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.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014


Vol 34 Numbers    

Numbers just aren’t sticky for me.  Devoid of colour or personality, they enter my ears and dissipate immediately like birds at gunshots.  I barely know my own age.  Fortunate that, you might add.

On this exciting day, we were to be on our way to Rochdale Ravens for our first encounter with an actual all girl rugby team.  All week, the talk had been of Zara, ever the one to try something new, who had been suspended from school having been caught with a little tab of something possibly illegal, sent home eyes allegedly like coals, as high as it gets and was grounded, thoroughly, firmly and utterly GROUNDED FOR A MONTH! Ouch, with the ‘flu season on us, we were already thin on the ground.

At the Labour club car park, our mismatched troupe of high octane teens, smelling in turn of Avon so soft, Impulse body spray, Irn bru chews and damp coats, threw their various bags of kit on to the community bus as their coach did a rapid head count and turned accusingly to me.

“There’s only twelve.”

“Yep, that’s right, you said we need twelve.” I’d done a quick ring round a day or two (it might have been three) before to determine numbers for the team.

“No, THIRTEEN!” exasperated not for the first time “the maximum number of players per team on the pitch is thirteen, we’re down to twelve,” and turned to announce flatly;

“I’m sorry.  We’ve not enough, there’s no point going.  We can’t play.”

Predictably pandemonium reigned.

“No, never,” a slightly relieved - but ever so outraged voice.

“It’s not fair!” just outraged.

“Count again!” determined.

And then.

“Can’t we get Zara?” a strategist.

“No chance.” Previously slightly relieved, now slightly nervous.

“Her Dad’s said all week she’s not coming.  She’s grounded.”

A flurry of mutterings was exchanged and finally Zara’s older and younger sisters were ejected from the bus having been coached thoroughly in the art of influence by their persuasive peers and set off round the corner, shiny heads down in collusion, to confront the fully justified jailers.

The wait was tense.

Until at last the errant father jauntily appeared followed by daughters one and three, with Zara shuffling sheepishly behind, and grinned his way down the aisle adding nonchalantly “apologies folks, minor family issue.”

As the bus driver revved the protesting engine into shuddering life, the girls jubilantly began the first of many loud, headache making chants;


“Oh God,” squeaked previously-relieved, and we set off.


Monday, 24 February 2014



Vol 33 mushroom


I don’t know about you, but I occasionally find myself fixated on achieving something a little left of field.  I don’t know why this is, this desire to be different certainly doesn’t make for an easy life and often leads to sideways glances meeting the determination to think outside the box.  As a friend once kindly remarked, perhaps a brain transplant would be in order.

Take this for example.  Sitting front of, but not watching as usual, TV one rainy afternoon I came to the conclusion that, though there was nothing whatsoever wrong with the currently resident coffee table, I was, fourteen years later, sick of looking at it.  So, while my other half whiled away the afternoon being benignly entertained by Real Deal, I amused myself dreaming up a much more engaging versions of the said table.

“Where can we get a log?” I asked himself at last, interrupting Mr Dickinson and his diverting skin.

Several drawings (ONE log/leg not four) and trips to garden centres (too small) , local farms (too triangular), websites (too expensive) later we eventually located the perfect log and carted it, suspension groaning, home in the boot, unable to contain ourselves until it dried out (about two years judging by the size of it) and set it, taking a lump out of the laminate floor in the process,  in pride of place and topped it with a glass … er top.  If a little wonky, it looked fab.

For the next few weeks we admired our perfectly wonderful wonky table until, passing through the lounge on the way to Asda for wine, we noticed a minor addition to the interesting bark,

“Aw cute,” me of course, “it’s got a little mushroom on it,”

and carried on, wine taking obvious precedence over mushrooms.   No exaggeration, over the next few days the cute little mushroom grew, fascinated photos being replaced with alarmed apprehension, to monstrously epic proportions until it had outgrown the log and the glass top and was heading for the couch.

On its final attached day, having shot multitudinous black spores all over the white couch and unfortunate dog, it was sliced off and hauled to work to liven up the day of weary colleagues who, no doubt, were keen to share helpful suggestions of bran transplants.

We should have gone to Ikea.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Turkish Dislike

Vol 32 Turkish Dislike        


Loads of folks, and you might be one of them, adore Turkey and return there time and again, but we, on holiday, childless for the first time and out of our European comfort zone, couldn’t adjust. 

First off, there’s the issue of not putting the paper down the loo.  Don’t they realise that, since you were trained around the age of two that, try as you might, it’s impossible NOT TO?    Even if you’re only ten now, you’ve already had eight years’ experience. Try it.  Next time you nip for a wee, try to stop your hand automatically transporting your tissue to the toilet.  If nothing else, you might remember this and smile. 

Anyway, midway through the fortnight, during a heatwave over and above the normally scorching 30 degrees, we were feeling fairly miserable for a myriad of reasons not the least of which because we’d got the trots.  Looking back at photos, we’re easily spotted as the ones with skinny chicken legs, fat distended bellies and smiles not reaching our eyes.  Not the best look.  We’d spent too many days, clenching panic-stricken, bather bottoms at the ready, barging off the beach and dragging anyone who dared to hold up the loo out by the hair.

Anyway, on this particular day, we’d taken a coach trip during which there was a leather store detour which we’d swerved (come on Turks, it’s 37 degrees outside – leather?) preferring instead to stay on the bus.  Did our driver have an inkling of events to come when he nonchalantly wapped the coach door firmly shut and nipped off for a swift hashish?  Who knows. 

There are fifty currently recognized endemic species of mosquito in Turkey and, while we steeped unhappily inside with the relentless sun glaring a ferocious furnace through the window, a good number of them - mozzies the size of kebabs - visited my legs again and again taking bite after bite in a pitiless bloodfest that I couldn’t escape. 

Back in the un-airconned room that night, we sweltered our sweaty way through the night as the results of the evil attack set in and I set off walking in ever faster circles in an attempt to outrun the itching, bitching, burning of the enraged molehills, longing for relief.  Near to tears and desperate, I foraged my brain for home-made remedies finally remembering a scene from Friends. 

And so, standing in the bath around 3am, after begging for help from my husband, far from the gift of a cool stream of relief that I’d insanely imagined flowing over my wounds, I discovered, to my horror, that his wee is warm.

P.S.  Just in case you think that’s a handy stand by, I seem to remember now that that’s a salve for jellyfish stings not mozzies.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014


Vol 31 M6


Just curious, is my massive mistake list making you feel slightly superior, your own being less long thus proving once and for all that you are definitively not a moron of my class?  I hope so.

This/these mistake(s) take(s) place on the M6 but first I need to let you know that, though my grandma opined that I was a wonderful driver, sadly she was swerving pretty wide of the mark.  The stereotype woman driver, I can confidently share, was modelled on my good self. 

First off, I can’t go backwards, or more specifically I can engage reverse and travel, but regrettably not to the desired position.  I have lived in this house for fourteen years and, at this precise moment, my car is parked half on the drive half on the grass in a mockingly diagonal direction.  Perhaps my neighbours laugh. 

Predictably then, given my lack of talent, I don’t find motorways agreeable, deficient in those particular brain cells that helpfully compute speed and distance.  It was the epitome of nightmares, back in the day when we couldn’t afford two cars, that I was tasked with the unfortunate job of accompanying himself in the car at four in the morning, on 90 minute journeys up the M6 to Preston in order to drive it back down again myself and enjoy its services for the rest of the day. 

As this was sending my stress levels cataclysmic, I had cunningly invested in a free audio book innocently entitled The Snowman, intriguing strapline reading ‘a little boy sees footprints which disappear - he will never see his mother again’, for the return journey which, in my winsome world at least, would soothe me serenely back down through the motorway mayhem.  Not a chance.

The relentless return journey found me, white-knuckled, shoulders near the ears, grimly ensconced in the inside lane, entombed in a shoddy car, in the dark, in the lashing rain with the driver’s wiperblade flapping about spastically, trapped while the deceitful audio book shrieked mercilessly;

Sh** me!  Sh** me!  Put your ******s ** ** f****** ****!
and I prayed mightily, through self-pitying tears, that no smart, young motorway cop should appear and pull me over.


Tuesday, 18 February 2014


Vol 30  Overshare


Having already outlined an aversion to boats, you’ll not be surprised to hear that I’m also a pretty lousy swimmer in the sense that I’m not enamoured with getting my face wet.  So, if you are unlucky enough to encounter me at the baths or on holiday somewhere warm, I’ll be the one sedately making my way – breast stroke – not a ripple in sight, glaring at any unfortunate who happens to send a stray spray my way.

Anyhow, this mistake took place at the swimming baths between husbands, having been persuaded out with a little Welsh friend not unlike Stacey, of the Gavin and Stacey variety.

“Aw, come on Blod,” she’d urged, “mebbe it’s time to put yourself about a bit again,” and she was right, so I did.

So off we’d gone to the chlorine drenched echoey arena and presently, Welshy being her usual sunny, sociable self, sauntered off perhaps to show off her eye-watering piercing to any that wanted, or not. 

Undeterred, I slid myself, glamorously I felt, in my new red bikini, checking for rogue kids and jumpers-in, into the shallow end.  All clear, I gracefully made my breast stroke way toward the length of the pool mercifully relatively dry.  Toward the middle or so, I spotted a hot bodied lifeguard, aren’t they all, beginning to walk somewhat urgently alongside me and toward the deep end. 
Allowing myself a momentary lapse of concentration in which I imagined him rescuing me from a pirate ship or some sort, encouraged, as I returned from this daydream, realising that now he was raising his eyebrows meaningfully in my direction.  I double checked this of course, glancing round.  Yes, our eyes locked, he was gesturing to me.  Hmm, interesting, I smiled up at him.  Coughing a little he motioned again to me and briefly I considered what I was doing that night just in case, and also how I’d get out of the water with dignity without slithering back in, once I reached him, now delectably directly in front of me. 

“Ahem,” he indicated pointing and I looked down to find one (just one, my God, not even symmetry in my mortification) floating along under my chin, for presumably the length of the pool, one 36DD escaped boob.

Monday, 17 February 2014


How not to make mistakes

 Vol 29 Crisis


I don’t know about you but I’m rubbish in a crisis. I’m not proud, the world needs those assertive sorts who know precisely how to 1. set the world to rights again and 2.  cover their backs so as not to get sued - good luck to them but I am not the same species, I sincerely hope one’s around when I have my own next crisis.  

In a crisis proper, I would probably join in and collapse, haemorrhage or connect the patient incorrectly and incinerate the entire vicinity.  A P.E. teacher once tried to get me signed up on a first aid course but, no doubt encountering my wimpish reputation, wisely gave up.  Once, while spectating at a rugby match, a kiddie over-exuberantly toss tippled over the metal stand and clanged noisily to the floor causing shock and panic throughout the crowd.  Heroically, my other half rushed over to rescue her while I inadvertently burst out laughing.

Anyway, you get the picture.  So, we’ve been called urgently to my dear lovely little mother-in-law’s flowery bungalow where she’s in the throes of her third heart attack. (Just to set your mind at rest, she’s eighty odd now, doing fine and has since had two more heart attacks and a couple of boyfriends)  As she bent, closing her eyes in pain, my other half ringing for an ambulance, I started to panic.  What should I do?  Clearly something needed to be done and I couldn’t just stand here among all the drama.  Poor old Flo let on that she was feeling particularly queasy and I started to work up a sweat of my own.  I felt so useless as my in-laws arrived and busied themselves fetching bowls, sorting an overnight bag, rubbing her back and murmering comforts until the ambulance arrived.  There must be something I could do ...

Finally, as we all made for our cars, the ambulance and the hospital, I spared a last glance at the frantically prepared seven cups of tea standing side by side on the mantelpiece just beginning to form the seven cold tea stains that would remain right there for the next three weeks ...

Just in case you’re wondering, the extra two cups were very considerately, I feel,  made for the ambulance staff.     


Saturday, 15 February 2014


Vol 28 Lowton Rubies part II


Perhaps, out of all of them, this is one of my favourite mistakes, even though it wreaked a deal of fury, there was a certain poetic justice to it.

So, here we are a few weeks down the line with a full team of enthusiastic thus far trainee rugby girls and, amazingly, on the horizon the prospect of a first proper match.

“Yep, I’ve definitely got a girls’ team,” assured Danny, the opposition coach convincingly, during one of the first of many super-long-phone-bill-inducing discussions, “meet us at Higher Fold on Sunday.”

That weekend, somewhat surreptitiously, since some of the girls’ dads were unaware of their daughters’ new found and not exactly genteel pastime, we made our way to the field to finally meet with the underhand Danny and his beefy band of fourteen colossal boys and one female sub, most of which not even of the right age group, never mind the gender.

Following a gritted teeth discussion, while posing for a pre-match photo, the girls valiantly decided nevertheless to play on.     Faced with the likes of Mad Mick - six foot four - it was no surprise that some of them developed elastic legs but determined, they battled angrily on, little Davids facing a gung ho Goliath with the final result a dignity-retaining 24:12.  

That evening, a journalist from the local Reporter phoned to elicit the outcome and finish his write-up and another lengthy chat took place during which he mistakenly (can’t think how that happened) received the impression that the girls had extraordinarily won the match, prompting the impressive, and humiliating for the deceitful Danny and his lads, headline that Friday in pride of front page place;