Friday, 14 March 2014

sex ed street style

Volume 41 – sex ed street style     

Thanks for sticking with me.  Here’s my next mistake, hope you don’t mind my skipping back and to randomly without a thought for a timeline or a theme.  What’s striking me as horrifying during this journey is how very long it actually takes us to actually learn something or is it only me again?  Anyway, my next mistake was listening to Colleen McGlinchy.

I’m not going to lie to you, I was knocking on a bit for this kind of mistake at almost ten but as you’re getting to know me you’ll realised I can be a bit slow on and off.  So, three things coincided at once; I got a brother, I got a doll for Christmas and Colleen McGlinchy gave me some very duff gen indeed.

The brother thing was the simple bit, he was just a big jumble of fragrant (in one way or another) crocheted blankets that needed pushing round in a tansad or bouncing off (yes - the right word - I was impatient to play out, the splits and gymnastics being the current faze) my mother’s orange candlewick ‘til he finally, finally gave in and dozed off - admittedly it may have been concussion. 

Colleen McGlinchy was another matter.  She was a pretty girl who had tricked me into gulping a tablespoon of cod liver oil on a previous occasion so I was rightly suspicious. In the backs of the rows of terraced houses, I’d just finished my Olga Korbut with a flourish when she nodded me over.

“Oi you.”  She was older than me so I felt faintly honoured.

“You done ‘adolescence’ yet?”

Colleen patiently explained that pretty soon this thing was going to happen to the likes of me and the other kids in the street that would see us being ‘sorted out’.  Apparently, this involved us becoming either women or men.  How do you know which, I wondered and Colleen supplied me with the information that we’d get either busters or a ‘thing’ would appear between the legs to confirm the difference and seal the deal. 

Squirreling myself away in my higgledy room with a packet of Spangles to digest this new revelation I  started to seriously worry.  I had myself already began to detect what I thought was a slight change in my hitherto pristinely demarcated undercarriage (in other words, a nice neat line - not unlike the ones dividing a laminate floor - with a podgy bit either side).  To confirm my horrified suspicions, I closely inspected the contents of my doll’s frilly underwear and behold it seemed that, in my own unfrilly but bearing apples and pears pants something was indeed afoot.  It needed sorting out. 
If I was going to be a man I needed to know and fast.

I’ll leave you with the cringeworthy image of me sitting in our Shep’s hairy basket under the stairs and every time my mother strode past to answer the shop’s bell and serve the customer,  hurriedly hitching my skirt up over my head.

 “Mum, mum mummmmmm IS THIS …”

“Hello Gladys two ounce of spam is it?”

“ … NORMAL?”      


Thursday, 13 March 2014

Vol 40 uni                             

Do your mistakes sometimes take on the mantle of the furies (the Grecian women stalking wrongdoers not the band) foisting their painful memory on to you time and again? 
I know the feeling.

This mistake’s unusual though because, happily, I can’t remember it.

I’d mistakenly assumed, once married, that that part of my life was neatly tidied up and I’d thankfully never ever find someone fanciable ever again.  It was a shocking body blow then when, at uni, I was assigned a gipsy dark and dangerously attractive professor as my personal study coach involving twice weekly meetings in disconcertingly close proximity in his testosterone misted office.   It was on one such occasion that the mistake happened. 

I have no clue what.  My body may have once again betrayed me in some outrageous act aside the delectable don, experienced a clothes fail or committed some humiliating Freudian slip, or worse.  I have no idea.  What I do know is I was tortured by the said event which revisited me over and over while reading, driving, cooking and waking up at 3am, relentlessly causing me to drip sweat with the hot shame of it. 
Unable to face him again I considered quitting.
Around this time, our philosophy class’s break coincided with the psychology students’ and we collided at the common room shouldering in for brain reviving coffee.  Maybe it is to them that I owe a debt. 

According to their advice (doubtless desperate and asking on behalf of a dear friend of course), each time the spiteful memory shot in unglorious technicolour to the forefront of my mind, I instantly began to complete some brain task requiring intense concentration.  Probably times tables.  For good measure, as directed, I blinked very rapidly for some seconds each time.

Magically, over two or so days, my brain no doubt deciding that I was now disinterested in memories of my misdemeanour, filed it so far deep down below that it finally slunk then slithered away into oblivion.  

If you should have the misfortune to need to try this technique, probably best to do it in private.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014


vol 39 India                                                    


I know in advance that I’m going to go a long way in order to justify this little, if stupid, mistake so my apologies for both the justification and the mistake itself. Very sorry.  Hopefully you will now never make it yourself but even better, safe in the knowledge that you wouldn’t have been such a fool, to make it in the first place and be consoled back your lack of idiocy and hopefully a nice glass of something bubbly and some cheese and crackers.

India, if you’ve never been, is at first a terrific shock to the system with its chaotic traffic and cows in the road, the daredevil dash from the airport on the windy, windowless bus exhorting terror from even the most robust of souls.

The colours, the beeps and cries, the armies of humans and exotic aromas at once excite and confuse the previously sedate senses.  I once read that an Indian, on a visit to a largely pre-pack English supermarket, couldn’t understand the lack of saliva- inducing smells and was unable to summon enough hunger to inspire his dinner.

Anyway, after a few days of the relative protection of all inc, you might venture out onto the equally chaotic shack-shop strewn street, keen to buy anything with which to compel your humid sprung hair into obeisance, to immediate cries of;

“Don’t buy her crap!  Buy my crap!” 

Later, you might, imagining a cool, heat-relieving paddle in the sea, risk another foray whereby a monstrous wave surge will instantly relieve you of your knickers and a passing tourist, clearly being clued up on the behaviour of the beach, will take your photo and you might swerve the cow on the sand and the elephant by the gate for the once again solace of all inc.

Conditioned by said and still slightly stressed, you may eventually make it to a spice plantation and, having been educated in the preferences and harvesting of the likes of cinnamon and turmeric, weary of walking in the warm, retire to the bar.  Here, you might imperiously summon a passing person from whom you order in clipped tones, the better to be understood, two large beers with no ice who, it turns out, is merely a fellow holiday-maker with a rather excellent tan.
At this point, you may, noting your growing mountain of mistakes, resolve to start a blog.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014



Vol 38 Party                                            


My first big school  invitation to a grown up –  pass the parcel and musical chairs now a mere memory – birthday party had arrived and unfortunately the two most important words in this sentence had failed to make an impression on my, as yet, very ungrownup brain.  Hence I found myself on the newly twelve year old Nadine’s glamorous dormer bungalow doorstep clutching card and neatly wrapped Twinkle annual.  Very soon I would discover to my shame that most of my peers had long since ditched Twinkle, moved through Beano and Dandy and were well into Jackie and her ‘what kind of kisser are you?’ articles.

“Er, come in then,” said the fragrant birthday girl eying me up and down frowning ungraciously, “you’re half an hour early.”  Really?  Still?  As all eleven year olds are, acutely aware of the slow passing of time, I’d been waiting round the corner for the last ten minutes, “wait in the kitchen while I get ready.”

Nadine’s kitchen was an education of never-before-encountered exoticness in which, to pass the cruelly malingering time, I amused myself with a quick sniff of a bottle of chicory coffee, exploratory squeeze then frustrated bash of a plastic red tomato (speedy rub with a Spanish dancer tea towel to rid the formica table of its sticky sea of ketchup) then a startling lick of celery salt before my fellow party mates jostled in to join me.  At last, crossed my mind before,

 “Look at Wendy!”


“What are you wearing.”

Two things struck me.  Though it was mid-winter and a bloody freezing first term at senior school, I’d selected the only party-like outfit, albeit a size or so too small, I owned.  Namely one baby blue frilly chiffon number with see through puffed sleeves, matching frilled socks and hairband.  If memory serves me right, otherwise only being able to locate school shoes, I’d opted in the name of speed, for pumps.  Anathema to my peers resplendent in de la mode brown midi’s, Ben Sherman shirts and wedges.  Strike me down now.

After they had had their fill of fun and guffaws and I had resolved, immediately on arriving home, to stuff the damn frock in the nearest bin, we availed ourselves of Nadine’s mum’s fabulous ham salad and celery salt sandwiches, beef spread butties apparently being beneath the birthday girl.  Delish, as they say, they were and while the cackling quintet made their way off for a bit of truth or dare, I made my excuses and left to locate the loo, chimes of Abba ringing behind.

Thirty-two minutes later, I emerged, perspiring mildly, to an audience and urgent cries of,

“Hurry up!” 

“I’m bursting.”

“Me first!”

with the intention of slinking noiselessly back to the confines of the kitchen but having hardly taken four steps toward it when furious shrieks screamed from the avocado bathroom;


Monday, 3 March 2014


Vol 37 Balloons   

If you’ve stuck with me so far, you may well have formed the perfectly correct impression that I'm a midge on the mean side and, if needing to spend hard earned dosh on anything other than wine and sun, will instantly begin to work out how I could get it cheaper, as is the case in this, as well as a veritable smorgasbord of mistakes.

There comes a day to all mothers when you realise that something is over, never to return.  Such a day was mine in one particularly sweltering summer holiday when, sweaty and weary of being followed around and mithered and having ordered my evidently growing while I wasn’t looking, son from the room – I’m big enough to go anywhere I want -  in ever more pressing tones, I went to shove him physically out and found him planted tree trunk-like in the lounge.  Immovable, like Madam Thatcher, the lad was not for turning.

Anyway, on to the mistake proper.  The double bind about home brew is that, while being mildly entertaining in the making of, it holds out the carrot of saving money in the long term while requiring an absolute fortune in the purchasing of the apparently necessary equipment, the likes of which, if you’re anything like me, becoming bored and perhaps lighting upon a new diversion, you are apt to leave in the loft for the next ten years before finally moving house and forgetting it. On this occasion, I’d quite appropriately since it was summer, decided to make cider.   No need for demi-johns, I reasoned, already having enough empty bottles for a medium sized democracy to float off sos’s in.  Now, a bucket already in hand, what could replace the wildly expensive airlocks while itself being relatively inexpensive, I mused and, having leftovers already from somebody’s birthday, eventually hit upon the novel idea of using balloons and set to.

All seemed to be progressing pleasingly and the brew brewed somewhat flamboyantly with its colourful hats on, while we whiled away the days soaking our toes in miniature pools while giddily daring the dog in, secretly from the man of the house sneaking enough bricks back in the boot of his jag with which to construct a barbie, dripping ice lollies and losing our flip flops.  Until, one hot and humid afternoon, nipping into the kitchen to extract three more tip tops from the freezer, a cidery bomb went off in the pantry.   True to form I legged it, dropping scissors and tops en route, for the sanctuary of the lawn followed by boom after almighty boom.          

An urgent discussion ensued between mother and son while smaller child cried unhelpfully over the din as to precisely which one of us would venture valiantly to investigate the mayhem.  Finally, me and small child being mere female and he now being old enough to go anywhere, strode off manfully to confront the combat zone previously known as the pantry, plastic sword in one hand, shield in the other.

Friday, 28 February 2014


Vol 36 Hospital

I suppose there are benefits to having a body.  There are some pleasing sensations to be had for instance, but on the other hand the maintenance of said is jolly hard work, requiring the owner/driver to career up a motorway at an outrageous hour every morning to earn enough money for its warmth, fuel, soap, nail polish and so on which, despite our dedication to keeping it up and running it, often cruelly and mockingly betrays us. 

Take this small example.  Living proof that it is most definitely not advisable to commission a perm while pregnant, I was confined to bed on the long gone perinatal ward at Billinge.  Belly as vast as Saturn, with memories of a long ago pre-appendectomy hospital stay resulting in a rubber-clad finger up my bum come to torment me, I was utterly, utterly, unreservedly miserable.  The unforgiving hospital heat concentrating the unmistakable hospital smell, the cruel crack-of-dawn awakenings to clanks of trolleys and bristlings of importances were getting to me. 

Understandable, you might think, and I’d concur.  The body though, complicit with the emergent mischief within, had other ideas. 

As her Most Majesterial Sister in charge of all things sterile as well as those not, for monitoring purposes attempted to wrap a thick strap around my belly, it suddenly shot an angular shape and, equally suddenly, in spite of my wretchedness, a little laugh escaped me.

“Oh yes, we’re well used to that,” bristled Mrs Efficiency,

“now lie calmly …”

“Ha.  Ha.”

“And baby will settle,”


“…  and readings will be accurate,” she ordered frowning, as if I had any say in it, and carried on strapping.

“Ha!” burst definitively now from my lungs, “hahahahahah HAHAHAHAHAH”

“Now that’s not helping is it?”  as I chortled on, inwardly cringing, “I’m going to leave you to calm down and come back in a while.”

As her hips receded down the ward, I bitchily decided that she needed the next size in navy and lay back to contemplate sleepily on my menu selection for the evening.

Half an hour passed serenely by before Sister Majestolic    appeared at my bedside instantly instigating more massive convulsions of mirth.

“HA!” I gasped “HAHAHA!” completely helpless, lost in my merciless convulsions and crying now as a final vindictive snot bubble sprang from my nose.


Thursday, 27 February 2014

Vol 35 Eating in America I

Vol 35 Eating in America I

If you’ve never been to America and are planning on it, you might be wise to pick up a pair of elastic waist shorts.  If you’ve already been, reading this you may smile to yourself, nodding sagely in recognition of our na├»ve innocence.  If not, it’s only us again.

Attempting to provide excellent navigation (so much easier in the States where the roads are straight and the sun is high), to himself in the days before excellent navigation technology while driving along the I 35 one afternoon, I was suddenly and completely consumed by the desire for a pancake.  As I’d seen so many times before on the likes of  Rosanne and Cheers, I greedily imagined a fat fragrant steaming stack of spongy deliciousness accompanied by blueberry, cherry or suchlike sauce and a ball of vanilla ice cream.

Nipping in for petrol, we enquired where one could obtain the said feast and were, luckily we thought since we would never have worked it out, a bit like sending an American to B & Q for a spanner, directed to IHOP – translation International House of Pancakes - perfect. 

Squeaking our bottoms along the red bench seats, we amused ourselves briefly noting the Christmas carol trilling in the background while it was 80 degrees outside and presently a perky waitress in a pink frock appeared and the ordeal began.

“Hello, my name’s Marianne.  I’m your waitress for today what can I get you guys?” said Marianne without taking a breath.

“Hello Marianne. Pancakes.”

“Ooh,” squealed Marianne, “you’re English!” pretty much delighting us until “what language do you use?”

Resisting temptation, we reiterated our desire to order pancakes.

“Okay, what deal do you want?” Deal? Er, cheap ones then maybe? Buy one get one free?  Del Trotter thinking kicking in.

“Sorry, not really understanding, just wanting some pancakes …”

“Yes, what deal do you want?  YOU NEED TO CHOOSE A DEAL,” advised Marianne louder, definitely registering that we were dozy, deaf or both.

After some volleys back and forth it transpires, Marianne helpfully thrusting a laminated placemat at us, that there are various combinations involving pancakes from which we were to select.  Not really interested in the rest of the package we merely asked for the deal with pancakes.

“Okay,” Marianne smiled, ironically I thought, “how d’you like your eggs?”

“Cooked.” replied he.


“Er, out of the shell?”  I could smell his stress hormones.  Feverishly fishing my brain for inspiration and remembering a scene from Happy Days, I offered;

“I think it’s ever easy or sunny side up,” spying, in himself, a rising fury adding, “any really, whatever’s easiest.”

Thinking the ordeal was over and the pancakes finally on their way, we exchanged frowns before;

“What dressing do you want?” Cough “WHAT DRESSING DO YOU WANT?”   

And so, the quest for a lowly pancake that sunny afternoon found us delivered in turn one bowl of bread, two cups of coffee, two bowls of salad, one with blue cheese dressing one with thousand island, two plates seated on which four eggs, two streaky bacon, two messes of grits (the bits that get stuck in your teeth after eating corn off the Barbie but mashed) two pools of maple syrup, two hash browns and a silver dollar.