in the spotlight but also when the ‘faux pas’ isn’t of my doing.

You can guarantee that if I deliberate over buying a parking ticket ‘when I’m only going to be two minutes’ is the time our friendly neighbourhood parking attendant will slap a parking fine on the windscreen. I could kick myself with the amount of times this has happened to me. I usually have no change if it’s a longer stay and the card thingmy is out of order – of course it is! Nobody rushing up to me that day kindly giving me their ticket as they don’t need it anymore and it’s still got two hours left on it. Recently, the sensors on my car decided to play up and cause the back window to stay at half mast. We’d been having  beautiful weather, so not much of a problem, you might think. But of course, Mother Nature intervened and decided it should rain that very day AND the next AND the next, until finally, I could get it booked in with a mechanic.

We live in a 19th Century house, and although the electrics have been modernised somewhere along the line, they like to keep us on our toes. I guarantee you every time we are having people to stay, lightbulbs seem to blow like fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Sometimes they blow so hard, they drop from the fixings and smash spectacularly onto tiled floors, sending the dog running for cover. I now have an impressive store of bulbs and fuses for these occasions, but you can be sure I will have every kind of bulb in my collection, apart from the one I need for the particular light fixing that is feeling mischievous. ‘Ten thousand spoons, when all you need is an knife’ – see? Alanis was spot on again…

Sometimes, if I’m trying to avoid someone (you know that feeling?) when you’re just not in the mood to listen to them. You can bet your bottom dollar, I’ll walk straight into them at the next corner, almost as if by willing it not to happen, the message got reversed somewhere along the line. I don’t know which is worse, crashing straight into them or having to walk toward them with nobody in our path for a few hundred yards and with no choice but to make eye contact and engage. This happens me a lot and at one time, it always seemed to be with the same person. I began to think they were putting themselves in my path intentionally – the pain of it! Come on, I can’t be the only one who squirms in these situations? I delight in many things that have made life so much easier. Email for example, is the best thing since sliced bread, in my humble opinion. However, sitting comfortably in second place is caller ID. And while it’s been around forever, I still think it’s magic! Once upon a time, a long time ago, I would answer my phone in complete ignorance as to who was calling. Imagine! Well what a relief this has been for me. I can go all day not answering the phone. And as for blocking nuisance callers, (known and unknown) it’s wonderful!  Pre my caller ID and blocking life, I’d had many a painful conversation when caught on the hop- well, that part of my life is but a distant memory…

Airport runs are another instance when the best laid plans normally go to pot. Over the years, we have missed flights, got the flight times wrong, got caught up in horrendous traffic. Expensive cock-ups, yes- something that happens to us all, so I do draw some comfort from that. I am usually the person who books all the flights, does all the on-line checking in, passport policing etc so I invariably end up feeling responsible. If you knew me well, you would know I HATE being late and so, many times, I have pretended the flight is earlier than it actually is, just to get us there on time. However, this rarely works (it’s not me, it’s everybody else gov!) A few years ago, I had the most stressful journey to catch a flight for my sisters’ wedding. My husband was already at the airport as he went straight from work, so I was making the trip with our boys. I left home in plenty of time and even factored in an extra half an hour, just in case. I have never encountered such an appalling traffic jam. There were roadworks one particular stretch that caused excrutiating delays. I had my eldest son on the phone to my husband giving him updates, time was ticking on, we were bargaining over the phone with the check-in desk as to how long we’d be etc, etc. We did make it but holy moly! I’d like to dump that particular responsibility firmly in someone else’s lap forever (not my husbands, we’re as bad as each other). Another airport calamity occurred when travelling to Paris for a conference a few years back. Myself and my travelling companions were having such a nice time in the bar, having arrived at the airport in plenty of time, gone through security with the minimum of fuss, only to find our flight had been called and we’d missed it! Oh, the shame! I can laugh about it now, just…

The days I hang a full line of washing out before I rush off to work, quickly reassuring myself it won’t rain – are the days it definitely will rain. Sorry, yes, that was me. I particularly love putting out the wrong bin for collection and discovering my mistake too late only to see the truck disappearing around the corner into the next road. It’s a whole two weeks before they will collect again. Bastards!

Of course, everybody experiences some kind of crap in their lives, some more serious than others and mine is certainly trivial but enough to send me to the corner. And while rocking in the corner for a spell is fine, I find as long as I come out of the corner, dust myself down, probably laugh about it afterwards, I can press the factory re-set button and be better prepared for more of the same – Just Sayin’

 

Me, Myselfie & I

Camera 2 picIt’s the age of the ‘selfie’and I find myself sitting very uncomfortably within it. Thankfully it’s not compulsary to part-take and I know I’m in the minority and my ‘anti-selfie’ club will be very small.  How did we become so self-absorbed? What did we do before? Go around armed with snapshots of ourselves in various outfits, standing in front of mirrors, handing them out to all and sundry or just pop them in the post daily?  Can you imagine the cost of the stamps alone, never mind the energy involved in distribution? If I’m totally honest, I’m not completely anti-selfies, as it’s lovely to see a happy, spontaneous shot of someone enjoying an occasion or a group just captured in the moment, instead of a premeditated, airbrushed, filtered image.  These are the ones that get my seal of approval. Once, while in Prague with my husband, we chanced taking a few selfies (granted, after a couple of drinks), we wanted to capture the medieval astronomical clock in the background. Suffice to say our efforts never saw the light of day. The one I was happy with, he didn’t like and vice versa. We didn’t spend too long arguing about it and certainly didn’t waste any more time posing for the perfect pic. Aside from body confidence, what prompts us to prep and repeatedly pose for the perfect picture to cybershare? Maybe it’s a generation thing and those of us over a certain age who haven’t got to grips with photoshop yet, cant be arsed to learn or have better things to do with our time.

I am someone who HATES having my photo taken. Now if Jennifer Aniston said that, her reason would most likely be that she values her privacy and doesn’t want to be papped taking out the bins etc (Does Jennifer do that?) but in my case, I just don’t want my flaws and imperfections laid bare. Nobody needs that in their life. This fear of the camera extended to our wedding photos, my favourite ones are those that caught us and our guests enjoying the occasion unawares. Of course there had to be several obligatory group shots but I don’t look at these ones  very often and recoil in horror at the close-ups! (Of me, not my guests!) I do love when the photo albums are dug out and dusted off from the wooden chest where they live. We get to reminisce over long forgotten happy occasions, while also lamenting the fact that our children have grown up too quickly. I can honestly say, none of these photographs are selfies. Will my children have a chest full of photos to open on a wet day and enjoy an indulgent trip down memory lane when they are grown ups? I don’t think so, as since the birth of the smart phone, who prints photos? I am guilty of this. My phone contains hundreds of photos and I can assure you they will stay on the phone and probably just disappear into a black hole once I get my next upgrade. We did invest in a good camera a couple of years ago to capture our children’s lives in better quality but these too are on a cloud somewhere and who knows if they will ever make it to the albums in the chest, let alone hang proudly on a wall. Maybe we need to up our game and factor in some time for this, although I can imagine the in-house arguing over which ones are fit to hang for public scrutiny. My husband and I have very few photos of the two of us together, it’s not a reflection of our togetherness. He is very happy to be the cameraman (that Nikon is worn round his neck with pride at sporting events) and I would rather chew off my leg than pose, so that’s that. I suppose the selfie brigade get a certain amount of satisfaction with the number of likes and positive comments racked up, perhaps it boosts their self-esteem, so maybe I shouldn’t be so pass remarkable. There’s always a flip side though to putting yourself out there and I hope that they have enough self-esteem to cope with any negativity.

I do worry that in years to come, the babies being born today will conclude that anyone not sporting a duck pout or standing side-on with hand on hip and derriere protruding, is ‘abnormal’. They might look on the stance as a step in the journey of  mans’ evolution and begin to adopt it straight from the cradle. Actually I think some toddlers are ahead of the game and are mimicking their role-models already, go figure! Should we worry about the already developing provocative lip pouting poses of these little ones? Maybe, maybe not, they are the innocent ones, its everybody else we should be wary of, perhaps I’m over thinking the issue…

I find that the moment  someone shouts, ‘get in for a photo’, my face freezes, I don’t know how to arrange my features, my face takes on a life of its’ own, and I don’t even recognise myself in the end result! You see, in my head, I’m still twenty five….It’s like when you look in a mirror and realise that the anti-aging product you paid a fortune for and promised you untold beauty was all a load of bollocks. I think some people are just very photogenic and others (me) are not and as long as I know this, I promise I won’t be clogging up your timeline with various mugshots of myself. 

If I don’t get over this fear of the photo, my children might have a hard time finding a suitable mug shot of me in my advancing years to stick on the funeral order of service! – Just Sayin

Are your feet summer ready?

73d2b1deb1d8c6623851786cbe910dccIf you’re of a weak constitution, then this is probably not for you. I’m far from delicate and I find myself cringing from time to time and grateful I haven’t just scoffed a trifle which might make a projectile like re-appearance when faced with the offending material. Feeling brave? Read on. 

I don’t watch much TV, but occasionally there might be a series on (most recent, Marcella) that I really want to see and so I look forward to settling down each week, usually on a Sunday night as it brings the weekend nicely to a close and helps to overcome those Sunday night blues. You know what I mean? Well, picture the scene. The childer are in bed, the dog has been walked, and you and your significant other load up with treats (liquorise allsorts for me, a variety of savoury goodies for him) a whole couch each and smile smugly at each other for this stolen time together. I’m engrossed in the plot, this series is GREAT, really living up to my expectations and then the adverts come on……The advertisers have targeted this particular audience to promote the latest in continence wear and erectile dysfunction products, not to mention offering all kinds of solutions for your gnarly toenails and feet. I understand the need to advertise, but it’s Sunday night, our mood is fragile to begin with, thoughts of the working week are creeping in, with deadlines looming, office politics to be picked up from where we parked them the previous friday and then we have the horror of looking at foot fungus!  My liquorice allsorts lie abandoned (don’t worry, I’ll scoff them all in one go before I go to bed once all thoughts of absorbancy products have been erased from my mind) The erectile dysfunction one is a particular treat, it promises all-sorts of gaitey for the older couple; dancing and yachting, is there a bungee jump in there too?, might as well be…..

Wouldn’t this kind of advertising be more fitting aired on a week-day, about mid afternoon (post the lunchtime nap of course) when in my opinion, the product might actually spark some interest from the viewers? I’m not being ageist here but surely this is a better target audience. And anyway this age-group are not sat in on Sunday nights, they’re out salsa-dancing having overcome the erectile dysfunction issue! Mind you if I believed everything that infamous ‘Bodyform’ advert promised back in the 90’s, I too would be out pier twirling or parachuting and shouting ‘Whao!’ at every opportunity instead of sitting in front of the TV on a Sunday night scoffing liquorice allsorts…

Another unsavory one is the animation advert for thrush. In my opinion, if you’ve ever had the misfortune to suffer from thrush, you wouldn’t need a caricature of a prancing stick thin girl to prod you in the direction of treatment – fact! Girls are older than their years these days, they know EVERYTHING. Unlike when I was growing up, but of course in the 70’s and 80’s, advertising companies might not have dared produce a short film about something as unmentionable as the aforementioned. Although the great thing about TV today is I can fast-forward through the adverts Whoohooo!!!!! and sometimes if it’s a recording, it won’t pickup the adverts at all, how great is that?  However, if it’s real-time TV, I’m scuppered and that’s usually the time we might have the company of one or both sons. I don’t know whose pain is greater!  I wonder how the advertising companies feel about us hitting the fast forward button or do they have to raise their fee to support all the un-watched adverts?

I’m coming across as a bit prudish here, I’m not really, but isn’t TV  supposed to be an escape from the norm and adverts a break from the programme itself? If I’m watching, for example ‘Silent Witness’ it’s gorey enough without the adverts offering me solace in feminine hygiene products!  I want to see palm trees and sun soaked beaches, shiny cars travelling coastal roads I’ll never go down, shoes to die (and live) for, not bloody foot fungus! The underlying problem here is that I HATE feet. Not babies feet, I love babies feet, but the hobbity, gnarly, crusty, yellowy, fungally challenged variety of feet that make me want to barf and take to the roof. Funny, I don’t have the same problem with nappies and nappy rash products being advertised, of course that’s because usually these will involve lots of cute babies. Shame we have to grow up and become so mouldy .

For the purpose of this blog, (actually, it was just for fun really!) I googled ‘the worst feminine hygiene’ adverts. Give it a go, honestly it’s unbelievable what was given the go-ahead to be aired for public viewing! There’s a particularly atrocious French one involving a fish….oooh and an empty swimming pool speaking volumes to me about absorbancy! I noticed too in my ignorance that actually some of these go back as far as and pre-date the 70’s and 80’s so I was wrong in thinking earlier that advertising  unmentionables is a more recent thing, although I do think it’s definitely more graphic and the earlier adverts much more discreet. In fact the earlier ones are actually very comical in their attempts at discretion, so I did at least get a laugh. (Note to self: delete browsing history from family computer) 

Maybe there should be a warning before these adverts are aired for the likes of me- you know, a bit like when a TV presenter warns the viewers of upcoming flash photography in a segment in case of any photosensitive issues. It could go something like this….’The following advert contains items of an acute offensive, toe curling nature and if you are particularly sensitive or have just eaten-look away now’ I could use it as my cue to hop out and put the kettle on- Just Sayin’

 

‘Over a barrel Padre’

 

your excellency pic3To The Most Reverend Bishop Declan Flaherty

 

Your Excellency,

It is with great sadness and regret that I write to inform you of my decision to leave the Catholic Church.  Actually, it’s not so much as leaving the faith, more the parish itself.  You see where I live, it’s very competitive and I’m finding it very stressful trying to cope with the politics of it all.  I’ll explain further on.

I know you are probably wondering why I am bothering you with such nonsense when I could talk to our parish priest and sort it out on the shop floor, so to speak.  Please let me fill you in. Fr Declan O’Malley has been our parish priest for over a year now, as I’m sure you know, and when he arrived to replace that other fella, whom I won’t name for fear of upsetting you, I was the first person to meet and greet him. By accident really, as he arrived a day earlier than expected and I happened to be at the train station meeting my niece Maura from Wexford.  I noticed him in his dog-collar getting off the same train and as is my nature, went immediately to welcome him.  Anyway to cut a long story short, I sort of became his guide for the day and he took me into his confidence about many things, which of course I wouldn’t disclose, you needn’t worry. However it seems his allegiance has shifted, causing all kinds of problems, not only for myself but some of the other ladies who devote their time voluntarily to the needs of the church.

At the time Fr Declan arrived in the parish,  I was very busy looking after my ailing husband, God rest his soul, so I didn’t have a whole lot of time to devote to my voluntary work. However poor Mitchel went to meet his maker soon afterwards so I could pick up where I left off volunteering.  I felt I needed to do something to keep busy at such a difficult time.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the term “craw-thumpers” but it’s a word that’s quietly used to describe people in the parish who think they are ‘holier than thou’ and are very much full of their own importance. We have a lot of those here and I don’t mind telling you, Your Excellency, that they are the reason I will have to go to mass in our neighboring parish from now on. The fact that I don’t drive and will have to rely on public transport is very worrying for me . What my new fellow parishioners will make of it I dread to think.  They might assume that I have been shunned by my own church or been involved in some scandal or other! This keeps me awake at night as I think  you will agree Your Excellency, we have had enough scandals here to last a lifetime…

One of the “craw-thumpers” in question, Mrs Eileen Brady, who in my opinion is the ringleader, had the audacity to call me to task over the flower display at last Sundays service. She felt I hadn’t distributed the colours evenly and had left a right mess in the vestry, dead leaves etc  which I can tell you is not like me at all! Well I was speechless to be honest with you, as Mitchell (God rest his soul) always said I had a way with flowers and praised my neatness to the skies!  Mrs Brady is the chairperson on the women’s committee and she draws up the roster for the flowers.  Having suitably reprimanded me , in her wisdom, she has decided I should take a break from the flower arranging and take over polishing the silver.  I understand this is because Elsie Flanagan had been made redundant from this particular post  now that her son has taken up residence in Mountjoy prison. Mrs Brady felt it wouldn’t be appropriate to lay temptation in Elsie’s path and had put a red line through her name on the rota with that great sweep of her arm that she has! Coincidentally Mrs Brady’s niece is in charge of the choir and just this past week, when I inquired about joining, she told me they were at their full capacity and it’s only dawning on me now that her decision may have been influenced!

While I felt I had impressed Fr O’Malley with my knowledge of the locals and the dynamics of our parish when he arrived, I do think he is more sympathetic to Mrs Brady’s ideas and way of thinking. I’m not sure if it’s her culinary skills which have helped to form his opinions, but she certainly seems to supply a lot of rhubarb tarts and currant bread to the parochial household. I think she sees herself as his aide in all matters of the church to the point where nobody else on the committee gets a word in. I do know I would be wasting my breath speaking to him on the subject.

I will leave you to decide how best to deal with my dilemma as I know you will decide what’s best for the parish and approach the problem with the sensitivity it requires.

May I take this opportunity to thank you for the lovely service you gave in May for the children’s Confirmation. My son’s youngest daughter Ella was being confirmed, and it was such a special day. Did I mention that my son is a journalist, a freelancer I think the term is? He was very considerate around the time Fr O’Malley’s predecessor had to leave the parish at such short notice by not “running with the story” as they say in the field.  I think he did it as a favour to me, as I was so involved on the committee at the time. Still, times change, people change, don’t you think?  Anyway I mustn’t take up too much of your time wittering on and I look forward with anticipation to hearing from you in due course.

Your humble servant.

 

Mrs Mitchel Faraday

 

 

Lord, give me strength.

face picI like to shop and go, doesn’t everyone? As I push my trolley around the supermarket, I often lament the fact we have to eat at all, just think of the hours saved!  Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t got an aversion to cooking (much) or an eating disorder, I can wolf down a man size dinner with the best of them, and keep it down, but doing the weekly shop makes me wish we were a family of disordered eaters (tongue in cheek).

Alas no, I spend most days trawling the aisles in search of food that will inspire, delight, nourish but mostly FILL my family, and that’s on top of a once weekly shop. They literally hoover up their food, I don’t think it hits the sides going down. They spend alot of time gazing into the fridge, foraging in the cupboards, wondering what’s for dinner and moaning about the lack of food in the house. How can this be? I buy food MOST days! You’d be forgiven for thinking my rant is to do with the volume of food consumed by ma famile. It’s not. I am blessed with boys and they are healthy and strong with appetites to match and long may it last.

I do however have a problem with the  staff in my local supermarket, particularly the ones on the checkout. I literally want to bark at them to SHUT UP! If they could stop a minute and take a look at me, read my expression, take in the stalk like appearance of my eyes and realize that I don’t wish to be the receptor of the trivia pouring from them, as I battle back and forth to the trolley trying to load groceries onto the conveyor belt and pack it the other side, breaking into a run from time to time, oh AND keep an eye on my purse for fear someone decides to grab it. I’m a woman, I can multitask sure, but this one is beyond me. I try to look vaguely interested, nod, smile benignly, make non-committal noises (difficult when you’re trying to pack runaway melons and keep the raw from the cooked meats as they hurl them across the scanner) But still they give me the full SP on their day so far, the weather, what they’re up to at the week-end, how many hours into their shift they are, how many hours to go blah blah blah. I once made the mistake of actually engaging in conversation with one of the ladies, she noticed I had paint splashed on my hands or clothing or some-such and we got into a very long con-flab about DIY. At the end I felt we were old friends – I knew her daughter, her dog, the layout of her home and its’ colour-scheme intimately. I was exhausted. That was about two years ago and would you believe, if I have the misfortune to end up at her checkout, she always asks if I’ve been decorating lately, ON MY LIFE ITS TRUE!  I give a different answer every time and she never notices, just goes off on a ramble detailing whatever DIY project she happens to be embarking on. She could be re-touching the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for all I know,  as I race back and forth with my goods and a smile plastered to my face.

I think it must be part of the training, following on from  Health & Safety:  Module two –  ‘Annoy the hell out of the customer with harebrained chatter’ I understand they have to engage a little, I believe it’s called giving us shoppers the ‘full customer experience’ but I just want to get the hell out as fast as I can. I could be productive elsewhere but then it’s great blog fodder, as I have had many toe curling experiences in my local supermarket.

One time, I was ‘given’ a jar of coffee by an older man sat at the checkout. He informed me of  the ‘gift’ once I had packed it away, seemingly it didn’t have a barcode so he just put it through without charging me. I now feel as if I’m in cahoots with him as he whispered the revelation out the corner of his mouth, like we were ‘in it together’. I thanked him and was a  little embarrassed, I must admit. I forgot all about it until a couple of weeks ago, HE DID THE SAME THING! But, and wait for it, when he was informing me about the pineapple that made its’ way to my bag without being scanned, he said, ‘didn’t you get some coffee from me a while back?’ Well I was mortified! I immediately took the offending pineapple out and dashed off to find one with a barcode. Is he trying to get some kind of hold over me by using coffee and tropical fruit! Jez, I don’t need this, I have people at home waiting to be fed! He looks fairly harmless, a bit like an Oompa Loompa, just not orange and I’m sure he means well, in a ‘hair standing on the back of your neck’ kind of way…

I have to tell you about two other members of staff. I call them ‘The cheeky girls’, twin sisters from Poland, very pleasant, helpful, friendly and way way too familiar. I see them frequently, usually when I’m in a rush and they stop me to tell me how bad their hay-fever is, which contraceptive pill they’re taking at the moment and treat me to in-dept descriptions of their mother’s cooking back home in Poland. It seems there’s nobody like her, she sounds like a demon in the kitchen. I wonder if they have a Polish version of ‘Masterchef’ She’d be an overnight sensation. I might look into it. It took me a long time to differentiate between the twins but I’ve mastered it now, so avoiding them is a lot easier than it used to be. If I was spotted on surveillance a year or two ago, I think the store security would have rounded me up for acting suspiciously, while really all I was doing was trying to avoid one or both of them, to make my getaway unnoticed

I know you’re wondering why I don’t shop online and avoid all this, but that too has its pitfalls let me tell you. Living off a one-way street as we do, traffic backs up during delivery drop-off, the dog barks her head off sensing an intruder,  wrong food or alternatives will be sent, blah blah blah. Plus I don’t have the patience to wait in my designated time slot, whether I’m home or not. It’s like being in limbo.

I always imagine it must be easier in the US, certainly in New York from what I’ve seen, they always eat out, don’t they? Only occasionally will someone on a health kick carry home a brown paper bag of leafy cabbage and fruit for the morning post park run smoothie, (I’m generalising)  but otherwise, the question on everyone’s lips is ‘Where shall we eat?’

Am I going to have to move stateside to dodge these chirpy staff or should I just tell them to SHUT UP!  I bet Carrie Bradshaw didn’t have these problems – Just Sayin’

 

Just a trim today Madam? 

Hairdresser picI’m already getting hot under the collar just thinking about this blog/rant. I know it’s an odd one as some women actually pay for this every week and look on it as a treat, some ‘me’ time! (this subject matter is probably aimed more towards the fairer sex) Now, before your minds start wandering in the wrong direction – I’m referring to a trip to the hairdressers. I hate it. I really do. It fills me with dread. I would rather get ripped off at the dentist than go to the hairdressers (If you read my last post, you’ll know what I mean and if you didn’t – then catch up!)  Right from the moment I have to make the appointment, to the point I put on my coat and slink out the door, I am crippled with loathing and impure thoughts, vowing never to return.  My brain has shriveled up to a ‘birdseye’ pea size and I’ve got the migraine of the century. If they could read my thoughts, I’m sure I’d go straight on to the ‘don’t ever let her cross the threshold again’ list.

Over the years, I’ve lost count of the salons I’ve visited and in all my years of searching, I found one, YES, ONE that didn’t leave me with the aforementioned symptoms and I loved, YES, LOVED what she did with my hair, a true expert and a lovely person too – bonus. I feel I should mention the salon here, am I allowed? No point, it’s in another country!!! So until I can grace this particular salon again, I am left seeking out new establishments every time my hair needs attention. That time is fast approaching, and the fear is real…Reasons for putting hairdressers into room 101

  • Incessant chatter
  • Drenched neck/clothes/makeup
  • The full SP on the stylists latest drama with ex-husbands, mothers boyfriends tattoo artist
  • Group discussions on personal lives with complete strangers
  • Group comments on your hair
  • Shamed into buying products (sometimes)
  • Time spent that can never be retrieved
  • Ability to make you question your worthiness at having them style your tresses

The last place I visited was very local and well established with a sleek enough website and as I hadn’t been there before, decided to give it a shot. I took my youngest son with me, not only because I had no other option, but I thought, if they see I have a child with me, they might speed up the process. How wrong was I? Four hours later (I had half head highlights and a trim – NOT restyle) I’m not joking, I was one of two clients in the salon, the other was a lady in a mobility scooter and her hair was shorter than a gerbil, so not much time needed there. My poor son had exhausted every game on his Nintendo, finished his David Walliams’ book, consumed the snacks and drinks I had brought and was making ‘hurry the hell up’eyes at me the whole time I was sat in the chair of doom. The hairdresser was a very soft spoken ‘mature’ male, the owner in fact. One shouldn’t make judgement’s, but immediately I thought ‘what does a middle aged man know about hair?’ and then of course I remembered all the greats and relaxed a little, only a little mind you, as I was waiting for him to be all arms waving, long scarves, cerise trousers and paisley shirts, with better manicured nails than myself. But no, he was just a ‘normal’ jeans and jumper type and the arms stayed firmly put except to wield his scissors. I realise I’m stereotyping but can you blame me? He was quite softly spoken, a nice change from the ‘singsong’ drivel I’d become accustomed to, but I had trouble hearing him as he chatted away over my head about God knows what, while Capital radio thumped out the hits in the background. As is the norm for me, halfway through the ordeal, I start to get agitated, its literally written all over my face, I’ve been here too long, I need to get this over with but how can I speed up the process without pretending I’ve left the oven on or faint? Eventually the foils are removed and he starts to cut and I literally beg him to just give it a trim, which he does and then he gets out the hairdryer. I give specific instructions on how I have my hair styled, its nothing special but it’s my way. Anyhooo, he proceeds to do the worst blowdry/style I have EVER seen. I had to stop him, so I did. I repeated my preference for styling and off he goes again and carries on as if I hadn’t spoken!  I stopped him again and at this point, I’m mortified, my son is mortified and all the while I’m wondering why I don’t just let him do whatever the hell he likes so I can GO. But no, I stop him a third time and that’s where we leave it. Our short-term relationship has reached the point of no return. I paid my very hefty bill (since when has the hourly rate for a hairdresser matched that of a neurosurgeon?) and left him to lock up his salon. I’m sure he silently offered up a prayer of thanks at my departure. The whole process took over FOUR hours and I had spent alot of money and as per, was unhappy with the end result.

Another place locally I won’t be frequenting is a fairly popular spot with rave reviews, so initially I thought, this is it! I found a home for my hair. I put off making an appointment for as long as possible to try and hold on to that lovely feeling of hope. But again, no, it was not to be. I think I immediately ruffled the stylists feathers by taking in a photo of exactly the style I wanted. I have alot of hair and its quite long, lots to work with – you would think, but the end result was NOTHING like the photo.(I knew she couldn’t morph me into Reese Witherspoon but I was at least expecting my hair to replicate the hair in the photograph of Reese looking gorgeous on some fancy red carpet somewhere) I don’t think she (the stylist, not Reese) was sorry to see the back of me, as I did mention, while parting with my credit card again, that while it was okay, it wasn’t what I had in mind nor did it look anything like the photo… This particular salon think’s it’s the bees knees but no amount of vintage gilt stained mirrors and fancy shapes on the coffee froth is going to drown out the smack of air-kissing or the constant yakking of the staff about their private life to anyone who will listen. Another Salon bites the dust. My quest continues and I fear I now have to move further afield, but I know none of them will match up to the standard of my affair abroad, so it’s with a heavy heart that I click on Google and start my search again.

If this gets worse, am I destined to end up resembling a yeti? Anyone else have hairdresser phobia (Is there a medical term for this I wonder?) Why is it so hard to find a hairdresser who ticks the box ? I think I might pop into my local hairdressing academy and drop off some etiquette suggestions – Just Sayin’